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The Camel Clutch Blog WWE 2014 Year In Review

December 29, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The World Wrestling Entertainment had an eventful 2014. The WWE saw new stars breakout, a historic result, & one of the most fascinating stories in recent years with one top star quitting and jumping into the world of MMA. Rather than look back myself at the WWE 2014 in review, I am joined by a collection of pro wrestling writers from CamelClutchBlog.com.

WWE Wrestler of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Brock Lesnar. This may not be a popular opinion but I am going with Brock Lesnar for Wrestler of the Year. Yes I know he wrestled a part-time schedule, but look at what he accomplished in just a handful of matches? He not only ended the streak but he destroyed the WWE world champion in the most one-sided match you’ll ever see headline a WWE pay-per-view. Nobody even came close to giving Lesnar a run for the money. Rollins was my initial choice but even he didn’t have victories as historic as Lesnar. Speaking of historic, Lesnar had two historic matches in one year! I know some people will argue the schedule but I can’t think of anyone who had as dominant of a 2014 in the WWE ring as Brock.

Dustin Nichols – Dolph Ziggler. Had he not gone down with an injury early in the year, I think 2014 would have been the year for Daniel Bryan. Having said that, I am going with Dolph Ziggler. After being punished for some untimely (albeit truthful) comments about Randy Orton being boring and holding the roster back, WWE seems ready to forgive and forget and allow Ziggler to be the star we’ve all known he could be for years. Ziggler’s last few months in WWE have been spectacular, with great match after great match, as well as several key, big wins over guys like Luke Harper and Seth Rollins, including being the sole survivor in the main event at this year’s Survivor Series. Not only that, but he has brought a lot of prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship, and with the WWE title being on a part-timer who only works 30 days a year, Ziggler has done what he promised and made the IC title the most important singles belt in the company.

Tom Clark – Dolph Ziggler. Dolph Ziggler is usually the fans’ choice and honestly I have to go with him this time out.  Dean Ambrose had a good year and Seth Rollins did very well but for me, no one was as consistent as Ziggler.  Every time he laces up the boots, he impresses.  Just because he’s not a top guy makes no difference in terms of what he means to that company; Dolph is an absolute workhorse and he gets it done every time out.  He looks more comfortable and more at ease than he perhaps ever has before and if this is what simply allowing a guy to work with little main event expectations is like, then I for one say keep him where he is. He will eventually rise to the top, the guy is too good and he’s too over to be kept down for much longer.

Jeff Peck – Seth Rollins. Heading into 2014, Seth Rollins may have been the least likely guy on The Shield to breakout on his own and now he is by far the best star from The Shield since their split back in June. Rollins how tremendous matches throughout the year with guys like Dean Ambrose & John Cena and now he is poised to be a WWE Champion at some point in 2015. It’s amazing to see how far Seth Rollins has come from Tyler Black in ROH to the star we see each and every week in the WWE.

Atlee Greene – Dean Ambrose. In the wake of Daniel Bryan’s injury in May, no one has captured the imagination of WWE fans more than Dean Ambrose. Seth Rollins, and to an extent, Roman Reigns have had some good matches and fun moments but the lunatic fringe, with his versatile performance on the microphone and in the ring, has proven that in the case of The Shield, the sun of its parts is greater than the whole. Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins also deserve consideration for this honor.

Steve Grossi – Brock Lesnar. Some people are going to think I’m crazy but I’m going with Brock Lesnar for my wrestler of the year.  When I think of the individual that should win this, in my mind, it’s the wrestler who had the biggest year – the wrestler who made the biggest impact.  Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler all had great moments but no one even comes close to the impact Brock made in the ring in 2014.  I hate the idea that he didn’t wrestle enough to win wrestler of the year.  This isn’t football or baseball where stats are compiled.  He works when he works. It’s not about collecting stats to compare against someone else.  With Ziggler’s win at Survivor Series being close, Brock had two wins that are untouchable by anyone else.  Lesnar’s domination of Cena at SummerSlam was unbelievable.  It was the most one-sided beating of Cena’s WWE career.  Brock hit Super Cena with 16 German suplexes, and two F-5’s, pinning Cena clean to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  Four months prior, the thing I never thought would ever happen, happened.  Brock Lesnar did exactly what Paul Heyman said he was going to do, he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania, putting an end to Taker’s 21-match undefeated streak. Those are two moments I never thought I would see and Brock Lesnar did them both in the same year. Hands down the wrestler of the year for 2014.

Danny Bixby – John Cena.John Cena. Let’s go ahead and everyone agree to just disavow me now. My pick is…sigh…John Cena. Ugh, I hate myself for this! But let’s be honest, this year has been pretty much a crapshoot talent-wise. With CM Punk quitting in January, Daniel Bryan getting injured for 6-12 months right after he won the title at Wrestlemania and WWE’s new golden child Roman Reigns being out for a few months this fall, the WWE main event scene has fallen to one guy: John Cena. He has main evented 7 out of 12 PPV’s this year, and been the “2nd main event” for the other 5. Nobody else can boast that. The WWE relies on him to carry the weight of the product, and he does it year after year. 2014 was no different.

David Levin – Daniel Bryan. The rise of Bryan over the course of two years is one of the best stories in wrestling history. It is as important to the business as it was back in the 1970s when it was thought Ric Flair wasn’t worthy enough to hold the belt because Dory Funk and Jack Brisco had better wrestling backgrounds. The cult-like rapport’ Bryan has with the fans from a simple catch phrase – “YES!” – is one for the ages.

Robert Goeman – Seth Rollins. If Daniel Bryan had stayed healthy, this award would have been his. When the Shield broke up this year, Ambrose and Reigns had easy transitions into their face roles. Ambrose became a vengeful psychopath hell bent on destroying Rollins and Reigns…he changed his gear! Rollins became the handpicked golden boy of the Authority and has knocked it out of the park as a cocky little turd. With the sudden disappearance of alleged real world’s champion Brock Lesnar to visit every Jimmy Johns in a goodwill tour to spread the word of Vito Meats, Rollins has settled comfortably into the top heel spot. The highlight of his is of course the excellent Ambrose feud and good to great bouts against the likes of Ziggler and Cena among others. Rollins has cemented himself as the top heel in the company and I really don’t see anybody on the roster unseating him or even challenging him. Of course, I’m not forgetting all of the excellent work Rollins did in the Shield; he just impressed the heck out of me in this role. I honestly thought he would struggle in the role, but Rollins has been a natural in the role.

Chris Skoyles – Dolph Ziggler. Equally revered by casual fans and die-hards alike, Dolph Ziggler -in this writer’s opinion- deserves the nod for Wrestler of the Year not so much for any kayfabe accomplishments, but more for continuing to maintain his status as a firm favourite despite his continual mistreatment at the hands of the WWE machine. Whilst others are held up as bastions of greatness one minute, only to be scorned the next (see: Roman Reigns), Ziggler manages to retain the respect and adulation of fans thanks to his always-on-form work in keeping us entertained.

Eric Darsie – Dean Ambrose. If you told me at the start of 2014 that the Shield will break up and Dean Ambrose would be the guy I was most excited about watching out of the three, I’d laugh at you. When the three broke apart at the end of the spring, all three men jumped up the singles ladder rather quickly and I can see all three men as main eventers in the future, but with Dean Ambrose having a two pay-per-view main events under his belt as a singles star, he’s my wrestler of the year.

WWE Story of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – CM Punk Quitting the WWE and signing with the UFC. I struggled between CM Punk leaving the WWE and going to UFC and the Ultimate Warrior’s return and subsequent passing. With all due respect to the Warrior, I think the CM Punk story was much bigger on so many levels. Never have we had a story where a top guy just walked out of the company, impacting WrestleMania, and going to the UFC all in one year! On top of all of that you have the added element of Punk’s wife still working for the WWE. This is one hell of a story and the recent podcasts and interviews only heated it up again. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again and for me, this was the biggest story of the year in and outside of the ring. How big of a story was this? In a year where the WWE essentially eliminated the pay-per-view model in favor of a network, this story was bigger.

Dustin Nichols – CM Punk quits and signs with UFC. I think there’s really only one story that can earn this award, and that’s CM Punk parting ways with WWE and eventually signing with UFC. Regardless of which side you believe (although Punk’s seems more likely), the fact is that Punk was a major star during his time with WWE, and leaving the company for a variety of reasons was even more major. The split was bitter, and Punk eventually decided to not only not return, but to leave pro wrestling for good, announcing his retirement before the age of 40, something almost unheard of in this sport. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Punk recently signed a major contract with UFC, with both sides likely looking to replicate the success of Brock Lesnar a few years back. Punk is already training for his first fight, and is expected to debut sometime in 2015. Already, speculation is running rampant on not only who Punk will face, but how well he is expected to fare in “the Octagon”. Regardless of what you think of his career move, Punk signing with UFC has the whole sports world talking.

Tom Clark – The CM Punk saga. For me, this has to be the CM Punk saga.  The guy that once stood up for the WWE locker room decided to leave it behind in favor of healing up and trying to have a normal life with his new wife.  It made sense and I for one didn’t hold it against him.  When he finally broke his silence on WWE, everyone lost their minds and when the UFC announcement was made, things got even crazier.  The voice of the voiceless was screaming louder than ever before and he wasn’t even in the ring anymore.  Fans can either hate him or love him but no one deny Punk’s drive to be his own man and not be controlled by anyone else on any level.  We should all be that brave.

Jeff Peck – CM Punk vs. the WWE. From the walkout to the podcast pipebomb to Vince McMahon’s response the CM Punk/WWE saga has dominated headlines throughout of 2014. From rumors of CM Punk being at RAW in Chicago back in March 2014 to rumors of CM Punk being at WrestleMania 30 to rumors of any and every type of return. It’ll be interesting to see what twists it takes heading into 2015 as CM Punk prepares for his UFC debut and if there is any “burying of the hatchet” between he & the WWE.

Steve Grossi – The Ultimate Warrior Returns. The debut of Sting is a very difficult story to pick against but for me, The Ultimate Warrior was the story of 2014.  After a long and ugly feud with Vince McMahon and WWE management that lasted 18+ years, The Ultimate Warrior took his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame with a speech that will never be forgotten.  Then, the night after WrestleMania XXX, he made an epic return to Monday Night Raw with an even more powerful and very eerie speech.  He said, “No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own.  Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat; his lungs breathe their final breath.” It’s almost like he was saying his final farewell.  Then the following day, one of the saddest days I can remember, he passed away.  There is no doubt in my mind that after everything that had happened in the events during WrestleMania weekend, he was happy and finally at peace.  He will forever be one of my all-time favorite wrestlers.  He’s the kind of personality you never forget.  The music, his sprint to the ring, the face paint and one-of-a-kind promos and there’s no question the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will live forever. I couldn’t be happier that he was able to make his return and take his place in the WWE Hall of Fame.

David Levin – CM Punk Walking Out. Punk marched to the beat of his own drum. He walked out and then was fired on his wedding day. Arenas chant his name, hope he will appear in person in a “Sting sitting in the rafters” type scenario.Now, after hearing about how Vince McMahon publically apologized to him for the way he company treated him, to how Punk was never treated properly for MRSA to how he now is property of the UFC, Punk continues to make headline just for the mere fact he is the most polarizing wrestler who has not appeared in a WWE ring in the last 11 months.

Danny Bixby – $9.99! Say it with me: $9.99!!! That’s right, the absolute biggest story of the year was the creation and promotion of the WWE Network. A fan’s wet dream when it comes to watching pro wrestling. You can see every WWE/WCW/ECW ppv that ever existed, along with every new WWE ppv live while they air. I mean really, even if it was current PPV’s, you’re looking at $600 in ppv cable costs…instead of $120 for the year for the Network. That’s a crazy deal. Throw in all the old stuff, the new special content (Countdown, Monday Night War, etc) and every fan has been salivating at this. Hell, it’s worth $9.99 just to be able to watch NXT every week! As time goes on, the future of WWE will rise and fall with the success of the Network. All of their eggs are in this basket. Hopefully it doesn’t get crushed.

Robert Goeman – CM Punk’s Walk Out. This to me was a tough vote because we had the Network launch and it struggle leading to the stock debacle. You had Daniel Bryan cementing himself as the new face of the WWE, to only see his career in doubt. We all know or at-least we thought we knew the story being Punk leaving, sitting out his contract and then seemingly disappearing. Punk had never talked about the walk-out; the WWE seemed to be in radio silence mode and CM Punk became CM Sticky Note. Everybody theorized when Punk would return, then people were happy he was gone, and then everybody wanted him back. We also wondered when Vince would be seen driving a dump truck full of money down to Chicago. The company took pot shots at him in Chicago and Punk to his credit maintained silence. On Thanksgiving weekend, Punk would appear on Colt Cabana’s podcast, revealing

Chris Skoyles – CM Punk and WWE part way. I badly wanted to give this one to the Undertaker’s streak reaching its end. After all, did anything come as far out of the blue as that? Yet ultimately, I have to concede that the Punk/WWE break up earns the win simply because it’s dominated headlines for pretty much the full course of the year. Months after the Straight Edge Superstar’s last appearance in a WWE ring, we were still talking about him online, chanting his name in arenas and wondering what he’d do next. The move to MMA means we’ll still be talking about him long into 2015.

Eric Darsie – CM Punk vs. Vince McMahon. Since he walked out the night after the Royal Rumble, CM Punk was silent until Thanksgiving, when his first part interview with Colt Cabana on Art of Wrestling came out. With the lawsuit and all, he couldn’t come out sooner than he did, but it all made sense after both editions of Art of Wrestling came out. McMahon appearing on the Steve Austin Show with Stone Cold, it appears to me that what Punk mentioned in his two interviews with Cabana opened up a can of worms that the WWE has to close with their doctors, and with CM Punk.

WWE Match of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Team Authority vs. Team Cena (Survivor Series 2014). This was another tough one because I hate to be accused of recency bias but I don’t think there was a match as exciting all year as the Survivor Series 2014 Team Cena vs. Team Authority match. The match was 43 minutes long which has to be the longest WWE PPV main-event in recent years. The match was incredibly dramatic, more so than even Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H. The fans were fantastic as they added an element of excitement to the match rarely seen outside of WrestleMania. The final fifteen minutes were as fun as you will get on a WWE event in 2014. I watched it again before writing this to confirm and it was just as entertaining several weeks later as it was live. I loved this match and the drama that came with it, thus it gets my nod for Match of the Year.

Dustin Nichols – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania 30). Although not the most spectacular match I’ve ever seen, I’m going with Bryan/Orton/Batista at Wrestlemania. Although something of an average triple threat match, the story of Bryan defying the odds and continuing to come back from absolutely everything thrown at him told a great story and made the match (as well as the payoff) completely worthwhile. Andre/Hogan at Wrestlemania III wasn’t the greatest of matches, but everyone remembers it because of the great build and the fantastic story. I think the same will be said for Bryan finally reaching the pinnacle of WWE in front of a crowd 100% behind him.

Tom Clark – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania 30). This one has to be Daniel Bryan’s title victory over Randy Orton and Batista at WrestleMania 30.  It may not get the nod overall in terms of being a technical masterpiece but it was the main event of WWE’s biggest night of the year.  Combine that with the fact it was Bryan’s ascension to the top and it meant so much more.  There has arguably not been a guy more deserving and more suited to fill that spot in recent history than Daniel Bryan and I’m very happy that he got his Mania moment.  It was the biggest night of his career and it came on the night when the company made the most money.  For me, that’s an epic match that’s hard to top.

Jeff Peck – Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Takeover – May 29th, 2014). This may come as a shock to some but it really stands out to me as the best match in a WWE ring from this past year. Charlotte and Natalya took the Flair/Hart rivalry to the next level back in May 2014 by putting together one of the best women’s wrestling matches I have seen in some time. The chemistry between the two of them is amazing, both are extremely athletic and they brought a emotional investment into the match.

Atlee Greene – Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Monday Night Raw 8/18/14). Their match at Summer Slam was match of the night and they upped the ante tenfold the next night on Raw. This was 25 minutes of televised mayhem that engulfed the Thomas & Mack Center and completely captivated the viewers at home. Nothing was wasted and everything meant something, unlike most Falls Count Anywhere matches, which are simply done for shock and awe. The finish where Rollins curb stomped Ambrose’s head through the cinder blocks was perfectly executed and heightened the drama of an already intense feud.

Steve Grossi – Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber is my choice for match of the year.  There are many ingredients that make for a great match and this one had it all.  All six members of these factions are spectacular performers and we are seeing that play out today.  The buildup for this match was great.  The promos and altercations were all fun and highly entertaining.  The anticipation was unbelievable for them to finally have the match and that was evident the night of Elimination Chamber. The second these two groups entered the ring the crowd was jacked up.  They were chanting, “this is awesome” before the match even started.  Of course the contest lived up to the hype.  This faction war had Dean Ambrose go missing, Seth Rollins flying everywhere including through an announce table, excitement, unpredictability and most importantly a definitive finish. There were a ton of great matches in 2014 but this one tops them all.

Eric Darsie – The Shield def. Evolution (WWE Payback). One of the matches I believe put over the Shield, especially the night after they’d break apart, was their clean sweep against Evolution at WWE Payback in a no disqualification elimination match. There weren’t any falls until the last minutes of the match and WrestleMania main eventers put over the new stars, what better match to put over the new singles stars?

Danny Bixby – Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. This match only barely squeaked out ahead of The Shield vs Evolution at Payback mostly because of the storyline surrounding it. This was the major turning point for the Shield. They were now full out babyfaces after being unstoppable heels since their debut. And the fans were dying for it! This match gave people what they wanted: A compelling reason to fight (Wyatts cost the Shield a shot at the title in the chamber) and 6 performers who gave everything they had to the match. Even Erick Rowan, the weakest link in the bunch, looked legitimate in this contest. The only thing that may have made it better would be putting Ziggler & Cesaro into it somehow too.

David Levin – Team Authority vs. Team Cena (Survivor Series 2014). The WWE is finally allowing more wrestlers to move forward, leaving John Cena’s spot vulnerable. Ziggler coming forward did a few things to the landscape of the WWE. It opened the door for someone to be the go-to face in the company. It also meant the remnant of The Authority have two heads to chop when it comes to getting even. Ziggler is one of the best performers to come through the WWE in the past decade.

Robert Goeman – Brock Lesnar vs John Cena (SummerSlam 2014). Before you begin to grab from that box of rotten fruit with my name written on it, let me explain. Were there better matches from a wrestling standpoint? Yes, but from a story standpoint nothing will touch this. A legitimate big fight atmosphere not seen since Hogan vs Vader at SuperBrawl 1995, coupled with the biggest curveball in WWE history as Lesnar just runs through a fifteen time champion with ease. This is a match with so many great moments: The F-5 right away, Lesnar’s facial expressions, the suplexes, Charles Robinson in general, that Let’s Go Cena kid, Heyman being Heyman, and even Cena’s last ditch moves to slay the monster. Those two moments will always stand out for me, the outta nowhere AA and Lesnar sitting up like The Underaker with the grin and laugh like it was nothing. When Cena locked in the Hail Mary STF, I had the same dread that many fans felt as Lesnar would tap out and Cena would win. It’s one of the best STF’s Cena ever did, but the moment of Lesnar breaking out with ease, pounding on Cena, dragging Cena and hitting with F-5 to mercifully end it all was beautiful.

Chris Skoyles – Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H – WrestleMania 30. A tough one this one. For many, the subsequent main event, with Bryan finally lifting the title after a dramatic outing with Orton and Batista may be the better of the former American Dragon’s Wrestlemania 30 matches. Given the drama involved and the feel-good finale, it certainly deserves to be up there, but for this fan, the opening contest just pips it to the post. Bryan stood toe-to-toe with the man who had tormented him for months and took him out at the end of one of the best ‘Mania opening matches in 20 years.

WWE Angle of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority. In a perfect world this angle would have paid dividends right after WrestleMania. Unfortunately injuries to Bryan prevented the angle from truly paying off. Ironically this great angle would have not even been possible if it weren’t for CM Punk walking out and leaving Triple H without an opponent for Mania. Regardless, by the time this match got to Mania the feud was red hot and Bryan was finally given the big WrestleMania push we hoped to see.

Dustin Nichols – Brock Lesnar ends the Streak. Unfortunately, the angles this year weren’t all that great, mainly due to the shows being almost completely dominated by the Authority vs. whoever every single week. While the angle did provide some great moments, it got very stale very quickly, as any angle of this nature does. If I had to pick one, however, I am going to go with something most nearly everyone else hated, and that’s Brock Lesnar conquering the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. I have been begging for this to happen for quite some time, but never had much faith it would happen. While Lesnar wouldn’t be my first choice, seeing him absolutely destroy the Undertaker and cleanly pin his shoulders to the mat was phenomenal. Follow that up with Lesnar obliterating John Cena in a completely lopsided affair, and Lesnar became one of my favorite performers of the year, even if he did work only part-time.

Tom Clark – Brock Lesnar Dominates the WWE. Brock Lesnar owned WWE in 2014 due to his manhandling of John Cena at SummerSlam and because of his shocking win over The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.  His return to the company and these two events are enough for me to consider it the angle of the year.  The fact that WWE would allow a guy that’s not even part time to first conquer The Deadman at Mania then destroy Cena for the championship is so surprising that it has to get the nod here. That he spent four months off of TV with no title defense is just icing on the cake; it may not be the popular choice but for me, this was definitely the angle of the year.  And no, I’m not happy about it either.

Jeff Peck – Seth Rollins turns on the Shield. I’ve said that Seth Rollins turning his back on The Shield could be the “Shawn Michaels super kick to Marty Jannetty through the barber shop window” moment circa 2014. It came out of no where and it was with someone fans would least likely expect turn his back as a heel. Just 6+ months later from the angle and we could be looking at a moment that defines the WWE for years or decades to come.

Eric Darsie – Brock Lesnar being the 1 in 21-1. Who ever thought going into WrestleMania XXX that the Undertaker will take a lose at WrestleMania, especially to another part timer like Brock Lesnar? With how Brock has been booked for the rest of the year, and with his MMA credentials, I don’t know who’d be better to be the one to end the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Brock made John Cena look like a jobber at SummerSlam to become the new WWE Champion, and coming off of the victory at WrestleMania, Brock can not be stopped!

David Levin – Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority. It has been NWO-ish in how the Authority had built so much momentum, beating the hell out of Bryan. It reminded me of Lex Luger, Randy Savage and others getting their asses licked each week. The “B+” angle works great with Bryan, the underdog and the bearded, smallish wrestler with a heart as big as Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit combined.

Robert Goeman – The Rise of the YES Movement Going into WrestleMania XXX. Hands up, who thought that the WWE was going to screw this up? After so many screw-ups when it came to booking Daniel Bryan in summer/fall/winter, I surely thought that Bryan would lose again in 18 seconds at The Show of Shows. I can admit that I was wrong and there was some really good stuff in the weeks leading into Mania. The Occupy Raw segment was well done and the beat down angle, while predictable was executed so well. Credit obviously goes to Triple H and Bryan for playing their respective roles very well, but Stephanie McMahon was great in this angle, and they’d try to do the same thing with Steph and Brie….but that didn’t work obviously. It’s a great angle and it lead to The Miracle on Bourbon Street, which combined my love for Triple H doing the job and Bret Hart’s WrestleMania X journey.

Chris Skoyles – Daniel Bryan – The Underdog Prevails. Though Daniel Bryan – WWE Champion may not have lasted long, everything before that big Wrestlemania moment made for compelling television. What really made this one stand out was that it perfectly weaved on-screen drama with fans’ real-life frustration over Bryan’s push to keep us hooked from start to finish. Throw in Triple H at his most heelish best, memorable moments like the ‘Occupy Raw’ segment, and we’ve got our angle of the year.

WWE Breakout Star of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Seth Rollins. The WWE breakout wrestler of the year is probably someone I would have never predicted a year ago. Daniel Bryan was on his way and I think Dean Ambrose could have been bigger, but the WWE creative team did less to hasten Rollins’ ascension than anyone else. He went from a cog on a three man team to being the number one full-time heel under Brock Lesnar in a year. I almost gave Rollins Wrestler of the Year but his record just didn’t quite measure up. He has no real big victories to speak of and nothing that even comes close to dwarfing the end of the streak. Rollins has a big chance to be Wrestler of the Year in 2015, but I can’t think of anyone who took as big of a leap in such a short time in 2014 or any recent year than Seth Rollins.

Dustin Nichols – Damien Mizdow. While the angles in the company were kind of stale this year, there was no shortage of breakout stars. All three members of the Shield, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper could all lay claim to this award. However, I’m going to go a different route and go with Damien Mizdow. Mizdow is on the verge of finally becoming a major star, and everyone knows it. After having a very lackluster couple of years in the company, the former Damien Sandow got slapped with a gimmick that should have killed him for good, that being the Miz’s stunt double. Instead, Mizdow decided to have fun with the gimmick, including coming up with the idea of mimicking all of Miz’s moves and actions in the ring himself, and the fans have completely latched onto it. What was originally an idea to get Miz over (it’s never going to happen, WWE. Accept it) has instead breathed completely new life into Mizdow, legitimately making him one of the most over wrestlers on the roster. It’s only a matter of time before WWE splits this team up and finally starts pushing Mizdow onto bigger and better things, something they’re already in the process of teasing.

Jeff Peck – Rusev. When the WWE first debuted Rusev as a Russian star I groaned because it was a gimmick that was down 20-25 years ago, yet the WWE has made it entertaining and gotten it over in 2014. Rusev is a force in the ring with a ton of momentum heading into 2015 and having Lana as his mouthpiece has made him into a superstar that I’ve grown to enjoy on a weekly basis. I do believe that 2015 will be a big year in longevity for Rusev as I think he can clearly be a force in the WWE for years to come, if booked correctly.

Steve Grossi – Dean Ambrose. I’ve been saying this for months now and I am going to continue to say it, Dean Ambrose is currently the best thing going in the WWE today.  When it was time for The Shield to split up, it was clear he was not in their main event plans.  Roman Reigns was handpicked to be the next baby face star and with Seth Rollins winning Money in the Bank, he’s clearly in position to make a huge impact in the future.  But then Ambrose was given the opportunity to stand out and that’s exactly what he did.  He’s great on the microphone, excellent in the ring and you never know what you are going to get with him.  Whether it’s ripping apart a dummy in the ring, destroying the Money in the Bank briefcase, jumping out of a present or the back of a car, he’s taking the fun factor to another level.  In this case, it’s not all about getting the win in the ring.  The Lunatic Fringe has been a part of some of the best programs of the year, most notably against Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt and in my opinion; those feuds were great because of Ambrose. No question he’s the guy to keep an eye on in 2015.

David Levin – Bray Wyatt. Bray Wyatt. While we expected the members of the Shield to dominate this first half of the year, Wyatt came in a revolutionized the oddity in wrestling again. Not since the days of Kevin Sullivan and Adrian Street have we witnessed such a dramatic entrance in the business and the feuds he has already assumed with Kane, John Cena, Chris Jericho and now Dean Ambrose make him as epic as the WWE wanted him to be.  

Robert Goeman – Luke Harper. While Harper had some good performances in 2013, I felt that he took off this year with some great moments in the Shield/Wyatt Family series. Harper also had some great matches against Cena during the Wyatt feud and stood out in the blow-off to the Uso’s feud at Battleground. Harper also had some good showings against Chris Jericho in the Jericho/Wyatt feud and capped off 2014 with a show-stealing ladder match against Dolph Ziggler at TLC. Harper’s future is bright and looks to be the next great big man that the company has desperately looked for since The Undertaker started to slow down. Hopefully, Harper will have a strong showing in the Rumble match, heck I would even peg him being in the final six at-least.

Eric Darsie – Seth Rollins. Along with Dean Ambrose, I was surprised to see how great Seth Rollins was by the end of 2014 as a singles star. I never thought Rollins would be as great of a heel when he was a part of the Shield and if you told me back at the start of 2014 that Rollins will be one of the top heels by the end of the year, I’d be surprised. I can’t wait to see where 2015 takes him.

Chris Skoyles – Dean Ambrose. Another tough one. In terms of in-ring excellence, others may have shone brighter than Ambrose, and though he was already well entrenched in the WWE system along with the shield, it was in 2014 that he proved he could hold his own as a top-tier solo star.

Krysta Ibach – Luke Harper. I am trying to decide who the bigger break out star is; Dean Ambrose…Seth Rollins…or Luke Harper. (Cue chorus in the peanut gallery….HARPER???). Yes Harper. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have just expanded exponentially since the implosion of the SHIELD. (Reigns not so much; he needs to lose the strong but silent type image; he was much better when he was that flirty, cheeky man.) Their promos for the most part are consistent and spot on; their in-ring work just gets better and better. Ambrose is train wreck riveting; you just can’t look away when he’s on. Even that spot with the mannequin where Ambrose went all out; it was a strange spot but still we were riveted. Rollins too has his moments where you just don’t want to miss anything he might do, the high spots where he drops off ledges. Their feud is one that WWE can revisit time and again and the IWC may never tire of it, their chemistry is awesome. Some of the angles have been shit, but that’s more creative than talent. And Harper…as one of the big men of the company, Harper can pull off moves that one would expect from a smaller competitor (I’m still talking about THAT first hurricanrana.) It’ll be interesting to see where they take Harper now that he has been “Set Free” from the Wyatt Family. I can see him having a great singles career…if they don’t shank it like they have with others *cough* Drew McIntyre (Drew Galloway) *cough*

You can get more of Danny than you can handle at his website www.stillrealtome.com. He also co-hosts the best pro wrestling podcast in the world, Still Real To Me, subscribe on iTunes www.stillrealtome.com/itunes. Follow his show on twitter @SRTMpodcast

Tom Clark is the host of Tom Clark’s Main Event podcast, a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a Writer for Whatculture.com

Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/.

Steven Grossi is a digital video producer who likes to write a little. He’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hardcore MMA fan and a total wrestling nerd. He usually has a strong opinion on anything combat sports related so give him a follow on twitter @SteveOGrossi.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman.

Chris Skoyles is a writer and wrestling fan currently on a mission to review every WWE pay per view from Wrestlemania 1 – 30. Those reviews, and more, can be found on the Retro Pro Wrestling blog (http://allprowrestlingreviews.blogspot.com). Chris tweets at @Retropwrestling.

Jeff Peck is the co-host for the wrestling podcast, “The Still Real to Us Show” and the podcast, “The Bower Show.” You can download the shows over at TheBowerShow.com or WrestleChat.net. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter: @TheJeffPeck and “like” his Facebook pages: Facebook.com/TheStillRealToUsShow and Facebook.com/BowerShow

Atlee Greene is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and host of The Bodyslam Podcast. His other work can be found at Gerweck.net, ForcesofGeek.com, Whatculture.com and his own personal blog. He can be found on Twitter @MidnightLogicGo

Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

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Shawn Michaels Reveals Timing Behind Decision To End Undertaker’s Streak

May 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The biggest story of the year thus far remains the end of The Undertaker’s WWE WrestleMania streak. Jim Ross and Shawn Michaels are the latest to offer up their insight, with HBK unraveling a big piece of the booking mystery.

Michaels is probably only second to Mick Foley in arguably being Undertaker’s greatest rival in his WWE career. Michaels knows him well inside and outside of the ring. Michaels solved a big piece of the puzzle on Jim Ross’ latest podcast when he revealed exactly when the decision was made to end the streak.

You know as well as I do that one person and one person alone makes that call. As much as everyone wants to think other people have some say so in that, they don’t. I was stunned like a lot of people. I was there when it all happened. I know what happened. I make the calls around here in my house. That’s the way things go. I’m sure in Vince’s mind, he’s got a reason. That’s just a decision that’s made. One person makes it. And everyone has to abide by it. The reasons for that, I don’t know. I don’t know, you don’t know. I’m sure he does. Like Mark said a number of times, ‘I’ve got the worst record with that man’.

That paints a whole new picture on the match. Maybe the biggest question coming out of the match was exactly when the decision was made to end the streak. Dave Meltzer revealed many details coming out of the match but he never reported exactly when the decision was made. Meltzer has remarked that ending the streak was not the original plan going in, something that HBK now confirms.

Michaels’ timeline brings into the question of the final RAW before WrestleMania. Meltzer reported that up until that RAW, Vince had a strict edict that Undertaker was not to be touched by Brock Lesnar in angles building the match. Brock certainly touched the Dead Man on that final RAW so it was always my hunch that the decision to end the streak actually came on that night.

Looking back on it and accounting for this new information, I would not be surprised if Vince booked the angle on RAW to get an idea of how Undertaker could handle the physicality of Lesnar. Maybe Vince wanted to see how Undertaker looked after some action? Many remarked about how much older Undertaker looked when he returned on RAW to kick off the angle. Maybe Vince felt the same way and started to rethink the booking at that point, not necessarily making the official call until the event.

I am still not entirely convinced that we have seen the last of Undertaker. I wrote a blog last week pondering the idea of a Taker vs. Lesnar rematch. Most fans thought I was crazy but I still think that if Taker could go, that is the match to book. Otherwise I am not sure why you’d want Undertaker wrestling at Mania. Of course this is all contingent on his health which will likely be the determining factor in the equation.

Listen to the entire podcast, which is fantastic right here.

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WrestleMania 30 meets Weekend at Bernie’s

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

It has been just over a week since the streak of the Undertaker officially came to an end, and I am still in a bit of shock. Like many in the WWE Universe I was expecting the Undertaker to continue his ridiculous streak of only wrestling once a year for many years to come. I know that I am in the minority but I was ready to see the streak end once and for all. Let’s face it, the Undertaker should have walked away after he failed to walk out of the arena after his first win against HHH.

I don’t think it was work and if it was it didn’t make any sense. It would have made for a perfect moment. There were no more legends from the Undertakers era left to beat, and he could have retired on top of the mountain. I guess maybe there was a little more money to be made so instead of doing what was best for fans, young talent, and probably the Undertaker’s long term health they did what was best for business which was make more money off a guy who was already dead.

The WWE and the Undertaker (he has some creative pull) decided to show Weekend at Bernie’s instead of an epic match between two superstars. The dead man being thrown around the ring looking very alive at certain points of the night, but really just being held up by a few strings. There were moments where he looked like the Undertaker, just long enough to make you believe what you were seeing was the real thing. However it was a façade because the Undertaker has been dead for a while now. What we saw on Sunday was a memory of time when The Deadman ruled the ring. The worst part about it for me was I think that the WWE wasted an opportunity to end the streak in real epic dramatic fashion. As much I have wanted to see an end to the streak, this ending left me feeling empty and unresolved.

Brock Lesnar is crazy good and pound for pound might be the best wrestler in the company. Brock Lesnar is the prototype of what the WWE wants. There is no other wrestler like him, he is the Lebron James of the WWE. Sure there are other behemoths like Batista and Big E, but they are still second to Lesnar. So in some ways it is not that farfetched that Lesnar could defeat the streak. You might be asking yourself, “If Brock is so good, what is the problem?” Well from my vantage point I see couple.

  1. Brock Lesnar is a part time wrestler who doesn’t deserve to have “defeat the streak” on his resume. The streak represents the Undertakers longevity of dominance and it should be broken by a guy that fans believe can match that longevity of dominance. It shouldn’t just be who the best is right now, but who one of the best is of all time. I am not saying that Cena is the perfect match but he has the longevity and the battle scars to be able to go to the limit with Taker. It is a believable story and even though fans would be upset, Cena is the type of superstar that deserves to have that on his resume. Cena is there every week, even though he is the top dog. He even comes to Smackdown. Brock Lesnar beat the Undertaker, bragged about it on RAW and then walked out of wrestling for a while. As a fan, why would I want that guy to be the man who broke the streak?
  2. It was really poor story telling all the way up to the match which happened to be extremely predictable except for the Undertaker losing. There are a lot of other superstars that Brock could have challenged at WrestleMania that would have made more sense and made for better matches. Big E or Batista might have made for compelling TV, in a match that is defined by incredible strength. Mr. WrestleMania vs The Streak was a great story and it made totally sense from start to finish and when it ended there was closure. There was a reason for that match, just like there was a reason for a match with HHH and even a reason for a match with CM Punk. There was no reason for a match with Brock Lesnar, but the WWE forced it anyway because it was WrestleMania XXX and the Rock wasn’t competing.

I guess to wrap it all up I am just really confused still in complete shock. Brock didn’t beat the Undertaker. He beat an old guy who looked a lot like the Undertaker and then he grabbed his bag and left. I know that the company likes to throw the fans for a loop and maybe that is what happened here. I just think they got it wrong and tried to for something that wasn’t there. I bet the WWE can still hear the sound of defining silence from the crowd after that match and I think that are going to hear it for a while.

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Inside The End Of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak

April 15, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The pro wrestling world continues to remain in a state of shock at Brock Lesnar ending the streak. Yet now that a week has passed, what may be more fascinating than the end of an era may be the details surrounding this shocking result.

Over a week later and most wrestling fans are still in shock over the end of the streak. There is almost this sense of denial among those fans, some who believe that the result was more of a mistake than something planned. Unfortunately for them and any other doubters, the end of the streak is real and it was absolutely planned going into Mania.

Dave Meltzer of F4Wonline.com has done a tremendous job in peeling back the layers of this story and providing his readers with all of the juicy details that led up to this moment in history. I am not going to repeat word for word what Meltzer has reported, but I will take a look at some of the more interesting aspects of his investigation.

  • As of the last Monday Night RAW prior to WrestleMania known as the “go-home show”, the plan was for the streak to continue. The decision to put Lesnar over happened sometime between the end of RAW and the start of the match. This probably explains the criticism behind the build to the match. Many including myself thought the build was weak, made even more unimpressive when you put it into perspective with how the match played out.
  • Vince McMahon mandated that the Undertaker not be touched during the build to the match. It wasn’t until that final RAW where Vince lifted that decree and allowed Lesnar to get heat on the Undertaker. The cynic in me thinks that Vince changed his mind about the finish sometime over that weekend and changed his mind to allow Undertaker to get heat on Lesnar, knowing Lesnar would be the one going over.
  • Very few people in the company knew about the finish of the match including referee Chad Patton. I understand why this would be such a highly guarded secret but not telling the referee may be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. The finish could have been an absolute disaster if the referee didn’t rely on his instincts and count to three. Strangely enough the oddsmakers (yes there are WWE odssmakers) shifted the odds in favor of Brock being the favorite over the weekend so someone leaked the result. The idea that the referee was given the wrong finish of one of the most historical matches of our lifetime is ludicrous.
  • Meltzer believes that the only way Vince would have booked this finish was if he felt that the Undertaker was retiring after the show. Nobody has confirmed whether or not the Undertaker has indeed retired, although it was certainly alluded to by the announcers after the match. However, Meltzer feels that something must have given Vince this vibe in order to make the move. Looking back I wonder if the same finish would have been booked last year if Vince felt Undertaker was wrapping it up at 29?
  • The Undertaker personally picked Brock to end the streak in 2011. Remember when the two shot an angle at a UFC event in which Lesnar and Taker had a confrontation? Vince, Lesnar, and Taker were all on board with the move but it was UFC president Dana White who refused to allow Brock to wrestle while under contract.

I found all of these tidbits interesting, especially the idea that the finish was changed a week before the show. The inside stories and the in-ring result will make this one a hard one to beat for the biggest pro wrestling in-ring story of 2014.

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WrestleMania 30: General Thoughts after a Night of Excellence

April 08, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan is best for business.

In the end, WrestleMania delivered on its promise to make wrestling matter. From the beginning when The Rock, Hulk Hogan, and Steve Austin were all in the ring together, the WWE took it up a few notches for the good of the company and the good of business. The new “Era” that I spoke of over the weekend is about to begin, and not a moment too soon.

There are certain definable moments in sports, entertainment and life that shape what we witness. The loss by Undertaker was the right move at the wrong time with the wrong wrestler. How the writers are going to use this move as a stepping stone for a part-time wrestler is beyond me, but as someone pointed out to me over the course of the last 12 hours, you could see Bryan try to take the WWE World Title from Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules, a pay-per-view event that is designed for The Beast to divide and conquer.

The only way defeating the greatest performer in WrestleMania history is to have him take over the company and destroy everyone in his wake.

Unfortunately, Daniel Bryan – the man who divided and conquered The Authority, is his first conquest in this approach. The new Attitude Era in the WWE is alive and well and we have Paul Heyman and a very unlikeable beast to thank for it.

The defeat of Undertaker wasn’t the only thing that made this pay-per-view event one of the best, but it was the most dynamic. Here are some other thoughts now that I have had sleep and I can process what I saw Sunday night…

The match between Triple H and Daniel Bryan was the best match of the night

The COO of the WWE and the new WWE World Champion put on a display for the ages. There have been shows where Triple H comes out and wrestles – but this is one where the forty-something legend came out and performed. I was worried when this was the first match it may become a squash match for Triple H to get to the main event. It was brutal and it was AWESOME.

Cesaro was the big winner

Not that he just won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but the fact he changed his name, looks like he is separating himself from Zeb Colter and the fact the fans love watching his brute power. Cesaro is the best pure athlete in the WWE right now. I would love to see him in a program with Sheamus or Dean Ambrose. There is so much potential in this guy – a throwback to how wrestling should be done.

AJ Lee and the Divas Title

It’s a joke. Next question, please.

What happens to Randy Orton and Batista?

Not really sure on this one. I thought Batista would win the World Title then lose on Monday night to Bryan. Now, I see a reformation of Evolution of sorts between the two men and Triple H and Brock Lesnar possibly being the fourth member. Lesnar wins the title at Extreme Rules.

What happens to John Cena?

We now know a few things. Cena would not put Bray Wyatt over. WE know he is a selfish prick when it comes to doing honors. Cena may never headline WrestleMania again, but he will continue to fight the good fight for the good of the company that still uses him as its cash cow. It should also be interesting to see if the WWE now uses other stars (Cesaro, The Shield) to market the product. And when all else fails, there is always The Miz to help market the WWE.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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WrestleMania 30 Winners and Losers

April 08, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE WrestleMania XXX is now in the history books, and while it was an overall disappointment (worth the $9.95 on the WWE Network but not the $50+ on pay-per-view), there were more than a few memorable moments. There were big winners and even bigger losers.

Because it would take a tremendous amount of time and space to go through each good point and each bad point of the latest “Clash of the Immortals,” I will whittle it down to four topics – the biggest push, the end of a push, the biggest winner and the biggest loser.

The biggest push
The push of the night had to be Cesaro winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Everyone called The Big Show a heavy (no pun intended) odds-on favorite to win the inaugural event because he always had been likened to the immortal Andre. But in the end, it was the “Swing Man from Switzerland” that wound up carrying the trophy out of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Cesaro’s immediate future should see him break from the Real Americans and strike out on a solo career as the company’s newest babyface. He could wind up the top babyface on the midcard by the end of the summer and playing an even more prominent role in WrestleMania 31 next March.

Did anyone else besides me notice the similarity between the end of that match and the end of the famous Andre-Hulk Hogan WrestleMania III match decades ago? In that match, Andre – who had never been bodyslammed before – let Hogan pick him up and drop him in the middle of the ring.

The Andre battle royal ended with Cesaro picking up Big Show and not slamming him but depositing him over the top rope. Big Show has been slammed before, but I sensed this one was a special one because it happened in a contest memorializing Andre and conjured up images of that famous slam 27 years ago.

The end of a push
This award goes to Bray Wyatt. Even though he had a pretty good match with John Cena, the fact that he came out on the short end of the stick should signal a drop in his rating, maybe not down to the midcard but no longer near the top of the uppercard heel

Cena is the second face character after Daniel Bryan to stand up to Wyatt’s mind tricks and beat him down. While no one really expected to think Wyatt would actually win, there always was the possibility that this feud could have carried on for several more weeks, maybe even into one of the summertime pay-per-views. With minions Erick Rowan and Luke Harper at ringside, everyone could have rightfully expected to see either or both of them charge the ring and cause a disqualification. As it stood, their intervention in the match was relatively minimal.

WWE Creative does not need to tear Wyatt down and rebuild him because the character still is one of the most unique heels to grace the ring since Kevin Sullivan.They might, however, want to insist of having Wyatt keep at least his upper arms covered while in the ring. It’s hard to believe him as having any type of Messianic complex when he clearly has a tattoo of Jesus’ crucifixion on his left arm.

The biggest winner
Hands down, this has to be Daniel Bryan. Bryan’s character overcame all kinds of odds and roadblocks thrown at him by The Authority and emerged victorious as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

It will be interesting to see how WWE Creative handles his storylnes from here on out. I knew he would beat Triple H in the “qualifying match” at the beginning of the night because WWE would not have thrown three heels into the main event of its signature PPV. But I was surprised that Triple H did not invoke executive privilege and turn the main event from a Triple Threat into a Fatal 4-Way.

That leads to almost certainty that the feud between The Authority and Bryan is not quite over. It will simmer over the next few months and probably culminate with a Bryan-Triple H main event for the championship at SummerSlam 2014 in August. That would bring the feud full circle since it began at SummerSlam 2013.

I was disappointed, though, that WWE did not send out Brie Bella to celebrate her fiance’s victory to close the night.

The biggest loser
It is easy to pick The Undertaker as the night’s biggest loser because The Streak came to an end. We all knew it had to come to an end sometime, but I honestly thought he would have to eventually face John Cena before The Streak died.

The fact that it ended at the hands of a goon like Brock Lesnar was the most shocking part. Reports have circulated that even though Undertaker may have been injured during the match, it had no effect on the outcome. WWE is known for its storyline swerves, but this one has to rank at the top of that list.

But there also was another biggest loser Sunday night…and he did not even wrestle. Sting was supposed to be coming to WWE for one match only, and that was against The Undertaker…preferably in a WrestleMania match involving The Streak. Now that The Streak has gone by the boards, one cannot help but wonder if Sting’s career with WWE will follow suit.

Bill Atkinson is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and the owner of WrestleWatch, a family-friendly wrestling web site. Follow Bill on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963 and visit WrestleWatch at www.wrestlewatch.com.

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WrestleMania 30 Firmly Turns The Rusty WWE Wheel

April 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The braintrust at World Wrestling Entertainment probably wouldn’t know literary symbolism from an Irish whip reversal, but sometimes, their presentation magnetically drags the pieces into place for a picture of change.

Or maybe WWE intentionally painted the strokes they painted at WrestleMania, hoping that we’d tilt our heads, and see the same meaning that they’d brushed on that canvas.

When WWE Network launched on February 24, you and I and millions of others (after enough lags to win the Network a job working for a transit authority) were besieged with a maelstrom of yesterday. WWE makes their money off the past. As ESPN Classic, The Angry Video Game Nerd, and every production company that lives to pump out remakes can tell you, there’s dollars and cents in yesterday.

WWE knows this, but at WrestleMania XXX, they flipped the calendar forward for a change.

For one thing, did you know that WrestleMania XXX is the first Mania since 2000 (fourteen years!) to have nobody over the age of 40 win? Undertaker turned 40 in 2005, so you can write off 21 onward through 29. 20 had Flair win, 19 had Hogan, 18 had DDP, 17 had Iron Sheik (in an old-timer’s match, but still).

Just how many 40-year-olds did this year’s show throw out there?

You can start with the super-duper-mondo-extended intro in which Hulk Hogan couldn’t remember the venue’s name (though his favorite 1980s sitcom is still Super Spoons). He, The Rock, and Stone Cold shared the stage, WWE’s three greatest stars of all time, in a surreal love-in that, while excessive, was still more fun than Rock’s “when I say Yabba!” bit three years ago.

Hogan, Rock, and Austin jerking the curtain. Sure, it wasn’t a match, but other than one comedy bit with Hogan later on, the three took their bow, and exited stage left, as they’ve done to end eras prior.

As for the elders that donned tights (or ‘work slacks’, in the case of a certain pencil-pushing demon), I count Triple H, The Undertaker, Kane, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Goldust, The Big Show, and Mark Henry. You can also add Batista and Great Khali, but for this point, they can take a seat.

Those first eight names, do they look familiar? Maybe you were like me, sitting there in junior high and high school, watching them on Monday nights as they shoveled coal into the furnace of the locomotive that demolition derby’d WCW into oblivion.

Yep, Attitude relics, all of them. None of them were victorious.

The King of Kings laid down first, performing in his best non-Undertaker match in at least six or seven years. Daniel Bryan needed the rub if he was going to take the torch, and a great match was had. As much as Stephanie irks me, I was glad she was at ringside, chewing the scenery with her last obnoxious nerve. Reminded me of 2000 WWF.

Then Bryan ripped that page off of that dingy wall.

Kane and the Outlaws didn’t get a fraction of time Hunter got. The Shield, all of whom were in elementary school at their opponents’ apexes, dispatched the trio in about three minutes.

Then strongman Cesaro wins the Andre battle royal, outlasting Henry and Goldust, ultimately slamming Big Show over the ropes in a way that would make Hulk’s slam of Andre look like a school-yard foot-trip.

You don’t have to tell a Rec Center devotee that the first three matches were won by Bryan Danielson, Tyler Black, Claudio Castagnoli, and their Cage of Death cohort, Jon Moxley. All at the expense of the hangers-on of time.

Then Cena beat Bray Wyatt after a long, psychological war (had Wyatt won, you could say Luke Harper was the fourth ROH alumnus to stand tall), but even Wyatt going down wasn’t as shocking as the ultimate defeat following.

Nobody expected Undertaker to go down, outside of the know. When Brock Lesnar landed the third F5, I said to my viewing party, “is Taker really kicking out of a third?”

Then the hand dropped a third time. And the astonished faces in the crowd said it all.

You expected Kane and the Outlaws to be crushed. You expected Bryan to go over. You kinda figured a young gun would get the Andre trophy if one-time purported son Big Show didn’t.

But Undertaker losing at WrestleMania? That’s bleeping crazy.

Then Lesnar beat him. It felt as though an unbreakable chain snapped with one mighty pull, and that chain was the restraint that kept ‘yesterday’ from falling over.

Tim. Ber.

Method actor Paul Heyman couldn’t believe his client pulled it off, pulling the black and purple sword from the stone. The hush was louder than any catcall could have been. The last thing from our past that felt real, without artificial propping, finally cracked and crumbled to the Earth, and even us jaded dweebs who say, “yeah, it’s fake, but…” double-taked with eyes bulging out like silent film comedians.

When Triple H promised a ‘reality era’, it may well have been Paul Levesque promising a ‘different’ era. Nostalgia is fantasy, after all, gussied up by our memories, and we roll in those memories like a flowery meadow.

When the rug was swept out from under Taker’s calling card, what was left?

The new era. The literal, actual, 100% certified Reality Era.

Once the Diva clusterfack subsided, Daniel Bryan took center stage, in effect becoming what fans had wanted him to be all along: the main man.

With the floor his to save the day, Bryan was booked to come through against Randy Orton and Batista (the era after Attitude, though Brock and Cena are of that cloth too, but eh, go with it). With Bryan standing tall, YESing the arms up with a belt in each, WrestleMania XXX became his show, and the WWE became his yard, to borrow a phrase from a departing icon.

WWE will still present their nostalgia for the quick dollar, and they do it better than any. Still, it’s refreshing to see an era give way to another, because that’s how it should be, right?

I’m pretty sure I can get a yes on that.

And another.

YES!

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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The End Of The Undertaker WrestleMania Streak Was Best For WWE Business

April 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If your jaw did not drop at the conclusion of the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar match than you were either not paying attention or flat out lying. In the most shocking conclusion in WrestleMania history, the Beast Brock Lesnar ended the greatest streak in Sports history, not just Sports Entertainment at 21-1.  The former WWE and UFC Champion made history and his name will be cemented in WWE folklore as the man who laid to rest the Undertaker at WrestleMania.  The decision for the WWE to end the streak and thus effectively send off the Undertaker in the sunset was truly what was best for business and to say otherwise is just plain silly. Let me explain why….

The Streak should never end

For many years we have heard fans, insiders and many within the Sports Entertainment business voice that the Undertakers WrestleMania streak should never be broken.  The streak has been labeled as many things including sacred, untouchable, legendary and bigger than the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  For many years the label was exactly on the dot as the Streak has been consistently been the aforementioned match each and every year coming out of WrestleMania, not the title match.  The point of WrestleMania is for all the yearly storylines to reach their climax at the biggest stage of them all, with the road to WrestleMania and ultimately the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the forefront of it all.  If the streak never ends, how is the WWE World Heavyweight Championship highlighted as it’s supposed to be? What is the point of having the Royal Rumble winner survive 29 other men to capture and earn the main event spot of WrestleMania? What is the point of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship being up for grabs in the Elimination Chamber two months before WrestleMania to defend the title against the Royal Rumble winner?  For the integrity of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and WrestleMania the streak needed to end for the benefit of the WWE AND the Undertaker.

When your time is up you do the right thing

It was made apparent that the Undertakers career is winding down and that this may have been the final match of a legendary and Hall of Fame career.  With that being said the traditional and right thing to do is to bow out gracefully and pass the torch or put over whomever the WWE sees fit, whether you agree with it or not.  Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and just about every respected name in the business has done what was best for business and passed on the torch with the exception of Bret Hart, whom was selfish, egotistical and felt he was bigger than the business, which justified Vince McMahon screwing him to keep the integrity of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but that’s for another blog….

The Undertaker just turned 49 years old and was limited to one match a year at every WrestleMania for the past several years retiring Shawn Michaels, defeating Triple H twice and defeating CM Punk. If he knew his clock was ticking than he had no other choice than to end the streak and put over a big name and a young name that still has plenty left in the tank. Brock Lesnar was the chosen one and was the right man to end the infamous streak. I’ll explain why….

Use the streak to build up another star

In theory it sounds like a sound business idea and passes the torch to a deserving individual within WWE.  In reality though who is really deserving of a rub of that level? A man who hasn’t won a World Championship? Someone from NXT? The only option is that someone already established should have that honor bestowed to them.  In that scenario then who is the man you choose to beat the Streak? The Undertaker at 49 is still perceived to be the better man against CM Punk, Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista and so on. Brock Lesnar is a former UFC Champion, WWE Champion and a legitimate badass at the still young age of 36.

Before the match I was having a conversation with my party guests that realistically Lesnar would beat the Undertaker in no more than three minutes, but the streak has suspended our beliefs so much that we continue to buy in to the fact that so many men before Lesnar would have legitimately beat the Undertaker and failed in the Sports Entertainment setting of WrestleMania. That combined with the lackluster efforts of the WWE Creative team to creep doubt in the mind of the streak ending at the hands of Brock Lesnar, made the three count after the third F5 so unbelievably shocking. It was getting to the point that the streak was actually getting dare I say it: tired and boring. During the match the crowd looked tired, bored and uninterested in a slow paced match with a senior citizen hall of famer and the former UFC and WWE Champion going at half-speed for the sake of the Undertaker. When the most memorable part of the streak ending is the surprising three count out of nowhere and not the match itself, you know WWE did the right thing for business.

The ending of the streak will negatively affect interest in future WrestleMania’s.

WrestleMania will never and I mean never suffer any shortage of interest and fanfare from fans of all generations, athletes, celebrities, media outlets and sponsors. The streak will never be forgotten in the minds of fans who have witnessed 22 memorable matches from the Dead Man. The WWE will continue to honor the streak on a yearly basis in every facet of WrestleMania history, promotion and show in some fashion. WrestleMania will continue to draw bigger crowds each year in bigger and better venues around the nation and potentially worldwide someday.

Enjoy the memories of the legend that was the streak and the man who helped make the streak the biggest story in Sports Entertainment and Sports history, the future first ballot Hall of Famer The Undertaker. Give him a much deserved applause. Bravo Mark Calloway, may the streak rest in peace but the legend of The Undertaker live on in the minds of fans and the WWE Universe forever.

Roberto Padilla is a Radio Talk Show Host in Denver, Colorado. He is originally from Springfield, Virginia and has been in Denver since he was moved as a young child during the Redskins Super Bowl XXII season, one that saw the Redskins defeat the Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII. You can follow Roberto on Twitter @The1RealRoberto or send questions and feedback to [email protected]

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Goodbye Deadman

April 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This isn’t about whether or not it was right or wrong to end the Streak, but this is more of a thank you for the Streak.

The unthinkable has happened folks, on April 6th, 2014 the Streak has ended. For twenty three years (Barring two missed events), the one constant of WrestleMania was the Undertaker. Whether it was facing the monsters like Bundy and Gonzalez or two epic bouts with Shawn Michaels and three with Hunter, you knew that The Undertaker was going to be at WrestleMania. Did the quality dip from time to time to the point on unwatchable bouts? Yes, but the last few years saw The Undertaker putting on top level matches like never before against Edge, Michaels, Haitch and Punk.

That is no more, the streak has died and it seems to be on the level of Superman dying. I was sitting on my chair, watching on my Kindle Fire HD as Brock hit the last F-5. When the bell rang and Heyman ran in, I honestly thought that it was a screw-up or something like when the phantom victory during Andre/Hogan. All that was missing was Howard Finkel in a booming voice announcing that Brock Lesnar had indeed won. I presume that the WWE expected heat to be downright nWo-like. They might have envisioned garbage pelting the ring in droves and the sound of the announcers being drowned out by hatred from the crowd.

In reality, there was a stunned silence by the fans expecting for some type of ruse (Thank god for season four of Archer) and the match would continue. Brock would stand over Taker and Taker would grasp him in Hell’s Gate. Brock would pass out and the streak would be preserved. Instead the 21-1 graphic came up and the bullshit chants began. Fans began leaving in drove according to many in attendance; grown men were crying according to some. The internet has reacted in the way you’d expect, anger towards the machine and those who worked for it.

In all of that what was ignored was what might be the last match of a stalwart of the Hulkamania, New Generation, and Attitude Era. It has always been said that when the Streak died, that at this point the Undertaker would retire back to Texas. Think about it like this, The Undertaker started wrestling back when World Class Championship Wrestling still had four Von Erich kids alive. He worked Memphis back before the presence of wrestling on Monday night slowly killed wrestling at the Mid-South Coliseum. He took a trip to Atlanta and WCW that saw what will probably the first and only match with Sting, a wrestling tape artifact that might be on the level of the Last Battle of Atlanta right now. Then, he came to the WWE and the rest at they say is history.

Tonight’s Monday Night Raw will be a large indicator as to what direction the Undertaker will take. Will he stay on television or will this be it. Heck, we’ll probably know before this article is even posted in our social-media driven wrestling news cycle. It could be that The Undertaker is still a regular character on television, or the character might be retired all together.

All I want to say is thank you to The Undertaker for The Streak and everything he has contributed to pro wrestling. He made my dad who was adamantly anti-Attitude still a guy who would watch a show or a PPV if the Undertaker was wrestling. The Undertaker was the first wrestling figure that I ever gave my nephew, Christmas Day 2010. So, thank you Undertaker for all the memories, the great matches and memorable moments. You’re presence in this industry in the ring and the locker room will truly be missed and I believe that nobody can fill your boots.

Thank you.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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WrestleMania 30: A Stunned Writer Reacts to Undertaker’s Loss

April 07, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The “STREAK” is over! I am still in disbelief. As the Undertaker lie on the mat and then gathered his senses, it had come to me that another one of my wrestling heroes was about to retire. We don’t actually know that yet, but the “STREAK” that wrestling and WrestleMania live and die by was just broken.

Brock Lesnar on the other hand – just hag his legacy cemented with the win.

Twitter messages, photos and social media abroad told the story – no one really thought Undertaker’s last stand would be in New Orleans. And in my heart, I am a little saddened by the turn of events. The match itself was awful, and you could see a laboring Undertaker, a man who was in condition but not conditioned for the event. The silence of the crown in the Superdome said it all, but should the “Streak” and a career that spanned 22 WrestleMania event stop just like that?

Sean Waltman and Konnan took to their Twitter pages, telling the world they thought the loss should be to a wrestler like Roman Reigns or another upstart who could take the win and build on it. Brock Lesnar, the winner and “criminal” in the crime committed cannot be blamed for this. The WWE may have decided to move forward. ‘Taker could have been the one to pull the plug on record. Tired of being beaten on, small cameo appearances for a month or so. A new life and children with Michelle McCool. It all factors in. But for now, I want to be the grieving one, the one who is sad. My hero lost tonight and with it the questions of his future abound.

When we think of athletes who “stay too long” I know Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts and Scott Hall first come to mind. We have seen them deteriorate before our eyes. In retrospect of only a few minutes, we have seen the same thing from this performer, who Jerry Lawler and JBL called the “Greatest performer in WWE history,” and rightfully so. There won’t be another one like him. And with the slower pace of Kane in and out of the ring, and his recent feud to help put The Shield over, it is more and more apparent that his future is slowing down.

Come to think of it, Cesaro was put over by Big Show Sunday night as well – possibly signaling the near end of his career as well.

The WWE inducted Razor Ramon, Jake Roberts and Carlos Colon into the Hall of fame on Saturday night, three wrestlers I watched growing up. It is unavoidable that things like this happen, that time moves on and we get older and lose some of that childhood feeling when we watched Hogan run down the entrance ramp or heard Flair yell “Woooo!” It comes with the territory.

In other sports, Joe Namath overstayed his welcome. Willie Mays looked awful in a Mets uniform. We all waited for Brett Favre to run off into the sunset and Larry Bird finally let injuries retire him. It’s a fact of sports life.

But in this case, I really did not see it coming. Neither did the 75,000 fans in New Orleans. The WWE better know what ti is doing, but in all seriousness, we never saw this coming. The pain will take some time getting used to and we will wait to see what happens on Monday night. But for now, the biggest answer we wanted from this event was given to us in a loss rather than the win we all were hoping for.

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