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WWE Best Pay-Per-View Matches Of 2011 DVD Review

January 17, 2012 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Best Pay Per View Matches Of 2011 DVDEvery year, WWE does one of these DVDs, bringing you what they consider the best matches featured on PPV each calendar year (although they always make the DVD before December is over, leaving off the last PPV of the year in the process. I have never understood this.

This is especially true considering how good TLC reportedly was.). While WWE television was really hit-or-miss during 2011, they had a pretty strong calendar year in regards to quality PPV matches. If you don’t believe me, check this DVD out for yourself. The Best Pay-Per-View Matches of 2011 features 14 matches from this past year, spanning most of the PPV events.

While I had originally seen most of the matches on this set, there were a few that I had never seen and had only read about. I don’t order every PPV event like I used to years ago, not only because it’s usually not worth it, but generally, I can’t afford to do so anyway.

So, while this set was mostly a rerun for me, there were some good matches on here that were fresh. At the same time, there were matches on here that, in my opinion, didn’t belong.

While the best match of the year CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank-is included (as well as an awesome video package for CM Punk that led to the match), one other match from that PPV is conspicuously absent. The set does feature one of the MITB matches from the event, but the WWE chose to show the one from RAW, despite the one from Smackdown! being vastly superior.

While the RAW match was decent, it featured a mess of an ending thanks to a busted ladder, as well as a very predictable winner in Alberto Del Rio. Meanwhile, the Smackdown! match was solid from top to bottom, featured great outings from Sheamus and Wade Barrett, and an awesome ending featuring a total dark horse winning, that being current World Champion Daniel Bryan. While I’ve seen both and both were good, there really was no comparison, and the Smackdown! match should have been the one to be featured.

Aside from those, we also get the great ladder match that saw Christian win his first World title, defeating Alberto Del Rio, a good match between CM Punk and Rey Mysterio from Capitol Punishment (one of Mysterio’s better performances in years), and a surprisingly good match from Night of Champions that saw Mark Henry win his first World title from Randy Orton. I thought this match would really suck, but Henry put in one of the best performances of his career and looked like the monster he should in the process.

There are some other good to great matches on this set, but as we all know, even on a “Best of” DVD, there’s going to be some matches that suck. I know a lot of people liked the Cody Rhodes/Rey Mysterio match from Wrestlemania, but watching this one the second time around, I’m still not impressed.

At the time, Cody Rhodes wasn’t even remotely impressing me. I’m still not a fan of his now, although he has greatly improved since then. However, he was just okay in this match. Not horrible, not great. The other match on here that I really disagree with is also from Wrestlemania. The 27th installment of ‘Mania was one of the worst ones of all time, in my opinion, and the Triple H/Undertaker No Holds Barred Match from the event is one of the reasons why.

I know there are a lot of people who will disagree with me and think this is one of the greatest matches of all time, but I just don’t get it. The match was a total clusterf*ck featuring a needless amount of finisher kick-outs, botch after botch after botch, and a horribly predictable ending that saw Triple H tap out to the worst version of the Hells’ Gate submission I have ever seen.

It also didn’t help that the WWE refused to acknowledge that Triple H and ‘Taker had already faced each other at WM 17, when both guys were 10 years younger, much healthier and put on a much, much, MUCH better match. Fortunately, Triple H redeems himself later in the set with a good No Holds Barred Match with CM Punk from Night of Champions (although the ending left something to be desired thanks to interference from Awesome Truth and Kevin Nash).

Then there’s the obligatory divas match. While I am a big fan of women’s wrestling, let’s face facts-most WWE divas matches suck something awful, and Kelly Kelly should never be featured on a “Best of” DVD of any kind, save for maybe a compilation of women who look like they’re constipated 24 hours a day. Fortunately, the right woman went over here, but Beth had to carry Kelly the entire match in order to make it even remotely watchable.

Aside from these few complaints, overall, the set is pretty good, and features a pretty solid lineup. Not the best matches the WWE has ever done, but overall, definitely some of the best of the year. Plus, contributions from John Cena and Randy Orton are kept to a bare minimum, which is always a bonus. If you didn’t get a chance to watch a lot of the PPVs from last year, you could do much worse than get this DVD.

The DVD versions will feature:

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Edge vs. Dolph Ziggler
Royal Rumble – 30th January, 2011

Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Edge vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Wade Barrett vs. Kane vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Big Show
Elimination Chamber – 20th February, 2011

Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
WrestleMania XXVII – 3rd April, 2011

No Holds Barred Match
Undertaker vs. Triple H
WrestleMania XXVII – 3rd April, 2011

One Door Closes, Another Open Up

Ladder Match for the Vacant World Heavyweight Championship
Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
Extreme Rules – 1st May, 2011

Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk
Capitol Punishment – 19th June, 2011

Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Alberto Del Rio vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger vs. R-Truth vs. The Miz vs. Alex Riley vs. Rey Mysterio
Money in the Bank – 17th July, 2011

A Message From CM Punk

WWE Championship Match
John Cena vs. CM Punk
Money in the Bank – 17th July, 2011

One More Time

No Holds Barred Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Christian vs. Randy Orton
SummerSlam – 14th August, 2011

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Randy Orton vs. Mark Henry
Night of Champions – 18th September, 2011

No Disqualification Match
Triple H vs. CM Punk
Night of Champions – 18th September, 2011

Divas Championship Match
Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix
Hell in a Cell – 2nd October, 2011

Triple Threat Hell in a Cell Match for the WWE Championship
John Cena vs. CM Punk vs. Alberto Del Rio
Hell in a Cell – 2nd October, 2011

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Mark Henry vs. Big Show
Vengeance – 23rd October, 2011

Blu-ray Exclusives for the set:

Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
WrestleMania XXVII – 3rd April, 2011

Rey Mysterio vs. R-Truth
Over the Limit – 22nd May, 2011

World Heavyweight Championship Match
Randy Orton vs. Christian
Capitol Punishment – 19th June, 2011

Rey Mysterio, John Morrison & Kofi Kingston vs. The Miz, R-Truth & Alberto Del Rio
SummerSlam – 14th August, 2011

Christian Discusses His Match with Alberto Del Rio at Extreme Rules

Cody Rhodes Discusses His Match with Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania

Dolph Ziggler Discusses His Match with Edge at Royal Rumble

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XDustinEFLX, and if you like Married…With Children, you can follow my Al Bundy parody account at http://www.twitter.com/bundyisms. Also follow my personal blog at http://nerdslikeme.blogspot.com (feedback is welcome). Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out my mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

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Best Pay Per View Matches of 2011 [Blu-ray]

Best Pay Per View Matches of 2011

The Best PPV Matches of 2011 DVD/T-Shirt Package

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The Camel Clutch Blog WWE 2011 Year In Review

December 28, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk wins the WWE title at Money in the BankThe World Wrestling Entertainment certainly had an interesting 2011. The WWE saw the return of a legend, the emergence of a new hero, & several surprises in and out of the ring. Rather than look back myself at the WWE 2011 in review, I am joined by a collection of pro wrestling writers from CamelClutchBlog.com.

WWE Wrestler of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Randy Orton: I know, I know this one is going to anger some readers, especially you CM Punk fans. Heck, I am even upset at myself after years of Orton hatred, including writing many blogs criticizing Orton for his laziness and repetitive matches. However, something clicked in the Viper and across a 12-month span I think he had the best matches in the company.

What really impressed me most about Orton was his versatility in 2011. It isn’t that hard to have great matches with Christian Cage, but Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, CM Punk, and Cody Rhodes as well. Other than Money in the Bank against Cena, I can’t recall many “great” matches that CM Punk had in 2011. Other than Money in the Bank and wrestling Rey Mysterio on RAW, I can’t recall any other “great” matches that John Cena had in 2011. Daniel Bryan never had the opportunities throughout the year. To me, nobody did it better than Orton in 2011 who had a career year inside of the ring.

Jeff Peck of Wheelhouse Radio – CM Punk: There was no other wrestler in the WWE in 2011 that had more of an impact or a banner year like CM Punk did. He started 2011 with a “TV feud” against John Cena, formed/took over the “new nexus” and had a pretty good feud with Randy Orton that led to a Wrestlemania match. Not a bad year for a wrestler already and then he cut the promo of the year on June 27th, 2011 that led us to what some may call the “Summer of Punk II.”

He helped recapture the imagination of wrestling fans that felt like they were no longer in tune with the product and was part of a very memorable match & angle at Money in the Bank 2011. There were times he may have fallen off a bit in 2011 but there was no doubt that he was a top wrestler for the WWE when he captured the WWE Championship in historic style at Madison Square Garden at Survivor Series 2011. CM Punk is my choice for the 2011 WWE Wrestler of the year.

Thomas Holzerman of The Wrestling Blog- CM Punk: I’m picking CM Punk, but it’s not as much a no-brainer as one might expect. Mark Henry, yes, the same Mark Henry who as recently as four years ago was sent to the wasteland of ECW, came on strong and became as feelgood a story as a monster villain ever could. Here was a guy who was being ribbed to the point of almost quitting within six months of receiving the push of his life. All he did was go out and split wigs, induct people into his Hall of Pain, and bring back the chip on his shoulder that made him such a dynamo in said ECW stint.

That being said, Henry’s year was epic because of the execution. Punk’s year was epic because he potentially changed landscapes. He moved mountains. He started a revolution. Granted, that revolution is still in its early stages. It might fail to gain traction. But why dwell on the negative here when most of what Punk has given us has been positive? Match after match, promo after promo, he made wrestling fresh and new again. He gave it promise and purpose. Henry followed the script excellently, but Punk tore it up and rewrote it. That’s why he’s the wrestler of the year.

Brett Clendaniel of WrestleChat.net – CM Punk: I think this one should be unanimous. While there are a few guys that really went above and beyond this year, none really elevated their status the way CM Punk did. Punk went from a guy mired in the upper-mid card to a guy that some reports are saying is positioned to be the new face of the WWE going forward. He’s really the first main eventer to really connect with that 17-34 male demographic since “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Rock. Whether it was his now-famous worked shoot, his great matches nearly every time he steps in the ring, or his promo’s in which he doesn’t hold back, CM Punk has just resonated with fans of all ages. Even thought ratings may not be showing results at the moment, talk to any wrestling fan and they’ll tell you that the WWE is better today because of CM Punk than they were in January of 2011 when he wasn’t in the spot he is now.

Honorable Mention: Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, Robert Roode, Cody Rhodes, Eddie Edwards & John Cena.

Jerome Wilen of ProWrestlingRingside.Blogspot.com – Mark Henry: The best career move that WWE creative did in 2011 is when they took a gamble and turned Mark Henry heel. I never really cared about Mark Henry until he became a monster heel. He has done very well both in his role as an unstoppable heel champion even when “injured.” He deserves kudos for stepping up his game with improved mic skills and doing crazy stuff such as “injuring” a sound technician on an episode of SmackDown by tossing him like a rag doll. His unpredictable character is something that has been missing from wrestling for a long time and is one of the main reasons I won’t read the spoilers so I can be surprised at what he might do next as a part of his “House of Pain” gimmick. Finally, WWE has a talent who was basically a circus side show during the attitude era with worthless storylines and gimmicks can now be taken seriously not only as a legitimate heel, but a force to be reckoned with that has the World Heavyweight Championship belt.

Terri Bey – Mark Henry: I know it is not going to be a popular choice as there was CM Punk who is the obvious choice with his brilliance on the mic and in the ring. John Cena, the cash cow, is probably another obvious choice, as Randy Orton would have been, but my reasoning is that Henry has been in the company for over a decade, and was given so many goofy gimmicks, a couple of them to make him quit, but he stood in there. This time, they pushed him as a monster, and he responded with some of the best work on the mic, and in the ring. He is taken seriously as a monster heel. Most people know he isn’t a great catch as catch can worker, but he has taken what he can do, and made it work. He also has done a great job as a heel World Champion. Smackdown ratings have been around 2 or so since he has been champion as well.

Dustin Nichols of NerdsLikeMe.Blogspot.com – CM Punk: Punk went from a sometimes main-eventer/mostly mid-carder earlier this year into a bonafide main eventer in a matter of weeks. A lot of it can be credited to his “work-shoot” promo on John Cena that has now become part of his gimmick, but at the same time, Punk has worked his ass off to get to the spot he’s in right now. He’s excellent in the ring, can work with nearly anyone, and has proven to be the most entertaining talker to hit WWE in many, many years. As the year ends, he is the current WWE Champion (and a 2-time champ for the year), and his first run with the belt, despite being short, was one of the most memorable runs in a long time thanks to a very hot storyline, engaging promos, great in-ring work and almost universal support from the crowd. As an added bonus, 2012 appears to be more of the same good fortune for Punk.

Steve Urena – Mark Henry: Now a lot of people are going to choose CM punk but we all knew CM Punk was great at what he does, plus he has won the world title before. I’m going to pick a wrestler who showed determination and drive and transformed himself into something new.. Mark Henry. Mark Henry at the beginning of the year was a teddy bear, a loveable babyface who was big on the outside but soft on the inside. I was always a fan of Henry since he transformed from sexual chocolate into a menacing figure and thought that he could be a menacing and powerful monster of a character. Fast forward to the draft lottery and Mark Henry turns on John Cena. What a moment. That teddy bear that everyone had grown to cheer for had turned into a grizzly bear and finally, we saw fire in the eyes of Mark Henry. We also saw a lighter Mark Henry as Henry went down in weight in order to be a better performer. I was looking forward to seeing him on SmackDown and figured he would be in a main event feud at some point and his run has been better than anyone expected. He started off in the mix with Christian and Sheamus then moved onto Randy Orton. His Hall of Pain will be memorable for years to come due to the brutality and the way he has handled giants. His matches have become so much better than they have before and I look forward to his title matches whenever they come on Pay Per View. Who would have thought that the guy who impregnated Mae Young would be a monster heel champion? I love it and Mark Henry deserves it. Mark Henry is my pick for wrestler of the year for his improvement and his brand new attitude.

WWE Story of the Year

Eric G – Edge retires: I went back and forth on this, CM Punk’s push, and Punk’s lack of impact on business but I think at the end of the year, there is nothing bigger than one of the biggest stars of the last decade walking away for good.

It is funny because in another era, fans would still be talking about the retirement of Edge. Yet I think fans have become so cynical and rightfully so, that they all believe Edge and even Shawn Michaels will be back in the ring at some point. I am not buying it. Medically, it just doesn’t appear in the cards. I was not necessarily the biggest Edge fan when he was around, but I have certainly noticed the difference since he left. For me, this is the biggest story of the year.

Jeff P – The return of The Rock: Besides CM Punk’s promo from June 27th, 2011 there was only one other moment that grabbed the attention of wrestling fans, new and old in one night. February 14th, 2011 “the most electrifying man in all of sports and entertainment” made his return to the WWE for the first time in seven years. It was The Rock and he announced that he was “hosting” Wrestlemania 27 & that he would never leave the WWE ever again.

Thomas H – The WWE Network: For me, the story of the year was the announcement of the WWE Network. Wrestling had always been at the mercy of network executives who were stingy with their timeslots until WWE, which has had a history of entrepreneurial endeavors, decided they wanted to control the content themselves. This is what a bold decision looks like in 2011, just like the decision made in the early ’80s to go national or in the early ’90s was to go live every Monday on cable television. Whether it works or not will be a different story; we shall see in 2012 whether that happens. For now though, the story is that they have the testicular fortitude to follow through on this, and as a fan, I hope they succeed.

The return was a moment once again where people were talking, fans that missed out check out his return on YouTube videos and were excited to see one of the wrestlers that defined a generation return back to his roots. The return led to what was the groundwork to a match between The Rock & John Cena for Wrestlemania 28 and what maybe a part-time role in the WWE as The Rock promised. It was something many wrestling fans thought they’d never see again but for that night the WWE and The Rock surprised & shocked the wrestling world by returning in grand fashion.

Brett C – (For the Second Year in a row) The Influence of Social Networking on Professional Wrestling: Ya know, I took a bit of a beating last year when I chose this as the big story of the year over a few others. Looking back, I really pat myself on the back for being absolutely right. Look at how many times a Superstars Facebook or Twitter account is mentioned on any show. Watch at how we have “Trending Topics” pushed down our throats on live TV. The story of the year once again was the impact that these things had on what we saw on our screens. The “Internet darlings”, as we’ve all been called multiple times, have really had our voices heard. Look at every WWE champion right now – CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Zack Ryder, Cody Rhodes, Beth Phoenix, and AirBoom. All young, entertaining athletes who the “smarks” around the world have been begging to carry belts for a year now. The WWE has seemingly given the Internet what they’ve been asking for. Hopefully it’s not so that they can throw it up in our faces in a month or two if ratings continue to go down the toilet. In 2011, superstars on Twitter were the gifts that continue to keep on giving. Matt Hardy being arrested, hinting at suicide, and being arrested again were probably the big Twitter moments of the year. But then there’s also people like Goldust who was banned from the site for multiple months after the WWE received numerous complaints about the way he treated fans. We saw superstars have their pushes (John Morrison) abruptly stopped, debuts (Brodus Clay) put off, and ex-employees (Chavo Guerrero, Michael Tarver) use it rip current WWE main eventers to shreds. Let us not forget Michael Cole getting tons of heat for tweeting gay slurs and Vick Guerrero and Karen Jarrett getting into a virtual cat fight that lasted quite a few days.

Honorable Mention: Death of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Return of The Rock, and Edge’s Retirement.

Terri B – 11 Time WWE/World Champion Edge Suddenly Retires: I don’t mean for this first couple of sentences to get personal, but here goes. On January 8, 2011,ironically five years to the day that Edge won his first WWE Title, I was second row ringside at Rupp Arena for a house show. Edge had just beaten Kane in a very good street fight. He was a ten time World Champion. He went around, and shook hands, and grabbed mine, and shook mine. I gave him a present which was a set of photos of him and Umaga tag teaming that I had taken, ironically in Rupp 2 years prior.. He had painted his face and body like Umaga. The last words he would say to me (I had met him twice before) was Thank You. Well, little did I know that would be the last time I would ever see him perform live, as on April 11, 2011, on Raw, at Bridgeport , CT, he announced he was forced to retire due to spinal stenosis in his neck. It was a shock to me, as well as to wrestling fans, and to the industry, as well as to WWE.  WWE gave him a great sendoff, but also had to do a draft earlier than usual. Even though Edge , per interviews, happy in his retirement, his absence leaves a void, especially on the Smackdown side. One can sense his talent not being there. Edge was kind of , and this is about the best analogy I can come up with, kind of like a chair that was always there. After all, he was with the company for 12 years or so. I started watching in 1998, the year he was first with the company, so I saw his career blossom from beginning to end. I am glad he had such an illustrious career, but his absence is strongly felt, and his impact on the WWE product is missed. Edge was a hell of a worker, even after the injuries (neck, pec, achilles, etc) started to take a toll. He continued to have awesome matches, even right up till the end. Edge also was a hell of a promo man. He was one of the best on the mic. In my opinion, he is one of the best heels ever. The sad part about the retirement is that he was JUST getting over as a babyface, a role that he was pretty decent at, but he was in his element as a heel. His retirement was heartbreaking, as no one wants to see a proud athlete lose his/her career to injury, but it was good that there were a lot of his peers saying great things about him, and having met him three times, I can confirm he is a great person. He is sorely missed, and he is missed on WWE, but his health must come first. Thank you Edge.

Dustin N – The CM Punk Money in the Bank Angle: The story of the year is the same as the angle of the year, as far as my vote is concerned. When it was confirmed that Punk was indeed leaving WWE after MITB and had not signed a new contract, it seemed like a surefire bet that Cena would walk out of the PPV with the WWE title in tact, despite being in front of a very hostile Chicago crowd against the city’s favorite son. Instead, Punk not only walked out of the Allstate Arena with the WWE title in his grasp, but continued to rub in the face of the company, including a very famous incident where he showed up at the San Diego Comic-Con with the belt and began yelling at Triple H via megaphone. Add in all of the build-up to this match over the previous few weeks where no one was sure what was going to happen-including, apparently, a lot of the employees on the WWE roster-and it made for one of the most interesting stories to come to wrestling in a long time, both inside the ring and out. While Punk was on a crusade to change wrestling because it was no longer fun, something amazing happened: fans watching actually began having fun watching these events unfold. Punk made a lot of us remember what wrestling once was and could still be again. Granted, it mostly turned into an angle and a re-birth for CM Punk’s character (a welcome one at that), but for those few weeks, CM Punk and WWE reminded me just how much fun wrestling could be if done right.

Steve U – The Rock Returns to WWE: Besides my match of the year candidates, I never felt so much joy and jubilation in wrestling until I heard IF YA SMELLLLL… What the Rock is cooking. He came back and I was 7 years old again. I remember being in my college dorm room with my friends watching Raw trying to guess who the guest host would be. We figured it could be the Rock with John Cena hinting at it but we hadn’t seen the Rock in years so it could have been anyone. Once he appeared came down the ramp and did his shtick and called out Cena I was ecstatic. Then when he challenged Cena for Mania and showed back up at Survivor Series I was elated. I got the chance to see his first match back and he hasn’t lost a step. Fans woke up and maybe him coming back means better business for wrestling… even if it is via satellite.

WWE Match of the Year

Eric G – Randy Orton vs. Christian Over the Limit, May 22, 2011: This is what I wrote on the CCB immediately after watching the match. “I can’t say it enough, this was a great match. I would give this Match of the Year for the WWE at this point, even over Triple H vs. The Undertaker. For all of the psychology Triple H vs. The Undertaker lacked, Orton vs. Christian had it. I can’t think of a better match that Randy Orton has ever had.”

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I stand by that today. I think this series was the best the WWE has had since Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho in 2008. My favorite portion of the series was the first few matches where the WWE booked them both as babyfaces. It was everything a championship rivalry should be between two “heroes.” Even after the heel turn, the matches continued to get better and while some were fantastic, I don’t think anything was better than at this stage in the feud.

Jeff P – CM Punk vs. John Cena (Money in the Bank 2011): This was a real tough one to choose because there were some really good matches this year from Randy Orton vs. Christian at Capital Punishment to Triple H vs. The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 27. But when it comes down to a match that you will most remember in 2011 it will have to be Punk/Cena from Money in the Bank 2011. It had people talking leading into the match and it had people talking after the match.

Thomas H – CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011: I racked my brain thinking about other matches that could be here other than CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank. I tried and tried and tried some more to make rationalizations for affairs like Punk against Dolph Ziggler on the RAW after Survivor Series, or any one of the Randy Orton/Christian matches or even the Punk/Cena rematch at SummerSlam. I just couldn’t do it. Punk and Cena were embroiled in a perfect storm. They were two guys who always had good matches with each other, wrestling in front of the most insanely hyperactive crowd in recent memory with a once-in-a-lifetime situation. There were so many outside factors. Would Vince McMahon try to re-create the Montreal Screwjob? Would Punk really walk out of WWE with the Championship if he had won? Would the crowed really have rioted if Punk lost?

For the amount of hype and questions and mystique around the match, it delivered. No movement was wasted. The crowd was intense and hanging on every moment, every little turn of action. There were the sweeping tropes for the fans at large, and there were Easter eggs for the more hardcore fans, the most noticeable being Punk celebrating with Ace Steel and Colt Cabana after a successful suicide dive to the outside. The end of the match might have been the most positively memorable PPV close in history, with McMahon and Cena showing how much the WWE title meant to each of them in their own different ways. And then, just like that, after the decision and the awarding of the title, Punk was gone. He kissed McMahon and WWE goodbye for the time being, and he was gone.

For a resolution that only really served as a bookmark for the future, more final chapter, it sure was as memorable as a complete ending.

The story telling in the match was classic yet basic as Cena & Punk put on a really good match. It told a story inside the ring and fed off the electricity that sat outside it. You were on the edge of your seat because you wanted to see what would happen next. The match itself was the most talked about match in 2011 in any wrestling company and therefore is the reason why I choose it as my WWE Match of the Year.

Brett C – CM Punk vs John Cena at Money in the Bank: The match that REALLY put CM punk on the map as a guy who could be the face of the company. I still remember that night like it was just yesterday. Social networking was abuzz just wondering if it really would be CM Punk’s last night with the company. Him leaving the company seemed like a certainty, but as the show grew near, SWERVE was on everybody’s mind. This match was absolutely electric. I, personally, can’t think of any match in the last 5 years (that didn’t involve the Undertaker and Wrestlemania, anyway) that had a crowd so invested in it. And KUDOS to the fans at Chicago on that night for making this match what it was. If you ever need proof that an audience is just as pivotal to how a match will be looked back upon historically as the actual ringwork itself, look no further than this one. It was reminiscent of John Cena and Rob Van Dam at One Night Stand. This match was also a clinic in how a main event should be done. As I wrote right here on the Camel Clutch Blog (http://camelclutchblog.com/july-17-2011-the-day-john-cena-proved-to-be-money-in-the-bank/), CM Punk may have walked out of Money in the Bank as the Superstar, but it was John Cena who actually proved to be “Money in the Bank.”

Honorable Mention: Randy Orton vs Christan “Over the Limit”, Undertaker vs Triple H “WrestleMania 27”, Davey Richards vs Eddie Edwards “Ring of Honor: Best in the World”, Christian vs Alberto Del Rio “Extreme Rules”, Any Match featuring Dolph Ziggler or Daniel Bryan, Any Match not featuring Sin Cara

Terri B – Edge (C) vs Rey Mysterio vs Kane vs The Big Show vs Drew McIntyre vs Wade Barrett in an Elimination Chamber Match at Elimination Chamber 2011 for the World Heavyweight Title: This category was hard for me to decide. There were several candidates for “WWE Match of the Year that I could have went with. I loved the HHH/Taker match at Mania 27, either of the Cena/Punk matches, and the Edge/Ziggler World Title match at Rumble. However, this particular match at Elimination Chamber 2011 was just brilliant from start to finish. The big men, Kane and Show were great, and Barrett, and McIntyre did great jobs. I thought McIntyre stood out especially well. However, it was Edge and Rey Mysterio who really were outstanding and showed why they were the amongst the best in the wrestling business. They worked well with the other participants, but when it came down to the two of them, the match went to another level. The last ten minutes of this match is worth the DVD. The false finishes, and Rey’s acrobatic antics were fantastic. Watching both men kicking out of each others’ finishes was awesome. The match ends with Edge spearing Rey in the end, and you see both guys laying there wiped out. Great stuff. Of course, you had Del Rio attack Edge post match, and Christian came to the rescue, and then Edge , I believe spears Del Rio, and takes his belt to the back. The other matches I mentioned were great, but this match impressed me the most this year.

Jerome W – The Undertaker vs. Triple H WrestleMania 27: Undertaker and Triple H at this year’s WrestleMania 27 was the best match on the entire card.  For the most part, WrestleMania’s have been lackluster, but these two seasoned veterans of the game (no pun intended) showed the world they “still got it” with a match that had suspense and some really great action and even both of these talented superstars supposedly getting fined $2,500.00 with Undertaker taking an unprotected chair shot to the head during the match.  The match had some great near falls showing that Undertaker actually could possibly lose the match (even though I expected him to win clean over Triple H).  Both Undertaker and Triple H told a great story in the ring, thus deserving of match of the year for 2011.

Dustin N – CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank 2011: While most are probably going to go with Triple H/Undertaker from Wrestlemania 27, I won’t be going that route. Sorry, but I really thought that match sucked. Instead, I’m going to have to go with CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank. Never before was the future of a wrestler so up in the air. Would Punk lose and ride off into the sunset, or would he win and take the WWE title with him elsewhere? Punk and Cena faced off in Punk’s hometown of Chicago, and not only did they blow the roof off the place in front of a hot and hostile crowd, but Punk proceeded to get the match of a lifetime out of John Cena, proving that, when he chooses not to be Superman, Cena can actually put on a good performance. Yes, there were some botches in the match, and yes, there were probably better matches from a technical standpoint, but the still-excellent quality of the match combined with the atmosphere puts this one over the top.

Steve U- Tie between the Undertaker vs. Triple H at Wrestlemania / CM Punk vs. John Cena MITB: I can’t decide which match is better because I was so emotionally invested in both and they both stick out to me as phenomenal matches this year. These are how matches should be. You should be on the edge of your seat caring about who is going to win the match. Both had stipulations with two things at stake. The WWE Title and the Undertaker’s streak two of the most important things at stake in WWE. Taker/ Triple H brought a whole new level of violence to the Streak and Cena / Punk felt like a change was coming when Punk won. They both deserve match of the year and I don’t think anything else can hold a candle to those two matches this year.

WWE Angle of the Year

Eric G – The Rock vs. John Cena: The easy answer here is CM Punk but I think the way the angle ended really hurt it here. Plus, when you look at The Rock vs. Cena you can’t even touch the impact on business that it has had over any other angle the WWE has booked in 2011 and at the end of the day, the success of an angle comes down to business and this one is money in the bank (no pun intended).

I love that the WWE embraced the Cena hatred here and used it as the catalyst for The Rock’s return. The WWE could have easily pretended to ignore the obvious and had Cena and The Rock shaking hands and becoming best friends on night one. Instead they allowed The Rock to call out the yellow elephant in the room and the results thus far have been tremendous.

I don’t think anyone would argue that the dynamic between The Rock vs. Cena is what put the highly successful WrestleMania 27 over the top. The promos in and out of the ring leading up to the show were some of the best I have seen on WWE television for years. The angle has certainly had its ups and downs but overall it continues to be the most compelling in major league professional wrestling as far as I am concerned.

Jeff P – CM Punk’s promo from RAW Roulette on June 27th, 2011 that elevated him: You didn’t know if it was a shoot or a work. You couldn’t believe what you were hearing what CM Punk was saying on your television as it was happening. You were texting your friends to turn on WWE RAW right now whether they were current wrestling fans or former wrestling fans. It accomplished what it needed to do & that was make people talk about it and to sell a match/feud.

Thomas H – CM Punk: Great angles come in many different shapes and sizes, but sometimes, the best stories come from things that don’t feel like stories at all. When CM Punk came out wearing a Steve Austin t-shirt on June 27th to cost John Cena his match with R-Truth, no one thought anything of it. It was standard operating procedure to have this kind of chicanery pervade the main event. However, when Punk took a microphone, sat Indian-style and proceeded to drop a pipebomb that shook the WWE to its core? Yeah, that moment started what should have been a revolution. For two months, the illusion that wrestling was cool again was prevalent throughout the landscape. Of course, Triple H and Kevin Nash had to glom the spotlight for themselves, but during that two month period, everything was alright with the World Wrestling Entertainment.

Thankfully, they’ve begun the course-correction back to having that feeling again. Was some of it lost thanks to the regression to the mean that happened between SummerSlam and Survivor Series? I think so, but it can be gained back if the people who stuck by continue to send out word that something new and different is happening in WWE, in wrestling.

Who knows if the Punk/Cena match would have even been considered a match of the year candidate if it wasn’t for the promo he cut on June 27th, 2011? The greatness of this promo will have to be determined for years to come due to the path of success CM Punk will take from here on out. As of right now it has helped make CM Punk a marketable face for the WWE, a star that adults watch the WWE product can relate too and still gives you that “man vs. machine” attitude that made Stone Cold Steve Austin so popular. It’s talked about now and it will be talked about for years after, it was without a doubt the angle of the year.

Brett C – CM Punk’s Worked Shoot & All That Came With It: Noticing a pattern here yet? Yeah, I’m all about CM Punk this year. The worked shoot promo that we’ve all watched many, many times now was one of the most memorable thing we’ve ever seen in years. In a time where every single thing that happens is pretty much leaked on the Internet before eyes ever see it, this was one of those magical moments that literally had all of us sitting there with our eyes wide open, jaws dropped, hair standing up, and our ears wanting to hear more. What followed with Punk crashing the WWE events at Comic Con, showing up at Indy events, and his Twitter trash talk was just as good. Based on the WWE booking we’ve seen over the years, I think it’s pretty obvious that this was mostly CM Punk’s idea. Truth is, there’s really no angle that was even close to this, but I’ll list a few honorable mentions anyway.

Honorable mention: Randy Orton & Christian’s feud, Beer Money’s trek/feud towards the TNA Heavyweight Title, and Kevin Steen being fired/rehired by Ring of Honor.

Terri B – CM Punk going “inside” with his promos, and his taking the WWE Title home with him: Well, for me, this one was easy, andwas a no brainer. I thought this was awesome. Here he was, watching Cena getting thrown into a table, I believe, by R Truth and Miz, and Punk sits down on the top of the ramp, and cuts a promo that includes a lot of “inside” stuff. I was like, “WOW.”  The whole thing was cool. WWE bungled it by bringing Punk back too soon (one week)but I loved his running his yap talking inside stuff, I didn’t think Kevin Nash (who can’t cut a promo to save his life) needed to be dragged into the angle, but I loved how Punk took Nash to school on the mic. I loved his verbal spats with Triple H as well. Why John Laurinaitis is involved, I have no idea. He can’t cut a promo either, and Punk owns him too. However, overall, I loved this angle.

Dustin N – The Summer of Punk: I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but the “Summer of Punk” was just too good. While Punk’s contract was legitimately expiring at the end of Money in the Bank, no one really seemed to know what was going to happen next. Punk threatened that, if he won the WWE title, he’d take the belt with him to other promotions such as ROH or All-Japan. While most believed it was an angle, Punk was so good in his role as a bitter soon-to-be former employee complete with “work-shoot” promos that no one really knew what to think. When I watched it, I guessed it was probably an angle, but at the same time, there was that little sliver of doubt that maybe, just maybe, this was real. Furthermore, I know a lot of other fans felt the same way. In this day and age where wrestling fans are more jaded and cynical than ever (Yours Truly included) and spoilers are available the second a TV taping has ended, it’s hard to fool fans. When you as a promoter or wrestling promotion can create even that tiny sliver of doubt that I mentioned, you know you’ve got a great angle on your hands.

Steve U – CM Punk holds the WWE Title Hostage: No one saw this coming. This angle just happened out of nowhere when CM Punk got a live microphone. When he unloaded on WWE management people felt the same anger and disdain that Punk did after he dropped his “Pipe bomb.” The angle did fizzle out a little bit later but it got CM Punk on a main stage which works for me. When Punk held the title hostage I had to tune into Raw just because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. It should have went longer but for those few weeks wrestling was hot again and for that I commend Mr. Punk.

Dustin Nichols – As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XDustinEFLX, and if you like Married…With Children, you can follow my Al Bundy parody account at http://www.twitter.com/bundyisms. Also follow my personal blog at http://nerdslikeme.blogspot.com (feedback is welcome).

Steve Urena – - [email protected]. Enjoy!

Brett Clendaniel is the owner and managing editor of http://www.WrestleChat.net.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected]

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

For more from Jerome Wilen check out his website, Pro Wrestling Ringside – http://prowrestlingringside.blogspot.com

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Is New WWE World Champion Daniel Bryan Doomed To Fail?

December 20, 2011 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan WWE world heavyweight championDaniel Bryan surprised the WWE Universe on Sunday night when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the WWE world heavyweight championship. As much as we have all been waiting for this moment, is it a run doomed to fail?

Let me preface this by saying that I am a huge Daniel Bryan fan and have been for a long time. The first time I saw Bryan was sitting with former Ring of Honor owner Rob Feinstein and our late close friend Doug Gentry as they showed me the talent they were planning to bring in to start Ring of Honor. From that moment I was blown away.

I had the opportunity to call some Bryan’s matches on the independents, including in Ring of Honor. I was a big fan. Not only was a real pro and super nice guy, he was just fantastic in the ring. He was exciting, intense, fun, and was arguably the best all around talent on the independents. That is why most of us were all blown away that the WWE released this great talent a year or so earlier.

When Bryan reached the WWE for a second time, big things were expected. Most that followed Bryan on the independent scene had the confidence in Bryan to become a big success in the WWE. He certainly had the talent, and it didn’t hurt being trained by the great Shawn Michaels. All he needed was an opportunity, which is a whole lot to ask in the land of the WWE.

He finally got it! On NXT you knew they had the confidence in him when they put him in the ring with then WWE world heavyweight champion Chris Jericho in his first big match. The match was great, Bryan was a hit, and the feud with Michael Cole even gave him something of a dynamic. This was more than could have been expected for a highly touted independent prospect like Bryan in the WWE.

Bryan didn’t win NXT , but looked like he was ready for big things. It was apparent quickly that Bryan was going to be counted on as the workhorse of Nexus the night the group attacked John Cena and CM Punk. Why else would the WWE brass trust such a young group in such a pivotal spot? The reason being was that the company knew they could count on Bryan to hold the young group together. Unfortunately that all came crashing down thanks to one of the most controversial angles in recent years.

Bryan was fired in what still remains one of the biggest mysteries of the last several years of WWE decisions. Bryan was fired for choking Justin Roberts with a tie during the angle or spitting at Cena depending upon which story you believe. Bryan followed in the steps of Eddie Guerrero (fired for much different reasons) and went back to the independents, stayed sharp, and worked his way back to the WWE.

For some reason or another the WWE appeared afraid to pull the trigger on Bryan when he came back. Instead of coming back with a monster push and reaching his potential, he was stuck in low card feuds, and was an afterthought on most weeks of television. That all changed following WrestleMania 27.

I wrote up a WrestleMania 28 predictions blog in April for fun. One of the things I predicted was that Bryan would be in the WWE championship picture at WrestleMania 28. My basis for this was the disappointing main-event between John Cena and The Miz and Vince McMahon knowing that he needs a workhorse he can count on in that spot. It was a big wakeup call. Whether he winds up in WrestleMania 28 in that spot or not is still up in the air, but I had a feeling that the company was going to pencil him in that spot.

Money in the Bank 2011 was the coming out party for Bryan. He tore through the match, had a match that would have stolen the show on any other night. He came out on SmackDown and proclaimed that he was going to cash it in at WrestleMania and appeared primed for a big run through then…or so I thought. The WWE started getting him ready alright…by jobbing him for months on SmackDown. Yep, the WWE booked Bryan on a lengthy losing streak following the proclamation.

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I just cannot even fathom the rationale of taking a guy at his hottest peak nine months before WrestleMania 28 and turning him into the “lovable loser.” Any momentum that Bryan had coming off the win and proclamation was lost in a matter of a weeks. While fans familiar with Bryan’s work pre-WWE were still behind him, the majority of the WWE Universe wasn’t buying it. Especially when the announcers reminded them weekly how boring and one-dimensional Bryan was in the ring.

So now here we are a few months later and Bryan is now the champion. On top of being jobbed for the last few months, he not only defeated an injured babyface, but broke his promise to the fans. To me and you, who cares right? Right, but to the kids and families who outnumber us and dress from head to toe in Cena swag, they see Bryan as a loser, a liar, and a cheat. Heck, John Cena spent all of September telling those same fans what a scumbag and cheater Alberto Del Rio was for doing the same thing. How do you think those same fans will feel about Bryan?

I think Bryan has all of the talent to be a headliner in the WWE for years. Unfortunately the WWE Creative Team has done a bang up job over the last year in setting up all of its new WWE champions for failure. The Miz, Del Rio, and even CM Punk to an extent didn’t and aren’t delivering the numbers and business that they otherwise should be bringing in with their championship pushes. Why? Because these guys never had the strong momentum coming into the WWE championship that just about every past champion had in WWE history. So what happens when they get there? The fans don’t buy it and why should they? In the eyes of the majority of the WWE Universe guys like John Cena, Triple H, and Randy Orton are worlds better than the champion, hurting interest in the champ and the title.

As excited as I am to see Bryan with the title, he has a very rough road ahead of him. It is going to be difficult to get fans behind a guy that has been losing matches weekly over the last several months. It will be even harder when you have the commentator reminding you what a lucky, cheating, boring, loser that Bryan is. Yes Michael Cole is a heel, but when he actually has a point in telling fans what a cheater and liar Bryan is, that will hurt.

One thing he has going for him over CM Punk is that he has the opportunity to have some great opponents on the SmackDown roster. With patience, Bryan could get over on SmackDown and become a huge success as champion. As long as the writers continue to play games with the SmackDown guys on RAW, Bryan’s chances of being taken seriously are not very good. If Bryan was kept off RAW and booked against Randy Orton, Sheamus, Mark Henry, and Christian (when he returns) through WrestleMania, he could do great but that isn’t likely to happen.

Rejoice yes, but proceed with caution. Daniel Bryan could be best in the business if given the same opportunities champions of the past were given in his position. Unfortunately I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening. The immediate reaction of former WWE superstar Batista is likely the same as most of the WWE Universe.

“excuse me! did i hear that right? Daniel Bryan World Heavyweight Champ. ummmmmmm…..ok.”

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A Pro Wrestling Boom Period Is On The Way

November 17, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk wins the WWE title at Money in the BankI’ve spent the last three months in a love and work induced haze that has left me both completely jet lagged mentally and emotionally. Obviously, you’ve not come to this article looking for some odd and detailed memoir of some random, unknown writer’s life this fall so I’ll spare you. Mostly, I point this out to really set the stage for the point at hand, with the jet lag came attempts at spurring myself back to where I once was and what was the spur in question?

The good old, hard filtered and strong hitting pro wrestling. As always in my life, when the chips are down and sh*t just seems to hit the fan I lean on the professional wrestling entertainment medium I’ve known all of my life it seems. So the last few months I’ve spent transfixed and also obsessed again with wrestling, a medium I all but swore off until this recent summer when CM Punk was dropping “pipebombs” all over the wrestling world. Which in and of itself is a key piece to the question at hand. With Ring of Honor finally hitting television, TNA wrestling rebranding and refocusing their product to a more homegrown talent emphasis it seems and WWE simply doing what WWE does best: is professional wrestling closer to a boom period than once thought?

Mid-June saw a near overnight sensationalism of pro wrestling after a now infamous promo done by CM Punk on RAW. I can recall it all too well, I was feeling rather sick after a long and hot day in the factory that I formally worked in. Pet food and heat do not mix and lead to one to go mad and sleep at strange hours of the evening, effectively missing RAW, not even that I would have watched had I been awake though. At that point I had sworn off wrestling and focused on MMA over anything. My mind, when not working or attempting to reconcile a now dead and happily so relationship I was watching the great fights going on in the UFC and otherwise. Nonetheless, I woke up the following morning to a buzz by my wrestling fan friends of old. IMs and messages on various social networks were left with a single link on YouTube. I clicked and became hooked again. There I saw, one of the few men I still respected and admired in wrestling:

CM Punk talking about things that pissed him off about professional wrestling. He talked about Johnny Ace being a piece of shit, how people claim John Cena is the best wrestler in the world and how it disgusts him. He did what everyone wanted wrestling to do for almost a decade: just be realistic. He said all of the wild and crazy things, finishing with the creedo: “I will win the WWE championship and I will leave” siting his very real contract expiry the night after the Pay-Per-View in question Money In The Bank. I was dazzled and impressed. CM Punk in one promo did what no promotion, no worker and no promoter could do in a decade: he made wrestling real again for me. That was it, I haven’t missed a show since and have even trickled my interest into other places: notably ROH and TNA.

Now, if you’re an engaged WWE watcher you’re surely reading this thinking “but they fucked up the angle with Punk down the road” with the whole SummerSlam fiasco involving Kevin Nash and Alberto Del Rio. You’re surely thinking that a month after this, after losing the WWE title abruptly and randomly he was thrown in a horribly planned and executed match with Triple H, just to then be his tag partner in a losing effort to the team of Miz and R-Truth in a very anti-climactic fashion. I’m aware of all of that and definitely don’t site that it was failure on WWE’s fault, but there’s a method to it all. With all of those booking snafus and all of the executing that is questionable,

CM Punk is the big hero of it all. Even losing to Del Rio after his Cena match at SummerSlam, he was the victim and was set to be out for revenge which we are finally seeing come to a head at Survivor Series. To me, WWE is simply booking how WWE does so, quickly and consistently. You can hate or love it but it is what it is and certainly changes are happening. Zack Ryder, a guy just a few months ago that was a relative nobody on tv that was a big internet sensation is given big matches and just had a main event slot on RAW last week.

Others such as Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett, guys that were all but forgotten this summer are being featured the way many have been saying for a year they should be. WWE is getting better whether you like it or not and perhaps because of strategic booking of names such as CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Alberto Del Rio and other main event guys rising or risen the WWE can find itself in a much more fruitful financial standing next year and beyond.

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The number one rule to learn regarding pro wrestling is that the business is cyclical. There will be boom periods that are followed by a drought if you will, where arenas are a struggle to fill but you always have to book for the big surge. Be methodical and be ready when the boom comes. WCW is a great example of having no idea and consequently, went out of business. Vince McMahon and company have been subject to great boom periods in WWE and believe me, they know how to deal with it. You already see the piece of the booking pie spread much more evenly between big names.

Mark Henry emerged as perhaps the breakout star of 2011 despite many years of being called useless. With that, Big Show returned and is being featured yet again after many years of being squandered. The key to booking is to be prepared and it seems, debatably perhaps that WWE is doing that. After a completely confusing 2010 booking year, 2011 has been much more focused. CM Punk’s quick rise as the top guy in the company has really forced the company to book more carefully and thus, more guys are getting more over because of it.

WWE is not alone. TNA has had perhaps the most tumultuous year in wrestling history. The year started with Jeff Hardy as TNA’s World Champion and top heel running rampant through the company in a very interesting and well done way. However March rolled around and the now infamous Victory Road event saw Jeff Hardy compete horribly impaired on drugs and subsequently exited from the company. A few months later, Jeff’s brother Matt was arrested with drugs and sent to rehab himself effectively being fired from TNA and leading to a bizarre YouTube suicide saga.

Kurt Angle as well found himself in legal trouble and thus, TNA spent most of the year under disaster control. The World title has changed hands more than the stock market has fluctuated and the focus of the company has gone along with it. However, just as WWE in the summer the focus shifted over to the very effective Bound for Glory series that saw Robert Roode, a longtime midcarder and heavily over member of perhaps the most popular tag team in company history Beer Money emerge as a main event player. He was built all the way to Bound for Glory for the title which ended in a controversial screwjob finish by Angle.

The following week, Angle met his tag partner James Storm and shockingly lost the World title to him. This has now led to an angle that begun as a friendly rivalry that has evolved now, after last week’s iMPACT Wrestling into a blood feud when Roode cheated to beat Storm for the World title.

Many hate this recent angle but I love it. It’s a new and fun way to do the tag team break up angle. Both men leave with World title reigns and also, intrigue is at an all time high for their fans. Roode now can become the top heel of TNA while James Storm is the sympathetic, over babyface. I am far from saying TNA is looking to become a huge force in wrestling. A very weak as well as under utilized undercard is a big problem for the company.

Mismanagement of such stars as Samoa Joe and Rob Van Dam doesn’t help either and the over pushing of Crimson is another big yellow flag for the company. It seems that TNA is always narrow minded: when they focus on a couple of important talents everyone else suffers. Recent changes behind the scenes are a big reason to keep an eye out for TNA’s ascension going into 2012.

Ring of Honor however is the maverick of this whole discussion. Before September 24th, I would have said there was no way ROH could be a predominant force in American wrestling’s television presence. Granted, the Sinclair deal is far from earth shattering. Syndicated television is a dinosaur compared to cable and satellite distribution however for a small and grass roots product such as ROH it is a big step. Piggy bagged by very impressive outings on the growing iPPV format, Ring of Honor’s 2011 has been incredible.

The emergence of Davey Richards, their World Champion and obvious face of the company as well as rising stars such as the amazing Tomasso Ciampa and Michael Elgin have led to ROH being in my opinion the best wrestling product on television today. The biggest cause of interest for me with the company was the Best in the World iPPV and most notably the Kevin Steen promo on ROH and subsequent beatdown of Steve Corino: former mentor and his “sponsor” Jimmy Jacobs.

The way in which this angle has been executed this year has been amazing and aside from the recent, comedic melodrama of the court room skit on ROH TV it has been done in a very realistic and calculated way. Kevin Steen is becoming the rogue hero of ROH and someone that is required viewing material for any wrestling fan looking for the total package.

The television shows, albeit short have been chalked full of great wrestling and focused angles. Going forward, ROH will improve and under the guidance of Jim Cornette, one of the greatest wrestling minds of all time Ring of Honor is the little engine that can in pro wrestling going into 2012.

With all three prominent promotions all seeing relative or projected success, a boom period can be coming sooner than expected. Granted, the insane wrestling business is impossible to project at all but as a fan watching the business ebb and flow, I have a funny feeling some special things are on the horizon for myself and my fellow marks worldwide. Keep your eyes glued to the squared circle and your fingers crossed, crazier things have happened. Hell, George Bush Jr. was re-elected for god’s sake!

Follow George at – http://wrestletribune.blogspot.com & on Twitter @WrestleConsent.

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The Voice of Hardcore Pro Wrestling Fans Isn’t Too Loud These Days

October 27, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Triple H & CM Punk RAWI don’t know what percentage of pro wrestling fans make up the Internet wrestling community. Five percent? Maybe less?

Internet wrestling fans – you know, those of us who go onto websites to read spoilers, argue about booking directions, and debate about why so-and-so is getting a push – know what they enjoy and are vocal about it. They like good matches. They want to see talented wrestlers rewarded. They plead for veterans to pass the torch in meaningful ways to up-and-coming stars.

So it was no surprise that the WWE’s hardcore fans rallied around C.M. Punk over the summer after he gave “the worked shoot promo,” during which he used wrestlers’ real names, made references to the McMahon family’s business practices, and said hello to friend Colt Cabana on live TV.

Hardcore fans have been behind Punk for years, since he plied his trade in ROH. I saw Punk wrestle live years and years ago at an ROH card in some dingy rec center in Revere, MA, and I was impressed. We Internet fans like to see a guy who doesn’t fit the WWE cookie-cutter mold scratch and claw his way to the top. His WWE and World Title wins were real victories for those of us who long for great pro wrestling matches and angles, and his worked shoot interview represented what we hoped was a turning point in the WWE’s bland creative direction.

But now, almost four months later, the engine has sputtered. Two things happened:
- Somehow in the midst of all of this, C.M. Punk – who seemed in complete control of his angle in the summer – lost the steering wheel, and in the process Triple H has again pushed himself to the top at Punk’s expense
- Punk’s great interviews and attitude didn’t really make money or increase TV ratings (and demonstrated why worked shoots don’t always pan out)

Those are bitter pills to swallow for the Internet wrestling community because they expose a truth few of us want to admit: Our opinions don’t matter to the overall health of the WWE.

Instead, it’s what the general audience – the 95% of fans who can’t fathom going online to read wrestling news – likes that counts. And the ratings have proved it: The HHH saga of getting a no-confidence vote has resonated with many, many fans.

Don’t get me wrong. I realize Vince McMahon et al. have manipulated the system and altered plot lines to benefit Triple H, but that’s what family-owned wrestling promotions do. Just ask Verne Gagne or the late Fritz Von Erich.

What hurts the most is it seemed that Punk had gotten hold of the golden key that could open the doors to an edgier, more mature product. Too bad for us hardcores that the rest of the fans didn’t agree with us.

I’ve got no problem with Triple H. He’s a super-talented worker who is going to inherit the biggest wrestling company in the world. Why wouldn’t you make yourself the top star? He’s played the wrestling game very well over the years, and sure, he stepped on many people to do it. I remember when Ultimate Warrior stepped on Triple H, too, during that squash match they had at WrestleMania XII.

The change in the C.M. Punk angle, the constant mocking of Jim Ross, the shoving of Kelly Kelly down our throats – all of them in some way are designed to keep the Internet wrestling fans in check. We can bitch, we can moan, but when you watch Raw each week, you have to conclude that our voice is soft indeed in 2011.

Scott Wallask has followed wrestling for 30 years and writes about growing up watching the WWF in the 1980s on his blog the Boston Garden Balcony.

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Maybe CM Punk just isn’t “the guy” – Inside the Wheelhouse

September 28, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Triple H & CM Punk RAWIt truly pains me to write a blog about this very subject because I have been one of the biggest fans and supporters of CM Punk for quite sometime in the world of wrestling. He is one of the best wrestlers in the world right now because he is the complete package of both in-ring skills and great mic work. He is everything that a “wrestling” fan wants in a “wrestler.” He is not your modern day “sports entertainment” worker and is more of a throwback to the days of wrestling that many of us enjoyed years ago.

He’s got the attitude and the swagger to put the WWE on his very back & run with whatever ball the company will give to him. The WWE gave him his chance during the summer of 2011 or what fans are calling on the internet, “The Summer of Punk II.” He has made wrestling relevant again or at least did in the eyes of those who tuned in & might have tuned out.

But we as wrestling fans need to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize something from the “CM Punk experience” that has lasted us from his infamous promo on June 27, 2011 to right now; the “change” that we wanted CM Punk to make hasn’t happened the way we exactly thought it would when he was first handed the ball this summer.

Let’s face facts. Ratings are dropping on Monday Nights, buy rates are good but they didn’t get any major “CM Punk” spike to them and he is currently in a creative position where he appears lost at the present moment. He has been shuffled around from Kevin Nash to be shotgunned to Triple H, which isn’t his fault at all but he holds the ability to take himself out of this creative hole.

For those who compare him to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin I think you are out of your mind.

Austin is a one of a kind talent who carried the business on his back and picked the WWE out of a major hole they were in & brought them to an era of wrestling that may be its most memorable. Austin was the sole reason why ratings were so high in the late-90s and why buy rates were so good. Sure you had The Rock and Triple H but they didn’t get bigger until he went out with his injury. You had The Undertaker & Mankind but they weren’t doing what Austin was doing for the business. He sits atop the wrestling world as a game & history changer for what was to become of wrestling.

CM Punk, at least for now, has not done such.

It appears that maybe we as CM Punk supporters need to take this sad truth and realize that maybe the WWE just has lost faith in the self proclaimed “best in the world.” Maybe they don’t believe CM Punk will ever be as big as Steve Austin or as big as John Cena & Randy Orton are in the current WWE climate. Maybe this dream we all lived this past summer was exactly that, a dream.

It’s still too soon to tell whether or not CM Punk will ever be “the man” in the WWE. It certainly doesn’t appear that way with a roster headlined by John Cena or Randy Orton anytime soon. The best thing for CM Punk and possibly this business as well, was for John Cena or Randy Orton to have some sort of time off which obviously won’t happen barring any injury.

We can point fingers at the creative team or Vince McMahon himself but it wasn’t like Steve Austin had the best storylines in the WWE. At one time he was called “The Ringmaster” and had “Caribbean strap matches” with Savio Vega. When the “Texas Rattlesnake” was born he was over because the crowd enjoyed his in-ring work & his promos, despite the entire internet love, it never feels like Punk gets those “attitude era pops” on a Monday night. Most of the time you hear some boo’s and as a wrestling fan you wonder if this love for CM Punk may just be based in cyberspace.

I still believe that CM Punk can be “the man” in the WWE but I’m certainly having my doubts by what I have seen in recent months on WWE television. Hopefully the WWE doesn’t give up completely on the “CM Punk experience” as if given the correct build over a good amount of time; he can definitely begin to fill the boots of guys like Steve Austin. One thing we definitely learned from Punk’s rise is that the fans are desperate for something new & original and obviously CM Punk offers that taste for those fans out there.

Is it too soon to tell? Quite possibly. But for right now, it’s not looking to good for CM Punk.

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Is A WWE Heel Turn Coming For Daniel Bryan?

September 26, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel BryanBloggers all over the Internet including yours truly here have questioned about the strange booking of Daniel Bryan. Why is the WWE beating him after winning Money in the Bank? A new story on the WWE website  suggests that it may be part of a bigger angle.

WWE.com has an exclusive video interview with Daniel Bryan. Bryan is interviewed immediately after his match with Sin Cara from Friday Night SmackDown. Bryan goes off on Sin Cara in the video and questions whether they were both in on his controversial loss. The interviewer than asks Bryan if he is cursed since winning Money in the Bank where a frustrated Bryan goes off and says that the WWE hasn’t lived up to their word. He also says that he will live up to his and not cash in before WrestleMania 28.

There are a couple of things at play here. First off, I think this whole post-match interview is an idea they should bring to television. I love it. Second, while there wasn’t an outright suggestion at a heel turn this could surely be the start of one. If Bryan would cash in before WrestleMania and win, it would likely send the heel turn into full gear. However, as long as SmackDown has a heel champion I don’t see it coming unless the idea would be a double turn with Mark Henry.

One thing I like about this is the fact that the WWE is acknowledging Bryan’s streak. Maybe there really is something more at play here than just inept booking? Well, you’d like to think so but unless he turns heel and goes on a winning streak which includes the title, it is still inept booking in my opinion. I have no problem with beating someone as long as it is part of an angle. It gives them a character and if it results in “No more Mr. Nice Guy” for the American Dragon than I am all in.

The only problem I have with this is that it is angle being booked strictly on WWE.com. The interview wasn’t on television nor was it even posted to You Tube at the time of this writing. While the WWE gets sizable traffic to WWE.com, it is probably the least visible medium they have. Only a small percentage of fans will see this while the others will just continue to see Bryan as an overrated loser.

I can’t remember anyone ever winning Money in the Bank and being booked this badly going into their championship matches. As I have stated before, I almost have the feeling that this is some kind of wacky self-fulfilling prophecy from the WWE creative team. Let’s face it. There is certainly a bias when it comes to guys like Bryan, the Hardys, Zack Ryder, and CM Punk who have big followings on the Internet outside of the WWE. I certainly wouldn’t past them to beat Bryan, send him into WrestleMania, see him flop, and then come back and give us the “I told you so.”

I do think that Bryan would make an awesome heel. I think he could turn into one of those kinds of heels that just tortures or stretches babyfaces with his unique submissions, refusing to break holds, etc. I think he needs to work on the aggressive heel interview a bit, but otherwise there is some nice potential there from the former ROH champion.

I am still hoping that Bryan is wrestling in one of the main-events at WrestleMania 28. He is one of the few guys in the WWE that is guaranteed to deliver as advertised in the big spot. Unfortunately you’d never know it with the way he has been booked since July.

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Disappointing WWE SummerSlam 2011 Buyrate

September 26, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

SummerSlam 2011While the summer of Punk may have been sunny for CM Punk fans and Internet message boards, it was more of a disappointing season at the box office. The WWE SummerSlam 2011 buyrate is in and let’s just say that the numbers aren’t too kind to CM Punk as a top guy.

Perception isn’t always reality in professional wrestling and it has never been more evident than this past summer. There was more buzz following CM Punk’s RAW Roulette promo than just about anything sans The Rock returning this year. Yet those seven days of buzz was not significant of overall WWE fan interest. Now that the dust has settled, it is fairly apparent that you need a lot more than one week of shock value to sell an angle to the mass WWE audience.

Mike Johnson has the numbers over at PWInsider.com and they aren’t pretty. According to Mike, SummerSlam saw a 14% decrease in buys as compared to last year’s show. The show did 301,000 buys, 127,000 domestic, and 174,000 international. 300,000 buys wouldn’t have been bad for Money in the Bank but not for one of the big four pay per views.

Last year’s SummerSlam headlined by the great Nexus vs. WWE angle did 350,000 buys. The year before, SummerSlam 2009 headlined John Cena vs. Randy Orton, the return of Degeneration X, and Punk vs. Jeff Hardy did 369,000 buys.

To look at the angle as a whole, you have to include the Money in the Bank 2011 buyrate which was 185,000 buys, 132,000 domestic as well as declining ratings over the course of the CM Punk angle. If you combine everything and look at the big picture, you would have to conclude that as much as you may have liked the angle, it was a failure in terms of business.

Here are just five takeaways right off the top that come to mind after looking at all of the numbers from the Summer of Punk.

Inside references don’t work with the mass WWE audience. Hey, while it may have been nice to pop for Colt Cabana and Ring of Honor mentioned on RAW, the kids in the audience had no clue on what was being discussed. Even as the angle progressed, there was no real explanation by the announcers of even the WWE website as to exactly what CM Punk was talking about or who was being name dropped. To the fans, it was just Punk ranting and raving like…well a punk. I think that there will be a very short life to CM Punk’s pipe bomb.

The WWE booking is at an all time low. The booking of this angle was so easy yet the WWE blew it right at its peak. Punk returned after less than two weeks with a bogus excuse that took all of the steam out of the angle. On top of that, you book a WWE title tournament, give John Cena the belt back without even including him in the tournament, and try and pass the SummerSlam match as champion vs. champion? It was downright ridiculous.

I thought it was stupid and obviously the fans thought it was stupid. On top of that, the WWE really dropped the ball on the booking of CM Punk and his return. Was CM Punk a heel or a babyface? He was a babyface to his niche public, but to the mass audience he is just an obnoxious jerk. He insulted a man’s family, insulted their hero, and stole the title from the WWE yet he is supposed to be a babyface here? The writing here was just so all over the place that I think for the casual WWE audience watching at home, they had a hard time sinking their teeth into it.

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Take a look at last year’s Nexus vs. WWE angle. The story was clear, the heels were clearly defined, and the objective on both sides was something that both hardcore and casual fans could understand. It worked and it would work again with the right talent. Compare that booking to this mess and you would think we were talking about two different companies.

Parody is killing elevation – The parody of the WWE undercard or anyone but John Cena, Randy Orton, and Triple H is killing guys before they even get their push. There is no long term grooming of talent like the WWE used to do to get guys over. This was a problem with Jack Swagger, The Miz, Christian, Alberto Del Rio, and CM Punk.

You can’t just take a guy that you have beaten down for three years off and on and all of the sudden expect people to buy into him as a threat or even a top star. To the casual WWE audience they see Punk vs. Cena as a glorified RAW main-event. This is not the match that fans have been dying to see. That is why Nexus worked so well! They were new and didn’t have the tarnish of bad booking over the course of a year or more before they hit the main-event. The WWE needs to start identifying guys a year or even two ahead of time and protect them before they get the big push. Nobody can succeed with this kind of support.

Stipulations don’t mean a thing anymore - Congratulations WWE, you have done a great job of killing off any value that stipulations used to have in pro wrestling. Remember when you would get excited about a Hair vs. Hair match or a Loser Leaves Town Match? Why? Well because people used to actually leave town. Here you had a situation where not only one, but two stipulations weren’t lived up to before SummerSlam at Money in the Bank and I think it killed a lot of goodwill among the fans. It also doesn’t hurt that you had Punk mock that very point only to have it validated a few weeks later.

Short term planning doesn’t fly anymore - There was once a time where you could say that SummerSlam was on and people would order without even knowing who was wrestling. Those days are also over. The WWE didn’t even have half the card announced before the day of the show. People not only need to know who is wrestling, they need to have an investment in the show.

They can turn on SmackDown to watch Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan but give it a few weeks build and a big match at SummerSlam and that could change. Not having Punk around for the full duration of the SummerSlam promotion hurt the show in a big way. The WWE would have been better off building the original Alberto Del Rio vs. John Cena main event for a month and then going to Cena vs. Punk with Night of Champions. Instead, they just assumed that their robot fans would buy anything and guess what, they won’t.

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Now, More Than Ever, WWE Needs to Cut Down on PPVs

September 13, 2011 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk vs. John CenaBack when the shine was still on the CM Punk ascension, right after Money in the Bank, actually, WWE had a choice to make. They could let Punk sit out for a prolonged period of time, build him up virally and have him come back when the theoretical fan demand for him had reached a fever pitch, or they could bring him back sooner, strike while the proverbial iron was hot and have him at the top of the card for their second biggest pay-per-view of the year.

Then, they set up a match between Punk and Kevin Nash at the end of said PPV, only for that match to “fall through” for whatever reason, be it storyline or for real. This caused them reportedly to move up the Punk/Triple H match they had planned for Survivor Series to Night of Champions.

However, there was a way for the former situation to be rectified while being able to have it both ways so to speak. They could have also had more time to react to a bad situation or tell a better story in the latter situation. All they’d have to do would be cut down on the number of PPVs they were running.

The problem isn’t a new one. People have been complaining about oversaturation of pay-per-view events for years now, how they don’t have the money to shell out for 13 events a year (13!) or that the number of PPVs has really done a number on the care WWE has taken to build each individual feud on the weekly television. Rehashing that territory would be doing just that – rehashing. Still, that reasoning as to why WWE needs to cut back is reaching critical mass. Why so? It’s because a decrease is sorely needed so that new stars can have time to have their own memorable moments, and so that every one of these events is must see, especially if WWE is adamant on remaining at the current price point for each individual event.

Think about how much better of Punk would be right now if there wasn’t such a high count of PPV events. If SummerSlam was on August 28th instead of August 14th, they could have sat him out for two more weeks to do viral stuff and really whip fans of all denominations into more of a frenzy as to whether he’d come back or not.

Sure, three weeks doesn’t sound as tantalizing to some fans as three months, but it’s better than eight days, for one, and two, the reaction at Money in the Bank warranted more than a delayed return. I feel like three weeks would have been a perfect medium between “striking while the iron was hot” and “selling the angle that Punk might not come back”.

Then, what if there was only one pay-per-view event between SummerSlam and Survivor Series instead of the scheduled three? There would be a lot more time either to get Kevin Nash’s physical clearance in order or to build a better story than what’s going on now if the whole Nash-is-fired stuff is part of the angle. That way, you wouldn’t need to bump Triple H/Punk from Survivor Series all the way up to now, and you certainly wouldn’t need to hastily put in a “win or you’re fired” stipulation to try and build more suspense for the outcome.

Granted, the idea to take any PPV off the schedule, whether it’s just one event or whether it’s anywhere in upwards of five (which would give you an ideal 8 in my opinion) may not be appetizing to WWE at this point. Pay-per-view doesn’t really have a lot of overhead, and they make back a lot of money on even the low drawing installments. That being said, I have to wonder what the business logistics would be of having 13 so-so-to-good drawing events against having eight really well-built events that all do at the very least 200K buys would be.

Even if it’s a wash for them in the short term, wouldn’t attempting to build a stronger audience with the prospect of word of mouth, positive reviews and better coverage from fans in the media, from peons like myself all the way up to folks who have more of a boomstick like Bill Simmons and Michelle Beadle, be worth it in the long run? Wouldn’t it be better to have a stronger build to fewer PPVs while guys like Punk, Alberto del Rio, The Miz, R-Truth, Sheamus, Christian, Wade Barrett, Daniel Bryan, Evan Bourne, Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes all develop stronger personalities and gain more of a folklore and emotional equity that would not only make crowds react to them more strongly, but want to pay money to see them as much as possible?

Furthermore, wouldn’t you want to rehabilitate or enhance the images and the emotional equity of guys who are already over? No matter what anyone says, no one can’t improve as a character. John Cena brings in fans now, but what if he was part of a really memorable story that ended up becoming embedded in the WWE’s mythos? You don’t think that wouldn’t enhance business and maybe make fans who weren’t initially Cena fans reconsider and buy something with his likeness on it?

There’s no reason why every WWE PPV can’t seem like a must-see event. With thirteen PPVs on the calendar at $45-55 a pop and sometimes as little as two weeks build, that is almost impossible to do. However, even without lowering the price point, taking five events off the calendar would give more time to tell a story that’s worth shelling out that kind of scratch for and might attract larger audiences to PPV overall over time. Plus, it would enhance everyone in the company.

Staying the course would be a recipe for failure, and it would damn CM Punk and others of his ilk to a career of irrelevance. Why not do everyone a favor and slim down?

Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.

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