On November 18, 2012, at the annual Survivor Series PPV, C.M. Punk defended his WWE Championship in a triple threat match against John Cena and Ryback. Just when it looked as if Punk was about to taste defeat, out came three men dressed in black. They delivered a triple power bomb to Ryback through the announcers table, thus allowing Punk to score the pinfall inside the ring on a prone Cena. The group consisting of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns would become collectively known as the Shield.
One year later, The Shield has become the omnipresent force of WWE. They were often involved in the top angles and best matches every week on television and worked with virtually every major star in the company. In many ways they have been the backbone of the company this year.
But no discussion of their importance to the product can begin without stating the obvious—The Shield is WWE’s way of acknowledging they learned from the mistake they made with Nexus.
Three years ago The Nexus took WWE by storm. Few may remember because they were buried so horribly, but their debut angle on June 7, 2010 was among the most heated, spectacular moments in the history of Monday Night Raw. However, their momentum quickly fizzled and the group soon became a mere footnote in WWE history.
There is a difference in how the company views the long-term potential of The Shield when compared to Nexus. Management had little confidence that any member of Nexus would become a major star once they disbanded. With the exception of Ryback (who is on a decline) that prophecy was pretty accurate. On the contrary, many of the higher ups believe all three Shield members have the potential to make it as big time players.
Another reason I believe they have been so successful is because each individual brings a distinct element to the mix. Ambrose is the leader and one of the more psychologically sound wrestlers you will find today. Some have even compared him to a young Terry Funk. In the world of professional wrestling you can’t ask for a better compliment than that. Rollins is the daredevil and most versatile worker of the three, while Reigns is the quiet powerhouse. Together they make a unique package.
Their first few weeks on the main roster consisted of them coming to Punk’s aid whenever it seemed like his championship reign was in jeopardy. They soon transitioned into a feud with Daniel Bryan, Kane and Ryback, eventually making their in-ring debut against the trio at last December’s TLC PPV. The Shield emerged victorious in what turned out to be one of the best matches of 2012.
Despite Ambrose and Rollins having years of experience on the independent circuit, and Reigns being a product of the WWE developmental system, all three came off as seasoned main eventers. I’m convinced that match changed a lot of people’s perceptions of the group.
Even though they had a tremendous initial outing, I thought they would have a few hot weeks before disbanding and going their separate paths. But as time progressed their push only got stronger. Contrary to how WWE uses most of its young talent, it appeared that The Shield was getting a fair shot at playing with the big boys.
The Shield began 2013 running through the best that WWE had to offer. They defeated the team of Cena, Sheamus and Ryback at the Elimination Chamber PPV and beat Sheamus, Big Show and Randy Orton at WrestleMania. Two weeks later they overcame the team of Bryan, Kane and Undertaker in a hot six-man tag on Raw. It was Undertaker’s first match on Raw in nearly three years. That same week on Smackdown we saw Undertaker vs. Ambrose in the main event. What a long way they had come in such a short time span.
Working with a legend such as Undertaker was a big feather in their cap. Undertaker only makes a limited amount of appearances per year and for him to request a tag and singles match against members of The Shield was a sign of the respect he has for them. They even laid Undertaker out with their patented triple power bomb. Undertaker’s last appearance on WWE television saw him decimated by the group.
As summer rolled around, The Shield began setting their sights on championship glory. All three members captured their first taste of gold at the Extreme Rules PPV, with Ambrose winning the U.S. championship and Rollins and Reigns capturing the Tag Team titles. This period was also notable for being the start of Daniel Bryan’s rise toward true main event superstardom. Bryan was involved in some tremendous matches against The Shield in various combinations. The two that stood out most to me was a May 20 tag match on Raw where he partnered with Kane and Kofi Kingston and a match against Rollins on June 10. There is an old saying of how every great hero needs a great villain. Bryan and The Shield complemented each other perfectly in that regard.
Rollins and Reigns held the belts for five months until losing to Goldust and Cody Rhodes on the Oct. 21 in a great match. Ambrose is still the U.S. champion.
Their stock rose even further as they took on the role of Triple H’s enforcers in The Authority, where they are responsible for putting the boots to anyone that crosses his path. They continue to be featured at the top of the cards, even participating in last night’s main event on Smackdown.
Currently, WWE is in the beginning stages of grooming Reigns to be a main event singles star. He’s been given a lot of time to shine in recent performances and wound up as the sole survivor for his team at last Sunday’s Survivor Series PPV. Before that happens, I‘m sure we will see the long awaited Shield vs. Wyatt Family program.
For bringing tag team wrestling back to the forefront and being an integral part of the company for the entire year, The Shield have cemented their legacy as one of the best stables to ever grace WWE.
Hey everyone! Last night, I attended WWE Raw from the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. As I did with the Impact Wrestling show I attended a couple of months ago, I would like to share my thoughts from the evening:
- This was by far the most interesting show I’ve attended if for no other reason than for the unique ticket situation I found myself in. I arrived to the arena around 6:40 and the show officially began at 7:30. As I was making my way to my seat, I encountered a friend who was in a section above me. Come to find out, there had been some kind of error with our tickets. Our seats were blocked off and most of the people on our rows had to get new seats. The ushers told us to wait on the front row while they figured out a solution. Eventually, they told us to go to the box office to have our tickets replaced. On the way there, we ended up stopping to play a game of WWE ’13, which I was clobbered in. Much to our surprise, they ended up sitting us together. However, as soon as our tickets were scanned for re-entry, the attendants told us they were used. So we went back and got new tickets again. They worked that time! So basically, we got to sit together in much better seats than we originally had. The only downside is that they took away my original pink ticket (I purchased it during Breast Cancer Awareness month) that really stood out amongst my collection of wrestling memorabilia.
- As a result of our ticket situation, we missed all of WWE Superstars. From what I heard, Brodus Clay and Zack Ryder competed, so it wasn’t like we missed anything special.
- The section we were in had lots of kids, but a fair number of older men. This is where things got weird. It seemed as if the men didn’t react to anything for the entire show. I’m 27 and most of them appeared to be a good ten years older than I was and they didn’t even react to the commercials that aired plugging the recent Attitude Era and NWO DVD releases. My friend and I were making several references to old school wrestling throughout the evening and they acted as if they had no clue as to what we were talking about.
- Not sure how it came across on television, but it was a pretty hot crowd for the most part. The building also appeared to be mostly full. I’d estimate about 10,000 people were in attendance.
- Ryback was far and away the most popular guy on the show. Randy Orton was next followed by John Cena. It’s possible that I could be confusing Orton and Cena’s reactions, but Ryback was clearly positioned as the big star and the final segment with him against Punk and the Shield blew the roof off the building.
- From what I saw, the most popular merchandise was John Cena’s “Salute to the Cenation” shirt. Tons of kids and adults wore them and I saw very few people wearing his latest 10th anniversary shirt. There were lots of fans with Ryback shirts.
- The match of the night was the fatal four-way of Antonio Cesaro vs. Kofi Kingston vs. R-Truth vs. Wade Barrett. It was a long and very well worked match. I’d go so far as to say it was the best live WWE match I’ve seen. Everyone worked hard and there were a ton of good false finishes near the end. It was all action and there were some points where I honestly had no idea who would win. Cesaro was super impressive and really took his game to a new level. I can’t wait to go back and watch the match on You Tube because if it came across that good live, it must’ve looked awesome on television.
- I was totally shocked to see Vince McMahon. It was my first time ever seeing him in person.
- The C.M. Punk and Paul Heyman promo got a ton of heat. They are magic together, so it was no surprise.
- Compared how she is booked most weeks, AJ was scarcely used. She was only in a brief match with Tamina and wasn’t seen for the rest of the show.
- It was really apparent that Miz is not working out well as a good guy. Punk just obliterated him on the mic in both of their segments. Miz is a natural bad guy and being good just doesn’t suit him.
- The Shield got a ton of heat for their various attacks throughout the show. The fans definitely view them as something special.
- I was surprised that the Cena & Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big Show match went on so early. The crowd went crazy for the finishing sequence of the simultaneous Attitude Adjustment and White Noise.
- As with any live show, it never ceases to amaze me how different the show is from what you watch on television. My friend was able to spot the production people and picked up on a lot of what they were doing. He even saw one of the stagehands direct the Shield to do one of their run-ins. During Sin Cara’s entrance, he had to wait on the ramp for about four minutes until the commercial break ended. We also had a great view of Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler and could see when they were getting information from the ring announcer and others. Plus it was neat to see the ring crew hustling to get things in place for the final segment.
- No matter how many shows I attend, the shock of the pyro gets me every time!
Last night, wrestling fans around the world were witness to one of the most surreal moments in the history of WWE when Hall of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler suffered a heart attack live on Monday Night Raw. It was among the scariest moments I’ve experienced as a fan and one I hope never repeats itself for as long as I live. Last night’s edition of Raw emanated from the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. Earlier in the evening Lawler had competed in a brief tag match with Randy Orton against the team of Dolph Ziggler and C.M. Punk.
After the match, he was back at ringside performing his usual announcing duties when he began to violently convulse before collapsing to the floor. Several live accounts from fans and reporters in attendance stated that Lawler appeared to have vomited, grabbed his chest and turned blue. Immediate medical attention was given to Lawler which no doubt saved his life.
His broadcast partner Michael Cole was visibly shaken for the remainder of the show. On three occasions, he provided the television audience with updates as to his medical progress. As Raw went off the air the last we heard was that Lawler had stabilized and was breathing on his own, yet still in serious condition. Out of respect for Lawler, there was no further announcing for the duration of the show, which made it one of the more notable episodes in Raw history.
More than any other event in recent memory, last night’s event was perhaps the closest approximation to the May 1999 death of Owen Hart. Owen fell to his death on a live WWE PPV show while being descended into the ring from the ceiling. On that evening, Lawler (who was announcing at ringside) was among the first people to rush in and administer aid to Owen. Many fans have noted the irony of Owen’s older brother Bret being in attendance last night (he was a heavy focal point of the entire show). The parallels in the commentary were also astounding. No fan will ever forget the moment when a somber Jim Ross looked into the camera to announce to the world that Owen had died. The fear among all watching was the Cole would announce those very same words about Lawler.
I’m not going to lie. I was absolutely terrified. In a business known for being fake, last night was a tragic reminder of how real things can get. On a personal note, Lawler is one of the last remaining links to an older era of WWE for many of my generation. The man has been with the WWE since 1992 and while others have come and gone, he’s been a cornerstone of the promotion for the better part of 20 years. In that sense he is just as vital to the promotion as mainstays like Undertaker and HHH. Lawler’s announcing is just as much of a staple in wrestling as ropes and turnbuckles. I think all of us were genuinely scared we were going to lose one of the greatest legends the sport has produced.
Lawler is expected to pull through. If anything, this may have been a signal that it’s time for him to hang up the boots for good. Though Lawler is 62 and has been primarily used as announcer during his tenure, he occasionally wrestles. He’s been embroiled in a feud with top WWE star C.M. Punk over the last several weeks and was involved in a hot feud against the Miz last year that resulted in a better than expected PPV match. He sparingly competes on small independent shows across the country.
Unlike most wrestlers his age, Lawler is in excellent physical shape and performs better than many guys who are 20 years younger. A large part of that could be attributed to the fact that in an industry notorious for its rock n roll lifestyle, Lawler never smoked, drank or used steroids. That distinction alone sets him apart from the vast majority of his peers.
In addition to the appearance of Bret, last night’s show was to originally feature a Pat Patterson appreciation night ceremony. The live audience was informed the ceremony would be postponed due to the circumstances.
Numerous news outlets including Fox Sports, ABC News and the Baltimore Sun covered the story and several of the biggest names in wrestling have expressed their support for Lawler.
I pray he makes a full and speedy recovery and in the words of Cole: “Jerry, beat this thing. Get ‘em King.”
Update 9/12- Several current and former WWE personalities have taken to Twitter to offer their support for Lawler. The following tweets just go to show the level of respect he has in the industry:
“I’m shaken by the news of my friend Jerry Lawler’s medical emergency in Montreal. Hands shaking. Prayers for the King. I feel helpless.”
The Iron Sheik:
“God bless the Jerry Lawler I love him forever.”
“Stay Strong KING @JerryLawler my prayers are with you bro.”
“Best wishes and prayers to @JerryLawler one of my favorite people in the WWE. King has been a champion for 40 yrs and he’ll beat this too!”
“Thinking of Lawler. I’m sure he’d appreciate all of your well wishes. Stay strong, King.”
“My best wishes go out to Jerry Lawler and his family.”
“this is so sad, i cannot beleive Jerry Lawler had a heart attack during raw, pray for him…..”
“All my prayers & wishes go out my to my dear friend @JerryLawler & his loved ones tonight as he battles through this! Xoxo #PrayForLawler”
“man just heard about @JerryLawler.Hope your okay King.The wrestling world and beyond love you!”
The Blue Meanie:
“Waitin to hear about Jerry brings back bad memories of when we all waited & prayed for Owen to be ok. 1 of the worst nights for all involved”
“I’ve just heard about Jerry Lawler!! Time for prayer everybody!! We’re here for you King, God Bless!!”
“Going to bed I look fwd to tomorrow & hearing about how @JerryLawler pulled the strap down & blew an amazing comeback #PrayForLawler”
“Praying for Jerry Lawler tonight. He’s a true fighter and an awesome person.”
“Am so shocked to hear about Jerry Lawler having a heart attack on Raw. PLEASE everyone pray for him 2 have a speedy recovery.”
“Just got off the Raw Live Chat. Please continue 2 pray for Jerry Lawler. All of us are a family under circumstances like this #PrayForJerry”
Ego. It’s the one word that defines the essence of professional wrestling and is the key ingredient every wrestler needs in order to be successful. Just like anything else in life, having too much of an ego can be a bad thing.
This past Monday on Raw, wrestling fans worldwide were subjected to one of the most blatant abuses of ego ever seen in WWE. I’ll go so far as to say it was among the most self-serving and narcissistic moments I’ve seen in the two decades I’ve followed the business.
In case anyone missed it, this week’s show was the HHH Appreciation Night. Well, not officially as in the case of Edge and Shawn Michaels (two men who had appreciation ceremonies), but you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Throughout the evening the appearance of HHH, who was to make a big announcement, was endlessly hyped along with numerous videos featuring his career highlights. With how much he was pushed they should have just replaced the show with an airing of his 2008 DVD collection King of Kings: There is Only One.
Before I continue, I would like to say I don’t normally approve of HHH rants. Whether you love him or hate him, you cannot deny he is among the greatest superstars in the history of WWE. He works his tail off between the ropes and has a laundry list of classic matches to his credit. I will never knock the man’s performance inside the ring. Over the last few years it’s become kind of hard for me to knock his political agenda as well. I always thought he got an unfair shake from most simply because of his relationship with Stephanie McMahon. Being married to your boss’s daughter does make you an automatic lightning rod for controversy. My defense to those criticisms was always that he became a star long before he married into the ruling family. Besides, HHH came up in the business with Shawn Michaels and Kevin Nash, two of the most notorious backstage politicians of the 90s (though I love Michaels now as a human being). To put it bluntly, HHH is on the short list of most powerful and smartest wrestlers in history. The fact he will one day inherit the WWE says it all.
But back to Monday. To me the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back occurred during his entrance to the ring. I figured he was going to do some sort of scripted retirement speech that would subtly hint at a potential rematch against Brock Lesnar. However, I was not expecting to see announcers Michael Cole and Josh Matthews stand solemnly at attention as though they were honoring the president of the United States. For me, that was the moment where I could no longer take it seriously.
Even in defeat to Lesnar, which he should’ve sold by taking weeks off from television, HHH returned one week later and came off as the most important person in the company. One would almost forget he actually lost his SummerSlam match. It’s no secret they are building towards a rematch later this year. While HHH losing twice to Lesnar would be surprising at best, I can’t possibly imagine HHH thinking it would be a good idea to have Lesnar lose before his tentative WrestleMania 29 match against Undertaker. I guess we’ll all know the answer in a few months.
However, I would like to spend the rest of this article comparing and contrasting HHH to another WWE legend. By coincidence, the man I’m talking about just lost a retirement match to Dolph Ziggler last week and is known for having one of the biggest egos in all of wrestling. That man is Chris Jericho.
Last September, HHH returned to action for his first PPV match following his WrestleMania 27 encounter with Undertaker. At the time C.M. Punk was the hottest guy in WWE and was finally coming into his own as a main event player. So what happened? Of course, HHH had to come back and beat him at Night of Champions. Jericho returned this past January from a year plus absence and guess what he did? He lost to Punk at two straight PPVs.
In February of 2011, HHH returned to Raw after being out of action for most of 2010. On his first night back, he cut a promo where he basically said he had beaten everyone of importance in WWE and how he looked around the locker room and noticed there wasn’t anyone left worth challenging. He even buried Sheamus and made him look like an inept fool (made even worse since Sheamus had the storyline reason for putting him on the shelf for most of the previous year). Anytime Jericho returns, he makes it his mission to put over younger talent and make them look as good as possible.
In 2004, HHH authored the book Making the Game: Triple H’s Approach to a Better Body. It was a guide to his training regime mixed with autobiographical bits on his career. Nevertheless, it flopped. Jericho’s 2007 autobiography, A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex, and its 2011 follow up, Undisputed : How to Become World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, are considered two of the best wrestling books ever written and both achieved success on the New York Times Bestseller List.
HHH starred in Blade Trinity, which was largely panned by critics as the worse film in the Blade trilogy. HHH also starred in The Chaperone, one of the very worst WWE films ever produced (which covers a lot of ground). Jericho has competed on Dancing with the Stars and is lead singer of the heavy metal band Fozzy. He appears regularly on television as a talking head on pop culture issues and is a genuine celebrity outside of wrestling. He even appeared on the cover of a recent issue of Revolver Magazine. To the best of my knowledge the only magazine cover, outside of wrestling publications, HHH ever appeared on was Muscle & Fitness.
Jericho has often said, even on his WWE released documentary, that he doesn’t want to retire with a grand farewell celebration. He wants to quietly ride out into the sunset never to be seen again. After watching Raw on Monday, it became apparent HHH wishes to go out with an epic spectacle filled with the same level of emotion as his idol Ric Flair and WWE Hall of Famer Edge.
If you were to conduct a unanimous poll to the vast majority of the WWE locker room as to who are the most respected stars on the current roster, Jericho’s name would likely appear right after the Undertaker’s on many of the responses.
Jericho is a man with an ego. You have to have an ego and ruffle a few feathers to make it to the top of the WWE food chain. However, unlike HHH, Jericho has used his ego to help elevate everyone around him. Even at 43, HHH’s ego will not allow him to realize that the business does not revolve around him.
When the book is closed on HHH’s career, his legacy will always fall short of the big four of modern wrestling: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin and Rock. And even though the record books indicate otherwise, he will never have the universal respect of fellow peers such as Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio, Edge and John Cena. No number of championships, great matches or false retirements can take away from the fact he will forever be remembered as one of the most selfish wrestlers of his generation.
Stay down for the good of everyone involved in the company you will run one day! Lol
I want to wish everyone a happy Monday. As you go about your daily activities be sure to execute them in cheerful manner. My hope for everyone is that today sets the tone, in a positive way, for the rest of your week. Bad things may happen, but I promise your week will turn out better if you keep an optimistic attitude.
I also hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. I must say this past weekend was one of the more eventful ones I’ve had in a long time. I mainly spent the majority of it with my girlfriend and her family/friends. I think my body has officially caught itself up from the level of sleep it lost on Saturday!
Before I go, I’d like to share some good news. Yesterday, I came upon a police roadblock. It was a simple driver license check. After I handed my license to the officer he quickly glanced over it and asked where my eyeglasses were. That question caught me off guard since I haven’t worn eyeglasses in years. He pointed out on my license that I had a restriction for wearing corrective lenses. Then I had a momentary mental flashback of how I did have to get an eye exam when I went to renew my license two years ago.
I told the officer that I had completely forgotten and he told me he would overlook it. He said he could’ve given me a ticket, but told me he wouldn’t since he was the only officer on duty at the time. He then returned my license and told me to have a blessed day (and to keep a pair of eyeglasses in my car at all times until the restriction is removed). I don’t know if I can ever recall an officer telling me to have a blessed day, but I certainly did after that. It’s always great when you don’t have to give away your hard earned money to the state.
This morning I was thrilled to discover a new fan of my blog. I was going through my junk e-mail when I came across a message from a person who recently read my blog. They told me how much they enjoyed the content and encouraged me to keep up the good work. So I will!
I will be attending tonight’s live taping of WWE Monday Night Raw from the Greensboro Coliseum. I got my tickets weeks ago and am looking forward to the show. WWE only comes to Greensboro once a year and I’ve attended each of their shows since 2009. I’m super excited because this will be my second live Raw taping. I’ve been to five house shows (non-televised events) and a Smackdown taping. The last live Raw I went to in Fayetteville was extremely boring, plus I had terrible seats and could hardly see anything. I’m super excited about the show since my girlfriend is going with me. She’s not that into wrestling, but I have a strong feeling she will enjoy the overall experience.
Take care folks and have a super day.
Hey everyone. In lieu of writing a typical wrestling post, I’d like to take some time to share my thoughts from last night’s edition of Monday Night Raw. In my opinion, it was ridiculously good show and WWE is clearly on the right track to building up the key matches for Wrestlemania 28. There were a ton of great things about the show, so let’s get into it:
- The opening promo battle between Chris Jericho and C.M. Punk was epic. It was the moment that fans have been anticipating ever since Jericho’s return to the company. We all knew from day one that they were building to a confrontation amongst these two extremely talented performers, but it seemed as if they struggled to get there. Jericho won a battle royal last week to officially get the shot against Punk, but it was their promo from last night that really put things into overdrive. There is nothing better in wrestling than to see two guys go back and forth over a heated issue and they both came with a full deck on hand. There have been a ton of good promos on Raw lately (HHH/Undertaker/Shawn Michaels and John Cena/Rock), but these two proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, why they are among the top talkers in all of professional wrestling today.
- I also enjoyed another champion vs. champion match between Punk and Daniel Bryan. They are two of the best all-around wrestlers on the planet and this was actually the third match they’ve had against each other on television this year. Even though it was a backdrop for the Teddy Long/ John Laurinaitis feud, the match was still very good.
- Jericho’s post-match attack on Punk was masterfully orchestrated. Jericho displayed a vicious nature that he’s lacked since coming back and it appeared to get over with the crowd in a major way.
- I must admit I’m very intrigued by the change in Eve Torres’ character. Her altercation with Cena last week was brilliant and she really seems to be shining in the role of a manipulative vixen. She’s displaying the best acting and promo abilities of her career thus far.
- This Long/Laurinaitis feud has been extremely entertaining. I think a big reason for that is because Laurinaitis is so good in his role as an arrogant boss. I’ve never cared much for Long and I really would like it if Laurinaitis were to become the G.M. of both Raw and Smackdown. Plus it gives the guys like David Otunga and Santino Marella something to do over the next few weeks.
- That three-way tag match of Primo/Epico vs. Kofi Kingston/R. Truth vs. Jack Swagger/Dolph Ziggler was tremendous while it lasted. All three teams had great chemistry with each other and there were a ton of cool spots in the match. Kingston was the standout, yet Ziggler continued to prove why he’s among the top performers in the business. I was actually expecting a title change, but Epico and Primo squeaked out the victory. The only thing I didn’t like was how Kane interfered afterwards, thus rendering all of their hard work and momentum as useless.
- The final segment with Rock and Cena was everything it was supposed to be. Rock can do no wrong when he’s in front of the crowd and they hung on his every word as usual. He did a great job of cranking up the seriousness, but also got plenty of catchphrases and crowd chants going. He did address what Cena mentioned last week about him promising the fans he’d never leave again and how he was going to beat Rock for all the boys in the back who bust their butts every night for the company.
Cena’s arrival midway through certainly upped the ante and created a genuinely electrifying atmosphere. When these two are in the ring together you can see how much of a different level they are on compared to anyone else in wrestling today. This feud is being played up as though there is legitimate beef between the two (there are some very real feelings involved). Cena did a good job of one-upping the Rock while saying some pretty clever lines, but Rock, even on his worst day, is still among the most charismatic guys in history and it’s impossible to ever surpass him on the mic. This was a strong ending that made you even hungrier to see where they will continue with this.
This past week on Monday Night Raw, John Cena delivered what was easily among of the best promos (interview) of his career.
The subject matter was really no different than things we’ve heard from him in the past regarding his Wrestlemania 28 opponent Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. You know the drill– he discussed how Rock promised he’d never leave the WWE and how he only comes back in time to promote a new movie and not because he really cares about the fans. The big difference in his promo from Monday was that he spoke with a conviction and genuine passion that you rarely see from him nowadays. There wasn’t any of the typical B-level humor and cheesy lines we’ve come to expect. For the first time in ages it seemed that Cena was dead serious about getting his message across. In many ways it was as if Cena was delivering a genuine shoot (unscripted interview) as opposed to a typical WWE-style interview.
The unique irony to all of this is that Rock does legitimately care about the wrestling business and his millions of fans. He may be a full-time actor who is only able to make a few WWE appearances per year, but to somehow insinuate that he is faking his love for the business that made him a star in the first place is foolish thinking at best.
And this is where the real question I wish to address comes into play. Should current fans and WWE performers feel resentment towards Rock for becoming a success in Hollywood and returning to headline this year’s Wrestlemania?
On the surface I would say no, yet I can understand both arguments.
There is a definitely an underlying tension amongst many in the WWE locker room towards the Rock. Last year, both C.M. Punk and Randy Orton went public about their animosity. Earlier this week, Wrestlezone, a wrestling news site, reported a story about a WWE star who anonymously tweeted the following comments about the Rock/Cena feud:
“[The Rock] comes in to use WWE to get back the audience he lost doing Disney movies, which is fine but he’s been back over a year and name one person he helped make a bigger star since then? No one. He’s here for himself, he keeps to himself, and he keeps someone who’s actually touring here all year from making a bigger payday at the bigger shows. It’s all about making this the “biggest” Mania of all time. OK, then what do we do the rest of the year? Who’s been made? You think he took ANY blame for Survivor [Series] not drawing? Of course not, but how do you feud with a guy on the Titantron? Cena nailed the guy dead on tonight. Say anything about HHH, Taker, etc. still being in the top spot but if they were needed to work the road, they would and they would still work their asses off as much as they needed to. Rock is out for Rock and the idea he’s here to better anything but his own wallet is the biggest work of 2012.”
Wow. Someone is obviously a bit salty! However, in my opinion, those feelings are a huge positive for the progression of the Rock/Cena feud. Cena’s promo was apparently representative of a prevalent mindset amongst those on the current roster and there is no better thing in today’s business than to inject real emotion into a wrestling storyline.
On the flipside, nearly everyone will admit that having Rock and Cena in the main event will possibly make this the highest-grossing Wrestlemania in history. It’s a genuine dream match, the likes of which WWE hasn’t been capable of producing in quite some time. Last year’s show with Rock serving as guest host did the second-biggest PPV numbers of any wrestling show in history. It doesn’t take a genius to predict this year’s show should easily topple that. The revenue generated from having Rock wrestle will guarantee everyone on the show will come out with a significantly larger paycheck.
I believe there is an inherent jealousy factor to all of this. It must be a huge morale killer to all the top guys on the current roster to realize that no matter how hard they try and successful they become, they will never be able to draw the type of money and attract the mainstream attention of Rock. The painful truth is that it took a less than part-time guy to come back and make wrestling seem relevant again to the masses. Ouch!
And is the Rock to blame for this? No. It isn’t his fault that WWE has failed to make more transcendent stars like himself and Steve Austin over the last decade. Cena is their biggest star, yet will likely never attain the level of success and track record as a genuine drawing card that Rock has.
In fact, Rock is unlike any wrestler in history. He debuted with WWE in 1996 and was a bonafide household name by 1998. Of course, professional wrestling as a whole was in a boom period in America during that time and nearly everyone who became some type of a big star in the WWE or WCW became an enduring star to a generation of fans. But make no mistake about it, Rock and Austin were the biggest.
It was only natural that his charisma would translate into success on the silver screen. For decades, wrestlers had dabbled in acting, yet Rock became the first, and only, to become a legitimate breakout star and has starred in many of Hollywood’s biggest box office hits for the last several years.
If I had the option between being body slammed every night or attending red carpet premieres around the world, I wonder what my choice would be? I think I’d take my chances with acting.
The simple truth of the matter is that Rock has nothing left to prove in wrestling. He’d simply done all there was to do. He achieved a level of fame, respect and global recognition that has really only been achieved by three other wrestlers of the modern era (Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan and Austin). Are we to crucify him for deciding to move on and reach new plateaus?
Writer’s note: This story also appeared as a guest post on the Wrestling Observer/Figure Four Weekly website at http://www.f4wonline.com/more/more-top-stories/96-wwe/24408-guest-post-should-fans-resent-rocks-success
This past Monday on Raw, a new chapter took place in what has the potential to be one of the best WWE feuds in many years. Of course I’m talking about the C.M. Punk-Chris Jericho program.
For several reasons this feud has captivated the minds of several within the IWC (internet wrestling community aka “smart fans”) and the reasons are quite obvious. Both are two of the top performers of this era. They are among the elite few in the WWE that can do it all. When it comes to working an exciting match, making their opponents look good and cutting consistently excellent promos (interviews), it doesn’t get much better than them.
They are also similar because they were both guys who many thought would never make it as far in the business as they did. They are both small guys by typical WWE standards (Jericho certainly was when he debuted in 1999 and Punk was, but the stigma of big men kind of changed by the time he came) and overcame their fair share of backstage politics to make it to the top. Anyone that has read Jericho’s second book, Undisputed, knows about the intense heat he had amongst the wrestlers and management when he broke into the company. And any real insider knows that C.M. Punk’s road to superstardom was filled with many potholes along the way. Plus Punk’s tattooed body and non-muscular physique is a far cry from the clean cut appearance of John Cena. I believe fans genuinely respect the two for all the obstacles they overcame.
Another striking similarity which sets both apart in the current WWE scene is their incorporation of “non-WWE style” moves into their repertoire. Before both arrived in WWE, they made a name for themselves in other promotions and have extensive international experience. Therefore, they are able integrate a variety of unique holds into their matches that are rarely seen from other performers.
I believe their similarities are the prime reason why this feud has been so hotly anticipated. In a sense, you could say that Punk is the next generation version of Jericho. From the storyline on Monday, it appears that Jericho is playing the role of the guy who has returned only to discover that all the top guys in the company have stolen all the concepts and gimmicks he popularized. That is a point well worth mentioning since, before he left in 2010, Jericho’s motto was “I’m the best in the world at what I do” and Punk currently refers to himself as the “best in the world.” His promo was excellent and it was the perfect twist of irony that Punk interrupted his promo only to stand in silence while Jericho blasted into him for having the audacity to not say anything.
It got better in the main event later that evening as Punk was about to make a pin attempt on Dolph Ziggler only to have Jericho take him off and score the win. To add insult to injury, Jericho grabbed Punk’s championship belt from ringside and then sat with it in the center of the ring in the same Indian-style pose that Punk has made into his own signature over the last few months. I’m sure every member of the IWC was rejoicing at that point!
It’s a given that these two will be competing against each other in one of the premiere matches at Wrestlemania. Both will be apart of the Raw Elimination Chamber match in a few weeks and its been heavily rumored that Jericho could win the belt and then go on to defend it against Punk at Wrestlemania. If given the right amount of time, I believe these two could possibly steal the show on the biggest stage of the year. However, I hope their Wrestlemania encounter will be the first of many more matches to come between the two.
WWE started off its new year with a bang. And that bang was in the form of Chris Jericho, who made his return to Monday Night Raw after a year plus absence. Jericho is the only wrestler I’ve seen in my life who has debuted three times for the same promotion, yet still make it come across as a big deal every time.
Jericho first appeared in WWE in 1999. No wrestling fan of that era will likely ever forget his classic debut where he interrupted an interview from the Rock. Many people who follow wrestling consider it the greatest debut in the history of the sport. His return in 2007 came after a near three year absence and saw him complete what many critics considered as the best run of his entire career (and that’s saying a lot when you consider the awesome 20 year career he’s had). His return last night was just as monumental. He easily got the biggest ovation of the night and most shockingly was that he did so without barely saying a word on the microphone. He spent his entire time playing to the crowd, which will no doubt lead to something bigger next week.
Some have criticized his return by saying it was too much to have him return without cutting a traditional interview. Well, the one thing about Jericho is that he’s never been traditional. I felt the segment was a unique way to make an impact. In interviews he’s done over the last year, whenever he was asked about a potential return to WWE, Jericho always stated that he never wanted to do the same thing over again. In that regard, he meant he always wants his character to evolve. His last run saw him transform from the cocky long-haired rock star into someone with a crew cut who wore three-piece designer suits. Last night appeared to be a throwback to the old days, yet I’m positive that the direction of his character will be fleshed out over the coming weeks. The big talk is that he will likely face C.M. Punk at this year’s Wrestlemania.
Jericho is a breath of fresh air in the current wrestling landscape. At a time when it seems as if WWE and TNA Wrestling are doing their best to destroy the essence of pro wrestling, Jericho has come in to save the day. Jericho has always been one of my favorites. He’s inarguably one of the best all-around wrestlers of his generation and a real entertainer. He’s written two New York Times bestselling books, is front man of an extremely popular rock band, a game show host and even competed on Dancing with the Stars. More than anything, Jericho brings a sense of fun and unpredictability in everything he does; which is particularly noteworthy in this current era where it seems as if most WWE wrestlers are mindless drones regurgitating orders from Vince McMahon.
Jericho always said that he never wanted to be a guy who overstayed his welcome in wrestling. He’s the only major current star who takes lengthy sabbaticals away from the ring on his own accord (and not due to injuries). Despite being 41, he looks like he’s a good ten years younger and unlike many of his peers who reach that age, I’m pretty sure inside the ring, he will still be among the best performers in the game. My gut tells me this will be his final run. He’s accomplished all there is to do and he clearly has nothing left to prove to anyone. I’m almost certain that the focus of this run, as his entire career has been when you really think about it, will be to groom the current and next generation of young guys who will lead WWE into the future. For that reason alone, we should all be grateful he’s back for this final hurrah.
I’ve been thinking alot about changing the subtitle of my blog. It reads: Professional Wrestling News, Politics, Life, Inspiration, and everything else under the sun.” As of late, it seems as if I’ve been covering everything else under the sun except for professional wrestling. Well, there is a reason for this. It’s because professional wrestling, particularly WWE, sucks today. Plain and simple.
For the past few weeks, I’ve voluntarily decided to not watch Monday Night Raw, the flagship show of the company. I’ve consistently watched Raw every Monday night since the show premiered in January of 1993. Unless there was a family emergency or another major event, you could bet your last dollar that you could find me sitting in front of a television set every Monday night watching the superstars of WWE.
Today, I could really care less about the show. The only way I keep up with the latest happenings is through visiting wrestling news websites.
On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of Friday Night Smackdown. Sometimes I wonder to myself when did it exactly become a chore to watch Raw. How did I suddenly lose my passion for a show I faithfully watched, without skipping a beat, for nearly 18 years? In actuality, it wasn’t a sudden decision. It was a gradual decline of interest, which has really plagued WWE on a grand scale for years with the general public. Wrestling is not cool, nor is it the hip thing to be a fan of like it was a little over a decade ago. I’m going to explain a few reasons as to why WWE is throwing itself off the proverbial cliff. There are enough reasons to write a book, but I will focus on four main ones.
Too Few Stars Are Being Made
To the general public that watches WWE, the only true stars are John Cena, HHH (who wrestles sparingly and does more backstage work), Undertaker (basically retired) and Randy Orton. I would define a star as someone who is consistently put in a position to headline television shows and pay-per-view events. The scary part is that Cena and Orton have been established main event level stars for several years.
Others such as Edge, Batista, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho have either retired or left the company on their own accord. Guys like CM Punk, Mark Henry and Alberto Del Rio have greatly risen in stardom over the last year, but the jury is still out as to whether they will remain long-term stars on the level of Cena and Orton. Guys such as Miz, Rey Mysterio, Jack Swagger, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston and John Morrison are super talented, yet aren’t pushed by the company at a level which is commensurate with their skill. Therefore the same guys remain on top forever, thus making the product appear stale and boring to the average fan.
Titles are Absolutely Worthless
This is a problem that has become especially apparent over the last couple of years. Back in the old days, it was possible to make a star by simply putting a belt on them. Titles were treated as something special and it was a big deal whenever a new champion was crowned. Today the belts change so frequently that it’s hard to remember who is champion in a given week.
From 1963 to 1984, the WWE title changed hands on ten occasions. From May through October of this year, the WWE title changed hands seven times. There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
From what I’ve heard, the writers (people who script the matches) switch the belts so frequently because they believe the shock of a title change will lead to an increased rating for the following night’s episode of Raw (titles usually change on pay-per-view events held on Sunday). Yes, the company is prostituting its most prestigious championship for the sake of ratings. Ratings rarely rise above the 3.0 level, yet they still insist on switching the belts just about every month. That is a textbook definition of insanity.
Pay-Per-View Events Mean Nothing
When I was a teenager it seemed like every pay-per-view was special. Of course, the big four of Royal Rumble, Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Survivor Series were always promoted in a way that seemed bigger than the others, and Mania has always been the biggest show of the year.
Today, watching a pay-per-view is like watching an extended edition of Raw or Smackdown. You may see a slightly higher caliber of in-ring action and the matches last longer, yet nothing of significance happens. In the 90s and early part of the last decade, watching a PPV was like riding a roller coaster. There were plenty of great thrills and action with a killer cliffhanger ending that left you hungry for the the next month’s show.
WWE’s pay-per-view business has declined greatly over the last few years because the majority of them mean absolutely nothing. There are also way too many. WWE runs 14 shows a year, which is entirely too much for a single company. To show how far business has fallen, this year’s Summerslam did the lowest number of domestic buys in company history; at a mere 127,000. For a comparison, the highest domestic buyrate for a Summerslam event was 800,000 for the 1998 show headlined by Steve Austin vs. Undertaker.
What a difference 13 years can make!
Nothing Makes Sense Anymore
There used to be a time when you could just sit back and watch an entertaining and intelligent wrestling show. Keyword being intelligent. The matches were good and the storylines were relatively straightforward. Plus every moment always built up to something in the bigger scheme of things. There were so many awesome feuds from my childhood through early adult years which will forever remain ingrained in my memory.
A few of the standouts were Rock vs. Austin, HHH vs. Rock, Mick Foley vs. HHH, WCW vs. NWO, Sting vs. Hulk Hogan, Diamond Dallas Page vs. Randy Savage, HHH vs. Batista and Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho. With the exception of the latter two, all of these feuds transpired during the late 90s- early 2001. And three of them are from WCW, a promotion which no longer exists.
Watching an episode of Raw these days is like sitting in on an organic chemistry lecture. Very little of it makes sense and unless you have an excellent teacher, or in this case a friend watching with you who understands every single detail, it can be downright confusing to understand exactly what is going on. Feuds start and stop without warning; the announcing is totally devoid of the ability to project the product to the masses watching on television; and there is little to no storyline continuity. Something that happened one week between two wrestlers is totally forgotten about, with no explanation, by the time you watch the next week’s show. Wins and losses mean nothing and nearly everyone is kept at the same level. Historically, beating, or even looking competitive against, a bonafide star was the gateway to being the top guy in a promotion. Look at what wrestling Bret Hart did for the career of Austin. And remember how HHH was established as a star for life after beating Foley in 2000? These days, a guy could pin the world champion and still be portrayed as a geek on television the following week. Barely anyone but the very top stars are given any sustained momentum, thus creating an environment where nothing matters. When a promotion doesn’t care about its product then the audience watching at home will eventually reach the same conclusion. I don’t believe that wrestling is no longer popular because guys like Rock and Austin are no longer around on a regular basis. However, I believe wrestling’s lack of mainstream popularity is due to the fact that promoters have neglected the basic rules that kept the wrestling industry strong for decades in North America. I’ve always been a firm believer in applying the KISS principle to pro wrestling. KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID!