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Previews

Elimination Chamber 2014 Preview

Como estas, bitches! And now that that’s been said, how are you? It’s been a minute since I’ve blessed you with my presence and between this, practicing cooking food for the eventual and almost solidified trip I’m making to Atlanta to thug out with the homies (that’s the L.E.W.D. preservation society for the unenlightened) and listening to De La Soul, I find myself ready to jump into my L.E.W.D. pants – sidenote: ALL my pants are L.E.W.D. pants – and say a few things about 2014’s Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and the kickoff that comes before it.  So without further ado, let’s talk Olivia Wilde!

I mean, er… wrestling.

Kickoff: Cody Rhodes and Goldust vs. Curtis Axel and Ryback

I’ll be the first to say it: I don’t get this match.  I understand you need something to start the program with, but why this?  You have Cody Rhodes and Goldust, who have shown themselves to be one of the most, if not THE most, competent and entertaining tag team in the company going against the most boring powerhouse shy of Big Show and his partner Ryback.  The kickoff show is comparable to a live show in that it may or may not have any implications outside of just keeping the crowd enthused, but perhaps it’s the storyteller in me talking out loud.  As it stands the ideal match come Wrestlemania XXX would be Cody Rhodes versus Goldust as a final send-off for the latter (my opinion), and a win by the WWE’S J. Cole and his partner Buddy would only make that rift between the two all the more wonderful, likely with a speech by Rhodes that went, “You’re losing your step, bro… that’s just how it is.”

Otherwise, who cares?  This match is the kickoff and you could pay me to care but I’d just end up wasting your money. 

DiZ Prediction: Steve Wilkos and Mr. Meh win via pinfall

Darren Young vs. Titus O’Neil

Go ahead, raise your hand if you thought for one second that Titus O’Neil would be able to float, let alone swim, in the deep end on his own.  I didn’t, but I’m so glad I’m wrong.  Even now, with the fresh heel O’Neil (I’m a poet and I don’t even know it) and Black Cena with a bright future ahead of him, what appeals to me more than anything right now is that this is the first time we’ve had a brother of Omega Psi Phi versus an openly gay athlete; yes, that matters to me because damn near all my uncles are Ques and more and more of my friends are coming out.  To me, oddly enough.  Let’s not talk about it anymore.

Back to O’Neil: until further notice it IS Titus O’Neil’s feud.  He wanted a solo run as a bad guy and he’s shown out to be one hell of a competent bad guy, from his clean cut attire worthy of Carlton Banks to his willful misspelling of three syllable words.  More than that, from a clean perspective, he’s undefeated; his only defeat so far is a result of an outside distraction by Young.  I’m not one to speculate but the higher ups may just be big on Titus. 

But where does that leave Darren Young?  As of now, we don’t know.  He could be getting a boost like his one time partner, but maybe not.  Frankly, right now, I don’t care.  I’ve always found O’Neil to be the more entertaining of the two.  Young may be more athletic, but O’Neil is entertaining: he’s made the most out of his opportunities, down to putting on a wig and declaring himself Rufus “Pancake” Patterson (you know… because he flattens fools).  I’d like to see him have a title run (Intercontinental preferably) and run things like the Kingpin (Marvel fame), declaring himself a god amongst men. 

And Young?  He could easily be one of the newer guys who leads the WWE into a new era.  With a rather uninteresting card for this PPV, this match remains one of the more interesting ones for me.  Here’s rooting for O’Neil.

DiZ Prediction: Darren Young wins via pinfall

The New Age Outlaws © vs. the Usos for the Tag Titles

I’ve been watching TNA regularly lately (don’t judge me) and watching the (American) Wolves do battle I think to myself, “You know… they look like the Usos…”  Not in terms of skin tone, but because of style.  I often wonder why the WWE passed on the team and it might be the same thing as with Chris Hero: they just weren’t needed.  As great as the (American) Wolves can be, what does it matter when you have a crowd of cats who can do it too?  Subsequently, they don’t seem to be comfortable in TNA yet.

What we have in this match is a case of old versus new.  We have an exciting team of symbiotic titans versus the Usos.  It’s… good?  The match itself has potential, but I’m more interested in why the Outlaws are a factor at all right now.  Maybe Tiple H is the Andrew Jackson of the company, deploying the spoils system now that he can put the homies on.  Maybe he wanted to reunited the Kliq.  Maybe he wants to form a new Four Horsemen and single out Bryan as their Dusty Rhodes, I don’t (expletive) know.  I want to see the Outlaws out, if only because they’ve overstayed their welcome in my eyes. 

But we also have the rise of the Usos.  It’s been a long road (getting from there to here), and the build up hasn’t just been slow, but worthwhile.  The crowd loves them: most of us like them.  Sure, (expletive) one of them for (expletive) Trinity and (Oh my sweet Jesus, this is FAR too NSFW for even an adult film scenario) with a Samoan slapstick and a lemon wedge, but the team itself is gravy.  If they win tonight, it’ll be well deserved.

DiZ Prediction: New Age Outlaws win via pinfall

Big E © vs. Jack Swagger for the Intercontinental Championship

Another “Why for?” match.  I don’t have much to say about this one so I’ll just say what I have to say: Big E has no direction right now.  He’s beating people up, but why?  Because he has the belt.  What’s he doing with the belt?  Winning matches.  That MAY sound like the right thing to do, but action without direction is exactly how the sidewinder moves around.  He doesn’t necessarily need a feud or anything but there needs to be a story and the prospect of possible payoff in the foreseeable future.  That or that (stop with the ethnic slurs, Chris!) can just admit that he stole my idea and pitched it to the higher ups.  If Kofi and Henry team up…

DiZ Prediction: Big E. wins via pinfall

Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio

One: I am happy to see Batista back.  I don’t think all his detractors are against him so much as against the circumstances presented in his direction.  He came in, won the Rumble, and he’s stuck in the shadow of the good man Danny Bry.  He was screwed the second he won. 

Two: a feud with Del Rio is weird.  It was teased at and perfectly so, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the WWE told Del Rio to start a tweet war with Batista and left Batista completely in the dark.  I’m willing to bet money that Batista’s reactions to Del Rio’s tweets were legitimate confusion.  But much like Charlie Sheen being Charlie Harper in Charlie Sheen’s beach house on Two and a Half Men, it could just as easily be Dave being a douche.  So yes, the two will fight, and Del Rio might even pull a good match out of the old fart, but at the end of the day I have to say…

DiZ Prediction: Batista wins via pinfall

The Wyatt Family vs. The Shield

Yes.

This is THE match I want to see.  It could only be better if it was a Chamber match, but I don’t see how it would have been possible what with pods and “randomness” and all.  On one hand with have the Wyatt Family, a creepy backwoods cult (you know, like the population of Parma, Ohio) led by a man who does inverted crab walks, and on the other you have the Shield, a team of young thundercats who are all attempting to make a path to greatness.  Both teams are always entertaining (save for that match between Punk and Rollins one ill-fated RAW) and both teams do it big.  We’ll have a violent, terrific conflict and yes: it MIGHT be the match of the evening.

Now let’s look at the implications.  The Shield (if there is a God) will split up and battle in a triple threat match come New Orleans, which will propel one of them (likely Reigns) to superstardom.  The Wyatt Family will remain creepy as Harper and Rowan push their way out and become great singles stars.  But this is the entry point, and yes, it WILL be great.

DiZ Prediction: The Wyatt Family wins via pinfall

Randy Orton © vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Christian vs. Sheamus in the Elimination Chamber for the Title with a Long Ass Name

My expectations are that Cena will get screwed over by the Wyatts, Sheamus will be knocked out first, Christian will fall into heeldom, Cesaro will become a face, Bryan will come close (but no Cuban) and Orton will squeak by utilizing the skills and strategies he developed over the past couple of weeks.  Here’s the deal: expect no surprises here outside of Cesaro swinging everybody with a pulse.  This match CAN be the strategic and technical monstrosity that overtakes the show, but only if done right.  I’m all but sure that the winner is Orton, and that he squeaks by, and that Bryan gets thrown into the main event at Wrestlemania to appease the people and lead to an interesting angle.  Because people don’t care to see Orton vs. Batista.  I know I don’t, but I can’t speak for anyone by myself.

DiZ Prediction and Order of Elimination: Cena, Sheamus, Christian, Cesaro, Bryan; Orton wins via pinfall

But that’s just my two cents.  What do YOU think?

Disclaimer: written knowing damn well it won’t be completed before the kickoff match comes on.  In any case, I don’t care.  Can they both lose?


Give Daniel Wyatt A Chance, Dammit!

Because I’m a hypocrite, I’m going to write as though I did not excoriate WWE creative for having Daniel Bryan join the Wyatt Family last week. I’ve been seeing a lot of things echoing the points that I made, but missing the positive spin I tacked on at the very end. Because I am committed to watching five hours of WWE every week, one way or another I will give shit a chance. And I feel as though many are not seeing the bigger picture here.

First off, I’m not backing off of my stance that Daniel Bryan can never be the face of the WWE. That, at BEST he will be Mick Foley, a guy who had a lot of memorable matches and moments but not necessarily remembered as THE guy. Not considered the best. And that’s ok. I’m not one of the binary thinkers who considers everything classic or trash with no in between.

That said, I DO acknowledge that Daniel Bryan has embedded himself as one of the top five acts in WWE today. If the world were a meritocracy, he should be WWE World Heavyweight Champion TODAY. But, alas, our world is NOT fair, so… he’s not. At this moment, he is still a notch below MY guy, CM Punk as that guy who SHOULDN’T get the big push, but will because he’s just that damn good. “Pipebomb” aside, Punk has this edge to him that Daniel does not and THAT is what excites me about this angle!

When CM Punk turned heel at Raw 1000 we all knew what that meant: He was being thrown to the likes of Cena, Ryback and The Rock. Right now, after Randy Orton and The Shield, what top heels are there to work with? The Wyatts are being built up now, but they’re no main eventers. Daniel Bryan IS. Just off association, he raises the level of Bray Wyatt. I didn’t think that WWE was going to have Bryan join the group, but now that he has, it adds to the creep factor. CM Punk has an innate ability to work an audience whether he’s heel or face, so I’m looking to see if Bryan can use this angle to continue his momentum.

A lot of people are saying this ‘heel turn’ is WWE trying to kill his momentum. I am one of those people. The more I think about it, however, the more I realize, CM Punk never stopped getting good crowd heat. This past Monday, the sense that the crowd was still behind Bryan AND felt betrayed by him was portentous of how if this is done right, Bryan will be hotter than ever before! After all, Bryan’s first title reign was as a heel and that’s when the ‘YES’ chants started. Between then and now he has vacillated between heel, face and tweener. Crowd heat white hot. Let’s be real, we wrasslin fans are some complaining ass cynics. WWE has hurt us too many times. But… they’ve done right by us enough times that we keep watching.

My prediction is that this angle may well carry us into SummerSlam where Bryan will likely win the world title again and get screwed Evolution style, irony of ironies, a la Randy Orton. I think it will be cool to see him develop a darker, more twisted edge to his character, and as I have forestated, see Bray rise by association with WWE’s hottest commodity. It’ll be interesting to see if they do an angle where Bryan lays down for Bray, or if they fight and screw him out the belt(s). If this angle blows off by Mania, it was a waste of time. Speaking of which, that’s technically what this is, something to keep Bryan interesting, yet out of the title picture. Not a burial. (Hi, Quinn!)

I wasn’t pleased with how they were booked this past Monday… doing a finish where Harper gets rolled up because he was mad Bryan wanted to get the victory was foolish, in my opinion. Teasing that there will be dissension in the group points towards this breaking down before there can be an appreciable payoff. I’m not saying they should never lose, just it’s too much to have dissension in the ranks WHILE doing the same exact fucking story with The Shield.

Speaking of which, a lot of people are saying Roman Reigns needs to get better at promos to be what WWE wants him to be. I call bullshit. During his entire time with the group, he has been the strong, silent type. In my opinion, it would be a mistake to make him growl or yell Memphis style promos when his soft-spoken yet impactful style fits his look and personality so well. Watch the Piper’s Pit from the Old School Raw and you had Rollins and Ambrose talking cash shit to Piper while Reigns just sat there looking cool, yet intense. When addressed, he told Piper to cut the shit or he’ll beat his ass, more or less. Simple, but effective. Sometimes, less is more.

Related/unrelated: When are we going to see Big E Langston get to unleash this charisma I’ve heard so much about him having on NXT and Twitter? Why does WWE give so much mic time to people who suck at promos for different reasons like Orton (boring, droning delivery) and Del Rio (English as second language, seeming lack of charisma) and none to guys who ARE entertaining talkers? Iono, man. To dovetail these last two paragraphs, Big E and Roman could be future rivals for the top of WWE. The charismatic irresistible force versus the stoic immovable object.

Overall, I feel there is way more to be excited about than there is to bitch about. Batista is coming back. Sheamus returning from injury. RVD may re-sign. Brock Lesnar is in the fold. You can see new stars being made, and potentially, current stars being remade. As Daniel Wyatt would say: YES!


The DiZ Predicts: Summer Wrestlemania 2013 (Summerslam 2013)

*Disclaimer: all pictures used throughout are utilized for the purpose of criticism and entertainment*

How much truth can a man stand?  That’s not a question I want you to really answer, it’s rhetorical in your case, reader.  It’s also a lyric to a rather quirky song of the same name.  I’ll answer, however, and say, “Er… somewhere in the vicinity of a little bit and too damn much”.  See, I only acknowledge so many truths right now, in my 24 years and one month of life.  One of these truths is that The Walking Dead really isn’t all that amazing a show.  That’s not to say that it’s bad, but as whole, the episodes are usually C+ to B quality in my opinion.  Another truth: the two best episodes of the show (season one, episode one; season three, episode twelve) owe virtually ALL that status as “best” to one man: Lennie James, who plays Morgan Jones.  Another truth: these brilliant performances are likely why he’s starring in the new AMC show Low Winter Sun.

Yes, truths are fun.  Here’s one that’s directly related to the WWE: this year’s Summerslam is shaping up to be Wrestlemania: Summer Edition.  And that’s saying something.  With the white hot intensity of the Bryan v. Cena feud and the reintroduction of fire in a match, I see few people even ABLE to complain about the card.  But what’s in a card?  What do you think will happen?  Frankly I don’t care: here’s what I think will happen though, and if you agree, that’s cool.  If you don’t, that’s cool too.  I’ll just feel all types of special that you cared enough to read.

Douche…

Pre-Show: Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose (c) for the United States Championship

Right off the back, a big match.  For the casual fan, this is due to be a treat beyond treats.  For the indie fan, this is a dream match.  For people like us at L.E.W.D., this is two meals at the Varsity, a fresh roll of toilet paper and a second copy of Batman: Hush.  Translation: epic.

It’s no secret that Swatkowski and Good are two tremendous talents, and the idea of them doing battle is terrific, so the question isn’t whether or not it’ll be a good (no pun intended) match, but rather why put such a match in the pre-show?  Well, I wish I could tell you.  So I will.

Fact is we have to remember one thing: RVD is a part-timer.  That’s not to say that he shouldn’t hold a belt or have a feud, however.  He’s a 42 year old man who is noticeably slower than he was in his ECW/WWE prime, or even in his tenure with TNA (earlier on), but he is more than capable of putting on a great match and putting over good talent.  Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley (Jonathan Good)) need something to maintain some relevance as the focus on the Shield has taken a backseat to the Wyatt Family, and a bout with RVD is just what he needs.

There’s something else that’s special about this match: the title that’s on the line.  You can argue that the United States Championship is the spiritual successor of sorts to the ECW Championship, the belt that Rob Van Dam is almost notorious for.  Should he win come Sunday, he’ll have come full circle, and the series he and Ambrose can put on could result in a strong push for the unofficial leader of the mercenary group. 

As for predictions, I see RVD winning, but just barely.  Frankly it doesn’t matter who wins: WE win because it’s sure to be a damn fine match.

Natalya (with the Funkadactyls) vs. Brie Bella (with Eva Marie and Nikki Bella)

Say what you will about Total Divas: the show is a hit.  I like it.  Maybe you do too.  If anything I gained a new respect for most of the Divas, save for Natalya.  I’ve always significantly respected Natalya.  With the canon of the show, Natalya plays the role of the older sister who both does all she can to uplift her younger siblings and yet can’t get a break of her own to really shine.  The way she is on the show, you can’t help but feel for her.  Hell, even ?uestlove was feeling for her, and that man has better things to do than watch TV, like work on the new Roots album, or find a barber.

No hate, ?uest: I wanna fro like you when I grow up.  Anywho, part of me is surprised that it’s Brie Bella vs. Natalya as opposed to Nikki.  Nikki just comes across as more of a bitch, but what I anticipate is a fan favorite crowd response for Nattie as well as her carrying Brie through a lot of the match.  The Bellas are a decent enough pair of wrestlers, I suppose, but Natalya is a Hart: she’s got it in her blood, and I think she’s finally getting that push into being a contender for the title.  We can only hope.  As much as I love seeing AJ with those pigtails and short shorts, er, I mean with that belt, Natalya would bring some class to it, and straight laced prestige.

My prediction: Natalya wins via submission.  Don’t ask why.

Also, this serves as an extension of the show.  I find it harder and harder to say it breaks kayfabe, really.  It’s just as scripted as RAW or SmackDown! as far as I can tell.  That’s why the other four are there.  On another note, I can’t stand Eva Marie.  But I respect her.  Because she called out Jerry Lawler for looking at her a certain way and smacked him.  God bless you, unnatural red head.  God bless you.

Dolph Ziggler and Kaitlyn vs. Big E Langston and AJ Lee

First and foremost, shout out to that guy on Smackdown a week ago who screamed “AMY SCHUMER!” when Dolph Ziggler mentioned ex-girlfriends.  I haven’t laughed so hard at an ad-lib since someone tried to explain that Control was Big Sean’s song.  HA!  BWAHAHAHAHA!  That liar…

What we have here is your standard mixed tag match, and all the parties involved have one thing in common: AJ Lee.  Still.  Hard to imagine but she’s been in the forefront of a major story one way or another for months, and I dare say her rise from nothing to something has been as dynamic as Daniel Bryan’s.  Even now we have a sick kind of love (sic) angle shy of a Nujabes series.  Dolph is an ex.  Big E is a wild card.  Kaitlyn is a lesbian in fan fiction.  And AJ is just soaking up everything, playing the narcissistic woman with zero self-esteem, justifying her existence with that belt and the men she’s ran though (or should I say who’ve ran through HER?  HIYO!). 

But as a whole, I struggle to see the necessity of this match outside of putting together two feuds that could be split apart.  We have AJ and Kaitlyn still, but that’s lost a lot of focus and relevance.  Sure, it’s entertaining, but Kaitlyn is fighting for revenge and AJ is just fighting, playing the role of defense.  With Dolph and Big E, it’s an odd kind of mentor vs. student thing, but Big E’s role as AJ’s friend/Ziggler’s heavy has never been expounded upon outside of a hatred for Ziggler and a “I love her, I love her not” thing with AJ.  Sure, she’s cute, almost adorable, certainly desirable, but Big E himself still stands as little more than a big black guy with personality and a borderline painful-looking finisher. 

I’m not even sure what CAN be resolved with this match outside of a decent showing.  All four of them are impressive enough in the ring, so if nothing else it’ll be a solid exhibition, but as Bruce Lee said:

Kane vs. Bray Wyatt in a Ring of Fire match

Ooh baby, when’s the last time we have a match involving everyone’s favorite element fire?!

Let me wipe the drool from my mouth right quick.  Yes, the Devil’s Favorite Demon is taking on the Devourer of Worlds in a Ring of Fire match.  What does this mean?  It means the ring will be surrounded by fire, and the two will do battle.  As far as gimmicks go, this is the closest the WWE has gotten to blatant sacrilege in a while, and praise Jebus the Jew for that!  We need blatant sacrilege every once in a while, keeps up on our toes, keeps us focused.  The match itself is an extension of the still more or less undefined mugging that the Wyatts committed on Kane way back when, and this match likely serves as a way for Kane to lose his match, join the cult and give the Undertaker someone to challenge in due time, all the while reintroducing the dark, violent man that has been Kane on various occasions in the past.

But here’s the thing: this is a very “adult” storyline, if you can catch my meaning.  Not for the violence or the imagery or anything but because of the symbolism.  I compare it, ironically enough, to the song Hellfire from the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Disney version.  As far as Disney songs go, it broke EVERY rule.  The song featured a judge (judge for the Disney movie, archdeacon for the traditional tale) who was essentially singing about a gypsy girl he was in lust with.  Lust in a Disney movie?  Not blatantly!  They usually do that in a subtle manner.

But lust, religious imagery, the mea culpa, fire, DEATH, the song covered it all.  It wasn’t just about his lust, or how evil the woman MADE him as opposed to how evil he himself was, but how he was asking God to either make the woman (kid by our standards, but this was 1400s) his, or give her up to the flame (Hell), all while begging for mercy for himself AND her.  It was deep, and frankly the sequence alone in the film was worth the price of admission.  Don’t let your kids see it though: they WILL be scared and confused.  But since I endorse scaring and confusing kids…

It’s all a big, metaphorical, je… never mind…

Sorry, I got a bit off topic.  I just enjoy that sequence.  As far as Kane and Bray go, it’ll be a welcome reintroduction to the man we once called Husky Harris, and I see him winning, thus dragging Kane into the Wyatt Family.  And yes, I WILL be playing this awesome song if Wyatt embraces Kane as a new disciple.

Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow

You can consider this a prequel for a World Heavyweight Championship match in a near future PPV.  And you can also be mad at the WWE for not being wholly consistent with Cody’s character.  At first he came across as a petty, whiny, sore loser who was wholly unjustified in how he was treating Sandow and his briefcase.  After last week, he ADMITTED that he was a petty, whiny, sore loser who was wholly unjustified in how he was treating Sandow and his briefcase, and to add insult to that he admitted that he would have done the same thing to Sandow if he was in his position.

You may wonder why I have an issue with this.  Simple: after admitting something like he did, his role in attacking Sandow becomes moot.  The idea of Rhodes taking the briefcase is ridiculous, and the notion of Sandow fighting Rhodes first and THEN cashing in adds filler, not content, to Sandow’s first World Heavyweight Championship reign.  Because he WILL win it.  It’s written in the stars, or at the very least MY stars. 

The saving grace is the match itself come Summerslam, which will be a good one, and will almost certainly result in a Rhodes win.  Why?  Just because.  If Sandow wins, which I doubt, the ultimate outcome will remain the same, and I’ll get to it in a little while.

Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship

Let’s address the elephant in the room right now: this match is irrelevant.  Yes, irrelevant.  Completely and utterly.  Never mind my melancholy towards Del Rio or my disinterest with Christian: this match is little more than the equivalent of a place holder for the future title match between the above two.  Now, from a pure wrestling standpoint, this will be a MONSTER.  Seriously, it’ll be beautiful to watch.  Christian and Del Rio are two of the most gifted wrestling talents in the WWE, but one is nearing the end of his career I think and the other is… Del Rio. 

Nothing more to say about it.  The belt?  Who cares?  It’s the World Heavyweight Championship: it hasn’t had meaning for a while, and it’ll stay that way even after Del Rio wins.  Yes, I call Del Rio winning.  But therein lies that “ultimate outcome” I mentioned in the Rhodes v. Sandow match.  So long as Sandow can MOVE after that match, win or lose, and they do battle BEFORE Christian and Del Rio, I see him cashing in during the PPV.  Sandow will be loved as a hated fellow, Rhodes will be looked at as the man to take the belt from him, and MAYBE Del Rio will be thrown into a storyline that’ll make him worth a damn.

Perhaps.

We can only hope.

Meh.

CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman (and likely Curtis Axel))

The Best vs. the Beast.  How poetic.  How appropriate.  Or IS it?  Perhaps another indie favorite is making a solid claim as being “the best”.  But I digress.  It doesn’t matter who is the best.  Trying to determine who is stands as a fruitless test.  A worrisome quest.  In choosing one you neglect the rest.

I apologize: I was having fun at your “This guy is SO corny” expression’s expense.  The story is simple here: CM Punk wants revenge on Heyman.  Heyman chose Lesnar as his champion.  Punk turned one-track minded and stayed focused on trying to hurt Heyman.  Lesnar introduced Punk to a special variation of the F5 I refer to as the F.Y.L. F5, F.Y.L. standing for “f*** yo life”.

Honestly I think Lesnar really tries to hurt people in that ring.  Good for our visceral nature but bad for business.  In any case, this will probably be the second best match on the card, from both an in-ring perspective and a psychological perspective.  Punk is fighting like a man possessed and Lesnar is in his zone, doing what he does best: hurting people.  We like that.  We like it when Lesnar hurts people.  You hear that, WWE?  Resign Shannon Moore!

So here’s the truth regarding me: as fun as this match will be – and it WILL be fun – my only question is “What now?”.  I’m not sure who is set to win, but I’m leaning more towards Punk, because I don’t see HOW this story can progress from this point.  Including Axel is odd, but he’s the third Heyman Guy, and he’ll likely have a role, but it doesn’t answer my only question. 

I’m leaning toward Punk winning, beating Lesnar and Axel senseless, then turning his attention to Heyman, and afterwards getting back into the title hunt.  As I was telling the Right Reverend Showtime the other day, I have a feeling the CM Punk who looked at the new WWE Championship belt and said, “I want THAT one” would be VERY welcome once this feud was over.  And it could culminate in my dream main event for Wrestlemania XXX.  Ah, dreaming…

Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena (c) for the WWE Championship (with Triple H as Guest Referee)

Here it is.  The big one.  The granddaddy of matches this Sunday.  Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena.  What can I say that hasn’t in some way already been said?  It’s the wrestler’s wrestler vs. the sports entertainer’s superman.  We’ve seen promo after promo, funny shirts, a few puns, even a brief appearance by Heel Cena (also known as Jerk Cena, also known as the Dick) and now we even have Triple H as the guest ref. 

Why?  Because.  Because why?  You’re asking too many questions.  Don’t get me wrong: I don’t like him being a part of the match, but with McMahon being a part of the Bryan v. Barrett match on SmackDown! the ref position is “justified”.  Like I’ve said, and will say in a piece that’ll probably be up just before the PPV starts, the McMahon power struggle is a grand storyline that’ll likely end with McMahon being ejected from being the primary figurehead seen on TV.  Don’t ask me about it here, wait until the other piece comes up. 

As for the match, it’s going to be interesting.  Note: interesting.  Good?  Yes.  Great?  Likely.  Epic?  Perhaps.  Five stars?  Remains to be seen.  At the end of the day we have a man who stands as today’s Hogan and a man who would shine the best against someone like Kurt Angle, or the man with no name himself, Chris Benoit.  That triple threat match would have been incredible.  But c’est la vie: it’s impossible now.  Stupid Angle drinking and getting caught…

Now, let’s address some wild cards.  First: Randy Orton.  I don’t know WHY they’re making him out to be this boogeyman, but that’s all he is right now.  He’s constantly reminding Bryan and Cena that he’s there, and in true buzzard fashion he WILL likely swoop in on the victor when they’re out, and… lose.  Well no, that’s not quite right.  I’ll get to that later.

Second: Wade Barrett.  Remember the McMahon power struggle story and how Vince said he didn’t want Cena OR Bryan to hold the belt.  His vision of a Superstar isn’t Orton either though: he’s too lean.  But who stands as big, muscular, clean cut and constantly angry?  Wade Barrett.  Who MIGHT be finally getting his chance to shine.  The hell with a title, I’m happy to just see him pursue it actively.  As I’ve said: I think he’s the most deserving guy on the roster for a title opportunity/run. 

Finally, who I see winning.  This… is a hard one.  There’s what I WANT to happen, what I THINK will happen and what I think is BEST.  They aren’t all the same.  What I THINK will happen is John Cena winning via help from McMahon, but it’s a ludicrous notion too.  It would be further heel momentum for McMahon, confusion for Cena who wouldn’t accept anything like assistance (see: Money in the Bank 2011), and even MORE support for Bryan, who is already dazzling hot (you see what I did there?) as it is.  But what I THINK will happen means little, because I don’t have much faith in that.

What I WANT to happen is even more ludicrous.  I want Bryan to be the first one to make Cena tap.  Only two people in the history of the WWE come to mind when it comes to never tapping out: Hogan and Cena, but there is a third.  Cena would be embarrassed beyond belief, Bryan would be champ, Orton would attempt to cash in AND Bryan would make Orton the second person to cash in AND lose.  That would make me happier than some quality alone time with Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman on a deserted island.

I take that back: that would NOT make me happier than some quality alone time with Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman on a deserted island, but it would come about as close as… forty miles.  Nautical miles.  On foot.

Then, there’s what I think would be BEST.  And this is subjective, I have no problem saying it.  Daniel would win, and he’d force Cena into a position that the third was in.  Cena wouldn’t tap: he’d pass out.  Cena would pull a Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Daniel would get his props, Cena would maintain his respect, and Orton… would stay in the shadows.  He’d strike later, on another day, at another PPV, and be a sneaky son of a bitch as a feud between Barrett and Bryan took the spotlight and Cena took some time off.  That would be fun too.

Well, loyal random interwebz vagabond, those are my predictions and whatnot.  Hope you enjoy the PPV as much as I think I’m going to.  Sleep tight.  Blee.


Sheamus’ Injury Update

20130814_120706

This was literally minutes after Sheamus was released from the hospital in Birmingham. Dr. Andrews does it again!

As reported on Bleacher Report, Sheamus suffered a shoulder injury recently and is going to be out some time…

Well, we here at L.E.W.D. don’t often dig into the news/dirtsheet business, but I have conformation from HIS MOUTH that he will be out for at least 4 months.  A (strategically placed) friend of mine was in Birmingham today and it just so happened to be the day of his surgery!

My friend spotted him at a restaurant and briefly asked him about his shoulder in which she informed him that the surgury was successful and that he would be out for 4 months rehabbing the injury which would set him to return around Royal Rumble time.

He doesn’t know if there will be any repackaging (as many of the IWC blindly beg for), but there will be a new fire lit for him to have success in the future.

Speaking of the IWC…

Let me set this straight….Fierceness and Heat does not a heel make.  People get very caught up with the idea that everyone that is talented needs to be a heel…NO! NO! NO! (Like what I did there?)

“Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect” are also strong characteristics of both Gangbangers and Mobsters. It’s a motto that many of them live by.

My point: Much like Vince McMahon has said in the past, “Fans know what they like, but don’t know what they want, and it’s my job to show them!”

Do you really want Sheamus to be a heel, or do you just want him to be more entertaining in a way that satisfies your tastes?


The Curious Case of Mark Jerrold Henry, Part 3: &TMEDM

AKA: Why the Hell am I Still WRITING About This Guy?!

AKA: No Cappadonna

It all comes down to one more thing: Money in the Bank.

Money in the Bank, the PPV with a storied past.  It serves as the brain child of the match that was once a highlight of the Wrestlemania event, the six-man match featuring ladders, high-flying action and Kofi Kingston, before he became the black Jeff Hardy.  Sorry, that’s inappropriate: before he was thrown into the position of being the black Jeff Hardy.  Swear to God, I don’t think he’s got the IDGAF attitude that Jeff “Pot Pancakes and Turkey Sausages” Hardy displays.  And that’s saying something.

Over the years we have relied on Money in the Bank to be the proverbial king of the underground of sorts, the greatest of the WWE PPVs that isn’t one of the big four (though Extreme Rules makes a good case as well), and with it upon us this evening it’s only right that we delve into the biggest (championship wise) match of the evening and conclude the three part pseudo-retrospective that is examining Mark Jerrold Henry.

This is going to be another short one (maybe) so don’t get to yawning or groaning yet: I’m just throwing out a scenario here before I go back to The Old Republic, Skyrim and working on an entry or the like for gaming/mixology site The Drunken Moogle.  I’m going to speak on that site soon, so keep your eyes peeled for the post that I bring it up in in detail.  Anywho, back to the PPV.  The WWE Championship match, between angry challenger Mark Henry and Boy Scout champion John Cena.

First I’ll say this: despite all my hang ups on Cena, I appreciate him, as a person and a character.  He’s likely a very interesting and friendly person; he’s a man with a lot of cars (a la Leno), a penchant towards women of Mexican descent (a la me), and – PLEASE don’t stone me for this one – a decent rapper, when he wants to be.  Thank God he doesn’t do it anymore (to the best of my knowledge) but he can spit when he really wants to.

Still here?  Haven’t scoffed and stomped off?  Good, because I have more to say.  His character is interesting in how he’s both the most human and the most inhuman character the WWE has right now.  He never gives up and he gets beat up; he never shows fear and he gets scared at some people; he declares that the championship is everything and he says its nothing more than leather and gold.  He’s human in his contradictions and he’s inhuman in his objectiveness.

Last Monday he stood opposite Mark Henry and delivered a basic promo.  It wasn’t special, it wasn’t incredible, it was just standard, as basic as anything he’s done.  He said some things, big barked, mean mugged, and finally got into a little scrap with Henry.  He was on the losing end of said scrap, which doesn’t surprise me, after trying to perform an AA on Henry and failing (can do it when prepared, can’t do it when it’s impromptu and lacks adrenaline: John Cena the king of dichotomy). 

But honestly that’s not that stood out to me.  Like I said, that was basic.  And while Henry was a lot more entertaining and dropped more quotables than a Juvenile single his promo was almost equally basic, even if his basic is wholly entertaining.  Any clash between two powerhouses strikes me as funny because you usually deal with two people who aren’t much in the ring from a technical standpoint but great when it comes to making people look like ragdolls.  This is going to be a match along those lines, in a way, but I still haven’t said that stands out to me.

I won’t try to quote anything so I’ll summarize or paraphrase when I say that Henry’s focus is that title.  He said he’d sell out his own mother, that he DID sell out his own family, all for the OPPORTUNITY to obtain the title, and that kind of desperation has become a pretty solid theme in the WWE right now (desperation to win the title: Mark Henry, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Swagger; desperation to prove one self: Daniel Bryan, Christian, CM Punk).  Seeing as Cena has held the belt so often it’s hard to even imagine that he can APPRECIATE that kind of hunger, left alone talk down on it.  His hunger is of want: Henry’s is of need.

Cena said that if Henry walked out of Money in the Bank with the title then he will have earned it.  Keep that in mind: I’ll come back to it later in more detail.  He referred to the belt as nothing more than leather and gold, and when he said that I began to think about every promo that Cena did leading up to the PPV following Henry’s false retirement speech.

He downplayed it.  He downplayed the title.  He downplayed the title, the championship, and to a lesser degree even himself.  His confidence was shaken: he was openly saying that he may not retain the title.  This is during times when we had vignettes of past WWE and World Heavyweight Championship holders, from the Buddy Rogers to the Stone Cold Steve Austins to the Stings.  I’m sure someone here will have fun with Sting’s future, but it likely won’t be me.  Emphasis on LIKELY.

So here we have the man who has held the WWE Championship more than anyone in the history of history, who has dethroned kings and gods alike, climbed the mountain, jumped to the base and ascended the summit time and time again.  Why is he playing the role of the fearful monarch now?  When he interrupted Henry on Monday and made a comment about a candy bar, it was a moment of desperation and fear, a way to break Henry’s concentration and make him appear a little less intimidating. 

People, y’all know what fear does to people.  It causes them to run away in some cases, but Cena doesn’t run.  It causes them to try to appear bigger and stronger like when attacked by a bear or a mountain lion, and Cena did that.  He dropped the mic, threw off his hat, ripped off his shirt and stood his ground.  A lot of good it did though: he still got beat.

But this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this fear in Cena.  Sure, he displays it before more PPVs and big matches, but this has been something noticeable for three years now, and it’s finally hit me: Cena just can’t catch a break at the Money in the Bank PPV.

Yes, I know it seems like I’m talking about Cena a lot for a Mark Henry Curious Case file, but stick with me.  At the first Money in the Bank PPV he lost to Sheamus.  At the second, in the most famous match in Money in the Bank history, he lost to CM Punk.  Last year he won the briefcase, but he didn’t win his match.  By and large this PPV is as much a reflection on his “worst” year as it is a funny reflection on Cena’s capacity to lose.

Now I’m not saying that he thinks “Oh no, it’s Money in the Bank!  I’m going to regret it!” but it is interesting nonetheless that there has YET to be one Money in the Bank outcome that has truly worked out in his favor.

That being said, let’s focus intently on Mark Henry.  The big guy.  The land mass that inspires fear in men and likely unbridled lust in women (you know, like yours truly.  Me.  Da Infamous One.).  I can’t help but go back to 2011’s Night of Champions, in the middle of September, where after 13 minutes of combat he defeated Randy Orton for the World Heavyweight Championship.  I remember what I was thinking before the PPV even started: “Mark Henry isn’t going to win, why are they even teasing us?”

See, on that day, we KNEW Mark Henry wasn’t going to win.  A month prior we KNEW Mark Henry wasn’t going to ever be in a main event picture.  Years ago we KNEW Mark Henry was never going to be more than a mid-carder for his career.  And we were thrown a MAJOR curveball that night when he not only obtained the title, but in the months that followed he would defend it and have a pretty damn exciting reign. 

The appeals behind Henry’s title shot tonight are a)his longevity in the company (if nothing else you have to respect that) and b)this being the “only title he’s never held”.  Aside from that being a TREMENDOUS lie… no, that’s just a tremendous lie.  It’s the most important title in the company, no question, but Henry’s only held the European and World Heavyweight titles.  In essence, he’s one of the only people who can still qualify to be a Grand Slam champion, and if he did that he’d be beyond a god amongst men: he’d be a god amongst gods.  Or something alone those lines.

I say all this to say that we KNOW that Mark Henry isn’t going to win tonight.  And what we’ve KNOWN has blown up in our faces from time to time.  Don’t get it twisted: I’m not saying that anyone is going to win either way.  Depending on where this match falls in the card it could be a Cena win, a Henry win, or a MitB winner win that follows either way.  If Daniel Bryan wins like I want, it would be interesting to see how the remnant spawn of the Hardcore Championship is utilized yet again.  And we’re not even going to BEGIN to care about the World Heavyweight Championship so much as the MitB match FOR it’s contract. 

It’s funny because we’re dealing with two desperate men in a desperate match.  One is desperate to win after years of being overlooked (that Night of Champions match against Orton was acclaimed for giving Henry a “long overdue title reign”) and the other is afraid.  It shows in their interactions.  Last Monday Cena tried to stand toe-to-toe and failed.  Before he jumped at the threat of Mark Henry.  Perhaps the best metaphor is from one of my favorite animes, Yu Yu Hakusho.  The second saga focused on the grand scale martial arts Dark Tournament (Yoshihiro Togashi thinks up some amazing names, doesn’t he! (not that he has to, he’s married to Naoko Takeuchi, creator of Sailor Moon (could this story be ANY sweeter?))) and the conflict between Yusuke and the younger Toguro brother. 

In this case, we actually DO have an underdog story, because Yusuke was chosen by Toguro to be the one to end him (as revealed later (oops, I mean *SPOILER ALERT*!)) and thus the one who had to step up after being scared pissless at the start of the saga.  If that sounds convoluted then I apologize: it’s a long story and I don’t want to bore you too much.  Just watch the show. 

For this, it’s partially reversed.  Cena is Yusuke only in how he’s the younger of the two combatants.  And Henry is Toguro in the sense that he’s big, scary and follows a solid – if questionable – brand of morality.  In true anime fashion the good guy (Yusuke) won the tournament, despite being hated throughout until Toguro started killing off the audience to fuel his own power.  Like I said, I can’t get too into it because it was a long saga but much like the WWE (on occasion) and Dragonball Z (from jump), the show throws curveballs from time to time.  Remember how confused you were when the main character of Dragonball Z died in the first few episodes?  Yeah, Yusuke was trying to figure out how he died in the first SCENE of the show.

What am I saying?  Unlike the masses, I think there’s a chance Henry could win.  Not a great chance, but a chance, and it would be sweet to see it.  It would be a terrific feather in the cap that is Mark Jerrold Henry’s triumphant career.  A true triumph, you know, as if there was no Cappadonna involved.  That reference is going to fly over a few heads.

And with that we close the book on the Curious Case files of Mark Jerrold Henry.  His career is already set in stone.  Now let’s see if it gets even better.

Oh, and for your viewing pleasure:


WWE Money in the Bank 2013: Want vs. Will

WWE Money In The Bank

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It is prediction time for this year’s installment of the WWE’s Money In The Bank.  This time, I am not only asking you who do you think will win, but who do you want to win as well.  This way, we can see how predictable things may be, but is predictability actually what people want…  With that said, let’s get to the card:

MITB John Cena vs. Mark Henry

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB Ziggler vs. Del Rio

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB All-Stars

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB WHC Contract Match

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB The Miz vs. Axel

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB AJ vs. Kaitlyn

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB Jericho vs. Ryback

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MITB Shield vs. Usos

Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to express them!


WWE Payback Preview and Predictions

WWE Payback, LIVE on pay per view TONIGHT! | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WWE Payback, LIVE on pay per view TONIGHT! | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In less than eight hours World Wrestling Entertainment is poised to present the first ever Payback sports entertainment event LIVE on pay per view!

Tonight’s event, emanating from the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois, looks to give fans the signature action that only WWE can provide.  How fans actually feel about that action is up for debate, but breathe easy and be confident that whatever happens tonight fans from all over will find a way to be entertained by the action in the ring or in the Twitterverse.

The card tonight is robust enough to hold our attention even though the name of the pay per view is less than thrilling or energetic.  With the exception of two or three matches, everything scheduled for tonight meshes well with the “retribution” theme of the event.  

A part of me feels that this “retribution” theme is a tad bit weak, but who nowadays sits at home and complains about the theme of a pay per view?  I get the feeling that this event will simply serve as a capable and sturdy bridge to next month’s Money in the Bank pay per view, where the real excitement will energize us as we launch into the big summer angles headed towards Summerslam in August.

With all that being said, let’s launch into some predictions:

Pre-show – Damien Sandow vs. Sheamus | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Pre-show – Damien Sandow vs. Sheamus | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Business between these two superstars picked up when Sheamus volunteered to participate in Sandow’s intellectual challenges.  Frustrated at his inability to solve the challenges, Sheamus did what any normal bully would do and physically attacked Sandow.  Does anyone else out there notice that John Cena tends to do the exact same thing when he’s verbally bested by an opponent?  I digress…

I suppose the intent here is for Sheamus to silence Sandow and his self-righteous pseudo-intellectual pretentiousness, the goal being to punish Sandow for assuming that everyone else is his intellectual subordinate.  It is slightly concerning that the Sheamus character chooses to solve complex brain games by beating a man senseless; keep in mind that Sheamus is the face of this match.  What the hell kind of message is that sending to the kids? Be a star, why don’t you?

I would be surprised if this pre-show match up was a precursor for a long rivalry between the two men.  I can’t imagine a feud built on such a silly premise would turn into something serious between these particular competitors.  This isn’t to say that it can’t happen, it’s just that the thought of it has yet to materialize in my head.  I also don’t get the picture that fans yearn to see Sheamus fumble at solving a Rubic’s Cube or understanding the intricacies of the Devils Fork anytime soon.

What is more concerning is that Sheamus’ last few feuds have been superficial at most, which makes me believe that the investment moving forward is (or should be) in Sandow.  The “Irish John Cena” has flip-flopped around the upper mid card for some time without solid direction and seems to work best when he’s just as much in danger of a massive beating as the person he’s facing.  The only behemoth left for him to face is Big E Langston, which again would benefit his opponent more so than himself.

I expect Sheamus to win this feud and move on to something else while the company figures out what to do next with Damien Sandow.

Prediction: Sheamus wins

Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs.Wade Barrett  (c) vs. Curtis Axel | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Curtis Axel vs. Wade Barrett (c) vs. The Miz | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Look at the three men in the graphic above and answer two simple questions: do you really care who wins this match, and if that Photoshopped Intercontinental Championship wasn’t present in the picture, would you still care who wins the match?

I’m not saying this to poo-poo entirely on the match; my concern is that the importance of the title has been tossed so far over the horizon that it doesn’t bring a “big fight feel” to the match.  Unfortunately the participants in this match don’t do much to make the title at least appear like it’s worthy of attention.  What we have here is an unholy circle of mediocrity.

Curtis Axel, the “it factor” of this match, replaced the recently concussed superstar Fandango in this trio of turmoil.  Even with the brilliance of Paul Heyman at his side the Axel character is technically still a newborn in the grand scheme of things, lacking the charisma and established persona that would add an element of electricity to the match in the same way that Fandango would have.  That electricity is absolutely needed in a bout featuring two great athletes and The Miz.

Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett, in all due respect, has essentially carried the title around as an accessory.  The title is Barrett’s large, white and garish purse which he never sits on the floor and keeps others from scrounging around in it without his permission.  He gets pissed if it’s taken from him, but could just as easily opt to leave it at home and take a wallet instead if he wants to travel lightly.  The Miz doesn’t deserve a paragraph of his own.

There’s just no reason to invest in this match at all.  The bout is no where near being deficient in wrestling talent and ability, but as we’ve discussed several times on this site a WWE match is much more than just showcasing great wrestling; that’s what TNA is for.  There’s nothing remotely distinguishable about these three men and the significance of the title was lost long before this match, making it unnecessary for anyone to emotionally invest in the action other than to see two of the three competitors wrestle well.

I’m giving the win to Curtis Axel, as a win here would only add to the roll he’s been on with his high-profile victories…although it would make sense for him to fail at winning the title seeing as those high-profile “victories” are questionable.  Then again if the man can beat John Cena but fail at beating The Miz…

Prediction: Curtis Axel wins the Intercontinental Title

Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Tonight will be Dolph Ziggler’s return to pay per view action after being shelved from a concussion.  Since stepping back into active competition, Ziggler has been used sparingly in matches as WWE is treading water lightly when it comes to concussed superstars.  This is a good thing; it does have some effect on the match and the World Heavyweight Title, but when it concerns a wrestler’s mental health and stability we fans should be understanding enough to allow the company to utilize precautionary methods and booking to ensure the wrestler’s longevity in life and not just in the business.

Ziggler and Del Rio are both accomplished athletes and wrestlers, so the match should deliver for as long as Ziggler sees in-ring time.  I sincerely doubt this match will go the distance even though Ziggler has been medically cleared to perform.  The company thus far has erred on the side of safely with Ziggler. who’s first real championship reign (not counting his wet fart reign during his time as Vickie Guerrero’s cabana boy) hasn’t been all that spectacular or memorable.

The other side of the coin is that Del Rio as champion is far more lifeless than Ziggler’s reign.  The main and major redeeming fact in placing the belt on Del Rio is that you can get longer and more intense matches from a healthy champion than you can the one you’re keeping safe.

Del Rio will win the title in a relatively short match while the company plays it safe with Ziggler.

Prediction: Alberto Del Rio wins the World Heavyweight Championship

Kane vs. Dean Ambrose (c) for the United States Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Dean Ambrose (c) vs Kane for the United States Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

To put it mildly, the match between Dean Ambrose and Kane will be great.

The Kane character has seen a revitalization similar to that of Dave Batista’s final run in the company.  Ironically enough Kane is also building a WWE legacy that will be remembered as fondly as that of his “brother’s,” The Undertaker.  The man behind the mask is a consummate professional and his love for what he does can be easily seen by fans every time he steps through the ropes.

That being said Ambrose is fortunate to share the squared circle with a star of Kane’s magnitude.  Ambrose is definitely deserving, having been given this opportunity after surviving his stint in Florida Championship Wrestling and NXT.  He easily stands out in The Shield primarily for his mic skills, while his wrestling style is the epitome of the “unorthodox” style that other wrestlers attempt to pass off as a controlled form of flailing all over the place.

The fight between Kane and Ambrose will be ugly in the sense that the passion both men exhibit will easily permeate through their actions.  It won’t be hard for fans to become invested in the ebb and flow of the match, as Ambrose’s facial expressions and body language make it simple for fans to say “Damn, I bet that hurt!”

I see Ambrose retaining the title with a little help from his Shield brethren.

Prediction: Dean Ambrose retains

Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins of The Shield (c) vs Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan for the Tag Team Championships | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins of The Shield (c) vs Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan for the Tag Team Championships | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Seth Rollins and Daniel Bryan are the stars of this match, which leaves Randy Orton and Roman Reigns as finger cymbals in this symphony of kicks and bodyslams.

The team of Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan is just as volatile, if not more, than Team Hell No.  Fans have been screaming for a more edgy Randy Orton, or at least an Orton character that isn’t floating around as aimlessly as Sheamus.  I’ve read a lot of commentary that’s placed the blame on Orton for being what amounts to the green or red practice dummies in the Create-A-Move Set option on WWE video games.  I myself don’t fault Orton, but creatively it is quite possible that the character has gone as far as it can as a face.

There’s also a concern among fans and pundits that the company won’t go the distance with Daniel Bryan.  It’s no secret that WWE has a storied track record of neglecting superstars that are fantastically over with fans, particularly ones that aren’t huge and larger than life.  I’m not clear on our expectations for the company regarding Daniel Bryan; do we want him to be handed the WWE Championship now or have him kick his way to the top of the roster within a month?

The perception is that the company won’t do right by the character, but if the character makes money I cannot see them doing anything wrong with it.  I’d rather let the company show me they’re going to abuse the character and the wrestler rather than assume the worst from the jump.  Keep in mind that many didn’t believe Bryan would make it this far in the company; our expectations can be just as restrictive and condemning as the reality they exist in.

With Jimmy and Jey Uso receiving a renewed push of sorts I expect The Shield will retain due to friction between Orton and Bryan.  Reigns and Rollins will move on to defend their belts against established tag teams while Orton and Bryan duke it out in a rivalry concluding at the Money in the Bank pay per view a month away.

Prediction: Rollins and Reigns retain

Kaitlyn (c) and AJ Lee for the Divas Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Kaitlyn (c) and AJ Lee for the Divas Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Last Monday’s episode of RAW saw AJ Lee revealed as Kaitlyn’s secret admirer, which was the result of a cruel joke played on the Divas Champion by Dolph Ziggler’s questionably sane girlfriend.  Enraged after being publicly humiliated by AJ Lee, Kaitlyn has gone on rage-filled rampage that Lee will have to contend with tonight if she hopes to win the Divas title.

Kaitlyn won’t be thinking clearly, however; a large part of Lee’s offense includes mind games, similar to that of Goldust during his first run in WWE.  With Kaitlyn’s unfocused anger present, Lee with more than likely capitalize on mistakes Kaitlyn will make throughout the match.

What surprised most fans about this match up is the fact that WWE actually devoted energy into giving the Divas a specific storyline.  Some fans even commented how AJ Lee’s “crazy chick” persona is a weak version of Mickie James’ initial WWE character.  I think this opinion does a disservice to Lee, James and Kaitlyn, however.  Mickie James’ character was crazy from an odd infatuation with Trish Stratus, while Lee’s character tends to be a calculated insane, crazy with a purpose and goal … and just plain nuts from the get go.

By comparing Lee to James fans are intentionally disabling themselves from investing in Lee’s character as Lee’s character.  By conjuring up the Mickie James character of old, fans negate anything done by James after that and currently.  Kaitlyn also suffers because fans will think of her in terms of Trish Stratus even there is no comparing the two whatsoever.  The end result is back to square one, looking at the Divas division as something that it once was some 15 years ago; even then our understanding of that era is somewhat stained by inaccurate perceptions and bias.

AJ Lee will win the title, creating a rivalry and furthering the storyline between the two.

Prediction: AJ Lee wins the Divas Championship

Chris Jericho vs CM Punk | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Chris Jericho vs CM Punk | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

CM Punk will hopefully make his triumphant WWE return tonight in Chicago as he looks forward to facing WWE veteran Chris Jericho.

Jericho and Punk have had excellent matches in the past and will not disappoint tonight.  The match between them was booked due to Paul Heyman, which could be the foundation for an eventual split between the Straight Edge Superstar and the maniacal mastermind behind the original ECW.

Chicago will go bat sh*t crazy over Punk’s return, fueling rampant speculation around whether or not Punk will be a face or heel moving forward.  Plans are always subject to change and I personally have no other reason to look to this match to indicative of where the Punk character is moving next.  Instead fans should simply enjoy what will be a near five-star match between two top-tier competitors and allow the story to unfold before our eyes.

The only wildcard in this match is Punk’s status in the company.  The superstar has talked very little about the match on the various social media outlets available and has only openly stated his enjoyment of life while not wrestling.  There is a slight chance that Punk may not show up tonight, giving us a “surprise” match between Jericho and someone from the Heyman Family.  The only other feasible option in the event of a Punk no show would be the debut of the Wyatt Family … but that’s not going to happen.

If Punk wrestles he won’t lose in his hometown and Jericho won’t fall into mediocrity by losing here.

Prediction: Punk wins

Three Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs Ryback | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Three Stages of Hell Match for the WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs Ryback | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Last month’s Ambulance Match between John Cena and Ryback revealed a few things that most older fans either missed or cared very little about.

For one a John Cena WWE Champion has officially done as much as it can and will do creatively.  Cena holding the title seems forced, uninspired, and plain flat.  He’s rarely booed anymore because his detractors don’t even care enough to boo him.  Every time Cena steps into the ring, armed with his killer work ethic and never-say-die attitude, the end result is the same wash-rinse-repeat cycle we’ve seen of him for what seems like centuries.  He’s always presented as the underdog even while being the champion, and there’s nothing dynamic about the psychology of his matches or character.  Franky he’s just there like a pair of shoes that you really should’ve gotten rid of months ago.

Secondly, Ryback was positioned to be the Doomsday to John Cena’s Superman.  The fallout from their stalemate at Extreme Rules, however, has turned Ryback into a tool being used to make fans give a damn about Cena again.  This isn’t very different from a number of feuds Cena has been involved in, but it is rather unfortunate that Ryback was forced to become a heel for no other reason than to get fans to organically support Cena as an underdog … even though he’s the champion.

Thirdly, the fact that a gimmick match was used in their first official singles match as well as their second foray against each other is concerning.  I find it concerning because most gimmick matches are used when a fight escalates to certain levels and to mask certain deficiencies a wrestler or wrestlers may have.  From that perspective what does it say when Cena and Ryback’s first match needed a stipulation?

John Cena will retain his title.  There’s nothing else that can really be said or done about that.  I expect Cena and Ryback to go at it at least one more time at Money in the Bank, maybe even with a final match in August at Summerslam.  Other than that … whatever.

Prediction: John Cena retains

Payback looks good on paper but will only serve as a competent segue to the next pay per view and summer storylines pointing directly at Summerslam.  The pay per view won’t be a total bust, but if you choose to spend today doing something else, the WWE Universe will continue to roll on without a hitch.  For those of us actually watching the pay per view, here’s to hoping we’ll get some enjoyment out of the action!


WrestleMania XXIX Preview and Predictions

Anticipation is at a fevered pitch as fans are only a few days away from the biggest sports entertainment spectacle of the year!  WrestleMania XXIX is practically here, and we’re all anxious to take part in the majesty of this weekend surrounding the “grandest stage of them all!”

The build for this year’s event has been characterized by some fans as “lacking,” not having that humph that makes the event worth spending so much money for.  That is a fair and accurate criticism to make of the event, which questions the rationale for shelling out tons of money just to attend it live or ordering it on pay per view.

If you’ve followed the L.E.W.D. site from its very humble beginnings, you can easily recall that WrestleMania is the anniversary of our first official gathering; this weekend (if not the entire week) represents the first time many of us witnessed the event live and in person.  Having paid the money, helped with organizing damn near 20 people from around the country, and visited the many different events surrounding WrestleMania, I can honestly say that the magic of the weekend lies not within the actual event, but just experiencing everything that comes with it.

This year’s WrestleMania, outside of anything WWE is promoting or pandering, appears to be the largest gathering of pro wrestling related events fans have ever seen.  Wrestlecon is happening this weekend; our great friends at DragonGate USA/EVOLVE will be doing stuff, as well as Chikara, Shimmer and CZW.  Hell, even TNA is cashing in on this opportunity and hosting an event in New York on April 5!

This all goes to say that there is no reason for any fan that prides himself/herself on being a pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan to intentionally pout in the corner because this WrestleMania has somehow failed to live up to the hype and grandeur of WrestleMania X7.  There are so many different events going on and ways to see them that WWE’s premier pay per view will literally be the bookend to one hell of a weekend.  In that regard, the show cannot fail to meet expectations if you limit your expectations to simply experiencing WrestleMania by itself.

Given the pomp and circumstance of the event it isn’t unreasonable to expect WWE and its superstars to deliver come Sunday.  My point is that at this point in the game we have to begin to appreciate what the event symbolizes and not just the event itself.  This particular WrestleMania may seem like trash to some, but having experienced WrestleMania XXVII live here in Atlanta…I’ll just say this one is a big step up from that in more ways than one.

I also realize in these economic times we’re all strapped for cash and our finances won’t allow us to indulge in everything offered by the weekend; but if I had a choice, I’d honestly encourage you to purchase one of the iPPVs and locate your nearest Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings to catch WrestleMania.  If push comes to shove, you could also consider rounding up your closest friends and chipping in to order the event together.

Having said that let’s look at the card as it stands now and attempt to make some good ol’ fashioned predictions:

Pre-show - The Miz vs.Wade Barrett (c) for the Intercontinental Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Pre-show – The Miz vs.Wade Barrett (c) for the Intercontinental Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

For some time now The Miz has been involved in a series of matches battling against Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett.  Ironically enough their placement on the WrestleMania card appears to be a metaphor for their current rivalry: easily forgettable.

I believe their rivalry began with a spat over who was the bigger movie star, with Miz and Barrett speaking highly of their films The Marine 3: Homefront and Dead Man Down, respectively.  Once again in a strange twist of fate, I’m not in a particular rush to see either movie or their match.

This match feels as if the men were placed together because in the grand scheme of things both were aimlessly floating around with very little to do.  I haven’t been all that thrilled about their matches, which isn’t a slight at either individual’s work rate or abilities.  The bottom line for me is that the feud and rivalry is rather dull and the Intercontinental Championship feels like an unnecessary accessory altogether, not even speaking about Barrett’s ho-hum reign.

I expect Barrett to retain in what’s going to ultimately be an over exaggerated exhibition match.

Prediction: Wade Barrett retains.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Chris Jericho vs. Fandango | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s face facts: the average wrestling fan believes this match is a waste of time and space on the jam packed WrestleMania card.  The average fan would also believe that there are tons of wrestlers (Ted DiBiase and Kofi Kingston maybe…) who deserve this coveted spot more so than Fandango.  Those opinions, while valid, also miss the mark when it comes to the whole of Jericho’s burgeoning feud with Fandango.

For starters, Fandango (formerly Johnny Curtis from the fourth season of NXT) is a “debuting” wrestler in the company.  That word “debut” can be used loosely here, but he’s new talent relatively speaking.  It’s hilarious to see some fans dump on new talent, only to turn around and complain when the company fails to make “new stars.”

Secondly, Fandango is making his “debut” at WrestleMania against Chris Jericho, a soon-to-be-legend that works extremely well with getting over…you guessed it…new talent.  The man should be honored twice as much to have Jericho as his in-ring coach and to face him at the company’s biggest pay per view of the year.

This brings us to our third point: the higher ups in the company must think he’s worth his salt if they’ve chosen to (a) not release him, (b) have him wrestle against Chris Jericho at his (c) debut at WrestleMania.  This isn’t taking into consideration the tons of money placed into his character with the garishly elaborate sets.

Fourthly despite whatever the fans may feel the need to chant, the man can actually wrestle; there is a HUGE difference between chanting “you can’t wrestle” and “you don’t wrestle.”

All things considered Fandango’s presence at WrestleMania is enough of a big deal for Curtis Jonathan Hussey.  He doesn’t need a win here to legitimize himself, so expect Chris Jericho to humble the star Sunday night.

Prediction: Chris Jericho wins, feud with Fandango continues.

Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The feud between Del Rio and Swagger started off as a red hot rivalry rooted in the controversial subject of immigration.  Since Swagger’s return to WWE he, along with his manager Zeb Coulter, have crusaded against the individuals they believe are causing America to decay in the sort of moral turpitude that only “immigrants” can apparently cause.  Unfortunately that angle lasted about as long as a Hot Pocket in a college student’s refrigerator; as it stands now the main reason fans are invested in this match is because Jack Swagger beat up Ricardo Rodriguez.

Del Rio’s run as a face has been much better than the latter part of his run as a heel; the sad part of it all is that even with Rodriguez by his side, Del Rio consistently struggles to get the fans to rally behind him.  This nagging reality haunts Del Rio to this day, and thus creates a situation similar to that of The Miz and Wade Barrett; yeah he’s going to wrestle Jack Swagger, yeah there’s a title on the line, but do you really care?

I’m hoping that the match will be a clinic between two exceptionally gifted wrestlers, but other than that it probably won’t be anything worth writing home about.  Del Rio retains much to Yosemite Sam’s Zeb Coulter’s chagrin, and Swagger survives only to spend another day frustrated with change.

Prediction: Del Rio retains

Ryback vs. Mark Henry | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ryback vs. Mark Henry | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The bout between Ryback and Mark Henry is one of those fights that force you to ask yourself, “What took them so long?”  Actually, wrestling logic dictates that these two will feud for another month or so, realize that they’re not so different after all, and unite in a formidable team that will rise up the ranks and win the WWE Tag Team Championships.  Alas, they’ve already got a Black Guy/White Guy powerhouse team, so that dog won’t hunt anytime soon.

WrestleMania XXIX will also be a huge night for Ryback as well, serving as the star’s coming out party against another WWE legend in the making.  Say what you will about Mark Henry, but it cannot be denied that he’s one of the most tenured WWE stars still wrestling today (he debuted in 1996, while Triple H debuted in WWE one year before him in 1995).  Despite having gaps in his career due to injuries, Mark Henry has remained a fixture in the company and the man has to be worth something if they haven’t released him yet.

“Two bulls in a china shop” is the best way to describe this match; Ryback will walk away with the rub from Henry, which will bring him one step closer to his eventual run as a main event star in the company.  If Ryback is able to lift Henry up for his patented Shell Shock finisher, then WrestleMania XXIX will officially be worth the $55 you’re planning on spending on it.

Prediction: Ryback with the pinfall victory.

Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston vs. Team Hell No (c) for the WWE Tag Team Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston (w/AJ Lee) vs. Team Hell No (c) for the WWE Tag Team Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It’s amazing how quickly the members of Dolph Ziggler’s stable have managed to fall from grace in such a short time.  There was a point where the AJ Lee character was the focus of Monday Night RAW and involved heavily with multiple main event superstars at once.  There was also a point where Lee’s heat was translating nicely over to Dolph Ziggler.  Things really began to look awesome when the very large and intimidating Big E Langston joined the crew as the silent and brooding enforcer.

Then it all went to hell.

Ziggler is still in possession of his Money In the Bank championship contract and with three months left until its expiration we can only hope he cashes it before becoming the third person (after John Cena and Mr. Anderson) unable to successfully cash in their MITB contract.  AJ Lee and Big E have no purpose or direction whatsoever right now because they’re too busy living in Ziggler’s shadow, which in and of itself is a shadow of the spectacle of WrestleMania.

Whatever the case may be these two men are being fed to the WWE Tag Team Champions as neither team really has much going for them at this exact moment.  Team Hell No will retain and high-falootin’ hijinks will ensue.

Prediction: Team Hell No retains.

Sheamus, Randy Orton and Big Show vs. The Shield | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs. The Shield | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

It truly is hard to believe that two years ago we had the extreme pleasure of watching Jon Moxley wrestle right before our eyes; we knew then that Moxley had a try-out match with WWE that weekend, but we never imagined that it’d be two short years later when we’d see him in a marquee WrestleMania match.

Jon Moxley vs. Arik Cannon at Mercury Rising 2011 here in Atlanta. | Photo © Mr. Ashley Morris.

Jon Moxley vs. Arik Cannon at Mercury Rising 2011 here in Atlanta. | Photo © Mr. Ashley Morris. All Rights Reserved.

The same can be said for Tyler Black, who was scooped up from ROH by WWE seven months before Moxley.  Most fans immediately assumed that Black would be “misused” by WWE…but three years later, he’s got a WrestleMania match.

Roman Reigns debuted in FCW Wrestling in September 2010, the same month and year as Tyler Black.  As a member of the legendary Anoa’i, the superstar first known as Leakee had massive shoes and expectations to fill.  Fast forward three years…well you get the picture.

Collectively speaking The Shield is beginning to show signs of monotony as their justice-leveling antics appear to lack substance and value.  They’ve amassed two straight pay per view victories and have proven themselves to be formidable contenders against numerous superstars, including John Cena.  At WrestleMania XXIX they face their biggest challenge to date against the team of Sheamus, Randy Orton and The Big Show, but their presence still lacks a solid direction that could make the difference between their match being good and great.

The consensus among some fans is that Orton will turn heel and align himself with The Shield; this would solve a few of the company’s problems: refreshing the Randy Orton character, breathing some new life into The Shield and adding some star-power to their mix.  Think of this as WWE’s “Bully Ray-slash-Aces and 8s” swerve.

I have two problems with that rationale: there are already tons of heels in WWE at the moment and I also never saw the trail of breadcrumbs leading to such a drastic shift in Orton’s character.  With or without a heel turn from a member of the opposite team, expect The Shield to pull off the victory against Team Non-Compatible.

Prediction: The Shield wins.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The WWE took advantage of Paul Bearer’s unexpected death to concoct a convenient storyline for Taker/Punk match at WrestleMania.  Some fans have even gone as far as to question the build to the match prior to Bearer’s death; whatever the case may be, Punk has one hell of an opportunity to steal the show with the Deadman this Sunday.

Ever since Punk’s near mythic year long reign as WWE Champion, the Straight Edge Superstar has fought for the respect he feels he rightfully deserves.  If you’ve followed Punk’s WWE career (or watched his 3-disc DVD set), you would realize that he fought tooth and nail just to stay in the company and has amassed quite a bit of stock by now.  If Punk manages to give a good show with Taker, he would undoubtedly receive the credit he deserves just by hanging with him in the ring.

The build for this match leaves a lot to the imagination, but do you really care about the build more than you do the actual psychology and athleticism of the match?  Here are solid facts: Taker can still go in the ring and Punk can get a five star match from anybody (remember the bout with John Cena from RAW?).  Two exceptionally gifted wrestlers, athletes and entertainers going at it for at least twenty minutes…and some folks are stuck on the build for the match?  Please.

The safe (and accurate) assumption is that Taker will go 21-0 by defeating Punk.  I hope and pray in my heart of hearts that this is the case, but I’m not convinced the “build” was solid enough to give us reasonable doubt about Taker’s chances of losing this year.  At the very least, however, I’ve got a feeling Punk will  finally gain the “respect” he’s been searching for.

Prediction: The Undertaker defeats CM Punk

Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls vs. Team Rhodes Scholars and The Bella Twins | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Bathroom break.

Prediction: Tons of Funk & The Funkadactyls

Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs. Triple H w/ Shawn Michaels | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs. Triple H w/ Shawn Michaels | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I’m hoping you didn’t drink the Kool-Aid and let the smooth taste fool you…

While a solid and consistent number of fans were up in arms about “Twice In a Lifetime,” I failed to see anyone question the necessity of yet another Triple H “Your Career Is Officially Over…Again…” match at WrestleMania.  I swear the last time Trips showed his body at this pay per view the match was billed as the “End of an Era;” but I guess a new era can start when you cut your hair even though you still wear your leather jackets and enter the arena with a Motörhead song blaring through the sound system.

The most recognizable Attitude Era wrestlers that are still going at it are Triple H, The Undertaker, and Mark Henry.  Oddly enough each of them have matches at WrestleMania, and even more sinister is the fact that only two of those individuals are in matches where they are in a position to put over other younger superstars.  Guess which individual gets the spotlight all on his own…

It was once commented that Triple H has yet to have that “WrestleMania moment,” the one pivotal career-defining WrestleMania moment that serves as the magnum opus of his 18 year WWE career.  I’m not so sure his match with Brock Lesnar will be it.

The last match between Lesnar and Triple H wasn’t as enthralling as Lesnar’s match with Cena, which makes getting excited about this one a very daunting task.  I expect brutality and a certain level of “legit” from Lesnar (two times the average level of legit, in case you were wondering), and that’s enough to get fans interested in the match.  Who wouldn’t want to see Brock Lesnar beat someone senseless?

But again, the focus is on Triple H…the focus is on Trips settling a score with Brock and showing the WWE Universe that The Game still has it.  It’s also a way for Trips to try once again to get that WrestleMania moment he’s thirsting for.  Even with the tantalizing possibility of Lesnar ripping off Trips’ arm and beating him with it, the reality of seeing Trips’ puppy dog face as he grieves another loss to Heyman’s boy is enough to cause fans to yawn themselves silly until the main main event.

To borrow a quote from our L.E.W.D. brother Corbin Macklin, “I sweafogawd if I see this man lose onemotime…”

I call Trips beating Lesnar, enabling him to keep his wrestling career and perhaps setting up a rubber match sometime in the future.

Prediction: Triple H defeats Brock Lesnar

John Cena vs. The Rock (c) for the WWE Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

John Cena vs. The Rock (c) for the WWE Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

What more can be said about WrestleMania XXIX’s main event that hasn’t already been said?

There are a ton of possibilities that could come from the finish of the match.  At this moment I’m not sure of what future projects The Rock has lined up; I think he’s  supposed to be Hercules or start filming the another movie with Vin Diesel and Paul Walker or whatever.  All signs point to John Cena regaining the WWE Championship, placing a big thumbs up emblem on the sides where the Brahma Bull logos are at, and mediocrity on RAW ensues for another millennium.

I would actually enjoy seeing John Cena lose again to The Rock; it’s tragic to see any fan yearn to see a character’s downfall, but that’s what makes for compelling television.  It’s sickening that John Cena can manage to escape clean losses time after time; everyone has a weakness and dammit someone’s got to know how to keep Cena on the sidelines.  For me, seeing a different personality trait in Cena’s character would be gold.  He doesn’t have to be a full blown heel, but just something different than the life coach we get each week right now.

The problem with changing something that isn’t broken is that it begins to wear thin on some, particularly those of us that wish for some type of depth to be shown in the character.  Depth among shallow-end pool swimmers (i.e. kids and young women) isn’t something valued or sought after, and because of such we’re going to get another Cena WrestleMania victory and everyone for the most part goes home with a warm and fuzzy feeling inside of their stomachs.  I’ve been told that ulcers and abdominal pains have that same effect…

There have been reports that seeds have been planted for a Ryback/Cena post-WrestleMania feud (remember the Triple Threat match for CM Punk’s WWE Title and Cena’s elimination of Ryback at the Royal Rumble pay per view?), and that’s something I even hinted at in a previous post.  That type of feud will suffice, but it’s the same wash-rinse-repeat cycle Cena’s been placed in before.  Hell, I’d like it if they brought back Alex Riley as some young, upstart collegiate so-and-so attempting to assume the throne when Cena’s Jersey City All Pro character get’s ready to “go off to college.”  But alas, I’m on the internet writing for you and not the WWE for a reason…I guess.

Cena wins and we’ll get to pout about it in a post-WrestleMania blog post.

Prediction: John Cena redeems himself to himself and wins the WWE Championship for the 800th time

All things considered this action-packed WrestleMania will keep us enthralled all Sunday night.  I hope you enjoyed reading the predictions, and stay posted to the L.E.W.D. site all weekend as we indulge in the cavalcade of pro wrestling going on as we speak!


Elimination Chamber 2013 Preview and Predictions

elimination-chamber-2013-poster Greetings, sports entertainment fans!

We are one day away from the second WWE pay per view of 2013, an event billed as being one of the most demonic and unrelenting structures ever constructed and conceived in the history of professional wrestling.  The Elimination Chamber pay per view (also known as No Escape 2013 in Germany, and you only get one guess as to why) is the first stop on the highly romanticized and hyped Road to WrestleMania.

Expectations for this pay per view seem to be mild compared to that of previous events, particularly previous Elimination Chamber pay per views.  Perhaps this is due to a build that makes the pay per view a  means to an end, a show that in itself is a build to WrestleMania more so than anything else.  That isn’t a “bad” thing, per se, but the show must deliver in order to convince us that another Rock/Cena match is worth paying for.

The other thing that sticks out to me about this pay per view is the fact that the Chamber match is honestly a shell of its former self.  Many moons ago I wrote a piece on Bleacher Report about how the actual chamber was no where near as diabolical as its described to be or once was.

The “21st Century PG Era” (because there have been several “PG” eras in WWE history) pretty much neutered the chamber.  This isn’t to say that the structure isn’t demanding or that it doesn’t pose threats to the athletes well-being and safety.  What it is saying is that without the presence of blood at some point during the match, the fans have to really focus on the stories told by the facial expressions and body language of the athletes.  The sight of blood only intensified the hype about the grueling structure; without it, the fans who’ve seen just how dangerous these types of matches are will have to use his/her imagination, and that’s kind of difficult for desensitized hardcore fans.

Nevertheless I think we’re all looking forward to the pay per view just to see if our predictions for WrestleMania 29 are right.  The lineup consists of paper-great matches, and perhaps a slew of new stars will be groomed tonight for spectacular showings at “the Grandaddy of Them All.”  Without further ado, here’s the lineup:

Pre-show – Brodus Clay and Tensai vs. Team Rhodes Scholars

Pre-show – Brodus Clay and Tensai vs. Team Rhodes Scholars | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Color me simple, but I could’ve sworn that Team Rhodes Scholars broke up a few weeks ago.  Then during a house show circuit and a few media appearances, they teamed back up for “one time only” or for “limited engagements.”  Yet here they are curtain jerking for a pay per view together as a team.  It would seem that the Historical Conservation Department at Titan Towers has snookered us again.

I’ve missed out on a lot of RAWs and WWE shows as of late, so it was really out of left field for me to hear that Tensai and Clay teamed up.  I vaguely remember their interaction on the RAW from Vegas with Tensai wearing the dress and participating in the dance contest, but that’s about it.  On the other hand I do recall that there are a number of fans, and even perhaps some wrestlers, who feel that a comedy schtick for Tensai is beneath a man of his Japanese honed talent and skills.  I personally wouldn’t know what to do with Tensai at this moment in time in his career; be it far from me to suggest that the man should be happy he’s on the card and at least has a gimmick to work with (Hi, JTG!), but it is a good thing that he gets some sort of exposure as opposed to none at all.

I’m not expecting a Harley Race stature match from these four men and neither should the fans.  The plus side is that two tag teams will get the chance to ply their craft on WWE television, and that’s a very good thing considering our collective love fest for all things tag team wrestling.  I imagine that Team Rhodes Scholars will pull off the victory if Damien Sandow hits the Terminus on one an opponent…Brodus Clay perhaps.

Prediction: Team Rhodes Scholars

The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro ©   for the United States Championship | Photo (c) 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Miz vs. Antonio Cesaro (c)  for the United States Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Antonio Cesaro has held the United States Championship for an impressive 6-month reign, and The Miz looks to end that streak tonight at the Elimination Chamber pay per view.

As of late The Miz has been on a roll as a babyface, with some saying that his character feels more organic and natural as a good guy.  While that perspective is arguable I’m just not convinced that this Whole Foods Miz can really dethrone the United States Champion.  Miz will have to look for a way to counter Cesaro’s amazing strength and exceptional wrestling repertoire, and that is not a small feat.

Cesaro, on the other hand, will have to contend with the fact that he is wrestling a former WWE Champion.  This gives a slight experiential edge to the Miz, but the only “edge” that could help the Miz in this situation retired back in April 2011; so much for that hope.

I expect Cesaro to retain in what will be a pretty straight forward match; Cesaro will beat the hell out of Miz, and Miz will try not to get hurt or hurt Cesaro while in the process of being beat silly and senseless.

Prediction: Antonio Cesaro retains.

    Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo (c) 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Big Show vs. Alberto Del Rio (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Big Show lost his title to Alberto Del Rio one month ago after a grueling and brutal feud with Sheamus.  Since then Del Rio has managed to get over as a face, Big Show attempts to get under Del Rio’s skin have been fruitless, and Ricardo Rodriguez is still the most entertaining person in the entire rivalry.  This rivalry between Del Rio and Show will more than likely culminate at Elimination Chamber, as there is speculation that returning superstar “The REAL American” Jack Swagger will enter into a feud with Del Rio over the championship.

"The REAL American" Jack Swagger | Photo ©  2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“The REAL American” Jack Swagger | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Since returning Swagger has been “repackaged” as an American badass with a chip on his shoulder.   Mic work has never been Swagger’s strongest suit, so legendary wrestling fixture Dutch Mantel has been given the daunting task of working the stick for him.  Matel works as Zeb Colter, Swagger’s cantankerous manager with an ax to grind against a country filled with what he sees as “illegal immigrants.”

Atlee Greene just wrote an interesting piece about Swagger’s new gimmick and manager over on Gerweck.net.  Check it out, as it’s worth the read and also worthy of some conversation among fans.

All that being said, I think a Swagger/Del Rio feud over the championship will provide for some interesting and colorful twists and turns in a controversial main event storyline for SmackDown.  The only problem I see is that this storyline can’t happen or progress until Big Show is out of the picture…well, that’s not the only problem I see.  I would’ve enjoyed seeing Swagger use this same storyline as a face against Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship, but perhaps a Swagger/Del Rio feud is best at this moment in time.

Del Rio will put Big Show down tomorrow at the pay per view and move forward to a program with a rejuvenated and pissed off Jack Swagger.

Prediction: Del Rio to retain.

Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mark Henry vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan in an Elimination Chamber Match to determine the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Randy Orton vs. Jack Swagger vs. Chris Jericho vs. Mark Henry vs. Kane vs. Daniel Bryan in an Elimination Chamber Match to determine the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This year’s actual Chamber match is the only one that will take place, and the stakes are high for the six individuals who will face each other within the confines of the massively intimidating steel structure.  Also unique is the fact that three returning superstars—Chris Jericho, Jack Swagger and Mark Henry—will try to withstand the offense of their three seasoned and active opponents.

As mentioned in the previous blurb, it’s speculated that Jack Swagger will put World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio squarely in his sights.  If this is the case, we can expect Swagger to storm into the match and walk out as the sole survivor of this year’s Chamber fracas.

We can also probably expect to see more dissension between Team Hell No, while Randy Orton and Chris Jericho will ultimately provide some memorable moments in the match.  Mark Henry is the dark horse (no pun intended) in this match, but he and Kane will provide scores of wanton brutality that will make the match worth a damn.  I’m particularly interested in seeing Swagger and Bryan provide some excellent moments of wrestling that hardcore fans mess themselves over.

Prediction: Jack Swagger with the win to become the #1 Contender for the World Heavyweight Championship

Tamina Snuka vs. Kaitlyn (c) for the Divas Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Tamina Snuka vs. Kaitlyn (c) for the Divas Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

There’s not much to be said about this match other than the fact that once again the WWE is providing fans with something they’ve clamored to see for the longest.  I’m expecting this match to deliver exactly what folks claim is absent from the Divas Division: a wrestling match between two women who are wrestlers and not models trained to be wrestlers.  Kaitlyn has only held the belt for a  month and her reign as champion hasn’t been solidified or heavily emphasized as much as it could have been; I see her retaining the belt against Tamina, perhaps beginning a lengthy program with her in the process.

While I have your attention, there are a few things to say about the Divas Division and women’s wrestling today:

  1. Women’s wrestling will never get the respect some fans (self included) feel it deserves unless we give it the respect it deserves.  As long as we sit on our hands during Divas matches, as long as we don’t celebrate and appreciate the work these women put in to entertain us, and as long as we don’t expose ourselves to other companies that have outstanding women wrestlers on their rosters (SHIMMER, Shine, WSU, etc.), then the two major promotions in the U.S. will continue to push their respective women’s divisions as they do now.
  2. Fans claim that one major U.S. promotion treats its women’s division with way more respect than another particular major U.S. promotion.  While that may have been true prior to 2010, it’s a very debatable point here in 2013.  Bottom line is this: if any promotion was serious or “more serious” about their women’s division, then why haven’t we seen a women’s match main event a pay per view in one of the major promotions?  I’m still waiting for that moment, and any excuse made to explain why this hasn’t happen only leads back to the reality that fans are not as serious about women’s wrestling as they imagine themselves to be.
  3. Will there ever come a time when we’ll see an all Diva Elimination Chamber match, or Extreme Rules match, or Hell In a Cell Match…you get where I’m going with this…

Prediction: Kaitlyn to retain.

The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) vs. John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback | Photo ©  2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) vs. John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This match might be the most epic ass-whipping in WWE history since the career of Stone Cold Steve Austin.  Three typical big and burly WWE superstars square off against the hyper-aggressive and relentless offense of The Shield.  Damn a slobberknocker, this match is going to be flat out brutal!

Despite the incredible amount of talent present in the group, The Shield is starting to suffer from the Wild Bill Hickok Social Consortium Syndrome; this crippling disorder occurs when a poorly defined heel group becomes insignificant due to their poorly defined status.  The remedy that WWE saw fit to give the group is to place them in a match with two of the most popular superstars in the company…and John Cena.

It’s not just that The Shield is a poorly defined group, but rather they represent a nebulous yet integral part of a much larger storyline.  This form of storytelling, one that literally lasts an entire year, happens at a pace that is frustrating for most fans who have very short attention spans and poor long-term memory.  However its necessary for the group to be mind-numbingly ambiguous right now for a major reveal to occur later down the line.

In order to keep the group fresh and relevant they’ve been placed with three of WWE’s heavy hitters, thus keeping their momentum at the forefront of fans’ minds.  The real question is where do they go after their match Sunday night?

Essentially we’re staring at three bullish monsters facing three bonafide wrestlers.  Seeing as their match is a six man tag team bout, it will be noteworthy to see just how Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose can handle superstars when they don’t have numbers to work in their advantage.  Keep in mind we’ve yet to see any of the men in singles competition, which honestly brings up a lot of questions concerning their presence in the company and how they’re able to have and not have “contracts” at the same time.

The other thing we should pay close attention to is how the members of The Shield wrestle.  Up to this point their wrestling style, collectively speaking, has not been any different that of their opponents, casting them as brawlers more so than technical wrestlers.  I’m interested in seeing whether or not they keep this up as individuals when they face their opponents.

Unfortunately for The Shield, John Cena can’t possibly lose this match and will put an end to this Shield nonsense for the time being.  That sounds super negative but it’s always the case when dealing with John Cena.

Prediction: John Cena to pick up the win for himself, Sheamus and Ryback

CM Punk vs. The Rock (c) for the WWE Championship | Photo ©  2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

CM Punk vs. The Rock (c) for the WWE Championship | Photo © 2013 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Last but not least is our WWE Championship Match, where The Rock will defend his recently acquired title against the disgruntled and disenfranchised former champion CM Punk.  While a definite rehash of their match from last month’s Royal Rumble, this battle has an added stipulation: if The Rock gets counted out or disqualified, CM Punk will regain the title.

Fans expect Punk to lose this match, which will set up the second “Once In a Lifetime” match between The Rock and John Cena at WrestleMania 29.  I can’t say that I’m thrilled at that prospect, but I’m definitely not totally against it either.  The Rock defending the title against John Cena at WM is a money match all the way and it gives Rock the opportunity to put over Cena in the same way Hollywood Hulk Hogan put him over at WrestleMania X8…as if Cena needed any help getting over at this point in his career…

My particular perspective is this: there are several wrestlers who face each other countless times throughout their careers.  Seeing Rock vs. Cena one more time at WrestleMania won’t do more harm than seem some other stars face each other over and over again.  Also, Rock and Cena are far from being the only two wrestlers who’ve had “one time only” matches…so it’s useless to argue about whether or not the WWE is crossing some imaginary line of hypocrisy by having Cena and Rock face each other once more.

I expect Punk to do most of the heavy lifting during the match, as Rock is obviously not the same performer he was years ago when he moved on to other avenues in the entertainment industry.  I’m not sure if or how interference in the match will play into the finish, but I’m definitely sure that Punk will not walk out of the match as the new WWE Champion.  Anticipate the finish of the match to play an important role in  the development of the storyline for the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania.

Prediction: The Rock retains.

So far on my scorecard I have all the titles being retained as we head into April’s WrestleMania 29 pay per view.  Hopefully the show will deliver and whet our whistles for the biggest show in pro wrestling today.  Thanks for the reading, and can’t wait to catch the pay per view tomorrow!


WWE Elimination Chamber 2013 Prediction Poll

elimination-chamber-2013-poster

Place in your predictions as to who you think will will these matches.  If you have a certain scenario to go with your decision, then put it in a comment for this article.


The Story Unfolds Exactly How It Should

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While everyone is up in arms over The Rock’s controversial victory at the Royal Rumble, I am left pondering, as any great writer should, what’s the bigger picture? Why was the decision made to end such an amazing title run that had been continuously hyped? Why have Punk get the victory, and then have the match restarted, instead of just having The Rock beat him cleanly? Why are we building to “Once In a Calendar Year – The Rock vs. John Cena 2″?

While it is far too early, and there is still an entire ppv to get through before the true build to WrestleMania will begin…speculation is always fun, and I spent the majority of my day pondering why exactly the events of last night unfolded the way they did…. stick with me here.

CM Punk’s title reign was the most hyped of any in the modern era, and considerably longer as well. Outlasting reigns of such Legends as Bret Hart, Steve Austin, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan (trust me, the list goes on…) and he didn’t just do it – WWE made sure you knew he did it. Over and over, like never before in the history of the company we were made constantly aware exactly how many months, weeks, days, hell hours had passed since CM Punk was crowned WWE Champion. Isn’t that quite the accomplishment itself?

Second…

What DOES Punk get from his historic run? Sure, he doesn’t get to be the final match at WrestleMania against either John Cena or The Rock (both of whom we have seen him wrestle, out promo, and beat) and be left feeling underwhelmed and like we were getting just another PPV. Headlining WrestleMania isn’t the shining moment of Punk’s reign, it’s not why you want to be champion. You want to be champion for respect, honor, prestige, to have a place in history. Punk undoubtedly has all of that with this reign. In addition, he has the respect of the veterans of the business (minus “Superstar” Billy Graham)

Can’t you see the promo unfolding in front of your eyes?

“I am the greatest WWE CHAMPION in modern history! Not only did I beat everyone in my path, I did things no other champion in this company has ever been able to. I beat Ryback, I beat Dolph Ziggler, I beat Chris Jericho, I beat Alberto Del Rio, Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, I went into Elimination Chamber and walked out the champion, hell…I beat The Great One…I beat…The Rock! I have beaten everyone…”

*Lights go out*

*Bell tolls*

Who IS The Undertaker going to wrestle this year? He’s guaranteed to have a match this year, and when you look at how the cards are stacked, there is a very short list of possible opponents. Cena and Rock, Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio, some combination of Orton, Ryback, Sheamus, and Big Show…none of which have the clout enough to take on ‘Taker right now. So where does that leave CM Punk? Sans opponent.

So how does this go back to the bigger picture? The Undertaker comes back and calls Punk out for having the accolades of a champion, but the mouth of a scoundrel. Undertaker has always been big on respect and I feel like he would have a huge issue with Punk in the real-life wrestler world (where wrestlers exist in a comic-book and have real backstage wrestler drama) (not to be confused with the actual real world, where Mark Calloway respects Phil Brooks).

CM Punk has the same problem with Undertaker that he had with The Rock – the schedule, the implied “veteran”/”legend” status, the way people swoon for them when they do nothing for the people, etc… the promos would be magical.

This also ties back into the Royal Rumble, because you couldn’t have the title on Punk when he faces Undertaker. There’s no way Undertaker is going to take on a championship run again, and you lose the believability of Punk being able to beat Undertaker if you keep the strap on him. Either “the Streak” ends of the Undertaker would be WWE Champion.

Also, having John Cena beat The Rock and get vindication for losing last year isn’t compelling enough. Cena has to have a driving factor underneath it all.  Rock isn’t better served in any other role, and since he’ll be skating off into the Hollywood sunset immediately after ‘Mania…it only makes sense for him give Cena the rub and the title, restarting the Cena-era…for the immediate future.

It all makes sense, and could lead to a lot of great, story-filled matches at WrestleMania, and at the end of the day – that’s all we can ask for. Compelling, entertaining, riveting stories. The Rock vs John Cena for the WWE Championship and CM Punk vs. The Undertaker provide the absolute best storytelling background, possibility of money and excitement, and interest in the WWE audience. It all makes sense. Just let the story unfold…


Friday Fracas of the Afternoon!!! | An Update from the Jacob Waring camp on Friday’s Throw Down

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I hope the L.E.W.D. Crew is ready for one heck of a throw down! As we’re all aware of now, prolific sports entertainment writers Joe Burgett and Jacob Waring will clash this Friday afternoon in a final battle to settle the controversial score set from their confrontations on Wrestle Enigma.

In an update on the looming battle, the Jacob Waring camp has defiantly chosen not to be unraveled by the poignant comments made by the Joe Burgett camp. The following is a response to Joe’s rather inflammatory monologue regarding the upcoming competition that was posted on ask.fm:

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“Joe Burgett is a man whom does not gracefully accept defeat; he attacks the credibility of his opponents. He’s a little southern man whom is a one-man truther to his pathetic cause of being the best in Pro-Wrestling writing.
Allow me to dissect that disillusioned man boy whom is an egomaniac whom shoves his own ego down the throats of the masses. When he lost against me, he accused me of rounding up my friends to vote towards my way, and only vote for me.

I specifically told them to vote for whomever they wanted, but preferred if they voted for me, and for those In the other competition. I cannot control their actions, nor am I a puppet master of the voters that Joseph seems to paint me of being.
The third match-up, he added a stipulation being that an anonymous panel of five judges would vote on the better article. I won. I beat that ignominious fool, under his own stipulation. I slayed the man who believe he’s a god among writers.
He did not stay slayed for long. NO, he cried, whined that the panel of judges awarded me pity votes. He wanted another rematch, one that was undeserving.
Before our match-up this Friday, I want it to be known that I SHALL NOT FAIL! The pen is mightier than the sword, I will write the article with his blood from past competition. I shall deflate his ego to the point where he shall have to breast feed his ego to re-inflate it.

I shall beat him down by the might of my skills! The same way Hercules subdued and destroyed monsters, bandits, and criminals. He shall learn to bow down to my wisdom, learn to ACCEPT defeat. He shall rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor bowing down towards defeat.”

In true warrior fashion, the Jacob Waring camp has fired back resoundingly. Nevertheless, no amount of monologuing or posturing will be enough to determine the winner. The only way to do that is to stop by L.E.W.D. HQ this Friday to see these two pro wrasslin’ wordsmiths lay the journalistic smack down on one another!


The Road to WrestleMania 29 – Dream match in the works?

I certainly hope everyone’s 2013 is off to a great start. This is my favorite time of the year because the “Road to WrestleMania” is arguably the most intense, exciting time of the wrestling year.

That being said,  here at the L.E.W.D. Headquarters I am the one who is always pontificating on weird scenarios I think I see playing out, and possible matches as we head towards the “grandest stage of them all”.

Given that tonight is the first Monday Night Raw of the New Year and officially marks the beginning of the “Road”, I thought I would share something I found very interesting and get our loyal readers feedback.

Recently, Showrenity posted some comments from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson regarding his upcoming WrestleMania match:

“The storyline will be that starting this coming Monday [for RAW], I’m gonna go back, and it’s going to be a big return. That will lead to, hopefully, what will be the biggest WrestleMania of all time at Giants Stadium. I will headline that show, with someone who I can’t say right now. We’ve got an amazing four months lined up and planned out that will culminate in the biggest WrestleMania of all time. It’s going to be a hell of a thing.”

“…biggest WrestleMania of all time.” Those are mighty big words…even for The Rock.

Now, riddle me this LEWDers… does The Rock vs. CM Punk sound like “the biggest WrestleMania of all time”? What about The Rock vs. John Cena – ‘Once In A Lifetime, Again?’ Nay, I say.

What if…WHAT IF… Cena causes Punk to lose to The Rock at the Royal Rumble out of mere spite for having not been able to beat the “People’s Champ” at WM28, hoping to once again rub shoulders with the “Brahma Bull” in New York, this year? Well, that’s all fine and dandy except that little stipulation that the winner of the Royal Rumble gets to main event at WrestleMania against a champion of their choosing (of course, not forgetting that Dolph Ziggler having his guaranteed World Heavyweight Championship match would pretty much lead the winner of the Rumble to the WWE Championship.)

Then the thought struck me – what other marquee name and match is missing from the WrestleMania line up? Ryback isn’t quite ready. Orton will need an opponent… HHH and Lesnar are set to do battle…..hmmm….(this is when I got that eerie feeling I get sometimes)

Could the Undertaker be a mystery entrant into the Royal Rumble, win it, and go on to have a true blockbuster of a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 29? Aaaaand……..discuss!


State of Pro Wrestling Address

State of the Union address

We are back again with another Podcast covering the state of the industry.

Topics came from the following:

Vitality of the Pro Wrestling Industry for both WWE & TNA

Champions of the Industry

And various current events.

State of Wrestling Address Part 1

State of Wrestling Address Part 2


The New Generation: NXT Superstar Martin Stone

Ladies and gentlemen…introducing Martin Stone.

A long time ago when I was a regular writer on Bleacher Report, I hesitated at crafting a lengthy piece about an indy wrestling federation I stumbled upon.

This federation, Frontier Wrestling Alliance (FWA), claimed Britain as its home and featured a small, motley crew of wrestlers with remarkable skills and a questionably suspect organization to ply their craft in.  The phrase “questionably suspect” is appropriate in this conversation because the promotion is a) not as well known or prominent as other globally significant promotions and b) not as well-received or treasured as other promotions in the United Kingdom.

In fact I’ll let my good friend André Harrison from The Harrison Analysis describe it:

If the general consensus of the promotion in its home country is “cheap, one-off, and small,” then why on earth would I want to craft a lengthy piece about it on Bleacher Report?  One of the reasons was for a major storyline that was going on in the promotion, a storyline that involved the aforementioned wrestler Martin Stone.

Without getting into the specifics of that storyline just now, Martin Stone served as the leader of a “Main Event Mafia”-esque group called The Agenda, whose only purpose was to hold the promotion hostage until they all gained lucrative contracts with American wrestling promotions.  The heroic thorn in Stone’s side at the time was Leroy Kincaide, a standout star that can be easily described as a British and much more popular and versatile  John Cena.

Leroy Kincaide (far right) with Rockstar Spud (left of Kincaide), some kid and another guy.

In this storyline Stone was supposedly angling to leave the UK as the FWA World Heavyweight Championship, as he had inked a deal with a “major U.S. wrestling promotion.”  The overall beauty of the storyline was the fact that it successfully blurred the lines between kayfabe and shoot; even with several convoluted elements surging in and out of the in-ring action, it became all the more engaging with each and every promo because you couldn’t tell what was real and what was fake.

As it turned out Martin Stone did have some sort of conversation with that “major U.S. wrestling promotion.”  At the time, however, the news regarding Stone’s “conversation” or even a report of a development contract was scant to say the least.

For a bit of perspective, all of this was happening around the summer of 2010 right before and during the formation of the first iteration of Nexus in WWE.

As the major storyline continued and began to draw to a close, Stone worked while suffering from a “knee injury” that was impeding his departure to the states.  When the storyline ended, Stone disappeared and life went on.

Fast forward to 2012 and yours truly peruses WWE’s NXT website, and up pops a profile for  Danny Burch.  Needless to say I almost messed myself when I realized that Martin Stone had finally arrived in the states and to WWE.

Although I haven’t followed Stone’s career from beginning up to now, I do think it noteworthy to promote and pimp the fact that he’s made it to WWE.  A large contingency of fans tend to poop on anything related to WWE, but it is a big deal to be signed by the company.  The fact that Stone stood out to WWE enough to warrant a developmental contract says a lot about him.

Also keep in mind that FWA, the organization from which Stone arguably rose to some level of prominence, is the same organization that British wrestler Rockstar Spud made a splash.  Spud, as some of us may know, is one of the four British wrestlers featured in the forthcoming TNA show British Boot Camp, which is essentially TNA’s British version of Tough Enough.

With so many men and women training to become big time pro wrestlers, it’s a big deal to be recognized by a major international organization.

All that being said, I’m anxious about seeing what Martin Stone can offer the WWE; particularly so because of the wave of new superstars chomping at the bit for their chance to become as big (if not bigger) than John Cena, Randy Orton, etc.

For your viewing pleasure, a Martin Stone match:


SummerSlam 2012 Preview and Predictions

SummerSLAAAAAAAM!!! Yeah b****es!

Tonight’s the night!  Fans all across the world are geared up for the biggest blockbuster party of the summer.  Hailing from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, this year’s SummerSlam Pay Per View looks chocked-filled with sports entertainment goodness that’s sure to leave fans lingering on the edge of their seats…for what, we’ll have to wait until the show starts to see.

One look at the card shows us a bevy of matches that pit up-and-coming stars against veterans of the sport.  With the exception of the Triple H/Lesnar match, the card looks like a springboard for the next generation of superstars.  What better than a place like Los Angeles to attempt such an important feat for the WWE?  In that sense the show should be perfect for those who are tired of the same old matches and stars dominating the product.  If you don’t buy into this show and your favorite star gets pushed back down the card, who can you really blame for that?

That’s another point for another time.  Until then, let’s join in on the speculative goodness and provide some good ol’ fashioned previews and predictions, L.E.W.D. style!

Pre-show – Antonio Cesaro (w/Aksana) vs. Santino Marella (c) for the United States Championship

I’m sure the average fan can agree that Santino’s reign as United States Champion has been lacking…well…a lot of stuff.  Relevance, significance, prestige, importance, focus, meaning…we could go on all day about it but that’s not really the point here.  Marella is gold when it comes to bringing attention to his opponents, and it’s that ability that will make or break his pre-show match against Antonio Cesaro.

Cesaro is still in the infancy stages of his WWE career and it is very noteworthy that he’s advanced far enough in so little time to the point where he has a Pay Per View match for a championship title.  Yes it’s for a “meaningless” title, but it’s a title nevertheless.  Eric Escobar never got that far…

At any rate I expect this match to be one where Cesaro can easily dominate and physically embarrass Santino.  The irony of this international fracas is that an Italian and Swede are vying for the U.S. Championship; take that, Arizona.

Cesaro’s Pay Per View outing tonight should be one were fans get a chance to buy into the character.  By being in a high profile match against the WWE’s top babyface underdog, Cesaro can gain tons of heat and further his character without even winning the match.

Prediction – Santino Marella retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – Antonio Cesaro wins, moves on to feud with Alex Riley…b/c story line wise* no right-minded “American” would agree with it.

“The Prime Time Players” Titus O’Neil and Darren Young vs. “High Times” Kofi Kingston and R-Truth (c)
for the Tag Team Championships

Despite what fans may gripe about, tag team wrestling in the WWE has slowly made a return to some level of prominence within the company.  Any one that’s followed the progress of Titus O’Neil and Darren Young can easily agree with that aforementioned statement.  If you haven’t followed their progress, then that’s your fault and not the WWE’s.

Not much has been seen collectively from Kingston and Truth other than furthering the feud between them and the PTPs.  So far their reign has been lackluster, but that is largely due to the WWE’s insistence on putting over the story more so than the athletic competition.  While not necessarily a good thing it isn’t all that bad either; we get that the PTPs are the new jack tag team stars on the rise and that High Times feels it necessary to humble the young, brass duo.

Having been involuntarily relieved of A.W.’s managerial services, the PTPs will have to utilize their own abilities (athleticism and charisma) to put over their team as a legitimate threat to High Times.  Other than that, the group isn’t as polished as they could be and a clean win tonight would not do them justice in the long run.

Prediction - High Times retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – High Times retains. #BillionsandBillionsandBillionsofReasonsWhyTheyShould

Rey Mysterio vs. The Miz (c) for the Intercontinental Championship

According to Mr. Quinn Gammon, Rey Mysterio has a pinfall victory over The Miz which entitles him to a match of this caliber.  I honestly missed that victory and care very little to visit YouTube to see it.

This does not take away the potential for this match to be an exhibition of solid ring work from two superstars capable of getting a rise out of the fans.  My fear is that the prestige of the IC Title that was built up during the magnificent reign of Cody Rhodes has been lost by now.  With no offense to The Miz, the title has returned to its inglorious days of being an accessory; it’s like a Yves Saint Laurent purse or a celebrity’s 3-month old baby.

Since his departure from the WWE to film The Marine 2: Homefront, The Miz has yet to stand out dramatically in the midst of everything else going on in the WWE right now.  Rey Mysterio is the perfect WWE vet to bring some attention back to the man who has a pinfall victory over John Cena at WrestleMania.  Not too many people can say that now can they?

Prediction – Miz retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – Rey Mysterio wins, begins feud with Sin Cara b/c they’re going to have to do it anyway.

Kane vs. Daniel Bryan

All one has to do is take a look at Daniel Bryan’s rise to WWE superstardom to see just how far the “indy darling’s” stock has skyrocketed in such a short time.  Bryan was once the man that fans knew wouldn’t receive a fair shake in the WWE due to his size and abilities.  A few years later the man literally has fans eating out of the palms of his hands; it’d be awesome to look at his transition from professional wrestler to sports entertainer.

Bryan will go one on one against “The Big Red Machine/Monster” tonight in what could be an interesting match-up of skill versus brute strength and power.  I expect Bryan to amp up his intensity in this match to compensate for the monstrous brutality he lacks and Kane will provide.  I believe I heard somewhere that Bryan does not hold a singles victory over Kane, which means he will probably work for not only the victory but also to do so in a way that will weaken Kane’s stoic persona.

I’m not sure if RAW’s General Manager AJ Lee will get involved, but I’m hoping she doesn’t as it could take away from the athletic story telling in the ring while adding to the drama that exists between herself and Daniel Bryan.

Prediction – Kane wins via AJ Lee distraction;

Chris Jericho vs. Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero)

This will perhaps be the best wrestling match of the night.  Combine a renaissance man like Chris Jericho with a super-solid in ring worker like Dolph Ziggler and fans are guaranteed one hell of a display of athleticism and ring psychology.

We’re looking at two stars who are brilliant in their own right and bring something unique to the table of professional wrestling and sports entertainment.  Jericho is an entertainer at heart who excels at pro wrestling all around the world, is a NY Times bestselling author, is the lead singer of the popular rock band Fozzy, and has a degree in communications.

Dolph Ziggler is a decorated amateur and collegiate wrestler, has a political science/pre-law degree, and is fluent in American Sigh Language.

What in the blue fluke are we in for tonight?

Jericho’s band Fozzy has already began touring a hectic schedule that will pick up dates in September.  Needless to say Jericho’s run in the WWE at this point will probably come to an end with this match.  However look for the vet to put over Ziggler in spectacular form, perhaps in preparation for his cashing in of his Money In the Bank briefcase.

Prediction – Dolph Ziggler wins; Mr. Morris Hopes – Dolph Ziggler wins.

Big Show vs. John Cena vs. CM Punk (c), Triple Threat Match for the WWE Championship

For starters, CM Punk is not the heel in this match.

In fact, CM Punk has pretty much spouted everything that IWC pundits have spewed venomously against the WWE since the beginning of the PG Era.  His nine month reign has received far less fanfare and fan attention than what it should have (in comparison to Robert Roode’s nine month TNA World Heavyweight Championship reign) and the focus of RAW has been on everything except the champion.  So why then would anyone boo CM Punk for stating his beef with this especially when we all agree with him?

This match is important as it will allow Punk to put to rest all the chatter that does not have to do with his reign as WWE Champion.  Between the Big Show’s “I’m a giant and I can bully everybody because I’m big and mean and surly and frightening and blah blah blah,” and John Cena’s “I can take up TV time for a major announcement that’s not really an announcement and I’m also made of adamantine,” Punk’s “Joe 6-Pack” reign will carry most of the work in this match.

To be honest Big Show is just a prop in the match, the real beef taking place between the face and the champion of the company.  At this point in his career Cena really doesn’t have to be anywhere near the title in order to be significant, which is one of the reasons why Punk’s pissed off in the first place.  I imagine a feud between the two sometime in the future, but I’m also aware that Punk’s character will be featured prominently to coincide with the release of the WWE ’13 video game.  That notion makes the match all the more interesting.

Prediction – Punk Retains.  Mr. Morris Hopes – Punk retains.

Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Sheamus  (c) for the World Heavyweight Championship

That goofy smiling doof just doesn’t get it.  Del Rio is going to lose, flat out.

This match makes me angry because of Del Rio’s character being stuck in development hell.  After returning from an injury/suspension or whatever it was, Del Rio fell casually back into the same safe schtick that has not worked to get him over with the fans.  The man even changed the color of his tights and scarf to represent how “sinister” he had grown in his quest to win the WHC, and it hasn’t worked.  I won’t go in on Sheamus because he’s a pretty straight-forward character: “My name is Finlay Sheamus, and I lov’ ta foite!”

I’ll keep this one short: Del Rio has to gain some viciousness (like The Rock did in his I Quit Match against Mick Foley) in order to be taken seriously.  He should make someone bleed, put someone out of action indefinitely, and probably punt an eight year old’s soda to the other side of the area. Then and only then will someone take him seriously.

That ain’t finna happen tonight, so get ready for another month of mediocrity.

Prediction – Sheamus retains; Mr. Morris Hopes – Sheamus retains…for the love of all that is sacred please let Sheamus retain.

“The Perfect Storm” Match – Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)

Tonight’s “big business” match will see Brock Lesnar attempt to decimate Triple H.  To quote WWE Legend Jim Ross, “this one ought to be a barn burner!”

Over on Gerweck.net a few fans complained about the event taking place in Los Angeles for the fourth time in a row.  For those of you that missed Captain Obvious’ groundbreaking appearance, here’s a recap for the logic behind this:

The WWE has established itself as a major player in the Los Angeles market.  Without even considering the tons of networking opportunities and shoulder rubbing events that accompany an appearance in Los Angeles, the area has been good for the WWE fans for at least three years running.  It would be illogical and stupid for the WWE to not capitalize off of booking in a city that has been and will be gracious to their presence.

Excuse them for not considering Tumbleweed, South Dakota, population: YOU as the most lucrative host for one of their major Pay Per Views.

So while some sit and stream the show for free as they complain about the location, think about the potential money that could be raked in from this Lesnar/Triple H fight in L.A.  Lesnar’s credibility as a fighter against Triple H’s reputation as a technician and brute will make this fight even more chilling than Lesnar’s destruction of John Cena at this year’s Extreme Rules Pay Per View.

Cena was a pancake compared to Lesnar; this fight with Trips won’t be as sugary sweet or easy.  I’m not sure how many more dates Lesnar has with the company, but I’ve heard at least one person remark that a missing Triple H (due to getting his ass handed to him by Lesnar) could equal a return for John Laurinaitis.  One could only dream…

Expect this one to be ugly in a good way, satiating the blood thirsty appetite of those fans longing for an un-PG product.  I’m not predicting blood, but wouldn’t be surprised if it showed up during the course of the match.

Prediction – Triple H prevails at a great cost; Mr. Morris Hopes – Lesnar beats the crap out of Triple H, who wins but disappears from TV for awhile.

Well there you have it; hope you enjoyed the preview and here’s to a good SummerSlam that’s worthy enough to be purchased on DVD in a month or so.


WWE Signs Lucas di Léo to Developmental Deal

Two in one week!  Zounds!

Amidst all the other things going on in the wide world of sports entertainment, the WWE has apparently signed another French wrestler to a developmental contract!  The cool thing about this particular signing is that the news of it is all in French!  Bonjour to the two-and-a-half French and/or French-speaking people that visit our site!

Anyway, Go-Go-Gadget Social Media:

From Google Translate:

Pierre Booster Fontaine – The Champion of ICWA joined the WWE under a developmental contract.  A French[man], formed exclusively in France, signed by WWE: you thought it was impossible?  Lucas Di Léo did.

Lucas Di Léo - Tampa, FCW, developing for the WWE, this is the place for a dream wrestler [???]…I dream awake for more than a week! [again...???]

I guess Di Léo is excited.

Our plucky young intern Gary was able to find out that Di Léo is 25 years old, and as suggested by Pierre Fontaine, trained exclusively in France.  One shouldn’t take that fact lightly; apparently the WWE doesn’t do that much scouting for wrestlers trained outside of the United States.  I could insert a joke about outsourcing and conservativism here, but I’ll save that for later.  Other than that, Di Léo is lean and lanky, kinda like Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre; the jury is still out on whether that’s a fair assessment for the new signee…

“This is my serious face…because seriously…I’m serious.” *smarmy French laughter*

Here’s the sad thing: when most fans heard that the WWE signed two French wrestlers, they immediately figured that plans for La Résistance 2.0 were already on the table.  If not for the WWE’s penchant to do idiotic things as such more often than not, I’d find that assumption valid.  For the sake of La Ruffa and Di Léo, however, I’m willing to wait and see exactly what will come of their presence in the company.  For all we know, they could end up signing a developmental contract, spend two years wallowing in FCW, and get released before even seeing a RAW or Smackdown ring apron.

Well…that goes for De Léo; believe it or not, La Ruffa has already appeared in a WWE ring…cool thing is, he was smart enough to put his initials on the back of his tights!

Again, congratulations to Lucas Di Léo and here’s to hoping that he and La Ruffa don’t end up like Sweet Papi Sanchez.

Check out one of Di Léo’s matches…and yes, it’s in French too.


Shout out, mad props, and much respect to Gerweck.net and Catch-Arena.com for the news on Lucas Di Léo’s signing.


The Return of Quinn Pt. 11 (TNA)

OK…Brace Yourself.  Innocent ears be warned…Mr. Quinn Gammon is allowed to verbally express his thoughts and feelings on TNA current events.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 11 (TNA)

Disclaimer…if you are a TNA fan, this might hurt a little…

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 11 (TNA Atmosphere)

This is the final installment of this series.  Be on the lookout for more from both Mr. Quinn Gammon and I.

We hope you have enjoyed this journey, and we hope it will bring you back for more.  Just like WWE 3-hour RAW, we are just getting started, so it will take time to improve so be patient.


The Return of Quinn Pt. 10 (WWE)

We take a look at the WWE Diva’s Division, and what are some issues and interferences with what has kept them from prominence.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 10 (WWE)

And this is the final statement on the WWE overall atmosphere.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 10 (WWE Atmosphere)


The Return of Quinn Pt. 9

The TNA X-Division is the new topic of discussion.  What’s right, and what’s wrong with it all?

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 9


The Return of Quinn Pt. 8

The challenge of keeping opinions to ourselves becomes more difficult as we move on to Hard(core) Justice and Austin Aries as TNA Champion.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 8


The Return of Quinn Pt. 6

The conversation has moved on to the SummerSlam Main Event of CM Punk defending his WWE Championship against The Big Show & John Cena in a Triple Threat Match.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 6


WWE Signs Tom La Ruffa to Developmental Deal

Apparently the WWE has signed French wrestler Tom La Ruffa to a developmental deal!  I know, it IS unbelievable!!!

Don’t take my word for it; follow the Twitter trail:

“Who exactly is Tom La Ruffa,” you ask?  Other than being a graduate of Lance Storm’s Storm Wrestling Academy, he’s apparently the result of a midnight rendevous between Damien Sandow and Brutus Magnus.

 

“Mirror mirror on the wall…*smarmy French laughter*!”

In my “research” *snickers* I’ve found a match with Mr. La Ruffa on YouTube.  From my comfortable armchair quarterback scouting couch, he appears to have that standard big guy look that keeps Mr. McMahon awake at night.  I found something that clocked the Frenchman in at 6 ft., 200 lbs. at the tender age of 26.  For those of you keeping score at home, La Ruffa is a) tall, 2) big and chiseled,  thirdly) mildly athletic and 1) young.  One can only imagine a sweaty Vince perspiring all over that contract signing.

Check out this match with La Ruffa versus some other guy.

La Ruffa’s signing is opportune for me…and for him, I guess…as I was just pondering about my next post here on the site.  Give me a day and it’ll be up, but the fact that the ‘E has picked up this dude has me wondering what thought process went into bringing him into the evil, soulless publicly traded company.

Only time will tell what this signing will mean to the WWE or for pro wrestling/sports entertainment, but now is not the time for cynicism and regaling folks with the standard “They won’t use him properly, I hope they release him and he goes to [insert another prominent wrestling company name here] and gets used properly” argument.  For now, congratulations to Mr. La Ruffa and hopefully he’ll be a productive addition to the company…unlike that missed opportunity Hade Vansen.


The Return of Quinn Pt. 5

I know this is getting a little ridiculous, but there still is plenty more to come.  In this chapter we discuss the Triple H and Brock Lesnar feud.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 5


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