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Posts tagged “Chris Jericho

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!

WWE Opens “Hall of Doom” Performance Center in Orlando, Florida

"Actual" photo of WWE's Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, slated to open this summer.

“Actual” photo of WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, slated to open this summer.

On Thursday, April 18, 2013 a press conference was held in Orlando, Florida by World Wrestling Entertainment.

It was at this press conference that WWE Executive Vice President of Talent and Live Events Paul “Triple H” Levesque, along with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Full Sail University President Garry Jones, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orange County Commissioner Peter Clarke, announced the opening of the WWE’s state-of-the-art Performance Center.  The Performance Center will serve as the home to WWE’s talent developmental system and will also create at least 100 new jobs in Orlando.

The following is taken from the press release about the facility:

“With 26,000 square-feet, seven training rings, a world-class strength and conditioning program and cutting-edge edit and production facilities, the new Performance Center will give WWE the ability to train more potential performers than ever before through a comprehensive program including in-ring training, physical preparedness and character development.

The new center will be the training ground for talent that includes former professional and collegiate athletes, Olympians and entertainers, and will offer a best-in-class sports medicine program creating a central location for all WWE talent to receive the best care both in and out of the ring.”

Among other things this announcement also furthers WWE’s relationship with Full Sail University, which serves as the current home for the WWE NXT taping series and also allows students (such as our very own THE Nic Johnson) of the university to gain “real-world experience” alongside WWE production team members.

The creation and announcement of WWE’s Performance Center is rife with irony, the incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result.

The irony of the whole Performance Center project is that most people expect the facility to produce top-notch WWE Superstars when the actual result will more than likely resemble the same crop of superstars already present in the company.  Effectively it appears that WWE has partnered with several entities in Orlando to create more modern and efficient methods of producing crap.

That assessment of the situation is a tad bit unfair, particularly seeing as the fruits of the Performance Center won’t be truly seen for at least another year or two from today.  As nifty as the bells and whistles sound, however, all the wrestling rings and hi-tech equipment in the world cannot and will not replace some of the most fundamental and rudimentary realities that are necessary for the development of a “true” wrestling superstar.

ivandrago01The phrase “Performance Center” is oddly reminiscent of the same cold and mechanical training regimen used by Ivan Drago in the blockbuster film Rocky IV.  Despite the flashing lights, the new age equipment, the meter readings and steroid vitamin enhancement injections, there was no machine or drug vitamin in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that could develop the one muscle Drago needed to defeat Rocky Balboa…heart.

WWE’s hi-tech Performance Center will undoubtedly provide wrestling hopefuls the tools and opportunities necessary to become a WWE superstar, but it will most assuredly lack the proverbial heart needed for athletes to excel as wrestlers with the total package.  The skills and tools needed to have the total package cannot be found or taught in a fancy facility in one of the country’s most well-known hot spots for tourists and alcoholic college students.

This facility will not “train” men and women wrestlers to become WWE Superstars; it will eventually breed WWE Superstars flat out, and a WWE Superstar is something very different than a wrestler looking to become a WWE Superstar.

On April 5, a pre-WrestleManiaXXIX interview with WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan was featured in The Washington Post.  In the interview, journalist David Malitz had the following to say about Bryan’s journey thus far in his career:

“Bryan’s path to WWE was built on giving his best showing night after night on stages microscopic compared to the scale of that on which he’ll perform Sunday.  Over a decade, he has worked for dozens of companies on the sprawling independent wrestling circuit, from Pennsylvania to Japan, and earned a reputation as one of the best technical wrestlers in the world.  This means he is someone who can make any move in the ring look devastating, graceful and believable, whether he is on the giving or receiving end — an essential skill for a wrestler.”

According to Malitz’s piece, Bryan—formerly known to wrestling fans by his real name Bryan Danielson—honed his craft for ten years prior to arriving in WWE.  In those ten years Bryan traveled extensively all over the United States and even wrestled in Japan on numerous occasions; Malitz implies that it was during this time and not upon his arrival in WWE that Bryan gained a reputation for being one of “the best technical wrestlers in the world.”

What’s missing from the Performance Center is a focus on talent developing their skills as wrestlers before landing a developmental contract with WWE.  More telling is the idea, the notion that these men and women (or professional/collegiate athletes, Olympians and entertainers) would have gained this experience on their own which would ultimately lead WWE to giving them a developmental contract.  That idea is not necessarily a given, as has been made painfully obvious with certain Superstars and Divas in the past (Kelly Kelly for example).

Fans paying attention to this are witnessing a distinct difference in the execution of a developmental territory as opposed to a developmental system.  Wrestlers today looking to make it big in the WWE enter into its developmental territory and spend 2-4 years translating their craft into an easy-to-swallow WWE-esque style, not necessarily gaining any experience from working around the world by being a part of a network of territories in a full-fledged developmental system.

But in those 2-4 years these men and women are picking up the habits, traits and skills that will define their careers in terms specific WWE.  These wrestlers will learn one particular style that is honestly suitable for that specific company and its specific audience.  As a result the wrestler will only have limited resources to pull from when it comes to putting together a match that energizes and entertains fans.

In the WWE’s case, that is a simplistic style that tends to look and operate like the pro wrestling equivalent to a color-by-the-numbers activity book.  This, of course, does not sit well with older fans or those fans that prefer “wrestling” over “sports entertainment.”  In the same breath it positions the company to consistently churn out more and more individuals will simply provide the WWE with the same results they’ve been garnering for the past 10-11 years.

Consider Bryan’s words towards the end of the Washington Post interview:

“I don’t consider it wrestling…I’ve done wrestling.  Everywhere.  And just by being a good wrestler you can become popular.  But not here.  It’s more important to be entertaining than it is to be a great wrestler.  It’s fascinating to me…”

The new WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida is perhaps best equipped to produce entertainers.  The problem is that wrestlers can be very entertaining if they’re given the opportunity to add new dimensions and layers to their already vast repertoire (i.e. Bryan Danielson).

On the other hand it is not set in stone that an entertainer will be able to be a convincing wrestler, “someone who can make any move in the ring look devastating, graceful and believable, whether he is on the giving or receiving end — an essential skill for a wrestler.”  That’s not something than can be trained or gained in 2-4 years in a stint in a facility in Orlando.

Chris Jericho’s amazing story as a professional wrestler serves as a perfect example of this point.  Although Jericho’s journey has been extensively covered in his books A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex and Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps, his path in wrestling was most succinctly described in his DVD “Breaking the Code: Behind the Walls of Chris Jericho.”

chris jericho in mexicoJericho began his trek with two goals: to become a rock star and a wrestler.  This started with Jericho getting a degree in communications at 19, wrestling at the Hart Brothers School of Wrestling in Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1989.  In 1992 he traveled and wrestled in Mexico City until 1994, where he learned how to “work a crowd.”  It was in Mexico where he also learned and adopted elements of the Lucha Libre style.

For six weeks after his stint in Mexico City he worked in Hamburg, Germany where he learned how perform mentally a different match every night (as he performed in front of the same crowd every night for six weeks straight).  From that point Jericho found himself in Japan, where he learned how to become a technically gifted wrestler and gained the respect of several key figures and wrestlers in the industry.  Jericho also learned the Strong style and adopted that to his repertoire.

Also in 1994 Jericho worked for Smoky Mountain Wrestling in Tennessee, where he learned the Southern style of cutting great promos.  In 1996 Jericho was able to land a job with Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), where he wrestled in front of the country’s most rabid and diehard wrestling fans.  From 1996-1999 Jericho worked for Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Finally in August of 1999, Chris Jericho debuted in the WWF, bringing altogether 10 years of experience from organizations spread across five different countries in Asia, North America and Europe.  To this day Chris Jericho is one of the most well respected wrestlers and veterans still able to entertain fans as a wrestler…and a rock star.

Is it feasible or possible for those same skills to be taught to a young wrestler coming into the Performance Center for a 2-4 year stint before being brought up to the main roster?  Even with the guidance and tutelage of veterans in the business, nothing can replace the real life experience of having to perform for different crowds around the world or even the country.

That being said, the WWE’s state-of-the-art facility can only exist to help future superstars add one more element to their skill sets as wrestlers.  The real issue, an issue WWE will have to respond to eventually, is whether or not they’re open to hiring wrestlers that have honed their skills over a solid period of time in promotions outside of the United States.   Better still, will WWE have the gumption to send all of its developmental stars around the world (or even the country) to adequately hone their skills and talents?

It’s exciting to have a facility in Orlando with seven rings and a team of nutritionists,  but all the fancy pants flash in the world can’t make up for a wrestler’s experience in putting on an entertaining and captivating story.

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  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


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.

RAW Review 8-20-19, a.k.a. “R-E-S-P-U-N-K!”

Cena to IWC – “Once again you diptweeds have to pay attention to me! Pzzzbbblltttttttt!!!”| Photo: © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The August 20th episode of RAW hailed from Fresno, California, fresh off the heels of what I was told was one boss SummerSlam Pay Per View Sunday night.  And what better way to cap off an action packed evening of $60 worth of sports entertainment than to allow John Cena to stir the pot, poop in it, serve it up and leave us with yet another reason to hate his character’s guts?

Last night’s episode of RAW was all about respect, particularly the lack of respect shown to the current WWE Champion CM Punk.  One could say that Punk’s career in the WWE has been captured accurately in this one story line.  I’m not one to believe in coincidence; I think everything happens for a reason even if we’re not aware of what the reasoning is.  I can’t be the only one that sees the next few months as the most important and defining in Punk’s WWE career…

He’s the subject of a 3-disc DVD set and he graces the cover of the new WWE ’13 video game (both due out in October).  He’s now placed firmly back into a major story line shoulder to shoulder with John Cena.  He represents a score of superstars rising the WWE ranks that look less and less like bodybuilders and more like professional wrestlers.  I mean, this is what the IWC wants, right?

At any rate a lot of the everything that took place last night was inconsequential; from this point story lines will build up to the Night of Champions Pay Per View, leaving the show in the weird “reset” phase that most fans dislike.  The next big Pay Per View for the WWE is Survivor Series in November, which means that we’ve got both Night of Champions (from Boston)and Hell In a Cell (which will emanate from here in Atlanta) to meander through before we can really say “This is the match I’ve been waiting to see!”

Until then we have to pay close attention to the distinct journey Punk’s character is taking.  Believe it or not it’s very familiar and it’s looking to be reminiscent of another story line from an era that fans clamored for the WWE to bring back.

For those of you that care, Survivor Series will be held in the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.  Here’s a picture:

Okay, so it isn’t the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but I was in Indianapolis this summer and needed a reason to post a picture from my trip.

Here are a few things that stood out to me:

  • Randy Orton: Mercenary
  • David Otunga: Tool
  • Kaitlyn: New Diva Rising
  • Zack Ryder: Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha
  • CM Punk: Wrestling’s Finest


Got a problem and need it fixed real quick? Never fear, call RANDY!!! | Photo: © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Since his return to the WWE following his 60-day suspension Randy has been used sparingly on WWE television.  Rumor has it that he’s set to leave again soon to begin filming on the WWE Studios feature film, 12 Rounds: Reloaded.  Yep, they’re making another one.

If there is any truth to this speculation, then this role is perfect for Randy because he can easily disappear from TV without anyone questioning it…well anyone other than my buddies @SmkeAndMirrors, @VipersOracle, and the legions of other Ortonites prowling around the interwebs (shameless plug).

It is pretty different to see Randy as someone called in to extract justice for someone else, or to victimize some hapless sap to further a story line he’s not involved in.  I like the general direction of the character at this time, which will do him well until the Barrett Barrage returns to television.  “Hey Randy, can you open this jar of pickles for me???” RKO!  “Hey Randy, I can’t find the derivative of this polynomial; can you help me out here?” Powerslam!  “Hey Randy, I need to put this football between the uprights to take the Browns to the SuperBowl; lend me a hand?”  Pun…err…gentle yet swift tap with the big toe…


Be honest; did you even realize he hadn’t been on TV since before Laurinaitis got fired? | Photo: © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

I swore up and down that Otunga lost a lot of body mass once I saw him sauntering down the aisle.  But in the midst of my speculation, Mr. Quinn Gammon pointed out that he only looked smaller because he shaved his trademark mustache and goatee combo.  That’s a damn shame when your mustache makes you look bigger.

Other than being a swole Carlton Banks, there’s not much worth mentioning about Otunga’s return other than the fact that he was served up to Big Show, who appeared to be more of a face than a heel last night.  What’s even more confusing is the fact that Otunga is useful enough to the company to still be employed with the company; maybe there is some good use from that Harvard Law degree he’s got.

Is it just me or does the ref kinda look like a young Eric Bischoff? What’s scary: that’s more important than talking about Kaitlyn… | Photo: © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

In other news, Kaitlyn is now the number one contender to Layla’s WWE Divas Championship.  I personally don’t think the fans could have actually cared any less, which is sad for Layla, Kaitlyn, the Divas Championship and the Divas Division.

While most fans take joy in belittling anything and everything the Divas do, their constant complaining causes them to miss the fact that the Divas actually provide some worthwhile matches and entertainment if you’re actually looking for it.  To that end, Kaitlyn is one of the Divas that honestly doesn’t fit the “model-turned-model-slash-wrestler-slash-Diva” mold.

If you’ve seen Kaitlyn do anything in FCW and on NXT, you’ll quickly note that she’s actually a decent wrestler.  Prior to joining the WWE Kaitlyn was a professional bodybuilder, which is very similar to the route John Cena traveled down before landing in the company.  I’m not saying that Kaitlyn is the female Antonio Inoki, but she is far from being a slouch in the ring.

Her impending match with Layla should be interesting enough to watch, but the bigger issue is how that story will be made into something significant for the fans to buy into.  The road to relevance for the Divas is long and rocky, but it is refreshing to see that Kaitlyn and not Kelly Kelly earned the right to fight for the title.

There you go, Ryder; back down in creative hell where you can prosper. | Photo: © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Call me weird but I enjoy watching Kane throttle Zack Ryder consistently.  It’s just the funniest thing to me next to The Three Stooges and reading people’s comments on news and pro wrestling websites.  I literally spent at least three months of my life waiting to see just how Kane chose to eviscerate Ryder from one week to the next.

My thing is always this: Ryder KNOWS what will happen when he steps into the ring with Kane.  Why does he continue to do so??  YOU CAN’T BEAT HIM, ZACK!  GIVE IT UP…FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS SACRED IN THIS WORLD, GIVE IT UP!

I guess Ryder’s tenacity is what makes this very minor story line engaging enough.  He seems to be the only one that believes he can get the upper had on Kane, and you have to admire that gumption.  But I’m not gone not laugh when that man gets embarrassed by Kane.  I think I’d lose my damn mind if the Big Red Machine/Monster tossed his Long Island behind into a large body of water.

Punk squats in the ring after giving the King one hell of a ding to the domepiece. | Photo: © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

All Punk wants is a little bit of respect; that’s all the brother is asking for.  But at what cost?

Fans far and wide have harped on how Punk’s current character is a heel, but that really isn’t the case seeing as Punk is pretty much right about not having the respect he deserves as the standard bearer in WWE.  One could even argue the same about WWE on a whole.

Most fans today bitch and complain about WWE and it’s watered down PG product.  The fans who stream the Pay Per Views complain about everything; the fans who won’t buy merch complain about everything.  From a star not winning a match to even the location of their Sunday night spectaculars, it seems as if the popular thing today is to badmouth WWE no matter what the company does to please fans.

But this PG Era that fans complain about is bringing them money despite popular belief and despite popular belief, the company is making more strides by pandering to kids than it would by peddling the smut that made them uber-popular during the late 1990s.  News flash: the smut worked in the late 1990s for a reason; it’s 2012…get over it.

It would appear that some fans have lost respect for the WWE, as Mr. Gammon said to me while watching the show yesterday.  While I don’t necessarily agree with his assessment completely, I understand what he meant: no matter what the WWE provides there will exist a very vocal segment of fans who will complain just for the sake of complaining.

Punk’s championship reign is very similar to the WWE in that regard.  Here we have a champ who has had excellent wrestling matches for nine months, who has kissed babies and made the publicity appearances, who has towed the line for the company three months shy of a year…and yet he still plays second fiddle to John Cena’s major announcement about what he plans on having for lunch next week.  Not only that but the most memorable moment during his rise in popularity goes all the way back to his June 2011 pipe bomb.

Punk has done everything the fans and the company expected and demanded him to do; yet there are no petitions or diatribes to get him to close out a Pay Per View or show.  And after all of that, even when he takes a stand, he’s the one that’s turned his back on the fans according to Jerry Lawler.  Never let it be said that WWE writers can’t incorporate real life drama into their stories.

So where does Punk go from here?  He yearns for the respect of his peers and the people, but demands it instead of letting it just come naturally as he earns with with his repertoire of reigns and wins.  On the other hand, John Cena basically said he doesn’t need the fans to think he’s the best because he believes it himself.  This is like the fiftieth time Cena has all but said “screw what the people think,” and yet he still gets cheered; it’s almost like all the episodes of RAW are being broadcast from Canada…speaking of which, anyone remember the Stone Cold/Bret Hart story line?

Several of us here at L.E.W.D. believe that WWE is on the way to ushering in a new era (perhaps a PG-14 one) that will see young and rising wrestlers become the superstars of tomorrow.  Dolph Ziggler has “retired” Chris Jericho and holds a contract for a guaranteed WHC match; CM Punk can cement his legacy by defeating John Cena next month at Night of Champions.  Sin Cara is less botch-prone than before his injury and there’s an actual tag team division with a very basic and solid feud between two teams.  Daniel Bryan is still entertaining, AJ Lee is still beguiling, and a credible contender for the Divas Championship has stepped up to the plate…

What more can you ask for???

And that’s a serious question.  Please feel free to give your thoughts below…


Da Infamous DiZ talks about Summerslam 2012

*All moving gifs courtesy of ilovewrestlinggifs*

Hello again, dear friends and enemies. Welcome back to the site. If you’re like me (and you’re not, because I’m the incarnation of perfection) then you come here for pro wrestling and/or sports entertainment commentary, insight, witty banter and, of course, the occasional bit of hardcore animal porn. But since the nation of Kickassia has passed the Protection of Oriental Pigeons Act (aka the P.O.O.P. Act) we’ve had to fall back on pure analysis.

But not me, true believers! Never a fan of the status quo or hot bird-on-bear action, I, the Infamous One himself, is proud to bring you ranting! Yes, ranting, pure unadulterated ranting on something we all love to hate: the WWE! As we all know, last night was Summerslam 2012, one of the big four PPVs the company puts out, and the question is simple: “DiZ, you clandestine paragon of forthrightness, what did YOU, in all your greatness and humility that I can never hope to achieve, think of the PPV?”

Since you are so kind to acknowledge my greatness, I’ll tell you. I’ve picked up a bad habit, I’m sorry to say, one that compels me to actually buy the PPVs, fry up some chicken wings, drink Yuengling and Sam Adams and occasionally endure a random appearance by a long-lost friend. The last element within that circle did not occur last night, but just as well. Those long-lost friends are usually casual fans and at a certain point last night they would have felt cheated out of the $0.00 they paid to watch it.

Not that they matter. What did I think? Well we start with the pre-show match between Antonio Cesaro, the man of five languages (and six words) versus the United States Champion (and I use that term loosely) Santino Marella. Just for you, reader, I’ll treat you to highlights from the match via moving gifs which highlight the best parts of the matches. So let us begin.

The Book of Man Logic says: applying teeth to clothing that may touch another man’s crotch is ill advised.

We all know the reign of Santino Marella as the United States Champion has been stupidly underwhelming.  His high point came in the Elimination Chamber match when he was literally the cock of the walk.  His inclusion into the PPV, even in the pre-show, is fulfillment of the role of the champion who puts others over.  Enter Antonio Cesaro, master of one-word phrases and questionably attractive European women.  He’s quickly risen from being Teddy Long’s pseudo-adversary to PPV pre-show talent, and why not?  He’s a big Swede who beats people up, kind of like this guy here (only he’s Spanish).

Besides that, with patriotism very high right now (election years will do that to you) a good international heel is needed, and Cesaro fits that bill to a Rocky IV kind of perfection.  The match was entertaining, far more than Marella has been in a long time, and his loss came as a sigh of relief to us, the masses.  Frankly I think Cesaro can enact a respectable and entertaining run as the United States Champion, and maybe he’ll even bring a little validity back to the title.  The big question now is who he feuds with next.  I’m hoping for a low-to-mid carder who hasn’t exactly had a chance to shine or, hypothetically, gets thrown into walls by giants.

Aksana, when we return to hotel, I must break you…

Match one (two if you want to speak in technicalities) was between the Show Off Dolph Ziggler and Y2J Chris Jericho.  I don’t know who said it, but a very wise person said that this match had the potential to be the best PPV opener in the history of the WWE.

I agreed.  Jericho versus Ziggler, old versus new, unofficial mentor versus unofficial mentee, Yomi versus Shura (Yu Yu Hakusho fans might get that one), and sure enough it was all that and more.  The in-ring psychology of the match suggested to me that Ziggler was like a younger brother to Jericho, desperately trying to earn his elder sibling’s respect through ability, skill and imitation.  That, as well as the fact that Jericho’s role in the WWE right now is to put over the next generation of stars, fueled this great match.

You got a degree and you know sign language, but do you have a heavy metal band? HUH!?!

We were treated to just over 13 minutes of smooth ring work and flashy bravado that ended, surprisingly, with a Jericho win.  The crowd was enthused and, even better, we were treated to the Lion Tamer.  Not the Walls of Jericho as many figured, but the Lion Tamer.  I explained to one person, “The Walls of Jericho is a renamed Boston Crab.  The Lion Tamer is there to crush your skill and snap your back in two.”  Big brother wasn’t amused.

But I’m looking past that and to what this match might mean for this feud between Jericho and Ziggler.  It seems like many a Superstar right now are playing the shadow game to a wrestler they emulate or idolize, and this is the first time I’m seeing how blatantly this is being shown.  I don’t see Jericho doing anything big for a bit and Ziggler may not cash in that briefcase in the near future (or maybe he will; get the belt of Sheamus; oops, spoiler) but we may finally see that almost Rule of Two Sith thing I was hinting at so long enough back when Cena was supposed to join the dark side.

Maybe.  I hope so.

It’s “No! No! No!” because typing “Yes! Yes! Yes!” into Google is X rated.

Match three was between Daniel Bryan and Kane, more in-ring story for the long (and compelling) arc between AJ, Punk, Bryan and Kane.  While the “anger management” angle has seemed to fade a little bit, the sun that is Bryan’s career hasn’t subsided in the least.  Easily one of the finest workers in the WWE in a long time, he makes the ring work look good and he plays the crowd to perfection, whether friendly or jerky, aggressive or downright psychotic.  Pair him with Kane, another of the great workers in the WWE, and we have a great match.

It is interesting, I think, that this angle has lasted as long as it has, and it all revolves around a Diva, the most powerful Diva on the program, the Diva that did what Eve couldn’t do and did it without any sexual innuendo (the mantra is “I will resist Eve breast, mouth or sex jokes.  I will resist…”) and now it seems like she punishing every man that had any relation with her along the way.  Look at Punk and his triple threat.  Look at Bryan and his psychological evaluations.  Look at Kane and his relative third wheel status.  Look at Josh Matthews and…

The moral of the story, kids, is that just doing your job is hazardous to your health.

Well to be fair, he was just doing his job.  But really, when’s the last time that paid off?  That’s not very “Be A Star”-ish, WWE.  What does it say when a man who is just trying to do his job gets manhandled and may just suffer from some anal bleeding?

But Bryan won the match via a Small Package (ironic, I know) and AJ has promised retribution and consequences for Kane’s attack.  A great match, great work from both Superstars, great tolerance for Josh Matthews.  I don’t know WHO he pissed off to get thrown around and beat up as of late but he’s taking it all in stride.

Our fourth match was for the Intercontinental Championship, a real barn burner between token talking Mexican good guy Rey Mysterio and (not a) movie star Mike Mizanin, aka the Miz.  I didn’t know what to expect or think of this match but I have to admit: I hate Batman and Bruce Wayne just a little bit more now that we have this image:

Insert generic Adam West Batman quote here.

Personally I think he’d have been better off coming out as the Riddler, being “Mysterio” and all, or even Bane, because of the similar Mexican heritage, but hey, when you need to impersonate a hero, you impersonate everyone’s favorite psychologically damaged, sexually repressed/confused, forever lonely billionaire!  Trust me, I know Batman lore, I’m being VERY nice just saying that.

Like I said, I didn’t have much of an opinion for this match because my only thought was that I wanted the Miz to win.  I’m in the minority here but I’m not big on Rey Mysterio for the same reason I’m not big on Sin Cara: I don’t see their styles soar because they rarely face other luchas.  When the eventual (and inevitable) battle between him and Sin Cara becomes a reality (not that tag team mess where they look like Double Dragon) I’ll probably enjoy it more.  After all, what is Sin Cara in the WWE but in the shadow… of… Rey… Mysterio… do I hear the sweet bells of validation?!

The actual match was surprisingly good.  The back-and-forth was clever and enjoyable, and the end of the match actually did feature some serious edge-of-your-seat(-with-a-beer-in-hand) moments.  The Miz’s victory pleased me even more because it looked like a hard fought victory, which is the best kind of victory.

Match five was the rather noteworthy Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio 463 (I don’t think the number is that high, but it might as well be).  We’ve seen this match plenty of times but despite Del Rio’s in-ring skill he’s just not that fun to watch overall.  He’s rather dull on the mic and he’s grown stale.  Someone’s left the cap off of the bottle of Senzao if you catch my drift.

Therein lies the issue: the actual match was solid.  It was clean.  But like the Primetime Players vs. Kofi Kingston and R-Truth 353 (again, not that many, but might as well be) back when A.W. was their manager, the crowd wasn’t into it.  A.W. brought energy to that match, and Ricardo Rodriguez couldn’t do the same for this match.

There was a certain time when the crowd popped though that caught my attention, as shown here:

The crowd popped at the armlock. Otherwise, they said, “We are not amused!”

But that pop actually came BEFORE Sheamus displayed his strength, when Del Rio locked in his finisher.  That was curious, but even when Ricardo threw his shoe (you’re missed, A.W.) the crowd just wasn’t into this otherwise solid match.  Sheamus retained, but it’s about time we had something new.  Sheamus vs. Del Rio has long since overstayed its welcome, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Orton in the WHC title hunt again.  Speaking of Orton… no, nothing.  I just wanted to get your hopes up.  Like I said to Quinn before: he dismantles with arguments and logic.  I just hurt people’s feelings.  Deal with it!

The next match was the Primetime Players against Kofi Kingston and R-Truth, who seemed to be dressed in Superman attire for some reason or the other.  You’ll notice the lack of moving gifs for this one.  That’s because there are none (or at least I don’t feel like looking).  It was a standard match, and the consistent chant of “Kobe” throughout (or maybe “Kofi”, it was hard to tell) was the highlight.

My biggest thing was finally acknowledging that one of the biggest African-American wrestlers in the WWE right now is a Que.  That’s gotta be an interesting article in the Oracle I reckon.  Kofi and R-Truth (I call them “Good Times” because I think of this song when they come out) retain their titles, but honestly I don’t feel too strongly either way about them right now.

The WWE Championship match followed this tag team encounter, and the first thing that caught my attention was the order of appearance.  John Cena was first, then the Big Show, and finally the CHAMPION CM Punk.  That’s good.  It’s progress.  Punk wasn’t in the main event but that’s a gripe for another post.

There’s no more animal porn, but this… is our loophole.

I’ll say this: that match was as good as it could have possibly been.  There was a consistent attempt to keep it a one-on-one bout and the double tap out was, predictably I’ll admit, interesting if not a little cliché.  Punk’s victory was the icing on the cake because it was both so like him and so unlike him at the same time, which only makes his tweener status (HE’S NOT A HEEL!) all the better.

But you have to wonder: is this part of a grand months long arc like that of Daniel Bryan?  We know the Rock is waiting at the Royal Rumble for his match (with no reasonable explanation as to why this match CAN even go down) but what until then?  Minor sidestories within?  Gaiden?  Cheese?  The Tahj Mahal?  Hammer?  I’m actually voting for Hammer.  Otherwise, CM Punk is a terrific tweener, in the same vein of Stone Cold himself (SHADOWS!  SHADOWS!  SHADOWS!) and I like that.

He’s walking around in this dress that she wore, she is gone, but the joke’s the same… pretty in pink… isn’t she? (I had to do it)

What the people (i.e. – many of thee) don’t understand is that there’s a lot more to the characters you love and hate in the ring.  There’s more than just black and white; there is gray, several shades of it, about fifty to be exact.  That’s where CM Punk is.  That’s actually where a LOT of wrestlers are, but people don’t like to think.  There’s black and white, but no gray.  Gray SUCKS!  So people just think, “Oh, he hit the Rock so he’s a heel!”  Shut up, fool, he’s a tweener, between face and heel, adept in both, master of none!

I’m sorry, I got angry because I envisioned your (ADRIAN!) face and just screamed at the computer screen.  Let me sum up my feelings on those that feel like CM Punk is a heel with this:

The fine for this little infraction gonna be rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin, rollin…

Next we had our Cash Money performance, and being an ardent hater of anything post-2003 from the Cash Money camp that was NOT Teena Marie let’s just apply the above moving gif to my feelings for the performance.  There wasn’t enough dancing Layla but there was enough trying to sing Spanish announcers.  That made the overall performance about a C+.  It would have been a B-, but like I said: not enough dancing Layla.

Finally, my legion of followers, we come to the main event.  Brock Lesnar versus Triple H.  I’ll offer this disclaimer now: if you’re a casual fan of pro wrestling/sports entertainment, this match sucked.  If you’re a deep thinking pro wrestling/sports entertainment fan, this match was intriguing.

Lesnar: Hey Trips! Jimmie John’s profits are up! This ass-whuppin is on me!

It was like a game of chess, that’s the only way I can describe it.  And chess, while interesting, isn’t always something that has your eyes shifting like a game of ping pong.  It was like a ballet almost, a psychological struggle between a man with no morals and a man who still thinks he has something to prove after losing a record third time to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

Lesnar: Oh yeah, I’m a major cinephile. Check this out! JUDOOOOO CHOP!

No tables were destroyed, no weapons utilized, just some retrospectively brutal attacks by both combatants.  Looking at what this match is truly here to symbolize, you have to wonder if this is all part of the long road (or an extended storyline) leading to the end of Triple H’s in-ring work.  He’s been around for a while, staked his claim, and now he’s been emasculated and defeated, both as an athlete (Lesnar’s repeatedly beat him senseless) and professionally (Lesnar didn’t get his way, but he left the scars).  Is it time to see the end of Triple H, the wrestler?

Lesnar: I love John Briley too! CRY FREEDOM!

Maybe.  I have a scenario in mind actually that would be a perfect way for Triple H to leave the ring, but it would need to happen at Wrestlemania.  In any case, it was a gentleman’s match, not full of spotfest excitement or bloody indulgence but true, technical, specified brutality.  Watching from both a casual and deep thinking pro wrestling/sports entertainment state of mind, I was equally bored/angered and amazed/melancholy, because with the abundance of shadows I’ve spoken of earlier, who exactly is the shadow for Triple H?  Stone Cold’s legacy is in the spirit of CM Punk right now.  Hogan’s is in Cena.  Rey Mysterio’s is in Sin Cara.  Jericho’s is in Ziggler, maybe even a few others.  Could perhaps Sheamus…

Well, it was a deep match, with Triple H tapping out to Lesnar.  He left the ring like a king who had finally taken too many wounds.  Classy.  Very cool, very classy.

That sums up the PPV for me.  Because I’m in the weird habit of paying for these and essentially hosting little private parties for them now, I hold the PPVs, especially the big four, in a higher regard now, and I can say that Summerslam didn’t disappoint.  The crowd wasn’t as enthused at all times as they could have been, and the main event is going to be a polarizing thing for many, but by and by I liked it, money well spent, a nice compliment to my many, many beers.

The DiZ gives this PPV a B for a grade.  That’s about all I have to say today.  You stay classy, San Diego.  I’m Ron Burgandy…?

The Return of Quinn Pt. 3

In this episode, we talk about Chris Jericho and his involvement with the up-and-coming Dolph Ziggler.

The Return of Quinn 2012-08-06 Pt. 3

More is on it’s way!

WrestleMania XXVIII Predictions

WrestleMania 28 Wallpaper

These polls will be the way we will do predictions here at L.E.W.D. Headquaters.  So let’s see what you think. (This is a test run to see how we will do things in the future)

The Scholar’s First WrestleMania

As my first WrestleMania draws near, I am looking forward to the event with high expectations.

Yes, you read that correctly; my FIRST WrestleMania. Though I have had a few minor history lessons with The Right Reverend’s extensive WWE DVD collection, I haven’t seen any WrestleMania events.

I began watching and gaining interest in the WWE in the summer of 2011. My first Pay-Per-View was SummerSlam, but so far none of the events have been as monumental as SummerSlam 2011.

SummerSlam 2011 contained all the rises and falls of a fantastic plot with a hidden surprise at the end when Alberto Del Rio cashed in his money in the bank briefcase.  The storylines before the matches of SummerSlam 2011 made me interested in the fights, who was going to win, and how they would execute that win. Pay-Per-Views since then have almost let me down as I find myself engaged in certain matches, but not the entirety.

I have high hopes for my first WrestleMania, especially with the gradually growing tension from the reappearance of “The Rock.”  As a new fan, the excitement of the matches is highly drawn from the progression of plot on Monday Night RAW.  I can still be enamored by the characters and their promotional speeches.

That being said, my wrestling watching career is still young; “The Rock” hasn’t been around to enamor me as a viewer, I don’t know his character very well, and in fact, the first thing I think of when I think “Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson” is his appearance as the character of The Tooth Fairy.

The Rock’s recent appearance has given me a sense of interest, however.  In the debacle of The Rock vs. John Cena, I will pick The Rock simply because John Cena’s promotions are weaker.  The Rock has been absent for almost the entirety of my recent wrestling watching, yet he had the charisma and power to sway me.

Dammit just fight already!

I generally do not like John Cena as he’s a stock character; on the other hand, in the reappearance of The Rock, he gained my respect as he is a major face of the WWE.  The Rock serves the WWE as a hall of fame monument; he’s the face who can be absent for an extended period of time, making terrible movies and return to a loyal crowd.

John Cena on the other hand is still in the youth of his career; he’s the (disputable) hero of today’s young wrestling fans and stands as the rookie who’s gaining his place with the epic characters that are senior to him.  He is now fighting for his place, just as Triple H and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin did ten to fifteen years ago.

He’s also a lesser version of these characters because, as we have discovered in any life context, generations are degenerative.

Today’s youth is captivated by social media and electronics.  Their wrestling characters , therefore, are simple and provide stock for a good guy and a bad guy that work toward a common goal that is either heroic or tainted with “evil.”

Take a look at any of the emerging stars of the WWE; how do they differ from previous characters who have gained so much prestige and respect?  Their characters are a lot less round.  The point is that they don’t matter as much because they haven’t taken the extra time to develop that character for themselves.

But back to WrestleMania; I’m looking forward to watching this event.  I want to see if “The Rock” has the power to come back and kick some ass, or if John Cena was right and that he should go back to Hollywood.

I want to see Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres (although I dread the screaming from Kelly Kelly), especially since the arising conflict of Eve’s promiscuous nature.

I’m ready for the comedy of Team Teddy Long vs. Team John  Laurinautis.

I’m excited about Randy Orton vs. Kane, because quite frankly, Kane is so creepy he’s awesome.

I want to see Sheamus dominate Daniel Bryan because Bryan looks like a leprechaun.

CM Punk and Chris Jericho have been amusing me for weeks; I want to know if the guy in the queer light-up jacket is going to become the new champion.

The match that I’m most excited about is The Undertaker vs. Triple H in the Hell in a Cell Match. The match itself is so gruesome that it’s interesting, and the fact that I get to see two veteran figures from the WWE in a match with a special referee guest of another special figure – Shawn Michaels – simply makes the match more epic. The Undertaker is scary, and Triple H has won my attention ever since he was COO.

To you, dedicated fans, I place this challenge: watch and enjoy WrestleMania XXVIII with the same youthful eye you had when you first became acquainted with these characters. Enjoy their story and their skill.

~ “The Scholar” Jennifer Gabel ~

Rumblin’ RAW Review: 1-30-12 a.k.a. “BAH GAWD!!!”



I’m not sure how YOU felt about Sunday night’s Royal Rumble, but I knew well in advance that something was up when I became more interested in seeing the post-Rumble RAW than I was in watching the Silver Anniversary pay per view spectacle that featured the classic 30 man over-the-top-rope brawl.

And boy was I on the money…

Believe it or not, those thoughts made me more on the money than I usually am (for those of you that know my most notorious pseudonym, the pun was intended).

For example: my good friend DJ Rallo asked me to participate in a roundtable discussion prior to the Rumble for his site, The Sharp Shooter Press (shameless plug).  The very first question asked who we felt was the most likely person to win the Rumble.  Here, in brief, was my response…

The Royal Rumble is such a HUGE match that I typically never take guesses at who’s the odds on favorite to win, especially seeing as there’s a 1 out of 30 chance that I’ll be “right” and rarely do people ever like to be “wrong.”  However in this instance (seeing I was asked), I’ll say that I feel Sheamus has a good chance of being this year’s winner.

But of course that is vastly different from what I said about a week ago in my Talking Points piece about the importance of the Rumble:

Not only that, but this year’s rumble is taking place in Randy Orton’s hometown of St. Louis, MI.  Add to that the fact that he’s been out with an “injury,” and all signs seemingly point to [Orton] sliding in later in the match and pulling it off.

For the record, I called the Sheamus thing long ago and that makes me a winner.  Wanna fight about it?

All that speculative talk aside, Sheamus is indeed the 2012 Royal Rumble winner and will move forward to face the champion of his choosing at WrestleMania 28 in Miami, Florida.  More important is the fact that the Rumble is the beginning of the “Road to WrestleMania,”  and while the actual pay per view was mediocre or miss depending on who you’re talking to, last night’s RAW provided the surge of energy needed to make this annual road trip seem like a big effing deal.

Not only did last night’s RAW feature good in-ring wrestling, but also gave fans several reasons to hope and believe that this year’s “Grandaddy of them all” will be far better than that thing they did a year ago in Atlanta…

So as usual, here are the few points that I picked up on and felt were the most important things during the show:

  1. CM Punk + Daniel Bryan + Chris Jericho = Change of Shorts
  2. I CALLED THE UNDERTAKER THING…after I realized what was happening
  3. Triple H is the new…Hulk…Hogan…? ::confused face::
  4. Dear Kharma: Please Save Us. XOXO, Ash (smiley face)
  5. Did ANYONE see Epico get eliminated from the Rumble???

When it was announced at the top of the show that CM Punk would be facing Daniel Bryan in a Champion vs. Champion match, my Twitter time line exploded with fans having markgasms about the match; I’m not ashamed to admit I was in that group as well.

Most were worried that the match wouldn’t be given an adequate amount of time, and surprisingly enough it was.  Most complained that the match wasn’t the main event, but as indy wrestler Joey Image pointed out, the ever so important second hour of the show (which is just as important as the overrun, but more on that later) featured these two wrestlers going at it.

After that, the only thing some fans had to complain about was the fact that no one referenced the Code of Honor handshake before the match began; William H. Macy, can you guys puhleeeze grow up?

In any case, the bout when well over the average five to seven minute mark, but the ending is what really sold the story line.  Daniel Bryan gains the victory via DQ when Chris Jericho runs out, tosses him into the fan barricade, then proceeds to deliver the Codebreaker to CM Punk.  Methinks Mr. Quinn Gammon was right.

And we should’ve known this was coming from the start of the episode.  CM Punk literally said “Best In the World” at least one time every time he was in whispering distance of a microphone.  It’s so beautiful how all of this is starting to come together;  think about it:

  • CM Punk is the “Best In the World”;
  • The “It Begins” viral videos promised us that the “world” as we knew it was coming to an end.
  • Chris Jericho returns, will make sure as the “world” that CM Punk is the “best in” will come to an end…
  • 2 + 2 = 4

"Smells like Teen Spirit."

Keep in mind that Laurinaitis’ job is still on the fence, and we may see a new GM come into play sometime soon seeing as Triple H is attempting to not allow his personal business to interfere with his work.  Is it possible that the infamous “she” could be a returning Stephanie McMahon Helmsley?

Speaking of Triple H, his epic silent stare down with The Undertaker once again left us salivating at our television screens.  I wasn’t thrilled about the third installment of Trips and Taker, nor was I pleased with the thought of the possibility of Trips defeating Taker this year.

What made my night was the conversation I had with DiZ before Trips walked up the ramp, paused, and disappeared behind the curtain.  For the first time I can remember, The Undertaker was the aggressor in his usual WrestleMania match.

What I’m saying is that usually the WWE superstars come gunning after Taker in order to end the famous streak.  Last night, however, Taker entered the ring and issued the challenge to Triple H with his signature throat slash.  I’m very positive it has happened before, but can you remember the last time Taker challenged someone for WrestleMania?

From that perspective it was easy to see that Trips wasn’t going to accept Taker’s challenge.  The man just spent ten minutes explaining to Johnny Ace how the GM position corrupts good people because they allow personal vendettas to cloud their decision making abilities.  Why on earth would this new, reformed Triple H accept any kind of challenge given to him by Taker or any other wrestler in the company?

"I want YOU, Rocky Balboa!!!"

This puts a different spin on Taker’s classic match at WrestleMania.  As I put it to DiZ last night, it’s one thing to kick over an anthill and leave yourself vulnerable to ant bites; it’s a completely different thing to open kitchen cabinet to find ants swarming around an open box of Oreo cookies.

The Undertaker has spent most of the streak defending it, but for him to bring the streak to the table himself gives his opponent an advantage that superstars prior never had.  Trips took Taker to the limit last year, leaving the Deadman to be carried out by refs and medical assistants.  Taker this year has something to prove, the desire to show that he’s stronger than ever and that he’s willing to put the streak on the line to boot.

But pride always comes before the fall, and if Taker attacks Trips with that same fury and wrath, he could easily make one mistake in the heat of the moment, allowing Trips to capitalize and be the first (and perhaps ONLY) superstar to defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania.

Interestingly enough, the last time we saw Triple H was at December’s TLC pay per view.  You remember his match, the slow motion one against Kevin Nash?  I just found it interesting that after disappearing for a month he shows back up to one of the better show’s RAW has had in 2012 and 2011.  Even the promos for the show were slightly built around his return to RAW.

Seemed a bit Hogan-like to me, brother.  But again, maybe I’m analyzing it a little too deeply.  It is a little suspect, though; if Trips accepts the challenge, he’ll be the first man in history to face The Undertaker 3 times at WrestleMania, and he just may be the first and only man to beat him.  Hulk Hogan was/is notorious for pulling similar stunts for his own benefit, and Trips is one of the better backstage politicians in sports entertainment today.

I’m just saying…if it happens, you heard it here first from Mr. Ashley Morris.

The ten second Diva match between Beth Phoenix and Eve for the Divas Championship was atrocious even by Divas match standards.  Many of the folks in my Twitter time line expected Kharma to return to TV and tan Phoenix’s fanny.  Alas that didn’t happen and we were subject to another week of foolishness.

Call me a Diva Division Apologist, but I get why the WWE chooses to parade models around the ring instead of actual women wrestlers.  I get it, I understand it, and really don’t agree with it.  The thing that irks me is that these women can be used to do what they’re doing now in ways that aren’t as disrespectful as what we’re witnessing now.

My question is this: who in sweet cream on an ice cream sandwich is responsible for the Divas’ training and booking?  When Fit Finlay was doing it, this type of s**t wouldn’t go down; too bad they fired Finlay.

I read somewhere in passing (no link provided) that Kharma gave birth to her baby on December 31.  If this is true, congratulations to her and her growing family!  If she decides to return to pro wrestling, particularly to the WWE, I pray to the wrestling gods (JBL and Ric Flair) that they look favorably upon us and allow her to beat the holy heck back into this dying division.  For the love of Verne Gagne, Nick Bockwinkel, and all 17 iterations of the Four Horsemen, PLEAAAASSSEEEE stop the madness with the Divas!

Just in case JBL and Flair are busy at the moment, I would also like to propose this: if ANYBODY from the WWE is reading this post, how about you take the next picture and flash it on the wall whenever you’re booking a show and think about throwing some Divas action in there…

Self Explanatory

And finally, there were three of us (myself, Diz, and Pastah Showtime) that never saw Epico get eliminated from the Rumble.  1) How embarrassing is that for Epico, and 2) are we the only ones that didn’t see him get eliminated?

All in all, last night’s episode of RAW was well done and exciting from top to bottom.  Great way to start the Road to WrestleMania.

That’s it for me; what did YOU think of the show?

RAW Review: 1-16-12 a.k.a. “Heeerrreee’s Johnny!”

Last night’s episode of RAW was exhilarating for one reason and one reason only…

Johnny Ace finally grew a set.

Sure the show was filled with action-packed matches and intriguing backstage segments.  The night was made whole, however, with one patented, venom laced CM Punk pipe bomb that got one hell of a rise out of John Laurinaitis.

Here are four things of note that I felt made this episode worth a damn:

1. Dolph Ziggler’s Strong Promo Set the Show’s Tone
2. An All-American American is the NEW U.S. Champ
3. Cena’s Budding Bromance with Ryder Gets Creepy
3. Johnny Ace Get’s Mad, Still Lacks Believability

Note: The following images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. © 2012 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

"Excuse Me!" still gets more heat than the sun. © 2012 WWE, Inc.

The show opened with a strong segment featuring Mick Foley, who announced his intentions to compete in this year’s Royal Rumble.  Dolph Ziggler and Vickie Guerrero interrupted Foley and in typical heel fashion ran him and his wishes down like a government mule.

The entire back and forth allowed Ziggler to shine on his own, which honestly gave fans more of a reason to buy into him as a top heel.  His delivery was crisp, his intensity was spot on, and the man is hands down far more entertaining as a contender to CM Punk’s WWE Championship than Alberto Del Rio.

In a bit of foreshadowing, Punk made his presence felt and heard in an already entertaining segment, which prompted John “Mr. Personality” Laurinaitis to add his two cents to the pony.  Unfortunately for us, Johnny Ace couldn’t even make his “No!” to Foley’s Royal Rumble request sound intimidating.

Johnny Ace...the only man who can make "No!" sound plain. © 2012 WWE, Inc.

Next up, an injured Zack Ryder defended his U.S. Championship against Jack Swagger.  As anticipated, Swagger defeated Ryder to win the title after several gutwrench powerbombs put away the WWE’s favorite Long Island native (sorry Mrs. Foley).

It was about damn time the self-proclaimed All-American American had the U.S. Title wrapped around his waist.  It just makes sense.  I expect Swagger’s reign to be similar to Dolph Ziggler’s time as the U.S. Champion, in that he’ll hold the belt for an extended period of time and probably won’t defend it against too many credible challengers.  They may actually have to introduce a new star in order to make Swagger’s reign relevant.

On the other side of the coin, Ryder continues to enjoy main event prominence by being involved in Cena and Kane’s shenanigans.  Even though he’s currently a pawn in the grand scheme of things, which served as a segue into the next point…

John Cena makes his first appearance of the night by storming into John Laurinaitis’ office and demanding reparations for forcing his injured buddy to wrestle against Jack Swagger.  Laurinaitis offers a weak apology and essentially serves Swagger up to a very angry John Cena.

You wouldn't want to see him when he's angry...© 2012 WWE, Inc.

Long story short Cena brutalized Swagger even thought the match never officially started.  Kane shows up on the TitanTron and encourages Cena to “embrace the hate” conveniently right before Cena smashes Swagger’s head in with the steel ring steps.  Our plucky former champion stops to think of his actions before we move on to the next segment of the night.

Later on today (or sometime this week), DiZ will craft more about the saga surrounding Cena, Ryder, and Kane.  But in the meantime I will say that fans have started speculating on the “relationship” between Cena and Ryder.  As stated earlier, Ryder is only an accessory to the actual story between Kane and Cena.  Unfortunately Ryder also needs Cena to remain relevant, seeing as his entire rise to glory was due in part to Cena’s interference…

Which makes Cena more like Batman once you think about it…that blog will come later…

The main event of the evening gave us a six-man tag team match, where WWE champion CM Punk, World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, and World Class Jackass Chris Jericho faced the team of Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga, and Mark Henry.

Allow me to save you some trouble: Chris Jericho was finally tagged in and pandered to the crowd without touching his opponent, tagged Daniel Bryan in and left the arena.  Daniel Bryan was chased off by Mark Henry; Mick Foley came to the ring to help CM Punk, and they win the match.

The meat and potatoes was the post-match in-ring segment, where Punk let loose on Laurinaitis.  It wasn’t quite as vicious as the tirade he dropped last summer, but it was as effective and gave fans reason to believe that the best of this storyline has yet to come.

"YOU STINK!" © 2012 WWE, Inc.

It was during this segment where John Laurinaitis “snapped,” venting his frustrations to Mick Foley and decking the hardcore legend with a microphone before exiting the ring.

I’m sure most will agree that Laurinaitis’ performance last night was well done, but I can’t help but to nitpick here.

The whole Laurinaitis/Punk feud is simply the 2012 version of the McMahon/Austin storyline that ushered in the highly praised Attitude Era.  The difference in 2012 is that the WWE has no competition in which a “new era”/creative direction would be beneficial and necessary for the company and the business on the whole.

Today’s WWE fan also lacks the passion for the business to get behind a star like Punk at this moment.  As suggested by the recent slump in ratings, fans have slowly moved away from supporting Punk and back towards jumping/dumping on the Cena bandwagon.

But the most frustrating part of it all is the fact that Laurinaitis causes fans to yearn for the days when Vince McMahon was arguably the top heel in the company.  While watching Laurinaitis attempt to feign seething hatred last night, I found myself appreciating McMahon’s in-ring abilities more than I ever have before.  It amazed me to realize that McMahon held his own on the microphone and in the ring with some of wrestling’s greatest superstars.

Laurinaitis is simply incapable of doing that.  His facial expressions were terrible; his body language was laughable (would ANYONE keep their hands in their pockets when someone is going off on them?); you could look at the man and tell he was waiting for his scripted cue.

It’s the little things that make angles and segments that much better.  I was pleased to see him show some fire and intensity, but it was painful to watch him make faces during the segments as if he was suffering from explosive diarrhea.  That’s been the extent of his involvement with Punk so far: Punk owns him, he looks and sounds unfazed by even Punk’s sharpest barbs.

But in the end, his wooden performance did exactly what it was supposed to do; more drama is added to Punk’s match against Dolph Ziggler at the Royal Rumble, the ongoing battle between the establishment and Punk gets some fresh life, and hopefully Laurinaitis’ character won’t be much of a wuss anymore.

In conclusion the January 16th episode of RAW was better than usual, well above mediocre but still light years away from the 4.0 rating share shows the company use to produce.

Now…what did YOU think of the show?

“That Was Funkin’ Awesome!” – Brodus Clay Finally Debuts on 1-9-12 RAW

Advantage: WWE.

After weeks of professionally produced vignettes, unseen matches on WWE Superstars, and weeks of unexplained no-shows, Brodus Clay finally re-debuted on last night’s episode of RAW.  To say that fans were flabbergasted would be an understatement.

Fans were up in arms about Clay’s return to television.  After weeks of being painted as a monster heel (very similar to Mark Henry’s WHC gimmick), Clay showed up as “The Funkasaurus” from Planet Funk,  a mastodon donning a red Run DMC Adidas jumpsuit, flanked by two dancing vixens jamming to Ernest “The Cat” Miller’s theme music.

Of course Brodus Clay is subject to an unimaginable amount of attention today (which was the whole intended point, I would think), garnering the WWE accolades from fans with a healthy amount of hatred as well.

It seems that a section of fans believe that this creative direction for Clay is an epic fail on the part of the WWE.  These fans, who were promised yet another monster heel, were severely disappointed with The Funkasaurus.  To explain their disdain, these fans state that’s the gimmick is punishment for Clay’s premature tweet about former WWE Superstar John Morrison.

So once again we’ve left with a huge number of pouting fans, claiming that they’ll quit watching the WWE altogether because the company has once again ruined the career of what could’ve have been just another name on the roster.

Allow me to be the first second person here to offer a dissenting view on this particular perspective.  There are SEVERAL reasons why Clay’s ONE debut is more monumental than most are making it out to be:

FOUR Superstars Debuted Last Night…

Everyone was too busy caught up in Clay’s fanfare that very few people from what I saw took the time out to ask about the two dames dancing around Clay.

For those of you that actually are wondering, they were FCW Divas Cameron Lynn and Naomi Knight.  Cameron, if you all remember, was the first contestant kicked off of Steve Austin’s Tough Enough when she foolishly revealed to the world that she honestly didn’t know the difference between a hammerlock and hammertime (and they still hired her).

Naomi Knight was the runner up of the all-Diva Season 3 of NXT.  She probably should’ve won, but as we all know the runner’s up of the show typically do better than the actual winners (Brodus Clay…?).

Point being, you’ve got two new Divas floating around, one of whom can actually wrestle, and yet no one ranted or raved about that at all.  I will say that Shane H. over at Hit the (shameless plug) did mention the ladies as the second thing he noticed.

By the way, did ANYONE celebrate Curt Hawkins’ appearance on a major show?

Foolish Gimmicks Make Stars Stand Out

A lot of times we get frustrated because a promotion doesn’t give us what they advertised or what we were expecting.  In real life, that’s called unpredictability.  One would think after hearing fans complain incessantly that the WWE “is too predictable” that they’d embrace something that was completely off of their radar (i.e. Chris Jericho’s HORRIBLE return…), but alas that’s the hypocrisy that plagues wrestling critics.

The fact is whether we believe the WWE dropped the ball or Brodus is being punished for his Twitter-gaffe, the whole absurdity of the gimmick makes him stand out way more than a bunch of WWE stars who are languishing in mediocrity.

Don’t believe me?  Allow me to name you a list of lame ducks who folks rarely talk about and are floundering in the mediocrity of their current bland-as-plain-ice cream gimmicks: Ted DiBiase, Tyson Kidd, Jinder Mahal, Alberto Del Rio, Alex Riley, Curt Hawkins, Tyler Reks, Damien effing Sandow (more on him in a future post), Justin Gabriel, Alex Riley, Kaitlin, AJ Lee, Mike McGillicutty, David Otunga…do I have to keep going on?

With all that pomp and circumstance, and the year’s worth of red fabric they needed to make his outfit, Clay is now permanently etched into our brains; and you seriously expect anyone with two working brain cells to believe we’d rather have seen him in a 47 second squash match opposed two 4-5 minutes of foolish frivolity?

And for one second, let’s look at a few of the wrestler’s who made similar gimmicks work for what they were worth:

Flash Funk…

This picture looks familiar to me for some reason...

“Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry

Believe it or not, this was a HIGH point in his career.


I'll take Clay's dancers over Rikishi's any day of the week.

Akeem, “The African Dream”…

Go ahead...explain the transition from "One Man Gang" to this...

“The World’s Largest Love Machine” Viscera…

Again...HIGH point of a superstar's career...

And last but not least, The Godfather…

"It ain't easy..."

Clay Came Out to Ernest “The Cat” Miller’s Music

That alone sold me on the gimmick.

While Ernest Miller won’t be known for his wrestling acumen or his profound mic skills, he will forever go down as one of the unintentionally funniest pro wrestlers it has been my pleasure to be a fan of.

Miller, a legit martial artist from Atlanta, GA, made me laugh because the man just sounded and looked like one of my uncles.  Being a born-and-bred southerner from Birmingham, AL, I found Miller’s antics hilarious because I felt like in a weird way, I could relate to him (i.e. James Storm and TNA fans).

Miller had already enjoyed a fair amount of success in WCW by the time the WWE purchased it in 2001.  He didn’t spend too much time in the WWE, and his tenure there is very synonymous with his 2004 Royal Rumble entry:

As a matter of fact…add that video plus this video…

To get THIS…

Let me bring this extremely long analysis to a close.  There was nothing wrong with Clay’s return to television.  All in all, the gimmick is entertaining if we fans allow it to entertain us.  The proof in the pudding is whether Clay will be able to prove that he can bring more to the table by being more than a goof with two dancing Divas beside him.

In my humble opinion, we’ve become too cynical to sit back and enjoy the show for what it has offered us.  So I say to Brodus Clay…congratulations, you’ve got my attention.

And to be frightfully honest, his return did that in only a few minutes…something that RAW and even Jericho’s “return” haven’t been able to do in several weeks.

RAW Review: 1-2-12, a.k.a. “What the Hell Did I Just Watch?”

"I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-RT...I mean, S-M-A-R-T!!!"

Mr. Ashley Morris is a lot of things, but I never fancied myself as being the most intelligent biped frolicking on this huge rock we affectionately refer to as “the Earth.” Notice the uppercase “e?” See, not intelligent.

But as a fan of both pro wrestling and “sports entertainment,” I love to imagine being intelligent enough to know what it is I like and don’t like.

For example: I tend to not like story lines that are unnecessarily complicated or so incredibly intelligent that I’d need a Ph.D just to understand the intricacies of such (i.e. TNA’s year-long Immortal story line).  If that is truly the case, I’d rather get the Ph.D and at least have a piece of paper that proves how good I am at doing research to show for it.

When it comes to pro wrestling and “sports entertainment,” such exercises in brilliance are not all that warranted and/or necessary.  When a story becomes so GREAT and BRILLIANT and AWESOME that it eclipses the basic “good guy-bad guy” conflict that drives us to the product in the first place, then it’s just too much for feeble minded television viewers to comprehend.

And people wonder why MMA is kicking pro wrestling’s figurative fanny right now…

All that being said, it isn’t so difficult to understand why the first episode of RAW in 2012 left me feeling…numb; numb and expecting/demanding an explanation.

I won’t review the entire show, as Quinn Gammon’s KYR Challenge has taught me to pull out what was most important about the episode and go from there.  Unfortunately for you, the new year is upon us and I can now analyze the sh*t out of this and anything else wrestling related I watch.  Take that Quinn Gammon, you sadistic and maniacal overlord, you!!!

Last night’s episode of RAW was meant to do three (3) things in particular, which they successfully accomplished depending on how you look at it:

  1. Further Establish and Define Punk’s Reign as WWE Champion
  2. Add “Fuel” to the Development of Nega Cena
  3. Piss Fans Off to Keep Them Watching (i.e. Return of Chris “It Begins” Jericho)

The first two goals were accomplished with relative ease in ways that should keep us intrigued without causing too much rioting and defaming.   At the top of the second hour of the show, Dolph Ziggler defeated WWE Champion CM Punk by count-out after John Laurinautis stuck his uncharismatic business into the match.

I’ve been ranting among a few friends that I’m waiting for CM Punk’s championship reign to be defined.  We’re far removed from the “Voice of the Voiceless” Punk, which was promptly neutered last year when he spent all of one day outside of the WWE with the title after he said he was leaving the company with said title.

Since then, Punk’s reign (along with Daniel Bryan’s reign as World Heavyweight Champion) has been compared to that of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero’s.  Is that really what we expect of smaller wrestlers like Punk, Benoit, Guerrero, Bryan, Hart, Michaels, Mysterio, Savage, and anyone who doesn’t look like a variation of Hulk Hogan?

Seriously, it’s nifty and cute to have the small, underdog champion thing, but Punk clearly has way more talent than that to be relegated to such a stigma, especially seeing as most of his competitors (Miz, Ziggler, possibly Jericho) are about as physically impressive as he is.

What we’re seeing here is a new age version of the “Stone Cold” Steve Austin/Mr. McMahon story line from the Attitude Era (remember when people were screaming for a return to those days?), albeit with a little tweaking.  I see Punk as more of a guy that is raging against the “system,” which has presented itself as a boring and stifling authority (Johnny Ace) that hides behind a complex system of incredibly ludicrous laws (Otunga) in order to exert control over a particular aspect of our lives (pro wrestling).  Add to that eclectic mix a puppet contender who is impressive in his own right (Ziggler) and you get a story line that almost mimics the 2012 Race to the White House…I digress.

Clearly the forces opposing Punk have more depth than the Punk character itself, and last night’s match and aftermath created a situation that placed Punk’s back against the wall.  An animal is at it’s fiercest when it’s back is against a wall; let’s see just how plucky our WWE Champion is.

Earlier today, DiZ wrote an incredible piece about the development of John Cena’s character; I suggest you check it out and add commentary to stir the conversation pot a little bit.

I won’t add my own thoughts as not to usurp the brilliance of DiZ’s piece, but I will say that watching the whole drama unfold was pretty funny to watch.  I’ll let the following pictures speak for themselves…and the added commentary will serve as instigation for those talking points:

Note: The following images, likenesses, slogans, wrestling moves, trademarks, logos and copyrights are the exclusive property of WWE, Inc. and its subsidiaries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. © 2011 WWE, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

"That's yo' ASS, Ryder!" © 2011 WWE, Inc.

Kane applies a modified Mandible Claw on are stars just totally against coming up with original manuevers today or what? © 2011 WWE, Inc.

Despite all you may have heard, last night's RAW was pretty hot...pun intended. © 2011 WWE, Inc.

What will Cena and the Ryder Wonder do to stop the evil machinations of Kane? Tune in next week, same Broski time...same Broski channel! © 2011 WWE, Inc.

In all seriousness, I must note that it is pretty cool for Ryder to be included in all of these main event shenanigans with John Cena…because outside of this they pretty much have nothing else for him.

The final thing RAW accomplished last night is what brings me some level of consternation.  The force behind the mysterious “It Begins” videos was revealed to be Chris Jericho.

With naysayers and supporters alike, Jericho came out to the ring and proceeded to pander to the crowd for what seemed like an eternity (I read somewhere that it was more like 20 minutes) without saying anything on the mic.  After awhile once fans started growing wearing of his crowd-pumping up antics, he retreated to the stage amidst boos and disappeared behind the “curtain.”

This goes back to what I mentioned earlier; a lot of the Wile E. Coyote, “super genius” wrestling analysts and pundits praised this creative development for the Jericho character.  A lot of people in my Twitter timeline last night noted that Jericho is the ONLY star in recent times that was able to turn from face to heel in 5 minutes without saying a single word.

What a jerk.

That notion is further supported by the idea that Jericho has stated somewhere that he prefers to be a heel.  Fans further justified their high intelligence quotient scores by noting that Jericho has always been better as a heel.

It’s easy to be a heel when you’re an actual douche in real life…but again, I digress.

But I can understand and accept that; in Jericho’s WWE produced DVD, the superstar spends a few moments explaining the evolution of his character.  Each time Jericho has appeared in the WWE, he hasn’t appeared as the same old schmuck he was before he left.  That’s good, that’s great; that is in fact what the WWE needs today…actual characters!

But, and this is a HUGE pause to consider, you should not evolve the character to a point where it confuses the fan base.

Let’s go back for a second to the TNA “Immortal” story line that I mentioned earlier.  The Orlando based promotion literally spent from January 4, 2010 until early 2011 to build up to the creation of Hulk Hogan’s Immortal stable.  They even produced an entire episode of TNA ReAction to explain the year long story line!

Pardon my French, but it’s damn ridiculous when you have to have an entire show dedicated to explaining a story line.  That’s just too damn much, especially for wrestling fans that barely remember what happened three weeks ago.

This Jericho debut to me did the exact same thing: its build up kept fans intrigued even though most folks already knew Jericho was returning to the company.  But after all that build up just to have Jericho show up and give the fans one big F-U…that’s garnering the dangerous, Michael Cole go-away heat that I feel the company can’t afford to stock up on right now.

Again, I understand what was happening and even why it was happening. I guarantee you fans (self included) will tune in Friday or next week for an explanation, and more than likely we’ll get more of this mess we put up with last night.

Just because I understand it all doesn’t mean or imply that I agree with it.  I think I side with most fans who perceived his return as a swift kick to the yam bag…but wait, there’s more…

Most pundits have also conveniently breezed past the “she” that was mentioned constantly in the “It Begins” videos.  Quinn Gammon has an excellent theory on this, which I’ll let him explain in a later post.  THAT development, in my opinion, will explain and make up for Jericho’s return last night; however that is still yet to be seen and is pure speculation on our part here at the L.E.W.D. headquarters.

So there you have it; it is Mr. Morris’ unprofessional opinion that last night show left most more puzzled than anything ever before.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it damn sure means that the 1-9-12 RAW better come with the thunder lest the WWE Universe find better time to spend their Monday nights.

Seeing as I prefer to be intrigued-confused rather than perplexed-confused, I have to say that last night’s RAW let me down.  It wasn’t a bad show, but it didn’t please me as a fan.


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