Ushering in a new era: WWE’s game-changing week

What a week it’s been for the ‘WWE Universe’. It’s been an emotional seven days, with ups and downs all round. However, despite all the momentous events, the take-away message for this week has been difficult for some fans, and promising for others; the WWE seem to be transitioning into the newest era of its professional wrestling existence.

WrestleMania XXX

Many of you may disagree here, but this was one of the best WrestleManias to date (just beaten by WrestleMania XVII). It had all the ingredients for a successful show, but most importantly, it also signified the slow but sure ending of previous eras that we’ve all clung onto.

The opening

The show kicked-off with Hulk Hogan, introducing the show and welcoming everyone to the Silverdome (ha). He was only to be screen-shot-2014-04-06-at-6-34-01-pminterrupted by ‘Mr Attitude Era’ himself, Stone Cold Steve Austin. After some classic Austin talk, out came The Rock! It was an awesome segment, and long-time WWE fans have waited for years to see ‘The Rattlesnake’ and ‘The Brahma Bull’ in the same ring at the same time. We only got to see a glimpse of this at WrestleMania XXVII. It was probably the best WrestleMania opening we’ve seen to date, and quite frankly, it’s uncertain as to whether we’ll ever get another opening as epic as this one. Can you imagine any bigger legends of the industry opening the show in that fashion? It’s hard to imagine how the WWE would top this in future ‘Manias (unless they lazily brought the same three back in future years to come), and this opening was just one of the reasons to suggest WWE’s closing of one era and opening into another.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

20140406_WM30_LIGHT_HP_CesarAndreCup1Many people predicted The Big Show to win this match, as it was only right for a legendary giant to be the first man to win such an accolade. However, while it did make sense to have The Big Show come out on top, WWE prioritised their future here, and gave Cesaro the nod to pick up the win. Having the ‘King of Swing’ be the first man to win this prestigious award should now persuade the people who weren’t already convinced that Cesaro is a fully-fledged competitor of the future. This is another indication of WWE shifting its way into a new era, as often relying on stars from the past to carry the company forward is definitely the incorrect move.

The Streak…is over…

What a shocker this was. The reaction from the live crowd (and probably everyone watching around the world) was immense. The end to this match was like Marmite, you either loved it or you hated it (I personally loved the chaos and buzz it caused). However, no matter what anyone’s opinion of this outcome is, it can’t be denied that this result is a major indication of the WWE’s era transition. We now have no ‘Streak’ to look forward to, and whether this be Taker’s last match or not, every future WrestleMania will never be the same again. Hey, maybe they’ll start a ‘Streak’ with someone else? Highly doubtful, but you never know. ‘The Deadman’s’ spot on the ‘Mania card will probably now be taken by a current/future star, once again highlighting the point of the WWE prioritising its future. Oh yeah, and Brock Lesnar was the guy who won, by the way.10150695_1424505227806276_7106890449998293072_n

The ‘YES’ movement flourishes…

An obvious indication of the future rising here; Daniel Bryan not only beat Triple H, but then went onto defeat Randy Orton AND Batista in the same night to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. WWE’s hottest acquisition beat three future Hall of Famers in one night, and to top it all off, he did it on the grandest stage of them all. If evolution ever came to an end, it would be now.WrestleMania-Daniel-Bryan

The Hounds claw their way forward

Not much to be said here. The result of The Shield vs The New Age Outlaws and Kane was another obvious indication of the WWE promoting its current echelon of stars so that the company can continue to gracefully exist in its new era.

But…what about The Wyatt Family?

Bray Wyatt’s loss to John Cena should not be looked upon as a contradiction this theory. Firstly, it would’ve been too soon for Bray to win against WWE’s poster boy. Secondly, The Wyatts have been given a huge push already, and there’s no doubt that by next year’s ‘Mania, they’ll be even bigger than they are now. Last of all, John Cena may not be a ‘new guy’, but he’s certainly far from done. He’ll be like the Taker of the next generation – a living legend that up and coming Superstars will strive to beat to get themselves noticed. The Wyatts will most-definitly be part of the future. All in good time.

RAW after ‘Mania

paigeWithout going into too much detail here, it’s safe to say that this RAW really made it clear that the future of the WWE is near, and that a new era is beginning. Alexander Rusev made his long-awaited in-ring RAW debut, and annoying Adam Rose and corny Bo Dallas vignettes were scattered throughout the show. The biggest story of the show, however, was twenty-one-year-old NXT Diva, Paige, who interrupted AJ Lee and nabbed the Diva’s Championship off of her. While many can agree that she shouldn’t have won the gold just yet, you can be sure that WWE has its future in sight. Let’s not forget about Cesaro becoming a ‘Paul Heyman guy’ as well, joining the likes of CM Punk and his 434-day title-reign, and Brock Lesnar’s defeating of ‘The Streak’. Before you say it, let’s leave Curtis Axel out of this one, shall we?

The late great Ultimate Warrior also said his final words in the public-eye, which mentioned the current-future WWE locker room: “In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well.” Don’t be surprised if next year’s WrestleMania contains less matches with legends and more with the current roster.

To conclude, many of this week’s events in the WWE have indicated a potential shifting of era. Stars of the past have ended their reigns, current stars are further securing their spots, and new stars are gradually making their way-in and stealing the show. It seems as if we’re currently experiencing the transition into a new era. It certainly has been a game-changing week for the WWE, and is definitely an exciting time to be a fan.

May I also take this opportunity to wish Warrior’s (James Hellwig’s) family and friends all the very best. Rest in peace Ultimate Warrior, we appreciate what you have done for this business. tafkagadotcom-rip-ultimate-warrior

Do you agree? Can you sense the transition? Let’s hear your thoughts below!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

Keeping ‘The Show-Off’ off the show: Dolph Ziggler’s zig-zagging career…

Dolph Ziggler is a talented and accomplished WWE Superstar, there’s no doubt about it. From his days as Kerwin White’s (Chavo Guerrero’s) sidekick and being a member of the Spirit Squad, all the way to his ‘perfection’ era and present day, Ziggler has proven his worth with five-star performances no matter what role he’s been delegated. He can sell like no other, and possesses a superior athletic ability. For years, most WWE fans have recognised this, only to watch his run of success become short-lived time and time again. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why his career encounters frequent fluctuations, and this article will try to identify the reasons as to why ‘The Show Off’ isn’t where he should be (excluding injuries).

Promos 

Dolph Ziggler’s YouTube show: ‘WWE Download’

Anyone who’s followed Ziggler’s career closely has realised that he can cut a good promo or two. Dolph Ziggler used to steal the show on WWE’s YouTube channel, as we got to see his true character on a weekly basis. He was arrogant, brash, cocky, witty, and funny. He was a heel that most loved to watch. It’s just too bad that this persona wasn’t exhibited as much on RAW or SmackDown. Even to this day, Ziggler cuts great promos outside the ring, whether this be via backstage segments or interviews with sports journalists. However, when given the opportunity to cut a promo on television – which is rare – he just doesn’t bring his all. The promos are quite generic, and no way near as passionate, clever, or witty as they are elsewhere. It’s a big shame really, but hopefully WWE will allow him more mic time for him to really show the world what he’s got up his sleeve.

Consistency of moves

Dolph Ziggler’s head-standing headlock is hardly seen anymore

Wrestling fans always look forward to the performing Superstars’ signature/finishing moves. Take The Rock’s ‘People’s Elbow’ for instance. When Rock set his opponent up for this move, the fans went crazy. The camera would pan-out, and it would be obvious what was coming next. With Ziggler, it’s a different story. Sure, the ‘Zig-Zag’ (his finishing move) is like every finishing move. It can come out of nowhere and finish the opponent off. That’s cool. However, Ziggler possesses other moves that fans love to watch, but encounter infrequently. Take the flurry of ten elbow-drops. Ziggler displays an awesome level of athleticism and energy as he bounces back up from every elbow-drop delivered. He also finishes the move with one last mega elbow-drop. Now this move has all the makings to be a signature move, but it is so inconsistently performed. Sometimes, Ziggler will do it right in the beginning of the match, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the end, and sometimes, not at all! It’s not consistent, and doesn’t make sense at times. You would never see Cesaro’s ‘Cesaro Swing’ right in the beginning of a match.

And what about Dolph’s head-standing headlock? This move was an awesome display of athleticism, balance, and cockiness. Why has he stopped doing it? One thing is for sure, performing these moves on a more consistent and frequent basis will help Ziggler develop an arsenal of moves that fans can instantly recognise and engage with, further securing Ziggler’s rise to main-event status.

Merch 

These tees look great on Ziggler, but would you wear them in public?

One way to describe Dolph’s WWE merchandise is, “different”. His t-shirts are cool somewhat, yes, but one of his t-shirts describes the problem at hand in one line: ‘You Wish You Could Pull This Off’. Exactly. Ziggler’s blasts of pink and turquoise gear make it hard for ‘Dolphins’ (Ziggler fans) to wear. These unorthodox and vivid colours only appeal to a certain demographic, resulting in a poor turnover for his products. Heck, as a huge Ziggler fan, I just about bought one of his t-shirts as it was the black version of the ‘It’s Not Showing Off If You Back It Up’ tee. If black wasn’t available, my WWE t-shirt collection would be Ziggler-less. 

How does this affect his push to stardom, you ask? WWE are known to push and stick with Superstars who sell a lot of merchandise, it’s plain and simple. It’s one of the many reasons as to why John Cena and CM Punk are/were consistently in top-flight positions in the company. Cena sells merchandise by crazy amounts – why do you think WWE release a t-shirt for him every other month? It’s hard to blame them, as business wise, it makes a lot of sense. In the great words of Triple H, “it’s best for business”.

Size

There is no doubt that Vince McMahon likes big guys (perceive that how you want to). In an era where performance-enhancing drugs are strictly prohibited, extracting wrestlers with Ultimate Warrior-esque bodies is one tough job. One can only get so big naturally, and this makes it harder for wrestlers to stand-out. While Ziggler has a very impressive physique, he is belittled in size and mass by the majority of the WWE locker room, making his climb to success even rockier.

We shouldn’t overlook the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, two mega-stars in the WWE with less than average physiques. You may be thinking, if they can do it, why can’t Ziggler? Well let’s not forget, Daniel Bryan’s whole gimmick is based on the small underdog who shouldn’t be where he is, and the fans love it. He’s the complete opposite of what WWE usually look for, and this works well for Bryan. Of course, let’s not say his amazing in-ring ability hasn’t got him to where he is as well. As for CM Punk, well, he was just absolutely incredible on the mic, and brought an aura of realness with him. Fans could relate to what he was saying, and be entertained at the same time. And, like Bryan, his superior in-ring work topped this all off. He didn’t seem to be concerned with his aesthetics, and handled all his business on the mic and in the ring. It showed in his persona, and it worked. With ‘The Show-Off’, it’s a different story.

RAW_1012_Photo_071

Dolph is bigger than the average male, but dwarfed by most of the WWE roster.

Who knows, maybe this factor is irrelevant in today’s industry, but it’s definitely plausible as even Ziggler himself has claimed that he’s constantly been told “you’re too small”. Hey, do you think Roman Reigns would be as over as he is if he was the size of someone like Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins? Do you think Big E Langston would be the Intercontinental Champion if he was 50lbs lighter?

The factors mentioned above are both in Ziggler’s and the WWE’s control. However, this last factor is something WWE needs to do to help push Ziggler all the way.

Feuds

Any pro wrestling fan knows that a key ingredient to building a Superstar is a good feud. The Rock wouldn’t have been where he was without his legendary rivalries with DX, Triple H, and most notably, Stone Cold Steve Austin. Hell, he was pushed even further when feuding with Hulk Hogan and the nWo. Most recently, he feuded with John Cena and CM Punk, which helped further solidify their statuses as WWE legends. Cena is now feuding with Bray Wyatt, which, in turn, will help push Bray’s career massively. It’s an ongoing cycle, and it works.

We thought we were getting something similar when Ziggler feuded with Cena last year – only to be disheartened once again. The story between the two fizzled away fairly quickly. Prior to this, Ziggler also had a temporary rivalry with Chris Jericho. Although Ziggler ‘terminated’ Y2J’s career and then eliminated him in the Royal Rumble upon his return, it was again short-lived. Had WWE built this feud up even more, it could’ve been something special.

Currently, Ziggler is on a slight winning streak, but is in pointless feuds with the likes of Damien Sandow and Alberto Del Rio. The buildup for these feuds have been poor, leading to a lack of real motivation as to why fans should tune-in to these feuds and want Ziggler to triumph over his opposition. We should thank our lucky stars for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WMXXX, for if it wasn’t for this, poor Dolph would’ve ended up competing in a meaningless singles match in a meaningless rivalry. Some ‘WrestleMania moment’, right? At least this Battle Royal will allow Dolph to show what he’s got under a bigger spotlight.

If Dolph Ziggler can tackle at least some of these issues, he would have a better chance at securing his spot in top-flight competition. It’s then up to the WWE to put him in an intense and engaging rivalry, and if this is done right, we could finally have our next, long-awaited, main event player.

What do you think? Do you agree that these factors are contributing to Ziggler’s fluctuating career? Have your say in the comment section below!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

WrestleMania XXX Predictions…

As we are all aware, WrestleMania is less than a month away, so here are my predictions for WMXXX. Some predictions are more of ludicrous than others, but as a fan, I want to get these ideas out there just in case they do happen! Bear in mind that these predictions are based on the assumption that CM Punk will not be present at WrestleMania. Agree? Disagree? Comment below and share!

John Cena vs Bray Wyatt

While not officially booked, this match is to be expected. With the input of Eric Rowan and Luke Harper, Bray Wyatt would pick up the win against John Cena. This boosts the career of Bray Wyatt, while at the same time doesn’t make Cena – who’s already injured – seem weak as he wasn’t beaten cleanly. This seems like a logical finish if WWE wish to promote the growth of their future roster without the expense of hindering their current stars.

Triple H vs Daniel Bryan

Although this match has also not been confirmed, it’s more than likely that it’ll take place. The remaining RAWs leading up to WMXXX could lead to the creation of this match in the following way:

As we know, ‘The Game’ is against the idea of going one-on-one with Daniel Bryan at WMXXX. However, last week’s RAW depicted Triple H as an angry C.O.O who needed to release his frustration on one ‘Goat-face’. With enough persistence, Bryan would convince HHH to accept his challenge on ‘the grandest stage of them all’ – but only providing Hunter’s condition that if Bryan were to lose, he’d be fired. Bryan would ponder over this, and so Triple H (over-confident that he’d beat Bryan and therefore get the chance to fire him) would issue Bryan a spot in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match – a match that needed saving to begin with – if he beat him.

With this in mind Bryan would go on to defeat Triple H at WMXXX with his finishing manoeuvre, the now known ‘Solid Knee Plus’, ironic to the fact that HHH always refers to Bryan as a “solid B-plus player”. He would then proceed to challenge ‘The Viper’ and ‘The Animal’ in the night’s main event.

The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar

If you haven’t read the ‘A WrestleMania idea…’ article, click here before continuing.

Although this was more of a cool idea, this is now my prediction. Do I expect too much from the WWE? Maybe. But if it happened, the Superdome’s roof would blow-off! 

Randy Orton vs Batista…vs Daniel Bryan! 

Daniel Bryan would be on the cusp of winning the match, only to have Kane be sent down by a vengeful Triple H to cost Bryan the chance to win the gold. With Bryan focusing all his attention on the fast-approaching Kane, Batista slowly gets to his feet (let’s assume Orton is ruled out from this final segment due to being Batista Bombed through an announce table or something).

All of a sudden, Hulk Hogan’s music hits, and out he comes. The fans go wild, and Kane turns around in shock and heads towards him. Hogan tackles Kane to the floor and prevents the interruption. Meanwhile, Batista turns Bryan around and hoists him into the air for the Batista Bomb. Bryan wriggles his way out of Batista’s grip and sets up for the “Yes!” Lock. Hogan, along with the thousands upon thousands of screaming fans look-on as Batista hovers his hand above the mat, tempting to tap. After a tense minute, Batista finally taps with Orton being a fingertip away from breaking the hold. Orton collapses to his feet knowing that he was too slow, and the crowd erupt. The Bryan fans finally get to see what they want, gold around the waist of their hero!

Other expected/rumoured matches…

  • Dean Ambrose vs Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins (Although this would clash with my Taker vs Brock prediction) (Reigns wins) UPDATE: (see below)
  • Cesaro vs Jack Swagger (Cesaro wins) UPDATE: Both will be in the Battle Royal (see below)
  • Dolph Ziggler vs Alberto Del Rio (Ziggler wins) UPDATE: Both will be in the Battle Royal (see below)
  • Sheamus vs Christian (I predict a ‘No Holds Barred’ type of match) (Sheamus wins) UPDATE: Both will be in the Battle Royal (see below)
  • The Usos vs The New Age Outlaws (possibly two other tag-teams in some sort of tag-team elimination match) (The Usos win) UPDATE: The New Age Outlaws and Kane are now clashing with The Shield. (The Shield win)
  • UPDATE: The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (The Big Show wins)
  • UPDATE: 14 Divas match for the Diva’s Championship (Tamina wins)

I’ll add more to this article when more information/matches are confirmed, so stay tuned! Once again, list your predictions/opinions in the comment section below! 

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

Five stars, five years: WWE’s potential future headliners…

This article takes a look at five current WWE Superstars who have the potential to be headliners in the next five years (in no particular order). Agree? Disagree? Have alternatives? Comment below!

Adrian Neville

Newly-crowned NXT Champion Adrian Neville  (formerly known as Pac) has a very promising future. His impressive high-flying style has captivated many, earning him the nickname ‘The Man That Gravity Forgot’. He has one of those finishers that everyone in the audience looks forward to – the ‘Red Arrow’ (a corkscrew shooting star press) – whether you’re with him or against him.

Neville’s height and accent would be his only two potential hinderances. While Wade Barrett is proving otherwise, not many non-Americans get much promo time – a major ingredient needed to concoct a certified top-flight competitor. Additionally, being 5’10 doesn’t exactly do any Superstar wonders – even Dolph Ziggler (being 6’0) claims that he still gets told “he isn’t tall enough”. On the contrary, Dean Malenko, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Daniel Bryan are a few names who have proven that overcoming this hurdle is possible. With all this in mind, Adrian Neville’s RAW/SmackDown debut is something worth looking forward to. To learn more about this up and coming star, view his WWE profile here. He’s definitely one to look out for!

Antonio Cesaro

An obvious choice for most, Cesaro has proven his worth on a weekly basis for an extensive period of time. The Swiss destroyer has constantly displayed feats of strength, hoisting the largest of Superstars up into the air. Let’s not forget him swinging The Great Khali. With creative offensive moves executed to perfection, Cesaro is always exciting to watch in the ring. Physically, he’s a dominant specimen, and arguably the strongest pound-for-pound Superstar that the WWE locker room has to offer.

Cesaro’s only potential downfall lies in his mic skills. However, for someone whose first language isn’t English, his promos aren’t half bad. With a bit of work, as well as dropping the yodelling gimmick for good, Cesaro has all the tools to become one of the industry’s all-time greats. Who believes in him? WE, THE PEOPLE.

Bray Wyatt

If you’ve read the article on The Undertaker’s streak, you’ll understand why the leader of The Wyatts has made this list. Bray Wyatt offers something we haven’t seen in a while – a different gimmick that actually works. Not only that, but he is both an exceptional physical performer and talker. He’s a heel that makes you genuinely fear for the opposing face, with or without his hillbilly counterparts.

If WWE played their cards right, ‘The Eater of Worlds’ could leave a legacy as one of the greatest heels of all-time. There’s hardly much that’s holding him back, unless the WWE suppress him because of his physique – which would be pathetic in this day and age.

Dean Ambrose

Although he’s been slightly overshadowed by Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose still has what it takes to make it into the top-flight division. He’s an exceptional talker, and also possesses an unorthodox wrestling/brawling style that he smoothly integrates into every match he’s involved in. This inimitable flare has often dubbed him as the ‘Joker’ of the WWE.

So far we’ve only known him as a heel, but Ambrose seems to have what it takes to be a witty baby-face –  something of a blur between Chris Jericho and CM Punk. As much as a large portion of WWE fans hate the thought of The Shield breaking up, Ambrose’s inevitably successful singles career is something positive that can be extracted from this.

Roman Reigns

With a great physique, Samoan heritage, and wrestling in his blood, Roman Reigns has everything going for him.While arguably not the most talented member of The Shield, Reigns fits the mould that WWE often look for. He’s exciting to watch, and offers one of the best Spears we’ve seen in a long time. The biggest fear is the rate of how WWE are pushing him – he’s even eased his way in taking over as ‘leader’ of The Shield. WWE need to slow Reigns’ push down a little, for the fear of becoming stale too quickly.

Like Cesaro, though we haven’t had the chance to hear Reigns talk often, he hasn’t displayed anything exceptional on the mic when we have done. We’ve only heard his pre-spear/triple-powerbomb roar – which is already catching on extremely well. Improving his promo skills will be his last piece to his near-complete puzzle, and doing this could make the next generation that Roman truly reigns (pun intended).

Honourable Mentions

  • Daniel Bryan – An obvious choice, one of the best in-ring workers we’ve seen in the last decade or so. His ultra baby-face gimmick could start to grow stale, but this shouldn’t be an issue for him after overcoming everything he has done in the past.
  • Dolph Ziggler – Even though he’s been in the business for an extensive period of time, ‘The Show-Off’ still has time to make it into the major league, providing WWE open their eyes for a change.
  • Seth Rollins – This one is more of a personal preference, although the way that the WWE machine has worked over the last decade makes it almost inevitable that he’ll end up as an upper mid-carder. Hopefully this isn’t the case. Seth Rollins is arguably the most talented member of The Shield, and definitely the most underrated.
  • Titus O’Neil – Great size, strength, and promo skills. Big Titus is highly entertaining and can act as both a fearsome and comedic heel, as well as face. The dog bark is always a bonus too.

What do you think? Do you see anyone else upholding WWE’s future? Once again, comment below and share!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

The possible avenues of ending The Undertaker’s ‘Streak’…

DISCLAIMER: Before reading, please note that when discussing ending ‘The Streak’, this article does not necessarily mean that The Undertaker should be defeated, but simply that he will end his professional wrestling career by competing in a WrestleMania match against the specified opponent – win or lose.

In this era of the WWE, there are three major prizes that top-flight WWE Superstars strive to achieve. Unfortunately, these do not include the Intercontinental Championship or the Tag-Team Championships, though, they should (see ‘Mid-carder for life?‘). If you haven’t guessed already, two of the three grand achievements are the ‘Money in the Bank’ contract, and of course, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

But the ultimate prize – that seems to be marketed in this light anyway – is defeating ‘The Streak’, a record that ‘The Undertaker’ has possessed for over twenty years. There is nothing quite like it, and many see it as a more superior accolade than obtaining the WWE/World Heavyweight Championships a hundred times. For years, many pro wrestling fans have debated back and forth how and when ‘The Streak’ should end. The following are some potential ideas that could leave fans delighted, somewhat satisfied, or absolutely disgusted at how a living legend could end his outstanding professional wrestling career.

Sting

If you read the ‘A WrestleMania idea…‘ article, you may have already got the feeling that this match has the ingredients to become something of a spectacle. You have two, dark-natured, legendary Superstars going head-to-head that fans have only been able to envisage via video games and discussion. Even WWE.com featured this ‘dream match’ in one of their articles! Should Sting beat ‘The Streak’? Definitely not. But a match of this magnitude may leave most fans feeling satisfied – or at least content – that this is the last time they’ll see ‘The Deadman’ in any physical competition.

John Cena

Before you roll your eyes and skip this section (or even close the page for that matter), take a moment to think why WWE would do this. John Cena, love him or hate him, is WWE’s top dog. As a performing WWE Superstar, it is certain that Cena would love nothing more than to go one-on-one with ‘The Demon of Death Valley’. Of course, it would be ludicrous to have Cena ‘go over’, but having Taker’s last WrestleMania bout against ‘the man’ of this era makes sense somewhat.

Kane

While it’s extremely obvious as to why ‘The Devil’s Favourite Demon’ should not defeat ‘The Streak’, this match would be extremely emotional, both for the fans and ‘The Brothers of Destruction’ themselves. Kane and The Undertaker have a huge history, a legacy if you will, and to see Taker’s career climax with a match against Kane would be absolutely epic. Of course, Kane would have to lose his corporate gimmick and regain some buildup as ‘The Big Red Machine’, with a bad-ass-looking mask and all.

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin

Although this match seems somewhat irrelevant, Taker has an an incredible history with Austin, as with Kane. WWE could market it as ‘the match that ends it all’, where ‘The Rattlesnake’ claims that he returned for one final match – to end ‘The Streak’. It’s a goal that no Superstar has achieved, and who better to challenge it than the man who revolutionised the industry in the late 90s. Again, it wouldn’t make sense for ‘The Toughest S.O.B’ to end such a prestigous reign.

Other potential last opponents in the hat include Daniel Bryan and The Rock.

So now what?

So far, every potential route for climaxing Taker’s streak has made sense for him to retain it. But what if Taker were to lose his final match at WrestleMania? Sure, some fans would be outraged, but if done right, it could be a key factor in greatly sustaining the future of the company. WWE need to stop relying on legends or top-end stars to keep fans pleased, and instead focus on the growth of their future talent. To give them credit, they have started to implement this well, via the likes of Cesaro and The Shield (Ziggler should have made that sentence). But without losing focus, who, if anyone, should defeat ‘The Streak’?

Bray Wyatt

Hold your horses on this one. Let the explanation begin. Bray Wyatt has been on mainstream television for just under a year now (excluding ‘Husky Harris’), and has left a trail of awesomeness in his path. In this current era, it’s very difficult to implement a gimmick such as that of The Undertaker’s. Fans still accept Taker’s supernatural gimmick as it was a part of their childhood growing up watching pro wrestling. But any new stars that try to implement any sort of different gimmick other than their own name are seen as ‘corny’ and ‘fake’. Ryback and Fandango are to name a few (or simply because fans think they suck). However, Bray Wyatt has done just that, and extremely well for that matter.

WWE have countless avenues to build this match up. They could have Bray Wyatt out mind-game Taker, something which nobody has successfully done. People would think that he’s truly met his match.  Eerie vignettes, pyrotechnics,  coffins, and more could be used by ‘The Eater of Worlds’ to shake-up ‘The Deadman’ during the weeks leading to WrestleMania. Having Bray going over Taker would be a ‘passing of the torch’, and would catapult his career into an almost legendary status. By doing this, WWE have a new supernatural character to ride with, which helps with the overall sustainability of their current and future talent. He could even get a streak going of his own.

If the Wyatt’s leader isn’t the guy to do it, WWE should invest in somebody relatively new – and who they’ll stick with – to end ‘The Streak’. This would make sense as WWE are running out of ways to legitimately build new stars. It should be noted, however, that ‘The Streak’ should not solely be used as a mere tool to boost a rising star’s career. WWE need to be confident that who they’re choosing to do this has both star and lasting power and that their longevity in the business is somewhat guaranteed.

No matter what happens to The Undertaker’s celebrated streak, we’ll always remember ‘The Deadman’ as the holder of the most coveted prize in WWE history. There is nothing quite like it, and frankly there never will be, even if somebody does imitate it. As for Brock Lesnar this year, rest in peace, my friend.

How do you see ‘The Streak’ ending (whether it’s a win or a loss)? Better yet, how do you want it to come to end? Leave your thoughts below!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

WWE condensed: The good, the bad, and the ugly…

An overview of the WWE’s current state. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment and share!

The breakup of the ‘Prime Time Players’…

The good:

  • Titus O’Neil has finally been given the chance to spread his wings and show how great of a singles competitor he can be. He’s charismatic, a powerhouse in the ring, and has a great physique. He also makes for a great heel.

The bad:

  • Not that the WWE were doing much with it, but the breakup of PTP further weakens WWE’s current Tag-Team division.
  • Darren Young is talented, but it is uncertain whether he can go it alone. Without big Titus by his side, he’s going to have to do everything on his own, even fend for himself when he fails at a cheap pop by getting the city’s name wrong.

The ugly:

  • Darren Young’s face when he doesn’t appear on live television as often as he’d like to. Will he end up being another JTG?

Keeping ‘The Show-Off’ off the show…

The good:

  • Nothing. Maybe avoiding concussions, but that’s harsh…

The bad:

  • Dolph Ziggler is an exceptional talent. He’s athletic, a great seller, and can cut
    above-average promos. He’s collecting dust in the locker room and is being under-utilised. He’s here to show he world, but when the hell will WWE give him a push that lasts longer than a month?
  • Having Ziggler off live television allows for extremely pointless and boring matches to take place, consisting of the likes of Fandango, Santino Marella, and Zack Ryder. In a lengthy three-hour show, this is a recipe for disaster.

The ugly:

  • Just like the ‘YES!’ chants, the ‘WE WANT ZIGGLER’ chants are starting to creep into other segments, which can be viewed as disrespectful to the Superstars currently performing.

Swinging for the fences…

The good:

  • With incredible feats of strength, Antonio Cesaro has been one of the most exciting Superstars over the past couple of months.
  • He’s one of few Superstars who have broken the mould of using his foreign origin as a gimmick. Not only that, but he’s done the complete opposite – joined the ‘Real Americans’!

The bad:

  • Poor Jack Swagger can only watch in envy as Cesaro continues to shine. There have been hints of the ‘Real Americans’ splitting up, and this could not only spell a downfall for Swagger’s career, but for the Tag-Team division also.

The ugly:

  • If Cesaro branches out on his own, it would be a shame to leave Zeb Colter in his tracks. Zeb is a phenomenal talker, capable of drawing a lot of ‘heat’ while being entertaining at the same time.

#BNB…

The good:

  • After John Cena, this segment seems to be WWE’s predominant Marmite – you either love it or you hate it. Either way, it’s doing its job, being entertaining and/or drawing heat for one Wade Barrett.
  • Regardless of Barrett’s reasons for not being in the ring, the #BNB segment is at least keeping him somewhat relevant.

The bad:

  • Barrett needs to be in the ring. He is a top performer, and actually presents a threat to his opposition. He is worthy enough to form a believable rivalry with a number of top-flight baby-faces. Of course, it is unclear as to whether he is healthy enough to compete or not.

The ugly:

  • His husky voice when he utters the words “WELL I’M AFRAID I’VE GOT SOME BAD NEWS…”, although this just adds to the beauty of the segment.

Sierra, Hotel, Indigo, Echo, Lima, Delta…REIGNS.

The good:

  • We are getting an insight into the depths of each member’s character.
  • They are being pushed, and in the right way.
  • They are putting on incredible matches on an almost weekly basis.

The bad:

  • While Roman Reigns seems like the man of the moment, he is being pushed far too much. We’re forgetting who the real ‘leader’ of the group is, and small things such as having Reigns stand in the middle of The Shield when confronting The Wyatt Family can get frustrating.
  • Seth Rollins – arguably the best performer within the group – is being overshadowed by Reigns and Ambrose’s ongoing rivalry.
  • With the ongoing story-line of The Shield cooperating as an incohesive unit, the United States Championship belt is becoming even more irrelevant around the waist of Dean Ambrose.

The ugly:

  • It’s been suggested that Reigns could become the next face of the company in the future. This could be done well, providing WWE do not brand him as the next heir to Cena’s Superman throne, which can be seen being done already.

The ‘best’ takes his ball and goes home…

The good:

  • CM Punk will get his well-deserved rest.
  • His departure will allow for more Superstars to fill top-spots in story-lines and matches.

The bad:

  • His selfish act has impacted other Superstars such as Sheamus, who was set to have a match with Daniel Bryan at this year’s WrestleMania XXX. Bryan is now set to square off against ‘The Game’ Triple H, leaving Sheamus in a rather pointless match with ‘Captain Charisma’, Christian. Hey, at least Christian’s getting one more match.
  • Fans are distorting segments with ‘CM PUNK’ chants, being ignorant to the pure fact that Punk himself cost these paying fans the chance to see him. It’s not WWE who got rid of him, remember that.

The ugly:

  • The crowd’s reaction if and when CM Punk returns. They may go crazy, or they may be hostile and boo him rotten.

The ‘YES!’ movement…

The good:

  • His rise to stardom is guaranteeing a quality match every show. He’s put the ‘W’ back in WWE – we’re seeing actual WRESTLING!
  • The fans’ interruptive ‘YES!’ chants have simmered down during other segments because they’re getting what they want.
  • The typical mould for a main event player has been broken – Daniel Bryan has proven that the system can be beat.

The bad:

  • Not everyone loves Daniel Bryan. It feels as if WWE have succumbed to the pressure of making him close every show.
  • While Daniel Bryan is one of the all-time greats as an in-ring technician, his character is actually quite stale. His push has obviously led to more promos, which can get boring and bland.
  • The ‘YES!’ chant is an easy and fun chant, which encourage fans who don’t necessarily love Daniel Bryan to join in and jump on the bandwagon.

The ugly:

  • His beard.

Top-end players…

The good:

  • Cena’s out of the title-run, and has a one-on-one match with Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania – which is a huge boost for the Wyatt leader’s already flourishing career.
  • Undertaker and Lesnar go head-to-head at WrestleMania, a match that should prove to be exciting to those who think otherwise.

The bad:

  • Every WWE fan is wondering when ‘The Deadman’s’ last WrestleMania will be, and if it’s this one, many will be disappointed that he didn’t go out against a someone more fitting.
  • The ‘eater of souls’, Bray Wyatt is in the limelight against John Cena at ‘Mania. It’s a shame that Eric Rowan and Luke Harper don’t have more of a role, although they’ll probably play some part in the match one way or another.

The ugly:

  • Orton and Batista’s WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at ‘Mania spells trouble. ‘The Viper’ is undeniably a gifted performer, but his character has grown stale and nobody cares for him anymore. Along comes big Dave in his shining armour, only to be boo’d out of every arena. WWE have now turned ‘The Animal’ from face to heel, which should allow him to absorb the jeers more gracefully. However, we now have a heel vs heel title match, and the only cheers generated from this match will come from the joyous feeling of each combatant being torn apart. WWE cannot simply close WrestleMania XXX with a match of these characteristics. Then again, it’s wrong to close the show with a match that isn’t for the grand prize on the grandest stage of them all. Unless they turn Orton face and hope for the best…

Some extra points…

  • ‘The Usos’ need to keep doing what they’re doing. It’s a shame we’ve already seen them vs. ‘The New Age Outlaws’, a match that could have been a spectacle at WrestleMania XXX for the WWE Tag-Team Championships.
  • Despite his match interruptions and  backstage yelling, The Miz still hasn’t been relevant on television at the slightest. It’s still hard to believe that he headlined WrestleMania XXVII against John Cena and retained the title.
  • It’s quite frustrating to see ‘The Brotherhood’ – Cody Rhodes and Goldust – on pre-shows and not even competing for gold anymore. They were on fire just a couple of months ago, and should be well within the mix of the hunt for the Tag-Team Championship belts.
  • The Diva’s division needs some help, and fast. AJ Lee needs to drop another pipe-bomb!

To conclude…

Overall, it is clear that WWE have a bit of work to do leading up to WrestleMania XXX. Whilst they’ve got some things right, they need to spend the remaining weeks tidying up their story-lines and prioritising their talent accordingly.

Once again, whether you agree or disagree on some if not all of these views, leave a comment, share, and follow if you haven’t already done so!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended. 

Mid-carder for life?

Cody Rhodes & Kofi Kingston - will they ever be given a push?It’s tough to define the term ‘mid-carder’ in the modern world of professional wrestling. Historically, mid-carders are second-tier performers who wrestle in the middle of programmes, usually competing for the secondary title of the company. Mid-carders often tend to eventually secure a spot in the top-flight division, and end up creating a legacy of their own that cements itself in the history of the business.

Take The Rock and Chris Jericho for example. Both were destined for glory when entering the WWE (WWF at the time), as Rock was a third-generation wrestler and Y2J came into the organisation as an already-established star from the WCW. Both went on to become Intercontinental Champion – the ultimate prize for mid-carders – which then sky-rocketed their careers into the top tier, leading to them both becoming WWE Champions. But as the years of the industry’s existence have increased, so too have the number of ‘smart marks’ (wrestling fans who are aware of how the industry works and what occurs behind the scenes), meaning the term ‘mid-carder’ is being seen in a whole new light.

As previously stated, mid-carders were seen as promising Superstars who would one day climb the ladder to greatness and belong in the upper-echelon of the current roster. Nowadays, it’s a completely different story. Mid-carders are simply seen as ‘gap-fillers’, and are even used to ‘job’ to a current upper-tier Superstar just to promote them further for their upcoming match in the next pay-per-view. The athletic and talented Kofi Kingston, and third-generation Superstar Cody Rhodes, are just a couple of examples. However, their lack of success can be attributed to a number of factors.

The decline of the World Heavyweight Championship would be an ideal place to start. This prestigious belt (once the title of titles of the WCW) has been held by some of the greatest competitors to have ever stepped foot in the squared circle. Possessors of this title include Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, The Undertaker, The Rock, and many more established names that have graced the business. When the WWE acquired WCW, the belt’s degree of reputation and importance was gracefully maintained, if not heightened. Deserved names were given the belt, and so there were two ultimate prized possessions that the roster would strive to achieve.

Dolph Ziggler becomes World Heavyweight Champion after cashing-in his 'Money in the Bank' briefcase.

Dolph Ziggler cashes-in for the gold – but is he quite ‘the man’?

However, as the years have rolled on, the belt’s relevancy has decreased, and so the second-tier – the main habitat for mid-carders – has also become the nesting ground for Superstars competing for the World Heavyweight Championship. This has made current mid-carder wrestlers even more unlikely to excel, meaning that any progression of one day becoming ‘the man’ is at best limited. The belt’s aura has also diminished, as it is carelessly thrown around from Superstar to Superstar. In the past, title reigns lasted for quite some time, which made the belt appear to be a worthy prize to possess and so too made the holder of the belt the current alpha-male.

Speaking of belts being thrown on Superstars, the ‘Money in the Bank’ briefcase should not be a forgotten factor. With the exception of Edge, most wrestlers who have won the WWE/World Heavyweight Championship by ‘cashing-in’ haven’t exactly had an awe-inspiring or memorable reign as champion. Think about Dolph Ziggler’s first reign, as well as the title runs of Jack Swagger, Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, and most recently, Alberto Del Rio. These rising stars were given the ball to run with, but they never quite made it to the finish line at the time. They all held the belt, but were they ever branded and marketed as top-flight competitors?

Currently, Ziggler holds the belt for the second time in his career, whilst jobbing to anyone he encounters on an almost weekly basis. Is this an indication that despite what belt is thrown on a deserved Superstar belonging to this echelon, they’ll never quite make it to John Cena’s or CM Punk’s level? Do new and future Superstars have to acquire traits or do something at the extreme end of the scale – such as possessing Ryback’s pure size or cutting a highly controversial promo like CM Punk – just to fit into the main-event mould, despite already being exceptionally talented both in the ring and on the microphone?

Another factor to consider would be the demise of tag-teams and the removal of the Hardcore division. Like the Intercontinental division, the Tag-Team and Hardcore divisions showcased matches that people were equally as excited for as the main event. These matches produced some memorable and creative content to say the least, such as the TLC match at WrestleMania 17. But what’s important here is not just the content of the matches, but the Superstars that these matches produced. Edge and Jeff Hardy, both one-half of established tag-teams, were participants of the match just mentioned, whom went on to lead successful careers as single competitors, acquiring both the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships. It could be said that the decline/removal of these divisions mean there are less opportunities for mid-carders to showcase what they have to perform in the upper-tier.

Past and present hierarchical title/division structure

Has the difference in title/division structure impacted the output of flourishing stars?

Let’s face it, the Tag-Team Championships have lost their relevancy, and no-one really cares as to who the next tag-team champions will be. The lack of pure tag-teams have lead to an influx of mid-carders floating around and ending up in pointless tag-teams, such as Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow. This heightens the chances of mid-carders such as these forever remaining in this category of wrestlers. On the subject of today’s meaningless titles, let’s not even dare delve into the subject of the United States Championship, a title that really doesn’t do the holder any justice in establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Take Antonio Cesaro in this instance. What has his reign as US Champion really done for him? He’s a great all-round competitor in the ring, but it seems as though he has been stuck in square one – he never went back to it from a heightened position. Let’s hope current US Champion Dean Ambrose can restore some dignity and prestige to the title belt (which, by the way, he defeated Kofi Kingston for).

All in all, it is clear to see that the landscape of the WWE today has dramatically changed in structure compared to the early 2000s and beyond, which has both directly and indirectly affected the outlook of mid-card wrestlers. WWE have many options to help stabilise the mid-card group, which would lead to the term ‘mid-card’ being perceived as a positive place to be once again. The options include making the Tag-Team division relevant yet again (which would, in-turn, lead to a further influx of noticeable mid-carders who are worthy for a push in the upper-echelon), pushing the Superstar who holds the World Heavyweight Championship as much as the holder of the WWE Championship – letting pure mid-carders shine in the second-tier again – and just generally giving mid-card performers more opportunities to be pushed (both with and without title belts), rather than focusing all storyline attention on the higher cluster of Superstars.

Do you agree with these views? Have your say by commenting below!

Please note that these images are each owned by their respective owners, I do not own any of them. No copyright infringement is intended.