Are old-timers cramping WWE’s style?

While a portion of both the performing talent and fans alike thoroughly welcome the return of WWE’s megastars that helped pave the way for the company’s current crop, others greatly frown upon the idea. In recent history, WWE have managed to majorly cash-in on returning big-name Superstars, such as The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and Batista. It’s a great idea, at first, but these returns also spell trouble for WWE’s current and future states.

Let’s first look at a good-use example of this strategy. In veteran Chris Jericho’s Jericho-Wyatt-SSrecent return, he feuded with Bray Wyatt. While it didn’t produce the greatest rivalry or series of segments of all time, it certainly did one thing; and that’s help solidify the ‘Eater of Worlds’’ status as a serious competitor who’s here to stay. From this example alone, it can be said that having returning veterans to help ‘pass the torch’ onto WWE’s current and future roster is a smart move, as it sets these stars up for glory and success in the future – but that’s if they actually do this and not bury these up-and-comers like they have done so many times in the past.

Put it this way; WrestleMania is an event that attracts even the most casual fans. More often than not, I’ve watched WrestleManias with casual fans who are only tuning-in due to a megastar like The Rock or The Undertaker being present on the card. For the remainder of the event, the growing mutters of “Who the hell is he?” or “Back in the day we had (so-and-so)” certainly frustrated me. Such audiences lack the desire to keep up with WWE and hence, lack the knowledge for new talents and recognising what they bring to the table. They’re only familiar with the stars who really made a name for themselves, and why’s that? Aside from these fans being into the product at the time, it’s also largely because the stars that have become household names were marketed and booked correctly in the first place.

Therefore, wouldn’t the logical strategy be to book competitors of the current/future WWE roster go over these returning legends, just like how Bray did with Y2J? These casual fans would then take notice of these stars, and perhaps feel encouraged to watch the show more often due to this ‘newbie’ defeating one of their old-time favourites. In addition to majorly pushing a rising star (and so raising his/her awareness to an extended audience), WWE would receive further benefits as they’d still receive higher ratings due to the megastar being present on the show, as well as the current/future roster still getting TV time due to being involved with the legend in the segment. It’s essentially killing two birds with one stone.

The Rock lays both the verbal and physical smack-down on Rusev.

Let’s now look into a bad-use (and much more recent) example. The Rock made a huge and unexpected return on Monday Night RAW (10th October – Brooklyn), except this time it wasn’t in a main event segment. He actually interrupted Rusev and Lana, who had called out The Big Show initially. This was brilliant, as it came to an enormous surprise for everyone watching around the world. The live Brooklyn crowd nearly blew the roof off the place! The Rock electrified as per usual, dropping his epic one-liners as only ‘The Great One’ could. What disappointed me though was having The Rock triumph in that segment. As you may or may not know, I’m a pretty avid Rock fan, but even I admit that the segment would have been that much more complete if Rusev had the last laugh. WWE would have achieved that level of star-power through The Rock, as well as having one of their rising talent make a huge statement. Maybe they could’ve had Lana distract The Rock during his and Rusev’s brawl, with Rusev then cheap-shotting him, leaving him helpless on the mat – similar to how The Shield did so last year. The Rock wouldn’t lose any star-power, and Rusev would benefit greatly – achieving the best of both worlds. The only downfall is that the live crowd wouldn’t have been sent home happy, but it’s all about longevity and sustaining the future right? On the other hand, it could be said that sticking to this rule of having the youngster go over would make the show a lot more predictable than it already is, leading to a stale and uninteresting product.

Batista wins the 2014 Royal Rumble, emphasising WWE’s reliance and priority on yesteryear talent.

I’m sure there are plenty more examples, but after this week’s RAW, it got me thinking of how WWE utilise their legends with their current stars. Let’s not even get into Batista’s win at this year’s Royal Rumble (I think I voiced my opinion in one of my earlier articles anyway). To be fair, they quickly rectified this by having The Shield go over Evolution. However, in most cases, it’s almost as if that WWE’s current roster isn’t their priority. It’s no wonder that the likes of CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler air their complaints, some more discrete than others. It’s even worse when WWE pair-off two legends to go one on one against each other in a pay-per-view, which shows that WWE still heavily rely on these ex-stars to generate viewing numbers. The sooner WWE start focusing more on their current and future stars, the sooner they won’t need the Steve Austins and Bret Harts of the company’s yesteryear to attract a wider audience. It’s a brave step, but is sure to solidify and sustain the longevity of their talent.

Do you agree that the WWE should try to adhere to the goal of ensuring that their current talent benefit in some way, shape, or form if they decide to bring back a legend/veteran/megastar, or do you think booking these old-timers in a way that appeals to the wider audience should be the priority? Comment below, and please 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. 

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Championship Chumps

In one of my first articles, I created a diagram of the title structure in that time (May 2013), compared to that of a decade ago. Forward on a year or so, and this hierarchical diagram is still very much relevant and appropriate. Nowadays, WWE’s product is severely diminished due to the way championships are distributed and champions are portrayed. Back in the day, a championship belt made the man – which was a perfect ingredient to add to a concocted formula of creating a top-flight star. Today however, due to the degradation of title belts (being overshadowed and thrown on anyone), the trend of a man making a title belt relevant is starting to occur.

Let’s revisit CM Punk’s 434-day title reign last year. This was brilliant, as having the belt change so rarely revived its prestigious aura. It generated more anticipation as to who would hold it next, and it also boosted Punk and his career in more ways than one. This was a prime example of having the championship belt make the man – or making the man greater than he initially was. Aside from that instance, it’s difficult to think of an example of where this has happened in more recent times. In this current feud with John Cena and Brock Lesnar, it’s almost as if their rivalry is overshadowing the grand prize. This match would do just fine without the title at stake, but with it involved, it’s becoming an afterthought – especially after Cena got his a** so drastically handed to him at SummerSlam. A title belt should always be the primary factor that makes a match exciting, and should not be overshadowed by the combatants or story itself. It’s hard to think that this could ever be the case these days, and that’s because WWE’s portrayal of championship belts have made them irrelevant, which shouldn’t have happened in the first place!

It’s not just the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that’s been affected either – it’s safe to say that all of WWE’s belts have diminished in prestige and value. WWE could do several things to make their championship belts become more relevant to solve problems like the one above:

  • Join the Intercontinental and United States Championships. Yes, this’ll probably cause an uproar to life-long fans due to each belt’s prestigious history, but it would help create that one secondary title WWE have so desperately needed. The US Title alone does nothing for its wearer, so joining it with the IC Title – which has also lost its worthy reputation – seems like the logical move. Merging the WWE and World Heavyweight Championship belts was a step in the right direction, as we now have one ultimate champion and there is no longer a dispute over who the real champion is. However, as mentioned above, there is still more work to be done to make this belt the grand prize it once was.
  • Make the jointed IC/US champion have an actual goal of becoming the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and pursue it. This shouldn’t be a title that collects dust around the waist of the holder, but more a stepping stone towards the next big goal – just like how it once was. The Rock and Chris Jericho are two examples of many who have won the IC Championship and gone on to win the ‘big one’. Look at the recent holders of this championship belt now. Kofi Kingston, Bad News Barrett, The Miz, Curtis Axel, and Big E Langston are to name a few. Excluding BNB due to his unfortunate injuries, what have the rest achieved since their IC Championship reigns? Let’s hope Dolph Ziggler’s history repeats itself, allowing his current reign as champion to lead onto bigger things for his career. Doing this would also make the WWE World Heavyweight Championship seem that much more of a worthy possession, and so this would lead to more stars involving themselves in title-related story-lines.
  • Stop showing title matches in pre shows and less-than-mid-card matches! This seriously degrades the value of the title at stake, let alone match itself. How can we feel any respect for a championship/champion if they’re competing in matches that don’t even make any slots on live television? It’s like WWE are telling us where their priorities lie, having story-line-driven matches take up live slots over title matches.
  • Edge & Christian, The Hardys, and The Dudley Boyz had one of WWE’s most heated rivalries over the tag-team titles.

    Make each division more about the belt. The tag-team division is a very confusing one. Yes, you have your tag-team champions, but then you have teams consisting of two random Superstars put together competing for it. Tag-team title defences don’t come too often either, and should happen on a more frequent basis and be the focal point of tag-team rivalries. Establishing more concrete tag-teams would also make a difference, making the belts seem more of a serious prize that the roster strives to acquire. Hopefully the newly-crowned champions Goldust and Stardust can be the ignition of this process. Much of the same could be said with the Diva’s division, although AJ Lee and Paige are greatly aiding its resurrection.

  • Back in the day, if a championship belt was involved, it was the ignition of a feud or rivalry. As mentioned earlier, the belt nowadays is thrown in as some sort of ‘bonus prize’, with it being overshadowed by the rivalry itself. WWE should ensure that story-lines involving complex plots, ‘edgy’ content, and extremely personal rivalries should exist outside title matches. This would allow for exciting title-less matches to occur, increasing the strength of the overall show/pay-per-view. You’re probably thinking, “Won’t we just be left with boring and meaningless title matches?” If WWE played their cards right, they could still generate intense rivalries that are all about the title belt, without making it so personal that it overshadows the treasure at hand.
  • Create a couple of other divisions so that all Superstars have a goal to strive for. At the moment, WWE have a lot of talent that are championship material, but are floating about aimlessly and are wasted on pointless story-lines or over-ambitious title matches that everyone knows they’re not going to win. If divisions such as the Hardcore and Cruiserweight divisions made a return, we’d have more Superstars with an achievable goal in hand, giving championship belts on the whole more recognition and value. It would also lead to some extremely entertaining segments – who didn’t like the 24/7 Hardcore Championship rule back in the day?!

    The Hardcore Championship could change hands anywhere at anytime.

  • The final (and most obvious) suggestion would be to have titles belts change less frequently. As explained earlier, having title changes occur so rarely would increase the belts’ value as a prized possession, making the WWE Universe become more anticipated as to who will hold each title next. It also does wonders for providing a boost in momentum for a built-up star.

These are just a handful of thoughts and ideas of how WWE could regain their titles’ prestigious value back. With these values restored, WWE can achieve the perfect combination of story-line and championship-driven content, ensuring that every match in a weekly show or PPV has some relevant meaning. This would lead to more interesting matches, keeping everyone watching more engaged.

What are your thoughts? Are you happy with the way things are going right now, or do you agree that WWE title belts have lost their aura due to their de-prioritisation? Let us know in the comment section, and please 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. 

HLR: Hustle. Loyalty. Reigns.

Whether you like him or not, there’s no question that Roman Reigns’ current position and bright future as a top-flight singles competitor was inevitable from his early days with The Shield. He has it all – a powerful physique, good looks, wrestling in his blood, and a unique and marketable look. However, as the weeks of being an individual have strolled by, more and more cracks are starting to show in the ‘Juggernaut’, leading to some fans slowly turning against him.

John Cena’s evolution from rap thug to corny hero.

John Cena, WWE’s most polarising – not controversial (I hate when Cole and King say that) – star never used to be in this love-hate relationship with the WWE Universe. After his ‘Prototype’ gimmick, Cena quickly became a fan favourite as the ‘Dr of Thuganomics’, and this bad-ass rap persona was quite a stark contrast to the Cena we’re used to seeing today. He was still a poor wrestler, but had much more diversity and was increasingly experimental with the manoeuvres he performed. If this didn’t win fans over, his unique and entertaining character certainly did. WWE saw this and pushed Cena further, all the way up to the point where fans started to boo him due to his constant dominance. Cena gradually evolved into WWE’s poster boy, and so followed suit with a squeaky-clean Captain America-like persona. He kissed babies, posed for photographs, and did everything that was required of a gold-standard WWE mascot. He was dubbed as the modern Hulk Hogan. However, Cena brought in the dough via merchandise sales from children, and this has been a prime factor as to why he has been kept in this position despite his in-ring work becoming lazy, unimaginative, and repetitive. The rest is history.

As for Roman Reigns, his fans are beginning to worry that he’ll suffer the same fate. Like Cena, Reigns’ official WWE beginning started with a bad-ass gimmick – being a ‘hound’ in The Shield. We got to see glimpses of his ability, and these glimpses worked perfectly as we weren’t spoiled with too much. Being part of a faction allowed Roman to shine where he best could, leaving the rest to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. We were always left wanting more of all three individuals, both on the mic and in the ring. It was perfect. Forward to the fourth quarter of The Shield’s reign (no pun intended), it was clear who WWE were going with as their next breakout star. Reigns became the centre of attention of the ‘Hounds of Justice’, but we still had Ambrose and Rollins to keep his push from going stale.

Reigns’ ‘Superman Punch’ is becoming overused and overpowered.

It was only right for The Shield to split ways after their rivalry with Evolution. Many were waiting for this moment, and it couldn’t have come at a more idyllic time. The WWE Universe were anxious to see how each individual would cope as a singles competitor, and were soon enlightened. It was evident that Ambrose and Rollins could hold their own as singles stars, due to their confidence on the mic and excellent in-ring work. As for Reigns, it’s a two-sided story. Some would argue that Reigns is better than ever, whereas others would say that he can’t hack it on his own. He’s definitely improved on the mic – you can see his confidence growing week by week. However, the content of his promos are quite unimaginative and boring in general. His in-ring ability is where fans are starting to draw comparisons with John Cena. Reigns is dominant in the ring but, like Cena, abuses four to five moves. He’s being pushed exactly how Cena was – coming out on top on nearly every occasion, and having bursts of ‘overpowered’ signature moves. I believe his look and heritage are the only factors that’s keeping him likeable by some of the more critical fans. Cena and Reigns’ cross of paths in recent times has really made these comparisons clear.

Initially, many thought that Reigns would be the ‘Batman’ of the superhero metaphor that is WWE’s poster boys. However, it’s becoming evermore apparent that Reigns and Cena are more alike than one would think. Their recent exchanges and segments have led fans to draw comparisons of Captain America meeting Superman. Reigns’ opportunity to be the dark knight is rapidly diminishing. If he continues down this route of being over-pushed and overpowered, he’ll lose his cool as the anti-hero fans so desperately wanted, and instead end up as another corny protagonist. All Roman needs now is a brightly coloured t-shirt and a cringe-worthy catchphrase.

It would be a shame if Roman Reigns ends up as a second-fiddle John Cena. Although he has much to learn and improve on, he undoubtedly has a lot going for him. Given Daniel Bryan’s absence, WWE need a face that the majority of fans genuinely give a damn about. If WWE manages to keep Reigns appetising enough to satisfy the Universe’s constant hunger for something refreshing, he could fill the anti-hero spot that CM Punk left collecting dust, and potentially more. It’s all ifs and buts, however this is certainly a growing issue that is becoming progressively prominent as the weeks roll on.

Reigns2

Do you agree? Is Reigns becoming stale, or are critics being too harsh too soon? Voice your opinion below, and don’t forget to 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. 

Kane: WWE’s most undervalued Superstar?

Kane has been a hot topic in today’s WWE, but not for the greatest of reasons. Once a ruthless, fearless, and fearsome competitor, Kane has been on the receiving end of the WWE Universe’s constant stick. But why? Let’s delve hell-deep into the career of ‘The Big Red Machine’.

Kane debuts and monstrously rips off the door of the cell to approach his brother.

Glenn Jacobs made his debut as Kane in the WWE in 1997 (he had portrayed several other gimmicks before). His arrival was foretold by Paul Bearer, who warned The Undertaker that his half-brother was coming to challenge him. Bearer was right, as Kane interrupted the very first ‘Hell in a Cell’ match to date, involving the ‘Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels, and Taker himself at the ‘Badd Blood: In Your House’ pay-per-view. Kane cost The Undertaker the match by delivering a Tombstone Piledriver to him, sending shock-waves throughout the live audience and those watching around the world.

A new look, the first of many to come.

At this point, Kane had everything going for him. He was a huge physical specimen, and had an incredible back-story, as revealed by Paul Bearer and The Undertaker in the weeks prior to the pay-per-view. What’s more, Kane eliminated one of the WWE’s most dominating competitors, and truly let his actions speak louder than any words could. In fact, for much of Kane’s early career, he was a mute – voiceless. To top it all off, Kane’s attire consisted of one of the most legendary wrestling costumes to date. He wore a red and black outfit that covered most of his body, had long, streaky hair, and wore a mask that concealed his face. To top this monstrous look off, he had a white contact lens in one eye, truly making him look like a menacing freak of nature. This complied with Kane’s back-story, as this attire was worn to cover his scars from the fire of his burnt-down home, as well as his identity. So yes, Kane was voiceless, AND faceless. This added to Kane’s mysterious persona – nobody knew what he looked like or was thinking. How many wrestlers, both voiceless and faceless, can you think of who have made such an impact in pro wrestling? Year by year, his attire continued to evolve, from removing one full sleeve to reveal a beast of an arm, to inverting his colours, making him look slick as well as deadly.

Kane continued to assert his dominance and relevance by continuing to feud with The Undertaker, and helped create some of WWE’s most memorable moments. These include putting The Undertaker into a casket and setting it on fire, as well as the epic Inferno match between the two. ‘The Big Red Machine’ quickly made his way to the top-tier, and even defeated Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Championship at the ‘King of the Ring’ pay-per-view in 1998 (although he lost it back to him the next night on RAW). However, his success wasn’t short-lived, as he and Mankind formed a partnership and won the Tag-Team Championships twice.

Kane finally speaks, just about…

It wasn’t long before we got to hear Kane speak, well, kind of. After teaming with X-Pac and even acquiring Tori as his girlfriend, Kane used an electrolarynx to aid him with his speech. In fact, his first spoken words on WWE television were “suck it”, a catchphrase made famous by D-Generation X. Kane evolved further, and started speaking unassisted. It could be argued that this took a lot away from Kane’s mysterious and dark nature, however, it finally gave us more depth into the character of WWE’s monster. It also made for some entertaining and comedic moments, as Kane would often surprise the locker-room as well as the audience (see here). Even if Kane’s character was slightly uplifted, his dominance and destruction in the ring continued. He became the record-holder of the Royal Rumble by eliminating a total of 11 men, only to be runner-up as he was then eliminated by Stone Cold Steve Austin. His record has only just been beaten by Roman Reigns, who eliminated 12 men at this year’s Royal Rumble.

A few years later, Kane’s inner-demon became evermore apparent. Kane fought a match against Triple H where the stipulation had him remove his mask if he lost. Thanks to the Evolution members, Kane lost the match and removed his mask for the first time on WWE television. It was a moment that every wrestling fan was waiting for for years. It disappointed some, but like him talking for the first time, allowed a lot more room for his character to expand and evolve. His unmasking caused him to become emotionally unstable, and he displayed these acts by attacking Jim Ross in an interview, and even set him on fire. He then went one step further and attacked Linda McMahon that same night.

After his unmasking, Kane was involved in several story-lines, some involving championships and some not. His most notable story-lines of this era was versing a returning Undertaker at WrestleMania XX (whom Kane helped Vince McMahon bury previously at Survivor Series), and impregnating Lita. However, Kane would not win another title until 2005 where he and The Big Show acquired the World Tag Team Championships. This was soon lost, and Kane began to lose several matches after this reign. Before Kane’s relevance and fear-factor could be distinguished, his next most relevant story-line helped rekindle his dark side. It was about the date May 19th, where Kane heard voices about this eerie day on a weekly basis. It was soon revealed that this was the day that Kane’s mother and adopted family were killed in a fire. The man behind the voice was an imposter Kane, which the real Kane eventually disposed of.

Kane continued his WWE career by losing more matches, and eventually got drafted to SmackDown where he reunited with The Undertaker, reforming The Brothers of Destruction. Kane’s dominance seemed to have been reignited, and his next most significant career highlight came at WrestleMania XXIV, where he won a battle royal to earn a chance to win the ECW Championship against Chavo Guerrero, which he did. As predicted, this reign did not last long.

Forward several years, and Kane did not see much luck for a while. He was involved in pointless, sporadic matches, and did not succeed in many championship or Money in the Bank ventures. However, he eventually became the World Heavyweight Champion after finally winning a Money in the Bank ladder match (this was his fourth participation) and cashing-in the contract on Rey Mysterio that same night. Kane held onto the title for a while, and successfully defended it against Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker on several occasions and stipulations. At long last, we got to see how Kane should have been booked – dominant, and actually winning and holding onto championships. It was a good era for wrestling fans who knew how under-utilised Kane was. Eventually, Kane lost the title to Edge, but his first healthy reign as champion was long overdue, and we were happy we received it.

Several years down the line, Kane again became lost in pointless match-ups and story-lines that did not effectively deem him the monster he was for so many years. Kane needed to be revived, and this came in late 2011 where Kane returned from an injury, wearing a mask as he previously did for the majority of his wrestling career. The mask was different, but still gave him a menacing look he lost for so many years. He also wore a metallic mask which was inspired by a post-mortem human body after an autopsy, giving the fans the idea that Kane was truly resurrected. Unfortunately, this was short-lived, as even though Kane performed some disastrous acts – such as severely attacking Zack Ryder – he ultimately lost in both his main feuds with John Cena and Randy Orton.

Kane…beat-boxing…

What took place in the later months was either loved or hated by the WWE Universe. Following his defeat to Daniel Bryan at SummerSlam, Kane and Bryan were enrolled into anger management classes. While some of the segments were considered quite entertaining, Kane’s devilish days were well and truly over. The pair were a comedic duo, and even took part in events such as a ‘Hug it Out’ match. However, Kane and Bryan became the new Tag-Team Champions, and they became known as ‘Team Hell No’ thanks to a Twitter poll. Their reign as champions lasted for 245 days, a considerably long time – especially for the career of Kane.

kane 8Kane returned after a two-month hiatus from being attacked by The Wyatt Family, but under a new character we had never seen him exhibit before. Kane pledged his allegiance to The Authority, and handed-in his mask. Unlike his Corporation days, Kane underwent a character change and was now the ‘Director of Operations’. He wore a suit and tie on a weekly basis, and it was safe to say that if Team Hell No didn’t end Kane’s reputation as a fierce and frightening competitor, this certainly did. Thankfully, Kane soon wore his mask again as Stephanie McMahon told Kane to become the devil that he always was, due to his defeat against The Shield at WrestleMania XXX. However (as predicted), Kane lost his first title match against Daniel Bryan at Extreme Rules.

Funnily enough, this article commenced before the events of Kane brutally assaulting Daniel Bryan on the following episode of RAW. After these events, I began wondering whether everything I wanted to talk about had just been disproved/rectified. Flashbacks of Kane from his early days resulted from these disastrous actions. However, the years of WWE belittling Kane should have taught me otherwise, as Kane went back to being a simple pawn for a higher entity (The Authority). Yes, he’s recently been involved in main event matches, but not for his own gain. Hell, he recently ensured Seth Rollins’ victory in the first Money in the Bank ladder match of the evening, and then dedicated his participation in the second ladder match by being devoted to Randy Orton – even though he could have had the gold to himself! His purpose is to serve, and to make matters worse, he’s been a jobber for several years now. Yes, having younger talent going ‘over’ legends makes sense for the push, however this doesn’t work with Kane. Chris Jericho is a great example. You could say that he’s a jobber (his segments with CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler indicate this), yet him losing to the opposition does two things. It majorly pushes the winning man, yet it doesn’t take away Y2J’s status as a veteran and worthy competitor. Why? Because Jericho hasn’t been under-utilised/undervalued for the majority of his career, none at all if any. Kane has, meaning that any chance of him becoming a fierce entity again is at best, slim. His persona as a monstrous force to be feared has become dampened by the various roles he’s been degraded in.

All in all, it can be said that although the memory of the character Kane will remain in fans’ hearts for eternity, we can agree that he could have been so much more. Yes he’s held several titles. Yes he’s been a dominant force in his own rights. And yes, there have been sources stating that Kane is very humble and often likes to put other people over. But for a character of his stature and status, he has only ever had one relevant reign as champion, and he’s been used as a pawn/bodyguard for most of his career. WWE’s recent usage of Kane has hindered his appeal – he doesn’t seem all that threatening after his entrance and pyrotechnics igniting the ring-posts. WWE became lazy with him, ultimately leading to his under-utilised character, and it’s a shame that it’s too late to turn things around. You could even go as far to say that if he wasn’t portrayed as The Undertaker’s ‘brother’, his overall success may have been further minimised. Nevertheless, his Attitude Era days will never be forgotten, and Glenn Jacobs has been an underrated credit to the world of professional wrestling.

The evolution of ‘The Big Red Machine’.

What do you think? Are you happy with how Kane’s career has unfolded, or do you agree that he should’ve become more? Have your say by leaving a comment!

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

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. 

Faction or fiction: Are The Shield unbreakable?

It’s fair to say that The Shield are WWE’s hottest asset right now. I mean come on, they’re strong, dominant, and have a bad-ass theme song and entrance. But surely there’s something more to them that has led to their ever-growing popularity. This article aims to analyse the reasons as to why The Shield have become a huge success, by comparing them with the stables of professional wrestling’s extensive past.  

The ‘main’ guy

Let’s take a moment to recall some of the great factions that pro wrestling has seen throughout its existence. The Four Horsemen, nWo, D-Generation X, The Nation of Domination, The Ministry of Darkness, Evolution, and The Nexus, are to name a few. There’s no doubt that the groups just mentioned have all been extremely popular/influential/revolutionary throughout their pro wrestling runs. However, they all have one thing in common: A main man or group leader. The Four Horsemen had Ric Flair, nWo had Hollywood Hogan, DX had Triple H, The Nation had Farooq (and then Rock), The Ministry had Undertaker, Evolution had Triple H, and The Nexus had Wade Barrett. What has this got anything to do with The Shield, you ask?

For a while, it was portrayed that Dean Ambrose was the leader of The Shield. Not only did he have all the mic time when cutting promos, but he was even crowned the United States Champion, while Rollins and Reigns held on to the Tag-Team Championships. The Shield, for a while, were like any other stable we’ve seen in the past. However, forward several months later and all of a sudden Roman Reigns seems to be the new dominant force of The Shield. Forward several weeks later and all of a sudden Seth Rollins begins to have more of a voice of his own and makes his architectural presence in the group seem valuable. Forward to present day and you have three equal shining stars that could easily break-out as top-flight singles competitors, all in one group.

Yes, the stables mentioned above had leaders and were extremely successful. However, instead of following suit, The Shield have been revolutionary in stemming away from the norm of having one main guy in a team and have evolved into three main guys of their own. Each member is equally as important as the other, which adds to their presence as a stable in general. This is the reason why many people believe that The Shield are a more superior group than The Wyatt Family, as while The Wyatts are an incredible faction of their own, the focus is solely on Bray Wyatt – the clear leader of the trio. Aside from the sheep mask and the epic spinning clothesline, there has been no emphasis or character development on Luke Harper or Eric Rowan. They have so far been portrayed simply as underlings of Bray Wyatt.

Individual traits and personalities

Continuing-on from the above point, being three equal entities has led to the personas of each Shield member to become further highlighted. Having no leader makes it even more important for The Shield to establish individual characteristics, and both they and the WWE have done this well. You’ve got the Joker-like technical machine, Dean Ambrose; the high-flying, loyal workaholic, Seth Rollins; and man-with-few-words, the powerhouse of the trio, Roman Reigns. This makes it easier for fans to get behind each member, as their personas are more identifiable. Three individuals, with three different personalities and wrestling styles – a recipe for success!

Going further on the point of unique styles, it is great that each Shield member possesses their own recognisable arsenal of moves. As mentioned earlier, Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns could easily break-out as upper-carder singles competitors, and having an established move-set certainly supports this. Other factions in the past have had this, which is a discrete but definite factor as to why they’ve become as popular as they have today. The difference with The Shield, however, is that they weren’t once stars in singles competition that fans got to know first. They’ve still managed to create distinct personalties and styles for themselves, which can be hard to exhibit when debuting on WWE television as an unknown group. That leads us nicely onto the next section…

Stars bundled together

The Corporation were a dominant group in the late 90s during the ‘Attitude’ era, consisting of top stars such as Shawn Michaels, Kane, The Rock, The Big Show, and Triple H. They were an awesome group, but aside from The Rock, it seemed as if the star-power from each member was overshadowed by the boss of the faction, Vince McMahon, and his mission to conquer the WWE. The ‘Corporate sell-outs’ seemed to be portrayed as nothing more than mere minions who did McMahon’s dirty laundry. This is a prime example of the problem with simply ‘bundling’ stars together instead of grouping roster members together to organically build new stars.

It got even worse when The Corporation and The Ministry of Darkness joined forces, forming The Corporate Ministry. Yes, on paper, it was an awesome idea – they were the ultimate heel group that nobody could touch. However, again, this deemphasised the star power that the group obtained. Imagine fusing WWE’s current main stars in one group, let’s say Cena, Orton, Bryan, and dare I say, Punk. Think of how played-down each of their characters would be. The group’s ambitions would be the sole focus and priority, which would significantly reduce the potential of any further character development – if any was needed. This is why The Shield are such a polished faction so far. They have each become stars through their journey as The Shield – instead of each being built as single competitors and just thrown together – which helps validate the stable as a worthy entity.

Overall, it is clear that The Shield are a unique group that have revolutionised factions as a whole in the industry of professional wrestling. Although the groups mentioned were game-changing in their own rights, both the WWE and The Shield have done well to do something different. Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns have each emerged into top-flight Superstars through their ride with the stable, possessing their own distinct styles and characteristics, making each of them a distinguishable ‘Hound of Justice’. As of right now, The Shield are unbreakable.

Do you agree? What’s your opinion on The Shield? Comment below, and don’t forget to 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. 

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.