Triple H vs The Rock at WrestleMania 31

Where it all began: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Rocky Maivia.

For a couple of months now, rumours have escalated around the WWE Universe of a potential match at next year’s WrestleMania, and these whispers have become even more apparent after SmackDown’s 15th anniversary show. Triple H vs The Rock at WrestleMania 31 is a match that screams, well, controversy.

 

On paper, this match seems brilliant (well to me anyway). It encompasses two stars that embodied the ‘Attitude Era’, arguably WWE’s greatest era in its existence in the professional wrestling industry. Not only that, but these two stars have had a tremendous rivalry for over a decade, stemming from their battles for the Intercontinental Championship in 1997, as well as faction-based rivalry as part of D-Generation X and the Nation of Domination respectively. ‘The Game’ and ‘The Brahma Bull’ also carried the company with their epic rivalry in 2000 and 2001 during Stone Cold Steve Austin’s absence, which made many forget about ‘The Rattlesnake’s’ temporary departure altogether. In essence, their rivalry was perfect; it was the ultimate heel vs the ultimate baby-face, and it was a rare rivalry where each Superstar was jeered/cheered by the audience as they were supposed to. It wasn’t anything like you see nowadays, with the heel generating most of the cheers and pops, and vice-versa for the face.

Their rivalry was at its peak in 2000/2001, carrying the company on its shoulders.

There is, however, a massive problem if this match were to take place on the ‘grandest stage of them all’. While it would momentarily excite the hearts of most 90s fans, it does nothing for WWE’s current talent – especially if the match is the main event like they hinted it would be. It would achieve a temporary bit of excitement and attract a wider audience, yes, but will do nothing in sustaining the future of the WWE roster. It doesn’t make sense, nor is it fair, for the Bryans, Ambroses, and Rollins’ of today to take a backseat on the show that they bust their asses on week-after-week, only to have a couple of in-ring part-timers secure their spots. I wouldn’t be surprised if the match encountered boos throughout its entirety by some of the more passionate fans. However, there are several ways in which WWE could capitalise on having both ‘The King of Kings’ and ‘The Great One’ present on the show, as well as boost their current/future roster at the same time.

Option 1

The obvious choice would be to have each competitor involve themselves in a singles match against a rising star. Why not have HHH take on Dean Ambrose, or even Seth Rollins, and have John Cena or Daniel Bryan take on the other ex Shield associate? Rocky could square-off against someone like Rusev, achieving a level of star-power that WrestleMania deserves – without hogging the spotlight. The main event could be the much hinted Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, allowing WWE to solidify their rising stars across the card. Of course, one or two competitors from each match could be switched around here or there, but you get the idea. What this results in is a series of matches where you have a veteran/well-known competitor – attracting a wider audience – going up against a rising star, making them more well-known and established as the faces of professional wrestling’s modern era.

Option 2

However, as mentioned in my previous article, this could get a little predictable. Having any one of the veterans go over wouldn’t make sense, unless WWE get really creative with an extremely clever storyline – but let’s not get our hopes up on that. Therefore, it would be fairly obvious as to who the victor of each contest will be. So maybe getting two veterans to go one-on-one could fit into a WrestleMania card. Let’s say WWE do go ahead and decide to have Triple H vs The Rock at WM31. Despite most of the crowd’s initial disputes over the match-up, they’re excitement will probably emerge as the event gets within an arms-reach of commencing. In addition, I’m sure the months of build-up prior to the event would’ve made the match-up that much more exciting. Everyone would want to know just who is the better man out of the Hunter-Maivia rivalry, and this match would be the climax of it all. However, how about having the match end in a Nexus-style fashion? The match could draw to a close, when all of a sudden, the lights go out. The lights reappear, and surrounding the ring could either be a group consisting of WWE’s undeserved mid-carders, or even NXT stars such as Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville. They’d get into the ring and pummel the hell out of Triple H and The Rock, claiming on RAW that their intentions for doing so was because they’re sick and tired of legends taking up spots and costing the current roster opportunity after opportunity. This would, again, achieve star-power that the event needs to attract a larger demographic, as well as do wonders for WWE’s current/future roster.

While it’s clear that having Triple H and The Rock compete at WrestleMania 31 is “best for business”, WWE need to be clever of how they incorporate the two so that it benefits the grand scheme of things: sustaining its Superstars’ longevity and relevancy.

Do you think that Triple H vs The Rock should happen at WrestleMania 31, or that WWE do something different in utilising these two mega-stars in the interest of their current crop? Leave a comment below and please don’t forget to share if you liked this!

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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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.