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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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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

From bad-ass, to candy-ass? The degradation of The Rock’s ‘electrifying’ character…

The Rock Attitude Era

‘The Brahma Bull’ in the prime of his career, before things went downhill for many of ‘the millions’.

Before this article begins, let me just state that on a personal note, it was difficult enough for me to even consider writing this article, let alone actually writing it. Like many, I am an avid Rock fan, and he was, and to some extent still is, a hero of mine. But as I feel passionate about the demise of his once-beloved persona, I felt that writing this article was the right thing to do. 

With his unmatched swagger, dominating persona, superior athleticism and countless catchphrases, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a man who heavily contributed to revolutionising the world of professional wrestling during the ‘Attitude era’. Debuting in the late 90s, the third-generation Superstar quickly made a name for himself in the WWE (WWF at the time), and was very much adored even when playing the role of a ‘heel’ (bad guy). It was extremely hard not to like ‘The Great One’, but it became significantly easier towards the end of his full-time wrestling career – when Hollywood came knocking on the door.

When The Rock returned from shooting ‘The Mummy Returns’ in 2001, things didn’t change much. Whilst looking physically leaner, his overall character remained, which was great to see. He was still brash, cocky, funny, and overall a larger-than-life stud. It seemed a taste of Hollywood didn’t change him too much. The big change however, came around the time of challenging Hollywood Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania X8. Our beloved Rocky changed – the bass in his voice  lowered, he spoke more quickly and abruptly, lost the $500 shirts and $1000 rolexes, cut his hair, and started to lose his wrestling shape. His catchphrases sounded less meaningful, and more like mantras. It felt as if he had to get ‘get them out of the way’, so to speak.

Now right off the bat, these factors may sound somewhat silly and irrelevant to the casual fan. But those who knew The Rock’s career in the 90s immediately noticed the significant change. He was less of a badass, and inadvertently brought a bit of his early Hollywood career with him. Just look at Chris Jericho’s WWE debut, and then compare The Rock in this segment with him in his ‘Great Balls of Fire’ promo. The contrast is stark, and these are just two segments out of hundreds that can be compared.

Several departures and returns later, he, for the second time running, smartly used the fans’ gradual dislike towards him to his own advantage by creating a new Hollywood heel persona in 2003.

Out-of-shape and under a new ‘Hollywood’ persona, The Rock wrestles Austin in their third and final WrestleMania clash.

While this character wasn’t your usual Rock, it was actually quite refreshing and helped revamp his previously dying persona. It was an entertaining gimmick which made for a great heel, but unfortunately did not last long when he left once again after losing to Bill Goldberg at Backlash. The Rock gradually turned face again by returning several times in non-wrestling roles. He then returned once more to team with Mick Foley – reuniting ‘The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection’ – and feuded with Evolution.

Face Rock was back, but in the eyes of many he still wasn’t all quite there. A large chunk of what we loved about him was missing. The Rock appeared four more times after this in minor roles, but then did not appear again until 2011 (excluding a couple of satellite vignettes and the 2008 Hall of Fame induction speech of his father, Rocky Johnson, and grandfather, Peter Maivia).

The Rock’s 2011 return

In 2011, The Rock made a triumphant return as the special guest host of WrestleMania XXVII. Everyone was eager to see their childhood hero make a comeback, but to many the excitement was short-lived. Rocky looked great, he was back in shape, wore an ‘I BRING IT’ tank-top, and completely shaved off all his hair. He even rocked (pardon the pun) a pair of sunglasses. It was amazing to hear him utter the words ‘FINALLY, THE ROCK, HAS COME BACK…HOME…’. His first return promo was generally awesome, but the hardcore fans already began to notice the cracks in his persona.

Any avid wrestling fan knows that The Rock always speaks in third-person, but the constant use of ‘I’ really diminished the effect of the promo. Every ‘I’ spoken felt like a small stab to the Rocky fans who tuned-in. It just wasn’t natural. He also said something along the lines of “Let me take a moment as Dwayne…”, and gave a personal mini-speech explaining how glad he was to be back. While it’s understandable as to why he did this, this again tarnished his return. He’s a great and inspiring individual, but as wrestling fans, we only want The Rock. If we wanted Dwayne, we’d watch his movies and interviews. You don’t see The Undertaker returning and saying “Let me take a moment as Mark Calaway…”! However, overall, the promo was brilliant and the constant digs at John Cena really made everyone erupt.

The Rock and John Cena went back and forth, verbally, physically, and even remotely (well, in Rocky’s case). The insults from both ends were priceless, and were sprinkled from WrestleMania XXVII all the way through to the next two WrestleManias. However, further down the line, it almost felt as if Rock became everything he despised about Cena – a Captain America-like hero.

The majority of hardcore wrestling fans (who, for obvious reasons, were on ‘Team Bring It’) seemed to be in denial about being more entertained by Cena’s content, and the momentum gradually shifted from ‘The Brahma Bull’ to Mr ‘Fruity Pebbles’. The Rock began to tell stories of his past relating to every town/city that RAW/SmackDown was in, which, although entertaining at some points, grew very boring and uninteresting. Notes on Rocky’s wrist were even spotted during a promo, which was called-out by the ‘Dr of Thuganomics’ himself. ‘Story-time with The Rock’ was no longer cool.

The Rock cuts a shaky promo on CM Punk

Throughout his two-to-three year return, ‘The Great One’ feuded with several other Superstars (including CM Punk), which led to more promo segments. Unlike the past, the ‘millions’ often feared for Rocky during his verbal bout with the current ‘jabroni’ he squared-off with. Being on the receiving end of a verbal dig, stuttering upon his own words, or repeating the same lines over and over again, became a common occurrence for The Rock. It was actually nerve-racking to watch him cut promos – they most definitely were not as organic or as fluid as they used to be.

From all that’s been said, it should be noted that the current ‘PG era’ definitely played a part of The Rock’s watered-down content during his return. But even with this in mind, there was a factor of brilliance that was sincerely missed after Hollywood came calling. In terms of in-ring ability, Rock certainly hadn’t lost it (although his second bout with Cena had one of the laziest and most unimaginative climaxes to a main event that pro wrestling has ever witnessed). There were signs of rustiness, but overall he maintained if not improved his smooth in-ring work.

Having said all this, there is no doubt that Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson has continued to inspire and achieve greatness. His charisma, drive, and passion has paved the way for WWE Superstars and people alike, and despite knowing that we’ll never get ‘Attitude era’ Rock again, he’ll forever remain our ‘People’s Champion’.

What do you think? Do you agree that Rocky’s character has become stale, or do you like the evolution that his persona has taken? Leave 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.