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!

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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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

A WrestleMania idea…

Here’s an idea I’ve been thinking of over the past few months. Enjoy, and let me know what you think by commenting below!

We hadn’t…

…seen The Undertaker on WWE TV since he was triple-powerbombed through an announce table by The Shield in a taping of SmackDown in London.

The idea was that…

The Undertaker calls out The Shield during his RAW return, only to be shown all three members live via satellite through the titantron. The Shield would explain that nobody calls out the ‘Hounds of Justice’, and that they would appear at their own will.

All of a sudden…

…Brock Lesnar’s theme hits, who confronts Taker and challenges him to a no disqualification match at WrestleMania XXX, seeing as he’s out of the title run. ‘The Phenom’ accepts, and the match is set.

At ‘Mania XXX…

The match is epic, and is coming to a close. The Undertaker has the upper-hand, and attempts the tombstone pile-driver for a second time. It connects, and as he goes down for his famous pin-cover…

…SIERRA, HOTEL, INDIGO, ECHO, LIMA, DELTA, SHIELD.

The Shield come storming out, violently attacking Taker (remember, this is a no disqualification match). They get the triple power-bomb in, and shake Lesnar back to his senses. Lesnar stumbles to his feet, hoists Taker onto his shoulders, and BOOM, the F-5 connects. Everyone thinks that they are about to witness the end of ‘The Streak’…

…until…

The lights go out. Everyone has an inkling that it could be The Wyatts. A spotlight hits the centre of the ring, and a rope hangs down. An oddly familiar entity slides down the rope. He has a leather overcoat, long, black, wavy hair, a baseball bat in hand, and a ghostly white face. Wait a minute, white face? Could it be?!

STING.

Sting finally makes his long-awaited WWE appearance. The lights are back on, and he clears house with his baseball bat. He eventually hits Lesnar square on the head, who ricochets into the clasp of ‘The Deadman’s’ hands. The Undertaker finishes ‘The Beast Incarnate’ with one more tombstone pile-driver, extending ‘The Streak’ to 22-0. Taker’s music hits, but is interrupted by the lights going out once again. The lights soon return to normal, only for  Sting to have vanished. Taker seems a little overwhelmed, but continues his celebration. The fans are going wild.

The next night on RAW…

…The Undertaker delivers a promo asking Sting to come out and explain his reasons for his actions. The lights go out and come back on again, and there Sting is, face-to-face with the ‘Lord of Darkness’ himself. Sting grabs a microphone and explains that he wanted ‘The Streak’ to live on, so that he could be the only entity that ever beat it. He then challenges Taker to a match at next year’s WrestleMania.

This probably won’t happen due to the way things are going on RAW and SmackDown, but it would make total sense and would drive the fans wild, at least in my opinion! Unfortunately, Taker has already appeared on RAW this past week, and the events of Taker confronting Lesnar slightly changes the way this could work – though it still could! Although we would have to play the whole waiting game – just like with Rock vs Cena – at least we’d always know that one hell of a match was awaiting us next year. It would also relieve us that Taker is secured for another ‘Mania at least one more time. Once again, comment below to let me know what you think!

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. 

Mid-carder for life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past and present hierarchical title/division structure

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

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

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

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

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