Who should face Sting at WrestleMania 31?

If you’re not aware of Sting’s arrival in the WWE, I’m afraid you’ve been living under a rock. In any case, the question of who Sting should face in his first/only match for the WWE has caused much discussion. Sting has yet to make his official debut – he’s only appeared in behind-the-scenes footage and YouTube videos – and many have come up with dream scenarios as to when and how he should make his appearance. Most of these ideas all lead up to a one-on-one match at WrestleMania 31, but again, who should ‘The Stinger’ face?

The Undertaker

This rumour has been circulating the WWE Universe for a while now (in fact, I had an idea regarding this in an article earlier in the year), and it’s no surprise as to why many want this match to occur. On paper, The Undertaker vs Sting has ‘classic’ written all over it. You have a WWE and WCW legend (both of similar age) going at it on the grandest stage of them all. The potential of a great build-up is there, due to the mind-games they’re both capable of playing. However, if you really think about it, there are a couple of reasons as to why this match shouldn’t happen.

Firstly, either one of these stars losing in this match is a real blow. If Undertaker loses, his legacy could be remembered for two WrestleManias lost in a row – a greatly undeserved ending to such an illustrious career. If Sting loses, it would just be silly, having his long-awaited WWE in-ring debut end in defeat just so Taker can regain some unnecessary momentum. Secondly, it’s difficult to foresee this match being anything spectacular by any stretch of the imagination. While they’re both pro-wrestling greats, we have to be realistic and acknowledge their age, and are by no means anything like they once were in their prime. The match is likely to be slow and sluggish, and it would be appalling to see both of them struggle to carry themselves, let alone the match itself.

If this match were to take place, it should end in a Nexus-style fashion, similar to how I described this in my Triple H vs The Rock article. That way, we’d have no loser, and it would allow up-and-coming talent to shine and get themselves noticed on the biggest platform possible.

Bray Wyatt

Much like the reasoning for The Undertaker facing Sting, Bray would also be an ideal candidate. He’s got the mind-games and creepy persona, which would combine brilliantly with Sting’s character in the weeks building up to the fight. It also allows the ‘Eater of Worlds’ to become relevant again, especially as his recent vignettes have hinted the separation of the Wyatt Family. Furthermore, the bout should feel more exciting as we’d actually have a face vs heel match-up, as opposed to a face vs face scenario that wouldn’t generate as much of a good storyline/build-up. Sting losing to Bray wouldn’t be as diminishing to his career if the Wyatt leader wins using deceitful tactics, boosting his own career as well as keeping Sting relevant and strong.

John Cena

I know I know, roll your eyes. But if we are listing logical opponents here, having the face of the WWE go up against Sting in his first and potential last match for the WWE seems plausible. There’s not much more to say, although it would be great to witness the sheer crowd separation of who the fans want to triumph. Just be sure to expect constant and thunderous “Let’s go Cena-Cena Sucks!” chants. As to who wins, well that’s up to the brave WWE Creative team.

Randy Orton

Before you roll your eyes for the second time, hear me out. Personally, I feel that booking Orton against Sting is a great matchup, for ‘The Apex Predator’ could reawaken his ‘Legend Killer’ persona and go after the non-WWE veteran. Orton could release his more aggressive side in the weeks leading to ‘Mania, resulting in a true face vs heel contest. It’ll bring some juice back into Orton’s career, and if he’s not booked in this sort of matchup, you can believe that he’ll be involved in a pointless match at ‘Mania, and probably ‘job’ to his opponent in the process.

Orton is a veteran in his own right – but he’s no legend yet – so having Orton get stung by ‘The Stinger’ is no big deal as being involved in the matchup alone is a huge honour for him in itself. If Sting were to get bitten by ‘The Viper’, he should lose in an unfair fashion, much like how I described with Bray Wyatt, keeping his reputation intact and unharmed. In the end, we’d be left with an exciting match that has the potential to generate a gripping and intense rivalry. Whether the snake or scorpion comes out on top is irrelevant, for either outcome won’t really change the status for each combatant.

There are other names that come to mind, but due to the reasons mentioned above, this select few are the only ideal candidates to really generate a real and meaningful matchup with the WCW great at WrestleMania 31. But never say never. After all, we all thought The Undertaker would go 22 and 0 last April.

Who do you think Sting should face, and what would be the outcome? Let us know in the comment section below, and please don’t forget to share!

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

Kane: WWE’s most undervalued Superstar?

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

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

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

A new look, the first of many to come.

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

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

Kane finally speaks, just about…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kane…beat-boxing…

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

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

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

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

The evolution of ‘The Big Red Machine’.

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

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

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

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

WrestleMania XXX

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

The opening

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

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

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

The Streak…is over…

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

The ‘YES’ movement flourishes…

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

The Hounds claw their way forward

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

But…what about The Wyatt Family?

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

RAW after ‘Mania

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

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

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

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

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

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

WrestleMania XXX Predictions…

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

John Cena vs Bray Wyatt

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

Triple H vs Daniel Bryan

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

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

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

The Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar

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

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

Randy Orton vs Batista…vs Daniel Bryan! 

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

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

Other expected/rumoured matches…

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

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

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

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

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

Adrian Neville

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

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

Antonio Cesaro

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

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

Bray Wyatt

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

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

Dean Ambrose

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

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

Roman Reigns

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

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

Honourable Mentions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sting

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

John Cena

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

Kane

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

‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin

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

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

So now what?

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

Bray Wyatt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

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

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

The breakup of the ‘Prime Time Players’…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

Keeping ‘The Show-Off’ off the show…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

Swinging for the fences…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

#BNB…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

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

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

The ‘best’ takes his ball and goes home…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

The ‘YES!’ movement…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

  • His beard.

Top-end players…

The good:

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

The bad:

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

The ugly:

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

Some extra points…

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

To conclude…

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

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

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

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!

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