FACT or FICTION: The "SummerFest" Edition (Part 1)
Aug 13, 2013 - 4:00:00 AM
It's been far too long, but FACT or FICTION is back on the LoP main page. Because I kept it away from everyone for so long, I figured I'd bring it back with a bang. Not only is this one of the biggest panels in FoF history as far as star power is concerned, but it's probably the lengthiest FoF ever. Because of the overall length of the column, it will be split into two parts. This is the first part, with the first five statements. The second part, with the final five statements, will be posted on Sunday morning, in the final rush to get everyone excited for SummerSlam. Let me go right and reveal who is joining me here this time around..
LoP's most anonymous columnist, since nobody knows his real name, what he looks like, etc.. The Crow!
The man who used to be Zack Ryder's biggest fan, but now, is scheming a murder plot to take Long Island's biggest "bro" off the map.. Super Chrisss!
This man is probably the last person on the planet who still owns a late-90's Bad Boy Records-era "shiny suit".. Mazza!
Wherever you are in the world, if you even think of the word "redheads", this man pops up like an old black man and says "Them's my favorite!".. Triple R!
Whether you like him or you don't like him, learn to love him because he's the greatest columnist in the history of LoP.. Mr. Tito!
Of course, I'm your faithful FoF host, and the man with seemingly more enemies than a snitch who ratted on the mob.. Hustle!
If you're new to FACT or FICTION, the game is really quite simple. I put out a series of statements to the panel, and we all say whether those statements are FACT or FICTION. See? Easy. Because SummerSlam is right around the corner, this is going to be a SummerSlam-themed edition of FoF, with every question having to do with SummerSlam in one way or another, whether it's this year's event, a previous edition of the pay-per-view, or the event in general.
Let's get this on and poppin, shall we?
FACT or FICTION: This is the best opportunity Daniel Bryan will ever have to become the WWE Champion. (Note: This doesn't necessarily mean you think he will become the WWE Champion. This is just if you feel the company should pull the trigger now because they'll never have this kind of opportunity again.)
Mazza: Straight off the bat and it is clear this is going to be a damn tough edition of FoF. It is just so hard to say because we have no idea what the future holds. Old superstars can fall off, new superstars can be made out of nowhere but the fact is that right now, Daniel Bryan is H. O. T. HOT! Is it possible he can get hotter? It is but you have to play the percentages. Because of that I am going to go with FACT on this one. I've commented recently that I haven’t seen anybody get that type of reaction as loudly and as consistently since probably Stone Cold. As such it makes sense to cash-in on that now.
Chrisss: Sunday night will be the biggest match of Daniel Bryan's career. Of that, there is no uncertainty. I don't care if Daniel Bryan is booked to wrestle The Rock, Brock Lesnar, and The Undertaker in a Gauntlet match at Wrestlemania XXX, SummerSlam will be Bryan's best chance to not only solidify himself as a main-eventer, but to become WWE Champion. While he may not become "the guy" by beating Cena for the title, he'll have at least tied CM Punk for second place. And from SummerSlam onward as WWE Champion, Lord knows how far Bryan could go. This isn't to say Bryan won't receive another title shot ever again should he come up short against Cena. But WWE has to strike while the iron is hot and waiting until Night of Champions or later to pull the trigger might be a huge mistake. FACT
Crow: FACT, 100%. Daniel Bryan is riding a massive wave of popularity right now, and coupling that with the fact that he's going up against the face of the company and biggest star in wrestling today, this is easily the best chance for Bryan to make it to that next level as WWE Champion. The only thing that, in my mind, could make it any better of a time would be if this match was happening at Wrestlemania, but Summerslam will have to do. My main fear right now is that WWE is going to do the same thing to Bryan that TNA did to Samoa Joe back in the 2006-2008 period where his popularity was at an all time high and the fans were more than ready for him to become a World Champion, but the company kept putting it off until, when he finally did win the title, the impact was so much less than it should have been, leading to a subpar reign at the time, and no reign since then. The WWE Universe seems to want Daniel Bryan to be their Champion, and if the WWE wants to capitalize on that, this is the best time to get it done.
Tito: Absolutely, this is FACT. Timing is everything in pro wrestling and Daniel Bryan appears to be at the peak of his popularity just as he receives a one-on-one match with John Cena. Those two events colliding don't happen much in the WWE and depending on the outcome of the match (Daniel Bryan losing to Cena or Randy Orton defeating Bryan afterward via Money in the Bank cash-in), the momentum could quickly cool. See CM Punk in 2011 when he was humiliated at SummerSlam when Alberto Del Rio cashed in the Money in the Bank and stole his WWE Title. Like CM Punk could have been a huge star in 2011, WWE squandering this opportunity could make Bryan "damaged goods" for the Main Event scene for years to come.
TripleR: FICTION. This is the RIGHT time to have this match with Daniel Bryan, but I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be the only time that Daniel Bryan will have the opportunity. Daniel Bryan, in my opinion, has firmly cemented himself as a star in the WWE. Whether or not he wins at SummerSlam, he’ll be in the main event picture for a while. I don’t know that he can sustain the crazy amount of fan support he has now, but I don’t know honestly if anybody can really do that. If the question was stated as to whether this is the perfect time to do it, then I think the answer is FACT, but is this the best OPPORTUNITY he’s ever going to have? No way, I've got to go FICTION on that one. But if they’re smart, they strike when the iron’s hot.
Hustle: Man, if you've been paying any sort of attention whatsoever, you already know what my answer is going to be. I don't see a better opportunity for Daniel Bryan, so I have to go with FACT here. I have no doubt that he'll get title shots in the future, no matter the outcome this weekend, but I just can't see anything better, even if he main events WrestleMania, because of how organic this was with DB's crowd reaction building and building on its own, without WWE's booking guiding them to react in a certain way. This. Is. It. This is their opportunity to make something special happen, and the ball is in their court completely. I just hope they don't take a knife to the ball and deflate it for no reason.
FACT or FICTION: SummerSlam, like WrestleMania, should be held in bigger venues, and not just in Los Angeles' Staples Center every year, where a sellout crowd is a mere 17,400 fans. The event is supposed to be a big deal, so the venues and the crowds should match that.
TripleR: FACT (KINDA). I don’t necessarily know if they need BIGGER venues, but I think they should certainly have DIFFERENT venues. I've never quite understood why SummerSlam has stayed in LA since 2009. While it’s certainly considered one of the “Big 4”, which I think we get to later, it should go on the road to different cities, and possibly hotter crowds than LA. Does it need bigger? Not necessarily, but it certainly needs DIFFERENT.
Tito: The risk of being embarrassed at a larger venue that doesn't draw would be bad PR for the WWE Corporation, so FICTION. Hosting 2 big events in larger venues, possibly both being outdoor, could be a disaster. Additionally, the WWE has yet to encounter bad weather at outdoor venues and that could be a train wreck for a Pay Per View. Having SummerSlam at the same arena has its advantages, as many of the same fans can repeatedly attend and appreciate the same event each year. Nobody gripes that several Golf and Tennis majors are at the same venues, and ditto for the College Football bowl games. If only the WWE could promote SummerSlam being a Los Angeles event stronger, then maybe the event would draw even stronger locally. Make it permanent in LA and the Staples Arena is a great venue to host any event.
Crow: I had to consult Wikipedia a few times before really coming to a final answer here. Originally I was going to say this was a FACT, but my mind was quickly changed. I'm going to go with the dreaded FACTION answer here, because while I do agree that Summerslam should be held in other arenas, I don't necessarily think that they need to be the same sort of size as a Wrestlemania calibre venue.
Neither Survivor Series or Royal Rumble, the other two members of the "Big Four" club, have been held in arenas of that size in recent years, so why should Summerslam? WWE can still give it that "big show" feel by booking good, solid matches to fill the card.
But, like I said earlier, I do 100% agree that the event should be held in other cities besides Los Angeles. If Summerslam is booked as a big deal, the company should have no trouble selling tickets to the show. Bring it to a city like Toronto, where the 2004 Summerslam saw 17,640 attend the show at the Air Canada Centre. By keeping the show exclusive to one city/arena, WWE is missing the opportunity to capitalize on other cities that are unlikely to host the other "big shows".
Hustle: I might be going against popular opinion here, but I'm going to say FACT. Now, I'm not saying WWE should be booking SummerSlam in venues like MetLife Stadium, The SuperDome, The Citrus Bowl, and so on, in an attempt to get 80,000+ people in the building every year. I am saying that Staples Center is too "small" to hold an event of SummerSlam's magnitude, though. There are NBA and college basketball arenas that are bigger than Staples Center. There are numerous college football stadiums that would bring in a much bigger crowd than Staples Center could. Dozens of venues in America alone that would give SummerSlam a crowd of 25,000-40,000 people, and that would be perfect, in my opinion. Save the mega crowds for WrestleMania. Use the "small" crowds for television and the other pay-per-view events. Notice I didn't even mention the type of fans that are in attendance for SummerSlam every year. A large chunk of the fans aren't your typical die-hard WWE fans. The arena gets packed with celebrities, executives and the big money crowd.. just like the average Los Angeles Lakers crowd. The Lakers can be the best team in the NBA, but there would still be a handful of arenas in the league that are louder and full of more vocal fans. Letting different cities get SummerSlam in their neck of the woods? Letting more passionate and vocal WWE fans get SummerSlam in their neck of the woods? Letting a bigger crowd in to watch SummerSlam, making it come across better for the viewing audience at home? It sounds like a no-brainer to me.
Chrisss: If any of my colleagues responds with FICTION to this one, I will beat myself with a stick. One of the things that has made SummerSlam less special over the years was the lackluster crowd that shows up to Pay-Per-View every August. What makes Los Angeles so special that they deserve to host one of the biggest PPVs of the year every year? Chicago, Philly, Brooklyn, NYC, Miami - those cities are home to some of the most vocal wrestling fans on the planet, yet they don't have a fixed PPV every year. SummerSlam needs to get the fuck out of Los Angeles and never look back. FACT
Mazza: This is almost two questions here. I will deal with the second part first. SummerSlam should not be held in the same place every year, no matter where that place is. But back to the main part of the question. SummerSlam should be held in bigger venues is pure FICTION for me. As much as we discuss the business side of things in the IWC, I really don’t care about that kind of thing. I am obviously not naive enough to think it doesn't have a huge affect on the money the company makes, but I want things that enhance my experience as an armchair fan. As such I’d like the big PPV views to be in arenas in cities with notoriously good crowds. Chicago obviously immediately springs to mind but MSG cards always seem to find that little something that makes what goes on in the ring that bit more special. So definitely out of LA but not to stadiums. Until the next time Wembley gets mentioned again at least!
FACT or FICTION: Brock Lesnar needs the win against CM Punk much more than CM Punk needs the win against Brock Lesnar.
Chrisss: I wrote a column on this exact topic not even three weeks ago so most of you already know what my answer is going to be. As much as I have enjoyed this feud day one, I still don't see any reason why CM Punk needs to go over Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. I know some people disagree, but win or lose, Punk will walk out of SummerSlam with his status pretty much the same. He won't be wrestling on Superstars the next week if he loses, but he won't be the face of the company if he wins. Obviously, a victory over Lesnar would boost Punk's resume, but when it comes down to who has more to lose thanks to a loss, I just can't see Lesnar fully recovering from yet another loss. FACT
Hustle: I've been going back and forth on this one for a while, but now that the time has arrived for me to make my choice, I'm going with FICTION. Don't get me wrong.. Brock really does need the win. However, when I look at Brock and Punk, and their "place" in the WWE landscape, now and moving forward, I don't see Brock being hurt as much by a loss here. He can lose at SummerSlam, take a bit of time off, and return down the line as the 300-pound former UFC Heavyweight Champion badass that he is without skipping a beat. He'll still be booked as a monster, and he'll still be viewed by the majority of the WWE Universe as someone that can remove his opponent's head from his shoulders at any given point. Punk, on the other hand, even with his super duper WWE Title reign, hasn't always had the best success against two sets of opponents: part-time guys and/or "big man" workers. Lesnar, of course, is both. Punk is already being viewed as "too small" here, and the match hasn't even started. There's a layer of disrespect that Punk is getting, whether it's because people do view him as "too small", or they think WWE botched Punk's title reign (not making him the guy on the roster, etc). A win over a beast like Brock Lesnar can go a long way for Punk. People will view him as someone who can step up and defeat this type of worker. People will look at him as more of a complete package. It's odd to compare him to this man in this instance, but people will see him as being a lot closer to a John Cena and Cena's level. Cena is obviously someone that can step into the ring against someone the size of Rey Mysterio or against someone the size of Big Show and come out victorious. If/when Punk goes through the monster of a man that Lesnar is, the average fan will be able to place him on a higher pedestal, which is where he belongs.
TripleR: FACT. I wrote about this in one of my columns where I felt that Brock Lesnar's return has been a bit of a wash. He’s had four matches, and he’s wrestling at a .500 rate. Three of those matches have been against Triple H, and the other with John Cena. The problem I have with this feud is that it’s not really Brock vs. Punk. The feud is actually Heyman vs. Punk, with Brock just being used as a tool. If Punk loses, he’ll be fine. He’s planted himself firmly in the WWE where he’ll move onto the next thing. But Lesnar's role since his return is that he’s supposed to be this incredible monster that can beat anybody. Yet he hasn't, and if he loses to Punk he’ll be 2-3. Not really all that intimidating to me. Lesnar needs a win here.
Mazza: This is another really tricky one. On one hand, Punk is the full time wrestler therefore one school of thought is that he needs that momentum a lot more. For the last two years he has been the number two guy in the company but where does he slot back into the scheme of things if he loses to Lesnar. There are three guys hanging around that belt right now and all have a great deal of momentum on their side. A win holds Punk to that standard but a loss would probably mean a touch of rebuilding. But let’s look at the flip side of the coin. Lesnar has lost to Cena and scraped out a 2-1 victory over Triple H since his return. Where does a loss put him in the build up to a big match at Mania XXX? Would he look like a legit threat to the streak when the guy he lost too couldn't get it done a year earlier? Would you think he stood a chance against The Rock after Mr Johnson dealt with Punk at back to back PPVs? Not at face value but time is a healer. Even if Brock disappears with his tail between his legs at SummerSlam, the pure physical presence he has means a couple of beatdowns and he looks like the beast he is once more. Sure there will come a time when he will have one too many losses and his credibility will be done, but it isn't just yet so I have to go with FICTION. Punk has failed to beat Triple H, Undertaker and The Rock since he made his step-up, and it is time for him to put a tick in the W column against a big name part timer if he is going to become one himself in a few years.
Crow: Another easy one. FICTION. Brock Lesnar is, for lack of a better term, purely an enhancement talent in his current run with the company. He's not wrestling regularly, he's not competing for championships, and he's not even really making regular appearances on weekly TV. Brock Lesnar does not need to beat anybody until that position changes. CM Punk, on the other hand, is one of the top names in the company, and while I don't think he necessarily needs to win, it would certainly do more good for him than a loss would. This is a feud that could easily be carried over to the next PPV, so whoever wins this match is almost inconsequential. The match needs to be great, plain and simple, and I have a strong feeling that it will be.
Tito: Brock Lesnar is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Wrestling fans know that if Lesnar flipped a switch, he could kill any wrestler at any time. Thus, Lesnar does not need to win matches to improve his personal image (although losing hurts his Pay Per View drawing one). This is FICTION because CM Punk has jobbed to big names during 2013. Rock twice, John Cena on RAW (and Punk was getting the better of Cena), Kane for the Paul Bearer memorial match, and then the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 29. Furthermore, I'm not all impressed with CM Punk's 1 year+ WWE Title reign as he lacks any major wins during that reign and was barely in the main event for Pay Per Views. WWE has underappreciated CM Punk as a draw and should reward him with a big win.
FACT or FICTION: Bret "The Hitman" Hart VS The British Bulldog at Wembley Stadium in 1992 is the greatest match in SummerSlam history.
Tito: No doubt in my mind that this is FICTION. The home England crowd makes this match look far better than it actually is. I can name at least 2 matches from SummerSlam 2002 (Brock vs. Rock, Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels) that were better than Bulldog/Hitman. Probably not even in my top 5, although Bulldog winning the Intercontinental Title in front of the home crowd was a huge "moment". Bulldog vs. Bret featured a muscle heavy Bulldog wrestling Bret Hart who was calling the match in the same way he wrestles all of his other matches. The British crowd made it look better than the match actually was and in hindsight, the match is weakened because the WWE didn't do much with Bulldog as IC Champion (released him). Bulldog vs. Bret Hart is fun to watch, but overrated as an all time great SummerSlam match.
TripleR: FACT. For the simple fact that when I think about SummerSlam matches, this is the FIRST match that pops into my head every time. I looked at all the SummerSlam matches before I answered this, and while there were some good matches, and some good angles that turned into some OK matches, Hart/Bulldog had an otherworldy energy about it. It was one of those moments when everything clicked at all the right times. And to add to that, it wasn't even for the WWE Championship, but for the IC Title instead. Can you imagine the WWE giving that kind of focus to the IC Title now? Would you want Curtis Axel in your SummerSlam Main Event? This one was fantastic, all the way around.
Chrisss: FICTION. Sorry, but that accolade goes to Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels from 2002. Or The Undertaker and Edge's Hell in a Cell match. Then again, those are my opinions. In MY opinion, Hart vs. Bulldog is a great match, but the "greatest" match in SummerSlam history? Nah. I won't compile a list of my top ten favourite SummerSlam matches (I'll leave that to The Doc and Tito) but if I did, Hart vs. Bulldog would make my top five, but probably not crack the top three. Is the '92 classic a fantastic match? Indeed it is. Is it the best match in SummerSlam history? Not if you ask me.
Crow: FACT. Between the build-up, the atmosphere at the show, and the match itself, I'd be hard pressed to justify giving any other Summerslam match the "Greatest of All Time" title. That's not to say that no other Summerslam match has been great, because that's obviously wrong, but this match had everything, and that's pretty damn hard to beat.
Mazza: As a Brit, it is a very rare thing for me to be able to smugly say “I was there” when looking at great moments in wrestling history. As such, every time this match comes up, the first thing that I usually say is “I was there”. A 12-year-old Mazza was part of that epic dueling “Bulldog” “Hitman” chant and as such you’d think I’d be delivering a big fat “FACT” here, right? FICTION. It’s a great match, don’t get me wrong. The whole occasion and atmosphere is something I will never forget but there are a few matches I enjoy more. I actually have a slight preference for Bret Hart’s match a year earlier against Mr Perfect, an encounter I would watch again and again as a youngster. I’d also put the unsanctioned street fight from 2002 above that (awaits a 4/10 comment) but my favourite right now, despite the finish is Steve Austin vs Kurt Angle from 2001. I’d put Hart vs Smith alongside Rock vs HHH, Orton vs Christian and Eddie vs Rey just outside my top 3.
Hustle: Nope. I can't do it. This is FICTION to me. If Austin VS Angle from 2001 had a finish that wasn't a super cheap cop-out, that would be my choice here, without a doubt. With the cheap finish, though, I can't place it in the top spot. I think Bret VS Davey Boy is a good match. A really good match. However, try as he might, Bret wasn't fully able to "carry" Bulldog to a near-perfect match. Overly muscular (through not-so-honest means, as we would all learn) and probably way too amped up to be having such a big match in front of a gigantic home country crowd.. that's a bad combination, and it is something that Bret couldn't fully overcome. I've never been the biggest Bret supporter alive (sorry, 'Plan), but he should be given some sort of medal for even helping that match be as good as it was. My choice for the greatest match in SummerSlam history, though, is another Bret Hart match (hi, 'Plan). Look no further than the year before Wembley. Bret Hart VS Mr Perfect in 1991. Curt Hennig's back was in shambles for that one, but he was able to contribute enough to the match, allowing Bret, who may have been approaching his in-ring peak at the time, to carry the ball the rest of the way. The match was a fantastic display of technical ability, and an old-school wrestling classic that is able to stand the test of time and still look fresh 22 years later. I don't think SummerSlam matches get any better than this one. Bret VS Bulldog would probably be in my top five, though, so it isn't too far off.
FACT or FICTION: John Cena VS Daniel Bryan will be WWE's Match Of The Year when all is said and done.
TripleR: FICTION. I would like to think that this will be fantastic, but a part of me still thinks that Vince and his old ways really doesn't want Daniel Bryan to shine too brightly. While all the makeover skits, and shots at his size are certainly adding to the storyline, there’s always been some truth to Vince’s love of a bigger wrestler. Cena has a way of working well with smaller, quicker guys. It’s something I've never really understood actually, but he’s really good at it. I don’t have any doubt that he will work well with Daniel Bryan, but MOTY is a bit of a stretch, especially considering the quality of the Punk/Undertaker match from Wrestlemania.
Chrisss: Cena vs. Bryan very well could be the most exciting, technical match of 2013. But they already have some pretty stiff competition. CM Punk vs. John Cena, CM Punk vs. The Undertaker, Dolph Ziggler vs. Alberto del Rio, Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho - the list goes on and on. Any one of those matches could be chosen as someone's favourite match of the year and I wouldn't bat an eye. Could Bryan vs. Cena top any - or all - of those matches? They have the potential to do so. But that's way too much of a gamble to predict. FICTION.
Tito: Nope, as it will be the 2nd best match of SummerSlam 2013. FICTION. I'm expecting Brock Lesnar vs. CM Punk to be in the same realm as 2012's "Match of the Year" from Extreme Rules 2012, John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar. This time, however, Paul Heyman will be heavily involved behind-the-scenes in planning the match with his two real life buddies, CM Punk and Brock Lesnar. I can imagine that Lesnar and Punk, along with Paul Heyman, have been planning this match for weeks. With Bryan vs. Cena, I'm expecting McMahon interference and the threat of Randy Orton cashing in the Money in the Bank to diminish this match. Furthermore, CM Punk vs. Undertaker from Wrestlemania 29 or John Cena vs. CM Punk from RAW are going to be difficult to top for 2013 Match of the Year honors.
Hustle: When you put John Cena in the ring with a skilled opponent, good things happen. When you put John Cena in a "big match" atmosphere, good things happen. When you put John Cena in the ring with a skilled opponent in a "big match" atmosphere, great things happen. That's what we have here. Daniel Bryan is the best wrestler on the WWE roster, and has a strong claim to be the best wrestler alive today. He's more than skilled enough for Cena to have a special match with, but when you combine that with the fact that Bryan himself knows just how special this is, as well as the fact that these two spend a lot of time together out of the ring due to their real-life relationships with the Bella Twins (giving them more than the average amount of time to put their own match together), and you have all the makings of something special. If you give these two 25-30 minutes to work with, if not more, I strongly believe you're looking at FACT here. That isn't taking anything away from the lengthy list of MOTY candidates we've already seen from the company this year. That's simply a statement on just how much faith I have in both men being able to get together and deliver come Sunday night.
Crow: Honestly, I don't know how to answer this question. I hate putting a definitive "Match of the Year" label on anything when there's still so much of the year left to go. I think we're guaranteed to see a great match, certainly one that could realistically end up being MotY, but I'm hesitant to make that official prediction just yet. I think Bryan knows that this is his best opportunity to show the higher-ups that he can hang with the top company names, and that motivation alone is going to drive this match to greatness. As for answering this "fact or fiction" question, I really don't know. I'm going to have to choose NEITHER as my answer here, and keep my seat firmly on the fence.
Mazza: I am going to be optimistic and go with FACT here. In most years the bar is higher come this stage but for me Taker vs Punk is currently leading the way and as good as it was, it is definitely beatable. Bryan simply doesn't have bad matches at the moment but has had very little in the way of marquee singles encounters on the big stage for quite a while. When Cena is in the mood to make a point, he will bring his A game to the table and I definitely think the chemistry will be there. Of course a lot will come down to how it is booked but I think even if WWE do mess it up,. there will still be enough quality there to at least make it a MOTY contender.
That wraps up the first part of FoF this time around. Be sure to respond and tell us who got things right and who got things wrong, and be sure to check for part two of FoF, coming on Sunday morning.