With the Royal Rumble upon us, I think it's only right to do a Royal Rumble-themed column. Several ideas were floating around in my head, and I thought about them all equally. However, there was one column I felt needed to be done, for one reason..
Before the 2008 Rumble, former LoP main page writer sheepster wrote a column just like this, but that means it hasn't been updated for four entire Rumbles. I messaged him, searching for his blessing to do the updated version of his column, but because I'm an impatient man, I couldn't wait any longer for a response, so I'm just going to go ahead with it, but still giving full credit to him.
Some of you already know what I'm talking about, and what today's column will be about, but for everyone else.. it's time to look at the Royal Rumble Curse Of The Number 14.
*DUN, DUN, DUNNNNN*
I'm sure there are some of you out there who don't know about the curse, so let me break it down briefly before I officially get on with the column.
Almost without fail, the person who enters the Royal Rumble in the #14 spot goes on to suffer some sort of personal or professional downfall soon thereafter. Sometimes it's a major downfall. Sometimes it's a minor downfall. Either way, it's still a downfall, to the point where the #14 spot is now cursed, and I have no doubt in my mind that the boys in the back know that. Hell, they probably have little "bets" of who will get the spot every year.
Enough jibba jabba. Let's look at the curse, shall we?
1988 - "Outlaw" Ron Bass
Ron Bass achieved a lot of success wrestling for the NWA in the late-70s, and even saw success in Japan, winning titles all over the place. In the very first Royal Rumble, he got the #14 spot, and he ended up having a bunch of nothing for the rest of the year, followed up by losing his hair in a Hair VS Hair match with Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake on the first episode of Saturday Night's Main Event in 1989. He was out of the company soon after that, and the rest of his career was riddled with pain, until he retired less than two years later. Of course, like is the case with damn near every wrestler that retires, he came back on numerous occasions, but that isn't the point.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6
1989 - Marty Jannetty
Jannetty, along with his tag team partner Shawn Michaels, made their WWF debuts in the summer of 1988, so they were still relatively new to the company at this point. However, look at what happened with The Rockers. They were supposed to become one of the biggest teams in the business, but never officially won the WWF Tag Team Titles. They "won" them on a taped television episode, but due to Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart re-signing with the company after the taping, instead of negotiating his release, as was originally planned, the company decided to put the belts back on Neidhart and Bret Hart. In December 1990, Jannetty ended up breaking the neck of a jobber named Charles Austin as a result of Austin tucking his head while receiving Jannetty's Rocker Dropper finishing move. Austin sued Jannetty and the WWF, and was eventually awarded $26.7 million. Jannetty would then go on to have legal issues, drug issues, and would go on to watch his old tag partner go on to become one of the biggest names in the history of the business. He's so synonymous with tag failure that John Morrison and The Miz would break their tag team up and fight over which one of them was the "Marty Jannetty" of the duo. Ouch.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 9
1990 - Haku
One of the legit toughest men to ever step foot in a wrestling ring, Haku had some nice success as a member of the World Wrestling Federation roster. He was "King" (before the company had their King Of The Ring events), and was even one-half of the WWF Tag Team Champions, along with Andre The Giant. In fact, he was one-half of the WWF Tag Team Champions going into the 1990 Royal Rumble. However, soon after the Rumble, Haku & Andre dropped the titles, and Haku never achieved the same level of success in the wrestling business as he did pre-1990 Rumble. Sure, he went on to wrestle for well over a decade after the 1990 Rumble, but again, just not to quite the same level as before.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 5.5
1991 - Davey Boy Smith
This is an interesting one. In the ring, Davey Boy would go on to have a really nice career, even after his entrance as #14 in the 1991 Royal Rumble. The following year, he main evented SummerSlam from Wembley Stadium in his home country of England and defeated Bret Hart to win the Intercontinental Title, after all. It's what he was dealing with outside the ring that gets people talking. Marital issues, drug and alcohol problems, terrible luck involving an injury on a trap door in WCW, and ultimately, his name being added to the list of pro wrestlers who passed away before the age of 40. It's hard to say that anything could be considered more of a "curse" than going on to die at a really young age, I would think. However, he does get credit for the in-ring success he had.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7
1992 - Hercules
In the 1991 Royal Rumble, Hercules lasted nearly 40 minutes before being eliminated. In the 1992 Royal Rumble, after coming in at #14, Hercules lasted nearly one minute before being eliminated. He was out of the company almost immediately thereafter. He went to WCW, but his tenure there only lasted a few months. He saw a little bit of success in Japan, though, teaming with Scott Norton to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles in August 1993. In the end, though, it's his lack of WWF tenure, post-Rumble, that stands out most. On top of that, he became another wrestling statistic, as he passed away in his sleep in 2004, at the age of 47. That's the second death on this list. Let's see how many more we can find.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7.5
1993 - The Berzerker
During an episode of Prime Time Wrestling in 1992, The Berzerker would win a 40-man Battle Royal. Sounds good, right? Yeah, well, he didn't win the 1993 Royal Rumble, and he was gone from the company not too long after the event. He went to WCW, but had no real success there, either. Not a whole lot to mention here, but he was one of several men who were released from the company within a few months of being #14 in the Rumble.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6.5
1994 - Doink The Clown
Tell me if you notice a theme here, but within months of entering the Royal Rumble in the #14 spot, the man who originally played Doink (Matt Borne), was released from the company after numerous drug abuse punishments. Those personal issues continued, and would go on to cost him a spot in ECW later in the year. I'm not saying he would have gone on to become a main event player if he stayed clean, but he certainly cost himself an opportunity to find out if he could do it, that's for sure.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7
1995 - Jacob Blu
Jacob, and his brother Eli, made their debuts for the company in the Rumble this year. Not even a year later, they were gone. They returned to the company the following year. A few months later, they were gone again. They returned to the company the following year, and this time they actually stuck around for just over two years. Each tenure with the company saw no real success. Under his real name (Ron Harris), Jacob would compete in the company's Brawl For All tournament in 1998, but saw his "tough guy" image take a hit in a loss to 2 Cold Scorpio. What's saving him from an even higher number is that he had some success in WCW after his final WWF tenure, going on to win the WCW Tag Team Titles with his brother on three occasions. When Vince McMahon purchased WCW in 2001, it was apparently the only time he decided not to bring the Harris boys back into the mix, and they were never seen on Titan programming again.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6.5
1996 - Doug Gilbert
This is another very interesting one, but for a much different reason than Davey Boy Smith. Gilbert, the younger brother of "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, made his WWF debut here in the Rumble. He lasted all of three minutes before being eliminated. It was his one and only WWF appearance. That's it. Three minutes and gone, just like my sex life. Teaming with his brother to win the ECW Tag Team Titles (when it was still Eastern Championship Wrestling, and not yet Extreme Championship Wrestling) was the highlight of his career, but that came in 1993. Add Gilbert to the list of names of people who showed up as #14 in the Rumble and were gone soon, although he was gone really soon.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 8
1997 - Goldust
Well, I'll be damned.. a curse breaker! Goldust had already achieved some nice success in his career before this Rumble appearance. He was a two-time Intercontinental Champion, and also racked up two United States Title reigns in WCW, as well as an NWA Tag Team Title reign (with Barry Windham), two WCW Tag Team Title reigns (one with Barry Windham and one with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat), and even one WCW Six-Man Tag Team Title reign (with Tom Zenk and Big Josh). After his appearance in the Rumble, he would go on to win another Intercontinental Title, and would team up with Booker T to win the World Tag Team Titles. He's had his fair share of personal issues, but he continues to bounce back from all of them, and is employed by World Wrestling Entertainment to this day. Hell, he might even be set to have his first (non-dark) match at WrestleMania since WrestleMania 18 in 2002. Congratulations, Goldust, for breaking the curse.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 1.5
1998 - Ken Shamrock
Could we actually see two in a row here? Shamrock was a legendary UFC fighter, but damn near all of his major success came before his time with the WWF. In fact, his MMA record after his time with the WWF is 5-10. Compare that to a 23-5-2 record before the WWF, and it looks especially bad. 1998 was a nice year for Shamrock's wrestling career. He competed in his first Royal Rumble. He won King Of The Ring. He won the Intercontinental Title. He teamed with Big Boss Man to win the WWF Tag Team Titles. However, injuries pretty much derailed his wrestling career, and eventually, he made the decision to return to the world of MMA, not even two years after his Rumble debut. At TNA's very first event, back in the NWA-TNA days, Shamrock would go on to become the promotion's first champion, winning the NWA World Title in the main event, but would be gone from the company less than two months later, after dropping the title. He would return to TNA a couple years later, but his second stint with the company was even shorter than the first. He's got things working in his favor as a curse breaker, but he also has things working in his favor as a curse victim, and I know people have made arguments for both sides of the coin, so I'll just split it right down the middle.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 5
1999 - Kurrgan
..aaaaand we're back on track. Kurrgan's final match with the company was a single month after this Rumble appearance, ending a year-and-a-half stint. That's all he had. The Rumble appearance, and then he's gone. Go ahead and add him to the list. After his wrestling career, he has gone on to act, appearing in such movies as 300, Sherlock Holmes, and The Big Bang. I guess he has that going for him, but there's no ignoring the fact that he only wrestled for the company for another month after the Rumble.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7.5
2000 - Bob Backlund
Yes, that Bob Backlund. He was only around for a couple months. With Doug Gilbert, we have no idea if he was only supposed to be have that one appearance. With Backlund, it's pretty clear that he wasn't supposed to be a permanent member of the roster or anything, so I can't give him as high a score as Gilbert, but again, he's yet another name to add to the list of those who entered the Royal Rumble at #14 and were gone from the company within months.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6
2001 - The Goodfather
This was during his heel turn, when he denounced his pimpin ways and joined Right To Censor. Before the turn, he was one of the most over faces in the world of wrestling, as The Godfather. A few months after the Rumble, RTC disbanded, and we had no Godfather or Goodfather for the better part of a year. He returned as a face, as The Godfather once again, but the novelty of the gimmick had already worn off, and he was nothing compared to what he once was. A few months later, he was released from the company. He made some random WWE appearances through the years, but even then, it wasn't with the same level of overness that he once had. Making this extra special.. The Goodfather was the 14th person to be #14 in the Royal Rumble.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7.5
2002 - Diamond Dallas Page
At one point, there was a legitimate argument to be made that DDP was the most over face in wrestling, and one of it's very biggest stars. He won the WCW World Title three times, the WCW United States Title two times, the WCW World Tag Team Titles four times (twice with Kevin Nash, and twice with Kanyon and Bam Bam Bigelow under "Freebird Rules"), and the WCW Television Title one time. When he signed with the WWF, big things were supposed to be in his future, but instead, he was given a dumb "stalker" gimmick and ended up being dominated by The Undertaker in their feud, and then became lost in the shuffle as a member of The Alliance during the WCW "Invasion". His career looked decent after this Rumble appearance. Less than two weeks after the Rumble, he won the European Title, and would go on to successfully defend the title at WrestleMania 18. Good, right? Well, not even a month later, he suffered an injury that would lead to the company deciding not to re-sign him, which would effectively end his career. The curse strikes again. Yet another name that entered the Royal Rumble at #14 and was gone from the company in a couple months.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7.5
2003 - Eddie Guerrero
Obviously, you don't need his career history, but for the sake of this column, things were going really well for him after this Rumble appearance. He won the United States Title in 2003. In a two-year span, he won the Tag Team Titles three times (once each with Chavo Guerrero, Tajiri and Rey Mysterio). Then, of course, in 2004, he won the WWE Title and rose to the top of the wrestling world. Less than three years after this Rumble appearance, though, Eddie passed away, stunning the wrestling world. This is a situation like Davey Boy Smith.. both men saw their greatest professional accomplishments after their #14 entries in the Rumble, but both men also succumbed to personal demons (in two variations) only a few years later.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 8
2004 - Rikishi
He's had a long career with the company, spanning several gimmick changes, and went from a tag team wrestler to a singles jobber to knocking on the door of the main event scene. That's fine and dandy. However, would you like to take a guess as to what happened on July 16th, 2004? If you said "WWE released Rikishi", you'd be correct. He's been wrestling ever since, even having a month-long stint with TNA, but come on.. another name that was released from the company only months after being #14 in the Royal Rumble? It's no joke at this point. Not even him winning the WWE Tag Team Titles with Scotty 2 Hotty a few weeks after the Rumble could save him from the curse. He also went on to suffer a tragedy in his blood family, but more on that a few entries from now.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7
2005 - Orlando Jordan
He did win the United States Title later on in 2005, but lost it to Chris Benoit in less than 30 seconds, before losing the rematch to Benoit in even less time. He then went on to become perhaps the only person in wrestling to officially be released as a result of his sexual orientation. It wasn't directly because he was bisexual or anything, but he was traveling with his "companion" against company rules, and it led to his dismissal. On the indy scene, he went on to become Nu-Wrestling Evolution's champion, which probably says more about that promotion than anything I ever could. He then had a year-and-a-half stint with TNA, where he was allowed to push the boundaries more and more with his bisexual gimmick-that-wasn't-really-a-gimmick. A United States Title reign that was a joke, and ended in historically bad fashion.. and nothing else. Yup.. cursed.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7
2006 - Joey Mercury
This is a similar situation to what I mentioned with Marty Jannetty earlier. Mercury was teaming with John Morrison (then known as Johnny Nitro), and were a successful tag team. They came into 2006 as the WWE Tag Team Champions, and it was their third reign as champions.. but it was also their final reign. The similarity to Jannetty and Michaels, though, is that, like Jannetty, Mercury had personal demons that took over his life and cost him professionally, first starting with a Wellness Policy violation that took place a mere four months after the Rumble. It was a 30-day suspension, as per the usual, but his problem was so severe that it needed rehab, and it would be over six months before he was seen on WWE television again. Three weeks after his return, he was on the receiving end of a ladder in the infamous spot during the tag ladder match at Armageddon that year, and it damn near destroyed his face, needing stitches and surgeries to repair. The team could never regain momentum, and Mercury was released three months later. He returned to WWE in 2010, but right after he returned, he tore his pectoral muscle, which effectively ended his career, and has been a trainer in FCW ever since recovering from the injury. That's quite the list of things.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 9
2007 - Jeff Hardy
This was the last entrant in sheepster's column, and even then, the verdict had yet to come in on what would happen. Well, since then, we've seen what has happened. After the following month's pay-per-view, No Way Out, Hardy dropped the Intercontinental Title to Umaga. He got a World Tag Team Title reign with his brother, but that reign was brief and uneventful. He won another Intercontinental Title, and that's cool and all, but.. stop me if you've heard this one before.. his personal demons interfered again, and he was suspended from the company for 60 days after violating the Wellness Policy for the second time. Nearly two years after the #14 appearance in the Rumble, however, he won the WWE Title, marking his official arrival as a major singles star. That reign only lasted a month, though, as Matt Hardy would turn on him, leading to a comically bad feud between the brothers. In June 2009, Hardy won the World Title, only to lose it immediately after CM Punk cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase. Hardy would win the title back, but drop it right back to Punk, as the two were playing "hot potato" with the title. Punk then defeated Hardy in a match that had a stipulation stating Hardy would have to leave the company if he lost. It was done to give Jeff time away from wrestling to heal his body after the numerous injuries he had suffered through the years. Instead of taking a break, though, Hardy went to TNA, where he has not only won the TNA World Title on two occasions, but has also dealt with a very public breakdown, which caused him to lose a pay-per-view main event in 90 seconds. Throw in the legal issues that he's had to deal with since January 2007, and you have one helluva roller coaster ride, filled with the highest of highs (no pun intended) and some of the lowest of lows.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 7
2008 - Umaga
At one point, it really looked as though Umaga could eventually reach main event status. He was an incredibly gifted athlete for a man of his size, and was a solid in-ring worker that was getting more over all the time. After he was #14 in the Rumble, though.. the train derailed. After doing a bit of nothing for a while, his 2008 was cut short by torn knee ligaments. His 2009 featured a brief return, and then a multiple-month hiatus for no apparent reason, followed by the "humanization" of his character. In June 2009, he was released after refusing rehab, following his second Wellness Policy violation. Six months later, he was dead, the victim of two heart attacks brought on by drug use.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 8
2009 - Finlay
2009 saw him rise to the main event scene of ECW, but he was unsuccessful in multiple tries to win the ECW Title. Later in the year, he suffered an eye injury which caused him to miss a month of action. At the end of 2009, he was unsuccessful in his quest to win the Intercontinental Title, basically ending his regular in-ring career with the company. In March of last year, he was fired from the company (he was an agent for the company at the time) after an incident at a house show he was in charge of saw the national anthem interrupted by The Miz. Not a whole lot of major downfalls, short of losing his job there at the end, but still nothing but negatives here.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6.5
2010 - MVP
He's another name that looked to have the main event in his future at one point, but then that pesky #14 spot showed up. A failed attempt at winning the United States Title followed. A failed attempt at winning Money In The Bank followed. A failed attempt at winning the Intercontinental Title followed. Being the first elimination during his match at Survivor Series followed. Before 2010 was over, he asked for, and was granted, his official release from the company. 2011 saw him have a five-month reign as the IWGP Intercontinental Champion, but even the biggest MVP fan would tell you that his time wrestling in Japan has been a bit of a disappointment thus far. Obviously, there's still time for that to change, but so far.. he's just another victim of the curse.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6.5
2011 - Chris Masters
He had a very successful 2011.. on Superstars, so it doesn't really count. After the Rumble, he had five matches on television, and lost them all. He was released from the company in August. So, in nearly seven months, he wrestled on television five times. Not the greatest of averages right there, folks, and he is the latest name to add to the list of those who are released within months of making that dreaded #14 appearance in the Rumble.
Curse, on a scale from 1-10: 6.5
The numbers don't lie, ladies and gentlemen. The curse is real. Now, with the 2012 Royal Rumble just around the corner, the question becomes.. who will enter the Rumble match at #14 this year? I'll save my prediction for later, but I want to hear from all of you. Who do you think will be #14 in the 2012 Royal Rumble match? Holla at ya boy and let me know what's on your mind.
2. Day 16 "So many moving parts.."
10:10pm: Alright, I have good news, and I have bad news. The bad news is that this isn't going to be a full Running Diary. I went out to celebrate my San Francisco 49ers winning their Playoff game this past weekend, and I had a buffet worth of king crab legs, prime rib, chicken, steak, etc, to eat, and as you can see by the time stamp, I'm running a bit short on time. The good news is that I'm still doing a Running Diary. I just might have to end up fast forwarding through things that I don't care about. Thank you, DVR.
10:15pm: We're starting the show with Mick Foley, which is a bit of a surprise. Foley, here in Anaheim. Foley, here in the same building where The Rock tried to bash his brains in with a steel chair during an "I Quit" match many years ago.
10:17pm: Foley says that he wants to fulfill a final dream, and that dream is to wrestle in front of his two youngest kids, who were too young to see him perform during his career. He announces that he's interested in competing in this year's Royal Rumble, but before that can truly sink in, Vickie Guerrero interrupts him to introduce the man who could very well be the next WWE Champion, Dolph Ziggler, and his hot pink shirt.
10:20pm: Ziggler is upset that Foley wants to steal the spotlight away from people who have been working hard all year long for a possible spot at WrestleMania.
10:21pm: Dolph with a funny impression of Mick's kids celebrating their father being in the Rumble, only to watch him get eliminated from the match in mere seconds.
10:23pm: Ziggler brings up a good point. It would be quite the disappointment if Foley won the Royal Rumble and went on to be in the main event of WrestleMania.
10:24pm: "IT'S OVER! GO HOME! BUY A NEW SHIRT, EAT A SALAD, AND JUST GO AWAY!" - Dolph Ziggler, who is money in this promo, but as he's speaking, "Cult Of Personality" interrupts him, bringing out the WWE Champion, CM Punk. You know what that means, ladies and gentlemen, so say it with me.. clusterfuck!
10:28pm: Punk with the expected "I don't care if the deck is stacked against me, I'm the best in the world, so I'm going to win" argument, but before things can continue, we're joined by John Laurinaitis, turning this into a major clusterfuck.
10:30pm: Laurinaitis says that he's been thinking about Foley's Royal Rumble request, but turns him down, which is followed by Vickie hilariously and obnoxiously laughing in Foley's face to end the segment.
10:31pm: It is revealed that Epico & Primo won the Tag Team Title at a house show over the weekend, and for tonight's first match, we have the rematch. Epico & Primo VS Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne.
10:34pm: Wait.. what? In under three minutes, Epico & Primo pick up the victory, complete with Evan Bourne selling the Backstabber like a star. I don't think it's a coincidence that we get a rumor about Triple H not liking Evan Bourne, followed soon thereafter by Bourne and Kingston losing the titles, and then losing the rematch so quickly.
10:35pm: John Laurinaitis is in his office, telling someone about tonight's main event. It will be a six-man tag, with Mark Henry teaming with Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga to take on the team of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and the person who Laurinaitis is talking to.. as the camera pulls back to reveal it was Chris Jericho. Jericho then turns the lights out and turns his jacket on (which is a strange thing to have to type) and stands there, shining. Alright.
10:38pm: Next up is a match we were supposed to be getting this week, and then we heard we weren't going to get, after all.. Zack Ryder defending the United States Title against Jack Swagger.
10:41pm: Well, I'll be damned.. Swagger absolutely destroys Ryder and wins the United States Title in less than three minutes. Yes, it did take three Gutwrench Powerbombs for Swagger to finally get the win, but he dominated the match from beginning to end. The Zack Ryder Experiment seems to be over with a very loud thud. Trust me.. I have a lot to say about this in the next episode of the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable, which should be posted before tomorrow's column goes up.
10:43pm: John Laurinaitis shows up in the trainer's room to apologize to Zack Ryder for placing him in a match when he wasn't medically cleared. The decision still stands, though, apparently. There goes the company picking and choosing when to enforce rules again.
10:44pm: The absolutely worthless piece of shit human being, Perez Hilton, is out to be the ring announcer for the following match.. Kelly Kelly & Alicia Fox VS The Bella Twins. How fitting. Boy, WWE sure knows what celebrities appeal to their core audience, don't they?
10:46pm: Kelly rolls up one of the twins for the win. Who fucking cares?
10:47pm: One of the Bellas weakly shoves Perez, who falls to the mat as if he took a shotgun shell to the face, only to immediately pop back up, making a mockery of the wrestling business. Get this fucking fa..[Notice: This section has been edited for content by GLAAD.]
10:48pm: R-Truth is out, but before he can say a single word, he is interrupted by Wade Bar-ruh, who is walking to the ring in his underwear, for some reason.
10:50pm: "I miss your smile, Wade." - WHOA. #StopThatThats[Notice: This section has been edited for content by GLAAD.]
10:51pm: I don't have time for this. Time to fast forward.
10:52pm: Hey, another clusterfuck! The Miz comes out to attack R-Truth, but then.. ohhh, but then.. it's a shameful thing, Lobster Head! Too many limes! Too many limes! Teddy Long just made this a four-man Over The Top Rope Challenge, but that doesn't matter because I don't have any more room in my stomach with all of these limes! I spent well over an hour eating expensive food while a mermaid swam around in the two-story aquarium next to the table (I'm not kidding), so I'm full, but you have the nerve to present all of these limes to me, Bernice?!? You're a cold, callous person, and I might never forgive you! You will respect me! I'm a Regional Manager! I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!!!
10:55pm: R-Truth wins. Whatever works.
10:55pm: A very angry John Cena barges into John Laurinaitis' office, upset that Laurinaitis put Zack Ryder in a match when he wasn't medically cleared. Laurinaitis feels Cena should be focusing on two things.. one, his match at the Royal Rumble against KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE, and two, his match with Jack Swagger, coming up next. This isn't really fair to Swagger, is it?
10:57pm: Back from the commercial break, Swagger gets the jobber entrance. He won the United States Title not even 20 minutes ago, you know.
10:58pm: Cena wastes no time, and he's destroying Swagger. We've seen Cena wrestle with anger and aggression in the past, and it leads to some brutal beatdowns, and this looks to be no different.
11:00pm: Cena is punching the holy hell out of Swagger, whose face is turning red from all of the shots. Goodness gracious.
11:01pm: Cena goes to smash Swagger's head in between the ring steps, but is interrupted by KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE's music. KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE himself appears on the TitanTron, applauding Cena for finally embracing the hate. WHAT THE FUCK SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?!? HE APPLAUDS CENA FOR EMBRACING THE HATE, BUT HE INTERRUPTS HIM AND PREVENTS HIM FROM DOING THE MOST DASTARDLY PART OF THE ATTACK?!? Raw writers, you guys are fucking idiots.
11:03pm: Somebody call my mama, because it's time for The Funkasaurus himself, Brodus Clay. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr, Job This Guy actually gets to appear on Raw this week. Good luck.
11:05pm: Wait.. hold up just one minute.. Brodus just pulled the old trick where he pointed to the crowd, and then punched JTG in the face after JTG turned to look at what Brodus was pointing at. Awesome.
11:06pm: Brodus Clay wins with his finisher that is called "Ahh, Funk It", according to Michael Cole. That one's going to be fun to say.
11:07pm: Before tonight's main event, Daniel Bryan gets to cut a promo. No actual health update on AJ after she was run over by Big Show on Smackdown, but Bryan says AJ is "traumatized" because of the incident. Shit, I don't blame her.
11:08pm: Bryan says he'll make Big Show pay if he ever shows his face again. There's that bravado again.
11:09pm: "Last week, she told me that she loved me, and I appreciate that. This Friday, I'm going to show her exactly how much." - Man, if this isn't a typical guy, I don't know what is. He's afraid to say "I love you".
11:10pm: Chris Jericho comes out for the main event, and we go to commercial break. We come back from break with Jericho's music still playing, and Jericho celebrating at ringside, but the camera cuts to show the heel team is now in the ring. Did they all come out during the break to Jericho's music? What the hell is going on?
11:12pm: CM Punk. Daniel Bryan. Chris Jericho. All on the same team. That's quite the smark dream team right there.
11:13pm: Come to think of it.. Dolph Ziggler is on the other team. Mark Henry is also getting more popular with smarks. Then, more than countering all of that smarky goodness, is David Otunga, who is every bit as bad a worker as the other guys are good. Cue up Sesame Street.. "one of these things is not like the others.. one of these things just isn't the same".
11:16pm: The crowd is going crazy for Jericho, who gets hot tagged into the match, and then.. does his usual celebrating schtick, tags Daniel Bryan in, and walks out. You could see that coming a mile away. It's as if the writers knew the fans were getting sick of the bullshit, but still wanted Jericho to go at least another week without actually saying a word. Nothing can be delivered to you in many different forms, folks, but no matter what, it's still nothing. Because it's Jericho, though, some of you will still continue to find this amazing. If it were someone like Batista, though, damn near all of you would say it was stupid and a waste of time, making you precisely the type of hypocrites that Jericho used to make fun of in his promos.
11:19pm: Bryan and Henry fight their way out of the match, and to the backstage area, so Mick Foley is now on his way to the ring. He stands in the corner, tells the referee it has been cleared by John Laurinaitis, and now is CM Punk's tag team partner against Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga. We had two clusterfuck segments already tonight, and now we have a clusterfuck of a match. It was a tag team match, then a six-man tag match, then a handicap match, then a handicap match for the other team, and is now a tag match again and features someone who wasn't even in the match to begin with. My head just exploded.
11:23pm: Foley completely rips Santino's gimmick off, pulls a sock out and puts it over his hand to use on David Otunga. Foley couldn't come up with something for himself? Geez. Foley and Punk win. I guess.
11:24pm: ..aaaaand here comes John Laurinaitis with the shocking news that he never cleared Foley to participate in the match. Therefore, he has no choice but to reverse the decision, making Ziggler, Henry and Otunga the winners.
11:25pm: Punk has had enough, and he rips the microphone away from Laurinaitis. Within seconds, the TV-PG thing goes out the window, as Punk tells Laurinaitis to take his balls out of his purse.
11:26pm: Uh-oh.. it's "pipe bomb" time. Punk's "shooting" again, discussing how badly Laurinaitis sucked during his in-ring career. The word "ass" has now been used a couple times.
11:28pm: Punk said "ass" again. With every sentence Punk says, Laurinaitis looks more and more upset, to the point where it really seems legit. Punk acts like he's going to hit Laurinaitis, and Laurinaitis flinches, drawing laughter from the crowd.
11:29pm: Damn.. Laurinaitis looks like he wants to stab someone. How convenient, because Mick Foley is still in the ring, and that guy has a high tolerance for pain.
11:30pm: lol @ Laurinaitis still delivering his "I am John Laurinaitis, and I am the Executive Vice President, blah blah blah" line. That's great.
11:31pm: The deck is officially stacked against CM Punk at the Royal Rumble now. After a few more seconds of being made fun of by Mick Foley, Laurinaitis admits that he's going to screw Punk over at the Rumble. He tells Foley that he's sick and tired of being disrespected, and then he hits him with the microphone and walks away to end the show. An entirely new level of intrigue for the WWE Title match is upon us.
#ThankYouKingCrabLegsAndPrimeRib: Dolph Ziggler's promo in the opening segment.. Jack Swagger winning the United States Title.. John Cena wrestling with an angry streak.. Brodus Clay continuing to win people over.. Character advancement for John Laurinaitis
#FuckYouItis: Three clusterfucks in a single show.. Still no advancement in the tag division, even with new champions.. Perez Hilton continuing to be a fucking clown.. Jack Swagger basically getting squashed within minutes of winning the United States Title.. KAAAAANNNNNEEEEE congratulating John Cena for embracing the hate, while preventing him from truly embracing the hate.. Disappointing night of in-ring action
2.9125 Day 17 "Size doesn't matter.."
Gonna be a relatively short column tonight, so let's get on with it.
I've lost track of just how many times the following question has been sent my way, from readers, friends, family members, random wrestling fans, etc..
"Should WWE bring back the Cruiserweights?"
It's a simple enough question, isn't it?
It's been a while since we've seen the Cruiserweight Title. Hornswoggle, of all people, was the last Cruiserweight Champion, but he won the title back in the summer of 2007. That's a long time ago. That might as well be 30 years ago with the way wrestling companies think our attention spans work. With the focus of World Wrestling Entertainment shifting towards smaller and/or faster workers in recent years, more and more people wonder if it would behoove the company to bring the Cruiserweight Division back, title and all.
My answer is simple.
See? I told you it was simple.
Don't get me wrong.. I was a big fan of the Cruiserweights. I've been a fan of that type of performer since I first saw WCW bring in the Light Heavyweight Division, with guys like "Flyin" Brian Pillman and Jushin "Thunder" Lyger. Those types of workers can be incredibly fun to watch as they "flip, flop & fly" around the ring. I'm not one of those wrestling fans who say they don't want to watch a bunch of "vanilla/chocolate/butterscotch/caramel midgets". That's not the reason I don't want the Cruiserweight Division to return.
Instead, my reasoning is the current non-main event scene on the WWE roster, both for Raw and Smackdown. How many meaningful storylines are going on with midcarders these days? Ones that get regular television time. Exactly. A large percentage of the WWE roster can't even get television time these days, and the ones that do find themselves on television often find themselves just participating in random matches here and there, with no actual storylines going on. You know a Cruiserweight Division is going to require some new workers being brought in. I know, I know.. there are plenty of workers already on the roster that can participate..
- Cody Rhodes
- Daniel Bryan
- Dolph Ziggler
- Evan Bourne
- Heath Slater
- Jey Uso
- Jimmy Uso
- Justin Gabriel
- Kofi Kingston
- Rey Mysterio
- Sin Cara
- Trent Barreta
- Tyson Kidd
- Yoshi Tatsu
Before anyone says it.. I didn't include all of those names to say that those are the ones I'd put in the division. Those are just the names on the current roster that would fit under the weight limits of the Cruiserweight Division, no matter what they're currently doing, or what titles they currently happen to have. The thing is, though.. not all of those names will be members of the company for the next several years, even if a Cruiserweight Division is brought back. Then you need to look at guys from, say, TNA. Smaller guys. Guys from the X-Division who would love to work for WWE, but feel that they're too small to "cut it" in TitanLand. If the Cruiserweight Division was brought back, those guys would be much more likely to look in WWE's direction when their contracts were coming to an end. Guys from the indy scene that might not otherwise be scouted by WWE due to their size would find themselves smack dab in the middle of WWE's radar almost overnight. There are 18 names on the above list, but just for example's sake, let's remove a couple of them. Perhaps the guys in regular tag teams.. Epico, Primo, and The Usos. If you want to be technical about it, that also removed Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston. That takes six names away, leaving 12 people. Now, let's remove the guys that are too far up the card to compete in the division. Goodbye, Daniel Bryan. Goodbye, Dolph Ziggler. Goodbye, Rey Mysterio. Goodbye, Cody Rhodes. Four more names removed, leaving eight on the list. That leaves the list looking as follows..
- Heath Slater
- Justin Gabriel
- Sin Cara
- Trent Barreta
- Tyson Kidd
- Yoshi Tatsu
Even if you take the top names from FCW, like Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, and put them on the list, that damn sure isn't a division that people would want to see. Of the above eight names, only Justin Gabriel and Sin Cara are even remotely over, and even then, it's spotty. The company would absolutely, positively need to reach out to workers all over the planet to come in and make the division worthwhile. That's a whole bunch of new talent for the WWE writers to find time and space for, and they've failed on an epic level in doing that for the current roster.
There are only four hours of WWE programming on television. Two hours per show (I NOES MY MATHS). Something tells me WWE isn't going to decide to do the following two things..
- Strictly enforce the brand split, keeping Raw talent on Raw only, and Smackdown talent on Smackdown only
- Add an extra two-hour show every week, for both Raw and Smackdown
That might be what it would take get something like a Cruiserweight Division to work. It wouldn't make sense to bring it back, including the Cruiserweight Title, only to have it defended on WWE.com-only shows. That would be a waste of time and money for a company that is already wasting far too much of both.
Sorry, folks.. I just don't see it coming back, nor do I want it to right now.
4. Day 18 "Back, but not for long.."
What if we're all being trolled?
I know we're being trolled, but I'm talking about really being trolled.
With Chris Jericho's return to wrestling a few weeks ago, it has brought upon all sorts of discussion. Is this all a genius way of turning Jericho heel? Will it lead to him actually becoming even more over? How long will the trolling last?
Here's my question, though..
What if he's not really back at all?
He's been on Raw three times now, and during those three weeks, the most physicality he's been involved with was tagging in and out of the six-man tag match this past Monday night. He's been more physical during his few house show appearances, but even then, it's nothing more than punching a random heel (usually David Otunga) and then locking them in the Walls Of Jericho/Liontamer (depending on how he feels like performing the move on that particular night). Obviously, he hasn't cut an actual promo yet. He's just been.. "there".
Think back to Jericho's tweets before he returned. Think back to how adamant he was that he'd never wrestle again. Everyone, myself included, felt that he was trying to troll Twitter and to try his best to keep his return a secret.
What if he meant it, though?
He left wrestling so that he could focus on other things in his life. Those "other things" might be more time consuming now than ever before. Fozzy is a bigger band than they were then, and just signed a new record deal. His appearances on non-wrestling television have made him a bigger name in Hollywood. After all this time away, I can't really see him giving that up to go back to wrestling on a regular basis and wearing his body down.
Without question, the company contacted him (and probably several times during his absence) to come back. Let's say, for the sake of my example, that he told the company he didn't want to wrestle anymore. It wouldn't be impossible to picture both sides being able to come together for something beneficial to both sides. WWE would feel that Jericho is a draw, and would bring attention to the product. Jericho would get paid for his appearances, wouldn't have to wrestle, and would be able to continue pursuing other ventures in his life.
It would also fit in with his tweets about not wanting to return to wrestling unless he could do something different. Whether you love or hate the "trolling", that would certainly be something that could be classified as "different".
Of course, the Jericho fans would be disappointed that they wouldn't be able to see him wrestle, but hey, it would be his choice, so he'd be the only one to blame if it went down like that.
There's just one issue with that scenario..
The "It Begins" videos.
You could say that having those videos for Jericho would be a waste if he didn't wrestle. However, those videos are already looking to be a waste, since they have absolutely no connection to Jericho to this point. I have a solution to that, though.
Chris Jericho is the biggest "red herring" in wrestling history.
- Jericho isn't going to wrestle?
- Jericho was never the person behind the "It Begins" videos?
- At some point in the perhaps-not-too-distant future, someone else will show up to be the actual person behind the videos?
Because a lot of the speculation involved him, let's use The Undertaker as a part of this example. At some point between Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, Chris Jericho appears on Raw for yet another promo-but-not-promo promo. He's found his 29th different way to not say anything for a few minutes, and right as he's about to leave, the lights go out.. the oh-so-familiar bell tolls.. and when the lights come back on, The Undertaker is standing behind Jericho. A Chokeslam, Last Ride or Tombstone later, and Jericho is gone from the company. Again.
It would tie up some loose ends. Taker returns for his annual WrestleMania push, we find out who is really behind the videos, etc. If the company is really feeling froggy, and they want to try something different, they could even go with Taker's real wife, Michelle McCool, to return with Taker as the "she" that was mentioned in some of the videos. That would probably require a Taker that is closer to the "American Badass" than the "Deadman", but that's fine.
Hell, if you want a slight twist on the scenario, Taker could return to attack Jericho, which would then lead to Taker VS Jericho at WrestleMania. It wouldn't take much to have Taker say that Jericho "stole his thunder", returning to the company and stealing Taker's spotlight when the videos were for him, etc. While I personally don't want to see the match (I'm sure it would be fine, but it won't have anywhere near the same level of buzz that a Taker match at WrestleMania should have, because the average wrestling fan doesn't see Jericho as anywhere near the threat to "The Streak" as Shawn Michaels and Triple H in the last three years), The Undertaker VS Chris Jericho is one of the few "dream match" bouts left that we haven't seen before, and it's one that the IWC has been calling for.
I'm not saying anything I've mentioned in tonight's column will happen. I'm just throwing it out there to test the waters, so to speak, and see what all of you have to say. I will say this, though.. it's pretty clear that this Chris Jericho situation isn't over, and something will change soon, one way or another.
5. Day 19 "He didn't do a thing.."
"What the? It's been two minutes already?"
"You know as well as anyone, Book, that the action is fast and furious in the Royal Rumble!"
"Up next is #28. Who will it be?"
"AWWWWWEEEEESSSSSOOOOOMMMMMEEEEE! I came to play.."
"Yes! The Miz with a fantastic number here! He's got to be considered the favorite right now!"
"Come on, Cole.. everyone knows he's your favorite all the time."
Miz hits the ring, and he goes straight after R-Truth, who was punching Heath Slater in the corner. Slater uses the time to find a safe spot to recover for a few seconds, but that's all he gets, as Brodus Clay hits him with a forearm shot to the back of the neck. Also in the ring at the moment are John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Santino, Kofi Kingston, and Christian.
Within seconds, Brodus backs up, dances for a second or two, then clotheslines Slater over the top rope and down to the floor. Slater is eliminated. It's a typical Royal Rumble scene.. plenty of people in the ring at one time, with punches and kicks flying everywhere. The Miz, still using his sneak attack on R-Truth to his advantage, has Truth halfway over the top rope, and is trying his hardest to finish the elimination. He finally gets Truth onto the apron, but can't quite send him down to the floor. As Truth tries to get back up to his feet, Miz takes a step back and tries to rush Truth down to the floor, but Truth low bridges him by pulling the top rope down, and Miz goes flying down to the floor. Miz is eliminated. As Truth gets back into the ring, he looks at a seething Miz and yells "YOU JUST GOT GOT!" to a nice pop from the crowd.
"The next entrant has a very nice spot, King. #29, and there aren't many people left in the match."
"Two spots left to enter, and eight men already in the ring. We're coming down to the wire here."
"Whoa! Hey! Whoa! Hey! Somebody gon' get they ass kicked.. somebody gon' get they wig split.."
"Ohhh my! The World's Strongest Man, looking to induct everyone in the ring into the Hall Of Pain tonight!"
"The big homie, Mark Henry! He don't look happy!"
"You right, King. You right. How are the rest of these guys going to eliminate a 400-pound animal like this?!?"
Santino is the unluckiest man in the world, because he just so happens to be the closest to Henry when Henry gets into the ring. Within seconds, Santino's Royal Rumble dream is over and he's damn near tossed into the fourth row. Santino is eliminated. Kofi Kingston and Christian put the heel/face alignment to the side in an attempt to team up and eliminate Henry, but his power is too much, and he knocks Christian away with ease, and then sends Kofi over the top rope. Kofi is eliminated. That leaves Mark Henry, Christian, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Brodus Clay, and Sheamus in the ring.
R-Truth and Sheamus get a brief advantage over Henry with a double-team attack, but again, it doesn't last long, as Henry lays them both out with a headbutt, first with Sheamus and then Truth. John Cena is next, and he starts slugging it out with Henry, while Christian and Sheamus fight nearby. Cena actually starts to get the upper hand and starts to lay into Henry. He gets Henry down after two straight flying shoulder tackles, and he goes to line himself up for a Five Knuckle Shuffle.
"If ya smeeeeelllll.. what The Rock.. is cookin.."
"The Rock is here in St Louis!"
Cena's attention is diverted to the entrance way, and he walks to the ropes, waiting for The Rock. He waits..
..but The Rock doesn't appear.
As Cena continues to be distracted, Dolph Ziggler sneaks up behind him and dumps him over the top rope. Cena is eliminated.
"John Cena has been eliminated!"
"Obviously, The Rock is playing mind games with Cena, and Cena's not going to be happy about this one bit!"
Ziggler immediately begins showing off, breaking out into jumping jacks, but that offers R-Truth the opportunity to clothesline Dolph from behind. Ziggler is eliminated. As Cena and Ziggler begin fighting at ringside, the men remaining in the ring are Mark Henry, Brodus Clay, Christian, Sheamus, and R-Truth. Almost immediately, Christian and Sheamus, who have been going back-and-forth the entire time, tumble over the top rope together and hit the floor. Sheamus is eliminated. Christian is eliminated.
"Here we go, ladies and gentlemen.. the final spot in the 2012 Royal Rumble match. Who had the luckiest draw of them all?"
As the countdown continues and the fans are pretty much all looking at the entrance, Mark Henry throws R-Truth out of the ring. Truth is eliminated. Henry and Brodus Clay have a face off in the middle of the ring, and the crowd pop for it, while waiting to see who the final entrant in the Rumble is.
"Break the walls DOWWWWWNNNNN!"
Jericho appears at the entrance way in his light-up jacket, and he turns around, pumping his fists and smiling big. He points to the fans at each end of the stage area, yelling "Come on, baybay!" with each point. Henry and Clay have finally engaged in fisticuffs, and are sending each other rocking with each shot. Jericho continues taking his time, high-fiving fans and posing for pictures on his way to the ring.
"I can't say that I blame Jericho here. I sure wouldn't want to get in the ring while Brodus Clay and Mark Henry. That's 800 pounds of angry men."
"Gotta agree with you, Cole. Jericho's a helluva competitor, but he's fixin to get his head knocked off his shoulders if he gets in there right now."
Brodus goes to pick up Henry for a slam, but he can't quite get him. Henry gains the advantage and goes to lift Brodus for a World's Strongest Slam, but he can't quite lift him up, either. On the outside, Jericho continues to parade around and high-five fans in the first few rows.
"This is the same thing we've seen from Jericho since he made his return to the company at the beginning of the month. He still hasn't said a word, and nobody knows what's on his mind."
Brodus and Mizark continue to brawl, with both men gaining an advantage for a brief moment. Brodus has Henry backed up against the ropes, and is leaning on him, trying to dump him out. Jericho stops high-fiving fans long enough to see what's taking place in the ring, and he basically turns into a cheerleader, yelling out "Come on" and jumping up and down. Brodus delivers some clubbing shots to Henry's chest, trying to stop Henry's fight. Henry, on the other hand, is trying to use his strength to push Clay off of him, but at 375 some-odd pounds, The Funkasaurus isn't exactly easy to push around. Brodus is really leaning into his shots now, and all of the weight of the two bodies is really putting a lot of stress on the top rope. It keeps sagging as they keep leaning. Brodus finally has Henry so far over the top that both men begin to slowly tumble out. At that exact moment, with both men already tumbling over the top, the rope snaps, and both men crash to the floor with a loud thud.
"The ring just wasn't built to handle that kind of stress."
"Wait.. what about Jericho?"
After checking on both Brodus and Henry for a second, Jericho rolls into the ring. Multiple referees are having a conference with Lilian Garcia, who looks confused as she hears what the refs are saying.
"Ladies and gentlemen.. the referees' decision is that both Mark Henry and Brodus Clay were already going over the top rope as it broke. Therefore.. the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble is.. Chris Jericho!"
Lilian almost sounds as if she's asking whether or not Jericho won the Rumble, and Jericho celebrates wildly, as if he just won the WWE Title, the Super Bowl, the World Series, and the Stanley Cup all at the same time. He runs laps around the ring, occasionally jumping up and down, playing the air guitar.
"What in the hell just happened?!?"
"Chris Jericho just won the Royal Rumble without actually doing anything. He's on his way to main event WrestleMania 28 in Miami, Florida, and we still have no idea what's on his mind!"
"What a night. Will we finally hear from him tomorrow?"
Hey.. stranger things have happened.
6. Day 20 "What happens in Vegas.."
8:00pm: Thank you, DVR.
8:00pm: We're starting off with a video package of last week's shenaniganery between Daniel Bryan, Big Show, and AJ. It's really turning into one helluva storyline so far, and when you throw Mark Henry into the mix, things get even better. It's so good that Bryan is even winning over non-indy fans these days, which is something he's had a difficult time doing to this point in his WWE career.
8:04pm: Daniel Bryan is out for a promo, and he's coming out to the strongest crowd reaction he's seen in a long time. The storyline is really working out for him.
8:06pm: Well, he follows up the strongest crowd reaction he's had in a while by cutting damn near the exact same promo he cut on Raw this past Monday night. Alrighty then.
8:08pm: "She loves me, and I.. I have a great admiration for her, as well." - Fantastic line, furthering what I said last week.. he's a typical guy, having issues saying "I love you" to a woman.
8:10pm: Bryan thinks the only honorable thing Big Show can do after injuring AJ is to quit wrestling. Michael Cole, showing how much he really dislikes Bryan, is still disagreeing with him, even though Bryan has basically turned heel (without officially turning heel, of course).
8:11pm: It's time for the Roulette Wheel, and first to spin it is Cody Rhodes.
8:12pm: It lands on "Player's Choice". Teddy Long reveals that it means Cody has a match next, but that he (Cody) can pick his own opponent. He points off-camera and says "I pick him", and the camera pans to Ezekiel Jackson. Quickly, Cody says "not him", and then points to someone behind Zeke, and it's.. Hornswoggle. Cody Rhodes VS Hornswoggle is up next. Wonderful.
8:15pm: Justin Gabriel comes out and begins brawling with Cody, before cutting a promo, telling Cody to "pick on someone his own size". Cody agrees to face Gabriel here, but only if it's non-title. Well, this is certainly better than what we were supposed to be getting here.
8:16pm: Could this be the beginning of pushing Gabriel back to the point we all thought he'd be at several months ago?
8:20pm: Rhodes wins. That was a short match, but it was action-packed and it saw Gabriel booked strong, actually picking up some believable near-falls. This might not be the last time we see Rhodes and Gabriel square off.
8:21pm: Roulette Wheel time again. Mark Henry is there to spin the wheel, and he'll see what type of match he'll have against Daniel Bryan tonight for the World Title.
8:22pm: It's going to be a Lumberjack Match. Very interesting.
8:22pm: Our next match, according to Lilian Garcia, is a Tag Team Tornado match, and out first are the new Tag Team Champions, Epico & Primo.
8:23pm: Watching Rosa Mendes dance never gets old.
8:24pm: The Usos are out next. Alright, this could be a lot of fun. It wasn't announced as being for the titles, but Josh Matthews just asked if The Usos can win the titles here, so I'm guessing that means the belts are on the line.
8:27pm: Listening to Rosa Mendes speak Spanish does get old.
8:27pm: Epico & Primo win. So, they've defeated the former champions, and now the only other regular tag team on the roster. What the hell do they do next? Just face The Usos every other week for the next two months until Evan Bourne returns from his suspension?
8:28pm: It's time for the Roulette Wheel again. Sheamus steps in, and he's up to spin the wheel for his upcoming match with Wade Bar-ruh. Or.. Aksana could spin the wheel for Sheamus. Whatever.
8:30pm: Tables Match. Seems like Sheamus or Bar-ruh has been involved in the last 20 Tables Matches that we've seen on WWE programming, but whatever.
8:30pm: Funk is on a roll! The Funkasaurus is out, and it's time for a Dance Off. Could this end up being the most entertaining Dance Off the company has had in a while?
8:31pm: Brodus continues to be more over with each appearance. I'm surprised, and not surprised, all at the same time.
8:32pm: Vickie Guerrero is out next. Wait.. she's Brodus' opponent for the Dance Off? Lawdamercy.
8:33pm: Vickie just cut a promo, ending with her saying "for shizzle". Wow.
8:33pm: Did Vickie just do Elaine's dance from Seinfeld? Whaaaaat?
8:34pm: Brodus dances. His dancers dance, as dancers tend to do, and it gets a very nice pop from the crowd.
8:35pm: Brodus wins, but William Regal is out now, and I'm marking out!
8:36pm: "HOW DARE YOU MOCK THIS BUXOM WENCH?!?" - William Regal, to the Las Vegas crowd.
8:36pm: Brodus, shouting out LoP's very own Crow, challenges Regal to another Dance Off. Oh. My. God.
8:37pm: LMAO @ Regal's dancing and the extremely happy look on his face, but then he's hit with "Ahh, Funk It" by Brodus, which actually draws boos from the crowd. Brodus then wins the crowd back my saying "My Bad. Somebody call his mama.", which gets another big pop. That.. that was quite the segment.
8:39pm: It's a shameful thing, Lobster Head! Too many limes! Too many limes! We're in Las Vegas, surrounded by 3984 casinos, and you've apparently found the only one where you can win limes instead of chips, and you've gone all Phil Hellmuth on me, winning several lifetimes worth of these damn fruits! You have the strangest luck of anyone I've ever met in my life, and I don't know why I continue to associate with you! How the hell are we supposed to bring all of these back on the plane?!? We need to buy a new luggage set, and then deal with customs just to deal with all of the transported food! You're costing me way too much money, Montecore! I don't deserve this! I'm a district manager! I DRIVE A DODGE STRATUS!
8:44pm: Hard-hitting match to this point. No surprise there.
8:44pm: Sheamus with a shot that sends Bar-ruh flying over a table, crashing into the announce table. Would have been funny if the table would have given way upon impact, giving Sheamus the match unplanned.
8:47pm: Sheamus is about to put Bar-ruh through a table with a Celtic Cross, but Jinder Mahal runs out and distracts Sheamus enough for Bar-ruh to get the advantage and put Sheamus through the table for the win. The Sheamus VS Mahal feud just won't end.
8:48pm: After Bar-ruh leaves the ring, Jinder sets another table up, but before he can put Sheamus through it, he eats a Brogue Kick and then gets sent through the table instead. All of which, might I add, he did without changing his facial expression one time.
8:50pm: Ted DiBiase is out for our next match, and his opponent is Hunico, accompanied to the ring by Camacho and DA BYSICKLE!
8:51pm: Roulette Wheel to determine what type of match this will be, and it's going to be a.. Flag Match. Did they have a flag for every country of every Smackdown superstar in the backstage area, just in case? They just so happened to have a Mexican flag for this? It's almost as if they knew this match was going to happen beforehand!
8:56pm: DiBiase wins. You know what, though? That was another brief-yet-entertaining match.
8:57pm: On to the backstage area again, and this time, it's Teddy Long and Drew McIntyre again. Teddy fires Drew to a nice pop from the crowd, but Santino steps in and requests a rematch with "Drew McIntosh" to prove his last win over him wasn't a fluke. Long agrees, and McIntyre spins the wheel to see what type of match they'll be having.. Blindfold Match. Oh, no.
8:59pm: We come back from break, and McIntyre is already in the ring for the jobber entrance, but Santino is more than halfway to the ring before his music even hits. That was weird.
9:00pm: lol @ Santino pulling out a blindfold for the Cobra, as well.
9:03pm: Santino wins. The match was everything you would expect it to be, considering the people involved and the stipulation thrown in. Looks like McIntyre is going to be "fired". Again.
9:04pm: It's main event time. Daniel Bryan VS Mark Henry in a Lumberjack Match for the World Title, in what seems like the tenth consecutive week that Smackdown's main event has been for the World Title. Some will view that as a bad thing, but it seems to be helping out with the show's ratings, so don't be surprised if it continues.
9:07pm: Cole is still ranting and raving about Bryan, calling him a "geek", etc. This is really going to turn into a new Hulk Hogan and Bobby Heenan situation, isn't it? If you remember, Heenan was against Hogan, no matter what side of the fence Hogan was on. He just didn't like Hogan, period. Didn't matter if it was face Hogan or heel Hogan.
9:10pm: Bryan is still being booked brilliantly in his matches. He's at such a huge size disadvantage, but he's still a skilled enough striker, and confident enough in his own abilities, that he doesn't have a problem standing toe-to-toe with his opponents.
9:12pm: ..aaaaand things have broken down, with several lumberjacks getting into the ring and beating both men down. The referee has completely bailed on the ring and is standing, confused, at ringside. The lumberjacks are now brawling with each other, turning this into a Royal Rumble preview, as Bryan sneaks away with his World Title. Looks like this will be a No Contest, but Bryan leaves as the champion again. Another fun match with another screwy ending.
9:14pm: Teddy Long stops Daniel Bryan backstage and gives him the news that Bryan will be defending the World Title at the Royal Rumble in a Triple Threat Steel Cage Match. Bryan's opponents? Mark Henry and Big Show. Holy shit, those are some long odds for the champion. Both of the top champions in the company face those long odds at the Rumble. I like it.
#ThankYouWilliamRegalForContinuingToBeStraightUpGangstaTrippin: Cody Rhodes VS Justin Gabriel was fun while it lasted.. Justin Gabriel looked strong, even in a loss, and could/should be the next challenger for the Intercontinental Title.. Epico & Primo VS The Usos was fun while it lasted.. The Dance Off, from beginning to end.. Sheamus VS Wade Bar-ruh.. Ted DiBiase VS Hunico was fun while it lasted.. Daniel Bryan VS Mark Henry.. A better crowd than the average televised audience we see on WWE programming.. Better matches than we saw last week
#FuckYouWWEForNotFindingMoreWaysToGetWilliamRegalOnTelevision: Epico & Primo now have no challengers.. The feud between Sheamus and Jinder Mahal continues to go on and on and on and on.. No ending to the World Title match.. Still more of a focus on quantity than quality when it comes to the matches
7. Day 21 "Put em in order.."
25. Santino (Last Week: Unranked) - Pinfall victory over Drew McIntyre in a Blindfold Match - On one hand, he won a match. That's fine and all. On the other hand, he beat Drew McIntyre, who is about as low on the WWE "totem pole" as there is right now, so really, what's that saying? It isn't exactly a win that will propel Santino to bigger and better things. In fact, it probably won't do much of anything for him, and he'll go right back to being a jobber on television this week. It's still a win, though, so props to him.
24. Alex Shelley (Last Week: Unranked) - Made his return on Impact and is already involved in the TNA X-Division Title scene - In last week's rankings, I said that it was definitely time for X-Division Champion Austin Aries to get a new challenger. On Impact, Alex Shelley returned and is already placed in a feud with Aries, although we now have to find out who Aries chooses as Shelley's opponent in an attempt for Shelley to earn himself a shot at the title. He's a good choice for the gig, though. He's a solid in-ring worker. He's basically viewed as a TNA "Original". He continues to be incredibly over with TNA fans.
23. Justin Gabriel (Last Week: #22) - Pinfall loss to Cody Rhodes on Smackdown.. Was still booked to look really good against the Intercontinental Champion - An interesting choice for the rankings. His one and only appearance on the week saw him lose, but he looked solid against one of the company's top upper-midcard workers, and really looks like someone that could be next-in-line for a shot at Rhodes' Intercontinental Title. As I've said on a few occasions, he's someone that is easy to market and push as a face. He's got an exciting moveset, and as a high-flier, he's someone that can be over with the younger audience, but women also like him and think he's good looking. As we've seen with people like John Cena, if you can get the women and children on your side in wrestling, you've got it made.
22. Mickie James (Last Week: Unranked) - Pinfall victory over Madison Rayne in a Cage Match on Impact - It was a heavily-promoted Knockouts match, in an era where Knockouts/Divas matches are just thrown together haphazardly. On top of that, it was a Cage Match, which is really rare for Knockouts/Divas matches from any era. Winning the match, Mickie placed herself right back into contention for the Knockouts Title. She has lost her last three matches (one by disqualification) to Knockouts Champion Gail Kim, so maybe the fourth time's the charm for Mickie.
21. Wade Bar-ruh (Last Week: Unranked) - Tables Match victory over Sheamus on Smackdown - Just to throw out some fancy statistics.. Sheamus has lost two singles matches in the last three months. Both of those matches were to Wade Bar-ruh. WWE seems to really be going out of their way to "protect" Sheamus, but that "protection" doesn't matter when Bar-ruh is in the ring, apparently. It makes Bar-ruh yet another mismanaged WWE midcard worker, because he can be successful against Sheamus, but then he'll lose to other upper-midcarders or main eventers, and then go back down the card. Another thing that works against Bar-ruh, in my eyes, is that he needed Jinder Mahal's help to win the match this week, but a win is still a win, I guess. Now we'll see where it goes from here.
20. Gunner (Last Week: #24) - Pinfall victory over AJ Styles on Impact - In last week's rankings, I called Gunner's win over Rob Van Dam at Genesis the biggest singles victory of his career, and he followed that up by pinning TNA's "Golden Boy" and four-time NWA/TNA World Champion. I still have a nagging feeling that the company is only pushing him to make him look better for when Garett Bischoff inevitably steps in and beats him, but Gunner continues to win, so he continues to rise in the rankings.
19. Ted DiBiase (Last Week: #21) - Flag Match victory over Hunico on Smackdown - This is another interesting ranking, but not for anything that happened on television in the past week. We got word today that DiBiase may have legit injured his arm at a house show yesterday. The injury occurred during a match with Cody Rhodes, we got the referee throwing up the "X" sign, indicating a legit injury, and not a storyline one. If he's injured, you can pretty much rule him out for a while, but if he can hang around, he's another WWE midcard name that gets the "yo-yo" push, going up and then down and then up and then down, but he has momentum going for him now.
18. Mick Foley (Last Week: Unranked) - Pinfall victory (with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan & Chris Jericho) over Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry & David Otunga (although the official decision was overturned afterwards).. He actually got to wrestle for his two youngest children, who weren't old enough to watch him the last time he wrestled - There wasn't a whole lot that he did this week, but he was effective in what little he was involved in. He showed up on Raw with the storyline reasoning that he wanted to be able to wrestle again so that his two youngest children could actually watch him. While John Laurinaitis denied him a spot in the Royal Rumble, he still got to wrestle in the show's main event, so he still technically got what he wanted. Hooray?
17. Eric Young (Last Week: Unranked) - Disqualification victory over Angelina Love on Impact.. Continues to be entertaining, despite shitty booking and nothing but comedic segments - I'm still not a huge fan of Eric Young, but he's working miracles with what he's being given, that's for sure. He gets nothing but comedic segments on Impact.. some of which aren't funny at all.. but he shines in them. He remains one of the more over names on the TNA roster, but it remains to be seen if the company will ever treat him as anything more than "Canadian Santino with Bret Hart's nipples" as one of my friends likes to call him whenever he sees him on television.
16. AJ Lee (Last Week: Unranked) - She's still ridiculously cute.. She gets her name mentioned 894 times on WWE programming this week, and she didn't even have to appear - I did warn you guys that AJ could find herself in these rankings for no real reason at all, and this is one of those times. Sue me.
15. Bobby Roode (Last Week: #19) - Helped to mastermind the No Contest between Jeff Hardy and James Storm on Impact, further mucking up the TNA World Title picture - He didn't do much of anything this week, but he continues to find himself one step ahead of Whatever-His-On-Screen-Job-Title-Is Sting, in an attempt to make sure he continues to be the TNA World Champion. Whether it's finding a way to be disqualified in title matches, or sending someone out to interrupt the #1 Contender's Match, making sure that nobody is in line for a shot, he's coming across as one devilishly smart worker.
14. Cody Rhodes (Last Week: #15) - Pinfall victory over Justin Gabriel on Smackdown - The only reason I didn't move him up more than the one spot is because, as I already said, Justin Gabriel was booked to look really good against him. That's not his fault, obviously, but I'm not going to skyrocket Cody up the ranks when he "barely" wins a match against someone who wasn't even on television not that long ago. He still won, though, so he gets moved up.
13. People following Chyna on Twitter (Last Week: Unranked) - Got to witness one of the single funniest rants the internet has ever seen.. Can now tell people they've watched someone have a mental breakdown live in front of their eyes - I'm absolutely, positively 100% serious. That entire soliloquy was one of the most epic walls of text I've ever read in my life, and it only got funnier (and more nonsensical) as it went on. I've read the entire thing several times, and I've yet to figure out what all of it meant. Chyna is fantastic. I hope she lives forever.
12. Chris Jericho (Last Week: #9) - Another week of trolling, and another week of everyone talking about him, even though he isn't doing any talking of his own - More nothing from Jericho leads to more discussion from the IWC. This week was different, at least, with him doing his trolling in a match, and not just a segment. We're still waiting for some sort of an explanation from Jericho himself, but the fact remains that there are more and more people growing tired of Jericho's antics with every passing week.
11. Jack Swagger (Last Week: #20) - Pinfall victory over Zack Ryder on Raw (won the United States Title).. No Contest with John Cena on Raw - After winning the United States Title, I had Swagger ranked higher than this, but holy hell, after his ass kicking at the hands of John Cena, it remains to be seen how damaged his character is, title or not. In the span of 20-30 minutes, he went from being the United States Champion, flying high and looking to bring some credibility back to the title, to looking like some job boy bitch. Insanely questionable booking, to say the least. Again, it remains to be seen just what the Cena beatdown did to Swagger's character.
10. CHIKARA & Ring Of Honor (Last Week: Unranked) - Together in an "invasion" storyline, with CHIKARA showing up at an RoH event, that has a lot of people talking - None of it matters to a lot of you, but it's such a big piece of news that the Lords Of Podcast Roundtable's latest episode (which will be posted a few hours after this column goes up) had a good-sized chunk of time devoted to it. It will be very interesting to see just where this storyline goes. Most signs point to it being nothing more than a promotional ploy for the companies running shows together in Chicago down the road, but it's still fun to speculate at this point.
9. Brodus Clay (Last Week: #17) - Pinfall victory over JTG on Raw.. Victory over Vickie Guerrero in a Dance Off on Smackdown (as well as participating in a post-segment segment with William Regal) - He keeps winning matches, albeit against jobbers. He keeps adding new things to his entrance, practically guaranteeing something fresh whenever you see him, even if it's multiple times a week. He keeps winning fans over, both on the internet and in arenas across the country. He even has his entrance music being played during intermission at the last two RoH shows. I'm telling you, ladies and gentlemen.. if it keeps on at this rate, the sky is really the limit for Brodus and this gimmick.
8. Matt Morgan & Crimson (Last Week: #10) - Pinfall victory for Crimson over Brutus Magnus on Impact - Yeah, I'm cheating a little bit by placing the TNA Tag Team Champs together again, even though only one of them really did anything this week, but hey, they're my rankings, so I'll do as I see fit. We're approaching 14 months since Crimson made his TNA debut, and he has yet to be pinned or force to submit in a match. That's quite the winning streak. Samoa Joe and Magnus remain their biggest tests, in my opinion, so we'll see if the champions can defeat them again, since it's obvious the feud isn't quite over yet.
7. John Laurinaitis (Last Week: Unranked) - Character Development on Raw - He went from a typical heel authority figure that face wrestlers didn't take seriously to trying to be more of a funny heel authority figure that face wrestlers didn't take seriously to what he is now.. someone that is seemingly sick and tired of being looked at as a joke and wants to be treated with the respect that someone in his position should receive. As I mentioned, he brought a new level of intrigue to the WWE Title match at Royal Rumble by openly admitting he was going to screw CM Punk out of his title. Don't forget, folks.. that's not something Vince McMahon really ever did with Steve Austin during their feud. You always knew Vince would go out of his way to screw Austin over, but Vince would always say that he wasn't going to do things like that, under the guise of being "in the interest of fairness". This new twist makes the Punk/Laurinaitis feud very fun, and I'm really looking forward to seeing where it goes.
6. R-Truth (Last Week: #6) - Won an Over The Top Challenge on Raw - Because of time constraints, I had to skip his pre-match promo with Wade Bar-ruh, but I did get to watch it after I posted my column, and the Pinocchio pictures made me laugh a bit. The rest of the promo was "eh", at best, though. Truth surprised me by winning the Over The Top Challenge, though. I thought, like a lot of others, that Sheamus would win, but this just adds to the momentum that Truth has.
5. Las Vegas, Nevada (Last Week: Unranked) - Much better crowd than we usually see on Smackdown - Hell, it was a much better crowd than some episodes of Raw. Smackdown's crowds are usually dead, no matter what's going on. Maybe it's the fact that they know the show is being taped. Who knows? This week's episode saw a very fun crowd, though. One that was into the show, pretty much from beginning to end, making the show more fun to watch. Thank you, Las Vegas.
4. CM Punk (Last Week: #12) - Pinfall victory (along with Daniel Bryan, Chris Jericho & Mick Foley) over Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry & David Otunga on Raw (although the official decision was overturned afterwards).. Cut another great "shoot" promo on Raw - I've seen a lot of people that are upset with the WWE Title situation right now, because they feel the focus is on Punk/Laurinaitis, when it should be on Punk/Ziggler. That's a different story for a different day, but Punk remains the common denominator there, obviously. His "shoot" on John Laurinaitis led to the aforementioned development in Laurinaitis' character, building intrigue for the outcome of the match, and allowing all three men.. Punk, Laurinaitis, and Ziggler.. an opportunity to shine in their own special way.
2.67 Anti-Zack Ryder Fans (Last Week: #5) - After months of poor showings in the ratings, Ryder dropped the United States Title on Raw - If you're a hater of Zack Ryder, you've been having a blast recently. I know it for a fact. I've seen numerous arguments that people have had with Super Chrisss on Twitter, with each argument lasting for at least 30 minutes. They're watching Ryder's push crumble before their very eyes, and the points they've continued to bring up all seem to be true. Now, we wait to see if it continues.
2. Daniel Bryan (Last Week: #1) - Cut what many feel is the best promo of his WWE career on Raw.. Pinfall victory (along with CM Punk, Chris Jericho & Mick Foley) over Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry & David Otunga on Raw (although he wasn't really involved in the match too much, and the official decision was overturned afterwards).. No Contest with Mark Henry in a Lumberjack Match on Smackdown (Retains World Title) - Another interesting week for Bryan. As far as the actual in-ring results are concerned, he was involved in another match that was thrown out, and he was involved in a clusterfuck of a match that he ran out on, but was still technically on the winning side of. On the other hand, though, his character development continues at a fantastic rate, and is one of the best things to watch in all of wrestling right now. He continues to find ways to retain the World Title, but that's going to be put to the test at the Royal Rumble, with him facing a combined 900 pounds of monster wrestlers inside of a Steel Cage.
1. Epico & Primo (Last Week: Unranked) - Pinfall victory over Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne at a house show (Won the WWE Tag Team Titles).. Pinfall victory over Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne on Raw.. Pinfall victory over The Usos on Smackdown - From being unranked to taking the top spot, in a single week. Quite the jump, but it's hard to argue against this, in my opinion. Not only did they win the Tag Team Titles, but then defeated the former champions on television, and then went on to defeat the team that everyone assumed was next-in-line for a title shot. They're on top of WWE's tag division, obviously, but they're on top at a time when there's nobody else there, and no clear direction for anything to be going in. That's a helluva week.