Last night's Wrestlemania might be the most controversial 'Mania of all-time. I have seen people call it the best Wrestlemania since WM19. I've seen others call it one of the worst Manias (and overall shows) in history. Hell, I've even seen a number of people say Wrestlemania really got started at the 8pm time-slot, with everything before that being filler (which I see some truth in). The only way for me to properly review Wrestlemania 28 is to rate each match from two different perspectives: the first, that of a casual wrestling fan (a mark, if you will), and the second, the hardcore, IWC-enthusiast fan (a smark, I suppose). Makes sense? Then let's begin.
Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in 0:18 to win the World Heavyweight Championship
From a casual perspective: Anyone who saw Wrestlemania 27 and has been following this feud since it began at February's Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View was probably not surprised to see this match get the honour as "curtain-jerker". Partly because the build-up has been questionable and unremarkable, and partly because it's SmackDown's world title match, not RAW's. Many people were expecting a show-stealing match, but instead, Sheamus hit The Brogue Kick seconds after the bell rang and became the new world heavyweight champion. Considering how well Sheamus's face turn has gone, and Bryan's transformation into the villainous and cocky S.O.B., a lot of casual fans probably enjoyed this outcome.
From an IWC perspective: This was complete bullshit. I've said for weeks how excited I was for this match, and I wasn't the only one. Bryan and Sheamus have faced off in the past, and have shown flashes of brilliance every time. With both men still reeling from being booted off the WM27 card, you knew they had something to prove last night, but management didn't give them the opportunity. I'm willing to see how this plays out, but it set a HORRIBLE tone for the rest of the show, something the opening match at Wrestlemania is not supposed to do.
Rating: -368503859 stars
Kane defeated Randy Orton in 10:56
From a casual perspective: While the build-up to this match was anything but awesome, you still had one of WWE's biggest babyfaces in Randy Orton going up against a man who was fresh off the heels of a feud with John Cena. Not many people were expecting much from this match, and having the second slot on the card surprised almost nobody. However, this was a pretty good match. Both men brought their A-game and there were very few dry spots. It was cool to see Orton kick out of a chokeslam, and I marked at Kane's chokeslam off the top rope. I can't believe Kane pinned Orton cleanly, though.
Rating: 3 stars
From an IWC perspective: Pretty much the same, as it was a surprisingly good match which saw two top stars make the most out of their limited time and show officials they both deserve better than this random feud. However, I was still reeling over the shock Daniel Bryan squash, which took away from this match, and I doubt I was the only one. But again, "Super Orton" lost - WHAT?!?!?
Rating: 2.5 stars
The Big Show defeated Cody Rhodes in 5:18 to win the Intercontinental Championship
From a casual perspective: Cody Rhodes seemingly got the upper hand on the giant every week since the two started feuding, as Show was constantly left looking like a fool. It was a midcard feud that was brilliantly hyped, as the world wanted to see Big Show get his revenge on Cody and end his Wrestlemania losing streak. The match itself was enjoyable, with Cody dominating most of the action, and getting the big man off his feet multiple times. However, Cody fell victim to the WMD and Show won the IC title for the very first time. Even Cody fans like myself was a bit happy for Big Show, especially when he shed some tears in celebration.
Rating: 2.5 stars
From an IWC perspective: Logically, Cody should have gone over last night. He is the future of the company, he has the most to gain from this rivalry, and he could have had a Wrestlemania moment of his own by pinning The World's Largest Athlete. Instead, WWE went the "feel-good" route and gave Show retribution after weeks of tormenting. I was disappointed in this match. It started off slow, but just when it started picking up after Cody hit The Disaster kick, Show hit the spear and then his finisher for the victory. Cody looked fairly impressive in defeat, but this match should have got way more than just five minutes.
Rating: 2 stars
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos defeated Beth Phoenix & Eve in 6:49
From a casual perspective: This was a fun match. Over the past year, Kelly has arguably become the face of WWE's divas division, so it made sense for her to be Maria's teammate at Wrestlemania. As for Maria, she gets major props for competing despite her injury. Not only that, but she wrestled a lot more than I thought she would. It was Wrestlemania, and it involved a celebrity, so seeing the face divas win was no shocker.
Rating: 2.5 stars
From an IWC perspective: Instead of this being the garbage, bathroom break divas match everyone thought it would be, this was surprisingly good. Kelly, despite her faults, was decent in the ring, and Beth was her usual awesome stuff. I'm really surprised this match went longer than Show vs. Cody, but it did prove something. If WWE would give their female workers decent time to wrestle on TV (at least five minutes), the division wouldn't be that bad. Seriously. Not counting the predictable finish - THE ULTIMATE ROLL-UP STRIKES AGAIN - this was probably the best women's match at Wrestlemania since Trish vs. Mickie six years earlier. Kudos to everyone involved.
Rating: 2.5 stars
The Undertaker defeated Triple H in 30:52 inside Hell In A Cell
From a casual perspective: This was the match of the night, no doubt about it. It was also the longest, but unlike their previous encounter at last year's 'Mania, the time just flew by. Of course, when you have two of the sport's greatest workers of all-time doing battle inside one of the best gimmick matches in history with a WWE Hall of Famer acting as Special Guest Referee, it's hard to go wrong. The drama and story-telling on display was top-notch, and every near-fall created by HHH made even the biggest supporters of The Undertaker's Streak sweat. This was the perfect ending to both men's careers, and they had an awesome Wrestlemania moment afterwards, as they hung onto each other and walked into the sunset. Truly breath-taking stuff
Rating: 4.75 stars
From an IWC perspective: This was a great match and everything, but what was the point in having it take place inside the cell? Apart from some irish-whips into the steel early on, this was more of a no-disqualification, no count-out match than anything else. One thing I did like was how they made their match different from last year's, although that was mainly because of Shawn Michaels' involvement. HBK played his part well, and I foolishly thought it was over when Undertaker got hit with the Sweet Chin Music/Pedigree combo. Way better than their WM27 match, but still not as good as HBK/Taker from WM25 or WM26. That being said, this was a joy to watch, as was the post-match Wrestlemania moment involving all three.
Rating: 4.25 stars
Team Johnny defeated Team Teddy in 10:38
From a casual perspective: This match went on at the perfect time, and was the right balance of comedy, drama, and wrestling. Many people thought not making it an elimination tag team match would make it shorter and less enjoyable, but all twelve men proved that theory wrong. The triple dive off the top-rope was a thing of beauty, and Santino hitting The Cobra gave Team Teddy a really close near-fall. Ryder was the man who took the pinfall for Team Teddy, but not before showing off some nice athleticism (take that, haters) and it was a distraction from Eve that cost Ryder the match, and Teddy Long his job.
My only complaint as someone who was so invested in this feud was how the emphasis post-match was on Ryder and Eve rather than Teddy losing his job. Not a great Wrestlemania moment for Long Island Iced Z.
Rating: 3.25 stars
From an IWC perspective: Pretty much what I said above, but it was interesting that Miz got the win for Team Johnny, thus ending his losing streak. It is quite possible that Miz vs. Punk could be next on the cards as Laurinaitis' way of saying thank-you to Miz for allowing him to become the GM of both shows. A fun match that helped the crowd rest after HIAC and prepare for Punk vs. Jericho.
Rating: 3 stars
CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho in 22:21 to retain the WWE Championship
From a casual perspective: This match consisted of one highlight after another. From Jericho trying to goad Punk into getting disqualified in order to win the title (shades of Christian/Orton from Money in the Bank), to Jericho yelling, "Your father's a drunk!", to Punk screaming, "Tap, you son of a bitch!", both men told a great story. It started off a bit slow, and the crowd was quiet the first 3/4s, but they came alive as soon as Jericho locked in The Walls of Jericho. Again, a really good match, but not as stressful or compelling as HHH/Taker.
Rating: 4 stars
From an IWC perspective: I don't care what anyone says, this was the best match of the night, hands down. Everything about it was perfect, perfect, perfect. The wrestling? Perfect. The story being told? Perfect. The time (over 20 minutes)? Perfect. The counters/near-falls/submission holds? Perfect. The spot on the card? Perfect. The finish, with Punk winning the reversal war and applying the Anaconda Vise so Jericho couldn't fight out of it? Perfect. Punk vs. Jericho was everything I dreamed of, and more.
Rating: 5 stars
The Rock defeated John Cena in 30:34
From a casual perspective: It was a dream match come true. After almost a year-and-a-half of build-up and hype, history finally came true and we got to witness a match that hopefully happens only "once in a lfeftime". The long entrances aside (MGK >>> Flo Rida, by the way), it started off slow, and had some strange spots, but overall, this was pretty damn good. Rock, who hasn't competed at Wrestlemania since 2004, and hasn't wrestled a singles match in even longer than that, showed some signs of ring rust, but it didn't take too much away from the battle. The fans were electric, although not as pumped as I thought they would be. A good match, with an ending I honestly did not see coming.
Rating: 4.5 stars
From an IWC perspective: I can see why this match would have been a let-down for a lot of people, but even as a critic, I couldn't take away from the action. Like I said, a seven year hiatus will take it's toll on anyone, and for Rock to step in there and wrestle for half an hour against one of the company's best workers since his 2004 departure? Kudos to you, Dwayne. However, what the hell were they thinking with giving Rock the win? I don't care how "Super" Cena is, he needed that win a lot more than Rocky did. Rock lay Cena lying on his back at Wrestlemania 27, at Survivor Series, and now Wrestlemania 28 as well. One could make an argument that Rock (and WWE) buried Cena in this feud. Unless the plan is to turn Cena heel, I don't know why Rock went over last night, hometown crowd and "feel-good" ending non-withstanding.
Rating: 4 stars
From a casual perspective: This was a great show, from top to bottom. Two huge title changes, a lot of babyface victories, three great matches (HIAC, Punk/Jericho and Rock/Cena), and a lot of fun. As a casual fan watching Wrestlemania, I would give it an A+.
From an IWC perspective: The show was a mixed bag. It started off on the wrong note with IWC-favorite Bryan jobbing in mere seconds, and it wasn't until the second hour that the show really picked up. I know a lot of people complain how Rock/Cena and Punk/Jericho didn't live up to it's hype, but I disagree. B-, from a "smarter" perspective.
Overall: I think the positives outweigh the negatives. Bryan getting squashed was a complete joke, the entrances for HIAC, Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny, and Rock/Cena were too long and took up too much time, which could have gone to the first four bouts instead. But we did witness three matches that were AT LEAST four stars or higher, as well as an underrated midcard match between Orton and Kane, including two better-than-expected tag matches from the divas and rival GMs. Therefore, I have to give this show a solid B. WWE could have given some actual time to Bryan/Sheamus, as I'm still pissed as f*** about how the match was booked, but overall, it was a pretty good show.
2. Day 2
No RAW review this week, as I think my fellow MP writers did an adequate job of praising the show and for good reason. However, I do want to talk about the guy that everyone is talking about - MAVEN! - I mean, Brock Lesnar.
There were very people who expected the former WWE and UFC Champion to show up on RAW and make his long-awaited return to the company. Sure, news broke over the weekend that Lesnar was in talks with WWE, but those same reports also suggested he would make an appearance or run-in at Wrestlemania 28. Well, Wrestlemania came and went, and Lesnar was nowhere to be found. By the time John Cena called out The Rock at the end of the show, I doubt I was the only one who was praying for a miracle to prevent their feud from continuing. Even the fans in attendance were chanting for Lesnar. Not because they knew he was in the building, but probably because they felt the same way I did. No more Rock vs. Cena, please!
Thankfully, the wrestling Gods heard my prayers, and we were spared from seeing "Twice in a Lifetime". Instead, "Here Comes The Pain" hit the speakers and the crowd went ballistic. Even after watching it on YouTube two days later for the third time, I still can't believe Brock Fucking Lesnar is back. Those "Holy Shit" chants were well-placed, as there was no better way to describe what was going through my head while Lesnar did his signature walk to the ring, one he had not done in eight long years. Regardless what half of the WWE locker room has to say, I am ecstatic about having Brock back where he belongs. Not on a football field, not inside an octagon, but back inside the squared circle.
I know Lesnar has only agreed to a one-year deal for the time being, but there are plenty of things for him to do in 365 days, even if he only works television tapings and Pay-Per-Views. Judging by the way Lesnar made his return on Monday, it doesn't take a genius to figure out John Cena will be Lesnar's first feud back. Now, there are some good things and some bad things about this. On the one hand, Lesnar already looks like a credible monster, having destroyed the face of the company with ease. A Lesnar/Cena feud is MONEY.
On the flip side, is post-Wrestlemania the right time for such a huge rivalry to occur? I understand why WWE would want to try and keep the viewers they got from Wrestlemania 28 (*RUMORED* 1.9 million buys? That's NUTS!!!) by not letting their product sag and allow the Wrestlemania hangover to creep in, but can you imagine Cena vs. Lesnar main-eventing a throwaway PPV like Extreme Rules or Over The Limit? Cena vs. Lesnar is a humongous match that should only happen at a major PPV like SummerSlam, Survivor Series, or Wrestlemania. I don't see the point in WWE booking the two mega stars in a match for the upcoming Extreme Rules PPV unless they're trying to improve RAW's ratings. It's a double-edged sword, but personally, I'd much rather wait until SummerSlam for Cena vs. Lesnar.
But besides Cena, the WWE roster is full of talent Brock can both put over, and squash to reaffirm his dominance. WWE has a rather large undercard at the moment, so much so that they've turned NXT into a brand filled with nothing but jobbers and developmental talent (sadly, no FCW talent, but that's a topic for another day). If WWE wants to spend some time feeding enhancement talent to Lesnar like they did with Brodus Clay and are now doing with Lord Tensai (who looked awesome in his debut as well), they have a good twenty-thirty names to choose from. Those of you who watch NXT and saw that SmackDown Battle Royal prior to the Elimination Chamber PPV know that number is no exaggeration. WWE is merely loaded with jobbers at the moment.
However, there are also plenty of young guys on the roster who could get over by working with Lesnar. The WWE Champion, CM Punk, could have a great feud with Lesnar, as they both work stiff, and a win over a monster like Lesnar would only boost the champ's profile. Randy Orton has been lost in limbo for quite some time now. With Sheamus the new world heavyweight champion, a feud with Lesnar would feel anything but filler and could intrigue lots of fans (yours truly included). Even less established names like Dolph Ziggler and Cody Rhodes could get huge career surges if they were able to get a victory over Lesnar. As far as talent and future stars goes, Lesnar picked a great time to make his return.
I cannot wait to see what WWE does with Brock Lesnar, as there are a million different things he could do right off the bat. My gut is telling me a feud with Cena is the first step, but hopefully WWE will find a way to prolong it until this summer at the very earliest. Hey, Rock is back as well, so maybe we'll get Lesnar vs. Rock at SummerSlam TEN YEARS LATER! Honestly, as long as we don't ever get to see a rematch between Cena and The Rock, I'm a happy man.
Welcome back, Brock. The wrestling world has missed you.
3. Day 3
CON: The Hulkster throws his weight around
Impact kicks off with an in-ring segment that would have undoubtedly pissed off Hustle if he gave a fuck - the mother of all clusterfucks. Sting and Dixie Carter are standing in the ring with the entire TNA roster surrounding the Impact Zone, and when Hulk Hogan is introduced, we have approximately 582 people on our TV screens at once. If that wasn't enough, World Champion Bobby Roode crashes the party with a half-dozen lawyers, and gives Al Laiman a boner by hamming it up and over-acting when Hogan informs Roode he'll be wrestling Mr. Anderson tonight.
A complete waste of time, as all it did was announce one match for Lockdown and three for later tonight, which could have been accomplished via a mini-video package instead. Ten minutes in, and Impact is already off to a bad start.
PRO: Hardy vs. Angle
Even though Jeff Hardy's ridiculous amount of face paint is becoming a distraction, this was a good match, which shouldn't come as a surprise given the competitors. It wasn't 5-stars, as Angle boasted on Twitter, but it was a hell of a TV match. Angle took a sick bump early on when his head crashed into the barricade that I believe legitimately busted him open. They told a good story, as Hardy refused to tap out to the Ankle Lock, and every time Hardy had Angle beat, Angle would try and cheat. Eventually, Angle had enough and got himself counted out, which led to Hogan booking Hardy vs. Angle at Lockdown. Nothing shocking here, but the action was good while it lasted.
PRO: Bully Ray/Calfzilla calls out Austin Aries/TGMTEL
So, Bully Ray is now calling himself "Calfzilla" (because his calves are muscular for a chubby guy - get it?). Also, Austin Aries is now a face (because he's standing up to a Bully and unlike his last rival, Xema Ion, he didn't almost end another wrestler's career - get it?). I'm not sure how I feel about either development, as "Bully Ray" sounds a lot more menacing than "Calfzilla" and AA plays the cocky heel so damn well. Still, when you have two of the best promo men in the company feuding with each other, you can't go wrong. After gaining the upperhand on the man nearly twice his size, Ray takes out Aries with a SICK jumping/running powerbomb (you read that correctly). I'm disappointed to see Aries join the good side so early in his TNA run, but I think a feud with Bully Ray - even short-term - could be awesome, if handled properly. Great way to build heat for this budding rivalry.
CON: Six Knockouts too many
If you've been paying any attention to TNA programming in recent months, you'll know it has revolved around three women: Madison Rayne, Velvet Sky, and the current Knockouts Champion, Gail Kim. However, Hogan apparently doesn't follow storylines he's not involved in, as he has no idea who should be the number one contender to Gail's title (hint: it's one of the women I just mentioned). Since Hogan suffers from ADD and illogical booking 101, he books a six-way to determine who should face Gail at Lockdown: Rayne vs. Sky vs. Angelina Love vs. Mickie James vs. Tara vs. Winter.
The match? Much like the opening segment, a complete waste of time. The action was sloppy, which was surprising, considering the amount of talent in the ring. I just can't get over the stupidity of the match. For starters, why would only two women be allowed in the ring at the same time? If it's one fall to the finish, shouldn't every Knockout want to remain tagged in? Furthermore, we have't seen four of these six women on television in AGES. What did they do to deserve a number one contender's match? Velvet gets the win, to absolutely no one's surprise. They couldn't have just booked Velvet vs. Madison one-on-one instead?
PRO: Storm vs. Styles
I'm a fan of both guys, but I never expected them to out-shine Hardy vs. Angle from the first hour. Boy, was I wrong. Usually, face vs. face matches are awkward, as the fans don't know who to get behind, and rarely does one of the combatants "play the heel". Yet, Aj Styles and James Storm told an excellent story in the ring, as Storm wanted to prove he's ready for his world title match at Lockdown, and Styles wanted to test his former Fortune stablemate. Although containing very few nearfalls, Styles showed some nice psychology, working on Storm's legs to prevent him from hitting his finisher, the Last Call Superkick. After some back and forth action, Storm creates some distance and hits the Last Call for the win. He then helps his friend to his feet as a sign of respect and calls out Bobby Roode for next week's show. Definitely the match of the night so far.
PRO: The return of the Machine Guns
They'reeee backkkkk! Chris Sabin returns from injury to reunite with his longtime partner Alex Shelley to take on the same team who cost Sabin a year of his career - Mexican America. After a nice reception from the Orlando crowd, Shelley and Sabin show off their in-ring chemistry against Mexican America, who, well, are decent (I guess). Both duos pull off some nice double-team moves, but it's the Motor City Machine Guns who end up getting the win after hitting their neckbreaker/crossbody combo. As soon as Hernandez and Anarquia make their way back to irrelevance town, Sabin grabs the mic and warns Samoa Joe and Magnus that they're coming for the tag team titles. I can live with that. I'm thrilled to have one of the best tag teams in the business back in action.
CON: Hogan & Bischoff
Three words: no one cares. Seriously, nobody cares about Eric Bischoff, Garrett Bischoff, or Gunner. Hogan says that at Lockdown, if Team Garrett wins, Eric is gone from TNA (storylines), but if Team Eric wins, Garrett will never wrestle again. Since we can't have both outcomes, we're screwed either way. Fuck this storyline, and fuck the Bischoffs.
PRO: Roode vs. Anderson
It's nice to see the world champion in THE main-event for a change, not the main-event before THE main-event featuring a promo from Sting or Hogan. Unfortunately, Roode's opponent is Mr. Anderson, which is never a good thing. On a side note, those Bobby Roode/Triple H comparisons continue to grow every week. Both guys have the same haircut, matching ring gear, and Roode's title reign is reminiscent of HHH's reign of terror from 2003-2004, as Roode has been champion for quite some time now and cuts a lengthy promo almost every week. All that's missing is a stable to watch Roode's back and a marriage to Dixie Carter's daughter.
Anyways, this wasn't bad for a Mr. Anderson match, but that's probably because it was so short (barely going over five minutes). The finish came when the referee got knocked out, allowing Roode to steal a beer bottle from an underage fan and whack Anderson over the head, giving the champion the dirty pin. BUT, Storm and Hogan come out to chase off Roode and Hogan overrules the referee's decision, giving Anderson the victory. Makes sense, since Roode is defending his world title in less than two weeks, and Anderson has no scheduled match for Lockdown - right?
Match/Segment of the night: - James Storm vs. Aj Styles. Although not given as much time as I would have preferred, both men gave their best effort and wrestled the most athletic and entertaining match of the night. In addition, it gave Storm a huge win heading into next Sunday's Pay-Per-View and put over his finisher in a big way. Oh, and did I mention there was no commercial break to interrupt the action? YouTube this match, you'll enjoy it.
Grade: B-. Obviously not on the same level of greatness as Monday's episode of RAW (although it's a bit hard to compete with the return of BROCK LESNAR), but overall, Impact was more than decent tonight. We got two good matches in Storm/Styles and Angle/Hardy, as well as two entertaining contests between Roode/Anderson and of course the Machine Guns vs. Mexican American. The show's low points were Hulk Hogan on the mic and the awful Knockouts match, but other than that, an interesting show that helped build towards Lockdown.
4. Day 4
I would like to say thank-you to LOP user StormDragonz for giving me today's topic by pointing out a little statistic that many fans (and maybe the WWE themselves) have not picked up on:
The Miz is undefeated at Wrestlemania
It's true. Don't believe me? Here's a quick resume of The Miz's last three Wrestlemania performances:
-Wrestlemania 26: Teamed with The Big Show to successfully defend the tag team titles against John Morrison & R-Truth
-Wrestlemania 27: Defeated John Cena and retained the WWE Championship
-Wrestlemania 28: Teamed with Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, and Jack Swagger to defeat Team Teddy (scored the pinfall on Zack Ryder)
3-0 folks. The Miz is currently 3-0 at Wrestlemania. Now, I'm sure there are some people who don't agree with Miz being 'undefeated' at Mania because he and John Morrison lost to Primo & Carlito at Wrestlemania 25. However, that tag team match was bumped off the Wrestlemania 25 card at the very last minute, and took place on the pre-show instead. As a result, I don't consider it an 'official' Wrestlemania match since it never happened on the actual show itself. But if you want to be picky and insist that it counts as a Wrestlemania match, keep in mind it took place BEFORE WM26, when 'The Streak" began. So ha.
Anyways, the reason I'm making such a big deal out of this three match winning streak at the biggest WWE Pay-Per-View of the year is because with rumours that The Undertaker's in-ring career is winding down, and that Wrestlemania 29 may be 'Taker's final Wrestlemania, now is the perfect time for a new undefeated streak to emerge. After all, WWE learned that The Undertaker's Streak being on the line can be used as a major selling point for any Wrestlemania, and promoted it strongly from Wrestlemania 21-Wrestlemania 27. Regardless if 'Taker's opponent was a rising newcomer like Randy Orton in 2005, or a long-time veteran like Shawn Michaels in 2009 and 2010, WWE emphasized the importance of The Streak and made almost every 'Taker match at Wrestlemania since 2005 feel like a big-time match.
Allowing another WWE superstar to walk around with an undefeated streak at Wrestlemania is simply a good business move, and choosing The Miz is a good investment. For starters, Miz is young. He may not have been the youngest WWE Champion in history when he won the title in late 2010, but I could see Miz wrestling for AT LEAST another ten years. Furthermore, he's passionate about the business. Say what you want about Mizanin, but I don't see him as a quitter. In other words, I don't view Miz as the type of guy who will turn his back on the WWE if things don't go his way or if Hollywood offers him some major movie roles. Many people thought Miz was on the verge of asking for his release less than a month ago after going through a rough patch, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore (not that it was going to happen in the first place).
Miz is also the right guy to be the new Streak-bearer because he is so different from The Undertaker. Unlike The Deadman, Miz does not come across as super-human or gives people chills when they come to the ring. Unlike 'Taker, Miz isn't a giant, and doesn't have a creepy-looking, chubby dude follow him to the ring with an urn. Miz is none of those things. He's just a cocky kid with underrated mic skills who people want to see get his teeth knocked down the throat. Ten years from now, Miz will be older, wiser, and probably have undergone a face turn or two, but if his Wrestlemania Streak is still perfect, it would be interesting to see him defend it as a heel. In Undertaker's case, it was pretty much pointless to turn him a full-fledged heel by the time The Streak became common knowledge. Whether 'Taker was facing a face or a heel at 'Mania, 'Taker was almost always the fan favorite, as no one wanted to see The Streak tarnished. But the opposite can be done with The Miz, as he'll brag about his streak year after year, that people will WANT to see him lose, and hate him more when he wins. It would be an interesting dynamic, that's for sure.
I would love to see The Miz go on an undefeated streak at Wrestlemania, but what about you? Would you give The Miz such an important, career-defining gimmick? Or would you give The Streak to someone else?
5. Day 5
Believe it or not, today's edition of "What If..." is not a product of my undying love for Long Island Iced Z. I swear it's not. It's simply a column-long response to an email I received yesterday from John Bannerman. John writes,
"I was looking through an old issue of WWE Magazine yesterday and I came upon an article about Zack Ryder. In that article Zack spoke about creating a new faction called the 'Zack Pack' and I am not taking about his following online, I am talking about Zack teaming up with a few other wrestlers and pursuing titles. Since you're one of Ryder's biggest fans, I figure WHAT IF...you, Super Chrisss, are in charge of putting together this faction? Who would you pair up with Ryder and why?"
(Told you I didn't come up with this topic on my own. I stopped buying issues of WWE Magazine years ago.)
Anyways, this question couldn't have come at a better time. Since returning from his weekly ass-kicking at the hands of Kane less than a month ago - who he never exacted his revenge upon, by the way - Zack Ryder has found himself in a rut. He came back in full-force, defeating the likes of Jack Swagger and Drew McIntyre, and even found himself a member of Team Teddy at Wrestlemania 28. However, ever since Eve cost Ryder and Team Teddy the match, Ryder hasn't been on much of a roll. He lost to The Miz on last week's episode of RAW, and just last night, tapped out to Alberto Del Rio's CrossArmBreaker. If you want to go further back, Ryder lost to Daniel Bryan on a pre-Wrestlemania edition of RAW.
Now, it's not like Ryder's been jobbing to midcarders. Every superstar that has defeated him in recent weeks is a former world champion. Besides, even in defeat, Ryder is way better off than he was 365 days ago, when he wasn't even on television. That being said, Ryder has nothing going on at the moment. His storyline with Eve seems to be over, or on hiatus, and I don't think WWE will revitalize the Ryder/Kane feud anytime soon. Therefore, what better time than after Wrestlemania for Ryder to form his very own stable?
Before I name the members of the "Zack Pack", I'm going to point out two things. First, the stable won't consist of Ryder's "posse" from his YouTube show, Z! True Long Island Story. As a result, there will be no Big O serving as his bodyguard, and no Scott Stanford acting as the mouthpiece/manager of the group. Second, the Zack Pack will be a BABYFACE stable. Why? Because Ryder is super-over as a face, and I can't see him or any of his stablemates succeeding as heels in the near future. Besides, with the current roster LOADED with heels, it makes sense for a group of heroes to band together. It's been ages since we saw a babyface stable, so let's go with it.
Mason Ryan - This shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody. Mason Ryan has become a regular on WWE Superstars, but WWE reportedly has plans to renew his push in the coming months. Since his last singles push wasn't very effective, why not use him in a role that suits him better, as an enforcer? This way, Ryan will provide the muscle to a group filled with anything but bodybuilders, and allow him to connect with the audience in ways he couldn't as a member of The New Nexus or a singles star. My only fear is that he would come across as a rip-off of Rob Terry/Robbie T from TNA, but unlike Terry, I think Ryan could pull off the goofy, yet imposing role quite well.
Ted DiBiase - I've seen several other writers and fans list Ryder and DiBiase as a "dream team" because they're both internet darlings who got pushed because they found a way to get themselves over while not on TV. Personally, I think DiBiase works best as a face, as his heel run (a.k.a. most of his WWE career) was crap. I mean, how could he not succeed after teaming with Randy Orton and feuding with DX for months? I say pair Ryder and DiBiase up, but as part of a stable, not a tag team. That way, DiBiase's popularity can continue to rise, and he wouldn't be forced to wrestle another 51 matches against Hunico.
Finlay - Yup, you read that correctly. While it's not 100% confirmed that Fit Finlay is back with the WWE - and if he is, he's rumoured to return as a backstage agent - I would give Finlay one last run on television as the mentor of the Zack Pack. Right now, the Zack Pack is lacking a veteran presence, and while Finlay may not be the biggest superstar of all-time, he could provide experience both inside and outside the ring for the rest of the stable. Keep in mind that we've seen Finlay play the face role quite well, and I think he could bring both credibility and comic relief to the young stable.
Hornswoggle - With Finlay around, you have to assume Little Horny will be...
JUST JOKING! GET OUT OF HERE WITH THAT HORNSWOGGLE CRAP!
So there you have it. The "Zack Pack" would consist of Ryder (the leader), Ryan (the muscle), DiBiase (the up-and-comer), and Finlay (the veteran). I'm sure many people are surprised guys like Curt Hawkins or Trent Beretta didn't make the cut considering their personal history with Ryder, but how many people would take a stable consisting of those two seriously? On paper, they barely look like a threat. But I think if WWE gives them an honest chance, the Zack Pack could go somewhere with this. They won't revolutionize the business, but it'll give three guys something to do and help prepare them as future stars. I also wouldn't be against the idea of adding a diva to the stable or even a mouthpiece like Abraham Washington or Matt Striker. But I think those four guys would be fine on their own. Quality over quantity, people.
What do you think? Would you be a fan of my Zack Pack? Does Ryder need a stable, or is he better off on his own?
6. Day 6
PRO: People Power Comes to SmackDown
Kicking off a show who's theme is "A Blast from the Past" with Mean Gene Okerlund is always a great idea. If you watch WWE Vintage which is hosted by Mean Gene, you'll know he's still got it, and even at his old age, is an amazing announcer.
You could tell Sheamus was legitimately thrilled to be introduced by Mean Gene. There's playing a character, and then there's letting your real emotions shine through. Unfortunately for the new world heavyweight champion, John Laurinaitis (minus Otunga) would crash the party and force Sheamus to apologize again for Brogue Kicking referee Chad Patton last week. Sheamus reluctantly agrees, and Ace orders him to apologize twice more, getting more and more heat in the process. Finally, Big Johnny decides Sheamus' words aren't good enough, and books him in a tag team match against Daniel Bryan and Alberto Del Rio after telling him he'll be fined 500k if he touches another WWE official.
Good way to start the show, as Johnny comes across a major asshole, and the world champion is involved in both the show's opening segment and the main-event (too bad CM Punk can't say the same).
PRO: Orton vs. Henry
As someone who regrettably missed Randy Orton and Mark Henry's Pay-Per-View battles last year, this was a real treat for me. The action was crisp and fast-paced, which just goes to show how much each man has improved in the ring in recent years. Another thing I liked was not knowing who would walk away with the win. On one hand, you have Henry who will be facing CM Punk for the WWE Championship (not the world title - sorry Mizark) on Monday, so he has to look strong. On the other hand, Henry's opponent is one of the company's top babyfaces, and despite winning a great match against Kane last Friday, is coming off a loss at Wrestlemania. Technically, it was anyone's ball game.
Unsurprisingly, WWE took the safe way out and had Kane interrupt the match by standing over Orton's fallen father backstage, Bob Orton. Orton immediately rushes to the back, but Kane ends up taking him down with a lead pipe. It would be interesting to see if Kane reveals he attacked Orton and his father as a means of revenge for The Ortons taking out his "brother" The Undertaker about seven years ago. Continuity for the win!
Oh, and good match, while it lasted.
PRO: Ryback Runs Wild
Those of you who read my Funkasaurus column a few weeks back might remember I'm not a fan of the squash match. However, I really like the way they're mixing it up for Ryback's push. From the poor unknown jobber getting some mic time pre-match to get some mild crowd heat, to the legends watching backstage and wooing over Ryback's look (no homo, I assume), to Ryback's awesome music, everything seems to work. The match was pretty much over after the opening clothesline, which was absolutely SICK (YouTube it, Ryback's opponent was literally turned inside-out), but it was the post-match celebration from Ryback that I enjoyed. Even though he looks like a monster, Ryback seems to be getting pushed as a face. I'm okay with it, as WWE needs more faces than heels, anyway. Effective match/segment.
PRO: The Usos vs. Kidd & Slater
What's this? A match featuring two tag teams who - wait for it - want to become the number one contenders to the tag team titles? My eyes must be deceiving me. Unfortunately, the commentary took away from what was actually a solid match because Mick Foley joined the announce team, making it a four-way commentary booth; five if you include Jimmy Hart hamming it up (thanks Al!) with his megaphone at ringside. It sucks that Tyson Kidd was forced team with Heath Garbage Slater, but at least he was on SmackDown and didn't take the pinfall either. The Usos won in fairly dominating fashion, and hopefully this means they'll be the ones who give Primo & Epico an actual feud over the tag team titles.
PRO: Piper's Pit
What do you get when you put Roddy Piper - one of the best talkers in WWE history -, Daniel Bryan - one of the most interesting characters in WWE today -, and Aj - one of the cutest divas in WWE history - in the same ring together? Magic. Folks, as soon as this segment was announced, I was pumped up to see it, and by God, did it deliver! Piper and Bryan had some great interactions, and it was nice to see Bryan actually go face-to-face with a man closer to his height (Big Show, Randy Orton, and Sheamus are all so tall). But I also enjoyed Piper trying to talk sense into Aj (who looked ULTRA-cute last night, by the way). To me, it came across as an episode of Jerry Springer, with Piper trying to talk the innocent Aj out of Bryan's control, but Aj refusing to listen, and Bryan slapping Piper for trying to interfere in this business. Still, it was an awesome segment, as Piper once again brought his A-game, and the Bryan/Aj love angle continues to grow. Probably one of my favorite in-ring segments of 2012 so far.
CON: Six-Person Melee
The first con of the night is brought to us by one of the most random assortments of characters in history - The Great Khali, Alicia Fox, and Natalya facing off against Drew McIntyre and The Bella Twins. 30 seconds in, McIntyre abandons The Bellas, yelling this was a waste of his time (I couldn't agree more). 15 seconds later, Alicia hits a bridge (a.k.a. THE DIVA ROLL-UP OF DOOM!!!) to win the match for her team. McIntyre was right; he deserves better than this, and so does Natalya. By the way, didn't one of the Bellas turn face AND defeat Beth Phoenix last week on SmackDown? What happened to that?
The only redeeming quality of the match/segment was when Mae Young showed up to kiss Khali. I bet he regrets being The Punjabi Playboy now. Still, it wasn't enough to save this disaster.
CON: Hunico (with Camacho) vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan (with Sgt. Slaughter)
Another match that wasn't really a match. Hunico will never get over if they don't add depth to his character. His Spanglish promos are leaving the crowd with mixed feelings of confusion and not-giving-a-fuckness. With Duggan as his opponent, the match was never going to be any good, but I did like Sgt. Slaughter coming out to keep Camacho at bay. For some reason, I've always been a fan of the Sarge, even if his better days were before my time. This was too short to amount to anything, but good to see the legends continuing to tangle with the current stars.
PRO: Cody, His Father, and The Giant
It was nice to see Cody Rhodes cut a promo about being the future of the company, and having his father Dusty come out made perfect sense. Actually, maybe not entirely, because the last time Cody and his father were in the same ring, Dusty turned heel by helping Cody beat down Rey Mysterio. Boo for non-continuity.
Anyways, I didn't mind The Big Show flashback as I marked for the old "Grooming Tips" segment. I know it was intended to embarrass Cody for wearing lip gloss, but I found it really funny. Good way to continue the Cody/Big Show feud. I'm wondering what the stipulation will be for their match at Extreme Rules, though.
PRO: Bryan & Del Rio vs. Sheamus, Mean Gene, and Two Dozen Other WWE Legends
With less than minutes left, you knew this wasn't going to last very long, especially with Mean Gene as Sheamus's tag team partner. That being said, Bryan and Del Rio did a good job double-teaming Sheamus, and the Howard Finkel cameo gave this match a big-time feel, believe it or not. The ending was also rather unexpected, as it resulted in all the WWE Legends coming to the ring to help their buddy Okerlund fight off Bryan, Del Rio, and Ricardo Rodriguez. They provided the distraction which allowed Sheamus to hit the Brogue Kick on Bryan, and when Michael Cole randomly crashed the party, he got beat up a bit as well. The match was nothing spectacular, but seeing all the legends come out and beat up on the heels was a lot of fun. A nice, heart-warming way to conclude the show.
YouTube Worthy: Ryback almost decapitating his opponent; Piper's Pit
Grade: B+ A pretty strong show, overall. It was missing another really good match to push it into the A-range, but top to bottom, it was a lot of fun. The pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially since the show's lowlights were pretty short. I thought WWE did a great job in blending the past, present, and future together. Could we have got some longer matches? Sure, but I think everyone in the building had a lot of fun - the superstars, the legends, and the fans. Catch the replay on Friday if you missed it.
7. Day 7
Welcome to the inaugural Impact TWEETING Diary! First and foremost, I'd like to say thank-you to former LOP Main Page writer, Mazza, for letting me use/borrow/steal his idea. As much as I enjoy reviewing shows using the Pro & Con format, I feel like it's run it's course, and I want to try something new. Therefore, sit back and enjoy this mix of Hustle's Running Diary and Al Laiman's 30 Thoughts...
Oh, one more thing! A few guidelines I followed while putting this thing together:
-140 character limit Well, it is a 'tweeting' diary, so to make it legitimate, each entry will not exceed 140 characters (and that includes commas, spaces, periods, etc.). However, I'll try and keep my grammar and spelling up to par.
-No excessive use of hashtags In other words, I'll only use hashtags to express emotion (i.e. #FuckTheBischoffs) or to save space, since I only have 140 characters to work with. There won't be any useless #TNA or #WrestlingMachine included, so don't worry.
-No ranting TNA (and sometimes WWE) has been known to piss me off, but to avoid sounding like a madman, I kept the rants to a bare minimum.
Any more questions? No? Then let's get started.
9:00pm Tonight's show is the final stop before Lockdown this Sunday. We'll see if the company can make Scott Steiner less angry.
9:01pm Anddd we kick things off with "Eric Bitchoff". Regardless what he says or does, #FuckTheBischoffs
9:02pm Is the Impact Zone actually chanting, "We don't care!"? LMFAO!!!
9:03pm Eric Bitchoff's team at Lockdown consists of Kaz, Daniels, Gunner, and Bully Ray. Advantage, Team Eric?
9:05pm Now the crowd is chanting for Aj Styles. If Garrett Bitchoff was over, they'd be chanting for him, but he's obviously not.
9:06pm Never mind. They just started a "Garrett" chant. #FuckYouImpactZone
9:07pm Mr. Anderson is on Garrett's team. Another reason to cheer for Team Eric.
9:08pm Wait, a cut to commercial? Who else is on Team Garrett? I'd laugh if it's just those two wastes of space.
9:12pm Back from commercial, and it's Anderson vs. Gunner as the opening match. #FML
9:13pm Apparently, this is to decide which team has the one-man advantage at Lockdown. Sadly, I do not care.
9:15pm This has been a pretty bad match so far. Considering the participants, I'm not surprised.
9:17pm Anderson gets himself disqualified, thus costing his team the one-man advantage. Dumbass.
9:18pm ...Yet the crowd continues to cheer for him. That's Orlando for you. Bad way to kick off the show.
9:22pm Eric Young with his beard meets Joseph Parks/Abyss without his beard. #Awkward
9:23pm Wow. So after weeks of searching, Joseph gets a clue from EY of all people. Again, wow.
9:24pm The Motor City Machine Guns cutting an in-ring promo? I like.
9:26pm Calling it now: The Guns vs. Magnus & Samoa Joe at Lockdown will be awesome.
9:27pm The tag champs challenge The Guns to a match, but are interrupted by Hunico and Camacho - errr Mexican America.
9:29pm AND the Mexicans get quadruple-teamed for crashing the party. Adios, amigos.
9:29pm Good promo from both teams, and like I said, keep an eye on their match this Sunday.
9:34pm Christopher Daniels vs. Austin Aries? Oh, sweet Jesus YES! YES! YES!!!
9:35pm If these guys don't get at least five minutes to work with, TNA are robbing their fans.
9:36pm Austin Aries just countered a headlock by doing a headstand into a dropkick. I kid you not.
9:38pm It didn't take Aries very long to get over as a babyface. Good job Orlando.
9:38pm Aries dodges a BME from Daniels and hits a Suicide Dive, reminiscent of Daniel Bryan. Nice.
9:39pm LOL @ the crowd chanting "This is wrestling." They're correct, though. Great match so far.
9:40pm BEAUTIFUL Missile Dropkick from Aries. He follows that up with a Brainbuster and beats Daniel.
9:41pm Well, they got five minutes. I guess I can't complain, right?
9:43pm I don't care what anyone says. The Matt Morgan Auto Insurance commercial is awesome.
9:46pm Jeff Hardy is on his way to the ring for a promo. Uh-oh.
9:47pm At least he's not covered in clown make-up. That's an instant plus.
9:48pm So, Jeff and Kurt Angle will make history this Sunday by hurting each other? Okay...
9:48pm That's it? That's the whole promo? Okay...
9:49pm LOL @ James Storm having some Western, C-list celebrities as his back-up.
9:50pm Sarita AND Rosita just flashed EY backstage. Lucky bastard. The steel cage wedding is next! (yay?)
9:54pm EY looks way too strange wearing a tux. Blue isn't his colour.
9:55pm Interesting to note that this is what TNA is going with for their 10pm time slot. More sad than interesting, really.
9:56pm For the first time in her life, ODB looks like a woman, not a Transvestite. I can't believe it.
9:57pm Having a wedding inside a cage is smart. Unless Kane shows up from under the ring, no one can interrupt.
9:59pm That video recap of the EY/ODB love angle was AWFUL. Where's the WWE production team when you need them?
10:00pm Halfway through the show, and we've seen two matches, neither over five minutes in length. #sigh
10:01pm EY just said "lifes" instead of "lives". SOMEONE CALL THE GRAMMAR POLICE!!!
10:03pm Sarita and Rosita are here to stop the wedding. Not like it's never happened before.
10:04pm These two Latinas just might be my new favorite women in both TNA and WWE after that double-strip-tease. Holy Moly.
10:06pm This wedding has resulted in Rosita, Sarita, ODB, and EY all getting half-naked on television.
10:07pm Anddd the priest has decided to strip down to his undergarments as well. Only in TNA, folks.
10:08pm With that waste of time behind us, we learn that Bully Ray/Calfzilla has a match coming up next. Thank the Lord.
10:13pm Aj Styles is Bully's opponent, which means Team Garrett is Aj, Anderson, Aries, and himself. I wonder who's the weak link.
10:14pm Wait, Bully got the jobber entrance? #FuckYouTNA
10:15pm Naturally, the announcers are talking about the Bitchoffs rather than calling the match. #FuckYouTaz and #FuckYouTenay
10:17pm Now they're talking about some MMA show. #AreYouSeriousBro?
10:18pm Bully Ray's facial expressions are simply awesome.
10:19pm Close nearfall caused by Ray. This has been a pretty decent match so far.
10:21pm Ouch! Ray strikes Aj with a foreign object as Aj comes off a springboard dive, getting the win. Great heel tactic.
10:21pm Team Eric now has the man advantage at Lockdown. The announcers don't care.
10:22pm Hulk Hogan shows up and gives Eric Bitchoff THREE MINUTES to pick a fifth member for his team. lol
10:23pm Somewhere, Scott Steiner is ranting about Hogan and telling people to change the channel for five minutes. Smart man.
10:25pm We're 3/4 through the show, and they've promoted three matches: Lethal Lockdown, Hardy/Angle and the tag team title bout. Amazing.
10:27pm The fifth member of Team Eric? Eric Bitchoff himself. Steiner must be loving this.
10:29pm The fifth member of Team Garrett? Rob Van Dam. Presumably clean.
10:32pm I take back what I said about TNA's production team earlier. Fantastic hype video for Storm vs. Roode at Lockdown.
10:37pm Matt Morgan would automatically be my new favourite wrestler if he ends Crimson's boring undefeated streak this Sunday.
10:38pm Wait, Madison Rayne & Gail Kim are still buddies? I thought they split up weeks ago!
10:39pm As much as I love Velvet Sky, she was way better as a heel and a part of The Beautiful People.
10:40pm Mickie James looks so old, it's disturbing.
10:44pm After several minutes of mediocre Knockouts action, Velvet Sky hits her finisher on her opponent at Lockdown, Gail Kim.
10:44pm With the number one contender getting the win over the champion, by old-school PPV logic, Gail retains on Sunday. Cool. I guess.
10:48pm Time for the final, go-home confrontation between James Storm and Bobby Roode before Lockdown. Oh baby.
10:49pm Both Roode and Storm have two of the best entrance themes in wrestling today. Just saying.
10:50pm Bobby Roode reminds me of 2003-2004 Triple H week after week. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
10:52pm For a redneck, Storm is pretty good on the mic.
10:53pm I love how they keep bringing up their history as Beer Money as part of their feud. It makes their rivalry even more personal.
10:54pm Now Roode is talking about their paths throughout the Bound For Glory series, and how Storm did nothing at the big PPV.
10:55pm Storm counters by saying he watched Roode lose to Kurt Angle, and Roode counters by saying Storm had a really short world title reign.
10:56pm These guys are really bringing it tonight.
10:57pm Roode claims that he and Storm were never friends, that they secretly hated each other all along. That's gotta hurt.
10:58pm Both guy looks ready to rip the other's head off. I love it.
10:59pm It's cool how both men are bouncing from foot-to-foot, shaking with anger. It's better than them standing like statues.
11:00pm Impact ends with Roode insulting Storm's dead father and both men nose-to-nose. Nice ending and great segment.
#ThankYouMazza,Hustle,Al&ScottSteiner: The promo battle between Alex Shelley/Chris Sabin and Magnus/Samoa Joe...Daniels vs. Aries...Sarita and Rosita getting half-naked...Bully Ray vs. Aj Styles...Storm and Roode's face-off
#FuckYouHulkHogan&TheBitchoffs: Eric Bitchoff's promo...Anderson vs. Gunner...Jeff Hardy's 1-minute promo...EY & ODB's wedding...Eric Bitchoff making himself a member of Team Eric at Lockdown
Grade: C An average show with some decent wrestling that did a decent job of promoting Sunday's PPV. They could have done a much better job hyping the bottom half of the card, that's for sure.
I had a lot of fun with this 'tweeting diary', but what do you guys think? Like the format? Hate it? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so I know how to proceed with reviewing Monday's RAW. In the meantime, I'll be back over the weekend with my Lockdown predictions and maybe a WWE-themed column as well.