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Monday Morning Thoughts
Last Week and CF Plug
Not that it matters much, but I needed to take another week to travel my nation due to a business trip last Monday. I didn’t have a lot of free time, and I used it to help my new friend Leaf with his writing.
By the way, if you enjoy my blog, or any other writing on the main page of LOP, I suggest you visit our LOPForums Columns Forum, where many (if not all) of the current main page writers started out. There is currently a competition in the Competition section, which will go a long way in naming the next writer to move from the CF to the Main Page. I am currently coaching Leaf, who has made it to the finals.
And that is why the minimal time I had last Monday was devoted to helping him out. I knew I would be back to write again, but once in a while I need to take the night (or week) off to make money.
Trust me, it was worth it.
It really didn’t hit me very hard at first when I read the news of Warrior’s death late night in the night on April 8th. Maybe it was because wrestling had exhausted so much of the previous 3 days that I needed to shut my mind off a bit and re-enter the real world.
It actually took watching the recent “Warrior Week” specials on the WWE Network during the last couple of days to remind me how important he was to my wrestling fandom. It’s hard to remember all the details of watching wrestling as a kid, but I do remember that no one made the impression on me like the Warrior did. I would do the “Gorilla Press/Reaching for the Heavens” arm movements to hype myself up while playing outdoor sports (or to gain courage to face jerks on the playground). My WWF Wrestling Buddy was the Warrior. My favorite action figures were the 2 Warrior models that were released (green trunks with the splash, and white trunks with Gorilla Press action). I remember being 9 years old, biking to the video store to reserve WrestleMania VI when it would be in, only to get in trouble when I got home for going too far on my bike, and having to call the store back in tears to cancel the reservation. When I was tuning out of WWF after 1992, only watching once in a while, it took his return at WrestleMania XII to bring me back in. When I first was asked by my bank to come up with a PIN for my card, I used a Warrior memory’s date to find the perfect 6 digits (though I screwed up the date anyways, so it was pretty much futile in the end). One of the only times I tuned into WCW instead of Raw was to see the debut of the One Warrior Nation.
It’s hard to explain to anyone who doesn’t know wrestling how huge the final week of Warrior’s life was. Seriously, consider how many planets had to align for everything to have gone down the way it did. After 18 years, he shows up for the Hall of Fame on Saturday, gets a grand entrance at WrestleMania XXX on Sunday, makes his return to Monday Night Raw on Monday, and then died on Tuesday.
There’s no other way around it, but that’s ****ed up.
Overall, he was never a great talent. Even the biggest Warrior fans, like myself, have to admit that he was the blueprint for Goldberg in terms of protecting a talent by minimizing the showcase of their weaknesses with short matches. But not everything is about putting on a great technical match; just ask the effectiveness of Andre the Giant, The Big Show, and even Hulk Hogan.
What’s shocking is how often he was able to have a great match despite his lack of skills. Take Mania 6 for example. Call it whatever you will, but I don’t think there is a better WrestleMania WWF Title match until either Mania 12, or possibly 15, depending on your tastes (I would vote and say that the first WrestleMania title match to outperform Warrior vs Hogan would be Rock vs Austin II at X-7). I think it’s telling that he had top 5 matches of the careers of Macho Man and Hulk Hogan. It’s a mix of someone being able to take advice and leadership from more natural performers, and being better than most give credit for. The fact is that wrestling in 1988-1991 was a lot different than it is today. We get to see midcarder wrestle on a weekly basis and display the skills it would take to make it to the main event. In 1988-1991, we’d see a handful of competitive contests for any performer, with 4 PPVs, and an appearance or two on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Everything else was promo and squash matches.
With that being said, how many bad matches has Warrior had? The Mania IV contest with Hercules is most likely his worst, which isn’t exactly shocking considering that rookie years tend to consist of most wrestlers worst matches. But after that arguable snoozer, no matter the opponent, he made the most of his time on a regular basis.
It’s a shame that his reputation has been squandered as much as it has. While there’s no disputing the controversial life he’s had outside the ring, it really feels no more monumental than most wrestlers. I think Hogan had a much more embarrassing story outside the ropes, between his family drama, the backstage politicking, and sex tapes. I just don’t think anything Warrior has done or said compares to the drama created by Hogan. The problem is that Warrior had a personality that differed from most people, in the wrestling business as well as any other. The more I learned about the Warrior this week through these specials, the more I connected with him. I too find myself in a loner position, differing from opinions that most share. If you need an example, ask anyone who dealt with me during the Columns Forum/Blog-gate era of yesteryear. You can find several people who frequent this website who could see parallels between how Warrior handled business, and how I did with the staff here.
All that aside, no matter what issues WWE and Warrior had for almost 20 years, they were put to rest over the last few months, starting with Warrior being a spokesman for the newest WWE video game. There’s no doubt that those doors were opened because of the commercial produced with Warrior running wild through the offices of THQ, or whoever produces the WWE games these days.
Another sad part of it all is how we heard that Warrior signed a deal with WWE as an ambassador for several years.
And it only lasted for 3 on screen appearances.
I cried today watching that special, because I finally realized that I was letting go of my first hero. I may have forgotten about him, and moved on to others. But you never forget your first, as they say. I knew while watching the Hall of Fame that I was watching something important in my life. I had no idea how important it was. And how important it would always will be.
Peace out, Warrior. I don’t believe in the god you believed in, and I don’t believe you’ve moved on to an afterlife. I do believe you made the most of the life we do have, more than most in fact. And that is the slice of heaven we all should achieve for.
Peace out, Warrior Man.
Evolution vs The Shield
Since I did not catch Raw live at all, I had a different viewing experience than most of you. I avoided the Raw related headlines on LOP, and the Raw discussion thread in the forums, but I saw way too many headlines with the capitalized word of Evolution to think it was a coincidence. I was in a bar in Winnipeg during the final hour of Raw, and one of the screens had WWE on silently, so I saw the screenshots of “The Shield vs ???,” as well as the intro of the first few opponents who were chosen as their opponents. I did not see the actual entrance using the old Evolution theme, but I still knew it was coming by the time I caught the full show on YouTube.
I’m quite conflicted on the subject. I hate how HHH seems to turn the spotlight on himself all too often, but the obvious long term goal is for him to play the role of veteran in an effort to put over the next generation. It’s strange how the position of The Shield has changed from heel enforcers, to the representatives of the the new blood. It might be HHH and his buddies hogging the spotlight, but only a couple of weeks ago it seemed that most pundits were scratching their heads about what The Shield could do as fan favorites. We’ve been given the answer, and it’s most likely the only main event quality 3 man team possible to face Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose. If the result will be seeing 3 former NXT rookies becoming completely establish full time WWE superstars, then I’m all for it. And it would take a monumental ****-up to somehow not end up with 3 new stars in the Hounds of Justice.
And it’s sort of angle WWE needs right now. Daniel Bryan is definitely the star to put the title on, but you also need to surround him with talent to work with and fill the rest of the card.
I expect this storyline to have a few special events before splitting up, and I do see The Shield going their separate ways somehow. There still isn’t much for them to do as fan favorites after they’ve dispatched of HHH, Orton, and Botoxta.
Until then, I’m going to enjoy more awesome 6-man tag team matches.
Intercontinental Championship Tournament
Anyone who has paid attention to my columns of the years knows I’m not the biggest fan of the King of the Ring tournaments and their 1 day multi-match format. But the setup for discovering who the next contender works. Finding a storyline for these 8 men wouldn’t be easy to fit on WWE TV these days, but the tournament format gave proper screen time to all 8 contenders, and created a drama most random matches would never have.
The best part of it all is that I suspect other feuds to be developed out of this. While I have no doubt that the eventual winner will spend a few weeks in a battle with Big E., I get the feeling that we’ll see someone like Wade Barrett losing to Sheamus in the Semi-Finals, but screwing him out of the final victory, leading to a storyline with the Celtic Warrior. If not those 2 developing a feud, then another might. It just makes sense.
And any spotlight on the midcard is a good one. WWE’s roster is stacked with talent, but low on established stars. This could go a long way in changing that.
Speaking of establishing stars, no new heel is getting the spotlight that Bray is getting. He’s been masterful on the mic over the last few weeks, and really drawing me into the verbal back and forths with John Cena. There’s been no single act more captivating than Bray and his cult followers. He’s working with the perfect foil in John Cena, who is definitely putting on his best work possible in getting Bray over.
Much like Evolution putting over The Shield in the end, Cena will do the same with Bray in some fashion. In the meantime, John and Bray are giving us some of the best wrestling TV possible.
I never had much of an issue with the amount of shitty gimmicks and angles Kane has been dealt. I always felt he was a quick turn of events away from being a monster, and that’s been proven over and over again.
But didn’t he just get rid of the mask within the last few months? It was late October when he pledged allegiance to the Authority, and now it’s mid April.
Also, this is obviously just an attempt to get him some advantage as he chases Daniel Bryan. Bryan won’t be main eventing Extreme Rules, judging by the 6-man tag of Shield vs Evolution, but he still needs a credible challenger in the semi-main. Kane with or without the mask does little to create that intrigue for me, but it’ll be better than nothing. I think they’d have been better off stacking the deck in numbers instead, with a Fatal Four Way or 6-pack challenge even, using some of the names drafted to assist Evolution in taking out The Shield. HHH could reward Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, and then include Kane as well. Stephanie’s outburst would have been much more fitting had Kane failed to defeat Bryan on some level before she emasculated him. Kane could have taken the fall in a Fatal Four Way to Bryan, and then have Stephanie berate him, leading to a singles bout at the next PPV with the stakes even higher.
But this feels cheap.
Rybaxel and the Tag Team Division
No other team is on the roll that Rybaxel has been on recently. Since WrestleMania, they’ve had 2 victories, most likely to help their chase of the Tag Team gold from The Usos, who have been crash test dummies to Orton and Batista. I expect we’ll see the Champions change their focus to the top challengers fairly soon.
Of course, the tag team pool is shallow right now. The Real Americans were the true top heel team, but they broke up. Who does that leave?
Cody Rhodes and Goldust
I expect that we’ll be seeing some new teams either formed or debut soon. There’s no reason for The Ascension to stay in NXT at this point, and there are a few too many singles starts floating around Raw without much direction. The tag division is very heel heavy right now, despite having face champions, with Rybaxel and the duo of Rowan/Harper as the top teams after the Usos, and The Ascension ready to rise to the main roster.
We might see an extended run from Orton and Batista eventually as well, or the return of a team from 2 of the 3 members of The Shield. All in all, the division is lower than it was not too long ago, but still healthier than almost any other time over the last 10 years.
Bad News Barrett
This gimmick flat out works, because of the talent backing it up.
I can’t wait to see more of Barrett.
Oh, how times have changed. When last we saw Daniel Bryan, he was celebrating a career-defining WWE World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania 30 and a series of defiant victories over The Authority. Now, the honeymoon has seemingly ended in many ways for the newly wedded Bryan, who returns to a WWE Universe where monsters dwell and Evolution rules all. What awaits the “Yes!” Man and the rest of the roster less than two weeks before Extreme Rules?
1. Evil awakened
Stephanie McMahon might not have created a monster when she goaded Kane into embracing his darker side last Monday night, but she definitely brought it out of hiding. Donning the mask that’s been associated with some of sports-entertainments’ most nightmarish acts, WWE’s diabolical Director of Operations savagely assaulted Big Show after WWE Main Event went off the air last Tuesday night on WWE Network, proving that The Devil’s Favorite Demon had truly returned.
With a bone-chilling mission to demolish Daniel Bryan on The Authority’s behalf, what havoc will The Big Red Monster unleash on the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion?
2. Crossing the line (in the sand)
“In life, you either adapt or you perish. That is Evolution.” —Triple H
Last Wednesday on WWE.com, Triple H issued an ultimatum to The Shield: Either the trio grovels at The Game’s feet and apologizes for their recent defiance against The Authority or they face continued consequences for their actions. After relative radio silence from The Hounds of Justice, The Cerebral Assassin announced on SmackDown that it would be the reunited Evolution vs. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins at Extreme Rules in a Six-Man Tag Team Match.
With The Shield no doubt still recovering from a vicious beat down at the hands of Triple H, Randy Orton & Batista last week, will Rollins, Reigns & Ambrose re-emerge on Raw to confront their Extreme Rules opponents?
3. Big E bracketology
In the semi-finals of the Intercontinental Championship No. 1 Contender’s Tournament taking place on this week’s Raw, it will be Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Bad News Barrett. The winners will advance to a final round to determine who will face reigning titleholder Big E at Extreme Rules in less than two weeks.
Few have known RVD over the years quite like ECW mastermind Paul Heyman, the architect behind the end of The Undertaker’s Streak and the vocal advocate of “The King of Swing,” Cesaro. Despite their prior association in Extreme Championship Wrestling, there will be no love lost between Van Dam and Heyman as an Intercontinental Championship opportunity at Extreme Rules hangs in the balance. As for The Celtic Warrior and Barrett, it will be a true battle of brawlers as Sheamus pits his punishing Brogue Kick against the formidable Bad News elbow. Who will survive the next round of this single-elimination tournament?
4. Tamina’s time?
On last week’s edition of WWE Main Event on WWE Network, Tamina Snuka outlasted nine other Divas in an intensely competitive Battle Royal, earning the right to challenge newcomer Paige for the Divas Championship at Extreme Rules.
As the muscled enforcer of prior titleholder AJ Lee — who held the butterfly-emblazoned prize for a record 295 days — Tamina has long been in the presence of the Divas Championship. Now, however, she looks to rise to the top of the Divas division on her own. Will Tamina continue to assert her dominance this week on Raw? Also, what challenges face the 21-year-old Paige in the lead-up to her first title defense?
5. Extreme measures
With a little help from some doctored images, John Cena had a bit of fun at The Wyatt Family’s expense last Monday night, but the jokes ceased when the Cenation leader threw down the most serious of challenges: Extreme Rules. Cena vs. Wyatt. Steel Cage.
The Eater of Worlds, who has vowed to go “to new extremes” since Cena defeated him at WrestleMania 30, was eerily giddy at the proposition of such a hellacious encounter.
With Cena and Wyatt’s anticipated Show of Shows rematch set to transpire in less than two weeks on WWE Network and pay-per-view, will “The Man of 1,000 Truths” gain a psychological advantage over the embodiment of “Hustle, Loyalty and Respect,” or will Cena’s virtue continue to counter Wyatt’s mind games?
StormDragonz Questions to Ponder
- 1 - Tonight we have Cesaro vs. RVD & Barrett vs. Sheamus to determine the Finals for the #1 Contender Spot for the Intercontinental Championship. Who's your favorite to win the tournament?
If it weren’t for the rumors and spoilers, I’d say Wade Barrett. Cesaro could be screwed out of this match with RVD by Colter and Swagger to continue their issue, while leaving Barrett vs RVD to finish off the 8 man tournament. But I think Cesaro is the safest bet, and we’ll find out how tonight because either RVD an Sheamus will be valued assets to the finals as the established veterans. It feels like this tournament brings the best aspects of what worked for the best King of the Ring tournaments.
- 2 - It was announced that The Shield will go against Batista, HHH & Orton (Evolution) at Extreme Rules. Will any stipulation be added to the 3-on-3 Match?
Something standard, like No Holds Barred, or Tornado Rules.
- 3 - Which team should be next in line for a Tag Team Title opportunity?
I think I already answered that; Rybaxel have earned it.
- 4 - Will we see a Tables Match at the Extreme Rules PPV?
My guess is no, which is a shame since this is a great gimmick for the PG era. A win doesn’t damage the loser much at all, while being a safe bout to not need blood or insanely violent spots. If there is a Tag Title match for Extreme Rules, maybe we’ll see Rybaxel put the Usos through tables tonight to set it up. But it’s unlikely.
Live Raw Discussion
Intro - Daniel Bryan’s Father
What a way to start off this week. Last week it was Ultimate Warrior who passed away after his monumental return to the company, and now it’s the father of the hottest and new WWE World Champion.
Let’s hope the show goes on well enough.
Kane Attacks Daniel Bryan
It’s a bit too pedestrian for my taste, but WWE obviously need to make a contender out of Kane. This “savage attack” is something we’d see midcarders do in a hardcore title match in 1999, but in 2014, WWE needs to hope this connects well enough to sell a few PPVs or Network buys.
For a seasoned fan like me? Meh.
Barrett vs Sheamus
These two have had great battles on TV before. I have no doubt if this match gets time, they’ll match those previous efforts.
White Noise is the move I used as my finisher when I was backyarding, though I called it the Hardc-Orgasm. Those were the days.
Awesome stuff so far, as easily predicted.
Barrett wins? **** yeah!
I am not convinced that this would work on the main roster. I’m also not a fan of his in-ring work, but I’m a big fan of when WWE works new talent into the roster. I hope it works, but I don’t have a lot of faith in it.
John Cena vs ?
I voted for Luke Harper in a singles match. With the options, I’m expecting that the match is booked for Cena to lose, so let’s give Harper a victory. It won’t be clean, but it’ll still be something tangible.
I like the new direction this feud has taken with his recent promo. While many have tapped into Cena’s lack of fan support, is this the first time anyone has started claiming he is purposely taking it away from him. Angle had the classic “I don’t like the black people” line to prove that he could say anything to keep the fans on his side, but Bray is outright seeking to steal fans away from John and boo him.
This is genuinely intriguing.
Los Matadores vs 3MB (El Torito vs Hornswaggle)
Sometimes, you just need to inject some fun into the show. This is a throw away segment/match, but it’s interesting. And Los Matadores need something to until they are inserted into a serious tag team feud. This keeps everyone over, pushes Horny as a heel (which I guess is because they will need to later help promote Leprechaun with him as the villain.
The Divas wish they would get the reactions these little people get.
Did HHH smoke 7 packs of cigarettes before walking out?
Decent recap. It’s shocking how this was over a decade ago, and they are still on top.
Thankfully the pop The Shield’s music received showed that this rebirth is working.
It’s also nice to see a solid face promo from Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns work as well as it has.
The Usos vs RhodesDust
The commentary by Rybaxel has been strange. They sound like faces. I love how they are giving credit to the teams in the ring, but maybe it’s too much?
This attack makes more sense.
Surprised to see the tension between the Rhodes Bros. With the recent Real Americans split, I didn’t see a reason to split another team so quickly.
I love when tag team action is working. And Rybaxel is one of the best teams around. So old school.
Emma vs Layla El
I bet these broads wish they were midgets in bull costumes now.
Cesaro vs RVD
New music for the King of Swing? I like the intro with the alarm siren, but the rock metal sound does not fit the Swiss Superman.
It’s hard to imagine Cesaro vs Barrett in the final, so I’m thinking RVD gets the win. I surmised at the start of the blog that we might see Jack Swagger interfere to cost his former tag partner the match. It’s looking more and more likely now.
This match is disappointing so far.
I liked being right, but not for my credibility, rather because I look forward to seeing more from these 2 in singles action. Cesaro vs Swagger should be good stuff. I’m starting to wonder if we’ll see a new Colter guy to aid Jack to defeat the former Antonio.
Yes, I skipped the Divas. Paige is interesting, but not enough find words worth typing.
Can Lana wrestle, or is she purely a valet?
Rusev destroys Sin Cara tonight? Damn.
I just remembered Truth and Woods might be a tag team in the mix sooner rather than later. Not bad.
John Cena vs Wyatt Family
I really like where this angle is going. This might be the way to get John to finally lose his tired gimmick, as he’s apt to have issue with what the WWE Universe did to him tonight.
I don’t know what to say here. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the Road to WrestleMania, and post Mania storytelling, but did anything really happen in that last match?
Solid Raw overall. It sucks that Bryan’s time was cut short, but it was all for very understandable reasons.
And on that note, Peace out
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