Table of ContentsMonday Morning Thoughts
What I Am Looking Forward To
Live Raw Blog
Post Raw Thoughts
Monday Morning Thoughts
Where Was I Last Week?
Despite the strong hopes of other LOP columnists wishing I’d disappear, I’m back after a minor week off. I was on a business trip with the job that actually pays my bills, unlike this one which pays nothing. These columns you read are out of our own personal time. Every word you read is a word not spent on a woman in our lives. Dramatic? Obviously. The point though is that I would not have been available to watch Raw live, and had much of my free time taken up by work as I was in Edmonton (3 time zones away) for a week. I’ll be doing another business trip to Winnipeg in April, so I will most likely advertise that short sabbatical closer to that time. I wondered if it would be worth notifying my readers of my single show hiatus, but this is still a relatively new feature to LOP, and felt there wouldn’t be too much of a reaction if I just didn’t post that day.
But, I’m back for this post-Chamber Raw.
Elimination Chamber Thoughts
Nobody seems to want Botoxta vs Orton.
But besides the build up to said match, last night’s event was spectacular.
It’s odd that 2 PPVs in a row, WWE has delivered an outstanding event that was somehow disappointing because of the implications towards WrestleMania. You take the results that are leading to Mania matches out of the equation, and I’ll be hard pressed to find a complaint about the Chamber and the Rumble of 2014.
There is very little surprise that the Shield were once again part of the match of the night. It has become quite commonplace for the Hounds of Justice to steal the show, no matter who the opponent.
The rest of the night was average at worst, with the main event and opening match ups being quite impressive. Overall, a great show delivered on the Road to WrestleMania.
Well, I guess I should be honest. For the Divas match and the beginning of Del Rio vs Batista, I kept myself occupied. Making lunches, cleaning up after supper, and spending time with the girlfriend; they all took priority over AJ vs Cameron, and the obvious Batista win.
It’s a tough scenario for everyone involved. I’m sure someone backstage wearing a suit is scratching their head while wondering what went wrong. An interesting discussion was started on LOPforums a few weeks back, insinuating that the retaliation against Batista would not be as strong had his surprise return not been ruined beforehand. At the time I agreed, with my thinking being that had Batista just shown up as a surprise entrant for the Rumble, the excitement would have been too high for it to go sour.
I am officially changing my opinion on this. I think what WWE is completely forgetting is how little the main event scene has changed over the last decade. People aren’t booing Batista, and his terrible cardio, terrible plastic surgery, and terrible workrate. Well, they are booing that, but there’s more. They are booing the fact that over the last years, WWE has done a rather impressive job developing the next generation of main event talent. CM Punk was elevated in 2011, and has been in a rather steady top position since then. Daniel Bryan was World Champion in 2011-2012, but he was nowhere near as welcomed as a main event talent as he has been in the last half of 2013 going into 2014. The Shield have been dominant as a faction for over a year, delivering regular match of the night performances, while showcasing Roman Reigns as an obvious WWE megastar. The Wyatt Family are easily one of the most distinct gimmicks in too long a time, and have stayed over thanks to their tremendous mix of gimmick, charisma, and impressive in-ring acumen. Cody Rhodes had a breakout year, and a standout team with his brother Goldust who is riding a wave of popularity that he’s not seen since 1997. Before Mania 29, Ryback was the bound to be the next breakout face of the WWE.
So what does WWE give us going into the biggest event of 2014? The return of a guy who disappeared before all the recent greatness took place. In one match, Batista erased all the momentum of everyone else in the company. It didn’t matter how organically Punk and Bryan reached the highest levels of their popularity, or how the match quality on TV and Pay Per Views has increased with the call-ups of Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose, and Wyatt, or how hot a non-household name return for Goldust has been. All of that was thrown out the window in favor of Batista.
Now, many will point to his upcoming role in Guardians of the Galaxy as a strong enough reason to warrant a title run. Bullshit. As a quick aside, **** comic book movies. They are all the same ****ing CGI cartoons with the same ****ing story. I was sick of them when the first Iron Man came out, and I’m happy to see that the trend is slowly dying. I won’t see Guardians, or any other Marvel movie. Or DC. This might seem like an odd rant, but it’s become increasingly disgusting to see these movies bombard the box office year after year without any real change. A Super Hero is conflicted with a love interest, and the repercussions of his super powers and/or alter ego, while facing some threat of evil. Did I describe every single one of these movies? Damn ****ing right. I’m glad to see more of them fail, slowly but surely. There’s a place for these movies, and I’m not saying they should be eliminated completely. Variety is the key to a good wrestling product, as well as movie theater options. But I am sick of seeing a half dozen of them come out every summer without any change from one to the other. If this rant bothers you, you take your stupid cartoon movies way too seriously. I want my sequel to the Friday the 13th reboot, ****it!
Anyways, the movie role is not a good enough reason to put the belt on Batista. I can understand the decision to put the championship on The Rock. I won’t agree, and didn’t then either, but I can understand it. The Rock is an action star. He’s headlined several action movies on his own, helping to develop a brand. Batista has yet to do anything remotely similar to this. His biggest film successes so far, and upcoming, have been in ensembles where his only requirement was to look big. The Rock at least has dialogue to deliver. Batista is going to be animated in his next project, while he was drawn to have Iron Fists in his last well known film. He’s not going to bring in anyone new to WWE that The Rock didn’t already. I have a hard time believing that anyone who only tuned into Raw and WrestleMania for The Rock over the last few years is waiting for Batista to come back so they can pay attention again. It doesn’t work like that.
Sure, some people will see the hype for the movie in the summer, hear “WWE wrestler Batista” and maybe tune in. You’re not going to get a spike in ratings from it, nor are PPV buys going to go up. It’s a nice marketing ploy that could easily be matched by a good storyline. You know, one like building up an underdog who will finally win the big one?
Batista is a bonafide main event wrestler, and his return is honestly a good thing overall for the company and us fans. The only problem people seem to have is how he’s been positioned over everyone else. CM Punk is upset he takes the main event spot out from the full time workers of 2013, while the fans are upset that the superstars they were cheering for, and paying money to watch are no longer in a position to give the pay off we’ve been anticipating. It’s a struggle, and instead of sliding Batista into a feud that would incorporate him into the main event, he was shot into it above everyone else. that’s not an easy pill to swallow, and the fans are letting WWE know it.
Michael Cole was either a complete buffoon last night, or he gave us the light at the end of the tunnel. I noticed it while watching live, and I recently read another article elsewhere that mentioned noticing the same thing.
After Orton won the Chamber, Cole had a nice rant on commentary, which included what I feel will be a truly telling line:
“Daniel Bryan has been screwed over since SummerSlam.”
WWE might be shoving and forcing Batista into a main event slot at WrestleMania, but they are also acknowledging the Daniel Bryan storyline. It’s not the win that we needed to witness as fans of the underdog, but it was a glimmer of hope that it is still coming.
Many wanted Bryan to have the big WrestleMania moment of holding up the title. I don’t think that is necessary. Daniel Bryan is a talent that should have his push extended as long as possible. Dragging it all out is of the utmost importance. I will always be a fan, but I must admit that his time as a main event star is going to be very short lived. It’s inevitable that he’ll fall into the same issue Rey Mysterio had, along with Chris Jericho, and Eddie Guerrero. Size might just be a coincidence, but all of these men flirted with being the top name in the business, before dropping back down to an upper midcard position. Bryan is riding a wave these men never really had, and the swell of appreciation from the WWE Universe feel stronger than the reactions these men received in their prime. But I still feel that there is an expiration date for the #YESmovement, and WWE will sway back towards main eventers like the other 5 men that were in the Chamber with Bryan.
The key now is to work with the Daniel Bryan fans, and keep it going. There is still some time for Bryan to work his way to the title, and I would suggest he do this by going through HHH first. Bryan vs HHH feels like the more important Mania match than Bryan being inserted into a WWE World Title match. Let Bryan have that huge win, with the fans chanting “YES,” which would then be his ticket into chasing the title over the spring and summer. But a last minute change in directions, with Bryan being Benoit-ed into a triple threat match feels like it leaves very little to work with going into Extreme Rules.
I could be wrong, but I tend not to be.
Hulkamania is Running Wild Again in 2014
In 2003, I was lucky enough to be in attendance for Rock vs Hogan II at the Bell Centre in Montreal for No Way Out. I missed the post-Mania reaction for Hogan after Mania X-8 that was apparently legendary, and most likely caused WWE to switch gears and put the title on the hot return of the red and yellow (by the way, WWE, you should consider doing that once in a while. If the fans jump onboard something unexpected, you used to go with it, instead of forcing your plans on us despite our lack of enthusiasm...). By February of 2003, Hogan was on his way to facing Vince McMahon in another of his string of awesome No Holds Barred losses at WrestleMania.
Over a decade later, what is left for Hulkamania to run wild over? As the host of WrestleMania, will he return to hog microphone and camera time the way The Rock did at WrestleMania 27?
I wouldn’t worry about it. I’m sure he’ll have a posedown, and a segment or 2 with some “dream” encounters backstage (Austin, Rock, HHH, Taker, Shawn, Hart, Vince, Cena...etc.). I highly doubt HHH and Vince will put a lot of stock in what Hogan can bring to the table in any way while they have possibly the most stacked WrestleMania card in history.
What I would bet on though is having Cesaro and Swagger, along with Zeb Colter, have some sort of segment with the most famous wrestler of all time. Besides the tag team name of Real Americans, the heel trio has been well pushed over the last couple of months. While being kept out of the tag title hunt, they’ve been highlighted as singles competitors that will add up to a larger sum than it’s parts. Cesaro’s awesome singles matches with Orton, Cena and Daniel Bryan over the last weeks have elevated him to a new level, which adds to a standout performance in the Elimination Chamber last night. Swagger hasn’t been nearly as hot, but is in an enviable position of getting a rub as the partner of one of the top talents on the rise. Add Colter’s genuinely entertaining heel antics as their manager, and you’ve got a combo that are working their way into a top position as a team without even teaming up. That’s just another bonus and benefit to having a solid tag division. They can return to the tag title hunt at any time they wish right now due to their pushes as singles stars. The point is that they are lucky to be hot commodities that almost seem above a tag title match at WrestleMania (with the exception being the return of a tag team ladder or TLC match for the titles). If they are above the titles, yet not in a storyline, it seems self explanatory to expect them to run in on Hogan at some point.
With the success that Brock Lesnar has had from going to WWE from UFC, many MMA fighters have been rumored to make a move into the squared circle. I wouldn’t take too many of these rumors seriously, but it does get me thinking: would a move to WWE be worth it for Ronda Rousey? To those who don’t know, she’s arguably the biggest star in Mixed Martials Arts today. A former bronze medal winning Olympian in Judo is on top of the MMA world after her 9th straight victory Saturday night at UFC 170. She’s going to be appearing in the Expendables 3 and Fast 7 with The Rock. She’s a pretty big deal, and perhaps even too big for the UFC. The rumors are already alive that she’ll be moving into the movie business sooner rather than later, much like The Rock took advantage of before no longer being in his wrestling prime.
Vince would no doubt love to get his hands on her (I’ll let you make the jokes out of that line) due to her immense celebrity, strong record in a legit sport, and her obvious ability to market herself. And while she might not be up to par with most of the Divas in terms of “looking the part,” she’d in no way be the Bull Nakano or Luna Vachon of the division.
It’s not something I expect to ever happen, because it’s a matter of striking while the iron is hot. She’s undefeated as a MMA female competitor. While Brock was able to make an impact without a legit undefeated streak, he also had the 2 years on top of WWE in 2002-2004 behind him to give an assist. Rousey is in my opinion the type of star that could make an impact right now that would draw viewers to whatever WWE program she’d be involved in.
The problem is what would WWE do with her? Again, there’s no way I expect Rowdy Ronda to ever step inside a WWE ring like Tyson, Mayweather or Lesnar. But suppose she went into the movie business full time, and crosses paths with the Rock more often (UFC also has the bad habit of displaying “tweets” on the screen during their shows, with one from Dwayne Johnson showing his support to his hometown girl Rousey on Saturday night), it could lead to being offered a significant amount of money to make a few appearances. Again, it would lead to her having little to work with. As awesome as AJ has been on top of the Diva’s division, and even if you add the superior Women’s division in NXT, there’s absolutely nothing for Ronda to work with.
She would need to work a Chyna angle, where she gets involved with the men. It would most likely be similar to Big Show vs Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania 24. Man vs woman in a marquee match up. It’s something UFC is unlikely to ever do, but I think even PG WWE could pull it off in some fashion.
Now, I’m not saying Rousey’s namepower matches Tyson, Lesnar, or Mayweather. I’m just saying those are the only scenarios it would be worth both parties to benefit. Ronda would win a match against a man, much like Tyson KOed Shawn, Mayweather beat The Big Show, and Lesnar trounced everyone not name John Cena.
I’ve been a huge fan of autobiographies of pro wrestlers. From WWE prints, to those completely unrecognized by the McMahons, I love reading the tales my favorite performers love to spin.
The latest purchase was of The Hardcore Truth by Bob Howard, a.k.a. Bob Holly. I have a weakness for siding with the writer in most of these stories, but I know I’m just a victim to the perspective they are portraying. I couldn’t help reading his stories and agreeing with him that he deserved more of a push somewhere along the way.
Then I finished the book and realized he was delusional to his talents.
I’ll respect Bob Holly as a performer in many ways. The guy was a legit tough SOB. He would add something to WWE today that no one else has been able to do recently, with the exception of Finlay. I’m not sure if it’s a product of WWE going PG, but it seems far too long since we’ve seen a legit no nonsense ass kicker that we can get behind. Bob Holly was able to deliver this with the advent of the Hardcore Championship, and possibly made enough of an impression in that division to be considered the best Hardcore Champion of all time.
But he likes to think he deserved a bigger piece of the pie. Is it too harsh of me to feel he should feel lucky he wasn’t released much sooner?
Besides that side of his perspective, I really enjoyed reading from the point of view of a midcard wrestler. Most wrestling autobiographies are of major stars recalling their times on top. It was refreshing to hear from someone who struggled to make TV on a regular basis.
I highly recommend the book. Not because it’s well written or all too revelatory, but because it presents something I’ve not read before. From discussing the standard pay for someone in his position, to the struggles with creative, to how he reached the WWF in 1990s, there’s a lot of interesting information about being a midcard wrestler for the biggest company in the business for over a decade and a half.
Now onto David Shoemaker’s newest book. If you don’t know the Masked Man, he is easily my favorite online wrestling writer. I’m sure my bosses are more than trigger happy to ban me for linking to another wrestling site, so do me the favor and google his name and find his work. You won’t be disappointed.
The Road to WrestleMania is finally clear, and the main event of Batista challenging Randy Orton for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is set. However, the lay of the land is anything but calm in WWE the night after Elimination Chamber. The Shield’s dominance is in question after they failed to defeat The Wyatt Family, John Cena and Daniel Bryan are gunning for the Superstars who cost them the WWE World Heavyweight Championship … and, of course, there’s the little matter of a returning WWE Hall of Famer. So check out WWE.com’s five-point preview for the first Raw on The Road to WrestleMania … brother.
Whatcha gonna do?
After a seven-year absence from the empire he helped sculpt with the biggest arms in the world, Hulk Hogan returns to Monday Night Raw. The former Undisputed Champion will likely look to get reacquainted with the WWE Universe before he handles the hosting duties of WrestleMania 30, but the landscape of WWE has drastically changed since The Hulkster last came home. With new faces like The Authority, The Wyatts and Daniel Bryan in play, is “The Immortal One” already in danger? Or will he show them, once again, where the power lies?
After the war
The war is won, and The Wyatt Family are the victors. After a ruthless collision of WWE’s two most fearsome factions, Bray Wyatt and his family stood tall over the vanquished Hounds of Justice at Elimination Chamber. But while Bray seems to have already chosen his next victim (more on that in a bit), what awaits The Shield, who were methodically isolated and defeated down the stretch of their biggest test? Can they right the ship once more? Or has the clock finally struck twelve for one of the most dominant groups in WWE history?
The Viper and The Animal
So it’s settled, then. Randy Orton will indeed defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania 30, and Batista will be there waiting for him. Tensions between Triple H’s two protégés have been boiling for weeks since Batista won the Royal Rumble Match, and with the undisputed prize now on the line between the two, how will Orton kick off the road to his biggest title defense ever? And will The Authority be forced to pick sides?
The big payback
The WrestleMania main-event hopes of both Daniel Bryan and John Cena were dashed inside the Elimination Chamber thanks to outside interference: Both The Wyatts and Kane bucked the odds and forced their way inside Satan’s Prison, much to the detriment of 14-time World Champion Cena and WWE’s “YES!” man, respectively. Neither Superstar has ever been one to take this sort of injustice lying down, so what’s in store for The Wyatts and The Devil’s Favorite Director of Operations?
Before and after
WWE Network officially launches today at 9 AM Eastern, and that means for the first time, the WWE Universe will get to experience the live Raw Pre-Show and Backstage Pass. Tune into WWE Network at 7:30 p.m. ET to get exclusive analysis on the show to come, and tune back to WWE Network after Raw concludes to see what happens when the show ends.
What I Am Looking Forward To
Orton vs Batista - There is no way that WWE is going to let this match headline Mania 30. I’m so curious to find out how they intend to fix this obvious abortion of an angle.
Brock Lesnar - Another piece to the WWE title puzzle is Brock’s demand for a title shot. The biggest rumor for Lesnar is that he’ll face the Undertaker. It seems like a shift in direction for him to be chasing the WWE title, but end up taking on the streak. I know it’s as simple as having Taker come out and challenge Brock and Heyman, but it seems like a waste to have had Brock demolish Big Show and Mark Henry, along with face off with Batista and Orton, if the end goal wasn’t a WWE Title shot.
Hulk Hogan - I wasn’t a Hulkamaniac as a kid, I was a “little Warrior.” That being said, when Hogan returned in 2002, I learned to respect him a lot more than I did as a child. He brings something to wrestling that no one else ever has, and even at his old age, I look forward to seeing him open up Monday Night Raw tonight night.
Live Raw Discussion
Intro - Hogan Network Shill
Hulk Hogan delivers a classic Hogan promo to hype the Network. And the announcers are going overboard on explaining how to use technology… I understand why, but damn it’s ****ing annoying.
At least they are announcing a few things for the show at 9:09: Daniel Bryan vs Kane, predicting Brock Lesnar will make an appearance, and Botoxta vs Del Rio. It’s a start.
Alberto Del Rio vs Botoxta
Bold move to put Batista out live so early in the show. Something tells me we’re about to get a twist in the storyline.
The Animal pointing out the Bootista sign, and Lawler reminding viewers that there was a “bootista” chant, it’s nice to see WWE self-aware in some fashion. Something is up their sleeve, because there’s just no way they can move forward with this match and expect it to work out just fine.
That’s not a chant for Daniel Bryan. That’s a chant for CM Punk.
And Batista pulling the John Cena card of being fine with being booed. Just with half the mic skills.
Has any PPV ever been headlined by a heel vs heel match? I honestly can’t think of one.
Cesaro vs Big E? I sense a title switch.
Big E vs Cesaro
This could be so golden. No matter what, we should be getting a terrific match, but we either get a new IC contender (since this seems to be non-title) or we get Swagger jealous of how impressive the former Antonio looks against the man who pinned Jack 24 hours ago.
From LOPposter Irishsara
up until Big E vs Cesaro that was a REALLY rough start to Raw.
I don’t think there was too much wrong with it. The Batista run is in shambles, so it’s best to move it on to something that will give an exciting twist to the storyline. Had they dragged this out too much and into a later period of the show, you risk losing the interest of the viewers. Right now, booing Batista is the hot thing to do. Now, I’m not so interested in seeing Batista fail, but rather how they will fix things. And we might find out the answer to that before the end of the show.
Awesome match so far. Cesaro really can do no wrong.
I really think that European Uppercut should be treated as a finisher. Much like Randy Orton can nail the RKO on a high flyer with an impressive impact, Cesaro could do that on anyone who is in midair. And it’s something he could nail on pretty much any opponent under 400 pounds. Keep the Neutralizer, but let him have a secondary finisher with that midair European Uppercut. It looks deadly on just about anyone who can sell.
A DQ loss thanks to Swagger jumping into the ring for the Patriot/Ankle lock? Unexpected.
As impressive as Bray Wyatt and his family have been, doesn’t the idea of Bray vs Cena feel like too big of a step down?
Rather standard promo/segment. I’m not sure how much further they can take this. The eventual singles match at WrestleMania seems predictable yet acceptable, but I hope there’s interest that can be built out of it, because it’s hard to imagine Cena losing to Bray. I almost expected Sheamus or even Undertaker to come back up the Doctor of Thuganomics. Something more seems to be coming out of this, but I’m not sure what. Either way, this should be good, if not great.
Christian vs Sheamus
While not a bad match up, it does make me wonder how the rest of the WrestleMania card will shape up. With the rumored match ups being Daniel Bryan vs HHH, Orton vs Batista, Brock vs Undertaker, where does that leave guys like Sheamus and Christian?
The Shield and Wyatt Family backstage
I wish they were clearer on what the The Shield were arguing about. I assume that it was about how Ambrose disappeared, but this should have been pointed out for those who didn’t tune in last night.
Daniel Bryan vs Kane
As shitty as the announcers can be, they do add a lot to the Authority storyline. JBL’s consistent backing of anything HHH is hilarious, and essential. Cole and King can bring up all the positive points, but JBL’s insanity is extremely helpful in keeping HHH and Steph heels.
As for the match, I find it odd how the former tag team champions never had a break-up storyline, but still have a singles feud that makes sense while taking their former companionship into the mix. It’s interesting and refreshing.
Daniel Bryan with the win over Kane clean on Raw. I wasn’t worried that this match was planned for WrestleMania, but it’s nice to see the confirmation.
Will we get Daniel’s WrestleMania match confirmed next? It is still the top of the hour.
Summer Rae vs Emma
I like both of these Divas in doses, but the jury is still out as to being successes on the main roster. Summer has a decent chance, though her heel antics look extremely forced. Thankfully, both can wrestle, but since when does that matter much?
New Age Outlaws vs Usos
Not much of a match, but it’s a nice way to let the sons of Rikishi get the upper hand and keep this storyline going.
As well as move into another how-to use the internet segment.
Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt
This won’t last long, as there needs to be room for Brock Lesnar, and an interruption from the Undertaker.
As a unit, The Shield is amazing. As an individual, Roman Reigns still just doesn’t capture my attention. I know he’s got an amazing future thanks to having all the tools WWE seems to look for, but he’s lacking on some that I care about most. Especially as an in ring performer. When he’s in a team, he can use his fewer moments to strike and look like a star. But in a singles match, he suffers so much.
Even more CM Punk chants. With Cena possibly injured and out of WrestleMania, I sure hope we see him come back. Undertaker/Brock, HHH/Bryan, and Orton/Batista feels empty.
Brock Lesnar segment
With so many issues with the WWE Network launching, will they save too much for the overrun on the network?
Open contract? Interesting.
I still don’t like how the build up over the last 2 months for Brock was to be WWE Champion, and now it’s not, but credit must be given to how Paul Heyman talked their way out of that direction and into “conquering history.”
I still think Cena vs Taker is the only streak match that should ever be booked again, but Brock vs Taker will be an interesting backup plan. I just don’t understand why they want to go this route.
By the way, Heyman’s promo seemed to described the CM Punk scenario quite well.
Surprisingly standard ending to Raw considering how the hype has been for the WWE Network launch for after Raw.
And on that note, Peace out
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