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Posted in: The PEN15 Mightier
The PEN15 Mightier (Feb 24) Post Chamber and Raw Thoughts - WWE Title + Cena Problem, World Title, Jack Swagger
By PEN15
Feb 24, 2013 - 6:54:29 AM

Post Elimination Chamber + Raw Thoughts

WWE Title picture (and the Cena problem)

I hate when I feel like I’m fitting a mold, but I can’t help but be a part of the IWC mindset of hating how the WWE title picture is shaping up to be ReMatchMania.

Again, I’ve no problem with Rock vs Cena II. It’s a huge match, and deserves to happen, especially with the WWE Title involved. But it still feels so wrong when CM Punk has been leading the WWE for the last year to just be scrubbed underneath, or as third wheel. There’s no truly satisfactory solution in this scenario, at least not for me. Punk in the Triple Threat is the best option, but only because the other options are so much worse.

As usual, WWE has the chance to do something huge with all options. The problem is the obvious history of how they’ve played it safe with John Cena. This isn’t a call out for him to turn heel, as much as it is a request to change something up. A straight rematch, one-on-one would be a great main event. Cena getting his revenge with a win after last year’s Wrestlemania loss would be massive. It’s a great story that is over 2 years in the making. WWE doesn’t get the opportunity to do this often, and as many complaints as we’ve had, they’ve done an exceptional job with it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was solid. CM Punk has been made a star while Rock vs Cena was the top story during that time frame. In a way, we’ve come to expect too much. And sadly, I think I still fall into this category with my hopes for this match.

I’m undecided on how Mania 29 should be booked. I think long term, Punk needs some sort of exposure on the card. Rock vs Cena is a great Wrestlemania match, but it does very little for Extreme Rules, No Way Out, Night of Champions…etc. It’s been said countless times, but WWE needs to draw eyes to Mania using the Rock, but do something to keep them watching once he’s gone. They didn’t achieve that last year. It’s funny to see who everyone blames, be it Punk for being a terrible draw, or Cena for having a crappy year. There’s no one to blame more than WWE itself. They’ve dropped the ball covering their asses. They have record people tuning into Wrestlemania, but can’t seem to keep them watching after the March PPV extravaganza. They tried to have Brock Lesnar make up for Rock’s absence, but his part time schedule and odd actions following his debut attack on Cena left people leaving again.

So, what to do this year? I’m not saying Cena turning heel is the answer. I think it’s one of the possible answers. I think it’s the best and cheapest one as well, as it doesn’t involve hiring someone extra for few appearances and giant paychecks. Cena is the forefront of the company, and there are obvious positives and negatives to this. I wonder how strong a population has turned off WWE because of Cena’s dominance. A few vocal IWC assholes might not be enough to sway WWE into changing their plans. I think of the guys like me, who appreciate his work yet have grown tired of the monotony and have become disenfranchised with his act, and winder if we might be a much larger portion than WWE realizes. Let’s be fair, most of the people who don’t watch WWE anymore, stating that it isn’t cool anymore, usually point to Cena. Not always, and he’s not the only reason, but he’s the biggest one.

The world has changed. Evolved might be the better word. In 1991, the WWF audience grew tired of Hogan domination after his 7 years at the top of the food chain. And that was during a time when he made a dozen TV appearances a year, defended his title a handful of times annually at most (excluding house shows), and the entire company was structured to not be the Hulk Hogan show 24/7. Today’s WWE is so drastically different, with more airtime in a month for someone like Santino than Hulk would get all year back in his heyday. Cena has been the face of the company since 2005, and therefore is front and center with or without the title. For those who have stuck through this are now being submitted to an angle where WWE is attempting to tell us he’s off his game and trying to reclaim his former glory.

Like Cena or not, that’s a lot to swallow. Even Pat Patterson couldn’t handle--

Nevermind. My point is that WWE has seen dropping ratings since Cena became top dog. They’ve attempted so many band-aid solutions over the amputation sized wounds as short term fixes, and the ratings/ticket sales/buyrates/merch sales continue to drop. I’m not blaming Cena, because you cannot blame a single TV character for this plummet. I blame the WWE for not taking the risks needed to. Every top WWF/WWE draw that Cena is deservedly compared to has had a variation to their character that Cena just has not developed. Now, to people reading and thinking “not another Cena heel turn discussion,” please consider the character evolution your former favorites developed through. Most of the major ones were heel turns, and we saw some sort of evolution from what made them hits in the first place. The Rock, Austin, Hulk, Hart, HBK, HHH, Undertaker, and Savage all turned heel/face or changed their characters at some point of their career and rejuvenated their success after being on top. When WWE noticed that their hot streaks were coming to an end, WWE took a risk in some fashion. We haven’t seen that with John Cena since 2003. Something is wrong.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers. I just have the facts of declining revenue for WWE, and my opinion that the efforts WWE has put forward to keep their audience has been nothing but short term solutions to long term problems.

Would a Cena heel turn bring back everyone who tuned out since he took the title in 2005? Probably not. But the landscape would change in a way we haven’t seen since then. It would breathe a life of fresh air into everything and everyone on the roster. I am not saying it must happen, but SOMETHING must happen, because the status quo isn’t working, no matter how you spin it.

No matter has planned to shake things up, be it a Cena heel turn or not, there’s no better time than to do it when over a million people are paying to see it happen.

WWE Title Belt

The first thing I thought of when I saw the new title was the merchandise. Not just the toy belts, but that the design is more fitting for a ring. In fact, I expect a bunch of lame wrestling fans requesting a WWE title wedding ring in the near future.

I’m still rather indifferent to the new design. I have had so many different emotions concerning the spinner belt, and after 8 years, I think I’m just indifferent. The spinner was ok when on John Cena, but really shouldn’t have stayed that design after he dropped the title to Edge or RVD. I think the design itself of the spinner was pretty decent for the most part, but it was too loud. I think if they mixed the best parts of the new belt with the spinner, we’d be in a perfect world.

To be exact, the new title really lets the scratch logo stand out, but “Champion” sort of blends into the design at the bottom. On the spinner, we had a nice touch of tradition with the eagle at the top (though it’s tough to decipher) and “Champ” was at least a different color than the background. I think the perfect balance would be the contrast of the new belt, with the shape and setting of the spinner. Imagine a black background on the spinner plate of the WWE logo, and behind the “Champ” section at the bottom, while also allowing some breathing room for the eagle to stand out more. That would have been just fine for me. Or maybe I just don’t like the pointed bottom and find it too similar to the US Title.

I feel like a real bitch, because while the spinner was too loud, the new one seems too bland. Both are a little too bedazzled for my taste, and resemble something Ke$ha would wear. Jewels just don’t seem fitting for a title in my opinion, but that might be a modern twist I’ll have to accept. In all honestly, the problem with both titles is the logo. That scratch logo needs an update much more than the titles do.

World Title

I was surprised I, and many others, were wrong in thinking Mark Henry was a shoe-in for winning the Chamber, but he still looked like a monster despite being the 3rd eliminated from the match. It made me much more interested in what he will be doing on his way to Mania, so that was a pleasant surprise.

And despite my hesitation to push Swagger so quickly, it worked out quite well. Yet, this title match still feels like the type match that would have been for a midcard title over a decade ago. In no way does this feel like a main event or World title match, but I understand WWE’s positioning of the World title on the card. I’m fine with it in general, but this match does feel like a step below what we have come to expect over the last few years. That has to do with Del Rio still not truly catching on a top face in a rushed and poorly arranged title win, as well as the sudden return and push for Jack Swagger.

I think the oddest thing about it is that this feels like an angle that could use a couple of PPVs and months to properly develop, so it puts the result into question. By that I mean that I doubt either man walks out as World Champion. The writing is on the wall for Dolph Ziggler to cash in at Wrestlemania. A suggestion from Hylton on the LOPforums really opened my eyes to a new prediction. Swagger vs Del Rio will be the first match, or early on in the card, leading to Ziggler cashing in and winning the World title. I also suspect Ziggler to be booked in his own match for WrestleMania, though I’m unsure who against. I would have bet on it being Jericho last week, but both men seemed to be moving away from each other since before the Chamber. It’s hard to imagine Ziggler not being booked in a match at Wrestlemania, or else the cash-in would entirely too predictable. Alternately, I don’t expect him to insert himself into the match beforehand in a triple threat. This all leads to a surprise cash-in, and then title defense later on that night against whoever he’s booked against.

While Del Rio might be a lame champion in my opinion, and Swagger isn’t exactly a name draw as a challenger, the World Title angle seems to be a great addition to the Wrestlemania undercard. But this would be an Intercontinental Title feud in the 80s.

Jack Swagger

I’m doing my best not to go off into a political tangent on drugs. I’m not a drug user (at least haven’t been for at least 7-8 years), and I barely drink. But I feel the same way about drugs that I do about guns: they are harmless unless in the hands of stupid people, and therefore should be legalized, but restricted in their use.

What Jack did here was beyond stupid. If he left the arena in no shape to drive, with the pot in his possession, it puts the entire WWE under a negative light. While hiding marijuana at the arena can’t be too hard, and employees shouldn’t be searched to protect the company from looking bad, it still reflects poorly on Vince that his stars are walking around at work carrying an illegal substance. On top of that, but he left work intoxicated in some way. I’ve driven home while high on pot when I was 19 from a friend’s house who lived 5 blocks from my home, and it was a haunting experience. I firmly believe there are functioning alcoholics and drug users out there. I believe there are people who are so used to being in such a mindframe that they can operate a vehicle. I just have a hard time believing someone who is a trained athlete to the level of Jack Swagger would have put his body through enough punishment to develop that tolerance.

WWE have set a precedent in the past, and a punishment must follow at this point. The severity should be discussed, but letting this go is not a smart move. While I personally don’t see a reason he should be punished at work for actions taken outside of work, especially since he’s already dealing with the law, WWE risk push back if they don’t do something in this case. Top stars like Randy Orton and Rob Van Dam have been punished due to their marijuana usage in some fashion. Swagger must face something, or WWE will be giving off the idea that all is forgiven. Unless they’ve decided to remove marijuana as something punishable in some way, then it’s going to happen.

Thankfully, I expect only a fine to come of this. Swagger is not a major enough player to really need anything more strict than that. The public and media reaction is minimal at best, as you can tell from the back and forth with Glenn Beck. If you think Beck is above taking a cheap shot at someone who was just caught for pot in a twitter war, you’re wrong. He hasn’t mentioned it because it’s not that big of an issue.

Speaking of Glenn Beck, I’ve seen a few complaints about the recent youtube video where Jack and Zeb break the 4th wall and invite Glenn Beck to Raw on Monday. The complaints are based on the fact that WWE is openly admitting it’s a fake show with actors portraying characters, and that this somehow damages the credibility of wrestling. Morons. First off, the audience that is going to be taking the time to watch these videos are Internet fans who are smart to the business. The 7 year olds out there who do buy into the kayfabe won’t be the main audience on youtube. And even those that are allowed to go on youtube with their parents permission will be going to the much more fun videos, and not the Jack Swagger propaganda.

I was wrong in thinking WWE would take a slow burn approach with Jack’s new character, but I don’t think WWE screwed it up with the rush job. He’s a performer who delivers in the ring more often than not, and Uncle Zeb Coulter adds the character and charisma lacking from the former Jake Hager.

Oh, and I fucking love his new theme music.

And on that note, Peace out

Feel free to email me a comment (Email PEN15). One of the best parts of writing is the discussions that come out of it. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
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