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The PEN15 Mightier (Mar 12-18) - Wrestlemania 28 Thoughts: No DIVAS! (plus World Title, 12 man tag + WWE Midcard Title Recap)
By pen15
Mar 15, 2012 - 6:25:53 PM

Mar 15 - Wrestlemania XXVIII - **** the Divas

Mar 14 - Wrestlemania XXVIII - World Title: Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan

Mar 13 - Wrestlemania XXVIII - 12 Man Tag GM Warfare

Mar 12 - Midcard Titles Stole WWE for a Week

Wrestlemania XXVIII Thoughts

Time to switch gears, and instead of covering matches that are booked, I’d LOVE to comment on a match that has yet, and hopefully won’t be booked.

F#ck the Divas!!!

With Maryse complaining, Gail Kim and Mickie bitching from TNA, Maria pretending she can wrestle, and the internal WWE Divas losingtheir cool about the amount of exposure the WWE Divas have been getting… I must say I am ****ing glad they are being left off the Wrestlemania card this year (so far).

I’m not anti-women’s wrestling. There have definitely been some good Divas matches on the ‘grandest stage of them all,’ and Divas who deserved a Wrestlemania spot. Hell, there are Diva’s that deserve it today.

But the facts are that most of them are putrid in ring performers, and the division in general is treated like midgets were in the 80s. When it comes to face Divas, the division is lacking any true contender to the title currently held by Beth Phoenix. And as superior as she is, the division is so poor that even she isn’t deserving of a Mania spot. It looks like it could take another celebrity tie in to make a Divas match worth airing on April 1st.

I wish WWE would put in half the effort into the Divas division that TNA seems capable of with their Knockouts. I’m hard pressed to find a time when the top Knockout angle wasn’t better developed than a Divas storyline. ****, the TNA Knockout tag titles are put to better use than the WWE Diva’s crown.

Let’s look at the Women’s history in WrestleMania, shall we? I’ll bold the ones that were actually well developed storylines deserving of a spot on the card.

1985 – Title match including Cyndi Lauper in a well developed grudge match between the pop star and Leilani Kai.
1986 – Throwaway defense in under 2 minutes.
1994 – Throwaway defense against the champion from 1985.
1998 – Mixed tag match to highlight Sable even more than a standard valet.
1999 – Sable defended against Tori… yawn.
2000 – Cat fight between Terri Runnels and The Kat Stacy Carter.
2001 – Chyna pinned Ivory to become Women’s Champion.
2002 – Triple threat between Lita, Jazz and Trish Stratus.
2003 – Another Triple Threat between Trish, Victoria, and Jazz

2004 – Torrie Wilson and Sable vs Stacy Keibler and Jackie Gayda
2004 – Victoria earned the right to shave Molly’s hair
2005 – Trish vs Christy Hemme
2006 – Mickie James vs Trish
2007 - Melina vs Ashley
2008 – Beth Phoenix and Melina beat Ashley and Maria
2009 – Divas Battle Royal
2010 – 10 Diva tag match
2011 – Mixed 6 person tag

So, out of the 18 matches involving women at Wrestlemania, only 1/3 deserved that spot. Think of that ridiculousness. We live in an era when the midcard or tag titles are rarely defended, but somehow the ****ing calendar and poster selling bimbos find their way involved with Wrestlemania. It’s ****ing ludicrous.

From the overrated performers of the past, to today, there’s been a handful worth watching, nevermind paying money for. Most of the Divas are attractive, but WWE needs to understand that attractive women in entertainment are a dime a dozen. TNA and MMA have it right, as they find the best performers, and then highlight the better looking ones. I’ll take Ronda Roussey over any female wrestler today, and it has a lot to do with her being effective and a Mixed Martial Artist. Watching her dominate the champion and break her arm, while still being pretty damn good looking…

I’m not denying that Divas are a vital part of the WWE profits. But don’t clog up valuable time for stars that will be useless within 2-3 years, when you can develop male wrestling stars who will appreciate the sport into their 40s and 50s. While Eve does perform jiu-jitsu, and is possibly the only true athlete out of the model/wrestlers WWE have hired, there’s no denying that 5 years down the line, when her looks start to fade and her love for the business falls to the wayside (which will be close to the same time that she’s dropped from TV because another young floozy is sucking the right dick), she’ll be gone.

So **** the Divas. Give me WRESTLING at WRESTLEmania. Unless you can bring in someone interesting to provide a match against Beth Phoenix, keep her off the card too. She’s the only current Diva worth paying money for, and only Natalya or Kharma have the potential to be included in that. But at this time, both of them are lacking the interest it takes to earn a Mania spot.

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.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

Wrestlemania XXVIII Thoughts

I’ve only 2 matches to cover out of those announced so far, the 2 Smackdown title matches. Today I’ll tackle the main event match from the blue brand.

Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan – World Championship

Let’s be honest: this angle and storyline is fitting of a mid nineties midcard title feud. No matter how much both Sheamus and D-Bry excel and continue to impress, this whole angle is disappointing due to how little it matters to the card. This isn’t a knock on the men, nor the attention they are getting. Honestly, more has been put into this angle than the WWE Title match on Raw. The problem is that on the red brand, Punk and Jericho take a backseat to live Cena/Rock and HHH/Taker/HBK segments, along with replays. On Smackdown, the World title has center stage, sharing it with only recaps of the long winded bullshit Raw offers live.

But, in the end, just because it’s the big gold belt, it doesn’t change the fact that this is truly a midcard angle. I think it goes to show how little WWE have developed stars, when World Title angles have rushed and unimpressive backgrounds like this one. And I must stress, this isn’t a knock on the talent, or even the quality of the storyline. But by putting the World title on un-established wrestlers, it actually hinders the careers of these wrestlers in the long run. I know I recently commented on my preference to keep the titles and brands separate. If there was a reason to do it, it would be to strengthen the midcard. The top tier of the WWE shouldn’t involve guys like Sheamus and Daniel Bryan, not yet.

Now, I’m saying this under the pretense that WWE truly attempts to portray the World Title as an equal to the WWE Championship. I know many here may claim that this is obviously not the case, that the World Title is the lesser of the 2. To this I say:


See, it’s not the big gold belt vs the gawdy bling belt. It’s simply Smackdown vs Raw. When the World Title was on Raw, be it in 2002-2005 with HHH as the main star, or when Cena and Jericho battled for it in 2008 to 2009, it was the main belt. Smackdown is simply treated at the secondary brand. If this is purposely done, then there’s no problem with their gameplan of allowing stars like Bryan and Sheamus main event. Slowly the WWE is shaping their brands to be tiers, with Raw as the AAA team, Smackdown as AA, and NXT/Superstars as A squad. Which is great, and all my complaints are moot.

I just wonder if this is done with the purpose of ascension, or because of incompetence and laziness. Somehow, this seems to be the case, which is why I’m concerned.

As it relates to this match, the possibilities are wide open. It’s truly an unpredictable affair, as both men are rising stars that can potential be huge money makers in the future. Both could benefit greatly with the exposure of a win at Wrestlemania. Logic dictates that WWE sees more green out of the Irishman, as he carries the size advantage, and a look that stands out. Bryan is most likely the most skillful, and possibly even the more charismatic and superior talker. But due to his lack of size, there will always be hesitance from WWE to push him to the extent that long time indy/ROH fans may hope.

Sheamus as champion makes most sense after Mania, as the WWE is flooded with heels that could break out. With Daniel Bryan as the champion, he’s only got Randy Orton on the current Smackdown roster to really build an angle with over the title before running out of competition. Even if we consider both brands, they’ve used CM Punk enough that at this point and angle would be silly, but would be good down the line. John Cena remains the only top face that Daniel Bryan could work a storyline with. So Sheamus seems to be the safe and smart bet to walk out of Miami as champion. And he’ll have a litany of heel challengers. I expect that with the draft, it’s safe to say Miz and Dolph Ziggler might be headed to Smackdown as they’ve not much use as heels on Raw at this time.

It might not be my personal choice, but Sheamus seems to have all the right stuff for WWE at this point.

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.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

Wrestlemania XXVIII Thoughts

This could end up being the Wrestlemania card with the least amount of matches booked. Right now, the 11th installment holds that record at only 7 matches on the card. The current card for Wrestlemania 28 only has 6 booked, with the most recent one missing 7 names to be added to the 6-on-6 tag match. The only match that could be added would involve Kane vs Randy Orton, and even those men could be added to the GM Warfare Match. Actually, there is the token Divas match as well. Damn.

Either way, I like the idea of a smaller card.

Team Long vs Team Johnny Ace – 12 Man Tag

I look at the 80s WWF era, and the amount of time spent on tag matches. Not singles matches, as back then, rarely did a match exceed 5 minutes. Start by looking at the initial Survivor Series event, where the longest match had the 10 participants on each side. This example relates to the 6-on-6 match at Mania 28, because even if this isn’t an elimination match up, you can’t give a 12 man tag justice without some time. And if you do require a Wrestlemania reference to solidify this outlook, notice how the tag matches were routinely longer than singles matches for the 80s Wrestlemanias. Both tag matches at Mania 2 were longer than the main event. The longest non-title match at Mania 3 was the 6 man tag. The original 2 Summerslam events opened with tag matches, and they ended up being the longest matches on each card.

So I don’t want to see another rushed tag match, especially since something is on the line. Sadly, this will most likely not match the awesome Survivor Series 2003 match with Stone Cold as General Manager on the line, but there needs to be an attempt to reach that level. Johnny Ace is in no way as over as a heel as Bischoff was at that time, and Teddy Long isn’t as over as Austin was. But the blueprint shouldn’t waiver too much.

I like how the team captains have been the assistants. If Kane and Orton are added to the mix, it won’t make them look below the captains, because the captainship was chosen by convenience and familiarity, not performance. Also, a Kane vs Orton singles match with a stipulation can be used at Extreme Rules, without overkill of the angle. For these reasons, I hope they are included as the final members, much like how Stone Cold had to pursue Shawn Michaels to join his team in 2003.

Judging by the available talent, it will definitely be a heel heavy match in terms of name power, unless Teddy Long pulls a rabbit out of a hat, and gets a legend to join the team. With the Hall of Fame the night before, maybe a Horseman, or Ron Simmons (in a veiled Doom reunion with Teddy) could join the team to give it some name power. Rumors have been heavy since leaving TNA, but Mick Foley could bring something to the table in a tag match, especially if his physical condition is a concern.

My hope is that this match opens up the WWE roster after Wrestlemania. No matter the result, I highly doubt we’ll see the same GM running both shows for long. Even if this is an end to the brand split, or the plan is to combine the titles (a huge PEN15 “**** NO!” to either of those propositions), I have a hard time believing that we’ll be seeing the same guy in charge for long. Eventually, the ADD nature of WWE will kick back in. I know Teddy Long has been in charge for a long time, but he was never the center of the show. He’s always avoided angles, kept confrontation to a minimum, and kept Smackdown in tact. Johnny Ace is the opposite, and has done it without charisma, talent, or skills whatsoever. He’s over for being a failure in every sense. Either way, both men would be tiresome if they were given any extra TV time than they are currently earning.

But the roster should benefit, as it will give a solid heel vs face goal on both shows. If Ace wins, then we can see more storyline development, as the face wrestlers will likely band together against Ace and the preferential treatment that his favorite heel roster members will receive.

This match will affect the dynamic of the entire WWE. It won’t get the right attention at Wrestlemania, because this match could logically main event any other PPV. But, it will still shake things up, and make the post Wrestlemania season a bit more interesting.

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.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

How the Midcard Titles Stole the Show

There are a few things that I've long felt WWE should be doing on both their TV and PPV broadcasts, to help elevate the midcard champions on the roster. Unlike most Wrestlemania seasons, all 3 midcard titles in the WWE are currently getting great exposure, or at least are starting to get it. This past week was a great example. As much as we bitch about the amount of time dedicated to the main events, there's no denying that the rest of the time is looking alright for the midcard. Let me show you how.

US Title Elevation

It might seem easy enough, but the US title is special once again. It has nothing to do with the amount of title defenses, or victories the title holder has under his belt. The Unites States championship looks pretty darn good because the matches this week for the title were well produced. On Raw, Santino's win was possibly the loudest reaction of the night. While many could claim “cluster****” due to the GM storyline that was combined into the whole ordeal, they would be wrong.

There is nothing wrong with Jack Swagger, nor was he a bad champion. It was a bad reign because he wasn't on TV. It's quite obvious that WWE jumped the gun with Zack Ryder as US champ, and didn't know what to do with it. It was a bit of a waste, as he's been “sidelined” since losing the belt. Swagger was getting decent heat, and in all honesty, is one of the best candidates to hold the US title on Raw.

The problem is that once he won the title, it wasn't mentioned again. I think the eternally under-booked Tag Team Titles had more attention over the last 2 months than the United States Championship. This wouldn't be so bad if the prior angle for the gold wasn't so ****ing hot. Ryder vs Ziggler would have been perfectly booked for Wrestlemania, or for the drought that usually follows it. It's hard to deny Ziggler as a future major player, so he's left without any direction going into Wrestlemania.

I keep thinking of Randy Orton's 2004, where he held the Intercontinental Championship, was apart of a non-title tag match at Mania that kept him in the spotlight, then had a great summer as champion, eventually losing the title, and then getting the main event win. The IC title didn't need to be defended to make the title look important because the champion looked important, which therefore fed into the title's reputation.

Jack Swagger wasn't in the midst of any momentum, nor had the tools to suddenly make momentum occur (unlike Cody Rhodes as the Smackdown midcard title holder). So while he's most likely deserving of the belt more in terms of future possibilities and skills, Santino is on a hot streak that shouldn't be ignored. So the big win on Raw was great.

But the Smackdown title defense was even better. Midcard titles getting a gimmick on a PPV might not be the draw we'd like them to be, giving a Cage Match for the US gold helped give Swagger more attention in a loss than he's received since dominating and injured Ryder. Santino continues riding high with his victory, and there's potential going forward. Santino can be a part of the potential General Manager based tag match, and continue into the post-Mania season with an angle stemming from that feud. Santino doesn't have the future Orton had in 2004, but it's still a step in the right direction for a title that has been ignored for a couple months.

Intercontinental Title Elevation

Intercontinental Champions will always have a special place in my heart. When I grew up and started getting into WWF, I was more intrigued by Ultimate Warrior as IC than Hogan as WWF champ. This continued with other eras when the midcard was more exciting than the main event, with IC champs such as Owen Hart, Austin, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle, Christian, and Shelton Benjamin. There's been many interesting champions in the midcard, but I think what makes the names above stand out is because their youth and inexperience in front of my eyes excites me to see what his future holds. Right now, Daniel Bryan is a terrific World Heavyweight Champion, and I hope his future is bright. But let's face it, there's not much room for him to move above his current position. He's pretty much reached as high as he can, so now the interest is in seeing how he'll handle being at the top.

Cody Rhodes on the other hand is still striving to reach that level. As a fan, I'm interested not just in his character now, but also where he'll go next. There's more room for him to move, both laterally and above, while D-Bry can only go down the ladder. In that sense, the midcard champion will always be more interesting than the world champion.

But, in the modern era, midcard champions are rarely given anything interesting to do. Thankfully, Cody Rhodes has been one of the exceptions. Starting with the angle against Booker T, and now the giant test of Big Show at Wrestlemania, Rhodes is getting the biggest share of spotlight of his career. And he's not falling into the wayside like so many other future heel stars in WWE right now. And win or lose, this is most likely going to be the biggest match of his career so far. The win against Rey Mysterio last year was definitely huge, but a man of Rhodes' size getting a victory over the Big Show of all people would be much more impressive.

But let's just look at Smackdown this week. He was in the main event tag match with 4 former World/WWE champions, along with the current World Champion. I know many will say the title needs to be defended to look prestigious, but the truth is that by making Rhodes look elite by having him rub shoulders with 5 top tier stars, it'll make his title matches even more important. Suddenly a match against Big Zeke is below him, because he was tagging with World Champions last week.

And forget the midcard title for a second, by associating 6 stars as main event material, it elevates everyone involved. I'll always be a fan of random tag, 6 man or 8 man tag matches with singles stars, as it puts them on a level playing field. A classic example is the main event from 1997's In Your House: Canadian Stampede. Stone Cold Steve Austin was riding high, while LOD carried a lot of weight already, and Goldust was a former Intercontinental Champion. This left Ken Shamrock who was new to the company and still getting established. By association with this team, he was a credible European Title challenger just a month later, while Owen Hart had his hottest victory since pinning his brother at Wrestlemania X, 3 and a half years earlier. Everyone earned benefits from this match, with no titles at stake. It led to 2 hot title matches at Summerslam, and gave Austin a terrific stepping stone in his rise as top star of all time. The end result was a great title win of the IC belt.

We need more of these multi-competitor matches, and not just tags. Fatal 4 Ways, Triple Threats, Scramble Matches, along with the Elimination Chamber, can all attribute to developing stars. As well as contenders. Who would have complained had the last Raw of February had Santino win a Triple Threat match against Kofi Kingston and David Otunga to earn the title shot? I know it didn't fit into the Teddy as Raw GM storyline, but I'm just using an example. If the TV shows are trying to fit more people in the ring, then have more of them in the ring at the same time.

But I digress. Cody Rhodes as the Smackdown white strap midcard champion is showing his credentials as future main event talent. If only WWE booked all midcard champs as well as they have with Rhodes.

Tag Titles Elevation

I won't ridicule your intelligence by saying that the tag division looks good right now. As has been correctly pointed out by mizfan and others in the forums, the current champs are heel champs without storylines, or a heel dynamic. They don't really cheat to win, they don't piss people off, they don't have any beef. They are just ethnic guys who come out to ethnic sounding music, with ethnic names, and get booed. Lovely.

But, there is a bright side to things (and mizfan isn't the only one who can find it). Recently, we've seen Kofi and R-Truth start to tag together. Even more importantly, Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler have been doing the same. Concerning Dolph, it might be a stretch to call tag title championship a lateral move from being WWE Title contender just 2 months ago. But it's not as bad as dropping to the US title so soon after losing it.

As we have seen a few times since the unification of both the World and WWE Tag Team Championships, there are times when it's the 2nd belt on the ladder. This has little to do with amount of defenses, but everything to do with who holds the belts, and what attention they garner. The evidence of this can be found from the first TLC PPV event, when Degeneration X vs JeriShow main evented. That time frame is an indication of what those tag titles can be, when WWE books the champions and division well.

Obviously, LOP is never lacking “how to reestablish the WWE tag division” ideas, including my own column a couple of months ago, so I won't repeat that. What I will say is that by putting the tag belts on guys who've not quite made it to the top like Swagger/Ziggler, they can earn victories over guys higher on the card without damaging anyone's credibility. Swagger can get the Ankle Lock submission over Big Show in a tag title match, and Big Show could challenge for the WWE or World Title the next PPV. That's something that couldn't occur with a singles match, at least not as easily.

Let's face the truth: Primo and Epico will most likely never do anything after dropping those belts. Talent aside, it's hard to imagine WWE thinking up anything else for them. Fair or not, that’s the truth, so let them put someone over who WWE will put effort into, and move on from there. Give Primo and Epico as much juice as possible, which might help get the match over enough for the eventual winners to benefit from it as well.

I think the tag titles should be defended on TV more often, almost like a TV title. WWE needs that in general, but making it the tag titles makes the most sense. Even if it’s defended on NXT or Superstars.

Good week for the midcard titles, I must say.

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. I don’t look at the facebook comments too much, so I’ll hope for your email instead. My hope is that your response could be used in a column to publicly discuss your comments.
Follow me on Twitter if you wish, though I don't really do much with it.

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