My All-time Favorite Superstar: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Through the years, I have followed certain superstars closer than others. When I first started watching wrestling full-time in 1996, the first two superstars I was drawn to were “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, who remain two of my all-time favorites.

In the current era of wrestling, my favorite superstar is CM Punk. Through his persona of an anti-hero, anti-authority figure, he has drawn comparisons to one of the sport’s most popular superstars of all-time, WWE Hall of Famer, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

But, to me, there will never truly be another character quite like Stone Cold. Austin was the foundation of the attitude era, the most popular era of professional wrestling in the last twenty years.

When Vince McMahon entered a “Monday Night War” with Eric Bischoff and WCW, he wanted his once (and unfortunately, now again) family friendly WWF (name changed to WWE in 2002) product to be edgier, as what could be dubbed as “trash tv” saw its highest peak in the late-90s with shows like Jerry Springer and South Park gaining buzz and viewers.

Austin was the perfect candidate to take the reigns of the WWF at war with WCW. Austin worked in WCW from 1991-1995 before unceremoniously getting fired via phone call by Bischoff.

The man who previously wrestled as “The Ringmaster” (a gimmick Austin himself has admitted, “sucked”) truly came into form after winning the 1996 King of the Ring tournament. His promo was directed at his opponent, Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Roberts, a born-again Christian, made references to John 3:16 in a promo before their match. Austin’s signature line from the King of the Ring promo, “Austin 3:16 says, ‘I just whipped your ass”. The promo is undoubtably one of the most important moments as it created one of the most popular characters of all-time.

Despite, at the time, being billed as a heel, Austin’s popularity skyrocketed with his King of the Ring victory. Austin 3:16 t-shirts were the most popular shirts for any superstar at the time. Following a true face turn at Wrestlemania 13, Austin became the most popular superstar in the WWF.

And while 1997 proved to be the year that his career would skyrocket, it was almost the year it haulted. In a Summerslam match against the late-Owen Hart, a botched piledriver left Austin with a broken neck. However, Austin would return to action three months later.

The Attitude era truly began around Survivor Series 1997, the pay-per-view that not only saw Austin return to action, but also saw WWF Chairman Vince McMahon conduct the infamous “Montreal Screwjob” involving Bret Hart losing the WWF Championship before leaving for WCW. The rise of Austin as the top babyface and McMahon as a major evil boss, heel character would later mold the Attitude Era.

Following a Royal Rumble victory, Austin became the No.1 contender for the WWF Championship at Wrestlemania 14 in 1998. With a successful win over Shawn Michaels, Austin not only became the champion, but the face of the company.

1998 saw the Austin vs. McMahon rivalry escalate to one of the biggest feuds in wrestling history. Some of the Texas Rattlesnake’s most memorable moments took place at the expense of his real-life boss.

Austin, dressed as a doctor, attacked McMahon from a hospital bed in one segment. In another, Austin poured cement in McMahon’s Corvette convertible. And in 1999, leading up with his Wrestlemania match with The Rock, who at the time was part of McMahon’s Corporate stable, Austin drove into the Joe Louis Arena with a beer truck, which he used to shower McMahon, his son Shane, and The Rock with a beer hose.

Beer was another thing that is synonymous with the Stone Cold character. There were two things you could guarantee with every appearance made by Austin: 1. Someone was getting Stunnered (Stone Cold Stunner; Austin’s finishing move). 2. Austin was going to drink multiple beers by the time he left the ring.

Austin’s character was likeable by many fans because, as he explained in his biography, The Stone Cold Truth, the character is based on himself, just turned up a few notches. What fan doesn’t want to enjoy watching the anti-hero take it out on his boss?

 

Austin was referred to on many occasions as, “The toughest S.O.B. in the World Wrestling Federation”, and it would be hard to argue against that. In his promos, Austin told it like it was, swore, drank beer, and kicked ass when the time was right.

Hall of Fame announcer and best friend, Jim “JR” Ross compared Austin to his boyhood hero, John Wayne. In many ways, Austin was similar to “The Duke”, as he was an outlaw who took no prisoners.

There were no superstars like him before, and there can never be a true duplicate of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Although he has since retired, he will forever be remembered fondly by WWE fans as one of the greatest superstars to ever lace his boots in the history of professional wrestling. Thanks Steve.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Top 10 Favorite Current WWE Superstars

In the spirit of rankings, I decided to put together a list of my top 10 favorite current WWE superstars to watch. The main criteria for making this list means that a superstar has worked a full-time WWE schedule in the past year, which excludes guys like The Rock or The Undertaker.

10. Sheamus: WWE seems pretty high on “The Great White” Sheamus as he is their current World-Heavyweight Champion. Sheamus, the first Irish-Born WWE Champion is as fiery as his red hair and pale complection.

His character has gone from distructive heel to main Smackdown babyface. What makes Sheamus most enjoyable to watch are his wide range of moves.

Billed at 6-foot-4, 267 lbs, Sheamus is very quick and agile for a guy his size. His Brouge Kick is one of the most exciting finishers in WWE today. During this maneuver, Sheamus jumps in mid air and kicks his opponent’s head. This move displays both speed and power by The Great White.

9. Kofi Kingston: When you talk about a superstar with an amazing arsenal of moves, look no further than Kofi Kingston. Since his debut on the ECW brand in 2007, Kingston has impressed many fans with his high-flying aerial attacks.

The Ghana-born Kingston makes up for what he lacks in size with great quickness and speed. During his career, Kingston has held both the Intercontinental and United States Championships on 5 different occasions, as well as two separate Tag-Team title reigns with CM Punk and Evan Bourne.

8. Cody Rhodes: Cody Rhodes is by far one of my favorite up-and-coming superstars. The son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and younger brother of Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes, was born with wrestling greatness in his blood.

Unlike his charismatic father, however, Rhodes is more of a technical wrestler given his build. He possesses a great in-ring ability and an ability to make different characters work.

Much like his father with the “American Dream” and his brother with the “Goldust” characters, Rhodes has the ability to take what seemingly seems like a ridiculous gimmick and make it entertaining. His mic skills continue to improve, as he is already very entertaining in promos and in character.

7. Randy Orton: Many have criticized Randy Orton in the past for not putting other superstars over enough. However, since moving to Friday Night Smackdown, Orton has cleanly lost many matches to help other superstars look stronger.

Against monster-heel Mark Henry at Night of Champions, Orton surprisingly lost in a clean defeat. At Wrestlemania, Orton again lost fair to Kane, another monster-heel character, in believable fashion.

At just 32, Orton is still one of the biggest names in professional wrestling with one of the most impressive career accomplishments. Orton was the youngest World-Heavyweight Champion in WWE history, and is a nine time world champion.

6. Chris Jericho: Chris Jericho makes this list as I feel he has wrestled a full-time schedule since his return in January (which I witnessed live). Jericho may have ranked higher due in part to how awesome he was during my younger years of watching WWE. However, Y2J still remains one of the most talented and charismatic superstars in WWE.

Wrestlemania 28 showcased why both he and CM Punk are two of the best technical wrestlers in the industry. The match was pure technical wrestling and, despite being overshadowed by the Undertaker/Triple H and The Rock/John Cena matches, was definitely one of the best matches on the card.

Even at 41, Jericho still displays the same wrestling abilities he has for his entire 21 year career. Here’s to hoping there’s no Fozzy tour in the near future so WWE fans can witness this legendary wrestler for a little while longer.

5. Dolph Ziggler: As we reach the top-5, you will notice that my responses will continue to get longer, and in this case, there is no exception. If you read my previous article, you will see that I am very high on Dolph Ziggler (also, the top-5 should be very predictable).

First of all, since his debut in the WWE, Kansas State wrestling star Nick Nemeth has been forced to play many terrible characters. First, it was the caddy of Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero’s terrible self-hating Mexican posing as a caucasian character) known by his real name. This was followed by Nicky, a member of the Spirit Squad, a group of insufferable male cheerleaders.

Nemeth took on the Ziggler character in 2007, introducing himself every week as part of his shtik (I guess to make people forget about his stupid cheerleader gimmick). Over time, Ziggler has won the World-Heavyweight Championship (on a short, forgettable occasion), as well as both the United States and Intercontinental Championships.

Ziggler’s star has risen dramatically over the last year. He has participated in main-event matches and has moved up the card since 2011. This is due in large part to his improved mic skills and entertaining cocky persona as the “Show-off”.

But in-ring skills have never been a question. With a storied amateur background, Ziggler is one of the best technical wrestlers in the industry. He has the ability to sell moves (make opponents moves look more damaging) as well as, if not better, than anyone in the industry.

4. Daniel Bryan: When you talk about pure wrestling ability, look no further than Daniel Bryan. Bryan, born Bryan Danielson, made a name for himself in Independent organizations all over the world.

Before signing with WWE, Bryan was an accomplished wrestler in numerous promotions and countries, wrestling under the name, “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson. Bryan displays a wide arrange of technical moves and specializes in submission holds.

But the big criticism against Bryan was his lack of charisma. For all his in-ring abilities, people found Bryan to be less entertaining of a character.

However, since his heel turn, Bryan has played his role as the cowardly, cocky, and conniving heel to a T. During his World-Heavyweight Championship run, Bryan began repeating the phrase, “YES!” during his entrances and wins to display arrogance and create bad guy heat. This seems to have worked almost too well.

Bryan’s catchphrase of “YES! YES! YES!” has become a favorite amongst WWE fans over the past month. Despite being the bad guy, it seems as though Bryan’s fanbase has grown dramatically over time.

Whether or not WWE continues to push him is still a mystery, but the talent is definitely there.

3. John Cena: Despite what skeptics may say about his character, abilities, or anything else, I still to this day remain a huge fan of John Cena. I, for one, appreciate his character’s montra of “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.” and “Never Give Up”.

But, to me, Cena is the face of the WWE and has put the company on his shoulders since his first WWE Championship victory in 2005. Cena does just as much outside of the ring to promote WWE as he does by being the main character on Monday night’s.

He does countless promotion for WWE as a spokesperson for the company, as representing WWE as a “Make a Wish Foundation” embassador.

Could Cena use a character change to keep everyone happy? Perhaps. Change can be a good thing, and I’ll admit, I liked seeing the Ruthless Aggression Cena displayed at times during promos leading up to his Wrestlemania match.

But for a bunch of overweight Internet posters living in their mom’s basement wearing wrestling merchandise to say that a guy who works as hard as Cena does and excels at his profession, “sucks”, is beyond me.

2. Zack Ryder: It amazes me how far Zack Ryder has come over the past year. 14 months ago, Ryder began his YouTube show, Z! True Long Island Story, because he needed something to get himself over and avoid being released.

Now, Ryder is one of the most popular superstars in WWE today. Since the show, Ryder has had a United States Championship reign and has been on Monday Night Raw on a weekly basis.

Ryder even participated in Wrestlemania for Team Teddy in the Team Johnny vs Team Teddy Match.

Some fans have jumped off the bandwagon for Ryder since the height of his show’s popularity. However, Ryder remains one of the most popular superstars amongst fan support.

My biggest concern is how Ryder has gotten buried in 2012. 2011 saw Ryder win his United States Championship and seemed to pave the way for a huge 2012. However, since January, Ryder’s character has been used as a crash test dummy for superstars like Kane to embarrass in squash matches or injure for storylines.

I still see Ryder as one of the top up-and-coming superstars in WWE and hope that WWE Creative feels the same way.

1. CM Punk: CM Punk claims to be the best wrestler in the world. CM Punk is the best wrestler in the world. It’s as simple as that.

Punk has been my favorite current superstar since he entertained fans by sitting in on commentary for Raw at the end of 2010, but I have been entertained by Punk since his debut on the ECW Brand in 2006.

Punk began his career traveling the Indy Wrestling scene at a very young age. For those unfamiliar, some of his best work in the Indies can be found on YouTube. As he has stated, “I came into this industry as CM Punk, and I’ll leave as CM Punk.”

But his wrestling persona is true to his real life persona. The straight-edge punk lifestyle he displays on TV are his real life moral values. His brutal honesty are what makes his promos the most entertaining in the WWE today. This can be displayed by his shoot promo from July 2011, the promo that elevated his career to it’s peak.

In-ring ability is at top form as well. Punk, as well as many Ring of Honor superstars, may have a small frame for a professional wrestler, but all-world ability in speed and technique. Punk has a wide range of submission, technical, aerial, and striking moves that are inspired by Muay Thai, Japanese style wrestling, and others.

The combination of excellent mic skills and in-ring ability are what make Punk the best wrestler in the world. Despite Vince McMahon’s image of an ideal main event wrestler being a large frame bodybuilder, Punk remains the longest reigning WWE Champion over the past year and one of the top superstars in WWE today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 Things I Want To See Happen In WWE Post-Wrestlemania 28

WWE is currently two weeks removed from the company’s biggest event, Wrestlemania. Unlike in past years, there is much more buzz about the upcoming post-Mania schedule.

As I look forward to the upcoming months, I cannot predict exactly what WWE creative will decide to do with it’s roster, programing (Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown), or title picture. However, I feel that there are many choices to be made in order to have the best quality product for fans, such as myself, to enjoy.

WWE Champion, CM Punk

1. Allow CM Punk to be the face of WWE:  Current WWE Champion, CM Punk, is hands down my favorite current wrestler in WWE. Bias aside, its hard to deny that Punk is, as he puts it, the best wrestler in the world.

Punk has the best combination of in-ring ability, mic skills, an entertaining character, the “it-factor”, and fan support of any full-time superstar on the WWE roster. One could compare Punk’s mic skills with the likes of John Cena or his in-ring ability with Daniel Bryan, but as far as encompassing every quality necessary to be a star, Punk is definitely the total package.

Many critics will argue that his character has lost some of his edge since his infamous “shoot promo” in July, but part of this could be blamed on WWE booking him incorrectly. Although I like that WWE has finally kept the title on a superstar for more than one month (especially with it being Punk), Punk’s anti-hero character may be more appealing chasing the title, similar to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in the late ’90s.

Punk delivers the GTS to Raw GM John Laurinaitis

Either way, WWE needs to get behind Punk as their “main guy” as many fans (myself not included) believe that John Cena’s character has become very stale.

Zack Ryder holding up his custom made Internet Championship

 

 

 

2. Stop Making Zack Ryder a crash test dummy in matches: Zack Ryder is definitely one of the most popular superstars amongst WWE fans. Since the debut of his web-series, “Z! True Long Island Story” in February 2011, Ryder went from a rarely seen on TV jobber, to an internet phenomenon.

Due to fan support, Ryder took what seemed to be an inevitable firing and turned it into an opportunity to get over amongst fans to the extent that he appeared on Raw on a regular basis from the fall season going forward. In December, Ryder defeated Dolph Ziggler (more on him later) at the TLC Pay-Per-View for the United States Championship.

Ryder after winning the US Title at TLC in December

This was the first singles title won during Ryder’s young career. However, since 2012, WWE has involved Ryder in storylines that make his character look extremely weak and gullible. During his storyline with Eve, John Cena, and Kane, Ryder played the gullible fool who was not only heartbroken and used by Eve, but also constantly getting re-injured at the hands of Kane.

Ryder has not only lost the US Championship since 2012, but also all but two singles matches on WWE on-air programming. I’m a big fan of Ryder and think he has the potential to grow as a major character in WWE.

Ryder fist pumping with Eve at Raw in December

At 26, Ryder has plenty of time to develop into a major player superstar for years to come. When he won the US title in December, I felt that it was WWE giving him a major push that would continue to grow. However, as the current program sits, I am beginning to have my doubts.

 

 

Dolph Ziggler with the US Title

3. Push Dolph Ziggler: As far as guys who are both the total package, as well as are up-and-coming superstars, Dolph Ziggler is at the top of the list. Not only has Ziggler vastly improved his mic-skills over the last year, but he is by far one of the best superstars at selling their opponent’s moves in WWE.

Ziggler’s in-ring ability can be traced back to his amateur wrestling career. Much like Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Shelton Benjamin, and others, Ziggler (real name Nick Nemeth) had an outstanding amateur wrestling career before signing with WWE.

At Kent State, Ziggler recorded 121 career wins and is second on the school’s all-time win list. This technically sound ability is displayed in his matches as a professional wrestler.

Ziggler is a major heel character in WWE

Ziggler also has the right look and charisma for his current character. As “The Show Off”, Ziggler embodies a “better than you” attitude and a cockiness that, despite being intended to gain heat, actually comes off as entertaining.

WWE needs to push Ziggler as a serious heel superstar in the main event picture. A move from Raw to Smackdown may be in Ziggler’s best interest as the annual WWE draft approaches.

Also, with newly crowned World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus being a major babyface that WWE seems to be strongly behind, a feud with an experienced and talented competitor such as Ziggler would be a good way to put over either superstar.

Cody Rhodes entrance with the Intercontinental Championship

4. Push Cody Rhodes: The case for a Cody Rhodes push is more or less the same situation as Ziggler, but slightly different. Both superstars had long reigns with the mid-card titles for their shows, with Ziggler holding Raw’s United States Championship for 182 days, while Rhodes held Smackdown’s Intercontinental Championship for 236 days.

Much like Ziggler, Rhodes has the pedigree for success that explains his natural ability. Rhodes is the son of WWE Hall of Famer, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and the younger brother of former Intercontinental Champion, Goldust.

Rhodes celebrating with the IC title after a win

But since his defeat at the hands of The Big Show at Wrestlemania, it seems as though WWE is burying Rhodes. Not only has Rhodes lost every match from Wrestlemania on, but his character is looking extremely weak with The Big Show’s promos that have aired during his matches.

Now, its too soon to say this will be WWE completely giving up what seemed to be a sure push of Rhodes for the future, especially considering his current shirt is pretty much guaranteeing that with its tagline, but in my opinion, it would be within the companies best interest to continue to make Rhodes a major player.

Between improved mic skills, in-ring ability, charisma, and a great deal of youth and potential, Rhodes has all the makings of a major heel down the road.

WWE Tag-Team Championship, the ugliest belt in Pro Wrestling

5. Bring Back Credibility to the Tag-Team Division: Primo and Epico are the current WWE Tag-Team Champions. You may not have known that because they are usually seen on WWE Superstars, a show that is featured online and taped before the two major programs.

Also, as Tag-Team Champions, you would figure that Primo and Epico would be a part of Wrestlemania. Sort of. Their three way tag-team match was on the free-for-all preview aired before Wrestlemania’s official start up.

First of all, the title itself is the ugliest belt in professional wrestling. It looks like a giant penny with a trojan emblem for the logo.

Tag-Team Champs, Primo and Epico, enter alongside their manager, Rosa Mendes

Secondly, the division itself doesn’t have a consistent offering of competition. Unlike the Attitude era, where you had teams heavily involved in storylines that caught the viewers attention, WWE forgets to acknowledge the Tag-Team division. Not only do they rarely feature teams, but pairings of superstars that do occur frequently are usually diffused and broken up within a few months.

In past years, Tag-Team competition was very strong and even included superstars who would eventually gain main event status in singles competition. Now, the Tag-Team division seems like a dying (if not already dead) art form.

Tyson Kidd on NXT, not Raw or Smackdown

6. Put Tyson Kidd on TV: Many people who follow wrestling closely will tell you that Tyson Kidd is one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the industry. The Canadian-born Kidd was the last graduate of the legendary training facility, “Stu Hart’s Dungeon” in Alberta, Canada.

Kidd is also one of the last current links to the legendary Hart family, a childhood friend of Stu Hart’s grandchildren, including his girlfriend, WWE Diva, Natalya. So, it should be no surprise just how talented Kidd is.

The Hart Dynasty included Kidd, his girlfriend Natalya, and her cousin DH Smith, who is no longer with WWE

However, you probably didn’t notice this, as Kidd is rarely used on television. Kidd was used in a segment on the latest episode of Smackdown where he was the Tag-Team partner of the insufferably unappealing, Heath Slater. This must have been the first time Kidd actually had a match on TV in months.

Like Primo and Epico, Kidd was also featured in the Wrestlemania preview match and can be seen, if at all, on WWE superstars or NXT. However, the talented Kidd is getting underutilized by a lack of a solid gimmick and may see a similar fate as his former Tag-Team partner, DH Smith, if WWE decides to part ways with him.

Heath Slater being Heath Slater

7. Fire Heath Slater: I’ll make this short and to the point. Heath Slater is hands down the worst superstar in WWE. Period. He’s worse than Hornswoggle, the Great Khali, or any other dumpster fire of an excuse for a WWE Superstar.

Not only does he have the look of someone that is just plain difficult to look at, but his “One Man Southern Rock Band” character is just irritating. And not in the, he’s a bad guy and is a heat magnet, kind of way. More like the, this guy sounds like he has marbles in his mouth during every promo, kind of way.

Daniel Bryan celebrates winning the World Heavyweight Championship

8. Should WWE Continue To Push Daniel Bryan? YES! YES! YES!: When I watched Wrestlemania 28, I was more of a Daniel Bryan fan than a Sheamus fan, and was looking forward to finally seeing him compete in a title defense at Wrestlemania. As he lost within 18 seconds, I, along with others, was left extremely disappointed.

Bryan has been one of the most talented in-ring superstars in the industry for years. As one of the first graduates of Shawn Michaels’ Texas Wrestling Academy (along with Brian Kendrick), Bryan showed the technical ability needed for a guy his size to excell.

Bryan entrance which includes him yelling out his now infamous catchphrase, "YES! YES! YES!"

Bryan, billed at 5’10, 210 lbs, has a similar combination of speed, technical ability, and submission maneuvers to the likes of Chris Jericho, Dean Malenko, and perhaps most similarly, Chris Benoit.

His heel turn may have been the best thing for his career moving forward. The big knock on Bryan is that he lacks the proper mic skills to be over as a major superstar. To critics, where he excells in the ring, Bryan lacks on the microphone.

Bryan with fellow Ring of Honor Wrestling alumni, CM Punk, after both were victorious at TLC

However, that seemed to change as the real life vegan became a self righteous, conniving heel character. His trademark yelling of, “YES! YES! YES!” repetitively during his entrance seems to have picked up with fans as it is growing into one of the most popular chants at WWE live events.

WWE needs to continue marketing and acknowledging just how over Bryan is with the audience right now. Although he is supposed to be the heel in his matches, many fans are starting to get behind Bryan every week and are tuning into Smackdown to see his matches. Should WWE continue to push him? YES! YES! YES!!!

Ziggler could benefit from a move to Smackdown

9. WWE Draft Giving Superstars a Much Needed Change of Scenery: Although I will go into more detail on this as we get closer to the actual WWE Draft, this must be included. Multiple superstars could definitely use a change of programming to elevate them into the main event picture.

With Smackdown lacking star power, the ideal move for upper mid-card superstars would be to make a switch from Raw to Smackdown and reach main event status. As noted before, both Zack Ryder and Dolph Ziggler have seen a decrease in how they’ve been used in the past. Ryder could be a top babyface on Smackdown, while Ziggler could contend for the World Heavyweight Championship.

The Miz, once a WWE Champion, now stuck at the Mid-Card level

Another Raw superstar that could benefit from a switch to Smackdown is The Miz. The Miz, a former WWE Champion, has been buried by WWE in the past few months. Going from the main event at Wrestlemania 27, to being involved in a storyline in which he barely made it onto the card shows that his stock has decreased over the past year.

Like Ziggler, the heel character of The Miz could benefit greatly if placed in contention for the World Heavyweight Championship.

John Cena sad, no seriously, that's what I googled

10. Stop Burying John Cena: This will probably be my least popular opinion amongst readers and bloggers who bash John Cena. However, in my opinion, the way Cena’s been used since Wrestlemania is basically as a punching bag for past superstars who haven’t wrestled consistently in WWE for several years.

Cena has looked weak against The Rock and has looked even weaker during his storyline with Brock Lesnar. Although I am a huge fan of The Rock and have been for years, I assumed Wrestlemania 28 would be a “torch passing” match similar to Hogan vs. Andre or The Rock vs Hogan.

Cena after losing to The Rock at Wrestlemania 28

I was somewhat disappointed that WWE didn’t give Cena this honor, but am more understanding if somehow they make this a series of matches, or use it as a buildup for a consistent return by The Rock, which I highly doubt. However, the burying of Cena vs Lesnar as it currently stands is far worse.

Not only did Lesnar walk out on WWE while under contract, but he bashed WWE during his time in the NFL, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and UFC. So now that Lesnar has finally returned, WWE decides to take the guy who picked up the ball and ran with it and bury him.

Brock Lesnar has gotten the best of Cena since returning to WWE

Lesnar looks far stronger than Cena in every altercation that has taken place thus far. People will criticize and say Cena rarely, if ever, loses a clean match. Newsflash, that’s the point of a top babyface wrestler. A face wins honorably and a heel cheats. That’s been textbook pro wrestling for decades.

But as far as being a glorified jobber to Lesnar and any superstar due for a big return, the best way to sum up WWE’s treatment of Cena recently is burying.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Brock Lesnar Returns: The Pros and Cons of the Agreement Between WWE and ‘The Next Big Thing’

Brock Lesnar gives John Cena the F-5 during his return to WWE

After being away from the squared circle in the United States for the past eight years, Brock Lesnar finally returned to the company where he was once dubbed, “The Next Big Thing.” Lesnar and WWE agreed to a one-year contract sometime during the weekend of Wrestlemania in Miami, Fla. The following night, Lesnar made his return to WWE Raw.

The second Lesnar’s familiar theme song hit the speakers of the American Airlines Arena, the fans in Miami jumped to their feet with shock and excitement. Not only was this a long-awaited return, but this was Brock Lesnar. Not just the Brock Lesnar who spent the past few years competing in the UFC, but the “Next Big Thing”, the “Manster”, the youngest WWE Champion in the title’s almost 49 year history.

Lesnar will face John Cena at the WWE PPV, Extreme Rules, in Chicago

Obviously, WWE chairman Vince McMahon loves publicity and Lesnar’s name has attracted so much of that through his many ventures over the years. Lesnar was a NCAA National Champion for the University of Minnesota in 2000 prior to signing with WWE. Following his tenure with WWE, he tried out for the Minnesota Vikings in 2004, which led to him being a late roster cut prior to the 2004-05 season. Lesnar then competed in New Japan Pro Wrestling, due to a no compete clause in the United States after he breached his WWE contract by leaving early for the NFL, before becoming a successful MMA fighter recording an 5-3 career record and winning the UFC Heavyweight Championship in 2009.

The question I raise is whether or not the agreement between Lesnar and WWE is a smart deal for both sides. Without knowing more about Lesnar’s past, one would assume this is obviously a major steal for McMahon and WWE, but in my opinion, there are many pros and cons when weighing the deal.

Lesnar during his first run with WWE in the early 2000s

Pros: With Brock Lesnar, you get media and fan attention from the pro-wrestling, MMA, and overall sports realm. This may come as a surprise, but there are some fans (such as myself) who love either WWE or UFC and hate the other. However, the name Brock Lesnar is well-known by both fan bases.

Lesnar was a main event superstar in WWE from his debut in 2002-2004. Between the Attitude Era of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and the current PG Era of John Cena, there was the dominance of Brock Lesnar. During his short time of his previous tenure, Brock Lesnar was a three time WWE Champion, the winner of the 2002 King of the Ring tournament, and the winner of the 2003 Royal Rumble match. Pro Wrestling Illustrated named him the “PWI Wrestler of the Year” and the “PWI Most Improved Wrestler of the Year” in 2002, while ranking him No.1 for the “PWI 500 Best Singles Wrestlers” for 2003.

As a Heavyweight Champion in UFC, Lesnar also gives WWE a chance to spark an interest amongst MMA fans. While many fans may seem skeptical about Pro Wrestling, a popular name like Lesnar’s would help, if nothing else, give WWE a chance to showcase their program for a new audience. Lesnar’s success and brash persona made him extremely popular (and also hated) amongst UFC and MMA fans. True loyalists may decide to follow Lesnar’s return to WWE, a chance Mr. McMahon would salivate over.

Cons: If I wrote this article a week ago shortly after Lesnar’s return, I doubt this part of the blog would be so long and detailed. However, being the fan that I am, I have read plenty of articles, blogs, and reports on the signing since the Raw from April 2nd. Not only have these articles shined a light on past problems involving Lesnar, but it also made me predict future rifts as the two move forward.

Obviously, Brock Lesnar’s psyche is in question. Lesnar has been described as a guy who doesn’t like the spotlight. WWE and UFC have both run pieces on Lesnar’s home life and training regimen, in which on numerous occasions, he explains that he is a quiet person who prefers seclusion and solitude. Upon his return, Lesnar attacked John Cena, the face of WWE and a main event superstar. How will Lesnar deal with being thrust back into the main event picture?

Brock Lesnar T-Shirt from his first run with WWE

Another question may be, “Will Brock Lesnar decide to pursue other interests?” Lesnar breached his contract eight years ago, and as many people say, “old habits die hard.” Who’s to say that Lesnar won’t have an urge to return to UFC? Lesnar retired in 2011 following complications from a past illness known as diverticulitis, however, if medically cleared there is always a chance Lesnar could change his mind and return.

Also, hypothetically speaking, Lesnar could develop an urge to leave his comfort zone and try another sport, as he did with professional football. It would be difficult at this point for him to do so given his past health problems, as well as that he is now 34 and not 25, but who knows for sure with Brock Lesnar. Only Brock Lesnar truly knows the answer.

The most important argument against WWE’s re-signing of Lesnar is how he works with the rest of the WWE locker room, as well as, “How much does Brock Lesnar really respect the wrestling business?”

Brock Lesnar was the youngest WWE Champion of all time at age 25, he would win the title two more times

Lesnar was fortunate enough to get a major “push” by WWE to main event statuses from the very beginning. Even after being absent from professional wrestling in the United States for eight years, it seems as though Lesnar is still receiving the same push from WWE to be a major superstar.

How Lesnar is pushed may rub some of the younger superstars and veterans on the roster who haven’t seen a similar treatment the wrong way. Lesnar is a huge name in the wrestling industry and the sports world, and will be treated as such. However, it’s hardly fair to have a guy that basically turned his back on the company being treated much greater than loyal members of the roster who risk their bodies, lives, and careers everyday for the WWE.

The main problem Lesnar may have with talent is working with his current rival, John Cena. On screen, two rivals will make a believable case at displaying hatred during a rivalry in hopes to build up a storyline and produce interest in the pay-per-view matchup.

During Lesnar’s reign as WWE’s top superstar, an up-and-coming John Cena was skyrocketing to the top. Cena’s then-rapper character built up a rivalry with Lesnar on screen, and according to some reports, off screen. Many wrestling websites have reported that the heat between Lesnar and Cena is actually real, as Lesnar would frequently try to keep Cena from reaching the top of the WWE ranks by complaining about the young superstar to WWE officials. This proved to be unsuccessful as John Cena has been the most successful WWE superstar of the last decade, although many critics could argue that this was after Lesnar’s absence.

Cena bloodied after a cheap shot by Lesnar connects on last Monday's Raw

As I watched last night’s episode of Raw, knowing that there may be some truth to this accusation, I wondered how obvious it would seem when the two would be involved in a promo or match together. I think we all got our answer as Lesnar legitimately hit John Cena in the mouth and busted his lip open.

Now, many skeptics of pro wrestling may argue against this, but the fact is, as much physical damage may be done inside a wrestling ring, you don’t intentionally closed fist hit a man in the mouth without reason. I have heard during many shoot interviews that veteran wrestlers have punished greener talent for working a bad match, but the altercation between Cena and Lesnar was a simple promo where Cena angrily responded to Lesnar’s previous attack by slapping him and Lesnar would retaliate.

F-5 to Mark Henry, who is billed to weigh over 400 lbs

I don’t personally think WWE intended on Lesnar punching Cena the way he did and I feel that Lesnar’s actions are a breach in the Wrestling code. I feel as though Lesnar is not, “One of the guys” but rather a guy looking out for only himself. I also feel that intentionally trying to injure the “face of WWE” and Vince McMahon’s biggest money generator is a foolish decision that would be handled differently if it were anyone other than Lesnar, once again causing friction between Lesnar and the locker room.

Verdict: Overall, I feel like everyone deserves a chance at redemption and to prove that they have changed for the better. There are some glaringly obvious red flags with Lesnar, but the chance to bring back a legendary superstar who can still compete is too good of a chance for WWE to pass up.

The questions remain as to whether or not Lesnar will be truly dedicated to the company, but his stature will improve the ratings, as well as the product. For his past decisions and even somewhat poor mic skills, Lesnar is one of the most talented superstars to grace the WWE ring and has a very popular character to generate fan support, ratings, and money for the WWE.

Lesnar after giving Cena the F-5 during his return to WWE

As for Lesnar, I feel like the WWE is the best place for him to be. Other than my complete bias of love for the WWE and hatred of UFC and MMA, the obvious choice was made for Lesnar to return. He is physically unable to compete at his peak in UFC. Lesnar is a professional wrestler first and foremost in the eyes of many fans and can have an equally successful career if he decides to continue in WWE.

Although the details of his current contract are not officially released, many say Lesnar has a much shorter schedule of working events and traveling than many superstars in WWE. This will not only make his comeback easier, but also keep both sides happy. Lesnar gets a less hectic work schedule and the WWE brings back “The Next Big Thing”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Raw Recap: March 5th 2012

The March 5th episode of WWE Raw was held live at the TD Garden in Boston, Mass. As I start this blog entry, the show has only been over for about 10-15 minutes. Here’s my recap of what transpired during tonight’s episode broken down by each segment.

Segment 1: Return of Shawn Michaels.

The show kicked off with a promo featuring WWE Hall of Famer, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels. For those of you unfamiliar with his legacy, HBK was one of the top superstars in WWE history, with a career spanning from the late 1980s-2010. Known for both his flamboyance, cockiness, and great wrestling ability, Michaels won the WWE Championship three times, as well as 11 reigns with numerous other WWE titles.

HHH and Shawn Michaels Promo

It was no surprise that Michaels was returning this week, as he has been involved with the buildup for the Triple H vs. Undertaker match at Wrestlemania. Michaels’ former tag-team partner and real life best friend Triple H, who is now a major WWE corporate official and the son-in-law of WWE owner, Vince McMahon, was a huge superstar in his own right during the same era as the Heartbreak Kid.

Triple H’s opponent, the Undertaker, is also one of the most legendary superstars of all time. The Phenom, as he is often referred to, has not only a legacy enriched with numerous title reigns, but also an undefeated streak at WWE’s biggest event, Wrestlemania, with a 19-0 record. Undertaker’s last three victories were both Shawn Michaels, in 2009 and 2010, and Triple H in 2011.

The Undertaker will face Triple H at Wrestlemania 28

The exchange between HBK and Triple H was mainly centered around the fact that the now businessman Triple H finally caved in to Undertaker’s challenge for a rematch at Wrestlemania. The kicker was, however, that it seemed he was finally set off as Undertaker claimed, “Shawn was always better” and, therefore, he couldn’t do what his friend failed to do on two separate occasions.

Michaels seemed to have taken this offensively, as the previous week he had returned to talk Triple H into accepting the challenge to no avail. Triple H explained himself, saying he was doing it to protect Michaels’ legacy as one of the all time greats and wipe away the memory of his losses to Undertaker. Michaels responded by saying he would be right about “Who was going to win again”, implying that he was sure the Undertaker would once again be victorious. He followed that up with the big story of the promo, announcing he would be the special guest referee in the showdown at Wrestlemania.

Overall I enjoyed this promo mainly because it proved that one of my all time favorites, and the first superstar I ever watched, Shawn Michaels, still had the chops to entertain despite not being a recurring character for quite some time. The buildup for this match has been excellent so far and I am looking forward to seeing it on April 1st.

Match 1: United States Championship: Santino Marella vs Jack Swagger (Champion)

Santino became the new US Champion on Raw

This was somewhat of a quick match and will get a quick recap. Santino Marella, who is usually used as a comedic character due to his very silly gimmick, faced Jack Swagger, who personally I find to be a bland, boring character. The match itself didn’t seem to be the main focus, as the General Managers of Raw, John Laurinaitis (In the corner of Swagger), and Smackdown, Theodore Long (In the corner of his assistant Santino), quarreled outside the ring. Santino was victorious and upset Swagger to become the new US Champion. However, the storyline seems to be focusing on which General Manager will gain control over both programs. I predict there will be some kind of match to settle this quarrel at Wrestlemania whether actually using John Laurinaitis vs Teddy Long, or superstars of their choosing.

Promo: The Rock’s history lesson comparing John Cena and the Boston Tea Party

Since Raw was in Boston, The Rock shot some previously recorded promos in which he gave a history lesson comparing John Cena to the great events in American history that took place in Boston. The Rock ran down Cena as only he can do, with his trademark catchphrases and the swagger he’s had for almost 15 years.

The Rock was live in Boston for Raw

The Rock compared the colonists “having enough” with the British to the WWE fans “having enough” with John Cena. So, The Rock took to the Boston Harbor and threw John Cena’s merchandise in it. It somewhat reminded me of Steve Austin doing the same thing to The Rock in 1997 when they had a rivalry, but either way, it was a good overall promo.

Match 2: Divas Match (Women’s Wrestling): Alicia Fox vs. Eve

This match was literally less than a minute long. Kelly Kelly, my favorite of all the WWE Divas, was on commentary to put over Eve as a heel following her major heel turn due to her storyline with fan favorite Zack Ryder (more on that in a second). Eve won quickly and cockily talked trash to Kelly at ringside. The fans clearly didn’t pay much attention to the match, as they chanted “We Want Ryder” during the entire short match. Then things got interesting…

Zack Ryder returned to tell Eve off, but it seems he bit off more than he could chew

Zack Ryder’s music hit and the fans errupted. Ryder, star of the successful YouTube show that made him a fan favorite, Z! True Long Island Story, seemed to have been getting closer to Eve for weeks. Ryder, who suffered a broken back at the hands of Kane, intended on telling Eve his true feelings on an episode of Raw that aired the night before Valentine’s Day. That same night after being saved by John Cena, a friend of Ryder’s, she kissed Cena in front of the injured Ryder who sadly was holding roses in his wheelchair. The next week, Eve explained that she was only using Ryder to gain fame and attention.

Ryder came out and said he was glad the two never got together, then explained it was because a phrase Im not sure I could repeat in this blog. Let’s just say it involved broskis before something that rhymed with broskis. He proved how much he meant this when the show returned from commercial when he was grabbed by Eve, who kissed him passionately, and then beamed like a child on Christmas, before tweeting about it on his twitter page later that night. This storyline continues to open and Im not sure where else it will go.

Promo: John Cena in an empty TD Garden

John Cena doing his trademark salute; Cena showed once again why his mic skills are some of the best in the business

The pride of West Newbury, Massachusetts reflected on his upcoming match with The Rock at Wrestlemania. He spoke of The Rock’s success, how his match compares to the Patriots undefeated regular season and Superbowl loss, and how this match means everything to him. Claiming he needed to win, Cena made another inspirational promo that should get even some of his critics on his side. In contrast to The Rock’s comical promo shown earlier, Cena’s was all business. To go head to head with a legend like The Rock, you must bring your A-game, and Cena has done so thus far.

Match 3: Tag-Team Match: (WWE Champion) CM Punk and Sheamus vs. (World Heavyweight Champion) Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho

WWE Champion CM Punk teamed up with Sheamus to take on WHC Daniel Bryan and Chris Jericho

This was a tag-team match featuring both champions from Raw (CM Punk) and Smackdown (Daniel Bryan) teaming with the other’s Wrestlemania opponent. Punk and Jericho are vying for the right to be called the best wrestler in the world, a claim Jericho made before leaving for other ventures and Punk would claim in his absence. Bryan, who recently became a heel, will face former WWE Champion, Sheamus, who was victorious at the 2012 Royal Rumble match, allowing him a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. As with any match involving Punk, Bryan, and Jericho in particular, it was very technical and well wrestled match. In the end, Jericho pinned Punk for a 3-count.

Promo: The Rock compares John Cena to Paul Revere

“What if John Cena had led the American Revolution?” That’s what The Rock asked in his second promo of the night. Then he gave a situation in which he would time travel to save the colonists. Similar to the first, The Rock talked trash and humored the crowd. We would hear from The Rock one more time before actually seeing him in the arena…

Match 4: The Miz vs Big Show

Before the match, Big Show was insulted by a video package shown by his Wrestlemania opponent, Cody Rhodes, who once again took jabs at Big Show’s unsuccessful Wrestlemania history. This did little to stop  the 7-foot 500lb+  Big Show as he ran through the former WWE Champion, Miz, within two minutes.

Promo: The Rock at the Massachusetts State House

The Rock once again made comparisons to the American Revolution as only he could. “The Great One” claimed that The Rock revolution would overthrow John Cena at Wrestlemania. He ended the promo vowing that he’d tell the world what he truly sees when he comes face to face with Cena, and will do so by the end of the program.

Match 5: R-Truth vs. Kane

In another short match, Kane made quick work of R-Truth. Following Kane’s win, Randy Orton came to the ring to face Kane. During the conclusion of Friday Night Smackdown, Kane inexplicably attacked Orton, which he followed by, “Welcome back Randy”, in regards to Orton’s first night back in a WWE ring following a concussion from a few weeks ago. Orton hit his finisher, the RKO, and responded to Kane’s welcome by saying, “It’s good to be back”.

Final Segment: John Cena and The Rock Promo

If you read my previous entry, you will know the situation with John Cena being a babyface and still getting booed out of arenas. Adding to this, he faces The Rock, one of the most popular superstars of all time. So, despite being the hometown guy, Cena was unceremoniously booed out of the arena upon his entrance.

John Cena vs. The Rock will take place at Wrestlemania 28 on April 1st in Miami

Cena responded to what The Rock had said about him the entire night and compared him to The Situation from Jersey Shore. However, he emphasized how the previous week, The Rock seemed flustered by his retaliation to his insults. Cena took shots at himself to further along the idea of one of the all time great talkers in WWE history being, “shook” by him.

Cena asked if he would face the true Rock, calling him, “The Greatest Superstar in WWE history”. Cena claimed he didn’t want to beat the second best, which is funny considering he isn’t calling out Steve Austin, but I digress.

The Rock entered the arena to a huge ovation from the Boston crowd. The Rock seemed to have the fans eating out of the palm of his hand, until there were some noticeable boos.   The Rock explained what exactly it was he saw when he looked into Cena’s eyes, “Fear”. He claimed that it was, “Fear that I’m taking everything away”, which shockingly was followed by a half “Rocky” and half “Cena” chant that seemed to even surprise Cena.

The roles from last week’s promo seemed reversed. This time, it was The Rock who came to the ring toward the end of the segment, made his specific case on how much Cena fears losing all of his legacy when facing him, and then abruptly leaving, much like Cena did the week before.

Comparing two of the WWE's most popular superstars

Cena ended the promo alone in the ring vowing he will be successful at Wrestlemania and will make history while also jabbing at the notion that The Rock cut last week’s promo with writing on his arm to remember his lines. When his music hit, he celebrated with members of the crowd before going over to ringside with his father, wife, and brother-in-law, who were sitting in the front row.

The big surprise to me was that Cena seemed to have win a good portion of the crowd over during the promo, as many chanted “Tooth Fairy” directed to The Rock, who played the same role in one of his movies.

WWE has done a great job at continuing to build this match so far. It seems as though every promo The Rock shoots makes Cena’s character look weak until he retaliates and eventually gets the upper hand. As noted before, to go toe-to-toe with The Rock, you must bring your A-game. Cena and The Rock have both done an excellent job at building their main event on April 1st up dramatically.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I Am a John Cena Fan, And Why You Should Be Too

There is little debate over who the face of professional wrestling has been for the past few years. Whenever you see a representation of WWE on a sitcom, award show, commercial, or any other facet of pop culture, it will most likely include John Cena.

Since his debut on WWE Smackdown in 2002, fans have watched Cena evolve from a no name with a bad haircut, to a white rapper, to one of the most popular/most hated characters in wrestling history. Whether you love him, or hate him, there’s no denying his importance to the WWE.

The wrestling world can be summed up by two phrases: “Face” or “Heel”. A babyface is the typical “good guy”, protagonist character, that the fans are supposed to cheer for. A heel is a villian, who the fans are supposed to cheer against.

In Vince McMahon’s PG WWE, John Cena is the main babyface character on WWE Raw. However, while being the most popular superstar on the roster, he is also the most hated.

As demographics go, many of his biggest supporters are children, women, and military veterans (due to his character being somewhat marine based and patriotic). His biggest detractors are men over the age of 18 who claim that his gimmick has gotten stale, or is too PG for their liking.

The current era of wrestling is considered the “PG era” as the TV rating for all programs have gone from what was a TV-14 in the late 90s-mid 2000s, to a TV-PG rating. By comparison to superstars that shined during the era of their youth, many diehard fans feel that Cena’s do-good, “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect” character is unappealing.

When Cena’s music plays, you can hear both a loud chorus of cheers and boos. During his matches, you can hear a split crowd chanting, “Let’s Go Cena…” followed by a much deeper, “…Cena Sucks!!!”

As someone who has grown up following the wrestling industry from a very young age, I have nothing but the utmost respect for John Cena. Not only has he spent the past ten years carrying the WWE as a franchise player, but he has done so within the guidelines of his character’s montra: Hustle. Loyalty. Respect., both on and off the screen.

Hustle. As far as this phrase goes, many people understand the work ethic he puts into his job. Many say a wrestler’s career is spent on “borrowed time” and to have a long lasting one is very rare. Cena has shown the work ethic to both last and excel in the wrestling industry for over 10 years.

His work ethic has been shown in many promo videos released by WWE depicting his journey from a lanky child, to a Division III Offensive Lineman, to one of the biggest wrestling superstars of all time.

Loyalty. Unlike many other past superstars who gained fame outside of the ring, Cena has stayed loyal to the business that created his star power. In April, he will face The Rock, a household name and arguably one of the most well known actors in Hollywood and well known professional wrestlers in history.

A big criticism facing The Rock is that he claimed that he was, “Back home and never leaving again” after returning to WWE television for the first time in years. He appeared sporadically on and off before last year’s Wrestlemania, many times via satellite.

Don’t get me wrong, The Rock is one of my alltime favorites and this isn’t an article bashing him or his decisions. But when it comes to Cena, he’s had all the roles on TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. and has been consistently on WWE’s programming without missing time, with the exception of an injury during the final 2 months of 2007 and part of January 2008.

Respect. Here’s one of the most important reasons why I find it impossible to hate John Cena (beyond just being a fan of his character). John Cena, the man outside of the squared  circle (wrestling ring), is a man of the people.

He is one of the most requested celebrities for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is on pace to grant 300+ wishes to children with life threatening illnesses. Recently, he teamed up with Post Foods to make a special edition of Fruity Pebbles cereal with his picture and the Make A Wish foundation logo displayed with all proceeds going toward the charity.

He has worked with younger talent trying to make an impact in the wrestling industry as well. Not only does he spend time training with developmental wrestlers, but he is a leader backstage and stays out of legal troubles that have ruined many lesser known superstars’ careers.

To me, John Cena is the embodiment of his creed, “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.”, both inside the ring as a character, and outside as a human being.  This is a phrase I try to live up to everyday in every aspect of life and more people should look to this man as an inspirational example of hard work, staying true to your beliefs and the people you care about, and showing respect to others.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment