Miami Heat

Wrestlemania is almost impossible to put into words. There is so much to take in. The spectacle, the matches, the crowd, the atmosphere. Ultimately, it is WWE hitting the reset button and initiating a new year of programming.

Wrestlemania 27 was not nearly as good as it was made out to be. There were a lot of fans feeling let down after last years event. It all felt so half-assed, thrown together and poorly executed minus the Triple H vs Undertaker Match.

Wrestlemania 28 was a thousand percent better.

This isn’t to say that Wrestlemania 28 didn’t have its down times. Many people are upset about Daniel Bryan and Sheamus. Despite my sincerest efforts, I simply cannot muster up and explanation. Hopefully, desperately hopefully, WWE has something in mind and this wasn’t just Vince McMahon giving a giant middle finger to the IWC.

However, I would say, Wrestlemania 28 had greater peaks than it had darker valleys. Jericho and Punk definitely put on a show. This match was not the five star classic some had come to expect, but their performance was by no means a letdown. It was entertaining, back and forth and the closing five minutes of reversals and tapout teases was extraordinarily executed. I’d have gone with a different finish, had Punk lose and then have him walk into his hometown of Chicago as the challenger next month.

Triple H, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels reminded us that wrestling can be one hell of thing when it is done correctly. A nearly flawless match that absolutely lived up to whatever hype was drummed up in the past few weeks. That match has a series of moments (Triple H jumping back when Undertaker sat up, Shawn Michaels pleading with both men, the Superkick / Pedigree combination, blood, spit and eats) that should, and will, live on in the legacy of Wrestlemania. What this match did leave us with though, is three important questions: Was this the Undertakers last match? Is Triple H down for good? Was this the last gasp of the attitude era?

There were so many questions, doubts, backstage rumors, on screen bombs and chaotic experiences leading up to John Cena vs the Rock. Did this match payoff? Absolutely. Understandably there are some upset John Cena fans, but as someone who dislikes John Cena (his character, not the Make-A-Wish champion) I think this is the absolute best thing that could happen to him. This will force Cena to go to new places, assuming that he sells this loss and doesn’t come out giggling tonight like he often does after a big loss. If this is handled properly, John Cena could come out of this shinning. Also, no one should associate the Rock winning to the Rock not giving John Cena some amazing shine and Legendary rub.

The Rock proved he could still go. John Cena proved he could hold his own against the greatest superstar of all time. This is absolutely a win win situation that WWE can make into something even more amazing. Remember, folks, there’s always the possibility that this is a best of three series. I certainly hope not, I’d rather this was a one time thing.

Wrestlemania 28 was definitely a great show worth watching and paying attention to. The challenge for WWE coming out of this, which could be a fantastic thing, is to build new stars so that next years roster is full of young talent rather than returning names and old stalwarts. It’s time for a changing of the guard, but don’t be surprised if they wait until Wrestlemania 30 to make the switch. Next year they may want to cash in on that New Jersey, New York attitude with some old names. We know the Rock will be there, speculation points to Brock Lesnar and don’t forget a beer drinking, ass kicking, mudhole stomping guy from Texas with some gas left in the tank who might want to make a last impression.

Wrestlemania 28, as a whole, did what it was supposed to do. It reinvigorated, and for the most part, it paid off what it has been hyping. I rate the event an eight out of a possible ten. The eighteen second world title match kept this away from being a nine. Oh, and did I forget to mention, Good ol’ Jim Ross showed why he is, was , and always will be, the best announcer in the business.

Monday Night Raw has all the potential to be absolutely amazing tonight. Maybe WWE will show us that they don’t just pull out all of the stops for Wrestlemania.

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The Royal Fumble

The road to Wrestlemania has begun. The most exciting time to be a fan of the WWE is finally underway. This is the time when wrestlers become superstars and superstars become legends. The best storylines, the most hype, the best matches, the most excitement… so why doesn’t it feel that way? Why does it feel like this particular road to Wrestlemania is littered with potholes and speed bumps?

The Royal Rumble is a key in the road to Wrestlemania. It is the first spark that begins burning down the fuse to an explosive, exciting and WWE Universe altering experience on the grandest stage of them all. This year, however, the Royal Rumble was more, or less, a Royal Fumble. It was a sub-par pay-per-view with a few highlights, but overall nothing worth writing home about. The entire show didn’t seem to kick into any sort of higher gear until the last few moments of the Rumble match itself when Jericho went head to head with Sheamus.

The opening match for the World Heavyweight Title was nine minutes of little activity. Understandably, Mark Henry was injured and incapable of doing much. Big Show isn’t known for his ability to create movement. Daniel Bryan is a spectacular athlete and fantastic wrestler being thrown into a match with two people who are not, on most days, capable of performing the same style that is conducive to an excellent performance with Bryan.

The next match was an eight Diva tag match which was treated with the same respect, dignity and appreciation by WWE management as a dead raccoon in the middle of the road. I cannot, for the life of me, begin to comprehend the logic (or lack thereof) which goes into the planning of this division. If any planning goes in at all, that is. It seems more likely that Vince McMahon throws darts at a copy of WWE magazine and whatever divas he hits get to wrestle in a five minute match. Unless, of course, we’re talking television in which they get half of that time.

Cena and Kane have an interesting storyline going, but no one believes this is going anywhere other than giving Cena a top tier storyline while they wait for the Rock to be around more often. I love Kane, I always have, but I could care less about this right now. I’d rather see Kane working with someone who has a capacity for selling and a capability to make what is happening seem important. Between Cena’s lack of selling and his half-hearted, half-comedy, all-bullshit faces that he makes, I can hardly keep my eyes focused on the screen. How am I supposed to take this guy seriously when it appears quite obvious he is phoning it in and doesn’t take himself seriously?

Oh, and I’m supposed to care that he’s facing the Rock at Wrestlemania? I care, in the sense that I want to see the Rock again. I’d be just as hyped if the Rock was coming back to wrestle Zack Ryder. The only thing about Cena that keeps me interested in this match is hoping to see the Rock beat the ever-loving hell out of him. Please, please, Dwayne, throw a few potatoes.

Brodus Clay went up against Drew McIntyre. Wow. Enough said.

Finally, we got to see CM Punk defending the WWE Title against Dolph Ziggler with Johnny Ace as a special outsider referee. What a cluster this match was. First of all, I think Punk is an amazing talent and Ziggler is really on the rise. That being said, this match was incredibly below the standard that should, and is, expected of two athletes of this caliber. It is hard to tell if this match was a victim of Punk and Ziggler or of the horrendous angle which was involved with it. Following this match, Ziggler hasn’t continued getting his push so it raises a few eyebrows. Out of a possible five star rating, I gave this match a solid 2.5 Not good enough, and it really should be much better.

Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, the Royal Rumble match itself. Royal may be an overstatement. This was more of a mid-card, nostalgia Rumble from numbers 1-20. It was filler, it was half-assed and it was reminiscent of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s first Rumble victory in 97 when half of the entrants were borrowed talent from Mexico. This speaks volumes, not only about WWE’s lack of roster depth, but of their failure to build new stars. What the hell is happening here? No wonder they went down from 40 to 30. They couldn’t find enough worthwhile names to fill the roster.

Everyone and their mother believed Chris Jericho was winning the Rumble. Aside from his statement on Raw when he said that, at the Rumble, “The world as you know it is coming to an end.” They seem to have forgotten that when they gave Sheamus the nod. Rumor has it that the outcome was changed shortly before the PPV which, if true, is eerily similar to previous short term decisions made by McMahon and his team based less upon what is best for the company and more upon swerving the so-called “smart marks” and “internet fans.” Seriously?

I like Sheamus, but they really left Jericho dangling out there. He had to come out on Raw the next night and basically explain what his comments had meant. The angle between he and Punk could certainly be a hot one, and I am hoping it is, but right now my confidence in WWE’s ability to build is severely shaken. I have confidence in Punk and Jericho, I have little confidence in the creative team behind them.

So the Royal Rumble has passed, but we’re coming out of the gate with more of a limp than a quick stride on this road to Wrestlemania. There is still time to correct it, there is still time to build this into something remarkable. Don’t ever count them out when you’re approaching Wrestlemania, but right now, I want to see a lot less hype and a lot more substance before I’m willing to commit to believing in this being the biggest Wrestlemania ever.

The 2012 Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble was once my favorite WWE PPV of the year. I always loved the Royal Rumble match. There is so much anticipation and excitement to see who is coming in, when, who will be eliminated and how, and of course, who will win. Each year the winner goes on to challenge for the title in the main event at Wrestlemania. For a long time, I really enjoyed going back and watching the 1994 Royal Rumble. I thought the angle of having dual winners was pretty exciting, plus, it hadn’t been done before. These days, I go back and watch a lot of the older Rumbles. Mostly for nostalgic value, but also because they seemed more important back then.

The Rumble is still an exciting match to watch, if for no reason other than to see people clashing in the ring that you never see against each other. It’s always fun to see tag team partners going after each other, two faces locking up in front of a divided crowd. The Rumble also provides moments for people to stand out, to do things that make their time in that ring memorable, even if they don’t go on to win it. I think back to Diesel eliminating a ton of people, CM Punk preaching to the crowd, Beth Phoenix taking a GTS. How about those surprise entrants? It’s always cool to see an old name or a surprising return.

A few things have happened which has made the Royal Rumble fall a few notches in my book, however. First of all, they keep trying to inject a lot of comedy in there. Maybe they’ve done this back in the day as well, but if so, they did it better. Watching someone like Santino get in there and jump around like a fool or Hornswoggle spending so much time bouncing around and emulating various wrestlers. It makes the match seem less important, then again, WWE has spent a lot of time making a lot of things feel less important than they used to be.

Another thing that has negatively impacted the importance of the Royal Rumble is the Elimination Chamber PPV. Whereas, in the past, the winner of the Rumble would challenge for the title and that match would be built up from the Rumble until Wrestlemania, now we have this extra PPV thrown in where the titles can (and have) changed. You lose several weeks of build up and while you could have a Rumble winner matching up against someone you really want to see him face, come February the title changes hands and you don’t get it. Also, which I’ve not really understood, the point of winning the Rumble is to get that title shot but, even if you don’t win, there’s a chance you’ll be one of the handful of people in the Elimination Chamber to challenge for it the next month anyway. I enjoy Elimination Chamber, but I’d move it further in the year. Replace one of those half-assed PPVs that nobody orders with the Chamber. There are several moments throughout the year where there is nothing that has a “big time” feel to it. You could easily shift Elimination Chamber to one of those times.

Finally, and this is highly specific to this year, the winner of the Royal Rumble is NOT going to challenge for the title in the Main Event, unless the Rock wins the Royal Rumble and John Cena is the champion. Hasn’t WWE made it clear that their Wrestlemania main event is going to be Cena vs the Rock? Didn’t we also get Shawn Michaels vs the Undertaker Part 2 as the main event over the title match that year, as well? It may just be a matter of semantics, but just change the language and remove “in the main event” from the promotion. “The Winner of the Rumble goes on to challenge for the title at Wrestlemania.” Sounds fine to me, but if you’re going to tell me it is the main event, and then it isn’t, I feel slighted.

Last year the Royal Rumble was 40 competitors. This year, we’re back to 30. I’m not sure why that is, and I don’t really have a big problem with this, but it’d be nice to have been given some sort of an explanation. It seemed as though last year’s Rumble worked out very well, I know I enjoyed it. Why the shift back to 30? Also, what the hell does it mean that “this year, every superstar is eligible?” Weren’t they always?

This year, it’s as up in the air as it always is. 30 competitors, but really only a handful of people who are probable to win. It seems likely that some names to be considered for victory this year have to be some of the old standbys; Randy Orton and Chris Jericho, for instance. Then again, there has been some speculation about people like Sheamus or the Miz. Will we see the return of some previously injured people, or people who haven’t been on television lately? Sometimes WWE likes to have a big return and give the victory to that person, see John Cena and Edge, for example. Honestly, this year, I have not yet decided on who I am putting my money on. This is partially due to the possibilities and partially due to WWE’s failure to make any one person stand out. It all seems arbitrary sometimes.

Either way, I know that this Sunday I will be sitting in front of my television watching the 2012 Royal Rumble. I can’t resist it, it will always be one of my favorite PPVs. It kicks off the Road to Wrestlemania, it plants the seeds for Wrestlemania, it is the first PPV of the year and it can often show us how the entire year is going to trend. Let’s hope this year is the best one yet.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
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SummerSlam Predictions

SummerSlam is less than two hours away and there is no better time to post my SummerSlam predictions.  Keep in mind all predictions I make here are not based around how I would do it or what I want to see but what I believe will happen based around the development of current storylines, future WWE plans and with WWE’s past booking decisions in mind.

Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett:

A year ago Daniel Bryan returned at SummerSlam to help team WWE in a fruitless effort against the Nexus.  It is somewhat odd it has taken a year for this match to roll around.  Several things have to be considered when looking at this match.  First, Daniel Bryan is holding the Smackdown Money in the Bank briefcase and second of all Wade Barrett has been getting cooled off and pushed aside by WWE for a while now.  These two are certainly in a position to put on an entertaining match, assuming WWE affords them the time to do it by not throwing in too many surprise matches.  Daniel is rising, his Money in the Bank victory and subsequent announcement of his main event title shot at next years Wrestlemania lead me to believe that ultimately Daniel Bryan has to win this match.  There is nothing in it for him to lose and Barrett simply is not on top of the roster like he was last year.  It seems almost as if the creative team just doesn’t know where to put him in the first place which makes me believe this is not a feud they are looking to prolong.  If this is a be all end all match then the only decision that would make sense is to put over your money in the bank winner and begin building a platform that makes him appear as strong as possible.

Winner:  Daniel Bryan

Sheamus vs Mark Henry:

WWE has spared no opponent in making Mark Henry appear as the badass destroyer that is rolling over the big men in WWE without a problem.  Sheamus has stepped up to try and stop this juggernaut figure and to put an end to his vicious ways.  WWE gets behind Henry every year or two and pushes him like a monster but ultimately lose interest in him for whatever the reason may be.  Sheamus is on the edge of a face turn for those who have been paying attention and his recent appearance on Conan O’Brien appeared as almost a test run to see if he could, as a face, be someone to carry some public relations responsibilities.  The general consensus appears to be that he can indeed.   With all of the time, effort and superstars they have sacrificed to Henry it would be extremely counterproductive to end his big man push right now.  Henry has been destroying guys after their matches and putting them “on the shelf” for unknown amounts of time.  The intelligent move here would be for Sheamus to get in some good offense and to look big before Henry ultimately pulls out the victory.  Then, after the match, when Henry goes to injure Sheamus he will either manage to escape or fight back.  Let the crowd get some sympathy for the Celtic Warrior, believing he is going to be injured just like all those before him, and then give them the pop of him fighting his way out of it and standing tall in defeat.

Winner:  Mark Henry

Divas Title Match – Kelly Kelly vs Beth Phoenix:

I feel like for the past few weeks I have spoken about the divas division more than I have in the past few years and this is based around two things:  The drama surrounding the Gail Kim situation and the shining light of hope that this Beth Phoenix / Natalya / Divas of Doom storyline gives me.  I’ve heard rumor that the idea is for the more experienced, better in ring performing WWE divas to carry the title and to make the less talented, eye candy divas to be made to look better because of them.  I certainly hope this isn’t exactly the truth.  Beth Phoenix was once a dominate, tough, imposing diva within this company and the time is absolutely here for her to regain that title and return some credibility to it (credibility which was damaged when Eve won it, crippled when the Bellas won it and ultimately killed when Kelly Kelly won it.)  If the WWE has any ounce of respect or interest in this division they have to give the title to Beth.  Considering the time they’ve given Beth recently (more than 15 seconds) it seems to only make sense that she will win and that the divas division will be granted a little more time even if that is at a minimum.  Kelly Kelly does not look like a woman who could beat Beth nor does she possess the technical in ring skill to finish the job so if she were to win it would be, in my opinion, yet another nail in the casket for this divas division.  Beth has many more places to go with this title than Kelly Kelly has.

New WWE Divas Champion:  Beth Phoenix 

World Heavyweight Title – No Holds Barred – Christian vs Randy Orton:

Someone refresh my memory, didn’t we see this match already?  Like twelve times already?  Oh it’s no holds barred now, that makes it different.  Right?  These two have put on some excellent matches together but the intrigue is absolutely slipping away from it.  It reminds me of the John Cena vs Randy Orton feud that headlined like five PPVs in a row last year.  You’ve beaten this horse to death and though both men have played their parts well it is time for the storyline to end.  There is only one way in which this storyline can end and that is for the main attraction of Smackdown, Randy Orton, to recapture the title and move onto his next opponent (Mark Henry anyone?)  Christian will lose this match, Orton will probably get in an RKO on an announce table after Christian does a lot of dirty, underhanded things to him, but ultimately the viper will win out.  Orton will move on to feud with Henry for the next two or three PPVs and Christian will probably begin sliding down the roster.  I could easily see a heel Christian working with a face Sheamus in the near future though.  For the mercy of my eyes, for the sake of anyone who has already seen this so many times before and to keep these two performers from getting stale, let it end at SummerSlam.

New World Heavyweight Champion:  Randy Orton

Champion vs Champion – CM Punk vs John Cena w/ Special Referee Triple H:

So we’ve come to the main event, the match that everyone has been waiting for (and the main reason I ordered this PPV at all.)  Champion vs Champion plays out tonight and the “undisputed WWE champion” will be crowned.  Undisputed is probably unlikely the way that I see this match evolving.  Cena and Punk showed us at Money in the Bank that they can pull this off and they can make it an awesome match.  The only downside is there is no way they can live up to that match, or at least a very slim chance that they can do it.  This will be a good match, hands down, but it is going to suffer from several factors, one of which is the inclusion of Triple H who will no doubt be involved to some degree.  At least he’ll yell at Punk or Cena when they refuse to break a hold and he has to make them break it.  It’s a spot we’ve all seen a million times before.  The storyline going into this has been amazing and the crowd split between Cena and Punk is definitely entertaining.  The pure fact of the matter is I have two possible outcomes here (don’t worry, I will ultimately choose one.)  Outcome #1:  Triple H turns full heel and costs John Cena this match showing that he has in fact teamed up with CM Punk and that it was a plan between the two of them to get the title from Cena and get rid of Vince McMahon.  Outcome #2:  Triple H “accidentally” costs John Cena this match.  There is some kind of interference or weapon play which leads to Triple H meaning to attack Punk but he accidentally connects with Cena and this leads to the 1-2-3.  Following the match I could easily see CM Punk turning on Triple H to show that he is still his own man and after laying him out, he stands tall with the title (until Alberto Del Rio comes out and cashes in Money in the Bank.)

Undisputed WWE Champion:  CM Punk

Keep an eye out for Alberto Del Rio to cash in his briefcase at this show and bear in mind, if he does, he is probably going to win.  WWE has an upcoming tour of Mexico and Del Rio has been slated to win that title for months.  If they put Punk, Cena and Triple H all at odds with each other more than they were before coming into this show it would make sense.  Plus there would be a continued storyline of who gets a rematch against Del Rio since Cena will argue he lost because of Triple H and Punk will argue he was the undisputed champion even if only for a few moments.

No matter what Summerslam will be amazing.  I will be on twitter tweeting along so join me there @OneCountKickout !

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