The Wrestling News Experience: 01.07.13
Posted by Stephen Randle on 01.07.2013
In this Experience, we've got a preview for the first Raw of 2013, a look back at the Fingerpoke of Doom, TNA's ratings for 2012, and John Cena's newest merchandising opportunity!
Monday, January 7th, 2013
From 411Mania's Canadian offices in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, this is The Wrestling News Experience, with Stephen Randle!
Not Available on iTunes
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Experience. I'm Stephen Randle, and I hear we're bringing hockey back. Well, at least there's a decent chance of making it to February still believing that the Leafs have a chance this season. Assuming the season doesn't start until February, that is.
But who has time for hockey? We are mere weeks from beginning the Road to WrestleMania, the time when the booking team actually pays attention and all manner of good things can happen! Right? Right?
Tonight, it's the first Raw of 2013, and before we can move on, we've got to deal with a little old business from 2012. With WWE Champion CM Punk cleared to compete, he's been forced to defend his title against the man who was set to face him at TLC before he was injured, Ryback. In addition, the match will be contested under TLC rules. And don't forget, the winner of this match will be facing The Rock at the Royal Rumble, and there have been rumours that The Great One will make his presence felt tonight!
And speaking of making their presence felt, if I were looking for the Shield to show up, the above match would probably be pretty high on the list.
Plus, three men have already declared their entry into the 2013 Royal Rumble, where the winner is guaranteed (probably) a World or WWE Title match at WrestleMania 29! That means that twenty-seven slots remain to be filled, and since they've got three hours to fill, I can't imagine that they wouldn't use some of that to have qualifying matches!
Also, The Big Show has apparently made an enemy for life in Alberto Del Rio, which could lead to Del Rio getting another shot at the World title at the Royal Rumble. Mostly because Sheamus and Randy Orton already declared for the Rumble, so he's really the only one left.
Oh, and maybe John Cena will respond to valid criticisms about his stale character by dropping poop on them again. Is there any hope that somebody wrote that to be deliberately ironic?
All this more, tonight on Raw!
Middle Fingerpoke of Doom
Well, it's the anniversary of the whole Foley title win/"That'll put butts in seats"/Fingerpoke of Doom mess that was one of those big moments in the Monday Night Wars, but Kevin Nash is here to tell you that it was a complete non-event whose effects have long been overstated, and since Kevin Nash knows everything about pro wrestling and we're all collectively idiots, I guess he's right and we should all stop talking about it.
To be fair, Nash said Tyson coming in for WrestleMania 14 was actually the moment that changed the entire Monday Night Wars, and it was indeed a big deal that made WWE look important again (although the ratings wouldn't swing back WWE's way for another couple of months), but the combination Foley win/Fingerpoke was also a watershed moment in the whole story, if for a different reason. In a way, Nash is right, that night didn't change wrestling. In fact, wrestling had been changing for a while. While Tyson showed that WWE wasn't dead in the water and was finally starting to fight back against the unstoppable WCW behemoth, the events of January 1999 showed how far WWE had risen and, at the same time, how far WCW had fallen. It wasn't a moment of change, it was a moment that revealed the impact of the changes that had happened over the past few years. It was a culmination of everything that had already happened, a virtual "point of no return", where WWE began to pull away and WCW headed into its death spiral.
Well, at least Nash was technically correct, the best kind of correct. But man, do you have to be such a dick about it? We get it, you think wrestling fans are marks and think they know more than they do, and you made more money than we ever will and know more about the business than all those nerds who've never been in a ring and thus aren't qualified to judge the great and powerful Oz. You've made that quite clear over the years.
Oh, and none of us would pay a dime to watch Kevin Nash as World champion of a major promotion, either. So we've got that in common, too.
Ratings Mean…Almost Nothing
It's strange, in a year where I, and many other people, started to turn around on TNA like never before, it seems like their TV ratings are not reflecting the goodwill they garnered through much of 2012. In fact, after going to live, 8pm Impact shows over the summer, ratings dropped consistently to below a 1.0, after averaging slightly above that mark for the first half of the year. Over the entire year, the Impact rating has dropped on a monthly basis, to a six-year low in December.
And while ratings don't mean all that much, even over an entire year, like WWE's consistent ratings slide, TNA's drop is a worrying trend given all the apparently positive things they did this year, both in and out of the ring. And what's worse, it seems like there were no spikes at all, no month where the slide downwards reversed, even for a short period. The Aces and Eights, Aries' title run, the BFG Series, none of it moved the needle in a positive direction. And that's really too bad, because from a purely critical perspective, TNA improved a great deal in 2012.
And much like WWE, this is no time to panic and split open our neighbours' skulls to consume to goo inside, because (say it with me) ratings are not the be-all and end-all. As long as Spike TV is willing to air the show instead of throwing on CSI re-runs, TNA will have a weekly television show to build their product, and that's the most valuable thing. Hell, everyone agrees that if the AOL/Time-Warner merger hadn't resulted in Kellner pulling WCW off TV, even that promotion would probably still be around today. Despite the sliding ratings, TNA is not dying (feel free to cut and paste "WWE" into that statement if you'd like) so long as Spike TV lets them stay on the air and Panda doesn't care if they make a dime (and apparently they don't). Instead of worrying, maybe take heart in the fact that in 2012, there was enough good taking place in TNA that it was worth worrying about their future.
Remember, WCW lost money hand over first for years before they hit on the nWo, and WWE was definitely in rough shape before Austin exploded onto the scene. As long as you're alive, there's hope, even for a little promotion stuck in the bowels of Universal Studios. Because you never do know where the next big thing will come from, all you can do is survive long enough to have a chance at being there when it happens.
- Apparently WWE has worked a deal to have John Cena replace Fred Flintstone on boxes of Fruity Pebbles. Am I the only one who feels the need to remind WWE that the whole "Fruity Pebbles" thing was an insult about the crappy colours of Cena's shirts? Better yet, did anyone mention that fact to the people at Post?
- WWE has re-named their upcoming film The Hive to The Call. No word on any changes that would make it a movie anybody was going to actually watch.
- WWE's current deal with SyFy to air Smackdown expires at the end of this year. Out of curiosity, if Smackdown left SyFy, what would become their highest rated show, and would that show also feel the need to mention it every single week? I meant to include ominous music here, but there's no chance Smackdown goes anywhere unless it's somewhere else on the Viacom family of channels.
- After lifting elements of TNA's Open Fight Night for the Champion's Challenge Raw, rumours have started that WWE might also try their hand at running a GutCheck segment on a future Raw. One would imagine that instead of having three competent guys determine if someone is qualified to be a part of the roster, the challenger will be required to kiss Vince's ass.
- And Zack Ryder's Z! True Long Island Story may be ending its YouTube run when it reaches episode #100 next week. So, when Ryder gets blown up in an exploding limo, know that the culprit was none other than John Morrison.
And since we're only emerging from the time-wasting taped shows now, it's an opportunity to look ahead at 2013 and do a sort of Predictive Power Rankings, showcasing Superstars who should, if everything goes well, have pretty darned good years ahead of them.
1. The Shield
Well, it's not like I said the list would be all that shocking. Everything WWE has done with The Shield thus far has shown that they have serious plans for them, and if they manage to be at least half as successful as they want to be, then The Shield should do quite well this year. Now, somebody answer this question: why does Reigns always come through the crowd alone while the other two travel as a pair? The possibility does exist that I'm overthinking that question.
2. Dolph Ziggler
As long as he's still got that briefcase, every day is potentially a very good one for Ziggler in 2013. The additions of AJ and Big E Langston seem to suggest that WWE isn't planning to "Swagger" his MITB cash-in, and Ziggler is a near certainty to be holding the World title, probably before WrestleMania, but certainly before his shot expires in mid-summer.
3. Daniel Bryan
I resisted putting him higher simply because I don't know if WWE values him as highly as we do, or rather if they don't have other people lined up ahead of him for main event spots. Hell No is a good thing for now, but it will get old, and hopefully Bryan gets elevated rather than sentenced to midcard purgatory when everything falls out.
4. James Storm
With Jeff Hardy still a potential time bomb, no matter what he says, and AJ Styles looking like he might be headed for a heel turn, that looks to leave Storm to carry the torch on the face side. As long as the booking team can get over their apparent need to have him blow every title shot he gets, that is.
5. Antonio Cesaro
We may already be seeing the elevation of Cesaro to a legitimate main eventer, as he's been hanging around the top card guys more and more lately, and while I agree that he needs that "one thing" to put him over the top, if he can find it, he'll be a World champion (or at least a MITB Winner) by the end of the year.
6. Matt Morgan
One day they're going to pay off all these years of making him seem like a big deal, so what the hell, let's give him another chance in 2013. Hulk Hogan's mysterious plans have never led me astray before.
7. Wade Barrett
The IC title is a bit of a comedown for Barrett, but I'd say he needed it to regain the momentum he lost after months off due to injury. I think Cesaro might get there faster, but Barrett could be main-eventing by the end of the year.
8. Bray Wyatt
The only man on the list who isn't currently on a main roster, but the gimmick is money, and now that he's recovered from an injury that kept him out most of 2012, I suspect it's only a matter of time before the Church of Wyatt is holding services weekly in WWE.
9. Jack Swagger
This one's kind of a "Hail Mary" play, but we all know that Swagger has always had the tools to do well, and he's got a lot going for him. Plus, he's been off TV long enough and has enough "name" value that if he made a shocking return at some point, they could probably erase his jobber taint pretty easily. And they've kept him off TV and haven't fired him yet, so they must have plans, right?
10. Zack Ryder
Well, we can dream, right?
Inactive List as of 12.31.12
- Alex Riley, out indefinitely as of September 20th (knee and elbow surgeries)
- Evan Bourne, out indefinitely as of March 19th (foot)
- Rey Mysterio, out indefinitely as of December 18th Smackdown (personal)
- Christian, out indefinitely as of September 1st (elbow)
- Curt Hawkins, out indefinitely as of October 8th (multiple surgeries)
- Hunico, out indefinitely as of November 1st (ACL)
- Mark Henry, out indefinitely as of May 1st (surgery)
- R-Truth, out 1 month as of December 17th (leg)
- Sin Cara, out 2-3 weeks as of December 18th Smackdown (knee)
- Derek Bateman, out indefinitely as of October 30th (knee)
- Skyler Moon, out indefinitely as of September 27 (rehab)
- Chris Sabin, out 6-9 months as of June 14th (ACL)
- Eric Young, TNA, out indefinitely as of November 22nd (kayfabe injury)
- Jesse Sorenson, out at least one year as of February 12th, 2012 (spine)
- Kurt Angle, out 2-3 weeks as of December 22nd (groin)
- Magnus, out indefinitely as of November 15th (kayfabe injury)
- The Pope, out 2-3 months as of August 12th (broken collarbone)
- Bully Ray, TNA, "suspended" from TNA as of January 3rd Impact
- CM Punk, RAW, cleared to resume in-ring competition
- Kurt Angle, TNA, returned to action on January 3rd Impact
- Mike Knox, TNA, revealed as Aces and Eights member on January 3rd Impact
WWE Champion: CM Punk
- 414 day reign, defeated Alberto Del Rio on November 20th, 2011 (Survivor Series PPV)
- Next title defense: vs Ryback, TLC Match, January 7th Raw
World Heavyweight Champion: The Big Show
- 71 day reign, defeated Sheamus on October 28th (Hell in a Cell PPV)
**NEW** WWE Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett
- 7 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston on December 31st (Raw)
WWE United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro
- 141 day reign, defeated Santino Marella on August 19th (SummerSlam PPV)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Kane and Daniel Bryan
- 113 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston and R-Truth on September 16th (Night of Champions PPV)
WWE Divas' Champion: Eve Torres
- 113 day reign, defeated Layla on September 16th (Night of Champions PPV)
WWE NXT Champion: Seth Rollins
- 131 day reign, defeated Jinder Mahal to become the inaugural Champion
- Next title defense: vs Big E Langston, this week's NXT
- NOTE: The NXT Title reign only counts what has aired on TV, not when they occur at tapings
TNA Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy
- 85 day reign, defeated Austin Aries on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
- Next title defense: vs Bobby Roode and Austin Aries, Genesis PPV
TNA World Tag Team Champions: Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez
- 85 day reign, defeated former champions Daniels & Kazarian, and AJ Styles & Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat match on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
- Next title defense: vs Joey Ryan and Matt Morgan, Genesis PPV
TNA X-Division Champion: RVD
- 85 day reign, defeated Zema Ion to on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Television Champion: Devon
- 32 day reign, defeated Samoa Joe on December 6th (Impact)
TNA Knockouts Champion: Tara
- 85 day reign, defeated Miss Tessmacher on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions: ODB and Eric Young
- 305 day reign, defeated Gail Kim and Madison Rayne on March 8th (Impact)
And there was a quick TWNE After Dark this week, because let's face it, there was no news. However, I did talk a bit about Raw, John Cena's latest poop joke, and spoiling title changes. Plus, the Question of the Week is all about gimmick matches! Click the banner to access the archives!
411 will have live coverage of Raw tonight starting at 8 pm EDT.
From our promotional department, I've been informed that if you really do like 411Mania and all it provides, or even just me (and really, who doesn't like me), don't forget to bookmark the site in your browser or make 411 your homepage, and tell all your friends about how awesome 411 is.
And don't forget, you can follow all of the everyday goings on in 411 on Twitter.
That's our show, Marsico is in tomorrow, I will be back next week. Also, don't forget 4PC in the Games Zone on Wednesday, and the TWNE After Dark podcast on Thursday, airing live at around 10 pm on Spreaker.com, posted on 411 shortly thereafter.