The Wrestling News Experience: 02.04.13
Posted by Stephen Randle on 02.04.2013
A preview of tonight's Raw including the fallout from Brock Lesnar's attack on Vince McMahon, plus news and thoughts on the future of WWE's video game license, the supposed death of the WWE tag division and more!
Monday, February 4th, 2013
From 411Mania's Canadian offices in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, this is The Wrestling News Experience, with Stephen Randle!
Does The Month Seem Shorter To Anyone Else?
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Experience, I'm Stephen Randle. I hope you're all enjoying your Super Bowl hangovers, and congratulations to whatever team won the game. I'm just messing with you, I know exactly who won. And so do you. So we can all move on with our lives, right?
More importantly, only seven more days until pitchers and catchers report!
Tonight, the fallout from Paul Heyman's performance review will take place, as WWE finds itself short one Chairman thanks to the actions of one Brock Lesnar. If only there was somebody in the management hierarchy with an outstanding grudge against Lesnar who might stand up for his crazy and decrepit father-in-law!
Meanwhile, the second part of the fallout will probably center around Heyman, former WWE Champion (according to everyone but himself) CM Punk, and The Shield, who were revealed to have been working to assist Punk in extending his title reign. Heyman insinuated that it was a strictly business deal, but with the relationship out in the open, how much closer might Punk decide to tie The Shield to him in order to regain the WWE Title that he feels he never truly lost?
Also, I do hope Brad Maddox earned himself a job in exchange for giving up footage of getting his ass kicked, because he's probably going to need some help paying even more medical bills once The Shield and Punk remember exactly who it was that ratted them out.
And the World Heavyweight title feud is reaching dangerous levels, and the real loser is entirely going to be Ricardo Rodriguez, who was left unconscious at the hands of the Big Show last Friday on Smackdown. And that was after Del Rio attacked Big Show with a steel pipe, so I can't imagine what he might decide to do tonight.
Plus, Wade Barrett continues to be frustrated by young upstart Bo Dallas, the level of bickering between the Tag Team Champions is reaching dangerous levels, and there's some other guy who's probably going to get a fair bit of time. Who am I thinking of again?
Oh, right. Him.
Tonight, on Raw!
I wanted to talk more about this, because I gave it such a short discussion last week when I ran out of time in favour of more Rumble coverage. In case you hadn't heard, video game conglomerate THQ went bankrupt and sold off a bunch of their assets in a big auction/fire sale. THQ, you might remember, is the company that makes WWE-licensed video games, aka the Smackdown series. Apparently, due to some special issues, including WWE being listed as a creditor to the tune of several millions of dollars, the WWE license was not one of the franchises sold off by THQ, and may have instead been acquired in a completely separate deal by Take-Two Interactive, known largely for its 2K Sports games which have occasionally managed to compete quite heavily with the larger EA Sports franchises (so strongly, in fact, that it led to such things as EA purchasing exclusive rights to the NFL license so that nothing can dare to threaten their annual Madden glorified roster update game). So, if this is true (and nothing has been officially confirmed by anyone involved), what does this mean for WWE video games?
Well, at the very least, it means there's a good chance that some things are going to change. Part of this hinges on if Yukes continues to be involved, but I would imagine that there's going to be at least some sort of fresh perspective on the games, including whether or not the positively ancient Smackdown game engine is finally put out to pasture (and with the new console generation reportedly arriving in November (shut up, wallet, we have months to save up), now would be the time). Most importantly, will we see a WWE game released in 2013? Without knowing how long the development cycle is, I'd have to say that there's a very good chance WWE would demand that whoever picks up their license must have a game out this year. I can't blame them, because the video game franchise is a cash cow for them, and always a good addition to the quarterly report during those slow winter months when nobody is buying the PPVs. With that said, if WWE '14 hits shelves in late fall, I'm not sure that there would be much time for a new developer to put their unique stamp on it, and would instead probably cobble together something from whatever assets THQ already had in development before they went under. The impending arrival of a new PlayStation and X-Box at the same time, however, also makes me wonder what, if anything, THQ had prepared for a next-gen game, because having a WWE game as a near-launch title would probably be beneficial for everyone involved, but again, I'm not certain if a new company would have time to fully exploit that possibility.
At any rate, if not this year, then probably in 2014, change will undoubtedly come to the WWE video game franchise, change that may not have happened for a while if it hadn't been forced upon it. I suppose we'll have to wait and see if this change sparks a significant improvement in the series, which has been more or less stuck in complacency these last few years. And I suppose there's an obvious and heavy-handed message in there somewhere, so I'm not going to bother spelling it out for you. Although I pretty much did, so I hope you figured it out.
Dammit, I Blinked And It Disappeared Again
Um, where the hell did the WWE Tag Division, that was a highlight of late 2012, run off to? On Friday, former top contenders Rhodes Scholars formally announced that they were disbanding to pursue singles careers (somehow managing to remain best friends despite the separation, once again proving why it's so much better to be evil). Meanwhile, current champions Hell No seem primed for a break-up on the heels of perceived betrayals during the Rumble match and the fact that they never really liked each other anyway. As for the rest of the division, well, the Prime Time Players, Usos, and Epico & Primo are still around but rarely on TV outside of jobber roles, and the only "star power" team is Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara, who only just returned from personal leave and injury reserve, respectively, at the Rumble last week. Weren't we lauding the rebirth of the division a few short months ago, which featured enough legitimate teams to hold an eight-man tag tournament in addition to the tag champs themselves? Did somebody accidentally wake Vince during a Creative meeting and he realized they were talking about tag teams and put a stop to it?
I suppose it's not quite as bad as all that, as I'd put a fair bet on The Shield entering the tag ranks in the very near future, because they can't get away without wrestling matches forever, and they're exactly the right sort of team to take the belts and be dominant long-term champions (and given how strongly they've been booked so far, it's unlikely they'd immediately become jobbers after winning the belts). Plus, NXT has a bunch of guys running around in tag teams, to the point that they're currently running a tag tournament of their own to crown inaugural champions. Oh, and I'm totally into a Brodus Clay-Tensai tag team, because I still remember The Hip-Hop Hippo, and after both guys had the rug pulled out from under them to varying degrees in 2012, they deserve at least something resembling a purpose in 2013, and there's no greater certainty in wrestling than "dancing fat guys will always get TV time because it's hilarious and for some reason, kids love it".
What was my point? I was going to get all down and then I reversed my opinion somewhat. See, this is why it always helps to talk things out. So, don't give up hope, the tag division in WWE isn't quite as dead as you might think!
The Stuff Nobody Buys WrestleMania For, Apparently
So, we already know the matches that will take all the credit for the buyrates at WrestleMania XXIX: Rock vs Cena and Triple H vs Brock, The Sequels. No amount of fantasy booking, hope, or mailed death threats will stop those matches from happening. In addition, it's pretty much set that if The Undertaker decides he can go, he'll face (and defeat, make no mistake about it) CM Punk.
Okay, so that still leaves…a lot to be decided in the next month and a half. After preliminary spoilers for last week's Smackdown, we thought we'd at least have an idea of the six potential World title opponents for WrestleMania, but it turns out that wasn't an official match announcement and we don't actually know who's in the Elimination Chamber. Which is probably good, I don't think any of those guys deserved the shot against Del Rio (although I'd be forced to pick Swagger just because I assume he's getting pushed, even though his return was tepid at best and featured him going 50/50 with Kofi Kingston, the man who lasted sixteen seconds against the current #1 contender to the World title, and only winning because Kingston accidentally kicked the announce table). Also, Dolph Ziggler's MITB briefcase still exists, and now that he's been separated from John Cena (thankfully), that seems to be his primary concern, although I'd put higher odds on him cashing at Elimination Chamber than at WrestleMania, and even higher odds at them putting it off again, since he does have until the next MITB PPV.
Which brings us to the fact that the MITB match, as I expected (but apparently people thought might be worth speculating about), will not return to WrestleMania, and will instead remain as part of the PPV that bears its name, since it makes it really easy to book that show. And with the Raw and Smackdown GMs not currently in any sort of power struggle (for now), all these easy answers for "what do we do with the dozen or so guys who need to get on the card" seem to be unavailable.
Maybe I'm overthinking things, they do have quite a bit of time, and there are some potential matches that I can already see potentially happening (Bryan-Kane, Ryback-Show or Ryback/Orton/Sheamus-Shield, Barrett-Dallas). So I guess what I'm asking for is that WWE Creative actually take the time to build feuds for the undercard, give them a reason to fight, and give them some spotlight time. Thanks to those top two matches we mentioned, WWE has a perfect chance with the maximum number of eyeballs watching to showcase all their potential future stars, the ones who are still going to be around the day after WrestleMania, when Rock goes back to Hollywood, Brock goes back into hiding until his next block of appearances, and Triple H goes back to the boardroom. These are the guys that need to be shown to the fans at WrestleMania, because sooner or later (and sooner looks pretty likely at this point), WWE is going to run out of guys to bring back for "dream matches", and start having to rely on headlining WrestleMania with the guys they have on the roster. Give them feuds, give them time to show what they can do, and most importantly, make sure that what they do at WrestleMania matters. Don't shove half of them in the pre-show battle royal so they can get a Mania paycheck. Give them an actual Mania moment, so that they can be in a position to make more of them for you in the future.
1. Paul Heyman
I'm not sure which was the better promo: the taped one where Heyman channelled every mob boss in the history of cinema while setting Brad Maddox up to be "taken care of" by The Shield, or the in-ring one where a hysterical Heyman pleaded desperately, first with Brock to let him handle things, and then with Vince to please, please get out of the ring. Vince, you probably should have listened to him.
2. CM Punk
Speaking of great promos, that is how you react to losing the WWE Title in controversial fashion. You don't laugh it off, crack a joke, move on with your life, or sit back and expect a rematch to be handed to you. No, you pitch a fit, you refuse to recognize the title change, you make sure that everyone knows that you are the rightful champion, the title means the world to you, and you won't stop until it is back around your waist. The part where he deigned to grant Rock a rematch for "his" title was just perfection.
3. Alberto Del Rio
Stupid decisions about leaving Ricardo alone backstage aside, Del Rio was on fire again on Smackdown, from explaining that he was just "getting some fresh air" (I personally would have gone with "just taking my steel pipe for a walk", but that's just me) while he waited for Show, to showing some very real emotion during his attack, especially the part where he jumped from off-screen and shattered the car window instead of a quickly-evading Show, which was so brutally fast and so perfectly timed that it actually shocked me.
4. Aries and Roode
With Jeff Hardy unable to take part, it falls to Roode and Aries to carry the "main event" load (not to be confused with the "main event load" that is Aces and Eights), and if the tag titles aren't in their future, then put me in the camp that says that Chavo Guerrero has incriminating evidence against Dixie Carter that keeps the belts on him and Hernandez.
5. Bully Ray
Yes, the story is crap. It's horrible crap. But Bully Ray believes in it, and he makes me want to believe in him and buy into whatever he's selling, even if it is horrible crap. Which it is. Anyway,when he finally wins the TNA World title and/or turns on Hogan to become the leader of Aces and Eights, the reactions will be off-the-charts huge.
6. Bad Influence
Real men wear kilts. That's all you need to know about that.
7. Bo Dallas
His stock improved by leaps and bounds, and apparently they cancelled a proposed "Intercontinental Cup" series on Main Event to determine a new contender for Barrett just so this feud can continue. So, did they plan out the Cup at the same time they planned Dallas' debut and not realize that these things were happening concurrently?
8. Rhodes Scholars
The team is no more, but at least they went out on a hell of a hug, complete with poetry about the value of friendship. You rarely learn valuable life lessons from dastardly heel teams, but dammit, I learned something from those two.
9. Joseph Park
Has it occurred to anyone else that, given how much everyone loves Joseph, Abyss may never actually return? Or at least, his return is no longer imminent, anyway.
10. Jack Swagger
Apparently growing bad facial hair is what passes for character development in WWE these days. Between Swagger and Cody, they almost have the complete Puberty Beard and Moustache Combo. Also, nothing says "they actually have no plans for me" like having your big return happen on the B Show and involve a match with Kofi Kingston that doesn't even guarantee you a spot in the Elimination Chamber unless Booker T is suitably "impressed".
Inactive List as of 01.28.12
- Evan Bourne, out indefinitely as of March 19th (foot)
- Christian, out indefinitely as of September 1st (elbow)
- Hunico, out indefinitely as of November 1st (ACL)
- Mark Henry, out indefinitely as of May 1st (surgery)
- R-Truth, out 6-8 weeks as of December 17th (leg)
- Tyson Kidd, out 4-6 months as of January 10th (knee)
- Chris Sabin, out 6-9 months as of June 14th (ACL)
- Eric Young, out indefinitely as of November 22nd (kayfabe injury)
- Jeff Hardy, out for UK Tour (convicted felon)
- Jesse Sorenson, out at least one year as of February 12th, 2012 (spine)
- Magnus, out indefinitely as of November 15th (kayfabe injury)
- Brock Lesnar, WWE, returned to action on January 28th Raw
- Jack Swagger, WWE, returned to action on February 1st Smackdown
- Magnus, TNA, returned to action on January 31st Impact
- Rosita, TNA, released from her contract
WWE Champion: The Rock
- 8 day reign, defeated CM Punk on January 27th (Royal Rumble PPV)
- Next title defense: vs CM Punk, Elimination Chamber PPV
World Heavyweight Champion: Alberto Del Rio
- 24 day reign, defeated The Big Show on January 11th (Smackdown)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett
- 35 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston on December 31st (Raw)
WWE United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro
- 169 day reign, defeated Santino Marella on August 19th (SummerSlam PPV)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Kane and Daniel Bryan
- 141 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston and R-Truth on September 16th (Night of Champions PPV)
WWE Divas' Champion: Kaitlyn
- 21 day reign, defeated Eve Torres on January 14th (Raw)
WWE NXT Champion: Big E Langston
- 26 day reign, defeated Seth Rollins on January 9th NXT
- NOTE: The NXT Title reign only counts what has aired on TV, not when they occur at tapings
TNA Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy
- 113 day reign, defeated Austin Aries on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA World Tag Team Champions: Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez
- 113 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 Aries and Roode, February 7th Impact
TNA X-Division Champion: RVD
- 113 day reign, defeated Zema Ion on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Television Champion: Devon
- 60 day reign, defeated Samoa Joe on December 6th (Impact)
TNA Knockouts Champion: Tara
- 113 day reign, defeated Miss Tessmacher on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions: ODB and Eric Young
- 333 day reign, defeated Gail Kim and Madison Rayne on March 8th (Impact)
And this week's TWNE After Dark was all about more talk about the fallout from the Rumble, the return of Brock, the decline of John Cena's promos, and whether a potential Punk-Austin match would out-draw Cena-Rock. Click the banner to access the TWNE After Dark archives!
411 will have live coverage of Raw tonight starting at 8 pm EDT.
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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 9:30 pm on Spreaker.com, posted on 411 shortly thereafter.
Here it is, your Moment of Buddy
Hangover 3: Buddy and Stitch
Somebody Call Disney, We'll Make Millions!
Alternative caption: It takes a stuffed toy to make Buddy look animated.