The Wrestling News Experience 02.11.13
Posted by Stephen Randle on 02.11.2013
News and thoughts about Jeff Hardy's new TNA contract, what Bruno Sammartino's Hall of Fame deal means for WWE's future, a preview for tonight's Raw and more!
Monday, February 11th, 2013
From 411Mania's Canadian offices in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, this is The Wrestling News Experience, with Stephen Randle!
You Can Trust Me. I'm Not A Doctor
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Experience. I am Stephen Randle, and you'll be happy to know that my anger management therapy is working. Just the other day, I was in a Chapters (for our younger readers, it's where you can buy books when your Internet is down. Oh, and books are what you would get if you printed off the contents of your Kindle), browsing through the fantasy section because hey, they finally finished the Wheel of Time so I have a slot open in my "book series that will take decades to finish reading" list. Behind me, a couple approached, and noticed the giant Game of Thrones display, at which point the young woman said, "yeah, it's pretty brutal and not very good". Now, it was hard, but I managed to resist taking a swing at her, even though it would have been totally justified and no jury in the world would have convicted me, and walked away quickly. I tell you, every day is a battle.
Also, hey, Max Pacioretty, if you'd stuck your arm over my face while I was tied up in a scrum with another guy, I'd have done worse than bite you, so stop your whining and stay out of fights that are way out of your weight class.
Last week, John Cena and his posse of other guys attempted to turn the tables on The Shield, drawing them out to the ring and then surprising them by coming out of the crowd to surround them. However, The Shield showed intelligence by escaping the confrontation before too much damage, and instead, we'll get Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback versus The Shield at Elimination Chamber (man, if only Vince didn't have a vendetta against ever doing a War Games match, right?) And since there's still a week before the PPV, I can't imagine The Shield will stay silent about being backed into a situation that doesn't exactly leave the odds in their favour.
Meanwhile, in case you'd forgotten, your WWE Champion The Rock will be facing CM Punk for a second time at Elimination Chamber, seeking to put down the former champ, who refuses to recognize the title change, for good. With the winner moving on to the main event of WrestleMania XXIX against John Cena, there's a lot on the line here, and…why are we pretending that it's not going to be Rock-Cena II again? Let's just hope for some good Rock and Punk promos tonight, a decent match next Sunday, and then we can move on to the foregone conclusion.
Also, Alberto Del Rio will face The Big Show one more time this Sunday, because as everyone knows, the blowoff match is always the one with no stipulations at all! At any rate, whoever wins, we'll also know their opponent for WrestleMania, as six former World Champions will face off inside the Elimination Chamber for a shot at the title. Four entrants have already been named, and with two spots still open and only seven days until the PPV, everyone will be looking to impress Booker T and punch their own ticket into the Chamber.
Plus, it looks like things are rapidly going downhill for the WWE Tag Team champions, as the race to qualify for the Chamber has resulted in increased tension and even some betrayal between Kane and Daniel Bryan. With tempers reaching a boiling point, any opportunistic team could take advantage and earn themselves a pair of tag team titles.
Meanwhile, that Brock Lesnar guy seems like he might not be going away anytime soon (well, until his contracted dates run out, of course), and after putting Vince McMahon in the hospital, he went a different way last week and took out The Miz. We're not supposed to be cheering this guy, right? Well, presumably someone will have to step up and try to put an end to his rampage, even though I'm not personally against it, so we'll see who tries to do so this week!
All this and more, on the last Raw before the Elimination Chamber!
So, the good news is that Bruno Sammartino, against every single odd known to man and protocol droid, will actually once again be associated with WWE, get inducted into the Hall of Fame, and even take part in that most hallowed of wrestling-related activities, DVD commentaries! Bruno credits none other than Triple H for bringing him back into the fold, presumably because it sounds better than "he drove a dump truck full of money up to my house", but also because from all accounts, Triple H has worked tirelessly to try and get Bruno back. In fact, every time you hear about a Triple H pet project, the words "worked tirelessly" come up again and again. Which, combined with the fact that Vince isn't getting any younger, leads to the obvious question:
How much longer before Triple H takes over?
I know, we discuss it in theory all the time, but it has preyed upon my mind more and more. Triple H is in charge of talent relations, including NXT. Triple H is running house shows more often, and occasionally even Raw and Smackdown. It's gotten almost to the point where it seems like lately, every major decision in WWE involves Triple H. Which is strange, when you think about it, because everyone knows that Vince McMahon is the picture you see when you check the dictionary for the term "massive control freak".
Hey, does anyone remember how Vince "inherited" WWE in the first place? Because it wasn't really a peaceful transfer of power from his father. He made alliances with all his father's supporters and essentially took over the reins in a takeover attempt that almost failed, except WrestleMania actually worked out and made him enough money to keep going. I'm bringing this up because while we've talked for years about Triple H and Stephanie taking over WWE from Vince at some point, what we've never actually sat down and figured out is…how it's going to happen, and who's going to initiate it.
Think about these two scenarios. In one, Vince runs WWE until he collapses and dies and leaves it to his daughter and son-in-law in his will. In the second, a bunch of people, led by Stephanie and Triple H and citing "what's best for the continued future of WWE", gradually take over more and more of the day-to-day operations of the company, then eventually get together and make him into the figurehead Chairman he plays on TV, leaving him the face of the company until age or other medical conditions prevent him from doing even that much, but taking all his power.
Given what we know about the wrestling business, the history of WWE, Vince McMahon, and all these stories about the many and varied jobs that Triple H keeps taking on these days (oh, and on the public/media side, which McMahon is it that we keep seeing in video promos for things like B.A. Star and all those other social programs that WWE likes to use to show off how swell they are? I'll give you a hint, she's got big fake boobs), what scenario do you think is more likely? And as unthinkable as a WWE without Vince is…how long do you think it might be before that becomes reality? I think the answer might surprise us.
Who Knew TV Networks Were Hard To Make?
It's been a few weeks, so it's time for the latest rumour about WWE Network, which totally exists, guys. The latest one involved DirectTV getting into bed with WWE, which would result in a channel that would cost somewhere between 13 and 25 dollars a month (which is…quite a price range), and air mostly reruns of current WWE shows and the same content that is currently on Classics on Demand. Oh, and eleven of the twelve monthly PPVs. Apparently even DirectTV doesn't want anything to do with Over The Limit.
Yes, of course it's actually WrestleMania. Don't trample all over my joke.
Anyway, as rumours go, it's not the worst outcome, and not just because it doesn't mention anything about "original WWE content" or pretending that a pay-per-view YouTube channel is just as good as actual TV. Even at the highest price point, $25 a month is still far less that it would currently cost for even just 11 WWE PPV's, and that's not even counting whatever extra content would air the other twenty-nine days and nine hours (give or take a day) every month. And if they give up on creating crappy little shows and just show archived footage, the channel could run with a minimum of fuss or extra cost, plus they get to stop sharing money with PPV providers (although I'd assume DirectTV will get a cut instead). Sure, they'd have to get more people to buy the channel at 25 dollars than currently buy the PPVs at 40 dollars, but…I could actually see that working out.
So with all that working out to create a rumour that everyone actually seems okay with, I can only infer that the entire thing is completely false. Mostly because nothing about this entire WWE Network has made a lick of sense from day one, and why should things start working out now? Besides, I would hate to lost the quarterly conference calls where they come up with new ways to say "WWE Network is totally coming guys, you have to believe us because we spent a crapload of money on it and even though we still haven't made any real progress since that first horrible dubstep ad over a year ago, there's no way it won't work out!"
Two More Years!
Oh the heels of TNA announcing that they'll be leaving the Impact Zone for the indefinite future (and since they're letting the lease at Universal expire, it looks like it's permanent, one way or the other), they also trumpeted this week that they have signed TNA World Champion Jeff Hardy to a two-year contract extension. Hardy's contract status has reportedly been a big factor in TNA's booking strategy, with many people blaming his current reign as champion on TNA attempting to more or less "bribe" him to stay. Hardy's title reign became especially contentious during TNA's recent UK tour, where Hardy was unable to take part due to him being, you know, a convicted felon. Apparently that's a big deal in some countries. I know, go figure.
Anyway, with Hardy's contract set to expire at the end of February, TNA…
Hardy's contract was expiring at the end of this month? Also known as, the month where TNA taped all their shows in the UK ahead of time? That same UK tour that Jeff Hardy, the TNA Champion, was not in attendance for? Am I the only one that sees the problem here?
Okay, so it was more than likely, in fact almost a guarantee, that Hardy was going to re-sign, otherwise there's no way he'd have had the belt when TNA went overseas with no way to take it off him. But still, the fact that they left it this long (remember, Hardy's contract has been grist for the rumour mill since way back at Bound For Glory), especially since TNA is no longer sheltered from WWE offering any of their talent a big dump truck of cash due to that lawsuit being settled. I'm not suggesting WWE even wants Hardy back, but it wouldn't be the first time they signed a guy just to screw with another company, and if you wanted more proof of that, we had a news item this week talking about how WWE was booking up venues in the same areas TNA is planning to run their new touring Impact shows, even though there's little to no reason to think this will suddenly be the thing that triples TNA's rating and pushes them anywhere near equal footing with WWE.
Anyway, congratulations TNA, you signed up your top merchandise seller, and that's a good thing. Of course, you had better hope that he spends the next two years not doing anything that would garner a Wellness violation in WWE, but hey, thirteenth time's the charm. At any rate, now that he's locked up for a good long time, can we please, please, put the title on…anyone else?
1. Brock Lesnar
You know, given that Brock drew millions of dollars for UFC as an ass-kicking badass, they probably shouldn't be surprised that wrestling fans like him that way too, especially when he targets the completely unsympathetic Miz. Which might make the storyline of Triple H returning to get vengeance on Brock a little awkward, but I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
2. Mark Henry
Speaking of ass-kicking badasses, this guy's return couldn't come soon enough, as he instantly becomes the consensus favourite to win the Elimination Chamber. I bet Jack Swagger is really thrilled that he got to come back right before Henry, too. Better find a tag team partner quick, Jack, you could still fit in that division after they forget they were pushing you!
3. Alberto Del Rio
If Del Rio can survive whatever Big Show throws at him this Sunday (and the lurking presence of Dolph Ziggler), he could be headed for the moment that he was teased with for the last couple years: a big WrestleMania moment, including a match that he might actually win!
4. Aries and Roode
I'll admit, I knew they were winning the titles when I wrote up their blurb last week, but all the same, TNA was smart to put the belts on these two, much like when WWE switched plans and put their tag belts on Hell No, because when you back into a hot act that could elevate a secondary title and possibly the entire division simply by existing, you push the hell out of them and if it works, it's one more TV segment each week that people actually want to watch.
5. The Shield
What I really liked about the final segment was how rather you're your typical "face tricks the heels and ends up beating them down in revenge on free TV", they still held their own and escaped at the first opportunity. Why is that good? Because now you have to pay too see them in a match where they might get their comeuppance. Even if they get beat at the PPV, they served the purpose of potentially drawing some extra buys because WWE didn't do the usual lazy booking they've done for so long *coughNexuscough*.
6. Chris Jericho
He's still got it? Remind me again when he lost it. I'm curious, according to reports, WWE figured that Orton would win the WWE Fan Active poll, and had to rebook Raw when the results were not what they expected. I know we joke that WWE Creative is a gaggle of idiots, but did they honestly think Randy Orton was going to win a fan vote against a returning Chris Jericho? When they announced the competitors, I was sure Jericho would win in a walk. More interestingly, how far has Mysterio's stock fallen that he finished third in that vote?
7. Antonio Cesaro
As much praise as Cesaro gets, I still don't think he gets enough for his pure ability. For the best example yet, look at his two matches last week. First, he went out and had a slugfest with the heavyweight Ryback on Raw, and then he wrestled the much smaller Sin Cara on Smackdown and had a completely different, but equally impressive, match. Plus, he's got a new shirt coming out that I would actually wear!
8. Big Show
Damn, Show, you've got to start treating the minimum wage workers better, or they're going to keep helping Alberto Del Rio screw with you. Although his ability to tell the exact temperature of the thermostat without looking could serve him well on the freak show circuit if he ever stops…being the largest athlete on the planet.
Oh my god, his WWE career is showing signs of life for the first time since roughly sixty seconds after he returned. He'll never be a main eventer again, but as so many other midcard comedy acts that stick around for years doing opening match bits to warm up the crowd will tell you, there are worse fates.
10. Rockstar Spud
I know next to nothing about this guy, I just really, really like his name. Plus, it gives TNA a fourth or fifth chance to reform The British Invasion, and I think we're all in favour of that.
Inactive List as of 02.04.12
- 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)
- CM Punk, WWE, day-to-day as of February 10th (possible concussion)
- Mark Henry, WWE, returned to action on February 4th Raw
WWE Champion: The Rock
- 15 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
- 31 day reign, defeated The Big Show on January 11th (Smackdown)
- Next title defense: vs The Big Show, Elimination Chamber PPV
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett
- 42 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston on December 31st (Raw)
WWE United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro
- 176 day reign, defeated Santino Marella on August 19th (SummerSlam PPV)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Kane and Daniel Bryan
- 148 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston and R-Truth on September 16th (Night of Champions PPV)
WWE Divas' Champion: Kaitlyn
- 28 day reign, defeated Eve Torres on January 14th (Raw)
WWE NXT Champion: Big E Langston
- 33 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
- 120 day reign, defeated Austin Aries on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
**NEW** TNA World Tag Team Champions: Austin Aries and Bobby Roode
- 4 day reign, defeated Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez on February 7th Impact
TNA X-Division Champion: RVD
- 120 day reign, defeated Zema Ion on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Television Champion: Devon
- 67 day reign, defeated Samoa Joe on December 6th (Impact)
TNA Knockouts Champion: Tara
- 120 day reign, defeated Miss Tessmacher on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions: ODB and Eric Young
- 340 day reign, defeated Gail Kim and Madison Rayne on March 8th (Impact)
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