The Wrestling News Experience: 02.25.13
Posted by Stephen Randle on 02.25.2013
News and thoughts on the Undertaker's return and whether a WrestleMania match for him is a good thing, the latest on Jack Swagger's arrest, WWE's feud with Glenn Beck, a preview of tonight's Raw and more!
Monday, February 25th, 2013
From 411Mania's Canadian offices in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, this is The Wrestling News Experience, with Stephen Randle!
When You Get To Hell, Tell Satan He Still Owes Me Twenty Bucks
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Experience. I am Stephen Randle, and today I have a special message for the people who decided the best way to abandon their six-month-old puppy on a Sunday evening in the middle of a Canadian winter (temperature at the time: -2 degrees Celsius, -10 with wind chill) was to tie its leash to my car while it was parked at the mall and leave a bag of its stuff sitting on my trunk. To those unknown persons, let me be frank and honest: I wish nothing but horrible things to befall to you each and every day for the rest of your goddamned lives, and if I ever happen to find out who you might be, I promise before every god that has ever existed or may one day potentially exist, that I will re-dedicate the rest of my life to ruining yours, and if you don't believe me, you're welcome to test that theory. You deserve to never have a single second of happiness again, and I mean that from the absolute bottom of my heart.
On the bright side, one of my wife's co-workers now owns a free six-month-old puggle that she loved at first sight. So at least there's that.
You know, this isn't how I wanted things to go. I wanted to talk about the PS4, and Game of Thrones, and finally reading Harry Potter (shut up, I took a "nerd stand" years ago and only reversed it last week for reasons that totally make sense), and spring training, but nooooo…you want to know why I hate people? It's because they keep giving me reasons why I should.
Now, would anybody else care to fuck with me at this particular time?
No? All right, then. Moving on.
Last week, for reasons that escape me since it stretches the bounds of "being a swell guy" beyond actual human capacity, John Cena agreed to put his WWE Title shot at WrestleMania on the line in a match against CM Punk tonight. One way or the other, I suspect that by the end of Raw, we will know the WrestleMania fates of both Cena and Punk, but what they will be is still a matter for speculation.
Speaking of guys whose future is suddenly up in the air, Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter have been busy making friends and influencing…whoops, poor choice of word there, perhaps. At any rate, Swagger's destiny as it relates to the World Heavyweight title and his match with Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania may indeed be fully revealed much sooner than anybody thinks…or it may not, who knows.
Also, Vince McMahon has promised to return tonight and have a fight with Paul Heyman, and I ask once again, why do people who are well aware that Heyman represents both CM Punk, he who recently held the WWE Title for over a calendar year, and Brock Lesnar, who breaks people in half for fun in his spare time, as well as having access to The Shield, continue to attempt to intimidate him? Come on, Vince, last time you only threatened to fire Heyman and you ended up in surgery. Better hope you have a better plan for when you try to fight him.
And Mark Henry blew off the alleged threat of The Great Khali last week, but one would imagine he's not finished searching for new inductions into the Hall of Pain. I only mentioned this part because I'm really looking to expand my popularity into India by mentioning Khali as much as I can get away with.
Plus, the war between Miz and Antonio Cesaro looks like it might be escalating, and the WWE Tag Team Champions appear to be hanging by a very thin thread. If they didn't have the title belts, it's very unlikely they'd even be on speaking terms at this point. Could tonight be the night where it all falls apart? Tune into another Raw on the Road to WrestleMania, tonight!
What Happens In Waco, Doesn't Necessarily Stay In Waco
Well, unless you've been under a rock for the last week (in which case, all of the following three news stories are going to blow your mind), I suppose you've heard that none other than The Undertaker returned to the ring for a match at a WWE house show in Waco, Texas, this past weekend. Obviously, his participation in an actual match has sent speculation that the rumoured CM Punk-Undertaker match will indeed be in the cards for WrestleMania XXIX into maximum overdrive, and we're all waiting with bated breath to see what the end result of tonight's Cena-Punk match will be, as most people (including myself) have assumed that if they haven't at least started setting up Punk-Taker by this week, it's not going to happen. Also, presumably if they wanted to set up a Punk-Cena-Rock triple threat as their second option, tonight's result would go a long way to making that happen.
I find myself torn on this issue. On one hand, I'm worried that Punk vs Undertaker, anticipated though it might be, still carries the risk of potentially not being very good. Remember, these two have feuded before, and while it was overshadowed by a lot of silliness involving Punk potentially getting punished for badmouthing the dress code and general mutterings about how crappily his title reign was being booked, the fact remains that the matches were definitely on the low end of "not great". Now, that was a while ago, Punk has cemented himself as a main eventer in the meantime, which means Taker might be willing to actually, you know, sell for him, and the atmosphere of a WrestleMania Streak match can add a lot to cover up some of the shortcomings that come with Undertaker being older than most kinds of dirt. Plus, one has to imagine that both men would make it personal missions not to disappoint, for all sorts of reasons, and you know that it would definitely get the necessary time to be a potential classic, if the chance exists.
On the other hand, from a storyline perspective, as well as how the last year has gone, Punk deserves to be in the WWE Title match, part of the main event of WrestleMania, because no matter what, the match with The Rock (and Cena, I guess) is going on last. Punk held and defended that title for over 400 days, he did whatever was required of him, tore the house down in some great matches, and never quite got the respect he deserved for that, in the form of actually being considered part of the main event. By which I mean, that whole thing where he almost never main-evented a PPV even though he was WWE Champion. Getting this main event, even on the losing side, would be a deserved reward for a guy who was never entirely given the ball despite being given the big belt, and who dedicated his entire reign to bringing prestige and legitimacy to the title.
But back the first hand, from the perspective of a pro wrestler, no matter if it goes last or not, the Undertaker Streak match is one of the biggest rewards you can get in wrestling. Sure, the list of victims isn't entirely prestigious once you get past the few big names at the top, but there's still a list, and it's an exclusive club of very few wrestlers, all of whom can claim a big piece of wrestling history. No matter what else, they were one of a select group who wrestled The Undertaker at WrestleMania, a part of the greatest "Streak" in pro wrestling. If you're going to go to WrestleMania and lose the match (and make no mistake, no matter how this shakes out, Punk is not winning either of these matches), this is the match that you want to lose. Losing to the Undertaker at WrestleMania is inevitable, but in losing, many men have become great.
"As if it matters how a man falls. When the fall is all that's left, it matters a great deal." Nobody expects CM Punk to end The Streak (at least, not in any seriousness). But we're not watching for the result. We want to see the match. We want to see if there's any life left in the Dead Man, and if the Best in the World can live up to his name once again, and if we can put the Match of the Year voting to bed in April for another year.
CM Punk vs The Undertaker. That's the match they want to give us if they possibly can. That's the match that will steal the show, sell many who were asking "why pay for a Rock-Cena foregone conclusion match" on giving WWE their money, and hopefully, give us another legendary Streak match in a string of them. And the next night, when Taker slips back into mostly-retirement, the man he beat can take what he gained by going toe-to-toe with The Undertaker on his terms, and use it to take his own career even further.
Jack Swagger's Very Busy Week, Part I
All right, I flipped a coin, we'll start with the bad and move on to the…let's call it "weird"…afterwards. So, on Wednesday, news broke that Jack Swagger, who is currently the challenger for the World Heavyweight title held by Alberto Del Rio at WrestleMania, was arrested following the Smackdown tapings for speeding, DUI, and possession of marijuana. All three are misdemeanours and Swagger will more than likely only be facing fines, but of course, this is WWE, and if there's one thing you do not do in WWE, it's make them look like idiots in public, especially during the build to the biggest PPV and media event of the wrestling year.
So, the speculation has run rampant. By the letter of the rules of the Wellness Policy, Swagger can face the same consequences as if he had actually failed a drug test, resulting in a "strike" against him, which I believe would be his first. The penalty, therefore, would be a thirty-day suspension, although WWE is not required to suspend him immediately, and has in the past delayed punishment a few weeks in order to allow them time to wrap up angles that the violating party was involved in. It is also written into WWE's policies that they would be well within their rights to fire Swagger, basically for embarrassing them in a public fashion, but that seems fairly unlikely given that they actually had what seem to be big plans for Swagger and his new "Real American" gimmick. In fact, some rumours say that Swagger was indeed being booked to win the World title at WrestleMania (although, as always, take with plenty of salt), but now all bets are off.
So, let's run down the possibilities, headed into tonight, which is the first chance WWE will have to give a real indication of Jack Swagger's immediate future:
- Swagger is suspended immediately, but doesn't lose his World title shot. There are enough days between now and WrestleMania that Swagger could serve his suspension and still return before the PPV. In the meantime, it's conceivable that Zeb Colter could cut promos in Swagger's absence in order to build up the title match. This scenario seems unlikely simply because it is the build to WrestleMania, and if WWE saved up all of Brock Lesnar's dates so he'd be available to be on TV for the build for his match, I can't see them being willing to have one-half of their World title match off TV for an entire month leading up to the PPV.
- Swagger is suspended immediately and loses his shot. There are many ways he could be replaced, although the scenarios are slightly problematic since he's a heel, and any scenario involving someone attacking him and taking his spot might be taken as an inadvertent face turn. With that said, Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry would be the most likely suspects for this type of angle, which would presumably play out tonight if that were the plan. Another option may be to have Ziggler cash on Del Rio somehow, while Swagger is removed in a separate angle, with the Mania match becoming Del Rio challenging against the new champion Ziggler. If WWE plans to halt the Swagger push for the time being, that would be the scenario that I would most prefer, even though it is slightly messy.
- Swagger's suspension is delayed until after WrestleMania, at which point he loses to Del Rio and serves his time
- For some reason, Swagger avoids suspension and wins the World title at WrestleMania, because his angle is getting noticed in the mainstream and if there's one thing that will make Vince get stubborn and push someone beyond all reason, it's causing the mainstream to notice what you're doing, especially if they start attacking you for doing heelish things like being a thinly veiled Tea Party gimmick (or, say, goose-stepping in Germany and getting rewarded with one of the longest WWE Title reigns in history at the time).
Hey, that brings us to the "weird" Swagger news. Next title card!
Jack Swagger's Very Busy Week, Part II
Yes, it seems that Swagger and Colter's little act has drawn the attention of certain people who aren't too fond of the fact that these men are clearly portraying characters intended to resemble the Tea Party movement in American politics, in a negative light. Most notably, former Fox News personality Glenn Beck, who to many people is one of the leading examples of the absolute lowest depths that the modern cable news industry will sink to in order to get people to watch their shows, took issue on his radio show with Swagger and Colter, and decided to poke the angry bear that is Vince McMahon by using terms like "stupid wrestling people". And since it is Vince, he reacted poorly and with badly-planned attacks.
The following is a video that aired on WWE.com, in which Colter and Swagger pause while cutting a promo to break character and address Glenn Beck directly.
Yes, they really did that. I know, "breaking kayfabe" and all that, but here's the problem: Glenn Beck wasn't claiming that wrestling is real. At least, I hope he wasn't, but it is possible given that everything I've seen of Beck suggests he does live in some strange fantasy land that only he can see. In any event, the crux of Beck's attack was that Swagger and Colter's gimmick was a deliberate attempt to make allusions to the Tea Party and portray the movement in a negative light, and whether we agree with the Tea Party and whatever the hell they stand for or not, Beck is correct because that's entirely what the point of the gimmick is supposed to be. Of course, the fact that he's outraged by this for some reason would suggest that he only learned of the existence of pro wrestling last week when someone happened to mention Zeb Colter's existence to him in water cooler conversation, because anyone who has any actual knowledge of the wrestling industry would recognize that this is far from the first, and definitely not the last, time that a wrestling organization has stocked its roster with politically charged gimmicks in order to attempt to attract attention and also, because it's easier to write stories and feuds that way. If it pisses off the people you're targeting and you happen to not like them in the first place, well, that's really just a bonus. In over two decades as a wrestling fan, I've lived through Sergeant Slaughter supporting Saddam Hussein, the Right to Censor, JBL chasing Mexicans back across the border, evil wrestlers from practically every country in the civilized (and occasionally, uncivilized) world who all hate America for whatever hot-button topic is making its way through the news shows this week, indy wrestlers portraying political candidates in matches during election seasons (both on Raw and in the actual indies), the Nation of Domination, the Truth Commission, and every other racist stereotyped faction in WWE's insipid Gang Warz angle, plus dozens of other equally silly gimmicks that I could mention given half a chance.
So, on one hand (oh, here we go again with the hands thing), Glenn Beck apparently thinks that people care deeply about whether or not a heel gimmick is portraying some group in a nasty light. He's right, but nobody cares because it's pro wrestling and that's just one of those things that pro wrestling (like any form of entertainment that tries to shoehorn "topical" material into their presentation) does on a regular basis. The fact that it's pro wrestling and therefore fair game for everyone to look down is exactly why Beck said what he did, because who's going to step forward and try and defend pro wrestling in any serious manner?
Which takes us to the other hand, where the only guy who tries to publically defend pro wrestling decides to make YouTube videos where he breaks kayfabe and tries to obscure the actual point of the argument so that he can be right in his own mind, and ends up doing more damage than he would have done by ignoring Beck and letting the whole thing play itself out and disappear within a week. Oh, and rumour has it that the plan for tonight may be to give part of Raw over to mocking Glenn Beck, similar to what they did when the guy who owned the Denver Nuggets double-booked Raw and forced them out of the arena. They even have a term for it, "a Stan Kroenke Raw". That's right, they have a name and procedures for when somebody pisses them off and they decide they're going to stick it to them on their live television program rather than leave it alone and just do their normal show. This is why nobody is ever on your side, Vince. Nobody wants to be on the same side as the guy who publically froths at the mouth every time somebody doesn't like even the smallest part of what he does or says. I mean, in an argument where one side is Glenn Beck, a man who has done more to damage to legitimate American political discourse than almost anyone in the last fifty years and who went so far over the line that Fox News decided they didn't particularly want him associated with their network (also they probably weren't too thrilled that Beck was singlehandedly making Jon Stewart's job easier on a near-daily basis), and the other side is Vince McMahon, even people who hate everything that Beck stands for are saying "well, it was a stupid thing to say and nobody cares anyway, but he does have a point".
But hey, at least someone in the media talked about you, right Vince? That's what's important!
1. The Shield
Any week in which you can say that you cleanly beat John Cena, Chris Jericho, Ryback, and Sheamus is a pretty darned good week for any WWE Superstar, let alone three rookies in their second and third-ever official WWE matches.
2. Bully Ray
Bully manages to end up the #1 Contender to the TNA World title despite not taking part in the "evaluation matches" and basically failing to save Hulk Hogan from Aces and Eights…or win his match last week, either, come to think of it. At this point, the real swerve would be if he weren't actually part of Aces and Eights. He totally is (and should be), though.
3. Mark Henry
At this point, should I stop coming up with superlatives that just all boil down to "I love Mark Henry" and instead just write that line in his spot on this list every week? Because it's getting harder to find new ways to say it each week.
4. Jack Swagger
Things will probably be more clear by the time Raw goes off the air tonight, but at this point, all we know is that all sorts of people are talking about Swagger, and this whole thing could fire off in any direction, with the range of potential results going all the way from "New World Heavyweight Champion" to "Newest Employee of TNA", with everything in between also an equally viable option.
5. Chris Jericho
Aw, man, Chris, you had the perfect opportunity to turn on Ryback there. We totally wouldn't have blamed you for doing so, either. I mean, I'm not exactly salivating over the prospect of an match between them, but if Jericho thinks he can get Ryback over, that's good enough for me.
6. WWE Title
I know, it seems like WWE is saying "Oh, so you'd prefer absolutely anything to the Spinner Belt, eh? Well, we'll call that particular bluff", but it's not that bad. At any rate, it's going to be here for the next decade or so, so I suppose we should start getting used to it. Hey, we eventually stopped fighting over the Spinner's continued presence, this too shall pass.
7. Wade Barrett
It took repeated viewings on frame-by-frame, and I had to squint a bit, but I totally saw Wade Barrett in that trailer for Dead Man Down! Oh, man, he's going to ride that to the "A" list for sure. Well, at least it looks slightly better than the usual WWE Films dreck, so I have to assume the only things they provided to get this one made was Barrett and a bunch of money.
8. Bray Wyatt
The Wyatt Family is going to be huge. Just..huge. Trust me on this one, if you aren't watching their work in NXT, you should be. I know, WWE doesn't make it easy, but still, come on, get on the trolley.
9. The Undertaker
Well, if nothing else, at least it gave us something to speculate about besides Jack Swagger's future.
Also, would it kill WWE.com to update his profile picture? I understand it's not a high priority, but he has been bald for over a year at this point.
10. Aces and 8s
Hey, now that 90% of them have been unmasked (strange how there are so few of them now that they have identities, no?), is there anyone out there who can tell me which member was the one who broke Austin Aries' arm and had to wrestle a PPV match under the moniker "Armbreaker"?
Inactive List as of 02.18.12
- Evan Bourne, out indefinitely as of March 19th, 2012(foot)
- Christian, out indefinitely as of September 1st, 2012 (elbow)
- Hunico, out indefinitely as of November 1st, 2012 (ACL)
- R-Truth, out 6-8 weeks as of December 17th, 2012 (leg)
- Tyson Kidd, out 4-6 months as of January 10th (knee)
- Chris Sabin, out 6-9 months as of June 14th, 2012 (ACL)
- Eric Young, out indefinitely as of November 22nd, 2012 (kayfabe injury)
- Jeff Hardy, out for UK Tour (convicted felon)
- Jesse Sorenson, out at least one year as of February 12th, 2012 (spine)
- Darren Young, WWE, out indefinitely as of February 20th (knee)
- R-Truth, WWE, returned to action on February 18th Raw
- Santino Marella, WWE, day-to-day as of February 19th (neck)
WWE Champion: The Rock
- 29 day reign, defeated CM Punk on January 27th (Royal Rumble PPV)
World Heavyweight Champion: Alberto Del Rio
- 45 day reign, defeated The Big Show on January 11th (Smackdown)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Wade Barrett
- 56 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston on December 31st (Raw)
WWE United States Champion: Antonio Cesaro
- 190 day reign, defeated Santino Marella on August 19th (SummerSlam PPV)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Kane and Daniel Bryan
- 162 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston and R-Truth on September 16th (Night of Champions PPV)
WWE Divas' Champion: Kaitlyn
- 42 day reign, defeated Eve Torres on January 14th (Raw)
WWE NXT Champion: Big E Langston
- 47 day reign, defeated Seth Rollins on January 9th NXT
WWE NXT Tag Team Champions: Adrian Neville and Oliver Grey
- 12 day reign, defeated The Wyatt Family on February 13th NXT to become the inaugural champions
NOTE: NXT Title reigns only count what has aired on TV, not when changes occur at tapings.
TNA Heavyweight Champion: Jeff Hardy
- 134 day reign, defeated Austin Aries on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
- Next title defense: vs Bully Ray, Lockdown PPV
TNA World Tag Team Champions: Austin Aries and Bobby Roode
- 18 day reign, defeated Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez on February 7th Impact
TNA X-Division Champion: RVD
- 134 day reign, defeated Zema Ion on October 14th (Bound For Glory PPV)
TNA Television Champion: Devon
- 81 day reign, defeated Samoa Joe on December 6th (Impact)
**NEW** TNA Knockouts Champion: Velvet Sky
- 4 day reign, defeated former champion Tara, Gail Kim, and Miss Tessmacher in an Elimination Match on February 21st Impact
TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions: ODB and Eric Young
- 354 day reign, defeated Gail Kim and Madison Rayne on March 8th (Impact)
And this week's TWNE After Dark went all sorts of crazy, what with Jack Swagger getting arrested and also I was a bit punchy after spending two hours watching Sony attempt to "wow" me with their Playstation 4 news. Spoiler alert: it may have worked. Also, if WrestleMania title matches should be one-on-one, and whether any member of The Shield could be WWE or World Champion by this time next year! Click the banner to access the show archives!
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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 Wednesday, airing live at around 9:30 pm on Spreaker.com, posted on 411 shortly thereafter.
Here it is, your Moment of Buddy
Nothing To See Here, Pal.
You'd Better Just Keep On Walking.