The Piledriver Report 02.27.14: The Week That Was
Posted by Ronny Sarnecky on 02.27.2014
This past week will go down as one of the most important weeks in WWE history. You had the final pay per view of the modern era, the birth of a network, and the return of two legends. This week's Piledriver Report takes a look at the week that was.
The two day period of February 23-24th will go down in WWE history as perhaps two of the most important dates in the company's history. The two days featured the good, the bad, and the ugly. It started with the WWE's final pay per view of the modern era. The debut of the Network was sandwiched in the middle, while Monday Night RAW closed things out.
For the final time since 1985, the WWE presented a pay per view to its fans. Is pay per view going away? No. Come April 6th, you will still be able to order WrestleMania XXX via your local pay per view provider. However, the pay per view business model will never be the same thanks to the introduction of the WWE Network.
Over the past several months, the WWE's pay per views have been lacking in the quality department. However, the Elimination Chamber pay per view was a high note on the WWE calendar. Aside from the fact that the work rate was pretty good, the fans were pretty good in voicing their opinions. Did they hijack the show like the Royal Rumble crowd? No, but they were vocal.
I thought the Big E vs. Jack Swagger match was pretty good. Actually, surprisingly a lot better than I thought it would be. The Wade Barrett segments were annoying. The first appearance by Barrett was OK. However, after that, it seemed like overkill. By the time Wade Barrett was out for his final segment, I was saying to myself, "I got some bad news. These segments will NEVER end!" I expected the Usos to win the tag titles, so seeing the New Age Outlaws retain the belts was unexpected to me. The match I was looking forward to the most was the Shield vs. the Wyatt Family. While I couldn't wait for the match, I really wanted this battle to take place at WrestleMania XXX. For me this was one of THE marquee matches that the WWE had to offer. The Shield vs. the Wyatts for the first time had WrestleMania moment written all over it. I realize that the WWE had other plans, so I understand why the WWE booked the match for the Elimination Chamber instead. I am a big fan of the Shield, but not so much the Wyatts. Don't get me wrong, I think the Wyatt characters are really good, and their psychology is great. However, aside from their matches against Daniel Bryan, I haven't been overly impressed with their workrate. That all changed this past Sunday night. The Wyatts vs. the Shield was probably the best WWE match of early 2014, but is easily one of the leading candidates for Match of the Year. I enjoyed the Batista vs. Alberto Del Rio match. Well, not the actual match, but the trainwreck that the fans made it. It's unbelievable how much the fans boo Batista. When I first heard Batista was coming back to the WWE, I didn't really care. I was indifferent to the signing. Do I want to see Batista in the WWE title match at WrestleMania? No, not at all. Like most people, I want to see Daniel Bryan in that match instead. Hell, my dream WrestleMania WWE World title main event match for the last three years has been CM Punk against Daniel Bryan. Even though I didn't want to see Batista in the WWE title match, I didn't realize that the fans attending the WWE shows would speak out as loudly as they have been. I don't think the fans actual hate the Batista character. I think it's more along the lines that we are tired of the same acts being shoved down our throats. I really liked the main event of the show. That's not a shock. Elimination Chamber matches are always good. This match was no different. Randy Orton retaining was predictable. That's not a bad thing. I didn't want to see Daniel Bryan win the title on this show. His first "real" run with the title should begin with a WWE title victory at WrestleMania, and not during a "B" pay per view show. This show was a great way to start the final stretch on the Road to WrestleMania.
The WWE Network. The most hyped WWE venture since they created the WWE App. Unfortunately, the Network isn't running as smooth as the introduction of the App. When they first announced the new Network, I couldn't wait for the WWE Network. Every WWE, WCW, and ECW pay per view was scheduled to be on the network. There would be a slew of original WWE programming. Most impressively, every monthly pay per view would be a part of the network at no charge. With over 1,500 hours of footage that was going to be available, the WWE Network was every wrestling fans dream. What a difference a day makes. As the clock struck 9am eastern standard time, the WWE Network went live, and all hell broke loose. Despite the WWE claiming the launch was a major success, that can't be the furthest from the truth. The WWE Network has been filled with a treasure trove of glitches. Some people only receive the live content. Others get the On Demand footage, but are hit with tremendous lags. However, the worst problem associated with the network involves the X-Box 360. When trying to log onto the WWE App on the video game console, the gaming system doesn't recognize your User Name and Password. The WWE Network's technical department was originally giving a 2-3 hour fix time. By 11pm, they were saying to call back on Tuesday morning for an update. By Tuesday afternoon, the problem still wasn't fixed, and no one seems to know what the cause is and the time frame for a resolution.
I was able to watch some of the network programming on my iPhone, my laptop, and my Kindle Fire HD. However, I don't like watching television on these smaller devices. I want to watch the WWE Network on my 46 inch HDTV. I'm not feeling confident that a resolution will arrive in the next couple of days. While I do believe this will get fixed before WrestleMania XXX, I have my doubts that the live airing of WrestleMania will go off without a hitch. If the WWE had issues when approximately 250,000 people tried to log on to the site, what is going to happen when 1 million people try to watch WrestleMania XXX at the same time. Something tells me that we will be rushing to the phone to spend $70 on a pay per view that we should have had to pay for to begin with.
Some things just naturally go together. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Spaghetti and Meatballs. Hulk Hogan and the WWE. Hulk Hogan's greatest run in the World Wrestling Federation came during a nine year time frame from 1984-1993. During that time, the "Hulkster" helped turn the WWF from a northeastern promotion and into a national powerhouse. Even though Hogan left the WWF, and helped to create a second wrestling boom period during his WCW run as the leader of the nWo, Hulk Hogan will always be thought of as being WWE for life. Hulk Hogan should always be associated with the WWE in some form or fashion. It's like when players retire from a ball club that they spent most of their careers with. Even though their playing days are over, you still welcome these men back with open arms whenever they return home to the team for a function or celebration.
Seeing Hulk Hogan in the middle of the WWE ring on Monday just seemed right. Nothing against TNA, but to me, Hogan's TNA run was just a blip on Hogan's radar. Hulk Hogan deserves to be on wrestling's biggest stage, even if he can't wrestle anymore. When looking back at all of the "faces" of the WWE during its past 50 years, Hulk Hogan is arguably THE most recognizable performer in the history of the company. If the WWE were to build a Mount Rushmore of wrestlers, Hulk Hogan would be the first wrestler whose face was etched on the mountain. The "Hulkster" deserves to be given the "Babe Ruth of the WWE" spot. When Hogan was delivering his promo on RAW, I couldn't help but think of the words that The Rock used when he made his long awaited return when he said "Finally, The Rock (or in this case Hulk Hogan) is home!"
With the Elimination Chamber pay per view in the rear view mirror, it is now time to build the WrestleMania XXX card. The ending of Monday Night RAW provided us with the a match-up that is over three years in the making. For WrestleMania XXVII, Vince McMahon tried to put a match together against the Undertaker and the current UFC Heavyweight champion and former WWE title holder, Brock Lesnar. Although Dana White balked at the idea at the time, Vince McMahon has finally booked the Lesnar/Undertaker match. While it's one of the biggest matches at this year's WrestleMania, the WWE has some work to do in making Brock Lesnar seem like a serious threat to the "streak." Even though Brock Lesnar has been booked as an unstoppable monster, he has lost two of his six matches. For the first pairing of the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar in their WrestleMania buildup, Brock Lesnar should have gotten the upper hand in the segment. Hell, Brock should be getting the upper hand on the Undertaker in every segment until WrestleMania. You need the Beast to be the baddest man on the planet. At least until he jobs to the Undertaker to continue the Undertaker's WrestleMania winning streak.
As interesting as this week in the WWE has been, next Monday proves to be equally as fascinating. RAW will be live in Chicago, IL, the hometown of CM Punk. This is probably the make or break show in terms of CM Punk and the WWE. Many people feel that if Punk were to come back before WrestleMania, this would be the show that he would make his return. Personally, I don't expect to see CM Punk in a WWE ring until January of 2015. Especially after the WWE put the Daniel Bryan/Triple H WrestleMania match in motion this week. With Bryan involved with Triple H, and Randy Orton facing Batista, what high profile match would CM Punk be able to be inserted into that is a big match? There is none. Instead, I see the fans chanting all night long for CM Punk to arrive. Unfortunately, it's a chant that will go unanswered.