411 Fact or Fiction 03.06.14: Punk Returning, NXT Arrival Delivering, Bryan’s WrestleMania Spot, More
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.06.2014
Will Daniel Bryan be put into the WWE World Title match at WrestleMania? Was NXT Arrival the best big show that WWE has done since Summerslam? Should Kurt Angle make a WWE return? 411's Trent H and Tony Sly debate these topics and more!
Welcome back to the latest edition of 411 Fact or Fiction, Wrestling Edition! Stuff happened, people loved/hated it and let everyone else know. I pick through the interesting/not so interesting tidbits and then make 411 staff members discuss them for your pleasure. Battling this week: First, he is an independent wrestler that frequents the podcasts, he is Mr. Tony Sly! His opponent is the man behind The Ocho as well as a long time contributor to 411, he is Mr. Trent H! Lets get to work…
Questions were sent out Monday.
Participants were told to expect wrestling-related questions, possible statements on quantum physics and hydroponics.
1. The NXT Arrival show was the best major show WWE has put on since Summerslam.
Tony Sly:FICTION - Let me be clear, NXT Arrival accomplished what it intended to; it introduced multiple characters to the WWE Universe and highlighted some of the more talented Superstars and Divas of NXT, but for all intents and purposes, it was a one match show. As spectacular as Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro was, it created a fevered pitch that made it nearly impossible for the rest of the show to shine at its fullest potential; therefore it was not the best major show WWE has put on since Summerslam. On paper, it may have been the "best" major show WWE has aired since Summerslam, but for myself and tens of thousands of other viewers, the show was not compelling enough to earn this honor because we do not have an emotional connection with these unknown characters.
Trent H:FACT - Rather than get bogged down in what is or is not a major show, or what makes something "best" I'm just going to go completely subjective. The show felt fresh. It felt new. The characters were developed with behind the scene videos that were long enough to get me interested but not so long I was bored. The matches were paced perfectly with cool down spots handled by more gimmicky guys allowing the workers in the main three matches to shine. The announcing was spot on. The crowd played into everything perfectly. It was, without a doubt, a great show. So what makes it the best? While watching, I had the same hiccup that everyone else did with the Russov run-in, and I looked at the clock to try and get an idea where in the broadcast I needed to pick back up. I could not for the life of me believe an hour and a half had went by. The time just flew. Contrast that to a three hour RAW (or many of the ppvs of late) where I'm acutely aware of how much time has gone by, just because it goes by so damn slowly while I wait for something I care about. There have been many RAWs where at the end I'm like "Well that's about all the rasstlin I can take for the week". NXT Arrival not only flew by, but left me wanting more, and that's why it's a fact that it was the best major show they've put on since Summerslam TO ME.
2. If what MVP says is true, TNA is making a stupid move by pushing him on TV so hard and having him featured in the Lockdown PPV's co-main event without a contract.
Tony Sly:FACT - Generally speaking, such an approach by a wrestling promotion would be construed as a "stupid move" under the best of circumstances, but TNA's idiocy is magnified by their history of being burned when utilizing talent without a long-term contract in higher profile roles (i.e. AJ Styles, Hulk Hogan, Rikishi, and Devon Dudley). TNA is in a tenuous position where they cannot afford mistakes that result in bad publicity, criticism of their business model, or a high profile angle falling flat on its face because a non-contracted talent leaves the promotion at an inopportune time.
Trent H:FICTION - We have to look at this through context. It would be a supremely stupid move for any organization other than TNA, however, for them, it's just par for the course. I mean, of course they've booked him to be one of the lead authority characters without a contract. Remember when Jarrett attacked Hogan overseas to set up a supercard that would never happen (even though they replayed the attack at least 400 times) and Hogan went on to sign with WWE? Remember when they already set the wheels in motion for a new Main Event Mafia without getting Nash and Booker under contract, and the two of them appeared in the Royal Rumble? This is the company that brought in Johnny Fairplay, Brian Urlacher and Pacman Jones. This is the company that brought in Jersey Shore stars and ran their segments at the same time as Jersey Shore was airing. Hell, at this point, the simple fact that they actually have a co-main event for Lockdown booked has to be sign as a positive. They would have to supremely screw the pooch for anything they do to be considered stupid, because simple stupid moves are as close to competent as this company has ever been or will ever be. Also, it's not like with the Network and WrestleMania on their plate the WWE is going to be jumping to sign away freaking MVP.
3. You have no desire to see Kurt Angle make a WWE return.
Tony Sly:FICTION - I am a fan of professional wrestling and want to see entertaining characters and matches on my television. I am not Kurt Angle's, relative, keeper, or friend. He is an adult, and if he wants to continue abusing his body while putting on 4 to 5 star matches in a feeble attempt to feed his wrestling addiction and/or bank account, then he has to deal with the consequences, I will simply be entertained by his in-ring skills and out of the ring antics.
Trent H:FACT - I was done with Angle a year and a half before he left the WWE. Somewhere along the line it seems like Kurt actually regressed and lost some storytelling to me. I don't know if it's that he doesn't have the same caliber of guys to work with or what, but I just cannot get into the story of his matches anymore. It's not quite the ECW days of setup then spot then setup then spot then setup then spot, but it's pretty damn close, and a lot closer than you'd expect for someone that everyone has been calling so technically gifted for all these years. It's been rather enjoyable not having to deal with that since it's on TNA because #lolnotwatchingtna. Granted, if booked right, his return could pop a rating and the subsequent matches could be decent, making everyone some money. I don't begrudge him. Just not something I'm trying to see in the WWE right now.
4. Even with the technical issues early on, you would consider the launch week for the WWE Network a success.
Tony Sly:FACT - The WWE Network is initially a success because it is creating a significant and overall positive buzz by giving fans of all varieties new original behind-the-scenes programming (i.e. Countdown and WrestleMania Rewind) and an opportunity to discover all of the WWE, WCW, and ECW PPVs for the first time or relive them again. Despite the online vitriol from the keyboard warriors in the first week due to the absence of a flawless technical launch, the fact is these Cheeto eating Mountain Dew chugging card carrying members of the IWC are whooping and hollering over ECW Heatwave '98 and WWE Money in the Bank ‘11 in dark basements all across the country.
Trent H:FACT - Look, day one was not smooth sailing. That's for sure. But I think that should have been expected. WWE decided not to do pre-orders and as such the first day was a total bust. I agree with Steve Cook that it may say more about what all wrestling fans have to do at 9am on a Monday than it does the success of the network itself. I digress…but what we've seen is WWE rebound MUCH faster than most video games that have the same stresses with their online components on day one. While some problems (especially with the 360) weren't resolved until early this week, the fact that WWE appears to have the kinks out in a week is actually a very good response to the issues compared to what we've seen from other companies. And once you do get access (I've had no problems since late Monday night on my PS3 and Android devices other than the hiccup everyone had during NXT Arrival) the question becomes the content. The answer to that question is: Wow. As a lifelong wrestling fan, the amount of content is brilliant and being able to access it at home or in my office is fantastic. The real test will be WrestleMania 30, but as it stands now (with WWE network on my laptop as I type this on my desktop at work) success doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about this new way to access content.
5. CM Punk is not returning to WWE before WrestleMania 30.
Trent H:FACT - No matter how much you chant, no matter how much you fail at hijacking RAW no matter how much people threaten to never watch again, no, he's not coming back right now. Because if he wanted to, he already would have been back. I have to assume that the main reason for his absence has more to do with burnout and being banged up than true problems with the creative direction. Because he has nothing to be unhappy about. Everything he asked for during the "pipe bomb" has been given to him (except for ice cream bars) including being on every bit of merch, the cover of the video game, the opening video, the TV appearances etc etc. To me, I think that finally being one of the faces of the company burned him out. I refuse to believe that someone who appears to be as smart as CM Punk would up and leave because he's booked into a semi-main against HHH. Because let's be honest, unless you're John Cena or the Undertaker a match against HHH at WrestleMania is a really big deal and should be treated as such. So, that said, I fall into the camp that says this has more to do with burnout than actual heat against the booking, and while I expect to see him back someday it's certainly not going to be before WrestleMania.
Tony Sly:FACT - Regardless of why CM Punk left, if he has the desire to come back, or when he wants to return; the fact of the matter is that that WWE is a business that has a strategic plan to make money, particularly at WrestleMania 30. Vince McMahon may have been willing to work with Punk (to include him on the WrestleMania card), but they have essentially passed the point of No Return for that to occur, so the focus is to create and promote a WrestleMania that will be as financially successful as possible. Face it #BasementDwellers, CM Punk is not the draw that John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Hulk Hogan, Undertaker, or Brock Lesnar are. A large percentage of the live gate tickets have already been purchased and the aforementioned men will ensure that all or nearly all of the remaining tickets are purchased, that PPVs are ordered, and the Network is signed up for by the millions of fans who will make WWE tens of millions of dollars at WrestleMania 30; money that CM Punk will not see one cent of. Vince McMahon swallows his pride when it is imperative to making more money, but in this case he doesn't need to give into Punk to make more money at WrestleMania because metaphorically speaking, the fans' checks are already in the mail.
6. The booking of the Emma vs. Paige match at the NXT Arrival show is everything that WWE should be doing with the divas on the main roster.
Trent H:FACT - But begrudgingly so. Because the "workrate" was certainly above what we usually see on RAW, and I'll freely admit that. But that actually has nothing to do with why this is a fact. Emma and Paige are two well-defined characters in NXT who have a reason to be taking each other on, and have given the crowd a reason to care. It's called booking for those of you who are new. And that is what the WWE should be doing with the divas on the main roster. Actually booking them. We make fun of Kane and Big Show for all their heel/face turns, but does anyone want to count how many times Alicia Fox has turned? At this point the main roster is AJ, loud twins, Anvil's daughter, and a bunch of random girls. Summer and Emma are really the only two who have broken through, and that's solely BECAUSE of NXT. Or maybe in spite of it, because Emma proves my point. They threw her out there on RAW with no character development doing the same thing she did in NXT and without the explanation it doesn't work as well. Sure, she's endearing enough that she's getting over as Santino's wacky sidekick, but is that really what you want from someone who could be a legitimate threat to AJ's title? Hardly. Improved workrate is great and I'm all for it, but without a reason to care it means nothing, which is why the character development and actual storylines on NXT are everything WWE should be doing with the divas on the main roster.
Tony Sly:FICTION - The booking of Emma vs. Paige worked because they are talented WRESTLERS who have experience working longer matches and have the proper training to adequately prepare them for situations where there are given 8-12 minutes of bell-to-bell time to fill. On the other hand, most of the Divas currently working on WWE TV do not have the strong wrestling background necessary to have longer matches that meet WWE's in-ring standards for their female talent. Sadly, they have been accustomed at having 2-5 minute matches, many of which are tag team matches with 4-10 participants. Telling more intricate and longer stories in and out of the ring within the Divas division would require the talent to wrestle longer matches which, with the current roster of Divas, would quite simply be a train wreck.
7. Daniel Bryan will not be added to the WWE World Title match at WrestleMania 30.
Trent H:FACT - Man I am so tired of the same people on the internet who were screaming and bemoaning the fact that WWE doesn't book long term storylines complaining that WWE is booking a long term storyline. However, rather than go down the same line of discussion that everyone else has already gone down twelve times and discuss the creative aspect, I'm going to look at this differently and look at the business aspect. Daniel Bryan vs. the authority clearly isn't over, and no matter what happens at WrestleMania it's something that can be drawn out over the summer. Which is good, because Guardians of the Galaxy releases on August 1, and during the promotion for that movie it's better business to have Dave be introduced as WWE champion rather than WWE superstar. So come August 1 we don't need Dave as champ anymore. Summerslam is scheduled for August 17. That would be the perfect time to put the belt on D-Bry. Why? Oh simply because the six month commitment for the network we've all signed up for expires one week later on August 24. I'm calling it now, the WWE doesn't need you to be happy with their product until August 24 because that's the day we'll see how renewals do for the next six month commitment, and as such, I am predicting WWE finally pays off this storyline on August 17 at Summerslam by giving Daniel Bryan the belt. Thus making it more likely that the "smarks" will renew their network subscription to see their boy headlining the big shows. Until then, to me, it makes the most sense to keep him out of the title picture, and as such I see no need to add him to the WrestleMania main event.
Tony Sly:FICTION - Despite Bryan's momentum easing up, I foresee it ramping back up as we get closer to WrestleMania, and the fans transfer their frustration over CM Punk's absence into a frenzied YES Movement. This swell will send such a strong message to the decision makers that it becomes inconceivable that WWE can continue to ignore the fans' desire to see Bryan in the main event and subsequently leave that much money on the table by not rewarding the fan's loyalty to Bryan. The fact that Batista will have evolved into a significant and pervasive heel by WrestleMania and Randy Orton is not compelling in the least will only work in Bryan's favor and undoubtedly force WWE's hand.
8. It isn't even close; Paul Heyman is the best promo guy in wrestling.
Trent H:FICTION - To be clear, Monday he took the crowd on twists and turns like no one else can. They started mad that he was a let down, got on his side when they thought there would be another "worked shoot" pipebomb, turned on him when he blamed them, and then he was able to use their own heat to sell them on a match that didn't even contain the man they were chanting for as one of the participants. It was beautiful. That was the best technically sound promo we've had in a while, and he IS the best in the business. But to say it's not even close overlooks some things. For example, during his feud with Punk his promo work was kinda meh (mostly because the writing as a whole was meh) and I'm shocked that Barak Lesnar hasn't become an internet meme yet. Add into that the "John Cena who actually cares" promo (because John can deliver on the level of Heyman when he wants to and avoids the goofy crap) and I think it's clear that while Heyman is the best promo in the business, he has others (Cena and Wyatt as two fine examples) close enough on his heels that I have to fiction this because of the beginning statement.
Tony Sly:FACT - The bottom line is that Heyman is the best promo in wrestling because he consistently has promos replete with compelling content, delivery, and nuance. A number of talents can deliver compelling promos, but it is not something they do CONSISTENTLY. Heyman, on the other hand, does not have off promos. What he delivers is something that causes viewers to elicit emotion, become invested, believe what his character is saying, and simply appreciate the art of delivering a promo and just how incredible Paul Heyman is at it.
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Larry Csonka is a Pisces and enjoys rolling at jiu jitsu class with Hotty McBrownbelt, cooking, long walks on the beach, Slingo and the occasional trip to Jack in the Box. He is married to a soulless ginger and has two beautiful daughters who are thankfully not soulless gingers; and is legally allowed to marry people in 35 states. He has been a wrestling fan since 1982 and has been writing for 411 since May 24th, 2004; contributing over 3,000 columns, TV reports and video reviews to the site.