411 Fact or Fiction 03.13.14: Daniel Bryan, Lashley’s Return, WrestleMania Excitement, More
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.13.2014
Will Daniel Bryan defeat Triple H and win the WWE World Tile at WrestleMania? Was it a good move for TNA to bring back Bobby Lashley? Should WWE sign Kevin Steen and Roderick Strong? 411's Nick Marsico and Dino Zucconi 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 the author of Smart Marks, he is Mr. Dino Zucconi! His opponent is on part time status now, but is a long time contributor to 411, he is Mr. Nick Marsico ! 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. Daniel Bryan will defeat Triple H at WrestleMania, and then go on to win the World Title in the Main Event of the show.
Nick Marsico:FACT - Of course at this point it's not safe to assume anything about this angle. With the way it has gone since August, Bryan will end up losing Booker-T style (with less implied racism) but I'm (foolishly) optimistic that it will finally end the way we want it to. I was truly not expecting that they would actually go with the idea that everybody had been speculating about (read: hoping for) but damn if they didn't give us EXACTLY what we wanted. Surely it wasn't the plan all along, but who cares? It's going to be very interesting to see what they do once WrestleMania is over. That's the part I'm really interested in. The follow-up is more important than the initial result.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - I'm all in on this one, baby! Now sure, let's clear this up right away- I could easily see Daniel Bryan eat a Pedigree and lose to Triple H. I could even see Bryan pull out some fluky as hell victory by the skin of his teeth, only to take a devastating ass whooping from Trips in the post-match. From there, Batista would enter for the start of the triple threat, and hit the Batista Bomb. Orton would then make his entrance, and since it takes so long, Bryan would be staggering back to his feet when Orton entered the ring, and would immediately eat an RKO, causing him to lay on the floor at ringside for the rest of the 25-minute classic Orton and Batista have planned for us. None of this would surprise me one bit.
However, much to the chagrin of the ones who felt like WWE had definitely dropped D-Bry from the title plans, I don't see any of that happening. I see Bryan and Triple H providing us a pretty damn good match, won by Bryan, who then goes on and captures the belt to close out WrestleMania 30. I've always seen Mania ending with Bryan holding the title, and I'm glad that my trust in the system is getting paid. Sure, there were painful steps, and WWE's intent on swerving just to swerve gets so tiring, but in the end, I'm getting what I want, so I'm not gonna waste too much time complaining. Slam-dunk on this one (and if I'm wrong, then I'm wrong).
2. TNA bringing back Bobby Lashley is a good idea.
Nick Marsico:FICTION - Is this what the cost cutting measures are for? Maybe TNA is bringing him back because they saw WWE bring back a marginal wrestler who failed to transition to MMA and figured it would work. The only thing I can remember from the first time he was in TNA was that one time he came out on the entrance ramp and pointed to the ring.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - I was actually very pleased to see that Lashley made his return to TNA at Lockdown. I'm not a gigantic Lashley fan, but I do consider myself a fan, and I think he brings a presentation that no one else in TNA really does. Now, whether he's losing to Austin Aries and Chris Sabin week after week or running through everyone remains to be seen, but TNA really needed a big, brutish babyface, and now they have one. That's opinion, of course, and yours may vary. I happen to think that having someone like Lashley who can intimidate the heels on presence alone isn't the worst thing, and while Samoa Joe can sometimes fill that role, we've been trained to know that he's not really gonna do anything as far as getting results goes.
On top of that, Lashley is a decently well-known name, has experience both in WWE and in TNA, and this time appears to not want to split time with rasslin' and MMA. If he's actually back to give it his full attention, TNA has a good signing on its hands. Regardless of what ends up happening, this is still a good idea. We'll use the hindsight another time.
3. You would rather WWE had brought back the Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania instead of the 30-Man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Nick Marsico:FICTION - The Battle Royal is something different and I like it. Yeah, it's happening not too long after the premiere battle royal in the Royal Rumble match, but Battles Royal are an old school tradition and the thirtieth (twenty-ninth anniversary, mind you) annual WrestleMania should have an old school taste. The Money in the Bank match was a good spectacle but as far as I'm concerned it had run its course. It's better as a PPV, especially now since it's just going to be one match for a shot at one title, similar to how Elimination Chamber was this year.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - This sucks, because of course I would like the Money in the Bank match to return at WrestleMania, but that "instead" is where things started skidding for me. I like the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. For all the fans who want to argue that not every match has to mean everything and we can just have fun, I think this is a great example. It's a nice nod to one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and gives someone on the roster a nice novelty win without anything really big attached to it. I understand that some think it's a bit pointless (one of my friends absolutely thought it was dumb), but I like the respect for history being shown, and it somewhat reminds me of the old Crockett Promotions memorial tournaments that would take place every so often. Yes, I'd like to have Money in the Bank back at WrestleMania. No, not instead of the Battle Royal. Andre's worth the effort.
4. The recent reports of more cost cutting and the continued attendance issues at major events are not a good sign for TNA's future.
Nick Marsico:FICTION - TNA has had low attendance for house shows since forever. They've never drawn decent crowds (save for a couple major PPVs) outside of the UK and chances are it will never change. They don't promote their shows well... people who lived in the same towns that the arenas they were taping Impact in had no clue they were even coming. The brand is just incredibly weak, so much so that not even big stars are draws. For WWE, the name is the draw. For TNA, the name isn't even known. But it's been that way for 12 years and they haven't gone under yet. They will never compete with WWE (nor will any wrestling company in this country) and their brand needs a radical change if they want to actually grow. WCW and the WWF were at war when the wrestlers were the ones putting butts in seats. Now it's the perception of the company as a whole. TNA is still perceived to be the company that picks up washed up guys or talent that nobody else wants (looking at you, Lashley) and the company that just presents a product that desperately wants to be sports entertainment but has no idea how. I'm not quite sure what the radical change might be, but it would have to be something that REALLY sets them apart as something different and special. And no, the six-sided ring is not the answer. Oh, but to respond to the specific question, they'll be just fine. They will continue to tread water until a meteor strikes the Earth and kills us all.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - This must have been put in as a question just to rile up the usual crew. Look, I'm not saying "Fact" here because I think TNA is dead. However, I would not consider cost cutting and attendance issues (at least in America) to be "good signs" in any way. Again, I do NOT think TNA is dying. Not now, not in 6 months, not in a year. I just don't. I do think that at some point, something in their model is going to have to change, but they'll address it when they've figured it out, and move on from there. Regardless of what some of the fans like to think, this company has survived for over a decade now, with constant taunting of how the end is near. Clearly, someone somewhere in that organization has had the means to make it work. That said, I don't think being worried about TNA is the worst thing to admit. It does bum me out when I see the pictures from the pay per views that show half empty arenas. And while some may play semantics with arguments like "of course they have a smaller crowd- they're a smaller promotion!" the fact is that they are only confusing the point. It's not that they have a smaller crowd than, say, WWE. It's that they are running arenas where they can only draw to fill 1/5 or 1/10 of it. They should try to run the smaller venues and pack them instead of pushing everyone that showed up to one side of the arena. It would at least eliminate the ammunition those who enjoy mocking TNA love to provide. I would just like to see TNA presented in the best way possible, and sometimes they short change themselves in that aspect. Again, NOT rooting for TNA to fail, NOT thinking that they die soon, CONSTANTLY hoping that they can fix the mistakes they make and learn from them.
5. We're under 30-days to WrestleMania 30; it is an embarrassment that there are no Title matches set for the US and Intercontinental Champions.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - Bear with me, here. Yeah, it sucks that the IC and US titles are (once again) afterthoughts when it comes to WrestleMania. But really, they always are. This has been going on for over ten years, and I just don't have it in me to get this worked up about it anymore. And when I really thought about it, what matches, exactly should we be putting together? Dean Ambrose is in no real feud outside of the bickerfest with Rollins and Reigns while we all wait for the Shield to explode. Do Rollins or Reigns deserve a shot at the United States championship? I wouldn't really think so. So do we just throw some random jerk at Rollins? What about Big E? He's playing Miss Elizabeth to Cesaro and Swagger's Mega Powers breakup currently, and has multiple wins over both. So the only reasonable feud he's in, he has dominated and neither deserve a shot, either. Do we also throw a random jerk at Big E just to have the IC title defended at Mania? I think that would be a bigger embarrassment.
The biggest problem is that the IC and US Titles are no longer presented as having their own separate division with its own rankings. No one works up to earn a shot at either title- you just kinda earn one, and then you win or lose, and you move on. Even if it was the way it is in the WWE video games, where you only rank like 5 guys, at least we'd have 5 viable names to get a crack at the secondary champion. Perhaps the top two guys are involved in a bitter feud- then plug in contender 3 for the pay per view shot! But, since they don't, we're left to sit in the situation I described above. Maybe it's for the best that we didn't just throw together matches just to get titles defended; I still have nightmares of D'Lo Brown and Test competing for the Tag Titles in a 4 minute classic.
Nick Marsico:FICTION - I can't honestly say that I would consider it an embarrassment at this point. It is sadly something to be expected. Maybe we'll still get a match for one of the belts. On the bright side of it, even if there aren't matches made yet, there are technically two feuds that involve men who hold the belts, which is a good thing. I think the best-case scenario for the IC Title (read: what I would like to see) is having Cesaro and Swagger officially split and have a #1 Contender's match on RAW. Cesaro v. Big E was a very good match a few weeks back and they both deserve a rematch at WrestleMania. On the US Title side, they have been building up the fact that Ambrose has barely defended the title. What better way to immediately elevate Reigns further than by having him get tired of Dean not defending it and making the challenge himself? Rollins gets pissed for being left out of it and we get the official breakup of the Shield with a triple threat at WrestleMania. I truly believe we'll end up seeing matches for both titles, so I'm not worried about it. Man, I completely changed my tune over the course of a single paragraph. Optimism to the rescue!
6. TNA's problem has never been with the in ring talent, it has always been with the way that talent has been booked.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - I just don't like the idea that TNA just exists with a problem. I would reword and it say that the problem many fans have with TNA is the way they book talent. I think we can all agree, right off the bat, that TNA has absolutely never had a problem with in ring talent. The fans have also not had a problem, for the most part, with the in ring talent. However, yes, many fans have voiced displeasure with the booking of TNA. There was even a point where the fans took to "Fire Russo!" chants whenever they didn't like what was being presented to them (and regardless of whether or not Russo was the scribe of the particular segment).
For me, personally, the biggest problem I have with TNA is their undying effort to make the little guys constantly appear as equals to the bigger guys. The idea that Samoa Joe held the TNA title one time, that Matt Morgan never held it, that Abyss held it once under fluky circumstances... while AJ Styles held it multiple times, while Chris Sabin held it once, while even Magnus now gets a run with it just doesn't sit right with me. That's not to say Only big guys should be the champ, hyuk!, but it is absolutely to say that it drives me crazy to see the efforts taken to undercut monsters in the name of making the small guy the super hero. Spanky pinning Abyss for the X Title sits as another example of this. Does that mean the product sucks? No. Does that mean that what they're doing is wrong? No. It only means that it bugs the crap out of me. Matt Morgan should've been a dominant TNA Champion. Maybe they'll get it right with Lashley. Or maybe he'll lose to Kaz.
Nick Marsico:FACT - Few truer statements have ever been made. The talent has been there since the very beginning. The issue is that they have found so much great talent over the years but have rarely had a clue what to do with them. Whether it be wasting them by doing nothing worthwhile or pushing lesser talent either due to nepotism, friendship, ignorance or ill-perceived star power, they have just been incredibly foolish and wasted tons of opportunities. Sometimes they do it right and things like Bully Ray's rebirth are amazing. The Abyss character was fantastic and even with some bumps in the road he has had wonderful progression over the years. They had no idea what the endgame was going to be with the Joseph Park deal and wound up turning it from an incredibly hot near-main event storyline into a sideshow act with (the admittedly great) Eric Young. Monty Brown was a good talent who came out of nowhere and had insane potential, so instead of giving him the spotlight and the NWA Title, they had him blow it time and time again in favor of Jeff Jarrett, DDP and other has-been WCW stars.
Samoa Joe is nowhere near where he could/should be. Yeah, he was in the title match at LockDown but lost and is just a cog in the machine these days. Joe is turning 35 next week. It's not too late for him, but the opportunity to help TNA grow by making him one of the cornerstones has long passed. Obviously WWE has done the same thing for a long time, but they draw everywhere and the owner became a billionaire because of his wrestling company, not because he was born into a family of what I like to envision being cartoony-looking rich oil tycoons. I could go on and on and name plenty of guys, but we only have so much column space. Again, for the most part they've done a good job with a lot of great talents but the obvious politics and stupidity has significantly overshadowed the positive things they have done.
7. Kevin Steen and Roderick Strong will be attending the next WWE tryout camp at the Performance Center. If it were up to you, you would sign both to developmental deals.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - While both would be a great addition to developmental, I don't know how much Roderick Strong would bring to the Raw/Smackdown landscape, and I say that as a fan of the man generally. I've just never thought he'd make it in WWE, and while I've definitely proven wrong with other guys on that front, I don't think Strong has the tools to be another wrestler that makes it. Steen, on the other hand, I think would be just fine, thank you very much, and I'd like to see him on Raw or Smackdown as soon as possible, really. So while I guess I'd technically sign both of them, in real life execution I wouldn't sign Strong on the basis of not seeing much future gain out of him. If I'm just gonna keep him as a Developmental Lifer, then sure, change this answer to Fact.
Nick Marsico:FACT - I certainly would. Steen is an amazing wrestler and an even better talker (which is no small feat) and he has a very unconventional look for the WWE landscape. Most people would disagree with signing Strong, but I disagree with those people. It's true that he has made very, very little improvement when it comes to his ability to talk and the dude is about 4 feet tall, but he gets it. He is one of my favorite in-ring performers of all time and has had a number of classic singles matches, but his value is as a tag team wrestler. It's a perfect role for him. He doesn't have to get over, his team needs to get over. Pair him with the right guy and his wrestling talent does the talking for him and his size becomes a non-factor.
How excited are you for WrestleMania 30?
Dino Zucconi: Way too excited. The card isn't a great card by any stretch of the imagination, but on Monday night, they did the right thing and made it appear as though Daniel Bryan is finally going to overcome all of the shit, and that we as fans who have sat and stuck through the garbage will finally get the big celebratory moment we've been waiting for since Randy Orton interrupted SummerSlam's moment. I'm way too excited for this, and should probably be made fun of for it. Outside of this, I'm still holding out hope for Cody vs. Goldust, even as the days continue to fade away and it looks like a bleaker and bleaker possibility. Still, at least we're most likely not going to have to watch Dave Batista vs. Randy Orton as our main event, and that's something to be excited about, right? YES! YES! YES!
Nick Marsico: I am always excited for WrestleMania. I have said a number of years in a row after being disappointed and feeling like I wasted my money that I would stop paying for it, and every year I make it up until about 6:55pm and then I drop the money on it. Then I feel like I wasted the money. But I feel like a kid for the entire day of the show and end up forgetting about everything else. WrestleMania can't feed my kids? Fuck 'em! We have bread and plenty of peanut butter! It's "School Lunch Week" for dinner, kids! Of course now that I have the WWE Network so I don't have to worry about it (at least this year), and that is a relief. The Daniel Bryan stuff is exciting, I always love a good battle royal, Bray Wyatt versus John Cena has a ton of potential and Undertaker matches are always worth it just to see if they will actually end the streak one day.
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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.