411 Fact or Fiction 04.17.14: Undertaker Finished, TNA Copying WWE, More
Posted by Larry Csonka on 04.17.2014
Is the Undertaker done as an in-ring talent? Was Eric Young’s TNA Title win a cheap knockoff of Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania 30 moment? Are we interested in Global Force Wrestling? 411's Daniel Clark, Nick Sellers and Koeddy Laemmle 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 does the Smackdown Instant Analysis, he is Mr. Nick Sellers! His first opponent writes the 4R of Smackdown every week, he is Mr. Daniel Clark! And for this week, the special third man is new 411 MMA contributor Koeddy Laemmle!
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 Undertaker is done as an in ring performer.
Daniel Clark:FACT - I'm not in the slightest bit sure of this and went back and forward on this decision, but eventually, concluded that I think he is as I cannot see what is left for him in the ring. He has been done as a full time wrestler for a while now and all that was really keeping him going was him streak at WrestleMania. But now, having lost to Brock Lesnar, the streak is over, so what is there left for him to do? I can't see him wrestling again until WrestleMania 31 anyway and then he will be a year older and a year slower in the ring, but also, there are very few opponents, if any, left for him to face. He could face someone like Roman Reigns, but now that he has lost at WrestleMania, a victory over the Undertaker doesn't mean as much as it used to do and there are probably better ways of getting someone like that over to the main event. I can't really think of too many feuds that are left for the Undertaker anyway, I don't know whether he has the capacity to produce great matches any more, and there doesn't really seem to be anywhere left for the Undertaker to go after this. He could return wanting to avenge the loss, but even if he does, 22-1 isn't any different to 21-1. The Undertaker is an old-school guy and the old-school method is that when you to leave, you go out on your back and lose to help someone else, which is exactly what he has done. I'm sure he would have wanted a better last match than the one he actually had, but that alone isn't a reason to come back and have another match. It wouldn't be a massive surprise if he did want one more match, but I'm not sure I can see what that match is, and logically, he is probably done as a wrestler.
Nick Sellers:FICTION - Well, it depends on your definition of "done." Even if he were to officially announce his retirement tomorrow, the first golden rule of wrestling is that you never say never. As a WrestleMania regular -or a regular part-timer for want of a better term- he looks to have finished up. But referring back to that golden rule, if both WWE and Undertaker felt that there was some business to do down the line, you just never know. And if it ever does happen, it'll be nothing like the Undertaker bouts we're used to seeing; the style he'd work would likely be stripped back considerably. But that's from an in-ring viewpoint. What about his potential future as an on-screen character? There might be some legs in this "Is Undertaker finished?" stance they're pushing. Just to really mess with people, I'd turn him heel and align him with the Authority, putting him in the full suit & tie getup in the process. That would piss so many people off, but it would make perfect sense: He can't be "The Phenom" anymore, so he's offered a corporate job for his 20+ years of loyal service and he'd be a fool not to take it (kayfabe). That might lead to something down the line where he's goaded into returning for one more match. There are all sorts of possibilities; Just remember the golden rule.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - I went back and forth on this one because all signs pointed to it being a farewell to The Undertaker after the Streak was broken but there will definitely be that desire to end it on a different note (especially considering Undertaker won't remember any of what was his final match, which will make it difficult for him to even rewatch). Better judgment says no, given his age, and how serious the concussion he suffered at WrestleMania truly had to have been in order to keep him in a hospital overnight. His career may have been over due to that injury alone, thankfully it was caught before he could do further damage like Bret Hart did in WCW when he was in a similar situation 15 years ago.
I'm personally still recovering from a concussion suffered in a car accident six months ago: I didn't have to stay at the hospital overnight and Taker is 26 years my elder, so it will probably be a year before he is even physically able to do any long-term strenuous activity anyways. By that point he will be 50 and WWE will be a full year into a full blown new era of wrestling so the timing just won't be there. I would never count out a "Dark Knight Rises" type storyline though where Undertaker returns a couple years down the road to triumph one last time over Brock Lesnar (who coincidently is perfect for the role of Bain) but they must ensure Lesnar is constantly built up as the man who ended the Undertaker's career.
2. Eric Young winning the TNA World Title was a cheap knockoff of Daniel Bryan's WrestleMania 30 victory.
Daniel Clark:FACT - It's hard to know for sure whether TNA have tried to rip-off the WWE and Daniel Bryan by giving the title to Eric Young or whether this was always part of the plan, but the timing of it sure makes it looks like it is cheap knockoff. There are a lot of similarities between Young and Bryan as wrestlers, added to that the fact they both had to wrestle twice in one night before taking the title, both had an injured arm, plus with Jeff Jarrett announcing his new promotion, you get the feeling that they might have tried to do something and put the title on a guy that no-one dislikes to try and get some attention. It's just the timing that makes it look so suspicious more than anything. Daniel Bryan's title win was the culmination of a nine month long storyline in which the Authority have tried everything they could to keep the title off him, from throwing him in handicap matches, keeping him out of the Royal Rumble etc, in which Bryan had the support of the crowd who desperately wanted to see him, and him alone, win the title at WrestleMania, with his story ending with him beating HHH, Batista and Randy Orton all in one night to get his moment. And although I'm not a regular TNA viewer, I've never got the impression that the crowd where demanding Eric Young to become the champion, nor have I got the impression that the situation was building for Young to become a champion and this was part of a long term storyline; just looking it up and Young had not won a match before Thursday since January 16th, he hadn't won a singles match since September 12th. At the very least, putting the belt on Young was a rushed move. My feeling is that this was a cheap knockoff by TNA to try and capitalize on Daniel Bryan's win at WrestleMania, although it is not quite the same given the only real similarities in the storyline are the winning two matches in one night – the build-up to that happening were totally different. However, the problem for TNA is that even if it wasn't a knockoff and it was part of a plan, the perception from the majority of fans is that it was, and perception is reality.
Nick Sellers:FACT - Nothing against Eric Young, but it struck me as purely an attempt to create some headlines during the busiest week of the entire pro-wrestling calendar. Nothing wrong with that in principal, but at a time where maybe, just maybe you've got some extra eyes on your product as people get their yearly wrestling overdose, maybe the title should've been transitioned onto a more bankable star. That opinion might not be popular, and you could argue they're trying to establish a TNA original as a bigger star in the process. They're trying to capture a piece of the Daniel Bryan magic and that's about it. That's not to say Young isn't deserving of such an accolade and he's been a great servant for TNA. I just feel like he could've got to that point another way rather than TNA just cashing in on the Bryan hype.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - There's really no other logical way to really explain the booking decision. With all due respect to Eric Young, who has been a phenomenal hand his entire TNA tenure, he has been booked like a comedy midcarder much the same as Santino Marella in WWE for even a longer amount of time (although he did get that short period were he was a serious heel with World Elite, his booking since then regressed him back into comedy territory). This isn't even mentioning the fact that TNA has been heavily invested in Magnus for months. If anybody was going to beat him it was being built up to be Samoa Joe, but since he's out the more reasonable option would have been to continue to invest in Magnus until either Joe came back or they built up another legitimate challenger to take the belt. Instead they book a random title change during the same week WWE's biggest true underdog story comes full circle and continue their never ending trend of trying to be WWE-lite. Granted, they have been pushing Eric Young a little more over the past few weeks, he was mainly still a background player in the overall picture and giving him the belt so soon does more to hurt the prestige of the belt than help EY get over as a legitimate main event star.
3. The tournament for a shot at the Intercontinental Title will lead to WWE actually reinvesting in that title.
Daniel Clark:FICTION - The tournament for a shot at the Intercontinental Title will lead to a short term boost and interest in the title, probably past Extreme Rules as they use it to push and promote whoever wins the tournament and presumably the title. But even on Raw, when they announced the tournament, there was no real total conviction that the title was going to cared about again with very few, if any, of the competitors in the tournament stating that they wanted the title and the reasons why they wanted the title, while the actual champion, Big E., was only shown backstage watching on a TV screen, when it would have been good to hear from him about how he feels to have a winner from a tournament face him for the title and how he plans to defend it at Extreme Rules. This isn't the first time that they IC title has been given some prominence in recent times. Chris Jericho held the title in 2009 and then it felt like a big deal, but once he dropped it, its importance dropped down the card again and returned to having midcarders hold the title for a long time without actually doing anything with it memorable. I hope I'm wrong with this and the title IC title will become something more than a prop again, but I fear that whoever wins the title will defend it briefly and then will just carry it around for months without getting into a feud over it. History suggests that this will not change the importance of the IC title.
Nick Sellers:FICTION - The novelty will wear off within a couple of weeks. It's nice that the tournament was a prominent part of Raw and it gave it a nice running theme throughout the broadcast, but as soon as the new #1 contender is crowned (my money's on Cesaro) and the title match takes place, the buzz will wear off as it always does. Only continuous promotion of the belt and having it as a focal point of feuds will keep up the interest in the title outside of the occasional pop when a change occurs.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - The tournament kicked off in spectacular fashion and was part of the focus for this past Monday's Raw, which took me back to a time where the WWE's midcard was as entertaining and fun to follow as the main event scene. I can see why people would be so hesitant to believe the WWE will actually keep up the strong booking for the Intercontinental title. We've seen many attempts to rejuvenate interest in the title but all of them suffered the same fate, with poor long-term booking that lead to the same old over and over again. This time I really do believe we will get some interesting feuds featuring the Intercontinental title due to the self-awareness WWE has shown since the launch of the WWE Network I really do think they are trying to solve some of the issues they've had over the past decade including reinvesting their time in the midcard, tag teams and diva's. Plus with so many new superstars debuting in the coming months there's going to be plenty of fresh faces to contender for the title.
4. WWE should be very concerned that Direct TV and DISH Network are dropping their PPVs.
Daniel Clark:FICTION - Very concerned, no. But slightly concerned, yes. You would assume that the WWE would have done their research on this issue on PPVs being dropped when planning for the network and would have factored that into their business model, or at the very least, explored what the PPVs carriers would potentially do in this situation, and therefore, with Direct TV and the DISH Network dropping the PPVs, would be able to cope financially with it, and given that at the moment, the price of the WWE network is cheaper than the price of a PPV, they will just hope that people would buy the network anyway. The issue is more around casual fans who might decide that on a whim to purchase a PPV and then if they are told that they cannot and have to buy the network, would perhaps decide that they aren't going to bother spending their money on it. And the other issue is that it is a far more pleasurable viewing experience to watch anything on a TV rather than a laptop screen, especially if you are watching a PPV in a group, and if you are restricted to only being able to watch on a smaller screen, people are less likely to want to do that. I know you can either watch through some connected TV's or by hooking the laptop to a TV, but not everyone can do that or wants to do that. That said, surely the possibility of PPV carriers dropping WWE would have been a part of the initial planning stage of the network and so they would have a contingency plan (or at least, you would hope so). I would say it is slightly concerning that some people might not be interested in purchasing the network, but not yet very concerning. Extreme Rules will be a test though and if those people who would normally buy it on PPV are unable to do so and do not watch via the network, then it could be more of an issue.
Nick Sellers:FICTION - They probably expected it as a consequence of the network launch. All the signs point towards the network being a success at present, so even if they make a small loss initially, the company PPV (or do we call them specials now?) model is changing and evolving, so if anything WWE has essentially left these traditional PPV carriers behind.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - Even if WWE planned for something like this to happen, I doubt they planned on it happening so quickly. These are the two biggest satellite television providers in the world and even though the WWE Network is obviously the future of PPV content, right now, there are still way too many fans relying on these two providers for access to WWE content. Of the record 1 million households who watched WrestleMania 30 an estimated 40% of them were still ordering it on pay-per-view. Also let's not forget that WWE stock plummeted after it was revealed there were about 670,000 WWE Network subscribers, which in theory sounds good but will not be enough to counter the drop in PPV revenue. It'll be important to see if those numbers remain stable or more importantly, if the inevitable raising of the monthly price will have a negative effect on that number when it does happen later this year. While I think this move was one of the most important in WWE's history due to the dying landscape of the pay-per-view format the transition needed a little bit more time to bring in more subscribes before it became the dominant form of watching their larger events. I'm sure there will be a deal worked out within the next couple months to get their PPV's reinstated but this deal does a lot more damage to WWE's income than it will Direct TV and DISH.
5. At this point, you have little to no interest in Sting signing with WWE.
Koeddy Laemmle:FICTION - Let me start off by clarifying I have absolutely no desire to see Sting wrestle in a WWE ring at this stage in his career. The time has come and gone for when that would have had a ton of potential to produce high quality angles and matches. Like timing issues with the Undertaker returning, it would be near impossible to fit Sting in the current WWE roster without setting back the transitional period we are currently in, and really there aren't any must-see matches that would involve him anyways at age 55. Instead I want to see Sting get inducted into the Hall of Fame and get the respect he earned by being the backbone of WCW and easily the most popular wrestler of the modern era to not step foot in a WWE ring. Sting would definitely make for a great special appearance guy and would be a one of the best backstage influence for all the younger wrestlers and for that reason I think he would be a great addition to the WWE. It's also going to be great being able to get his opinions on future documentary DVD's.
Nick Sellers:FACT - No disrespect to my 411 colleagues who relay the news but if I see one more "update" on the Sting saga I don't think my limited brain capacity could actually cope with the tedium of it. Most of the reports are purely speculative and there has been absolutely no progress on it for months apart from him being removed from TNA's website. Stop the fucking presses! If he comes to WWE on a legends deal, great. Good for him. If he doesn't, see you in the Hall of Fame someday when WrestleMania goes back to an old WCW territory and you get inducted there, or something. He'll definitely end up in the company in some capacity (remember the golden rule!) but until there is some ACTUAL news, I.e direct quotes from the man himself or an official statement from his agent, a WWE official or anyone else with some actual merit, then I'll take a small amount of interest again. Otherwise, let's talk about something else.
Daniel Clark:FACT - I never saw Sting in his prime in the 1990's when he was one of the top names in Wrestling as I was too young and had no method of watching WCW anyway. I have only seen bits of his work in TNA and there was nothing that was so special that I desperately would have wanted him to sign and wrestle for WWE. And therefore, for me, Sting is almost a name before my time who holds no emotional attachment as a fan, and thus the dream matches that people have suggested do not really mean a lot to me. I would have no problem with Sting signing with the WWE, but I'm not hugely fussed either way. He is a 55 year old who would only be wrestling occasionally, and his ring work is not anywhere near the level it was when he was at his best, and so, I'm not sure where he would fit on the roster or who he would wrestle. I fully expect him to sign, if he hasn't already, and if he does wrestle a few matches for the WWE than that's fine, but I'm not sure that I really care either way whether he does or not. I'm not sure what he offers, other than name value, that no one else on the roster can provide. And particularly if the WWE are running with the theme that the "future is now", Sting is almost a backwards step.
6. TNA made the right move by signing James Storm to a contract extension.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - TNA definitely made the right move. Whether or not James Storm made the right move remains to be seen. Whatever he will be making is most likely a little less than his previous, their budget cuts have been widely discussed lately and it is the reason there has been such a large turnover in talent lately. Also the booking of James Storm has been very questionable over the last two years, and he is one of their most recent missed opportunities that was there begging for a push leading into the 2012 Bound for Glory pay-per-view. While he hasn't done much since that time period, he remains one of their top stars and would be fairly easy to get him back into the main event picture due to the thinning out of the TNA roster. Much like Samoa Joe, I think this resigning will lead to a reinvestment into their character but just like Joe it may be too late to turn back the hands of time and undo the damage they caused with their inconsistent booking.
Nick Sellers:FACT - He's a solid performer and they can't afford to lose workers like him right now. WWE wouldn't gain much from signing him, but TNA would absolutely regret losing him. He's a homegrown performer who often adds a lot to Impact, so extending his deal should really be a no-brainer.
Daniel Clark:FACT - James Storm has been with TNA since the start of the promotion so even if it just to keep up appearances, they needed to give him a contract extension. If they cannot even keep their originals and most loyal stars in the company, then to outsides, it would look as if they are getting closer and closer to collapsing as a promotion. However, James Storm is still worthy of a contract with TNA. He provides name value, he can work a good match in the ring, he can cut a promo, and he has proved adept at the various different shades to his character that he has portrayed in TNA. He might not necessarily be someone that they are looking to build the promotion around, but he offers enough to be a steady upper-card talent and has been around the main event scene long enough that if someone was to beat him, it would mean something. Also, as far as Storm is concerned, if he left TNA, I don't think the WWE would be interested in signing him, so signing a new deal if probably the best option for both parties.
7. WWE sending officials to aid the widow of the Ultimate Warrior is a classy and thoughtful move by the company.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - How could this not be seen as a classy and thoughtful move? WWE has reached out to the family of one of their fallen soldiers and that is something that shouldn't just be scoffed at. The late Warrior's wife Dana even thanked WWE for reaching out in her time of need in a letter to the fans and showed a lot of appreciation for all their tributes throughout the week. Handling widely publicized deaths of former employees has NEVER been a strong point for WWE. Anybody who remembers the classless interview Vince McMahon did with Melanie Pillman on Raw one day after Brian Pillman's passing would wisely agree and be thankful for the way the WWE has handled Warrior's passing. As I mentioned in an earlier answer, WWE seems a little more self-aware and are taking necessary measures to clean up their image to distance themselves with diabolical things they've done for publicity or to distance themselves from negative publicity throughout the past. Thankfully that means reaching out to many of their former employees or families and lending them a hand in their time of need instead of approaching the subject in a tasteless manner in an attempt to boost ratings via shock value.
Nick Sellers:FACT - Couldn't have put it better. As usual I think they've handled such a tribute brilliantly in terms of the help they've provided and in doing their bit to give the guy a good send-off.
Daniel Clark:FACT - How could it not be? This is one of the things that the WWE do very well and it is hard to fault them for it. The Ultimate Warrior was at the time of his sad passing working with the WWE, so them trying to help his widow is almost what you would expect a company of their size to do, but that doesn't make it any less classy and thoughtful.
8. You are interested in Jeff Jarrett's Global Force Wrestling.
Koeddy Laemmle:FACT - Right now TNA seems to be in crisis mode similar to the dying days of WCW (sorry TNA fans but if you don't see the writing on the wall at this point, you either: a) are lying to yourself or b) weren't watching when WCW went down. At this point a new face on the horizon is definitely a welcome addition. Now, just because I'm interested doesn't necessarily mean it's for all the right reasons. Everybody needs to understand that with this new wrestling company, there is a better chance it winds up being an overall disaster than legitimate competition to WWE. There isn't a whole lot of world renowned talent that isn't either retired or currently on the WWE roster so that will definitely be an obstacle they will need to overcome but judging by the first webisode of #TheJourney it appears Jeff Jarrett is embracing this fact and traveling the world looking for the next great talents in professional wrestling. Anybody who's a fan of wrestling should be excited for this new chapter but keep their expectations at a reasonable level because even if GFW is a genuinely satisfying alternative to WWE, it doesn't mean that will automatically lead to success and long term consistency.
Nick Sellers:FICTION - Maybe in the initial shows, but the novelty will soon wear off. It'll either be a total car-wreck with no structure and lots of in fighting, or it'll surprise everyone. Early indications are that we're looking at the former.
Daniel Clark:FICTION - I am interested to find out a little bit more about the promotion, but at the moment, nothing that has been released about the promotion has captured my imagination. The problem that Jeff Jarrett has is that there are not a huge number of wrestlers, if any really, who are not currently contracted to either the WWE or TNA who he could build a promotion around and unless they get that initial name(s), it isn't necessarily going to catch on with the public, and the names that have been mentioned as potentially signing with the promotion are one's that even regular watchers of wrestling might not have heard of. It does have a bit of backing behind it but as of yet, they have nothing of any value. I would class myself as a wrestling fan, but I'm not one who will go out of their way to find matches online or watch obscure indy promotions, so unless they get a TV deal, sign a series of wrestlers who I am interested in watching or have heard good things about, or come up with something new and innovative, I'm not sure that I'll be watching much of GFW. I might watch their first show but unless it is something truly special, that might be all. I'm also not sure that there is room for another big wrestling company in the USA anyway. There doesn't seem to be the fanbase for two companies, partly shown by the fact that TNA has had the same audience and ratings figures for years and cannot grow that regardless of what they try. I wish them the best with the new promotion, but as of now, I'm not that interested in what they have to offer. And unfortunately for them, I don't think enough people will be either. If they do really well, they might get to the level where TNA currently is, but that is possibly their ceiling.
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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.