411 Fact or Fiction 05.01.14: Extreme Rules, Eric Young as Champion, Dusty’s Talking Ability, More
Posted by Larry Csonka on 05.01.2014
Will the Shield vs. Evolution steal the show at Extreme Rules? Was Bray Wyatt and John Cena's Raw segment creepily effective? Is Dusty Rhodes an all-time top five guy on the microphone? 411's Daniel Wilcox 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 every Saturday in the wrestling zone, he is Mr. Dino Zucconi! His opponent writes a metric fuck ton of music reviews and also finds time to write about wrestling, he is Mr. Daniel Wilcox!
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 Shield vs. Evolution will steal the show at the Extreme Rules PPV.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - I won't be surprised if it does, but I'm going to double down on my initial WrestleMania prediction that failed, and I'm saying Bray Wyatt and John Cena tear the house down at Extreme Rules. I felt they were going to do that for Mania, but the story ended up overwhelming the match. That could very well happen again, but I think we're going to get a nice, old-school, brutal matchup between these two, one that's going to outshine whatever the Shield and Evolution have planned. I could easily whiff with this call again, but I'm going to stick with it.
Daniel Wilcox:FACT - If WWE announced tomorrow morning that they were going to be releasing a DVD consisting entirely of six-man tag team matches featuring the Shield, you and I and everyone reading would be all over it. I could watch those guys wrestle all day and not find myself bored. So when you put them in the ring with one of my all-time favorite groups, this becomes a very simple question to answer. I fully expect this match to be a wild brawl that sees plenty of chaos and destruction and I'll be shocked if it isn't both the main event and the match of the night. We all know how good the Shield are in six-man matches, but let's not forget that they're in there with one of WWE's most reliable performers in Randy Orton, a true pro that always has his working boots on in Triple H and a capable big man in Batista who knows how to work this style of match. It's going to be a fantastic match and I hope it's the first of many between these two teams. I expect Daniel Bryan and Kane to have a great match as well, thanks to their combined talents and experience as well as Bryan's desire to steal the show and Kane's professionalism. I don't know if it'll top the six-man though. I doubt it can. I'd imagine Bray Wyatt and John Cena will once again tell a great story inside a Steel Cage, but I do wonder whether the stipulation will hinder them in terms of the action they're able to deliver. Typically Steel Cage matches aren't much to write home about anyway. So baring all that in mind, you have to assume that the Shield and Evolution are going to rock the house come Sunday and that's likely why it's the match the majority of fans are most looking forward to at Extreme Rules.
2. TNA made the right call by keeping the world title on Eric Young at the Sacrifice PPV.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - Having Young lose the belt back so quickly would have absolutely murdered any momentum he was gaining, and would have immediately made his title reign as fluky and forgettable as the one Chris Sabin had last year. With Young not only winning, but also winning clean, TNA now has a World Champion that has proven himself against their top heel twice now, and there's nothing wrong with that. Perhaps we can bicker on whether he should even have the belt in the first place, but to me that's irrelevant. He has it, and TNA made the right choice by sticking with him and not immediately neutering him out of the gate.
Daniel Wilcox:FACT - : This is a "Fact" but only because having Eric Young "do a Sabin" would just be yet another embarrassment for the company. Look, I don't like to jump on TNA for every crappy thing they do as if any wrestling company in the world is perfect, but I would not have put the strap on Young in the first place. But that ship has sailed so having Young keep the belt in a clean victory over Magnus was the best way to go in terms of the match at Sacrifice. They may as well go all the way with Eric Young as the TNA Heavyweight Champion and give him the fighting champion schtick and have him win as many matches as possible with no interference. Build the title up as something that has to be earned and whoever eventually dethrones Young will be all the better for it. Sure, in hindsight, that's something they could just as easily have done with Magnus but better late than never, right? The match at Sacrifice was an enjoyable encounter and a suitable way to end a wrestling pay-per-view so kudos to TNA for getting that right. If they can continue to book simple, compelling stories revolving around the title and its contenders then the company is on the right track in terms of in-ring product. Then they just need to duplicate that formula from top to bottom and role with it. Get a plan and stick to it. That's what they've done with Young so let's applaud them for that while it lasts.
3. You are excited for the WWE Extreme Rules PPV.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - I'm excited for the World Title match, Evolution against the Shield, and Cena against Bray Wyatt. I'm looking forward to Big E and Bad News Barrett, as well. The rest? It just seems kind of there. I haven't jumped aboard the Paige train yet, I'm not too interested in Rusev against Truth or Consequences, the WeeLC match makes me laugh in name only, and the triple threat makes me a little angry that this is the direction we're going with Cesaro for now. So, 3 out of 8 have me excited, with one extra match also grabbing my interest. As that goes for the whole pay per view, I'd say no, I'm not too excited. But if any card can look bad on paper and still deliver, it's gotta be Extreme Rules. Right? Right??
Daniel Wilcox:FACT - There are several factors in play here. First of all, I don't have to make a decision whether to pay for this show, because it's one of the few remaining pay-per-views that us UK residents get for free on Sky Sports. Remember, we don't yet have the WWE Network. So not having to fork out money certainly makes it easier to get excited for the show. Secondly, there are a number of matches here I'm very much anticipating. The first is the aforementioned match between the Shield and Evolution. Personally, I loved Evolution the first time around and have always been a fan of both Triple H and Randy Orton, as unpopular an opinion as that may be around here. To me, that group was just badass and ten years later remains one of WWE's greatest ever factions. So seeing them coming down that aisle to "Line in the Sand" ready to go to war with the Shield is something I have to see. The Shield, for the record, have been booked almost flawlessly for 18 months. When was the last time you could say that about any act in WWE, let alone a stable or tag team? Turning Reigns and co. face was clearly a great decision. Elsewhere, you have the rematch between Bray Wyatt and John Cena and although I'm not typically a fan of the Steel Cage match, I'm intrigued to see how they follow up WrestleMania XXX, which I thought was an astounding match from a story-telling point of view. How far can Bray Wyatt push John Cena? You know there's plenty of people expecting a heel turn – that's likely premature but we're more than likely going to see Cena going to a place he hasn't been in a long, long time. Outside of that, I expect Daniel Bryan and Kane to have a chaotic brawl, Cesaro will star in a fun triple threat match and Paige and Bad News Barrett will get their first major pay-per-view tests in front of what will surely be a hot New Jersey crowd. Admittedly I have no interest in the Rusev handicap match, but that's a small blip on an otherwise stellar card.
4. The Bray Wyatt segment with John Cena to open Raw was creepy in all the right ways.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - I felt the opening segment this week, along with last week's closing segment, both went on far too long. However, the more I think about it, the more I feel that was the design of adding to the whole creepy feel of it. Adding the kids to the Weirdo Show really helped drive home what Bray's supposed to be all about- charmingly manipulating those around him to hear his message. Once the kids all donned the sheep mask, I knew we were watching something super creepy. It was also nice to see Cena show something other than a half-cocked smile, or retorting with poopy or weiner or gay jokes. All of it added to the segment, and I enjoyed it all.
Daniel Wilcox:FACT - My answer of "Fact" actually goes completely against my instincts here as I'm seemingly in a minority of people that thought the segment wasn't that impressive. I'm a massive fan of both Bray Wyatt and John Cena, particularly the work they've done while feuding with one another for the past couple of months, but this segment fell flat, in my estimation. First of all, the crowd wasn't particularly responsive and that can make a huge difference to success of a promo. Admittedly, the crowd was awful all night but the point is still valid. Secondly, I think this was the point where using the song "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" became just a little bit too forced for my liking. They got a great response from it at WrestleMania XXX and they've been featuring it heavily ever since, to a response that all too often falls short of what they were likely hoping for. I believe that had they incorporated it in small doses, it would have been more likely to catch on the way they wanted it to. And my final criticism of the segment is the production, which, unusually for WWE, seemed way off. When the choir began singing the camera remained on John Cena for way too long, making it unclear where the singing was coming from to both the television and live audience. Presumably this was while the choir filed out to the ramp, but it still went on too long. Then we cut to a commercial before coming back and Bray Wyatt is already at ringside along with the choir surrounding the ring. I don't know if they went to commercial at the wrong time, because they actually replayed Wyatt walking to the ring and they went to second commercial after less than a minute. As such, I personally felt that what could well have been a home-run promo on the go-home show for the pay-per-view actually came across as a little forced, somewhat phoney and a bit too cartoonish for me.
However, you will have noticed that I responded to this question with "Fact," despite my protestations. While I personally wasn't a big fan of the segment, it seems clear that the vast majority thought it was damn creepy, judging by reactions on Facebook, Twitter, 411 and various other social media outlets. I haven't seen too many people sharing the same views as mine and as such I have to recognize that WWE seemed to have struck a chord with most viewers as far as that segment is concerned. Furthermore, the segment did serve to further the story they're trying to tell with Bray Wyatt slowly but surely taking away John Cena's supporters and Cena's reactions were quite appropriate given the nature of Bray's actions. I'm certainly looking forward to the next chapter in their story and will be watching Extreme Rules to see what goes down. In that sense, the segment has done its job.
5. Dusty Rhodes is an all time top five talker in the wrestling business.
Daniel Wilcox:FICTION - On the surface, this seems like a difficult question because I'm a big Dusty Rhodes fan and his greatest strength was always his ability to connect with an audience through spoken word. But when you look at the list of great talkers, there are just far too many other true greats to really consider Dusty one of the very best. There are certain competitors that can deliver and an amazing promo without necessarily possessing perfect skills of enunciation or pronunciation, and Dusty is one of those guys along with Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan, two more iconic figures who are well known for their ability to kick ass with a microphone. The likes of Stone Cold and The Rock are very catchphrase-heavy but both had an undeniable knack of keeping you entertained on the stick. CM Punk and Chris Jericho are two guys who deserve to be up there because they've proven they can deliver on the mic whether they are attempting to incite an audience or garner cheers. Jake Roberts and Brian Pillman had such captivating characters that you had to pay attention whenever they were about to talk, and that's a category that Bray Wyatt will eventually fit into if he doesn't already. Then you have the great managers and announcers who deserve a mention – it's hard to deny either Paul Heyman or Bobby Heenan don't deserve to be right up there at the very top of the list. And like everyone else, I have personal favorites that I enjoy listening to like Bubba Dudley and JBL. Roddy Piper is certainly around that top five as well despite more recent appearances. All in all, despite being a big fan, there's just too many names that are more deserving than Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes will always be known as an iconic talker, but there have been better. Sorry, Dusty.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - Growing up, I didn't really like Dusty too much. I didn't understand how a world of Ric Flairs, Nikita Koloffs, Stings and Lex Lugers could be ruled by a fat dude who sounded like cutting an interview gave him breathing trouble. Clearly, I've developed some better rationale in my old age, and along with that comes the realization that yes, Dusty is absolutely a top five talker. You have your Austins, Pipers, Rocks, Hogans, Flairs, Savages... point is, there've been a lot of great talkers just in my small lifespan alone, and I could see someone making a top 5 without adding Dusty. That, in my opinion, is a huge mistake. I can just say "Hard Times" and everyone knows exactly what I'm talking about. There aren't many wrestlers who can make you remember a promo by saying two words. Dusty was that good.
6. Adam Rose will end up like the Heart Throbs; a developmental act with a fun and popular entrance, but ultimately no shelf life on the main roster.
Daniel Wilcox:FICTION - That's certainly an interesting comparison but one that doesn't really hold up when you break down the arrival of the Heart Throbs and their progression in comparison with the introduction of Adam Rose. The Heart Throbs had a fun gimmick down in developmental that was tweaked when they were brought up to the main roster. They debuted on Raw with no fanfare, no vignettes, nothing. So to the average viewer they appeared to be of minimal importance from the get go, losing their debut match against William Regal and Tajiri and then spending most of their time wrestling Val Venis and Viscera on Heat. We weren't given a reason to care. They didn't get promo time, they were two-dimensional characters that didn't ever really manage to connect with the audience until it was far too late. I don't even recall anything being "fun" about their entrance; to me it was just head scratching. By contrast, Adam Rose is coming up with a gimmick that has proved popular down in NXT, an infinitely superior developmental system than OVW, and he's getting plenty of airtime pre-debut to let fans know what he's all about. Watching the guy on NXT, he's committed to the gimmick and that's vital, and he does enough of the little things (we used to call 'em hidden highlights) than you can see people investing in this character. Now, I don't think it's likely that the guy will go too far up the card with this sort of gimmick, but there's nothing wrong with being a good mid-card hand for a few years and that's probably how Rose will end up. Whether he can take it any further hinges on his own abilities as a performer outside of the gimmick. Personally I think there's already so main new faces up and down the card that it's difficult for anyone to gain traction right now (look at Fandango's first year), but if you're good enough, it will happen eventually. Tentatively, I would already consider myself a Rose Bud.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - My brain says one thing, my heart says another. And in the end, love always wins out. When my friends first sent me a clip of Adam Rose's entrance (I hadn't seen NXT at that point), I was immediately hooked. I've been told that at this point, he's not the greatest mat technician, which can only help support that he will end up like the Heart Throbs. I, however, have faith that he can bring enough character to the table to buy him time to develop his wrestling, all while giving Creative some ideas with what to do with him. He could easily be a weird backstage presence for months, or someone that just has his party crew come down the aisle in the middle of someone else's match, or... point is, there's plenty that can be done with him to make sure he's not a quick flameout. Keep the faith with Adam Rose.
7. WWE running two to three LIVE NXT specials a year is a great way to expose the NXT brand to their fanbase.
Daniel Wilcox:FACT - This is probably this easiest of this week's questions as it's difficult to argue that running occasional live specials isn't a good idea. The NXT Arrival event that ran in conjunction with the launch of the WWE Network was well-received by pretty much everybody and it was done at a time when a lot of eyes were on the WWE product and in particular with attention focused on the Network. A good time to run these shows is prior to the company's major pay-per-view events, so the week or so before Summerslam, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. Obviously it's also a great idea for the talent as well, as they are able to familiarize themselves with working on live television and get their characters across to a whole new section of the audience that may not typically watch NXT. WWE could and should be running commercials for these types of shows during their regular programming and running frequent features on the Network and WWE.com to establish the new breed of talent that is coming through. Having an established main roster talent or two featured and working the shows is another thing that the company does and continues to do. Pretty much any fan that has been keeping up with NXT knows that it's one of the best things going in professional wrestling right now and anything WWE can do to put more of a spotlight on that is a good thing. So far I think they've done a hell of a job highlighting their developmental system and the live specials is merely another example of that. Kudos to WWE and kudos to NXT for their continued success with the developmental program.
Dino Zucconi:FACT - Due to my "rural" address, the only internet I have is on my phone, which means having the Network at this point in time doesn't really work out. Thus, I haven't had the huge NXT exposure many others have had. I'm lucky enough to have friends with the Network, and thus I've been able to check out the ArRival special, and it was amazing. Giving the fans more opportunities to check out NXT can never be considered a bad thing. Prepping us fans for the guys that will be showing up on WWE TV helps the arrival go a lot more smoothly than, say, just throwing a bunch of new guys on TV at once and hoping for the best.
8. Cody Rhodes and Goldust are more valuable to WWE as a tag team than as singles competitors.
Daniel Wilcox:FACT - This is a difficult question to answer without putting things into context so I've established my own. In the long run, I feel that Cody Rhodes still has all the potential in the world to be a main event talent, whether that be in one year's time or five year's time. Goldust still has a lot to offer as a veteran talent who can work with the younger guys to help them develop not just in the ring, but in terms of their characters and the way that they develop in front of a live television audience. But right now, in the short term, neither guy is likely to make much of an impression as a singles competitor for a variety of reasons. Currently the WWE mid-card is full of guys who have been treading water for a number of years and may never move much further forward – guys like the Miz, Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler. There seems to be a renewed push for Wade Barrett, but let's hold judgment on that until we see how it plays out. You also have guys like Sheamus and Alberto del Rio who would typically be in the main events, but the fact that there's only one world title to chase means they too are treading water in the mid-card with new stars like Daniel Bryan, the Shield and Bray Wyatt making waves in the main event. Cesaro is seemingly on the way up while Big E's run as Intercontinental Champion has failed to take him to the next level. Super talented guys like Damien Sandow and Jack Swagger can't buy a win. So if Cody Rhodes was to enter that particular fray, how is he going to benefit? What exactly does he offer that any number of those guys don't already. We can look at Titus O'Neil as a guy with a tremendous upside who's just ended his run in a tag team to be come a semi-regular character on Raw who rarely wins a match and never has his own angle. Brodus Clay is another example who has suffered an even worse fate.
Meanwhile since the formation of Team Hell No two years ago, the tag team division has been more enjoyable and more of a feature of regular WWE programming thanks to the Shield, the Rhodes Brothers and the Usos, among others. With a number of teams either disbanding or not chasing tag gold right now, that division could do with a team like Cody and Goldust who will remain perpetually over and can work good matches with just about anybody else in the division. In the last few months, the division has lost the Prime Time Players, the Real Americans, the New Age Outlaws and Tons of Funk while neither the Shield nor the Wyatts seem likely to challenge for the straps any time soon, so I fail to see an argument for taking Cody and Goldust out of the division right now. Goldust can still offer his considerable years of expertise to young guys in the tag ranks. If necessary, there's nothing stopping turning both of them heel. WWE has made the right call in allowing the Shield to remain a unit for now and I hope and trust that the same good judgment will be shown when it comes to Cody and Goldust.
Dino Zucconi:FICTION - I went back and forth on this one, because I feel there is absolutely truth to them being valuable as singles. Cody still has years ahead of him and can be built to a midcard king / main event guy, and Goldust can be used to get good-great matches out of younger talent while putting them over. Both of these roles would be of high value to the company. However, I feel that as a team, the Rhodes Brothers are almost automatically the most credentialed team in the division. Beating Cody Rhodes and Goldust is a little more impressive than beating Los Matadores from where I sit. So, while it may not benefit Cody quite as much, a strong tag team in a division they're still trying to inject with credibility can only help out the most in the long run.
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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.