411 Fact or Fiction Wrestling: Lesnar Dominating Cena, Bully Possibly Leaving TNA, #FreeRey, More
Posted by Larry Csonka on 08.21.2014
Was Brock Lesnar's destruction of John Cena at SummerSlam booked perfectly? Is TNA losing Bully Ray at the worst time for the company? Is Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose the best feud in WWE? 411's Jack Bramma and Tony Acero 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 up is the one and only Jack Bramma! He battles Tony Acero!
Questions were sent out Monday.
Participants were told to expect wrestling-related questions, possible statements on quantum physics and hydroponics.
1. Summerslam was one of WWE's best PPVs of 2014.
Jack Bramma:FACT - Easily. It's easily at the top of the list with Wrestlemania XXX in terms of spectacle and Payback in terms of in-ring quality. Outside of the tag match, Battleground was the dud of the year and deserves no consideration. Royal Rumble had Batista winning and the theme of the night was the crowd hijacking for Daniel Bryan not being a factor. Elimination Chamber had two incredible matches – Wyatts/Shield and the Elimination Chamber, but had mostly nothing on the undercard and ended with the groaner of Orton still on top and inexplicable Wyatt inference yet again. Extreme Rules had a solid undercard and a terrific Shield/Evolution match but Cena/Wyatt in the cage was the worst high-profile match of the year. Money in the Bank delivered as expected – a great ladder match with Rollins winning, a good ladder match with a predictable outcome of Cena winning, and not much else. That leaves us with the three previously mentioned, Mania 30, PB, and SS. Payback, despite having a Shield/Evolution MOTYC, a great Bray/Cena match, Cesaro and Sheamus busting each other up for 15 minutes, and RVD putting over Barrett clean, has to slide into the background because it's just light on the long-term significance and seemed like a narrative hiccup between the more important stories of Mania and SS. I might change my mind later, but it can't be PPV of the year. Due to the recent high, I'd probably give the slight nod to Summerslam as PPV of the year – a fantastic Rusev/Swagger match, Miz and Dolph with a nice IC title change, Bray getting a needed victory and a better match from Jericho, Orton carrying Reigns to his most complete singles match yet (sorry Punk), Rollins and Ambrose almost stealing the show, and Brock repeat suplexing Cena like no one before. If you ask me tomorrow, I might say Mania (or Payback), but SS is still easily one of the best PPVs of the year.
Tony Acero:FACT - I think, due to the continuous expectations we have, that there are times when we shun the product without realizing that the ppvs presented are actually pretty good. If we have the entirety of 2014 to compare Summerlam to, then I can't say it wasn't one of the best. There was a lot of good shit going down in Los Angeles, and it made me a sourpuss to have missed it. The main event was everything we all wanted it to be and then some. The opener was hot, and Dolph won the title. Brie and Steph didn't disappoint – even after a harmful extra chapter. Even though Swagger seems to be going towards Bo-Lieving, his match with Rusev was way better than their previous. Reigns and Orton didn't put the crowd to sleep, and Ambrose and Rollins made a Lumberjack Match watchable. Truly, my only gripe was that the lovely and talented AJ Lee lost. In all reality, however, even they did some great work within the five-minute window that they had. Yes, Summerslam had all the right things going for it.
2. The Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena match at Summerslam was booked perfectly.
Jack Bramma:FACT - The only way I would have improved the build-up would have been 1. Giving more hype to the Lesnar/Cena prelude on the network and potentially trying to get USA to free up some primetime for it and 2. Having Brock create some carnage at Hogan's birthday party before Cena made the save and they pulled the plug. But as far as the match itself, it was booked perfectly. Cena came of the blocks firing on all cylinders, but was quickly overwhelmed with an F5 that he never recovered from. Brock made mincemeat out of him, but Cena got to look tough even in getting demolished. He didn't tap and didn't completely have his finishers rendered irrelevant – Brock only kicked out of one FU and countered one STF. Still though, if there's one guy in the history of history who can afford to eat shit and not have it damage him an iota, it's Cena. Brock needed no interference, cheating, short cuts, etc. He didn't even get the usual hard sell from Heyman through the whole match. Normally, Heyman is a force of nature talking up his guys during the whole match and working the refs and yelling at the opponent and cutting promos on everyone and everything, but seconds into the match after the F5, Heyman was gleeful but geared down as if he knew the onslaught spoke for itself and he didn't need to hype what was already obvious and legitimate. This is arguably the strongest a heel has looked since Vader in his prime. Let's just hope the story isn't ended so soon with Cena getting his win and the belt back at NOC.
Tony Acero:FACT - I think a lot will claim that this was booked perfectly due to the excessive hate of Cena, but I think it goes further than that, especially considering the hopeful plans they have for the near future. Brock is a beast, and he had every right to tear Cena from limb to limb – the match was even built up as such. I also love the fact that a lot of people expected Brock to win, but not in this way. This isn't to say that a bunch of people didn't HOPE that Brock would do exactly what he did, but it seemed like such a far stretch that only those in the IWC would want to see and/or come up with. I see no reason why Brock winning in such a fashion was anything BUT a good idea, especially considering it's such an alteration to what we've been conditioned to seeing in the past….well, a long ass time. What's better is the hope that someone else will be built up to take the title from Brock and become something larger than what they were. My only fear is that this someone could still be Cena…
3. TNA absolutely made the right call to move to Wednesday nights.
Jack Bramma:FACT - There are various potential positives: it helps them avoid competition from NFL and college football games; it could open them up to a new audience; etc. But the main reason this is a fact is because it was necessary. All signs pointed to TNA being done on Spike TV and for all I/we know, they still may, but for the time being, this keeps them on TV. TNA has lost almost all of their bargaining chips and Spike holds all the cards, so if it's Wednesday Spike wants, it's Wednesday Spike gets.
Tony Acero:FACT - Yes, but will it matter? This has little to do with comparing them to the WWE, since I try my hardest not to do such a thing. From all accounts, TNA is progressively trying to change their product for the better, but in recent times, it seems like every step forward is followed by two steps back, and it's typically their own doing. It's a damned shame, too, because they appear to have something to offer to the wrestling world. A positive of the Wednesday night slot is that I may be able to actively catch the show.
4. At this time, Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose is the best feud in the WWE.
Jack Bramma:FICTION - For one simple reason, it happens to be on the show at the same time as Brock-Cena. Rollins and Ambrose has the most long-term potential for the company. It'll elevate both guys, they have been putting on and will continue to put on dynamite matches, and more importantly, it's fresh. Ambrose could be the next Pillman/Austin/Piper/Punk and Rollins has all the goods and the briefcase to leave his mark as well. And yet, Brock/Cena. Not only did Cena lay down like a CHAMP in a way that Hogan (not even for Goldberg or Yoko or Warrior) or Austin (not for Rock or Undertaker or Triple H) never did. Cena had the briefest of hope spots that were basically mirages in the desert of Lesnar's beast mode and he never had a chance. It was/is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. I haven't even gotten to Heyman's GOAT-level mic work this year. He may not have had the best track record with RybAxel or Cesaro, but that's more to do with booking than with Heyman's promos or managerial services. And I still haven't gotten around to Cena cutting the promo of his life and likely of the year on July 28th in FINALLY distilling the perfect essence of his faceness and… well Cena-ness without coming off like a man-child or a cartoon character. This feud has the potential to define the company for the next 5 years in a way that Rollins/Ambrose can't begin to approach yet. Rollins/Ambrose is phenomenal but let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
Tony Acero:FACT - A lot of truth this week, ey? This feud is above the rest for sure. Since before Battleground, we had a bevy of storylines start up that all had some intrigue. Jericho/Wyatt, Brie/Steph, Ambrose/Rollins, Paige/AJ and each one of those – save one – had some minor issue that resulted in them being just…there. Not to say that they were bad, but the Jericho/Wyatt angle was just missing something, the Brie/Steph angle had to add the stench of Lynch proportions, the Paige/AJ angle took some time to truly figure out what it was. So for my money, the Ambrose/Rollins storyline has been both the most effective and most simple storyline that we've seen in some time, and if done right (as it currently is), then we're in for a long-standing feud that we will hopefully be looking back on in DVD documentaries in the future.
5. Rey Mysterio appearing via video package at TripleMania will lead to some sort of legal battle between WWE and AAA.
Tony Acero:FACT - I don't think it will go anywhere, but if there's one thing we know about the WWE, it's that the lawyers behind them are vicious and the WWE is very protective about their trademarks. Maybe they're still bitter about the pandas, but for whatever reason, they like to keep their property just that. I claim they won't get anywhere because I'm sure Mysterio has a few more rights than usual considering who he was before. Still, there's going to be a lot of issues between these two in the future, and I have a feeling this is just the beginning.
Jack Bramma:FICTION - There are various reasons this could be fact. AAA and the Fed may have some legal battles to come over El Patron and Mysterio's appearance could just be fuel to that already simmering fire. Also, there's the issue that McMahon seems to feel owed by Mysterio because rather than just straight up letting him go at the end of his contract, they tacked on a year for dates lost due to injury. But it seems so beside the point that anyone would care about Mysterio appearing in a video package when the Fed has gotten almost every dollar their every going to get out of him, barring some more mask sales. Instead, I see WWE taking a small high road and just letting this go by the wayside.
6. TNA reportedly losing Bully Ray is coming at possibly the worst time for the company.
Tony Acero:FACT - Talk about a big blow. Bully Ray has, in many ways, become TNA. Just like his days in ECW, he has taken a very integral role and helped do his best to make the product better. He is also one of those rare cases who seemed to have a hell of a resurgence in terms of health and look as he got older. Of course, my selfish ways are hoping that he and D-Von will make a return to a particular more grand stage in the near future, even if it's just a farewell tour of sorts. But if I am to stick to the question, then I can't see how this isn't a big blow to the TNA roster and business. Like I said, for every forward step, there seems to be a couple to take them back, and this certainly feels that way.
Jack Bramma:FACT - TNA has had various hot and cold periods when it comes to booking over the last decade+. But they have never been as down as they are right now when it comes to fan goodwill. Sting couldn't have been helped and Angle seems to want out as well. But losing AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Kazarian, Chris Sabin, Hernandez, and now Bully Ray is just the shits. What's next? Storm and Roode are out the door and TNA signs Charlie Haas and tries to get him to give Shelton a call if he'll work for peanuts? Just like WWE losing Punk, ADR, and probably Mysterio soon, you don't have to hold on to all of your marquee talent to be successful or even sustainable, but it hurts when a fan would be hard pressed to name their bedrock and franchise anymore.
7. You want to see Kurt Angle return to the ring, even if it is a limited return, to WWE.
Tony Acero:FACT - Hellz Yes. No, seriously, HELLZ YES! I miss Kurt Angle in a WWE ring, and it's a damn shame the way he went out. If we could see him finish in the WWE and put on some clinics with some of our WWE –faves, then I am all for it. Please let this happen before it's too late.
Jack Bramma:FACT - Fact on multiple fronts.
1. I want to see Angle return to the WWE. He given his body and parts of his sanity to TNA for almost a decade now. It's time for him to come home. He needs to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, given the extravagant blu-ray and WWE Network Special treatment, and just treated like the prodigal son returning. It would do Angle a world of good to be back in the corporate structure of Stamford, instead of the likely sinking ship TNA. WWE has mended almost all fences and buried almost all hatchets in the last few years – Warrior, Bruno, Jake, Scott Hall, Hogan (again), Flair (again), Brock, Rock, even Sting.
2. WWE would rightly keep Angle on a short leash. After the PED issues, concussions, pre-mature deaths, and out of the ring tragedies, Vince, Trips, and co. know better than to let Angle go full-bore. If Angle were under contract to the Fed instead of TNA, he would have to play by their rules, which likely means a VERY limited schedule and an airtight no-compete clause. I know earlier in FoF I was arguing for the unlikeliness that WWE wants blood from AAA over Mysterio's videoconference cameo, but Angle would be a much different story. He would be a relatively big get amongst a certain segment of the fan-base and Angle, if he violated it, wouldn't be doing satellite appearances; he'd be trying to wrestle and there's no way that Vince lets that happen. Put another way, the WWE wouldn't let Angle endanger his own health the way another company might which is why they let him go in the first place. I'd like to see Angle come back for a couple of matches and then fade into an ambassador role pimping the network rather than battling EC3 and Zema for the X Division belt for 6 months.