411 Fact or Fiction 01.31.13: Cena, Rock, Jericho, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and the wrestling world has been rumbling this week! John Cena won the Royal Rumble & The Rock won the WWE title. Shocking, right? Chris Jericho returning to compete in the Rumble match was actually quite the stunner. Alberto Del Rio retained the World title against the Big Show, but it doesn’t look like Show’s ready to go quietly into the night. Bo Dallas’s debut has not been well received by Wade Barrett. Though they were rumored to be appearing in the Rumble match, neither Shelton Benjamin or Carlito made an appearance. Hulk Hogan tweeted a picture of his daughter’s legs, and TNA went to the United Kingdom without their champion.
I’ve invited two of Canada’s finest to discuss these topics. Introducing first, the man who has to hold the record for most wrestling news columns posted on 411mania.com by this point, Stephen Randle!
His opponent is one of the members of the 411 Old School Twitter Posse. Yes, we have a posse. Give it up for Chris Lansdell!
1. John Cena was the right choice to win the Royal Rumble.
Stephen Randle: FICTION. You know what? He was the obvious choice. That doesn’t mean he was the right choice. There are a dozen or so ways that Cena could have not won the Royal Rumble and still faced off with The Rock at WrestleMania (my personal favourite involves Rock bringing up that Cena couldn’t hold onto the WWE title to bring it into their first match, and have it drive Cena to extreme lengths to try and get a rematch, but that almost mirrors the plot to HBK-Taker II too much), and in the meantime you could have used the Rumble winner to build up the World title match instead. So, who was the right choice? Well, they spent all that time over the fall building him up as an unstoppable monster worthy of World title shots, so how about that Ryback guy? Have him win the title at WrestleMania and run with it for a bit, with less pressure because it’s the clear secondary World title and he doesn’t have to carry the whole brand. If he doesn’t work out, at least you know what you have. Another option would have been Randy Orton, who has plenty of motivation for turning heel at this point, since he’s been treading water as a face and you could easily see him getting incredibly frustrated and going back to the dark side, especially when you’ve got a face World champion with a lackey just ripe for getting sympathy heat when Orton beats the crap out of him.
Chris Lansdell: FACT. Look, the only other viable choice to win the Rumble was Ziggler. That would have been great for the IWC and all but Ziggler-Rock is not a money match. Even if you have Punk beat Rock (again making the IWC happy), who do you have win the Rumble? Really there’s only Cena. Orton-Punk isn’t worthy of Mania and I doubt they want to give Randy the ball so soon after ANOTHER drug suspension. Don’t get me wrong, the idea of Ziggler having the briefcase and the Rumble shot sounds great, and you could play up the tension of uniting the belts or having two chances to beat Del Rio, but again…not really a money matchup. Ziggler-Cena is the only money match there, and unless you somehow have Cena win a belt before the Rumble (or have Ziggler cash in on Del Rio and then Cena goes after that…not likely) you’d be stuck with no good matchups for the title.
Score: 0 for 1
2. CM Punk losing to The Rock at the Royal Rumble was the right decision.
Stephen Randle: FACT. It hurts, but it really was. Even if you discount the fact that we knew Rock-Cena II was the most likely outcome of Rock’s return, looking at the third man in the equation, the time was right for Punk to lose the title. He’d gotten as high up the “longest reign” charts as he conceivably could, and he’d beaten anyone of importance defending that title. Losing the title to The Rock (although I can quibble about the match ending) doesn’t hurt Punk, because it’s The Rock. This also allows the Punk character to evolve, because his persona has centred around being the WWE Champion for so long that it will be interesting to see his character change now that he isn’t, especially since he underwent a heel turn while still champion. Also, coupled with the revelations from Monday that he was (of course) involved in at least some of The Shield’s actions allows him to stop hiding that fact, and maybe end up heading a stable that will help Punk get back to the WWE Title after WrestleMania.
Chris Lansdell: FACT. What did he have left to prove as champion? He held the belt for 400-plus days, beat everyone put in front of him and was at the head of the company. He did what the IWC had been clamouring for him to do forever. But no, it wasn’t enough. He had to keep going to please them. He was never going to beat the next in line for title runs (Hogan, I believe) and if he beats Rock, then what? Who’s left? Meanwhile if Rock comes back and loses to Punk, what does he do at Mania? Fight Cena after both of them lost huge matches at the Rumble? That seems anticlimactic for both of them.
Score: 1 for 2
3. This Chris Jericho stint will be better received than his last one was.
Stephen Randle: FACT. Mostly because we’re going into this with absolutely no expectations. The last return had all that buildup that they never really paid off, and also people probably had higher hopes after all the incredible work Jericho had done in his stint before that, where he and Shawn Michaels tore the house down for months, followed by the excellent Jeri-Show team, among other highlights. Instead, we got a feud with Punk that never really reached the heights we expected, followed by Jericho mostly sleepwalking through the rest of the year until a quick feud with Ziggler on his way out. This time, we literally had no idea Jericho was coming back until it happened on Sunday, so whatever we get in the short time he’ll be around will be seen as “at least he’s back for a bit”. The fact that it looks like he’ll currently be working with current IWC favourite Ziggler again doesn’t hurt the perspective, either.
Chris Lansdell: FICTION, though I hope to be wrong. It all depends what he does in this run, how long he is there for and who he puts over. He didn’t set any worlds on fire last time, and his return was overhyped. They had something going with his refusal to speak and his proclamation about the world as we know it changing or whatever, but it just fell flat. Let him work with some people, maybe feud with The Shield and put them over, and it might be OK. I just think it will be more like last time, where he talks up a big game then does very little.
Score: 1 for 3
4. Alberto Del Rio is better as a face than he was as a heel.
Stephen Randle: FACT. People who have followed Del Rio’s pre-WWE career more intently than I ever did have told me that Alberto, as Dos Caras, was actually a spectacular face character, so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise. I don’t know how they managed to turn an arrogant foreign millionaire character into a white-hot, gutsy, charismatic babyface, but Del Rio is out there making it work in a way I would have never thought possible. A lot of it has to do with charisma, because he seems like such a natural nice guy in his promos, especially now that they let him pal around with Ricardo. Also, working in the ring as a face has allowed him to incorporate a more flashy move-set, and it’s really grabbing my attention. It’s a pleasant surprise, but I’m loving face Alberto, and I look forward to him erasing memories of the guy who wrestled boring matches while talking endlessly about “destiny” for most of 2012.
Chris Lansdell: FICTION. I like him as a face, and he has taken to the role well, but his character doesn’t really work as a face any more than the Million Dollar Man’s character did. He needs to quickly carve out a character that isn’t just “I care about Ricardo Rodriguez” or his appeal will fizzle fast.
Score: 1 for 4
5. Bo Dallas will be a top performer for WWE in the future.
Chris Lansdell: FACT. He’s like an eighteenth generation star, he has a good look, all reports say he has the right attitude, his father works for the company and he has talent. I haven’t heard him speak (and I watch NXT fairly often), but that would be the only barrier to his success as I see it. Bringing him in as they have is a good start, though I would have had him lose to Barrett via nefarious tactics on Raw.
Stephen Randle: FICTION. I think he’s going to get his fair shot, and clearly he’s being set up to succeed by immediately getting involved with Wade Barrett. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see much in Dallas. Sure, he’s a young, hungry guy, but his look is unmemorable and very little about him stands out. I imagine he’ll stick around for a while, but I don’t see him being much more than midcard fodder. I have much higher hopes, however, for his brother, Bray Wyatt.
Score: 1 for 5
6. You’re disappointed Shelton Benjamin & Carlito weren’t in the Royal Rumble.
Chris Lansdell: FACT. I love surprises in the Rumble. Love them. I am a bigger fan of Carlito than almost anyone (especially my old co-Raw reviewer Ryan Byers) but having him show up would legit have popped the crowd I think. Shelton and Kofi could have had a couple of minutes in the ring together alone to do some impressive acrobatics and stuff, which is always fun. I don’t know when we’ll see them on-screen but I look forward to it.
Stephen Randle: FICTION. On the list of guys I’d want to see return, they were pretty far down. Both guys got their time in WWE, and frankly, they hit their peak at the midcard level. They would have added nothing special to the Rumble match, and I really don’t care if they come back under WWE contract either, because there’s other wrestlers, both on and off the roster, who I’d rather watch. Also, we got CHRIS JERICHO instead. What wrestling fan on Earth would say “Yeah, Jericho came back, but I would have rather seen Carlito”? Crazy ones, that’s who.
Score: 1 for 6
7. Hulk Hogan’s tweet about his daughter’s legs was over the line.
Chris Lansdell: FACT. Everything that man does is over the line these days, and his daughter’s fame seems to be his number one goal. It’s pretty creepy and frankly rather worrying. Not as worrying as the whole suntan lotion thing, but still…ew. A fun game for all the family, eh Hulkster?
Stephen Randle: FICTION. Meh, it was a little weird, but then, nobody ever claimed that entire family was the picture of mental health. In some weird way, I’m sure Hulk thought he was helping boost Brooke’s publicity by doing it. You can fault Hogan for a lot of things, but you can’t say he hasn’t tried very hard to make sure his kids have a shot at being big deals. I mean, he often goes too far and his ideas aren’t well-thought out and usually end up as a huge mess, but there’s still a strange logic to it when you step back and take a look.
Score: 1 for 7
8. Jeff Hardy should have lost the TNA title since he wasn’t able to appear on TNA’s tour of the United Kingdom.
Chris Lansdell: FICTION. So much fiction. People skip tours all the time, why should that mean they lose the title? Sheesh. Jeff seems to be more interested in staying clean right now, he is a recognisable name at the top of the company and can still put on good matches. Missing a trip to the UK (presumably due to his record, I must confess to being out of the loop on this story) seems a minor reason to have him drop the strap.
Stephen Randle: FACT. I don’t care how much merchandise he moves, you can’t go on an international tour, including a month’s worth of TV tapings, without your World Champion. Especially since he’s not injured, and they knew (reportedly for a very long time before the tour) that he wouldn’t be able to appear. Even more especially, even though they knew, they still advertised that Hardy would be on the UK tour until the last possible moment. That’s a dick move, even by wrestling standards. “Card subject to change” is not a free pass to lie to ticket buyers, and it’s a bad PR decision that TNA can ill afford.
Final Score: 1 for 8
Our Canuckian friends disagree on almost everything! I love it. Thanks so much to Stephen & Chris for participating, and I invite you all to chime in with your thoughts on these divisive topics in the comment section! Thanks for reading, and we’ll be back next week with more Fact or Fiction!