411 Fact or Fiction 02.07.13: Bruno, Undertaker, Henry, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and we’re fresh off of Supe-oh, whoops, this column isn’t about the Super Bowl. We talk wrestling here, and there’s plenty of it to talk about. TNA hyped a big announcement, and unlike most of their “big announcements” in the past, the revelation that Impact will be going on the road has people excited. They’re also bringing Reaction back via the YouTube machine. WWE had a big announcement of their own on Monday, and it was something that many thought would never happen…Bruno Sammartino in the Hall of Fame and appearing on various WWE productions. Rumors are going around about whether or not Undertaker will have a match at WrestleMania. The Prime Time Players might be split up. Mark Henry re-opened the Hall of Pain on Monday night.
Since a team from the AFC North won the Super Bowl, I thought it would be fun to bring in some fans of other AFC North teams. Introducing first, the Master of the Shimmy and a die-hard Steelers fan…Andy Clark!
His opponent is the MMA Fact or Fiction host and by my count I’m undefeated against him in that column. One of the few of us Bengals fans that will actually admit it…here’s Wyatt Beougher!
1. Bruno Sammartino’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame cements the 2013 class as the best in the HOF’s history.
Andy Clark: FACT. This was a lot tougher than I expected. My gut reaction to the first four Hall of Fame names announced is that this is a killer class. Bruno Sammartino is one of the all time greats, but I was worried about how he would be promoted and/or received. Would be be recognized as a major name like Hogan or Austin or would he be shown as a notable, but largely unrelatable, old timer like say Gorgeous George (no offense intended to George). Monday’s Raw answered that question for me as WWE made sure to send the message that Bruno was possibly the greatest ever and the WWE fans in Atlanta (a city not especially known as Bruno-centric) gave him quite the response. Mick Foley very well could have carried the the “main event” of the Hall of Fame this year (Ted DiBiase and Jesse Ventura did it) so you have two featured guys. Bob Backlund was probably the No. 2 star of the pre-Hogan era and unlike many of those from that time period he is recognized by more recent fans as well. Trish Stratus very well be the most popular Diva in WWE history, and I’d expect a strong Canadian contingent at WrestleMania to cheer her induction.
The competition from 2004 (where they have an advantage in quantity, with 11 inductees) and 2005 (Hogan and Piper as co-headliners) is stiff, but I think when all is said and done 2013 will be recognized as the best Hall of Fame class WWE has put out.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. Mick Foley, Bob Backlund, Trish Stratus, and now Bruno? Out of everyone that’s left in wrestling to be inducted, the only way you could possibly top this class would be to start with Macho Man and Owen and go from there, and even then, it wouldn’t be easy. (Plus Mach could still go in this year and make it even stronger.) You’ve got the Hardcore Legend, one of my personal favorite superstars, the greatest diva of all time, and arguably the greatest pro wrestler of all time? And we’re still almost two months away from Wrestlemania? Yup, sounds like the makings of the best HoF class of all time.
Score: 1 for 1
2. The Undertaker will have a match at WrestleMania.
Andy Clark: FICTION. I’m not even sure I entirely believe this one, because in my heart I feel like he could gut it out, but at this point I’m not sure it’s worth it. There really isn’t that mega-match that’s worth it, with both Lesnar and Cena already occupied. While the rumored match against CM Punk could be OK, that really serves as more of giving Punk a notable WrestleMania match than giving one to Taker. No offense to CM Punk who has done a tremendous job with increasing his overall value to the company over the past year, but a match against him would not entice me back to the ring if I were the Undertaker, especially considering their last feud wasn’t much to write home about. If Taker is done than last year’s End of an Era showcase was a damn good way to go out and it would be shame for him to come back trying to squeeze another year out of the Streak and end up leaving on a sour note. If he still has one match left in him I’d hold it off until next year for WrestleMania XXX and take great care to select the perfect opponent for him. He could make an appearance at this year’s WrestleMania, perhaps even foreshadowing his opponent for next year, setting up the kind of yearlong promotion that did big box office with Rock vs. Cena. With Brock Lesnar and The Rock proving to be big draws for WWE on PPV, along with the impending return of Triple H to the ring, WWE won’t be losing money by keeping Taker at home, something I’m not sure you’d have been able to say in the past. Ultimately the reward isn’t worth the risk, particularly when you have the perfect ending, whether it be next year’s Mania or last.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. From all indications, ‘Taker is as healthy as he gets these days, and Wrestlemania just wouldn’t be Wrestlemania without an Undertaker streak match. Of course, rather than putting over a superstar like CM Punk or Daniel Bryan, who could greatly benefit from being the man to end the streak and the resultant increase in popularity and prestige that go with it, when ‘Taker’s streak finally does end, it’ll be to a plucky upstart like John Cena or Triple H who desperately need the rub. But that’s neither here nor there, the question was about the Undertaker having a match at WrestleMania, and I do believe that he will. The most recent rumors that I’ve heard are that ‘Taker will be squaring off with Punk at “the Granddaddy of Them All”, and while I think it’ll end up being a waste of Punk’s abilities at the biggest show of the year, it should at least be a fun match. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Undertaker at Elimination Chamber, although I can’t think of any logical reason as to why he’d cost Punk his rematch against the Rock. Then again, these are WWE writers we’re talking about, so logic goes right out the window.
Score: 1 for 2
3. WrestleMania Sunday will be more fun than Super Bowl Sunday.
Andy Clark: FACT. Label me a mark, that’s fine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive football fan (my answer might be skewed slightly had the Steelers made the Super Bowl this year). But for me, WrestleMania Sunday is a little slice of geek heaven. It’s one day, one weekend really, where wrestling fans get to be welcomed into the cultural zeitgeist, where being lablled a wrestling fan isn’t quite as taboo. I don’t care what the show is, or how unenthused I may be about certain matches, it’s WRESTLEMANIA. I love the spectactle, I love the hype, and the fact that it is being delivered to select few (unlike the Super Bowl, which while most appealing to football fans is consumed by all) makes it even more special. A bad WrestleMania is still better than most average regular shows. Come on, who doesn’t mark out for that first glimpse of the WrestleMania set? Who doesn’t get a little excited when they run the WWE tag as the PPV starts to roll? Who doesn’t get a smile on their face while some celebrity sings America the Beautiful while you have your favorite TV watching snack or beverage beside you? Perhaps I’ve been spoiled because I have been fortunate enough to attend WrestleMania on a number of occassions, but for all the bluster and promotion the Super Bowl brings, to a wrestling fan there is just something (here comes the cheese factor) magical about the “Showcase of the Immortals.” There is a quote about professional wrestling from an old school wrestler who I can’t remember at the moment (Harley Race perhaps?) that talks about wrestling in general. “To those that don’t get it no explanation will do, and to those that do get it no explanation is necessary.” I feel the same way about WrestleMania.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. Although I’m not into professional wrestling as much as I used to be, I still think of this WrestleMania weekend is going to be an excellent one. It also doesn’t hurt that the Super Bowl this year fell on a travel weekend for me for work so I ended up driving back during the game and listening to it on the radio. For Wrestlemania, on the other hand, I will be at home, with no work on Monday, so I will get to enjoy myself fully with friends and a small get together. At this point in my life, I don’t hang on the matches themselves like I used to when I was younger, but I still enjoy getting together with friends and having a blast for 4 or 5 hours.
Score: 2 for 3
4. Mark Henry deserves another run on top of one of WWE’s brands.
Andy Clark: FACT. You know, I would have questioned this before Monday night. I figured he’d had his time to shine but like so many other people that got their turn as a headliner in the land of opportunity (aka SmackDown) it was time for him to shuffle back down the card. But after watching the big man kick ass and split wigs once again I was reminded of just how much of a badass big Mizark was before he was injured. Who’d have thunk it five years ago? At this point I see no reason why he shouldn’t get another run, maybe even as an ass kicking babyface (Imagine Dolph Ziggler selling for this guy). So long as he can stay healthy and keep his speed and intensity strong I don’t see a reason why “The World’s Strongest Man” can’t find himself back at the top of the card. At this stage Mark Henry is to WWE what the Hulk is to the Avengers, and that is not a bad thing.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. Full disclosure time: I am a huge fan of Mark Henry. Since becoming the ECW champion a few years back, Henry has been on a run like few other superstars can claim. His in-ring work has been well above what you would expect from him (based on his first near-decade in the company), and while he’ll never be the Rock on the microphone, his promos have still been entertaining and to the point. In short, Henry has crafted a character that is perfectly suited to his strengths, and that has been tremendously entertaining to me. I would love to see Mark Henry/ADR leading up to Wrestlemania (or afterwards, if the WWE is committed to the Big Show/ADR program). del Rio has been exceptional as a face working against a larger heel opponent and while I like Big Show as the angry unstoppable monster, I think a program with Mark Henry would be even better. Either that, or put him against Cena as I think those two could have some great gimmick championship matches.
Score: 3 for 4
5. The Prime Time Players should split up.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. While they’ve floundered of late (as has the entire tag team division), the PTP are still capable of drawing MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. Let’s be objective here for a minute, shall we? Yeah, PTP haven’t done anything impressive lately, but their plight still isn’t nearly as bad as that of the men who should be tag team champions right now, Rhodes Scholar. Not only did Rhodes and Sandow lose every match with Kane and Danielson leading up to their Royal Rumble title match (which they also lost, even though that would’ve been the prime opportunity to give them a clean win and start the Team Hell No break up), but they’ve lost every match since the Rumble, usually in less than 5 minutes and without looking anything more than jobbers. Compared to that, PTP’s past month or so has been downright successful. The pieces are there for a fully-fleshed out and thriving tag team division and Trips supposedly wants to push tag team wrestling, but it’s like they’ve buried it for so long that they no longer have any idea of how to do it properly. Give Double A complete control of the division, keep the titles off of random, thrown-together, main eventer tag teams in favor of established teams, and suddenly you’ve got a division where the Primetime Players can be a cornerstone.
TL,DR: Keep them together, it’s not like they’re going to set the world on fire as singles competitors anyway.
Andy Clark: FICTION. I say fiction. You say fiction. Anybody with a brain would say fiction except WWE. Now look, maybe WWE has a really good plan for Titus O’Neil and Darren Young post break-up. You know, just like they did for Cryme Tyme and the Hart Dynasty and the Basham Brothers and Cade & Murdoch and Jesse & Festus and Deuce & Domino…you get the point. Typically when WWE breaks up a tag team for no apparent reason one of two things will happen. 1) One member will do fairly well for themselves while the other will flounder and/or disappear. 2) Both members will flounder and/or disappear. I’d imagine that at best the Prime Time Players would go the way of the Major Brothers: Titus O’Neil perhaps gets a bit of a following and a short push before WWE ultimately tires of him (there are only so many wash rags “Big Deal” can talk about) while Darren Young does, well, whatever Curt Hawkins is doing these days. The Prime Time Players have a good act and work pretty decently with the tag teams WWE has on the roster. Splitting them up would be a foolish, short sighted decision that will almost surely hurt everyone involved.
Score: 4 for 5
6. TNA taking Impact on the road will make the show better.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. The short form answer here – the Impact Zone crowd sucks. A bunch of mutants trying to be smarter than they are and dragging down the product as a whole. There’s a reason Impact always seems better when they’re on the road, and a big part of that is that TNA doesn’t have to deal with a stagnant crowd who worry more about getting themselves over than actually making the wrestling feel important. Is this going to be the huge change that Impact needs to suddenly break through and score significantly higher ratings? Absolutely not. That’s going to take a removal of Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff from any real authority, and the installation of someone with a good mind for the business, a flair for the old school, and a grasp of what works in today’s business. Since they’ll never get Paul Heyman, I’d recommend Scott Levy. But since that’s not happening any time soon, at the very least, freshening up the crowd is a step in the right direction. I’m anxious to see how different characters and segments do with other parts of the country and if that forces TNA to re-evaluate their booking as a result.
Andy Clark: FACT. Why not? The Impact Zone has served its purpose as a home base for TNA, and it was even a pretty hot venue once upon a time. But just like TNA took the next step by moving out of Nashville many moons ago it’s time to take that next step and leave Universal Studios behind. The fans in the Impact Zone are burned out, unphased by anything that happens on that show. Even if you had people in other cities actively booing the show that is a much better reaction than apathy. And it’s not just the crowd; the look of the Impact Zone seems stale, we’ve seen it all before. Going on the road puts the product in different venues in front of new, fresh faced audiences, excited to see a televised TNA show in person. TNA always does house shows well but attendance is sparse. Why? Because nothing of consequence happens on those shows, because your Hulk Hogans and Stings don’t travel on those shows. Now, while the TNA audience may not get the same awesome matches they’d otherwise see at a house show they will get a better overall experience. I believe that excitement will carry over onto TV and make the viewing audience at home much more invested in the program.
Score: 5 for 6
7. You will watch TNA Reaction when it comes back in February on YouTube.
Wyatt Beougher: FICTION. This isn’t a knock on TNA; I just don’t watch any internet-exclusive wrestling content unless it features performers I thoroughly enjoy and has been recommended by a writer or fan whose opinion I value. So I’ll probably catch the odd show with Daniles or Aries, but it won’t be a must-see program for me.
Andy Clark: FICTION. Nothing against the show because I liked it when it was TV, but I certainly didn’t like it enough to want to watch it on my computer later on. Unlike most people of the more recent generations I’m not a big fan of watching content through the computer. While I know there are other mobile devices out there and televisions that will stream Youtube for you, the question is about whether or not I will watch it, and since I don’t utilize those tools the answer is no. I hope some people do watch because it’s a solid show, but TNA is lucky if they get me to watch Impact, I won’t be searching out extra content to watch.
Score: 6 for 7
8. You’re interested in the NJPW New Beginning iPPV taking place this weekend.
Wyatt Beougher: FACT. Originally, this was a fiction, because I knew nothing about it, but thanks to the old Google machine, I’m now on board. This show features a nice mix of veterans and young talent, both local and international. If that wasn’t enough, DH Smith is on the card, along with my favorite pro wrestler, Alex Shelley, and SAKU! Really, just having Sakuraba on the card would be enough to get me interested, everything else is just icing on the cake.
Andy Clark: FICTION. Just like the previous question, while I have nothing against New Japan and have even heard some very good things about the promotion, I won’t be sitting down to watch an iPPV from them late at night. Looking over the card and it’s pretty decent with a strong ten man tag team match, two intriguing tag team title matches, a great looking IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match, and a match between Okada and Minoru Suzuki which sounds promising. Hiroshi Tanahashi defending the IWGP Title against Karl Anderson doesn’t do much for me as a main event, especially when Tanahashi is scheduled to defend the title against Prince Devitt shortly thereafter on a show that won’t be broadcast. For fans of Japanese wrestling I think it’s cool that they are running their shows on iPPV, and I may even one day buy a show from them, but I will not be purchasing this particular show.
Final Score: 6 for 8
Andy & Wyatt sure do agree a lot considering they’re fans of rival sports teams. Perhaps we’re not all so different after all! I thank them for participating & invite you to express your thoughts & opinions on these topics in the comment section. Thanks for reading, and we’ll be back next week with more Fact or Fiction!