411 Fact or Fiction 06.13.13: Payback, Punk, More
Hi, hello & welcome to 411 Fact or Fiction! I’m Steve Cook, and it’s been a crazy week in the world of professional wrestling. So crazy that I got three people to chime in on the topics this week! That’s right, it’s a 3-way dance and there’s no women involved. Of course. WWE has a PPV this weekend. It’s in Chicago, and CM Punk is coming back for it. Zeb Colter’s charge Jack Swagger is out of commission, but he was ringside on Raw this week anyway. Colt Cabana told his Reddit peeps that the Briscoes are a license to print money and should be in WWE. Commenters & message board posters told me that Kurt Angle vs. Rampage Jackson is TNA’s Austin/Tyson moment. Jesse Ventura said he’ll be running for president in 2016…can he be any worse than the last two guys?
(See, now that I throw both Bush & Obama under the bus I can avoid the complaining from one side of the political aisle. Both sides complain now. It’s fantastic.)
So, three people this week. Introducing first, the man that retired from wrestling news reporting a couple of weeks ago. I can identify with this. Here’s Sean Kelly!
Introducing second, the man that Tony Acero is afraid to go up against…Mike Uphoff!
And their opponent is too controversial for the indy wrestling scene. If you watch enough indy shows you know that’s saying something. Give it up for Matt Steel!
1. You’re excited about WWE Payback.
Sean Kelly: FICTION. Not excited enough to give them my $50, at any rate. The John Cena vs. Ryback match, in my opinion, has had a lackluster build. Off the top of my head I can recall two three stages of hell matches – Triple H vs. Stone Cold and Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels. Those matches were brutal, and the stipulations associated with them reinforced that. The Triple H vs. Austin match was a Street Fight/No DQ/Steel Cage match. I remember that one being a bloody brawl that ended when Triple H passed out on top of Stone Cold for the three count. The Triple H vs. HBK match upped the ante by making the stipulations Street Fight/Steel Cage/Ladder Match. This time? We’re getting a Lumberjack match, a tables match and an ambulance match. Hardly “hell” in my opinion. And while Cena has proven he can rise to the occasion for big matches, Ryback has not.
I’m intrigued to see Bryan & Orton as a tag team, and Kane vs. Ambrose should be entertaining. CM Punk’s return in Chicago is probably the only genuine “I’d like to see that” element of the show. But would I pay $50 to see that? Nope. And finally, the WWE doesn’t seem too interested in promoting WWE payback. This past RAW had, no joke, at least 6 segments (including lengthy replays) dedicated to Triple H, Stephanie and Vince – none of which had anything to do with selling the Payback pay-per-view. If the company doesn’t care enough to hype their own event, why should I bother buying it?
Mike Uphoff: FACT. It’s really hard for me not to be excited about WWE Payback. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not overly excited about it, but I am excited to see it. CM Punk and Chris Jericho going in round three in Punk’s hometown, plus Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins will likely face each other in the tag match a lot (hopefully). I am a little interested in the Ryback vs. Cena Three Stages of Hell, but only because it is Three Stages of Hell. I will watch the PPV, but there is a lot of stuff on the card that can deliver. Ambrose and Kane will do well together, and I am also interested in the Diva’s title match. I also think Ziggler will work hard to prove that he is 100% and he and Del Rio will put on a fine title match.
Matt Steel: FACT. I am not unexcited about Payback. As far as PPVs go, June’s record in the last few years: Capital Punishment, No Way Out, and now Payback, has always been nothing more than a filler PPV. Every match almost seems rushed and thrown together just to get some matches on a PPV that will end up being marginal wrestling matches. Most expect Punk/Jericho to steal the show. That is of course if Punk returns at the PPV and its not a swerve by Paul Heyman and WWE. I think the match if it happens, will have its moments, but to be honest, there is nothing special about this show. Cena retains, Ambrose retains, Ziggler retains, etc etc . Dissension between Orton and Bryan. Kaitlyn beats AJ by DQ. and that’s all she wrote.
Score: 0 for 1
2. CM Punk should come back as a face.
Sean Kelly: FICTION. Punk’s natural state is as a heel. His babyface run was good, but Punk didn’t really hit his stride until he became a full blown bad guy. The straight edge superstar still has plenty to offer as a villain. He could hang around the main event scene taking on John Cena, HHH, Orton, etc. or he can help further elevate some younger guys like Kofi, Bryan, or Miz. Perhaps he could team up with Brock Lesnar to form a formidable tag team. Or he could support Curtis Axel as a favor to his buddy Paul Heyman. Why mess with a good thing? Plus, he’d still get to work with Paul Heyman, and when Punk and Heyman work together, everybody wins!
Mike Uphoff: FACT. I do think he should come back as a face. Whether or not he actually comes back as one is a different question. CM Punk was an effective heel, but he would be much better suited to be a face. If he comes back as a heel, there are more faces to feud with, but I think that the WWE fans would like to see him as a face. Punk can do either role magnificently, and when he returns to Monday Night RAW the night after Payback, I will be watching to see what he does and to see if he acknowledges the loss to Taker at WrestleMania.
Matt Steel: FICTION. Should he…NO. Will he….Probably. There is no denying the POP he will get when or of he shows up at Payback. but hopefully the next night he turns heel again. and all is right in the wrestling world. However, knowing the WWE he will return face, and feud with Curtis Axel until Summerslam and then possibly feud with Punk. Not the direction I would go. but hey. its the WWE. Logic is not their strong point
Score: 0 for 2
3. Sheamus being on the Payback pre-show is a sign his character isn’t working.
Sean Kelly: FICTION. I think it’s a stretch to say that Sheamus being on the YouTube show one time means that his character isn’t working. We don’t know the logic behind the move. Perhaps WWE wanted to draw more viewers to the YouTube channel and saw Sheamus as someone with enough star power to do it. Maybe they wanted to somehow fit him into the stacked pay-per-view card because they are keen on keeping him on TV for the buildup. Or maybe they’re just playing it by ear and randomly made the decision at the last minute (most likely). If I were making a list of reasons why Sheamus were working a YouTube show, “his character isn’t working” would be toward the bottom, well after “Vince ate some bad shrooms” and “Steph’s hormonal imbalance.”
Mike Uphoff: FICTION. I don’t think that is a sign that his character isn’t working, I think it’s a sign that creative and WWE in general don’t really have an idea of what to do with him at this point. I like a feud between him and Sandow, and hopefully Sandow can pick up a couple of quality wins over Sheamus. I would like to see Sheamus turn heel eventually, however, because I don’t think his face character that he is portraying has much longevity left.
Matt Steel: FICTION Not at all. Just means the guy with the bright red hair, pasty skin, and typical Irish gimmick isn’t in the minds of creative right now. If Antonio Cesaro was still as strong as the WWE made him before Wrestlemania, Sheamus vs Antonio would have been a nice filler feud. Sheamus being on the pre-show is not exactly a nail in his coffin. but not a good step for one of their more popular characters.
Score: 1 for 3
4. Zeb Colter should manage somebody other than Jack Swagger.
Sean Kelly: FACT. Zeb is a great character. He’s more over than Jack Swagger, in my opinion. If he’s going to be at the events anyway, why not pair him up with a talented performer or two that could use a solid mouthpiece and some mentoring? First, the WWE would need to get Colter out of the immigration pigeonhole he’s currently occupying, but I think Zeb could easily transition from someone that’s only paranoid about immigration to a full blown conspiracy/survivalist nut. Perhaps he’s someone who’s become so disillusioned with the government he becomes an anarchist, so he leads a rebellion to overthrow the WWE authority structure. Obviously, he can’t physically compete – Colter’s more of a General than a soldier. But every good General needs an army. There’s a whole host of guys from Zack Ryder to Curt Hawkins that could capitalize on Colter’s charisma to get some valuable TV time. I’d rather watch that than a third replay of Triple H arguing with Vince.
Mike Uphoff: FICTION. I don’t think that Zeb Colter should manage somebody other than Jack Swagger right now. I think Zeb Colter still really helps Swagger in his role, and until this true American persona has run its timely course, I don’t want to see Colter manage anyone else. I do think that Colter could help other wrestlers in the WWE, but Swagger needs Colter right now, especially since he is injured and Colter can help bring conspiracy theories on why Swagger is gone.
Matt Steel: FACT Absolutely. I’ve been watching wrestling since the 70’s , my favorite time was the 80’s. The days of Heenan, Blassie, Slick, Humperdink, Jimmy Hart, The Grand Wizard, and Mr. Fuji. Managers should have more than one client. Even Oliver Humperdink had Orndorff and Bam Bam. So yeah Colter having Cesaro, or a repackaged Canadian turncoat Christian would work.
Score: 1 for 4
5. The Briscoe Brothers should be in WWE.
Sean Kelly: FACT. They’re talented, they’ve got a cult following – why not? With WWE’s “Revitalize the Tag Team division, Take 44” initiative under way, the company could use a couple of young, hungry performers with something to prove. I’ve heard the nonsensical “Briscoes aren’t aesthetically pleasing enough to be in WWE” rumors, but that’s a bunch of hogwash if you ask me. (Hogwash – Stone Cold’s word of the day!) You’re telling me that the Bushwhackers were aesthetically pleasing? That Mick Foley was swatting the ladies away? It’s all about charisma, and these guys have it in spades. Bring them into WWE, have them wrestle the Shield and Bryan/Punk in a triangle ladder match and watch the internet explode.
Mike Uphoff: FACT. My gut tells me that they really should be in WWE, but only after Jay’s title reign has run its course. The Briscoe Brothers really don’t have anything left do in ROH, and they could really help revitalize a dying division of tag teams in the WWE that has mostly been kept alive by the efforts of Team Hell No and the Shield. The style that the Briscoe Brothers utilize isn’t really a WWE style, but they can learn. I think that the Briscoe Brothers really should be in the WWE, and I feel that they would not get much opportunities in TNA.
Matt Steel: FICTION. I have had several conversations with the Briscoe Brothers. They are full of potential and confidence, however. I believe that ship has sailed. Both guys are beat up, have families, kids, and are in their mid-thirties. Right now they’re stuck in ROH etc., probably the best place for them. Mentally and physically. Nobody wants to sign a AAA Pitcher in the MLB that is pushing 40.
Score: 1 for 5
6. Kurt Angle/Rampage Jackson is equivalent to Steve Austin/Mike Tyson.
Sean Kelly: FICTION. Mike Tyson was the biggest name in boxing and a pop culture phenomenon. Stone Cold Steve Austin was at the top of the wrestling world and also, to a lesser extent, a pop culture phenomenon. Angle is nowhere near the level of 1998 Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Rampage will never reach the pinnacle of celebrity that Mike Tyson enjoyed. Sure, there are some parallels – bald white wrestler confronts black fighting star, but that’s about it. I’d even say that Hulk Hogan teaming up with Mr. T or Big Show vs. Mayweather is more akin to Austin/Tyson than Angle/Jackson is. Kudos to TNA for bringing in a non-wrestling star to try and get more eyeballs, but this is nowhere near the level of Austin/Tyson.
Mike Uphoff: FICTION. Fiction, Fiction, a million times Fiction. No disrespect to Kurt Angle or to Rampage, but that angle will NEVER be equivalent to Steve Austin/Mike Tyson because of a few reasons. One is that Steve Austin and Mike Tyson had their rivalry during the hottest time of the Attitude Era, and that nowadays Rampage/Angle is not going to draw as much attention from mainstream media as Tyson and Austin did. Two is simply that Angle and Rampage are simply not as big stars as Austin and Tyson (although Austin and Angle are pretty close to each other). Third, and this is not an insult to TNA, this is TNA putting on the angle. When WWE had this angle going in the midst of the hottest part of the Attitude Era, their writers were really good and delivered good material. We’ve seen in the past how shaky TNA can be. Do I think Rampage and Angle can deliver? Absolutely, but to think that it could be equivalent to Austin/Tyson is ludicrous.
Matt Steel: FICTION Not quite, as much as TNA would like that to be the case. and maybe in TNA’s eyes it would be. But it doesn’t have the same mainstream appeal. Sure I am looking forward to the match, and I think it has that big match feel that TNA needs. but considering that Tyson and Austin’s confrontation came out of nowhere. Angle/Jackson felt rather forced. I hope it’s the match that helps them. I really want to see TNA step up. and it seems like a good step, but what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to something great in the ring.
Score: 2 for 6
7. The Bound For Glory Series will increase interest in Impact Wrestling.
Sean Kelly: FICTION. Purely because it hasn’t in the past, so why would it be any different now? Impact Wrestling has hovered in the 0.8-1.2 ratings range for years now, and Bound for Glory has never done much to change that. What’s so special about this year’s series that will cause a drastic jump in ratings? Here’s what will increase interest in Impact Wrestling – consistent, strong storytelling combined with a few mainstream “stunts.” The stunts will bring in the new viewers, and the strong storytelling will keep them coming back. Easier said than done, I know, but a wrestling tournament, even a well executed wrestling tournament, ain’t gonna draw the kinds of numbers that would make a significant difference.
Mike Uphoff: FACT. I don’t really think that it will increase that much interest in Impact Wrestling, but in the short-term it probably will generate some interest, solely because it is the Bound For Glory series. It certainly won’t increase my interest much, but that’s because I work Thursdays and therefore cannot watch TNA. I will still follow the BFG Series and try to predict who wins (and fail). I think that the BFG Series will increase in the short-term, but once it becomes evident who the winner will be, people will lose some interest.
Matt Steel: FICTION Only for TNA fans. For the casual fan, to be honest, could care less. Last year I had a hard time keeping up with the points and who was leading. Its a good concept, but really needs to be shortened. Maybe a month long, before the Bound for Glory PPV. Tournament Style, instead of Points. Make each match and each victory seem more important as the person who wins, looks back at who he had to beat to get there. That’s money.
Score: 2 for 7
8. Jesse Ventura should run for President of the United States in 2016.
Sean Kelly: FACT. Solely for the entertainment factor. He’s suggested having Howard Stern as his running mate, so there’s no way we can give good ol’ Jesse any serious consideration. That ticket would be a farce. But it’s interesting – the current political climate highly favors someone like Jesse Ventura. Think about it – with the PRISM program exposed, people trust their government less now than any time in recent memory. Both the far left and right are outraged with the current administration – and it takes a special kind of scandal to accomplish that major feat. Jesse is Mister Conspiracy Theory – and he’s been 100% against this kind of government overreaching for years. Now’s the time where Jesse’s message will strongly resonate with the American electorate. Too bad he’s more bluster than substance, because he might have actually made a strong, independent alternative to the corrupt Democrat/Republican system we have in place now.
Mike Uphoff: FICTION. I don’t think Jesse Ventura should run for President in 2016. He did a pretty good job as governor of Minnesota, but I don’t think that the Body is really ready to be the President of the United States. However, on the flip side he might do a good job. It’s just my personal preference on this one, and I’d like to point out that I am a fan of his. I just don’t think he would be able to fix the wreck that is the United States right now, and I would really hate to see him eaten alive by the media. If he runs, I probably won’t vote for him, but I’ll root for him to win, because it would be kinda cool to see a former professional wrestler in the White House.
Matt Steel: FICTION Should, could, would. I love Jesse. However every time the presidential race comes up, he always says, I’m going to run in the next one. and well, words are words Mr. Ventura, and actions speaking louder. Like Linda McMahon and her Senate run proved, a pro wrestling background does not make for a good background in politics. and his conspiracy show just makes people think he is all gimmick. I still remember this being the guy who picked a fight with Rudy Tillman in the XFL because he thought it would help ratings. Jesse was decent as a action guy in Predator, he was decent as a color commentator in WWE and WCW, and he was tolerable as Governor of Minnesota. but I don’t think anyone outside of some of his fans and Conspiracy theorists, would actually vote for him. Besides, didn’t Howard Stern say he would run on the same ballot as Vice President? Who would they run against, Carrot Top and Andrew Dice Clay?
Final Score: 2 for 8
I honestly can’t believe these three guys agreed on two of these topics. I thought for sure they’d score the big squadoosh, but it was not to be. Thanks so much to Sean, Mike & Matt for contributing, and we’ll be back next week with more Fact or Fiction!