The Wrestling News Experience: 02.06.12
Monday, February 6th, 2012
From 411Mania’s Canadian offices in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, this is The Wrestling News Experience, with Stephen Randle!
I Have A Hulk
Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Experience. I am Stephen Randle, and no, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. Partially because I was at work, where I get to deal with people who feel that an apology just isn’t good enough when they find out they’re still not going to get what they think they deserve, and partially because I really didn’t give a crap about either team, Canada doesn’t even air those insipid “wacky” commercials everyone talks about, and I care even less about the halftime show. At that point, I might as well watch a test pattern, which I’m surprised some other network hasn’t thought of doing during the Super Bowl. Better yet, Fox should try airing American Idol and see what people really care more about.
I know, football would win in a curb-stomping not seen since TNA tried moving to Mondays. But it’d be funny to hear about Idol getting their lowest ratings in history.
Last week, the writing was on the wall for Interim GM Johnny Ace, and I’m assuming even though he didn’t technically finish his sentence, Triple H sent Ace packing and appeared to be in the process of re-asserting his control over hands-on operation of Raw. Howeverr, the night did not end there, as with great ceremony The Undertaker returned after being absent for nearly a year, and seemed to imply that he wishes to challenge Triple H to yet another match at WrestleMania. After nearly pulling out victory and also ensuring that the Dead Man did not leave the ring under his own power last year, it would seem possible that Triple H could be the one to finally end the Streak on his third try, but The Game appeared uninterested and left the Undertaker alone in the ring. Questions abound about why Triple H would turn down the challenge, and hopefully he will address those concerns tonight.
Meanwhile, after two spectacular matches, one at the Rumble with Dolph Ziggler, and a second on Raw against World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, WWE Champ CM Punk looked to have everything going his way. That is, until Chris Jericho attacked him before his match with Bryan could come to a conclusion, leaving Punk laying in the middle of the ring. After weeks of near-total silence and speculation, could Jericho’s alleged plan finally be coming to fruition?
Plus, it looks like Kane’s plan to have John Cena give in to hatred may be bearing fruit, after a clearly angered and much more aggressive Cena sent the Big Red Machine running through the crowd to escape what could have been a seriously debilitating assault. Has Cena reached the end of his rope? And will Kane survive his own machinations?
And Beth Phoenix has declared that there are no challenges left to her Divas title, punctuating that statement with quick and decisive wins at the Rumble, on Raw, and on Smackdown last week. Is there anybody left who could make a dent in the Glamazon’s confidence?
All this, plus the only living Funkasaurus that we know about, tonight on Raw!
The Real Last Outlaw
During an interview last week, TNA wrestler Sting admitted that he was actually very, very close to going to WWE and being an opponent for The Undertaker at WrestleMania, and in fact nearly went to WWE “three or four times” in the past, but that WCW and TNA always met his needs and when it came down to it, he always chose to stay loyal. Sting also said that deep down, he would love to be in one WrestleMania match, just because it would be a huge accomplishment in his career, and that The Undertaker would be right up on the top of his list of dream opponents, but admittedly, time is definitely working against both men in terms of making that happen.
The reason I call Sting “The Real Last Outlaw” is obviously tongue-in-cheek, but really, in the world of pro wrestling, what else can you call him? He is without a doubt the biggest star left from the “WCW vs WWE” days who has never, ever worked a single match in WWE since he hit the big time. Actually, he’s pretty much the only wrestler of any notable level, from top to bottom of the card. I’m sure Vince would have loved to have him, because at more than one point in Sting’s career, he was a huge draw. But for some reason, Sting was the one guy who never threatened to jump ship. He always danced with the ones that brought him, even when the ships were sinking and the rats were flooding out in a desperate attempt to escape, and if that’s not enough mixing of clichéd statements I can probably dig up a few more. He gave WCW his complete loyalty and every opportunity to treat him well, and they did so. Years later, he would repeatedly do the same for TNA, and it seems like, for all their other faults, they’ve never shied away from making sure that Sting’s loyalty was well-compensated. In a business built on “what have you done for me lately”, where loyalty only lasts as long as the guy in charge thinks you can make him any money, Sting has built a career that goes against the grain. And while it may, when all is said and done, cost him a WrestleMania moment, I don’t think, looking back, that he would regret sticking to his guns, and riding off into the sunset knowing that even though others might wonder what might have been, he stuck to his guns from day one and never went against the one quality that he’ll always be remembered for: loyalty.
Still, though…Sting vs Undertaker at WrestleMania…it would be huge.
He’s Being Supportive of TNA! Get Him!
Okay, before the mob hits, I want to extend some actually deserved kudos to TNA for their European tour. Sure, Hulk Hogan as Garrett Bischoff’s mentor is stupid and also could be seen coming a mile away without magnification, but the shows they put on were reportedly well-received, the Impact that aired last week featuring significantly more wrestling (which TNA Wrestlers can actually do really well when they get the time to), and better news for the company, they sold out the whole tour. For all the comparisons TNA gets to WCW, and they deserve some of them, at least they haven’t killed the overseas markets like WCW was doing when everything went bad. Remember when WCW managed to run an Australian tour where they sold every ticket (because the WCW name, believe it or not, could still move tickets overseas even during the downward spiral), but still lost money because they forgot to account for reimbursing for the empty seats taken up by production equipment? That’s one of the many reasons why WCW tanked as quickly and completely as it did, and because TNA, at the very least, can do things like “market overseas where they don’t get pro wrestling of that level more than a couple times a year”, still has a chance to make meaningful contributions to the industry.
And speaking of meaningful contributions, TNA’s India project, Ring Ka King, is getting near-rave reviews across the board for providing an interesting and interactive product that some fans have been heard to remark is miles ahead of what shows up on Impact most weeks. Okay, so the American side of the business clearly still needs work, especially the near-moribund house show and PPV sales, where they really need to make a decision on whether they want to keep putting a product on PPV that a fraction of a fraction of their small audience pays for (and I’d say “no”). But I would venture to say that, as long as nobody loses their head and decides “we’re going toe-to-toe against WWE again”, TNA could well see a light at the end of what has thus far been a very, very long, very dark tunnel.
They Have The Internet On Computers Now
So with WWE Network now many months away (assuming no more delays…right), WWE looks to have gone in another direction in order to give you a whole bunch of content to watch during those times when WWE isn’t actually airing on television. And since it has been a few years since it became the most popular place on the Internet for sharing short video clips, and nearly a year since Zack Ryder discovered that it could be used to attract fans willing to pay money somehow, it should be no surprise that WWE has embraced YouTube, creating nine different YouTube “features” that they apparently plan to update every week. And better yet, unlike other WWE content on YouTube, these programs can be viewed in places like Canada, the land that still doesn’t have Hulu or Netflix with a quarter the content of the American version. So, I gave the WWE YouTube channel a try this week, and I have to say…it’s not half bad. The features are short, entertaining vignettes that clearly do not feature the micromanagement of anyone who might not like the idea of Superstars actually saying anything that hasn’t been scripted out word-for-word. I recommend that everyone check this stuff out, but if you’ve only got time for one, you absolutely cannot go wrong with “Are You Serious”, where Road Dogg and Josh Mathews riff on some of the stupidest, silliest, and weirdest footage from WWE’s video vault. Plus, there’s a special recurring guest that you just have to see to believe. And even then, you might not.
– Rock and John Cena are fighting on Twitter! Well, it’ll appeal to the whiny teenage girls who use Twitter to do the same damned thing, anyway.
– Why yes, Natalya’s “fart” gimmick is completely intentional and apparently WWE thinks it will get her over, as evidenced by it continuing on this past week’s Smackdown. Congratulations, WWE, you finally found a way to make fart jokes look stupid.
– Some guy whose music I’ve never heard is on tap to do John Cena’s entrance music at WrestleMania. I hope he wasn’t planning to be very popular afterwards.
– Apparently WWE is considering the idea of filming PPVs in 3D. The obvious question is, are they capitalizing on the (hopefully already dying) fad from the last few years, or did they just find out that 3D was hugely popular in the 80’s?
– Matt Hardy’s court case has gotten a continuance, presumably because just like everything else in America, the legal system is a corrupt joke.
– Don’t look at me like that. Stephen Colbert raised over a million dollars in order to show how easy it is for billion-dollar corporations to essentially buy American political candidates. I’d laugh, but I’m so very afraid that one day it will happen here.
So, if they’ve always known that being more aggressive and less pandering without turning heel is what would unite people in liking him again, why haven’t they done it long before now? Were they afraid of having an audience where everyone actually wanted to see the guy they say is their absolute top act?
Listen, in these power rankings, stats are what matter. Well, they matter when I say they matter. And the fact of the matter is that Daniel Bryan defeated CM Punk on Monday night. Plus, he seems to have somehow brainwashed AJ into still wanting to protect him, and apparently being a vegan prevents all sorts of things that neither I nor anyone in the medical community knew about before now. You learn something new every day.
Storm pulled double duty on Impact last week in two great matches against Bobby Roode and Bully Ray, hopefully cementing himself as the guy who should eventually unseat Roode as TNA Champion. You hear me, Jeff Hardy?
Assuming he did fire Ace and is back in charge, of course. More importantly, this time we might actually care about his match with the Undertaker if they do this whole “why won’t he accept the challenge” thing right. Not that I expect the match to be able to live up to the hype, but I’m not actively rooting against it happening.
So he doesn’t get to win the Rumble, but looks to be setting himself up for the WWE Title program anyway. Fair enough. I think it works out better this way simply because everyone “knew” he’d probably be facing Punk at Mania anyway, and Sheamus winning the Rumble sets up the other match easily and has the added benefit of not involving Randy Orton. So far, anyway.
The assumed death of Air Boom gives Kingston another life as a singles competitor once more, and getting a clean win over The Miz is nothing to sneeze at. Hopefully this time he doesn’t piss off Orton and end up back on the Job Squad by May.
Orton pins Zigglero n Monday and surprise, surprise, takes down Barrett in the blowoff to their feud on Friday. At least, I hope it’s the blowoff. Tell me they’re not going to keep wrestling each other for another three months.
Apparently while Miz is taking a lot of heat for Survivor Series’ buyrate not exactly setting the world on fire (I guess that’s the price you pay for booking yourself to be a total non-threat in the underwhelming build to the show. Wait…he isn’t in charge of his own booking? The devil, you say!), Truth is skating by (Wellness aside) and saying crazy things on commentary that amuse me as much as they confuse Michael Cole. You have to wonder, maybe he escaped punishment because he really is that crazy and they’re not quite sure what would happen if they blamed him. Also, I like ellipses.
Yes, he’s back and it’s time for The Streak again, but maybe after 20-0 he should really just completely hang it up. I mean, when not even your hair can make a full-time comeback, your time might just be done.
Word is that his match had to be cut from Smackdown because his funk levels were so high that it would have damaged viewers’ retinas if they were exposed to it for too long.
Inactive List as of 01.30.12
– Alberto Del Rio, out 6-8 weeks as of December 26th (ACL)
– Evan Bourne, out 60 days as of January 17th (Wellness)
– Kevin Nash, out 6 weeks as of December 18th (back)
– Rey Mysterio, out indefinitely as of August 23rd (knee surgeries)
– Zack Ryder, out indefinitely as of January 23rd (back)
– AJ, out indefinitely as of January 6th (getting run over by Big Show)
– Christian, out 6-8 weeks as of November 13th (ankle)
– Layla El, out indefinitely as of May 23rd (ACL/MCL surgery)
– Sin Cara, out 6-9 months as of November 20th (ruptured patella)
– Chris Sabin, out indefinitely (shoulder)
– Ric Flair, out 4-6 months as of September 14th (tricep)
– Sting, day-to-day as of January 29th (heel)
– AJ, SD!, returned to television on February 5th Smackdown
– Johnny Ace, RAW, presumably relieved of his duties as Interim GM of Raw as of January 30th Raw
– Mark Henry, SD!, out indefinitely as of February 5th (various injuries)
– The Undertaker, SD!, returned to television on January 30th Raw
WWE Champion: CM Punk
– 78 day reign, defeated Alberto Del Rio on November 20th (Survivor Series PPV)
– Next title defense: vs R-Truth, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Chris Jericho, Elimination Chamber Match, Elimination Chamber PPV
World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan
– 50 day reign, defeated The Big Show by cashing in Money in the Bank on December 18th (TLC PPV)
– Next title defense: vs The Big Show, The Great Khali, Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, and Wade Barrett, Elimination Chamber Match, Elimination Chamber PPV
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Cody Rhodes
– 171 day reign, defeated Ezekiel Jackson on August 12th (Smackdown)
WWE United States Champion: Jack Swagger
– 21 day reign, defeated Zack Ryder on January 16th (Raw)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Epico and Primo
– 22 day reign, defeated Kofi Kingston and Evan Bourne on January 15th (house show)
WWE Divas’ Champion: Beth Phoenix
– 120 day reign, defeated Kelly Kelly on October 2nd (Hell in a Cell PPV)
TNA Heavyweight Champion: Bobby Roode
– 95 day reign, defeated James Storm on November 3rd (Impact)
– Next title defense: vs Bully Ray, James Storm, and Jeff Hardy, Against All Odds PPV
TNA Tag Team Champions: Crimson and Matt Morgan
– 81 day reign, defeated Mexican America on November 17th (Impact)
TNA X-Division Champion: Austin Aries
– 141 day reign, defeated Brian Kendrick on September 11th (No Surrender PPV)
– Next title defense: vs Alex Shelley, Against All Odds PPV
TNA Knockouts Champion: Gail Kim
– 85 day reign, defeated Velvet Sky on November 13th (Turning Point PPV)
– Next title defense: vs Tara, Against All Odds PPV
TNA Knockouts Tag Team Champions: Gail Kim and Madison Rayne
– 95 day reign, defeated Miss Tessmacher and Tara on November 3rd (Impact)
TNA Television Champion: Robbie E
– 85 day reign, defeated Eric Young on November 13th (Turning Point PPV)
De Marco has The Wrestling 5&1.
Thomas has Buy or Sell: Classic Wrestling Edition.
Acero has The Triumverate of Truth. Wait…really?
Frame has The Wrestling Framework.
Kirk has The Wrestling Sandwich.
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Here it is, your Moment of Buddy
Buddy Didn’t Get To Watch The Super Bowl Either.
One Day Buddy Will Learn To Control The Remote.
Then We’ll See…
Have a good one, and always be a fan.