wrestling / Columns

411 Fact or Fiction Wrestling: Will Roman Be The Hero We Deserve?

February 5, 2015 | Posted by Larry Csonka

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 Jack Bramma! He battles Wyatt Beougher!

  • Questions were sent out Monday.
  • Participants were told to expect wrestling-related content, as well as possible statements on quantum physics, homemade pharmaceuticals, the Turtle Total Trip Theorem and hydroponics.

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    1. You are looking forward to Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns at Fast Lane.

    Wyatt Beougher: FICTION – If memory serves, I responded to a similar statement during a Fact or Fiction appearance over the summer regarding Reigns’ match with Randy Orton at Summerslam. Unlike that match, I cannot foresee myself watching the Fast Lane match for the prospect of the veteran doing whatever he can to expose the upstart youngster, and, to be completely honest, every time Bryan is in the ring with someone other than Kane, it is almost guaranteed to be an enjoyable contest (even his matches with Kane aren’t bad, per se, but they bring back bad memories of everything involving Bryan post-WrestleMania last year, and seeing him move into a proper feud with anyone but Kane is preferable to what we’ve seen since his return. That said, while I am looking forward to the match itself, the specter of the ending looms large over the entire proceeding, and while I sincerely hope I am wrong about what the WWE plans to do at Fast Lane, based on everything we have heard from the dirt sheets and Triple H’s vagaries on the Austin podcast, I very much doubt that Bryan is going to get another moment in the sun at WrestleMania XXXI. And while I will admit to a morbid sense of glee at seeing the fans’ reaction to the guy they’ve turned against going over the guy they idolize, that (and the prospect of an average or better match) is not enough for me to say that I’m looking forward to this match.

    Jack Bramma: FACT – DB is arguably the best in-ring talent of the last decade. He inherited Flair, Bret, and HBK’s brooms as THE guy to get a great match out of anyone. Therefore, as a matter of principle, you pretty much have to look forward to all of his matches. That being said, the booking is the wild card here. The only reason to not look forward to this match (for some) is if it’s just another desperate attempt to get Reigns over. If WWE is intent on having Reigns as their guy, it would seem to make the most sense to keep DB far away from the title picture as to avoid having the crowd hijack the show for the next few months. One of the main reasons the fans were all about DB winning the RR is because the WWE lead them down that path with the big announcement and the return and didn’t give the crowd a good alternative or angle coming on the heels of Bryan’s unceremonious elimination, i. e. a feud with Dolph/Bray/Sheamus/a title-less Brock/Rusev/etc. So, it is possible that WWE is asking for an even bigger mutiny by continuing to ride the DB-fantasy booking train all the way to Mania only to derail it again to put over Reigns, but this second chance does give them the opportunity to right the wrong from the Rumble. Even if DB jobs, it would remove a bit of the sting from the RR where DB was treated like just another guy and at Fast Lane in this spot, he would be showcased as a big deal, if not the heir apparent. Also, they can transition DB into a marquee Mania match by having some heel cost him the match. Of course, if DB wins and goes on to face Brock, well, that’s the reason to most look forward to this match.

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    2. You are surprised that the WWE hit the one million subscriber mark so soon.

    Wyatt Beougher: FACT – Had the WWE continued booking like they did during the Road to WrestleMania and the Raw immediately afterwards, this would have been as easy “Fiction”, as that would have been a vast improvement over what we have gotten for the past ten months or so, and it would have made sense for positive word of mouth over the current product to help increase their subscriber base. Unfortunately, there have been so many more negatives since the night after WrestleMania than positives, so I was relatively certain that the WWE had reached their limit in the 600,000-700,000 subscriber range, a number that was mostly comprised of diehard wrestling fans who continued their subscriptions for the unparalleled amount of content in the WWE’s video vaults. It was especially surprising to me in the wake of the #CancelWWENetwork movement (which I always expected was more talk than people actually canceling) and the alleged crash of the WWE Network cancellation page. That said, I will admit to not knowing enough about how the numbers are reported to state with any confidence that the WWE has not reached the one million subscriber mark and that their announcement of such was just a ploy to offset the negative press that Roman Reigns’ Royal Rumble win generated. I am significantly more curious to see how that one million number breaks down during the quarterly earnings call, though.

    Jack Bramma: FICTION – Two ways of looking at this. 1. The number is a bit of a work because WWE doesn’t have 1 million active subscribers at the moment, but since the launch has had 1 million subscribers total even if some have cancelled since then. If that’s the case, I’m not surprised because WWE is misrepresenting themselves in an effort to stave off bad PR from the Rumble and the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag and in an effort to capitalize on the annual momentum heading into Mania.

    2. The number is legitimate and the RR debacle had no bearing on the timing of the announcement. If that’s the case, WWE still promised investors they’d hit the 1 million mark by the end of 2014, indicating they were expecting this earlier than it happened. Also, as early as last Spring, they were projecting 1 million as a low ceiling given their roughly 4 million potential customers per week watching RAW. Even if that was hubris in an effort to artificially inflate stock prices and to increase leverage for media deals and the TV rights to RAW, WWE has been doing everything in their power to race toward that number 1 million subscriber number including offering a one-month rate of $19.99 last summer, dropping the 6 month commitment altogether, turning $9.99 into a meme, offering a few month of the WWE Network twice in its first year of production, and bringing in Sting. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were doing rain dances, drinking goat’s blood, and sacrificing virgins into a volcano behind Titan Towers to get where they have.

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    3. ROH is wasting Alberto El Patron by booking a TV Title feud with Jay Lethal.

    Wyatt Beougher: FICTION – Confession time: RoH is the one televised American promotion that I do not pay close attention to, as it is not available in my area and I stopped following the promotion several years ago. That said, my understanding is that Alberto El Patron is only contracted for a limited number of dates with RoH and as the world heavyweight champion of both AAA and WWL, I can only imagine that if push came to shove, he would choose those promotions (and AAA’s Lucha Underground) over RoH. More to the point, as he still holds both of those championships, I think it would be fair to assume that at least AAA has some say in how El Patron is booked. Knowing that, what more should RoH do with El Patron? He is arguably the biggest name free agent in North American professional wrestling right now, so they could have put him into a program with heavyweight champion Jay Briscoe; however, unless I am mistaken, he is embroiled in a feud with the Kingdom at present, and inserting a short-term talent like El Patron into a long-term angle like that makes little sense. And while I doubt Alberto will collect the TV Title during his tenure in RoH, at least he will be facing an opponent that a larger audience knows, as Lethal’s time in TNA was relatively recent, coincided with a period where the company was arguably at their most popular for their wrestling, and featured Lethal winning the X Division title six times and the tag team titles once. I know RoH fans won’t want to hear this, but their TV champion is better known to most fans that might decided to watch RoH for Alberto El Patron than their Heavyweight champion, so I see nothing wrong with how RoH is using Alberto El Patron, at least if he is only short-term talent.

    Jack Bramma: FICTION – Unlike TNA, ROH’s booking has always been consistently strong. They haven’t fallen in love with the idea of being WWE-lite and bringing in everyone who has ever had a cup of coffee with Steve Lombardi in an effort to increase their Twitter followers or their Q score. Their use and booking of Matt Hardy and Matt Sydal show that they recognize the value of a former WWE guy isn’t in starpower but in terms of how they fit into an existing structure and narrative already under way and how they would represent the ROH brand. And if anything, a WWE guy’s starpower in ROH should be used as ammunition to book him as an invader foil to homegrown guys and then to put them over. A TV title feud with Lethal is a good place to start for ADR and unlike in the big leagues, secondary titles still mean something in ROH.


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    4. If Rey Mysterio gets his WWE release (as reported last week) he will wrestle for Lucha Underground before the end of 2015.

    Jack Bramma: FACT – Over the past couple of years, the dirtsheet scuttlebutt has placed Rey seemingly everywhere except the grassy knoll. He’s coming back; he’s feuding with Sin Cara to set the mask record at Mania; he’s injured; he wants out of his deal; his deal is expiring and he won’t be resigned; more time has been tacked on to his deal; he’s doing a promo for AAA to undermine the no-compete clause. You get the picture. However, IF Rey’s done soon, then yes, he’ll work with Lucha Underground by the end of the month. He’s still got some gas left in the tank, and LU is making waves in smark circles as a solid alternative to the WWE monotony. The only reason Rey wouldn’t is if he remains mired in healthy scratch purgatory in WWE or gets locked up with an exclusive deal by CMLL or NJPW.

    Wyatt Beougher: FACT – This is entirely conditional on him getting his WWE release, obviously, and it is also not something that I am looking forward to. Rey has had little to no value as an in-ring performer for a few years now, as he is several years, several surgeries, several pounds, and a Wellness suspension or two removed from his prime. And that is not intended as a shot at Rey, but his best days are far behind him, the victim of a style that put a very physical toll on his body and a desire to pack entirely too much muscle on a frame that simply was not built to handle it. He has very obviously slowed down over the past couple of years and also missed significant time due to injuries, so seeing him try to keep up with the fast-paced (and, for the most part, significantly younger) luchadores of Lucha Underground just is not something that I am clamoring for. And that is coming from someone who gets unreasonably excited every time Pimpinela Escarlata or Blue Demon Jr appears for the promotion, both of whom are older than Rey. Sure, I would love to think that Rey will follow in Jushin Liger’s footsteps and reinvent himself with a more technical, mat-based style now that he can’t realistically fly anymore, but I honestly cannot see that happening, and watching Rey either embarrass himself against the likes of Fenix or Angelico or Prince Puma, or worse, seeing those guys have to dial back their style to suit Rey, just sounds awful to me.

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    5. Roman Reigns will be a heel by the time WrestleMania 31 ends.

    Jack Bramma: FICTION – This question must be answered in the context of the different possibilities with DB/Reigns at Fast Lane. Coming out of Monday, it would certainly seem the Fed is leaning toward playing up Reigns’ dickish, entitled interviews and promos and playing him as a bit of a tweener going into a potential supercard showdown with Lesnar or a triple threat with Lesnar and DB. But let’s look at the options.

    1. Reigns loses at Fast Lane due to interference from Rollins to set up Rollins/Reigns at Mania possibly for the briefcase. This is a definite possibility, given Reigns’ interference in the RAW main event costing Rollins the match at Fast Lane and the promo earlier in the night. Obviously, this would give Reigns a chance to gear down away from the bright lights and scrutiny of a rocket push as the golden boy destined to dethrone Lesnar at Mania and let his push evolve a bit more organically. It would net him a likely strong win at Mania against the most hated heel on the roster and a great match against one of the best workers on the roster that would continue his push without force-feeding it to fans. In this scenario, Reigns obviously stays face.

    2. Reigns wins at Fast Lane, either clean or due to interference from a newly heel Dolph/Sheamus/etc. to set up Bryan’s mania feud and move Reigns on to Lesnar. Reigns then wins at Mania clean as a sheet to go over the unstoppable heel Lesnar on his way out and gets the rub of being the guy to beat the guy who squashed Cena and conquered the Streak. Also, lookout for a potential Rollins cash-in in this scenario. This would seem to be the most obvious path to take and one that WWE seems intent on taking after the RR. This path would have been the same even without the detour with DB at Fast Lane. Despite its obviousness, this path also seems the most likely because of the historically entrenched and “stubborn”/traditional booking of the WWE in a myriad of ways. History tells us that Vince is always looking for the next Hogan or the next Cena (though not the next Austin strangely enough) because since at least the 70s, the WWWF and then the WWF and now the WWE is a dominant face-champion territory where heels never get over on the faces very much and never get the title for very long. Vince wants his unstoppable, All-American American hero who takes the Benedict Arnolds and Beasts Incarnates of the world and makes them eat a red, white, and blue shit sandwich, while selling prayers, vitamins, and t-shirts to a generation of children. Let the Roman Empire begin or something. Also, still a face here.

    3&4. Reigns gets past DB and loses to Lesnar at Mania as either a face or a heel. I’m putting the odds on Reigns wrestling Lesnar 1-on-1 at Mania but losing at ziltch. Let’s move on.

    5. Reigns wins at Fast Lane by hook or crook, nudges more and more toward being a prima donna as Mania looms, and finally, becomes Paul Heyman’s latest client as we get a repeat of SS2002 where Heyman backed Showster (and then Angle) over Brock. This is still a possibility as well. Reigns comes off like a preening asshole more everyday, and Brock was positioned as the heroic babyface working from under to overcome the odds and a stretcher job at RR. Although, I just have a VERY hard time seeing this happen. Almost all signs point to Brock being done, and last time he worked his last match at Mania on his way out, he was booed out of the arena along with Goldberg. Not exactly the best pedigree to book Brock as a face. Therefore, for this scenario to work, Brock seemingly has to resign and stick around. But if Brock does stick around, is the WWE really having him get screwed at Mania only to NOT use him at the next PPV due to his super-expensive per-date asking price? There’s just too many variables and unlikely outcomes for me to see the Fed going this way.

    Wyatt Beougher: FICTION – I just cannot see that happening, as it would essentially require Vince McMahon to admit that he was wrong about Reigns’ being the next John Cena. Yes, Cena was a heel early in his career, but I do not think that it is out of the question to assume that Vince believes that Reigns got that out of the way as a part of the Shield, and he wants to push Reigns as the next “hero to the children” (and drainer of their parents’ wallets). Perhaps I am not giving Vince enough credit, and he is looking at Reigns as the next Rock, and WrestleMania will end with Triple H delivering the Pedigree to Seth Rollins after Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank title shot, preventing Rollins (who did just fail to live up to H’s expectations on Monday, a la Randy Orton, something that was actually discussed on the show) from taking the title and revealing Reigns as the Authority’s chosen champion. And while I certainly think that would be better for Reigns’ career in the long run, I cannot shake the belief that Vince sees Reigns only as Cena 2.0, meaning he will be stuck as a bland, boring face for the rest of his career.

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    6. TNA signing Drew Galloway is a good move.

    Jack Bramma: FACT – Galloway is a former WWE wrestler, but one that doesn’t have the stigma of being a “WWE guy.” Unlike some other castoffs, Drew is a guy who never got much of a sustained push with the Fed. He had all the markings of a huge push as the Chosen One and one of the best theme songs and entrances in years with “Broken Dreams”, but it never materialized beyond the IC title level. After that, he settled into being a job guy and made the most of his time with the ridiculous but entertaining 3MB. Put another way, Galloway’s only 30, is talented, and was never overexposed or over pushed. If nothing else, he and Magnus could reform a version of the British (and Scottish) Invasion.

    Wyatt Beougher: FACT – This is a conditional “Fact”, and it depends on whether or not he and his now ex-wife Taryn Terrell can successfully co-exist. While TNA has made bone-headed roster moves in the past, I would like to think that this one was fully vetted and that Terrell, currently the queen of the Knockouts division, was consulted. It is no secret that Galloway and Terrell’s marriage was not an easy one, with rumors of Terrell’s jealousy and possessiveness culminating in a domestic violence incident at a hotel in Los Angeles that saw Terrell arrested for allegedly abusing Galloway. Though she was later acquitted of all charges and the couple remained together for several months afterwards, the incident cost Terrell her job with the WWE and Galloway his push. Still, though, by all accounts, before Vince soured on him, he believed Galloway was a future world champion, and two-plus years stuck in a lower card jobber comedy act did little to change whatever Vince saw in him prior to the incident with Terrell. If anything, one would hope that his time in 3MB removed any notions that Galloway had of actually being “The Chosen One” and will motivate him to work harder in TNA to prove to the WWE that they missed out on him. It definitely allowed him to broaden his range and while he didn’t have Heath Slater’s goofy charisma, Galloway was perfectly acceptable as a part of 3MB and did whatever the WWE asked of him (including feuding with, and selling for, a tiny anthropomorphic bull). And then there are the measurables – yes, the vocal TNA detractors will be ready with their usual “lolwwereject” claims, but Galloway is still just shy of thirty years old, he’s six feet, five inches tall, weighs two hundred and fifty pounds, and is handsome and charismatic enough that this should be an easy fact. Of course, it is all going to come down to Galloway’s attitude and how he is utilized in the promotion, but at the outset, I believe that this is a good signing for TNA. Will he be a runaway success like the former Derrick Bateman or does he end up a relative flop like another “chosen one”, Mr. Kennedy (…..KENNEDY)? Considering he has yet to appear on Impact television, it is definitely too early to make that call, but there are enough factors in Galloway’s favor that I am leaning towards the former.

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    7. The Steve Austin podcast with Triple H was better than the podcast with Vince McMahon.

    Jack Bramma: FICTION – As much as I like Triple H, he’s not as much of a get for an interview as either Vince or Punk for that matter with Cabana. Punk wasn’t heard from for months after his departure and was a hot commodity for his side of the story. Vince almost never gives candid out-of-character interviews, and when he does, he seems to be overcompensating to justify his rasslin’-roots to the Bob Costases of the world. Therefore, his interview with Austin was very rare. Triple H, on the other hand, within the last year, has given basically the same interview to Grantland and Jericho on his podcast before doing this with Austin. Also, either because of the setting or professional courtesy, Austin isn’t in the gotcha business and does the best that he can within the confines of a WWE-sanctioned interview on their network, but he didn’t press Trips for firmer answers on some of the more diplomatic sidesteps. For his part, Trips can’t ruffle but so many feathers because he knows and we know that Vince calls the shots. He can’t openly defy Vince or throw him under the bus for risk of jeopardizing his career and meal ticket. It’s an understandable position, but one that doesn’t lend itself to the most newsworthy or controversial interview. To his credit, Triple H came out professional, knowledgeable, passionate, levelheaded, reasonable, and forward-looking, but nothing he said could be as revealing as Vince’s podcast due to basic pecking order.

    Wyatt Beougher: FICTION – The Triple H appearance was certainly entertaining, as he and Austin were able to talk to one another more like peers and getting an inside perspective on the events that led to Austin winning King of the Ring was definitely cool, but overall, I preferred the McMahon appearance. I think the biggest reason for that was because McMahon is still the be-all, end-all when it comes to the WWE, and consequently, he could say whatever he wanted without fear of stepping on anyone’s toes. There were a couple of points during HHH’s appearance that it felt like he was toeing the company line and showing the proper deference for Vince, specifically when talking about how the Rumble winner was decided and also when talking about NXT. The obvious counterargument is that barring a major falling out and a messy divorce, Triple H’s position within the company is secure, and I can certainly see that side of things, but at the end of the day, he still has to report to Vince, and I just feel like that limited the direction that some of the discussion could have gone in. Also, in terms of actual content discussed, Vince actually addressed the CM Punk stuff, which was something the internet had been waiting nearly a year to hear about and which Punk had just broken his silence about. Was it everything we were hoping to hear? Of course not, but it was still captivating to hear Vince actually open up about his feelings towards Punk and the entire situation. Meanwhile, you had Triple H skirting the issue of the Rumble booking and fans’ reaction to Reigns’ win, so on that score, I just don’t think it was quite as satisfying. Throw in the fact that earlier in the night on RAW, they played up H’s appearance on the podcast as being a kayfabe thing, and I just feel like it did not live up to the standard that Vince’s appearance set. Again, it was very entertaining, and I can certainly see why people might have preferred it; however, for me, Vince’s appearance on the Podcast was the superior one.