Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

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2013 – The Best and Worst of the First Half

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So, I know we’re actually a couple of weeks over the first half of the year, but last night we wrapped up the WWE’s 6th Pay Per View of the year out of 12, so this seems a more fitting place to give out awards for the Best of the First Half of 2013.

Best Pay Per View Match – Undertaker vs. CM Punk @ Wrestlemania 29.  When this match was first announced, I thought there was a decent chance that Punk could be the one hand-picked to end the Streak, but as the program advanced week to week with Punk getting the better of Undertaker at each and every turn and seeing none of Undertaker’s legendary mind games, it became painfully obvious that Punk was going to be just another victim because there was no chance that Undertaker would get punked week in and week out and then have the streak end all at once.  I think it’s pretty clear that if the Streak ends, it’ll be the last match that Undertaker ever wrestles.  It’s poetic and would follow the trend set by Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels of glorious Wrestlemania exits.  That being the case, with the program set up as it was, there was no way that was the last run we’d see from Undertaker and thus he pretty much was guaranteed the win in my mind.  However, that didn’t take away from the quality of their match at Wrestlemania one bit.  Punk was at his best psychologically, flashing humorous expressions and hitting the high spots at just the right time to make up for Undertaker’s declining mobility.  The image of Undertaker sitting up while locked in the Anaconda Vice and turning the Big Evil glare onto Punk and Punk’s reaction is one of my favorite takeaways from this year’s Wrestlemania.  That and Zeb Coulter’s hilarious reaction when Swagger tapped out to Del Rio in the World Heavyweight Championship match.

Best Free-TV Match – John Cena vs. CM Punk – Raw (February 25) – Just an all around great performance, right up there with their match at Money in the Bank two years ago.  It’s probably one of the top five matches of Cena’s career.  It’s the only time I can remember Cena ever attempting a Frankensteiner and sure, he didn’t do it very well, but the guy went for it.  That’s one of the most exciting attempts at a move done by a big guy since Big Show, as The Giant in WCW, last attempted a Moonsault or Brock Lesnar going for the Shooting Star Press at Wrestlemania 19.  I used to think Edge was the only one who could bring out the very best in Cena, but Punk does it even better.  The two of them have had at least two and perhaps three of the top 10 matches of the last two years (at Money in the Bank in 2011 and this match for sure, plus maybe Night of Champions last year despite the non-finish).

Best Rivalry – Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield (and anything else in his way) –  Daniel Bryan has kicked things up to another notch this year during his “weakest link” storyline, putting on the most entertaining matches and some of the most entertaining segments night in and night out over the past 2 months since Team Hell No lost the WWE Tag Team Titles to The Shield at Extreme Rules.  And if the rumors are true, he’s managed to parlay the great showing he’s had this year into a SummerSlam WWE Championship Main Event match against John Cena.  Goat mode has been activated and there is no stopping it.

Best Performer – Daniel Bryan – (See Best Rivalry)  Honorable Mention to CM Punk for easily the 3 best matches of the year so far (vs. Cena on Raw, vs. Undertaker @ Wrestlemania and vs. Jericho @ Payback)

Most Underrated – Antonio Cesaro – In a very short time he went from a dominant United States Champion to a yodeling afterthought.  He was consistently posting great matches against The Miz, which I’ve come to expect as a very hard thing to do over the course of Miz’s career, so Cesaro deserves all the respect in the world for that.  I don’t know why they decided to stick him with Zeb Coulter now because Cessaro is also pretty darn good on the mic and doesn’t really need a mouthpiece and for that storyline they should have used another actual American to team with Swagger, even though Cesaro does have the Very European, Uber-American thing going for him.  Damien Sandow was easily my favorite to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match last night and I’m very glad he did.  His mic skills over the past year or so have surpassed even those of the CM Punk and his overhyped “pipe bombs”, of which there have been few and far between since his infamous Vegas promo.  However, if Sandow wasn’t going to be the one to win, Cesaro was easily my second choice of who I would have liked to have seen win the briefcase and become a guaranteed future World Champion.

Best Pay Per View – Payback – This event was one I had pretty much written off, but it really had a lot going for it.  The 3 Stages of Hell WWE Championship title match between Cena and Ryback exceeded my expectations and was actually probably the best Pay Per View WWE Championship Match of the year so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot unless you give a lot of credit to the Twice in a Lifetime Cena vs. Rock rematch at Wrestlemania, which just didn’t do a whole lot for me after already seeing it the previous year and knowing that for certain Cena was going to win and get his all important “redemption” when they should have just had him beat Rock last year and ended it there instead of continuing to drag it out for what is probably going to be a Wrestlemania Main Event trilogy.  On top of that, you can debate which of Punk’s matches (vs. Cena, vs. Undertaker or this one) was the best, but undoubtedly Punk vs. Jericho on that night was one of the best 3 matches of the year at the very least.  On top of that, Del Rio shockingly (to me anyway) won the World Heavyweight Championship back from Dolph Ziggler in a match that just like Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13 flip-flopped the two, simultaneously turning the heel into the face and the face into the heel by showcasing the guts of the injured heel who was already getting huge reactions from the crowd long before that point.  Poor Ziggler now has 2 World Heavyweight Championship reigns, one of which went for 69 days, and he still has never successfully defended the title.  However, he put on a good show despite carrying a title for 10 weeks without defending it or even being on Television for half of his brief title run.  On top of all of that, Daniel Bryan continued to put on a great show in the WWE Tag Team Title match and for the first time in a long time WWE put a watchable women’s match on the Pay Per View, between Kaitlynn and AJ, even though the program leading up to it was like a very watered down version of Trish and Mickie.  There wasn’t really a stinker match on the card, though Dean Ambrose vs. Kane did let me down a little bit, but that’s mostly because I don’t believe disqualifications and non-finishes have any place on a Pay Per View.  If you want to put that kind of finish on Raw, go right ahead because we aren’t shelling out $50-$60 to watch it, but if you are going to charge that much for people to watch a Pay Per View, you have an obligation to deliver better than that cheap ass crap to help you promote the next Pay Per View that you’re also going to charge $50 or more for.  It’s no wonder WWE has such a problem with internet piracy.  I know that they have a lot of deserving workers who need Pay Per View revenue to help cover their salaries, but when you’re ripping off fans at $50 a pop every month, you deserve to be ripped off yourself.  It’s called karma.  Especially when I believe that you could cut Pay Per View prices down to $10-$15 and sell the show to 4-5 times as many people and make the same amount of profit.  Pay Per View buy rates and profits are down purely because, in the words of Jimmy McMillan (the guy from The Rent Is Too Damn High Party), the prices are too damn high.

Worst Match – The Rock vs. CM Punk @ Royal Rumble –  Those two just didn’t feel like they had any chemistry to me at all.  Moves seemed disjointed and poor Bret Hart was in attendance in the back after participating in the Fan Access panels that weekend and giving Del Rio a rub on his way to the ring, and Bret had to watch The Rock absolutely butcher the Sharpshooter.  At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Great Khali could apply a better Sharpshooter than The Rock.  He certainly couldn’t do any worse than The Rock.  And to top it all off, they did one of those crappy interference finishes followed by restarting the match only to have the real finish occur less than 15 seconds after restarting the match.  It was a nice moment in the career of The Rock and a niece piece of nostalgia for the fans, but it was a god awful stinker of a match.

Best Fan Reaction – Finally stopping the Goldberg chants – Next on the list of stupid crap to quit chanting is the What chant.

Worst Fan Reaction – Fandangoing – Just stop it.  The dude has a smaller move set than John Cena, of whose “5 moves of doom” you all love to bitch about so much.  Stop it now.  Shame on you New York fans for starting that junk.

Most Overrated – Fandango – (See Worst Fan Reaction) Shame on Chris Jericho for being willing to job to absolutely anybody at any given time and thus giving this bozo credibility (I’ve taken to referring to Fandango as Wiener Breath most of the time due to his level of suckitude).  Have some standards, please, for the love of all that is holy.

Worst Choice – Fandango going over on Jericho @ Wrestlemania – It’s usually a good thing for a veteran to put over the young talent and I applaud Jericho’s selflessness in being so cool about jobbing to anybody and everybody, but I reiterate for the love of all that is holy, please have some standards Chris.

Best Choice – Zack Ryder – For accidentally kicking Fandango in the head wrong and giving him a concussion, thus allowing Curtis Axel to replace him at Payback, thus saving the world from the disaster that is Fandango winning anything of importance, such as the Intercontinental Championship.

Worst Announcer – Still Michael Cole – Forever and always Michael Cole.  You know why.  Enough said.

Best Announcer – JBL – He might not have actually been a wrestling God, but he is definitely a commentary God.  Bobby Heenan is still my all time favorite commentator, but JBL is easily the runner-up.

 

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Written by I Am a Real American

July 15, 2013 at 7:20 am

Posted in AJ Lee, Antonio Cessaro, Big Show, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Diva's Championship, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, Edge, Extreme Rules, Fandango, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kaitlynn, Kane, Mickie James, Money in the Bank, Ric Flair, Royal Rumble, Sharpshooter, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Miz, The Rock, The Shield, Trish Stratus, Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania 29, Wrestlemania XIII, Wrestlemania XIX, Wrestlemania XXIX, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Zack Ryder, Zeb Coulter

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What is going on with the Intercontinental Championship?

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Over the past several months we have slowly witnessed the Intercontinental Championship once again descend into mediocrity.  Currently held by Wade Barrett, which in and of itself in no way diminishes the title, it has not been defended on WWE Pay Per View since December. I know what you’re thinking – The Miz beat Wade Barrett for the championship at Wrestlemania XXIX last month.  But that’s not all together true since that match was only on the Wrestlemania pre-show.

Barrett, while holding the championship, in succession was eliminated by NXT rookie Bo Dallas in the Royal Rumble, did not appear on the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View at all, and then lost the championship to The Miz during the Wrestlemania pre-show.  And now, after regaining the title the night after Wrestlemania, he is not even scheduled to wrestle at Extreme Rules this Sunday in St. Louis.  Instead, the former champion Miz is scheduled to compete one-on-one against Cody Rhodes on the Extreme Rules pre-show instead of having a title rematch against Barrett.

Furthermore, Barrett has been showcased less and less on Raw and Smackdown.  His only appearance on Raw this week was to do an interview on the WWE App (which I don’t get by the way – one screen is more than enough and I don’t have an iPad or iPhone or any of the tablets that the WWE App is even available on).  Then, he got a rare in-ring appearance of late on Main Event last night and he wasn’t even in the featured match on the company’s third tier show.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he jobbed to Sin Cara on that show.

I remember a time when winning the Intercontinental Championship almost guaranteed somebody a WWE (WWF at the time) Championship run within a year or two.  Nowadays, the Intercontinental Championship seems to be a place holder for former World Champions who were disappointments at the top level.  The last time somebody went from Intercontinental Champion to WWE Champion in less than a year was Jeff Hardy in 2008 (not including the World Heavyweight Championship, which we all know is not on the same tier as the WWE Championship any more and hasn’t been since Triple H and Evolution’s hold on the title and Raw was broken when the group split up in 2005).  It hasn’t been done in the last five years.

The last three up and comers to hold the championship have been Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett, of which Wade Barrett is the only one who has competed in a one-on-one WWE Championship title match (vs. Randy Orton at Survivor Series in 2010).  Barrett is also seemingly the only one of the three with the potential to take the next step any time soon, but even while holding the championship, he’s being treated like a lower-tier mid-carder right now.

Conclusion, the Intercontinental Championship is currently in the pits and assuming Wade Barrett gets on Raw or Smackdown any time soon, it’ll probably be to drop the belt.

Real American Top 10 – Potential Choices to replace John Laurinaitis as General Manager of Raw and / or Smackdown

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With the Era of “People Power” thankfully over at long last thanks to John Cena’s victory over Big Show at No Way Out and the subsequent firing of John Laurinaitis by Vince McMahon himself, there exists a power vacuum at the top of the WWE.  Will one individual be put in charge of both Raw and Smackdown or will we go back to having a separate General Manager for each show?  Could Teddy Long get his job back as Smackdown GM?  Could we see Vickie Guerrero returned to power?  Could one of GM Johnny’s former lackeys (David Otunga or Eve Torres) be promoted?  Will Vince or Triple H step up to retake responsibility for the shows?  Tonight, I assume we’re going to find out just how that power vacuum will be filled, but until then, here are some suggestions and possibilities courtesy of the Real American Top 10.

10) William Regal – Formerly the Commissioner of the Alliance during the Invasion storyline and also formerly the General Manager of Raw, Regal plays the part of authority figure pretty well and he also never fails to entertain when that authority is stripped away with him, usually taking his dignity with it.  During his last stint running Raw, he would attempt to manipulate the crowd by turning out to the power in the arena until they gave him the respect he felt he deserved.  Other than his one backstage segment on Raw last week where we were reminded of him being inducted into the dreaded “Kiss My Ass” club, he hasn’t been on Raw or Smackdown in a very long time and the last time I recall seeing him compete was in the “People Power” Battle Royal at Over the Limit.  Since his in-ring career may be winding down or finished as far as WWE is concerned, we could perhaps see him return to a position of authority.

9) Kevin Nash – He tweeted earlier today that he would be running Raw tonight, but I don’t really buy it.  He could be a solid option because he’d add another veteran presence and he is obviously still on good terms with the company after returning at the Royal Rumble last year and also being involved in a program with Triple H all the way from SummerSlam to TLC.

8) Ric Flair – Having recently ended his association with TNA, Flair is back on the market and I’ve heard rumors that Flair could be returning to WWE as a manager and his name has been linked with that of Dolph Ziggler.  However, he’s another solid choice to run a show and the young stars in WWE have always been able to benefit from having Naitch’s veteran presence in the locker room to go to for advice.  He also has been an authority figure in the past as a “Co-Owner” of the WWE following the end of the WCW / ECW Invasion storyline.

7) Mick Foley – Formerly the commissioner before the era of the brand extension and one of the best management personas in the history of the WWE.  Foley still makes regular appearances.

6) Stone Cold Steve Austin – He’s been Co-General Manager of Raw and easily the #1 ass-kicker in WWE history.  Nobody gets a louder ovation than when that glass shatters and Stone Cold appears.  We missed out on Austin this Wrestlemania season and I doubt we could be seeing him back on Raw on a regular basis in the near future with his time being taken up by his new show Ledneck Island and he’s still in demand for several B-movies a year.

5) Shane McMahon – Easily the most beloved on the McMahon family.  He has been a part of some of the most death defying stunts in the history of the WWE, from falling off the TitanTron at SummerSlam to putting Kane in a limo and sending him into a speeding crash into a tractor trailer.  It’s questionable whether or not Shane would ever come back to being a regular on screen talent, but I think we’d all love to have him back.

4) Shawn Michaels – The Heartbreak Kid shows up around Wrestlemania season every year, but surely that can’t be enough.  Like Foley, he’s been the commissioner before with some terrific results in the late 1990s when we all thought his career was over.  Since he returned in 2002, he’s firmly entrenched himself in the hearts and minds of fans forever, but he isn’t about to go back on his word and come out of retirement as a wrestler.  However, he would gladly be welcomed back with open arms to run the show.

3) John Bradshaw Layfield – The man knows money.  The man knows business.  The man knows wrestling.  If we can’t have him back at the announce desk, maybe a new job in management would be great.   However, I don’t think it’s very likely.

2) Paul Heyman – We’ve seen Heyman back recently as Brock Lesnar’s representative and he hasn’t lost a step on the mic, and as the former General Manager of Smackdown and with his experience innovating the business in ECW, he’s a very solid choice to lead Raw and / or Smackdown forward.

1) Edge – His surprise appearance to pump John Cena up for his match against Brock Lesnar before Extreme Rules was amazing.  The guy genuinely loves the business and he’s universally loved by the fans.  Since he suffered a career ending injury, running the show would be a great way for him to stay close to the business and continue to entertain, especially since he doesn’t seem to be swamped with acting jobs.

Chris Jericho: Does Lite Brite Cause Impotence?

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Okay, so at the beginning of the year, Chris Jericho made his triumphant return to the WWE.  Everybody was super excited.  We got his usual cryptic vignettes announcing a big return and because he’s done it twice in the past, everybody knew with absolute certainty that it would be Jericho.  Which, that’s still great – everybody was super excited.

Then the trouble started.

Jericho spent weeks without saying anything, parading around the ring like a dufus in what CM Punk so rightly dubbed a “stupid lite brite jacket”, and just wasting air time in general.  Then, everybody gets what they think is a big payoff when on the final Monday Night Raw before the Royal Rumble, he breaks his silence with one simple sentence.

“This Sunday at the Royal Rumble will be the end of the world as you know it.”

Great, so Jericho is going to shock everybody at the Royal Rumble and do something outstanding, right?  Guess again.  Jericho puts up a valiant effort, but in the end is Brogue Kicked out of the Rumble by Sheamus.  And it was a great final two for the Royal Rumble, the best since Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker tore the house down at the 2007 Royal Rumble.  However, Y2J had still not won anything since his return and apart from the Rumble, he had only wrestled a couple of times in tag matches that he walked out on without executing so much as a wrist lock.  That’s the first month of his career since his latest big return with absolutely nothing accomplished.

Move forward on the road to Wrestlemania XXVIII and Jericho finally picks up a victory over Kofi Kingston on Monday Night Raw.  Could he possibly be getting back on track?  Could he possibly be starting to once again back up his claims that he is the best in the world at what he does?  Think again because we move forward to the Elimination Chamber and while Jericho doesn’t get beat, he gets knocked out of the chamber by a kick to the back of the head and can’t return to the match.  He is once again denied any real credibility since his return to the WWE in January.

From there, Jericho would go on to win a ten man Battle Royal and earn the right to challenge CM Punk for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania XXVIII.  Great for Jericho, now he’s on the right track, right?  He’s got the ball rolling in the right direction, right?  Wrong.  Aside from yet another stray victory over Kofi Kingston on the last Smackdown before Wrestlemania, Jericho still didn’t win anything on his own.  Jericho did add a lot of heat to his rivalry against Punk with his claims that Punk’s father was a drunk, his sister was a substance abuser and Punk himself was born out of wedlock and thus the legal definition of a bastard.  He certainly showed that he hadn’t lost his ability to get under his opponent’s skin and deliver heated and shocking moments on the microphone.  However, all of that did nothing to reestablish the credibility of his tremendous wrestling prowess.

Then we get to Wrestlemania XXVIII and the stipulation is added that Jericho can win the title if Punk succumbs to his rage and gets disqualified.  Jericho can’t lose, right?  If that’s what you’re thinking, you haven’t been paying very close attention to the theme thus far.  Jericho then goes out and puts on a technical wrestling classic against Punk.  It was full full of great counter wrestling, reversals of fortune and false finishes.  Despite connecting with a Codebreaker and locking in the Walls of Jericho on multiple occasions, CM Punk managed to survive and keep the WWE Championship after forcing Jericho to submit to the Anaconda Vice.

It was no doubt a five-star classic, but yet again  Jericho found himself on the losing end.  The night after Wrestlemania XXVIII on Monday Night Raw, Jericho finally gets the better of Punk, but only after CM Punk was thrashed during his countout loss to Mark Henry.  Jericho took advantage of a weakened Punk and poured alcohol all over him and broke a liquor bottle over his head.  But he still didn’t pin Punk’s shoulders to the mat or those of anybody else that’s currently a top-tier talent in the WWE locker room.  So, what are we left with to draw our conclusions?  Jericho definitely still has the stuff to put on a great show.  He still has the ability to compete on the highest level with anybody in the locker room.  He’s good enough to still be in the Main Event, but the conclusion we’re evidently supposed to draw from Jericho’s performance over the past three months is that he’s apparently just not good enough to win.