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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The Return of Rob Van Dam

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Everybody right now is super excited that Rob Van Dam is returning to the WWE at Money in the Bank on July 14 in Philadelphia.  It’s great news and he should put on a hell of a show, but is he going to be on the road day in and day out or is he going to wrestle a schedule similar to that of Brock Lesnar?

I think he pretty much has to be working a limited schedule based on past experience because we are all well aware of his exploits in the field of recreational marijuana.  It’s what had him moving out the door back in 2006 when an arrest along with Sabu.  RVD was the WWE and ECW dual champion at the time and the incident led to him promptly dropping the two titles on back-to-back nights almost 7 years ago to the date to Edge and Big Show respectively.

If he comes back full time, I think it’s only a matter of time until he faces and weed-induced suspension under the WWE’s Wellness Policy and maybe gets himself shuffled right back out the door.  A limited schedule, meaning limited travel and limited wear and tear on his body probably lessens that possibility.  And sure, he’s only 42, but he’s been a professional wrestler for almost a quarter of a century now (24 years, he was a 7-year veteran before debuting in ECW in 1996) and a light schedule is never a bad idea for a guy that has been wrestling that long.

And for those of you that want to point out that after Jack Swagger had his weed-related issues, he still got to compete in a title match at Wrestlemania and continue working for another couple of months afterward, I think he got very lucky on that count because the arrest was enough for him to be suspended immediately under the Wellness Policy in lieu of a positive drug test.  However, being that WWE had already started building toward the Fox News type of storyline with Swagger and World Champion Alberto Del Rio and not having anybody else that they could fit in there and have that kind of supposedly edgy storyline, it feels like they deferred letting the ax fall on Swagger until after that storyline had run it’s course.  Notice, he hasn’t been around since Extreme Rules almost 1 1/2 months ago.  Maybe it’s kind of convenient that he “got injured” now when he was probably destined for a few months on the bench anyway.  So, I wouldn’t be too inclined to think that the treatment of Swagger is a sign that RVD’s drug violations, should they come up again, wouldn’t be an issue.  However, I’m sure that all of that was discussed with him before he agreed to come back.

But where does he fit in after Money in the Bank?  I’m just going to go ahead and assume that he does not win the match that they are billing as “Money in the Bank All-Stars” against CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kane and Christian.  Four guys are coming into that match having already won a Money in the Bank briefcase (Daniel Bryan, Kane, Rob Van Dam and CM Punk twice) and I think if anybody is going to be another repeat winner, it will either be Bryan or Punk and not a guy who has been working for another company for the past 3 years and has proven to be unreliable in the past.  My best guess for what happens to RVD is that he gets sucked into a rivalry with the Shield.  The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Ryback and John Cena stuff has pretty much been done to death and they are surely moving on and RVD might be an ideal target for the so-called “Hounds of Justice” to make even more of a name for themselves after they seemed destined to get a serious downgrade in competition and wrestle teams from the fledgling tag team division like The Usos regularly now.  I kind of expect them to select a new big-name target soon and Rob Van Dam on the night he makes his return to WWE just feels like the direction this would go next for them logically.

While I would greatly enjoy seeing RVD match up against guys that are going to give him guaranteed great matches like CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler – I’m intrigued at the possibility of seeing him work against some new blood as well and we’ve already seen that The Shield, Seth Rollins in particular, can put on great matches against guys that fly around the ring a lot like Daniel Bryan and RVD both tend to do.  And just maybe RVD can bring along a couple of other ECW alumni, even for one night only, to take on The Shield at SummerSlam.  RVD, Sabu & Tommy Dreamer vs. The Shield?  It’s not out of the question.

Five Things to Look Forward to in June 2013

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1) Money in the Bank Ladder Match announcements.  Really, the sooner that Payback has been and gone the better and we can get to the Money in the Bank Pay Per View on July 14 in Philadelphia.  Shortly after Payback, we should start finding out what the ladder matches are going to look like.  As for Payback, I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Ryback is just another monster heel that they built up just to feed him to John Cena.  It’s just another instance of Cena getting his ass kicked by the same guy in a month’s worth of attacks and then overcoming some injury or stipulation or both to win anyway on the Pay Per View, only this time he’s going to beat Ryback twice in the same night.  As for CM Punk and Chris Jericho, it should be one of the best matches of the year, but unless Punk turns face or they pull a switcharoo and Punk doesn’t show up and gets replaced by Brock Lesnar or Curtis Axel, I don’t see anything surprising coming from it.  They’ll put on a great show, but nothing with be gained or lost by either man.  95% chance that Punk shows up, teases being a face and cheats to beat Jericho, changing nothing and doing nothing we haven’t already seen Punk do to death all last year.  He was entertaining at times, even while beating the heel champion’s dead horse all the way up until he wasn’t the champion any more.  I’m expecting more of that, so if you are one of the sheep that thought what Punk was doing in the last half of 2012 was somehow cutting edge – well, then Payback should be all kinds of good news for you.

2) The Usos getting a push again in the tag team division.  I don’t expect them to unseat The Shield, but it’s nice to see them adding new bits and pieces to the gimmick and picking up wins because like the Prime Time Players, neither one of them is likely to ever have a shot as a singles wrestler in anything other than a job squad capacity.  I greatly enjoyed the Team Hell No storylines and still am as Daniel Bryan goes nuts on everybody trying to prove that he’s not the weak link, but I’m excited to potential see more traditional tag teams and tag team specialists getting more air time and doing something other than jobbing to pairs of singles wrestlers.

3) Dolph Ziggler coming back on TV.  I imagine if WWE knew he still wouldn’t be cleared to compete this far into the future, they would have stripped him of the title and put it on Del Rio or Swagger at Extreme Rules and allowed Ziggler to win it again when he came back.  A few days before Extreme Rules, he was still being advertised to appear in the Main Event of Monday Night Raw the night after Extreme Rules in a tag match with Ryback against Cena and Del Rio.  As we know, that didn’t happen and Ziggler has still not wrestled since Swagger screwed the pooch by kicking the champion in the head wrong and causing a concussion.  However, he will surely be back in time to defend the title against Del Rio at Payback and once he retains the belt, we can get a fresh program for him against somebody like Daniel Bryan or the Ziggler-Orton rivalry that was rumored to be happening leading into Wrestlemania 29, but never happened.  With the Daniel Bryan and AJ stuff to still draw on and still be entertaining, I’m thinking that’s the direction they end up going as soon as Ziggler finishes with Del Rio and Bryan gives up on trying to beat the Shield as a tag team.

4) This is actually something NOT to look forward to, but something that is going to happen anyway and that’s Fandango winning the Intercontinental Championship.  Brace yourselves now because the most mis-interpreted fan reaction we’ve seen in a while is going to culminate with Fandango winning the title in a Triple Threat Match against The Miz and Wade Barrett at Payback.  If you were one of the people that ragged on John Cena for only using five basic moves and you’re one of the idiots at the arenas “Fandangoing”, go ahead and pull out your hypocrite stamp and slam it into your forehead because other than his spin kick (which Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes both employ more exciting variations of), everything that Johnny Curtis has shown us thus far as Fandango has been incredibly basic.  And it doesn’t even take much talent since he has the ring apron to steady himself with before delivering it.  On top of that, Jericho is lucky he didn’t end up on the shelf next to Dolph Ziggler after all the times Fandango landed on the back of his head with his leg drop.

5) More Curtis Axel.  I’ve been down on the spawn of Mr. Perfect a bit because he just seems to fall flat charisma wise when you see him come up against Triple H and John Cena.  It doesn’t feel to me like he’s able to make the crowd care about him, which is probably why they put him with Paul Heyman to see if he could get over that way in the first place.  And others have agreed with me over in the I Love the WWE Facebook group (http://facebook.com/groups/ILoveDoubleDoubleE) that he just feels like he’s falling flat.  And getting wins over Cena by countout doesn’t seem to be helping and I don’t see how anybody could have thought that it would.  However, the kid can wrestle and I’ve compared him a few times stylistically to the late great “Ravashing” Rick Rude.  He just needs to find some of the Hennig family charisma that made his dad great and he really could be exciting to watch for years to come.

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.