Rather upside down start to 2016 as tomorrow I will head to Birmingham for shoulder surgery. Life’s full of set backs but #nevergiveup
— John Cena (@JohnCena) January 7, 2016
Before I get started, Cena’s injury, combined with the injuries of Rollins, Orton, Daniel Bryan & (to a lesser degree) Cesaro, Barrett etc. is the worst possible news for the WWE heading into WrestleMania season. To make matters worse, WWE is trying to sell out Cowboys Stadium, which means somehow getting 100,000+ people to buy tickets to an event without a plethora of top stars. Barring any other awful news, The Rock, Undertaker, Lesnar and active top stars will be in Dallas, but not having the others is going to hurt. With that said, just as Rollins and Orton’s injuries opened the door for top superstars to step up, Cena’s injury might do more than that. It’s no secret that the WWE is in both a creative and ratings slump, and most of the blame is falling on the shoulders of Vince McMahon. Luckily for McMahon, this is not unchartered territory.
The WWE went through a similar lull in the mid 90s, the only difference that time being the emergence of true competition in the form of WCW. McMahon, sick of falling behind in the ratings, gave his performers more control of their characters and allowed them to be edgier, and thus the most successful period in wrestling history was born. In 2016, there is no viable competition to the WWE. Companies like ROH, Lucha Underground and NJPW, while popular, cannot compete with the advertising and TV deals that WWE has. While competition might not force McMahon to make changes, injuries could. I’m not saying the WWE needs another Attitude Era, because while that was successful, the in ring product is far superior now. Guys getting hit in the head with chairs and girls walking around in bikinis worked in the 90s, but that time has come and passed. Now more than ever, the WWE needs major characters, whether baby face or villain, that fans can relate to. No more 50/50 booking. No more safety net. The WWE roster has never been deeper or more talented, and now is the time for McMahon to let the performers, the ones who have always bailed him out in the past, do their job. Monday’s Raw was a good start, with Del Rio and Rusev forming a solid tag team and the Social Outcasts (Heath Slater, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel & Adam Rose) getting a win AND some microphone time. McMahon doesn’t like to admit when things are going bad, but he’s done it before and adjusted, and a serious injury to the face of the WWE might just be exactly what needed to happen to shake things up.
For The First Time In History, The WWE Champion Will Defend His Title As An Entrant In The Royal Rumble Match #WWE
Title was vacant, no one has defended title in Rumble https://t.co/koo8Krai5M
— Lance Storm (@LanceStorm) January 5, 2016
I figured putting that tweet by Lance Storm would clear up any confusion people had with the headline, since yes, this is technically the first time the reigning WWE Champion is entering the Royal Rumble match with his title on the line. Ric Flair won the ’92 Rumble and the title, but as Mr. Serious Lance Storm points out, the title was vacant at the time. The development is part of the ongoing Authority/Roman Reigns angle, and I like it a lot. The WWE roster has been decimated by injuries at the worst possible time, so how do you make the Royal Rumble match more interesting? Make it for the WWE Championship. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few weeks we find out that Reigns has drawn the #1 entry (or another very low number) which would stack the odds even higher against him. So now that we know the stipulation, who will be the winner? I think if WWE is serious about pushing Reigns (which come on, they are) they have him lose the Rumble and earn a shot back at the title at WrestleMania. The only two people I can think of that WWE is willing to put in the main event of Mania against Reigns would be HHH and Brock Lesnar. They both have their reasons; HHH could return to avenge his beat down and Reigns terrorizing his family over the last few weeks & Lesnar could return to get back his title, which he never really lost. We’ll know after next week if Lesnar is going to enter the Rumble (which I’m 100% sure he will now that it’s for the title) and then the pieces will start to fall together. Either way, this year’s Royal Rumble and the next few weeks of WWE TV should be great.
WM – Harbaugh was so fired up about the possibility of WrestleMania coming back to Detroit that he called back into the radio show a few minutes after his original interview. He had an idea for a host.
“Why not the Big House?” he said. “Why not? 140,000 – I bet we could get in there for Wrestlemania. They’re trying to break the attendance record at Jerry Jones’ stadium in Dallas. (There’s) a great Canadian presence in wrestling. Why not Michigan and the Big House?”
Now that Minneapolis is just about officially off the board for WM 33 hosting duties, Michigan’s Big House sounds like a pretty appetizing option. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see 140,000 wrestling fans pack Michigan’s stadium plus a cameo from legitimate crazy man Jim Harbaugh. My life has been missing Harbaugh since he my left my 49ers for college football, but this might be the move to bring him back in. WWE is bold enough to make this happen, and now they have new face of Michigan on their side. Harbaugh/Dean Ambrose in a Japanese Death Match or we riot.
Vince McMahon Got Inducted Into The Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame Last Night & Wore A Powerful USA Tie
Vince McMahon was inducted into the Boys & Girls Club of America Hall of Fame last night, and while I haven’t seen any other pictures of guests from the event, it’s safe to say he was best dressed there. I’m pretty sure Vince sleeps in a suit, and while his sanity and vision can be questioned at times, his patriotism can not. This is the same guy who held the first public assembly two days after 9/11, and the same guy who created the Tribute to the Troops, where WWE superstars and Divas fly overseas to perform for the brave men women in our armed forces. Congrats to Vinnie Mac. I sincerely hope he did the VKM walk last night.
Dana White just shattered my heart into a million little pieces with a frozen sledgehammer. While Dana White seems pretty sure that Rousey will never fight in the WWE, I learned a long time ago to never doubt Vincent Kennedy McMahon. If he wants someone to appear at WrestleMania, you better believe that person will be there. While Rousey fighting an actual match while under contract with UFC was always a long shot, I still think she’ll play some kind of role at WrestleMania 32 in Dallas. The Rock wants it to happen. WWE wants it to happen. Even Ronda herself wants it to happen, so if the deal is ‘you can’t fight’, then I’m sure the WWE can figure out a way to use her in an effective way. After all, Vince always win.
The wrestling honcho tools around in a charcoal- gray Bentley Continental Coupe valued at $189,900, according to a 2013 Hearst Connecticut Media report.
Police sources said the car had a $100,000 sound system.
Apparently no one is safe in today’s society, but I’m glad these thieves came to their senses and ditched Vinnie Mac’s Bentley before things get out of hand. I have to assume the $100,000 stereo system and anything else of value have been stripped from the car, but at least it’s safe and sound. I feel like if Vince didn’t work 23 hours out of every day he might’ve been able to track his car down sooner, but his entire life is wrestling and any time not spent traveling or writing shows is probably spent pretending to sleep. In a way he’s the perfect person to steal a car from. He’s never home, and he’s so consumed by everything else in his life that he probably never even knew it was missing until well after the fact. With that said, I’d never root for anyone who steals from the Genetic Jackhammer. These thieves should burn in hell.
Side note: never in a million years would I think Vince would be the kind of guy to get a $100,000 stereo system. I can’t even picture him listening to music. Maybe that’s where he got the idea to have Wiz Khalifa on Raw last week? If that’s the case, it’s a blessing that his car got stolen.
The 2015 Royal Rumble is live on the WWE Network this Sunday in Philadelphia. As evidenced by Monday’s Raw in Dallas, a show is always better with a hot crowd, and Philly has always been known to bring their A game for big time shows. The Rumble is a unique pay per view, because it usually has two main events, and this Rumble is no different. This year’s event is headlined by a triple threat match for the WWE Championship and the Royal Rumble match itself. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Pre-Show: Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose vs. The New Day
I’ve never had such a ‘heart vs. brain’ debate for a pre show match like I do with this one. Like the rest of the WWE universe, I’m going to pretend Adam Rose doesn’t exist, but my heart is pulling for Kidd and Cesaro. There is no logical reason for them to win: they are two super talented guys thrown together as a tag team making the best of their situation, even though they’re paired up with a grown man who just got out of a feud with a bunny. The New Day just isn’t working as a hand clapping, sing along, matching outfit trio, but that doesn’t mean with a little tweak it can’t be effective. I’m just not the kind of guy who’s going to root against Kidd and Cesaro.
Prediction: The New Day, because we can’t have nice things.
Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins
I’m glad that this is a tag match, because with the two main events most likely eclipsing 90 minutes of ring time, there wouldn’t be enough room on the card for two divas matches. Nikki Bella is the Divas champion, but Paige arguably has the most momentum going into this match, and at some point the Bella’s will be splitting up again. No time like the present.
Prediction: Paige and Natalya, with Paige pinning or submitting Brie Bella.
The Ascension vs. The New Age Outlaws
I loved this segment from Monday’s Raw. The Ascension have been coming out for weeks and disrespecting classic tag teams, so when you have three of those tag teams in the same building, why not have them get a little revenge. I read a few Raw reviews that didn’t like this because The Ascension are young and The Outlaws are old, but here’s what happened: Ascension were outnumbered 7-2, they didn’t back down, and they got beat up a little by a team who were tag champs just last year. Now they get a two on two fight at the Royal Rumble and have a chance to beat an established tag team. Who else on the current roster could give The Ascension the ‘rub’ that the Outlaws can? WWE has messed up their tag division so bad that their aren’t any good teams for The Ascension to beat and look important.
Prediction: The Ascension. If the Outlaws win, disregard that last paragraph and the WWE are idiots.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (C) vs. The Miz & Mizdow
This feud could end at the Rumble or literally last forever. Either one wouldn’t surprise me. One of the Usos pinned Miz clean rather easily on Raw, and Miz and Mizdow teased some strife on Smackdown, so perhaps the Usos will retain and my long nightmare of the Usos as a tag team will continue. I would love to see Mizdow’s fake tag titles return, but I just don’t see it happening here. See above for how bad the WWE tag team division is, so even if Miz and Mizdow lose, I’m not sure who’s up next as #1 contenders. All I know is I’d rather set myself on fire than watch an Usos/New Day feud.
Prediction: The Usos retain, and we all die a little inside.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
Thank the good Lord that HHH put Seth Rollins in this match, because I don’t know if I’d be able to watch the third John Cena/Brock Lesnar match since August. This match could go a few ways. Firstly, John Cena is in the match. so there’s always that 99% chance that he’s going to win, especially with WrestleMania coming up. Secondly, you have Brock Lesnar, who we know is under contract until WrestleMania, and who is coming off his most dominant performance since Summerslam on Monday’s Raw. Third, you have the wildcard, Seth Rollins. I think Cena’s chances of winning, and the result of the Rumble match, hinge on WWE’s plans for Rusev. If Cena is next in line to face Rusev, then he probably doesn’t win here. Same goes for Daniel Bryan’s chances of winning the Rumble. If Bryan is up next for Rusev, then he probably doesn’t win the Rumble. Of all the three in this match, Cena, as always, has the best chance of winning. The theory of Brock retaining makes a lot of sense due to his contract status. Why keep Lesnar around for the next 2+ months unless you have him as your champion? Although he doesn’t appear on WWE TV as often as Cena or Rollins, his performance on Monday night gives him an incredible wave of momentum going into the Rumble. And then there’s the wildcard, Seth Rollins. I don’t think Rollins wins this match outright, but with that MITB briefcase in his possession, he could cash in after the match is over. Not to be overlooked is Paul Heyman, who many feel could switch allegiances and side with Rollins either before or after Lesnar’s WWE run is over.
Prediction: Brock retains, pinning Cena. Rollins cashes in on Brock, setting up a potential 3 or 4 way match at WrestleMania with the winner of the Rumble and possibly Cena. I can’t see Cena not being involved in back to back WrestleMania’s without being in the main event of either.
The Royal Rumble Match
This is a three or four horse race, so I’ll go over a few things I’m looking forward to and then break down who I think has the best chance of winning.
- Damien Mizdow eliminating himself (or not) after The Miz is eliminated. Mizdow has turned this throw away character into gold, and there aren’t many more ways he can imitate The Miz. I can easily picture a scenario in the Rumble where Miz is eliminated and Mizdow toys with the crowd and asks them what he should do, before eventually getting thrown out by someone else. This continues the dissension storyline and puts Mizdow over even more.
- Bray Wyatt’s entrance. A lot of the internet seems to have given up on Wyatt, but not me. He’s still young, he’s still unique and he’s finally on some kind of winning streak. While his momentum has wavered in the past, his “fireflies’ entrance has always been awesome. I’m expecting him to be #1 or #2 so we can get the full entrance.
- Kofi’s Rumble elimination spot. He’s not announced as an official participant yet, but he better be in the Rumble. Why else is he on the god damn roster except to find creative ways to avoid elimination and then get immediately eliminated? Don’t crush my dreams, WWE.
- The surprise entrants. I’m hoping they’re limited to 1 or 2, but a couple surprise entrants always makes the Rumble more fun. Orton? Bo Dallas? DDP? Sheamus? RVD? Ok, maybe more than one or two are ok.
I think the top four guys who have the best shot at winning are Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose & Randy Orton (if he returns). Reigns is most likely the favorite, but as I stated above, I think Daniel Bryan wins unless his next feud is with Rusev. If the WWE wants to do Rusev/Bryan at WrestleMania, he’s not winning, so if you’re a Daniel Bryan fan, hope WWE decides to go with Cena for Rusev’s next feud. Ambrose needs some momentum, and if Rollins somehow steals a win in the title match, any kind of reincarnation of the Ambrose/Rollins feud is ok in my book. If Orton returns, he’s returning to the main event scene, so you can’t rule him out, but he’s probably the least likely of the four.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan. The only way to top last year is to win the Rumble and beat all the top guys in the main event at WrestleMania. I think Bryan starts his redemption story Sunday night.
Stone Cold held a live podcast last night after Monday Night Raw on the WWE Network with a special guest, Vince McMahon. It ran about an hour and 10 minutes, and it was one of the best interviews you’re ever going to see. Vince answered every question Stone Cold threw out there, including a few that Vince has never addressed publicly before. If you didn’t watch it yet, you can here. If this doesn’t entice you to sign up for the WWE Network, then nothing will. Here are some notable tidbits:
Today’s superstars aren’t ambitious enough – Stone Cold asked Vince why he thinks there is a lack of star power in today’s WWE, and Vince said that compared to Stone Cold’s era, the guys and girls just aren’t ambitious enough, and don’t “reach for the brass ring.” He thinks that will change with guys like Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, as well some superstars in NXT.
He hopes to work with CM Punk again – Vince started off the CM Punk conversation with an apology to Punk concerning Punk getting the paperwork stating he was fired on his wedding day. Vince said that when situations like this happened in the past, he was able to work something out with the superstars, but once the lawyers get involved, it’s bad news. He said Punk getting the paperwork on his wedding day was purely a coincidence. Austin went over the time he left the company, and how Jim Ross played the middle man and got Vince and Stone Cold to sit down and hash things out. Vince said there is no such person to do that with him and Punk, which is part of the reason he still isn’t back.
Cesaro still doesn’t have ‘It’ – Stone Cold is a huge fan of Cesaro, and asked Vince why Cesaro hasn’t gotten his big push yet. Vince feels Cesaro is a world class athlete and great in the ring, but still lacks the charisma and verbal skills needed to get to the next level. Stone Cold questioned the booking of Cesaro following WM 30, and Vince stated they haven’t given up on him yet, but haven’t found the right spot to push him yet either.
Ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania – Vince was the one who made the call. He talked about how unselfish The Undertaker is, and how he wanted to give back to the business. Vince looked down the line at the next few WrestleMania’s and didn’t see anyone who would benefit from a victory over The Undertaker more than Brock would, so the call was made for Brock to go over.
Randy Savage is ‘absolutely’ going into the Hall of Fame – Vince didn’t give a specific timeframe, and they didn’t go too much into detail, but Savage will absolutely be in the WWE Hall of Fame. Stone Cold was pretty giddy about this news.
The rest of the interview focused on the Austin/McMahon dynamic, Stone Cold’s match at WM 13 with Bret Hart, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre match vs. Vince, Vince buying out the territories and WCW, Shane McMahon, Sting and a lot of other fun backstage stories. At one point Stone Cold said they were out of time and Vince told him I own the Network, and extended the interview for another 15 minutes. Stone Cold is a great interviewer and Vince came off as a guy who just loves to talk about the business. Give it a listen and subscribe to the Network!