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Thursday, 10 April 2014

An Open Letter on The Undertaker

An open letter to the wwe locker room and the online wrestling community.

On Sunday we saw the end of The Undertakers Streak at Wrestlemania. This dethroning will go down in history as the most shocking in Wrestlemania's history. The legacy of The Undertaker has grown into a phenomenon and it is something that WWE have really capitalised on and allowed to become larger than life, engrained in what Wrestlemania is. The Streak is the bedrock that Wrestlemania is built on. But not anymore. It would at least appear that we have seen the last of The Undertaker in ring. 

How did this character, no doubt one of the most captivating ever, come to be such a monster of wresting culture? Looking back to the early 90's to find The Undertaker in his debut, he was typical of the over stylised gimmicks we associate with that era; a gimmick which in every sense had no right to have such longevity. He is a product of his time. As a young star with a new and intriguing guise it is true that WWE had never put forward such a dark gimmick so forcefully but still he was a novelty act. He entered as a heel, but quickly the young fans turned him. His matches were slow matches more concerned with building character and angle than anything technical (much like the way Bray Wyatt has been coming over). However today we associate the wrestlers name with great wrestling and crafting classic matches.

The Undertaker didn't hold a lot of major titles in his career. And this is where we should take note. His place, barring a few major angles, was as a buffer to the main event. He was happy in this role and excelled in it. It wasn't until after the attitude era was over that Taker found himself as the go to guy for the World  Heavyweight Championship on the Smackdown brand. Undertaker evolved in ring technically and also as a character.  This evolution can be seen in imagery spanning his career, from working with Paul Bearer, to the Ministry of Darkness, to the American Badass to the Deadman. In short Undertaker's relevance today, and the importance of his loss at Wrestlemania XXX, couldn't have come to being without an understanding of place, hard work, a strong and consistent push from the company, a connection with fans; but overall working with Vince and meeting your goals. Do we need Cesaro to headline and hold titles to be relevant today? No. Do we need Bray Wyatt to put on technical masterpieces to hold his place? No. Do we need The Shield to split up and go solo so that they can carry the gold? Not really. We need wrestlers finding a spot or creating their own value in the product. I believe the current generation have the drive for this, and the fans are clearly thristy for it, time will tell. But if the current crop are to have that longevity they should study The Undertaker. Overnight superstars never work out in the long run, see Ryback and to some extent Goldberg for evidence. 

RIP Undertaker, your legacy is your own.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


I know wwe has done some strange comedy angles in its history but this?!

I suppose it shits all over this

Or this

But doesn't it slightly discredit this?!

Who cares anyway, I'm English.

Thursday, 28 March 2013


Its been a long time, many months in fact, but now, today and with new revitalised vision The Complex Heel makes his on line return after many months recovering from a dehabilitating lack of internet access. Coming to you today from an open access (and very costly) Internet connection. Much like The Rock, I’ll be doing this on a part time basis but at least I’m being upfront about it. In the time since my last blog entry there have been a few developments and changes in WWE. It was not the long ago, the night or so after last years Wrestlemania in fact, that I made some predictions with heightened excitement about the way the new generation roster was taking shape after the return of Brock Lesnar. CM Punk was midway through his dominant title reign (yet to turn heel!) and Giant Bernard had turned up in a Shredder costume. I wanted to like Albert in this role and was genuinely excited about his return and re debut but alas we all know what happened to that.

 My prediction upon writing that post was that the WWE was forming new shape under CM Punk and Brock Lesnar with Tensai being a force to be reckoned with. In a sense this new day does seem to have dawned in WWE, however it has not truly formed under Brock Lesnar, who has not been as present as expected, but under Paul Heyman. Heyman’s character in the last 12 months has been that of a catalyst, with Brock Lesnar lurking at various points in the background. Heyman while acting as Lesnars’ mouthpiece has almost become a symbol of Lesnar, almost filling in while he’s away. Where major storylines have been presented in the last few months Heyman has not been far removed, acting deliciously despicable while he’s at it. Perhaps it would be better put to suggest that Paul Heyman has been well placed by the WWE in the last year, which has been strong for Heyman, it was he who cemented CM Punk’s nasty genius persona which has provided a great deal of depth to the overall product in my opinion.

The notion of CM Punk at the top of WWE still excites me. The very idea that an Indy hero has managed to claw his way up the ranks and the catalyst of that (almost accidental) rise was a work turned shoot, which was aimed at WWE management including publicly calling Vince McMahon a bully. Only in an industry as ludicrous as professional wrestling could this win you a promotion. This is all storyline of course, never the less the potential of Punk was inevitable and we are seeing his influence spread through the ranks in a way not seen since the attitude era. We have had the rise of The Shield (Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose previous indy darlings in their own right), the continued push of Daniel Bryan (ROH alumni), the serious shove of Antonio Cesaro (yes another ROH alumni) and the almighty aerial pursuit of Ryback (another indy boy?). I’m a little surprised that the WWE haven’t brought Kassius Ohno up yet to be honest, especially with his well documented history with CM Punk and Antonio Cesaro, they could have easily given him a shot instead of whatever this Fandango shit is, which is embarrassing in that its already failed. (Editorial: possibly being saved as we speak by Y2J)

We’ve also seen continued development and focused attention on previously lack lustre areas such as the US title (more Antonio Cesaro), the tag titles (Daniel Bryan). The WWE are seriously developing and maintaining storylines and characters these days, even The Miz who was most at risk of being lost in the mix has maintained some relevance through a persistent chat show section and more recently an on screen allegiance with Ric Flair. I like that The Miz has started using the Figure Four Leglock and his in ring work when he does wrestle is consistent and improved. On top of all that Dolph Ziggler is on an ever-increasing rise, my god he’d better cash in that money in the bank briefcase at Wrestlemania.

And with that we are at Wrestlemania XXIX. I think they left the Roman numeral off the logo this year because they were worried it would confuse people, I can also imagine WWE wanting to hold back for a XXX logo that will represent the most significant Anniversary event in wrestling history.

I have to say this year’s card is AMAZING;

John Cena vs The Rock (WWE championship)

CM Punk vs The Undertaker

Brock Lesnar vs Triple H (Triple H’s career is on the line)

Ryback vs Mark Henry

Randy Orton, Sheamus and Big Show vs The Shield

Jack Swagger vs Alberto Del Rio (World Heavyweight Championship)

Daniel Bryan and Kane vs Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston (Tag Team Championship)

Chris Jericho vs Fandango (I’m not into this angle so much)

On top of that it looks likely that we will have an Intercontinental Championship match including The Miz and Wade Barrett and a Diva’s match most likely featuring AJ and that other one who’s the champion. That’s not to mention Antonio Cesaro the US champion, although this could be relegated to the pre show. 

Wrestlemania has been built well this year, with three high profile matches giving enormous gravity to the event. Though its slightly weird that 4 of the 6 wrestlers in these ‘main events’ are part timers, including the current WWE Champion The Rock, it seems the WWE have through this enabled themselves to take some risks, namely Jack Swagger, Fandango and Big E Langston – but particularly Fandango and Big E who are making in ring debuts at Wrestlemania. These decisions are surprising really, in the case of the tag match there are a number of ‘proper’ tag teams that are proven including Team Rhodes Scholars who are not only over as a top heel team but have bonded in a way not seen since Greg Valentine and The Honky Tonk Man. They were my pick for a tag team match at ‘mania, however I’d be interested in seeing the match as it stands and I’m glad they’ve found something for Ziggles to do. Its also strange that Y2J would make such a big deal about going after the Intercontinental title just to get side tracked. Having said that I did enjoy Jericho’s run down at the start of Raw, the likes of which almost never happen these days, the crowd are really behind Jericho at the moment!

Back on the subject of Jack Swagger quickly, I was caught off guard by Swagger’s new look and the surprise title match push. I found appeal in a wrestler presenting controversial race views and seemingly being successful at the same time, it goes against the modern WWE formula. It’s an interesting angle putting him against Del Rio and its working, however there is a danger. Many people and this is a problem in the United Kingdom as much as anywhere do actually carry these views. I heard USA chants on an episode of Raw a couple of weeks ago during Swagger’s assault of Ricardo Rodrigeuz. It’s a reverse ‘patriot’ angle where, for example, Hogan would beat up Iron Shiek and in an era where fans cheer for heels as loudly as for faces it could backfire. It would be very hard for WWE to turn Swagger face holding the views his character does and it’s a good character, but watching a racist beat up an ’immigrant’ to a backdrop of USA chants is just uncomfortable. Swagger has to get his comeuppance, or the WWE might find themselves in trouble.
The Shield (or Them Wolf Boys) have been dominant in many ways over the last few months and though their story has lost direction slightly in recent weeks (partly through lack of opponents) they remain an interesting entity. They do everything together in a three musketeers style ethos, but that makes booking them quite difficult. The thought did occur to me recently that a unique approach would be a whole new six man division with its own title and everything. The Shield are at a point where they want recognition and at this point they are undefeated, it would almost make sense for them to declare themselves champions and found a division, opening it up to challengers. That said in no way, shape or form do I want to see The Shield vs 3MB anytime soon. The match at Wrestlemania makes WWE sense, its classic super team vs major threat stuff and it’ll surely deliver on the night so I’m up for it. Rest in peace The Shield.
And on that note Rest In Peace CM Punk ‘nuff said.
Ryback vs Mark Henry is going to really excite me. A couple of years ago if you had told me I’d be cheering for Mark Henry I’d have asked you what you were on. Somehow he a believable dominant bad man, and its bloody brilliant. He’s just an angry man kickin’ everyone’s ass, but that’s going to change when Ryback gets put over at his first Mania. It’ll be a classic Wrestlemania style bout, one for the popcorn/event snack of your choice for sure.
The Rock offends me as WWE Champion, its not that he’s such a big star and its not even really that he’s a part time member of the roster (although I think its better if the champions there every week). In fact its quite retro having the WWE Champion turn up when he wants, Bruno Sammartino is being inducted to the Hall of fame this year so maybe that’s apt. No, The Rock offends me as champion because he just turned up, said he was having a title match, had a title match, lost it, told Vince McMahon to restart the match, won the title. Isn’t Vince McMahon’s favourite saying, ’No-one is bigger than the WWE’? Yeah right. It seems increasingly that those individual ‘superstars’ are calling the shots. Having said that, if your going to have The Rock v Cena again I suppose you might as well make it for the title, it makes sense, as does the business side of this little Wrestlemania affair. The build has a genuine big fight feel and the darker side of Cena seems to have been teased throughout the recent legend panel ‘press conference’. They will do great numbers at Mania and for anyone who isn’t really into that there are a number of big time stars wrestling in huge matches this year. It’s a great card, it gives up and coming wrestlers the exposure on such a grand stage that they and the WWE seem to desperately need. Old time fans tune in, there’s probably something here your going to like.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Mind The Gap

Its been a few weeks since I posted anything and this has been due to three reasons. Firstly I found myself working a lot more which has in turn sapped a lot of my energy, I was waiting to watch the Over The Limit PPV with my brother but then he didn't really get round to it and let me down meaning I was avoiding the internet as I REALLY hate spoilers and wanted to watch the CM Punk/D Bryan match without knowing the score, however after a week or so I realised increasingly that this match was the only one that truly held appeal (Although the Heavyweight title was pretty decent) - *Later upon learning Christian had returned to face Cody Rhodes I decided I'd changed my mind and that this one would also be great - it wasn't really, but that's another story.*

However there was a further reason that, in the time since WWE's recent PPV, I havn't posted. Another brother of mine recently donated me a Playstaion 3, a console I have never had much of a relationship with and with the loan of Assassin's Creed II, I have finally found Ezio Auditore and the joys of the Animus. To anyone who has never played a game in the series it focuses on a character called Desmond and his 'memories' of his Assassin Ancestors which he accesses through the means of a machine - the animus. Although the action and most of the story take place in the past, where the player is thrust into Renaissance Italy (at least in this second installment), it is the elements of the story that are clearly viewed by Desmond and the viewer (in the present) that hold the most interest and give the game its extra value. The clever idea in Assassin's Creed is that it emphasises the third person concept of the  'sandbox' genre in that we are controlling a character who is controlling a character, and in that sense Assassins Creed is a game within a game. The elements of puzzle solving in AC II is clearly a direct symbol of Desmond's quest to find the truth within the animus, where as the assassination missions and the gap jumping that fills the game play largely centres around the time period and the 'history' of Ezio's life.

So what I'm really trying to say is that playing this game has taken up a large portion of my increasingly limited free time, but I'm not gone. There is a strange thing however, about the 'gap'. Taking a break of even a few weeks from something that runs so intensely, can lead to a sense of distance - it happens with any serialised media - however it seems like in fact nothing has really changed.

- Kane is involved with the CM Punk/Daniel Bryan angle - I'm looking forward to one of them 'using' the Big Red Machine's aggression against the other.

- I've not really seen any Smackdown since OTL. But from what I can gather Christian is still IC Champ, I'm assuming he's in a rivalry with Cody Rhodes. I've got to say he's not living up all that Internet hype, his match at Wrestlemania 27 is still his crowning moment. Cody needs to step up.

- Sheamus vs Del Rio sounded pretty dull on paper, I like both guys but their rivalry seemed the weakest coming out of OTL. I suppose when both other guys get suspended that's what you get. Who could replace Del Rio if he really is out?

- I'm not even going to talk about John Cena. Except that for some reason this trend of the Cena Championhip being defended above the WWE Championship at every PPV is continuing. This time the Big Show takes on Mark Henry's most recent persona. If they threw in Brodus Clay to this match it would actually make it interesting.

Finally The Complex Heel has gone Twitter, you can follow me or I can follow you there @thecomplexheel 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

On the Rise - a spotlight on FCW and the emerging new stars, an homage to the spirit of Ring of Honor.

It seems that in times of transition between generations in the WWE we see a wealth of talent being ‘promoted’ if you will. It happened in the wake of WCW’s growth when WWE suddenly found its top talent poached. The answer at the time was to look at companies with cult followings and take their rising stars on to greater things, as was the case with ECW and the influx of stars like Tazz, The Dudley Boys etc. This trend however seemed to disappear for a while when WWE finally bought WCW and closed it down absorbing its top tier talent.

In recent years we have seen the WWE continually attempting to launch a new era (which has ultimately made that time into an era of its own right), beginning with Ruthless Aggression and the rise of Brock Lesner, and has ‘re-set’ every two to three years through various twists and tragedies. To list a few, the deaths of Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, the departure of Lesner, the later (semi)rise and departure of ‘next generation’ stars such as Ken Kennedy and Bobby Lashley, the departure and untimely death of Umaga and ultimately and most recently the failed re-launch of an ECW brand, based on the cult following of the original company, (it seems the WWE have managed to kill a lot of the buzz around this through its own show). All this while new competition would begin to rise in the shadows. Increasingly the crowd would begin to show their dissatisfaction with the top guy. I have had an ongoing interest, as a wrestling fan, in ‘who next?’ Who will lead the next generation of wrestlers? And I feel that the ongoing Internet disenchantment with, ‘ why aren’t they pushing ______?’ would seem to suggest I’m not the only one…

With that said it now surprises me that I never paid more attention to the indie circuit. However over the last few months it has felt increasingly that the WWE have decided to once again look to ‘the indies’ for inspiration. Namely Ring of Honor, and though there are young rising stars that have passed through other doors it would seem that the focus on ‘wrestlers wrestling’ is on the rise. The catalyst at the centre of this change has been CM Punk, who to my mind the current roster is been built around – at least at the lower main-event level. One time Ring of Honor favorite and still indie hero today, he has shot to the top of the WWE and dragged some other names with him and it has become apparent since the summer that a slight shift has taken place in regards to the roster and its direction. 

 Daniel Bryan (or for the purists Bryan Danielson), has quickly grown through the ranks in the E and has more or less followed CM Punk’s rise completely; starting out as a young faced fan favourite, who was dubbed as having little to no charisma (this still mystifies me, his very first appearance on WWE television was when asked by Matt Striker to cut a promo he snatched the mic and stearnly said, ‘You want me to cut a promo, you want me to be charismatic well how about this… YOU TAP, OR YOU SNAP!’ The crowd went wild and I knew in that second, with quite a lot of anticipation that he would be a World Champion in WWE). In the beginning I had no idea about his history with ROH and his huge Internet following. It’s funny how much people would complain about Michael Cole putting him down every week, the whole point of that angle was to make Daniel look better and Cole worse. He has gone on to show he is one of the best when it comes to heel mic work and his in ring skill is second to none. It interested me recently to hear that when Danielson left ROH certain fans wondered whether the company could go on without him. His World Heavyweight Title reign has been the most compelling in recent memory and his ‘YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!’ cries as he approaches the ring have Kurt Angle ‘you suck’ or Austin ‘What!?’ crowd chant potential – in fact all the way through the recent ROH 10th anniversary bash the NY crowd were hot with this as a chant. I love Daniel Bryan’s current persona, which to me is a perfect mix of Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and a little bit of Ric Flair’s cowardice. I could easily see Bryan as a future Undisputed Champion and a true threat to Punk.

NOTE: This section was written prior to Wrestlemania XXVIII, I have written in depth about my excitement about the way that ‘YES!’ has caught on and the impact that this is having on the wider industry. I also, like many, am glad he’s gotten his main event push proper – even if it did have a slight feeling that the section was rushed a little.

In the wake of the current rise of WWE stars to main event level opens up the vacuum of the mid card. Which in the very near future will be filled with more former ROH stars. Seth Rollins (formerly Tyler Black of ROH) has been touring with the main roster recently. Rollins currently holds the FCW championship where he shares the locker room with many other ex ROH faces, who I’ll get to later, and has proven himself as a fan favourite. From what I can gather he was top guy in ROH a couple of years ago and still carries a lot of anticipation leading into his expected WWE main roster promotion, even though we may have to wait a while. His memorable feuds include a run with Austin Aries (current TNA X-division champion) for the ROH championship. I’m excited to see this guy break through. He recently toured with the Smackdown roster where he had a match with Tyson Kidd 
And this is a match he had against Dean Ambrose, another one of FCW’s stand out characters who has had a lot of attention on the internet recently, from last year. This is a PPV quality match – in fact they get longer in the ring here than most main-eventers get at top WWE PPV’s – and the chemistry they have together is outstanding. As a side note I’d also point out that Ambrose is perfect as the creepy heel, but then again, you already know that. 

FCW as an entity is an interesting beast. It is technically the WWE training ground for future ‘superstars’ however it remains as a separate roster – something that, if NXT could take itself a bit more seriously could and looks like will, also begin to do, even if at times FCW in fact feels like a more well rounded product. FCW’s association with the WWE is publicly and intentionally un emphasised and while it is a far cry from the highest of production values bestowed upon ‘The End of an Era’ it is shaping up to be a fairly serious promotion. Even considering the recent set backs in the loss of its television deal and possible reforms, it bridges WWE’s more independently leaning audience and scratches their itch as well as teasing at the possible future. It’s main criticism has been that it schools too much, moulding young wrestlers into the WWE package and even Jake Roberts recently made some remark about the lack of characters in the WWE today saying, ‘They've all been just stirred up in a bucket and everybody's just the same.’ (Busted Open Interview: Jake Roberts Hosts: Doug Mortman and Dave LaGreca on Sirius 94 XM 208)

And while that may, to some extent be true, I feel that FCW is in a place it hasn’t necessarily been before. Its alumni are now prominent, established stars and their heritage is reaching new audience levels – This obviously goes hand in hand with the growth of independent audience generally. We are at a point where Ring of Honour will get an odd name drop from the WWE Champion, and this in turn makes the FCW roster look and feel more established as well, even if WWE insist on inventing new gimmicks for its incoming wrestlers. The Internet nearly exploded recently when Chris Hero recently joined his old Kings of Wrestling teammate Claudio Castagnoli on the FCW roster.

Hero, now renamed Kassius Ohno, has the same support group as Punk and Bryan, he also shares CM Punk’s Chicago heritage and carries the same fire that he brought in his early WWE presence. He has put a lot of work into his character already, only having been active with the organisation for a few weeks, which is impressive in itself. His gimmick centres around his initials K.O, which is self explanatory, the extra catch that makes it that much more interesting is the eccentric edge that he has given it. Kassius Ohno is Mick Foley mic tactics crossed with Chicago/CM Punk/ROH attitude. Below is a clip of his debut promo;
It’s the way he lingers on those words, it gives the whole thing a deliberate yet improvised sensation and in my mind is one of the best promo’s since Punk’s now infamous ‘shoot’. I have a feeling Ohno’s rise to the main roster will be faster than most; he really brings a lot of status with him.

Similarly Claudio Castagnoli, rebranded as the more manageable Antonio Cesaro, has been making his mark. Though I’ve admittedly had less involvement with Cesaro, he like Rollins has had a taste of the WWE undercard. His background has been across a variety of indy platforms and his in ring prowess in undeniable, as seen here in a triple threat match against Ohno and Bo Rotundo. 
 Both these guys seem to have really good singles characters, although a personal notion I would like to put out there would be NXT getting its act together and having a season of tag teams much like they did with the, ahem.. divas… But seriously, I feel an NXT tag team tournament would help rebuild the broken tag division, and having the reformed and aptly named Kings of Wrestling win it would up the anti in that division. However with last week’s Smackdown debut for Cesaro this looks unlikely. With a quick look at the way that he has been introduced, WWE are again hiding his immediate connection with the company pushing his European rugby player image which creates a distinction with his ‘real’ history that many smart fans will already know. I was pleased to see his ring attire cross over to his televised WWE debut however, and his in ring performance was pretty interesting by comparison to the three other squash match style intros the E have been parading of late.

I understand that while these guys all bound by their ROH background, the FCW roster is also housing wrestlers form other established organisations but there is something important happening (or has been happening) in ROH. I feel that the style that ROH embodies is shaping wrestling globally as ‘ROH originals’ have established themselves in the mainstream. Within ROH currently there are a number of inspiring performers (adversely to this blog’s suggestions actually housing ex WWE superstars Haas and Benjamin), including ‘Die Hard’ Eddie Edwards, Roderick Strong, and the current champ Davey Richards, who all seem great in the ring. However there is one man currently ruling the ROH roster. 

I didn’t want to like Kevin Steen - he is the ‘Internet Snark’ lived out as a wrestling character but his mic work, especially that seen on Young Wolves Rising (the 10th Anniversary show), steals the show. His wrestling skill also seems surprising although this is kept to a minimum for sensational over the top assaults. His use of props utilises ROH’s spirit of knowingness while also referencing the past – the ‘Jim Cornett’ with his tennis racket was/is great and Steen plays it with a sarcasm that comes off as wit, how threatening can someone make a tennis racket look? Well when Steen ambles around with it (displaying the face of current ROH Champion Davey Richards), it actually does appear to be menacing, but that comes down to the wrestlers demeanour and intent. The downside to Steen’s persona however in my mind is the nWo style anti establishment idea. I feel like his hatred is misplaced, why would he want to destroy ROH? Because he wants to re build it in his form… well on the other hand perhaps there is something to that. For all that ROH has achieved it does feel as if its own prestige is outweighing it somehow. The top guys in the company don’t really carry the same explosive personality as other names to pass through the gates and although the in ring ability is stellar, the charisma does seem lacking; perhaps this is something that Steen’s persona alludes to? Regardless of all that Steen delivers on sheer creativity and although I cant quite see him with WWE I’m sure he will have a bright career (although I’m sure many said the same of Mick Foley). With the spotlight on Ring of Honor getting brighter, It seems that the company is attracting stars in their own right, the forthcoming PPV will see another return of in ring legends and fan favourites Lance Storm and ‘Fit’ Finley and with the looming title match between Davey Richards and Kevin Steen perhaps its time once again for personality to rule in the Ring.
The influence that CM Punk and now Daniel Bryan have within the WWE will undoubtedly alter the companies direction somewhat, and though its obvious that the E are pushing their internationality through the richness of the current roster, it should be noted that the characters being produced are either informed by the WWE Champion’s connections – see the emergence of Cesaro, or by his influences – see Lord Tensai; if CM Punk is the Bret Hart of his era then Tensai would surely be his Yokozuna (by extension in this scenario John Cena would be Hulk Hogan returning at Wrestlemania to ruin the event). There are a number of ROH alumni leading the pack, and though it’s true that TNA got there first with Hernandez, Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, WWE seem to be utilising the talent better now. Perhaps this next three weeks will be memorable in more ways than one, there are potentially two era defining main event matches running parallel to one another, ten years in the making, at one end of the scale the WWE championship between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan at the other the ROH Championship between Davey Richards and Kevin Steen. Ten years in the making, two new era’s rising.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Angry Wrestler

Poor The Miz

With this Sunday seeing The Miz relegated to the pre show for Extreme Rules, where does this leave the former 'Most Must See WWE Champion in History'? Everything seemed to be in place for Miz and he was heading to the magical face of the WWE position. Then CM Punk dropped his pipebomb and stole his spot. For a few months The Miz fought really hard to keep it, but in the end he just isn't as far developed as Punk. I actually feel that a CM Punk/Miz feud would be brilliant, but since we've probably had that feud in that Chris Jericho is basically the original Miz and the fact that The Miz has had the biggest de-push in history due to a couple of un-fortunate mistakes, this probably wont happen soon, if ever. 
It's a shame because he was involved in some pretty entertaining moments, (usually ending up with him being humiliated) including the genius idea of inverting the WWE logo to represent his name and in turn his own logo, (which in turn again is intrinsically tied into the WWE's  corporate logo and so on), which purely speaking is a first, and a threatening repertoire that echoed Marvel Comics character Arcade, who creates fun-house/arcade game assault courses for his opponents, during his Cena feud. I think that the 'Face Turn' that was expected by some at Wrestlemania XXVIII was a golden opportunity to keep The Miz relevant in the imminent shift in focus toward new(old) faces (but then I suppose they'd only just made a point of him being conniving and nasty in wanting to team with Daniel Bryan). I also think his victory for Team Johnny in the same moment should have been the ideal way of keeping The Miz a Heel but remain relevant in a 'Team Johnny Faction/Corporation' kind of way (but then I suppose they'd only just made a point of him being untrustworthy in a team scenario).

I really hope that The Miz runs in on the WHC match or something, because it would instantly remind people he's a good prospect. And seeing as they missed his face turn perhaps he should go even further down the ridiculously self confident, arrogant and bullyish yet ultimately unskilled and cowardly while actually being a mastermind route.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The New Landscape

With the shock of Brock Lesner’s return to WWE wearing off and mass anticipation as to what his next move will be. I thought I’d take this opportunity to have a look at the scope the WWE currently has and where this all fits into ‘People Power’.

I think the best way to sum up the significance of Brock Lesner’s return to WWE is simple – listen to the enormous crowd reaction upon his entrance last Monday. The last few years have seen the WWE attempting to ‘relaunch’, so to speak. We have seen various young stars emerge and then disappear again – either on to MMA (following in Lesner’s shoes) or on to another company (see Ken Kennedy), the other option has been somewhat more depressing with the ever on going number of deaths that have occurred in the last 15 years. It is certainly true that Lesner has broken the mould, in that he made such a lasting impact on WWE in such a short time (roughly 2 years) and went on to become a bigger star in UFC, the rise of which has in fact been the biggest rival to WWE in recent times. His return to WWE opens up a massive potential fan base, many of who before now might have dismissed wrestling as an immature package and further possibly, is the notion that there may be a draw for other MMA stars to convert working the aspiration ladder in reverse. As a manifesto for a new era in WWE it has to be said that Lesner was the exclamation point and where I would have said previously that the roster would be built around CM Punk it would appear that, in fact, it will be built around Lesner, at least in the short term. 
 Of course this roster in itself is altering, I would still invest a lot in CM Punk. He is at the centre of everything in the WWE (literally actually always ‘headlining’ the first hour of Raw), and still champion. It’s also clear that he will be sticking around for a while – I think WWE will be giving him a lot of exposure in the months to come and with rumours circulating that he could face Steve Austin at next years Wrestlemania I don’t think any fans should panic just yet, he is a star that will continue to rise. However, in my mind he could do with a strong Wrestlemania feud for the title with someone of his own generation.

This week has seen the introduction of a number of ‘new’ superstars who will surely be major players, one of whom possibly more so (or at least more quickly), than others. Lord Tensai (Prince Albert/A-Train/Giant Bernard) had less build than Jericho, Sin Cara and Kharma, however he somehow feels more important for it. I imagine that his push will be into the WWE title picture and the clue that he may go into a feud with Punk came when Big Johnny said Punk would be facing a natural disaster soon. I saw someone write somewhere that Tensai is Japanese for natural disaster, it isn’t, it means Genius or Prodigy. But I still think a Punk/Tensai feud would be a classic. For what Lord Tensai actually brings, he is important. After he left WWE he would go on to become a major star in Japan under his Giant Bernard gimmick, a name that is so over the top and cartoonish it seems that WWE decided to go that way with his attire, which comes over as a Shinobi boss or something, but either way he’s great in ring and will draw some attention from the East. It is also interesting that  the E are referencing his past and the fact he has been away returning as the monster, think Apocalypse Now or The Deer Hunter or Homeland as a wrestling character and I think you'll agree  it a promising concept, there's a great article on Tensai here which expands on this a little.  I just hope he changes his face paint a bit – I’m not a fan of his run-over-with-a-tyre look. 
With all this said it does beg the question what of the likes of The Miz? The mainevent card seems like it may be splitting off – I believe that the WWE championship will now represent the ‘upper mainevent’, while the WHC will represent the ‘lower mainevent’ and as a result may have quite a crowd targeting it. I think while CM Punk and Randy Orton may float between the two sections, with John Cena, Lesner, Tensai and later, The Rock, making up the ‘top card’, it will be Sheamus, Del Rio, Miz, Barrett, Rhodes, Henry, Christian and D.Bryan all gunning for the WHC, which is a much richer scene than we’re used to.

There are two honourable mentions before I close this down and that is to just once more speak of Daniel Bryan’s breakout, he could be big news at this rate. And finally the debut (at least gimmick wise) or Ryback who was Goldberging all over the place on Smackdown! Major face push to the midcard anyone? With the introduction of a couple of big time names the WWE has enriched its roster and officially entered a new era, the only question left now is with a roster this stacked where are all these new FCW faces going to fit?