|Has Cena's uncanny durability hurt WWE?|
Photo Credit: WWE.com
First up this week, @__NickX asks if by staying healthy and dedicated to wrestling if John Cena is accidentally interfering with the WWE star-making process, or if no one has deserved the baton.
I think the above is an interesting theory. Cena has not only been unusually healthy for his career, but when he HAS been out with injury, his nearly Wolverine-levels of healing factor have had him back in the lineup WAY ahead of schedule. The man is either a wizard or he has unlocked the secrets to better living, be it through natural means or chemistry. I am not one to judge. Of course, injuries and malaise have been the key to elevation in wrestling history, even when WWE wasn't the only game in town. Hulk Hogan laying low due to steroids gave us Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels' back going FUBAR facilitated the rise of Steve Austin, whose neck problems gave us The Rock and Triple H. Cena himself was the beneficiary of Brock Lesnar saying "FUCK YOU" to the WWE's tortuous road schedule.
Of course, Cena's monopoly on airtime isn't necessarily the only thing keeping other guys from emerging. Outside of that one story Chris Jericho and Edge related on the former's podcast about Cena nixing the SummerSlam angle with the Nexus (something they said Cena regretted almost immediately), he doesn't seem like the kind of guy who plays politics inasmuch as when Vince McMahon tells him he's going over, he's not really going to fight it. Then again, I'm not backstage. I don't know. However, I look at the people WWE has put in the main event with him at the time, and none of them really have deserved the baton until right about now, really. And to Cena's credit, he's done business with guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan.
Wrestling is a strange business. Sometimes, you think you know the score, but in reality, what is going on can be too hard to understand for even the savviest, most plugged-in minds. Things tend to work out for the best if the right conditions are in place for it. Right now, WWE is about ready to launch the Network, and generally has people in charge who know how the wrestling and entertainment businesses work. The inmates aren't running the asylum like in WCW, the boss isn't a crook like in ECW, and nothing bigger is coming to swallow them up like McMahon did to the territories. When Cena is ready to hand over or at least share the spotlight, it'll happen. How it will happen, I'm not sure. I hope to God that the moment is this year with Daniel Bryan getting a nuclear WrestleMania moment, but at this point, who the hell knows?
Next up, @PhilaBCoulter wants to know the best ending to a Royal Rumble match.
My favorite Rumble moment ever is also my favorite finish. The 2011, infamous 40-man Rumble saw Alberto del Rio apparently claim victory, except one guy was left who never went over the top rope. When Santino Marella skulked back into the ring, the buzz in the crowd rose to epic levels, and then when he dumped del Rio over the top, I popped huge along with the TD Garden. Of course, del Rio skinned the cat and interrupted the Santino Invisible Trombone to win his Rumble, but the false finish was more exciting than most definitive finishes, even the ones that were set up to elicit confusion and controversy.
My bro from grade school and certified president of the Andy Reid Haters Club @Bdonn120 wants my prediction on the Rumble winner.
Oh man, I've skated on doing this for too long, haven't I? I even managed not to make a prediction in my Rumble preview yesterday. Making the call on this Rumble is hard because the winner is so obvious that I think it's a misdirection. They've telegraphed Batista winning on short notice so hard that I almost feel like they're setting him up to be epically upset. Whether Alberto del Rio or Daniel Bryan or even an illegal Randy Orton eliminates him, I feel like someone's tossing him over the top. So that leaves Bryan and the field as the winner.
I'm also convinced that Brock Lesnar is going to be WWE Champion at WrestleMania, so that might alleviate the strain of needing someone to be entangled with Orton (or even Cena). So who's the one to face Lesnar for the strap? Undertaker is now in play, since WWE has wanted to make that match happen forever. However, you'd be left with a part-timer as Champion after Mania, which means someone is losing the strap at Extreme Rules, Undertaker is ready to work a semi-fulltime schedule again, or Lesnar's got a bunch of secret dates on his contract that no one knows about. Cody Rhodes only makes sense if Orton's the Champion, and I guess that could make sense. However, they seem hell-bent on having Rhodes/Goldust sooner rather than later.
So, all the above only leaves two viable choices in mind: Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns. With those two in mind, I think Reigns has the best shot of winning. They seem to want to break The Shield up, and the best way to do it would be one guy winning at the expense of the other two. So yeah, put me down for Roman Reigns.
Prominent Pitt Panther/Philly bro @HummerX asks if I'd be okay with Sting coming into WWE to induct RoboCop to the Hall of Fame.
I'd be down for that. Obviously, RoboCop is actually relevant this year too!
In all seriousness, for as much as I'm sick of Sting rumors and don't like the performer he is now, I guess if he got to WWE, I'd accept it and see where he'd go. I just don't think he HAS to work the Undertaker. Hell, I don't even know where that expectation came from. Did I miss something? But I guess from McMahon's viewpoint, Sting's the last piece of the WCW puzzle for him, the last domino to fall for him to claim total victory. Unless Sting's super-adamant about not working for WWE, it's probably gonna happen. Might as well accept the eventuality.
@Doc_Ruiz2012 wants my preference: Xavier Woods or Sting vs. Undertaker this year?
Xavier Woods, in a walk! I do have to wonder what Woods did to you to garner such hate every week. Did he kick your puppy? Not that I'm complaining. These questions are the best.
Basenji enthusiast @OhWowHmm asks how I pick a good barber.
For me, picking a barber is really not that hard because I only get the cheapest of cheap haircuts, the buzzcut. But then again, my childhood barber even fucked that up, mainly because he was a drunkard. But he did have old Pro Wrestling Illustrated mags at his shop, so I couldn't complain.
Anyway, the most important thing to consider is whether you just wanna get in and get out, or whether you like the whole communal aspect of being at the barbershop and shooting the shit with the patrons/barbers. I personally just wanna get in and get out, but I'm a bit on the antisocial side. Anyway, if you fuck up a fade or a buzz, then you're out. If you charge more than ten bucks for a buzz, you're out. Other than that, I'm easy.
Benevolent (for now) cybernetic Twitter interface @robot_hammer wants me to rank the Rocky movies from best to least best.
For the record, I have not seen Rocky Balboa yet.
1. Rocky - Can't fuck with a classic.
2. Rocky 3 - Clubber Lang was a bad mother, but the movie gets two bests for the Hulk Hogan cameo and for it being the best gay romance film ever.
3. Rocky 4 - Sure, the patriotism angle was heavy-handed, but nothing is more badass than Ivan Drago saying "If he dies, he dies." NOTHING.
4. Rocky 2 - Totally shit all over the ending of the first. In fact, I don't think they should've made any sequels to the first one, but whatever.
5. Rocky 5 - "RANTLERS! UNBELIEVABLE!"
And as for @justastupidmark's supplemental question, while Clubber Lang was inarguably the cooler antagonist, Ivan Drago would eat him for lunch and pick his teeth with the bones.
Dirty Dirty Sheets site shutterbug Greg Davis asks my thoughts on AAW getting on a Roku channel.
Not only do I think AAW is making the right move, they are blazing a trail. More indie promotions of successful means should try getting on Roku channels, or more specifically, they should try to get on the same channel. Roku and streaming is the wave of the future, and it will not only be the revolution for WWE, but for indie promotions too. The art of wrestling is great even if it just is cultivated in localities isolated from the audience at large, but it spreads better when exposed to more people.
Burger enthusiast @georgemucus asks which wrestler would do justice in the Terry Funk role if a remake of Roadhouse were ever to come to pass.
Many moons have passed since I've seen Roadhouse, but the Funker is a wholly unique character in wrestling history. The most like him now is probably Eddie Kingston, so let's go with the War King.
The Internet's foremost fanatic for Square Enix, @AeonsTorn, asks who has the best powerbomb of all-time.
So many great wrestlers have broken out terrific powerbombs. Do I go with Jushin Thunder Liger, for whom the sitout variant is named? What about Kevin Nash's iconic-for-its-laziness jackknife? Big Van Vader? Toshiaki Kawada? All of them have wonderful bombs, but my pick is actually the Undertaker. The Last Ride is one of the most visually impressive bombs ever due to the last ditch thrust into the air at the peak and the impact with which Taker throws the victim down. If any move had to replace the Tombstone Piledriver for a short while, the Last Ride was the move to do it.
@thebatmanny wants to know my favorite match finish ever.
I know the answer is cliche, but WrestleMania 13, Steve Austin bleeding like a stuck pig in the Sharpshooter. Ken Shamrock asked him if he wanted to give up, but he refused to answer. Bret Hart wrenched back without remorse, but Austin wouldn't relent. Finally, he passed out. Shamrock had no other choice but to call the match, even though Austin never said "I quit." It was the perfect storm of tension, drama, and leaving both men in better shape than they were when they entered the ring.
@harpm2012 wants to know if I think Daniel Bryan will be in the Royal Rumble.
At this point, I don't know. The question is, "Should he be in the Rumble if he's not going to win?" Both Joe Roche and Brandon Stroud made the point that if Bryan is in the match and doesn't win, he overshadows whoever does end up the lone guy standing. But then again, what if the rumors of Bryan taking on Sheamus at Mania are true? Wouldn't the best launching point for that feud being Sheamus eliminating Bryan, especially if the mode of elimination was illegal the way Hulk Hogan dropped Sid Justice in 1992? I hate to answer a question with a cop-out "I don't know," but honestly, I just don't know.
@OkoriWadsworth asks what my favorite multi-match series of all-time is.
I know this a neophytic answer, but I wasn't around to watch a lot of the great match series from back in the day like Ric Flair/Ricky Steamboat. With that in mind, I pick John Cena vs. CM Punk. Every time they've gotten in the ring with each other, whether it was before the pipe bomb when Cena would give Punk an inordinate amount of offense, or afterwards when they'd get broadways on pay-per-view, they have delivered for me. Even the infamous match that preceded the formation of the Nexus was really good before the mass interruption. I could watch these two wrestle forever and not get tired of them.
Royal Rumble statistician Scott T. Holland asks if the WWE Network will change fundamentally how WrestleMania XXX is constructed, or whether it'll take time for Vince McMahon and WWE Creative to adjust.
Common logic seems to dictate that WWE can and should be more experimental with their pay-per-view lineups, who is on top, and who gets the shots at those on top in "off" months. However, they still need to keep fishing for subscribers and keeping the ones they get after the six month mandatory period is up. So, while I think they'll switch some kinks up, I'm not sure the formulas will change as drastically as you're thinking they could. However, they would be making a mistake if they DIDN'T experiment a little.
Outspoken Tumblr/Twitter maven @over_as_hell asks whether I prefer corned beef or pastrami on my Reuben.
I'm gonna make a confession here that might shock and awe y'all. I've never had a Reuben. I have an excuse though. As far as sandwiches go, Philly is less a Jewish deli town and more an Italian hoagie city. So I grew up mostly eating salami, capicola, and provolone with light oil on a long roll rather than some kind of beef with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss on rye. Personally, I think sauerkraut is gross anyway, so if I did get one, I'd hold the stupid cabbage shit. But I have had both corned beef and pastrami, and between the two, I'd go pastrami. I like black pepper, what can I say?
The folks over at the Bushido Blog want to know if unifying the titles was a ploy to get some credibility to the World Heavyweight Championship for a split later on down the line.
I wouldn't put that as a ploy past WWE, but remember, the real reason behind creating the second belt anyway was because of the brand split. I don't think RAW and Smackdown are becoming separate entities again, which gives them no narrative reason to split the titles. Again, I don't think they would split the titles, but I wouldn't be completely shocked if they did. WWE is a strange company sometimes.
HEIST bro and the world's most tolerable Duke fan @mdetura asks what gimmick match I'd like to see a pay-per-view centered around.
WWE has never done one of these before, but I would totally be all about them centering an event around the torneo cibernetico. For those who don't know, the match is an eight-on-eight tag match with a specific "batting order." It is an elimination match, and the twist is that it doesn't end until one person is left standing. So if one team is left with three guys left, they all battle it out until one is the sole survivor. Especially now that WWE has so many wrestlers who are in the main event or on the cusp of it, the time for a cibernetico has never been better.
Serial favoriter @GayWrestlingFan asks my favorite non-corgi dog breed.
Another truth bomb over here - the corgi is not my favorite dog breed. They're up there, and the proliferation of corgi fandom has made it easy for me to spam them. But my favorite dog breed is the English bulldog. I mean look at this one, LOOK AT IT:
And these two!
HOW CAN YOU STAND IN THE FACE OF SUCH CUTE?
Freelance journalist extraordinaire Ryan Petzar wants to know why he's so pumped for the next two months of wrestling.
The easy answer is that WrestleMania season is when WWE is at its best, but this year, at least right now, the stakes are raised even higher. The roster is rife with possibility, and literally zero WrestleMania matches are set in stone. The only match that has been teased so far is a potential Randy Orton/Batista collision, but even that one could be a fakeout, seeing as Orton is entangled with so many others on the roster now, and Batista has also had beefs hinted at with Brock Lesnar and outright stated with Alberto del Rio.
But in addition to the Mania build, so many things are happening in the world of independent wrestling that need attention. Right now is the best time to expand horizons for fans who may only pay attention to WWE. For example, National Pro Wrestling Day is happening NEXT SATURDAY. AJ Styles and Chris Hero are doing competing dream match tours of the indies, and they'll criss-cross tomorrow in Canada. Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is always a great follow, and their DDT4 tag tournament is going down on Friday. And WrestleMania weekend is as much a canvas for the indies to display their wares as it is for WWE to open up shop. In fact, the WrestleCon supershow main event has been announced as Kevin Steen vs. Masato Tanaka. Verily, the next two months are going to be a buffet for wrestling fans (and that's not even taking into account the WWE NETWORK).
@JB_Shakes asks the eternal question: Should the Undertaker's Streak remain intact, or should it be broken?
What benefit would Taker have to keep the Streak into retirement? Wrestling isn't about accruing accolades. It never has been. The strong and the prestigious have always had to transfer their power and glory to the next guy. It's how the art keeps getting advanced. Undertaker no doubt should have to lay down before retiring, but the question would be to whom? I don't know the answer to that. I do know that him losing at Mania would be a huge deal and a boon for the guy who ends up doing it, which is why it has to be done.
Elvis-coiffed T. Rex @KevinNewburn wants to know how it's possible for a wrestler to age gracefully.
Sure, but the wrestler in question needs to know his role. For every Sting who continues to be in the main event against any notion of common sense (and to be fair, how much of that is him and how much of it is TNA?), a Terry Funk exists who was in main events as an older man for smaller companies and continued to excel. Ultimately, the wrestler needs to know when to hang 'em up, but some wrestlers can go longer than others. For example, I have no doubt that Bruno Sammartino could probably work a short, old-school match today, but could he be in a main event program? Hell no. Wrestling is great in that age really is nothing but a number, and knowing who is too old usually is seeing the results in the ring. Wrestling is art, and judging art is empirical.
Taco connoisseur @NDEddieMac asks if any possibility exists that The Shield DOESN'T break up at the Rumble.
While I think the final chisel shot in the fissure emerging in the group will come tomorrow, they can delay the total breakage of the group. Maybe they tease the group imploding upon itself but not do it until Elimination Chamber. Maybe the break comes at Mania. Maybe it doesn't come at all, and they continue on. Of course, in that last scenario, I'm a billionaire, and Triple H spends hours a day self-flagellating like a medieval monk. But yeah, WWE storytelling can be erratic in its predictability at times. I would expect the final implosion to happen at the Rumble, but I wouldn't write it down in pen.
Finally, Rowdy N'awlins bro @hakimdropsball asks how a small indie promotion can not only survive but thrive.
The whole key to success is knowing your boundaries. Pro Wrestling Freedom is a promotion in Kentucky that has only gotten bigger reach in recent months thanks to being partnered with some well-known indie wrestling sites. But they were getting boffo live gates before the networking began because they didn't have any pretenses of being more than a local promotion that utilized mostly local talent with some imports like Chuck Taylor, Mickie Knuckles, and Kyle Matthews (and even those three are still local... the furthest import is Matthews, who operates mainly in Georgia). Basically, if you know your limits and know how to grow logically, then I find no reason why an indie promotion can't stay open for a long time, make a lot of money, and draw a lot of fans.