Debut Of New Paul Heyman Client “Curtis Axel” Highlights Solid Episode of WWE Raw (May 20, 2013)

20130520_EP_LARGE_RAW_mainevent_LThroughout the day yesterday, and even last week as a result of an article on WWE.com, it was speculated that Paul Heyman was seeking a new client for his stable. Just before WWE Raw went on the air last night, Heyman took to the WWE app to announce that he was, if fact, in negotiations with a new client and that this Superstar would be revealed during the show. The Internet practically blew up with this news, because as one of the best managers in the history of professional wrestling, anyone who aligns himself with Paul Heyman is given instant credibility and an instant push to the top. The big question was whether it would be an established Superstar returning to the WWE (e.g., Rob Van Dam, Batista, Goldberg) or one of the NXT Superstars making their main roster debut. At 9:00pm it was revealed that the new client being aligned with Paul Heyman was a little from Column A (although not as big a name as those previously mentioned) and a little from Column B (although technically not a true rookie) – Joe Hennig.

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WWE Extreme Rules Could Be One Of The Best Pay-Per-Views Of The Year Thanks To Good Matches, Great Booking (May 20, 2013)

20130519_EP_LARGE_ER_cena_RGoing into last night’s WWE Extreme Rules pay-per-view, I was very skeptical of the show and had pretty low expectations due to what I perceived to be poor storylines and booking for most of the eight matches on the main card. However, when it was all said and done and the proverbial smoke cleared, I was not only extremely happy with the show as a whole but agreed with the endings for six of the eight matches (and completely understand why the other two ended the way they did) and almost halfway through the calendar year I think Extreme Rules could go down as being one of the best WWE PPV events of the entire year. In fact, WWE management and the creative team booked the ending to a majority of the matches so well that there is a lot of potential for real palpable improvement to the product going forward, assuming that the momentum from last night continues on WWE Raw and beyond.

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WWE Extreme Rules Preview & Predictions (May 19, 2013)

20130423_ExtremeRulesPutting the “Big Four” WWE pay-per-view events (Wrestlemania, SummerSlam, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series) off to the side, the Extreme Rules PPV is one of my two favorite PPV events of the remaining ones throughout the year (the other being Night of Champions). The reason for this is because, at its core, I love the concept – every match on the card (or, nearly every match as is the case this year) has some sort of “extreme” stipulation to it. The PPV was created due to the success of the revived ECW One Night Only shows, because while as a brand ECW could not succeed under the vision of Vince McMahon, the concept of an ECW-style PPV once a year certainly could and has. Unfortunately, weak storylines, an injury, what I assume will be poor booking and a main event that does not interest me in the slightest bit makes this year Extreme Rules PPV extremely underwhelming going in. Of course, WWE could prove me wrong and make me remove my foot from my mouth, but I am not holding my breath. However, I will still be watching the show tonight, so without further ado, here are my predictions:

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World Title Match Scrapped, Mid-Card Title Matches (Poorly) Added In Final WWE Raw Before Extreme Rules

20130513_RAW_Brock_TripleH_LARGE_LAs I have said many times in the past, the final WWE Raw before any pay-per-view is the company’s last chance to convince fans to purchase the event. Now, I am not one of those fans, as I will either order or go out to watch every single PPV that I can no matter how bad the card may be, but I am certainly in the minority given the buy rates for any PPV that is not one of the “big four” in recent years. As for the Extreme Rules PPV, which takes place this Sunday, it is one of my top two favorite WWE PPV shows outside of the big four, with the other being Night of Champions. Unfortunately, due to poor booking and a lack of storyline surrounding most of the matches, I am just not nearly as excited for Sunday’s PPV as I could be.

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WWE Raw Successfully Builds Momentum To Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View (May 6, 2013)

20130506_RAW_Ryback_Cena_LARGE_LWWE Raw last night was by no means epic but it was not a failure either. When it comes to WWE Raw, especially now that the show is three hours long, I consider the show to be successful if it keeps me entertained, stops me from falling asleep and makes me want to tune in the following week and/or watch the upcoming pay-per-view. In the case of last night’s show, this was accomplished – the show was good, had enough highlights spread throughout to keep my attention throughout and did a great job in promoting and furthering the storylines for Extreme Rules in two weeks. Heck, I’m just happy that the hotel I’m staying at in Ocean City for a conference for work gets the USA Network so I could watch it; I remember back in the day when I used to travel for a living when half the hotels I stayed in did not get TNN (formerly SpikeTV) which used to air WWE Raw.

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My Thoughts On The New Partnership Between WWE & Yahoo (May 3, 2013)

944543_10151421303951443_1603323680_nThere have been rumors of a pre-show for WWE Raw for nearly a year and the rumors finally came to fruition earlier this week with the announcement that WWE had formed a partnership with Yahoo which includes access to WWE archives, two weekly original programs and a pre-show before WWE Raw and the various pay-per-view events. In general I think the partnership is fine and that the new programming and products have the potential to be good, but it leaves a lot of questions up in the air, particularly as it pertains to the future of a WWE network. Also, I have a lot of concerns about the quality of the pre-show and what is not an incredible quantity of wrestling programming each week. Here are all of my concerns as they relate to this announcement:

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Great Wrestling, Gimmick Matches, Squashes, Tug-Of-War And A Dance-Off Highlight WWE Raw (April 29, 2013)

20130429_EP_LARGE_RAW_cena_RI will fully admit that I was completely distracted both before and during WWE Raw last night, having just brought home a new puppy on Saturday. His name is Boh and he is a goldendoodle, and at only 10 weeks old, all of my spare time since Saturday has been spent playing with him, cleaning up after him and watching him like a hawk to make sure he doesn’t find a corner to go to the bathroom in when we’re not watching. Yesterday was also his first visit to the vet, and by the time we got home from that and then walked, fed and walked him again, the show had already started. So between starting the show behind and having to pause it quite often in order to tend to the puppy, the show was going to have to be pretty epic to not only keep my attention but have me interested in it in general. While the show was by no means epic – and unfortunately featured a gimmick match, one squash match and even tug-of war dance contests – between two wrestling matches that were among the longest in the recent history of the show (and well worth the time given) and good storyline advancement heading into the Extreme Rules pay-per-view next month, the show definitely kept my attention and had me interested for almost the entire time.

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The Undertaker Returns, Fandango Fever Continues As WWE Raw Emanates From The United Kingdom (April 22, 2013)

20130422_RAW_Cena_Ryback_Promo_LARGE_LDid you ever think, either 10 years ago or a few months ago, that The Undertaker and Fandango would appear in the same sentence about anything related to professional wrestling? I certainly didn’t, but as WWE Raw emanated from the United Kingdom last night, they were certainly the highlights of an otherwise okay show. I was unable to watch the show live last night because we were out with my wife’s family celebrating her birthday and I did everything in my power to avoid both the spoilers online (because WWE was in the UK the show was technically not broadcast live) or the tweets coming in throughout the night. And while the show was not spectacular by any means, it was fun and entertaining enough that I am glad I waited (and stayed up well past my bedtime to watch it, something I am regretting sitting here at work today).

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Applauding The New WWE Divas Reality Show But Questioning The Participants (April 22, 2013)

20130419_Light_E_Divas_HOMEPAGEThe WWE announced today that they are partnering with the E! television channel to launch a new reality series this summer featuring the WWE Divas. The show will be called Total Divas and will apparently follow around Natalya Neidhart, The Bella Twins and Cameron & Naomi (The Funkadactyls), plus two Divas in the developmental system, from the night after Wrestlemania to whenever filming concludes. According to the press release, “the show will follow the lives of WWE’s women as they travel around the country, living, loving and competing along the way.” On the surface, I have made it well known in this blog that I am a huge fan of the Divas Division (and the Knockouts over on TNA, who week after week are often the only segments/matches worth watching on Impact Wrestling) and any exposure for the Divas of the WWE, both in the mainstream media and hopefully on WWE television itself, is a good thing. I have said many times that if given the right character and storylines, and the time on TV necessary to build feuds and create interest, the WWE Divas could actually become a draw for the company. Remember when Trish Stratus and Lita were in the main event of WWE Raw years ago, or when the Divas Championship was defended at Wrestlemania year after year and no one left their seats? Those moments can be recreated, and this reality show is a step in the right direction, but I’m afraid that the Divas being chosen are all wrong.

Natalya NeidhartNatalya Neidhart – While Natalya is easily the most technically gifted Diva in the entire WWE, and perhaps within any major wrestling promotion in the US, having been the only female graduate of the infamous Hart Dungeon. Unfortunately, over the last year her two gimmicks of note have been flatulence (she would fart during matches and then win when her opponents were recovering from the smell) and acting as a valet to The Great Khali (a complete waste of space who can barely walk to the ring let alone wrestle) and Hornswoggle (a little person who is nothing more than a comedic act). If her talents had been properly utilized since her debut (where in the heck was the promised reformation of the Hart Foundation with her cousins?) then she would be the ideal Diva for this new show. But given her track record, there is just no interest there.

maxim-australia-bella-twins-2The Bella Twins – Nikki & Brie Bella are two of the hottest female wrestlers walking the face of the Earth today and it certainly doesn’t hurt that they are twins and therefore the object of every male’s fantasy. However, technically gifted they are not. They can certainly hold their own in the ring, and their outfits are worth the price of admission alone, but there are other Divas on the roster who are just better wrestlers than them. If other Divas were on the show in place of Natalya and The Funkadactyls (see my next paragraph), I would be happy to have the Bella Twins included as the third or fourth of three or four Divas.

10_FunkettesCameron & Naomi – The Funkadactyls, as their are more commonly known since other than a handful of matches their entire WWE careers have involved dancing in the ring with Brodus Clay, are the biggest question mark of this entire group? As I said, they have only had a handful of matches and, in my opinion, are the least attractive of all the Divas on the roster (I am not a shallow person but let’s be honest here and note that unless you have a gimmick like Kharma did, you have to be attractive to be a WWE Diva or TNA Knockout). Given that their entire careers have revolved around dancing with pom-poms, I have no idea why they are being included on this show in place of other, much more deserving Divas.

08_HIAC_Kaitlyn_10152012rf-7bSo who would I include on the show if not these three groups? The obvious choice is Kaitlyn, who let’s not forget is the Divas Champion.  Let’s forget the fact that the jaded and bitter columnist Mark Madden inexplicably called her “thick” in his latest blog, a terrible comment when so many young girl deal with body image issues and completely untrue since I happen to find Kaitlyn to be extremely sexy with a very healthy and normal body. After all, she has roughly the same body type as Trish Stratus and Natalya and I don’t think anyone would call either of them “thick.” Frankly, I think Madden is an animal and if he hates the product as much as it seems he does from his weekly rants, he should just turn off the TV. If I hated something as much as he hates “fake wrestling,” as he continuously calls it, I would stop doing said thing. But, enough of that tangent, the bottom line is Kaitlyn is the Divas Champion and should be the first Diva featured on the show.

wwe2n-7-copyWhat about AJ Lee? She certainly has the most compelling character of any of the WWE Divas, going back to last year when she was dating John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Kane all at once, running Raw as the General Manager and overall acting completely crazy. Now that she is teamed with World Heavyweight Champion Dolph Ziggler, it makes even more sense for her to be included in this show, not to mention the fact that she is extremely cute and has a unique look not seen elsewhere in the Divas Division. Plus, the fact that she already has a feud with former best friend Kaitlyn would add drama to the show.

Now, the Divas roster is pretty thin these days and the only other current Diva I could think of including is Layla. She is a great performer in the ring and was an amazing heel years ago when she was teamed with Michelle McCool years ago, but for some reason she has not been on TV in a very long time. If she had been on TV in recent months and turned heel yet again, I would definitely include her.

8131644079_a70d29e394_zAs for the two potential Divas, I am reading that they are Summer_01102013rf-30_wkwomen found in the most recent round of Divas searches and that one of them is a fitness model while the other is a recording artist (read: no wrestling background). If I were going to feature potential Divas, why not feature potential Divas who are already on the roster down in NXT and have the potential to actually be called up to the main roster soon. The first two that come to mind are Paige and Summer Rae, two  Divas who could completely revitalize the division when called up if given the chance.

So, in my ideal world, what is my roster for this new Total Divas reality show? It would be Divas Champion Kaitlyn, AJ Lee and The Bella Twins with Paige and Summer Rae from NXT as the potential Divas training for the big leagues. Unfortunately, we are stuck with Natalya, The Funkadactyls and The Bella Twins and I just hope the show doesn’t suffer as a result.

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Extremely High Expectations Not Met On Inexplicably Booked Episode Of WWE Raw (April 15, 2013)

20130415_EP_LARGE_RAW_cena2_LAfter last week’s incredible post-Wrestlemania episode of WWE Raw, one which featured tons of surprises, lots of action, the best live crowd in WWE history, introduced a new worldwide phenomenon (“Fandangoing”) and was largely considered across the board to be the best non-special WWE Raw (e.g., Raw 1,000) in years, expectations among fans for this week’s show were just too high to be met. I count myself as someone who sat down on the couch at 8pm last night with extremely high expectations, but I knew deep down there was no way the WWE could put together a show as great as last week on a regular basis. I mean, they could, because they did in the 1990s at the peak of wrestling’s popularity, but in this era it just will not happen. Sure enough, not only were my extremely high expectations met, but the show could not even be considered “good” as a result of inexplicably booking up and down and all throughout the three-hour show.

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