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World Wrestling Entertainment, Page 2

Growing the WWE product through Wrestlemania: Do “special attraction” matches work?

Brock Lesnar is done as a MMA fighter. His UFC career was limited to a handful of matches (8 official bouts to be exact), in which his meteoric rise was strangely counterbalanced with an almost anonymous fall from grace. In a strange brew of bizarre injuries and generally being a supreme asshole, Lesnar retired from his third sport, four if you count the wonderful world of sports entertainment. Brock Lesnar is 35 years old.
 
His Wrestlemania and now Extreme Rules opponent Triple H has seen a similar fade into off-screen anonymity, though for the real-life Paul Levesque, he’s never been more invested in the professional wrestling business. Married to the daughter of the WWE Alpha and Omega Vincent K. McMahon, Triple H now represents one part of the Holy Trinity behind the world’s leader in sports entertainment. He has a legitimate role running the everyday operations of the company, even going so far as to cut his legendary locks that made him look like a cross between Clay Matthews and Saul Goodman. Hunter is semi-retired from the in-ring competition, only participating in four matches over the past 12 months. Paul Levesque is 43 years old.
 
The match proceeding Hunter and Brock’s featured the legendary Undertaker. Mark Calloway, as he’s known to his friends and anyone that wants to get their ass kicked, just embarked on his 24th year cashing in a check penned by Vince McMahon. He’s played the part of a cartoonish “Dead Man” for a significant portion of his adult life, tweaking his character by adding nuances as small as MMA-style fighting gloves and as substantial as riding a motorcycle to the ring while shaming the WWE audience into cheering during Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit theme music. Taker has been a consistent main event player since his inception during the November 1990 Survivor Series, staying relevant long after all his contemporaries charge $10 for a picture at a Philadelphia Comic Con. As he’s aged well into his 40s, Calloway has become more and more the Dead Man than ever before, now needing no makeup to accentuate his naturally sunken eyes and sharply gaunt cheekbones. The Undertaker is 48 years old.
 
The Rock continued his sporadic two year return to the company jettisoned him into mainstream superstardom with a WWE Championship matchup with John Cena. Is it counter-intuitive to think that as Dwayne Johnson moves further away from the daily grind of the highly physical life of a professional wrestler that he’d actually get into better shape? Now equipped with more money than any of his sports entertainment brethren, Rocky is has been blessed with the best trainers, personal chefs and fitness consultants he can buy. For a man of his age, Johnson is in tremendous physical shape, so much so that he was emboldened to come back to the WWE after not wrestling a match for six years. The Rock is 41 years old.
 
Throughout all their journeys out of and back into the WWE ring, these four legendary wrestlers—some moreso than others—have one way or another managed to stay within the fan base’s consciousness long enough to take four of the six spots in the three most bankable matches at the biggest pay-per-view of the  year. The Wrestlemania main event picture is a complicated formula, with the Holy Trinity deciding on matches based on criteria varying from how it could elevate an unknown wrestler, to how much mainstream attention the match will create to how badly the weekly watching WWE Zombieverse wants that particular bout. Seeing as the McMahons put over 80,000 fans in stadium seats on … Read more...

Fifteen Random 2013 WWE Predictions

Wrestlemania 29 is in our rear view mirror. That can only mean one thing…the Road to Wrestlemania 30 has begun! I haven’t written anything in a while and RAW has been uninspiring as of late, so we’ll change gears. I am going to provide you guys with fifteen Bleacher Report MAMBINO-style predictions for the upcoming year. Some will be obvious, others ridiculous. Let’s get weird.
 
1. We have not seen the last of Stan Stansky and Arthur Rosenberg.

 
I haven’t seen a heel tag team work a crowd into that much of a frenzy since the Dudley Boyz at Heatwave ’98. The WWE always has a need for “enhancement talent” and these two jobbers should provide fodder for superstars for years to come. Just remember that “two is better than one.” Even Dolph Ziggler would be allowed to get a clean victory over this rhyming tandem.
 
2. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose will win the tag straps.

 
This is one of the more obvious predictions. To be fair, I started writing this column last week before they held up the tag straps on Smackdown. I’m just really busy….or lazy (it’s definitely one of the two), so I was unable to get this piece up in time.  Having wrestled the main event two weeks ago against the Undertaker, this past week’s main event against Kane, and this week’s match up with Daniel Bryan, it appears as though the WWE has chosen Dean Ambrose as their favorite Shield member. Back to back matches against the Brothers of Destruction is a big show of faith in Ambrose by the creative team.… Read more...

Wrestlemania 29: Review and Live Thoughts

credit: WWE.com

Wrestlemania 29 is officially in the record books. It’s time to sit back, ignore your office work and reflect back on last night’s event. Yours truly went 7 for 8 on his Wrestlemania predictions…and the one outcome I got incorrect saw Ryback standing tall with his music playing after the match was over. Even though the PPV as a whole was predictable, did the Granddaddy of them all deliver? Depends on who you ask. Despite taking zero chances and booking in the laziest, safest way possible, Wrestlemania 29 was still a pretty good show. Not great, but it definitely had it’s moments. Below are my comments on the event, and some live commentary from KOBEsh, who was in attendance last night.

(note: I arrived at my Wrestlemania watching destination just as the Miz/Barrett match was ending so I will not be reviewing that match. The Miz won. Joy.)… Read more...

MAMBINO’s Wrestlemania 29 Preview, Part 2

credit: whatculture.com


 
Welcome to part 2 of this year’s Wrestlemania preview. In yesterday’s column KOBEsh and I broke down the undercard. Today, we tackle the main events. Some complaints have been made that the outcomes seem far too determined. We’ll continue to address the predicted outcomes as well as what might be a better direction to take. Without further adieu, let’s get at this thing.

 

 
Alberto Del Rio vs. Swagger (World Heavyweight Championship)
 
Why does Del Rio retain?
 
The Raw Librarian: Finally, what we’ve all been waiting to see. A millionaire Mexican aristocrat cheerleading for America against a Kurt Angle rip-off and his Uncle who holds Tea Party meetings in his basement. In all honesty I am the more excited about this match than any of the others if only for the fact that there is some unpredictability in the outcome.
 
Depending on where this match gets placed on the card will determine the finish as well. Another factor in this match is Jack Swagger’s real life DUI and possession of marijuana arrest that has seemingly gone unpunished. That’s a slightly different reaction than when the SAME EXACT thing happened to Rob Van Dam in 2007 and he was forced to abandon two titles and was suspended for 30 days. If it wasn’t for Swagger’s DUI, I’d say there was a pretty decent chance he would have won the title. But I think that would send the wrong message to the locker room, therefore I don’t see it happening.
 
Why does Swagger go over?
 
KOBEsh: MAMBINO’s resident librarian and Philadelphia’s own is obviously still seething because ECW alumni Rob Van Dam was thrown deep, deep into the doghouse for a pot bust (and never recovered), while Swagger has gone largely unpunished.
 
That being said, Swagger’s ascent has been so strong and rapid that I find it hard to believe that the WWE would simply Heisman his progress when it feels the natural ending point would be a title win at Wrestlemania. I’ve never been a fan of Jack’s, but he’s always been a decent ring technician (but not necessarily a great pro wrestling storyteller, ya dig?) and that lisp simply kills any momentum his physicality gives him. However, with Zeb Coulter and an extremely controversial anti-immigration gimmick, Swagger’s character has been stronger than I’ve ever thought possible. He’s riding such a hot button issue right now and to the chagrin of the non-believers, has been getting insane heat. The WWE has bet big on Swagger thus far–I don’t see any reason why they don’t just go all-in.
Read more...

MAMBINO’s Wrestlemania 29 Preview, Part 1

credit: Bleacher Report


 
It’s time! It’s time! It’s Wrestlemania time!
 
Welcome to the two-part, all encompassing Wrestlemania preview. I am your host The RAW Librarian and I will be joined by KOBEshigawa in breaking down the twenty-ninth annual, Granddaddy of em all. We are going to run down the final card, giving our thoughts on the presumed winners and losers as well as providing some analysis on which direction Vinny Mac would be wisest to pursue. Tomorrow, we’ll get to the man events, but in today’s post, we’ll touch on the still very important undercard.… Read more...

The Preview to the Preview of Wrestlemania 29

credit: Withleather.com


 
With just a little over a month to go, we now have a few Wrestlemania matches set in stone. As Damien Sandow would say, “OH, YOU WERE NOT AWARE OF THIS?” The bulk of the card has been booked, but we’re still waiting to find out what kind of role some marquee wrestlers will have at the Granddaddy of them all.
 
Our main event features a “Twice in  a Lifetime” Wrestlemania rematch with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson defending his WWE Super Bowl ring title against the “Doctor of Thuganomics” John Cena. HHH has valiantly returned to defend the honor of his father-in-law, Vincent Kennedy McMahon against “The Current Big Thing” and former UFC champion, Brock Lesnar. Alberto Del Rio is set to defend the World Heavyweight championship against Jack Swagger, who will no doubt be accompanied to the ring by everyone’s favorite racist uncle, Zeb Coulter. And after winning the Fatal Four-way match two weeks ago on RAW, CM Punk has earned the distinguished honor of losing to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
 
Is anyone else feeling a little underwhelmed?… Read more...

WWE Elimination Chamber PPV Review

Credit: WWE.com


 
Let’s start off with the good news. We now have 48 days remaining until the granddaddy of them all, the Mecca of sports entertainment, Wrestlemania. The bad news is, currently only two matches are booked….and one of them involves Jack Swagger.
 
I was trying to get a pulse of what fans thought of the Elimination Chamber last night and I came across a lot of negativity. I don’t happen to share that sentiment. Elimination Chamber wasn’t all that bad, but on the other hand, it wasn’t all that good either. My main problem with the show was the ample amount of opportunity for something memorable to happen and the WWE just didn’t capitalize.
 
Most significantly, the absence of “big names” from last nights event was noticeable. No Lesnar, no HHH, no Undertaker, and the biggest name, no Brad Maddox. It’s as if Vince only wanted to do the bare minimum to have a passable show. To quote a great man, “Now if you feel that the bare minimum is enough, then okay. But some people choose to wear more and we encourage that, okay?”
 
Highlights include Mark Henry’s chamber performance, The Shield’s victory and our main event. Low lights include….well too many to list. On to the review of last night’s Elimination Chamber.… Read more...

WWE Elimination Chamber PPV Preview

credit: WWE.com


 
We have reached our last stop before Wrestlemania and I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this Elimination Chamber card. I mean, I don’t even have to fake enthusiasm about writing this column. Except for the obligatory match over the Butterfly belt, there are no bathroom breaks scheduled for this show.
 
Also, unpredictability reigns supreme. You have to assume that the Rock will go over clean in the main event as to not impede his impending date with John Cena at Wrestlemania (hopefully not with a single elbow this time) but the rest of the card offers pure speculation. There are a lot of wildcards as well. Will Brock Lesnar, HHH, or the Undertaker make their presence felt? Will Paul Heyman turn on CM Punk? Is this this finally the PPV where Dolph Ziggler cashes in his Money Bank contract? Will we ever find out who raised the briefcase at the 1999 King of the Ring? All this and more, this Sunday at Elimination Chamber!… Read more...

WWE Royal Rumble 2013 MAMBINO Preview

 

We have officially entered Wrestlemania season, the best time to be a wrestling fan. From late January to early April, Vince McMahon develops a new found sense of urgency. Booking on the fly, feces jokes and blatant misogyny towards woman (otherwise known as a John Cena promo) are thrown out in favor of coherent story lines with a clearly identified goal.

 

This Sunday, the first step to Mania, the Royal Rumble, emanates live from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Rumble is unique in the sense that it builds in allotted space for nostalgia. You never know who is going to come through the curtain after the clock counts down–think Mr. Perfect and Goldust in 2002. The Rumble has been used as a platform for superstars returning from injury like John Cena in 2008 and Edge in 2010, but more recently has been used as a catapult for new stars to make their mark, as Alberto del Rio and Sheamus won the last two matches. However, I still hold out hope for a Royal Rumble return from the one and only Peter Edward Rose. Without further delay, let’s break this down MAMBINO style.… Read more...

Wrestlemania XXIX Prospective Main Events – Who Will It Be? Part 2

(Yesterday, The Raw Librarian and I covered several different prospective main events that could headline Wrestlemania XXIX, emanating live from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on April 7th, 2013. We’re both so fired up that new pants are entirely in order. Check out Part 1 right here)

THE ROCK

Most Likely Match and Best Match For Business

KOBEsh: We covered this largely in our John Cena section yesterday, but it’s clear that Rock-Cena II is going to be in the cards. The only factor that’s somewhat murky is what the stipulations are going to be for the match itself. Will it be for the title? Will it be fought under the pretenses of No Holds Barred? Will there be a Special Guest Referee? Does any of that matter? 


IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE. This match is going to blow the figurative roof off of MetLife Stadium.

Dream Match


TRL: The Rock vs HBK Shawn Michaels
These two had real life animosity going back to the Kliq days. HBK was aware of how over the Rock was getting and knew it meant bad things for his real life best friend HHH. He gave a shoot promo or two where he talked about “the Rock always trying to steal the spotlight from Hunter.” IF this match were to happen, it’d have a solid backstory beyond two of the greatest ever going toe-to-toe. 

But.

This match will never happen. Neither men are interested (especially the retired HBK) and the WWE wouldn’t want to blow all this money getting the Rock to wrestle again knowing that there are bigger bouts out there (i.e. Cena-Rock).


 
RYBACK

Most Likely Match


TRL: Ryback vs. The Shield

Whether it’s in tag team format or Ryback vs Dean Ambrose with Roman Reigns as enforcer, everything points to Ryback being involved with the Shield at ‘Mania. I don’t see any other obvious matches right now. I like Ryback, but I like the Shield a heck of a lot more. I need to praise WWE creative for some rare long-term booking and development here. They have yet to screw up any of these young performers. Look for these men to be involved in a match together in some capacity.

KOBEsh: Ryback vs. Big Show

Until I went and saw for myself in person, I couldn’t discern on television whether or not Ryback’s ascent to the main event picture was more manufactured than it was actual fan sentiment. It seemed to me that the volume was turned up all around the former Ryan Reeves in nearly every segment he was featured in. His music blared so loud that it obscured how much fans actually were applauding for him. When he threw smaller men around the ring, they landed with such force that the actual buckling of the squared circle elicited a reaction from the crowd, but more in the vein of awe than affection. As he chanted “Feed Me More”, the audience of course chanted along with him, but as CM Punk echoed this past Monday on Raw, the WWE fan base are like trained dogs–they’ll chant just about anything as long as it’s delivered to them with the same measured vocal pacing. Did people actually like Ryback? Or was the audio emanating from and around him manufacturing his hype as much as the WWE could muster? 

After watching the man fight The Shield in a TLC match in Brooklyn, I can attest that Ryback is more than hype. He’s the real deal Holyfield. The crowd eats him up, as if “Feed Me More” becomes more than just an infectious catchphrase. He’s physically imposing, brutal and pure charisma. He made a believer out of this jaded fan. 

That all being said, Ryback’s strengths are best shown not as actual feRead more...