Tossing Salt – Worldwide News: May 28, 2015

Tossing Salt – Worldwide News
May 28, 2015
Doug Maynard

Hello and how the heck are you? I’m Doug and this is pro wrestling’s most eclectic wrestling column since 2002, “Tossing Salt – Worldwide News”. I’m in a writing mood and have wrestling on the mind. I’m thinking about the most elite faction in wrestling history, the Four Horsemen and also have that little thing coming up on Sunday, the Elimination Chamber, on my mind. There’s no time for small talk. Let’s just get right to it, shall we? And away we go…

The Four Horsemen…

So here I am at the house on a hot and very humid Thursday morning. It’s a rare day off where I have no committments or responsibilities to anyone and actually have a full day for myself. And having just said that out loud, I’m sure my phone will start ringing at any moment now or else someone will come knocking at the door and say those magic words, “I need a favor”. I just hope that whoever it is, he’s cute. But anyhow, what was I saying? It’s a lazy day and I’m fresh out of the shower and going through my drawers looking for something comfortable and appropiate to wear as I attempt to find creative ways to hide from the world and avoid any and all responsibility. A pair of shorts? Check! And a t-shirt? Absolutely, but what shirt should it be? The nWo black and white? Nah! How about the nWo red & black Wolfpac shirt? Nah! The “Peep Show” shirt? My Kevin Nash “Big Sexy” shirt? How about the classic DX t-shirt with HHH, Chyna, X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws gracing the front? Once more, it’s a negative. And then I see it. One of my classic favorites, the vintage “Four Horsemen” t-shirt, with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit and Steve “Mongo” McMichael on the front. It’s fading and worn out and even has a small hole in the front , but it’s one of my favorites and since it’s the Horsemen, it never goes out of style.

And that got my mind to working and pondering about something. We all know that the legendary Four Horsemen franchise is one of the most revered and elite names in professional wrestling. There are many groupings of professional wrestlers that are respected and made an impact in our sport such as Evolution, the nWo, Degeneration X, The Corporation, The Hart Foundation and the Mean Street Posse, for example, but when it comes to being first, setting the standards and being the symbol for excellence, the Horsemen are the top of the line. Some may argue and disagree, but when you lay out the history, the impact, the legacy and just the amount of championship gold held by the men who represented that infamous faction, the arguments are pretty mood. When it comes to groups and factions in professional wrestling, you have the Four Horsemen and then you have everyone else. ‘Nuff said!

But who are the best Horsemen? Who are the men who really set the standards and fit that “elite” status the best? Yes, I’m going to take a few minutes and look at the fifteen men who wrestled as part of the Horsemen and do my best to rank them as to who, in my opinion, was the worst to the best. I’m not including the managers and valets (James J. Dillon, Woman, Miss Elizabeth, Debra, Baby Doll, Dark Journey, Hiro Matsuda, Fifi) because while they were a part of the mystique and image of the Horsemen and each served to helping and building the legacy in some way to varying degrees, they were not active wrestlers and not technically “Horsemen”, at least not in my opinion. I also won’t include the men who were associated with the Horsemen, like Butch Reed, Michael Hayes, David Flair or Kendall Windham. They were associates and allies, but not true Horsemen. This is about the men who walked that aisle, styled and profiled and had that true moment in the sun as one of wrestling’s most elite.

So far as my methods and standards for how I’m doing my ranking and determining the best and worst of the group, there are no set standards. I’m just calling it like I see it and who I felt helped set the bar and truly belonged and who I felt was in over their heads and were not up to the Horseman standard. We’re doing this from the bottom to the top with the least effective Horseman starting things off and we’ll move up to bigger and better as we determine who the best of the best really and truly is / was. So let’s do this…

Jeff Jarrett: Why is the so-called “Chosen One”, who had a brief stay with the group in 1997, at the bottom of the list as the worst Horseman? It’s pretty simple actually. In his book, Arn Anderson says that Jeff Jarrett was never a true Horsemen and was never part of the group. While I actually like Jarrett as a performer and think he’s an excellent wrestler, if “the Enforcer” says that Jarrett was not a Horseman and doesn’t belong, then so be it.

Curt Hennig: Another fantastic wrestler and amazing talent who should be near the top in theory and if given the opportunity, could easily have been one of the top men in WCW, a potential World Champion and a true leader for the Horsemen. But the powers-that-be at WCW used Hennig as their pawn, forced the Horsemen to take him in as a member and then did the whole “betrayal” thing a few weeks later. He took Arn Anderson’s “spot” and then turned on the team a couple of weeks later and while this doesn’t detract from Curt’s abilities or reputation as an incredible performer and talent, it does destroy any chance for a potential legacy as a member of the Horsemen.

Paul Roma: I’m kind of mixed about Paul Roma. Everyone was expecting Tully Blanchard and we got “Pretty” Paul Roma instead. He was a good looking kid and was actually pretty decent in the ring, as multiple tag-team title reigns with both Arn Anderson and Paul Orndorff proved. But was he “Horseman” material? If Arn and Ric had the time and opportunities to work with him and build him up as (for example), Ric and HHH did with Batista and Randy Orton in the Evolution faction, I think that Roma could have had a great future. But things didn’t work out and his legacy as a member of wrestling’s elite is more of a footnote than anything else.

Dean Malenko: Dean Malenko is one of the best pure wrestlers in the world and probably one of the most intense men in the business, but was he really and truly what a Horseman should be? I loved watching Dean perform and his matches against Chris Jericho for example, show just how talented and skilled this man truly is. But when I think of the Horsemen, there should be a touch of bravado and cockiness mixed with the intensity. There should be some of that killer instinct bubbling just below the surface and a willingness to do “whatever it takes” to achieve your goals. I didn’t see that with Dean. He’s a great wrestler and a technician second to none, but as a member of the Horsemen, it just seemed like a strange fit and that he was there more from his relationship with Benoit than any other reason.

Sid Vicious: He’s big and strong and mean and intense and has that great look. He was perfect for the role of the big strong man of the group except for one minor thing. His actual wrestling skills pretty much sucked. With that look and intensity, he really didn’t need to do much in the ring except for a few power moves and look mean and he did that well so he was right for the group at the time. I don’t think he was really ever truly part of the team though and worked better as a solo performer.

Sting: Sting as a opponent for the Horsemen, the “David” against their “Goliath” was perfect. But Sting, who was the top baby-face for the company, alligned with the manipulative and out-for-themselves ego-maniacs known as the Horsemen? It just didn’t seem or feel right, especially when you’d see Sting standing next to Arn or especially Ole Anderson. It made for some good TV and an entertaining and stimulating time for us fans, but it was obvious from the get-go that Sting and The Horsemen was a marriage made in hell and couldn’t last. It wasn’t a question of if they would eventually turn on Sting, but just when.

Steve “Mongo” McMichael: I’m probably one of the few, but I liked Mongo as a member of the Horsemen. His in-ring wrestling ability pretty much sucked and his promos weren’t really all that, but think about it. He didn’t get into wrestling until he was in his late-thirties and that was after a long and extremely successful career in the NFL, including a Super Bowl ring. The body was already broken down at this point so we couldn’t expect much. He gave it his all though. He wasn’t a great wrestler, but Mongo was legit tough and there was something about him that just said “this man is freakin’ crazy!”. Flair and Arn picked him to be a Horseman and he gave a legit sports credibility to the franchise. Also, adding someone like Mongo to a group that included Flair, Arn and Benoit would hide the weaknesses and allow the strong points to shine through. It’s a strategy that Paul Heyman used quite often in ECW with his wrestlers and it worked for Mongo as well. Maybe he wasn’t a great wrestler, but in my opinion, Mongo was a great Horsemen.

Lex Luger: Looking back, Lex was the perfect person to bring in as the Horsemen’s first “associate” and then later on, recruit to replace Ole Anderson. Lex was young, fresh, arrogant and had that great look. That brief time with the Horsemen, and then the later feud after he was “fired”, was what took Lex to the next level and made him a star. Lex might catch a lot of heat these days for his ego or politics, but there’s no doubting that he did a great job in this initial sink-or-swim spot as a member of the Horsemen. He eased right in there and really made a good, strong impact that got people talking and made them stand up and take notice.

Brian Pillman: Brian Pillman had been around WCW for a while and was a good wrestler, but never really impressed me much until two things happened. The first was the tag teaming with the future “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as the Hollywood Blondes. I think that partnership and the time they spent as a team was really the main thing that took them from mid-card level to the main events and pointed each man to the direction it took to really take their career to the top of the card. Austin, as we all know, went on to the WWE and became a beer drinking, hell raising bad ass. Pillman went from the tag team ranks to a certifiable “loose cannon” who would literally do or say anything. He also, around this time, became a member of the Four Horsemen. The main thing I remember from Pillman’s time is that he constantly stirred the pot and caused some major problems between Kevin Sullivan’s “Dungeon of Doom” and the Horsemen. It kept things interesting and exciting and you never knew what to expect when Pillman came to the ring or got ahold of a mic. His time as a Horseman was short, but the impact he was was eternal.

Ole Anderson: I hate putting Ole down this low because in my opinion, if there wasn’t an Ole Anderson, there never would have been a “Four Horsemen” to talk about. Ole was the seasoned veteran of the group and really seemed to be the brains of the group in the early days, setting the direction of the group, be it protect Flair’s title, go after Dusty, etc. The whole gang warfare mentality and sacrifice and protect the titles at all costs were from the Anderson Brothers playbook and Ole, as the mentor for the group, passed it on and helped to make those sentiments part of the Horseman legacy. Ole was stubborn, tough as nails and one of the most dangerous men to ever step into a ring and having him there just gave the group a credibility that few other teams or factions could even dream to match. I may have five other men ranked above him on this list, but have no doubts, Ole was everything that a Horseman could ever strive or hope to be and is a true legend in every way. And on a personal note, the “Four Horsemen” may be in the WWE Hall of Fame, but without Ole’s name being included, put an asterick by that induction because it’s not real or complete. Just saying.

Chris Benoit: The ability and the intensity said it all. If there was any man, aside from the original four or Barry Windham who was meant to be a Horseman and represented everything that a Horseman should be, then Chris Benoit is that man. While not physically the biggest man, the heart and soul of Benoit always made him the biggest man in the room. “Silent but violent” was the description used and how appropiate it truly was. While the way his life ended and the tragedy surrounding those final days will always overshadow what Benoit did in the ring and his legacy as a wrestler and a Horseman, the time he did spend as a wrestler truly made an impact and left an impression as well.

Tully Blanchard: If Ole was the foundation for the original Horsemen, then Tully would be the attitude. Tully was the perfect heel in so many ways, always able to get under the skin of everyone, be it an opponent or a fan and looking great while doing it. He was such a dick, you couldn’t help but feel a grudging respect and admiration for the man even as you booed him and hoped that someone would kick his butt. He would out-wrestle his opponents and then hit them with a chair just because… he didn’t need to cheat to win, but did it because he could. He had the nice cars, the fancy clothes, the beautiful women in Baby Doll and Dark Journey and always made sure that everyone knew that he was better than they are. With Flair, he was entertaining and you liked him despite his tactics. With Ole and Arn, they were straight forward and blunt and even if you didn’t like them, you respected them for their toughness. With Tully, there were no redeeming qualities. He was so annoying and such a brat, you hated him, yet respected him at the same time. And that’s what made him great as both a wrestler and a Horseman.

Barry Windham: A man with so much natural talent and ability, a second generation superstar (son of the great Blackjack Mulligan) and for the longest time, the ultimate baby-face wrestler. No one was sure how he would work out as a heel when he was recruited as a Horseman, but the second he did that turn on Luger and gave the tag team titles to Tully and Arn, arguably the greatest Horseman who was not one of the original was born. He had the size to work as a big man, but had the speed and technical ability to match up against anyone as well. He was (no offense to Lex Luger) the true “total package” of professional wrestling. And while he had many good runs as a “good guy” over the years, if you’ll look at the promos and matches he had as a heel and as a member of the Horsemen, that’s when he really seems to be enjoying himself the best and having the most fun. Barry was a natural heel and truly one of the greatest ever to lace up a pair of boots. That’s what made him a great Horseman.

Ric Flair: The 16-time World Heavyweight Champion and the leader of the Four Horsemen. The original purpose of the Horsemen was to protect Flair and protect that NWA / WCW World Championship. The group did it’s job and did it very well. Flair was the leader and called the shots throughout the years and truly is the primary purpose for the Horsemen. The only reason he’s not number one and the top Horseman of all times in my opinion was that often times, Flair seemed to stray a bit and put his own personal interests over that of the group. There was also a few times where it seemed to me as if Flair was taking the team for granted. It all boils down to perception and Flair may have been the leader of the Horsemen, but he wasn’t, in my opinion, the greatest Horseman of all. That honor falls to…

Arn Anderson: The heart and the soul of the group of elite athletes known as the Four Horsemen. While Flair was a multiple-time World Champion and was often out doing things as a singles star, with Arn, it was all about the group dynamic and doing what’s best for the team. Arn had success to be sure, but his best times were always as part of a team, be it the Dangerous Alliance, the Heenan Family and most especially the Horsemen. With every match and every promo, Arn always gave 150% of everything he had and you could always see, hear and feel the pride he had when performing. And the pride he had when he held those four fingers in the air. Flair was the leader of the Horsemen, but Arn was the motivation, the soul, the resolution, the best of the best. Arn and the Horsemen were one and the same in every way that counts and I don’t think Arn would want it any other way.

Diamonds are forever and so are the Four Horsemen. Woooooooooooooo!

And now, with that complete, let’s talk about what’s coming up on Sunday night, exclusively on the WWE Network. Yes my friends, I’m talking about the Elimination Chamber special event. It looks as if it will be a decent show with a lot of great wrestling action and of course, I have some predictions to make. Let’s do this…

WWE Elimination Chamber Predictions…

Elimination Chamber Match for the vacant Intercontinental Championship
Sheamus versus Ryback versus R Truth versus King Barrett versus Dolph Ziggler versus Rusev

As I’m writing this (Thursday afternoon), Rusev is a question mark for this match. It seems that the big Bulgarian bruiser has suffered a leg injury of some type at the Smackdown tapings on Tuesday night and may not be available for this match. If that is the case, I’d expect to see either Bray Wyatt or maybe Luke Harper injected into the match as his replacement. I’d love to see Zack Ryder be given the opportunity, but we all know that’s not going to happen.

This should be an interesting match and it really could go to anyone. Well, anyone but R Truth because we know that he’s not going to win. I don’t think Ryback will either. There’s a role for the “big guy” in the company, but I don’t see the IC title in his future. Not right now anyhow. And Dolph has the Lana / Rusev love triangle thing going on so that’s going to be occupying his time for the next few weeks. The way I’m thinking, it’s going to come down between one of two men, either Sheamus or Wade Barrett. Wade has been losing to everyone on the roster as of late and since being made “King of the RIng”, can’t buy a victory. Sheamus has looked impressive as of late and is probably the obvious favorite. Of all the people involved in this match, he’s the one I’d have the least interest in seeing as the new Intercontinental Champion. So I guess that means he wins. Of course it does…

Winner and NEW Intercontinental Champion: Sheamus

Tag Team Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E & Xavier Woods) (c) versus Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) versus Tyson Kidd & Cesaro versus The Prime Time Players (Darren Young & Titus O’Neil) versus The Ascension (Konner & Viktor) versus Los Matadores (Diego & Fernando)

Where are Axelmania and Macho Mandow? Where are Harper and Rowan? How are they going to fit all of these men in those tiny little pods anyhow? I’ve got a feeling that whoever had the idea for this match made the decision before actually looking at the logistics of this match. Six pods and you’ve got thirteen men, a Diva and a tiny bull all involved in the match. It’s going to be interesting to see how things go and how they prevent this match from becoming total OINGO BOINGO chaos. I really want to see Cesaro and Tyson Kidd back as the champions, but I don’t think that’s going to happen here. The New Day are growing on me more and more each week and I’m really starting to enjoy them as they grow into their gimmick and develop as great heels. It seems as if they’ve really embraced the characters and are just having fun. I like that. I don’t think that the PTP’s, the Lucha Dragons or the Matadores really have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. I think this would be a great opportunity to really allow the Ascension, who have been pretty much second-rate jokes since coming to the main roster, to really jump out and show why they were so successful in NXT as the tag champions there. Just a quick note here. If the Ascension are going to be viewed as a modern day version of the Road Warriors, why not add to the team a modern day “Precious Paul Ellering”? I know a certain charismatic Canadian who is currently on the roster, but not being used who would be great in a role of that nature, plus it would make the “Peep’s” happy. Just a thought. Yeah, I’m going to pull for the team that I think could do the most with the belts at this point who are not part of the main mix. It’s time for some Ascension.

Winners and NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: Konner & Viktor – The Ascension

U.S. Champion versus NXT Champion (Non-Title)
John Cena versus Kevin Owens

This is going to be a slobber-knocker of a brawl and everything that a champion versus champion match should be. That means no conclusive winner, lots of shenanigans and probably an appearance of some sort by Samoa Joe. Neither man can or should take a clean loss at this point in their feud. It’s way too early so let’s go for the old double disqualification finish.

No Contest – Both Men are Disqualified or Counted Out. To Be Continued on RAW on Monday night…

WWE World Championship Match
Seth Rollins (c) versus Dean Ambrose

What do you get when you add the modern day version of Roddy Piper to a manipulative, desperate champion who has all the tools, but relies on two midgets and a monster to do his dirty work for him? One helluva great match. And that’s what we’re going to get. I’ve noticed that Roman Reigns isn’t on the card anywhere so most likely, he’ll be doing some sort of run-in here to counter the J&J Security and Kane presence. And Seth is going to win and retain the title. I don’t think we have to worry much about Seth losing until Brock Lesnar comes back. Until then, I think that WWE World Championship is pretty safe for Seth and the Authority.

Winner and STILL WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins

Triple Threat Match – WWE Divas Championship
Nikki Bella (c) versus Paige versus Naomi

I really don’t care about this match or any of these ladies, especially after watching the women at the NXT show wrestle. This is the go outside and smoke a cigarette break match. I don’t smoke, but my brother does and since he’ll hopefully be here watching the matches with me, this is where he’ll head out to the porch. I think Brie Bella will get involved and so will Tamina and when all the smoke clears, the one who chose to walk out alone, Paige, will also be the one to walk out with a new partner, the WWE Divas Championship.

Winner and NEW Divas Champion: Paige

Neville versus Bo Dallas

As much as I like Bo Dallas, I don’t Bolieve that he has a chance here. I Bolieve that Neville is going to fly and hit that Red Arrow thing that he likes to do and this match will be short, sweet and given the talents of these two men, do their damndest to steal the show. If these guys are given half the chance to show the mainstream WWE fans what they were doing down at NXT a year ago against each other, it will be one of the best matches of the night. Bolieve that!

Winner: Neville

And that’s it for the announced matches for the Elimination Chamber special event. As I noted, neither Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt are officially in any matches on this card and we don’t know what the situation is yet for Rusev’s participation either. Also not wrestling as of yet are Stardust, Heath Slater, Zack Ryder, Adam Rose, etc so I expect that we’ll have another match added at some point between now and Sunday. If a match is announced, I’ll go on my facebook (facebook.com/saltpalace) or my twitter (@doug28352) and do a quick prediction there as soon as I can.

I guess that’s all for me today as well. I’ve talked about the Horsemen and the Elimination Chamber event. Now it’s time for a nap. Thank you for reading. I do appreciate that. Questions and comments can be sent to Doug28352@yahoo.com or the facebook / twitter accounts listed above. I’m Doug and I am out of here or as the great Baron Von Raschke would say, “dat is all de’ people need to know!”. Have a great day.

Ubuntu!

Tossing Salt – Worldwide News: May 17, 2015

Tossing Salt – Worldwide News
May 17, 2015
Doug Maynard

“Welcome to my nightmare. I think you’re going to like it. I think you’re gonna feel that you belong”. Yes, I am listening to the great Alice Cooper as I write this, the long awaited return of “Tossing Salt – Worldwide News!”. I’m your host with the most, Doug and this is what I do. I’m going to skip the chit chat for today because I have many things to talk about. Well actually, I only have three things to talk about, but I know that I’ll probably be long winded in my discussion and three things are probably more than enough. So the topics for today will be podcasts, the WWE Network and the big WWE pay-per-view event tonight, WWE Payback. So are you ready? I said, “Are you ready?” Blah, this never works well in the written form. Let’s just get right to it, shall we. Let’s do this…

Podcasts…

I’ve been spending a lot of time as of late listening to the current “big thing” among wrestling fans and that’s podcasts. Doesn’t it seem like everyone has one going these days. A friend of mine and myself have even talked about maybe starting one of our own about “current events” and “general B.S.”, including wrestling of course. We just can’t seem to get our schedules coordinated enough to do anything yet and it’s all still in the planning stages.

But back to what I was saying. It seems as if everyone has a podcast of their own and it’s extremely hard to try and listen to each and every one of them. I tried to listen to Ric Flair’s new podcast and couldn’t get through more than one edition, an interview with Kurt Angle. Flair is a great talker, but not a great interviewer. He always falls back on one thing and that’s Ric Flair and it gets a little old pretty quickly. I love it when Flair is a guest and can answer questions and tell stories, but when he’s the one asking the questions? I think I’m going to take a pass.

Jim Ross and Roddy Piper are pretty good, but their shows are hit and miss for me. Piper tends to ramble and mumble too much for my tastes, but he does know how to ask questions and give the guest a chance to respond. Jim Ross is a good interviewer, but just too serious natured for my tastes. Chris Jericho has a great show, but it’s also hit and miss to me. Jericho’s show is more like friends and associates just chillaxin’ and talking instead of any serious questions and answers. I try and listen every week, but some shows just don’t work for me and I tune out rather quickly. In my opinion, the best podcasts out there are Steve Austin’s two weekly shows and Jim Cornette’s “Jim Cornette Experience”.

The thing is though, even with all the dozens and dozens of wrestling podcasts out there, something is missing and I think I know what it is. There are no wrestling orientated podcasts or shows out there hosted by a woman wrestler or Diva. I’ve mentioned before how I feel that Lisa Moretti, aka “Ivory” would be excellent in a role like this. She has the background necessary as a wrestler, valet / manager and commentator for GLOW, POWW and the WWE. She has the extremely outgoing personality, she knows pretty much everyone in the business, she doesn’t hold back or bite her tongue about much and she loves to talk. Lisa Moretti, aka Ivory, would be an ideal choice and person to become the first female wrestling personality to host her own podcast. I know I’d listen and tune in each week.

But suppose Lisa isn’t interested or doesn’t have the necessary time to get involved in such a project? Well, two more names came to mind rather quickly for me as well. How about Lisa Marie Varon, aka “Victoria / Tara”. She’s got the background, the personality, the knowledge and the name recognition to pull it off and really make a big impact in the world of podcasting.

Another name that comes to mind to me is Nikla Roberts, aka “Baby Doll”. While Baby Doll wouldn’t be quite the natural on-air that I feel Ivory would, she is a very intelligent woman with a great personality. I’ve met her a couple of times and spoken with her and I think she would probably adapt rather quickly to the role of interviewer and personality and do a fantastic job. And think of the stories she could tell from her time in the locker room during the Jim Crockett days and as the “Perfect Ten” of Tully Blanchard. She was there in the beginning for the legendary Four Horsemen. She managed Tully, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Larry Zbyszko and so many others. And to top things off, she’s still active on the Independent circuit and knows about the business as it is today as well as yesterday. Just imagine the guests she could find and talk too. It’s an old-school wrestling fan’s dream come true.

So my point is, there are way too many wrestling podcasts out there, but there is still a hole and that’s a show hosted by a female wrestling personality. It would work. It would sell. It would get listeners, especially if the right woman is hosting. And I think that the right woman to fill that role and make history would be one of three, Lisa Moretti, Lisa Marie Varon or Baby Doll. Hey podcast producers, get on the ball and sign one of (or all of) these women. You’ll be glad you did.

And let’s throw in a quick “Top Ten” list… just because…

“Top 10 Wrestling Personalities Who I’d Love See Host A Podcast”

10. Dutch Mantell aka “Zeb Colter”
9. Eric Bischoff
8. Zack Ryder
7. Lisa Marie Varon aka “Victoria” / “Tara”
6. Kevin Nash
5. Nickla Roberts aka “Baby Doll”
4. Michael P.S. Hayes
3. Andrew Singer aka “soce the elemental wizard”
2. Shane Helms aka “Hurricane Helms”
1. Lisa Moretti aka “Ivory”

The Network…

As most of us do now, I regularly spend quite a bit of time watching the WWE Network. The current product of the WWE is hit and miss for me. I like some of it, but compared to the “glory days” of the Monday Night Wars and even before then, the days of the territories, especially the Mid-Atlantic region and Georgia, today’s product is missing something and lacking. And with the Network, we get to see the pay-per-views as they happen live, as well as all of the old pay-per-views, the NXT matches and shows and all sorts of specials and other items of interest. Yes, it truly was a great and happy day when Vince McMahon’s dream of his own network finally came true.

As most people are aware, the WWE decided that, much like the NXT programming and special events, to put on a “Network Exclusive” pay-per-view event at the end of the month, the “Elimination Chamber”. I think that’s a great idea and way to convince people to subscribe and buy the Network. It gives those few naysayers that are still out there a reason to finally give in and give it a shot. And once they’ve signed up, sacrifcing their ten bucks to see the Elimination Chamber show, most likely they’ll stick around. It’s a great idea and the WWE should really just run with the concept and do more Network-only exclusives in my opinion. The pay-per-views were the bread and butter of the WWE, but now it’s all about the Network and how many subscriptions they can get and keep. The more events and shows that are Network only, the more fans of the WWE will feel it necessary to sign up. I’ve come up with three concepts and ideas that could help with this. They’re not new ideas or original, but they are just ideas that I feel would attract more viewers and fans to subscribe. And here we go.

One Man Shows…

The recent “Cheap Pops” event with Mick Foley aired on the Network and from all reports, drew in a good audience. It’s fun, entertaining and easy to produce so why stop with just Foley and his one man show? Why not, every other month or so, do a “WWE Network Special” and feature a different one man show from a different personality? Besides Foley, other wrestling personalities who regularly perform these events include William Regal, Jim Ross, Diamond Dallas Page and Jim Cornette. Dolph Ziggler and Colt Cabana do the occasional stand-up routines and I’m sure that there are many, many others who either already do or could be persuaded to attempt these events. I seem to recall something about Trish Stratus and Lita doing some events together. Just send a camera crew and producer and film these shows. A little editing here and there, but for the most part, just capture the shows as they happen and there you go, instant programming that would draw in fans and provide them an opportunity to see some of their favorites in a new light.

Where Are They Now?…

Another concept that has been done and over-done, but always seems to work. There are so many legends and big names from days-gone-by that have vanished from the spotlight of their glory days. Where are these people? What are they doing now? What kind of stories do they have to tell? Just send an interviewer out with a camera crew and visit these folks and learn. A brief thirty minute profile of their background mixed with a current interview. Throw in a match or two from their careers if available (and given the WWE’s intensive video archives, it most likely is), and there you go. Fairly inexpensive programming that gives the WWE fans something different and interesting and a chance to learn about those who paved the way for the WWE Superstars of today.

Special Events…

They already do this with the NXT product and events like the upcoming Elimination Chamber, but I feel that the WWE should try to do at least five or six “Network Exclusive” events, apart from the pay-per-views, each year. Some of the ideas for concept shows that I’ve come up with include occasionally taping house shows and allowing them to air either live on the Network or maybe the next day. That would give the fans a chance to see how their favorites perform in a non-TV enviroment where things are a bit more casual and relaxed.

Another idea is a concept that TNA has already tried, but then again, TNA is not the WWE and just because they couldn’t make these work doesn’t mean that the WWE couldn’t. I’m talking about a series of “One Night Stand” shows. The WWE did something of this nature with the “King of the Ring” event, but that wasn’t really a Network thing, at least not fully. They had the opening matches on RAW and then the finals on Tuesday in a Network special. I’m talking about special shows that begin and end the same night, the same show. Here are five concepts that I came up for for special event “One Night Stand” shows on the Network.

“Ladies Night” where the entire card is made up of both WWE and NXT Divas. As the NXT ladies have proven this past weekend on the NXT house shows, they definitely can main event and headline a card. Let the women go out there and show what they can really do. Forget about the three minute snooze-fests. Some of the women in the WWE can really go if given the chance. This would be their chance.

“Battle Bowl” – I’m stealing an old WCW gimmick match here where teams were picked and chosen “at random” and faced each other for a chance to go to a Battle Royal at the end of the night and win the “Battle Bowl” ring. This would be fun to watch as friends wrestle each other, enemies are forced to cooperate and team up, alliances are born and destroyed, etc. It would give some of the lower-card wrestlers a chance to interact with the “stars” and could just be a really fun night of action.

“Night of Legends” – This could be a night where the legends shine as wrestlers who are under legend’s deals or no longer with the company come back and work a show. Old feuds could be played upon, old gimmicks brought back, and the men and women who once headlined and dominated their profession could be given a chance to shine once more. It would make for a great opportunity for the stars of the past, like those of the “Attitude Era” and even before, if they’re still in wrestling shape and able to perform, to have that one last moment of glory. It would also attract and maybe bring back some of the older fans who aren’t quite into wrestling as much anymore.

“NXT versus WWE” – How about a night of the stars of NXT mixing it up with the stars of the WWE. Not quite an “Invasion” angle, but more like a friendly rivalry between the main roster and the men and women who are looking to take their spots. It would give both rosters a chance to shine a little bit, allow the NXT stars a little more exposure for the fans who watch RAW and Smackdown, but don’t follow the NXT brand, and would just make for a fun and exciting night of wrestling action.

And finally…

“Night of Champions Roulette” – This essentially mixes up the “Night of Champions” idea where we have a card and every title is defended with the “Raw Roulette” gimmick that the WWE likes to use when they travel to Vegas for a show. Picture this. We have a roulette wheel with the name of every WWE Superstar listed. We also have another wheel next to it with match stipulations listed, such as “Street Fight”, “Cage Match”, “Two Out Of Three Falls”, etc listed. And here is how it works. Each champion spins the first wheel. Whoever it lands on is their opponent for the night. Then they go to the second wheel and spin to find out what the match stipulation will be. And then they defend their title against the selected opponent in the selected style of match. Anything could happen. Anyone could be getting a chance to wrestle for a title. And it would be unpredictable, exciting and fun to watch.

So there you go.

So far, I’ve spoken about podcasts and shows for the WWE Network. I think it’s time to wrap this sucker up now and leave you with the final segment and that’s my predictions for the big WWE pay-per-view tonight, “Payback”. And of course, that means channeling the Sister Cleo buried deep in my soul, with a touch of Gary Spivey as well. (Does anyone remember when he was Paul Orndorff’s “psychic friend” back in the classic WCW days? Yes, I am doing match predictions. Let’s get busy and do this.

WWE Payback Pay-Per-View Predictions…

Fatal Four Way: WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton – If Rollins fails to retain, Kane is fired from The Authority.

This is a match that I’m looking forward to and should be really, really good. And the stipulation makes it even more fun. Will Kane help out his Authority team-mate? Will he do as he did this past Monday and just stand by and watch? Will he just make token efforts to help Rollins, while truly not helping at all? And is it really time yet for the title to change hands?

I don’t think so. Not yet anyhow. Rollins has been phenomenal as the WWE World Champion and I’m really enjoying the tense situation between him and Kane, as well as his truely heel personality and I’d hate to see the WWE pull the plug on this title reign so soon. I want Seth to keep the belt at least until SummerSlam, where hopefully he can defend against a returning Brock Lesnar. So with that in mind, I think Kane (reluctantly) interferes and as a result, Seth manages to steal a win and retain the title. Yeah, that works for me.

Winner and STILL WWE World Champion: Seth Rollins

I Quit Match: WWE United States champion John Cena vs. Rusev.

John Cena is NOT going to quit. We know this. But if Rusev can’t do anything here in this match, it’s pretty much over for him and he goes to the bottom of the roster, to join Zack Ryder and Bray Wyatt as the men Cena buried. So what will the WWE do? Imagine this. The match is a true slobber-knocker and both men really look strong. Cena starts to dominate and it looks as if the end is near for Rusev. So what does Rusev do? Building on the teased tension lately between Rusev and Lana, Rusev decides to grab Lana and threatens her with physical harm. I know that the WWE doesn’t allow man-on-woman violence anymore, but stick with me here. Rusev has Lana in his powerful arms and knocks her to the ground. If John doesn’t give up and quit, he’s going to “break her back” or something of that nature. What will Cena do? If he goes after Rusev, Lana will be “injured” and hurt. If he “quits” so Rusev will let Lana go, he loses the U.S. title and the match. Cena goes into “Sting-mode” and in order to be the “good guy” and save Lana, he says those magic words. Rusev wins and gets the title. Cena goes to comfort and check on Lana and she turns on him, kicking him in the little Cena’s. Classic heel moves, Cena looks like a chump (but a good guy chump who didn’t have a choice) and the belt changes hands as it should. Works for me.

Winner and NEW United States Champion: Rusev

Best of Three Falls: WWE Tag Team champions The New Day vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.

I love watching Tyson and Cesaro as a team and it really seems as if they’ve found their nitch. But, and I really hate to admit this, over the past two week or so, I’ve started to enjoy the heel version of the New Day. The original concept really sucked, but they’ve adapted, switched it up a bit and are becoming a true guilty pleasure. So who wins here? Either way, I won’t be too upset. I think it’s too early to take the belts off the New Day team, so we’ll hold off on the title change until maybe the Elimination Chamber event at the end of the month. The current champs retain and it’s the start of a New Day.

Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day

Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler.

Dolph won at the last event, but Sheamus had the last laugh if you will. So at Payback, it’s going to be Sheamus getting the pin and win, but Dolph will have some antics up his sleeve and get the last laugh. And there you go.

Winner: Sheamus

Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback.

I want Bray to win. Bray hasn’t won a match on pay-per-view in nearly forever and needs to win. But Ryback is the company’s mid-card golden boy (this week anyhow) and can’t really handle a loss at this point and time. So look for the reunification of the “Wyatt Family” and let’s throw in Bo Dallas as an associate too (just because). Ryback wins by DQ (and takes one helluva beatdown) while Bray takes another loss, albeit by DQ. But it won’t matter because all everyone will be thinking and talking about is that Bray has gotten the family back together.

Winner by DQ: Ryback

King Barrett vs. Neville.

This should be another good match between the two men. I’m kind of thinking that Neville should win and keep his strong momentum going, but Barrett took a pin at the last pay-per-view event. But then again, Barrett won the King of the Ring event by pinning Neville. So this is the “rubber match” and could go either way. Hmmmm. Neville is the up-and-coming future and the powers-that-be are high on this kid so I’m thinking that Payback will be his night against the current WWE King of the Ring. King Barrett, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re going to lose.

Winner: Neville

Naomi and Tamina Snuka vs. WWE Divas champion Nikki Bella & Brie Bella.

When did the Bella Twins become faces? Does anyone even really care? It’s good to see Tamina back in action and being the bad-ass butt-kicker that she deserves to be. As for this match, Naomi and Tamina SHOULD win. They won’t though because the Bella’s have the stroke and the company knows that no one really cares.

Winners: The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie)

The Ascension vs. Macho Mandow & Curtis Axelmania (PPV Kickoff Show).

So here we go with the poor man’s 2015 version of the Legion of Doom taking on the psuedo not quite Mega Powers in a parody of what would have been one of the greatest dream matches of the late 80’s. I’m actually looking forward to this and am looking forward to seeing what Axel and Mandow can do as a team. It’s bordering on sacreligious for wrestling fans, but then again, this is professional wrestling. Nothing is truly sacred. The Ascension have been buried since coming up to the main roster from NXT and really need a big win here to gain any kind of momentum. But Mandow and Axel are a truly guilty pleasure and are two men who I can really see the fans getting behind. I can already imagine the t-shirts and merchandising lol. The Ascension need this match more than anyone, but I’m going to go with Axel and Mandow here. Let the excitement and momentum build and then eventually, one of the Divas can be inserted into the mix and we can watch the “Psuedo Mega Powers” explode. They should be able to get several months of build from this gimmick. Now can you dig it… brutha!

Winners: Macho Mandow & Curtis Axelmania

And with that, it’s time to wrap this up and call it a day. This is a long one to be sure and thank you so very much for reading. Comments and thoughts can be sent to Doug28352@yahoo.com. Follow me on Twitter at @doug28352. And now, “dat’ is all de’ people need to know!”. I’m out of here. Have a great day and again, thank you.

Ubuntu!

WWE Payback Thoughts & Predictions

Coming up on Sunday is the WWE Payback PPV. And of course, that means channeling the Sister Cleo buried deep in my soul, with a touch of Gary Spivey as well. (Does anyone remember when he was Paul Orndorff’s “psychic friend” back in the classic WCW days? Yes, I am doing match predictions. Let’s get busy and do this.

Fatal Four Way: WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton – If Rollins fails to retain, Kane is fired from The Authority.

This is a match that I’m looking forward to and should be really, really good. And the stipulation makes it even more fun. Will Kane help out his Authority team-mate? Will he do as he did this past Monday and just stand by and watch? Will he just make token efforts to help Rollins, while truly not helping at all? And is it really time yet for the title to change hands?

I don’t think so. Not yet anyhow. Rollins has been phenomenal as the WWE World Champion and I’m really enjoying the tense situation between him and Kane, as well as his truely heel personality and I’d hate to see the WWE pull the plug on this title reign so soon. I want Seth to keep the belt at least until SummerSlam, where hopefully he can defend against a returning Brock Lesnar. So with that in mind, I think Kane (reluctantly) interferes and as a result, Seth manages to steal a win and retain the title. Yeah, that works for me.

Winner and STILL WWE World Champion: Seth Rollins

I Quit Match: WWE United States champion John Cena vs. Rusev.

John Cena is NOT going to quit. We know this. But if Rusev can’t do anything here in this match, it’s pretty much over for him and he goes to the bottom of the roster, to join Zack Ryder and Bray Wyatt as the men Cena buried. So what will the WWE do? Imagine this. The match is a true slobber-knocker and both men really look strong. Cena starts to dominate and it looks as if the end is near for Rusev. So what does Rusev do? Building on the teased tension lately between Rusev and Lana, Rusev decides to grab Lana and threatens her with physical harm. I know that the WWE doesn’t allow man-on-woman violence anymore, but stick with me here. Rusev has Lana in his powerful arms and knocks her to the ground. If John doesn’t give up and quit, he’s going to “break her back” or something of that nature. What will Cena do? If he goes after Rusev, Lana will be “injured” and hurt. If he “quits” so Rusev will let Lana go, he loses the U.S. title and the match. Cena goes into “Sting-mode” and in order to be the “good guy” and save Lana, he says those magic words. Rusev wins and gets the title. Cena goes to comfort and check on Lana and she turns on him, kicking him in the little Cena’s. Classic heel moves, Cena looks like a chump (but a good guy chump who didn’t have a choice) and the belt changes hands as it should. Works for me.

Winner and NEW United States Champion: Rusev

Best of Three Falls: WWE Tag Team champions The New Day vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd.

I love watching Tyson and Cesaro as a team and it really seems as if they’ve found their nitch. But, and I really hate to admit this, over the past two week or so, I’ve started to enjoy the heel version of the New Day. The original concept really sucked, but they’ve adapted, switched it up a bit and are becoming a true guilty pleasure. So who wins here? Either way, I won’t be too upset. I think it’s too early to take the belts off the New Day team, so we’ll hold off on the title change until maybe the Elimination Chamber event at the end of the month. The current champs retain and it’s the start of a New Day.

Winners and STILL WWE Tag Team Champions: The New Day

Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler.

Dolph won at the last event, but Sheamus had the last laugh if you will. So at Payback, it’s going to be Sheamus getting the pin and win, but Dolph will have some antics up his sleeve and get the last laugh. And there you go.

Winner: Sheamus

Bray Wyatt vs. Ryback.

I want Bray to win. Bray hasn’t won a match on pay-per-view in nearly forever and needs to win. But Ryback is the company’s mid-card golden boy (this week anyhow) and can’t really handle a loss at this point and time. So look for the reunification of the “Wyatt Family” and let’s throw in Bo Dallas as an associate too (just because). Ryback wins by DQ (and takes one helluva beatdown) while Bray takes another loss, albeit by DQ. But it won’t matter because all everyone will be thinking and talking about is that Bray has gotten the family back together.

Winner by DQ: Ryback

King Barrett vs. Neville.

This should be another good match between the two men. I’m kind of thinking that Neville should win and keep his strong momentum going, but Barrett took a pin at the last pay-per-view event. But then again, Barrett won the King of the Ring event by pinning Neville. So this is the “rubber match” and could go either way. Hmmmm. Neville is the up-and-coming future and the powers-that-be are high on this kid so I’m thinking that Payback will be his night against the current WWE King of the Ring. King Barrett, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you. You’re going to lose.

Winner: Neville

Naomi and Tamina Snuka vs. WWE Divas champion Nikki Bella & Brie Bella.

When did the Bella Twins become faces? Does anyone even really care? It’s good to see Tamina back in action and being the bad-ass butt-kicker that she deserves to be. As for this match, Naomi and Tamina SHOULD win. They won’t though because the Bella’s have the stroke and the company knows that no one really cares.

Winners: The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie)

The Ascension vs. Macho Mandow & Curtis Axelmania (PPV Kickoff Show).

So here we go with the poor man’s 2015 version of the Legion of Doom taking on the psuedo not quite Mega Powers in a parody of what would have been one of the greatest dream matches of the late 80’s. I’m actually looking forward to this and am looking forward to seeing what Axel and Mandow can do as a team. It’s bordering on sacreligious for wrestling fans, but then again, this is professional wrestling. Nothing is truly sacred. The Ascension have been buried since coming up to the main roster from NXT and really need a big win here to gain any kind of momentum. But Mandow and Axel are a truly guilty pleasure and are two men who I can really see the fans getting behind. I can already imagine the t-shirts and merchandising lol. The Ascension need this match more than anyone, but I’m going to go with Axel and Mandow here. Let the excitement and momentum build and then eventually, one of the Divas can be inserted into the mix and we can watch the “Psuedo Mega Powers” explode. They should be able to get several months of build from this gimmick. Now can you dig it… brutha!

Winners: Macho Mandow & Curtis Axelmania

And there you go. My thoughts and predictions about Payback, coming up Sunday night on pay-per-view and on the WWE Network. Comments and thoughts welcome. Thanks for reading. And dat’ is all de’ people need to know!

Ubuntu!