Friday, January 4, 2013

AJ Lee's success mean fans should expect more relations

There is no doubt that AJ Lee must be under consideration for most influential Superstar of the year in 2012, and is arguably the most important WWE diva on television for a decade.

This is remarkable as she started the year as valet to then-World Heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan, which—at the time—was considered a major push for her.

How highly AJ is being considered is all the more inconceivable considering the success others have had in 2012.

CM Punk has held the WWE title for every moment of the year, while Sheamus started 2012 with a Royal Rumble victory, took the World Heavyweight title in 18 seconds at WrestleMania and then proceeded to take part in every match involving that belt during the rest of the year.

Yet AJ—through her many relationships with top-named Superstars and how those trysts have impacted championships and championship contenders—can be seen as a force of nature that has had a greater overall effect than any one man in the company has by himself.

More important than AJ’s rise to prominence are the lessons learned—or at least remembered— by WWE’s creative team regarding how women can be utilized as more than eye candy or in-ring competitors.  

Women can seduce, anger and infuriate men into actions that he would be unlikely to do otherwise. Using this ability opens up new and interesting situations for the WWE to explore, and innovation is one of the keys to compelling television.

WWE applied this thinking in the run up to SummerSlam, when Stephanie McMahon was able to get Paul Heyman to agree to a match between her husband Triple H and Brock Lesnar when other methods had failed.

The love of a good woman—or a Superstar protecting the reputation of one—has also been shown to be a great motivation for friends to come into conflict. The classic feud between Chris Jericho and Christian over Trish Stratus shows how good such a rivalry can be, and the WWE has rediscovered that potency with AJ multiple times this year.

Of course it was Eve—not AJ—who was the first to show how a woman can affect a feud by seemingly courting then-U.S. champion Zack Ryder in January, when she was actually using him to get closer to John Cena.

For a short time, this successfully put Cena into a position where he could have been in conflict with other faces while not being at fault. Finding ways to pit good guys or bad guys against one another is so important to the WWE, as this opens up fresh feuds for them to have and new dynamics to work with.

One woman who has been showing the effectiveness of a female character for several years is Vickie Guerrero. From her run as Smackdown general manager and her support of husband Edge, to managing Dolph Ziggler into a position where he has the opportunity to be a star, Vickie has shown what a strong female role can do for others.

Perhaps it ought to be Vickie who should really get the plaudits for reintroducing such ideas to the minds of WWE’s creative team rather than AJ, who has benefited from it.

Throwing together a Superstar and a diva is not always going to lead to a successful storyline, or even a productive partnership. Ted DiBiase’s and Maryse’s run was disastrous for both individuals, with one languishing at the bottom of WWE’s undercard and the other moving on from the company completely.

Regardless, after the success of AJ and others in 2012, it has become the logical choice to connect more divas with Superstars. This has already begun to happen, as WWE fans have recently seen Alberto Del Rio flirt with Rosa Mendes while The Great Khali has been accompanied by Natalya.

WWE Has Become Vince's Personal Playground

Vince treats the WWE superstars like a bunch of toys. Each wrestler is just an action figure that he can pose and bend in any way he sees fit. Hall-of-Famer Sgt. Slaughter? Haul him out of retirement to lose in an unannounced match in a minute!

Mae Young? Dust her off and re-enact a horrible angle from 14 years ago!

Hornswoggle? Slap that grown man in a diaper after emerging from an 89-year-old woman' know.

The Shield? Show badly photoshopped pictures of them as babies!

Dolph Ziggler? Remind everyone that he was a cheerleader and a caddy!

Vickie Guerrero? She should fart! They haven’t had a woman fart on live TV in a while!

AJ Lee? Time to dump doo doo on her!

Seriously, what is going on with this company? More importantly, what is going on with Vince McMahon?

At 67 years old, he has been putting out a baffling, inconsistent, horrendously unfunny product.

Look at the crowd’s reaction after those sketches. They’re not doubling over in laughter. They’re not applauding. They’re sitting there in confusion and even disgust.

They didn’t pay to watch some lame backstage antics.

It’s not just the holiday season, either. It has become commonplace for the show to be filled with material that only seems to appeal to the boss.

How about those segments where Vince treated Vickie like an idiot and basically tricked her into booking matches?

That’s how a pay-per-view main event was announced! Cena vs. Ziggler with Money-in-the-Bank on the line was promoted with comedy.

Still, it made Vince look smarter than Vickie, which must have been the point of airing it.

Or how about when senior citizen Vince McMahon (complete with an action figure’s physique) booked himself to fight CM Punk and proved he could still hang with the WWE champ? 

The WWE has always had quirky, corny humor, but in the past they've been funny, at least occasionally.

Lately, they are failing in every possible way at being innovative, and instead have become increasingly embarrassing to watch with family or friends.

The New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve episodes highlighted everything that was wrong with the company.

Some fans will say that it’s no big deal, because it was just the holiday episodes.

But we’re not talking about your regular 30-minute sitcom's holiday-themed episode. This was eight hours of TV that was devoted to WWE screwing around, breaking the fourth wall and treating their product like a joke.

We were in a world where Santa actually existed and title shots were handed out by ping-pong balls.

The WWE is in some sort of weird space and time warp where the show is stuck partly in the mid-1980s, and partly in Vince McMahon’s mind.

WWE is different from other TV shows. They don’t just rely on ratings. They need to convince people to buy tickets to their events and order their pay-per-views.

The overall tone of WWE and its promotional style isn’t working. The company is failing to get fans to invest in their product.

In the 1980s, they were pretty goofy too, but they knew when it was time to get serious.

Hogan’s feuds with Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy and The Ultimate Warrior didn’t involve him dropping feces on them. He didn’t constantly laugh in his opponent's face about “grabbing a pint,” and the top heels (or wait, is Alberto Del Rio a face?) never ran over Santa Claus.

Sure, the WWF had acts like The Bushwhackers, but they were over with the audience. Khali and Hornswoggle are not over. The only reason they have stuck around so long is that someone in power is amused by them.

It’s too bad that he, or she, is the only one.

If fans wanted to watch a pure comedy show, they would do that. But wrestling is essentially its own genre of entertainment. Fans, especially longer-tenured ones, still watch wrestling for the wrestling. The drama that airs should exist to complement and promote the in-ring action.

Somewhere along the way, Vince has forgotten that. Or he just doesn’t care anymore.

He just wants to play.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Rock's Possible Impact on Royal Rumble

There’s one major key to the WWE Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 29, and his name is The Rock.
While it’s usually difficult to say that one man controls the future of an entire company, this is a rare case in which that’s actually true.
Whatever happens with The Rock at the Royal Rumble later this month isn’t just going to affect The Rock and his opponent, CM Punk. It’s going to have a domino effect on all of the WWE’s major storylines going forward.
The widespread expectation going into the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble is that The Rock will end Punk’s 400-plus day title reign and then go on to defend the title against John Cena at WrestleMania 29.
If that’s true, then the WWE is going to have to find a way to get to Cena vs. Rock II at WrestleMania, which most likely means that Cena would win the Royal Rumble.
But then the WWE is put in the unfortunate situation of having a part-timer as the holder of its top title and having no WWE Championship defenses on house shows for more than two months.
That, of course, creates a bit of a predicament for the WWE that could lead company officials to doing something else with The Rock at the Royal Rumble.
There’s the seemingly unlikely scenario that The Rock loses the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble in shady fashion and thus, gets himself a rematch against Punk at WrestleMania 29, either in singles action or a Triple Threat match that also involves Cena.
Yet, there’s also another possibility that not many seem to be considering: The Rock losing to Punk and going on to face someone else at Mania. 
That could lead to a non-WWE title match against Cena or perhaps a bout against someone like The Undertaker or even Brock Lesnar.
No matter what the scenario is, though, there’s always one common ingredient here: The Rock. 
While he may technically be a part-time superstar, he is the most important piece of the WWE at its most pivotal time of the year. Like it or not, he holds the immediate and long-term futures of the WWE in the palm of his hand.
“The Rock has been under the impression for some time that he would be the one to end Punk’s reign at the Royal Rumble.”
That, of course, leads us to believe that The Rock is destined to win the WWE title on that night. No matter what.
But this is about more than just The Rock. This is about Cena, Punk and the WWE as a whole.
Whatever the WWE decides to do with The Rock in just a few weeks at The Royal Rumble is going to turn out to be one of the WWE’s biggest decisions in recent memory.
It’s not just going to determine the immediate and long-term futures of The Rock and Punk. 
It’s going to determine who wins the 2013 Royal Rumble later that night, it’s going to determine who faces whom at WrestleMania 29 and it’s going to determine the immediate future of the WWE Championship, which has been around the waist of the same man for more than 400 days. 
That’s why when fans call this match one of the biggest in WWE history, they’re 100 percent right about that.
Not even The Rock vs. Cena had as big of an effect on the WWE’s booking as The Rock vs. Punk will.
In fact, what happens with The Rock at the Royal Rumble will quite literally determine the futures of everyone from Cena to Punk to Ryback to Lesnar to Undertaker to Daniel Bryan.
When one domino falls, so does another, then another and then another.
The Rock is that first domino. Which way will he go?


Friday, December 28, 2012

The Rock's 2013 Schedule Reveals is reporting that The Rock will be appearing on WWE television seven times in 2013. However he has also been advertised for a variety of other appearances which are not listed on the site.
SEScoops has a fairly detailed list of appearances in an article, which I subsequently cross-checked with a number of other major sources to confirm. The list does not include every appearance included on WWE's own list however, presumably because WWE keeps announcing more appearances by The Rock every day, making it hard to keep track. 
I have combined the two lists to create this more complete set of appearances and scouted the internet for any additional ones.

The Rock's WWE Schedule (as of December 27th, 2012) 
  • January 7th Tampa, Florida (Raw)
  • January 11th Miami, Florida (SmackDown
  • January 21st San Jose, California (Raw)
  • January 25th Sacramento, California (SmackDown
  • January 27th Phoenix, Arizona (Royal Rumble)
  • January 28th Las Vegas, Nevada (Raw)
  • February 17th New Orleans, Louisiana (Elimination Chamber)
  • February 18th Lafayette, Louisiana (Raw) 
  • April 7th East Rutherford, New Jersey (WrestleMania XXIX)
SmackDown is of course taped on a Tuesday despite going out on a Friday. The dates listed above are when the shows will be broadcast, as most of WWE's audience for televised shows comes in the form of watchers at home, not live crowds. 
This is simply a list of confirmed dates. It is very likely that The Rock will have numerous more appearances announced for March. At the very least, I am certain he will appear at the go-home Raw for WrestleMania XXIX, but it is likely he will appear on several episodes of Raw that month.

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