Eric’s Blog: #WWEWorldHeavyweightTitle match did not require 1-on-1 traditional stipulations

Last night’s match at the WWE TLC pay-per-view to unify the WWE Title and the World Heavyweight Title has a number of detractors for a number of reasons:

  • It didn’t have big-match build.
  • It didn’t have a big-match feel.
  • It wasn’t a traditional, one-on-one match.
  • It wasn’t very creative; they even rehashed the handcuff gimmick from a TLC match held only two years ago.
  • The finish was botched, which wouldn’t have been an issue had it been a traditional, one-on-one match, freed of its abstract Tables, Ladders and Chairs stipulations.
  • The match probably didn’t have a big-match feel because it wasn’t a traditional, one-on-one match, grappled in the past by the likes of Jim Londos, George Hackenschmidt and King Mabel.

Some of the criticism holds water: If John Cena weren’t expected to crash through a table, there wouldn’t have been a table to miss. Had the catalyst of the match not been the non-wrestling figurehead Triple H, it may have had a stronger build. Hell, had it not been held at a glorified In Your House, maybe the wrestling audience would have cared, period.

But the one argument I refuse to agree with is that, to paraphrase, “a title match of this magnitude should have just been a traditional, one-on-one match.” This sentiment popped up on Twitter a handful of times before, during, and especially after the match. A mouth-breather from Yahoo (and what a perfect last name, Durr) had this to say:

And shame on the WWE for having such an important match contested in a TLC match in the first place. If it wanted to truly build an appreciation for the unification of the two championships, the match should have been contested in a tradition [sic] one-on-one match. The WWE relied heavily on the history of both championships in its buildup of the match but elected to contest the all-important unification in a gimmick match.

Gimmick matches rank among some of the greatest matches of all time, that much we can all agree with. But to poo-poo on adding a gimmick to a title match, a title unification match, or any other one-of-a-kind main-event match is poo-pooing the very wrestling history you’re attempting to salvage. Rose-colored glasses may only allow in epic world title matches like Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat or Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, but they improperly filter out classics like the Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels ironman match, or Ric Flair vs. Harley Race in a steel cage, or…

If you really want your argument stomped out like Smokey the Bear attacking a cigarette in the woods, look no further than the 1992 Royal Rumble. Regarded as one of the greatest matches in pro wrestling history, the Rumble match crowned Ric Flair as the new WWF Champion after a month of vacancy, in a contest pitting not one, not one-on-one, but 30 wrestlers against each other. And not even all at the same time! Gasp! The horror! Wrestling history iz DEAD!

Granted, the examples I can offer are limited. Have there been fewer gimmick matches than traditional to either decide or unify versions of the World Heavyweight Title? Yes. Does the fact that those few matches were gimmick matches preclude an incredible quality of athleticism or level of excitement? Absolutely not. If you wish to complain, don’t hate the chair, hate the chairman.

Stunt Granny Audio #240

mullet 001Jeremy & Kevin are your hosts this week. Though they are using better recording technology than a telephone, it is not working all that well to start. Bad connections get them to talk about bad referees. Jeremy veers the conversation into high school photographs. Are the pictures really air brushed now? What hairdo did Jeremy sport?  Kevin would have looked perfect in an Iroc -Z with his hair style. They finally get around to talking about wrestling and start with the imminent departure of AJ Styles from TNA. Why did TNA let him carry the title around the world if they weren’t going to re-sign him? Does the company owe him anything? Does he owe the company anything? Which one of the guys thinks that the WWE machine could turn Styles into something better? Jeremy & Kevin move along to talking about the build to TLC. The final segment sold the Randy Orton vs John Cena match, but did it throw off the story lines for CM Punk and Daniel Bryan? How much speculation came from Punk attacking HHH and Bryan kneeing Shawn Michaels? As for Punk’s opponents, who does Seth Rollins get compared to since he is the least hyped member of the trio? Who can Jeremy see imitating Nick Bockwinkel and Ric Flair in the character department? Can Jeremy remember anyone’s correct name from the Wyatt Family? Him and Kevin end the show giving their prediction for the main event of TLC. Find out who they picked when you click the link below.

Eric’s Blog: What’s right and what’s wrong with Randy Orton

“I’m gonna sock you in the nose!”

Randy Orton successfully defended his WWE Championship this past Sunday at the 27th Survivor Series, against the much larger Big Show, and after months of cheating, yet defeating, his previous arch-nemesis Daniel Bryan.

And somehow, “the face of WWE” continues to play second fiddle to the usually overbearing, always long-winded, semi-retired sports entertainer and the latest ina revolving door of heel authority figures, Triple H.

WWE has done quite a few things right with Orton’s current championship reign, but the negatives throughout the storyline are tipping the scales out of Orton’s favor. Let’s take a quick look at the good and the bad.

Good: For someone like Orton, dragging the Money in the Bank around seemed like a demotion. However, it was a guaranteed title shot, and he cashed it in at Summerslam, atthe opportune time for an evil heel – when his on-again, off-again bearded buddy and brand new WWE Champ Daniel Bryan least expected it and could least combat it. A couple of swift moves and, boom, new WWE Champion.

Bad: It happened at the whim of Triple H.

Good: Orton loses the WWE Title back to the still red-hot Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions, only to devilishly demand it back the following night on Monday Night Raw, through a web of lies, deceit and nefariousness.

Bad: All of those lies, that deceit and that nefariousness were actually at the hands of Triple H.

Good: Big Show is introduced into the storyline, as Bryan’s bestie but befuddled by bad breaks in finance, bringing him to the beck and call of the bad guy’s side. Orton saves a little face thanks to a no-contest after Big Show’s hesitant interference, injecting an ancillary player into a headlining spot.

Bad: Big Show was actually intimidated into this whole thing by the mean boss who bought his mortgage, Triple H. Hunter then holds the title in “abeyance,” a 10-cent word that should never be uttered in pro wrestling again.

Good: Orton wins the WWE Title in brutal fashion against his summertime nemesis, Bryan, in the demonic Hell in a Cell, becoming once again the face of WWE.

Bad: That only happened because Bryan was superkicked by special referee Shawn Michaels, best friend of Triple H.

Good: Orton gets a win over Big Show at the (former) fourth-biggest pay-per-view on the WWE calendar, Survivor Series, using the punt kick that has shelved numerous opponents in the past.

Bad: Orton had to capitalize on non-physical interference by Triple H.

Yet to be determined: Survivor Series closes with a staring contest between World Heavyweight Champion John Cena and WWE Champion Randy Orton, teasing a future contest between the two.

Bad: John Cena was standing next to Triple H.

Subtract the common thread of You-Know-Who, and WWE has done an excellent job booking a heel champion, and even more important, making lemonade out of lemons. The underachieving Orton has spent 11 years in the WWE, kinda sorta over with the crowd as both a heel and a babyface, but never really carrying the WWE torch.

Now, if he can’t carry it, it’s because he can’t wrestle it out of the grasp of a guy who doesn’t even wrestle anymore.

When it comes time to book the big blow-off match for this months-long storyline, who will you pay to see get beaten up? I’m not sure, either.

Eric’s Blog: For CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, Benoit and Guerrero comparisons a little too apropos

CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, in happier times. Like, last night.

Last night at the WWE TLC pay-per-view, long-time indy favorite and beloved smallish pro wrestler Daniel Bryan did the unthinkable: He pinned a 500-pound wrestling giant to win the World Heavyweight Championship. When the above picture of fellow champion CM Punk and Bryan surfaced, comparisons to the late, regaled and internationally celebrated Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were instant: Two scruffy, 200-pound darlings of the hardcore type of fan had finally made it in the land of storybook monsters and mythological heroes. Think this is going to last very long? History tells you not to bet on it.

What seems like a million years ago but was really only in 1992, the WWF was staving off the symptoms of internal sex, drugs and rock-and-roll scandals. A handful of then-current and then-past WWF employees were being accused of sexual exploits with under-aged, starry-eyed, same-sex nubiles. Vince McMahon was being implicated in stories from women painting him an insatiable sexual monster. Multi-time champion, world-renown hero and No. 1 merchandise peddler Hulk Hogan needed a break after eight years, not because Hulkamania no longer went wild but because the gravy train took a stop at “The Arsenio Hall Show,” where the 800-pound orange gorilla lied about his steroid use (“One time, brother,” and the needle had been stuck there ever since, dude), an issue that would put McMahon on trial for the better part of the next 18 months.

Without the Hulkster to weigh down the company, the WWF went in a few different directions with its headliners and championships. This experimentation was largely unheard of for the billion-dollar company; it had sold out arenas with the same guy on top since Bruno Sammartino’s inaugural eight-year reign. (Sure, Bob Backlund, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, was a pale, smallish guy, but a lot of other, bigger wrestlers headlined those cards.) Tinkering with success was simply not in the WWF formula, until fate (and the company’s own misgivings) forced its hand. Thankfully, in 1991, McMahon had brought in Ric Flair, largely considered the greatest professional wrestler ever, to be the chief antagonist, first for Hogan, then for famed star Roddy Piper, and later for Macho Man Randy Savage. It was with Savage that Flair battled for the WWF Championship, a prize normally held by someone who either weighed or looked like he could bench-press 300 pounds.

With the steroid issue bringing the WWF’s roster of physiques into question, McMahon began putting the belt on smaller, yet very accomplished wrestlers: first Flair, then Savage, then Flair again. But the writing was on the wall; one Wembley Stadium 80,000-plus sellout aside, box offices were dwindling as the WWF moved away from Goliath-versus-goliath main events. If there’s one other thing the McMahon family has always had a penchant for besides Herculean physiques, it’s Samoans.

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Stunt Granny Audio #55

Eric and Kevin are back to discuss the pros and cons of WWE Summerslam (yep, in a fair and balanced way). They also talk about how various WWE superstars’ careers are moving along after Summerslam, including MVP, Jack Swagger, Chris Jericho and Big Show, and other wrestlers who weren’t on the show, like Evan Bourne and the ladies. The guys also have a decent discussion on how the PG rating is really affecting WWE programming and what the writers need to be careful of. More than talking about just the matches on the recent shows, they really get in-depth about the minutiae of things! We’ll be damned!

Stunt Granny Audio #55

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