Ken Kidney provides a round-up of the latest news from the world of wrestling.
I really enjoyed writing the Wrestlemania blogs and I thought it would be a shame to leave it at that so I have decided to do a weekly wrestling column on Sport is Everything. Every week I’ll take you through the biggest talking points of the week and offer my opinions for what they’re worth. Every so often I’ll try to change it up with a feature on a specific topic that is bothering me or an interview should the opportunity present itself. I really want this to be a conversation. These are my observations and opinions , but all of the of the fun is in the debate so if you agree with me or think I’m an idiot I want to hear about it because, like our very own Sheamus, I love a good fight!
The first thing that struck me this week on Raw was that no less than four champions were pinned, one losing his title. WWE seems to have a policy of champions, especially heel champions and heels in general for that matter, losing literally all the time! It’s really frustrating and just because they’ve got the gold around their waste doesn’t mean they are impervious to the fans losing interest in them.
This ludicrous stop/start pushing trend has been the norm in WWE for years. They haven’t been able to truly commit to putting their support behind a star to establish them with the audience since Brock Lesnar walked out on them initially nearly a decade ago. They pushed Brock to the moon and put a lot of time and money into him only for Lesnar to walk away and leave him in the lurch. Since then, it seems that WWE is paranoid that if they give someone else the same treatment they will up and leave and another company will get receive all the benefits, like UFC did with Lesnar. This kind of insecurity has meant that the WWE is the lightest on top stars that it has ever been and have heavily been relying on part timers from the past to boost pay per view buy rates and ratings in recent years.
The most upsetting losses were brand new World Heavyweight Champion, Dolph Ziggler and now former United States champion, Antonio Cesaro.
Ziggler seems to lose 90% of the time these days, and it seems nothing has changed now that he is a champion. I thought things might have been different when he won the big one but it seems like it’s going to be more of the same. They need to give him the ball properly because he is more than capable of running with it. Maybe I’m old school but the world champion should be pinned on very rare occasions and it should be a big deal when they lose. Otherwise, it means nothing when they lose the title and people don’t believe in them.
Perhaps more upsetting is Antonio Cesaro losing the United States championship to Kofi Kingston. Cesaro since entering the WWE had been flying high with a record title reign and rare losses. He was on TV every week and his work in the ring and on the mic was up there with the best of them. All of a sudden, he started losing every week and was inexplicably left of Wrestlemania. CM Punk wore a Cesaro t-shirt at the big Wrestlemania press conference at Radio City Music Hall to voice his protest. Apparently, Punk was not the only one, many stars were surprised at his omission from the card based on how hard he had been working. This culminated with him unceremoniously dumping the title to Kingston this week. I should also note that the win does nothing for Kofi who is perennially stuck in the mid card. United States champ is his default setting at this point! There has been no reports of dissent in the locker room with Cesaro or issues with management which makes his sudden decline all the more baffling. It seems he is just another victim of WWE petty paranoia and indecision. Cesaro is one of the best all rounders in WWE, if not wrestling today in my opinion and given the chance, could be a top star in the company.
CM Punk cut a promo on Raw in which he talked about always looking forward and not enjoying his recent success while it was happening. He questioned what was next for him and walked off without another word. This was an angle to write Punk off TV for a couple of months. The straight edge superstar is pretty banged up having been on top for over a year. He has also never been out since his debut in 2006. Reports had suggested that Punk may have been out till Summerslam in August but he is advertised to return in May meaning that he will have just over a month off. I would have been in favour of the longer lay off so Punk could rest up properly in the interest of longevity. It would have also rested his face with the audience because it could be argued that he has been over exposed in the last year. It saddens me to see stars feeling pressured to return to action before they are ready so they can to avoid “losing their spot”. Besides, the absence coupled with a rejuvenated, possibly face CM Punk would have added new life to his character and given him the healing time he sorely needs.
In news for the next WWE Pay Per view offering Extreme Rules, Brock Lesnar challenged Triple H to a rubber match in their saga inside a steel cage match. I am not overly enthusiastic to see a third match between these two but maybe the cage can give it the added dimension that it needs. New World Heavyweight champ Dolph Ziggler will defend his title in triple threat match against former champion Alberto Del Rio and Jack Swagger. This match has match of the year potential if it is given adequate time which unfortunately I am doubtful that it will. New WWE champion looks set to take on Ryback. Ryback recently turned heel on John Cena, blaming him for his stalled career following his meteoric rise last year. It seems like they have had Ryback on pause since the end of last year. I would question if it’s too late for Ryback as his momentum has slowed significantly in recent months, due to WWE focusing on Rock vs. Cena II. It would only make a difference if he beat Cena emphatically to win the championship which I don’t see happening.
Rumours had surfaced recently about Dave Batista returning to WWE. He recently did an interview for an upcoming DVD release and was seen to bulk up to his previous WWE weight of 280 lbs. Batista had slimmed down in a recent bid to launch an MMA career. Batista has said that he is open to a return but it now seems that the weight gain was for his upcoming role as Drax in the upcoming Marvel adaptation of “Guardian of the Galaxy” which is due to shoot in London in June. After that he is due to run the press junket for his upcoming appearance in Riddick. This appears to kill the rumour for now but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him before they year is out to boost his movie career. High living Batista is also notorious for his expensive lifestyle. I would rather see them create new stars rather than entice old ones to return in the interest of a future where they are not an option, but hey what do I know and you can’t argue that these big names are good for business.
In quick TNA news, the company appears to have hit another viewership stumbling block. Spike TV is being dropped from the “V.I.P.” package for Canadian television network, Rodgers. Their weekly TV show, Impact Wrestling , will no longer be part of their basic package. TNA fans will be forced to purchase the “Classic” television package at an additional cost. Canada is a big wrestling market and this could be a big blow to the companies viewership in the country. TNA recently left their longtime home at Univeral Studios to take Impact tapings on the road. The Impact audience had become lethargic and overly familiar with the product. Since it taped in the same place every week and entry was free the audience was made up largely the same people each week. This indifference is translated to the viewing audience. While a lot more expensive, going on the road has meant a lot better crowds and long term I see it reflected in the ratings. They have stayed much the same and this recent setback will do them no favours, but I think it will be better for the company in the long run. I would hope to see TNA reach the next level to be in a position to compete with WWE. WWE has been the only big time player in town for over a decade and that has made them lazy. Competition is better for the business in general because it forces innovation and risk taking which more often than not, results in more satisfying payoffs for the audience.
TNA has also introduced new “Ref Cams” to give a previously unseen perspective on the action. I appreciate the innovation, TNA has been experimenting with a lot of new elements recently, but I would be concerned about the logistics of it, especially on a live TV show. Referees are a link between the production crew and the performers. My concern is that they may see or hear something that they are not supposed to especially on a live show, potentially shattering the illusion for the viewing audience at home.
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