Back to back days with NAI columns. This hasn’t happened in. . . Hmm, best not think about it.
Yesterday, I spelled out how Bray Wyatt, to me, is the only real answer for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. I received a fair amount of positive feedback for that piece, and I’m quite proud of it, although a lot of people mentioned whether, much like Taker before him, a character like Wyatt needs the belt. Fair point there, though my argument is that while Bray Wyatt might not need a title, he does need a concrete moment of becoming a true main event guy, and as much as I liked the pyro and lightning, it hasn’t happened yet.
However, in the interest of further discussion, today I will expand my horizons and consider other options. In fact, our goal today is to look back into the sands of time- specifically, previous WWF tournaments - and see whether or not we could see history repeat itself.
The History It was the height of the Attitude Era, and Stone Cold Steve Austin was feuding brilliantly with Mr. McMahon. Vince had done everything he could to force Austin to lose the title, putting him in a Triple Threat match with Kane AND The Undertaker, though the Brothers of Destruction weren’t allowed to pin each other. Both brothers wound up pinning Austin at the same time, and summarily (following some more Stone Cold hijinks) the belt was held up and awarded to the winner of a tournament.
The Rock and Mankind made it to the finals, and in a move that shocked the wrestling world, The Rock turned heel, joined The Corporation and won the World Title.
Roman Reigns will be playing the role of The Rock.
Dean Ambrose will be playing the role of Mick Foley.
Reigns and Ambrose battle their way to the finals, and somehow Triple H screws Dean over, Roman reveals he is in cahoots with The Authority, and we’re off and running on the Road to Wrestlemania.
Why Would it Work?
This one is the tournament most people have and will think of, both because of happening at Survivor Series and because of the seemingly “easy booking” of the result. Fans have been rabidly anticipating one of the two remaining Shield Brothers to turn on the other, and by having Roman turn heel and join The Authority, you can make a lot of people happy, plus it gives Reigns an out, as I explain further down in this column.
In reality, Ambrose would be more of a Foley / Austin combination here, as being betrayed by another brother sends him completely over the edge. More hiding in trunks, more taking over taxi cabs, basically everything that made Dean great before becoming Roman’s towel boy.
The History - During the feud between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, the Eighth Wonder of the World managed to win the World Title, thanks to some referee Twin Magic. The belt was held up and decided in a 14 man tournament.
Hogan and Andre faced each other in Round 2, both getting disqualified in the process. In the end, Randy Savage had a Herculean effort (Sadly, Hercules himself wasn’t in the tournament), winning four matches in one night to win his first World Title. Even so, however, he remained in the shadow of Hulk Hogan, who interfered to help Savage win the belt, sharing in his spotlight.
Roman Reigns will be playing the role of Randy Savage.
John Cena will be playing the role of Hulk Hogan.
We’ve spent the last few months talking all over social media about how Reigns is the New Cena, the next big star, yet just like Hulk Hogan in 1988, John Cena isn’t going anywhere soon. Thus, for the time being, these two stars need to figure out a way of co-existing on the same roster.
I envision Roman Reigns being set up with an impossible bracket for this tournament, having to take out Big Show, Bray Wyatt and perhaps even his best friend Dean Ambrose on his way to the finals. Exhausted, Reigns makes it to the finals, opposed by MITB winner Sheamus, who (as perhaps a new Authority member) has had more of a cake walk in this tournament.
The deck is stacked, it seems, and once again, Reigns will come so close, only to fall so far.
Enter John Cena.
Cena, not scheduled for the tournament and in a surprising move, makes a save for Reigns, allowing him to win his first World Championship.
Survivor Series ends with Cena and Reigns posing for the crowd, sharing the spotlight.
Why Would It Work?
As I said in last night’s column, Reigns isn’t quite ready yet, and shouldn’t be given the pressure of leading the company all on his own right now. Having Cena provide the assist allows them both to shoulder the weight of responsibility as THE guy.
Plus, as we saw by Wrestlemania V, the two best friends turned into bitter enemies, as Savage resented being in Hogan’s shadow and turned heel. But maybe now I’m just hoping.
This tournament was obviously not for a championship, but it’s the most famous KOTR for a reason, as this was the birth of Stone Cold Steve Austin, wrestling legend. Winning his tournament, Austin takes the microphone and cuts one of the greatest promos in history, cementing himself as a future megastar. The World Title was his within 2 years.
Kevin Owens will be playing the part of Steve Austin.
In order to fully explain this, we need to cover Why It Would Work as well.
One of the most common things I saw online following the news of Rollins’ injury was that it was time for someone on WWE’s roster to “step up”. Someone needs to take the proverbial brass ring and run with it. This is going to have to be more than just a solid performance in the ring - We see lots of those each and every week, yet it doesn’t necessarily do anything.
No, at Survivor Series, if someone is going to have an “Austin Arrival” moment, they need to do it on the microphone, letting us know that this was inevitable - that the rise to company domination was something that was only a matter of time.
Sorry Kanyon, but for that, Who Better Than Owens?
If WWE really and truly wants to announce their youth movement to the world, there’s no better way to do it than to give their title to a rookie. “I got here May 18th. Six months later, I’m the World Champion. What do you think of that, Cole?” His promo would write itself.
Kevin Owens could bring forth the dawn of a new era in professional wrestling, just like Steve Austin did nearly 20 years ago. Give him the title and the microphone, and he’ll take care of the rest.
What do YOU think? Will we see history repeat itself at Survivor Series? Be Heard
Much like pimping, limping or shrimping (if you haven’t read the story behind that from one of Mick Foley’s books, you should), promoting positivity isn’t always easy. Especially in today’s WWE. When I’m trying to find the bright side in Grumpy Cat, you know its going to be a long week.
(For the record, I thought The Miz did an excellent job acting alongside a cat. He made it seem like a bad movie, which is what that was. Plus, the stunt cat? Priceless. #SandowPower)
Looking at this Sunday’s Survivor Series card is also a tricky one to be uber-optimistic about - in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if many casual fans didn’t even realize that one of WWE’s “Big 4” PPV’s was right around the corner. I’ll save my thoughts on Survivor Series’ place in history for a later date, but suffice to say, WWE hasn’t done an amazing job building the card.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t without its excitement. I’m rather looking forward to Sunday night, and in my efforts to Promote Positivity until your stomach hurts, I’ll share my reasons why.
I’m looking forward to a traditional elimination tag match. As I’ve mentioned before (and you’ll read again shortly, I assure you), Survivor Series was THE big PPV of my young life. Being on a holiday and not a school night allowed for me to invite a bunch of friends over without worry, and there was always leftovers to nosh on. Good times were had, even when the teams were Queasy, Cheesy and Sleazy.
The SS format has always been a good one. You’re able to tell multiple stories over the course of one match, and ring psychology is at its peak (compared to the Royal Rumble, which I also like, but that match is really just wrestlers holding onto the ropes for dear life for an hour.) Which team will have a member eliminated first? Who will be left standing at the end? Lots of drama to be had, and if my high school career is any indication, I am a sucker for drama.
I’m looking forward to seeing potential future feuds teased during the main event. John Cena and Rusev, Ryback and Luke Harper, Ryback and Rusev, Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins, Cena and Erick Rowan (OK, so maybe that’s a stretch) - you’re almost guaranteed to see these athletes face off at some point during the night.
You are also almost guaranteed that WWE brass will be sitting in the back, listening very carefully to the crowd’s reaction to these face-offs. If Cena and Rusev wind up popping the crowd in their brief altercation, you can bet we’ll see them again in 2015.
I’m looking forward to seeing what twists and turns happen in the main event. While the majority of the PPV card has been thrown together last minute, the Team Cena versus The Authority storyline has been fully fleshed out. While most people are convinced they know what is going to happen ( Ziggler turns heel), there seems to be a lot of room for something unexpected.
I've gone on record in saying that I believe the entire team will either abandon or flat out turn on Cena, and while he will fight valiantly, as Cena always does, I think The Authority will win the day and keep their jobs. Mr. #KidsAndTroops has been noticeably absent in defending and protecting his teammates over the last few weeks, and I think their frustrations reach a boiling point during the main event.
John Cena may never turn heel in the “Hollywood” Hogan sense, but he has a much better chance of becoming a “Bret Hart heel”. Seeing the entire locker room turn on him for being so. . . “Cena-y” may cause him to throw up his hands and stop trying to earn our / their affection. “If you’re cool with me, great, I’ll still be your hero. If not. . .” I’ve used this line before in predicting how Cena might someday react, and I still think its a likely possibility.
I'm looking forward to seeing Luke Harper take another step forward in becoming a top-level talent in the WWE. He obviously has been on a roll as of late, considering he was nowhere to be seen a mere three weeks ago and now is the reigning Intercontinental Champion. I think the WWE knows what they have with Harper, and isn't going to shy away from letting him become big very soon.
I’m looking forward to seeing what role Randy Orton plays on Sunday. Most likely it’ll be a run-in, but the more I think about it, the more I think Erick Rowan might not make it to the main event. His addition is such a random throw-in that we might see him laid out by Harper and Henry during the Pre-Show, and Orton is the surprise 5th member of Team Cena.
Orton’s been on fire lately and seems to be a big part of WWE’s plans for TLC and beyond, so look for him on Sunday.
I'm looking forward to seeing Bray Wyatt and Dean Ambrose have the first of what I have to believe will be many matches against each other in their careers. This feud, which looked to be the biggest one of all following Hell in a Cell, has been pushed onto the back burner thanks to the Cena / Authority saga.
Unlike many, who have been very vocal in their displeasure with this, I don't have as much of a problem. I think this feud is one that needs a slow start. There was never going to be a single good reason for Bray Wyatt to attack Ambrose, and so asking him to magically create one is silly.
This feud needs time. Time to build. Time for the two men to get a history. Time for them to mess with each other's minds and lives, to the point where they are truly and believably ready to kill each other. It's not going to happen overnight, and I certainly don't mind enjoying their first match while I wait for something bigger to come along. Just please don’t let it be The Ascension - Bray doesn’t need another family.
I’m looking forward to seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in the Bella feud. I have cared absolutely zero for this story arc after seeing Nikki turn heel at Summer Slam.
Here’s what I think happens. Brie helps Nikki win the belt willingly, confusing everyone. On RAW the next night, Brie says the reason she did it is so she can personally take the title from her sister. Hopefully that means we have one final match between the two and then the Divas division can move on.
If my prediction doesn’t happen, then hopefully Charlotte (the best women’s wrestler on this planet and others) comes out and just mops the floor with everyone. I’m not picky.
I’m looking forward to the tag team title match. Is the division incredibly thin? Yes. Is that a long-term problem? Goodness, yes. Will we see an entertaining match on Sunday? For a third time, yes.
I’m hoping this winds up being another elimination match. Goes with the survival theme and also stretches it out, since right now SS is 5 matches long.
I’m looking forward to our new tag team champions, Damien Mizdow and The Miz! The writing is on the wall here - these two are the only reason to even watch tag team wrestling in WWE, and both of them have been absolutely perfect in telling their story.
Hate on Miz all you want, but he’s been tremendous. To prove my point, I’ve actually yelled at my television for him to tag Mizdow in, then laughed out loud when he does, then instantly tags back into the match. I’m a 31 year old man who is fully engaged in the story, to the point of interacting from my sofa. That’s the sign of a good story and amazing talent.
Once again, #SandowPower!
I’m looking forward to the time I will be able to go spend with my wife during the Divas elimination match. This should easily go 10-15 minutes, so I’ll be able to have an entire conversation and maybe even grab a snack before its over.
Oddle enough, I’m looking forward to Adam Rose and The Bunny, be it on the pre-show or the actual card. I’m not saying that the two of them in an actual PPV match is a positive thing - it isn’t - but I’ve been entertained enough by the story that I don’t mind seeing the match.
Dark Rose (if you missed it, my new name for the character) is much more enjoyable than Adam is and The Bunny is. . . Look, what do you want, its a guy in a Bunny suit!
My secret hope is that Fandango (who will apparently be new AND improved) comes down to help Dark Rose beat on the Bunny. It is revealed to be Justin Gabriel, and Tyson Kidd comes down to make the save. Boom - I’ve instantly added 2 teams to the weak WWE tag division right there. That’s about as good as you can get from this story.
Most of all, I’m looking forward to sharing the Survivor Series experience with the rest of the #NAI-bors, #WWEFamily, call it what you will. You all make wrestling much more fun and captivating than it ever was without you. I’ll see you Sunday!
This month’s Survivor Series is shaping up to be historic for a variety of ways; the most important of which has absolutely nothing to do with the potential disappearance of The Authority or any supposed heel or face turns that may or may not occur.
For the first time in almost 10 years, we are likely to have a Pay Per View with absolutely zero title matches.
Using the wonder of ProFightDB, I went back through the last 128 PPV events, searching for the last one that didn’t feature one championship contest. I had to go back all the way to One Night Stand from 2005 until I found one, and that’s even debatable to use since, as an ECW reunion show, there wouldn’t be any title matches anyway. I could go back further. . . but that sounds like hard work to me.
How odd is this phenomenon? There have only been 2 PPV’s in that same time period to only feature a single title defense. Now, to be fair, the majority of these last 10 years have featured at least 2 (and sometimes 3) brands, so title matches are an expected occurrence for culmination events, as most PPV’s are. But still, 128 events is a loooooong time.
“Now, DC,” you might be saying to yourselves, “we don’t know for sure that Survivor Series won’t feature a title match. What makes you think it’s going to happen?” And as always, dear reader, I’m glad you asked. I humbly submit my two (yes, only two) reasons for believing we will see no title matches at Survivor Series.
Reason 1: The elephant in the room (last seen taking a picture with a gopher).
As we Twitter-folk are all painfully aware, Brock Lesnar is almost certainly not going to be making an appearance leading up to Survivor Series. In fact, its growing more and more likely we won’t see our World Heavyweight Champion until 2015.
Originally, the belief was this was an opportunity to place the focus on the mid-card titles, stressing their significance, and that’s what has happened. Dolph Ziggler (and his opponents) have elevated the IC title to prominence, and for those happy few who subscribe to the WWE Network (sorry UK fans - I’m almost as irritated about it as you are) saw on Monday, Rusev, arguably the biggest non-Authority heel of 2014, now holds the US title.
However, now it seems as if we are taking a different path altogether. Rather than hyping the belts, we almost appear to be pushing them off to the side. Ziggler is now a major part of the Team Cena vs. Authority storyline, and the writing on the RAW wall suggests Rusev might be as well.
WWE logic seems to be “Let’s forget about these silly titles to tell a larger story; one, by the way, that the WHC doesn’t need to take part in.”
Reason 2: Too Many PPV’s, Not Enough Stories
A lot of Twitter-talk (especially @NewAgeInsiders, the premier place for wrestling fans to #BeHeard) has revolved around how, with the WWE Network, PPV’s don’t have as much significance as they once did. Perhaps it is time to scale those events back a bit - that seems to be the majority opinion.
While WWE doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to do this, it does (as my previous reason indicated) seem to be calling a “time-out” to a lot of major storylines in order to focus on this Cena / Authority piece. Solid and creative booking, true, but it also gives them a chance to prolong current feuds. It feels like we have a long road to go before the “Road to Wrestlemania” starts, and WWE seems to be trying to stall for time by sticking with (again, this is early signs here - things may change) traditional SS matches, and saving the “blow-off” events for TLC or the Rumble.
So, if there are to be no title matches, what does Survivor Series look like? I present my
UnInformed Predictions (just the matches, no results)
Team Cena (JC, Ziggler, Big Show, Sheamus and Orton) vs. Team Authority (Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev and Triple H)
I toyed with many guys for the 5th Authority spot. Cesaro would make sense but he’s not getting out of the doghouse by then. Batista could do a brief return appearance, but given that he’s “fighting for his job”, I think this is a perfect opportunity for Trips to make his in-ring return.
Also debated Ryback taking Orton’s spot, depending on the timeline for the movie Randy is making. Even thought of The Rock, planting another more overt seed for he and HHH’s seemingly inevitable clash at WM31. Decided to stick with Orton because he’s been so solid for them as the “crazier than Ambrose” guy.
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
I originally thought there will be some sort of stipulation here, like a Last Man Standing, but I suppose that should be saved for later on in their run. They are totally slow-burning this feud (again, stalling for time), so I expect this to continue til the Rumble at least.
Dust Brothers and Miz Twins vs. Uso’s and Matadors
This is the one that’s going to bite me in the ass, I know it. This will be the one title match of Survivor Series, a Fatal 4 Way elimination for the titles instead of the traditional 8 man match.
I’m counting on my two reasons to save me here, but I’ll admit, I’m nervous.
Divas SS Match
I call these uninformed predictions for a reason. I couldn’t tell you much of anything that is happening with the Diva’s division. I know one Bella is working for the other, I know AJ and Paige have no friends, and I know Emma keeps losing. That’s it.
I imagine Nikki will captain a team, and since the PPV falls within the 30 days of the supposed contract, I have to image Brie is on that team too. So Nikki, Brie, Layla and Summer and Alicia Fox vs. AJ, Natalya, Emma, Paige and whichever Funkadactyl is a face right now? Something like that? I’m trying to care, really, I am. Charlotte can’t join this division soon enough.
To be honest, I ran out of talent with the first four matches. All the upper level guys are either fighting in the main event or are Dean / Bray. Having an NXT showcase fills out the event, plus it gives more exposure to the Takeover event in December.
Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and the Lucha Dragons vs. Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd and the Vaudevillains
For those of you screaming for Finn Balor or KenTami, it’s not going to happen. This is about telling the biggest stories for Takeover (the two titles) and featuring two guys (Breeze and Kidd) who deserve their shot.
Hmm, the card is still missing something. Ok, how about a. . .
10 - 15 man Battle Royal for #1 Contender to the IC title
Battle Royals are all about survival, so it fits the theme of the event. This would be the perfect spot for Luke Harper or Bad News Barrett to return and immediately move (move back, in BNB’s case) to the mid-card title scene. Just make sure you tell Zack Ryder before he finds out about it on Twitter.
OK, so maybe this turned into fantasy booking rather than legit predictions, but look at that card and tell me you wouldn’t watch almost all of it.