March 4, 2015
By: Renny D
If you have ever taken a business course in your life you have probably heard the story of Kodak. Kodak was a camera and film company that dominated the photography space for many years. They had some of the best cameras and made 35mm film that fit those. Essentially if you wanted photos developed by a local photo shop you would use a Kodak camera to “burn” the image on Kodak film and bring that film into the store to get your prints. Kodak’s business model was strong and untouchable…until new technology came into the picture.
Now days we all have cell phones that take photos. Digital photography was a technology that Kodak did not adopt. As a result Kodak lost its market leader position to the likes of Cannon and Nikkon. Kodak today remains in business but when you ask photographers what brand do they prefer they will list off several before they mention Kodak.
The National Wrestling Alliance is Kodak. They had a strong business model that worked well “back in the day.” Failure to adopt new business trends and marketing avenues the NWA was passed by the Cannons and the Nikkons of the world (Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, Dragon Gate USA, etc). Now the NWA finds itself tryihg to regain dominance in the space saturated with all different genres of professional wrestling.
The NWA once owned the professional wrestling business. Once upon a time in professional wrestling there was only one World’s Heavyweight Champion, and that was the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. Former NWA champions include Harley Race, Terry Funk, the original nature boy Buddy Rodgers, the new nature boy Ric Flair, Lou Thesz, Jack Brisco, Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat and Sting. Those are all first ballet hall of famers in anyone’s eyes. At some point in the road the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship lost it’s luster.
Some people point to 1994 when the NWA started its downward spiral. Shane Douglas, the current NWA champion at that time, went on ECW television and disrespected the NWA title by tossing it on the ground. This obviously led to the vacancy of the world title. NWA World Champions after that were virtually not in the same league as Ric Flair with the exception of a few.
NWA tried for years to regain dominance in professional wrestling. An alliance with the Jarrett family and TNA Wrestling took place in 2002. Can you remember those days? NWA-TNA wrestling was the hot new upstart that was bound to take down the Galiath of WWE. SPOILER: That never happened.
The affiliation with TNA and national television exposure started to bring the NWA back to the forefront of professional wrestling. Their talent roster included guys like Jeff Jarrett, Ron Killings (R-Truth), AJ Styles, Somoa Joe, Sting, Rhino, Christian, Abyss, and Raven. This roster was solid and with good reason it brought the NWA back to the forefront.
In 2007 the affiliation with TNA wrestling ended. Jarrett sold TNA to the Carter family and the partnership dissolved. The NWA no longer had national TV exposure. They basically had to start from ground zero again.
A lot of trials and tribulations lead to the NWA brass putting the company up for sale in 2011/2012. A man who was highly involved with the NWA, Bruce Tharpe, showed interest in the fledgling company. In 2012 Bruch bought the National Wrestling Alliance with the intention of returning it to dominance again one day.
When Bruce bought the company the current NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion was either Colt Cabana or Adam Pearce. Both of these gentlemen had a big following on the independent level throughout the states and the world. The NWA had buzz. Colt had his Art of Wrestling podcast that he could utilize to market not only himself but the NWA World Title. Adam was just so damn good people wanted to see him.
Their feud became so large they developed a series of matches out of it and so became Seven Levels of Hate. The theory behind this was to travel the world doing a series of seven matches, or a best of seven, but as you can expect in professional wrestling you knew it was going to go all seven. This generated a ton of social media buzz. People wanted to see these matches. Their series of matches were distributed across the world on iPPV for several NWA affiliated and even some non-NWA affiliated promotions.
I had the honor of working a show that featured one of these matches. It was for Steel Domain Wrestling in Hopkins, MN. Adam and Colt were going to wrestle in an “I Quit” match for the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship. The finish was awesome. Adam choked out Colt with the top rope but Colt never quit. In the end Colt walked away victorious putting the series at 3-0 Colt (I believe this was the count).
This match generated more buzz for Colt, Adam, and the NWA. They were making towns having hellacious matches and stealing the show wherever they went. The dirt sheet websites were picking up on this series. More and more wrestling fans were beginning to take notice. The NWA was in a good spot. Then for whatever reason they killed it.
The NWA decided that they didn’t want Colt Cabana as their world’s champion. Why? I still have no idea. The match was a cage match in the land down under of Australia. Colt Cabana won the match. Adam Pearce gave Colt the title but then shades of Shane Douglas took place as Colt said he didn’t want the title because the “leaders” of the NWA didn’t appreciate him and what he was doing. Adam Pearce also agreed with this. The video went viral.
The dirt sheets picked up on this story and it shed a bad light on the NWA. This is not what Bruce intended for, wanted, or needed. After our interview this past week with Bruce he made it apparent that it was not the right decision and he should have had a more hands-on role in this decision. This decision put the NWA back to square one.
Since that infamous moment the NWA has been on an uphill battle to get back to where it wants to be. They face many challenges in the years ahead. The wrestling business is saturated. There are a lot of good promotions and there are a lot of bad ones. The NWA needs to be different to succeed. They need something that they haven’t had in a long time. They need a special attraction.
Companies like Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Syndicate, and Dragon Gate USA are using nationally known talent because of either their in-ring skills or the marketability they have with them. Guys like Colt Cabana, Ricochet, AJ Styles, Somoa Joe, Even Bourne, Drew Galloway, etc. These are guys the fans want to pay to see. The NWA doesn’t have many of these worldly known talents. They need that.
Their NWA champion was Rob Conway. Rob Conway is a good worker. Great wrestler. With no disrespect at all, Mr. Conway is no Ric Flair. The NWA needs a champion that can bring back those three letters into dominance. They need someone that is marketable. They need someone, most importantly, that fans want to pay money to see. Their new champion is Hiroyshi Tenzan, a great talent. To the American audience he is virtually unknown. To the international audience he has more buzz. So they need to decide what they want. Do they want to be known more internationally or domestically or both? Bruce told me he wants to grow both channels. You can continue to build your own stars, but to do so it’s important to bring in other people to help build them.
My suggestion to the NWA is to continue to work hard. Look outside of the NWA for talents. Look domestically to grab hot names on the scene that can utilize their avenues to help promote your brand. Look at guys like The Young Bucks who are arguably the best tag team in the world. Look at guys like Drew Galloway, a former WWE talent with a lot of buzz. Expand your roster to feature guys that people want to pay money to see. Build a program around the world title that people want to invest in. The program starts with your main title. Make sure you have a storyline in place that is intriguing, interesting, but most importantly put asses in the seat.
I trust that Bruce has good intentions for the NWA. He is passionate about it. That is something you cannot teach. The skills he doesn’t have in certain areas, whether it be marketing or sales (although he is a lawyer so sales should be easy) is something he can surround himself with. I want the NWA to do well. I want it to become extremely popular again.
The more good wrestling there is the better it is for the business as a whole. Bruce is working on a TV deal, content to be delivered online, and an app similar to WWE network. I have offered to help in anyway I can as well. I love a good comeback story. Since Kodak screwed theirs up, maybe the NWA can be that success story. I will continue to pull for Bruce and the National Wrestling Alliance.
Bird’s Eye Point of View of a Future WWE Superstar
By Renny D
January 11, 2015
My last match in a professional wrestling ring was March 28, 2014 for Prime Time Wrestling in Bloomington, MN. Since that time I have only attended WWE events. I never once stepped foot into a high school gym, armory, or even a county fair. I didn’t want to put myself around indy wrestling right away. That changed this past Friday (January 9, 2015) when I decided to go to First Avenue Nightclub to watch my old friends perform for F1rst Wrestling WrestlePalooza V.
I wrested the first three Wrestle Palooza events at First Avenue. They are a party. As workers we looked forward to the passionate crowds, the free flowing beer, and the ability to cut a promo and use expletives. They were fun, exactly what professional wrestling should be. Watching the show as a “fan” for the first time ever I had a chance to really watch the wrestlers, my family, perform. You could just see their enthusiasm, their passion, and their love for professional wrestling. One of those guys that will live, breath, and die professional wrestling is Ariya Daivari.
Ariya Daivari is a professional wrestler based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has been wrestling professionally for his entire adult life. His story is similar to mine. We both started in our teens. We both knew we wanted to be professional wrestlers at a very early age. Ariya has had to “live” in the shadow of his older brother, Shawn, for the better part of his career. He has been historically referred to as Shawn Daivari’s little brother. Not that it is a bad thing.
Our paths crossed early on in my career but it took almost nine years for us to finally work together on a match. It was a match that catapulted me forward in my quest to be a WWE superstar. I had just returned from ACL surgery and promotions were giving me a chance to make my comeback. Prime Time Wrestling offered us the chance to work for the first time. It was the first of several matches we would have together, and it really helped me in gaining my confidence back in the ring.
I have wrestled Ariya several times. Were any of those matches my best match? No. Were any of those matches his best match? No. The two of us have a mutual respect for each other that you can only understand if you’re in this business. Although I have had better matches with other wrestlers I considered Ariya one of the best in the entire wrestling business. His best was finally recognized when the WWE called him to be an extra at a live taping in Des Moines, IA in September 2013.
September 2013 was also the time WWE invited me to be an extra for their live tapings. If you’re good at this game you can put two and two together to realize that Ariya and I were at the tapings together. It was both our first time. I can accredit this to Ariya as he helped me get in contact with WWE. For a second it almost felt like we were Ken Anderson and Shawn Daivari, two good friends working together to get our big break into New York. Ariya if you’re reading this I can never thank you enough for that.
Am I an Ariya Daivari mark? The answer to that is hell yes I am. I knew Ariya was good. Hell, I knew he was great. WWE may have told him that they don’t have room for him yet, or to keep waiting, or to find something he currently does not have, but Friday night at Wrestle Palooza I finally felt 100% certain that he had everything that was needed to be a WWE star.
It wasn’t that I ever doubted he had what it took to be a WWE star. The issue might have been his gimmick. The WWE may not be looking for a Middle Eastern character. However, Ariya Daivari is much more than that. Ariya is talented enough to work any gimmick, any angle, and any worker. Ariya Daivari is that damn good.
I had a chance to watch Ariya work a match with Arik Cannon, one of the best independent workers in the country. I knew Ariya could work. I knew he could structure a match efficiently, be effective, cut great promos, and get over. The thing that Ariya did in this match that I never had a chance to witness before, because I was working him, was his mannerisms in the ring: the facial expressions, the little twitches and body movements he made. He was in the moment and he looked like a star. He looked like a WWE superstar.
Ariya has stepped up his game considerably in the past year. I think whatever WWE told him at his tryout camp last December really drove him to be the best he can be. It is evident not just by me, not just by the fans, but by all the boys in the back that he is the real deal. So why am I writing about him? The hope is that for my listeners and people who are not familiar with him to get familiar with him, because I firmly believe you will see him on WWE TV in the future. He is young. He is good. He has the desire. He has the passion. He has no quit in him.
There’s an old saying in this business that you can count your true friends on one hand. I’ve had the opportunity to hang out with Ariya outside of the ropes. We have gotten to know each other outside the world of wrestling. I would consider Ariya one of those five.
Would he step on my toes to get ahead? Would he stab me in the back? Would he throw me under the bus? Absolutely. But that is exactly what it takes to be a WWE superstar and I wouldn’t expect anything else. Ariya might be known as Shawn Daivari’s younger brother to some, but it is time to start referring to Shawn as Ariya Daivari’s older brother.
You can follow Ariya on twitter @AriyaDaivari411.
Ariya Daivari will be joining us on The Pencil for a future episode in the very near future. If you have any questions for that show please send them to our twitter @PencilPodcast or Facebook /PencilPodcast.
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Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
A Review From a Pupil
November 19, 2014
I remember watching professional wrestling with my older brothers in my father’s living room. Back then we had only three channels but wrestling was a staple in our household on Saturday nights…until my father walked in. My father would walk in and vehemently tell us to, “TURN THAT SHIT OFF!” I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I would throw a fit. I would cry. I would throw the biggest temper tantrum in the world. Not because I had to turn off wrestling, but because I had to turn of wrestling before Randy “Macho Man” Savage came on the tube.
I loved two wrestlers growing up more than any other wrestlers: Bret “The Hitman” Hart & Randy “Macho Man” Savage. No one was better than those two in my eyes. They are the reason I wrestled professionally for 11-years. They are the reason I fell in love with this great business. I am extremely happy that the WWE and the Poffo family have finally come to terms to release “Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story.”
I love wrestling documentaries. I have seen many of them. I have watched the CM Punk, Paul Heyman, Triple H, Stone Cold, Mick Foley, and countless other ones because I love the history of this great sport. Some of them have been better than others. This DVD was one of my absolute favorites. It isn’t because I was a mark (wrestling term for huge fan) of the Macho Man’s. It was because I respected his body of work so much, looked up to him so much, that I wanted to be a lot like Randy Poffo. This DVD really documents Randy’s life in professional wrestling from his early start to his “way too soon” departure.
Randy was a natural athlete. He was drafted into the MLB by the St. Louis Cardinals. The DVD goes into how great of an athlete he was. It talks about his ability to hit. However he was never able to make it in professional baseball. Similar to Randy, I too was really good at baseball. I am thankful that Randy wasn’t good enough to make it to the big leagues. I am also thankful I didn’t pursue that passion. If it had been different we may not have ever had the chance to know and love Randy, and Renny D would have never even been a thought.
The DVD goes into details of Randy’s rocky relationship with the most famous wrestler of all time: Hulk Hogan. As a child watching this feud I had always assumed their relationship had to be good. They had chemistry in the ring together. Little did I know that their real life tension was spilling over onto the screen and we were seeing their true emotions play out in-front of our eyes. It was shocking to why this tension started. It wasn’t because Randy was jealous of Hogan’s #1 in the world status…Randy was jealous of Hogan being around Miss Elizabeth.
The truth about Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth’s real life relationship is well documented in this DVD. Randy’s brother Lanny is a mainstay in this DVD. He documents the relationship between Randy and Elizabeth from his perspective. However the rest of the WWE locker room tells their side of what they saw between Randy and Elizabeth backstage, the jealousy, the way he treated her. The superstars paint Randy as an overbearing jealous man who would not let go of the reigns on Elizabeth. None of them were too surprised that she left Randy…but they were confused as to how she could have ever cheated on him since she was always next to him. Lanny denies these claims in defense of his brother but it makes good TV…but it’s also true.
The DVD goes into Randy leaving the WWE for WCW. They document why Randy was mad at the WWE. They wanted him to be a color man only, and not a worker. He wanted to get back into the ring and WCW gave him that option. It does’t talk about the back-stage issues at WCW but documents how well Macho Man did in WCW. It discusses why Randy was so offended by WWE during a segment to which they made fun of him and Hogan. He was so offended that he would never work for WWE again.
We are taking to the death of Elizabeth and how it affected Randy. The DVD doesn’t sugar coat this either. They talk about Elizabeth’s drug use and the alcoholism that caused her death. It is a very real portion of the DVD.
Obviously the DVD goes into the death of Randy. I still remember to this day getting the news. I was in Cleveland, OH. Because everyone in my life knew I was a wrestler I received many texts informing me of the news. I couldn’t believe it was true. But it was. Randy left way too soon. The DVD backs up that claim.
As much sadness as there was surrounding Randy’s death the DVD sheds happiness on his life. It documents his time through the indy scene and finding the Macho Man character. They play countless Macho Man interviews. They show us the classic Slim Jim commercials. They talk about him winning the intercontinental title and eventually the world title at Wrestle Mania 4. They really show why Randy was one of the best performers of all time. The DVD brings us full circle when they talk briefly about him running into his high school sweetheart and re-marrying one year before his death.
I loved this DVD. I loved hearing the story. I loved the truths behind the man we all know and love as Macho Man. There was one takeaway that was a negative to me. There is no comments from Vince McMahon. Vince and Randy had an on-screen chemistry that was great. The superstar interviews talk about how Randy and Vince loved each other. This may have been a direct request from Lanny as he defended Macho many times during the DVD. I, as a fan, would have loved to see more comments from Vince. Outside of that this is a DVD that was remarkably done. I strongly recommend it. Go out and get your copy today! OHHHHHHH YEEEEEAAAAHHHH! DIG IT!
Follow me on Twitter at @RealRennyD.
By: Renny D and Travis Mester
The following was a Q&A by the Pencil podcast hosts regarding this week’s WWE Monday Night Raw. Renny D and Travis Mester will be back with a new episode this Friday on iTunes, YouTube, Podbean, and Stitcher Radio. Also, there will be a new website coming soon: http://pencilpodcast.com.
Q: Is Dean Amrbose the new anti-authority figure similar to SCSA during the attitude era?
RD: In short the answer is yes. They don’t have anyone else right now in position to be anti-authority. John Cena can try but he is more concerned on getting a third shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Title, as he should be. No one will ever be Austin-esk when it comes to anti-authority. I mean the dude pulled a gun on Vince McMahon. The guy went to the hospital and beat the hell out of VKM. We won’t be seeing Dean Ambrose doing these things to Triple H given the era we are in. The only other person that can be seen as anti-authority, in my opinion, will be Randy Orton. I think eventually we see an Orton heel turn before Wrestle Mania and he could potentially be the new anti-authority figure we’ve been looking for.
TM: Yes, I think that’s what the goal is. But on a smaller scale, because characters these days tend to be more ‘tweeners’ than anything, and I believe that he’ll excel as a heel more than a face in the long run. Vince McMahon is in the mindset the past few years of doing something with his characters that he believes reflects ‘real life’ more than in the past – meaning that in the real world, it isn’t cut and dry about who is ‘good’ and who is ‘bad’…there is more a middle ground with most people, and that’s starting to become true with the WWE characters too.
Ambrose won’t be driving beer trucks into the stadium and pouring cement into Stephanie’s convertible anytime soon. But the fun little anti-authority stuff will continue for the coming months if I were to bet.
Q: Bo Dallas beat Mark Henry clean last night. This outcome affects who more: Mark Henry, Bo Dallas, or Rusev?
RD: I am actually going to say it affects Rusev the most. The WWE is trying to build him to be an unstoppable force. He just crushed America’s dream in Jack Swagger and crushed the World’s Strongest Man in Mark Henry. But said World’s Strongest Man just did the job, clean, to Bo Dallas. Now I am buying into Bo Dallas more these days but I do not understand a clean victory over a man we are supposed to fear. Then after the match Mark turns “heel” and beats up Bo Dallas? C’mon, we are better than that. To top it off he is going up against the World’s Largest Athlete in the Big Show. So did beating Mark Henry in hindsight make it believable that he is this big beast of a man?
TM: I’d say it impacts Henry more than anything. I got the vibe from the backstage beat down he gave to Bo Dallas after the match that we might be getting a meaner side of Mark Henry going forward. Maybe a heel variety of a guy who could join some sort of faction (like whatever they’re doing with Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.) I don’t see Bo Dallas being much more than a comedy/funny promo worker in the long run. I don’t think Rusev will be remembered for anything he did against Henry…that feud was a waste of time and likely won’t be mentioned again. The only one of those three that will see a change based on last night’s outcome is Henry.
Q: Last night’s Raw featured three different diva matches. What would you like to see the WWE do with the diva division?
RD: Unlike Mester who wants that “Young & The Restless” soap-opera drama I want the Diva’s division to be good. In NXT they have great female talent. Yes, GREAT talent. Charolette is going to be awesome. Sasha Banks is great. Bailey can be really good too. The thing on top of this is that they are attractive. You cannot tell me this diva division cannot be stronger. We just saw a great triple threat match at Night of Champions. They need to get back to that. The days of Lita, Trish Stratus, and Torrie Wilson were great because they were attractive and they could work. I don’t give two shits about Total Divas, and I have admitted to watching the show. Three matches on one card is overkill. At most we should see two, and if we are going to see two make sure the girls can work. More Nikki less Eva Marie. More Paige less Cameron. More AJ Lee less Rosa Mendez. Hell, I would even take more Alicia Fox because she can at least work.
TM: Get rid of it. Have the chicks be managers and accompany the men to the ring for their matches. Have a catty fight on the outside from time to time and cheat on their kayfabe boyfriends/husbands with other wrestlers to start feuds with some backbone between the male performers. AJ Lee was the most interesting female performer in the past decade two years ago when she was kissing Kane, Daniel Bryan, John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk all at the same time for no apparent reason. I’m thinking: Let’s have Paige start making a play at Cesaro or something, maybe Layla finds herself physically attracted to Lesnar? Maybe Lana slips into the back with Luke Harper? That type of stuff is the only thing that will make me care a little bit more about a division that sucks.
Q: The Dust Brothers had another weird backstage promo but the card featured no tag team action directed towards the tag team straps, thoughts?
RD: I don’t get it. I really don’t. The days of Golddust’s past was funny because he was like a movie reviewer with a hot girlfriend/wife that came off as a homosexual. It wasn’t straightforward thinking but it was interesting. I am not into the galaxy and cosmic key or whatever they are looking for. With the Wyatt’s breaking up that takes out another legitimate tag team to contend for these straps. I wasn’t happy that they didn’t acknowledge the tag division on the show. To be honest I started wrestling in a tag team. I will always have a passion for it. You can do so much more in a tag match. Like Mester said on past episodes TNA is doing the tag division right. The WWE just continues to struggle to get this division over. Either bring guys up from NXT or just nix the entire division. Good for Rhodes having a gimmick to freshen his career but it makes zero sense to me. I am more interested in them working a match then working a magnetic globe ball in the locker room.
TM: These two are just bizarre. One day I’m into it, the next I’m just more confused. Hopefully they’ll clear up exactly what the reason for their characters are at some point. But, as long as they have good matches and give some sort of direction to the tag team division, I’m okay with them being a mildly-attractive team. I don’t see any options other than the Usos to challenge them. And I assume that’s what creative is seeing too…how many matches can you have between these two teams on free TV and still have it mean something on the PPVs? I’d say they’ll just be treading water with these two until having the Usos challenge again at HIAC..then move on to something…what? I don’t know. Hopefully Ryback comes back and takes them on in a handicap match and wins the straps by himself. THE BIG GUY RULESSSSS.
Q: Last night the WWE teased a potential Brock Lesnar/Seth Rollins situation. Was it enough for you? Do you want more? What do you think will happen?
RD: I want more. I want a lot more. I like the idea of Paul Heyman threatening the Authority and Seth Rollins with the likes of the Beast, Brock Lesnar. I did like how they acknowledged the situation. Similar to when CM Punk was there with the HHH and CM Punk situation that should have setup a match at the showcase (until Punk walked). This is the same. Plant the seed. Water that bitch and let it grow. Now is Seth a legitimate threat to Lesnar’s title. No. Look at the difference in size right? But we have seen crazier things. I think they keep teasing Rollins cashing in on either Lesnar or his opponents (if Lesnar actually is defeated) until Lesnar F5’s him and wages war on the Authority. With Roman Reigns out for months this might be the back-up plan for Wrestle Mania and I am okay with that. Lesnar beats Rollins before Mania and then beats HHH at Mania.
TM: Rollins and Heyman were top notch last night selling this point. Probably the best stick work out of Rollins to this point in his career. They ignored this entire angle last week after Night of Champions, and that was a mistake. But they made up for it last night. Rollins is a marked man by Cena, by Ambrose, soon to be by Kane and Orton it appears, and now Heyman made it known that Lesnar isn’t on his side either. Everything they’re doing is making Rollins appear as the future go-to guy for a great match (which we know he can deliver) and now a great storyline to go with it (which they are building to a great ass-beating at the hands of a ton of guys; let’s not forget Roman Reigns either) – he will take the beating from many of them like a man, and skyrocket to the top after it. The ‘no one man can take me down, you all had to team up to take me out’ gimmick will fit him perfectly. And I’m getting the feeling he’ll be walking around with the WWE championship instead of that briefcase before too long.
Q: The WWE featured a vignette for Luke Harper being “set free” by Bray Wyatt. One would assume this means Luke Harper is going off on a singles run. What does this mean for the Wyatt family?
RD: To be honest I think the family is dead. This is actually sad to me as I am friends with Erick Rowan. He is a good dude outside that ring and I just hope he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle although it appears that is exactly what is going to happen. Between the three members Luke is the best in-ring worker. Bray is the best on the stick. Erick is the weirdest looking one. I think Luke will go off and feud with Sheamus and Cesaro, guys like that. He can work and it is fun to watch him go strong. I would like to see, like with Mester, Luke and Bray square off at some point. I do think that this will happen but all the stars would have to align. I still feel like Bray is in-line for another big push. I think Bray should be in the picture to challenge the Authority as well and turn face. We should know more in the weeks coming. I wish I had inside info for you but I tend not to ask those questions.
TM: I think Luke Harper is the most athletic and probably the best worker of the ‘big guys’ in the WWE right now. By ‘big guys’, I’ll include the likes of Big Show, Big E, Kane, Mark Henry, Erick Rowan). I would be onboard with him getting a singles run started for sure. Matches between he and Rusev, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Swagger, etc. would be very entertaining. And, it would allow him to face-turn down the line, maybe change his attire/look and take on Bray Wyatt in a master vs. pupil situation. That would require some more attention to be given to both of their characters than what has been afforded the past few months, but it’s a wishful-thinking idea on my part.
As for the Wyatt Family, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bray recruited The Ascension from NXT to join the family when they come up to the main roster full time to fill the void left by Harper. I think that’s a good move for all involved, because I don’t believe their act would be effective without something to carry it. Bray Wyatt’s mic work would do exactly that.
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Saturday, August 16 5:06pm
Ryan Bucki, host of The Pencil
In addition to our weekly podcast I wanted to take time when we are not recording and share with you my thoughts regarding certain events in the world of professional wrestling. Our one hour show, The Pencil, is fantastic, but at times we don’t get to get into as much detail as we’d like regarding the “hot topics” of the week. Obviously this week’s hot topic is Sunday’s pay-per-view Summer Slam. Although Travis and I made our picks on the first episode we didn’t give any explanation to why. This column is to dissect the match from my point-of-view, using my 11-years in the business as my basis for credibility. So here we go.
Sunday’s Summer Slam is the second biggest pay-per-view for the WWE. If you were to compare the WWE pay-per-views to the award shows Wrestle Mania is the Oscars and Summer Slam is the Golden Globes. It is that big and that important to not only the WWE but to professional wrestling as a whole. Some of the biggest matches in wrestling history occurred at various Summer Slams. Bret Hart was a participant in two of my favorite matches ever that took place at Summer Slam. In 1991 he faced Mr. Perfect and the next year he faced The British Bulldog. Classics. Stone Cold broke his neck at Summer Slam. The first ever TLC match also took place here. There is a lot of merit to this event, and I know the WWE will live up to the hype on Sunday.
Match: The WWE Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee (champion) vs. Paige
Honestly the Divas division has lacked that physicality that we were used too back during the Attitude Era. The days of Trish Stratus, Lita, Jaqueline, Victoria, and Chyna all gave solid matches. Hell Chyna was such a physical specimen she faced Y2J for the IC title. The WWE went through a stage of “pretty girls” who couldn’t tell a wrist watch from a wrist lock (yes I just used an old timers saying). They changed the name of the WWE Women’s Championship to the WWE Divas Title. They have Total Divas on the E! Network. They are making whatever money they can off of the ladies in the WWE. However, lately the women matches have been getting a lot better. AJ Lee, Paige, Alicia Fox, Naomi, and Natalya are all solid workers who have put on good matches. This is why I am very excited about this match. Paige is 21-years old. YOUNG, but the girl can work. AJ is a former “indie” worker like myself as is Paige. I fully expect this to be the best ladies match of the night although more people are wrapped into the Bella vs. McMahon match-up. I for one hope these two get decent time and show us that they can be beautiful, but they can kick some ass as well!
Prediction: AJ Lee over clean
Stars: *** (out of 5)
Match: Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns
Roman is getting the push that everyone expected. He is also in the ring with, in my estimation, the best wrestler in the WWE right now. I say that as in the overall package. Randy is the real deal. His mannerisms in the ring, his skills on the mic, and his fluidity in his moves just make me so happy to be involved in this business. The years of mentorship from Triple H have paid off. It is a big compliment to be used as a “stepping stone” to launch someone’s career. William Regal told me at my WWE tryout that Roman is the next big thing. He said he will be the next Rock. Now whether that happens or not remains to be scene but I like Roman. As a person outside of the ropes he is a big sweetheart. He treated me with respect and was very approachable. His character in the ring is someone fans can grab onto. Fans want Roman over. They need Roman over. This Sunday he does go over on Randy Orton. I fully expect this to be one of the best matches on the show.
Prediction: Roman Reigns over clean
Match: Intercontinental Championship Match – The Miz (champion) vs. Dolph Ziggler
This match is going to be the biggest question mark of the night for me. I know a lot of people don’t like The Miz. They don’t think he can wrestle. I will vouch to say that he can wrestle a helluva lot better than he is given credit for. Should he have main evented a WrestleMania? Probably not but he is a great IC champion. These two boys are workhorses. They go back to their days in Cleveland. The Miz was a reality star on the Real World but what a lot of people don’t know is he worked in the East coast indies for years before getting signed by WWE. Dolph’s story goes back to the Spirit Squad as he was then known as Nicky (his real name is Nick Nemeth). I know my co-host Travis thinks Dolph is the best right now. I think in the mid-card region he is exactly right. Dolph works his ass off. He tries hard. He is good. I think at times he tends to oversell. He tends to take bumps that are unnecessary. People may think they look cool but to me they look unrealistic and unnecessary. I hate the way Dolph sells a submission move. It makes him seem weak. He needs to work more snug, not stiff, but snug. Stone Cold recently called him out for this same thing on Twitter. I hope Dolph showcases it this Sunday. I mentioned on the podcast that I like Dolph’s chances in the match. I think in hindsight I may have been wrong. The Miz bills himself from Hollywood now (or at least he states he owns Hollywood). I think this match has potential to be the best of the night. Yes, I said it. The best of the night. However I think it will fall short of those expectations. With that being said I think this will be highly entertaining with numerous false finishes.
Prediction: Dolph over clean
Match: Bray Wyatt vs. Y2J
I love the storyline between these two. I loved the promos. I loved Wyatt calling into the Chris Jericho podcast. Hell, I love Chris Jericho’s podcast. I just am not sold on Y2J’s work as of late. When he takes leave from the WWE to go on tour or whatever and comes back he comes back as essentially the same Y2J every time. I think Bray Wyatt, along with Roman Reigns, is the future of the WWE. I just don’t have a lot of faith in this match and I really hope they prove me wrong. I wasn’t a fan of their last match last month. I just don’t see fans as interested in this match-up as they were for Wyatt vs. Cena. Maybe the build-up is weighing on my faith in this being a great match. Like I said I hope it is a good match. I hope somehow on this night Bray sets his sights on his next target to move on to build something for Survivor Series. We shall see.
Prediction: Wyatt over dirty (outside help, Wyatt family somehow even though they are banned)
Match: Flag on a Pole Match – Jack Swagger vs. Rusev
This feud has been my favorite to watch. As some of you may know Zeb Colter, Dutch Mantell, is a huge patriot. He wants to get into politics once his run in the WWE has come to a conclusion. Rusev is really from Bulgaria. Lana is really from Russia. The heat that Rusev generates with the help of Lana is old-school heat that you don’t see anymore. The fans have always been on the side of “We The People” and it is exciting. Technically this match won’t be much. But physically I think it will be the second most physical match on the show. I am very excited for this match.
Prediction: Swagger over
Match: Lumberjack Match – Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose
Hey indie guys! These two cut their teeth on the indie scene, Dean out on the East coast and Seth throughout the Midwest. Both of these guys have distinct styles that will be awesome on Sunday. I think true fans of technical wrestling will enjoy this. The thing that WWE did though was make the story so damn intriguing that it drew in casual wrestling fans that don’t care about the technical aspect of the match. They billed this right from the start. This is the match I am most looking forward to because I love great wrestling. I fully expect this to be great wrestling. This Summer Slam should help catapult both of these two into the future. I think the Lumberjacks being around the ring will make it an interesting twist but The Authority has their way in almost everything. Remember there’s always a plan B…or C.
Prediction: Rollins over
Match: Stephanie McMahon vs. Brie Bella
Intriguing storyline ruined by the “cheating” scandal. Okay, maybe not ruined but it was dumb. They didn’t need it. But I think since they used it we can see a Daniel Bryan sighting in this match. My initial thought on this match was this feud has been accumulating for a LONG time. So it would make sense to bring it to a close on Sunday and have Brie go over and the truth come out about the cheating scandal. Here’s a twist for you: Nikki turns on Brie. If this happens it will shock almost everyone. It will be entertaining and Team Nikki vs. Team Brie at Survivor Series could be a bigtime match for the ladies of the WWE. I will stick to my guns though with my prediction. This will not be much of a match, but more of a catfight.
Prediction: Brie over Stephanie clean
Match: WWE Championship Match – John Cena (champion) vs. Brock Lesnar
Okay first off I love John Cena. I hate the internet community that hates on him and thinks he cannot wrestle. Do you think it’s any coinicidence that some of the best matches Cesaro has had involved John Cena? The CM Punk vs. John Cena MITB match from two years ago? Cena can work. He is top two for sure in that promotion. I picked Orton over John slightly because of his in-ring ability but Cena can grab our emotions and toy with them as well. Lesnar is just a damn beast. He legitimately scares me. He is a badass. He killed the Big Show with chairs. He ended the Undertakers undefeated streak at WM30 (yes I was stunned like everyone else and I was there live). If Cena would to win Cena would solidify himself as the greatest WWE champion of all-time. Hell, he might be already. I just think with the part-time contract of Lesnar and Lesnar’s cross sports draw it is too big of an opportunity to pass up. This match will be a fight. This is why WWE billed it this way. This will not be a wrestling match. This is a fight. This will be the most physical match of the card. It will be highly entertaining and intriguing. Brock kicks out of two attitude adjustments. Cena will kick out of at least one F5. Heyman will try to get involved. It has all the elements to really captivate this live audience. At the end of the day Vince wants us all to remember the finish. The finish is simple. We will have a new WWE Champion walking out of The Staples Center on Sunday night.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar over somewhat dirty (sets up a rematch)
There you have it. My rundown of the biggest party of the summer. Whether you agree or disagree with my predictions I hope we can all agree on this: this pay-per-view will be one you do not want to miss. Summer Slam is special to the WWE, to the workers, and to those who love this business. WWE is now global on the WWE network. This is their first PPV since WWE Network went global. You can bet your life savings (you’re the $9.99 you invested on the network) that this PPV will exceed all expectations!
It’s August 2014 and it’s time to start a podcast. I know what you’re thinking…another damn wrestling podcast?! Yes, another damn podcast but I am going to do my best to critique the current product on TV using my 11-year experience in the business with contributions from some of my closest friends who are fans, and others who are inside the business. I will bring on guests that range from independent wrestlers to current WWE wrestlers. This is meant to be a free-for-all podcast that is fun but also gives you our way of thinking on the product. Buckle up and prepare for the ride. Download us on PodBean and iTunes today!