WWE: Top 5 Performers of 2013

bryanacceptanceDaniel Bryan accepting a Slammy award – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

2013 has been a great year for the WWE. I can honestly say that the standard of work has improved. The future looks bright with the emerging talents of Roman Reigns, Big E Langston, Antonio Cesaro, Seth Rollins and the like. The long time bemoaned tag team division is on fire. With AJ Lee at the helm, the Divas division has restored some legitimacy. I thought I’d name my five favourite performers of the year. An honourable mention will go to Brock Lesnar who has been important, if not full time. His return to Raw last night was great and I look forward to his coming appearances. As for the regular guys, lets see how I stack them up.

5. John Cena

Despite not being the most popular wrestler among internet fans, John Cena once again had a few terrific matches this year. He is always one thing and that’s reliable. The guy works practically every day, and appears in big pay-per-view matches every month. He may not be a technical specialist or a high flyer, but he is dependable and that’s what the WWE needs from it’s top guy. His ability to deliver on the big stage time and again secures him a position on this list. His best match of the year was easily the famous clash with CM Punk on Raw in the early part of the year.

4. Antonio Cesaro

The Swiss Supreme may be a surprise choice on this list, but for me, he has been one of the stand out performers of the year. As a part of a great tag team, he has helped put on some excellent matches and regularly done well on Raw. In singles competition, he has shone, selflessly putting the hard work in on practically every show the WWE puts out. His most memorable encounters were the incredible match he had with Daniel Bryan as a part of the gauntlet in July, and the 2 out of 3 falls match with Sami Zayn on NXT.

3. CM Punk

Punk is an ever present on everybody’s list every year, and rightly so. As he outlined on Raw last night, 2013 has been a good year for him. It’s not been his best, but it’s been memorable to say the least. He competed against The Rock, took The Undertaker to the limit and came into the year as the longest reigning WWE Champion of the modern era. That’s not bad at all. His feud with Paul Heyman went too long and he has been a little lost in the shuffle as of late, but on the whole he has done well for himself. What’s never in question is his ability to perform. That’s why he is the best in the world. He had countless great matches this year as always. The pick of the bunch would be the epic fight he had with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam, closely followed by the Taker match at Wrestlemania.

2. The Shield

These guys have been too exciting and too influential to be split up. Despite not being a single person, they are second on my list. I’d find it difficult to pick out a single match from these guys to define how well they have done. WWE have gone above and beyond to put The Shield over and they have taken the ball and ran with it. Whether it be singles matches, tag team matches or the six man tags which they have made a regular part of the show, these three man have always performed. It’s not just been big pay-per-view matches, but regular Raw and Smackdown encounters. They are often put in there with guys they have worked with time and time again, and just when you think you’re going to get a boring match, they impress again. Now all we have to do is predict which one of them is going straight to the top first.

1. Daniel Bryan

I’m sure this is no surprise to anyone. Daniel Bryan has been head and shoulders above the competition this year. He has consistently stole the show, week after week, regardless of the situation he is put in. It’s become clear now that the real life authority figures in the WWE don’t want him to be the face of the company. That hasn’t stopped his legions of fans cheering and chanting him on every week since his fall from grace. I don’t quite know why they want so badly to bury him but that’s politics I guess. What I do know, is that he has gone out there and performed to a high standard in practically every match he has had all year, big or small. When it comes to technique, timing, stamina and the ability to put on a good wrestling match, nobody else on the roster can touch him. Now he seems to be joining The Wyatt Family. 2014 is going to be interesting for him to say the least.

Thanks for reading what will be the last post on The Real Mid Card of 2013. That means I have achieved my goal of publishing at least one post every single day from July 1st until December 31st. I hope you have enjoyed reading, and I look forward to the new direction the site will now be heading into in the new year.

Leave a comment and give me your Top 5.

Craig [Editor]

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TNA: Did Jeff Hardy really retire on Impact?

hardydixieHardy and Dixie have a strained relationship – Source: Impact Wrestling

TNA IMPACT
26/12/13

Tonight’s recap video shows us Magnus’ surprising heel turn and World Title win. I’m all for it, putting the title on someone new and different (and British).

Rockstar Spud heads to the ring getting quite a lot of heat, seemingly a Jeff Hardy loving crowd. He introduces Dixie, who is followed by Hardy. On the way to the ring, he reaches over the barrier to say hello to some kids, one of which is in a wheelchair. Always nice to see stuff like that, but surely he should be furious/focused about getting screwed last week? Jeff begins to air his grievances, until Spud starts screaming at him. After squaring up to Spud, Jeff gets thrown out of the ring by Ethan Carter III, who appeared out of nowhere. Sting walks to the ring, and the two young men sprint away from the t-shirt wearing 54 year old. Sting asks for a tag match against Spud and EC3 tonight, and Dixie confidently accepts.

As we come back from commercial, Dixie is still in the ring. Again she’s interrupted by Gunner and his Money in the…Feast briefcase. He asks for a match tonight, but Magnus is away, promoting the upcoming TNA tour. I felt this was bad scheduling, this should’ve been the show where Magnus makes a statement. James Storm heads to the ring to shout about his issues, and Dixie decides they will fight next, with the briefcase on the line.

GUNNER VS JAMES STORM

Pretty standard match, which came to an end quickly when both men were counted out. They continued to fight up the ramp, hitting each other with stiff punches whilst referees tried to pull them apart. To be continued.

Backstage Bully Ray is sitting with his sunglasses on in a dark room. Brooke Tessmacher appears and says she is going to air all his dirty secrets in the ring for binning her off. Bully says that isn’t a good idea, and she walks away. No idea where they’re going with this quiet character, I don’t like it. They’re taking away everything that’s good about Bully.

We see a video of Magnus (should be there live, not pre-recorded!) talking about he’s been booked…seriously. This drove me insane, he was going in and out of kayfabe, making no sense at all. What an awful start to this title reign.

Brooke T heads to the ring and asks Bully to join her. He heads out to no music, looking like a moody bouncer on a rainy night. She cusses him out, and goes to leave. Bully stops her and destroys her by subtly insulting her abilities in ‘the bedroom’. He then says he wants her to spread his word, how sadistic he can be. This was actually pretty creepy, but TNA decided to pipe in ominous music over the top and made it cheesy. I wanted to see a powerbomb through a table but you know.

MONSTERS BALL MATCH – JOSEPH PARK VS BAD INFLUENCE

Daniels and Kazarian beat Park with weapons for the first 10 minutes. Kaz teases a chair shot, but Daniels stops him saying ‘we don’t want him to bleed!’ ABOUT TIME. They work the back and stomach instead, lovely bit of logic. Park gets the upper hand for a bit, choosing a Boston Crab instead of using a weapon for a quick 3 count. Daniels takes him out with a crutch and he rolls out of the ring. EY heads down to encourage him, but receives a beating too. Park eventually gets hit with a kendo stick that was meant for Eric, and blades. A LOT. His face, chest and hands are completely covered in blood as he annihilates both opponents and picks up the win.

Never happy to see BI lose, and I’m sure ‘Abyss’ wouldn’t have been able to beat them alone anyway!

LEI’D TAPA VS ODB

This was a decent match, your standard ‘big v not as big’. ODB trying repeatedly to gain control but getting shut down. Lei’D picked up the win after Gail distracted the referee. Gail then grabbed the mic and said it was a message to her former friend, Madison Rayne. I think people are way more interested in the two women that just fought.

Backstage Chris Sabin is talking to Velvet Sky about losing his X-Divison Title. She calmly says it wasn’t her fault, and Sabin responds by saying he needs a woman who will stand by him. Velvet pleads for him to come round, but he walks away. What the hell is going on in this storyline!

STING & JEFF HARDY VS ETHAN CARTER III, ROCKSTAR SPUD & THE BRO-MANS

Dixie appears on the screen, and finally gets to finish her announcement. She adds the Bro-Mans to the match, making it 4 on 2. Jeff continued to sell his injuries from last weeks match the whole time, which is something I think is important in Wrestling. You need to believe that someone could lose, to make their comeback/hot tag/etc feel so much more rewarding. John Cena’s recent elbow comes to mind, even whilst legitimately injured he doesn’t sell it. The four heels use quick tags to wear Hardy down, but look weak in doing so. When Sting finally gets the tag, the crowd go insane. He takes out everyone, and then again by swinging Spud around. Out of nowhere, EC3 rolls up Sting with a handful of tights and gets the win. Pretty huge deal on paper.

As Dixie’s lads celebrate on the ramp, Jeff grabs a mic. He says he wanted to become a ‘professional wrestling’ (Botchamania) because of his partner, Sting. He says he wants to fight, but he has no fight left, and retires. Sting implores him to reconsider as Jeff dumps his shirt and those arm things in the ring, and leaves.

As always you can contact me with any thoughts, or even if you just want to chat about wrestling at @jrholberry on twitter.

Thanks!

Joseph Holberry

Stats: End of Year Report

bryanyesYes! Yes! Yes! – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Hello all and thanks for coming to The Real Mid Card. Over the past year I’ve been trying my hand at blogging for the first time. As a young would-be journalist with a useless degree and some irrelevant radio experience, I thought maybe a venture into the online world could be fruitful. I set myself a target of 10,000 views for the year. It may sound small (and indeed my first two What Culture articles received over 35,000 between them within days) but it was something I wanted to achieve for myself.

I’ve spent countless hours at my laptop writing articles (mostly about wrestling), while exploring the works of many other great writers on this website. My monthly stats have gone up and down. There have been highs and lows. But I’m pleased to say it’s been a success from my perspective. Another target I set was to upload at least one post every single day from July 1st to and including December 31st. I’ve done that, without fail. Trips across Europe, working a day job and celebrating national holidays hasn’t stopped that. It was all made easier by my phone. Over the next few days, I will be polishing that off and then making changes to the blog.

The site will be much more freestyle going into the new year. I’ll be adding the writing team to the site officially so they can post and edit as and when they wish. With the pressure of uploading every day gone, and the target achieved, I’ll be posting a lot more infrequently myself but hopefully with more depth and quality. I am optimistic about the effect that this can have on the viewing statistics, and hopefully it will be a good opportunity for the writers to have a better handle on the presentation of their own work, and for that work to be seen by more people.

So at the end of a challenging but rewarding year, I am now able to post online and make money with What Culture. I will need to improve a lot and attract a much bigger readership to make any real money, but it’s a start. In that regard, the blog has definitely been a success. This new opportunity is a small stepping stone, but hopefully it will only get better for me. However, it’s been the stats themselves on this site that have pleased me the most. They make the ridiculous amount of hours spent writing seem much more worthwhile. Here are the figures as we approach the end of the year.

It’s Friday 27th December (when writing), and my year target of 10,000 views has been achieved, but only just. It stands at 10,033 at the moment. I’m more than happy with that. The overall average views per day is at 29, having peaked in October at 51. Not surprisingly October also had the highest monthly views number with 1,568. I’m struggling to think what happened in that month which got so much traffic. There were two pay-per-views I guess, but they were Battleground and Hell in a Cell! Whatever it was, I’m pleased.

The numbers couldn’t keep up with that momentum and petered off a little in the final two months, with monthly averages going down to 45, and then 42. It still hasn’t gone below a 40 average since September though so that’s good. Despite having only a monthly average of 38, September did see my highest ever daily view count of 110 on Sept 10th. It took half the year for the views to start reaching the kind of standard required to reach the 10k overall target but once they were established, they were consistently good.

When it comes to popular articles, an interesting statistic offers hope for the future of the site. Stephen “Fozzy” Forrester wrote three of the five most viewed posts of the whole year. You should definitely come back and check out the work he will be doing on pro wrestling, video games and more. One of the most fun parts of writing on WordPress is seeing the different nations from which your views emanate in the analytics. All of the little flags next to them are so cool. Anyone who writes on here will know what I mean there.

To this point, for the whole year, the United Kingdom(3,990) unsurprisingly has the most views, with the United States(3,085) in second and Germany(336) in third. Notice the big jump there? Other nations with more than 100 views are France(306), Canada(238), Australia(227) and India(190). I got views from around 100 different countries. Some of the most interesting and pleasing to me were Suriname, Palestine, Guyana, Seychelles and Kazakhstan.

In the first few months of running the blog, I was uncomfortable with the amount of my views that were coming from Facebook. I seemed to be relying too heavily on sharing through social media. Don’t get me wrong. It still helps me to get views to this day, but it is no longer a crutch to be leaned on. Organic search engine views took control mid way through the year and have been the main source of traffic ever since.

Overall, search engines attracted 4,628 of my views for the year, with Facebook(1,079) in second and the WordPress Reader(178) in third. That’s a very pleasing statistic, and a trend which has now been entrenched and should continue. Almost all of the search engine terms are unique and different so I have thousands of statements with 1 view each. There was one particular search term that brought viewers to my site 32 times over the year and that was ‘Curtis Axel’ – I’m serious.

As the year is about to end, the blog has 129 followers. I had to fight tooth and nail for each and every one of those. They are not hard to come by! 289 comments were left, so I guess it’s not the most social blog ever, but that’s still good. As for awards, I got one for 100 followers on September 23rd, so there has been 29 more since then. Hopefully that number can start growing quicker. I also got one award for 500 likes on December 1st. I don’t know the exact number I have got so far, but I therefore know it’s more than 500.

Without getting too bogged down in statistics, I’d like to post here (for my own viewing in a few years probably) that the blogging experience has been a positive one. I achieved the targets I wanted to, got a freelance writing position and hopefully improved my writing abilities some. I know I learned a lot more about wrestling this year, because I had to, and that’s always good.

Thanks for reading, and a big thank you to anyone who regularly reads this blog or shares our articles. I hope you will enjoy what’s to come in 2014 as myself and my writing team get a lot more freedom to write whatever and whenever. An even bigger thanks to Joe, Fozzy, Arun and Neutral Dave for their appreciated (and hopefully continuing) contributions.

Craig [Editor]

WWE: John Cena and Seth Rollins have one of the best Smackdown matches of all time

cenaontopJohn Cena has muscles – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little with the title. But honestly, the main event of last night’s Smackdown really was top draw. The rest of the show wasn’t half bad either. For the last time in a while, I will go through the show and note what made me sit up and take notice. In the new year, one of the other writers will be taking a look at Smackdown and providing a new perspective. For now though, let’s get down to business.

The Wyatt Family squashed The Usos in the opening match, which seemed more like a prelude. John Cena came out for the real beginning and cut a painfully unfunny joke promo, bless him. He demanded a rematch for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but of course, that wasn’t going to happen on the B Show. Instead, The Shield came down to surround the ring for an attack. They were thwarted by Mark Henry and Big E Langston. Kane came out and, going against the Teddy Long grain, decided to book a triple main event of singles matches – I like it! It would be Langston against Ambrose, Henry taking on Reigns, and Cena pitted against Rollins. Great stuff.

Dolph Ziggler rudely interrupted Randy Orton when he was conducting a backstage interview with the beautiful Renee. The Champ took offence. Kane intervened and booked the match. That’s more like it for the perfect one.

Cody Rhodes had a good match with Antonio Cesaro. It’s good to see a lot more singles matches, because the tag situation has been approaching overkill recently. JBL and Cole were so funny at the desk during this match. Cole suggested that Kane is going to “stooge people off” in an attempt to break the fourth wall. Bradshaw criticised yoga and lamented his partner’s training knowledge. It was all very entertaining but perhaps they should have focused a tiny bit more on the match, which Cesaro stole with a roll up.

The Prime Time Players beat “Rybaxel”. Apparently they are officially called that now. I don’t have much more to add on this.

Dolph Ziggler got his big match with Randy Orton, and was sporting some awesome pink highlights. This was a lengthy and very well done match. I got to see the entirety of it because of an advert botch. The commentators went silent for a couple of minutes but the feed never cut away – awesome. Dolph came out of this really strong after a great performance and multiple near falls, but The Viper struck with an RKO out of nowhere, as promised, and picked up the win. He then delivered a vicious beating!

We saw a rebound of that pathetic divas Christmas tag team match from Raw. Why on earth did they feel that this was the best part of that three hour broadcast to re-show? The Shield cut a great promo as always. Roman Reigns was front centre again as he continues to become the focal point of the group. Dean Ambrose promised that 2014 would see more of the same from the Hounds of Justice. They all individually threatened their respective main event opponents, and told us to believe, which we surely do.

Damien Sandow took on Daniel Bryan in a battle of the beards. I’m not enjoying how irrelevant Bryan is becoming. This was a routine win for him with the Busaiku High Knee which is something I guess, but his opponent is waning bad. Bray cut a promo from the ramp in the dark after the match, flanked by his family members. I find myself asking, is this feud still really happening? Please end this before the Royal Rumble.

bryandarkDaniel Bryan is in the dark right now – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The Shield made their way to the ring for the main event, and Team Face followed. I thought they would come out one-by-one for their matches and become easy pickings for the screwing. I was pleased that they didn’t. I knew it would make for better wrestling. Langston and Ambrose were up first in a battle of the mid card champions. Michael Cole teased a unification of their titles. I can’t tell you how bad an idea that is. With only one World Title, the possibility of anyone emerging from the lower reaches into the main event has become slim enough. Take away one of the two titles they can challenge for, and we are gonna end up with a roster full of talented guys wallowing in irrelevance and mediocrity.

There was more very subtle heat teased between Reigns and Ambrose. WWE have done a tremendous job handling The Shield in almost every way during every stage of their development. Ambrose was beaten by The Big Ending after no more than five minutes. The guy is being severely phased out now in favour of the big guy. He must be pissed. Roman Reigns, on the other hand, dominated his encounter with the World’s Strongest Man and won with the Superman Punch and Spear. This was very different to the fate of Dean Ambrose. The first two matches were decent but only came to around ten minutes between them. The final match of the three would be far more interesting.

John Cena and Seth Rollins really did put on a clinic by Smackdown standards. This was a great way to put over the latter, who came off looking really strong. He defied the five moves of doom with an excellent counter, reversed the AA into a tornado DDT from the top turnbuckle, and kicked out at two countless times. Rollins himself pushed Cena to the limit and got so many near falls. The ending to the match was a series of amazing moves from both guys (even Cena pulled out an awesome powerbomb) and so many close calls.

It was an action packed conclusion to an incredible contest. I have to say, this seemed to be Cena’s best match in at least six months, and it looked a lot like Rollins’ HBK moment. Even the STF wasn’t enough to beat the “rookie”. Shortly after the submission attempt had failed, all hell broke loose at ringside. John Cena then finally got the win with the Attitude Adjustment. The faces celebrated in the ring, and the announcers rightfully put over Rollins after an incredible performance.

9/10

Most of the show was decent, but the main event was outstanding. I hope this can be a platform from which Seth Rollins can build to a position on the roster that his talent justifies. Fair play to John Cena too, for his part in what was – in my opinion – one of, if not the best match on Friday Night Smackdown this year. Then again, my memory is short and there have probably been countless better ones. But what can ya do?

It’s been a pleasure trying to cover Smackdown for you over the past year.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

The Wrestling Review Corner – The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment [DOC]

vinniemacMcMahon unveils the set for Wrestlemania 29 – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

The Wrestling Review Corner
The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports
Entertainment

Thanks for checking out another review here on The Real Mid Card. You’ll note that the piece I’m looking at today doesn’t have the words “Rise and Fall” in the title. This film may be a bit self-horn tooting but rightly so in my opinion. Vince McMahon came from nowhere and dominated the entire world of professional wrestling. He didn’t let ego take control, make foolish mistakes and go out of business. Some people may not like it, but he deserves credit for that. This movie gives him that, in an abundance. Let’s take a closer look at The History of WWE: 50 Years of Sports Entertainment.

This one goes all the way back to the 1950s, which might be the earliest period of wrestling I’ve learned about in a documentary. Because of this, the interviewees were changed up significantly. Having now reconciled with the company, it was great to see Bruno Sammartino giving his thoughts. A lot of the regulars were featured as always, but we got to see some unfamiliar faces. It takes you from the very start of the promotion and looks at the pivotal roles of Bruno, Backlund and Andre respectively. Particular attention is paid to Andre The Giant, who is widely accepted as the most recognisable wrestling celebrity in history.

I got to learn a lot more about Vince’s takeover and well documented cable conquest. You get to hear of the remaining dinosaur promoters who refused to sell up and eventually went broke. Is that McMahon’s fault? I think not. Gerald Brisco speaks of how he and his brother did sell up Georgia Championship Wrestling and made an agreement with the boss. That’s why they have done well from the business since then. Nonetheless, there was a lot of friction at the time towards Vince and any wrestlers who worked with him.

Of course, there is a substantial amount of time dedicated to Hulk Hogan and the role he played as the hand-picked babyface for Vince’s revolution. He had gained a lot of mainstream exposure since his appearance in Rocky 3, and the boss wasn’t stupid. He used him as the spearhead to dominate the business. Hulk wouldn’t be anything without the WWE, and vice versa. It was, and potentially still could be, a very important relationship in wrestling history.

The invention of Wrestlemania is focused on. The stand alone documentary about the history of Mania is a corker itself. Expect a review of that pretty soon! One interesting fact that I didn’t know about the first incarnation of the Showcase of the Immortals, is that the future star of the time Bret Hart was on that card. The Wrestlemania 3 attendance record breaking event with Hogan and Andre was of course touched on.

I did not know that Saturday Night’s Main Event came from Saturday Night Live and was shown on network television in it’s place every couple of weeks. What a partnership that must have been! No wonder they penetrated mainstream culture so much.

It was great to see Jake Roberts back in good health giving his opinions on a WWE production. He was questioned about the whole steroid trial and the dramas of that time. They delved fairly deep into those dark times, when the turncoats were running out of the door or turning on and testifying against their boss. The good side of all this was the new blood that came out of it in the 90s: Bret Hart, Undertaker, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Yokozuna, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, The Rock, etc. When they sum up this progression like that, it really shows how staggering an era it was for talent.

The start of the revolutionary weekly TV show Monday Night Raw and it’s development was covered very well. This was unheard of until WCW brought Nitro into the mix and the famous wars began. Of course, more ship jumping followed. The Montreal Screwjob was given the appropriate amount of time, given the movies that have already been made about it. Vince Russo gave his two cents, by spewing them out with his increasingly annoying voice! This looked like the death-nail for the company at that time (losing Bret), but the best heel in the history of the business – Mr. McMahon – was born from that situation, and you could say that character saved the company.

The iconic and revolutionary Attitude Era was portrayed as a period of pushing the envelope in the face of competition, which it certainly was. Despite the huge success of the period, all was not great during this time, and so we got the poignant opinions of everyone on the tragic death of Owen Hart. Guys like Jim Ross, Chris Jericho and his own brother Bret gave some really insightful and emotional views on the whole thing. This part kind of choked me up a bit, I have to admit. The beginning of Smackdown was covered at length. It may seem like a boring B-Show now, but at that time, it was exciting and fresh, and represented a new frontier for the company. It’s crazy to imagine that we were treated to two equally good and equally important shows back then. Take a hint from the past!

The publicly traded company era began and spawned new revenue streams, like books. The victory over WCW brought with it media libraries and intellectual property from WCW and ECW. The company just went from strength to strength. The brand extension and drafts continued to add a fresh air to the product. I really miss those early days of Raw versus Smackdown. It got very stale in the end, but it was great at first, especially with Ric Flair as General Manager of Raw.

The icons of the 00s are given their due respect: Randy Orton, Edge, Batista, John Cena, etc. These guys took the torch and became the backbone of the company for that decade. The PG era was next up, and as you can imagine, only the positives were touched on. That’s not exactly surprising. Daniel Bryan, CM Punk and Bret Hart acknowledge that John Cena deserves a lot of respect and credit, for being the hero he is inside and outside of the ring. He is certainly our generation’s answer to Bruno, Hogan and Austin.

I learned that the WWE has been doing community outreach and charitable stuff for a long time. It is just much more known these days, with the whole Make-a-Wish thing. Since Wrestlemania 17, the event has been a stadium only affair, and that’s a terrific success story in itself. After Andre The Giant died, the Hall of Fame began and it has become more and more significant with each year. WWE films started after Hogan’s movie No Holds Barred in the 80s, but since the opening of WWE Studios, these projects have increased in number and quality. It’s crazy to really think about how much success they have had, and on how many different levels and fronts they seem to operate now.

The HD era (which I have never really contemplated) was discussed some, explaining the technological evolution which guys on the crew have been adapting to for decades. It was cool to hear the opinions of some of those unsung heroes in the plain black t-shirts. The use of internet and social media may be annoying a lot of the time, but it didn’t stop them from talking it up in this movie, as you would expect.

The past will be forever alive thanks to WWE’s campaign to buy up media libraries and create WWE classics. The future is also looking bright. NXT is a better show than Smackdown half the time these days, and the new performance centre can only mean good things in terms of the talent pool available.

Vince McMahon is illustrated as a 24/7 workaholic, even now at his age. He gets all the plaudits that he deserves for all the work he has put in over the decades. The boss is also sure to praise those close to him who really helped make his vision a reality. The most successful family business in history is still going strong today, and I for one am very happy to say that. I’ve always been a WWF/E guy, and that’s where my allegiances will continue to lie. Unless something legitimately comes along to challenge them, they will be recognised as the best and so they should. TNA isn’t in the same universe (pop at TNA).

9/10

This was a really good one, just for the interest value if nothing else. It was at times touching, thoughtful and emotional. However, for the most part, I give it such a high rating because I flat out loved seeing the chronology of WWE played out before my eyes. I was reminded of so many great wrestlers, matches and moments. It was like reliving everything positive about the company’s history and everything I utterly enjoyed, in a kind of two hour video medley. If you’re a WWE fan, watch this movie. Young or old, you will be left entertained and educated. That’s all you should ask for from a wrestling documentary.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

2013: A year in the world of the WWE

bryanbeardDo you believe the beard? – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

It’s almost the end of 2013 now so I thought it was high time to take a quick look at WWE and evaluate the company’s performance over the past year. I’m talking solely about the show. I don’t care about ratings, PPV buys or merch sales. I want to reflect on how things have gone in the on-screen world over the last twelve months. I’m going to go through division by division, so to speak. Let me know what you make of my musings by leaving a comment at the bottom of this page. Thank you! Also, forgive my goldfish memory while I try to take a decent stab at this.

It’s been a hot and cold year for the presentational aspect of their shows. In terms of General Managers, it’s been forgettable. Vickie is the only stalwart I can think of. She has been consistently getting legit heel heat as she always does in the arenas. It doesn’t really translate to me on my sofa though. I’m just beginning to get tired with the character and the annoying voice. I think Brad Maddox has been a revelation and I’d love to see some more of him. I think Booker was still around early on, and maybe Teddy Long was involved. Neither of those guys did a particularly fascinating job in the role.

As for the announcers, I’d say it’s been a very positive year. Michael Cole has reinforced his image as an impartial, play-by-play guy and done away with the infuriating heel stint he had previously. Much like Vickie, he got to the point that I couldn’t even admire him for getting heat. It was the wrong kind of heat, the annoying kind. He doesn’t annoy me anymore, except for when he blurts on about the app or Twitter, but I know he has no control over that with Vince in his headphones. JBL has been incredible as he always is behind the announce desk. Long may his stay continue! I love Jerry Lawler to bits and I was extremely shocked and saddened by his heart attack. Nevertheless, I would really like it if he stepped back from his role. He was a great heel announcer in his day, but as this watered down childlike figure on current TV, he is usually boring or irritating. Justin Roberts is great, but I am sad to hear him toning down his John Cena introduction.

The Divas division is shaping up rather nicely. It’s clear leader AJ Lee has been going from strength to strength. I think the whole wrestling “universe” was shocked by her being pipped to a Slammy by the Bellas. That clearly showed how fake and fixed the app voting system is. Nonetheless, she has performed brilliantly and is recognised by real fans. Her evolution in the ring saw the introduction of her devastating Black Widow submission, and her mic work has never been doubted. When she laid that pipe-bomb on the Total Divas clique, it was music to the ears of every real wrestling fan. She is joined by Natalya, Tamina Snuka and Kaitlyn in the ranks of good workers. Brie Bella is coming along okay, probably due to dating Daniel Bryan. The rest of the roster is mostly eye candy, but compared to previous years, I’d say there has been a notable improvement.

I’ve been lamenting the lack of a legit tag team division in WWE for more than five years, but the company has really booked it’s ideas up this year in that regard. Nobody can say that they haven’t tried, and it’s difficult to say that they haven’t succeeded. Tag matches are usually the most entertaining encounters on Raw every week. The depth of talent they have now is startling: The Rhodes Brothers, The Real Americans, The Usos, Prime Time Players. That’s leaving out the great three man factions they have introduced (e.g. The Shield and The Wyatt Family) and the incredibly exciting six man matches they have spawned. Some of the in-ring highlights of this year have been undeniably down to the hard work of great tag teams in WWE. They deserve real credit for this.

The mid card has been a real struggle for some time now. The guys involved in these feuds often seem secondary. It’s not usually their fault, but that of poor booking and direction. I think the unification of the US and Intercontinental titles would be the death-nail of any meaningful mid card in the company. They do have a good few up-and-comers in this area like Langston and Sandow, but you worry that they will languish there for a long time. You only have to look at guys like Dolph Ziggler and Kofi Kingston. They appear to be taking a guy to the next level, and then they either give up on them or drop the ball. It just leaves the middle of the card looking like guys who were never quite there, and guys who were there a very long time ago.

The most important factor in the business is of course the main event picture, and despite some false starts, I have to say it’s been a successful year in that respect. The part timers like Brock Lesnar and The Rock have been involved in some impressive marquee matches. The mainstays of the main event like Cena, Orton and Punk have all flourished at different times of the year. The most pleasing part of this year has been the rise of Daniel Bryan. I think everyone is disappointed with the way it’s been handled at times, but the fact that he has won the title twice and main evented multiple pay-per-views shouldn’t be underestimated. I think if he retired tomorrow, he would be happy to have gone far and above his logical expectations in WWE. They have made some mistakes with the main event picture, but in terms of names and star power, they have delivered. It makes me wonder how big they will go for Wrestlemania 30.

I would sum up 2013 with the word improvement. There have been definite mistakes and missed opportunities, as there always is with Vince’s company. But the successes have also been grand. They have introduced some great new talent, taken a lot of guys to the next level, and used the right stars of the past in the right way. The tag team division has come on leaps and bounds. The Shield are a home-grown faction of three certain future World Champions. Daniel Bryan has emerged as a main event player, and perhaps that has been the best thing about this year.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think sums up 2013 for WWE.

Craig [Editor]

The Weekly Editorial: The real positive side of the Attitude Era

cementtingThe Attitude Era served up some great comedy – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

I hope everyone is having a pleasant Christmas day, and thanks for spending your sacred day with The Real Mid Card

Many wrestling fans cry out for the return of the famous Attitude Era. I was brought up on it, along with the rest of my generation. It was extremely entertaining! As time goes on, people seem to be acknowledging some of the drawbacks with it. I am one of those guys that loves to point those flaws out. So today I’m going to focus on the positives. There were a lot of them, but I’m going to try and identify those that were really valuable. Everybody would love to see a return of the hardcore division and senseless violence, gratuitous nudity and needless profanity. As entertaining as of all that stuff is/was, it’s cheap. I’d prefer to take a look at parts of the Attitude Era that could be just as useful in today’s WWE. Let’s see what I come up with.

One thing I tend to disagree with people a lot about is championships. I really liked the fact that back in the day you had a lot more titles on the roster. As I’ve grown up and started to look at the business with more empathy for the actual performers, I feel even more strongly about this issue. These days there is just not enough stuff for these guys to do, especially those in the mid or lower card. The hardcore title shouldn’t come back, but I don’t see why they retired the European, and with talk of them unifying the United States and Intercontinental, it’s going to be increasingly difficult for those guys not in the main event picture to do any meaningful work. King of the Ring was also a great way to elevate people, and it’s a big shame that they don’t do that anymore.

Creative freedom, or lack thereof, is a big problem in current WWE in my opinion. The lack of input that most guys have on their craft is not a positive. I see that only getting worse with the development of the new Performance Center. I can see the good in the facility, but it worries me that the monkey training system for promos will become even more predictable and boring. Seeing guys like Steve Austin and The Rock go out there with a couple of bullet points and stir up a frenzy was incredibly entertaining. Why they felt the need to hand so much control over to the creative team, I do not know. It just creates more work for them, and they have enough to do already. Not only that, if you’re not good at it, it often comes off very obviously scripted and staged – not good.

Despite my opposition to unnecessarily violent and brutal wrestling in the modern era, I do believe that there is excellent value in blood. As long as it’s used sparingly, and it’s stringently regulated in regard to the safety of the guys, I would be all for it’s return. We are greeted to a tiny bit of accidental blood in WWE quite often these days, but it really doesn’t have the same dramatic effect as a blade job. The classic example of it’s effectiveness, which is always passed around, is Steve Austin in the Sharpshooter with the blood streaming down his face. Remove the blood and his rise to the top may have never happened, or could have well took a lot longer. That defining moment helped build the foundations for his character, and it all hinged on the use of blood. Keep it medically safe and not overdone, and it can work wonders for an angle and/or a wrestler.

The crazy crash TV and adult comedy format that Monday Night Raw ran with during the Attitude Era really was entertaining. At times it was just insane and made no sense, but I think there are parts of that style that could be taken on board by the company in today’s world. As long as it isn’t offensive or overly crude, it could be very entertaining. After all, that’s what the business is supposed to be all about, in McMahon’s mind. You want unpredictability and cutting edge material on a show you intend to watch every single week, even if it’s silly sometimes. Mae Young giving birth to a hand, Crash Holly and The Headbangers fighting through a play area, and Stone Cold ploughing through the arena in a various heavy duty vehicles (see image).  All of these things aren’t that dissimilar to the stuff you can see on WWE TV these days. If they were toned down, they could be acceptable to the current audience and wildly entertaining, in my view.

Last but not least, and most of all, I remember the wrestlers. That’s right, the workers. Every time you cry about the lack of barbed wire exploding ring matches, just remember that Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero were never doing them in ECW. They were just putting on wrestling clinics at every show. The WWE roster at that time was stacked with unbelievable talent. Some of their most memorable moments may be extreme or adult related, but that’s not what I remember them for. Those guys should be remember for their terrific wrestling. The company has a lot of great guys on the roster now, so I don’t see a problem with that. If they were going to take influence from the past though, they should be getting Lance Storm to train the guys in developmental, not showing them New Jack matches. The most important and entertaining commodity of that era was the guys who busted their asses in the ring every night. That is still the case today.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]