WWE: An Early Bird Preview of Wrestlemania!

maniaxxxSource: World Wrestling Entertainment

http://www.geek-pride.co.uk/wwe-an-early-bird-preview-of-wrestlemania/

This is my fourth article for Geek Pride, taking a look at the potential of this year’s Wrestlemania card. With the major matches all booked, the show is shaping up to be a success.

Craig

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WWE: Royal Rumble 2014 leaves wrestling fans in a furious frenzy

rumblereigns

The final two – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

http://www.geek-pride.co.uk/wwe-royal-rumble-2014-leaves-wrestling-fans-in-a-furious-frenzy/

I know it’s been a while but I’ve been back at it again. I’m now a member of the Geek Pride family, having been kicked to the curb by those kind souls at What Culture. Check out my first article, and give it a share if you like it.

Craig

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]

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]

WWE: Raw Christmas had a very surprise return gift for everyone!

xmasfireSandow gets put out – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

It’s Christmas time and last night I sat down to watch the penultimate episode of Monday Night Raw for 2013. From Austin, Texas WWE presented Raw Christmas. Let’s get into it.

– The Authority came to the ring to the open the show, each wearing red Santa hats, even Kane. Randy Orton came to the ring and awarded himself the night off, which they didn’t seem to mind.

12 Divas Jingle Bells Match: This match included some very hot Christmas outfits, some pretty impressive moves and even the disturbing presence of Vickie Guerrero. Natalya, Alicia Fox and The Bellas did a good job, to be fair to them. Natalya got the win with the Sharpshooter.

Sin Cara v Curtis Axel: The Mexican continued to build momentum with a tremendous performance and a good win over the former Paul Heyman guy. JBL kept dropping massive hints that the guy under the mask could be a different person. Now that I know it’s Hunico, I found that really ironic. There was no Jerry Lawler all night for some reason, which I noticed during this match. Cara got the win after a senton bomb from the top rope, which was just one of the acrobatic delights he pulled off.

– The next thing I saw really shocked me, in a good way. A vignette told of Batista’s return on the January 20th episode of Raw. I thought this announcement was a bit nonchalant for such huge news.

The Wyatt Family v The Rhodes Brothers & Daniel Bryan: This was a great match and a great win for the family. They all have their characters down so much and do the little things so well, like facial expressions.

– The Christmas carol contest involving Santino Marella, The Great Khali, 3MB, Xavier Woods and R-Truth was actually entertaining somehow.

Dolph Ziggler v Fandango (in a Christmas Present on a Pole Match): This is not a joke. This actually happened. I guess Vince Russo is back working for WWE. The dancing supremo won again and continues to build momentum. He will challenge Big E Langston for the Intercontinental Championship on Raw New Year next week.

xmasgiftWhenever I see a pole, I sigh – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Prime Time Players v The Usos: The Prime Time Players cut a really funny promo, in which Darren Young accidentally said Houston instead of Austin. I don’t know if he did this on purpose, but it was entertaining either way. During their match with The Usos immediately after, the crowd were chanting “This is Austin” and “Houston sucks” constantly. The Usos picked up the win, and all of them did the million dollar dance together. I enjoyed this whole thing.

Mark “Good Santa” Henry v Damien “Bad Santa” Sandow: These two guys brought out all the weapons and went at each other with kendo sticks, fire extinguishers and a toilet. At the end of this brutal battle, Good Santa got the win and saved Christmas for everyone. I should have hated this, but I just couldn’t.

– CM Punk, John Cena and Big E Langston cut an awesome old school “brother” type of promo and did The Shield pose at the end.

Los Matadores v The Real Americans: The luchadores pulled off some really cool high flying moves and got the win here. Zeb’s boys are far too over to be doing so many jobs. They are long overdue for a title run!

Ryback v Kofi Kingston: Ryback got the win. I have nothing else to add.

The Shield v John Cena, CM Punk & Big E Langston: The jackals used great tag team work to isolate Punk, who after a while, eventually clawed his way to a fresh Langston for the hot tag. An exhilarating spotfest followed until The Shield beat Langston down for the DQ. Cena and Punk rescued their partner and hit a tandem Attitude Adjustment/GTS.

8/10

Some will see this show as an indictment of the PG era. I just thought it was really entertaining, Christmas fun. Maybe I’m getting old, but I remember when this kind of episode would have had my seething. I didn’t see it that way at all yesterday.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

WWE: Great main event saves an otherwise forgettable episode of Smackdown

punkdamanPunk launching himself at Seth Rollins – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

I know. My title really drew you in. Sarcasm aside, I didn’t know how to big up this show, because it didn’t have a whole lot to shout about. Nonetheless, some decent stuff happened. Let’s take a look at what went down on Friday Night Smackdown!

Big E Langston v Jack Swagger: The show opened with a short but okay match which Langston won. Zeb Colter was at the announce desk entertaining and showing off his “Santa is an illegal immigrant” sign which Cole found offensive and I found brilliant. Henry was at ringside to offer moral support. I’m liking this new Big E and Mark Henry friendship.

Randy Orton cut a typical promo in the ring and was confronted by John Cena. who was then joined by Daniel Bryan. The Shield came through the crowd as Orton slithered out of the ring, to make an attack. CM Punk ran down to even up the numbers, and Vickie Guerrero came out to create the predictable six man tag main event. It may be predictable, but you know with all of those guys, it’s going to be a great contest.

Brie Bella v Tamina Snuka: The Bella got the shock win after a sharp counter, which left AJ Lee looking furious outside the ring. The Divas Champion had been at the announce table too. This is becoming real overkill on Smackdown in my opinion, the constant guest announcing that is.

Sin Cara v Drew McIntyre: The Mexican continued to build momentum with this squash of the Scot, but I’m sad to see that his run with Alberto Del Rio seems to be over. For Drew, this was just another day at the office.

Damien Sandow v The Miz: The series of throw-away matches continued with this impromptu affair. Damien Sandow was cutting some stupid promo about cancelling Christmas and The Miz showed up to challenge him. Seriously, is this guy face again now? I can’t keep up. Sandow won this non-match with a roll-up.

The Rhodes Brothers v The Wyatt Family: This was the first real good match on the card. Rowan and Harper went into this family affair with their distinctively dirty offensive style. The babyfaces tried continuously to work from underneath, but they couldn’t overcome. Cody got the comeback tag and delivered some fast paced offence midway through the match but it eventually boiled down into tornado mayhem.

The moment of the match (in my opinion) saw Goldust execute a running senton from the apron onto Rowan on the outside. At his age, I don’t even know how that’s possible. I was even more surprised that the geniuses in the truck chose not to replay it. Nonetheless, with everyone else down on the outside, Harper secured the win with a mean clothesline to Cody. The former moustache maestro escaped a creepy Bray Wyatt post-match sacrifice when a marauding Daniel Bryan interfered and saved the day. I guess that feud is still going on – not a fan.

Brodus Clay v Tensai: I don’t know whether he should be called Lord Tensai, Sweet Tea or what. I’ll just go with Tensai. Anyway, he was dominated for the most part in his fat man brawl, until Xavier Woods danced with The Funkadactyls on the stage to distract black tights Brodus. That was enough for Tensai to get the win with the roll-up. This only encouraged his former tag partner to beat him down some more, until Woods ran to the ring and the two babyfaces sent the “main event player” packing. I guess that’s your new dancing, jiving tag team.

woodstensaiXavier Woods making an impact, sort of – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Kofi Kingston v Fandango: The demise of Kofi continues as he was beaten by Fandango, who seems to be receiving somewhat of a mini-push as of late. He got the victory with that big leg drop from the top rope. This was short, but decent.

Then we saw a chilling backstage attack from The Wyatts on Daniel Bryan. They appeared to throw him off some kind of ledge or down a shaft or something, as Bray knelt down and did something weird. That would rule him out of the main event match.

John Cena & CM Punk v The Shield (3-on-2 Handicap Match): As their partner Bryan got medical treatment on the concrete in the back, arguably the two biggest stars in the company took on the best faction in a decade. We may have seen these kind of matches many times, but they never disappoint. As the two babyfaces came out ready to fight, Vickie made her to way to the stage to announce the obvious: this would now be a 3-on-2 handicap match. What would we do without you, Vickie?

This really was a great main event and all five of these guys worked so, so well as always. My favourite moment in particular though, was seeing Roman Reigns hit that insane Superman punch on John Cena. The former World Heavyweight Champion and CM Punk did both execute a crazy DDT each, with Punk’s involving two of his opponents. As the match became increasingly chaotic, the referee called for the bell when Punk was defencelessly beaten by the jackals on the ground. Big E Langston came down to help them even the odds and stood in the ring defiant as the show went off the air. A really good match to end an okay show.

7/10

I’m in the mood to try and be a bit more critical this week, because my ratings are usually very lenient at all times. This show was fairly average. The main event saved it. The best thing about that closing twenty minutes was that it really put over Roman Reigns and also Big E Langston. WWE was once again showing TNA how it’s done when it comes to building and marketing your own original stars. The tag team encounter involving the Rhodes boys was also very well done, but the rest of the card was mostly boring and/or irrelevant.

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]

WWE: The seeds are planted for Punk and Michaels Wrestlemania match on Raw

hbkpunkCould these two be geared up for a match? – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

After the historic TLC pay-per-view and it’s main event which saw Randy Orton become the first ever WWE World Heavyweight Champion, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one anticipating last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw. Let’s see what went down!

– The Authority came out and lovingly unveiled their new Champion, who walked through the crowd of superstars gathered on the ramp with a real swagger. He then proceeded to cut a heated promo from the ring about how jealous they all were of his success. John Cena interrupted him and demanded that he defend his title against Daniel Bryan. I know this is his way of appeasing the marks who boo him, but it’s still pretty cool of him to consistently put the guy over on television. After the whole arena chanted “Yes!”, the power couple booked the match for the main event. WWE are really going for it lately!

The Rhodes Brothers v Big Show & Rey Mysterio: Cody and Rey were excellent again picking up from where they left off the night before, until Big Show got in there and slowed the pace right down. During his spells, the announcers took multiple “selfies” and the camera crew constantly cut away from the action to film them doing so. This was absolutely ridiculous – very stupid and harmful to the presentation. Eventually the pace quickened and order disappeared from the match. Big Show hit the knock out punch and Rey Mysterio the splash from his shoulders onto Goldust for the win. After the bell, more sportsmanship.

– Randy Orton burst into the office to demand reassurances from The Authority, which he got. Sometimes I notice how funny Kane looks in his suit. Bless him.

Fandango v Dolph Ziggler: Summer Rae is just out of this world! I don’t think there is a woman on earth as perfect as she is. This was a short but decent match, which Ziggler “stole” with the roll-up.

Big E Langston & Mark Henry v The Real Americans: The modern day Nation of Domination were teaming again. This match is about as close as WWE can come to a race war. It was a tough, physical match and an entertaining one to boot. Langston secured the win for his team.

– What I saw next made me rub my eyes. It was a really bizarre segment with Damien Sandow as “Bad Santa” and an elf AJ Lee (I think). It was advertising some “Battle for Christmas” next week on Raw. Whatever this is, it looks insane – good or bad, I’m not sure yet.

Ryback & Curtis Axel v Tonnes of Funk: Xavier Woods and R-Truth were at the announce table for this one. I was surprised to see that the two fat dinosaurs were still a team. Ryback decimated Tensai after Clay refused to tag him in. He shellshocked him for the win, with Curtis Axel not even having to feature in the match. Clay then came into the ring and splashed his partner several times. I guess they won’t be partners anymore next week. The two faces at the announce table made the save, chased him off and danced with his girls – ouch.

rybacktensaiRyback overpowers Tensai – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

– CM Punk was out to address The Authority before his match against The Shield. The app users would be determining his two tag partners. Beforehand, he called out Triple H to explain what problem he had with the Best in the World. To my surprise, Shawn Michaels came out instead and told him to focus more on the guy who kicked him in the head, than the boss.

The crowd chanted “You sold out!” and HBK played them like a fiddle, showing the charisma that made him one of the best ever. When the crowd started to chant “One more match”, they both legit smiled and Punk cracked wise. The two had a certain tension going on before The Shield came out for the match. This wasn’t the most dramatic segment of the night, but I think it was the most important, because of what it could hopefully lead to at Wrestlemania.

CM Punk & The Usos v The Shield: The app voters chose well in terms of match quality, but I would have rather seen something different like Los Matadores. It wouldn’t have made much sense, but would have been entertaining. I noticed a Tweet at this time that pointed out that four of the five matches up to this point had been tag team matches. That’s not the best. Roman Reigns was sporting the huge black eye that he received at TLC.

This was a truly great match with tremendous athleticism exhibited by every single guy involved. There were too many cool spots to list. Reigns made amends for his mistake on Sunday by getting the pinfall victory after a spear on Punk. However, his epic Superman punch on one of the Usos earlier in the match was the clear highlight. Ambrose had been busted wide open by Punk in the match. It was the PG-era equivalent of Foley and Funk in Japan. The Shield showed a united front again and picked up the big win. Every time you think they are done, they never are.

– There was some kind of multi-diva tag team match. I’m afraid to say that I unprofessionally flicked through Punk’s Twitter page throughout the match. Put Paige and Emma from NXT onto the main roster, and I will pay more attention. AJ won it for the heel team with a wicked Shining Wizard.

– Randy Orton cut an enraged backstage interview with Renee Young, in which he said that everybody in the world should kiss his ass.

Randy Orton(c) v Daniel Bryan (Main Event Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship): I expected fireworks from this match and in terms of the contest I wasn’t disappointed. Randy Orton is so underrated when it comes to facials, selling and all-round heel psychology. The man literally bit Bryan on the knee to escape a leg lock – that’s some old school shit! There was a lot of sound technical and mat work from both guys, as well as some fast paced striking. Daniel Bryan also got in on the biting when he went for a chunk of the champion’s face.

ortonbiteRandy Orton takes a chunk out of Bryan’s knee – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

An earth shattering superplex from Orton was upstaged when Bryan pulled of a Super Hurricanrana. “This is awesome” chants were flowing – indeed. The final moments were of real high intensity with lots of near falls and impact spots. I thought the LeBell lock would be enough, but Orton got to the ropes. As Bryan closed in on a momentous win, The Viper hit him with a blatant low blow and took the easy escape via a DQ loss. John Cena ran down and attacked him, before checking on Bryan. When he turned around, he took a mean RKO for his trouble and the broadcast went off the air. As Michael Cole said, it was a “pathetic” ending to an otherwise excellent match.

8/10

This would have been a 9, but for the screwy finish to the main event. Perhaps I was delusional to think that Bryan was going to win clean and give Orton a taste of his medicine. Regardless of the winner, that match deserved a better conclusion though. The Punk and HBK segment was cool and should cause a storm of gossip. Everything else was more than okay. A thumbs up show for me!

Thanks for reading,

Craig [Editor]