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


The final two – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment


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.



The Weekly Editorial: 5 candidates to win the next Royal Rumble match

lesnarrumbleA rookie Brock Lesnar won the rumble match – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

This week I’ve been thinking about the Royal Rumble, my favourite pay-per-view of the year, bar none. It occurred to me that those thoughts may translate well into a piece of writing, and here it is. I sat down to try and put together five potential winners of the most exciting match of the year. It was infinitely more difficult than I expected. When you look at what WWE wants, and what they like, it’s slim pickings.

You can see how they like to book guys like Daniel Bryan, so I see little hope there. Will they push an emerging guy who fits the mould, or go for a big name again? It’s head scratching stuff. With Cena and Orton as champions, and all this talk of unification, I find it even harder to pick who the company would put in there at Wrestlemania with these guys for a “big money match”. I came up with the five. Let me know how convinced you are by my assessments, or not so much.

Brock Lesnar: He won the 2003 Royal Rumble, but being a previous winner never stopped Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin or John Cena. If they are looking for a big name to face Cena or Orton, you couldn’t ask for much more. I myself would like to see him in there with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania, but I wouldn’t rule Lesnar out when the battle royal comes around. I expect him to at least be a part of the match. They haven’t utilized him in it since he returned, as far as I remember. Bringing back Brock as a babyface (what a tongue-twister) and having him win the rumble, and go on to face Orton, would surely mean big money and great drama.

Roman Reigns: This may be a bit premature, but I think we can all see now that Roman Reigns has (not surprisingly) been picked out as the first Shield member to be catapulted to the moon. His excellent Survivor Series performance had “that moment” quality, and should be the launching pad for a very successful WWE career. The rumble has been used on many an occasion to elevate an up-and-coming guy with vast potential. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the guy emulate The Rock and win the golden ticket to Wrestlemania. He has the family heritage on his side, coming from the world famous dynasty which includes The Rock, Yokozuna, Umaga and The Usos. Unlike Curtis Axel, I expect his trip to the top to be a swift one. Perhaps the rumble could be the start of that.

langstonchampA jubilant new champion celebrates with the fans – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Big E Langston: If my last suggestion was premature, I am surely getting carried away now. This guy is definitely a dark horse, but with guys like Bryan, Ziggler and the like deemed undesirable for a top spot, he could have an outside chance of getting an instant push. He has been around for a little while now, but hardly earned his stripes. He has power, charisma and his work is solid. I would have no problem with him getting a big push and a real opportunity. When he captured the Intercontinental Title, it really felt like the start of something. Since turning babyface, he has got over with the crowd and is looking more dominant every week. I wouldn’t bet your mortgage on this, but stranger things have happened.

CM Punk: One superstar who completely deserves to have a rumble victory on his CV is this man. He had the longest WWE title reign in modern history, and that can’t be taken lightly. Despite then though, his fire has been slightly petering out. He and Daniel Bryan are now in a tag team, rather than competing for championships, and that’s a worry. He hasn’t won the rumble before, but I think this would be a great time to do it. He was against Taker last year, and put on the match of the night, so it’s not like he can’t be trusted on the big stage. He has also had famous battles with both of the current champions. I would be very happy to see him revisit either of those feuds. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

Wade Barrett: My own personal bias may have affected this one. With the recent visa issues keeping him out of the ring, the barrage has been put on hold. The guy hasn’t had the best of luck with injuries and complications stunting his push, but he has all the potential in the world. At a point in his career in which he has become established as a member of the roster, won various titles and had some memorable moments, Wade could definitely be considered an outside chance for the rumble. He is another young guy with a big upside, just waiting for a legit push. He and Langston are probably the least likely, but as I said previously, stranger things have happened.

Thanks for reading, and leave a comment with your suggestions.

Craig [Editor]

WWE: Was Survivor Series the dud that most expected it to be?

ouchortonOrton after taking a stinging chop – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Thanks for checking out the review of WWE Survivor Series 2013, right here on The Real Mid Card. I’m going to take a look at each match specifically, and mention any relevant segments or packages. After a whirlwind two shows going into the pay-per-view, I had serious doubts over the card’s ability to not be overshadowed. Let’s have a look how it all went down, and see how successful it was.

WWE Survivor Series

I was watching the Kick-Off show on the app before it began, and noticed the dinstinguished guest panel featuring Mick Foley, Booker T and none other than Mr. 4/10 Bret “The Hitman” Hart. I wonder how that happens. It just seems insane for Triple H to put in a call and invite Bret on the show. It seems crazy to me!

Well Triple H and his wife were out first, to a big pop. They announced that there would be no physical interference of any kind, in any match. The crowd booed this. I don’t know if the booking has been crazy, or if this crowd was.

Rey Mysterio, Goldust, Cody Rhodes & The Usos v The Shield & The Real Americans (5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match)
What a way to start the show! I knew this would be a very tough act follow. Ricardo Rodriguez had joined the Spanish announce team, which was awesome. Zeb Colter twerked, and so did Cody Rhodes. It was great before it even started. Dean Ambrose was eliminated pretty much instantly by Rhodes, after talking trash to the referee and not paying attention. This has not been a strong week for him. The match then broke down into pure bedlam and Uso-mania. Huge “We the people” chants were met with Jack Swagger’s elimination and the odds looked anything but even.

Cesaro performed his swing on both Usos consecutively, to the fans utter glee. He needs a face turn soon! He was another to fall victim to Cody’s roll-up, making it 5-on-3. Reigns got one of the Usos and Rollins got the other, to even it up. A couple of eliminations later, it was down to Roman Reigns against Mysterio and Goldust, with a proverbial mountain to climb. It was the two ring veterans against the young Minotaur. Reigns speared Goldust to make it one-on-one. Mysterio quickly took advantage and set him up for the 619. As he came back off the rope, the camera couldn’t even react quick enough to catch Reigns plough through him with the spear, and pick up the win as the sole survivor. This is how you push someone! A career defining moment for Reigns. The highlight of the night by far.

reignsvictoryA dominant mixture of warrior and animal – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

After a great start like that, I wondered how the rest of the show could keep up.

Big E Langston(c) v Curtis Axel (for the Intercontinental Championship)
The big man retained his title in this hard fought, well executed match. There wasn’t a whole lot of crowd heat, but I put that down to them being completely worn out from the first match. Langston showed charisma and brought them back with a festival of cheap pops on the mic after the match.

Team Total Divas: Natalya, Eva Marie, Jojo, The Funkadactyls & The Bellas v Team True Divas: AJ Lee, Tamina Snuka, Alicia Fox, Aksana, Summer Rae, Rosa Mendez & Kaitlyn (7-on-7 Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match)
AJ gave an unorthodox rallying cry to her team backstage before the match, like only she can. This promo really told the story and set up the match well. It created intrigue, suspense, tension. I have to say the match was pretty good too, by diva standards. It had good storytelling, psychology and some interesting moves. Some of the pinfall finishes from dropkicks, leg sweeps, etc were very tame. Besides that, it was a decent contest. Natalya was the sole survivor after submitting AJ Lee with the Sharpshooter. Although, I think one of the Bellas was still in the match but knocked out at ringside.

Ryback came to the ring and called out the legends on the panel, for cheap heat. He declared an open challenge to anyone in the back again. Here I was expecting another pointless squash in-keeping with the lazy attempt to book Ryback as a credible opponent for Goldberg. Then Mark Henry came out, sporting the amazing new look that has been my Facebook cover photo for the last month. Ryback did the job on pay-per-view again. That must be a record. Surely any chance of him even being on the Wrestlemania card, let alone against Goldberg, has ultimately gone now.

John Cena(c) v Alberto Del Rio (for the World Heavyweight Championship)
It was another mixed reaction for Cena as usual, even in his home state. There was an awesome “Fire Lawler” sign in the front row. I thought that was great. Del Rio went after the arm for the whole match. No surprise there, but I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. An age old story like that is always good to bring out. Cena obviously overcame this barbaric abuse and retained his title. Yippee.

cenasucksA loving welcome home for John Cena – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

Then there was a ridiculous segment with all the mid-carders who couldn’t get on the show playing with action figures in the locker room. This sparked Fandango-ing, which could be heard over the arena microphone, and a surprise appearance from John Laurinitis. I would love to see him involved in this authority storyline somehow.

Daniel Bryan & CM Punk v The Wyatt Family
The pre-match vignette was excellent for this, and really built up a sense of anticipation. There was a huge crowd reaction for all of the entrances and pretty much the whole match. I noticed that four of the five guys in or around the ring had huge beards. I love modern day WWE. The Wyatts slowed the pace and took dominant control. Punk took everyone out with some amazing athleticism. The rapturous crowd chanted “This is awesome!” The two of them combined to polish off the face win. In the words of JBL: “What a match!” Bray Wyatt teased like he was actually going to go in there and fight the two of them up front. Of course, he backed away.

Randy Orton(c) v Big Show (for the WWE Championship)
I knew that regardless of how good this match was, the show was easily above average. That kind of helped me get through this monotony. Looking at the marquee, you knew it wasn’t going to be Savage and Steamboat, and it didn’t disappoint in that regard. There seemed to be more dissension between Orton and the authority in the office before the match, and John Cena was also in there. The two of them had a little stare-down to tease the much rumoured unification match between them. Before the action got under way, we saw another top quality preview vignette.

The early going in the match was deservedly greeted with “Boring” and “We want Bryan!” chants. It was always going to be tough to follow the earlier matches, but this was a real borefest as expected, for the most part. It got a bit more interesting when the authority showed up on the ramp, helping Orton take advantage of the distraction and connect with the RKO. There were more “Daniel Bryan” chants. Randy then punted the giant to get the win. This was a slightly more inventive ending than expected, but an overall anti-climax. John Cena came out at the end to do a little Champion v Champion pose. I guess this could be the main event at the Royal Rumble?

champtingLooks like they’re going with the unification idea – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

8/10: This would have gotten a nine if the main event were better. That kinda killed it. Overall though, the show was very good. I give credit where it’s due, and I have to say that WWE over-achieved on this one, given the card they had booked. I was pleasantly surprised.

Thanks for reading, and let me know what you thought of the show by leaving a comment.

Craig [Editor]

The Weekly Editorial: What’s next for The Shield?

shielddunnoWhat lies ahead for the coolest trio in wrestling? – Source: World Wrestling Entertainment

In today’s editorial, I’m going to talk/write a little bit about The Shield. That’s right. I speak out loud to myself as I type. It’s not weird. it’s normal. I want to quickly celebrate their awesomeness, while pondering what the future may have in store for this excellent unit.

Well, these three guys have been a constant presence in the main event of WWE’s flagship show Raw every week for the past year. The mark they have made on the business is unquestionable. They made stables cool again. When you compare them to the kind of groups TNA is often guilty of churning out on a quarterly basis, you see that The Shield are booked as strong, ruthless and unashamedly cocky. Even the look, the ring gear, is distinctive. Most importantly, when you put three athletes of gold quality into a group, you are a long way towards success from the get go. Every one of them can cut a promo, every one of them can use facials, and every one of them can deliver in the ring. Their respective abilities do vary, but we will get to that later.

The latest chapter of The Shield’s era has seen them portrayed as the men with gold. That changed last week when Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns were defeated for the Tag Team Championships. This leaves only Dean Ambrose left holding gold, in the shape of the United States Championship. The three continue to remain relevant, represent the regime and Triple H and will probably still occupy the main event every week for a while longer. The question does remain though, what is the long term plan for The Shield and did that title loss to Goldust and Cody Rhodes mark the beginning of a new, possibly final chapter for The Hounds of Justice.

The group have been at large for over a year now, and while they aren’t at all stale, it might be getting towards that time when WWE at least need to plan for a separation. They are still dominant characters, despite losing a little shine. They are still the highlight of most episodes of Raw in terms of in-ring product, providing frenetic, high-octane six man tag matches with anyone crazy enough to face them. They are still all on the same page. It can’t be denied though, that now they have lost the titles, there is a chink in the armour. This presents a possible opportunity to split up the group logically, and to give their break-up the booking the run has deserved. There a lot of theories out there, but if it were up to me, this is what I would do.

I’d have Dean Ambrose begin to lose patience with Rollins and Reigns when they lose tag team matches. He would also undermine them directly, and inadvertently, because of his growing ego. I would have him keep making the point in promos that he is still the US Champion. The interesting thing about The Shield is that they have always said they are equals, without a leader, controlled by no-one. If it were up to me, Dean would begin to present himself as the unofficial head of the group, which would annoy the hell out of the other guys. Over time, this could elevate Ambrose to the place of top heel, and allow the other two to continue working as a team for a little longer, with the potential for a face run. It would take a lot of work and planning, but I would like to see something along the lines of this.

If they do split up, what will be next for each guy? Even if Rollins and Reigns did continue to operate as a team for a while, that would need to come to an end eventually. The stable has been pushed so perfectly that no one member should be satisfied with a team role. Every one of them has the ability and the potential to become a World Champion in the WWE, and I expect them all to do so. Some will do it quicker than others, but they will all reach the top, in my view.

As for individual talents and directions. Ambrose should continue in a heel role. He is just a master at working the camera and using his face and his voice to get heat. Like all of the very best traditional bad guys, he has ring psychology down to a science and can back up his mouth with his work. He has all the dynamics needed to be a top guy.

I think Seth Rollins is the best wrestler of the group. He is destined to join Daniel Bryan and CM Punk as an “ROH guy” who reached the pinnacle. He is far from shabby on the mic too, and I could envisage him in either role. For me, a top babyface spot would work fine to start with. Potential feuds with the guys previously mentioned would be delicious. We have already seen the kind of clinics he can put on with Bryan as a part of a heel stable, let alone as a solo babyface.

I feel mostly the same about Reigns, and that’s why I think it might be beneficial to keep those two together as a team and turn them face for a while, before they go it alone. Reigns may get heat from some fans for being just a big guy with a huge physique, but that is pure jealousy. He contributes just as much as the other two in these great matches, and given the right direction and guidance, I could see him filling the shoes of Batista. He has an excellent family lineage in the business, something which should be exploited in putting his character over the top as a giant prototype of a wrestler.

In conclusion, I  would like to acknowledge the emergence of these three top athletes in the biggest wrestling company in the world. I would like to also give credit to said company, for booking the stable to near perfection. There are always little things you might tweak here or there, but for the most part, they have got The Shield spot on. The other workers have benefited from having them out there to work with. The fans have been treated to excellent matches. The guys themselves have been given a really strong platform, from which to push on and become the best that they can be. A deserved pat on the back for Triple H and the Creative Team.

Looking to the future, I see bright things for Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose and I comfortably predict that each one of them will be WWE Champion at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Craig [Editor]

Rare Undertaker match makes UK Smackdown something special

takershieldFor this post, I’m gonna go for more of a recap of what I consider to be the major occurrences from last night’s airing of WWE Smackdown. I’ll ignore the pointless bullshit that makes up half of an episode and focus on anything memorable. With the show being at the 02 Arena in London, I knew going in that one thing I could expect was a good vocal crowd – something that the show in blue almost always lacks. Let’s see what got those Brits going!

Alberto Del Rio v Jack Swagger

A rematch from Wrestlemania featuring two guys who seem to have been opposite each other in the ring every week for the last two months may not scream excitement, but this was a very good opening match. The fact that it was No Disqualification had a lot to do with it. It was a pretty brutal affair with good use of kendo sticks, steel chairs and ladders. There were also some great sequences and reversals from two excellent technicians.

The Shield cut a rather good promo, in-keeping with their consistency both on microphones and in the ring.

Fandango v Justin Gabriel

The ballroom dancing supremo got another great pop from the British fans who have made him moderately famous. Everyone is singing his theme throughout and now it’s more. There are tonnes of signs all over the place, actual Fandango chants and a huge cheer when he wins the match. The supposed heel put away Gabriel within a couple of minutes with the top rope leg drop. It’s a shame for the South African that he has been so drastically buried compared to his old Nexus team-mates Wade Barrett and Ryback, but it’s hardly surprising given what he lacks and they both possess in an abundance. Fandango is over with us, but will the Americans react the same way next week? I doubt it.

fandango12William Regal v Wade Barrett

William Regal put over Wade Barrett in a very quick squash. Regal got a decent reaction for his entrance, but I think it could have been better. It was a good idea to do this match and this finish, but please make it a little longer next time. The two of them could have a good old fashioned wrestling match for English supremacy, but I guess Regal can’t go for too long these days.

Undertaker v Dean Ambrose

The Undertaker defeated Shield member Dean Ambrose in a singles match to end the show. The Shield then proceeded to dominate The Deadman with a three on one assault. Roman Reigns speared him through the barricade, before they delivered a triple power bomb through the announce table. This ending did everyone a favour. Taker got the win and continues to be invincible, and The Shield as a team are yet again pushed as a complete juggernaut that can’t be stopped. It was crazy special to see The Phenom in actual competition on Smackdown of all shows. To make things even more epic, it was in London! This alone would have made the show watchable.

My Thoughts

Sadly the content I’ve discussed makes up only about an hour of the broadcast. A great hour. Nonetheless, in a standard two hour episode of anything, you would expect a lot more. The other hour is filled with wasted time. It makes me wonder why they insist on running three hour editions of Raw, when they can’t be bothered to put on a respectable card for Smackdown.

Their exploits in wasting time include: The Vault (in which they show a match from the past, which is either skipped over or more often than not upstages the actual main event of the show); Divas matches (which are notoriously used as tea breaks or a moment to go get a beer); Raw rebounds (making sure the viewer knows that what happened on the other show is far more important than what they are being expected to stay tuned in to); updates on Dwayne; infuriating Twitter bullshit or Randy Orton and Sheamus (anything involving either of them is like a sleeping pill)

ortonsheamusAll of those things have something in common. They make me want to stop watching Smackdown. Because I’m a hardened fan, I will eat whatever they put in front of me and it will take a whole lot to make me turn away from the product. Many people aren’t in such mental chains. The casual viewer will just get sick of it and tune out. That’s worrying for the WWE. They really do need to get some perspective on how they use their talent roster and how they continue to approach their two weekly programmes. They need to replace all of the pointless time wasting with positive material that actually has the interests of the company’s future at heart.

Thanks for reading and please let me know what you think of Smackdown in general. Any ideas or solutions? Any disagreements? I’d love to hear them. Thanks!