On Saturday morning I'm getting in the car and driving to St. Louis. I'm going to Survivor Series and I want it to be good. My definition of good isn't BROCK vs. BRYAN vs. ROMAN REIGNS vs. CENA in a Luchas de Apuestas with a Royal Rumble, cibernetico and Rollins vs. Ambrose TLC match on the undercard. I just want a fun show. A few good matches, some guys I want to see and no insulting of my intelligence. I'm easy. I love wrestlers and wrestling so I don't need this to be the biggest show ever. It's Survivor Series, it's basically a synonym for a fun throwaway show. That's all I'm looking for.
WWE storytelling apparently had other ideas. They took my fun throwaway show and turned it into this one big match with super serious, Universe altering stipulations. If Team Cena wins, the Authority is fired If Team Authority wins, all of Team Cena is fired. Cool, I guess.
Actually, it would be cool if it made any damn sense. Read more
I don't normally get into the financial side of WWE because that's not really my bag (man), but the Q3 announcement and expectations around the Network got me interested. From everything that I saw and everything that I read, I thought things were going to be bad. So I emailed my dad and asked him about put options, which is basically betting it will go down. He found some and replied to me and I... wimped out.
I read too much, talked to friends too much and let the optimist in me win out. I knew that Network numbers were going to be the only thing that mattered in this call and I put my safe prediction around 850k which would be neither so bad or so great. I expected stagnation, basically. That isn't what happened, the numbers ended up being low and I ended up losing out on literally hundreds of dollars. I want the WWE Network to succeed, I really do, and that hope is probably what ended up costing me.
But enough about me, this is about the WWE Network. What can they do? In WWE's minds this is about price. There are no more commitments, no more higher price points for early termination, it's just $9.99 month-to-month. You can sign up for one day and cancel. The price of a WWE PPVs is now cheaper than a Chikara IPPV. This is wrong. $9.99 is nothing in this world. $9.99 is a four-piece chicken combo at Popeye's Chicken, a single beer at a sporting event or a pair of John Cena licensed texting gloves. (That's a real thing, btw.) Anyone who cites price when cancelling the WWE Network is an asshole. If you eat out or partake in alcohol, you can afford the WWE Network.
It isn't price, but WWE's focus on price is a problem. People show every year around this time that they will spend money. Black Friday is a day where people burn money whether they can afford to or not. If people want something, they will get it. Price does not matter. Therefore, the problem with WWE Network must be that they aren't making people want it enough. How do they do that? Read more
I like the WWE Network. It's not perfect, but it's so much better than anything else we've ever had before that I'm willing to overlook certain things. I signed up for the Network on the very first day it was available and I'm probably never canceling unless something terrible happens to me (like growing up). I am the ideal customer because I actually like watching the old stuff and the special events/pay-per-views are an added bonus. The value, to me, is in the sheer amount of content on the Network, but I'm not everyone.
The idea behind the WWE Network is that you get the special events/pay-per-views included. A lot has and will be said about what this means to WWE on a business level, but on paper this is a great idea. $9.99 for SummerSlam? Sign me up. $9.99 for Wrestlemania? Sign me up. It works because you want these events and as soon as more of the world starts to figure out how an online network works I think it will be a success. I really do.
There is only one small problem: WWE has changed the entire way they do things and special events aren't so special anymore. Read more
Full disclosure: Cesaro is my favorite and I want the very best for him. I am as biased as it gets for this guy. He is amazing and deserves everything and more from this company.
When Cesaro became a Paul Heyman Guy after Wrestlemania, I was excited. We all were excited. Despite every non-Brock Lesnar Paul Heyman Guy not really working out (and I'm including CM Punk here), we were excited. It made perfect sense. This was the guy that had everything you look for in a WWE Superstar, but was missing that one thing to push him over the top. Paul Heyman was going to be that thing. Cesaro was going to be Heyman's One Man Dangerous Alliance and he was going to take the ball and run away with it. I knew it, we all knew it and then...
It went to shit.
I've heard theories tons of theories as to why. Vince doesn't like him, WWE was just using him to keep Heyman on TV and Lesnar fresh in everyone's minds and even that he would've gotten a big push if it wasn't for Daniel Bryan's injury ruining everyone's plans. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter now because it's done. The Heyman thing didn't work out.
Then one day we were given hope. Cesaro went back into Triple H's office and told him that he wasn't a Paul Heyman Guy anymore because he was a Triple H Guy. This had potential. This was something he could really sink his teeth into and take the ball and run away with it. This was going to be his thing and then...
He got booked in a match against Ambrose and it never really went anywhere past that. Read more
With the current state of TNA combined with WWE's losses of CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns, now could be a good time for some former stars to make their way back to Vince McMahon's Playhouse.
Personally, I'm a guy who prefers to see who is next. I want Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Tyler Breeze to get that call and start doing big things, but I also realize that's not how the game works. Cesaro got that call years ago and he's still hitting his head on the glass ceiling. Adam Rose got that call and he makes me wish he never did. The Wyatt Family got the call and things went south so quickly that they are basically re-starting them from scratch. The WWE main event scene, for whatever reason, only has room for a few guys to make the leap at once, but former established stars? There's tons of room for them.
There is value in that. There's a reason that WWE brings people back all the time. People you recognize from the past help lapsed fans figure out how to rank new guys. (Can good wrestling, announcers who promote and valuable titles do that too? Of course! But why do that?) People from the past can help guys from now seem more important. (Just look at Dolph Ziggler and Fandango.) Most importantly, people from the past can breathe some life into a stale product. Tired of Kane and Randy Orton in the main event every week? Here's Kurt Angle. Tired of Triple H burying The Miz? Here's Jeff Hardy.
That's the thing, though. Guys can come back, but that doesn't mean it will be good. It could be good, it could be stale or it could be worse. There's no way to know, but I'm going to try and figure it out with a simple system I call...
PLEASE DON'T COME BACK
During Raw this week Dean Ambrose came to the ring with a hot dog cart and ketchup and mustard holstered to his belt. He sprayed ketchup and mustard all over Randy Orton and Kane before charging with the hot dog cart. It was something that could've easily been on a list like this in my mind just a few months ago. It was dumb, but there was something about it (Dean Ambrose) that made it cool (Dean Ambrose) and not the worst thing ever. Still, food fights are one of those things that have always been apart of WWE and probably always will. In the grand scheme of things they are mostly harmless and kids probably like them, so whatever.
However, there are certain things that happen on WWE television that are the worst. Things that make you embarrassed as a wrestling fan, things that make you turn off the TV and things that make you loudly complain (on the internet). These aren't booking mistakes or storytelling issues. This is anti-entertainment crap. These are the things that WWE should never, ever, ever put on TV again. Read more
The Shield as we know it is gone. Seth Rollins hooked up with Triple H and the greatest trio in the history of WWE is gone. For a group of dudes who basically never smiled they sure did steal a lot of happiness from the world with their break up. We don't really know what is going to happen from here. Is it time for Ambrose and Reigns to go out on their own? Will Triple H move into the Flair role of Evolution? Is Rollins going to be the new corporate champion? Is Batista going to come back and team with The Shield?
We don't know. We don't know anything. This is all new. This is fresh and for the first time since Wrestlemania there is intrigue in what might happen in the future of WWE. It's exciting and there is a lot of cool possibilities that they will probably screw up, but right now there are tons of possibilities and there is one I'd like WWE to explore more than any other - adding Sami Zayn to The Shield. Please. Read more
I flew home from New Orleans on Tuesday. A day after Raw, two days after Wrestlemania and a million years from WWE Battleground, and the buzz has not stopped. I have not come down. I am still feeling the ultimate high of Wrestlemania XXX. I wish I could do it all over. I wish I could go back in time and spend hundreds more dollars to sit a few rows closer. To be a bigger part of it, so I could feel even more of what I already do. Wrestlemania XXX is a drug that I wish I could do every day for the rest of my life.
But it's not a drug I can do every day or even one more time. It was one day, a little over four hours of one day, that is gone and will always be gone. Sure, I can watch it again on the WWE Network and buy the DVD and everything else, but it'll never be like it was that day. It will remind me of that moment, but I'll never live that moment again. It was truly epic. Wrestling is the best.
My road to Wrestlemania started way back when New Orleans was announced as the host city. I distinctly remember being at a friend's house for Wrestlemania XXIX and saying that I wouldn't be at their house next year because I would be in New Orleans. I was right, but before that there was many conversations between myself and my girlfriend and myself and my friends that went like this:
Are you going? Should we go?
Well, I want to go.
Me too. Okay, let's go.
I'm not sure.
Yeah me neither.
Classic procrastination and worries about money. That was it, but by August we had made the decision. We were going. I booked a hotel room. Two months later I bought flights which was basically the soonest Southwest would let me buy a flight for April. We waited and waited until the Wrestlemania pre-sale and then we bought tickets the morning they went on sale so we could sit together, all seven of us. My girlfriend and I saved thousands of dollars to make this the trip of a lifetime. We feared the worst when Batista won the Rumble, but we tried to stay positive. We tried to believe that when the day finally came that this would be one of the great all-time Wrestlemanias. And you know what? Read more
There is a lot going on in the wrestling world right now - Chikara is back, WWE Network, Wrestlemania season, an indies renaissance, Cesaro taking over the world and releasing the greatest shirt in professional wrestling history - but few things have been as exciting and original as PAUL LONDON: HERO OF THE PROPHECY.
In what I can only assume is a story based on true events Paul London is the Hero of the Prophecy and is the only one who can defeat an evil wizard with a mysterious artifact. Paul is transported to another world where he teams with the resistance (a warrior-ess and an owl faced wizard) to train for his fight with the evil wizard. It's Paul London in a space wizard action comedy and it is the best thing.
This is what happens when pro wrestlers set out to do something creatively that is not pro wrestling and it totally works. The Chikara Ashes videos were good, but they were missing some of that "Chikara magic" (probably because they were so serious). In this Paul London takes the Wrestler In A Non-Wrestling Story to a whole other level and the results are awesome. While genre-wise this won't be for everyone (which is good because good stuff isn't for everyone), this does set a great template for wrestlers doing great things outside of wrestling by flexing their creative muscles. Paul London teamed with his brother Jonathan and William Bibbiani to create this Edgar Wright-esque tribute to 80's sci-fi and fantasy sword and sorcery films and it works. It really works. I hope it gets picked up for six seasons and a movie.
I'm excited to see where this goes and I'm even more excited to see how others attempt to follow in London's footsteps. I think wrestling fans want to support wrestlers in things outside of wrestling. Why else would Fozzy sell so many albums? I love Paul London so I support this. Simple. This video should be a message to all the other wrestlers out there: if you have something you are passionate about, do it. You don't have to kill yourself in the ring always and forever. Not anymore. Find some cool people to work with and do it. Be creative. The audience will find you.
On May 25th, 2014, exactly 12 years after their first show, Chikara is back. This is good news. No, this is great news. For the wrestling fan who has found their love of wrestling in the eight months without Chikara this couldn't have come a day sooner. As WWE fails to understand the wants of their most dedicated fans and TNA continues to fail to understand the basic idea of good business, the return of Chikara is the greatest thing. I can't wait for Chikara to return.
Which isn't to say that it is all sunshine and roses. At the end of the long eight months I find myself with more questions than answers. I know that this was designed, that this was a story and that Chikara had to tell this story to get to where they wanted to go. I know all of this, but I still have one question: why?
Before we get further into that let's catch everyone up with the story and how we got here: Read more