Cody Rhodes/Stardust Asks For His WWE Release

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. I’m here to discuss the Twitter announcement from Cody Rhodes a.k.a. Stardust, who revealed that he has asked for his release from WWE. Coming off the recent releases and MANY rumours of futures departures from the company, this one is quite a big one.

Cody tweeted the news yesterday on his personal account.

Just like Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow, Cody Rhodes had the potential to become a true main-event star. He’s got the blood of a wrestling legend in Dusty Rhodes. He was one of the best workers in the roster, being able to use an old-school in-ring style and adapt it to a vastly different and high-paced style. He has charisma and was dedicated to getting the most out of himself and his character, no matter how badly he had it. He’s got the look of a marketable pretty boy and to my knowledge, had been anything but a pain backstage. I’ve rarely seen stories about backstage heat on Cody Rhodes or any issues he’s had with fellow wrestlers. He’s the ultimate workhorse, even with the last name of Rhodes.

You know, it’s very easy to look at a guy and say: “he deserved to be champion.” We’ve said that about Mr Perfect. We’ve said that about William Regal. We’ve said that about a lot of people. I Googled the term deserve and the definition I got was: “do something or have or show qualities worthy of (a reaction which rewards or punishes as appropriate).” Every one of the qualities I mentioned above describes Cody Rhodes and his actions certainly were more deserving of rewards rather than punishment. Even so, I don’t even think Cody Rhodes has even been given a single world championship program in his entire WWE career.

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Now he’s been in pretty big storylines while with WWE. He was a member of Legacy, with Legacy’s leader Randy Orton being the biggest part of WWE storylines in 2009. He was the one that re-introduced the classic Intercontinental Championship as part of a great run as Intercontinental Champion from August 2011 until WrestleMania 28. He was a key part in a tremendous program with the Rhodes Family taking on the Shield, leading to a classic tag team match at Battlerground 2013. He had the “Stardust” gimmick and still did his very best to make the most out of his character. Even so, he was never considered for a big main event push. After nearly a decade of blood, sweat and tears, Cody Rhodes was never given the main event opportunity.

Being deserving of something and being entitled to something are two completely different things. I may go on Twitter or write something, suggesting that “this guy deserves a push.” There are so many guys that have been lost in the shuffle for many years now, which is detrimental to the product. I don’t want those guys to be wasted, as those guys have qualities that is worthy of a reward. That’s being deserving. I will, however, never say that someone is entitled to anything. Nobody has the right to have x amount of title runs. Nobody has the right to be in x amount of WrestleMania main events. Despite that, Cody Rhodes was as close as a wrestler can be to being entitled to much more than he was getting. What more could Cody do to be “given the ball?”

Cody has the genetics of a champion. Cody has the charisma of the champion. Cody has the wrestling ability of a champion. What more was there for Cody to have in order for WWE to give him a championship run or even a title shot? I don’t understand.

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I’m sure there’s a lot of people already speculating that this is a grand work but I highly doubt that. I know there’s been examples of wrestlers that have tweeted their departure on Facebook or Twitter, only for it to have been a big swerve. A memorable example to me was when Devon tweeted that he was quitting TNA but was back for the 2012 Bound For Glory pay-per-view. However, I don’t think so. I mentioned this during my post about the initial WWE releases. There was just more to come from this and unfortunately, this is it. Brooklyn Brawler’s release was announced shortly after this, with a few more being speculated as well. Cody’s deal is just one of them and he chose to tweet it first himself.

There have been several more tweets of support for Cody. There’s been tweets from Arrow star Stephen Amell and Cody’s wife Brandi Rhodes a.k.a. Eden both tweeted.

It’s a shame because of what I mentioned before. Of course, Cody could easily come back some time down the road. I don’t think that relations between WWE and Cody are terrible or anything, so of course the possibility is there for a return.

Have any favourite memories or thoughts about the release of Cody Rhodes/Stardust? Tweet me @TomRobinson5199 and @ArmbarExpress and give us your thoughts, or leave a comment.

Wade Barrett And Damien Sandow Among Several WWE Releases

How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Big news coming from the WWE on Friday as eight releases were announced with the departures of Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow being the biggest ones of the lot.

With that said, there were a number of surprise releases among the group of superstars. The full list of wrestlers released were….

  • Wade Barrett
  • Damien Sandow
  • El Torito
  • Hornswoggle
  • Alex Riley
  • Cameron
  • Santino Marrella
  • Zeb Colter

What we’ll do with this post is run down everyone that was released and I will give my thoughts in the latest mass exodus of WWE talent.

 

Wade Barrett

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Barrett’s departure has been well-known for a while. He’s discussed it in the past and it appeared that he was done following his excommunication from the League of Nations. Throughout the years, for the Armbar Express, NoDQ.com, SLTD Wrestling and even WhatCulture, I’ve talked about Wade Barrett passionately. This man had everything that the WWE could want in a top heel and they really dropped the ball on him. Now granted, there were a number of times where Barrett was picking up momentum but unfortunately picked up injuries that stopped him. However, there’s also been a fair share of disregard for Barrett by the WWE writers in the past few years.

He’s been a King of the Ring winner and a multi-time Intercontinental Champion, but it still feels like Barrett was never able to accomplish any of significant value since he debuted on RAW as a part of Nexus. That angle could have made Barrett a star but whether it was down to “backstage politicking” or lack of confidence in the Nexus as a whole, Barrett was never really given a great main-event run. Despite this, Barrett’s had some great periods of getting over to a high level. As Bad News Barrett in 2014, Barrett was one of the most over acts in the entire company. It’s sad to see him go but the pressure is now on for Neville to waive the flag for England in the WWE.

 

Damien Sandow

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The fact that WWE had nothing creatively for Damien Sandow to do in the last 12 months just goes to show how badly WWE screwed up the booking of this man. The fact that Damien Sandow has now been released after holding the Money In The Bank contract and being one of the most over acts of 2014 and 2015 is just an unfortunate fall from grace for the man that has received endorsements from legends such as Mick Foley.

For a company that claims to embody “sports entertainment,” it’s astonishing that they wouldn’t push Damien Sandow to the level that he could get to. After all, Damien Sandow has been entertaining with every gimmick he’s been given. Whether it’s just being the intellectual saviour of the masses or just parodying other superstars, Damien took the ball and ran as hard as he could with it. He’s like Eric Young in the sense that he could make any gimmick work. It boggles my mind how WWE never gave him a legitimate run as a main-eventer considering how over Damien got.

 

El Torito

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El Torito was a surprise release. I actually liked El Torito and he actually had a lot of value as a little fella that children could get invested in. Not only that but he could actually work in the ring as a luchador. As a suitable replacement for Hornswoggle as the top… little man in the company, El Torito was the right man. I know that his character didn’t get over to a tremendous degree but he was good enough to be a great little lower mid-card character that could keep the crowds happy. I guess the WWE didn’t really have a lot of future plans for him but you could tell that anyway as soon as he broke up with Los Matadores in an angle which went… nowhere.

Torito, much like a lot of these guys, just didn’t seem to have a place in the company anymore. Especially with Los Matadores being repackaged back to Primo and Epico, there was not much else for Torito to do.

 

Hornswoggle

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Hornswoggle had already been on the company’s bad books ever since his suspension last year. Taking his inactivity afterwards into account, this was the least surprising release for me. After ten years of goofy angles, which include being Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son and being the anonymous general manager of RAW, what else could Hornswoggle offer in terms of storylines? He did pretty much all he could with WWE and now’s the time for him to move on. You gave us some of the most unique and bizarre wrestling angles of all time and even reigned as the final Cruiserweight champion but this is the end of the road unfortunately.

NOTE: It’s actually already been confirmed that Hornswoggle is starting up with Global Force Wrestling as… Swoggle.

 

Alex Riley

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Again, this was an inevitability. Alex Riley had been in NXT for years in hopes of revitalising his wrestling career. He feuded with Kevin Owens and then really just floated around in the NXT roster after that. Riley had also been very outspoken on Twitter about how WWE was using him on the main roster and on NXT.  Really, there was little chance of anything major happening for Riley in the near future.

There was a time where it really felt that WWE were going to get behind him after he broke up with The Miz in 2011. He got some big pops as he feuded with him and even BEAT him at Capitol Punishment 2011. Considering that he beat Miz, right after he dropped the WWE title to John Cena, that shows you just how much stock they had in him. He had segments with Cena and Steve Austin and it looked for all the world like they were really going to push him to be the next top babyface. He had the charisma for it anyway.

However, for whatever reason, Riley’s push was dropped and he was really never able to recover again. The big reason about why Riley’s push was ended was reportedly due to a confrontation he had with John Cena backstage. It was probably in Riley’s best interests to not get on the bad side of these top guys in the company, but it was a shame that his full potential was never realised before he parted ways with WWE.

 

Santino Marella

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Santino had been retired as an in-ring competitor for a number of years. Santino’s gave us many years of laughs and entertainment but it was very difficult for Santino to make a significant contribution to the company strictly as an ambassador and in a non-wrestling position. With several big legends on the pay-roll in the same role as Santino, there was little need for him anymore.

You’ll be missed Santino!

 

Cameron

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As strange as this may sound, Cameron was the most shocking release of all. The reason I say this is because I truly believed that Cameron was making a serious effort to contribute more to the company. Whether it was going back to NXT to develop her wrestling skills or taking part in outside projects, I think Cameron was trying really hard to make the WWE realise that she wanted a place in her company and that she could deliver. Despite all of this, with the sudden increased demand of women’s wrestling, Cameron was going to have a difficult time attempting to live up to that standard set by the likes of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Paige and Bayley.

Cameron did have a number of off-screen incidents while in WWE, including her infamous DUI where she reportedly tried to bribe a policeman and didn’t tell WWE about it. She also had the incident on RAW where she tried to pin Naomi on her stomach. Despite her recent efforts, I guess it’s time for Cameron to say girl bye.

 

Zeb Colter

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Colter was sailing in the same boat as nearly everyone else that was released, in the sense that there was not a lot for him to do within the company anymore. He came in as the effective manager for Jack Swagger and delivered tremendously on the mic. The issue with Zeb was that he was one gimmick hit. He was really only able to deliver well with the Real American gimmick and whenever he was with Jack Swagger. When they tried to put him with Alberto Del Rio, it was a momentous disaster to the point where Del Rio has never really been able to recover.

 

What do you think of these releases? Who are you going to miss the most? Is there anyway that you’re glad to see leave? Tweet us your response @ArmbarExpress or leave a comment below.

Undertaker vs Shane McMahon Announced For WrestleMania 32

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express to talk about a huge match announced for WrestleMania 32. It came from the big angle from RAW a few weeks ago that has generated a lot of buzz. Shane McMahon returned to the WWE and declared that he never lost his place as next-in-line for control of WWE. Shane revealed that he bailed Vince out a few years back which resulted in an agreement which meant that Shane would remain as the heir to WWE over Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Shane said that he wanted control of Monday Night RAW. Vince agreed to these terms on one condition. Vince said that Shane would win control if he won a match at WrestleMania 32. It was revealed that his match would be a Hell in a Cell match and that his opponent would be the Undertaker.
Rather shocking developments on RAW a few weeks ago. I don’t think a lot of people would have guessed that WWE’s reported “secret” opponent for the Undertaker would turn out to be Shane McMahon. It was reported by Dave Meltzer that WWE had been planning to have a secret opponent for the Dead Man who had not been a part of the main roster. The thing is, I still expected it to be somebody from the main roster and that’s mostly because I couldn’t think of anyone outside of WWE that they could use. I thought about people like Batista, but I don’t think Batista would want to come back to the company at this time. Batista seems to be at odds with WWE, especially when he suggested on Twitter that Titus O’Neil should ask for his release. It’s very difficult to think of anyone that could have been in that role.
All I’ll say at this moment is that Shane would not have been high on my list of people that should have faced the Undertaker. I could think of a lot of guys that would have benefited more from wrestling Undertaker than Shane. I don’t know what kind of contract Shane signed when he came back but the thing is, Shane’s not an active member of the roster. His main profession in life is not professional wrestling. He’s a business man that has not wrestled in the company since 2009. He is 46 years old. The idea that he could put on a high quality match with the Undertaker seems absurd to me.
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With the match being Hell in a Cell, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors that WWE could have thrown in to help the match. Even if you did though, I just don’t think it would be a match that could have a great deal of impact. You’re pitting the 50-year-old Undertaker up against the 46-year-old Shane McMahon. None of these men are active members of the roster.
However, maybe I’m jumping the gun here. Undertaker has a certain amount of “creative control” when it comes to Wrestlemania. I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t have announced this match without Undertaker’s input, so it seems that Taker would have been OK with it and would have known how to get a good match out of Shane. Right now, I’m not convinced that this would be a great spectacle in 2016 but I do wish that I was proven wrong.
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The thing about Shane is that for whatever reason, he got an insane pop on Monday Night RAW. People have been talking about him since he came back and it’s really caught me off guard just the amount of attention Shane’s getting. I think it’s awesome for WWE that he is generating that interest and it may actually help when it comes to bringing up ratings for Wrestlemania. RAW actually had a big increase in viewership on the RAW where he came back, so they’re on the right track. I think that was going to happen anyway, since there was the intrigue about what happened at Fastlane. However, Shane could provide a lot moving forward in that department.
It’s interesting to speculate about Shane’s role in the company. While a WWE spokesman has come out recently to state that Shane’s involvement at the company is currently just as an on-screen character, people in business have talked about Shane taking an executive role in the company. It’d be interesting if that happened, but I would be really surprised that it did. I figured if it were, he would have gotten involved with the company a lot sooner in a business position.
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Back to the match, there’s a lot of rumours running wild about what this means for WWE going forth. There’s a LOT of people thinking that Shane is going to take over as the new authority figure in the company with this storyline. Bryan Alvarez actually speculated that Shane might actually BEAT the Undertaker and gain control. I would be INCREDIBLY shocked if this were to happen. Then again, there were reports recently of WWE vs RAW events being plugged for house shows for after Wrestlemania. Whether that was an error or whether that relates to the storyline is questionable, but it is interesting. I think Shane would be a breath of fresh air as the new storyline authority figure but it’ll be interesting to see if it’d last long. Again, we don’t know much about Shane’s contract so it’s all up in the air.
The thing that does hurt the match is the motivation of the Undertaker. On this week’s episode of RAW, WWE had a great opportunity to have Undertaker explain his stake in this. However, Undertaker never really did. Therefore, the match suddenly becomes all about the McMahon family and Undertaker is there playing a supporting role which is really not what an Undertaker match should be like.
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Shane McMahon is expected to be on RAW next week, and both Shane and Undertaker are currently scheduled for RAW in two weeks. At least WWE does have four or five weeks to better develop the storyline and interest in the match. I just hope they do and I hope they can pull off something great in Texas.

#CancelWWENetwork Trends After Fastlane 2016 – Thoughts and Reactions

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NOTE: The following post was written before the Monday Night RAW after Fastlane.
How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with an initial post-Fastlane reaction to #CancelWWENetwork trending on Twitter following the main event of the show. For those of you that want to know what happened, Roman Reigns won the triple threat match to earn a WWE World title shot at Wrestlemania 32 against Triple H. This caused major upset among the WWE universe as the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag trended.
This is not the first time that the hashtag has trended on Twitter. If you’ll recall, last year’s Royal Rumble ended with Roman Reigns going over and the hashtag causing the subscription cancellation page for the network to crash. I don’t think the hashtag will cause a backlash of that degree in this case. It did cause WWE to change plans for the finish of Wrestlemania 31 before, but I don’t think it’ll make a bit of difference this year. As it turned out, the amount of people that actually went through with unsubscribing to the network was very small. On Twitter, people have been posting pictures of themselves actually cancelling their subscriptions. However, I don’t think the amount will actually make a lot of difference to WWE as the subscription numbers will rise for Wrestlemania anyway.
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I’ll admit that I haven’t watched Fastlane yet and I probably won’t until later on in the week. The thing about Fastlane was that it’s gotten very mixed reviews. On Twitter, I’ve seen a lot of negativity about the pay-per-view. However, I’ve spoken to a lot of fans that have said the pay-per-view was actually “solid” and that the main event was actually great until the finish.
Again, I haven’t seen the pay-per-view yet. The thing is if the pay-per-view was bad and then they went with the finish they did with Roman going over, I could understand the frustrations of the fans. They want to see a good product and if they don’t get it, they’re not going to let their frustrations build inside of them. I remember being furious at WWE for the 2015 Royal Rumble, mostly because of how it was booked. That’s one of those moments where I truly believe that the backlash received was justified because of how bad the show was. For Fastlane though, it seems that the backlash is mostly because of Roman going over and the finish which I think is a bit extreme.
If the main event was good, AJ vs Jericho was good and the rest of the pay-per-view was fine, to call the pay-per-view bad because of who won the main event seems a bit much. It seems a bit much because what exactly did you think was going to happen at Fastlane? Did anyone honestly think that Brock Lesnar was going to win last night? No. Brock Lesnar vs Triple H for the title at Mania was just not going to happen. There’s a lot of people who were probably thinking that Dean might win the match, but I didn’t think so. Brock Lesnar laid him out over and over again on RAW and SmackDown! and Dean dropped the Intercontinental title on RAW. Dean was nowhere near booked well enough for a Wrestlemania main-event push. The expectation was that Dean was going to be the one that got pinned or submitted to protect Roman and Brock, and that’s exactly what happened. Did anyone really think that the finish of the Fastlane main event WASN’T going to be Roman Reigns pinning Dean Ambrose to win the match?
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WWE being predictable is not my cup of tea. However, the company also has a clear vision of what they want the main event of Wrestlemania to look like. It was always going to be Roman Reigns vs Triple H. If they have a plan, it’s better that they stick with it and promote that match to the best of their ability rather than come up with a new plan at the last minute. If they put Dean in there with little personal animosity with Triple H beforehand, it wouldn’t make any sense when taking every other storyline in the last year into account. If you start it off with Roman Reigns, you might as well end it with Roman Reigns.
The issue last year with Roman is that the guy wasn’t over to the level of his push. This year, he is nearly over to that level. He is not in Stone Cold Steve Austin territory or anything crazy like that. However, he’s at least making a lot more progress than last year. That tells you something. It has not been that great for Roman since this year’s Royal Rumble but that’s the problem with booking Roman against two of the most popular wrestlers on the roster for a title match at Wrestlemania.
I’ve written about this for SLTD Wrestling a few times now. I was disapproving of the main event of Fastlane because of the reason mentioned earlier. I was disapproving of the main event of Triple H vs Roman Reigns for Wrestlemania because I didn’t think it should have been for the WWE World title. However, I at least admire WWE’s attempts of having a plan and sticking to it. It was better than throwing Dean Ambrose into the mix all of a sudden or throwing Brock Lesnar into the mix. I wish they had went a different way for a main event of Wrestlemania. For what they’re doing though, they’re not doing a too terrible job at promoting up the match.
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I just don’t see what the fans were expecting from Fastlane. They gave you a seemingly good show but it’s still deemed a failure over how the main event played out?
It’s an interesting situation. I don’t see any plans for Wrestlemania changing because of this but it is bad news for Roman in terms of how he’s perceived by the fans. It’ll be interesting to see how WWE will try to turn this around.

AJ Styles Vs Chris Jericho II On SmackDown!

 

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AJ Styles was a phenomenal signing for WWE. He was so phenomenal that WWE decided to put AJ on the main roster as soon as he arrived. Think of all the stars that have wrestled on NXT before appearing on the main roster. Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe and even Jushin Thunder Liger have all appeared on NXT instead of first debuting on the main roster. Imagine that you’ve got a star like AJ in your ranks.

You’ve got a man that was a major part of the development of TNA, which had been the second top wrestling promotion in the world for years. You’ve got a man that was the IWGP Champion just before he left. It’s the same title held by the likes of Brock Lesnar, who is considered a very special attraction for WWE. You’ve got a man with phenomenal skills in the ring and could give you a new legitimate star in your ranks. Less than a month into his career, AJ’s promising career in WWE has already been ruined in the exact same way that so many new stars could have been created. 50/50 booking.

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In case you missed SmackDown!, AJ Styles lost his first WWE match and he did it clean. He lost his big rematch against Chris Jericho to a simple codebreaker. How does this do either man ANY favours? How does it do Chris Jericho any favours? He’s not exactly going to have a big part in the future of WWE. He’s coming towards the end of his career. He should not be beating guys like AJ Styles so cleanly. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Jericho to lose to AJ again and have him keep losing until the end of the feud? Each time Jericho loses, he gets more and more annoyed with himself. It’s a simple feud which will elevate AJ whether he loses the final match or not. It doesn’t do too much damage to Jericho as he still would likely win the final match.

I really don’t understand the logic of having Jericho suddenly being booked as one of the best wrestlers in the company again. Jericho is 45 years old and has not won a championship since 2010. The idea that he is on par with the top stars in the company in 2016 is just absurd. He even lasted 50 minutes in the Royal Rumble match. How bad does that make the rest of the wrestlers look when Jericho is leaving them in the dust?

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I get that Chris Jericho has historically been a top star in WWE but you can’t be booking him so great right now. My idea earlier about having Jericho getting more and more angry at himself for not being able to put AJ away would actually be a great bit of character development for Jericho, as it would be Jericho questioning whether he could still hang with the best any more. You can’t go from having Jericho putting over guys like Fandango to beating AJ Styles in an instant as it just seems unbelievable. You’ve had Jericho putting over younger stars for years, so it’s going to be hard to convince the casual viewer that Jericho is as good as everyone else after not accomplishing a great deal in the last five years.

WWE’s sudden insistence on putting Jericho over as a top star in 2016 is just infuriating to me. It was like the Highlight Reel segment a month ago, when Jericho said that he, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar were the three favourites to win the Royal Rumble. Again, it makes everyone else look bad.

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I’ve been talking about Jericho for a while but the one that will likely ne most effected by this match is AJ. Now AJ Styles is in the same position as everyone else on the roster. He is beatable after just a few weeks. I’ve seen everyone get beaten eventually. There’s never been a professional wrestler that has never lost a match. That’s just how wrestling works. They beat Goldberg. They beat Brock Lesnar. They even beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. However, a new star should always be protected when he/she enters your company. AJ Styles, in particular, should be promoted as one of the best you have to offer. He should be one of the wrestlers that you should be protecting as he’s just arrived in an emphatic way. Now though, he’s been subjected to the same detrimental booking as everyone else on the roster.

WWE’s idea of “50/50 booking”, to make sure that they don’t upset any particular fan bases, is just going to kill any attempts at creating new stars. That will result in the fans only showing a great deal of interest in the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and John Cena. Therefore, the fans will only be invested in those characters.

In a time where stars need to be made, there has to be a lot more wrestlers exempt from this booking and AJ Styles is someone that should have been spared this. This was a poor decision by WWE to have him lose to Jericho and to have him lose this early into his WWE career.

SPOILER ALERT – Title Change To Take Place On SmackDown!

NOTE: The following post features major spoilers from this week’s episode of SmackDown! If you do not wish to be spoiled, click away now.

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When I heard that Kalisto had beaten Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship on RAW, I was all for it. I’ve talked in the past about how Kalisto can become a top star in WWE if pushed right and this was the biggest win of his career. Not even a year into his time on the main roster and he’s already a champion. Not even a year into his time on the main roster and he’s already won a title that was held by John Cena only a few months ago. This was a huge moment for Kalisto and I thought this was the start of something special. A day later though, it seems that this optimism has all been wasted.

What happened on the Tuesday tapings of SmackDown? How did WWE follow up on Kalisto’s big win? Well I can reveal that what happened was that Alberto Del Rio won back the United States Championship in a rematch. That moment on Monday Night RAW and all of that momentum built by Kalisto beforehand seemingly halted as his moment of glory lasted a grand total of 24 hours.

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I was actually planning an article for Kalisto after finding out he won the US title and this was going to be a pretty positive article until I found out what happened on SmackDown! One of the points I was going to make is that WWE should have been careful about when they were to have Kalisto drop the title. It had to be against the right person and he should have something to do afterwards that made him still relevant in the company.

What WWE did was have the title reign last ONE day (three if you’re starting the reign from the date the title change airs) and it was to the same guy that he had beaten before. Therefore, it makes Kalisto look like a fluke champion. What does that do for Kalisto going forward, unless he wins it back at the Royal Rumble?

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Even if the title does change hands again, that’d still be detrimental to the prestige of the title. The US title has been a title that’s rarely been hot-shotted really since Santino Marrella won the belt back in early 2012. He had a surprisingly long title reign. Cesaro had a long title reign. Dean Ambrose had a REALLY long title reign. Sheamus had a long title reign. Rusev had a long title reign. John Cena had a long title reign. That’s what made it stand out as a belt.

Since John Cena dropped the belt to Seth Rollins at Summerslam though, each title reign is making the belt seem less prestigious. OK, I understand that the US title change at Summerslam was really done to give Seth a strong bragging right and really make him seem like the top guy in the company. I understand that John Cena had to win it back in order to continue with his John Cena US Open Challenge to keep elevating the title. I understand the decision to have Cena drop the belt at Hell in a Cell as he was getting time off and what’s more, they put it on the right guy in Del Rio.

With these last two title changes, now we’re back to the title meaning less and less with every title change. Alberto Del Rio is nowhere near as over as he was when he first won the title. Kalisto himself is not even an established star yet. He could have been… but only if you had made his first title reign mean something.

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That first title reign is so important because it has to have mean for those that hold it. You could even claim that Christian’s two day World Heavyweight Championship reign had meaning as it was the catalyst of the biggest program of his life. That gives a character some value. What does Kalisto’s day long title reign accomplish?

It’s not like Kalisto is a 18 year long veteran that’s just won his first world title. This is an exciting new luchador that’s burst onto the scene big time and won his FIRST title in the company (not including his NXT Tag Title run). All the title loss does is make Kalisto out to be a one hit wonder. Christian will not go down as a one-hit wonder as he has a substantial career to his name. Kalisto doesn’t have that.

I feel that WWE’s thinking with these title changes was to make the TV viewers believe that anything can happen. After all, Roman Reigns winning the WWE World title on RAW a few weeks ago pulled one of the best RAW viewership numbers in the year. I would be OK with it if they didn’t do the two title changes in the same week. This is like when the WCW World title would change hands every week in 2000 leaving the viewers confused about who the top guy is.

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If anything, these tactics can prove to be detrimental for the TV ratings. The WCW ratings were at their worst when they were doing that. The viewership for this week’s RAW actually went down from last week, which tells you that the idea of frequent title changes didn’t really do much for them. Maybe the SmackDown! numbers will be up though as WWE have already announced the title change on WWE.com and more people might tune in to see it.

I think WWE will need to have a plan in place to justify these title changes. If not, then the future doesn’t look great for Kalisto.

John Cena Requires Shoulder Surgery, May Miss Wrestlemania 32

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How’s it going everybody? This week has been a huge week for wrestling as 2016 has started off with some heavy news. There’s been reports of wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling signing with the WWE, the Royal Rumble match will now be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE’s plans for Wrestlemania are set to change yet again as they’ve been struck with another huge blow.

John Cena has confirmed via Twitter that he will be undergoing shoulder surgery in Birmingham, Alabama and according to PWInsider, he could be sidelined with a rotator cuff injury which may see him out for 6-9 months.

It really is a huge blow for WWE going into Wrestlemania season and their plans for the event. I’ve talked a few times before about how there was no real indication about what the card was going to look like but I think it was pretty clear that Cena was going to be a big part of it so again, I bet things are getting nutty within WWE’s creative team.

When Seth Rollins went down with his injury last year, it forced WWE to change their plans for the next few months as Seth was obviously the champion and probably set for a big match himself at Mania. I think it was more of a concern with that incident as Seth was the champion and nobody was really ready to take the title from him.

Reports suggest that there were plans for Roman Reigns to beat Seth Rollins at Survivor Series anyway for the belt but Roman was still not over to the level of his push at the time. Now though, things are going much better for Reigns and he really is becoming a top star in his own right.

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However, I still think with Cena’s injury that all hands are on deck for the writers. The reason I say this is because if Roman Reigns goes down, who do they have to be the top babyface on the main roster after Wrestlemania season?

Think about it. How many wrestlers can you think of? Dean Ambrose would be one of those guys that they would get behind but only because they have no other choice. When they’ve pushed Ambrose in the past, it’s been more of a reluctant push for him. They’d put him in the main event scene but not a lot was done to protect him while he was there. Therefore when he got out of those title feuds, he was right back down the card.

Now let’s think about the other babyfaces. Dolph Ziggler? Neville? They could give the ball to them but it was not like either of them were protected this week on RAW. Ziggler lost to HEATH SLATER (albeit with interference) and Neville lost clean to Kevin Owens. Who could possibly take these two seriously as main eventers? In fact, the only babyfaces that won on Monday night were Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch and Titus O’Neil. It’s not like they’re going to give Titus a really big push towards the title either (even though I’d personally love to see that!) so as it stands, nobody is close to being over to a top level.

I think it’s probably accurate to say that while the roster is the most talented one probably in the history of the company, it could also be said that this could be the most underdeveloped roster of all time leading into a Wrestlemania in terms of star power. Wrestlemania 2000 was a bad one as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Undertaker were both out due to injuries but at least wrestling was hot around that time and they had The Rock becoming the top star while Austin was out. This time around, they’ve got no-one near to the level of overness that The Rock was on.

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It’s a sad state of affairs for WWE in terms of their roster and John Cena does not help with his injury. It’s a blow to WWE’s future plans. John Cena was advertised for the Royal Rumble event and was even on the poster for the show. The chances are that he was going to have a big part of it. I suspect that their plans for Cena would be for him to go up against Roman Reigns for the belt in the main event of Wrestlemania.

I know they did that tease after RAW a week or two ago but there were also reports of Cena going up against Undertaker. To be honest, I didn’t see WWE having anyone else on the main roster to go up against Roman so that’s why I thought it was going to be Cena. They need an active wrestler coming out of Wrestlemania as champion so I just dismissed the Taker rumours and thought that this was the year where Cena was either going to set up his match with Roman as the challenger or was going to get his 16th title reign and his third Rumble win to tie with Stone Cold Steve Austin for most Rumble wins.

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It’s very interesting from a business perspective about how much impact Cena will have. There’s no real precedent for Cena being out for an extremely long period of time. Cena’s rehab has been superhuman at times and he really has pulled off some insane injury recoveries in the past! I wouldn’t want to rush Cena back but WWE would probably want him back sooner if the pay-per-view buys, merchandise and TV numbers don’t do so well.

I think from a merchandise perspective, it’s going to be a hard few months. John Cena is obviously their top guy in terms of t-shirt sales and other merchandise. If he’s not around though, it’s not like they’ll be releasing more t-shirts for the foreseeable future as he won’t be around to wear them. I feel that they are going to take a huge hit in that department. John Cena could take on an non-wrestling/authority figure role while he’s injured I guess, in order to keep up his merchandise.

I don’t think there’s any real correlation between pay-per-view buys/WWE Network subscriptions and Cena’s effect on them because again, he’s not really been out for a really long period of time. I remember that John Cena was not booked for the TLC 2011 event at all and the buy-rates went up from the year before but again, that’s very hard to go off because that happened years ago. It’s very hard to say how big of an impact his absence will have.

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As far as TV ratings is concerned, it’s not like the ratings are plummeting right now. There was a time after Cena took his break last year that the ratings did drop to their lowest in nearly 20 years but the ratings have rose up in the past month or so, largely due to how well Reigns is getting over.

It’s all really up in the air about what’ll happen from a business stand-point. All I know is that the odds of Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble this year have really went up in my estimation. Roman’s doing so well and I think the company will be behind Roman more than ever now that Cena’s out. I think that’s a great thing but there’s not a lot of challengers out there that could really be considered as legitimate main event talent unless you were to dip into the part-timer pool.

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Even that is limited though. Undertaker seems very close to calling it a day and his health is really unpredictable at this point. We don’t know how well Sting is physically. It seems that Daniel Bryan will never be cleared to compete by the WWE doctores. The Rock is a movie star that probably wouldn’t have the time to be the champion again. The only one I can think off that would make sense is Brock Lesnar but I don’t think they’d be willing to pay him more often.

I think Roman vs. Brock for the title is really the way to go for Wrestlemania. Brock does have more of a proven track-record for pay-per-view buys and TV ratings than anyone on the main roster but again, it’s going to be a costly endeavour.

For those of you wondering, this will be the first Wrestlemania John Cena will miss since he debuted on the main roster in 2002. That’s incredible if you think about it because again, there’s no real precedent set for Cena’s effect on the buy-rates for Wrestlemania.

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It’ll be interesting to see how WWE reacts to this to say the least. Maybe they won’t need to panic depending on Roman but losing a top star is always a bad deal. When you lose a star like John Cena, it could end up being a catastrophic deal for them.

Tweet to @ArmbarExpress to share your thoughts or leave a comment to tell me what you think about this news and what do you think the Wrestlemania 32 card will look like with John Cena out of commission.