RETRO EXPRESS: WCW NITRO #21 (JANUARY 22ND 1996) – TWO TITLE CHANGES BUT HULK HOGAN IS STILL THE MAIN-EVENT

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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Attentions are turned to the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Ric Flair currently holds the gold but defended it last week against The Man Called Sting. The encounter ended when Lex Luger got himself involved in the match and “inadvertently” cost Sting the title so Ric Flair retained. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were both eyeing up the title as well, with the Macho Man set to challenge for the World Title on Episode #21. However, Hogan felt that he should have had the title shot instead with evidence in Macho Man LOSING clean to Lex Luger last week. Savage still wanted to take his shot but despite being at odds, Savage still helped Hogan beat Meng in the main-event of Nitro.

 

Date: January 22nd 1996

Brand: WCW

City: Las Vegas, Nevada

Rating: 2.7

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

The shows starts with Konnan who is, and I quote, the “Mexican Heavyweight Champion” interrupting the announcers. He cuts a promo on Psicosis, who he is facing at Clash of Champions. This was literally over in like 30 seconds. It also didn’t seem to matter considering Alundra Blayze did this exact same promo a month ago and this has so far led to nothing. I mean Konnan ends up becoming a main-stay in WCW but still… there’s little reason for me to care about the Mexican Heavyweight Champion being on Nitro.

 

Ric Flair (c) w/Jimmy Hart vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage w/a bunch of women for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship

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Believe it or not, this match OPENED WCW Nitro. This match was like Savage and Flair’s title match the week before Starrcade as it was very good brawling on the most part. I think, in its self, that was a big part of the problem that it felt like a repeat. However, I think the finish played off really well here but had its underlining problems which we’ll get to later.

There was a massive line of beautiful women that came down to the ring before Macho Man came down to the ring. Funnily enough, supposedly one these girls was Linda Hogan and another one was in fact Woman… a.k.a Nancy Sullivan at the time I believe. In fact, during the match, Flair went up to Woman and tried to woo her but Woman slapped him and Flair has a tremendous sell as he crashes down to the floor!

Before Savage can make his entrance, Mean Gene Okerlund and Hulk Hogan cuts him off! All I can think is of all the times this journalist and friend can go up to Savage to ask this question, they both decide to do it RIGHT BEFORE his WCW World title match? I found that kinda hilarious.

Hogan wanted to wish Savage luck tonight but still wanted the first shot at the title. Yeah, Hulk Hogan is bargaining and asking for the first shot at a championship that Randy Savage hasn’t even won yet! Savage tells his lady friends to get down to the squared circle and let’s strip Flair of his belt.

Before we get into the match itself, they revealed a lot of big returns coming at Clash of Champions. They revealed that Miss Elizabeth would be accompanying Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan down to the ring for their match with Ric Flair and the Giant at Clash of Champions and the Road Warriors would be returning for a tag team match.

It’s actually astonishing how many old stars WCW were plugging and promoting for this Clash of Champions show. For a company that were bragging and boasting about how they were bringing in fresh new talent and they were the hottest wrestling promotion in the world. The reason I find that funny is because for a promotion so determined to boast about how great they are, they come off as panicky with this “plucking” of stars. Not from WWF, but just from old stars of the past. But hell, why would they have any reason to panic?

Savage and Ric brawl on the outside and then Savage hits a clothesline with his good arm and goes to work. His injured arm was still taped up. Flair cuts him off with a back elbow. Flair goes to work on the bad arm. Both men brawl on the outside which leads to Savage doing a back drop on the floor. Bischoff said they’re gonna go to a commercial break to which Savage gets on the top rope for the double axe handle. Bischoff goes “oh don’t do it!” and then Savage just misses, hits the metal barricade and then they go to commercial!

WCW promotes WCW Magazine during this commercial.

Savages does the punches in the corner. This was just a whole bunch of brawling and Flair and Savage were really good in that department so not a lot of complaints. This was a very old school scrappy match like the Savage vs Flair match from a month ago. Savage battles for the backslide.

Flair locks on the Figure Four Leg Lock and Savage screams in agony as Flair grabs the ropes for leverage. Eventually the referee Randy Anderson does the 5 count after he catches Flair in the act. Randy literally drags Flair off of Savage and pushes him backwards and he was not putting up with Flair’s shenanigans! This was great stuff from Randy and from Flair of course.

Savage delivers two double axe handles and goes for the elbow drop but Jimmy Hart gets on the apron. Arn gets on the apron too and he tries to use the brass knuckles but accidentally hits Flair. Hogan knocks down Arn. Savage hits the elbow drop for the win as the fans go CRAZY for this finish, absolute crazy, as the title changes hands. Randy Savage is once again the WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

Hogan celebrates with Savage which was both poetic and really undermined Savage as the champion. There’s two reasons from a storyline point though why this title change was great.

  1. Arn has been cutting all of these promos in the last month about how keeping the title on Flair was the most important thing for the Four Horsemen and he buries the new guys for starting fires they don’t want. Yet in this scenario, HE’S the one responsible for costing Flair the title.
  2. At World War III, when Savage won the title, Hogan cut off his celebration and kicked off about the finish of that battle royal. Here, he’s all happy for his friend, despite feeling he should be the champion. He was happy for his friend Macho Man for winning the title and bringing home the gold to the good guys.

Then Savage got the mic and said “STOP THE MUSIC.” Mean Gene got in the ring. Savage said Hogan is celebrating like he won the title himself. Savage reminded Hogan that he won it and he is the WCW World Champion. Hogan congratulates Savage but reminds Savage that he Hulk Hogan helped him out, his best friend helped him out. Hogan said he’s coming for that belt. Hogan said he would do whatever it took for the Hulkamaniacs to him get to that position as fans boo Hogan! Savage said if Hogan beats him, Savage said he’s gonna shake his hands. Savage said when he beats Hogan, Hogan better shake his hands. They shook hands on it and celebrated after taking care of the world title business. Both of them were going OOOOOH YEEAAH and going crazy. A nice celebration.

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As good as a feel-good moment this title change was, I must discuss something. I’ve talked for years and years and years about hot-shotting titles. They are one of my most biggest wrestling pet-peeves, the lack of care taken to these titles that are supposed to be the cornerstone of these promotions. So many title changes which would further the title’s reputation. WWE does this ALL the time will literally all of their titles except for the top two titles. Every month, there’s a new United States Champion it seems or new RAW Tag Team Champions.

If this was WWE 2019, I’d be rightfully laying into them if they booked the world title like this. Here, for WCW 1996, I must do the same. When I started this series, I started from September 1995:

  1. Hulk Hogan was the original champion.
  2. The Giant “won” that title after winning a match via disqualification at Halloween Havoc in October because Jimmy Hart screwed with the contract.
  3. The title was vacated after this controversy on an episode of Nitro.
  4. Randy Savage won the title at World War III in a match where Hulk Hogan was never officially eliminated.
  5. Ric Flair won the title at Starrcade after shenanigans and interference from the Four Horsemen
  6. Randy Savage regained the title on this episode of Nitro after shenanigans and interference from Hulk Hogan, Arn Anderson and Jimmy Hart.

In every one of these episodes following Starrcade, they’ve promoted SuperBrawl and they try to promote how everybody wants to be the WCW Champion. If this title changes hands so frequently, nobody is gonna gain anything from holding this supposedly prestigious belt.

What did The Giant gain from winning this title? Other than having “the rub” of beating Hulk Hogan, did this get The Giant any more over? Not really. Did winning the title get Randy Savage more over, especially after 3 DQ finishes on Nitro episodes? Not really. Did winning the title get Ric Flair over? No. He’s at the exact same position as a main-eventer.

I understand sometimes backstage politics does influence all of this and, from what I’ve heard, this affected these title changes. Supposedly, Flair didn’t wanna drop the title clean to Hogan so they put the belt on Savage. However, none of that matters and has no real long term gain for anyone of these guys in the long term. Maybe you could argue that The Giant gained something long term but again, he’s still an afterthought after so many guys now.

Like, will this really do anything more for Savage for the time being? Not really. At least I don’t think so. I mean this hot-shot problem will eventually sort itself out shortly as spoiler… Hulk Hogan will win the WCW title. However, Hulk Hogan was already the biggest star on the show anyway. If the title is presented as anything less important than one particular individual, why should I care about who the champion is?

 

Dean Malenko vs Brian Pillman

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I hated not liking this match but at the very core, this was an OK cruiserweight match that really didn’t do anything for either of these men and it had a somewhat botched finish.

Dean Malenko tried early Texas Cloverleaf but Brian Pillman avoided it and escaped under the ropes. Pillman goes “I’m the shooter because I have a Full Metal Jacket”… that I loved considering the story of that film in particular with a guy going crazy while training for the army. Had some oddly fitting parallels to Pillman!

Pillman gets the heat early on but Malenko hits some big moves such as a brainbuster to get back into the match. Pillman hits a beautifully controlled tornado DDT but doesn’t go for the cover and gets cocky. Pillman chops away at Malenko but Malenko hits a Tiger Powerbomb for a 2 count. Pillman tries another Tornado DDT but Malenko pushes him off.

Malenko hits a great gutbuster and locks on the rolling kneebar but Pillman got the ropes. Malenko’s foot gets trapped in the ropes, Pillman covers Malenko and even with one of Malenko’s shoulders up, referee Nick Patrick still counts the pin. Patrick could easily see the foot but still counted the pin anyway.

 

“Harlem Heat” Booker T © and Stevie Ray © vs Sting and Lex Luger for the WCW Tag Team Championship

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I’m pretty sure we had a situation like this before but of all the people to start of this match, it was Stevie Ray and Lex Luger? Sting and Booker could have put some good work in there to bring life into the match from the get-go but we had to see Stevie Ray and Lex Luger squaring off in this tag team title match?

As expected, both men were horrible. Stevie has some horrible clobbering blows to which Luger demonstrates some horrible selling to. Luger does a double clothesline and soon makes the hot tag to Sting. Sting runs wild with Stinger Splashes. Sting locks on the Scorpion Death Lock but the ref stops Luger from getting into the ring for some reason as Booker does a scissors kick to break it up as the ref is distracted. This axe kick bonks Sting right in the head for the heat.

The heat was not tremendous in the slightest but the heels getting the heat on Sting while Luger waits for the hot tag would at least be better than getting the heat on Luger while Sting waits for the hot tag. Booker got in the ring and delivered an arm lock, putting pressure on the Stinger. Sting fires away and breaks free but Booker drops Sting with a top rope face smash. Luger breaks up the pin.

Sting eventually finds a second wind but while the ref talks to Stevie for some reason, Booker drops Sting with a jawbreaker on the rope.

Fans go “LETS GO STING” as Stevie goes a bloody nerve hold and he couldn’t even do this move and sell the fact that it hurt. He just got on top of him and put his hand on his shoulder in a lazily fashion.

Sting gets his arm up at three when the referee checks out Sting. In fact, Sting actually sold this as if he was gassed and out of it so kudos to Sting with how he sold and he was a good seller in his own right. Harlem Heat does a poorly coordinated double gourdbuster.

Booker misses the Harlem Hangover. Sting eventually makes the tag to Luger. This was rather confusing. Luger goes to work. Then Jimmy Hart got on the apron, gave something to Luger and ran out like at the speed of the Flash. It’s weird because Luger gets back on the apron and all of the sudden, Sting is back in the ring! He’s in there as if the hot tag never happened! I wonder if Jimmy missed his queue so maybe Luger was like, “I gotta make the tag” and do something while Jimmy goes down to the ring. Because Luger is weirdly on the apron again and then Sting tags him back in.

Luger got the tag, used a fistful of dollars, knocked out the Harlem Heat member to score the pin and win the tag team titles. I can’t remember who Luger KO’d but either way, a second title change on the same night.

Luger celebrates like crazy as Sting doesn’t know at first whats going on. Luger goes “we won! “but Sting then just goes “yeah alright” and kinda doesn’t question it as they’re the tag team champions as the two celebrates. Very similar to the TV title rematch the night after World War III, where Kimberley and Johnny B Badd does something very similar to this. Either way, Lex Luger and Sting are the new WCW Tag Team Champions.

 

Hulk Hogan vs WCW United States Champion One Man Gang

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So to recap, Luger and Sting are contenders to the WCW tag team titles. Randy Savage is a contender to the WCW title. However, Hulk Hogan is not considered a title contender for the WCW US Championship despite having a match with him? Odd.

Hogan and One Man Gang start the match basically ballroom dancing around the ring with a lock up. It really didn’t look aggressive in the slightest. Hogan fights dirty in this match with pokes in the eye and biting at the One Man Gang. Hogan no sells a big body splash from the One Man Gang.

Hogan does three Irish Whips, big boots which doesn’t knock him down, slams him like he did with Andre and nobody cared, Hogan then did a leg drop and won. Basically that was the match.

I will say that Hogan decided on his own to test One Man Gang’s speed during this match, with Irish Whip after Irish Whip and One Man Gang ran and ran and by the end of the match he was goosed! I don’t know if Hogan was on a quest to expose the One Man Gang but he looks miles behind Hogan in terms of fitness which is a pretty bad thing!

Zodiac, Chris Benoit, Arn Anderson, Randy Savage, Pillman all come out. They all brawl. Zodiac backs away The Giant yet again as I guess Flair is trying to stop the Horsemen while Pillman tries to egg The Giant on.

Hogan says afterwards he’s gonna do everything he can to get to that #1 contender spot. Hogan talks about the secret weapon again which I guess was KEVIN GREENE who will also be there at Clash of Champions. I guess that’s who they were referencing to a few weeks ago when they talked about the secret weapon. Hogan talks about Miss Elizabeth. Savage simply said that Giant and Ric Flair were MEAT! I loved Hogan’s and Savage’s facial expressions as they both cut promos. I just love the larger than life aspects of these characters where they were just allowed to go absolute bonkers with their promos!

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There were moments I liked about this show but the whole show in general was just uneventful to me. Obviously, the two title changes were newsworthy! But I feel it would have felt more so if they weren’t so seemingly unimportant with Hulk Hogan’s position on the card. Luger and Sting winning the tag titles obviously advances that story but Hulk Hogan beating One Man Gang in a random match just seemed anti-climatic when Savage winning the title would be more climatic. Even if Sting and Luger won the titles as the main-event, the fans would go off the air wondering what is Sting going to think after that finish.

This show just didn’t do it for me this week. I will not be watching Clash of Champions so the next Nitro review will be for the show after Clash of Champions. If enough people do wish for me to review Clash of Champions I will consider it. Really the only noteworthy match for that show will be Hogan and Savage vs Flair and Giant. Looking at that card for that show, it doesn’t look like a show I’ll regret missing.

I will see you all again with the review of episode #22 of WCW Monday Nitro!

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

 

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How Detrimental To WWE Television Is Stephanie McMahon?

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The billion dollar princess with the trillion dollar body. One of the principle owners of WWE. Whatever title she goes by, Stephanie McMahon will always forever be a person of utmost importance in WWE. She’s a McMahon after all, being the only daughter of the one running the ship in the WWE. Why wouldn’t Stephanie’s “character” be as protected as it is? If you were running the WWE and one of your family members was interested in an on-screen role on the show, wouldn’t you do all you could to protect their image? It makes sense for the powers-that-be to portray Stephanie as a person of power. However, does Stephanie’s role as an authority figure do more harm than good to the product?

One of the biggest factors to take into account is the fact that WWE is currently a PG product… most of the time. There are limitations to what the WWE can pull off in terms of beatings and types of revenge dished out by their talent. It’s not like the top babyfaces of the WWE could just casually attack the women authority figures of WWE in response to a ruling that they didn’t like. Roman Reigns’ spear to Stephanie at WrestleMania 32 was one of the rare exceptions to this, in an instance where Stephanie was inadvertently attacked. People don’t like it when men attack women, especially when the men are supposed to be heroes that send out good messages. However, people also usually don’t like it when an authority figure can abuse their power and bully around the good guys who are supposed to stand up for themselves

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When dealing with a heel Stephanie McMahon, options are limited. If this was a heel Mr McMahon or Shane McMahon, who are capable of taking hits from men with no real issues in terms of their PG product, it’s fairly simple for the knight in shining armour to get their revenge. However, the good guys of WWE are limited when it comes to Stephanie. The best way that the good guys can get revenge is through a verbal “beatdown” towards Stephanie. Then again, this also has its setbacks. First and foremost, a lot of the fans that show up to RAW paid their money to see people settle their differences through combat. If they wanted a debate, either tune into a political show or watch Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday.

Secondly, not everyone on the roster has the ability to throw down on the microphone. Roman Reigns is better at hurling punches than hurling insults. Putting these people up against Stephanie, only to have them get verbally emasculated, leaves a severe mark on the credibility on the babyface hero. Seeing the John Cenas and Roman Reigns’ of this world not being able to do anything cool in response to Stephanie making them feel inferior doesn’t spring you with confidence.

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Not to mention that even the women of WWE are not in a position to touch Stephanie either. These girls can theoretically beat up the boss and it would come off as much better than if a man were to do it. Despite this, these women are prevented from doing so by their lack of relevancy. It’s not like Natalya or Paige are over enough at the moment to be able to do a program with her. You can make arguments for the likes of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch but the power lies with the McMahons, according to the storyline. Since these McMahons are running the show, they’ll be a big part of it. Heck, Shane and Stephanie were a big part of the Payback main event between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns. The point is that the likes of Stephanie and Shane are already considered as main event talent. With the exception of a few half-hearted “main event” segments on RAW, the women haven’t come even close to producing a true main event female star. The only women, since the Authority angle started, that have been able to physically attack Stephanie are Brie Bella (who was part of a “big” main event program with Stephanie, due to her affiliation with Daniel Bryan), Vickie Guerrero (who was leaving the company anyway) and Ronda Rousey (who is not even employed with the WWE).

There is actually one woman that is being promoted and presented as a main eventer by WWE, in the hopes of finally achieving true relevancy for the women’s division. That woman is Charlotte, which brings me to my next point. Since it’s pretty obvious that a heel Stephanie does more harm than good, the next best solution is to turn her into a babyface. It’s very difficult to say what Stephanie is now. One week, she is humiliating the babyface Teddy Long. On the next week, she’s standing up to the heel Charlotte. The chances are that Stephanie probably will slowly transform into a full-blown babyface and I think that it’s probably going to be Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam. I’ve predicted this before. Now the verbal tirade that Stephanie gave to Charlotte on RAW a few weeeks ago actually comes off better than if she would have done it to Roman Reigns.

Now that Stephanie’s a babyface, her speaking out about it is presented as a positive thing. Charlotte had humiliated Ric Flair and so Stephanie completely tore into Charlotte. I’m sure that there’s a lot of people that’ll argue that the whole “eye for an eye” thing is not a 100% babyface move. However, at least she’s pointing out that what Charlotte said was a disgraceful thing.

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I’m not a fan of the idea of this Charlotte/Stephanie angle in the slightest. I’m not a fan of the idea of Stephanie McMahon possibly winning the WWE Women’s Championship. However, the WWE had already done a great job in killing the momentum of the women’s division anyway. There’s literally nobody that is in a position to challenge Charlotte, other than Stephanie and Sasha Banks (who has only worked house shows and Main Events since April). Therefore, I don’t think this feud is detrimental to product as the division is already in a bad shape. If the women’s division after WrestleMania stayed exactly like it had from the Royal Rumble until WrestleMania 32, I’d argue that it would be detrimental. Since the WWE did dig its own grave with the Charlotte/Natalya program and all the other bad aspects of women’s wrestling in WWE in the last few months, I’m really not as concerned as I should be.

However, at least what Stephanie’s doing is all directed at the heels. If the heel does a bad thing and Stephanie responds, it suddenly has a much less detrimental effect. If the heel then followed that up by attacking Stephanie, then that gives the heel more heat as he or she just attacked somebody that’s not even an active wrestler. A lot of the fans would argue that it would still make the male heels feel emasculated for Stephanie to verbally attack them, but I still think it wouldn’t have been as bad as if it were a babyface being emasculated.

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Personally, I don’t think any of your stars should be emasculated at all as you should be doing your best to present your stars as superstars. They should all be presented as positively and as star-like as possible. However, at least when Stephanie does it to a heel, it’s presented as a good thing and it’s the babyface that’s sending the positive message. Whether the message is women standing up to men or standing up for the defenseless, Stephanie can send that message better as a babyface.

 

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.

How I Would Book… Batista vs Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker

Previously on How I Would Book, we’ve covered a dream match that would truly be a money-maker for WWE if it were to ever go down. We discussed the possibility of “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar battling “The Animal” Batista. However, let’s think bigger. A straight up one on one match would be a lot of fun but as the old saying goes, the more the merrier. Let’s add someone else into the mix and make it a triple threat match. But who? Who could join these two monsters for a triple threat clash of titans? I believe the man that could join Batista and Brock is someone that has had great matches with both men in the past. It’s someone that would fit right in and help deliver a tremendous triple threat bout which could take things even further. How would I book Batista vs Brock Lesnar…. vs the Undertaker?

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The Beast, The Animal and The Deadman. Those three big men could provide a monsters battle of epic proportions. We know from Summerslam 2015 that Brock and Undertaker can have incredible matches together. Undertaker has also had a great feud with Batista in the past, which featured some great matches. With Batista and Brock Lesnar never squaring off before in a big match situation, this triple threat has the ingredients for a quality main event. Let’s see how we’d book…

Well, the first step towards getting this triple threat together would be to slightly change the finish to the Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. As much as this would be a sour way for the Lesnar/Taker feud to end, Brock would because of interference by the returning Batista who targets the Undertaker. However, Brock would be displeased at Batista “stealing his kill” and would F5 Brock for good measure.

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Undertaker is promoted for Survivor Series, so let’s put that to our advantage. It’s likely that Brock will not be used for the event but Batista should be fair game. We’re going off assumptions here but Batista might be able to come back full-time for a few months like he did in 2014. If that’s the case, then we can use him a lot more than Taker and Brock. Therefore, Batista will go up against the Undertaker in our Survivor Series main event. The match ends with a case of deja vu. The finish is caused by interference as Brock F5s Batista when the ref is down. Undertaker picks up the scraps and hits the Tombstone for the win.

Don’t worry. Batista will get a big win himself during this feud and he won’t be brought back just to lose all of his matches. He goes up against Brock at TLC in a tables match. There’s no interference in this match. Batista and Brock have a straight up match. The finish would be Brock locking on the Kimura on the ring apron with a table on the outside. This is a standing Kimura with Brock’s back turned against the table. Batista goes for a low blow to force Brock to let go of the hold for a while. Brock suddenly locks the Kimura in again and repeatedly headbuts him while he does it. Batista ends up tapping but then goes low again and the two of them fall through the table on the outside with Batista falling on top. Batista wins the match but it’s a very tainted victory.

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The Authority eventually settles the issues with Brock and Batista, with one more match set for the Royal Rumble. To make things interesting, it will also include the man Batista initially targeted… the Undertaker. A triple threat match is made with the winner getting a shot at the WWE World title at WWE Fast Lane. With Batista wanting the title shot he earned two years ago and Brock being robbed out of the title at Battleground, the stipulation does make a lot of sense. In this match, Brock goes over by pinning the Undertaker to earn his title shot and win this feud.

That about does it for this edition. I know it’s a bit short but there’s not a lot that needs to be said to get these three monsters to battle it out. I for one would love to see it go down.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

How I Would Book… Roman Reigns vs John Cena

John Cena – the name and face of WWE. He’s waived the company flag as their franchise player for ten years with many stars coming through the ranks to try and overtake the Cenation leader. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Ryback have all been pushed at one time to rival and potential surpass Cena in popularity but here Cena still stands as the face of the company even in 2015. Many fans have wanted change at the top of the food chain for a while and there’s a great opportunity at the moment for WWE to make their next top guy to knock Cena off the top. However, it’s not going to happen overnight. The first step towards creating a “new John Cena” is to have Cena “pass the torch” to someone that shouldn’t really start of as a good guy to begin with. Roman Reigns could very well be the next John Cena but in order to do that, he needs to beat the man himself and do it as a heel. Here’s how I would book Roman Reigns vs John Cena…

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If Roman Reigns is to truly become the next top guy in WWE, beating Cena is the best way to do it. Every time a new top guy is made, there’s always that “glass ceiling” that prevents them from being elevated. For the likes of Rusev, Bray Wyatt, Ryback and Kevin Owens, that glass ceiling was John Cena. However, those that have beaten Cena like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan in big match situations have become stars in their own right. They’ve never become the face of the company but they’ve been turned into one of the true elite in the WWE. Roman Reigns could finally break into that elite with a big win over Cena.

I know what you’re thinking. Bryan and Punk both beat Cena as babyfaces. The likes of Bray Wyatt and Kevin Owens were heels and pressure to keep the biggest face of the company strong has lead to hardly any villains winning a feud with “Big Match John.” The likelihood of heels becoming stars by beating Cena doesn’t seem like a strong solution. Even after beating Cena at Summerslam, Seth Rollins is currently struggling after losing the US title back to Cena at Night Of Champions.

I don’t want this to seem like a knock on John Cena because it really isn’t. If anything, his position at the moment could help someone like Roman Reigns to get over. Roman turning heel is a risky move but worth it as he’s really got nothing else to lose. Roman was pushed as such a babyface at the start of the year but was seemingly rejected even more than Cena. If he turns heel, then it’s a great opportunity for Reigns to become the badass that got him over in the first place with the Shield. In a recent piece for SLTD Wrestling, I said:

“The Roman Reigns that became such a big hit barely spoke. The talking was mostly left to Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins when he was apart of the Shield. Roman let his fists do the talking and acted like a total badass. The fans didn’t like Roman Reigns because of his mic skills. They liked him because they liked to see him beat people up. Let him do just that.

That’s a crucial role for Roman to play. He needs to be a badass heel in order to counter the ultimate face. This would be Superman vs Doomsday. Two powerhouses with completely different agendas. Once you have that, you’re good to go.

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I think one of the biggest aspects of being a heel is having something to brag about and credibility. Right now, there’s a great opportunity to get that credibility as a bad guy. Firstly, he beats Bray Wyatt at Hell in a Cell. Then he sets his sights on Cena.

If the reports of Cena being out for two months are true, then the next step for Roman is easy. On the RAW after Hell in a Cell, US Champion John Cena comes out (who would have won his US title match the night before). He comes out and makes his challenge which Roman accepts. As Lillian Garcia is doing the introductions, Roman attacks Cena before the match even starts. This is not like a regular beatdown. Roman DESTROYS Cena. He batters him with the steel steps, he smacks him with chairs and does the spear through the announce table that he did to Bray Wyatt. As Roman walks up the ramp, Cena crawls back to his feet. In a fit of rage, Roman gets him back in the ring and just beats the crap out of him. He doesn’t do any special moves or anything. He just punches him. One after another after another until Cena is KO’d. He spits on Cena’s face and leaves.

This sidelines Cena for the few months that he’s away. The US title would also be vacated. Meanwhile, Roman is running through the roster and just beating the crap out of everyone. Dean Ambrose then confronts Roman about his new attitude. He doesn’t mind Roman getting a little crazy and just wants Roman to get take out all of the anger built inside against Dean at Survivor Series. Roman accepts and punches Dean in the mouth. Dean laughs about it and mouths that “this will be fun, my brother.” The two have their match at Survivor Series. It’s a nice little match which eventually spills onto the entrance ramp. The ref stops his count briefly just to tell Reigns and Ambrose to get back into the ring. Eventually, Roman spears Dean through the stage screen leaving Dean out. Roman rolls into the ring, grabs the mic and yells “Is that what you wanted Dean?” The doctors are trying to help Dean but he suddenly struggles down to the ring. Roman batters Dean in the ring and hits the spear but Dean kicks out. He hits another spear but Dean kicks out. This infuriates Roman to the point where he is just punching Ambrose over and over like he did with Cena. Eventually, the ref calls for the bell and awards the match to Roman via knock out. It features shades of the Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens match in February which ended in similar fashion. However, it does work well for Roman’s character as he is shown to be a legitimate badass.

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The Authority would be impressed with Roman’s new-found aggression and would reward him with a WWE World title opportunity at TLC in a TLC match. The champion Seth Rollins would be annoyed but Dean would want to be in the match as well. The Authority give him a rematch with Roman on RAW. If Dean wins, he’s added to the title match. Seth Rollins is at ringside. The ref calls for the match to start but Roman instantly kicks Dean in the nuts to be disqualified. He lays onto Dean until Seth pulls him off. Seth is upset that Roman has just made the TLC main event a triple threat. Roman doesn’t care but Seth slaps him. Roman then goes after Seth. Roman hits both Dean and Seth with spears. He then notices the chair Seth was sitting on at ringside. He grabs it and we then get a case of deja vu. Dean and Seth are down as Roman smacks them both with chair shots over and over. If you’ll recall, Seth did the exact same thing to Dean and Roman when he left the Shield and joined the Authority. This sets things up nicely for TLC.

This match would probably be a great match with the three of them knowing each other so well. I would have Roman take out Dean with a spear into a table or something cool like that. Roman would be closing in on a victory but then we hear the music of John Cena. Cena returns to battle Roman on top of the ladder. This would be quite the bump but Cena AAs Roman off the top of the ladder onto a table similarly to what he did to Edge at Unforgiven 2006. Seth takes advantage to retain the title.

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Cena would then declare himself in the 2016 Royal Rumble and vowed to become only the second man to win the match three times (with Stone Cold Steve Austin being the first). Roman would interrupt and announced that “he’s in” and said that he would win the Rumble match for a second year in a row whether Cena or any of the fans liked it or not. He also vowed to eliminate Cena from the Rumble himself. Cena and Roman come out near the end of the rumble match and they both make it to the final six. Cena eliminates Roman by side-stepping his spear and clotheslining him over the top rope. However, Cena would get shockingly eliminated when his back was turned. Cena and Roman stare at each other and begin to fight on the outside. The refs come out to try and stop it but Cena and Roman take them out. Cena pushes the last ref away but Roman takes advantage to spear him. Roman looks like he’s about to spear Cena off the stage but Cena counters it into the AA on the entrance ramp. Both men are out and helped to the back to end their night.

John Cena comes out the next night on RAW and calls out Roman Reigns for a match. Triple H interrupts, saying that a match between Reigns and Cena needs to be promoted properly. He’s willing to give John Cena his match with Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania on one condition, Cena must win every match he wrestles from now until Mania. If he is to lose just one of his matches, Cena will miss out on Wrestlemania 32 all together this year. John Cena’s US Open Challenge has been such a success since Cena introduced it as it’s given many other wrestlers a chance to share the spotlight. Considering that a lot of wrestlers on the active roster might miss out on a big match at Wrestlemania anyway, being reduced to probably being in the Andre The Giant battle royal, this is their chance to make a name for themselves before Wrestlemania to go into the event looking good.

Meanwhile, Roman’s schedule is a lot lighter than Cena. He doesn’t have to do anything. Triple H tells Roman that if Cena loses before Mania, he does have a match for Roman to be in. If Cena loses then Roman would be added to the main event of Wrestlemania instead. Cena would vow to prevent Roman from sliding into a title match he really doesn’t deserve. John would face the New Day in a three man gauntlet at Fastlane. He beats Xaiver and Kofi but is losing to Big E. Big E is about to hit the Big Ending when Roman comes out. He stares at Big E and then spears Cena, causing Cena to win by disqualification. He batters Cena and spears him through the barricade to properly hurt him.

I know what you’re thinking. Why would Roman help Cena win by getting the New Day disqualified? If Cena wins, then Roman can’t get his title match right? However, Roman is preparing for Cena himself for Wresltemania too. If Roman’s attacks leads to Cena losing, then he gets his title shot. If Cena is hurt going into Wrestlemania, then it’s an easy day at the office for Roman. It’d be foolish for Roman to not prepare for Cena should he win all of his matches. If he doesn’t, then it’s a win-win situation for Roman anyway.

Eventually, Cena does win all of his matches leading into the event. Cena gets his hands on Reigns on the RAW before Wrestlemania giving him two attitude adjustments through the announce tables to hurt Roman. I would at least have Cena attack Roman once. Cena can’t be totally dominated by Roman in the feud because this match is huge for the Samoan. Cena and Reigns both have to look really strong heading into this match.

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At Wrestlemania, Roman and Cena have their match. The match initially starts with Cena hitting Roman with the AA immediately, but Roman kicks out at one! Cena is stunned as Roman just gets up and laughs at Cena. The match goes on and Roman then starts to dominate. The matches Cena’s had before this are really starting to effect him as he looks tired around seven minutes into the match. Roman is just hammering away. Things get worse for John as Roman spears him into the steel steps on the outside. Cena makes it back into the ring but is feeling his ribs for the rest of the match. Roman eventually hits a spear in the ring but doesn’t cover him. He stands over him and poses. Roman shouts “Who’s the man?” but then falls down as Cena locks on the STF. Roman is in the hold for nearly two or three minutes but somehow gets the ropes. However, Cena is spent after what’s happened to him in the match. That STF took a lot of Cena. Roman gets angry and starts slapping Cena repeatedly. Roman goes for the Superman Punch but Cena counters it into an AA but Roman kicks out. Cena then starts to make his comeback but is exhausted. Cena goes for the five knuckle shuffle but as Cena is coming off the rope, Roman hits the superman punch. Cena stays up as Roman hits another Superman punch and a spear to get the clean victory over Cena.

And that’s how I would book it. In fact, I think would be one of my strongest ideas of how to turn Roman Reigns heel. Roman needs to look like a badass and I think this feud with Cena has helped turn him into a legitimate badass heel that was not all about taking cowardly wins. Him having to work a lighter schedule then Cena leading into their match is heelish but it’s not done in such a way that makes Roman look bad. As long as he won the match at Mania, all of this would have been worth it. I think a star could be made with this feud and his name… is not John Cena. It’s in fact Roman Reigns and you can believe that.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

Wrestling Flashback – The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels & Triple H Wrestlemania Feud

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The Undertaker’s streak. Many tried to beat it. Monsters like Mark Henry, King Kong Bundy and Giant Gonzalez have tried to crush the Dead Man. They failed. Some have put up championships against the Undertaker, hoping to be known as the great champion that ended the Undertaker’s streak. Batista, Edge and Psycho Sid all put their titles on the line against Undertaker, only to lose those belts they hold dear and become part of the streak. Men like CM Punk had tried to use head games as a means to break the streak, but could not get the job done. Many tried. One succeeded. However, none of the matches came close to the excitement and story-telling than Undertaker’s streak of matches against Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

It was not like none of matches before his encounters with Shawn and Triple H, that spanned from Wrestlemania 25 to Wrestlemania 28, were any good. There were some beauties that the Undertaker took part in against the likes of Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, Ric Flair and even Triple H at Wrestlemania 17. However, none of them stole the show quite like the matches in the saga between Taker, Michaels and Triple H.

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These matches were usually a thing of beauty but the story-telling of these matches were even more impressive. At Wrestlemania 25, Shawn Michaels was the first man to step up. With Shawn Michaels being almost an exclusive to the RAW brand and the Undertaker being almost exclusive to SmackDown!, these two legends never seemed to collide during the brand split of WWE. However, when the two of them would battle in the Royal Rumble, it was usually exceptional. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels produced possibly the best finish to a Royal Rumble match in 2007. While Undertaker won that particular encounter, Shawn returned the favour by eliminating Undertaker at the 2008 Royal Rumble. At Wrestlemania 25, we got to see Shawn and Undertaker go at it for the first time since 1998… in a match that put an end to Shawn’s career for four years.

Shawn was confident though, particular bragging pre-match about how the Undertaker had never beaten him. The two clashed and it was quite possibly the best Wrestlemania match we’ll ever see in our life time. These men kicked out of everything they could throw at each other. Shawn even kicked out of the Undertaker’s tombstone piledriver which caused Jim Ross to, and I quote, “have an out-of-body experience.” In the end, Undertaker prevailed in what was the match of the night by a HUGE margin. And they weren’t finished there…

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Both Undertaker and Shawn Michaels would take a hiatus from the WWE following Wrestlemania, returning in August 2009. Shawn had re-united DX and battled Legacy and Jeri-Show en route to winning the Unified WWE Tag Team titles while Undertaker dominated the SmackDown! roster en route to winning the World Heavyweight Championship. At the 2009 Slammys, Michaels and Taker won the Slammy for Match of the Year. While accepting the award, Michaels issued a challenge to the Undertaker for a rematch at Wrestlemania 26. Undertaker declined, so Michaels would try to force the issue at the 2010 Royal Rumble. If Michaels won the match, he could challenge for Undertaker’s World title and more importantly… the streak. Sadly, Shawn was not able to win the rumble match. Shawn’s life continued to deteriorate, as he was unable to accept his loss to the Undertaker the year before. Michaels’ obsession would lead to Elimination Chamber, where he cost Undertaker the World title. The next night on RAW, Michaels goaded Taker into a rematch claiming that Taker wanted revenge. Taker accepted with one condition… if Shawn lost, his career would be over. Michaels stated that if he couldn’t be Undertaker, he’d have no career and he accepted the stipulation.

While this match was not at the level of their match at Wrestlemania 25, this was still great. It was the main event of the show and rightfully so. Shawn kicked out of everything the Undertaker had and refused to go down. Michaels slapped Undertaker to get him to fight and Undertaker went into a fury. Taker gave Michaels one final tombstone and that was that…. Shawn Michaels’ career was over.

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Having beaten Shawn Michaels in two incredible Wrestlemania matches in a row, the question was this… what could WWE possibly do to follow up two of the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history? Their solution was to put Undertaker up against the “Cerebral Assassin” Triple H at Wrestlemania 27…

Undertaker and Triple H had faced each other at Wrestlemania before but this one was very special and necessary for a few reasons…

  1. Their match at Wrestlemania 27 would be a rematch from their previous Wrestlemania 17 showdown ten years before… which Undertaker won.
  2. It’d make sense for Triple H to try and avenge his best friend Shawn Michaels, who had his career ended by the Undertaker.
  3. Triple H and Undertaker, like Shawn and Taker, have both been near-exclusives to the RAW and SmackDown! brands respectively. Therefore, they’ve not really had any big programs together for almost a decade. This was unique.

The first match was made No Holds Barred match. This helped appeal to the intensity of both these characters. These men could go all out and they did. It was hard-hitting and it just helped Taker and HHH thrive. This was not like the wrestling masterpiece that the Michaels/Taker matches were. This was a straight up battle. It suited both men well.

This match was also unique in it’s layout. The story of the match was last outlaw of WWE refusing to give up as Triple H was wanting to put him away. It was not like Undertaker and Triple H just had a great back-and-forth match. It was initially, but then Triple H just simply battered Undertaker. He battered him with chairs, pedigrees and even a TOMBSTONE of his own! However, Undertaker still refused to give. Triple H wanted to end things with his trusty sledgehammer, but Undertaker locked on Hells Gate to make Triple H tap and escape with the streak intact. However, Undertaker ended up being carried out on a stretcher. Undertaker won, but it hardly seemed like a victory. This match was the brightest spark during a pretty lame Wrestlemania 27. The ending was also the perfect set-up for a rematch…

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While Undertaker had spent the year on the sidelines, Triple H had been through a fair amount of character development. Following Money In The Bank 2011, Triple H would take the reins in WWE as the COO. He had traded in his wrestling gear for a suit as he started doing more paperwork than pedigrees. On an episode of RAW in January 2012, Triple H was about to fire Interim GM John Laurinaitis. As he was doing it though, we heard that all too familiar gong. Undertaker returned, hinting towards the rematch. However, Triple H seemed to take a pass on one final match.

Despite pressure from Undertaker and even Shawn Michaels, Triple H refused to face Taker as he didn’t want to destroy the “brand” of the streak that helped made Wrestlemania such a success. It was great that the build up to this match was also able to tie-in to Triple H’s role as COO as well. Undertaker was adamant about erasing the memory of Triple H forcing Taker onto a stretcher the year before and offered Triple H one more shot at immortality. Undertaker went as far as to call HHH a coward and claim Shawn was always better than him, which pushed HHH over the edge. Triple H accepted on one condition… Hell in a Cell.

This was an appropriate finish to this four year storyline. As pointed out, Taker and HHH had a lot of history inside the cell. A standard match might have not had as much impact. The Cell made more sense from a storyline standpoint. Shawn Michaels was also added to the match as he had the streak in the palm of his hand. The stage is set. At Wrestlemania 28, Taker beat Triple H in the cell to take the streak to 20-0 and end the era which I believe was simply this four year storyline. While a lot of people might not have gotten the “End of an Era” billing of the match, I think it was just this era of Wrestlemania matches which was centred around Michaels, Taker and HHH. Jim Ross was also brought into to commentate the match and did a great job.

Now, I’m going to say something which will not be a popular opinion… I was left disappointed by this match. This was by no means a terrible match. It was not as great as their match at Wrestlemania 27 but it was still a great match. However, there were a few things about it that really hurt the match in my opinion.

The first issue I had with it was Shawn Michaels as the special referee. The reason Shawn gets a bit of criticism is because it wasn’t really made clear what his motivation was leading into this match. It was kind of hinted on television that he was going to screw Undertaker. However, the storyline in the match became about whether Michaels would allow his friend to do what Michaels himself was unable to do or if he would help his friend end the streak of the man that had ended Michaels’ career. Therefore, everything Shawn was doing as the referee was just dead confusing to me. He teased calling for the bell, then he jumped in when Triple H was beating Undertaker with the chair and then he tried to screw Taker himself with the super kick. By the way, that Super Kick/Pedigree spot was the highlight of the night.

The point is, Michaels’ actions just came off as so confusing that it looked for all the world like he was Darth Vader struggling to decide between saving Luke or siding with the Emperor but it was done in such a complicated matter that it took way from his role as referee. There was also the use of the Hell in a Cell itself. Now let me just make clear that I did not expect HHH and Taker to do something crazy like going to the top of the cell. However, HHH said in a promo leading into the match that he and Taker should “go all the way.” To me, it didn’t look like they “went all the way.” It looked like they just did a repeat of the match from the year before, added Shawn Michaels and a Cell. They rarely ever used the cell. I would have preferred it if they just left it to being a singles match with Shawn as the referee. At least then, the cell wouldn’t have limited Triple H and Undertaker.

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With that being said though, this was still a great match. The hug at the end was great and it was a great way for this saga to end.

How I Would Book… The End Of The Streak – The Verdict [Final Part]

Part One – Introduction

Part Two – John Cena

Part Three – CM Punk

Part Four – Randy Orton

Part Five – Bray Wyatt

So. Here it is… the verdict.

Who should have been the one to end the Undertaker’s Undefeated Streak? We’ve talked about four specific candidates that could have possibly ended the streak. We could have mentioned so many others like Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels and Kane. But we’ve got four candidates that we’ve given a thorough examination. We’ve talked about the reasons for and against, but now we must decide once and for all. Who REALLY should have broken the Undertaker’s streak?

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This is probably one of the hardest things to book in professional wrestling. The idea of having Undertaker’s streak end at all is hard to imagine. You have to pick the one individual that is unique enough that truly needed to beat the streak in order to become a true legend. You could have picked anyone to end that streak as a means to get them over. But a unique character had to have been chosen to be the one that ended that streak. They have to have the physical credentials, natural ability or the uniqueness factor in order to be considered for the role of conqueror. It also relies heavily on the timing. It’s a tough call either way you slice it. But out of the four candidates we talked about, who was the best choice?

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John Cena is the franchise of the WWE, making him one of the front runners for breaking the Undertaker’s streak. Others had talked about using the streak as a means to turn him heel. However, to throw away the streak to fulfill a heel turn for Cena is a very VERY risky endeavor. Even if you decide to turn him face again months later, what would be the point of ending the streak in the first place? Cena beating Undertaker as his usual self would also be very difficult to do, considering a lot of his OWN fans might actually despise him for taking away something else they love too.

CM Punk would have had a tremendous opportunity to break the streak if he had went into Wrestlemania 29 as the WWE Champion to put the title on the line against the Undertaker’s streak. Ending the streak this way would be an incredible way to immortalize Punk. It also doesn’t take away anything from the streak as Taker would have been beaten by someone that was in fact the “Best in the World” at the time. However, considering Punk’s real-life backstage unhappiness in WWE at the time and the fact that he might not be around enough to put that win to good use, then having him break the streak would seem a bit of a waste if he were just to quit shortly afterwards. Plus, this win would also mean that Punk would not have anything else left to aspire to in WWE anymore. Punk’s talked about his desire to main event Wrestlemania being one of the few things that kept him around a few years ago. If he main events Mania by ending the streak, what on earth could Punk do next?

We also did a bit of time travelling, suggesting that Randy Orton might have potentially been a great position to end the streak at Wrestlemania 21. He was the right man, in the right place and in the right time. After all, after losing to the Undertaker in Wrestlemania 21, Orton never really seemed to accomplish much in the next few years of his career. This win could have helped Orton catapult his stardom a lot sooner. But the thing is, Randy Orton became a true star in WWE anyway. WWE didn’t need to give him the streak in order to pull that off. Another factor against Orton was his own temperament at the time. According to a lot of people, Orton was a pain in everybody’s backsides in WWE around the time. WWE shouldn’t have really risked giving the streak to somebody that could get in a lot of trouble in years to come.

Bray Wyatt was our last suggestion, as we proposed that the end of this streak could be the start of a new one. Bray could begin a Wrestlemania streak of his own stemming from being the one in 21-1 at Wrestlemania 30. However, Bray was still only starting out on the main roster with this gimmick. There was no guarantee that Bray would have the endurance of the Undertaker to be able to defend the streak for years to come. We’re assuming that Bray would be able to go possibly 10-0 with this streak, or possibly more. Things could go wrong. Bray could get injured. Bray could get fired. It would be too big a risk for WWE to take, with all due respect to Bray Wyatt.

So with those four in mind, who REALLY should have been the one to break the Undertaker’s streak? Well, you might not like this answer. But the person that needed to break that streak… was Brock Lesnar.

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OK, hear me out on this one. That may be a bit of a lame conclusion to come to. Hell, if I had things my own way, the streak would have never been broken. But if you’re going to end the streak, Brock Lesnar WAS the one that should break it. He was the only one that should have done it and he had the right timing too. Vince McMahon got this one bang on with Lesnar breaking the streak.

Think about this Streak series as a whole. When we’ve been looking at guys like CM Punk and John Cena, we’re looking for the same credentials that Brock Lesnar had which made him such a great candidate. Well, why would you try to find somebody like Brock Lesnar when you’ve already got the man himself? Re-signing Brock Lesnar in 2012 was the greatest thing that could have ever happened to WWE around that time. 2012 was a time in which WWE was beginning to evolve as the realities of the business began to emerge. The WWE could no longer ignore the signs of change that they simply couldn’t control. They needed to hire somebody that could help “legitimize” WWE in order for WWE to gain social relevancy. In 2012, they got themselves an answer…

From his first match back, you could tell that Brock was completely different to EVERYBODY else on the roster. He is not meant to be relatable to other wrestlers, as he’s not a wrestler… he’s a fighter. There’s nobody with his style of matches. There is nobody with his real-life accomplishments. There’s nobody else that could ACTUALLY beat Undertaker in an actual fight. If you were to place bets on a street fight between a guy that looked like Undertaker and a guy that looked like Lesnar, you’d put your money on the guy that looked like Lesnar. He’s got the speed, size and strength that few men alive posses.

Look what ending the streak actually DID for Brock Lesnar. He regained the mystique that he had lost due to defeats to John Cena and Triple H. He became a mega attraction once again and one of the most talked about wrestlers in the last few years. People can say that Brock didn’t need the Undertaker’s streak to regain that mystique but the fact is… he did. If he lost to the Undertaker at Wrestlemania 30, he would have just been another big monster that couldn’t beat the Undertaker. But that’s hardly the sort of treatment that Lesnar should get because he’s not just like every other monster. He’s a legitimate badass. Listen to Paul Heyman, Edge and Chris Jericho talking about the streak being broken below.

And with that video, it’s time to finally close the book on this particular series. Reading back, it does seem like a bit of a lame ending to pick the guy that actually broke the streak. However, it’s hard to find that one-of-a-kind freak of nature. The stars were so well aligned for Brock Lesnar to break that streak. Had he not lost to Triple H and John Cena before, the impact it could have had would be monumental. There’s only one Brock Lesnar.

However, it’s been pretty fun to explore with the idea of somebody else doing the honours. None of the four other candidates aren’t actually bad shouts either. However, I have to concede that this is one occasion where the WWE got it right with deciding the man to break the undefeated streak of the Undertaker. WWE did mess up a little in the build up to the moment. Had he not lost twice before hand, the ending of the streak would be perfect. However, I think it’s safe to say that things worked out for the best. Brock Lesnar became that mega star again and the Undertaker eventually got his “win” back anyway at Summerslam 2015. Brock Lesnar was definitely the right man to have broken the streak.

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Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

If you have any thoughts on the “End of the Streak” series, do get in touch through Twitter or leave a comment. It’d be awesome to hear what the readers think! Later!