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Before I begin my column, I just wanted to say a few things about Vader or “Big Van Vader” as he was called to sometimes avoid Star Wars copyright stuff. During his absolute prime, notably during his World Championship Wrestling (WCW) run, this guy was awesome. At a time during the early to mid 1990s when WCW was terrible, Vader was a shining light and had incredible matches with Sting, Ric Flair, and Cactus Jack. He appeared legitimately tough and had a badass look to him. Then, he bolted to the WWE when the Hogan crew were taking over WCW but he just never gained the same confidence as a superstar in the WWE as he did WCW. Just wasn’t a right fit…
However, a cool moment of WWE redemption happened during June 11th, 2012 when Heath Slater was wrestling multiple wrestling legends week after week and Vader wrestled and beat Slater in a match. Vader had a pretty good reaction by fans for that segment. Worth checking out here.
Just hop on your WWE Network and check out some old WCW Pay Per Views for some of his best matches. Well worth your time.
Rest in peace, Leon.
Welcome back to the “Space Mountain of Pro Wrestling Columns”… Yes, I know that I’m stealing a Ric Flair catch phrase, but I’m the oldest wrestling columnist online but the lines are still the longest… Wooooooo! And I’m exclusive here at LordsofPain.net, baby! Seriously, folks, if I say “hell with it” come October, what will you have to read? With the wrestling business shrinking and many seeking Podcasts, who gives you production like me? You get at least 1 column per week and often, I’m grinding out 2-3 for you like this week. I gave you full reviews of NXT Takeover and WWE Money in the Bank shows as they ended and here I am back on Wednesday night pounding out more EXCELLENCE OF COLUMN WRITING for you to enjoy.
So much news to cover, too…
BIG CASS was released from the WWE shortly following his performance on Money in the Bank against Daniel Bryan. Holy cow…
Think about it this way… WWE actually invested exactly 7 years in this guy from development through his time on the main roster. You’d think that after 7 years, he would have been a more solid in-ring performer. Yet, the seven footer seemed to avoid wrestling like a big man. I’m not sure if it was learning in-ring habits from smaller wrestlers that were developing at NXT or even hanging out with Enzo, he seemed to lack strength as a big man. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when he did a Fallaway Slam at Money in the Bank along with an inverted Death Valley Driver.
In my opinion, the WWE ruined him by immediately pushing him to feud with Daniel Bryan upon his return to the WWE from an ACL tear. He should have started somewhere on the midcard and worked his way up as a SINGLES wrestler. He barely scratched the surface as a singles after he broke up with Enzo before tearing his ACL. That, and the ACL injury takes a while to fully recover from… Just ask Seth Rollins who took a while to get his mojo back following his 2015 ACL tear.
The biggest crime is that he was rushed to immediately feud with Daniel Bryan. After being forced to retire, Bryan’s return to the ring SHOULD have been special. Instead of drawing just under 2.2 million weekly viewers on Smackdown with the AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura feud, they could have got Bryan immediately involved with the main event scene. Nope, after rushing the AJ Styles match-up on Smackdown without any prior announcement, WWE had Big Cass attack Bryan after Cass mocked Bryan’s height earlier in the night. Several other attacks and Bryan being attacked after the Backlash match, what was left for Big Cass to do to Bryan was call him a “B+ Player”.
So now, the WWE has NOTHING TO SHOW FOR the Big Cass vs. Daniel Bryan feud… The good vibrations from the Bryan return are GONE and we wasted 2 months of what could be Bryan’s last run in the WWE. His WWE Contract expires during September 2018 and if I were him, I’d run for the hills. I know that the WWE just signed big deals with FOX/Comcast, they have consistently disrespected Bryan’s ability and star power.
Speaking of FOX and Comcast… Think about this… Many are mocking both for paying the WWE about $1 Billion each including yours truly.
BUT… Comcast was willing to spend $65 Billion in CASH to acquire 21st Century Fox media properties and FOX will now receive $71 Billion from Disney for said properties. Thus, if you think that both overpaid for the WWE, they seem to have lots of money laying around. As you pay your cable/internet/phone bill, that should put a few things in perspective…
Funny thing is that the WWE could have potentially made more money from those deals has their TV Viewership been higher OR if they had a legitimate Main Event star or stars that could help market their shows. WWE Smackdown is now consistently under 2.5 million viewers and now RAW is beginning to be consistently under 3.0 million viewers. RAW better watch out, too, because Brock Lesnar could be ending his WWE career soon if no extensions are signed. Rumored match-up for SummerSlam 2018 for the WWE Universal Title is Roman Regins vs. Brock Lesnar… AGAIN. If fans see an ending to Lesnar coming soon, they’ll stop watching.
That is why Ronda Rousey is going to become VERY important to the WWE. Folks, I missed the call on her… I read early body language from her early appearances and saw her appearances on various sports shows and thought that the WWE may have overpaid for her. Then, I saw her Wrestlemania 34 match and it seemed like a light flicked on for her. I was totally wrong on that call… She is a natural in that ring not just as an athlete, but he EMOTION needed to sell herself as a competitor. Folks, she sold for Stephanie McMahon and made Stephanie look somewhat convincing.
Her hour of RAW was over 3 million and her YouTube segment is crushing it right now, just 2 days after the clip was posted, at 7 million views!
If the WWE is unable to create a top drawing MALE main event wrestler, they might have to settle on pushing the Women’s Division harder…
Problem is that besides Ronda Rousey, what do you have? The RAW roster for Women’s wrestling is a bit lackluster and that is a shame with Sasha Banks and Bayley on that roster. It seems that Sasha hasn’t been the same since moving out of the Main Event scene and Bayley’s main roster career has been underwhelming compared to her NXT run. Nia Jax should be a bigger deal and her win at Wrestlemania 34 was nice… But even her booking was inconsistent and win/loss record could have been better. I’m a big fan of Alexa Bliss but she was a better fit on Smackdown than on RAW (looked great against Becky Lynch).
WWE will likely continue to pour resources into Roman Reigns and that will fail. Braun Strowman is damaged goods from 2017 so he will fail… The awful booking of the Sami Zayn feud has ruined Bobby Lashley, so he will fail.
But hey, the WWE has over 5 years to figure something out… Go spend $2 billion to find the next big superstar.
Speaking of Women’s Wrestling, what the hell is up with Asuka‘s booking?
She was booked as a serious deal in NXT, undefeated, and had great matches. Her unique style was able to mesh with everybody from Bayley, Emma, Ember Moon, and even Nia Jax.
I was OK with her losing to Charlotte Flair in a serious match at Wrestlemania 34. Nothing wrong with that… But to lose in a goofy manner to Carmella at Money in the Bank was flat-out embarrassing.
I’m sorry James Ellsworth… I’m happy that he has found work again, but his comedy act is NOT what I want as a wrestling fan. Carmella was quickly learning how to perform when she joined the Smackdown roster during 2016 and actually learned well from her feud with Nikki Bella. Soon, she was placed with Ellsworth and the in-ring stuff that she learned became a second priority.
Smackdown has Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Asuka on the roster with many up & coming performers also on that roster… But they all have to take a backseat to “sports entertainment” goofiness with Carmella and Ellworth.
Did I mention yet that Monday Night RAW has been UNDER 3 million viewers for 7 consecutive weeks now?
But hey, that’s none of my business.
I’m happy for AJ Styles for being on the cover of WWE 2K19. That’s good news for him and his fans as that should mean that he’ll be around in the WWE for a while. He has given them great work since joining the roster during early 2016. Congrats to him.
Hey, could someone show me the WWE 2K cover for which Roman Reigns appears?
After all, he is the pushed #1 “star” of the WWE… Shouldn’t he on the cover of the WWE’s annual video game?
It’s kind of like how the WWE often avoids placing Roman Reigns in the Main Event slot or even the 3rd hour of Monday Night RAW.
What do you have to hide, WWE?
Speaking of WWE 2K19, if there is going to be a Nintendo Switch port, please take a little more time and effort on it, 2K Sports. Please? That rushed port was an absolute joke with its awful loading times, slow action, and heavy on glitches.
More idiotic booking to discuss…
– What was the point of Seth Rollins losing his Intercontinental Title randomly to Dolph Ziggler on RAW? Made no sense unless Rollins is going to become WWE Universal Champion soon.
– How is it that Rusev is suddenly rushed to become the #1 contender after being “jobber to the stars” for much of this year?
– Another multi-person match… This time, to determine the #1 contender for Brock’s title shot at SummerSlam 2018. Could you imagine UFC or Boxing having a match with multiple people involved? And by the way, WWE Extreme Rules is actually in Pittsburgh. Will I go? Nah, although I have never attended a Pay Per View before.
THE LAST WORD
Are we missing John Cena yet?
For years since my early 2010 comeback, I’ve heard nothing but hatred by the Internet Wrestling Community regarding “Super” John Cena. Lots of comparisons to Hulk Hogan from the way he overcame the odds and acted like a vanilla or superhero babyface. Then, I’d see John Cena putting over CM Punk during 2011, Daniel Bryan during 2013, Brock Lesnar during 2014 in a squash, Kevin Owens during 2015, AJ Styles during 2016, and Roman Reigns during 2017. Seems quite generous.
Since John Cena got destroed during his SummerSlam 2014 match-up with Brock Lesnar, viewership for RAW has been down by over 1 million, attendance has been down by the thousands, and merchandise sales have been way down. But I thought that John Cena wasn’t a draw? As you can read from one of my “best of” columns, I statistically proved that John Cena was a legitimate draw anytime he was World Champion and he helped RAW’s free fall in ratings when he became champion (2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014). In my opinion, too, John Cena was a stabilizing force when Chris Benoit‘s horrible actions created a PR nightmare for the WWE.
What most of you got WRONG was blaming John Cena…
Unlike Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, or the Rock, John Cena never had a strong supporting cast on the Main Event scene.
Go back and look at Hulk Hogan‘s 1980s career. He had amazing heels in Roddy Piper, Mr. Wonderful, Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Big Bossman, Ted Dibiase, and Macho Man Randy Savage. Steve Austin briefly had Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and then wrestled Mick Foley, Kane, the Rock, the Undertaker, and was feuding with the best heel character of all time named Vince McMahon. The Rock was Steve Austin’s #1 foe but he also had Mick Foley, Triple H, and that LOADED roster of 2000-2001.
John Cena has had… Well, after the veterans like Triple H and Edge stepped away, he was left with… Randy Orton? Yeah… Guys that Cena put over like Daniel Bryan and CM Punk were quickly destroyed after their wins versus Cena. Yes, Brock Lesnar came back and after their 2012 feud, Brock destroyed Cena during 2014 in a match that was so one-sided, it was unfair to Cena and hurt him as a WWE star. Funny thing is that the WWE could have given use John Cena vs. Undertaker but they never did until Wrestlemania 34 with a JOKE of a short match.
Those late 1980s and late 1990s/early 2000s rosters were LOADED with all time great or complementary talent that could help Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and the Rock look like major stars consistently. John Cena, in my opinion, has done “more with less” and unlike Austin/Hogan, Cene has tried to go out of his way to make new stars. The Rock tried to make new stars to his credit, but don’t forget that Wrestlemania 28 when John Cena put over the Rock in their first match.
As the great Cinderella band once put it, Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)… Many of you online have disregarded Cena’s talents and in my opinion, disrespected it as well.
WWE needs MAIN EVENT drawing star power right now… Roman Reigns is NOT that guy and part-time Brock Lesnar isn’t as well. FOX and Comcast should be sweating their $1 billion deals because WWE doesn’t have any top drawing stars on the current roster nor do they have anyone developing to become the top guy. WWE put all of their eggs into Reigns’s basket while depushing the rest of the roster to help him look good. WWE is paying for that now.
Thanks to their idiotic decision for SummerSlam 2014 and only giving him 1 brief World Title reign since (the joke of a reign during early 2017), they have wasted John Cena‘s star power for almost 4 years now.
Gee, I wonder why John Cena wants to try Hollywood… Because WWE thinks that they can manufacture his replacement.
I would love to see John Cena get BOLD and jump to a rival promotion. That won’t happen, as the WWE will overpay him to never leave… But to see Cena stick it to the WWE for giving up on him so early would be great. I would be “all in” about that.
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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