Dec 22, 2015

WWE Is In A World of Hurt

The title of this one speaks for itself. Really, it should read, "WWE Is In A UNIVERSE of Hurt." Vince McMahon once said, "The difference between good and great is in the details." Well, the details can't even be passed off as decent at this point.

Where do I even start? WWE has been riddled with booking mistakes over the past decade. Most notably over the past 5 years, though. We can go all the way back to 2011, coming off CM Punk's pipe bomb promo that nearly murdered the internet and changed wrestling forever. You may remember a certain Hunter Hearst Helmsley intervening in that one. How about what WWE really wanted Daniel Bryan to do at Wrestlemania 30? Or Dolph Ziggler's amazing 2014 Survivor Series that ended up amounting to nothing. Even Kevin Owens has fallen victim to 50/50 booking. Or in his case, 33 and third booking (Yes, Scott Steiner, 33 and a third).

So what gives? What's the deal here? Everyone saw the illustration of WWE's ratings woes in that New York Post article. So of course, Vince took it into his own hands. Reign's kills Triple H on PPV after losing yet another WWE World Heavyweight Championship match. Then the next night, he wins it on Raw, despite McMahon's involvement. So all's well now, right? I mean, not really.

WWE loves to get their way. And they did in the form of Reigns' title win. I gotta give it up for Reigns and Sheamus for that matter. Both gave 110 percent and cranked out a fantastic title match. But the problem does not stem from the performers themselves. Let's all just face it, the booking is pure garbage at times. Mick Foley was recently on Steve Austin's podcast discussing the current state of WWE. Both pointed out many flaws in WWE's apparent 50/50 booking philosophy. They asked why Sasha Banks has not been featured in the wake of a women's wrestling revolution that has been taking place in NXT for quite some time. To sum up the podcast, they echo what many casual fans and the internet wrestling community have been complaining about since Wrestlemania 31.

So how do you fix it? Honestly, I don't know. I can sit here and say, "Yeah, put Banks on television. Have Reigns align himself with the Authority. Let Kevin Owens demolish people." But the issues currently in sight cannot be fixed that simply. Establishing solid booking and long term heat takes time. It's that simple. WWE must embark on an initiative that supports a long term plan. Things are too sporadic. Guys that should be monster heels get beat every other week. Guys that should be top babyfaces never battle someone long enough to overcome any real heat. I can go on and on. The point is, WWE needs to come up with a plan and call audibles along the way to adjust to the fan's reaction to the product.

I don't want to harp on this because honestly, it makes me sad. Foley said something interesting on Austin's podcast. In short, he said that when he sees a woman like Sasha Banks not get the tv time or character building angles that she deserves, it makes his sad. My feelings exactly. In bad times such as what we're all going through as fans with WWE right now, it's important to remember that WWE does NOT define professional wrestling. Yeah, they call it sports entertainment. But get real here people, it's professional wrestling. It just happens to not be very good right now. My point is though, wrestling exists outside of the Fed. It's time to change the channel for awhile. It's time to support other wrestling promotions. Watch Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. Watch New Japan Pro Wrestling. Just watch something else. In the 90's. ECW and WCW made a mark on the business because people tuned in to see something different. It's time to do that again. Maybe the business as a whole will be stronger if we do.

Brady Sauvageau
The Heater Wrestling

Nov 23, 2015

Biggest Stories Coming Out of WWE Survivor Series

Am I the only one that wants WWE to move on? Survivor Series 2015 has come and gone, and the road to Wrestlemania becomes increasingly near. Let's take a look at where we're at coming out of WWE's November tradition.

Straight away, let's talk about the semi-final match-ups from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament.

I have to say, I didn't have the highest of hopes for the Roman Reigns / Alberto Del Rio match. With that being said, the two turned in an awesome opener, considering the circumstances. The circumstances being that there was no way Reigns was losing that match. Even with the finish being seen from space, I found myself very interested in the bout as it went on. Del Rio is the consistent workhorse, while Reigns continues to be great in the ring even without the years of experience many others possess.

Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose might have been the best match on the card. Owens continues to prove why he is the best (that's right, I said the best) heel in WWE. This was the only match on the card that in the middle of it, I honestly didn't know who was going to win. This is yet another example of the new generation of WWE wrestlers out-working the old guard. This set up the finals match between Ambrose and Reigns.

So guess what? You won't believe this. Reigns won the WWE title. I know, shocking right? All kidding aside, knowing how WWE does business, knowing how they react when backed into a corner, and knowing that they always get their way regardless of logic or entertainment value, the finish was predictable. So Reigns ends up with the strap, but Sheamus hits the ring and cashes in and beats Reigns. Now, I'm going to give them a bit of a break on this one. Rollins got hurt. Their plans were completely ruined (unless they had this planned with a Reigns victory over Rollins). Yes, in a way this was a shocking ending to a WWE PPV. But think of it this way: We've now gone from Seth Rollins as a heel champion (which was pretty solid), to Reigns being top guy and Sheamus ending up as the heel champion. Sorry, but this is a remarkable downgrade. Reigns' spear on Triple H builds a potential program between the two, while Reigns will obviously immediately enter a program with Sheamus.

Looking forward, there seems to be no way in my mind that Sheamus gets past the Royal Rumble with the title. Sheamus is a solid in-ring worker, but I can't imagine WWE would bet the farm on him in a Wrestlemania main event. This is another example of simple booking in WWE. Now we can rest assured that Sheamus will lose the belt before 'Mania.

Also, there was no heel turn by Reigns or Ambrose. Obviously, we need to see what goes down tonight on Raw. More questions should be answered. But at this point, it's plain to see that Survivor Series did very little to drum up any excitement surrounding the WWE Title. I understand the idea: Let Reigns get to the top of the mountain, only to lose at the worst possible moment. He was THAT CLOSE, DO YOU GET IT?! So clearly, this was WWE trying to build sympathy for Reigns and his eventual, formal title run. But who did they really get to sympathize for Reigns? The ones that already like him, that's who. This didn't change anyone's view on Reigns. The people that like him still like him and the ones that don't still don't. We've gone nowhere. Like, absolutely nowhere. I don't want to come off as a huge Reigns hater. The guy was a victim of WWE's typical, "Shove him down their throat" style of push. But in all honesty, the guy isn't ready from a reaction standpoint. I thought a heel run would add some depth of character that he definitely needs, but clearly, WWE either doesn't care or has no clue what their fans think. I'll let you guess which one is the case...

Again, a quick note on the Divas Division. Paige and Charlotte had potential. In fact, there's tons of female match-ups that have great potential in WWE. But the two wrestled to a reaction that was lacking, well, a reaction. The crowd was completely dead after watching a traditional Survivor Series match that was the equivalent to a Smackdown main event. I'm not putting the blame on the girls. The blame has to go to creative, who have rushed Charlotte to the top and hidden Sasha Banks between to girls that can barely work. Sounds harsh, I know. NXT booked the ladies to perfection. Anyone who saw Banks vs. Bayley one and two knows the difference between NXT and main roster women's wrestling drama. I don't want to harp on this because honestly, it makes me sad that these ladies can work so hard and come to the main roster where clearly, creative has little to no concept of booking their division. One last thing, they seriously need to get a Women's Championship and dump the "Divas" label. It's just demeaning and illustrates and era of women's wrestling that we should all forget. I know WWE still thinks it's 1975, but seriously, wake up.

Last thing we're going to hit is the Brothers of Destruction vs. The Wyatt Family. Before I say anything, Raw could change my mind on this completely if the Bray / Taker feud continues. But here's my thoughts as of right now. Why? Seriously, why? The Undertaker has been with us for 25 years. It's great, we appreciate him, and we respect his accomplishments. But answer me this: What was accomplished by last night's finish? Yeah, Bray didn't get pinned, Harper did (which is why I'm still holding out hope for a continuation of the feud). But like I said last week, would it have really hurt anyone for Bray to pin Taker? Similar to the WWE title picture, we've gotten nowhere with this feud. I pray to whatever God is listening that WWE has a bigger picture in mind here.

With all this being said, WWE has some work to do. They have a champion that is clearly just a delivery guy for the champion the company wants, two old guys bounced a bunch of young guys around the ring, and the ladies are again the victims of clueless writers that can't spell NXT. I hate being this negative, but things are not looking good. So now I'll ask all the people that thought Seth Rollins was a bad champion a question...Was it really that bad? Seriously. Was it? Because if this is what's better, I'm completely floored. Sadly, I can see it now....A Wrestlemania card littered with "stars" hailing from an era of wrestling that died 14 or 15 years ago. I'd hate to say he told you so, but, CM Punk told you so.

Brady Sauvageau
The Heater Wrestling

Nov 19, 2015

Survivor Series 2015: Predictions & Notes

Survivor Series is only days away, so let's dive in and take a look at what we may or may not see this Sunday.

I'm only going to hit the big stuff here. I have a lot to say about the Divas Championship and the "Revolution" in general. Just a note here....I'm impressed every day by the leaps and bounds that have been made by the new generation of female wrestlers in NXT and now, WWE. In no way am I planning on bashing what's happened in NXT when it comes to women's wrestling. More on that later. Anyway, back to Survivor Series.

In all likelihood, we're going to see Dean Ambrose take on Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. Honestly, that's probably what's going to happen. Now, the dirt sheets are reporting that as of the Tuesday before Survivor Series, Ambrose is favored to win the belt over Reigns. If WWE wants to move forward and do something different, Ambrose is the pick. In my last post, I discussed the possibilities and angles of Ambrose winning the title, so I'll keep it short here. But in short, Ambrose over Reigns buys some time for the inevitable title run that Reigns has been set up for. Look forward to Ambrose vs. Owens in the semi-finals, though. Should be a great bout.

Best case scenario: Ambrose wins the title and feuds Reigns moving forward. The two could put on a great program, it would feature young talent, and maybe we get a heel turn from one or the other. Ambrose would shine on the mic more and illustrate how great of a talent he is.

Real quick here, Tyler Breeze vs. Dolph Ziggler could be a show stealing match, if given the time they deserver. Breeze, a product of the Lance Storm Wrestling Academy, has developed a fantastic heel character and displayed polished in-ring work during his time at NXT. Ziggler has been an underutilized talent for years now, so look for them to leave it all in the ring on Sunday.

Here's where it gets real.

The Wyatt Family vs. The Brothers of Destruction

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm bitter about the Undertaker / Bray Wyatt feud that led into Wrestlemania 31. I've said that I believe Bray should've beat Taker, or at least came up big. WWE's major issue over the past 10 to 15 years has been building stars that can main event big PPV's without the help of a Rock or Brock Lesnar. Bray Wyatt has displayed mic work that we haven't heard since Jake Roberts. In-ring, he's improved greatly. One thing he's mastered in the ring is the little nuances that make for a great story within a match. The point I'm getting at is Bray Wyatt could be an amazing super heel moving into the future of the company.

So this leads us to Survivor Series. leading up to Sunday, Bray has claimed that he has inherited some sort of supernatural power from Taker. So I'm just going to say it, Bray should pin Taker. I know, it sounds crazy. But think of it this way: What if Taker pins Bray and that's it? What does that do for anyone? Taker has won a billion matches. The fact is that Taker made Lesnar into an ultra-attraction after WWE booking almost wasted him upon his return to wrestling. If Wyatt beats Taker and fully inherits the supernatural qualities of him, then we have a guy that has a great future and something fans can always look back on and say, "You know, he pinned Taker in 2015. He's legit." The Undertaker will always be the Phenom, the guy that dominated for 20+ years. For him to give back to the business and make a guy wouldn't kill his character or taint his accomplishments. He'd further the business. But in the end, this all hinges on how long WWE is planning on this going on. Maybe there's much more to this story.

Regardless of what you think about the pending Taker / Wyatt finish, Survivor Series is shaping up to at least be an interesting spectacle leading into the road to Wrestlemania 32. Hopefully we come out of this with a light at the end of tunnel, that light being a future.

Brady Sauvageau
The Heater Wrestling  

Nov 13, 2015

Seth Rollins' Injury, WWE Moving Forward

WWE has consistently leaned on its established stars like the Undertaker, John Cena, and Randy Orton. Since Wrestlemania 31, a breath of fresh air in the form of Seth Rollins emerged, giving a younger generation a fresh champion. A lot can be said about Rollins' heavyweight title reign, but perspectives may change in the wake of his ACL, MCL, and meniscus injury that will keep him out of the ring for 6-9 months.

Let's be honest here...WWE didn't do its best in booking Seth Rollins as heavyweight champion. His reign was bogged down by uninteresting opponents and maybe a bit too much chicken-shit heel tactics. Many fans complained about Rollins, but maybe to his own design. He played his part well. He did what was asked of him. Booking aside, no one can argue with his in-ring work. Rollins pulled a great match out of an aging Sting and did much to carry Raw during a time where top heels were few and far in between.

But now he's out, and out a very long time.

For those that say Rollins' injury isn't impactful aren't paying enough attention to the current landscape of WWE. The roster is thin, but not because there aren't any superstars that can carry the ball. The fact of the matter is, outside of Rollins, WWE hasn't got anyone ready to be the next top guy of the company. Brock Lesnar is his own attraction. Undertaker is limited. Cena has had his best days in terms of a fresh, interesting champion. As far as heels go, WWE's best option is fed newcomer, Kevin Owens (Kevin Steen to those that know of his incredible Indie run). The problem with Owens is that it's clear WWE doesn't want him in a top spot as of now, illustrated by his initial win over Cena and subsequent two straight losses. Don't get me wrong here. I'm confident that Owens could solidify himself as the company's top heel. WWE just clearly isn't interested in putting him on top of the card. With Cena taking time off and Orton being injured, the open spot should have two options to fill. These options are Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.

Both are not heels, I know. But both are young, fresh guys that could carry the ball. It's imperative for WWE to infuse younger talent into top spots in an effort to move forward. So here's where it gets interesting: could WWE swerve us and call a heel turn?

WWE wants Reigns to be the top babyface. It's obvious. His acceptance by the audience has been lukewarm, to say the least. I know what you're thinking. If Cena gets a 50/50 reaction then why can't Reigns be a 50/50 babyface champion? Well, there's a big difference between John Cena and Roman Reigns. Cena's box office draw is bigger than Reigns'. When Cena is in the ring, whether you love him or absolutely hate him, you're watching. Reigns is not at that point. Could he get there? Certainly, but not right now.

So it seems like Ambrose is the obvious choice to turn heel and feud Reigns moving into 2016. While Ambrose is a great heel and excellent in-ring worker, this idea just seems too simple, too predicable.

Hear me out. Let's just say Reigns turns heel, wins the heavyweight title tournament, and feuds Ambrose. Reigns has a new lease on life. Seems like nowadays, heels are cooler than babyfaces. Reigns would have a chance to develop some depth of character, something that's much more difficult when fighting from the good side. Ambrose is already a solid babyface and who didn't hear the roof come off the building when initially won the WWE Title, only to have it taken away. In the least, it would be a storyline that is less predictable and has the opportunity to elevate Reigns and Ambrose to even greater heights than they've seen thus far in WWE.

It's obvious that Rollins' injury has changed things in a negative way. The looming Triple H vs. Rollins match will have to wait. The door is open, though, for WWE to continue featuring younger stars as top guys through Reigns and Ambrose. But on a positive note, it's sure going to be easy to turn Rollins babyface upon his return.

-Brady Sauvageau
The Heater