The first week of 2013 and so far it has been an interesting week, with quite a lot of emphasis put on the mid-card titles in the WWE, both titles being defended twice after the WWE slightly stole the concept of Championship Thursdays from TNA, only made it better by putting it as Champion’s Choice and having all the titles on the line rather than having a whole show of arbitrary Hogan decision making before the title match. It seems like the WWE have been ‘borrowing’ quite a bit from TNA as of late, which is sort of disturbing but at the same time if it works then it works, although I could do without the start of show recaps and the whole AJ scandal being repeated, even if it was nowhere near as painful. On the TNA side of things; Sting returned to the ring and the identity of Mike Knox was revealed, plus Mr. Anderson turned to the darkside…and then did absolutely nothing to help when things went south, so that is still up in the air I’m guessing. Most importantly TNA did what I asked and put Roode, Aries and Hardy in a triple threat match, even better it’s an elimination match and hopefully this will mean that Hardy will lose the belt somehow, otherwise I see bad things in TNA’s future in terms of putting a guy over their two other top talents and then him jumping ship, possibly still holding the belt which will lead to a rush job on how he drops it, perhaps even as bad as the whole Devon debacle. I have other thoughts to air on TNA’s first week in 2013 but for now let’s roll on with the chart shall we…
Weekly Top Ten:
1st Place: Wade Barrett (10/10)
Well this is a surprise! Anyone who thought the Barrett Barrage was well and truly dead might have spoken too soon. While we all expected Barrett to come back and feud with Sheamus over the World title there is no shame in the bare-knuckled Brit wrestling for the IC title at this point, and anyway there is no point crying over spilt milk so let’s move on shall we! Barrett had a damn good week in my estimation, even if in the middle of it he was hit straight in the face with a Trouble in Paradise and pinned for three. Apart from that one slip up he was able to win where it counted, pinning Kingston on Raw for the IC title and then successfully defending it on Smackdown, not to mention taking out Tatsu, JTG and Justin Gabriel before Kofi beat him in his gauntlet match on Main Event. To me that looks pretty dominant on paper and the new IC champ has kicked his reign off to a dominant start, let’s just hope he can keep it up as the weeks go along.
2nd Place: Antonio Cesaro (9/10)
The US champ is up next, having slaughtered the Sgt. On Monday night Raw, escaping the Camel Clutch and then hitting not one, but two Neutralisers, one to end and another after the match, just to add insult to injury. Then on Main Event he beat the Great Khali, showing a Cena-esque feat of strength when he picked up the Punjabi giant and slammed him to the mat with a Neutraliser for the win. Cesaro certainly is being made to look impressive, especially after the last couple of weeks where the WWE have been putting him up against main event talent in losing efforts. It looks like that was all just a test to see how he coped and he must have passed with flying colours because he is right back on top of things now and could stay at the head of the mid-card for quite some time, until an eventual spot opens up for him in the main event down the line. Hell he could pull a Ryback and get lucky due to an unexpected injury and we could see him in a big time PPV match by the end of 2013.
3rd Place: The Shield (8/10)
If you didn’t see the Shield manhandle nearly the entire NXT roster this week then I suggest you go check it out. Now sure it is NXT and it is not as big a deal as doing it on Raw or Smackdown, but to do that would be to bury their main roster of talent for three relative rookies and that should never happen. Instead this was the NXT champion, a returning favourite of FCW and a great new prospect for the brand running rough-shot over the show, which to me is much more acceptable. Of course it was a little strange to see the group then back down from Big E. Langston, another guy who has recently been moved up to the main roster as a heel and the TV tapings are a little behind with, but still Big E. is such a big guy that you can kind of understand their backing down, although as much as they went over in that segment, Big E. might have gone over more, but that makes sense seeing as how he is the next NXT champion, I just don’t know how they plan to take the belt off him as of yet, if they are even planning to. The Shield also raised some hell on Raw and then were run off by the team of Ryback, Sheamus and Orton, so it looks like their actions may finally be catching up to them, but that is a given considering they have gone about destroying half the roster in this past month alone. All in all it was another good week for the Shield, but the question now is; how long will it be before they start having to drop pins to all these faces that they have been having their way with over the past few weeks?
4th Place: C.M. Punk (7/10)
The next spot on the chart goes to the WWE champion, some say that Punk’s title reign is not long for this world, but as he has already broken the 400 day mark I would say that it doesn’t really matter even if this is the case. Honestly though I don’t see why the Rock should win the WWE title, a second Cena vs. Rock match doesn’t really need the belt to draw, then again people will no doubt complain about the whole ‘Once in a Lifetime’ thing, but then that is never really true anyway is it. Honestly there are several ways the WWE can go at this point and it looks like it will all start at the Royal Rumble, and the ‘fighting champions champion’ will surely be ready to go one-on-one with the Great One, but will he have more luck than Cena did the first time?
5th Place: Big Show (6/10)
The World Champion comes just behind Punk and most of his points were earned by picking on Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer; Ricardo Rodriguez. To be fair he gave the guy a title match on Raw, which was nice of him, but it is all really in aid of setting up a feud between Show and the newly turned Del Rio. Honestly the WWE must be desperate for faces on Smackdown when they are putting the newest face on the roster against the heel champion. I suppose it might more come down to them biding their time as if they put Show against the Ryback there would probably have to be a title change involved. Funnily enough though the reason given for Big Show’s title win in the first place was to shake the title picture up and yet here we are a couple of months down the line and for the better part of a year the same three men have been competing for the title, with Ziggler looking in from the outside, which doesn’t sound all that fresh to me. Honestly at this point I don’t see why the WWE doesn’t just abandon the World title and raise the midcard belts as the title doesn’t seem to mean that much anyway and has become more of a burden than anything else, a world title to reward veterans and test out potential or failed WWE champions to see if they are ready for the next title, and by all accounts this is what the IC title should be, but with the pretention that matches contested over it should be higher up the card, which is a constant source of complaint.
6th Place: Dolph Ziggler (5/10)
The Zig Zag man ended the year 2012 with a bang, well more with a plop but nevermind. Still he was on the last segment on Raw and is increasingly being allowed time on the mic, which is all that a guy like Ziggler wants really. Ziggler has always been about maximising his time, in the ring and on the microphone, the problem is that until now he has been getting very little, first of both and then just the other, now he is getting enough time on both and hopefully he will erase the memory of his time as a caddy, then a male cheerleader, then an implied porn star. On a side note it is a pretty cheap move for Cena to mock Ziggler’s past gimmicks when he is lucky that his cheesy gimmick of ‘white rapper’ took off like it did, it could have easily gone the other way and it would have been him toiling in the mid card for several years before he finally found something that fits, after all after his rap gimmick he has clutched to the same spiel for years and so he isn’t exactly a master of all gimmicks, despite being the face of the WWE.
7th Place: The Rhodes Scholars (4/10)
This team continues to struggle in my opinion, but maybe that is because I have such high expectations for them. Rhodes and Sandow are a heat-creating machine but after failing to win the tag titles once again the team seems to have lost focus and are now being put up against guys like Cena, who are never going to lose to them and so they are in danger of losing a lot of their standing as a tag team, although hopefully not as singles competitors. Still I suppose being part of a moderately successful tag team is better than being singles competitors who have nowhere to go.
8th Place: DOC (3/10)
The Director of Chaos for Aces & 8s did a pretty good job this week of making his presence felt, chewing out Anderson, calling out Sting and taking out Kurt Angle, at least for a little while. Gallows is doing well in his new role and I could even see him over time becoming a big part of the group, as in once they are all unmasked and the storyline can truly get up and running. I’m not sure what his rivalry with Sting will do for him but I could see it working as a mid-card feud with a bit of extra hype due to the Stinger’s presence, hopefully he won’t just job out to the Icon on an episode of Impact and they will actually make a go of it before he finally gets done in by the glory hound.
9th Place: Bad Influence (2/10)
The team of Daniels and Kazarian seem to be becoming a better and better source of entertainment on Impact wrestling. What started off as an appletini here and there, escalated to a jaunty scarf, then dual gangnam style, and now has moved on to eerily accurate impressions of their opponents. Sure they seem to lose every matchup they are in since losing the tag team titles, but in the end being entertaining is enough to get you noticed and eventually that will lead to wins, in time.
10th Place: Paul Heyman (1/10)
Last Place goes to the creep that backs up the WWE champion; Paul Heyman. I have said before how Heyman has been doing a great job of backing up Punk as the champion, and his presence alone adds weight to the idea that Punk is currently the best in the world. I would honestly love it if the WWE are playing us all for fools and the reason they have used Lesnar so sparingly is because they are going to go all out with him on the lead up to Wrestlemania, imagine Lesnar teaming with Punk on a weekly basis, maybe even seeing Lesnar & Punk vs. Rock & Cena, which will almost never happen outside of a PPV but with the amount of dates Lesnar has remaining and the Rock as the possible WWE champion, and with the ratings as low as they are, we might get to see a lot more of these two ringers than we had bargained for, at least in the next couple of months until ‘Mania has been and gone.
2012-2013 Season Top Ten:
1st Place: The Big Show (191)
2nd Place: Alberto Del Rio (179)
3rd Place: Daniel Bryan (174)
4th Place: C.M. Punk (158)
5th Place: Dolph Ziggler (153)
6th Place: Damien Sandow (134)
7th Place: Robert Roode (122)
8th Place: Bully Ray (103)
9th Place: Cody Rhodes (93)
10th Place: Antonio Cesaro (87)
(Heel Hall of Fame)
**Heel Report 2010-2011 Winner: The Miz**
**Heel Report 2011-2012 Winner: Cody Rhodes**
The Face-Off: Great Khali Backstage
I’ve already complained about the debacle that was the Mae Young-Baby New Year segment in my other report this week, so instead I am going to focus on another terrible, cringe-worthy segment that the WWE aired this week and that is the interview on Main Event of Khali, who the WWE thought it would be funny if they positioned him like Rocky in Rocky IV as the All-American hope against the foreign enemy. I get the joke that none of his party were actually American, Hornswaggle as Irish (in character origin), Natalya as Canadian and of course Khali as Indian, but really it was all a little too blunt and all a little bit too silly. The WWE often seems to cross this line between funny because it is ridiculous and annoying because it is stupid, hell Cena is guilty of doing this constantly, but something really needs to be done about it, because to me Main Event is the WWE show for fans who aren’t so sure about wrestling. It usually makes efforts to introduce the characters and storylines so that casual fans can get into the action, but if I didn’t really watch wrestling and I saw this segment I would think that all my preconceived prejudices about the product were bang on the mark and I probably wouldn’t watch again because I would claim that I didn’t want to lose any more brain cells than I had already by watching that debacle.
Face the Facts: Alberto Del Rio
One thing that Big Show’s challenge to Ricardo on Raw really did do was to help get Del Rio over as a face in how he treated Ricardo before his match, apologising for how he treated him having seen the error of his ways and emphasising that no matter what the two are still friends. What’s more after that segment his attack on Big Show when he came out to save his friends was masterful. The way he viciously went after Big Show and screamed “Let me see your face!” before he kicked him right in his world’s largest athlete’s head was great and the calling Big Show’s attention and then giving him a disrespectful wink was a nice reference back to his heel days but now being used in a face capacity. Honestly up until a few weeks ago I was unaware of Del Rio’s major face past in Mexico, but now it makes a lot more sense. While I still think it is a little soon to be putting him back into the title picture as a face when he only just left as a heel, it is hard to deny that he might actually make a likeable face if he can keep his act fresh and avoid falling into the pitfalls of being a one-dimensional character, as he did as while a heel, and as many faces seem to do when they are ‘neutered’. Luckily Del Rio didn’t have that whole ‘cool heel’ persona when he turned so there is really nothing for fans to complain about him losing, hell maybe he will actually win on PPV for once now.
On the Rise: Tamina
This one came out of nowhere, the daughter of the Superfly picked up two wins in one week on WWE television. Could this be a case of the WWE stacking their pre-taped NXT show with Smackdown, or was it all just a coincidence? I hope it was the former, but since they seem to pay so little attention to continuity between shows normally I am more tempted to say that was just a convenient accident. Still it made her look strong and in a division that constantly seems as if it is on its last legs it would be nice if they let some actual wrestling talent shine rather than the models who will most likely all just use the company as a stepping stone no matter how many boons they are given.
Flat-Footed: British Bootcamp
Alright, take a step back and go and watch the available episodes of this show and come back so you can comprehend just how accurate my following comments are, rather than just being unnecessary venom levelled at TNA. For all the good that TNA has done this year a show like this could really hurt them as it is the stupidest, most contrived piece of absolute **** reality trash TV I have ever seen! Apparently this was edited by Jeremy Borash so I’m blaming him as much as anyone else, how he could think that this was compelling television is beyond me. Honestly watching this show was like being beaten over the head repeatedly with a hammer, or at least that is how dumb the show presumes its viewers are. They must do, it is the only explanation I have for why everything was repeated at least twice and everything a person said was then backed up in action according to almost every word, and the music to go along with everything was so on the nose that it was painful.
Apart from anything else the whole thing is stupid because it is a ‘contest’ between four people, and only then do you realise that it is actually only between three as the Blossom Twins are considered a pair, so everything Dixie says at the beginning makes no real sense. And then you find out *spoiler alert* (just for the lols) that they all go to America anyway, so how exactly is this a competition?!
One guy gets massively drunk the night before, hits the other guy, then is sick the next morning, and is still allowed to progress, ******* ridiculous! I know that wrestling is all about kayfabe but it is an insult to the viewer, the wrestlers, and professional wrestling itself to make believe that any company in the industry would legitimately allow someone who did this to go any further in the competition…then again, Jeff Hardy. Still the whole thing is clearly fake, and I’m not talking the usual level of ‘some scenes have been added or exaggerated for entertainment purposes’ I mean the whole thing, every line feels scripted and forced, every angle is delivered so simply that it feels like a four year old wrote the script and directed the program. How TNA thought this would make a compelling product for a UK audience is beyond me, This is TNA at its worst and it underlines just how flawed the company still is as a whole in its perception of what the fans want and what will make non-fans want to tune in. It’s a ******* joke. One last thing: At the start of the first episode they have Dixie talking to Hogan about the show’s contestants, she actually says that the candidates he picked are “the most diverse” range he could have: there are four of them, and two of them are twins! **** me!
That’s all for this week, it looks like the next few Raws are going to be something to watch and hopefully Impact will raise the bar as well trying to compete. Things are still very much unconfirmed for Wrestlemania so there is everything to play for in the WWE, and with TNA you just get the feeling that the entire landscape could change with the emergence of a new star or business deal at any time, so there really is everything to play for if you are a wrestler in either company. I expect a bunch of interesting occurrences and rising stars as 2013 rolls on, for now though this is James Wright signing off.