Daniel Bryan faces Randy Orton for the vacant WWE Title as WWE presents Hell in a Cell! Plus CM Punk takes on Ryback and Paul Heyman in the Cell, John Cena faces Alberto Del Rio and more!
Daniel Bryan will win the WWE Title, again, at WWE Battleground only for it to be taken away from him? YES: WWE really seems to appreciate dangling the carrot both in front of Daniel Bryan, and in front of his fans. The whole point of this feud is that Bryan *IS* in fact as good as Orton (if not better), but he’ll keep getting screwed out of his rightful place by the mean bosses who don’t like him. Sure, it’s possible that Randy Orton might just win through some shenanigans to screw Bryan in a more traditional sense, but I can definitely see another Bryan win wiped away. Though, I guess I should consider that WWE probably doesn’t want to cause more cable companies to lose money in the form of refunds, so maybe they will make the manipulation a bit more transparent this time around. Eh, screw it, and screw the cable companies!
You are BUYING the WWE Battleground PPV? NO: The last time I was in FoF, I got some grief for short answers. But, seriously now, do you want to read a whole paragraph about why I’m not buying Battleground? I’m just not buying it. Not with monster UFC events and Survivor Series around the corner. Battleground might end up being a fun event, and if so, I’ll grab the DVD or something. But no, I’m not getting the pay per view. I’ll still complain about things I don’t like, which should drive the “you didn’t watch it!” crew bonkers.
The Miz has been a complete failure as a babyface? YES: Another answer I don’t feel the need to stretch out into four paragraphs. The Miz as a babyface has been atrocious from the get go. Worse than Alberto Del Rio, and they had the sense to change him back to heel! The Miz is a smarmy jerk, and not a cool one like The Rock. The whole “Really?” thing is perfect for a heel, because all it shows when you say that is that you have no actual comeback, and would instead like to pause for time by attempting to discredit everything said to you in a sarcastic tone. When a face does it, it just looks like you’re too afraid to just beat up the heel talking junk. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I don’t even consider myself a Miz Hater, but man, the Miz should never, ever be a face.
Even after all these years, Mean Gene Okerlund is still the best interviewer of all time? YES: Yeah, and there’s nobody even close. I guess by sheer longevity somebody like Josh Matthews or his dad (according to Road Dogg, anyway) Ken Resnick would have to be a distant second. But Mean Gene was not a guy that was sometimes a manager, sometimes a c-show commentator, and also a backstage interviewer. He also didn’t get there by being a failed wrestler. He was an interviewer, plain and simple, and he was damn good at it. He never shied away from criticizing heels, yet even the worst of them would never lay a hand on him. He had an air of absolute confidence and professionalism, even when he was getting flecked by Ultimate Warrior sputum.
TNA looking to take Impact off the road is another bad sign of the promotion’s financial stability? YES: They’re going to get off the road because it’s not a financially sound business plan. They are, I would assume, losing money because the cost to travel and take the equipment and staging all over the country is more than what they’re making back from ticket sales. It also hasn’t helped the ratings any more than bringing in any of the “big names” that they’re paid shit tons of money to year after year — I don’t know how their deal works with Spike and advertising money, but I’d bet that if they got ratings above 2, for example, instead of barely hovering around 1.1, TNA would make more money from TV advertising. Is leaving the road a sign that TNA is financially unstable? Not necessarily, no. They might just not be seeing the returns they were expecting in the time period they were expecting and they’re packing it in to come up with a new game plan. Based on their history, however, I don’t think that’s the case. I think they realize they made a bad move because suddenly they’re losing much more money than normal and Daddy Carter is telling Dixie she’s going to lose some of his backing if she doesn’t stop it. Something to that effect, at least.
Jim Ross is correct when he says that Daniel Bryan “is the best in ring performer in the business? YES: He has been since 2006, and he might be even better now than he was then. The man understands the mechanics of wrestling. He got to where he is because of his fundamental grasp of in-ring psychology and pure, technical wrestling. Since he entered WWE three years ago, we’ve all seen him blossom into one of the best babyfaces in the last ten years, honing his now tremendous promo abilities as a heel before that. It isn’t hyperbole when I say he’s one of the most complete packages since Eddie Guerrero walked the earth. I truly believe that there will never be another talent like him. You can call Punk the best in the world, but I wouldn’t put him on the same level as Bryan for a second.
With reports that TNA is looking to cut costs, it would be the best for business to not re-sign Hulk Hogan when his contract expires in October? YES: It would be best for business if Hogan were let go on October 1st whether TNA was looking to cut costs or not. The man has improved nothing for TNA and him getting a paycheck for doing next-to-nothing is an insult to the guys who bust their asses and kill themselves every night in the ring. That brings down morale and is simply shameful. Dixie got swindled by Hogan and Bischoff, and I think she might finally believe the people who have been telling her that for two years. I know it’s the IWC cliché to bust on Hogan and his ilk for being like cancer, but there’s a reason things become clichés.
Adam Cole was the right choice to win the Title Tournament and become the new ROH World Champion? YES: His character throughout the past 3-4 months has been one of the best things in a middling year for Ring of Honor, so on that basis, he was absolutely the right choice. You could make a valid, valid argument for Michael Elgin as ROH World Champion, and frankly I’d agree with your average fan on a lot of points. For instance, I think Michael Elgin is the better worker. In terms of excitement and excellent matches, not many in North America can match him at the moment. I would be just as supportive if he won the belt. But if there’s one thing he lacks, it’s a definitive personality. Adam Cole has proven throughout his tenure as PWG World Champion that he has an uncanny knack for being a heel. ROH doesn’t have many wrestlers that truly shine gimmick-wise aside from reDRagon, Jay Briscoe, and Kevin Steen, so I think Cole is going to be a very worthy champion in the coming months. Hopefully Ring of Honor lets him cut loose and show what we’ve all been seeing thrive in PWG for a year.
Stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE Title was a great next move in the ongoing angle between Bryan and the Triple H led corporation? YES: The decision to strip Daniel Bryan of his title was definitely what’s “best for business.” The money is always in the chase. This rivalry is basically the entire direction of the company at this point. It encompasses nearly all of the main roster and a lot of them have a pretty solid shot at getting themselves more over than they were before this whole shebang started. Every time Triple H knocks Daniel Bryan down a peg, the crowd will want Bryan to win the big one that much more. Anybody who associates with Bryan is going to be cool with the fans for supporting their boy, D-Bry. That’s not to say this angle is without issues. If they’re trying to tell the underdog story, letting him win the big one twice in a month doesn’t put heat on anybody besides Triple H. I want to watch him scrape and claw his way to the gold. He’s already proven he can beat the two biggest stars in the company now. If they keep giving him the championship and pulling the rug out from under him, not as many people are going to bite when he finally has “the real” title win.
The Night of Champions PPV was one of the worst PPVs of 2013? YES: Without question. They opened up with a 15-minute talky segment that accomplished the same thing a short backstage segment could have. I know it’s been said to death already by everybody else, but don’t make the $45 Pay-Per-View I just ordered feel like an episode of Raw. It’s not much to ask for. So anyways, you have a boring opening, two impromptu matches, and a terrible divas match, all the while almost every other match under-delivered. The only bright spot on the show was Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan. Imagine how amazing it could have been if they cut the opening segment and tacked an extra ten minutes onto it though. I stand by this being the worst PPV of the year so far. 2013’s other poor events had more to offer in my opinion. I suppose the silver lining is that the card looked pretty bad going in, so at least I wasn’t too disappointed.
You would be perfectly fine if the authority figure in wrestling disappeared for a while? NO: I would have said yes on this one. The point is that The Corporation 2.0 storyline has proven that it can still feel fresh and be well done though. An authority figure with a little more depth than “make it a tag team match, playa” is still relevant in the landscape of wrestling today and the proof is right in front of our eyes. When creative is actually being, well, creative with their authority figures, they can be used to great effect. Right now, any match on the card booked by Triple H feels just a little more important than it would have if the wrestlers just walked down the ramp and wrestled. With that said, I’m perfectly fine with the “booking crutch” authority figures hitting the bricks. They’re just there to make matches with little to no character investment in why they’re making matches other than their face/heel alignment. The announcers can get those orders over the headset and break the news to us without wasting screen time. Those are the ones that have us clamoring for the demise of the authority figure role.
Was Diesel a bad choice to be a WWF champion? YES: I’m really torn on this one. I don’t see Diesel as one of the great WWF Champions by any stretch of the imagination, but equally I don’t see his reign as being without some redeeming features. He had a cracking battle with Bret Hart at Survivor Series 1995 which also turned out to have some historical value, and prior to that his bout with Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XI was one of the show’s very few high points. The fact that his title reign coincided with such a dramatic decline for the WWF is, in my eyes, neither here nor there, as the Fed’s issues went far beyond their choice of champion. Despite all that, he can take a fair shame of the blame for some lacklustre matches, and though it lasted almost a year his reign was bereft of anything truly noteworthy until its dramatic ending. I’ll say yes based on the belief that there were better options as WWF Champion. I could be swayed though.
Daniel Bryan getting laid out every week doesn’t help his cause as top babyface? NO: It’s not so much the laying out itself that’s deleterious to Bryan’s credibility. It wouldn’t be so bad if he were fairly beating his opponents and then getting trounced post-match, even ending the show under Randy Orton’s heel. But DQ wins do not a credible babyface challenger make, and every time that Big Show (a guy who lost clean to top babyfaces approximately 429 times last year) refuses to fight Bryan FOR BRYAN’S OWN SAFETY a little more of the fans’ goodwill gets chipped away. Steve Austin, John Cena, Hulk Hogan, and Bret Hart got beaten up all the time by their foes, but those foes never wept from pity.
Big Show looks weak for siding with the McMahons against Daniel Bryan? NO: I’m saying no because it can’t realistically last much longer. Big Show has been blubbering all over my television for weeks now, and the “Quarter-Ton Crybaby” doesn’t seem like a license to print money. He’s going to snap and turn against Triple H well before Survivor Series, where he might turn yet again because he’s the Big Show. If anything makes Big Show look weak it’s his schizophrenic booking in general, which includes both his alarmingly frequent switching between heel and face and his indecision about whether he can actually win a wrestling match or not.
Cody Rhodes will become a big star when he returns to WWE? YES: All WWE needs to do is constantly remind fans that they want to see Cody Rhodes; have Randy Orton or Triple H constantly gloat about Cody’s loss of livelihood, and the reaction for his return will be huge. Is it too early to call Cody Rhodes as a surprise return to round out Daniel Bryan’s Survivor Series team?This is the moment that his babyface run has so far lacked, and Cody can pull it off, especially if he defeats Orton or HHH in decisive fashion. If he can finally turn that moment into a feud of equals with Randy Orton, all the better.
Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards will get signed by WWE? YES: Ever since CM Punk and Daniel Bryan turned out to be phenomenal successes, WWE seems committed to picking up all of the high-profile stars that they can. If and when Triple H’s tag team revival picks up again, the American Wolves would be an excellent choice to round out the division. The only factor working against them is size, but if Bryan got signed why not them? They’re all former ROH champs of roughly the same size, and as far as WWE can tell that means they’re identical. I will cover my ass by pointing out that I’m saying they’ll get signed, not necessarily that they’ll be used properly or even get called up from developmental, however.
AJ Lee’s “shoot promo” was better than AJ Styles’ “shoot promo”? YES: Yes because it was shorter. If Styles’ promo time had been cut in half, he probably could have eliminated a lot of useless exposition and awkward pauses, and then his would have been better because the Bellas were not standing too close to a live mic and mooing at him to bring it on. As it was, Lee started her promo as a heel and was getting a face reaction by the end, while Styles actually lost a bit of fan support by the time he wrapped things up. Also: anyone else feel a bit bad for Natalya during all this?
Aces & Eights is one of the weakest supergroups in wrestling history? YES: I was ready to dispute the very desgination “supergroup” until I realized that Bully Ray, Mr. Anderson and Taz are all former world champions. That said, man, do these guys ever suck. TNA’s top babyfaces have been spending more than a year trying to beat a group whose muscle consists of Wes Brisco, Garrett Bischoff and the former Mike Knox. Sting’s partnership with RoboCop is more believable than the idea that it’s taken him this long to defeat these slobs. It’s like the nWo b-team all over again, with the same amount of in-fighting drama and a slightly higher count of leather vests.
Eric Bischoff should be given complete control of TNA? NO: Unless you mean in a euthanistic capacity. I mean, if we look at Eric Bischoff’s creative life, he has had exactly four ideas: book cruiserweights; feature Hulk Hogan prominently; create an all-powerful heel stable; compete in primetime with WWE (keep in mind that this first of these can easily be jettisoned in favor of the latter three). TNA has tried all of the above in the past few years to approximately zero success, and Bischoff’s response to these ideas not working is normally to change the shirts the heel stable is wearing. I’m going to have to say that Eric, denied access to the accounts of a billionaire personally invested in defeating Vince McMahon, is not the man for the job.
Could Sting have had a better career in the WWF than WCW? YES: I’m saying yes on this, based upon two single solitary matches: Hogan/Sting at Starrcade 1997 . . . . and Hogan/Sting at SuperBrawl 1998.bThese two matches should have represented the zenith of Sting’s WCW career, the moment when their franchise player unseated the hottest heel of the decade to win the world championship and cement his legacy. However, Sting needed help in BOTH matches, and he lost the title to Randy Savage after a one PPV defense against Scott Hall of all people. And sadly enough, this did wind up being the highlight of his career; with over twenty years in the business. Sting never once had a moment as powerful as the Warrior’s WrestleMania title win. But let’s say that Steve Borden debuts in the late 80’s WWF. The Warrior, who is remembered fondly by casual fans despite being a pretty bad wrestler and kind of a jerk, lasted only a few years. Sting was a guy that could do everything the Warrior could, but better, and be the kind of company man that Undertaker has been. And remember, Sting has never stopped changing with the times; he wouldn’t necessarily looked out of place in any era of the WWF. And we’d also be able to talk about his classic matches with Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Steve Austin, and yes, the Undertaker. But all of that is worth sacrificing out of loyalty to a company that literally used him right once.
Daniel Bryan’s corporate makeover will result in his beard being shaved? NO: D-Bry’s beard is part of his gimmick at this point. I could conceivably see it being trimmed, but I don’t see it being shaved. The guy looks like a little kid when he doesn’t have the facial hair and I think Vince wants the main eventers to at least look like they don’t need to be carded in bars. Honestly, it wouldn’t bother me if he did shave the beard but I just don’t see a reason for it to happen.
TNA’s release of Jesse Sorensen was a mistake? AS I SAID ON THE WRESTLING FORUM THIS PAST MONDAY NIGHT, IT’S A YES: Let me be clear here: from a corporate standpoint it was a decision that had to be made. There are a lot of reasons for this; Sorensen was being paid a lot more than someone in his position was making and TNA seriously needs to cut costs. They had spent a ton of money taking care of him and gone out of their way to make sure that Sorensen was supported and being allowed to make a living after his neck injury, for what was essentially a few days of work a month. Sorensen wanted to get back in the ring also, which would have been a huge potential liability for the company and there was always the chance he would figure out a way to do independent bookings (remember, TNA lets their talent do that) while under TNA’s employ which, if he was re-injured, would then come back on the company. So I truly believe it was a decision they struggled with and ultimately felt they had to make. Now that we have that out of the way, I have to say that the amount of negative publicity they’ve gained for doing so probably outweighs any financial problems. Listen, Dixie Carter said that Sorensen “would have a job for life.” And a lot of people, especially in the days where corporations are viewed in particularly negative lights, are taking that seriously. Unfortunately, that quote is haunting Dixie big time now (more on what’s haunting Dixie next question!). This steamrolled into a collision of bad press that combined with all the talent cut news to paint TNA as a company coming apart at the seams, and so while I think that it was a decision that TNA felt they had to make for their own welfare, the timing was piss-poor and should have been made at a later date, if at all.
Twitter wrestling fans went too far with their usage of #AskDixie? NO: It’s freaking Twitter, man. My perspective on what is considered “too far” for fans to say on social networking hit its limits when Justin Bieber fans were sending death threatsen masseto Selena Gomez for loving on their boy, or when video game misogynists replied to a reasonable observation about how few female video game protagonists there were in the next-gen consoles with rape threats and worse. I didn’t read every tweet r even a majority of them, but I read a few and most of them were funny and certainly not violent, racist, misogynist or homophobic. That’s what I consider to be “crossing the line.” Dixie should have known better than to open up a Q&A in the middle of the company’s worst press in months and while I don’t think the IWC did anything smart to endear itself to the wrestling industry here, I don’t think anyone should be surprised, either.
The mystery man entering TNA on August 1 will be Low Ki? NO: Well, the voice (and the ears) certainly look like it could be him, although there’s definitely some voice modulation at play. I just can’t help but feel that this seems like a waste if the pay-off is Low Ki, who is a decent wrestler with a past in TNA, but who I also don’t see as a really big deal to have coming in. Plus, where would he fit in, given that the main event is all about Aces and Eights and Main Event Mafia, and the rest of the relevant card is locked up in the BFG Series? As to who else it might be, well rumor has it that it could be Tito Ortiz where earlier Rampage Jackson announced during the Bellator event that he was going to face Tito Ortiz November 2nd on Bellator debut on PPV. Another name that has been thrown around is Adam Pierce who earlier this year was in a gut check matchup.
Daniel Bryan has no chance of beating John Cena at SummerSlam? NO: It’s a long shot, but Bryan has been on quite a hot streak lately, and has the fan base. Granted, booking 101 dictates that the hotter the challenger, the less likely they are to win the first match. Of course, that’s been the rule for so long that fans now expect the hot challenger to lose, so the swerve is actually having them win (there were no swerves in HHH’s 2002 title run). Having said that, “booking” is completely up to Vince McMahon – we can guess, and discuss history, but at the end of the day, our speculation means jack. There’s 3.5 weeks left til SummerSlam – anything can happen. Cena could come out next week and face 10 men in a gauntlet match, making him the strong one who will lose. Or Bryan could be in the dog house for his potential fiance showing a little too much skin on Raw. Or Cena could be in the doghouse for Vince thinking it was his Bella that showed too much skin on Raw. I don’t think Bryan will beat Cena, but I’m not betting against it.
Did I enjoy Chris Jericho’s 2013 run? YES: On one hand, Jericho’s one of my favorites, so I’m always excited when he comes back. On the other hand, his losses to Ryback and Fandango were meaningless – they didn’t hurt him, but they didn’t help his opponents either. I did enjoy the build-up to his match with Punk (and the match itself), and his match with RVD on Raw, but that was it. I’d like to see more stuff like that from his returns in the future, otherwise they’ll become meaningless.
Bully Ray should still be TNA World Champion? NO: I follow TNA – TV, PPVs, house shows. I do not think they are perfect. Quite often, I find myself shaking my head at the things they do, but I do like them. Going into DX, I wanted Sabin to win, but figured there was no chance in hell it would happen. And then Sabin won! TNA finally rewarded me as a fan for putting up with all the stupid things they do! I’m sure Bully will win it back soon enough, and knowing TNA, this little title run of Sabin’s will be forgotten, but for now, I’m glad TNA surprised me and put the strap on Sabin. Having said that, the timing of it could’ve been better – Bully’s leading a bunch of losers against the Mafia, and he’s the top guy right now, and was really benefiting from having the strap, so losing it right now might not have been the best call, but I don’t think it’s going to derail anything TNA has planned for him.
Chris Sabin will have a successful TNA World Title reign? NO: I really hope I’m wrong. I hope Sabin has a good title run, and this ends up being the first of many for him. But TNA’s track-record isn’t all that great with new champs. Bully is an exception, as his first title run has been really good, this loss included. AJ Styles, James Storm, Samoa Joe, Ken Anderson, and RVD were 5 guys whose title reigns I was looking forward to, and none of them had what I would consider “successful” title reigns. I attribute this more to TNA than the wrestlers themselves.