What If – Blockbuster Wrestling Feuds That Never Happened

Hulk Hogan Stone Cold Steve AustinJamie Lithgow

Today I conclude my series on feuds by asking the question that all wrestling fans ask themselves at one point or another; what if? Listed below are some blockbuster feuds that never actually happened. This is total fantasy booking so to reign myself back to the world of reality I am only considering feuds that actually could have happened, i.e. wrestlers who were/are active around the same time. In no particular order here is my top 5. Continue reading

Sunday Sermon: Should WWE use more licensed music for wrestler entrance themes?

Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow and James Giles

Jamie: This topic was born out of me day-dreaming as I was walking down the street. I was listening to Keep Me by The Black Keys and thought it would be a great entrance theme for a wrestler. In fact if I were a wrestler I would be inclined to use it myself. It’s a song that would have been perfect for The Undertaker during his biker phase, or pretty much any heel that meanders to the ring at his own pace, CM Punk for example. It’s one of those songs that makes you walk with a certain “swagger”, so I guess if I were a wrestler I would need to reach CM Punk or Undertaker level of brilliance in order to pull it off. I’d better get training then…

Thinking more deeply about it, I think the music WWE uses for its performers is, on the whole, pretty bland. I understand why they don’t, but I would love WWE to use more licensed music for their performers. The right song can really do wonders for a wrestler, just look at The Sandman in the original ECW. His entrance using Metallica’s Enter Sandman was often better than his actual matches. CM Punk is currently the only wrestler permitted to use a notable licensed song and it fits his heel persona perfectly, although Cult of Personality was an odd choice when he was a babyface though.

Back to some songs that I would like to hear and I think a lot of Prodigy songs would work. Boxer Joe Calzaghe used Spitfire for his ring walk and I think this would fit a wrestler with an intense style, like Randy Orton perhaps. I also like the Dredd soundtrack, this whole album fits with darker, edgier superstars like NXT tag team The Ascension. At the moment they have this epic, slightly operatic song that, even for them, is a little over the top. Something equally as dark but more understated would fit the bill, and Paul Leonard-Morgan’s soundtrack to Dredd is a good shout for that.

Craig: What an amusing topic for chat.  My ring tone is Bret Hart’s theme but I guess that is probably unavailable eh? I guess it depends on the gimmick. If for some reason WWE signed me, maybe they, what with my ginger hair and Scottish origin, would go for a stereotypical Scottish gimmick eh? Kilts and bagpipes and all that.

As a fan of southern rock I’d like some sort of country music/southern rock tune as my intro but Heath Slater and James Storm have that angle covered too. Ultimately then probably some fuzzy power chord riff, pretty generic I know. I’d be happy for Jim Johnston to compose something for me though

James: Yeah this is an excellent topic, I quite often think of how songs would work as entrance themes when I’m listening to music. The other day I thought Biffy Clyro’s song Stingin’ Bell would be perfect to use for Sheamus, probably just once though as a Wrestlemania entrance; it would be awesome to actually have bagpipers lined up down the ramp as he made his entrance (and preferably have the band live) and fits the gimmick perfect. Cochise by Audioslave would be an epic choice for any monster heel really but would suit Brock Lesnar very well.

WWE is too tight when it comes to licensing music, some of best entrance themes have been smartly used famous songs. The Sandman example is apt, Sting also used a Metallica track, a live version of Seek and Destroy, and Hogan’s best theme was Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Child (Slight Return). WWE is obsessed with trying to integrate itself with the rest of popular culture and it is amazing to me they don’t take advantage of this more.

Craig: It’s mostly to do with money that the WWE don’t use it more. I hate hearing dubbed over music in WWE DVD releases – the Demolition music being the most frustrating. I guess they’d rather own their own music rather than paying a few cents here and there to some musician every time their music appears in a video game or on a DVD.

By and large wrestling music is very generic – TNA arguably being the worst. So many guys now just have such bland music. I’m thinking your McGillicuttys etc. It’s hard enough for these guys to break from obscurity as it is. At least a stand out music track might be a step in the right direction.

Jamie: TNA are the worst for generic music, although they can be very good when they get it right. I love Christopher Daniels’ music, Jeff Hardy’s is perfect for him, as is James Storm’s and I also quite like Zema Ion’s and Bully Ray’s entrance tunes. At least WWE have reached a level to be able to get recording artists to record songs exclusively for wrestlers to use. Motorhead and Killswitch Engage jump to mind in that respect. However good as some of these songs are I just prefer the idea of a wrestler using a song from out with the ‘WWE Universe’. It offers a kind of window into their personality. Take Wade Barrett for example. I love everything about his character, apart from his entrance. He’s basically an English hard man, complete with rose on his jacket, yet he comes out to a very American sounding song that sounds more suited to someone from NXT. If I had my way he would come out to a Clash song, but even better is that Barrett himself could choose a song that he likes. Some performers, such as Brodus Clay, will always be saddled with entrance songs because they are part of the overall Brodus Clay product. However guys like Barrett, who’s ring entrance isn’t such a big deal, should be allowed to select a song that they like as it will help us as fans identify with who these performers are and what they are about.

Craig: I’d heard Barrett has asked the Manic Street Preachers to record a song for him as he’s a big fan – has a Manics tattoo. That’d be pretty cool especially if it was Generation Terrorist esque stuff. Would work for his character too.

Jamie: I didn’t know that. All the more reason for me to like him because I’ve got a Manics related tattoo as well. We should mention that WWE aren’t too shy of using licensed music. However it tends to be used for events and shows rather than actual superstars. Also, the tracks used are normally special recordings, album tracks or pre-release tracks. That way, in a fans head, whenever they hear the song they will associate it with WWE first. Also, album and pre-release tracks are probably cheaper than established hits. You can understand why they do this but I still feel that using songs people know can only help superstars, especially lower down the card, to make a connection with the audience.

James: Using licensed music really does help the audience connect to superstars and the product in general. The My Sacrifice promo/tribute videos from the 2001 are still some of the most fondly remembered and the Creed track is definitely a big part of that. Marylin Manson’s The Beautiful People has also been used as a theme for RAW and Smackdown and it stands out in my memory over the other show themes.

Getting exclusive tracks from artists is something they should do more too. It’s a great boon for WWE when fans say ‘I heard it on WWE first’, especially with the increase in social media. They should really be encouraging this more.

Craig: James, if you were to mention the idea and the ‘social media’ aspect the WWE then would be all over it! Joking aside, I think the fact it helps distinguish superstars is the biggest reason to use it. Funny you mention the My Sacrifice video as the other day I was thinking about the ‘History’ video, arguably the greatest wrestling video ever. Whenever I hear the Lonely Road of Faith by Kid Rock now, which admittedly isn’t that often, I immediately think of the ‘History’ video.

Jamie: Hey! What’s wrong with Kid Rock?! Anyway… there’s a Jeff Hardy vignette that sticks in my mind purely due to the use of Rooftops by Lost Prophets. I couldn’t tell you the purpose of the video package or when exactly it was used, I just remember it was to promote Jeff Hardy and it used that song. Had the package used an original composition I feel confident I wouldn’t have any recollection of it so the use of licensed music in this instance has had a huge impact on me and surely other fans too.

So it seems like WWE are not too shy about using licensed music, they just tend not to use established songs, which is a real shame. Jim Johnston does a fantastic job, but one of his songs is unlikely to help someone like the aforementioned Michael McGillicutty connect with the fans. Give Mr Perfect Jr. a track by someone like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica or I could even see a Black Stone Cherry song suiting him, and you give the guy a head start to build upon.

Survivor Series 2012: What worked and what didn’t

Craig Wilson

Owing to work, I’ve only just got round to finally watching this year’s Survivor Series and do you know what? It wasn’t too bad at all. Sure, there were some parts that didn’t work out but there were plenty of things that did work.

Overall it was a very solid pay per view card. Sure, we all expected CM Punk to retain – by hook or crook – his title but the undercard was good. Despite the stagnant nature of the division generally, the divas title match was a good little bout with an entertaining whodunit gimmick beforehand.

What didn’t work

Brodus Clay: I was happy at the prospect of another traditional Survivor Series match being added to the card. That said, Brodus’ inclusion made no sense as not only was he the only member of the face team to be eliminated but his elimination is not going to spark a feud that anyone would really care about. It’s fair to say that management have run out of interest in Brodus’ gimmick.

The US Title match: Poor R-Truth. I like Cesaro and he has potential and all but there’s absolutely nothing for R-Truth in this one – he’s obviously being the jobber in this exchange. R-Truth can, and has, had many good matches but his style and Cesaro’s just don’t click. Cesaro needs a break out match soon in order to separate himself from the dressing room. Otherwise it won’t take long until management loses faith in him.

The Miz losing: After a desperately needed face turn it seemed bizarre that The Miz ended up on the losing end in his match. There’s something about The Miz and used right could be a very solid midcarder yet being pinned so soon after a face turn seems somewhat strange.

What did work

Rey, Sin Cara, Kidd and Gabriel surviving: Whilst not the greatest survivor series match we’ll ever see, the opening bout on the PPV showcased the various skills of these four men very successfully. If used right these two teams will play a significant role in improving the tag team division in the WWE. I think it is very fair to say that we’ll be seeing greater things from these four guys soon.

Return of Tamina: That’s right, praise on this blog for something in the divas division. Tamina is clearly one of the better female performers on the WWE roster but needed something to get over. This could be just the angle needed to get her over with the crowd and give her the chance to showcase her undoubted skills.

Sheamus v Big Show: The second card in a row where these two men had a stellar match. Ultimately this match, as well as last month’s , were better than anything seen during Sheamus’ run with the title. I still have my doubts over whether Big Show is the right man to carry that belt but they’ve had a series of great and hard hitting bouts.

Team Ziggler vs Team Foley: Best match of the night and the right ending with Ziggler taking the victory over, in Orton, a former WWE Champion which is just what Dolph needs. Really cannot be long before he cashes in his money in the bank briefcase.

NXT attack Ryback: As is well documented, I’m a huge mark for NXT and it was great to see a number of their superstars show up at the end of the night and jump Ryback and aid Punk in retaining his title. It’s just what these guys, and NXT more generally, needs in order to attract greater interest in their show.

WWE Survivor Series 2012 Predictions

Jamie Lithgow

3MB vs. Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd – YouTube pre-show match

Thank God WWE decided to replace Team Co-Bro with Gabriel and Kidd, but why is this match still just on the pre-show? The card is pretty anaemic so why not give these guys, particularly the newly formed 3MB, a chance to feature on the PPV itself? I wasn’t predicting great things when Santino and Ryder were booked as 3MB’s opponents but with Gabriel and Kidd getting the nod this could be a good little match. I predict that 3MB (as Slater and Mahal) will win, probably due to interference from McIntyre. I don’t mind either team winning this one as I like them both. However as they are new team, 3MB are in line for more attention from the booking team.

Winners – 3MB

Antonio Cesaro (c) vs. R-Truth – United States Championship Match

The function of this match is to try to get Cesaro over with the fans because the result is not in question. The problem is that the fans don’t really care about R-Truth either, so this match will do little for anybody, including the fans.

Winner, and still United States Champion – Antonio Cesaro

Eve (c) vs. Kaitlyn – Divas Championship Match

10 years ago we were spoiled by WWE in terms of female wrestlers. It may not have seemed it at the time but we were blessed with the likes of Trish Stratus and Lita. Now we have this garbage. I don’t give a toss about either performer and have little faith in their ability to construct a half decent match. I would imagine Eve will win as WWE seem more willing to invest time in her rather than the bland and uninteresting Kaitlyn.

Winner, and still Divas Champion – Eve

Team Foley vs. Team Ziggler – 10 man elimination tag team match

I feel I have already voiced my opinions on this match elsewhere on the blog, but the lead up to this match has been disjointed to say the least. Also, why is WWE throwing all its big names that aren’t competing for a title into one match? These guys could have been spread throughout the card. Del Rio and Orton could have been team captains in another elimination tag match, which would have given an excuse for lower card wrestlers to appear on PPV next to the likes of The Viper. Anyway, complaints aside this should be a cracking match for the same reason I disagree with its inclusion. There are so many quality performers in this match that it is pretty much guaranteed match of the night honours. I would suggest that Team Foley take the win, possibly with The Miz being the sole survivor to add some weight to his face turn.

Winners – Team Foley

The Big Show (c) vs. Sheamus – World Heavyweight Championship match

In line with the rest of this feud and everything else The Big Show and Sheamus have been involved in this year; I don’t care. I would guess that Big Show will hold on to the title because he is better placed (i.e. he’s not a merchandise selling babyface) to drop the title to Ziggler when he cashes in his briefcase. On the subject of which; I am not just hoping but I’m actually predicting that Ziggler cashes in at Survivor Series. Cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase could very well be the catalyst for a face turn too. He’s already cheered by large sections of the audience, he has distanced himself a little from Vickie (although is still very much in her camp) and would be cashing in on a heel Big Show. Yes, Ziggler has been clashing with Cena recently but, as we saw from CM Punk last year, that can only help a face turn! There is plenty room for extra goings on given the pathetic card so I think Ziggler and Big Show could very well clash for the title; and for the love of God Ziggler must win. If he’s unsuccessful then I will happily give up and walk away from WWE forever…

Winner, and still World Heavyweight Champion – The Big Show……. until Dolph Ziggler shows up!

CM Punk (c) vs. John Cena vs. Ryback – WWE Championship Match

I’ve disliked the booking on the lead up to this match for the same reasons I’ve disliked the booking of the 10 man tag. That match and this match are all muddled up, WWE has tied itself in knots and nobody appears to be in the correct match. With that said I can’t see past a CM Punk win. If Ryback were going to win the title he would have done so at HIAC, while John Cena is embroiled in this AJ nonsense. Moreover, Punk needs momentum heading into a potential clash with Mick Foley next month, which will lead nicely into his programme with Foley’s mate The Rock. However, there are other avenues WWE could explore, this is Survivor Series after all. I wouldn’t put it passed Vince to utilise the old Montreal finish and screw Punk out of the title. This would mean that Cena would face The Rock at The Royal Rumble, where Punk could potentially get involved and cost Cena the title in order to secure a spot in the main event of Wrestlemania against The Great One. For this to happen I would also suggest Punk enter and win the actual Rumble match itself. I would like this to happen but I have a hunch WWE will opt for the first scenario and have Punk continue his reign until The Rock ends it in January.

Winner, and still WWE Champion – CM Punk

Overall Thoughts
This card looks terrible. I would assume we will get an additional match, probably a traditional Survivor Series match involving the tag team division. There has to be major storyline developments on this show otherwise there will be a lot of unhappy people who will have wasted money on this event. The minimum I expect heading in to Raw on Monday is for Miz to be a babyface, Orton to be a heel and Ziggler to be the World Heavyweight Champion.

Buy or don’t buy: Don’t buy. I have a feeling that something major may happen, but WWE have not offered a good enough card to justify the price of the PPV for me to watch in the first place.

Losing My Religion – Why I’m losing interest in WWE

Jamie Lithgow

I don’t know if this is just me or if it is the message being sent to other fans too, but I’m starting to no longer care about WWE. I’ve genuinely never felt more apathetic towards the WWE product.

In my time as a fan there have been highs where I would dare not miss an episode of Raw. Between 1999 and 2001 I don’t think I missed an episode of Raw or Smackdown. Then between 2002 and 2006 the product took a natural dip from the dizzying highs of the Attitude era. In this time I can’t say I enjoyed WWE as much, in fact I found some of the output downright awful. With that said I still stuck with it because for every turn off there was a turn on, for every Billy & Chuck there was a Brock Lesnar or Kurt Angle. Moreover, I felt a desire for WWE to get better and reach those dizzying highs again. However recently I’ve felt my interest fading away.

If you look back at some of my posts on this blog from around the time of Raw 1000 it was clear back then that my attention and interest in WWE was quickly fading. I have since expressed that CM Punk’s heel turn has reinvigorated my interest. I still find CM Punk entertaining, in fact he’s the reason I watch Raw. The problem is he was the only thing holding my interest and he is still the only thing holding my interest. For me nothing has changed and it’s beginning to wear so thin that CM Punk alone cannot keep watching WWE.

Take last Monday’s Raw for example. The first part of show pitted members of Team Foley against members of Team Ziggler. I’ve already lost interest in this Survivor Series match because I’ve lost track of who’s on what team and what on Earth is going on. If the plan was to book a triple threat main event featuring Ryback and CM Punk then why announce them in this match only to withdraw them a week later? Either WWE is so lacking in long term ideas that the booking of major storylines changes on a week to week basis, or they are amazingly ignorant of fans perceptions. Because of this odd booking decision we now have Dolph Ziggler as a team captain. A fine choice as a team captain, but to the fans he is a substitute i.e. second best. Is that how WWE want fans to view a man who may very well be sporting the big gold belt shortly? What’s worse is that Foley still interacts with Punk and has had little to no face time with his actual opponent Ziggler. Stranger still is that Dolph continues to draw the attention of the other member of the triple threat main event; John Cena. Team Punk vs. Team Foley (featuring Ryback) and John Cena vs. Dolph Ziggler in a match made sense (and actually sounds quite appealing) but what we have now is a complete mess. There are rivalries heading into Survivor Series but nobody seems to be in the right match. If the team captains in the 10 man tag are distracted and don’t appear to care about the match then why should I as a fan? Equally, Punk appears to be focussed on Foley while Cena on Ziggler. Cena’s feud with Ziggler also has the added ‘did they/didn’t they’ angle with AJ so why did the writers add him to the title picture when he has all this going on?

Another reason why I am losing interest, particularly in the Survivor Series event, is that most of WWE’s main players that fans genuinely care about are competing for attention in one match. The ultra over Team Hell No, the very over pairing of Rhodes Scholars, on the cusp of a babyface turn The Miz, soon to turn heel headliner Randy Orton and the ever popular IC Champion Kofi Kingston. With all these superstars playing minor roles in one match what on Earth does the rest of the card look like? Awful is the answer. There have been just 5 matches announced, and that’s with them scraping the bottom of the barrel. Antonia Cesaro vs. R-Truth is a Superstars match at best, nobody cares about Eve vs. Kaitlyn and Big Show vs. Sheamus for the World Title is a complete insult of a championship feud. I can’t believe WWE let an obese, 40 year old giant appear on television, never mind hold the World Heavyweight Title.

The fact that I feel the need to write about my lack of interest in WWE’s current output tells me that I do still care, but I don’t know how much longer I can be bothered with it. The only reason I watch Raw is CM Punk, no word of a lie. I don’t care if John Cena slept with AJ, I don’t find Kane and Daniel Bryan amusing and as quickly as I started to warm to him I’m starting to sour against Ryback.

Ryback was fine the way he was, he was a monster that kept himself to himself and kicked ass in his matches. What’s different now? He’s no longer a wrestler/superstar; he’s a brand, a product. What kind of bad ass monster would encourage the crowd to chant along with him? He should be beating the crap out of his opponents and not pandering to the little kids in the crowd. The fans got behind Ryback because he was different from the other superstars, but slowly but surely he’s becoming the same, catchphrases and all.

Surely WWE knows how pants their shows have been the last few weeks and even a blind man can see how bad Survivor Series looks. I am crossing my fingers for major developments at this PPV. We need The Miz to turn face, Orton should turn heel, Ziggler needs to cash that briefcase in and we need the Rock to show up, failing that Lesnar or The Undertaker. If Survivor Series turns out to be a straight down the line show without any twists, turns or surprises then WWE can count me out of their fan base for the foreseeable future.

Wrestlemania XXIX: Rumours and Personal Choices

James Giles

The Survivor Series PPV is only two weeks away now, and historically it is the place that WWE begins laying the path towards Wrestlemania and dropping some hints about who might be colliding at the Showcase of the Immortals. So far only two matches have been announced; Team Foley Vs Team Punk and The Big Show Vs Sheamus, neither of which give away much. Having said that, there have been plenty of rumours about what WWE has planned, so here I’m going to take a look at those match ups, and give my own personal choices for WMXXIX.

Rumoured bouts

CM Punk Vs Ryback

The fact that WWE has not booked them in a straight rematch but as members of opposing teams at Survivor Series indicates that they probably see some mileage in this feud. Keeping them apart or only having them tussle briefly is good way to build anticipation before their one-on-one rematch, and I cant see WWE blowing this feud off in a Survivor Series match. Whether they will fight for the title is hard to say; Punk is set to clash with The Rock at the Rumble, so he could drop it there and make his bout with Ryback all about the grudge. However, if WWE really wants to get their Goldberg-knockoff over for good, they should probably have him be wrestler to finally dethrone Punk after his epic reign.

The biggest question is would the match actually be any good? Ryback hasn’t show the ability to work long bouts yet, but there is pretty simple way they could book it to make it effective; have Punk take the early advantage with some cheap shot, throw all his best moves at Ryback to no avail, and then have the monster make his comeback and flatten Punk with a series of power moves for the win and championship. It isn’t one I’m enthusiastic about to be honest, but they could make it work on the night.

HHH Vs Brock Lesnar

This rematch has to happen at some point, purely because Lesnar is now one up on HHH and wrestling always works on a tit-for-tat basis, especially among the big stars. Lesnar is scheduled to appear at the Rumble, so there are plenty of ways WWE can advance the feud here; Lesnar could defeat someone else one-on-one to make him look stronger still, or he could enter the Rumble and HHH could cost him the match, giving them further impetus for a rematch. Despite the rumours though, I feel this is more likely to take place at the Rumble itself; there are more interesting opponents for both at ‘Mania and it would strengthen the under-card, which is often weak at the Royal Rumble.

I’d be quite happy to see it at either show though, as their Summerslam bout was engaging but left me wanting more. If they booked them in some sort of gimmick bout, it would leave them more short-cuts to use, and also (potentially) be very different to their first encounter.

The Undertaker Vs John Cena

Apparently John Cena is currently the front runner for ‘Takers WM opponent and in a way it isn’t hard to see why; after the string of epic HBK and HHH matches at the last several shows, WWE has built the expectation for ‘Takers matches very high, so they could hardly go back to booking him against a Mark Henry (for example). There are very few huge name superstars he has yet to clash with at ‘Mania, and there are fewer still fans believe would have chance with The Deadman. For these reasons, Cena as his opponent does make sense; fans would buy him a threat purely because of his status, and it has been an age since they clashed in a singles match.

Would it be any good though? Well even with Undertakers advancing age and deteriorating physical condition, he still has the ability to assemble utterly thrilling and engaging matches unlike anyone else on the roster, and I imagine Cena would be inspired by such a different and legendary adversary (and also knowing full well the legacy of facing Taker at ‘Mania). Plus, they have actually had a few crackers in the past, so that bodes well, and it isn’t often you get to see a Cena bout and know full well he isn’t going over!

Personal Choices

The Rock Vs HHH

The likelihood of this taking place is probably pretty bloody slim, but this would be a dream ‘Mania match for me. I loved their feud in 2000, and they always had tremendous chemistry and fantastic matches (forget HBK vs Bret Hart; Rock and Hunter showed how to really do a brilliant Iron Man match at Judgment Day 2000). There is so much history between them that they could do some excellent promos in the build up, and I don’t doubt that they could assemble another classic match. They have never had a singles match at ‘Mania either and it would be a great way to pay homage to their massive part in WWE history.

C’mon WWE, make this match happen, if just for the sake of my nostalgia!

The Undertaker Vs Brock Lesnar

Along with Cena (and The Rock) Lesnar is one of the few mega-stars that hasn’t faced Taker at ‘Mania and could still pose a believable threat to the streak. They had some very good bouts during Lesnar’s original run (in particular, an insanely bloody HIAC clash) and there is plenty of history WWE could build on to make this feud engaging. Unlike The Rock or Cena pairings, it would be a lot easier to play it straight down the middle, with Lesnar much more clearly defined as the heel, and Taker obviously the face. The fact both men love MMA means they would likely have very brutal, stiff match, and it would undoubtedly be very different to everything else on the card.

Dolph Ziggler Vs CM Punk

Ziggler is so ready to be elevated to the top of the card, but WWE can’t seem to make up their mind with him. For every bonus they give him (MITB win, defeating Jericho on RAW) they take two away, with his repeated loses or even omissions from PPV. Despite this the fans are still behind him, and although he is technically a heel, he could be pushed to a top face spot by defeating Punk and ending his championship reign at WM. They would likely have a tremendous back and forth bout, and if they built the tension just right, the crowd would go nuts for Ziggler’s clean pin-fall win.

Much like some of the above matches, I think the chances of this happening are fairly slim, based purely on WWE’s indecisiveness with Ziggler, but I can still hope. I would be so depressing to see another potential top tier talent have his chance at the big one thrown away.

Matches they really shouldn’t book

CM Punk Vs John Cena – I can’t believe any sane fan ever wants to see them wrestle again, let alone have Cena be the one who takes Punks title. Please don’t let this happen!

John Cena Vs The Rock – given the hype around last years ‘once in a lifetime’ build, it would be a bit of slap in face to see this booked again. Plus, I don’t feel there is anymore mileage in a feud between them, or anything new they could do in a match.

The Rock Vs The Undertaker – not that I don’t want to see this match, but it has Wrestlemania 30 written all over it, so save it for 2014.

Sunday Sermon: Superstars that deserve a DVD set

Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow and James Giles

Craig: An easy enough one for me, definitely Demolition. I get that they are Road Warrior rip-offs but when I started watching WWE tapes from the late 80s I’d never heard of the Road Warriors but I was blown away by Demolition. Be good to see such a DVD set come out around an introduction into the WWE Hall of Fame which is surely going to happen. It would be also good to see another rivalries set similar to the Bret Hart v Shawn Michaels one. Maybe a Rock v Stone Cold DVD set?

Jamie: Much as I loved Demolition I don’t see them being worthy of the DVD treatment. I just don’t feel that they were around for long enough and towards the end of their run they just kind of fizzled out. They are definitely worth something, maybe a special on the long awaited WWE Network, but I’m just not sure there’s enough material for a full DVD.

My call was going to be Bobby Heenan, but I see that he has a DVD. However this has led me to discover that Andre the Giant hasn’t had the DVD treatment. I know the match quality wouldn’t be too great but I’ve seen a biography of him before and he was quite a character. There’s so many stories to tell about this guy and from the biography I saw he is very fondly remembered so it could be a really good watch, if they ever make it.

Craig: The drinking stories would be absolutely terrific! Well documented but absolutely hilarious none the less.
I can’t think of any current superstar that would deserve the treatment either. Punk deserved his but could you imagine how grim a Big Show or a Sheamus set would be?

Jamie:: I think Big Show has one. I think I watched it on Sky Sports on one of those “WWE Special” shows. It was pretty pants. I didn’t see any matches, not that I wanted to, and his background and stories, while extraordinary, are nothing that you wouldn’t expect to hear from someone who grew up with gigantism. At least Andre has his legendary drinking and partying to fall back on, Big Show is quite a sensible chap in comparison.

I would like to see The Undertaker get the full DVD treatment. He’s got tons on DVDs and videos but all have a theme and are mostly just a collection of matches. I have ‘This is my Yard’ which is probably the best bio on him, it’s a bit too short and is 10 years out of date though. Something more comprehensive on Taker would suit me, like ‘This is my Yard’ just better.

James: Davey Boy Smith is the one is the one id most like to see and I’m surprised one has not been done yet. I know some details of personal life are unsavoury (drug issues, messy divorce etc) but WWE has glossed over these on other releases like Guerrero’s and Brian Pilman’s. Shocking that he isn’t in the Hall of fame either.

Jamie: Ditto that. There was a British Bulldogs video but that hardly counts. For the UK market alone a DVD on Davey Boy would be more than worth the effort.

In terms of current wrestlers I think Daniel Bryan is probably the only one worth a shout. It’s a shame that most of his best matches have happened in other promotions, so WWE would be more than reluctant to showcase them in full.

Oh, and what about William Regal actually? It wouldn’t fly off the shelves like CM Punk’s has but what a quality box set that could be.

James: Yeah, i’m with you on that. There isnt really any on the current roster other than Bryan and Regal. WWE could probably reach an agreement with ROH to use some of Bryans matches but i doubt they will ever reach out to them; they also own the video library of almost every promotion Regal has worked in, so they could put together an excellent package on him.

Of former stars, how about Ted Dibiase? He was massive in the 80’s in WWF and they own all the AWA tapes where DiBiase was also very successful. The fact he is still on good terms with WWE means he would more than likely be available and he has had an interesting life.

Jamie: There’s not a DiBiase DVD? I immediately thought of him but then just assumed he already had one and I just hadn’t seen it. I’ve heard him talk about living the gimmick in order to maintain kayfabe so there must be tons of stories for him to tell. What about Terry Funk? Plenty of mileage in that career for a box set.

James: I know it is crazy. DiBiase seems like such an obvious choice but I couldn’t find any info about a bio DVD online anywhere. I think if WWE were going to do one on the Funker, it would have been when they inducted him into HOF a few years ago. I’ve read that Vince personally doesn’t hold Terry Funk in very high regard personally or professionally, so I doubt we will ever see one on him, although it would be undeniably awesome.

Jamie: Speaking of not being on good terms, although surely Vince’s stance has softened since his passing, Macho Man Randy Savage. I own the Macho Madness box set and while it does provide countless stellar matches that’s all it is. There’s no bio, it’s purely a series of matches. So another shot at a Macho Man DVD would be most welcome.

Craig: Macho is another superstar that should be in the HoF top but by all accounts Vince shouts down any suggestion that he goes in.
It’s crazy to think what stars don’t have a DVD set yet next year another Bret Hart one is out.

James: Seriously, there is another Bret Hart DVD coming out? I can’t really see what else there is left to cover on his career.

As far as Undertaker goes, I doubt we will see another DVD on him till he has retired and gone into the Hall of Fame. Even then, virtually all his best bouts have been seen on one release or the other. I would love to see a bio and retrospective on his whole career but I can’t see that happening for years.

Craig: Yeah there is, it’s a collection of unseen matches. It does strike me as quite unnecessary though and I’m saying that as a huge Bret Hart fan.

A best of the Attitude era DVD would be good – would have worked well to have been released along with WWE13. That said, with Linda running for Senate at the moment they probably don’t want to draw too much attention to that period of the WWE’s history huh?

One More Match: Wrestling feuds that left me begging for more

Jamie Lithgow

In this, the second instalment of my top 5 feuds series I look at the rivalries that left me wanting more. I’m not going to talk about feuds that could easily resume. For example, I enjoyed Christian and Randy Orton’s series last year and would welcome a re-run, but there’s every chance that could happen in the coming months and years. The feuds below have concluded and in all likelihood will never resume.

Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
The most famous wresting feud of the 1990’s and one of the most famous the industry has ever seen. I could write for days about the real life rivalry between The Hitman and The Heartbreak Kid but enough has already been said about this. However, in terms of matches between the pair there’s comparatively little to talk about, which is a real shame. By searching popular tube sites you can find early meetings between the two when they were both tag team wrestlers. The Rockers and Hart Foundation would occasionally cross paths due to both being at or near the top of the tag team division. Unfortunately there was never a full blown feud between the two teams that demanded PPV attention, although they did have a healthy rivalry going in 1990. On October 30th of that year The Rockers won the WWF Tag Team Titles from The Hart Foundation in a 2 out of 3 falls match at a TV taping in Fort Wayne, Indiana. However for reasons which differ depending on who tells the story the match never aired, nor did The Rockers title defence against the Powers of Pain a few nights later, and the Hart Foundation continued as champs as if nothing had ever happened.

Onwards to their solo careers and believe it or not the pair only met 3 times on PPV. From the onset of Michael’s heel turn and solo run he was positioned as the proverbial thorn in The Hitman’s side. Both men were ascending the WWF ladder with Bret being a couple of rungs above Shawn at this time. However, as both were making strides they tended to be booked against each other on house shows throughout 1992 and into 1993. This house show and occasional television feud eventually did make it onto PPV in the main event of the 6th annual Survivor Series in 1992. WWF Champion Hart successfully defended the gold against Intercontinental Champion HBK, whose title wasn’t at stake. This is still my favourite match between the two, Bret is in his prime while Shawn, although still a little rough around the edges, is not far off his legendary peak either.

From this point on the two were separated most of the time because Vince obviously knew that a match between them for the WWF title would be big box office once Shawn had reached that level. Even with that said I would have expected them to have met more than twice before Bret left for WCW. They had their legendary 60 minute Iron Man Match at Wrestlemania 12 where “the boyhood dream came true for Shawn Michaels”. This is a love it or hate match for most people, I hate it. The 60 minutes ended at 0-0! Michaels won the title in sudden death overtime. Their final encounter occurred in Montreal at the 1997 Survivor Series, and we all know what happened there. This match was supposed to happen at Wrestlemania 13, as the original plan was for Michaels to repay the favour one year on from the Iron Man Match. Oh how I would have loved this match to have happened. The only matches that exist between the two when they were the biggest stars in the company are the 60+ minute snore fest and the infamous Survivor Series match, which is good but is obviously overshadowed by the finish. I would have loved for them to have met one on one in a straight match for the title, but I guess both Hart and Michaels had other ideas.

Batista vs. John Cena
Ah Batista, I miss him. I never really got into him until he turned heel but at least he offered an alternative to Cena. For years Batista was presented as Cena’s equal, sort of like an anti Cena. In Fact Big Dave even defeated John Boy at Summerslam 2008.The unfortunate thing for Batista fans is that when he turned heel in late 2009 and transformed himself into one of the best characters on the roster he also offered himself up as the next dragon for Super Cena to slay. Their feud officially began at Elimination Chamber 2010 when Vince granted Batista a WWE Title match immediately following Cena’s victory in the chamber match, which Big Dave won. Batista was granted the match as a favour because he helped Vince attack Bret Hart. The following scraps at Wrestlemania, Extreme Rules and Over the Limit were well received, if a little silly and predictably Cena won all three. In the Last Man Standing match at Extreme Rules Cena duct taped Batista’s legs around the ring post, thus the Animal was unable to stand to answer a 10 count. Granted I laughed at the time, but that’s comedy match stuff that Santino should be doing, not the WWE Champion. After losing on three consecutive PPVs to Cena, Batista came out on the Raw following Over the Limit and quit the company, he has not been seen since.

The match quality wasn’t fantastic with these two but it was certainly watchable and most of that credit should go to Batista. His super arrogant persona was so entertaining and entirely believable. It’s just a shame that Batista had made his mind up to leave. As a heel he had plenty millage left in the tank and surely his series with Cena would have panned out differently had he decided to stick around a little longer.

CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy
This feud was classic booking done in a modern era; the problem was it was so good that I wish it never actually ended. Jeff Hardy had decided to leave the company when his contract expired, so just as in the old school territories when a wrestler moved on Hardy was required to drop the title and put over the wrestler that would take his place at the top of the card. This feud sprung up overnight at Extreme Rules 2009 when CM Punk cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Hardy after Jeff had just won the World Title in a thrilling match against Edge. With this one act the long awaited CM Punk heel turn was on the cards. Punk officially remained a babyface in his first title defence against both Edge and Hardy on Raw and his spirited one on one encounter with Hardy at The Bash. However Punk’s heel turn shortly after this match is what really made this feud. Babyface Punk vs. Babyface Hardy could and did have some good matches, but with a heel Punk this feud exploded into the best thing going in WWE at the time. Claiming the moral high ground Punk would chastise Hardy and his fans for his well-publicised drug problems. The real world references and well known differences in lifestyle helped to build this feud to one of the most enthralling in ages. Fans on all levels could legitimately believe that there could be (and we’re led to believe there was) genuine heat between the two. Marry this with the fact that Jeff Hardy was, and still is, a rare breed of modern babyface who was popular with the masses and respected by the critics. Punk was equally if not more respected and absolutely detestable as a self-righteous, holier than thou heel.

The rivalry built towards Night of Champions where Hardy regained the title and then onwards to Summerslam were Punk took the title back in a truly fantastic TLC match. On the August 28th Smackdown the feud came to a head when the two clashed in a loser leaves WWE cage match. Word had spread that Hardy was leaving so the result was never really in question to most fans who keep up to date with wrestling news, but that didn’t prevent Punk and Hardy putting on a great match.

Of all the feuds on this list this is the one that stands a chance of resuming, primarily because both wrestlers are still active. If Jeff Hardy were to return to WWE then there is absolutely no doubt where he would start; against the man that forced him to leave the company in the first place. What a feud this was, fantastic stuff.

Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair
“If only” perfectly describes this feud. Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24 is considered by many to be one of, if not the best Wrestlemania match ever. That is a debate for another day, but I think we can all agree that this match was an absolute blinder. The reason I say “what if” is because this one match didn’t leave me wanting more, it left me wondering what if Ric Flair had not returned to WCW in 1993 and stayed with WWF throughout the 1990’s.

To my knowledge HBK and The Nature Boy only had three matches of significance against each. These three matches may well be there only three matches they had together, although I have not checked this. The first significant match they had together was not part of any feud, although did spark one for Michaels. The first signs of descent ion within The Rockers tag team began to show in December of 1991 during a singles match pitting Michaels against Flair. Marty Jannetty rolled Michaels back in to the ring, to prevent him from being counted out, only for Flair to score the easy pin due to Michaels’ unconscious state. Shortly after this and a couple of other incidents Michaels turned heel on Jannetty. Although he never worked against Flair at this time, due to both being heels, there are matches to be found with them tagging together.

Unfortunately for all wrestling fans Michaels and Flair spent the next 10 years either in different promotions or not as active wrestlers. The possibilities are endless for what these guys could have done together at a younger age. However the next time they met in any major capacity was at Badd Blood 2003. Rather than built up as the epic encounter that such a clash should have been this match was part of a mini feud tagged o to Triple H’s feud with Kevin Nash. At this time Michaels and The Game were on opposing teams, if you are confused in any way. Triple H was taking on Michael’s buddy Nash inside Hell in a Cell while on the undercard HBK had to settle for Flair, Triple H’s manager/mentor. For the record Flair won with assistance from Randy Orton in a decent enough match, all things considered.

Then we have the big one, the retirement match at Wrestlemania 24. To call their programme a feud heading into the event is probably not justified. This match was born out of respect for each other; the added spice of the retirement stipulation came from Vince, which is whom Flair really had a beef with. The on-going story was that the next time Naitch lost a match he would be forced to retire. So naturally he built up a winning streak, got carried away with himself and decided to challenge a guy called ‘Mr Wrestlemania’ to a match at Wrestlemania. Michael’s reluctantly accepted, before adding a bit of spice of his own by cutting his ‘Old Yeller’ promo on Flair. Then the match, and what a match. I won’t detail it here, just go and watch it.

This feud almost ended up in my “what if” pile because really all there is to it is that one match at Wrestlemania. However that one match did leave me wanting more, albeit more in a “what if” capacity.

The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
For me this is the feud, this is the top of the pile. Others will disagree but from when I was growing up and when I watched wrestling as a kid these were the two top guys without any question about it. This rivalry is a little like the Hitman vs. Michaels feud in that they worked up the card together and became the main event. The major difference is that The Rock and Austin are no strangers to each inside the squared circle.

At the very dawn of Rocky’s Maivia transformation into the ultra-cocky heel The Rock he targeted Stone Cold. In late 1997 the pair battled over the Intercontinental title and you knew then that this was a Wrestlemania main event in the making. Like with Bret vs. Shawn, one was slightly more advanced than the other. Austin was destined for the WWF title while The Rock, albeit superbly, had only just turned heel and was just starting to really connected with the fans. However even at this point you could see the seeds of a long term rivalry being sewn. The Rock was a loud mouth with ideas above his station, and Stone Cold was positioned directly above this station. Not only this, their personalities were chalk and cheese. Austin was the beer drinking, rough around the edges, always wearing the same clothes redneck, while The Rock was the cocky, image conscious jerk with a quick wit and sharp tongue. These two made perfect foes for each other.

In terms of the matches there was a good selection to choose from, but not too many. WWE could have milked this rivalry for all it was worth, but to their credit it wasn’t repeated too many times and always ran its course and no more. This was back when there were other stars to rely on so wrestlers didn’t have to wrestle each other on 3, 4 or 5 PPVs in a row. I suppose most people will just remember their Wrestlemania trilogy from 15, 17 and 19, and rightly so. I would also point these people in the direction of Backlash ‘99, which surpasses their Wrestlemania 15 encounter and in terms of action is possibly their best match. Overall I, like many others, would have to conclude that their best match was the main event of Wrestlemania 17. As with 15 and the Backlash rematch two years previous Austin won. However this time he did it after turning heel and aligning himself with Vince in his home state. I would honestly suggest that this is the last time I can recall the main event of Wrestlemania having a proper big fight feel, a genuine clash of the titans type match. I’ve looked forward to and enjoyed ‘Mania main events since but never sat down before the opening bell and said to myself “here we go”.

The only thing that disappointed me with this feud is that, as fans, we didn’t see an end point, it just happened. At Wrestlemania 19 The Rock (as a heel again) finally defeated Austin on the grand stage. However, unbenounced to us this would be Austin’s last ever match. I’m sure not even Austin knew for sure if he would be able to wrestle again because if he did there would have been no question, this match would have headlined that show and it would have been massive.

This feud, more than any other was timeless. It’s a credit to both Austin and The Rock that even after facing each other so many times I still want to see more.

Next time I conclude my series on feuds by asking “what if” by looking at the potentially massive wrestling feuds that never actually happened.