WWE asks for your support to defend them, Bragging Rights was a middling show in virtually every aspect and Brock Lesnar teases a return to WWE.
Opening Witty Banter
What a weekend! I took in two live wrestling shows, got to see my man crush Brock Lesnar get his butt handed to him and am now hours away from moving and setting up shop in a new town, with a new job and a new roommate. The times they are a changing. But this was one crazy weekend for Minnesota football and fight sports. This edition is going to be a little a different as Iâ€™m going to focus on a few big stories and some commentaries.
Letâ€™s take some â€˜Eâ€¦
The News of the Week
Iâ€™m going to piggy back off of the awesome commentary Ivan Rushfield wrote this past week about â€œStand Up for WWE.â€ He did it first and he did it awesome, but hereâ€™s my taken on things as wellâ€¦
This past week World Wrestling Entertainment has launched a new â€œStand Up for WWEâ€ campaign.
The campaign is aimed at setting the record straight in regards to accusations against the company being presented in the media. According to information released by WWE, the purpose of the campaign is to â€œfight against any attempt to muzzle or trample its First Amendment rightsâ€ and are calling upon its fans, employees and independently contracted talent to unite in a â€œgrassroots effortâ€ to defend the company.
â€œWorld Wrestling Entertainment will not be bullied or intimidated by whining allegations intended to censor our freedom of speech,â€ said Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of WWE.
Throughout the week WWE has set out a full-scale push through their website and their various social networks in order to drum up support for the campaign. They have released numerous attractive, well put together videos, highlighting WWEâ€™s positive aspects, including their work with the Make-a-Wish Foundation, their partnerships with various celebrities over the years and even a particularly rousing video featuring the companyâ€™s employees who have worked for WWE for over a decade and their happiness. In addition they have put together pages highlighting their various outreach and charity programs, a fact sheet and of course a piece debunking various â€œmythsâ€ being perpetrated by the media.
Naturally the company claims that this is all done in order to clear the companyâ€™s name as a squeaky clean Fortune 500 entity and does not have anything to do with former WWE CEO Linda McMahonâ€™s upcoming election in Connecticut for a spot in the U.S. Senate. However clearly much of the companyâ€™s recent media attention has developed because of McMahonâ€™s high profile election race. Combine that with effects still lingering from the 2007 Chris Benoit tragedy and other recent deaths of former pro wrestlers, and frankly WWE and pro wrestling in general are not often portrayed in the media in the positive light, no matter how many wishes John Cena grants for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
WWE is doing their best to portray themselves as a powerless victim abused by the big, bad mainstream news media and claim this is a â€œgrassroots campaignâ€ despite the use of multiple social media platforms and five hours of cable television a week at their disposal to promote their message. On the other side of the coin, WWE presents itself as the â€œworldwide leader in sports-entertainmentâ€ and proudly beats their chest in regards to their success with television ratings, pay per view buyrates, international tours, merchandise sales and the amount of talent and character their independently contracted performers portray on television and in front of arenas of fans.
The company has made a successful transition to a complete TV-PG content level and has done an admiral job of bringing new and young fans back into the fold in hopes of turning them into long-term WWE consumers. However they are completely turning a blind eye to the wildly successful â€œAttitudeâ€ era that shaped the company through the late â€˜90s and early part of the new millennium. While today the company keeps itself as squeaky clean on television as pro wrestling can be, it wasnâ€™t too long ago that the companyâ€™s success was built on the backs of middle fingers, crotch chops, excessive blood, swearing and nudity.
While in this era I cannot fault WWE for trying to hide or forget their TV-14 past of a decade ago, they cannot in good consciousness try to present themselves in this squeaky clean image as something that they have always been. It also seems wrong for them to present themselves as poor victims attacked by the â€œbig, bad mediaâ€ when in fact the company has enough resources and a legion of unwavering fans to successfully spread their own message. This isnâ€™t the media picking on some poor little thing, this is the media trying to hold a major global company accountable. Clearly the media is not correct in all of the assumptions and messages they are directing towards WWE, but this definitely a fairer fight than WWE is letting on.
WWE is savvy enough to know that they have an army of unblinking fans that will stand up and fight for them and the heroes that they watch on television. Stereotypes are rooted in reality and many of WWEâ€™s most wavering fans are often not the type of representative that the company truly wants to defend them.
I am a lifelong pro wrestling fan and a lifelong World Wrestling Entertainment fan. Iâ€™ve grown up with the company and watched as super heroes like The Macho Man and The Ultimate Warrior made pro wrestling â€œmust see TVâ€ for me. I grew up as a pre-teen and teenager through the â€œAttitudeâ€ era, when I was their target market. Now as a young professional getting a chance to write about my entertainment passion I get the chance to step back as a fan and be critical. WWE is well within their rights to beat their chest and promote themselves as a positive influential company. They can use slick marketing and well-polished videos to appeal to the masses. But please donâ€™t act like a victim here. Donâ€™t act like WWE is all sunshine, roses and without its share of problems or skeletons.
I will always be a pro wrestling fan. I will always be a WWE fan. Iâ€™ve stood through countless scandals, murders, deaths and other bad things associated with the industry. I will stand up for WWE when I feel it is appropriate and necessary, but standing up for WWE so Linda McMahon can win a Senate seat is not one of those times.
Last nightâ€™s Bragging Rights from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was coming off a weekend of stiff competition in regards to attendance and pay per view buys.
Bragging Rights was WWEâ€™s eleventhâ€™s pay per view this year and the third one in five weeks. It is only the second year for the â€œBragging Rightsâ€ brand and is less than a month before one of WWEâ€™s tent pole pay per views, Survivor Series, which also features team versus team elimination competition.
Saturday night the UFC held UFC 121, which saw our Minnesota golden boy Brock Lesnar lose in convincing fashion to
Cain Velasquez. While UFC 121 was held in Anaheim, California, traditionally WWE pay per views suffer when they air the night after a UFC show. Additionally the two promotions draw a lot from the same fan base, especially for a UFC fight headlined by â€œThe Next Big Thing.â€
The local wrestling promoters in Minneapolis also looked to capitalize on the popularity of the weekend by running a ridiculous three different shows on Saturday night, October 23. Minnesota Independent Wrestling, the Intercontinental Wrestling Association and a show promoted by AWA legends Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissey and â€œRock â€˜nâ€™ Rollâ€ Buck Zumhoff all ran shows against each other and the start of the UFC pay per view. As a fan it seems as if there was not enough talent to fill three shows in the Minneapolis metro on the same night, let alone on the same night as hometown hero Brock Lesnar fights on pay per view and the â€œbig boysâ€ from WWE prepare to come to town the next evening. While I appreciated the logic in trying to capitalize on the weekend, it seemed like bad business and split the fan base for everyone.
Then on Sunday, the hometown Minnesota Vikings and their quarterback Brett Favre traveled to the hostile territory of Green Bay, Wisconsin, to meet their arch-rivals in the Green Bay Packers. The Vikings-Packers rivalry is a far more historic and well-built rivalry than anything pro wrestling has put on in years. That game naturally aired on television as part of NBCâ€™s Sunday Night Football and aired directly opposite Bragging Rights. Many fair-weather pro wrestling fans probably just stayed home to watch a far more entertaining rivalry, with legitimate and completely unknown results.
Apparently WWE, the Target Center and TicketMaster realized this already, as e-mails went out offering $20 off on tickets to Bragging Rights as enticement to be a part of the pay per view. Internally WWE has already been downplaying the success of the pay per view and are certainly not expecting a high buy rate or even a sell out in the arena.
WWE will still make money on the pay per view even with lower than projected buys. However the past few PPVs have suffered from lower than expected buy rates, television ratings for the flagship show, Monday Night RAW, have been down and long-term fans have been down on the product recently. The arena for the show was booked last spring and surely not knowing at the time the plans of the UFC and the Vikings. This was the first WWE pay per view in Minneapolis since 2005 so hardcore fans were excited for the experience, but this the last possible weekend that WWE needed to book a pay per view in Minneapolis. They tarped off much of the top of the arena and moved fans who bought those tickets down to the lower level facing the hard camera so that things would look much fuller on television.
The big news coming out of UFC 121 for pro wrestling fans was the interview done with The Undertaker. During the interview he was giving his analysis of Brock Lesnarâ€™s performance when Lesnar happened to walk by. The two men started at each other and Undertaker asked him if â€œyou wanna do it?â€ Undertaker then said things were personal with him and Lesnar. UFC President Dana White was then interviewed about the altercation who denied any possible wrestling match between Lesnar and Undertaker and knew that The Dead Man was a long time MMA and UFC fan. White did say he has been butting heads with Lesnar recently, but when is someone not butting heads with that miserable guy?
The rumor mill has now been swirling that the idea is do a bout between Taker and Lesnar at WrestleMania XXVII. The heat Undertaker was alluding also apparently stems from the way Lesnar left back in 2004 without proper notice and putting someone over the right way.
Iâ€™ll believe it all when I see it. I sure donâ€™t see Lesnar going back to a full-time WWE schedule and I canâ€™t see him going back to WWE for one night if he still has UFC fights on his contract. Lesnar is a draw whatever he does and even after his loss to Velasquez, he is still a draw for UFC. Heâ€™s got a rubber match waiting in the wings against Frank Mir and a whole roster of heavyweights he has yet to face. Iâ€™ll believe things are happening with WWE again when he walks out on WWE TV.
There is talk throughout the week that USA Network is interested in bringing back Tough Enough as a standalone franchise. The working idea so far is that it would either air on Mondays, either right after or right before RAW or on Tuesdays in the old NXT slot. However as itâ€™s all just rumor and heresay right now, there is no idea if it would follow the old TE format of kids living in a house with kayfabe breaking training, more like the NXT garbage weâ€™ve seen recently or a combination of both.
Okay, Iâ€™d actually be all for a Tough Enough return as long as it was like the old TE for MTV, but with already half-trained FCW guys. The reality aspects and getting to know the wrestler as a person is what made the show great, not the hackneyed competitions from NXT. Plus keep out the gimmicked matches to cut a guy, and just cut them based on talent like they did in the old days. It could work I guess. But I question why they would go through the trouble of cutting NXT from the line-up but then think about bringing in another wrestling program. Perhaps the logic in this one is that it wouldnâ€™t be a wrestling program but a reality program.
Bret Hart recently spoke with AOL Fanhouse, here are the highlightsâ€¦
On Current Talent he Likes: “I’ve been really impressed with (John) Morrison who is amazing to me. Kofi (Kingston) is another guy who has some amazing stuff. Some of these guys today can really move like Evan Bourne who really impresses me with his wrestling style. Even Jack Swagger and some of these other bigger guys are quite impressive. I’ve always been a big fan of Rey Mysterio, he’s one of my favorites. I love how he seems to give 100 percent every night and pull off these five-star matches all the time. He’s an innovator that comes up with moves and does things that people have never seen before which is so hard to do in wrestling. Everything has been done or seems like everything has been done before so when somebody comes up with something that is totally new it always impresses me. The girls in wrestling are also quite impressive. The lady wrestlers of today are a billion miles ahead of the lady wrestlers of 20, 30 years ago. They’ve really taken it up a notch. Melina and so many of these young girls are such fantastic performers and hard workers.”
On His WWE Future: “I have every intention of working with them for the next couple of years. They’ve been pretty good to me and I’ve been pretty happy with how they’re treating me. We’re kind of just waiting for the next step in the steady progression of Bret “The Hitman” Hart returning to the WWE. I’m not quite sure where they go from here but I still expect to be part of things for quite a while.”
On The Recent Bret Hart Appreciation Night: “It’s the biggest thing I’ve done since my comeback. I always wanted to wrestle in Madison Square Garden one more time. I used to tell Vince McMahon long before I ever worked with him again, before I came back to the company and buried the hatchet, but I always told him … He wanted me to do WrestleMania
in Toronto for example and I think they wanted me to do something else at one of the other WrestleManias after that, it might have been the one in LA and he called me up to be a part of it and I said nah. I’m really just waiting for you to have something at the Garden. If you ever have anything in New York. I always felt that my strongest U.S., American fan base was in New York and that’s where they kind of loved me the most and I almost felt that I owed it to them to come back one time. When they brought it up to me a few months ago that they were going to do something with me in New York, I thought that’s going to be a magical moment for me that I’ll never forget. And it was great. I loved every bit of it. Even now, I still sort of pinch myself and ask myself if it really happened, did I wrestle in New York. I thought I had pretty good match there too. I thought the whole thing was a very special night for me.”
So do you suppose heâ€™ll make in an appearance at Survivor Series this year and finally make some sort of amends for the olâ€™ Screwjob some thirteen years after the fact?
Wrestler of the Week
Week of October 18 â€“ 24: Edge
Edge, fresh off his return to his home brand of SmackDown, had a monstrous week. While heâ€™s still trying to readjust to being a babyface once again, he went 3 for 3 in his in-ring competitions this week. He and The Big Show won the RAW-SmackDown battle royal on RAW, beat CM Punk on SmackDown and then survived alongside Rey Mysterio last night at Bragging Rights. While I still prefer my Edge has a smarmy, slimy heel it was kind of nice to see him alongside Rey Mysterio once again last night as a smiling good guy.
RAWâ€™s On Tonight!
Tonight is the fall out of Bragging Rights and will start the road to Survivor Series. And you know what Survivor Series means? The unofficial start of the road to WrestleMania. Randy Orton survived Bragging Rights with his WWE Title intact but drew the ire of John Cena again, who again drew the ire of his Nexus boss Wade Barrett. Do I smell a triple threat for Survivor Series? Plus with Nexus still hanging around, you know theyâ€™ve gotta get into a Survivor Series style elimination match somehow. In addition Team RAW lost at Bragging Rights but Daniel Bryan won against SmackDownâ€™s Dolph Ziggler, so Bryan earned Bragging Rights for RAW, even when no one else did. All this and a lot more as the company moves into the big leagues of its pay per view season.
How They Rated
Superstars (10.14.10) â€“ .68
SmackDown! (10.15.10) â€“ 1.9
A.M. RAW (10.18.10) â€“
RAW (1019.10) â€“ 3.09
In Case You Didnâ€™t Spend the $40
PK and Pruett double cover last nightâ€™s Bragging Rights. Yours truly was also live in the arena for the show as well.
Hereâ€™s the quick â€˜nâ€™ dirty:
The dark match was Montel Vontavious Porter versus Chavo Guerrero. The crowd was hot for both men as they were the first ones out of the gate. Porter won after the Ballinâ€™ Elbow.
In the opening match, WWE United States Champion Daniel Bryan beat WWE Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler. Ziggler was accompanied by Vickie Guerrero but surprisingly she did not interfere. Bryan made Ziggler tap out to the LaBelle Lock.
WWE Tag Team Champions Drew McIntyre and Cody Rhodes came to the ring and talked about the lack of the competition in the tag division. The anonymous RAW General Managerâ€™s e-mail went off and booked McIntyre and Rhodes in a match. Wade Barrett came out and introduced their opponents, Nexus members David Otunga and John Cena.
John Cena & David Otunga beat Rhodes & McIntyre to win the WWE Tag Titles. Cena made Rhodes tap out to the STF. Post-match he gave the Attitude Adjustment to his own partner. Needless to say the crowd was mad over for Cena but he still got plenty of hate from the older males in the crowd. But one way or another the man draws a reaction.
Ted DiBiase pinned Goldust after a DDT. This was way too short of a match for PPV and was a bathroom break match for many people after the Cena stuff.
WWE co-Unified Divas Champion Layla beat Natalya Neidhart after Michelle McCool interfered and kicked Natalya in the head while the ref was distracted. Pre-match, LayCool cut a nice promo ripping on Brett Farve and Minnesota to ensure that fans would hate them.
In a Buried Alive match for the World Heavyweight Championship, World Champion Kane beat The Undertaker. This was the typical match between the two aging men but at least the no rules atmosphere allowed them the freedom to use foreign objects and brawl through the crowd in lieu of actual wrestling. As the two men brawled near the burial pit, Undertaker threw Kane in the pit and then threatened to do the same to Paul Bearer. But then Nexus attacked and helped Kane but Undertaker in the pit. Then Kane used his magic fire powers to cause an explosion and drop a bucketful of dirt from the nearby crane to get the win.
Team SmackDown (The Big Show (c), Tyler Reks, Edge, Jack Swagger, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio & Kofi Kingston) beat Team RAW (The Miz (c), Santino Marella, Sheamus, CM Punk, R-Truth, John Morrison & Ezekiel Jackson) in a seven-on-seven elimination match to earning â€œbragging rights.â€ SmackDown was accompanied by Hornswoggle while RAW had Alex Riley as their corner man. Edge and Rey Mysterio were the survivors for Team SmackDown.
Eliminations went as follows:
Reks eliminated Marella after his inverted DVD into a DDT finisher.
Sheamus pinned Kingston after the High Cross.
John Morrison pinned Jack Swagger after the Starship Pain.
Sheamus pinned Reks after the Brogue Kick.
Sheamus and Big Show were counted out.
Edge pinned Truth after a spear. Truth was maybe in the match for two minutes.
Edge pinned Morrison almost immediately thereafter with a spear as well.
CM Punk pinned Del Rio after a backslide of all things.
Mysterio pinned Punk after a 6-1-9 and a West Coast Pop 2.
Shortly thereafter Mysterio pinned Zeke using the same move combination.
Edge pinned Miz after a spear to win the match.
Edge, Mysterio and Hornswoggle celebrated mid-ring with the Bragging Rights trophy post-match. Early in the match Del Rio and Mysterio got into a brawl and Del Rio laid Mysterio out, causing him to return to the back for medical attention. Mysterio returned to the match after Del Rioâ€™s elimination.
In the main event for the WWE Championship, Wade Barrett beat WWE Champion Randy Orton by disqualification. John Cena accompanied Barrett to the ring, and Barrett told Cena that if he did not ensure a Barrett victory, then he would be fired. During the match the ref was bumped and the other Nexus members interfered. Cena fought them off but then hit Barrett with an Attitude Adjustment in view of the ref to cause the disqualification as Orton was preparing to hit a RKO. Post-match Orton dropped both Cena and Barrett with RKOs to send the crowd home happy.
Roundtable Champion: Andrew Wheeler: 3-2 (206-128)
Chris Biscuiti: 2-3 (21-36)
Kelly Floyd: 2-3 (16-14)
Steven Gepp: 2-3 (58-83)
Matthew Michaels: 2-3 (226-198)
Raffi Shamir: 2-3 (189-154)
Mark Allen: 1-4 (211-122)
Mark has been a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over three years now, evolving from his original â€œHistorically Speakingâ€ commentary-style column into his current Monday morning powerhouse known as â€œThis Week in â€˜E.â€ He also contributes to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for Examiner.com and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.
Tags: Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, Cody Rhodes, Daniel Bryan, David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, edge, goldust, john cena, kane, Linda McMahon, NXT, randy orton, Raw, Smackdown, stand up for wwe, superstars, ted dibiase, tough enough, undertaker, vince mcmahon, Wade Barrett, WWE, wwe ratings