Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thoughts on RAW & C.M. Punk's Amazing Promo

It's RAW Roulette! You have as good of odds here as you do in Vegas!

Dream Match?
Shawn Michaels started the show. He said he's not here to be the guest host. He's not here to plug any kind of show, but he did want to mention that he has a new hunting show on the Outdoor Channel. He asked if the plug was on the TV screen in the corner. C.M. Punk came out next. He said HBK just couldn't stay away. He couldn't stay out of the spotlight. Punk talked about how he was leaving with the WWE Title at Money in the Bank. HBK asked if he cleared that with John Cena, since he is the current WWE Champion. He criticized the audience for bowing down and respecting a legend but not begging him to stay. HBK said they cheer him because they know he's better than Punk. Punk said he was better than him, but not now. HBK then said he does things his way, and gave the Sweet Chin Music to David Otunga. The RAW GM then said Punk would have a match. It landed on a "?" mark, which means he faced a mystery opponent, Kane. HBK laid out McGillicutty with some SCM. Basic match, which saw Punk walk out and lose via countout. Punk said "What are they gonna do? Fire me?" Strong Opening Segment. Punk was on here. Survey Says: 4/5

A Botch Free Sin Cara Match?
Next was the match that we were suppose to see last week: Evan Bourne vs Sin Cara. The wheel landed on "No Countout." Thank god. Very fun match. Lots of quick counters and fast-paced action. Bourne went for Air Bourne but Cara moved out of the way. Cara then hit a head scissors take down for the win. That's the type of match we need to see from Cara. He's very good in the ring and showed it here. Maybe he's finally starting to settle in to the WWE style. Survey Says: 4/5

Wait, is RAW a Re-Run This Week?
Kofi was backstage to spin the wheel. Vickie walked in and spun it instead. It landed on "Player's Choice," which means Kofi got to pick. He picked Vickie being banned from ringside. It was the same match we've been getting from these two. Nothing new, but nothing bad either. It's just becoming the same old same old, and I think it is time for both guys to move on to different opponents. Kofi got the win with the Trouble in Paradise. Survey Says: 3/5

When Did Mark Henry Become Awesome?
Up next was Alberto del Rio vs Big Show. Del Rio asked Maryse to spin the wheel for him. As Maryse flirted with ADR, the wheel landed on Steel Cage. ADR walked away mad. Ordinary cage match with Del Rio working over Show's leg. Mark Henry came out. After pacing around a few minutes, Henry ripped the cage door off. Hey, at least it only took a few seconds this time, unlike when it took him forever on Smackdown years ago. Del Rio escaped the cage. Henry took the door and rammed it into Big Show, who then went through the side of the cage. I know he's not the best wrestler, but there's something about this Mark Henry push that I'm really digging. He just seems on this time. Survey Says: 4/5

I'd Love To Make Kelly Kelly Tap Out
Next was Kelly Kelly vs Nikki Bella in a Submission's Match. Kelly won with the boston crab. Bellas attacked afterwards, Eve made the save. Short and sweet. No problems here. Survey Says: 2/5

Backstage, Rey Mysterio was with Booker T as the wheel spun. It landed on Tornado Match. It was Rey & Alex Riley vs Miz & Jack Swagger. As Rey left, Diamond Dallas Page showed up to plug the Best of Nitro DVD. Drew McIntyre appeared and said people were calling them relics, and that they should leave before they left on stretchers. HBK superkicked Drew. He said he'd never seen any of Nitro cause he was working that night. Fun segment.

More Tornado Tags Please
This was a fun match. Lots of near falls. Fast paced action throughout, never a dull moment. Everybody stood out. Swagger looked the best out of everybody, even in taking the loss. Rey finally got a win back after 2 straight PPV losses. Miz and Riley also looked good. Definite *** star match. Rey and Riley picked up the win. Survey Says: 4/5

Promo of the Decade
R-Truth beat Cena in a Tables Match. Punk distracted Cena, allowing R-Truth to spear Cena through a table. This was an after thought to what happened next.

Punk sat on the top of the ramp and just went off. It was a worked shoot, but it was a damn good one. He said he's the best wrestler, the best mic worker, the best everything in wrestling today. He's better than Cena, and the only reason Cena is where he is is because he's good at kissing Vince McMahon's ass. He said he's been held down since Paul Heyman said he saw something in him. He referenced winning the WWE Title and defending it in ROH and New Japan. He talked about how WWE might be better run with Vince dead, but it will just be run by his idiotic daughter and doofus son-in-law. Right as he was about to tell a story about Vince and the "Anti-Bullying Campaign" his mic was cut off and the show abruptly ended. He also ripped on John Laurinitis, The Rock, and Hulk Hogan. This review doesn't do it justice. Go out and watch it. It was amazing. Survey Says: 10/5 Yes, I have the power to do that.

This was a very good episode of RAW. Very good in ring action, topped off by the tornado tag match. There was nothing terribly bad on the show. Even the Divas segment was kept short, which is all you can ask for. Mark Henry continues to be an underrated part of the show. I'm really enjoying his push right now. Of course, C.M. Punk stole the show and got everybody talking in the end. Money in the Bank may do one of the best non-big 4 PPV buys since the Attitude Era. There's going to be a lot of hype going into it. Nobody truly knows the outcome of the match. It takes a lot for a show to get a perfect rating. Before Punk's promo I had this show around a 7, but Mr. Punk bumps it up to a 10.

Thoughts on C.M. Punk's Promo
There is nobody else in this business that could pull of that worked shoot better than C.M. Punk. He's just that good. He did the perfect job of playing up to every possible fan out there. The marks, who believe everything is real, thought that he was crossing the line and couldn't believe Punk was actually saying this. The smart fans, the Internet fans who don't know everything, thought that he was saying some stuff they knew, but was saying just a few things that might have crossed the line. Then the real smart fans, people like you and me who read the Internet religiously, knew everything he was saying was a work, but his delivery was just so spot on that you had to enjoy it.

Punk touched on just enough stuff that made you know it was a worked shoot. Mentioning Paul Heyman and Hulk Hogan's names was nothing. There big enough names that it doesn't effect anything badly. Even mentioning Ring of Honor and New Japan doesn't mean anything. ROH isn't even a blip on the WWE's radar. They're not a big enough company to worry Vince. Same with New Japan. There big in Japan, but nowhere near as big in the States. Now had Punk mentioned something about TNA, then there might be some cause for concern. There the #2 Company in North America. The same can be said for bringing up Brock Lesnar. Everyone knows what happened with Brock. Mentioning his name isn't a killer blow.

As far as ripping on Vince McMahon, HHH, Stephanie McMahon, John Cena, and John Laurinitis, that was all planned as well. You knew they were all probably getting a good laugh out of it in the back. They got the Internet in a big hub-a-lub, talking about their product again. Punk is the Internet's Golden Child. The Internet criticizes WWE constantly, but now their praising them for what Punk did. The mic cut off and subsequent quick cut off air was perfect. It would make some believe that the plug was actually pulled on the show because of Punk.

This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for C.M. Punk/John Cena at Money in the Bank. Everything I talked about in my last post seems so non-existent right now. Could Punk win the Title and stick around for a while. Maybe Punk brings in his Indie buddies to help him win the WWE Title, then he actually defends it on Indie shows across the country. That would take a lot of balls for Vince to do. You'd have to worry someone might shoot on Punk and attempt to legit beat him for the Title, but I'm sure Punk has so much respect in the wrestling world that it wouldn't happen. I've read the spoilers for next week, but I won't go into them here. I will get more into that for next week's review.

In closing, this is something that has to be done at the right place at the right time, with the right person. Everything fit perfectly here. It had to be Punk, it had to be this moment, it had to be that night. This is something that can be done once every few years. It's got EVERYBODY in the wrestling world talking. If the WWE handles this the right way, it could be the best angle they've done in years. That can't drop the ball like they did with Nexus. There are endless possibilities here, and I for one cannot wait to see how it plays out.

Until next time,
Justin C

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Summer of Punk? Looking At the C.M. Punk/Money in the Bank Scenarios

For all of the wrestling Internet fans out there, we've known this was coming for months. C.M. Punk has reportedly been unhappy in the WWE for quite some time now. He doesn't like the fact that he is not treated like the main event talent that he is. Punk is also burned out by all the time spent on the road. He has valid arguments. He has never been a constant main event talent. It seemed like Punk was getting a re-newed push when he became the new leader of Nexus. They reignited their feud with John Cena and it looked like a possible C.M. Punk/John Cena one-on-one match was coming on PPV, quite possibly at Wrestlemania. But instead the WWE rushed through that feud and gave away the match for free on RAW. There was a lot of heat behind that match, and it would have been great to see Punk win the Royal Rumble, and Cena win the WWE Championship, and have the two face off at Wrestlemania. Or the spots could have been switched around. It would have been a great build in my opinion.

Instead, Punk was transitioned into a Wrestlemania feud with Randy Orton. The WWE played up a surprisingly good back story, dating back to Orton costing Punk the World Heavyweight Championship in 2008. However, Randy Orton looked dominant throughout the entire program. There was maybe one week where Punk got the better of Orton. Every week Orton took out a different member of the Nexus. Orton won their match at Wrestlemania, then won the re-match at Extreme Rules. Punk was stuck in limbo the next month and a half until he won last week's triple threat match to become the #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. At Capitol Punishment and on RAW, Punk promised to make a shocking announcement. Well, he did. Punk said his contract expires on July 17, the same day as the Money in the Bank PPV. The PPV is in his hometown of Chicago. One way or another, Punk said he was leaving.

First off, I give the WWE props for trying something different. To take Punk's contract situation and turn it into an actual storyline will make for some interesting TV in the next 3 weeks. Punk is a great enough performer that he can make it work. That's part of his greatness. You could give him crap and turn it into gold. He would make a program with Ahmed Johnson or Bart Gunn main event worthy. Even if the WWE writes it in a terrible way, Punk could still make it work. It all adds up to how great a performer he is. If Money in the Bank is the last appearance for Punk in quite some time, you bet damn well I will be writing a tribute piece to him.

But now the question becomes this: What exactly are the possibilities with this storyline. There are actually a handful of possibilites out there. If the WWE is smart, they could turn this into the angle of the summer, perhaps even the angle of the year if they play it out right. Punk is that good, and even John Cena can be good if he brings his A game and doesn't bust out his normal corny, unfunny routine. So, with all of this being said, lets look at the possible scenarios for this C.M. Punk storyline and how they could play out.

1. C.M. Punk Wins the WWE Championship & Sticks Around For A While
This scenario is quite possible. Even though Punk says he's gone at Money in the Bank, his contract supposedly does not expire until September. So it is entirely possible that Vince talked Punk into sticking around until his contract actually expires. Punk gets a new main event push that he has been wanting for quite some time. He main events the second biggest PPV of the year, SummerSlam, and the Night of Champions PPV in September.

Now wait a minute. Punk said he's leaving no matter what after MITB. So how would this work? Well, it's wrestling, they can make it work. The RAW GM could say that Punk cannot leave with the WWE Championship. Punk could refuse, and then have Vince McMahon show up and say the exact same thing. Punk, being too proud of a competitor, decides not to leave and defend the WWE Title until he loses.

Another possibility could be something similar to his Ring of Honor end run, which was called by many the "Summer of Punk." Punk was suppose to be wrestling his last show in the ROH Title match. He won the title, and threatened to take the Title to the WWE. Punk continued to wrestle for ROH until he lost the Title. Punk could do the same thing in the WWE. Some of his recent Twitter comments have been apparently similar to what he wrote in his online journal while leaving Ring of Honor.

Punk, however, loves to toy with fans. He may be doing this just to screw with them. Plus, I don't know if Vince would want to do the same storyline that another company did. I don't like the odds of this happening. It's probably a bit too complicated for the WWE to do anyways, and they wouldn't want Punk leaving on such a high note if he were to go to another company. I doubt that happens though.

2. C.M. Punk Wins the WWE Championship & Leaves with the Title
Another long shot possibility. But again, it's something to consider. Punk wins the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank. His contract actually does expire. He leaves with the WWE Title. That's it. The RAW GM announces that Punk is gone with the WWE Title, and that a new Title will be introduced and a tournament will be held, with the two finalists facing off at SummerSlam to crown the new WWE Champion. Then, when Punk comes back, the two face off, maybe at Wrestlemania, and fight to determine the undisputed WWE Champion. It'd be an interesting sub main event to a show already main evented by The Rock vs John Cena.

Or, the World Champion is now declared the only Champion in the WWE and appears on both shows from now on until Punk comes back. The main reason this won't happen is because you know Vince McMahon won't like. It takes the WWE Championship, the supposed most prized possession in wrestling, off of TV for who knows how long. While it would be something unique and different, it would also kind of devalue the Title a bit.

This is another long shot. Taking the WWE Title off of TV for any extended period of time would not be good in Vince McMahon's eyes. Sure they might want to have only one Champion, but that title would be the WWE Championship, not the World Title.

3. C.M. Punk Wins the WWE Title, Then Loses It to the RAW Money in the Bank Winner
What a coincidence. Punk's WWE Title chance comes at a PPV where two guaranteed Title contracts are given out. The story would write itself. Here is this evil C.M. Punk, about to take the WWE Championship away with him from the WWE. But before he can leave, here comes the RAW Money in the Bank winner to cash in his briefcase, and take the Title back.

In my opinion, however, it would have to be a heel cashing in the contract. While it would make a mega face most of the time if a babyface cashed in the contract, the PPV is being held in Chicago. Any face would be booed out of the building if they stole the WWE Championship from C.M. Punk in his hometown. A heel, however, would be booed out of the building. If the WWE still wants to go with John Cena vs Alberto del Rio at SummerSlam, having ADR win the RAW MITB Ladder Match then cash in his contract on Punk would bring him instant heel heat. ADR could explain how he didn't want Punk to ruin his destiny and take the WWE Title out of the company with him. Cena then comes out and demands a rematch for the Title he lost, and you have your main event for SummerSlam.

Like I said, however, this has to be a heel doing this. As I already said, whoever does this will be booed out of Chicago. You don't want a young face like Kofi Kingston getting that kind of reaction for his first WWE Title win. Sure it will only be for one night, but people won't forget it. A heel should also win because right now, John Cena is the top face on RAW. Nobody is supplanting him right now. And, you don't want to have a new face win, then immediately have them face John Cena. There's also no other face on RAW ready to win the WWE Title right now. Rey Mysterio doesn't need it. Alex Riley is too young. Kofi Kingston isn't quite ready yet. The only people worthy of this type of situation right now would be either Alberto del Rio, or maybe R-Truth. I would say this has decent odds of happening. I might be the second most likely option, especially considering the PPV it is happening on.

4. John Cena Defeats C.M. Punk Cleanly
Sadly, this may be the most likely option. There are many reasons I believe this. First off, Vince McMahon hates the Internet. Most would consider C.M. Punk the "Darling of the Internet." The hardcore adult male audience loves him. They love him because he is a great worker and excellent on the mic. Punk plays up the fact that they love him and always finds ways to gain their interest. Problem is, Vince hates that audience. He will do anything he can to piss them off. Look what he did by not putting Zac Ryder on any of the last 3 hour RAWs. One took place in his hometown, the other was a Viewer's Choice addition. Vince does not cater to the Internet audience, and he won't do something just to please them. Vince also fails to realize that the Internet audience makes up a decent portion of his viewing and PPV buyer market, but that's another story all together.

Another reason this seems like the most likely scenario is because C.M. Punk's opponent is John Cena. Cena is, after all, invincible. When was the last time he lost a clean PPV match. I mean after all, the new Nexus could get involved and cost Cena the match. But Cena single handedly went through the old Nexus, so there's no reason he couldn't do the same to this Nexus. Also, John Cena is the WWE's Golden Boy. He's facing the Rock at Wrestlemania 28. He may very well hold on to the WWE Title until then. I personally don't think the match needs it, but it would make it that much bigger. I really don't think the WWE would want Cena to lose the Title to someone that is on their way out of the Company.

Like I said, I really think this may have the best odds of happening. If Punk hasn't been treated as a true main eventer before, there is nothing that would change this now. Especially if Punk is leaving the WWE. Cena looks strong again because he sends someone out of the WWE. And usually, when someone is on their way out, they don't win the WWE Title, even if they lose it immediately after. They usually end their WWE career staring up at the lights.

There is one more scenario that could be considered. Win or lose, Punk has re-signed with the WWE and will stay around for a long time. It could be possible Punk is just playing the Internet crowd that loves him. He could win the WWE Title and say that he played everyone all along, or he could lose and demand a rematch, and the RAW GM could say he would only grant it if Punk signs a new contract. The reason I don't see this happening is because every indication we've been given says that Punk is leaving, whether now or when his contract officially expires.

All I know is this, having C.M. Punk off of TV for an extended period of time will be a huge blow. While he may not have always been the top dog, he was always entertaining. He's easily the best WRESTLER the WWE currently has, probably the best guy on the mic too. He always has a creative way to get his point across. There's nobody on the current roster that can replace him. I hope he comes back sooner rather than later. It's a shame the WWE didn't appreciate him more. But if Punk feels that way, and he really wants some time off, then I respect him for sticking to his guns and making this decision.

That's all from me today.

Until next time,
Justin C

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

JC's Take: RAW Thoughts

This week's RAW is the Viewer's Choice Addition. Time for the WWE Universe to tell Vince what we really want! Right? Lets find out...

C.M. Punk: I'd Give Him Anything He Wants
RAW opened with C.M. Punk walking to the ring. Last night he beat Rey Mysterio, and he's beaten John Cena. He demanded the RAW GM make him the #1 Contender, and wasn't going to leave until the GM made it official. He wanted the match to take place in Chicago, his hometown, at the Money in the Bank PPV. An e-mail was sent. Punk mocked Cole's intro. The RAW GM said he would take Punk's demands under consideration, but asked Punk to leave the ring. Punk wouldn't. He started doing snow angels. The RAW GM said he was going to make Punk #1 Contender later in the night, but now he's not. Now he has to face Alberto del Rio. Punk said it was a bad decision, and the GM then made it a triple threat involving Rey Mysterio. Punk left and yelled at the announce team as he walked away.

Great opening segment. Punk was classic Punk here. Great lines including his rips on Baltimore. The snow angel thing and mocking of Cole were also great. Hopefully this wasn't the announcement Punk promised earlier in the day. It wasn't really monumental, just a typical heel type announcement. Survey Says: 4/5

Can C.M. Punk Come Back Out?
Next the people chose who would face Brie Bella for the Divas Championship. Kelly Kelly won the vote. Basic women's match. Kelly won with a reversal of a roll-up. Kelly showed emotion and thanked the WWE Universe for giving her the opportunity. There's really no difference if Brie Bella or Kelly Kelly is the Divas Champion. Survey Says: 2/5

What the Hell is Wrong with The WWE Universe?
Next the WWE Universe got to pick who would face Evan Bourne: Jack Swagger, Mason Ryan, or Sin Cara. Mason Ryan won the vote. This is why there is no point in voting. Your telling me people actually want to see a Mason Ryan match? Really people? OK Vince, Ryan is not going to get over until he gets better in the ring. He just looks so awkward in his movements. The best part about the match? A very audible "BATISTA" chant. I'm surprised it has taken that long for it to happen. Bourne tried his best here, but it just didn't work.

After giving Bourne a decent push the last few weeks, he gets squashed by Ryan. Ryan is not ready for singles action, and he showed it here. He was rushed into this push when he wasn't ready. Bourne now just looks like a high flyer who can't hang with the big boys after 2 victories over Jack Swagger recently. Survey Says: 2/5

Mark Henry was out next. He actually cut a decent promo on Big Show. He said Big Show got punished at Capitol Punishment for punishing him on Smackdown. He said when Big Show walks the Earth, it shakes. But when Mark Henry walks the Earth, all these people saying "WHAT", they are the ones that shake. It was delivered effectively, and it was nice to see Henry branch out and cut a promo like that.

After the break, the decision was made as to what Henry's showdown with Kane would be: A Bodyslam challenge, an over the top rope challenge, or an Arm Wrestling Challenge. Arm Wrestling it was, and of course it didn't end. Henry attacked Kane while Kane was in control. He rammed the arm wrestling table into him, then rammed him into the ring post, before finally powerslamming him through the announce table. Henry shouted that this was going to keep happening until he got some respect. He even at one point said, "MY HEART DON'T PUMP KOOL AID!" When Henry wears his red wrestling attire to the ring, some people like to think he looks like the kool aid man. I never backed any of Henry's pushes before, but I like what he has going for him so far. He's being put over as a dominating force, more so than in the past. I like the new powerslam move. It looks devastating. I'm assuming they are building up Henry as the next opponent for Randy Orton on Smackdown, whenever Orton is done with Christian. Strong Segment. Survey Says: 4/5

Really? What? Jimmy? Randy?
Back from break, they replayed the very good R-Truth "Conspiracy Theory" video package from last night. Truth ripped on the Baltimore crowd, saying that they had terrible home training. He thought to himself how he was gonna get got last night, and he said he didn't realize he was gonna get go by the "Little Jimmys." Christian interrupted, to a very good face pop. Isn't he a heel now. Christian said he agrees with R-Truth. Christian showed a photo of his foot underneath the rope from last night. He blamed everybody and demanded a rematch. Truth complained that Christian had had three matches for the World Title, when R-Truth only had one.

Out came the Miz. He called Truth and Christian a bunch of whiners. Christian told Miz that at least Truth and himself were in title matches last night, and Miz lost to his apprentice. They then had a corny exhcange in the ring, repeating the phrases "Really", "Jimmy", "Riley", and "Randy". Out came Teddy Long to tell them to shut up. He said the main event would be Truth, Miz, and Christian vs John Cena, Randy Orton, and Alex Riley, with the audience picking the stipulation. It was a fun promo until that corny one-liner exchange. You could tell this match was coming once Miz came out. It sets up a good wrestling main event that is hopefully given some time. Survey Says: 3/5

Hey, Somebody FINALLY Got Something Right
Whether it was the WWE Universe or Vince, somebody finally got something right. Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston was next for the United States Championship in a 2 out of 3 falls match. The other choices were submission or Vickie being banned from ringside. OK action heading into the break. The first fall was scored during the break. Ziggler hit the ZigZag on the floor and rolled Kofi in for the pin and the first pinfall. Ziggler dominated, he hit good dropkick. But out of nowhere, Kofi hit the SOS to win the second fall.

Some good action in the final fall. Typical stuff from these two. Dolph got hit with the Trouble in Paradise on the outside. Kofi rolled him back into the ring, but Dolph grabbed the rope before the referee could count three. Dolph tried running again as Kofi stopped him, but Dolph hit Kofi with a microphone causing a disqualification. Kofi connected with the Trouble in Paradise afterwards. Decent action, a notch below last night. It gives Kofi cause for a rematch, but it's becoming tiring watching these two fight every week. They shouldn't have been put on the same brand in the first place. Survey Says: 3/5

They showed an ad for Shawn Michaels being on RAW next week. Yeah, this guy is watching.

Alberto del Rio came out for the Triple Threat #1 Contender's Match. He said everything that happened to Big Show was destiny, and when he wins tonight, it is all just a part of his destiny.

Oh No, That's Too Honest Mr. Punk
The match stipulation chosen was Falls Count Anywhere. The action spilled to the outside as they cut to break. Lots of back and forth action in the ring. Punk countered a 619 beautifully. Del Rio at one point put Rey in the cross armbreaker, but Punk broke it up. The finish came after Rey hit Del Rio with the 619. He hit the West Coast Pop, but Puk threw Rey off of him and picked up the win. Very good TV match. I'd give it ***1/4 stars. Better than normal TV match. All three looked good at times. Surprising to see Del Rio take the pin, although Rey has lost two PPVs in a row.

After the match, Punk said July 17th will be the most historic day in WWE history. It is not only the day when the Money in the Bank PPV is, but also the day his WWE contract expires. He promised to make history, saying he would leave the WWE with the WWE Championship. Strong promo from Punk. Very discouraging to hear him say he is leaving even if he wins. Tonight has shown what will be missed with C.M. Punk. The man has been on tonight and was good once again in the ring. The WWE could really sell Money in the Bank with a strong build making Punk seem like a serious threat to John Cena and the WWE Championship, and what RAW would be like without the WWE Title. Excellent Follow Up to a very good match. Survey Says: 5/5

Who Chooses Paper Over Plastic Nowadays?
Up next was Cody Rhodes vs Daniel Bryan in a No Countout Match. Damn it, I really wanted a Paper Bag Match. Short match that only went two minutes. Bryan won with a roll up. Cody tried to attack Bryan after the match, but Bryan put him in the LaBell Lock. Ted DiBiase came out and saved Cody. They put a paper bag over Bryan's head after the beatdown. Very little crowd heat for this segment. Maybe Cody is not as over as the WWE would like. It could have been better. It seemed like filler more than anything else. Survey Says: 2/5

If the Fans Had A Choice, They'd Say No to Dance-Offs
Up next was some stupid dance off with Vickie Guerrero going against either Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, or Booker T. Lawler one. I got a bit of a laugh at Cole's dancing, but in the end it accomplished nothing. Why not give this time for more Bryan and Rhodes? Survey Says: 1/5

Can We Just Vote Cena Off of RAW Already?
The main event was the 6 man tag. The WWE Universe chose an elimination match. The heels took their turns working over Randy Orton during the early part of the match. Orton eventually was able to make the hot tag to Alex Riley. A huge clusterfuck started, which lead to everyone being in the ring. With the ref distracted, Miz snuck in and delivered a Skull Crushing Finale to A-Ri, allowing Christian to pin him and eliminate Riley.

Back from break, Miz was working over Orton until Orton was able to tag in Cena. Cena hit the five knuckle shuffle but Miz kicked out. Miz went to the top and missed, allowing Cena to lock in the STF. R-Truth broke it up. The heels again gained control over Cena. Cena kept trying to make a tag but was unable to. At one point Cena was inches away from Orton for what seemed like an eternity before Truth broke it up. Orton through a classic hissy fit on the outside, cause apparently Truth screwed that up. Cena gained enough strength to put Miz in the Attitude Adjustment and eliminate him. The finishing sequence came rather quickly. Orton RKO'd Truth, eliminating him. Christian immediately speared Orton for the pin. Christian got over-excited and Cena went for the AA, but Christian escaped. Orton RKO'd Christian, allowing Cena to put him in the STF. Christian tapped out and the faces won. Afterwards Cena and Orton celebrated to end the show.

Another good wrestling match. My problem is the faces went over again. This is the problem with the WWE nowadays. The heels aren't made to look strong on a regular basis anymore. Do we really need to send the fans home happy every week? Sure the wrestling was good, but we need to have some believable threats to super faces Cena and Orton, and there aren't any at the moment. I'd probably give the match **3/4 stars. Survey Says: 4/5

I thought this was an above average show. There were two very good wrestling matches, which is a rarity on RAW nowadays. Dolph/Kofi was also good, despite the screwy finish. As I said, I may be in the minority, but I'm enjoying Mark Henry Push #35832908. There just seems to be something different about it this time. I could have done without the dance off, and would have rather seen Sin Cara than Mason Ryan face Evan Bourne. I'm giving the show a 6.5.

And remember kids, the Kool Aid Man is your friend and mine. Piss him off, and you're bound to get your ass whooped!

Until next time,
Justin C

Monday, June 20, 2011

WWE Capitol Punishment Review

Hey everyone. Here is my review of WWE Capitol Punishment. I wrote the main part of the review while watching it live. Everything starting with the Overall portion of this review came Monday morning.

The show started with a great opening video package with R-Truth going off on his conspiracy rant.

Dolph Ziggler defeated Kofi Kingston to win the United States Championship: **3/4
This is the type of match you love to have as an opener. These two know each other well, so they know how to work a good match. Good counter moves from both guys. Near falls were believable as well. It was also nice to see Dolph kick out of the Trouble in Paradise. Usually that type of stuff is saved only for the main eventers. They played the story well of Dolph having Kofi scouted so well that he knew every move was coming, and Kofi had to use some new offense to try and beat Dolph.

I had this match right at 3 stars but had to take off a little for the finish. It was just weird. Sure, it put over the sleeper hold, which is fine. Nobody believed it as a threat in forever. Now people will think it can actually win a match. But why didn't the ref raise Kofi's hand 3 times to see if he is out. How did he know Kofi was out by just looking at him? Did Vickie's interference really cause that much damage? Just weird. Dolph wins the United States title. I think he needs it more than Kofi does. The title doesn't really change Kofi's act, but it elevates Dolph more. It also makes Dolph a favorite to win the RAW Money in the Bank next month.

R-Truth arrived in a limo, still holding John Cena's WWE Championship. He said he has a party to get too. He stopped Eve and asked her to come and party like they did in the old days. Eve said she doesn't know him anymore. Truth said she was right. Truth said the champ is in the house, "Fo Shizzle."

Alex Riley defeated The Miz: **
Slow match, but it was somewhat necessary in the ring. Despite getting over with the crowd, Riley is still young and not too experienced in the ring. Miz beat down Riley pretty much the entire match. Riley gained some advantage and took the action to the outside. Michael Cole started yelling at Riley, so Riley grabbed Cole and shoved him down. Miz regained the advantage and threw Riley into the ring. Miz grabbed the briefcase and went to use it. The ref stopped him, allowing Riley to hit a double arm DDT and score the upset win.

Like I said, it was a bit slow and very one sided, but it worked. It hid Riley's limitations but still allowed him to get over and continue his push. The crowd wasn't as hot for Riley as the WWE probably hoped, but the win will help him. It doesn't hurt the Miz. He will get his win back down the line. This program is far from over. It could continue until SummerSlam.

Backstage Sgt. Slaughter was talking to "President Obama." Vickie came up and sang "Happy Birthday" to him, but Obama's secret service took her away. Corny.

Alberto del Rio defeated Big Show via Referee Stoppage: **
This was more of an angle than a match, but it was played out very well. As ADR was making his way out to the ring, Big Show jumped him from behind. Suddenly Mark Henry appeared. Show attacked Henry on Smackdown Friday, so Henry was getting his revenge. He picked up Show and bodyslammed him through the announce table. He then slammed his leg on the table.

The ref asked Show if he wanted to start the match, which he did. ADR worked on Show's leg the whole match. He put Show in a version of his cross armbreaker. Show grabbed the ropes to break the hold, but was unable to get up and continue, so the referee stopped the match. ADR picks up the win, which he should have. Show did a great job selling the beatdown. Now Show can try to get his revenge on Henry, except they are on 2 different shows, so who knows how the program will work. Match gets two starts for the storytelling involved and Show's great selling.

Ezekiel Jackson defeated Wade Barrett to win the Intercontinental Title: *
Before the match, Wade Barrett started berating the USA to get some cheap heat. Slow match. Zeke can't do much in the ring. Zeke kicked out of Barrett's Wasteland than started his comeback. Four bodyslams, then a torture rack for the win. Lawler asked him how he felt afterward and he said it was the greatest moment of his wrestling career. Yawner of a match. WWE sees something in Jackson, I don't. He's greener in the ring than Riley. Barrett continues to plummet into obscurity on Smackdown. Who knows, maybe the WWE will have him surprise everyone and win MITB? Doubt it. Barrett needs something big and fast.

Backstage, Santino went to show "President Obama" the Cobra, but was stopped by the Secret Service. Dumb.

C.M. Punk was interviewed, he said he was going to take care of Rey Mysterio, then show the WWE Universe the most honest thing they've ever seen. Hmmm...

C.M. Punk defeated Rey Mysterio: ***1/2
Fun match. What you would expect from these two. The match started off a bit slow in the beginning, but it was obvious they were saving there energy for the end of the match. There was a good sequence in the middle of the match with a bunch of missed kicks and counters. Good finishing sequence. Punk had Rey in the GTS but Rey counters into a head scissors roll up for 2. Punk put Rey in the GTS again, but Rey countered into a 619 attempt. Punk ducked and finally connected with the GTS for the win.

Solid action from these two. It's surprising to see Rey lose two straight PPV matches clean. His act is over with the kids so he doesn't lose too much momentum. For Punk, his words before the match now get a little bit more intriguing. What does he have up his sleeve? If Punk is on his way out soon, it would be weird to see him get a main event push on his way out. But if it means a bigger role for Punk in his last month, I'm all for that. More Punk is always better. Surprisingly, that was Punk's first PPV win since Extreme Rules 2010.

Randy Orton defeated Christian to retain the World Heavyweight Championship: ***3/4
This was probably the weakest match out of these two counters so far, but the first two have been great. Story-telling, again, was very good. Orton sold the affects from his concussion well, while Christian played up the fact that he needed to win the Title. It was a fun match that was probably a little better than Punk/Rey.

Christian hit the Killswitch on Orton, but he kicked out. Christian then went for the spear but Orton jumped out of the way. Orton went for the RKO but Christian countered into the spear, which Orton kicked out of. Christian went to the top, but Orton hit a flying dropkick then an RKO for the win. It is important to note that Christian's foot was slightly underneath the bottom rope when Orton pinned him for 3. Christian argued his case to the ref, but he would not listen. Mike Chioda reversed two finishes in Cena/Orton matches, why not now? Orton hit Christian with the belt after the match and said "Paybacks A Bitch." Good match. Like I said, not on the level of the first two, but still good. It will be interesting to see if the feud continues.

Randomly, Keith Stone, the sponsor for Keystone Light, came out. Weird. Nobody drinks that crap.

Evan Bourne defeated Jack Swagger: *3/4
OK filler match. Bourne won with a roll-up. Nothing too special here. Just filling time in between the main event matches. Remember when Swagger was World Champ?

Out came "President Obama." He gave a corny Presidential address, then went into the ring and did a spinarooni with Booker T. Yawn. Give me my main event please.

John Cena defeated R-Truth to retain the WWE Championship: **1/4
Talk about underwhelming. I may even be over-rating this match at **1/4 stars. It was really slow moving. R-Truth dominated most of the match early, before Cena made his comeback in the end. Cena put Truth in the STF only for Truth to grab the ropes. Truth took a breather on the outside. He took a Little Jimmys hat and then a drink of water from his cup. After Truth put it down, the Little Jimmy splashed the water in Truth's face. Cena threw Truth back in the ring, and hit the Attitude Adjustment for the win.

Like I said, I was thoroughly disappointed with this match. I've been high on R-Truth since his heel turn. Was I expecting him to win? No. But I was expecting a much better performance from him, and Cena. They were both disappointing here. Neither guy is known for their great wrestling ability, but they are capable of better. I thought they'd be able to set a good pace and work of each other's strengths well. But instead, it seemed more like a TV main event than a PPV main event. They did such a good job hyping up Truth throughout the PPV with those video packages, and then the match disappointed big time.

This match also showed why adult males HATE the WWE product nowadays. So a little kid plays a finish in the PPV main event? Why not just let Cena win clean like he has every other PPV? Instead, the WWE panders to the kids again. Kids don't buy PPVs, the adults do. So if you keep giving them this type of finish every week, they will continue to not buy the PPV.

Another underwhelming PPV. I bought it because I thought there would be some good wrestling on the show, and I wanted to see what would happen with R-Truth. The wrestling delivered for the most part, but some of the booking decisions were weird, as were the finishes to the matches. And as I just stated, the R-Truth booking was terrible. I would say this PPV was slightly better than Over the Limit. It had 2 good matches instead of 1. The Cena match was just as bad as the Miz match on Over the Limit. The undercard was ok. Dolph and Kofi had one of their better matches. But I thought it was a slightly below show. The announcing just added to the terribleness of the show. Michael Cole, Booker T, and Jerry Lawler should never be put together on commentary ever again. I'd rather have Bobby Heenan announcing in his current medical condition than listen to Booker T and Jerry Lawler again. I'm giving the show a 4.

Ranking the PPVs this year, I would put it at second last right now, right above Over the Limit.
1. Elimination Chamber
2. Extreme Rules
3. Wrestlemania 27
4. Royal Rumble
5. Capitol Punishment
6. Over the Limit

Where Do We Go From Here?
Money in the Bank is next month. It was one of the better PPVs from last year, and I love the intrigue in the MITB ladder matches. There are really no clear cut favorites this year. I think Alberto del Rio is too good at this point to win the RAW MITB. On Smackdown, I also think it is wide open.

The WWE Title picture is a bit fuzzy. Does R-Truth get a rematch? There's a 3 hour RAW Tonight, and he may just get his rematch tomorrow. It would be such a waste to just let Truth's push come and go like this. Then there is C.M. Punk. Money in the Bank is in Chicago, Punk's hometown crowd. It would be a good way to send Punk out. But what did Punk mean when he said he was going to do the most honest thing the WWE Universe would ever see? What did he man by that? A reformation of a new-new Nexus? Nobody knows.

Over on Smackdown, does Christian get another rematch? He has a legitimate argument. His foot was underneath the bottom rope. The only problem is, it is an argument a face would have. Christian's the heel. He shouldn't have legitimate arguments like that. Also, do we really want to see Christian lose again to Orton? If Christian was going to get the World Title back, I thought it would happen tonight. He could then carry it to SummerSlam where Orton wins it back. Now? I doubt Christian gets it back, and now I go back to my argument I had right after Christian lost the title. But there are really no other viable contenders for the World Title. The PPV will sell itself because of the ladder matches, so they could take a risk if they want.

So lets say Money in the Bank looks like this:
WWE Championship: John Cena vs C.M. Punk
World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs Christian- Street Fight
RAW MITB Match: Dolph Ziggler vs Kofi Kingston vs Evan Bourne vs Jack Swagger vs Rey Mysterio vs R-Truth vs Drew McIntyre vs Zac Ryder
Smackdown MITB: Sheamus vs Cody Rhodes vs Sin Cara vs Daniel Bryan vs Wade Barrett vs Ezekiel Jackson vs Justin Gabriel vs Mark Henry
Alberto del Rio vs Big Show
Miz vs Alex Riley

As far as the Ladder Matches go, I would say the favorites would be Dolph and Truth on RAW, and Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett on Smackdown. If they want to rebuild Barrett, winning the Smackdown MITB would be a good start.

If we are going to look ahead all the way to SummerSlam, lets say the card, for now, looks like this:
WWE Championship: John Cena vs Alberto del Rio
World Championship: Christian vs Randy Orton: TLC Match
Steel Cage Match: Miz vs Alex Riley
R-Truth vs John Morrison
Intercontinental Title: Ezekiel Jackson vs Cody Rhodes
United States Championship: Dolph Ziggler vs Rey Mysterio
Big Show vs Mark Henry

That's all from me today. RAW Review at the Oratory tomorrow. Might have another post sometime this week. Brainstorming ideas as I write this.

Until next time,
Justin C

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WWE Capitol Punishment Preview

Hey everyone. Hope you enjoyed my WWE Stock Watch Report. Now, onto the Capitol Punishment Preview.

The build for Captiol Punishment has been better than Over the Limit, but that's not saying much. They had 3 weeks to build to that PPV, and everything just seemed rushed. I thought the WWE was just trying to get to Over the Limit, then hit the reset button afterwards, which it pretty much looks like they did. Even the 2 Smackdown rematches have a new piece added to their stories. I still think this will be another low PPV buy though. Even though the build has been better than Over the Limit, it's still been not as great. Two of the better WWE PPVs, Money in the Bank and SummerSlam, are the next 2 PPVs and usually have some good intrigue attached to them.

On with the preview!

Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett (c) vs Ezekiel Jackson

The IC Title defended on 2 straight PPVs? Does Vince McMahon know about this? If this is the WWE's way of putting emphasis back on the secondary championships, I'm all for it. They need to be re-established. WWE may not think it, but I think it would help bring some viewers back if they made these titles mean more.

The other great thing about this match is that we get to see the awesome bodyslam work of Ezekiel Jackson. I really don't know why WWE is trying to push him. Oh yeah, Vince likes big guys. Duh. I try to justify most big man pushes, but even I can't get behind this one. Why push a guy like Jackson when you have a younger, more skilled albeit a bit smaller, and whiter, version of him in Wade Barrett. As I said in my WWE Stock Watch, it's a shame to see how far Barrett has fallen down the card. On a weak Smackdown roster, you would think he would be used better.

The new wrinkle added to this match is that Barrett doesn't have former Corre members Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater on his side. They told Barrett the other week on Smackdown that the Corre was done. Now Barrett has to deal with Jackson on his own. Jackson has looked dominant recently, getting the better of Barrett and then Corre members Gabriel & Slater on Smackdown. I think the WWE sees the same problems with Jackson as I do, or at least I hope. Barrett picks up the win here, proving that he can do things on his own. It gives him momentum heading into Money in the Bank.

WINNER: Wade Barrett

United States Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs Dolph Ziggler

Again, more emphasis on the secondary titles is ok with me. Unlike the IC Title match, these two should be able to put on an entertaining 10 minute match. The story here is that Ziggler has been scouting Kingston for the past few weeks now, and knows every trick Kofi has up his sleeve. I like the fact that they added that wrinkle into this program. It's almost like they are making it seem important that the wrestling inside the ring matters (Hi TNA), and that more goes into it when there are titles on the line. It also makes the US Title seem important. Dolph cares about it so much that he's putting extra time and work into scouting the current Champion so he can get the Title back. I also like the video packages they did on Dolph & Kofi over the last two weeks. Makes them seem important and a big deal now and down the line in WWE.

I think this match is a toss up. On one hand, Kofi is over as a mid-card face champion and having the belt on him means something to the fans. On the other hand, Dolph has a load of potential and having him win the United State title would elevate him up the card, which is something he could use. With Dolph's in ring work and Vickie's heat drawing, he should be higher than he is. I'm going with Dolph here to win the title.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

Rey Mysterio vs C.M. Punk

First the positive. These two have put on two good TV matches in the last month. Now is the rubber match, and I think they have been saving their best stuff for this. And they can put on some good ones. I saw them go at it live in Buffalo at Armageddon in 2008 and it was a very fun match. These two know each other and have great chemistry inside the squared circle.

Now the negative. It seems like these two were just thrown together on the card because they had nothing else for them to do. What's the back story? They've fought before? Come on WWE, you are capable of better. Rey Mysterio has had no set program since his move to RAW. He could be still helping out the face side of Smackdown if he was over there. On RAW, Rey almost seems like a novelty act or a special attraction.

Then of course there is the on going matter of C.M. Punk's contract status with the WWE. All signs point to him leaving the company. He's not happy that he isn't treated like a top star. He's their best worker on the mic and one of their best, if not best, in ring worker in the company. But he feels dis-respected, and he's burned out from being on the road so much. I respect his decision to take some time off.

Now the question remains; How does the WWE send Punk out? There's been talk that he may have a program with Cena for Money in the Bank, but that depends on if the WWE wants to send him out that high. I think the more likely scenario is that Punk continues his losing streak on PPV, and Rey picks up a win here.

WINNER: Rey Mysterio

Big Show vs Alberto del Rio

This match worries me. Not because I don't think it will be decent, but because I fear for the booking of it. I don't know how many times I can say it, but ADR needs help and fast if he is going to face John Cena at SummerSlam. WWE needs to realize that. Even if they build him back up in the next couple of months, the match still won't draw as much as it would have 3 months ago, when ADR was hot and appeared to be on the verge of a break out.

The story here? Big Show is pissed that Ricardo Rodriguez, ADR's personal ring announcer, tried to run him over and kill him with his car. Show returned this week, and beat the ever living hell out of Ricardo. With him out of the picture, it's ADR vs Big Show one-on-one. I'd love to see ADR pick up the clean win here with the cross armbar, but I don't think that is happening. WWE sees Big Show as a monster and they probably wouldn't have him lose clean like that to ADR, even though he should. The more likely scenario? Show gets pissed and just starts beating on ADR, not breaking at the referee's 5 count, causing himself to get DQ'd and giving Albero the win.

WINNER: Alberto del Rio via DQ

Alex Riley vs The Miz

One month ago, I would have never thought that this match would the highlight of a PPV undercard. But the WWE may have struck gold here. As I like to joke around, this is the match where the "BROMANCE EXPLODES!" A-Ri and Miz were best buds. But after Miz lost the WWE Championship, he started to take his frustrations out on Riley, putting all of the blame on him. After Miz fired Riley and slapped him in the face, Riley finally snapped. He received a big pop and a "RILEY" chant. I'm sure the WWE wasn't expecting that. I for one was worried that the WWE would ruin in the coming weeks, but to my surprise, they've done very well. He even got a rub from Steve Austin and Roddy Piper this past week on RAW.

The question now is how far is the WWE willing to go with Riley. Do I think he is a future main eventer? Right now, no. But I would have said the same thing about the Miz years ago. With the right tooling and mentoring Riley could be one down the line. Right now I see him as a solid mid-card babyface in the coming months. We also haven't seen Riley wrestle a solid singles match yet in the ring. We don't know what to expect from him in that department.

Then of course there is the Miz. A loss to Riley probably wouldn't do too much harm for him, it'd be more of a rub for Riley than shot down for Miz. Miz main evented Wrestlemania and was the former WWE Champion. I win for Riley would do wonders for him. Miz's mic work would help him get any heat lost back on him. Usually if the WWE wants to do an extended program, they would have the heel pick up the first win and have the face extract revenge. But I think if Riley won here, Miz could say it was a fluke and demand a rematch. I think the WWE is high on A-Ri right now, and he scores the upset win here with a quick schoolboy roll-up.

WINNER: Alex Riley

World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton (c) vs Christian

These two have already given us two good matches, and there's no reason they can't do it again. These guys are two veterans that know how to change up a match in the ring. Well, at least Christian. I like to harp on Orton because I think he wrestles almost the same match night in and night out. But these two have good chemistry in the ring and have put on 2 of the best matches in the WWE this year.

Christian's heel turn has been played out well. He finally snapped a couple weeks ago. He knows he can beat Orton, but he's also becoming frustrated with his inability to do so. Christian has attacked him with a belt shot to the head twice now, and now the WWE is playing up a concussion angle between the two. Apparently, Orton does have an actual concussion that he received on a recent international tour. There's talk that if he can't pass a concussion test, this match won't even happen. I think it will though.

I've said numerous times here how I want this program to play out, and it starts with a Christian win here. Even with the win, Orton can be protected. He can say the only reason Christian won is because he was still affected by his concussion. Christian brags about how he finally beat Orton. The rematch at Money in the Bank is a Triple Threat Match involving Sheamus. Then the blow off is at SummerSlam in a TLC Match. If I was making this show, I would have it go on last. It will be the best wrestling match on the show more than likely.

WINNER: Christian

WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs R-Truth

R-Truth has been the best thing in the WWE the last 2 months. Is he a little over the top sometimes? Yes. But he is playing the psycho conspiracy theory freak part perfectly. I think this match should have been saved for a few months. Let Truth get even more heel heat on him, then finally earn his shot against Cena. But the WWE rushed this program for Capitol Punishment. I would have rather seen Punk wrestle Cena here, then save Truth for MITB, or even SummerSlam. Right now, a Truth/Cena SummerSlam match might draw more than a Del Rio/Cena match.

John Cena has been ok in the last month. Not as corny as usual, but still not that entertaining. The problem is almost everybody knows Cena will hold the Title for an extended period of time, but yet the ratings continue to remain stagnant. The WWE needs to realize that there child audience, which apparently istheir new target audience, will tune in every week no matter what. It's the 18-34 male demographic that they are losing. They don't like seeing Cena constantly at the top. They want change, but the WWE doesn't do it. They fell if Cena is not on top, they'll lose $$$. Guess what: He is on top, and business isn't improving. Cena on top constantly isn't the only reason, but it's a decent part of it.

So how does this one play out? I personally would love a R-Truth win here, even if just for a month. But that's probably not happening. While Truth has been great, I doubt Vince has faith in him to carry the company even for a month. But I think Truth's conspiracy theory angle will continue. There's a ref bump. Truth has the match won but there is no referee. Truth revives him but only gets a 2 count. Cena recovers, hits the Attitude Adjustment, and scores the win. Truth complains for a rematch and continues his psycho conspiracy character. This is also why this match goes on last, because Cena winning is what the WWE likes, to send the kids home happy.

WINNER: John Cena

That's all I have today, and for the rest of the week, Capitol Punishment Review will be up Monday. I'll be watching it live at a Buffalo Wild Wings.

Until next time,
Justin C

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The WWE Stock Watch: Who's Up, Who's Down

Hello everyone. Hope you all enjoyed my Chris Jericho column. I enjoyed writing it, I hope you enjoyed reading it.

Before I get into my lastest post, I just want to congratulate the Dallas Mavericks on winning the NBA Championship. Dirk Nowitzki has always been one of my favorite players, and it is great to see all of his hard work finally pay off. Man is a class act and deserved it. Same can be said for Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion. Too bad LeBron, maybe you can come up with more excuses during the off-season for when you don't win the NBA Title next year. I made a bold statement to my friends when LeBron signed with the Heat. I said that the trio of James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh would never win a NBA Championship together. I still stand by it.

So, now on to the topic of today's post. We're almost half way through the 2011 calendar year. Where has all the time gone? I think being this far into the year, we can properly look at how the WWE has done with certain talents so far this year. I'll be evaluating the talent on the rise and declining from where they started at the beginning of the year to where they are now. There are a few breakout performers, while some have taken a surprising dip. There have been two performers who the WWE has done a great job with, while there have been a couple that started off the year great and now have hit a wall. Lets take a look.

Whose Stock Is Up

1. R-Truth

I think this is the most obvious place to start. Can you tell me what R-Truth was doing in January? Yeah me neither. Now? He's easily been the most entertaining part of RAW the last 2 months. Who would have thought turning Truth heel would bring out the best character in his career? Truth's heel character has been great. He plays it off perfectly. He does look and act like someone who has just completely lost it. The way he interacts with the crowd is great.

I think the smartest thing the WWE may have done with Truth so far is that they've limited his work in ring, and let him get over as a heel mostly through talking and beatdowns. Truth is still limited in the ring. His match with Rey Mysterio was ok at Over the Limit, but it didn't go past ten minutes. With Truth main eventing Capitol Punishment, he will need to be able to put on a decent 15 minute main event match. If worked on properly before the match, Truth and Cena could do it. If Warrior and Hogan could, so can Truth and Cena. They are both ok workers who I'm sure can put on a passable *** star main event match.

My one gripe with the R-Truth push is that the WWE is rushing it to a main event match at Capitol Punishment. I think it could have been played out longer. Have him lose a #1 Contender's Match at Capitol Punishment, then lose the RAW Money in the Bank Match before finally finding a way to get a WWE Title Match at SummerSlam. Cena/Truth, if built up and played out properly, could have been a real big match at SummerSlam, possibly bigger than Del Rio/Cena, which is the current plan. Instead, the WWE is rushing the program and booking it for a PPV that is getting barely any hype on TV, and may do as many low buys as Over the Limit did (65,000). It would have been nice for the WWE to build up a long program over the summer, than have the big match at the biggest PPV of the summer.

One thing is for sure, R-Truth has fastly become the best part of RAW. You never know what crazy words will come out of his mouth every week. His antics have been entertaining and different, something we strive for as wrestling fans. Hopefully, after Truth's main event push is up, he keeps some of his momentum. He already has a big feud waiting once John Morrison comes back from injury. I'm guessing that will be his match at SummerSlam, which hopefully will have some decent heat to it.

2. Christian

Things appeared to be lining up perfectly for Christian when he returned at Elimination Chamber. He was immediately interjected into the Edge/Alberto del Rio feud which was the Smackdown main event for Wrestlemania. You just had to think something big was in line for him in the future. Whether he turned on Edge, Edge turned on him, or maybe he would win the World Title off of Alberto del Rio. But then Edge was forced to retire, and things were pushed to the fore-front. Christian took Edge's spot in the World Title match at Extreme Rules, and won the vacant World Heavyweight Title in a Ladder Match. Wrestling fans everywhere rejoiced. Finally, after 15+ years of work in the wrestling business, Christian was being recognized as the great worker he is. It was finally Christian's time to be at the top for a while.

All of that came to a screeching halt 2 days later, when Christian lost the World Title to Randy Orton on Smackdown. Fans everywhere were outraged. There was a lot of over reaction, even on my part. I was frustrated to see Vince put the title back on boring Randy Orton rather than try something knew with Christian. But I didn't give it a chance, as I thought Christian would be relegated back to the mid-card. But to my surprise, the WWE has gotten some great mileage out of this Christian/Orton program. They've had two very good matches: there match at Smackdown and there match at Over the Limit, which is probably wither #2 or #3 on my Match of the Year list.

The program has more legs now that Christian has turned heel. I'm hoping he wins the title this Sunday at Capitol Punishment. It's the only way to properly extend the program. Christian can't keep losing to Orton. I really think this could be stretched out to SummerSlam. At this point, Christian is the only viable candidate to face Orton at SummerSlam. The 3 next heels on Smackdown: Sheamus, Mark Henry, and Cody Rhodes, aren't at a level to main event the second biggest PPV of the year. Christian can win the belt this Sunday, retain it at Money in the Bank possibly in a triple threat or fatal four way match, then lose it to Orton at SummerSlam in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs Match.

I will be the first to admit that I over-reacted to Christian losing the belt so quickly. He's actually done quite well for himself since then, and it is the longest main event push he has received in his long career. Vince obviously has faith in him to work a program with Orton, who Vince sees as his #2 man in the WWE. It's great to see Christian finally have an extended reign at the top.

3. Cody Rhodes

He may currently be stuck in limbo on Smackdown, but there is no denying Rhodes great work from January to April. His program with Rey Mysterio was great. I've always been a Cody Rhodes supporter. I saw one of his first matches here in Buffalo on an episode of RAW. Me and my friends were impressed with him and have rooted for him ever since. We like to say that we are the original members of the Cody Rhodes Fan Club. I met him during my Wrestlemania Weekend and he was a really nice guy, making sure to have a brief conversation with every fan he met.

When Cody was first given his "Dashing" gimmick, I thought it was a complete joke. I thought there was no way it would get over. It seemed too early 90s. But Cody worked hard at it, and he made it work. After his "injury" at the hands of Rey Mysterio, he took the gimmick to a whole new level. He went from being pretty boy, good-looking boy to a serious, dark, demented Cody Rhodes. You could almost say he is a more civilized and tame version of R-Truth. I loved his program with Rey, it was great to see him get a win over Rey at Wrestlemania. His promo on Smackdown after he attacked Rey was great. I wish he would have also won at Extreme Rules in the rubber match. It would have been a nice rub for Cody.

Cody seems to be in the middle of something with Daniel Bryan and Sin Cara. I hope he gets a PPV match with one or both of them. I'd love to see a 10-15 minute match between them. It'd be great. I think once Randy Orton is done with Christian on Smackdown, Cody Rhodes is more than likely next in line. I think he is the top candidate to win the Smackdown Money in the Bank Match, and is more than likely the next young breakout star in the WWE. I could easily see Cody being World Champion by the end of the year, and I hope he at least gets the opportunity to do so. He's shown the ability to get over, now he needs the WWE to show the faith in him to get him to the next level.

4. Alex Riley

If I had done this piece a month ago, Alex Riley's name wouldn't even been worth mentioning, for anything. He was still in his role as Miz's lackey, the guy who took the beating when Miz would run off. He's had his share of screw-ups: his DUI, his slip that caused his early elimination from the Royal Rumble. Up until a few weeks ago, Riley never showed any signs of doing anything in the WWE.

Then it happened. Alex Riley became sick of everything the Miz was putting him through. He was sick of the Miz blaming him for not winning the WWE Championship, and for costing him it. Riley, fed up with the Miz, snapped and attacked him. To the surprise of many I'm sure, Riley received a pretty big ovation from the crowd. He got a pretty big Riley chant. He carried the momentum over to the next week on RAW when he shoved down Michael Cole and chased the Miz off. Riley now has the chance to face the Miz at Capitol Punishment. It is easily the biggest opportunity of Riley's career.

The WWE has a great opportunity here with Riley. They can take somebody who was once considered a laughing stock and make him a solid mid-card babyface. The question will be whether or not the WWE wants to put him over the man they consider to be the future of the company. A win for Riley would do wonders for his career. I would say he could carry the momentum over to Smackdown, but he's apparently been signed by the RAW GM. Who said the Draft is important? While R-Truth may be the most entertaining part of RAW, Riley may be the hottest prospect on RAW. It is certainly in interesting situation that one hopes the WWE does not screw up.

Whose Stock is Down

1. C.M. Punk

The most obvious person to start with. By now, I'm assuming everyone has heard the rumors. Punk's contract is up in July, and right now it doesn't look like he is re-signing. That's a shame. Punk is one of the most entertaining characters to watch every week. His mic work is superb, and it matches his in-ring work. But every wrestler needs a break now and then, and if Punk wants some time off, he deserves it. I feel, however, that this situation is what has caused Punk to drop down on the card.

When Punk took over as the new leader of Nexus, it appeared to be a new start to the group. Instead, the group was fed once again to John Cena. After being taken out by Cena, they were then all taken out one-by-one by Randy Orton. Orton looked dominant over Punk in the entire program. Orton beat Punk at Wrestlemania. Then Orton beat Punk in a Last Man Standing Match at Extreme Rules. Punk and Mason Ryan briefly feuded with the tag champs Big Show and Kane. Now Punk seems to be back in a feud with Rey Mysterio. I don't have a problem with that. The two can put on an entertaining match, but Punk could be used so much more effectively.

Unfortunately for Punk, unless he signs a new contract, I don't see things getting any better for him. The one redeeming quality Punk has is that he can get heat back on him in a heartbeat. He's that great of a talker. Punk can be put in a program with anybody and he can make it work. But Punk has also fallen down the card on the heel side of things. Right now I'd say he is behind Miz, Alberto del Rio, and R-Truth on the RAW side.

In my selfish way, I want C.M. Punk to re-sign. I enjoy him on RAW every week. But I respect his decision if he feels that he needs some time off. Punk has been on the road for some time now and deserves a break. It's a shame, however, that the WWE has felt the need to bury him on the roster. He's been constantly losing PPV matches and hasn't looked strong since the Royal Rumble. But the one thing I guarantee is, when Punk comes back from his break, he will be just as good as he is today.

2. Alberto del Rio

At the beginning of 2011, Alberto del Rio was the hottest star in the WWE. He won the 2011 Royal Rumble, and was over as a heel. Everyone assumed that he would win the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania, but that didn't happen. He ended up losing to Edge. Then after Edge retired, everyone assumed that he would win the vacant World Title at Extreme Rules. Instead, Del Rio was moved to RAW, pretty much making it a lock that he would not win, which he didn't.

Ever since Del Rio has been on RAW, he's been stuck with pretty much nothing. He started off wrestling Rey Mysterio, which was done to death on Smackdown. He didn't have a match at Over the Limit. Now he's stuck in a feud with Big Show and Kane. Hopefully, Del Rio goes over in this program. There is no reason to give Kane or Big Show any rub from this feud. They don't need it. Del Rio does.

At one point Del Rio looked like the next top star in the WWE. Now? His push has been put on hold. As I already said, the word is that the WWE wants to do Cena/Del Rio at SummerSlam. The problem is: Has the WWE already killed off too much of Del Rio's momentum to make this match feel big time. Before Cena/Rock was announced for Wrestlemania 28, I thought for sure this would be the main event of that show. Now it is rushed to SummerSlam, but you have to worry if it will have the same heat it would have had a few months ago. Even if Del Rio does come out on top in this Big Show program, you have to wonder if it will do anything for his heat. Del Rio has went from someone whose stock was as high as it could be, but you have to wonder if some are giving up on the belief that Del Rio will be the star everyone thought he could be.

3. Wade Barrett

Before Alberto del Rio, Wade Barrett looked like the breakout star of 2010. He was the leader of a group of rebels known as the Nexus. The Nexus angle was one of the best things the WWE had done in years. It was new and refreshing. Barrett was handling himself well on the mic and in the ring. At one point, it appeared that he may win the WWE Championship at the end of 2010.

But then the curse of Super Cena happened. Cena and company defeated the Nexus at SummerSlam. Then when Cena was finally forced to join Nexus, he still got the better of him. Then Cena beat Barrett at TLC and effectively killed any momentum he had left. Barrett was then kicked out of Nexus and moved over to Smackdown, where he formed the Corre. For the first month, all Barrett and company did was beat up the Big Show. Barrett won the Intercontinental Title , but it was a small consolation prize. Barrett has done next to nothing on Smackdown. The Corre has gotten jobbed out, as has Barrett.

With the lack of top stars on Smackdown, you would think that the WWE would try to build Barrett back up as a force. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened yet. Barrett continues to dwell in mid-card purgatory and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Barrett is still young and has tones of untapped potential, so there is time to build him back up, but it may take a long time before he is considered a main event threat in the eyes of WWE fans.

4. Sin Cara

Sin Cara received a lot of hype coming in. He was billed as the biggest star coming from Mexico ever. His in ring skills were hyped to be the best that the WWE Universe would ever see. The WWE banked on him being the next Rey Mysterio. They wanted him to be the ultimate cross over star for them in Mexico. They figured that if he could live up to the hype, he could help out there International business greatly.

Unfortunately for the WWE, Sin Cara has struggled in his first 2 months in the WWE. His stock was as high as it possible could be before he even appeared on TV, but it's dropped a great deal since then. His debut entrance was botched, as he almost didn't make it into the ring properly when he jumped off his trampoline. Then his first official match was against Primo, a guy who is essentially a jobber in the WWE. Cara "struggled" to beat him. Then at Over the Limit, Cara missed a few spots against Chavo. After debuting on RAW, Sin Cara was drafted to Smackdown. Essentially, it was to cover up his botched spots. Nobody will ever admit that, but it is hard to argue against hit.

Sin Cara still has backers in the WWE. He was Triple H's first project as head of WWE Talent Development. He's not giving up on him. He's also very capable of putting on a good match. Just watch his tapes from Mexico. Sure that's not WWE style, but it is a move set that can get over in the WWE. Sin Cara probably needed some time to adjust to the WWE life, but that adjustment time should be over by now. Eventually, you have to fit in, and Cara needs to do that soon or risk losing all of his momentum and huge money drawing potential that he had down the line.

There you have it. You could make arguments for others to be included on the list, but that is all I'm going to put on this one.

I will have a Capitol Punishment Preview up on Thursday.

Until next time,
Justin C

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Lion's Journey: A Tribute to Chris Jericho

In a wrestling business that is always changing, a wrestler needs to standout in order to have a lasting impact. They need to have that special ability to connect with the audience. Somehow, the wrestler needs to find a way to get the audience to care about them. It could be their in ring work, it could be their great promo skills, it could be their natural charisma or genuine passion they show for the business. Master any one of those traits, and you will stand out in the fans eyes.

It takes a special person to have every one of those traits. It's a short list. In my opinion, you can count the number of people who have all four of those traits on both hands: Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, Triple H just to name a few. Everything is debatable. Guys like Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior are recognizable names, but they never put on the best matches, and you could argue Warrior lacked a passion for the wrestling business.

Every great wrestler leaves their mark on the business. They're the ones who will always be remembered. They stand the test of time. When they are gone from the business, they are still talked about or remembered by the current crop of wrestling fans. They stood the test of time. They somehow connected with the fans, and those fans made sure he wasn't forgotten.

When talking about wrestlers who stand the test of time and leave a mark in the wrestling business, Chris Jericho has to be on that list. Jericho possess all of those traits I mentioned earlier. He puts on great matches, he's great on the mic, he has a natural charisma, and a passion for the wrestling business. Chris Jericho is a man who understands the wrestling business. He gets it. He knows what the fans want. Jericho can adjust his performance to make it fit in with the current product. Jericho's history of wrestling around the world has given him that great ability to adapt.

Young Chris Jericho in his early stages of the wrestling business

Jericho's wrestling career is a storied one. He's been to almost every corner of the globe. He's wrestling in Europe, Japan, Mexico, and of course North America. Every stop along the way helped contribute to Jericho's career. If he hadn't gone to just one of those places, then we might not have the Chris Jericho that we have today.

Jericho was trained by Stu Hart in the legendary Hart Dungeon. Back then, you knew that anybody coming out of the Hart Dungeon took the wrestling business seriously and was dedicated to the business. His travels took him to Mexico then Japan, before coming back to North America where he competed in Jim Cornette's Smokey Mountain wrestling. He formed a tag team with Lance Storm known as the Thrillseekers. Throughout all of these stops, Jericho was fine tuning his in ring work as well as his ability to connect and read the crowd. It helped him become the wrestler he is today.

In 1996, Jericho caught his first big break when he was discovered by Paul Heyman. At the time, Heyman was running ECW. ECW was still growing at the time. It was a place for talent who either wasn't ready or couldn't hack it in WWE or WCW. Many people consider Heyman to be a wrestling genius, someone who can bring out the best of any wrestler. He started to do that with Jericho. Although Jericho wasn't with ECW for long, he had some good matches with the likes of Taz and Cactus Jack. In his short time in ECW, Jericho immediately one the affection of the fans. The fans in ECW loved blood and violence, but he won them over with his technical skills in the ring. While ECW fans loved violence, they also enjoyed and respected great wrestling. Jericho earned their respect in his short time there with his budding in ring skills.

After ECW, Jericho found his way to WCW. Eric Bischoff has an eye for talent, and he saw something in Chris Jericho. Jericho became a part of WCW's Cruiserweight Division. While guys like Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall were drawing the big $$$, the cruiserweights were putting on some great matches with moves most of the North American viewing audience have never seen before. Often times they were the opening matches on the show. It was a great way to keep viewers before the likes of the nWo came out.

Jericho started off as a bland, run-of-the-mill baby face. As Jericho said on his DVD, there was really nothing he could do as a babyface to get over. But in early 1998, Jericho turned heel and embarked on a run that would help make a name for himself in the wrestling business. Jericho's obnoxious personality helped get him over with the fans, even though he was suppose to be the heel. Jericho would use crazy pop culture one-liners that would leave the audience laughing.

Jericho's best known feud in WCW was with Dean Malenko. Malenko was a very no non-sense wrestler. He let his work in the ring do the talking. Jericho claimed to be a better wrestler than Malenko, but never actually wanted to wrestle him. Malenko was known as the "Man of a 1000 Holds." Jericho, claiming to be the better wrestler, said he knew 1004 holds. This lead to Jericho cutting one of the funniest, and best, promos I personally have ever seen. Jericho had a long list of computer paper with all of his holds listed on it. Anyone who is reading this should go out of their way and find it. It's great. Evey other hold is "ARMBAR." Jericho got even better as the feud continued. Malenko won a Cruiserweight Battle Royal dressed as a masked wrestler known as Ciclope. Malenko then beat Jericho for the Cruiserweight Title. Jericho then began claiming he was a conspiracy victim. He filmed a skit in Washington D.C., walking the streets with a "Conspiracy Victim" sign and even went into the Library of Congress trying to find the rules of wrestling. It was these crazy skits that won Jericho a whole bunch of fans. They were so outlandish that they were funny and memorable. Just like a wrestler needs to, he made his mark with the audience.

After winning the WCW Television Title, Jericho began to call out Bill Goldberg. Goldberg was at the time the hottest thing WCW had. His impressive physique and impact moves won the crowd over. Jericho wrestled an impostor Goldberg at Fall Brawl and beat him. Jericho would continue to call out Goldberg, but Goldberg usually wasn't in the building yet. This was all suppose to build up to a match between Goldberg and Jericho on PPV, but it never happened. According to Jericho, Eric Bischoff and Goldberg didn't think it would draw any money. Jericho thought people would pay to see Goldberg squash him on PPV. The match never happened, which was considered a major disappointment. But it was status quo for WCW at the time. They wouldn't give anybody new a chance to get over. Jericho was held down in WCW, even though he was getting over with the crowd. He was getting frustrated, and rightfully so. The crowd wanted more Jericho, but the Powers that Be wouldn't allow it. Jericho knew it was time to move on, and the WWE gave him the perfect opportunity to do so.

Chris Jericho's debut in 1999 is still one of the most memorable moments in wrestling history

Jericho made his WWE debut in August 1999. His debut was teased for numerous weeks with a "Countdown to the Millennium" clock. He made his debut on RAW, interrupting a Rock promo. That means a lot. Vince McMahon, someone who usually likes his homegrown talent more than outsiders, let Jericho interrupt a promo of  the hottest superstar in the business at that point. Unfortunately, that never really let to much. There was never a feud between the two. Watching Jericho's debut when it happened at the age of 11, I was immediately hooked on him. I only really remembered him on WCW briefly, I was always more of a WWF guy. I was hoping Jericho would be the next big breakout star in the WWE. I loved his exchange with the Rock and thought he came off really well.

In his first 2 years with the WWE, Jericho mostly fought over the Intercontinental Title against the likes of Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, and Chyna. Yes Chyna. Jericho's first taste of the main event cane against Triple H on an episode of RAW in April 2000. Jericho challenged HHH to a match for the WWF Title and won thanks to a fast count from referee Earl Hebner. HHH, who was storyline in charge at the time along with Stephanie & Shane McMahon, forced Hebner to reverse the decision. Many people to this day still argue that it was the wrong decision. The problem was the timing. The Rock was trying to get his Title back from HHH, who he lost it to at Wrestlemania. They were in the middle of a program, and it would have felt awkward having Jericho win the Title in between. The fans were excited to see someone new like Jericho at the top, but it would be wrong to have Jericho's first win only last a week or two. What this small event did show was that the fans were more than willing to get behind Jericho as a main event performer. His in ring work was only getting better, and his  promo skills were one of the best, if not the best in the business. During this time, Jericho also had some great exchanges with Stephanie McMahon. They always got a laugh from me. Again, Vince trusting someone to make fun of his daughter shows he had faith in him. Jericho had the ability to be funny, but also be serious when needed. He knew the proper balance and delivered it effectively.

Jericho's crowning moment of his career came in December 2001. After the horribly botched Invasion angle, which could be an entire blog of its own, Jericho won the Undisputed Championship. I wasn't expecting it, and I'm sure not a lot of others were as well. Jericho was probably #4 on the list of himself Rock, Austin, and Angle as far who had the best chance of winning the title. But again, it showed Vince McMahon's faith in Jericho to carry the company and be the top dog. Jericho's reign only lasted til Wrestlemania 18, where he lost the Title to HHH. But again, it was a highlight of Jericho's career to headline Wrestlemania. Sure, Rock/Hogan was the main draw, but Jericho/HHH went on last.

Winning the Undisputed Championship is something Chris Jericho never thought he could accomplish, but his talent allowed him to do it

Early 2003 saw Jericho start one of his best feuds in his career with Shawn Michaels. The two had a great match at Wrestlemania 19. Great back and forth action. Michaels showed that he still had it, and Jericho showed he was one of the best around at the time. Jericho then went back to a feud with Goldberg before teaming with Christian. The two broke up over what guys usually break up over, women, before Christian beat Jericho at Wrestlemania 20. Jericho feuded with Christian throughout 2004, then re-focused on the WWE Title in 2005. He turned back heel and began a program with John Cena. Jericho was never able to take the Title from Cena, and lost a "You're Fired" match to him on RAW in August 2005. Jericho's contract was expiring, and he wanted to take some time off from the business, which I respected Jericho for. Wrestlers are on the road more than they are at home every year. Jericho needed to re-charge and take a step back. He basically needed to re-tool his character so that when he came back, he would make a different impact than he did before.

"Chris Jericho is somebody I enjoy have around. He's had a wonderful career for a lot of reasons, because he's good at his job. And when he was gone, there was something missing." John Cena

"It was a great way to put a stamp on that stage of my career. I just needed to get away, I was burned out." Chris Jericho on leaving in 2005

Jericho returned to the WWE in late 2007. His return, which was the worst kept secret in wrestling, was very similar to his WWE debut. He interrupted a Randy Orton promo and immediately challenged him for his WWE Championship. Jericho never won the Title. He went on to feud with JBL after he cost Jericho his WWE Championship match against Orton.

"He has the ability to make you hate him, and as Y2J make you love him. But he's very smart in that I think he saw that when he first came back after a two year absence he was kind of doing the same thing before he left, and he realized that the climate had changed in that two years. So he had to completely about face things." Edge

Even though the fans were happy to see Jericho back, he wasn't getting the same reaction he did in his first run in the WWE. He knew he had to change his persona. The fans wanted something different. They had seen this Chris Jericho before, and they wanted something new. And Jericho gave that to them. He viciously attacked Shawn Michaels, bashing his head into the JeriTron 5000 and storyline injured his eye. The two fought at the Great American Bash, which saw Jericho reinjure HBK's eye. Michaels was going to retire at SummerSlam, but Jericho interrupted his speech. Jericho went to go punch HBK, but hit his wife Rebecca instead. The two fought in an Unsanctioned Match at Unforgiven, which Michaels won. Jericho got the last laugh, however, by winning the World Heavyweight Title in a Scramble Match. Jericho beat Michaels in a Ladder Match at the next PPV, capping off an incredible feud. I would argue that it was the best of Jericho's career, better than his first time around with Michaels. The intensity was amped up. Jericho took his new suit-wearing, no non-sense, better than you persona and played it up to a tee. I loved this new Chris Jericho. He was able to change his character and adapt to the desires of the audience.

Shawn Michaels may have won the battle, but Jericho got the last laugh at Unforgiven

After losing the title to Cena, Jericho began insulting various legends of the wrestling business. He defeated Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka in a match at Wrestlemania 25. Jericho moved to Smackdown where he started a feud with Rey Mysterio over the Intercontinental Title. I loved this for many reasons. First off, the two put on some great matches, especially their match at the Great American Bash. Second, two main event level wrestlers were fighting over the IC Title. That made the belt seem more important than it had in a very long time. That was great to see. Jericho then formed a tag team with Edge, but after Edge's injury he chose Big Show as his new partner. They won the Tag Team Titles. The two made the tag team titles relevant again, and it was probably the last time they were relevant in a long time. After losing the tag titles to DX, Jericho was able to win back the World Title in the Elimination Chamber. He defended it successfully against Edge at Wrestlemania, only to lose it at the next Smackdown to Jack Swagger. Jericho was drafted back to RAW. After unsuccessful attempts to win the WWE Title, Jericho was punted in the head by Randy Orton and written off of television. Jericho again wanted to take time off from the wrestling business. He loved everything about it, but needed to re-charge again and attempt other projects outside of wrestling.

Phew, that was one long history on Chris Jericho. But the man has such a storied history that it's tough to skip over certain parts of his career or condense them down to something short. There's just so much to like about his career. Once he got to the WWE, there was hardly ever a down point. Everything he did was interesting. He was funny when he needed to be, he was serious when he needed to be. Both of his runs in the WWE each had their own unique aspects, and surprisingly enough, he never suffered a serious injury in either of them. That is a rarity in the pro wrestling business.

So, looking back, what were Jericho's Top 5 opponents in his wrestling career? Here's my Top 5:
5. Rey Mysterio: You could go back to some of their matches in WCW, but I mostly liked their feud in the summer of 2009. It was great, entertaining wrestling all around. Two pros doing what they do best. As I said earlier, it was great to see two established main event wrestlers feuding over the Intercontinental Title. I would recommed anybody to go out and see their two matches at Extreme Rules and the Great American Bash. It was some of Mysterio's best work in his WWE career.

4. The Rock: Towards the end of the Invasion angle, the two began forming an animosity between each other. Jericho was jealous of all The Rock's success, and he wanted the WWE spotlight for himself. The two were arguably the best talkers at the time in the business, and watching them exchange verbal jabs at each other every week was highly entertaining. Jericho got the best of The Rock in both of their matches, at Vengeance 2001 and Royal Rumble 2002. That means something, saying you beat the Rock on 2 straight PPVs.

3. Stephanie McMahon: Now I may get some flack for this, but there is no denying the great chemistry these two had. As Jericho said in his DVD, she was a great foil to him. There was a point when Stephanie McMahon was arguably the most hated person in the WWE, and Jericho used that to his advantage. His constant mockery of her got laughs out of everybody. It helped establish Jericho on the mic as one of the best around. By interacting with the most hated person in the Company, it showed people that Jericho had what it took to stay at the top.

2. Dean Malenko: Jericho's program with Malenko helped but him on the map. It showed that he had the potential to be the next breakout star in the business. It lead to two great skits, the Armbar promo and Conspiracy Theory skit. It also lead to some good matches. Jericho showed his ability to get over and respond to what the audience wanted in this program. It's ashame that WCW failed to capitalize on Jericho's momentum after this program.

1. Shawn Michaels: His first program with HBK was great, his second one was even better. Jericho was still the semi-goofy rockstar character in their first program. It was more of a student/teacher type of program. Jericho was facing the man he idolized his entire career. Their second program brought the big time feel. It had great emotion, drama, intensity, everything you would want in a wrestling feud. The story told at Unforgiven was great. Michaels finally got his revenge on Jericho, but Jericho STILL managed to one up him in the end, walking out as World Heavyweight Champion, then beating Michaels in a Ladder Match at No Mercy. These two were perfect for each other.

"When you get in the ring with Chris, he brings out the best in you. He makes you better." Chavo Guerrero

There's so much that can be said about Chris Jericho. From a die-hard wrestling fan like myself, I like and respect everything he did. He was that damn good at it. There is a reason people are desperate for him to return to the WWE. Plug him in to TV today and he will be just as entertaining as he was when he left. The guy doesn't miss a beat. As I said about Randy Savage, Jericho is one of those guys that I believe can be plugged into any generation of wrestling and he would find a way to get over. Jericho has a great knowledge of what the wrestling audience wants and can adjust his character accordingly. His vast experience of wrestling around the globe has helped him do that.

Jericho's storied career is an example of the passion he has for the business. Not many guys would travel the world like he did just to perfect his craft. But Jericho used every stop to his advantage. He grew as a performer, and a person, at every one of them. His travels around the world made him almost a skilled veteran by the time he came back to North America. Wrestling outside of the United States is very different. They like different aspects of the performance, and it isn't as big of a joke as it is over here. Those fans helped Jericho become what he is today.

Chris Jericho has had a very successful life, even outside of wrestling. His rock band, Fozzy, is very popular in Europe and Canada. Jericho has hosted and been a part of a variety of pop culture shows on VH1. He's also written two of the best wrestling books ever published: A Lion's Tale and Undisputed. Every wrestling fan should go out and read them. He recently appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Although he was eliminated early, he had fun every single week he was there. Jericho's out going personality makes his cross over to other areas of entertainment very easy. He is a genuiely funny guy who loves entertaining the masses. While he may not be known to the non-wrestling audience immediately, he always finds a way to win them over with his personality, charisma, and rugged good looks.

Jericho's place in wrestling history is debatable. When you talk about mainstream wrestlers, ones known to even non-wrestling fans, Jericho's name probably won't come up. By I think that is a stupid way to judge wrestlers. That's only a partial way to judge wrestlers. While that should be taken into account, other aspects should as well. If you take into account his in ring work, promo skills, dedication to the business, and growth as a performer, Jericho is high up on that list. Depending on who you ask, Jericho could be Top 10. In my opinion, he's guaranteed Top 25, and would fall anywhere between 8-25. In my biased opinion, he's one of my Top 7 performers ever. I don't like keeping a ranking. Shawn Michaels is my favorite, hands down. After that, I would put The Rock, Steve Austin, Sting, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, and Chris Jericho in one big group. Each one of them have their own likeable assets. In ring wise, Jericho is very similar to Savage. I would have loved to see a Savage/Jericho feud, especially serious Jericho. Those seven guys compose my Top 7. They're all great performers for different reasons.

Chris Jericho idolized Shawn Michaels early in his career. As evidence by his young photo, he resembled a Rockers version of Shawn Michaels. Both Jericho and Michaels were masters of their craft. And similarly, both performers had two very distinct runs in the WWE. In Michaels first run with the WWE, he was an obnoxious loose cannon, but he was also a great wrestler. During his second run, he was an esatblished veteran who turned his life around when given a second chance. In Jericho's first run, he was a goofball joker, always cracking jokes and ripping on his opponents. But again, he was also a great wrestler. In his second run, he was a no non-sense straight shooter. He spoke the truth, whether the fans liked it or not. It's amazing how the career paths of Jericho and Michaels are so similar. Both great workers, both great promos, both had two distinct and different runs in their WWE career. You could also argue that both of their second runs were better than their first. Jericho's suit-wearing personna was one of the best characters in the WWE during 2008 and 2009. Fans cheered him despite being the bad guy. They respected his work ethic, and Jericho deserved it. Some people say that if the bad guy gets cheered, he's not doing his job right. Well Jericho was doing his job right. He was doing everything a heel is suppose to do, but he was so good at it that the fans loved him for it. At the time, he really was "the best in the world at what he did."

Chris Jericho is a very humble man. He will be the first to tell you that there are plenty of other wrestlers better than him. But that list is very short. When it comes to legends in the business, Chris Jericho's name has to be in that discussion. His career is a story of hard work, determination, and dedication to the wrestling business. Much like Edge, Randy Savage, and Christian, all guys I wrote about, fans can idnetify with Jericho because he was built very similarly to a normal guy, not one of the larger than life guys in the wrestling business. He perfected his craft over many years, and today is recognized as one of the better in ring workers of all time. All of his matches are entertaining. Jericho knows how to read a crowd. He gives them what they want. He respects the fans opinion, and the fans respect him, good or bad.

I hope Chris Jericho comes back for one more run. I love watching him perform and do his thing on TV. The WWE needs a solid go to guy right now, and Jericho can be that guy. He can be the veteran to help establish new talent and get them over. But if Jericho doesn't come back, he's still had one hell of a career. He's a great performer who always entertains night in and night out. Many times, you have to agree with him, he was "the best in the world at what he did."

As a wrestling fan, I want to say thank you for everything you have done in the wrestling business Chris. No matter what you think, you are one of the very best to ever step foot inside the squared circle. You're one of the few guys I always made sure to watch when you were on TV. I respect you as a performer and everything you've done in and out of the ring. Thank You.

Until next time,
Justin C