WWE Weekly Recap: Why John Cena needs to be protected

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Just when it looked like we were headed for another week of ho-hum WWE programming, a bit of history was made on Tuesday night when Dean Ambrose pinned John Cena clean in the middle of the ring.

It marked the first time in 11 years that John Cena had been defeated on SmackDown. The last time Cena looked up at the bright lights for a three count was the night the Doctor of Thuganomics dropped the U.S. title to Orlando Jordan.

Some will read the paragraph above and think: “Well he rarely appeared on SmackDown after he was drafted to Raw in 2005.” So for those people, here’s another stat to sip on; It was the first time in seven years that he was pinned clean on television (HHH did the honors on the Sept. 19th 2009 edition of Raw).

At first, Ambrose’s win over Cena seemed like no big deal to me. With the triple threat coming up at No Mercy between Styles-Cena-Ambrose, it makes sense for creative to make Deano feel like he’s at the same level with Cena by beating him.

But then I continued the thought and realized that the shock value of Cena eating a clean pin wasn’t nearly the same as it usually is. I wondered why that was and then it hit me, AJ Styles just beat Cena at SummerSlam without any nefarious means.

In less than a month, the WWE’s most protected superstar of the last decade has been pinned clean twice. I’m sure there are many “Cena sucks” people out there who are thrilled with the result on Tuesday night, but here’s the problem with booking Cena like this:

If John Cena becomes a part-timer that puts guys over more frequently than he has in the past, the WWE will lose one of their two chips that can be played to boost guys to a superstar level. The other chip is this crazy guy:


Cena’s status as the face of the WWE brand won’t take a hit if he gets continues to lose at this rate, because the company doesn’t value wins and losses, which means the fans shouldn’t care when a fresh face on the rise beats him clean in the middle of the ring.

It’s a gigantic flaw in logic that I’ll explore at a later date because I don’t want to get too sidetracked.

A triumph over Cena without outside help should signal the elevation of a character from the upper mid-card to the main event. In the case of Ambrose this past Tuesday, it might help him gain some of the momentum he lost during his title run, but I get the sense that the crowd started to turn on Ambrose due to the quality of his in-ring performances. They severely dipped after he won the title in June.

Back to Cena. As frustrating as it is for people who are sick of #SuperCena’s reign as the face of the company, he’s vital to boosting this “new era” of talent. The only way that’s going to happen is if the aura of beating John Cena still exists when it’s time to bump Baron Corbin up to the top of the card, or when guys like Samoa Joe, Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode make their way up to the main roster from NXT,

Cena will be away from WWE from mid-October until mid-December (he’s filming the second season of American Grit), which means he ain’t winning the title at No Mercy, but it also means the SmackDown main event scene is going to be a combination of Styles, Ambrose, Orton, Wyatt (hahaha just kidding, dude is destined to cut aimless promos on the upper mid-card forever).

Orton-Styles for the WWE world title at Survivor Series should be a fine match, but after that, SmackDown’s matches for SS don’t exactly look appealing. Baron Corbin vs. Ambrose? Ambrose vs. Miz for the IC title? American Alpha vs. Slyno? Ambrose vs. Wyatt (ugh, again). Jack Swagger vs. a microphone? Curt Hawkins vs. a fact checker?

SmackDown has been much better (this is a drastic understatement) than Raw lately due to the superior writing, but it’s only a matter of time before the lack of depth dominates the conversation about WWE’s Tuesday night show.

The only way for this problem to be remedied is good writing, strong booking and protecting John Cena, so he can help everyone else on the roster.

The WWE is such a warped world man.


Cruising for a problem

The cruiserweight division made its debut on Monday night and well, it was lackluster to say the least. I didn’t have a problem with Mick Foley’s introductions, even if he did hop on a struggle bus during his rendition of a Mark Twain quote.

The match itself between Gran Metalik, Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander was very good, even though it did feel like a choreographed spot fest at times. The action was stiff and different than the other matches we saw on Monday night.

Last positive note here: I liked the effort to change the graphics and colors on the stage to make the division feel like it was separate from the rest of the show. Going forward the cruiserweights shouldn’t interact with anyone else on the show, unless they’re in the same weight class.

OK, now let’s get the negative stuff out of the way.

Where the hell was T.J. Perkins? Why didn’t creative have TJP come out after Kendrick won the match? He didn’t even have to cut a promo! Just have a good ol’ fashion stare down.

Why did this segment air in the middle of the third hour? The enthusiasm of the live crowd usually dies somewhere between the end of the second hour and the beginning of the third hour (can be earlier depending on how bad the show is), so why not open the show with the Fatal Four Way? The crowd would have been so much more into the match and it would have made the division feel more important.

But nooooo, we had to have another talking segment between Roman Reigns, Stephanie, Foley and Kevin Owens.


Where were the handshakes and cool individual profile pieces? Two aspects of the Cruiserweight Classic that made the show feel drastically different were the handshakes prior to the match and the profile style video packages. Instead of showing in-ring highlights, run the damn video packages again so people can actually get a little backstory on these guys.

I know it’s a Fatal Four Way, but you can still do the handshake bit. Maybe Kendrick doesn’t want to shake anyone’s hand, which makes him an instant heel. There are potential programs that could have been set up with this device.

There’s plenty of tweaking that needs to be done to the presentation of the division, so I won’t totally bury it, but man this was really disappointing considering how great the CWC was.

Was Raw finally better than SmackDown?


Time to “Go Home”

– The SmackDown tag team division has been ripped by quite a few people, but the pathetic tag division on Raw was exposed big time on Monday night. The New Day, Gallows and Anderson, The Shining Stars and Enzo & Cass were all in the ring for a segment and it hit me that this is the entire tag division on Raw.

– Can Raw please trade Gallows and Anderson to SmackDown for the Usos. If you think about it, the Usos heel turn could have easily been done on Raw. Just replace American Alpha with Enzo and Cass.

– Gallows and Anderson would be such a better fit on SmackDown. #TheClub4Life

– Same goes for the women’s division. Give me SmackDown’s six over the six women on Raw. Which seems ridiculous considering Bayley-Sasha-Charlotte are all on Raw, but not so ridiculous when you consider how (profanity deleted) terrible the writing has been on WWE’s flagship show.

– Cage matches are supposed to keep interference out, but I wish Rusev and Rollins would have interrupted the main event on Monday, but hey, wins and losses don’t matter, so why should I care that the Universal champion lost?

– Stephanie’s performance in the backstage segment with Rollins was porn star level bad.

– Remind me again why Apollo Crews was brought up from NXT.

– Orton vs. Rowan literally put me to sleep.

– So the WWE is considering a “shooters” style stable for SmackDown. Ziggler, Swagger and Shelton Benjamin would be in the group. I’ll believe it when I see it.

– I hope The Miz holds onto the IC title for the rest of the year, guy is on a roll right now.

– Will Stephanie turn on Foley before Owens turns on Jericho?



Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDargis

Daniel Bryan medically cleared to return to WWE

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After more than two years of medical evaluations, Daniel Bryan has been cleared to return to in-ring competition by neurosurgeons, neurologists, and concussion experts including Dr. Robert Cantu, Dr. Javier Cárdenas and Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.

The final key was Bryan being cleared by WWE’s medical director Dr. Joseph Maroon and today that hurdle was leaped.

Even though Bryan was forced to retire from in-ring competition after a series of concussions in 2015 and 2016, he never gave up on his dream of returning to the ring.

Bryan tried every resource he could to get his mind and body in a position where he could be cleared by Dr. Maroon, but as of a few months ago, it looked like Bryan’s on-screen role as the general manager of SmackDown was going to be his permanent placement until his contract ended in the fall.

Bryan hinted at working in Mexico (AAA), Japan (New Japan Pro Wrestling), and the U.S. (Ring of Honor) after his WWE contract came to an end, but now that has completely changed.

What Bryan’s role will be at WrestleMania is up in the air right now, but it makes sense for him to tag with Shane McMahon against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, as the four have had a long-term on-screen storyline.

Twitter: @ScottDargis


It’s His Time: Jeff Jarrett will be inducted into WWE’s Hall of Fame Class of 2018

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The phrase never say never is one that is used quite often in the world of professional wrestling. It’s a saying that is mostly used to drum up interest in a person’s potential return to a company or an unlikely dream match that sends the Internet into a tizzy.

But in this instance, the phrase couldn’t be more appropriate because Jeff Jarrett is the newest member of WWE’s Hall of Fame.

That’s right, J-E-double-F J-A-double-R-E-double-T is going into the H-O-F.

“I would have never dreamed that in 2018 I’d be going into the Hall of Fame,” Jarrett said to NBC Sports last week, “but as I’ve sat back and looked I said, ‘Welp, I guess there are some things that are just meant to be.’”

Considering how Jarrett’s tenure with the WWE ended in 2001, there are quite a few people who never thought the door would be open for Double-J to return.

When WWE purchased WCW back in 2001, Vince McMahon infamously fired Jarrett live on television. This wasn’t just a standard segment in which Vince “fired” someone, this was a legit termination:

For someone who grew up and then went on to succeed in the wrestling business, Jarrett understood Vince’s line of thinking, “Vince does a lot of things well,” Jarrett said. “And he knows how to produce great TV. To me that night was just good TV.”

Even though the wrestling landscape in the United States seemed dry after WWE purchased WCW and ECW folded, Jarrett wasn’t worried about his future after being fired live on television.

“It’s a business and I knew that I was going to be getting paid on my Turner contract for about another eight or nine months, so I didn’t even think to address it that night,” Jarrett said.

Just over a year later after his firing, Jarrett and his father, Jerry, launched a new pro wrestling promotion: Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. A promotion that would launch the careers of future WWE/NXT superstars including: AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Eric Young, and Bobby Roode.

But what if Jarrett wasn’t fired in 2001? What if he stayed in what was arguably the biggest transition period in the history of WWE?

“I’ve never been a guy to look in the rearview mirror and talk about what ifs, I’ve always been a guy who looks forward,” Jarrett said.

“I think from an in-ring perspective, I was just hitting my prime years in the early 2000s. I would have loved to work with the guys in WWE during that time period, but it wasn’t meant to be. I took my career in another direction and I’m glad I did so, but the Hall of Fame is another opportunity for things to come full circle.”

And boy, are things going to come full circle.

As of now, AJ Styles is set to defend his WWE championship against Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania. Styles was one of the first pieces of fresh talent that Jarrett gave a major opportunity to in the early days of TNA. Without Jarrett’s vision, who knows if the “Phenomenal One” would have blossomed into the standout performer he is today.

For Jarrett, the idea of going into the Hall of Fame on the same weekend that Styles defends the WWE title at the company’s biggest show of the year is poetic justice.

“I don’t believe in coincidences, only convergences and AJ headlining and me going in to the Hall of Fame is perfect,” Jarrett said. “He’s been a friend since the early days of our relationship and it’s been great to watch him progress as a performer. I can’t say enough about the guy.”

Not only will this be a special moment for all of the superstars on the WWE roster who were given an opportunity to learn and grow on television thanks to Jarrett, it will truly be a special moment for his family.

Professional wrestling has been a three generation business for the Jarrett family. Decades before Jeff and his father launched TNA, Jerry Jarrett founded the Continental Wrestling Association in 1977, which eventually merged with World Class Championship Wrestling to become the United States Wrestling Association.

Jeff’s grandmother got into the business in the 1940s and quickly worked her way up. Working in her promotion at the concession stand helped Jarrett realize just how viable the wrestling business could be as a form of income.

When Jarrett is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he’s going to make sure that it’s a memorable time for everyone in his family who has helped him achieve this career milestone.

“It’s a humbling honor and I will be accepting it on behalf of just not myself, but my wife Karen, who has had to go through ups and downs. My dad, my stepmom, my uncle, who just passed away. My grandfather, my grandmother on the other side of my family,” Jarrett said.

“It’s a three generation business, so I’m accepting it for everyone in my family because it is a family business. That is something that is so humbling to me. I’m the one who got picked, but it’s really an award for the entire Jarrett family.”

Jarrett stayed mum about his future plans, who reached out to him from WWE about going into the HOF, and wouldn’t reveal who will induct him into the Hall of Fame, even though he already has an idea of who it will be. However, he didn’t stay quiet when asked why this is the right time for him to join the collection of wrestling’s biggest names.

“Quite frankly I’ve thought about that. Who am I? Why am I going in now? They asked and I had to do a head-scratcher because it was literally a shock,” he said. “There are less than 200 wrestlers in the Hall of Fame and you think about the thousands of guys that have laced up the boots and I’m going to be one of those 200. It just doesn’t seem right in my brain.”

While it may not seem right in Double-J’s brain, the convergence of important dates in Jarrett’s life will come to a head when he walks up to the microphone for his speech in New Orleans.

“When I first heard about it I looked at my calendar and saw that the date of the ceremony is April 6, 2018 and April 6 of 1986 was the day that I had my very first match. So 32 years to the day is sort of surreal.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis