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WWE Weekly Recap: The Reality of the Disposable Era

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Remember when Batista defeated Mr. Kennedy for the World Heavyweight Championship in 2007?

Nope.

Or the time John Cena defeated Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship at The Great American Bash?

Doesn’t ring a bell.

What about the classic seven-on-seven elimination tag match between The Nexus and Team WWE at SummerSlam in 2010?

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Don’t be ashamed, there’s plenty of people who don’t remember those matches.

Quite a few of them attended SmackDown last Tuesday when The Miz stunningly brought out what’s left of the Spirit Squad to confront Dolph Ziggler about his “disappointing” career. Kenny and Mikey did their usual shtick and while it was a fine performance, the crowd had no idea who these two male cheerleaders were.

This is an accurate depiction of what the crowd sounded like when their music hit:

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Ten years ago, the Spirit Squad was involved in a long feud with D-Generation X. They were linked in storyline to Vince and Shane McMahon, which is very important in the world of WWE. In other words, this was an act that was pushed up to a main event program with four of the most important guys on the roster at that point.

So when The Miz reintroduced the Spirit Squad last week, you would think the crowd would respond with a nostalgia pop that everyone gets when they make their return to WWE television.

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Even the pockets of hardcore fans that always make noise at WWE shows were silent as Kenny and Mikey made their way down to the ring.

The lack of reaction for the SS got me thinking, is this an isolated incident, or would a good chunk of the talent from 2006-11 receive a similar reaction if they returned to WWE?

Sidenote: WWE’s unofficial eras are as follows:

  • 1982–1993: The Golden Age
  • 1993–1996: New Generation Era
  • 1996–2001: The Attitude Era
  • 2001–2002: The Invasion
  • 2002–2008: Ruthless Aggression Era
  • 2007–2013: The PG Era
  • 2013 – 2016: The Reality Era

(Thanks for the layout Wikipedia. Note, I made some changes/updates to the list.)

If Montel Vontavious Porter’s music hit or if the guitar screeched for John Morrison’s entrance, would anyone in the crowd care? What about Carlito, Shelton Benjamin, (he was a star a bit earlier than 2006, but it feels like he belongs in this group) or Bobby Lashley?

When you think about the period of time WWE romanticizes (Monday Night War/Attitude era ’96-’01) there’s a strong case to be made that most of the product from the last decade is Disposable.

Here’s a good example: Lately WWE has been running commercials for WWE Network featuring packages of highlights focused on Ric Flair, DX and John Cena. The Flair ad is marketed towards fans of 80s-early 90s wrestling. The ad featuring D-Generation X is for fans of WWE’s most important era, while the John Cena ad is for all of the little kids who just can’t get enough of him.

Even though Cena is technically a member of the Disposable Era, he’s Generation Z’s Hulk Hogan. Making a WWE Network commercial around the idea of going back and reliving Cena’s biggest moments is a great idea.

The problem here is, the only other main eventers who are still on the roster from this time period are Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, The Miz (he headlined WrestleMania 27, so I have to include him here) and Brock Lesnar, who works like five days a year.

The rest of the guys in prominent roles during that time period are either in the mid-card, wrestling for other companies or working for CollegeGarageSale.com.

There’s little reason for anyone to go back and watch a random Pay-Per-View event from 2008 on the Network, so most of the guys and gals who filled out the roster during this time period are going to be forgotten.

By my count, there are only four guys who could return from this period and receive a sustained main event reaction, CM Punk (highly unlikely that he’ll return), Rey Mysterio (ain’t happening) and The Hardys (this is a fascinating case because would they be BROKEN or just “The Hardy Boyz?”).

(I thought about including Cody Rhodes, but I don’t know how long the crowd would stay with him. I didn’t think Batista was worth mentioning because most of the crowd would chant “Bluetista”.)

#FlashbackTweet incoming:

Back when rumors were flying around for the draft, there was a push to bring back talent from the D.E. Here are the names that have decided to return to WWE: Jinder Mahal (hasn’t made an appearance on Raw in weeks), Curt Hawkins (let’s face the facts, this gimmick is going nowhere) Shelton Benjamin, and now the Spirit Squad.

Instead of bringing back guys from an era that has no significant meaning in WWE history, it’s time to raid NXT in order to give the roster another shot in the arm (especially on SmackDown) because more acts like the Spirit Squad will inject the audience with a dose of anesthesia.

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Why is no one following the buzzards?

Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton was the final match at No Mercy last Sunday and the crowd sounded exactly like they did during the Spirit Squad entrance on SmackDown. This felt like a main event at the end of a bad three-hour edition Raw.

The low level of crowd heat was rivaled by the tag match between Kane-Orton vs. Wyatt-Luke Harper on Tuesday night. When Kane received the first hot tag of the match, you could have heard a fart in the crowd. Orton did all he could to get the crowd into his hot tag, but not even crickets cared about the finish of the match.

So what’s wrong with Wyatt? I think it’s likely a combination of his placement on the card (he’s never “won” a major feud, I’m looking at you Mr. Hustle, loyalty and respect), and his promos (at first they felt groundbreaking, but over time, they’ve devolved into nonsense; when Wyatt speaks, he should be pushing the envelope instead of rambling for four minutes).

Wyatt is a solid worker in the ring, but that doesn’t matter if the crowd doesn’t care about the story that’s being told on the microphone. He isn’t talking anyone into the building for a match. Instead, he’s talking them to boredom.

(The cat GIF from earlier applies here as well)

The wacky backstage segments between Wyatt and Orton certainly didn’t help the build for their match at No Mercy, but the creative team is in a tough spot when they have to write something for Wyatt. His character is supposed to be a cult leader with a splash of supernatural abilities, but in this day and age, a crowd just isn’t going to respond to it the way a crowd in the 80s or 90s would have.

The character isn’t dead by any means, just look at the reaction his entrance gets every week, but there is some serious rehab that needs to be done if he’s ever going to crack the upper mid-card barrier that he’s been stuck underneath for years.

Was Raw better than SmackDown this week?

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Time to “Go Home”

– James Ellsworth did the one thing you’re not supposed to do when taking the Styles Clash (tuck your chin). Luckily for Ellsworth, Styles recognized that Ellsworth was out of position and adjusted on the fly by landing on his feet.

– AJ usually lands on his knees, but moments like the clip below must have made Styles realize that he needs to look down before landing on his knees.

– Anyone else cringe when Shane talked down to Styles? Felt like a Stephanie segment.

– I thought the crowd reaction to Ellsworth “pinning” Styles was really weak. The finish to the match felt sloppy and disconnected because the crowd couldn’t properly heat up for the three count.

– I know I say this every week, but Jericho really is on fire right now. His smile when Stephanie told him that he would be inserted into the title match at Hell in a Cell if he beat Rollins was hilarious. Crossing her off of the “List of Jericho” was also a nice touch.

– So Dolph Ziggler wears a Hype Bros. shirt during his opening promo, but Heath Slater and Rhyno come out to make the save when Miz and the Spirit Squad start beating him up. #Logic

– I thought Miz’s promo to Ziggler was fantastic and made Ziggler look like such a geek.

– “He killed Kenny!” – Mauro after Ziggler superkicked Kenny.

– Paul Heyman is a master at his craft. Instead of just talking up Brock for five minutes, he made Goldberg’s return feel incredibly important and got a very loud Goldberg chant going.

– Kudos to the New Day and Cesaro/Sheamus for making a botch by Kofi feel like it was a planned spot.

– Braun Strowman should probably bench the running dropkick.

– The wrestlers participating in the Cruiserweight Classic had to legitimately weigh in at or under 205 pounds. There’s no chance in hell Sin Cara is under 205 pounds with the way he’s been hitting catering.

– Kudos to creative to thinking they could use Sasha Banks to help Roman Reigns get a positive reaction. It didn’t work in the opening segment or their awkward backstage interaction, but his leaping spear on Rusev while Sasha submitted Charlotte got a very good reaction.

– The Survivor Series challenge issued by Shane and Daniel Bryan felt so scripted. These two need to be in front of a live crowd for segments like this.

– Rollins vs. Jericho was an excellent TV match.

– I have no idea what to make of Sanity’s theme music.

– Please Vince, PLEASE let this happen:

Follow me on Twitter: @ScottDargis

Kurt Angle to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame

ORANGE, CA - MAY 08:  Wrestler Kurt Angle arrives at the Lions Gate Premiere of "See No Evil" at the Century Stadium Promenade 25 on May 8, 2006 in Orange, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
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Oh it’s true, it’s true.

WWE announced today that Kurt Angle will be going into their Hall of Fame on March 31st at the Amway Center in Orlando as part of WrestleMania week.

The 1996 Olympic gold medalist is a five-time WWE world champion and regarded as one of the best in-ring talents to ever grace the squared circle. Angle last appeared in a WWE ring way back in August of 2006.

In a press release, WWE’s Executive Vice President Paul “HHH” Levesque said, “Kurt Angle’s accomplishments both in the Olympics and WWE were extraordinary. He was one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring, and we are honored to welcome him into the WWE Hall of Fame.”

WrestleMania 33 will be held Sunday, April 2nd from the Orlando Citrus Bowl live on WWE Network.

WWE Weekly Recap: 2017 Royal Rumble Odds

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For the first time in many years, the favorite to win the Royal Rumble isn’t obvious. In fact, this feels like one of the more unpredictable Rumble matches in WWE history.

Five guys who would be considered a favorite to win the match (Seth Rollins, The Undertaker, Braun Strowman, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar) are rumored to have their WrestleMania programs locked in and none are scheduled to be for either of the company’s main championships.

Instead of being a device that’s used to give an established star a main event spot at Mania, the Rumble might actually be used as a launching pad for a future world champion.

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With that in mind, here’s how I would rank the field:

Baron Corbin 6/1 (+600)

The odds may surprise you, but Corbin has been booked very strong ever since his better-than-expected chairs match with Kalisto at the TLC Pay-Per-View. He was given a lot of offense in the triple threat match for the WWE title on the “Wild Card Finals” episode of SmackDown and “controlled” 80 percent of his match against John Cena this past Tuesday.

Corbin is ascending into the world title picture and it’s totally logical to picture “The Lone Wolf” ending the first PPV of WrestleMania season by pointing at the giant WM sign.

With Goldberg-Lesnar, Undertaker-Strowman, and HHH-Rollins penciled in for Mania, Corbin vs. Styles, Cena or both, is a perfectly fine match (with entrances) to fill 20-25 minutes of the show. Corbin has shown enough in the ring lately for me to buy that he’s ready for a high level match.

Finn Balor 8/1 (+800)

If either Owens or Reigns walk out of the Universal Championship match in San Antonio with the red strap, Balor has a built-in story with either guy.

Balor beat Reigns clean in the middle of the ring during his first night on Raw and after the match Roman said he would love another crack at Balor.

Owens was handed the championship by Triple H, but HHH also has a connection with Balor that could easily be worked up with one or two backstage interactions if creative wanted to go that route.

If not, Balor and Owens could hearken back to their feud in NXT, which produced a set of extremely good matches in the Summer of 2015. Their NXT title match at “Beast in the East” was one of my favorites that year and 30 percent of that was thanks to the streamers that were thrown at the end of Balor’s entrance.

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No matter who Balor works with, he’s going to put on a great performance and if WWE wants to have a NJPW style match at Mania, the Demon King would be the perfect person to insert into it.

Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura 9/1 (+900)

A debuting superstar has never won the Royal Rumble, but if there was ever a time to do it, this is it.

Joe is the more likely option out of the two, considering that he just dropped the NXT title to Nakamura and failed to beat him in the rematch, but if Nakamura loses the title to Bobby Roode at Takeover: San Antonio (unlikely, but you never know), he instantly becomes a favorite.

If either guy won, it would make sense for them to face Styles for the world title at the company’s biggest show of the year. Joe is one of Styles’ best friends in the business. They’ve made magic in the ring together and understand how to put on a clinic in front of a massive crowd.

Nakamura wrestled Styles in the second to last match at Wrestle Kingdom 10, which is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of WrestleMania. It was predictably awesome and if you haven’t seen it yet, set aside a half hour and watch it:

Chris Jericho 10/1 (+1000)

As much as I want to see Team Chris and Kevin face off for the Universal title in Orlando. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. If Owens does somehow hold onto the title at the Alamodome, Jericho would instantly become one of the three favorites to win the Rumble.

Owens and Jericho are the hottest act on the company’s flagship show. Roman Reigns may get a bigger reaction in some cities, but he’s still not ready to be a main event promo, which is exactly what Y2KO have been since September, which is why I’m still holding out hope that this match will be for the title.

If Chris and Kevin are going to feud with each other, someone is going to have to turn and it makes sense for K.O. to beat the crap out of Y2J.

Imagine the verbal jabs between a heel Owens and a sympathetic babyface version Jericho who keeps the same character tone, but plays into the cheers.

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Now imagine Reigns cutting a 5-10 minute promo about defending the title.

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Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt 12/1 (+1200)

It’s easy to see a scenario in which Orton and Wyatt square off at Mania, but what if creative actually has long-term plans for the group?

If Wyatt or Orton were to win the Rumble and wrestle for the world title at WrestleMania, it could set up a title program between the two for the May-July period.

The Miz 14/1 (+1400)

Even though he’s currently in a feud with Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title, Miz has been one of the best acts on SmackDown since the draft and deserves a main event run.

He and AJ teased a feud during a Miz TV segment a few weeks back, but I think the pair should be saved for a SmackDown exclusive PPV later on in the year.

Miz will eventually climb up the card, but sadly, he’s going to be left out of a high profile match at WrestleMania.

John Cena, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens 17/1 (+1700)

I’m expecting the losers of both title matches to enter the Rumble later on in the night. If I had to rank the four in terms of most likely winners I’d go: Styles, Cena, Reigns, Owens. It would be an interesting swerve to the Cena-Styles storyline if Cena won the title from AJ earlier in the night and then Styles responded by winning the rumble.

Owens is likely locked for a Mania match with Jericho and it would be a major letdown if Reigns won the most unpredictable Rumble in years.

Sami Zayn 25/1 (+2500)

If the Owens-Zayn storyline had any heat left, Zayn would be a logical choice. It would be a genuinely shocking moment and Zayn could use a boost after doing the job for Strowman.

With Owens likely taking on Jericho at Mania and Zayn’s current placement on the card, I don’t expect the taxi driver to make any real impact in the Rumble.

Rusev 25/1 (+2500)

The Bulgarian George Clooney deserves a featured spot in WrestleMania season because he’s one of the most entertaining full-time performers on the roster, but there are only so many spots to go around.

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Big Cass 25/1 (+2500)

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Big Cass ends up as one of the “Final Four” participants in the Rumble match. Either that or he’s going to have a spot midway through where he runs through a couple dudes before going out quickly.

Any member of The New Day 28/1 (+2800)

Big E is the only legitimate option here. This would be an ideal moment to begin the inevitable breakup between the three, but it needs to be a slow burn.

Dean Ambrose 40/1 (+4000)

He’s headed for another multi-man match for the IC title at WrestleMania.

Seth Rollins 50/1 (+5000)

Rollins is obviously penciled in to face Triple H in Orlando, so there’s no need for him to be near the title picture until after Mania.

Braun Strowman 50/1 (+5000)

He’s most likely facing The Undertaker. While it may seem like Strowman isn’t ready for the level of a match, if the company is serious about pushing him, he needs to be in this spot.

The split rosters have created a need for new stars, which means a clean win for Strowman over the Undertaker could be in the cards.

The Undertaker 50/1 (+5000)

As noted above, Taker most likely has a date with Adam from Tinder at Mania.

Yes, I know I used that line last week, but why not bring it back for round two?

Goldberg and Brock Lesnar 50/1 (+5000)

I’d love to see Brock and Goldberg “draw” the first two numbers and beat the hell out of guys until Braun Strowman eventually comes out.

Kane 70/1 (+7000)

Kane has shockingly been protected since the draft, so don’t be surprised if he has a strong showing in the Rumble. Who knows, maybe he makes it all of the way to the “Final Four.”

Shelton Benjamin 75/1 (+7500)

Benjamin was scheduled to return to the SmackDown brand after the draft, but needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He had a six-month recovery time frame and the Rumble falls perfectly in line with his rehab, so don’t be surprised if “ain’t no stoppin me now” blares over the speakers in San Antonio.

American Alpha 75/1 (+7500)

Enjoy the SmackDown tag team titles. Jordan has a chance to win this in a few years.

Apollo Crews 100/1 (+10000)

He should still be in NXT.

Any cruiserweight 100/1 (+10000)

Nope.

Dolph Ziggler 100/1 (+10000)

The guy’s gimmick is that he loses, so there’s no way he’s going to win.

James Ellsworth 1000/1 (+100000)

Any man with two fists has a chance to be eliminated.

Holy Schnikes moment of the week:

Take it away Becky Lynch.

If you don’t know what see you next Tuesday means, Google it.

Time to “Go Home”

– Stephanie was harder to listen to than Otunga this week. Was it necessary for her to talk down to Sasha and Bayley like that? As a fan, how am I supposed to cheer either of the babyfaces if they don’t have a snarky retort ready to counter Steph’s heelish lines.

– So Nia Jax pins Bayley essentially clean in the middle of the ring just two weeks before Bayley faces Charlotte for the women’s title. Makes sense.

– Has anyone else noticed that Karl Anderson’s pants say #BC on them? I find it a bit strange that no one backstage has said anything to him about this.

– Everything about Neville’s heel turn is great, including the variety of moves he’s displaying in the ring. This week he worked a mat wrestling/submission style that resulted in him using the Rings of Saturn to get the victory over Lince Dorado.

– I like the fire Rich Swann showed when he attacked Neville after the match.

– I thought Natalya and Nikki Bella had an excellent brawl on SmackDown. Nattie caught Nikki with a kick right to the face.

So Seth Rollins is supposedly getting new music after all. Once I heard this version by Downstrait, I got bummed out every time I heard Rollins’ actual music:

– Please WWE, no more Big Cass vs. Jinder Mahal matches.

– I like that Ziggler’s heel turn accelerated this week. The worst thing for his character would have been to come out this week and apologize for his actions. Instead, he beat the crap out of Kalisto after their match and then waffled Apollo Crews with a chair when AC came out to help his “friend” Kalisto.

– This was American Alpha’s best showing since their call-up to the main roster. Gable used his hot tag effectively and Jordan had a very nice amateur wrestling sequence with Bray to begin the match.

– I LOVED Cena’s backstage promo this week. It felt a bit like a Doctor of Thuganomics promo, just all grown up.

The Twitter Machine: @ScottDargis