The Daily Jobber

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Archive for the tag “WWE Champion”

WWE Monday Night Raw – April 27, 2015

Hot on the heels of its latest Pay-Per-View offering, the one-ring circus comes to Green Bay, Wisconsin for Raw!

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The happening of the night is the 2015 King of the Ring tournament, with four qualifying matches to be held over the course of the broadcast, with the semi-finals and finals to air live on the WWE Network on Tuesday, April 28th. This is the first time WWE has aired a live event solely on the Network – will it pay off? Will it entice more people into becoming subscribers? My crystal balls see money in the bank (and not the blue briefcase).

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Brock Lesnar: Rebirth of the Shooter

When Brock Lesnar decisively earned the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam last year it changed the face of the title race itself with the introduction of something the WWE had been lacking for some time: a real threat.

No offense meant to talented stars like John Cena and Randy Orton, but the main event scene in WWE was stuck in a lull for a while. The Yes movement provided much-needed energy among fans, but the depth of the main event roster – or lack thereof, as it were – was showing. The Shield and The Wyatts were still on the rise, CM Punk went home, and Daniel Bryan was left to carry the title on most likely into late 2014. Unfortunately, injury sidelined Bryan and WWE gave the ball back to John Cena to carry instead.

Then came Brock Lesnar. No underdog story here, but a legitimately dangerous man. An ex-champion both in the ring and the octagon, Brock Lesnar has been built up as a merciless mercenary, a fighting machine that is only out for himself. This mercenary status has reincarnated the drama created by the presence of the “shooters”, as they were called in the early days of carnival shows, the birthplace of sports entertainment.

Before television broadcasts and pay-per-view, before football stadiums full of screaming fans, there was the sport of wrestling, which gained popularity as a spectator sport in the late 1800s. By the time the twentieth century rolled around, the modern “catch” style which is used in pro wrestling these days had replaced much of the legitimate sport-fighting that existed, favoured for its entertainment value. However, the sport still employed men who were trained and practiced wrestlers and submission fighters afterwards taught to pull back their moves for the show, in essence to “go soft” with holds and punches. But at any moment, any of those men could choose to go “hard” and alter the course of a match in progress.

This still occurs today. It happens for various reasons, none of which are very proper and sportsmanlike. Sometimes there are personal issues that end up bleeding onto the mat, so to speak, or sometimes it’s done as part of a hazing ritual, or to put someone in their place. At various times in the history of the industry there have been “policemen”, enforcers who were loyal to the company who would put dissenters in their place. These men were always seasoned shooters who could back up tough talk with skills, and often caused real injury.

oldtimeyIt is beneficial to have shooters around who are loyal. They can regulate trouble-makers on the roster, step in case anyone gets funny thoughts of screwing the organization over. In an industry that thrives on what happens live, the risk of one performer changing the whole game on a whim is ever-present, and trust is paramount to business running smoothly.

But what happens when the champion is a shooter? This has happened many times in the past, with the legendary Lou Thesz being often referred to as “the last of the shooters”.

Lou_Thesz_by_Tim_Hornbaker-500x600Thesz was the champion who carried pro wrestling through the tricky transition from stadiums and auditoriums to its Television Era in the 1950s and 60s. He was a dynamic showman, a great talker, and a trained submission wrestler. It must have been a concern for the promoters at the time to have a man holding the belt who could essentially keep it for as long as he wanted. This is partly why a $25,000 deposit was put up by the champ upon being crowned, as an insurance policy discouraging anyone from skipping town with the title.

This hasn’t been a concern for years. The enforcers of old have been faded out. Wrestlers are kept in line using finances instead of fists these days; if a performer steps out of line, they get kicked off the big show and thus the big payday. If someone really pisses the bosses off, the title is stripped or the performer is “released”. The Montreal Screw-Job hammered the message home: you will do what’s best for business, whether you want to or not.

screwjobBut again the question comes up: what happens if the man with all the gold doesn’t want to do the job? What if the champ just decides he’s not going to lose tonight, or any other night after. What if the man who does that is a legitimately dangerous man who is absolutely capable of keeping the title if he so decides?

This is just the situation we are in.

The owners of the company, the WWE itself, could it be just one single consciousness, has put the world’s championship on this man, this dangerous man, this shooter, this legitimate fighter, this utterly dominating performer. They have asked him to remain dominant and win matches, and he has done this duty gladly. He has been a dominant, convincing champion.

brock-lesnar-paul-heymanNow, far be it from me to know exactly what to expect at WrestleMania in the main event between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns. Regardless of who stands at the match’s end as victor and regardless if the title will change hands that night, at point one would imagine the WWE will ask this man to do the job and put over his successor to the title. In essence, the WWE must put all their faith in this man to play ball. But what guarantees he will do such a thing?

In April 1925, such a situation altered the course of the world heavyweight championship. The title had been put on an impressive physical specimen, a former football player who looked great but unfortunately possessed no real fighting ability. Ed “Strangler” Lewis did the job for him earlier in the year, and the new star was set to face former champion Wladeck Zbyszko’s older brother Stanislaus. But Zbyszko, a tough old shooter, pulled a surprise swerve on the champ and stole the belt. He did this partly to get revenge on the promoters who controlled the belt at the time, and partly for a nice payday from the competition. He dropped the belt to ex-champ Joe Stecher, who would hold the title until 1928.

stanislaus-zbyszko-i17So, the answer to the question posed a bit earlier is: nothing. Nothing guarantees Brock Lesnar will do as he’s told, stick to the script, follow through on whatever finish is predetermined on the morning of March 29th. The plain and simple fact is that regardless of what outcome is decided by Vince and Triple H and Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman backstage, should Lesnar decide to pull a double cross at the last minute, I sincerely doubt Roman’s ability to stop him.

This makes Paul Heyman’s treatment of the main event hype masterful. He is playing this angle up, paying tribute to wrestling’s rich history of shooters and double-crosses, traditions which go as deep as the sport itself. He declared it loud and clear so there could be no mistake last Monday on Raw; Brock Lesnar will be the champion as long as he damn well pleases.

Paul-Heyman-and-Brock-LesnarIt’s interesting that at the same time Heyman is making these declarations before the masses of marks on television, the internet community is meanwhile a-buzz with controversy and uncertainty surrounding Lesnar’s contract talks. Will he jump ship and go to UFC? Will he take the title with him? Will he hold out for more money? Is there conflict between the champ and Vince McMahon? Will he stay or go? Nobody knows, and that is just the way they should keep it.

This angle has been played out before, it’s nothing new. Rob Van Dam beat John Cena for the WWE Championship and declared he was claiming it as property of ECW. But that was a work. CM Punk created a huge stir at Money In The Bank when he won the belt the day his contract was set to expire, swearing he would walk with the belt if he won. Won he did, but it was later revealed that he had signed a new deal with WWE the night before the event. That was close, but in the big picture it was all going according to plan.

cmpunk robvandamThe difference with this angle being played out this time is the big X-factor missing before: legitimacy. It can be argued and debated, but it seems that not since Kurt Angle has the WWE employed a performer with the legitimate ability to conquer in a shoot match. And Angle, although a fierce competitor, was still a smaller than average superstar.

Brock Lesnar is the real deal. A true powerhouse with explosive speed and deadly skill. As long as he carries the WWE Championship, the future of the company is held hostage in the iron grip of a monster. It’s a riveting storyline, made all the more plausible by Lesnar’s history in both UFC and WWE. It would be wise to lean on this angle going into WrestleMania, it adds intrigue to a main event that otherwise is lacking real electricity because of its nervous new-comer.

Will Brock Lesnar do what is best for business? Or will he choose to use the immense amounts of leverage at his disposal to put the company over a barrel and get what is best for himself and his career. Are the mutually exclusive? What is the game that the power players are playing here, and what’s the real work?

66d6163a-c1d7-37ab-af98-cc44ba21e48aThe joy is in the knowing and in the mystery, and so I stay tuned…

WWE Fast Lane: full card predictions

The last big event before WrestleMania, and I am honestly disappointed the Elimination Chamber isn’t being prepped to be lowered ominously over the ring at in the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.

In January, I would have thought that such a gimmick device could be quite useful in complimenting the number of talented superstars with great heat bouncing around before the Rumble, all with real possibilities of being a number one contender. Think about it: Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Rusev – all are gunning for the brass ring, all very capable and talented wrestlers, all going into the Rumble with heads of steam and eyes on the prize. You take all these stars, put them in the battle royal, shake well, and have it go to shmoz ending where no clear winner is declared. Then those wrestlers go to Elimination Chamber, where a decisive number one contender is crowned and any number of feuds may be born.

But no. The company decided to bypass the gimmick in favour of a generic offering that only serves to point out how WrestleMania is fast approaching and we need to build drama real friggin’ quick before the big night comes.

The WWE’s recent trend of leaving match cards relatively empty until days before the event is continuing, and in fact I had to look on the official website to find out exactly which matches we could expect on Sunday, because many were added in the last few days.

So, let’s get to the event itself before it’s already over and the results are already in.

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Swimming in the Deep End: Can Roman Reigns Sink or Survive?

raw-060214-roman-reignsThis past Monday, from the innards of a massive blizzard in Connecticut, Roman Reigns told a heart-warming story about his father, Sika Annoi’a. He talked about his father throwing him into the deep end of a pool, of feeling like he was going to drown, but ultimately fighting his way to the surface and thus learning to swim.

He related that story, I’m sure, because he knows he is in that position now.

Winning the Royal Rumble should be a glorious moment for any WWE superstar. It will forever be an accomplishment, a high point of their hopefully long and decorated career. This year’s Rumble winner, Roman Reigns, has reaped the unfortunate whirlwind of a bitter wrestling community, and thus been denied the adulation of such a momentous feat.

Signs are already visible that there is hope for Reigns. It won’t be easy, or simple, but he may yet win the fans back.

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Jobber Report: ‘Raw’ January 19th, 2015

thIt’s Martin Luther King Day, and in front of a raucous Texan crowd, Raw comes live from Dallas less than a week from The Royal Rumble. Not wasting any time, let’s get to the meat of this week’s episode.

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

romanreignsSince winter of 2013, it seems clear that WWE is keen on shoving another member of the famous Anoa’i family to the front of the line to be top dog of the roster. However, it would be wise to take a more patient approach in building “The Roman Empire”, or else risk seeing it crumble to pieces sooner than planned.

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Dolph Ziggler: The New Heartbreak Kid

As the Road to Wrestlemania is set to kick off and my wife and I begin planning our road trip to Santa Clara in April, there’s a lot of buzz around Dolph Ziggler. Some say he’s a dark horse in the Royal Rumble match who could steal the whole show. Some say he’s ready for a push to be the face of the WWE Universe pretty soon. Some, my wife among them, doubt that a guy like Ziggler has what it takes to carry the fed on his tanned shoulders. I, on the other hand, could see it happening. Why? Because I’ve seen it happen before.

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