Over the last week there have been quite a few big news stories in the wrestling world. They have created a big buzz among the online wrestling fanbase, and for good reason. They are all things that are significant in the WWE looking forward to Wrestlemania or beyond, and lo and behold on a wrestling blog, I have some thoughts about them.
New WWE Championship Design
In the final segment on Raw last Monday, The Rock presented the world with a new design for the WWE Title belt. I honestly don’t know what to think about it. It has been a long awaited change – for years people have been complaining about the spinner design – and I’m not talking about the internet. The old design’s creator, John Cena, even commented on the need for change. It does seem pretty basic, and no it doesn’t look like much imagination was put into it, but I can also see some positives:
- Its simplicity – though I just criticised its lack of imagination – means that it is quite effective. You are challenging for the WWE Championship, which is a belt with the WWE logo on it and the word champion. It makes sense. Simple, yet effective? Possibly.
- One of the first things that I noticed with the belt is that there is no name plate. I think it’s a cool change, with the side plates becoming more relevant to the individual – Rock has the bulls, Sheamus has tweeted saying if he had the belt there would be three-leaf clovers on the sides. I like this change, it allows for some customisation and creativity on the part of the champion.
I think it could be a grower. It always takes time to get used to something new, and even though there’s been quite a lot of criticism over the new design I think I could easily come to like it with time.
Jack Swagger Gets Arrested
It was all going so well for a certain Mr Jack Swagger. He returned with a new “Real American” gimmick, a new manager in Zeb Coulter, a victory in the Elimination Chamber and a World Heavyweight Championship Match against Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania – which he was apparently booked to win. Then, after last Tuesday’s Smackdown tapings, he was arrested for speeding, driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Logically, this spells the end of his push. He now has a DUI and drugs charge, a direct violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy, which should result in at least a 30 day suspension, but could theoretically also lead to Swagger’s sacking. Reportedly, WWE has no plans to fire Swagger, but surely his match at Wrestlemania has to be in doubt. After all the publicity WWE has had over the years in relation to employees and drugs, they can’t afford to have someone involved in such a recent case involved in a World Title match at the biggest show of the year. There have been rumours they could do something similar to R-Truth just over a year ago. He was scheduled to headline Survivor Series 2011 alongside Miz to face the unlikely team of John Cena and The Rock, but failed a drugs test before the event. Instead of ruining their advertised main event, WWE waited until after the show was done and dusted to suspend him for a month.
I could easily see a very similar situation happening here. But personally, I haven’t seen that much of Swagger to say that he can really be a main event player. I never really watched ECW when he was relatively successful, so the vast majority of what I’ve seen from him has been as a jobber. I guess what I’m saying is I won’t miss him if he goes – whether that’s through suspension or termination. I know there are a lot of Swagger fans out there, there are plenty of people who believe he has the ability to play a big part in WWE’s future, but I haven’t seen enough to really believe. He has a brilliant opportunity now, with his current character conflicting perfectly with Del Rio, to really show everyone what he’s made of. The question now is, will WWE keep faith in someone who will appear in court on 12th March?
NXT Could Be Returning To Television
This is relatively small news, but Jim Ross revealed on Twitter after Wednesday’s NXT TV taping that a deal is “in the works” to bring NXT back to national TV in America. For me this isn’t an issue, since here in the UK NXT is broadcast on Sky Sports. But it would be a great move for both American fans and for the talent on NXT. There is some great potential on NXT, I’ve considered writing an article about the potential the current crop of superstars has many times, and exposure cannot be a bad thing. Already Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big E Langston and Bo Dallas have appeared on Raw or Smackdown, while officials seem to be high on Corey Graves, Conor O’Brian (I loved The Ascension as a tag-team, I’m still waiting to see how well O’Brian can pull off the gimmick individually) and of course, for me and many others, Bray Wyatt is the brightest star there. He managed to stay relevant and get over without wrestling due to injury, and now he has been cleared he can push on and make an even bigger impact. He can be huge. Having NXT on TV every week will mean that American fans will have a better idea of the characters when they are introduced to the main roster, and are more likely to react. It means that WWE can more accurately gauge how talent is getting over with the fans if the country they are based in actually gets the chance to see them every once in a while. There are also some people that have been on the main roster who are now almost exclusively seen on NXT – Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd (before his injury) were probably two of the most notable. It’s a chance for them to stay fresh in the fans’ minds, just as much as it is a chance for new superstars to catch people’s attention.
Last Saturday night, at a Smackdown live event in Waco, Texas, the team of Damien Sandow and Wade Barrett faced the team of Sheamus… and THE UNDERTAKER. This is huge news because of its implications for the Wrestlemania card. The appearance was reportedly to see how Taker’s shoulder would hold up, and it was apparently fine. That means that he will be wrestling at Wrestlemania, most likely against the much rumoured opponent of CM Punk. There has also been a lot of speculation as to how that match will be built up, with many reports speculating that he could appear on Raw tonight.
Of course, aside from this year’s Wrestlemania and looking at the bigger picture; there were doubts as to whether we would ever see Undertaker in a WWE ring again. It looks like it will happen at least once more, and we should cherish each moment while it lasts. For me, Undertaker is up there with the greatest ever, and every time we see him now will be special. Like I said before the Royal Rumble about The Rock’s then imminent title run, let’s just enjoy it. Don’t be hyper-critical about him – he will be 48 by the time Wrestlemania comes around, it’s unrealistic to still expect him to perform to the same standards as he was 10 years ago. Yet he still manages to turn in match of the year candidates at Wrestlemania, including one match with Shawn Michaels which some consider to be the greatest match in WWE history – when the combined age of the two men was 87. Taker can still produce the goods, but if he doesn’t this time around don’t complain about it, be thankful that he has managed to be as consistent as he has been for as long as he has been.
But there will always be those who complain that the surprise has been ruined since WWE leaked footage of his return. To them I say, didn’t you expect him to come back anyway? It’s Wrestlemania season – synonymous in recent years with The Undertaker and his streak – surely you thought he would be back any week now? For those who know the uncertainty that has surrounded his return, aren’t you more relieved that a great career isn’t over yet than annoyed that you know he is about to return? WWE even promoted his return last year, because they knew that if people knew The Undertaker was going to make his return, people will want to see it. It is the return of The Phenom that has to be the biggest news this week, even with a new belt on show and a World Championship participant at Wrestlemania being arrested in connection with drugs making the headlines. And that in itself is a testament to the impact of the Deadman.
What do you think was the biggest news story this week? Should Swagger be allowed to compete at Wrestlemania? What do you think of the new WWE Title design? Do you, or would you watch NXT? Is The Undertaker the best ever? So many questions! If you want to answer all or any of them, please don’t hesitate to do so by either commenting below or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, please pass us on to anyone you know who enjoys wrestling!