News In Review: February 2014

It’s a new month again, and that can only mean one thing here at the Plebs of Wrestling – a nice, comprehensive round up of the biggest news stories from the last month! This feature debuted last month, and I’m keeping the same three categories to sort all the news items into Inside the Ring, Outside the Ring, and In the Industry. I think they’re all pretty self-explanatory, but if not you’ll get the idea soon enough. Anyway, by it’s very nature this is quite a big article, so let’s not waste any more time and get right into it!

 

Inside The Ring

Undertaker/Hulk Hogan returns – so the 24th February was a big day for the WWE (more on that later), and it just so happened to feature the returns of two legends. The Undertaker made his first appearance in 10 months to challenge Brock Lesnar to a Wrestlemania match; a challenge that was accepted. And the freshly announced Host of Wrestlemania 30 Hulk Hogan made his first appearance in a WWE ring for just over 6 years, and was greeted with an excellent reception.

Titus O’Heel/heel turns galore – I should have probably just made this segment title “heel turns galore”, but I loved Titus O’Heel too much to just leave out. I’m not 100% sure when Smackdown airs in the US, but it’s passed in the UK, so I feel safe to talk about it. On the 28th Feb Smackdown, Batista cut a promo berating the fans, turning heel in the process. Later in the show, Christian attacked Sheamus during a match, also turning heel. Earlier in the month, Titus O’Heel (it will stick!) turned on his partner Darren Young. Smackdown is quickly becoming the heel turn show, and these three all have much wider implications… except for Titus’.

Rusev & Lana debuts – and I’m surprised they haven’t done more. After appearing at the Rumble in January, Alexander Rusev has started appearing on Smackdown alongside his manager, Lana. They’ve been building him up so far, but he will get over by kicking ass.

Elimination Chamber – the final PPV before Wrestlemania went off without nearly as much controversy as its predecessor. It was a reasonable show, but the obvious highlight was the Wyatts vs The Shield, which we will see again on Raw this Monday. In other news, the New Age Outlaws retained their championships, AJ retained her championship by disqualification, Big E retained his championship, Orton retained his championship with a little help from the Wyatts and Kane, and Bootista squashed Del Rio.

Lita enters the Hall Of Fame – Amy Dumas AKA Lita was announced as the third inductee in the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Lita is one of the greatest divas ever, and fully deserves it.

Naomi injured – legitimately at that. It happened when Alicia Fox kneed her in the face; you might have noticed Naomi holding her cheek afterwards. She was going to get the next shot at AJ’s Divas championship, and was the likely contender for Wrestlemania. A recovery time scale hasn’t been made public at this point though, so as far as we know those plans are currently up in the air.

Cesaro shines – a couple of weeks back on Raw Cesaro had a stellar match with John Cena. Cesaro apparently got a standing ovation when he returned to the back, and it was that match that reportedly convinced Vince McMahon that Cesaro has main event potential. Look to see him get pushed in the near future, and I have an idea of how.

NXT arrival – The first big live wrestling show to be broadcast on the WWE Network, and boy did it give the up-and-comers the chance to shine. By all accounts both the Cesaro-Sami Zayn and Emma-Paige matches were excellent, while a new NXT Champion was crowned when (the English) Adrian Neville defeated Bo Dallas for the title in a ladder match. He becomes the 4th NXT Champion after Seth Rollins, Big E and Bo. Not bad company to be in I would say.

 

Outside The Ring

Miz and Ziggler teaming? – the seeds for this were apparently planted when Ziggler gave a really fired up promo on the WWE App, as well as Miz randomly coming down to say a few angry words on commentary. The idea for this is that those two will team up as a “disgruntled wrestlers” duo. It could work, because it would appear to be based in reality, and these guys are good enough. Will WWE actually pull the trigger on it? That remains to be seen.

WMXXX – We now have a much clearer picture for the card than we did this time last week. We have two matches “confirmed” in Taker vs Brock, and Orton vs Batista. I use inverted commas, because right now I don’t believe for a minute that the WWE title match won’t change. Batista just turned heel, there is no way they’re going with a heel vs heel match for that. I’m thinking Daniel Bryan or CM Punk will be added to it. Rumours have circulated over the last couple of days that there could be a multi-diva title match, as well as a multi-tag team title match. Personally, I would also pencil in Bryan vs HHH (if he’s not in the title picture), The Shield facing each other, Bray Wyatt vs John Cena, Christian vs Sheamus, and Cesaro vs Jack Swagger.

WWE 2K15 – Take Two haven’t announced sales figures for WWE 2K14 yet, but it must have done reasonably well because they have confirmed that WWE 2K15 has been commissioned. And good news for all you gamers out there, Take Two have also confirmed that the game will be available on the PS4 and the X-Box One.

WWE Network – this is possibly the biggest news story for a very long time. The WWE Network officially launched on the 24th February, right after Raw, giving subscribers unprecedented access to hundreds of hours of on demand content. The demand for it was so great, their servers crashed the next morning as people rushed to sign up. As with any venture this size there have been a few issues, but on the whole reaction to it has I think been positive; even if we are going to have to put up with countless plugs for it.

Stacy Kiebler – there was at one point rumours that she was in negotiations with the company, possibly to return as a backstage correspondent at Wrestlemania, with a Hall of Fame induction to boot. With Lita’s induction I would think this is unlikely, as WWE have in recent times only inducted one female performer at a time. That unfortunately means I don’t think we’ll be seeing Stacy on WWE TV any time soon.

Del Rio leaving? – Alberto Del Rio: the man fans cheer when they want to show they’re really sick of Batista. But word on the street is he’s been talking about leaving when his contract expires. Can you really blame him? He went from World Heavyweight Champion to Batista’s rag doll in a matter of months. But the more pressing question is: will anyone care?

Punk fallout – so the biggest story of January was without a doubt CM Punk walking out on the company. Ever since, rumours have been rampant about when, and even if, he will come back. The next edition of Raw this Monday has been a focal point of these discussions, since it is held in Chicago. Vince has commented on his departure, saying he’s “on sabbatical”, while Punk has reportedly given friends no indication whatsoever that he will be returning. Reports have even gone as far as to say Punk talks about WWE like it’s something from his past. All this is well and good, but until we hear something concrete from the WWE, or anything from the man himself, the rumours will continue.

Wyatt theme to be played live at WMXXX – not nearly so big a story, but I still think this is pretty cool. Every now and then WWE gets in a live band to play the entrance music of a superstar. Who comes to mind when I think of past examples? Undertaker, Triple H and CM Punk. That is pretty excellent company for Bray to be with, and says a lot about how high hopes are for him. Plus, it’s a pretty good song, so it’ll be cool to hear it live.

WWE acknowledges Ring of Honor’s influence – WWE.com posted an article entitled “The Ring of Honor influence: how one small wrestling company impacted WWE”. This was rare in that WWE almost never acknowledges that any other wrestling companies exist, let alone credit them with helping the development of some of their top stars. Now, this article was published not long after CM Punk walked out, so he isn’t mentioned. But others who are include Daniel Bryan, Cesaro and Seth Rollins, who all gave interviews for the post.

Olympic champion WWE-bound – this is about as confirmed as a rumour can be. Kurt Angle has already stated this year that his contract with TNA expires in September, and that he wants to come back to the WWE for one more run. TNA officials are apparently under the impression that he will go, and Stephanie McMahon recently commented on it by essentially saying never-say-never. Add in the fact that Kurt isn’t getting any younger, and his injuries are piling up, so the window for a return is starting to close. I think it’s safe to say that come the end of the year, Kurt Angle will be a WWE superstar again.

John Cena breaks Make-A-Wish record – the foundation tweeted that Cena had broken a record, and passed the 400 wishes granted mark. That is impressive dedication to his fanbase, and it’s for reasons like this that I have huge respect for the man. Like him or not, he puts in much more work than he has to for the WWE, and has sacrificed so much, and so I find it impossible not to respect the man for what he does.

Name changes for Langston and Antonio – more to the point, Big E is “Langston” no more, and Cesaro has turned into a Brazilian football (soccer) player by going with one name only. I’m not 100% sure why Big E dropped the surname, but apparently Cesaro is no longer Antonio because Vince didn’t think “Antonio” was a tough guy’s name. Seriously.

DDP to induct Jake Roberts – and a heartwarming moment just got sweeter. DDP, the man who helped Jake Roberts get his life back on track, helped him get sober, and back into better physical shape, will be the man to induct “The Snake” into the Hall Of Fame. With rumours of Scott Hall also being inducted, it could be a great moment for all.

Mysterio leaving soon? – WWE could soon be bereft of Hispanic stars, as the injury prone Rey Mysterio could be leaving the company soon too. Injuries really have been mounting up for Rey, and with his contract coming up in the next couple of months the rumours at the minute are that it won’t be renewed. From a business point of view it makes total sense, WWE have been paying the contract of a guy who has been injured more often than not over the last 3 years. It doesn’t make financial sense for them to agree to it again.

Jake Roberts has cancer – 2014 Hall of Famer Jake Roberts revealed that he had a cancerous tumour behind his left knee, and was having surgery to get it removed. The surgery has been performed (it apparently took 5 and a half hours), and while everything went well, more growths have been found on his legs. I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.

Miz/Maryse wedding – onto a cheerier subject, and current WWE superstar The Miz got married to former WWE Divas Champion Maryse this week. Several WWE personalities attended. There’s not really much else to say, except congratulations to two people who will probably never see this.

@ChicagoRawCrowd planning to #HijackRaw – this is a technical one, since the crowd haven’t gathered yet, and the Raw in question hasn’t happened yet. But a Twitter account was set up with the aforementioned handle, with the apparent goal of taking over Raw – that is, the crowd taking over Raw by, well, voicing their opinions presumably. My idea of this is essentially the last 20 minutes – half hour of the Royal Rumble, but for the entire Raw.

 

In The Industry

Edge and Beth Phoenix are parents – more congratulations are in order, this time to former WWE Woman’s and Diva’s Champion Beth Phoenix, and WWE Hall of Famer Adam “Edge” Copeland, who announced that they had become parents in February.

MVP “invests” in TNA – former WWE US Champion joined TNA as their new “investor”. This is the same kind of angle they have done before with Mick Foley and Hogan/Bischoff, to put them on the same level as Dixie Carter. He’ll probably be wrestling before long. It is interesting to note though, that it looks like he’s working for TNA without a contract.

Ross Report Podcast debuts – Good ol’ JR now has a podcast! It is available at podcast one (the same people behind Stone Cold Steve Austin and Chris Jericho’s podcasts). I haven’t actually listened to his show yet, but what with it being JR I can’t see it failing to give great insights into the wrestling world, with his first guest being none other than Stone Cold!

Willow is coming… – to TNA. To be perfectly honest I have no idea if this is the creation of TNA or the man behind the mask – Jeff Hardy – but to me it screams of them seeing how successful Bray Wyatt’s psychotic character has been. In all fairness, I think the character looks quite cool, with his laugh in particular being very disturbing. Then again, maybe that’s just me missing one of my favourite wrestlers from the WWE.

Nelson Frazier dies – AKA Mabel, Viscera and Big Daddy V. That’s two months I’ve done this article now, and two months in a row I’ve reported that a member of the wrestling community has passed away. I hope this doesn’t become a regular thing. RIP Nelson Frazier.

Sting update – at the minute it looks like he’s a free agent. TNA have confirmed that he is no longer with the company, but nothing has been announced by WWE that they’ve signed him either. An article was posted on WWE.com looking at him, or more specifically his facepaint though, so I still think it’s more likely than not that he will sign with the WWE very soon.

Kurt Angle vs TNA – Kurt Angle allegedly became very frustrated at TNA’s creative and management departments during their recent UK tour. He was supposed to be written out of storylines to give him some time to heal up from several injuries, and was, but was then told he was supposed to do a run in on the next taping. All this just fuelled speculation of a WWE return.

The Wolves are TNA Tag Champs – I spoke about Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards and how it was amazing WWE hadn’t signed them yet last month, and now they’re with TNA. They’ve been brought in as MVP’s guys, and over the last week won the TNA Tag Team Championships at a live event. I still think WWE missed an opportunity to add a brilliant team to their tag division, but hey ho, they know what they’re doing much more than I do, so I’ll have to trust them. It does look like The Wolves are going to be assets to TNA though.

 

And on that note I’ll wrap up. This month I covered 33 stories, though some of them did overlap. It is a lot of reading, which is why I don’t go into a lot of detail with the stories – believe me, I could write entire articles about some of them. In fact, for some I have. I wrote about John Cena based off of Cesaro’s emergence, and I wrote about CM Punk’s departure too. A lot of other stuff played out over the month, so layers of complexity built up, especially things like the Network and Wrestlamania builds.

Was there anything I missed out? Any comments to make about the format of this still relatively new feature? Let me know through either the comments, or contact details below.

A couple of quick things about the site too. A big thank you to every reader, the site passed the 300-view mark over the last week, with February alone bringing in almost as many views as 2012 did. I hope that will continue, and that more regular content on my part will also help that – for the first time ever I posted three articles in three days in February. New things are happening here all the time too, with a collaboration with Black Watcher Reviews bringing you a YouTube show, called the Black Pleb Watchers of Wrestling, where me and Jamie from BWR just sit and talk about wrestling for a while. It’s a lot of fun, so please check it out. Until next time folks!

Email: wrestlingsplebs@hotmail.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/plebsofwrestling

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhMi4emkzEM

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