"I honestly think that you are so good (different) at how you approach columns. I know some people take compliments lightly and such, but honestly, you should be a very proud man. Boatloads of people including me, read your columns ALL THE TIME. Me personally, I wake up every morning, and before I go to school, I read your column (I'm 16). Also, your consistency with your columns is amazing, just from reading them so much, I almost feel like I know your thought process (not that I do). So with all of that out of the way, thank you."
- Sean, wrestling fan
No stalling. Let's get started...
1. Raw Numbers
The Red Brand earned a 3.24 rating with an average of 4.61 million viewers over the course of three hours. In a little bit of a surprise, the first hour and third hour tied for the least watched portion of Raw. Usually, the third takes that distinction every single week. Either way, the fact remains that The Rock returning to Raw brought in over 300,000 more viewers than last week. Next week's viewership will be very interesting to watch...good or bad.
2. Smackdown Numbers
The Blue Brand earned a a 2.1 rating with 2.99 million viewers (just under three million). That is up BIG TIME from last week - over 600,000 viewers to be precise. As I noted then, there was a 'special' on The Disney Channel that stole a lot of young viewers last Friday night. I suspected that was the cause for such a huge drop. This week, all of those viewers (and much more) came back to WWE. The show saw one of its best numbers in awhile, and this was against the great NCAA Basketball tournament as well.
3. The Undertaker Theory
Jonathan via email:
"Just wondering what your thoughts are on a ‘win’ for CM Punk against Taker at WrestleMania. Obviously, the streak should never end, but one thing I have always wanted to see in a match with Taker at WrestleMania is someone getting a ‘win.' By this, I mean the classic referee error of counting the three, but the opponent’s foot being up on the rope. Clearly, the match would restart when the referee realizes his error. It wouldn’t take anything away from Undertaker as it is the referee’s error. No one should ever beat the streak, but I think it would be a classic ‘WrestleMania moment’ to witness the crowd reaction, if people thought the streak had ended."
I will get to your Rock/Cena topic after I watch Raw's final segment again. Let's get to Taker...
Interesting idea. I would vote 'no' because we saw a similar ending with CM Punk at the Royal Rumble against The Rock. There was a 'false' finish in which he found a way to pin The Rock. Everyone was shocked. The match was restarted, and we all got the rightful ending. Not exactly the same but very similar? In my mind, WWE has a different route to take for somebody to 'beat' Taker at WrestleMania.
Make his match a two out of three falls.
Taker wins the first fall with a chokeslam.
Punk wins the second fall by the GTS.
Taker wins the final fall with a Tombstone.
The Streak gets extended, yet Punk can brag that he 'pinned' Taker at WrestleMania - something NOBODY has ever done before! Obviously, it is too late to add the stipulation in now. However, that scenario would give Taker another win at Mania, and allow his opponent to 'win' one fall.
4. CM Punk Respected?
Jesus via email:
"In the comments sections and columns, there is always the comments of CM Punk not being rewarded for his hard work. Do you think they will still complain after Punk is being treated like a top star, being given several live event dates off to heal?"
Unless Punk is WWE Champion forever, main events every single show, goes on pay-per-view last every single month, and wins every single match clean in the middle of the ring, his fans will always complain.
The 'diehards' will always find a way to claim he was slighted, disrespected or BURIED!!!!
The man is a former Tag Team champion, ECW Champion, Intercontinental Champion, two time Money in the Bank winner, multi-time World Champion, multi-time WWE Champion, and just spend over a year holding the top prize in the entire industry. Yeah, WWE really must 'hate' him, huh? All of this was done from summer 2006 through early 2013. Punk accomplished so much during his seven years in WWE, and he just spent back to back PPV events wrestling THE ROCK in the main event and is now taking on THE UNDERTAKER at WrestleMania 29...
...yet some just love to cling onto this line of thinking that WWE doesn't like him...
5. Best Heel Ever?
James via email:
"Justin, who in your honest opinion is the greatest heel in WWE history? I personally can't pick because there have been so many amazing heels. For example: Triple H, HBK, The Rock, Edge, Kurt Angle, Undertaker, CM Punk, Randy Orton, Batista - the list goes on and on, but it is tough to pick because it depends on heel heat, promos, etc."
Full disclosure, I received this email over a week ago. To be honest with you James, I tried many times to write an entire column devoted to this specific debate. I really did. However, nothing ever gave me the 'spark' to write it all down. Your examples are perfectly acceptable though. Triple H jumps out at me, but that is likely just showing my age (24). Older fans will say Ric Flair was the best heel ever. Newer fans will enjoy Randy Orton and his work from a few years ago. I'm sure the 'diehards' that I discussed in the previous email will proclaim Punk to be the greatest heel of all-time! In the end, I really can't fault any choice. It is an opinion topic and will vary all over the world.
6. Batista-Booker T Fight
Damion via email:
"I heard Booker T had to slap Batista. What's the real story?" My ally would like to join the Vince McMahon Club, but we don't see any information on the website. Can you help us?"
The incident with Booker T and Batista was about respect. The 'old school' rule is that you shake hands with every single person on the roster when you arrive to the building. In this case, it was for a Summerslam photo shoot. Batista did not show respect for Booker, and there was a quick shoving match. Apparently, Booker was the 'winner' there.
Batista had been known to act like he was 'above' wrestling in the past. At one point in 2005, he even made a comment insinuating that Raw was better than Smackdown. Well, then he got sent from Raw to Smackdown weeks later. That is NOT what he meant by the quote, but it came off that way. Clearly, veterans like Undertaker and Booker who were on Smackdown would not like that very much. The 'heat' around Batista was there from the beginning, so he had a rough go for a large time of his WWE career.
Booker and Batista did end up having a feud on television, and the matches were bad. Some were REALLY bad! Either they were just not a good pair or both didn't want to work with one another. Both are professionals, so I will just assume their chemistry didn't mix. No big deal - the feud wasn't too long and was actually pretty entertaining some weeks.
In 2011, this topic came up again when the Young Bucks (Generation Me) had a WWE tryout. The rumor is that the duo did NOT shake Booker's hand at the show and disrespected him. Goldust backed up this claim about the tag team, as did Rob Van Dam. As we saw, the two did not get a contract and have not been back in WWE since their tryout. I asked the Young Bucks about this last year when I interviewed them, and they said it was all a misunderstanding. Whether that is the case or not, showing respect backstage is a huge part of the business. Some get that, while others do not.
As for the Vince McMahon 'Club,' I can't help you out there. Sorry!
7. Bully Ray Question
Mohamad via email:
"I know you didn't watch TNA this week, but they posted several promos of Bully Ray explaining, in a surprisingly well detailed way, how the whole Aces and Eights got started. They closed every loop hole and explained every attack, which lead me to actually consider that maybe...just maybe..this was planned from the beginning? Nah...let's be real....but still props to TNA. It still doesn't solve the 765 problems in TNA, but hey - you can't win'em all!"
Nice topic. I will get to your other questions at a later date. To be fair, I DID search out these Bully Ray videos tonight and gave them a viewing. Needless to say, I have a few thoughts. Let's break it all down...
A) The videos were well done. I will happily give TNA Impact Wrestling props when it is warranted. Ray is such a good heel character that he made these entertaining. Sadly, there were MULTIPLE problems with the videos.
B) First, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. TNA did NOT close all the loop holes with this story. Repeat, they did NOT do that whatsoever. To their credit, they made it seem so. The videos certainly did their best trying to save this NINE MONTH MESS! However, it didn't make me forget the second half of 2012.
C) Taz said 'no' to Wes Brisco during his Gutcheck vote. Of course, TNA only played up that D'Lo Brown replaced Al Snow during that. They simply ignored the fact that Taz turned the kid down for a contract. Should we just forget that or was that all a part of the plan as well?
D) The stable lost many, many, many matches - including the big Lockdown steel cage match. I know this is not exactly a part of the 'master plan,' but it is still note worthy. The group is made up of a bunch of mid-card or lower card wrestlers who lose more often than not. Was that a part of the plan also? To lose every match?
E) Bully Ray fought with the entire group for the better part of six months. I can live with 'taking one for the team' once or twice. Maybe to join the club you had to earn your stripes? Fine. However, that was not the case here. Bully Ray got bloodied, beaten and battered many times from this stable during a lot of 2012. All to throw Hulk Hogan off the scent? To trick the rest of the roster? Because he enjoys being hurt? Sorry, that does not work with me.
F) About the original plan? I am sure Bully Ray WAS one of their choices to lead Aces and Eights from the beginning. I have no doubt TNA DID want him to lead the group at one point. However, it is clear something was changed OR they just made it all up as they went. They made a nice little video package last week, but TNA also did that for "THEY" in 2010. None of that made sense, and neither did this mess.
G) On that note, have you ever watched the Braden Walker-Hall of Fame video on Youtube? Yeah, it was made to look like he was the greatest WWE Superstar of all-time and was amazing. In reality, he was out of shape, only had a few matches, and was quickly fired. If I really tried, I could create a "Best of Brooklyn Brawler" video and make it seem like he was the greatest wrestler of his generation and top star. It is simple video editing. If you cut and paste little clips from over the years, you can make anything look pretty. Last week, TNA did that with the Aces and Eights.
Finally, I will not be watching TNA Impact Wrestling this Thursday night. Sorry!
Rock via email:
"We know Jericho vs. Fandango is in the plans. I want to ask some questions. Is this a waste of Jericho's time and talent? Is this match a good idea? We know Jericho likes to put over younger talent, but think about it Fandango WINNING HIS DEBUT MATCH, against JERICHO at the GRANDEST STAGE. Don't get me wrong! This win will immediately establish him, but fans hate Fandango and want to see him get a beat down. The keyword in the last sentence was IMMEDIATE, which brings me to my next point. I feel giving him a win early against a big star would be a major mistake, just like WWE pushed Ryback so early in his career. How would you feel about this win?
Many matches to WrestleMania have been announced, and the build to many of these is going but unfortunately is very slow. I am buying WrestleMania nonetheless, but my real question is what can we expect from Raw in the coming two episodes because we seriously need something BIG? I mean BIG. Triple H and Lesnar has been good but not great, but I'm totally invested in that feud. Actually, this is the only match that feels like WM main event level. Cena vs. rock is the match I want to see most, but we haven't seen a good build apart from the promo at old school Raw/ I feel we need an other one of those or possibly a few minute brawl between these two. I want a great build for this match, but even if I don't, I will still watch this match because I want Cena to beat Rock. Taker vs. Punk is a match that I am still not invested in completely. I'm 50/50. They also need something big. Last week, they were only given a few minutes. Considering it's a high profile match, this is not good. I like the way they are going with this story. If done right, it can be really good. If done wrong, it can really offend us fans. Alberto vs. Jack, I don't care about that.
Which match will be the show stealer in your opinion? I think HHH-Lesnar or Punk-Taker."
Wow! Ultimately, Jericho and Fandango have had three really good segments together. I know some fans think Y2J is being 'wasted' here, but Vince McMahon is VERY big on this new dancing character. If he trusts one man to get him to the next level, it is Jericho. That is a huge amount of praise and respect there. As noted a million times, Chris takes it as a mission of his to help the young guys 'get over' when he returns. We will see how that works at WrestleMania 29. So far, so good though.
I am with you on the Raw segments. A lot of them have been 'good' but not really great. From Taker vs. Punk to a lot of the under card, I am still waiting for a BIG moment before April 7th.
Finally, I have no idea what the show stealer will be. A lot of times, the show stealer comes from the middle of the card. Not necessarily the main event matches! I think all of the big matches will deliver. What steals the show though depends on many factors - most we will not know until the show begins...
9. Female Wrestlers
Mubeen via email:
"WWE Divas Division vs. TNA Knockouts Division, which one of these is better? It has remained a fact that the Divas Division in the WWE has not been that great, but I have seen some quality matches produced by the Knockouts Division in TNA in the past. What do you think?"
Thanks for writing. I will get to your other topics when I have the time. It may take a week. It may take a month. They will be discussed though eventually.
As for this question, the answer used to be the TNA Knockouts. Note, it USED TO BE! Now in 2013? It is just a roster full of former WWE Divas that were let go for one reason or another. Even Velvet Sky tried out for the Divas Search in the past. Over on WWE, they hardly ever get time. I would say it is a tie as both are disappointing nowadays. However, since WWE pays better - they get the nod on mainstream appeal/exposure alone.
10. Thank You
Honestly folks, there are good emails that I receive on a daily basis. Some are even great emails. However, once in a blue moon, there are some AMAZING emails! This one is amazing, and nothing I can add is even necessary.
Yohannes via email:
"I read your recent column and, there is a reader that felt bothered with how their country represented in WWE in such a stereotypical way, and you answered that it is the easiest way to get the gimmick to the audiences. Well, I want to point out that not only this is the easiest way, but this might be the only way to push a foreigner in WWE, by displaying their country nationality in such a stereotypical way.
I remember WWE trying to saddle their foreign superstar NOT using the country stereotype. However, it never works. Remember when Jinder Mahal debuted? He's basically just Great Khali's in-laws and that's his only gimmick? Well, apparently WWE decided to turn him to the typical Indian with turban and Indian robe. Even with Jinder now in a rock star gimmick, he's still wearing the turban. Apparently, WWE wants to remind their fans that Jinder is Indian. Another example is The Usos. Remember when they debuted? They cut a promo that they are not the typical Samoan, that they are stylish and educated? A couple of months later, they perform a Siva Tau dance for their entrance, just like Oceanian people.
The nationality gimmick is here to stay because not only it's the easiest gimmick, it's also the best way to garner some heat. Just ask the heel foreigner to say something in their native language or say something demeaning about America. The crowd will easily boo them and chant "USA! USA!" Attacking the country verbally is definitely the easiest way to get the reaction. And this reaction is what WWE wants, so they can show it on TV - how loud and supportive their fans are.
To some extent, Jack Swagger is currently having this gimmick. However, I do feel that this gimmick could backfire since WWE's show is based in USA, and most of the live show crowds are American. There will be some people that think Jack Swagger's gimmick is there to combat the foreign country gimmick like the old days. This could end up making WWE like telling people to be racist and xenophobic, instead of telling people the positive message of togetherness no matter what your nationality is."
*What do you folks think? Was this column too long? Why did Smackdown see such a huge gain in viewers last week?*
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