Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jack Swagger Arrested and Charged with DUI and Drug Possession

Jack Swagger arrestedIn what definitely has to be considered a case of "worst timing ever," Jack Swagger was arrested last night in Mississippi after the Smackdown tapings.  Officers determined Swagger was under the influence and also found marijuana in his car after pulling him over for speeding. Swagger has since been released and according to TMZ, WWE didn't have much to say about the matter so it remains to be seen what action if any they take.

Swagger just returned to WWE and has received a big push since his return, getting both a manager in Zeb Colter  AND a win at Elimination Chamber which tentatively has him in line for a world title match at WrestleMania 29.  It remains to be seen if WWE will make changes now to the WrestleMania 29 match as punishment to Swagger, or if it will be swept under the rug now that Linda McMahon's campaign is over. 

It's pretty surprising that guys who have been around a decent amount of time and who have been waiting to final get a big opportunity like Swagger has finally been getting can still screw it up.  The DUI is one thing, but the pot makes things worse since WWE is always pushing their anti-drug message.  If you suddenly see Alberto Del Rio with a new WrestleMania opponent, there's only one person to blame.  Apparently a "Jack Swagger America" is a drunk and high America....yes I said it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

WWE Finally Debuts a New Championship Title Belt

New WWE Championship Title Belt
It's hard to believe that we have had to endure 8 years of the horrific belt that has represented the WWE Championship.  Back when John Cena debuted a spinning United States Title around 2004, it was inevitable that he would also ruin the WWE Championship if he ever won it.  He won the belt, and did indeed ruin it by making it a spinning rap inspired "bling" belt that ONLY would've been suitable for his initial title run.  The worst part is every time Cena has lost the belt to someone over the years, that person used the belt as well without commenting about how bad it looked and how a new version was badly needed.  Thankfully The Rock finally fixed all that last night.

In his "championship celebration" last night, The Rock finally said all the things we've said about the belt for years: it looked like a toy, it took away from the title's prestige, and a title belt should NEVER spin (they actually brought back the spinning version of the belt for this segment, but I believe an actually spinning version of the belt hasn't been used for a few years now.  The Rock then officially retired the old spinner, and debuted the brand new WWE Championship belt.

Now on to the belt itself.  We actually reported a first look at the new WWE belt last year, and as it turns out the pics were pretty accurate as far as initial design goes. The main plate features a giant WWE logo with "Champion" under it.  It's a pretty straight forward approach and definitely isn't the "bling bling" look of the old belt.  The side plates feature Brahma bulls so it is apparently customized specifically for The Rock right now, although I would definitely think they will change when someone else wins it.

So the question is, is this belt better?  In my opinion it is, but I wouldn't consider it GREAT.  I have lived through many versions of the title (Hulk Hogan had 4 versions throughout his initial title run from 1984-1988,) so I may be biased toward the more traditional look.  This belt seems to feature more leather than gold on the main plate, which is definitely a different approach.  I also like the old "global" style belts that got the message across that the champion was a world champion, this belt sends a definite message that it's all about "WWE" as the giant logo tells us.  I can't complain too much because just about ANYthing is better than that awful spinner, now let's just hope Cena doesn't bring it back when he wins the title again. 

What are your thoughts on the new WWE Title belt?  Do you like the new design or prefer something more old school?  Do you agree the spinner should never (EVER) be seen again?

Monday, February 18, 2013

WWE Elimination Chamber 2013 Lays the Groundwork for WrestleMania 29

WWE WrestleMania 29Going in to last night's Elimination Chamber pay per view, we knew that it would pretty much lay out what some of the main WrestleMania 29 card would look like.  Things haven't been totally clear up to this point, but the Elimination Chamber results have at least given us an idea of what the WrestleMania title matches will most likely be looking like.  The Rock and Alberto Del Rio kept their respective titles, and Jack Swagger emerged as number 1 contender to the World Title which tentatively set up the WrestleMania title matches.  Here is a look at those matches along with the other 2 rumored main event matches: 

John Cena vs. The Rock 2 - Well, this isn't what I was hoping for.  I feel like the Rock/Cena feud played out last year and gave the fans what they wanted.  They went all out in cutting each other down in every way possible last year, and now all that's left is for Cena to get his win back and earn The Rock's respect.  I personally don't care to see it, and don't care for knowing the WrestleMania main event result 2 months before the event.  The only thing that could halfway save this will be if CM Punk complains about his match with The Rock and somehow gets added to this match, making it a 3 way.

Jack Swagger vs. Alberto Del Rio - This one came as a real shock.  Last week when Jack debuted his new manager Zeb Colter, I knew it would finally mean big things for Swagger since a manager is exactly what he needs.  I didn't think he would make such a big impact so fast, but it was a very nice change of pace to see someone different jump into the title picture.  While that's all well and good, I feel like this match may get changed before all is said and done.  With Randy Orton barely losing Elimination Chamber match, Dolph Ziggler still carrying the Money in the Bank briefcase around, Mark Henry making a huge impact since his return, and of course Big Show still looming, it's hard to say where Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship will be come Mania time.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk - This match is a big question mark at this point.  Punk lost again to The Rock at Elimination Chamber, so there are 2 paths I could see this going.  Tonight's RAW will probably tell the story as we will see if Punk decides to go nuts about last night's loss, or moves on to a bigger challenge. If The Undertaker is physically able, Punk will most likely be the challenger to "the streak" this year.  If it happens, this will probably be the most intriguing match on the card.  Punk has been the new shining star in WWE for the past couple of years, and his "pipe bombs" being unleashed on WWE's most legendary figure would make for great TV.  The question is, will The Undertaker hold off so he can make it until WrestleMania 30 instead.

Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H 2 - Again, another case of a rematch that really doesn't NEED to happen.  The groundwork was already laid when Brock attacked Vince McMahon a couple of weeks ago and injured him.  Triple H coming back for revenge makes sense, but just like Cena/Rock, we've already seen it.  Brock could be bringing WWE so much more attention coming off his UFC run if he was demolishing guys and taking titles.  The argument may be Brock isn't around full time, but WWE could work it out if they really wanted to get the most out of Brock.  Please don't give us another scenario where Brock has to put over Triple H just to give HIM his win back too, talk about a momentum killer.

So this is what the four top matches for WrestleMania 29 look like as of now.  Of course things can change at the drop of a hat, and I hope they do.  WrestleMania should be something special that you can't see anywhere else, not full of rematches we've seen in the past year.  If these are the top 4 matches, hopefully they can keep the undercard interesting enough to fill things out.  With the Hall of Fame induction of Bruno Sammartino going on that weekend, it should be a very special weekend with a card that hopefully delivers to the rabid New York/New Jersey crowd.  What changes would you make to the WrestleMania 29 card to make the most of it?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Scott Hall Set to Move in with DDP and Jake Roberts

I feel like this post is quite a bit overdue, because what Diamond Dallas Page is doing to save lives is in a word - phenomenal and deserves to be recognized.  For the past couple of months I've been following DDP's mission to save Jake "The Snake" Roberts from his years of alcohol and substance abuse problems that had sadly become one of the things Jake is most well known for.  It was over 15 years ago that we saw Jake in "Beyond the Mat" which documented just how bad his problems were and how far he had sunk.  There was no improvement over the years, and Jake truly seemed like a lost cause.

In what has to be considered somewhat of a miracle, Jake has turned his life around and is literally looking better than he has in over 15 years....all thanks to Diamond Dallas Page.  For the last few years DDP has been spreading the word about yoga and the program he started known as "DDP Yoga"; it has helped many people, including many wrestlers who have used his system to help their bodies recover from injuries etc.  DDP reached out to Jake Roberts and offered to move him into his house, get him clean, and rehabilitate him physically and mentally.  Of course there was much doubt that this would work since Jake is so notorious for going back to his bad habits, but the results have been amazing.  Just take a look at DDP's Youtube channel and watch the videos, the story is truly awesome as it progresses.

What was extra cool about the story is hearing DDP talk about when he first became a wrestler at age 35, and how Jake was one of the few that believed in him and helped him along the way.  DDP now gets the chance to return that favor in the best way possible.  Of course with the dramatic turn around of Jake Roberts, many people began to wonder if DDP could help another legendary wrestler whose notorious spiral downward is on the same level of Jake's: that is of course being Scott Hall. 

Hall is another former major star who just 10 years ago was a top name in any company.  His substance abuse problems were apparent even during his major run in WCW as part of the nWo, and he hasn't been able to stay on the right track since that time.  Hall looked great in TNA just 3 years ago, but again that run didn't last long.  We posted the Scott Hall story on ESPN E:60 that aired in 2011, and it really depicted the problems Hall has dealt with for many years.  Hall is another guy that has a long history with Dallas Page, as Page managed Hall in WCW before he was even a wrestler, and of course Hall helped launch Page's big run as a name in WCW.

After receiving a text from Sean Waltman (X-Pac) who let him know about the situation, DDP made a call (not the first attempt) to Scott Hall and recorded himself and Jake talking to Hall about joining them at the house.  This video really tells you how bad off Scott Hall is.  Hall tells them directly that he's "dying" and was having vodka for breakfast.  Hall was in really bad shape during this call, but by the end it sounds like Hall is ready to make an attempt to turn things around just like Jake has.  DDP is doing amazing things with these guys that even multiple stints in rehab couldn't do for them.  These are guys who seemed like they were lost causes for many many years and were quite possibly at death's door.

Hopefully Scott Hall follows through with this, and soon we'll be watching another awesome turnaround just like we have with Jake Roberts.  DDP is really making a difference and is literally saving lives.  Here is the phone conversation DDP and Jake have with Scott Hall:

***Note: The video was removed by DDP after Kevin Nash voiced his displeasure with the conversation being recorded.  DDP plans on showing Hall the video when he arrives and clearing it with him before putting it back up.  We will add the video back here if/when it goes up.***

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just Who is Zeb Colter?

Jack Swagger with Zeb ColterIf you watched RAW last night, you might have been thinking "who is THAT guy with Jack Swagger?" as Swagger made his way to the ring accompanied by an older guy who wasn't exactly dressed like your common WWE Superstar.  As the camera zoomed in, might first words were "is that Dutch Mantell?!"  Indeed it was wrestling veteran Dutch Mantell who was also known as "Uncle Zebakiah" in WWE in the mid 90's as he managed the "Blu Brothers" and Justin "Hawk" Bradshaw who of course we now know as JBL.

Many WWE fans probably don't know that Dutch Mantell has worked around the world both as a wrestler, and one of the most renowned creative minds behind the scenes. It's been widely reported and even confirmed by Steve Austin that Dutch Mantell is the person that named him "Steve Austin" after Steve needed to change his last name of "Williams" since "Dr. Death" Steve Williams was already a star in wrestling.  Mantell also groomed guys like Kane and even The Undertaker early in their careers.  Mantell has seen much success creatively in Puerto Rico, and was a huge factor of the success of the TNA Knockouts division about 5 years ago when it was red hot.

Dutch Mantell vs. Jerry LawlerSo my first thought as I saw Dutch coming down the ring with Swagger was, "Well they re 'in Nashville which was one of Dutch's stomping grounds, this must be some sort of 1 shot special deal." After all it looked like Dutch was dressed in pretty regular clothing and didn't do much at first.  My second thought was "I wonder if they will acknowledge him as Dutch Mantell or "Uncle Zebakiah" and acknowledge his WWE past.   After Swagger demolished Zack Ryder, he grabbed the mic and announced his good friend "Zeb Colter."  I liked that they halfway used Dutch's old gimmick but made it a little more real than the mountain man gimmick this time around.  What followed was "Zeb" explaining that he was an angry Vietnam veteran that is pretty anti-American now, and in my opinion gave us a great old school promo that can really be built on with Swagger.  The character seemed like a throwback to the days when wrestling actually featured characters that played off current events or something you might actually see in everyday life.  An angry army veteran that wants to speak his piece?  I like it.

I couldn't help but feel this one was of the best parts of RAW.  Sure younger fans may be wondering what the hell it was all about, but seeing a veteran that knows how to groom talent behind a guy that's been lost in the shuffle for years was a perfect match to me.  If you remember I included Swagger on my list of 5 wrestlers WWE should sent to Japan, and that was because he has such talent but had no direction whatsoever.  Putting him with Dutch Mantel could be just what he needs, as he is already showing more of a mean streak as evident last night.  Giving him an actual story and pairing him with a guy that knows how to pull it off is just what the doctor ordered.  Of course WWE could screw this up and drop it by next week, but I'm really hoping not.

It was a real shock to see such a journeyman type like Dutch Mantell pop up again on RAW, and it really has me wondering if Triple H once again is behind bringing in veteran talent coming in to help in areas that badly need it.  For more on Dutch Mantell/Zeb Colter, check out his official blog at The World According to Dutch which features some great stories spanning his entire career.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Book Review: The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling

Road Warriors Book ReviewThe Road Warriors are without a doubt one of the (if not THE) greatest tag teams in pro wrestling history.  Finally getting a book on the Road Warriors career was awesome, and extra cool for me since I can say The Road Warriors played a huge role in getting me hooked on wrestling in the mid-80s.  "The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling" is written by Road Warrior Animal (Joe Laurinaitis) with Andrew William Wright, and features a foreword by "Precious" Paul Ellering which was a very cool touch.

The book is a nice overview of the "LOD's" career, with Animal quickly getting through the early non-wrestling days since he realized that everyone really wants to hear about the wrestling for the most part.  If you have seen the Road Warriors WWE DVD, this is pretty much the written form of that with more details and stories mixed in.  We first go into Animal and Hawk's early days in wrestling coming up at the same time as other names such as Rick Rude, John Nord, Nikita Koloff and Barry Darsow.  Animal also tells the story of how he was paired with Hawk, and how their characters evolved over the years into the iconic look we all know.  Later on Animal even goes into how his brothers got into wrestling, one of course being "Big Johnny" John Laurinaitis.

Animal goes into more detail than he did on the WWE dvd about the duo's trips to Japan, where they became iconic stars before they even arrived in WWE.  I was actually a bit surprised that Animal didn't spend more time on their initial WWE run, but overall while that run only lasted a couple of years.  It was around this time that Animal divulges a lot of information on how Hawk's substance problems became apparent.

One of the best parts of the book is the collection of rare Road Warrior photos from throughout their career.  Being an LOD fan since the mid-80s, it was cool to look back at all the memories.  As far as complaints go, there wasn't much I can say I disliked.  There were a couple of stories that didn't quite add up or seemed a bit off time frame wise, but the same could be said for almost all wrestling books. 

Overall I would say if you are a die hard Legion of Doom/Road Warriors fan, this is a great book to read.  If you are more of a fan of the era itself, this book still has some great stories about all the big stars from the 80s and 90s.  Reading the story of the only tag team to win the WWF, NWA, and AWA tag team titles in their career is without a doubt quite a ride.  I waited many years for a book on The Road Warriors, and this book was an enjoyable look at the greatest tag team of all time.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Bruno Sammartino is Finally Being Inducted Into the WWE Hall of Fame

Bruno Sammartino WWE Hall of FameIf there is 1 person above all others that should be in the WWE Hall of Fame but isn't yet, it's "The Living Legend" Bruno Sammartino.  There are plenty of names out there that should be in The Hall but aren't yet, but Bruno is THE guy since he was really the top guy in WWE longer than anyone else.  Bruno has been at odds with WWE for years now over the general direction Vince McMahon has taken the industry etc., and has always refused any invitation from WWE to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Word has it that Triple H is the person that is responsible for finally getting Bruno to agree to be inducted after months of meetings to work out a deal.  Today issued a press release stating that Bruno Sammartino will finally be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year at Madison Square Garden.

With all the recent talk about CM Punk's historic WWE Title reign this past year, the man who's record will most likely never be touched is Bruno Sammartino.  Bruno is the longest reigning champion in WWE history; defeating Buddy Rogers in 1963 and holding the (then WWWF) belt for almost 8 years!  Bruno is also the first ever 2-time WWE Champion as he regained the title in 1973.  Champion or not, Bruno was the top draw in WWE for nearly 20 years, and has always been regarded as one of the guys that HAS to be in the WWE Hall of Fame if it is to be considered legit.

Bruno joins another long term WWE Champion in Bob Backlund in this year's Hall of Fame class, along with Mick Foley and Trish Stratus to comprise what is so far one of the best classes in years.  The Hall of Fame takes place at Madison Square Garden on April 6, 2013.  The night before WrestleMania 29 will be very historic, and the induction of Bruno Sammartino will be a can't miss moment for true fans of pro wrestling.  Here is a great video from WWE on Bruno's wrestling career: