There’s all kinds of rumor & innuendo surrounding both sides of WrestleMania’s main event, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar supposedly has one foot out the door. He’s already worked the number of dates in his contract. The Beast isn’t all that interested in putting Roman Reigns over. He’s not really interested in pro wrestling either, except for the fact that WWE keeps giving him millions of reasons to come back. Brock would be much happier returning to the UFC, or hanging out at his farm.
WWE is more than happy to play into all of these rumors. Brock showing up out of shape for a match with Kane at a house show in Chicago was perfect for the story. Roman Reigns lit Lesnar up last week on Raw in a promo that played into WWE fans’ dissatisfaction with the absentee Universal Champion that defends his title slightly less often than Alexa Bliss defends hers.
That’s some damn good stuff. It should be more than enough to get everybody to get behind the Big Dog, right?
Well…as it turns out, Reigns is also the subject of much speculation these days. He was allegedly a client of steroid distributor Richard Rodriguez, who currently sits in jail as part of operating an international steroid manufacturing & distribution ring, along with some money laundering.
The Law Dictionary tells me that purchasing steroids might be a bit problematic.
“Anabolic steroids are a form of synthetic testosterone that may be prescribed by doctors but are illegal for use without a prescription. They are classified as a Schedule III controlled substance with possession carrying a $1,000 fine and a year in prison, according to federal law. Trafficking carries up to a $250,000 fine and five years in prison for a first offense.”
When will a doctor prescribe anabolic steroids? Good question! The Law Dictionary continues.
Doctors will only prescribe anabolic steroids if a patient:
Requires bone marrow stimulation or prevention of bone loss
Needs artificial induction of male puberty
Needs appetite stimulation and preservation of muscle mass due to wasting conditions such as AIDS or cancer
Decides to undergo gender reassignment procedures
Needing to look good in spandex doesn’t pass the test. I mean, there used to be a doctor that took that as a reason all the time, but George Zahorian is no longer in that business. Remarkably, he’s still with us & still in the urology business. I never would have guessed that. Google it if you don’t believe me.
I don’t pretend to be a steroids expert. I’ve never taken them. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I think they’re injected, but I couldn’t tell you where. It seems like they go any damn place. I can’t speak on the effects they have on people. I can read the list, but we all know that drugs have different effects on different people.
There’s only two things about steroids that bother me.
1. All the people that died using them.
Something the man later known as Dean Ambrose said during a Smart Mark Video shoot interview sticks with me. He noticed how the people that only used steroids or only used other drugs seemed to do fine & live relatively long lives. It was the people that mixed steroids in with the booze & painkillers & somas & dope & other things that ran into trouble. He figured that since he had done enough of the other stuff he probably shouldn’t get on the juice.
I have no idea if he’s stuck with that philosophy or not, but it makes sense to me. All of these wrestlers that died way before their time in the 2000s weren’t just using steroids. They were using all kinds of other stuff that they probably shouldn’t have been using, usually to excess. When you pump so much into your body, it’s not going to be a good ending.
2. Baseball statistics.
I’m a baseball geek. Have been all my life. Unlike many fans of my generation, I consider myself a purist. We’re starting to see a shift in thought from older baseball writers & experts to young upstarts that stick up for the guys they grew up watching. Their argument is that everybody was juicing in the late 90s & early 2000s, so it should count the same as everybody else. I disagree for one simple reason: steroids are illegal. Whether MLB officially banned them or not, they were illegal in this country.
I can’t equate Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs to Hank Aaron’s 755, or Babe Ruth’s 714. Willie Mays had 660 and I have no idea what Alex Rodriguez ended up with. Bonds & Rodriguez bought & paid for their home runs. Which is fine from a capitalistic standpoint, but not from the standpoint of the baseball purist that worships old statistics. In a performance-based sport, performance-enhancers are a game-changer.
With that being said, pro wrestling & performance-based sports are two entirely different animals. Statistics in wrestling aren’t legitimate anyway. Ric Flair didn’t really beat sixteen guys in shoot fights to win world championships. His entertainment value got him those championships.
Steroids help with physical appearance and with recovery from injuries, but they don’t guarantee you’ll be a tremendous pro wrestler. You still have Roman Reigns without (allegedly) steroids. There are numerous examples of jacked up dudes that had billion dollar bodies that were mere flashes in the pan. If bought muscles were all they brought to the table, they didn’t last long. The Ultimate Warrior looked great, but it was his bizarre charisma that made the WWF give him a chance on top. They didn’t push Tom Magee to the moon.
Here’s the $64,000 question to everybody reading this:
Do you really care if pro wrestlers use steroids or not?
As long as they’re used responsibly, and wrestlers don’t overuse them to the point where they’re immobile in the ring & unable to do their job at a high level, I see nothing wrong with it. Other than the whole legality issue, of course.
As long as Roman Reigns is exercising caution and not doing anything to harm anybody else, I don’t care what he puts into his body. He wouldn’t be my first choice to be in the WrestleMania main event, but that’s because I think Braun Strowman should be in it. Hell, Braun’s a former strongman competitor. It wouldn’t be a shock to me if he used steroids at some point in his life. Whether he has or not makes no difference to me, and the same goes for Roman Reigns.
A lot of people are hoping that this brings Roman Reigns down. I don’t think it will. There’s a real easy way for WWE to fix this whole problem. This whole issue of “legality” can be worked around if they remember who their friends are.
See, I don’t know if you guys are aware of this or not, but Vince McMahon is really friendly with the current President of the United States. So friendly, in fact, that his wife wound up with a cabinet-level position doing….oh, I have no idea. The less we know is probably the better. Either way, I think we can all agree on two things when it comes to our current President.
1. He’s great at influencing people.
2. He’s easily influenced.
You saw his act last week with the NRA, right? One day he’s out there flapping his gums about gun control. The NRA has a couple meetings in the Oval Office reminding him of who funded his campaign, and he’s back on the “everybody needs guns” train soon after. As great as this guy is at making people think he’s on their side against those career politicians, he has his strings pulled just as easily as everybody else in Washington.
All Vince McMahon needs to do is pull those strings. Tell the President that he needs to do something about this steroid stuff. They aren’t so bad! Certainly not as bad as these other drugs out there that are tearing families apart. Maybe an executive order easing the punishment against people using steroids for improper reasons wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. It’ll benefit rich people, so it seems like a surefire bet to go through easy peasy lemon breezy.
If it happens in time, Jon Bravo (really? This guy named himself after a Cartoon Network show & I’m supposed to take him seriously?) can release all the videos he wants & it won’t mean a thing. The Big Dog will roar into WrestleMania & send The Beast packing.
All will be right in The World According to McMahon.
NXT Minus 6: NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool
NXT UK carries on the proud tradition of delivering a blazing hot Takeover.
6. Another Takeover opens with a match that could have been the main event. In hindsight it should have been. Mustache Mountain delivers a MOTY contender & Tyler Bate steals the show. That little dude is all kinds of special. What’s more impressive is how, in the course of the match, James Drake goes from “Why are you here?” to “Yes, you belong.” If you only watch one match from Takeover: Blackpool, it should be this one.
5. Finn Balor versus Jordan Devlin was good. Given time and a proper build, these two could deliver something great. Because of their relationship, I kept flashing back to Jericho/Michaels at Wrestlemania 19. Balor seems a natural for NXT UK. He delivers name recognition, credibility and can instantly challenge Dunne for the title.
4. If you’re a fan of a good old fashioned slugfest, check out Eddie Dennis versus Bomber Dave Mastiff. Dennis is the most unassuming powerhouse I’ve ever seen. He’s built like a flagpole, so I have no idea where he got the strength to do what he did. Bomber Dave is England’s Bam Bam Bigelow, more agile than a man his size should be. Put them together and boom, ka-pow, smash, crush, good fun mayhem.
3. THIS is the performance I’ve been waiting to see from Toni Storm. Her previous matches didn’t dazzle me. Her match with Io Shirai didn’t impress me. Her Takeover debut was the first time I saw how good she can be. BTW, did she win the Mae Young Classic? The announcers never seem to mention it…500 times a match.
2. It makes me sad to type this, but Pete Dunne finally had a disappointing match. The action was clunky & chunky, like neither Pete nor Joe Coffey knew what to do next. Coffee’s two spills (HA) from the top rope looked horrible. Any American crowd would still be chanting “you f#$%ed up.” The match clocked in at around 33 minutes but felt twice that long. On the bright side, WALTER’s jacket might be the coolest ring gear since Flair’s robes.
- Overall, this was a rock solid show and a fantastic way to showcase NXT UK. As good as the in-ring action was, what really put it over the top was the audience. Those blokes know how to have a good time. Their energy took things to another level and made the night feel special. Well done, Blackpool, and well deserved.
That’s right…I said it.
The Streak Part 3: Ascending the Mountain – 1996-97
Tiffany MC takes a look at the most legendary ride in wrestling history, The Streak! The Undertaker dominated WrestleMania for three decades, and he may not be done.
The years 1996-97 were pivotal ones in many ways for the Undertaker. WWF was moving slowly into what would be called the Attitude Era and the Undertaker was beginning to change with it. His Goth and supernatural gimmick were a perfect fit for the edgier WWF. During these years, Taker would begin to face opponents that would become part of his legend, including Mankind, be betrayed by Paul Bearer, and find himself fighting for the WWF Championship on the Grandest Stage of All.
WrestleMania XII: Big Daddy Cool Meets His Match
This was one of the matches that should’ve been the launch of a longer feud, but Nash had already given his notice to go to WCW, so it wasn’t to be. It started when Diesel, enraged at being eliminated from the Royal Rumble by friend Shawn Michaels, confronted Taker before Taker’s WWF Championship Match against Bret Hart. Not satisfied with just running his mouth, Diesel cost Taker the match by attacking him and getting Hart disqualified.
Undertaker would get Diesel back by cost him a cage match against Hart at In Your House 6, then launching into his twisted mind games, which included a scarily lifelike Diesel double in a casket. Diesel, never one to let mind games get to him, didn’t show much fear, and even overturned the casket and attacked Taker again.
Diesel comes out first to a mixed to negative reactions but, typically, doesn’t seem that bothered by them. It’s amazing to think that Diesel was one of the most over faces at the last WrestleMania and is now so hated.
The lights go out and the Deadman Cometh. Taker and Bearer come out, as cheery as ever, and the crowd goes nuts. Diesel still doesn’t seem horribly bothered by the spectacle and this fight’s on.
If you’re looking for a technical masterpiece, you’re in the wrong place. This match was a fistfight from start to finish and these two went all over the ringside area with it. To Jack Doan’s credit, he gave Taker and Diesel a lot of leeway. Taker pulled out a crossbody on Diesel, which was actually really cool.
Kevin Nash isn’t included in a list of great in-ring performers, but he and Taker really had a great match here. You could almost believe these guys hated each other. It would be easy to say that Taker carried Diesel, but that would be untrue, they carried each other.
It honestly looked like we might get a double countout after Diesel and Taker hit each other with big boots, but both got to their feet. Diesel broke out the classic bearhug to try and get a submission win, but Taker battled back. Taker went for the Missile off the Top, but Diesel got up. Diesel hit the Jackknife Powerbomb and the crowd went nuts, but Diesel didn’t go for the cover, which is a huge mistake. However, even when Taker sat up, Diesel showed no fear or concern. It wasn’t until Taker fought back after a second Jackknife that Diesel seemed to get just who he was messing with, but Diesel was able to back suplex Taker, but Taker STILL sat up.
In the end it would take a chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver to put Diesel away but both men made a big statement about their abilities to the wrestling world.
Highlight: Undertaker hitting a crossbody.
Rating: 5/10. This was a really great match for two huge guys who aren’t known for being technicians, this could’ve been Match of the Night for WrestleMania if the Iron Man match hadn’t happened.
WrestleMania 13: The Phenom vs The Master and Ruler of the World
This match was odd because it wasn’t an actual feud or rivalry, plus the path to this match was pretty strange. Stone Cold won the 1997 Royal Rumble, however, because Austin had actually been eliminated by Bret Hart, his win was vacated. Michaels, who had recently won the title at Royal Rumble, had to vacate the title due to ongoing knee issues, so the Powers that Be made a Fatal Four Way Match to crown a new Champion to face Sid for Sid’s rematch. Hart won the championship, but then lost the title to Sid due to Austin’s interference. Since Taker had be the runner up in the Fatal Four Way match, he became the #1 Contender. When Hart got his rematch, Taker actually helped Sid win so he could beat Sid for the title.
Taker comes out first, and without Paul Bearer or the urn, due to Bearer betraying Taker to manage Mankind in the summer of 1996. Sid comes out next to a mixed reaction. He’s got a lot of fans, but so does Taker.
We have a big staredown, but are interrupted by Bret Hart, who is still mad that he’s not in the main event and gets in the ring. Bret trashes everyone, including Shawn Michaels, who was sitting on commentary, but Michaels ignores him, even pointing out that Bret’s just mad that someone else is getting the spotlight instead of him, which was pretty true, if a little ironic to hear from Michaels, who could be accused of the same thing, especially then.
Back to Bret, he berates Taker for helping Sid beat him for the title, saying that Taker had slammed the door on their friendship, proving that Bret never learned the difference between business and personal. After several minutes of this, Sid gets fed up with Hart’s complaining and powerbombs him, which gives the officials time to get Hart out of there.
With that out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. Taker takes advantage of the Hart distraction to get the jump on Sid and we’re underway!
Of the four ‘Big Man’ matches Taker would have in the 90s, this one isn’t my favorite. Like Diesel, Sid wasn’t known for his technical prowess, but somehow, that was more glaringly obvious in this match than in the match with Diesel.
After Taker dominated the first few minutes of the match, Sid got the upperhand and went for the bearhug, but Taker got out of it. They brawled out on the floor, but because this match was No DQ, there was nothing for Hebner to do but wait, not that he didn’t try to get them to stick to the rules.
Sid dominated much of the match, but Taker kept battling back, but this was definitely a long match for both men and it was starting to show. Sid went to the middle rope one time too many, which gave Taker an opening, but Sid quickly reestablished his dominance for about two minutes, when Taker sat up and saved himself from whatever top rope move Sid was planning, going for the Top Rope Clothesline. Sid would go for his own Tombstone, but Taker, of course, kicked out.
The end would finally come when Bret Hart, furious about Sid powerbombing him, which he deserved, ran in and hit Sid with a chair. Not satisfied with his work Hart ran in again and distracted Sid just long enough for Taker to hit the Tombstone and we have a NEW WWF Champion. The crowd goes nuts that their darkside hero was FINALLY champion! Taker celebrates with the crowd and, in a rare moment of breaking kayfabe, signaled to the crowd that his win was for them, all the Creatures of the Night that had supported him.
Highlights: Bret Hart getting beat up by Sid. Earl Hebner rolling Sid out of the ring after his loss.
Rating: 4/10. This match wasn’t as good as the one with Diesel and the inclusion of Bret Hart really should’ve stopped after the first appearance.