When the WWE announced the first-ever edition of the ‘Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal’ at Wrestlemania, fans were ecstatic. We not only got to honour the best big-man in the history of professional wrestling, but at the same time use his name and this slightly innovative concept to elevate stars of the future.
This concept and it’s potential however, didn’t last all that long despite the initial excitement.
What was presented to us is simple, the winner of the match is the last man standing in the ring and he who survives receives the honorary trophy of this larger than life individual to carry forward onto the next WrestleMania. A trophy is generally a symbol of achieving something grand, something larger than life and it should reflect on the talent who accomplish this feat, but it seems like this is where the ball has been dropped.
WWE’s concept here was simple, and something anyone could get on-board with, but their biggest flaw has been failing to maintain the importance and relevancy of such a match. These failures stem from both the concept itself, as well as external storyline factors following the match itself from the respective winners.
I’ve recently been thinking on how this concept is far from the death we think it is, and that with a few minor tweaks & suggestions, the WWE can revive this match and make it something that it once meant to be almost 5 years ago.
Pick A Star And Stick With Them!
It would be cruel to suggest that the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal hasn’t given WWE’s newer talents time in the spotlight, when it fact for the most part have done just that. Guys like Cesaro, Mojo Rawley & Baron Corbin not only all started their careers down in NXT and have successfully won the Battle Royal, but what exactly has followed to maintain that brief burst of momentum during their respective victories?
Cesaro getting his monumental victory lead to a partnership with Paul Heyman that seemed loaded with potential, which ultimately failed due to the obvious lack of chemistry and direction the two had going for them. Baron Corbin won the match on his first night as part of the main roster, but was sent into months of random, obscure booking to follow. Even Mojo Rawley got a surprising victory at last year’s Wrestlemania but has done next to nothing of note almost 365 days removed from the big win.
If WWE are going to pick a future star to have their hand raised during this match; and they should, it not only needs to be someone with that ‘star’ potential, but needs to have a clear direction for their respective career to go in. One of the main reasons nobody cares for this match, is because of the lack of payoff. It’s almost useless for fans to get invested in a star when their directions either take them nowhere from the get-go, or ends up in them slipping right back down to the position on the card they started in.
Bring Out The Part-Timers
A lot of the modern-day wrestling fanbase has attached a negative stigma to the use of ‘part-timers’ in the wrestling business, claiming they either overstay their welcome or hold a spot that should be used for a current, more relevant star. I personally struggle to disagree with that stance. But by no means does it mean these faces of the past can’t use their names and past to elevate certain circumstances.
With the Battle Royal itself serving as a call-back to one of the (literally) biggest names in the history of the business, bring in some more familiar names would do no harm to the situation. Not only do past names attract nostalgic fans who get to see familiar names from their wrestling pasts but can be a big bonus to the importance of this match. Matches like the Royal Rumble are widely known for their recruitment of some familiar faces, so why not do the same here?
The 2016 edition of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal featured an appearance from Tatanka, a name that may not be on the level of The Undertaker or Triple H but is certainly one who stands out to a portion of the fanbase. His appearance occurred completely unadvertised, without a care in the world and even managed to stun the announcers at ringside.
Not every legend needs to look as strong as they did in their prime, but I feel using these names, in relevant quantities, could really give this match the life that it so desperately requires.
Keep The Battle Royal Far Away From The Kickoff
The general stance amongst Wrestlemania and its pre-show, is that its great for any name to even be on it since they get to be a part of the biggest show of the year. But do we really see the Pre-Show in the same light of the usually stacked main card?
The answer is simple; no.
Despite the pre-show sometimes featuring a plethora of great talent and matches (Wrestlemania XXX is a great example), the vast majority of wrestling fans wait to drool over the actual 4 to 5-hour spectacle that commences following it. In no way is this meant to diminish the talent on this section of the card, but it’s obvious that most of us contain our excitement for whatever main attractions are on offer later on in the show.
Wrestlemania XXX hosted the inaugural edition of this match, placing it right in the middle of the shows main card, and as a result it felt completely relevant in that moment. We had no celebrity guests or past legends, just an opportunity that was built as it was meant to be perceived, as a part of history. A match like this is all about placement, what other addition follow only add to the concept, but before even contemplating making this match matter again, you need to make sure it’s in a position to matter amongst your audience first.
Raise The Stakes
One of the easiest ways of adding importance to any match you place on a card, is providing stakes. Matches without stakes aren’t always meaningless of course, many serve as the progression of an existing storyline or arch, while others serve to close the chapter on an extended storyline. The issue with battle royals is their constant cramming of multiple arch’s and stories into one overly-crowded ring, and as a result we can’t expect one single storyline to always be the focal point of the action.
This is where my idea comes into play; have the winner receive a World Championship Match of his choosing either on the following edition of RAW or Smackdown (potentially based on the brand), potentially even at one of the following Network specials on offer. Providing a shot at the biggest prize in the business on the line is a simple, and easy way of making the audience care about the outcome.
An opportunity like this could be used to give an underdog competitor a shot we would never imagine them getting, or even push your next biggest star right up into the main event picture for the world to see. While the concept may sound like a slight ‘spoof’ on the existing idea of Money in The Bank, it would give the match and the winner itself far more meaning beyond a trophy that is rarely referred to after this match ends every year.
Giving this match the platform of honouring one of the business’ biggest names is a great move, and something I actually applaud the WWE for. But how great would it be to attach something currently relevant to the name of Andre The Giant, the ultimate symbol of ‘passing the torch’ onto the next big item in professional wrestling.
All these ideas are my own personal opinions, but I am almost certain think they could revive a concept that is currently struggling to find its footing on the WrestleMania hype-train. If WWE are going to use a legends name to promote the future of their product, then they should do it right.
AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21
AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?
As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.
Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!
#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time
There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!
I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.
#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic
Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.
People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.
I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.
#3- Overuse of Certain Moves
This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…
Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.
If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.
How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.
That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
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