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John Cena & Nikki Bella: Is Their Breakup One of the Greatest Swerves of All Time?

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Yesterday would have been the day. John Cena and Nikki Bella were supposed to tie the knot in front of friends and family on May 5. The biggest holy union since Triple H and Stephanie McMahon said “I Do” came crashing to a screeching halt when it was announced there would be no wedding, no happily ever after and certainly no possibility of future little Cenas jumping in a wrestling ring.

Now, there are rumors the sudden and impactful breakup was a “work” with the hope of driving ratings for the E! Entertainment program, Total Bellas.

Wait! What? A work in the wrestling business? Who thought of such a thing? We all know everything in the Vince McMahon circus is real? C’mon, man! Say it ain’t so. This could be the most shocking news since Hulk Hogan turned his back on the fans and joined the NOW.

If this is indeed true, it is sad and brilliant at the same time. While WWE has preached the idea of sports entertainment more than it has the traditions of the business and Kayfabe, this could be the new low in terms of fan reaction. And for Cena and Bella’s part in this, it proves money and fame are more important than decency.

According to the latest episode of the PWInsider Elite Audio Show, Mike Johnson stated that he heard people discussing this very idea. Here’s what he had to say:

“Speaking of Cena, I want to go back to the Backlash stuff. I have heard some rumblings that your theory may be correct about this entire situation being a work. I don’t have enough to report it or anything but there have definitely been some people who mutter, who have been whispering similar concerns. So you might be onto something there. So, I’m just telling you that if it comes out that this was a work, I am giving you credit now that you were the first one to call it.”

OMG! OMG! OMG! How will WWE put a spin on this one? This is as sinister a plot as any McMahon-driven story since Monday Night Raw was created 25 years ago. Since many news outlets have covered the proposal at WrestleMania 33 and the news of the breakup, how will this not affect the couple’s future, the show and how fans react to Cena sliding into a wrestling ring.

When they chat “John Cena Suck!” they might really mean it this time. This could also become the onus for Cena to finally make the heel turn fans have asked for going on a decade now. Cena used WrestleMania 33 in Orlando to cap a storybook love story with a mixed tag team match and diamond on the finger of the love of his life. The fans adored him and his soon-to-be bride. Now, I can see nothing but hatred and astonishment as the media tries to get to the bottom of this Big Show-sized swerve.

It’s hard to look at this story, or its potential and shake your head with a Cheshire cat-like grin. It’s also hard to imagine fans jumping back on the lovebirds’ bandwagon unless something more comes out of it in the future.


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Opinion

Is Jeff Hardy Too Old for This?

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Jeff Hardy WWE

It has yet to be 100% confirmed, but Jeff Hardy may have suffered an injury during his entrance for this past week’s SmackDown dark match in London. Jeff Hardy returned to WWE alongside his brother Matt at WrestleMania 33 in 2017 and has spent most of that time sidelined with injury. As Jeff returns to singles competition, one has to imagine that his body is catching up with him.

Return (Again)

Jeff’s post WrestleMania 34 return was hot. The crowd blew up, the spots were big and there seemed to be a bright future in Jeff’s singles aspirations as Matt was and is still teamed up with Bray Wyatt. After Jeff’s return, he quickly won the US title from Jinder Mahal on an episode of Raw. Throughout the match though, Jeff was noticeably slower than he used to be. Sure, I don’t exactly expect the Jeff Hardy of 2008 to magically return, but it almost felt like every move Hardy did hurt him and slowed him down throughout the match.

With a move to SmackDown away from his brother and a win over Randy Orton at Backlash in the books, Jeff Hardy’s return looks really good on paper. However, since his return from rotator cuff surgery, we’re now able to see more of his issues. The excitement has been palpable to see Jeff Hardy, but his singles matches really have not been anything of note.

Last year when he was tagging with Matt, he didn’t have to do 100% of the legwork because he always had an option to tag out. Now that he’s (rightfully so) on a singles run, he has to last out for full matches, which is looking more and more difficult for him match after match.

Hardy vs. Hardy

As opposed to Matt, Jeff’s style over the years has been a lot more risky and death defying, which is probably one of the reasons that Jeff seems a little worse off than his brother at the moment. It is also one of the reasons that Jeff has historically been more over than Matt in the WWE- that daredevil style draws in fans, and Jeff was a deserving recipient of that notoriety.

Matt Hardy though seems to be dealing with less significant issues as his style is much more grounded and leverages a strong character to excite the fans. Jeff Hardy is very capable in exciting the fans, but years of jumping off tall objects and aerially throwing himself at his opponents has to have done a number on his body.

The Verdict

Although it is tough for me to say: Is Jeff Hardy just too old to compete on a full WWE schedule? Is his body too weathered for one last long singles run? I sure hope not, but it really does look like the younger Hardy is experiencing some troubles in executing his move set without slowing down. Matt Hardy has a bit more longevity of the two in his wrestling style, but to lose Jeff right now would be incredibly unfortunate as he has the potential to really be a face of the SmackDown brand.

Let’s hope this is not a serious injury and that Jeff can entertain the fans for many more years to come. I just hope his body can hold up. A slow Jeff Hardy though is better than no Jeff Hardy, and as long as he’s not at extensive risk, his current limitations will just have to do.


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Opinion

Roman Reigns Isn’t Going Anywhere (And Neither Are You)

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Roman Reigns WWE

Roman Reigns isn’t a new thing. WWE, dating all the way back to the WWWF days, has always been known as a promotion built on a strong supporting cast with a “Superman-like” babyface atop the heap. So, why the hate for “The Big Dog”?

Vince has history on his side

Vincent J. McMahon loved superhero babyfaces. He built the WWWF off a relatively simple concept: push an “all-american”, unstoppable babyface capable of carrying the company on his back with class and legitimacy. For close to 15 years, whether he was wearing the WWWF Title or not, Bruno Sammartino was that man, owning the Northeast to the tune of untold sold out arenas and countless ecstatic fans.

The next “hood ornament” babyface to come around for Vince Sr. was Bob Backlund, a walking, talking embodiment of the phrase “aw shucks” if there ever was one. But Bob was also a Division II NCAA wrestling champion, as well as an All-American in both wrestling and football, meaning when the time came to step into the squared circle, what he lacked in charisma, he more than made up for by being a great athlete. Backlund was world champion for close to six years.

The formula was perfected with Hulk Hogan

By 1983, it was Hulk Hogan’s turn to be “the man”. In Hulk, Vincent K. McMahon found the perfect “Superman” to take what was once a local family owned territory, and rebrand it for the mainstream, ultimately making the WWF synonymous with professional wrestling. People who don’t know the first thing about pro wrestling still know Hulk Hogan, and after he won the WWF Title from The Iron Sheik in 1984, he carried the belt (and the wrestling world) for most of the next seven years, forever transforming the way we view the genre. With all due respect to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan is the most influential wrestler the industry has ever produced.

Speaking of Steve Austin, he owned the late 90s and early 2000s and did so whether he was wearing a championship or not. He crossed over into pop culture in a way only bested by Hulk Hogan, taking the WWF to unseen heights in revenue.

John Cena picked up the load of being “the man” in 2005 and carried it for a decade. No babyface has ever been more vilified by fans, but through it all, Cena remained the face of not only the WWE, but the industry as a whole.

Roman Reigns is “your guy” because Roman Reigns is “Vince’s guy”

Whether you like it or not, it’s Roman Reigns’ turn. He is, quite simply, the guy Vince McMahon has decided is his most marketable face. Vince doesn’t care about 5-star matches, workrate, and catering to the anti-Roman Twitter army (most of whom likely harbor a double secret crush on “The Big Dog”. Vince wants someone he can market to middle America, to little kids, to your grandmother. He wants another Hulk Hogan. He wants another John Cena.

Would Reigns, from a creative standpoint, be better off with a heel turn? Maybe, depending on what Creative had for him. That’s the thing about a turn: doing it just to do it doesn’t work. Look at the hundred times Big Show had done it for no reason. How about Randy Orton’s 94 turns? I can name two that were memorable.

The dislike for Roman is likely rooted more in overexposure than anything else, which is much the same thing that hurt Cena (from an Internet fan standpoint, at least). With Bruno and Backlund, fans almost always had to go to the arena to see them. Hulk and Austin were merchandise juggernauts, but we still only saw them on TV once a week. Neither had to worry about the level of overexposure Cena and Roman have been saddled with working through.

Yes, Vince has had his “misses”. Anyone making as many decisions as he’s made is gonna have plenty of them, but in Reigns, I guarantee he sees someone he can count on. Dependability and work ethic go a long way with guys like Vince McMahon. Plus, Vince knows you’re not gonna turn the channel.

Vince plays it safe because he knows he already has you

“The Big Dog” isn’t going anywhere. Why, because you’ve proven to Vince you’re not going anywhere either. You’ll whine and moan about Roman (or Cena before him) but you’ll be right back in front of your television every Monday and Tuesday, ready to get mad all over again. Just accept that Vince has you and stop taking it all so seriously.


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International Coverage

The Book Club: Why Kenny Omega Should Win at Dominion

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Courtesy of Turnbuckle Daily

At the end of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Wrestling Dontaku show earlier this month, a match was announced that quickly made its way through the wrestling world over the next day.  On June 9, Kenny Omega will challenge IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada to headline Dominion, NJPW’s next big pay-per-view.  It will be Omega’s third shot at the title and his fourth encounter with Okada overall.  The two are currently deadlocked at 1-1-1.  Okada fended off Omega in their first encounter at Wrestle Kingdom 11, a 60 minute time limit decided their rematch at last year’s Dominion, and Omega pinned Okada during their non-title G1 bout.

Fast forward to Okada standing in the middle of the ring following his match at Dontaku.  Okada had just beaten the record for most IWGP Heavyweight title defenses by defeating the previous record-holder, Hiroshi Tanahashi.  He openly addressed how nobody was coming out to challenge him and even listed off all his past opponents.  Okada then invited Kenny Omega out to the ring for a match that would finally settle the score, but this time with no time limits.  Kenny one-ups Okada’s challenge by adding a 2-out-of-3 falls stipulation.  You know how the Big Bang Theory states that there was once nothing then a giant explosion created the universe?  That’s basically what this match is for me.

Let’s Book It

In short, I think it’s finally time to put the strap on Kenny.  At Wrestle Kingdom 12 earlier this year, I was genuinely deflated after Tetsuya Naito took the pin from Okada in the main event.  I was anything but Tranquilo.  He was white hot and I was incredibly invested in him – maybe more than anyone in the world at the time.  I am aware that Naito has held the big belt before but that reign came and went, plus he didn’t have as much momentum as he did in January.  I had a similar thought to Okada at the end of Dontaku: who else is left?  Los Ingobernables merch was flying off the shelves but they still refused to allow Naito to be the usurper.  They found some worthy opponents to roll out since then but Sanada, Zack Sabre Jr., and Tanahashi all fell to a flurry of Rainmakers just as the victims before them.  At this point, I can’t imagine a more suitable challenger than Kenny Omega.  He has been Okada’s most worthy adversary and one could even argue that Kenny has played a big part in getting more international eyes on the New Japan product.  The only other person I can envision being on Okada’s level from an in-ring and marketing standpoint would be Kota Ibushi.

This brings me to my next point…

Imagine: Kenny dethrones Okada.  Kota Ibushi wins the G1 Climax this summer.  Now you have the Golden Lovers forced to put their relationship aside for the sake of their careers in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom.  We already saw how friends jostling for the spotlight can make for an instant classic.  Just look at the Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks match from Long Beach.  Sure everyone loves a good blood feud but there’s just something deeper when you’re forced to knee the one you love in the face.  We haven’t really had an “I’m sorry, I love you” type of moment since Shawn and Ric made us all weep at WrestleMania.  Now is the opportunity.

My only issue with this plan is keeping Kazuchika Okada out of the main event.  Is just feels wrong, doesn’t it?  He is the Rainmaker for goodness sake.  However, once the Naito-Jericho feud has boiled over it would be interesting to see Okada as Chris Jericho’s next (and possibly final) target.  He even mentioned on his podcast, “Talk is Jericho” that his match with Kenny was originally supposed to be a technical classic before the storyline grew violent.  If you’re looking to have a technical showcase, Okada is just the sparring partner for you! Plus, I don’t think anybody would complain about an Omega v Ibushi & Okada v Jericho double main event at Wrestle Kingdom 13.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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