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Opinion

The Burden of Proof: Wrestling Fans vs Wrestling Professionals

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WM30 Undertaker Wrestling Fan

Wrestling has a long history of epic, game-changing rivalries.  In fact, it’s what this business was built on.  From the early days of Frank Gotch VS George Hackenschmidt and Bruno Sammartino VS Larry Zbysyko, all the way to the modern-day classics of Okada and Omega or Gargano and Ciampa; rivalries are the foundation of which professional wrestling was created and has exploded.  It’s a funny thing, however, that the biggest rivalry in wrestling history is one that doesn’t even touch the ring.  Despite a near symbiotic relationship for almost 100 years, pro wrestling’s biggest clash has become between the wrestling fans and wrestling professionals, a.k.a bookers and creative departments. WM30 Undertaker Wrestling Fan

The state of wresting is drastically different now than it was in it’s inception.  Wrestling was derived from old timey carnival and circus shows, deriving from strong men giving legit competitions of strength.  Eventually, the idea was born to portray the competitions under the guise of reality, yet have the outcomes scripted in the promoter’s favor.  This new wrinkle, coupled with the newly added drama of storylines and the pomp and circumstance of the wrestling spectacle, led to pro wrestling becoming one of the biggest draws in the world from the 30s to the 70s.  Bruno Sammartino became one of the biggest stars in the world due to his dominance as the WWWF Champion.  At this point, fans weren’t in on the fact that what they were seeing was in fact scripted.

With the rise of Vincent K. McMahon and his acquisition of the territories, the newly christened WWF became the major game in the country.  Led by transcendent stars like Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, and the incomparable Andre the Giant, Vince grew wrestling to heights nobody thought was ever attainable.  But this new-found popularity eventually led to two things – the admission that wrestling was scripted and the sharp analysis of the business by fans.  With the advent of the internet and the rise of a new generation of “attitude”, led by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Bret Hart, and D-Generation-X, WWE was able to reach a mainstream level in society, and was able to overtake their biggest competitors in WCW and ECW, leading to what would be come a near monopoly in sports entertainment.

Since 2001, WWE has essentially become the only game in town.  There have been other companies to not only exist in that time, but to thrive – Ring of Honor and TNA Impact come to mind.  Unfortunately, all of these other companies have been clear number twos to WWE, barely even becoming viable enough to cause WWE to notice them as possible competition.  With this lack of conflict between wrestling companies, and WWE’s insistence on an entertainment-based product, wrestling fans have become the conflict to WWE.  Dirt sheets and shoot interviews have taught us about the inner workings of the business, journalists like Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller have essentially given us an “in” into the creative decisions made, and WWE themselves have pulled back the “veil” to let us in on the secret.  Now, more than ever, there is a strength in being a fan that has made WWE and all wrestling companies take notice.

Which leads us to New Japan Pro Wrestling.  Founded in 1972 by Antonio Inoki, the Japanese federation was always a critical and cultural darling.  Wrestling in Japan is almost sacred.  It is treated akin to sport, and there is a ceremonial nature to it, with anybody bred from that system being taught a very strong sense of honor and respect.  New Japan has flirted with the wrestling mainstream, having a popular talent exchange with WCW in the past, but it has never been as close to being viable competition to the juggernaut that is the WWE until recent years.  With fans being spurned with WWE’s product, and the very noticeable rise of critically acclaimed matches in New Japan, there has been a revolution of sorts.  Thanks to entities such as Bullet Club, Los Ingobernables de Japon, and the significant contributions of wrestlers such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and Kenny Omega, NJPW has started to creep into America as it is starting to challenge WWE’s domination of the market share.

So, what does this have to do with wrestling fans, and in particular, the conflict between wrestling fans and booking?  Well, there has been a saying in wrestling that the most powerful entity in all of wrestling is the pen, surmising that due to the scripted nature of the business, a booker can change anything on a whim.  Because of this, the continuation of learned backstage dealings by fans, the overwhelming sense of entitlement of fans, and WWE’s notion to double down on their style, there is a very real disconnect that has been bred.  And for a large group of fans, New Japan fills that void.

But, lets get back to that disconnect for a minute.  As fans, we pay our hard-earned money and spend our precious time supporting a habit that often feels like it doesn’t care about you.  Wrestling has become a billion-dollar industry, that makes companies like the WWE cater to the masses, most notably casual fans.  WWE follows the money; fans only care about the wrestling.  So, what do you do when the company that we all grew up loving and supporting isn’t doing the things that fans seem to want on a regular basis?  And what does the WWE do when it’s gotten to the point that it has by staying it’s course for 20 years?  The conversation is an interesting one, especially when you consider the issue that the fans have in particular.

One of the main points of contention that WWE fans have, that New Japan fans don’t seem to, is how their favorite wresters are pushed.  WWE often gives opportunities to wrestlers that many diehards don’t want to have, with Roman Reigns coming to mind.  NXT, the critically-acclaimed developmental system turned 3rd brand, has also had this issue.  Wrestlers are essentially given the time, resources, and opportunities to do the things that diehard fans seem to want, clearly due to the nature of the brand and what it’s purpose is.  Once the NXT wrestlers inevitably get called up, fans feel that WWE misuses them, not pushing them to the level that they were in NXT nor using them in the same manner.  Fans will mention Bayley, Tyler Breeze, and Apollo Crews (to name a few) when they talk about this.  Interestingly enough, and extremely relevant to this conversation, Triple H recently talked about this in an NXT Takeover: Chicago media call.  He stated:

“I think that comes down to anything right? You try to prep them, you try to give them the tools, you try to give them everything you can so they can succeed on the main roster. But the truth is if you believe that everyone who gets called up will become ‘the guy’ or ‘the girl’ or the next big thing it’s kind of an unrealistic expectation.


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Opinion

King: Plotting The Return Of Randy Orton To WWE

Chris King is back with his look at the best scenario to bring Randy Orton back to WWE, and the perfect opponent for his first big match back.

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Randy Orton 4

Chris King is back with his look at the best scenario to bring Randy Orton back to WWE, and the perfect opponent for his first big match back.

I wanted to bring everyone’s attention to a superstar that’s being overshadowed right now, ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton. After RKBRO lost the Raw Tag Team Championships to The Uso’s, Orton vanished from the company. There was speculation about his serious back injury and, it wasn’t until The Viper’s wife herself posted a candid picture of Orton after successful surgery.

While the focus in WWE right now is either on The Bloodline, Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy, or the returning Cody Rhodes, I felt this was a good time to start plotting The Viper’s return to WWE.

Randy Orton’s Return to WWE

On the Raw-After-Mania ‘The American Nightmare’ opens the show after a tough battle over Roman Reigns to win the WWE Championship. Rhodes with tears in his eyes is giving an emotional promo about his family’s legacy, and how much this title means to him. The WWE Universe is chanting “You Deserve It,” and out comes Finn Balor flanked by The Judgement Day.

‘The Prince’ starts by congratulating the new champion for dethroning ‘The Tribal Chief’ but, now he wants his title shot. Rhodes being the resilient hero accepts Balor’s challenge for the main event. The American Nightmare and The Prince are putting on a clinic of a match, delivering multiple finishers but unable to put the other away. Judgement Day starts to interfere when Orton’s music blares throughout the arena. Orton takes out the heels and helps his former protege. Rhodes capitalizes and hits Crossroads for the 1.2.3.

The former Legacy members are celebrating and embracing with a hug as Rhodes goes to raise his newly-won title. In the blink of an eye, The Viper strikes and takes out Rhodes with an RKO Outta Nowhere! The champion is knocked out as Orton hoists the title above his head while trash-talking his now rival. Orton violently throws Rhodes out of the ring and delivers a nasty-looking draping DDT onto the floor.

The Build–And Culmination–of Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes

Orton stares giving 2009 vibes as Rhodes’ head raises, so The Viper runs and delivers a punt kick. WWE officials come out and break things up and the champion is stretchered out of the arena. The show closes with Orton grinning over the destruction he has caused to his former protege. Over the next few months, Orton and Rhodes enter into an extremely personal rivalry over the coveted prize. We finally make it to SummerSlam where both men agree to raise the stakes and do war inside HELL IN A CELL!!!!

This is how I would book The Viper’s return to WWE. If you feel like this should be written differently, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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Opinion

AJ’s Phenomenal Opinion: Bray Wyatt

So everyone loves Bray’s return right? Right? Well the McDonald’s Sprite spicy opinions of AJ…may feel differently.

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Well, just because my work schedule changed, doesn’t mean I’m not going to drop some opinions of mine, of which, I haven’t done too bad with. I got Three out of Five for my returns right a few months back and this is going to be about the last entry on that previous list. I knew for a fact that Bray Wyatt would return to the WWE in some way shape or form and time for some… controversy.

As my favorite ratings winner of 83 Weeks once said, Controversy Creates Cash and boy HOWDY… Do I have something to get off my chest here so sit back, order some Chairshot Merch and lets get on with Adam’s… Rants for a bit.

Initial Thoughts

Bray coming in and making a return to the WWE was an inevitability. Death, Taxes and I guess WWE Returns are always guaranteed anymore and maybe we could get some new creativity with a supernatural gimmick. Bray has always had that supernatural to him ever since he had the Wyatt Family in Erik Rowan, the late Luke Harper and in the end, Braun Strowman. The Wyatt’s had a control like no other and were beloved for a moment in the WWE.

Bray did a lot to make sure things were in motion but for some reason any massive feud he had, he failed. Following a bunch of injuries to the rest of his family and even releases later on, he seemed to at least get some traction going for him. WWE Champion, somehow got Randy Orton with him, Universal Championships and got those big match wins that eluded him in the Wyatt Family beginnings. Let me also say this as well, I actually liked the Firefly Funhouse Match with Cena as a “This is Your Life” match of sorts. I was tickled and entertained… Then much like Bray in character, something changed.

Dark and Terrible Lurk with Fiends

We had a lot to figure out during the Pandemic. Like A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT. Through it all though, WWE figured it out but the person that helped these types of ideas, soured them drastically. Lets go back to the WWE Championship run in 2017. Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble that year and he wouldn’t betray Bray, right? Well he does and Mania for the two is set, Orton against Wyatt for the WWE Championship and it was… terrible. Random images of maggots and decay (Not the IMPACT Stable) popping up into the ring as the match goes on and Randy still wins. Through head game attempts, Bray comes up short in the big match moment. That’s odd but maybe it will be a bigger pictu– and Jinder Mahal wins the Championship. Okay.

Wyatt returns as this Mister Rogers character and has a darkness inside of him with The Fiend. Now we had this amazing theory or maybe that’s what happened but the story was, anyone The Fiend fought, they revert back to their best selves. The Miz returned to be the A Lister, the guy who grabs a microphone that you love to hate. Finn Balor doesn’t have the Demon Gimmick anymore because after his loss, he’s the Prince again. The cocky guy that walks around because he is the best, he gives no care in the world. Seth Rollins, who he took the WWE Universal Championship from, went from a dorky sweetheart back to the asshole taking every opportunity that he could get because he’s that much of a weasel and when he lost… He lost to Goldberg. The one guy that has been the same since 1997. Drums, Pyro Bath, Spear, Jackhammer, “Who’s Next?” and during that time, he sucked at points. One of those Rollins matches was in a Hell In A Cell match, the red cage with the red lighting. Match ending with a Stoppage from the referee… INSIDE OF A HELL IN A CELL (I think Sean Waltman said it best… Why did the match stop? It’s supposed to be Hell?) and it’s one of the rare times that I agreed with wrestling’s favorite Uncle… That was Negative Stars for a match.

After Goldberg, he didn’t have a commanding presence. He recruited Alexa Bliss who was already over whether she was a Heel or Face and made everything so unbelievably… boring. Alexa had to carry that idiotic demon gimmick and doll, not having anything really supernatural. Just some wrestling and Brock Lesnar cleaning up everything faster than a Chop Shop in main events and segments. He tried to return and make his grand return, beating the Universal Champion Braun Strowman at Summerslam just to falter a literal week later to Roman Reigns, who proceeded to never look back from that win. Bray gets fired after and no more supernatural ideas. Undertaker isn’t around really and retires, Kane is a mayor. Paul Bearer is no longer with us and everything is just… normal.

Wyatt’s Six (Reasons I Tune Out)

In 2022, Vince retires seemingly from everything and Triple H is at the helm, could he bring balance to everything? He makes a bunch of returns that people love seeing. Johnny Gargano, Dakota Kai, Tegan Nox, Bronson Reed, Dexter Lumus just to name a few and of course, the big one that everyone wanted. Bray Wyatt.

Bray makes this heartfelt return and everything seems great. We get him as him, he makes this weird build to a Wyatt 6, assuming we think it’s the Firefly Funhouse and he’s just talking, building. Alright well who is going to be these six figures because they are more than just puppets this time around. A masked man named Uncle Howdy that people think is Vincent Marseglia or maybe a bearded Bo Dallas who is Bray’s real life brother and he……… pops in and out to confuse people. Okay… (1)

Alexa might return to the 6 because of all the segments and gets darker and a heel. Alright that is perfectly fine but, WHY IS VINCENT DALLAS HERE AGAIN TO JUST INTERFERE WITH RANDOM THINGS? Okay… fine. (2) Alexa has a Women’s Championship match against Bianca Belair, that will make sense of thi– it’s a clean finish… Why is it clean? No Howdy, No Wyatt just a random VHS tape like I’m watching The Ring about her being dark after the match. Okay…… (3)

Oh Wyatt finally gets a feud for his return. I almost forgot about that! Who will be this first victim? LA Knight.

…Okay…… (4)

Maybe this will be good. They are both great on the microphone, maybe Bray has new moves that he can do and I know all too well how good LA Knight is, I have been an Eli Drake/Shaun Ricker fan for years. This could be a great match that they have, they announced it for the Royal Rumble so it’s going to be big and it’s a… Pitch Black Match presented by Mountain Dew.

O…okay…… (5)

The Royal Rumble is upon us, the Men’s Rumble starts the show and we all have adrenaline in our soul for it and now is this weird Pitch Black Match and it’s not a cinematic match. It’s in the ring, No Count Outs and No Disqualifications. LA Knight comes out in his iconic Yellow Attire and Wyatt is talking… with a mask on. The lights turn off and the ropes are glowing a neon greenish-yellow… with an announce table spot that… has Nickelodeon Slime inside of it when they break it? Okay fine… I knew the match was going to be dumb and gimmicky from the Mountain Dew Sponsorship. Bray wins, yay. LA Knight comes back with a Kendo Stick and… we get invulnerable Bray again… they don’t hurt. Lets go to this crash pad and Bo Marseglia shows up from somewhere and just elbow drops him from maybe fifteen to twenty feet with pyro and the Firefly Funhouse Puppets appear at the top, to watch a fire… And there is number six…

Actual Thoughts on Current Bray Wyatt, Post Rumble

I absolutely hate it.


This was awful. You build whatever insignificant thought process of the Wyatt 6 has going for it when Uncle Howdy does the best Cap’n Shane O elbow drop for a hellfire effect. At least the pyro was better than the AEW Explosion Match I guess…

Regardless, how does LA Knight come out of all of this moving forward? He lost an idiotic gimmick match and looks presumed dead. This just makes me think that whoever in whatever interview said Bray Wyatt is a creative mastermind needs to put whatever they have down before we hear about their T.O.D. posted somewhere. This Pitch Black Match is somehow worse than that Rollins Hell in a Cell Match and that takes talent. At least a good amount of alcohol lulled that from my brain but this made me remember that and enjoy the thought of that match happening with its finish. The best way I can picture how this was pitched was Burnt Dogshit, wrapped in a Kerosine Blanket with… sorry had to look at what I wrote, not putting that on websites but… people saw a Creative Quesadilla and when we got the actual product, it gave Salmonella poisoning and E Coli at the same time.

I really don’t want to see another Bray Wyatt match… again. Whoever gave him creative, take it away immediately. As much steam as Bray Wyatt gets in promos or possible matches in the past, the only steaming he gets at the end, is steaming piles of shit. You can say, he’s getting paid millions where I’m a little troll on the internet with typing power and I really don’t care but to me, Triple H… you finally got your first failing grade with something in your leadership role in WWE.


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