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The Undertaker and Kane: Leading the Way for WWE Part-Timer Resurgence

The Undertaker and Kane are fans are speculating on the company’s for featuring part-time superstars as main event attractions.

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The Undertaker and Kane WWE

The Undertaker and Kane are back together again and it’s led many WWE fans to begin speculating on the company’s future. It’s not necessarily because of the impact that The Brothers of Destruction could potentially have together. It has more to do with the company’s penchant for featuring part-time Superstars as main event attractions. 

(Editor’s Note: This article was written before WWE presented Super Showdown, where The Undertaker battled Triple H in Australia.)

It’s an old argument and one that has been happening quite a lot over the past few years. That’s due to the presence of Brock Lesnar of course, who basically held the WWE Universal Championship hostage for 504 days. That situation was caused by the company itself however, meaning that WWE is very high on the idea of utilizing part-time stars at the top.

Evidently that trend is continuing now. Many WWE fans have a great deal of respect for The Undertaker and he is very worthy of that respect. If anyone in WWE has the right to call his own shot, it’s The Deadman. He’s fought many wars in the past and he’s always stepped up when he was needed the most.

Indeed the aura surrounding The Undertaker is still alive and well. For every fan that complains about Taker’s slowed steps in the ring, there are many more that accept his pace because of The Phenom’s contributions to the WWE product. It’s not that he gets a pass for his age, rather he gets the benefit of the doubt because he’s deserving of it.

So every time he comes back, The Undertaker sees criticism from some and adulation from many. This has been the ebb and flow of his WWE career from the moment he was pinned  by Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. But while Taker continues on and fans debate it, Kane is back and the same conversation is taking place.

Without The Undertaker, there is no Kane. Destiny dictates that their careers always cross and indeed they always will. That’s just how it is. So now that The Big Red Machine is back, it’s only logical that he’s back at the side of his storyline brother. Of course Kane may not draw the criticism that The Undertaker does, but there are still many fans that question the move.

Does WWE really need Kane back in the fold? For that matter, does the company really need The Deadman either? Those questions, while valid, may be unnecessary at this point. Whether or not the audience wants something tends to be irrelevant in the world of WWE. Oftentimes, Vince McMahon’s company delivers what it wants when it wants and there’s just no way to fight it.

WWE wants The Brothers of Destruction back on the roster so that’s exactly what happened. WWE continues to blur the line between expectation and reality, just as it alway does. So even though fans are getting another flashback, it remains unknown if the majority of them actually wanted to time travel.

On the flip side of this coin are Triple H and Shawn Michaels. The Game is always around of course, though he’s not often in the ring anymore. He has his hands full with corporate responsibilities, both on the main roster and in NXT. Triple H is a huge asset behind the scenes and it’s safe to assume that one day, he will either be the man calling the shots for WWE or he will be just to the left of that spot.

Fans seem to have less of a problem with The King of Kings getting back in the ring than the other veterans of WWE. Hunter is at a very interesting point in his career in which he has a great deal of respect for his work with NXT yet some fans still question his motives.

However those questions are whispers these days. They are no longer broadcast for the whole world to hear. The chorus that heralded the unjust rule of the man with the magic shovel has been somewhat quietened over the past few years. Is Triple H truly responsible for “burying” one talent after another during his WWE career? Does it even matter now? As with The Undertaker, it seems some fans are quick to overlook any faults in favor of respecting achievements. 

But the real story here is Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid has spent the past eight years of his life graciously refusing any offers to return to the ring and politely denying any rumors to the contrary. He’s fielded thousands of questions concerning his possible future between the ropes and he’s done it all with a smile on his face. In a company full of uncertainty, Shawn Michaels was the one constant. But not anymore.

Will he lace up the boots again in 2018? This is the discussion that’s now taking place and this time, the discussion has some real legs under it. It’s no longer a question of whether or not he will at this point. Now the question has become why? Why would the man that had no reason to turn back the clock and proclaimed he never wanted to, actually do it now?

WWE doesn’t need Shawn Michaels back in the ring. The same is true of Triple H, Kane and The Undertaker. These four giants of professional wrestling have accomplished things that other stars, past and present, could only dream of. WWE as a company is still thriving without the quartet on the roster. SmackDown Live’s move to the Fox Network in 2019 didn’t happen thanks to The Brothers of Destruction or DX. WWE as a company is full of talent and every brand brings something different to the table each and every week.

But if this is what the company wants, then there may be no stopping it now. Of every part-timer currently booked, or will be booked in the future, it’s The Undertaker that made it fashionable. He called his own shots a long time ago and he continues to do so now. He has that right and there is no denying that. How long this trend will last is unknown. Whether or not fans want to see it keep happening is a debate that will surely continue for a long time to come.


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Levin’s SmackDown Live Review (10/16/18)

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After watching parts (thank you Comcast) of SmackDown Live’s 1,000th show, it is clear to me the company may not be done promoting matches in the future that feature stars of the past.

While I was not able to witness the entire show, the parts I did see left me thinking (out loud) whether WWE’s commitment to showcasing part-time performers is truly worth the battle? Does the fan base gain anything from seeing older rivalries renewed? Do the current stars on the roster feel slighted in the least by having to share time with restructured programming?

The reunion of Evolution may be the reopening of Pandora’s Box. The confrontation between Batista and Triple H could once again lead to a confrontation in the ring potentially at the Royal Rumble or as an addition to the card at WrestleMania 35. The back and forth between “The Animal” and the “King of Kings” was expected once Randy Orton spewed his venom about Batista leaving the company to pursue acting.

That’s part of the script we all expected. The confrontation and vibe given off as Batista and Triple H “hugged it out” may have been part of the spot, but there are some undertones the company might want to save for another time and date. The use of veterans who have reemerged of late – with Undertaker and Trips in Australia and a tag team match between ‘Taker and Kane and DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) may be great on paper, but it is also a hard sell since the announcers have downplayed Michaels’ return to the ring.

Does a Batista-Triple H return match do anything for you? Are you entertained enough to think it is worth a long storyline? Batista has teased a return to the ring, much like The Rock has commented on social media how he cannot wait to get back to the company that made him a millionaire many times over. History tells us certain feuds stand the test of generational gaps.

Triple H and Undertaker is one. The Rock and Steve Austin – if it ever happened – is another. Given that both performers are still in amazing shape this advanced in their careers, is there any reason to think a match wouldn’t sell? Probably not. Finding the right place and time to sell it is the key to its success. SmackDown Live has done such a phenomenal job of using two hours of “wrestling” effectively and has clearly become the “go to” program on WWE’s circuit. Making sure this match gets the proper attention without sacrificing other wrestlers or programs is key.

I suspect the talk of a WWE “reunion” with Batista and Triple H will heat up in the next few weeks. A match looming in the coming year is almost as easy to predict as The Rock and Roman Reigns in a “match for the ages.” The problem is the heat each wrestler brings must match the in-ring performance. We all know Triple H can carry his end of the deal. It remains to be seen if Batista, who has been off in Hollywood making movies, can do the same thing.

As a fan, I sure hope he can.

 


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Opinion

WWE Evolution and Crown Jewel: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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Juan Carlos Reneo takes a look at the differences–and also the similarities–of WWE Crown Jewel and WWE Evolution.

The next two PPVs that WWE will produce are very interesting by themselves. Crown Jewel has become a PR nightmare of WWE because of the latest news related to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile Evolution, a show a lot of people are hopping to see, has become in a way ‘’celebration’’ of women’s wrestling. Interesting enough these two shows are close to one another, making it bizarre for WWE by having praise for making evolution and a lot of bad publicity because of Crown Jewel.

In paper the WWE-Saudi Arabia deal, receiving from 450 to 500 million dollars for a 10-year deal look great but the deal had its main problem which was Saudi Arabia’s treatment on women and LGBTQ community, two communities in which WWE represents with campaigns and events. Crown Jewel as of this moment will still be celebrated despite the media and even senators of the United Stated pressuring WWE to cancel the show because of recent events. Vince McMahon who is known as stubborn man has his plan to go to Saudi Arabia and do Crown Jewel even if people and wrestlers of WWE like it or not.

Evolution at first looked like an apology PPV given to the female roster for not being able to compete in Saudi Arabia because of the laws of the country. When we first heard of Evolution people (I include myself) were excited for the concept of this PPV and a way to give the spotlight to the great female roster WWE has right now. But all the excitement and focus of Evolution went away when WWE announced the show Crown Jewel that would be celebrated only 5 days later and making Evolution into ‘’look we are progressive now but in 5 days we are not progressive anymore’’. Evolution now has become a bad apology for WWE making a deal with a country that is not fan to put it in nice words of the LGBTQ community and women despite they stating they are making cultural changes which in most cases is not true.

Timing has not been a friend of WWE lately, with first the idea of Evolution and Crown Jewel being only a few days apart and seeing the current events that happened. The hashtag #CancelCrownJewel has become very popular in the last coupe of days, but will this pressure cancel the show? When fans pointed out to WWE and Snickers why WWE shouldn’t name a battle royal after the wrestling legend Moolah, it was the right thing to do so there is a record of WWE doing the right thing in recent history.

We also must see the legal nightmare for WWE if they decide to cancel the Crown Jewel show. WWE and Saudi Arabia would enter a tenacious legal battle that most likely would see Saudi Arabia standing tall over WWE. The promotion of Vince McMahon is a corner right now that they were destined to be in from the moment they decided to accept the deal with Saudi Arabia.

Will WWE do the right thing? The best answer I could give to anyone who asked me this question is most likely not, in WWE money speaks over moral integrity, which for all of us fans and followers of the product of WWE should not be a surprised.


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Opinion

Top 5: Old Wrestlers

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Terry Funk

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that WWE could use this time of year, where business is traditionally down anyway, to try some things they hadn’t done before. They’ve gone a different direction. WWE is bringing back every legend & part-timer they can find to try & get some attention from a public more interested in the NFL, NBA rumors, the new TV season, Kanye West & almost anything else going on.

We’ve got Shawn Michaels coming back to team with Triple H against Undertaker & Kane for that sweet Saudi blood money. Trish Stratus & Lita have come back to take on their old rival Mickie James & her good friend Alexa Bliss, who honestly is just lucky she has the promo ability to be involved at this point. Brock Lesnar is hanging around because the price is right, along with John Cena finishing people off with the SIXTH MOVE OF DOOM.

I mean, it’s a strategy. It’s not one that I find particularly entertaining, but WWE has found success with it in the past. And let’s be honest, it’s one that the fans endorse every year with their money, their cheers & their chants. Every year at the Hall of Fame ceremony, there’s thousands of fans breaking into speeches with “ONE MORE MATCH”. Why wouldn’t WWE listen to these people that paid way too much money to sit in an arena & watch speeches? It makes perfect sense. People don’t care about the current WWE Superstars. They want to see the guys & gals from their childhood. WWE will bring the ones that are available.

But let’s not single WWE out here. Every wrestling promoter that has ever run a show has attempted to draw money from nostalgia at some point. Most indie feds book old WWE guys to draw a house. Once somebody appears on that television, there’s a certain recognizability factor that can get them booked for years after Vince lets them go.

Here are the Top 5 Old Wrestlers.

5. Ric Flair

Ric Flair TNA Comeback

Ric was 40 years old during what many consider to be his peak in-ring performance year, 1989. He was a wily veteran throughout WCW’s entire existence. He was supposed to be the guy that passed the torch, and he did on multiple occasions. Somehow, it always ended up back in his hands. It wasn’t his fault that nobody could carry it the way he did.

The culture of WCW wore on Flair, and towards the end of the company’s existence it seemed like he was near the end of his in-ring career. WWE breathed new life into him, and he had many more years of wily veteran left in him. He was just under 60 when he had his last WWE match, and just over 60 when he had his last wrestling match. He’d still be wrestling today if somebody would let him.

4. Jerry Lawler

The King was never the best-looking athlete, but he was always a master of psychology. He knew what the people wanted to see, and the right time to give it to them. He knew the time & place where he needed to be the chickenshit heel, and where he needed to be the babyface that got beat up and then dropped the strap. He also threw one of the best punches in the business.

Even though Lawler is more remembered as a commentator than as a wrestler in WWE, he could always go into the ring when the time called for it. He was over the age of 60 when he was feuding with The Miz & challenging for the WWE Championship, and having the best matches of Miz’s title run. A heart attack ended Lawler’s WWE in-ring career, but he still competes on the indy circuit occasionally because it’s what he knows & loves. Asking him to retire would be lunacy.

3. Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki hasn’t been around as long as the other people on this list. He’s only 50 right now. But I feel like if you had the term “old wrestler” or “grizzled veteran” in an encyclopedia, this man’s picture would be next to it. He just looks like the kind of guy that represents the old school and would slap you if you didn’t respect the business.

Suzuki is known as a co-founder of Pancrase, where he met most of the old-school MMA legends in the ring. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock & Masakatsu Funaki were some of the names. He even met Jushin Thunder Liger in an MMA match. He eventually made his way to pro wrestling, first in All Japan & then in New Japan where he formed the Suzuki-gun faction. I figure if he asks you to join his faction, you pretty much have to out of fear.

2. Terry Funk

As the Funker got older, he got crazier. Funk was already a legend when he arrived in WCW in 1989 at the age of 45 to feud with Ric Flair. Once he got done with that legendary piece of business, he decided he needed to get hardcore in order to get with the times. He did deathmatches in Japan with some dude named Cactus Jack. He did moonsaults off the top rope. He became the patron saint of Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Terry & his brother Dory Funk Jr. were an interesting pair. Dory never changed through the years. He always worked the same style throughout his entire career, which I’m pretty sure is still ongoing. Terry constantly changed. He always wanted to fit in with what was going on at the time. He was middle aged & crazy, and despite announcers’ claims to the contrary, he was the toughest SOB in the business. When you’re tough, you can go on a lot longer than people expect.

Honorable Mention: Mae Young

Mae didn’t exactly have classic matches in her advanced years, but good luck finding a tougher old broad that ever set foot in the ring. Her willingness to take any bump & do any silly thing the writers could think of made her a staple of the WWF Attitude Era at an age where most wrestlers aren’t even alive.

1. Nick Bockwinkel

One of the criticisms of Verne Gagne’s AWA was the fact that he stuck with the same guys on top forever. Longtime stars like Crusher, Baron von Raschke & Verne himself were in top spots on the card years after they should have been. When fans were looking for something new during the 1980s, all the AWA had for most of the decade were the guys that stuck around.

Bockwinkel was a good example of the AWA’s tendency to push guys forever. When Verne didn’t have the AWA Championship, it was usually Nick that had it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it led to backlashes that made Jeff Jarrett seem like a popular NWA Champion. However, the difference between Nicholas & the others previously listed was simple: the dude could still flat-out go in the ring into his 50s. Most of what people have seen of Bockwinkel’s work is from the 1980s, when he was in his late 40s & early 50s. His advanced ring psychology & technical wrestling skills made him seem ageless. His 60 minute draw with Curt Hennig in Las Vegas at the end of 1986, when Bockwinkel was 52 years old, is the best 60 minute draw I’ve ever seen. Hennig learned how to work on that night & others like it across the ring from Bockwinkel, and eventually became Perfect as a result.

Most of the people on this list evolved as they got older. Nick Bockwinkel was an evolved gentleman from the beginning.


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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