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WCW: The NWO Takes Over. A Conversation… with Myself

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     A virus can be defined as “a corrupting influence on morals or the intellect; poison.” If you think about it, WCW was a perfect host. It had some mostly decent talent, some true super stars, good rivalries, good story telling, and honest to God, great matches. But the Early 90s weren’t too kind to WCW, countless missteps made by the creative heads dropped viewership and attendance to live shows. When Eric Bischoff took over, he wanted to do something that was completely different from the competition, so he injected Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan into the program and wanted these three men to take over and tell a different type of story. As the old adage goes: “be careful what you wish for.” 

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 Oh! I just learned about this! It’s called foreshadowing!” – 8 yr old me. 

Oh!… you’re back. I thought after the previous article and the meds, you would have gone away.” – Present Me. 

Haha! Nope still here, and actually there’s a lot more room now that everyone else vanished.”- 8 yr old me

Jeez, I hope everyone’s ok…” -Present Me. 

“…” -8 yr old me. 

AFAB9E4F-5C94-4067-8A9D-A210A885BA4F I’m getting an “Identity” flick vibe from 8yr Old Me

“…Right, then! Back to it!” -Present Me. 

     After Bash at the Beach, The NWO really picked up momentum. Not only were they the most hated individuals in the promotion but the reality/shoot take of their attacks on WCW wrestlers and spray painting NWO across their bodies, caused even more hatred from fans at every show. At almost every occasion, the fans would throw trash into the ring as the NWO were giving their promos. 

Yea! We were pissed! I would have wanted to throw trash, too!” 8yr Old Me

You change your stance on trash throwing after your high school freshman talent show.” Present Me

5089BB10-E974-4632-AE5B-9286885213D1 Can’t believe WCW allowed this much trash in the ring.

    The fact of the matter is that people were tuning in. The fans loved to hate the NWO, Hogan in particular, who was now going by Hollywood Hogan, wearing black and white instead of his red and yellow gear, and once he won the WCW Heavyweight Championship at Hog Wild, Hogan spray painted the Belt “NWO”, to signify their take over. 

   Man, I remember kids spray painting NWO on school walls because they “claimed” NWO “ PM

   Not me! I’m all WCW!” 8YOM

    How’s the working out for you?” PM

    “… I get picked on… a lot. It’s not a good time to be a nice guy.” 8YOM

    Not sure if it helps but, eventually, you get to side with another group of people who run under the name of the Four-mer faction that used to run the place.” PM

391E19A8-D70E-42A8-905A-740328CDC15F On top is the faction we deserved to go against the NWO, on the bottom is what we got… Frikkin Mongo…

    NWO shirts not only peppered the crowd in attendance of live recordings, but almost always outnumbered any other wrestling shirt. As their popularity grew, so did their numbers and influence, even getting a referee, Nick Patrick, on their payroll.  

9F877BA4-40FD-4E9C-989C-FC7BF1D28898 ACTUAL Picture of Nick Patrick, I swear this isn’t Danny McBride. Although, NWO Bound and Down, anyone?

   By now, the WWF may have had all the ingredients to begin the Attitude Era but they hadn’t been put together quite just yet, leaving WCW as the only wrestling company in the US that blended reality with kayfabe in a manner that was gaining a lot of attention. 

BD044299-F039-42C9-B451-E954990E1050 Attitude Era wasn’t quite ripe, yet.

   Around this time, there were a few new recruits for the NWO: Ted Dibiase, the Giant and long time friend of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, Syxx. WCW, who at this time was represented by Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Lex Luger and Sting, would get another chance at the NWO at Fall Brawl: WarGames. A week before the event on Monday Nitro, the NWO teased a new member that was hiding in a limo outside the arena. When Lex Luger was called out to the parking lot by a ref (Nick Patrick, of course), he was attacked by the individual hiding in the Limo who turned out to be, none other than: Sting wearing black and white face paint. 

6130CF26-ECAA-433F-964A-3605D387796B To be fair, it was a nice limo.

    Needless to say, this put a strain on the WCW team, as they realized they didn’t have a fourth member they could trust to replace Sting. At the event Sting swore it wasn’t him but no one, not even the announcers, believed him. So when War Games began, no one knew who’s side he would be on. As the match, which consisted of a long cage surrounding two rings and each team having their members come out one at a time, progressed, we saw NWO use their numbers game to overpower team WCW. Then, Sting showed up and began beating his WCW teammates. 

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“Boooooo!”

    But then the real Sting showed up. 

C4C44FA1-671F-46A9-81AF-8382BC90506B “Yay!”

   He was wearing similar face paint as the phony Sting, but put a quick beating to Fake Sting and whichever NWO member stood in his way. Once he made his point, that it was NOT him who beat down Luger a week before, nor did he betray WCW, he left his teammates to get beaten. Turning his back on WCW, as WCW had turned their back on him. 

995023D0-097F-4D64-9C0C-C65F750168D8 “Every night I burn, Dream the crow black dream!” I uh… I was a big fan of the Crow.

   Fun piece of trivia: WWF had previously done a storyline with a duplicate Undertaker that wasn’t well received but did that stop them from trying it again? Nope. Soon after Kevin Nash and Scott Hall made their debut as the Outsiders, WWF used a heel Jim Ross storyline, who even tried a shoot angle, to bring back Razor Ramon and Diesel, the former aliases of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Only it wasn’t Scott Hall and Kevin Nash in the roles, but Rick Bognar and Glenn Jacobs. 

A81DBC60-DB40-4042-B0D2-B5C30B7F634A I think I bought this version at the dollar store

Hey, little buddy! Remember the scary Dentist you mentioned last time?!…” PM

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“…THIS is what happened to that guy!” PM

Wow! Talk about unoriginal. He’s not even scary anymore. He’s scary tall, but that’s about it. It’s a shame they never did anything with him..” 8YOM

Patience, little buddy… ” PM

    They didn’t last long but it is interesting to know that WCW ended up doing a better version of the duplicate or impostor and actually use it to benefit a storyline. In this case, to drive away the Icon And homegrown hero Sting. 

    Seriously, it was a great story! The matches were… ok. But people weren’t necessarily tuning in for the matches, they wanted to see how and when the NWO would get their comeuppance. The seeds were planted for an eventual avenging hero to emerge but the reign and reach of the NWO would only continue to extend. 

BF39A579-1C07-4483-A782-F1346B08C13B This is only 10% of the NWO roster by the end of 1998.

   And while the main focus was on the NWO, its not to say there weren’t other storylines and better matches happening at that time.  

Next Week: 

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WCW Cruiserweights and other Fantastic Beasts…

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Superstar Spotlight : Gallows & Anderson

Superstar Spotlight: Gallows & Anderson

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson are everything a tag team is all about. The duo gels extremely well and that plays a major role in their overall success. Add in their talent and what they bring to the table and you have yourself one solid team.

Gallows’ career was a lot different then Anderson’s. Luke signed with WWE at the beginning of his career. He tried out for WWE’s Tough Enough and although unable to make it far in the contest he impressed the right people. The 6’8 beast wrecked havoc in Deep South Wrestling (WWE development territory) and was called up to the main roster to feud with Kane.

After a few failed gimmicks, Gallows made noise by joining the Straight Edge Society. CM Punk, leading the group had a major fan following which shined a major spotlight on Luke which he ran with. After the groups run, he parted ways with WWE.

Gallows ended up in TNA and joined the group Aces & Eights. I thought this stable was perfect and their gang like attacks caught the attention of fans worldwide. The biker gang shook the TNA’s roster and were showcased like major players. It was the best way to introduce Luke as the fantastic wrestler he is. His talents were now on a platform that shown the world WWE dropped the ball with him.

After his run with TNA, Gallows ended up in New Japan and that is where is stock rose to where it is today. There is where he joined the now famous Bullet Club stable and teamed up with his partner in crime Karl Anderson. 

Karl Anderson’s career was more of the fairy tale type. He busted his butt on the indie scene creating noise along the way. He would go on to work for companies like NWA , PWG and ROH, fighting the best of the best including Chris Hero, The Young Bucks and Roderick Strong. 

Karl was starting to become a household name when NJPW came calling. He teamed with Giant Bernard (WWE’s Performance Center Head Coach, Matt Bloom) and the duo became immensely successful. 

After Bernard’s return to WWE, Anderson struck out as a singles star and had a solid run but it wasn’t until himself and Gallows teamed up is where the magic happened. 

Gallows & Anderson ran amuck in NJPW and quickly became one of, if not the best tag team in the world. They were extremely dominate and destroyed anyone and everyone in their path. The three time IWGP Tag Team Champions quickly became a hot commodity in the wrestling world and every promotion wanted a piece of the duo.

Rumors ran rampant about a bidding war between TNA and WWE for the duo and AJ Styles. TNA made claims the trio agreed to make ways there but as we all know, WWE won that war. Gallows & Anderson made a run in and attacked The Usos on an episode of Monday Night Raw. They quickly made a statement, telling the world they arrived and to look out. 

They were immediately shown as a major force and for any fan unknown of the group, you thought these two were going to make tag team wrestling important in WWE. The team were shown like major stars and had solid storylines for themselves and seemed like the train was running full steam ahead. 

For some reason, the group fizzled out. As a fan I know this has nothing to do with the team and everything to do with WWE. The company’s start and stop attitude with tag team wrestling really caused a ripple effect in their run. They went from being a tag team who the world was excited for to becoming just an everyday, ordinary team in WWE. If you know these two, ordinary they aren’t. WWE has a team that they can reshape the tag division with and a team who can lead the direction you want the overall division to go in.

While being left without storylines for so long, the group lost its steam. While it is never to late to hit the restart button, the longer you wait the harder it is. I would love to know why Vince isn’t promoting the duo like one of the top teams. By now the tag team division could be exactly like it was during the Attitude Era and that was relevant. Gallows & Anderson are exactly who you need to lead. They have the worldwide experience, they have the talent and they have the potential to become over tremendously with the WWE audience. Vince, stop wasting away a division that should be a major priority for the company. 

All Elite Wrestling burst on the scene two months ago and really changed WWE’s mindset. Much like WWE, AEW has a billionaire backing them but this billionaire is willing to toss out large sums of money to lure in some major players. As many misused WWE talents are asking for their release, WWE is trying their damndest to keep top stars from jumping ship by upping their contracts with significant pay raises.

Rumor or not, it was recently announced that the duo turned down WWE’s multi million dollar option to resign due to the lack of direction the company had in store for them. These two aren’t the types of talent you let waste away. These are the guys who can do much more for the company then the company let them do so the option came to resign and they passed. 

Choosing to walk away over a solid pay check must be hard but obviously having your talent unused made the decision an easy one. Where the group will go in unknown but the thought of where is exciting. 

A run with ROH would be great. Gallows & Anderson vs The Briscoe Brothers would be a major  money making feud. They would be welcomed like major superstars from the Ring Of Honor crowd but I think we all know AEW is where the group will end up.

Being close with The Elite, the thought of them not signing there is almost non existent. While it is not a guarantee they will sign there, but I am sure it will happen. It is known AE wants tag team wrestling to be just as important as single wrestling and by having the worlds best team heading the company, tag team wrestling will be everything it should be.

While still signing wrestlers, AE already has some major teams under contract. SoCal Uncensored, Best Friends, The Lucha Bros and of course The Young Bucks, this group already stomps a mud hole in WWE’s division. Adding Gallows & Anderson to the mix is the perfect recipe to an already spot on roster. This just adds some extra credibility to their tag team division.

As sad as I am to see the duo leave WWE as I was so excited to watch them reshape Vince’s mind on tag team wrestling, I am excited at the thought of where they will go next. They have already built a solid name for themselves but it is about what they can do for an upcoming company like AEW and the direction they can take the tag division  is what will mean the most to them and their careers. 

The Good Brothers are about to take their careers to the next level and as a fan I can’t wait. Until then, I will be day dreaming of some possible match ups and storylines that WWE could have had yet they let slip away. 

Nick Whitworth

WWE Calls Up Four NXT All-Stars, but how Far Will They Go?

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Before We Begin: It is argued that NXT is better than WWE’s main roster and vice versa, but the fact is that they operate under the same umbrella.  NXT was once referred to as “developmental”.  Some aspects of that remain, but as of the past few years it has more so been a launch pad for wrestlers before jumping onto Raw or Smackdown.  NXT has acquired some very popular wrestlers such as Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and Finn Balor. Such wrestlers already had a lot much attention on them outside of WWE, so when they made their way to NXT, their popularity was thunderous.  Aside from their popularity, their matches and storylines were incredible too, helping NXT seem like its own promotion and not just developmental territory for WWE.

This expectation of NXT trickled into the next few years as more independent talent made waves in NXT.  Four wrestlers in particular have been driving forces in keeping NXT strong  between the years of 2016 and 2019: Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, Ricochet, and Aleister Black.  Some fans knew of them prior to NXT, but what they all have in common is that their names exploded during their time in the yellow brand.  In February of 2019, they were suddenly called up and debuted on the main roster.  Although they are still working in NXT, they have been semi-regulars on the televised programs and it seems that it’s going to stay that way until they are permanently on the main roster and out of NXT.

With such a stacked call-up group that has a lot to boast based on their tenures in NXT, all of them seem poised for high success on the main roster.  Success will look different for each of these individuals though.  Some will see gold, some may not.  Some will win world titles, others will never attain the top prize.  Here, it will be broken down to help create perspective and predict how well this all-star call-up group will do out of NXT and on Vince McMahon’s flagship shows.

Tommaso Ciampa

Billed From: Boston, MA

Age: 33

Height: 5’11”

Weight: 200 LBS

NXT Debut: 2015

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Tommaso Ciampa is a great personality on TV and an incredible wrestling talent.  He’s had a very solid NXT Championship run and is arguably in his best conditioning ever in reference to his physique.  Ciampa had a lengthy run on the independent scene before coming to WWE/NXT, most notably in Ring of Honor (ROH) where he held the Television Title on one occasion.  Despite this glimmer of success, his work in NXT really propelled his name and now wrestling fans around the world know Tommaso Ciampa.  That’s a big draw for WWE because his work with DIY and his complete villainous run in 2018 made his name resound.

His physique is impressive, but by WWE main event standards, he’s small.  Looking at WWE’s history of world champions, these competitors tend to be big; taller than six feet and 225 plus pounds.  Daniel Bryan and Rey Mysterio are recent exceptions, therefore by statistics, Ciampa has a chance of winning the top prize on the main roster, but it’s not a large one based on this singular outlook.

Ciampa’s biggest setback is his durability.  Like any athlete, injuries can make or break careers.  In 2017 he suffered an awful ACL rupture, putting him on the shelf for nearly a year.  ACL injuries never go away, they heal but it’s impossible to truly return to 100%.  On top of that, his recent main roster debut led to him injuring his neck which he has been supposedly toughing out.  It was later revealed that it is more serious than led to believe.

Prediction: If Tommaso Ciampa can stay healthy and injury free, he’s going to win mid-card championships.  This also opens the door for becoming a tag-team champion depending on how he’s booked.  His character, work ethic, and ring style definitely fit the bill for becoming a world champion, but his size and injury track record may set him back.

 

Johnny Gargano

Billed From: Cleveland, OH

Age: 31

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 200 LBS

NXT Debut: 2015

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Johnny Gargano had one of the best professional wrestling runs in 2018, despite the win/loss column.  He had a brutal rivalry with Tommaso Ciampa, captured the North American Championship, and made his main roster debut in 2019.  Gargano has charisma, a unique and smooth wrestling style, and possesses strong mic skills.  Just like his former DIY partner, Tommaso Ciampa, Gargano broke ground in the indies, but NXT lifted him to stardom.

Gargano is similar to Ciampa when it comes to physique and stature.  He is muscular, athletic, but essentially small.   He’s under six feet tall and is technically in the cruiserweight class based on his billed weight.  But his in-ring skills, charisma, and personality heavily favor Gargano if he ever makes it to the WWE main event scene.

Prediction: Johnny Gargano has everything it takes to be a champion, bottom line.  Gargano can elevate any championship whether it is a mid-card or a world title given he has shown durability and radiates a strong wrestling personality, but history isn’t necessarily on his side.  Vince McMahon doesn’t tend to favor smaller world champions, but that’s not to say things won’t change in the future.  Assuming he continues to put in his time with WWE, Johnny Gargano will win a championship on WWE’s main roster and has a decent chance of capturing a world title.

 

Aleister Black

Billed From: Amsterdam, Holland

Age: 33

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 215 LBS

NXT Debut: 2016

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Only hardcore independent wrestling fans knew who Aleister Black was prior to NXT.  He was Tommy End for the majority of his career until NXT rebranded him as Aleister Black.  From the start, the officials of NXT put their faith in Black as he began his WWE journey undefeated from pin fall or submission for over a year, captured the NXT Championship in 2018, and has made his main roster debut in 2019.  Black blends a style of old school technique, martial arts striking, and mild aerial assault.  On top of that, his image and representation are strong.  He is dark and enigmatic but in a modern way.  There are elements of the Undertaker in his entrance set up and attire while his showcase of tattoos and his heavy hitting music shed light on his personality as an off-screen person, much like CM Punk.  While this is an enticing character appearance, it needs to dive deeper.  In this modern age, new mystical characters don’t go over with the crowd.  If a character is mysterious, fans need a story to follow therefore, being a dark character requires a believable (in wrestling terms) tale.

Black has captured the NXT Championship and holds victories over some of NXT’s top talent.  He also has a history of independent success, but much like Gargano and Ciampa, NXT is where he made his name and broke through.  Aleister Black has shown he can put on incredible matches and has also demonstrated the ability to be involved in intriguing rivalries/storylines.  His mic skills can’t be compared to the Rock or Stone Cold, but he has the ability to work out of the ring in front of the camera and into a microphone.  This formula is a great foundation for becoming any WWE branded champion.

Out of this all-star group of NXT call ups, Black is largest.  As it’s been noted many times before, history shows that size usually does matter in WWE.  Black is a hybrid athlete though, he’s not as large as a John Cena or Randy Orton, but is well out of the Cruiserweight Division.  His strength doesn’t match Braun Strowman or Brock Lesnar, but has an arsenal of suplexes and submission holds and may be one of the best strikers in all of WWE.

Prediction: Aleister Black is a very unique wrestler on WWE’s roster.  He has a striking image and versatile move set.  The crowd has seen how Black performs and he is over with them.  If his personality continues to develop, Black has a strong chance of capturing WWE gold.  Based on his high performances being both the victor and the defeated, WWE may cash in on Black and set him up to win world championships.  With that, he is destined to capture main roster titles period.

 

Ricochet

Billed From: Paducah, KY

Age: 30

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 196 LBS

NXT Debut: 2018

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Ricochet is a wrestling sensation who gained traction primarily in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), and Lucha Underground before making waves in WWE/NXT.  He is one of the few wrestlers in the world who have mastered a gravity defying wrestling style.  His move set is awe inspiring yet appears to be so devastating.  His representation can be compared to that of what Jeff Hardy or Rey Mysterio brought for fans in past times because he has demonstrated moves and acrobatics in a wrestling ring that people were not used to seeing or have ever seen before.

History shows that Ricochet is a high-profile cruiserweight but has also captured heavyweight championships.  In NJPW, he flourished in the junior heavyweight division, winning essentially all prizes in that category.  In products such as PWG or Lucha Underground, Ricochet was able to seize the world/heavyweight titles but the competition is relative.  In the main event scene, main roster WWE currently consists of talent such as Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins etc.  In brief, these competitors are giants.  Despite the history of giant world champions, Daniel Bryan is the current WWE Champion and Kofi Kingston looks like he’ll have an opportunity fairly soon so this may be a subtle sign of a changes to the “standard”, given both wrestlers are not considered to be large athletes.

One area Ricochet needs great improvement in is his in-ring personality.  He’s over with the crowd because of his athletic talent, but his character will fade in the spotlight.  He’s been pushed as babyface for the sake of just that, there’s not a lot character to support it.  This questions how he will function as anything but a face wrestler.  Any great in-ring athlete can win a championship, but fans will disengage if the character doesn’t sell.

Prediction: Ricochet is athletic and exciting but his characters lacks.  And just like that of Gargano and Ciampa, his size puts him at a historical disadvantage.  His odds of capturing a world title doesn’t look too high at the moment.  There is a better chance of him winning singles mid-card championships, but he could really continue to elevate the Cruiserweight Championship as well as the whole division.  McMahon pulling the trigger to highlight the Cruiserweights is a different story though.  Ricochet makes a great tag-team partner as well and it would be best for business to see him and another talent be booked as a respected duo, therefore creating high chances for him to shine as a tag-team champion.

The Takeaway: These four recent call-ups from NXT is a strong class.  As NXT continues to grow in popularity, call ups will seem more significant and expectations will be sky high. The truth is, not every wrestler will hold a WWE world title.  It has always been that way and that’s okay.  WWE has had a problem with balance over the past few years, referring to the insignificance to titles such as the United States and Intercontinental championships.  If crafted correctly and meaningfully, WWE can revive the prestige of the mid-card scene as these high-profile NXT stars make their way onto the main roster.  WWE will always make some head-scratching decisions, but these NXT wrestlers can really impact the landscape of the WWE’s main roster in a positive direction.

Feb 2019 issue

Feb 2019 issue cover

Here is the most awaited Issue of Too Sweet Magazine. The top 50 wrestlers of 2019 are included, Becky Lynch is #1. We also bring you the interview of AEW’s Jungle Boy. All of it for free! For you guys. So please show us support & read our magazine. And if you like it please follow us @toosweetmag.

Roman Reigns Returns Home

Roman Reigns Returns Home

I have been on this planet for almost 40 years and know we all in some way, shape or forum have been affected by cancer. Whether a family member or a friend, this disease has hit home more often then it should. When it comes celebrities we tend to look at them in a different light. We think of them as these super human species who are indestructible and untouchable so when we hear something bad about them it hurts just as bad, like we knew these stars.

October 22nd, I had just grabbed my typical junk food (a few chocolate bars and a bag of chips), sat down on the couch, grabbed a blanket and got cozy. I was as ready for Monday Night Raw as I always am. Typical Raw, Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring and is showered with jeers. There are some positive screams coming his way but the bad usually outweigh the good with him as of late. As he went on to cut a promo as per norm, the crowd still littered him with negative noise but it wasn’t until he announced his leukemia had returned is when the entire arena went silent. I sat straight up with my heart racing. Speaking no longer as Roman Reigns but as Joe Anoa’i, he stated he had been living with the disease for 11 years and it made its way back.

The audience was in total shock. Some had their hands over their mouths in disbelief, some had tears flowing down their faces. Why? Because in our eyes he wasn’t a human being. Joe was actually Roman Reigns who was a super hero fighting the villans all over the world. We all forget celebs are just like us and that is why the news hits us so hard.

After Joe delivered his emotional speech, he left the ring and was met by his Shield partners on stage and embraced in a truly heartbreaking moment. I still get emotional over the thought of it not just because of who he is but because of the human being he is and the family man he is.

Reigns stated after he beats cancers ass he will be back. Not knowing much about leukemia, I was unsure if he will be back especially having already defeated it 11 years ago. My hope was the fans who disliked him would really appreciated all he has done for WWE. They would realize he gave it his all night in and night out all the while living with terrible disease.

The fans dislike for him wasn’t because of his skill. It was more or less due to the fact the world knew he was Vince’s guy and Vince was doing all he can to make him their top star. Fans didn’t want to be told who to like, they want to be the ones who decide. They do forget it just isn’t about cheers and boo’s, there is a business side to it as well. Ratings, merchandise sales , etc. Roman was a merch machine which tells Vince he is over with the audience. WWE’s Instagram post with Reigns holding the Intercontinental Championship (which he had won) was their most liked picture to date. So while the smart marks of the world are walking out when his match is one, the numbers state Roman in their guy.

News came out Roman would be on Monday Night Raw to make an announcement and give us an update on his battle. It generated a ton of buzz as the world had their fingers crossed the news would be good news and his return to the ring is a possibility.

On February 25th, Monday Night Raw opened the show with his music blasting through the arena. The crowd literally blew the roof off of the place with excitement and joy to see Roman Reigns standing on top of the entrance ramp. I have goosebumps right now just thinking about it.

Reigns stepped into the ring, grabbed the mic and started to deliver his news. Throughout the entire speech he had to hold back his emotion and continue to talk to the world. The fans let him know how they felt and I am sure that played a major role in is emotion but he continued on. “The good news is I am in remission y’all”. That sentence made every fan shed a tear with joy as he put the demon to rest for the time being. Roman Reigns was back.

He was treated like a star the entire night and so he should be. He came right back to the place where he told us the news and through the entire ordeal, we were right there with him. He was on the mind of every wrestler and every fan out there. The support for Roman was truly magical.

It wasn’t too long after his beautiful announcement is when the smart marks were back at it. This time with things like the whole thing was a work and done to boost ratings. This baffles me immensely. So some think Vince is dumb enough to come up with a cancer angle to boost ratings and help make Roman a major babyface? Just think about that for one second…..

WWE who are so proud to work with foundations like the Children’s Make A Wish Foundation and the Susan G Komen For The Cure Foundation, would never come up with the elaborate scheme to do a cancer angel for ratings and to boost the popularity of a star. Vince has done and will continue to do some silly angles but this is one that wouldn’t even cross his mind.

To attack WWE and Roman thinking this is a possibility just proves some people just are not human. Roman fought leukemia 11 years ago which was unbeknownst to us all. WWE could have walked away and not given him the chance when it came time to sign Reigns. Instead they got behind the man and gave him a chance. The disease came back but they did what they could and that is support him to the fullest. After it went into remission, Roman could have easily said he was done and stayed home to be with his wife and his kids. Money surely isn’t a issue here so he could have walked away from the sport. Instead he came back to us all as quick as possible. Whether people cheer or boo him isn’t what made him come back. It was the overall business that made him come back. It was us fans who stood by him through the good times and the bad times. He is back to continue to win over even his harshest critics out there. And trust me, he will.

Some have stated those loud cheers he received will eventually turn back to boos, well so what if they do. There is no need to even think that way. We have a tendency to go to the negative side of things quite often but I am hoping with this fans realize Roman Reigns is really Joe Anoa’i and is a human being. Like I said, he could be at home with his family but instead he wants to spend his time with us fans and we need to show him that we appreciate this all. We need to do better at looking at the positives first before coming up with anything negative to say.

Roman, we are all glad you are back and we will continue to stand along side of you, through the good and the bad. We are thankful for all you have done and will continue to do. We support you to the fullest. 

The Big Dog is back. Believe that.

Nick Whitworth

Four Ways to Fix WWE’s Over-Saturation Problem (And Why They Won’t)

It’s no secret that there’s a big over-saturation problem within the wrestling world. That starts with the WWE. Let’s take Royal Rumble weekend for example, you have Takeover, the Rumble, Raw, SmackDown, 205 Live, NXT, and NXT UK. What normal working adult has time to watch that? God forbid you’re a fan of other wrestling promotions as well, then you have Impact on Thursdays, NJPW on Fridays, and – in my area – ROH on Saturday and Sunday. The advent of social media and fans wanting to consume as much content as possible are a few factors that has led to this, but that’s hardly the main reason. The easy thing to do is say “well, then don’t watch it all” but, that isn’t going to happen because as fans, we have zero chill when it comes to wrestling content. So let’s pretend that it’s up to the WWE to fix this issue themselves. Here are four ways they could do it, even though they won’t

Have Less PPV’s

List of 2018 WWE PPV Events

In my opinion, the reason NXT Takeovers are so successful and so widely regarded as better than whichever WWE event they’re sharing a weekend with is because they only have five of them a year. They spend all that time in between building stories, creating new rivalries, and introducing new talent into the title pictures. In 2018, counting the two Saudi Arabia events and the Super Show-Down in Melbourne, there were 15 WWE PPV events. Between April 8th (WrestleMania) and May 6th, there were four. It was similar in the fall when there were three such events in a three-week period. How can we as fans be expected to get invested in story lines that are only built for a week or two? I know that some of these matches were continuations of rivalries, but that’s not the case with all of them. I’m not suggesting the WWE should go to five PPV events like NXT does, and I’m not suggesting they should stop the WWE Network Specials they’ve been holding outside North America – I’m also not getting into the Saudi controversy here – but I think it’s realistic to cut such events down to 10 or so a year. Cutting these down would give them time to build longer, more meaningful stories that the performers could actually sink their teeth into and get the audience invested. Too many feuds are rushed these days. This would make big matches mean more, and championship matches mean even more than they do now. Less big title matches makes each one seem more special. To see proof of that look no further than Brock Lesnar. Sure, we’re all tired of him having the championship while being a part time wrestler, but tell me you’re not seriously invested when the Universal Title is on the line. I think one time of the year they should focus most on cutting down special events is WrestleMania season. The Fastlane is approaching us on March 10th and I can’t help but think, “is it really even necessary?” In my opinion, it’s not. If the reasons I’ve mentioned above haven’t been reason enough then here’s one more. You’re risking more injuries by having more events this close to Mania. Sure, you could book it so the performers are working safer and taking less risk, but if you have to do that then is it worth even having the show? I would much rather see them focus on building the major stories for Mania rather than hotshot the Fastlane feuds with little to no build.

Why They Won’t Do It: Of my four options, this is probably the one most likely to actually get changed. However, I don’t envision on the number of events decreasing much from where it’s at now. The reason for this is simply because the majority of their audience is in North America. So to take the most advantage of that they’ll continue to do a PPV event at least once a month in America or Canada. Add in how much money they’re making off the events held outside of the country and it’s almost a guarantee this trend will continue.

No More Four-Day Mega Weekends

That’s a Lot of Wrasslin’

Last year during WrestleMania weekend there was roughly 15 hours of WWE content in four days. It took me a long time to make that weekend up to my wife. As much as I love wrestling, that’s just too much. How many of you were completely burnt out by the time Raw came on Monday night? Let alone SmackDown the next day. Now, I’m well aware that this isn’t something that WWE is going to change. My point is just that there is no more evidence throughout the year that the product is over-saturated than during these weekends. How people attend all four shows in a row is beyond me. I commend you, because you must be a much bigger fan than I am. So, what is the solution? Remember earlier when I suggested knocking the WWE PPVs down to around 10 a year instead of 15? Well, that opens up 5 spots for NXT TakeOvers to be held. You have the Takeover on Saturday, a break, then continue your regularly scheduled programming. WWE still gets it’s one special event per month and with a fresher product. Everyone wins!

Why They Won’t Do It: It makes too much sense logistically for them to do it this way. At least three of the four nights, the events are held in the same building. So that means once TakeOver is finished you have three days in a row with minimal changes needed to be done to the set. No unloading and reloading all the equipment, tearing down the ring, and everything else that goes into making these goes happen. That alone is a money saver and probably why they went with this in the first place. Everything boils down to money.

Don’t Use All Their Stars Year Around (On TV)

This one could get a little tricky, but I truly think it’s a good idea. There is such an excess of talent currently sign to WWE that they have plenty of room to lighten some of the talents schedules. Think about it, why do acts become stale? To me, the answer is overexposure. Watching the same guy run the top of the card for a year (or years in some cases) can get real old. We’ve seen that with John Cena and more recently Roman Reigns. I’m a fan of both of those guys but even I can see why people get tired of seeing them. Having what would basically be seasons for certain stars would result in them staying healthier, both physically and mentally (most wrestlers will tell you the hardest part of the job is the travel). It would also create fresher feuds and match-ups as the wrestlers “off” times would be interchangeable. When there is an injury, you can pick from a bag of fresh talent to come back and take that persons spot. This also gives wrestlers opportunity to grow their brand. The amount of talent underutilized is astounding right now and this would be a good way to give more people the opportunity to grab that brass ring VKM speaks so fondly of.

Why They Won’t Do It: Merchandise sales. Having your stars off TV for extended periods of time is going to put a dent in the amount of merch they move. You could say, well keep your biggest stars on TV all the time and cycle the rest out, but that’s really no different than what they do now.

Have Shorter Shows

Example of How the Ratings Dip in the Third Hour

This has been a complaint by fans and people involved in the wrestling business alike for a long time now. The three-hour Raw format has really got to go. It’s too long and often that third hour drags something awful. Of course, you could just watch it on Hulu in half the time, but you’ll miss stuff. Monday Night Raw isn’t the biggest culprit though. I touched on it a little above, but at some point the “big four” PPVs started becoming longer and longer. It wasn’t that long ago that every PPV was three, maybe three and a half hours long and that’s it. Now we’re getting shows lasting at least four hours, with the major ones going – including the pre-show – close to six and seven hours. How, especially as a live audience, can you stay invested in a six hour show? Not to mention most of us have to get up for work the next morning. I believe the last several WrestleMania main events have suffered hard because by the time it starts the audience has been sitting there for six hours. Yes, I know the Roman Reigns haters don’t help in that regard either. I don’t know what the answer is, because if they slim the shows down we’ll probably complain about matches not getting enough time. We’re real good at complaining about things.

Why The Won’t Do It: They have too many people on their roster. Of course if they took my previous suggestion it wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but I digress. They want to feature every wrestler possible at the granddaddy of them all, and I get it. These superstars have worked their asses off all year long and they deserve it. That’s not the biggest reason though. Usually when trying to figure out why a company does something a certain way, look no further than money. Raw will remain three hours as long as the USA Network wants it to remain three hours. There isn’t a single thing we can do about that. Honestly, what could WWE do about it? Turn down their money? That’s not how business is done.

Just for Fun: Casting The Hulk Hogan BioPic

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    So Chris Hemsworth is going to play Hulk Hogan in a BioPic produced by Netflix. Those are three names I NEVER thought would be associated with one another, other than maybe: “Did ya hear? Disney is taking back all of their Marvel films off of Netflix, so no more Chris Hemsworth on Netflix. Also, Netflix purchased all the rights to Hulk Hogan’s Thunder in Paradise trilogy… and the series.”

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Get on it Netflix.

    Anyway, the first question I found myself asking was “who is going to play Macho Man Randy Savage?!” And that will definitely be a hard role to cast; it would require someone intense and over the top but also damn charming at times. 

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The Macho Man is the tower of power, too sweet to be sour, loves sunsets and the smell of a flower.

   It turns out Bradly Cooper was scheduled to play Vince McMahon in his BioPic, until it got delayed for whatever reason.

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Fair enough.

Although, it’s separate projects, I thought it would be a cool idea for the WWE to start their own cinematic universe and use the same actors for the same characters as they retell the rise of pro-wrestling and the people who had a hand in it. With that in mind, I decided to cast, who I think are, important roles in the Hulk Hogan movie. These are my picks!

Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake

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    Huh, reading that name out loud you wouldn’t guess “the Barber” would be the name in quotations. Anywho, Ol’ BEEFCAKE was one of Hulk Hogan’s closest friends as they both started the biz at the same time and even followed him to WCW during the NWO days. Hogan helped Brutus reinvent himself, after kayfabe getting rid of his bestie, Brutus returned as a silent biker called the Disciple. 

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    David Harbour looks like the kind of guy who would have fun portraying a Pro Wrestler. He has the range that could pull off big and crazy, or intense. He also has great comedic timing, which depending on the take they give the movie, may come in handy. 

Andre the Giant

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  This big lovable Giant played a big role in helping Hulk Hogan gain national notoriety. Those who’ve seen his HBO Doc know the struggling life Andre lead, so someone would have to be able to portray him as in pain but charming about it. 

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   Sadly, there isn’t many actors who could truly pull off the look in terms body type but thankfully, Paul White aka The Big Show, not only has the stature for the role but also has experience with acting in feature films. 

Scott Hall

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    The BAD GUY! Gotta admit this guy is one of the sleaziest looking guys in wrestling but boy was he good at it! Made it look fun, too! CoCreator of the NWO, he, and fellow Outsider, Kevin Nash were integral to the wrestling revolution that Hogan was a part of in the mid to late 90’s. 

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    Survey Says!: Cheyenne Jackson! Saw this guy on American Horror Story and even though he was a protagonist in the story, he still came off as sleazy. THATS the kind of Natural you need playing Scott Hall! Get him to grow that permanent 5 o’clock shadow Scott Hall had and BAM! One half of the Outsiders.  

    

Kevin Nash 

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   This guy is the epitome of aloof. The other half of the Outsiders and another 7’ giant, this guy oozes too cool for school vibes. His imposing size made him constant main event material even though he wasn’t always in the main event picture. 

  
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   This dude has been showing up in movies and tv since 2002’s Spider-Man. Almost as tall as Nash, for sure taller than Hemsworth,  Joe Manganiello has the look and (again) comedic timing that playing someone like Kevin Nash would require. Also, they worked together on the Magic Mike movies. So there’s that. 

Ms Elizabeth 

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   Ms. Elizabeth was Macho Man Randy Savage’s manager, and one time wife, not only in the WWF but in the WCW/NWO days as well. She, more often than not, played the damsel in distress in programs which might date the story a bit. But she played a major role in the eventual kayfabe and real life split between Savage and Hogan. 

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   For Ms. Elizabeth you would have to go with someone who could do both damsel in distress and rough around the edges. Which is why Rashida Jones could get the job done. Her sweet and caring performance in Parks and Rec would perfectly portray the Ms Elizabeth we all want to remember her as. And Jones could pull off the slightly colder version of her while in the NWO days. 

Macho Man Randy Savage 
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    One of the most important roles in Hogan’s Story, if only because the two became synonymous with each other. Hogan and Macho Man, Macho Man and Hogan. The two most charismatic performers of their time… possibly of all time! Watch any WWF promo Macho Man did and then watch his Arsenio Hall interview and that’s the guy that we all expect to show up in the film. 

   I had a few picks for Macho Man, but none of them felt right. Then, I came across this gentlemen with a beard: 

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   Jon Hamm! Who would have thunk?! Turns out he’s the same height, too. Aaand, if he bulks up for this Role, as would be mandatory, he would also be in the running for a new Batman! 

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BatHamm In GotHamm?!

   He’s another actor, like most on this list, that can do both serious and comedic roles. Imagine the improv scenes between Hemsworth and Hamm as they form the Mega Powers?! 

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EPIC

    So those are my picks! Let me know what you think in the comments below, or let me know who you would like to see in these roles! Contact me through twitter: @spanish_saint27 or on Instagram @jrsantosesquivel