Of course, Wrestlemania weekend, whether WWE likes it or not, has evolved into wrestling Woodstock. There are a ton of live wrestling events, movie screenings, autograph signings, gatherings and just about everything else you can think of taking place over the next week.
It's going to be insane. Don't believe me? Read on.
The Ultimate Warrior with a live mic.
The last few years, the WWE Hall of Fame has sort of evolved into a therapeutic way for estranged members of the WWE family to return to the fold and have all of their past anger, anguish, allegations and burials "forgotten" in favor of celebrating their career...and the paychecks that come alongside the WWE Hall of Fame ring.
Even with Bruno Sammartino returning last year, the most interesting name is Warrior. Undoubtedly one of the most charismatic and unique performers in the company's history, he's also had a number of bloody legal battles with WWE in the past, the most recent not even a decade ago.
This week, all is forgiven on both sides, at least publicly. WWE released a Warrior DVD set that opens with Warrior telling his fans that after "they" tried to re-write history, NOW you get the full story. With that short admission and reference, the past issues were quietly put to bed.
Now, WWE hands Warrior a live microphone, on their own Network no less, to discuss his career and be celebrated - in front of some of the same alumni from his era that have outright buried him, and some (Hulk Hogan) that he's spoken some pretty nasty things about.
Is Warrior going to make nice and talk about all the good things in his career? Is he going to go off on one of his patented rants, knowing he's got the spotlight? No one knows for sure and well, that certainly has everyone's interest.
Hulk Hogan Back at Wrestlemania
As I wrote a few months ago, returning to WWE and appearing at Wrestlemania 30 was the best move for Hogan to make as a spiritual end to his career and for financial reasons. He and TNA never, ever clicked and if anyone says otherwise, they are playing ostrich.
By having Hogan as the guest host of Wrestlemania, WWE gives him a reason to return in front of the crowd for the first time since Wrestlemania 21 and also pay tribute to Andre the Giant, helping create a bridge to those lapsed fans they hoped signed up for the Network to relive the good old days and the audience of today.
Whether he says his prayers, takes his vitamins, Hulks up or just raises the arm of the Battle Royal winner, Hogan comes home Sunday, in a way that he hasn't yet. Hogan didn't put Monday Night Raw on the map. He did, however, put Wrestlemania there.
The management of Wrestlecon may have been the smartest out of everyone running Wrestlemania weekend, booking their convention gathering ACROSS THE STREET from Wrestlemania AXXESS, making it easy for fans to go back and forth if they so desire (Wrestlecon will allow re-entry if you leave, AXXESS will not - let's get that clear) and with names like Roddy Piper, Edge, Bill Goldberg, Mickie James, Team 3D, Tommy Dreamer and a whole cast of others appearing - for Wrestlecon and not for WWE - you can be guaranteed a strong attendance.
Add in that attendance also gets you free admission into a Goldberg Q&A, an insanely fun lineup of wrestling action (Jeff Jarrett vs. Colt Cabana? Kevin Steen vs. Masato Tanaka? CZW Ultraviolence? Sign me up!), a $5 Wrestling comedy event after the WWE HOF and more and you've got a great deal.
Plus, other than Wrestlemania AXXESS, Wrestlecon is the only event going down Wrestlemania Sunday. So, where else you gonna go? Visit www.Wrestlecon.com for more.
The True ROH Champion Will Be Determined
On Friday, ROH will present its fifth-ever Ladder War as the current ROH champion Adam Cole faces former champ Jay Briscoe (who is still running around with a self-made belt claiming he is the champ - after all, he was stripped due to injury) to determine once and for all, who the real champion is.
The ROH booking is sometimes overlooked these days since Hunter Johnston isn't one to push himself and his ideals to the media and online fans, but the story here has dated back to last summer when Briscoe "took time off due to injury", setting the stage for a tournament and his legitimate reasons to be pissed off he's no longer champion. Meanwhile, Cole fought his way through the tournament and then KO'd Briscoe after he was, begrudgingly, handed the title belt.
This story will climax on Friday - not on TV, not on iPPV but before a crowd that will watch it live in New Orleans. It's a bout fitting the main event of the company's annual "Supercard of Honor."
Time for A New Breed
Whether it’s The Wyatt Family, The Shield, Cesaro or a slew of other hard working WWE talents, one gets the feeling that something is going to break loose soon. It feels like we may be on the cusp of a lot of younger, vibrant players breaking out and being the next generation of top names and draws for WWE.
The Shield vs. The Wyatts at the Elimination Chamber was proof of that. The audience wanted to see them as much as anyone on the show, chanting “This is awesome” before they even locked up – then the match lived up to the hype.
The work from a lot of the WWE roster has been a joy to watch of late. From Big E. to Dolph Ziggler and back again, there are a lot of underrated talents who need to grab their moment and make it work for them and Wrestlemania may be that place.
If all of these guys, or even some of these guys, click at the same time, we could be looking at a hell of a run in the weeks and months and years to come. Wrestlemania is the biggest showcase they have, so it’s time to see who mans up and who gets lost in the shuffle.
Game time, boys.
DGUSA, fighting themselves out of a corner
Over the weekend, Dragon Gate USA publically announced that none of the Japanese talents would be making their way to the States for the biggest show of the year. It was a really awful break for the company but something one had to see coming on the horizon – it’s not like DGUSA to hold out on promoting their major matches.
DGUSA has been super apologetic online to angry fans and now walk into the weekend having to really prove themselves in an already cluttered marketplace. The good news is that the American side of the roster – Ricochet, Johnny Gargano, Tony Nese, Rich Swann, Trent Baretta, The Bravados, etc. – are all among the most talented locker room out there today and routinely have kickass shows that unfortunately don’t get the buzz they often deserve.
This weekend, if the history of Gabe Sapolsky as a booker is any indication, there’s going to be a lot of insane wrestling going on at the DGUSA and EVOLVE events as a way to make it up the audience and if I am guessing correctly, the Paul Heyman disciple will have a few surprises as well. After all, when the audience’s expectations are lowest – that’s when you have the best chance to really blow them away. For more, visit www.DGUSA.tv.
The Daniel Bryan Madness Hits It’s Peak aka CM Punk’s legacy
When CM Punk won the WWE title in 2011, he wanted change. Little did anyone realize that he was going to have to walk out of WWE to bring it.
When 2014 rolled around, Daniel Bryan was going to be wrestling Sheamus at Wrestlemania. His run on top was over. John Cena was back and he was seen as a good worker and a good hand but not the top guy.
Then, CM Punk walked out….and the fans went nuts at the Royal Rumble when Batista was pushed. Bryan was moved into the Punk role of facing HHH and suddenly, what felt like a “been there, done that” Wrestlemania was no energized by Daniel Bryan being in the main event picture.
If there was ever a Cinderella story in pro wrestling, this is it. Bryan may be one of the best inside the ring but he’s not the biggest. Fans don’t care. He may not look like the toughest guy in the fight. Fans don’t care. He may not fit the mold of what a “A+ WWE star” is supposed to be. Fans don’t care.
They are about him because he’s been, for years, one of the nicest, most hard working professional wrestlers on the planet. He’s the guy that was good enough to be there but never good enough to be given a chance – the fans forced WWE’s hand…and so did CM Punk.
On Sunday. Daniel Bryan steps into history. Give yourselves a round of applause, tip your hat to CM Punk and enjoy the ride.
Mid-South Legends Reunite
Before it becomes home to Wrestlemania, The Super Dome was home to some of the biggest Mid-South Wrestling events when Louisiana and the surrounding territory was owned and promoted by Bill Watts.
On Friday, Watts and a slew of his old stars come home, including Cowboy Bill Watts, Jim Cornette, The Midnight Express' Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey & Bill Dundee, The Fantastics, The Rock N' Roll Express, “Mr. Olympia” Jerry Stubbs, Mr. Wrestling II, Luke Williams, Porkchop Cash, Kamala, Dark Journey and more.
The full day’s worth of activities include Q&As, live wrestling from Traditional Championship Wrestling, breakfast and dinners with the stars, signings, photo sessions and tons more. It’s enough for any old school fan that misses the good old days of JYD and company to smile and re-live what used to be (and for many, was that best time ever) and immerse yourself in something you loved.
You can’t always turn back the hands of time, but you can certainly celebrate what once was and the Mid-South Legends Fanfest will allow you to do that. For more, visit www.MidSouthLegends.com.
The Streak vs. The Beast
They’ve wrestled before but never on the biggest show of the year. Brock Lesnar is an insanely talented beast of a talent. The Undertaker is the last vestige of years gone by, pretty much defending the equivalent of what a traveling NWA World champion would defend – the ability to say you are the man. When it comes to Wrestlemania, the man is the one who owns the streak.
Several years ago when they fought, Undertaker and Lesnar had some incredible, bloody, brutal battles. I am sure the parameters of the battles will change in 2014, but the physicality will not. Undertaker leaves it all at Wrestlemania. Lesnar goes nuts when it comes to brutality and big bumps whenever he is on PPV.
A more perfect setting for this feud, which started at, oddly enough, a UFC event, could not be more perfect.
No matter who you are, you know you want to see this match.
Jeff Jarrett's Big Announcement
Jeff Jarrett will - FINALLY! - make an announcement about his planned new wrestling promotion this coming Monday. Doing it the day after Wrestlemania is really good strategy. There are going to be a lot of eyeballs on the business that day, for sure - but what will be announced? Promotion name? Concept? Network? Debut taping? We don't know and it's up to Jarrett, who has done a really good job at hyping the interest to make sure this is something that maintains that interest, as opposed to making people shrug and roll their eyes. The ball is in your court, Double J.