Friday, November 13, 2015

Off Topic: The End of an Era??

Yes, I already know the title of this is not the most creative in the world, however, going into this post, the "End of an Era" title is the only one that came to mind and in my view, it'll effectively define this post. Normally I would start things with a (somewhat) lengthy intro, but I'm going to do something a little different and head right into the post, if you don't mind!

Yes indeed, I had to go back in time and add a classic Undertaker photo from the early 90s. The Survivor Series PPV (yes I still refer to the shows that way) is celebrating 25 years of Taker in the WWF/E (more on the show later) and I want to talk about him for a bit, the first of 5 sections, if you will. I've followed Taker's career since his debut in 1990 and it's kinda sad that we're slowly but surely closing in on the end of a tremendous career. I remember dressing up as Taker for Halloween in 1993 (or 1994) at a family gathering and saying "rest in peace", complete with the "head bowing motion" at the end! Those were the days. He's also in 3 of my top 10 favorite matches of all time, those being two matches with Shawn Michaels (the first "Hell In A Cell" match from Badd Blood 97 and their match from Wrestlemania 25) and the 1992 Royal Rumble match. Almost two years after the fact, I still feel that his streak should NOT have ended at Wrestlemania 30 (the push that Brock received afterwards could've been done without ending the streak, but that's totally another story) and based on some recent rumors I've seen, the WWE may be planning to do Taker vs. Cena at Wrestlemania 32 next year. How they plan to get there will be interesting because they should've revisited this match years ago. When it's all said and done, he'll definitely go down as one of the top 5 greatest wrestlers in WWE history. More on Taker when I get to the Survivor Series PPV.

MANY things have been said about Vince McMahon, not only since the early 80s, but truly within recent times, specifically that "he's out of touch", "he needs to step down", etc. He has made some smart decisions over the years, as well as mistakes (we all are human), however, I want to focus solely on him "stepping down" and things related. I remember a segment on RAW in 98 when he said something to the effect of either he'll never step down or the only way someone would remove him from power is when he dies. Granted, he may have been in the Mr. McMahon character at the time, but I always remembered that because of how serious he was. I'm sure running the WWE is not an easy task, but I personally feel that no one else is capable of running the business like he has for all these years, and does anyone know how MUCH responsibility there is to run a global company like WWE? It's not a walk in the park as we know. Also, just because he would no longer be the Chairman doesn't automatically mean the company is going to change all that much and be better for it. He may be up there in age, but sometimes experience (and tenure) weighs heavily over youth. I told a friend of mine a few months ago that IF the day came that Vince stepped down, that would mark an end of an era for me in terms of keeping up with the current product. Do I still feel that way? You'll see as this post continues on and that brings me to the next section.


Now, a LOT has been said about this man over the years and I do mean a lot. A few words on Triple H, if I may. Much like Taker, I've followed HHH's career since his debut in mid-1995. In the year 2000, his best year ever in terms of in-ring quality, he was one of my favorite wrestlers, plus two matches he was a part of are in my top 10 (the "Street Fight" against Cactus Jack at the 2000 Royal Rumble and the "3 Stages of Hell" match against Steve Austin from No Way Out 2001). I've often respected him in terms of his mind for the business and for how tough he is, especially when it came to finishing matches when he already suffered a serious injury. In addition to his first quad tear in the May 21, 2001 tag match from RAW with Steve Austin versus Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho, the one I'll always remember is when he suffered a crushed larynx during the first Elimination Chamber match at the 2002 Survivor Series. Man, to suffer that kind of an injury (being in severe pain AND having difficulty breathing) and continuing the match is nothing short of amazing. I would say ever since 2013, I've often read and heard that he's ultimately the heir to the throne if Vince steps down and I continue to shake my head when I read/hear such things. #1, what makes everyone thinks that he's being groomed for the Chairman position? Yes he does a very good job with NXT, but it's SO much more to running an entire company than it is running what is considering by many to be a training facility. #2, did anyone listen to his interview on Jericho's podcast last year where he all but said he didn't feel like he was being groomed to take Vince's place and he said even he doesn't foresee Vince stepping down? I don't think he was working Jericho or the audience quite frankly. #3, I hear on a particular wrestling podcast, seemingly every other week, that he's "running the company". Ok, he may take on more of an active role in certain things, but I can't recall him ever being part of any of the conference calls or anything pertaining to the business side like Vince and others do (nor his wife Stephanie for that matter). #4, I never heard of Jim Ross or John Laurinaitis being "next in line" when they were in key roles as head of Talent Relations, so how did this all of a sudden mean that HHH is the "heir to the proverbial throne"? Your guess is as good as mine. Personally, while I feel he should no longer have a presence on TV, HHH is truly an asset to WWE and will continue to be, but that doesn't mean he's equipped to run everything. Think about that.

Ah, Roman Reigns. Allow me to return to 2014 for a few moments. I liked the way he was booked in the Royal Rumble match that year, I liked him as part of the Shield (the matches they had with the Wyatt Family were largely good), but once they broke up the Shield, I haven't been impressed with Reigns (or the booking of him for that matter) since. Don't get me wrong, he's not actively bad in the ring and there's a certain presence about him that sort of screams "superstar", but from an overall standpoint, I'm simply not impressed. Even though I didn't take this as serious as you may think, giving him the "Superstar of the Year" in 2014 was absurd, considering that he did nothing that year that would warrant receiving such an award, let alone a nomination. And don't get me started on the Rumble match from this year, talk about not being impressive. While watching the show that night, he did almost nothing in that match and the post match activities with The Rock didn't help matters either. His mic skills simply made me shake my head, which can be attributed to WWE Creative more than anything else. It's nothing against the man personally. I'm sure he's a good man behind the scenes, but as far as a wrestler goes, I'm not a fan and as fans, we're all entitled to our opinions aren't we? Before I move on to the final section, I want to say this. Recently, I told the same friend I mentioned during the section about Vince that if they put the WWE title on Reigns at any point, I was going to be done with the product. You know what, I'm not going to allow such a decision to end my following of the current product. I'm already aware that the statement you just read may contradict something I already have in mind in the last section, but work with me here.

And finally, we're at the 2015 Survivor Series, which I will be watching on the WWE Network. Even in the face of fan apathy towards the product, the untimely injury of Seth Rollins, FALLING ratings, etc, part of me is anticipating the show a little, even though a set card isn't in place as of this posting. The tournament to crown a new WWE champion should be interesting to say the very least. Roman Reigns is absolutely a favorite to win, but I'm actually going to go with Cesaro as my pick, which would be different, among other things. After what took place during the 11/9/15 RAW closing segment, it would make no sense to have the Taker & Kane vs. The Wyatts match at this point (the Brothers of Destruction dismantled the family with such ease), plus they clearly showed they don't need two additional partners. If they go through with the match, I feel Taker and Kane still will go over and I'll be surprised with any other result. There will be a Divas title match (Charlotte retains over Paige) and I'm assuming a Tag Team title match pitting the New Day (who should also retain) against the returning Usos. Including the finals of the WWE title tournament, this is only four matches and it remains to be seen what the rest of the card will look like one week away.

In the end, with or without following the current product, I'm always going to be a fan, based solely on the collection of classic material I own and being a WWE Network subscriber since its launch date. The thought came to mind again, and it's a similar thought I had after Shawn Michaels' last match at Wrestlemania 26: once Taker retires, will I follow suit in a manner of speaking? I'm not even sure to be honest with you, and that same answer follows the Vince aspect as well. I think it boils down to me being able to see myself as a fan of the current product without Taker around and WWE without Vince being the Chairman. As with most things related to pro wrestling, we shall see. Thanks for reading!

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