Saturday, January 7, 2012

Wrestling Roundtable: Royal Rumble, Lesnar to WWE, and More!

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Sharp Shooter Press Wrestling Roundtable! In this new series, Sharp Shooter Press will seek out various writers online and they will reply to some of the hot topics in wrestling today! You will here several opinions based on many diverse perspectives and observations of wrestling and be able to post your feedback on the topics as well in the comments section.

Today, we have brought in former wrestling writer, Ashley Morris, "HeelRize," as well as Sid from the newly relaunched, Enigmatic Generation of Wrestling website. All of which have responded to the same three questions, to share with the Sharp Shooter Press fanbase. I, too joined in on the fun here, by responding to the questions, myself. Feel free to leave comments and chat away. Be sure to follow all three men on Twitter and check out Enigmatic Generation of Wrestling.

1. With the Royal Rumble taking place at the end of the month, who do you feel as though is most likely to win this year's Royal Rumble match up and why? What do you feel will be the most likely scenario for the Rumble this year in St. Louis and your expectations of the match itself, compared to previous years? 

Ashley Morris: The Royal Rumble is such a HUGE match that I typically never take guesses at who's the odds on favorite to win, especially seeing as there's a 1 out of 30 chance that I'll be "right" and rarely do people ever like to be "wrong."  However in this instance (seeing I was asked), I'll say that I feel Sheamus has a good chance of being this year's winner.

I don't have any expectations for this Pay Per View, as the WWE hasn't really done much to hype it up or make it seem like a big deal.  With it being a month away, the only thing I expect and silently hope for is for the match itself to be given some modicum of importance that it had years ago when I started watching pro wrestling.  Other than that, I expect the match to be the same as it has been for the past few years: a bunch of wrestlers get in the ring, get thrown out of the ring, and the last one standing inside of said ring becomes the winner and gets to have a top tier match at WrestleMania 28.  However, with Cena facing the Rock, another "Streak vs. Wrestler" match involving the Undertaker, and one other heavyweight championship match, whoever wins the Royal Rumble could turn out to be a lame duck winner of sorts.

Sid: I'm rooting for Sheamus to win the Royal Rumble. The Great White should win the Rumble not because he has nothing to do, but rather as he could really have a great main event match with the world champion at that time, who could probably be Bryan/Orton.

To be honest, the Royal Rumble of 2011 was not so great, as we wanted it to be. A few memorable returns and a shocker was all there is to be remembered about this Rumble. So, I definitely hope the notion changes this time. Rumble is all about fun, so I hope it is a fun-filled match with awe-inspiring moments. I'd like it if RVD/Samoa Joe return, but that's beyond possible. But, Brock Lesnar does seem possible and if he would return, he will be the Rumble winner.  Add Jericho and Clay to the mix and you've got your returns.
The scenario I'd like would be if Sheamus comes in at 27, and eliminates Ezekiel, Drew and Mahal in the ring. Out comes Barrett at 28, and faces Sheamus one-on-one. Both go back-and-forth until Jericho comes out at 29 and eliminates Barrett!  Sheamus still survives, and then at no 30, Lesnar comes out, who eliminates Jericho, but Sheamus eliminates him. Thus, Sheamus wins.

HeelRize:  Who do I feel is most likely to win the Royal Rumble match? The answer is simple my friend, the hometown hero himself, Randy Orton. You see, this “injury” angle the WWE has concocted with Randy Orton and Wade Barrett is easily a work.  It was done to give Orton some much needed time off while it gets heat on Barrett as a heel. Unfortunately, the Viper will make his “triumphant” return and win the Rumble. Then he’ll go on to win the World Title in some mid card match at Mania. Yay

Rallo: The thing I like about this year's Royal Rumble match up is that there is no clear cut winner for the match, unlike the previous years where we all had some inclination that Edge would win in 2009 and Alberto Del Rio would win in 2010. However, what I do not like this year is that none of the entrants seem all that interesting as WrestleMania world title contenders. Of course, with Rock vs Cena and Triple H vs Undertaker seemingly on the horizon as it is, WWE does not need the winner of this year's Rumble to take all of the pressure in building an awesome WrestleMania match like previous years. While many can speculate about the likes of surprise returns winning or make up some crazy other scenario, I ultimately feel as though Randy Orton will find a way to win in his hometown of St. Louis. Many can question if he is the right choice, but many other options just do not make sense. Barrett is not getting heat and Sheamus just hasn't been intriguing enough to get such a push this early in the year. Orton doesn't need to kill himself in the ring, can enter late, and not risk any further injury in the Rumble match up. Some may dislike it, but Randy Orton is most likely to win this bout. I'm not as amped for the match as I have been in previous years, but I see Orton clearly in the world title hunt at WrestleMania 28.

2. As 2011 has officially come to a close and we are in the first month of 2011, we saw the emergence of the likes of Mark Henry and CM Punk. This year, besides the three deemed next future world champions of Wade Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, and Cody Rhodes, who do you expect to have a breakout year in 2012? Who do you feel will be the surprise story, like we saw in Mark Henry and how far will they go in 2012? 

Ashley Morris: Many feel that Drew McIntyre will be the break out star of 2012, but I would also like to submit Seth Rollins (Tyler Black) and Dean Ambrose (Jon Moxley) as two candidates for having a potentially blockbuster year in the WWE.  Both of these men made HUGE strides in the independent circuits and had quite the memorable feud in FCW.  They've recently had dark matches, and Rollins particularly had a Daniel Bryan-esque match that some said "tore down the house."  I expect both of these men to debut in 2012 and excite the WWE with their craft.

I may be in the minority, but I feel like Alberto Del Rio will be the surprise story this year.  If the company recognizes that he's not getting over with the fans as well as they expected, time off from his injury gives him and the company ample time to look at his character and discuss ways he can draw the attention they need him to.  Sad to say, but it took Smackdown and Rey Mysterio to make Del Rio watchable.  Perhaps the WWE will take heed to this and match Del Rio with a star that more like a threat and less like a bore.

Sid:  I have no idea why, but my gut tells me that 2012 is the year of Kofi Kingston. Kofi works harder than most of us, and getting punished just because his tag team partner was at fault, is injustice. He has the look, has above average mic skills, and can certainly go in the ring. He just needs a perfect gimmick though, like Rhodes. Rhodes was faltering at the mid-card level, before he got the "Dashing" gimmick. The same needs to be done with Kofi. Give him a gimmick fans can relate to, give him material due to which he could get over, and bingo, you got your next star.I can't guarantee you that he will become champion, but I can certainly say that he could be a major player in 212, and could focus on the World title in '13.

The surprise story, in my opinion, be Dustin Rhodes. It pains me to say that, but I feel that Dustin could do something, other than block people. Jokes aside, Dustin is already shaping up for a feud with his brother Cody, and he might as well be the next "Mark Henry" of 2012. He could lose to Cody, and then say that the Intercontinental title is not worth his caliber, and he is on the World title scene. Cody could then drop the title and could be world champ around July, and Dustin could feud with him again for the WHC, and Dustin's your next "feel-good" push.

HeelRize:  Kofi Kingston. While it’s dim at this moment, I expect Kofi Kingston to break out in 2012 through a heel turn after the inevitable split from Evan Bourne. Now that Bourne has “heat” due to his outspoken nature, it’s obvious that he’ll be punished for alluding to the wellness violation of R-Truth. Logically, Air Boom will drop the tag titles and starting a feud that’ll show a side of Kingston we have yet to see. Kofi is underrated on the microphone and possesses the natural charisma to get crowds to cheer/boo for him so I don’t think the transition will be difficult. Heed my words; Kofi Kingston is going to become a big deal in 2012.

Rallo: While there will be NO push like Punk's in 2011, I feel as though we will see plenty of stars taking a big step up in 2012. Looking throughout the roster, you have to look at Kofi Kingston and Alex Riley as early candidates. Disregarding Brodus Clay, because when he debuts, we all know it will be a massive push of course. Kingston will, at some point turn on Evan Bourne to end the existence of Air Boom and Alex Riley is just too over with the crowd to be on Superstars for much longer. We all saw from 2009, that Kingston has what it takes to hang with the big boys and regardless of what people think of Riley, he's not a slouch nor is he a ring general. Riley is over with the crowd and can work Miz-esque matches. Kingston is also able to do very well on the mic and in the ring, thus making him a legitimate candidate for a push in 2012. While I don't see stories like Punk or Henry, some stars I feel will take a big step up.

3. One of the other major stories in the wrestling industry today is Brock Lesnar's retirement from UFC that took place after his loss to Overeem via TKO in the first round at UFC 140. Since then, rumors have swirled constantly in regards to Lesnar's return to WWE, and Dana White has even admitted he would permit Lesnar to seek out a return. With it being obvious that Lesnar will not be back for the foreseeable future, presumably in 2013, who do you feel would be Lesnar's ideal opponent in a possible WrestleMania match? What would be a scenario you see as possible and probable for the return of one of the biggest names in the wrestling industry in the early 2000s?

Ashley Morris: I don't understand how Dana White could "permit" Lesnar to "seek out a return" if Lesnar has retired from the UFC.  To me that sounds like opting out of a contract, ending a relationship.  Exactly what power does Dana White hold over his stars...?  Having said that, if Lesnar returned to the WWE and ideal opponent for him would be John Cena.  The two have already had a storied history, and Cena's signature finisher "The Attitude Adjustment" was originally created to mock Lesnar's finisher, The F5.  I think that would be the best for both men, giving Lesnar instant appeal and support for the Cena Detractors, while the Cena Supporters would rally behind their hero knowing that it'd be a big challenge they hope he'll be able to overcome.

It I had Mr. McMahon's wallet, I'd place Cena back at the top of the ladder with the WWE Championship.  He'd cut his  typical the-Champ-is-here promo, talk about how it took him awhile to get the title back, and how he's proven he's the best in the company, challenging anyone to come get some if they want some.  Lesnar's old music would hit, and out would stroll Lesnar.  Classic in-ring stare down similar to Triple H-Undertaker, and from there have Brock wrestle his way to earn the right to face Cena for the title.

Sid: This is going to be short and sweet, it has to be none other than Stone Cold. Now, I get that he can't compete, he has a neck injury, and if he could compete, CM Punk would be his likely opponent, but the fact that Brock and Cold actually have bad blood, unlike Punk and Cold. This could be a perfect set-up, with Lesnar returning at the Rumble, losing it, then says that he wants to fight Stone Cold, and he wants it bad.
Steve, being the man that he is, accepts the challenge. There you go. Promos between them would be solid, and I hope the action is too. This is how I'd predict Brock's return.

HeelRize:   First of all, I’m not exactly sold on this MMA retirement just yet. What we have to understand is that Dana White was obviously intoxicated when he made that statement. We’ll have to await his true answer as he does hold the key to Brock’s MMA departure and WWE return.  Anyway, I don’t think Brock Lesnar should even be considered for a WrestleMania match with Undertaker. Brock’s obviously doing a one off deal if he was return and I don’t see the logic behind him facing Taker as I don’t think he’d want to do the job. On the other hand, John Cena, Randy Orton, and even CM Punk are available.  He could easily enter a feud with Cena seeing as how John picked up the ball when he left. With all things considered, I don’t want to see Brock at Mania unless he’s returning full time or he plans on putting someone over.

Rallo:  Although intoxicated in his interview, I am very confident White would allow Lesnar to seek out endeavors in the world of sports entertainment. The fact of the matter is that Lesnar is not interested right now and he will not be back until at earliest, the fourth quarter of 2012. When he is interested, he'll return in a presumed one day payoff, such as WrestleMania. As for a key opponent, you'd have to think Lesnar will go in some type of marquee match, but I don't expect it to be with Undertaker or Austin, as both are too limited in the ring at this point. I could see John Cena, CM Punk, or someone of that degree taking on Lesnar, to ultimately take a loss. With Lesnar's ego, I don't expect him to lose in his final bout and pitting him up against an established name will not hurt either participant in the bout.

4. Another hot topic I'd like to discuss is the returns of the likes of Triple H, Chris Jericho, Undertaker, and others for WrestleMania time, I'd like to ask of your opinions on WWE's idea of bringing back all these big names as they seem to do each year. Do you feel as though it is a good idea to bring these names back, or does it seem to be a testament to the lack of confidence WWE has in their talent that wrestle for the rest of the calendar year? Is it right to bring all these names back and give them the limelight or should the Jerichos and Undertakers of the wrestling industry allow the young guns to be given the spotlight on the big stage? 

Ashley Morris: The goal of any for-profit business is to make money; the WWE is definitely out for profits, and big money comes in from fans who love to see stars they grew up on.  Therefore it makes perfect business sense to bring these types of stars in to hype the biggest pay per view of the year.  I don't think it's a lack of confidence in the talent that wrestles for the rest of the year, but it seems like a fail proof way to boost the drawing power of these other talents.  We assume that because a young talent is "good" that others would feel the same way we would about that particular star.  The reality is that stars like Taker, Trips, and Jericho have proven to be big draws and can bring in money just by having their names on the marquee, and more often than not our favorite stars have not yet risen to the level where they can sell out a show without even wrestling.

Having said that, the best thing for established stars to do is to wrestle in matches that put over the young gun.  Even in defeat (as with the Undertaker), a young gun can look like gold when placed with a star that is willing to make them look like so (i.e. Booker T/Cody Rhodes).  You take these established names off of the WWE's biggest show of the year, and the buyrates would drop faster than Jerry Lawler's jaw at a Miss Teen USA Contest.

I must also note that just because a young gun has the spotlight at the big stage doesn't necessarily mean they'll actually put on a memorable match that makes the show worthwhile.  Miz's victory against the unbeatable John Cena was definitely overshadowed by Taker and Trips' match, and in the many years he's been with the company, Trips has still yet to have a career defining WrestleMania moment.  Let's not assume that because we think a young gun is ready to carry the ball that he/she actually is.

Sid: Wrestlemania is supposed to be the biggest show of the year. Thus, Vince wants to sell most, if not all, the tickets he can sell to generate mass interest and ratings. That is exactly why I don't find bringing back stars futile. I don't exactly consider it a "stealing the limelight" move, but rather than "increasing star-power" move.
Let's rewind to last year's Wrestlemania, stars like Undertaker, HHH and The Rock were involved. This didn't exactly steal the limelight, it just generated mass ratings. Besides, stars like Cody Rhodes got their matches which defined their careers.We, as IWC, would love the idea of Daniel Bryan competing against Seth Rollins for the World title at Wrestlemania, but look at the casual fan. Would he be interested in a wrestling match of this prestige? A casual fan wants entertainment, and certainly star-power. I hate to break this to you, but Randy Orton vs John Cena would garner more interest than Bryan vs Rollins.
Thus, I don't see the returning stars as a bane, but rather as a brilliant idea by Vince McMahon.

HeelRizeI think it’s positive and negative to some extent. First of all, they’re giving the spotlight to guys that are past their prime and won’t carry the WWE into the next generation. This could easily cause the superstars that spend 300 days on the road to question how much the WWE values them. However, if these stars returned to put over the younger guys, I don’t see it as a problem.  They have to pass the torch to the young guns at some point and WrestleMania is definitely the best place to do so.

Rallo: When it comes to WrestleMania, I'm all for The Rock coming back for a big return or someone such as Shaq or Floyd Mayweather having the "celebrity" match, but what I am against is building your main card around big names such as Jericho or Triple H, if they are not around to stay for the foreseeable future afterward. When seeing guys like Daniel Bryan and Sheamus being screwed over for ridiculous segments and matches that are overdone and have no purpose is upsetting. Why should they be nudged for a guy that is in it for one last paycheck? I understand the necessity to make profits, but shouldn't WWE be creating talent in a similar fashion to how they booked Austin, Rock, JBL, Batista, and Jericho all before? Shouldn't we be invested in Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and the future of this generation like we were in the past? I'm not saying cut all these veterans completely, but let's give something more to the wrestlers who have been working the past 365 days who could use the money. We can't fit everyone on the card, but booking a show around so many guys who are in it for the short term, similar to WrestleMania 26, then we have a problem. WWE needs to invest in their future and let go of all their faith in the past because they will not have these resources for much longer. Austin only has so many matches, Rock's interest in WWE is inconsistent, JBL and Batista aren't interested in the programming. It's time to take the men and women on the roster and molding them into what the public wants to see. As of now, Orton, Cena, and Punk are WWE's only true resources an that is a problem.

We hope you enjoyed the first edition of the roundtable and be sure to tune in soon for the next edition! If interested in participating, hit me up on Twitter! Until next time, have a good one!