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In a two day stretch, WWE answered a lot of questions about WrestleMania 29, but not all, and even created a new one that could completely shake up the presumed one-on-one rematch from last year’s record-breaking WrestleMania.

While John Cena won the Royal Rumble to earn a shot at the winner of The Rock defending his WWE Title against C.M. Punk at the Elimination Chamber, Punk goaded him into putting that very title shot on the line on Raw. So next Monday, the winner of Cena vs. Punk will face Rock at WM29. It could still be Cena of course, but it also raises the possibility even more of a three-way with Cena vs. Rock vs. Punk. That seems especially likely if Undertaker opts out of wrestling this year due to physical ailments and wear and tear.

Meanwhile, in a big surprise, Jack Swagger, who swooped back onto WWE last week with a new gimmick and a new manager, Zeb Colter, doing a Tea Party “fanatic” gimmick, won the Elimination Chamber match, securing a World Title shot against Albert Del Rio at WrestleMania.

The Shield also gained considerable momentum with two strong performances in a row, both six-man tag victories over what WWE dubbed All-Star tag teams.

This newsletter opens with in-depth Elimination Chamber and Raw coverage including my newsletter-exclusive PPV Report with star ratings and analysis, then newsletter-exclusive Roundtable Reviews from the staff, followed by my newsletter-exclusive Raw report and Bruce Mitchell’s reaction to Raw.

Then comes my report on the final TV hype for the PPV, last Friday Smackdown, and we catch up on my TNA Impact reports from the last two weeks. Plus Torch Newswire covers the top items of the week including WWE facing criticism for the Zeb Colter character.


FEBRUARY 17, 2013

-They opened with video packages hyping top matches on the event, including The Rock leaving WWE to do movies only to come back to regain the WWE Title ten years later.

-Michael Cole introduced the show alongside JBL and Jerry Lawler. They touted the party atmosphere in New Orleans.

(1) Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo) beat The Big Show in 13:00 to retain the World Hvt. Title.

When clips aired of what Del Rio did to Show on Smackdown, JBL said he should be arrested. Show dominated early in the match including a spear at 2:00. When Del Rio made a comeback and charged off the ropes at Show, Show extended his boot and caught Del Rio in the throat. The announcers said Show was dominating. At 4:00 Del Rio applied the Cross Armbreaker out of nowhere. Show reached for the bottom rope. Ricardo pulled the bottom rope out of Show’s reach. Show eventually put his foot over the rope to force a break.

Show came back with a bear hug. Cole said that’s a move Bruno Sammartino used effectively for years in WWE when he was champion. When Ricardo stepped onto the ring apron with a bucket of towels, Show released the hold and scared Ricardo to the floor and then threw his bucket at him. JBL said Ricardo should keep his spit bucket further away from the ring. Del Rio took Show down with a huracanrana. Show rolled to the floor. Del Rio then dove through the ropes and knocked Show over. The ref reached the count of nine before he broke the count by returning to the ring. Del Rio immediately landed a top rope seated denton for a two count. Out of nowhere Show blocked a Del Rio kick and chokeslammed him for a believable near fall.

(WK Reax: It was so nice that Cole didn’t declare the match over during the ref’s count, because that was an old tired predictable technique to create false drama. I hope it’s part of the past officially as company policy now.)

When Show signaled for the KO punch, Del Rio dropped to ringside. Show threw him back into the ring. Del Rio went for a sunset flip, but Show lifted him and blocked it, but Del Rio then DDT’d Show. Both were slow to get up. Del Rio landed an enzuigiri for a near fall. Good crowd pops for the near falls. Del Rio applied a Cross Armbreaker next. Show reached for the bottom rope again. He couldn’t reach it, but he did roll himself over and onto his feet and power Del Rio hard to the mat. Impressive feat of strength.

Ricardo distracted Show as he signaled for the KO punch again. Show knocked Ricardo off the ring apron. Show then picked up Ricardo’s bucket and taunted Ricardo with it. Del Rio flew at Show and tried to kick the bucket into Show’s head, but he kicked the top rope instead and missed. He got right up again and landed it on the second attempt. Show staggered. Del Rio then gave Show a super kick and then a running enguiziri in the corner. Show continued to stagger, then he fell to one knee. Del Rio then applied the Cross Armbreaker. Show struggled and yelled and reached for the bottom rope. After about ten seconds he tapped out. “You gotta be kidding me!” JBL said. He said he never thought he’d see Show tap out to anything. Del Rio celebrated to a moderate crowd pop. (***)

(WK Reax: Good match. They had a good game plan and executed it well start to finish, well, with the exception of the first enzuigiri into the bucket. Del Rio recovered nicely from that, though, and mistakes happen. The fact that Ricardo helps Del Rio win does help Show retain some credibility, yet it does undercut Del Rio’s cred as a top babyface champion when he only seems to win because of interference and help from ringside. And in the end, in defense of the booking, it was Show’s preoccupation with Ricardo beyond simply stopping Ricardo from interfering that led to Show’s demise.)

-They showed scenes of New Orleans riverfront. Cole touted the crowd of over 15,000.

-They showed Cole, Lawler, and JBL at ringside. Cole threw to a brief “sneak peak” at “G.I. Joe - Retaliation” starring The Rock. During Cesaro’s ring entrance, Josh Mathews interviewed DJ. Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki at ringside, costars with Rock in the movie.

(2) Antonio Cesaro beat The Miz via DQ to retain the U.S. Title in 8:00. Miz’s shoulder was wrapped, selling the Brock Lesnar and Cesaro attacks in recent weeks. Cesaro dominated and methodically worked over Miz’s arm for the first five minutes. Miz made a comeback finally, using kicks to wear down Cesaro followed by a running clothesline into the corner. Cesaro caught Miz diving off the ropes and landed in an armbar on the mat. Miz managed to rolled out of it and score a leverage two count on Cesaro. Cesaro charged, and Miz backdropped him to the floor. Miz DDT’d Cesaro back in the ring for a two count. JBL said they may have a tie game at this point.

In the end, Miz went for the figure-four leg lock, but Cesaro blocked it. When Cesaro knocked Miz off balance with a kick, Miz landed a knee on Cesaro’s inner-thigh, although he sold it like it was a low-blow. The ref called for the bell, claiming Miz intentionally landed the low blow. Miz protested. Miz was so upset that afterward he walked up to Cesaro and kicked him low on purpose, then slapped him. JBL: “I think that was intentional.” (**1/4)

-Backstage Kane was pacing. Daniel Bryan walked up to him and asked if he was still giving him the silent treatment. He said it was every man for himself at the Rumble, and if anything he should be mad at Kane because Kane eliminated him after he was already eliminated. Bryan asked why he’s so grumpy. Kane said that’s ironic since he looks like one of the Seven Dwarfs from where he’s standing. Kane said he’s focused, not grumpy.

(WK Reax: I’ve gotta remember that line. That also explains Randy Orton’s character 100 percent of the time.)

Kane said the winner of the EC match goes on to headline WrestleMania. He said in 15 years in WWE, he’s never competed in a main event at WrestleMania, so this match is a big deal for him. Bryan said tonight they should watch each other’s back, Team Hell No style. Kane hugged Bryan. Kane then told Bryan to watch his back, and he’ll watch his own back, too. Bryan didn’t love that deal.

-As the Chamber lowered, Cole cited some stats. Then a video package played of Elimination Chamber highlights.

-Jack Swagger came out first with Zeb Colter. Swagger said when he holds the mic, he showers the fans with truth. He said Zeb is a great American, and if fans have any respect for their country, they’ll stand up and give it to him. Zeb said they are in a “pen of inequity,” New Orleans. He said on the eve of President’s Day, it reminds him of Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase. He said he’d be ashamed to see what’s become of Louisiana. Zeb said he defended the U.S. with his life. He said WWE and Louisiana are both full of intruders and panders and excuse-makers. He said he didn’t spend one year of his life face-down in the muck in a war with Swagger’s daddy to come back and see people crossing borders illegally, breaking their laws, and then having the stones to ask for a handout. He said together they will “make things right because tonight a real patriot, a real American, will set things straight and win one for the good guys.” He closed with: “Tonight marks the beginning of a Jack Swagger America. We the People!”

-The rest of the ring entrances took place: Kane, Mark Henry, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and Chris Jericho last.

(WK Reax: It does seem strange to have the marquee gimmick match the PPV event was named after come this soon, but then John Cena and The Rock are in two of the top remaining matches, so it makes sense. It doesn’t help the Smackdown brand seem big time when its resident World Title is defended again in the opening and the Chamber match is third on the show.)

(3) Jack Swagger won the Elimination Chamber.

Jericho and Bryan started. Cole said for just the fourth time in the 11 year history of the event, no title is on the line, but rather top contendership. After several minutes of fast-paced action, they spilled to the grated floor at ringside. Bryan wrestled Jericho to the grates and then Jericho countered with a catapult into the chain fence.

At 4:00 Swagger was released from a corner pod and he went after Jericho. He then switched off to Bryan. Jericho recovered and went after Swagger. After brief offense, Swagger took over and threw Jericho into the fence twice.

At 8:00 the countdown took place, but the clock stopped at 0:05. Lawler said, “Well, they are famous for power outages here.” Kane was released from his pod next. A minute later Bryan tried sneak in a pin on Kane. JBL said, “That was dumb. World’s toughest vegan, not the world’s smartest vegan.” Bryan asked Kane to hug it out with him. Kane refused and yelled, “No!” Bryan yelled, “Yes!” They went back and forth and the crowd joined in. Bryan pie-faced Kane. Kane punched him back.

Bryan avoided a charging Kane, who went head-first into the turnbuckle. Bryan hit Kane with a flying dropkick and then some round kicks to Kane’s chest with Kane on his knees. Kane reached up and went for a chokeslam, but Bryan blocked it. Kane side-slammed Bryan for a two count at 10:00. The announcers noted that Jericho and Swagger were recovering outside of the ring. Lawler said Jericho might have been playing possum. Jericho lifted Bryan onto his shoulders. Kane then clotheslined Bryan off of Jericho’s shoulders. JBL said it was like the Road Warriors.

At 12:00 Orton was released into the match. Orton took out Jericho and then Swagger, then went back to Jericho. Kane punched Orton. Cole and Lawler commented on it being surprising no one had been eliminated yet. Kane grabbed Orton by the throat at ringside, but Orton blocked it and rammed Kane into the fence. Orton then DDT’d Kane off the second rope onto the steel grating at ringside.

Orton superplexed Swagger off the top rope as Kane superplexed Bryan of the top rope on the other side of the ring. Henry looked restless inside his pod. Cole said if his pod opened, he could wipe the mat with all five opponents and march right to WrestleMania.

At 16:00 Henry was released. He slammed into one opponent after another, dropping them like Dusty Rhodes taking out the Four Horsemen with elbows. Henry gave Bryan the World’s Strongest Slam to eliminate him.

***Bryan out at 17:00***

Next Henry threw Orton into a pod, right through the plexiglass. Next Kane leaped off the top rope toward Henry, but Henry caught him and then gave him the World’s Strongest Slam for the pin. JBL said Kane’s dream to headline WrestleMania is foiled again.

***Kane out at 19:00***

Jericho and Swagger worked together against Henry, throwing him into the fence a few times. Then they stereo duplexed him onto the grating. All three sold the impact of the landing. Jericho and Swagger got up and began fighting. Swagger powered out of a Walls of Jericho attempt. Henry caught Jericho spring boarding off the ropes and then threw him into the wall of the cage. He then yelled, “That’s what ahh do!” Henry assessed the situation, then stood on the second rope and swing splashed down toward Jericho and Swagger below him. They both moved. Swagger gave Henry a running boot and then Jericho gave him a knee. Henry staggered. Orton gave Henry an RKO and went for the cover and scored the the three count.

***Henry in 24:00***

Jericho, Swagger, and Orton were slow to get up. Henry began to regain his senses and walked out of the Chamber. He staggered toward the back. Lawler acknowledged the fans were applauding Henry’s efforts. Henry turned and returned to the cage door and swung it open before the refs could lock it. He gave Swagger the World’s Strongest Slam, then same to Orton, and the same to Jericho. Five refs came out and insisted he leave. Booker T, along with Teddy Long, ran out and ordered Henry out of there. Henry began to leave while shooting a look at Booker.

Orton and Jericho worked together to threw Swagger into the wall of a pod. Orton and Jericho then went at it at 27:00. Orton then landed a dropkick. Cole said it was “right off the kisser!”

(WK Reax: Please, never. No. Don’t call the mouth “the kisser” after a big move.)

Orton set up a DDT off the second rope on Swagger. Jericho hit Orton with a springboard dropkick off the second rope for a two count. Swagger went for the Swagger Bomb, but Orton blocked it with his foot. Swagger then went for the Patriot Act. Jericho hit Swagger with an enzuigiri. Swagger then applied the Patriot Lock on Jericho. Jericho then countered with a Walls of Jericho. Sagger stayed on his side. Orton leverage slammed Jericho off of Swagger and scored a two count. Orton backdropped a charging Swagger over the top rope to the grating, then he set up Jericho for a DDT off the middle rope. Swagger jumped Orton. Orton added him to the mix and DDT’d both of them off the second rope. Orton played to the crowd. Cole said WrestleMania Fever broke out in New Orleans. Jericho blocked an RKO attempt, then went for a Lionsault, but Orton lifted his knees and gave Jericho an RKO for the pin.

***Jericho at 32:00***

Swagger then schoolboyed Orton for the surprise leverage pin immediately.

***Orton at 32:00***

Cole said Swagger just shocked the world and is going to WrestleMania. (****)

(WK Reax: Very good Chamber match, with a finish that would surprise most everyone, although Swagger was the logical no. 2 choice behind Henry given his and Zeb’s anti-immigrant rhetoric this week. It sets up Del Rio fighting an anti-immigrant, anti-not-same-color-as-me heel duo at WrestleMania. Henry kept his heat because of the way he lost and the way he reacted afterward.)

-Cole, Lawler, and JBL threw to a video package on the Shield feuding with Sheamus, Ryback, and John Cena.

(4) The Shield beat John Cena & Sheamus & Ryback in 15:00 when Rollins beat Ryback.

Cena’s ring entrance took place first, then Sheamus, then Ryback. The Shield entered through the crowd. A brawl broke out before the bell at ringside. The three babyfaces suplexed all three heels one after another mid-ring. Then everyone assumed a legal position, with Sheamus and Dean Ambrose starting the match. Cole pushed Ambrose as 6-4. Sheamus fended off Seth Rollins, then pounded Ambrose’s chest with a barrage of forearms. Rollins tagged in at 2:00 and got in some offense against Sheamus. Ambrose tagged back in, but Sheamus caught him with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus hot-tagged Cena just as Ambrose hot-tagged Roman Reigns.

Cena quickly applied an STF, but Ambrose broke it up quickly. “They’re like a swarm of hornets,” said Cole. It’s a strength of the Shield as a team that they seem to work at 120 percent of the speed of most (and 200 percent the speed of Antonio Cesaro, who just takes his time dismantling his opponents). They settled into an extended beatdown of Cena. A “Cena sucks!” chant broke out. Rollins and Ambrose celebrated every offensive move on the ring apron by Reigns, including crazy battle cries.

Ambrose tagged in at 5:00. They took turns beating on Cena for the next several minutes as the announcers marveled at their teamwork and dominance of the bey of the match. Ambrose hit a “wicked DDT,” as Cole aptly called it, using Cena’s belt to add leverage to his head-first plunge into the mat. It was good for a two count. A “Feed me more!” chant broke out. Cena backdropped Ambrose over the top rope at 12:00 and then he rolled toward his corner for a tag and hot-tagged Ryback.

Ryback took it to Ambrose and Rollins one after another, including throwing Ambrose upside down into Rollins in the corner. Ambrose landed on his head as he tumbled over. Ryback then signaled for the Meat Hook. That drew Rollins in. Sheamus then charged in. Sheamus knocked Ambrose and Reigns to the floor. Reigns speared Sheamus through the ringside barriers near the ring announcer. Big spot. Very well done.

Rollins dove at Ryback, but Ryback caught him and pressed him into the air. Ambrose punched Ryback in the gut. All three heels swarmed Ryback. Cena entered the picture and took out Reigns and Ambrose. Meanwhile, Ryback lifted Rollins for a Shell Shock. Reigns charged back into the ring and speared Ryback. Rollins landed on Ryback and scored the pin. “The Shield beat the All-Star team tonight,” Cole said. (***1/2)

(WK Reax: Very good match. Slow in the middle, but for good reason in terms of the ring psychology of building toward the Ryback hot-tag. Based on the crowd chants, it worked. Surprising finish in some respects, but The Shield were losing momentum and needed a big clean even-sided win. This is what TNA needs to do with Aces & Eights, by the way. I also liked how the announcers made a very big deal out of the win. By making it sound like it was a surprise and a major statement victory, it actually made Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback out to be big stars because they made it seem like the Shield beating them really means something.)

-Afterward Ryback was frustrated and seemed to blame Cena, as he stared him down and then walked out alone. Cena looked confused by Ryback while also disappointed in the outcome.

-Dolph Ziggler walked out with A.J. Lee and Big E. Langston. He complained about not being booked on the show. He said somehow Swagger strolled back from his vacation and immediately moved into the WrestleMania main event. He said Swagger may think he’s guaranteed a championship, but his briefcase guarantees it. He said he is the most physically gifted athlete this business has ever seen, and they might as well call the cops because he’s stolen more shows than the entire Hall of Fame class hobbling around like old dinosaurs, then added, “No offense.”

Booker T walked out. Ziggler asked, “Can I help you?” Booker said there’s a fine line between the stealing the show and wasting everyone’s time. Booker said he knows someone who can do everything he can do a little bit more. He said that’s his opponent right now. For a second there, it sounded like Shawn Michaels was making his surprise return to the ring. The maybe Evan Bourne was a little more likely. Instead, Kofi Kingston, which didn’t get much of a pop

(5) Dolph Ziggler (w/A.J. Lee, Big E. Langston) pinned Kofi Kingston in 4:00.

Big E. yanked Ziggler out of the ring during a Kofi pin attempt. When Big E. helped him up, Kofi leaped onto them at ringside. Big E.’s head got jammed against the ring barrier on the landing. Back in the ring Ziggler knocked Kofi off balance on the top rope, lifted him for a superplex but dropped him on the top turnbuckle, and then hit the Zig Zag for the win.

-After the match Big E. attacked Kofi and gave him his finisher. JBL said Kofi won’t use Big E. as a landing pad anymore. An audible chant broke out, “One more time! One more time!” Big E. stood over Kofi and yelled.

-They showed people partying in the streets of New Orleans. Then Cole pushed the WWE App 4.3.3. Then they showed him installing the app on his phone.

(WK Reax: What took him so long? And can’t WWE upgrade him to an iPhone 5. I was hoping to see the Torch logo on his phone. Lawler then took out his Samsung Galaxy S3 to show off a picture of him and his girlfriend as his screensaver.)

The announcers then narrated a clip of Tensai & Brodus Clay beating Team Rhodes Scholars. Then they cut backstage to Clay playing with new WWE toys. In walked Tensai, whom Clay called “Sweet T.” Tensai said, “Please don’t call me Sweet T.” Clay asked Tensai what those words are on his head. Tensai said he doesn’t know, but it’s supposed to be Japanese words of honor, but with his luck it’s probably a sushi menu. Clay’s music then played and Tensai danced with Clay’s dancers.

-A clip aired of Tamina shoving Kaitlyn and then Kaitlyn slapping her back during WWE Active last Monday.

(6) Kaitlyn pinned Tamina in 3:00 to retain the Divas Title.

During Kaitlyn’s ring entrance, they played a soundbite with Kaitlyn saying that Tamina is the most terrifying woman she’s ever faced. She said she might walk or crawl out of the ring, but in the end she’ll still be Diva’s Champion. During the match they showed five other Divas in the back watching on a monitor. Tamina went for a top rope splash at 3:00, but Kaitlyn moved and then she speared Kaitlyn for the win.

-The WrestleMania 29 video aired.

-A video recap aired of the Punk vs. Rock feud.

(7) The Rock pinned C.M. Punk in 20:00 to retain the WWE Championship. As Punk walked out with Heyman holding up the WWE Title belt, Cole stressed that he’s not the actual champion anymore. Then The Rock came out. Punk had trouble giving up the title belt before the match. They circled each other and opened with some exchanges leading to Punk eventually bailing out to ringside at 3:00. They trash-talked each other mid-ring. Rock took Punk to the floor and whipped him into the barricade, then clotheslined Punk as he charged at him. Punk settled into a chinlock at 6:00. The crowd chanted, “Let’s Go Rocky! / Rocky Sucks!” Punk settled into another chinlock on the mat. At 10:00 Rock broke free. Punk, though, charged at him with a running knee in the corner. Punk then climbed to the top rope and checked his pulse, then hit a flying elbow for a two count. Almost no pop for Rock’s kick out. The pace of the match early may have taken the crowd out of it.

JBL said Rock came back not because he needs money but because he loves this business. He said he sold a billion dollars in box office sales. Punk took apart the Spanish announce table, but Rock recovered and threw Punk’s head into the table a few times, then threw him into the ring. He set up a Rock Bottom, but Punk escaped and kicked Rock in the back of the head leading to a two count. A minute later Punk had Rock at ringside and he chokeslammed him onto the Spanish table. The table didn’t give at all. Rock slid to the floor as Punk ran into the ring to let the ref begin counting Rock out. Rock got up and crawled toward the ring. He beat the count just before ten.

Punk jumped onto Rock and punched him repeatedly. Rock came back with a Samoan drop a minute later. Cole called it “vintage Rock.” Both were slow to get up. Rock and Punk stood and exchanged punches. Rock dove at Punk with a flying clothesline, but Punk mistimed it and bumped early, so Rock seemed to overshoot him a bit. Rock then waited for Punk to stand so he could deliver the Rock Bottom. Punk elbowed the back of Rock’s neck to escape Rock’s grip. He continued a barrage of elbows. Punk went for a springboard dive, but Rock caught Punk and gave him a Rock Bottom for a near fall. Both Punk and Rock fans were invested in that kick out, based on the mixed crowd reaction to the move followed by a different group celebrating the kick out.

Heyman distracted the ref, then Punk whipped Rock into the ref. Rock knocked the ref hard to the mat. Punk then gave Rock the GTS and made the cover. The ref wasn’t around to make the count. Heyman sprinted to the ref to try to get him up. Another ref ran out and he checked on the fallen comrade rather than enter the ring. Rock then recovered enough to escape another GTS and hit a spine buster. At 19:00 Rock then went into the People’s Elbow routine. Punk kicked out. That also got an intense mixed reaction from the crowd, some celebrating and others booing.

When Rock moved toward Punk, Punk rolled onto the second ref’s ankle. That was yelled out in pain. Lawler said it looked like he sprained his ankle for sure. Punk kicked Rock in the head. With the refs down and Rock out, Heyman gave Punk the WWE Title belt. Heyman helped Rock stand, and then held him against the ropes. Punk charged and swung the belt, but Rock moved and Punk hit Heyman. Rock then gave Punk a Rock Bottom. The original ref crawled into the ring and counted the pin. (**1/2)

(WK Reax: Another disappointing but understandable performance from The Rock. He was also more about style and charisma in the ring than hard-nosed gritty realistic wrestling matches, and that worked for him - and the fans - very well. However, he’s lost a step and his cardio isn’t close to where most everyone else at a top level in WWE is. Punk did the best he could, which included a big responsibility to not hurt him or bruise him.)


Greg Parks, columnist (6.5)

If you were looking for Elimination Chamber to get you excited about Wrestlemania, you may have been disappointed. In a vacuum though, I think the show was a thumbs-up. Many people who don’t like this show are likely those who believe the main event was not only below par, but disliked the finish as well. And I totally see the merit in that thinking. But given that, I still think there was enough to like on the rest of the show to “save” it from a thumbs-down.

I anticipated Alberto Del Rio vs. Big Show not being a good match, but I was pleasantly surprised. Yeah, the finish didn’t go as planned, but a tap-out win over Show was a solid step in continuing to establish Del Rio as a credible babyface.

The finish of Cesaro vs. Miz was creative, and it seems to signal another match in this series, either on TV or at Wrestlemania. I thought, given Miz’s shoulder issues, it would give him an out to lose cleanly. A lot of people are heaping praise on the Elimination Chamber match...I thought it was really good, but short of great.

I thought, after Mark Henry, Jack Swagger had the best chance of winning. Even then, seeing him win was still somewhat shocking. As much as I’m enjoying his partnership with Zeb Coulter, I can’t help but wonder if this is too much too fast for this Swagger character - I would almost have preferred Henry winning here and Swagger taking on Del Rio post-Mania. There were fewer big bumps in this match and more of a focus on stories being told, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Shield continued their hot in-ring start to their WWE careers. Having them go over the big-star babyfaces was the right move, but after that win, you almost have to believe it sets them up for something big at Mania. However there’s nothing really obvious for them to do. That’s the difficulty of being the only serious three-man group.

I figured Dolph Ziggler would get on the show somehow. A win over Kofi Kingston doesn’t mean much at this time, but I don’t think that was the point. Kaitlyn and Tamina should continue their feud...Tamina is certainly the most credible challenger to the title in what’s left of the Divas division.

I thought The Rock vs. C.M. Punk being slightly disappointing at the Royal Rumble was just setting things up for a barn-burner of a rematch. It didn’t exactly work out that way. Rock continued to look a little logy, and the finish seemed to protect Punk either for a match with Undertaker at Wrestlemania, or to give him an out for his losses to set up a Triple Threat WWE Title match at Wrestlemania. I can’t fault WWE for walking that line, given the uncertainty surrounding The Undertaker’s status for Mania.

Pat McNeill, columnist (7.0)

This wasn’t a great pay-per-view, but the main matches ranged from good to very good, and the show ended with us in the right place. Maybe.

Michael Cole declared the champ’s performance “Vintage Rock.” In some ways, he’s right. People forget what Rock’s original run as a main eventer (1998-2002) was like. When The Rock was in there with a great worker (Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Triple H) you’d get a hot match. When Rock faced, say, Billy Gunn or Biker Undertaker, you were in for a struggle. The match wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but it had some heat to it. Go back and watch Punk create movement with The Rock. And even working at seventy percent of what he’s once was, Rocky’s pretty far above Junkyard Dog or Hacksaw Jim Ruggan in terms of mobility. What you ended up with was good enough.

The biggest problem with the main event was the convoluted finish. If you’re worried about one of your wrestlers not having the chops to put on a four-star match, the last thing you need to do is lay two ref bumps, manager interference and a belt shot. Generally, in major pro wrestling storylines, the simpler they are, the better they work.

The six-man tag was fifteen minutes of outrageous, balls-to-the-wall fun. The frenetic pace was different than the other matches, and the star power held everyone’s interest. Either The Shield are the craziest bumpers in modern wrestling, or Ryback was a few inches away from breaking someone’s neck. Maybe that’s why they teased a Ryback heel turn at the end of the night.

Sure, we made a great case for why Mark Henry should have won the Elimination Chamber. But WrestleMania is going to sell out no matter who Alberto Del Rio faces in the opening match. Plus, WWE did a fine job of protecting the World’s Strongest Man by having him lose in what was essentially a three-on-one finish. Maybe WWE is planning ahead. Del Rio vs. Mark Henry is going to mean a lot more when WWE is trying to fill television time in May than it will over the next six weeks.

WWE definitely toned down Zeb Colter’s rantings from last Monday. Actually, the most offensive line on the show may have been Antonio Cesaro calling The Miz a “typical American.” Dude, you’re not pinning that on me. (And yes, The Miz did well tonight, and he was over as a babyface. I admit it.)

Thumbs up.

James Caldwell, assistant editor (6.5)

I’m giving this show the same score I gave the Royal Rumble PPV last month. Rock-Punk fell short again, but the Chamber match and Shield’s impressive six-man tag victory over Team Cena added up to the same value as a solid Rumble match in January.

The second hour of this PPV (Chamber match and Shield vs. Cena) might have been one of the best hours on PPV in a long time. Unfortunately for WWE, it was followed by one of the worst third hours of a PPV in a long time, making this feel like an over-stretched three-hour Raw.

After watching Rock and Punk wrestle twice on PPV, it’s clear that they lack chemistry. There seems to be a push & pull issue here - Punk wants to push the pace and use his skills to really wrestle, as if he’s facing Daniel Bryan, but Rock wants to pull back. Perhaps that’s why John Cena is a better opponent for Rock at this stage of Rock’s career being a 40-year-old special attraction because Cena has mastered the slow-it-down WWE main event style. Throw in another Attitude Era-style chaotic, over-done finish to Rock-Punk II and they just never got this match where it needed to go. Where does Punk go from here? If it’s not Undertaker, then WWE has the option to insert him in Rock-Cena to create a three-way match at WrestleMania after this main event.

The Elimination Chamber match in the second hour really kicked into high gear once Mark Henry entered the proceedings. Plus, Randy Orton was very popular, Chris Jericho helped set up some great sequences, and WWE advanced the Bryan-Kane issue another inch in their inch-by-inch progression toward a blow-off match. This was heavy on story, not so much action in the match that the PPV was named after, but it all came together nicely at the end.

Shield beating Team Cena was the surprise night of the night ahead of Jack Swagger winning the Chamber match. Sure, it was expected that Shield would methodically pick apart either Cena, Ryback, or Sheamus, but to actually win the match after avoiding simultaneous AA and Shell-Shock was quite impressive. Speaking of impressive, Roman Reigns was the break-out star of the night with his performance throughout the match. Plus, he started a feud with Sheamus. Not a bad night. But, now, Shield has been elevated to another level. Which means WWE can’t stick them in a mid-card match at WrestleMania; WWE has to keep pushing to keep them at this new level or even try for the next level. It will be very interesting to see where Shield fits in at Mania.

Bruce Mitchell, columnist (7.0)

The Shield really came through tonight as an unique new act in WWE. WWE doesn’t put over tag teams, but the Shield works with, and beat top main eventers tonight. Their teamwork, what JBL called the ability to have a numbers advantage when the sides are even, is something WWE hasn’t seen, even in the DX days. WWE really is starting to shoot new acts to the top, and is starting to reap the benefits. I also liked that they made the tough and right choice to put The Shield over another new, Ryback. I was a little surprised Cena didn’t get a win in the last pay per view before Wrestlemania, but he’s been strong coming in to this show, and no doubt will kept that way into the big night.

The other new act shot to the top tonight was Jack “We The People” Swagger, with mixed results. Zeb Coulter’s racist little pep talk wasn’t as strong as Monday night’s. Swagger was fine, and the Elimination Chamber match was well pit together, particularly how Mark Henry was kept strong. Chris Jericho provided the glue here.The problem was, the guy that was really over in the thing was Randy Orton. WWE is going to have figure out what to do with him.

It’s going to be very interesting to see Alnerto Del Rio and Swagger’s deal plays out or the next couple of months. The Big Show did a good job getting Del Rio for the main stage. The Dolph
Ziggler Trio seems to have lost a little steam, As for the Divas, well, it was a mistake to have one enhancement match follow the other. The Miz did a nice job selling the shoulder injury, and Antonio Cesaro was strong going afterit but I don’t know what that low blow DQ was about. Was it me, or was the story Cesaro deliberately tricked Miz into hiting him in the yutes? That’s got to be some sort of first.

The main event between Rock and C.M. Punk seem to be missing something, but the work, particularly from Punk, was fine. That visionary fall Punk got on Rovk turned the crowd in Punk’s favor at least temporarily, , and makes me think we really are going to see a three way Wrestlemania main event.

Wade Keller, editor (7.0)

There was a lot to like about the show. The biggest drawback was the quality of the main event action. It was okay, but Rock is quickly establishing that he’s not coming back to have four star matches. Whether he wants to or not doesn’t matter - he clearly can’t based on the shape he’s in and the physical chances he’s willing to take. Also, the finishes of the matches seemed to stray into being more convoluted than is typical of WWE on PPV. It doesn’t take much to overdo it in that regard, and at some point WWE has to just commit to having a winner and a loser and live with the consequences. Once fans begin to think there’s going to be a low blow or a countout or a DQ or two ref bumps before every finish, then all of the other near falls begin to lose some of the drama because everyone’s waiting for the proverbial Four Horsemen run-in.

There’s a lot of positive to this show, though, including The Shield continuing to show that they’re at their best when in a tag match swarming their opponents and fighting with an intensity and rapid-fire pace that’s not seen often. Their personalities come through in their matches, and even their antics while standing on the ring apron add to the overall mystique. The quality of that six-man match was strong, and the Shield needed a win to boost their credibility. I wasn’t sure what to make of Ryback leaving in a huff, but I’m intrigued.

The Chamber match was really well done. Not every Chamber match should be alike in term of the structure of the match or the violent intensity. It depends on who’s involved and the story WWE wants to tell. In this case, they told a good story with Mark Henry coming in late in the match and having a memorable series of minutes dominating everyone. That, and his post-match attack, offset any lost credibility or momentum for his character because he didn’t win the actual match. I’m not sure of Swagger being ready for a title shot against Del Rio, but as the WM29 line-up takes shape and we see who Henry ends up facing, I think it’ll make sense why they chose this route.


FEBRUARY 18, 2013

[Q1] -The show opened with a video package on big happenings at Elimination Chamber including Jack Swagger winning the EC and The Rock retaining the WWE Title. The narrator said, “A lot can happen in one night.”

-John Cena made his full ring entrance as Michael Cole alongside Jerry Lawler introduced the show. He said a year ago they announced WrestleMania 29 would be in the shadows of New York City at Met Life Stadium. He said now it’s about more than the name of the event and city; now it’s about a line-up that has taken shape. He said they now know Alberto Del Rio will defend against Jack Swagger and The Rock will defend the WWE Title against him.

Punk didn’t like that. His music interrupted and he walked out with Paul Heyman. He asked Cena if he was sure that’s what going to happen at WrestleMania. He said that’s the easy way out, but he expects nothing less than him taking the easy way out. Punk said The Rock beat him last night fair and square “if you want to ignore the fact that I had him pinned for an 18 count and that right before then he struck a WWE official.” He said Rock should have been DQ’d and lost his title per the match stops.

Punk said when it comes to wins and losses, Cena has never defeated Punk. Cena said he’s not talking about wins and losses, he’s talking about WrestleMania. He said he earned that spot, so for once it’s not about Punk he’ll have to sit this one out. Punk asked, “What about me!”

(WK Reax: “What about me!” - Copyright Raven.)

Punk said Cena earned his WrestleMania trip by winning a circus match like the Rumble. “What, you strolled in around 25 and threw a couple ham and eggers over the top rope. “That is the biggest luck of the draw match I have ever heard of,” he said.

(WK Reax: “Ham and eggers” - Copyright Bobby Heenan.)

Punk said Rock vs. Cena is a re-run, and everyone knows the outcome - Rock beats Cena, because Cena can’t win the big one. Cena listened and then said it’s just like him to come out and air his grievances. He asked him what he wants him to do. Punk told him to just walk away. He said he has something that doesn’t belong to him, so turn around and leave WWE and get out of his life.

The crowd chanted “Cena! Cena!” Cena teased walking out of the ring, then walked back toward Punk and said, “No.” He said he admires his honesty. “You have a hell of a set of stones, and I bet if you sift through all the excuses and the b.s., there’s a half-way decent human being under there.” He said he has to be smart enough to know he won’t just hand over the golden ticket to WrestleMania.

He told Punk his points have some merit, though, because he hasn’t defeated him or The Rock. He said he understands why he has critics. He said they have a problem. Cena said Punk wants to go to WrestleMania, while he wants to shut up the critics. He said he has a solution. He won’t give him the golden ticket, but he’ll let him earn it. He said Cena vs. Punk and if he wins, Punk shuts up, but if Punk wins, then he’s right and he doesn’t deserve to be in the WM29 main event.

“You beat me in a match right here, right now, and I will give you my WrestleMania title shot… You talk business, I handle business. I say we do this right here, right now, and see who is traveling the road to WrestleMania!” Lawler said, “Oh my gosh” as Punk talked it over with Heyman.

Punk then told Cena he just made the stupidest decision of his life. He said he won’t do it here, though. The crowd booed. Punk said he’s going to do it on his terms. He said after he got screwed last night, he shouldn’t even be in this position, they’ll do it next week instead. He left the ring. Heyman smiled broadly and high-fived Punk, then said, “We got him!”

Cena said it’s official, next week they’re on. Cena said if he wants a week to rest, take it. He said next week he will beat him and at WrestleMania 29 he will beat The Rock and everyone will know “The Champ is Here!” Cole called it a gutsy move. Lawler said he thinks Cena may have lost his marbles.

(WK Reax: I’m a little shocked, but obviously pleased, that WWE has announced a major match for Raw a week ahead of time, something TNA had been good about for several weeks until last week’s show.)

-Lawler plugged a Rock title celebration later. Cole talked about the World’s Strongest Slams at the PPV and said Mark Henry was up next.

(WK Reax: I said one key thing missing after Rock won the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble was a title celebration of some sort. With his first successful title defense behind him, this is a good time to make up for that.)

[Q2] [c] -The screen showed Thomas Jefferson with a quote that said, “One man with courage is a majority.”

-They went to Cole and Lawler at ringside. Cole mentioned Jefferson being famous for the Louisiana Purchase, and said they’re in the heart of cajun country tonight. Lawler said he doesn’t think anyone in the WWE Universe expected the Shield to win. Cole called it “a fervent, fierce, swarming assault by the Shield.”

(WK Reax: You gotta love when WWE writers go nuts with the prepared series of adjectives like that.)

-Backstage Matt Striker asked Sheamus about losing to Shield. Sheamus said they wanted to get revenge, but now he feels they let everyone down. Ryback paced in front of them. Sheamus was distracted and said he feels they let everybody down. He said they both lost that match and they have to adapt and overcome. He said Ryback is supposed to be a machine, “or are you just like everyone else says; are you a mindless neanderthal.” Ryback grabbed Sheamus and didn’t like that. A little boy walked up and stepped between them and told them to stop it. Oh, that’s Chris Jericho. He chopped their chests and said getting in each other’s faces doesn’t help matters. He said “we” have to do what it takes to save the company.

Jericho said he loves WWE and he’s never worked anywhere else since he first stepped into WWE’s doors in 1999 and he’ll never work anywhere else again. He said they have to stop the Shield and it has to start tonight. He said Vickie Guerrero brought him back to Raw because she knows what he brings to the table. He said she has to know the box office appeal of Sheamus & Ryback & Jericho vs. The Shield. He said if he talks to her, he can make it happen tonight. Sheamus said if he can make it happen, it’s a deal. Ryback said, “Done!” Sheamus and Ryback got in each other’s face. Ryback snorted and said, “Feed me Shield.” Sheamus got bug-eyed and smiled in approval. [c]

-Clips aired of Henry beating up Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio two weeks ago on Raw and then Great Khali last week on Raw. Cole talked about how Henry showed no remorse to anyone.

(1) Mark Henry beat Sin Cara in 2:00. Henry tossed Sin Cara to the mat and then stood on him. Lawler said this wasn’t a good time for anyone to be facing Henry. After smashing Sin Cara into the corner, Henry yelled, “That’s what I do!” Cole said Henry spent more than six months foaming at the mouth, frustrated, anticipating returning to WWE rings. Sin Cara recovered enough to surprise Henry with a kick to the head. He played to the crowd and threw another kick, but Henry caught him and gave him a running powerslam. Henry then gave Sin Cara the World’s Strongest Powerslam for the win.

-Henry shoved his hand over Sin Cara’s face afterward, then set up another World’s Strongest Slam. Great Khali’s music played and he marched to the ring, coming to Sin Cara’s defense. Cole said: “It’s the Mastodon meeting the Mammoth.” When Khali entered the ring, Henry bailed out. He smiled and said, “I had all of you I wanted.” He walked away. Khali danced a little to taunt him.

(Quotebook - Mark Henry: “If I wanted to dance, I’d get a date. That’s all you’re good for anyway, dancin’!”)

(WK Reax: I hope they have something better for Henry planned at WrestleMania than The Great Khali.)

-Lawler plugged a Cesaro vs. Miz title rematch, but with a no DQ stip added. Cole then broke news that Vickie did book the six-man tag Jericho asked for. [c…]

[Q3] […c] -Another Fandango vignette aired. No camera bodyscans this week.

(2) The Miz beat Antonio Cesaro via tap out in a no-DQ match in 5:00. Miz tackled Cesaro when the bell rang, then clotheslined Cesaro over the top rope to the floor. Cole said Miz was DQ’d for a low blow that appeared to be accidental. He didn’t mention the “not accidental” low-blow that he delivered after being DQ’d. Cole said Cesaro believes Miz delivered the low blow on purpose and it was a sign of weakness in Miz. Cesaro reversed Miz into the ringside barrier, then rammed him shoulder-first into the ringpost.

Cesaro brought a chair into the ring and used it as leverage when applying an armbar. Lawler noted that Miz is left-handed and his left shoulder is hurt, so it’s all the more inhibiting for him. Cesaro then rammed Miz shoulder-first into a chair wedged in the corner. Cesaro yelled at Miz, then charged him in the corner. Miz caught him a boot to the chin, then via drop toe hold sent him into the chair, then applied the figure-four. Cesaro tapped out. It was a non-title match.

-They went to Cole and Lawler who talked about Swagger winning the Chamber. Lawler said with Zeb Colter by his side, Del Rio will have his hands full. Cole threw to a YouTube propaganda video by Zeb and Swagger available at

-The video played of Zeb saying somewhere along the way the land of opportunity has turned into a desert of despair. He said they’ve allowed greedy, selfish, criminal delinquents to cross the border and rob the great country of all its wealth. He said they drive across the border with 20 kids hanging out the windows and move into a single apartment and look for a handout, preying on the hospitality of Americans. He said it’s drained the country of its resources and productivity. Swagger said, “No more.” Zeb said if people want a handout, it’ll be a one-way ticket back to wherever they came from (i.e. either Mexico to Canada, the two countries you can drive from to enter the U.S.)

(WK Reax: The use of a high-def camera actually took away from the authenticity of the video.) [c]

-They showed a picture of Abraham Lincoln with a quote underneath: “You can fool all of the people some of the time…”

(WK Reax: I so hope later in the show they include President George W. Bush’s hilarious attempt to repeat that line.)

-Backstage Daniel Bryan walked up to Kane, who asked him “What?” Bryan said he doesn’t know if he feels comfortable teaming up with him after he punched him last night in the Chamber. He said he’s got a singles match later against Jack Swagger, and he doesn’t want him coming out with him. Kane said maybe he’ll go to Vickie and request a singles match of his own and he doesn’t want him coming out with him. Kane said he better be a man of his word because he doesn’t deal well with snakes.

Orton, who happened to be standing behind Kane, asked if someone was talking about him. Kane said they slither around on the ground and can’t be trusted, and if one gets too close, he stomps on them with his boot. Orton said Kane a lot less intimidating now that he’s traded in his piledrivers and chokeslams for group therapy sessions and hugs. He said he’s not the Big Red Monster anymore, he more like Barney the Dinosaur. Bryan laughed and said, “That’s really funny!”

[Q4] -Vickie was on the phone talking to someone who said there are big surprises planned for her show. She said “thank you” a few times and seemed delighted. Heyman walked up and asked if she summoned him. She said those stips Heyman came up with last week were so good Rock beat Punk and retained his title. Vickie said she has great news that will dramatically affect his whole career. Vickie said she will tell him in the ring. Heyman said, “Oh, how I like overdramatic women. Vickie, I don’t like surprises.” She giggled and said, “I know.”

-Dolph Ziggler, Big E. Langston, and A.J. Lee made their ring entrance. [c]

-Ricardo Rodrigues introduced Alberto Del Rio, bragging up his win at Elimination Chamber.

(WK Reax: This match deserved some hype ahead of time. Any time the World Champion is scheduled to wrestle, the announcers should make a big deal out of it ahead of time just out of reverence for the title belt. But Del Rio vs. Ziggler is a big match to put on TV.)

(3) Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodrigues) beat Dolph Ziggler (w/Big E. Langston, A.J. Lee) in 10:00.

Ziggler opened with a nice standing dropkick. Del Rio came back with an enzuigiri. They cut to a very early break at 1:00.

(WK Reax: They went to the early break here to avoid being at commercial at the start of the second hour since they were cutting it close.) [c]

Ziggler was in control after the break. Big E. took a cheapshot at Del Rio which led to a two count. They showed Swagger and Zeb watching the match on a monitor backstage, standing to the side of the monitor looking at it from a 90 degree angle like all people do when watching TV.

(WK Reax: The effect would be better if they showed them watching TV like people actually watch TV - straight on. Just film them from an angle or even behind. It would feel more authentic and everyone would still get what’s going on. It’s so cheesy the way they do that.)

[Q5] Del Rio superplex Ziggler off the top rope, but Ziggler was facing the opposite direction as usual so he landed on the front of his body instead of the back. He then took Ziggler down with two clotheslines and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Then he hit a super kick when Ziggler was on his knees. Ziggler kicked out at two-and-a-half. Del Rio dropkicked Big E. off the ring apron, then Ziggler tried to attack Del Rio from behind. Del Rio countered with a sudden cross armbreaker for the tap out win.

(WK Reax: Good match-up to make Del Rio look good, because Ziggler specializes in making his opponents look two levels better than other opponents do.)

Afterward Big E. gave Del Rio his finisher. Then he yelled, “It’s over for you! It’s over for you!” Ziggler looked around and saw Del Rio was KO’d in the ring. He grabbed his briefcase and told the ref he was going to cash it in, but Ricardo yanked it away from him and ran to the back. That gave Del Rio time to recover. Big E. chased Ricardo to the back, and Ricardo dropped the briefcase on the ramp. A.J. ran it back to Ziggler. Del Rio then kicked Ziggler in the side of the head and kicked the briefcase out of the ring. Del Rio celebrated, holding his title high in the ring.

-Cole plugged Rock’s title celebration was coming up later. Lawler plugged Kane vs. Orton had been booked for tonight. [c]

-WWE Fact: WWE Smackdown has aired more original episodes than CSI: Miami and CSI: New York combined. (Torch Fact: The PWTorch Newsletter has published more weekly newsletters than Smackdown, CSI: Miami, and CSI: New York combined.)

-Wade Barrett stood mid-ring and plugged his role in a new movie, “Dead Man Down,” coming out next month. He said he’s about to conquer Hollywood.

(WK Reax: It’s one of those trailers where by the time it’s over, you feel like you’ve seen the movie.)

Sheamus jumped in afterward and asked what the story is. He said Barrett obviously isn’t the star of that movie, his friend Colin Farrell is. He said it’s a brilliant film, mainly because he doesn’t speak a word in it. Sheamus said they were now out of time. Barrett whined that Shemaus ruined his special moment.

(WK Reax: That was awkward. I was expecting Barrett to throw a fit because the trailer didn’t show him at all, and instead he was all smiles and seemed okay with it. The Sheamus humor, as often is the case, fell flat.)

-They went to Cole and Lawler who played with new action figures that move and fight each other.

[Q6] (4) Brodus Clay & Tensai & Naomi (w/Cameron) beat Epico & Primo & Rosa Mendez in 2:00. Primo and Epico’s music interrupted Clay and Tensai dancing their way to the ring. Tensai and Clay double splashed Primo for a quick and easy win.

(Quotebook - Jerry Lawler: “You know what kind of music Tensai likes to listen to, don’t you? Wok & Roll!”)

Tensai and Clay then danced. Cole called them the “Dancing Bears.” Lawler asked the WWE Universe to Tweet what that looks like to them.

-Cole and Lawler threw to the press conference earlier in the day where WWE announced that the SuperDome in New Orleans, La. will host WrestleMania 30 on Apr. 6, 2014. Vince McMahon was present and said there is no town that represents a celebration like New Orleans. They showed Stephanie, The Rock, and Cena speaking about it. Cena promised a celebration “worthy of this great city.” [c]

-A commercial for Smackdown advertised that they’d reveal who won the World Title match.

(WK Reax: Oh man, they’re making us all wait until Friday to find out!?) [c]

-They showed a picture of Harry S. Truman and the quote: “The Buck Stops Here.”

-Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter stood in the ring behind a podium. Swagger said last night is what happens when you live with dignity, respect, and patriotism. He said last night he not only conquered the Elimination Chamber, but put the weight of the nation on his and Zeb’s shoulders. They showed Ricardo and Del Rio watching on a monitor backstage. Swagger said tonight is about the State of the Union, and only one man is wise and brave and honest enough to deliver it, Zeb Colter, a great man and a great American.

(WK Reax: Zeb is hitting the right tone with this gimmick, whether you like it or not. He totally fits the part he’s playing.)

Zeb said the people may not like his opinion, but exercising their First Amendment Rights is what Real Americans do. He said, “The state of our union is pathetic.” He then blamed the millions of people living in the U.S. illegally. He said the World Title match at WrestleMania is more than a title match, it’s a battle for the heart and soul of this country. “On one side you have a patriot, a real American by the name of Jack Swagger.” He then made fun of Del Rio’s name and said he only came to this country to “reap the rewards of our mother land.” He predicted that Swagger will accomplish two goals - win the World Hvt. Title and reclaim America. Swagger closed by yelling over and over “We the People! We the People!”

Then Bryan’s entrance began. Lawler said those are pretty inflammatory remarks disguised as a state of the union address. Cole said they were using their First Amendment Rights to their fullest tonight.

[Q7] [c] (5) Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) beat Daniel Bryan in 9:00. They joined the match in progress after the break. Cole and Lawler joked about who was sending fan mail to Zeb and Swagger. Lawler said Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Cole said Alex Jones.

(WK Reax: I’m still trying to figure out what Vince McMahon is up to here. As a Republican supporter, is he trying to take out his frustration with the party as it relates to supporting his wife for her Senate campaign by making fun of the bigger figures who say similar things as Zeb? Is he trying to help the Republican party by portraying the “far right” as “nut jobs” who are worthy of booing? Is he trying to attract fans to come out and cheer Zeb, going against the announcers reacting to them as extremists. I’m not sure at all right now.)

At 6:00 Bryan dove through the ropes at Swagger. Lawler called it a “goat-like headbutt.” Then he landed a top rope dropkick for a near fall. Bryan threw a series of roundkicks, but Swagger eventually blocked one and powerslammed him on his taped ribs. Bryan went for a sudden No Lock. Swagger put his foot over the bottom rope to force a break. Bryan charged the corner, but Swagger moved. Swagger then worked on Bryan’s leg and then applied the Patriot Lock for the win.

-They showed Heyman sauntering toward the entrance tunnel to find out Vickie’s surprise. [c]

[Q8] -The WrestleMania 29 video aired. It’s 48 days away.

-Vickie stood in the ring with Heyman pacing behind her. She said, of course, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” She said her announcement could change his career and his life. He said, “Then get to it.” She said she would be naming a new assistant for herself. She announced that the assistant to the managing supervisor of Monday Night Raw is Brad Maddox. He walked out and said this is a reward for his loyalty and services to the company. As Vickie and Maddox tried to get their titles for him to match precisely, Heyman asked, “Is this my cue to vomit. I mean, come on!” Heyman said he doesn’t care what either of them have to say. As he was about to leave, Vince McMahon appeared on the TitanTron.

McMahon said that’s not Heyman’s surprise. Heyman said, “And what a pleasant surprise it is.” He then said McMahon looks fantastic. McMahon told him to close his mouth because when it’s open, he’s lying. McMahon asked him about the agreement they made last week regarding a special added stip for Punk’s rematch against Rock. Heyman said out of the goodness of his heart, he granted them the special stip. McMahon told Heyman everyone knows he doesn’t have a heart, but if he did it would be black and cold.

A replay aired of Heyman saying he’d give anything if he granted him his stipulation. Heyman said when he’s confronted with the videotape, of course he’ll tell the truth. McMahon said he’s incapable of telling the truth. McMahon said he could fire him right now. He said firing him is too good for him. He said he’s only two weeks removed from hip surgery thanks to him and Lesnar. As Heyman began to stammer, McMahon told him, “Shut your mouth.” McMahon said next week he’ll walk to the ring on crutches and they will have a fight. Heyman dropped the mic in fear. McMahon leaned into the camera lens as Heyman rubbed his face with concern. Lawler said Heyman shouldn’t look so scared because it really will be a handicapped fight since McMahon is only three weeks removed from hip surgery.

-Lawler plugged the six-man tag main event. [c]

-WWE Fact: WWE Raw last Monday was watched by more viewers than both College Basketball games on ESPN combined. (PWTorch Fact: More people will listen to Jason Powell and me discuss Raw on the Tuesday PWTorch Livecast than attended Raw in person this week.)

-They replayed Cena challenging Punk to a match this week, and Punk punting to next week.

[Q9] (6) The Shield beat Ryback & Sheamus & Chris Jericho in 15:00. Ryback opened the match and was uncontrollable as he threw Seth Rollins into the corner and charged shoulder-first into him over and over as the ref warned him to back off. Jericho told Ryback, “You gotta follow the rules, man.” Jericho tagged in against Dean Ambrose next. Cole said Ambrose is slightly off, fearless, and unpredictable. Ambrose caught Jericho with a knee to the gut and then slapped him. Jericho fought back and then tagged in Sheamus. Ambrose rolled to his corner and tagged in Roman Reigns. Sheamus got the better of Reigns including delivering White Noise, then set up a Brogue Kick at 4:00. As he pounded his chest, Rollins yanked Reigns to the floor. So Sheamus knocked Ambrose off the ring apron with a Brogue Kick. They cut to a break as The Shield regrouped at ringside. [c]

Back live The Shield had regained control, with Reigns having Sheamus grounded. Rollins tagged in and they picked up the pace of their offense, with Cole noting the frantic action. At 9:00 Sheamus kicked Reigns and took him down with a clothesline. He then crawled to his corner and tagged Ryback. Ryback charged in and intensely went after Rollins. A loud “Feed me more!” chant broke out. Ryback gave him a Meat Hook, then lifted him for Shell Shock. As Ambrose and Jericho distracted the ref, Reigns charged in and speared Ryback. Rollins landed on top of Ryback. Ryback kicked out with such force, Rollins flew into the ref as he was counting.

[Q10] Lawler said the way the Shield wrestle, it’s like there’s three of them in the ring at one time. Ryback took a beating for a few minutes, but then hot-tagged Jericho at 14:00. Jericho and Ambrose battled back and forth at a high pace as Reigns and Ryback brawled at ringside. Jericho put the Walls of Jericho on Ambrose. Sheamus cut off Reigns as he tried to interfere. Rollins, though, leaped off the top rope with a flying knee to Jericho’s skull. Ambrose made the cover and the ref counted to three. Cole wondered if there was any way to stop them. [c]

-They showed a portrait of President Kennedy with his quote underneath: “Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

-Damien Sandow walked to the ring and lectured the fans about Presidents Day. He said it is common knowledge that several members of the Sandow family served as personal advisors to the President. He said one came up with the concept of the New Deal which propelled President Roosevelt to greatness. He asked the nitwits in the crowd to remain silent and allow him to save them from the doldrums of their won self-imposed ignorance. “You’re welcome,” he concluded.

(7) Damien Sandow vs. Kofi Kingston. Sandow jumped Kofi before the bell and before he took his robe off. Sandow beat and stomped on Kingston, then threw him into the ringpost. As he drove knee after knee into Kofi’s chin, R-Truth charged out and made the save. Truth clotheslined Sandow over the top rope. Sandow retreated as Kofi thanked Truth in the ring.

-Josh Mathews interviewed Rock’s co-stars in the latest G.I. Joe movie, D.J. Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki. Josh then threw to brief highlights from the movie.

[Q7] [c] -A Fandango vignette aired.

-As Orton made his entrance, Cole plugged tickets going on sale for Extreme Rules. Lawler said he can’t wait for Fandango to get to WWE. Cole said maybe he can get some dancing lessons because his wife is always upset that he doesn’t dance well.

(8) Randy Orton pinned Kane in 8:00. At 1:00 Kane knocked Orton off the top rope with an uppercut, then they cut to a very early break. [c]

They fought back and forth after the break. Kane blocked a second rope DDT at 8:00. Kane signaled for the chokeslam, but Bryan walked out and distracted him. Orton then hit the RKO for the win. Lawler said Bryan came out to distract his partner.

[Q12] [c] -They had a marching band on the stage from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. As they played, Lawler chuckled and said, “What in the world?” They marched down the ramp and lined up on either side of it. Then Rock’s music kicked in and the band played along to his song. He carried the gaudy spinner belt (not spinning anymore) with him.

After soaking up some “Rocky!” chants, Rock took the mic and addressed Punk immediately. He said when Punk spit in his face, he showed the world what a walking piece of human garbage he is. He said two PPVs in a row, he beat his ass 1-2-3. He then went into his schtick and said, “Finally, the Rock has come back to Lafayette!” More “Rocky!” chants.

He said he’s going to WrestleMania as WWE Champion, but he’s not going with “this.” He held out the WWE belt. He said he was born in this business and has deep respect for the WWE Championship. He said when that title belt was unveiled eight years ago by “a certain WWE Superstar, one of the greatest of all-time,” he said it worked. He said some people thought the title was cool. He said there were also some people who believe in Bigfoot. He said the bottom line, to him, the WWE Title should “never look like a toy” and it should “never, ever spin.” He handed it to a worker at ringside and told him to bring it to the back and make sure it goes to the Hall of Fame.

He said when you see the WWE Title, whether you’re a fan watching for the first time or a Superstar competing for it, it should inspire you and it should be worthy to be worn around the waste of the great men who wore in the past who paved the way. He mentioned Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

(WK Reax: Each wrestler got a bigger pop than the previous name. Bret getting a bigger pop than Hulk will be something he will make note of. Hogan will be bothered by that, too, I suspect.)

He then unveiled the new WWE Championship which was under a red cloth on a table mid-ring. It was still pretty bling-y with a big “W” logo in the middle and “Champion” written underneath it. The side panels had Brahma Bulls. He said he wanted to create something that was timeless, prestigious, and “beyond all else, we have to make something that’s just flat out badass.” He put the belt over his shoulder.

(WK Reax: Thumbs up overall, but the Brahma Bull on the side makes it “Rock’s Belt” instead of “WWE’s Belt.” I can understand a nameplate, which is easily and clearly something that can be interchanged, but the Brahma Bull on the side panels doesn’t make that belt seem “timeless” at all. Let’s get one belt that looks great, truly is timeless, and one generation after another can have as a representation of the current top champion. And then in 15 years the champion will be wearing the same belt Rock was wearing and Cena wore and Punk wore, etc.)

[Q13] He asked the crowd whom they think he will face at WrestleMania - Punk or Cena. He said there is one man who brings out the very best in The Rock. He said for professional and personal reasons, that man is… and before he could say it, John Cena’s music interrupted.

Cena walked onto the stage. Before he could say anything, Punk hit him from behind with the old spinner belt (that feels good to type). With Cena down, Punk just stared at Rock. Rock stared back. Punk walked away. The show ended there.

Notes from First WrestleMania Season Raw

*For my money, the best part of Monday’s first WrestleMania season Raw was the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Marching Band’s percussion section adding some live bottom to the Rock’s evergreen theme.

*When the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view was over, considering WWE made a big point of showing C.M. Punk pinning The Rock for several seconds in the main event, I thought maybe they were wavering in their determination to carry through with their long-planned WrestleMania plans. Then when Raw started and C.M. Punk went out there and made the case why nobody wanted to see that rerun right there on their own television, I thought they really might make the ‘Mania main a three-way match.

Then, when John Cena put up his Golden Ticket to WrestleMania against C.M. Punk shutting up and going away in a match on Raw, a match they would actually build up over the course of a whole week, I thought Cena beats Punk when the shadow of the Undertaker either does or doesn’t fall across The Just About Best in The World, so they’re sticking with those long held plans after all.

But, when C.M. Punk smacked John Cena from behind with the old spinner belt at the end of Raw, and the Rock looked at Punk like he still had unfinished business with the guy, I though they might be back to that three-way thing again.

*Who the hell knows?

*Okay, they’re clearly just teasing the Paul Heyman guys. The Rock is defending the WWE Championship against John Cena in the Rematch of the Century.

*Speaking of the WWE Championship, I never was one of those fans who made a fetish of wrestling belts so I couldn’t tell you much about how the championships looked over the years, or which looked “cool” or why. As long as they looked like a belt a championship boxer might wear I didn’t much care. I even thought the spinner belt was a good idea in that WWE could sell replicas to kids who would spin the WWE belt until it inevitable broke. I wasn’t surprised that Dwayne Johnson chose to replace it in favor of his own design, since he’s clearly been running a pro wrestling fantasy camp for himself this go-round. I liked how he put over the great champions of the past, and the belt itself looked fine. Then I saw the Brahma Bull isignia on the sides. That’s not right, whether it’s the Rock or Jeff Hardy. The world Championship is bigger than even the movie star, or the creatures of the night., or at least the people on their TV show should act like it.

*And speaking of fetishes, Dancing Bears aren’t PG.

*At this point, it’s clear that the Shield is something special. That the act came in fully formed, and not only is working with the top acts but beating them, is something unique in this era of WWE sports entertainment. That the act has room to grow, and in several different directions, make things even better.

*I saw that We The People got some play rom the chattering conservatiove classes, they type that pretend to be offended easily, I mean, are stalwart defenders of American values. Jack Swagger and Zeb Coulter have the cable access nut job perfomance and production values down cold, well, except where I’m from, whatever side of the marginalized political spectrum these types stand on, they usually have the title Reverend before their name. Coulter has the pace and syntax down.

The only problem is (well, not the only problem – another problem is this trick never works, then there’s that thing that it’s pretty low rent for a self-loathing multi-national corporation) when Coulter is out there giving the you-kow-whos what-for the crowd acts like it’s hearing. “across our borders blah blah blah blah blah blah I thought I was at the wrestling show.”

(Bruce Mitchell has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Monday night in the hour before Raw with Travis Bryant. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller is a VIP audio staple for years. His column archives dating back to 1990 are available in the Bruce Mitchell Library at the PWTorch VIP website.)

Would Abraham Lincoln have made a good WWE Superstar?

With President’s Day weekend just in the rear-view mirror, and with the prominent position Abraham Lincoln has taken in entertainment of late (with the success and popularity of the Oscar-nominated movie “Lincoln,” as well as the Doris Kearns Goodwin book that spawned it, “Team of Rivals,” and the upcoming National Geographic film, “Killing Lincoln”), I thought it would be of worth to delve into the connection between pro wrestling and the presidency: Abraham Lincoln, the wrestler.

Many people know that Mr. Lincoln wrestled, but few know to what extent, or know any of the details surrounding his fights. Certainly, what is considered “wrestling” back then likely looked a lot different than the wrestling that is presented today.

In an account published in 1904 in the Transactions of the Illinois Historical Society, Col. Risdon M. Moore gave a second-hand account of a Lincoln fight, one that took place in 1832. In the account, the row was not termed a “fight,” but rather, a “wrestling match.” The difference between the two, if there is one, wasn’t made clear.

The battle developed over a campground in which two volunteer companies arrived at the same time, neither wanting to cede the precious land. It was suggested the captains of the two companies wrestle for the spot; Mr. Lincoln, as captain, obliged, but the uncle of Moore, the leader of the other group, declined. Another man was volunteered for the position, that being a Mr. Dow Thompson.

The match was termed a “two best in three,” which would likely translate to a two-out-of-three falls match that we are familiar with today. Risdon Moore talked to Mr. Lincoln about his fight, and the story also contains quotes from Mr. Lincoln on his “wrassle” (a phrase used in the article, thus pre-dating the assumed Southern pronunciation of “wrestle” of which Vince McMahon has long made fun).

To start the fight, each man was to choose a hold. Dow Thompson went first, choosing a side-hold. Mr. Lincoln, who had claimed he had never been “thrown” at this point, was in fact thrown by Thompson. Mr. Lincoln even offered up some trash talk, vowing that “now it’s your turn to go down.” Lincoln’s chosen hold was referred to as an Indian Hug. It would be easy to draw parallels to today’s bear hug, but without the details of the hold, it would only be speculation.

Once again, Lincoln was thrown, “almost as easily at my hold as at his own”. The story ends there, and we can assume that it was one of Mr. Lincoln’s first losses, having never been “dusted” (or “thrown”) previously. At this time, Mr. Lincoln was 23 years old, likely at or nearing his prime as a wrestler, and 15 years away from holding his first federal office.

A 1995 Sports Illustrated article shed more light on Mr. Lincoln’s escapades prior to his presidency. In the early 1830s, during Lincoln’s time on the frontier, he fended off the challenges of many newcomers to the area who wanted to prove themselves as the toughest. The tall, lithe Lincoln was often the target of those newcomers.

The Sports Illustrated article described Lincoln’s wrestling matches as a brawling, “catch-as-catch-can” style. As a matter of pride, each county served up their own “champion” to square off against other counties. Lincoln represented his county often in these tournaments, and was just as often the victor.

Mr. Lincoln may have been famous as the “catch-as-catch-can” style, but other presidents also wrestled, amateur-style. The list provided by Sports Illustrated includes George Washington (in the “collar-and-elbow” style, much like a lock-up of today), William Taft (who wrestled collegiately at Yale), Andrew Jackson, Zachary Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, and Theodore Roosevelt (who wrestled to stay fit as Governor of New York).

Mr. Lincoln’s most famous fight took place one year before his loss to Dow Thompson. Shortly after arriving in Illinois, he had a run-in with a group of local toughs called the Clary’s Grove Boys. They had a reputation as accomplished fighters, with a man named Jack Armstrong leading the way.

The details of the fight, compiled by Roger Norton at the Abraham Lincoln Research Site, are as follows: Armstrong made the challenge after Lincoln’s shopkeeper boasted of Lincoln’s wrestling prowess. The entire town showed up for the fight, with bets flying fast and furious. Armstrong had the experience edge, while Mr. Lincoln had the size.

This fight seemed less structured than the one with Dow Thompson. The battle began with a stalemate, but soon after, Mr. Lincoln got the upper hand. Armstrong was throttled to the point that the other members of his group seemed poised to get involved. Mr. Lincoln saw this, and challenged each one of them. Classic wrestling booking: The lone babyface standing tall, even when outnumbered by the heel group.

Armstrong was so impressed with Mr. Lincoln’s toughness that the rivals shook hands after the bout. Armstrong and Mr. Lincoln became good friends, leaving Armstrong and his group’s babyface turn complete.

On his web page, Roger Norton acknowledged that this is not the only version of the fight that has been told, with one being that the match ended in a draw. Some other tales of this fight have Armstrong becoming frustrated and stepping on Mr. Lincoln’s foot or tripping him, causing the future President to become enraged. Because this story was most likely handed down by word-of-mouth, and few written records likely exist of the fight, there are bound to be different interpretations of what actually occurred.

Mr. Lincoln’s strength, on display in his fight with Jack Armstrong, came about thanks to the exploits of his youth. His father, a demanding man, required a young Abe to chop copious amounts of wood. This built Mr. Lincoln’s upper-body strength and that, along with his size advantage, gave him the ability to knock many men off their feet.

While Mr. Lincoln’s father contributed indirectly to his success as a wrestler, his mother was a notorious grappler herself. In an interview with, “Lincoln’s Battle” author Stephen Mansfield described Mr. Lincoln’s mother as “the best wrestler in Kentucky.”

His power was not contained simply to wrestling, but to other strong-man feats as well. Lifting and throwing items of substantial weight became part of Mr. Lincoln’s impressive CV. Mr. Lincoln’s biographer and law partner, William Herndon, wrote of many of his exhibitions. One was another wrestling match in a part of Illinois in which Mr. Lincoln did not stay for long. He did stay long enough, however, to defeat another local opponent, Daniel Needman, and did so with ease.

In November, interviewed Lincoln biographer Ronald C. White Jr. on the topic of the President’s grappling career. It’s worth a read if you can get past the near-blaspheming picture of Mr. Lincoln’s head Photoshopped on a body wearing a singlet, WWE Championship slung over his shoulder.

Mr. Lincoln’s match with Jack Armstrong is mentioned in just about every place in which his wrestling history is discussed, and the article is no exception. White added to Mr. Lincoln’s lore by noting that a year after the fight with Armstrong, he ran for a seat in the Illinois legislature. He didn’t win, but came close. He finished second out of 14 in the balloting two years later with four seats on the line. So, in effect, the fame he garnered as a wrestler helped get his name out when it came time to run for office, thus contributing somewhat to his success in that area.

Was Abraham Lincoln a wrestler? Yes. Was he a professional wrestler? Not as we know the term today. But what if Mr. Lincoln were around today? What kind of WWE Superstar would he make? At first blush, Mr. Lincoln’s size and strength would make him an attractive option to Vince McMahon, who has long valued those variables as much as any other trait.

The one downside to Mr. Lincoln would be his look. He was not a particularly photogenic man, and certainly isn’t someone I could picture as being “the face of WWE.” That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be room on the roster for him. His promo ability would also be a positive. He did not seem to be one to raise his voice often, so I could see him as a Jake “The Snake” Roberts-type promo: Very calm, cool, collected, and intelligent.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is one of the most beloved Presidents and people in U.S. history. His ability as a wrestler helped forge the man he would become as leader of this country. It’s hard to imagine anyone with a similar background rising up to the rank of President today. But hey, maybe it’s not too late to wave the banner of Jesse Ventura in 2016? The most important question of a Ventura campaign just may be: “Who would win in a wrestling match, you or Abraham Lincoln?”

(Greg Parks writes a weekly column for the PWTorch Newsletter and has been covering WWE Smackdown for since January of 2007. He also writes VIP blogs, cohosts the PWTorch Livecast on Thursdays, and is part of the Gonzo & The Greg VIP Audio Show every weekend. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks for live Tweeting during Raw, Impact, and PPVs. Comments, questions and feedback are welcome:


FEBRUARY 15, 2013

[Q1] -A video recap aired of the latest between C.M. Punk and Rock, plus hype for the Mark Henry-Randy Orton rematch on this show.

-After the new Smackdown opening, the host city was briefly put on the screen, but because it’s not a glamour city, Josh Mathews of course didn’t mention it aloud.

-The Big Show walked out to start the show. They aired clips of Show being humiliated by Alberto Del Rio last week. “I suppose you all think that’s funny, don’t you?” Show began. He said he hopes the fans are happy because as a result three innocent people felt his wrath on Raw earlier in the week. He said Del Rio has never pinned him. He began yelling and said the rage inside of him will be uncorked at Elimination Chamber.

Chris Jericho interrupted. As he walked to the ring, they went to Mathews and JBL at ringside who talked about the Elimination Chamber match and structure. Jericho told Show that he’s known him for 16 years and he can read him like a book. He said he knows what he’s feeling right now. Show said he’s not in the mood for his crap and asked what he’s doing there. He said shouldn’t he be writing another book, touring with Fozzy, or hosting some robot fighting show.

Jericho then plugged his robot fighting show, then shifted to saying he’s feeling better than ever and it’s great to be in WWE. He said he can sense Show feels doubt about Del Rio, but then gave him a pep talk saying he’s the biggest force in the company. He shifted to taking about himself, saying he’s been in more EC matches than anyone on the planet, and they both win, they’ll face each other at WrestleMania. He said he will become the new World Hvt. Champion at WM29 if that match happens.

Show patiently listened, then told Jericho that they have been through a lot together. He said if he wins the Chamber match and goes to WM29, and if he’s the World Champion, it’ll be the last WrestleMania appearance of his career. He told him to get out of his face before he doesn’t make it to the EC. Booker T then interrupted.

Booker said they’re talking about a match that might never happen, so how about they make it happen tonight.

(WK Reax: They did a nice job here presenting an idea of a match being possible for WrestleMania, only to deliver it on TV. It made the TV main event seem like a bigger deal than it otherwise would have because they gave viewers a few minutes to imagine it being a top WM29 match. It also played out a scenario that could play out at EC that gave fans a reason to believe both Jericho and Show were candidates to win their respective PPV matches.)

-Matt Striker interviewed Randy Orton backstage about facing Mark Henry again. Orton just stared off camera, and then Henry walked up to him. They had an intense staredown. Henry’s music played and he turned to head to the ring.

(WK Reax: Sometimes the best way to hype a fight is to have the two fighters stare at each and say nothing. That worked here.) [c]

[Q2] (1) Mark Henry beat Randy Orton via DQ in 11:00. JBL said Orton got man-handled last time he was in the ring with Henry. Mathews disagreed with that description. Orton took Henry down early. A minute later Henry knocked Orton out of the ring. They cut to a break at 3:00. [c]

Back from the break Henry gave Orton a running powerslam for a two count. Henry followed up with headbutts. Orton came back with a clothesline, but Henry countered with one of his own. A bit of an awkward exchange there. At 9:00 Orton gave Henry a DDT off the second rope. He then played to the crowd and signaled for the RKO. Henry blocked the RKO and knocked Henry to the floor with his forearms. They fought at ringside. Orton grabbed a chair and jabbed Henry in the gut. The ref DQ’d Orton.

-Back in the ring after the DQ, Orton hit Henry across the back with it. Henry blocked the next swing and then gave Orton the World’s Strongest Slam. JBL said he can’t wait to stick those two in the Elimination Chamber to see what happens.

(WK Reax: This week and last week, Henry getting the better of Orton - including pinning him last week - is part of elevating Henry to a top tier heel status. Orton protected himself enough here while passing some credibility to Henry along the way.)

-Mathews plugged The Rock coming up later.

[Q3] [c] -WWE Fact: WWE’s Twitter Network has over 40 million followers led by The Rock with 4 million-plus.

-They replayed highlights of Orton-Henry.

-Backstage Henry scared Striker as he said the Army, Navy, and Marines won’t be enough to stop him at the Elimination Chamber.

-Mathews plugged the John Cena & Sheamus & Ryback vs. Shield match, then threw to a video by The Shield hyping what they planned to do at the EC PPV.

-Layla’s ring entrance took place. [c]

-Another Fandango vignette aired.

[Q4] (2) Tamina Snuka beat Layla in 4:00. Layla got the crowd clapping at the start. Layla landed poorly on a dive off the ring apron toward Tamina when Tamina yanked the ring apron up to block her. JBL said he wasn’t sure he had ever seen that counter before, but called it effective. Mathews thanked JBL for the Happy Valentine’s text he went to him. JBL said, “That did not happen… I have a wife, okay?” Tamina settled in a chinlock mid-ring at 2:00. They showed Kaitlyn watching on a monitor backstage. Tamina finished Layla with a top rope splash. Layla got in almost zero offense.

-Mathews plugged Show vs. Jericho coming up later. Then they threw to a clip of The Rock-C.M. Punk confrontation on Raw. [c]

-Rock made his full ring entrance and absorbed the cheers of the fans. Then he said, “Let The Rock make something perfectly clear to C.M. Punk.” He didn’t say, “Finally, The Rock has come back to Little Rock.”

(WK Reax: Is WWE that ashamed of being in Little Rock, Arkansas that they won’t say it at the start of the show nor let Rock use his catch phrase and mention the state or city?)

He said Punk is going to get a huge ass kicking on Sunday. He said he’ll treat him like the spoiled little boy that he is. He said he loses his toy and runs his mouth and tries to steal it back. He said Rock isn’t a spoiled little boy, he’s a man. He said it took him ten long years to win that title back, but it’ll take just one night for him to make sure he never touches it again.

[Q5] -Punk and Paul Heyman broke in on the TitanTron holding the WWE Title belt. Punk said “Little Rock”! He accused Rock of throwing a tantrum. He said his blood is clearly boiling and he’s obviously angry. He said he’s going to give him a beating and he wants him to, because that will get his disqualified. He said that will mean he wins, just like he did at the Royal Rumble. He said he will let him beat himself at EC.

Rock said Punk talks a big game, but his words are useless. He said Punk failed to stop him at the Rumble. He said even after Punk and Heyman paid the Shield to put him through a table, at the end of the night at the Rumble, “You… got… beat.” He said this Monday morning he’s going to wake up, and it’ll hit him like a ton of bricks, he failed and couldn’t get the job done. He told him to go home and think about what any spoiled brat punk kid should do. He said he’s going on to WrestleMania as the WWE Champion, “If you smell what The Rock is cooking.” He said his closing catchphrase more deliberately and more seriously than in the past.

(WK Reax: It’s interesting to see Rock’s approach to this promo - no bombastic showmanship, just a dead-serious delivery. It might let some fans down, but I like it because it takes out of the realm of being a special attraction giving you a “Best of Rock” style promo and puts him in the category of a champion who’s serious about defending his title.) [c]

(3) Brodus Clay & Tensai beat Heath Slater & Jinder Mahal (w/Drew McIntyre) in 2:00. Slater did an intentionally obnoxious dance bit as he faced Tensai at the start of the match. When Tensai began to dance, Slater jumped him. Tensai made a comeback. Drew distracted him, giving Slater a chance to tag in Mahal. Slater and Mahal double-teamed Tensai. Tensai caught Mahal and then spinning slammed him. They weren’t on the same page as Tensai landed on the side of Mahal’s knees. He was fine, but it looked like it could have been bad. Clay tagged in and danced around. Mathews said he’s doing his thing and walking a fine line of having fun while also being effective. Clay finished Mahal with a running splash.

-After the match, as Clay and Tensai danced, JBL said, “It’s like The Natural Disasters crossed with Club MTV.” Then the Shield’s music played and they walked to the ring through the crowd. They jumped Tensai and Clay and beat them down. Then the finished Clay with a triple power bomb. Dean Ambrose cut a mid-ring promo about what The Shield will do at Elimination Chamber.

(WK Reax 3MB have turned into a very effective heat-generating mid-card tag team act that can be entertaining as they job to bigger stars on TV.)

[Q6] [c] (4) The Miz beat Cody Rhodes via tapout in 4:00. They aired clips of Cesaro swinging Miz into the ringside barrier, then said he suffered an AC joint sprain and contusion, but should be 100 percent by Sunday’s PPV. JBL said he doesn’t believe Miz will be 100 percent by Sunday. Rhodes went after the shoulder early in the match.

JBL said he has respect for Miz taking the match, even though he thinks he should taken the night off, especially 48 hours before facing U.S. Champion Antonio Cesaro. Best exchange was when Mathews gave credit to Rhodes for scouting Miz, and JBL said in response: “What scouting? He’s got a freakin’ huge bandage on his shoulder.” Despite being dominated, Miz scored a tap out win with a sudden figure-four leg lock after catching Cody in mid-air.

(WK Reax: Made sense to give Miz a win going into his U.S. Title match at the PPV two days later. Cody is probably jobbing so often now on TV, though, that it’s really working against his credibility, although WWE has confidence they can decide to push someone and make it work, as they’ve done with Mark Henry, Big Show, and Jack Swagger, among others currently getting big pushes who were once jobbed out on TV for a stretch of time.) [c]

[Q7] -WWE Fact: WWE has surpassed 1 million YouTube subscribers, more than HBO, Apple, Playstation, UFC, ESPN, Lady Gaga, and your cat.

(5) Jack Swagger (w/Zeb Colter) beat Zack Ryder in 3:00. Swagger just dominated. Mathews wondered if Swagger, with Zeb by his side, is a candidate to win the Chamber. Swagger won with the Patriot Act. JBL said he’s known Colter for a long time and he’s going to give Swagger an edge he’s never had before.

-Afterward Colter and Swagger stood in the ring. Swagger introduced Colter as “a native a great American.” He said while all men are created equal, the choices you make after that define who you are. He said Ryder cares more about his hair and his tan than the country he lives in. He said the country is broken, but Swagger is a great man and a great patriot and a real, real American who knows how to fix it. He closed with, “Remember, We the People!” [c]

-Mathews plugged the Elimination Chamber theme song, “The Crazy Ones” by Stellar Revival.

-A video package aired on the Chamber match history and rules.

-Striker interviewed Del Rio and Ricardo backstage. Del Rio asked Ricardo if Show looked like a gigantic punk last week along with a few other softball questions. Ricardo answered si each time. He finally asked if he will beat Big Show on Sunday and go to WrestleMania as World Hvt. Champion. Ricardo said, “Si si si si si…”

[Q8] -The Big Show’s ring entrance took place. [c]

-Chris Jericho’s full ring entrance began with just one minutes left in the show, leaving little time for the actual main event match.

(6) The Big Show pinned Chris Jericho in 7:00. Show opened with a headbutt that sent Jericho tumbling to the floor. JBL said Booker T is the best general manager in all of sports. Back in the ring Jericho landed a springboard dropkick to knock Show off the ring apron. Then he played to the crowd before going after Show at ringside. Show, though, immediately tossed him over the announce table. Back in the ring Show slapped his chest. Jericho chopped back, but Show didn’t flinch.

Show body slammed Jericho, dragged him near the corner, and then climbed to the second rope. Jericho got up and made a comeback. JBL said this could be the WrestleMania main event. Show speared Jericho out of mid-air, then set up the chokeslam. Jericho elbowed himself free, but Show came back with a chokeslam seconds later anyway. Jericho tumbled to ringside again.

Show yanked Jericho up by his arm at ringside and threw him back into the ring. Show stood on the top rope and then leaped at Jericho with an elbow. Jericho moved and then immediately landed a Lionsault for a two count. Jericho went for a Code Breaker, but Show countered. Jericho then countered with a DDT for a two count. Jericho then went for a Walls of Jericho. He nearly rolled Show over, but Show powered out. Show then surprised Jericho with a KO punch as Jericho charged at him. That was good for the three count.

(WK Reax: Not a lot of crowd heat here. Not sure why they didn’t add more in post-production, since they do that for other matches. Good big man/small man match, with Jericho working believably against Show.)

-After the match Del Rio and Ricardo stepped onto the stage and had a show-closing staredown with Show who was still in the ring as his music played.

FEBRUARY 7, 2013

[Q1] -A clip aired of recent Aces & Eights including last week’s turn of Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco against Kurt Angle.

-Todd Keneley introduced the show as the camera panned the large crowd in Manchester.

-As Aces & Eights walked to the ring, Mike Tenay asked Taz why Garett and Wes would join Aces & Eights. Taz said he should come to their meetings some time and see for himself. When Tenay began to turn down the offer, Taz interrupted and said he’s not invited anyway. Devon threw to a video package on the relationship between Angle and Wes & Garett. Wes had his hair down again this week and looked very pleased with himself. Devon formally introduced Garett and Wes as the newest official members of Aces & Eights.

Garett absorbed the crowd’s boos, then said, “To hell with all of you, this is my new family. My loyalty and respect lies with the Aces & Eights.” Wes said he turned because of Hulk Hogan. He said he didn’t return his phone calls for two years, then said he had to start from the bottom and work his way up. “A Brisco, from the bottom?” he said. He asked Hogan who gave him his first pair of wrestling boots. He said it was his father, yet he made him wrestle in a Gut Check match. He said joining Aces & Eights is his ticket to the top. Devon told Angle not to dare to think about coming back to TNA. He said they will always “have an ace up their sleeve.” Taz laughed and said he loves it.

(WK Reax: Wes is actually vastly better cast in this role. It’s a natural fit and he seems to have unleashed some charisma that could draw, in the sense that I think viewers will take great satisfaction in seeing him take a beating.)

-Backstage Tara asked Jesse if he got ahold of someone. He said, “I sent her a message on MySpace, everything will be fine.” He then called her peanut butter cup. They walked into Brooke Hogan’s office. Tara complained about being flown on coach and that the backstage area was too cold. Jesse said, “Tom, Denzel, Arnold, none of those people would be happy with your seat choices for us now.” Brooke said they have to be kidding. She asked if they have any idea what she’s been dealing with lately. Tara said she didn’t get her beauty sleep, her muscles haven’t recovered yet, and she hasn’t gotten a much needed massage. Brooke said she has to wrestle and Jesse was banned. Jesse said he flew all the way to England, so what is he to do. She said get her coffee.

(WK Reax: I’m still a fan of Tara and Jesse as a duo. They’re all in with they’re delusional Hollywood celebrity act.) [c…]

[Q2] […c] (1) Rob Van Dam beat Kenny King and Zema Ion in 6:00 in a three-way to retain the X Division Title. King dove at RVD at ringside. Then Zema did a flip dive at both RVD and King at ringside. King took some impact, but Zema barely grazed RVD. Zema did have a perfect landing, though, and posed afterward like he was trying to impress the Russian judges.

(WK Reax: The key for Zema to get over as a heel, since he’s so athletic and flashy, is to overreact to how great an athlete he is and expect tons of admiration and adulation for everything he does. So posting after that flip like that is a key to getting that heat every heel should strive for.)

Keneley hyped that TNA President Dixie Carter would make another big announcement during the Bellator Fighting Championship event after Impact.

The announcers also hyped the Impact debut in Chicago in mid-match. In the end, King had Zema bridged after a Northern Lights Suplex, but RVD splashed King and “stole the pin” on Zema.

-Backstage Robert Roode and Austin Aries talked about how they will become World Tag Team Champions tonight. They bickered, though, as Roode bragged about being a longer-reining World Champion last year. Aries said what matters most is that when they capture all of the gold, everyone will follow their lead. They ended on a note of unity. [c]

-Tenay threw to a video package on the new British Boot Camp reality TV show. They showed Dixie name Rock Star Spud as the winner.

[Q3] -Clips aired of Garett and Wes explaining earlier their decision to join Aces & Eights.

-They went backstage to the roving reporter eaves dropping on a discussion between Bruce Prichard and D-Lo Brown. Prichard said Wes was the last person he’d expect to do what he did. D-Lo said he’s seen this from others, but he’d never expect it from Wes and Garett. Prichard said despite Garett’s last name, they bent over backwards to make him feel comfortable. Prichard said when Angle comes back, there will be hell to pay. He said they are responsible for him being in TNA. [c]

-Jesse stood mid-ring and said he’s sad to say that Brooke has banned him from ringside from his girlfriend’s match tonight. He said he will give the fans what they paid their hard-earned money for, a chance to see a true Hollywood star because, “quite frankly, who do you guys have to cheer for?” He said he would give them what they came for - a spectacular photo opportunity. He was interrupted by James Storm.

Storm said last week his girlfriend saved him from a Last Call Superkick, but this week he’s going to kick the crap out of him, then he’s going to drink some beer and knock his teeth out and show off his new mouth to the fans. He told him to call his dentist now while he can. Taz said he better call his own dentist because, based on the teeth of the people in England, he won’t find a dentist around there.

(2) James Storm pinned Jesse in 3:00 after a Last Call Superkick.

(WK Reax: Storm talked a big game before the match, but didn’t live up to most of it. Why aren’t Jesse’s teeth lying all over the mat and why isn’t he showing off Jesse’s toothless smile for all of the fans in the crowd? #overpromisingunderdelivering.)

[Q4] [c] (3) Robert Roode & Austin Aries beat Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez in 18:00 to capture the TNA World Tag Team Titles. Tenay said Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez have been tag champs for four months, since Bound for Glory. Taz asked Tenay how he remembers all of this stuff. “Do you keep all this in your phone,” he asked. “You’re such a genius, a freak of nature!”

(WK Reax: You get the feeling Taz wouldn’t remember anything about anything in TNA more than two weeks ago. Now, he’s not alone, as a lot of viewers feel that way, but those viewers aren’t paid well to be an expert analyst on the product. Imagine on NBA on TNT a color commentator marveling at his announcer partner noting who won the NBA Championship last year or referencing a trade from last year between two teams. Taz just comes across as being insecure over having zero memory about anything in TNA, so he undercuts anyone who has a memory or the work ethic to research before a show. Since he’s a heel, I suppose it’s okay, but still makes him seem unprofessionally lazy. You can be a heel commentator but also care enough to know a lot about the product you’re analyzing.)

At 4:00 the heels were in control, but Aries dove through the ropes and blasted Roode when Chavo broke free from Roode’s grip. They cut to a break as Roode cried in agony from being shot into the ringside barrier. [c]

[Q5] Taz said Roode & Aries, if they become a cohesive unit, will be unstoppable, unless they face a member of Aces & Eights. Tenay noted that Aries could join A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Kurt Angle, and Abyss in being Triple Crown Champions in TNA history. Tenay said he had a factoid for everyone - Roode is the longest reigning tag champ and world champ in TNA history.

(Quotebook - Taz: “I’ve got a factoid for you guys. I have a boil on my ass.”)

Dueling chants of “Austin Aries / Let’s Go Chavo!” at 13:00.

(Quotebook - Taz: “That’s the problem, Todd, you’re thinking.”)

Roode pulled Aries into the path of a diving Hernandez, then beat up Hernandez. Hernandez shoulder blocked Roode into the air, then tagged in Chavo. Chavo gave Aries the Three Amigos, although Aries escaped the third one. Chavo shoved Aries into Roode. Roode and Aries argued and shoved each other. They told each other, “Kiss my ass!” Roode stormed to the back. Chavo then surprised Aries with a vertical suplex, finishing the Three Amigos. Roode came back to ringside and shoved Chavo off the top rope. Aries gave Hernandez a low blow. Roode whipped Aries into Chavo in the corner, then gave Roode his a Double-R Spinebuster. Aries then landed a 450 for the win.

(WK Reax: Taz said Roode & Aries “made history in Manchester.” And by history, he means something he’ll make fun of Tenay and Keneley for remembering in three weeks. The match told an effective story that while Roode and Aries are combustable and could break up at any moment, when they work together, they can win big matches.)

-Backstage Bully Ray told Sting that the fans will be going crazy chanting “Tables! Tables!” Hulk Hogan walked in. Sting said its is a conversation that’s long overdue and he left them to talk. Hogan said it’s good to see his new son-in-law has his head in the game. Hogan said, “This is the end tonight.” He said nothing would make him happier than if Bully proved to the world that he’s the good guy he says he is. Bully took offense to the term “good guy.” Bully said just because he’s good to his daughter doesn’t make him a good guy. He said he’s a very bad guy. Hogan said for their family’s sake, he hopes he knows who he really is. He said if he’s family, this is right up his alley and it should end tonight. He said it’s up to him to end it for all of them. “Consider it done… Dad!” said Bully. Bully walked away. Hogan said, “Perfect!” [c]

[Q6] -A video package aired on the A.J. Styles-Daniels feud.

(4) Tara pinned Miss Tessmacher in 6:00. Tenay listed “Exotic” Adrian Street, Billy Robinson, and Lord Alfred Hayes as British stars who wrestled in England before making it big in the U.S. Taz said imagine how great they’d have been if they were part of a group like Aces & Eights. Tenay asked if he was recruiting. Taz mocked Tenay for suggesting Aces & Eights would bring dead guys into their group. A couple minutes Tenay pointed out to Taz that Robinson and Street are still alive. Taz at first had no idea what he was talking about, then said some of the people Tenay mentioned were dead, right? Tenay said one out of three. Keneley did a nice imitation of Hayes’s WWF “promotional consideration paid for by the following” line. There were some boring chants in this match. Seemed a little unfair. [c]

[Q7] -Jeremy Borash introduced the winner of British Bootcamp - Rockstar Spud. Spud walked out, looking like a mix of Justin Bieber and Billy Idol. A few seconds into his promo, Robbie E. and Robbie T. interrupted. The crowd chanted “Spud! Spud! Spud!” Robbie E. said it’s a travesty he won a TNA contract “unless we’re hiring midgets.” Taz said, “There’s no place for short guys in this business.” Robbie said he’s a pizza delivery boy, bro. Or, according to Hulk Hogan, he’d be bagging groceries in his day.

Robbie E. stood behind Robbie T. and made a bunch of threats. Robbie T. didn’t like Robbie E. insulting Spud like he did and also talking about Robbie T. like he was in control of him. Robbie T. stepped aside and opened up Spud to punch Robbie E.. Robbie E. rolled to the floor. Robbie T. then did a few dance moves with Spud before walking away. Robbie E. couldn’t believe Big Rob abandoned him.

(WK Reax: Rockstar Spud reminds me of someone who’d be introduced as a manager on Memphis Wrestling in the 1980s and after a couple interviews with Lance Russell, there’d be a buzz among fans nationwide that there’s this guy with a real camera presence and confidence and gift of gab. He’s really, really small, though, and given what a poor job TNA has done promoting the X Division, realistically his best chance to make an impact might be as a cocky bump-taking manager of larger wrestlers. Or, for now at least, he could form a babyface tag team with Big Robbie T., I suppose.)

-Backstage Sting and Bully talked about putting Aces & Eights through tables later. They walked up to Brooke who asked if they were ready. Sting told Bully to “literally get his game-face on.” Sting said, “It’s Showtime!” Brooke and Bully hugged. Brooke said, “Go get ‘I’m, tiger.” [c]

-A commercial hyped the TNA Impact TV event in Chicago, Ill. on March 14.

(WK Reax: Just that commercial, with an aerial view of downtown Chicago and well-produced clips of TNA action in front of other large arena crowds they’ve drawn, made TNA seem big-time.) [c]

-A clip aired of the Aces & Eights thug attacking Hardy with a hammer from behind. The announcers updated that Hardy had an MRI and there’s no damage and he’ll be back next week.

[Q8] (5) Sting & Bully Ray beat Devon & Doc in a tables match in 15:00. Bully came out with face paint on. He and Sting took it to Doc and Devon early in the match. After four minutes of domination, they cut to a break with Doc and Devon knocked to the floor. [c]

Doc was beating up Bully after the break. He choked him with a belt at ringside. In the ring Sting beat up Devon. Sting then held Devon’s legs apart as Bully dove off the second rope with a headbutt to his crotch.

(WK Reax: I hate that move. It’s totally unrealistic, first of all. That move, if impact was actually made, would lead to a match-ending medical situation. Second, it’s such a lame cheap shot that no babyface should ever do it.)

Sting and Bully then played to the crowd as they chanted for tables. Bully got a table out from under the ring. They took a ridiculously long time to set the table up, like cavemen who had never seen such a complex contraption before, which gave Doc and Devon time to recover and attack Sting and Bully. Doc and Devon set up Sting for a suplex through the table, but Bully moved the table out of the way. Bully and Devon clotheslined each other at ringside as Sting beat up Doc in the corner and then superplexed Doc, but Knox ran in and moved the table out of the way.

Devon then swung at Sting as Knox held him, but Sting ducked and Devon punched Knox. Sting then gave Doc the Death Drop. Devon, meanwhile, set up the table again. Devon forearmed Bully, but Bully began to doing his father-in-law’s Superman comeback by “Hulking up.” Keneley said, “He’s family, alright, isn’t he? Bully-mania is running wild in Manchester!” Bully did the full bug-eyed Hulking up routine and even punched Devon and pointed at him like Hogan did. Bully then gave him the big boot and a chokeslam through the table for the win.

Hulk and Brooke walked out and celebrated with Sting and Bully afterward. Hulk cupped his ears for the crowd.

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

[Q1] -A recap aired of last week’s show including the tag team titles changing hands and the main event of Bully Ray & Sting vs. Aces & Eights. The narrator asked how Aces & Eights would get revenge.

-Todd Keneley, Mike Tenay, and Taz introduced the show from London. More great camera angles of the big crowd making TNA seem major league.

-Hulk Hogan made his ring entrance. Taz said Hogan got a “pretty good reaction.” Tenay said there’s nothing else like it in pro wrestling. Hogan said it’s safe to say they have some TNA maniacs in London, brother. He said the fate of the TNA Title will go down at Lockdown, and there are so many hungry wolves backstage, he has chosen eight to participate in a series of showcase matches to determine the challenger at Lockdown.

He announced Rob Van Dam vs. James Storm, Christopher Daniels vs. Magnus, Kurt Angle vs. Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode vs. Austin Aries. The crowd popped and cheered for each of the announcements. Hogan said he’s going to be watching the crowd and watching the matches, and at the end of the night he’ll pick the no. 1 contender to take on Jeff Hardy at Lockdown.

(WK Reax: Why should crowd reactions have anything to do with who gets a World Title shot at a PPV? Seriously, it’s ridiculous. This is not a reality show with fan voting, it’s a simulation of a competitive sporting event. I can live with Hogan, given his history in pro wrestling obviously, judging who deserves a title shot. A fan cheering for their favorite star should have zero to do with Hogan’s decision. Stoopid.)

He switched gears to Aces & Eights. He said they called out the whole TNA roster and they want to have a war to end all wars at Lockdown. He said he called “his brother to another mother,” and he made him the captain of Team TNA. He called him “the greatest wrestler of all-time, the Icon, Sting.”

(WK Reax: The Greatest Wrestler of All-Time? That’s a bit of a stretch, even for Sting and TNA fans.)

As Sting walked out, Taz said it’s complete b.s. that Hogan didn’t include one Aces & Eights member in the four showcase matches.

(WK Reax: At this point, Tenay or Keneley should ask Taz (a) why Hogan would give them a titles hot given their horrible conduct, interference in matches, attacking people with hammers, and tormenting his daughter; and (b) ask them what matches they’ve won that would even give them consideration for being in the Top Eight even if (a) weren’t a consideration. But they don’t, because it would expose the bad booking aspects of Aces & Eights so far and it would show up Taz and make him grumpy. I mean, grumpier.)

Sting complimented how great the fans are in London. He called Aces & Eights scumbags. He accepted the Aces & Eights’ challenge. He said he’ll be looking up and down the roster and find himself three killers to be on his team at Lockdown. He said they’d tear some heads off at Lockdown and put an end to Aces & Eights.

-Tenay hyped the four announced singles matches. [c]

[Q2] (1) Magnus pinned Christopher Daniels in 5:00. A clip aired of Magnus clearing the ring of Daniels and Kaz two weeks ago on Impact. Magnus got a huge pop coming out from his home country fans. Magnus rammed Daniels’s head into the turnbuckle a few times.

(WK Reax: Hey, why doesn’t anyone do that anymore? It just struck me how common that used to be and how rarely you see that now. Certain spots get pegged as passé or too corny or old school, and then they fall out of favor among the current wrestlers, and that must be one of them.)

At 3:00 Kaz at ringside tripped Magnus coming off the ropes. Daniels took control from there. When Kaz jumped onto the ring apron again, Magnus punched him. The ref then ordered Kaz to the back. Kaz produced his manager’s license. Magnus yanked it from him and threw it into the crowd. Taz said that’s a 20 dollar fee to get that thing and Magnus just threw it away like it was nothing. Magnus then backdropped Daniels into the ring and soon finished Daniels with a top rope flying elbowdrop for the win. Keneley said, “Hulk Hogan, take note!” Taz complained that Daniels was thrown off by Kaz being booted from ringside.

-The roving camera backstage eavesdropped on Brooke Hogan stroking Bully Ray’s head as he lay on a couch backstage. He said he never thought an injury would ever stop him, but now it has. He said he’s wanted two things - he wanted to marry her and he wanted to win the World Hvt. Title. He said he prides himself on being a warrior of the ring just like her father. He said things have been so great, other than the wedding getting screwed up. Brooke said she feels so bad for him, she doesn’t even know what to say. Bully said it’s Valentine’s Day and they’re in London, and he’s not going to let this ruin their time together, so they’re going to buy a pair of shoes and go to the fancy restaurant she likes and then go dancing. Brooke told Bully to wear his wedding ring because she found it on the bathroom sink when he left the hotel room this morning. She put it on. He said, “You’re right, sorry.”

(WK Reax: Uh oh. Is that the first major foreshadowing that Bully isn’t really in love with Brooke?) [c]

[Q3] -After some scenes of London landmarks, Magnus reacted to his win backstage. He said at age 26 he’s just a pup compared to most people around him in that locker room. He said since age 19 he’s been dedicated and obsessed with wrestling, and Aces & Eights took that away from him with a hammer for three months. He said he just proved to Hulk Hogan and the world that he has what it takes to be Heavyweight Champion of the World.

(2) Samoa Joe wrestled Kurt Angle to a no content when Aces & Eights interfered at 13:00. As Angle made his ring entrance, they added comments from Angle regarding his campaign to save Olympic wrestling. He said he will work with TNA and the competitive wrestling community to try to reverse this decision. Taz said he agreed with Angle. He said when heard that, it was an outrage and it’s ridiculous, especially since they kept badminton and synchronized swimming. Tenay said for once he won’t argue with Taz.

When Joe and Angle began to fight, Taz said Aces & Eights love to see these two beat each other up. The announcers hyped the Bellator event following Impact. Tenay talked up Angle’s wrestling background and Joe’s MMA training background. They cut to a break at 3:00 with Angle on offense. [c]

Joe dove through the ropes with a forearm to Angle after the break. Keneley said Bully couldn’t compete in the matches tonight because he suffered a quad injury against Aces & Eights last week. Taz said he’s getting text messages throughout this match from fellow Aces & Eight members going “LOL” while watching Angle and Joe beat each other up. Angle made a comeback, but when he went for the Angle Slam, Joe countered and gave him the STJoe out of the corner.

Angle applied the Anklelock at 12:00, but Joe powered out after teasing that he’d tap out. Angle and Joe then charged and clotheslined each other. The ref began counting both men down. Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco attacked Joe and Angle while they were down, leading to the ref calling for a No Contest.

Angle and Joe cleared the ring of Wes and Garett, who retreated through the crowd. Taz said, “Good job, boys. Bring it on! We don’t hide!”

[Q4] -Dixie Carter stood backstage with two female and one male wrestlers who didn’t win British Bootcamp. She said it’s the first time they will ever be seen wrestling inside the Impact Wrestling ring. She said it’s game on and time to show the world what this country saw in them on this show. She said she’s proud of what they did, but it’s time to take it to another level. She kissed each of them on the cheek. [c]

(3) Gail Kim & Tara & Jesse beat Party Marty & The Blossom Twins (Holly & Hannah) in 12:00. Jesse looked at Marty as fresh meat. Tenay said the Boot Camp wrestlers must be nervous. Jesse celebrated taking Marty down with a shoulder block. Marty made a comeback with a kick to the side of Jesse’s head. Marty then ran up to Jesse and stopped and slapped him, then celebrated. He landed a springboard moonsault out of the corner for a two count. As Jesse bailed out to ringside, they cut to a break. [c]

[Q5] After the break, Jesse tagged out and said he had enough of Marty.

(WK Reax: Taz, channelling the “Mad Men” era, referred to the adult women wrestlers as “girls” in the same sentence he referred to the adult men as “males.” Girls can call each other girls, but when a man calls women “girls” in the same sentence he doesn’t call men “boys,” it does feel like a throwback to 1950s when women could only aspire to be “the girl at the front desk.”)

The match broke down into Taz joshing around about whether it was Holly or Hannah in the ring. It got old fast. Tara and Gail dominated the Blossom Twins.

At 11:00 the pace really picked up, with the Blossoms dropping Tara onto Gail, then one flapjacked the other onto Gail for a near fall. Jesse raised a fist to a Blossom, so she rolled to the floor. Marty hit Jesse with a top rope dropkick, then dove through the ropes and overshot Jesse and his head hit the railing. Taz said he needs to work on his jumping. Gail then hit the Eat DaFeet finisher for the win.

-Afterward Gail said she once again proved why she’s the most dominant knockout in the company. She thanked Taryn Terrell for not being her incompetent blond bimbo self and actually doing her job right for once. She then told Tara she has something she wants - her TNA Knockouts Title back. Tara shook her head no. Gail said Brooke has arranged for her to defend the title against her next week. Gail called Brooke out and told her to give her what she deserves, just to make things easier for everyone.

Brooke stepped onto the stage to her entrance music. She said she will give her the title shot, but Miss Tessmacher will also be in the match. Tessmacher walked out. Then Brooke added Velvet Sky to the match. Gail didn’t like her odds decreasing with each passing minute. Brooke said next week it’ll be a four-way elimination match, and she’ll be watching at ringside to be sure no shenanigans go on.

-They went to Dixie Carter at cage side at the Bellator event and announced they’d be going to Jonesboro, Ark. on March 28 for Impact, Corpus Christi, Tex. on Apr. 11 for Impact, and in Atlanta on June 6. She also announced that Jeff Hardy would be returning to Impact Wrestling on Feb. 28, but also that she just signed him to a long-term deal. She said he’d be around Impact Wrestling for a long time.

-A clip aired of Jeff Hardy being attacked by Aces & Eights last month after a distraction by Taz. Then the announcers narrated highlights of happenings earlier in the show and hype for upcoming matches.

-They cut backstage to Austin Aries and Robert Roode celebrating being tag champs and vowing to take all the belts. Aries said Hogan is trying to split them apart. Aries told Roode that Roode should win the TV Title and the Knockouts title and he’ll take the World Title. Roode said he’d take the X Division. Aries said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about the X Division Title.” They asked each other if they’d do what was right for business. [c]

[Q6] [c] (4) James Storm beat Rob Van Dam in 7:00. RVD hit a spin wheel kick and then went for his top rope flying Coast to Coast basement dropkick, but Storm moved and RVD crash landed. Storm then landed the Last Call Superkick for the win. Tenay said that win has to open the eyes of G.M. Hulk Hogan.

-Backstage a nervous Joseph Park knocked on Hulk’s door. Hulk answered as he finished up talking with Brooke. Joseph waved at Brooke, then told Hulk that he’s being told if he wants to succeed, he needs to learn how to politic. Hulk said he’s okay with him, so he doesn’t have to politic. Park said he’s made campaign buttons and signs to vote for him. Hulk asked if that’s what his colleges told him politicking is. Park said no, he just assumed that’s what they meant. Hulk then told him next to ask them what a rib is. Joseph then asked if he could count on his vote. Hulk smiled and said yes. As Hulk closed the door, the mic picked up him telling her that she pushes too hard for stuff.

(WK Reax: That made no sense. Park said he assumed politicking meant running for office with buttons and signs. Hulk then said he was ribbed. Had Park said “the boys” told him to politic with buttons and signs, then he was ribbed. But in this case, he just misunderstood genuine advice from his friends - which is kiss up to the boss.)

-Tenay hyped the TV main event up next. [c]

[Q7] -Brooke told Hulk in the make-up room backstage that “he” wants it so badly and he has the it-factor. Hulk said everybody works hurt in this business. He said he’s looking at eight other guys, too, and he has to keep an open mind. Brooke said she has found out so much about her husband in the last three days. She said he got into wrestling because of Hulk and he wants to be just like him. She said he’s “never even been champion.”

(WK Reax: What about a hundred tag team title reigns, for starters? Is that not being a champion?)

She went on and pushed Hulk to be “objective” and “business-oriented,” while also “softening up a little bit” Bully because “he’s family.” Hulk said he’d like to have a son-in-law who is champion, but he told her to chill because he’d take it under advisement.

-A video package aired on the Roode-Aries relationship.

-Robert Roode and Austin Aries walked to the ring. Roode said Hogan is already trying to screw with them. He said last week was just the beginning when they became World Tag Team Champions. He said they will soon hold all the gold and “finally bring some prestige and order back to each and every one of them.”

Aries said with he and Roode on the same page, everyone should be scared of them. When the crowd began chanting “Austin Aries!”, Aries went for heel heat and said, “Thanks, everyone, I know my name.” That cut down the chant.

(WK Reax: Remember, it’s a sign of Aries being ineffective, as a heel, fans are chanting his name. His goal is - and should be - to turn those fans against him. It’s his duty to the babyface opponents he wrestles and the promotion to try.)

(5) Austin Aries fought Robert Roode to a double count out in 14:00. The bell rang and Aries and Roode faced off in mid-ring and each insisted that the other drop down and take the pin after a poke in the chest. Aries said he’d be the bigger man and lay down for Roode. Aries laid down. Roode covered him. Aries countered and hooked Roode down for a two count. They stood up and shoved each other. They cut to an immediate break. [c]

Aries and Roode were still arguing after the break. The crowd was chanting “Austin Aries!” The announcers continued to push the Bellator fight card following Impact, with Tenay pushing the backstory of the main event.

[Q8] At 11:00 Aries applied the Last Chancery. Roode teased tapping, but then leveraged his way out and raked Aries’s eyes. Roode then applied the Crossface. After the ref got bumped, Roode brought a chair into the ring, slammed the mat, and dropped down. He hoped the ref would DQ Aries. Aries, though, did the same gimmick with the chair before the ref count turn around. The ref finally turned around and looked confused. The fans chanted “TNA! TNA!” The ref caught Roode popping up and giving Aries the “up yours” arm symbol.

Roode and Aries stood up argued, but were soon brought together by Chavo Guerrero & Hernandez walking to the ring. Roode and Aries went after Chavo and Hernandez on the ramp, but then noticed the ref counting them out and tried to run back into the ring. They obstructed one another to avoid losing by count out, so they both lost by count out. Chavo and Hernandez laughed about what they accomplished.

-Backstage Sting told Hulk he’s glad it’s not his decision tonight because there’s a lot of great candidates. Hulk said he’s going to listen to the people out there. Hogan walked the wrong way down the hallway right after saying he was nervous. [c]

-It returned where it all began at the start of the show, with Hulk standing mid-ring and deciding who would face “Hardy” at Lockdown.

(WK Reax: He really should say “Jeff Hardy” every time; Vince McMahon would freak out if someone did that.)

Aces & Eights walked out to ringside and surrounded the ring. Taz said Hulk paying a price for not giving a chance to one of the Aces & Eights. Bully walked to the ring with a chain in hand. Bully entered the ring and Ace & Eights dropped from the ring apron to the floor. Out next came Sting with two baseball bats. Aces & Eights retreated through the crowd. Tenay said momentum is on the side of the TNA Impact Wrestling roster.



WWE Hall of Famer Sunny (Tammy Sytch) made disparaging remarks about WWE’s rehab program in a recent shoot interview with

Sytch, who checked into WWE-sponsored rehab in late 2012 following multiple domestic violence arrests, claimed that WWE downgraded her from a $1,000-per-day facility to a $106-per-day facility after Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign ended in November.

“At this time, this is when Linda McMahon was running for Senate, so me being in the news all over New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, plus TMZ five times wasn’t looking good for the company and for her. They were quite upset,” Sytch says in a preview trailer released for “Breaking Kayfabe with Tammy Sytch.”

Sytch also says that she asked for help after a bad experience in the lower-level facility, citing WWE’s past aid to Scott Hall. In response, Sytch claims that a WWE representative told her over the phone, “Well, you’re not Scott Hall.”

Sytch’s credibility takes a hit moments later in the video trailer when Sytch admits to making up stories in past shoot interviews.

“Do you know how many shoot interviews I’ve done? Not with you, but with someone else that I completely made up stories to make it sound interesting, and they were completely made up off the top of my head?” Sytch rhetorically asked interviewer Sean Oliver.

The trailer then concludes with Oliver asking Sytch if there’s a mental issue involved. Sytch pauses and answers, “Probably.”


WWE is pulling rehab funding for “Sunny” Tammy Sytch, according to a WWE statement, which PWTorch has confirmed.

WWE’s statement reads: “As part of the Former Talent Rehabilitation Program, WWE has sent Ms. Sytch to rehabilitation numerous times, with all costs covered by WWE. Unfortunately, Ms. Sytch has continued to make poor personal choices and is ultimately responsible for the consequences of these decisions. WWE has always provided rehabilitation at a certified treatment center; however, given Ms. Sytch’s inability to change her lifestyle and successfully complete treatment, WWE will no longer fund her rehabilitation.”

At the end of January, Sytch was arrested for the sixth time related to a domestic dispute with her ex-boyfriend. Sytch was also outspoken against WWE’s rehab program in a recent shoot interview.

In a preview trailer of the shoot interview released by, Sytch claimed that WWE downgraded her from a $1,000-per-day facility to a $106-per-day facility after Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign ended in November.

Sytch further alleged that she asked for help after a bad experience in the lower-level facility, citing WWE’s past aid to Scott Hall. In response, Sytch claims that a WWE representative told her over the phone, “Well, you’re not Scott Hall.”


Scott Hall arrived in Georgia on Monday night and was greeted at the aiport by Dallas Page and Jake Roberts. Jake has been living with Page for nearly a half year, improving his diet and doing an exercise program including DDPYoga. Hall, after much arm-twisting by concerned friends, agreed to join DDP and Jake on trying to improve his life. DDP posted a picture of Hall’s arrival at the airport, in a wheelchair, on his Twitter page.

Kevin Nash commented on Twitter: “The Bad Guy has landed, As I said now is time to heal BODY &MIND. I trust DDP and Jake. Scott made the choice, this is huge. If you only knew how much your love and support means to Scott, even his 6-10 prick friend wants to say your love always keep Scott going.”


The latest on The Undertaker’s WrestleMania status is the same as it has been for several weeks - 50/50.

According to the Wrestling Observer, the belief of why Taker was in Nashville prior to Monday’s Raw in Nashville was to meet face-to-face with Vince McMahon, either to discuss his physical condition or to discuss plans for Mania.

Taker has undergone major surgeries since last wrestling at WrestleMania 28 ten months ago, but the picture of Taker backstage at the NHL game in Nashville indicated that he’s in better shape than in July when he made a one-off appearance for Raw 1,000.

It’s possible that WWE will tip their hand at Elimination Chamber on Sunday or the night after on Raw, especially as it relates to C.M. Punk, who is rumored to face Taker at Mania and will be challenging The Rock for the WWE Title at the Chamber PPV.

Going into Sunday, WWE is trying to keep Taker’s status under wraps since it affects everything - the Punk-Rock finish at the Chamber PPV, Punk’s Mania match, and the expected Rock vs. John Cena headline match at Mania.


After WWE heels Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter delivered a politically-themed “State of the Union Address” during Monday’s Raw, WWE announcer Jerry Lawler was fed sarcastic lines about Swagger & Colter getting fan mail from conservative commentators Alex Jones, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh.

Alex Jones’s website,, responded to WWE’s creation, saying WWE is “creating a racist wrestler to demonize the Tea Party,” which is a branch of the Republican Party. The website notes Swagger is being positioned in this manner before facing Mexican wrestler Alberto Del Rio for the World Title at WrestleMania.

Jones’s website also notes the interesting angle of WWE head Vince McMahon’s wife, Linda McMahon, unsuccessfully running for the Senate in Connecticut twice on the Republican ticket.

Jones’s website opines: “This is part of the divide and conquer tactic of cultural subversion to manufacture racial division and to characterize the Tea Party, conservatives, libertarians, opponents of uncontrolled illegal immigration, and constitutionalists as racist, extremist radicals who should be pushed to the fringes of the political discourse.

“Now the demonization runs so deep that it’s even being bolstered by WWE wrestling. The fact that WWE is owned by Vince and Linda McMahon, who are part of the Republican establishment, also tells us a lot about how grass roots conservatives and libertarians are viewed by those near the top of the power structure.”

Jones’s website says they responded to WWE’s new program because WWE programming reaches millions of Americans every week who are seeing this characterization of the Tea Party.

WWE issued a statement, which was published by the Hollywood Reporter, responding to criticism from conservative commentators and members of the Tea Party for perceived negative caricatures of the Tea Party movement.

“WWE has a long history of creating fictional characters that serve as either protagonists or antagonists, no different than other television shows or feature films,” said WWE spokesman Brian Flinn. “To create compelling and relevant content for our audience, it is important to incorporate current events into our storylines.”

Flinn, who regularly defended WWE during former CEO Linda McMahon’s two unsuccessful Senate campaigns in Connecticut, also played a familiar card trying to deflect criticism from WWE by pointing to other entertainment entities.

“WWE is creating drama centered on a topical subject that has varying points of view to develop a rivalry between two characters,” Flinn said. “This storyline in no way represents WWE’s political point of view. One should not confuse WWE’s storytelling with what WWE stands for, similar to other entertainment companies such as Warner Bros., Universal Studios, or Viacom.”


After Raw went off the air, Cody Rhodes came out to ask The Rock if he could look at the new WWE Championship belt. The Rock polled the crowd on whether he should let him look at the title, give him a handshake, or Rock Bottom. The crowd went for the Rock Bottom choice.

So, Rock got back into the ring, laid the belt on the mat, and gave Cody a handshake anyways. But, he wouldn’t let go, then he gave Rock a Cajun’ Ass-Whoopin’, which was a Rock Bottom. Rock followed it up with a People’s Elbow. Then, he celebrated with the new championship to close the show.


Former WWE wrestler Snitsky (Gene Snisky) detailed his side of why he parted ways with WWE in December 2008 during an exclusive interview on Wednesday’s PWTorch Livecast.

“It just came down to the point of creative differences,” Snisky told PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill on the Livecast. “I was going back and forth with the writers and kicking around different ideas of what we were going to do with the character. And, I just didn’t really like the direction they were going with my character.”

Snisky, who is currently starring in movies and making limited independent wrestling appearances, said he “put a lot of time and effort” into his heel character and he felt WWE was “making it what I didn’t want it to be.”

“I was in one of those situations where I either stick around and collect a paycheck and be disgruntled or tell Vince (McMahon) how I feel and walk away,” Snisky said. “Obviously, I chose the second option. And, I’m glad I did because I don’t ever want to be the guy who just sticks around for a paycheck. If I’m not doing things my way, then I don’t want to be there.”

Snitsky added, “They were killing my character, I didn’t like it, and I was fighting tooth and nail every week at TV. I had my head up against the brick wall because they didn’t want to budge and I didn’t want to budge, so ultimately I went up to Vince and said, ‘Look, either use me the right way how I want to be used or I don’t want to be here.’ So, I left.”

Asked if he being turned into a “comedy heel” was his main source of frustration, Snisky said it was more that he was being slotted as an enhancement talent, which did not see himself as.

“It wasn’t necessarily the comedy aspect, but I felt myself being transitioned into a guy who develops their talent. And, I didn’t want to be that guy,” Snitsky said. “I’ve always been a starter and ‘the guy.’ I didn’t want to be a benchwarmer when they need a guy to lose to C.M. Punk or Santino. And, I told them. I said, ‘It’s not what I’m here for. If you’re not going to use me the way I see I fit, then I don’t want to be here.’”

Snisky says one example from the current product is how Tensai (Matt Bloom) has been transitioned into a comedy character. It’s the type of role that he fought to avoid, which contributed to him leaving WWE.

“Look at my friend Tensai. They’re turning him and his character into a joke. They have coming out there and doing this goofy s--- now,” Snisky said. “When he first started, he was killing everyone. Before you know it, now he’s doing lingerie segments on Raw. I’m like, ‘C’mon.’ It’s insulting to me as a fan, it’s insulting to my intelligence - a guy who’s 6’8” and 350 pounds and can probably squash 90 percent of the guys on the roster - and they have him go out and do that. It’s just my opinion.”

Snisky also identified an internal struggle in WWE - the writers come up with ideas for wrestlers to fit Vince McMahon’s mindset and the talent become frustrated because the ideas do not fit how they see their characters.

“It’s not even the political thing. It’s they have a staff of writers that write your stuff,” Snisky said. “They don’t know who I am, they don’t know my athletic background, they don’t know I was a Division-1 college football player, they don’t know I played pro football. When you try to explain it to them, they have this mindset of, ‘We have this idea for your character,’ but I’m like, ‘That’s not my character. I’m my character. I have a better idea of my character than you ever will.’ So, it was a constant battle with the writers; they have their way of doing things, which I just didn’t agree with.”

[ FYI: Snisky is starring in a new movie titled “Manhunt” that has been nominated by the Horror Society Movie Awards in the category of ‘Most Anticipated Film of 2013.’]


One of the key reasons Bruno Sammartino accepted a Hall of Fame invitation this year is that he believes positive changes have been made to WWE’s drug-testing policy. In a PWTorch exclusive interview in Spring 2006, Sammartino explained his position against WWE for their TV content and handling of drug-testing. He also referenced Triple H, who brokered the deal that brought Sammartino back into the fold seven years later.

The following is an excerpt from the Sammartino interview in Spring 2006.

James Caldwell: WWE recently instituted a new drug policy. How big a move do you think that is if WWE carries out to the letter?

Sammartino: If they carry out to the letter and it’s an independent organization - remember they had drug testing before years ago (laughs) and it was very strange that a few little apples got caught and didn’t pass the test, but there were a lot of big fish that everybody knew were big time steroids users who always passed their test. How legitimate were those tests? I have a big question mark on anything they do until I hear about a real serious organization with people who over-look the legitimacy of such testing.

Caldwell: Let’s say WWE pulls a wrestler right before WrestleMania if he tests positive, would that be enough for you to say that maybe WWE is thinking differently and it won’t be the same?

Sammartino: It all depends on what names they pull.

Caldwell: A name like Triple H.

Sammartino: Yeah, like Triple H, but I don’t even know who the top guys are because I refuse to watch the show. I never watch. I couldn’t even name you a bunch of guys because I don’t know these people’s names. Let’s say you have five guys like Triple H and this guy, Batista - I’ve heard him. Take five or six of these top guys who and show me before WrestleMania how many of these people fail a drug test and I’ll say there might be something to the drug testing.

Earlier in the Interview...

Caldwell: Do you think that getting the audience to respect wrestling requires having more athletic wrestlers and does that mean you have to eliminate some of the big muscle guys who are on steroids?

Sammartino: You don’t have to eliminate muscle guys if they’re natural. Do away with all of the chemicals and do away with that garbage. Bring in guys who work hard in the gym, are athletic, and can go out there in the ring and provide the kind of action that people would be entertained by and respect without looking at it as a freak show. In my opinion, that’s what it has become.

Caldwell: Do you think steroids are such a big issue in wrestling that the only way to resolve the problem is if wrestling dies off as you said?

Sammartino: (sigh) Well, I don’t know why they (promotions) can’t do honest-to-goodness legitimate testing on these guys and have them work out more at the gym to develop the bodies. It wouldn’t be necessarily the same kind (of body) you would get by using steroids. But, then again, do people really care more about how freakish a guy looks or how his performance is in the ring?

Fast-forward to 2013 when Sammartino accepted the Hall of Fame invitation. This is obviously an historic announcement, but let’s start off with the elephant in the room. Why now, Bruno? Why did you feel like this was the time to go into the WWE Hall of Fame?

Sammartino: The main reason would be Triple H. He’s the one who contacted me months ago and we got acquainted with each other. We had only met once, very, very briefly. I only really knew Triple H as a Superstar with WWE, but in person I think we only met for maybe 20 seconds... Since then, Triple H contacted me and he started telling me everything that was going on with WWE. There had been issues and things that I was not happy with, but when I saw the changes, I was very, very impressed.


Smackdown dropped to a 1.96 rating on Friday, the first rating rating below 2.0 since the first week of this year.

WWE and Paramount Pictures issued a press release Tuesday announcing a promotional partnership to promote The Rock’s upcoming movies, “G.I. Joe Retaliation” (due out March 29) and “Pain & Gain” (April 26). WWE heavily promoted G.I. Joe 2 during the Elimination Chamber PPV and Monday’s Raw this week. Pain & Gain hype will pick up around WrestleMania leading into the theatrical release at the end of April.


TNA Impact last week drew a 1.0 rating and 1.3 million viewers. Quarter Hours: 0.92, 0.91, 0.91. 0.94; 1.19, 1.08, 1.00, 1.05. It’s marks a drop from the 1.2 range they reached last month.

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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.

He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.

He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).

He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)


Wade Keller, editor

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