FATP: Reviewing the Year So Far in WWE (January – June 2012)

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It’s time for me to bring you the latest edition of From Across the Pond. We’re now into the seventh month of 2012, so I thought I’d give a recap of the year so far in WWE. I’ll try to include the things that were critical to on-going storylines as well as talking about the most impressive things I saw from WWE. I won’t mention every single thing that happened on every single show because not everything that happened on every show was relevant.

It’s going to cover January through to June and will include some of the things that happened in each month, as well as whether I thought the month was a pass or a fail overall. As with every column, the decision about whether or not it’s been a pass or a fail is mine and I’ll try to be as fair as I can. Feel free to leave a comment below and let’s get to it!

January: Young Champions, Chris Jericho Returns and the Royal Rumble

When 2012 kicked off, we had a “new breed” of champions in WWE. CM Punk was the WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan was the World Champion, Cody Rhodes was the Intercontinental Champion, Zack Ryder had won the United States Championship, Air Boom (Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne) were Tag-Team Champions and Beth Phoenix was the Divas Champion. Speaking personally, I was full of hope when this year kicked off.

Dolph Ziggler was positioned in a feud with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan was at the top of the Smackdown brand, John Cena was feuding with a returning masked Kane and we also had the return of Chris Jericho to deal with. Jericho’s return was a pretty weird one to be honest. When he came back out on Raw and was completely over the top, I knew something had to be up but I didn’t know what. The next week that it happened, I had an idea that Jericho was doing it to wind up the crowd and get them to turn on him without Jericho actually “doing anything”, and it worked tremendously.

We also finally saw the much-anticipated debut of Brodus Clay. I think most people, myself included, expected Clay to debut as a monster heel. However, on January 9th 2012, we heard the theme music of Ernest “The Cat” Miller and out came Brodus Clay as the fun-loving, dancing Funkasaurus. Funk was indeed on a roll in January and I reckon that Clay’s debut is one of the best swerves for re-introducing a character that there’s been in a long time.

Over the course of the month, Zack Ryder became involved in the John Cena and Kane storyline. He ended up becoming Kane’s whipping boy to be honest. Ryder’s “official push” seemed to end on the January 16th episode of Raw, when his month-long reign with the United States title ended at the hands of Jack Swagger. I don’t think he’s ever had a rematch for the title, but I might be wrong.

In terms of the WWE Title scene, Dolph Ziggler managed to secure a couple of victories over CM Punk, which led to their title match at the Royal Rumble, but Punk overcame Ziggler at the PPV to retain his title. Also at the Rumble, Daniel Bryan won a fairly decent triple-threat match with Big Show and Mark Henry to retain his title.

The Royal Rumble match itself was pretty hard to predict and I’ll be the first to admit that I never thought Sheamus would win. Not because he’s not good enough, but because I thought they’d go with a safe option like Chris Jericho or Randy Orton. When the final four came down to Sheamus, Jericho, Orton and Big Show, I still didn’t think he’d win it, but Sheamus went over Jericho to win the Rumble and earn a guaranteed title shot at Wrestlemania.

The only slight problem I had with WWE in January was Zack Ryder losing the United States title fairly soon after he’d won it, but then again he was involved in a main-event feud, so I suppose it wasn’t all bad for him.

Verdict: Overall, I’d have to say that, for me, January was a pass.

February: Elimination Chamber, the Rise of the Cobra and the Return of the Rock

With the road to Wrestlemania in full swing, WWE was in great shape. The feud between John Cena and Kane got even more physical, culminating in an Ambulance Match at the Elimination Chamber PPV.

Chris Jericho finally stated his intention to regain the WWE Championship and prove he was the “Best in the World”. Over on Smackdown, Daniel Bryan’s heel turn was complete as he cemented his place at the top of the Smackdown brand. He took out Randy Orton by nailing him with the World Title, giving Orton a concussion, ruling him out of the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match.

While there weren’t any outstanding TV matches early on in February, the Elimination Chamber PPV itself was a tremendous show. John Cena went over Kane in the Ambulance match, leaving him free to concentrate on his upcoming Wrestlemania match with The Rock. The Raw Elimination Chamber (for the WWE Title) pitted CM Punk against Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho and The Miz. The match was booked really cleverly. Chris Jericho was “taken out” from a roundhouse kick by Punk, meaning he was protected from taking a pinfall or submitting, and the match ended when Punk pinned Miz to retain his title.

The Smackdown Chamber Match (for the World Heavyweight Title) saw Daniel Bryan defending his belt against Cody Rhodes, Wade Barrett, Santino Marella, Big Show and The Great Khali. I’ll hold my hands up and say that, for a few minutes, I actually thought Santino Marella was going to walk out of the PPV with the World Heavyweight Championship.

After pinning two of Smackdown’s brightest shining stars, Cody Rhodes and Wade Barrett, the final two were Marella and Bryan. Let’s be honest, throughout the match, Marella took a severe ass-kicking, but the crowd were solidly behind him and the false finishes between him and Bryan actually had me believing he could win! We all know now that he didn’t, but it was a great close to the match and Bryan got even more heat by going over someone as popular as Marella to retain his title. He didn’t have time to celebrate though, as Sheamus came out after the match and took him out, stating his intent to face him for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania.

Towards the end of February, the Interim Raw General Manager (and Executive Vice President of Talent Relations) John Laurinaitis and long-serving Smackdown General Manager, Teddy Long, kept trying to get the better of each other by proving who had the best show. They even got involved in a couple of the best TV wrestling matches in recent years between WWE Champion, CM Punk, and World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan. Laurinaitis would side with Bryan, while Long sided with Punk.

Punk also grabbed some mainstream attention over a Twitter war between himself and Chris Brown, which started with this tweet:

I would like @chrisbrown fight somebody that can defend themselves. Me curb stomping that turd would be a #wrestlemaniamoment.

— CM Punk (@CMPunk) February 20, 2012

The two would go back and forth with tweets, which you can read about here at enstarz.com.

On February 27th, the build-up began to what had been called a “Once in a Lifetime” (that tag-line shouldn’t be taken seriously in my opinion) match-up between John Cena and The Rock. There’s no description I can give to their confrontation that night, so sit back and watch the video here!

Verdict: While February wasn’t quite as good as January was, it was still a pass.

March: The Main Events Get Personal on the Road to Wrestlemania

We rolled into March with the builds to the three main-event Wrestlemania matches in full swing. Every single one of those feuds got really personal, really quickly; whether it was The Rock and John Cena, The Undertaker and Triple H, or CM Punk and Chris Jericho.

Rock and Cena continued to throw verbal jabs at each other, culminating in a Battle Rap’n’Rock concert on the March 12th episode of Raw, CM Punk and Chris Jericho’s feud would continue throughout March as well, as both men claimed to be “The Best in the World”.

For me though, the best build of the three main-event matches was centred around the “End of an Era” match between Undertaker and Triple H. Triple H finally accepted The Undertaker’s challenge to a match at Wrestlemania, putting his undefeated streak on the line against “The Game” in a Hell in a Cell, with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee. Both men told a great story throughout the build to the match and the wildcard of Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee just added to the intrigue.

Meanwhile, over on Smackdown, Randy Orton had returned to action following his concussion and Kane immediately set his sights on The Viper. Kane explained that shaking Orton’s hand after one a match the previous summer sickened him, so he was challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania. Big Show issued a Wrestlemania challenge to Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, after Rhodes made fun of Big Show’s less than exemplary record at Wrestlemania, mocking his losses to Floyd Mayweather and Akebono.

Over on Raw, the feud between John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long escalated to the point where a huge 12-man tag-team match was made, where the winning team would get control of Raw and Smackdown. Also on Raw, perhaps capitalising on how over he was with the crowd, Santino Marella beat Jack Swagger to win the United States Championship and shortly after, he was named the captain of Teddy Long’s team at Wrestlemania.

The annual Hall of Fame announcements were made and one of the inductions caused a bit of a talking point. Legendary faction “The 4 Horsemen” were announced as inductees for the 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony, but it caused a problem because Ric Flair was still a contracted TNA performer at that stage. However, WWE and TNA managed to come to an agreement that allowed Flair to appear at the ceremony and accept his second induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Although the overall build for Wrestlemania was quite good, the only problem with it was that I felt that there wasn’t enough of a build to the World Heavyweight Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Sheamus.

Verdict: I have to give the final stops on the Road to Wrestlemania in March, a pass.

April: The Era of People Power Begins, Yes Chants and a Former Champion Returns

April was a huge month for WWE and it kicked off with Wrestlemania which, by all accounts, was a tremendous success.

The Undertaker overcame Triple H in their “Hell in a Cell” match to ensure his undefeated streak lives on. I’m not a wrestling expert by any means, but their encounter embodied everything I look for in a wrestling match. It was spotted out well, it had believable false finishes, their facial expressions sold the match and the story was designed to get the crowd emotionally involved in the match. As someone who’s been a wrestling fan for over 20 years, their match was one of the best that I’ve ever seen, but there were other great matches at Wrestlemania 28 as well.

Two generations collided when The Rock took on John Cena in his hometown and somewhat surprisingly (from a logical standpoint), The Rock defeated Cena cleanly. CM Punk retained his WWE Championship in a tremendous wrestling match against Chris Jericho, and Big Show got his “Wrestlemania moment” by beating Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship.

In another surprising outcome, Randy Orton lost clean to Kane in just under 11 minutes. Zack Ryder’s bad luck continued when he was pinned in the 12-man tag match, which meant that John Laurinaitis gained full control of both Raw and Smackdown (as he’d go on to remind us countless times over the next couple of months).

Perhaps the biggest thing to happen at Wrestlemania was what I thought was a screwjob effort, where Daniel Bryan lost the World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in just 18 seconds. When I say a screwjob effort, I mean for both men, so let me explain. Their match the previous year for the United States Championship was supposed to be on the main show, but it got bumped to a pre-show match before the Wrestlemania 27 PPV. Then, when it seemed like they’d get a good 10/15 minutes to show what they could do, the match was over in 18 seconds.

However, the “squash match” for the World Heavyweight Championship was the best thing that could’ve happened for both men. It made Sheamus look dominant and it got Daniel Bryan even more over than he was already. The next night on Raw, the Miami crowd was hot for Daniel Bryan, chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” throughout the show, even though he didn’t appear in the ring until the dark match.

Rumours had also surfaced over Wrestlemania weekend that Brock Lesnar was in talks with the WWE about a return and the crowd was chanting for Lesnar at points too. That night, fresh from his victory against John Cena, The Rock came out and thanked him for their match before going on to state that he wanted to walk “that” aisle as the WWE Champion again.

Throughout the night, WWE ran vignettes wondering what state of mind John Cena would be in after losing to The Rock. Cena came out to the ring and cut a promo, but before he was done, Brock Lesnar’s music hit and he came out to the ring, delivering a thunderous F-5 to the leader of the Cenation!

The next week, permanent GM of both Raw and Smackdown, John Laurinaitis, announced that he had signed Lesnar to bring legitimacy back to the WWE and that he was doing it in the name of “People Power!” With that mandate, Big Johnny started to portray himself as a man of the people as the People Power era began. He strengthened his position by continuing to align himself with David Otunga and Eve Torres, as well as the “new superstar”, Lord Tensai.

Over the coming weeks, WWE would begin to build towards their next PPV, Extreme Rules, and an Extreme Rules match between Cena and Lesnar was announced. Two weeks before the match, WWE showed a sit-down interview with Brock Lesnar where he basically said he wasn’t there to make friends or to wrestle, but that he was a fighter and an ass-kicker. The week before the PPV, Edge came back to WWE to give Cena a pep-talk saying that Cena should stand up and, for the lack of a better phrase, bring it to Lesnar and not let him run wild in WWE.

Lesnar then had an in-ring contract signing with Cena, before which he tried to “renegotiate his contract”, asking for various privileges, including having Raw renamed to “Monday Night Raw, starring Brock Lesnar”. John Laurinaitis agreed to his demands to keep him happy. The rivalry between CM Punk and Chris Jericho got more intense, with Jericho bringing up the reasons why Punk is straight-edge, before a Chicago Street Fight between the two was announced.

Over on Smackdown, the ridiculously over Daniel Bryan blamed his girlfriend AJ for losing his World Heavyweight Title against Sheamus and their rematch was announced as being a two out of three falls match at Extreme Rules. Cody Rhodes also got his rematch for the Intercontinental Title against the Big Show in a Tables Match, and Randy Orton would also face Kane in a Falls Count Anywhere match.

Before the pay-per-view, Beth Phoenix defended the Divas Championship against Nikki Bella on Raw in a Lumberjill Match. During the match, Beth seemed to injure her knee, resulting in Nikki capturing the title in what, for me at least, was a surprising turn of events.

Getting to the second PPV in April, Extreme Rules, yet again, the three headline matches delivered.

Punk and Jericho tore the house down in their Chicago Street Fight, with Punk retaining his WWE title. Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan by two falls to one in their match to retain his World Heavyweight title. This time, their match got longer than 18 seconds and it was probably the match of the night in my opinion. We also got a surprise return at Extreme Rules. Beth Phoenix wasn’t cleared to wrestle, so she didn’t get her rematch for the Divas Championship. Instead, the returning Layla took Beth’s place and won the Divas Championship from Nikki Bella.

The main-event came when Brock Lesnar took on John Cena. Now, again, I’m not a wrestling expert, but I had a problem with this match overall, not just the finish. When the match came, Lesnar busted Cena open fairly quickly and proceeded to kick his ass for the best part of 15-20 minutes. However, Cena rallied and punched Lesnar in the head with a steel chain wrapped around his fist, before delivering an Attitude Adjustment and getting the pinfall victory.

Now, I have a problem with Cena winning, but not for the reasons that some others have. First of all, if Cena had beaten Lesnar by giving as good as he got for most of the match, then that’s fine, no problem, but the way the match was booked meant that Cena didn’t give as good as he got. That’s not his fault though, it’s down to the booking.

Secondly, if you bring back someone like Brock Lesnar, the last thing you want to do is have him lose clean in his first match, because it kills all the build and makes him look weak. If WWE didn’t want to have Cena lose, and they didn’t, then there are other ways to have him win. They could’ve booked Cena to win via disqualification, protecting both men and making them both look strong. The finish to that match just didn’t make any logical sense to me.

The next night on Raw, Lesnar came out, clearly unhappy with the loss and took offence to some of the things that Triple H said to him during an in-ring promo. He attacked the Chief Operating Officer (C.O.O) as he turned his back on him, “breaking” his arm and putting Triple H out of action. Lesnar then “quit” the WWE as a result of WWE being “in breach of contract”.

The same night, Nikki Bella had a rematch with Layla for the Divas Championship, but she lost, which resulted in Eve Torres, John Laurinaitis’ administrator, firing the Bella twins. April was one hell of a busy month for WWE, with two PPV’s, a lengthy European tour and the return of one of the most formidable UFC stars in recent history.

Verdict: This was the one month where WWE got 99.9% of things right in my opinion, so again, April was a pass.

May: Two Guys Called John, Bryan/Punk for the WWE Title and Suspensions Galore!

As May got underway, for various reasons, WWE were without The Rock, Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, HHH and Brock Lesnar. Basically all the “older guys” who’d had to sell the last two PPV’s, Wrestlemania and Extreme Rules. That left WWE with something of a headache as they headed into a part of the year where, traditionally, the product isn’t as good as it is during the first few months of the year. Their solution was to build their main titles around putting the best men on the roster in matches with each other. It sounded like a great plan and it delivered, especially at the May pay-per-view, Over the Limit.

The feud over the WWE Title centred around two former indy wrestlers that had risen to the top of the WWE: CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Meanwhile, the feud over the World Heavyweight Title resulted in a fatal-four-way match between Sheamus, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Alberto del Rio. Elsewhere, with Brock Lesnar having “quit” WWE,  Laurinaitis was still in the midst of his “People Power” kick and was taking out his frustrations on anyone who made fun of him. Big Show was caught in the crossfire and was caught making fun of the boss on several occasions, before being “fired” on the May 14th edition of Raw. After being fired in the ring, Big Show begged for his job and seemed to spend an age crying. Yep, that’s right, a giant man, crying in the middle of the ring. Go figure!

John Cena needed something to do, so John Laurinaitis, with the help of Lord Tensai, attacked him and announced that he’d be facing Cena at the Over the Limit pay-per-view. With Laurinaitis seemingly in control, the WWE Board announced that any “contracted superstar” who interfered in the match to help him would be fired, which of course, delighted John Cena.

At the pay-per-view, Christian made his return from injury during the pre-show “People Power Battle Royal”. He won the match, guaranteeing him a title shot against either the United States or Intercontinental Champion later in the show. It seemed like he’d pick Santino Marella, the United States Champion, but after hearing Cody Rhodes (the Intercontinental Champion), bad-mouthing him backstage, Christian changed his mind and won the Intercontinental Championship on his first night back from injury.

Elsewhere on the pay-per-view, both world title matches were easily four stars out of five, before we got to the main-event between Cena and Laurinaitis. The match between the Johns was brutal. Those of you who saw it know what I’m talking about. As expected, Cena controlled the match before Laurinaitis tried to escape.

Unfortunately, Laurinaitis was caught by the Big Show, who dragged him to the ring and fed him to Cena, before shock horror! With Laurinaitis on his shoulders, Big Show punched Cena in the face and put Big Johnny on top of Cena, covering him for the win! Big Show’s heel turn was one of the most predictable things in the WWE this year so far, especially when he was “fired”.

Then, after all that, WWE nearly mucked everything up by saying during the following night’s Raw that Big Show had agreed a contract with Big Johnny before the pay-per-view. Now, that just goes to illustrate the problems with creative at the moment. If the contract was agreed before the pay-per-view, then technically he was a “contracted superstar” and he should have been fired for interfering! To cover their own mistake, WWE had Michael Cole say on commentary that the deal was “agreed in principle” before the PPV, but it wasn’t signed until late Sunday night, early Monday morning.

Throughout the rest of May, Big Show would go on a rampage, taking out some of the most over babyfaces on the roster, including Alex Riley, Brodus Clay, Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth and Zack Ryder. The feud over the WWE Title also began to develop as May went on. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan would each have matches with Kane, before and after Over the Limit, which resulted in Kane becoming involved in their storyline.

Probably the biggest news that came out of WWE during May were things that weren’t announced on a TV show. The first announcement was that from July 23rd onwards, WWE Raw would become a weekly three-hour show. The second announcement(s) was/were the suspensions of two of their top performers, Chris Jericho and Randy Orton.

During an appearance at a live show in Brazil, CM Punk brought a Brazilian flag to the ring. Chris Jericho, playing the heel, decided to kick the flag and desecrate it. Unbeknown to Jericho, it was a criminal offence and he was forced to apologise to the live crowd, before WWE suspended him for 30 days.

In the case of Randy Orton, he was suspended for 60 days as a result of his second failure of the WWE’s Wellness Policy, which meant that he’d miss the 1,000th episode of Raw from his hometown of St Louis, Missouri. Whilst you can excuse Jericho for not knowing the laws in Brazil about flags, Orton’s suspension is more serious.

WWE have invested a lot of time and money in him and it’s still up in the air what’ll happen when he’s brought back. Taking the suspensions into account, as well as the mistakes and predictability in the Cena/Big Show/Laurinaitis feud, this was easily the poorest month of the year for the WWE.

Verdict: In my opinion, WWE’s overall efforts in May were a fail.

June: Crazy Chicks, BBQ Sauce, Triple Threats and Ziggler’s Forced Push

After what can only be described as a mediocre May, I went into June with pretty low expectations to be honest. A week earlier, Big Show cut a promo explaining his heel turn. The first Raw of June was John Cena’s chance to respond to Big Show’s promo and he was given an in-ring “interview” with Michael Cole. Cole basically called Cena un-interesting and wrapped up in his own ego. The two went back and forth, which led to GM John Laurinaitis making a match between Cena and Cole for that night’s main-event.

Yes, you did just read that. A match between the face of the company and an announcer in the main-event. The main-event was basically a one-sided affair, resulting in Cena covering Cole in BBQ sauce and winning. It served a purpose in that it built the angle between Cena, Laurinaitis and Big Show, but I could’ve done without seeing it. A Steel Cage match between Cena and Show was announced for No Way Out PPV. The era of “People Power” came under threat when, after a job evaluation, Vince McMahon announced that if Big Show lost at No Way Out, Laurinaitis would be fired. On the Smackdown before the PPV, Laurinaitis raised the stakes by saying if Cena lost, then he’d be fired.

Elsewhere on Raw, AJ Lee became an integral part of the storyline surrounding the WWE Championship and one of the best characters on WWE TV. She played the “crazy chick” role tremendously well, using her character to confuse all three men involved: Kane, Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. She’d play a part in the outcome of the Triple Threat Match for the WWE Title between the three at No Way Out.

Over on Smackdown, a match between Sheamus and Alberto del Rio was announced for the PPV, but it had to be changed the week before the event after del Rio suffered a concussion. With del Rio not cleared to compete, a fatal-4-way match between Jack Swagger, The Great Khali, Christian and Dolph Ziggler was announced for the Raw before No Way Out. Dolph Ziggler won the fatal-4-way and would go on to challenge Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship. You can’t help but feel WWE’s hand was forced into putting Ziggler in the title match. It seems like they’re reluctant to push him, despite the fact he’s one of the best wrestlers on their roster.

Christian and Cody Rhodes continued feuding over the Intercontinental Championship, culminating in a title match being booked for No Way Out. Another injured superstar, Sin Cara, returned to WWE in June after a lengthy lay-off with a knee injury. Heading into No Way Out, my hopes for the show were pretty low, but I expected a lot from the two main title matches.

Sheamus and Dolph Ziggler had a tremendous match for the World Heavyweight Championship, which ended up with Sheamus going over. The triple-threat for the WWE Championship with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and Kane was another well-executed match. Once again, during a match involving these three men, AJ came out and distracted Kane, costing him the win when she was knocked off the apron. After the match, as Kane carried her back up the ramp, she gave this look to Punk that was just amazing. It was almost as if she was saying “I did that for you!”

And now we come to the main-event between Cena and Show, where regardless of what happened, a guy called John was gonna get fired. With Big Show in control of the match, almost all of the babyfaces he’d taken out (including Brodus, Santino, Riley, Ryder and Kofi) came out and eventually distracted him, allowing Cena to win the match. Because Cena was victorious, Vince McMahon fired John Laurinaitis, leaving Raw and Smackdown without a General Manager.

As June continued onwards, we’d find out that a permanent GM would be announced on the 1,000th episode of Raw, which will be broadcast on July 23rd 2012. Until then, we’d have a different GM every week, but it would be someone who’d already done the job. June ended with both Mick Foley and Vickie Guerrero returning to the General Manager’s role. The storylines on Raw and Smackdown continued in full swing, with a match between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk being announced for the July PPV, Money in the Bank. AJ continued to become the most entertaining, intriguing thing to watch on any WWE show.

This month also saw the rebranding of WWE NXT, which now includes some of the brightest stars from WWE’s developmental territory. We’ve already seen the likes of Seth Rollins, Richie Steamboat and The Ascension, with more to come over the following weeks and months. Another initiative as we headed towards the end of June was the decision to have former Raw superstars and legends returning on the lead up to the 1,000th edition of Raw. Heath Slater was the man charged with making these legends look good on their return and we saw the returns of Vader, Wendi Richter, Roddy Piper and “Sycho” Sid.

One of the best things about June was when it came to an end and Chris Jericho returned from suspension. Jericho came out on the last Raw of June and interrupted a Star Wars driven promo from John Cena. Both men would then announce their intention to compete in the Raw Money in the Bank ladder match in July, which WWE later announced would contain only former WWE Champions.

As good as some of the matches were in June, as well as the excellent new format of NXT, the overall product was as poor as it’s been for a long time.

Verdict: Apart from the occasional good match and the AJ storyline, WWE overall gets a fail for June.

Looking forward to the second half of 2012

Taking everything into account, I’ve given WWE a pass overall, but that’s largely in part to the extremely strong first four months of the year. As impressive as some of the matches and storylines have been this year, most of the last couple of months have been brutal. Heading into the 2nd half of 2012, WWE have a lot of problems they need to address.

WWE Raw will be changing to a three-hour show from July 23rd and to be quite honest, if the overall quality of the show is the same as it is now, they’ll be back to a two-hour format in the next 12 months. The WWE Network is widely expected to launch in the next six months as well, but they’re having problems getting some of the cable providers to carry the product. It’s no wonder, given how brutal the shows have been lately.

WWE also need to do something about John Cena. Now before everyone thinks that I’m crapping on him for no reason, I’m not. For the sake of John’s physical and mental well-being, he needs a break. Along with several others, Cena has been carrying a lot of responsibility for Raw and Smackdown live events since the suspension of Randy Orton.

He must be mentally and physically exhausted. He’s also got a lot of things going on in his personal life that need to be dealt with properly and if WWE cares about preserving the longevity of the face of their company, they’ll give him however long he needs to deal with all of the personal issues in his life.

In the next six months, we’re likely to see the returns of Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio, which will help in terms of match quality and fan reaction, if their returns are done properly. We’re also going to find out who the next General Manager (or Managers) are and we’re likely to see the debuts of several new stars from FCW on the main roster (not on NXT).

There’s also the speculated returns of Matt Morgan and Ric Flair, as well as the possible acquisitions of Alex Shelley and Amazing Red for the heavily-rumoured Cruiserweight show on the WWE Network. Personally, because they’ve all recently been contracted to TNA, I don’t think that there’ll be any movement on those fronts until the WWE/TNA lawsuit is over and done with.

And finally, there’s also the perennial question that some wrestling fans will ask. Will we see John Cena turn heel? Here’s my two cents: they had the chance to do it in the feud with The Rock, and they didn’t. If WWE have any intention of turning Cena heel, then they have the perfect chance to do it in the next couple of months. Hear me out.

Cena wins a title shot by grabbing the WWE Title Money in the Bank briefcase. He comes out and says that he’ll follow his “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” mantra and announce ahead of time when he intends to cash in the briefcase. The feud between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan continues on through Summerslam and they have an epic Iron Man or submission match. After the winner is physically spent following the match, Cena’s music hits, he comes out and cashes in the briefcase, walking out as champion. The next night on Raw, he comes out and gets boo’ed out of the building. He finally snaps and says something like “it’s fine for everyone else to cash in like that, but not me?”, and then go from there. It’s just an idea.

Anyway, I’ll have the second part of this article at the beginning of 2013, looking back at whether or not the last 6 months of 2012 were, in my opinion, a success or failure from WWE. I’ve put a lot of work into this review, so hopefully you guys have enjoyed it!

A quick plug from me before I go. I’ll be on this week’s edition of STLD Radio, discussing all things TNA and WWE. If you want to check us out, search SLTD Wrestling on iTunes, listen to the latest show and give us a rating! I’ll be back again next week with another edition of “From Across the Pond”, but until then, thanks for reading!

Peace out,
George

Twitter: @georgec1982

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