FATP: Reviewing the WWE Year Part 2 (July – December 2012)



From Across the Pond

Welcome to the 1st FATP of 2013! Hopefully you all had a great Christmas and if you need some reading material while you’re nursing a New Years Eve hangover, then sit down with a strong cup of coffee, put your feet up and enjoy! Thanks for the tremendous feedback/comments/tweets I got about the FATP Awards that I posted on Christmas Day. I put a lot of hard work into it, so I’m glad you lot enjoyed my winners and losers of 2012!

Now that we’re in to a brand new year, I thought it would be a good time to do the second part of my review of the year in WWE for 2012. In case you missed it, you can read the first part of this article here. I wrote it at the beginning of July when WWE were already on a down-turn in terms of the overall quality of their programming, but because of an extremely strong first 4 months of the year between January and the end of April, I gave WWE’s January – June an overall pass.

For those of you who didn’t manage to catch Part 1 of this blog, I’ll run through the format. Basically, I’ll try to include a recap of the major talking points that happened each month between July and December. I won’t include everything because, to be quite honest, I’ve had to watch a LOT of wrestling in the last six months. If I’ve included it here, then it made an impression on me. If it didn’t, then it won’t be here. Simple as that. I’ll also give a pass or fail mark to the month overall. As with every column, the decision about whether it’s been a pass or a fail is mine. Your opinion might be different, but that doesn’t make mine right or wrong. I’ll try to be as fair as I can here, but I have to be honest as well.

Before I review the last six months, here’s what I was hoping for at the beginning of July. In Part 1, I mentioned that:

  • I wanted WWE to improve the overall quality of Raw before and after the move to 3 hours
  • I felt that WWE should give John Cena a break to prolong his in-ring career
  • I felt that Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton would make an impact when they returned
  • I wondered whether we’d see any, or all, of Matt Morgan, Ric Flair, Alex Shelley or Amazing Red

At the end of this article, I’ll mention those four bullet-points again and see if any of them actually happened. OK, so with that build-up out of the road, let’s get cracking and see what I thought of the 2nd half of WWE’s 2012. Buckle up, it’s gonna be quite a ride!

July 2012: The Most Predictable MiTB Match Ever and Raw goes 3 hours

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At the beginning of July, WWE were hurtling towards their landmark 1,000th edition of Monday Night Raw, but they had a PPV to get through before that. Although Chris Jericho had returned, Randy Orton was still serving the remainder of his 60-day suspension. STUPID Randy! The build-up to the Money in the Bank PPV focused on the fact that the Raw MiTB (for the WWE Championship) match would only include former WWE Champions. I felt that it went against the purpose of the match (to create a new main-event star), but that’s just my opinion. Anyway, before the PPV only 4 men were announced as competitors in the WWE Championship MiTB match: Big Show, Kane, Chris Jericho and John Cena. Star power? Yes. Did it capture my interest? Not really.

The participants for the Smackdown (World Heavyweight Championship) MiTB match were Dolph Ziggler, Damien Sandow, Tyson Kidd, Christian, Santino Marella, Tensai, Cody Rhodes and Sin Cara. Generally, I didn’t have a problem with that group of wrestlers because only Christian and Dolph Ziggler had really had any sort of involvement with the world title. The inclusions of Damien Sandow and Tyson Kidd were surprising, but deserved, especially in Kidd’s case.

In terms of the main-event title feuds, we were treated to a continuation of the CM Punk and Daniel Bryan feud over the WWE Championship, which has to be up there for Feud of the Year. A simply outstanding series of pure wrestling matches. Over on the Smackdown side of things, it was the complete opposite of everything I said about Punk/Bryan. Why? Because it was the start of the Sheamus/Alberto del Rio feud that terrorised us throughout the summer. I won’t rant too much here, but I don’t see what the fuss is with del Rio. Although the dude can wrestle, the gimmick is mid-card at best.

When the PPV finally came round, the only matches of note are the ones that I’ve just run through. Dolph Ziggler won the Smackdown MiTB match. For me, it was about time that Dolph was treated like a main-event star, so I was fucking ecstatic that he won. CM Punk retained the WWE Championship in another near 30-minute classic against Daniel Bryan. Sheamus overcame Alberto del Rio for the World Heavyweight Championship (thank God!) and then we came to the Raw MiTB match.

Whilst the PPV was underway, The Miz came out and announced his intention to compete in the Raw MiTB match. He’d been away for a few weeks filming a movie and it was great to see him back. Basically he said he was in the match to win, because he’s the Miz and he’s awesome. It would’ve been immense if Miz had won the match, but sadly, he didn’t. WWE went down the obvious route and once again, John Cena “defied all the odds”. He became Raw’s Mr Money in the Bank. I was pissed about the participants in the match anyway because I felt it went against the whole purpose of the match, but the outcome annoyed me more. I’d have given it to Jericho to give him a reason to come back after his impending hiatus. Makes sense storyline wise, but I’m not in charge of creative.

A week after the Money in the Bank PPV was in the books, it was time to start the 3-hour era of Raw, with the 1,000th episode of Raw. We were treated to a spectacular show that featured legends including Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Slick, Howard Finkel, Mick Foley, Bret Hart, APA, Brock Lesnar, The Rock, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, a full-fledged DX reunion (without Chyna for obvious reasons) and The Undertaker.

For the most part, it was a throwaway show, but some interesting things happened. First off, Daniel Bryan and AJ didn’t get married. Apparently she could either choose to get wed or be Raw GM, so she chose the job. Poor D-Bry. Then the Rock came out as Punk and Bryan were going at it on the mic, and proclaimed he had been given a title shot at Royal Rumble 2013. The Miz beat Christian to win the Intercontinental Championship and the much speculated Brock Lesnar/HHH match was finally confirmed.

punkheelturnraw1000The biggest news to come out of Raw 1000 was the fall-out from the main event. John Cena told Punk the week before Raw 1000 that he was going to cash in his briefcase at Raw 1000. In the main-event, Big Show interfered twice and cost Cena the match, which meant that Cena will forever be known the first man to fail to successfully cash in his MiTB briefcase. The action didn’t stop there though. As Big Show launched a post-match assault on Cena, The Rock came out to try to even the odds somewhat. Rocky began to “lay the smackdown” on Big Show and as he was about to hit the People’s Elbow, CM Punk flew across the ring and clotheslined the Rock, before giving him a GTS to end the show.

There was also some controversy towards the end of the month, when during a match between Titus O’Neil and Kofi Kingston, Abraham Washington made reference to a sexual assault charge against Kobe Bryant in 2003. As Titus and Kofi were wrestling, AW said: “Titus O’Neil is like Kobe Bryant at a hotel in Colorado. He’s unstoppable!!!” AW was subsequently pulled from TV and fired. It’s never been clear if the “joke” was the sole reason he was fired, but it had to have played a huge part in WWE’s decision.

There’s no denying how good some of the individual matches were and again, there’s no doubt that the 1000th episode of Raw was absolutely fantastic, but that wasn’t enough to paper over the cracks.

Verdict: Overall, I have to give WWE’s efforts in July a fail. A couple of good matches and one good episode of Raw weren’t enough to give it a pass.

August 2012: The Biggest Party of the Summer and the Champ Looks for respect

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As August kicked off, there was still some confusion about what role CM Punk was playing. Was he a face, a tweener or a heel? I’ve got the answer. Punk was what he’d always been: CM Punk. Even after he attacked the Rock, he was still getting pretty good babyface reactions from the crowd. I’m not quoting word for word here, but Punk basically went on to explain that he’d done what he did because he felt disrespected by other wrestlers, fans and management. He’d held the title since November and main-evented one PPV. Punk basically wanted the respect he’d felt that he’d earned. In fairness, you couldn’t argue with his reasoning. Obviously Cena was pissed at the fact he’d been screwed out of winning the WWE Championship so, along with Big Show, he was added to the WWE title match at SummerSlam.

A feud had been simmering nicely between Chris Jericho and Dolph Ziggler, while things heated up and got very personal between Brock Lesnar and HHH. However, one of the best things about August was the on-screen pairing of Daniel Bryan and Kane. The whole thing kicked off when Daniel Bryan was ordered to attend a psych evaluation before Kane burst through the door, proclaiming he was Bryan’s “anger management therapist”. The comedy didn’t stop there, as before and after SummerSlam, we’d see some of the funniest skits and vignettes that we’ve seen from WWE in the last decade, but I’ll get in to that a little later.

We also saw the slow rise of Dolph Ziggler up the card from the US/IC Title scene to the upper mid-card when he began feuding with Chris Jericho. I love Jericho’s work. He’s the smartest man in wrestling and for people who shit all over him for leaving every once in a while, get a grip. He’s the only established main-eventer who consistently puts over new stars. Go back through his career over the last 6 years if you don’t believe me. If others did that (Hey John!) then WWE might be in better shape. Anyway, the two men exchanged verbal barbs before their match at Summerslam was made official.

Elsewhere, for reasons I’ve explained before,WWE’s insistence on pushing Alberto del Rio as a main-eventer continued to piss me off and his seemingly never-ending feud with Sheamus continued. Miz and the newly-returned Rey Mysterio were involved in a feud over the Intercontinental Title, and the Prime-Time Players got a tag-title shot against Jimmy Boom (Kofi & Truth).

Most of the focus in August was on HHH and Brock Lesnar though. As we know, Lesnar’s mic skills aren’t quite up to scratch, so most of the build came from Heyman and HHH. Shawn Michaels got involved and after a couple of weeks’ deliberation, Shawn decided he wanted to be in HHH’s corner. He wouldn’t make it to SummerSlam though because on one of the Raw’s before SummerSlam, we got a 40 minute end of show segment involving HHH, Heyman, Lesnar and HBK, which basically ended with Brock “breaking” Shawn’s arm, taking him out of the equation at the PPV.

SummerSlam came and went with Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Sheamus, CM Punk, The Miz, Jimmy Boom and Daniel Bryan all winning their respective matches. On the pre-show, a new United States Champion was crowned as Antonio Cesaro defeated Santino Marella for the strap. It was a solid match, but Cesaro would go on to have better as the year progressed.

Following the PPV, Chris Jericho lost to Dolph Ziggler on Raw in a “contract vs contract” match where if Jericho won, he got Dolph’s MiTB contract. If he lost, he was “fired”. In reality, it was a way to write Jericho off TV so that he could go and tour Fozzy’s new record. Brock Lesnar “quit” WWE after beating HHH, CM Punk and John Cena continued their back-and-forth over the WWE Championship and we saw some outstanding “Anger Management skits from Kane and Daniel Bryan. I included them in the “Year of the Goat” post I wrote a few weeks ago, but I’ve also embedded them here, cos I’m good like that! Haha…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4diUFM7dwQ]

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3NrpMtOryY]

Again, like July, there were some fantastic matches in August, but the overall standard of TV was much better. It’s no coincidence that the improvement came about with the returns of Lesnar, HHH, HBK and Heyman. Jericho, Ziggler and Punk also played a huge part in how good August was.

Verdict: For the reasons I’ve just given in the last paragraph, the “part-timers” made August a pass.

September 2012: Proof that WWE can be bad for your health

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With SummerSlam out of the way, WWE began to turn the screw on the slow CM Punk “heel” turn. Punk walked in to his hometown of Chicago on Labour Day to a thunderous ovation and was promptly booked in a “champion vs champion” match against Sheamus after some back-and-forth on the mic. Cena vs ADR was booked on the same show as “#1 contender vs #1 contender”. Punk came out for his match in street clothes and proclaimed that “since it was Labour Day”, he was taking the night off and left the arena.

Punk reappeared during the Cena/ADR main-event and cost Cena the match. As Punk got in to his car and it began to drive away, the driver rolled down his window and we saw Paul Heyman. At that moment right there, I’m not gonna lie. I had somewhat of a trouser accident. I marked out. Punk and Heyman together is like the dream team. It’s also the only way that WWE could get the majority of fans to boo Punk. After he GTS’d Rock, he got mostly cheers the next week. After beating Cena/Show at SummerSlam, he obviously got cheers. Even after walking out on a match in Chicago, he still got cheered, so WWE put Punk with Heyman and it proved to be a genius move.

The major story of the month came about inadvertently through Punk. After he GTS’d Rock on Raw 1000, Jerry Lawler stated: “CM Punk has turned his back on the WWE Universe” (or words to that effect). Obviously, Punk called Lawler out on his bullshit. Not once, but 3 or 4 times over the course of a month I think. I loved every second of it. Lawler has become a parody of himself. He’s not funny, he’s not relevant and he should step aside for JBL. Just my opinion. Anyway, Punk and Lawler would feud for a few weeks, including in a Steel Cage match on Raw.

Then, on September 10th, less than an hour after competing in a tag-match with Randy Orton, Lawler suffered a legit heart-attack at ringside when he was commentating on a match between Kane & Daniel Bryan (herein referred to as Kryan, not ‘Team Hell No’ cos that’s a fucking ridiculous name for a tag-team) and the Prime-Time Players. I wasn’t watching Raw live when it happened. I had been watching Andy Murray beat Novak Djokovic in the US Open Men’s Final, but I had been keeping an eye on Twitter and it exploded with the news about Lawler.

When I sat down to watch it (a couple of hours behind everyone else), it was eerie waiting to see what everyone else had been talking about. There’s one point in the match where you see him clutching his chest, just at the bottom right hand side of the screen and it’s just so sad. As much as I’ve said Lawler is shit at what he does now, I wouldn’t have wished that on him. For me, it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that WWE ask too much of these older guys to just come in to the wrestling ring cold (without any stretching or prep). It nearly cost Jerry Lawler his life. Thankfully, we’d later learn that Lawler made a full recovery, despite being clinically dead at one point.

The rest of that broadcast was handled impeccably by everyone’s favourite commentator, Michael Cole. A lot of people shit on Cole for the job he does (because he’s not JR), but that night, he did a fantastic job trying to keep his composure to finish the match he’d been calling with Lawler before sitting out the rest of the night. I know I’d have been a fucking wreck if that was me. He deserves a hell of a lot of credit for the way he handled that situation and I think, in a weird sort of way, it kind of made him with the fans.

JRandJBL

When Jerry Lawler was recuperating at home after his heart attack, WWE called on Jim Ross and the Wrestling-ah… GAWD… JBL to cover for him. Excellent decision in my opinion. Ross is the greatest announcer I’ve ever heard. Granted I didn’t hear Solie, but I’ve heard just about every single one over the last 20 years and Ross, bar none, is the best. As far as JBL’s concerned, I’ve gone on record as saying this. The highest possible praise I can give the man is that he’s the greatest colour commentator I’ve heard since Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Without fail. That list includes the likes of Savage, Heenan and Lawler. JBL is outstanding because he does what Lawler used to do. Give you a reason to invest in the wrestler, whether it’s a babyface or a heel. He’s top-class and doesn’t get the credit he deserves. WWE did a tremendous job in bringing these two men back to the booth to cover for Lawler.

Apart from CM Punk and the Jerry Lawler health situation dominating Raw, we also saw the return of Bret Hart to the scene of the famous Montreal Screwjob. Hart got an outstanding ovation in Montreal where his career as we know it pretty much ended. WCW really did fuck all with him after that and we all know the health issues that Bret’s had over the years too. It’s a shame that one of the matches Bret is best known for is that one. Anyway, I’m getting off track. The point of Bret being there was to build towards Punk/Cena for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions. Heel Punk was in full flow, disrespecting legends and all sorts ahead of his match with Cena.

We also saw the blossoming of a beautiful friendship between Kane and Daniel Bryan. Although their Anger Management skits came to an end, we were still treated to some great vignettes showing the great comedy timing that these two guys have together on-screen. It’s just amazing. For me, they’re the best on-screen comedy partnership since Rock’n’Sock or Edge and Christian. They were rewarded for their excellent work with a shot at the WWE Tag-Team Championships at Night of Champions.

Elsewhere, Randy Orton’s intermittent appearances on both Raw and SmackDown since his return from suspension seemed to have ended as he began feuding with Dolph Ziggler, who was fresh off of “firing” Chris Jericho. Initially, it seemed like Orton would be going after the World Heavyweight Championship, but again, WWE thrust ADR into that role and simultaneously sent everyone in the crowd, and watching at home, into a coma. Boringggggg… Boringggggg… Boringggggg… Boringggggg. Wade Barrett also made quite an understated return to proceedings after his injury in early 2012. I figured he’d make an impact in a title match of some description, but he returned in a squash match with Yoshi Tatsu. Things would get better, faster for Wade as 2012 rolled on though.

At the PPV, Miz retained his IC Title in a Fatal-4-Way, Orton defeated Ziggler and Sheamus defeated Alberto del Rio to end a run of what felt like 19 PPV’s in a row where ADR had a title shot. Yes! Yes! Yes! We also got a couple of new champions. First off, Eve benefitted from an attack on Kaitlyn to beat Layla for the Divas Championship and Kryan beat Jimmy Boom to win the WWE Tag-Team Championships. Their win would spawn yet another fantastic catchphrase for Daniel Bryan and Kane, but I’ll get to that shortly. The main-event of the PPV saw CM Punk and John Cena fight to a draw in another tremendous contest between them. Those two have amazing chemistry in the ring together and always have great matches, so as much as “I hate Cena”, I was fine with it.

The title of this part of the year is “Proof that WWE is bad for your health”. I’ve already talked about what happened with Jerry Lawler, but one of the WWE’s top stars was also injured in September and needed surgery that kept him from wrestling for around 6-8 weeks. No, I’m not talking about Khali! Haha… I’m talking about John Cena. Cena’s injury forced WWE to look long and hard to find someone to take his spot. Luckily, there was a man who was “hungry” for success. Who? Keep reading to find out!

Verdict: Purely for the skits with Kane and Daniel Bryan, as well as the Punk/Heyman/Cena dynamic, it’s a pass.

October 2012: A New Star is Born, Punk “connects” with the WWE Universe and WWE Does TNA

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As October kicked off, WWE were minus the in-ring presence of their poster boy, John Cena. Because of an arm injury, Cena couldn’t compete at Hell in a Cell, which left WWE with a huge hole to fill at the top of the card. After a confrontation with Jim Ross at JR’s Appreciation Night on October 1st, Ryback had a stare-down with the WWE Champion CM Punk. Throughout the month, WWE would build Ryback as a contender to Punk’s title. I’ll give credit where credit is due, they did a great job. Ryback basically acted as back-up for the men that Punk was belittling, like Jim Ross, Vince McMahon and Mick Foley. It was an easy way to make sure the crowd would cheer him. Am I a fan of the man? Put it this way. I like him more now than I did when he first debuted. Simple answer? No. Not yet.

Talking of Punk, he was involved in a Street Fight against big Vinnie Mac on Raw in early October. The finish of the match saw Punk escape through the crowd from Vince and Ryback. As Punk was standing in the crowd, the punters thought they had free reign and started pawing at him as if he was an animal. They weren’t just patting his shoulder or sticking their arms out. Punk was getting pushed and shoved all over the shop and after telling the crowd to stop it, it happened again. Punk reacted like any man would have and retaliated. Now, I’m not saying what he did was right or wrong, but what if he’d have lost his balance, fallen down several flights of stairs and got seriously injured? I’d have done exactly the same as Punk. The only sad thing about it was it was the wrong fan who got sucker-punched. The one who did the damage slipped away like a bitch and left someone else to take the bullet. You might be asking, where were the event security? Good question. Nowhere to be seen. They only appeared after the incident with the fan. It was clearly a planned spot, so where in the hell were they? With their fingers up their ass, not paying attention. That’s where. If they’d been doing their job, Punk wouldn’t have connected with the WWE Universe in a physical way.

Over on Smackdown, finally… The Rock… Ah had ya going there! Haha… No, but seriously, WWE finally gave us a break from the incessant push of Alberto del Rio as a main-eventer and he became embroiled in a feud with Randy Orton over who was the new “Apex Prrredatorrr” of the dubu-dubu-eeee. Yet again, the problem with del Rio is his mic work. Listen to the live crowd (on Raw/PPV) when he talks. They couldn’t give two fucks about what he’s saying or doing. It’s different on SmackDown because they can pipe in crowd noise. Look at the crowd on SmackDown. When you hear boo’s, it’s not coming from the crowd. You can tell when the camera pans the arena. Ricardo Rodriguez draws his heat. I’ve kinda gone off topic there, but that explains the problem I have with him. The feud with Orton was decent, but we had too many matches with similar stipulations. Street fights, No DQ matches, No Holds Barred, etc…

The SmackDown World Heavyweight Championship revolved around Sheamus and Big Show. After failing to put away John Cena, Show turned his attention to Sheamo’s World Title. While it sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, it was actually OK, but I’ll get to that in just a second. Wade Barrett also made an impact after easing back into action following his injury. He had a couple of matches with Sheamus that were beyond physical and showed that Barrett is a main-eventer in waiting. It’s just a matter of time before he’s headlining PPV’s. Other talking points from the month before the PPV included the return of John Cena. Instead of choosing to put himself into the Hell in a Cell match, he acted like the missing member of the Spirit Squad as he cheered for Ryback. Whatevs. Ryback/Punk was signed for Hell in a Cell and Punk’s reign was in jeopardy. Feed me Punk!

We also saw something on WWE TV that we’ve not really seen in recent years: a tournament to determine the #1 contender for a title. The tournament was made to figure out the #1 contenders for the WWE Tag-Team Championships. The teams involved were The Uso’s, Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel, Primo & Epico, Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara, Prime-Time Players, Jimmy Boom, Team Co-Bro (Santino & Zack Ryder) and Rhodes Scholars (Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow). Ultimately, Rhodes Scholars came out on top against Rey Mysterio & Sin Cara on the Raw before Hell in a Cell, thereby earning their shot at the penny belts.

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Talking of the penny belts, not content with having 2 catchphrases of the year, over the course of late September and early October, Daniel Bryan would introduce us to the third. “I’M THE TAG-TEAM CHAMPIONS!!”, “I’M THE TAG-TEAM CHAMPIONS!!”, “I’M THE TAG-TEAM CHAMPIONS!!”

After losing in the tag-team tournament, Jimmy Boom decided to go their separate ways, which resulted in Kofi turning his attention back to what he seems to know best: a mid-card singles title. Kofi ended up pinning the Miz to win the Intercontinental Championship on an episode of WWE Main Event. Before the title match even took place, on Raw, Kingston dished out a severe Trouble in Paradise to Miz that legit fucked him up! Miz reportedly got concussed and you can see the damage to his face. To say he got caught flush would be an understatement! Anyway, that’s pretty much all that happened pre-PPV, so let’s take a quick look at what happened.

Orton beat ADR, Rhodes Scholars beat Kryan by DQ, Kofi Kingston retained his IC Title, Cesaro retained the US Title against Justin Gabriel in a throwaway match, Rey and Sin Cara defeated Prime-Time Players in an unadvertised match and Eve Torres saw off Layla and Kaitlyn in a triple-threat for the Divas Title. Now, you might’ve noticed that I’ve missed out the title matches and that’s for good reason.

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best match of the Hell in a Cell PPV was the World Heavyweight Championship match between Sheamus and Big Show. It was a physical fist-fight, that might not have been one for the purists, but it was a quality, believable match that rightly stole the show. The upshot of it was that Big Show won the World Heavyweight Championship from Sheamus. I said at the time it was a great match and I’ll guarantee that over the next few years, it’ll become one of the most under-rated World Heavyweight Championship matches of all time. It told a great story and proved just how good both of these bigger men can be under the right circumstances. It was just fantastic.

Talking of under-rated, that brings me nicely to the WWE Championship match contested inside Hell in a Cell between CM Punk and Ryback. Going in to the match, WWE had backed themselves into a corner and something had to give. Either Punk’s title reign or Ryback’s undefeated streak. It was just a matter of how. Nobody that I spoke to, nobody, thought there would be a clean finish, and there wasn’t. WWE decided to go with the tried and tested method of a dodgy referee. This time, it was the turn of Brad Maddox. Or Brad Mad-Ox if you’re CM Punk. Anyway, as Ryback had Punk up for Shellshock, Mad-Ox low-blowed him. Punk rolled him up and Maddox fast-counted to ensure Punk kept the title. It made Ryback look strong and it kept the belt on Punk, so I guess mission accomplished. Say what you want about Ryback, but in his first main-event on PPV, he did quite well. Punk, as always, was excellent and Brad Maddox, or Mad-Ox? We’ll get to him in a bit. The one thing about Hell in a Cell that really worried me was after the WWE Championship match when Ryback and Punk climbed the structure. With nowhere to go, Ryback picked up Punk and Shellshocked him on top of the cell. I genuinely thought that the roof of the cell was going to break, causing Punk and Ryback to fall through the structure. Thank Christ it didn’t. It would have been uncomfortable to watch.

The only other thing to happen in WWE of note that month came after Hell in a Cell and it started a rivalry between John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, AJ Lee and Vickie Guerrero. AJ was “forced to resign” from her position as General Manager of Raw after allegations of “fraternising” with a male member of the roster. Shock there huh? She’d already worked her way through Daniel Bryan, Kane and CM Punk before then. But this is WWE, where promiscuity is OK, but saying naughty words isn’t! Vince McMahon then announced her replacement in the new role of “Managing Supervisor of Raw”, Vickie Guerrero. A female authority figure embroiled in a “love interest” storyline with the face of the company? Where have we seen this before? Hmm… The whole thing gets worse from here, but that’s just a wee taster to whet your appetite before it gets really good, or bad.

Verdict: Wow. Tough. It was good seeing Vince back. They built Ryback well, but some of the stuff was brutal. For me, the good doesn’t outweigh the bad so I’m afraid it’s a fail from me.

November 2012: The Return of the King, Punk defies the odds AGAIN and Rollins & Ambrose debut

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So, as we’ve established, heading towards the end of the year, the key word to describe the main-event storylines on Raw was: shenanigans. Let’s deal with the elephant in the room right now. The whole AJ/Cena/Vickie/Dolph thing was a blatant rip-off of the whole AJ Styles/Dixie Carter/Claire Lynch storyline from TNA. That storyline failed miserably in the first place, so why WWE decided to do the same story that wasn’t just a parody of the TNA angle, it was even worse, is beyond me. I understand that everything in wrestling is fair game and that storylines get recycled in some way, shape or form, but when it’s so obvious that the company you copied it from references it live on their own TV show in the same week, you know shit’s fucked up. The pictures looked photoshopped, the audio sounded so scripted it wasn’t even funny and the “security” footage? Puh-lease. Just brutal.

Let’s deal with the other controversy and Brad Mad-Ox. He wasn’t on Raw after the HiaC PPV, but the UK fans were treated to “the Brad Mad-Ox experience” (see what I did there!) early in November when Raw was taped from Birmingham. He came out and basically whined and bitched about how he’s never had a fair shot. Before he could finish, big Vinnie Mac was ‘reppin in the UK! Vince gave him the chance of a $1million contract if he could beat Ryback in a match the following week. In fairness, $1million isn’t that much for Vince. After all, his wife pissed $100million away on some kind of ridiculous pipe-dream of being a politician. Stop Linda. I bet Vince wishes that you’d go back to that comatose state you were in 10 years ago so you couldn’t waste his mon-eyyy! Haha… Mad-Ox was on the wrong end of a severe ass-kicking from the one-man wrecking ball Ryback and got shipped off in an ambulance.

November also saw the emotional “return of the King” (wee LoTR ref there!), when Jerry Lawler made his triumphant return to Monday Night Raw. Let me clear things up. I’m glad that Lawler returned. I truly am. I’m glad that he’s recovering, not recovered, from his heart attack. My family has been through things like that on countless occasions and I know for a fact that the victim (if that’s the right word) never truly recovers. Lawler should never wrestle again because quite honestly, it could kill him and nobody wants to see that. I also don’t think he should be back at work this quickly. He should’ve been given an indefinite amount of time off to recuperate. I understand that Lawler’s probably the kind of guy that doesn’t like sitting on his ass doing nothing, but that’s better than running the risk of doing yourself some serious damage. I’ve got this very uneasy feeling that Lawler’s return was pushed to keep heat on CM Punk. Whether it was by Vince McMahon, creative or even Lawler himself, I don’t know, but that’s the impression I’ve got from the whole scenario.

Anyway, as great as Lawler’s return was, I just shook my head with disbelief at some wrestling fans who decided to shit all over CM Punk and Paul Heyman for the fake heart attack segment. I said it at the time and I’ll say it again. Newsflash! They’re heels. That’s what they’re supposed to do. The thing that sickened me about the whole thing was the fact that before Lawler even came out to the ring, WWE showed one of their amazing video packages. They do a great job with those. Really. However, the thing I found completely classless and disgusting was the backstage footage they showed (not the stuff where he was being carted from ringside) of the doctors and medical staff working to save the man’s life. That’s where the “heat” should go. That’s where the abuse should be directed. It shouldn’t be aimed at two guys taking the piss out of the situation in the ring. Seriously…

I’ve not talked much about the in-ring action from November, so let’s sort that right now! Haha… The original main-event that had been announced for Survivor Series was a 5-on-5 tag-match, where the teams would be captained by Mick Foley and CM Punk. However, Vince McMahon “coerced” Vickie Guerrero into changing it so that there would be a WWE Title match. This time, it would be a triple-threat between CM Punk, Ryback and the fully recovered John Cena.

Yet again, Punk was booked in a multi-man PPV title defence. It was for the 5th time in 12 PPV’s. WWE make this big deal about other superstars “defying the odds” – that’s what Punk’s been doing throughout his whole title reign and it never gets mentioned. Also, WWE likes to throw out these “Did You Know?” facts throughout their TV shows. Well, allow me to beg your indulgence for a moment. Did you know that in his 13-month title reign, CM Punk has only had 2 genuine one-on-one PPV title defences where there hasn’t been any form of gimmick or multi-man match? By gimmick I mean special ref, No DQ, Street Fight etc and by multi-man I mean triple-threats, Elimination Chambers etc. The first was against Daniel Bryan at Over the Limit and the second was against John Cena at Night of Champions. That’s fighting against the odds people! Show the champ some respect!

Anyway, the 5-on-5 match still happened, but with no build until the Raw before Survivor Series. Mick Foley was still captain of his team, but taking over captaincy of Punk’s team was Mr Money in the Bank, Dolph Ziggler. It made no sense. What “beef” did they have? None as far as I could make out. I don’t even remember them interacting with each other. Anyway, most of the participants in both teams were all involved in mid-card feuds. Team Foley consisted of Kryan, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston and, courtesy of winning a “Raw Active” poll, The Miz, who was slowly starting to turn babyface. They went up against Damien Sandow, Alberto del Rio, Wade Barrett, David Otunga (who replaced the injured Cody Rhodes) and, of course, Dolph Ziggler.

Elsewhere on the PPV, we were treated (and I use that term loosely) to Team Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara (Brodus Clay, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Mysterio and Sin Cara) against Team Prime-Time Players (Tensai, Primo, Epico and the Prime-Time Players), Eve Torres against Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship, Antonio Cesaro defending the US Championship against R-Truth and the two title matches – Big Show defending against Sheamus and Punk in the triple-threat against Ryback and Cena.

The results of the PPV saw (for lack of a better term) Team Mysterio, Eve Torres, Antonio Cesaro and Team Ziggler winning their matches. Sheamus beat Big Show by DQ, so Show kept the title. Post-match, Sheamus basically laid waste to Big Show with a steel chair. In the process, Sheamus was laying the seeds for what would happen over the course of the next month. The main-event of Survivor Series was a triple-threat between Ryback, John Cena and the reigning and defending WWE Champion, CM Punk.

Going in to the match, there was speculation about how Punk could retain his title. He was close to holding the belt for an entire year, but he had to overcome two powerhouses in Ryback and Cena. The match went back and forth, as triple-threats tend to do, and towards the end, it finally looked like Punk’s reign was about to end. Then, three men dressed in black came out of the crowd and wiped out Ryback, powerbombing him through the table.

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Shockingly for WWE, and I’ll give them credit here, they immediately acknowledged who the 3 men were: Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Almost as one, you could hear the sound of 100’s of 1000’s of members of the IWC collectively cream their pants. Sales of Kleenex must’ve gone through the fucking roof as we finally got to see the main roster debuts of Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. They didn’t say anything, they just laid waste to everyone but Punk and left. With Cena down in the ring, Punk crawled over and got the pinfall, leaving him to celebrate hanging on to his beloved title.

The next night on Raw, Punk celebrated his year as champion and was interrupted by Ryback, who had earlier been granted a rematch against Punk at the upcoming TLC. Before any serious damage was done, the trio of Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose came out and put Ryback through a table again. Dolph Ziggler’s rise to prominence continued, albeit through the clusterfuck of a storyline involving John Cena and AJ. Ziggler managed to get the advantage over Cena by spearing him through a cubical in the men’s locker room after he’d cut a scathing promo on AJ. Cena tried to “defend her honour”, but ultimately failed. That’s a case that I don’t think even David Otunga could win.

To be honest, a lot of what happened in November made no sense. The Foley/Ziggler 5-on-5 match, the AJ/Cena storyline, but there was a lot of stuff that was good. The debuts of Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose, the continuation of the Show/Sheamus feud and the fact that Punk managed to hold on to his belt for an entire calendar year.

Verdict: As much as I hated the AJ/Cena stuff (and I really did), I just think that the Punk/Heyman dynamic and the debut of Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose were enough to earn November an overall pass.

December 2012: Tables, Ladders, Chairs, Woooooo’s, a Shield and a Crazy Chick

(For the purposes of this article I’ve not discussed most of the last couple of Raw’s from 2012 because they were largely throwaway shows, apart from the announcement of Punk vs Ryback in a TLC Match for the 1st Raw of 2013 and The Rock being in the house that night too)

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As December kicked off, Punk was still WWE Champion, AJ and John Cena were still love’s young dream, Big Show was still World Heavyweight Champion and The Shield were wreaking havoc all over the shop. The Shield basically said that they were there to iron out the injustice that was rife throughout the WWE. Over the course of December, they went on to attack the likes of The Miz (welcome to consequences Miz!), Randy Orton (who has since been written off TV), Rey Mysterio, Sin Cara, Team Hell No and, of course, they continued to focus their attention on Ryback.

There was rampant speculation that CM Punk was the mastermind behind The Shield and on the first Raw of December, Miz called out Punk on the rumours and invited him on the most must-see talk show in WWE history, Miz TV, to take a lie detector test. After thinking about it, Punk agreed and we’d end that episode of Raw with Punk taking a lie detector test. He answered all kinds of absurd questions from Miz about things that had happened in his WWE, but before we could find out if he was “lying” or not, The Shield came out and destroyed everything in sight.

Kryan and Ryback came out to even the score and they fought the Shield through the crowd, leaving Punk to milk the heat for all it was worth. However, when he climbed back down off the turnbuckle, he turned around into an ass-kicking from Ryback, who’d reappeared from out of nowhere! (Hey Michael Cole, how ya doin?!) Ryback basically used ladders and chairs as weapons before driving Punk through a table. At some point during the assault, Punk re-aggravated an old knee injury and had to have emergency surgery, which ruled him out of appearing at the final PPV of the year, TLC.

Vince McMahon would go on to issue a “press release” changing the WWE Title match at TLC to a 6-man TLC match pitting Kryan & Ryback against The Shield, where the match could only be decided by pinfall or submission.

Over on the SmackDown side of things, the Big Show/Sheamus feud continued as we learned that there would be a 3rd match in the series. After Sheamus’ post-match attack at Survivor Series, it was announced that the match would be a Chairs match (which must be one of the most ridiculous match stipulations I’ve ever heard of). Both men agreed to sign a “no-contact” clause, guaranteeing that there couldn’t be any physicality between them until the PPV. If Sheamus broke the contract, he’d lose his title shot and if Show broke it, he’d be stripped of his World Championship. Needless to say both men figured ways to get round it, including Sheamus launching poor Ricardo Rodriguez into Show’s crotch!

Elsewhere, things got pretty heated between John Cena and Dolph Ziggler as we hurtled towards their Ladder Match for Dolph’s MiTB briefcase at TLC. AJ seemed to get crazier and crazier, and she was making herself even more familiar with the men’s locker room. Insert your own joke here. It felt like WWE were treating Ziggler as a big deal and some of his promos in December were excellent. In the last 6 months of 2012, he’d had interactions and matches with Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and now, he was feuding with John Cena. All 3 of those men are huge main-event stars and Ziggler was never overshadowed by them. I’ll admit that, when their match for Dolph’s briefcase was announced, I was pissed because I was convinced that Cena would win, but did he? I’ll get to that in a bit.

There were also a couple of decent mid-card feuds between Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett for the Intercontinental Championship, as well as Antonio Cesaro and R-Truth for the United States Championship. How weird would it be if both members of Jimmy Boom were to say: “WE’RE THE MID-CARD CHAMPIONS!! WE’RE THE MID-CARD CHAMPIONS!!” No? Worth a try! Anyway, speaking of Antonio Cesaro, he had a really impressive few weeks from the end of November through December. Every time he was involved in a match on Raw or SmackDown, he was excellent, including a great showing against Sheamus and a Fatal-4-Way match on Raw for his United States Championship. I really like what WWE are doing with Cesaro. Even although he’s “only” the US Champion, at least he’s on TV every week and he’s having great matches. Hopefully he’ll bring some prestige back to the belt.

Something that I’ve not really mentioned throughout the last couple of months is the Divas Championship. To be honest, the Divas division isn’t as interesting any more, although Eve Torres is a great heel champion. If you’d told me 18 months ago that I’d be saying that, I’d have called you a liar. Fast forward to now, and she’s had a brilliant 2012. She’s been at the heart of some big storylines, and you can tell she’s worked really hard to get better in the ring. The fact that she seems to have got even hotter since turning heel is just an added bonus!

Anyway, as we got to the TLC PPV, there had been 6 matches announced beforehand, which is pretty much standard for WWE these days. There was a #1 contender’s “Santa’s Helpers” Battle Royal on the pre-show, where the winner would face Eve for the Divas Championship. Naomi won. What? Who’s Naomi? One of the Funkadactyls. Didn’t you know that? Get the funk out of here!

On the actual show itself, Rhodes Scholars beat Mysterio and Sin Cara to earn a tag-title shot against Kryan, Antonio Cesaro and Kofi Kingston both successfully defended their US and IC Titles against R-Truth and Wade Barrett respectively and Eve Torres retained the Divas title. In an unannounced match, Miz, Alberto del Rio and the Brooklyn Brawler overcame the 3-Man Band.

In a Miz TV segment earlier on the PPV, 3MB started intimidating the Spanish announce team, so Ricardo came out to stop them. 3MB turned their attention to Ricardo and ADR came out to protect his friend. After standing watching all this chaos unfold, Miz got involved and evened the score somewhat before accepting 3MB’s challenge to a match later. The most surprising thing about this segment was the fact that ADR apparently turned “babyface”. I know that he played the heel role on the Xmas Eve episode of Raw, so whether his face turn was just something they (WWE) were just teasing for further down the line is something we’ll find out in the New Year.

Let’s talk about the 3 main-events then shall we? I’ll start off with the Chairs Match for the World Heavyweight Championship between Big Show and Sheamus. Again, it was a decent match that more than matched their previous contests in terms of physicality if not quality. The finish came when Big Show pulled out a chair that must have been the size of a fucking door to hit Sheamus with and retain his title. Judging by what’s happened since the PPV, it seems like this feud is over, but I guess we’ll find out as we head towards the Rumble.

In what I felt was a surprising result, Dolph Ziggler retained his MiTB briefcase in his Ladder Match with John Cena. Believe me, this was an excellent match. I think that the more that they work together, their chemistry will get even better. Ziggler had an answer for Cena’s AA at almost every opportunity and again, Cena showed that, with the right opponent, he can do the business. The finish came when AJ stopped Vickie Guerrero from interfering in the match as Ziggler was down. She took care of Vickie, using some of Cena’s moves, before telling him to get the briefcase. As he reached for it, AJ pushed the ladder! Cena managed to land on his feet, but he got nailed with a SuperKick from Ziggler before Dolph climbed the ladder to get his briefcase. It was a great match between 2 very good wrestlers and hopefully this feud continues for the next month or two. I’ll deal with the AJ heel turn when I talk about the Slammys in a bit.

The last match I want to talk about was the spectacular 6-man TLC match that pitted Kryan & Ryback against The Shield. I think it was booked perfectly. They didn’t over expose Ryback, leaving Kane and Daniel Bryan to work the match with The Shield. This match told a fantastic story. There was reasoning behind everything, which isn’t always the case. Gimmick matches have a tendency to be more about spots than telling stories, so every man in the match deserves credit for how this went. There’s a couple of things I want to talk about here though. The first is the crowd reaction that Daniel Bryan got throughout the match. Go back and listen to it. They’re going nuts for him! That’s a sign of how far he’s come in the last year and I genuinely hope he’s given a run with the WWE/World Title in 2013. He deserves it because he’s been fantastic. The second thing, obviously, was the spot where Ryback threw Seth Rollins off the ladder and through a handful of tables. It was almost a Jeff Hardy-esque spot where you knew that once that spot was done, Rollins’ match would be over. If you go back and look at it, it’s really dangerous because he smacks his head off the table as he’s trying to get in position to crash through the tables. He looks completely out of it when you see the post-match pictures again. It was just a crazy spot, but the key thing is that it didn’t take away from all of the other work that the other guys did in the match.

I don’t really like going over the top when it comes to praising a particular PPV, but I genuinely think that WWE made a statement with TLC 2012. Their younger stars (Rollins, Reigns, Ambrose and Ziggler) all looked incredibly strong and I just hope that their 2013 doesn’t fade into mediocrity. They (WWE) should keep faith with these guys because they’re loaded with potential. The key thing is patience. If they keep booking them like they did at TLC, it won’t be long before these guys are consistently main-eventing TV and PPV’s.

The last really noteworthy thing of the year was the 2012 Slammy Awards the night after TLC. It’s the night of the year where WWE give out ridiculous awards and bring back some older stars to pop the crowd for the holiday season. We saw The Boogeyman come back. Yup. You did just read that. The Boogeyman. In the WWE. In 2012. I couldn’t believe it either, but never mind. It was tremendous to see the New Age Outlaws together again too. I always mark out when I see them. AJ and Dolph Ziggler kissed after AJ won a Slammy for “Kiss of the Year” (it wasn’t hard considering that she was nominated 4 times), but the biggest shock of all was the return to WWE TV of the 16-time World Champion and 2-time Hall-of-Famer, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair!

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Yup. Naitch was back baby! I’m not gonna lie. It was fantastic to see him again. He looked like he hadn’t missed a step on the mic and his promo/interaction with Punk was tremendous. I’ll never forget the sight of Paul Heyman locked in the Figure-4! Flair looked like he enjoyed himself and I’m happy with him being on TV, as long as he’s not involved in matches. After the Punk/Heyman segment, Flair stayed out and talked for a minute or so, before The Shield came down and I thought it was game over. However, along with Ryback and Kryan, they fought off The Shield and Flair got his moment again. We also got treated to a backstage segment with Kane, Daniel Bryan and Flair where they exchanged “Yes!”, “No!” and “Woo!”, which was pretty funny.

Sheamus and Big Show had another in-ring confrontation, this time about the massive chair Show used at TLC. Sheamus came out to shake his hand, which Show accepted before throwing out an insult about the Irish potato famine. Sheamo reacted and wiped Show out with the massive chair a handful of times. When he left the ring, Ziggler came down to cash in his briefcase and the crowd were going nuts! John Cena had other ideas though and attacked Ziggler before the bell rang, because he was still pissed at what happened the night before. The crowd weren’t happy at that though!

Later in the night, Vickie Guerrero teamed with John Cena (yes, that actually happened) to take on AJ and Dolph. As the ladies (using the term loosely) leave ringside separately, we were left with Cena and Dolph. Just as it looked like Cena was going to win, AJ came back out with another NXT star, Big E Langston! Basically, Langston just destroyed Cena and left him laying out in the ring.

Things continued on the live Smackdown before Xmas when AJ explained John Cena “broke her heart”. Aww… Bless. I’m sure you’ll get over it. You’re seen on TV with a different guy every couple of months anyway. Big E Langston was explained as “her friend”. Wonder how long it is til she shacks up with him? I’ll say by the time Elimination Chamber rolls around. We got a main-event tag match that night with Sheamus and Cena against Show and Ziggler. The finish to the match was almost the same as Raw. Sheamus and Show fought to the back and after kicking out of the ZigZag, Cena hit the AA on Ziggler before Big E Langston came in and wiped him out again. That was pretty much it for the in-ring action from WWE in 2012 to be honest.

Because it’s still somewhat fresh in my mind, I kinda took longer talking about December than I thought I would. For the most part, matches and promos from the last month of 2012 were excellent. It’s just a shame that it had to come at the end of the year!

Verdict: I enjoyed almost everything that happened in December. Probably WWE’s best overall month since April. It has to be a pass.

My Overall WWE Grades for 2012

January: Pass

February: Pass

March: Pass

April: Pass

May: Fail

June: Fail

July: Fail

August: Pass

September: Pass

October: Fail

November: Pass

December: Pass

Overall Thoughts

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It’s not hard to work out that I gave the last 12 months in WWE an overall pass, but the best way to describe their year has been up and down. The stuff that’s been good has been excellent, but the stuff that’s been bad has been brutal. For me, the best 2 months of the year were April and December, which isn’t a coincidence when you consider they’re the months that introduced new stars and fresh faces into a stale main-event picture.

When I reviewed the first 6 months of 2012, I said that I hoped WWE would:

  • improve the overall quality of Raw before and after the move to 3 hours
  • give John Cena a break to prolong his in-ring career
  • Brock Lesnar, Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton would make an impact when they returned
  • sign any, or all, of Matt Morgan, Ric Flair, Alex Shelley or Amazing Red

For one reason or another, none of those things happened. Since moving to a 3-hour format, it’s been really difficult to sit and watch Raw. If they cut down on the needless amount of replays and the overexposure of Twitter and Tout, they could work on reasons to help the fans invest in some of the less well-known characters. For example, the only match worth a damn on the Slammy show was the main-event. The rest were throwaway matches that meant nothing.

They also didn’t give John Cena a break and what happened? He came down with an injury that kept him out for 6 weeks and it threw a spanner in the works, so they had to come up with a short-term plan – Ryback. WWE have to be very careful with their top guys and they need to do something to keep them from getting burned out. In the last 4 months, both John Cena and CM Punk have gone down with injuries. What if those injuries had happened at the same time? To put it bluntly, WWE would be fucked. For the sake of their wrestlers, WWE have to find a way to spreading the burden that their top guys are carrying. Otherwise, these injuries are just going to keep cropping up.

The less said about the impact, or lack thereof, made by Lesnar, Mysterio and Orton the better. Lesnar was back for about 4 weeks before leaving again, Mysterio’s spent more time off TV than off it and it’s the same with Orton now. Completely underwhelming from those 3, but well done to the guys that have stepped up, like Daniel Bryan, Kane, Damien Sandow, Ryback, Miz, Kofi etc…

In terms of the “TNA 4” (for lack of a better phrase), only Ric Flair has appeared on TV. Even then, that was only a couple of weeks ago. Morgan has re-signed with TNA and I’ve got no idea what’s happening with Shelley and Red. To be honest, for their sake, I hope they don’t sign because they’ll get lost in the shuffle or end up in mid-card purgatory like so many others. It’d be a waste of their talents.

Like I’ve said, overall the year was generally good, but it’s frustrating because they’ve shown glimpses of how much better it can be. They need to be consistent. They can’t put all this time and effort into a group like The Shield if they’re not going to do the same with other new signings/existing members of the roster. I’m not stupid enough to think that everyone can get pushed at the same time. Of course they can’t, but if their characters are developed enough, it gives the fans a reason to care about what’s happening. There’s not enough of that in WWE and that’s something they need to work on.

A Look Forward into 2013

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I really hope that WWE can keep the momentum they’ve built up from November and December going in 2013. In terms of what I want to see? I’ll give you four “hopes” if that’s the right word:

More superstars elevated from the mid-card towards the main-event: If there are more guys at Cena or Punk’s level, it means that, if one of them gets injured, there’s a credible replacement ready to step in to the breach. That’s what WWE don’t have right now: options at main-event level. They’ve got the talent on the roster, but it’s about giving them the chance.

Stop relying on legends to pop ratings: It annoys me when WWE bring back guys like HBK, Brock Lesnar and The Rock to pop a rating when things get difficult. People don’t watch TV the same way these days. More often than not, these guys are just back for a week and then the rating drops again. By investing in, and creating, fresh characters, they’ll be able to grow for the future and won’t need to rely on the old guard coming back to help out. I think that’s something Vince is gradually realising.

The Shield, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler rising to the top: I genuinely hope that the terrific 2012 that Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler have had doesn’t result in them getting lost in the shuffle next year. Those guys have worked too hard to get to where they are and deserve their spots, even when the “big boys” get back. The same goes for The Shield. WWE have done a great job so far, but if they don’t keep them (The Shield) relevant over the next 12 months, they’ll go the same way as The Nexus.

For WWE to cut down on the amount of TV they produce: Simply put, I don’t have enough time in my life to watch everything that happens on WWE TV. For example, the week that TLC was on PPV, I watched 8 hours of WWE product that week. A 3-hour PPV, then 3 hours for Raw and 2 for the live Smackdown. It’s too much. They should focus on how good their shows are, instead of how many shows they’ve got. It might make the shows better. For example, would you rather read a crap wrestling column every day or a good one every week? I know what I’d prefer!

Well guys, that’ll wrap things up for the first FATP of the new year! This kind of turned into a monster of a column as I was in the middle of writing it! Haha… I tried to be as honest as I could though, without just moaning for the sake of it! What did you think of the last 6 months of 2012 in WWE? How would you describe their year overall? I’ve spent a lot of time and effort on writing this article. It came in at almost 11,000 words, so please get involved by either leaving a comment below or finding me on Twitter @george_sltd!

I’ve got some big things planned for this column over the next 12 months, so hopefully you’ll stick with me! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next week.

Peace out,

George



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