WWE News: Reviews, Analysis and Rumors for Week of Feb. 26
While there were plenty of interesting happenings in the WWE this week, as we are now less than a month away from WrestleMania, the vast majority of the conversation has been about The Rock and John Cena, with The Rock having made his return to RAW on Monday.
There are certainly some varying opinions regarding who got the better of who, what was real and what was scripted. Whatever the case, it was a great way to kick off the build toward their match at WrestleMania as it has everyone talking.
In addition to that, there was plenty of other news regarding the biggest event in wrestling, as a match was added and further matches were speculated upon. The current card already looks like one of the best in recent memory, but some subtle additions could really round it out.
Here are the latest news pieces and rumors regarding the WWE for the week of Feb. 26.
John Cena and The Rock Start Build Toward WrestleMania
The Rock made his return to RAW on Monday, and he and John Cena had themselves a promo war. The Rock continued to make fun of Cena and attempted to get things to trend on Twitter before Cena interrupted and pointed out some very obvious notes on The Rock's wrist.
This has prompted many to say that Cena "owned" The Rock on Monday. There has been a ton of discussion with regards to whether or not the notes were legitimate or not. Regardless of that, the initial build toward their WrestleMania match seems to have worked.
I have to give the WWE a lot of credit because it's very obvious to me what they're trying to do, but it's certainly working. The Rock got the better of Cena time and time again earlier in the feud, as he cost him the WWE Championship at last year's WrestleMania and showed him up at Survivor Series. In order to level the playing field, the creative team has decided to make Cena look stronger.
The notes on The Rock's wrist were blatantly planted there. The Rock has either been delivering wrestling promos or remembering lines for a movie for 16 years, so there is no possible way that he would have written noticeable notes on his wrist. They were plain as day, written in black marker and about the size of the Magna Carta, so it was obvious that they would be noticed.
Had Cena not said anything about them, then perhaps it would have been more believable, but the fact that he ribbed on The Rock's notes made it clear that they were there for storyline purposes. The general thought is that The Rock is better on the mic, and he is, so if the company wants to get Cena more over, it made sense for them to make Cena look superior in that regard. Suffice it to say, the notes have fooled a lot of people into thinking Cena was legitimately better than Rock on Monday.
John Laurinaitis and Teddy Long to Switch Places Next Week
RAW general manager John Laurinaitis and SmackDown general manager Teddy Long have clearly been building toward a power struggle for control of both shows, and that will be furthered next week as the GMs will switch places, according to WWE.com.
Some sort of match at WrestleMania appears to be in the works, so the general managers trading places should only help the feud get over with the fans. With Laurinaitis as the heel and Long as the face, it will be quite interesting to see how differently the shows are run than usual.
While the build toward this announcement on RAW was quite lame, I ultimately like the decision and I like the way they decided to announce it. The WWE has been doing a lot more with its website with regards to releasing news, which is a very smart move, in my estimation, as it generates traffic and gets people interested in the website who normally might not be.
As for the decision itself, I'm not overly excited about it, but it makes plenty of sense. This is leading to a Team Laurinaitis vs. Team Long match at WrestleMania in all likelihood, although it isn't clear if they will wrestle or just have representatives. Hopefully this GM switch leads to both men recruiting some superstars and keeping themselves out of the match.
Money in the Bank PPV Back on Instead of Match at WrestleMania
According to ProWrestling.com, WWE has added the Money in the Bank pay-per-view back to its 2012 lineup. It was previously omitted from the pay-per-view lineup and it was thought that the MITB ladder match might take place at WrestleMania, as it originally did, but that no longer appears to be the case.
Many were looking forward to the Money in the Bank ladder match's return to WrestleMania, as it had become a fixture at the event, but at the same time, the Money in the Bank PPV has developed into one of the better events of the year. Either way, it's fair to say that Money in the Bank is a success.
I've waffled on whether I would rather have MITB at WrestleMania or as a pay-per-view, but ultimately, this seems like the right decision. This year's WrestleMania is already so stacked with matches (The Rock vs. John Cena, Triple H vs. The Undertaker, CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho) that the match likely would have been overshadowed anyway.
Also, with a Team Laurinaitis vs. Team Long match seemingly in the works, there won't be a lot of great options for the ladder match anyway. On top of that, Money in the Bank is now one of my favorite pay-per-views and has entered must-buy territory along with the "Big Four" events. Because of that, I'm glad to see that it will be back.
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show Announced for WrestleMania
A fifth match was added to WrestleMania on Friday, when general manager Teddy Long announced that Cody Rhodes would have to defend his Intercontinental Championship against Big Show after weeks of poking and prodding the giant. It had become quite clear that a match was in the works as Rhodes repeatedly distracted Big Show.
Rhodes has been airing clips of embarrassing Big Show WrestleMania moments such as his losses to sumo wrestler Akebono and boxer Floyd Mayweather. It seemed like it might lead to some sort of involvement from Shaquille O'Neal, but that hasn't come to fruition as of yet.
When compared to the rest of the matches on the blockbuster card, Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show may not seem all that great, but it serves a good purpose. For one, it's good just to see the Intercontinental Championship being defended on the grandest stage of them all. The title used to hold great prestige and it actually meant something, but it has been defended quite infrequently at WrestleMania over the past several years.
It will also help Rhodes continue his ascent toward main-event status. It is very obvious that Rhodes is a future world champion, so a win at WrestleMania over a former world champion and long-time favorite like Big Show will make him look quite strong. Rhodes managed to defeat Rey Mysterio at last year's WrestleMania, so giving him another win over a veteran will allow him to take the next step.
Royal Rumble Buy Rates Drop Once Again in 2012
According to SEScoops.com, the WWE's buy rate for the 2012 Royal Rumble was down from each of the last two years as it drew 438,000 buys. That is in contrast to 446,000 last year and 462,000 the year before. This has been consistent with the vast majority of WWE pay-per-views this year, as most have done worse than they did in 2011.
People tend to make a lot out of buy rates, but the drop-off doesn't concern me much at all. For starters, 8,000 isn't really a huge drop when you consider how much money the company makes in the grand scheme of things. The 2011 Rumble had the gimmick of being the biggest ever as it had 40 entrants, and it still did worse than the year before, so the slight dip this year isn't very concerning.
One reason that isn't often discussed for the drop in buy rates lately is the fact that many bars and restaurants now televise the events. It seems as though that has taken off over the past couple years, and lower buy rates are consistent with that. It isn't as if the WWE has any competition, so there really isn't anything to worry about. As long as the company is profitable, and it always will be, it will continue to exist.