WWE News: Reviews, Analysis and Rumors for Week of Dec. 9
With TLC set to emanate from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Sunday, the WWE is nearing the road to WrestleMania. Not only has that led to some intensified storylines, but there is also plenty going on behind the scenes that promises to set the stage for the biggest stretch of the year for WWE.
This week's biggest story is unquestionably The Rock's status between now and WrestleMania. We already know that he'll be challenging for the WWE Championship at Royal Rumble and he'll be wrestling someone at WrestleMania, but new details emerged this week that could shed some more light on his involvement.
Also, a major star in addition to WWE Champion CM Punk may be on the shelf with an injury, while another top star returned to action on Raw. Speaking of Raw, the upcoming edition of WWE's flagship show will be a special one as the Slammy Awards make their return.
Learn about all of that and much more as I break down the biggest WWE news and rumors for the week beginning on Dec. 9.
The Rock Advertised for Elimination Chamber
With the Royal Rumble pay-per-view scheduled for next month, anticipation is mounting when it comes to the return of The Rock. He is going to be facing the WWE Champion, likely CM Punk, at the event in a title match, and it has already been announced that he'll be appearing on a few episodes of Raw prior to that as well.
Many believe The Rock will win the WWE Championship, but the issue is that the Elimination Chamber serves as a bridge between Royal Rumble and WrestleMania.
Some new information has come out, however, that suggests that The Rock very well could win the title. According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, The Rock is being advertised for the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in New Orleans on Feb. 17, 2013.
This revelation obviously adds fuel to the fire with regard to The Rock becoming WWE Champion at Royal Rumble, but I'm still not convinced. The Rock winning seems far too obvious and I still believe that Punk will defeat The Rock thanks to interference of some kind.
The Rock being advertised for Elimination doesn't necessarily mean anything because he could just as easily make a non-wrestling appearance, which means he wouldn't win the title.
There is no doubt that this news makes a Rock win at Royal Rumble more likely than it was before, though. He did wrestle prior to WrestleMania last year when he teamed with John Cena at Survivor Series, so perhaps he'll compete again at Elimination Chamber.
Unless "Stone Cold" Steve Austin makes a surprise return in the Rumble match, expect Cena to win the Rumble, The Rock to win the title at Elimination Chamber and a triple-threat match between Rock, Punk and Cena at 'Mania.
Will The Rock Wrestle at Elimination Chamber? (via WresltingInc.com)
Randy Orton Suffers Wrist Injury
To say that the past year has been a tumultuous one for Randy Orton would be an understatement, but it appears as though things may be getting worse before they get better for The Viper.
According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Orton suffered an apparent wrist injury while working a match during the Tribute to the Troops taping on Sunday in Norfolk, Va.
When you consider everything that Orton has gone through, this is a major setback. Not only did he have to serve a 60-day suspension for a wellness policy violation this past summer, but he also got injured around this same time last year. Orton hasn't truly been in the world title picture since Hell in a Cell 2011, and it doesn't look like he will be again any time soon.
As much as I hate to see anyone get hurt and as odd as it feels to say, the WWE probably won't miss Orton, regardless of how long he's out for. I understand that he still receives a favorable crowd reaction and that he has a big name, but he has been toiling in the upper midcard for over a year. His in-ring skills are good and he often puts on high-quality matches, but his character is stale as can be and he doesn't have the mic skills necessary to freshen things up.
I often wonder if the WWE hasn't put him back in the main-event scene due to the fact that he's boring or because they don't trust him now that another violation will result in his termination.
Whatever the case, Orton isn't technically a top guy any longer. Perhaps this injury will allow him to take a little time off and come back with a vengeance, but if he's going to get back to the level he once occupied, he needs to turn heel or change his gimmick in some noticeable way.
Slammy Awards to Be Held on Raw
The Slammy Awards are typically held just prior to the end of every calendar year in WWE, but there hadn't been any talk regarding them until the most recent episode of Raw. It was announced that the upcoming Dec. 17 edition of the show will play host to the Slammy Awards, though, and fans across the world can vote by utilizing the new WWE app.
There is no question that The Slammys have lost their luster over the years compared to what they used to be, but they're definitely still good for some entertainment.
According to WWE.com, among the categories that will be up for vote are Superstar of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Comeback of the Year and Match of the Year, among others.
I realize that The Slammys are nothing more than kayfabe awards that the WWE uses to build up guys like Ryback, but I still find them to be enjoyable. They were at their best when they took place the night before WrestleMania with Todd Pettengill as the host; however, The Slammys still provide a fun atmosphere and the fans seem to like them for the most part.
Also, the fact that the fans can vote on the awards should get everyone involved as well. When it comes to the Raw Active polls for setting up matches, it often seems like they're fixed, so you never know if the WWE does something similar with Slammy voting.
More than likely, the WWE sets everything up in a way that makes the winner obvious, such as Ryback for Newcomer of the Year and CM Punk for Superstar of the Year.
Whatever the case, it should add a little cache to Raw on Monday.
2012 Slammy Awards Date (via ProWrestling.net)
Cody Rhodes Returns to Action
Despite suffering a multitude of shoulder and neck injuries less than a month ago during a match on Main Event, Cody Rhodes made his in-ring return on Monday as he and Damien Sandow won a Fatal 4-way Elimination Tag match. The victory means they will face Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara in a Tables match at TLC, with the winners becoming the No. 1 contenders for Team Hell No's Tag Team Championships.
Rhodes was injured due to a botched back body drop from Kane that caused him to land awkwardly. It seemed likely that Rhodes could miss a significant amount of time and few expected him to be back so soon, as Sandow had appeared to go off on his own.
Rhodes looks to be perfectly healthy, though, and Team Rhodes Scholars is back in the thick of things in the tag-team division.
I can't help but be impressed with Rhodes' determination to work his way back so quickly. He could have easily taken a significant amount of time off, but he obviously wanted to return to the ring as soon as possible and he made it happen.
Truth be told, Rhodes' injury could have damaged both his career and the career of Sandow. Rhodes Scholars were on the ascent prior to the injury and Sandow was thrust into the singles scene without anything on the horizon.
Sandow probably would have been fine because of his top-notch mic skills, but he is definitely better off as Rhodes' partner in the interim.
Team Hell No has been great for the tag-team division, but Kane and Daniel Bryan are both singles guys who will have to branch out eventually. When that time comes, Team Rhodes Scholars is who they should drop the titles to.
Also, with that said, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Cody's new mustache. With that thing in tow, he and Sandow are almost certain to reach the promised land.
Cody Rhodes Comments on His Return (via WrestlingInc.com)
Billy Gunn Hired as WWE Developmental Trainer
Although he never reached the level of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock or Triple H, Billy Gunn was a huge part of the Attitude Era.
He was a 10-time Tag Team Champion, with five of those reigns coming alongside Road Dogg as the New Age Outlaws.
Also, Gunn had plenty of singles success as an Intercontinental Champion and the winner of the 1999 King of the Ring tournament.
Gunn hasn't technically been part of the WWE family since 2004, but that is no longer the case. According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, the WWE has signed him to train the company's up-and-coming talent. Gunn's appearance on the 1,000th episode of Raw was a clue that he was back on good terms with the WWE, and that obviously is the case.
As someone who was always a big fan of D-Generation X and Gunn in general, this is a great move on WWE's part. While Gunn never reached a main-event level due to what he lacked in the charisma department, he was a tremendous in-ring worker and can certainly teach the youngsters in NXT Wrestling a ton.
On top of that, he literally looks like he can still go in the ring, so perhaps we'll see him as a surprise participant in the Royal Rumble.
I realize that it's unlikely, but ideally, I would love to see the New Age Outlaws reunite, even if it's just for one more match. I consider them to be the greatest team of the Attitude Era, and since Road Dogg works for the WWE as an agent, it's a possibility.
The perfect way to do it would be a Tag Team Turmoil match at WrestleMania, with the New Age Outlaws being an unannounced part of it. Whatever the case, I believe Gunn and Road Dogg could do a lot to help tag-team wrestling in WWE, even in a limited capacity.
Billy Gunn Re-Hired by WWE (via WrestlingInc.com)