With Elimination Chamber on the horizon, the WWE has nearly reached the most crucial stretch on the road to WrestleMania. Not only does that mean that 'Mania feuds and storylines will soon be created, but it also means that the WWE brass is working overtime behind the scenes to make everything as good as it can possibly be.
One of the major talking points from a backstage perspective is the status of The Undertaker. There have been countless reports about his availability for WrestleMania and concerns that health issues or disagreements in terms of compensation could potentially keep The Deadman off the card at his signature event.
There is no solid proof regarding what direction The Phenom is leaning in, so there will be plenty of speculation until he returns officially. In addition to The Undertaker, a top WWE star narrowly avoided serious injury at a WWE live event, a well-known independent wrestler made his NXT debut, Jack Swagger has a new manager and a popular WWE announcer is set to take time off soon.
Read about all of that and the rest of WWE's biggest news and rumors for the week beginning on Feb. 10.
For the past few years, the story has always been the same with The Undertaker. He is no longer a full-time competitor, but he always manages to come back for WrestleMania and put on a classic match. There are constant rumors about him being too injured or too old to return, but he always manages to come through. This year has been no different, as fans everywhere are panicking about the prospects of a WrestleMania without The Deadman.
According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, however, The Undertaker most definitely is not out of the WWE's 'Mania plans at the moment, and the two sides are still trying to come to an agreement. The site is also reporting that any snags that have been hit when it comes to a potential deal is due to money rather than Taker's health. Should The Undertaker work things out with Vince McMahon, Triple H, et al., it is believed that he will put his 20-0 record on the line against CM Punk.
As someone who constantly consumes wrestling content, news and rumors, it takes lot to annoy me, but this Undertaker situation certainly succeeds in doing so. There are so many different reports out there that I choose to take each and every one of them with a grain of salt. I highly doubt that anyone aside from Taker, McMahon, Triple H and a couple of other high-ranking WWE officials have any correct information with regards to The Undertaker's WrestleMania status.
Saying that The Undertaker may not compete at a show he has helped to make famous is certainly a sexy story for the dirt sheets. They are based on speculation rather than fact, though. There will eventually come a time when The Undertaker either can't compete anymore or won't want to, but I can't see that happening yet. He put on another fantastic match last year, and a match is on the table against a guy who just came off a 434-day reign with the WWE Championship. All Taker is asked of by the WWE is to wrestle once per year, and I'm sure that he'll ultimately oblige.
We often forget that professional wrestlers put their bodies and well-being on the line each and every time they step into the ring, but once in a while we are reminded of that fact. Such a reminder took place at a WWE live event in Springfield, Mo. this past Saturday. According to WrestlingInc.com, The Miz was trying to execute a vertical suplex on CM Punk, but he lost his handle on Punk and dropped him awkwardly.
Although Punk was reportedly a bit loopy, he did not suffer a concussion, nor did he suffer any other type of injury. It's obvious that Punk was very lucky in this instance, as he could have missed a significant amount of time, had his career ended or even had his life ended in a worst-case scenario. I'm sure that he, the WWE, his fans and especially The Miz are happy that he was able to walk away generally unscathed.
A situation such as this one should serve as an example to everyone in the locker room that safety is more important than anything. WWE superstars often take the life of another in their hands, and that is a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly. The Miz obviously screwed up, but I'm not going to bash him for it. Plenty of fans are doing that already, and I'm not sure it's necessarily fair. Many are pointing back to an incident with R-Truth last year where he failed to catch him on a suicide dive, so The Miz now has a reputation as a botch machine.
When you consider how often The Miz and other WWE superstars wrestle, though, it's pretty amazing that they're perfect almost every time they compete. All it takes is one slip up to ruin someone's life, though, so it's important to be extremely careful. I'm sure The Miz felt horrible about the whole situation, and I have to assume that Punk forgave him. I'm sure that Punk has made some mistakes over the course of his long career, so he knows what it feels like to let someone down. Since Punk was able to walk away, this is a non-issue, and everyone needs to move on.
When it was announced several weeks ago that the WWE had signed El Generico to a developmental contract, indy fans everywhere rejoiced. El Generico was a top star in Ring of Honor and countless other small promotions, and many are happy to see him get his big break. One caveat that has come with the excitement, however, is the fear that the WWE will strip him of the gimmick that has made him so successful and saddle him with something that will weigh him down.
If his first NXT appearance is any indication, that won't be the case. According to WrestlingNewsWorld.com, Generico made his debut on Wednesday as he accompanied Brodus Clay to the ring for his match with Conor O'Brian. El Generico donned his traditional attire, complete with his signature mask. He has yet to compete in his first NXT match, but it looks like El Generico will live on in the WWE.
I'm not as big of an indy wrestling fan as many people out there, but I have seen enough of El Generico to know that he has a unique gimmick that could easily translate to the WWE's PG product. The WWE is often obsessed with gaining total ownership of a wrestler's name and character, but exceptions can certainly be made in special circumstances. CM Punk, for example, was able to keep his name and gimmick when he jumped ship to the WWE, and we all know how well that has worked for all parties involved.
It looks like El Generico may be in a similar situation, and I have to give the WWE credit if that's true. As much as the WWE likes to be in control, it's more important to get the most out of the talent that it employs. Perhaps El Generico is talented enough to make a different gimmick work, but why take that chance when he has proven to be a star as a faux luchador? Hopefully El Generico is here to stay in the WWE. If he is, I have a feeling that we'll be seeing him on the main roster much sooner than most.
It has been said by many fans for quite some time that Jack Swagger is in desperate need of a manager and a mouthpiece. The WWE tried putting him with Vickie Guerrero, and while that did lead to a brief run with the United States Championship, he ultimately fell flat. Swagger returned to WWE programming after a five-month hiatus a few weeks ago, but he was still flying solo. That changed on the most recent edition of Raw, however.
Swagger was accompanied to the ring for his match against Zack Ryder by a shabby-looking old man who goes by the name of Zeb Colter. Most wrestling fans probably know him better as Southern wrestling veteran Dutch Mantel. Colter has been a wrestler, manager, commentator and booker, so he has done it all in the wrestling business and understands what it takes to succeed. Colter will attempt to take that experience and apply it to the self-professed "real American."
There were some mixed reactions to Colter, who was formerly known as Uncle Zeb in the WWE, but I'm definitely intrigued by his character. It appears as though he is a Southern conservative who will speak out against immigration and other issues that he deems to be un-American. That should jive well with Swagger's new gimmick as well. When Swagger first came back he appeared to be the same guy as the one who left five months earlier, but he is now much more vicious and serious. He also has taken on the role of a disgruntled American.
The Swagger and Colter combination could be quite controversial if it continues to bring up hot-button issues like immigration, but controversy sells in professional wrestling. Swagger hasn't really had any gimmick to speak of, so this is obviously a major step up for him. If I'm reading this situation correctly, then Swagger is in line for a feud with Alberto Del Rio in the near future. Provided that comes to fruition, Swagger could get a major push and perhaps get back into world title contention despite the fact that it seemed like he was destined for the trash heap not too long ago.
Prior to his return to the WWE as an announcer, JBL was making headlines for his charity work as he was climbing mountains in order to raise money for children in Bermuda. JBL's goal is to climb the seven highest mountains in the world, and he will make his third attempt in the coming weeks, according to WrestlingNewsWorld.com.
The next mountain on JBL's list is Mt. Aconcogua in Argentina. JBL is set to depart on Feb. 23, so he will work Elimination Chamber and then take some time off from the WWE. It isn't yet known how long JBL will be away, as it depends largely on how long it takes him to climb the mountain. His endeavor is for a great cause and should allow the WWE to get some positive publicity as well.
While I don't bow down to JBL's announcing abilities like a many fans, there is no question that JBL is among the best the WWE has to offer in that department, so it's unfortunate that he'll be off television for a while. I assume that the WWE will simply put Michael Cole back on SmackDown next to Josh Matthews until JBL returns, but I would love to see someone like Jim Ross fill in. JR is always willing to do whatever the WWE asks of him, and there's no reason not to utilize him while he's still employed.
Announcing aside, this is a great thing for JBL and the WWE. Although JBL can come across as a bit of a bully on television, that's just a character that he's playing. Putting his life on the line by climbing mountains for the betterment of children proves that he's truly a good person, though. The WWE will continue to finance his climbs, which is awesome for all involved as well. I assume that JBL will be back in time for WrestleMania, and I'll certainly be rooting for him to conquer yet another one of the world's tallest mountains.
JBL Preparing for Third Mountain Climb (via WrestleZone.com)