WWE News: Reviews, Analysis and Rumors for Week of Feb. 17
Photo courtesy of TMZ.com
With Elimination Chamber taking place this past Sunday and the road to WrestleMania getting underway, there is no question that this week has been an important one for the WWE. More eyes are on the company now than they will be at any other point in 2013, so it is vital that everything goes smoothly moving forward.
It would be fair to say that the WWE didn't get off to a good start in that regard due to the actions of Jack Swagger. Just two nights after he won the Elimination Chamber match to become No. 1 contender for Alberto Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship, Swagger was arrested on DUI and marijuana possession charges. His immediate and long-term future is now very much in question.
If not for the Swagger situation, this week would have been a much more positive one for the WWE. Not only did it announce where and when WrestleMania XXX would be held, but The Rock made many fans happy when he retired the spinner belt and introduced a new WWE Championship. It was a busy week, to say the least, and we figure to see more of the same as WrestleMania draws closer.
Keep reading for more in-depth analysis on all of the latest news and rumors surrounding the WWE for the week beginning on Feb. 17.
Jack Swagger Arrested for DUI and Marijuana Possession
Many WWE fans were taken by surprise at Elimination Chamber when Jack Swagger outlasted five top superstars to earn a shot at Alberto Del Rio's World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. Swagger had been off television for five months prior and was a non-factor even before that. As shocking as his win may have been, what he did on Tuesday night turned even more heads.
According to TMZ.com, Swagger was pulled over in Biloxi, Miss. following the SmackDown television taping. He was reportedly driving erratically and was arrested for and charged with DUI and marijuana possession. Swagger was soon released from custody, but he has put himself and the WWE in an extremely difficult position with WrestleMania now six weeks away.
I have been a huge fan of Swagger since his early ECW days, so I was ecstatic when he returned with a new gimmick and a renewed purpose a few weeks ago. Teaming him with Zeb Colter was also a great move, as it provided him with the mouthpiece he always needed. Swagger was clearly on the ascent, and his win at Elimination Chamber confirmed that. It seemed like almost nothing could halt the progress that Swagger was making, but he made a critical error in judgment when he decided to get behind the wheel while under the influence of something, whether it was drugs, alcohol or whatever else.
Also, carrying around marijuana while in the midst of a massive push is inexcusable. Whether or not you want to argue that pot should be legalized nationally, the fact remains that it is illegal currently. Swagger knew that, and now he has to pay the price. I was really enjoying Swagger's "real American" gimmick, and I believe he could have gone a long way with it.
As a fan of Swagger, I'm hopeful that the WWE will turn the other cheek and carry on with his push. At the same time, I fully realize how idiotic and irresponsible Swagger's actions were, so I won't blame the company one bit if Swagger loses his push, gets suspended or even gets fired. Swagger dug his own grave, and he, unfortunately, may have to lay in it.
The Rock Introduces New WWE Championship
For eight long years, the WWE Championship revealed a children's toy much more than it did the top prize in all of professional wrestling. When John Cena initially introduced the spinner belt, it was new, different and fit his character. The novelty wore off quickly, but fans were forced to endure its presence for years to come. The WWE finally decided to move on to a new era, however, as The Rock introduced a new WWE Championship on Monday.
After retaining the title against CM Punk at Elimination Chamber, a celebration was scheduled on Raw. Prior to the celebration, a platform with a sheet covering something could be seen in the ring. Speculation immediately started regarding a potential new title, and it was validated a few minutes later when The Rock denounced the spinner belt and revealed a totally new WWE Championship that figures to be a fixture on WWE programming for years to come.
The immediate reactions to the new belt were definitely mixed, but it seems as though a good percentage of fans have warmed up to it. I suppose that I'm part of the minority that remains unimpressed. I have been called negative for my thoughts on the title, but I'm far from a negative person. I try to find something positive in almost everything the WWE does and my articles reflect that. I feel very strongly about the WWE Championship, though, because it is the symbol that represents the entire company, and I believe it should be held to a higher standard than almost everything else.
There is no question that the spinner belt failed in the regard for eight years, so I'm happy to see that title on the scrap heap. With that said, I'm not convinced that the new belt is a major improvement. The one aspect that I'm intrigued by is the side plate design as it could lead to further customization.
Other than that, I'm not a big fan. There is little to no shine, so the belt doesn't pop when you look at it. Also, I don't like that fact that the leather behind the main plate shows. My biggest problem is the main plate itself as the WWE logo simply isn't a good design to be featured on a title.
It almost seems to me like the WWE is more worried about the title acting as an advertisement than anything. When The Rock goes on talk shows and makes media appearances prior to WrestleMania, he'll have the title in tow and people will immediately identify it with the WWE. I suppose it's good from a marketing perspective, but I prefer class over flash when it comes to championships, and the WWE didn't deliver in that regard.
The Rock Advertised to Appear at Extreme Rules
It's safe to say that the general consensus among WWE fans was that The Rock would drop the WWE Championship to John Cena at WrestleMania, take a hiatus immediately following that and then return either in late 2013 or early 2014. Things suddenly aren't so black and white, though, as there is now a chance that The Rock could be hanging around for an undetermined amount of time after WrestleMania XXIX.
According to the WWE's Facebook page, The Rock is scheduled to appear at Extreme Rules in St. Louis on May 19. Extreme Rules is, of course, the pay-per-view following WrestleMania, so perhaps The Rock will wrestle an additional, unexpected match. As every wrestling fan knows, cards are subject to change. The Rock is listed as WWE Champion in the advertisement, and there is obviously a high probability that he'll lose it at WrestleMania.
While his title status may change, the WWE is very serious when it comes to the talent it advertises. If The Rock is being advertised now, then the odds are that he will be involved with Extreme Rules in some capacity.
I consider myself to be a big fan of The Rock, and I am firmly in the camp that has no issue with his reign as WWE Champion. The Rock will always have his detractors regardless of what he does, but if he wrestles at Extreme Rules, then some fans will have to take a long look in the mirror. The initial thought was that The Rock would wrestle at Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, and that would be it. He already exceeded expectations by competing at Elimination Chamber and doing so at Extreme Rules would be the icing on the cake. That would make him the main attraction at one-third of the WWE's pay-per-views, so fans will have a hard time criticizing him with a straight face.
The Rock won't be classified as anything other than a part-time performer regardless of his Extreme Rules status, but the fact that he is potentially willing to wrestle at second-level events shows that he is committed to the company. He has outside projects, and he always will, but he has set aside a lot of time for the WWE. As much as I don't want to see The Rock lose, my expectation is that Cena will beat him at WrestleMania, and Extreme Rules will be the platform of their rubber match to determine who is truly the better wrestler. Cena could win that match, as well, which would allow The Rock to step away and return down the line.
Last year's Extreme Rules was a huge deal, thanks to the return of Brock Lesnar, and The Rock can make it a big event for the second consecutive year if he ultimately competes as is now expected.
WrestleMania 30 to Take Place in New Orleans
There has been a ton of speculation regarding the potential WrestleMania XXX location over the past several months, but the WWE finally ended all of that on Monday as it was announced that the biggest spectacle in wrestling would be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans next year. New Orleans was near the top of the list, particularly when it became clear that neither Madison Square Garden nor Cowboys Stadium were in the running.
With Elimination Chamber being held in New Orleans, it didn't come as a big surprise to most when the big announcement was made the next day. There seem to be some mixed emotions as every fan has a different preference, but it's hard to argue with the WWE's choice. New Orleans has a ton of experience when it comes to hosting huge events, and there is little doubt that the city will form a great partnership with the WWE moving forward.
Like most fans who have followed the WWE for a significant amount of time, I was hoping that Madison Square Garden would make a last-minute push, but I knew all along that it wasn't likely. The fact that WrestleMania is in New Jersey this year essentially disqualified it, as did the fact that the WWE has transitioned exclusively to stadiums rather than smaller arenas. With that said, I have absolutely no issue with New Orleans as a host city. It is one of the most unique and universally-liked cities in the United States, and there is no doubt in my mind that it will provide WWE with a fantastic atmosphere.
New Orleans is a city that is known for throwing a great party, and Vince McMahon said during the press conference that WrestleMania is a celebration. New Orleans will ensure that the WrestleMania celebration is done right. WrestleMania XXX represents a huge milestone for the WWE, and it could very well be the biggest event in wrestling history in terms of size and scope. There is already talk about matches such as John Cena vs. The Undertaker, The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar and perhaps even CM Punk vs. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. If any or all of those bouts come to fruition, then New Orleans will have something special on its hands.
Vince McMahon vs. Paul Heyman Scheduled for Next Week
Paul Heyman has been in limbo ever since Vince McMahon was poised to fire him several weeks ago for his role in The Shield's interference in CM Punk's matches. Just as McMahon was about to utter his signature catchphrase, Brock Lesnar interrupted and delivered a thunderous F-5 to McMahon. Vince has been out of action ever since due to hip surgery, but he has remained a part of the programming. McMahon added a favorable stipulation to the Punk vs. Rock match at Elimination Chamber in exchange for Heyman doing "anything."
McMahon made his demand on Monday as he ordered Heyman to fight him on the next episode of Raw. It was an interesting request as Vince is still on crutches and doesn't seem to be physically able to engage in a fight, but it seems obvious that there are bigger things at work. Since McMahon and Heyman are still two of the best characters in all of professional wrestling, I personally can't wait to see how their encounter plays out.
The writing was on the wall ever since Brock Lesnar defeated Triple H at SummerSlam, and now it seems like the wheels are finally in motion for a rematch. McMahon can't fight Heyman, so my expectation that Triple H will get involved, as will Lesnar. Since Heyman seemed to be afraid when McMahon made his announcement on Monday, he'll probably bring Lesnar as backup, which will then prompt Triple H to make an appearance in order to save his father-in-law from yet another brutal attack at the hands of Lesnar.
When Lesnar beat Triple H initially, it was made to look like Triple H was retiring, but he never actually said the words. Lesnar's actions will force Triple H to return and seek vengeance at WrestleMania. I can understand why some fans aren't overly excited about the prospects of another match between them, but there is no doubt that it has mass appeal. Also, I can see the match having a Hell in a Cell stipulation, which would obviously spice things up. The Lesnar vs. Triple H feud was left open ended for a reason, and it is likely to resume on Monday.
McMahon vs. Heyman Fight Planned for Raw (via ProWrestlingScoops.com)