The crowning of a new WWE Champion, numerous big-name returns and the official commencement of the Road to WrestleMania made for a particularly exciting start to 2013.
As a result, ratings peaked—even breaching the elusive five million mark the night after the Royal Rumble—as the company posted their highest figures since last summer’s landmark Raw 1,000 show.
But could they keep up the good work heading into February?
The second month of the year is always a crucial one in the WWE, but further intriguing developments—both off and on-screen—ensured that there was no shortage of drama as we edge ever closer to this year’s Showcase of the Immortals.
This article rounds up five of the most prominent talking points to come from the month of February, analysing the impact they could have in the future.
You’d be hard pushed to find someone who had a more eventful month than Jack Swagger.
First, he returned on the Feb. 1 edition of SmackDown—debuting his controversial “Real American” gimmick which garnered mainstream attention due to its racist and xenophobic undertones.
WWE then capitalized on this publicity by having Swagger become the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, before he then proceeded to make further headlines after being “charged with DUI (not alcohol), marijuana possession, and speeding.”
It has since become apparent that the WWE are not punishing Swagger for his misdemeanours, as his title match with Del Rio remain on the cards for ‘Mania.
This is a big call from the company, especially given their PG stance of late and when one considers the punishments that the likes of Evan Bourne, Rey Mysterio and Randy Orton received for similar violations.
But that being said, keeping Swagger in his main event spot is generating a huge amount of interest in the World Title scene—the likes of which we haven’t seen for some time now.
Based on that evidence, are the WWE correct to persist with Swagger’s push? Or should they have come down harder on the No. 1 contender and changed their WrestleMania plans?
Having returned to WWE programming at the end of January to save his mentor Paul Heyman and “hospitalize” Vince McMahon, Brock Lesnar continued to make a splash in February by decimating the Miz on Miz TV.
The next time we saw Brock, he was brawling with the Game in a shockingly brutal segment just over a week ago on Monday Night Raw.
It was a reminder of the physicality that the former UFC Heavyweight Champion brings to the table, and though we look set for another showing of Triple H vs. Lesnar, this time the intensity seems to have stepped it up a notch.
Their vicious encounter on Raw, as well as the logical backstory behind their feud, gives me hope that their probably WrestleMania meeting will live up to the height and potentially surpass their SummerSlam encounter.
The result may appear predictable, but the rivalry certainly adds to the star power of this year’s ‘Mania and will no doubt provide some exciting television in the meantime.
After years of absence, Bruno Sammartino was finally announced as a member of the Hall of Fame Class of 2013 at the start of the month.
The longest reigning WWE Champion of all time is arguably more deserving of his place in the HoF than any other; however there was another high-profile inductee announced just a few weeks later—American business magnate Donald Trump.
While I understand the WWE’s desire to have Trump inducted, I can’t help but feel that his inclusion takes away all the credibility that the HoF gained by adding Sammartino to their lineup.
Sure, Trump played a big part in one of the most successful WrestleMania’s of all time, but at that same show he also showed his complete lack of respect or appreciation for the industry by essentially no-selling the Boogeyman in a backstage segment.
Regardless of how he has aided the company, Trump committed one of the ultimate sins of professional wrestling, and yet he still is given a place in the HoF.
It calls into question the integrity of the whole institution—is it a true Hall of Fame or merely a publicity stunt, an act of public relations from which the WWE can benefit?
Unfortunately the latter would appear to be the more truthful explanation. The Hall of Fame should be reserved exclusively for the best of all time, the Sammartino’s of this industry, otherwise it loses all relevance.
Would you not agree?
After almost eight years of the Spinner Belt, the WWE finally decided to freshen things up with a brand new belt, debuted by the Rock on the Feb. 18 edition of Monday Night Raw.
For me, this was a great move by the WWE.
The Spinner belt had outstayed its welcome, and as the Great One said himself, the WWE Title should never look like a toy.
The new belt on the other hand, is far more appropriate. It’s simple yet elegant design somehow manages to characterize and capture the prestige that the Championship represents, while the personalized side plates are a novel idea that adds a nice touch to the belt.
Furthermore, it is a belt that can be related to anyone, unlike the Spinner belt which was essentially John Cena’s manifestation.
It may not be as popular as the Eagle belt of the Attitude era, but over time the belt has the potential to create a legacy that will see it remembered as one of the most iconic straps in the industry’s history.
It may only have been one match, but this one really stole the show.
These two age-old adversaries put on an outstanding display, demonstrating a whole new range of offense as well as some highly unexpected spots to produce one of the greatest matches in recent history.
For that reason alone, this match is deserving of a place on the list.
Ultimately, it was Cena of course who got the win and will go to WrestleMania to face the Rock for the Championship, but the chemistry that both men share suggests that this feud could once again be reignited in the summer months after ‘Mania once the part-timers have concluded their respective stints.
Though we’ve seen the match before, Cena and Punk continue to innovate and surprise us—Punk’s piledriver and Cena’s Hurricanrana being prime examples of this.
If the rivalry does return a few months down the line, expect more moments like these and some wrestling matches of the highest quality.
And for those not so keen on a re-run of Cena vs. Punk, which other feuds for the WWE Championship would you rather see?
And so we bring down the curtain on a highly entertaining month in the WWE.
The stage now appears set for WrestleMania, and thus it could be concluded that February did its job of getting the Road to WrestleMania off to the best possible start.
With ratings remaining high, this could be the beginning of a very successful year for the WWE, providing they can keep up the good work they’ve already done.
Stay posted for next month’s installment as we look back at March—a month that is bound to provide us with plenty to discuss as the final touches are made for the ’Mania card.
Until then, please feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the article and the issues raised, as well as any other notable factors from the month of February in the WWE.