Ring Rust Radio is the best wrestling show on the airwaves, and this week was no different. With strong opinions on Paul Bearer, Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, The Undertaker and more, this is where you need to get all of your weekly WWE nuggets.
Bleacher Report featured columnists Michael Cahill, Brandon Galvin, Mike Chiari and Donald Wood give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
With another unpredictable episode of Ring Rust Radio in the books, you can't afford to miss another second of the action. Catch us LIVE every Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET (some language NSFW) or follow us on Twitter @RingRustRadio.
March 19 - Former WWE star Matt Hardy
March 19 - Mark Madness. For the full bracket, click here.
March 26 - Former WWE and UFC star Ken Shamrock
March 26 - Former ECW and WWE star Stevie Richards
April 2 - Former ECW, WCW and WWE star Raven
April 16 - nWo Era (1996-1997) Fantasy Draft
WWE Honors Paul Bearer
After Paul Bearer's untimely death at the age of 58, it was clear that the WWE had to do something to honor him. He was a huge part of the product for many years and was arguably the greatest manager in professional wrestling history.
He was key when it came to getting guys like The Undertaker and Kane over, and there is no question that he loved the business. With all of that in mind, the WWE dedicated Monday's episode of Raw to Bearer and paid tribute to a true wrestling legend.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Did the WWE Handle This Respectfully?
Raw kicked off with an excellent video package highlighting Bearer's career accomplishments. It also featured Vince McMahon and various Superstars discussing what Bearer meant to the WWE.
Immediately after that, The Undertaker brought the urn to the ring and knelt before it. CM Punk interrupted the ceremony and claimed that he would end The Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania. Kane then went after Punk, which set the stage for a match between them later in the night.
Video clips played following most commercial breaks throughout the rest of the evening and they brought back great memories from Bearer's career.
Kane defeated Punk in the main event, as the toll of Taker's bell distracted Punk. After losing, Punk grabbed the urn and assaulted Kane with it. The Phenom attempted to make the save, but Punk escaped and took the urn with him, so it seems as though it will play a part in their feud moving forward.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
While there are definitely some fans out there who felt as though Punk's involvement in the Bearer situation was disrespectful, the Ring Rust Radio panel was unanimous in feeling the WWE handled it to perfection.
Not only were the videos great, as well as Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler waxing poetic about Bearer as a man, but the manner in which Bearer's unfortunate death was incorporated into The Undertaker's storyline was masterful.
It can be argued that he shouldn't have been made a part of the angle at all, but having had the chance to interview Bearer a couple months ago, we fully understand how much the business meant to him.
With that in mind, I have to believe that he would be proud of the way the WWE handled things. Also, Bearer's sons were in attendance and Taker is one of the most powerful men in the company, so if they felt that the WWE was doing something improper, then it wouldn't have happened.
The WWE knocked this one out of the park, as Bearer was shown the utmost respect and the Punk vs. Taker feud was given a ton of heat.
Rumor Mill: Update on Paul Bearer Hall of Fame Situation (PWMania.com)
Brock Lesnar Accepts Triple H's Challenge
When Triple H returned to WWE programming a couple weeks ago in order to prevent Brock Lesnar from attacking Vince McMahon, it became blatantly obvious that they would have a match at WrestleMania XXIX.
Triple H officially laid down the challenge last week and Lesnar accepted on Raw under one condition. Paul Heyman countered by saying that Lesnar would face Triple H at WrestleMania provided Triple H signs the contract without first knowing what the stipulations are.
Question on Everybody's Mind: What Stipulations Will Be Added?
Most fans figured that the 'Mania match between Lesnar and Triple H would be given a stipulation of some sort in order to set it apart from their encounter at SummerSlam. That will be the case, but it is still unclear what it will be. Whatever it is, the WWE has to make sure that it adds to the appeal of the bout.
Their match at SummerSlam was good because it had a No Holds Barred stipulation that made it resemble a fight more than a wrestling match. This feud is built on a personal rivalry, so their WrestleMania match should be a brawl as well.
This entire thing is obviously set up to stack the odds against Triple H. Heyman played the "coward" card when he said that Triple H would be letting everyone down, including himself, if he didn't give in to Lesnar's demands.
Even though this feud is simply a carryover from something that we saw last summer, the creative team has managed to keep it interesting and I am certainly intrigued to see in which direction it is taken.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
The Ring Rust Radio panel actually agreed on quite a few things this week, but the stipulation for the Lesnar vs. Triple H match wasn't one of them.
Among the ideas that we bandied about were a Hell in a Cell, an I Quit match, a street fight and a Lion's Den match. All of those stipulations are feasible, but only one can come to fruition.
I would be fine with any of the first three possibilities, but I certainly don't want to see an MMA-style match. I'm aware the there are many crossover fans when it comes to WWE and UFC, but I'm not one of them and would rather not see them mixed together.
Aside from the match type itself, though, Heyman could easily sneak another stipulation in. During his promo on Monday, he said "stipulations," which leads me to believe there will be more than one. The obvious one would be a clause that states Triple H must retire from in-ring competition if he loses.
This would add something to the match as Triple H is certainly getting close to retirement, so he could potentially see this as an opportunity to lose and go out on the big stage. Whatever the case, we're excited to see how this plays out.
Rumor Mill: WWE Nixes Potential MMA-Style Match (via PWMania.com)
Bully Ray Win TNA World Title; Joins Aces & Eights
After nine long months, it was finally revealed to the world that Bully Ray is the president of Aces & Eights. Bully Ray challenged Jeff Hardy for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at Lockdown in what was a back-and-forth affair. Aces & Eights infiltrated the cage late in the contest as Devon handed Bully a ballpeen hammer.
Bully struck Hardy with it from behind and pinned him to become the new champion. He celebrated with his mates as fans pelted them with garbage to close the show.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is This Enough to Save the Angle?
Most fans knew that Bully Ray would be revealed as a member of Aces & Eights heading into Lockdown and most of us can also agree that it was the right decision. With that said, the Aces & Eights storyline has dragged on for so long that it could be a case of "too little, too late."
The facts are that Bully Ray is much better as a heel, he is a deserving world champion and his mere presence instantly makes Aces & Eights seem more important and interesting.
By the same token, this is the first interesting thing to happen involving Aces & Eights during its entire existence, essentially, so does one correct move erase countless incorrect decisions?
A lot of that depends upon where TNA goes from here with the angle. If things turn around immediately and stay that way for the foreseeable future, then perhaps Bully Ray's inclusion was enough.
If TNA doesn't capitalize, though, it will have all been for naught.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Ever the TNA apologist, Donald Wood went on and on about how great it was to see Bully in a position of leadership with Aces & Eights. He even went so far as to say that it was enough to erase all the bad things that have been done over the course of the angle.
The rest of us couldn't disagree more. The fact that the rest of the group is totally irrelevant is still a huge problem. Devon has been a terrible mouthpiece, Anderson has contributed little, Knox is virtually nonexistent, Garett Bischoff and Wes Brisco are jobbers, DOC is a joke and neither D'Lo Brown nor Taz can wrestle.
In addition to that, if Bully Ray was in on this from the start, why didn't he win the world title a long time ago? Why didn't Aces & Eights help him beat Hardy in the Bound For Glory Series? Why didn't the group help him beat Hardy in a rematch the next night? Why did Bully Ray go through a ridiculously long ordeal when he could have been champion a long time ago?
Also, Bully Ray fought Aces & Eights on a number of occasions and I'm not sure how TNA can possibly explain that. There are too many inconsistencies and there has been too much wasted time to consider this a success.
RRR Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Michael Cahill: 175
2. Mike Chiari: 160
3. Brandon Galvin: 110
4. Donald Wood: -40