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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.
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(Some Language NSFW.)
Vince McMahon Continues Quest Against Daniel Bryan
With SummerSlam still a few weeks away, the Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena feud was developed even further on Raw. There happens to be a side rivalry going on at the same time, however, as Vince McMahon is doing everything in his power to make life miserable for Bryan. The two of them engaged in a highly entertaining promo on Raw, and it doesn't seem as though there is any end in sight for McMahon's quest to either make Bryan a viable title contender or eradicate him from the title scene altogether.
Question on Everybody's Mind: How Will Vince versus Bryan Play Out?
It remains unclear how the WWE Championship picture will progress at SummerSlam, as Cena, Bryan or Randy Orton could potentially leave the pay-per-view with the title in tow.
As interesting as that is, Bryan's conflict with McMahon may be even more intriguing. It is no secret that many of the greatest names in wrestling history have been placed in storylines against McMahon. Cena, CM Punk, Mick Foley, The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin are just a few of the Superstars who have been helped immensely by their involvement with Vince.
Assuming the creative team has a good handle on things, Bryan figures to join that elite group in the near future. McMahon has been saying that he doesn't view Bryan as a guy who is capable of leading the company. Of course, that is strictly in a storyline sense, as Bryan is the hottest thing going in professional wrestling. The book on McMahon has always been that he favors bigger wrestlers, and even though that hasn't actually been the case in recent years, the WWE is doing a great job of furthering that line of thinking through the angle.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Monday's edition of Raw really seemed to complicate things, as McMahon said that he wanted somebody to beat Cena. That statement was somewhat glossed over, but it was a huge deal since Cena is seemingly everything McMahon could ever want in a champion. McMahon also said he didn't believe Bryan could beat Cena, and he told Bryan that is precisely why Cena chose him as his opponent.
At one point, Stephanie McMahon came up with an idea to give Bryan a corporate makeover. That is a potentially-fun storyline that is worth watching in the coming weeks.
One theory that the Ring Rust Radio panel came up with involves Bryan going through with the corporate makeover and earning McMahon's approval only to go ultimately go back to his roots. This would then lead to Bryan beating Cena for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. After pretending to congratulate Bryan on the victory, McMahon would then call out Orton, who would successfully cash in his Money in the Bank contract on Bryan. This would lead to Orton becoming the preferred corporate champion.
Rumor Mill: Daniel Bryan's Plans Reportedly Changed (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
Total Divas Debuts on E!
Much to the delight of female WWE fans everywhere, new WWE reality show Total Divas debuted Sunday on E!. The show featured the Bella Twins, the Funkadactyls, Natalya and new Divas Eva Marie and Jo-Jo. The first episode focused on the build toward WrestleMania and precisely what events led to the cutting of the Bella Twins and Rhodes Scholars vs. Funkadactyls and Tons of Funk match on the grandest stage of them all.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Total Divas an Entertaining Show?
A large contingent of hardcore wrestling fans made plenty of noise about hating Total Divas before it even debuted, which isn't surprising since there tends to be a lot of closed-mindedness among the Internet Wrestling Community especially. It's unclear how many of those pessimistic fans changed their minds after the first episode, but there were plenty of elements on the show that likely appealed to all types of wrestling fans.
The behind-the-scenes aspect is something that simply isn't seen out of WWE on a weekly basis. It was especially interesting to see top stars like Bryan and Cena outside the wrestling element. Bryan and Brie Bella appeared to have an extremely fruitful and down-to-earth relationship, while Cena and Nikki Bella were trying to toe the line between discussing marriage and having a good time. Based on the previews for upcoming shows, viewers will see plenty more of that in upcoming episodes, as well as interactions between the other Divas and the men in their lives.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Although the Ring Rust Radio panelists are all diehard wrestling fans, they entered the first showing of Total Divas with an open mind. There is no question that a lot of the drama was manufactured for the show, but it was entertaining in many ways. It's doubtful that the Bella Twins are mean to the Funkadactyls and younger Divas for no reason in real life, but it works from the perspective of the show because the Bellas are being portrayed as the antagonists.
The consensus is that the best moment from the premier took place when the Funkadactyls were rehearsing for their WrestleMania match. Cameron reported that Brodus Clay told her she "sucked," which sent her boyfriend, Vincent, into a tizzy. Vincent threatened to find Brodus and beat him up, but cooler heads ultimately prevailed.
Add in a look at the inner workings of WrestleMania, and the debut of Total Divas is a show that every wrestling fan should check out if they haven't already. Much like professional wrestling itself, Total Divas is a show with both real and fake elements, but there is a definite entertainment factor as well.
Rumor Mill: Brodus Clay, Cameron and Vincent Segment Reportedly a Shoot (F4WOnline via WrestlingInc.com)
Sabin vs. Bully Ray Rematch Scheduled for Hardcore Justice
One week after Chris Sabin shockingly defeated Bully Ray to become the new TNA World Heavyweight champion, TNA attempted to use the title change to its advantage. Bully Ray opened the show by threatening to sue TNA if it didn't hand the World title back over to him. Rather than giving in to Bully's demands, though, Hulk Hogan scheduled a rematch between them in a steel cage match on the Hardcore Justice edition of Impact in a few weeks.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Did TNA Capitalize on Sabin's Title Win?
The decision to put the title on Sabin was a poor one to begin with as he simply isn't World title material due to his lack of charisma and drawing power, but TNA at least had a chance to make the product fresh.
What happened instead was an absolute joke. The fact that Bully Ray threatened TNA with legal action was laughable as Bully Ray is the leader of a biker gang. Also, his gang assaulted wrestlers with weapons on numerous occasions and engaged in a great deal of illegal activity, so it would have been very easy for TNA to counter with a civil suit.
That aside, the manner in which Bully's lawsuit was handled was even worse. Dixie Carter and Hogan discussed the situation backstage and made it seem as though they were going to strip Sabin of the title, but Hogan went in a different direction. He tore up the lawsuit and said that it wasn't going to fly because he is "the law" in Impact Wrestling. I'm no legal expert, but I'm quite sure that litigation doesn't work that way. It was clumsy as can be, and it made the company look like an absolute joke.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Incredibly, there was far more wrong with the segment than the aforementioned issues. For one, TNA is having another pay-per-view-esque show in the form of Hardcore Justice, but it won't be anything more than an episode of Impact. Cutting down to four pay-per-views per year wasn't a bad idea, but there is no point in making some of those events into Impact episodes. Had TNA kept the Hardcore Justin and Destination X as pay-per-views, at least the company would have made a bit of money in the form of pay-per-view buys.
Hogan also made the title bout a steel cage match. He said that the cage is important since neither Aces and Eights nor Main Event Mafia will be able to get involved. Apparently, Hogan forgot that Bully initially won the title over Jeff Hardy in a steel cage match. In that contest, Aces and Eights climbed in, handed Bully Ray the ball-peen hammer and assaulted Hardy. That cage certainly isn't going to keep anyone out in a couple weeks.
There was already very little to like about Sabin's title reign heading into the show, and it got significantly worse in just one week.
RRR Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Michael Cahill: 355
2. Mike Chiari: 147.5
3. Brandon Galvin: -17.5
4. Donald Wood: -25
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