2013 Biggest Surprise of the Year

One of the main reasons wrestling fans tune in each week is because they love to be surprised.  And because of its scripted nature, professional wrestling can offer those big, shocking moments in a much more strategic way that most other sports programs.   Cliffhangers you can’t miss? Good guy/bad guy turns? Dramatic run-ins and historic battles?  They’re all a piece of the squared-circle fabric.  While the internet made genuine surprises much harder to pull off in 2013, than, say, decades prior, a handful of moments still kept us on the edge of our seats. [Read more...]

2013 Feud of the Year

Every professional wrestler is only as good as the opponent they face.  There’d be no Shawn Michaels without Bret Hart, no Stone Cold Steve Austin without Vince McMahon, no Mankind without The Rock, and no John Cena without JBL.  And while modern ‘sports entertainment’ seems content to fill much of its programming time with backstage skits and dancing segments, the idea that two men sometimes  just need to beat the crap out of each other lives on. [Read more...]

WWE Superstar Sheamus Speaks Out Against Bullies, Timetable For Return to Ring

WWE superstar Sheamus talks about speaking out against bullies at a Be A Star rally, how his injured shoulder is, how exactly he injured it, what else he has been doing while sidelined, timetable for his return and more.

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WWE Raw Rundown LIVE – 8/12/2013

The show kicked off live from Sacramento, CA, with Daniel Bryan’s entrance to the ring.  Final hype for SummerSlam should be the story of the night… [Read more...]

WWE Raw Rundown – 8/5/2013

Show opened with the long intro, and traditional fireworks. Finally!

Opening Segment w/Stephanie McMahon: Stephanie was in the ring, and she reminded everybody of her ambitious idea to transform Daniel Bryan to somebody Vince McMahon might like. The camera cut to a spa scene and showed D-Bry getting papmered. Next, there was a montage of Bryan working out and getting pumped. He then went to a Texas Roadhouse and ATE MEAT (because apparently corporate champions are required to break their vegan vows). Finally, the last clip showed him at a tailor getting fitted for a designer suit. [Read more...]

Cody Rhodes vs. Damien Sandow is Simply About Good Friendship

Sandow Money in the BankIf you had a chance to catch last night’s solid WWE Smackdown, you saw Damien Sandow and Cody Rhodes highlighted in a way they haven’t been before in their respective WWE tenures. Both men, especially Sandow, have the “gift of gab”. Both men know what they’re doing in the ring. But up until recently, creative seemed absolutely clueless on how to properly utilize Sandow and Rhodes, and their endless strengths. [Read more...]

WWE Smackdown Rundown – 7/27/2013

wwe smackdown logoFun night for WWE Smackdown.  While not every match was an instant classic, and some segments were weaker than others, the overall show delivered on what it set out to do. Let’s take a look: [Read more...]

WWE Smackdown Rundown – July 19th, 2013

smackdown outlineEntertaining edition of WWE Smackdown. The matches didn’t fully deliver, but the show had enough going for it to keep viewers intrigued. Let’s look closer: [Read more...]

WWE Raw Rundown – July 15th, 2013

rawIncredible edition of Monday Night Raw that delivered with surprises, entertainment, and excitement. The three-hour show was booked to the fullest. Let’s take a closer look: [Read more...]

WWE Money in the Bank 2013 Results

WWE_Money_In_The_Bank_2013_poster

Money in the Bank is in the Bank for WWE this year and now comes the time to see how my predictions, taken from the staff predictions stacked up against the actual event results
All-Star Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a WWE Championship contract
Randy Orton def. CM Punk, Christian, Daniel Bryan, Rob Van Dam, and Sheamus to win the contract. I totally did not see this coming but the interference by Curtis Axel and Paul Heyman made for an interesting result. Ultimately, though, I award myself no points.
WWE Championship Match
John Cena [c] def. Mark Henry, and I called it. No way Cena was going to lose this title now. 1 point.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio [c] def. Dolph Ziggler by DQ after AJ hit Del Rio with the Divas Title belt. I called this one, but not necessarily the angle. Either way, 1 point.
Ryback def. Chris Jericho, I honestly saw Jericho getting the win on this one, but score 1 for Ryback and none for me.
WWE Divas Championship Match
AJ Lee [c] def. Kaitlyn, saw this one coming a mile away. 1 point.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Match
Curtis Axel [c] def. The Miz, the newest Paul Heyman guy struck again (and then again later in the night). 1 point.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match for a World Heavyweight Championship contract
Damien Sandow def. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Jack Swagger, and Antonio Cesaro after an unexpected but exciting betrayal of former partner Cody Rhodes. I did not even see this one coming. 0 points.
WWE Tag Team Championship Pre-Show Match
The Shield (Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins) def. The Usos, in what was an exciting high-octane match to get the night started. My prediction came to fruition and the Shield left Philly gold firmly around their waists. 1 point.
This puts my score for the night at 57%. My total for the last three events at 58%. How will things look when wrestling is next on pay per view with next month’s SummerSlam, stick around to Between the Ropes for all the latest

Between The Ropes | Arda Ocal – July 15, 2013

Brian talk with Arda Ocal about the grand opening of the WWE Performance Center which he was  at last week, the Money in the Bank PPV and looking ahead to SummerSlam, Triple H’s role with WWE, Orlando becoming such an important city for WWE, the Hall of Fame, WrestleMania host cities going forward and more.

Follow Arda on Twitter @arda_ocal

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Video: WWE Money in the Bank Kickoff Show Online

WWE has posted the kickoff show from last night’s Monday in the Bank pay-per-view online including the tag-team title match between The Shield and The Usos.

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 15, 2013

Brian and Steve talk about Sunday’s Money in the Bank PPV including Damien Sandow and Randy Orton each winning the ladder matches, the physicality of the All-Stars ladder match, a really good John Cena vs. Mark Henry match, possibilities now for SummerSlam, the Ultimate Warrior working with the WWE for the new 2K14 video game, last week’s grand opening of the WWE Performance Center and more.

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WWE Money in the Bank 2013 – Reaction and Review

Last night’s highly anticipated “Money in the Bank” Pay-Per-View brought us a loaded card with numerous surprises, and the much-hyped return of Rob Van Dam. But did it deliver? Read on to find out. [Read more...]

WWE Money in the Bank 2013 – Staff Predictions

WWE_Money_In_The_Bank_2013_posterLater today is the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Here is the predictions from the Between The Ropes staff for each match on the show.

WWE Tag Team Championship:  The Shield vs. The Usos (kickoff match)

Brian Fritz:  WWE has ben putting in a little more for the Usos as of late to try and make them look like a legitimate threat to The Shield.  But they really aren’t.  I hope more is done with the WWE tag-team division but it has to be built around The Shield at the top and they need a long reign so it won’t end here.

Steve Muelhausen:  Hard to believe this match is the kickoff match starting at 7:30p ET at every possible platform online. The match should be good based on the four talents but I see Rollins and Reigns retaining.

Michael A. Wiseman:  Considering The Usos have only been relevant for a day or two, I’m going to have to go with The Shield here.  The Usos have been highlighted effectively in the last few weeks. Before they won their title shot, though, they had little-to-no air time on the major WWE shows. I’m glad creative is trying something new here, but I don’t think they’re putting any long-term focus on The Usos – at least not enough to give them the gold.

Marshall Bowen:  Show of hands, who thinks that WWE spent all that time building up The Shield for Rollins and Reigns to lose to the Usos, who haven’t had a solid direction in the entirety of their short WWE careers? No, nobody? It’s pretty obvious that they needed to throw together something of a worthy pre-show to what is steadily becoming a major event for WWE and a tag title match fills that void nicely. Look for The Shield to retain.

Chris Jericho vs. Ryback

Brian:  While Ryback is in a much bigger need for a win, I think Chris Jericho gets the victory.  But Ryback gets his revenge on Raw the following night with Vickie Guerrero by his side.  I can easily see a scenario where Ryback takes out Jericho to not only get some steam back but also as a way to explain Jericho’s latest break with his WWE contract about to expire and him going on tour with his band Fozzy.

Steve:  It is hard to see where WWE is going considering there was really no buildup this week for this match. You had Jericho have two matches with Curtis Axel and Ryback working with the Miz. Jericho will be taking a hiatus from WWE. Ryback gets a much needed win here.

Michael:  Ryback’s character seems to be in a funk, and Chris Jericho has taken a backseat to pretty much every other storyline in the company. This past Monday night hinted at a change in Ryback’s character.  Will we see it play this Sunday? I think Ryback wins as a way to re-establish himself, and that Jericho’s reputation for putting over young, new starts remains intact.

Marshall:  I’m shooting widely in guessing on this one only because this match has no direction towards it and say Jericho wins. Hopefully this can go somewhere and both of these men can get back to something interesting and not thrown into nothing matches to fill time on the pay per view.

Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn
Brian:  I’m not the biggest fan of this storyline and don’t like it when WWE does these petty ‘you’re fat’ angles, especially with the women.  But AJ has broken out as the star of the division both in the ring and out with her promos.  AJ gets the victory here and next up a likely split from Dolph Ziggler.

Steve:  I have really intrigued with this feud. Lee has been really solid on the mic and Kaitlyn has played her role well. Best feud for the women’s division in a long time. I see Lee retaining.

Michael:  It’s refreshing to see the Divas division highlighted in such an effective fashion. I think the last week or two has been more of the same (AJ, we get it, you think Kaitlyn is chubby), but both of these ladies have delivered on their promos. Ultimately, I think AJ walks away with the win here (and, as a result, her ego causes a split with Dolph Ziggler). These two should put on an entertaining match come Sunday, and I think this rivalry will carry the division through to SummerSlam.

Marshall:  As is the case with The Shield, WWE didn’t spend all that time building up AJ for a Diva’s title run to hot potato it back to Kaitlyn weeks later, AJ wins with some help from Big E and we all get to hope this match is better than the more recent meetings between these two.
Intercontinental Title:  Curtis Axel vs. The Miz

Brian:  I’m not sure exactly what the WWE has planned for either of these guy in the coming months.  I’m one of the few people that still really likes Curtis Axel but he needs more opportunity to speak and go through those growing pains so he can improve.  Typically, being on the main roster is not a place for that but he needs it, even with Paul Heyman in his corner.  As for The Miz, this guy headlined WrestleMania a few years ago and now he is trying to land a secondary title so his stock isn’t very high.  While I want to see Axel get into the bigger picture, I think he’ll have to wait but in the meantime, he’ll remain the Intercontinental Champion.

Steve:  Like how Axel has booked even though he lost to Jericho this week on Raw and Smackdown. That showed Axel can be beat and showed great intensity in losing. I don’t know what WWE is doing with The Miz. Doesn’t seem like they have no long term plan with him. Should be a solid match with Axel going over to retain the title.

Michael:  It’s easy to say Curtis Axel walks away with the championship just because WWE would be foolish to take the gold off of him during this build. On the other hand, I think The Miz is in greater need of this championship than Axel. Since this feud is probably just a placeholder to the next step of his push, I do think Curtis Axel retains on Sunday. Personally, I’d like to see him drop the title to The Miz and go on to bigger and better things.

Marshall:  Axel retains in what should be an entertaining match for the IC title to help legitimize his reign as IC champion with Paul Heyman by his side.

World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder Match:  Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro

Brian:  This is the tougher of the two MITB ladder matches to predict.  The popular choice seems to be Wade Barrett which I am in favor for but I’ll go a little out of the box and go with Antonio Cesaro.  Now, I might be dead wrong on him but he’s been such a good worker and I think he’s awesome at his character.  He’s the younger (or newer) WWE guy that people seem to never bring up but now is the time for him to get his due.

Steve:  This has been the match put on the back burner due to the WWE Championship Money in the Bank match. Like the fact this match features all heels. All of these past matches have been good and this match should be no different. Feel that the favorites are Ambrose, Fandango and Sandow with Cesaro as the darkhorse. Going with Ambrose as he has the most upside out of these individuals and see how far he can go.

Michael:  Think Jack Swagger loses any sleep over the fact that he’s the only former World Champion in this match and not in the “All-Stars” one?  If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Wade Barrett to win here, since he looks the most poised to take his game to the next level. But the flashes of greatness I’ve seen from Antonio Cesaro in recent weeks make me consider him a close second. If Barrett does win, I expect him to cash in on Dolph Ziggler at some point down the road.

Marshall:  I call this one for either Swagger or Cesaro, with the edge towards Swagger. Their storyline has made for some great heel heat and winning the contract would only help to elevate that heat to the next level with the threat of an impending cash-in.

Money in the Bank All-Stars Ladder Match:  CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, Christian and Sheamus will compete to win a contract for a WWE Championship Match

Brian:  All along, I’ve thought that Daniel Bryan was destined to win this match and I won’t change that prediction.  However, if you go by regular WWE booking, he has been winning a lot lately so that would seem he wouldn’t get the big win here.  But I think WWE is trying to put him on a big streak to cement him as a main-eventer and set up a big championship match for him against John Cena at SummerSlam.   I would not be surprised in the least though if Randy Orton won here.  The scenario I would like to see play out: Brock Lesnar takes Kane’s spot and win the match.

Steve:  The TBA is due to Kane being out of the match after getting brutally attacked by the Wyatt Family on Raw this past Monday. The match should be the match of the night with Punk, Bryan,Van Dam and Christian in the match. The favorite seems to be Daniel Bryan in this match as he is rumored to be headlining Summerslam. Think the wild card in this match is Van Dam as the returning star. Think Sheamus and Orton cause each other to not win, Punk getting screwed over somehow by Paul Heyman. Feel that Daniel Bryan wins the match and goes onto SummerSlam.

Michael:  Smart money says Daniel Bryan takes the briefcase and main-events SummerSlam with it. But I’m going to go out on a limb here say that RVD becomes Mr. Money in the Bank for a second time. We know Punk is feuding with Lesnar, Sheamus and Orton are both fillers here, and Christian is stuck in mid-card Hell again. So I think it’s only appropriate, in front of a jacked Philly crowd, that Rob Van Dam wins the match and cements his WWE homecoming.

Marshall:  Daniel Bryan wins this match and his second MITB contract. Since losing the Tag Team titles with Kane he’s really seemed to have the build that he had around the time he last won the contract.
World Heavyweight Championship:  Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler

Brian:  Ziggler has lost a bit of his “cool” factor over the past few weeks and it could be tough for him to get it back with his switch to a babyface.  I think it’s too early to take the title off Alberto Del Rio so I’ll say he retains but nothing would surprise me here.  I am glad that Del Rio is back being a heel which he is much better suited at.

Steve:  These guys had a really great match last month at Payback where Del Rio regained the title and saw a double turn as well. No Ricardo Rodriguez as he is suspended for 30 days for violating the wellness policy. Ziggler has looked really strong the last few weeks over Del Rio. Should be another great match with Del Rio retaining and this feud going on until SummerSlam.

Michael:  These guys have had a fantastic feud, but their time is about up. I think Ziggler ultimately wins here to finalizes his ongoing face turn.  Ziggler needs the title more than Del Rio to keep his status in the main event picture. Plus, the endless possibilities of Money in the Bank mean that Ziggler can win without actually leaving with the title. A triple-threat match including Ziggler, Del Rio, and Barrett would be fun for SummerSlam, and give Zigs one of those “overcoming the odds” moment that every babyface in WWE needs. Then again, I’m not a wrestling booker.

Marshall:  Del Rio retains and continues this feud with Ziggler into SummerSlam. This should be another guaranteed great match as Del Rio and Ziggler have always had high energy quality matches when they meet one on one.
WWE Championship:  John Cena vs. Mark Henry

Brian:  I gave away my prediction for this match coming off the All-Stars MITB ladder match with John Cena retaining.  This match may not be that great but the build up to it has been fantastic.  If Henry wins, I think were in line for the triple threat match at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship between Henry, Cena and Ryback and Daniel Bryan would remain out of the title picture for at least another month.

Steve:  The buildup has been better for this match than the two month feud with Cena and Ryback. Henry has been great here with his mic work and Cena as well for the mic work and selling Henry as a legit threat to win the title. The match won’t be a Flair-Steamboat classic, but the match should be passable. Feel this is Henry’s last go around and see Cena retaining and heading to SummerSlam.

Michael:  When this feud kicked off with Henry’s fantastic retirement speech, I really thought he had a chance at winning the WWE Championship. And while I still think he deserves it as the final notch in his career, recent weeks have me convinced that Cena is going to retain in another one of his “odds stacked against me” challenges. But hypothetically, if Henry were on the way out of WWE, wouldn’t a win for him be the perfect goodbye? Then, his rematch with John Cena at SummerSlam with a retirement stipulation would feel like a huge deal. Alas, the year of CENA continues…

Marshall:  Cena retains, flat out. Mark Henry has no shot of being WWE Champion in 2013. World Champ again, maybe, but not the big prize.

WWE Smackdown Rundown – July 12th, 2013

smackdownEntertaining edition of WWE Friday Night Smackdown. While the build for Smackdown’s own Money in the Bank match continued to be lackluster, a solid wrestling card and other final pushes made this a go-home show worth watching. Take a look: [Read more...]

Sheamus Talks WWE Performance Center, Wants the Gold Again

WWE superstar Sheamus talking about the new Performance Center, his training when coming into the wrestling business, the upcoming Money in the Bank PPV and his part in the All-Stars ladder match and wanting to get back in the WWE Championship picture.

Mark Henry Talks WWE Performance Center, Money in the Bank

WWE superstar Mark Henry talks about the new Performance Center and his current run in the WWE including his upcoming match against John Cena at the Money in the Bank PPV.