Batista is Back on WWE Raw and the Royal Rumble is Coming

batistabombBrian and Steve talk about WWE Raw from Monday night which saw the return of Batista, the buildup for this Sunday’s Royal Rumble PPV including John Cena and Randy Orton as they get set to square off for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Daniel Bryan’s explanation for being with the Wyatt Family, more matches for the Rumble show, the entrants right now for the Royal Rumble match itself and others that could be added, more on Hulk Hogan, Sting, the American Wolves debut in TNA Wrestling and your questions.

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All is Right in WWE With Daniel Bryan, More on Raw and WWE Network

bryancageBrian and Steve recap WWE Raw from Monday night including the big turn for Daniel Bryan and the reaction from it, possibly ramifications from this change, more on Raw including the Randy Orton angle involving John Cena and his dad, Ryback ridiculed and talk about the WWE Network from the show and the company’s conference call.  Plus, your questions as well!

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Potential Spoiler for Chris Jericho Return

jerichoWith WrestleMania season approaching, there has plenty of speculation whether or not Chris Jericho will be making his way back to the WWE soon.

Add more to the fuel now The Winnipeg Sun advertising his return to a WWE event Jericho’s hometown in March.

Chris Jericho is bringing the WWE to Winnipeg.

The World Tour is coming to MTS Centre March 7.

Other stars coming to Winnipeg include CM Punk, Big Show, R-Truth, The Miz and Daniel Bryan.

Tickets will be available on wwe.com and Ticketmaster, but are not yet for sale.

Jericho has been pelted with the question about a potential return over and over again.  Late in December, he told WWE.com that he is staying busy but he was open to donning the tights at WrestleMania 30:

I don’t really have the itch. I’m super busy with all the stuff I’m doing, between Fozzy tours, we’re getting ready to record a new record, thepodcast, “But I’m Chris Jericho,” which is another big hit. I’m also finishing my third book. There’s a lot of stuff going on. Having said that, I’d be open to it, but I haven’t had any conversations or anything like that. It’s WrestleMania. Anybody that’s been in WWE wants to be involved. If I’m there, it’ll be awesome and I’ll do everything I can to have the best match on the show. If I’m not, I’ll have a great time watching it, I’m sure.

Within days of that interview, Jericho took to his Twitter account to say he had no plans on coming back right now.

Now look closely at that tweet and you’ll see that he never said he wasn’t returning to the WWE anytime soon next year.  Sure, he says no shenanigans and possibly had his fingers crossed when he wrote that but there is some wiggle room there.

Jericho was last with the WWE on July 19 when he came up short against Curtis Axel in a Smackdown match for the Intercontinental Championship and then being attacked after the match by Ryback.

There are currently no tour dates listed on the Fozzy website.  While Jericho always keep a full schedule, that is always the case and he could be back in time for at least a short-term run in the WWE including WrestleMania 30.

Thoughts on a possible Chris Jericho return to the WWE?  Share you comments below.

Look Back at 2013 in Wrestling, WWE Poised for Big 2014

Brian, Steven and Michael from Between The Ropes are back for the weekly Flagship show as they back at 2013 in wrestling including their thoughts on the match of the year, superstar of the year, the biggest news story, the best feud and more.  Plus, they look ahead to 2014 in what could be a very big year for the WWE with the expected launch of the WWE Network and how they could transform their business.

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WWE TV Deals Coming, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania Talk

RAW_shawnbootslargeA lot to get to on this week’s BTR Flagship show with Brian, Steve and Michael as they talk about the Variety.com article regarding the WWE negotiating it’s new TV deals, if there is too much programming especially with the WWE Network about to launch, who could possibly appear at the Royal Rumble, rumors of the return of a big name at WrestleMania, if Shawn Michaels may get back in the ring one more time and more. All this while Brian battles the internet just to be on the video!

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More Discussion on Final Segment of WWE Raw, John Cena and Daniel Bryan Going Forward

rawwhathappenedAnother podcast with Brian and Michael who insisted he get a chance to talk about the final segment from WWE Raw on Monday.  They give their impressions from the segment, what intrigued them so much about it, what the future could be for both John Cena and Daniel Bryan, WrestleMania 30 possibilities, WWE changing their imagining and more.

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WWE Raw Comes Alive With Spectacular Final Segment, People Really Like Daniel Bryan

RAW_1072_Photo_191Brian and Steve talk about WWE Raw from Monday night including a spectacular final segment, all the different directions the company could possibly go in now, the reaction to Daniel Bryan and how the fans are demanding for more of him, the smarts of John Cena, how this could play into the WWE TLC PPV on Sunday, more WrestleMania 30 speculation when it comes to matches, the Slammy Awards, WWE Network, AJ Styles done with TNA Wrestling and more.

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WrestleMania 31 Location Revealed

vincemaniaGo west young man.

That is where the WWE is reportedly headed for WrestleMania 31 in 2015 with the annual event set to take place in Santa Clara, California at the new home of the San Francisco 49ers, Levi Stadium.

F4Wonline.com was first to report the location.

WWE will make an official annoucement on Tuesday at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

WWE had to have been intrigued by the brand new, state-of-the-art facility with Levin Stadium set to open next year and will also be the home to the Super Bowl in 2016.

Also, the WWE Hall of Fame and Monday Night Raw that weekend will take place at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.

WWE is also expected to make an announcement for WrestleMania 32 in 2016 in the next few months.  The two leading cities for the event that year are Arlington, Texas where it would be held at Cowboys Stadium which can hold over 100,000 and Orlando, Florida at the newly refurbished Citrus Bowl which was the home to WrestleMania 24.

WWE Survivor Series and Raw Fallout, John Cena and Randy Orton Unifying Titles at TLC

ortoncenaunifyBrian, Steve and Michael are back for the Between The Ropes Flagship video as they talk about the fallout from the WWE Survivor Series and Raw, the upcoming title unification match at the TLC pay-per-view between John Cena and Randy Orton, who they think will win as it stands right now, the rating for Raw on Monday, the favorite year for wrestling, wrestlers organically becoming stars and more,

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In Defense of The Miz

the miz

Hey internet, it’s time to give The Miz a break. Not that he doesn’t deserve the criticism, but he probably doesn’t deserve the non-stop nitpicking that happens every time MizTV comes on. He probably doesn’t deserve to be called out for using the figure-four leglock, an obviously corporate decision. And he probably doesn’t deserve to be made fun of for Real World anymore. [Read more...]

Between The Ropes Podcast – August 26, 2013

It’s Monday so Brian and Steve are back to look ahead to WWE Raw tonight.  Plus, they talk about Goldberg and whether or not he could return to WWE for the Hall of Fame and possibly a match at WrestleMania XXX next year, where it looks like WrestleMania could be in 2015 and 2016, Ted DiBiase Jr. leaving the WWE, AJ Styles possibly leaving TNA and if he would be a good fit in the WWE and a big discussion about WWE creative and utilizing the talent roster.

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WWE Makes A Major Announcement Regarding WWE 2K14

The WWE and 2K announced today that the new video game WWE 2K14 will now have a feature called 30 Years of WrestleMania, which will be centered around the biggest matches in the history of WrestleMania. One of the big matches will include Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant from WrestleMania III.

There will be 45 matches included in the new feature including matches like Hogan versus Andre, Hogan versus The Rock from WrestleMania 18 and The Rock versus John Cena from WrestleMania 28.

The new feature will also include recreated arenas, ring entrances of the wrestlers and the graphics used for each match.

Here is a statement WWE issued today regarding the new feature for WWE 2K14:

2K announced the all-new “30 Years of WrestleMania” mode in “WWE 2K14,” the upcoming video game in the award-winning franchise. Details about the exciting new single-player campaign were revealed during a conference call with WWE COO Triple H and 2K Creative Director Cory Ledesma.

Inspired by the landmark WrestleMania XXX, which will emanate from New Orleans on Sunday, April 6, 2014, “30 Years of WrestleMania” will be a nostalgic journey through three decades of WWE history. Utilizing the greatest video game roster ever assembled, “30 Years” will allow players the chance to relive and experience 45 classic WrestleMania matches, including Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III, Hogan vs. The Rock at WrestleMania X8 and The Rock vs. John Cena a tWrestleMania XXVIII.

The inclusion of Hulk Hogan in the game is a particularly exciting announcement, and one the WWE Universe has eagerly anticipated.

In addition to the 45 classic WrestleMania matches, 2K has painstakingly recreated arenas, era-centric graphics and vintage screen effects to provide gamers with the ultimate historically accurate experience.

“WrestleMania creates moments in time that last forever,” WWE’s COO told reporters. “And with our amazing partner, 2K, we can really capture that.”

Also included are exclusive WWE-produced video packages made for the game to refresh the storylines that led to the matches and historical in-game objectives to unlock a treasure trove of rewards such as Superstars, Legends, alternate attire and exclusive photography.

“Knowing where you came from is important to where you’re going to go, and for WrestleMania, it’s important to see these iconic moments,” Triple H said. “We are extremely excited about this concept, as 30 years of WrestleMania is a massive milestone for us.”

“WWE 2K14″ puts gamers in the boots of WWE’s grandest Superstars at the very moments that made them legendary, allowing WWE Universe members the chance to live that big match and participate in that big WrestleMania moment.

Because “WWE 2K14″ is where dream matches happen, WWE.com asked Triple H what his dream match would be. Admitting that it would be hard to choose just one, The Cerebral Assassin said, “I would have loved to go one-on-one with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania, because I consider him to be the greatest in-ring performer of all time, and my best friend.”

Since we are talking dream matchups here, Triple H added, “I’d go back to the early ’80s and wrestle Ric Flair … I’ll go back even further and say Bruno Sammartino and Buddy Rogers. I’m really a history-based guy.”

And, from all accounts, “WWE 2K14″ is shaping up to be a game steeped in history, while bringing the cutting-edge graphics and gameplay the WWE Universe has come to expect from the franchise. Follow Between The Ropes on Facebook and Twitter.

You can follow me on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.

Between The Ropes Podcast – August 5, 2013

Brian and Steve preview tonight’s edition of Monday Night Raw, talk about the WWE financial numbers from last week’s second quarter report, PPV buyrate numbers, thoughts on what WrestleMania was down, if they could ever increase the price in the show, WWE TV future, BJ Whitmer’s injury at the ROH show over the weekend, Tito Ortiz to TNA Wrestling and more.

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WWE Executive John Saboor Talks New Performance Center, WrestleMania

WWE Senior Vice President of Special Events John Saboor talks about the new Performance Center in Orlando, FL, WrestleMania possibly returning to the city and the chances of a physical WWE Hall of Fame in the near future.

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 1, 2013

btrlogoBrian and Steve look ahead to WWE Raw tonight, marriages and engagements, titles being retired, Doink the Clown passing away, rumors regarding the lineup for Summerslam and WrestleMania and who should headline the shows, the new WWE Performance Center, a physical WWE Hall of Fame possibly being built and more.

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WWE No Longer Needs the World Heavyweight Championship

dolph-zigglerNormally, a World Champion being out of action for five weeks would seem like a big deal. In his absence, a wrestling company would still find ways to highlight him. It would show vignettes on his return, interview him from his home, or even put him in the ring and let him cut a few promos. If he ran the risk of missing one or two Pay-Per-Views due to the injury, he might even be stripped of his title
(anybody remember the classic “a champion must defend his title once every 30 days” rule?).

Instead, the WWE just ignored it.

Dolph Ziggler was out for over five weeks due to a concussion, and the company just moved on as though he didn’t exist. They barely mentioned him on television, rarely checked in with him during the recovery process, and never spotlighted what his absence, along with the World Heavyweight Championship, meant to the company. For those five weeks, WWE existed without two top champions.

And guess what… it survived. Not only that, but Smackdown (former home of the World Heavyweight Champion) seemed to actually thrive. By putting together a string of shows focusing more on other championships, like the United States and Tag Team titles, the show was the most enjoyable it’s been in months.

Let’s take a step back for a moment. The World Heavyweight Championship was originally introduced for Raw just a few months after the start of the brand extension. It only made sense that a top guy existed on each show to headline house shows and serve as the “face” of that brand. Eventually, when both Smackdown and Raw started hosting their own Pay-Per-Views, each World Champion was given his own headlining event.

But things have changed. WWE stopped hosting separate brand-extension Pay-Per-Views in 2007. In late 2011, both shows essentially merged with the ‘SuperShow’ format. And since then, the powers-that-be have come out and said that the brand extension is over because they want the product to flow between all the different platforms.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to care about the disparity between the two World Titles. Did you know that the World Heavyweight Championship hasn’t been contested in a Pay-Per-View main-event match since 2010’s Hell in a Cell? It has, however, opened up a Wrestlemania. Twice. And at last year’s Money in the Bank Pay-Per-View, the World Heavyweight Championship contract match was open to the entire roster, while the WWE Championship was opened only to previous champions. How is that considered equal?

Even CM Punk addressed this on an episode of Raw in September, when he confronted reigning World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus and told him that he was only the “second-best in the world.” And Sheamus didn’t really argue with him, either.

But the idea that WWE would let Dolph Ziggler stay at home for five weeks as the reigning, defending, World Heavyweight Champion, and do nothing to address the situation, completely boggles my mind. When CM Punk “walked out” with the WWE Championship two years ago, the company was ready to crown a completely new champion the next night on Raw. Now, things just hum along like business as usual.

So is Dolph Ziggler considered a second-class champion? Where does that put current United States Champion Dean Ambrose, or Intercontinental Champion Wade Barrett?

Unfortunately, the World Heavyweight Championship is now treated like a stepping-stone to the real top title. When WWE thinks you’re ready to break through, they’ll give you the big gold belt. And maybe one day, if you’re lucky (or your name ends in “CENA”), you might get to hold the WWE Championship. Maybe.

If you go back 10 years, this was the exact purpose of the Intercontinental Championship. It highlighted guys on their way up – guys who might not quite be at the top of their game yet, but who had a chance of getting there one day. It was defended more frequently on free TV, and often changed hands, but it was always backed-up with purposeful booking. Now, both it and the United States championship are handed off seemingly at random. They’re just filler championships used to pad the resume of whoever Vince’s flavor-of-the-month is. They have no prestige.

And the World Heavyweight Championship is going down that same path.

So please, WWE, I’m begging you: unify both World Titles. Re-instate the IC Championship for the young, hungry guys, and make the United States Championship whatever it needs to be. Just retire the World Heavyweight Championship while it still has that strong, proud lineage to fall back on.

Championships need to feel exclusive to be important. It’s time to bring that idea back to WWE.

Why Kofi Kingston is the Face of the WWE Problem

kofi kingstonIn late 2009, Kofi Kingston was finally ready for his breakout moment.

His career arc up to that point included all the typical WWE milestones: after signing with the WWE in 2006 he did a stint in developmental before eventually working his way onto the main roster. By late 2008, he had collected a few mid-card titles (including the tag-team championship with CM Punk), and had shown that his athleticism and work-ethic were some of the best in the company. Hardcore and casual fans loved him. Plus, he had paid his dues.

When October of 2009 rolled around, Kingston had been in and out of the main event picture for most of the year. His brief run-ins with Edge and Chris Jericho made him seem like a star, and a lengthy United States title run further decorated his resume. He was only looking for that one rivalry to put him over the top.

Enter Randy Orton.

Orton was fresh off a WWE Championship reign. His heel-tactics had earned him the ire of the entire WWE Universe, and so a victory for the babyface Kingston would establish Kingston’s status as a main event superstar. Their rivalry was fresh and exciting. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it went. Kofi Kingston got his victory over Randy Orton, but it was a flukey win stuck in the middle of three Orton-dominated matches. Then Kingston went on to spend 2010 in mid-card hell. Despite a few highlight-worthy moments since, and a handful of great matches, his career has never truly recovered.

So what’s the real issue here?  It seems WWE struggles with handling a sustainable build, and often fails to follow-through. Kingston undoubtedly has all the tools of a superstar, but he’s never been spotlighted long enough to create the buzz that follows other main event players. His rivalry with Orton should have been the launching pad to bigger and greater things. Instead, it was the high point of a single storyline. They had nothing serious planned for him once he lost to Orton.

Kingston’s not alone here. CM Punk captured the World Heavyweight Championship TWICE, and still had a hard time getting traction. In fact, he didn’t cement his place atop the roster until after his infamous ‘Pipe Bomb Promo’ and the ensuing rivalry with John Cena. That was when WWE Creative finally gave CM Punk both an angle he could sink his teeth into, and a storyline that kept him in the spotlight.

Fans often complain that if a young gun could just get that one victory, or grab a World Championship that one time, they’d be set. I argue that it’s less about the championship itself, or even the victory, and more about what takes place after.

Remember Zack Ryder? He got his shining moment, winning the United States Championship and celebrating with Punk and Bryan the next night on ‘Raw.’ Now he’s the jobber to the stars. What about Jack Swagger? He climbed the proverbial ladder and is billed as a “former World-Heavyweight Champion.” Today, his career can’t seem to find anything that clicks. Cody Rhodes defeated Rey Mysterio at Wrestlemania over two years ago, and he’s rarely even featured on PPV pre-shows anymore. The examples go on and on.

I’m not arguing all of these guys could, or even should, be headlining pay-per-views. But I think they’re all shining examples of WWE’s short-sightedness. Creative puts a wrestler out there, gives him some momentum, then tucks tail and runs because they can’t immediately sell merchandise like John Cena or Randy Orton. News flash, WWE: Those guys took years of build to become as popular as they are today. And unfortunately, giving a superstar a small push then immediately pulling them from TV for weeks does more to harm a superstar than help them.

As a fan, I want time to invest in a superstar, so I can genuinely care. Give me feuds that build to bigger and better things, and let me see an actual progression of character. I want surprise wins and heartbreaking losses. Take The Miz, for example. He was never supposed to be a WWE main-eventer, or even a real threat for TV time. However, when he split from John Morrison, the WWE writing team laid the groundwork for his rise to success. They spotlighted him on WWE television, gave him mid-card wins, and let his stock rise for a year. Then, in late 2010, he cashed in the Money in the Bank contract for his first WWE Championship reign.

Miz Money in the BankBut notice how things didn’t just stop there. In the subsequent months, they continued to put him in meaningful rivalries, eventually culminating in a Wrestlemania match against John Cena. After he reached the top, they let him stay. It was over a year later before they finally changed The Miz into a face, and it was at a time his popularity was starting to wane. It actually felt like a great refresh.

I think the WWE had the right concept with Ryback. They wanted him to be a beast, and so they let him decimate anybody on the roster. While his feud with CM Punk last year felt premature, it also felt plausible, if only because he looked like the kind of guy that could beat anybody in the company. Fans even started chanting along with him. But then, less than four months later, WWE changed its mind and decided to make Ryback a heel. A guy that was finally starting to get over in popularity was changed to an entirely different character. And, subsequently, his current feud with John Cena feels bland.

WWE is losing viewers on a weekly basis, and people are less interested in the product than ever. When former stars like The Rock or Brock Lesnar have to show up and sell your pay-per-views, something isn’t right with the way you’re handling talent.

Kofi Kingston might never become a world champion, and Zack Ryder might never main-event again. Those are things I’ve learned to accept. But something I can’t accept is a mediocre, warmed-over product, when the WWE has all the right pieces to be so much more.

WWE: WrestleMania 29 Highest Grossing Mania Ever

WWE sent out this press release touting WrestleMania 29 at the Highest Grossing WrestleMania in history.

STAMFORD, Conn., April 25, 2013 – WWE® (NYSE:WWE) today announced that WrestleMania 29, held Sunday, April 7 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, grossed in excess of $72 million, the highest grossing event in WWE history. In addition, WrestleMania 29 will once again exceed 1 million global pay-per-view buys and attracted a sold out crowd of 80,676 fans from all 50 states and 34 countries at MetLife Stadium.

New Orleans, Louisiana will be the site of next year’s WrestleMania, which will take place Sunday, April 6, 2014 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Ticket information will be announced later this year.

About WWE

WWE, a publicly traded company (NYSE: WWE), is an integrated media organization and recognized leader in global entertainment. The company consists of a portfolio of businesses that create and deliver original content 52 weeks a year to a global audience. WWE is committed to family friendly entertainment on its television programming, pay-per-view, digital media and publishing platforms. WWE programming is broadcast in more than 150 countries and 30 languages and reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Miami, Mumbai, Shanghai, Singapore, Istanbul and Tokyo.

Additional information on WWE (NYSE: WWE) can be found at wwe.com and corporate.wwe.com. For information on our global activities, go to http://www.wwe.com/worldwide/.