Welcome to Canton's Corner. This week I'll be doing a ten question Q&A about WWE's Battleground next Sunday, some discussion about Hulk Hogan's future in wrestling and The Undertaker's return. I saw Smackdown, but it wasn't that newsworthy or memorable (the Santino vs. Slater match was memorably awful), so I really don't feel like getting into it too much. Let's get to it.
WWE Battleground 10 Question Q&A
Next weekend WWE will air their inaugural Battleground PPV event. It will take place just three weeks after the Night of Champions PPV. Since they were so close together, I figured WWE might actually announce a few matches by now. They haven't. At this point there are only three matches announced.
WWE Title (Vacant): Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan
World Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam (Hardcore Rules)
CM Punk vs. Ryback
That's it as far as official matches go. There's a rumor of some kind of match that will see The Shield against Cody Rhodes & Goldust, who might get a partner in Dolph Ziggler or somebody else since their dad Dusty can't wrestle anymore. It could just be a 2 on 2 tag match, though. We'll likely find that out on Raw. Right now there's no Divas Title match although they could get to that by Monday too. Here are the ten questions and answers I have on my mind heading into Battleground.
1. Did WWE do the right thing by vacating the WWE Title after Night of Champions?
I don't think so. I think it hurts the title and the guys competing for it. There wasn't enough of a follow up after Night of Champions and I don't like Bryan saying that everything is okay after he was stripped of the title despite the fact that he legitimately won it. He should be angry. It makes him look soft. I get that WWE wants to say "order Battleground to see a new WWE Champion" but I think they did more harm to the WWE Title and the competitors by stripping Bryan after his win.
2. Who do you think will leave Battleground as the WWE Champion?
I feel confident in saying Orton will win. If Bryan wins then he would have won the WWE Title at three consecutive PPVs and then what do you with them? They could have a rematch at Hell in a Cell, but the better story is to have Bryan chase the title. If Bryan goes over here and at Hell in a Cell then does that mean he defends the WWE Title against Ryback or perhaps even Triple H himself? I doubt any of that will happen. I think Bryan's going to lose in some cheap fashion and Orton will leave with the WWE Title again. Perhaps Big Show embraces the heel role again to cost Bryan. I don't think that's what they will do, but it's possible.
3. Do you expect another WWE Title match between Orton and Bryan at Hell in a Cell on October 27?
I do. There really aren't other big feuds going on in WWE that would warrant that spot. There's no point in creating some new rivalry over the course of three weeks. The whole point of Hell in a Cell is to settle a rivalry, so it makes sense to do that. The match at Battleground doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I don't know what they can do to differentiate it from their past matches. At least with Hell in a Cell later in October they will have WWE's most famous gimmick match to help keep it fresh.
4. Is the Hardcore stipulation a good idea for the Del Rio vs. Van Dam World Title Match?
Yeah. I think it will definitely help. Their match at Night of Champions was very average. It felt like they were both holding back. Then again that could just be because their styles clash. RVD's got more of that athletic, unorthodox style while Del Rio is about technical wrestling for the most part. Their chemistry isn't the greatest, but will likely be better at Battleground just because they've been working together more often. I still think Ricardo Rodriguez is going to turn on RVD to re-align with Del Rio because he just doesn't look the part as a "best buddy" of RVD. I expect Del Rio to retain his World Title especially with news out there that RVD's part time deal is up in a couple weeks.
5. Any excitement over the CM Punk vs. Ryback match?
Not really. I'm a huge CM Punk fan, but do we really need to see him feud with Ryback a year after they already had a feud? Ryback bores me. Of course I understand why WWE loves him because he has the body type they are looking for. In terms of his matches, though, I've never been that impressed. I'd rather see CM Punk get back into the title hunt. I know that the reason they're feuding is to make it difficult for Punk to get at Heyman and they're obviously taking their time to get to that point. I guess I'm just ready for Punk to help out Bryan, but there's plenty of time for them to get there too.
6. If there's a Cody/Goldust vs. The Shield match, do you think the stipulation will be that Cody gets his job back if he wins?
That's what I think it will be. It makes sense, right? I'd expect the Rhodes boys to get the win. Perhaps the stipulation can be that whatever brother gets the pinfall gets his job back. I'm not sure if WWE wants to bring back Goldust as a full time wrestler again although I'd be okay with it. I just think the roster is pretty full and it may not happen for him. With Cody obviously he's a guy in his late 20s with a really bright future, so it makes sense for them to put him in a major story like this in order to turn him into a bigger star down the line. I think it will work too. I'm a big fan of this angle.
7. What do you think the Divas Title match will be?
I think it will be AJ Lee defending against Brie Bella. Last month they did the four way Divas Title match where AJ won clean. This past week on Raw she was pinned by Brie in a tag match (the one where six women never tagged in because it was so short), so it seems like they may go with Brie vs. AJ. Since WWE has put over Brie's engagement to Daniel Bryan on their website I think they might want to get that Divas Title onto Brie as a way to make her a bigger star too. Plus, they could use her in the main story with Bryan having to deal with evil Triple H and Stephanie. Does all of that make sense? I think so.
8. Do you like that WWE has three PPVs within six weeks of each other?
I hate it. Night of Champions took place on September 15, Battleground is on October 6 and then Hell in a Cell is October 27. Why does WWE feel the need to put three PPVs so close together like that? I get that they want to have 12 PPVs in the year. I'm not saying they should stop doing that. However, I think they should space them out a bit better. I also question why they would have an extra PPV in the autumn months because there are first run TV shows on Sunday nights that get a lot of viewers plus Sunday night NFL games are the most watched weekly show in America. Why not do two PPVs in May or June? You can space them out. I know that there's that big gap between February's Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania in early April that likely won't change, but there has to be a better way to schedule these pay-per-views.
9. What will be the best match on the show?
It's likely going to be Orton vs. Bryan. They will probably get over 20 minutes. Their match at Night of Champions was just average. I had higher expectations. Perhaps they were saving the bigger spots for this match. I'm not sure. I think that Rhodes Boys vs. The Shield match could be pretty awesome too depending on whether it's a regular tag or a six man tag and also the time given. We know The Shield puts on great matches regularly and since this match has a hot story leading into it my expectations are very high.
10. On a 1-10 scale with 10 being high and 1 being low, how excited are you for Battleground?
I'll go with a 5 because at this point the card is very thin. There are only three matches right now. If that Rhodes Boys vs. Shield match becomes official then I'd bump that 5 up a bit, but a lot depends on what the stipulation is too. I think that story is hot, so that always helps. The main event is a good match. It's not that fresh, though. Plus, with the WWE Title changing multiple times in the last month it hurts the value of the coveted championship.
I think this has been a great year for WWE PPVs, but I believe that Battleground (much like Night of Champions) doesn't have the makings of a memorable show. It's there because it's on the schedule, but unless something major happens on TV this week I doubt that fans are going to be too excited about this show. Hell in a Cell will likely be a bigger deal.
What is Hulk Hogan's Future in Wrestling?
It appears as though Hulk Hogan's run in TNA Wrestling could be over because his contract apparently expires on October 1st. (Read more about it here if you want.) This past Thursday they had a "live" (not really) episode and then after that one they taped the Impact that will air next week. I often get asked my thoughts about it, so I figured I should take a bit of time to share them. I don't care if Hogan leaves TNA (I barely watch it at this point) or if he ends up in WWE in some role. I don't think he has anything to add to the wrestling business anymore. He helped build WCW and also kill it with his selfish attitude as well as booking decisions - he had creative control in his contract. TNA is worse off now than when he joined it. My favorite years in TNA were 2006 when Angle/Joe happened and then a couple years after that were okay. Then Hulk showed up. He's been a heel and a face. The Monday experiment was a disaster. Changing timeslots didn't help. On the road has been a disaster. They have less house shows (zero scheduled in October). They already lost 8 PPVs and somehow tried to translate that into a good thing when in reality it's another admission of lost money.
I don't wish him harm. I hope he can live in peace and without too pain for however many more years he has left on this Earth. I respect what he did for wrestling. I wouldn't be here writing and you wouldn't be here reading about wrestling without him. That's arguable, I guess. As I focus in on the present day, my opinions is that I don't think there's any role for him that would help a wrestling company.
In that same vein, Michael Jordan shouldn't run an NBA team either. He's terrible at it. He was awful with the Wizards in the early 2000s and it continues now with the Bobcats, who will become the Hornets next year. He's not good at that job. I think he's the best basketball player ever and a guy who influenced so many people around the world. He's ridiculously rich because of it, which is why he could afford a team. But that doesn't mean he should run a team. Just because you're at the top when you played does not mean you will be great in your career after your playing days are over.
I don't think Hulk Hogan is good at being a non-wrestler. He needs the money, though. His divorce was expensive. If he lived a life like you or me then he doesn't need the money. But this is Hulk Hogan and he has to buy extravagant things, brother. His ex-wife took him for a lot of money and assets and he'll need to keep being active to pay her. It sucks when people need the money when they should have enough to get by based on what they made in their prime. That's why I think TNA's going to keep him despite whatever angle they run about him quitting the company. It's just a work to rile up the online fans, which is something Bischoff has done since WCW was dying a death because of how stupid it was.
I'm sure WWE would be willing to trot him out for an appearance or two, but they wouldn't pay him what TNA does because they don't have to. It's not like he would get a full time deal with WWE anyway. It might be a Legends deal or some kind of part-time thing, but he's too old to be a full timer. Perhaps he could be an on screen GM or something of that nature although there are enough people in the authority figure role on WWE TV these days as it is. We don't need more.
Whatever he does, I wish him the best. He's not a favorite wrestler of mine, but I have a lot of respect for what he did in his career. That doesn't mean I give a damn about a feud with Dixie Carter, which is probably the last thing TNA should do if they want to try to get people watching their show. You want to win over fans? Push the actual talent, not the GM in his 60s and the woman that runs the company. Nobody cares. The focus of the show should be on the talent rather than the guy that doesn't take bumps anymore.
Hulk earned respect of wrestling fans and will always have mine. I just don't care about watching him limp out there anymore. Some do. And that's cool. But it's not for me anymore. Judging by the small Impact crowds I doubt I'm alone in thinking that either.
Is The Undertaker Coming Back to WWE Soon?
I wish I could definitely answer that with a yes, but for now all I can say is maybe. The reason for the question is based off a tweet that WWE shared on Twitter on Friday afternoon.
"Born a survivor." The date given there is 11/22/1990. What's the significance of that? That was when The Undertaker made his WWE debut at Survivor Series in 1990.
The image obviously looks like Undertaker in his singlet. The #RestinPieces thing could be in reference to The Shield because they're the ones that took him out after WrestleMania earlier this year. There's a possibility that it could be for The Wyatt Family because they're the ones that took out his brother Kane. Currently, Kane's filming See No Evil 2 and is expected to be back in action perhaps in late October. He should be there by November for sure.
It's interesting to note that Undertaker and his wife Michelle McCool were at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, so perhaps that led to his desire to want to get back into the ring before WrestleMania. If he's in shape then why not? I'd love to see him back for a few matches.
I enjoy seeing Undertaker especially at this point in his career. We don't know how many matches he has left, so the best thing we can do is enjoy them while they last. It would definitely be a boost to WWE programming to have Undertaker back at Survivor Series or any event other than WrestleMania.
Of course all of this could simply be about the WWE 2K14 video game that comes out later in October as PWInsider suggests. I don't know why WWE needs to be promoting Undertaker in a video game as a big deal because he's been in their video games for over 20 years now. I hope the purpose of this hype is for a return to the ring rather than simply a plug for the video game.
Also regarding Undertaker, there are always rumors of possible WrestleMania opponents for him. I think it will be Brock Lesnar because I don't think The Rock will wrestle at WrestleMania 30. I also think it's too early to be thinking about what match might take place over six months from now.
Awesome Video of the Week
I'm not sure why they are doing it, but WWE's Youtube channel has been uploading a lot of videos of past matches and segments of late. I know you can find old shows on Youtube all over the place. I also have every PPV and plenty of great content on my computer, but it's nice to have the convenience of Youtube too. Plus, when WWE uploads videos you will get the best quality that there is.
For this week's awesome video I thought we'd go back to 2002 when The Undertaker was the heel WWE Champion (Undisputed Champion) and he faced Jeff Hardy in a Ladder Match for his title. At the time, Hardy was on the receiving end of a singles push after teaming for years with his brother Matt. He was only 25 years old at the time of this match, which shows how great Hardy was at such a young age. I was a huge fan of the "Big Evil" version of Undertaker. He's been a babyface for the majority of his run in WWE, but his heel work was excellent too. That's how it is for most of the greatest wrestlers ever - they can be great in either role.
The Undertaker's handshake at the end of the match was a bit of a surprise, but I loved it because it put Hardy over as if to say "good job, kid." That kind of thing is a big deal because you don't see it too often. I think the current WWE product needs more major title matches on television. It would make the TV shows a bigger deal and more "must see" television.
I was thrilled to join my buddy Rey Moralde on the podcast he does on his site TheNoLookPass.com. We talked about everything from getting into writing, about the wrestling business, the NFL and of course basketball because that's what his site is all about. I was on the podcast for about an hour so check it out now and also be sure to hit up Rey on Twitter @TheNoLookPass to let him know what you thought about it too. Thanks!
That's all for Canton's Corner this week. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep doing this column because life is getting a lot busier and I struggle to get it done at a reasonable time every week. Next week is a PPV, so the preview goes up instead of CC. After that I'm not sure what I'll do. I miss writing career columns about wrestlers. I might do that. I also don't think Saturday is a great day to be posting new columns anyway. Anyway, I'll keep you posted.
If you're a NFL fan, check out my weekly NFL picks column on TJRSports.com. I'll see ya again on Tuesday with the Raw Deal.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org