Parts Unknown: The Royal Rumble, The Rock And The Legend Of Maven
(Panama City, Florida) The Road to WrestleMania begins on Sunday with one of the most entertaining pay-per-views of the year, the Royal Rumble. For those unaware of the concept, the Royal Rumble Match pits 30 competitors against each other, one entering the ring after a few minutes until the field is completely out of the locker room. The winner earns a WWE or World Championship shot at WrestleMania against the titlist of their choosing.
This year’s 30-man brawl looks to be devoid of major surprises. There are a handful of clear favorites with any among the group of Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Ryback, John Cena and Randy Orton likely to win.
The rest of the card includes Alberto Del Rio putting his World Heavyweight Championship on the line against The Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match, Tag Team Champions Team Hell No against Team Rhodes Scholars and a little WWE Championship match pitting CM Punk against that guy named The Rock.
The Tangled Web Of Te’o
(Panama City, Florida) The sport’s world’s most fascinating and oddest story in some time broke on Wednesday, when Deadspin reported Manti Te’o’s relationship with Lennay Kekua was an online hoax.
The story of Kekua and her September 12, 2012 death from leukemia garnered national attention during Te’o’s and Notre Dame’s run to the Bowl Championship Series Title Game this season. Te’o claimed he was informed of the death hours after the passing of his grandmother. The dual deaths and Te’o’s love for Kekua propelled him through the season and his play placed him on the brink of the Heisman Trophy.
Parts Unknown: Never Too Early For Undertaker, WrestleMania Speculation
(Panama City, Florida) Anyone who follows my Twitter account (and if not, why don’t you?? @BradMilner) knows I have a thing for time travel. So let’s take a journey to next year’s WrestleMania, shall we?
There are myriad possibilities for matches and it’s likely we will see The Rock, Brock Lesnar, John Cena and CM Punk in the mix among the top attractions. There also is that guy floating around who just so happens to be 20-0 at WrestleMania, whose name is The Undertaker. He could work into a match with any of the aforementioned foes.
Of course, we won’t know anything for certain until the early part of next year. Undertaker works on his schedule now, which isn’t much, and appears fewer times than Sting did in his heyday with WCW. Sting also is an intriguing possibility, but more on that later.
Parts Unknown: The Convoluted Mess That Is WWE Storylines
(Panama City, Florida) John Cena’s elbow injury caused a world of trouble for WWE Creative recently. His bad health necessitated an audible that led to a quirky ending in the Ryback-CM Punk WWE Championship Match at Hell in a Cell. Now, Cena’s apparent green light to compete again drastically changed the lineup for Survivor Series, which takes place in two weeks and is in dire need of momentum.
Two weeks ago we were treated to the formation of Team Foley and Team CM Punk with both squads set for the classic elimination tag match. Flash forward a week and Team Foley is now facing Team Dolph Ziggler and CM Punk will defend his title against Ryback and Cena in a Triple Threat Match.
That sounds wonderful and all, but before this happened WWE decided to toss Cena into a storyline involving “improper conduct” with former Raw General Manager AJ Lee. Vickie Guererro also is at the forefront of this, as is her beau Ziggler. Only problem now is both wrestlers are involved in separate events at Survivor Series and Foley is left with no true connection to his team’s main foe.
Parts Unknown: Where Does WWE Take Ryback From Here?
(Panama City, Florida) A funny thing happened while fans were taunting Ryback’s gimmick with Goldberg chants. The repackaged WWE superstar has found his niche and the gimmick has taken off, leaving many to wonder how far Ryback is headed. He opposes CM Punk for the WWE Championship in Sunday’s Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in a match some feel is too soon.
It became a necessity when John Cena had elbow surgery a few weeks ago and the uncertainty in when he would return thrust Ryback into the main event. Cena has been cleared, as of this week, but it’s Ryback’s turn against the long-reigning champion.
Ryback’s unbeaten streak has been highlighted by several handicap match victories over jobbers. He’s also defeated Jinder Mahal, Tensai, Jack Swagger and The Miz in singles competition. That list isn’t overly impressive, but what is important is the reaction Ryback has received.
Parts Unknown: The Greatness That Is “Check The Deal, Bro”
(Panama City, Florida) A funny thing happened on Monday Night Raw this week and sadly I think it slipped through the cracks. At least, a search of Google didn’t turn up much and as far as I can tell it was one of the few things not to trend on Twitter regarding a WWE event.
CM Punk upped his heel factor this week by walking out of a match against Sheamus that was set up by Raw General Manager AJ earlier in the show. Punk said he was taking a “personal day” but before he did he uttered a phrase that should be on T-shirts and signs next week.
Punk leaned in to AJ and said “Check the deal, bro,” as in, she needs to read up on his contract and its parameters. Punk left and returned at the end of the show to help Alberto Del Rio defeat John Cena. We also saw Paul Heyman driving Punk away in a car, which plants the seeds of the alignment we all saw coming.
Parts Unknown: Behold, WWE Has An App
(Panama City, Florida) WWE has a new app for your trusty smart phones. It’s free, of course, and it only took them until 2012 to roll one out.
That said, the app shows they took some time in building it rather than shoving something out to the masses that has little worth. I’m looking at you, Tout!
The app is available for all major phones. I have an older model Samsung Android phone, which may be the cause of some of the hiccups. I’ll get to that in a second.
Parts Unknown: What Should And Will Happen At SummerSlam
(Panama City, Florida) SummerSlam, always one of my favorite pay-per-views of the year, comes on Sunday off a most hot ending to Monday Night Raw. Shawn Michaels, fearing Brock Lesnar all night, was finally corralled and brutalized in the ring to the tune of a “broken arm.” Triple H ended the show fuming while Lesnar smiled, or maybe had gas, but looked happy either way.
The card has six matches and a seventh featuring Santino Marella and Antonio Cesaro for the United States Championship on the pre-show, as of this writing. There has been considerable build for three — Lesnar-HHH, the WWE Title Triple Threat Match and Dolph Ziggler-Chris Jericho.
Here’s a look at what should happen in each match and what is likely to happen:
Parts Unknown: WWE’s Mysteries And Burning Questions
(Panama City, Florida) Professional wrestling, er sports entertainment, is full of oddities. Storylines sometimes are convoluted and sometimes they just end for no reason and with no explanation. Characters are larger than life and some work, some don’t.
Wrestling also brings up questions. Many times that question is “what were they smoking?” but other occasions it’s simply just something that has no reason for existing.
Here are some of the WWE’s mysteries and burning questions, well at least ones rolling in my head, and possible answers:
Parts Unknown: AJ’s And Booker T’s New Digs, AW’s Big Mouth And More
(Panama City, Florida) AJ Lee debuted as General Manager of Monday Night Raw this week. Booker T was named the General Manager of SmackDown at a taping on Tuesday. Both changes bring a fresh outlook to the shows, which had gone without permanent figures for weeks.
Booker T has maintained a presence in WWE for years, most recently as a commentator on SmackDown and pay-per-views. I will say he wasn’t the greatest commentator in history, with my personal faves when he would say “the shoulder area” or the like for a body part rather than simply stating where the wrestler was struck.
His attitude is perfect for the role of GM, as he has never been known to take flack from anyone, whether as a face or heel. It will add a nice dimension to the show.
Parts Unknown: Speculating About Raw’s 1,000th Episode
(Panama City, Florida) In case you haven’t heard, Monday Night Raw will broadcast its 1,000th episode next week. No other weekly episodic show, as Michael Cole would say, has come close to achieving such a feat. A show that started in small confines has blossomed, defined a generation and set the standard in sports entertainment.
This Raw also is the first in a permanent switch to three hours. The debate as to whether that’s a good or a bad idea can wait a while, but you can be sure this historic edition will be filled with intrigue and surprises.
The Degeneration-X reunion starts the show. It’s been advertised as Triple H and Shawn Michaels, but many are hoping the entire D-X crew will reunite for this special night. Perhaps the festivities will be interrupted by Brock Lesnar, who will be on hand to answer HHH’s SummerSlam challenge.
Parts Unknown: Hoping For An AJ Wardrobe Malfunction And A Look At Money In The Bank
(Panama City, Florida) Money in the Bank comes on Sunday off one of the weakest Monday Night Raws in the past month. It wasn’t so much the show didn’t do well in putting the final set up on matches, because it did, it more so felt disjointed at times, rushed and poorly written. Also, many of the segments fell flat, but one can’t expect too much from the likes of the Great Khali and Hornswoggle now can we?
The WWE Championship situation opened and closed Raw. The beginning was more of the goodness that is A.J., Daniel Bryan and CM Punk complete with two marriage proposals. The end of the show saw AJ delivering two face slaps and skipping away.
I’ve said it many times, but it bears repeating. This is the best storyline WWE has done all year and AJ is magically entrancing in the role of the “crazy chick.” Her skills on the microphone are better than most Divas and her mannerisms just make you want to tie her to a bed post and have your way with her for 10 hours.
Parts Unknown Column: More Random Thoughts and Ideas
(Panama City, Florida) John Cena made headlines when he announced on Monday he would enter a Money in the Bank Match for the first time. He will join former WWE Champions Big Show, Chris Jericho and Kane in the match, which will take place at the MITB pay-per-view July 15.
I didn’t watch Raw live this week, nor did I follow my Twitter stream, but it’s a good bet the WWE Universe decried Cena being in the match because they all think he’s going to win. Not so fast, my friend.
This match is always a wildcard and Cena can look strong while still “losing.” It makes more sense for Big Show to win and hover over the WWE champion for a few months while still being booked as an unstoppable force.
Parts Unknown Column: Get Over Yourself, Ryback Is Simply Good Entertainment
(Panama City, Florida) In professional wrestling, what’s old is new again. Conversely, what’s new is old again when a gimmick doesn’t gather steam like the creative team had hoped. This leads to wrestlers being what’s dubbed “repackaged” to give their character fresh legs with the hopes of catching on with the fans.
Gimmicks, like Rome, aren’t built in a day. It takes time for the wrestler to get used to their character, to try out different things to find out what works and what doesn’t. Success takes time, while failure can come much faster.
The latest repackaging, or in his case, revisiting of a character, is Ryback. He began in the development stages by wrestling under his given name, Ryan Reeves. He also wrestled as Ryback in Ohio Valley Wrestling, briefly holding a title, but moving away from the gimmick in its previous incarnation.
Parts Unknown Column: No Way Out Predictions
(Panama City, Florida) No Way Out comes Sunday on the heels of a well-rounded and intense three-hour Monday Night Raw which saw Mr. McMahon knocked out by The Big Show. The punch really didn’t land, but McMahon sold it well and the stage was set for a pay-per-view that on the surface has some promise.
As of this writing on Tuesday, there were five scheduled matches along with the Brodus Clay-David Otunga pre-show match for the event, which makes its return to the PPV lineup for the first time since 2009. Of course, recent PPVs have included impromptu matches and we’re bound to see another Ryback squash match. Maybe this time they’ll feed him three competitors like he’s so eloquently asked.
It was good to see Mr. McMahon back on television. His character really is versatile and even though he still straddles the line between tasteful and distasteful sometimes (see: the Jim Ross impression), he’s golden on camera. As much as people may disagree, WWE TV could use a dose of McMahon on a semi-regular basis.