January 2014 News: Month in Review
So this is the first of what will hopefully become a regular feature here. I am going to round up the biggest news stories/moments of the month, and put them all into a list. It will let me cover stories that I wouldn’t otherwise get round to covering, and it may be something to look back on with a bit of nostalgia. I’m going to post this on either the last day of the month, or the first day of the next, so that’s more regular content from the off!
I’ve split things up into three categories: Inside The Ring, Outside The Ring, and In The Industry. The first is what we see on WWE TV, the second covers behind the scenes in the WWE, and the last is anything outside of the WWE basically, in the wrestling industry. This will probably be quite a long article, so let’s get to it!
Inside The Ring
- Batista returns and wins the Royal Rumble – might as well start with the controversial one. After being hyped for the best part of a month, Batista returned and left us all wondering why exactly we were excited for him to come back. He feels completely out of place, and his insertion into the main event of Wrestlemania has ruined any chance of what would have been the best feel-good moment at a Wrestlemania for years.
- Daniel Wyatt – When Daniel Bryan joined the Wyatt Family, I was intrigued. It could have been another chapter in an epically long feud between these two, but it didn’t last long. When Bryan finally got some measure of revenge on Bray inside that cage, it was the best Raw ending in recent memory, and the crowd seemed more pumped than they had been for a long time.
- Jake Roberts returns – at Old School Raw, we saw the first appearance of Jake “The Snake” Roberts in a WWE ring for years. He came out after Roman Reigns beat CM Punk, and “snaked” Dean Ambrose. His appearance was the result of his hard work to sober up, and while it may not have been the Rumble spot he publicly targeted, it was still a heart-warming moment that some thought they may have never seen again.
- Old school Raw – I counted 17 “legends” making an appearance. The highlights included Ric Flair, Roddy Piper doing Piper’s Pit with The Shield, The New Age Outlaws making their regular return to TV, and the aforementioned Reigns victory over Punk leading to the Jake Roberts return.
- Brock Lesnar returns – and announced his intention to be the WWE Champion again. He also “broke” Mark Henry’s arm, destroyed the Big Show, and attacked Cody Rhodes and Goldust. It’s been a busy month for Mr Lesnar and Heyman.
- Hall of Fame Class of 2014 – we have discovered the first two inductees: The Ultimate Warrior and Jake Roberts. Warrior’s return is big because he had a pretty public falling out with Vince McMahon, and their feud now looks to be over. Expect him to be involved at Wrestlemania in some capacity (he has apparently pitched a match against Ryback). With Roberts also returning to the company, this was a natural step for him too.
- Emma-taining – from returns to debuts. We have seen the first appearances of Emma from NXT, generally in crowds. The announcers are acknowledging her though, so this might be the start of her main roster career. She is a good prospect, but her appearances have led to other questions; notably where is Paige?
- Elimination Chamber announced – at this point there are two matches announced. The Chamber match itself; featuring John Cena, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Christian, Antonio Cesaro and of course Randy Orton. The other confirmed match is The Shield vs The Wyatts, which was at one point rumoured for Wrestlemania. That’s gonna be two great matches, so here’s hoping the rest of the card will live up to it.
- Your 6-time Tag Team Champions… – oh, you didn’t know? The New Age Outlaws not only returned to TV, they became your new Tag Team Champions of the world at the Royal Rumble kickoff. While it may not be ideal that the Champions have an average age of 47, they are a credible team who can put together a good match. And if it leads to the Uso’s going over at Wrestlemania, I’m all for it.
Outside The Ring
- Mae Young – after quite a lot of confusion at one point, it was announced that WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young had passed away. RIP.
- Taker WMXXX match speculation – It was pretty much agreed that Taker would be facing Lesnar at one point, then suddenly there were reports that WWE officials were concerned that Lesnar would hurt Taker and other such worries, and also that Taker had specifically asked to work with Daniel Bryan. Throw in the constant Sting speculation and Taker’s match at Mania remains very much up in the air. There were also reports that several top matches could be changed due to CM Punk walking out, and the crowd reaction at the Royal Rumble. Those changes directly affected 3 out of the 5 main rumoured matches, so everything is still to play for really at this stage.
- Dolph Ziggler concussed (again) – For the second time in a year, Ziggler was out for a couple of weeks because of a concussion. This time it happened during a match against Ryback for Main Event. On the plus side though, he made his return in the Rumble match, and the crowd showed they were still behind him. Hopefully he has been in the doghouse long enough, and officials will start to have some faith in him again.
- Kaitlyn released – or maybe that should be Kaitlyn quit. It’s a shame because she was one of the better Divas in the company, but it’s very understandable when you consider how sparingly she was being used towards the end.
- WWE network – probably the biggest story of the month. I’m not going to go into all the details here because there are so many of them (and I’m sure you will already know them), but I will say this looks awesome. I will definitely subscribe when it becomes available in the UK, which will probably be around the start of 2015.
- Ryback vs Twitter – this was just plain weird. He tweeted about being released, bragged about concussing Ziggler, thanked fans for making him rich and made a sexual joke about Jerry Lawler’s ex-wife. He has since deleted all of those tweets, and at one point his Twitter account was empty. So if you wonder why Ryback isn’t in the main event scene anymore, reliability (among other things) may be an issue.
- AJ becomes longest reigning Divas Champion – and in doing so emulated her boyfriend CM Punk’s accomplishment with the WWE Championship. She overtook Maryse and as I post this her reign is at 230 days. It’s a hell of an achievement, and long may it continue.
- Hogan reaches verbal agreement with WWE – Hulk Hogan is coming back to the WWE. While he hasn’t officially signed with the company, word is that he has agreed a deal in principle. The rumour as of right now is that he won’t be cleared to do anything physical (not even a leg-drop, in case he shatters into a million tiny little pieces), and instead may be the host of Wrestlemania.
- Sting in talks with WWE – Probably the biggest name never to have stepped foot in the WWE… for now. He is in talks, and it’s looks more likely now than ever before, probably for the reason that it gets increasingly unlikely with every year that goes by. Word is that he may not even be on Wrestlemania this year, but will have a year-long run culminating in a match Wrestlemania 31. I think it’s the right move. If only so that WWE’s history can be complete with every top star. And with the network coming up, Sting is a valuable guy to have working on projects.
- Punk does an Austin… – and now for the biggest story of the week. The Stone Cold of the PG era has taken it one step further, and walked out; reportedly because he wasn’t happy with the creative direction of the company. His frustrations are very understandable, and it’s not like he’s one to bottle his emptions up. Now I’m not saying he handled it the right way, especially with a matter of months left on his contract, but I don’t think any of us would disagree with his motives.
- Highest Raw viewership in 10 months – The last Raw before the Rumble, featuring the return of Batista, was the highest rated show since March 4th. The 3-hours averaged 4,868,000 viewers, around 400,000 more than the week before, and around 150,000 more than the post-Rumble show. WWE will probably put the ratings spike down to Batista. I’d rather put it down to the best Raw ending in recent memory with Daniel Bryan and the Wyatts the week before.
- WWE signs new TV deals – most notably for me with Sky TV in the UK, but also in Thailand. The deal with Sky will keep WWE programming on Sky Sports through to 2019, and is reportedly at least 3-times as much as the previous contract was worth.
- Contract offered to Irish star – that star being Prince Devitt. I’ve heard a lot of hype about him, but to be honest I don’t know all that much about him. What I’ve been hearing is that he’s one of the best independent talents in the world, so I would guess it’s a good move for all parties concerned, if Devitt accepts.
In The Industry
- Magnus becomes World Champion – The first TNA Champion of the post-AJ Styles era, and the first British World Champion. Maybe I’m being biased because I’m British. And I know that technically, he beat Jeff Hardy for it in December last year. But he beat AJ Styles to unify the belts in January this year. And even though that was taped last year, it wasn’t broadcast until 2014. So yeah, it counts.
- Matt Morgan retires – the former WWE and TNA star has decided to retire from professional wrestling. This surprised me, since he was a free agent after leaving TNA, and he has the size that Vince loves. I honestly thought he would be back in the WWE before long, but it’s not gonna happen now.
- Jeff Jarrett leaves TNA, looks to be starting up his own wrestling promotion – this could be good news for the entire industry. At this point details are very thin on the ground, but this is the guy who built TNA up to the point where they were easily the second best promotion in the world. Here’s hoping he can do the same again, since competition can only make the product better.
- WWE didn’t sign Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards or AJ Styles – and all three are at least kind of surprising. Richards and Edwards made one appearance as a team on NXT, but weren’t signed to a full time contract. AJ is maybe just one or two years older than the WWE would like, and is on the small side, but the crowds at this time of the year would pop big for him, and he is more than good enough. It looks like he’s going back to Ring of Honor on a permanent basis, so good luck to him. Richards and Edwards have now signed for TNA, but I can’t help feeling that having the three of them and not snapping them up was a big missed opportunity for the WWE.
And that’s the news! This column is absolutely a work in progress, so any tips would be greatly appreciated. I should probably also point out in case people think I’m making any of this up that I get my news from Rajah.com, and since I only really came up with the idea of this column towards the end of January I went through every headline from the month to get the stories you see here. Everything that you read in this article will likely come from there.
It’s been a surprisingly busy week on the posts front, with 3 in the last 7 days. It’s partially just because it’s the start of Wrestlemania season, but it’s also partially because I’m making more of an effort to get content up here on a regular basis. With that in mind, please spread the word about this blog, more views encourages more writing. And even if it is a tad generic, feel free to contribute to the blog by either commenting below, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.