Is Wrestlemania Weekend Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Hey folks, before we get started, I’m pleased to announce that my books are now available on Kobo! All my bestsellers including 2001: The Year Professional Wrestling Died, The Mania Of Hulk Hogan: The Very Worst Of The Immortal One, and The Worst Of WCW: Volumes 1 & 2 are now available for purchase to read on your Kobo eReader! And it’s not just my wrestling titles: my line of Star Wars books that includes Darth Jar Jar (And Other Surprisingly Plausible Star Wars Theories) and the Unsolved Mysteries Of Star Wars series are also on Kobo now. You can access my entire Kobo catalog by clicking here.


And now that we’ve paid the bills, let’s get to this week’s newsletter, where I’ll share my thoughts on the monster marathon session that was…

To say that Wrestlemania weekend has become an annual, nonstop marathon of wrestling events revolving around the biggest show of the year would be an understatement. For over a decade, Wrestlemania has attracted a swarm of independent companies who want to grab a piece of the fanbase that travels into town from all over the world. Ring of Honor were the pioneers, but before you know it, EVOLVE, CZW, 5 Dollar Wrestling, Highspots, PWS, and even Kaiju Big Battel (if you don’t know what that is, don’t ask) were piggybacking off of Wrestlemania to draw some of their biggest crowds of the year.

Once the WWE Network launched three years ago, WWE began to eat up more of the pie they were cooking by taking their own weekend’s worth of festivities (which they themselves had been doing for years) and turning them into Network programming. WWE had already been airing a portion of the annual Hall of Fame ceremony on the US Network, but are now able to air the event in its entirety on the Network.

Before long, NXT was added to the mix by scheduling NXT Takeover events for the night before Wrestlemania. Along with the Summerslam weekend edition of Takeover, this has now become one of NXT’s two biggest shows of the year. Wrestlemania weekend Takeover events now feature the blowoffs to long-running feuds, and frequently the final NXT appearances of stars who are about to get called up to the main roster to shake things up in the weeks after Wrestlemania.

On top of all that, even Wrestlemania’s PRESHOW has now become almost an entire event in its own right. Instead of the traditional 30 to 60 minute talking head discussions, the Wrestlemania preshow has now morphed into a two hour event featuring not only the panel discussions, but important matches that didn’t make Wrestlemania itself. This year’s preshow included the Cruiserweight Title match between Neville and Austin Aries, the Intercontinental Title match between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin, and the 4th Annual Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Even with those three matches squeezed out to the preshow, Wrestlemania 33 itself was an over five hour long monster. It began with AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon at 7 PM Eastern, and didn’t conclude until the Undertaker left his hat, coat, and gloves in the ring before walking to the back at just shy of 12:15 AM. WWE wants to hoard as much of the paying fan’s attention as they can that weekend, and rightfully so: they’re the ones drawing everyone into town. But this year, they may have finally overstuffed the fans with just way too much content.

One of the complaints about the 2007-08 period of Ring of Honor was that the shows just ran too long. The action was great, and ROH shows were typically well-booked, but they were hitting so hard for so long that the fans were burnt out before the main event even got in the ring. This is a different time and a different company, but I have to be honest, I did so much coverage over Wrestlemania weekend that I was burnt out before Wrestlemania 33 proper even began.

I can’t recall if I mentioned this last week or not, but let me quickly recap how much coverage I did for PWInsider over Wrestlemania weekend. First, I spent four hours doing coverage of the Hall of Fame, which was essentially a recap of four straight hours of promos. Anyone who has ever done coverage of a wrestling show knows the promos are the most grueling part because, unlike miscellaneous armdrags and reversals, you have to capture every bit of what you’re watching.

Then on Saturday, I covered NXT Takeover: Orlando which, including the preshow, ran three hours. Sunday morning, I spent two hours doing an NXT Takeover postgame show that also included Hall of Fame talk. The Wrestlemania Kickoff Show began at 5 and ran until 7, then Wrestlemania ran from 7 until 12:15, and THEN I spent two hours doing the Wrestlemania postgame show. Even if you leave out the two hours I spent covering Impact on Thursday night, this added up to a whopping 18 hours of writing and talking about wrestling.

That’s a lot, but it wasn’t just because I was doing live coverage. I spoke to several people who said they got burnt out just WATCHING everything. Wrestlemania in particular went way, WAY too long at seven solid hours of WWE programming (if you include the Kickoff Show). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fault WWE in the slightest for wanting to give fans the most content they can, but this year’s festivities got more than a little ridiculous.

I think the weekend would have been a lot more palatable if the did something to break Wrestlemania up, and to that end I have an idea I’ve thrown out there before that I’ll mention again. Since WWE has so many titles now between all their different brands, and since “lesser” champions like the Intercontinental or tag champs have often been pushed off of Wrestlemania to give the “marquee” matches more time, how about pulling all the matches from the Kickoff Show entirely, and running a “Champions’ Showcase” type event at some other point during the weekend?

The Champions’ Showcase could feature defenses of the Intercontinental, United States, Raw and Smackdown Tag Team, Cruiserweight, and UK Titles, and then the Andre battle royal could be the main event. By creating an entire event specifically for the champions, you won’t make titles seem expendable by not having them defended on Wrestlemania. It’ll also negate the stigma of wrestlers seeming like they were “demoted” to the Kickoff Show. Make this and Takeover a Saturday double header, and give it about 3-4 hours between shows to give the fans a chance to catch their breath.

By doing this, you can have Wrestlemania JUST be about the four “major” title (World, Universal, Raw & Smackdown Women’s) defenses, and also the marquee matches like Roman Reigns vs Undertaker and Cena/Nikki vs Miz/Maryse. This way, you can keep the show down to a manageable length, everyone gets something important to do over Wrestlemania weekend, and nobody looks like they’re being buried. Plus, the fans are still awake when the main event of Wrestlemania is headed to the ring. Everybody wins.

Whether WWE goes that route or not, the bottom line is that Wrestlemania was a grueling marathon to try and get through, and they need to change it up in order to not turn fans off from wanting to watch the whole thing. And hey, the idea is to enjoy the show, not treat it like a chore, right?

Thank You Taker

Hey folks, welcome to this week’s edition of the STUpid Thoughts Newsletter! Sorry it’s a couple of days late, but after spending about a total of 22 hours between Thursday evening and the wee hours of Monday morning covering the events of Wrestlemania weekend, I needed a couple of days of recovery time. But we’re here, and we have a really big story coming out of Wrestlemania, so let’s dive right in and talk about the Undertaker’s retirement.

This past Sunday, Roman Reigns defeated the Undertaker in the main event of Wrestlemania 33, handing the Undertaker only his second ever Wrestlemania loss. After Roman left the ring, the Undertaker stood up, the lights went out, and he was dressed back in his full Undertaker garb when they came back up. The Undertaker proceeded to remove his gloves, coat, and hat, and leave them in a neat pile in the middle of the ring. The fans, realizing what they were watching, chanted “Thank you Taker” at him as he looked around to soak it all in one final time, then walked up the ramp and pumped his fist in the air as the lights went out once again to close the show.

The Undertaker’s retirement didn’t come as any big shock to anyone who had been following the business for the last few years. It’s no secret that he had accumulated a lot of injuries over the course of his career, limiting him to the point that he had been working part time since 2004, and for many of those years would only return for Wrestlemania. Especially over the last few years, the Undertaker was visibly diminished in terms of what he could physically do, and at the age of 52, most fans knew the end of his career was rapidly approaching.

Still, much like the passing of an elderly relative, the acceptance of that fact didn’t do much to cushion the shock and sense of loss when it finally happened. The importance that the Undertaker had to WWE over his 26 years with the company cannot be understated. Aside from the legendary Wrestlemania undefeated streak that itself lasted over 20 years, the Undertaker is a multi-time WWE Champion, multi-time Wrestlemania main eventer, Royal Rumble winner, and continuously worked for them as an active performer longer than any other wrestler in company history.

The Undertaker was also the most consistently popular, selling millions and millions of dollars of merchandise over the years. The Wrestlemania Streak alone became a draw that was seen by many as even more prestigious than the WWE Title. He continually reinvanted himself over the years, ensuring that the character never became predictable or stale. And most of all, he was a loyal soldier who recognized what WWE had provided him with, and physically pushed himself beyond boundaries most others wouldn’t, just to give back to the company that brought him his fame and fortune.

And this is just my own personal opinion, but at this point I don’t see how anyone could argue that the Undertaker hasn’t surpassed Andre the Giant as the greatest wrestling attraction of all time. Aside from the fact that the TV expansion, and especially the WWE Network, meant that more fans got to see Undertaker during his prime years, he also had far more longevity, and was able to continue performing at a high level until much later in his career.

Also unlike Andre, the Undertaker worked with nearly every single major star the business has had for the last 40 years: Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Steve Austin, the Rock, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista, Vader, Yokozuna, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Owen Hart, Big Show, Eddy Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Diamond Dallas Page, Jake Roberts, Macho Man Randy Savage, the Ultimate Warrior, Kane, Edge, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar, Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, and on and on and on.

The idea of the Undertaker, as limited as his schedule has been in recent years, finally calling it quits is hard to wrap my mind around. Much like the recently-departed relative not being at the house anymore, it’s going to take some time to get used to the idea that there won’t be an Undertaker match at Wrestlemania ever again. I hate to keep using that analogy, but to many wrestling fans, it’s just as surreal for them to face the fact that, and as much as we wish otherwise, this character who has never not been a part of most wrestling fans’ lives is gone forever.

All that being said, the Undertaker has absolutely earned the peace and quiet of retirement. Whether he was just an annual wrestling attraction, a key part of the Attitude Era, or one of the only wrestlers worth watching during the mid-90s, the Undertaker has given at least as much, possibly more, than any other wrestler who ever worked for WWE. Thank you Taker, and enjoy your retirement: you’ve earned it.

How Many Rumble Winners Have REALLY Gone On To Main Event Wrestlemania

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Every year, WWE proudly proclaims how the winner of the Royal Rumble match will go on to headline Wrestlemania, but that isn’t always the case. There have been many years when the Rumble winner gets their title shot, but the match is nowhere near the main event of the show, and in some cases they never end up getting the title shot at all. So how accurate is WWE’s claim of the Rumble winner headlining Wrestlemania? Let’s start in 1993 (the first year the Rumble winner was officially granted the title match) and go year-by-year to see.

1993: Yokozuna

Yokozuna had debuted in the WWF in late 1992, crushed everyone in his path, and then easily won the Royal Rumble by literally bench pressing the Macho Man over the top rope from a prone position. Yokozuna was not only in the scheduled main event of Wrestlemania 9, defeating Bret Hart for the WWF Title, but also an impromptu main event where he accepted and lost a title defense to Hulk Hogan.

1994: Bret “Hitman” Hart & Lex Luger

Lex Luger had been after WWF Champion Yokozuna for months, and even though he defeated him in their title match at Summerslam, it was by countout. Since the contract for the match stated that Luger would only get one title shot, the only way he could circumvent that would be by winning the Royal Rumble. However, Luger wasn’t getting over quite as WWE would have liked, so they booked a tie finish where Luger and Bret went over the top rope at the same time. Both men were granted title shots at Wrestlemania 10: Lex Luger went first and lost to Yokozuna by DQ, but then Bret closed the show by avenging his loss the previous year and pinning Yokozuna to win the title back.

1995: Shawn Michaels

Long considered too “small” to be a legitimate main eventer, Shawn Michaels became the first man to go coast-to-coast in the Rumble match. He entered at #1 and was the last man standing, exploiting the “both feet must touch the ground” rule to stay alive at the end and eliminate the British Bulldog. Shawn eanred a title shot against his former bodyguard Diesel, but did not main event Wrestlemania 11: that honor went to Bam Bam Bigelow and Lawrence Taylor.

1996: Shawn Michaels

Shawn made it two in a row in 1996, superkicking Diesel over the top rope to become only the second two-time Rumble winner (after Hulk Hogan). This time he was undisputably the headliner, as the entire build to his 60 minute Ironman Match with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 12 centered around Shawn trying to achieve his boyhood dream. Shawn and Bret not only main evented Wrestlemania, but were given nearly half the show including entrances, introductions, the match itself, overtime, and Shawn’s postmatch celebration.

1997: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Bret Hart had been having a rough go since returning to the WWF in late 1996, but saw a second Royal Rumble win as his way of getting his quest for a fourth WWF Title back on track. He actually eliminated Austin, but the referees were breaking up a fight on the other side of the ring and didn’t see it, so when Bret thought he was the last man standing, Austin snuck in from behind and eliminated him to steal the win for himself. Through a complex series of events I don’t have time to recap here, neither Bret nor Austin wound up challenging for the title at Wrestlemania 13, they fought in the legendary I Quit match instead while Sycho Sid and the Undertaker battled for the title in the main event.

1998: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

This time around there was no controversy, and no doubt who was winning the Rumble. Despite everyone in the match stopping to grab him as soon as he got in the ring, Austin fought through the numbers, last eliminating the Rock to win his second straight Royal Rumble. This was well into the build to the beginning of the Austin Era, and everyone knew Shawn Michaels was just holding the title until Austin took it from him. Austin did just that in the main event of Wrestlemania 14, hitting the Stunner and covering while Mike Tyson counted 3.

1999: Vince McMahon

Yes, Vince McMahon techincally won the Royal Rumble, and yes, he technically went coast-to-coast as Michaels did, but he spent most of the match sitting at ringside waiting for someone to eliminate Steve Austin. When nobody did and he had no other choice, he went back in the ring and got his ass kicked until the Rock came out and distracted Austin long enough for McMahon to sneak up behind and toss him. McMahon never intended to challenge for the title at Wrestlemania 15, and voluntarily gave up his title shot the next night on Raw.

2000: The Rock

With Steve Austin on the shelf, there were really only two people in this match who had a shot at winning: the Rock and the Big Show. Rock was awarded the win, but the finish was in dispute and led to another complicated series of events that ended with not only Rock and Big Show, but also Mick Foley (who retired a month earlier) challenging Triple H in a four way elimination match in the main event of Wrestlemania 2000.

2001: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Austin returned from a full year on the shelf after neck surgery to become the first (and currently only) three-time Royal Rumble winner. He went on to main event Wrestlemania X-7, probably the best Wrestlemania ever, by challenging the Rock for the WWF Title. Wrestlemania X-7 was the WWF’s victory celebration over WCW and ECW, and they immediately gave the fans who had supported them all that time the finger by turning Austin heel in his home state of Texas and aligning him with Vince McMahon.

2002: Triple H

Speaking of coming back from injuries, Triple H had blown out one of his quad muscles about a month after Wrestlemania X-7 and spent a year on the mend. He returned in time to enter the Royal Rumble, but it was just a formality: he easily won, setting up a title match with Chris Jericho in the main event of Wrestlemania X-8. Triple H had beaten Jericho a million times before the injury, and this time he close X-8 with another win that also brought him the WWF Title.

2003: Brock Lesnar

Again, no real shocker here: Lesnar had been screwed out of the WWF Title by Paul Heyman at Survivor Series 2002, and when Kurt Angle beat Show a month later, we had a pretty good idea the main event of Wrestlemania 19 would be a title match between the two former amateur wrestling greats. Lesnar cakewalked through the Rumble, then indeed faced Angle in the main event of Wrestlemania 19, nearly breaking his neck with a blown shooting star press en route to his second WWE Title.

2004: Chris Benoit

Back before he became well-known for other things, Benoit was easily the best wrestler in the world, and he had a legion of diehard fans who were dying to see him win a World Title. It didn’t happen in WCW, and looked like it would never happen in WWE either, but 2004 became the year the fans who had supported him for all that time would finally get their moment. Benoit came in at #1 and lasted the entire match, last eliminating the Big Show to win and (at the time) set the longevity record in the Rumble as well. He went on to defeat Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match in the main event of Wrestlemania 20, which closed with Benoit and his best friend Eddy Guerrero, both champions, celebrating in the ring as the show came to a close.

2005: Batista

WWE changed directions pretty dramatically in the lead up to this Rumble, because they originally had planned on a Triple H vs Randy Orton main event for Wrestlemania 21, but put the brakes on that idea once they heard the crowd reactions Batista was getting. Batista was routinely one of the most over guys on the show, so WWE called an audible, put Orton on the back burner, and had Batista win the Royal Rumble. To Triple H’s dismay, his former friend Batista defeated him in the main event of Wrestlemania 21 to claim the first of what would be many World Titles.

2006: Rey Mysterio

Rey Mysterio would normally have NEVER even been in the conversation of winning this match, and the only reason he was is because his friend Eddy Guerrero had passed away, leading to Rey getting a tribute push in Eddy’s name. It was in bad taste, Rey was not made for that level of competition, but nonetheless they had Rey win the Rumble and then go on to win the World Title from Randy Orton in a midcard match halfway through Wrestlemania 22.

2007: The Undertaker

Often considered a favorite in any Royal Rumble match he participated in, the Undertaker somehow never managed to win one until 2007. He earned a title match with World Champion Batista at Wrestlemania 23, and while it was an excellent match (rpobably one of Batista’s best), it went on in the middle of the show. John Cena’s successful WWE Title defense against Shawn Michaels went on to main event.

2008: John Cena

Cena made a surprise return from injury to win the Royal Rumble in 2008, but chose to cash in his title shot against Randy Orton a month early at No Way Out. He didn’t win, but even though he technically burned up his “official” title shot, he did wind up challenging Orton at Wrestlemania 24 in a triple threat match that also included the Big Show. Whether it would have counted or not is moot, because Edge and the Undertaker ended up getting the main event nod that year.

2009: Randy Orton

Orton finally got his Wrestlemania title match with Triple H four years after it was originally supposed to happen when he won the 2009 Royal Rumble. This was during the stupid “Orton is terrorizing Triple H’s family” storyline, and it led to a terrible main event at Wrestlemania 25 where Triple H defeated Orton to retain.

2010: Edge

Much like Cena had in 2008, Edge made a surprise return from injury at the 2010 Royal Rumble, and in fact eliminated Cena to win the match and earn a title shot at Wrestlemania. He faced his former tag team partner Chris Jericho for the World Title at Wrestlemania 26, and was defeated in what ended up being a midcard match. To be fair, Shawn Michaels vs the Undertaker in the Streak vs Career match closed the show, and nothing was going to top that, but still no point for extenuating circumstances.

2011: Alberto Del Rio

Billed as the biggest Royal Rumble in history, the 2011 Rumble match was the first and only one to include 40 participants instead of the usual 30. Alberto Del Rio was the last man left standing after that mess, but while he earned the Wrestlemania title shot, he not only didn’t main event Wrestlemania 27, his World Title match with Edge actually OPENED the show. Compounding this disgrace was the fact that Alberto lost, and since Edge retired immediately after this match, he never even got another chance to try and beat him.

2012: Sheamus

We were back to 30 participants when Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble, and much like Alberto, he was jerking the curtain when he got his title shot at Wrestlemania 28. Unlike Del Rio, Sheamus emerged victorious in an 18 second squash win over World Champion Daniel Bryan. The Rock went on to defeat John Cena in the main event later that night.

2013: John Cena

The Rumble winner was back in the main event at Wrestlemania 29, as John Cena took home his second Royal Rumble victory to set up a rematch with the Rock, this time for the WWE Title. Even though this match would have main evented whether it was for the title or not, it counts, as Cena avenged his loss the year before by hitting an AA and pinning Rock to strap that title around his waist one more time.

2014: Batista

Batista returned to WWE for the first time in several years in late 2013, and the plan all along was to have him win the Royal Rumble and go on to challenge Randy Orton for the WWE Title. That part went as planned, but the part nobody (in WWE management) expected was the H-U-G-E wave of fan support that Daniel Bryan would ride into Wrestlemania. The fans essentially forced WWE to insert him into the main event, where he tapped Batista out to win the WWE Title. So technically the Rumble winner did close Wrestlemania 30, but with an asterisk.

2015: Roman Reigns

Everyone knew Roman Reigns was winning the Royal Rumble in 2015 (though some hoped the returning Daniel Bryan would), and everyone knew he was going on to challenge Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 31, and everyone was pretty sure he was going to beat Brock to take the title. Well, the first two went down that way, but definitely not the third, because Seth Rollins cashed in Money In The Bank, curb stomped Roman, and pinned him to steal the WWE Title out from under his nose. So the Rumble winner did main event, but again with an asterisk.

2016: Triple H

This Rumble actually was for the WWE Title itself, not a Wrestlemania title shot, so even though Triple H did end up defending (and losing) the title against Roman Reigns in the main event of Wrestlemania 32, we’re going to throw this one out due to the circumstances.

2017: Randy Orton

Well, technically Orton gave up his title shot, then had to defeat AJ Styles to “re-qualify” for the Wrestlemania title shot, but I don’t think it’s really going to matter since I think we all know what’s going to end up closing Wrestlemania 33:

So our final grand total: of the 25 Royal Rumbles held since the Wrestlemania title shot stipulation was added in 1993, nine just straight up didn’t main event Wrestlemania, leaving us with 16. We’re also throwing out Triple H’s win in 2016, so we’re down to 15. If we work under the fairly safe assumption that Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt isn’t closing this year’s show, we’re down to 14. Of those, six more Rumble winners got the Wrestlemania main event, but under wacky circumstances that resulted in additional people being added to the title picture at that year’s Wrestlemania.

This leaves us with only eight Royal Rumble winners, about 32%, going on to a straightforward, one-on-one title shot in the main event of Wrestlemania. Not quite the odds that WWE’s hype machine would have us believe, are they?

Goldberg vs Lesnar At Wrestlemania: An All-Around Bad Idea

y folks, welcome to this week’s edition of the STUpid Thoughts Newsletter! Wrestlemania is fast approaching, and I have to say, it’s been a long time since they’ve presented a Wrestlemania card I have this little interest in. Most of the reason I feel this way has to do with what’s looking to be the main event of the show, as Bill Goldberg will defend the Universal Title against Brock Lesnar.

There are so many things wrong with this match that it’s hard to know where to begin. For one, Kevin Owens has done a great job of carrying Raw since winning the title, but since he isn’t “big name” enough, he’s made to suffer the usual “spear & jackhammer” loss to a guy who hasn’t spent more than a few minutes in the ring in the last 13 years.

That brings me to the second problem, which is that we’re not even sure that Goldberg CAN go more than a couple of minutes. He was never that great a wrestler to begin with, but now he’s over 50, rusty, and more injury-prone due to age. I think his quick matches, while a nostalgia act, covers for the same thing now that it did in 1998: the guy is extremely limited in the ring.

This brings us to Brock Lesnar, who is exactly the guy you DON’T want to put in the ring with an injury-prone guy in his 50s. His history of accidentally hurting guys is legendary (see Orton, Randy and Punk, CM), so the short matches might be protecting Goldberg in other ways.

But even more than that, Brock Lesnar spent YEARS beating everyone he got thrown in the ring with. He ended the Streak. He cakewalked over John Cena to the WWE World Title. And it hasn’t even been close. Most of his matches have been so one-sided that it was always more a question of when he would win and not if.

At least, that was until Goldberg dusted him in 80 seconds at Survivor Series. Now we have a mostly retired guy who CRUSHED the unbeatable monster, then eliminated the same guy from the Royal Rumble in mere seconds before spearing everyone else in the ring into next week. So right out of the gate, it makes everyone else look like chumps because he destroyed the guy who destroyed all of them, then destroyed them as well.

That brings us to Wrestlemania, where all sane thinking says this is where Lesnar finally beats Goldberg and takes the Universal Title. Then again, sane thinking says Lesnar never should have lost to Goldberg to begin with, but I digress. First of all, I’m not convinced that this won’t be another extremely quick match, whoever ends up winning.

But let’s say that Lesnar does win: what did he really accomplish? Sure, he finally gets his win over Goldberg, but that’s after losing to him twice and getting brushed out of the Rumble by him. At this point Goldberg is clearly establised as the better man, so even if Lesnar wins, it’s the 10th in the “Goldberg will win 9 out of 10 times” line. It’ll be even worse if he has to cheat his ass off to beat him.

And who does any of this help? Goldberg is probably going back into retirement after Wrestlemania, Lesnar will have the title and will again be a part time champion, and nobody who is on the road for WWE full time will have gotten ANYTHING out of this. This is why WWE has to bring back old guys for Wrestlemania each year, none of this does anything to build the next generation of stars, and they will be screwed when there’s nobody left from the Monday Night Wars they can bring in.

As for Kevin Owens, he’s going to be getting the match with Chris Jericho that we all wanted to see, but it’ll be for the US Title instead of the Universal Title. Knowing WWE, it will also probably open the show. I guess this is what you call paying dues?

Are The Hardys BROKEN No More?

Hey folks, welcome to this week’s edition of the STUpid Thoughts Newsletter! The big story coming out of last week is the ongoing saga of Matt & Jeff Hardy. They left TNA, they popped up in ROH, and then Impact Wrestling sent out cease and desist letters to everyone they could think of to try and claim ownership of their gimmick. Lots of moving parts here, so let’s follow the bouncing ball:

-Two weeks ago, both Matt and Jeff Hardy’s contracts ran out as Impact Wrestling was preparing to begin their latest round of TV tapings. According to a series of (very colorfully worded) Twitter posts by Matt’s wife Reby, the contracts were not only not to the Hardys’ liking, but also delivered too close to the beginning of the tapings to allow for any meaningful dialogue.

The Hardys opted not to sign the contracts, but offered to come to the Impact tapings in Orlando and drop the World Tag Team Title before leaving. Impact Wrestling declined, requested that the belts be returned, and sent the Hardys on their way. Since they were now free and clear from their Impact Wrestling obligations…

-The Hardys made a surprise appearance that weekend at ROH’s Manhattan Mayhem event and defeated the Young Bucks for the ROH World Tag Team Title. They were quickly added to this past weekend’s 15th Anniversary Show in Las Vegas, defending the title against the Bucks and Roppongi Vice in a three way Las Vegas Streetfight. However, they didn’t make use of the BROKEN gimmick on the show because…

-In the day or so prior to the ROH 15th Anniversary Show, Impact Wrestling (who had been claiming ownership of the BROKEN gimmick since the Hardys left) sent cease and desist letters to not just Matt and Jeff Hardy, but also to Senor Benjamin (aka Reby’s father, whom she says was never paid to appear for TNA), Ring Of Honor, and all the providers who were carrying the ROH 15th Anniversary Show. As a result of those letters…

-The Dish Network removed the ROH show from their lineup the day of the event, despite advertising it up until only hours before the show was scheduled to begin. The Hardys did appear as scheduled, though ROH made the call to avoid an issue and not use the BROKEN gimmick that night. Other than Matt’s physical appearance and a few mannerisms, they were back to being the “regular” Hardys for the evening.

For all we know, Impact Wrestling may very well have a legal claim to the BROKEN gimmick if the language in the contracts that Matt and Jeff signed supports that. They also may not, and we can’t know that without seeing the contracts (which we probably aren’t going to).

That said, having a legal right to do something doesn’t always make it the right thing to do. The Hardys created a gimmick that became key to keeping TNA afloat last year at a time when they were having major money issues and Billy Corgan was suing Dixie Carter over a controlling ownership stake in the company. There may not have been a TNA for Anthem to buy if it weren’t for the Hardys, and the least they could do, even just from the perspective of not wanting to burn a bridge with two really popular stars they may want to do business with in the future, would be to let them take the gimmick with them.

Now Impact Wrestling is so intent on not letting the Hardys use the BROKEN gimmick outside of their auspices that they’re threatening legal action against anyone who may be involved with giving it another platform, including ROH and its distribution partners. That may end up backfiring on Impact Wrestling and land them in a fight they’ll wish they didn’t pick.

I’m no lawyer, but by causing Dish Network to drop the ROH PPV over the cease and desist letter, then Impact Wrestling just potentially cost ROH revenue because of something they were worried that they *MIGHT* do with a gimmick that Impact Wrestling *MIGHT* own. I’d be shocked if the folks at ROH and Sinclair weren’t already talking the situation over with their lawyers, and Anthem better hope they don’t end up getting sued over this. Sinclair has a HELL of a lot more resources and legal firepower than they do, and this isn’t a fight Anthem needs when they were just laying people off last week.

And all this for what? Matt and Jeff ARE the BROKEN gimmick, it’s not something Impact Wrestling could give to anyone else and expect it to work. All the stuff that was filmed in those vignettes at the Hardy Compound really were on the property of Matt & Jeff Hardy, so it’s also not likely that the family would give them access to do more filming there. There is literally no benefit to Impact Wrestling to claim ownership of the gimmick if they aren’t going to have the Hardys there to run with it.

This is just my own opinion, but it seems to me like this is all just a case of Impact Wrestling and Anthem Media holding the Hardys’ gimmick hostage over sour grapes. Great move for a company with new ownership that was just trying to rebuild its connection with all the fans who have given up on them over the years. Well, if they really wanted to find a way to endear themselves to all those fans they’re trying to win back, I think it’s probably safe to say this wasn’t a good start.