This Week in ‘E – Release of The Dragon

Columns, Features

We were just witness to one of the biggest weeks in recent wrestling history. Come on in to read all about it.

Opening Witty Banter
So did anything happen in the pro wrestling world this week? I mean what a week. This is one of those weeks that even if I were on vacation or away from a computer I would make sure to crank out a column this week. Between the craziest ending to RAW in years and the sudden release of everyone’s favorite wrestler, TNA got in the act with Dixie Carter’s insane tweets, a decent pay per view, the arrival of Tommy Dreamer and more shenanigans involving Jeff Hardy’s legal proceedings. Yours truly was even cited as a source during all the Hardy stuff, which is just silly.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
On this past week’s RAW from Miami, Florida, the Rookies from NXT, season 1 made a monstrous impact on the show and on World Wrestling Entertainment in general.

They interrupted the main event between WWE Champion John Cena and CM Punk and laid waste to Punk, Luke Gallows, all the ringside personnel, the entire ringside area and ring itself and most notably John Cena himself.

According to PWInsider, word is that very few people, including those at ringside, were clued into the angle. The crew was told that Wade Barrett would come out to ringside at the end of the show to confront Cena, and that was about it. It has also been said that they did not know that the NXT crew would be joining him or that they would destroy the set as they did. They whole idea was to make the ringside crew react in a genuine way. By all reports, creative was very happy with how the angle played out.

Since it’s been almost a week since it happened I’m the last to comment and report on it so I don’t need to go into details but I wanted to give my thoughts on the situation. These comments were originally written on Tuesday night, 24 hours after the chaos unfolded.

These wild events capped off an incredibly lackluster 3 hour episode of a “Viewers Choice” themed RAW, and instantly turned it into one of Monday Night RAW’s most memorable episodes perhaps ever. Never on WWE’s flagship program has their been such a complete dismantling of the show’s arena and set. One would have to look back to the carnage of the new World order back in the late ‘90s of World Championship Wrestling or action from the original Extreme Championship Wrestling in the mid ‘90s to see anything that would remotely compare.

The event was so purely unexpected in that none of the eight men involved in the beat down on Cena were major stars and had in fact spent the better part of the past four months “earning” their way into WWE via the NXT competition. Despite all eight men having established varying personalities, rivalries and fleeting alliances in the past, they came together as a well-oiled, yet vicious, machine bent on causing upheaval in WWE.

WWE had comfortably settled into a nice, safe TV-PG mantra of storytelling and this completely unexpected destruction of John Cena and everyone and everything else around made fans, viewers, pundits and the entire industry to stand up and take notice. It got fans, whether old and jaded or young and impressionable, talking about the show, which is all anyone can ask for. The term “NXT Rookies” became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter Monday night and certainly built valuable momentum for WWE.

For the first time a long time, as a fan I am genuinely excited to see what happens next. The season premiere of NXT season two was legitimate “must see TV,” and I am already incredibly excited for next week’s edition of Monday Night RAW. They have fans talking and wondering and attempting to guess the next step in the story. Whether WWE can continue this momentum and build a captivating storyline regarding this attack going forward into the summer still remains to be seen, but for right now they have hit on something that is magic.

Then on Friday night the wrestling world completely turned upside down when pro wrestling’s hero Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson was inexplicably given his walking papers from WWE. Thank god wrestling fans are nerds and were home on Friday night as the Internet exploded mere minutes after the news was announced. As I had to work the next morning I was also home like a good nerd and reported on things as they unfolded.

First was the standard “future endeavor” note on Then Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer reported that Bryan’s firing is a “work,” and actually just part of the storyline started last Monday. This would be the first time that the company has used their website to promote a “fake” firing in such a manner.

Bryan himself changed his Twitter account from the previously named “DanielBryanNXT” to “bryandanielson.” A recent tweet reads, “Just changed my twitter name to Bryan Danielson. The winds of change are stirring.” The phrase “the winds of change are stirring” was originally uttered by Wade Barrett early in the season and has become his rallying cry/motto since then.

However just minutes later Meltzer changed his tune and has reported that Bryan’s release was legitimate. According to Meltzer, word within WWE is that the firing was for real. Higher-ups in the company, including Donna Goldsmith, COO and Michelle Wilson, Executive Vice President, Marketing, were informed of his release before it was released to the public via the website. It would seem unorthodox to include corporate executives in a wrestling storyline such as this, but stranger things have happened.

Then later on Saturday more news came to life. According to Mike Johnson of PWInsider the real reason Bryan was fired from WWE was because of his actions during the NXT beat down from RAW. He apparently went above and beyond WWE’s current TV-PG mantra when he choked out RAW’s ring announcer Justin Roberts with his own tie on the ringside floor, while Roberts was shirtless. A company protocol was put in place after the Benoit tragedy in 2007 where on-air talents were no longer allowed to use ropes or objects to choke opponents.

The decision to release Bryan was apparently made on Friday and he was informed before it went public. According to pro wrestling insider Dave Meltzer, his firing was due to pressure from an outside source following Monday night’s angle. The choking of Roberts with his tie and spitting in John Cena’s face were the two major strikes against Bryan. Apparently Vince McMahon and the company had no choice.

Suspicion, and only suspicion says that either WWE’s recent association with Mattel in producing their new line of action figures and accessories influenced the decision. A top reigning toy company would not like to be associated with a live on-air choking from their cast of characters. The other thought is that Linda McMahon’s campaign for the a Senatorial seat in Connecticut also had an influence on the decision to release Bryan.

Bryan’s last match was this past week in FCW when he and Heath Slater battled The Miz and Christian in a tag team match that played off the invasion from Monday night.

While many fans, pundits and those in the industry hope this is still a “work,” more and more this is looking like it is a legitimate release of the most popular Rookies from NXT, season one and arguably the most famous pro wrestler on the independent circuit. If this is still a storyline then it is one of the greatest ever pulled off by World Wrestling Entertainment.

Okay I want to believe it is a work like so many others but with all the facts piling up I have to believe this is a shoot. I feel as if WWE is coming under a lot of fire these days and Bryan’s release was just some unfortunate fall out. Granted I do think its ridiculous that it’s okay to destroy someone with chairs or ring steps but choking someone with a tie is off limits. By most accounts Bryan was well liked backstage and this was just business. If they play this right they can bring Bryan in three or four months like they did after the Edge-Matt Hardy-Lita thing and play up the real life scenario into the storylines. I must say it does leave a bad taste in my mouth now for the NXT angle going forward. Regardless this week’s RAW is still “must see TV” just to simply see what happens next. This whole ordeal starting from RAW and leading to Bryan’s release has put the entire wrestling world on notice and reminded me again why it’s fun to be a wrestling fan.

Apparently Bryan’s former co-workers are pretty upset by the whole situation as well. Kevin Steen chimed in that he hopes its all a work while Bryan’s former boss Gape Sapolsky claims for sure it’s for real as there would be no reason to work a guy like Sapolsky. But Bryan has the most powerful an in the wrestling world behind him in WWE Champion and company golden boy John Cena. Cena took to the Twitter world and let the world know his thoughts. Here are Cena’s comments, with his 10 posts on the subject pasted in paragraph form to make them easier to read:

“I am very upset to hear about the release of Bryan Danielson. Social networks were formed so people would have a voice, and an opinion. I know you all have your own, theories and whatnot. I respect that. I have never asked any of you to feel a certain way about me. But Bryan left a lasting impression on the WWE universe in a very short time, and although it came at my expense, I agree with the majority of you who are caught off guard by this choice. I know I’m not exactly appreciated by all, nor do I care to be, but I believe what I believe. I would like Bryan to come back to the WWE. I would like to sign your petition to bring him back. I was taught to stand up for what I believe in. I tried and failed, so I could use some help. Tell me how to sign and I will. If for nothing else, to at least have a chance to have a match with him after what was done. I know that seems a bit more fair. Give me a chance to have a fair match with him, and give him yet another chance to prove that he does belong with us. Sorry for the long message, I know I am probably way out of line, I am sorry if I have offended anyone. But like me or not that is what Hustle. Loyalty. And most importantly Respect means to me. Enjoy game 5.”

People have hated on Cena for years for his Superman schtick, but I’ve always managed to remain a fan. By almost every account Cena is perhaps the most stand up guy in the wrestling business and his hero gimmick on TV is much like how he is in real life. This rant on Bryan’s release is just another affirmation to be a mark of his. I would have loved to be a fly in the room when he had a conversation with the higher ups about this. Here’s hoping this will get some of the smark hate off of his back. He’s a good man.

After all of that there was actual more honest-to-goodness news from the company sprinkled throughout the week. And speaking of Cena standing up for the little guy he also went to bat for Evan Bourne as well. He went to Vince McMahon and told him that WWE was dropping the ball by not pushing Bourne. McMahon evidently paid heed to Cena’s advice. Cena has a lot of pull with management but has not tended to take advantage of it very much at all, unlike Shawn Michaels in the 1990s. Another factor behind Bourne’s push is that WWE is trying to condition the audience to accept smaller guys as main-event stars.

It turns out Cena also can heal small children’s cancer with his tears and puppies look at Cena with adoration, rather than the other way around. How is this guy not friggin Superman on the big screen yet?

There was some good news however in that Survivor Series is back! The announcement of the event’s return was made last night to the audience at the Monday Night RAW television taping in Miami, Florida. Survivor Series 2010 will emanate from the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on November 19, 2010. Tickets went on sale Friday, June 11. Vince McMahon originally made the call to eliminate the pay per view from the 2010 event schedule when buyrates for the 2009 event were down 25% from the 2008 edition. The original announcement to eliminate the event was made during the conference call discussing first quarter financial information back in February. Apparently the main reason the show is coming back is due to the WrestleMania buyrate. When those numbers came in, WWE realized that the UFC PPV that was right before Survivor Series likely hurt the buyrate since WrestleMania’s buyrate was also hurt by a big UFC show being held right before it.

I am so excited for Survivor Series to be back on the roster. I mean in this era of gimmick pay per views why would they eliminate their original gimmick? One that still works if used properly.

Speaking of UFC, (I love these easy transitions), while Vince McMahon publicly has stated that the UFC is not competition, word backstage Monday was that no one was supposed to mention Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s association with the company. As for Rampage himself he Tweeted like a 12 year old girl after his WWE appearance:

“I was like a kid today, I have not been happy this past week, but meeting my child hood heros, and making new friends was all I needed I’m back. Everybody was cool! They r a bunch of big kids like me, doing what they love. Big Show was so funny! He showed me the choke slam. I want in!!! Haters will hate that’s all they will ever be, I’m gonna give them mo stuff 2 hate on! we all will stay n business! I’m lovin my REAL fans mo. John Cena was cool, but Ted is the man, I wanna do a movie wit him. Vince was cool as hell,Bret is my new home boy Piper so down to Earth. The King is laid back, Mean Gene was pimp, everybody was damn cool, I would like 2 go back as Rampage and do the power bomb then wow!. NY next!”

Rampage for WWE Champion! I mean him versus Cena would be like Rocky III all over again.

IP’s movie guy Travis Leamons gave some insight on the proposed Chris Jericho’s three-disc set. Wrestling-Edge says the release, with the working title “The Best at What I Do,” will reportedly follow the same format as Edge’s “Decade of Decadence” DVD – so short interview segments interspersed between matches. Matches from his runs in WCW, ECW and WWE will be featured as well as other footage.

Eh however they put it together it should be good. Wait and give him the documentary treatment once he leaves for good.

Former WWE talent Kizarny and Stacy “The Cat” Carter announced via Twitter that they were engaged.

Good Lord what a friggin random pairing. I hope they make it and have a nizzice lizzife. See what I did there?

SmackDown will no longer run in Oklahoma City on July 2 but will instead run on October 1 as a dual brand show. This show will double as the debut of SmackDown on the SyFy Network and will be live since it’s the week after a PPV. Tickets to the original 7/2 show will be honored on 10/1.

A live SmackDown to kick off the new era is a pretty cool way to do things.

Grizzly (Aurelian) Smith passed away June 12, 2010. He was 77.

Smith was pro wrestler from the late ’50s until the ‘70s. But throughout his career he is best known as the father of Aurelian Smith, Jr. (Jake “The Snake” Roberts), Michael Smith (Sam Houston) and Rockin’ Robin (Robin Smith), who was a former WWF Women’s Champion. As a wrestler, Smith was best known as one half of the Kentuckians with Luke Brown. The duo was quite successful through the ‘60s and early part of the ‘70s. He retired in the ‘70s and became a booker for Bill Watts and his Mid-South Wrestling. He also briefly worked in World Championship Wrestling as a road agent in the early ‘90s before he left the business.

Smith’s children from his first marriage included the world renowned Jake “The Snake” Roberts and his sister. Roberts’ sister was kidnapped and murdered by her husband’s ex-wife. Her husband at the time was 35 years older than her. He later had two more children, Michael and Robin, from another relationship after he and his wife separated. After retiring Smith moved to Louisiana, where he lived with Sam Houston. The pair lost most of their possessions in the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At the time of his death he lived in Amarillo, Texas.

Damn, ol’ Jake is gonna outlive us all isn’t he?

The Road to…Fatal 4 Way
WWE Championship
John Cena (c) v. Sheamus v. Randy Orton v. Edge

World Heavyweight Championship
Jack Swagger (c) v. Rey Mysterio v. CM Punk v. The Big Show

rumored matches:
Christian v. Dolph Ziggler
Kofi Kingston v. Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental Title
R-Truth v. Wade Barrett for the US Title
The Hart Dynasty v. The Usos for the Unified WWE Tag Titles
Daniel Bryan v. The Miz

Wrestler of the Week
Week of June 7 – 13: Daniel Bryan
I had all but written down the entry for Wade Barrett in this slot after his orchestration of the NXT beatdown on RAW. But then Friday night came around and the wrestling world went into a tizzy after the release of Daniel Bryan. There hasn’t been rampant Internet speculation like this since the wild summer of 2007 featuring Benoit, Who Killed Vince and Who is Vince’s Son. Without actually wrestling an actual match on TV (although to be fair he did wrestle in FCW later in the week) Daniel Bryan became the most talked about person in the entire wrestling industry. That’s more than enough to declare him the Wrestler of the Week. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last time he will be eligible for this award this year.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Mark Feuerstein, host of USA Network’s Royal Pains will guest host RAW tonight from Charlotte, North Carolina. In what is one of the more logical guest host choices of the RAW guest-hosting gimmick, Feuerstein provides a great bit of valuable synergy between USA Network programming. It is logical that USA Network should use RAW, one of their highest rated programs, to promote their other original programs. Feuerstein will return for the second season of Royal Pains on the USA Network, starting June 3. In another great bit of synergy, Feuerstein will star in the WWE Studios production of Knucklehead, also starring The Big Show. In the film, Feuerstein stars as a fight promoter looking for his new “ace” only to find an orphan (Big Show) to combat a rival promoter. The film is expected to release in theatres in either late 2010 or early 2011 before WrestleMania XVII. It is also expected that The Big Show will guest star in an episode of this upcoming season of Royal Pains to further the relationship between the two brands. As for the show, who the hell knows what is going to happen. There are only two matches booked for this weekends Fatal 4 Way pay per view and a whole mid-card full of guys with issues developing. But everyone will be tuning to see what the next step in this NXT invasion is all about and maybe, just maybe, having a Bryan Danielson sighting.

On Last Week’s Episode…
Chantel brings the love for SmackDown

Evans and Kelly provide the coverage for Superstars.

Ivan and Logan handle the season premiere of NXT.

(written just moments after RAW ended→) What an ending! That was the best episode end to RAW in years. In the past few years there have been memorable moments on RAW, thinking of Punk’s first World Title win and Bret Hart’s return, but WWE RAW hasn’t ended on a wild cliffhanger like that since…probably one of those McMahon gimmicks like the explosion or the first night of the ECW/WCW Alliance. I also love that the term “NXT Rookies” is a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Marshall, Will and Wheeler have all the analysis you need on the monumental RAW.

How They Rated
SmackDown! (5.28.10) – 1.6

Superstars (6.3.10) – .76

A.M. RAW (6.6.10) – .51

RAW (6.7.10) – 3.1

NXT (6.8.10) – 1.1

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Glazer brings the Backlash.

Iain details who’s who in the new season of NXT.

Logan continues his trip through the WWF, circa 1995.

IP Staff Roundtable Results for TNA Slammiversary
I know this is a WWE column but a staggering amount of the staff got together to give her thoughts on last night’s Slammiversary pay per view. Here are the results.

The co-Winners:
Mark Allen: 8-1 (197-115)
Ricardo Rochetti: 8-1 (8-1)

The rest:
Kevin Innarelli: 6-3 (13-11)
Ben Morse: 6-3 (32-20)
Kyle Sparks: 6-3 (6-3)
Chantel Taylor: 6-3 (6-3)
Matthew Michaels: 5-4 (196-178)
Raffi Shamir: 5-4 (146-125)
Widro: 5-4 (83-75)
Ben Ledoux: 4-5 (8-9)
Andrew Wheeler: 4-5 (193-117)

Mark has been a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over three years now, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” column into his current Monday powerhouse “This Week in ‘E.” He also contributes to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.

Mark was a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over four years, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” commentary-style column into the Monday morning powerhouse known as “This Week in ‘E.” He also contributes to other ventures, outside of IP, most notably as the National Pro Wrestling Examiner for and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.