This Week in ‘E – Sunny and Snooki Class up the Joint (Wrestlemania 27, Hall of Fame 2011 and WWE NXT)

The Original Diva joins the Hall of Fame, Snooki is coming to dumb down RAW and somehow NXT is back for another season.

Opening Witty Banter
“And other than be anything than the Enforcer in my best friend’s eyes, I’d rather walk away…”

Thank you to my colleagues and readers last week for the love and shout outs I got when I announced my self-imposed sabbatical. Knowing that there are people that actually read and enjoy my work truly it makes it all worth it. But I’m not done yet, as we’ve still got three weeks left on the Road to WrestleMania.

Let’s take some ‘E…

The News of the Week
I must say I’m enjoying the way the WrestleMania XXVII card has been taking shape. I am truly in awe of all of the big names the company can whip up to make the show feel special. From Austin to Rock to Trish to the returning Triple H and Undertaker to Michaels to the rumor of Nash teaming with Kane & Big Show to Booker T announcing the show to JBL and to The King finally getting his WrestleMania payday, it shows that WWE isn’t messing around this year. Really the only super legend they have at their disposal that they aren’t dragging out is Bret Hart, but he had his spotlight last year.

It looks as if they are doing at the expense of some of the younger stars as guys like Alex Riley and the Nexus kids are getting eliminated from TV just in time to not get a WrestleMania payday. Hey, it’s a tough economy, gotta make some cuts I guess.

In addition without a Money in the Bank match on the pay per view that clears out another 8 or 10 spots for the mid-card. But this is WrestleMania and it should be an honor to be on the card. Looking at the matches announced and those rumored to pad the card, I’m thinking it will be pretty good. It’s just that the pre-show battle royal will have more people than normal and probably some bigger names than expected.

I’m looking forward to seeing what these next three weeks of RAW bring.

…

Sunny has been announced as the fourth WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The 2011 Hall of Fame ceremony will be held on April 2, 2011 in the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, the night before WrestleMania XXVII. A video package announcing her induction aired last week’s WWE Monday Night RAW live from Dallas, Texas.

She joins Shawn Michaels, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and “Bullet” Bob Armstrong as previously announced inductees for the Class of 2011.

Tammy Lynn “Sunny” Sytch began her wrestling career in 1992 in Smokey Mountain Wrestling at the side of her boyfriend Chris Candido. The duo soon caught the eye of the World Wrestling Federation in late 1994, and they were signed to the company. After originally appearing as Tamara Murphy doing live event updates, she and Candido were repackaged into Sunny and Skip, the villainous fitness fanatics known The Body Donnas.

Once Zip (Tom Pritchard) joined the group and Sunny led them to the WWF World Tag Team Titles. By this point Sunny had clearly become bigger than the team and was the most downloaded woman on America Online for 1995. She then jumped from The Body Donnas to The Godwinns and then to The Smoking Gunns, leading all three teams to the Tag Team Championships.

She had become bigger than managing tag teams and was used in a variety of roles for the company, all while using her “assets” to help usher in the burgeoning “Attitude” era.

She was released from the company in the summer of ’98 due to backstage problems with fellow Diva Rena “Sable” Mero, a painkiller addiction and no showing several appearances.

From there she made a return to ECW and then joined Candido in the dying days of World Championship Wrestling. After WCW folded Tammy faded from the public spotlight while still making various appearances on the independent circuit and for wrestling websites.

Tragedy stuck when Candido died due to complications from a blood clot in his leg in April 2006. Despite the loss, Sunny continued working in the industry and made appearances for WWE at the RAW XV anniversary in December 2007 and again in the 25 Diva battle royal at WrestleMania XXV.

Sunny is often credited as the Original Diva in WWE, and the moniker is rightly deserved. She was the woman that transcended females in WWE from being just valets like Miss Elizabeth and rough and tumble wrestlers like Fabulous Moolah and Sherri Martel into a more complete package. From her looks, to her interview skills to her charisma and managerial skills, Sunny also changed what it meant to be a manager in the company as well. Alongside Sable and Marlena, she created the prototype of what the modern WWE Diva is all about. This induction is more than deserved.

WWE NXT, season 5, debuted on March 8 on wwe.com and featured a change in format from previous seasons. Rather than introduce new wrestlers from Florida Championship Wrestling, the company’s developmental territory, this season will feature six former NXT Rookies looking for “Redemption.” The winner of this season will get an automatic berth into season 6, so apparently this gimmick is not dying anytime soon.

Those announced as the returning Rookies for this season were Darren Young (season 1), Conor O’Brian (season 4), Lucky Cannon (season 2), Byron Saxton (season 4), Jacob Novak (season 4) and Titus O’Neil (season 2). Maryse also Matt Striker as co-host for the show while William Regal acted as color commentator along with Todd Grisham.

Their Pros were then announced with Chavo Guerrero for Young, Vladimir Kozlov for O’Brian, Tyson Kidd for Cannon, Yoshi Tatsu for Saxton, JTG for Novak and finally the diminutive Hornswoggle for O’Neil. Judging by the current undercard status of those Pros clearly it shows WWE current stock in the show but also gives valuable TV time to current stars that need it.

Rather than immunity points, throughout the season the Rookies can accumulate Redemption points, which can help them should they become in danger of elimination in the future.

In the opening match, Darren Young pinned Jacob Novak after hitting a rotating full nelson slam.

They then showed a personality profile on Conor O’Brian, who is thankfully dropping the “rat man” gimmick from season 4 and is planning on showing more of true personality. He immediately endeared himself to me more in this little segment than he did all last season.

In the Obstacle Course Challenge, Darren Young won the challenge with 23-second time. Cannon refused to compete in the challenge and instead used his time get over his new villainous persona of “Mr. Not So Nice Guy” and hit on Maryse.

They then showed a Profile on Byron Saxton, who reiterated this was his second chance and could be his last chance.

In the main event, Titus O’Neil pinned Lucky Cannon after Hornswoggle grabbed Cannon while he was on the top rope. O’Neil then hit Cannon with a huge Sky Hi sit out powerbomb for the pinfall.

Clearly the company took a cue from the current season of the CBS reality monster hit Survivor, which is currently running a Redemption Island gimmick itself, where losers of one challenge can come back to earn their way back on to the show.

Darren Young looked like a million bucks on the show. He has the most experienced Pro and the most WWE experience. Since NXT season 1 he was a part of the original Nexus, was part of the main event of SummerSlam ’10 and even mainted Monday Night RAW against John Cena. Since he was ex-communicated from The Nexus this past fall he was completely floundered on Superstars as a no gimmick, no personality low card hero and could have been released at any time and no one would have noticed. This NXT Redemption series more than likely saved his WWE career and he showed it in his ability out there tonight.

Despite the jobber status of all the Pros, the inexplicable move of Young from the main roster back to NXT, and the worst winning prize in history (the right to stay on NXT), I enjoyed the first episode and am clearly one of a small few who enjoyed the concept.

Speaking of NXT, here is some information on the cast list for the far superior Tough Enough, which premieres in just a few weeks on USA, the day after WrestleMania XXVII.

– Rima Fakih – The current Miss USA, a lifelong WWE fan, former Raw guest host.

– Matt Cross – Known on the indy scene as M-Dogg 20. Has wrestled extensively on the independents for Ring of Honor, CZW and worked the Hulk Hogan Australia tour several months back.

– Jason Watts – real name Erik Watts, a California independent wrestler nickamed “Big Nasty” who’s worked for NWA Hollywood among other groups.

– Juliet the Huntress – A blonde female who initially broke in working and training in Puerto Rico and of late had been working Chicago area independents.

– Christina Crawford – Alicia Fox’s sister, who was under a WWE developmental deal prior to filming the series.

– Bobby Robinson – Known as the “Golden Boy”, Robinson works independents in the Maine area, including NWA on Fire.

Okay so they released Crawford from the company but then brought her right back for this? And how and why did they pick M-Dogg but pass on Austin Aries and Joey Ryan?

Speaking of WrestleMania XXVII, all tickets currently available for the show are sold out. There will likely be more tickets made available as the production details are locked in and more seats cleared. There are still a very small amount of tickets left for the Hall of Fame ceremony.

That is great news for the company. No matter what that WrestleMania brand can still draw.

Speaking of new kids for the company, Lance Storm posted the following on his website:

“Very happy to report that the 4th Storm Wrestling Academy Student has been offered a WWE Developmental contract. This past weekend WWE held one of their FCW tryout camps and several SWA students attended. With these tryout camps the top prospect is offered a WWE developmental contract and for the second straight tryout camp in a row a Storm Wrestling Academy graduate took that top spot and earned the WWE contract.

The previous camp winner Mattias Wild has been in developmental for a couple months, and is competing under the name Mike Dalton. Out of the same camp but hired later, Brandon Barker, has just reported for duty in FCW and will no doubt be renamed soon. My third signee (name withheld until her work visa and all paper work is finalized) heads for her medicals and testing this week. The latest signee (another female student) will now have a lot of paper work as well as her medical testing to go through before she gets to report to work in Florida.

Congratulations to all four. I can’t wait until you take that final step to the big stage and debut on WWE television.”

Storm wouldn’t spill the beans on his female students, but SHIMMER certainly did in regards to one of them. Here is a press release the company sent out this past week:

“Everyone at SHIMMER – WOMEN ATHLETES would like to congratulate Tenille on signing a developmental contract with World Wrestling Entertainment.

The Melbourne, Australia native relocated to Calgary, Alberta, Canada to train under Lance Storm at Storm Wrestling Academy prior to expanding her schedule to include competing regularly for both SHIMMER and ECCW in the Vancouver area in 2009.

Tenille will also be featured on the reality television series “World of Hurt” which completed filming prior to her signing with WWE.

Best of luck to Tenille on her future in professional wrestling!”

Tenille looks like a million bucks and seems like the type of girl WWE would push. Plus clearly she knows how to work, so that will only help her. Congrats to the Storm Wrestling Academy as these signings just continue to build credibility for the Academy and Storm himself. He has always been a long-time favorite of mine and I’m one of those in his camp that he wasn’t pushed enough. I know if I ever trained for wrestling (haha…dream on) I would venture up north to train under him. If you don’t read his commentaries and Q & As on his website you are seriously missing out.

Long-time manager Sir Oliver Humperdink is still battling cancer, and was again hospitalized due to pneumonia. As previously reported, Humperdink isn’t healthy enough to undergo surgery and has chosen not to do chemotherapy. He is in a hospital in Minneapolis as his condition changes by the day.

For those who don’t know, Humperdink was a manager back in the territory days who made his biggest fame in the late ‘80s in the WWF as Bam Bam Bigelow and Paul Orndorff’s manager. He finished his career in WCW in 1991 as the road manager for the Fabulous Freebirds.

I follow former AWA announcer Mick Karch on facebook and everyday he posts updates on Humperdink’s condition as he talks to him daily and visits him when he can. The prognosis doesn’t seem real promising unfortunately it seems.

Jillian Hall was recently hospitalized and has announced that she lost her baby 14 weeks into her pregnancy.

That is sad and terrible news. My thoughts go out her family and loved ones.

WWE’s Joey Styles and TNA’s Bob Ryder engaged in a bit of a Twitter war this past week, after Styles mentioned the recent attendance at a TNA house show. Here is the exchange they had…

* Joey Styles: “TNA in Poughkeepsie NY last night didn’t have Dreamer, Foley or Dudleys …and didn’t have sell out either. The local Indy sells out there.”

* Bob Ryder: “Can’t figure out why @JoeyStyles takes cheap shots at TNA. Especially given how often he has said he would like to work there.”

* Joey Styles: “To clarify, I’m not criticizing TNA for not selling out but rather the TNA employee that didn’t book past ECW wrestlers in NY so they did.”

* Bob Ryder: “Glad to hear @JoeyStyles has all the answers to how to sell out buildings. WWE live event business is down. They could use his help.”

* Joey Styles: “Here’s news much more important than my TNA musings; UFC bought Strikeforce! That is the MMA equivalent of WWE buying TNA.”

Well certainly Styles will have more firepower for his rants after the abomination of last night’s Victory Road pay per view.

This press release found its way into my e-mail inbox this past week…

TORONTO, March 10, 2011 – Score Media Inc. (TSX: SCR) and WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced they have expanded their partnership with a multi-year agreement that will bring more high-energy WWE entertainment than ever before to fans across Canada. The unprecedented deal builds on Score Media and WWE’s already successful, exclusive television relationship to include online, mobile and VOD rights. In addition, theScore and WWE will work together to bring new original WWE content to Canadians across all platforms.

“This extension gives fans all of the exciting WWE entertainment they could ask for across multiple media platforms,” said Benjie Levy, Executive Vice-President & COO, Score Media Inc. “For years, WWE fans have turned to theScore for exciting WWE content on television, and that content will now be extended to touch fans on every screen.”

“WWE is thrilled to expand its partnership with theScore,” said Andrew Whitaker, Executive Vice President of International for WWE. “They have been a great partner, and we are confident we will build on our success in Canada by developing WWE content across multiple platforms.”

That’s cool I guess. I’m just excited that I have somehow ended up someone’s mailing list to get stuff like this sent me. The e-mail came from representatives from theScore. Hey, what can I say, I’m a mark for myself.

The Road to…WrestleMania XXVII
WWE Championship
John Cena v. The Miz (c)

World Heavyweight Championship
Edge (c) v. Alberto Del Rio

No Holds Barred
The Undertaker v. Triple H

Randy Orton v. CM Punk

Special Guest Referee – Stone Cold Steve Austin
Jerry “The King” Lawler v. Michael Cole (with Jack Swagger)

expected matches:
Rey Mysterio v. Cody Rhodes
Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus
The Big Show, Kofi Kingston, Christian & Kane v. The Corre
John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Kelly Kelly v. Dolph Ziggler & LayCool
some sort of Divas match

The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2011
Shawn Michaels
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Bob Armstrong
Sunny

Wrestler of the Week
Week of March 7 – 13: Edge & Christian
In a week where John Cena put out another solid promo, Stone Cold and JBL did their things, The Miz reminded everyone that yes, he is still WWE Champion, Randy Orton punted another back to FCW and Brodus Clay was all over the place, for me Edge and Christian stood tall. As a long time fan it is always a treat to see “The Suicide Blondes” back together once again. WWE has done a great job over this past decade of keeping E & C fairly separate from each other when they have both been active for the company so their interactions have always been special. Here’s hoping that post-WrestleMania the two can embark on a fresh program that either sees them together as a super team or explode in a wild feud that should’ve happened a decade ago. Regardless for this week it was just great to see them back together at least one more time.

RAW’s On Tonight!
Snooki, star of MTV’s Jersey Shore, will be the guest star for RAW tonight live from the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Snooki, born Nicole Polizzi, burst on the national zeitgeist in December 2009 when Jersey Shore exploded into pop culture. Since then she has become a pop culture staple and penned her own novel, A Shore Thing, which was released in January 2011. In addition she has become a staple on numerous award shows, guest starred on many other programs and has become a frequent comedic target for comedians and late night talk and comedy shows. Plus Randy Orton looks to punt Mason Ryan back to Florida like he did the rest of the New Nexus, and King Sheamus will challenge Daniel Bryan for the US Title. Will Sheamus finally get out of his funk and be able to build to a WrestleMania bout against Bryan? And how will the proposed John Morrison, Kelly & Trish versus Dolph Ziggler & LayCool WrestleMania match begin to take shape? Surely tonight’s Trish Stratus-Vickie Guerrero match won’t have anything to do with it. Plus expect plenty of long video packages and interviews featuring a combination of Triple H, Undertaker, The Miz, John Cena, The Rock, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler. One of those names is not like the others.

On Last Week’s Episode…
SmackDown results and 10 thoughts. How great was it to see Edge & Christian together once again? And how much of a piece of a shit must Johnny Curtis feel like being that he won NXT, season 4, and is nowhere to be seen, but yet his runner-up Brodus Clay got to work on both RAW and SmackDown this past week?

Here are results and thoughts from Superstars. I love these self-contained storylines for Superstars, like the Masters-Reks feud and the previous Hawkins-Baretta feud.

Check out the recap of the first episode of the fifth season of NXT. Am I the only one who liked this concept? Judging by feedback it seems that way.

Finally, peruse the RAW results, 10 thoughts and judicial review. I want to give a special shout out to Mr. Andrew Wheeler for what he wrote about me in last week’s Review. I am truly humbled by his kind words. He is consistently the funniest and most entertaining writer I read each week. I anxiously look forward to his column each week and know that he will carry on the mantle of us from the “old guard.”

How They Rated
Superstars (3.3.11) – .57

SmackDown! (3.5.11) – 2.0

A.M. RAW (3.6.11) – .48

RAW (3.7.11) – 3.92

This is Boring, What Else is There to Read?
Logan watches RAW from February ‘96 and Superstars from May ‘94 so you don’t have to.

Ditch has convinced me I need to read Howard Brody’s book.

Scott Keith’s retro re-rants on WrestleMania is currently up to WrestleMania X.. A true classic.

Mark has been a columnist for Pulse Wrestling for over three years now, evolving from his original “Historically Speaking” commentary-style column into his current 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 Examiner.com and a contributor for The Wrestling Press. Follow me on Twitter here.

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