Guys and Divas #14: Nature’s President Rising (Daniel Bryan, Emma, Royal Rumble)

Columns, Top Story

Hello and boom, everyone!

Welcome once again to “Guys and Divas”; the only column on Inside Pulse Wrestling that’s been ripped off by Shia LaBeouf.

In this week’s “Divas”, I defend the honor of the modern Diva. Plus, it’s this month’s edition of “Wayback Championship Wrestling Federation Entertainment” in the “Bonus Ball”; in which I look back at a Rumble of Royalty from the not-too-distant past.

…BUT FIRST(!), it’s a cathartic week for wrestling worry-warts as the Wyatts lose a member (phrasing!) just as fast as they gained it in this week’s…


I’ve never been happier having less to write about.

In case you missed it (but you probably didn’t), the surprisingly brief saga of “Daniel Wyatt” came to a decisive end at the conclusion of this past Monday’s Raw; as our favorite goatfaced underdog found himself inside a padlocked steel cage with Bray Wyatt and nothing left to lose.

(I’m trying EVEN HARDER to resist doing the “I Told You So” dance.)

What followed was an orgasmic catharsis of “YES!” chants not seen since the night after Wrestlemania XXIX. (Truth be told, it probably even topped it.) Monday night should be remembered as the night that Daniel Bryan went from being a face to being THE face. Anyone who doubted what would result from his recent trip to the bayou with Bray and the boys should be eating a hefty helping of humble pie, coming direct from the oven of shame, set at gasmark: EGG ON YOUR FACE.

…Okay, I’ll stop gloating.

…In a moment. I feel compelled to also point out that the man responsible for that locked cage was none other than Daniel’s (seemingly) estranged bestie Kane. Look. Alls I’m sayin’ is…this is all starting to sound VERY familiar.

As I said, this does however leave me at a bit of a loss as to what I might comment on from here. Things seem to be going swimmingly in the right direction for our man D-Bry. WWE finally didn’t drop the ball on a story for him, he’s still headed for the alter with his beloved Brie and his proverbial stock couldn’t be higher.

I suppose all that’s left to do is guess the whens and wheres of how this all might play out. Naturally, we all hope we’ll see him raising the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt (which, as it is, needs to just be one belt ASAP) as fireworks fill the New Orleans skyline this April…but over the past two weeks, as many have passed a collective brick through their systems at the Wyatt of it all, I’ve been thinking about other possibilities.

With Batista returning next week (and competing in the Rumble match) and Brock Lesnar clearly sticking around for  while, there are plenty of reasons we may still not get the magical ending to Wrestlemania XXX for which so many of us hope…but maybe that’s not the end of the world.

Let’s be honest. While the moment Daniel finally holds the top prize in WWE will be glorious no matter when it happens, it’s also only been about three months since he (seemingly unceremoniously) fell out of the title picture…and what’s happened for him since?–A high-profile storyline with the company’s most intriguing new characters that often took the main event slot of the numerous Monday Night Raws since. Not too shabby.

The Cenas, Ortons, Batistas and Lesnars of the world may monopolize the top of the symbolic heap from now until that first week of April; but take note of who’s getting all the build, all the chatter, all the USA Network Raw commercials. WWE knows where its bread is now buttered, and while they have a knack for tripping over their own backstage hubris, I don’t think they can screw this one up.

(For the record, I began writing this earlier Tuesday before news broke of Bryan’s concussion. Keeping fingers crossed everything turns out alright…but if there happens to be any sort of delay…well, keep reading.)

“So, Jeff,” you ask “how exactly would not having Daniel main event Mania not be a calamity?”

Well, dear reader, let me throw this compound word at you: SUMMERSLAM.

I know, I know. The past few years haven’t been too kind to (let’s be honest) the least exciting of the “big four” pay-per-views (unless you count the last few moments of last year’s…up to a point, of course). Perhaps, the powers that be realized this. Perhaps they want to really revive the so-called “August classic”…so who else would they turn to than their most beloved superstar?

In the almost two decades I’ve been watching this show, I’ve learned that the only thing better than a redemption story is one that comes full circle. Whatsay we grin and bear the idea of a continuing Orton title reign? A Cena? A Batista? Maybe a Lesnar?

Whatsay all the while, the real story continues to be the rise of an American Dragon?–Now that Daniel’s a monster, the world’s his oyster. He can rise to any occasion, find the next triumph and challenge anyone. (Repeat: ANYONE.) WWE may keep fawning over those other four names, but it’s all just a holding pattern.

A holding pattern that (really think about this calmly and rationally) could be circling one date: August 17, 2014. One year almost to the day since Daniel Bryan’s greatest triumph and deepest loss. You can’t write a better comeback…well, maybe one better comeback…but if we continue to kvetch about that, we’ll completely miss the moment we’ve all been waiting for.

Don’t do yourself a disservice. Be patient. There’s more than one time or place to crown a goat.


Apologies, dear reader. I know that got a bit rambly, but to be fair, have you met me?

I honestly can’t promise I won’t let my stream of consciousness take over in the next segment either. Here it is; it’s…


It would appear we’ve hit a bit of a narrative slump in the world of my favorite strong female protagonists; but(!) as narrative slumps go, it’s still better than Divas Musical Chairs.

Indeed, as 2014 has begun, the status quo is the name of the game.

(My spirit animal; as regular readers know) AJ Lee is still our Divas Champion, and is nearing the record for longest reign in the butterfly belt’s short history. The Funkadactyls have taken their dancing skills to another pair of fan-favorites. The Bellas are still improving by leaps and bounds every time we see them. Aksana still enters to what sounds like the theme from a mid-’80s French detective show.

I guess there isn’t much else to say. That about wraps up this week’s edition of “Div–HEY, WHAT’S THAT?!

So, confession time: I don’t watch NXT.

It’s not that I’m not interested. It’s not that I don’t believe people when they tell me it’s the best show WWE is currently producing. It’s simply that I’m a rampant completist and I’m so far behind, I don’t even know where to begin. (Well, other than the beginning.)

I’m hoping the advent of the WWE Network will give me the incentive to dive in headfirst and really get to know the next generation of smart, sexy and powerful (and the new superstars, of course).

Until then, I will merely be intrigued at the presence of some new blood; and hopefully as we near April 6, we’ll get some stories going again.


Wow. That wasn’t rambly at all. That was just short and sad. I suppose I’m just…waiting.


Well(!), let’s try to pep things up a bit with a trip down memory lane. Indeed, it’s time for this month’s edition of…


WWE Royal Rumble 2006 – 1/29/2006

(NOTE: That’s the late, great voice actor Tony Jay narrating at the beginning of the ad. You might know him best for his turns as Dr. Lipschitz on “Rugrats” and of course as the villainous Frollo in Disney’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. One of the best. Loved that man.)

I know I talk a lot about when I began watching professional wrestling. I came in when a lot of people did; at the heart of the Attitude Era (although, that wasn’t what motivated my decision to watch).

What I’ve spoken very little about is a dark period in the early 2000s; a time in which I often completely forgot WWE was a thing. I feel confident that I watched a fair amount of “Raw”, but the nascent days of John Cena’s doctorate in Thuganomics on “Smackdown” went unnoticed. This is a time I like to call…high school.

Between a rocky first relationship, mountainous piles of homework and a lively career in the theatre, ol’ Jeff was a busy, busy man.

Graduation night is when everything changed.

On that memorable evening in 2005, my family headed to a town just a little south of home for a celebratory dinner. On the way, I flicked on the portable black-and-white TV we often kept in the car and tuned it to our local UPN affiliate. Over the next little bit, I became well versed in the raging feud between a former beer-swilling Acolyte-turned-self-made millionaire and a Marky Mark wannabe for the WWE Championship; in the cabana of a Caribbean fellow who spat in the face of people who didn’t want to be cool; and a flamboyant new tag team who came complete with paparazzi and a striking female manager who had an even more striking way of entering the ring.

I decided I would spend that golden summer between high school and college reconnecting with an old friend.

By the time I began my freshman year at my university of choice, WWE was once again a big part of my life. I never missed an episode and even attended my first live taping. I wiled away countless hours building my own universe in the original “Smackdown vs. Raw” on my then-recently-purchased Playstation 2. I read all the online dirt sheets I could find. I even bought a copy of “You Can’t See Me”. (Don’t judge. You probably did, too.)

Eventually, 2005 turned to 2006; and I decided to up the ante a bit on my newfound passion for sports entertainment. I declared that I would own every pay-per-view event of that year on DVD. (By year’s end, I only owned five.)

Naturally, I began with–arguably–the second biggest of the “big four”: the Royal Rumble.

2006’s edition of the yearly kickoff on the Road to Wrestlemania was, in retrospect, a somewhat low-key affair; merely a stepping stone to the year’s bigger stories.

To wit, the card (in glorious bullet-points (!)):

  • A six-man tornado match for the (sorely missed) Cruiserweight Championship; pitting then-current champ Kid Kash against Funaki, Jamie Noble, Nunzio, Paul London and the eventual winner Gregory Helms.
  • The incomparable Mickie James took on (and handily defeated) 2005 Diva Search winner Ashley Massaro, with the object of Mickie’s obsession Trish Stratus acting as the referee. Just another stop on the way to their classic Women’s Championship bout at Wrestlemania 22. (Probably my favorite Divas match and storyline ever.)
  • JBL tussled with the bizarre Boogeyman. (That’s right. I just reminded you Boogeyman was a thing. You’re welcome.)
  • John Cena regained the WWE Championship from the white-hot Rated-R Superstar Edge.
  • Kurt Angle successfully defeated Mark Henry to retain the World Heavyweight Championship; but his triumph was short-lived, as The Undertaker arrived on a black chariot to declare his intent to be the gold-medalist’s next challenger.

…but of course, it’s all about the 30-Man Royal Rumble match.

Throughout the evening, we were “treated” to backstage vignettes of various superstars drawing their entry number for the Rumble. Mr. McMahon hosted the proceedings, assisted by the trio dubbed “Vince’s Devils” (Torrie Wilson, Victoria, Candice Michelle). MNM and Shelton Benjamin (with Mama Benjamin–remember her?–in tow) stopped by to offer their services in eliminating Shawn Michaels for the chairman. Triple H and Randy Orton had a humorous back-and-forth (no, really)…

…but ultimately, the most important drawing saw WWE’s biggest and smallest superstars face-to-face.

It had been just a little over two months since the passing of the great Eddie Guerrero, and as gauche as the continued use of his name sometimes was, the healing was not yet over.

In retrospect, the eventual Royal Rumble (and indeed, World Heavyweight Championship) victory of Rey Mysterio should have been obvious; but when all was said and done just a few months later in Chicago, we all cheered loudly and proudly as the master of the 619 started his first run as the holder of the big gold belt.

A few errant bullet-pointed(!) thoughts/memories and then–to quote Mr. Greg Proops–I shall “f*ck off into that good night”…

  • God, Vince was/is a perv. There isn’t a moment of his backstage segments with his “Devils” that isn’t cringeworthy…and for once, it had nothing to do with Candice’s inability to act her way out of a wet paper bag.
  • I miss Mickie James so much. So, so much.
  • Of the thirty men in the Royal Rumble match, only five are still on the active roster. So many mid-carders have come and gone over the past eight years, it’s astounding. This was never more apparent than as I watched this event this time around, with my girlfriend alongside me.
  • Watching Chris Benoit makes me uncomfortable, and if that admission makes you just as uncomfortable, let’s never meet.
  • Jillian Hall was a treasure. I see shades of her in Summer Rae, which always makes me smile.

…and so it was the Royal Rumble that was. Eight years seems both so far away and too soon to remember.

(Wait, what?)

…and with that, this week’s “Guys and Divas” ends as strangely as it began…and continued to be throughout. Apologies, dear reader. On the plus side, I can safely say it’s simply that things in WWE seem to be on an uptick and there’s really just not much reason to complain…but maybe we’ll find such reasons in this week’s homework assignments:

  • Daniel Bryan is back on top and it doesn’t look like he’s coming down anytime soon. Could his Wrestlemania moment be on the way? Or is it truly a one-year redemption story as I proposed above?–Say “YES!” to yammering about the future of our favorite underdog.
  • With the semi-debut of NXT’s Emma on Raw, it seems the Divas of Orlando are finally starting to filter onto the main roster. Who are you hoping makes their presence known on the main roster next?–Natter on about the next NXT newcomer. (Alliteration!)
  • Royal Rumble 2006 may not be the most memorable of said events, but it certainly led to a dynamite Wrestlemania. What have been some of your favorite January classics?–Rabble about the Rumble.

As always, join me for my weekly Raw live-tweet (@biscuitman18; #GuysAndDivas) and–for hopefully the last time–another vague urging to stay tuned for news on my latest media venture. Clear your schedule. You’ll want to hear this one.

Until next week, I’m Jeff Heatherly saying…here’s an explanation of this week’s column title. Tofutti time, everyone!

A lifelong entertainment and media scholar, Mr. Heatherly hails from Western North Carolina where he has been an avid fan of professional wrestling (particularly WWE) since the spring of 1998.