Welcome to the TJR Q&A for the month of September. I'm going to do everything I can to make this a monthly feature because when I wrote the Canton's Corner column I tried to do it every month, so that tradition will continue.
How this works is pretty simple. On Saturday I made a post on the Facebook page of TJRWrestling.com asking for your questions. Throughout the day I answered them. Almost all of them have made it into this 4,500+ word Q&A session. I will put the questions in bold italics while my answers will follow in regular font. Simple enough? Let's begin.
Why is Rock "passing the torch" to Cena so damn important? Cena is already solidified as the face of WWE. He's bigger than the WWE title and World title combined. He is not a convincing underdog. Hell, he's technically been in the WWE longer than The Rock. So why, oh why, does it matter whether or not Rock "passes the torch" to the already established John Cena?
Because John Cena is the biggest full time star in WWE and has been for about 7 years now. By the time he's done they will market him as the "biggest WWE superstar ever" with the most WWE Title wins ever and the longest main event run. He's 35. He has another 5 years at the top unless he gets seriously injured. Cena's the cash cow. They are milking him for all he's worth.
Where do you see CM Punk heading towards Mania? Facing The Rock or someone else?
I think we'll get Punk vs. Rock at the Rumble with Rock winning the WWE Title from him. As for Punk at Mania, I'm not sure. Maybe Sheamus. I wouldn't mind seeing him against Undertaker if the 20-0 guy still wants to do it.
HBK is obviously one of the best ever, but do you think he is the clear cut best ever if he never gets injured?
I don't think losing the four years from 1998 to 2002 hurt him that bad as far as his legacy. His run from 2002 to 2010 was phenomenal and I think that proved he's the best to ever step foot in the ring, at least in American Wrestling. He started in 1984 all the way to 1998. Missed four years due to the back injury and being in a bad place mentally. Came back in 2002, had an awesome run for 8 years near the top and if you add that all up it's a 22 year career. He had a match of the year when he was nearly 45 in the main event of WrestleMania in his last match. Not many people can touch that. To me he's the best ever. We're all entitled to our own opinion, of course.
What can be done for the Divas division?
It's just a matter of giving them a chance. They need more than 2-3 minute matches on Raw and Smackdown. They need to put some of them with male wrestlers so they get more TV time and add some character to their personalities, which are non-existent in a lot of cases. I think there's some talent there especially with Beth and Natalya, but unless they get a chance to show it they won't win the fans over or make them care about their matches.
Any idea for a good stable during this time in the WWE? I think it would be nice to see Cody Rhodes leading his own group of guys.
I wouldn't be opposed to it. I think Cody being in a stable with Damien Sandow would be really fun. Maybe put a tag team with them. I think Punk and Heyman may be leading a stable shortly. I don't know that as fact, but it's just a hunch on my part. Stables are good to have around. It's been a while since we've seen one, so why not?
If you could make one superstar champion who hasn't been it before, who would you pick and why? Furthermore how would you book it?
I would go with Cody Rhodes. I think he's ready if the company gets behind him. I would have him beat Randy Orton in a feud. Give them 2-3 months of PPV matches with Rhodes winning the decisive third one. That would elevate him to the status of World Title contender. If Sheamus is holding the title then you have Rhodes beat him as well. I don't care if it's shady. I would prefer it if it was strong, but I think that's unlikely with how WWE books things. With all of that said, I would expect Ziggler to win the title sooner rather than later. He'll be the heel to get it off Sheamus. On the Raw side it will be between Punk, Cena and Rock heading to WrestleMania time.
Is it still possible to have a stable of four or five guys in today's WWE? Who would you pick out of the current WWE roster to create such stable?
Yes it's very possible. I already touched on the stable one a few questions above this, but how about this one? I think CM Punk with Damien Sandow, Dean Ambrose and Cody Rhodes would be a fantastic group. Paul Heyman would be their associate too. I think their characters would mesh together well.
You think it's a shame that Undertaker has never got to go into a Wrestlemania as champion?
Yeah that's one of the things about The Streak that didn't happen. It would have been interesting to see him walk in with the WWE Title and then have the idea that he could not only lose the title, but also The Streak. They could then build it up as the "biggest" match of his WrestleMania career.
Do you believe the rumours about the WWE network, and if it's true that it's getting canned, what effect do you think it will have on the company's programming?
I don't know what to believe. I think Wrestlezone posts questionable "news" a lot of the time and I'm glad that WWE stood up for themselves on it. I hope the Network happens. Where WWE screwed up is when they had commercials about the network in the spring when it was way too soon to even put it out on TV. I think the Network will happen, but I don't think it will be a money maker for them for a couple of years.
What's your ultimate dream match that hasn't happened? Pick any two wrestler from any years.
I'll pick three just because there are too many for me to pick.
- Shawn Michaels vs. Daniel Bryan - Teacher vs. Student. Bryant as a heel. Would have been amazing.
- Kurt Angle vs. Bret Hart - No brainer, I think. Technical marvels.
- Steve Austin vs. CM Punk - Punk as heel.
Yo John, if you could choose one wrestler to wrestle the Undertaker for his very last match who would you pick?
Brock Lesnar. Loved their matches together.
I believe that the partnership of Heyman and Punk Has a lot of potential, the best move being to make Heyman the devil on Punk's shoulder, telling him he needs "Respect". Then, should Punk turn face, it can be revealed that Heyman was the one who turned the champ into what he is now. I would love to know your thoughts on this storyline going forward.
The potential is so huge for this partnership. I'm excited about Monday's Raw to see where things go next. I think it's a story to get us interested in something going forward for the fall and into the winter season as well.I think Punk will be a heel for the long term meaning for a couple of years. I think the face run was great in a lot of ways, but at the same time there was an empty void for a top villain and he fills that role quite well. Heyman by his side is a great thing.
With the possibility of both GM's getting changed up again, how out of line would it be to guess that Vicki taking over RAW and Heyman taking over Smackdown (or vice versa)? Personally, I don't care for the GM spots... But I believe that would be PERFECT for Heyman and Vicki. Your thoughts Sir John Canton?
I don't see that happening although of those two I think Vickie as a GM is more likely than Heyman again. Both are better off as managers I think. It's nice to see managers out there. I think the whole "GMs having issues" story is being done so that WWE can bring back Ric Flair to be the guy in charge on both shows or maybe just Raw. He fits the role well. It's been four years since he left WWE. Would be fresh again.
What did Jack Swagger do to fall so far? He's got the look Vince loves. I don't see what he's done wrong.
I don't have an answer there. He's somebody I've enjoyed as a performer for many years. I think he's got a lot of talent in the ring, he's a good athlete and when he was given chances he proved he can have solid matches. I think it's just a case of him being around for so many years and they want to try things with different characters. Hopefully his "break" leads to something good for him upon return. I think recharging his batteries, so to speak, will be beneficial to him long term. I hope it is.
How do you feel about the ideas for the rematches at WrestleMania? The Rock vs John Cena and Brock Lesnar vs Triple H? Personally I think these matches will mean that the outcome will be really obvious. I mean what's the point in them doing these matches again if the reason isn't to put over the guy who lost in the previous match?
I don't mind Rock vs. Cena. I was there this year and it was one of the loudest matches I've ever seen live. Was fun to witness that live. I think the rematch would do great business for WWE. Lesnar vs. HHH doesn't interest me as much. I'd rather see Lesnar vs. Undertaker or even Lesnar vs. Sheamus since it's something different. Who's going to tell Hunter no? Nobody.
Favourite championship reign ever? Any wrestler, any championship.
It has to be Hulk Hogan from 1984 to 1998 in the WWF. It really was a crucial time for them as they launched WrestleMania and he was the guy it was built around. I'm not a Hogan fan to put it mildly, but that was a money reign if there ever was one. Also Randy Savage from WM4 to WM5 because he turned heel during it and you don't see that very often except when Punk just did it haha.
I liked the reigns of others like Triple H through most of 2000, but he did lose it in there too. I liked Austin in 2001 a lot too. They weren't as significant historically though.
If you could re-use any of the old WWE titles to replace the new one, which would you pick? Also, what title design do you like best, from any wrestling company, past or present?
None of the current ones bug me. I know that people want the old Winged Eagle WWE Title to return, but they sell so much merch with the current one and I think it's smart of the to have the big WWE logo in the center of it. Smart marketing. I think my favorite title design is the "big gold belt" aka WCW Title aka WWE World Title and also the IC Title that they currently have, which is what the old one was. Those look the coolest to me.
Do you think either of the Hardy's will ever come back to the WWE? I'm a huge fan of Jeff, and I'm happy to see him in TNA. But I feel as if WWE was always his home. I'd love to see him come back and challenge the current CM Punk, with his heel reign, and all.
I would love to see Jeff Hardy back. He was a huge draw before he left and his work was awesome. His contract was up, so he left. TNA has a lighter schedule. He appears to have cut back on the drug usage, so that's a good thing obviously. I hope he goes back to WWE some day. He just turned 35, so he has a few years left and I think deep down he probably wants to end his career in WWE like a lot of people do. As for Matt, I'm not sure if that door is still open for him even though he has turned his life around for the better. Jeff is more likely of the two, I think.
Do you think Steve Austin should return for a feud with cm punk? If so how would you book it?
I don't think he should. He's 49 years old. Just had major knee surgery. Has a bad neck. He retired 9 years ago when he thought it was over and he was right. I have enough Austin memories to last a lifetime. I don't want to see him get hurt by having one more match when he doesn't need the money or to prove anything to anybody. Would I love to see it? Of course. However, this is an Austin that would be ten years removed from his last match and I doubt he'd be close to what we remember in his prime.
How long have the public known that Vince McMahon was the official owner of the WWE? As a kid I remember Jack Tunney being the storyline owner/chairman for example. But with the internet hardly used back in the day, did the people "in the know" (as in, who knew we were watching an entertainment show) really know that the commentator "Vince McMahon" was in fact the real CEO?
Good question. I think it was either late 1996 or early 1997. I can remember it during a Bret Hart promo where he was going off on Vince. I knew Vince was the owner, but some friends didn't (we were 16 at the time) and I had to explain it at the time. Perhaps somebody reading this can give a specific date. It was definitely in 1997 at some point. Maybe before that, though.
(I was later informed about an angle on Raw in late 1996 where Jim Ross had gone heel and referenced McMahon as the owner, so it was around that period too.)
Yes, Si, No, Maybe, or Hug? Which is (or could be) your favorite shirt John? I know, I always ask the hard ball questions.
I don't buy wrestling shirts, but I would buy the "yes yes yes" one because of how ridiculous it is. Ridiculously awesome, of course.
Do you think the CM Punk/Paul Heyman duo gives Punk the opportunity to reach Triple H heel status like he was in the early 2000s?
It can happen. Punk is clearly the top heel in the company and there's no question about it. I think that's why he turned. Better to be top heel than number two face, I think. Then again there's less merchandise money that way.
Who do you think is likely to turn heel or face next and do you think Ryback will have some sort of title reign and decent feud by December or next year?
I suck at predicting heel/face turns. But if I had to pick I would say The Miz going face. Maybe it's because I want it to happen more so than thinking it will happen. I think Ryback will win the US or IC Title by the end of the year. Just a hunch.
What are your thoughts on how wrestling would be today if it wasn't rated PG?
Not that much different. There would be more blood, maybe you would hear words like ass or bitch more, the women would wear less and there'd be more weapons being used. However, the same people would be writing the shows. The same wrestlers would be in the ring. Ultimately telling good stories is what counts and I don't think the PG label hurts as much as some fans think it does.
I read that Orton really wants to turn heel again but WWE is holding off until they are 100% sure about Sheamus. That got me thinking if Orton does turn heel will Punk always be #2? Because if Orton does turn heel I think he'd be the top heel.
I think if Orton turns heel it would be in a year or two and who knows where everybody will be positioned at that point? It's a deep roster, so we'll see. I wouldn't panic about Punk losing his spot. Punk's too good to not be near the top of the card.
What would have been Triple H's career like, had he not made, well, the smartest decision of his life?
I think he would have been a multiple time WWE and World Champion. Maybe not as many times as he ended up winning, but clearly he's a main event talent. Would he be an executive in his early 40s? Doubt it. Marry rich!
Tyson Kidd and Natalya are too talented to be so underutilized. Do you think it has anything to do with their close relationship with Bret Hart? I think Vince still holds a grudge against him.
Absolutely not. Why would he have anything against Bret now? Tyson and Natalya are valuable as good workers that make everybody else better. Tyson's a former tag champ while Natalya is a former Divas champ. Of course I want them to be doing more, but perhaps that will come soon.
So apparently Bully Ray signed another contract with TNA while Devon didn't. Do you still see WWE taking Devon? I feel that they'd want the set, rather than just Devon alone. No offense to Devon, but Bully's the better of the pair.
Yeah Bully Ray signed a two year deal to stay in TNA. I think Devon will either go back to TNA eventually after doing some indies first. They still have a wrestling school too. I don't know if WWE has interest in him as a singles act.
You think it was a mistake for WWE to release AW?
Yes. According to him he got fired for saying something about Linda McMahon's campaign and it was a positive thing too. It's ridiculous to fire somebody for that. The "Kobe rape joke" wasn't good either, but these are things that should be subject to a fine and leave it at that. I think he brought some value to the Primetime Players. They're fine without him, but I think they would have been better long term with him.
Is there any ex-WWE talent who is not in TNA that you think deserves another shot at the big time?
I'd like to see MVP come back for another run in WWE. He's nearly 40 now and he's been working in Japan the last few years. On Twitter he's openly said he might be in WWE again someday, so I hope that happens. Talented performer with a good gimmick when pushed right. I think John Morrison returning to WWE is likely in the new year too.
Do you think Bryan Danielson's feud with Punk has made him a legitimate main-eventer, or do you see him slipping back down the card?
Yes I think he's a legit main eventer. I think he's in that Kurt Angle spot where he'll always be near the top of the card and he'll be in the title picture for the majority of his career. I'm so glad it's happened!
Do you think Kofi Kingston will be World Champ or WWE Champ some day? The way they had booked him in 09 sure look like it but then the Randy Orton thing happened.
Never say never, but I doubt it. He's a solid midcard performer. Not everybody can be a WWE or World Champion. That's just the nature of the business.
Favorite submission of all time? Mine is the Liontamer.
That's up there for me. I have to go with the Sharpshooter as my favorite. Bret Hart is the biggest Canadian legend there is and that move is very famous. I also really liked the Crippler Crossface by that one guy and Kurt Angle's version of the Ankle Lock when he drops to the match while grapevining the leg is a good finisher too.
When do you think Ric Flair will return to WWE?
By the end of the year. I think they'll make him a GM on one of the shows (probably Raw) heading into WrestleMania season. Just a hunch.
If not necessarily a mouthpiece, what potential role do you see Paul Heyman playing for CM Punk?
It's a way to stop the cheers from the crowd because Punk is being paired up with a notorious villain. It's similar to Bobby Heenan twenty years ago for Ric Flair. Flair didn't need a manager just like Punk doesn't, but they can add to the heat they get. The alliance has so much potential because they can add people to the group or just keep it with them two. I have enough faith in both them to think that whatever they do it will work because of the talent they have.
What website do you use for news and which websites do you think should be avoided?
TJRWrestling.com of course! I use F4WOnline.com aka Wrestling Observer. Two great weekly newsletters that the copy/paste sites get their info from and plenty of excellent audio too. It's $10.99/month and worth it to me. For free sites I use prowrestling.net, PWInsider.com sometimes (use a popup blocker) and nodq.com, which is one of the sites I write at. I know of other sites too, but those are the main ones I visit.
How long do you think it'll be till we see Seth Rollins on the two main shows? I haven't seen NXT, but he sure in hell sounds awesome.
I think Royal Rumble would be a good time for it. Perfect spot to debut an exciting young talent like him. He could eliminate a heel to set up a feud. He is awesome. Trust me. He'll be a main eventer within a few years if he gets a chance.
Was or will WWE's cruiserweight division ever be as good as WCW was? Perhaps in terms of match quality, Rey had his best years in WCW?
The rumor is there will be a cruiserweight show on WWE Network if that ever launches. I doubt it would be as successful as WCW's division was because the talent they had was exceptional. However, if you build a whole show around the division then perhaps it could be pretty big.
You think Kane's got one more world title reign (World heavyweight or WWE, it doesn't matter) left in him?
I don't think so. He had a good run two years ago. He's in his mid-40s now and is winding down his career. They have plenty of other people that should be holding the WWE/World Titles.
What's your favorite gimmick match? (Type and/or specific example of how to do it "right?")
I think Hell in a Cell is my favorite. I can think of so many of them that were booked so well (Michaels/Undertaker, 6 man, HHH/Foley, Batista/HHH, Undertaker/Edge & Undertaker/HHH to name a few) that prove that when the match is the end of a feud or rivalry it's worth every penny.
I'm also a big fan of Ladder matches, TLC matches and Money in the Bank matches. They're all basically Ladder matches. I just think that concept works so well.
I know you talked about it at length about heels not being booked strong enough, but do you feel that The Miz's title run could have been worlds better if not plagued by piss-easy opponents(Lawler), chickens**t (Cena/Rock) booking and maybe given an actual win?
Yeah. He was not booked strongly enough. His only true decisive wins were a Raw match against John Morrison and Lawler. It was mostly a shady title reign, which doesn't really help anybody in the long run.
It looked to me a few weeks back that Undertaker would face Brock Lesnar at WM29, but if it's Lesnar vs. HHH in a rematch, who do you think the Undertaker faces? Personally I'd love to see him face Y2J.
I would be fine with Jericho as the opponent. I also think Sheamus, CM Punk and Wade Barrett are potential opponents. Or maybe Undertaker is really done? Have no idea, really.
With CM Punk punking out on Sheamus this past Monday, do you think we'll see a champion vs. champion match and end up with an Undisputed Champion again?
I don't. I think they will keep the brands separate for years to come. It's better for the company to do that in terms of house shows, which is a big money maker for them. I don't have a problem with two major titles like that.
What has been Randy Orton's best feud in recent history?
I think his feud with Christian in 2011 was pretty awesome. Lots of great matches there. Multiple PPVs. I wish Christian won a little more, but no major complaints from me.
Why didn't WWE offer Austin Aries a contract? He did the voiceover for WWE 12. Also, will Roderick Strong ever be in TNA or WWE?
I don't know. Would love to know the Vince/HHH answer to that Aries one. I think he's an incredible talent that can work well as a heel or face. Sure he's short, but so is Danie Bryan and some others. I think Roderick Strong is a maybe. Maybe he's avoiding TNA because he thinks WWE will want him one day? Not sure.
Overall, is the business in a better or worse state than ten years ago? In any capacity, creative, talent etc.....
Not that much different really because 2002 was when they split the roster into two and that still exists today. I think when you look at 1998 to 2001 (aka The Attitude Era) it's fair to say that the roster was stronger at that point. I think the product was edgier then, but not necessarily better. SOme good and some bad just like today.
If you could repackage one superstar in WWE, and one in TNA, who would it be?
Jack Swagger in WWE. Make him a face. Hopefully that's what they're doing with him. In TNA I'd make Samoa Joe a heel monster. That's what he's best at.
When do you think Dean Ambrose will debut?
I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. I hope it happens by the end of the year, but I'm unaware of any specific plans for Ambrose.
What does TNA need to do to take that next step and actually compete with WWE?
A better owner. They need Vince McMahon. So it's not happening.
That's all from me. That was fun. Thanks for the participation.
Like I said we'll do this monthly on the Facebook page of TJRWrestling.com so be sure to "Like" that if you haven't done so already. The next Q&A will be in October.
If you haven't done so already, check out my 5 Things WWE is Doing Right column and then check out its natural rival: 5 Things WWE is Doing Wrong. I'm writing quite a bit these days and I'm enjoying it.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
John Canton - [email protected]
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