Welcome to the High Spot, Place to Be Nation’s weekly pro wrestling update. Steve Wille (@SteveWille34) will take you through the biggest story of the week in the world of wrestling, adding in a unique view to help put the story in perspective. Glenn Butler (@Glenniebun) then takes a quick look at other important stories of the week. If you have any tips or story ideas, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
- An Extension and a Farewell?: Before creepily appearing on her bed with a sharply-dressed Mike Tenay on Wednesday’s Impact, Dixie Carter updated fans on the ongoing negotiations with Spike Television. In addition to reiterating Impact’s move to Wednesdays, she announced that Impact would remain on air at least until the end of the year. First off, let us applaud a wrestling company actually announcing something tangible (we’re looking at you JJ). Most reports stated that the Impact contract with Spike ended in either September or October, so this seems to be a contract extension, albeit a short one. This gives Impact more time to negotiate with Spike for a longer-term contract or find another suitable partner. Again, since moving the tapings to the Manhattan Center, the on-screen product has become exponentially improved, so, hopefully, advertisers and/or viewers will take notice.
In a surprise, it is believed that Bully Ray will not be returning to Impact at the next tapings, as his contract recently expired, according to the Wrestling Observer website. Seeing how much he has figured into storylines as recently as two weeks ago, and the reports that he’s been a leader backstage, Bully Ray leaving the company would be a huge blow. Neither Bully Ray or Impact have announced anything regarding this yet, so it’s likely that negotiations are still ongoing. Completely unsubstantiated rumors on the web state that Bully Ray has interest in both New Japan Pro Wrestling and the WWE. The Observer later reported that the WWE has no interest, though, due to a combination of Ray’s advanced age, some residual anger with him, and budget cuts. Again, rumors and innuendo. Rumors and innuendo.
- There’s a Joke About a Curve Ball Somewhere: Speaking of rumors, the latest on Daniel Bryan’s recovery from numerous injuries is that he may need Tommy John surgery, generally associated with baseball pitchers, and will need an additional three months to recover. As is the norm with finding news on the web, there’s no mention whether that means three months from now, or three months from what was originally anticipated. It goes without saying that our darkest timeline will continue, all because Daniel Bryan did not win the Royal Rumble.
- You Say Goodbye: Two weeks ago we mentioned some rumors about the cause of Alberto Del Rio’s firing; since then, scattered rumors have united into one story, since confirmed, that del Rio struck a social media manager after hearing a racist comment that cleaning is Del Rio’s job. Now, I do not run an internationally-known publicly-traded billion-dollar corporation, so what do I know about the finer points of managerial strategy for a company with so many moving parts, but my first instinct in such a situation might be to fire the person making racist comments and discipline the person who reacted with physical violence. Of course, physical violence is the name of the game in the WWE, but despite the backstage scuffles that’ve occurred over the years (not to mention JBL’s storied reign of terror), you really don’t want to tolerate non-scripted battery of non-wrestlers.
- I Say Hello: Del Rio’s next step, meanwhile, turned out to be AAA, with a debut at TripleMania…complete with his WWE music, apparently. There is, by now, a somewhat well-worn genre that wrestlers enter into when giving promos about why they’re no longer in the WWE; the concerns about racism, however, lend Del Rio’s a little more credence than some of the more memorable ones we’ve seen in TNA (including Kurt Angle and Jeff Hardy’s wishes for a world without drug tests (which will live on in my mind, fairly or not, as the “let me be me” gripe), and whatever the Voodoo Kin Mafia’s beef was).
Also at the TripleMania show, AAA played a video for Rey Mysterio, coinciding with Konnan pleading on the Tweetbox to #freerey. Clearly, adding Del Rio and Mysterio would be enormous for the Mexican-based company, especially considering their long-rumored television deal for El Rey television this year. An angle centering around Del Rio’s accusations of racial mistreatment, as alluded to in his debuting promo, would make Del Rio an instant face in the eyes of the Hispanic audience, and there’s no doubt that Mysterio would be welcomed with open arms.
- Wanted: A Brother: Hulk Hogan is purportedly sniffing around for one more WrestleMania match. While the greatest of all time may be better suited to the ambassadorial role he’s filled this year, and it’s honestly hard to imagine a full program and featured match happening (let’s not forget that before he was announced as the host of WrestleMania XXX there were rumors that Hogan might wrestle there), but we here at The High Spot try to stay positive and consider the possibilities. At this point, any appearance is a gift. Some theoretical opponents for the Hulkster include:
- John Cena seems the most believable and the most appropriate, and would undoubtedly do his best to put Hogan over as if was still in his prime before accepting what would surely be the last torch Hogan could pass. In the ring, Hogan’s time is up, and Cena’s time is now. Also, Hulk did a fantastic job guest-hosting WrestleMania and just had a wholly enjoyable birthday celebration on Raw; maybe he can do a better job than The Rock did in every facet of the latter’s recent pop-ins. (Incidentally, this would not require Cena to turn heel. That will never be required. The idea needs to go away.)
- Steve Austin…oy. Talk about ideas that need to go away.
- CM Punk is, perhaps, even less likely to wrestle at WrestleMania XXXI than Hulk Hogan is, but we’re already in fantasy land here. Whether Punk could muster the energy to put on a show like he did while carrying The Undertaker to a surprisingly entertaining match last year, we can’t really know, but if so it would truly be a sight to see. And we can all imagine the promos these two would be able to put together.
- Alexander Rusev fits the evil-foreigner mold, but doesn’t seem a good fit otherwise.
- Sting. They might be looking for a WrestleMania opponent for him, yes? I don’t think Bound for Glory 2011 settled the dispute between these two!
- Damien Sandow? Hear me out here. Arguably the best use of Hulk Hogan in the last ten years was at WrestleMania XXI, when Muhammad Hassan and Daivari abused Eugene, friend to all legends, and had ruthless justice meted out upon them at the hand of Hulk Hogan. The sheer efficiency of it suited him: he made his grand entrance, Hulked up, beat up the heels, gave the people what they wanted, and was gone. (One fantastic moment is JR’s amazed “oh my god,” uttered at the mere sight of Hogan giving Daivari the YOU! point; this is the moment when Daivari, and everyone else, knows the doom that is about to befall him.) A match with Sandow would be along the same lines, but with a leg drop and a pinfall at the end, but a segment would still get the job done in lieu of an actual match. What would be better here would be the build. Imagine Sandow continuing his “dumb costume to rile up some guest or poke fun at the city” routine, except every week he’s a different classic Hulkster rival: one week he’s Roddy Piper, the next he’s Randy Savage; on Raw he dons a black singlet and a horrible French accent, while on SmackDown he wears trunks with “Mr. #1derful” written on the back. (Ultimate Warrior can be avoided in this twisted procession.) Sandow would be a gnat to Hulk Hogan, but squashes have their place.