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!
No time for editorializing this week, not during one of the biggest wrestling weekends in recent memory! The weekend starts with both Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate holding cards, followed by WWE’s Elimination Chamber on Sunday evening, a special Raw on Monday, plus the launch of the WWE Network. Plenty of news and nuggets to whet your morsel:
- Nelson Frazier Jr., known to wrestling fans as Viscera, Big Daddy V and (King) Mabel, died due to a heart attack this week at the age of 43. His most prominent run in wrestling came in the much-disfavored mid-90’s era of the WWF, when he won the King of the Ring, received a WWF Championship match against Diesel and entered into a feud with the Undertaker, in particular, with his orbital bones. This run came so soon after his debut that the first time he competed at WrestleMania, he was the youngest wrestler to do so. He later returned during the Attitude Era as the enforcer for the Ministry of Darkness, and had runs in the 2000s as The World’s Largest Love Machine and the hard-hitting Big Daddy V. Some fond memories of Viscera include:
– The World’s Largest Love Machine falling in love with Lillian Garcia and pursuing her off-and-on for years.
– Viscera’s tag team with Val Venis as seen on Heat in 2005-06, known to this author as Triple V.
– The hoss lover’s wet dream, the ECW Monster Mash. Check out BDV’s showdown with Mark Henry early in the match.
– When you need to make your day just a little more sexy, there’s always one video you can turn to.
– This last item may be idiosyncratic (well, more so). A much-indulged affinity of mine (Glenn) for some years was the General Manager mode in SmackDown vs. Raw 2007, and I spent probably too much time booking & playing PPV events just to find new and exciting ways of throwing people off the top of the Hell in a Cell structure. A particular favorite was to get an opponent in just the right position so that when you perform Viscera’s finisher, turning his opponent over and humping him several times, the poor benighted soul would fall off the cage just as the humping finished. To be fair, it was easier to position someone in the middle of the cage ceiling and break it with the power of Big Vis’ physical love. He was a giver.
- As discussed on the Main Event podcast, Dish Network will not be carrying the Elimination Chamber this Sunday evening, likely in retribution for the WWE’s decision to offer future PPVs via its own branded network. Dish Network announced their position in a statement released to media website zap2it.com. As a long-time subscriber to Dish, the satellite provider has successfully leveraged their market share against channels trying to substantially raise their revenue. Their desire is to be a lower-cost alternative to its chief competitor, DirectTV and other cable outlets. My personal opinion is that their last major effort to do this, against AMC, backfired, as many subscribers were upset over the prospect of losing Walking Dead and Mad Men. In the case with the WWE Network, I can understand their frustration with WWE offering their product at an extremely reduced rate. While I won’t be able to order the PPV, this may be the only hand Dish can play in an effort to bargain down prices with the WWE. Losing this PPV will be a drop in the bucket to Dish, and I believe that the WWE has too much at stake with the launch of the Network to be concerned with the traditional PPV model at this time.
- Ring of Honor returns to action this weekend with its 12th Anniversary Show, #Honorcon fan festival and a television taping in its birthplace of Philadelphia. In my eyes, the cards are the most stacked since Final Battle. AJ Styles makes his return, fighting Jay Lethal on Friday evening and, in a much-anticipated bout, Michael Elgin on Saturday. After his second and third matches, will we get an idea of where Styles is headed in ROH? Two straight wins would push him straight into contention for the title, but will Roderick Strong, Jimmy Jacobs, and BJ Whitmer of Decade look to intervene?Also intriguing is the post-event street fight between Kevin Steen and Cliff Compton. The two tore up Pittsburgh in January and a no-rules match gives Steen and Compton the license to unleash their creativity. A sleeper match is likely the TV Title bout between Tomasso Ciampa and 2014 Top Prospect winner Hanson. On this week’s Kevin Kelly Show, Hanson revealed that he and Ciampa have a friendly rivalry going back years. Expect a hard-hitting, smash-mouth match between with these two that could steal the show.
- With the launch of the WWE Network just a short few days away, there’s quite the buzz surrounding that evening’s Raw in Green Bay, Wisconsin. As previously written in the High Spot, huge returning names like Hulk Hogan and Undertaker have been speculated to be in attendance, yet there has been no advertising from the WWE’s end. Historically, the WWE promotes special guests and even pushed up the announcement of Batista’s return after word leaked to the public. The ticket information page lists Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman as appearing, though no further advertising has been offered for them, either. It’s a new and intriguing strategy for the company; we’ll see how it plays out, and whether the rumored stars will even appear, next Monday.
- Speaking of the Network, WWE announced its programming lineup for its first few weeks. As someone who will likely subscribe, I’m most looking forward to the NXT programming and the “Beyond the Ring” series The latter’s description emulates the format of many of the individual athlete’s DVDs that we’ve seen over the years, likely in a shorter format. For on-demand content, I’ll be starting with NWA around 1987. I’m sure Glenn will be watching Legends’ House all-day, every day. Look for several live blogging sessions from PTB Nation writers as the network picks up steam. If you have any requests, or would like to share what excites you about the Network’s lineup, drop us a line at email@example.com, @SteveWille34or @glenniebun.
- ?! ?! ?! ?! : There is a faction of beings with power unimaginable. You know this. Their aims are unknown, potentially unknowable, but by their howls of fury they seem to have had quite a lot of plans predicated on Daniel Bryan winning the Royal Rumble, and had been shaping events to cause this to come to pass. You know this too. What you may not know is that there is one man leading an effort to keep these beings at bay, not knowing what vile punishment may be his before all is said and done. He is known only as The Swaggering Man. He was recently seen alienating and dismissing his only son, saying: “Your mother was right. I came here hoping otherwise. Hoping that my son might stay to honor me…like Bob Orton’s son.” And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward New Orleans to be born?