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@HitTheRopes on Twitter



@HitTheRopes on Twitter


@HitTheRopes on Twitter


Seems as if a Divas battle royal has become the Kiss of Death for the WWE. Maxine suddenly appears in a random battle royal and afterwards we find out she’s quit the company.

On a recent episode of Monday Night Raw we learned that Charlie Sheen would serve as a Social Media Ambassador on the 1000th episode of Raw. Good thing Sheen is working with the WWE as there’s no telling what would have happened if he went to TNA where Jeff Hardy and Rob Van Dam wrestle. Kenn Doane is keeping his name out there despite only being remembered as a male cheerleader years ago in the WWE. He’s letting everyone who will listen know that John Cena is a womanizer and has had several relationships with WWE Divas and female fans. Fine, we get it Kenny, you’re upset because one of those ladies was your then-girlfriend Mickie James. Still, let it go man. Just chill. I’ve got a friend by the name of RVD who can help you out. 5

Booker T’s Twitter account was hacked by an apparent white supremacist group. His wife Sharmell also had her account hacked by the same folks. Nobody seemed to care about Sharmell’s account however. Reby Sky, apparently only known in the business as Matt Hardy’s girlfriend, lashed out at Psycho Sid after his recent appearance on Raw. She took exception to Sid no-showing Independent shows but taking the payday from the WWE. Enter Sunny. She took exception to Sky’s tweets and a good ol’ catfight began over Twitter. It took a left, three rights, and spilled over on Facebook as well. In the end, Sunny displayed that being the “original” Diva doesn’t mean you have to classy.

Sky would also get into a back-and-forth with Shannon Moore, friend of the Hardy brothers. Moore claims that Sky has made Matt alienate himself from the friends who were around before her. I thought Moore read from the book of DILIGAF though? Speaking of Twitter pages being hacked, WWE Hall of Famer Tammy “Sunny” Sytch is utilizing that excuse after several tweeters took exception to her constant use of the word “faggot” during her rants directed at Sky and Sky supporters. Ain’t that a bitch? I didn’t offend anybody there, did I? @HitTheRopes on Twitter


Ring of Honor had an iPPV and it went off without a hitch. [Pause for applause] Ric Flair and his wife got into it again. Flair once again came out the loser in their fight. On the flip side, would folks have rather him beat her up? Flair’s stylin’, profilin’, and Tylenolin’ at this point.

Kevin Steen cut a promo at the end of the Best in the World iPPV that was supposed to make the fans hate him. That didn’t work. [Pause to shake head.]

Before I end this, did anyone ever return Chyna’s dog? You would have thought we were at a Threat Level Orange the way she was tweeting a couple weeks ago. 7

Denim Millward | @ DenimMillward

@HitTheRopes on Twitter


Daris Brown | @HTRMrWikipedia

It’s time to celebrate the best...and the worst of the month from the worlds of professional wrestling and MMA.


Kenny King

After several years of busting his chops, Kenny King was finally given a chance to perform on a bigger stage. ROH had plenty of time to crown him, but like always they wait too long. He rightfully moved on.

Anderson Silva

After getting destroyed verbally by Chael Sonnen, Silva not only defeated Sonnen but he also extened an olive branch. Silva takes the high road and also retains the belt.

TNA’s X-Division

TNA finally got it that their company was built on the X-Division. Now they don’t have to go back and make it the focus, yet, but it is now getting the attention that it deserves.

Hall of Famer

After 15 years Tito Ortiz is saying goodbye to the sport he helped built. Unfortunately he went out with a loss, but fans will remember him for always bringing it.



Run Forrest Bad enough Run Tito lost his last fight

but Forrest ran out of the cage, creating an awkward moment for the HOF’r and followed it by conducting Tito’s interview himself.


Since Sinclair took over they have forced ROH stars to drop out of indy events. Don’t hate on king for appearing on TNA TV. he had no contract preventing him from doing so. Yet ROH badmouthed him anyway. Tsk, tsk ROH.

Goodbye Johnny

Johnny was a great antagonist in the wwe, but managment thought otherwise. He was relieved of duties on camera, and some additional roles off camera as well.

Sunny Ain’t Funny

Sunny gets back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons when she uses a homophomic slur. So to make up for it, she let’s us know she has a favorite gay cousin.

@HitTheRopes on Twitter


Robert Swanson | bobofnmac


M Punk by far has had one of the most challenging and successful careers as a pro wrestler, but it wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that CM Punk held the fans truly in the palm of his hands and helped create a buzz about the WWE product not seen since the Attitude Era. However, it seems like that magic was short-lived because as we approach the one year mark of CM Punk’s rise--it seems if the magic has left. So what went right with Punk and what went wrong? Let’s start with what went right with Punk. For starters, the worked shoot on Raw during the June 27th broadcast of last year was set up in such a beautiful fashion that it created a buzz in WWE that it hadn’t seen in a long time. Many people claim that the promo that CM Punk pulled off on that night was one of the best things that ever came out11of World Wrestling Entertainment. The wrestling world was in a buzz over how well it was done, it was the talk amongst just about anybody who was a wrestling fan.

As CM Punk was headed out of WWE, many people speculated what Punk would do after his PPV match with John Cena in his hometown of Chicago. No one saw Punk walking out of the PPV as champion, but lo and behold WWE actually gave its fans something to sink their teeth into as Punk left his hometown and WWE with championship gold. The amazing thing about this was the whole time WWE put together an amazing package that for once allowed you to suspend disbelief about professional wrestling. They even had Punk show up on Jimmy Kimmel and at the San Diego Comic Con while he wasn’t with the company. One of my favorite moments was a tweet that CM Punk sent out of the belt just relaxing in the fridge. All these things that sound amazing were great to see unfold in their many aspects across the WWE Universe, and to be honest, I should finish this article by saying WWE turned a new leaf and made their product really great; but the truth is WWE jumped the shark and let all of the air out of the sail. Now you might be asking yourself, “How did WWE fail at CM Punk? I see the guy every week on Raw and sometimes SmackDown, and he is in main events, as well as WWE Champion for over eight months now?” Well honestly, if you approached me with that question I would have to agree with you on most of it. CM Punk is, in fact, a huge main eventer, he plays a huge part on television and PPV, promoted heavily on merchandise, and has been WWE for over eight months. I am not saying Punk hasn’t had success at all, all that I am saying is if he did all this with WWE in its present state, imagine what he could have done if WWE hadn’t let the buzz and his character flatten out the way it has? The truth is WWE had everything they needed in Punk to turn WWE into something really special after last year’s June 27th Raw went off the air, but failed due to either a ratings scare, politics, shareholders, or a combination of all three. I will be honest and admit that I can be an armchair booker many times, but what they have done to Punk really makes a person scratch their head. I mean why couldn’t they have just sat on the angle for three even six months? Why the sudden rush to bring him back to television only a week after he had been gone?

The reason I’m leaving is you people. Because after I’m gone, you’re still going to pour money into this company. I’m just a spoke on the wheel. The wheel is going to keep turning and I understand that.

@HitTheRopes on Twitter


These questions and more have still been sitting in a mayonnaise jar in a small town in the south since WWE brought Punk back. All joking aside, I will never understand why the big ‘E rushed his return. Was it really worth the ratings spike, when a potential moneymaking storyline was delivered first class on your lap? I, along with others, will never know the truth, but one thing is for certain this isn’t the only flaw in Punk as of late. I could rant and rave about the Kevin Nash and Triple H moments that involved CM Punk, but all I will say about that exchange was why in the hell would you have the voice of the voiceless stand beside Triple H? Especially after Punk had called Triple H out so many times. All that stuff did for this writer was scream lazy booking and confusion at Titan Towers. To be honest, it seems since then CM Punk has fallen into limbo. His character has become watered down. One of the saving graces for Punk had to have been Chris Jericho. Jericho and Punk did what it needed to do, and that was give Punk a huge rub from a huge main eventer from WWE history. Was it executed effectively? For the most part yes it was, but the biggest thing it did was provide CM Punk credibility as a champion. So what about the Daniel Bryan and AJ factor? For this writer it has been a fun ride, but yet again that fire that Punk had over the summer last year seems more like the small ember in a fire pit, as opposed to a burning flame of raw emotion. Punk and Bryan can deliver a wrestling match in this day and age, there is no question about it. They also can perform on the stick and make their feud intense, but a lot of times what they say gets lost because it doesn’t get included in the overall storyline. Maybe I am just old fashioned when it comes to feuding. I think in the long run, WWE did its job at making CM Punk an overall top main eventer. Could they have elevated his status more and made him bigger? Sure they could have, but they played it a little too safe. There is no denying that CM Punk has proven to everyone in the locker room and everyone who buys a ticket that he is the best in the world. However, due to WWE’s pressures of ratings and shareholders, they only made CM Punk seem like a gold nugget instead of a gold mine. In conclusion, CM Punk one year later has been a success, but one can now only imagine how much bigger a success he could have been if WWE hadn’t jumped the shark.


The only thing that’s real is me and the fact that day in and day out, for almost six years, I have proved to everybody in the world that I am the best on this microphone, in that ring, even in commentary! Nobody can touch me!

Tim Zbyszko I love wrestling, the action, the travel, the friends, the fans, the ups and downs, it’s in my blood. I want to carry on the heritage and the name Zbyszko, which has been in wrestling for over a hundred years now and is a great source of pride for me.

Afa Anoa’i Jr.

I Chose to Follow My Father’s Footsteps into Pro Wrestling Because...

That it means you’re good or not. Not all second generations are good, you have to have it on your own.

The Biggest Misconception About Being a Second Generation Star is...

How much pain is involved for something many think is “fake.” I believe that if you can get hurt it’s real!

Fans Have No Idea...

Pink Floyd collection, hands down.

Write, gym, eat, and best of all sleep!

Follow Tim on Twitter @TimZbyszko

Best CD/mp3 for a Road Trip is...

When I’m not on the Road I Like to...

It’s all I knew growing up. Wrestling is my life.

Everyone thinks things come easy to us. We being 2nd or 3rd generation actually makes it harder because more is expected.

I enjoy cooking on a BBQ Pit/Charcoal Grill.

All Eyez on Me, 2pac

Besides bbq on the grill..... I like to play X’box LIVE and watch movies in my Man Cave. 14 Take care and make sure to follow me on Twitter @SamoanStorm

Getting in the Ring with South Florida’s Main Event Training Center Shane Howard | @Shane184


hey say the best teacher is experience. That couldn’t be any truer in the world of professional wrestling.

Forget that notion that wrestling is “fake” or the wrestlers don’t feel anything from the moves they do and take. Get in that ring and go through just the basics and you’ll quickly find out that it takes some of the toughest, and slightly craziest, of humans to do what wrestlers do. I have been a wrestling fan for 18-plus years now. There were those teenage years where I openly spoke about going to a wrestling school to learn the craft but father threatened to disown me if I did such a thing. Well, he didn’t really go that far but he preferred for me to go to college and since he was going to pay the tuition (for the first two years), I went the conventional route after high school. The love for wrestling didn’t die burn out. I still religiously watched WWE, WCW, ECW, later TNA and several independent companies. So when I saw that there was going to be an open house at a wrestling school in my area I had to jump at the opportunity. Finally, The Caribbean Playboy will wrestle in an actual wrestling ring. Again, I’ve never done any training in the past. My knowledge is what I’ve seen on TV and several years throughout high school where we did the whole backyard wrestling thing. Good times. Good times. Moving on, I possessed that mentality that certain things weren’t as hard as they looked on screen. Yeah, I was wrong. Main Event Training Center quickly made me realize why the men and women of the squared circle deserve even more respect than I already give them. I entered the Boxing Fitness center which was a nice store-front area. No dark, hot, sweaty warehouse here. Main Event has an air-conditioned facility. That was one of the things that struck me immediately. I arrived about half an hour early so I just milled around for a bit, introducing myself to some of the interested students and a few of the wrestlers from Coastal Championship Wrestling and NWA Ring Warriors who I’ve seen wrestle before. Another thing I noticed was how head trainer Pablo Marques and Dan Ackerman, one of the owners, were sure to introduce themselves to everyone and would remember their names throughout the session.


After a brief introduction we learn the backstory of the school (formerly called Bodyslam University started by Ackerman and Bruno Sassi [TNA’s Main Event Mafia’s Sally Boy]), the vast amount of years Marques and Ackerman have been in the business, the cost of their school, and the expectations they have for the graduates. Then it was time for those who signed waivers to get in the ring and go through some basics. The proper way to get in the ring, forward rolls, 3/4 rolls, back bumps, and locking up. Those back bumps are no joke. My back is still sore as I type this. South Floridians who have always had the passion and desire to step into the ring but may not know where to start allow me to point you in the direction of Main Event Training Center. In addition with partnering with Boxing Fitness the training center is also partnered with the aforementioned CCW and NWA Ring Warriors. Head trainer Pablo Marques has been wrestling for 20 years, touching five of the seven continents. For $2,000 you get all that they have to offer whether it takes you one year or 10 years. You’ll have to be able to attend at least twice a week and attend all CCW and NWA Ring Warriors shows to assist setting up or wherever needed. (It’s truly a wrestling family.) If you aren’t able to pay the tuition upfront they do provide the option of a payment plan where you put $300 down and pay $100 monthly. This limits the amount of lessons you receive however. If you have the gift of gab you can refer people and get $100 off the backend of your tuition for every person who actually signs up. Get 20 folks and you’re training for free. There will be monthly showcases where students get to show off what they have learned to the public. Not as big as one of the regular shows but it will give students the experience of wrestling in front of an audience that is not their fellow classmates and trainers. Once you’ve shown you’ve got the chops you’ll be able to move on to possibly do some CCW and Ring Warriors shows. In addition, having been in the business for as long as they have and having friends in other companies, there will be those days where wrestlers who have “made it” come down and offer students the opportunity to pick their brains. Adam Pearce will be on hand in July. Stevie Richards, Finlay, and others are in talks to do seminars as well. All in all, I had a blast learning the things I did. I only wished I was able to cut a promo I had planned. One day, one day. I encourage all those who have thought about becoming a wrestler and living within driving range of Fort Lauderdale to check out Main Event Training Center. You’re getting a tuition cost that’s extremely reasonable and the chance to work with a great group of wrestlers. For Main Event’s Facebook page. For NWA Ring Warriors’ Facebook page. Their official website can be found here. For CCW’s website.


Caribbean Playboy | @Shane184

Who is She? She’s got that girl next door innocence about her. The lady you can bring home to mom and the one who is into video games and comic books like your boys. Add to that, she can kick a little butt in that ring. Before getting to the WWE, April Jeanette Mendez began her wrestling career in the Northeast region of the United States, training with Jay Lethal and debuting with WSU in 2008. In WSU she would have one run with the tag championships with Brooke Carter collectively known as The AC Express. Her and Lethal also won the NWS/WSU King and Queen of the Ring Tournament in 2009. In addition to working with WSU, Miss April also appeared in the ACE and JAPW promotions. In 2009 she would get signed by the WWE. After some time in FCW she appeared on the third season of WWE’s NXT. The middle of 2011 she made her WWE SmackDown debut and pretty much did nothing of major importance. It wasn’t until she and Daniel Bryan became an item that the spotlight began to shine to AJ. After being publicly mistreated for weeks by everyone’s favorite vegan, AJ finally snapped and attacked Natalya on an episode of SmackDown. From there she’s gone on to be the most entertaining superstar on the entire roster as she’s been a key player in the 17 WWE Championship scene. At Money in the Bank she plays the special referee for the CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan match.

AJ’s Accolades: • 1x WSU Tag Team Champion (Brooke Carter) • NWS/WSU King and Queen of the Ring Tournament (2009) • 1x Queen of FCW • 1x FCW Divas Champion 18

Robert Swanson | @bobofnmac


op 10 lists always seem to create a string of controversy, and much like WWE I am always trying to shake things up. As Raw approaches is 1000th episode, let’s look back on 10 moments that in this writer’s view made WWE’S Monday night program must-see television.

Number Ten: The First Raw This one solely makes the list because if not for it, we might have never seen the birth of the Monday Night Wars or so many amazing superstars come through our television sets. By today’s standards the show really feels outdated, but at the time it was something that was new and edgy. It definitely was one of those moments where you need to look at the wrestling scene at the time to see why it was so special. The other amazing thing about this show is that the Undertaker is the only wrestler who is still on the roster that was on the very first show. Number Nine: ECW Invades Raw On the February 24th edition of Raw in 1997, ECW invaded WWE and who could forget how at that time how groundbreaking that was. WWE never acknowledged anybody outside of the WWE Universe and it was fun to see the ECW superstars get some exposure on a huge network. Seeing Sabu fly off the the giant R and listening to Jerry Lawler insult ECW was also great. Number Eight: The Birth of the Attitude Era Many people will always have a different view as to when The Attitude Era started, however I feel as if the night it


was made clear was the Vince McMahon vignette at the start of Raw (during the Dec. 15th, 1997 broadcast) to tell the audience that the show was going in a different direction. This bold step paid off for the company, and helped let audience members know that WWE programing was the cure for thecommon show! Number Seven: Vince McMahon’s First Stunner One move alone happened to help create something that would grow into the best feud in WWE history. At Madison Square Garden Vince McMahon received his first stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin. On Sept. 22nd, 1997 the fireworks blew off and Vince would receive stunners from Stone Cold well into the next decade. Number Six: DX Invades Nitro Talk about taking the war to the enemy. This vignette involving DX invaded the outside of a WCW event and broke all wrestling kayfabe. Going to your competitor’s show wasn’t a new thing, but it was a new thing for the WWE audience. That moment in itself let people see how real the war was between WCW and WWE. Granted, seeing DX in camo is never good, but the vignette served a purpose. Number Five: This is Your Life The famous “This is Your Life” segment was so off the charts that it defined must-see television. In late 1999 Mick Foley and The Rock were on fire as super main event talent, and this segment just helped them out even more. Something like 8.7 million people tuned into “This Is Your Life” and saw Mick Foley get rejected by The Rock as

@HitTheRopes on Twitter


the People’s Champ put the smackdown on various people from his past. The segment has happened a lot in WWE but the magic of the segment has never been duplicated. Number Four: Mike Tyson in the WWE The year was 1998 and the WWE was dealing with the smackdown that WCW put on it. So in a deal that was sink or swim for the company, they brought in WWE Hall of Famer Mike Tyson. The gamble paid off because the buzz Tyson created for the company helped showcase Stone Cold Steve Austin to a massive audience, meanwhile letting Tyson stay in the headlines until he could box again. The whole Tyson thing is proof positive as to how a celebrity, if used right, can be effective to the WWE. Number Three: The First WWE Draft Following the demise of both WCW and ECW, WWE had to find yet another approach to make their product interesting. In 2002 WWE thought they found that answer by creating a draft to make superstars exclusive to each show. As both Vince McMahon and Ric Flair made their choices on Raw, one could only hope that this concept would take off and be successful. For a while it worked, but WWE’s focus on just Raw really hurt the draft. Regardless though, the WWE Draft was one of the many reason why Raw is must see. Number Two: John Cena gets Drafted to Raw In 2005 John Cena was anointed the face of WWE. A title he holds still to this day. This marked a major shift for the company because as the years went by John Cena would become the flag bearer for the PG Era. Love him or hate him, John Cena becoming the face of Raw is a moment that will always live in WWE history. Number One: The Monday Night Wars End Many moments throughout the history of Raw could have made this list. Only picking 10 is hard to say the least. For me, however, the number one moment in Raw history has to be the day WWE bought WCW. On the March 26th, 2001 edition of Raw a war that had been waged between Vince McMahon and Ted Turner came to an end. We saw the last WCW Nitro air on WWE television and we saw Shane one-up his dad in storyline form to close the show. The Invasion failed horribly, but at this moment WWE stood on the mountain alone and number one.


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hen viewers think about WSU’s Uncensored Rumble V iPPV they will probably recall it being memorable for Jessicka Havok vs Mercedes Martinez in the first-ever women’s Casket Match. However, there was another first at that show and that belonged to Marti Belle. After two years in the company, she would capture her first singles

championship. And she did it by best out today, strong, smart & defeating one of the most dominant willing to put it all on the line,” Belle forces in wrestling right now, Havok. tells TCC. “I have so much respect for Jessicka, even if I don’t agree with the way that she may do certain things, one thing that you can’t deny about her is her passion and badly she wants it all, any means necessary. I think she is one of the

The show began and Belle wasted no time interrupting Destiny, the ring announcer. Belle wanted another shot at Havok’s Spirit Championship despite 24 having been beaten twice by her.

After what happened at 4/29 show where a pissed off Havok destroyed Belle in mere minutes it seemed as if Belle had a death wish.

themselves into the contest but Belle would get some backup in the form of Martinez. After the dust settled Belle crawled to cover the fallen Havok and a new Spirit Champion was crowned. Not a bad way to spend your Saturday night for someone who works in an office in the fashion industry.

Asked about the moment where her arm is raised in victory by Mercedes and her putting the belt around her waist Belle stated there were so many emotions going through her at one time. “Mercedes is someone that from the day I met her, I’ve respected and looked up to. For her to be the “I think coming into this match, I one to present me the title and raise was so much more prepared; I had my hand in victory was an amazing, the months in between the shows to amazing feeling.” recuperate, get my head on right and train hard. I was hitting that gym like “She whispered into my ear and as it owed me money, busting my ass she left said, ‘this is your moment’ and just focusing on knowing I was and I wanted to cry.” going to challenge her, regardless of the fact I had no match and not The rest of the night continued with knowing if she’d even accept. I took Belle appearing once more to take a risk stepping into the lion’s den but part in the Uncensored Rumble itself. Though unsuccessful there, this time, I proved to be Daniel.” the night was still seen as a success Havok and her Midwest Militia for her and she loved what everyone offered to the fans. “I think the era of stablemates felt as if Belle was not worthy of their time and wanted Sean ‘The Mic’ went out with a bang; the focus to be on the Casket Match. he put together an amazing card WSU Commissioner Amy Lee and I think each and every match wouldn’t stand for this and ordered delivered.” Havok to wrestle Belle for the Spirit Championship or be stripped of With the sale of WSU to the Beyond both belts. Havok was now backed Wrestling promotion there maybe into a corner and you never want new challenges for Belle. She’s to back an animal into a corner. worked for Beyond previously and Belle would soon feel the wrath of thinks the partnership will yield Havok but unlike their previous interesting results. “I think our encounters, Belle was not going to partnership will also work well when stay down for the count Allysin Kay it comes to things like the King & and Sassy Stephanie would interject 25

Queen Tournament. I look forward to what’s to come,” said Belle. Beyond isn’t the only new business relationship fans will see with WSU. If they saw the Rumble they saw the nCw Femme Fatales ladies interact with the WSU talents. (LuFistio more than the rest). And though she’s never been north of the border, Belle has her eyes set on hopefully locking up with some of the Canadian-based roster. “After watching LuFisto vs Leva Bates, I have to say I fell in love with LuFisto. I have heard so much about her and have seen a couple of matches, but watching this ‘EPICNESS’ in person made me want to be a part of it. She is strong as all hell and so entertaining to watch.” WSU won’t have another show until September so it will be a few months before the Spirit Championship is being defended by Belle. But she doesn’t plan on losing the belt anytime soon and will defend it every chance she gets. “I want people to remember how I started and how I’ve continued to bust my ass, I want people to remember me as a fighter, someone who was always willing to go all in, never backing down from the fight, regardless of who it may be.” Perhaps a rekindling of the personal feud she had with former tag partner Tina San Antonio? Or could we see a reunion of the Belle Saints? That remains to be seen. Belle knows how well they worked together and how successful they were but the fact that both knew each other’s weaknesses

@HitTheRopes on Twitter


could have been what led to their downfall. “They say the best friends make the best enemies, and I think the same can be said for the opposite. Down the road, who knows.” As her stock continues to rise you’ll be seeing Belle’s face (and signature hair) pop up in other promotions soon enough. She’ll be starting up with Combat Zone Wrestling and SHINE soon and is in talks with DGUSA/EVOLVE. In addition, she would love to grace the ring of SHIMMER, CMLL, RCW, ROH, and wherever she’ll be able to continue gaining experience and finding new challenges. As for the immediate future, you’ll be able to see Belle on July 19th in Deer Park, NY at NYWC’s Trust No One show. Marti Belle may have had her moment back on June 16th but she’s looking to make a lot more. For all the latest on Marti Belle, follow Marti on Twitter @MartiBelle


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This issue we asked readers: “What was your first live wrestling event?” @pocketvolcano: 1999, the live WWF RAW before the PPV “Fully Loaded”. Sat near the top of the arena but still loved it.

@BackTheBolts: no clue how old I was, but wwf came to the sports arena, my dad took me, roddy piper v rick rude

@MeaganG1990: My first Wrestling Event was supposed to be February 5th, 2010 for a WWE Raw House show, but we had a snow storm that cancelled it. It was `supposed to be on the Thursday, but again it was cancelled for the 14th of February which was my mom and my stepdad’s anniversary. Luckily, this one did not get cancelled because I didn’t pay a lot of money just for tickets going to waste. My brother, my mom, his friend and I attended the event and I have to say that it was a amazing experience in Philadelphia where I didn’t have to worry about getting jumped because you were allowed to express who you didn’t like and who you did like. At the time, there were a lot of people back then that were on this show like Chavo Guerrero, the Bella Twins, Maryse, Gail Kim, Jack 29

Swagger, The Miz, MVP, DX, Legacy, Randy Orton, Evan Bourne etc. I have to say the best match of the night had to be Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston. That proved Kofi is the future of the company as I have no clue why he has not been a WORLD CHAMPION just yet instead of being a tag team partner. Overall, I did like the show and it was a good one for seeing my first event (This was my 10th anniversary being a wrestling fan) @IFOWrestling: 1984, WCCW came to my grade school to wrestle. Saw Kerry Von Erich vs. One Man Gang in the main event, got Kerry’s 8x10 after.

@damountie: I was at a house show back in the 80’s with Hulk Hogan taking on Boris Zukoff in the main event. What a draw!

@ZaibatsuEWA: my first event was WWF No.Way Out, Feb.27th 2000 in the old Hartford Civic Center. PPV is best known for HHH vs. Cactus Jack and Foley’s first “retirement”

@wwesangel_nef: Hmmm... a WWE House show in Savannah, Georgia December 2006. That night I had like cheap seats. Probably $20 for the seats. Best thing about that was Randy Orton was sitting in our section until the break. He walked right by me and my friends, smirked and I’m sure I wet myself. I mean--don’t you dare put that last! >< But seriously. I’m sure it was at that moment I realized how incredibly gorgeous he is. And if you meant LIVE as in, a taping, well my first taped Raw was the WWE Draft in Atlanta Georgia... Er... March or April 2009 I believe. Saw Chris Jericho for the first time and almost cried because there was no HBK. -_- I also saw the first taping of WWE Superstars so I did get to see Undertaker, but still.... no HBK -_You can follow TCC Magazine @HitTheRopes on Twitter.

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s we quickly approach the summer season, we also reach the mid-year point of 2012. With six months now behind us, we can reminisce of what 2012 has both succeeded and failed in doing throughout the course of the year. In the ever-changing landscape that is otherwise known as the WWE, we’ve witnessed amazing spectacles, shocking returns, memorable matches and much more. That being said, it’s only fitting to look back each WWE Superstar’s performance over the past six months and what the future holds for that certain star. In this report card of sorts, I evaluate a class of 20 elite WWE Superstars and Divas based on their successes and failures they’ve endured this year, as well as what areas I believe they could improve upon if they wish to finish the year out strong. Whether it’s in a classroom or inside a square circle, wait for the bell to ring and let’s begin!

CM Punk

At the top of the class we have none other than the current reigning WWE Champion, CM Punk. Since capturing the title at last November’s Survivor Series event, Punk has been on a major roll as WWE Champ. With numerous successful title defenses against established contenders such as Alberto Del Rio, The Miz, Daniel Bryan, Kane, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, and Mark Henry, Punk has proven to his doubters and naysayers that he is, in fact, an extremely credible title holder. His most monumental victory came in one of the main events of WrestleMania XXVIII against Jericho himself where he forced Y2J to submit to the Anaconda Vise maintaining possession of his prestigious prize. However, 31 fans have speculated in recent months that Punk has gone many in his role as a fan favorite and have suggested a heel turn for the Straightedge Savior. With his merchandise sales hotter than ever and his popularity

at an all-time high, I personally believe that turning him back into a dastardly villain this early could damage his character. Nonetheless, if Punk continues to dominate the Raw roster for the remainder of 2012, we could quite possibly see him become one of the longest reigning WWE Champions in modern history. Final Score:


Punk’s classmate and fellow World Champion Sheamus has also proven over the last six months that 2012 has been his year to shine. Although his first two WWE title victories in 2009 and 2012 propelled him into the main event scene rather quickly, they did nothing but force the Celtic Warrior to start from scratch last year. As a newly-turned face, Sheamus has yet to look back, scoring multiple victories over the likes of Christian, Mark Henry, and Daniel Bryan among others. In the opening match at WrestleMania XXVIII, Sheamus picked up the most monumental win of his career by defeating the American Dragon in nearly 18 seconds to capture his first World Heavyweight Champion. Since then, Sheamus has been plowing through the blue brand and has shown promise as one of its brightest stars. However, similar to Punk, many viewers have grown tired of the fighting Irishman’s happy-go-lucky character in recent months and begging for a change. If Sheamus were able to tweak his gimmick just a bit, I could see the remainder of 2012 being in his favor. Final Score:

John Cena

Ah, the teacher’s pet, John Cena. At the start of year, many speculated that 2012 would be no different than any other year: Cena as the reigning WWE Champion for most of it. However, those very same fans (me included) were sadly mistaken. Although Cena was able to emerge victorious in his feud with Kane earlier in the year, he came up short in was quite possibly the most important match of his career against The Rock in the main event of WrestleMania XXVIII. While his feud with Brock Lesnar was intriguing at first, it quickly died down and ended on a sour note with the 12-time WWE Champion pulling out the unneeded victory. Following that, Cena spent the next two months feuding with both former Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis and his lackey Big Show. That rivalry was also nothing to write home about, and left us with the same image we’re all so used to seeing: Cena standing tall. Cena’s infatuation with rekindling old rivalries must end if there’s any hope of a change in character for him. The other major issues with Cena this year is the fact is that he has no direction and has been basically bouncing around from feud to feud without any real motivation. Although Cena should invest in taking a school vacation or at least some time off, the roster is so thin at the moment that it’d be a major blow to the roster if he did. That being said, one can only hope that Cena can reset his sights on something important for the latter half of 2012, and by that I don’t mean the WWE Championship. Final Score:

Daniel Bryan

Going from the quietest student in class to the most improved, Daniel Bryan has undoubtedly made quite the impact over the course of 2012. Some would argue that Daniel Bryan’s Money in the Bank victory last July was his breakout moment, but his time didn’t truly come until the start of 2012. After 32 at successfully cashing in the opportunistic briefcase to win the World Heavyweight Championship @HitTheRopes on Twitter last December’s TLC event, Bryan gradually turned into one of the most obnoxious yet brilliant heels on the entire

roster. Following title defenses inside Steel Cages and an Elimination Chamber, the American Dragon dropped the strap to Sheamus at WrestleMania XXVIII’s opening match in a mere 18 seconds. However, Bryan’s title loss resulted in an advance for his character, as he became 10 times more aggressive both inside and outside the ring. While he may always come up short of capturing another World Championship, he continues to provide solid match-ups, whether his opponent be Sheamus or CM Punk. Bryan’s change in character since January has been absolutely amazing, and it’s only a matter of time before he reclaims his spot atop the WWE. Final Score:

Big Show

Big Show has always been known for bouncing around the card, whether it be in the mid-card, tag team division, or in the world title picture. This year was no different, as he managed to go full circle over the last six months. Following an unsuccessful chase for Daniel Bryan’s World Heavyweight Championship earlier in the year, he then set his sights on Cody Rhodes’ Intercontinental Championship. After weeks of complaining about not getting his “WrestleMania moment,” Show defeated Rhodes to win the prestigious prize at WrestleMania XXVIII, only to lose it at the subsequent pay-per-view Extreme Rules. At Over the Limit, Show then proceeded to turn heel out of almost nowhere on John Cena, the same familiar foe he went on to lose to at No Way Out. Show is always better when he’s putting younger talent over, especially since he’s at the tail end of his career. However, the World’s Largest Athlete hasn’t done much of that lately. Even now, Show continues to battle Cena despite losing to him a few weeks back, so I’m not exactly all that excited for what WWE has in mind for Show going forward. Don’t get me wrong, Show’s heel turn does indeed have potential, but if it isn’t leading to something we’ve all been anticipating such as Show versus Shaq at WrestleMania IXXX, then Big Show is nothing more than wasted space on the roster. Final Score:

Randy Orton

Where there is the top of the class, there’s always that one slacker. After having a pretty solid year in 2011, Randy Orton’s career took a turn for the worse heading into 2012. Orton spent the first few weeks of the new year recovering from a back injury sustained late last year before unsuccessfully returning to action at the Royal Rumble event. He then set his sights on recapturing the World Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber in February, but another injury prevented him from competing in the contest. As plans changed, Orton was then placed in an impromptu rivalry with Kane, whom he lost to at WrestleMania XXVIII. Despite a victory over the Big Red Monster at Extreme Rules, it didn’t help his momentum all that much. Following an unsuccessful attempt in reclaiming the World title at Over the Limit, Orton was indefinitely suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy, rendering him inactive for the WWE until July at the very least. On top of all that, Orton’s popularity amongst the WWE Universe has decreased significantly, as his fan favorite 33 has since gone incredibly stale. Additionally, his matches throughout persona the year aren’t nearly as strong as his performances from last year with Christian and CM Punk. It’s clear that 2012 is simply not Randy Orton’s year, and

one can only hope he starts off fresh upon his return to the ring whenever that may be. Final Score:

Chris Jericho

Following a year-long absence away from the squared circle, Chris Jericho made his highly anticipated WWE return on the premiere edition of Raw in 2012. He immediately shifted his focus to WWE Champion CM Punk, who he claimed was the copycat of the class. Cheaters never proper, and Jericho was out to prove that. However, whenever it mattered most, it was always Punk who prevailed. Whether it be at Elimination Chamber, WrestleMania XXVIII or Extreme Rules, Punk maintained possession of his WWE Championship the entire time. While that was, of course, beneficial for the Second City Saint, Jericho was left looking like a fool. At Over the Limit in May, Y2J once again came up short in his match for the World Heavyweight Championship against Sheamus. It seems like Jericho just can’t catch a break, as he was shockingly suspended for 30 days that same week following an international incident in Brazil. Although the Fozzy rock star has since returned, his credibility is at an all-time low. Sure, it’s great that he’s putting over younger talent and partaking in great matches, but there comes a time when Jericho needs to be allowed to shine as well. While I don’t see a World Championship reign in his future, he could at least win a few more important matches by year’s end in order for his third WWE return to be deemed somewhat successful. Final Score:

Dolph Ziggler

Of all the students in the class, Dolph Ziggler looks to be the most promising. He kicked off the year as the number one contender to the WWE Championship, embroiled in a rivalry with reigning champion CM Punk. Although Ziggler came up short of capturing the gold at the Royal Rumble event, he looked incredibly impressive in defeat. Shortly thereafter, the bleached-blond Superstar was treated as an afterthought on the Raw roster for the next few months. Despite emerging victorious at WrestleMania XXVIII, Ziggler subsequently suffered multiple losses and seemed to be getting lost in the shuffle. Luckily, his character has been given a bit more focus in recent weeks as he’s since distanced himself from Jack Swagger and has established himself as a threat to the World Heavyweight Championship. While Ziggler’s selling is certainly a sight to a see, he needs to accumulate some more victories if he wishes to take the next step on the climb to becoming the World Champion he’s destined to be. With Money in the Bank right around the corner, one would imagine Ziggler winning the annual ladder match and using the opportunistic briefcase to his advantage. Also, if he can just leave Vickie Guerrero behind, it will be then that Ziggler can finally achieve his goal of capturing the prestigious prize. Final Score:


Following a lackluster year in 2011, Kane’s career was taken to new heights going into 2012 with his 34 newly revamped on mask, entrance music, and attitude. Upon his return to the ring, he quickly targeted @HitTheRopes Twitter the biggest star in the company in the form of John Cena and decimated him on multiple occasions.

His loss to Cena at Elimination Chamber didn’t do much to damage the destructiveness and mystique of his persona, as he went on to cleanly defeat Randy Orton at WrestleMania XXVIII. Sure, he came up short in the feud against Orton, but the Big Red Monster was finally able to move onto bigger and better things. After making quick work of Zack Ryder at Over the Limit, Kane entered the WWE Championship picture while making rivals in CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. During the course of the feud, Kane took an extra interest in AJ, who seemed to be leading all three men on. Kane was the kid in class who got bad grades due to putting all of his attention on the cutest girl in class rather than his own work, which, in the end, cost him the WWE title. Regardless, Kane broke it off with AJ on the subsequent edition of Raw once he realized she was only holding him back. It’s safe to say that an interesting layer was added to Kane’s character in 2012, which has made him more intense, determined, and entertaining at times. Kane doesn’t need a championship to stay intimidating, but rather the right rivals to keep him busy. Final Score:

Alberto Del Rio

You know that one kid in class that always used to get all the attention but then just randomly fell off the radar? Well, that’s Alberto Del Rio. He was pushed to the moon during his first 15 months with the company, having won the Royal Rumble, the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase, and WWE Championship twice during the course of 2011. However, on the final Raw of the year, Del Rio was sidelined with a groin injury that would see him out of action until after WrestleMania XXVIII. Although he scored a victory over the World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus in his first match back, his title opportunity was transformed into a Fatal 4 Way at Over the Limit, where he was unsuccessful in capturing the title. He received another opportunity at No Way Out the following month, but was forced to forfeit his title match due to a concussion he suffered a week prior to the event. At this point, there’s hardly any hope left that Del Rio will reclaim the golden prize anytime soon, especially with the dominating Sheamus as the current champ. Another recurring issue he’s having is the fact that he’s just not at all interesting, whether it be his matches or on the mic. Del Rio can shine given the right opponent, but his act is so stale that he’s in desperate need of a change. If he can stay healthy, I could possibly see him regaining some lost momentum by year’s end. Final Score:

Cody Rhodes

Cody Rhodes is the student that has major potential, but struggles with minor setbacks. While 2011 appeared to be his breakout year, the loss of his mask also meant the loss of his heat. Sure, he now looks the part of a World Champion, but he’s in need of a gimmick that can catapult him to the top of the roster. For the first quarter of the year, Rhodes was the Intercontinental Champion but, in anticlimactic fashion, dropped the title to Big Show at WrestleMania XXVIII. Although he managed to regain the title at Extreme Rules in a flunky fashion, he once again lost the strap to the returning Christian in an impromptu match at Over the Limit. It’s been all downhill since then, as he failed to reclaim the prestigious prize at No Way Out and was unable to qualify for the SmackDown Money in the Bank Ladder Match. 35 There’s always the possibility that Rhodes sneaks his way into the contest, what good would it do? He hasn’t done

anything dastardly in months, thus making the fans lose interest in him. If he were to win Money in the Bank and go on to become World Champion, it’d be nothing more of a repeat of the Jack Swagger incident in 2010. Rhodes needs some more time before he can be taken as a serious threat to the world title, and that can be done by rebuilding his character for the remainder of 2012. His momentum has been all over the place this year, so it’s a shame to see a future star treated so poorly. Final Score:


Although Christian’s heel turn last year had the potential to be something much greater, it didn’t do much but allow us to watch him lose every match he competed in. Unfortunately, things went from bad to worse for Christian last November when he injured his ankle at a house show in Europe, keeping him out of action for a number of months. Although he returned earlier this year to join Team Johnny for WrestleMania XXVIII, he was taken off television yet again only days prior to the grandest show of the year once officials realized he wasn’t quite ready to return to action. Two months later, Christian made a shocking appearance a part of the People Power battle royal at Over the Limit and ended up emerging victorious, earning himself a shot at the Intercontinental Championship later in the night. Captain Charisma went on to defeat Cody Rhodes for the title and successfully defend it against the multi-generation star at No Way Out. We all know that Christian, of course, deserves his rightful “one more match,” but in the meantime, he’s enjoying a nice run as Intercontinental Champion and providing entertaining matches with the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and The Miz among others. The Canada native should hang onto the gold for the remainder of the year, before eventually retiring with one last run as World Champion. Christian could have accomplished some great things this year had he been healthy, but his inactivity keeps him from earning a higher grade. Final Score:

Santino Marella

For every studious student there’s a class clown, and WWE’s resident joker is of course Santino Marella. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, Santino has been relevant for a majority of this year. He took participation in the 2012 Royal Rumble seriously in the weeks leading into the event, although it culminated with an in-ring showdown with Mick Foley’s Mr. Socko. With Randy Orton out with an injury, Santino played the ultimate opportunist and replaced the Viper in the World Heavyweight Championship Elimination Chamber. He lasted much longer than many thought he would, having been the last man eliminated after submitting to Bryan’s LaBelle Lock in the match’s final moments. Only a few short weeks later, Marella captured his first United States Championship from Jack Swagger on Raw, a title that he still has possession of today. Although he didn’t win, he was also able to play an important role as the leader of Team Teddy at WrestleMania XXVIII. At Extreme Rules, he picked up an upset victory over former WWE Champion The Miz to successfully defend his title. While he hasn’t done much since then, the Milan Miracle still continues to garner more wins than losses and was even able to qualify for the World Heavyweight Championship Money in the Bank Ladder Match. It’s no secret that 36 Santino is over@HitTheRopes like crazy, buton it’s Twitter also evident that he doesn’t need the star-spangled prize in order to receive said reaction. Sure, Santino may never be a World Champion, but it’s safe to say that 2012 has been one of the better

years for him since his WWE debut over five years ago. Final Score:

The Miz

How does one go from top of the class to the bottom of the barrel so quickly? Usually, it’s because that certain student does something to deserve the punishment, and The Miz’s numerous miz-takes over the last six months have earned him the spot he currently holds. At one point last year Miz was the reigning WWE Champion and atop of the company as one of its most promising young stars. However, following his loss of the title, Miz’s career and future on Raw was deemed irrelevant and was even blamed for the lackluster number that the Survivor Series pay-per-view drew. To make matters worse, Miz was unceremoniously treated like complete crap heading into 2012 after accidentally dropping R-Truth to the hard floor during a match on Raw in January. From that point forward, the Awesome One embarked on a lengthy losing streak that didn’t see him pick up a victory until WrestleMania XXVIII. Following the event, Miz was randomly dropped from television altogether other than a one-off match against United States Champion Santino Marella during the Extreme Rules pre-show. He’s appeared sparingly since then, and was even squashed by Brodus Clay in a brief contest at Over the Limit. After a loss to Intercontinental Champion Christian on Raw, Miz declared he deserved better before eating an RKO at the hands of Randy Orton. Miz was then removed from television in order to film The Marine 3, but one can only hope his career is taken a bit more seriously upon his return. He’d fit nicely on SmackDown, where he could take his rightful place as a main event player, regardless of whether he’s heel or face. Final Score:

Kofi Kingston

Most students always strive to do better, but there are also a handful of students who are content at where they’re at and usually receive the same stagnant grades. The same can be said for Kofi Kingston, who really hasn’t progressed all that much since being de-pushed in late 2009. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a major supporter of Kingston and his tremendous athletic abilities, but nothing has really changed about his character in recent years. Regardless, the Ghana native continues to wrestle at an amazing pace and made his opponents look golden during his matches. Following the suspension of his Air Boom partner at the start of the year and loss of the WWE Tag Team Championship, Kingston looked to breakout as a singles star going into the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber. After he was unsuccessful in capturing the title, Kingston formed an alliance with R-Truth, who he went on to partner with from that point forward. They captured the WWE Tag Team Championships in late April and have been a successful tandem ever since. However, I do question the move, as Kingston would make a much bigger star on Friday nights rather than being stuck in mid-card hell on Raw. The first half of 2012 hasn’t been all that bad for Kingston, but it hasn’t been all that memorable either. Final Score: 37


While there are students who do eventually improve, they somehow manage to take two step backwards in reverting back to their same old ways and are relegated back to where they started. R-Truth is a prime example of that exact situation, as his turn from heel to face at the start of 2012 made me lose any interest I had in his character from last year. His heel turn last April was absolutely brilliant, and despite being classified as a veteran in the company, Truth was shaping up to be one of the hottest commodities WWE had to offer at the time. His suspension from last November is what forced him to revert back to a fan favorite, feuding with former tag team partner The Miz upon his return. Their feud was treated as an afterthought on Monday nights, and while Truth was the one who got the upper hand, it wasn’t seen as a big deal whatsoever. He was quickly eliminated from the Royal Rumble as well as the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber, and suffered yet another loss in tag team action at WrestleMania. Fortunately, Truth was placed in a tandem with Kofi Kingston in an attempt to save his dying career. One night removed from Extreme Rules, the two captured the WWE Tag Team Championships and have been the reigning title holders ever since. Nonetheless, it’s a true shame to see one of the hottest heels of 2011 in R-Truth revert back to his rapping shtick that never really seemed to get him anywhere the first time. When he and Kingston eventually drop the titles, I hope to see Truth climb back in the ranks and reclaim the spot he had at one point last year. Final Score:


AJ quickly went from a former NXT Rookie that nobody knew to the girlfriend of Daniel Bryan to the most entertaining act in WWE today. At first, it seemed as if she’d be turning heel alongside Bryan back in January when she was unintentionally helping him win matches. After Bryan broke up with AJ on the SmackDown following WrestleMania, many speculated that she’d eventually aid him in helping him win back the World Heavyweight Championship. However, things took an unexpected turn in April when AJ began to develop traits of being mentally unstable and became obsessed with Bryan. As time progressed, she expanded her interests to Bryan’s arch-nemesis CM Punk as well as Kane going into No Way Out, where she helped Punk successfully retain his WWE Championship. Now, it’s unclear as to where her allegiance lies as she was named the official special guest referee for the WWE title match between Punk and Bryan at Money in the Bank in a few weeks. She’s opened more shows in recent months than any other Diva in recent history, which just goes to show just how over she has become with the WWE Universe. While it may be too early to throw her in the Divas title picture, I can certainly see her winning singles gold by year’s end. Final Score:

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Following a year-long recovery from injury, Layla made her return to the ring at Extreme Rules to win the Divas Championship from Nikki Bella. While it was great to see Layla back, those in attendance, along with everyone watching at home, were expecting Kharma to make her anticipated comeback instead. That explained the lack of reaction the English muffin received when she made her entrance that night. Nonetheless, she’s a pretty good worker inside the ring and has produced a handful of decent matches as champ. Sure, the Divas division isn’t as strong as it once was but Layla is making the best of it by picking up multiple victories. I do see her holding the gold a little while longer since there aren’t many contenders left for her to face, but she should definitely work on getting the audience invested into her character. Final Grade:

Beth Phoenix

By April, Beth Phoenix was on the verge of becoming the longest-reigning Divas Champion in WWE history. That all came crashing down when she dropped the title to Nikki Bella on an edition of Raw, which also saw Phoenix endure an “injury” that she used as the reason why she lost. She contended for the title at both the Over the Limit and No Way Out events against Layla, but to no avail. She’s a great worker, but her character hasn’t been interesting since she first turned heel. Even when the Glamazon was champion earlier in the year, she hardly defended her title due to the lack of television time she received. Putting the strap back on her at this point would be a questionable move, but there’s not much she can do as we await her dream feud with the returning Kharma. Final Score:


Since her WWE debut, there was nothing that really distinguished Eve from her classmates. However, once she was given motivation, she immediately skyrocketed to the top of the class. Eve was linked to Zack Ryder for a short period of time at the start of 2012 since it seemed as if she fell for him at first. Over the course of the next month Eve revealed her true intentions were to use the Long Island Iced Z to get herself ahead in the pecking order. Oddly enough, Ryder forgave her shortly thereafter, but the two once again split at WrestleMania XXVIII when the 2007 Diva Search winner cost him a match. She then took the role of Executive Administrator for Raw General Manager John Laurinaitis a few weeks later, but hasn’t appeared on television much since May due to taking time off to filming a new TV series. Her on-air role as of now has yet to be determined since Big Johnny has since been removed from power, but I hope to see he re-enter the Divas title picture against Layla or even take the reins of Monday Night Raw. Whatever the future holds for the lovely Eve, she’s certainly solidified herself as the most hated woman in all of wrestling at the moment. Final Score:


Final Analysis While I may not be as attractive of a teacher as Michelle McCool or as easy of a grader as Matt Striker, I attempted to put my bias and favoritism aside for certain students in hopes of providing you were with an accurate evaluation of each WWE Superstar’s performances over the last six months. I encourage all students to take my comments under consideration and proceed to finish 2012 with determination and on a high note. You’re dismissed! You can read more of Graham’s work at

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One night when I was 8, my dad was driving through a parking lot in my grandfather’s van at roughly 10-15 mph. I took my seat belt off and before my dad could realize what was going on, I threw open the sliding door of the van and without hesitation jumped out. As soon as my feet hit the pavement, I flipped forward and skidded, scraping my legs up pretty bad. My dad quickly slammed on the breaks and got out of the car. I laid there for a few minutes while he checked out my legs. They were scraped up pretty bad. He asked me if I was okay, and why the hell did I do that. Ashamed and in pain, I mumbled something about wanting to be like Batman.

alley. WWE superstars are portrayed as larger than life athletes that can withstand any obstacle thrown in their path. They are heroes and villains, and sometimes it is hard to tell who is on what side. A parallel can be drawn between the world of sports entertainment and the world of comics. So, without further delay, I give you The Dark Knight Rises, WWE style.

Batman – CM Punk

Most parents would have yelled, screamed, and lectured about how dangerous it is to jump out of a moving vehicle. Let’s be honest, I should have got a whoopin’. My dad chuckled and told me that I looked like a “defective Batman.” He told me I needed to start running as soon as my feet hit the ground in order to avoid falling. We got back in the van and I asked him if I could try it again. This time I jumped out, started running, and pulled off my stunt. My legs felt like they were on fire, dripping For the role of Batman, one name stood out to me. CM blood and I had a good ¼-lb of gravel embedded in my Punk. To me, Batman is not an obvious hero. Bruce wounds but in that moment I felt very Batman-esque. Wayne had wealth, success, and on paper, wanted for very little. Yet, he spends his nights ridding the streets of For as long as I can remember, I have always had an Gotham City of thugs and criminals. On the surface it obsession with Batman. I watched the show, read the would seem that Bruce Wayne is just a caring guy comic books, saw the movies, etc. I even own a book trying to protect his city. However, his motives for called Becoming Batman and I used to fall asleep to my doing so are not so simple. Becoming Batman was the dad playing the theme song on his bass at night. I am only way for him to process and recover from losing also quasi obsessed with wrestling, namely the WWE. his parents, to criminals, at a young age. It is a form With the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Bat- of therapy for the “tortured” billionaire. Which begs the question, will there ever come a time when Bruce man trilogy set to hit theaters July 20, it got me thinking. What if the Dark Knight Rises was recast with Wayne will no longer need to be Batman? Gotham City may always need protection, but will he always rise to wrestlers? the occasion? Surely, if you have seen the hideously awesome debacle that was Joel Shumacher’s Batman & Robin, you With his indy background, smaller frame, and lack of may have noticed that the juiced up Bane looked like he conformity, CM Punk was an unlikely star who, much like Batman, answers to his own moral code. After the would have been right up Vince McMahon’s

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infamous “Pipebomb” promo ushered in the “Summer of Punk,” he was a permanent main event player and a savior to those looking to see John Cena dethroned. Much like the city of Gotham needs Batman, we need CM Punk. “Batman is proof you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero… and the poster boy for what a bad childhood can do to you.” –DC Comics Much like Batman didn’t need superpowers to be a superhero, CM Punk is proof you don’t need bulging biceps to take over the WWE.

Bane – Kane

Considered by some to be one of Batman’s greatest adversaries and known as “The Man who Broke the Bat,” Bane is a lethal combination of strength and intellectual prowess. Much like Batman, he is a victim of circumstance. Spending his childhood in a Pena Dura prison, he quickly adapted to prison life until he ruled the prison with fear. Due to his rising control, he was used as a test subject for the “Venom Project” in the prison. It gave Bane incredible strength but also terrible side effects if he does not retake the poison on time. You would think finding a Bane-like counterpart in


the WWE would be easy given McMahon’s love for big men. However, to me, Bane is a complex character and even though he is known for his strength, I feel his intelligence is often overlooked and overshadowed by his muscles. It may seem obscure, but Kane seems to fit the build. He is big, intelligent and maniacal. Over the years we have seen his character evolve and shift to being bigger, better, and more twisted. He always had strength and size on his side, but over the past year he has shown us his darker, intelligent side showcased in the games he plays with his foes.

Commissioner Gordon – John Cena

Commissioner Gordon is a beacon of light amidst a corrupt city. Along with Batman, he fights to keep corruption out of Gotham City Police Department and relies on Batman to help keep the streets of Gotham safe. While he doesn’t always agree with his vigilante methods, there is no arguing that Batman gets the job done which spawns a mutual respect between the two. John Cena seemed to fit the bill for Gordon. He is all about loyalty, respect, and good persevering. He might not always agree with his fellow superstars methods but if they are fighting in the name of good, he can usually be counted on to join the fight.

Catwoman - Eve

episode of Monday Night Raw AJ Lee came skipping out to the ring dressed as Kane and my brain immediately made a connection between the two. Sexy, crazy, and having a thing for the criminally insane (Kane), AJ not only looked like Harley Quinn, donning a half black, half red costume, but her carefree craziness channeled her personality perfectly. You can check out more of Ashley’s work at

Catwoman is a street savvy femme fatale that has no problem using her feminine wiles to get what she wants or to elude Batman. Though her back story has changed over the years, bad circumstances lead her to turn to a life of crime, specifically burglary. She is skilled in martial arts and though considered a dangerous Gotham villain, does not resort to murder. That, mixed with her charm and beauty, keeps Batman from wholeheartedly attempting to apprehend her. I cast Eve as Catwoman because she has proven to be a dangerous combination of brains, beauty, and ruthlessness. She used Zack Ryder and John Cena to get to the “top” (People Power).

Honorable Mention Harley Quinn – AJ Lee

When I watched The Dark Knight, I was sad to see Harley Quinn didn’t make the cut. Even though she is not part of the Nolan franchise, she is near and dear to my heart. One of the most underrated Gotham City villains (in my opinion) Dr. Harleen Quinzel was determined to get to the top. After securing an internship at Arkham Asylum, she sets her eyes on the Joker. Reforming him would guarantee her career success. However, she quickly falls for the Joker and becomes a Gotham City villainess. On the June 24, 2012 @HitTheRopes on Twitter


Stephen Ajamie | @stephenA1181


elcome to another edition of Rockin’ the Ropes with Stephen Ajamie. Last month, I talked about the idea of music and wrestling altogether, and this month I wanted to throw out another musical idea.

As wrestling fans I am sure we’ve all thought about what would be our entrance music. I know that I am a fan when I think, “Oh man, why can’t this song be playing when I enter the room?” What if you were on the job hunt, and you could have a song play as you came in? Therefore, I have five songs that I wanted to throw out as my choices for my own entrance. “Paradise City” by Guns and Roses - It’s a song that has a great beginning that everyone can sing along with, and it could get you going. Sure I could have picked Welcome to the Jungle, but I’ve always enjoyed this song more, and thought it would be great to come out from the curtain.

“Uprising” by Muse - This song screams wrestling to me. It’s got such a great chorus that you could really use for short intro song. It moves along at a great pace, and it’s definitely a song that people can get stuck in their head.

“Seven Nation Army” by White Stripes - I’ve seen the Indiana Pacers use this as their team introduction song, and think it would definitely work as my own entrance theme. Especially if you just use that bass part over and over. “Hells Bells” by AC/DC - The beginning of this song might be the best part of the song. I am sure the Undertaker never used this song before.


“Panama” by Van Halen - Almost hadn’t thought about this song until it got running in my head. You have those drums beating away and that great guitar. Yes, this song really would be a great choice.

I am sure there are so many more songs to use, but these five just jumped to my mind as I would be waiting in that gorilla position to make my entrance. The crowd would be getting antsy wondering who might appear, which is why “Cult of Personality” worked so well last summer for CM Punk. This would be right around the time when Punk won the title, went away for a week, and came back to that song and has been using it every since. You know I had to throw that out there. “I tell you 1 and 1 makes 3, I’m the Cult of Personality”

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Catch Up on Past Issues


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ollowing WWE Extreme Rules in April, WWE is once again going through a period of dry, predictable, and almost passable programming. The Rock is off filming new movies, Brock Lesnar is working a very selective contract, and many of the WWE mainstays are enduring injuries or serving suspensions. Nonetheless, one program that has truly kept me intrigued and watching weekly has been the dynamic between CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and AJ Lee. Most unexpectedly, it isn’t CM Punk’s pipe bombs or Daniel Bryan’s phenomenal ability to wrestle in the ring that is keeping the feud fresh and unpredictable. Although Bryan and Punk have done their part to make this rivalry stimulating and watchable, it is AJ that has been the main component in keeping this program white hot and an absolute blast to watch. Week in and week out, AJ is the energetic character that people are tuning in to watch. The fans, whether they be casual, “marks,” or anything in between have been watching to see just what on Earth AJ is going to do next. For the first time since Kharma’s short reign of dominance, before a leave of absence due to her pregnancy in early 2011, I have been excited to see a WWE Diva on my television screen. Besides Kharma, I have not been as motivated to watch Divas action since Mickie James, Trish Stratus, and Lita were all regulars in the division together in 2006.


From 2006 to the present day Divas have gotten the least amount of recognition and time on television than anyone else. Divas have traditionally been handed two to five minutes of wrestling per week and have rarely received any character development. The last WWE Divas I remember for their characters are LayCool, but that’s it. Very few Divas in the past six years have been even remotely fascinating. However, AJ Lee’s recent performance has helped me realize one vital point… This inferior treatment of the Divas has been anything but their own liability. While I have always respected and admired the women of the WWE for their hard work and endurance of such a brutal schedule, I never really thought of them as the most talented women in the world if you catch my drift. Don’t get me wrong, most of WWE Divas probably could not hang with Sara Del Rey or MsChif, but these women are a lot more gifted than I once believed. To make myself clear, I never hated the Divas or looked down on their ability, but I considered their television time as passable. Can any of us truly say we tune into Raw or Smackdown each week for Divas competition? Aren’t we all guilty of using their sub-five minute slot to grab a snack or use the bathroom? Bless you if you have found anything in the past few years as compelling, but I just have failed to do so. Sure, WWE consists of some very formidable women’s wrestlers such as Beth Phoenix and Natalya, but their booking is so inconsistent that it’s hard to get excited for them on a consistent basis. There are women who can hang in the ring to a lesser extent such as Layla and Tamina, but they just aren’t interesting enough to care about. WWE simply does not allocate a proper amount of time each week to the women who need the same time for expansion as the men to get over with audiences. That’s simply what it comes down to. Divas don’t get the focus, the care, or the time to prove themselves to be more than a bathroom break for the crowd. At one point I believed that most of them just weren’t good enough to deserve that time. Call me arrogant, but WWE gave us zero reason to invest any time into them. However, as all seemed to be lost there came AJ Lee. Upon arrival on NXT, AJ brought something different to the table. She was cute, spunky, and related to the WWE Universe. Unlike many others, AJ wasn’t just a former model who was here for the paycheck and the fame. Because of this, she was instantly a fan favorite. Unfortunately, she suffered a similar lapse of little to no growth until they paired her with Daniel Bryan. This is when her career took a turn that nobody expected. Following WrestleMania XXVIII, the “Savage & Elizabeth” relationship came to a close as Daniel Bryan shattered the heart of AJ and moved on to become a widespread sensation throughout the WWE Universe. This left AJ in the dust. What was next for her? The only sensible thing of course would follow--the dependent and obsessed AJ became mentally unstable as a result of a broken heart. Immediately, AJ became a “crazy chick” that the WWE fans were enthusiastic to see. For the first time in years, a WWE Diva received time and advanced like no other in previous history.

@HitTheRopes on Twitter


As she became a weekly feature, she garnered a crowd reaction and became an unpredictable element in an already hot feud between CM Punk and Daniel Bryan. Simply put, she was given the ball and ran as far as she could with it. To this day, AJ remains one of the hottest acts in the WWE. Now, named the special guest referee to the WWE Championship match at Money in the Bank,she will be the first woman in ages I am purchasing a PPV to see. AJ has given me hope in the other women of the WWE, however, in a different mannerism. AJ has not given me hope in the Divas wrestling division at all. They are still only handed mere minutes to perform each week to show what they are capable of. On the other hand, AJ has given me hope that these women can and will excel in other roles. Take Eve Torres for example. She was given a similar opportunity earlier in the year with a heel turn, serving as Big Johnny’s assistant. Like AJ, Eve stepped her game up a whole new level and became interesting and dynamic. Eve was the central focus of John Cena’s feuds in early 2012 and AJ has been in the same spot in the past several months. To briefly put it, there is a spot for the Divas on WWE television on a weekly basis. Will they ever get a serious push from WWE Creative to get behind the wrestling division? That has yet to be seen and it seems doubtful at this point. However, WWE getting behind Divas like they have with AJ Lee and Eve Torres in on-air personality roles seems like something most of these women can do better than most of the men. AJ is a lot more watchable at the moment than a good portion of the men. A lot of Divas have similar credentials to provide on WWE TV, and personally, I’d be fine with that instead of having to watch an entire wrestling division they won’t get behind. While WWE will never scrap the Divas division entirely or push all of them to their potential, AJ specifically has given me hope in the Divas. They aren’t all useless and that should become very apparent nowadays. Who here isn’t going to watch Money in the Bank to see what AJ does next? Bottom line is that AJ is opening the door for a resurgence in character development for other women in the WWE. Will it ever happen? Who knows, but one thing’s for sure and that’s WWE has proven they can give the ball to one of their girls and they can knock it out of the park! They aren’t WSU wrestlers, but they sure are capable enough to be over WWE personalities; they can get over!


ickout kayfabe_k @ | u a e r oud Richard B


n July 15th the WWE will host its annual Money in the Bank pay-per-view and wrestling fans are eager to see which one of their favorite stars will climb that ladder to grab the briefcase that holds a contract to destiny, a shot at either the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship.

support putting mid-card superstars in a match like this and the WWE does not have the confidence to give these mid-card superstars a push to the next level of superstardom. Both are sad commentary to say the least.

Some wrestling fans would argue that this concept is a fresh new take on the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and while that is true to a certain extent, all it But a new twist to the WWE Championship Ladder does is continue to hold back WWE Superstars that are Match was added a few weeks ago for Money in the ready to be catapulted into a main event scenario. The Bank, only former WWE Champions can compete in WWE has nothing to gain by putting established stars this match. This match will feature Kane, The Big Show, like Cena, Jericho, Show and Kane other than to try and John Cena, and Chris Jericho, four highly established increase pay-per-view buyrates. WWE Superstars who have each headlined main events Hopefully, this is just a pilot project and the WWE will on several occasions. not make this type of Money in the Bank Ladder Match This new concept goes against the traditional booking a permanent staple of the pay-per-view. But if it of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match and it is just a becomes a permanent decision, then the WWE will just bad idea across the board. Generally, the Money in the be perpetuating the stereotype that they have absolutely Bank Ladder Match featured up-and-coming WWE no confidence in its future roster of WWE Superstars. Superstars that were ready to be pushed into the main event spotlight, or at the very least, were ready to be paired up with established WWE Superstars that could You can check out more of Richardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work at put them over. But with this new concept of having established superstars and former world champions in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match says one of two things: that the WWE thinks its roster is not robust enough to

@HitTheRopes on Twitter



f you’re up on the dirt sheet gossip, or follow either William Regal or Mick Foley on Twitter, chances are you’ve read the name Dean Ambrose. If you’ve had the good fortune of watching him wrestle in FCW, or on the independents under the name Jon Moxley, then you may know what the big deal is. CM Punk called him “Our secret weapon”. Just who is he, and why was he being a real jerk to Mick Foley on the Internet? Professional wrestling is predicated on the audience suspending its disbelief in order to be compelled and engaged by the drama unfolding in front of them. Some achieve it through sheer technical excellence like Bret Hart and Daniel Bryan, others by tapping into their own personality and exaggerating it, like Steve Austin and CM Punk. However, someone creating a unique and compelling persona that isn’t just themselves, dialed to 11, is scarce. As you get older, it becomes harder and harder to be drawn into a wrestler’s character, especially in this day and age where you can read their personal thoughts and musings online, in 140 characters or less. Any incongruence between a character and the person playing it, and the audience will reject it. It’s precisely this, that makes Dean Ambrose so special.

@HitTheRopes on Twitter

In January of 2008, Ambrose cut a backstage promo for IPW. People have made comparisons to Cactus Jack, or Roddy Piper, but a comparison to Charles Manson might be more accurate. Ambrose created an intense, intimate, and entirely disturbing 54

stage, crawling under your skin and leaving you questioning his sanity. This kind of character is played out in films, plays, and literature, but rarely, if ever, in the world of pro wrestling, making it entirely unique. You forget you’re watching a wrestler trying to cut a promo, trying to sell you on something, and instead get lost in the drama he’s creating on screen. Remarkable as well, his transition to the WWE style has taken many by surprise. While not as violent or chillingly distressing, he has retained an overall edge, alerting the audience to something sinister. Not only has he proven great on the microphone, he’s shown himself to be excellent in the ring. Bursting on to the FCW scene in 2011, Ambrose challenged Seth Rollins for his FCW 15 Medal in a series of matches that garnered critical acclaim. Unsuccessful in three attempts, Ambrose would channel his wild focus on William Regal, resulting in yet another classic feud. During a routine WWE Superstar autograph signing attended by CM Punk, Ambrose took to the microphone and verbally attacked the multiple-time World Champion. Teasing what could be a phenomenal feud down the road, CM Punk decided to take it to the ring, defeating Ambrose in a 30-minute encounter. Dean is ready for the big time. A call up to the main roster seems imminent having competed in various dark matches already. During the festivities of WrestleMania week, earlier 55

this year, Dean Ambrose again blurred the lines between reality and fiction, sanity and insanity. Confronting Mick Foley in a hotel lobby, Ambrose accused the Hardcore Legend of negatively influencing a generation through his insane risks. The meeting quickly turned uncomfortably real, leaving many to put forth the age old question always associated with pro wrestling: “Is it real?” Not much in the Internet age can invoke such a question in the Internet wrestling community; a true testament to Dean Ambrose’s ability. Picking up even more momentum, the two took to Twitter to air even more grievances with one another. Unfortunately however, Dean Ambrose was sent home from a Smackdown taping, and the whole angle was nixed, leaving many with only dreams of what could have been. All is not lost however, recently all of Dean Ambrose’s original tweets were deleted, fueling rampant speculation that his WWE TV debut is close at hand. With a roster as thin as it has been in over a decade, Ambrose could be primed to make tsunami-sized waves upon debut. The biggest question mark and concern lies squarely with WWE and its inability to make new stars and utilize talent. With all the tools to become a top-tier talent, and at 26 years of age, the sky is the limit for Dean Ambrose and his dark, brilliant, twisted, dangerous mind.

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MMA RA Pound For Pound List:

Middleweight Division:

1. Anderson Silva 2. Georges St-Pierre 3. Jon Jones 4. Jose Aldo 5. Frankie Edgar 6. Dominick Cruz 7. Junior Dos Santos 8. Dan Henderson 9. Nick Diaz 10. Benson Henderson

1. Anderson Silva 2. Chael Sonnen 3. Michael Bisping 4. Chris Weidman 5. Brian Stann 6. Mark Munoz 7. Tim Boetsch 8. Yushin Okami 9. Hector Lombard 10. Luke Rockhold

Light Heavyweight Division:

Heavyweight Division:

1. Jon Jones 2. Rashad Evans 3. Dan Henderson 4. Mauricio Rua 5. Lyoto Machida 6. Alexander Gustafsson 7. Phil Davis 8. Quinton Jackson 9. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira 57 10. Ryan Bader

1. Junior Dos Santos 2. Cain Velasquez 3. Alistair Overeem 4. Shane Carwin 5. Frank Mir 6. Fabricio Werdum 7. Roy Nelson 8. Daniel Cormier 9. Josh Barnett 10. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

ANKINGS Welterweight Division:

Featherweight Division:

1. Georges St-Pierre 2. Carlos Condit 3. Nick Diaz 4. Josh Koscheck 5. Johny Hendricks 6. Jon Fitch 7. Martin Kampmann 8. Jake Shields 9. Jake Ellenberger 10. Rory MacDonald

1. Jose Aldo 2. Pat Curran 3. Chad Mendes 4. Hatsu Hioki 5. Dustin Porier 6. Marlon Sandro 7. Diego Nunes 8. Dennis Siver 9. Charles Oliveira 10. Patricio Freire

Lightweight Division:

Bantamweight Division:

1. Dominick Cruz 1. Benson Henderson 2. Urijah Faber 2. Frankie Edgar 3. Michael McDonald 3. Gray Maynard 4. Renan Barao 4. Nate Diaz 5. Brian Bowles 5. Jim Miller 6. Scott Jorgensen 6. Gilbert Melendez 7. Eduardo Dantas 7. Michael Chandler 8. Miguel Torres 8. Clay Guida 9. Brad Pickett 9. Anthony Pettis 10. Donald@HitTheRopes Cerrone on Twitter 10. Zach Makovsky

Flyweight Division: 1. Ian McCall 2. Joseph Benavidez 3. Demetrious Johnson 4. John Dodson 5. Jussier Da Silva 6. Yashuhiro Urushitani 7. Mamoru Yamaguchi 8. Darrell Montague 9. Shinichi Kojima 10. Timothy Elliott


Nikolai Gionti | @ Nikolai_Gionti


ride FC started in 1997 and until Zuffa bought out the Japanese promotion it was the biggest competitor for the UFC. It had former UFC champions and some of the best fighters in the world. Anderson Silva, Wanderlei, Shogun, Hendo, and Fedor were all a part of Pride. It was a completely different organization from the UFC. There were head stomps, soccer kicks and head strikes other than punches allowed to a downed opponent. The scoring was also different from the UFC. The fight was judged as a whole rather than round by round. A fighter could lose two close rounds, but if he dominated another round it’s likely that fighter would be given the fight. I am looking at three fighters who never won a UFC title and looking at their odds at winning a title if Pride had merged with the UFC from the beginning. For each fighter I am going to determine how they would have fared in the UFC under the unified rules of Mixed Martial Arts since these were the rules the UFC used. I’ve already mentioned how Pride’s scoring worked. This may be the hardest fighter to judge because of how he got a lot of his damage and finishes in the Pride organization. Throughout his career he used a lot of strikes like knees on the ground, stomps and soccer kicks. Silva went 22-6 during his stint and won 18 straight fights during Pride. He had fast hands, vicious strikes and a chin to match. In Pride, he defeated former UFC light heavyweight champion


Rampage Jackson twice and light heavyweight No. 1 contender Dan Henderson at 205 pounds. The Axe Murderer fought at both 185 and 205 pounds while in Pride. He had more success at light heavyweight, but in the UFC would have had to gone up against Tito Ortiz or Chuck Liddell, both who he lost to. His best bet would have been to earn a title at middleweight in the UFC. While Silva was in Pride the middleweight champions were Evan Tanner and Rich Franklin. It’s tough to argue he could not have taken the belt from either of them. Especially when Silva was in his prime. It’s almost hard to believe that Dan Henderson has never held onto the UFC belt. He’s 41 years old, has fought the who’s who of mixed martial arts and defeated Fedor Emelianenko. Henderson held both the 185 and 205 pound title in Pride at the same time and to win those belts he defeated Murilo Bustamante and Wanderlei Silva. The middleweight champion in the UFC was Murilo Bustamante, so assuming Bustamante never leaves to go to Pride there’s his belt right there. There is also little doubt in my mind that he could not have beaten Evan Tanner or Rich Franklin. He has also shown toughness throughout his UFC and Pride career. He thrived in Pride and didn’t need to rely on soccer kicks or illegal strikes. In the UFC the champion was Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz. Henderson was a better wrestler than Liddell and could take damage. We saw it in his fight with Shogun and Henderson would have been able to take the overhand right from Liddell. He had better stand up than both Couture and Ortiz and the wrestling was even with both. Henderson would have been able to handle the clinch game against both fighters and with his superior wrestling would have taken control of the fight. Henderson has absolutely outstanding wrestling and can end any fight with just one punch. The key for him would be to utilize his wrestling in the fights as it was his biggest strength in Pride. There is no doubt that Henderson could have held a title in one if not multiple weight classes in the UFC. Henderson will have the opportunity again to win a UFC title when he takes on Jon Jones at UFC 151.

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The fighter some fans view as the greatest heavyweight, if not fighter, of all time. Fedor had a 10-year reign without a loss and defeated the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira three times in Pride, but has some poor names scattered throughout his 10-year undefeated reign. He has defeated an over the hill, although never extremely talented, Tim Sylvia and an over the hill Andrei Arlovski. His biggest issue with earning a UFC title wasn’t the fact he came to the UFC late but the fact that he never got the chance to enter the UFC. Fedor’s management never allowed him to come over without an absurd contract or having the ability to control when and who he fought. When Fedor faced real competition he was overwhelmed and defeated rather easily. Fabricio Werdum submitted him by triangle choke, Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva finished him in the second round forcing a doctor stoppage and Dan Henderson, who had to force himself up to heavyweight, finished him in the first round also. There’s no doubt that Emilianenko could have held a title in the UFC. The heavyweight fighters were Josh Barnett, Frank Mir, Tim Sylvia and Randy Couture. Fedor would have defeated Barnett and Sylvia fairly easily since Sylvia was never an elite fighter. Mir and Couture would have given him trouble though. Mir has outstanding jiu-jitsu and if he got a hold of any limb it would be over. Couture has the wrestling and ground and pound that would give Fedor trouble. He would definitely have earned a UFC title, but never would have sustained a ten year win streak like he did fighting for Pride and Strikeforce. It’s a shame we couldn’t see him fight in the UFC. The heavyweights of the UFC in the past weren’t talented, but fans still regard the UFC as the best in the world. If these three fighters had come over to the UFC earlier or at all we would be seeing three new UFC champions and possibly a completely UFC now. I believe all three of these fighters would have won a title, but they would not have kept their belt very long. Dan Henderson would have had the best chance at keeping his belt along with Fedor in two relatively weak divisions in the UFC. It’s a shame we will never be able to see how the UFC could have changed if Pride merged earlier, but hopefully Henderson can win a UFC title at UFC 151. You can check out more of Nikolai’s work at 61

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Diluted and Depleted?

Scott Cassel | @sdcassel

I r

n the last few years the UFC has increased the number of events it has held, and with the new FOX television deal and further international expansion that trend looks like it will continue into the foreseeable future. At the same time, as the number of events is increasing, the number of injuries that have sidelined fighters and caused significant revisions in fight cards has also increased. There is much discussion in the MMA community egarding both of these issues, and this article will discuss both topics and also if there is a connection between the two.

In five years the number of UFC events has gone from 20 in both 2008 and 2009, to 24 in 2010, 27 in 2011 and more (possibly 32 or so) in 2012. That is an increase of 60%. What affect does an increase of this kind have on the product? Are there enough fighters of quality to fill the increased fights? Does the number of fights dilute the product or does it enhance the product because more fighters get exposure at the highest level? In the short term, having more fights is great for fans because there are fighters that may not otherwise get much exposure at all, and committed MMA fans typically like to get a sense of the up-and-coming fighters to know the future of the sport and who may be contending for titles soon. A larger question is whether the product is diluted (that is, the fights are not as good because of the greater number of them being fought by lower-ranked fighters)? If the product is not as good overall then over the long term fans may become upset with the quality. It is probably too soon to tell definitively if the sport is being diluted. It may turn out that as the UFC expands into more international markets they may generate more fighters to feed the system. Over time the quality of fighters and potential matchups may grow even stronger. Furthermore, the quality of the fights so far this year have not had much to do with the overall star quality of the card. Often the cards have been very uneven in quality, but it has been difficult to see a recurring pattern. Some of the smaller cards have delivered very good fights, like UFC on Fuel where the Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier fight is now a possibility for fight of the year.


On the other hand, what were thought to be big-time and big-name fights have sometimes been disappointing, such as the Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader fight, which was considered by many to be less-than-expected. In addition to the number of events increasing, there have been an alarming number of fighters who have been scheduled for fights and then have had to withdraw due to injury. So far in 2012 the following injury totals have blown up fight card after card: That is 49 fights affected so far through half of the year. Although injuries are a part of MMA given its nature as a contact sport, these levels of injury are unprecedented in recent history. There are several theories as to the cause of the injury outbreak. One is that the ramp-up in fights has caused more fighters to train at a level that is conducive to causing injury. Dana White, President of the UFC, has said as much and has indicated he thinks fighters should train at a less intense level to mitigate the injury problem. Others strongly disagree, saying that hard training is essential for preparation in the Octagon. Also, the fear of under performing or being cut from the UFC has fighters going to great lengths to always be in top form. Never wanting to turn down a fight (even on short notice) often leads to over training, which ultimately causes injuries. Others wonder if the new insurance package adopted by the UFC for its fighters is allowing them to back away from fights with injuries and have them tended to medically, an option that might have not been possible in the past. Still, others believe this rash of injuries to be a statistical blip, and essentially the injuries will level out again in the future. Are the two issues, increased fights and injuries, related? They are in this sense: more fights mean more 4opportunities for injuries to become known due to the withdrawal of fighters from competition. In the past, the sheer number of fighters now on cards was lower, and so even if the same relative number of fighters were injured, it would have never become as newsworthy, because it would not have shuffled the fight cards. It is hard to see how increasing the fight number directly contributes to injuries â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it is not the case that individual fighters are fighting more, so there is not a greater amount of wear and tear on them in that sense. The idea that fighters now have medical insurance and so therefore would be more willing to withdraw from a fight seems initially plausible, but not sensible in the long run. Fighters get paid for fighting, not by being injured, and there is much greater reward and compensation for fighting. It is their livelihood. Should the UFC continue to aggressively add more events? No. I think there should be real caution in scheduling. Already there is a sense among seasoned MMA fans that the cards are weaker, and whether this is true or not, the UFC should be careful to protect the product. Wanting to saturate the market is understandable, but risky. If the product becomes less appealing there is a possibility that the market begins to become immune to more. As to injuries, I think the fighters, trainers, and coaches in MMA need to take a hard look at their training practices. Injuries donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help any of them, especially when fights are cancelled and paychecks are lost, so I believe they will soon revise and adjust to train hard and effectively while minimizing injuries. For fighters, the worst thing that can happen is to train for a fight and then lose the opportunity to go to work and earn a living. Being healthy is an important factor in making that happen, and those involved know this better than anyone. When they do, we all benefit. @HitTheRopes on Twitter


Shogun Rua

1981 Baby Rua Born

1977 Baby Vera Born


def. Rampage Jackson Soccer Kicks 4/2005

def. Ricardo Arona 2005 Pride Middleweight GP Champion

def. Mike Whitehead WEC Heavyweight Championship 1/2005

def. Chuck Liddell via KO 4/2009

def. Frank Mir 11/2006

This bout comes together as Vera got injured while training for a rematch with Thiago Silva. Vera got injured and then Rua replaced him. Then Silva got injured and then Vera replaced Silva to take on Shogun Rua. Wooo, follow all that? def. Lyoto Machida UFC Championship 5/2010

Controversial Loss to Randy Couture 11/2009

2011 Fight of the Year vs. Dan Henderson

Vera vs Rua

defeated, Cut and Rehired after Thiago Silva Failed Drug Test 1/2011

August 4, 2012

Brandon Vera @HitTheRopes on Twitter




n July 21st, 2012 Hector Lombard will be making what is for many fans his long awaited debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Originally from Cuba, Lombard started his journey as a martial artist in the art of Judo. He would eventually become a fourth degree black belt and represent Cuba in multiple Olympic Games. He later took up the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) of which he was awarded his black belt in 2010. Prior to signing with the UFC Lomard has held the Middleweight title in three other organizations, Cage Fighting Championship (CFC), Australian Fighting Championship (AFC) but perhaps is most recognized for his reign as the Bellator FC Middleweight Champion. He has put together an impressive win streak of 20 victories that would read 24 if not for a draw against Kyle Noke back in 2007. He is currently the possessor of the fastest recorded knockout in MMA history, which he achieved against Jay Silva in just six seconds. Lombard has without a doubt made his presence and dominance known in the MMA community, or so you would think. As pretty much every fighter does, (who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fight in the UFC) a stigma has always attached itself to Hector questioning the extent of his abilities. The reason being the level of talent he has faced thus far in his career. He has indeed lost twice in his 35 professional fight, one of which came at the hands of Gegard Musassi in Pride FC. Regardless of his past opponents, why would it take a fighter with a win streak that compares to Anderson Silvaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in length so long to get to the UFC? Interestingly enough, he had actually signed a deal with the UFC and was supposed to debut back at UFC 78. Unfortunately, due to visa issues Lombard was forced to withdraw from the fight and contractual obligations have kept him away since. But now the day finally approaches. So, for those possibly unaware of what Hector Lombard will be bringing to the table when he takes on Tim Boetsch at UFC 149, here is a closer look at his skill set. 67


Anyone who knows anything about this man knows he can strike and likes to do so very much. He has knockout capabilities in both of his hands, as well as his elbows. Lombard is extremely aggressive on his feet and tends to press forward early on. He is never afraid to initiate the action and will often lunge in with big shots forcing his opponent to engage. He is also more than happy to stand in the pocket and trade, holding much confidence in his speed, power and ability to absorb damage. Training at American Top Team Lombard spars regularly with some of MMA’s finest strikers. Though he tend to through mostly power shots he is pretty precise, landing a high percentage of strikes. Seventeen of his 31 victories come by (T)KO totaling 55% of his win column. Most recently he (T)KO’d Trever Prangley at Bellator 58. Prangley, who holds victories over Chael Sonnen, Keith Jardine and Travis Lutter ate a vicious uppercut a minute into the second round. Lombard quickly ended the fight there after with some heavy ground and pound. Worth noting is the fact that he has never been stopped in a fight.


Not only is Lombard dangerous on the feet but he’s dangerous on the ground as well. His black belt in both Judo and jiu-jitsu has led him to seven submission victories. Though some of them were verbal tap outs, Lombard has accomplished toe holds, heel hooks, arm bars against his opponents. His last submission was against Ultimate Fighter finalist Jesse Taylor for the AFC Middleweight championship. It came in the form of a toe hold and was achieved in spectacular fashion. A minute and a half into the second round, Lombard (from Taylor’s guard) quickly stood, grabbed a hold of Jesse’s foot and fell back and applied the submission. The whole process took about one and a half seconds before Taylor was tapping. Lombard is aggressive with his Jiu-jitsu and likes to force his opponents to make mistakes as opposed to displaying patience.


Lombard’s background in Judo can best be illustrated in his ability to toss his opponents to the mat. As with most Judo practitioners, Lombard possesses great core strength which he uses with precision to direct his opponents to the ground, often through a trip. When he fought Brian Ebbersol he was able to do so repeatedly which is no easy task as Ebbersol is a decorated wrestler with great take-down defense. In today’s MMA this is an essential attribute as take-downs are not only useful to control the fight but an excellent method of scoring points in the eyes of the judges. As Hector’s level of competition rises the ability to dictate the level of the fight becomes increasingly important.


When Lombard takes a fight to the ground his opponents are in for a world of pain. Lombard is extremely aggressive on the ground more so then even then the likes of Chael Sonnen or Clay Guida. His ground and pound is some of the most deadly and effective in all of MMA. More than happy to remain in his opponents guard, Lombard will unleash a barrage of short punches and more specifically elbows that can and have ended many fights. They come in such rapid fashion, opponents can only cover up and hope the fight gets stopped. They literally do not even have a moment to tap out.

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Lombard has won seven fights by decision, six of which were 15-minute fights and one a 25-minute championship fight. He does possess great conditioning, especially for someone with his particular aggressive style of fighting. He definitely show signs of slowing down in later rounds and tends to get a little flat footed but still remains highly competitive. He maintains immense power in his punches in later rounds and his ability to get the fight to the ground seems not to diminish at all, despite his heavy breathing. Again, once on the ground, the elbows begin to rain down with tireless fury. Despite all the success he has found in his conditioning it could be the closest thing he has shown to a weakness inside the cage. His two losses both came at the hands of the judges indicating at least two of his opponents were able to get the better of him down the stretch. It must be said though that these were early on in his career and has not lost a fight since 2006.


In one sense, Hector Lombard has great wealth when it comes to experience. With 35 professional fights it’s hard to argue otherwise. He fought almost every kind of fight one can imagine in the sport of MMA. He’s ended fights by (T)KO, submission, and has gone the distance. He’s finished fights in seconds and also fought the full 25. He has been champion in three different organizations experiencing the limelight for all its worth. In these ways, and many others, there are only a select few who have the kind of experience Lombard possesses. However, there is one area where Hector lacks experience and lacks it in a big way. The level of competition he has faced so far has never been top tier. He has never faced a top-ten ranked fighter. This is a fact that cannot be ignored. A fighter is only considered to be better than the men he has beaten and Lombard will have a huge challenge in front of him now that he is in the UFC. This will be the place where he will put the naysayers to rest and show the world what he is made of or go ahead and prove them all right. Either way, he will gain that experience he currently lacks.


All in all, I believe Hector Lombard will be a great addition to the UFC and will live out the rest of his career there. Even if he never becomes the Middleweight champion I believe he will remain among the top contenders of the division. His first UFC opponent Tim Boetsch will be a great first fight for him to get acquainted with the new fan base as I believe he will put on a clinic. Win or lose, he is an exciting fighter to watch and will gain the support of UFC fans for his efforts inside the cage. So here’s to you Hector Lombard, welcome to the UFC. Until next we speak, Mr.Wizzle You can check out more from Mr. Wizzle at


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ith all the most recent talk about the UFC Hall of Fame, it leads many to ponder on which fighters deserve to be in a “Mixed Martial Arts Hall of Fame.”

The World Wrestling Entertainment has their hall of fame, yet there’s not a universal hall of fame for the entertainment sport. Knowing UFC has modeled itself after the WWE, it’s likely that there will not be a universal MMA hall of fame. This doesn’t necessarily mean that countries cannot create their own hall of fames to honor their nation’s athletes. Very similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Canada has a “Canada’s Walk of Fame.” Much like the movie, music and literature world, Canada has also produced great fighters who have accomplished a lot in MMA. If there were to be a “Canadian MMA Hall of Fame,” it would be fair to propose these five men be inducted first. 1. Gary Goodridge (23-23-1): Although he wasn’t the first Canadian to compete in UFC, Gary “Big Daddy” Goodridge entered the UFC 8 tournament in explosive fashion before eventually losing to PRIDE veteran Don Frye. After the Kuk Sool Won 4th degree black belt lost the tournament, Goodridge went on to compete in many organizations including Hero’s, PRIDE and K-1 Kickboxing. Goodridge most recently made news for going public about his dementia pugilistica. Dementia pugilistica is a disease that occurs when a person had suffered from too many concussions.


A Proposal For Canadian MMA Hall of Fame Ryan Justason | @ThatMMAGuy

2. Carlos Newton (16-14): Carlos “The Ronin” Newton has defeated the likes of Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons, Pat Miletich and Renzo Gracie. Not only having his fair share of exciting fights, Newton made UFC history when becoming the first ever Canadian Welterweight Champion. Currently retired, Newton teaches at Warrior MMA in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.

3. Denis Kang (35-15-4): Next to Joe Doerksen, Denis Kang is Canada’s MMA journeyman. Not only loved by Canada, Kang is also loved by Koreans due to his Korean heritage. Kang has notably defeated the likes of Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Akihiro Gono and Pat “Bam Bam” Healy. Kang currently competes in the Korean MMA organization Road Fighting Championship. 4. Joe Doerksen (47-16): Joe “El Dirte” Doerksen is arguably Canada’s most accomplished MMA submission artist to date. When Doerksen wins, there is a 70% chance that he will do so via submission. Doerksen has notably defeated Lee Murray, Patrick Cote and Tom Lawlor. Currently, Doerksen is a free agent who has competed in three different organizations in his last four fights.

5. Georges St-Pierre (22-2): Georges St-Pierre (or the man known simply as GSP) is easily the most famous Canadian Mixed Martial Artist of all time. UFC President Dana White would also argue that Georges St-Pierre is the most famous Canadian athlete of all time. Either way, there is no doubt that St-Pierre is Canada’s greatest fighter who has helped raise the economies of both Montreal and Toronto by fighting in the Canadian cities. St-Pierre is currently preparing for a Welterweight Championship bout against Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit.

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July Issue - Marti Belle  
July Issue - Marti Belle  

In the July issue covers an exclusive interview with WSU's Marti Belle. Also inside is a look at Dean Ambrose, when WWE Goes Gotham, a look...