Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Deadly Game? A Simple Plan?

Survivor Series. The 4th PPV in the so called “Big Four” and the second longest running PPV in WWE’s history making its debut in 1987. This year’s instalment will be the 26th.  In looking at the Survivor Series, the word tradition comes up a lot. This is to do with the traditional Survivor Series elimination matches. The premise? A multi-man/woman elimination tag match. Those left at the end of the match are deemed the “survivors”. It’s a simple enough premise that has, some feel, ran its course. When Survivor Series started in 87 the whole PPV was centred around these style matches. Over time they no longer main evented the PPV, which they had done, and moved down the card to allow title matches main event the PPV. Also there were some instalments of the Survivor Series that had only one “traditional” match or no match at all.  Less emphasis on the “traditional” matches will tend to mean less interest from those watching.

In recent years, there has been a shift in having more traditional matches appear. However in 2009 WWE debuted Bragging Rights. Similar to the Survivor Series, the premise would be Team Raw would face off against Team Smackdown in a multi-man elimination match. The major problem was it was scheduled to be the PPV before the Survivor Series. The Bragging Rights concept was dropped fairly quick after PPV buy rates were very low. This should have been an indication that the concept of a multi-man elimination match has ran its course, nobody wants to see the same premise twice in the space of 4 weeks, would anyone watch a PPV centred around Ladder matches and then the next month have a TLC PPV? Around this time there was talk of discontinuing Survivor Series as a PPV. But it was decided that the concept would carry on and we are a week out from the 26th edition of the Survivor Series. The premise still the same. As it stands we will see one traditional match Team Foley v Team Ziggler. There is so much wrong with the build with this match but I won’t get in to that now. The idea of this post is to look at a potential format change to the Survivor Series.

First off I will say I am not in the camp of those who dislike the premise of Survivor Series, there are issues with it but I like the elimination style matches. However, I am one for change and Survivor Series could do with a revamp. When I think about Survivor Series there are 3 Survivor Series PPVs that stick out for me. Those are 97, 98 and 2002. 97 of course for the infamous Screw Job. But for 98 & 2002 it is due to the format change that took place for both of these. The 98 edition centred around a tournament for the vacant World Title. 2002 was the first time we saw the Elimination Chamber. These format changes tied into the Survivor Series ethos. One man was left standing, one man was the sole survivor and more importantly they left with the gold. In 1998 it was The Rock and in 2002 it was Shawn Michaels.

Elimination Chamber already has its own PPV so the possibility of it returning to a Survivor Series PPV is low. As such could the tournament format be the way forward? I am a sucker for tournaments. I think they are great and as such a return to the 1998 format would be welcomed. It could be a number 1 contender’s tournament that takes place on the night. Both titles would be defended on the PPV also. Then the winner of the tournament chooses which title he wants to go for on the night. That way the tournament winner, World Champion and WWE Champion will all have competed on the night. So to win/retain the championship by the end of it means something.

Tournaments can throw up interesting match ups. Recall Shelton Benjamin v Shawn Michaels in the gold rush tournament. There was a match we wouldn’t see normally and in my opinion is one of the best TV matches I have ever seen. We wouldn’t have seen it had it not been in a tournament. A good showing from a mid carder even in defeat will stand to them. For example Justin Gabriel could draw Dolph Ziggler. There is a match we may not see on TV normally. Dolph and Gabe tear it up. It benefits Gabe no end as he isn’t given as much time to shine as Dolph. It’s a tried and tested format that works.

I am going to leave it there for now as I will be talking more about this on the Wrestleview International Desk next Friday. Here is a link to the Facebook page that has all the updates and where to find us-
Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hell in a Cell Preview & Predictions

At the time of writing we are less than 12 hours away from the Hell in a Cell PPV. The spate of gimmick PPV's has divided opinion, some like the idea some not so much. Hell in a Cell provides an odd viewing experience. Whereas TLC has a few more match choices (table match, ladder match, chairs match or a TLC match) Hell in a Cell only has one. On Wrestleview's International Desk hosted by Darragh O'Connor and Coire McCrystal we discussed some of the short comings of the gimmick and the PPV so I won't go through them again, if you haven't heard the programme yet head over to later on and it should be up on the site.

Tonight's card has 6 confirmed matches-
1. Kofi Kingston v The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship
2. Team Hell No v Team Rhodes Scholars for the Tag Team Championships
3. Eve v Layla v Kaitlyn for the Divas Championship
4. Alberto Del Rio v Randy Orton
5. Sheamus v Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship
6. CM Punk v Ryback for the WWE Championship

What is interesting to note is compared to last years Hell in a Cell PPV as of right now there is only match scheduled to take place in the cell, CM Punk v Ryback. Last year had 2 cell matches. So there is a possibility another cell match could be added during the broadcast. So to the predictions-

1. Kofi Kingston v The Miz. A match up that seems to have been thrown together, it appeared that a Miz-Ryback feud was on the horizon until Ryback was thrust into the main event picture. Kofi came on the scene after the break up of his tag team with R-Truth. Kofi picked up the championship at Main Event in a very good match. Miz and Kofi always work well together but feud does seem to be thrown together, it's clear Miz will be moved up to the main event scene and for that reason I see Kofi retaining tonight.

2. Team Hell No v Team Rhodes Scholars. Looking forward to this one. Team Hell No are on fire at the moment, they are focal points of both Raw and Smackdown and get a lot of TV time. As for Rhodes Scholars, they are proving to be a good foil for Hell No. They've left the champs lying a few times getting the upper hand. I believe Team Hell No still has some mileage and they need the belts to carry on as a team, when they lose the titles I think that will be the end of the team. I could see a return match at TLC in a gimmick match with possibly adding one or two more teams. I'm going with Team Hell No to retain.

3. Eve v Layla v Kaitlyn. I can't see any other outcome than Eve retaining. Eve is in the spotlight and getting media exposure and from a business stand point it makes sense for her to have the belt when she is doing the media aspect. Ideally it'd be Kaitlyn but can't see it happening. Sad face.

4. Alberto Del Rio v Randy Orton. This is a match that has potential to stink the place out. Del Rio has plateaud and Orton just doesn't seem interested anymore. Del Rio is just out of the title picture so I can see Orton winning to try and build some momentum for him to move back up into the title picture. Realistically though I'd rather see someone like Barrett move up instead of Orton. As for Del Rio he'll probably hang in and around the upper mid card.

5. Sheamus v Big Show. This is where the title will change hands I believe. But will Show leave with it? Dolph has been hinting of a cash in of the Money in the Bank. At every PPV I hope Dolph does cash in and tonight will be no different. The time is right for him to be champ and to hold it for a while, through Mania. The focus will be on others and having him as champ won't be seen which will suit him. As for tonight, Show picks up the win, they have been building the KO punch as more powerful than the Brogue Kick and Sheamus has had a good run and it would be good to see him as a challenger again. Having something similar to happen to Show as what happened last year when D Bryan cashed in would be interesting to see how they develop the character with another set back. I will go for Show to win either way. Dolph to cash in.

6. CM Punk v Ryback. This was a match that was also discussed on the aforementioned Wrestleview International Desk and once again whatever I write about now will only be a repeat from the show. What will happen? Will Ryback win? Will Punk escape? In all honesty, who knows? This is a match that has piqued the interest of people and it will be the most interesting match to see how it plays out. As of right now, I'd say Punk retains, somehow. But my mind will change as the day progresses.

Those watching tonight do enjoy it and as always thanks for reading. For those who listened to the show also thank you.

Take it easy,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Can He Finish It?

Every now and then a "WWE type" (big, strong, muscles in places most of us don't have places etc) guy breaks onto the roster with huge fan fare. Sometimes they meet the fan fare and become household names, the likes of Hulk Hogan, Brock Lesnar and John Cena are clear examples. Sometimes they get a huge push and fade away like Bobby Lashley, sometimes they never get out of the block like a Marcus Cor Von. 
It could be argued that the archetype WWE wrestler is beginnig to change. The likes of Punk, Bryan, Ziggler, Sandow, Rhodes, Miz etc aren't the Brock Lesnar's or John Cena's of this world however each has found their way into or flirting with the main event scene, which back in the day was exclusively for the muscle bound guys.

On April 6th of this year we saw the latest incarnation of a "WWE type" guy burst onto the scene. His name, Ryback. Ryback isn't a new character to those who have kept up with the product over the years. Portrayed by Ryan Reeves, Reeves has been in and out of WWE since 2004. He debuted in the $1,000,000 Tough Enough with such characters as the Miz, The Boogeyman and eventual winner Daniel Puder. Reeves impressed and was signed to a contract. Assigned to Deep South he was in a few tag teams and floated about in Deep South and in 2006 was moved to Ohio Valley. Mid 2006 he received a 30 day suspension for a failed drug test. He protested this suspension and although it stayed in place he was allowed to return after passing a second test. By the end of 2007 he had been released from Ohio Valley. He returned to Ohio  Valley (now no longer a developmental territory) a year later in late 2008 and won their World Title. He won the title not as Ryan Reeves but as the first incarnation of his character Ryback, a character in the spirit of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator. A couple of weeks later he was re-signed to WWE and was assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling. The Ryback character was eventually dropped and Reeves became Skip Sheffield, a kind of goofy cowboy gimmick is the easiest way to describe it. In 2010, Sheffield was called up to participate in the new initiative known as NXT.

I wrote previously on the premise of NXT. Sheffield was to say the least un-impressive. The goof ball gimmick didn't suit him. His physique and demeanor lended itself more to an intimidating machine who could rag doll his smaller opponents (so you know, Ryback). With the rise of the Nexus, we got to see a bit more of what Sheffield could do in a role that suited him better. He was the groups muscle, the enforcer. He was building good momentum in this role and along with Wade Barrett was becoming the potential break out star of the group. This was curtailed however when during a tag match at a house show he severely broke his ankle. Three surgeries and over a year later he was fit to return.

After working a few months of house shows and dark matches under the Ryback gimmick he redubted as I mentioned earlier in April of this year. From April to September his matches followed the same blueprint. He'd squash a jobber. Then he'd squash 2 jobbers. He was impressive. Big power moves. He hits a clothesline called the Meat Hook which is as impressive as JBL's Clothesline from Hell. His finisher, a muscle buster called Shellshocked is impressive in itself but when he does it to 2 people at once it shows his raw power. During this time I began and I assume others did too when he'd start moving up the roster and beating more credible opposition. He had a mini feud with Jinder Mahal and then moved onto The Miz. He beat The Miz on the Sept 26th Raw early during the show, I was think we were going to see Ryback v Miz for the Intercontinental Title at Hell in a Cell. However, in a bizzare twist by the end of the show Ryback was staring down WWE Champion CM Punk who had cheap shotted Mick Foley. This became a regular occurrence over the coming weeks, he would come down and thwart Punk when interacting with Jim Ross. He'd also come to Vince McMahon's aid after a brawl involving the boss and Punk. But why? Well Punk was scheduled to face John Cena at Hell in a Cell. Cena had to have elbow surgery to remove bone spurs on his elbow. Ryback was the back up in case Cena could not make the PPV. Last Monday on Raw the match was set. Cena was deemed too much a risk to be put in the match so Ryback will face Punk. Cena "passed the torch" as it was and endorsed Ryback to take his place and face Punk.

Where to now though? Ryback since April is undefeated (this along with a few other characteristics has led to comparsions to Goldberg, chants of Goldberg persist at live shows but have been getting quieter and quieter as people are growing to accept him). He has huge momentum. But he can't possibly beat Punk can he? In the space of 6 months he's gone from rag dolling jobbers to being a championship contender. His first real feud is this one against Punk and it's for the title. I can't remember the last time that has happened. In all honesty I don't know if he will win. Stranger things have happened. I believe that Vince and the decision makers now know Cena isn't as invincible as they thought. Along with the elbow injury he his nursing a knee and hip problem too and no one gets younger. Ryback at the age of 30 has 5 years on Cena and bar the ankle injury has had a lot less major injuries than Cena. Like Triple H in 99 who took advantage of a few others being injured and ascended to the top Ryback is now in a similar position. He can make the most of this opportunity and although he may not win the belt, he could solidify his position in the upper reaches of the card. 

Next week I will be doing a preview and predictions of the Hell in a Cell PPV. Also next week I will be on WrestleView's International Desk with Darragh O'Connor and Coire McCrystal discussing what we believe to be the top 5 Hell in a Cell matches in history. Here's a link to the Facebook page where all the details of broadcasting times will be
So please do tune in. Until next week.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who's NXT?

When WWE decided to discontinue their version of ECW in 2010 they unveiled a new show. It was to be known as NXT. The premise was simple, 8 so called "rookies", in reality they were FCW wrestlers to be groomed for the main roster, would be paired individually with a WWE wrestler from the main roster with the goal of one of them becoming the NXT break out star. Each week one of the rookies would be eliminated until one man was left standing. Initial signs were positive. Seeing Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan) on WWE television competing against Chris Jericho in a fantastic match was a highlight of the first series along with the development of eventual season 1 winner Wade Barrett. The first season of NXT also led to the rise of The Nexus who quite clearly made an impact that has lasted as during a Wade Barrett and Justin Gabriel match from last weeks Raw audible chants of "we want Nexus" erupted from the crowd.

Season 2, 3 and 4 saw a gradual decline in what NXT was producing. The shift from in ring work to so called "rookie challenges" was disappointing. Season 2 was won by Kaval (Low Ki). Season 3 an all diva season was won by Kaitlyn. Season 4 was won by Johnny Curtis. After season 4 it was announced that season 5 would be entitled NXT Redemption where those who failed to win in previous seasons could come back and redeem themselves. An ok premise but that season ran for well over a year with little or no direction.

In June of this year a new version of NXT debuted. Essentially it was FCW. The stupid challenges and rookie/pro partnerships were abandoned. In their place, straight up competition with a young and talented roster. FCW was eventually discontinued in August with all titles ceasing to exist and as such NXT is now the developmental territory for new additions to the roster to ply their trade. As such I will now look at who I believe are the 5 gems of the roster that could move on to bigger and better things on Raw or Smackdown when the time comes for them.

1. Richie Steamboat- Son of the legendary Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, the boy has pedigree. The first time I saw Richie was against Damien Sandow for the FCW 15 championship (all matches were 15 minute iron man matches, winner would be one with most pinfalls/submissions). Richie won 2-1 and was crowned champion. A championship he held for 6 months. He is crisp and moves effortlessly around the ring. The highest compliment that can be paid is the he moves likes his father. Since the debut of the new NXT he has put on some entertaining matches against the likes of Leo Kruger and Jinder Mahal. He makes his opponents look good which is a great attribute to have. With age on his side, he's 25, he could have a long and successful career. Will he win a world title? I don't see why not. The shift to the likes of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan as world champions has benefited the smaller competitors. Richie Steamboat is one to watch, he is his fathers son, more so than other second generation wrestlers. Ricky "The Dragon" was a supreme worker who was consistent and reliable, Richie can do the same and possibly surpass his father's legacy.

2. Seth Rollins- Formerly known as Tyler Black, former ROH World Champion. He has won every title in FCW history and is now the current NXT Champion. Simply put. He is that good. Out of everyone on the NXT roster Rollins is "the" guy. He is the one who will likely move to the main roster first and experience success on the main roster. Those who have followed Rollins career know how good he is, for those who have not seen his earlier work I'd recommend his two matches against Austin Aries for the ROH World Championship. Becoming the first NXT Champion clearly shows that he is thought of as one for the future. He is a natural fit for the main roster and the thoughts of seeing Rollins hook up with Punk, Bryan, Sandow, Ziggler are intriguing match ups to say the least. Like Richie he has age on his side as he is 26 years of age. I see him as a natural replacement for CM Punk, when Punk decides to hang up the boots. Similar style and work ethic but different enough in character although there are similarities, particularly in their career trajectories. Punk could easily pass the torch to Rollins.

3. Bray Wyatt- NXT afficionados will recall Bray Wyatt as the former Husky Harris. A third generation wrestler and the only one on my list who competed on Raw and Smackdown. The man behind these characters is Windham Rotunda. Rotunda has created numerous characters/gimmicks in his time since returning to development, however his main reason for returning to development was to drop weight. His latest character that of Bray Wyatt (a Max Cady type character) is just brilliant. Deranged, uncomfortable, volatile and calm all at the same time, Rotunda's portrayal has been something totally different that we haven't seen before. Different characters are what is always needed on the main roster, as a worker he can move like a smaller guy even though he is a big guy. The character is the selling point for Rotunda and as such his work rate comes second (although as a worker I deem him underrated). He tore a pectoral muscle in July and returned at the most recent lot of tapings as a manager. This is another facet to the character that is brilliant, it lends itself not just as a competitor but as a leader of a group where he doesn't have to compete. Out of all the characters on the NXT roster Wyatt is the most interesting and intriguing and the one with longevity.

4. Kassius Ohno- Don't let the ridiculous name fool you, the man formerly known as Chris Hero is a supreme worker. Saddled with a terrible name should be no bother for him as his natural ability and talent shines through. A mainstay of the independent scene for a long time I thought he wouldn't make it to the WWE as unlike the 3 previous competitors he is slightly older at 32 years of age. Whereas Rollins, Wyatt and Steamboat could stay on NXT for a couple of years that happening to Ohno could cost him his prime years away from Raw and Smackdown. Initial signs show that Ohno is thinking along those lines as his performances have been crisp, athletic and have been of a high impact. While I think Rollins will be the first to move, I see Ohno as a close second. He needs the move more so than Rollins. Ohno is a smarmy, witty heel. Once again something different. I don't see him becoming a world champion as time is against him but he could be a great gate keeper and maybe luck out with a title run much like Christian.

5. Paige- This is a sole gut instinct one. They have featured a lot of new divas on NXT. But for me she stands out from the crowd. She isn't the typical diva. She reminds me of a mix of Daffney and Lita. I wish I could write more about her but I don't know much about her apart from she is British. It is a gut instinct and I think she is a "diva" for the future. With the addition of Sara Del Rey as a trainer Paige, will benefit no end as she already has the raw materials and with one of the best to hone those raw skills she could be the gem of the women's division for years to come.

Those are my 5 to watch for the new NXT. Thanks for reading.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Night Of Champions Preview

First off a big thank you to Darragh O'Connor and all those involved in the Wrestleview International Desk for plugging this blog, it means a lot lads and it is hugely appreciated. Now to business, tonight is the Night of Champions PPV where every single title in the WWE is defended. It should be noted that ideally all the titles would be defended on every single PPV but that is another topic for another time. Including the pre show match we have 8 matches to enjoy tonight. So here is the card as it stands-

1. Pre show Battle Royal where the winner will face Antonio Cesaro on the main show for the US Title
2. Antoni Cesaro (c) v Winner of Battle Royal for the US Title
3. Miz (c) v Sin Cara v Rey Mysterio v Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Title
4. Layla (c) v Kaitlyn for the Divas Title
5. R-Truth & Kofi Kingston (c) v Daniel Bryan & Kane for the World Tag Team Titles
6. Dolph Ziggler v Randy Orton
7. Sheamus (c) v Alberto Del Rio for the World Heavyweight Title
8. CM Punk (c) v John Cena for the WWE Title

For the US Title match I see Brodus Clay picking up the win in the Battle Royal to go forward and face Cesaro just from what was teased on Smackdown. I think this could be an interesting match up as Cesaro has proven to have a smash mouth style much like the much bigger Clay. Sometimes similar styles compliment each other and given a solid ten minutes this could work really well. As for who picks up the win? I'd go for Cesaro. I think the time for having the more so light hearted acts like Ryder, Clay and Santino as mid card champions has passed and these titles should be for the up and comers. Cesaro is definitely a future player within WWE and a strong mid card title reign will help him no end so whoever he faces tonight, for me, he retains.

Moving on to the Intercontinental title. Fatal 4 ways can usually be a cluster f**k and tonight I can't see it going any other way. Miz has lost matches to Rey and Sin Cara in recent weeks and Cody jumped him on last weeks Raw. Simple set up for a multi man match. The Intercontinental title seems to be floating about in recent times. Each new champion espouses that they will bring back the prestige to the title. As of yet it hasn't happened. Since WrestleMania 28 the title has changed hands 4 times in 5 months. That's more changes than any other title this year. It has became the hot potato much like the WWE Title was last autumn. Sin Cara ain't winning this, reports from this weeks Smackdown will confirm this. Does Rey need it? At this stage in his career? Probably not. Cody has floundered since dropping the title earlier on in the year.As such another run could help him get back on track. Miz has proved a solid enough champion so why take the belt off him. For this I will go with Miz. The title needs stability and Miz is the current champ so stable the ship with him. Sin Cara needs a huge amount of work done and pairing him with Rey for a while could benefit him going forward. As for Cody? Take him off TV for a while. Re-evaluate the character and bring him back down the line. 

Ah the Divas Title. Normally I wouldn't have much interest but tonight that changes as my favourite Diva has a chance of winning the title for the first time. Those who know me know I am a huge Kaitlyn fan, and always have been. Will she win? My heart says yes but the head says yes too. Clearly they want the title on Eve, which makes sense with the mainstream exposure she is getting.  If we are to believe that Eve was supposed to win the number 1 contender battle royal then it should make sense that Kaitlyn has no chance as she has "fluked" her way in to contention. She has gotten big wins against Beth and Nattie so a suprise win against champion Layla isn't as far fetched as once thought. But then again maybe I'm biased. But still I'm going for Kaitlyn. 

I'll sum up the tag time title match quickly. Kane & D-Bryan win. Simple as. They have been gold recently and as such they shall receive gold...........or bronze in this case. 

The only match tonight not to be contested for a title will be Dolph Ziggler v Randy Orton. This is a match I am looking forward to immensely. This is the show stealer in my eyes. Dolph picked up a win a couple of weeks ago against Orton on Raw and with Orton busy filming 12 Rounds shortly I can see Dolph picking up another win to keep his momentum going as him cashing in Money in the Bank looks more and more imminent. This should be a cracking match.

The World Heavyweight Title match is for a third PPV running Sheamus v ADR. Is anyone else getting tired of this match? Dolph needs to cash in tonight. As for who wins the match I can see ADR winning after shenanigans from Ricardo and Otunga. After he picks up the win Sheamus Brogue Kicks them all and Dolph moves in for the kill. The time is right for Dolph to cash in. The main event scene needs a fresh face for match choices. ADR would have beef as would Sheamus. Orton could be added when he is back from filming. ADR v Dolph & Sheamus v Dolph would be far more interesting to watch than a fourth installment of ADR v Sheamus right?

Finally, the main event. The WWE title match between CM Punk and hometown boy John Cena. The WWE  title has been the focus of Raw for the past 4 weeks and the build for this match has been very good. The addition of Paul Heyman to Punk's heel turn has been a very welcomed development and will add a dimension not seen to Punk's character going forward. Cena has showed some good fire on the mic particularly last weeks Raw and has done his part in the build for the match. Punk v Cena rarely disappoints and tonight should be no different. Going forward I see Punk retaining. They keep talking about the lenght of his title reign and I believe he will make it past the year and drop the title to Rocky at the Rumble. I don't think this will be the last time we see these guys face off, I think that will come next month at Hell in a Cell. But tonight for me Punk wins in Cena's hometown giving him that little bit extra heat he needs in cementing his heel turn.

Well that's that. Those watching live tonight I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for reading. My next blog post will be on the new NXT and the 5 to watch out for. I should have that posted next Sunday/Monday. Thanks for reading and once again enjoy Night of Champions tonight.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Allow me to beg your indulgence...

For my first blog post I was mulling over who to write about, offer an opinion of and discuss in general. It would be easy to pick the likes of Punk, Cena, Lesnar etc. The A-listers as it were. Also the likes of Bryan, Orton and Ziggler (who I have championed for a very long time) would have proved to be a nice first entry but I have decided to go with Damien Sandow, arguably the surprise package of new additions to WWE programming in recent times.

Those au fait with Damien Sandow will know he has been around the block in WWE off and on for nearly a decade. His highest point in his initial run was part of a tag team under the name Idol Stevens, his tag partner was KC James (anyone remember him? Nah didn't think so. The guy lost to Braden Walker, kinda puts it into perspective) and their manager was Michelle McCool. As a team they were dubbed "The Teacher's Pets". Whilst showing some promising signs the team never got off the ground and they were sent back to developmental . Having bounced around in developmental for a few more years to some success (winning the OVW Heavyweight Title) he eventually asked for and was granted his release in 2008.

At this time he went around the indies and eventually ended up back in OVW, however at that time OVW was no longer a farming ground for WWE. To little fan fare he was re-signed by WWE in the summer of 2010 and was sent to developmental in FCW. This would be the first incarnation of Damien Sandow. Sandow debuted as a militant, think la Resistance and Muhammed Hassan, only without the controversy. He formed a tag team with Titus O'Neill and they quickly won the FCW tag team titles. When they lost the titles Sandow turned on O'Neill. He floated about again before adopting the gimmick that we know today of the intellectual saviour of the unwashed masses. With the new gimmick came with it a centre piece in FCW tapings. He won the FCW 15 championship from Tyler Black and went on to have fantastic matches with Black, Dean Ambrose and Richie Steamboat. Having put on consistently good matches and finally having a strong enough gimmick it was only a matter of time before he was called up to the main roster.

His call up took place in April of this year and since then he has shared ring time with the likes of Randy Orton, Sheamus, taking part in the Money in the Bank match and sharing ring time with DX in the opening segment of Raw 1,000. To have this much success in such a short time on the main roster is an indication of how much is thought of the character and the man portraying him. But we have seen this before. Take Alberto Del Rio. Similar hype surrounded him with the vignettes. He debuted with a big win over Rey Mysterio and in under a year had won the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and his first WWE title but has now arguably plateaued all the while staying in the title picture.

Sandow, like many before him is at the delicate stage with his status on the card, should they pull the trigger and send him upwards and he fails he'll be back in the undercard before we know it, should he succeed we have a heel who can carry a match and has a stronger character than a rich chap talking about destiny. If they leave it too long the likelihood is he'll bounce around meaningless fued after fued, something Cody Rhodes and Dolph Ziggler have gone through after the trigger wasn't pulled on their ascencion up the card.

As for me, the character is fantastic, parrallels have been drawn to Triple H's debut gimmick Hunter Hearst Helmsley, the Greenwich snob. Arguably Sandow is far better on the mic at this stage of his career than H was at the time of the Helmsley gimmick. This is where Sandow's talent really lies, in his mic skills. When he starts speaking I genuinely want to listen to every word he says, that is a strong trait to have in a character. Some have questioned if he is ready as a worker, those who have questions watch some of his FCW matches on youtube, particularily the Ambrose matches. But as of right now if the title went on the best talker Sandow would be a shoe in.

Recently he has had matches against Sheamus, the World champion and Randy Orton. He has scarpered in both matches resulting in his opponent picking up count out wins. His reason for bailing against Sheamus was he was unprepared for Sheamus as it was a spur of the moment match and he needs to scout his opponents. This adds dimension to the straight forward heel character the likes of Del Rio tuned into. Along with when DX jumped he proclaimed that he was a "martyr", he has shown that his character has development possibilities. All these subtleties add more realism and scope going forward with the character.

As for now, he is flirting with the main event players on Smackdown and doing well, hopefully this continues. Sandow may be one to look out for in the Royal Rumble. The main event will be packed anyway with the likes of the Rock, Punk, Cena, Lesnar and Taker. So the option of giving someone a push up the card for the World title is an option. Sandow, to me is a logical choice. Particularily if Sheamus or Orton are the champ heading into Rumble. So I'm going out on a limb now, for me the 2013 Rumble winner will be the intellectual saviour of the unwashed masses.

Oh and you're welcome.