Welcome to another edition of Sean O’Mac’s Pullin’ No Punches (PnP for short). Here you’ll find Sean’s opinions on one or more topics in the WWE world as well as letters from readers. Remember that you, too, can chime in with your thoughts anytime. I like the props, but love the debates and disagreements too. Just keep them brief or I’ll be choppin’ ya down!
You know, it doesnâ<80><99>t seem that long ago (it wasnâ<80><99>t, actually) that I was editorializing on the mediaâ<80><99>s relations with the WWE. Iâ<80><99>ve covered the topic extensively, as a newspaper man myself, from a perspective that differs from most Internet wrestling journalists.
One of the points I threw out there was that, as an entity that is constantly covered by both IWJs and the mainstream media, the WWE needed to work on throwing out some curve balls to surprise then fans. With the Internet especially, long gone are the days that sports entertainment can draw up a script well in advance for something big (e.g. Chris Jerichoâ<80><99>s return) and have it remain a mystery.
And letâ<80><99>s face it. The fans, yours truly included, love a good mystery.
But as difficult as it is to pull off, Iâ<80><99>d become a bit discouraged when it came to this topic. An odd feeling when, as someone in the news business, you are still hoping that the news can be kept under wraps now and then. But we knew well in advance who was coming to â<80><9c>Save Us,â<80> we know that Big Show has resigned with the company and will be returning soon, and the news just keeps on flowing.
So imagine my excitement when, at the Royal Rumble, that countdown to #30 wound down to zero and John Cenaâ<80><99>s music hit the stadium. The crowd, both lovers and haters, erupted. Hell, I erupted! After all the well-known-in-advance moments weâ<80><99>ve seen, the WWE had finally pulled off a major coup.
No one that I know suspected Cenaâ<80><99>s return at the Rumble. I did throw out a theory to my keyboard comrade Chris Cash, having finally made the trip down to watch a PPV with him.
It was about halfway through the Rumble and we were trying to keep count of the â<80><9c>unknownâ<80> slots still available in the match. I said something to the effect of, â<80><9c>You know, wouldnâ<80><99>t it be something if Cena was one of the unknowns and all the talk about his rehab lasting well past WrestleMania was just a misinformation campaign?â<80>
We quickly shrugged the theory off as a million-to-one shot.
Little did we know that one of the best-kept secrets in recent WWE memory was about to appear. For that matter, apparently neither did some of those in the company. Word has it that Cena didnâ<80><99>t even arrive at Madison Square Garden until the show was in progress. I donâ<80><99>t know how tight-lipped they kept his return amongst the stars, but can you imagine a complete â<80><9c>need-to-knowâ<80> approach?
I suppose itâ<80><99>s completely feasible that, amongst the wrestlers, only the last men standing knew what was coming (Batista and Triple H). For the rest, I can picture them seeing the script on their way out to the ring: â<80><9c>Youâ<80><99>re going to get your ass kicked by #30.â<80>
Well, that might be pushing it. Chances are better that most of them knew and were well aware of the fact that theyâ<80><99>d better keep their mouths shut.
No matter how it went down, this is exactly the dose of excitement that this PPV needed. This was the â<80><9c>perfect stormâ<80> of shock and awe that the WWE pulled off.
Despite being in the news business, where we always strive to get the â<80><9c>scoop,â<80> my hatâ<80><99>s off to those responsible, and I hope this is a sign of more surprises in the future.
The Punching Bag
Ok, ok, so I’ve gotten a little behind in sorting through my e-mails. But I’ve gotten some good ones lately – some of them a bit longer than I’d normally post – but you can’t help but love the fans who send in reports from the events themselves.
So here we go!
We’ll start with letters on the Royal Rumble:
Hey.I was at the Rumble at the garden and just read your review of it.It was the 3rd time that Ive been to an event and I had the best seats that Ive ever had.Section 10 Row H!The only problem was that the camera was in the way most of the time.It was better than Section 300 though,which was where I sat last time.Do you know how to get the best seats?I just wanted to say a few things about the rumble now.
I agree with you that the Flair/MVP match wasn’t that good.It actually was pretty short too.I thought that it actually made MVP look bad because he lost so easily and quickly.He comes out saying that he’s half man/half amazing and they hyped the match for so long and then it ended so quickly.Anyone Flair match is great though cause you get to spend the whole time saying Whoooooooooooooooo.
I also agree that the Jericho match was a bore.And I was one of the people chanting You F*CK*D UP when he messed up that move.It probably was JBL’s fault.He should stick with commentating.He is really funny and The COACH sucks.
I think that the Edge Mysterio match was the best one of the night.Edge got the biggest pop out of anyone.It doesnt surprise me that people cheered Edge cause in NY they like bad guys,but I was shocked that Mysterio was booed so much.It probably was because he’s such a babyface.Orton also gets cheered in the Garden.
The Orton/Hardy match was decent,but everyone knew that Hardy had no chance of winning.So ,youre right,it was anti-climatic.
I thought that the Royal Rumble was pretty cool.I expected it to be sort of boring.I had no idea that Cena was gonna be in it.I thought that he wasnt gonna be there,and the thought that he could be in it strangley never crossed my mind,which is odd considering that im 28 and have been watching wrestling my whole life.I just really thought that he was too injured.I dont think that people booed him so much when he won because although they hate him,they also didnt want Triple H to win because they feel like he gets special privileges because he is married to Stephanie,and theyre sick of it in a way.whenever he wins,people feel that it’s one of the perks of banging her.
What made the night memorable was that there was a really loud drunk guy screaming things the whole night.To Lillian,he screamed,’SING TO ME SEXY.SING ME A SONNNNNNNNNNNG.” To Jericho ,he said,”I HATE YOUR METROSEXUAL HAIRCUUUUUUUUT.”To Michael Buffer,he screamed,”JUST SAY THE DAMN LINE AND GET THE HELL OUT OF THE RINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG.”But he also screamed cruel stuff,like “CHAVO,YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED,NOT EDDYYYYYYYY.”That was sick. He made it more fun though..Overall the Rumble was cool.I hope Raw comes there again this year.see ya.
– Nick V.
Thanks for the report, Nick. It’s great to hear from fans who were there telling about their experience.
Long time reader, first time e-mailer. I liked your review and agree with you totally, especially about how anti-climactic the end to the Orton-Hardy match was. I figured Orton would win, but the way it happened was a real let-down after a very good match. I was also surprised by the crowd’s booing of Rey and Cena, and cheering of Edge.
Being there, I noted that from the beginning, with all the clips they showed, there was a ton of booing of Rey and Cena. They chant “Rey is gay” was common during the match and his enterance. All the kids were cheering for him, but as far as the adults went, it was Edge all the way. NYC likes a bad boy I guess (I’m from PA). When Cena showed, I think the cheering was more about the surpise of his being there. Let’s face it, no one saw it coming and having a main-eventer who was supposed to be home just show up was a massive shock. From my estimation, there wasn’t a single Cena fan in the house except my friend Mike who was lucky to get out of there alive. I couldn’t tell you why people cheered when he won, I guess respect. Maybe just for the match or the event. It was fantastic from where I sat, certainly one of the better PPV’s I’ve seen.
As far as the matches themselves, I was generally impressed. The Flair-MVP match wasn’t either man’s best, but it was still a quality match and everyone loves Flair. JBL-Y2J wasn’t great, but it had its moments. Everyone loved the ending. Rey-Edge was a great match, and I’d give it a 10 of 10, though from where I was sitting, that could be way off. I’d say the same for the Orton-Hardy match, except for the end which really killed the whole thing, not because Orton won, but how he did it (what a load). The Rumble was pretty good. There were some pathetic bits, like HBK pulling Taker back in on Old School rather than pushing him out, but it’s wrestling and the performance of Snuka, Piper and let’s face it, Horny/Finlay. Everyone was very surprised and excited to see the legends and Cena, and at least I was way into it. I haven’t seen many Rumbles as I’ve only really been a fan for 2 years or so, but it was by far the best line-up I’ve seen and probably the best in terms of quality, but take that worth a grain of salt.
I had seats in the 200’s, but there was really no bad seat in the house. I also attended last year’s SummerSlam which was a huge dissappointment in both match quality and quite frankly visibility: sitting in row 7 of the 100’s, I couldn’t see nearly was well as sitting way up at the Rumble. One complaint I had at the Rumble was that after the opening pyro, the place filled with smoke for quite a while, and though it didn’t particularly hurt the visibility, it ruined any photos I tried to take. At least JBL kept it to a minimum. Like any NYC area crowd, they were really rowdy and foul-mouthed, but that was to be expected.
– Jonathan S.
Thanks for the report, Johnathan – but it’s SEAN, not Shane. I am, unfortunately, not a McMahon.
Hey there I was at The Rumble. A few things I’d like to say. The crowd was lively and really involved. As stated before on WZ the sign guy was there and he was a really cool guy. He shook hands with kids, spoke to people, and even signed my sign. Shane O’Mac was in the crowd just below the hard cameras but left 10 minutes before the end of the show. Pete Gass was in the crowd too, 2 rows behind me. He was really cool just like Shane and was enjoying the show. Shane was walking back and forth between his seats and the row in front of me speaking with some handicapped fans. A minor correction from earlier we DID see the Santino Maria ashley vignette in the Garden. The crowd was pretty much all Hardy except for a few fans who were about to get beat up by a pint size female Jeff Hardy fan. And of course a lot of Giants chants.
One last note Mick Foley actually went outside and mingled with fans a little before 5 pm. I managed to snap a pic with my fone its a little fuzzy but it IS Foley heres a link to the picture.
– Gustavo G.
Thanks for the report and the pic, Gustavo. It’s nice when the stars give their time to the fans outside of the ring, even though we must all realize that this has to become a tedious task very quickly. Love the ones that do and don’t take them for granted.
I think why Edge was getting cheers is because they were in Madison Square garden which is in New York which is close to Canada were of course Edge is from.
– Dixie M.
That’s quite possible, Dixie. Or it could just be that New Yorkers like a bad boy more. Who knows?
I think it was Mike Cole who announced that Finlay was DQed for entering early and using his shalayly(how ever you spell it). On the other hand I don’t think anything was said for Horny ???
– Chris K.
It’s actually spelled shileighleigh, but who’s checking? I don’t remember hearing Cole say that Finlay was disqualified, but if he did and I missed it that doesn’t make much sense to me. We’ve seen foreign objects in the Rumble in the past. When it comes to the possibilities that were available with Hornswoggle at the Rumble, I think WWE blew this one big time.
I am starting to think the boos for Rey were coming because of Edges cronies, Ryder and Hawkins. I know they had A LOT of support at the Garden because they are from Long Island. I know one of the Edgeheads as I grew up with him. They have a following from their NYWC days, and I really think this had something to do with it. Since they are aligned with Edge, they cheer for him. I thought it was funny too, but I would have cheered for Edge too.
If this wasn’t the case, it was probably cause New Yorkers are just different.
I don’t know the reasoning behind it, Dennis. But I was frankly a bit pissed at the fans for booing Rey. I mean, this is a guy that, yes, is a face, but he gives his all in the ring and plays to the kids big time. From what I hear, some chants directed at him during the match weren’t exactly “kid friendly” either. Get some class, New York!
Dear Sean Oâ<80><99>Macâ<80>¦.one thing that you missedâ<80>¦the ECW heavyweight champion of the world participated in the 30 man over the top rope royal rumble. As a world champion, why was he participating in an event that if won, would earn yourself a shot at a world championship match? Is the WWE now admitting that the ECW title is not a recognized world championship? Last year, Bobby Lashey was not a participant in the royal rumble event. And when the undertaker won, he was allowed to choose between the WWE, the Smackdown and the ECW world heavyweight titles. Just a thought you may want to consider.
– Richard M., Ric Flair wannabe
Richard, that point was complete missed by me, I must admit. When considered, it certainly does suggest a devaluation of the ECW Championship.
Matt Hardy is on the WWE promotional poster for the rumble on the train. He is clearly attacking Kennedy. So this leads me to believe he’ll be in the rumble.
Well, we know otherwise now, but I had the same thought pre-Rumble.
Who is ur prediction to win the whole dam thing tonight.
– Michael M.
Well, it’s a bit late now, but I’ll be honest about it. I completely expected them to give it to Triple H. But who saw Cena coming?
On other matters:
First of all, I’d like to apologize because I’m not a native American, and my English may suck a bit. Cleared that out, I personally don’t think only two people read your ‘takes’: I was expecting this week’s SmackDown! too. Anyway, I don’t think we’ll see a curve ball this Sunday: I smell a Orton – Triple H rematch at ‘Mania and Undertaker – Edge for the title. I think the WWE should already start pushing the Edge – Undertaker rivalry, since it’s really what the fans have been waiting for. Otherwise, I’d expect the ratings to keep coming down. But thinking the way the company does, I don’t think this is gonna happen soon either.
Seriously, I may be an Edgehead and all, but IMO he is the best guy they have right now. They are pushing Hardy real hard, which is good since they are in need for new main eventers, but I would expect a few more months before he claims that spot. Maybe even a Mr Money In The Bank?
I think the most important match at this year’s ‘Mania may be Edge – Undertaker, since the outcome is not clear yet. You could argue that there is no way ‘Taker’s losing his streak, but if they ever thought about doin’ it, right now is the best time. There is no other heel in the company who could take that streak as Edge. I also agree that the Vickie – Edge storyline is already overdue, and I was expecting from the newest WWE faction (Edgeheads and Chavo) a lot more. Anyway, we’ll see what happens.
Thanks for your takes, man. And I honestly believe more than two people read them.
– Luis O.
Thanks for the props, Luis, but the whole “both of my readers” thing is really just a bad joke. I know in actuality that most days the readers are well into the thousands. But no bragging here. Glad you’re one of the readers!
Love the column, the mailbag, the Rumble predictions. Keep up the good work.
With the way that the Elimination Chamber is supposed to handled at NWO (six men from the brand that does not win the Rumble), do you think there is any chance that Vince pulls one of the bigger swerves on us in a while and has Punk win the Rumble? Here’s how I think about it: We just saw Punk get screwed out of the ECW title by having to face Chavo four weeks in a row, and in the fourth, Edge comes out, spears Punk, Chavo covers, new champion. Either Punk is seriously in Vince’s doghouse, or Vince has some plans in mind for Punk.
Now, with Punk winning a qualifying match to enter the Rumble, what if Punk pulls off the unthinkable and actually wins? This would lead to an interesting scenario. Everyone assumes Punk is going to go after Chavo for his ECW title belt, but instead, Punk opts to go after Edge and the WWE Title, but he doesn’t declare that right away. So now we go into NWO and the Elimination Chamber. This match seems much more exciting to me with 3 Raw and 3 Smackdown stars going at it as opposed to 6 Raw (could be ok) or 6 Smackdown (no way that could be ok) stars. Imagine HHH, Hardy, and Kennedy going into the Chamber against UT, Batista, and Mark Henry.
Ok, I’m dreaming, but still, wouldn’t that be interesting?
– Greg, NJ
Well, now we know what’s going on with the Elimination Chamber – and that there will be two of them with six in each. I think they’ll be good matches and I’m looking forward to them. We’ll see! Thanks for the props and for reading!
I am a huge WWE fan and have been for 17 years. I always enjoy your columns because I feel that you have great insight to the upcoming storylines and plots that the writers are thinking. I agree with your analysis as far as the Mickie James plot and the obvious predictability for almost every match at the Royal Rumble. I am wondering what they are thinking with the title picture in all 3 brands? I don’t understand why they are making Hardy look that dominant is it,in your opinion, only because they are not ready to let Orton release the strap yet?? Don’t you think that they will make a Smackdown wrestler like Batista(who I feel will win) or Undertaker win so they can do an Elimination Chamber at NO Way Out with the Raw superstars…I do feel HHH will face Orton at WrestleMania and I hope that happens due to my huge respect for what he has done in his tenure as a WWE superstar. I am anxious to get your thoughts on the future and also tell you that this website is very informative and great, however the writers and their columns are what I appreciate the most. Thanks for all of your columns as I hope that you will continue to give us your straight to the point opinion. Thanks and please write back and let me know how you feel about the Rumble and the title pictures for all three brands and what direction you feel they are going in.
You know, with things being as they are now with the announcements concerning the Chambers at No Way Out, it gets a bit harder to predict where things are going. But if I had to venture a guess, I’d say that WWE is probably going to give the belt back to Cena and we’ll see Cena vs. Triple H at WM. As for the World Heavyweight Championship, Edge vs. Undertaker is probably the odds-on favorite.
I figure, that as much as I browse this site, I’ve never bothered to get in touch with anyone on there, but I guess we can say that I’ve got a hair up my ass for this one. See, I’ve been watching wrestling since I can remember, around three years old or so. Honestly it’s always caught my interest, I mean what better a job can you have then performing for thousands of people by beating the hell out of people you know?
Anyway, this is to address the new set, and the Royal Rumble. having read your take on it, and also noting that you’re expecting to get blasted about the new set, I figured I’d offer a little bit of favorable support on your part. The set itself, in my opinion, is a nice new addition to Raw. They’ve had that old set for a few good years now, and while it was rather industrial in looks, grew old after about a year. I had a feeling when HHH destroyed the entrance screen that they would be coming out with a new one, and to be honest I have to say that I totally aprove of it. Much more lights, making it a bit harder to use in falls count anywhere matches I would imagine, but still pretty none the less. On top of that I would say that it fits the mold that WWE has fallen into. Having changed the direction from wrestling to “sports entertainment” the addition of the set gives it a little more of a hollywood type of feel, at least that’s what I gather from it.
Now, on to the Royal Rumble. For the Rumble match itself, I honestly see it coming down to HHH winning. Do I think that he’ll go on to win the belt at wrestlemania? I’m not too sure on that note, but with the ease that he took out Snitsky, Mark Henry, and Regal, that’s what I would assume. As for the main event, Jeff Hardy versus Randy Orton, that’s a whole ‘nother story.
The position that they have put these two in, is really hard to work now, because it’s all about keeping the fans entertained and wanting to see more. With the thirty foot swanton, that certainly is what’s happening. Granted, I agree with you in the sense that I don’t see any other way that Hardy could have topped that, but now in my opinion the WWE is faced with a problem. We know that the match is going to end in one of two ways, Hardy winning the title and being the third person to hold the WWE title and Intercontinental title at the same time. Then, on the other hand, they have Orton winning and holding onto the belt until wrestlemania.
Now, here’s the problem, I don’t think that they’re that over about making Hardy the third in history to hold those two titles. In my own opinon, if he had lost the Intercontinental championship sometime earlier in the month, then I would say that I see Hardy walking out as the WWE champion. BUT, for as over as he is with the fans, I’m not too sure they want to put that much on Hardy. Then again, if Orton wins, the fans are going to know that Hardy got ripped off, because I doubt Hardy’s going to get another shot. Granted, he could get another at the next pay per view, but by wrestlemania, his title shots are out the window unless he wins now. Granted I could be completely wrong, and they could put the belt on Hardy, which would probably draw more ratings and get people interested in the product again, but that’s just from a fan’s perspective.
That’s my opinion and I’m stickin to it…
– Ryan L.
Thanks, Ryan. But to my surprise, you’re the only one who commented on my opinion of the new set.
Love your column every time about Raw and Smackdown and I wanted to drop you a line about something you said about The Highlanders. I agree that they are all jobbers and the tag team division in all sense of the word is nothing short of a joke. I was telling this to many people on the message boards and was booted off because of spamming, which I didnâ<80><99>t do, I was merely at work, bored and read the year end awards and had comments on all of them. Anywayâ<80>¦I miss the tag teams of old and these ones now could be something but right now, we have Shannon Moore and Jimmy Wang Yang beating Deuce and Domino (who have also become jobbers after dropping the tag titles to Matt and MVP, which was stupid too). The Highlanders, I compared to The Bushwackers with a little more substanceâ<80>¦now, they are nothing. Cryme Tyme was good too but they got fired for something stupid. Now we have tag teams that only push the singlesâ<80><99> storylines or the teams break up to go on to singles careers. Watch what happens when Lance Cade comes back. That team will disappear too.
It just frustrates me. It frustrated me so much that I wrote to Stephanie McMahon to see if I could get a job as a writer. I mentioned my history of writing and loving WWF/WWE as a kid and who I liked and why I wanted a writing job. I actually got a letter back from the Human resources department saying that she forwarded my resume to them and that there was nothing at WWE that could use me with my background (Bachelors in teaching, Masters in Special Education) but they thanked me for my interest and is going to keep my resume on file. So that was cool.
Great work and keep it up.
– Paul W.
Yes, they really need to work on the tag-team division. Good luck in the job quest, though!
Sean “O’Mac” McGuinney’s day job is as a newspaper editor. He has been a journalist for nearly 10 years and has covered everything from government to sports. The wrestling? Well, that’s just been enjoyed since he was a kid. Don’t ask how long ago that was.