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Wrestling Weekly

Ken Kidney is back for this week’s round-up of the latest news from the world of wrestling.

The biggest news this week was the injury that John Cena sustained while wrestling Ryback in a tables match on April 23rd in Nottingham during WWE’s recent European tour. It was initially feared that he had suffered an acilles injury but the official line was that he was suffering with a badly bruised heel. Cena wrestled for the rest of the tour but was described as “extremely limited”.

Despite the injury, Cena wrestled this week on Raw but his involvement was kept to an absolute minimum, only taking part in the finishing sequence of the match. Cena attempted to run to the ring in his usual fashion before the match but barely managed to hobble.

This is worrying because it now appears as if Cena is going to attempt to work though the pain as he has done with injuries in the past. It has also been well documented that Cena has been wrestling through a laundry list of nagging injuries and this one is just the latest.

WWE is understandably reluctant to give their top star time off and Cena himself is notoriously proud. He doesn’t want to let down the fans or the company. Which it’s commendable, in my view this is a shortsighted view.

By wrestling hurt, Cena is risking a more serious injury that could put him on the shelf long-term or worse, one that ends his careers. Achilles issues are not to be taken lightly. It has ended the career of many athletes in “legitimate sports”. Kobe Bryant is a recent high-profile example and there is a doubt that he will ever play again. One thing is for certain, he will never be the same.

Cena also has to consider life after wrestling. There is no doubt that he could stay on top for the next 15 years or more if he wants but nobody can sustain his kind of schedule forever, nor can they recover from the resulting impact on their body. I worry that if he carries on the way he is going, his quality of life when he finally does call it a day, will be very poor.

Also, if WWE were smart for the sake of their marquee stars longevity, they would give him extended leave. It would allow him to heal up but it would also rest his face with the audience. He could come back rejuvenated and possibly even redefine his character. Cena has been doing the same schtick for the best part of a decade and fans have long since tired of it. Adult fans boo him loudly throughout the world. An extended absence and a reboot could go a long way to remedy this phenomenon.

There is also the added bonus of a lucrative comeback match at Summerslam for example. The annual summer extravaganza has been flagging in recent years with underwhelming cards and accordingly underwhelming pay per view buys. Sadly this will not happen because WWE simply cannot afford to lose him due to having no viable up and comers to replace them. The cracks are beginning to show.

WWE released their first quarter results for 2013 this week and the results were mixed. Live events and pay per view buy rates were up but this is often the case in the first quarter which is boosted with the build up to Wrestlemania . This usually peaks the interest of the fans in the early part of the year.

Wrestlemania 29 was a huge success and is officially the most successful live event in the company’s history. This tops the previous record set by Wrestlemania 28 last year. On the face of it, this is good news but the success is all built on part time marquee names. It should be noted however, that the show featured seven new stars, a fact that Vince McMahon stressed. Time will tell whether they follow through and create viable stars.

The company generated a loss of 5 million last quarter related to WWE Studios. The film branch of the company is a huge money pit for the company in recent years but Vince McMahon is determined to crack Hollywood. They recently had their biggest success with the release of “The Call” starring Halle Berry. The film received mixed critical reviews but it did well at the box office and the company expects a 6 million profit off a 1 million investment. It seems they have finally found a model that works in co-financing pictures with bankable stars and most importantly, limited involvement from their own talent.

The problem is that Vince McMahon has long had a complex with being a “seedy” wrestling promoter. He is desperate to be accepted by the mainstream and continues to lose money with WWE Studios and the pipe dream that is the WWE network. This is nothing new for McMahon who backed losers like the XFL, an American Football league which folded after one season. He also pioneered the World Bodybuilding Federation, which lasted only two years.

This may be a controversial opinion but I think the sooner his son-in-law Triple H takes over, the better. He has a great mind for wrestling and more importantly loves the business. He is content to just run a successful wrestling company and isn’t concerned with side projects. He realises the importance of building new stars and the need for them to learn all aspects of their craft properly the way his generation did before they are called up to the main roster.

He has overhauled WWE’s developmental system  in order to better prepare talent for life in the big time. Recruitment is focused on wrestling talent again which is a source of optimism for me at least. He also sees the value of tag team wrestling for developing potential stars and the importance of the art of the promo. Long term, I see the product improving in ring and out as he gains more influence and I think the future is bright with him at the helm.

Ring of Honor held their second annual “Border Wars” pay per view in Toronto, Canada last Saturday. Critical reaction to the show has been positive but the company had issues with their iPPV stream yet again. This has been a disaster for the company and a source of frustration for many fans. The company needs to find a better way or producing their pay per views, because it’s impossible to attract new fans when they can’t trust their streams to work properly. It just looks shoddy and is bad for business.

In quick results from the show, C&C Wrestling Factory defeated ACH and Tadarius Thomas, when ACH was hit with a no-hands hurricanrana and frogsplash combination from C&C in what was described as a well paced match.

Roderick Strong defeated Mike Bennett in a solid match when Strong hit Bennett with the “Sick Kick”.

BJ Whitimer defeated Rhett Titus of S.C.U.M. in a quick “I Quit” match. Titus quit to save S.C.U.M. leader, Steve Corino, from a steel chair attack by Whitimer.

S.C.U.M. (Jimmy Jacobs and Cliff Compton) defeated ROH (Michael Elgin and Kevin Steen) when Steen was rolled up. Apparently, this was a great match which went a long way to redeem Kevin Steen who has been under performing in recent months.

Eddie Edwards defeated Taiji Ishimori in an action packed match using his “Diehard Driver”. The match was Ishimori’s American debut and was very well received by the audience in attendance.

ROH Television Champion Matt Taven defeated Mark Briscoe to retain his title in a short but solid match when Taven rolled up Briscoe.

Davey Richards defeated Paul London  in London’s ROH return. Richards countered the shooting star press to pick up the victory. The match was heated with a lot of dangerous action. Richards nearly killed London with a double stomp after hitting London’s chest and nearly crushing his head when his foot slipped off the rope.

In the main event, ROH World Champion Jay Briscoe retained his title against Adam Cole with the “Jay Driller. The match was good but didn’t achieve its potential.

In quick TNA news, the main event of the annual Slammiversary event was set this week. TNA World Champion Bully Ray (Bubba Ray Dudley in WWE) will defend his title against “The Icon” Sting. The event is due to take place in Boston on June 2nd and will be live on pay per view.

TNA has recently made the move to reduce their pay per view schedule from 12 to just 4 shows per year. TNA’s pay per view business was dismal and they were losing money on each event. The idea is to save money and have longer to build creatively to each event. This was a brave move by the company but I think it will pay off in the long run commercially and creatively. If it works, perhaps they can gradually increase the schedule again in the future.

It’s a trend that I think even the likes of WWE should follow because the pay per view market is saturated and the numbers reflect this. No company needs to have 12 plus pay per views a year people just don’t have the money for one thing and sometimes there is as little as two weeks between big events. You cannot build a compelling event that fans will pay to see with that kind of turn around time.

As usual I would love to hear your thoughts via Twitter @kenkidney or on the Sport is Everything Twitter @SportsInsiders. Also remember to like the Sport is Everything Facebook page so you don’t miss any wrestling news. Next week I think I am going to change things up a bit and talk about the top future prospects in wrestling.

Sport Is Everything. Ken Kidney.

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