SMARK COUNTRY | One of Us

SMARK COUNTRY

SmarkCounty_FinalAuthor: Eugene Selassie

A forum dedicated to news and op-eds about the world of professional wrestling. If you’re into the indie-wrestling circuit, or the glitz and glamor of “sports entertainment”, we’ve got you covered.

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Smark 200x200Survivor Series 2016 Recap

There is a term in WWE known as the “Big Four”. This refers to the four most important pay-per-view events each year; the Royal Rumble near the beginning of the year, WrestleMania in the spring, SummerSlam in mid-August and Survivor Series right around Thanksgiving. While the first three have always been the marquee attraction that season, Survivor Series has not felt like a major event in several years. WWE went to a lot of trouble to book some rare main events for this year’s SS. How did the show fare?

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Smark 200x200 No Mercy 2016 Review

No Mercy comes live from the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, CA. While SmackDown’s last exclusive pay-per-view (Backlash) was solid if not amazing, we would see if the blue team would step their game up for their October event.

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Smark 200x200WWE Clash of Champions 2016 Review

This Raw exclusive pay-per-view event is being broadcast from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. They are coming off the heels of a pretty solid, if not memorable, SmackDown Live event, Backlash. There seems to be the recurring issue of Raw having intelligent booking, but horribly scripted storylines and promos, whereas SmackDown has had pretty good promos and storylines, but booking that is worthy of scratching one’s head (especially with the Women’s and Tag Team divisions). How would Raw fare on this outing?

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Smark 200x200Backlash 2016 Recap

I will say right off the bat that I have been enjoying SmackDown Live much more than Raw since the brand split. Only running for two hours instead of three, and having a superior announce team certainly helps, but the one issue I have had is that the championships on SmackDown have not felt as important as those on Raw.

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Smark 200x200SummerSlam 2016 Results

While writing this article, I can’t help but be ecstatic about the biggest show of the summer, and yet, I’m concerned that SummerSlam (for the second year in a row) may be topped by the NXT Takeover. Takeover was a hell of a show from top to bottom, with title bouts and grudge matches that had incredible buildups and solid blow offs. Since developmental was able to knock it out of the park, was the main WWE show of the weekend able to hang?

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Smark 200x200Battleground 2016 Results

I went into this event with considerably low expectations as not many of the matches on the card really “wowed” me. However, the hope was still there that one of the sleeper matches would wind up stealing the show, and that there wouldn’t be a need for the main event. Was this a faint hope, or did the rest of the under-card bring it?

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Smark 200x200Money In The Bank 2016 Results

This year’s WWE Money in the Bank event is being billed as the biggest Money in the Bank ever. This is primarily due to one of the main events, AJ Styles vs. John Cena, being the center of much media attention in the wrestling world. However, did that match live up to the hype? And did the other matches on the card sufficient fixings to the steak that was Styles/Cena?

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Smark 200x200Extreme Rules 2016 Results

This pay-per-view event is one that I’ve grown ambivalent towards in recent years. Since the WWE went full on rated PG some seven or eight years ago, it’s taken away from the believability of certain match types. It is difficult to buy into steel cage matches, especially Hell in a Cell and Extreme Rules matches, when no blood is allowed. When I say no blood is allowed, Vince McMahon once allegedly fined a superstar $100,000 for doing so. Did this year’s Extreme Rules bring back any sort of legitimacy to these match types?

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Smark 200x200A Shot Across the Bow or A Mosquito Biting a Giant?

This past Saturday night, the Evolve 61 iPPV took place in Queens, NY. There were wrestlers from several promotions in attendance. Full Impact Pro’s Bravado Brothers, Drew Gulak from Chikara and Johnny Gargano from NXT are a few examples. However, it was the unexpected appearance of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling’s (TNA) Ethan Carter III and what he had to say that sparked controversy.

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Smark 200x200Payback for a Questionable Wrestlemania?

Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas, TX was far from a bad show. The workers in front of and behind the cameras worked their asses off. The matches themselves were just fine. It was the finishes to each of the matches, with no sort of logical buildup storyline wise, that left the crowd with confused looks on their faces. The lead up to Payback 2016 seems to have a bit more logic behind it, but did the matches themselves live up to expectations?

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Smark 200x200How TNA Can Get Back On Track

Over the past decade, we have seen Total Nonstop Action (TNA) transform from the plucky upstart, to being one of the biggest laughing stocks of the wrestling community in North America. This was through no fault of the men and women who left their blood, sweat and tears in the ring each and every day. I attended several of their live events at Universal Studios and can attest that their production values are certainly up to par with the work in the ring. The company does have its share of problems. Being shuffled around three different networks in less than a four year span does not inspire faith in the company. The product has vastly improved since its move to Pop TV, but it still has a long way to go. Outside of finding a larger company than Panda Energy to buy them outright, or them finding a higher profile network than Pop TV, there are some other more realistic ways that TNA can regain the trust of the fans that they’ve lost. Their best bet to achieve this, stand out from the pack.

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Smark 200x200Was WrestleMania 32 the Granddaddy of Them All?

I have been to many a wrestling show in my 37 years on this planet. Admittedly, I have never been to a WrestleMania. The sounds, the smells, even the very energy throughout AT&T Stadium was infectious. I had my concerns with this show. Just 48 hours prior, NXT Takeover Dallas put on one of the best shows WWE has aired in months, if not years. I had my doubts as to if World Wrestling Entertainment could follow it up with their biggest show of the year. Complaints about the writing, nearly a quarter of their roster on the injury list and a slew of other problems further reinforced my doubts. However, I still held out hope that WWE would surprise me.

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Smark 200x200Rey Mysterio Arrives In Lucha Underground With A Following

Rey Mysterio (born Oscar Gutierrez) has wrestled all over the world. He has three world championships as well as numerous other accolades to his name. Despite all of these successes with the WWE and other wrestling organizations, the master of the 619 has found a new home in the 323. Mysterio returned to the Temple of Lucha Underground this past week and brought quite the following with him.

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Smark 200x200Roadblock 2016 Results

WWE’s decision to move forward with the Roadblock event, live on the WWE Network, was a bit baffling to me. On the road to Wrestlemania, a good four to six weeks is a good amount of time to allow the weekly television shows to build sufficient anticipation. But, whether I agree with them or not, World Wrestling Entertainment put on a solid, if not memorable show live from Toronto.

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Smark 200x200Fastlane: The Final Stop on the Road to WrestleMania

With a depleted roster that has been plagued with injuries, World Wrestling Entertainment has had to work overtime to make sure that this year’s WrestleMania is the hit that they’re banking on it to be. Fastlane is the final pay-per-view event before WrestleMania, so any hopes of selling out AT&T Stadium and filling it with over 100,000 fans rests on this event delivering the goods.

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Smark 200x200The Tale of an American Dragon

News broke on Monday that Daniel Bryan, four time WWE World Champion, who had been sidelined for the better part of a year due to injuries, would be retiring from in-ring action. The news broke the hearts of millions as people took to social media in disbelief, anger and sadness. Though his tenure with World Wrestling Entertainment was relatively short, Bryan has had an illustrious career, achieving success around the world.

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Smark 200x2002016 Royal Rumblings

Once upon a time, this pay-per-view event was my favorite of World Wrestling Entertainment’s monthly spectacles. The titular match was worth the price of admission in and of itself. However, over the last two to three years, the Rumble has left a sour taste in my mouth. From ill-conceived storyline resolutions to blown opportunities to push superstars that were over to everyone on Earth except for WWE management, this pay-per-view has been tarnished to say the least. So, how was the Royal Rumble this year?

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Smark 200x200Did TNA’s Debut on Pop TV Make an Impact?

That was the question on many wrestling observers’ minds as Impact Wrestling had its network premiere on Pop TV last Tuesday night. It was just a year ago that the promotion made the transition from its initial home on Spike TV to Destination America. That eleventh hour deal kept TNA Wrestling afloat. However, the massive decline in viewership due to them being on an obscure network that many people don’t even have, left the company looking less than stable. The company wisely chose to not renew with Destination America. But did their new home bring more eyes to the product? And was it a strong enough premiere to ensure that any potential new viewers will continue to watch future episodes?

 

 

Smark 200x200This Booking Does Not Make Roman Reigns Look Strong

There’s having your “next big thing” overcome nearly insurmountable odds. Then, there’s laying it on so thick that your audience not only disapproves of this push, but openly voices their displeasure at it. Unfortunately for Roman Reigns, the latter seems to have been the case in more than a few cities playing host to WWE live events. When did Vince McMahon & company go overboard with trying to make Roman look like a Superman and how can they gain back the portion of the audience that they lost?

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Smark 200x200A Trip to Hell

The past few years have left me rather cold towards this particular pay-per-view event. Hell In A Cell being on a predictable timetable each year takes away from how special the titular match should truly be. I hoped and prayed that this year would prove to be a game changer. In some ways, I was correct.

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Smark 200x200301 Days of Cronyism

This past week, we were witness to one of the greatest U.S. women’s wrestling matches of the past several years, when Sasha Banks challenged Bailey for the NXT Women’s Championship in a thirty minute Iron Man match. Because it was in NXT, this doesn’t come as much of a surprise. The women of NXT have been outworking many of the males on the main roster for some time now. However, this match brought me back a few weeks to another women’s match, Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship at Night of Champions. The match was decent enough, with Charlotte finally putting an end to Nikki’s lackluster title reign. It’s exactly how long Nikki Bella had the belt before losing it that really speaks to the problems with the WWE in general and the Divas division in particular.

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Smark 200x200Guaranteed Money?

Many of us are still recovering from the Elimination Chamber just two weeks ago, which was one of the better pay-per-views in quite a while. While I was more than confident that the marquee attraction, the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, would be pure gold, it remained to be seen if the entire card would be as strong.

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Smark 200x200Surrounding Yourself with the Right Talent?

Jeff & Karen Jarrett met several days ago, during Preston City Wrestling, to discuss plans for the upcoming inaugural television tapings of their Global Force Wrestling promotion. This was not much in the way of news, but when they were joined by Eric Bischoff, many in the wrestling world took notice.

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Smark 200x200An EXTREMEly Average Outing

WWE Extreme Rules 2015’s card was decent enough and several of the superstars really stepped their game up, but was it enough to keep this from feeling like a Raw episode without commercial interruptions?

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Smark 200x200Ring of Honor Calls In Backup

Ring of Honor, despite being only the third largest wrestling promotion in the United States, features (arguably) the best wrestling available on American weekly television.

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Smark 200x200 Did WWE Make WrestleMania XXXI Look Strong?

The quality of WWE programming these past few months (excluding NXT) has been paltry to say the least and at times flat out unbearable. The weekly programming slipping up from time to time is to be expected. Any wrestling promotion creating programming multiple times per week can never bat 1.000. But the pay-per-views are where they need to step it up. Unfortunately, the past four or five pay-per-views have been barely passable. Has World Wrestling Entertainment learned from their recent mistakes?

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Smark 200x200Loyal Soldiers or Sailors Going Down With the Ship?

News broke this past weekend, via the Twitter page of TNA executive John Gaburick, of the re-signing of Tigre Uno, Taryn Terrell and Bobby Roode.

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Smark 200x200Master of the 619 Relocates To A New Area Code

It has been nearly two weeks since Rey Mysterio and World Wrestling Entertainment failed to come to terms on renewal of Rey’s contract. They both parted ways with little fanfare. Those who wondered about Mysterio’s future, or concerned with his well being didn’t have to wait long.

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Smark 200x200WWE in The Fastlane Towards Wrestlemania

After the embarrassment that was the 2015 Royal Rumble and the tirade that fans have unleashed on social media about WWE creativity, especially regarding their monthly pay-per-view events, has World Wrestling Entertainment learned their lesson and put on a spectacle or a snooze fest for their February pay-per-view outing?

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Smark 200x200Counting Down the Best of the Year

As 2014 closed out, I had trouble creating a list of the best matches of 2014. This past year featured a notable spike in the ring work from all of the major promotions, foreign and domestic. There were hundreds of potential candidates that I had to review. The booking, the chemistry and ring psychology and the believability of the feud, not to mention the quality of the ring work, all factored into my decision. These are the finalists that I was compelled to select.

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Smark 200x200 Everything But The Kitchen Sink

I don’t think I’ve been subtle when it comes to my disdain towards the WWE’s ‘gimmick match’ pay-per-views. The thing about Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank and yes, TLC matches is that they felt more special when they popped up at random. When they are on a time table to appear a specific time every year, they lose their luster. But has this year’s Tables Ladders & Chairs PPV made me change my mind?

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Smark 200x200A Savior Discovers Impact Wrestling

The “Internet Wrestling Community” has been relatively mum about the few weeks old news of Impact Wrestling finding a new home with Destination America. This could be a bad sign, as with pro wrestling in general, the worst reaction you could possibly have with the audience is no reaction.

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Smark 200x200Did the Viewers’ Interest Survive This Series?

Any trepidation that I had going into this pay-per-view was somewhat quelled by the fact that Survivor Series 2014 had two things going for it. It had well built up storylines culminating at this show and it took place in St. Louis, Missouri. This town has one of the best wrestling crowds in the country, if not the world.

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Smark 200x200NXT, More Bang for Your Buck than Raw or Smackdown

As I got through watching last week’s episode of NXT, I truly came to appreciate what this show accomplishes on a weekly basis. Not only because this is World Wrestling Entertainment’s developmental league for young rookies to prove themselves before working their way up to the main WWE roster, not only because they perform in a much smaller (but more interactive) crowd at Full Sail University in Orlando each week, but because they fit so much content into just a one hour show.

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Smark 200x200Jim Ross Returns to Ringside Commentary, But Not With WWE

On January 4th 2015, Global Force Wrestling will be hosting New Japan Pro Wrestling’s ‘Wrestle Kingdom IX’ live on pay-per-view. An event of this magnitude deserves, no, requires only the very best at commentary. No one could have guessed that the man whom Global Force Wrestling CEO and founder, Jeff Jarrett, would secure to call the action would be WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross.

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Smark 200x200A Recap of Hell (In A Cell 2014)

I truly had to fight apathy to watch this pay-per-view. Two feuds that the WWE seems to be forcing down our throats, Brie vs. Nikki Bella and John Cena vs. Randy Orton, seem to have gotten so much of a push lately that I’ve become numb to even watching the product. But I shouldn’t let that affect my interest in the product as a whole. This event in particular had quite a few strong matches on the card.

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Smark 200x200A Part-Time Beast Incarnate

The schedule for the final slate of WWE televised shows for this year has been released. The December 8th edition of Monday Night Raw, featuring the 2014 Slammy Awards, will also see the return of the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar.

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Smark 200x200When the Unbreakable has been Broken

Unbreakable Michael Elgin was advertised, by former employer Ring of Honor, to be at their event Champions vs. All Stars. Apparently Michael Elgin wasn’t told about this beforehand and gave his response via Twitter earlier today, which you can see down below.

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Smark 200x200What’s His Angle?

Current TNA and former WWE superstar Kurt Angle had an interesting interview with AlternativeNation.net, in which he discussed his future. Angle is currently at an impasse career-wise. He is still recuperating from his recent knee surgery, one of several that he’s had over the years. Kurt also is on the cusp of free agency. It is no secret that Kurt has shown interest in a WWE return. He is playing it close to the vest for the moment.

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Smark 200x200Dixie Carter and the Three Headed Serpent, or The Rise and Fall of TNA Wrestling

TNA had many issues that, with time, could have been resolved with some savvy business decisions, tight scripting by creative and the consistently hard work of the wrestlers on the roster. But Dixie Carter put her chips on three men who, quite possibly, were major contributors to the downfall of another wrestling promotion. You might remember three familiar letters, W-C-W (World Championship Wrestling). You might also remember three other familiar names: Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, and Vince Russo.

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Smark 200x200Diva, the Other Four-Letter Word

Tonight’s episode of Monday Night Raw saw an incredibly bloated segment focusing on the schism between Nikki and Brie Bella. Viewers also saw the continued escalation between current champion Paige and recently dethroned champ and now number one contender, AJ Lee.

The fan reaction during the latter was some of the louder cheering we’ve heard from the WWE Universe during a Women’s segment in a while. The “Divas Suck” chant during the former really illuminates what the fans think about current booking of the women’s division.

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Smark 200x200Musings of a WWE Live Attendee

This past week, I attended Monday Night Raw, live from Austin, Texas. For those who have never attended a live wrestling show, let alone a WWE event, you are depriving yourself of one of the most exhilarating experiences one could have watching a sporting event. The fans, the signs, the chants, the cheers, the beers, all coalesce into a maelstrom of regalement.

Being that this is the first actual televised show that I’ve been to in quite a while, I felt alienated, yet quite at home all at the same time. Some things have changed and some never will in the world of professional wrestling. As such, I have listed ten things of note that stood out to me whilst in attendance.

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Smark 200x200Money In The Bank 2014 Was Money Indeed

THIS is more like it, WWE. After several months of barely passable pay-per-view events, World Wrestling Entertainment finally brought its A game. This could be their response to TNA, who put on perhaps the best pay-per-view of 2014 with their Slammiversary event. If this is a game of one-upsmanship, then I’m gleefully along for the ride.

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Smark 200x200Payback is a Bitch

This pay-per-view had a significant number of long simmering feuds that were bound to explode. But there were several matches that felt like there was something missing and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

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Smark 200x200Ten Steps Toward A Better WWE

We’ve all done it before. Every wrestling fan has, at one point or another, tried to postulate how they would “fix” World Wrestling Entertainment. While I will admit that the show is not terrible right now, it’s a far cry from high quality programming week-in and week-out. As merely a spectator who has watched wrestling from dozens of promotions for over three decades, I am only giving my humble opinion of the top ten things that the “Fed” needs to fix…

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Smark 200x200A Millionaire That Should Be a Billionaire

The words in this article’s title were stated by one CM Punk a mere three years ago. His sardonic wit and knack for shooting from the hip maybe lit the fire under Vince’s ass, because he wheeled and dealed his way back to billionaire status. That was until this past week.

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Smark 200x200Rules Are Extreme. Results, Not So Much

As WWE Extreme Rules ended, I found myself pressing the playback button to watch it again. Not the entirety of it, because the WWE’s version of Extreme Rules never quite lives up if you’ve ever watched other promotions utilize this match type (ECW). But I must say, certain spots really proved the hunger of some of the WWE’s best and brightest.

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Smark 200x200A Global Force to be Reckoned With

Twelve years ago, pro-wrestling superstar Jeff Jarrett helped create Total Nonstop Action’s Impact Wrestling, which would go on to become the second largest wrestling promotion in the United States. The company trailed behind the only major competitor at the time, World Wrestling Entertainment and edged out number three, Ring of Honor.

Now, not even six months after leaving TNA (in which he still remains an investor), Jarrett is about to bring forth a potential fourth major U.S. competitor, Global Force Wrestling.

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Smark 200x200A Warrior’s Trip to Valhalla

One of the very first WWF matches I remember seeing as a kid featured the Ultimate Warrior vs another deceased legend, Ravishing Rick Rude. Their styles couldn’t be more different. Rick Rude fought with a tactician’s finesse, and a little bit of flair. Warrior’s was all intensity, all power and there was no slowing him down. The two clashing styles worked to dazzling effect.

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Smark 200x200 Puroresu Makes an Impact

This past Sunday, TNA Wrestling’s Lockdown pay-per-view featured a six-man tag team match between Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels, and Kazarian vs Yasu, Sanada, and wrestling legend The Great Muta. Muta’s appearance was quite a treat as he put on a clinic in the ring. Thankfully, this rare U.S. appearance won’t be so rare in the future.

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Smark 200x200Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest, Put Raw’s Writers to the Test

Last week’s Monday Night Raw featured a guest spot by Need for Speed and Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul. In the past, these guest spots have been extreme hits or misses. But this one was short and sweet, showing Paul drive Dolph Ziggler to the ring in a Shelby Mustang, getting a huge pop from the crowd.

Now, at the height of the Raw guest appearance shtick (2009-10), these episodes were either pure gold, or a poo-poo panini. Here are some of their best and worst attempts at this.

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Smark 200x200WWE Needs A New Home, Any Takers?

Earlier today, word broke about the failure of NBC Universal and World Wrestling Entertainment to come to an agreement, thus the future of Raw (currently on USA Monday nights) and SmackDown (currently on SyFy on Friday nights) is now up in the air. The WWE was looking for a better deal, as their most recent deal is just shy of $140 million.

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Smark 200x200Royal Bumbles to Contract Fumbles

The embarrassment of last Sunday’s Royal Rumble has been talked about ad nauseum, so I won’t get too deep into that. The short of it is, despite a packed arena chanting in unison for Daniel Bryan, all in attendance were left unassuaged as he did not even appear in the thirty man-over the top rope challenge. Fans were so irate that they booed everyone still competing in the ring, even long-standing babyface Rey Mysterio and the newly returned Batista, the latter’s post-show interactions with the fans won’t earn him any points with them or probably with upper management.