Normally, this would be a clear choice for Achilles Heel. But, given the political circumstances and unrest in that part of the world, I chose to avoid scheduling a Middle Eastern vacation at this time. The Greek god of wrestling considered living in luxury, hanging out on the beach and going snorkeling at the beautiful Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh, but it’s too far from there to Cairo, where the WWE events were being held. Besides, it’s difficult to leave the luxury and beauty of Sharm El-Sheikh for Cairo.
Those who attended the Trenton show Friday saw a Hell in a Cell preview of sorts, with C.M. Punk defending the WWE Championship against Ryback. If you read this on Saturday, there still might be time to get to Reading for tonight’s show (7:30 p.m.). For those not far from New Jersey, RAW will be at the Izod Center in East Rutherford for RAW on Monday night.
As I mentioned above, Ryback is headlining WWE house shows in preparation for his pay-per-view Hell in a Cell match against C.M. Punk on Oct. 27 in Atlanta. Ryback moved into the main event when John Cena required elbow surgery after Night of Champions.
Ryback’s meteoric rise didn’t come as quickly as it seems. As is usually the case in professional wrestling, the man paid his dues before rising to the top.
Ryan Reeves (Ryback’s real name) was first seen by most WWE fans way back in 2004, when he was the final wrester voted off the Tough Enough 4 competition. He was signed to a WWE developmental contract and kicked around Deep South Wrestling and Ohio Valley Wrestling. After a hiatus of more than a year, Reeves returned to Ohio Valley Wrestling in 2008 as Ryback, a persona he retained when he moved on to Florida Championship Wrestling. In Florida, where he teamed with Sheamus to form a powerhouse tag team, Ryback was later transformed into Skip Sheffield.
Sheffield returned to WWE television in 2010 as one of the so-called rookies on NXT auditioning for a WWE contract. Keep in mind that this is six years after he first appeared on Tough Enough. Sheffield was voted off NXT, along with Daniel Bryan and Michael Tarver, by the “Pros.”
Sheffield became part of the Nexus invasion angle. Nexus consisted of NXT participants, who were led by NXT winner Wade Barrett. They interfered in a RAW main event match between John Cena and Punk, which was one of the most shocking angles in recent WWE history.
Unfortunately for Sheffield, he broke his ankle in August of that year. He didn’t return to WWE television until April of this year.
Ryback has gained momentum throughout this year. When Cena injured his elbow, Ryback was there to seize the opportunity.
The point of all this is that Ryback may seem like an overnight sensation, but the truth is that, like most professional wrestlers, it took years of training and hard work to put him into position to become an “overnight sensation.”
NEXUS IMPACT: It’s remarkable to realize how successful the first class of NXT has become. In addition to Ryback, Daniel Bryan has become one of WWE’s top stars, having held the World Heavyweight Championship, battled C.M. Punk for the WWE Championship in an outstanding series of matches and currently sharing (barely) the WWE Tag Team Championship with Kane.
Wade Barrett, the winner of NXT and the original leader of Nexus, is back near the top of the WWE after having his rise detoured earlier this year by a dislocated elbow. His recent matches with Sheamus have featured inconclusive endings, leaving the door open for Barrett to challenge for the World Heavyweight title down the road.
Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel haven’t attained the same level of success as the trio mentioned above, but they have been solid contributors to WWE. Slater has formed a new faction with Drew McIntyre and Jinder Mahal. Gabriel is teaming up with Tyson Kidd. Darren Young has moved back into the spotlight as part of the Prime Time Players tag team, and David Otunga remains a recurring character, albeit a limited in-ring performer. Of the original NXT participants and Nexus members, only Michael Tarver is not in WWE.
GLORY DAYS FOR HARDY: As your not-so-humble Greek god of wrestling predicted, Jeff Hardy won TNA’s World Championship from Austin Aries at “Bound for Glory.” There is tremendous potential for Hardy. He had a terrific match against Aries, and there should be more to follow.
With Hardy, however, there is always a fear that he could fall off the wagon. This would be more of a risk for WWE than TNA. Having a world champion busted for drugs would be a public relations nightmare for WWE, but TNA flies below the mainstream radar, so putting the belt on Hardy is worth the risk.
I hope Hardy stays clean. He could have excellent matches against Kurt Angle, AJ Styles and Bobby Roode, just to name a few.
ACES AREN’T WILD: The potential for Jeff Hardy’s championship reign looks bright, but the same can’t be said for the Aces and Eights angle. First, the nickname is confusing. Second, the angle hasn’t caught on with the fans.
Having Devon return as an Aces and Eights accomplice was mildly interesting. TNA better have a “big reveal” planned or else this angle could fizzle out.
RESTORING THEIR HONOR: Ring of Honor needed a good Internet pay-per-view more than President Obama needed a good showing during the second presidential debate. Ring of Honor came through with flying colors.
The main event of “Glory By Honor XI” last weekend, Kevin Steen defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Michael Elgin, received rave reviews. Adam Cole’s victory over Eddie Edwards also was terrific. In fact, the entire event was good, from start to finish.
The best part is that fans actually got to see these quality matches. Ring of Honor was not plagued by widespread problems with Internet streaming of its show, as it has been during several earlier pay-per-view events.
IN-RING TRAINING: Ring of Honor’s wrestling classes begin Monday in Bristol. Delirious is the head trainer. The next Ring of Honor tryouts will be Dec. 8-9. For more information, go to the Ring of Honor Web site.
CHIKARA IN PHILLY: CHIKARA will make its return to Philadelphia at the end of November. First, it will take part in “The Blank Canvas,” a wrestling and art show on Fri., Nov. 30. Two days later, on Dec. 2, CHIKARA will host “Under the Hood,” its final show of 2012, at The Trocadero on Arch Street.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Kofi Kingston wasn’t without gold for too long. Kingston and R-Truth lost the tag team championship to Kane and Daniel Bryan at Night of Champions, but Kingston regained gold by defeating The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship on The Main Event on Wednesday. The Main Event was terrific, making it 3-for-3 since its debut.
EXTREME MOVE: The Extreme Rising show, originally scheduled for Nov. 17 at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory, has been rescheduled for Dec. 29. Instead, Extreme Rising will hold an event in Monaca, Pa. (near Pittsburgh) on Nov. 17.
WRESTLING DEATHS: Unfortunately, suicide reared its ugly head again this week, with two former wrestlers ending their own lives. Mike Graham, who real name was Mike Gossett, shot himself, ending his life at 61. Graham was the son of Eddie Graham, a fantastic Florida promoter and tough wrestler who, tragically, also committed suicide via gun shot at age 55.
The second reported suicide involved Marvin Lambert, who wrestled as Brain Damage. Lambert is best known to local fans for his work with Combat Zone Wrestling. Condolences go out to the family and friends of both men.
RAW IN PHILLY: Tickets go on sale next Saturday (Oct. 27) for RAW’s return to the Wells Fargo Center on Dec. 17. That show is one night after WWE’s “TLC” pay-per-view in Brooklyn.