Since the next Heel Turns will be replaced by the best darn WrestleMania XXX preview on the Internet, I’ll spend some time this week examining the independent cards taking place in New Orleans on WrestleMania weekend. First, though, we’ll take a quick peek at WrestleMania XXX.
The Greek god of wrestling thinks the WrestleMania XXX card is looking pretty good. Barring another match being added, next weekend’s extravaganza should rise to the standard expected for the biggest wrestling show of the year.
The main event features Randy Orton defending the WWE Heavyweight Championship against Batista and either Triple H or Daniel Bryan, depending on which one wins their earlier match. Joining those two matches among the most anticipated bouts is Undertaker putting his 21-0 WrestleMania record on the line against Brock Lesnar.
Another intriguing bout pits John Cena against Bray Wyatt. The Wyatt Family, which also includes Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, has been playing head games with Cena lately. The scene at the end of an outstanding match between Cena and Luke Harper on RAW – Harper was tremendous in this match – was memorable. An unconscious or semi-conscious Cena, with his arms caught in the ropes, was wearing Rowan’s sheep mask as Rowan, Harper and Wyatt tormented him.
The rest of the card was filled out this past week. Los Matadores and The Real Americans were added to the tag team title match, which is now a four-way that includes Curtis Axel and Ryback and the champion Uso brothers. There will be a six-man tag team match involving The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose) and the team of Kane and the New Age Outlaws (Jesse James, Billy Gunn).
Vickie Guerrero announced that Divas champion A.J. Lee will defend her title against 13 Divas in the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational. Until the rules are explained, I’ll assume this is solely an attempt to get lots of Divas in the ring at the same time. And Achilles Heel isn’t complaining.
With the competitors in the tag team title match removed from the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, there are four spots remaining from the 30-wrestler match. Don’t be surprised if (potential spoiler alert) a certain former extreme star fills one of the remaining four spots. Bad News Barrett is also conspicuous by his absence. Achilles Heel will have a breakdown of the battle royal, and all the matches, in his WrestleMania XXX preview.
HARPER EXCELS: As I stated in the opening item, Luke Harper was terrific in his RAW match with John Cena. He executed a dive through the ropes and other athletic moves you don’t expect to see from a man his size. Don’t be fooled by Harper’s appearance. He can wrestle.
BIG NAMES AT WRESTLECON: The largest non-WWE event in New Orleans will be WrestleCon, a combination of matches and wrestling-related events. Big names scheduled to appear are Sting, Kurt Angle, Adam Copeland (Edge), Goldberg and Terry Funk.
The wrestling card, featuring wrestlers from Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling, PWG, WildKat and $5 wrestling, takes place Saturday night. The bouts include CZW champion Drew Gulak battling Chris Hero and Ring of Honor’s Michael Elgin in a triple-threat match. Jeff Jarrett takes on Colt Cabana, and Ring of Honor’s Kevin Steen faces Masato Tanaka. CZW owner D.J. Hyde battles former CZW champion Masada in an ultraviolent rules match. Sid Vicious is also scheduled to compete.
WrestleCon includes autograph and photograph sessions, question-and-answer sessions and live entertainment.
LADDER MATCH: Ring of Honor will hold two events in the New Orleans area next weekend. Friday’s Supercard of Honor VIII is headlined by a ladder match between Ring of Honor world champion Adam Cole and Jay Briscoe, the former champ who claims to be the real world heavyweight champion.
Kevin Steen battles Michael Elgin, with the winner earning a shot at the IWGP heavyweight champion Kazuchika Okada at “War of the Worlds” on May 10 in Toronto. Tommaso Ciampa will defend the Ring of Honor World Television title against Jay Lethal in a best-2-out-of-3-falls match. Other matches include Mark Briscoe vs. Michael Bennett in a no-disqualification match, Roderick Strong vs. Cederic Alexander, and a three-way match featuring former tag team champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero) and Hanson and Raymond Rowe, with the winner to receive a tag team title shot against the Young Bucks at War of the Worlds.
Ring of Honor will also do a television taping Saturday. The main event is a six-man tag team match pitting the team of Cole, Bennett and Matt Hardy against Steen and the Briscoe brothers. Both events will be held at the John A. Alario Sr. Event Center in Westwego, La.
EVOLVING IN NEW ORLEANS: EVOLVE and DragonGate will be running shows three straight nights at Tulane University, starting with Thursday night. On Thursday, Chris Hero defnds the EVOLVE Championship against Trent Baretta Other matches Thursday include Johnny Gargano vs. Rich Swann, Ricochet vs. Anthony Nese and Drew Gulak vs. Biff Busick. Green Ant and A.R. Fox also in action.
Hero is back in action Friday for a non-title match against Masato Tanaka. Gargano battles Ricochet for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. There will also be a tag team match pitting Chuck Taylor and Gulak against The Colony’s Fire Ant and Green Ant. Saturday’s event, named Mercury Rising, will feature a six-man tag team tournament.
TRIPLE THREAT: If you were hoping for three straight nights of wrestling closer to home, you’re going to get it during the final weekend of April at the former ECW Arena in South Philadelphia. Extreme Rising will run events on April 25-26, with the Friday “Springtime Beatdown” event having been rescheduled from an earlier date. On Sun., April 27, there will be a Lucha Libre Mexicano event at the same location.
MAIN EVENT: TNA somehow found time between all of its backstage vignettes on Impact Wrestling for a terrific main event between James Storm and Gunner, who won the no-disqualification match. The Greek god of wrestling knows he’s sounding like a broken record, but TNA would benefit from more in-ring action and less backstage crap.
TEAMING UP FOR TRYOUT: Ring of Honor and New Japan Wrestling will be teaming up for a tryout/seminar on May 13-14 in Bristol, Pa. At least one participant will be selected to take part in a Future of Honor event. The seminar will last from 5-10 p.m.. The cost is $250.
These are two one-day seminars. Twenty-six applicants will be selected for each day. Wrestlers must have at least one year of experience in order to attend the seminar/tryout.
SWIMMING UPSTREAM: Ring of Honor’s history of problems with live streaming of of events has been well-documented. Ring of Honor hopes it has found the solution in USStream, which will be streaming Ring of Honor’s joint events with New Japan Wrestling on May 10 in Toronto and May 17 in New York. As I’ve mentioned before, streaming live events is an important revenue source for smaller wrestling organizations. Let’s hope this partnership helps Ring of Honor put its live streaming problems behind it.
WWE BACK IN PHILLY: Coming off shows in Atlantic City and Trenton last weekend, tickets for WWE’s return to Wells Fargo Center on June 22 go on sale today (Saturday).
WWE NETWORK HAS HART: The Greek god of wrestling didn’t have to search for a gem on WWE Network this week. WrestleMania Rewind featured the awesome opening match of WrestleMania X between brothers Bret and Owen Hart. Bret and Owen put on a wrestling clinic, which was surprisingly won by Owen. Later that night, Bret beat Yokozuna to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship.