Wrestling Ring

WrestleMania 36 Will Still Go On Despite Coronavirus Concerns

The coronavirus pandemic is causing all major large gatherings in the United States, and the world, to come to a halt until further notice. However, WWE has decided to take a more creative approach when it came time to discuss what to do about Wrestlemania 36. The SuperBowl of wrestling is scheduled for Sunday, April 5th and according to executives, the show will go on.

Originally, the event was going to take place at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, but now it will be relocated to the Performance Center in Orlando. Currently WWE’s weekly televised installments, RAW, Smackdown, and NXT, are all taking place at the center as well, and being recorded in front of an empty arena of seats. For Wrestlemania 36, for the first time in history, the event will also be recorded in front of a crowd-less arena.

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“In coordination with local partners and government officials, WrestleMania and all related events in Tampa Bay will not take place. However, WrestleMania will still stream live on Sunday, April 5 at 7 pm ET on WWE Network and be available on pay-per-view. Only essential personnel will be on the closed set at WWE’s training facility in Orlando, Florida to produce WrestleMania,” a WWE statement read.

WWE went on in their statement to assure fans who were planning on watching from home anyway that the show would be televised as scheduled, beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The event will also be live-streaming on the WWE Network in addition to being available for pay-per-view purchase. There’s still no official word about if the traditional pre-show that WWE hold’s before all of its PPV events will still take place. 

The same exact match card will also be taking place at Wrestlemania this year, meaning the only major change to the event is the fact that there will be no audience, and potentially no pre-show. Here are the most blockbuster matches that fans can still expect to see in April:

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Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre – WWE Championship: After Drew McIntyre delivered one of the biggest WWE upsets by winning the Royal Rumble this year, he decided to take on one of the biggest and most ruthless WWE Champions the network has ever seen; Brock Lesner. McIntyre was able to defeat Lesner in the Rumble, but fans are excited to see how the two powerhouses will do when up against one another exclusively. 

Goldberg vs. Roman Reigns – Universal Championship: When Goldberg initially one the Universal Championship at the Super Showdown, he asked the crowd a simple question, “who’s next?” to which Reigns came out from backstage claiming “I am.” It didn’t take long for the two to shake hands and agree to their Wrestlemania match.

John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt: When John Cena made his Smackdown return, he made it clear that he wasn’t ready to make his Wrestlemania return since he hadn’t earned it. However, before he could even finish The Fiend appeared and pointed at the Wrestlemania sign, Cena then tipped his cap and the match was official. 

Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler – RAW Women’s Championship: After a brutal assault on RAW from Baszler. Lynch was determined to seek her revenge, and luckily she had something Baszler wanted, the championship. At Elimination Chamber a month ago the two made it official. 

Wrestlemania 36 is likely to still be the most watched WWE event of the year, while an audience-free crowd may make the overall experience a truly unique one, the matches alone will make up for it. For a list of the rest of the matches on the card for Wrestlemania, and for some fan-predictions, click here.

WWE Ring

WWE’s 2020 Royal Rumble Finally Leaves Fans Satisfied

WWE’s annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view event was this past Sunday (01/26), and gave fans what is now being talked about as “the best men’s rumble match within the past decade.” Not only did WWE legends such as Edge make an iconic and unexpected comeback, but Drew McIntyre took the events biggest win in what fans are receiving as probably the least controversial and most rooted for win from a Rumble match in a while. 

WWE has been heavily criticized within the past year on their pay-per-views in general; the biggest complaint being the four to five hour length of every show. However, this year they’ve not only shortened the length of the Rumble, but delivered entertaining matches that were equally inclusive to all WWE superstars; another complaint regarding the pay-per-views was surrounding the balance between more established wrestlers versus amateur performers getting enough screen time.  

The main event of the evening was obviously the rumble match itself, which truly started with a bang. Brock Lesner has become of the most aggressively successful powerhouses the WWE has ever seen, so it makes sense that he would be the first of thirty men to start in the ring. As the clock went down, and more and more wrestlers joined Lesner in the ring a predictable pattern began to emerge, superstars were being eliminated just as quickly as they were entering into the competition. 

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Fans were waiting for the moment that someone would finally put Lesner in his place, a hope that is often met with disappointment. However, once our winner for the night, Drew McIntyre, entered the ring, it was hard to slow him down. Lesner was quickly eliminated once Ricochet kicked Lesner where the sun don’t shine as an act of revenge (Lesner did the same thing to Ricochet a few weeks prior). Once in a weakened state, McIntyre took the opportunity to throw Lesner out of the ring, thus eliminating one of the biggest threats of the whole match. 

As previously stated one of the biggest moments of the night was the completely unexpected return of Edge. Edge was sporadically forced into retirement back in 2011 after sustaining one to many neck injuries, worrying doctors that one minor blow could cause the WWE legend to break his neck. However, the wrestling stars must have aligned right, as Edge entered the ring as if he never left. He even got to reunite with former tag team partner Randy Orton in the middle of the rumble; the two together were called “Rated RKO” and were one of the most successful tag-teams during the attitude era. Their reunion was short-lived, however, as Randy Orton did the most predictable Orton move he could’ve and quickly turned on his former friend. The predictability of the move ended up working against Orton, and led to his elimination. 

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The real star moment of the evening, however, was McIntyre’s win. WWE set up the ending of the match to make it seem as though Roman Reigns, a former Rumble winner, would take the title yet again, and leave fans disappointed. Reigns even eliminated Edge, which really brought the crowd to the edge of their seats (no pun intended).  

McIntyre obviously ended up gaining control of the match in what ended up being one of the most awe-inspiring, unpredictable, yet highly desired, endings to a Rumble match in quite some time. This has now set up the superstar for a guaranteed match against current WWE champion, Brock Lesner, at Wrestlemania 36.

The WWE Royal Rumble this year has given fans a little bit of hope, in what has otherwise been a hopeless year. Between over-extended pay-per-views, an over-saturation of weekly wrestling content, and an unbalanced televised roster, WWE has seen a dramatic drop in viewership. However, they have taken these matters seriously, and have been working on shortening their pay-per-view programs, moving Smackdown back to Friday to give fans a break, and rotating through the many different talents that more underrated performers have to offer. The results have given the network back some of their viewership, and after this Sunday’s Rumble, it’s likely the road to recovery for the WWE Universe is going to be a successful one.

Empty Ring

2019 Was Kofi Kingston’s Year

As 2019 comes to a complete close, it’s time to look back on the year and acknowledge the moments that truly defined sports culture. For World Wrestling Entertainment, many moments take the cake, but none seemed to be as special as Kofi Kingston’s title win at Wrestlemania 35. After being in the WWE for over a decade, and being recognized by fans as one of the most underrated performers in the industry, fans rejoiced when Kingston finally got his moment, and the most prestigious championship title in pro-wrestling.

“We could have an hour-long discussion on how serendipitous winning the WWE championship was. It was just crazy … to be able to achieve my childhood dream, number one,” Kingston said to CBS Sports in an interview. 

CBS Sports is one of the many networks that comes out with their own official ranking of top sports moments every year. They even go as far as to give out their own CBS Sports Pro Wrestling awards, in order to cover all the many wrestling networks and branches that exist today. Kingston’s WWE championship win moment at Wrestlemania 35 took the award for “Moment Of The Year.”

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Kingston began his career with the WWE back in 2007, and he was quickly recognized as one of the most athletic performers in the industry. He’s been known for his complex aerials, daredevil moves, and overall positive attitude, which made him a quick favorite amongst all the fans. His enthusiasm and upbeat persona forced the audience to engage themselves with the match, even when they barely knew who Kingston was. 

As his career progressed he was able to claim multiple titles, including the Intercontinental, United States and Tag Team Championships on more than one occasion. In 2014, Kingston joined forces with Big E and Xavier Woods to form the tag team trio known as “The New Day.” At the time, Big E and Woods were fairly new to the WWE universe, and didn’t have a lot of notoriety among the fans. However, with the help of Kingston, they quickly became one of the most iconic tag teams in WWE history. 

The New Day currently holds the title for the longest Tag Team Championship title reign in WWE history; they held the titles for 483 days! This year, however, with both Big E and Woods in his corner, Kingston was able to accomplish the solo feat he’d always dreamed of and defeated Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania 35 for the WWE Championship. 

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The New Day

“There’s so many people on this planet who have dreams as kids, and when we become adults we cast those dreams by the wayside for whatever reason. When I was fantasizing about being a WWE superstar, I would always fantasize about matches at WrestleMania for the WWE title. So that was my exact dream, and that actually came true,” said Kingston

Kingston held the title for almost six months before losing it to Brock Lesner at Smackdown’s 20th Anniversary show in October. However, the Ghana-born wrestler has truly had an amazing reign as WWE champion, and has given a voice to anyone who has ever thought that their dreams were too big. 

Kingston and The New Day are still very much involved in the WWE Universe, and they’ve all become a common name in terms of pro wrestling elites. With Kingston’s recent success and title holding many expected retirement, I mean a championship title seems like a pretty great cherry on top in terms of career. However, Kingston has made no public statements hinting that retirement is coming anytime soon, so for now, we’ll just sit back and see what 2020 has in store for the champion.

The rest of CBS Sport’s Pro Wrestling Awards for 2019 are as follows:

  • Wrestler of the Year: Adam Cole
  • Match of the Year: Johnny Gargano def. Adam Cole in a 2-out-of-3 falls match (NXT TakeOver: New York)
  • Best Moment/Angle of the Year: Kofi Kingston wins the WWE title at WrestleMania 35 (WWE)
  • Worst Moment/Angle of the Year: Wild Card Rule (WWE)
  • Comeback Wrestler of the Year: Bray Wyatt (WWE)
  • Breakthrough Wrestler of the Year: Rhea Ripley (NXT)
  • Rookie of the Year: MJF (AEW)
  • Tag Team of the Year: Lucha Bros. (AEW)
  • Commentator of the Year: Mauro Ranallo (NXT)
  • Feud of the Year: Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT)
  • Best Pay-Per-View of the Year: WrestleKingdom 13 (NJPW)
  • Promo of the Year: Cody “silver spoon” (AEW)
  • Smack Talker of the Year: Cody (AEW)