The Delco Elbow Drop

Monday, January 6, 2014

WWE in 2014 - A changing landscape

The last Raw of 2013 was a very solid episode which sets up for a very interesting 2014. The landscape of the WWE is changing it seems, with the WWE and World Heavyweight championships being unified – and talk of the United States and Intercontinental championships being unified as well - the title scene isn’t the only thing undergoing upheaval these days.

The roster itself is seeing a greater influx of new talent from WWE’s developmental system in the past year than perhaps any year ever before. NXT, a promotion which films episodes at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida has been a monumental success and incredible talent like the Shield and Big E. Langston have already made a huge impact on Raw and Smackdown. But going forward, expect to see current and future NXT call-ups having larger and larger roles on the main roster.

Returning Superstars like Batista and Brock Lesnar also shake things up quite a bit. Both men are monsters in the ring and both clearly have the WWE World Heavyweight championship in their sights. Lesnar has an edge in that Paul Heyman also made his return and is still representing The Beast. It will be interesting to see if Heyman runs across Ryback and Curtis Axel and they resolve their sudden estrangement, but I’m more interested in seeing if Lesnar’s confrontation on Raw with Mark Henry will turn into a larger feud. Henry has been playing the role of mentor to Big E. lately and could use a program of his own to work with. Big E. could even be involved, since Heyman was the catalyst for Big E. coming into his own, after Heyman talked down to him during a backstage segment. Plus, I can’t imagine that Henry will just back down after the way Lesnar brutalized him last Monday.

But even with the reemergence of Batista and Brock Lesnar, along with John Cena and Randy Orton already on the championship scene, I still have to believe that Daniel Bryan will eventually earn his shot and capture the WWE World Heavyweight championship for good. Whether it’s at the Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber, the Wyatt Family will be the edge that Daniel Bryan needs to overcome the Authority’s desire to see him out of the title picture.

What does 2014 hold for the WWE?
-As far as the WWE World Heavyweight title is concerned, any number of Superstars could have a legitimate shot at winning the belt from Randy Orton and right now, Batista and Lesnar are obviously at the top of the list. But Orton has shown a great amount of cunning and tenacity in the past few months and counting him out, especially since he still has the favor of the Authority, would be a mistake. John Cena is another perennial contender for the title but with Lesnar and Batista returning, it’s getting a little crowded at the top of WWE. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cena ends up feuding with one of the returning monsters before setting his sights on the title again in earnest.

-There are only two Pay-Per-Views between now and Wrestlemania – Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber – and each offer a shot at becoming the number one contender to the WWE World Heavyweight championship. Brock will most likely get his shot at Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble and will most likely win, then defend the belt until Wrestlemania (similar to The Rock’s reign last year). But it will be very interesting to see who comes out victorious in the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber matches. Bryan, Cena and Batista all have equally good shots at earning title shots at either event. Cena always seems to be involved with the World title somehow and Batista’s history with Triple H and Randy Orton can’t be overlooked and one would have to assume he’ll also be vying for the belt. Whether he returns to oppose his former Evolution mates or become a part of the Authority himself is something we’ll have to wait for his return on Jan. 20 to find out.

-The Royal Rumble could also hold the surprise return of many Superstars. There are rumors that Rob Van Dam could be returning in the Rumble at the end of January, after taking a few months off. The Rumble also marks six months since Sheamus had shoulder surgery and should be cleared to return. I would hope that the Irish born Superstar returns as a heel, since his feuds with Sandow and Mark Henry as a face before his surgery were largely forgettable and it would be good to see what he can do as a bad guy. Another possible return for the Rumble is Chris Jericho, though this is a long-shot. Jericho has said a few times on Twitter recently that he has no plans of returning to the ring any time soon – but that could just be classic misdirection from Y2J. And below is a tweet from the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah from just last night, clearly trolling.
-Big E. Langston is really coming into his own in recent months and his run as the Intercontinental champion should cement him as one of the brightest up-and-coming Superstars in WWE. He has a great look, is incredibly athletic for a man his size and is only getting better on the mic. He’s hilarious if you follow him on Twitter (@BigELangston) and his shenanigans with Kaitlyn, Summer Rae and Xavier Woods on Instagram should not be missed ( either. His match last Monday against Fandango for the IC belt was a really solid contest and hopefully Ziggler comes back on the scene and challenges his former friend for the belt (seeing as how Fandango beat Ziggler to earn his shot at the belt). Big things are in store for Big E.

-The Rhodes Brothers continue to hold the WWE Tag Team championships, just barely surviving the Wyatt Family on Smackdown this week. The Brotherhood is coming up on three months as the champions and still look incredibly strong. The tag team division is a lot deeper than it was when Team Hell No held the belts, making the Brotherhood look even stronger. With credible challengers in the form of the Real Americans, the Wyatt Family and the Usos, the tag division is looking better than it has in a long time. And even though the Shield seems to be on their way out, Rollins and Reigns could easily earn another shot at the belts. If I had to bet, the strong money is on the Wyatt Family finally unseating the Brotherhood as tag team champions. I could see Bray playing mind games with Cody and Goldust, leading the two on a path of self-destruction and potentially even feud after they lose the belts.

-The Shield seems to finally be showing cracks and it’s only a matter of time before Dean Ambrose loses the United States championship. Though there may have been dissension in the ranks of the Shield for a few months now, it didn’t become so obvious until CM Punk began feuding with the trio. Upset that the Authority would sic the Shield on him, Punk set about trying to destroy the Shield, targeting its weakest link. It’s hard to say that the Shield has any sort of physical weakness among them but collectively they have one very obvious weakness that Punk began to expertly tear down on Monday – their egos. In the ring, the Shield is a dominant force and while Punk can’t hope to physically match up against the group on his own, he is using his intelligence to turn the Shield against one another. Once the Shield breaks down for good, I could see Reigns and Rollins both challenging Ambrose for the United States title, with Reigns as the most likely victor in that feud.

-As I mentioned above, the WWE is already throwing out the possibility of the Intercontinental and United States championships being unified which could lead to a stellar feud between Big E. and Dean Ambrose. The two men have already had at least one great match, one that resulted in opening a nasty cut under the eye of Big E. There is great potential with these two guys and it’s completely realistic that Big E. Langston versus Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight championship could happen some day. And a feud between the two over the unified IC/US belt would be just a precursor to their future greatness.

-The WWE Divas division still seems to be somewhat of an afterthought, despite the utter majesty of AJ Lee’s current title reign. Should AJ hold the belt until the Royal Rumble, she will have surpassed Maryse’s reign of 216 days and officially be the longest reigning WWE Divas champion. The WWE still seems to be stuck on this idea of the “Total Divas” crew versus everyone else, regardless of what their alignment was before that show became a hit on in the E! Network. It’s hard to say what exactly will happen with the Divas division in 2014. I’d guess that Natty or one of the Bellas will get the next shot at the title but there’s usually not much rhyme or reason as to who challenges for the Divas title so it could be Eva Marie next for all we know.

And just a few final notes on other wrestlers and the lower-mid card:
-What is the deal with Damien Sandow? He won MITB over the summer only to fail when he cashed in against John Cena during an episode of Raw. He seems to still have the WWE World Heavyweight title in his sights but there doesn’t seem to be a real way for him to accomplish that goal. And seeing as how  he threatened to quit on Raw last week if he didn’t win his match that night, things are not looking so good for Sandow right now.

-Dolph Ziggler is another guy whose stock fell pretty sharply last year. After cashing in his own MITB contract to defeat Alberto Del Rio at the first Raw after Wrestlemania for the World Heavyweight championship, he lost the belt just over two months later to ADR and has been sliding down the roster ever since. He lost AJ, he lost Big E. and lost whatever momentum he had going at the beginning of 2013. The “Show-Off” has all the tools in the ring and on the mic to be a bigger star but it seems that creative still has nothing for him. Hopefully he’ll return to his heelish ways and get more screen time in 2014.

-Ryback has also been on a massive skid lately. After numerous shots at John Cena’s WWE Title last year and being paired with Paul Heyman, he now finds himself in a third-rate tag team with Curtis Axel jobbing to the likes of Los Matadores. “The Big Guy” has shown a lot of promise on the mic and has the kind of look WWE goes for but still just can’t seem to break through to the next level. If something doesn’t change for Ryback in 2014, fans might have to find someone else to level misplaced “Goldberg” chants at.

-As derided as the angle has become online, turning Brodus Clay into a delusional heel and having him attack Xavier Woods and R-Truth is actually a pretty great story for the lower card. Clay can be an intimidating presence in WWE and Xavier Woods ultimately getting the best of the Funkasaurus would be a great start to his career on the main roster.

(Photo credits -  Orton:; Rumble poster:; Rhodes bros:; The Shield:; Eva Marie:


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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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