In our new weekly column we look at all the action from the world of WWE wrestling in WWE TLC (The Latest Chat).
Get involved and share your opinions on the week’s events by using #360WWE.
As the WWE Universe prepares itself for the 11th, and penultimate, pay-per-view of 2014, this week’s Raw was geared at garnering hysteria around its main event at Survivor Series.
One of the franchise’s ‘big four’ PPVs, Survivor Series has thrown up some of the greatest fights in WWE history (who could forget Stone Cold vs Bret Hart in 1996?).
It has also regularly pitted a team of heels against a group of faces, a format that is brought back to life at the 28th edition of Survivor Series.
Desperate to ramp up excitement for Sunday’s showpiece, the majority of this week’s Monday Night Raw was made up of the main protagonists exchanging words of ill feeling that ultimately ended in the WWE Superstars picking their sides and having a good old fashioned brawl.
The Authority kicked things off, with Triple H at his evil CEO best, before a series of events unfolded to show us who will be fighting in what corner at the Scottrade Centre in St. Louis.
It will be Team Cena that they face. A group of fan favourites aimed at upsetting the odds and engineering some appeal from a largely disgruntled set of WWE fans who have been let down this year by botched storylines and the obvious disappointment surrounding the launch of the WWE Network – the organisation’s digital TV service.
As the night wore on we saw the beginnings of a fruitful rivalry between Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper (the latter claiming the Intercontinental Championship in predictably controversial fashion), The Miz talking to a cat, a pair of sisters acting equally catty and some heavyweights suplex each other into submission.
That was all before the contract signing which saw all hell break loose and the names confirmed for the big one this weekend.
Team Cena: John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Ryback and Erick Rowan
Team Authority: Kane, Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, Mark Henry and Rusev
Hero of the week: Dolph Ziggler
Jumped by Harper’s henchmen before the fight, Ziggler demanded the referee continue with proceedings despite getting a battering before his title defence even began.
Ziggler went on to lose but Harper as a combatant could make for a good run for Ziggler who has long been in need of a rival with some real venom.
Villain of the week: Triple H
Doing what he does best, Hunter’s role at the heart of all things evil is one he has mastered over his career.
He may just about be able to breathe some life into this rivalry yet and deliver a main event to bring cheer to fans of the WWE.
Sami Zayn, a Canadian-born wrestler of Syrian descent, was in Dubai recently at NXT’s training camp.
Having wrestled in 29 countries before joining NXT, Zayn has a deep history with hardcore wrestling fans all around the world.
The attention he’s received from matches against Antonio Cesaro and Tyler Breeze has vaulted Zayn to NXT prominence and he’s poised to be featured on the big stage at WWE.
What attracted you to wrestling?
I just always liked it. When I was 17, a friend of mine called me and told me he had found a local wrestler who could train us. I essentially got pretty low quality training, nothing like we have today at the WWE Performance Center. I trained literally in the backyard with no ring and learned how to fall on the grass. But I learned a lot on the job.
I’ve been very privileged to work with a lot of great guys who’ve helped me get a lot better over the years.
You grew up in the 1980s and 90s, which was a golden age of professional wrestling. Which wrestler was your favourite?
There are wrestlers who I’ve enjoyed watching and then those who have influenced me to become a wrestler. When I was very young my initial influence was Hulk Hogan. As a kid, I was blown away by the theatrics and the showmanship.
When I got a little bit older, Bret Hart was a huge influence on me. Then, in my teens, Mankind and the stuff he was doing was so out of the box, it was very appealing to me that he was just a kid wrestling in his backyard and made it his way. By the time I was in the my late teens, it was the Hardy Boyz, who again were unconventional, very athletic and just did a lot of cool stuff. And they too started out in their backyard just like I was at the time. To see them rise to that level, it really influenced me. It was like ‘wait a minute, this is a possibility’.
You never think you’ll actually end up here when you’re a kid, but it just touches you.
You’ve wrestled all around the world. How much has that international experience impacted you?
I would say it’s 100 per cent why I am the way I am or how I am professionally. I mentioned those five wrestlers who had an influence on me, but there are others like Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenkos and Eddie Guerrero who started out from whatever region they were and made their way to Mexico and Japan and then Europe and to ECW or WCW and then finally WWE.
So that was the career path I wanted because to me, I liked that work. Those are the guys who spoke to me. To me, that was just the road a wrestler had to take. It’s like you had to be a craftsman and a journeyman and that was the journey you had to take. But the business has evolved a lot from that and right now, we’re in the middle of a camp full of guys who have never wrestled a day in their life and tomorrow they could be in the WWE.
So that tells you how much the industry has changed. I do feel it gives me an advantage because I’m a big believer that work is the only way to get good. You have to work in front of every crowd and that’s my advice to up-and-coming wrestlers, just work everywhere as often as you can.
Don’t ask me about money. That shouldn’t be in your mind starting out. Just go everywhere. Learn what’s it’s like to wrestle in front of five people in a basement. Learn what it’s like to wrestle in front of 300 people. Learn what it’s like to do a show in front of 5,000 Japanese people. You have to experience all of this and when you do, you learn how to adapt and it just makes you a complete performer.
How different is your style in the ring after joining the WWE from your earlier wrestling days?
Adapting to the WWE was interesting and in general, coming from the independent life and all these mixed shows, style-wise it’s not as if a lot has changed. Things are not a whole lot different from what I was doing earlier, but there are some adaptations that need to happen. They’re not going to turn your whole world upside down, but it’s a slightly different way they like things to be done and there’s a specific reason why it needs to be done.
You’re not going to work the same way in front of 300 people as you would in front of a camera that’s going out to 140 countries.
How important do you view NXT as a developmental circuit to get wrestlers up to the WWE?
I actually think it’s pivotal. NXT is a great replica of what’s done in the WWE. It’s really important to get adjusted to the little things that I mentioned and to be a little more TV friendly, learning camera angles, learning to communicate with the commentators and just all these nuances. So I’ve grown a lot as a performer and not just in NXT, but also in the day-to-day stuff which can be… I don’t want to say monotonous, but you don’t realise until you look at yourself after a few months that you’ve made some strides.
That’s coming from me, who’s 12 years deep. If you’re someone who’s starting from scratch, it is an amazing tool that we never had. It’s never been like this. The word ‘developmental’ is now kind of like a brand. It wasn’t like this when it was getting started so it’s a good time to get signed.
What’s your go-to or favourite move in the ring right now?
There’s definitely some signature stuff that I hit and have been doing for years. I don’t necessarily have some favourites and matches are really circumstantial. If I’m wrestling the Big Show and my favourite move is the ‘Blue Thunder Bomb’, it probably won’t work there. But that’s all about adaptability. I haven’t had to throw a whole lot of moves out of my repertoire when I got to NXT. I just adjust and go match by match and day by day really.
How soon do you think we’ll see you on the main roster of the WWE?
Barring any catastrophe, it’s just a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of people take note as getting people’s attention can take a while. I want to continue to hold people’s attention to the point where people go ‘okay, this is ridiculous. We need to have this guy on Raw already’. There’s been a lot of support from within the company and from fans. [But] it’s not my call. If it were, I’d be there tomorrow, but if I have to keep doing what I’m doing and keep having people demanding or really let it bubble. I’m a patient person and I realise that’s important. The shorter answer would be, hopefully soon.
Although the WWE is a relatively nascent organisation, such is its global pubic appeal and allure, it seems to have been around forever.
When you are flicking through your television stations, it’s likely that you will happen upon some WWE wrestler attempting one of his signature “moves” on a fellow superstar.
If they’re not fighting, they’re usually ratcheting up the rhetoric, shouting scripted slurs at each other as the compelling storylines, which the organisation is notorious for, gather pace from one week to the next.
If you thought all this was something you’d only ever witness from your couch, with a remote control in your hand, then you might be wrong, because the stars of the sport will be at Zayed Sports City this weekend.
This sporting phenomenon is now on your doorstep and is going ahead over three nights this weekend, with exciting match-ups promised for each night.
The biggest of these will no doubt be the two battles between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan who fight for the WWE Championship on Thursday, October 10 and Saturday, October 12. Orton, who is a 6ft 5in (1.92m) giant of a man, uses an ‘RKO’ to finish off his opponents.
A devastating move which means it’s almost impossible to make a recovery in time for the three-count. The RKO is a highly-technical move which involves Orton jumping towards his man, grabbing his head in a three-quarter face-lock while parallel to the ground, and then slamming it to the canvas. The referee slides in and gives Orton the win on the spot.
Daniel Bryan – who has a very distinguished beard – is a much smaller guy. At 5ft 8in (1.77m), he has to use other ways of winning than brute strength and raw power, and his signature move allows him to do just this.
The “Yes!” Lock maneuver or the “LeBell lock” is named after “Judo” Gene LeBell, a master of both Mixed Martial Arts and wrestling. The move exemplifies LeBell’s claim to fame: bending opponents into excruciatingly painful positions. Bryan is able to pin his opponent face down on the canvas and, wrapping his hands around his face, pull the head back so the back is bent to its limit, causing the opponent tremendous pain in the process.
An eight-man tag team match-up is on the card for Friday, where Daniel Bryan, Big Show, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler are due to square off against Randy Orton and The Shield, which is a team made up of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns.
The Shield have had their differences with Randy Orton in the past, but they feel that teaming up with this superstar against the likes of Bryan and his team is for the greater good.
Reigns actually played American Football with the Minnesota Vik-ings and the Jacksonville Jaguars before joining the WWE. Big Show has been around the WWE for quite a while now and he is something to witness up close.
At 7ft (2.13m) and 445 lbs (193kg), this colossus can intimidate his opponents by just standing next to them. The Miz – who was in the UAE recently to promote the event – joined the WWE in 2006 after being the host of a WWE Diva Search competition.
His signature move is the Skull-Crushing Finale and I don’t think I need to explain what that entails! Other superstars expected to entertain the Abu Dhabi crowds are Ryback, Fandango, Kofi Kingston, Wade Barrett, Santino Marella, Justin Gabriel, The USOs, Real Americans, Sami Zayn and Bo Dallas.
There are still tickets available for this and you can get them by logging on to www.ticketmaster.ae where prices start at Dh300. The event is on at Zayed Sports City Tennis Stadium and at 19.00 each night.
Log onto www.zsc.ae for more details.
SUPERSTARS IN TOWN
The Miz Height: 6’2” Weight: 220 lbs. From: Cleveland, Ohio Signature Move: Skull-Crushing Finale Career Highlights: WWE Tag Team Champion; World Tag Team Champion; United States Champion; Unified Tag Team Champion; WWE Champion; Intercontinental Champion.
Dolph Ziggler Height: 6’0” Weight: 213 lbs. From: Cleveland, Ohio Signature Move: Zig Zag Career Highlights: WWE World Heavyweight Champion (twice), WWE World Tag Team Champion, Money in the Bank 2012, WWE Intercontinental Champion; WWE United States Champion.
Randy Orton Height: 6’5” Weight: 245 lbs. From: St Louis, Missouri Signature Move: RKO Career highlights: WWE Champion; World Heavyweight Champion; Intercontinental Champion; World Tag Team Champion; 2009 Royal Rumble Match winner; Money in the Bank Ladder Match winner for a WWE Championship Contract (2013).
Big Show Height: 7’0” Weight: 425 lbs. From: Aiken, South Carolina Signature Move: Chokeslam; KO Punch; Colossal Clutch Career highlights: World Heavyweight Champion; WWE Champion; ECW World Champion; WCW Champion; World Tag Team Champion; WWE Hardcore Champion; United States Champion; WWE Tag Team Champion; Intercontinental Champion.
Daniel Bryan Height: 5’10” Weight: 210 lbs. From: Aberdeen, Washington Signature Move: “Yes!” Lock Career highlights: WWE Champion (twice); WWE Tag Team Champion; United States Champion; 2011 SmackDown Money in the Bank winner.