Ring Rust Radio is the best wrestling show on the airwaves, and this week was no different. With strong opinions on The Undertaker, John Cena, The Rock and more, this is where you need to get all of your weekly WWE nuggets.
Bleacher Report featured columnists Michael Cahill, Brandon Galvin, Mike Chiari and Donald Wood give the lowdown on all things going on in the wrestling world.
With another unpredictable episode of Ring Rust Radio in the books, you can't afford to miss another second of the action. Catch us LIVE every Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET (some language NSFW) or follow us on Twitter @RingRustRadio.
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March 5 - Ken Shamrock
March 19 - Mark Madness
April 16 - nWo Era (1996-1997) Fantasy Draft
The Undertaker Returns at WWE House Show
There has been a lot of back and forth among wrestling fans in recent weeks and months regarding The Undertaker's status with WWE. While some expected him to return in time for WrestleMania as usual, there was a large contingent of fans that argued a mixture of injuries and contract issues would keep Taker away.
Many questions were answered last Saturday, though, as The Undertaker shockingly returned at a live event in Waco, Texas to team with Sheamus against Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is WWE Handling Taker Correctly?
Most were taken aback when news of Taker's house show appearance broke and that is totally understandable. The WWE usually produces vignettes when The Undertaker returns, or it has him return at a televised event at the very least. The WWE went in a totally different direction this time, though, and it led to some differing opinions among wrestling fans. Some understood and appreciated it, while others felt like it ruined the surprise factor.
Interestingly enough, the WWE pulled another swerve when Taker didn't make his televised return on Raw in Dallas. Most figured that he would be on Raw in his home state of Texas, but the WWE has really kept the fans on their toes.
Since Raw closed with John Cena finally vanquishing CM Punk and retaining his WrestleMania title match against The Rock, the WWE likely didn't want to overshadow it by having Taker come out afterwards.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
The consensus among the Ring Rust Radio panelists was that the WWE is doing a brilliant job with Taker thus far. The WWE could have brought The Undertaker back at any time without acknowledging him beforehand, but his return wouldn't reflect positively on the ratings.
Teasing fans with the house-show appearance presumably made many fringe fans tune in on Monday. Some of them were probably disappointed, but if they're really Undertaker fans, then they'll continue to watch Raw until he finally comes back.
We figure that he'll be present at Old School Raw in my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., on Monday, but it's impossible to say for sure. There are so many fans expecting it that the WWE could delay it another week and carry the viewing audience over once again.
Since Punk is officially outside the WWE Championship picture, though, it makes sense for him to cut a promo on Raw only for Taker to interrupt him. There are no guarantees when it comes to The Undertaker, however, he seems like a lock for WrestleMania and there is no doubt that the WWE has the fans' attention.
Rumor Mill: Undertaker "Confirmed" to Face Punk at 'Mania (via WrestlingInc.com)
John Cena vs. The Rock Set for WrestleMania
Many fans have suspected it for the past year, but on Monday it was officially announced that John Cena would face The Rock for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXIX. The Rock beat CM Punk to retain the title at Elimination Chamber, but Punk had one last shot to get involved in the WrestleMania main event.
Cena granted him a chance to take his spot in a match on Raw, but Cena ultimately prevailed in what emerged as an early Match of the Year candidate.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Twice In a Lifetime a Good Idea?
When it comes to Cena vs. The Rock at WrestleMania, most fans either love it or hate it. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground. The fringe fans are generally in support of it because they care more about the pageantry of the occasion rather than if the match has already been done or if CM Punk is somehow being buried on the card.
The opposite is true of many hardcore Internet fans, as the feeling seems to be that the first build and subsequent match weren't up to the high standards that were set.
Regardless of the chasm that obviously exists, the WWE is moving forward with what it believes is the right main event. The main difference between this year and last is that the build will be five weeks rather than 52 weeks.
It's likely that there was a lot of backlash last year because the match was announced well in advance and The Rock wasn't around for the majority of the time. Realistic and intelligent fans realized that was going to be the case, but it certainly didn't stop some from complaining. Things will be far more succinct this time around, though.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
While not all of us are absolutely ecstatic by the prospects of The Rock vs. Cena II, the entire Ring Rust Radio panel agrees that it's the right move for the WWE on all fronts.
From a financial standpoint, the WWE is going to do incredibly well. WrestleMania XXVIII was among the best ever in terms of buys and WrestleMania XXIX figures to be right on par, if not better. When you add Punk vs. Undertaker and Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar to the mix, there is enough star power atop the card to justify a Rock vs. Cena rematch.
I do understand the desire for something new and exciting at WrestleMania, but this certainly isn't the first time there has been a rematch at 'Mania. The Rock faced "Stone Cold" Steve Austin three times, and although it was different since those matches were spread out, I don't recall anyone complaining about it.
The WWE realizes that diehard fans are going to buy WrestleMania even though they claim to be disillusioned. The real money is in the demographic that wants to see someone like The Rock, who is perceived as a movie star by many. In that regard, you can't argue with the WWE's line of thinking.
Rumor Mill: The Rock No Longer Advertised for Extreme Rules (via WrestleZone.com)
Bully Ray Named No. 1 Contender for TNA World Title
TNA's final episode of Impact from England aired last week and it was certainly a show. The lack of an adjective should tell you how nondescript it truly was. One thing of note that did occur, however, was Bully Ray being named No. 1 contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Hulk Hogan held four matches the previous week to determine the No. 1 contender for Jeff Hardy's title, and despite the fact that Bully Ray didn't compete in any of them, he was ultimately chosen.
Question on Everybody's Mind: Is Bully Ray Part of Aces & Eights?
As idiotic of a decision as this was on Hogan's part from a storyline perspective, the Ring Rust Radio panel certainly saw it coming. Hogan has come to trust his "son-in-law" over the past few weeks, and that prompted Hogan to make a decision based on nepotism.
I realize that this is all part of an angle, but TNA made a fool of its fans by pretending like the four matches that happened the week before meant something. In actuality, they were all a sham and the entire show was essentially a waste of time.
Now that Bully Ray is No. 1 contender, it raises the question of whether Bully is part of Aces & Eights. He has been battling the group for the past several months, so it honestly wouldn't make a lot of sense in that regard, but this entire thing seems like Bully Ray gaining Hogan's trust only so he can get the title shot and ultimately turn on him.
That certainly sounds better than most of the trash that Aces & Eights has produced during its existence, but this could also be a very slippery slope moving forward.
Ring Rust Radio's Take
Based on the way things are going right now, the entire Ring Rust Radio panel agrees that Bully Ray is likely to turn heel and join Aces & Eights. It's important to suspend disbelief when it comes to professional wrestling, but it truly doesn't make sense for Bully Ray to constantly fight Aces & Eights only to join their group.
It could explain why the club scatters every time he runs in with a wallet chain, but he has legitimately fought them in matches on countless occasions. Despite that, it seems like TNA is desperate to do something of note with Aces & Eights, so a Bully Ray heel turn is most likely.
Bully Ray as the leader of Aces & Eights would admittedly be pretty interesting for a while at least, but I'm afraid of what it would lead to. The first issue is that it could involve Brooke as well. If Bully turns, then he needs to break Brooke's heart in the process. If Brooke turns heel with him, I won't be able to stomach it.
In addition to that, Hogan is obviously going to play a role down the line. Hogan hasn't been shy about his affinity for winning the TNA World Heavyweight Championship, so the odds are that Hogan will face Bully Ray for the title if he turns heel. Hogan will probably win the title as well and TNA will do the impossible by becoming even more of a joke.
RRR Fantasy WWE Standings
1. Mike Chiari: 165
2. Brandon Galvin: 110
3. Michael Cahill: 110
4. Donald Wood: -50