Once upon a time, when our community was known as HeelZone, we had a little feature called FACT or FICTION. Well it’s a new year, so what better time to revive an old site feature than right now. This is the first edition of TVE’s FACT or FICTION, where each month we’ll assemble a panel to find out whether or not a statement is fact or fiction. This month we’re focused on professional wrestling with statements covering the Royal Rumble, WrestleMania, and Impact Wrestling.
Our panel for this debut installment is comprised of myself, The Monkey, Eric W (Q), and William McPherson (Jules).
So, with that out of the way, let’s jump right in…
FACT or FICTION: Samoa Joe will debut on WWE television during the Royal Rumble match.
The Monkey: FACT. I really would prefer he debuted the Monday or Tuesday after but I do expect him to be this year’s AJ Styles. The only reason I don’t want him to debut in the Rumble match itself is because I generally don’t like guys losing their main roster debut and I just don’t see any way in the world Samoa Joe wins the Rumble. I do expect him to show up though, and I expect him to score some major eliminations before falling to either Goldberg, Lesnar, or the Undertaker.
Eric W: FACT. It’s high time to get him in the mix and hopefully send him to Smackdown where he can cross paths with Styles and others. I think Joe will be a great fit there.
William McPherson: Why not? FACT. It would be a good follow up to last year’s debut with Styles. One proviso though: I would NOT debut him in the Rumble if he’s not winning the damn thing, which likely he would not. Instead, debut him like they did Tazz at the 2000 Royal Rumble and give him a big shocking squash singles win over someone who is both well-established and well-pushed at the moment. Just book the follow up better than the Tazz deal, please WWE?
Gary Smith: This is a solid FACT. Joe has done it all in NXT, and tellingly doesn’t have an announced match at TakeOver: San Antonio. I expect it’ll be revealed that he’s signed with the Smackdown brand and he’ll probably have a good showing. I don’t expect him to win it, of course, but I think he has a good shot at making the final eight.
FACT or FICTION: The Undertaker will enter AND win the Royal Rumble match.
Editor’s Note: This questions was poised to our staff before Undertaker announced his entrance into the Royal Rumble on RAW.
The Monkey: I’m about 50/50 on this one but I’ll go FACT. I just find it hard to believe that a rare Undertaker appearance will be wasted in a losing effort. Not to say that the Undertaker wins every time he shows up as his matches with Lesnar would beg to differ; but appearance in the Royal Rumble match itself just seems like it’s all about making a statement. I also believe that the Undertaker has only a handful of matches left and wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with one more title run similar to how Lesnar’s was a couple of years ago. That said the road to the title leads through the Royal Rumble.
Eric W: FICTION. I sincerely hope not. This idea makes me cringe as much as seeing an over the hill Goldberg come in off the streets and get an improbable push after an absurd blow out of Brock Lesnar. I love the Taker but his time is well past and his mystique was needlessly damaged in a senseless Streak loss to Lesnar. I see absolutely no upside here and have doubts as to Taker’s health and fitness to even make this worthwhile. A lot of us would rather see Taker-Cena even though that, too, is several years overdue.
William McPherson: Calling FICTION on this one. I think Goldberg has to win this based on current booking. No sense in cooling him off until whatever his final blowoff match is.
Gary Smith: Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go with FACT on this one. This is one of the most star studded Royal Rumble matches in quite some time, and thus I’d say would be prime opportunity for a younger talent to win and get a big rub. I think we can count Seth Rollins out, he’ll be hooking up with Triple H at WrestleMania. I think Goldberg eliminates Lesnar, who then eliminates Goldberg (because WWE loves that kind of illogical nonsense). I’d be completely shocked if either Strowman or Baron Corbin won. It’s hard to see Undertaker just being another name in the mix, so for those reasons I think he’s the winner in store for a big match at WrestleMania for the WWE Championship.
FACT or FICTION: AJ Styles will enter WrestleMania 33 still the WWE Champion.
The Monkey: FICTION. At this point I have trouble buying Styles leavings the Royal Rumble as champion much less making it to WrestleMania still carrying the strap. As much as I’d love to believe AJ will once again conquer Cena in a major PPV battle, I just don’t see it. Shame too, because in terms of overall match quality Styles has absolutely EARNED the opportunity to defend his title at WrestleMania.
Eric W: FACT. If the bookers have any sense at all. Styles can wrestle a broomstick and get 4-5 stars out of it. What more do you want? Keep the belt on this hot asset at least into the PPV if not possibly through it to the other side. If he’s going to lose it, have him lose it in a way that counts in a hot feud that benefits everyone and the company all the way around.
William McPherson: I’m not ready to bet the bank on it, but I’ll go ahead and take a chance and say FACT on this one. Having two champions again was the wrong call IMO, and has once again weakened the meaning of either world title. Water under the bridge, but wish they would have, as I’ve been ranting about for years, had the IC and US titles by brand specific and serve as de facto number one contenders for each brand for a shot at the singular world title which would be defended on either brand, but mostly in big PPVs. That spilled milk aside, I do think AJ and Cena have great chemistry together, and if it were up to me, if they’re hellbent on Cena tying Ric Flair’s record, I’d save that moment for WrestleMania. Although, if they go the other way, I guess Cena could be AJ and then AJ beat Cena at the February PPV and then at WrestleMania Cena breaks Flair’s record. Either way though, Styles would have to enter Mania as champ for my prediction to hold true.
Gary Smith: I really want to see fact on this one, especially with the rumors that WWE wants to have a main event match to rival Omega/Okada from Wrestle Kingdom 11. AJ Styles deserves it, but unfortunately I’m going with FICTION on this. I think AJ loses the title to Cena, and we finally get Cena vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania. Does that match need a championship? Not a chance. If it were me, this’d be a fact all day. I’d actually go Samoa Joe winning the Rumble and wrestling old rival AJ Styles in the main event of WrestleMania, but there’s no way Vince McMahon books that because he’d probably somehow see it as making TNA look strong.
FACT or FICTION: The true main event of WrestleMania 33 will be between two guys who debuted on WWE television during or after 2012.
The Monkey: FICTION. I guess this one ultimately depends on your definition of “true main event” but I’m an old school guy. Regardless of what is sold to us about triple main events or whatever, the match that closes the show is the main event in my book. Doesn’t always make it the best match but it’s the main event all the same. So that said, I absolutely do not believe the closing match will involve two guys that debuted in the last 4-5 years.
Eric W: FACT. The key phrase there is “true main event” as in: The WWE may bill the gimmick match as the man event but a lot of us fans will look to at least another match as “the real one.”
William McPherson: This one is FICTION. If we’re lucky, we’ll have at least one guy in the match that fits that description, but I just don’t see them bucking the trend of having a Lesnar, HHH, Undertaker etc. inserted into the ticket selling match at Mania. As it is shaping up, I’m guessing the two main events will most likely be Cena vs. Undertaker and Lesnar vs. Goldberg III. The younger guys will be lucky to get third billing in one of the discount world title matches.
Gary Smith: The true main event is the last match of the night. There’s not four main events, there’s only one and it closes the show. Each hour doesn’t get a main event no matter how hard WWE wants to market it as such. So with that in mind, I have to sadly call this FICTION. It needs to happen, absolutely, but WWE is still stuck in a mindset that wants to promote old stars as being the top stars at WrestleMania. In looking at what I think is the likely top three matches it’s Rollins/Hunter, Cena/Taker, Goldberg/Lesnar. Where does that leave Ambrose, Reigns, AJ, Owens, etc? Beats me, but it isn’t in the main event unfortunately.
FACT or FICTION: TNA will become a viable alternative to WWE again in 2017.
The Monkey: FICTION. I almost went with fact on this one but to me TNA really needs to prove themselves before I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt again. Now let me also clarify my view on what being a “viable alternative.” It has nothing to do with ratings, it’s about putting on an entertaining product that is different from the WWE. TNA used to be just that but the constant changes in direction eventually made me tap out. I’m more than willing to give them a shot again but they have to do something to correct their current path. The last time I gave TNA an honest fair shot was a little less than a year ago and it had become flat annoying to even try to watch. I will hold out hope though because at the end of the day I’m a wrestling fan and the more wrestling products the better. Unfortunately I haven’t seen enough to convince me that this year will be the year things change for them.
Eric W: FACT. The key word is “alternative” not “competition.” Despite myself, despite the long term wretched condition of this company, the recent management changes have me going for the optimism despite so many things and reasons why I shouldn’t. It’s called wishful thinking. I sincerely hope so. We need as many viable alternatives as we can possibly get for the sake of the entire industry.
William McPherson: In terms of becoming a good product again? Maybe. I’ve not watched in forever, so can’t say, but from all the news from the last few years, in terms of getting back to where they were in the Spike heyday in terms of visibility, I’d say that’s pure FICTION. They’d be lucky to regain their number two spot from ROH in terms of American promotions.
Gary Smith: I want to be positive, so I’ll call this FACT. Just by virtue of Dixie Carter being removed from power instantly means things should get better. All of the cancer might not be gone, but the large tumor has been cut out and maybe now the treatment can work. I like hearing things like Jarrett and Mantel being back. I think it’ll take some time, but Impact Wrestling can become a viable alternative again. And Eric’s right, that’s an alternative and not competition.
That’ll do it for this debut installment of FACT or FICTION. A similar panel will be called upon again next month for the second installment, and our focus will shift to video games and gaming industry in general. Then in March, it’ll be another WrestleMania themed special edition of FACT or FICTION.