G5: Brock Lesnar, Bound For Glory, Bullet Club, more

Brock Lesnar looks to be out of action until 2015. Does the lack of a WWE Champion create a lack of interest in WWE’s upcoming pay-per-view events?

TNA held Bound For Glory in Tokyo, Japan, earlier this week. After this year’s offering, is the pay-per-view still TNA’s signature event?

NJPW’s Bullet Club could be beginning its descent after losing two major singles titles at the King of Pro Wrestling event. How does the super-group rank among other stables of the modern era?

Join the team—including NZPWI’s new Auckland correspondent, Corey Marsden—as we discuss these, and more, questions in this week’s Gimme Five.

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1. Brock Lesnar isn’t wrestling at the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, and doesn’t look likely to be in action for the rest of the year either. Does the absence of the WWE Champion hinder your enjoyment of the upcoming events?

Dion:
I don’t think it will – though it is a ridiculous situation.

Stevie:
I don’t need the champion around but I think they’re massively dropping the ball on how they’re handling it. This is a one in a lifetime chance to get a lot of guys over by having them main event pay-per-views with the intention of gaining a shot at the unstoppable beast. Instead, they pretend he doesn’t exist.

Corey:
I didn’t mind Lesnar making random appearances over the past couple of years, but as WWE World Heavyweight Champion I’m not so high on the idea of Lesnar appearing sporadically.

Blake:
Not even slightly. I’m jumping on the Paul Heyman bandwagon for this one; I think not having the main championship defended every time will add to its prestige and the importance of whoever ultimately takes the title.

Craig:
As someone who grew up in the 80s, not seeing the champion (Hogan) every week, I am relaxed about Lesnar no-showing. In fact, it brings prestige and intrigue to the strap. Unfortunately, there are no compelling storylines or characters to fill the void. Having just watched a doco on the Network about the Monday Night Wars, it’s fascinating to see how WCW fell apart relying on the same old tried and true characters while WWF was perceived as initiative pushing new characters. Is today’s WWE the WCW in disguise?

David:
Hell in a Cell is arguably more exciting without Lesnar involved because there’s no way we would have got to see Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins anywhere near the main event otherwise. It is annoying though, because Night of Champions seemed to set up a rematch between Cena and Lesnar perfectly.

 

2. SmackDown celebrated its 15th anniversary last week. What’s been your favourite moment in the history of the blue brand?

Dion:
The one that sticks out most in my mind is the collapsing ring incident. That was a “holy sh*t” moment, if ever there was one!

Stevie:
The wedding of Billy and Chuck. That segment was a roller-coaster.

Corey:
My favourite SmackDown moment was the steel cage match between Eddie Guerrero and JBL for the WWE title, more specifically Eddie’s Frog Splash from the top of the cage. I’m fairly sure I still have that recorded on a VHS tape somewhere.

Blake:
Just pick and choose a match from the Ruthless Aggression Era. It was some of the best wrestling and storytelling and all of wrestling history.

Craig:
Nothing really stands out for me. I have generally only watched Raw.

David:
I’d forgotten all about Billy and Chuck’s wedding – that was an amazing segment! I’m also very partial to Paul Heyman’s epic promo on Vince McMahon the week before Survivor Series 2001.

 

3. Bound For Glory, once TNA’s biggest event of the year, took place on Monday. Did you watch the event from Tokyo? And, can Bound For Glory still claim to be the most important date on TNA’s calendar?

Dion:
I haven’t watched TNA in over a year, though I think maybe I’ll make an effort to watch Bound For Glory. Good to see they’re still hanging in there.

Stevie:
Poor TNA. They didn’t even have anything to really do with the event. Should have called it something else. Looks like we really are in their dying days – no live shows until next year. Not the best sign.

Corey:
I haven’t really watched much TNA in a while. I didn’t even realise Bound For Glory was happening until the day of. I may wind up giving it a watch, who knows.

Blake:
I watched about half of it, but it really wasn’t TNA. I would have been fine if it was advertised as a TNA/Wrestle-1 event, but it was advertised as a TNA pay-per-view event. I like the idea of expanding to outside territories, but this just didn’t work for me. Oh, and having the commentators calling the match from America was a completely stupid idea.

Craig:
I didn’t see any of it.

David:
Bound For Glory wasn’t a bad show, but it was nothing like previous years’ offerings. It looks like Lockdown or Slammiversary are TNA’s signature events going forward.

 

4. NJPW’s Bullet Club stable lost both the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the NEVER Openweight Championship during Monday’s King of Pro Wrestling event, indicating the faction may no longer be NJPW’s most dominant. Where does Bullet Club rate in terms of modern-day stables?

Dion:
NJPW isn’t on my radar, though that doesn’t stop the buzz I hear about the Bullet Club. On paper, they look like one hell of a faction. Certainly the most popular outside of Japan that I can ever recall.

Stevie:
They gained a lot of notoriety and did it fast. They’re right up there, as far as current groups go. And probably just getting started.

Corey:
I’d say they are the most popular faction in the world today. As soon as their shirt went up on prowrestlingtees.com it crashed the site and became their best selling shirt of all time within two hours. If that doesn’t vouch for the group’s popularity I don’t know what will.

Blake:
I think it has to be considered one of the top stables in the modern day, especially considering the fact that the brand has spread from Japan to America. However, I would find it too difficult to rate it compared to other stables because of the simple fact that the wrestling industry is so vast. It’s like comparing The Shield to Mount Rushmore; both incredible stables but only within the context of their focus.

Craig:
I haven’t seen any of it.

David:
Bullet Club is definitely for real. They must be largely responsible for NJPW’s surge in popularity outside of Japan over the course of the last year or so. I thought we’d be seeing Bullet Club with all the IWGP titles before they wound up with none, but things are still looking very good for the group. Probably the most significant stable since Evolution.

 

5. Justin Roberts was released from his WWE contract on Tuesday, leaving the position of Raw ring announcer up for grabs. Who holds the title of your favourite ring announcer, and who are you hoping to see become the new voice of Raw?

Dion:
Hearing that Roberts is gone is a real shame. For me though, you can’t go past Howard Finkel!

Stevie:
Justin Roberts. His enthusiasm and love of the business was always heard in his voice. So, I wasn’t happy with the news of his contract ending. I only hope his replacement (Eden?) does a good job.

Corey:
I was so gutted when I heard Justin was released. I’m hoping Eden will be his replacement, she has been impressive as of late. My favourite ring announcer would have to be Tony Chimel – the voice crack he would get when he introduced “The Rated R Superstar” was classic.

Blake:
I think allowing Justin Roberts’ contract to run out was a huge mistake. However, this does allow Lilian Garcia to reclaim her place as Raw’s premier ring announcer. This lets Tony Chimel reclaim his place as SmackDown ring announcer, and Eden can get her bearings on Main Event and Superstars.

Craig:
I’m so old school, I can’t stand people calling Howard Finkel “The Fink”. He is the Michael Buffer of Sports Entertainment, will always be Howard Finkel, not the Fink, and always be the best.

David:
I’ve always been partial to WCW’s David Penzer when it comes to ring announcers. He’s not a candidate to replace Justin Roberts though, so I’ll back Blake’s line-up and hope Lilan Garcia moves over to Raw while Tony Chimel returns to SmackDown.