Franchise Fred Interview: Eric Roberts on The Condemned 2 and Saying Yes

In theaters and VOD November 6

In theaters and VOD November 6

My last interview for WWE Studios’ The Condemned 2 is Eric Roberts. Roberts plays Frank Tanner, the estranged father of Will Tanner (Randy Orton). While the Tanners disagree on Will’s path as a bounty hunter, Frank comes through when Will finds himself an unwilling contestant in a battle royale.

I got to speak with Roberts by phone out of Philadelphia. He had just flown in, shot for a day, worked out and then called me, as he would later explain how he keeps working so steadily. The Condemned 2 is out in theaters and VOD Friday, November 6.

Franchise Fred: Did doing The Condemned 2 with Randy Orton make you think back on Best of the Best where you were the fighter?

Eric Roberts: That actually never crossed my mind and that’s absolutely true, thank you. Randy and I had a good time working together. He’s a wonderful person.

Franchise Fred: I believe it. I got to talk to him last week. Was your relationship with Randy more about the acting than the physical stuff?

Eric Roberts: As far as acting goes, Randy is a natural. He just walks in, learns his lines and he does ‘em. He has no issues about what he’s playing because he knows he’s just him basically. So he’s really intelligent about it. He’s really cool with it and he has fun. He has fun in that old fashioned way of, “Eric, isn’t this great?” “Yeah, Randy, it really is.” He’s a nice person with a nice outlook on life and he’s good to everybody. I really enjoyed working with him.

Franchise Fred: So he’s essentially being Randy Orton as Will Tanner, but you’re not being Eric, so what was your take on Frank Tanner?

Eric Roberts: My job as an actor was to play the conflict in the father/son. No, I was not playing myself because Randy and I laughed all day that we worked together. We honestly had a good time together. I would just turn it on for the camera, the A-hole that I was playing. Randy and I would laugh after each take, “That was funny, that was good.” We honestly had a good time like we were at camp.

Franchise Fred: But Frank gets some redemption, doesn’t he?

Eric Roberts: Little bit, yeah. Who knew?

Franchise Fred: Besides Randy himself, what was your experience working with WWE Studios?

Eric Roberts: It was easy. They were organized. They were together and they obviously have a real future in moviemaking for their stars.

Franchise Fred: So really just like working with any studio?

Eric Roberts: Yeah, but it’s a little more hands on because you can actually see every dollar they spend. They’re very good about it.

Franchise Fred: Roel Reine told me they only had 17 days to shoot The Condemned 2. How many of those days were you working?

Eric Roberts: I think I was on for almost a week. I was on for like five days I think.

Franchise Fred: He also told me that the scene where you’re set up with the sniper rifle actually took more time to set up than to film. Do you remember that?

Eric Roberts: Exactly, good for him for telling you. Yeah, it did. It was very specific. I would say hours, probably four.

Franchise Fred: Does that phase you, having a lot of setup?

Eric Roberts: It’s just all a part of the package. I love every bit of moviemaking and I know what everyone’s job is and I know how hard and/or easy it is. I know everything about everything on the set and I pride myself in that so I can be a team player. I love movie sets.

Franchise Fred: At what point in your career did you get that sense of everyone’s job and how important it is?

Eric Roberts: Right away. I had interest in it right away but I’ll tell you what honestly got me. I worked with such a great crew on my first movie, the Sven Nykvist crew. He was director of photography and he shot all the Bergman films and stuff so he was very famous. He had such a great crew that I would act and I would go home, and act and go home. In my next movie, I was told, “Okay, hit your mark.” And I said, “What’s a mark?” I realized I had such a good crew working with me that they didn’t even tell me I had to hit a mark. They just kept me in focus. It was my second movie where I started to learn what I had to do as an actor. I didn’t even know because I had such a first great crew on the first movie, they picked up all the slack I was giving them because of my lack of experience. Isn’t that a funny story?

Franchise Fred: It is. You’ve done a lot of action movies and movies with guns, so did you have any special training for the sniper rifle?

Eric Roberts: No, I’ve been around guns my whole life. My grandfather and my uncle Albert are gun guys. So I’ve been around guns. I’m not a gun advocate and with all the school shootings, we have to change our gun laws. But guns have a place and some stronger than others for certain people. No, I didn’t have to get any special training.

Franchise Fred: What other scenes in The Condemned 2 were either physical or just fun to do?

Eric Roberts: My wife is reminding me of a really funny scene. When I’m under the truck doing repair work, Randy and I were playing around with the roller board that goes under the truck. Randy and I acted like eight-year-olds the whole movie. We just had fun together. We had very intense scenes so everybody thinks it’s an intense set. No, it was not an intense set. It was a very friendly, nice set. There was a lot of laughing.

Franchise Fred: Have you ever worked with actors who, when the scene is intense, they need it to be intense?

Eric Roberts: Sure, I have. In fact, more often than not but I’m not like that. I used to be like that in my 20s. But then in my 30s and my 40s, and now in my 50s, I don’t care. I’m fine. Let’s have fun, guys.

Franchise Fred: When the other actors needs it, can you adapt?

Eric Roberts: Of course I can. When the other actor needs it, you have to give it. It’s what they need and when you need an off camera line, you can feel free to ask them for it.

Franchise Fred: You have over 400 credits. Do you remember them all?

Eric Roberts: That’s such an unfair question because I don’t know. [Laughs] I thought I forgot something once, but I forgot, you know what I mean? It’s like that.

Franchise Fred: Was there a point where you noticed your output exponentially increased?

Eric Roberts: When I started just saying yes to a lot of stuff. When I started out in movies, I would make one movie a year, like you’re supposed to do. Then you do all your press for it and you get ready for your next film, whatever that is. That was really hard for me because I love acting and I grew up as a child in the repertory theater so I’m used to always working. It was hard for me and then when the whole industry just had a huge shift where there were no movie studios anymore, really, like there was no music industry. It was all gone. So everybody started doing it for themselves. With the advent of HD, everybody could afford a camera. So then everybody in America could make movies. There are hundreds and hundreds of movies being made right now all over the place and they’re real movies. They’re 90 minutes long with real actors and real sets and real costumes, real locations. They are real movies, and there are hundreds and hundreds being made right now in this country by independent people. I just went with the flow. Okay, we’re going to make five movies this year? Let’s go! I just started having fun with it because I love to work. I love being an actor as much as anything I’ve ever known about.

Franchise Fred: So it’s really as simple as just saying yes.

Eric Roberts: It’s as simple as just saying yes. Also, in between the stuff that’s of any merit, my wife also sends me all over the country, all over the world really to these people making little movies and they need a name or they need a real actor, and she sends me. I give them a little value and it’s wonderful to work with these people and to be a part of, from the ground up, this new era of home movie making.

Franchise Fred: I was always curious, why didn’t you do Best of the Best 3? Phillip Rhee did two more!

Eric Roberts: Did you see 3 and 4? If you see them, that will answer your question.

Franchise Fred: When Sly calls you to do The Expendables, did he remember you from working together on The Specialist?

Eric Roberts: That’s why he called me, because we’re friends. He says, “Eric, please, come make a movie with me.” He’s a great guy. I love Sly.

Franchise Fred Interview: Randy Orton on The Condemned 2 and WWE NXT

In theaters and VOD November 6

In theaters and VOD November 6

WWE Studios has been continuing the series of many of their films with sequels to The Marine, See No Evil and even 12 Rounds. Now WWE Studios has produced The Condemned 2 starring WWE Superstar Randy Orton. The Condemned starred Steve Austin as a convict battling other prisoners to the death in a battle royale. Now it’s a little different.

Orton plays Will Tanner, a bounty hunter retired in disgraced. Now Tanner is drawn into a new battle for his life in an all new and updated tournament taking place in the real world. I got to speak with Orton by phone the day after Hell in a Cell to get his thoughts on the new movie and the current state of WWE. The Condemned 2 opens in theaters and VOD Friday, November 6.

Franchise Fred: My favorite WWE movie is That’s What I Am. Was that a special one for you?

Randy Orton: It was my first film. Amy Madigan and Ed Harris were in the film. I was surrounded by great actors. I think I had three scenes. He was in each one and they were pretty intricate parts to the movie. I was thrilled to be a part of that film, especially for what the whole point of the story was. Ed did such a great job. I just remember being a part of it, the whole crew, everybody, was such a welcoming first time for me. What the story was all about too and how it was good for kids and it wasn’t just a bang bang shoot ‘em up WWE film but it actually had a really good message.

Franchise Fred: How did The Condemned 2 come to you? Did you campaign for it?

Randy Orton: The way it works is they come to you with it. It wasn’t like an audition with five or 10 guys shooting for this role. It was more or less, “Hey, we think this would be good for you. You’ve got time in your WWE schedule to do it. Would you like to be in this film?” Then it goes from there. Of course I said yes and met with an acting coach, read the script over and over and started thinking about this guy, Will Tanner, and what kind of guy he would be in this movie with this story, deal with his background. I just went from there.

Franchise Fred: You said you have time, but Roel told me it was only 17 days so that’s not that much time.

Randy Orton: No, it’s not but for a WWE film it’s plenty of time.

Franchise Fred: Did you look at the original The Condemned?

Randy Orton: You don’t have to watch the first one to understand the second one. I remember when Steve [Austin] did it, probably 10 years ago, just about. They had a screening for all the guys. That was an awesome movie. This is similar but also completely different, so it’s not a continuation or anything.

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Franchise Fred: Now that you’ve done a few WWE movies and the action-packed ones, how different is fighting on camera versus fighting in the ring?

Randy Orton: There’s a lot of differences and similarities. I’d say that the biggest difference is WWE, we’re live. If you mess up a part of that fight, that brawl, whatever you’re doing or if someone drops you a little wrong or punches your teeth out or your shoulder dislocates, what have you, you’re still on live television. It’s one take so there’s that pressure, but I’ve been dealing with that pressure and it’s been 13-14 years now, so I’m really used to that way of doing things with the physicality. On the movie set, it’s so much different in that aspect because it’s take after take, angle after angle, a wide shot or a master shot and then go in and pick up little parts. So it might take eight hours to film a 90 second fight scene. I’d say that’s the biggest difference. They’re similar in the sense that you’re throwing punches and you’re working with these stuntmen who are also very good at the art of what we do in the ring in a sense. So you’re picking up things from them, just like when I started working with Sean Michaels or The Undertaker or Triple H, I picked up things from them. So you’re learning on the job. Being green, being a rookie on a movie set, having an idea of how to use my body and get the best angles, it meshes very well. The wrestling with WWE really prepares you for fighting on a movie set. It’s different as well.

Franchise Fred: Does getting the second take allow you to try something a little differently?

Randy Orton: That’s kind of up to the director. You want to give him different faces or different ways or different tones, just be different to give him something to pick form. At the same time, there’s got to be continuity. So I’m coming in fast for something in the fight, I’ve got to remember what I did right before it. That same energy has to relay in the cuts and the different takes that he uses. So it’s difficult in that sense. You want to try different things just like with the acting side.

Franchise Fred: I think you guys never get enough credit that half of your job is public speaking. Does that give you tools for the dialogue in the movies?

Randy Orton: Oh, definitely. That as well as not only speaking in public, but being in front of a camera. That’s another thing. On Raw, on Pay-per-views, it’s live. Network specials are live so when that red light’s on, you’re reaching millions of people. On a movie set, having take after take, it’s a little easier but because it’s so close up and you’re not projecting to a crowd of people or an arena of 20,000 people, you’ve really got to bring it back and dial it down. So that’s different, but speaking in front of people, public speaking, cutting promos, doing interviews on the radio, just how you articulate, all that comes into play and helps you on a movie set as far as the acting and dialogue go, for sure.

Franchise Fred: Do you have an easy time memorizing lines from the script?

Randy Orton: Earlier in my career, I would memorize a lot of stuff. Now we have a lot more liberty in WWE. You still have a main point you have to get across. How you get to that point is up to you on how you feel your character would relay that point. In a movie, you’ve got a script supervisor right there making sure you say every and, the, but. Roel was great because I wouldn’t say everything exactly how it was written, or I would come to him before we did a scene or another take and say, “You know, it feels weird right here. How about if I say this instead.” 99% of the time, he’d say, “Try it, go ahead, let’s do it, see how it looks.” That was Roel. I don’t think all directors are like that but Roel is pretty much the only director I really know. I was very fortunate to work with him on Condemned 2 because I had that prior relationship with him filming 12 Rounds 2.

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Franchise Fred: What were the most difficult stunts on The Condemned 2?

Randy Orton: A lo of pro, lot of FX, a lot of explosions. We were in Albuquerque on an Indian reservation so it was a really different kind of mud and dirt that we were working with. So all these percussions are going off and there’s mulch and dirt and sand and rocks and plants all throughout the desert that are blowing up in my face. So I’m having to run through and hit my mark. There was one time where they’re shooting at my feet and I’m running down this 200 yard straightaway, I gotta hit all these marks. But they can’t have a big orange X in the middle of the dirt because that’ll pick up on film. So I gotta use shrubs and bushes and rocks as a guideline as I’m running. There was one time where I tripped up. I didn’t know where I was but we’re shooting. These pyro guys are hundreds of yards off at a safe distance where they can’t be seen because it’s a master shot. They’re hitting these squibs on the ground. One blows up in my face and it’s not only distracting because all this sh*t’s blowing up right in your face, getting in your eyes, but I got wax in my ears because the percussion’s so loud. That’s disorienting. It’s BOOM, you get hit in the face and oh my God, I keep going, I don’t stop and then BOOM, the other one hits me in the face, then BOOM, this one. I just drop to my knees and I put my hands up, like, “Okay, let’s reload these. I need a second.” That was probably the most stressful, all this sh*t blowing up everywhere, because it happens a lot. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I mean. The fight scenes were great too. Those are a little easier. I’m used to that kind of stuff but all the pyro and the FX stuff, the gunshots, the squibs, that was the most terrifying.

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Franchise Fred: What are your thoughts on the Hell in a Cell results?

Randy Orton: I watched the pay-per-view and I was happy with both Hell in a Cell matches. Bray and Roman tore it down. Brock and Taker had a great one. It’s been a while since there’s been that much blood in a match. There’s nothing you can do. You’re in a cell. That thing’s made of metal so it’s bound to happen. I just felt like the drama in that last match was awesome. I wouldn’t have picked Undertaker to take the fall. Him losing, I wasn’t too happy with, but seeing how Taker’s doing something with the Wyatts now and how they walked off with him, I’ve never seen anything like that. So I’m very excited to see what happens tonight on Raw post Hell in a Cell.

Franchise Fred: Do you watch the pay-per-view on TV and every Raw and Smackdown when you’re not performing?

Randy Orton: When I have time. That’s what a DVR is for so when I get a couple days here and there, I’m able to go back. I gotta admit, I fast forward through some stuff. Don’t we all? But there’s a lot of guys that I like watching. I’m as big a fan as any. All the guys and gals in the locker room are. That’s why we do it. It’s fun when you don’t know what’s going to happen. Seeing Alberto Del Rio come back last night, I would’ve never thought that was going to happen but there it was. Then he got the win, he got the title. So a lot of exciting stuff like that when you don’t know what’s going on and watching it as a fan. It reminds you how much you love what you do.

Franchise Fred: What’s next for you?

Randy Orton: I’m getting married, man. That’s what’s next. I’m very excited about it. My whole family’s very excited, our whole family. As far as in the WWE, I take that day by day. They can give me a Sheamus. They can give me a Big Show. They can give me a Seth Rollins. I’m going to do whatever I can to try to make that the most memorable match of the night every time no matter who I’m working with, so I take that day by day, man.

Franchise Fred: Any more movies after you get back from the honeymoon?

Randy Orton: No movies in the immediate future. I love being in the ring. It’s tough, man. A lot of these guys are successful. Bautista, Rock, even John with Trainwreck. They’re coming into their own and becoming actors out in Hollywood. That might be a fantasy of mine but I think my immediate future calls for proving I still got it with all these NXT guys coming up. Proving I still got it in the ring with guys like Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, Seth Rollins, the Nevilles and all the guys coming up right now. It’s motivating because they have such a hunger for getting better. It motivates me too so that’s what I’m looking forward to in the next bit of time. The movie thing, with the WWE, every couple years, if they want me to star in a movie, I’m happy to do it. It’s a great experience and you never know what the future holds.

Franchise Fred Interview: Roel Reine on The Condemned 2 and Hard Target 2

In theaters and VOD November 6

In theaters and VOD November 6

Earlier this year I had a chance to interview Roel Reine for The Man with the Iron Fists 2. The prolific director has helmed a number of sequels that premiere on video, making him an important contact for Franchise Fred. During that interview, we’d discussed his Dutch historical drama Admiral. I’ve yet to see Admiral but Reine is already back with another sequel.

The Condemned 2, from WWE Studios and Lionsgate, is a follow up to the film about prisoners pitted against each other in a televised fight to the death. This time, former bounty hunter Will Tanner (Randy Orton) finds himself in the game, only it’s out in the real world. I spoke with Reine again by phone on October 25, this time out of Thailand where he told me he was prepping to shoot Hard Target 2 with John Woo still producing! The Condemned 2 is out November 6 in theaters and on VOD.

Franchise Fred: When we spoke for The Man with the Iron Fists 2,  you told me that you did these sequels to learn on. Was The Condemned 2 another situation you could learn on?

Roel Reine: Yes, every movie, every day that I spend on set is learning. I believe in the 10,000 hour rule, so if you’re directing movies for 10,000 hours, you become really good. So it was a real experience. It was a full union shoot and that gives you some advantages and some disadvantages, so it was a really cool experience.

Franchise Fred: This was your fourth film with WWE, so at this point is it easier working with companies you’ve worked with a lot?

Roel Reine: What it does is they have a lot of trust in me, so they give me a lot of freedom to do it in a way that I want to do it. And that is really cool. Especially with this movie. We had a very limited budget and I only had 17 days to shoot this movie in. That’s kind of a record for myself. You need freedom to do it my style, in my way, and we definitely did it.  I really like what WWE are doing. They’re really trying to do a lot of genre movies and taking it very seriously. Their involvement with the talent, especially with Randy Orton, the way they’re positioning him and marketing him, it’s all part of making the movie. I really like and have a lot of respect for that.

Franchise Fred: 17 days is amazing. How many days did you have for The Marine 2 or Iron Fists 2?

Roel Reine: For The Marine 2, I shot it in 26 or 27 days. Man with the Iron Fists I shot in 21 days. They’re all a ridiculously low amount.

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Randy Orton in The Condemned 2

Franchise Fred: Randy comes to the film with his own persona from the ring. What sort of direction would you give him?

Roel Reine: Randy as a WWE star, in the WWE world, he’s really Randy Orton the fighter and I suppose that come with a lot of physical theater for thousands of people in the audience. So it becomes a really different style of performing or acting or fighting. For me, movies is very intimate. The camera is really close. It’s an intimate process. So for Randy, it’s for me very important that he is himself. He is Randy Orton as he would be at home with his child. It’s a very personal performance, so a lot of times on the set, I whisper in his ears, “Randy it’s you. It’s you.” He goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” Then as long as he is himself, then his acting becomes very natural because he’s going to be reacting to situations or he’s going to be reacting to other characters instead of being an actor and acting. I believe in that also with very well trained actors. You want them to react more than to act. He does it really well. I’m really proud of what he’s done in Condemned 2. I think it’s even better than what he’s done in 12 Rounds 2. I think he’s really growing as a performer.

Franchise Fred: In the police woman scene, did you play with how long you could hold that tension and drag it out?

Roel Reine: Yes, you try to prolong it as long as possible to build the suspense but it’s also something that she did really well. I really like her and she’s a local actor in New Mexico. Yeah, you try to draw that out and you try to make it really personal. Randy has to be really close to his heart when he does that and I think he does that really well.

Franchise Fred: How long did you have for the gas station shootout?

Roel Reine: One day. It was the third day of shooting.

Franchise Fred: How much planning did you do to make sure you got everything you needed on that day?

Roel Reine: Prep is everything. You plan it out. You plan every squib, and the car that blows up. Then you just need a good crew to pull it off. On that day you’re doing like 100-120 shots, otherwise you can’t make it. That’s what we did. I also DP my own movies so I’m able to be really fast in how I approach those technical scenes. We did it in one day and we did it really nicely. I really like that sequence. It’s really cool.

The Condemned 2 in theaters and VOD November 6

The Condemned 2 in theaters and VOD November 6

Franchise Fred: How many passes did you do of running through the minefield?

Roel Reine: I had one take through the minefield.

Franchise Fred: That’s what I thought.

Roel Reine: It’s two parts. So we had the first running part and then we had a smaller running part where he falls against the rocks at the wall, but I had one take. That’s what you get when you have these movies. We only had one take so in that moment, you have four cameras and a drone in the air because you need all angles.

Franchise Fred: What were the most difficult sequences to do, if not the ones I already mentioned?

Roel Reine: I think overall it was not as hard. The action sequences are normally very easy. What I remember was really tough is that I wanted to have the movie look really big, and it’s a road movie. We are on the road, so every day you have two or three locations in the desert so you need to transport the crew and the cast to the next set. That was really tough. Especially when you have a sniper laying down on some mountain where he has to drive all the way around and do some hiking to get there. To get Eric [Roberts] there was very complicated, so it was more the logistics of shooting in these big wide deserts and all these cliff sides that was challenging, not the action. Even the end battle with the factory and all the explosions was not that complicated to do. It was the logistics of these beautiful deserts that were very tough.

Gambling on people's lives in The Condemned 2

Gambling on people’s lives in The Condemned 2

Franchise Fred: In what ways did you want to pay homage to the first Condemned and in what ways did you want The Condemned 2 to be completely different?

Roel Reine: I think this one is really completely different because the first one was all about prisoners and a prison island. I felt while it worked really well, this movie wanted to be something different. It’s cops who are fighting, so opposite sides of criminals. Then what I wanted to do was make the gambling a little bit more personal. Remember from the first one, it felt really technical with all these screens and monitors and people betting on the internet. I felt like you want to do it personally. You want it to be like a gambling house, like a casino style. I really like how they did that because it gave it a little more personality. Then the gamblers, the people who are betting on these guys, are there in the room.

Franchise Fred: Where are you calling me from right now?

Roel Reine: I’m now in Thailand. I’m prepping a sequel for Hard Target. John Woo is producer and we start shooting tomorrow.

Franchise Fred: Who is your star?

Roel Reine: I cannot tell you.

Franchise Fred: Do you have a good relationship with Universal as well?

Roel Reine: Absolutely. I could do two movies a year there if I wanted at Universal, but I also like to mix it up so I kind of told myself, “Let’s not do any more sequels for a few years.” But when they called me and said, “Do you want to do Hard Target 2?” I was like oh, I cannot say no to that because I’m a huge John Woo fan. It’s the first American sequel to a John Woo movie, so it’s a really big honor and I want to respect that by making a good movie.

Franchise Fred: If you’re shooting in Thailand are you going to be able to use any Thai actors?

Roel Reine: Yes, we have some Thai actors, yes.

Franchise Fred: How long will you be working on Hard Target 2?

Roel Reine: I’m here another four or five weeks but then I’m doing an episode for a TV series. I’m really busy. I really step from one movie to the other and I really like that. I do two movies a year and now I’m also going to do some TV series and a pilot for a TV series next year. I’m very fortunate. I love my job. I have the best job in the world and I love what I’m doing. I get so many opportunities to do cool stuff.

Franchise Fred: Which show are you doing an episode for?

Roel Reine: I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say that. It’s a pretty big show. It’s a huge, big show so I’m really lucky.

Franchise Fred: We’re talking about another sequel you’ve made, and yet I still haven’t seen Admiral. When can we see that movie?

Roel Reine: Admiral was very successful in Europe and in the Netherlands. It’s in the top five box office in Holland right in between Jurassic World and Furious 7. In February it will have a small theatrical release in the U.S. For Holland it was a very important movie because it’s a very important era and it became a very big commercial success as well.

Franchise Fred: I remember that was very important to you, and that was the movie you put all your 10,000 hours of skills to use on, right?

Roel Reine: Yes, that’s true. The thing that I learned making sequels for the studios here in America, I put all that skill into that historic movie. I’m going to do another big movie next year, an American movie, huge movie. There I can bring all my skills to the table as well. It’s a really good combination for me doing sequels, prequels and working with new talent and new places in the world. Then doing my own big movies in between, so I hope to continue doing that.

Hell in a Cell 2014 – Full Rundown and Preview

What luck that another WWE pay per view is airing this Sunday. The last few weeks of RAW have evaporated into the past, leaving vague memories of briefcase slime and mostly solid Ziggler matches. Now we arrive at Hell in a Cell, once the name of a barbaric bloody cage match, now the name of an arbitrary annual attraction. The watering down of a once gruesome gimmick is consistent with current programming, but its regular spot on the calendar marks it as entirely routine. This sort of match previously pulled out all the stops, now it provides a regularly scheduled diversion while killing time before Royal Rumble.

So, in honor of the glorious showcase this Sunday, let’s take a look at the  card:


USO Crazy versus WE SO Crazy

USO Crazy versus WE SO Crazy

WWE Tag Team Championship – Goldust and Stardust (c) vs Usos
Prediction: Cosmic twins over Samoan ones.
Worth $9:99 If: The camera successfully captures Goldust and Stardust’s post-match celebration this time.


I'm torn between apathy and indifference.

I’m torn between apathy and indifference.

Brie Bella vs Nikki Bella – Loser Becomes Winner’s Personal Assistant
Prediction: Nikki overcomes Brie Mode and wins by devilish means, leading to weeks of pre-taped and in-ring hijinx.
Worth $9:99 If: They wrestle topless… in honor of breast cancer awareness.


A battle of speed and agility.

A battle of speed and agility.

Big Show vs Rusev
Prediction: Rusev wins with the power of yelling.
Worth $9:99 If: The match and its surrounding flag ceremonies are kept brief.


Muppet Mayhem: Beaker vs Kermit

Muppet Mayhem: Beaker vs Kermit

WWE United States Championship – Sheamus (c) vs The Miz
Prediction: The Miz captures the belt with his stunt double’s assistance
Worth $9:99 If: Mizdow gets the pinfall/submission and Miz takes credit for it.


One of these beauties will walk away with a hideous belt.

One of these beauties will walk away with a hideous belt.

Divas Championship – AJ Lee (c) vs Paige
Prediction: AJ likely wins, but who honestly cares?
Worth $9:99 If: The outcome of this match goes somewhere other than a rematch.


Who will win the honor to remain in a holding pattern?

WHO will win the honor to remain in a holding pattern?

WWE Intercontinental Championship – Ziggler (c) vs Cesaro (2/3 Falls)
Prediction: After trading falls, Ziggler will win the third and resume losing on TV.
Worth $9:99 If: Cesaaro ragdolls Ziggler in an insane reversal.


Here it is, the match you've been waiting for... downplayed on a minor show.

Here it is, the match you’ve been waiting for… downplayed on a minor show.

HIAC Match – Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins
Prediction: Ambrose finally gets vengeance on his former Shield brethren.
Worth $9:99 If: Either one or both take a daring leap off the cell’s roof.


Now here's a fresh pairing...

Now here’s a fresh pairing…

HIAC #1 Contender’s Match – John Cena vs Randy Orton
Prediction: Cena wins OH GOD WHY THIS AGAIN
Worth $9:99 If: Randy Orton scores an upset and buries this rivalry once and for good.

Prediction: Survivor Series will have an awful lineup.
Worth $9:99 If: NXT guys like Neville and Zayn get brought up sooner.

Wrestling For Dummies For The Week Of September 15, 2014: We Are Family


For those that have lived under a rock for the last 30 years, the WWE is primarily run by the famous (infamous?) McMahon family. Way before the Vince McMahon we know, there was Vince McMahon Sr. (Yes, the Vinnie we know is actually a Jr.) and he set the foundation for what would become WWE by running a company called WWWE (yes, 3 “w”s) or the World Wide Wrestling Federation.


But this is obvious information. What a lot of people may not know is that there are a lot of families that work under the WWE banner, siblings, sons, daughters, cousins, etc. and I believe that these families have kept WWE going strong all these years.


Let’s get into the families within the WWE infrastructure. While this may not be EVERY family represented, these are the some of the more prominent ones today.


The Bella Twins


The most obvious family example (aside from the McMahons) are the Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie (real names Nicole and Brianna Garcia-Colace). Beautiful and dangerous, they’ve been the talk of Hollywood with popularity of E! Network’s Total Divas and they’ve been featured in major story lines within the WWE Universe. “You can look, but you can’t touch” is their intro song and they make sure you’re getting an eyeful. Unfortunately, with Nikki dying her hair and Brie marrying Daniel Bryan (in real life, now Brianna Danielson), the two aren’t the identical twins as they used to be; their signature move “Twin Magic” in which they switch during the match to gain the advantage, became nullified the moment Nikki went under the knife and got a little “Twin Magic” of her own (breast implants if you didn’t get that).


The Usos


The next obvious example of family comes in the form of the current Tag Team Champions, Jimmy and Jey Uso (real names Jonathan and Joshua Fatu). Another set of twins, these Pacific Islanders have been consistently stealing the show since 2010 and are looking to defend their Tag Titles at Night of Champions against another set of brothers, currently known as…


Goldust and Stardust


Goldust (real name Dustin Runnels) isn’t a new wrestler, in fact, he’s been an active wrestler since 1995, bouncing between WWE, WCW, All Japan Pro Wrestling, TNA, and various independent federations. He’s wrestled under his real name Dustin Runnels, Dustin Rhodes, and Black Reign, but he’s famously known for his androgynous latex-clad “bizarre one” character Goldust. Last year in 2013, he’s partnered up with is real life half-brother Cody Rhodes (real name Cody Runnels), who hasn’t had much breakout success since his debut. When they teamed up, it seemed like magic, they won the Tag Team Titles and just had an amazing dynamic. After they lost the titles, the rumors of a possible brother vs. brother conflict at this year’s Wrestlemania gave the opportunity for WWE to make a nice bait and switch and “reform” Cody into the wildly eccentric Goldust clone, StarDust (who, I think, looks like an oversized Rockstar can). Now it seems like the two are in full throttle, turning heel (becoming bad guys) and causing a ruckus. They are due to face the Usos at Night of Champions to get back their Tag Team Championships.


Randy/Cowboy Bob Orton


Randy (real name Randall Orton) and father Cowboy Bob Orton (real name Robert Orton) aren’t seen together much, but it seems the transition between the Golden Age of wrestling in the 80’s and the Modern Age of today. While Cowboy Bob doesn’t do much nowadays, his son Randy has become a 12-time World Champion. And if you think that’s legacy, check out…


Natalya/Hart Family


Waaay back when there was the Hart Foundation, wrestlers Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart (no relation) made a huge scene in WWE in the 80’s. Both trained under Bret’s father Stu in the infamous Hart Family Dungeon and, even though they weren’t related, they soon would be. Jim married Bret’s sister Ellie, and had a baby Natalie.

Well that baby grew up proper as she is currently a WWE diva. Related to Bret, (the late) Owen, and (the late) British Bulldog, among others, she’s got a pedigree that’s full of amazing quality.


And here are the ones that you may not know about:


Bray Wyatt/Bo Dallas/IRS


Mike Rotunda made his debut in the WWE as Irwin R. Shyster in 1991 after several attempts to create a character that would click with the audience. What he probably didn’t know was that he would create a legacy that shines today in his two sons, Windham Rotunda and Taylor Rotunda, better known as Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas respectively. And, just like their father, both men have gone through some “refining” before settling on their current character; Bray was previously “Husky Harris” formerly of the Nexus faction and Bo had previously competed in the 2013 Royal Rumble match and was headed to the main roster, when he was suddenly taken back to the minors (NXT) to “repurpose” his character. There has been no move to put the brothers together on TV, let alone reveal that they are brothers. Still, they do share that creepy smile…


The Usos/Roman Reigns


This one may be a little harder to catch, but something to note. We’ve already talked about the Usos being twin brothers, but the Usos are also related to the fast rising Roman Reigns. They are cousins. And if you think that is pretty cool, these three are also related to former superstars Rikishi (father of The Usos), Jamal and Rosey (3-Minute Warning…Jamal would later become Umaga), and even The Rock.



Of course I can also mention many other related superstars…I haven’t even touched the ones that married in like HHH/Stephanie McMahon, Naomi/Jimmy Uso, Tyson Kidd/Natalya, Miz/Maryse or other parent/child relations like Mr. Perfect/Curtis Axel and Jimmy Snuka/Tamina Snuka. Do I even have to mention the Guerrero’s?


I guess when it comes to wrestling, it’s truly a family business.