By Raimundo Ortiz (@AroundtheMundo)
The NBA Playoffs are almost here, and WrestleMania just passed us by. So of course, I started connecting dots and assigning the teams set to play on past the regular season to WWE superstars. So without further ado, here’s the Western Conference contenders, and their WWE doppelgangers.
Golden State Warriors–Brock Lesnar
This seems odd at first, considering Golden State’s biggest strengths are its two guards, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are lights-out from 3-point range. That doesn’t jibe at first with the massive, hulking Lesnar, whom has become more and more dominant as his WWE career moves forward. How could a team that relies so much on pretty, swishing 3-pointers, and beautiful motion offense, be compared to one of the most impressive bruisers in wrestling history?
It’s all in the results. Lesnar matches have become glorified squash matches, and it doesn’t even matter if he’s facing high-level opponents. We’ve seen Lesnar obliterate the golden boy of WWE John Cena more than once, and Cena used to be derided by smart marks as “Super Cena” because he never lost. At WrestleMania he tossed around Roman Reigns like a rag doll–before this, Reigns has been borderline invincible.
That’s how the Warriors dispose of opponents. They lead the NBA in point differential, knocking off opponents by 10.2 points. The Clippers are second at 6.5. These teams aren’t touching the Dubs, and it’s more than an incredible offense. The Warriors are also the highest-rated team in the league defensively. They do this while largely playing four shooters and only one big man, their defensive anchor Andrew Bogut.
Golden State is a rampaging freight train right now, having one of the most dominant regular season runs of all time. Lesnar has done the same in WWE. He’s the man to beat–regardless of whom the belt is on–and the Warriors are also the top dog.
The Grizzlies are somewhat limited yes, but they are also large and powerful. There’s not much flash to how the Grizzlies get the job done. It’s not pretty like the Warriors do it. They pound teams down low with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, particularly the latter. Randolph is an excellent comparison to Rusev. Neither man is the tallest guy, and both men are basically anchored to the ground, but it doesn’t stop them from being near the top of the game.
Rusev was undefeated before falling to John Cena at WrestleMania, and leading up to that he was leaving a path of destruction in his wake. Rusev doesn’t have any moves that are set up by playing to the crowd, and his promos are straightforward with little fluff or flair. While that makes him an epic baddie, it limits his upside.
Likewise, Memphis is a team nobody wants to face. They leave you with bruises and have lots of success, but can you really see them as champions? Memphis’ inability to shoot is likely to doom them at some point in the postseason, much like Rusev’s anti-American gimmick ultimately won’t let him win the WWE title.
San Antonio Spurs–Undertaker
This was an easy conclusion to arrive at. They pick their spots to dominate, much like ‘Taker only wrestles at WrestleMania these days. It’s extremely rare for the Undertaker to lose, much like it’s a big accomplishment to top the Spurs. And they’re “old,” just like ‘Taker, except they can still get the job done at a high level. There’s always a chance they can win.
The Undertaker lost his first ever match at WrestleMania in 2013, and many thought that was the end. Likewise, when the Spurs won the title last season it felt like the final chapter in an incredible run for the Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili era. But then ‘Taker returned and defeated Bray Wyatt at this year’s Show of Shows. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the 2014-15 Spurs are surging, and looking like real threats.
Portland TrailBlazers–Daniel Bryan
The Blazers are more like Daniel Bryan than you might think. They’re overlooked, like Bryan was for so long by WWE management. They’re technically sound, while Bryan is one of WWE’s purest wrestlers. His size makes it hard for him to dominate against bigger opponents, while Portland’s defensive struggles make any game a tough time when their offense isn’t clicking.
But the main similarity is a little more sad. Injuries have derailed potentially exciting runs for both. Last WrestleMania ended with Bryan leading a YES! chant with WWE title in hand, but then he was sidelined with a serious neck injury that almost ended his career. Since his return, it hasn’t been the same. The fans are still behind him, but the storylines moved on. Roman Reigns is the guy now, despite the fans’ opposition, and Bryan has been relegated to the Intercontinental title picture for now.
Portland looked great this year, but a season-ending injury to Wesley Matthews ruined their title shot. He was a great 3-point shooter for them and their top perimeter defender. Now, they’re just a very good team that isn’t sniffing the title. Sounds like the Blazers right?
Los Angeles Clippers–Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins is the current WWE champion. He’s a mastermind, one of the cleverest in-ring guys in the WWE, and probably the company’s best heel. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are the Clippers not the NBA’s biggest heels?
Rollins is smaller than your average WWE champion, so he needs to rely on creativity and savvy often. That’s Chris Paul in a nutshell, kicking ass year after year despite usually being one of the smallest guys on the court.
Rollins also has superior athleticism too though. Nobody in the WWE these days has a better chance of making you say WOW! than Rollins. The same could be said for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The Clips aren’t perfect–neither is Rollins–but Rollins is wearing the strap because he cleverly cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania. The Clippers wouldn’t be the favorites to win it all, but don’t count out CP3 and his dunkin’ buddies.
Houston Rockets–Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns is complicated, and so are the Rockets. He’s undoubtedly successful, but that doesn’t mean everyone wants to watch him. Reigns isn’t as polished as fan favorites like Daniel Bryan, and the Rockets, aside from James Harden, have some guys that aren’t always pretty.
Dwight Howard’s post game is super limited, and watching him consists of seeing him drive his shoulder into people and/or brick free throws. Likewise, for as dazzling as Harden can be, he leads the NBA in free throw attempts. It’s not always a great watch. Fans see Reigns in a similar way. Yeah his spear is dope, and the Superman punch has it’s moments, but he’s not 100% there as a superstar attraction. Sometimes you can see the flaws in him, or he’s just not compelling.
Whether fans like it or not though, Reigns is big-time and he’s not going anywhere. The same goes for Houston, who are sitting as a No. 6 seed right now, but are a game out of the No. 2 seed. Love them or hate them all you want, the Rockets are gonna be there, laughing it all off.
The Mavericks, like Kane, are serviceable veterans. Do they have a chance to win a title this year? No. Is it possible that they advance further than any of us expect? Sure. Kane used to be the s**t, when he was rocking the black and red mask, commanded fireworks to shoot out of the ring posts, and was generally destroying anyone and anything.
Dallas was like that a few years ago. Who could stop Dirk Nowitzki’s fallaway shots, score on Tyson Chandler, or keep the tiny J.J. Barea/Jason Terry tandem from killing you from beyond the arc?
Now though, Dirk is old and creaky. Chandler is still good, but not prime, and Rajon Rondo has disrupted an offense that was No. 1 in the NBA in the early part of the season. Likewise, Kane has gone “corportate,” taken off his mask, and put on decent, but unexciting matches for several years now while wearing regular ol’ black pants. He’s blah, and so are the 2014-15 Mavs.
Oklahoma City Thunder/New Orleans Pelicans–Dolph Ziggler
Originally this was intended to describe OKC, but not only are the Pelicans ahead of them for the final spot, Dolph Ziggler applies to both teams. Ziggler is always capable of stealing an entire show–so are Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis. Both of those players are ready RIGHT NOW to win title, and many believe Ziggler is too.
But circumstances outside these brilliant players’ control–for OKC it’s injuries, and for New Orleans it was faulty and expensive roster building–these teams aren’t going to win the title or even get out of Round 1. Westbrook may have a league-leading 11 triple-doubles, but he isn’t beating Golden State on his own. Neither is Davis, and he is damn close to being the best player in the whole league.
Ziggler may steal a show with the best move. He may be the most memorable Superstar on the night you took in a WWE show. But if he was thrown in the ring with Brock Lesnar I bet he walked away a loser.