Real American Wrestleblog

This blog predates Jack Swagger's gimmick shift by a year. I named it after Hulk Hogan's entrance theme.

Posts Tagged ‘Bayley

Real American Live Reactions – NXT Takeover: Unstoppable #1 Contender’s Match and Ladies Tag Team Action

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We kick off the main show with a bunch of female models on a runway modeling some Tyler Breeze style fur clothing.  Breeze then comes out, but instead of his usual fur jacket, he’s wearing a cape.  I am surprised that they just turned this into a one-on-one match instead of adding a new third man to replace Itami and keep it a Triple Threat Match.  I had assumed that Itami would win as the logical next challenger for Kevin Owens should he retain against Sami Zayn or if things went the other way, Zayn vs. Itami would be a great new headline matchup.  Plus, Breeze and Balor have already been in title matches and Itami hadn’t.  Now, it looks like Itami will probably get a shot at Owens in the future anyway should Owens retain, which I’m thinking he probably will.  To Breeze’s credit, he remains self-obsessed and ignores Balor’s demon entrance.  It was really cool the first time seeing it, less so when he does it for every TakeOver special.  Balor and Breeze are both very good, but I’m just not as impressed by them as everybody else is.

Pretty basic back and forth match until Balor gets a roll-up for a near fall and then Breeze shoves him into the corner and hits the Beauty Shot, but Balor kicks out.  Balor goes out to the floor while Breeze rests.  Funny bit with the crowd chanting “You’re Not Counting at the referee while he should be counting Balor out.  Breeze finally goes out after Balor and Balor ambushes him on the rampway and heads up to the top of the top of the stage video boards and dives off with a pretty basic dive attack.  Beats him up some more and puts him back in the ring and finishes it with the Coup de grace for the win.  Not an elite 5 star match by any means, but a very solid entertaining match from two of NXT’s biggest darlings with the crowd (even though Breeze is a heel, the crowd loves him).

The Divas tag team match is up next as Charlotte and Bayley unite forces to take on Emma and Dana Brooke.  Charlotte schools Dana in the early going and tags in Bayley with a thunderous chop to Dana’s chest.  Tag to Emma and Emma runs around the ring, trying to avoid a fight, even hiding behind Dana out on the floor, but Bayley knocks them both down and puts Emma back in the ring.  Bayley goes up to the top, but Dana climbs up on the apron and grabs at her.  Bayley nails Dana with a big right hanbs and shoves her away, but it allows Emma to knock Bayley down and turn the tide.  Emma roughs up Bayley with some punches and clubbing blows and throws her into the corner and tags in Dana.  Dana and Emma take turns tagging in and out and kicking Bayley in the mid-section.  Emma takes Bayley back to the middle of the ring and flings her across the ring.  Bayley sits up in the neutral corner and Emma hits the Emmamite Sandwich, though Graves says she doesn’t call it that any more, but fails to provide a new name for it.  Emma plays to the crowd while Charlotte begs for the hot tag.  Bayley catches Emma with a Belly-to-Belly Throw and makes the hot tag to Charlotte as Emma tags in Dana.  Charlotte comes in on fire, knocking Dana down with Chops and then a big boot to the chest.  Emma with a distraction, lets Dana club Charlotte from behind and once again turn the tables toward the heels favor.  Charlotte counters a double team attempt into a Double DDT and covers Emma for a near fall.  Charlotte rolls through a Flying Crosssbody from Emma and puts her in the Figure Four.  Bayley and Dana into the ring.  Charlotte breaks the hold for some reason as Bayley Suplexes Dana out of the ring.  Charlotte hits Natural Selection on Emma for the win.  Very good match.  Charlotte and Bayley are maybe the best two female wrestlers to come along in the WWE in a long time, though you have to consider Paige in that conversation.  Tonight was up to their usual standard.  Creative bit with Charlotte bridging up on the Figure Four and Bayley sliding underneath her to stop Dana from breaking it up.  It didn’t work out quite like they wanted and it made Dana look a little stupid standing there waiting for Bayley instead of breaking up the Figure Four.  But I respect them for trying.

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Real American Live Reactions – NXT Takeover: Unstoppable Preshow

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Right away, looking at the preshow panel I’m a little disappointed.  In the past, we’ve had guys like Paul Heyman and current or former Main Roster wrestlers join the NXT preshow panels just like they used to do with the PPV preshow panels.  Tonight, unless there is a surprise or two, it’s just Renee Young with Byron Saxton and Corey Graves.  And unless I’m mistaken, that’s the entire Main Roster PPV preshow team save for Booker T.  I miss having Heyman and the bigger name wrestlers on the preshow because they were usually the most entertaining.  I don’t have anything against Renee Young, I think she’s a fairly decent interviewer, but really the interview segments that WWE puts together have been as bland as plain yogurt for several years now.  She was actually a lot better working with William Regal on commentary for NXT than these guys they have doing it now.  And Byron Saxton gets on the mic and is just so bland and insightful.  As much as I criticize Michael Cole, he’s at least excitable.  Cole at least reacts to what’s going on, even if the result is usually ignorant.  Corey Graves is just Mr. Cool on the panels.  He’s always calm, cool and collected and like Saxton he’s not very excitable, but he’s not bland.  He puts his personality out there on full display and while you don’t usually hear his reactions in his voice, you see them on his face.  And he usually says things that make sense and don’t bore you to death.  For a guy that’s mostly there because his in-ring career got cut short due to injuries and WWE is doing right by him, he’s pretty decent at what he does.

It’s been reported for a while now that Hideo Itami had a shoulder injury that was going to keep him out of action for 6-8 weeks and news broke earlier this week that he was officially being pulled from the Triple Threat #1 Contender’s Match.  On the preshow tonight, they sold his injury as a parking lot attack perpetrated by Kevin Owens.

Greg Hamilton interview with Stephanie McMahon, basically just a back-patting interview over the success of NXT.  Nothing she’s saying is wrong, but a lot of it doesn’t really need to be said.  The people who are watching NXT already know how awesome it’s been to this point.

Payback, Unstoppable and the Elimination Chamber, Oh My!

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Over the next two weeks, the WWE has stacked up for us 2 Main Roster Pay Per View events as well as a 2-hour NXT Takeover, which if you don’t follow NXT is basically like a PPV event for them that they put on every 2-3 months. Starting May 17 with Payback, followed up by NXT Unstoppalbe on May 20 and concluding with a surprise Elimination Chamber PPV on May 31 that we only found out about 3 weeks before it takes place.  Now, I don’t think these are going to be the best two weeks of wrestling of all time, or even all year, but it is going to be plenty of fun and it feels like anything can happen.

Let’s start with the top of the card this Sunday at Payback.  We have a Fatal 4-Way for the WWE Championship that I am very much looking forward to.  It is a near certainty that either Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns is going to be carrying the championship into SummerSlam where they will defend against a returning Brock Lesnar.  However, a lot can happen between now and SummerSlam three months from now.  We now have 4 Pay Per Views stacked up between now and SummerSlam – Payback, Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank and Battleground.  We could see any number of things happen.  We could see Seth Rollins lose the title at Payback and win it back in the Elimination Chamber.  We could see Rollins survive both the Fatal 4-Way and the Chamber only to see Roman Reigns win Money in the Bank and cash in on him in a reversal of fortunes.  We could see Ambrose get his first World Championship, though that one is a long shot.  There are a lot of possibilities for WWE to play around with.  I do think that Rollins carries the title all the way to SummerSlam without interruption, but it is far from a certainty with all that is laid out on the road between now and then.  No matter what happens, this should be an excellent match with tons of action and mark out moments.

From there we move to the next biggest match of Payback with John Cena against Rusev for the United States Championship in an “I Quit” Match.  John Cena has never lost an “I Quit” Match.  I will be shocked if John Cena loses this “I Quit” Match.  It’s not gonna be a classic.  I expect Rusev to royally pound on Cena and maybe even go into full on prisoner torture mode like Randy Orton did in his “I Quit” Match with Cena back in 2009.  But no matter what happens, Cena will not quit and he’ll eventually hulk up and put Rusev in some crazy variation of the STF using ropes or a chain or duct tape or whatever’s handy to sell that Rusev isn’t just tapping out to an ordinary STF and Cena will retain.  Of that, we can all be certain.  The United States Open Challenge that Cena puts on is the best match of Raw every week and Cena’s new role in the company is apparently to beat everybody on the mid-card.  I actually really like this plan because eventually, he will lose and it’s gonna make for a huge push for whoever beats him for the title.  Meanwhile, for the guys he’s beating, everybody on the roster has lost cleanly to John Cena multiple times, so there is no shame in it and it doesn’t hurt them at all. The only exception to that is Rusev in my opinion.  One loss, not so bad, but you take an unbeaten monster and have him lose to John Cena at 3 consecutive Pay Per Views and there is just no point in it other than to destroy Rusev.  Rusev should have just spit on the United States Championship picture after Wrestlemania and moved on to fight somebody like Randy Orton or Dean Ambrose and transitioned into a World Champion contender.  But after losing 3 straight Pay Per View matches for a mid-card title, there is nowhere for Rusev to go.  After he quits on Sunday, he probably has to go away for a few months and then come back and start all over unless they can find a new twist for him that keeps the heat on his character.  Not that I mind seeing him go, but it seemed like WWE was really into what they were doing with him and now they’re letting him be broken all the way down.  Anything is possible in WWE, so it’s always possible that through some trickery or a shift in Cena’s never give up schtick that Rusev could regain the United States Championship, but to what end?  What does WWE have to gain by putting the United States Championship back on Rusev?  He’s already beaten all the supposed big American badasses except for Cena, so if he finally beats Cena to reclaim the championship there then becomes nowhere else for them to go with his storyline.  There becomes no more American challengers to throw at him.  There is nothing left for Rusev to accomplish in that storyline and it’s past time to end it and find something else for him.  Despite this undoubtedly being an incredibly violent match, it’s really gonna be just two guys taking turns punching and kicking each other and hitting each other with weapons while melodramatically screaming at the other one to give up.  It will be brutal and hold your attention, but it will not be a very good match in my opinion.

As for the rest of the card, Bray Wyatt vs. Ryack is intriguing and has a very good chance to exceed expectations.  However, it feels like WWE just threw these two together because they didn’t have anything else to do with either of them.  Those kind of situations can lead to phenomenal matches, but more commonly than not matches under those circumstances tend to suck majorly.  Then we have a Ziggler vs. Sheamus rematch and despite being a fan of both guys, I really just don’t care about this one.  That stupid Kiss Me Arse Match at Extreme Rules has just made their entire program a flop to me and they haven’t done anything to save it.  Sheamus is very athletic for a guy his size and I thought he put on some of the best matches of his career against Daniel Bryan and Big Show during his run as World Heavyweight Champion, but I haven’t been impressed by his matches with Ziggler in the past.  And we all know Ziggler is phenomenal.  These guys just need to be matched up against anybody but each other, it feels like to me.  King Barrett takes on Neville in a rematch from the King of the Ring Finals, which is also a rematch from the Extreme Rules Kickoff show and other than the Main Event, this is my pick for the best match on the card.  Cesaro & Tyson Kidd challenge New Day for the Tag Team Titles 2-out-of-3 Falls Match, which makes me think of last year’s Battleground with Harper & Rowan against The Usos in the same type of match in what I think was the best match of the year.  However, as great as Cesaro & Kidd are, New Day is not that good and I expect a decent match out of this one, but not a great one.  That just leaves the Divas Tag Match and the Preshow tag match and let’s just call those what they are – space fillers.

NXT takes over the WWE Network for the 6th time on May 20th with Unstoppable and right at the top of the card you have what promises to be a match of the year candidate for sure in Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship.  Their last match wasn’t the match that I was expecting, but that’s because first and foremost it was a beatdown used to write Sami Zayn off of NXT TV for a couple of months and it was only secondarily a wrestling match.  This time, I’m expecting a classic on par with the Sami Zayn and Cesaro matches of 2013 and 2014.

The NXT Divas look to be set for another amazing night with Sasha Banks defending the Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch.  This is kind of the opposite of the Ziggler / Sheamus match for me.  With Ziggler / Sheamus, I like both guys, but don’t think they fit well together.  However, with Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch, I don’t care for either lady, but their work together to this point has been riveting.  Both ladies were a part of the Phenomenal Fatal 4-Way title match at the last Takeover along with Charlotte and Bayley and for this match the two had probably the most interesting contract signing segment I can remember seeing in a long time.  As for Charlotte and Bayley, they team up to take on Emma and Dana Brooke in a Tag Team Match and Charlotte and Bayley have yet to put on a bad match that I’ve seen, so I have faith in this one though I’m not really feeling it.

Then we have the Triple Threat #1 Contenders Match between Finn Balor, Hideo Itami and Tyler Breeze.  Unfortunately for Itami because I feel like he was probably slated to win this one, he’s suffered a shoulder injury and is expected to be pulled from this match.  Whether he is replaced by another contender or it becomes a singles match between Balor and Breeze, it should still be a top notch match.

As for the rest, we have Baron Corbin taking on Rhyno.  While the buildup for Baron Corbin and Rhyno hasn’t been as fun as the buildup for Baron Corbin and Bull Dempsey was, this match should be much better than that one was.  And rounding out the card, Enzo Amore and Big Cass take on Blake & Murphy for the NXT Tag Team Championships and while Enzo & Cass are a great act on the mic, they aren’t really that impressive in the ring and Blake & Murphy just seem very bland to me, so I’m not expecting much out of these two teams as far as wrestling, but Enzo & Cass will no doubt rock the mic with a new variation on their usual schtick and the crowd with eat it up like candy.  Also, I’ve felt from the time she debuted that her character has just been waiting for the right opportunity to stab Enzo & Cass in the back and with Blake & Murphy showering her with jewelry over the past couple months, I think the union between Blake, Murphy & Alexa Bliss could be a misdirect and Carmella could be leaving with the defending champions at Takeover.

As for the Elimination Chamber, we only know so far that there will be at least two Elimination Chamber matches – one for Daniel Bryan’s recently vacated Intercontinental Championship and one for the WWE Tag Team Championship.  We’ve never seen a tag team Elimination Chamber, so we don’t know for sure if it’s gonna be 3 teams, 4 teams or 6 teams taking part.  It could be 6 teams with multiple guys locked in each pod.  It could be 3 teams with 2 guys starting and being handicapped without their partner until their partner is released.  Or it could be 4 teams with 2 full teams starting out and 4 individuals locked in the pods with one individual released at a time, giving the teams locked in the pods the advantage of not having to wrestle the beginning of the match and get worn down, but also giving them the disadvantage of entering the ring without their partner against two complete teams, although theoretically worn down and weakened at that point.  Any way it goes, it will be a first time and thus will be interesting.  We also have a mid-card title being up for grabs in the Elimination Chamber for the very first time.  And not that he’s really a candidate to win it, but I’ve read a lot of speculation about Adam Rose being booked as a part of that match and given somewhat of a push after his was featured on the E:60 NXT special.

While anything can happen on this schedule, I expect a fair amount of disappointment from certain matches on the cards as I have outlined.  However, I also expect a few pleasant surprises and maybe even a big surprise or two and I’m definitely going to be glued to the TV on those three nights.  $9.99 well spent.

Written by Arron Hustead

May 14, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Posted in Adam Rose, Baron Corbin, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Big E Langston, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Charlotte, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Elimination Chamber, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, John Cena, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, New Day, Nikki Bella, NXT, NXT Championship, NXT Takeover, Payback, Randy Orton, Rhyno, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, SummerSlam, Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, United States Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Xavier Woods

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Why I won’t miss AJ Lee (as a part of the WWE roster)

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Let’s get things clear right from the start.  I’m not writing this to try to belittle AJ Lee or her accomplishments over the past 3 years.  I’m not going to throw around negative buzzwords like overrated.  I’m just going to share my personal feelings, opinions and maybe a few critiques about her career and the way wrestling fans have responded to her.

Right off the start, she’s been the best performer in the women’s division over the past 3 years.  I’m not here to dispute that.  She has had her fair share of moments of brilliance.  But where it all started for AJ was back in 2012, the angle with CM Punk, Kane and Daniel Bryan.  She was featured highly in an angle with 3 performers that have pretty much always been on the right side of things with the most vocal segments of the fans.  Whether they were heel or face, all 3 of them have always been very much over (not counting Glenn Jacobs’ time as Isaac Yankem or Diesel II of course).   So, working with those 3 gave AJ a great rub with the segment of the audience that watches every week and is the most passionate about the industry.  And to her credit, she played her part incredibly well and started to go over huge.  Without that angle, AJ still would have been successful, I’m sure she still would have held the Diva’s Championship multiple times.  However, without that angle, I doubt that she would have gotten there as quickly and then maybe she wouldn’t have been in the right place at the right time when Total Divas started up and was able to be the vocal performer running down the girls on Total Divas every week.  Now, those same fervent members of the audience who watch every week and discuss it with their friends or with people on the internet, for the most part those people don’t care very much for Total Divas and very much dislike when storylines from that show, which they don’t care about, make their way onto Raw and Smackdown.

With that being the case, of course that most vocal segment of the audience was going to respond when AJ came out and talked trash about Total Divas.  She was saying the same things about the show that they felt and so they turned her into this messiah of the division in their eyes, there to save them from the big bad Bellas.  However, Total Divas didn’t just go away.  Total Divas just wrapped up their third season not that long ago and while I have not watched a single episode and don’t care about anything that happens on that show, I acknowledge that the show has it’s own substantial fanbase and is doing quite well for itself.  So, while the segments on Raw and Smackdown that call back to Total Divas storylines aren’t appealing to me, I see why they are there.  It makes all the sense in the world from the perspective of a producer to try to attain cross-pollination between the audiences of Raw / Smackdown and the audience of Total Divas and the easiest way to do that is take your attentive Raw audience and put Total Divas in front of them every week.  But this is about AJ, not the Total Divas and I’m getting sidetracked.  AJ wasn’t saying anything overly insightful or in a way that was more talented than the way any other diva worked the microphone.  She was just the one given the time to speak and she used it to send a message that the fans agreed with.  Good for her, but let’s keep that segment of her reign at the top of the diva’s division in perspective.  Just because people agreed with what she was saying doesn’t mean she was any better on the microphone than the rest of the divas.  She didn’t make a fool of herself like the Bellas did when given the spotlight during their brief Bella vs. Bella rivalry, but you put pretty much anybody else in that particular spot and tell them to talk trash on the cast of Total Divas and they were going to come out of it as an undeniable fan favorite and were going to gain a pretty solid following.  You take that and put it on top of the rub that she got from working with Daniel Bryan and CM Punk the year before and she was the face of the division and head and shoulders above everybody else.  Then you factor in what Cameron leaked last summer – that there was a policy in place that prevented any cast member of Total Divas from winning the Divas championship due to the fact that the episodes are filmed so far in advance that it would cause confusion if somebody on the show were to win the championship during filming and then no longer have the championship by the time the episode aired, but still be carrying the championship on Total Divas.  That policy is obviously no longer in effect, as evidenced by Nikki Bella holding the title since November.  But at the time, the policy was in place, AJ was pretty much the only diva on the roster who wasn’t on the show.  So, she was able to have that lengthy title reign from 2013-2014, but nobody else in the division would have been allowed to hold the title at the time due to being on Total Divas, so she was essentially the champion by default.  And I’m not saying she didn’t deserve to be champion for all that time.  I don’t think she was undeserving.  I don’t think she dropped the ball.  I’m just pointing out that a key factor in why it went down had very little to do with her ability.  Now, if she weren’t as over as she was, could that policy have changed at the time and significantly shortened her reign as champion?  Absolutely.  But I’m not going to get into the “What Ifs”.

This last bit is the part that may get more harsh.  Maybe it’s just that she didn’t get the opportunity to work with anybody to push her to be better during her record setting reign as divas champion in 2013-2014, but the divas matches of that time, including hers were all very bland to me.  And when she did get the opportunity to work with a great young talent like Paige throughout the summer of 2014, I didn’t feel like they had very good chemistry together and that match at Battleground in particular struck me as pretty bad.  Their other matches together were better and I’d say they were probably some of the better singles matches of AJ’s career, but when you examine AJ’s best matches – were any of them as good as the matches Trish used to have with Lita?  Were any of them as good as the matches Trish used to have with Victoria or Jazz or Mickie James?  Were any of them as good as some of the things Gail Kim has been doing in TNA?  Were any of them as good as the matches Charlotte and Bayley and Sasha Banks put on in NXT?  I don’t think they are.  I can’t think of any matches that she has had that are on that level.  I can’t remember at any moments watching an AJ Lee match and thinking those ladies did an incredible job in that match.  AJ has had a lot of bright spots as a performer when she wasn’t wrestling.  She’s created a lot of memorable moments during promos and run-ins.  And again, maybe its just that she never had the right dance partner, but she never went out there and wrestled an elite level match and a lot of times didn’t even come close in my opinion.  I guess time well tell if she can ever reach that level because while her relationship with the WWE and also the relationship of her husband with the WWE likely means that we won’t see her back in the Diva’s division, once the required amount of time has passed and maybe once she and CM Punk perhaps get their family started with a few little Punkers, we could see her return to the ring in somewhere like TNA where we can see her get in the ring with greats like Victoria and Mickie James and see just what she really has to offer.