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 ‘Mark Henry

Live Reactions – Elimination Chamber 2015 – First Ever Intercontinental Championship Chamber Match

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The second Elimination Chamber match is coming up next.  Former Intercontinental Champion Daniel Bryan is at ringside to present the title to the new champion.  As noted, Rusev is out with a broken foot and we find out right away with the first entry who his replacement is as Mark Henry makes his way to the ring and is locked in a pod.  Sheamus comes out next, so he won’t be starting out the match either.  R-Truth is the third one to come out, so he’ll be in a pod as well.  Ryback is the last one to be locked in a pod, meaning Dolph Ziggler will start the match off against King Barrett.

A series of near falls between Barrett and Ziggler to start off the match.  Barrett slams Ziggler face first into the corner and delivers a Snap Suplex for a near fall.  Barrett works Ziggler over in the corner, punches to the kidneys and abdominals.  Barrett props Ziggler up, laying him out across the top turnbuckle and clubs him repeatedly over the back and then gets a running start and punts him in the gut.  Barrett with a Reverse Chinlock wear down / catch your breath hold.  Ziggler counters out with a Jawbreaker.  Outstanding Dropkick from Ziggler.  Follows it up with a Neckbreaker and a big Elbow Drop for a near fall.  The fight goes out of the ring where Barrett slams Ziggler into the side of Ryback’s pod and badmouths Ryback. Ryback responds that he will “Eat Your Ass Alive” to Barrett.  Barrett slams Ziggler into the chains and the countdown winds down and Barrett retreats to the middle of the ring to await the new entrant.

R-Truth’s pod opens and Barrett is there to ambush him and beat him down in the pod.  Barrett slams Truth up against the inside of the pod a few times.  Truth gets one kick in and Barrett beats him down again.  Barrett takes Truth out of the pod and slams him into the chains.  Barrett goes back after Ziggler.  Ziggler kicks him in the gut.  Barrett knocks Ziggler back down with a Big Boot.  Lawler calls Barrett Snuffleupagus Face.  Truth gets in a kick to Barrett’s nose and a Missile Dropkick for a near fall.  Truth with a Front Suplex, but Barrett lands on his knees instead of taking the move.  Truth follows up with an Axe Kick and Barrett rolls over to the corner.  Truth with a Flying Lariat into the corner and goes for something else, but Barrett counters into the Winds of Change for a near fall.  Barrett kicks Ziggler in the gut and then a kick to the jaw with Ziggler down on his knees.  Barrett makes the cover, but Ziggler kicks out.  Barrett throws ZIggler out over the top rope, but Ziggler hangs on to keep from crashing to the steel grate.  Barrett rams Ziggler into Henry’s pod and pod breaks.  Henry is standing in a broken pod and decides to enter the match early.  Henry takes the fight to Barrett and hits an Atomic Leg Drop and covers him, but Barrett kicks out.

Countdown winds down and Ryback enters and it seems like Henry is gonna be allowed to stay in, so that’s four fewer minutes that this match is going to go on waiting for the last entrant.  Ryback and Sheamus are gonna enter ahead of schedule as a result as well it seems.  Ryback is hitting anything that moves and follows Barrett into a corner with a Clothesline and then follows up with a Spinebuster.  Ryback is thrown out.  Barrett goes for the Winds of Change on Ziggler, but Ziggler counters into a Crucifix Pin Combination and Mark Henry stands by watching as Barrett gets the upper hand and covers Ziggler, but then breaks it up and beats down Barrett in the corner.  Barrett fires back with some Knee Strikes and then goes for the Bull Hammer, but Dolph cuts him off with a Superkick.  Ryback hoists Barrett up and drops him Snake Eyes on the corner and Barrett stumbles into the Lie Detector from Truth who pins Barrett for the three count and King Barrett is the first one eliminated.  The remaining four men square off as Sheamus waits in his pod.  Ryback and Ziggler fight in one corner while Truth and Henry fight in the opposite corner.  Ryback charges over and Splashes Henry and Truth in the corner.

Countdown winds down and Sheamus is supposed to be released, but his pod is stuck and won’t open.  Ziggler and Ryback watch and wait for Sheamus until Truth rolls up Ryback for a near fall.  Ziggler then rolls up Truth.  Ryback rolls up Ziggler, nobody gets pinned.  Now they triple team Henry and Sheamus is still in his pod.  Superkick and a Spinebuster on Henry and then Ryback Clotheslines Ziggler.  Ryback hits Truth with the Shellshock and pins him for the three count.  Ryback with a Hesitation Suplex on Dolph.  Long one.  Really long one.  Has time to stop and talk to Sheamus.  Then finally drops him.  Ryback sets up for the Meat Hook Clothesline as Ziggler stumbles up, but Ryback runs into a Superkick.  Henry, Ziggler and Ryabck down for a breather.  Sheamus still unable to exit his pod.  Sheamus unjams the pod, which he had jammed in there to keep himself locked in his pod, revealing why the pod wouldn’t open, but the announce team thinks he used it to pick the lock somehow.  Sheamus slams Ziggler through one of the sides of the pod.  Sheamus dumps Ryback out to the steel floor.  Bodyslam on Sheamus from Henry, but Sheamus kicks out of the pin attempt.  Sheamus knocks Henry out with the Brogue Kick and covers him for the three count.

Sheamus, Ziggler and Ryback are the last three left and Sheamus is the only one standing.  He works Ryback over and slams him into the chain wall a few times.  Now he puts Dolph back into the ring.  Sheamus pummels Dolph and hits a Short-arm Clothesline.  Shoves Ziggler around with his boot a few times and now Dolph fires back.  Sheamus with a Suplex Toss on Ziggler and covers him, but Ziggler kicks out for a near fall.  Another Suplex Toss, but it’s countered into a rollup for a near fall.  Back Body Drop countered into another pin by Ziggler for a near fall.  Ziggler goes for a Snap DDT, but Sheamus blocks it.  Ziggler bounces back and hits it on the second try and covers him for a near fall.  Ryback now back in and goes for a Powerbomb on Ziggler, but Ziggler slips free down the back and hits a Superkick.  Ziggler ducks a Brogue and hits the Fameasser, but Sheamus no sells it and comes right back up and hits the Brogue Kick and covers Dolph for the three count.

Sheamus and Ryback are the final two left in this match.  Sheamus with a Running Knee to the gut.  Follows up with a Running Powerslam that he only runs about half a step for and covers him for a near fall.  Sheamus slaps Ryback around and yells a bit, then points out to Daniel Bryan and the title.  Ryback back up, knocks Sheamus down with a series of Shoulder Blocks and a Slam.  Ryback with a Running Powerslam on Sheamus and he at least took a step and a half on his.  Ryback calling for the Meat Hook.  Sheamus drops down and rolls out of the ring.  Sheamus does something with his pod and cross necklace again.  It’s jammed back in the door, locking the pod.  Must have something to do with the finish of the match.  White Noise on the steel floor of the chamber.  Back in the ring, Sheamus covers Ryback for a near fall.  12 Beats of the Bourin countered as Ryback pulls Sheamus over him into a Hip Toss on the steel.  Sheamus with a Rolling Bodyslam.  Goes for the Brogue Kick, but Ryback drops down and catches him and Powerbombs him into the side of the cage and then Powerbomb throws him back into the ring.  Ryback back in with the Shellshock and covers Sheamus for the three count.

Ryback is the NEW Intercontinental Champion.  I was thinking the more Sheamus played around with that necklace, he was going to use it in the finish to win the title, but Ryback comes away with his first championship in WWE.  Daniel Bryan now comes into the ring as the Chamber is lifted up and Bryan congratulates “The Ryback” and presents him with the title, giving him the rub from a guy that’s more over than he is.  Ryback thanks him and calls him an inspiration and accepts the title.  The two lead the crowd in Feed Me More Chants together before Bryan exits and gives Ryback his moment to celebrate alone.

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Live Reactions – Elimination Chamber 2015 Preshow

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Within the last hour before the Kickoff show went live, it was announced on wwe.com that Rusev had not been cleared to compete and thus will not be a part of the Elimination Chamber for the Intercontinental Championship tonight, meaning that we have a surprise opening in that chamber match.

On the preshow, Booker T announces that his sources are telling him Rusev will be replaced in the Elimination Chamber by a former World Heavyweight Champion.  That points to potentially The Miz, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry, Big Show, Kane or Randy Orton.  Unless somebody like a Chris Jericho were to make a surprise appearance tonight.

Backstage, Kane is talking in the Authority’s office with all 3 members of New Day and New Day asks to be rewarded for helping The Authority out against Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns.  Kane reveals that he has decided that all three members of New Day will be allowed to compete in the Elimination Chamber tonight.  Xavier asks if this means they will get a bigger pod so that all three of them can fit.  Kane looks confused and says if that is going to cause a problem, he can arrange for New Day to start the match and make them go through every other team.  Big E and Kofi then immediately cover Xavier’s mouth before he can make things worse and says it won’t be a problem, they’ll fit.  So, the bottom line is that we know all 3 members of New Day will be in the match and they will not be one of the two teams starting the match.

Another announcement was made on the preshow, this time having to do with the Divas Championship match.  A ruling has been made during the Divas Championship Triple Threat match, nobody will be allowed at ringside.  That means that Brie Bella and Tamina won’t be in Nikki Bella and Naomi’s respective corners.  That means we will likely have a better match than just a couple of minutes full of interference and then a quick pin and a new champion.  However, even with them banned from ringside, I wouldn’t rule out some kind of interference taking place.

At ringside, the announce team talks about the Tough Enough auditions and then we have an impromptu, unannanounced preshow match as Zack Ryder makes his way to the ring.  I don’t think Ryder has had a singles match on a Pay Per View / PPV Preshow in over a year.  Tonight, he’s taking on Stardust, who lost to R-Truth on the Payback preshow two weeks ago.

Stardust controls the early going, mostly working the torso and Ryder’s left arm.  Ryder counters a Vertical Suplex into a Neckbreaker and the tables are turned.  Very nice Missile Dropkick from Ryder off the ring apron to the floor.  The announce team plays up Stardust’s run-in with Stephen Amell on Raw last week.  Ryder hits the Broski Boot and goes for the Rough Ryder, but Stardust blocks it.  Stardust ends up winning with the Cross Rhodes.  JBL says it’s now called the Queen’s Crossbow, playing up a potential Stardust / Amell program.

Tom Phillips interviews Lana.  She sells the beef between her and Rusev and gets gooey over Ziggler.  In case you missed Smackdown, Rusev is no longer waving a Russian flag.  Instead, he’s waving a Bulgarian flag.  That’s a step that seems like Rusev and Lana won’t be reuniting to swerve Ziggler, but you never know.

The Miz returns, announced by Summer Rae.  Miz is wearing an even crappier version of his black man-dress from his last run.  Not only is he a boring performer and a below average wrestler, but he continues to have the worst fashion sense of anybody on the planet.  He’s interviewing Daniel Bryan on a Miz-TV segment.  Miz does the typical heel thing and asks Bryan a question and then interrupts and answers it himself.  Bryan says his career is not over and he WILL be back.  Bryan promotes his upcoming book.  Miz says that due to doctor’s orders, Byran can’t touch him and he can’t touch Bryan.  However, Bryan says that he finds Miz-TV boring and has an alternative solution to continuing it and points to the back and Macho Mandow and Axelmania make their way to the ring and clobber Miz.  Axel drops the leg on Miz and Miz rolls out to the floor and retreats.  The Faux Mega Powers pose down with Daniel Bryan to end the segment.

Dean Ambrose is being interviewed.  Ambrose says that no matter what the Authority has planned, he’s going down swinging.  Roman Reigns shows up and says that Ambrose only has to worry about Seth Rollins tonight because he will be in the corner.

JBL closes down the preshow, standing inside the Elimination Chamber and reviews the rules of the Chamber match.  The chamber is set up, so it looks like one of the two Elimination Chamber matches is coming up first on the main card.

A Real American Wrestlemania 31 Overview

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Barely more than a week away from Wrestlemania 31 and let’s take a look first at what we know concerning the main event.  Brock Lesnar’s WWE contract is up very soon.  This fact has been made very public for quite some time now and all of the reports say that the two sides are at a standstill.  Rumors are flying that Brock is considering coming out of retirement as an MMA fighter and stepping back into the UFC.  The general feeling seems to be that unless Brock gets paid a lot more than what Vince McMahon has thus far been willing to shell out, he will walk.

The plan for Lesnar to drop the title to Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 31 has been widely reported since before Lesnar even won the title back at SummerSlam last year.  WWE has stuck to their guns under pressure from the fans to seemingly keep moving forward with that plan despite pressure from outspoken fans who very vocally expressed their disapproval of Roman Reigns being seemingly anointed as the next big thing.  I’m obviously not breaking any new ground here when I say that Brock Lesnar is not very likely to walk out of Levi’s Stadium on March 29 still holding the WWE Championship.  But this is where things become more up in the air – does Roman Reigns leave Wrestlemania with the title or does Seth Rollins finally cash in his Money in the Bank Briefcase after eight months of waiting?  As brilliant as Rollins has been at points over the past 8 months, I tend to think that he has been groomed to become the first person to cash in that briefcase at Wrestlemania.  With the Money in the Bank concept going as strongly as it has for the past 10 years, I find it somewhat surprising that nobody has as of yet cashed it in on the biggest stage WWE has to offer.  Dolph Ziggler came close two years ago, waiting several months and becoming the first individual to still have the briefcase in his possession at the start of Wrestlemania, but WWE didn’t pull the trigger that night – instead waiting to have Dolph cash-in the next night.  Back in 2007, Ken Kennedy promised to keep his briefcase for a full year and cash it in at Wrestlemania 24, even going so far as to launch a Money in the Bank cash-in countdown on wwe.com, counting down the number of days until Wrestlemania 24.  However, that idea got the rug pulled out from under it and Kennedy’s WWE run never really recovered after he lost the briefcase to Edge.  Ten years after the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match, it feels very fitting that Money in the Bank would finally be cashed in at a Wrestlemania for the first time.  And with the fans reaction to Reigns at the Royal Rumble in mind, a cash-in would presumably be very well received by the WWE Universe.  Brock Lesnar hasn’t lost a match since Wrestlemania 29, so Roman Reigns clearly stands to benefit from Lesnar dropping the title to him, even if Reigns doesn’t leave with the championship.  Reigns beating Lesnar only to have Seth Rollins cash-in immediately after and take the title from Reigns seems to be a scenario where everybody wins.  Reigns gets to stand up the next night and brag about beating the guy everyone said couldn’t be beaten, just like Brock did last year after beating Undertaker.  Seth gets to brag about being the new champion and having all of the Authority’s plans come to fruition with the future finally becoming reality.  Brock gets to go back to UFC and get the payday he wants.  The WWE gets it’s next marquee match-up for the next Pay Per View with Rollins defending the title against Reigns.  And the fans voicing their disapproval of Reigns get to leave happy knowing that Rollins is the champion and Reigns isn’t.  Everybody wins.

From there we move to the match that has been billed pretty much as the secondary Main Event of the night – Triple H vs. Sting.  And while this match will undoubtedly be a thing to behold, it just doesn’t feel like it carries any importance.  Sting is supposedly trying to save the WWE from Triple H, but the way things played out at Survivor Series and since, it feels like WWE hit the payoff prematurely.  This match itself would ideally be better suited as the culmination of something with the future hanging in the balance.  As is, the outcome of this match won’t mean anything unless the storytelling coming out of Wrestlemania makes it mean something.  For example, if Sting wins and HHH comes out the next night on Raw and does the same things he’s been doing for the past year and a half, then what was the point of having this big far reaching storyline that was meant to see these two icons fighting over the future on screen direction of the company?  If HHH wins, Sting just comes back at a later date and tries again.  The only foreseeable way that this match makes any kind of difference is if Sting wins and somehow makes Triple H “see the error of his ways”, which would be corny and not really believable.  As much promotion has gone into this match, from where I’m sitting it feels like a throwaway match to set up for what comes next, and on any other Pay Per View of the year, that would be expected, but at Wrestlemania we’ve come to expect conclusive outcomes and culminations to storylines that have been building for months.  But instead, despite what has already transpired, it still feels like this is still just the early rounds with the final chapter to come down the road.

Our next match brings me to a concept that I’ve mentioned several times before and if you’ve visited the “I Love the WWE” facebook group that I manage, you might have seen me talk about it before.  Monster heels exist so that they can be fed to John Cena.  Traditionally, in the wrestling business, monster heels exist to put over the conquering hero in the biggest matches.  But for the past decade, the only tried and true “conquering hero” character that the WWE has produced has been John Cena.  As a result, virtually every monster heel that has come along in that time frame has been made to look unstoppable, only for Cena to stop them.  It happened with Umaga.  It happened with The Great Khali.  It happened with Big Show a dozen different times it seems like.  It happened with Batista.  It happened with Tensai.  It happened with Ryback. It even happened with the entire Nexus faction at once.  And last year, we saw it happen again with Bray Wyatt.  So, what makes Rusev any better than all of those guys?  Nothing.  Thusly, I will be very surprised if John Cena does not beat Rusev cleanly at Wrestlemania this year.  The question is, after it happens, does Rusev find a way to rebound or does he fade into the background like so many other monster heel gimmicks have done in the past?

And from there we move on to the return of the Undertaker.  I will admit that when the streak ended last year, I thought that signaled the end of the Undertaker’s career.  For the past 5 years now, he’s been wrestling a one match a year schedule and it’s been great, but eventually even that has to come to an end.  Not even the Undertaker can continue coming back for Wrestlemania every year forever.  And once the streak ended, it felt like he’d passed the torch for the final time and was riding off into the sunset.  And if he had done so, it would have been very fitting.  Undertaker has been very widely regarded as one of the most old school mentality driven guys in the business for the past two decades and the school of thought that goes along with that is that it’s always better to go out on your back, to be carried out on your shield so to speak, and in so doing give back to the business the same way the guys that came before did when they put you over on their way out.  So, to see him seemingly pass the torch and then come back for another ride is surprising.  Obviously, I don’t think either guy loses anything from taking the loss, but when you examine this match, what does either man have to gain from winning it?  If Bray Wyatt beats Undertaker and this time Undertaker really does ride off into the sunset for the final time, then it obviously boosts Bray Wyatt because while Brock Lesnar ended the streak, Bray Wyatt would have ended the Undertaker altogether.  However, if it’s just Bray Wyatt going over the Undertaker, how much does being the second guy to beat Undertaker at Wrestlemania even mean?  Especially at this stage of the Undertaker’s career.  If Undertaker wins, it essentially resurrects the character, but to what end?  With no more streak to defend, does going 22-1 really mean anything?  I don’t really feel like it does.  And I don’t think based on his old-school reputation Undertaker is the type of guy to come back for one last ride to walk over top of a very bright up and comer just so that he can go out with a win in his final match.  Taking all of that into consideration, it now feels like there is something more planned for Undertaker beyond this year.  We haven’t seen Undertaker win a match since Wrestlemania 29, so just maybe Undertaker gets one more win, shows us what he’s still got in the tank, and plants the seeds for whatever his end game is – Undertaker vs. Sting in 2016 maybe?

This is the 3rd Wrestlemania that Wade Barrett has carried the Intercontinental Championship into in the past five years.  At Wrestlemania 27, as the champion, he led the Corre in a losing effort against the thrown together team of Big Show, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Santino Marella.  At Wrestlemania 29, he defended the title against The Miz on the preshow, not even making it onto the Main Card and he didn’t even win the match.  He lost the title to Miz on the Wrestlemania preshow, only to win it back the next night on Raw, so if the purpose was to keep pushing Barrett as the Intercontinental Champion, why have him lose to The Miz on the preshow in the first place?  Now, he returns to Wrestlemania 31, defending the championship against six others in a Ladder Match.  And at first glance, it seems very likely that one of the trio of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler or Dean Ambrose would be the favorite to win this match and crown a new champion.  However, the more I think about it, the more convinced I am that this is the year that they finally stick with Barrett at Wrestlemania.  This guy has reportedly been one of the favorites of the powers that be over the past 5 years, as evidenced by him winning the Intercontinental Championship five different times now despite seemingly always being hurt.  At one point last year, I even read reports that it was a race to the WWE Championship between Barrett, Wyatt and Reigns.  And he remains pretty well over with the WWE Universe despite how WWE has let him fall by the wayside in Wrestlemanias past.  So, despite my initial reaction that one of the big three faces would very likely become the new champion in this match, I’m officially picking Bad News Barrett in this one.  Bryan, Ziggler and Ambrose are not going to lose any popularity no matter what happens in this match.  While the Intercontinental Championship would undoubtedly get a better rub if Daniel Bryan were defending it every week in classic technically sound matches, I feel like letting the ball drop on pushing Barrett on the heels of Wrestlemania yet again could be a very big mistake and signal that they’ve given up on him to a certain extent.

Then there is the Randy Orton – Seth Rollins match-up, which could very well end up being the best one-on-one match of the night in my opinion.  Rollins has had his dull moments at times this past year, just like anybody else, but when he’s shined, he’s shined brighter than pretty much anybody else on the roster.  And this is his first Wrestlemania match on his own, without having to share the spotlight with Ambrose and Reigns in a 6-Man Tag Match.  So, I really feel that he’s going to really leave his mark on this Wrestlemania in this match and try to tear down the house and I think Orton is a good opponent for him to do that with, although Ziggler or Bryan might have been better options just from a technical wrestling perspective.  However, while Rollins is probably going to have a lot of highlights in this match, I think Orton ends up getting the victory with a RKO “outta nowhere” because I think Rollins probably has his big Wrestlemania moment yet to come at the end of the night when he finally cashes in his Money in the Bank briefcase (see the second paragraph).

From there, we move on to the Divas tag team match.  I feel like people really want this match to be something that stands out and maybe puts the Divas division back on the map in a way that it hasn’t been since the days when Trish Stratus, Lita and Mickie James were trading the title among themselves.  However, I just don’t see this as the right way to go about that.  Nikki Bella is currently carrying around that division’s title, which means that she sets the bar for where that division stands and the momentum of that division starts and begins with her right now.  And I don’t feel like carrying that title is doing much of anything to convince people that Nikki Bella is any more worth paying attention to than she was before.  And close to 3/4 of the time she’s on TV, she’s either standing outside the ring while Brie has a one-on-one match or the both of the Bellas are on commentary while other divas wrestle.  The NXT Women’s division is becoming so well respected because when the champion shows up she wrestles and she wrestles a legitimate match that isn’t over in 2-3 minutes.  I think if it were up to certain people with authority in the WWE, they’d do away with women’s wrestling all together if they could get away with it without a fair practices lawsuit.  So, for the past several years, it’s just been this token set of girls taking up as small of chunks of air time as they can get away with and people have finally become fed up with it.  However, it seems like the #GiveDivasAChance twitter movement has become something for WWE to hold up and try to make themselves relevant while really doing nothing to give divas a chance at all.  Unfortunately, I expect more of the same from the divas as what we’ve seen in Wrestlemania divas tag matches past, even though AJ and Paige certainly bring more wrestling talent to the match than the likes of Maria Menunous, Kelly Kelly, Maria, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, and the Miller Lite Catfight Girls ever could.  I hope to be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

The Tag Team titles are almost certainly going to be relegated to the preshow again, which is fine.  Cesaro and Kidd make for a great opening act, even if they deserve a bigger stage than that.  Losing one-half of The Usos to injury hurts this match a lot, since they have undoubtedly been the bright spot of the division over the past year.  Los Matadores and New Day are lucky to even be on the preshow after how mediocre they’ve all performed over the past year.  I personally would like to see at least one of the teams to come out of NXT like The Ascension or Lucha Dragons get the opportunity to step in and take part in this match.  However, I think it’s pretty obvious that whoever ends up being in the match, the odds are heavily in the favor of Cesaro & Kidd keeping the belts because while they were thrown together as an afterthought, they are almost as awesome together as they were on their own.

And finally, I saved the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal for last.  There are a lot of different ways I see this playing out and I think a lot of it is going to depend on what is planned for the rest of the night and like last year with Cesaro, I’m half-expecting somebody to step into this match unannounced and win it.  This is made more likely, in my mind, due to the fact that last year the match had a lot more pre-announced star power than it does this year.  Let’s say that for some reason the plan is for Reigns to end the night as champion and for Rollins to not cash-in.  Lesnar is obviously leaving, so there is no Reigns vs. Lesnar II looming in the near future.  As such, this battle royal could be used to launch Reigns’ first challenger for the title, and if that were to be the case, my mind jumps away from the pre-announced field for the match to Rusev.  Let’s say that Rusev suffers his first loss against Cena and is so pissed off about it that he refuses to leave ringside, but the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is up next so the ring starts filling up and then Rusev jumps in and enters himself in the match and wins it.  Maybe that launches Rusev, no longer tied down by the United States Championship into being the first guy to challenge Reigns for the title.  That scenario obviously doesn’t work if Rollins cashes in because that makes Rollins vs. Reigns the obvious next step.  But that’s why I say I think a lot of what else is supposed to happen throughout the night is going to impact who is going to win this match.  I don’t even think anybody in the WWE has made up their mind yet on who is going to win.  The concept just worked so well and got so many faces on the main program that they brought it back as an annual event, not having planned out who they wanted to give the rub of winning it to yet.  I expect to see Cesaro and some of the losers of the Intercontinental Championship ladder match to pull double duty by also entering the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.  I’d love to see Cesaro win it twice and recapture his momentum from last spring.  Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose have neither one ever gotten a signature Wrestlemania singles victory, so perhaps after failing to win the Intercontinental Championship, one of them jumps into this match and steals the show there.  However it shakes out, as the field stands now the match would be a huge disappointment.  Something else has to happen, either this Monday on Raw or at Wrestlemania itself to add some excitement for this match because right now there is none that I’ve noticed.  At Wrestlemania XXX, I thought we saw one of the best Battle Royals in WWE history and it will undoubtedly be a tough act to follow, but we’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out because this is definitely the least predictable match of the night and I don’t expect to even know who all of the participants are until the bell rings to start the match.

That’s all I’ve got for you with this overview of the card.  I have high expectations for some of the matches that I think people have already written off or are stubbornly refusing to give a chance like Lesnar vs. Reigns, but no matter what happens, I can say this with complete confidence – it will definitely be better than Wrestlemania 27.  Thanks for reading.

Written by Arron Hustead

March 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Posted in AJ Lee, Bad News Barrett, Batista, Bella Twins, Big Show, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Corre, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Diva's Championship, Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental Championship, John Cena, Ladder Match, Los Matadores, Luke Harper, Money in the Bank, Nexus, Paige, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Seth Rollins, Stardust, Sting, The Great Khali, The Usos, Triple H, Tyson Kidd, Umaga, Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania 31, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship

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Five Things to Take Away from Extreme Rules 2013

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Folks, I was actually there for the show, so I have a slightly different perspective than the viewers at home, so keep that in mind.  I’m sure all of you who bought the Pay Per View or managed to watch it through other, more dubious means had a better view of most of the action, but sitting up in the stands, I might have caught some things that the cameras missed, for example, the first takeaway I got from the night.

1) Mark Henry sells harder and better than the Big Show, or at least he did last night.  What really sold me on this was the two similar spots they did where they got pulled or pushed into the ring post.  With Henry facing off against Sheamus in the Strap Match, at one point they took the fight out of the ring, but exited out different sides, leaving a ring post in between them.  Sheamus then used the strap to pull Henry into the ring post and when Henry through himself into the spot and made contact, the ring post moved violently and I almost thought they could break it off the side of the ring if they did that spot just one more time.  But they went back in the ring and completed the match.  Then, three matches later, Big Show takes on Randy Orton in an Extreme Rules Match and they too take the fight out to the floor and Big Show swats a ladder away from Orton and hoists Orton up like he’s going to use him for a battering ram and slam him into that same ring post that Henry collided with.  However, Orton counters and gets down behind Big Show and shoves him into that ring post and low and behold, nothing happens.  The ring post didn’t shake at all, which after what Henry did during his spot led me to believe that Big Show took it easy on himself while Henry went full bore.

2) Brock Lesnar vs. Triple H should not have been the closing match of the night.  I understand why they thought it had to close the show, since it was supposedly going to be the third and deciding match of their rivalry and thus should prove to be the best match between them, but it wasn’t.  On top of that, after the St. Louis crowd violently cheered on the hometown hero Randy Orton against Big Show and then going through the self-imposed obligation of showing all the kids in attendance who the boss is during the “Let’s Go Cena – CENA SUCKS,” chants, the crowd was pretty well out of it.  Coupled with the fact that the match didn’t end cleanly immediately after the only WWE / World Title match of the night didn’t have a winner and everybody leaves feeling slighted.  I don’t even think people cared who won, it just would have been nice to see a clear winner and a clear loser.  By the way, as my brother pointed out about the finish of that match was Paul Heyman was doing a sell job and then he pops up to low blow HHH and then goes right back to doing his cell job and acts like he’s unconscious up until Lesnar exits the cage and then reaches in and drags Heyman out by the leg.  What exactly was the point in that?  That was horrible planning on Heyman’s part.  Once you pop up and hit the low blow and don’t get touched again, how do you go back to being knocked out?  I thought Paul Heyman was smarter than that.

3) The Shield might not actually be a cohesive unit for much longer.  We’ve seen it before with pretty much every heel group that’s been cut from the same cloth as The Shield.  The Nexus, the Corre, Evolution, the nWo – once the members start winning titles, jealousy starts to set in and it becomes a pissing match over who is better.  That’s pretty much the way all of these things end and the beginning of the end usually comes once one or all of the members start winning titles.  As we saw with Evolution and the nWo, that can lead to a series of decent rivalries and play out for a long time, or as we saw with the Corre, it can completely break up the group in pretty much no time flat.

4) Dean Ambrose and Kofi Kingston put on a pretty sloppy match while Chris Jericho vs. Fandango seemed pretty sound.  During the United States Title Match, it seemed to me that Ambrose was having quite a bit of trouble keeping pace with Kofi, which led to Ambrose looking pretty stupid by having to hurry at the last second to get into place to take some of Kofi’s moves.  And there was also the botch where Kofi tried to jump over Ambrose, but Ambrose didn’t get out of the way quick enough and Kofi kicked him in the head accidentally, which they no sold and moved on.  Conversely, Jericho vs. Fandango didn’t seem to have any slip ups at all, but then again Jericho is amazing and Fandango doesn’t do any moves that can really be screwed up except for usually landing wrong on his opponents heads.  His move set strikes me as overly basic, which sometimes when you’re still just getting the hang of the business, it’s better to K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid).  So there really wasn’t any opportunity I saw for him to really screw up the match other than if he had taken Jericho’s flying crossbody at the start of the match wrong and dropped him on the floor kind of like The Miz did to R-Truth last year that got him in hot water.  So, Fandango can at least take other people’s high spots without screwing up, which is more than can be said for The Miz or Sim Snuka / Deuce.  However, I’d rather watch a match like what Ambrose and Kingston put on that is slightly sloppy because at least they were taking some risks to try to put together a better match even if they couldn’t get the timing right.

5) HHH’s Sharpshooter is almost as bad as The Rock’s.  Anybody that is a part of the fan group I comment in on facebook knows that I’m pretty hard on The Rock for his extremely bad version of the Sharpshooter.  Well, Triple H brought it out for the cage match against Brock Lesnar last night and it ended up being every bit as bad as the version utilized by The Rock.  However, it didn’t start out that way.  It looked like HHH actually did a semi-decent job of applying the move at the start and had a decent version locked in, but Lesnar fought to stretch himself out to lessen the pressure because he apparently couldn’t take it, but that wasn’t supposed to be the finish of the match, so the move just ended up looking really bad by the time Lesnar drug himself almost all the way down to the mat instead of letting HHH hold him up and selling the hold.  So, I put most of the blame for HHH’s version on Lesnar not cooperating, unlike when Rock just plain puts the hold on wrong from the start.  Chris Benoit is the only one who has come close to doing the move correctly since Owen and Bret Hart’s time, and Bret gives him credit for it, but always points out that it isn’t right any time I read anything where he’s asked about it.  In this day and age though, nobody cares about doing the submissions correctly and making it look good (with the exception of Daniel Bryan’s Crossface No Lock and Punk’s occasional Anaconda Vise).  Pretty much the only time Jericho gets to put in a decent looking Walls of Jericho any more is when he’s wrestling the human gumby known as Kofi Kingston.  Maybe it’s just that wrestlers are softer now than they were ten years ago or maybe they just don’t care about the technical wrestling side of things as much, but something has to be done to reverse the trend of horribly applied submission locks.

Raw Response – 04/23/12

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Start off the night with a surprise appearance by Edge and a great promo from the new Hall of Famer about how Cena getting punked by Brock Lesnar every week is a slap to the face off all of the greats who got into the business and stayed in the business because they love it – guys like Edge, Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker.  Edge’s statement that he’s not asking Cena to beat Lesnar, but he’s telling him to makes me believe that Lesnar will beat Cena on Sunday at Extreme Rules and as a result Cena is going to have to face the wrath of Edge in the near future and something big is going to change this summer for Cena.

Edge telling Cena repeatedly that he needs to “Wake up” echoes the sentiments the fans have been throwing at Cena for the past five years that something needs to change in his character and his attitude.  The general consensus among the adult male fans is that John Cena’s character is stale, that they are tired of seeing him be the same every week, but now that greats like Roddy Piper, Mick Foley and Edge have come out on the air and called him out on his attitude in regards to how the fans feel about him and Kane fought Cena leading up to Wrestlemania over Cena’s inability to “Embrace the hate” make it more plausible to me that we might actually see Cena’s character undergo some changes.  Cena could be about to suffer an Attitude Adjustment of his own.  It is still entirely possible that the only change Cena will undergo is that he will shake off the hangover of losing to Rock at Wrestlemania and Hulk Up to destroy Lesnar at Extreme Rules, like he has done against every other heel that’s come along and dominated him on Raw for weeks only to have Cena “overcome the odds” yet again and if so, I think many would join me in the opinion that for Cena to overcome Brock Lesnar in the same way he has every other opposing heel opponent from The Great Khali in 2007 to Kane earlier this year would be a complete and utter waste of the storyline that they have spun around Cena for the past 4 months.  The time is ripe for a change.  The fans have been thirsting for it.  And a significant change in Cena’s character could launch the WWE into a new direction and lead the WWE out of the doldrums that some would say it has been in for the past few years.

The opening contest of the night held no real surprises as Chris Jericho fought Kofi Kingston, the only man Jericho has beaten one-on-one on television since his return.  So, of courseJerichowas going to beat him again.  However, the two still put on a great match with a solid finish.  Then, after the matchJerichopoints to his beatingKingstonas proof that he will win the WWE Championship at Extreme Rules.  Never mind that he beatKingstona couple of times before Wrestlemania and still ended up tapping out to the Anaconda Vice.  Never mind that this match withKingstonis the only televised matchJerichohas had since Wrestlemania.  In another segment, CM Punk received a liquor basket fromJericho, that he regifted to Josh Matthews.  However, Punk kept one bottle of Jack Daniels, which he promised to hand deliver back toJerichoat Extreme Rules this Sunday in his home town ofChicagoduring their Chicago Street Fight.  Later in the night, Jericho and Alex Riley would spy on CM Punk, who was apparently drinking the Jack Daniels himself, but it felt like there was definitely a possibility that it was a ruse when Jericho went to John Laurinaitis and had the General Manager force CM Punk to undergo a field sobriety test at the risk of being stripped of the title should he fail.  Punk did a masterful job of playacting, but as he was on the verge of surrendering the title toJericho, Punk dropped the ruse and pummelsJerichoand chased him off to the back.  As always, anything can happen in the WWE, but CM Punk still has the edge in my mind and while evidence would suggest thatJerichohas to turn the tables in their rivalry at some point, I’m still predicting that Punk once again retains his title and defeatsJerichoat Extreme Rules.

Lord Tensai would go on in the second match against R-Truth and everybody expected a squash match and that’s exactly what we got.  After Tensai was barely touched in his first few matches and then went on to beat John Cena in an Extreme Rules match last week inEngland, what chance did R-Truth have?  Tensai continues to look dominant, but this time he actually pins his opponent instead of the referee having to stop the match.  I love the use of the green mist, something we haven’t seen in the WWE since Tajiri left the company several years ago and it’s unique to see the mist used in a package with the Claw.  The Claw in and of itself has been retooled by Tensai to include a Slam, which is something I’d never seen done before.  Tensai is bringing a lot of unique combinations into his new character and is much more imposing and intimidating than he ever was as Albert or A-Train.  He also brings about a sense of mystery for an imposing heel character which is something WWE is going to need in the next few years with characters like Kane and the Undertaker inching closer to retirement.

And speaking of Kane, the Big Red Machine is as good now as he ever was.  His masked character has seemed to me like it had a cult following among the fans ever since he was forced to unmask almost ten years ago.  Once again donning the mask has helped breathe new life into a character that had lost a lot of the qualities that made him so imposing during his early feuds with the Undertaker and Stone Cold and his intense and destructive rivalry with Shane McMahon shortly after he lost his mask.  And Kane made it clear tonight that he has distanced himself from things he once cared about by refusing to rescue his “father” Paul Bearer from Randy Orton.  It appears that nothing will stand in the way of Kane’s path of destruction this time around.  However, I believe Orton is going to find some way to overcome the Big Red Machine in their Falls Count Anywhere match at Extreme Rules on Sunday.

I don’t see Big Show holding the Intercontinental title for long.  This is the second straight week that Big Show has teammed with The Great Khali and I can see them becoming a regular tag team like that Big Show has formed with Kane in the past.  It wouldn’t be a lasting union by any means, but Big Show has teammed with other big men in the past to form dominant tag teams in periods when the division has been in a lull, which it is definitely still in.  I see Cody Rhodes winning the Intercontinental Title back from Big Show either at Extreme Rules or in the near future and Big Show moving into regular tag team action along with Khali.  Doing so would allow both big men to compete and remain dominant every week without having to spend too much time moving around in the ring because they would be splitting ring time.  In the meantime, Big Show continues to dominate Cody asDel Rioruns out on Cody during their tag team match against the two giants tonight andRhodesfalls victim to Big Show’s Chokeslam.

A NEW Diva’s Champion was crowned tonight in Nikki Bella, giving both of the Bella Twins one title reign apiece.  They made a point of Beth approaching the record for the longest reign in the short history of the title, which tipped me off that she was probably going to drop the title either tonight or at the Pay Per View on Sunday.  With the title back on one of the Bellas, it opens the door for Kharma to make her return to the Diva’s division and get even with the Bellas for their remarks when she left last summer for her pregnancy, which she tragically miscarried.  It appears that Beth may not see in-ring action in the near future, so we could see Kelly Kelly beat another Bella and get another run with the Diva’s title or somebody like Natalya or Alicia Fox could step back into whatever dim spotlight the Diva’s division has to offer in the current era.

From Smackdown, Sheamus faced off against Mark Henry and we were surprised when Daniel Bryan was announced as the Special Guest Referee.  Bryan attempted multiple times to get Sheamus to attack him, which would have resulted in Sheamus being fired as a result of John Laurinaitis’ declaration that Sheamus was on permanent probation after he purposefully kicked referee Chad Patton a few weeks ago on Smackdown, but Sheamus held his temper in check tonight, but a distraction from Bryan allowed Henry to steamroll Sheamus and pin him and Bryan delivered a quick count. Bryanthen taunted Sheamus and threw his referee shirt at him and once that shirt was off,Bryanwas no longer serving as a referee and Sheamus charged him like an enraged bull, beat him down and threw him back in the ring where Henry was waiting.  Sheamus then kicked his way through Henry, butBryanwas then able to put Sheamus in the Yes Lock, getting in his licks before Extreme Rules, but we don’t yet know if Bryan or Sheamus will get the final edge going into Extreme Rules until after Smackdown this Friday night.  Either way it goes, I’m predicting that Sheamus retains the title at Extreme Rules.  It had been a long time since an individual won the Royal Rumble then went on to Wrestlemania and won the title before Sheamus pulled it off and I see him having a long term reign as champion before finally losing the title, perhaps to the winner of the Smackdown Money in the Bank ladder match sometime in the fall.

Zack Ryder and Santino Marella teammed up to take on the Tag Team Champions, Primo and Epico, and the champions continued to show how weak the division is by losing to another random pairing of singles wrestlers for the second week in a row with Primo falling victim to the Cobra and going down for the three count.  It was forgivable for them to lose to two giants like Big Show and The Great Khali, but if they are going to show any promise as tag team champions, they need to win matches like this against random pairings of mid-card singles talent.  The Usos and Primo and Epico are the only seemingly legitimate tag teams right now in the company and doing jobs to Santino & Ryder isn’t going to help bring any credibility back to the division or to the titles.

In the final match of the night, Brodus Clay and Hornswoggle took on Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and the match itself was specifically sponsored by Taco Bell and Doritos’ loco tacos.  Apparently each individual match is open for advertising sponsorships now.  It’s good for Brodus to be in the ring with individuals like Swagger and Ziggler, but their match once again ended without a legitimate finish as Vickie Guerrero got into the ring and slapped Brodus in the face, causing a disqualification.  Vickie then got surrounded by Brodus, Hornswoggle and their back-up dancers and tried to joke her way out of it, only to be bitten on the backside by Hornswoggle, providing some laughless comedy.  It feels like a shameless waste of talent for Ziggler to only be on screen for a few minutes and to not even have a legitimate match when he has become such a great performer over the past two years.

And we closed the night with the official contract signing between Brock Lesnar and John Cena for what is obviously the Main Event of Extreme Rules.  After Edge’s confrontation of Cena at the beginning of the night and Lesnar flipping out on Josh Matthews earlier in the night, it was unclear of what would happen in the contract signing, but the intensity was definitely palpable for the last time these two would come face to face before Extreme Rules.  So when Cena’s music hit and Cena didn’t show up, I was looking for him to come through the crowd and attack Brock, but that didn’t happen.  Brock and Laurenaitis start looking around in confusion and then Brock grabs the mic and starts taunting Cena, and I start think Cena’s going to show up with a new look, maybe a new gimmick or something.  Brock then starts talking about making some changes to the match and about how unhappy he is about the way things have been going and suggests Laurenaitis make some business changes before he will sign the contract for the match at Extreme Rules.  Brock then starts talking about how he’s an “enterprise” and no longer a “naive little farm boy” and how the company needs him, but he doesn’t need them.  Brock then tells Laurenaitis that all decisions regarding him and the WWE have to be run by him first and he demands the use of Vince McMahon’s private jet to chauffer him to and from Monday Night Raw every week and I’m wondering where all of this is going and why Cena isn’t out there yet and Brock just keeps talking down about the company and Laurenaitis and how he’s going to do what he wants and how he doesn’t care what any of the people think or say about him.  Laurenaitis agreed to Brock’s terms and Brock signs the contract and now Cena finally shows up, but there is no smile on his face, no words for the camera, no salute.  Cena just goes into the ring without saying a word and he’s got a steel chain in his hand, like the one he used to carry around when he was calling himself the Doctor of Thuganomics, giving us another indication that changes may be in the works for Cena.  Cena stands around and doesn’t sign the contract, so Brock pics up the mic and taunts him some more and tells Cena that he’s scared of Brock.  Cena then signs the contract and throws it at Brock, but the punches don’t start flying.  Brock then tips the table over, but still no punches are thrown.  Brock then leaves without any physical confrontation, which was unexpected.  The intensity was definitely there, but I think the contract segment wore on for too long and didn’t really add anything of value to their match at Extreme Rules.  I guess what we’re supposed to take away from tonight is a feeling that Cena might actually be scared of Brock, but I’m not buying it.  An otherwise very good episode of Raw ended with a big of a letdown in my opinion.

Written by I Am a Real American

April 23, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Posted in 2-out-of-3 Falls, A-Train, Albert, Alberto Del Rio, Alex Riley, Bella Twins, Beth Phoenix, Big Show, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Brodus Clay, Cena needs to wake up, Chicago Street Fight, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Contract Signing, Daniel Bryan, Diva's Championship, Doctor of Thuganomics, Dolph Ziggler, Edge, Extreme Rules, Falls Count Anywhere, Green Mist, Guest Referee, Hall of Fame, Hornswoggle, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, John Laurenaitis, Kane, Kane vs. Orton, Kelly Kelly, Kharma, Kofi Kingston, Lesnar vs. Cena, Lord Tensai, Mark Henry, Mick Foley, Monday Night Raw, Nikki Bella, Primo & Epico, Pro Wrestling, Punk vs. Jericho, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Raw Response, Roddy Piper, Santino Marella, Shane McMahon, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan, Special Referee, Tag Team, Tajiri, The Claw, The Great Khali, Undertaker, Vince McMahon, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Yes Lock, Zack Ryder

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