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 ‘NXT Championship

Live Reactions, Elimination Chamber 2015 – John Cena vs. Kevin Owens

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John Cena vs. Kevin Owens is coming up next, kickstarting the second hour of the show.

The two guys stare each other down and take turns hoisting up their respective titles.  Cliche, but people are into it.  They lock up as the match starts.  Headlock from Owens on Cena.  Cena audibly calls for the move and says “I’ll give you one.”  He then shoves Owens off into the ropes and Leapfrogs him and does the low bridge and Owens jumps over him and Cena pops back up and flattens Owens with a Shoulder Block, but Owens is right back up.  They square off again and Owens beats Cena down in the corner.  Cena counters a whip into the corner and follows up with a Running Bulldog.  Owens hits a Big Boot and roughs up Cena over in the ropes and out on the ring apron.  Owens kicks Cena and whips him into the corner and Cena drops in a heap, doing his best to put Owens over and sell his moves.  Owens knocks Cena down again with a jab and kicks him some more.  Owens with the cover, easy kick out.  Owens with a Reverse Chinlock, but Cena fights back up of course.  Oh, but he’s gonna sell it some more and drops back down to one knee and then to his ass while they rest some more.  Cena fights back up again and forces the elbow up off his throat and separates his hands.  Cena goes for the AA, but Owens counters and connects with a DDT.  Owens covers Cena for a near fall.  Owens gets in a few more punches and now calls for Cena to get up and knocks him back down with a Big Boot.  Owens plays to the crowd.  Then he knocks Cena down with another big right hand.  Cena with a Schoolboy for a near fall, but Owens knocks him back on his ass with a Clothesline.  Owens pummels Cena and then bounces off the ropes with a Back Splash and gets another near fall.  Owens is dominating the offense in the match to this point.  That doesn’t happen very much with Cena against a guy that isn’t like the Big Show or Great Khali.  Cena now battles back with Shoulder Tackles and goes for a Flying Crossbody, but Owens catches him into a Spinning Crucifix Slam.  Owens with the Rollout Cannonball move in the corner and covers Cena for another near fall.  Owens tells Cena it’s time to give up and punches him in the mouth, but Cena fires back an they trade punches back and forth.  Owens goes for the Pop-up Powerbomb, but it’s blocked and Cena connects with the Flying Shoulder Block, then the Spinning German Suplex and the Five Knuckle Shuffle.  Cena goes for the AA, but Owens counters and shoves Cena into the ropes and hits the Pop-up Powerbomb and covers him, but Cena again kicks out for a near fall.  Owens goes to the top rope, but Cena crotches him.  They fight on the middle rope and Owens Headbutts Cena and knocks him down.  Owens goes fora  Moonsault, but Cena moves out of the way and Owens crashes.  Cena hits the AA, but Owens kicks out for a near fall.  I thought that was the end of this one, but it continues.  Great match so far.  Outstanding work.  Both guys are catching their breath.  Owens deserves a breather after that breathtaking Moonsault attempt.  He showcased phenomenal agility on that one.  Nobody else his size could do that.  Owens hits a Superkick, but doesn’t go for the cover.  Owens mocks Cena and goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Cena grabs him by the leg and trips him up and locks in the STF.  Owens drags himself to the ropes, but Cena drags him back to the middle.  Owens blocks Cena trying to put the STF back on.  Back up to his feet and Owens hits Cena with the AA and covers him for a near fall.  Owens is having easily the best match of his WWE career so far.  Cena counters Owens charging him in the corner and hits a Tornado DDT, diving off the middle rope.  Cena heads up top and hits the Guillotine Leg Drop to the back of the neck with Owens bent over and covers him, but Owens kicks out for a near fall.    Cena drags Owens back up and goes for the AA, but Owens blocks it. Owens with a Package PIledriver set up, but remembers Piledrivers are banned in WWE and changes course with it into a Side Slam variation.  Owens covers Cena for a near fall.  Owens says it’s over and clobbers Cena with another big right hand and yells at him to stay down.  Cena on one knee, pops up with a rapid right hand.  Trading big right hands.  Owens with a Knee to the gut, whips Cena into the ropes.  Cena ducks a Clothesline and springboards off the ropes into the Springboard Stunner and covers him for a near fall.  Cena puts Owens up on the top turnbuckle and climbs up after him.  Cena sets up for a Superplex, but Owens counters into another phenomenal unique Suplex counter, Angle Slam style with a spin.  Cover for a near fall.  Owens heads up to the top rope and hits a Senton Bomb and covers for another very close near fall.  Off the breather, Cena flattens Owens with a huge Clothesline and takes a rest.  Cena stumbles around and hugs the ropes before charging back at Owens again and Owens catches him with the Pop-up Powerbomb and covers him for the three count.

Phenomenal Match and Kevin Owens is getting pushed to the stratosphere with a debut win over John Cena and he beat him clean in maybe the match of the year!  Outstanding work.  This is shaping up like the best Pay Per View of the year potentially.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not – 05/26/15 Edition

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This is a pretty self-explanatory post and will possibly become a regular feature here at the Real American Wrestleblog.  Let’s dive right in and see how it goes.

Who’s Hot

#1 – Kevin Owens – Owens won the NXT Championship just two months after his arrival at NXT R-Evolution.  Despite his two championship matches with Sami Zayn (at NXT Rival and NXT Unstoppable) being aborted by referee interference, Owens has not lost any steam.  In the first match with Zayn, the result was what amounted to a TKO, which wasn’t ideal, but it was palatable because it set up for what we thought would be an epic rematch.  However, the second match was unable to finish due to multiple referees, the NXT commissioner and finally the debuting Samoa Joe getting in between Owens and Zayn and not allowing Owens to finish Zayn off.  Despite all of that, Kevin Owens is as over with the crowd as ever, just like every WWE signing to come out of ROH has been.  And now, this Sunday, Owens gets to make his WWE main roster PPV debut with a one-on-one match against John Cena.  When was the last time somebody making their PPV debut was given a match with John Cena?  My best guess would be maybe Carlito’s lackey Jesus back during their United States Championship rivalry back in 2004.  It says a lot about WWE’s opinion of Owens, especially since he’s not the most in-shape of athletes, to put him in the ring with the face of the company on his first major WWE event.

#2 – Dean Ambrose – In what week would this list be complete without Dean Ambrose?  But he has to be here this week, especially since he’s getting a one-on-one opportunity for the WWE Championship this Sunday at the Elimination Chamber.  Ambrose’s antics usually make him the highlight of the night every single week on both Raw and Smackdown.  It’s not just the Lunatic Fringe crazy antics, but it’s the over the top theatrics and top notch ring psychology that have made him an unwavering fan favorite since The Shield turned face approximately 15 months ago.  Win or lose, no matter what the outcome of any given match, Ambrose seems to come out of it better than he went in.

#3 – John Cena – Cena’s United States Championship Open Challenge, since it began, has provided the best match of the night on every episode of Monday Night Raw where the match wasn’t interrupted by interference.  Cena has really stepped up his game in the ring, adding that new Springboard Stunner maneuver to his arsenal.  Plus, defending the title every week against an unknown challenger adds a lot of drama and entertainment value to the show, even if we know that no matter who it is that answers the challenge, Cena is still leaving with the belt.  At this moment in time, Cena might just be the best entertainer that he’s ever been.

Who’s Not

#1 – Stardust – Other than using the bag of spiders to steal a win over R-Truth on Raw a few weeks ago, when was the last time that Stardust won a match?  He lost to Truth on the Payback preshow.  He lost to Neville last night.  He lost to his big brother back at Fastlane.  He lost in the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match at Wrestlemania.  And he lost back in either the second or third United States Championship open challenge that Cena offered.  Any other wins that he’s picked up in 2015 have not been very memorable.  As much as I enjoyed the Goldust / Stardust tag team for a while, it’s gotta be about time for Cody to take off the facepaint and get back to what worked for him before.

#2 – The Bella Twins – Nikki and Brie got steam-rolled by Naomi and Tamina at Payback.  When Nikki came out to rescue Paige on Raw last week, she tripped on the apron leaving the ring and fell flat on her face trying to chase Naomi and Tamina up the rampway.  And heel or face, the Bellas just aren’t getting much of a reaction from the crowd, it seems to me.  It’s well past time to give some different divas a chance.  I predict we see a new Divas Champion this Sunday at Elimination Chamber.

#3 – Adam Rose – Instead of wrestling every week, Rose appears relegated to making out with Rosa Mendes backstage.  And when it happens, Kane is usually walking by or forced to otherwise bear witness to this unsavory sight.  It definitely feels like another run-in with the Big Red Machine is looming in Rose’s future and it won’t have a happy ending.  Next time time, since the Rosebuds have been dismissed,there won’t be The Bunny or any other of the other residents of the Exotic Express to shield Rose from Kane’s destruction.

Real American Live Reactions – NXT Takeover: Unstoppable NXT Championship Match – Huge NXT Debut

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Now it’s time for the Main Event – Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn part two.  Kevin Owens promises that he will injury Sami Zayn again and this time there will be no coming back for Zayn.  Sami comes out and they got the InZayn backward on the video board on the walkway.  Upside down.  Made it look like Nyazni.  here comes Kevin Owens wearing a John Cena US Title Champ is Here t-shirt.  After what happened on Monday and the announcement that Kevin Owens will go one-on-one with John Cena at Elimination Chamber in a week and a half, I’m half expecting Cena to make a run-in on this match.

The match starts out on the floor, with Sami taking the upper hand.  Back in the ring, Owens gets in a shot as Sami comes through the ropes and gets in a few more shots in the corner.  Sami whips Owens into the ropes, but Owens catches the ropes and blocks it so Zayn Clotheslines him out to the floor.  Owens kicks him in the gut and goes for a Powerbomb into the side of the ring, but Sami counters into a Back Body Drop.  Sami tackles Owens back against the steps and stands on him while pummeling him with a flurry of punches.  Sami  tosses Owens around outside the ring and slams him head first into the steps and whips him into the barricade.  Owens stays down.  Sami drags him back up by the hair and Owens punches him in the gut.  Owens retreats into the ring, but Zayn dives on his legs and drags him back out and throws him over the barricade into the crowd.  Sami over the barricade after him and gets in a few more big right hands.  Owens tries for a Powerbomb into the side of the bleachers and gets Sami up, but Sami catches the railing to stop himself and punches Owens until he’s able to get away.  Sami takes Owens back to the ring and hits the Blue Thunderbomb, but Owens kicks out for a near fall.  They fight each other off some more and Sami hits a Half and Half Suplex (Half Nelson on one side, Underhook on the other side) for another near fall.  Zayn goes for a Tornado DDT, but Owens drops to his knees and counters into a Gutbuster over his shoulder.  Zayn fires back and hits an Exploder Suplex into the corner and goes for the Helluva Kick in the corner, but Owens drops out to the floor.  Zayn out after him with a Suplex on the floor.  Sami charges and dives at Owens, but Owens catches him with a Pop Up Powerbomb into the side of the ring.  Sami is down and out, selling the move hard as he should and Owens slinks back into the ring while two officials check on Sami.  Owens catches his breath and then goes out to the floor and mounts Zayn and pummels him with some punches.  The referees pull him off, but he goes right back and does it again.  They pull him off again.  The trainer starts to pull Sami up, but Owens charges over and kicks Sami in the face three or four times.  This goes on for quite some time until they prop Sami up against the steps and Owens finally pulls him back up and puts him in the ring.  The referees are begging Owens to stop and here comes William Regal.  Just let them finish the match already.  This referee stoppage garbage and referee interference in the progression of a match has got to stop.  Regal fishooks Owens, but Owens turns around and Headbutts him, knocking him out of the ring.  Owens goes out and gets a chair and decks Zayn over the arm with it.

And holy crap, Samoa Joe’s music hits.  here comes Samoa Joe!  The match is apparently over, but now it’s Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe nose to nose and this is gonna be EPIC!  Major mark out moment for everybody.  These two guys are gonna be phenomenal in the ring together in the future.  Owens back down and leaves the ring.  Joe stares a hole through him.  Joe poses for the crowd and it looks like the show is over.  Great match comes to another crappy finish, but Samoa Joe makes his NXT debut and Samoa Joe vs. Kevin Owens looms in the future.  Oh crap, here comes Owens back right now, but he’s surely not gonna get in the ring after already backing down once.  And he’s not.  Such a tease.

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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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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