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 ‘Ryback

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.

Payback Live Reactions – King Barrett vs. Neville

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King Bad News takes on Neville in a rematch of the King of the Ring Finals.  They put on a good showing early, but this match was nowhere near as good as the matches they put on at Extreme Rules and in the King of the Ring Tournament.  Barrett doesn’t like the way the match is going, so when he gets knocked out of the ring he lets himself get counted out.  So, Neville wins and now Barrett wants to continue the fight as he ambushes Neville.  Barrett then retrieves his royal accouterments and takes his time putting on his crown and cape, only to have Neville come up behind him and German Suplex him onto his crown, snapping the top off of Barrett’s scepter in the process.  Neville then hits the Red Arrow to at least give the fans some resolution to the match after the crappy countout finish.  Apparently, WWE thinks the fans in Baltimore paid to see a couple of 3-minute tag matches, a countout and an “I Quit” Match rigged with bad stunts and nobody actually losing by the rules of the match.  Other than Sheamus vs. Ziggler and R-Truth vs. Stardust, there hasn’t been a clean and decisive finish to a match that lasted more than a couple of minutes.  To recap match by match so far.

R-Truth beat Stardust cleanly

The Ascension beat The Faux Mega Powers in under 3 minutes

Sheamus beat Dolph Ziggler cleanly

New Day stole the 3rd Fall in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match when the illegal 3rd man (not even the illegal 2nd man) made the winning pinfall

Bray Wyatt beat Ryback after an exposed turnbuckle finish

John Cena beat Rusev in an “I Quit” Match in which Rusev didn’t really quit

Naomi & Tamina beat the Bella Twins

Neville beat King Barrett by countout

The Fatal 4-Way is coming up next.  Should be an exciting finish to a typically underperformed show with poorly booked finishes.

Payback Live Reactions – Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler, Tag Team Championship and Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt

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Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler is the first match of the Main card and I was not expecting much out of this match.  These two wrestled several times for the World Heavyweight Championship during Sheamus’ reign back in 2012, but I wasn’t impressed by their work together.  Their match at Extreme Rules certainly wasn’t impressive.  However, tonight was in my opinion the best match the two of them have worked together.  Both guys put in a max effort whereas it seemed to me like they kind of coasted at Extreme Rules.  I didn’t catch the moves that caused the wounds, but Dolph was busted open and Sheamus had a big welt forming on his right shoulder / chest area.  I feel like Ziggler put on his best performance since losing the Intercontinental Championship back in January tonight, even in defeat as Sheamus wins with a Brogue Kick.

Backstage, Kane and Seth Rollins have a standoff where they rehash what they’ve had to say on Raw and Smackdown every week since Extreme Rules and the bottom line is of course that Kane isn’t sure what he’s going to do tonight.  The storyline has itself been great, but this segment was just a rehash that WWE apparently felt they needed for the people that don’t watch Raw and Smackdown.  If Rollins does not win, Kane loses his job.

Next up is the 2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the Tag Team Championship and this match had a lot of great spots in it.  Tyson Kidd and Kofi were all over the place in this one and it was a rare quality match on Big E’s part.  Kidd and Cesaro win the first fall and Woods starts calling for the Freebird Rule and wants to replace Kofi for the second fall, but is blocked by Natalya and Kidd takes him out with a dive to the floor.  Kidd ends up hurt somehow, and a blind tag finish leads to the Big Ending as a double team and New Day takes the second fall.  Cesaro throws a ton of upper cuts.  The match ends with Xavier Woods sneaking in twin magic style to replace Kingston and covering Kidd for the win and New Day retains in a steal.  I was expecting New Day to retain in some way because I’m pretty sure that WWE wants the title to change hands in two weeks when the titles are on the line in the Elimination Chamber for the first time in history.  So, putting the titles back on Cesaro and Kidd only to take them away again in two weeks didn’t seem very productive to me when you could have New Day steal another win and get the comeuppance at the Elimination Chamber.  New Day is not leaving the Elimination Chamber as the tag team champions though.

Bray Wyatt takes on Ryback next and I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t paying much attention to this one as it was taking place in the final moments of the People’s Champion challenge on WWE Supercard.  I intend to go back and rewatch this match after the end of the show.  In the meantime, Bray beats Ryback after Ryback hits an exposed turnbuckle and Wyatt finishes him off with Sister Abigail.

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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Real American Wrestleblog Live Reactions – Extreme Rules 2015 – Extra Segments

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Randy Orton catches Kane backstage and says The Authority is just using him and that he knows who the real Kane is.  Typical blah blah moment.  I’m still looking forward to the match though.

Bo Dallas comes out.  Could have survived just fine without seeing his lame ass tonight.  He calls the audience stinky and says they need a shower.  Then he gets mad that they aren’t letting him talk without yelling over him and tells them to shut up and Bolieve.  Ryback interrupts.  Bo fights him off and plays to the crowd.  Ryback hits a Spinebuster and then the Meat Hook Clothesline.  Now the Shellshock.  Time for Bo to Bo-LEAVE.

Another commercial for all the new shows on the WWE Network this week.  I am kind of excited for the King of the Ring tournament coming back.  Presumably, there will be some King of the Ring matches on Raw tomorrow with the finals on the show they’re putting on Tuesday on the Network.

Written by Arron Hustead

April 27, 2015 at 2:23 am

Real American Wrestleblog Live Reactions – Extreme Rules 2015 Kickoff Show

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I’m trying out something new tonight, blogging live reactions during tonight’s Extreme Rules.  Starting off with the preshow and unfortunately, we learned earlier today that Daniel Bryan has officially been pulled for the show tonight.  As a result, instead of Bryan defending the Intercontinental Championship against Bad News Barrett, Barrett will face Neville and more bad news for BNB, not only does he lose out on having a PPV Championship match tonight, but he gets bumped from the main card as well as that BNB vs. Neville match is on the preshow while the Tag Team Championship match is moved up to the main card.

I am definitely looking forward to the Seth Rollins / Randy Orton Main Event tonight.  There isn’t a lot of doubt that Rollins ends the night still the WWE Champion, but I look forward to seeing Orton pull some new moves out of his bag of tricks with the RKO banned, similar to what happened when Orton wrestled Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series 2007 with Sweet Chin Music banned.  It created a great match with the challenger pulling out all the stops, trying to win with the Sharpshooter, with the Figure Four Leglock, with the Crippler Crossface, with anything he could think of to do.  As with any Steel Cage match promoted as being able to prevent outside interference, it will almost inevitably end with Rollins winning due to – you guessed it – outside interference.  Factor in Kane, who has been at his most awesome in a long time in recent weeks, as the guardian of the cage door and that’s another x factor that should provide some quality entertainment and maybe even a Holy Crap moment or two.  They’ve been teasing Kane breaking from the authority, but it’s almost guaranteed that he goes in the exact opposite action and further entrenches himself within the Authority infrastructure.

There is a backstage interview from Naomi following the promo video for tonight’s Main Event, and Naomi again displays her new attitude and works toward a heel turn, which is kinda weird being that she has a title match against a heel champion tonight, but I’m interested to see where it goes.

And then Dean Ambrose interrupts the preshow panel and cuts an eccentric promo about Luke Harper and declares that he’s going to get revenge on Luke Harper for taking him out at Wrestlemania and beating him up a couple of times in the weeks between Wrestlemania 31 and Extreme Rules.  I think a Falls Count Anywhere Match would have fit those two perfectly, but a Chicago Street Fight is a pretty decent stipulation for them as well.

Recap of Sheamus’ comments when he returned with his new look and pretty much in the same line as what Batista had to say when he came back in 2014 and asked “where have all the real men gone?” and basically says that the little guys are a joke and you aren’t a real man unless you’re at least 6’3” 260 lbs.  Boring storyline, but could make for some pretty good matches.  I actually like Sheamus’ work for the most part, so I like seeing him get a new heel push.  I don’t like him stepping on some of the other talented guys like Dolph Ziggler to do it, but that’s what being a heel is all about.

Another batch of Tough Enough audition highlights.  I still don’t care.  I won’t be watching Tough Enough.  Apart from Survivor, I’ve just never been into reality TV (or more accurately fabricated reality TV).  And the fact that past Tough Enough winners have had such a poor record of making it in the WWE makes it seem extra pointless to me to watch it and root for anybody to win because odds are they’ll never make it to the roster before they get cut, despite winning.

Roman Reigns vs. Big Show Last Man Standing promo video airs next.  This has the opportunity to be the best match Big Show has put on in a long time, but I think a lot of people are not very enthused about it.  The crowd in Chicago is likely going to be against both guys and hijack the match, but whatever.  And there are the CM Punk chants already.  Expect more of them during the Divas match and the Last Man Standing match.

Bray Wyatt promo.  He’s supposedly calling out Ryback for his next program from the rumors I’ve read.  Could be interesting.  I don’t want to see Wyatt lose momentum like he did last year in his programs with Jericho and Ambrose.  I think Wyatt vs. Ryback might be a step in the wrong direction, but I could be wrong.

Here comes Bad News Barrett for the preshow match with Neville.  He takes credit for Daniel Bryan not being there, claiming that Bryan isn’t man enough and is scared of facing him.  Solid pre-match promo, though could have done without the potshots at Michael Jordan.

I like it a lot when we get a match like this where the two guys weren’t supposed to wrestle each other that night and are filling a space that opened up at the last minute.  It’s always a bummer when somebody is hurt and unable to perform, but I really enjoy seeing things get moved around and somebody else take advantage of that opportunity like Neville gets the chance to do tonight in Daniel Bryan’s stead.

What is with having a commercial interruption during the middle of a PPV match?  Really?  You can promote Jericho’s podcast, WWE 24, Jerry Springer’s Too Hot for TV and all that other stuff in between matches or in between shows.  It doesn’t belong in the middle of a match, even one on the preshow.

Very solid showing for Neville with Barrett letting him kick out of both the Winds of Change and Wasteland, Barrett’s former finishers.  Neville ducks the Bull Hammer toward the end and kicks Barrett in the head and goes for the Red Arrow, but Barrett crotches him on the top rope.  Barrett goes for an epic Bull Hammer with Neville on the top rope, but Neville moves, kicks Barrett in the head and hits the Red Arrow on the second try and gets the upset win.  Very good kickstart to the night, despite the crappy commercial interruption early on in the match.

Tom Phillips with a brief Q & A with Kane.  Very irrelevant tweet questions.  Kane’s reaction is kinda entertaining, but a pretty dull pointless segment.

Promotional package for the Cena / Rusev match = pee break time for me.

Bladder successfully emptied, ready for the show.  Ambrose vs. Harper up first.

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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The Raw Review – 08/11/2014

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Start off the night with a mound of presents at the top of the rampway as tonight is Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration – AKA just an excuse to boost ratings on what fans know full well is likely to be a crummy take home show where nothing real happens and the entire point is to plug SummerSlam and the WWE Network as much as possible.  #$9.99, in case you didn’t know.  And if you by any chance didn’t know that, then let me inform you that Paul Heyman’s client Brock Lesnar conquered the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania.  I think HHH and Heyman must have a personal bet backstage over who can say their phrase the most without the audience rioting.

And speaking of Heyman and Lesnar, they started off the show with a very solid promo in which Paul Heyman relives the highlights of Brock Lesnar since his return to the WWE for probably the 10-billionth time in the past 4 months, lest anybody somehow forget that Lesnar is still around because he really only shows up for maybe a dozen shows a year, yet somehow he’s going to win the WWE Championship in 6 days.  First, The Rock comes back for a grand total of two matches before he gets to win the title off of Punk and now Lesnar, who has wrestled seven matches in the past two and a half years, is going to be our next World Heavyweight Champion for a near certainty.  I personally have a problem with the spotlight being taken away from the guys that are there each and every week, night in and night out.  It’s not a big problem, but it’s like that annoying itch you get right in the middle of your back that you have to really stretch to rid yourself of.  Anyways, Heyman caps the promo by announcing that the WWE ring is now Brock’s house and he and the man of the house are going out for dinner, but not to let the party (Hulk Hogan’s birthday party) get too out of hand because after he eats, the man of the house is coming back home (back to the ring).  Pretty solid foreshadowing without boring everybody at the top of the show.  I am however, a little disappointed that Lesnar didn’t destroy the “birthday packages”, but there was still another 2 hours and 40 minutes for that to happen at that point.

In the first match of the night, Roman Reigns makes his way to the ring and then Kane’s music hits, which was good news to me as I feared after last week where he once again relinquished his mask that perhaps Kane was retiring.  Kane announces that since Reigns beat Kane last week, which was almost like beating two men, the authority would like to see how Reigns fairs actually fighting against two men this week and Reigns is placed in a Handicap match against Rybaxle.  It winds up being a typical Reigns match in which he doesn’t do a whole lot other than his usual punch, kick, Spear, Superman Punch set-up (and people give Cena a hard time over his supposed Five Moves of Death).  Reigns ends up winning by DQ, apparently meant to save Rybaxle the embarrassment of losing a handicap match in their favor.  After the match, Reigns cuts one of his best promos to date in which he points out that Randy Orton thinks Reigns stole something from him, but he hasn’t taken anything from Orton yet.  However, he says that at SummerSlam, he’s going to take everything away from Orton.  He also points out that once you punch the teeth out of a Viper, it’s really just a big worm.

Next up was Seth Rollins against Rob Van Dam in the match we were promised last week on Raw before the bait and switch that led to Seth Rollins losing to Heath Slater due to easily one of the most entertaining in-match distraction segments in the history of Monday Night Raw.  But Rollins redeems himself this week after a physical match with RVD and Rollins wins with the Curb Stomp, which for the record, is a pretty crummy finisher in my book because there are so many situations in which it doesn’t make any sense for his opponent to roll over and get into position for it.  After the match, Rollins takes a close look at Hogan’s presents at the top of the rampway, as though expecting Dean Ambrose to be hiding in one.  And predictably, just when he gives up on the idea and starts to leave, Ambrose of course comes bursting out of the biggest present and attacks Seth from him behind, rolling him all the way down the rampway and back to the ring and Seth before Seth manages to escape.  Nothing to complain about with the match, but the bit with Ambrose popping out of the box could have been done better.

Next up is some B.S. segment with Stephanie and Daniel Bryan’s supposed therapist in which Stephanie coaxes the young lady into claiming to have had an affair with Daniel Bryan and it’s obviously just a crummy ploy to pump up the hype for Stephanie and Brie, which for some reason seems to be the second Main Event on SummerSlam.  Really, after TNA did that incredibly shitty AJ Styles fake affair storyline a couple of years ago, WWE decides to do the same thing?  Thankfully, at this point in the storyline, it seems like this won’t be nearly as overly drawn out as that atrocity was and it’ll be quashed by the time Brie and Stephanie have their one and only match at SummerSlam, except for perhaps an eventual mixed tag with Brie & Daniel against Stephanie & HHH sometime in the future.  I pretty much tuned out this whole segment and if you didn’t do the same thing, then I’m sorry for your loss.  Apparently, Stephanie promised that they’re going to get it done and out of the way later on tonight instead of at SummerSlam, but I somehow doubt we could get that lucky.

Jack Swagger takes on Cesaro in our next match, and obviously Swagger has to come out looking strong in this one to promote his match with Rusev at SummerSlam.  It’s a shame that Cesaro apparently isn’t working the show and if he is, it’ll be one of those matches with no build-up where he jobs to somebody that they want to push but couldn’t decide what to do with until the last minute.  Like every Cesaro match, this one delivered plenty of excitement and unique spots before Swagger ultimately made Cesaro tap out to the Ankle Lock.  WWE, you’re pushing the wrong guy here.  However, once Swagger vs. Rusev is done, that will probably be rectified.  After the match, Rusev interrupts and proceeds to kick off another round of what I like to call the worst flag waving competition ever.  Thankfully, this round of flag twirling didn’t last very long.

Next up is pretaped footage between Bray Wyatt and Chris Jericho talking face-to-face in an interview segment.  This is really not the best setting for Wyatt, whose character is better served sticking to the shadows or working a crowd from a pulpit.  It was kind of like watching Batman walking down the sidewalk in the middle of the day in plain daylight.  I think the segment took away some of Wyatt’s mojo.  Both guys were brilliant, but Wyatt’s character just seemed out of place.

AJ Lee is in action in the next match against Eve Marie.  And you know when you see Eve Marie in the ring, you are about to see a terrible match.  From what I’ve seen from Eve in the past, she has no hustle in the ring.  She lollygags along at less than half speed and does nothing exciting or entertaining.  She only has a job because she has a slim waist and a boob job.  Paige comes out and causes a very boring distracting by skipping around the ring.  As much as I like Paige, that was a snoozer and Eve Marie for some reason gets handed a win over the Diva’s Champion in a match that lasted all of about 30 seconds before the distraction and Eve rolling up AJ for the win.  Paige wraps up with a poem and that part was pretty brilliant.  Diva’s promos usually suck balls, but that one was pretty decent.  Eve for no apparent reason is then down on one knee rubbing her neck outside the ring, so AJ goes out after her and beats the crap out of her while wailing and screeching.

John Cena’s then comes out to respond to Lesnar and Heyman’s comments from the start of the night.  I really like Cena when he gets ready to go into the ring with somebody that he legitimately doesn’t like, like he was with The Rock and now with Lesnar.  The dude is very underrated as a talker.  He almost had me convinced that he was actually going to beat Lesnar at SummerSlam.  Almost, but not quite.  Very solid promo.  Cena can occasionally bring it and when he does, he’s on par with any of the internet darlings out there.

Then it’s back to Brie and Stephanie and it was obvious that this match wasn’t actually going to happen tonight instead of at SummerSlam.  Instead, Stephanie turns the tables on Brie from a few weeks ago and gets Brie arrested for slapping her husband’s physical therapist earlier in that crummy segment.  Another waste of time here.  Stephanie was at least mildly entertaining as she flopped around with her tongue hanging out of her mouth while Brie put her in a horribly executed version of the Yes Lock.  The second time for the night, she was as boring as it gets, sticking hard to her overbearing bitch boss character hardcore.

Next up is Dolph Ziggler against Heath Slater with The Miz once again joining the commentary team.  I don’t know who convinced WWE that The Miz was a good talker, but that person should be shot.  I find it hilarious that even Michael Cole, the guy that was the biggest Miz mark back in 2011, has turned on the Miz and makes fun of him all the time.  Miz is a joke and a bad one at that.  Anyway, he stands on the announce table for the entire match in yet another suit that exhibits his poor taste.  Meanwhile, Ziggler puts in a decent appearance against Slater until it looks like Ziggler is about to get the W, so Miz starts to interfere, only to have Ziggler cut him off at the pass and beat the crap out of him and throw him around outside the ring.  This causes Ziggler to get counted out.  After the match, Ziggler offers to shake Slater’s hand and Slater goes to kick him instead, so Ziggler KOs him and heads into SummerSlam looking strong.  This current edition of Ziggler vs. Miz reminds me a lot of Booker T vs. Christian from 2003 and it should ring some bells for you because it’s pretty much the exact same scenario.  A PPV battle royal for a vacant Intercontinental Championship gets won by the heel who people thought was already eliminated and then the face comes back and beats the crap out of him for a month and beats him for the title at the next PPV.  Here’s hoping that history repeats itself in this instance.

Sheamus made his return after sitting out the last two weeks due to severe flu symptoms, which I believe is the reason why we have another AJ / Paige title match at SummerSlam.  After their Battleground match was so terrible, I thought they would continue building the program between them and skip over SummerSlam to give them time to work together some more at house shows and build some better in-ring chemistry and then have their next title match at Night of Champions next month.  Instead, we are saddled with both AJ vs. Paige and Stephanie vs. Brie at SummerSlam instead of them potentially building a Sheamus US Title defense against somebody like Cesaro or Rusev.  Sheamus has turned into a really solid in-ring performer.  You can’t dispute that the guy gives a max effort every time he’s in the ring and like Cena, he blows other big musclebound wrestlers out of the water in terms of athleticism and willingness to experiment with new maneuvers that you don’t see coming from a big guy, so I support Sheamus and Cena where a lot of people don’t.  I’m not going to mark out for either of them, but I have no problem with either of them carrying championships and I give them a lot of respect.  In tonight’s final match, Sheamus takes on Randy Orton and these two put on a very solid match together as they’ve done many times in the past.  It wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was very solid and for a Main Event on a take home show that didn’t feature anybody from the Main Event of the upcoming Pay Per View, it was more than adequate and it ended with another phenomenal RKO.  Randy Orton is among the best at finding exciting ways to hit his finishing maneuver when we as a viewer aren’t expecting it.  He may be the best at hitting his finishing move as a surprise since Shawn Michaels. 

Finally, we cap the night with Hulk Hogan’s birthday celebration, which was the ratings grab they’ve been promoting all week to try to bring in viewers.  I’m kind of surprised that they saved it for the end of the show instead of leading off the second or third hour with it to reach the largest audience as the segments at the top and end of each hour easily get the best ratings of any given wrestling show.  Anyways, typical token appearances by legends and then Brock Lesnar comes back to try to spoil the party, but then Cena comes out and cuts him off and Lesnar disappointingly backs off and exits without the two having any real contact at all in the only show where they both appeared before their title match Main Event at SummerSlam.  This isn’t going to be a match on Sunday, it’s going to be two guys taking turns beating on each other and resting with numerous wear down holds and it’s probably going to suck, but because it doesn’t end with Cena winning and keeping the title, people are going to probably love it anyway.

Overall, not that great of an episode of Raw, but pretty good for a final episode of Raw before a PPV (Aka a take-home show).

 

 

Written by I Am a Real American

August 12, 2014 at 3:29 am

Posted in AJ Lee, AJ Styles, Antonio Cessaro, Battleground, Booker T, Bray Wyatt, Brie Bella, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, Christian, Curtis Axel, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Eve Marie, Heath Slater, Hulk Hogan, Intercontinental Championship, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kane, Lesnar vs. Cena, Michael Cole, Monday Night Raw, Paige, Paul Heyman, Pro Wrestling, Randy Orton, Raw Response, RKO, Rob Van Dam, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ryback, Rybaxle, Seth Rollins, Shawn Michaels, Sheamus, Stephanie McMahon, SummerSlam, The Miz, The Rock, Triple H, Undertaker, United States Championship, World Heavyweight Championship, WWE Championship, WWE Network, Yes Lock, Zeb Colter

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2013 – The Best and Worst of the First Half

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So, I know we’re actually a couple of weeks over the first half of the year, but last night we wrapped up the WWE’s 6th Pay Per View of the year out of 12, so this seems a more fitting place to give out awards for the Best of the First Half of 2013.

Best Pay Per View Match – Undertaker vs. CM Punk @ Wrestlemania 29.  When this match was first announced, I thought there was a decent chance that Punk could be the one hand-picked to end the Streak, but as the program advanced week to week with Punk getting the better of Undertaker at each and every turn and seeing none of Undertaker’s legendary mind games, it became painfully obvious that Punk was going to be just another victim because there was no chance that Undertaker would get punked week in and week out and then have the streak end all at once.  I think it’s pretty clear that if the Streak ends, it’ll be the last match that Undertaker ever wrestles.  It’s poetic and would follow the trend set by Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels of glorious Wrestlemania exits.  That being the case, with the program set up as it was, there was no way that was the last run we’d see from Undertaker and thus he pretty much was guaranteed the win in my mind.  However, that didn’t take away from the quality of their match at Wrestlemania one bit.  Punk was at his best psychologically, flashing humorous expressions and hitting the high spots at just the right time to make up for Undertaker’s declining mobility.  The image of Undertaker sitting up while locked in the Anaconda Vice and turning the Big Evil glare onto Punk and Punk’s reaction is one of my favorite takeaways from this year’s Wrestlemania.  That and Zeb Coulter’s hilarious reaction when Swagger tapped out to Del Rio in the World Heavyweight Championship match.

Best Free-TV Match – John Cena vs. CM Punk – Raw (February 25) – Just an all around great performance, right up there with their match at Money in the Bank two years ago.  It’s probably one of the top five matches of Cena’s career.  It’s the only time I can remember Cena ever attempting a Frankensteiner and sure, he didn’t do it very well, but the guy went for it.  That’s one of the most exciting attempts at a move done by a big guy since Big Show, as The Giant in WCW, last attempted a Moonsault or Brock Lesnar going for the Shooting Star Press at Wrestlemania 19.  I used to think Edge was the only one who could bring out the very best in Cena, but Punk does it even better.  The two of them have had at least two and perhaps three of the top 10 matches of the last two years (at Money in the Bank in 2011 and this match for sure, plus maybe Night of Champions last year despite the non-finish).

Best Rivalry – Daniel Bryan vs. The Shield (and anything else in his way) –  Daniel Bryan has kicked things up to another notch this year during his “weakest link” storyline, putting on the most entertaining matches and some of the most entertaining segments night in and night out over the past 2 months since Team Hell No lost the WWE Tag Team Titles to The Shield at Extreme Rules.  And if the rumors are true, he’s managed to parlay the great showing he’s had this year into a SummerSlam WWE Championship Main Event match against John Cena.  Goat mode has been activated and there is no stopping it.

Best Performer – Daniel Bryan – (See Best Rivalry)  Honorable Mention to CM Punk for easily the 3 best matches of the year so far (vs. Cena on Raw, vs. Undertaker @ Wrestlemania and vs. Jericho @ Payback)

Most Underrated – Antonio Cesaro – In a very short time he went from a dominant United States Champion to a yodeling afterthought.  He was consistently posting great matches against The Miz, which I’ve come to expect as a very hard thing to do over the course of Miz’s career, so Cesaro deserves all the respect in the world for that.  I don’t know why they decided to stick him with Zeb Coulter now because Cessaro is also pretty darn good on the mic and doesn’t really need a mouthpiece and for that storyline they should have used another actual American to team with Swagger, even though Cesaro does have the Very European, Uber-American thing going for him.  Damien Sandow was easily my favorite to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match last night and I’m very glad he did.  His mic skills over the past year or so have surpassed even those of the CM Punk and his overhyped “pipe bombs”, of which there have been few and far between since his infamous Vegas promo.  However, if Sandow wasn’t going to be the one to win, Cesaro was easily my second choice of who I would have liked to have seen win the briefcase and become a guaranteed future World Champion.

Best Pay Per View – Payback – This event was one I had pretty much written off, but it really had a lot going for it.  The 3 Stages of Hell WWE Championship title match between Cena and Ryback exceeded my expectations and was actually probably the best Pay Per View WWE Championship Match of the year so far, but that’s not saying a whole lot unless you give a lot of credit to the Twice in a Lifetime Cena vs. Rock rematch at Wrestlemania, which just didn’t do a whole lot for me after already seeing it the previous year and knowing that for certain Cena was going to win and get his all important “redemption” when they should have just had him beat Rock last year and ended it there instead of continuing to drag it out for what is probably going to be a Wrestlemania Main Event trilogy.  On top of that, you can debate which of Punk’s matches (vs. Cena, vs. Undertaker or this one) was the best, but undoubtedly Punk vs. Jericho on that night was one of the best 3 matches of the year at the very least.  On top of that, Del Rio shockingly (to me anyway) won the World Heavyweight Championship back from Dolph Ziggler in a match that just like Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania 13 flip-flopped the two, simultaneously turning the heel into the face and the face into the heel by showcasing the guts of the injured heel who was already getting huge reactions from the crowd long before that point.  Poor Ziggler now has 2 World Heavyweight Championship reigns, one of which went for 69 days, and he still has never successfully defended the title.  However, he put on a good show despite carrying a title for 10 weeks without defending it or even being on Television for half of his brief title run.  On top of all of that, Daniel Bryan continued to put on a great show in the WWE Tag Team Title match and for the first time in a long time WWE put a watchable women’s match on the Pay Per View, between Kaitlynn and AJ, even though the program leading up to it was like a very watered down version of Trish and Mickie.  There wasn’t really a stinker match on the card, though Dean Ambrose vs. Kane did let me down a little bit, but that’s mostly because I don’t believe disqualifications and non-finishes have any place on a Pay Per View.  If you want to put that kind of finish on Raw, go right ahead because we aren’t shelling out $50-$60 to watch it, but if you are going to charge that much for people to watch a Pay Per View, you have an obligation to deliver better than that cheap ass crap to help you promote the next Pay Per View that you’re also going to charge $50 or more for.  It’s no wonder WWE has such a problem with internet piracy.  I know that they have a lot of deserving workers who need Pay Per View revenue to help cover their salaries, but when you’re ripping off fans at $50 a pop every month, you deserve to be ripped off yourself.  It’s called karma.  Especially when I believe that you could cut Pay Per View prices down to $10-$15 and sell the show to 4-5 times as many people and make the same amount of profit.  Pay Per View buy rates and profits are down purely because, in the words of Jimmy McMillan (the guy from The Rent Is Too Damn High Party), the prices are too damn high.

Worst Match – The Rock vs. CM Punk @ Royal Rumble –  Those two just didn’t feel like they had any chemistry to me at all.  Moves seemed disjointed and poor Bret Hart was in attendance in the back after participating in the Fan Access panels that weekend and giving Del Rio a rub on his way to the ring, and Bret had to watch The Rock absolutely butcher the Sharpshooter.  At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if The Great Khali could apply a better Sharpshooter than The Rock.  He certainly couldn’t do any worse than The Rock.  And to top it all off, they did one of those crappy interference finishes followed by restarting the match only to have the real finish occur less than 15 seconds after restarting the match.  It was a nice moment in the career of The Rock and a niece piece of nostalgia for the fans, but it was a god awful stinker of a match.

Best Fan Reaction – Finally stopping the Goldberg chants – Next on the list of stupid crap to quit chanting is the What chant.

Worst Fan Reaction – Fandangoing – Just stop it.  The dude has a smaller move set than John Cena, of whose “5 moves of doom” you all love to bitch about so much.  Stop it now.  Shame on you New York fans for starting that junk.

Most Overrated – Fandango – (See Worst Fan Reaction) Shame on Chris Jericho for being willing to job to absolutely anybody at any given time and thus giving this bozo credibility (I’ve taken to referring to Fandango as Wiener Breath most of the time due to his level of suckitude).  Have some standards, please, for the love of all that is holy.

Worst Choice – Fandango going over on Jericho @ Wrestlemania – It’s usually a good thing for a veteran to put over the young talent and I applaud Jericho’s selflessness in being so cool about jobbing to anybody and everybody, but I reiterate for the love of all that is holy, please have some standards Chris.

Best Choice – Zack Ryder – For accidentally kicking Fandango in the head wrong and giving him a concussion, thus allowing Curtis Axel to replace him at Payback, thus saving the world from the disaster that is Fandango winning anything of importance, such as the Intercontinental Championship.

Worst Announcer – Still Michael Cole – Forever and always Michael Cole.  You know why.  Enough said.

Best Announcer – JBL – He might not have actually been a wrestling God, but he is definitely a commentary God.  Bobby Heenan is still my all time favorite commentator, but JBL is easily the runner-up.

 

Written by I Am a Real American

July 15, 2013 at 7:20 am

Posted in AJ Lee, Antonio Cessaro, Big Show, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Bret Hart, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Diva's Championship, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Dwayne Johnson, Edge, Extreme Rules, Fandango, Jack Swagger, John Cena, Kaitlynn, Kane, Mickie James, Money in the Bank, Ric Flair, Royal Rumble, Sharpshooter, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Miz, The Rock, The Shield, Trish Stratus, Undertaker, World Heavyweight Championship, Wrestlemania, Wrestlemania 29, Wrestlemania XIII, Wrestlemania XIX, Wrestlemania XXIX, WWE, WWE Championship, WWE Tag Team Championship, Zack Ryder, Zeb Coulter

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The Return of Rob Van Dam

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Everybody right now is super excited that Rob Van Dam is returning to the WWE at Money in the Bank on July 14 in Philadelphia.  It’s great news and he should put on a hell of a show, but is he going to be on the road day in and day out or is he going to wrestle a schedule similar to that of Brock Lesnar?

I think he pretty much has to be working a limited schedule based on past experience because we are all well aware of his exploits in the field of recreational marijuana.  It’s what had him moving out the door back in 2006 when an arrest along with Sabu.  RVD was the WWE and ECW dual champion at the time and the incident led to him promptly dropping the two titles on back-to-back nights almost 7 years ago to the date to Edge and Big Show respectively.

If he comes back full time, I think it’s only a matter of time until he faces and weed-induced suspension under the WWE’s Wellness Policy and maybe gets himself shuffled right back out the door.  A limited schedule, meaning limited travel and limited wear and tear on his body probably lessens that possibility.  And sure, he’s only 42, but he’s been a professional wrestler for almost a quarter of a century now (24 years, he was a 7-year veteran before debuting in ECW in 1996) and a light schedule is never a bad idea for a guy that has been wrestling that long.

And for those of you that want to point out that after Jack Swagger had his weed-related issues, he still got to compete in a title match at Wrestlemania and continue working for another couple of months afterward, I think he got very lucky on that count because the arrest was enough for him to be suspended immediately under the Wellness Policy in lieu of a positive drug test.  However, being that WWE had already started building toward the Fox News type of storyline with Swagger and World Champion Alberto Del Rio and not having anybody else that they could fit in there and have that kind of supposedly edgy storyline, it feels like they deferred letting the ax fall on Swagger until after that storyline had run it’s course.  Notice, he hasn’t been around since Extreme Rules almost 1 1/2 months ago.  Maybe it’s kind of convenient that he “got injured” now when he was probably destined for a few months on the bench anyway.  So, I wouldn’t be too inclined to think that the treatment of Swagger is a sign that RVD’s drug violations, should they come up again, wouldn’t be an issue.  However, I’m sure that all of that was discussed with him before he agreed to come back.

But where does he fit in after Money in the Bank?  I’m just going to go ahead and assume that he does not win the match that they are billing as “Money in the Bank All-Stars” against CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kane and Christian.  Four guys are coming into that match having already won a Money in the Bank briefcase (Daniel Bryan, Kane, Rob Van Dam and CM Punk twice) and I think if anybody is going to be another repeat winner, it will either be Bryan or Punk and not a guy who has been working for another company for the past 3 years and has proven to be unreliable in the past.  My best guess for what happens to RVD is that he gets sucked into a rivalry with the Shield.  The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, Sheamus, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Ryback and John Cena stuff has pretty much been done to death and they are surely moving on and RVD might be an ideal target for the so-called “Hounds of Justice” to make even more of a name for themselves after they seemed destined to get a serious downgrade in competition and wrestle teams from the fledgling tag team division like The Usos regularly now.  I kind of expect them to select a new big-name target soon and Rob Van Dam on the night he makes his return to WWE just feels like the direction this would go next for them logically.

While I would greatly enjoy seeing RVD match up against guys that are going to give him guaranteed great matches like CM Punk, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler – I’m intrigued at the possibility of seeing him work against some new blood as well and we’ve already seen that The Shield, Seth Rollins in particular, can put on great matches against guys that fly around the ring a lot like Daniel Bryan and RVD both tend to do.  And just maybe RVD can bring along a couple of other ECW alumni, even for one night only, to take on The Shield at SummerSlam.  RVD, Sabu & Tommy Dreamer vs. The Shield?  It’s not out of the question.