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 ‘Triple H

Live Reactions – Elimination Chamber 2015 – Neville vs. Bo Dallas

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And Neville and Bo Dallas are given the task of following that outstanding John Cena vs. Kevin Owens match.  We still have another Elimination Chamber and Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose yet to come and already Elimination Chamber is looking like potentially the best WWE Show of the year.

Neville dominates the early going despite the storyline knee injury and takes Bo down with a Moonsault out to the floor.  Neville with a Reverse Chinlock on Dallas and Dallas ties up in the ropes and whines about Neville not accepting his help.  Neville kicks him and Dallas suckers him in and dumps him out to the floor.  Dallas ties Neville’s arm up in the ring skirt and Elbows him in the head a few times and then puts him up on the apron and smothers him with the ring skirt.  Bo with a Front Facelock on Neville, Neville fights back up and Bo grabs him by the hair and flings him over backward and covers him for a near fall.  Bo goes back to the Front Facelock.  Bo roughs up Neville with some Short-arm Elbow Smashes to the side of the head.  Neville ducks one and runs Bo off into the corner.  Bo gets rammed head first into the middle turnbuckle and rolls out to the floor where he lays spread eagle and regroups.  Bo back in before he can get counted out.  Neville with a flurry of kciks and bounces with a Running Kick to the side of the head.  Neville with a Standing Shooting Star Press and covers him for a near fall.  Bo shoves Neville down and then rams his head into his gut.  Bo with a Side Headlock, goes for the Bo Dog, but Neville counters, knocks Bo flat and goes up to the top rope.  Red Arrow for the win.

Good match for a cool-down match after Cena vs. Owens.  Neville continues to go over another mid-carder in his initial push, as expected.  In the back, Triple H comes up to Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns and tells them that he heard about Reigns saying he would be in Ambrose’s corner tonight, but HHH says if he shows up out there during the match, Ambrose will be disqualified.

Live Reactions – Elimination Chamber 2015 Preshow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Real American Live Reactions – NXT Takeover: Unstoppable Juggernauts Battle

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Next up is Rhyno taking on Baron Corbin and half the crowd has decided that Baron Corbin sucks, the same way they did in 2005 with John Cena and with Roman Reigns earlier this year.  Basic slugfest back and forth goes out to the floor where Corbin rams Rhyno’s back into the side of the ring, which is covered by a video board like the one that gave Triple H that epic bruise on his backside and leg at Wrestlemania 31.  Corbin continues to beat down Rhyno and puts on a Half Nelson to wear Rhyno down and this may be the longest match Corbin has ever had in NXT.  Whips Rhyno into the corner, but Rhyno bounces back and the two men Headbutt each other and drop for a breather.  More back and forth, Rhyno gets a Spinebuster for a near fall.  Is that the first time anybody has tried to cover Corbin?    Take their time getting back up, Rhyno ducks a big right hand and hits a Belly-to-Belly Suplex.  Rhyno calls for the Gore and the end is near.  Corbin coutners into a big Clothesline.  End of Days for the win.

Corbin remains undefeated, but as we’ve seen in recent weeks, the crowd has turned against him.  Used to be, they’d be counting down the seconds it took for him to beat somebody because they knew he was gonna win in less than 30 seconds and they were super into it.  Now, it’s clear that they’ve gotten somewhat tired of him.  A heel turn seems imminent.

Written by Arron Hustead

May 21, 2015 at 12:56 am

Payback Preshow Live Reactions – WWE Championship Fatal 4-Way

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The match starts off with the announcers reminding us every 30 seconds that Seth Rollins does not have to be pinned to lose the championship.  However, they also tell us repeatedly that Seth Rollins has to pin somebody to keep the title.  Reigns takes everybody down with a dive over the top rope early.  As we go on with Rollins on the short end of a 2-on-1 beatdown from Reigns and Ambrose, Kane decides to start helping Rollins out.  Kane and J & J triple team Orton out on the floor with Rollins taking advantage of Kane’s help to work over Ambrose in the ring.  Reigns is overselling Kane throwing him into the barricade out on the floor.  Rollins gets several near falls on Ambrose while Orton and Reigns rest on the floor.  Ambrose battles back and hits Dirty Deeds, but Kane Chokeslams him.  Orton and Reigns get back in the action and now Orton and Rollins carry the action in the ring while Ambrose and Reigns rest.  Orton hits a Superplex for a near fall.  Nobody ever wins with a Superplex, yet everybody acts surprised when somebody kicks out of one.  Everybody fights it out on the floor now and they set up the table to put somebody through the table.  Now the three former members of the Shield temporarily unite and Triple Team Orton and Triple Powerbomb him through the table..  Rollins then hugs Reigns and Ambrose, but they laugh and smile and then take turns pummeling Rollins.  They then set up the spanish announce table for somebody to go through it and Kane saves Rollins from being put through it.  Ambrose fights off Kane and rams him into the ring post.  Reigns puts Rollins on the table.  Ambrose and Reigns then Power Bomb Kane onto Rollins on the table, but the table doesn’t break.  The crowd chants for one more time and Ambrose and Reigns give them what they want and do the spot over and this time the table crumples in a heap.  Ambrose and Reigns say there is nothing left to do but fight it out among themselves and so they get back in the ring and start fighting it out, trading punches.  Reigns gets a near fall on a Powerslam and goes for the Superman Punch, but Ambrose counters into a Schoolboy for a near fall.  Reigns hits the Superman Punch and makes the cover, but Ambrose kicks out at the last second.  Awesome that the match continues, but it seems like the first Superman Punch never puts anybody away.  Ambrose blocks the Spear.  Reigns counters out of Dirty Deeds.  Ambrose goes for the Pendulum Clothesline off the ropes, but Reigns ducks and goes off the ropes and hits the Spear, but Rollins makes the save on the cover.  Reigns beats up J & J some more and throws Rollins back in the ring where Ambrose is back up.  Superman Punch on Rollins.  Pendulum Clothesline on Reigns.  Dirty Deeds on Rollins.  Cover, but Kane pulls Ambrose out by the boot.  Kane knocks Ambrose and Reigns down with the stairs.  Kane Chokeslams Reigns on the stairs.  Orton hits Kane from behind, knocking him into the post.  Orton goes for the Rope Hang DDT on Rollins, but J & J break it up.  RKOs to both members of J & J.  Rollins comes off the top rope, but Orton catches him with a Powerslam.  Orton hits Rollins with the Rope Hang DDT and goes on the hunt, calling for the RKO.  Rollins back up and Orton goes for the RKO, but Rollins counters and shoves Orton at Kane and Orton hits Kane with the RKO.  Rollins hits Orton with the Pedigree and covers him for the three count.

Rollins retains the championship and while I thought there was a chance he would lose it and get it back before SummerSlam, tonight didn’t really feel like the night and it wasn’t as Rollins does in fact retain the title going into the Elimination Chamber in 2 weeks.  However, he will likely have to defend the title in the Elimination Chamber and then 2 weeks after that, it’s Money in the Bank.  He’s not going to have any easier of a road storyline wise than he’s had already, but it should be interesting.  At least with the Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank matches, we know that we won’t be getting all the false finishes like we did tonight.  Best performance of the night was from Imagine Dragons, who weren’t even in the building, but their song :Friction” and the promo packages that WWE built with it were very cool.

Real American Wrestleblog Live Reactions – Extreme Rules 2015 – Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper in a “Chicago Street Fight”

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A lot of cheap pops to start the night, the announce team putting over Chicago and Eden overemphasizing Chicago while announcing the stipulation.

Ambrose takes the fight to Harper out on the floor before they go back into the ring and get the match “officially” started.  Ambrose Suicide Dive out to the floor and then throws Harper into the stairs to take the early advantage.  Ambrose has a Kendo Stick and Harper has a chair. Somehow the kendo stick wins and Ambrose gets in several shots.  Ambrose sits in the chair and taunts Harper as he gets back up.  Harper ends up slamming Ambrose onto the chair with a Suplex and now Harper works Ambrose over with the Kendo Stick.  Hard hitting, slow deliberate pace to start the match and Harper jams the point of the kendo stick into Ambrose’s head.  I’m sure it hurts, but doesn’t look like much.  Harper does a modified Snake Eyes, ramming Ambrose like a dart into a chair propped up in the corner.  That one might leave a mark.  Harper gets in a few more shots with the kendo stick before Ambrose turns the tide and Scoop Slams Harper onto a chair.  Fight goes to the corner where Ambrose hits a textbook Tornado DDT with a very nice snap to it.  Trade punches and Ambrose bounces off the ropes and runs into a kick to the gut.  Ambrose quickly retakes the advantage though and hits the Flying Elbow Drop to a standing opponent for a near fall.  Harper reverses some of Ambrose’s signature moves and gets thrown outside.  Hugely awesome spot as Harper blocks a Suicide Dive from Ambrose from the ring to the floor and shoves him back against the ring apron and Ambrose bounces back and hits his signature Rebound Clothlesine, using the ring apron instead of the ropes.  Ambrose uses the Kendo Stick like a baseball bat and chases Harper to the back, hits him with some more foreign objects and Harper bails into somebody’s SUV.  Ambrose jumps in through the window and Harper peels out of the arena.

Is that the end of the match?  The crowd is upset.  There are some CM Punk chants.  I assume they’ll come back at some point, but it appears the show is going on without them.  In the back, HHH orders Kane to go find Ambrose and Harper and bring them back.  Rollins interrupts and the Kane vs. Rollins verbal jabbing continues.  Kane assures them that he will do what is best for business and goes to presumably track down Harper and Ambrose.

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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