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 ‘Wade Barrett

King Bad News and the Wasted Crown

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So, you thought Bad News Barrett winning King of the Ring this year was going to give him that one last big push and one last opportunity to make his character stick in the Main Event picture?  Well, I’m afraid I’ve got some rather BAD NEWS.

Because since winning King of the Ring, Wade Barrett has only made one main card Pay Per View appearance and he was the first one eliminated from the Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber match.  Not only that, but he was pinned by R-Truth, who is currently serving as the WWE’s comic relief.  That’s like getting pinned by Santino Marella three years ago or Damien Mizdow six months ago.  In addition to that one Pay Per View main card appearance, Barrett has been the loser in the preshow match at both Payback and Money in the Bank.  And the night after Money in the Bank, after R-Truth beat him, R-Truth shows up wearing a toilet paper crown and carrying a plunger.  Oh, how the might have fallen.

It’s hard to believe now, but back when the Nexus first arrived, Wade Barrett was every bit as over as Kevin Owens is today.  He was the face of a hot new faction that was laying the most devastating beat downs that this generation of wrestling fans have ever seen.  But he got passed over for an opportunity to get pushed to the Wrestlemania 27 Main Event and instead that opportunity was given to The Miz of all people.  Since then, WWE has dropped the ball on capitalizing on Barrett’s popularity with the die hard fans over and over again.  He has carried the Intercontinental Championship into Wrestlemania three separate times in the past five years and not once has he came out with a victory.  Yet, through it all his popularity has remained and reportedly the key decision makers in WWE remain impressed by him.  Hence, he won King of the Ring this year and everything looked like it was trending up for King Bad News.

Despite the corny cliched king gimmick, the character is still over.  People are eating it up.  Yet, Barrett can’t seem to find his way onto the main cards or in any kind of meaningful program.  His last Intercontinental Championship reign was cheated like a joke, with everybody else playing keep away with his belt.  Now, he’s still stuck working with R-Truth and getting made a mockery of.  And it is very entertaining.  But the longer it keeps up and the longer he’s left working preshows and throwaway matches on Raw and Smackdown, the more likely it’s going to be that people stop caring.  Just last summer, insider reports were that it was a three-way race to determine the next guy to get to carry the World Heavyweight Championship between Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns and Bad News Barrett.  If he takes that kind of fall again from this year to next, he might just be done for.  And rumor is that nagging injuries may force him to retire soon anyway.  So, from WWE’s perspective, I can see why they wouldn’t want to put too much of an investment in a guy that might be retired less than a year from now.  And obviously, it means more for somebody to beat the King of the Ring than it means for the King of the Ring to beat some mid-carder.  Same with the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase.  Because at the end of the day, if they lose, they’ve still got the crown or they’ve still got the briefcase for a guaranteed shot at the big title.  But it’s one thing for the King of the Ring to put somebody over in a match that matters and another thing entirely to lose some throwaway match on the preshow.

Something needs to change or this guy is going to ride his career out on the lowest of notes and if that happens then what was the point of putting the crown on him in the first place?

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, Unstoppable and the Elimination Chamber, Oh My!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Arron Hustead

May 14, 2015 at 11:54 pm

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

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A Real American Wrestlemania 31 Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Arron Hustead

March 21, 2015 at 6:30 pm

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

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Five Things to Look Forward to in June 2013

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1) Money in the Bank Ladder Match announcements.  Really, the sooner that Payback has been and gone the better and we can get to the Money in the Bank Pay Per View on July 14 in Philadelphia.  Shortly after Payback, we should start finding out what the ladder matches are going to look like.  As for Payback, I think it’s pretty obvious at this point that Ryback is just another monster heel that they built up just to feed him to John Cena.  It’s just another instance of Cena getting his ass kicked by the same guy in a month’s worth of attacks and then overcoming some injury or stipulation or both to win anyway on the Pay Per View, only this time he’s going to beat Ryback twice in the same night.  As for CM Punk and Chris Jericho, it should be one of the best matches of the year, but unless Punk turns face or they pull a switcharoo and Punk doesn’t show up and gets replaced by Brock Lesnar or Curtis Axel, I don’t see anything surprising coming from it.  They’ll put on a great show, but nothing with be gained or lost by either man.  95% chance that Punk shows up, teases being a face and cheats to beat Jericho, changing nothing and doing nothing we haven’t already seen Punk do to death all last year.  He was entertaining at times, even while beating the heel champion’s dead horse all the way up until he wasn’t the champion any more.  I’m expecting more of that, so if you are one of the sheep that thought what Punk was doing in the last half of 2012 was somehow cutting edge – well, then Payback should be all kinds of good news for you.

2) The Usos getting a push again in the tag team division.  I don’t expect them to unseat The Shield, but it’s nice to see them adding new bits and pieces to the gimmick and picking up wins because like the Prime Time Players, neither one of them is likely to ever have a shot as a singles wrestler in anything other than a job squad capacity.  I greatly enjoyed the Team Hell No storylines and still am as Daniel Bryan goes nuts on everybody trying to prove that he’s not the weak link, but I’m excited to potential see more traditional tag teams and tag team specialists getting more air time and doing something other than jobbing to pairs of singles wrestlers.

3) Dolph Ziggler coming back on TV.  I imagine if WWE knew he still wouldn’t be cleared to compete this far into the future, they would have stripped him of the title and put it on Del Rio or Swagger at Extreme Rules and allowed Ziggler to win it again when he came back.  A few days before Extreme Rules, he was still being advertised to appear in the Main Event of Monday Night Raw the night after Extreme Rules in a tag match with Ryback against Cena and Del Rio.  As we know, that didn’t happen and Ziggler has still not wrestled since Swagger screwed the pooch by kicking the champion in the head wrong and causing a concussion.  However, he will surely be back in time to defend the title against Del Rio at Payback and once he retains the belt, we can get a fresh program for him against somebody like Daniel Bryan or the Ziggler-Orton rivalry that was rumored to be happening leading into Wrestlemania 29, but never happened.  With the Daniel Bryan and AJ stuff to still draw on and still be entertaining, I’m thinking that’s the direction they end up going as soon as Ziggler finishes with Del Rio and Bryan gives up on trying to beat the Shield as a tag team.

4) This is actually something NOT to look forward to, but something that is going to happen anyway and that’s Fandango winning the Intercontinental Championship.  Brace yourselves now because the most mis-interpreted fan reaction we’ve seen in a while is going to culminate with Fandango winning the title in a Triple Threat Match against The Miz and Wade Barrett at Payback.  If you were one of the people that ragged on John Cena for only using five basic moves and you’re one of the idiots at the arenas “Fandangoing”, go ahead and pull out your hypocrite stamp and slam it into your forehead because other than his spin kick (which Kofi Kingston and Cody Rhodes both employ more exciting variations of), everything that Johnny Curtis has shown us thus far as Fandango has been incredibly basic.  And it doesn’t even take much talent since he has the ring apron to steady himself with before delivering it.  On top of that, Jericho is lucky he didn’t end up on the shelf next to Dolph Ziggler after all the times Fandango landed on the back of his head with his leg drop.

5) More Curtis Axel.  I’ve been down on the spawn of Mr. Perfect a bit because he just seems to fall flat charisma wise when you see him come up against Triple H and John Cena.  It doesn’t feel to me like he’s able to make the crowd care about him, which is probably why they put him with Paul Heyman to see if he could get over that way in the first place.  And others have agreed with me over in the I Love the WWE Facebook group (http://facebook.com/groups/ILoveDoubleDoubleE) that he just feels like he’s falling flat.  And getting wins over Cena by countout doesn’t seem to be helping and I don’t see how anybody could have thought that it would.  However, the kid can wrestle and I’ve compared him a few times stylistically to the late great “Ravashing” Rick Rude.  He just needs to find some of the Hennig family charisma that made his dad great and he really could be exciting to watch for years to come.

What is going on with the Intercontinental Championship?

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Over the past several months we have slowly witnessed the Intercontinental Championship once again descend into mediocrity.  Currently held by Wade Barrett, which in and of itself in no way diminishes the title, it has not been defended on WWE Pay Per View since December. I know what you’re thinking – The Miz beat Wade Barrett for the championship at Wrestlemania XXIX last month.  But that’s not all together true since that match was only on the Wrestlemania pre-show.

Barrett, while holding the championship, in succession was eliminated by NXT rookie Bo Dallas in the Royal Rumble, did not appear on the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View at all, and then lost the championship to The Miz during the Wrestlemania pre-show.  And now, after regaining the title the night after Wrestlemania, he is not even scheduled to wrestle at Extreme Rules this Sunday in St. Louis.  Instead, the former champion Miz is scheduled to compete one-on-one against Cody Rhodes on the Extreme Rules pre-show instead of having a title rematch against Barrett.

Furthermore, Barrett has been showcased less and less on Raw and Smackdown.  His only appearance on Raw this week was to do an interview on the WWE App (which I don’t get by the way – one screen is more than enough and I don’t have an iPad or iPhone or any of the tablets that the WWE App is even available on).  Then, he got a rare in-ring appearance of late on Main Event last night and he wasn’t even in the featured match on the company’s third tier show.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, he jobbed to Sin Cara on that show.

I remember a time when winning the Intercontinental Championship almost guaranteed somebody a WWE (WWF at the time) Championship run within a year or two.  Nowadays, the Intercontinental Championship seems to be a place holder for former World Champions who were disappointments at the top level.  The last time somebody went from Intercontinental Champion to WWE Champion in less than a year was Jeff Hardy in 2008 (not including the World Heavyweight Championship, which we all know is not on the same tier as the WWE Championship any more and hasn’t been since Triple H and Evolution’s hold on the title and Raw was broken when the group split up in 2005).  It hasn’t been done in the last five years.

The last three up and comers to hold the championship have been Cody Rhodes, Kofi Kingston and Wade Barrett, of which Wade Barrett is the only one who has competed in a one-on-one WWE Championship title match (vs. Randy Orton at Survivor Series in 2010).  Barrett is also seemingly the only one of the three with the potential to take the next step any time soon, but even while holding the championship, he’s being treated like a lower-tier mid-carder right now.

Conclusion, the Intercontinental Championship is currently in the pits and assuming Wade Barrett gets on Raw or Smackdown any time soon, it’ll probably be to drop the belt.