Why WWE’s Draft Will Still Fail

June 28, 2016

Lots of people are so excited about the upcoming brand split for WWE. They think this will finally be the magic bullet to fix the awful presentation that is WWE nowadays. It won’t be. More likely, nothing will change. Oh, sure, more people will be on TV. NXT, the only good WWE product, will likely be gutted as a lot of top veteran talent moves on to the new rosters. If you had any doubts, the NXT women’s division was hanging by a thread on Bayley’s shoulders until recently after Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte, Emma, and Eva Marie were all purged at once. Yes, Eva Marie was awful in the ring, but she had massive heel heat and it worked. The same will happen to the men when Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, American Alpha, and Austin Aries are likely pulled out. I’m willing to bet Bayley and Nia Jax are going as well.

Here’s why it won’t matter: Vince McMahon is still the one making the final call. It doesn’t matter who is writing, producing, directing, advising, general managing. If Vince is still calling the final shots, it’s going to be the same sad failure. Vince doesn’t know how to get talent over anymore. The most over guys in the last few years were unintentional. Daniel Bryan, the New Day, AJ Styles, Cesaro, Zack Ryder. Where they are now or were until recently was not intended. They managed to turn chicken shit into chicken salad on their own. Styles was never meant to main event. Neither was Bryan. The New Day was intended to be some racist stereotype. Cesaro was never supposed to be cheered or appreciated. Ryder is Ryder. He got his WrestleMania moment finally, but is now jobber to the mid-card again.

Let’s look at the NXT call-ups. Sami Zayn has almost no character development. He and Kevin Owens are ‘ending’ their feud at the PPV and the crowd didn’t care. Sami Zayn just had the greatest wrestling match since HBK/Undertaker at WrestleMania 25 with Shinsuke Nakamura. If you can’t get him over, you’re an idiot. Kevin Owens, like all heels, wins and loses at a 50/50 rate, which ensures him of complete apathy. It was huge when he beat Cena. Then he lost clean twice and has been up and down ever since. You know he can be pinned anytime or beat anyone anytime, so there’s no real care to be had.

The Lucha Dragons and Ascension? Right. The Dragons were never given a real opportunity before Kalisto was inexplicably made a singles champion. The Ascension was given a gimmick that was their NXT gimmick taken to a stupid level. They should be essentially what Dash and Dawson are now. A couple of tough guys who beat people up and the longest reigning NXT tag champions ever. This isn’t rocket science.

Apollo Crews? DOA as there’s no back story or consistency. Why is he always smiling? He wasn’t ready to be called up, but you know Vince saw that physique and had to have him. The same fate befell Neville. He was given a superhero gimmick and wore a cape when he didn’t need that. He was NXT champion for a year and is more athletic than anyone on the roster. That’s a pretty good starting point. And he has a first name, for fuck’s sake.

Tyler Breeze? Dead on Arrival. I thought he had a marketable mid-card gimmick. You could sell fuzzy selfie sticks and he could use it to cheat and hit opponents. Something. He’s a great wrestler. Tyler Breeze as World Champion? It’s easy to say no, but look at Shawn Michaels’ character in 1992. You build from something, evolve, tweak, and now he’s one of the greatest wrestlers in history. The thing he’s in now is embarrassing. It’s not funny and not entertaining.

Bo Dallas? He never had a chance. He was given a stupid gimmick that he was very slowly getting over in spite of. Then he was tossed into the Social Outcasts and is now not only a jobber, but a jobber without a character. The Vaudevillians? They had an amusing presentation in NXT. Since coming to WWE, their entrance often occurs during commercial break. There’s no effort on WWE’s part to provide an opportunity for them to make you care. Just a couple of characters now.

Baron Corbin? Corbin started strong, but then managed to lose to Dolph Ziggler. Now he might be on TV one week and not the next. It seems apparent that there’s no long-term plan for him.

The entire women’s division is still struggling. Mainly because Nattie and Paige are still featured prominently. Nattie isn’t a good wrestler. I realize everyone thinks she is because she’s a veteran, but her matches are sloppy and generally awful. She can’t act and she can’t sell. Paige is too Diva-lite to actually wrestle anymore. She only seemed good in NXT because Becky, Sasha, and Charlotte were still ascending. Speaking of the women, since Becky, Sasha, and Charlotte had the best match at WrestleMania 32, we’ve been treated to a series of championship matches between Charlotte and… Nattie. While Sasha was off TV for months. Dana Brooke? She wasn’t remotely ready to be called up. She was screwed from the start.

Why would Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, or Nakamura be any different? I could easily see Balor with an over-the-top devil worshipper gimmick. Samoa Joe in Islander costumes, and Nakamura in some other Japanese stereotype with a samurai sword.

So, while everyone is excited about the draft, I’m not. I know what will happen. It’s going to be 5 hours a week of the same torture that is RAW nowadays. Long, drawn out matches that have been done 10 times before since they’ve been given away on TV so many times in the past. Painfully unfunny segments. Heel authority figures. Potentially splitting up current gimmicks that are actually over. People being pushed as babyfaces will get booed. Heels will be cheered. NXT will go into rebuilding mode and likely STILL sell more or as many tickets for road shows than WWE Live shows. Injuries will continue to be frequent as wrestlers work way too hard at live events and TV and don’t slow down to sell.

I would propose a challenge for Vince. Have Vince keep RAW as his baby. Put all of his guys on that show. Cena, Miz, Titus, Sheamus, Rusev, Ryback, Reigns, Orton, Primo/Epico, R-Truth, Paige, Summer Rae, Nattie, Tamina, Nikki Bella, Naomi, Mark Henry, Big Show, Strowman, Rowan, Harper, New Day, Kane, Usos, Swagger, Slater, Goldust, Fandango, Eva Marie, Dana Brooke, Ziggler, Darren Young, Axel, Dudleys, Bray, Alicia Fox, Brock, and Del Rio. Those are all Vince’s stars. Michael Cole and JBL on commentary.

For Smackdown, Vince should be 100% hands-off. Stephanie, too. Let Triple H run the show like he does NXT with his own crew. Even have different production people, so no Kevin Dunn style. Let him have: AJ Styles, Jericho, Balor, Samoa Joe, Nakamura, Owens, Zayn, Cesaro, American Alpha, Vaudevillians, Bo Dallas, Corbin, Aries, Crews, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Sasha, Charlotte, Nia Jax, Asuka, Enzo and Cass, Ambrose, Rollins, Emma, Lucha Dragons, Ascension, Gallows/Anderson, Neville, Breeze, and Ryder. Let Ranallo and Corey Graves commentate. Maybe Paul Heyman can be the on-screen GM.

I guarantee that SmackDown would become the higher rated show within 12 months.

NXT TakeOver Dallas & WrestleMania 32 Review

April 18, 2016

A few weeks ago, NXT TakeOver Dallas and WrestleMania 32 happened. I’ll summarize my thoughts of both shows in this post and I’m going to rank the matches from best to worst. This is combined for both shows, so it will help to demonstrate the overall quality of each brand.

  1. Sami Zayn v. Shinsuke Nakamura

This was easily the top match of the weekend. Hell, it was the best match in a WWE ring since Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25. I’m not a follower of a lot of professional wrestling outside of the WWE umbrella these days other than finding an acclaimed match from ROH, NJPW, or the like here and there. This match delivered so much that it could have main evented WrestleMania. The anticipation for Nakamura was completely insane. Added to that was the feeling that this was Zayn’s last NXT match and even though you knew he was losing, you wanted to see what he was going to do.

The crowd was amped from the time Zayn’s music hit until the time he walked back through the curtain. Watch the first post-TakeOver NXT show during the backstage interview with Austin Aries and listen to how deafening the crowd is. You can barely hear Aries. This match was incredibly smooth, yet also stiff at times. I thought Nakamura was overrated coming in, but he definitely has ‘it’. It’s the small things. The cocky attitude in the beginning, firing up when he tasted his own blood, the mannerisms. The guy is legit. Zayn was classic in the underdog role. He was the guy defending his home turf and not wanting the new guy to make his name at Zayn’s expense.

The forearm sequence was incredible. The entire sequence with the missed Helluva Kick into the suplex, to the dodged Boma Ye, to the Blue Thunder Bomb was insane. The kick to Zayn’s face as he dove for the DDT was insane. No botches and everything was practically perfectly executed.

NXT can hardly be referred to as developmental anymore. This was far above anything else I saw all weekend. Roman Reigns, you are not ‘The Guy’. Nakamura is ‘The Guy’. The only downside is that there is just no way anything in the future can live up to this match.

  1. Bayley v. Asuka (NXT Women’s Championship)

This was an unexpected result for me. I thought for sure that Asuka would come up short on her first try (akin to Zayn, Bayley, Balor, etc.). This was a really good match and very physical at times. Bayley took a few brutal-looking shots. This was also another one of those matches where the crowd is split. Asuka is popular and respected, but Bayley is Bayley. You have to be a sociopath to not like Bayley.

In the end, Bayley passes out to the Asuka Lock. The crowd was stunned in a way that says, “Asuka is cool, but we’re really sad that Bayley lost.” Bayley sold the dejection really well. Just a really good, dramatic match. Wikipedia says this went over 15 minutes, but it felt much shorter.

  1. Finn Balor v. Samoa Joe (NXT Championship)

This match would have been #2 if not for the multiple stoppages to clean up Joe’s face. I respect WWE’s efforts to improve wrestler safety and health, but sometimes things need to be allowed to play out. Joe’s blood was everywhere and there was a cut on his eye. Short of stopping the match immediately and hauling him to medical, the risk for an infection or something of that nature isn’t going to change. The blood definitely added to the drama (No blading, but a legitimate accidental head butt), but the stoppages just killed the flow and momentum early on. This match really picked up in the second half and these guys beat the hell out of each other. The finish was a throwback to the old Bret Hart finish – at least I recall him using it twice: against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8 and Steve Austin at Survivor Series 1996.

Balor added some blue into his attire and paint, which is brilliant. This guy has unlimited potential for merchandise if he stays healthy and stays over. As the Demon, he’s still undefeated. Who’s going to be the guy to beat him as that character? Without the stoppages, this match is easily the second best match of the weekend. That’s no knock because the Zayn/Nakamura match won’t be topped for years to come. Another surprising finish since I thought Balor’s main roster debut was imminent.

  1. Charlotte v. Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch (WWE Women’s Championship)

This was arguably the best match on the WrestleMania card. The build-up and videos were major. The entrances were major. The new Women’s Championship was major. The match was excellent with just a few sloppy spots (Sasha overshot a sunset flip off the second rope). Overall, there was some good drama. Charlotte’s moonsault to the floor was perfect. They all busted their asses and were given a good deal of time to have a great match. I would have preferred Sasha winning the title, but at least Charlotte retained/won in heel fashion.

Who would have ever thought in a million years that the women would have the best match on a WrestleMania card in 2016?

  1. American Alpha v. The Revival (NXT Tag Team Championship)

The crowd was hot for the opening match at TakeOver. Jordan and Gable are the best tag team the WWE has seen in a decade. Gable is like a mini-Kurt Angle in my opinion. Olympic amateur wrestler, deceptively strong, sells like crazy, lots of charisma. Jordan is perfect in the role of the big powerhouse waiting on the hot tag.

This match illustrated how tag team wrestling psychology is supposed to work. The Revival made a point to never allow Gable or Jordan to their half of the ring when they had them in trouble. They teased the tag a few times before Jordan finally got it. I might have moved this up a spot or 2 had there not been a really badly blown spot by the Revival.

The crowd was red hot for the finish and it was really cool seeing Jordan pretty much crying after the win. Really cool and well deserved.

  1. Ladder Match – Kevin Owens v. Sami Zayn v. Ziggler v. Miz v. Ryder v. Stardust v. Sin Cara (WWE Intercontinental Championship)

Let me start out with the good: Everything that Owens and Zayn did against one another. Zayn’s diving flip through the ladder to the floor and DDT through the ropes was incredible. Also, the half-nelson suplex that saw Owens go headfirst onto the ladder was just brutal.

The rest of the match was pretty standard ladder match fare. There was the ladder airplane spin spot that never looks as good as a wobbly legged Terry Funk doing it. There was the obligatory ladder broken in half spot. The finish was surprising. Zack Ryder won the title only to drop it to the Miz the next night and lose the rematch on SmackDown. So, the entire match was used to get Miz over and re-introduce Maryse the next night. Luckily, the Owens/Zayn feud seems to be continuing. Unfortunately, I feel like the payoff will come at Payback or some B-level PPV.

Either way, I’m not a big fan of multi-person ladder matches. The novelty has worn off and no one sells. Just a big spot fest usually.

  1. Chris Jericho v. AJ Styles

This was another good match between the two. We’d already seen them wrestle several times leading up to this, so there wasn’t much new. AJ obviously lost nothing from losing since he’s facing Reigns for the title at the next PPV, but it was a confusing finish taking the clean loss to Jericho. Solid match overall.

  1. Undertaker v. Shane McMahon

This match wasn’t really very good and it was way too long. It earns the #8 spot solely for Shane’s jump off the cage. Yes, there was an airbag under the table, but he still hit very hard. Again, the veteran Undertaker knows how to make a match good without using a move. His facial expression after Shane almost killed him told the entire story: “This guy was actually going to kill me to win.”

My gripe is that the match didn’t really matter since Shane McMahon went on to run RAW anyways for 2 weeks running. Also, these matches just don’t have the same effect without some blood. There are situations where blood is needed and it should be really rare. This is one of them. A bloody and lifeless Shane McMahon being brought back into the ring for the final tombstone would have been a more striking visual.

  1. Brock Lesnar v. Dean Ambrose

On the WrestleMania card, I would say this match was the biggest disappointment. WWE teased barbed wire bats, chainsaws, stairs, and other weapons. We know Ambrose’s history in CZW. Would there be glass? Tacks? How crazy would it get? In the end, there was a kendo stick and some chairs. I’m sorry guys, but this is a Street Fight with Brock Lesnar. Ambrose should have tried everything. He should have been being thrown through tables and onto tacks. There needed to be blood. The audience should have been saying, “Oh my God, this guy is bleeding, covered in tacks, and hurt really bad and he keeps getting up.” In the end, a suplex and F5 on the chairs ended it after only 13 minutes. There was next to no drama or excitement in this match.

  1. Baron Corbin v. Austin Aries

Tough first match for Aries. He was somewhat limited to what he could do against a bigger guy like Corbin. Still, there were a few really good sequences. Corbin losing via roll up was OK as it protected him for his main roster debut (more on that later) by making it seem like a fluke. Aries seems like a better heel though. I think he will go that direction soon enough.

  1. Triple H v. Roman Reigns (WWE Championship)

This match was what people expected. The crowd despises Reigns more than any heel other than Eva Marie in NXT. Instead of using WrestleMania as an opportunity for a swerve or heel turn for Reigns, WWE went ahead and gave him the clean babyface win. He even was able to spear a woman. I suppose he got his WrestleMania title moment so his family wouldn’t start killing members of the audience in protest.

No really, though. This match was 27 excruciating minutes long. And the show was running way over time as well. At least we didn’t have to listen to Flo Rida perform. Don’t work, WrestleMania 33 is in Florida, so you just know he’ll be back. This match had no business being the main event, but then again, what else was there? Shit, the women arguably could have main evented WrestleMania. Anyway, a very anti-climactic finish and ending.

  1. Andre the Giant Battle Royal

The good: Baron Corbin won. The bad: Where to start? Shaquille O’Neal showed up unannounced. I assume that was to build toward the inevitable ‘Embarrass the Big Show at WrestleMania’ match next year. Shaq against Big Show is a match that exactly no one is clamoring to see. A few people got entrances. Baron Corbin didn’t. Tatanka was randomly in there and not acknowledged for quite a while.

It was a standard boring battle royal. I’m just glad Kane, Big Show, Mark Henry, or someone else generic didn’t win.

  1. League of Nations v. New Day

This earned a spot this high solely for the New Day entrance and the appearance of Austin, HBK, and Foley. Inexplicably, the New Day loses the match. It wasn’t for the tag titles, though – that was never made clear at any point.

Could the post-match not have been accomplished even if New Day won? League of Nations could have beat them down post match and cut the same promo. Again, just a totally weird finish.

  1. Rock v. Erick Rowan

This was a 6 second squash and I still ranked it above 3 matches. This was fine. It may have been more effective to have just had the Wyatts get the upper hand on the Rock and beat him down only for John Cena to make the save.

  1. Kalisto v. Ryback (US Championship)

This was just awful. Ryback is the worst professional wrestler on the roster and that includes talents in NXT who haven’t wrestled a televised match in their career.

  1. Usos v. Dudleys

This match got 5 minutes. It was even more awful than Kalisto and Ryback. The Usos are a tired act. They’ve made no changes at all to their characters since the beginning. The crowd is slowly turning on them either from being featuring in Total Divas or by association with Reigns. Or because they’re generic and boring. And I can’t believe the Dudleys are in this position.

Finally, the worst match of the weekend goes to….

  1. Team Total Divas v. Team BAD and Blonde

This spectacle is everything that was wrong with the ‘Diva’s’ division. I’m not sure how Emma got roped into this since she had sort of reinvented her character in NXT. Hey Emma, here’s your second shot on the main roster and we’ll stick you with this 10-Diva tag team clusterfuck. The big story here was supposed to be Lana wrestling. Of course, since NXT is on the Network, we all know she doesn’t wrestle. She could be the only Diva with less ability than Eva Marie. How about Eva Marie being on the babyface team, by the way? Classic.

Anyway, Lana sucked as we expected. What irritated me the most is that most of the Divas were in the ring the next night on RAW as the new Women’s division was christened. Look, 80% of those women are not wrestlers. Paige, Natalya, and Emma can wrestle. The rest? I’d have future endeavored them that night.

WrestleMania 32 Part 4

March 23, 2016

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) v. Roman Reigns

WWE has done all they can to try to make Reigns a bad ass babyface. It isn’t working. Let’s start from the beginning. Reigns loses the WHC to Sheamus after a Sheamus Money-in-the-Bank cash-in. Reigns loses a TLC match to Sheamus after Del Rio and Rusev help Sheamus (legal in this match, technically). Post-match, he beats down all 3 guys. Then when Triple H comes out to check on Sheamus, Reigns strikes him first and beats him down. Triple H returns at the Royal Rumble and wins the WHC by winning the Rumble and eliminating Reigns. Triple H gets his revenge on Reigns by bloodying him up on Raw so Reigns can have a nose job and be off TV for a few weeks. Reigns comes back and attacks Triple H after a match with Dolph Ziggler (More on this moron later). He beats Triple H to a bloody mess. The following week, Reigns confronts Stephanie McMahon and assaults Triple H again inside his SUV. The crowd says Triple H is the babyface.

Triple H runs NXT, which is wildly over with the smark crowd. Triple H has a legitimately bad ass entrance and song(s). Triple H is at Legend status where a certain segment of the crowd is going to cheer for him no matter what. Triple H sells in the ring and works smart. The smark crowd hates Reigns. They’re trying to give Reigns that edge to make him cool, but the guy isn’t Steve Austin. He doesn’t have the charisma and can’t relate to the every-man like Austin could. He’s the sole member of the Shield who didn’t evolve their character.

Bottom line, this match has one option: Pull off a double-turn at WrestleMania. Triple H goes babyface and Reigns goes heel. In no way, shape, or form can this match go on last, though.

Brock Lesnar v. Dean Ambrose in a Street Fight

This match has had a solid build. It’s one of the few matches on this year’s card that I’m looking forward to and should probably be the main event, but it won’t be. I’ve enjoyed Ambrose’s interaction with hardcore legends like Foley and Funk since it pays homage to Ambrose’s roots in CZW. I do wish Funk had given Ambrose something more practical than a chainsaw – something he could actually use in the match. The only question left is how violent will this match be? It’s a different era nowadays. Will we see Ambrose being thrown into glass and thumbtacks?

Most people (Ambrose included) know he has no chance. Beating and bloodying up Brock before being completely destroyed will make Ambrose even more over than he is now. Ambrose doesn’t need to win and shouldn’t, but it needs to be a bloody fight.

Undertaker v. Shane McMahon in Hell in a Cell (If Shane wins, he gets RAW and Undertaker retires)

Last night, Vince announced in the most anti-climactic way possible that Undertaker’s career is over should he lose to Shane McMahon. He also called Undertaker his bitch. As with the previous match, we all know Shane McMahon has no chance against the Undertaker at WrestleMania in Hell in a Cell. That’s why Vince is taking this angle. Undertaker will thoroughly decimate Shane (Will we see him go off the top of the Cell?). As Vince watches from outside the cage, Undertaker will put Shane’s lifeless body on top of him for the 3 count. As a reward, Shane will reinstate Undertaker the following night and Vince gets his comeuppance for disparaging Undertaker.

I don’t see any other way for this to go unless there’s run-in interference. I’m more intrigued to see what lengths Shane McMahon will go to in this match to prove it belongs.

WWE Women’s Championship Triple Threat: Charlotte (c) v. Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch

This is probably the best case scenario for the women’s division. I was torn between this or Charlotte and Sasha one-on-one, but this is what all three deserve. I’m only concerned it won’t live up to the hype because WWE has really watered down Sasha’s character especially. Charlotte is an excellent heel. Becky’s character is borderline too much of a caricature. Sasha’s character needs to be a little over the top, not Becky’s. WWE couldn’t resist the tired approach of having the champion lose a non-title match as Sasha and Charlotte wrestled on Smackdown completely unadvertised. Sasha won with a roll-up, of course. I’m sure Becky will get her win over Charlotte on Monday. It’s really hard to believe how effective WWE is at ruining almost anything unless it involves a veteran with some creative pull.

I’d like to see Charlotte retain, but I’d take a Sasha or Becky win. A babyface champion would lead into maybe tossing that awful belt down on the ground on Raw in favor of a new ‘women’s’ title.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) v. Sami Zayn v. Dolph Ziggler v. Miz v. Sin Cara v. Zack Ryder v. Stardust in a Ladder Match

Kevin Owens (Steen) and Sami Zayn (El Generico) have a history dating back to 2003 in IWS, at least. Nearly 13 years. It is criminal that this feud on the main roster didn’t start (and continue!) beginning at the Royal Rumble. They’ve been tag team champions all over the world. They’ve killed each other all over the world for over a decade. Owens ruined the biggest moment of Zayn’s entire career in NXT. Owens beat Zayn unconscious and took his world title. Then tried to end his career a few months later. Zayn is the ultimate babyface (and over!) while Owens in the ultimate heel (and over!). I would have been sold on this show with this one match if built up properly.

Instead! The Miz is involved. I’m not sure why. Maybe as a reward for losing to Zayn on Raw? Next, we have Dolph Ziggler. I dislike Dolph Ziggler, the wrestler, more than just about any other guy on the roster. He bumps around like Curt Henning did as Mr. Perfect, which was obnoxiously bad. He’s been in WWE for a long, long time and I don’t really know what his finisher is. He exaggerates his selling so bad and then effortlessly gets all his moves in. His character is unlikable and his mic skills consist entirely of sarcasm. Not to mention he was given a match against Triple H last week on Raw. The condition was that if he won, he could have a spot in WrestleMania. He lost. The next week on Raw, here comes Ziggler to want to challenge for the IC title at WrestleMania. Announcers never acknowledged last week even happening. But hey! He beat the Miz on Smackdown.

Next up, we have Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, and Stardust. These guys were introduced by Owens as a joke and are presented as such. None of them are remotely over and none of them have won a televised singles match in years. All of this adds up to 5 perennial losers added to the IC title match with Owens and Zayn. What an absolute fucking waste. Don’t worry though. I’m sure it’ll get lots of ‘This is Awesome’ chants while guys take unnecessarily dangerous risks to get them by repeating the same spots done in the last 10,000 ladder matches. The booking of this match is the biggest disgrace on the card. Happy for Owens and Zayn being in a WrestleMania match, but my God, what a wasted opportunity.

WWE United States Championship: Kalisto (c) v. Ryback

This is actually happening. The championship match that should have been the multi-jobber ladder match is a singles match. Kalisto, who is routinely left off half the shows and therefore never has a chance to develop a character and get over, is facing Ryback. Ryback could possibly be one of the worst workers in WWE and is tied with Kane and Big Show for the title ‘Person looked at most indifferently by the crowd’. Seriously, Ryback segments are really uncomfortable. Any match that takes place in silence is uncomfortable. Ryback is embracing the whole ‘big guy’ mentality of WWE to try to be a heel. Unfortunately, he’s not in a position to exploit that (like Reigns would be). It leads to complete indifference. This is just an awful match. Will Kalisto overcome the muscle-bound moron? Who cares?

New Day v. League of Nations

Apparently, the tag team titles won’t be defended at WrestleMania. The League of Nations guys needed on the WrestleMania card, so now we have a 4 on 3 handicap match. It must be a reward for the League of Nations for losing 2 consecutive unearned title shots cleanly in 3 days. Maybe this is for the tag titles. Does anyone even know? New Day is pretty over, so them losing here to a group of guys that don’t even register to the audience anymore would be horrible booking. Expect to see more one-on-one matches between the teams and trading wins because that’s the only way WWE knows to book a feud.

Usos v. Dudley Boyz

This match was made after the Dudleys turned heel by attacking the Usos and putting them through the tables. Bubba Ray and D-Von know how to be good heels because they actually know how to work. It’s baffling how much announcers don’t let the audience know that they are literally the most decorated tag team in the last quarter century. Regardless, as the Usos are tied in with Roman Reigns and Total Divas, the smark crowd has turned on them. Not evolving the characters since their debut doesn’t help either. Despite the Dudleys being very good heels, they’re going to be the fan favorites at WrestleMania. Why they aren’t ‘forced’ into a Tables Match is beyond me. My guess is that it is because the only way they can be booed is to tease tables in a regular match, but not deliver.

Andre the Giant Battle Royal

This was finally announced by placing the trophy at ringside at Raw. Big Show is going to participate to ‘defend’ his trophy. Big Show is also now a babyface again. Kane is also now a heel or something. Only 6 of the 20 participants have been announced as of today – 11 days before WrestleMania. I was thinking that this would be a good opportunity for a major return or debut, but I now see that this match is on the pre-show (Are you kidding me?). I expect something routine like Strowman winning this year. Smart booking because the crowd won’t be in their seats to boo Strowman as heartily as they would have during the actual main show. It should be noted that this battle royal will feature 3 of the worst 4 workers in WWE (Antique Kane, Antique Big Show, and Strowman). I assume that this will include the entire Wyatt Family, Social Outcasts, Big Show, Kane, Tyler Breeze, the Matadors, Goldust, R-Truth, Fandango, Jack Swagger, Ascension, and Mark Henry. Then literally every actual active wrestler on the roster will be on the card.

Tamina, Naomi, Lana, Emma, and Summer Rae v. Brie Bella, Paige, Natalya, and Alicia Fox

In an angle set up on Main Event (Not kidding), we apparently have another 5 on 4 handicap match. It’s the Total Divas against the other Divas. Then again, I don’t think Lana has ever wrestled a match in front of a live audience, so she isn’t really a wrestler. Also, is she all non-Russian again since she is wearing her trashy Dolph Ziggler outfits again? It’s really hard to believe this has a spot on the main WrestleMania card as it represents the very worst of the old Diva division. If there is a mystery partner for the babyface team (Being generous), there’s no way WWE is naïve enough to have it be Eva Marie. If so, the crowd response to this will be worth it alone.

Chris Jericho v. AJ Styles

This match is happening, but it still hasn’t been officially announced. This should probably be the main card opening match because they can get the crowd worked up.

WrestleMania 32 Predictions (Part 3)

March 4, 2016

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) v. Roman Reigns (Official)

 

04-March: With Reigns out selling the nose ‘injury’ from last week and no Brock on TV, the focus was shifted to Dean Ambrose challenging Triple H. This World Championship match has been officially announced for a Network special on March 12. I’m a little confused by this match. Does Reigns return and attack Triple H while costing Ambrose the title? Does Brock run in to assault Ambrose and cost him the title? Reigns isn’t over, so this could just be a way to try to get heel heat on Triple H by having him beat Ambrose. It wouldn’t work. Plus, do you want the guy who is about to have a Street Fight with Brock Lesnar to lose to Triple H a few weeks before? The Reigns/Triple H match has surely been downgraded to a semi-main event to save face when the crowd craps on Reigns winning the belt. Or maybe there will be a double turn where Reigns goes heel and Triple H goes babyface.

Brock Lesnar v. Dean Ambrose in a Street Fight (Official)

 

04-March: There was almost no focus on any further developments between Brock and Ambrose. Instead the focus was on Triple H and Ambrose, which isn’t going to happen at WrestleMania. Instead, it builds to a Network special on March 12. The worst thing WWE could do would be to have Ambrose pin the IC Champion or something on Smackdown or RAW to try to ‘build him up’ for Triple H. WWE is in trouble when they can’t even effectively use 4 weeks of TV to build WrestleMania’s other semi-main event. I also just read that Ambrose pinned Kevin Owens in a non-title match on Smackdown. Of course.

Undertaker v. Shane McMahon in Hell in a Cell (Official)

 

04-March: Shane wasn’t on TV this week. Undertaker appeared and was all like, “Cool, but his blood is on your hands, Vince.” Then he left. Judging by Shane’s training tweets, it looks like this match will indeed happen for real. I really don’t know what happens in this match. Shane either takes a ridiculous beating and bumps all over and loses or takes a ridiculous beating and bumps all over only for Undertaker to pull his lifeless body on top of him and allow himself to be pinned. I assume the former option as there are rumors of a brand split coming back. It would make sense for Shane to take over Smackdown. Currently, the talent isn’t there for something like that. Once Cena and Rollins return along with NXT call-ups like Balor, Zayn, Samoa Joe, Aries, Nakamura, and others, it is doable.

WWE Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) v. Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch (Official)

 

04-March: Sasha and Becky had a good #1 contender’s match on RAW that ended with a draw (and a stupid finishing spot). Same kind of deal on Smackdown. The match was made official last night. This match needs Sasha and Becky since they’re better in-ring workers. Charlotte is great, but I still recall Sasha and Becky’s NXT title match being excellent. Taking Charlotte out temporarily so they can wrestle for 5 minutes would be great.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) v. Sami Zayn

 

04-March: Kevin Owens was finally back on TV Monday. He lost to Big Show via count out. I just read the SmackDown results and he lost clean to Ambrose. Safe to say there will be no Sami Zayn match and it will instead be some 6-7 person clusterfuck of a ladder match involving the rest of the lower mid-card to get them on the show. Total waste of an opportunity to build a feud that people will care about. Maybe the IC title match can be built around jobbers stealing the IC belt from each other every week. What a huge missed opportunity.

WWE United States Championship: Kalisto (c) v. AJ Styles

 

04-March: For some reason, despite AJ Styles being among the top 2 pops during live events, he has seemingly been paired with Jericho in a tag team. I won’t even use the tag team name because it is so awful. They have a tag title match next week that will undoubtedly end in a DQ or something. Could WWE waste another guy like Styles in a tag match at WrestleMania? You know it. I assume that Jericho and Styles will face the New Day for the titles at WrestleMania. There must not be any big plans for Kalisto, who is still US Champion. He and Sin Cara did the job to the League of Nations on RAW this week. Kalisto is a fun guy to watch wrestle, but there’s almost no character development. That means I increasingly care less. He likely ends up on the pre-show.

WWE Tag Team Championship TLC Match: New Day (c) v. Usos v. Dudleys v. Golden Truth

 

04-March: I’m keeping this match here because there is so much going on that no one cares about that it still might happen. The Usos and Dudleys are having a feud right now that I’m not sure anyone cares too much about. The Dudley’s as anti-table heels likely plays well to the live event crowds, but the smark crowds are going to cheer them over the Usos. Does anyone remember why the Dudleys hate the Usos? I don’t. All this time, I also thought it was R Truth trying to be Goldust’s partner. That’s how bad the storylines are: I can’t even remember what happened week to week.

Stardust v. Stephen Amell

04-March: This match will occur on Twitter as they trade snarky 140 character insults during the pre-show tag title match.

Andre the Giant Battle Royal

 

04-March: This still hasn’t been announced. The favorite is likely still (ugh) Ryback who has been dominating such superstars as Adam Rose. But at least he didn’t almost break Luke Harper’s shoulder this week with a sloppy finisher! Speaking of the Wyatts, I don’t remember seeing them on TV this week. If you tune in to the WWE Network on March 12, you will get to see Brock Lesnar break Bray in half, though.

John Cena returns

04-March: No updates here. I still think he is somehow involved in the Hell in a Cell. Special referee?

Flo Rida Performs

04-March: This is inevitable since there’s always some awful R&B/rap filler concert. What’s hilarious about it is that the audience for this show is the last audience that is probably streaming Flo Rida right now. You have to buy food and use the bathroom at some point, though. My old hope is that Kevin Owens power bombs him off the stage through a table.

Other Predictions

04-March: Here’s a list of other predictions.

  • Crowd pop of the night: Stone Cold Steve Austin
  • OMG/Holy Shit moment: Whatever insane bump Shane McMahon takes
  • Total time wasted for video recaps before every match: 25-35 minutes
  • Loudest booing: Roman Reigns
  • Number of suplexes given to Ambrose: 14

WrestleMania 32 Predicted Card (Update)

February 23, 2016

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) v. Roman Reigns (Official)

22-February: There’s no way this match can close the show, so it won’t be the true main event unless a major swerve happens akin to Austin joining Vince at WrestleMania 17. Even then, Reigns isn’t over like Austin was (and no one ever will be). Reigns turning heel to defeat Triple H is about the only thing you can do because the WrestleMania audience will treat Triple H as the babyface since he gives the smarks NXT and is applauded for it (rightfully so).

That said, however unappealing, the match makes sense. Reigns ‘hospitalized’ Triple H with a beating after a PPV last year. Then Triple H, practically heroically, returned at the Royal Rumble to take the title. Authority angle aside, Triple H is the babyface in this scenario. It’s just not a match I’m interested in seeing. I feel like an underdog like Ambrose would have been better suited since he is generally popular and would be a huge crowd favorite in the match.

23-February: Last night at Raw in Detroit, Hunter was the clear babyface to the majority of the vocal audience. Not helping was the fact that Triple H showed up looking like a legit bad ass. Then Reigns attacked him first. After Reigns squirted blood all over himself, Triple H gave him a pedigree on the stairs. As Michael Cole lamented the ‘sickening scene’, the crowd chanted One More Time. WWE has a lot of work to do.

Brock Lesnar v. Dean Ambrose in a Street Fight (Official)

22-February: It was rumored that the Bray Wyatt had been scrapped as Brock’s opponent in favor of Dean Ambrose. I can’t say I understand the choice. At least with Wyatt, Brock would be essentially fighting 4 guys. Hell, I’d have had Lesnar (via Heyman) challenge them to a 4-on-1 handicapped No-DQ match. He’s a monster babyface by default since he’s reached that legend / attraction status. That does Ambrose no favors. The idea of a total underdog taking on Lesnar is appealing, but Ambrose hasn’t been booked to be credible in that respect. Ambrose hasn’t displayed the ability to get really beat up and then kick out. 6 weeks isn’t enough time to make that happen. I’m skeptical of this match, but we’ll see. Who else is there for Lesnar?

23-February: This match is now official after the pre-show beat down by Lesnar and subsequent challenge by Ambrose. The Street Fight makes sense. It’s the only way Ambrose has a believable shot. Even with such rules, I still don’t buy into it. Lesnar and CM Punk pulled it off a few years ago, but Punk is in a different league than Ambrose in every aspect. Ambrose was a bit too theatrical selling his injuries when he jumped out of the ambulance. He could have and should have limped to the ring with a purpose and traded blows before getting his ass kicked. Ambrose is one of the most over baby faces on the roster right now, for better or worse. I’ll reiterate that people pay to see Brock beat people up. Once again, this was echoed by the crowd chanting for one more F5 on a decimated Ambrose.

 

 

Undertaker v. Kurt Angle Shane McMahon in Hell in a Cell (Official)

22-February: The rumor is that Undertaker’s opponent was someone not on the active roster currently. This is my guess and I assume Angle will not sign a contract and only work this one match because no way he passes WWE’s medical.

23-February: Well, I never saw that coming. 46-year-old Shane McMahon who hasn’t worked a match in 6 years is going up against Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. Shocking? Yeah. Logical? No. How about Vince dropping the F-Bomb on live TV? I’m skeptical that this match happens because it’s not logical in any way. Shane is supposed to be the baby face and he’s going against Undertaker who, like Lesnar, is going to be soundly cheered. For Shane to remotely stand a chance, the deck will have to be stacked AGAINST the Undertaker. The same guy who is 21-1 at ‘Mania and survived essentially a 2 on 1 Hell in a Cell against HBK and Triple H. Plus, I don’t want to see the now much older and father, Shane McMahon, take a crazy 20 foot bump. This has to lead to Shane McMahon finding a surrogate to wrestle this match. John Cena as the back-up plan? If he’s able to return, he takes Shane’s place somehow? If not, Shane goes through with it?

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) v. Sami Zayn

22-February: This is a no-brainer to me. These two have so much pre-WWE history. Owens shows up and beats Zayn by TKO to take his NXT belt. Then tries to end his career in the rematch. Zayn’s been waiting over a year to get his revenge. My God, this writes itself. The smark crowds at Mania and Raw will eat it up. My only worry is that Zayn is likely getting beat by Nakamura at NXT Dallas.

23-February: Hard to believe, but Kevin Owens wasn’t featured on RAW at all.

WWE United States Championship: Kalisto (c) v. AJ Styles

22-February: AJ Styles needs a semi-high profile match. I think this would be a solid opener to get the audience going. Styles goes over, of course.

23-February: WWE didn’t allude to AJ Styles’ opponent at all, but it increasingly looks like there may be another match against Jericho. I was just waiting on Jericho to turn on him last night. It would be a great match, but I just don’t see the point if that’s the case.

WWE Women’s Championship Triple Threat: Charlotte (c) v. Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch

22-February: This is another match that needs no explanation. I’m torn between the Triple Threat or just a Charlotte v Sasha match. Becky deserves to be in it, though. This could be really, really amazing.

23-February: It looks like Sasha and Becky will wrestle to see who faces Charlotte at WrestleMania. Since Charlotte can book matches now. There’s a chance there is controversy that leads to the Triple Threat, but Becky is trending the way of being the odd one out.

WWE Tag Team Championship TLC Match: New Day (c) v. Usos v. Dudleys v. Golden Truth

22-February: I just threw this match out here because these guys need something to do.

23-February: I’m thinking this match ends up on the pre-show as a potential Fatal Fourway that also includes the silly team of R-Truth and Goldust.

Stardust v. Stephen Amell

23-February: I guess this has to happen for the 10-12 people who care about it.

Andre the Giant Battle Royal

22-February: This is for the other guys not being used. No way Bray Wyatt gets a high profile match after his boys lost to the team of Ryback, Kane, and Big Show. Social Outcasts can be in here. The League of Nations guys. Ziggler can be in it. There’s no doubt Braun Strowman goes over in what has gone from a star building exciting match in year 1 to a dull mess by year 3.

23-February: No mention of this on RAW, but you know it’s coming. Ryback has to be a favorite now after the worst heel turn in wrestling history last night. No, he’s thinking about himself, so after participating in a 15 minute snooze fest, he walks out on his team while they’re winning. All of that to literally no crowd reaction. This followed the most silent baby face hot tag in wrestling history when Kane got the tag from Big Show.

John Cena returns

23-February: I’m sticking to my above prediction that if he’s healthy, he takes Shane McMahon’s place in Hell in a Cell against Undertaker.

WrestleMania 32 Card Predictions

February 22, 2016

I’m posting my theoretical WrestleMania 32 card. This isn’t so much a fantasy card, but I’m trying to be realistic based on injuries and such. WWE needs to sell over 100k tickets and I just can’t see it happening. Anyway, here goes. This will be updated to reflect actual matches because I’m likely wrong about all of this.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) v. Roman Reigns (Official)

There’s no way this match can close the show, so it won’t be the true main event unless a major swerve happens akin to Austin joining Vince at WrestleMania 17. Even then, Reigns isn’t over like Austin was (and no one ever will be). Reigns turning heel to defeat Triple H is about the only thing you can do because the WrestleMania audience will treat Triple H as the babyface since he gives the smarks NXT and is applauded for it (rightfully so).

That said, however unappealing, the match makes sense. Reigns ‘hospitalized’ Triple H with a beating after a PPV last year. Then Triple H, practically heroically, returned at the Royal Rumble to take the title. Authority angle aside, Triple H is the babyface in this scenario. It’s just not a match I’m interested in seeing. I feel like an underdog like Ambrose would have been better suited since he is generally popular and would be a huge crowd favorite in the match.

Brock Lesnar v. Dean Ambrose

It was rumored that the Bray Wyatt had been scrapped as Brock’s opponent in favor of Dean Ambrose. I can’t say I understand the choice. At least with Wyatt, Brock would be essentially fighting 4 guys. Hell, I’d have had Lesnar (via Heyman) challenge them to a 4-on-1 handicapped No-DQ match. He’s a monster babyface by default since he’s reached that legend / attraction status. That does Ambrose no favors. The idea of a total underdog taking on Lesnar is appealing, but Ambrose hasn’t been booked to be credible in that respect. Ambrose hasn’t displayed the ability to get really beat up and then kick out. 6 weeks isn’t enough time to make that happen. I’m skeptical of this match, but we’ll see. Who else is there for Lesnar?

Undertaker v. Kurt Angle

The rumor is that Undertaker’s opponent was someone not on the active roster currently. This is my guess and I assume Angle will not sign a contract and only work this one match because no way he passes WWE’s medical.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) v. Sami Zayn

This is a no-brainer to me. These two have so much pre-WWE history. Owens shows up and beats Zayn by TKO to take his NXT belt. Then tries to end his career in the rematch. Zayn’s been waiting over a year to get his revenge. My God, this writes itself. The smark crowds at Mania and Raw will eat it up. My only worry is that Zayn is likely getting beat by Nakamura at NXT Dallas.

WWE United States Championship: Kalisto (c) v. AJ Styles

AJ Styles needs a semi-high profile match. I think this would be a solid opener to get the audience going. Styles goes over, of course.

WWE Women’s Championship Triple Threat: Charlotte (c) v. Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch

This is another match that needs no explanation. I’m torn between the Triple Threat or just a Charlotte v Sasha match. Becky deserves to be in it, though. This could be really, really amazing.

WWE Tag Team Championship TLC Match: New Day (c) v. Usos v. Dudleys

I just threw this match out here because these guys need something to do.

Andre the Giant Battle Royal

This is for the other guys not being used. No way Bray Wyatt gets a high profile match after his boys lost to the team of Ryback, Kane, and Big Show. Social Outcasts can be in here. The League of Nations guys. Ziggler can be in it. There’s no doubt Braun Strowman goes over in what has gone from a star building exciting match in year 1 to a dull mess by year 3.

John Cena returns.

Brooklyn RAW Crowd / “Diva Revolution”

August 25, 2015

Opinions are mixed on the Brooklyn crowd’s disrespect toward the Raw Divas match featuring Team Bella (Brie, Nikki, and Alicia Fox) against Team PCB (Paige, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch). I’m of the opinion that it was appropriate. Not toward the new Divas, obviously. They’re just doing what they’re told. The chants from the crowd were more directed to WWE decision-makers. It was the realization that the “Diva Revolution” was just another trendy hash tag fad that tried to take advantage of the recent momentum of women in sports (Rousey, USA Soccer, Serena Williams, etc.). The crowd realized that it was disingenuous, like most of what WWE’s main product puts out these days. If you needed any other proof that it’s a branded tagline with no meaning, count how many times JBL and Cole say ‘Diva Revolution’ during their segments. It’s enough to want to make me mute the TV. Not because I’m anti-women’s wrestling, but because it’s so forced that it makes me want to cringe.

First, you have to start from the beginning of what’s wrong – and what is wrong with WWE in general. There are very few storylines. Sure, the main event feuds typically have storylines, but they’re generally vague and lack logic. NXT women’s wrestling works because not only can they work a match, they can tell a story. It’s back to basics. Wrestling is good overcoming evil. The babyface is held down, screwed, and always comes up short while the heel cheats their way to the top. The babyface finally overcomes heel. Why was Bayley against Sasha Banks so amazing at NXT Takeover? Not just because they had a great match – those can be a dime a dozen. It’s because people had a reason to emotionally invest. Bayley was down and out again and she overcame Sasha and beat her – fairly. I mean, just the promo video before the match got you fired up. There was a finish without interference or timekeepers ringing the bell. Kevin Owens against Sami Zayn worked because they had history and a storyline. I mean, there are still massive portions of fans that think Undertaker is a babyface just doing what he has to do to win. That’s a direct result of the idiocy of WWE announcing these days. I could see Undertaker sacrificing a litter of kittens in the ring and JBL screaming, “HE’S JUST DOING WHAT HE HAS TO DO TO WIN.”

Back to RAW. Since debuting, the Divas have been on teams. Sasha is saddled with the incumbent Naomi and Tamina. Becky and Charlotte are saddled with Paige. Team Bella is saddled with Team Bella. With the exception of possibly Paige, the incumbent Divas don’t know how to work the crowd and tell much of a story. I also think that they have no interest in doing so and instead are more concerned with keeping their spot and backstabbing – this is wrestling, after all. Would you rather model, be on an atrocious reality show, and work 2 minute matches or be paid the same to do the same and bump around 10-15 minutes a night and possibly have your lack of talent exposed? It’s also nearly impossible to get over by having endless 3-woman tag matches with no meaning or backstory. We are forced to sit on our hands until Nikki breaks AJ Lee’s title reign record because personal grudges are more important to McMahon. Instead of the obviously more talented new women squashing the current Divas, they were subjected to not only being forced to sell for them, but to trade wins – essentially rendering the entire thing pointless. After watching those women in NXT, the idea that Brie Bella could pin one of them is as realistic as Bo Dallas taking Brock Lesnar out, yet Brie pinned Becky at one point.

Monday night was the culmination. The most popular Diva, Sasha, wasn’t even on the show. What we got was an absolutely awful promo where the Divas bickered amongst each other about absolutely nothing, which lead to yet another 3-on-3 tag match that also meant nothing for the winners or losers. This match lasted somewhere around 15 minutes and 75% of the match was Team Bella working rest holds on Team PCB. It ended with Alicia Fox pinning someone. Some Divas Revolution. It was an awful match. Why was it so awful? Because there is no storyline. Who cares who wins because it means nothing?

Triple H said this weekend that he doesn’t just put the NXT women in the main event; they earn their way into it. WWE is forcing the Divas to have more time, but not giving them any opportunity to earn it. Sometimes I wonder if it makes Triple H sad that he has to watch people that he made stars in NXT are marginalized and snuffed out in WWE. NXT just sold out a 15,000 seat arena with a roster of independent wrestlers and development talents. Pretty much every match on the card and the wrestlers were OVER with the crowd. Is it genuine? Is it just the audience rejecting the bland, meaningless WWE product? Who knows, but I do know Triple H can promote and book a wrestling show. I look forward to the day that he takes over WWE, but he’ll be saddled with Stephanie, who I think is just as clueless as Vince.

WrestleMania XXXI, Part 3

March 9, 2015

Not much is new and we are only 20 days away from WrestleMania. That’s pretty shocking. There are 3 announced matches. Lesnar against Reigns and Sting against Triple H are official. Undertaker vs. Wyatt is not official yet. The Intercontinental championship ladder match is announced, but no one knows all the competitors yet. Also, apparently you can just steal the IC belt and it then belongs to you. I can write about the stupidity of this match build-up whenever it actually exists in all its glory.

The Andre Battle Royal is also happening. We don’t know who all is in it. I stand by my Miz/Mizdow scenario I mentioned in my last post. Mizdow has yet to officially enter as of Monday afternoon.

The only other announced match was today, on social media of all godforsaken places. AJ & Paige against the Bella Twins. I only ask why? Why? It’s WrestleMania. This tag match is some throwaway Raw or Smackdown contest. WrestleMania should have importance. Why is this not a Fatal 4-Way for the title? You can tease the past animosity between AJ and Paige. You can also revisit the Bella feud that was never really explained. It makes for an unpredictable match (everyone for themselves) and with the exception of Natalya, those are the 4 best female workers on the main roster.

Instead, a meaningless tag team match. WrestleMania everyone!

As a side note, now that Stardust is involved in this IC title garbage, it seems that a long awaited brother against brother WrestleMania match is off the table. Another massive waste. You know Daniel Bryan will end up in this ladder match, right? I mean, we are 20 days out and the most popular star in WWE isn’t booked in a match officially. Darren Young and Zack Ryder are officially booked on the card. Daniel Bryan is not. He will be, but as of right now: Nope.

WrestleMania XXXI, Part Deux

February 24, 2015

I’ve already discussed Roman Reigns to the point of nausea, so I won’t spend any more considerable time on him unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks.

Let’s move on to the rest of the card. The second main event will be Sting vs. Triple H. We all know Triple H can still perform at a high level. Anyone who doesn’t understand that either has some kind of bias from listening to ‘wrestling reporters’ who get a majority of their scoops from disgruntled former talents or perceived slights or someone who doesn’t watch the product. They say he ‘buries’ talent, which is silly. Almost every long term top star engages in politicking to stay on top. People ‘bury’ each other at your workplace. Let’s not act shocked that Triple H may have done the same a decade ago. His work with NXT shows that he clearly understands the business far better than you or me. Given the same control over WWE’s main roster, I assume the quality of the show would improve significantly.

Anyway, we know Triple H can go. The question is: Can Sting? What is a reasonable expectation for this match? Sting is 55 years old. He was sucking wind at Fast Lane after his exchange with Triple H. I never watched Sting in TNA/Impact/whatever-they-call-it-now, so I don’t know how his work has been the last year. If I had to guess, this match will be less like the Triple H / Daniel Bryan match last year and more physical with a focus on brawling. Will there be a stipulation? A consequence? I don’t know. Maybe if Sting wins, Triple H is out of power again?

I think the goal of the match will be a feel good story. Sting gets his WrestleMania moment in a main event role and overcomes the heel Authority. If you don’t go into it expecting a 5-star match (what is that anyway?), I think it’ll be a satisfying ordeal. At least, I think Sting wins. It would make no sense for him not to come out on top.

The third main event will be Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker. I’m a little torn about this. It reminds me of CM Punk in 2013. Punk lost the title to Rock and basically had nothing to do, so he went against Undertaker at WrestleMania. It seemed like a pointless deal. At least Undertaker was still undefeated at that point. Now, Undertaker is coming off a loss. There is no more Streak. Since Undertaker shaved his head, he really shows his age. His match quality has gone downhill since about WrestleMania 27 (End of an Era Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 28 masked that weakness). I’m sure a vocal minority of fans will whine when Wyatt loses, but there’s no other way this ends.

I’m just not sure what WWE is trying to accomplish. Wyatt lost to John Cena last year. I question that to this day. Cena loses nothing with a loss, but Wyatt would have gained more credibility. Is Undertaker retiring after WrestleMania 32? If that’s his farewell, I understand his return this year in order to build to next year. That’s a big ‘what if’. As far as Wyatt, what’s the plan? Where is he going? He hit a reset of sorts after splitting from Harper and Rowan and now he’s likely going to take another WrestleMania loss. Then what?

Maybe he will beat Undertaker, but I seriously doubt it. Again, not looking for a spot fest here. These guys will have to rely on some good psychology and figure out a way to tell a compelling story. We’ll see how it plays out leading up to the match. If anything, maybe we’ll see a more old-school Undertaker against Wyatt in terms of the character. That would be interesting.

I’ll move along to the 2nd annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Since Miz has announced his intention to enter it, that takes a Miz against Mizdow singles match off the table. On one hand, I’m disappointed. On the other hand, they still have a great opportunity. Common sense says that Mizdow also enters the match and the final 2 competitors are, you guessed it, Miz and Mizdow. Miz tells Mizdow to jump over the top rope and eliminate himself and we get Mizdow selling a tough choice. The crowd grows louder and louder until Mizdow finally snaps on the Miz and wins. Guaranteed massive crowd pop. I’d open WrestleMania with this match and scenario.

The rest of the card will be me speculating as no other matches have been officially announced. The rest of the card should look like this and I’ll address them if or when they are official:

  • Usos and Naomi vs. Cesaro, Kidd, and Natalya
  • Intercontinental Championship: Wade Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose
  • United States Championship: Rusev vs. John Cena
  • Stardust vs. Goldust
  • Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton
  • Diva’s Championship: Nikki Bella vs. AJ Lee or Paige or ?
  • Daniel Bryan vs. ?

Hold on, we are 33 days away from WrestleMania and Daniel Bryan, the most over wrestler on the roster, has no storyline?!

WrestleMania (XXXI) – Reigns vs. Lesnar

February 23, 2015
Featured image

Image Credit: Levi’s Stadium / WWE

The WrestleMania XXXI main event is seemingly set in stone. As a side note, WWE is apparently not interested in counting WrestleMania numbers anymore, but I am (notice that it is yet to be referred to as ‘WrestleMania 31’, just as ‘WrestleMania’ with an animated play icon). Seems like a bad decision, but that’s par for the course in many cases with WWE recently. No, really – counting is fun. It immediately lets you know how long this has been going on. I can hear Vince now: “We aren’t sports, pal. We’re sports ENTERTAINMENT and you don’t see the Academy Awards LXI, pal! Har har har, poop jokes!”

Whatever. I respect Vince McMahon a lot. I mean, who wouldn’t? He took a small regional territory and turned it into a global, billion-dollar enterprise. He was a visionary, took risks, and worked enough for 3 lifetimes. Now that I’ve said that, Vince McMahon, currently, is simply left behind. He has no incentive to change and I think he’s too stubborn to acknowledge it anyway. On more than one occasion, Mark Madden has stated (paraphrasing here) that less people watch wrestling today than did during the late 90s. Hell, less people watch WWE today than watched WWE alone in the late 90s. That’s not an accident – it’s a downward trend.

Back to the WWE World Championship match. Roman Reigns will challenge Brock Lesnar. The Memphis crowd was dead for Reigns at Fast Lane. To be fair, the Memphis crowd was dead all night, which is a shame. The WrestleMania crowd won’t be dead. That leaves WWE with 3 options, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, let me talk about the apparent rejection of Roman Reigns.

Let’s look at Roman Reigns, the singles competitor. I’ll start with the break-up of the Shield. Reigns was in the Money in the Bank ladder match for Daniel Bryan’s vacated championship. He didn’t win and was largely an after-thought. He then lost a 4-way for the World title at the Battleground PPV which, again, featured nothing remarkable. Reigns then beat Randy Orton at SummerSlam is an arguable dud of a match. Reigns was then injured and out until he returned for a run-in on the John Cena / Seth Rollins match at the December TLC PPV (And to receive his inexplicable 2014 Superstar of the Year Award). In addition, during his absence, we were treated to the most awkward via satellite promos possibly ever from Reigns. They were painful to watch. We were then treated to a series of matches against the Big Show that Reigns won by DQ or count out. Reigns then won the Royal Rumble with assistance from the Rock. Reigns then defeats Daniel Bryan at Fast Lane to get to the title match.

So, what happened? Reigns was popular and generally well-liked after the initial Shield break-up. Even though Rollins and Ambrose were the initial two stand-outs to feud with each other, Roman just hung around. At SummerSlam, I recall the crowd response to his match against Orton being poor. There were a few factors at work in that event. First, the match was very slow and plodding up until the finishing sequence. Second, Reigns had the aura of inevitability around him – he was the guy. He wasn’t immediately rejected because Daniel Bryan’s return status was up in the air, so who else was there?

Following Reigns’ legit hernia injury, WWE had him record short promos to keep him relevant in the minds of the fans. This did 2 things. First, it made it obvious that Reigns was going to WrestleMania to go for the title. Daniel Bryan wasn’t live via satellite every other week. Second, it exposed Reigns’ biggest weakness – his lack of charisma and inability to connect with the crowd. Then Reigns returns to a tepid reaction at TLC. He starts cutting promos that McMahon himself wrote that are more corny than anything Cena has ever said. After the promos and some uninspiring and downright awful matches with Big Show, it seemed clear that it wasn’t Roman’s time. Is it ever anyone’s time? I don’t know.

Unfortunately for Reigns, Daniel Bryan announced his return for the Royal Rumble. In order to temper the impact, WWE had Bryan return to the ring on a Smackdown taping and even take a clean loss to Bray Wyatt on TV. The hope was that it would lower expectations for Bryan in the Rumble as WWE had to anticipate a 2014 repeat. Bryan came out in the first half of the Rumble and was tossed over 10 minutes later in very anti-climactic fashion. On my Twitter, I said they just lost the crowd. Indeed they did. Everyone who entered after that point was resoundingly booed. Reigns made his entrance and was booed. At this point, the crowd became ‘anyone-but-Reigns’. As Ziggler, Ambrose, and Wyatt were dumped over the top rope like garbage by Big Show and Kane, the crowd realized that Reigns was inevitable. WWE planned ahead and out came the Rock to save Reigns from Big Show and Kane and … they booed. Rusev came back into the ring and was dumped over without a fight. Booing. The look on the Rock’s face tells the whole story.

At this point, we have Reigns defeating Daniel Bryan clean at Fast Lane. The goal was to have Daniel Bryan take Reigns to a great match (he did) and try to make Reigns look like gold. Unfortunately, the rejection of Reigns is nothing personal. He’s going to be great one day. The problem is that Daniel Bryan is the most over baby-face in WWE. He is organically popular despite WWE’s best attempts otherwise. Vince likes to say that Daniel Bryan isn’t over, just the ‘Yes’ chant is over. Sure Vince, and the Rock’s catchphrases were over and not the Rock himself. Reigns just hasn’t done anything to ‘earn’ it in the eyes of some fans. I have no idea what merchandise sales look like, but I’d be shocked if Reigns was in the Top 5.

Now we come back to WrestleMania 31. WWE has 2 options with this match. If Lesnar re-signs with WWE, they have a 3rd option that is essentially the only option.

  1. Reigns beats Lesnar and Rollins cashes in to win the title.
  2. Reigns wins after Heyman turns on Lesnar and aligns with Reigns.
  3. If Brock re-signs, he beats Reigns.

Option 1 will send the crowd home happy. Yes, a heel unfairly beating the supposed baby-face newly crowned champion would turn the sea of boos into a celebration. WWE writing and announcing is to thank for that. Option 2 will accept the sea of boos and use Heyman and Reigns turning heel to play into it. Option 3 is a no-brainer. Lesnar crushed the Streak. He eviscerated Cena. He destroyed Cena and Rollins at once. He should crush Reigns and hold the belt until WrestleMania 32.

Bottom line, if Lesnar doesn’t re-sign, he has to lose. You either have to play into the crowd reaction or swerve them with Rollins. I guess you could put the match on in the middle of the show and close with Triple H / Sting and Undertaker / Wyatt and have Reigns go over clean. What’s left for Daniel Bryan? Nothing of any substance, unfortunately. He doesn’t care, though. He’s making damn good money and just likes to wrestle.

I’ll write another post soon on the rest of the card.


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