Posts Tagged ‘Daniel Bryan’

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?!

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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.

WWE WrestleMania XXX Update

March 12, 2014

It would appear that I spoke too soon. In theory, WWE has saved WrestleMania XXX. I use the phrase ‘in theory’ because buy rates will be largely irrelevant in the new age of the WWE Network live streaming the events, so a poorly received event won’t be as evident when a lot of people won’t be asking themselves if it’s worth $70 this year. I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect this. I was 99.5% sure that WWE would stick to Orton/Batista and just position that match conveniently after Bryan/HHH or Undertaker/Lesnar, with the other one being used at the actual main event.

Several things could still happen at WrestleMania. WWE is beyond capable when it comes to completely screwing something up (Brock Lesnar’s 2012 return, Big Show’s entire career, the Invasion angle, AJ Lee’s rise in 2012, ECW’s relaunch, etc.). Daniel Bryan almost definitely is going to get the win over Triple H. Of course, he could still be ‘screwed’ out of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That’s my one fear at this point. Batista was brought back for a reason (To win the title and display it during his promotion of the Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy movie). He was also brought back at great expense as well. Vince is going to want the return on that investment.

I’m pretty certain that Bryan wins out and has his WrestleMania moment, though, but I was also pretty certain that he wasn’t going to even be in the match.

Aside from the ‘Big 4’ matches that are official, how is the rest of the card coming along? The answer is that I don’t know. The inclusion of a largely meaningless 30-man battle royal seems to indicate that there won’t be a whole lot of time invested into much else. I realize that the battle royal is symbolic and the winner will receive the Andre trophy, but how about offering a legitimate reward? A mid-card title shot or maybe the final two get a tag team title shot following the match. Regardless, this is going to make sure everyone on the roster gets on the show, which makes me wonder how WWE will handle PPV payouts in the era of the Network and decreasing PPV revenue.

I’m in the dark about the direction WWE is going with the Shield. Since Bryan is going to make the main event a Triple Threat, a Shield implosion/Triple Threat seems unlikely. It’s never a good idea to have two of the same kinds of gimmick matches on the same card. Maybe that’s why the Shield is seemingly together again since those plans changed. What will they end up doing? I have no clue.

The only other real feud that seems to be building for WrestleMania is Cesaro and Jack Swagger. Again, I could see a Triple Threat with those two against Big E for the Intercontinental Championship, but as I said previously, the Triple Threat gimmick would be overkill if used in more than 1 match.

I would assume that leaves room for a Women’s Championship match. I’m still leaning toward AJ against Tamina (Sort of like HBK vs. Diesel/Kevin Nash back in 1994-5), but WWE has yet to tease any tension between the two and the clock is ticking. Maybe the Usos and Outlaws will have their blow-off match at WrestleMania at this rate as well. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

One final thing, do you think Undertaker regrets the decision to shave his head? I’m not a fan of the shaved head. Or wrestler’s who don’t wear boots or shoes, but that’s a topic for another day.

That’s how it’s shaping up. I’m cautiously optimistic at this stage.

WWE WrestleMania XXX Thoughts

March 6, 2014

Photo Credit: WWE

WrestleMania XXX is just around the corner. Theoretically, the 30th WrestleMania should be the biggest one ever. Not so much in terms of attendance (The Super Dome can’t hold over 93,000) and not in terms of Pay-Per-View buy rates (Due to the WWE Network, PPV buy rates won’t touch the ~1 million they’ve been averaging for the last decade). Rather, it should be the biggest WrestleMania in history simply due to the milestone. The 30th WrestleMania should be ridiculously loaded from start to finish. A new era should be ready to begin. Hulk Hogan dominated from WrestleMania I through WrestleMania IX. The New Generation/Attitude Era went from roughly WrestleMania X until WrestleMania XVII. The Invasion/Brock Lesnar Era lasted From WrestleMania XVIII to XX. The John Cena Era has endured since WrestleMania XXI.

By most accounts, the pieces are (were) there for the change to happen. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, AJ Lee, Paige, and other NXT talents should be the present and the future. Those names are just off the top of my head. Heading into WrestleMania XXX, I am slowly starting to realize that the actual event, as grand in scale as it may be, is going to be awful.

I am going to explore some of the main event-level matches and explain how I would do things differently and how the audience will likely respond to WWE’s version- starting with the WWE Championship.

1.  WWE World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton vs. Dave Batista

This is the main event of the biggest (In terms of milestones) WrestleMania, ever. The first WrestleMania with the newly recognized WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE gives the audience THIS pile of BS. Before I get to the Batista debacle (and that is putting it nicely), let me discuss Randy Orton’s storylines and booking heading into the event. Last summer, Orton was booked to continue getting screwy wins over Daniel Bryan. In the short-term, people were furious. In the long-term, what kind of payoff would it be if Bryan triumphantly overcame it all when it mattered? Am I right? It would be tremendous.

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WWE RAW Review (09 July 2012)

July 10, 2012

Here we go with another WWE Raw review – this time for Raw #998. Michael Cole called it #999 to open the show, so that should give you a sign that this show was a debacle. TNA is receiving fairly universal acclaim for their PPV Destination X this past Sunday, so what will WWE do to try to steal at least some of their thunder? I’ll warn you, they basically crapped on everyone’s TV screen.

The show opened up with AJ skipping to the ring. Blah, blah, blah, and out came CM Punk. Eventually, AJ proposed marriage to CM Punk before being interrupted by Daniel Bryan. Bryan then proposed to AJ instead. Punk and Bryan argued back and forth and the stupid iPhone text jingle went off. You know what this means – the Anonymous RAW GM is back. The computer booked AJ & Punk vs. Bryan & Eve as the main event. Quick, name one mixed tag match that has been awesome… Time’s up! Couldn’t think of one? What’s that tell you? Those types of matches suck? If so, you’re smarter than the WWE writing team.

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WWE RAW Review (25 June 2012)

June 26, 2012

Raw improved marginally from last week, but that isn’t saying much. It’s like going from an F to a D-. Starting from the beginning, Vickie Guerrero is the guest GM. It turns out that the permanent GM will be revealed at Raw 1000, which means these next 3-4 shows are just going to be throwaway shows as they prep for a huge 3-hour Raw 1000. Anyway, Guerrero announced Punk vs. Bryan vs. Kane in an unannounced Triple Threat elimination match. OK, two problems here. First, this match had no hype whatsoever prior to right now. Second, this is an exact rematch from the No Way Out PPV 8 days ago. You cannot continue to make people regret spending money on a PPV. They are extremely expensive nowadays. Sure, it wasn’t a 20-minute match, but still, you’re giving it away on free TV 8 days after it aired for $55 on PPV.

Despite that, the match is fine. It was nothing special and the finish protected all 3 wrestlers. It moved the AJ/Kane/Bryan/Punk story forward. Kane was pinned after distraction and Bryan got the pin on Punk by blindsiding him, more or less. Moving forward, it sets up Punk vs. Bryan II at the next PPV. You can’t really be upset about that. Hopefully, it’s a clean match and Kane doesn’t get involved.

Next up, Vickie makes a Ziggler vs. Del Rio match to determine the #1 contender for the World title on Smackdown. That seems kind of rushed and pointless. Shouldn’t these guys be trying to get in the MITB match instead? Vickie makes this an ‘object on a pole match’. Those are never pretty. Ziggler comes off in the segment looking strong. Last thought on this: Vickie is Ziggler’s manager, so why doesn’t she just book him in the title match on Smackdown? If she isn’t loyal to him, why didn’t he just dump her? It’s silly things like these that make the product look cheesier than it is.

Next up, Big Show vs. Brodus Clay. Here’s another example of WWE just blowing potential PPV matches. A month ago, Show laid out Brodus. In response, Brodus was switched to Smackdown brand, which I don’t understand because I thought the brand split was over, yet they still treat it like it exists sometimes. Brodus ends up playing a part in stopping Big Show in the cage match at No Way Out. Ok, so there’s a nice little feud here and it gives the WWE somewhere to go with Big Show and Brodus at this point. Nope, WWE decides that it’s best to throw together a rematch unannounced on RAW. Clay comes out walking just fine despite having a bad knee from some attack on Smackdown. I don’t watch Smackdown, so I have no idea what happened. He gets in a tiny amount of offense, but Show mostly dominates him and gets the easy pin. Then as Clay is being helped out, he gets KO’d by Show again.

This accomplished two things. First, the aging and stale Big Show is a monster. Great. Second, Brodus is a novelty act. The only way this will remotely help Clay is if he returns and takes Big Show out. Knowing WWE, they’ll forget about this and Clay will be dancing on Smackdown next week.

Then, a skit with AJ and Kane is next. Don’t care. The US Championship is being defended this week. Turns out Santino is done feuding with a ring announcer and doing 90-second jobs to Del Rio. It also turns out that the jobber, err, Santino, is also holding a meaningless title. His opponent, Jack Swagger, earned his title shot by losing to Ziggler last week. I know it makes a lot of sense. Shockingly, Santino beats Swagger. Swagger is a former World Champion, so just like the Miz; he’s just being buried weekly.

John Cena is out next to announce his big announcement that he promised on Twitter. Is he retiring or taking a break? Doubtful. He calls the majority of the WWE audience a bunch of 9-year-olds. Thanks, asshole. Way to shit on probably 70% of the audience. He goes on and on with his childish promo which surprisingly didn’t contain any homophobic slurs. Right before he makes his announcement, he gets interrupted by Jon Bon Jovi. No, wait – it’s a returning Chris Jericho. Jericho trashes Cena and says a few things that the non 9-year-olds are thinking. Cena then announces he wants to be WWE Champion again and stop Big Show, so he’s in MITB. The non 9-year-olds with a collective eye roll since we know Cena will likely be given an 11th title reign. Jericho announces he’s also going to be in the MITB.

Out comes Vickie, who says they can’t just enter themselves in the MITB. I was wondering if they’d address that. Big Show has an out because he’s got his contract and does what he wants, I guess. She then announces that only former champions can compete, so Cena and Jericho are in anyway. Well, that was pointless then. Why not start out with that stipulation? She also sets up Jericho vs. Cena tonight. There’s another potential fresh PPV match going for free tonight. There was a joke about WWE being PG in there, but I missed it.

Next, the return of Sid Vicious/Sycho Sid that kept with the Raw 1000 theme. Sid’s looking rough. I saw a quote from someone that said something along the lines of, “Sid looks like he’s seen some things, some bad things,” and that’s pretty accurate. All that aside, it was fun and I enjoyed it. Thank God he didn’t jump off the second turnbuckle, though. If you don’t know what that means, search “Sid Ankle” on YouTube.

The contract on a pole match is next and this was terrible. I’m all for Ziggler getting a push, but this was a disaster. These pole matches are always absolutely stupid, but this took it to a new level with them trying to pick up the dropped clipboard. Sheamus randomly walks out and says he’s excited because Vickie says it’ll be a triple threat match for the title at Smackdown. This is so dumb on so many levels. Once again, Vickie undermines her guy, Ziggler, by booking him in a triple threat. And Sheamus is so stupid, it hurts. He’s excitedly announcing the match even though it puts him at an extreme disadvantage as he won’t even have to be pinned to lose his title. Jerry Lawler pointed this out, but was probably quickly screamed at for making sense in his headset. The only good thing about that match was stopping it.

Now here’s a Diva’s battle royal while they wear bikinis. Yeah, this is a PG show. AJ wins after the travesty you’d expect.

It’s main event time. Cena and Jericho. It’s an OK match until the Big Show comes out. He distracts Cena and Jericho puts Cena in the Wall of Jericho. Show comes in and leg drops Cena, earning Jericho a DQ. Jericho backs off and Show puts Cena in half camel clutch, sort of. More like a choke out. So show pulls back on Cena choking him out and it reminded me a little of Chris Benoit with his Crossface, which is probably how he murdered his son. Turns out the anniversary of that was the day before. Great idea to leave us with that image, WWE. Stay classy. And for those of you who say that’s just a coincidence, this is Vince McMahon we’re talking about. There are no coincidences. This is the man who runs the anti-bully campaign on the shows and then openly mocks a man’s disability on the show.

So, Raw was better than last week, but the PPV is shaping up to have a pretty weak undercard. Not that it matters because all the PPV matches will be on RAW and Smackdown, I’m sure. Next week, don’t hold your breath for Lesnar to be there. They aren’t advertising an appearance, just his ‘answer’. It’ll likely be a taped interview or a lawyer/Heyman delivering the news.