Who Will, Who Won’t, & Who Might Win The 2017 Royal Rumble

royal-rumbleFor years now, the Royal Rumble has been one of my favourite events of the wrestling calendar. There’s just something about the format that keeps me on the edge of my seat. Whether it’s the surprise debuts, the surprise returns, the great performances for either lasting the longest or eliminating the most, or simply the idea of not knowing who will be going to WrestleMania to “main event” a WWE championship match…it’s almost always exciting and unpredictable.

reigns-wins-rumbleOf course, it’s not ALWAYS unpredictable. When Roman Reigns won two years ago, it was absolutely predicted and people shit all over it. But for the most part, you never really know for sure what’s going to happen at the Rumble and/or who is going to win.

That has never been more apparent that the 2017 Royal Rumble.

While there are currently a couple of front-runners, there is a legitimate possibility that up to SIX different individuals could realistically win the Rumble this year. I think it’s only fair to review those options here (and, really, it’s the point of this whole post):

Braun Strowmanbraun-strowman

braun-strowman-3It pains me to say this, but Strowman is the odds-on favourite at this point to win it all. After initially coming to RAW, Vince’s new favourite performer was initially given a gimmick of “unstoppable monster defeating local jobbers” on a weekly basis (helping to give James Ellsworth a job on Smackdown Live, actually). But then, all of a sudden, he “graduated” to main event player in Survivor Series and has been dabbling with the likes of Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, & Roman Reigns on a weekly basis. They are obviously getting him ready for a main-event run, so having him win the Royal Rumble makes sense.

The (very tentative) plan would to have Strowman win the Rumble, Roman Reigns beat Kevin Owens for the WWE Universal championship at the Rumble, and then for the two of them to meet in a “main event championship match” at WrestleMania. But here’s the rub…

braun-strowman-2They would NEVER be allowed to go on last. In fact, with potential match-ups of Cena vs. Taker, Goldberg vs Lesnar, and Triple H vs Rollins…the “main event championship match” could be placed anywhere else on the card without any pressure. This is a PERFECT opportunity for Vince & Company to see what Strowman can do on the biggest show of the year against his “top guy”. If Strowman sucks ass, then khali-vs-undertakerhe’ll be relegated to Great Khali territory by the end of the year (remember Khali being World champion and even pinning Undertaker at one point??). If Strowman performs at or above expectations, then you can count on seeing a LOT more of the guy over the summer months. It’s really a win-win situation for WWE because even if the match sucks ass (which it will), nobody will remember it when Mania is over.

braun-strowman-4Of course, this all might be incredibly insane to believe if the next opponent lined-up for Strowman is Big Show, who made it a point to say he was gunning for Strowman at the Rumble on this week’s RAW. In fact, Strowman wasn’t even included in the main event portion of the show, as WWE insinuated that Undertaker, Goldberg, and Brock Lesnar were the three biggest stars with potential to win it all.

The Undertakerundertaker-1

taker-vs-shane-mcmahonThe original plan (and has been for awhile now) was to have Undertaker face off against John Cena in a big-name, marquee match-up (assuming Cena wins the WWE World Heavyweight championship from AJ Styles). Last year’s injury to Cena meant that Taker had to face Shane McMahon in a major gimmick match in order to give him something to do. Having him wrestle his last WrestleMania match against “The Face That Runs The Place” would make sense, helping to set-up Cena as truly one of the best in WWE history.

taker-1Lately, though, the suggestion is that the Taker/Cena match is (again) off the table…perhaps saving it for when Taker really wants to retire. At this point, though, it looks like he’s prepared to do the part-time wrestling thing (similar to Brock Lesnar’s schedule, but a bit heavier) and after appearing on both Smackdown Live and RAW recently, the number of possible opponents for Taker to take on is quite large. He doesn’t need to win the Rumble to have a different, marquee match-up at Mania…but him winning a championship opportunity would certainly be an intriguing choice.

Chris Jerichochris-jericho-2

chris-jericho-1Let’s assume that Kevin Owens sneaks past Roman Reigns on Sunday. This means that Jericho would have a championship opportunity at WrestleMania against his “best friend”. And much to the chagrin of Owens, this is something Jericho has mentioned in promos lately as being a distinct possibility. The storyline of “Jeri-KO” has gone on a lot longer than most anticipated, which means that their WrestleMania match could mean that much more if Jericho were to go after Owens’ title.

jeri-ko-1On the other hand, Jericho just won the United States championship from Roman Reigns on RAW. This allows Reigns the “freedom” to win the WWE Universal championship from Kevin Owens at the Rumble and for Jericho to be the one defending his title against (former) BFF at Mania.

Jericho has won everything there is to win in WWE…except the Royal Rumble match itself. Will this be his year?

Bill Goldberggoldberg-2

goldberg-1I never thought I would have even suggested that Bill Goldberg had the potential to win the Royal Rumble until his post-Brock Lesnar-victory speech on RAW, where he suggested that Stephanie McMahon had asked him if he still had one more title run in him. And you can’t watch Goldberg on television and think the guy isn’t “over” anymore. The chants of “GOOOOLD-BERRRG!!” are loud and constant. Hell, even Paul Heyman is getting those chants goldberg-3without Lesnar by his side. This says that Goldberg is still uber-popular and with his quick victory over Lesnar, a win at the Rumble (which doesn’t take a ton of stamina to perform in as compared to a normal match) would cement him as a legitimate championship contender for the WWE Universal championship at WrestleMania.

And as much as it sounds crazy to write down, there is very much a possibility of Goldberg taking on either Roman Reigns or Kevin Owens for the title at Mania, as both possibilities have been teased on recent editions of RAW.

Samoa Joesamoa-joe-3

samoa-joe-1Honestly, I wouldn’t have even thought this was possible until realizing that the betting odds on the Rumble, as of this writing, have Samoa Joe listed at just 6-1 odds. Why in the world would they have him that high considering the fact that he hasn’t even debuted on the main roster yet??

joe-vs-stylesWWE reportedly has BIG plans for the Samoan Submission Machine, which includes a marquee matchup at WrestleMania. There are rumblings that the WWE wants to match Wrestle Kingdom 11’s stellar “six-star match” between Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada. One match that has the potential to reach the same type of rating is one that has been done before to five-star results: Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles.

samoa-joe-2So if WWE is as big on Joe as the rumours have it, then having him be a surprise debut at the Royal Rumble and then going on to win the whole thing would certainly be an incredible way to make a massively large statement. It sounds insane when you write it down, but when you think about it (and assuming the rumors on backstage thoughts on him are true), this is extremely feasible.

Finn BálorFinn Balor

No, Finn Bálor’s shoulder isn’t quite ready for a comeback yet. It’s better, for sure, but he’ll be defying the odds in a Cena-esque way by making it back to WrestleMania, much less the Royal Rumble. So realistically speaking, Balor probably won’t even show up in the Rumble match.

Finn Balor 3But here’s the thing: you don’t need to do much to participate in a battle royal. There’s not usually a ton of bumps or injuries that take place inside of the ring (the injuries happen once you’re thrown over the top rope). So I suppose if you put it into that type of perspective, it’s entirely possible that Bálor (currently sitting at 5-1 odds) could make his surprise return as a late-Rumble entrant.

If he does, the first-ever WWE Universal champion has as good a chance as anybody at winning the whole thing…especially if the “WWE machine” wants to get behind “The Demon” one more time and try to push him to the moon again.

There are a few dark-horses to win it all, too…

  • sami-zaynSami Zayn – Yes, there’s been talk of backstage heat and yes, he’s been getting his ass handed to him as of late, but Zayn is the perennial underdog favourite of the fans for a reason. I honestly don’t see this happening, but if he were to win then he’d probably lose his shot at Mania to Braun Strowman who would then face Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship. See? There are multiple ways to get to the finish line here…all while still putting over one of their most popular superstars in the process.
  • dolph-zigglerDolph Ziggler – After his recent heel turn, it’s still unlikely that Ziggler will be put into a position to actually win the Rumble, but if AJ Styles somehow gets past John Cena and retains the WWE World Heavyweight championship, then we could be in for a hella-great match between the two of them on the “Grandest Stage of Them All”. Of course, with Jerry Lawler doing commentary for the Rumble, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Lawler somehow costs Ziggler by eliminating him (or at the very least, causing a distraction that leads to his elimination). I’m hoping that’s not the case, but this is WWE we’re talking about here.
  • randy-ortonRandy Orton – I’m not exactly sure how “Orton in the main event title picture” goes with his current storyline as a member of the Wyatt Family, but his current odds are at 3-1 (just behind Goldberg!), so I suppose it’s a distinct possibility. Somebody may have to explain his odds to me, though…I just don’t understand the rationale of him winning given his past few months of storyline progression.
  • rusevRusev – I’m admittedly a huge mark for “The Bulgarian Brute” and, quite frankly, he’s not been pushed in the best spot since dropping the United States championship to Roman Reigns awhile back. But Rusev continues to turn chicken shit into chicken salad…even out-promo-ing Shawn Michaels on a recent RAW live in-ring segment. Vince & Company are still very high on Rusev’s future, as the package deal of he and Lana are great both in the ring and outside of the ring. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll win, but there’s still a chance given how Triple H says the winner will surprise most fans.

Finally, in terms of those who could still potentially win the Royal Rumble but probably WON’T…

  • NO.gifBrock Lesnar – I don’t see the benefit of Lesnar being in a championship match at Mania when there are other stars who can carry the show. What’s scary is that outside of Goldberg, there is actually serious talk of putting Lesnar in the ring with Braun Strowman as a way to really test him out.
  • no-4The Miz – No, Miz had his shot at being the face of the company and it worked for a bit before he was pushed back down the card. Now he’s seemingly poised to eventually beat Chris Jericho’s record of being a nine-time Intercontinental champion. It doesn’t make sense to suddenly thrust him into the main title picture, even if his gimmick with wife Maryse is making him a super-hot heel on Smackdown Live right now.
  • NO.gifBaron Corbin – I know the guy won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in his main roster debut at WrestleMania last year, but I just don’t see “the machine” getting behind Corbin on Smackdown Live. At least not yet, anyway. Corbin still has a ways to go before being considered a legitimate threat at any major title, so I can’t see him being put into that type of position with a Rumble victory at this point in his career.
  • Kenny Omega – It’s highly doubtful that Omega is even going to make a surprise debut at the Royal Rumble, much less win the damn thing.

no-2

All told, the 2017 Royal Rumble looks to be an incredibly entertaining event. There are so many surprises that could take place and, really, the end result is still completely up in the air. Because of that, I’m absolutely STOKED to watch it.

But what about you? What are your thoughts on this year’s Royal Rumble? Do you think there’s a heavy favourite to win?

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The World According to ZAH

The World According to ZAH 2

  • WWE Womens WrestlingThe biggest rumor heading into this weekend is that on Monday, the WWE Divas Championship will be renamed WWE Women’s Championship on RAW. I think it’s a perfect time to make this particular change simply because the company is in the era where you have beautiful women who are able to actually WRESTLE…so the term “diva” just doesn’t seem to fit the new generation of women athlete. Plus, I think in an era where you have Rhonda Rousey and Miesha Tate headlining different UFC pay-per-views to record numbers, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Sasha Banks vs Charlotte headlines a WWE pay-per-view at some point over the next year or two.
  • NEGANThe Walking Dead’s 90-minute finale this weekend brings us the debut of Negan. For anyone who is vaguely familiar with the comic, Negan is an incredibly important part of the ongoing zombie apocalypse story. Based on his introduction in the comics and the numerous warnings to fans that this episode will “break the internet”(Rick Grimes himself, Andrew Lincoln, has stated that he believes that Negan makes ‘the greatest entrance ever written’), I expect either Glenn or (gasp!) Daryl to be killed by Negan’s barbwire-covered baseball bat, Lucille.

  • NakamuraIt looks like Shinsuke Nakamura will be known simply as Nakamura in WWE. The official WrestleMania 32 program lists only his last name, so maybe this is the only change made. I like the idea, actually. You can still exploit his global reputation and fan base with “Nakamura”, yet not really confuse the English-speaking casual fan masses with “Shinsuke” at the beginning. I think this works just fine. I’m giddy with excitement about his debut tonight.

Nakamura-1

  • WWE-Cruiserweight-ShowWWE has announced working partnerships with (as of today) three indy promotions (EVOLVE, Revolution Pro, and Progress Wrestling) that will host qualifying matches for the upcoming Global Cruiserweight Series. It will be very interesting to see what other indy promotions will get some of this fantastic exposure. I mean, any local promotion that has any type of working ties with WWE will automatically get “the rub” and, in turn, it will help the entire industry as a whole over the long run. While larger promotions such as New Japan or Ring of Honor may not be participating, I anticipate working relationships to be announced PWG logofor indies such as Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (based out of California), Zero-One (based out of Japan), and at least one indy promotion from Canada, Australia, and possibly Germany. This really could be a truly GLOBAL tournament and is quite exciting.
  • And speaking of the Global Cruiserweight Series, the first six names have been announced as participants:
    • Zack Sabre Jr
    • Johnny Gargano
    • Rich Swann
    • Tommaso Ciampa
    • Noam Dar
    • Ho Ho Lun
    • Akira Tozawa

Ho Ho LunOut of this group, the only one I’m unfamiliar with is Ho Ho Lun (pictured right). Apparently, he’s a wrestler from Hong Kong who has done some work with Zero One in Japan. Other than Lun, though, the rest of the initial participants has me SUPER excited about this tournament. To me, the initial front-runner is already Sabre, Jr…who is widely considered the best technical wrestler on the planet today. But I’m also stoked to see Tozawa compete under the WWE banner. This tournament has the potential to be fucking bad-ass!!

  • Batman v SupermanIs Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice really that bad? Obviously, the opening weekend numbers broke box office records from around the world, but the current Rotten Tomatoes scores is a dismal 29%…although the audience score is at “71% liked it”. I was originally going to see it with my 9 year old this weekend, but he said that the movie trailers didn’t interest him and he has no desire to watch it. Huh…thankfully I downloaded Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will be watching NXT TakeOver: Dallas with him on Saturday, so all is not lost.
  • As normally is the case this time of the year, rumours are flying around left and right about multiple items in the industry. One of the most insane ones is that Goldberg will return on Sunday night to help Shane McMahon defeat the Undertaker (WHAT?? Seriously??). The one that’s rampant, though, is that there have been multiple Triple H vs Vince McMahon issues backstage over…
    • Shane McMahonTriple H downplaying the popularity of Shane McMahon before his return. In fairness, though, I don’t know if anybody really anticipated the crowd reactions that Shane has received since his return. Three months ago, I would have firmly been in the corner of “Shane-O-Mac isn’t that big of a deal”…so I totally understand Triple H’s side of things…IF this is true.
    • Shane vs Vince vs UndertakerTriple H not seeing Shane as a “legit contender” for the Undertaker. Again, I think I’m firmly in Triple H’s side on this. Even now, I do NOT see Shane as someone who can actually defeat the Undertaker straight up (even IN a Hell in a Cell match).
    • The AuthorityVince being under internal pressures to name his successor, but is using Shane as “leverage” against Triple H and Stephanie because he doesn’t want them taking it for granted that they’re next in line. I don’t even know what to say about this one because as much as I have respect for Shane, I’m completely against him taking over the company. I firmly believe Triple H’s vision is what’s “best for business”.
    • The RockVince wanting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson returning for a match at Mania, but Triple H thinking that having him in a non-wrestling role would be good enough. Again, I’m firmly on the side of Trips in this case because I don’t want to see Rock in a wrestling role right now. I realize that it may have been difficult to fill the 100,000-seat AT&T Stadium without him (especially with all of the injuries to top-tier performers over the past few months), but it was probably going to happen with the proper marketing campaign anyway. Having Rock take a spot away from someone who could be a future superstar of the company is just wrong. If there is any time to make superstars for the future, it’s NOW.

I hope these rumors aren’t true because the LAST thing WWE needs right now is backstage conflict. If there was ever a time to come together and try to build a new future for the company, it’s now.

  • UFC 200 - McGregor vs Diaz IIConor McGregor vs Nate Diaz II (at 170lbs) will take place at UFC 200 on July 9th. I really think that this fight will bring out a side of McGregor that we haven’t seen in a really long time. I predict McGregor will destroy Diaz their rematch. His losing one match will light a fire under his ass that hasn’t been there since he started his UFC career. I can’t wait for this rematch to take place.
  • Dean Ambrose vs Brock LesnarA rumor I read this week was that Vince was seriously considering putting Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar on last as the main event on Sunday. Is this something that could actually happen? Is Vince finally aware that Triple H vs Roman Reigns has the potential to be disastrous? Why isn’t Shane vs Undertaker going on last? The possibilities are fantastically fun and I can’t wait to find out how WrestleMania Hell…I’m STILL wishing on a star for a Reigns heel turn.
  • CoryXKenshinWhere is CoryXKenshin?? The popular YouTube gamer was putting up daily videos for months and then…POOF!!…he vanished without a trace and hasn’t been anywhere on social media for over a month now. My son is a massive fan of his (and I appreciate the fact that he plays games and doesn’t curse to be extremely entertaining, which is tough to find online these days) and asks me constantly if Cory has uploaded a new video yet. I don’t know where he is, but I hope he returns soon. He’s a great influence on kids and his “never give up” attitude makes him an excellent role model.
  • Andre the Giant 3rd Annual Memorial Battle RoyalCould Cesaro be a surprise entrant in the Andre the Giant 3rd Annual Memorial Battle Royal? He’s in Dallas and is scheduled to wrestle on the post-Mania European tour, so I believe that anything is possible at this point. With Braun Strowman the front-runner to win, I’m not sure if his return will be needed.
  • World of WarcraftAs someone who has never played World of Warcraft, I’m using the movie trailers as a way to get acclimated with the product. I don’t really care about the love story, but the creatures look bad-ass and the battle scenes look sick. I’m looking forward to this movie. What are your thoughts? For any WoW players out there, does this movie interest you at all?

  • Solomon Crowe 3Sami Callihan (aka Solomon Crowe in NXT) will be appearing in Lucha Underground Season 3. While saddened at Callihan’s departure from NXT, he left on his own terms and I fully expect him to be showcased in Lucha Underground. I’m really looking forward to the continuing series as it truly provides a unique alternative to the current gluttony of “same ol’ sports entertainment”.
  • Forbes’ Chris Smith recently wrote an editorial about WWE’s highest earning Superstars last year. Here is the current Top 10 from 2015:
  1. John Cena MoneyJohn Cena – $9.5 million
  2. Brock Lesnar – $6.0 million
  3. Triple H – $2.8 million
  4. Randy Orton – $2.7 million
  5. Seth Rollins – $2.4 million
  6. Roman Reigns – $2.1 million
  7. The Undertaker – $2.0 million
  8. Big Show – $1.5 million
  9. Kane – $1.3 million
  10. Dean Ambrose – $1.1 million

Obviously, Trips is making that much because of his combined contributions to the company (both inside of the ring and out). The rest of the group makes perfect sense because of (a) their spots on the card and (b) their tenure in the company. It’s awesome to see newer performers like Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose doing so well. Despite what Vince may think, these three ARE the future faces of the company and could be this generation’s Rock vs Stone Cold vs Triple H.

  • Gargano & CiampaBoth Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa reportedly have deals in place with WWE that are similar to Samoa Joe’s original deal, meaning that both are contracted with NXT but don’t train at the Performance Center and are able to accept independent bookings. I think that’s really great for them, but I don’t know if I truly understand how this helps NXT in the long run. If they become a full-time touring brand, then I guess I understand it. I think the end result may simply be a bigger interest in independent wrestling with some of these “big” names appearing on the cards. So maybe it really is a good thing in the end and makes sense.
  • After being surprisingly entertained by the fantastic Lego Movie last year, my initial hesitations about the upcoming Lego Batman Movie have disappeared after watching the first two initial teaser trailers…

  • Bryan Danielson & Brie BellaBrie Bella is retiring early to start a family and help take care of Bryan Danielson. I’m not actually upset about this because I have never been the biggest fan of Brie to begin with. But I’m glad to know that she’s going out on her own terms. She’s had a great WWE career, has become a reality television star because of Total Divas, and now is married to the love of her life. If now isn’t the perfect time to start a family, I don’t know when is.
  • Nikki BellaNikki Bella’s neck isn’t healing as quickly as predicted. Nikki will meet again with doctors in July for a CAT scan to determine whether the bone in her neck has fused — but regardless, she was told a full-time ring return will never be possible based on the severity of her injury. I’ve always thought that Bella was over-rated in the worst kind of way, so this doesn’t bother me in the slightest. If this means that Nikki does less wrestling and more photoshoots in bikinis, then THAT is only a good thing.

Nikki Bella

  • It’s all about the Vader-dick. I’m glad I didn’t see the uncensored pic because…goddamn. Welcome to 2016, Leon!

VaderPenisSub

  • Will we be seeing a “Dallas Demon” tonight at NXT TakeOver: Dallas? I sure as hell hope so because damn, check this out…

Dallas Cowboy Demon

  • The Wrestling Observer Newsletter Roman Reigns 5reported information on a recent marketability study that included top WWE superstars. The most interesting part is that Roman Reigns (i.e. the guy that everybody supposedly hates) ranked fourth on the roster in marketability behind only John Cena, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. As far as listening to fans and pushing certain people, Dean Ambrose apparently did pretty good in the survey but was far behind the top four. Unfortunately, Kevin Owens did not poll well at all. We all know what that means for the Internet Wrestling Community’s “potential savior”.
  • John CenaThe Observer also noted one major retailer said the top five selling shirts for their national chain were (in this order): John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. So for those of you still hating on Reigns, you need to realize there is a HUGE difference between the casual WWE audience and the hardcore WWE audience. Anybody who claims otherwise simply doesn’t understand how the business works.
  • Sisters…a YouTube show that I was super excited to watch (because Lana…duh!!). Unfortunately, the show sucks a big bowl of dicks and at this point it’s only getting worse. Just check out this one “episode” for yourself:

  • Song of the Week comes from The Offspring. There’s no rhyme or reason why…just that it’s a song I had forgotten about but I absolutely love. It’s one of those “crank it up” type of tunes.

RAW Thoughts

We’re two weeks away from WrestleMania and the card is NOT living up to expectations. With a main event that has the potential to be a complete disaster in terms of crowd reaction, how will WWE try (again) to build-up Roman Reigns as the “babyface of the company”?? Roman Reigns 16

Roman Reigns vs Stephanie McMahonI liked how Roman Reigns handled himself on the mic in last night’s opening segment. The problem, though, is that it was way too little too late. He should’ve been playing the “bad ass of few words” for months now. Short’n’sweet promos so his fists do the talking for him. Sigh…I just can’t help but feel bad for the guy. The segment wasn’t bad at all and was enhanced by just how incredibly hot Stephanie was looking last night. Damn!!

Kevin Owens vs AJ StylesThe Kevin Owens vs AJ Styles match was absolutely a PPV-quality battle. I mean…damn. This was exactly the type of match that fans of both men were hoping for because it showcased both men in a very positive way (although in all fairness, Owens has been spectacular ever since arriving at NXT). This was a 3-segment war and a 20+ minute battle that ended in the perfect way: Chris Jericho causing a distraction which allowed Owens to roll Styles up for the cheap pinfall. Storylines advanced and this was perfect booking for all three men.

Kevin OwensI never dislike situations when multiple wrestlers all want a title at the same time. Regardless of who it is or what title it is, it elevates the championship because it’s something that people want. Everybody could tell that they were slowly building-up Kevin Owens to defend his title in a Fatal Fourway against Sami Zayn, The Miz, and Neville. That match now has a slightly different twist to it with Dolph Ziggler being plugged into the Neville spot (I thought Ziggler was off of the Mania card after losing to Triple H last week?). The match should still be great, though the only people that deserve to win are either Owens or Zayn.

Dean Ambrose & Terry FunkIt was awesome to see Terry Funk in a skit last night with Dean Ambrose. He looked good and sounded good. I understand where they are going with these hardcore legends “passing the torch” to Ambrose…I just don’t know if it’ll simply be for WrestleMania or if it’ll continue to be his gimmick down the road.

New DayThe segment between the League of Nations and the New Day went on way too long. I mean, New Day was doing their best to be the most pandering PG-rated babyfaces in the entire company. In other words, they began to sound like John Cena and, thus, stopped being cool in just about any way. What was worse was that the League of Nations were outside the ring laughing it all off instead of getting mad…so the “verbal assault” (per Michael Cole) really had no damn effect at all. Just silliness. I have zero desire to watch their match at WrestleMania.

I couldn’t be happier to hear that WWE is inducting a true legend, Stan “The Lariat” Hansen to the Hall of Fame. I just really hope that they do him justice with video packages that showcase just how incredibly awesome he was. Their initial video fell a little flat to me.

Stan Hansen - HOF

I liked the long Shane McMahon vs Undertaker video package from last night. There were a number of big-time stars (Steve Austin, HBK, Edge, Pat Patterson, Booker T, Ric Flair) giving their thoughts on the match and, quite frankly, did more to push the match than the in-ring segment did last week.

Zack Ryder 1Kevin Owens was extremely entertaining during his #KOMania match introduction last night. WWE is giving him more and more opportunity and he’s continuing to rise to the occasion. While I think the end result of a 7-person ladder match for the IC title is a great idea, it’s absolutely laughable that Sin Cara and ZACK RYDER are involved. You know that you’re scraping the bottom of a very shallow bucket when Ryder is in an important match at WrestleMania. Wow…

Triple H vs Roman ReignsThe segment with Triple H and Roman Reigns backstage should have resulted in a monster pop from the crowd (it was very reminiscent of segments from the 90’s including the Rock and Steve Austin), but it didn’t. I thought it was a great spot, but they faded to black with the live crowd booing Reigns. I mean, it doesn’t matter WHAT Vince & Company do to book Reigns at this point…the people simply don’t seem to like him. And to make things even worse is that the live television crowds are beginning to influence the casual fans, so it’s only building and building. Ugh.

Usos vs DudleyzWhat was interesting about the tag team storyline between the Dudley Boyz, the Usos, and the “Golden Truth” was that the crowd was booing the Usos. I realize that it’s a Philadelphia crowd so they like to boo the babyfaces, but I think this was more a case of the crowd telling the world that they think the Usos are stale (they are) and that they didn’t really care about the storyline. Again, I feel bad for them because they deserve a Mania match…but I also can’t ignore the fact that they need to turn heel soon in order to regain some momentum in the tag team division.

Vince McMahonVince McMahon did more to hurt the Shane/Undertaker match than help it. He actually had the balls to say that Shane McMahon was probably going to be Undertaker‘s toughest opponent at WrestleMania…which was meant with laughter, boos, and massive indifference. He then went on to say that if Undertaker lost, not only would Stephanie, Triple H, and Vince “probably” all leave the company but Undertaker would be fired (it was insinuated, anyway). So does this practically guarantee that Undertaker wins? It seems that way.

Braun Strowman vs Dean Ambrose 1The main event match was a joke. Any thoughts that Braun Strowman can be a superstar are on the back-burner right now. Because even with (arguably) the biggest babyface on the roster, Dean Ambrose, in the ring in the main event of RAW, the crowd STILL chanted “This is boring” and were quiet the entire segment. Even Ambrose taking a chair to Strowman seemed out of left field with no real build to it. The show ended and I was left thinking…that’s it?? I can’t wait to see what the ratings are for that final hour.

If this was WWE’s way of proving how dangerous Ambrose could be with a weapon, I guess it succeeded a bit. I still don’t think he’s got a chance of beating Brock Lesnar and this segment did nothing to change my mind on that. Just bad booking all around. Braun Strowman vs Dean Ambrose 2

Overall, the show was really good…but their final hour left a lot to be desired.

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This is just what I’m thinking, but what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

RAW Thoughts

We’re on the final road to WrestleMania hot off the heels of last night’s FastLane PPV. I’ve read that we’re to expect the unexpected tonight in Detroit, so I can’t wait to see how WWE begins to set-up their biggest card of the year!

Guess Who WonAmbrose 'injured'We kicked off the festivities with a recap of last night’s main even Triple Threat match, and then a video from “earlier today” when Brock Lesnar attacked Dean Ambrose in the parking lot, thus setting up one of the “meh matchups” for WrestleMania.

Vince McMahon then came out to give the award out for the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy Award. I thought it was going to go to Triple H, but it instead went to Stephanie McMahon.

Ugh.

Just as she was about to read an acceptance speech, OUT CAME SHANE MCMAHON!!!

Vince & ShaneWhat in the living hell??? Talk about a shocker!! Holy shit!! After an extended “Shane-O-Mac” chant, a “Holy Shit” chant, and a “This Is Awesome” chant, we finally got to hear just why Shane was there. He proceeded to tell his dad and family that under Stephanie and Triple H’s reign the ratings have tanked, the stock has fallen, and there has been a plethora of injuries to major superstars.

Shane sent Stephanie packing and then told his dad that he wanted control of Monday Night RAW.

Okay. I’m intrigued.

What in the actual fuck???

Let me think about this for a second…Shane McMahon is back to get control of Monday Night RAW, thus being in control of the entire company. In order to do that, Shane-O-Mac must come back for one more match…against the Undertaker at WrestleMania in a Hell In A Cell match.

Yeah…I think I can handle this. I’m speechless about the whole thing, but I’m down with it (even if it’s just a set-up for John Cena vs Undertaker, which is still a possibility). Wow…talk about unexpected.

Lucha DragonsThe next match was a throw-away six-man tag match with the Lucha Dragons and Neville taking on the WWE World Tag Team Champions, the New Day. The match was entertaining and had a couple of innovative spots. In the end, New Day won…thus shooting down possibilities that the Lucha Dragons are next in line for a WWE tag title shot. In fact, there was a short segment with New Day making fun of the League of Nations, so that inexplicably seems to be the next feud for them…even though they didn’t, in fact, turn babyface last night. I’m actually confused about the whole thing.

Brock Lesnar 1Kicking off Hour #2 is Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. I suppose they felt the need to do whatever they could to make Lesnar a heel going into their match with Dean Ambrose at WrestleMania, but I don’t see anything wrong with a face vs face match. People will cheer Lesnar, anyway. Heyman delivered another insanely awesome promo, telling the world how Lesnar got ripped off and made a few jabs at both Ambrose and Reigns along the way. It was awesome.

Ambrose drives ambulanceThen, driving the ambulance as if he were drunk, Ambrose came “back from the hospital” to challenge Lesnar to a match at WrestleMania. Ambrose crawled towards the ring but couldn’t muster the ability to stand up. Lesnar began to walk away by stepping on his head…but Ambrose grabbed the house mic and challenged him to a match at Mania in a no holds barred street fight. Lesnar laughed and made his way back down to Ambrose and gave him an F5 on the floor.

Lesnar vs AmbroseThe crowd chanted “one more time” as Heyman grabbed the mic and accepted the challenge. As much as the segment was awesome, the idea of a gimmick match between Lesnar and Ambrose at WrestleMania is just “meh” for me. I mean, I’m sure Ambrose will do well and “won’t give up”, but other than a few lucky spots it’ll be Lesnar killing him for 10-15 minutes. As entertaining as that may be, at the end of the day it’s just “meh”.

There was a completely forgettable segment with the Usos destroying the Ascension after being dressed-down by the Dudley Boyz. Yawn. Next?

Styles & JerichoIt was nice seeing Chris Jericho, again, giving the rub to AJ Styles. This time, though, Jericho was back to being full-fledged babyface. Their love-fest was interrupted by the #SocialOutcasts, which led to a forgettable tag team match between “Jeri-Styles” and Curtis Axel & Heath Slater. It showcased the comedy possibilities by the Outcasts and the athletic abilities of Styles, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Wyatt WrestleManiaAfter a couple of backstage skits, we had a rematch (of sorts) from FastLane with Kane, Big Show, and Ryback taking on the Wyatt Family (only this time with Bray Wyatt replacing Braun Strowman). For me, two things stood out during the match: (1) the slow-building tension seeming to develop between Harper and Wyatt and (2) the “Gillberg” chants for Ryback by the awesome Detroit crowd. The big story from this match was that Ryback simply walked out on his partners near the end of the match (though Kane telling him it was time was actually caught on camera). This distracted Kane long enough for Bray to hit Sister Abigail and get the pinfall.

Sasha Banks vs Naomi“The Legit Bo$$” Sasha Banks showed up to take on Naomi. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…being a great wrestler doesn’t mean you can simply do “moves”, which is something Naomi does. I mean, she’s extremely athletic and can do all of the moves it takes to be a good wrestler, but it’s glaringly apparent that she can only do moves. There is a reason why she hasn’t been a top contender or a Divas champion at this point in her career. It’s not because she doesn’t have the ability…it’s because she doesn’t know how to string it all together. Can she ever do that? I dunno…but if she was better at what she does, she’s probably be a champion by now considering the talent she has. 

CharlotteAfter the match was over, Charlotte came out to tell everyone that Sasha Banks will clash with Becky Lynch to determine the # 1 contender to the Divas title that will battle her at WrestleMania. She was dressed in “mom jeans” and a top that looked like it belonged to Nikki Bella. Huh.  Oh well.

My guess is that at the end of the day, we’ll have a Triple Threat match for the title. I guess we’ll find out in just over a month.

We’re told that the second inductee into the Class of ’16 Hall of Fame will be Charles Wright…better known as The Godfather. While not ranked nearly as high, I had Godfather listed in my Top 30 Wrestlers NOT in the Hall of Fame.Godfather in WWE Hall of Fame

SheamusThe main event was Roman Reigns taking on Sheamus (and the League of Nations). I gotta be honest…I didn’t have high hopes for this match when it started. I mean, we’ve been there and done that before. It’s boring as hell at this point. Once Sheamus was about to win via countout, Triple H‘s music hit and the WWE World Heavyweight Champion made his way to the ring for an impromptu battle.

The problem, though, was that the crowd was booing Roman Reigns and cheering Triple H. This really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone at this point. So even though Triple H did what he could to be a destructive heel onto a sympathetic character, the crowd was chanting a name and it didn’t belong to Reigns.

Triple H vs Reigns 1Triple H then smashed Roman’s head against the announce table repeatedly in rapid succession (much to the crowd’s delight as they chanted “YES” every single time) and ended up smashing Roman’s nose and making his face a bloody mess. He then gave Reigns a Pedigree on the steel steps before mocking him and posing with the WWE title, much to the crowd’s delight.

Triple H vs Reigns 2If WWE was trying to make Reigns a sympathetic character tonight, that mission failed miserably.I know they’ll continue trying, though…but I’m feeling bad for Reigns at this point. He’s doing everything he can given the confines of the gimmick they’re allowing him to have. I can only hope that last night changes Reigns into a killer as we head into Mania…that may be the only Reigns that people will cheer.

The only problem, however, is that the internet is too smart for their own good. Already uploaded onto YouTube is a video of Byron Saxton appearing to give Reigns a blood capsule to smear all over his face. See it for yourself…

Sigh…poor Roman can’t catch a goddamn break.

Not that it matters because (I had to break it to you, kids), but this is sports entertainment and at the end of the day you’re NOT SUPPOSED TO REALLY INJURE YOUR OPPONENT.

Mind blown

Triple HFrom extreme highs at the beginning of the show to extreme lows at the end, this was an up-and-down episode of RAW. Some matches were set-up for WrestleMania, others were hinted at, and others weren’t touched at all. The next few weeks should be very interesting.

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But these are just my opinions. What are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

RAW Thoughts

It’s the “go home” show for this Sunday’s FastLane which will tell the world who will main event WrestleMania against Triple H. There are some mid-card matches already announced for the show, but how will they progress with storylines? Let’s find out!!

Stephanie McMahon & Dean AmbroseI emphasized last week how I didn’t see how Dean Ambrose getting decimated by Brock Lesnar helped him in any way. Did it make him look tough? Sure. Did it make him look crazy? Absolutely. Did it give me the sense that Ambrose had any chance at all in facing Lesnar? Of course not…how could it? Ambrose didn’t stand a chance. Of course, WWE has been promoting it all week long and even opened up RAW with it. I still don’t know how it helps him on a main event level. What I liked, though, was how Stephanie McMahon immediately emphasized that Ambrose couldn’t do anything without the help of Roman Reigns…further planting the seeds for one of the two men to turn on the other.

Fatal FivewayIn terms of the first match, I was really happy to see all five participants. I was especially happy to see Tyler Breeze getting a spotlight on RAW in a match where he wasn’t designated to be “enhancement talent” and lose in under five minutes. This guy has all it takes to be a star…he just needs Vince to stop looking at untalented oafs like Braun Strowman and start realizing that the future of the sports entertainment business isn’t all muscles, but rather in-ring entertainment…whether it’s by wrestling or by being a character or both. The sooner Vince realizes that NXT is popular because it’s the anti-WWE, the better the overall WWE product will be.

Kevin OwensI really enjoyed the final few minutes of the match. What I really enjoyed was the surprising finish. I mean, I honestly didn’t think that Ambrose was going to lose the title. I thought he’d lose at FastLane and then defend the title at Wrestlemania. Having him lose the title (and not actually take the pinfall) means that there’s an even bigger chance he’ll be winning this Sunday. The whole thing is crazy. But in the end, Kevin Owens is your new Intercontinental champion, which opens a world of opportunities up for him heading into the big show. This one match has me super intrigued for how FastLane will play out.

Mark HenryWhile entertaining, there wasn’t much else of note with the Big E vs Mark Henry match. I mean, they announced a TALK SHOW SEGMENT for this Sunday’s PPV with the tag team champions. What in the hell?? Are you telling me that WWE Creative has spent so much goddamn time on the main event that they’ve forgotten how to build-up a tag team division? Sigh. My only hope is that WWE introduces a tag team (like, say…Enzo & Big Cass?) during this interview segment at FastLane so they can build some type of interest in a tag team title match at WrestleMania in the limited time that they have.

Brie BellaI’ll give credit where it’s due…I think Brie Bella gave her best promo ever in her segment with Charlotte. Sure, the script was completely contrived and the end result was pretty unrealistic, but Bella really did a decent job. Thankfully, Charlotte still carried the conversation because, quite frankly, she’s an incredible heel on the mic and knows how to carry herself. She just exudes charisma and personality and confidence. Hell…she doesn’t even NEED Ric standing beside her to be a credible heel champion. She’s simply awesome on her own.

AJ StylesI enjoyed the AJ Styles match with Miz. I enjoyed it primarily because Chris Jericho was on commentary putting Styles over in a way that Miz couldn’t. Styles sold a lot for Miz, but in the end he kicked out of Miz’s finisher, they finally gave him the mic after he won, and the entire segment was one big spotlight for the Phenomenal One. I awas really expecting a triple threat match at FastLane, but it sounds like we’re heading for the “rubber match” between Jericho and Styles instead with Miz left on the outside looking in. Not sure if I like this idea entirely, though…unless it sets up a triple threat for WrestleMania.

Dudley BoyzI love that after all these years, the Dudley Boyz still know how to rile up a crowd. They simply walked out there and delivered a promo that proved why they are still so successful after all this time. It’s never been just about them delivering inside the ring, but also how they were able to promo like no other team of their era. Bubba, in particular, knows how to hit all of the right spots given to him by WWE Creative so that the points are made exactly the way they’re supposed to. While I’d rather see the Dudleyz go out as babyfaces at WrestleMania, if they can appear on the “SuperBowl of Wrestling” one more time then it doesn’t really matter if they’re cheered or booed. They’ve earned their spots at this point.

Next up was the “classic match-up” of Paige vs Summer Rae. Of course…Summer Rae picked up the pinfall. Wait…what?????

I don’t even know what to say about this one. Is Summer getting pushed? Is Paige still injured? What’s the deal? I’m all about upset victories here and there, but this one came out of nowhere and doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m confused.

Paul Heyman & Roman ReignsGosh…I just love Paul Heyman. I also love the promos that he delivers. What I loved about his promo with Roman Reigns was that it potentially set up a Heyman/Reigns alliance at some point down the road. Don’t believe me? If WWE really wants to pull the trigger on the Ambrose Asylum babyface run on top, it would make perfect sense to see Roman Reigns turn into the next “Paul Heyman Guy“. They’ve always had respect for each other in their promos, and despite the Dudleyz Boyz attacking Reigns and Michael Cole insinuating it could’ve been because of Paul Heyman, I think it would be extremely interesting to see Brock taking the summer off and Reigns being a Heyman Guy…rebuilding himself as a massive heel (who is cheered because of his affiliation with Heyman) and going after Ambrose as champion. It just has a world of possibilities.

For the record, I think the #SocialOutcasts have TREMENDOUS potential.

Goldust and R-Truth delivered one of the greatest segments I’ve ever seen…

I didn’t get much from the 6-man tag match or the Divas match. If anything, they were just filler for the night. Having said that, they each pushed along storylines for FastLane…they just weren’t anything much.

I really enjoyed the Bray Wyatt promo last night. Wyatt very clearly stated that he wants the fans to join him, but in order to do that they had to bow before him. It was eloquent and pointed.

Big Show vs Braun StrowmanThe Big Show vs Braun Strowman match was about as boring as you’d expect it to be. I’m sorry, Vince…but Strowman is NOT your next big monster heel superstar. You can book him that way, but the fans will NOT accept him as a legitimate superstar any time soon. He did NOTHING last night to impress me or change my mind. I just don’t see what Vince & Triple H see in this guy other than his size and muscles. I’m not sure if this is leading to a triple threat match at WrestleMania or not, but I think it was absolutely ridiculous to put these seven guys in the main event to close out the night. 

Really? You’ve got Ambrose and Reigns and the League of Nations and the Dudleyz and the Wyatts all in the building, and your main event concludes with Big Show, Kane, and Ryback standing tall as we fade to black?

Mind blown*****

In the end, this was a pretty good episode of RAW. While I think the first two hours were MUCH stronger than the final hour, overall this show did a good job of setting up FastLane.

This is just what I’m thinking, but what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

RAW Thoughts

RAW ThoughtsWe continue the Road to WrestleMania with a stop in Birmingham, Alabama. I’m interested to see how the rest of the FastLane undercard develops and where it may lead. Let’s go!

Matt Hardy HOFBrock Lesnar & Paul HeymanWe kick things off with the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, along with his advocate Paul Heyman. The crowd pops huge for his entrance and are very quiet to listen to Heyman’s promo…as they should. You want to know who the biggest superstar in the entire company is at this point? It ain’t Cena, it ain’t Reigns, and no…it ain’t Ambrose. It may suck for Vince that a part-time player is the biggest star he has, but that’s his own fault. Brock Lesnar is, simply put, the #1 box office draw that WWE has right now. As much as they want to set-up Reigns as the winner at WrestleMania to give him “his moment”, what’s BEAST for business is to have Lesnar be the champion.

But those are just my opinions…

Dean Ambrose vs Brock LesnarAnd yes, Paul Heyman delivered another promo that I was more than happy to listen to. I’d much rather hear Heyman than 99% of the current roster open up the show any day of the week. When Dean Ambrose came out, he was able to deliver another solid promo, as well. He’s got a unique delivery that plays to his gimmick. Sometimes the fans “get it”; sometimes they don’t. But he’s still miles ahead of most of the roster.

The fact that they’re playing the three top babyfaces off against each other for FastLane is an interesting situation. You KNOW that Reigns will be booed out of the building if he wins and that either Ambrose or Lesnar winning will result in a massive pop. How does this match help Reigns in any way? Once again, I’ve GOT to question WWE’s booking decisions when it comes to Reigns. I just don’t get it.

I understand that WWE is in the middle of pushing Kalisto as Rey Mysterio 2.0, but there is NO WAY that he should be in a competitive match against Rusev. I can only suspend disbelief for so long. The fact that Rusev sold so well for Kalisto is proof that he’s a future champion and a team player. He really made Kalisto look better than he had any right to be. Remember when Rusev was dominating John Cena and killing people in the ring? Yeah…me, neither. Let’s push Braun Strowman some more…

Stephanie McMahon, Roman Reigns, & Dean AmbroseThe backstage segment with Stephanie McMahon, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose was very intriguing only for the spot where McMahon suggested that one of the friends will stab the other in the back, bringing up Shawn Michaels turning on Marty Jannetty and Seth Rollins turning on them. Is this a legitimate foreshadowing of a breakdown and a heel turn? Or simply a dangling carrot?

Social Outcasts 3It was nice to see the #SocialOutcasts get some more mic time. I liked the team of Adam Rose & Curtis Axel, too. They had chemistry and looked really good against the Usos. The only problem was that with Heath Slater acting like a goof on the outside, it looked like he was trying to emulate the New Day…and that’s not good when you’re trying to get a push for being original and unique. Honestly…it’s 3MB all over again. At least they’re getting a spot on the roster, right? It’s better than nothing, I suppose.

But we still have no idea just what tag team will be “over” enough to take on the New Day at WrestleMania. Crazy.

AJ Styles 1I was wondering how they were going to get AJ Styles over with his MizTV segment, because Styles isn’t the best on the mic. I quickly realized that Miz was going to put Styles over on his own by not letting Styles speak yet still going off on the mic about his accolades. Not the worst idea in the world, when you think about it. It was also intriguing to put Styles in a position where there was no other option than to get a babyface pop against the very hated Miz. Definitely smart booking all around in order to throw more “hype” on the Styles Train, though in the end I’m not sure it did much to help Styles get more acclimated with the WWE Universe or get him over.

Alicia Fox & Brie BellaI wasn’t going to even mention the match between Brie Bella and Charlotte because it’s been done and nobody gives a shit. Then, for whatever reason, Ric Flair caused a distraction with the referee when Charlotte was in a sleeperhold (???). Yet he was still causing a distraction when Charlotte escaped, went for the figure-four leglock, and inexplicably got rolled-up for the pinfall. I mean…what total and utter bullshit. When they played Brie up to fans for being Daniel Bryan’s wife didn’t work to get her over (keep doing “Yes Kicks”, Brie…maybe they’ll cheer you more!), they thought that her being the sister of the recently-surgeried Nikki Bella would help get her over (she’s fearless for having surgery and YOU can be fearless for being her sister!). FFS…what a crock of shit. So do we now have to put up with Brie Bella vs Charlotte at FastLane?? What happened to Sasha Banks?? Where’s Becky Lynch?? Where’s Paige?? Where are the TALENTED women wrestlers??  Goddamn…this whole segment just pissed me off.

Wyatts vs Big ShowI’m wondering why Big Show is being inserted in a storyline against the Wyatt Family. I thought they were going after Brock Lesnar. Are we potentially looking at a Big Show vs Braun Strowman match at WrestleMania? I’d prefer that over Lesnar vs Strowman…but I think we might be getting Show vs Strowman at FastLane instead. Regardless, I feel bad for Strowman because he’s being thrown into a no-win situation. Why no-win? Because he’s simply too green to be given the spotlight at this point in time. He’s not ready…at all. Hell…he didn’t have televised matches or even house show matches while in Florida. How is he magically ready for the main roster? It’s typical “WWE likes big muscular men” bullshit booking. Strowman will fade out like Giant Gonzales or Great Khali within a year or two.

Tyler BreezeI know that Titus O’Neil is currently doing everything right outside of WWE and that’s the reason why he’s being pushed, but the guy simply isn’t getting over with audiences. It’s the same thing that happened with the Prime Time Players. He’s talented and charismatic, but he just doesn’t have “it”. Having him going over Tyler Breeze is a waste of a win. Showing two or three people standing up to cheer once he got his pinfall isn’t going to convince the world that he’s worthy of a push because he’s not. The guy who IS deserving of a push is the one who jobbed out WAAAAYY too quickly. Unbelievable.

Yes, Dolph...we're ALL surprised you won.

Yes, Dolph…we’re ALL surprised you won. By all means keep celebrating.

I don’t even know what to say at the outcome of the Dolph Ziggler match with Kevin Owens. I mean, Owens dominated the entire match (and rightfully so), yet somehow still loses via CLEAN PINFALL. What in the blue hell did Owens do to deserve losing this “feud” with Ziggler? Better yet, who in the blue hell is Ziggler blowing in order to win this feud?? What the hell is going on tonight? Who is booking this shit? I mean, you’ve got some very unusual decisions going on tonight. I’m not upset with the show in general, but I’m certainly upset with some of the wins and losses because they just don’t seem to make any long-term booking sense. I just don’t get it.

Sasha BanksI was really excited about the possibility of Sasha Banks battling Charlotte at WrestleMania, but now it looks like Becky Lynch will be teaming with Banks to go up against the untalented team of Naomi and Tamina…either at FastLane or on Smackdown or next week’s RAW. I don’t mind Banks being turned babyface and leaving Team B.A.D., but I was really hoping that she’d remain on her own. I just think you could easily make her a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin type of Diva babyface by taking on anyone. The crowd loves her regardless, so why does she need to team with Lynch to get the “babyface rub”? I would’ve been fine with a Banks vs Lynch feud at FastLane without getting Team B.A.D. involved, but I guess there are other booking plans afoot.

New DayThe final match was fun to watch. All five men are at the top of their games and the match flowed extremely well, culminating with a final sequence of events that led to the pinfall. Great stuff that the fans enjoyed. It didn’t really push any story other than the Ambrose vs Lesnar feud that should add more fuel to the FastLane fire. So while the match was entertaining, it didn’t really do much other than that. So that begs the question…what was the point? You would think that the Road to WrestleMania would actually help storylines progress, especially in a main event. Instead, we get a small storyline for FastLane (Why are they hyping Ambrose vs Lesnar? Is that the new Mania direction??) and nothing for the tag team champions. Sigh…

Here’s the deal with RAW tonight…it wasn’t a bad show. In fact, I’d say it was a pretty decent show with lots going on. And whether or not I agree with their booking decisions shouldn’t take away from my enjoyment of the program itself. Why? Because WWE is eliciting an emotional response from me. No, I don’t like some of their decisions but I’m willing to sit back and wait in order to find out where they end up. Sasha as champ at Mania? Owens in a big-time storyline stewing from his frustrations? Rusev not being treated like a jobber? Styles in a high-profile Mania match? Until these booking decisions play out at Mania, I can only accept the fact that I’m emotionally invested in the show. Whether it’s a positive or negative response is besides the point. I actually care…and I suppose that’s the most important thing.

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This is just what I’m thinking, but what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or hit me up on social media and let me know!

RAW Thoughts

Lennon & FlairWe’re in Buffalo, New York and we’re ready to kick-start the longest weekly episodic program in blah blah blah history. I just hope it’s a better show than last week.

– We kick off the show with a recap of the “feud” between Kane and Seth Rollins since Night of Champions. Of course, this culminated with Kane dragging Rollins underneath the ring to finish the program last Monday night. Uhhhh….yeah. 

John Cena US Open Challenge– In a decision that I’m totally okay with, we kick off live festivites on RAW with a John Cena U.S. Open Challenge. As I’ve repeatedly said that John Cena has had the best in-ring performances of his entire life in 2015, so I’m excited to see this weekly challenge take place, as it generates fresh match-ups.

Out to answer the challenge is THE NEW DAY!!! The New Day 1

It’s kind of a shame, actually…because there was somebody else waiting to accept Cena’s challenge at the very same time.

After a lengthy, but VERY entertaining pre-match promo, we’re set to see Cena take on Xavier Woods…definitely a fresh match-up and one that should (hopefully) showcase what Woods can do. 

John Cena vs Xavier Woods 1Fortunately, after some early interference, the referee kicked Big E and Kofi Kingston out from the ringside area. I say “fortunately” because now I’m hoping we’ll see what Woods is made of and if Cena can help elevate him with a competitive match-up.

John Cena vs Xavier Woods 2UNfortunately, though, the vast majority of this match is nothing but Super Cena decimating Woods. Poor Xavier would get in one or two moves, but then get stopped and decimated some more. It was a very weird way to put over Woods as a serious competitor, though the announcers did try to put over Woods as best they could. The problem is that Woods didn’t have any offense that lasted for any length of time, only going to show that everything he was doing on offense was just a fluke.

Cena locked in the STF when Kingston and E made the save for the disqualification. This brought out the Dudley Boyz, who helped Cena clear the ring of the baddies. This, though, only went to help set-up an apparent 6-man tag match. It would be nice to see a General Manager of some kind actually “make the match official”.

Tag Match!Dudleyz & Cena vs New Day 2For whatever reason, Cena played the “babyface in peril” during the heel beat-down part of the match. That surprises me only because Devon would have been my first choice. Still…Cena’s got enough gas in the tank to take the beating for awhile and still kick ass when all is said and done.

After Cena made the hot tag, the Dudleyz cleaned house and his their signature spots. Just as they were about to hit the 3D, a distraction to Devon allowed Kingston to hit “Trouble in Paradise” for the pinfall and the surprise victory.

Backstage HR segment– In a backstage segment, Triple H and Stephanie have “Ashley”, their HR representative present so she can discuss an “anonymous complaint” about Corporate Kane concerning an “unsafe environment”. Basically, Ashley will do a performance review with Kane during the show to ensure that he’s fit to have the job that, technically, he’s not supposed to have anymore.

– In another backstage segment, Roman Reigns talks to Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton about his one-on-one match against Bray Wyatt in the main event later. It was a good segment.

Big Show vs Mark Henry– Umm…again???

Mark Henry vs Big ShowListen, I understand the reason why they are pushing Big Show over the past few weeks. They’re trying to build him up as a potential threat to Brock Lesnar at their match at Madison Square Garden on the WWE Network this weekend. The problem, though, is that nobody is buying it. Not at this stage, anyway. I mean…just get the match over with and move on.

Thankfully, this was a squash match and Show won.

Miz TV 1– Now it’s time for Miz TV…and I have to wonder if this will set-up the end of the Divas Revolution for good? I mean, the last time they were on, both Miz and WWE Creative almost completely ruined the entire Divas division in one segment.

Charlotte and Becky Lynch get booed as they’re introduced by Miz. Ugh…that should tell you all you need to know about how WWE has handled the Divas division ’til now.

PaigeCharlotte then calls out Paige to have a discussion about what she said last week when Team Bella came out to cause trouble. Charlotte did an incredible job on the mic in response to Team Bella (as did Becky). Just as they were all about to throw down, out came Paige to cause even MORE issues.

“If you have two boyfriends like yours, who really needs ambition?”Paige to the Bellas. Holy shit…whether she believes it or not, I love the fact that she said what I’ve been saying for months now.

NatalyaEverybody’s arguing about who started the Divas Revolution. Nobody mentions Natalya, which is odd since she was actually wrestling during a time when her competitors could only roll around in bikinis.

Then this happened on Twitter…

Yeah…that could be true if anybody actually knew or cared about who you are.

– This suddenly turned into a 6-person tag match by Corporate Kane during the commercial break. Tag Match!PCB vs Team Bella 1It was odd to watch because Paige doesn’t seem to hate Charlotte and Lynch, but doesn’t appear to want to be their friends any more, either. She hates Team Bella more and still feels the same way about them. Does this make Paige a lone wolf? Does somebody else join her to start yet another Diva faction? I just don’t know where all of this is going…but that’s okay. This is now intriguing me. For all of the shitty segment writing and match booking that WWE has done over the past few months, I’m interested to see what is going on with Paige…so if there’s nothing else, there’s that, I guess.

PCB vs Team Bella 2During the match, Paige decided to just up and leave. Natalya came out to ask Paige what she was doing before she was attacked by Paige. Nikki Bella then hit the Rack Attack and pinned Charlotte to a pretty big pop from the live crowd. I mean…this is exactly opposite what WWE Creative is trying to do, isn’t it?? It’s completely backfiring on them. The whole thing is ridiculous.

– There was a pretty good video package on the history of the feud between Big Show and Brock Lesnar.

– There is yet another backstage segment with Kane and Seth Rollins, with Kane giving Rollins a large present (with “Ashley” watching nearby). Inside was the severed head from Seth Rollins’ destroyed statue. Rollins thought it was creepy as hell and walked off. 

– The Prime Time Players are inside the ring and it looks like the former WWE tag team champions (y’know…the team that nobody cared about) are about to be fed to the Wyatt Family combo of Luke Harper and Braun Strowman.

At this point, the Canadian channel SportsNet experienced some “technical difficulties”. Thus…I can only assume that the Wyatt Family killed the Prime Time Players. PTP Murdered

StardustStardust is set for action against Neville. As much as I feel this match-up has been done to death already, I think there are still some exciting match possibilities between the two of them. To me, this feud has been building and building…so it hasn’t run its course quite yet.

King Barrett vs StardustJust as the match was beginning to build some steam, they went straight to the finish with Neville about to hit the Red Arrow. Goddammit…this frustrates me. I mean, THIS is why people are tired of seeing the match over and over…they don’t get any time to really give the world something great that they are capable of providing.

Then King Barrett‘s music hit and he made his way down to the ring. He knocked out Neville and then knocked out Stardust to show the WWE Universe that he’s back.

Kane was about to receive his in-ring HR evaluation when Seth Rollins interrupted. Rollins proceeded to say that he wasn’t going to hell because, in a meeting with the Pope last week, he was told that he was going to heaven. Ugh. Anyway, Ashley told the world just how awesome Kane was as Director of Operations. 

Rollins then gave Kane a Pedigree before grabbing a chair and brutally assaulting Kane. Doctors came out and wheeled Kane to the back. As the ambulance was taking off, it stopped and smoke poured out of the back of the ambulance. Out came “Demon Kane”. I mean…seriously.

Kane walked to the ring, beat-up Rollins, and gave him a Chokeslam before trying to hit the Tombstone piledriver…but Rollins then ran away. Kane then looked at the WWE title still laying on the mat and picked it up. I guess we officially have our title match for Hell in a Cell? Kane - none of my businessRandy Orton is set to destroy Bo Dallas, but not before he trashed some of the Buffalo Bills sitting at ringside. Of course, Dallas knows there is one way for them to win a championship…

BOLIEVE 1Bo Dallas vs Randy OrtonI had a Twitter discussion with someone last night about “WWE failed pushes” and he included Dallas in that group of performers. And while I totally agree with that, Dallas has to be held accountable to some extent. I know, I know…I’ve been a huge fan of Dallas since his WWE debut, but I also realize that the gimmick alone wasn’t going to be enough to get him over with the back office (and/or Vince). If nothing else, dude needs to lose a few pounds and hit the gym a bit. If he doesn’t want to do that, maybe find new ring gear. Either way, Dallas has a TON of tools but he appears to be his own worst enemy.

Anyway…Orton destroyed Dallas quickly and we move on.

Owens & Rusev vs RybackRyback is inexplicably joining the commentators at ringside so he can watch Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens take on Rusev (with Summer Rae). Almost immediately after the match starts, Owens pushes Rusev into Ryback and then a brawl begins. Ryback ends up getting destroyed by both Owens and Ryback until Dolph Ziggler makes his way down to the ring for the save.

Are they short on time tonight? Because this whole segment seemed to take seconds.

– Thankfully, Paul Heyman is shown walking out to ringside so he can save the entire show.

Big Show vs Paul HeymanUnfortunately, Heyman was interrupted by Big Show after only a few minutes on the mic, who proceeded to talk smack to the point that Heyman ran out of the ring in disgust and Show finished his promo like HE was the babyface. It was all just weird.

– Now it’s time for the main event of the evening: Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt. Roman ReignsWyatt comes out with Luke Harper & Braun Strowman, but Reigns insults Wyatt and calls him a bitch…resulting in the Family being sent to the back. So for now, we’ll end up with a one-on-one match between two of the WWE’s future superstars for years to come.

Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns 1I really enjoyed the match. It was hard-hitting and believable, as one man couldn’t maintain an advantage for too long over the other. It had a nice blend of old-school wrestling and some new-school power moves. Both men were beating the hell out of each other and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns 2

Eventually, things went outside of the ring and both men were counted out, yet continued to battle each other through the arena. And these guys continued to beat the living shit out of each other. There were a couple of pretty impressive spots and the crowd seemed to quickly forget about the double-countout as they started a “This is awesome” chant. Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns 3

In fact, after Reigns hit a spear out of nowhere to put Wyatt through the announcers’ table, the entire crowd went into a “YES! YES! YES!” chant before the show went off the air. Bray Wyatt vs Roman Reigns 4

Highlights are shown below.

**********

Overall, again, this wasn’t the best episode of RAW by any stretch. But damn…I’m glad I stuck around until the end because the Reigns vs Wyatt match was really great, and the post-match brawl was fan-fucking-tastic. If you see anything from the show, watch that from the beginning because you’ll REALLY get into things by the time the episode is over.

But what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!

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