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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RAW Thoughts

We’re about to discuss the go-home show for WrestleMania and I gotta say…I’m not really that interested in the big event, if I’m being honest. I’m much more excited about NXT TakeOver: Dallas at this point. Will RAW change that point of view for me? Let’s find out!!

UnderTaker vs Shane McMahon

UndertakerWell…the opening segment was absolutely awesome. Undertaker‘s opening promo was excellent and really drove home that he didn’t want to lose on Sunday. The interruption by Shane McMahon was perfectly timed and the back-n-forth between each man was great. The confrontation by Shane-o-Mac looked realistic. The end result of the segment gave people hope to believe that Shane could actually defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania. I honestly don’t think that you could have asked for a hotter opening than this.

Zack RyderI thought that using a complete loser like Zack Ryder to put over the Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles feud was a good idea. I mean, what better way to completely embarrass Jericho than to have him lose to Ryder? Makes perfect sense. I think Jericho’s done a great job at trying to put Styles over in this feud and, even though I was originally against it, I’m looking forward to this match-up as it has the potential to steal the show. And Ryder? I mean, just look at this fuck-tard. Look at his ridiculous beard. It’s like he purchased Hollywood Hogan‘s beard dye kit from his nWo days.

Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Becky LynchCharlotteI love the in-chemistry between Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks. There’s just something about them that clicks when they get inside of the ring together. The match between Charlotte and Lynch was really good. At least it was good for as short as it was. The blatant interference of Ric Flair gave Lynch the “out” that she needed in order to stay strong. That’s been the way Lynch has been booked from the beginning: constantly screwed out of her title matches without legitimately losing. It’s smart to lose like that because the babyface retains their heat. And at this point, WWE is keeping Charlotte and Banks apart…and that’s really smart, in my opinion. The big money match is between Charlotte and Banks, so I think keeping them apart from wrestling one-on-one is a really good idea. The anticipation continues to build for this triple threat title match because it legitimately could steal the whole show on Sunday.

Andre the Giant 3rd Annual Memorial Battle RoyalThe segment lasted about three or four minutes, but at least WWE attempted to give people a sense of what the Andre Memorial Battle Royal will be like on Sunday during the pre-show. I saw Goldust, Damien Sandow (!!!), Fandango, the Ascension, and even that gay member of the Prime Time Players. Man…the stars will be coming out to play for this one!!

sarcasmAt least things were about to pick up again…

Triple H vs Roman ReignsRoman Reigns vs Triple HOnce again, Triple H attempted to put over Roman Reigns as a babyface while trying to get the world to boo him. The only thing he did, though, was get the crowd to chant “WHAT?” a couple of times and boo anything that had anything to do with Roman Reigns. And really, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Triple H put over an opponent as much as he tried to put over Reigns. Unfortunately, the segment ended with a “Roman sucks” chant…so we have our first REAL taste of what to expect at WrestleMania

New Day vs League of NationsAlberto Del Rio vs Kofi KingstonI really enjoyed the entire segment with the New Day and the League of Nations. First off, the New Day is SUPER over and it never fails to surprise me to see the crowds get into their gimmick. I mean, it’s almost like the Attitude Era with them. The crowds LOVE them. I thought that having Kofi Kingston taking on Alberto Del Rio was smart because Del Rio was really able to put across a sense of energy and anger and realism to the match. I was surprised to see Del Rio lose because that, by definition, means the League will pull out the victory on Sunday night. Whether or not that actually happens it debatable, but the entire segment (yes…including Coach‘s appearance) was pretty fun.

Seth RollinsI love that WWE is doing whatever they can in order to put Roman Reigns over as a babyface, but it’s too late now. The fans aren’t prepared to cheer for him no matter WHAT you do. The backstage segment may have worked a year ago, but it’s way too late for that now. I wish WWE would simply bite the bullet and accept that they fucked up, realize Seth Rollins is their “babyface face of the company” once he returns, and turn Reigns (officially) at Mania. I don’t see any other way out of this.

Kalisto vs RybackKalistoAgain, the booking was smart here as Kalisto (i.e. the REALLY small underdog) was taking on Konner (i.e. the REALLY big opponent). It was just a way to show the world that he stood a chance against Ryback…though he really doesn’t. Their in-ring confrontation, though, did little to entice me. This is one of the least desirable matches on the entire Mania card. I’m already yawning at the mere thought of watching it.

Dean Ambrose vs Brock LesnarDean Ambrose & Brock LesnarI don’t think that anybody can listen to a Paul Heyman promo and NOT get excited about whatever match he’s involved with. Even with Dean Ambrose getting his ass handed to him at every single corner of the WWE Universe, I’m still interested to see this match because Paul Hayman has made me interested. He’s absolutely right, too…Brock Lesnar is not just a “once in a lifetime” performer, but a “once ever” performer. Any time you see him, you’re seeing something you’ll never see again. For that reason alone, this match is worth watching.

The Ambrose part of this segment, though…was dumb.

Kevin Owens vs Zack Ryder vs Stardust vs Dolph Ziggler vs Sami Zayn vs Sin Cara vs The MizKevin OwensI’m sorry, but this whole thing just sucks. This should be a match between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. I understand wanting to re-build their feud for the main roster and all, but to include cast-offs like Sin Cara 2.0 and Zack Ryder is a goddamn joke. Not only that, but it makes the Intercontinental championship look like a joke, too. I mean, Owens wanted to wrestle either Ryder, Cara, or Stardust because he thought he could beat any of them. So why are they part of this match? If they win, haven’t you already said that an undeserving wrestler is your champion? And even if Owens retains, does it mean as much if the match includes those three lower midcard performers? I’m sure the match itself will be fine, but Owens (and the IC title) deserves more.

Roman ReignsThe final segment of the night brought a cheer from the crowd for Reigns, but it didn’t last long before a “You still suck” chant broke out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I feel bad for the guy. He’s not doing anything wrong. His detractors can bitch and moan about his promo (in)ability or lack of in-ring skills, but he’s got everything it takes to be the WWE champion. Anybody who claims otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Sufferin' succotashBut despite the hard work and the numerous efforts by WWE Creative to get people to boo Triple H and cheer Roman Reigns, it’s a matter of too little, too late. They blew their chance with Reigns the second he said “Sufferin’ Succotash” and then proceeded to kill the entire roster at the Royal Rumble. It’s been OVER A YEAR since all of that took place and the crowd is STILL booing him. Why continue to push him as your #1 babyface? Roman Reigns vs everybody

John ReignsIs this a situation similar to John Cena? Sure…but Cena has been around as the top guy for a decade. Reigns has been (arguably) the top guy for less than a year. It’s unfair to compare the two situations because Cena is still seen as a massive cross-appeal superstar. Reigns isn’t that well-known in the lexicon of the general public…and he will only be seen as a massive joke by the casual audience because any time you show him off, the crowds will be booing. How will casual audiences think of this guy as anything other than a joke if the #1 good guy in the company gets more boos than cheers on a regular basis?

WrestleMania 32 - bWrestleMania‘s final moments may just go down in history as some of the most awkward and depressing we’ve ever seen. Goddamn…I really hope WWE is ready to push the reset button and do something incredibly drastic in Dallas this Sunday. Give people a reason to watch on Monday that doesn’t include booing the good guy.

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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 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

The Road to WrestleMania ran through Pittsburgh last night with the great anticipation as all of the “big superstars” were expected to show up. Did the show meet expectations?Undertaker pwned

The New Day 4I love how New Day have turned into babyfaces without changing anything about themselves. It is the sign of a tremendously over act when they can switch from babyface to heel (or vice versa) without having to actually do anything different. I also loved how they cheated to win the match and still did so as babyfaces. I don’t remember the last time I saw that happen (Eddie Guerrero, perhaps?). I’m not sure where they’re going with the post-match beatdown by the League of Nations, though…a 4-on-3 handicap match for the tag team titles at WrestleMania?

The other thing that shocked me was that an actual match with a 5-10 minute post-match beatdown was shown instead of the normal promo/interview segment that takes place. Wow…you wouldn’t think that wrestling on a wrestling program would take priority, would you?

Brock Lesnar & Paul HeymanThe next segment featured Dean Ambrose talking smack about Triple H, but then interrupted by Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. I’m still not 100% sold on their match because I don’t believe Ambrose can win…nor do I believe he SHOULD win at this point. I mean, he’s all bad-ass when he’s got a crowbar in his hand but he has yet to do anything against Lesnar 1-on-1. To me, he looks like a punk-ass who can only be tough with a weapon in his hand. I really don’t think it does Ambrose any favours.

Ryback vs Sin CaraWhile I respect Ryback for working hard to expand his in-ring repetoire and developing a new character, at the end of the day the WWE Universe feels the same way about him that I do…and that’s indifference. Ultimately, Ryback is boring…and until that somehow changes, all of the pushes in the world won’t change that. I’m certainly NOT interested in watching Ryback decimate Kalisto for 10 minutes at WrestleMania, regardless of whether or not he wins.

Stephanie McMahonThe entire segment with Stephanie and Triple H was entertaining, as they continue to deliver solid promos. Triple H, in particular, went above and beyond to drone on and on in an effort to be booed so he could put Roman Reigns over…until, of course, Dolph Ziggler came out instead. I just have to wonder, though…is this actually going to end up with a long-term substantial push for Ziggler or is this just another “bait & switch” faux-push that sees him used as fodder for the bigger picture? My guess is that Reigns will be a part of the main event to help Ziggler get a “big win”…then Ziggler will soon be forgotten about. Again.

Sami ZaynI really enjoyed Sami Zayn‘s match last night against The Miz. To me, it was a perfect match for a new babyface on the roster. He sold like crazy for awhile but not too long. Then he came back with fire and got all his shit in…hitting the big moves and looking like a million bucks. You can’t really complain about how he was booked. I’m also intrigued by the tension between Kevin Owens and Miz. Throw in Neville and you’ve got the recipe for an incredibly entertaining Fatal Fourway for the Intercontinental championship at WrestleMania.

Lana & Team B.A.D.The storyline between Brie Bella and Lana is intriguing. I mean, why is Lana constantly after Bella? And why are we being set-up for a WrestleMania wrestling debut by Lana?? It just seems a bit odd to me, but I’m not against it by any stretch. My only hope is that Lana is more capable in the ring than, say, Eva Marie. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m really not looking forward to Lana’s impending relationship with Team B.A.D. because they’ll suck the life out of anybody they’re in contact with.

Triple H vs Dolph Ziggler 1I was quite surprised to see Triple H vs Dolph Ziggler kicking off the third hour instead of being the main event of the show. I guess the confrontation between Vince, Shane, and Undertaker are considered the “main event” tonight. Either that or Ziggler is such a loser that even he brings the WWE champion down from the main event.

Triple H vs Dolph Ziggler 2As I look back on the match I just gotta wonder what the heck the point of all this was. My hope is that Ziggler joins The Authority and revives his career and gimmick somehow. But in the meantime, he’s now without a match at WrestleMania…and unless there is some kind of storyline that focuses on Ziggler (or he is the rumored WWE performer who has decided to not renew his contract when it expires), I really don’t understand the point of all this.

Roman ReignsYou’ve gotta love how fans continue to boo Roman Reigns, even when WWE books him correctly as they did last night. This is the Reigns that we should have seen all along, but at this point I truly believe it’s “too little, too late” in the eyes of the WWE Universe. Yes, he’s still one of the most popular performers on the entire roster…but much like John Cena, he’s become too much of a polarizing figure to truly ever be the “face of the company”. I thought his beatdown of Triple H was booked well and made him look strong, but the loud booing by the live crowd really took away from Roman’s moment of redemption.

My fear is that after Roman’s “fake bloody nose”, the real staples in Triple H’s head will only endear him to WrestleMania fans even more.

Chris Jericho vs Neville 1I feel bad for both Chris Jericho and Neville for their match last night. What should have been a really great back-n-forth contest was cut short due to Neville suffering what appeared to be a pretty serious injury (during the commercial break, no less) and then Jericho had to awkwardly improvise the match ending and post-match promo. Even the AJ Styles “Phenomenal Forearm” seemed awkward because it kept Jericho down so long. Is that the new finisher as opposed to the “Calf Crusher”? The whole segment was a failure, but it really wasn’t anybody’s fault.

Shane vs Vince vs UndertakerI really didn’t like the placement of the Shane McMahon vs Vince McMahon vs Undertaker segment. The real interest of WrestleMania should be Triple H vs Roman Reigns. The problem, though, is that the crowd seems to be split on the interest in that match. So instead of making it the focus of RAW, we’re now focused on the McMahon family battle as the primary selling point of the PPV. I don’t hate the match or anything, but I guess I’m constantly baffled at how WWE scrambles at the last minute and admits defeat without actually admitting defeat (which would be doing the RIGHT thing and turning Reigns heel).

Shane McMahonPoor Shane sounded completely lost during his promo. He’s more interested in the “Shane Shuffle” than focusing on remembering his lines. The in-ring segment didn’t do much to increase my interest in the match, unfortunately. Yes, Shane danced around and caused Taker to go after him, but I don’t believe that Shane can dance around enough to cause Taker to get gassed inside of the cell. I dunno…the whole thing just didn’t hit the right buttons for me.

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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

The wheels are rolling on the WrestleMania train and we’re going through Chicago, Illinois en route to the biggest show of the year. What did WWE give us last night? Let’s find out…Shane McMahon

Shane-o-Mac made his way to the ring to a pretty impressive pop. He had the live crowd eating out of the palm of his hand and had a pretty borderline “shoot promo” on Vince and the current state of the company. Vince came and out tried to garner as much cheap heat as he could…which the Chicago crowd delivered in spades. The segment ended with Shane beating up four security guards who tried to escort him out of the ring, much to the delight of the crowd. I suppose the segment was designed to put Shane over as a legitimate threat to the Undertaker, and because of the hot crowd the segment seemed to work.

Kevin OwensI had heard the rumors but didn’t believe them. Yet last night we saw the (re)debut of Sami Zayn and he went after Kevin Owens, setting up their match at WrestleMania with only a few weeks of build. Listen…I’m all for a Zayn vs Owens match for the Intercontinental championship, but WWE is only giving the WWE Universe a few weeks to see Zayn as a major star. Yes, the vast majority of hardcore fans know exactly who he is but the vast WWE audience have no clue. I just hope they can build him up quickly enough to make the match worthwhile. Thankfully, the Chicago crowd went ape-shit for his music…so those watching from home who are unfamiliar with him will hopefully think he is a big deal based on the crowd’s reaction.

Neville & Sami ZaynAnd for the record, Neville deserves better than this. The guy is someone who could legitimately be a top main-event superstar, yet is always in the role of putting up a great fight, occasionally winning a match, but never being pushed as an upper card star. No, he can’t promo and no, he’s not the biggest guy in the world. But he’s got a fantastic physique and can do things in that ring that others could only dream of and he deserves a better spot than he’s in.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the backstage segment between Dolph Ziggler and Stephanie McMahon. I mean, if WWE really wants to push Ziggler then they’ll update his gimmick and flip him around somehow. The way it is currently is that he looks like a cheap knockoff of Shawn Michaels and his whole act has gotten stale. Putting him into a spot where he’s the “sympathetic babyface” doesn’t really work for me at this point. I just don’t care anymore.

I’m intrigued to see the eventual Lana vs Brie Bella match that takes place (WrestleMania, perhaps??), but I’m still in disbelief at the inexplicable push of Summer Rae. She’s now pinned Paige and Brie Bella. WHY?? She’s better than Eva Marie, for sure…but aren’t there already other women on the roster who can wrestle circles around her? Out of all of the times she’s been pushed before as a sidekick or girlfriend or manager, why choose now to have her be a top wrestling contender to the Divas championship? I just don’t buy it because, quite frankly, she’s not that good.

For the record, though…Lana looked INCREDIBLE. #JustSayin’Lana

I gotta say…I was totally into Dean Ambrose last night for the first time in a long time. I don’t think his promo was meant to pop the crowd, but it was a fantastic promo that had me listening to every word that he said. The whole match with Triple H scheduled for this Saturday really has me questioning whether or not they’ll actually pull the trigger on the Ambrose Asylum. I don’t think they will, but the fact that WWE has me questioning the situation is a win on their part.

Dolph ZigglerAs expected, Dolph Ziggler lost his 3-on-1 handicap match against the League of Nations. After pinning Wade Barrett, he was decimated by Rusev and Sheamus. I mean…did you expect another result? What was telling was how the crowd didn’t really react to Ziggler at all. They popped a bit, but they knew he’d lose. His gimmick is so stale that even a 3-on-1 handicap match can’t garner a ton of sympathy for the guy.

As much as I didn’t need to see five more minutes spent on Shane McMahon, it was very smart to have a highlight package presented for the newer fans who have no idea who he is or why we should buy him as a legitimate threat to actually beat the Undertaker. It was well done in the sense that it showed all of his highspots and made him look pretty impressive.

Tag team matches are exactly what Team B.A.D. need because they are NOT over as a team or a faction. The crowd popped for both Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks (definitely more for Banks), but weren’t really into the match that much because of their opponents. I am really looking forward to the Triple Threat match against Charlotte at WrestleMania. If given enough time, they could have a real shot at stealing the show. They’ve done amazing things in NXT and I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can do at Mania.

And for the record, Charlotte was lookin’ HOT tonight…

Charlotte

Y2AJI was REALLY impressed with the tag team match last night for the WWE tag team championships. But primarily because this was the best showcase of AJ Styles‘ talents since he debuted at the Royal Rumble back in January. He was absolutely spectacular and I was also really impressed with the booking of the final few minutes. As expected, Chris Jericho turned on Styles once the match was over…setting up their eventual WrestleMania match where Jericho can put over Styles on a much grander stage. I don’t really want to see Styles vs Jericho IV, but hopefully they can do something that makes it all worthwhile.

Next up was the announcement of the latest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016: Big Boss Man. In fact, Ray Traylor was #18 on my Top 30 list of wrestlers not yet in the Hall. He’s not a top pick by any stretch, but with runs in the NWA, WWE, and WCW that included being UWF heavyweight champion, WWE tag team champion, and 4-time WWE Hardcore champion…Boss Man is a memorable gimmick and is certainly a decent name to be entered into the Hall. Big Boss Man - HOFRyback 2The next two segments showed the good and bad that WWE has got going on right now. They’re pushing Kalisto as a solid singles competitor and I respect that (even though I don’t think he’s quite ready for the “Mysterio Push” quite yet). They’re also pushing Ryback in a manner that’s believable and interesting. He’s not quite a heel, but he’s certainly not a babyface. I hate to say this, but I might end up liking this new Ryback gimmick as long as he stays neutral. Listen…I’ll give credit where it’s due and Ryback has been working his ass off to become a better in-ring competitor by expanding his repertoire and move-set. He updated his look (though it’s silly that he’s now looking more like Goldberg than ever) and is doing what he can to promo in a believable way. I’m not a fan yet (by a long shot), but I appreciate where they’re going with him right now.

Social Outcasts 2The bad is what they’re doing with the #SocialOutcasts. I think this group has a ton of potential to be a fun upper mid-card faction, but they’re constantly being used as enhancement talent. I think the crowds can get behind them if we know whether or not they’re playing babyface or heel…but right now we really don’t know what they are, thus the crowds pop a bit but then quiet down because they don’t know what they should be doing. Give them some direction and legitimately give them all a chance to showcase what they’re capable of (all four are excellent wrestlers with solid gimmicks in place) and then see what happens. I just love these guys and would love to see what they potentially do (they are very reminiscent of the New Day when they started…maybe almost a bit too much?).

Bray Wyatt vs Dean AmbroseI felt bad for Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt in the main event because the crowd was pretty quiet for the match. And why shouldn’t they be? This is a feud that played out in 2015 with Wyatt winning clean. Now Wyatt’s on some kind of “big match losing streak” that upsets his fans to no end. This is a guy who deserves to be a legit scary bad-ass who wins matches…but he doesn’t seem to win anything these days. So the crowd just wasn’t buying into what they were presented with, even though things picked up a bit once Wyatt and Ambrose gave them reason to get excited.

Wyatt Family 3I mean, this was an excellent match. Now that I think about it, I don’t know if I’ve seen a bad match between these two guys as they’ve got tremendous in-ring chemistry. The match ending prematurely made sense from a storyline standpoint, but I wasn’t a bit fan of it because all the Wyatt Family can do is beat people down before losing subsequent matches. Wyatt and Luke Harper deserve more than that, though…they’re just so immensely talented in a number of different ways.

Bray Wyatt vs Triple HWhat I loved most about last night’s main event was the confrontation between Bray Wyatt and Triple H. It was brief, but the crowd popped for it. And after the staredown, Wyatt’s smile and caressing of the WWE championship (hopefully) set up Wyatt for bigger things down the road. I mean, it’s something that should be happening as Wyatt is absolutely deserving of being in the main event title picture at this stage. WWE wonders why they don’t have any top level heels to carry the company…all they have to do is see how they’ve castrated the push of Bray Wyatt over the past year to see why.

And while I was hoping for a legitimate shake-up to take place this weekend in Toronto, with Ambrose standing tall over Triple H I think it’s safe to now say that Ambrose will lose and the WrestleMania main event is still set in stone. A shame, really…because I think the current slate of matches isn’t the best that WWE could offer.

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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

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: #ThankYouDanielBryan

Man…this is shaping up to be a very emotional night. Unless, of course, it’s a swerve. Either way…we’re in Seattle, Washington and I, for one, can’t wait to see tonight’s show.ThankYouDanielBryan

The original video piece on Daniel Bryan’s retirement was oddly placed, only because he wasn’t the one to kick off the show. I guess they just wanted to push the ratings up for later in the show. Still…I was hoping to see Bryan kick off the show.

Contract signingI really enjoyed the opening segment because there was no wasted time. Everybody wanted to get to the signing quickly so they could to the physicality quickly. Stephanie didn’t go on and on. The crowd popped huge for Dean Ambrose, popped big for Roman Reigns, and popped huge for Brock Lesnar. And what’s funny is that they set up Ambrose to be the “new Stone Cold”, yet it was Lesnar to killed both guys on his own and smiled as he left both men laying. Really…it was a quick and fantastic segment.

Reigns & Ambrose backstageIt was funny to me because backstage Ambrose was grumbling to Reigns about getting Lesnar before the end of the night. I mean, HE was the one who got in Lesnar’s face and tried to imtimidate him. What the hell did he expect? I have zero sympathy for Ambrose at all…and that’s not the way I should be feeling with one of the company’s top babyfaces. Why make him look silly? And then have Reigns just nod in agreement? I dunno…it was funny to me.

Ziggler vs OwensFor some strange reason, we’re getting yet another match between Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler. Based upon last week’s loss (another of many recently for Owens), my guess was that he was going to get so frustrated with his losing streak that he would end up challenging the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Once the match was over and Ziggler cheated to win the pinfall, Owens went nuts again. This only reconfirmed my thoughts on his potential Mania match. There’s a slow-burn storyline here…I can only hope it doesn’t result in yet another Ziggler/Owens match.

The only thing worth mentioning from the Charlotte vs Alicia Fox match was the horrific job that WWE’s Instagram photographer did on Fox. And then I scrolled through the account and saw just how badly this person has done over the past few weeks. The account used to be awesome, but now it’s just amateurish. Man…poor Fox. Just look at this! Is it supposed to be artistic or something?

Alicia FoxAJ vs JerichoI’m liking what WWE is doing with Chris Jericho, The Miz, and AJ Styles. There are three separate storylines going on and Jericho is helping elevate Styles while also helping Miz get back into something meaningful. I could do without all of the talk show segments, but at least they are moving forward with storylines that potentially set-up PPV matches. The segment ended with Styles standing tall, and I’m hoping that this all leads to a Triple Threat match at FastLane. Sign me up for that one!

Ry-bergWho told Ryback that it was a good idea to go to just wearing generic dark trunks? I mean, when all of the Goldberg comparisons had gone away…they all come rushing back when you see him now. All of the top rope moves in the world won’t change the fact that fans just don’t connect with the guy. At least as a heel he had people booing him instead of the tepid polite applause and forced “Feed Me More” chants he’s getting now.

And Bray Wyatt‘s post-match promo was great. It was fast and didn’t ramble. It was poignant but still came across as insane and rambling. It was exactly the kind of promo that Wyatt does best and makes me wonder just what he’s up to next.

#SocialOutcastsI was going to write a paragraph about just how sad it was to see the #SocialOutcasts get jobbed out match after match. But then a distraction led to Adam Rose rolling up Titus O’Neil for the pinfall victory. Of course, O’Neil immediately looked like a sore loser by clotheslining the guy over the top rope…but as an Adam Rose fan from NXT it was great to see him get a pinfall victory. THIS is how you build new stars, even if they cheat to win. It’s what a heel faction is SUPPOSED to do.

You gotta appreciate the faith that WWE currently has with Dean Ambrose. They let him have a microphone at the top of the third hour and call out Brock Lesnar with multiple PG-13 (borderline PG, anyway) insults. That tells me that they’re really trying to build up Ambrose as a potential WWE champion. They’re testing the waters of Ambrose being their top guy…the babyface who is simply too stupid to stay down. He’s a tough bastard.

One shotI like the gimmick, but I don’t know if Lesnar destroying Ambrose does anything to help him. Yes, he’s tough…but how is he on Lesnar’s level now? Why are we supposed to believe that the possibility of Ambrose winning would be anything more than a complete fluke? I liked having Roman Reigns come out to distract Lesnar as it helped move along the storyline. It adds to the Lesnar feud with Reigns and it also adds to the potential Reigns feud with Ambrose. But again…how does a low blow by Ambrose on a distracted Lesnar help Ambrose in any way? He got in a cheap shot after being decimated one-on-one…and I’m supposed to believe that he’s main event material?

Lucha DragonsSin Cara 2.0 returned tonight with his Lucha Dragons partner (and current United States champion) Kalisto. My guess is that Kalisto loses to Alberto Del Rio at FastLane and then regains momentum as part of the Dragons to be a legitimate contender against the New Day at WrestleMania. After tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a multiple tag team gimmick match of some sort that also includes the Usos and the Dudley Boyz. But out of every non-New Day team in WWE, the Lucha Dragons are the only one that is over enough to justify a title switch.

GOLDUST!!The segment with R-Truth and Goldust was fantastically entertaining. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen a bad segment with these two guys yet. The problem, though, will be how to carry that momentum into tag matches. My worry is that the segments will end up being more entertaining than the end product. But if WWE lets them continue to have fun and do their thing, then Golden Truth could end up being the surprise tag team hit of 2016.

Becky vs NaomiI quite enjoyed the segment with Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Naomi, and Tamina. Banks was good on commentary, Lynch carried Tamina to a passable match, and Naomi did a great job attacking Banks and getting killed by Lynch. All around, it told a great story and set-up the tag match set for FastLane. Good stuff.

The 8-man “main event” tables match was alright. It was your standard tables match that was highlighted by Mark Henry being “The World’s Strongest Unicorn” in teaming with New Day.

Eating woodHonestly…is there anything the New Day CAN’T do?? Well…they can’t win a 4-on-3 match-up. After pushing around Henry and trying to tell him what to do, he walked out on the tag champions and left them to do battle one man down. In the end, Big E ate wood thanks to the Dudley Boyz to keep fans happy before the sad retirement speech by Daniel Bryan.

BUT IT WAS ALL A SWERVE!!!

The Dudleyz turned on the Usos and put both brothers through a table. It was old-school heel Dudleyz and if it ends up with a gimmicky “swan song” tag match at WrestleMania, then I’m all for it.

It was then time for one of the most emotional segments I’ve ever seen on RAW…

The show went really long, but I don’t care and I don’t think WWE did, either. I think ratings should hopefully reflect a positive response to the retirement speech. Daniel Bryan spoke from the heart and legit had me teary-eyed near the end when he talked about his father.

At the end of the day, I can’t even describe how sad I am to see one of my favourite in-ring performers have to retire. But let me just say that this is the best possible decision that he could have made and I’m 100% for it. I said months ago that Bryan Danielson needed to look out for his health first over a love for wrestling, and I’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks that there was NO WAY that WWE could bring him back with the scrutiny of concussions going on the way they are right now. It just wouldn’t be smart if he wrestled one more time and got yet another concussion that left some permanent damage.

So as it stands, as sad as it may be to see Danielson have to prematurely end his career…he got to experience the highest of highs and become one of the biggest stars in the entire business. That’s something that 99% of wrestlers never get to experience. There’s GOT to be some peace in that knowledge.

Thank you, Bryan Danielson. The wrestling world simply won’t be the same without you.

ThankYouDanielBryan

*****

All in all, this was a solid edition of RAW. The pacing was good, the matches were good, and the storylines progressed. Everything seemed to have a purpose, which is the first time in awhile that I can say RAW accomplished that task throughout the night.

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