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?

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 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!

The World According to ZAH

Just when you think the world will slow down for a bit, it doesn’t…

Shane McMahon– So Shane McMahon returned to RAW this past Monday night. While the story is obviously “last-second” in nature, I still think it’s believable enough that it could be true…which is kinda the whole point to begin with. The only negative is that the Chairman and CEO of a publicly held company wants to puts the fate of the company in the outcome of a wrestling match. Well…I guess so, right? If it WASN’T a publicly held company, then maybe it’d make a bit more sense. But still…the thought of Shane-o-Mac taking on Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania is pretty insanely intriguing. I don’t know if it’ll happen or not, though…could this all be a set-up for John Cena to return early from injury and face Taker as originally scheduled? To me, that seems more plausible than McMahon vs Undertaker, though it’s being reported that this match was set-up about a month ago when it was decided that Cena couldn’t return from injury in time. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

– Ummmm…please be December 2017 as soon as possible. Thanks!!

Michael ElginMichael Elgin signed a 2-year contract with New Japan last week. As I’ve mentioned previously, while not a huge fan of Elgin I can totally see the potential with him being the new breakout gaijin star in Japan. He could legitimately become the next Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody, or Vader. Yes, I truly believe that he’s got that much potential in NJPW. I could potentially see him “over” enough with New Japan crowds to eventually seriously challenge for the IWGP championship. For whatever reason, he comes across as boring in North America…but he’s tearing it up in Japan.

Triple H vs Reigns 1– In a world where hardcore internet fans seem to be increasingly influencing how casual fans react to superstars, it’s hard to make something that appears to be “real”. Vince did that on Monday night when he dropped an F-bomb during his confrontation with Shane (they edited it out of the live feed, but the crowd reacted). The other thing that happened on Monday was Triple H decimating Roman Reigns‘ face. The entire problem that WWE has been having is trying to make Reigns a sympathetic character when they obviously want him to be the future face of the company. The fans aren’t having any of it and refuse to enjoy this watered-down version of Reigns. They LOVED when he went after Triple H and sent him out on a stretcher. They cheered when he told Stephanie that he was going to send her old man to the hospital. Reigns needs to be a bad-ass, yet WWE continue to try making him John Cena 2.0 and it’s turning the fans against him, even though he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Okay…going back to Triple H’s manhandling of Reigns’ face from Monday night. Here’s the video of the incident for those who haven’t seen it yet:

Unfortunately, the next morning a video came out that appeared to show Byron Saxton handing off something to Reigns off-camera. Reigns then appeared to smear something on his face before he came up with “blood” smeared everywhere. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it yet:

The internet fans immediately went off on Reigns and WWE for giving us “fake blood”.

Mind blownThis made me laugh because…and I hate to break it to you…the world of wrestling has been giving us fake blood for decades now. Sure, the majority of wrestlers decided that blading was the way to go but don’t for a second think that fake blood hasn’t been a part of the industry. The other thing that I hate to tell these “fans” is that this is sports entertainment and (ahem) the entire point of the business is to simulate hurting your opponent. The BEST wrestlers are those who don’t actually hurt the guys they’re in the ring with…but you think they did.

Wait…why am I explaining this?? If you don’t understand what actually encompasses wrestling, then why are you a “fan” of it? You THINK you know…but you don’t really know.

Roman ReignsI feel really bad for Roman Reigns. WWE is really trying to push legitimate injuries in this “TMZ World“, yet we all know that Roman’s nose wasn’t actually broken and he didn’t actually require surgery (though it’s been mentioned that he may have had a pre-existing condition that required minor nose surgery). But that’s okay, though…knowing that Herschel didn’t actually die on The Walking Dead doesn’t make me love the show any less. I mean c’mon people…it’s entertainment! If you can’t sit back and pretend you’re watching something real, then you shouldn’t be a fan. Period.

– I saw the new trailer for a straight-to-video movie called I Am Wrath starring John Travolta and Christopher Meloni this past week. It looked a LOT better than your average “revenge” film, except that one thing kept bothering me. I mean, I realize that Travolta’s fallen on hard times (and hard penises, from what I’ve read), but couldn’t they have gotten him a much better wig?? His hair distracted me throughout the entire film. See it for yourself.

Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar– I don’t know about you, but Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania doesn’t do much for me. Will it be an awesome match? No…not at all. You’ll see Ambrose take a massive beating and take some unnecessary bumps, then he’ll get an occasional offensive move in that startles Lesnar for a bit. Ambrose might even win the whole thing in the end, but their build has CLEARLY shown that Ambrose just doesn’t have what it takes to battle Lesnar one-on-one. He’s been decimated at every encounter and hasn’t been able to do anything against Lesnar other than hit a low-blow or use a chair. Now that I think about it, the only way this match might be interesting will be if it’s a NO DQ match with weapons available…because at least that puts Ambrose on an even playing field. Think back to Lesnar’s match with CM Punk for a minute: at least Punk’s offense was believable. I believed that Punk had a shot against Lesnar. I do not feel that way about Ambrose…at all.

WWE Network– I am absolutely STOKED to hear about this new “WWE Global Cruiserweight Series” that Triple H is bringing to the WWE Network this summer. Here is their description:

“For the first time ever, WWE invites cruiserweights from all over the world to compete in the inaugural Global Cruiserweight Series. Thirty-two of the greatest in-ring competitors under 205 lbs. will descend upon Full Sail University in Orlando and collide over 10 weeks to earn the right to call themselves the best cruiserweight in the world.”

I don’t know about you, but this is extremely exciting. Not only because we’ll get to see high-flying moves and such, but because there are a lot of fantastic independent performers out there that are considered too small for WWE, even now with NXT going after a number of smaller indy guys. I’ll have a post dedicated to just who I think would be great for this tournament, but names that immediately come to mind are:

  1. RicochetRicochet (aka Prince Puma on Lucha Underground)
  2. Neville
  3. ACH (from PWG and ROH)
  4. Kalisto
  5. Hideo Itami (if he’s ready to return from injury by then)
  6. Tyler Breeze
  7. Zack Sabre Jr (from PWG)
  8. Finn Bálor
  9. New free agent Kota Ibushi (one of the most exciting wrestlers on the planet)
  10. Sami Zayn

How’s THAT for a starting line-up?? This really could be an entity in and of itself…a separate roster of just cruiserweights under a different WWE name. So then you’d have WWE, NXT, and whatever the cruiserweights would be called. Really…it’s brilliant marketing strategy by Triple H. But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. We’ll just have to wait and see where this all leads us in the coming months.

Laura James & Joey Ryan– It’s gone viral, but just in case you haven’t seen Joey Ryan propose to wrestler girlfriend Laura James during their match (and then pin her after she accepted), then here it is for you. I’m a big fan of Ryan and have been following him on his YouTube channel for a couple of years now. It’s great to see something like this because it’s original and fun and brings a smile to my face.

Song of the Week comes from a band I don’t normally listen to. When I first saw this video, I was mesmerized. Then the song began to grow on me. A LOT. Regardless of your tastes in music, I think you owe it to yourself to spend five minutes watching this new video by Chemical Brothers (featuring Beck on vocals).

The World According to ZAH

What a crazy couple of weeks…

The big news for wrestling, still, is just what’s going on with the new performers coming over from New Japan and how they’ll be used in WWE. I’ve heard some rumors and I’ve got some theories…

Guns and Gallows 1– The latest rumors have Luke Gallows and Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson debuting on NXT television in March. My immediate guess is that they’ll be heels and won’t be as “chummy” with Finn Bálor as he would expect them to be. Then, on April 1st at NXT: TakeOver Dallas, the team of “Guns-n-Gallows” will help Bálor win his expected title match against Sami Zayn…setting up a “Bálor Club” invasion storyline and a heel turn for Bálor.  This is all “fantasy booking” at this point, though…all of us will find out as the weeks continue.

– This must be a TON of fun for Bálor at the moment, because he’s been sending out extremely interesting things via his social media accounts…

#FinnBálor #KarlAnderson #LukeGallows #BálorClub #suplexwrestling

A post shared by Finn Bálor (@finnbalor) on

Shinsuke Nakamura 1– The latest on Shinsuke Nakamura is that he will be done with New Japan by the end of January and will then report to the Performance Centre in February to begin working out and complete the required WWE medical tests.  Then what? My guess is that he’ll probably debut in NXT under different name at some point after WrestleMania and then work up to the main roster. At 35 years of age, I think WWE realizes that they don’t have a ton of time to waste with Nakamura and will want to use him as quickly as possible.

AJ Styles– The biggest question right now (to me, at least) is just what WWE plans to do with AJ Styles. The latest is that he was scheduled to be a surprise entrant at the Royal Rumble but that changed once word got out about him coming to WWE. I’ll have a podcast on that very subject up in the next couple of days, but my guess is that he’ll use his own name, similar to Samoa Joe, and debut at the Royal Rumble. I could be way off, though, but I just feel that Styles has a big enough name that he could debut in the Rumble and the crowd would go nuts. I don’t think he needs to go through NXT, but that might just be a “pipe dream” as it seems EVERYBODY has to go through NXT, regardless of their history. Still…a Rumble debut could gauge just how long Styles stays in NXT. A massive pop and buzz could mean a fast-track to the main roster, where a big pop and general WWE Universe question marks could lead to him being in NXT for awhile. I don’t know, but this is a major story and I can’t wait to see what happens (if anything) at the Rumble.

James Storm NXTFor folks wondering if “Cowboy” James Storm was going to pop up on NXT television again…wonder no more. It seems as though the “just-under $100,000” contract offer he received from the company couldn’t match the $200,000+ contract offer given to him by TNA. I mean, can you blame the guy? Regardless of whether or not TNA survives another year or gets booted to yet another television channel, Storm did what he had to do in order to provide for his family. I’ve read that there is no burned bridge between him and WWE so a potential player/coach role down the road is still a possibility…though unlikely.

So here’s a question…is John Cena truly out for WrestleMania? He had shoulder surgery last week but there has been no official word on his return date. Dr. Jeffrey Dugas performed the surgery and said the following:

“He had a complete tear of a small portion of the rear rotator cuff tendon, the infraspinatus — toward the top-back of his shoulder — which I repaired. Also, there was a large piece of loose tissue in his shoulder that needed to be removed.”

Cena shoulder surgeryThe original estimated time out reported online was 6-9 months, but that was for a torn labrum…which turns out was not the actual injury. Here’s the thing…with Cena, you NEVER know how long he’ll be out. He’s returned from bad injuries in a LOT less time than originally diagnosed, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to still see Cena compete at Mania. I think it’s unlikely, but it’s still potentially a possibility.

Mad Max wtfI’m not going to get into how racist this year’s Oscar nominations appear to be because it’s a group of primarily white people sitting around nominating other white people for pats on the back. Having said that, however, a HUGE congrats to Mad Max: Fury Road for being one of the movies nominated for Best Picture. I never would have thought that this would be possible prior to watching it, but as I’ve said during my movie review and with my Best Movies of 2015 post, this was absolutely one of the BEST movies of the year and a cinematic beauty of a film.

Tyler Breeze & Summer Rae 2Hey…have you been sitting back (like me) wondering why the push for Tyler Breeze suddenly died? I mean, he finally got called up to the main roster and got a really nice debut with a PPV clean pinfall victory over Dolph Ziggler only to be put on the backburner and losing his potentially awesome valet, Summer Rae. So what’s the deal? Apparently, in yet another blatant example of him being completely out of touch with today’s sports entertainment audience, Vince McMahon didn’t see what Triple H saw in Breeze and put the brakes on his push. Triple H saw Breeze as an upper midcard heel (similar to Ziggler’s status) capable of Intercontinental or United States championship gold. Not only that, but the marketing potential of someone so unique and different and NOW with their gimmick was written all over the wall. Vince, however, didn’t see star potential in Breeze so now he’s back to being an afterthought…which is ridiculous.

New Japan might be losing another Bullet Club member while two other roster members have given their intent to stay with the company. Last week, Tama Tonga sent out this tweet…

Does this confirm he is leaving the promotion? I’ve read nothing official yet, but it appears to be the case. Will he follow his friends to WWE? I think the guy has a ton of potential, so I hope that WWE is paying attention.

Two other roster stars, longtime New Japan favorite Rocky Romero and Bullet Club member “The Underboss” Bad Luck Fale each confirmed their intentions to remain with the company.

CloverfieldI woke up this morning and nearly crapped my pants when I saw that there was a trailer online for the previously unannounced “sequel” to Cloverfield…which is one of my favorite movies. From what little information is out there (including statements from producer JJ Abrams), 10 Cloverfield Lane is a “blood relative” to the original film, but isn’t to be considered a direct sequel. In fact, the end of the trailer could very well be the end of the movie and the entire film may be a “contained thriller”, where 99% of the movie takes place inside of the bunker.

SlashFilm.com has already dug into things and has reported the following:

“After further evaluation, I have concluded that the trailer is for the movie that was going under the working title Valencia. The film, which shot in New Orleans in late 2014, has been editing deep inside the mystery box of Bad Robot Productions, which had an extra shell of security due to a little film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  The original script made the rounds under the title “The Cellar”…and as far as we know, the story follows a young woman who wakes up in a cellar after a severe car accident and fears she has been abducted.

“Her captor, a doomsday prepper, tells her he saved her life and that there has been a terrible chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable. She does not know what to believe and as tensions rise, she decides she must escape, regardless of the terrors that await outside.””

This could be the result of what the government had to do in order to try killing the original Cloverfield monster, but it’s all just guessing at this point. I have no idea what this movie will be like, but the trailer for this movie has me extremely intrigued.

Johnny & CandiceIt was announced this week that wrestling couple Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae were recently engaged (Gargano…you went all-out for a very impressive proposal…kudos!). I’m a big fan of both so to see their relationship develop into this love is pretty awesome.

Congratulations to both!!

Wyatt Family 5WWE has been discussing the possibility of debuting Sister Abigail and adding her to Bray Wyatt’s stable for some time now. Lately, however, the discussions have been getting pretty serious. The question then becomes…who plays Sister Abigail? Is she a “real” sister (i.e. a nun) or is she “related” to Bray? Is she older or younger? If you bring up someone from NXT, the only person I can think of who would fit-in with the Wyatt’s would be Nia Jax (once repackaged, obviously). I don’t know if any other woman on the roster has the chops to pull off the role and play it legit. Because she’s been on NXT television in her own gimmick, though, I doubt that she’d be chosen to play the part.

Sister AbigailI think, however, that WWE can go one of two ways with this gimmick. They can either bring up someone from the Performance Centre who hasn’t debuted on NXT television yet (which is possible since it was already done with Braun Strowman), or hire an actress for a non-wrestling role who can truly put on a believable performance (as they did with Lana). Either way, this is going to be very interesting to see as there have been hints at a Wyatt Family babyface turn…which is something I do NOT want to see yet. Sister Abigail would help the faction remain extremely heel-esque.

F4WOnline reported the following yesterday:

Royal Rumble“For whatever it is worth, the finish for Royal Rumble is written and whatever it is, it is going to lead to a big match at Fast Lane since they want that to be an A-level PPV and not just a stop on the way to WrestleMania.”

Could this be Triple H screwing Roman Reigns out of the WWE championship, leading to their match at FastLane? I don’t know what other match it could be at this point that would make any sense. I thought they’d save Reigns vs HHH for Mania, but with all of the injuries hitting the roster right now everything is up in the air.

My Song of the Week comes from one of my favorite rock bands, Disturbed. Their incredible remake of the classic Simon & Garfunkel song “The Sound of Silence” is something that needs to be heard with the volume turned up all the way. This is truly a re-imagining that’s worthy of your attention.

RAW Thoughts

By all accounts, tonight’s episode of RAW should be a good one with the return of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to the show, along with the fallout of last week’s revelation that Roman Reigns will have to defend his WWE championship in the upcoming Royal Rumble match. As we’re officially beginning “The Road To WrestleMania“, storyline advancement should be moving right along…

CM Punk memeI know that it’s become predictable to start RAW with an in-ring segment, but I enjoyed this one. They are booking Roman Reigns perfectly as the “one versus all” motto is being used against him. But this is how you HAVE to book Reigns in order to garner any type of sympathy for the guy. If you want fans to cheer for him, then you have to book him in a way where he doesn’t seem like he’ll automatically win EVERY match.

They built up Bray Wyatt by having him show up under the spotlight, they put over the fact that being friends with Roman has its drawbacks (i.e. Dean Ambrose being attacked by Sheamus before their match), and they stressed the fact that anybody could become world champion as long as they all worked together to toss out Reigns during the match (Vince even specifically pointed out Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, & the New Day). This is exactly why the Rumble is so much fun…you just don’t know what to expect (unless, of course, you count the past two years where the ending was sadly predictable, hence the negative reactions each year).

Sheamus vs Dean AmbroseI’m normally bored by any Sheamus match, and this one wasn’t a whole lot different. I mean, the guys tries and all…but there’s just something about him that bores the hell out of me 90% of the time. I liked the fire that built-up with Dean Ambrose near the end of the match (Sheamus does put in 100% effort every time) and I really liked the double count-out “battle to the death” finish, but I LOVED the post-match attack by Kevin Owens. It’s been too long since somebody went nuts during a feud and continued to attack his nemesis. Owens is the perfect heel to do this and he’s truly earning his way up the card.

Vince, Steph, & PaulIt was intriguing to see the backstage segment between the McMahons and Paul Heyman. I mean, you would think it’s obvious that Brock Lesnar would be entered into the Royal Rumble match and be a potential winner, but Heyman wants Lesnar to simply be named the #1 contender so that he can challenge the winner of the Rumble at WrestleMania. I wonder where they’re going with this because the last time I checked, Lesnar was a babyface. Is this not the case? You just never know with WWE Creative, but I’m interested to see where this leads to.

Stardust 4I’ll be the first to admit that I’m finally beginning to be won over by Stardust. At this point, it’s no longer a character…it’s a gimmick that Cody Rhodes has been LIVING. He has put everything into getting it over and I think he has done a really good job of doing so. Listen…I’m not saying he’s main event talent by any stretch, but I’m impressed by the hard work that Rhodes puts into his role and I respect him for that.

Having said that, kudos to Stardust for making Titus O’Neil look decent two weeks in a row. I don’t understand why Titus is getting pushed (outside of the fact that he’s a really great role model…he’s not that great inside of the ring). The post-match beatdown by Stardust shows a vicious side that he should’ve been displaying all along…especially when he aligned himself with the Ascension (is that done now?).

Chris JerichoI pretty much tuned out of the entire Chris Jericho / Usos / New Day segment. I’m sorry…I used to be a MASSIVE Jericho fan 15+ years ago, but I don’t want to see him be the focus of any segments in 2016. I don’t want to see the “Jeritron 6500” and I don’t want to hear his lame-ass catchphrases anymore (that haven’t changed in 15+ years). I don’t mind seeing him make surprise appearances and wrestle because he can still go in the ring, but all you have to do is see the throngs of people who were sitting on their hands during his appearance to realize his place in the 2016 WWE.

Usos vs New DayThe tag match was alright, I suppose…but it was nothing I hadn’t already seen before between these two teams. This is why new blood is needed on the main roster. If it were up to me, I’d call up Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady…they’re definitely ready for the opportunity. Hell…you could even fast-track Jason Jordan & Chad Gable if you really wanted to. I just don’t think the Usos are the answer because the New Day are still so damn OVER right now. I mean, tag title matches against the Usos cover the Royal Rumble and possibly Fastlane. But then what? What’s your WrestleMania tag team title match? 

John CenaMichael Cole mentioned John Cena‘s shoulder surgery last week and said that he’d be out “a number of months”, but was out of the hospital and rehabbing the very next day. Cole didn’t specifically say that Cena would miss WrestleMania, so I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that he makes a miraculous recovery (as he has done in the past) and returns to help the company sell out ATT Stadium.

JBL was standing inside of the ring to announce what WWE had noted on their website and social media feeds earlier today…that Sting was going to be the first entrant inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. I think it’s absolutely deserved, as I was a fan of Sting when I was younger. I went from graduating high school and going into my first year of university with a poster of Sting on my dorm room wall. This is a pic circa 1990. Dorm room circa 1990Social OutcastsI don’t even know what to say about the Social Outcasts “stepping up” to take on the Wyatt Family. If it weren’t for Ryback making the save, all four men would have ended up demolished. I don’t think they’ve got main event potential, but WWE needs to give them an opportunity to grow and shine and catch on for more than a damn week before feeding them to a more dominant team. It’s silly.

Coming up next…

Well, at least Kalisto tried to give a promo. I’m sure he’ll improve eventually. But yeah…keep “giving it your all” and hope for the best.

Kalisto vs Alberto Del RioAfter taking responsibility for injuring John Cena and causing him to miss the Royal Rumble AND WrestleMania, Alberto Del Rio proceeded to decimate Kalisto in their United States championship match. This was basically a retread of their Smackdown match (only without John Cena at ringside) with a little bit more Kalisto offense thrown in to make it feel like he could actually win. I’ll give credit where it’s due…Del Rio has been fantastic inside of the ring since his return. He’s in phenomenal shape and has been putting on some really great matches. He did his best to make Kalisto look strong while decimating him at the same time. I knew that WWE Management was high on Kalisto, but I didn’t think they were willing to pull the trigger on a singles title run at this point. This was a nice surprise title switch and it’ll be interesting to see where they go with him leading into WrestleMania. Kalisto - US champion

I couldn’t be happier to see Becky Lynch attack Charlotte in “retribution” for what happened on RAW and Smackdown last week. Primarily, I was happy to see that I didn’t have to watch Brie Bella wrestle. I love that the storyline continues between these two. Good stuff here…especially Becky’s post-run-in promo backstage.

The “One Versus All” match between Roman Reigns and the majority of heels on the WWE roster was basically a Reigns vs Kevin Owens match. I loved that they saved Owens by having the heels jump Reigns before Owens could be beaten…it keeps him strong. I think Owens put on one hell of a performance.

Lesnar & HeymanThe performance by Brock Lesnar, however (along with the crowd’s reaction), only goes to show just how much of a superstar he is compared to the rest of the roster. He absolutely decimated everybody (including Reigns) and in three minutes was the star of the entire night. It’s nice to see, but the difference in crowd reactions just goes to prove how much more work WWE needs to do in order to build some new stars. As it stands, it’s going to be difficult to deny the fact that Lesnar’s star power shouldn’t place him (again) in the main event of WrestleMania. Because of that, it makes this year’s Royal Rumble outcome even more intriguing.

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

RAW Thoughts

EvolutionI’ve been spending too much damn time re-writing RAW recaps over the past few months. Sure, they were awesome…but it actually took away from my enjoyment of the show itself. Instead of recapping the entire RAW episode going forward, I thought I would look at the fall-out from the angles, storylines, and provided.

  • Ambrose vs ReignsTo me, there is only one marquee match-up for Survivor Series based on the current bracket…and that’s Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose for the WWE championship. The obvious result would be either Reigns winning clean (unlikely) or Ambrose turning heel and joining The Authority. I don’t think either of these options is going to happen, though. I really believe that Triple H will end up convincing Reigns (behind the scenes, of course) to join Triple H & Roman Reignshim and you’ll see Reigns be the one turning heel on Ambrose during the match. He’ll win the title and go on a monster run as they try to build-up either Ambrose or John Cena as top babyface contenders. I could be way off (and I don’t normally like to “fantasy book”), but I just think the opening segment with Triple H and Roman Reigns was a “red herring” so the big “shocking event” that will take place at the PPV.
  • Taking a look at the tournament bracket itself, I was a little surprised at some of the names entered and some of the names were WEREN’T entered. Survivor Series
  • KalistoIt’s extremely interesting to see Stardust, Kalisto (pictured at right), and Tyler Breeze being part of the tournament. It’s interesting because Stardust is absolutely losing to Alberto Del Rio. I mean…some on. It’s a no-brainer. And Kalisto taking on Ryback?? I’ve said for months that Kalisto could very well be Rey Mysterio 2.0 if booked correctly, but I really don’t think his time is now. And I REALLY don’t think that Kalisto can defeat Ryback…so it’s just an extremely odd choice for the tournament.

But what about those who weren’t entered into the tournament?

  • Bray Wyatt 1Bray Wyatt, to me, is the obvious first choice. I mean, I completely understand that he’s going into a different direction and the end to RAW last night gave me chills (thank you, Manchester crowd…you popped just as you should have when both Undertaker & Kane appeared last night). But are you going to tell me that Stardust or Kalisto deserved to be in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament more than Bray Wyatt? I mean…a Brothers of Destruction tease or a count-out or something could have helped Wyatt save face in a loss, but he deserved to be in the tournament.
  • John CenaJohn Cena‘s phone call must have been ringing off the hook when the injury to Seth Rollins was confirmed. I realize that he’s on “vacation” and it doing things that are non-wrestling related (he was a co-host of The Today Show on Monday morning), but man…I’m shocked that Vince wouldn’t want him to come back for this. Is Cena truly ready to pass the torch to the new generation? Is he done going after world championship reigns? I doubt it, but I still think it’s surprising that he didn’t come back early.
  • Brock LesnarBrock Lesnar charges an arm and a leg per appearance and per match, but Vince’s pockets are deep and it may have been worth it to bring him back to go after the title again. Where there is already precedent with him being off the air for weeks at a time while being champion, it could have a legitimate option given the depleted star power over the next couple of months. So yeah…Lesnar not being involved did surprise me a bit.
  • Heath Slater 1I would have loved to see someone like Heath Slater get an opportunity to participate, but I understand that it simply isn’t a legitimate option right now.  I’m also a bit surprised by Kalisto being in the tournament but no other tag team members (i.e. Big E, Kofi Kingston, Bubba Ray Dudley, Darren Young, or either one of the Usos or the Ascension). I’m certainly not suggesting that any of them win the whole thing, but a tournament like this is a great way to push new stars by creating upset situations. Maybe that’s what we’ll end up getting with Kalisto? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
  • Kevin Owens 1I love how they are pushing Kevin Owens right now as Intercontinental champion. He takes a beating the majority of the match, yet finds a way to win…by hook or by crook. Whether it’s an eye rake that somehow cripples a man (ugh) or it’s hitting a pop-up powerbomb out of nowhere, he’s not one of those “losing champions” like Wade Barrett…and that is probably the most important thing right now. He is at the point where he needs to garner “cheap heat” in order to get booed because the live crowds are cheering him loudly, primarily out of respect for what he can do as an all-around performer. There are big things on the horizon for Owens, but damn…the dude needs to drop a few pounds.
  • Becky Lynch 2Becky Lynch has got a VERY bright future ahead of her. As I’ve noted previously a number of times, she really is the total package. She’s got the looks, the in-ring ability, the charisma, the promo skills and the personality. I don’t know if I fully enjoy her current “PCB feud” but if it gives her a chance to shine inside the ring, then I’m all for it. It’s funny…I think she was a side thought down in NXT, but she’s really found a way to shine over the past year.
  • Paige 1Paige is doing fine in her role, but her gimmick seems old and worn out already. I love her…don’t get me wrong. She can wrestle rings around most of the women (and the men!), it hot as hell, and has that “it factor” that so many performers simply don’t have. But it’s been two years with the same gimmick and the only thing different is whether she’s a face or heel. Something needs to change to make her fresh because the attitude changes aren’t enough at this point.
  • Charlotte 2Whether they are doing it on purpose or not, WWE Creative is turning live crowds against Charlotte (much like they did with Roman Reigns a year ago). They are trying to say that the heels are only putting down Charlotte because she’s the daughter of Ric Flair and has been given everything handed to her with a silver spoon. The problem is that the Diva heels aren’t really all-out heels as they are being cheered almost as much as every other Diva, attributable to WWE Creative’s poor handling of the entire “Diva’s Revolution” thus far. Charlotte also gets “bad-ass” comments to say in her promos and interviews, so she comes across as cocky and arrogant…making her inherently unlikable to a lot of fans. WWE really should have the world by the balls with Charlotte being their champion, but that’s not the case at the moment. I’m not sure how they can fix it, but it needs to be fixed SOON or else Paige won’t be the only one turning heel without any real reason or legitimate explanation.
  • The MizAs happy as I am to see Dolph Ziggler move past the first round of the tournament, I’m sad to see The Miz be the one on the losing end. If not given a “comedic heel” character, Miz can be a super-over heel when pushed correctly. This would have been a PERFECT time to reboot his gimmick (again) or at least give it a boost. He has proven that he can carry the ball when given the opportunity, so I was actually hoping to see Tyler Breeze cost Ziggler his match and Miz moving on to Round 2.
  • Alberto Del Rio 1I’m all about Mex-America, but unless Zeb Colter gets up and moving around soon, the gimmick will be dead in the water. Why? I mentioned it last week…Colter in a wheelchair or scooter garners sympathy to his character, whether he’s trying to garner cheap heat or not. Because of that, it’s tough for the audience to truly want to boo the man. And Alberto Del Rio has never been the best promo guy, so having him speak WITH Colter only makes for a confusing dynamic. The twosome can easily turn into a successful new faction in time, but it’s just not working for me right now.
  • Team B.A.D. 4I don’t know what the deal is with Team B.A.D. or where they’re going with it, but I do not want to see Sasha Banks as a babyface yet. She’s just not that type of performer and doesn’t get over that way. Does anybody want to see Banks take on Naomi or Tamina in a series of matches? I’ve said it before…Sasha Banks is to Team B.A.D. as Rocky Maivia was to The Nation of Domination. Keep the team together but let Banks take the lead. She’s the real star and seems to be the one that the WWE Universe wants to see in the spotlight more than the Bellas or Becky or Paige or even Charlotte. Her career trajectory should be interesting over the coming months.
  • And I’m sure Natalya was legitimately injured, but damn…that match against Naomi was the drizzling shits and no, it wasn’t all Natalya’s fault.

  • Cesaro 1I mentioned in my column on Canadian Bulldog’s World yesterday that I’ve been impressed with Cesaro‘s attempts to be more charismatic and personable inside of the ring. That was super-apparent during his match with Sheamus. And damn…he is really firing on all cylinders at the moment. If there is anybody who can really benefit from making it to the semi-finals, it’s Cesaro. The fans WANT to cheer for him, but he is booked to lose too damn often. Give him a run and you’ll see the fans respond.
  • Ambrose vs BreezeI thought Dean Ambrose vs Tyler Breeze was a great match, but I was SHOCKED to see WWE book Breeze in a match that he was destined to lose. Seriously…what the actual fuck??? Why should I take Breeze seriously now? If you bring in a new superstar to feud with somebody, aren’t they supposed to go on a winning streak so you can take them seriously as a threat? I thought Breeze looked fantastic in the match and they even had a built-in reason for him to win with Ambrose selling a shoulder injury from a bad landing, but he ended up losing to a small package. Jesus…that’s just some booking bullshit right there.

  • The Usos 1The Usos are a great tag team and I’m sure they’ll be the eventual new champions by beating New Day at some point down the road, but the Power of Positivity Train is steamrolling along and now isn’t the time to take the titles off of them. It should really be a very entertaining program, though, as all five men can “go” inside the ring. I think it may have been smarter to have the Usos work their way back up the card, but it certainly doesn’t hurt them to be thrown into a title program right away.
  • Brothers of DestructionI totally popped at the entrance of Undertaker and Kane (thanks again, Manchester crowd!) and thought it made perfect booking sense for the two of them to clean house on the Wyatt Family. It was a temporary bit of revenge that wasn’t the same as an actual match, so the interest should still be there to see this feud explode at Survivor Series. And yes, as cheesy as it may have been to see the Brothers of Destruction do all of their old-school spots, it was still pretty cool knowing that they are both entering the end of their careers.

Lots of things going on last night. It was a pretty good show and I’m really hoping the ratings reflect that. These, obviously, are just my thoughts.

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