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?

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!

The World According to ZAH: 11-06-15

Soooo much going on in the world. So few opportunities to write about them all with you getting extremely bored…

Seth Rollins injuredSeth Rollins injured his knee at a show in Dublin, Ireland during a match with Kane. He knew his knee was hurt right away, but he finished the match like a true professional (and a muthafuckin’ boss).

Survivor Series tournamentUnfortunately, he ended up with a torn right ACL, MCL and medial meniscus. This brutal injury will keep Rollins out of action for 6-9 months (removing him from the WrestleMania equation), which has resulted in WWE announcing a tournament to take place at Survivor Series where a new WWE champion will be crowned.

Seth Rollins 1What I hate about this is that Rollins is the best thing going in WWE right now. He’s a true superstar who will be the face of the company for years to come (no, not Roman Reigns…sorry). This halts an incredibly entertaining initial title reign (one of many in the years to come, I’m sure) prematurely and leaves WWE without a lot of star power as John Cena, Randy Orton, Rusev, & Brock Lesnar are considered to be “off the radar” over the next couple of months.

ZAH ThoughtsWhile I’ll be writing a column about potential new WWE champions on Monday for Canadian Bulldog’s World, the potential list of who can carry the company over the coming months and into WrestleMania is not a big list. The potential Triple H vs Seth Rollins match is completely off the table now, so other plans for the WWE title or the main event match at Mania will either have to be changed around or the timetable pushed up.

Sheamus 1What I love about this, however, is that this really forces WWE to make some tough choices and, hopefully, take some chances. As I’m sure any current WWE fan will attest, there are quite a few superstars who are currently not getting the push that they probably deserve. If older stars like Sheamus, Big Show, Kane, and John Cena are thrown back into the main event title mix, that would hopefully leave room for newer stars like Neville, Cesaro, and Heath Slater to get on a roll and start doing something in the upper midcard title picture.

The next couple of weeks are going to be extremely interesting for WWE.

– LAST-SECOND STAR WARS UPDATE!!

Within the past couple of hours, there was a new international trailer released for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This new trailer includes a lot of scenes not appearing in the previous trailers. Don’t know if it will remain on YouTube for long or not…so have at ‘er!!!

Cesaro 1– As previously noted, Cesaro is someone who deserves a legitimate push without all the “start/stop” nonsense that WWE Creative is used to. I truly believe that he is really trying to be more personable and charismatic in the ring lately. He’s trying to interact with the crowds more and his in-ring performances have gotten the fans excited to see him. I have totally appreciated his efforts with this. Does this mean he’s deserving of being the next top superstar? No…I think his lack of promo ability hurts his chances of being a “top guy”. But I do believe that he’s 100% deserving of a solid upper midcard position as IC or US champion (along with, y’know actually winning matches). Cesaro should definitely be rewarded for his recent efforts.

– I have to admit, I wasn’t overly excited about the new Quentin Tarantino movie coming out. I should have known, though, that he rarely disappoints me when it comes to his films. At this point, I think the only movie of his I haven’t seen yet is Django Unchained. After seeing this trailer, I think I might give that movie a shot because The Hateful Eight looks pretty damn good…

The Cosmic Wasteland 1Stardust & the Ascension could end up being an extremely entertaining trio, if given the right push. Stardust used a periscope to watch Cesaro perform on Monday Night RAW (not the app, but an actual periscope)…which just goes to show how bloody entertaining he and his character/gimmick can be if used properly. On one hand I feel bad for The Ascension and how they’ve been booked since their debut on the main roster. On the other hand, I don’t really think they are really that good inside the ring, if I’m being completely honest. But if they can be used as Stardust’s lackeys, then this could be the second coming of the Three Man Band…and I mean that in a good way.

Becky Lynch 1Becky Lynch is going to be a HUGE Diva superstar in due time. Her personality and charisma are off the charts (as is her beauty). And something that WWE is already starting to utilize is her promo ability, which at this point are totally spot-on. She’s one of the few Divas that can have a REAL personality and character, so as long as they continue to use her in a very similar way that accentuates her positives, she could be the next breakout Diva to go mainstream.

– The new teaser trailer was released this week for the follow-up to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t really scream out “awesome” to me. The first movie was extremely unique and original and fun, and while the sequel has a lot of the same attributes, it doesn’t look quite as good. Take a look for yourself.

Tyler Breeze & Summer Rae 2– I’ve been saying for months that Tyler Breeze was ready for the main roster. Recently on Smackdown, WWE agreed and threw him into an immediate program with Dolph Ziggler and has him partnered with Summer Rae (which I actually suggested before the Smackdown tapings took place). I love the storyline and can’t wait to see what they do with him. The key to his success was showcased last night, as he wasn’t put over as a “joke model” guy, but rather a “model with a temper”. I Tyler Breeze & Summer Rae 1think the only way for him to get over as a legitimate upper midcard heel (due to his smaller size) is for him to continue displaying an aggressive mean streak. Ultimately, that will be the only way for him to get over as a legitimate threat to some of the bigger babyfaces on the roster (even the relatively small Ziggler and Summer Rae are taller than Breeze). The fear, obviously, is that he’ll eventually fall down the card to end up hangin’ out with the likes of Fandango…but I think he’s talented enough to make an impact.

Lucha Dragons 1– I’ve been waiting patiently for WWE to push the Lucha Dragons as a legitimate babyface tag team. Thankfully, that looks like it may be happening after their big win over King Barrett & Sheamus on RAW.  Of course, they were then destroyed by the Wyatt Family on Smackdown…so who the hell knows what the situation will be with them? But on Monday, at least, the crowd popped huge for their victory on Monday and they seemed to be into the team for the majority of the match. After seeing them perform at a live event with my son, I know just how popular they are and how over they can be as long as they are (as mentioned previously) booked the right way.

Alberto Del Rio 1– I don’t know if I’m yet truly buying into the whole “Mex-America” gimmick with Zeb Colter and Alberto Del Rio, but with Zeb’s promo skills and Del Rio’s ability I see big things for the two of them. I don’t know if a faction is in the works or not, but there’s certainly potential. My only hope is that Zeb is okay and not pushing himself too hard. The downside to Zeb is that him being on the scooter makes him a sympathetic character, and that’s the complete opposite of what WWE wants him to be. I’m really hoping that he’ll be able to get up and walk around soon. If he can’t, then I wonder if he should be thrown into this particular gimmick.

Alberto Del Rio 2While I’ve never been the biggest fan of Del Rio, I’m LOVING his aggressive character. He was always an aggressive heel, sure, but he really seems more angry and passionate about what he’s doing right now. On top of that, but I’ve seen three different finishers by Del Rio since he returned, showing his diversity inside the ring and the ability to beat anyone at any time with anything. He’s in unbelievable condition and I can see him battling for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series…perhaps even becoming champion one more time.

– I’m really looking forward to the upcoming Deadpool movie, as it appears to be everything a Deadpool movie is supposed to be. Having said that, this little teaser from last weekend on how Deadpool spent his Halloween is just a little reminder on how awesome the movie may be…

– If you caught the new behind-the-scenes WWE Network program Breaking Ground after RAW this week, then you saw an incredible show. My ONLY complaint is that it’s just not long enough at 30 minutes. I love that they focused on the NXT newbies in this episode and I’m really looking forward to seeing them focus on some of the NXT superstars in the next episode.

Trump– I honestly do not understand how Donald Trump is leading ANY poll in America. I don’t even care what party you vote for…this man is a joke. I cannot fathom how much of a downfall America will spiral into if Trump actually becomes president. Of course, it’s not like the Republicans seem to have a ton of other choices at this point…like ANOTHER fuckin’ Bush family member. Thankfully somebody like Stephen Colbert can make fun of both of them equally.

The New Day 2I cannot stand how much I popped for the return of Xavier Woods to The New Day this week. Good lord…I just love these guys so hard that it’s actually embarrassing. And really…as much as I’d love to see Woods get more in-ring opportunities that aren’t strictly humor-based, his elimination from the match was perfect for his gimmick and character. Loved it.

Kingsman– I absolutely CANNOT believe that I waited until this week to actually watch Kingsman: The Secret Service. I had heard good things about it, but didn’t think that the movie looked nearly as good as the buzz was. Thankfully, I was 100% wrong because this movie is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best movies of 2015. The church scene alone was fucking unreal and worth the price of the blu-ray. WATCH THIS MOVIE.

the_walking_dead_– Last week’s 90-minute episode of The Walking Dead was one of the most gripping dramatic television shows I’ve ever seen. I really hope the episode is nominated for an Emmy because it absolutely deserves to be recognized for how incredible it was. This is a case where the show wasn’t simply “a show about zombies”, but a show about drama and people and stories that make you care about what you’re watching. If only wrestling could find a way to do something half as good.

Steel Panther 1Song of the Week comes from a band I just highlighted a few weeks ago, Steel Panther. I’m set to see them in concert and break my Panther cherry next Thursday. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am about going…and I’m a grown-ass man. I’ll talk more about them next week, but in the meantime enjoy their killer video for Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World

RAW Thoughts

The BOlieving DeadWe’re in the wrestling hot-bed (and one of my favourite cities in the entire world) of Chicago, Illinois as WWE tries to (a) improve their ratings against baseball playoffs AND Monday night football and (b) get people interested in the upcoming PPV, Hell in a Cell. You gotta wonder what kind of show WWE will give us tonight, so let’s find out!!

Corporate Kane– We learn right out of the gate in a backstage segment that Stephanie and Triple H will be “late”, so Corporate Kane is in charge of the entire show tonight. He proceeds to create a lumberjack match between himself and Seth Rollins…which should obviously only go to try making Kane a legitimate threat for the WWE World Heavyweight title even though everybody and their dog knows he’s not going to win.

– Instead of yet another in-ring diatribe, we’re kicking off the show with Dean Ambrose hitting the ring to tell the world that he’s looking for a fight. In a bit of a surprise, out comes Randy Orton

Orton proceeds to tell Ambrose that a new match has been made for Hell in a Cell: Braun Strowman and Luke Harper will take on Ambrose and Orton.

Both men want the other to “follow my lead” and both agree that they cannot be trusted. As they continue their conversation, they are interrupted by…

New Day

THE NEW DAY!!

They can’t believe that Orton and Ambrose are talking about the Wyatt’s instead of them, as they destroyed the Dudleyz, Dolph Ziggler, and John Cena last week. They proceed to provide a super-entertaining promo (even making Orton smile at one point) before being interrupted by Corporate Kane, who makes a match between New Day and Ambrose & Orton.

Orton vs KingstonThe first few minutes saw the babyfaces dominate, not only before the break but afterwards, as well. I thought that Orton and Ambrose did well with subtly showing a bit of competitiveness, trying to one-up each other in the ring. That subtlety then turned into a very apparent competition, with both men inside of the ring talking to each other. Not arguing, exactly, but conversing sternly.

We came back from another commercial and the heels finally had the advantage. You gotta love New Day…they went from being hated for sucking so hard, to being absolutely loved for being so entertaining, to being hated again for being dominant heels. It’s been a very impressive transition. Orton vs Kingston 2

Ambrose & Orton vs New DayOnce the hot tag was made, the crowd really came alive as the babyfaces were running wild all over the place. The end came, however, when Orton was about to deliver an RKO to Kingston, but he was pushed into Ambrose (who fell out of the ring) and was rolled up for the pin.

Ambrose and Orton showed resent and frustration with each other, but nothing else materialized from it.

– Apparently, Nikki Bella is about to take on Naomi. I’m sorry, but if this is the Divas Revolution that WWE wants to give me, I’m NOT interested.

What’s weird is that they promoted the incredible main event from NXT TakeOver: Respect between Bayley and Sasha Banks, who is also on Team B.A.D. with Naomi. Ummm…if you’re going to promote Banks, why are you having Naomi wrestling?? Bayley vs Banks

Naomi vs Nikki 2You want to know the difference between NXT women and the Divas? The NXT matches look like a match that two men would have. They’re absolutely incredible and just happen to have women in the roles. These matches look like women wrestling. I can’t really describe it any other way. There’s just a very apparent difference in the booking of the matches.

Banks takes out BellaBrie Bella grabs the microphone and tries to start a “We want Sasha” chant. Banks takes her out but somehow this distracted Naomi to the point that Nikki pinned her. I guess we now know why they’re pushing Banks with Naomi doing the wrestling: they’re trying to turn Banks and split her from Team B.A.D., which is a good idea because that team sucks the life out of everything they’re close to.

Seriously…look at this picture taken from last night’s WWE Instagram account. Out of the three of them, who oozes star power?

Team B.A.D.

Up next…

John Cena US open challenge– It’s now officially time for the John Cena U.S. Title Open Challenge. While the crowd is heavily divided, I can’t complain with this gimmick. I’m really loving the match-ups and Cena has never worked harder in the ring to put on a good show. In addition, the U.S. title has been elevated to a point it hasn’t been at in a very long time. So…the only question is who will answer the challenge this week?

Dolph Ziggler‘s music hits and out comes the man who (apparently, on Total Divas) wants to have kids with Nikki Bella (i.e. Cena’s girlfriend). The announcers, though, hint about his current relationship with Lana.

Holy shit…Cena even grabbed the microphone to address the situation as the Chicago crowd was going crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that before. And really…out of all the places to propose, you do it during a John Cena match on RAW?? All kinds, I guess…

The match itself was good in the beginning. I mean, I’ve seen both in better matches, but the highlight came near the end. The second half of the match had the crowd eating out of the palms of their hands. For me, though, once Cena kicked out of a SECOND ROPE DDT, I knew that Ziggler wasn’t going to win.

THEN John Cena kicked out of the Zig Zag. Sigh.

Cena then hit the AA out of nowhere and got the clean pinfall.

Cena vs Ziggler 1Listen, I don’t have a problem with Cena kicking out of one finishing move per match. All of the main event guys do that from time to time and it really helps pop the crowd. But at this point, Cena kicks out of moves that should KILL guys. To have him kick out of everything doesn’t help him; it actually hurts the business. I mean, a normal DDT is the finisher of Dean Ambrose. Why does his work when a second-rope DDT fails? It just doesn’t make sense to me. It reminds me of how ECW was gradually killing the business back in the late 90’s because nobody would take a pinfall unless they were pretty much dead. The business scaled back a bit and the results have been really good. But Cena\s dominance in this fashion just cannot continue. I don’t mind him winning, but it’s the moves that he kicks out of that bothers the shit out of me.

– The Dudley Boyz make their way to the ring to beat up The Ascension. I guess this whole “Cosmic Wasteland” gimmick with Stardust has already been forgotten and their potential push is already dead…is it? Anyway, it didn’t take long for the Dudleyz to make short work of the Road Warrior wanna-be’s. Yawn.

Neville is teaming with Cesaro to take on Sheamus and King Barrett. I’m intrigued by the match-up as it’s fresh and different. I’m looking forward to this one.

I gotta say, I was impressed with the offense that both Cesaro and Neville got in early. I thought they could end up being a pretty great team. Unfortunately, Neville got hit by the Bull Hammer from out of nowhere and the match was over before it really got started.

Goddammit…why are they continuing to bury fan favourites Cesaro & Neville??

Reigns vs Strowman– I don’t know if I see a clean finish here, but I think this is a big test for both men. Can Roman Reigns carry somebody green to a passable match? And can Braun Strowman make his offense look good enough to have a one-on-one match-up with somebody?

Reigns on the micReigns grabbed the mic and proceeded to recap the entire feud between him and Bray Wyatt. The longer this went, the worse it got for Reigns. The crowd hit him with a “WHAT?” chant right out of the gate. The crowd then hit him with a “BORING!” chant. Reigns, to his credit, addressed each chant and actually shut them down. But man…Reigns needs to be short and sweet. That’s his gimmick…that’s his character. He doesn’t need to deliver a promo like this. Goldberg never did: in…out…done.

Reigns vs Strowman 2Y’know, while this was far from the greatest match of all time, I think both men did exactly what they needed to do. Strowman played his part extremely well, selling when he needed to and hitting big power moves at opportune times. Reigns did a great job at selling when he needed to and hitting big-time offense when HE needed to, making things as believable as possible. In the end, Reigns won by count-out after things spilled to the outside.

Rusev vs Ryback 1– We’re all set for Rusev vs. Ryback. Ugh…poor Rusev. I mean, the guy should be in a main event storyline and continuing his dominance. He’s extremely talented in every aspect, but for some reason WWE has dropped the ball with him.

Anyway, they actually acknowledged the TMZ story that Rusev and Lana are now engaged…which I didn’t see coming. What’s even stranger is that Summer Rae still accompanied Rusev to the ring. Really?

No…what’s even stranger was that Ryback got a CLEAN PINFALL VICTORY over Rusev. Jesus…I’m at a loss for words. I don’t get it. Not even a screwjob. Christ on a cracker. Don’t even get me started on the fact that the crowd was flat (AGAIN) for his win. He just isn’t the super-over babyface that Vince wants him to be. Goddamn… Ryback vs Rusev 1

Once the match was over, Summer Rae called out Rusev for the TMZ story, called him names, and slapped him in the face. So I guess she’s back to being a babyface but what does this mean for Lana? I sure hope that WWE has some decent storylines in store for the duo because I want these two back together causing hell like they were a year ago.

Kevin Owens vs KalistoKevin Owens is continuing his weird feud with the Lucha Dragons, as he is ready to take on Kalisto. If you want to see an example of just how incredibly talented Owens is inside of the ring, all you have to do is watch the big man sell some of the little man’s moves.

The match was one of the more entertaining of the entire night. In the end, Owens absolutely killed Kalisto with a brutal powerbomb. Great stuff.

Team NBC– Divas champion Charlotte & Becky Lynch (#swoon) are in the ring and ready to take on Brie Bella & Alicia Fox. Paige is at ringside on commentary, Nikki is in the corner of Team Bella, and Natalya is in the corner of Charlotte and Lynch.  The match didn’t last very long, but it did the job of putting over storylines after a clusterfuck ending. Nikki Bella tried to interfere, Natalya came to help, Paige took out Natalya, Nikki interfered with Charlotte, and Brie ended up getting the pinfall. Just a booking mess from beginning to end.

– So Corporate Kane told Seth Rollins that he was not going to be facing him in a match, per Triple H. He did say that he would find a suitable replacement, though. My guess? “Demon Kane” because, technically, it’s not “Corporate Kane”.

Lumberjack Match– As expected, out came “Demon Kane” to take on Rollins. Sigh.

Kane intimidatesThe match wasn’t really much of anything at all. Kane was dominating the entire match…and intimidating people along the way. It’s pretty much what they have to do in order to generate interest in Kane as a legitimate challenger for Rollins.

At one point, Big Show confronted Kane on the outside and was met with a punch for his efforts. Show then hit him with the Knockout Punch and walked to the back in disgust. Yet ANOTHER turn for Show? Sigh. Big Show punches out Kane

Kane sits upIn the end, the New Day pulled Kane out of the ring and the lumberjacks all went at it on the outside. Then New Day got the heels to start attacking Kane on the inside of the ring, being the ring leaders. The babyface lumberjacks then took out the heels and we were, again, left with Kane and Rollins.

Kane hit a Tombstone piledriver for the clean pinfall and, I’m sure, WWE now believes that is enough to convince people that Kane could possibly win the WWE World Heavyweight championship at Hell in a Cell. I think WWE is insulting their fans’ intelligence, but what can you do? Tombstone**********

So the show wasn’t too bad. I’d dare say it was better than last week’s RAW. But what are YOUR thoughts? Sound off in a comment below or via social media and let me know!

TWITTER – @_ZAH_

FACEBOOK – The World According To ZAH

RAW Thoughts

Super Cena 3We are in a sold-out TD Garden in Boston and ready to jump-start some record low RAW ratings. How much will Vinny Mac blow his wad on tonight’s show? I guess we’re about to find out…

– Yeah…we’re kicking things off with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman, so Vince is pulling out all the stops first-thing. Not that I’m complaining, though…I tune in for Lesnar.

Heyman & LesnarHeyman laid down another killer promo to tell the world that Hell in a Cell will be the ending of the Undertaker. He recapped the two previous matches between the two, first with the match that ended “The Streak”. After showing a video package where Lesnar destroyed Undertaker at WrestleMania, there was a mix of boos and cheers. Heyman then talked about the rematch, where Taker tapped out but the referee didn’t see it because he was on the other side to count a pinfall. One low blow later and Taker won the match by submission after Lesnar passed out.

At this point, Heyman stated that this would be the LAST TIME that Brock Lesnar would face the Undertaker. One would be declared the winner of the war; the other wouldn’t walk out of the cell at all.

Lesnar & ShowOut of nowhere, Big Show decided to come out and interrupt the end of Heyman’s promo. Lesnar sat back and began to laugh a little bit. After a small “Please Retire!” chant, Show began to speak. He offered his hand to admit that Brock is “The Man”. Lesnar laughed it off and walked away. Show then baited Lesnar into a fight, but Lesnar QUICKLY hit an belly-to-belly overhead suplex before hitting the F5. No matter how many times I see that feat of strength, it never ceases to amaze me.

– Backstage, Seth Rollins told Stephanie McMahon that he couldn’t have his tag team match later tonight with Show as his tag team partner because Show wouldn’t be 100% (Really? Two hours from now?). Stephanie told him to “figure it out”. I wish the Authority would either be heels or babyfaces. I mean, if Rollins is “their guy”, then start acting like it. I hate that they try to act like babyface authority figures sometimes when they treat Rollins like crap. It’s ridiculous.

6-man tag teamRoman Reigns is making his way to the ring as we are about to go to commercial. Vince is REALLY trying to hit the ground running tonight. Once we come back, the babyfaces are in the ring and ready to battle the Wyatt Family, who then make their incredibly awesome entrance.

Ambrose vs StrowmanI see a lot of “Braun Strowman sucks” comments online right now and yes, they’re completely warranted. Having said that, Strowman isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Vince sees a massive man and a monster, and his old-school thinking makes him believe that is enough to get someone over in 2015. Will Strowman ever be a huge star? Probably not, but I see his career progressing similarly to the Great Khali. You all know what Khali was like at the end of his run, don’t you?

Anyway, the match had heat early to progress from the incredible end to last week’s RAW, as Reigns went after Bray outside of the ring. The faces even joined together to knock Strowman out as the heels took a powder and we went to commercial after about two minutes of action. Strange.

Harper vs OrtonThings ended up being a “normal” match…not the incredibly hot and awesome 6-man matches that we used to get with The Shield taking on the Wyatt’s. That’s probably because every time Strowman got involved, things grinded to a screeching halt so he could continue being a killer that Vince loves to put in the ring.

Reigns vs HarperThe match picked up a bit near the end once Reigns made the “hot tag”. In fact, the crowd was going crazy as the babyfaces won once Orton hit an RKO on Harper, followed by an INCREDIBLE spear by Reigns (props to Harper for making it look so good). 

I’ll be honest…I’m REALLY looking forward to the Reigns/Wyatt Hell in a Cell match. If there was any WWE match this year that deserved a bit of colour to really put the “blowoff match” over, it’s this one.

Sheamus vs Neville– “Mr. Money in the Bank” Sheamus is ready to destroy what he calls “a loser” in Neville. After a quick little promo of insults, Neville attacks Sheamus and is destroying him. King Barrett, sitting on commentary, said that he simply wanted to talk to Neville…which caused him to get caught with a Brogue Kick and a one-minute pinfall. Thanks for coming out, Neville. Thanks for continuing to put over new stars, Vince. Sigh…

Kane vs Rollins 1Corporate Kane is inside the ring and explaining to the crowd that Seth Rollins now needs a new partner because Big Show is unable to compete. At this point, Kane appoints himself as Seth’s partner. Rollins comes out and disputes the idea. As they argue, out comes Stephanie McMahon. Sigh…

Steph on my tvMcMahon proceeds to make a match at Hell in a Cell with Seth Rollins vs Demon Kane, then agrees that he should be Seth’s partner tonight. THEN she says that if Demon Kane doesn’t beat Rollins for the WWE title, then Corporate Kane will be fired. Interesting…

Seth Rollins is now backstage talking with Triple H about the Kane situation. Trips gives him more sound advice…“Do unto others before they can do unto you.” Goddamn…why are Triple H and Stephanie now playing opposite sides of the same fence??

– It’s Diva time with Natalya taking on Paige. These two are completely capable of having a killer match if given the right circumstances and time. Do you think it’ll happen? No…I don’t, either.

Natalya vs Paige 1The match was pretty good, but over a little too quickly to be considered anything more than that. They did the best they could given the time that they had and the crowd didn’t crap on them so they should consider it a win. Surprisingly, Natalya won clean by making Paige submit to the Sharpshooter. I wonder where WWE Creative is going with Paige right now because her heel turn hasn’t resulted in any wins…so what’s the point?

In a post-RAW interview, Becky Lynch talked about Paige and Charlotte and, to me at least, displayed a great deal of charisma and charm. I see big things for her and her character.

Kevin Owens– We are graced by the presence of Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens. Apparently, on the RAW pre-show there was a verbal disagreement between Owens and the Lucha Dragons, so a challenge was made and we’ve now got Kevin Owens taking on Sin Cara. Uhh…okay. At least it’s a fresh match-up.

Kevin Owens vs Sin CaraWell…the match was basically a quick squash. Whatever…at least Owens was on RAW. Once the match was over he went after Kalisto and was about to give him a powerbomb on the ring apron before Ryback ran down for the save. The crowd was indifferent to Ryback, which has been the case lately. I understand that Vince believes that Ryback can make him a ton of money, but the guy just doesn’t have the natural charisma to get the fans firmly on his side.

– Backstage, Stephanie runs into the New Day. She proceeds to make a match at Hell in a Cell between the tag team champions and the Dudley Boyz. Again, Steph was acting like a babyface. I don’t get it.

Kane & Rollins vs Dudleyz 1– In a bit of odd timing, we’re getting Seth Rollins & Corporate Kane vs the Dudley Boyz at 15 minutes before the start of the third hour. Kane tries to start off the match, but his ankle hurts too much so Rollins tags himself in. This is the story for the first part of the match, then Kane decides to “play ball” and his team start to take over. Just before we go to commercial, we get a “We want Sasha” chant…to show Vince just how popular this incredible Rollins vs Kane feud really is. Kane & Rollins vs Dudleyz 2

At one point, Kane’s ankle was so bad that the ringside doctor wanted to take Kane out back. Rollins wouldn’t let that happened and actually handcuffed Kane to the ring post.

Kane hurt 2After a bad collision, though, the cuffs broke and the doctor ended up taking him to the back…again. Realizing that this meant Demon Kane would be making an appearance, Rollins was distracted and the match continued. Bubba and Devon made a comeback and were about to bring a table into the ring when Rollins dropkicked it first, causing a disqualification (really??).

As Rollins tried to leave, Demon Kane appeared and proceeded to decimate him. Just as he was about to chokeslam Rollins, the Dudleyz hit the 3D on Kane.

Rollins was about to leave when he saw the table, re-thought things, and threw the table into the ring. Once he set it up, as you’d probably expect, Demon Kane “woke up” and chokeslammed Rollins through the table. Sigh… Kane puts Rollins through a tableSasha Banks & Team B.A.D.Team B.A.D. come out and you can tell it’s tough for Sasha Banks to hold back her giddiness at being back in her home city getting a big pop. Even better, Banks gets to deliver a promo before the match even starts. Unfortunately, Team Bella interrupt her to crap on her and Boston…drawing the cheap heat (it’s about time they actually TRIED to be heels for a change). God…the Bellas can’t promo to save their lives. Neither can Naomi. Ugh.

The match was actually a good WRESTLING match. I mean, it had story and psychology and the heels beating down a single babyface until a hot tag was made. In this case, this meant Banks. A few seconds later, Banks had Alicia Fox tapping out to the Bank Statement for the win. Bank StatementSummer Rae proposes to RusevSummer Rae is in the ring and (badly) introduces Rusev. She then introduces a video package about the “relationship” between the two of them. I mean, really? This duo isn’t getting over and simply isn’t believable. Why is it getting pushed down our throats? It’s not working.

Sigh…Summer gets down on one knee to propose to “Ru-Ru”. Seriously.

Rusev said “Yes…but not yet.” He said that once he has WWE gold around his waist, then Summer Rae will have gold around her finger.

Cena Open ChallengeJohn Cena– They’ve been pushing the US Open Challenge all damn night. If this person is a letdown in any way, I’m gonna be pissed. Give me somebody new who John Cena can put over…or at least make to look good.

Dolph Ziggler‘s music hit. Sigh. I mean, I know it’ll be a great match and all, but ugh.

Then Ziggler didn’t come out when his music played. Instead, The New Day came out…dragging a “beaten-up” Ziggler with them. They did a bit of a promo before unleashing Big E as the challenger for Cena.

Big E vs John CenaThe match was alright and all, but it really should have been an opening match and not the night’s main event. Once Cena defeated Big E, the tag champs began attacking him. Out came Ziggler to “save the day”, but he accidentally superkicked Cena…taking him out of commission.

Then the Dudley Boyz came out to help, but they were also destroyed by the champs. The show ended with New Day strutting up the aisle with their trombone while four babyfaces lay decimated in the ring…making a serious statement.

**********

All in all, the show was a giant “meh” for me. There was a lot going on, I admit…but I even asked on Twitter if I was alone in thinking that, creatively, the show was falling short. These were some of the responses I received…

So while I’m glad I’m not alone, I’m saddened to see that WWE continues to not be as imaginative in their presentation of their product as they could be. Vince may be a genius in the business, but he’s out of touch with today’s audience. Sports Entertainment doesn’t HAVE to be silliness or PG-rated nonsense. You can have great stories that are based in reality and push people that the fans want to see succeed, not who you think might have a chance at being the next big muscle-bound superstar (ex: Ryback).

I’ll be interested to see the ratings for this week. My guess is that they won’t be a lot higher than last week.

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

TWITTER – @_ZAH_

FACEBOOK – The World According To ZAH

“Live From Madison Square Garden” Predictions

While not a PPV by any stretch, tonight’s WWE Network live airing of a house show from Madison Square Garden is still a pretty big deal. As such, I thought some predictions might be in order…

Lesnar vs Show - MSGBrock Lesnar vs. Big Show

I think you know as well as I do that Big Show is NOT winning this match. The fact that they’ve gone from having Sting decimate him on RAW to having Show destroy everybody in his path over the past couple of weeks (ex: Cesaro, Mark Henry) hasn’t really done a lot to give Show a realistic chance at beating Lesnar. I understand that they have really tried to build Show up, but at this point it’s a case of “too little, too late”. But obviously, it wasn’t going to do much difference anyway.

Right now Brock Lesnar is an attraction. People don’t tune in to see Lesnar for a 5-star match (although he is quite capable of delivering with the right opponent). No, people tune in to see Brock Lesnar destroy other people.

While this match is the main attraction for most, it’s really just a reason to show Lesnar is a positive light. Sure, Big Show will probably get in a bunch of offense, but at the end of the day Lesnar will put on a tremendous performance that will keep him in the “WrestleMania main event” discussions for next year.

WINNER: Brock Lesnar

Rollins vs Cena - steel cage MSGJohn Cena vs. Seth Rollins (steel cage match)

At this point, I don’t know if it’s going to be a title match or not. I haven’t seen it advertised as a WWE World Title match or a United States title match, so I’m going to predict based on that. To me, obviously, the winner will be Cena if the titles aren’t on the line. And yes, I fully expect Kane to make an appearance and be either (a) the reason Cena wins, though unlikely, or (b) the person who destroys Rollins after the match is already over.

In the 70’s and 80’s, the cage match was a spectacle. This was the place where feuds went to end and, usually, it was a bloody end. The use of colour was the best way to show the dangerous nature of the cage and also mask the limitations that the cage put on the match to begin with.

In the PG era, you’re not going to get blood. Instead, a lot of the high spots that performers use to get a match over are restricted due to the cage…meaning that you have to REALLY be a good in-ring performer to keep the crowd into it. Thankfully, these are two of the best in the entire world…so the match should still be a decent one.

WINNER: John Cena

New Day vs DudleyzThe New Day vs. The Dudley Boyz (WWE World tag team title match)

For me, this is the only match that really means something in terms of future storyline potential. Ever since the Dudleyz returned to WWE, they’ve been super-over and on a fast track to the WWE tag team titles. The only problem, obviously, is that current champions The New Day are the most over act on the entire roster. They just won the titles back so it really doesn’t make sense to take it off of them already.

Having said that, this would make for a HUGE “crowd pop” moment and one that really means something to the Dudleyz. I mean…winning a title at Madison Square Garden?? Hell yeah…that’s pretty damn awesome.

From what I’ve heard, this match will set-up another rematch at the Hell in a Cell PPV. For me, this screams out short-term “here’s your one-more tag title victory” for the Dudleyz so that their return can mean something, then New Day will regain the belts yet again at the PPV.

WINNERS: Dudley Boyz

Owens vs JerichoKevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (Intercontinental Title match)

I read yesterday that Jericho has flown in friends from Calgary (including Lance Storm) for this show to celebrate an anniversary of him in the business (or something like that). Regardless, let’s not think this means anything because Owens is NOT losing the Intercontinental title to Jericho tonight. Period.

Having said that, this should still be a pretty kick-ass match and is one to look for.

WINNER: Kevin Owens

Orton vs SheamusRandy Orton vs. Sheamus

Listen…I’ve been a fan of this feud for some time now. But enough is enough already. Let this please be the blow-off to the feud. I mean, their matches have been stiff as hell and there have definitely been some highlights, but we need to end this so both guys can find new directions and storylines and guys to wrestle.

Orton is on a reduced schedule and Sheamus is the Money in the Bank title holder with continuous teasing of cashing in. Because I don’t think Sheamus will win whatever match he cashes the contract in on, I think he needs to be winning more. It’s the whole “Vince Reverse Psychology” thing.

WINNER: Sheamus

Ziggler vs RusevDolph Ziggler vs. Rusev

This storyline lost a ton of steam as soon as Dolph hooked up with Lana and Rusev hooked up with Summer Rae. The two pairs just don’t gel at all. If anything, Summer Rae and Dolph could be a very cool heel tandem. And for the love of all that’s good and holy, Rusev NEEDS to be re-paired with Lana so they can both regain their momentum.

I mean…c’mon, Vince…Lana doesn’t NEED to be a babyface hot chick right now. She was thriving as the mouthpiece for Rusev. Was she popular? Sure…but she can still be a Russian bitch who puts down America. Or whatever…just put her back with Rusev.

Oh yeah…the match. I hate it when they let the babyface win just to pop a house show crowd, but I can see Summer Rae costing Rusev his match…again.

WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

**********

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

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