Saturday, August 1, 2015

Coming to an End

I will likely be ending this blog soon. Not that I've ever consistently posted on it.

The ultimate reason being I am starting a wrestling podcast after Summerslam. Yes, I know there are plenty out there, and ones I know do a better job than I could. But hopefully my friends and I will find our niche.

This podcast, called 1-2-3 Podcast! (simulating a three count), won't be a straight up recap/review podcast, and we won't be necessarily covering every show. In the beginning, it will likely just be WWE Raw and PPVs on the Network. Maybe we'll branch out from that, we'll see.

This podcast will be joining my growing network of podcasts on Zone4Podcast.com. I hope you all check it out!

Since I'll be doing that podcast, and it will be on the Zone 4 site, I may just take to occasional blogs there instead of here. I've enjoyed having this avenue for when the mood struck me, but frankly I just don't watch wrestling timely enough anymore to keep this up regularly. I also am stuck watching the 90 minute Hulu version of Raw (hoping to change that after Summerslam though). So it just makes sense to move on from this blog, which is now 7 years old with only 140 posts (wow, 7 years?!). It's time to say goodbye.

Speaking of saying goodbye, two of the wrestling greats, Dusty Rhodes and Rowdy Roddy Piper have passed away recently. Piper just yesterday. I was shocked to hear the news of both, and very saddened by the loss.

I grew up watching both of these legends perform, loving every minute. As great as they were in the ring, they were even better on the mic. These two were two of the greatest talkers the wrestling business has ever seen or will ever see in my opinion.

I will be talking more about both on the first episode of 1-2-3 Podcast! as I just simply lack the time to do the topic justice here right now. But I wanted to say something, because I truly miss them both. I never had the pleasure of meeting either of them, but I followed their careers from the early '80s when I was a kid just getting into wrestling. Back then I watched everything I could, from the CWA, to the AWA, to the NWA, to the WWF and everything in between. The USWA, WCCW, UWF, you name it. If it was on TV, or I could find a VHS of it, I saw it. I was obsessed. And these two were two of my favorites.

American Dream and Rowdy One, you will both be greatly missed. May you both dine with kings and queens, and change all the questions!

RIP.

-B

Monday, March 30, 2015

Wrestlemania 31 Results

Yesterday, just hours before Wrestlemania 31, I detailed my predictions for Wrestlemania. I scored 6 out of 9, though technically probably 5 and a half. Let's see what I got right and what I got wrong.



First off, I didn't realize that the tag match was also moved to the Kick-Off show (or pre-show). And since it was the first match, let's start with it.

I predicted that Cesaro and Kidd would retain their titles. And guess what? They did! So I was 1 for 1 right off the bat. And it really was a good match overall, save for one of the Usos getting hurt at the onset.

Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way Match

Prediction: Cesaro & Kidd retain.

Result: Cesaro & Kidd retain.

Next up was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, and I had predicted a couple of things. One, I predicted that Ryback would win, which he didn't. But he was in the final four. I also predicted Miz and Mizdow would go at it and one would eliminate the other, which did happen. But that's where it ended. The final four were Ryback, Big Show, The Miz and Damian Mizdow. I had also predicted that Curtis Axel would be the first to be thrown out, and he was. So really, I get extra points for that one!

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Predictions: Axel first out, Ryback wins.

Results: Axel first out, Big Show wins.

Kicking off the actual show was the ladder match for the IC title. My prediction was Ambrose, but if you recall, for me it came down to Ambrose and Bryan. It really could have been either one, but I have to stick with my choice.

This was a fantastic match with lots of great spots, including a power bomb through a ladder that I thought broke Ambrose' neck for a minute, and a Zig-Zag from the top of the ladder. Ultimately, Bryan won.

Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title

Prediction: Dean Ambrose wins.

Result: Daniel Bryan wins.

Orton and Rollins then put on a fine match, I thought, with lots of great false finishes. Plus both min kicked out of each others' finishers to sell how good they are. They played up how similar the two are, Orton coming from Evolution and Rollins from the Shield. It was a good match, and the finish some are saying was the best RKO ever.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins with J&J Security

Prediction: Randy Orton wins.

Result: Randy Orton wins.

Next up was the Sting vs. HHH match, and I was surprised at how early on the card this came. And I'll have to admit, this is the match I'm most disappointed in on the entire card. Plus, HHH's Terminator entrance was cool at first, but quickly became lame.

Most of the match was awesome. The two squared off toe to toe, traded blows and showed their stuff. Sting was no selling and chest pounding like he always did, and HHH was knee dropping and face pounding like he's good at.Sting wouldn't go down, but neither would HHH. But then it happens. DX comes running to the ring. Billy Gunn, Road Dog and X-Pac. Sting takes them all three out, but then turns around and gets a Pedigree. And kicks out! Ok, that was fine. But then the NWO come down. Hall, Nash and Hogan. A brawl ensues between the NWO and DX. Sting gets HHH in the Scorpion Death Lock, then out of nowhere comes HBK with Sweet Chin Music to take Sting down. But he still kicks out. Sledgehammer vs. Bat, Sting breaks the hammer in half with the bat. After some back and forth, though, Sting goes for a second Stinger Splash in the corner, but HHH grabbed half the sledgehammer with the head still on and knocks Sting out for the 1-2-3. After the match, the two shake hands, but then HHH pats Sting on the face as if to say "Good job, kid." which felt so patronizing.

Here's my problem: Sting said this had nothing to do with WCW vs. WWE, that would be stupid. He went into this to take HHH down because of his abuse of power all these years. It wasn't about him representing WCW. So what happens? It becomes about WCW vs. WWE, and of course they couldn't let WCW win on "the grandest stage of them all." So like Sting feared all these years about coming to WWE, they jobbed him out and punked yet another WCW star out just to feed their own egos. That was complete and utter crap.

Sting vs. HHH - No DQ

Prediction: Sting wins.

Result: HHH wins.

I may get the order of these next two wrong. But I think next was the Divas tag match. I should mention at some point, though, that there was a backstage segment with Daniel Bryan where a bunch of former IC champs came in and congratulated him. Like Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, and Ricky Steamboat, who misquoted Macho Man. It ended with a Ron Simmons catch phrase.

There was also a musical performance which was pretty decent, but I'll admit, I took a break at that point.

So Paige and AJ went up against the Bellas. And it was a very solid match with a lot of time for the Divas. A lot of back and forth, a lot of saves, and Paige getting beat up by both Bellas for a while. The end was AJ's Black Widow submission on Nikki for the win, and Paige and AJ celebrated.

Paige & AJ vs. The Bella Twins

Prediction: Paige & AJ win.

Result: Paige and AJ win.

The best entrance of the night goes to Rusev, who came to the ring... in a freakin' tank! I was on a Facebook group chatting and joked that Cena should repel from a Blackhawk, but Cena just had his normal entrance after a video package showing various American Presidents speak about what makes America so great. The match was as you would expect, very back and forth, and lots of false finishes. Cena tried to step up his game by doing a springboard stunner! It was slightly botched, but A for effort there. Rusev got visibly frustrated that he couldn't put Cena away. Lana, who during the Kick-Off apologized to Rusev and asked if she could join him, for some reason threw her shoe in the ring, which served absolutely no purpose. Later on, she got on the apron and Rusev accidentally knocked her off leading to him getting the Attitude Adjustment and losing to Cena.

United States Title Match

Prediction: John Cena wins the belt.

Result: John Cena wins the belt.

To stretch for time trying to wait for it to get dark, HHH and Steph entered the ring to announce the record-breaking attendance, and to say they owned everyone in the company and in the building. The Rock made a surprise appearance, trash talked, but then got slapped hard by Steph, who then taunted him about hitting a woman. He went outside and got UFC fighter Ronda Rousey to join him in the ring, teasing a confrontation between her and Steph. More trash talking, and then the Rock attacked HHH and beat him out of the ring. Ronda did a throw on HHH at some point, but just grabbed Steph's arm and held her then shoved her down. It was anti-climactic but okay.

Only two matches left, so obviously it's time for Taker vs. Wyatt. Before the event, it was reported that Wyatt suffered some kind of injury to his ankle or some part of his leg in a warm-up match. He pulled through and pulled off a solid match, but you could tell he was in pain. Taker, while looking better than he did last year by a fair margin, was still winded and you could see age taking its toll. He didn't do any huge spots this time, but all his signature stuff was there. Wyatt gave him a run for his money, though, and solidified how good he was. Then the perfect spot I was waiting for came. Wyatt Sister Abigailed Taker, both men were down, Bray gets up on his hands upside down all The Grudge like style. And Taker sits straight up and looks at him. Not too long after that, a second tombstone sealed Wyatt's fate.

Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

Prediction: Undertaker wins.

Result: Undertaker wins.

The main event was next, and it was what everyone expected. Reigns was put through the paces, taking suplex after suplex and getting beat down. He had a few flurries here and there, even stunned Lesnar with some knees and kicks to the face. The fans booed Reigns every time, and that made me sick. I like Reigns and think he deserves his spot, but the fans just won't give him a shot. But anyway, Lesnar did the F5 early and Reigns kicked out. After beating him down quite a bit, he delivered another one, and Reigns kicked out. Later, Reigns came back. Lesnar was slapping him and Reigns asked for more and then started laughing. Lesnar started suplexing, but Reigns came back with three Superman punches and two spears, but couldn't put the big man down. Lesnar with a third F5, but both men are down. And then the music hits. Rollins is cashing in! The match becomes a triple threat. Rollins tosses Reigns out and delivers two curb stomps to Lesnar, but it's not over. Reigns back in, curb stomp to him for the win, Rollins over Reigns. So I got this one partly right.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

Prediction: Reigns over Lesnar, Rollins cashes in and wins.

Result: Rollins cashes in pinning Reigns, Brock never beaten.

Thinking about it, that finish made more sense and should have been obvious to me. Lesnar loses without being beaten. It's cheap, and I was hoping for more, but there you have it, Rollins is your champ, and I'm counting that one as a win.

All in all, I think my predictions were pretty good, and the event - aside from the Sting/HHH finish - was a far better 'Mania than last year's anniversary one. I really enjoyed this one and found myself on my feet during the last match.

I can't wait to see what's in store for us on Raw. And I really hope this wasn't all Sting came for, to job to HHH at 'Mania. That would suck.

If I were to give the event a rating, I'd honestly give it a 4.5 out of 5.

-B


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wrestlemania 31 Predictions

It has all come down to this day. The WWE's Super Bowl. Today is... WRESTLEMANIA!



This is the time of year where all the story lines from the "WWE Universe" come to a head and get settled. The aftermath is the reset that gives us new feuds and surprises. But before we can get to that, we go through the Meca of "Sports Entertainment" or as we older fans like to call it, "Professional Wrestling."

This year, the card is pretty stacked. In fact, it's a better card than the epic WM 30 last year in my opinion. And though there are a lot of fans out there that aren't too keen on Roman Reigns, I like the kid and think he deserves to be in the spot he is in.

There are so many good matches on this card that should be a blast to watch. Four hours for the main show, and another hour for the pre-show.

So let's start out with the pre-show itself. As you may or may not know, the second annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has been moved to the pre-show to make room for all the other matches on the WM card. A lot of people are upset about this when the Divas match was kept on the card, but I think it makes sense. Last year, it meant something. It was the anniversary of Wrestlemania, and Hogan was hosting. This year, it's a battle royal. Move it to the pre-show, I have no problem with that.

So here are the participants in the battle royal according to WWE.com:

The Miz, Curtis Axel, Ryback, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, Jack Swagger, Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, Big Show, Kane, Erick Rowan, Damien Mizdow, Sin Cara, Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Konnor, Viktor, Hideo Itami.

Breaking these down, I would have much rather had the Prime Time Players in the Fatal Four-Way match for the Tag Titles than here, but I get why that didn't happen. And the Ascension are too new to get that opportunity as well. But both teams will job out here. Poor Goldust is on his way out, Ryder and Swagger are nothing but jobbers, and what else could you do with Big Show and Kane?

The Miz and Damian Mizdow should be interesting to watch. I don't think either of them will win, though. I think one of them eliminates the other, and it could go either way. Then whoever was eliminated causes the elimination of the one still in the ring, setting up their feud going into the next pay-per-view.

Hideo Itami won the NXT match to get a spot here. It's cool, but he's getting tossed out. As are Sin Cara, Erick Rowan, Fandango and Heath Slater.

Curtis Axel has finally become interesting. Will he last for a while, or will he be the first eliminated in record time? My money's on the latter, but if he does last a while he's still not winning.

The ones to watch are Ryback, Big Show and Mark Henry in my opinion. Yeah, they're the big guys, which hardly ever win these things. But they're also the ones with the best chance to pull it off here. Big Show because, well, he's the other giant. Henry because I think he's on his way out soon and this would be a nice send off. But the one I think will win is Ryback because they are trying to push him again. He's arguably the most popular competitor in the match. So...

Prediction: Ryback wins.



Next up, the Divas Tag Match: Paige & AJ Lee vs. The Bella Twins

Sadly, most feel like the Divas matches are the bathroom break matches. But let's be honest, AJ and Paige are two of the best female wrestlers ever. And like it or not, Nikki Bella has improved a great deal.  Bri, eh.  But the other three will put on a great match. And things are going to break down one way or another. Likely, Paige and AJ will win because they've been bested lately, and the tension between them is heated. Still, I predict a 3-way or 4-way Divas title match for the next PPV. For this one...

Prediction: AJ & Paige win.



I mentioned this match earlier...

Fatal Four-Way Tag-Team Championship Match: 
Tyson Kidd & Cesaro vs. New Day vs. Los Matadores vs. The Usos

New Day has sadly been disappointing. Not in the ring, but the gimmick that started strong just kind of fell by the wayside a bit. They're all still great in the ring, but I don't see them winning here.

Los Matadores I just don't like. I didn't like them when they were just the Colons either. They just don't excite me. El Torito is fun, but it's not enough.

So this comes down to the two main teams here, The Usos and Kidd/Cesaro. Is it time for the Usos to get their belts back? Maybe. It would make sense so they can feud with the newer Ascension. But Kidd and Cesaro have finally found a place where they are getting somewhere, and they could hang onto them for a while. I think it's going to be interesting to see what happens here, and it should be a fun match. But for me, I think I'd like to see the heels win. So...

Prediction: Kidd & Cesaro retain.



Now we start getting into the bigger matches. First up, the US title.

United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. John Cena

Ok, both of these guys have punked each other out, and Rusev has beaten Cena. Rusev has beaten everyone and never lost that title since he won it. That means that this is by far the most predictable match on the entire Wrestlemania 31 card. It will be an uphill battle, and the match will last longer than anyone wants. But Cena will rise to the challenge and finally defeat Rusev to become the US champ.

Prediction: Cena wins and becomes champ.



The match that had the worst build-up is definitely...

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (with J&J Security)

This is an old-fashioned grudge match, and it should be one heck of a match. Despite what the internet thinks, Randy Orton has always been one of my favorites, and he puts on great matches, whether you like him or not. And Seth Rollins was the member of The Shield that no one thought would be the breakout star, and yet here he is, Mr. Money in the Bank. He has delivered. He's great in the ring and great on the mic.

The only problem with this match was the build-up to it, where Randy barely pretended to be part of The Authority and quickly turned on Rollins after saying he was going to. It was handled clumsily and rushed. But they recovered with some great beat-downs, and now we get a fantastic match between the two. And it really could go either way as well. I think if Rollins wins, he's done for the evening. If he loses, maybe he goes for the cash-in. It's hard to say. But I'll put it out there and say...

Prediction: Randy Orton wins.



The show-stealing match of the night will likely be the...

Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title:
Wade Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. R Truth vs. Luke Harper vs. Stardust

The hype for this match, and all the crazy multi-finisher, mayhem matches that have taken place between these seven individuals has been fun to watch. Not to mention the hilarity of the belt stealing antics of all involved. There are several fan favorites in this match too, so the crowd is sure to be very vocal during this match. There will be great spots throughout, and Ziggler will live up to his name and steal the show. But will he win?

I think one thing is for sure, and that's that Barrett will lose the title. I also don't see Harper, Stardust, or Truth - as fun as that might be - winning.

So that leaves us with Ambrose, Ziggler and Bryan, which is what we've kind of been geared toward. I actually don't think - and hope not - that Bryan will win. Not that the title is beneath him, or that he doesn't deserve it, but I think for one, this would be a step backwards for him, and two, I'm kind of tired of him. I'd much rather see Ambrose or Ziggler win.

Ziggler has held the title before, and it did little for him, let's be honest. So I think it's time for a change. Hence...

Prediction: Dean Ambrose wins.



So we're down to the final three matches - the biggest matches on the card. Let's dive right in.

Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

We have not seen the Undertaker since last year's Wrestlemania when he lost for the first time at the event to Brock Lesnar. We heard his voice on Raw, but that's it. No appearances. Bray Wyatt, however, we have seen on the mic trashing the dead man, calling him out, playing mind games, and claiming to be the new face of fear. So the face of fear meets the dead man walking tonight!

Undertaker took an entire year off to prepare for this, so let's hope he's healthy and in better shape than he was last year. As for who wins, I don't think Undertaker losing to Lesnar suddenly made him defeatable at Wrestlemania. Only defeatable to Lesnar. So there's no way in my mind that Wyatt wins here. It'll be a knockdown, drag-out fight, but Taker rises from Sister Abigail.

Prediction: Undertaker wins.



Sting vs. Triple H

It's the bat vs. the sledgehammer. The Icon vs. the Cerebral Assassin. The Stinger vs. The Game. And the build-up for this match has been near perfect in my opinion.

This isn't necessarily a dream match that everyone always wanted, but it is a dream match. But the real dream is Sting being in the WWE and wrestling at Wrestlemania. And we have it!

I am a HUGE Sting fan from the 80s on. He was my favorite before he won the world title for the first time, before the NWO, before now. He was the biggest superstar not on the WWE roster in my opinion. And it has always been a dream of mine to see him in a WWE ring, let alone performing at Wrestlemania! Do I wish it was in his prime? Sure, but I'll take what I can get here.

As for how this match goes down, I can't imagine after all this build-up and hype, and it being a legendary dream match, that Sting comes here just to lose. It doesn't make sense. Even with interference I don't see it happening. If Sting were to lose, they'd have to pull off something big, like someone from Sting's past coming into the picture and costing him the match. And given the status of all those guys, it just doesn't work. So while it will be a back and forth match seeing Sting get beat up a lot, the ending is clear.

Prediction: Sting wins.



And that leaves us with the main event. The very controversial main event at that.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

I like both of these guys. Brock is truly a beast, and he has re-signed with the WWE, which plays into my prediction later. Reigns, despite all the internet crap and fanboys that can't get over their love affair with Daniel Bryan, deserves this spot. He hasn't been shoved down our throats, he earned his spot, like it or not. And while yes, he's a bit green on the mic, he's got every other skill down. And he is a believable opponent for Lesnar. Bryan is not. Bryan would get mauled. Punk would get mauled. Reigns, however, stands a chance.

So this is going to be one brutal match. Lesnar is going to attempt to run roughshod over Reigns, but not be able to. Reigns will keep getting up. He'll have a burst of offense, get the champ reeling, only to be knocked down again. Heyman will likely get involved when he feels Lesnar about to lose perhaps, and Reigns will get distracted, but not get beat. He will push and push and push, until he somehow gets Lesnar down for that 1-2-3.

And one of the reasons I believe it goes down like this is because Lesnare re-signed with the WWE. If he had been done, I can't see him going out a loser. Because he re-signed it means rematch. It means another title reign. And sadly, it probably means Cena beats Lesnar down the line for that title.

But for now, Lesnar is in a position where he can lose to Reigns and it not tarnish him one bit. Plus, Reigns winning leaves it open for Rollins to cash-in.

As I said earlier, I think if Rollins wins his match, he's not cashing in. He may think about it, but ultimately won't do it. Going with my prediction of him losing, though. I think if Reigns wins, Rollins moves in to cash-in, and possibly steal Reigns' Wrestlemania moment. Then this sets up heat on Raw with both Reigns and Lesnar wanting their rematch then and there.

Whichever way it goes down, this is going to be a blockbuster match with repercussions for the next few months leading to Summerslam.

Prediction: Roman Reigns wins title, Rollins cashes in and wins title. Rollins is your champ.

 



So there you have it, my full predictions for tonight's Wrestlemania 31 event. I think I stand a good chance in being correct on a lot of these. That said, I honestly hope there are some surprises coming my way. Just a few hours away, we'll all find out!

Come back tomorrow to see how right (or wrong) I was! Until then, tune into the WWE Network and enjoy Wrestlemania! I know I will be, with some pizza and coca-cola!

-B

Thursday, February 26, 2015

WWE Fastlane & Raw 2-23-15

I know I'm a little late to the party with the pay-per-view being several days done now. And I realize I haven't posted in a while yet again. I really wanted to write about the Royal Rumble, but that is all over with now. Time to move on.

So unlike many internet smarks, I wasn't upset with who won the Rumble, or who the WWE is pushing. Frankly, I'm sick of Daniel Bryan. Not because of his in-ring talent, which is very evident, but because of his personality and attitude. I just don't care for him. He was once the little guy that had to scratch and claw, or at least that's what we were told and what we honestly saw. Then he became friends with John Cena, married a Bella, and now he can do no wrong. People want to say Roman Reigns is being pushed, but honestly, Daniel Bryan is one of their cash cows and golden boys now just as much. People don't seem to get that.



But enough about that. I was actually looking forward to WWE Fastlane, and I wasn't disappointed. We had some great matches to enjoy during that event, and overall I was happy with the results.

The six-man tag match between The Authority and Ziggler, Rowan and Ryback was exactly what I expected it to be. The faces get pummeled a lot and have to rally back. Lots of run-ins and false finishes, and finishing moves, until somehow The Authority gets the win. It made sense, was handled well, and I wasn't let down by it at all. Solid match with some nice spots.

Goldust vs. Stardust also went the only way it could. I imagine the place they are trying to take Cody is back to the talent he was before teaming with his brother. I can't imagine that the Stardust character is going to last. It was a nice, fun gimmick that saw the Dust brothers teaming up, winning tag-team gold (probably a dream of theirs), and inevitably breaking up. The only place for them to go is for Cody to get back that - pardon the pun - star power he had prior. Cody at one point was on the track to greatness, but something happened that set him back. Hopefully he can find his way again. And as we saw on Raw, he is still haunted by the Cody chants and his brother's presence. So in my opinion, they are playing this right.

Tyson Kidd and Cesaro deserved their win over the Usos. I like the Usos, the one true tag-team left in the WWE, but Kidd and Cesaro have been struggling to find their place and are both amazing in-ring talents. Adding the WWE Divas into the mix with Naomi and Natalya adds to the story aspect of it too since both tag-teams lack a little in that department. It was a solid mid-card match with a result that both made sense and entertained. And the rematch on Raw saw things really heat up between the ladies, furthering the only story that really exists between the two teams.

Nikki Bella vs. Paige was a forgettable match sadly. It makes sense for Nikki to stay on top as the dominant heel Diva of the division, but I'm not sure I like the direction Paige is headed down. Unlike AJ, who was able to blaze her own trail more or less, Paige, the young women she is, seems to be making some compromises along the way. The match itself was okay, but nothing to write home about.

Bad News Barrett going over Dean Ambrose was honestly a little surprising at first, but once Ambrose stole the title, the ending made perfect sense. He's a loose cannon. The best of Piper and Pillman rolled into one. And with the fallout on Raw, entering Ziggler and R Truth into the mix, we now have an interesting story surrounding the once second most important title in the WWE.

Did anyone really expect Cena to come in and defeat Rusev on his first try? If you did, you haven't been paying attention. They are building Rusev up to be this unbeatable super athlete, as they call him. He's not a beast like Brock Lesnar, he's just simply... superior. That's the gimmick. And Cena has not been faring well lately against, well, anyone. But if there's a guy that can beat Rusev, it's gotta be John Cena. So why not save the big defeat of Rusev for the grandest stage of them all? Sure, Rusev turned that match down, but we still have four and a half weeks... it will happen. And it should. Cena standing tall, waving the American flag at Wrestlemania having defeated the unbeatable super athlete, Rusev.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the confrontation between Sting and Triple H! HHH just talked and talked and talked, then took a shot at the Stinger, and beat him up for a while. But as soon as HHH went outside, I knew exactly how it was going to play out. See, the WWE was clever in not showing the trademark black baseball bat yet, because it gave it impact at Fastlane. HHH pulled out the sledgehammer, and as soon as he gets back in the ring, the bat comes out as Sting backs HHH into the corner before pointing with the bat to the Wrestlemania sign. And there we have it, Sting will wrestle at Wrestlemania! Took too many years, but it's finally happening. 



Then we come to the main event, which I thought was spectacular. I don't get all the hate for Roman Reigns. Sure, he's a little green on the mic, but so were SO many major stars when they first started out. "Stunning" Steve Austin was terrible for years. And let's not forget Roman's family, Rocky Maivia either. The problem is fans today have very little patience, and they think Vince, HHH, or whomever is always screwing with them. That's the perception enforced by the Attitude Era that people seem to have latched onto. They really think the behind-the-scenes stuff is that one-sided. Truth is we don't know what goes on behind closed doors, only rumors and internet talk we hear.

Anyway, this was a very good, back-and-forth match between Reigns and Bryan. Every spot either competitor usually hits was on display here. False finishes galore throughout, and ultimately Reigns came out on top fair and square, by the book. Will fans still boo him? Sure, but not necessarily because they don't like him. But because they somehow think he took Bryan's spot and is being force-fed down everyone's throats. It's funny to me that when The SHIELD was around, everyone loved all three of them, and when Reigns got hurt, everyone was excited for him to come back. The timing sucked for Reigns, though, because Bryan came back too, and fans sadly jumped off Reigns' bandwagon to back Bryan. Like it was impossible to root for both guys...

Roman Reigns is something special. Not because of his size, but because he quite frankly has "it." Daniel Bryan does too, in a different way. The two CAN co-exist. Why people can't grasp that is beyond me.

On Raw, Bryan gave his respect to Reigns, and the two teamed up in a great tag-team match against Rollins and  the returning Randy Orton, who I will talk about more in a minute. The match was a typical tag match with all your back and forth, and the faces getting beat down, having to tag each other in to save the day. The finish saw some unwanted tag shenanigans in a humorous and respectful way on one side, and a not so playful way on the other. It worked out well, and Randy was a conundrum to Rollins throughout.

The match aside, which was fine, Orton was very confusing here. He started off as an anti-hero when Raw began, ready to take on all of The Authority. Then he gets back on the same page with them. There are little hints throughout that he may turn at any moment, but all episode long he rides the Authority wave and resists pummeling Rollins. But why?

My theory is he just planted himself in The Authority like the viper he is, and he's waiting for the right time to strike. I still see Orton vs. Rollins at Mania, and for the next few weeks we're going to get a slow build to that eventual turn. And if that's the way it goes down, then it works for me. If Orton is just another face in The Authority camp, I will be disappointed. He's too good to waste in that role any longer. And his character's ego is too big to play second fiddle to Seth Rollins.

I said the Usos were the only real tag team left in the WWE, clearly not mentioning the Ascension. I don't like them and I don't think they will last. I hope they don't. They are a poor man's Legion of Doom or Powers of Pain, or Demolition. The key factor in all those teams I mentioned, they were actually a bit scary. They had presence. These kids don't have that presence. It doesn't work in my opinion. But we did see the return of the Prime Time Players, though Young looks ridiculous with that beard and hair cut. Titus is so underrated though. I hope they do return as a tag team, but we know how little the WWE values tag team wrestling anymore.

It was fun seeing the Rybaxel reunion as they faced each other. I like what they are doing with Axel. Or that they are doing anything with him at all really. It was a fun match.

The last thing I want to talk about, though, is Bray Wyatt. For weeks we've known who Wyatt was cryptically calling out in his promos without ever saying his name. And Monday, the lights went down, the eerie chanting music started, the lightning struck, and the druids wheeled out a coffin. The Undertaker is back! Or is he? I knew the whole time, as probably did most, that when that coffin opened it was going to be Bray Wyatt, not the Undertaker. And there he was, calling the Dead Man out once and for all. It's a perfect build up to a Wyatt/Taker match at Mania, which I am actually very excited for. If Taker wasn't going to face Sting, this is definitely the route they needed to go.

So for me, all in all, Fastlane and Raw were both successes. Things always pick up on the Road to Wrestlemania, and while there's not as much of an epic feel this time, I am still pleased with the direction many of the stories are going. I can't wait to see what Smackdown has in store for us tonight as well.

-B

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What Was That?!

Monday morning, I posted my first post on this blog in nearly a year. The reason I did so was because Sunday night's SURVIVOR SERIES was the best SURVIVOR SERIES I remember in years, and it got me excited for wrestling for the first time in a good long while. So going into Monday Night Raw, I was expecting big things, or at least good, fun matches and segments.

After watching Raw, I am left scratching my head, wondering what in the world I just watched.

From start to finish, this week's Raw was a train wreck. There were so many failed and poorly executed ideas going on here I'd almost swear they brought in an entirely new writing team for this dreck.

Let's see what we had here in theory.

1. Daniel Bryan in Power.
2. All of Team Authority Screwed.
  a. Concessions Kane
  b. Rusev Battle Royal or Pledge to US
  c. Mark Henry vs. Ryback
  d. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose
  e. Seth Rollins teaming with J&J Security against Cena & Ziggler
3. Larry the Cable Guy Hosts
4. Fandango Returns
5. Big Show's explanation
6. Brie Bella vs. AJ Lee
7. The New Day's non-debut
8. Adam Rose and the Bunny... again
9. Mizdow with stunt championships.
10. The Anonymous GM

Daniel Bryan is a fan-favorite character, but his goofy grin just kills anything he does. He stumbles over his words, and he was given a terrible set of actions for this night. He could have been utilized a lot better here, but instead it was all a big joke with no real consequences for the Authority sympathizers. Plus, maybe it's just me, but when his wife is a heel, it kind of kills some of his momentum for me. It shows that he is cool with her being that way, and damages his own character in my mind.

Team Authority was not screwed here at all. Yes, I know Bryan said he was going to be fair, but come on! There were no consequences whatsoever for any of them really. Let's break them down.

Kane had to run a concessions stand. A fake concessions stand where all the food was already in servings. The customers didn't even pay for the food because "Kane couldn't get the cash machine to work." Very poorly done. And of course it ended with mustard and other condiments on Santino and Kane himself. It was just an awful segment that wasn't the least bit humorous.

Rusev was supposed to either defend the US championship against the entire roster in a battle royal, or be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the US Flag. Sgt. Slaughter coming down and guiding him and Lana was well down, I'll admit, but in the end, there was no punishment for Rusev because he still didn't have to follow through with either of the repercussions. Fail.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback was a punishment... okay. Did we forget Mark Henry is bigger, stronger, and has fought him before? The match was so unbelievably one-sided it took me out of it. And Ryback's fierceness was killed by his joke segment with Concessions Kane.

Harper vs. Ambrose was decent. Not the best match these two could have had, but overall I enjoyed it. And Bray Wyatt interfering was done perfectly. This one gets a pass.

The fans voted on three possible teams for Seth Rollins to have as partners, and the choice was obvious. I like Noble and Mercury as The Stooges 2.0 (aka Patterson and Brisco). It's funny and yet they can still go. So that part of it was fine. Two things I didn't like about this match, though, were the ending (which I'll get to later) and the fact that while Cena could destroy J&J, Ziggler got beat up repeatedly by them. Thus killing what momentum Ziggler had coming out of SURVIVOR SERIES. To Cena's credit, though, in the backstage segment when Ziggler was giving credit to Sting, Cena jumped in and pointed out Ziggler was key to that match. I appreciated that.

Larry the Cable Guy is not my cup of tea. Coming out in the mask was mildly entertaining, but his jokes fell flat for me, and were ill-placed. When will the WWE learn that fans NEVER like celebrity guest hosts? He and Santino were just very un-funny every time they came out. It was kind of sad, and I certainly won't be seeing their movie.

Fandango actually re-debuted during the SS pre-show, but this was his official re-debut. And I was bored stiff. Rosa is always boring, and Fandango lost any charm his character had before. He was supposed to be kind of goofy but still pull out wins. Now he's trying to be tough and it just doesn't work for me.

Big Show proved once again that he has absolutely no idea who he is or what he's doing. They flip-flopped him again, and instead of just being a big, bad heel, he was a whiny little girl talking about his feelings. It just doesn't work. And why didn't he have repercussions? And now we're getting another big guy vs. big guy set up with Rowan. Sigh

Brie Bella, who has been a face and has been forced to be Nikki's slave the past month, turned heel on a dime, but still subtly last night, and continued that tonight. Out of nowhere and with no reason or cause. So AJ fought her and lost thanks to Nikki. The only good thing about this was AJ calling the Bellas exactly what their characters are.

The New Day was supposed to debut this week. Nope, didn't happen. Fail.

Adam Rose and the Bunny part 50 it seems. This needs to wrap up now, it's getting old. And I never liked it to begin with. Though the bunny is funny. It's going to die once that mask comes off, though. And Larry the Cable Guy and Santino just made it even worse.

Mizdow is great, but the stunt championships thing just came across as confusing I thought. This has to lead to a break-up, but I really don't know how that's going to go over honestly. But it was okay.

And then we have the Anonymous GM. Why, why, why would they EVER go back to this? This was one of the most hated periods in WWE history. It's stupid, annoying, and over-done. Just quit! And the repeated and incessant chimes and lights flickering to end Raw as Cole chuckled like a 3 year old was just an awful ending to an awful show.

Where was Sting? Why didn't Team Cena confront Big Show? What happened to the writing team? When did Justin Gabriel become a clown? Who cares about un-funny backstage segments and celebrity hosts? How do we recover from this?

Your guess is as good as mine...

-B