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Archive for the ‘WWE | Pro Wrestling’

WWE WrestleMania 32 Is A Big Reason To Re-sign Brock Lesnar

January 21, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The big news today is the impending announcement that the WWE will officially announce its home for WrestleMania 32. The venue is expected to be AT&T Stadium. There probably is nobody more excited for this news in the WWE locker room than Brock Lesnar.

Lesnar is coming up on the end of his WWE deal. Lesnar’s deal expires with his WrestleMania 31 match or appearance. Due to the MMA war between Bellator and the UFC, Lesnar is expected to receive big offers from both companies to fight again. Most predicted that the WWE would be out of the bidding. I say, not so fast.

I was on board with this crowd until this whole WrestleMania 32 scenario hit me. The economics of the WWE and its business have changed. The WWE can no longer justify spending on high-priced free agents like Lesnar without PPV revenue and an under-performing Network. Quite frankly there is just no good reason to justify re-sign Lesnar and thus most expected him to walk. Now they have a reason and that reason is 92,000+ seats.

Vince McMahon and company aren’t looking to get into AT&T Stadium, draw half of a house, and lose their behinds. The WWE is not only looking to draw big, but they are looking to fill the stadium and break its own WrestleMania attendance record. With all due respect to the current roster of WWE talent, there is nobody on that roster that is going to collectively draw 92,000 in 2016 in Texas. It just isn’t going to happen.

The WWE will need some heavy hitters on that show. The company will need some of those high-priced special talents to put the butts in the seats. There are a ton of rumors surrounding Steve Austin coming back for this show. The thought is nice but we have seen this flirtation quite a few times and it never ends with Austin back in the ring. Without Austin what do you got? You need more and one of those guys needed to fill the place will be Brock Lesnar.

The business case has now been made. Locking up Lesnar a year in advance will at least give the company the confidence that it has at least one component needed to fill the place. Lesnar on his own won’t do it, but they have a much better chance with him than without him. It also isn’t as if Lesnar will be hanging around waiting for a call. Once he signs with an MMA group he will be unavailable for at least a year and a half if not two years. He is not nearly as expendable as he was before this location was announced.

I am also convinced that they are moving towards a Rock vs. Triple H match at 32. I thought that the second I saw the SmackDown vignette between the two where they exchanged challenges, specifically mentioning a large stadium. The better move for business would be Rock vs. Brock and it could happen, but I think that as of today the working idea is a Rock vs. Hunter match. While it’s always nice to see Rock back, that won’t do it on its own.

The WWE need Lesnar more today than they did a few weeks ago and for that reason I think he is staying. I don’t think Lesnar wants to fight again and I think he enjoys the short schedule for big money without a training camp. Now that the WWE has a chance to get back into the bidding, I think they lock up their guy before he hits free agency.

There is also ego involved here. The UFC already tried to book Brock in a fight in AT&T Stadium but the fight fell through. Does the WWE really want to take the chance that the UFC books Brock in this same stadium and outdraws WrestleMania? It sounds petty and it is but I don’t think Vince McMahon could ever live with himself if that happened.

I guess we’ll have that question answered on Sunday. If he leaves as champion I’d bet he re-signed or is close. if he doesn’t, I would bet that the WWE thinks he is on borrowed time.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Matt Brown Talks CM Punk Fighting In The UFC

January 20, 2015 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Welterweight Matt Brown recently appeared on the MMA Hour and he had a lot to say about the UFC signing former WWE champion CM Punk to a contract without him having any previous fighting experience.

“I thought the sport, the UFC, itself, was beyond that now, Bellator doing this, I could understand. I could see other organizations doing it. The UFC, I just didn’t expect it.

On CM Punk signing with the UFC: “I don’t have a problem with the UFC doing it. What I have a problem with is CM Punk being dumb enough to think he can do it,” Brown continued. “If he wants to come fight a real man I’ll be standing there. I’ll fight Tarec Saffiedine on [Feb. 14] and I’m the main event, everyone will be gone. I’ll fight him right after Tarec if he wants. Hopefully what happens here is that all these keyboard warriors that are like, ‘Oh I could go in there and fight’ see that a legit athlete — CM Punk is an athlete — and they see him go in a get demolished by a prelim fighter or someone that also shouldn’t be in there and they’ll see this shit is a little more than what you think.”

Punk has gotten both positive and negative feedback with this new move.

“On ESPN, they said I called him a ‘dumb athlete’. Well, I didn’t call him a dumb athlete. I said he’s dumb to think that he could compete with UFC-level guys in his first fight.”

Punk left the WWE in 2014 after several medical issues and now he is stepping inside the octagon without any previous fighting ability is a stiff dose of reality for Punk.

“And I would completely stand by that statement. If he were standing right in front of me, I would tell him that. How many people walk into our gym all the time and say, ‘I want to be in the UFC’? I’m like, ‘Well, you’re dumb to think you’re going to be able to do that. I don’t care if you’re freakin’ CrossFit champion or gymnastics champion, whatever. Unless you’re a wrestling champion – not pro wrestling champion, but like a NCAA champion or something – then I would tell you you probably shouldn’t even think about it until a few years of training.”

Brown prides himself on a tough nose fighter, who has some of the best striking in all of MMA.

On Punk’s opponent: “Who is he going to fight? The only person they could bring in would be another person that doesn’t know how to fight. It’s crazy to me.”

On comparisons to Brock Lesnar: “At least Brock Lesnar, he at least knew what he had in store, what it felt like to get in there. The thing that I was getting at when I was talking about CM Punk was, I think he’s going to be in for a big shock. When you step in that UFC cage, when they say it’s as real as it gets, that’s the truth. When you walk in there, those lights shining on you, everybody looking at you and there’s a dude across the cage that wants to rip your head off, it’s a different feeling than anything he’s ever felt before.

Brock Lesnar had an actual wrestling background, Punk does not. That should be the start and end of any comparisons between the two. Bottom line.

“He’s going to have some really deep, dark thoughts,” Brown explained. “We call it the Worm of Doubt. He’s going to have lots of worms in his head causing doubt.”

Matt Brown is scheduled to fight former UFC Welterweight Champion Johnny Hendricks at UFC 185 in Dallas, Texas.

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The People vs Vince McMahon: WWE’s Answer to George Lucas

January 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

George Lucas is one of the most prolific storytellers of his generation. The Star Wars franchise is much more than a series of films; it’s become modern mythology, completely ingrained into the American consciousness. The long lasting impact that his work has had arguably puts Lucas on par with Mark Twain and perhaps even Shakespeare; that’s how important Star Wars has been and how much it’s meant to so many people.

But these days, Lucas himself doesn’t really have that much of a fan following. Star Wars is still a monster of course, with billion dollar licensing deals and a new trilogy of movies on the horizon. Lucas though is not really viewed all that much as the groundbreaking creator that he once was. He’s basically become out of touch with his audience and a caricature of himself.

Sound familiar? The fact is that many pro wrestling fans have been saying the same thing about another creative genius, Vince McMahon. At first glance, the only thing that Lucas and McMahon have in common is that they share a fairly large percentage of the same audience. In other words, fanboys be loving some Star Wars. And yes, I’m one of them.

But as the years have gone by, it occurs to me that some very interesting parallels can be drawn between the careers of Vince McMahon and George Lucas. I can’t lie here, when I realized there was a connection between the two universes happening, I geeked out a little. Okay, I geeked out a lot. Told you I was a fanboy.

Both men began with nothing but a vision. Lucas was fighting the established system in Hollywood, while Vince was fighting the territory system in pro wrestling. Each man could have done fairly well just by falling in line and accepting how the world was. But they wanted more. They believed there was more to be had, that settling for the status quo was not the answer.

And neither man would stop until he got what he wanted. Star Wars was released and Lucas was seen as the visionary that he was. WrestleMania happened and McMahon was labeled a genius. They were both ahead of their time, able to see the future and they made it happen. Doors opened for both men that had previously been sealed shut. The world was their oyster and they became gods among men.

But now McMahon and Lucas have something else in common. Now, they’re seen as being separated creatively from their audience, unable to reconnect with what the fans really want to see. The success of the original trilogy did nothing for the second trilogy; Star Wars fans were not impressed. The content was not as cutting edge, it was more kid friendly and the story was more diluted. Somewhere along the way, Lucas lost his magic and now his creation is being handed off to the next generation.

If this does not perfectly describe Vince McMahon, I’m not sure what does. McMahon’s WWE was a monster hit throughout the years, especially after the end of The Monday Night Wars. His company was seemingly on the right track and he had conquered the wrestling world. But since then, WWE has lost quite a bit of its luster. Now, fans want something more and they don’t want it from Vince.

Lucas and McMahon are seen as arrogant, stubborn and pretentious. Instead of truly listening to the fans and trying to produce material to make them happy, Lucas kept making movies that seemed to entertain only him. Vince keeps producing TV that is doing much the same right now. And fans on both sides are none too happy about it.

But the problem is no one seems to listen. WWE fans have been dealing with this for years but it has grown exponentially worse recently. And the argument can be made that it doesn’t have to go down like that. After all, Vince would be nothing without the fans right?

Therein lies one of the major similarities between these two brilliant minds; each man has let his own genius get in the way of common sense. The prevailing notion among fans of both genres is that without them, neither man would have two pennies to rub together. Only, they don’t see it that way. To them, their creations are so good and so groundbreaking that just the storytelling itself is enough to carry it through and be successful.

But all of that Star Wars merchandise has not sat on store shelves for nearly 40 years gathering dust. And theaters had to fill up for each film before the next one could be made. Lucas didn’t make that money on his own; the audience had to embrace the material and fall in love with both the story and the actors for him to become stinking rich. WWE fans had to fall in love with the talent and the product for McMahon’s family to be financially secure for years to come.

And both sets of fans have basically been told their opinion doesn’t mean much. The Star Wars franchise is moving ahead with new films and a new director in JJ Abrams. And he’s surely feeling the pressure to deliver because the message from fans is clear; don’t screw it up worse than George did.

You have to believe the same will be said if and when WWE is handed to Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The question is can they fix it? Will they be able to get the company back to its former glory and move past the era in which WWE has stood still and become stale? Or will Vince’s vision that once saved the company but now has it in a time warp prevail?

It’s been said that George Lucas went from being an independent filmmaker to being what he hated the most; an all-powerful established commercial and corporate entity. In essence, he has become Darth Vader. Vince McMahon is also Darth Vader and the only thing standing between him and force choking the entire WWE fan base is Triple H. He may not be Luke Skywalker, but he’s all we’ve got.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

10 Things I Learned About Hulk Hogan on the Chris Jericho Podcast

January 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan has never sat down for a so-called shoot interview outside of a WWE production. Yet Chris Jericho pulled off the scoop and delivered the closest thing we will probably ever get with the biggest star in pro wrestling history.

It isn’t often that Hulk Hogan sits down for a no holds barred interview about his pro wrestling career. But when he does you know it’s going to be newsworthy. Hogan was a recent guest on a two-part Chris Jericho podcast, offering one of the most fascinating interviews he has ever done. Hogan opened up on his legendary pro wrestling career telling many stories, some you have heard and some you may not have, yet all were interesting.

Now the caveat with a Hogan interview is that he is often a whipping boy for giving worked answers. I tend to take a different opinion than some of those critics. I think that Hogan is giving what he thinks is the real answer. However, I think after 30 years of bumps that he makes honest mistakes with names and time periods and has probably worked himself so much over the years with these stories that he himself truly believes everything that he is saying.

I have read all of Hogan’s books and probably heard every interview he has ever done. Yet there were stories told on this podcast that I had never heard before. Granted after 42 years I may have heard or read these and simply forgotten them, but to me they were all new. I learned a lot about the career of Hulk Hogan and here are just ten takeaways from the podcast.

Hulk Hogan was worried about being double-crossed by Tatsumi Fujinami in Japan – Now Hogan has told this story before, but he elaborated a lot more on this interview. Hogan told Jericho that he had given notice to New Japan because they couldn’t work out a new deal with Vince McMahon Jr. Knowing that it was his last match with the company, Hogan said he feared that Fujinami would hook him and steal the WWF title. Hogan claims that he recruited Danny Hodge to be the referee and asked Hodge to watch his back. He also says he got a lot of respect from Andre the Giant from how he handled this.

Now many have claimed that this story is a completely untrue. I went back and looked at old Hogan results to see if there even was such a match and guess what, there was. Hogan wrestled Fujinami on June 11, 1985 as WWF champion. One resource actually does list Danny Hodge as the guest referee for this match. Unfortunately the match was on YouTube at one point but was pulled. I know many, including Dave Meltzer called this a fabrication but I am inclined to give Hulk a little bit of the benefit of the doubt here. I wasn’t a believer either until I went back and found that a) indeed this was one of his final matches before leaving NJPW indefinitely and b) a resource stating that Hodge was indeed the referee here.

Hulk Hogan wanted to turn heel in the WWF – Hulk told Jericho that he wanted to turn heel the next Monday on RAW after he lost the title to Ultimate Warrior in 1986.

Now this one I call shenanigans on. For starters, there was no Monday Night RAW in 1986. Two, the plans were in place for Hogan to wrestle another babyface vs. babyface match against Warrior at next year’s WrestleMania. I just don’t buy into this one at all.

Hulk Hogan had other reasons for not wanting to turn heel and join the n.W.o. – Hogan told Jericho that Eric Bischoff had to do a long sell job on him to turn heel and join the n.W.o. Hogan said the reason for this is that he had been wanting to do the Hollywood gimmick for a while and turn heel, but he wanted to be by himself and not with a group.

It isn’t news that Hogan had to be convinced to join the n.W.o. That is an old story. But the story has always been that Hulk didn’t want to turn heel and Bischoff had to convince him that the time was right. Nobody has ever reported that the reason he didn’t want to do the angle was because he wanted to do a solo heel run.

Diamond Dallas Page complained about Hulk Hogan grabbing the ropes on a Diamond Cutter – Hogan said that he wanted to do dastardly things as a heel and one of them was grab the ropes when DDP went for the Diamond Cutter. He said that DDP got so upset that he went to Bischoff and complained about the spot.

I can honestly say that I 100% believe that one.

Hulk Hogan wanted to drop the belt to Roddy Piper numerous times in 1984/5 but didn’t trust him – Hogan said that he wanted to drop the belt to Piper many times “like he did with Savage” but Piper worked himself into believing he was a real tough guy and wouldn’t do jobs. Hogan said that if Piper wasn’t going to do a job, he couldn’t trust that Piper would drop it back to him. He thinks that he and Piper would have made millions if they did several WWF title switches in the 80s and ribs Roddy about it almost every day over text.

All I can say is this. Piper was red hot and I believe like Hogan that a win over Hogan with Hogan going for revenge would have been absolutely huge. It is no secret that Piper wouldn’t put over Hogan so maybe he is right. That said, Hogan never dropped the WWF title to Randy Savage even once so saying that he dropped it to Randy several times was wrong.

Hulk Hogan fought Verne Gagne in the locker room – To me, his stories about Verne and working for him in the AWA were the most fascinating of the entire interview. For starters, he said that Verne started making Hogan t-shirts but wouldn’t cut Hogan in on the money. They had words and Verne said he wanted to see what they taught him down in Florida and Hogan said, “Enough to kick your ass.” Verne charged him and Hogan grabbed him in a front face lock “Belzer-style”. Verne left the room and said it wasn’t over and Greg started to take his stuff off like he was going to fight him but David Schultz backed Hulk up.

I have no reason not to believe this one. Everything I have heard about Verne is that he was pretty crazy and always challenging guys to fights.

Hulk Hogan was booked to win the AWA title but it came with a price – Hogan was booked to wrestle Nick Bockwinkel in their legendary Super Sunday match. Hogan was sitting at a table when Verne casually said that he was getting the belt that night. Hogan said “Cool” but Verne told him that as AWA champion he’d get 50% of his Japan bookings. Hogan told him no. Verne was so irate that he had Bockwinkel shoot on him in the match. Hogan fought back and knocked Nick so silly that he forgot how to put on the sleeper hold at the end of the match.

It sounds fairly true because I remember the match and feud at the time and everything was set up for Hogan to win the title. Not only that, the match is widely available on YouTube. I went back and skimmed through the match and indeed Nick does have a hard time putting the sleeper hold on Hulk.

Hulk Hogan paid some heavy dues on his way to the top – Hogan tells the story we all know by now of Hiro Matsuda breaking his leg, but he elaborates. He said when his leg healed he came back for more training. Matsuda and others stretched Hogan for almost a year after that. Hogan finally was called to go to the shows and worked out with Eddie Graham. Graham taught Hogan how to actually work and it clicked that Hogan had been worked for almost a year by Matsuda and the other guys. Hogan said he started to cry when he realized this. Hogan said he’d also drive with the veterans would abuse his car and told stories about the Samoans trying to kick out his windows. He said he quit the business a few times before he finally got a call to go to New York.

Times were much different back then and I believe they had “fun” with Hogan in Florida. The story certainly humanizes the Hulkster and probably explains a lot of his paranoia over the years and insistence on creative control.

Hulk Hogan got major heat from Vince McMahon Sr. for showing up on his first night with a tie-dyed shirt – Hulk says that with his long hair and the shirt that all of the fans thought it was Superstar Graham returning to the territory. Hogan says the fans freaked out because they thought it was Superstar and Vince told him never to wear tie-dye again.

Hulk Hogan signed with Vince McMahon after he caught Greg and Verne meeting with Vince – Hulk told Jericho that he had gotten word that Vince McMahon Jr. wanted to talk to him. Hulk was surprised because Vince Sr. told Hulk he would never be allowed back in the company. Hulk sat on the message until he was in a booking meeting at Verne Gagne’s house with Verne, Greg, and Bockwinkel. He said that Verne and Greg suddenly said they were leaving and Hulk followed them to the airport. Hulk said when he got to the airport he snuck around and saw them meeting with Vince. After that Hulk got in touch with Vince, Vince flew out to Hogan’s house, and they made a deal.

I don’t know if I completely buy the story. Here is the thing. Hogan was a huge star in the AWA at the time. At his size I can’t imagine him being able to sneak around an airport in Minnesota to spy on the Gagnes. Someone would have recognized him and his cover would have been easily blown. Who knows?

BONUS: Kurt Angle worked stiff with Hulk Hogan during his 2002 WWE run – Hogan told Jericho that Kurt worked really tight with him and gave him a few shots during their matches. He said when he confronted Kurt on it in TNA he said that Kurt told him Vince McMahon told him to do it.

I certainly wouldn’t put it past Vince.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

The Randy Savage Story DVD

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

RAWlternative Delivers Endless Stream of Fresh and Frenetic Action

January 20, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The stream began two minutes late. Not a big deal; I’ve attended independent wrestling shows that have begun an *hour* late. There was a running gag at a CZW show back in 2002 (which began 45 minutes late) that the “2:30 bell time” is actually what time the ring bell arrives via courier. Two minutes? Whatever.

That promoter Drew Cordeiro’s special “RAWlternative” stream began a touch later than the 7:30 PM start time is an inadvertent nod to the helter skelter nature of indy showmanship. The scene of independent wrestling bears uniqueness in its commonality, with absurd personalities weaving with globe-trotting strong-style warriors, putting together bouts with a million kickouts interspersed with moves you’ve never seen before. The crowds are all the same: Bullet Club and CM Punk-shirted chums with scruffy beards and Rivers Cuomo glasses.

To put it another way, if you’ve been to one quality independent show, you’ve by extension been to all of them. Chances are, if you’re any sort of wrestling fan, this won’t exclude you from going to many more.

Independent icon Colt Cabana welcomed viewers with a brief statement at the event’s outset, noting his own notoriety in light of his aiding CM Punk in shaming WWE this past November. Cabana spoke of how yesterday’s indy standouts are today’s WWE stars, and thus today’s indy standouts are tomorrow’s WWE headliners. That, or their tomorrow’s acerbic podcast hosts that don’t mind holding WWE’s head into the boiling cauldron for a spell, either or.

Cordeiro, promoter of Rhode Island-based Beyond Wrestling, assembled the squared circle equivalent of a pot luck dinner, sampling a match from thirteen different North American promotions, each taking place in 2014. Each promotion plays to a small but devoted fan following, cramming mini music halls and rec centers wall to wall. None of the promotions therein quite has the renown of Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, or Combat Zone Wrestling (some will argue there are a couple of exceptions), but virtually each contributor has the know-how to put on an entertaining show, if their sample matches are an indication.

Of the thirteen matches, there wasn’t a single bad one. A few had their disjointed moments and the occasional botched spot, but the spirit was evident in each. It’s hard to be bored or picky when you’re enthralled by manic energy.

A little synopsis of each.

KEVIN STEEN VS. MIKE BAILEY (C*4 Wrestling, May 3, Ottawa, ON)

During his final indy run before changing his name to Kevin Owens, the fearsome Steen engaged in a brutal contest with the diminutive Bailey, now a CZW regular with a martial arts-based repertoire. Steen praised fellow Canuck Bailey highly to me when I interviewed “Wrestling’s Worst Nightmare” in April, as Bailey took part in CZW’s annual Best of the Best tournament, and it’s easy to see why. The two pieced together the modern indy equivalent of a Sting/Vader war, with Steen breaking “Speedball” in half with a familiar powerbomb on the apron. Bailey overcame the odds (with a shooting star double knee drop; yes, really) to win the thrilling bout, which the remaining dozen were going to have a hard time topping.

NINJAS WITH ALTITUDE VS. THE FOOD FIGHTERS (Inter Species Wrestling, April 19, Danbury, CT)

That above header is a legitimate header, one not concocted with the help of cold medication. I cannot speak for the bookers or the performers, however. Kidding aside (or am I?), the tag team attraction was the sort of far-fetched curiosity that makes you laugh, and then as Roger Ebert would say, makes you laugh at yourself for laughing. Ever see a masked chef with an irrational fear of ring ropes attempt a top rope dive, and then get the heebie jeebies when he realizes he’s standing on ropes? That’s the kind of high-concept capers you get here.

KEITH WALKER VS. EDDIE KINGSTON (All-American Wrestling, November 29, Berwyn, IL)

Two bulky competitors of some renown (acid-tongued Kingston in Ring of Honor, Walker briefly in WWE developmental in 2007) transitioned the parade from comedy to a hard-hitting element, exchanging strikes while Kingston spewed some decidedly non-PG language in intervals. Kingston sold a lower back injury (complete with DDP-brand rib tape) throughout the bout but pulled off the gritty win. By this point, it was clear that each match, thus each promotion, really was bringing something different to the buffet.

TAKAAKI WATANABE VS. ANDY DALTON (Inspire Pro Wrestling, April 27, Austin TX)

Watanabe stopped in the home of Uproxx scribe Brandon Stroud during his US excursion, working with a man sharing his name with the Bengals’ playoff-cursed ginger quarterback. Dalton looked pretty fluid, and worked very well in a case where there may have been some form of language barrier, while Watanabe put forth some realistic selling and timing not often seen in indy wrestling (a common and harmless criticism). What could have been a style clash was a well-defined good vs. evil bout, with Watanabe prevailing.

KYLE O’REILLY VS. GARY JAY (St. Louis Anarchy, December 5, Alton, MO)

Lowest quality production so far, the Zapruder-ish film work and lack of commentary was ‘made up for’ by a volume issue that rivaled Keith Walker’s shrill female manager. The two-out-of-three falls bout ended up spilling all over the venue, with O’Reilly (one half of New Japan’s Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with Bobby Fish) and Jay living up to the Anarchy portion of the promotion’s name. Highlight was Jay dropping O’Reilly spine-first onto two chair back-rests set back to back.

RICOCHET VS. JOSH ALEXANDER (Alpha-1 Wrestling, November 2, Hamilton, ON)

If you watch Lucha Underground, you know Ricochet as champion Prince Puma, while Alexander takes on a more purist wrestling shtick, complete with Rick Steiner’s retrofied earmuffs. Ricochet and New Japan’s Kota Ibushi are one and two in some order as the world’s best high flyers at the moment, and he incorporated much of that daredevelry against Alexander in the see-saw affair. Though most of the action to this point has been enjoyable, this bout was the first to rival Steen/Bailey as the evening’s best showcase, and it may do wonders for Alexander’s name.

ATHENA REESE VS. MIA YIM (Girls Night Out, March 29, Cleveland, OH)

I’ve seen Athena in DJ Hyde’s Women Superstars Uncensored, and she may just be the grittiest female on the indy scene today. Not only that, but her wrestling is crisp and on-point. Yim’s no slouch either, and Cordeiro selected pretty much the perfect representation of the ‘fairer sex’ for the marathon. If you happen to catch this match in any form, do yourself a favor and turn down the commentary. The only redeeming quality of it is that you’ll realize that there’s nothing stopping you, no matter your skill level, from becoming a wrestling announcer yourself.

CHRIS HERO VS. COLIN DELANEY (Squared Circle Wrestling, May 16, Amsterdam, NY)

A pair of ex-WWE employees whose times achieved differing notoriety (Hero excommunicated from NXT, Delaney used as a hapless jobber in 2008), the two drew some of the heaviest raves from RAWlternative watchers with their balls-to-the-wall display. At one point, Delaney leapt from a beam above the ring, only to be kicked in the face by a waiting Hero. The caustic strikes in the match were probably most enjoyable aside from the high-risk leap, which is a sentence lifted from any indy recap you’ve ever read.

RICH SWANN/AR FOX VS. CHRISTIAN ROSE/MATT CAGE (DREAMWAVE, March 1, LaSalle, IL)

Fox has built a strong reputation as one of wrestling’s most breath-taking high flyers, with the shortstack Swann not far behind. Here, the renowned aerialists put over the duo of Team Overkill, following sequence after sequence of the car crash equivalent of Cirque de Soleil. Parts of the match were sadly missed by me due to an internet connection issue, but I did get to see Rose’s amazing finisher, Ride the Lightning (an F5 swung into a Go to Sleep).

BRIAN KENDRICK VS. DARK SHEIK (HoodSlam, July 4, Oakland, CA)

The match played out like some sort of hallucination Kendrick is prone to having, complete with a stuffed horse (named Butternuts) being thrown into the ring at random intervals. Adding to the surreality was Sheik leaping off of a stairwell into some random bystander after Kendrick had long moved out of the way. Inarguably the most offbeat entry on RAWlternative, that spot cemented by an announce team that dropped more F-bombs than Quentin Tarantino on the average day.

JOHNNY GARGANO VS. ETHAN PAGE (Absolute Intense Wrestling, June 29, Cleveland, OH)

One of the best elements of story-telling came from Page, who attacked his own interfering stable-leader, Louis Lyndon. Page, you see, had been felled by breakout star Gargano in prior matches, and was determined to beat him on his own. The despair in his face when Gargano refused to stay down enhanced the match from being more than ‘typically awesome indy fare’. That Gargano won via knockout with his Gargano Escape submission hold solidifies the story, as Page had submit to it before, and refused to this time. I didn’t know the story going in (hell, I didn’t even know Page), but I knew it by following the simple tropes, and now I’ll never forget a brand new wrestler to my eyes making a believer of me. That’s just wrestling 101, and a primer on how the basics never cease to work.

THE YOUNG BUCKS VS. THE SUPER SMASH BROTHERS (SMASH Wrestling, August 17, Toronto, ON)

The Bucks work a wholly unrealistic style predicated on a million and one superkicks and improbable stunt work, but who the hell cares? You can never be bored watching Matt and Nick Jackson, while the charmingly named Player Uno and Player Dos were game to keep pace. The action does not stop, even for a breath, in this one, peaking with Dos hurrachanraning both Jacksons at the same time (think a wide-legged start to the move in order to capture both craniums). The fans on hand demanded superkicks, and boy howdy do they get them in perpetuity.

EDDIE EDWARDS VS. BIFF BUSICK (Beyond Wrestling, July 27, Providence, RI)

Cordeiro ended the night with his home promotion, pitting then-TNA World Tag Team Champion Edwards against then-CZW World Champion Busick (imagine Cesaro with a lumberjack’s beard, a thinner build, and a shorter temper) in this hard-hitting clash. Fans packed ringside like the mosh pit at a Cannibal Corpse concert, adding to the raucous nature of the bout, which did indeed spill to the floor more than once. A high-kick joust between the two led to Edwards winning out of nowhere with a flash pin, a bit of a disappointment echoed by fans that wanted local product Busick to win. Still, it was a worthy finale to a night of eclectic flavor.

I speak for not just myself (Twitter backs me up) when I ask for more like RAWlternative. Fans who want the Attitude Era back, I’ll note this much: much like 1998, I was far more interested in watching the fresher product than the nWo and Sting on Monday night. I have no regrets, either.

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Goldberg Up For WWE Return, Talks Punk in UFC, and More

January 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

““…We know it was a kind of a disgruntled marriage between myself and WWE. I don’t really sit down and watch the product with my son.”

Bill Goldberg is a name that has popped up over the last few years during WrestleMania season. Fans of his are clamoring to see the big man wrestle one more match in a WWE ring and if the former WCW star had the chance, he’d be down for it.

I must have written half a dozen blogs in the last year about Goldberg coming back to the WWE. The relationship with Goldberg and the WWE is quite an odd one. One month it is up, the next down, you just never know where the two sides are at. I do know one thing and that is there are plenty of fans anxiously awaiting a return to the ring from the former WCW and WWE champion.

The last word on Goldberg is that he was in negotiations with the WWE about a deal that would include video game promotion, a Hall of Fame induction, and one more match. Last word was that Goldberg was training hard for it and while the WWE were interested, the two sides were far apart on money. I also think the availability of Sting made Goldberg a lot less valuable in the eyes of creative.

Well here we are again and Goldberg has not closed the door on a return. Goldberg was asked about it by Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald and he told Fishman he is not on in shape and ready to go, he is in the best shape of his life.

I could still do it,” Goldberg said. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life right now…I made the statement that I would never consider wrestling over the age of 40 when I was over 40 years old. Here I am two clicks away from the big one (50). Having children changes your outlook 100 percent of your life. If it came to fruition, I would seriously consider it. With that said, it’s not going to stop my heart that I didn’t attain that by any stretch of the imagination.

Last year fans were teased with rumors of a Goldberg vs. Ryback match which never came to fruition. The interest in that match has greatly declined so who would Goldberg like to come back and wrestle?

Who knows? I really don’t know,” Goldberg said. “I wouldn’t know what they would want to do. If it was left up to me creatively, and with creative control, I think the dream match would be me and [Steve] Austin. That was the dream match 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Would it be a reality now? Probably not. Is there anyone on the current roster? I’d go with anybody. It doesn’t matter.”

Unfortunately the ship has sailed on the Goldberg vs. Austin match. That’s the problem. What is the payoff and who do you match up with Goldberg? Ryback isn’t in a spot that makes sense for the match. The only guy I can think of Triple H and the WWE playing off of their heat but that’s already been done and quite honestly it wasn’t that good.

One guy Goldberg won’t be wrestling is CM Punk. Goldberg also has a passion for MMA and was asked about Punk’s transition from pro wrestling to the UFC. He is a fan of Punk’s move to the UFC.

He is in a great training camp,” he said. “From what I’ve read, CM Punk is like a sponge when it comes to training. So as long as he can digest what is thrown at him, he is in a great camp. Anthony Pettis is a superstar in mixed martial arts right now. I think [Duke] Roufus was an underachiever in the kick boxing world, and he worked his ass off to obtain the level he attained as a coach. I believe he can see himself a little bit in CM Punk and work slowly with him.

I would highly recommend the entire interview where Goldberg talks more about a WWE return, Sting coming to the WWE, Randy Savage in the Hall of Fame, more on Punk and UFC, and more.

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Pro Wrestlers and Personalities Missing from the WWE Hall of Fame

January 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

With the recent announcement of Randy Savage being inducted into to 2015 WWE HOF, and the recent inclusions of Bruno Sammartino and the Ultimate Warrior, the HOF seems to be more and more complete. However, there are still some glaring omissions. I’ve left out some of the more obvious ones (Sting, Undertaker, etc) and added some names people normally overlook.

Bill Apter
Apter is someone that is never mentioned on any WWE HOF lists. Though never really an integral part of the WWE, Apter’s contribution to wrestling, more specifically wrestling journalism, cannot be overlooked. If you read a wrestling magazine in the mid 80’s to early 90’s, odds are Apter was reporting or photographing for it. Apter opted to protect the business, not letting people in on what happens backstage. If there is ever going to be a physical building for the HOF, Apter would be the perfect curator for it.

The Fabulous Freebirds
The night Michael Hayes slammed the steel cage door on Kerry Von Erich’s skull is a moment that lives in infamy. It started one of the most heat rivalries in professional wrestling history. This feud was arguably some of the best wrestling of the 80’s. The Von Erich’s are synonymous with Texas wrestling, but they needed a heel factor, and that was the Freebirds. Though they didn’t spend a significant amount of time in the WWF/E, their time in World Class Championship Wrestling is hall of fame worth on its own.

Demolition
Demolition is often overlooked for induction, as are many tag teams.  Initially, and sometimes still considered to be Road Warrior “rip-offs”, Demolition carved a niche of their own. No team has had a single WWE tag team title reign longer than their record 478 days. During the 80’s, the WWF had larger than life characters. Demolition stood out amongst many of those characters with their S&M themed ring gear of leather and spikes. Definitely one of the most intimidating tag teams of all time.

Bam Bam Bigelow
In many people’s eyes, Bam Bam Bigelow was the best “big man” in the business. Bigelow spent time in all 3 major use promotions (WWF, ECW, WCW) and had great success. His matches in ECW with Taz still hold up today. Bigelow even headlined WrestleMania XI with NFL great Lawrence Taylor

Vince McMahon
Sure, this one may seem obvious. It probably will not happen for years, but Vince McMahon needs to be in the HOF. Lots can be said about him, but he took wrestling from the dimly lit VFW’s and armories to big arenas with his national expansion in the 80’s, survived the Monday Night Wars in the 90’s, and the WWE still stands today. Wrestling as we know it would not be the same without Vince McMahon. He has been against being inducted, let alone doesn’t appear on camera during induction ceremonies. So, it may be awhile before we see this come to fruition.

The nWo
The New World Order is quite possibly the most influential group/storyline in the history of professional wrestling. Formed at a time when WWF had characters that were garbage men, hockey players, and a pig farmes; the n.W.o ushered in a more mature and adult product in wrestling. The angle gave wrestling a sense of realism that had never been felt, and never has been duplicated sense. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were perceived to be invaders in WCW from the WWF, giving fans a glimpse of something they always wanted to see; WCW vs WWF. Hulk Hogan joining the Outsiders in 1996 is a Hall of Fame moment in itself. Fans in 96 and 97 were glued to their tv’s to see what was going to happen next. Would more people from the WWF join ? Who was going to defect from WCW? What would happen next? The n.W.o would eventually appear in the WWE in 2002, though never recapturing the magic of 1996.

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TNA Wrestling, WWE Royal Rumble and Other Wrestling Thoughts

January 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There are two things that TNA and Impact Wrestling do better than the WWE and it isn’t even close – they promote both their tag team division and the Knockouts better than their rival company and use both divisions as main event programming to keep its fan base interested.

The niche promotion that has more lives than a cat on steroids found a home on Destination America and gave an uneven performance for its first venture in the new year. The fact there are two heel stables and no real “face” faction other than Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Kurt Angle to fight the good fight is concerning. But the match between the Hardy’s and The Wolves proved that extreme tag team wrestling is still alive and well. Here’s hoping TNA develops more tag team talent to challenge The Revolution and can bring in more X-Division style talent to build tag teams as a way to continue the high-paced style this company is known for.

The spot that may have been the best of the opening show Friday night was the confrontation between Havoc and Awesome Kong. If this is what TNA gives us on a weekly basis, then there will be no shortage of enthusiasm from its fan base. When is the last time two behemoth women got in a ring and beat the hell out of each other? This isn’t Lita and Trish Stratus – this is more hell, fire and brimstone than anything else. Can both deliver and more importantly, can both keep the Knockout’s Division running at such a high level? TNA has grown plenty of talent with Madison Rayne, Velvet ISky, OBD, Taryn Terrell and Angelina Love. A match between Havoc and Awesome Kong could be the main event attraction of the Year, should it live up to the hype the company will throw at the rivalry.

DO NOT GIVE THE RUMBLE TO DANIEL BRYAN

The “Yes” movement is back, alive and well as of last week when Daniel Bryan made his triumphant return to the ring in a match against Kane and then in a six man tag team match (I hate the impromptu matches like that, by the way). What worries me is the WWE will try to capitalize on the momentum of Bryan again and give him the Royal Rumble victory.

 realize the momentum the WWE hoped Roman Reigns would get from the WWE Universe on his way to the Royal Rumble is not the response they had hoped for. As Eric Gargiulo pointed out last week, the injury Reigns suffered last year may have something to do with that. The other reason may be that the fans do not want Reigns shoved down their throat. The “Yes” movement and Bryan came naturally, as it evolved – fans identify with the underdog, which was a huge win for the company. I am not saying a Royal Rumble win for Bryan is a bad thing, but not giving someone else a chance to shine at WrestleMania may not be what is best for business.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAT PATTERSON

We celebrate the birthday on Monday of one of the greatest champions of all time in the WWE.

The 74-year-old creative consultant for the company was the first Intercontinental Champion in the company.

In 1979, Patterson debuted in the then World Wide Wrestling Federation, working as a heel, under the tutelage of manager The Grand Wizard. As a villain, Patterson’s primary feuds were with WWF North American Champion Ted DiBiase and WWF World Champion Bob Backlund.

During a television taping on June 19 in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Patterson defeated DiBiase for the WWF North American Championship by using a pair of brass knuckles to knock out DiBiase. Patterson was unsuccessful, however, in winning the WWF World Championship from Backlund.

In September 1979, the WWF North American Championship and the (fictional) South American Championships were unified to create the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Patterson was crowned the company’s first Intercontinental champion after an alleged tournament held in Rio de Janeiro. While Patterson’s tournament “victory” is widely listed in wrestling title and match histories, the tournament itself never actually took place.

Patterson held the Intercontinental Championship until April 21, 1980 when he was defeated by Ken Patera in New York City, New York. The match ended in controversial fashion after Patterson placed his right leg on the ropes just before the three count was made.

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The Forgotten First WWE Royal Rumble

January 19, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE history is a funny thing. World Wrestling Entertainment history can often times be just as scripted as the matches. The first Royal Rumble match and winner would be an example of this as the event promoted as the first Rumble was really not the first Rumble at all.

Another Royal Rumble? How could that be? Sorry Hacksaw but you are not the first Rumble winner.

Not only was there a Royal Rumble prior to the match most regard as the first in 1988, according to Wrestling Observer editor-in-chief Dave Meltzer, it was a “flop.”

Meltzer wrote about the Rumble in a 2012 edition of the Wrestling Observer. I missed it then but later caught the story while going through some archives. I always found it to be an interesting nugget in WWE history and held on to it until the Rumble season. It’s Rumble season so let’s talk about it!

The original Royal Rumble match actually took place a few months earlier in St. Louis, MO at the Arena. The card drew a reported 1,976 fans. Think about that one for a second. A WWE show in 1987, the year of WrestleMania III drew under 2,000 fans in a historic pro wrestling city, especially a city that loved battle royals. I find that absolutely mind blowing!

It was the One Man Gang and not Hacksaw Duggan that won the very first WWE Royal Rumble. The finish was similar to Rumble finishes you have seen since then in both Rumble and cage matches. According to two reports, both the Gang and the Junkyard Dog went over the top rope together at the 12 minute mark (yep a Rumble ending in 12 minutes). I am presuming the referee saw JYD touch first and thus the Gang got the win and a WWE (WWF) championship match against Hulk Hogan the next month.

This was not without controversy. There were a couple of things here I found reported by both Meltzer and TheHistoryOfTheWWE.com regarding this event. The biggest is that earlier in the night when promoting the next card, the One Man Gang vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF title was already announced. Thus when fans saw Gang win after already being announced as the challenger earlier in the card (oops), loud “bullsh*t” chants broke out.

Additionally reports indicate that the two finalists, Gang and JYD wrestled early in the card. According to those reports the match was terrible. Thus fans groaned at seeing these two guys as the final two men in the match. The whole thing sounds poorly planned from the start.

Like King of the Ring, the Royal Rumble became a tradition. Also like King of the Ring cameras weren’t present for the first one, so it is often disregarded in favor of the more publicized event. Even though nothing was taped for the second King of the Ring, it was acknowledged on television after Harley Race won the match.

So there you have it! Not even Wikipedia acknowledges the first Royal Rumble or its winner. I give a lot of credit to Dave Meltzer and The History crew for digging out the details of this one.

Here are the full results of the card. You can probably figure out who was in the match by looking at the results.

Congratulations to the One Man Gang and not Hacksaw Duggan as being the first ever Royal Rumble winner.

WWF @ St. Louis, MO – Arena – October 4, 1987 (1,976)
Nikolai Volkoff pinned Hillbilly Jim
Don Muraco pinned Bob Orton Jr.
The One Man Gang pinned the Junkyard Dog at around the 4-minute mark
Davey Boy Smith & Billy Jack Haynes defeated Demolition via disqualification
Billy Jack Haynes (sub. for Ricky Steamboat who was supposed to be the sub. for Jake Roberts) defeated King Kong Bundy via count-out
Paul Orndorff defeated Rick Rude via count-out
WWF Women’s Champion Sensational Sherri pinned Velvet McIntyre by using the tights for leverage after a crossbody from the challenger resulted in Sherri rolling on top for the win
The One Man Gang won a Royal Rumble when both he and the Junkyard Dog went over the top at the same time after 12 minutes

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WWE SmackDown Results and January 15 Recap

January 17, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

This week marks the first episode for SmackDown’s move back to Thursday nights, where it originally started. This week originates from Baton Rouge, LA.

The show opens with Byron Saxton in the ring, and he welcomes Daniel Bryan out, who will return to action later this evening. The announce team for tonight is Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, with JBL thankfully nowhere to be found. Bryan says he’s back at home where he belongs, in front of the great fans, and he’s not out here wearing jeans and flannel; he’s out here in gear, because he’s ready to fight. Saxton says the man Bryan will face nearly single-handedly destroyed Bryan’s career. We get a video clip from Bryan’s run with the WWE World title, when he was repeatedly tombstoned by Kane. Back to the arena, Saxton says Bryan must be taking things more seriously. Bryan says that’s exactly what he’s doing. He knows Kane better than anyone. They had a rivalry, then became Team Hell No!, winning the tag titles and holding them for nine months. He considered Kane a friend and brother. But Kane stabbed him in the back, as well as all of the fans the moment he traded in a mask for a suit. Since then, Bryan has had all the doctors telling him he’d never wrestle again…but he’s here tonight. He’s here, and despite what the doctors say, he’s ready. He’s a little worried about his neck. No one knows what will happen until he gets into the ring. But this is how he’s going to prove his worth. Tonight, he fights Kane, and he wins. Then, in two weeks, at the Royal Rumble, he wins. Then, in three months at Wrestlemania XXXI, he wins. Now, some people think that’s a pipe dream. Does he actually think he can do it? Do the fans think he can do it? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Triple H comes out, flanked by Corporate Kane, the Big Show, Seth Rollins and J&J Security. They march down to the ring, and the bell sounds.

MATCH 1: DANIEL BRYAN VS. CORPORATE KANE (W/THE BIG SHOW, J&J SECURITY, SETH ROLLINS AND TRIPLE H)
Bryan immediately hits a dropkick in the corner, then tees off on Kane with punches and kicks. Kane comes back with a kneelift as Byron Saxton has joined the announce desk. Bryan avoids a back suplex, then trips Kane into the buckles. Bryan kicks the middle buckle into Kane’s face, then starts to fire up the Yes! Kicks. Bryan ties up Kane’s left leg in the ropes, then hits it with a running dropkick. Bryan nails some European uppercuts until Kane hits an uppercut of his own. Kane throws Bryan to the corner for an assault, stomping him down. Kane drops Bryan with a straight right, then hits a neckbreaker. He follows up with another one, but it’s only good for 2. Kane locks in a cravat, but Bryan elbows his way out. Off the ropes, Bryan runs into a big boot for 2. Kane hits a DDT for another 2 before applying a neck vice. Bryan fights out again until Kane hits him with a kneelift. Bryan blocks an Irish whip, then low-bridges Kane to the floor. Bryan hits a dropkick through the ropes, then dives off the apron, only to have Kane floor him with an uppercut. Commercials.

Back from the break, Bryan counters a rear chinlock with a jawbreaker. Kane recovers and hits a super slo-mo DDT off the ropes for 2. Kane gets frustrated and pounds Bryan’s chest with forearm shots. In the corner, Kane hits a clothesline and follows up with a sidewalk slam for 2. Kane backs Bryan to the corner with a chinlock, then hits him with another kneelift. He sets Bryan up for a superplex, but Bryan puts on the breaks. He fights Kane off with gut shots, then knocks him down with a headbutt. He hits a cross-body for 2, and Kane is back up with a boot. Bryan backflips off a corner whip, ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. Bryan hits some more Yes! Kicks, and a running one gets 2. More kicks in the corner now and Bryan goes for a running dropkick. Kane goozles him and goes for the chokeslam. Bryan escapes and looks for the Yes! Lock, driving Kane down. He locks it in, but J&J hit the ring, leading to the DQ.

WINNER VIA DISQUALIFICATION: DANIEL BRYAN.

As Kane bails, Bryan takes out both members of J&J, dropkicks Show through the ropes, ducks a briefcase shot from Rollins and bails to the ramp.

The Authority start to stalk Bryan up the ramp, but he’s joined by Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, causing the Authority to stop almost immediately. Triple H tells them if they want to get involved, later tonight, we’re going to have a 6-man tag team match. We’ll put an end to this uprising, because that is what’s best for business.

We get the announcement for Randy Savage being inducted into the Hall of Fame, which we can all agree is long overdue.

Bray Wyatt appears on the TitanTron. He says he’s not a human being; he’s an ideology. He’s the forbidden fruit; he’s the cure. For thousands of years, your society labels things like him a threat. You can only contain a poison of this caliber for so long before it starts to seep out of the cracks and starts to contaminate all things they hold precious. They were right, and after he wins the Royal Rumble, it will be too late to run. Accept your fate, and follow the buzzards.

MATCH 2-6-PERSON TAG TEAM MATCH: WWE TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS THE USOS (JEY & JIMMY) AND NOAMI VS. THE MIZ, DAMIEN MIZDOW AND ALICIA FOX
Miz and Jimmy start. Miz applies a side headlock, then hits a shoulder off the ropes. The two crisscross until Jimmy hits a back elbow. He nails a chop, then another, and he makes the tag to Jey. They hit Miz with their double back elbow, which leads to Mizdow running into the ring and bumping off it as well. The Usos just shrug and drop a double elbow on Miz as Mizdow continues to sell. Miz gets clotheslined to the floor, then gets floored by a suicide dive by Jey. Back in the ring, the crowd begs for a Mizdow tag, which they get. However, Fox immediately tags herself in. Naomi automatically becomes legal and hits Fox with a dropsh*t. Naomi pelts her with rights, then hits a leaping hurricanrana. Fox backdrops her to the apron, where Naomi lands on her feet and hits a high kick. He follows with a top rope cross-body for 2. Fox tags out to Miz, and Jey comes in as well. Miz nails him with a big boot, then stomps him down in the corner. Michael Cole basically just called Miz talentless, which makes me happy. Miz hits a few knees, then teases a tag to Mizdow. Jey hits a few weeks shots until Miz goes for the Reality Check. Jey blocks it, and the two wind up simultaneously clotheslining each other. Jey makes the tag to Jimmy, who hits a series of strikes, ending in a release Samoan drop. He goes for the hip attack, but Miz sees it coming. Jimmy instead climbs the buckles and hits a corkscrew moonsault. Fox breaks up the pin before the ref can start counting. Naomi comes in, and Jimmy throws her over his head onto Fox in a cannonball. Meanwhile, Miz rolls Jimmy up for 2, but Jimmy reverses for 2. Mizdow comes in, and Miz shoves him into a superkick. Miz sneaks in from behind and hits the Skull-Crushing Finale for 3.

WINNERS: ALICIA FOX, THE MIZ AND DAMIEN MIZDOW.

Renee Young is standing by with Roman Reigns. She says he’ll be in the Royal Rumble in 10 days, where it’s every man for themselves. Tonight, can he coexist with his partners, knowing they could stand in between him and a title match at Wrestlemania? Reigns says if tonight was the RR, those boys would be in a world of hurt. But it’s not. Ambrose is his boy, and he has no beef with Bryan. However, he has a huge problem with the Authority and their huge crybaby, the Big Show. Tonight is another chance to screw over the Authority. As for the RR, it’s one vs. all, and we’re looking at the one. Believe that.

We see Paul Heyman marching into the arena.

After some commercials, Heyman is making his way down to the ring as we see what happened between Rollins, John Cena and Brock Lesnar on RAW, ending with Rollins curb-stomping them both. Back to the arena, Heyman introduces himself, then says he doesn’t mind admitting publicly that, for the first time in his career, he’s afraid. If you think about it, Lesnar does what he does because he’s a beast. When he conquered “The Streak”, he did it because he wanted to, because he could. When Lesnar took a hundred-million dollar franchise in Cena and dumped him on his head en route to winning the title, he did it because he wanted to. It was a Sunday, and he had nothing better to do. Now, Lesnar is pissed off. He’s walking with a purpose, and that purpose is to get his hands on Rollins and F-5 the future straight into the past.

On that note, Rollins comes down, with J&J Security. Rollins says he’s sick and tired of everyone walking around on eggshells in regards to Lesnar. He’s sick of everyone telling him he hides the Authority and J&J. He is not afraid of Lesnar. And you know what? He’s so sick of it, to hell with it, he’s cashing in tonight. He wants Heyman’s client tonight. Let’s give the crowd the biggest main event in the history of this show: Lesnar vs. Rollins for the WWE World title, right here, right now! Heyman calls the challenge interesting, but they both know Lesnar is not here tonight. Rollins says if he can’t curb stomp Lesnar, then he’s going to do it to Heyman. Heyman laughs and calls this stereotypical. Everyone says stuff like this when Lesnar isn’t around. Will this attack make him tough? Will that prove he’s the future of WWE? Rollins says it isn’t about being tough, it’s about being smart. If he feels like stomping Heyman tonight, he takes away Lesnar’s greatest asset. Then, at the RR, he’ll be fighting all brawn with no brains. Then, Lesnar is nothing more than a 300-lb. mass of muscle he will run circles around. And he’s proven Cena is not a threat to him. Let’s face the facts: he’s curb stomped Lesnar twice, and at the RR, he’ll make it count for the third time, beat Lesnar and walk out as the champion. So, tell him again why he shouldn’t stomp Heyman right now? Heyman says the Authority in power now, but they’ve already been removed once. What makes him think the Authority can’t be removed again? By hook, by crook, by the Board of Directors, by Vince McMahon’s whims. The future of WWE is a long-term vision, and since Heyman has been back in WWE, he’s gained power every day. He gained it when Lesnar conquered “The Streak”. He gained it when Lesnar became the WWE World Champion. His client has a death grip on the title, and Lesnar will control the title as he deems appropriate. Lesnar can control the title by defending it, or he can protect the new champion when Heyman decides the future is now. Heyman then marches off as Rollins looks contemplative.

MATCH 3: NATALYA (W/PAIGE) VS. WWE DIVAS CHAMPION NIKKI BELLA (W/BRIE BELLA) (NON-TITLE)
They two lock up, and Nattie applies a hammerlock. Nikki counters with an armdrag and flexes her garter snakes. Nattie applies a waistlock, into a legbar. Nikki breaks it with a kick, then hits an elbow in the corner before hitting a tornado armbar takedown. Nikki begins to work over Nattie’s arm and snaps her over for 2. Nikki applies a scissored armbar, but Nattie rolls to her stomach and powers Nikki up, breaking the hold by slamming Nikki. In the corner, Nikki misses a clothesline. Nattie hits a snapmare, a kick to the back, a seated dropkick and a discus clothesline. She goes for the Sharpshooter, but Brie jumps on the apron with the Divas title. On the other side, Paige slaps Nikki behind the ref’s back. Nattie then applies the Sharpshooter and gets the submission win.

WINNER: NATALYA.

Renee Young is now standing by with the Big Show. Oh, joy. She starts to give the same interview she did with Reigns, but he cuts her off. He says he knocked out Cena and Reigns on RAW. As for tonight, he’ll knock out all three of them. At the RR, he’s entering himself. He dominates there. He’s a giant, and he’s going to put himself back on top. He’ll throw 29 other superstars over the top rope. Who can throw him out? There is no one who can eliminate him. The camera pans over, and we see Kane. He says he’s also in the Rumble. Also, Show has apparently forgotten all of the times people have thrown him out.

MATCH 4-INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP: SIN CARA VS. BAD NEWS BARRETT (CHAMPION)
Cara immediately gets in a schoolboy for 2. He then hits another roll-up for 2. BNB nails a gut shot and sends him to the corner. Cara moves to the apron and hits a kick before going up top. BNB sends him right back down with a high hiptoss. He sends Cara into the buckles for 1 before applying a rear chinlock. Cara fights out, but BNB puts a stop to that with an elbow. Cara backlips off a back suplex, hits a kick and a pair of springboard cross-bodies for 2. BNB nails another gut shot, then hits a kneelift. Cara reverses an Irish whip, but Barrett puts on the brakes and sends Cara to the apron. Cara lands on his feet and heads up top for a dive. BNB sees it coming, moves, then catches Cara with the Winds of Change. BNB turns the elbow pad inside out for the Bullhammer, then winds up. Cara ducks and rolls BNB up in a schoolboy for 2 before powering him up and dropping him with a powerbomb. Odd spot for a cruiserweight, but it got a nice pop. Cara goes up top for the swanton bomb, but misses. He avoids another Bullhammer shot and goes for another springboard cross-body, but gets caught mid-air with the Bullhammer on the third attempt for 3.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BAD NEWS BARRETT.

Dean Ambrose is in the back, and he says he was the kid you avoided when you were young. He was disruptive in class as well. That will serve him well in the RR. The person who wins won’t care about alliances or friendships. They won’t give a damn about their well-being, as long as the end justifies the means. Don’t count him out; count him in. Tonight, two of his RR opponents are his partners, and they have one thing in common: they detest the Authority. No one tells him what to do; he just goes out there and does it.

MATCH 5: SETH ROLLINS, THE BIG SHOW AND CORPORATE KANE (W/J&J SECURITY) VS. DANIEL BRYAN, DEAN AMBROSE AND ROMAN REIGNS
Ambrose and Rollins start, with Rollins going on the attack right away. Ambrose comes back with a series of strikes in the corner, then throws Rollins across the ring. He grinds his forearm into Rollins’ face before hitting a power-drive elbow. A neckbreaker connects, and now Ambrose is stomping Rollins in the gut. Reigns tags, and they give Rollins a wishbone. In the corner, Reigns hits a clothesline, followed by a beal throw. Reigns stares at Show as he hits Rollins with a suplex. Reigns begins working over Rollins’ left shoulder before applying a front chancery. Rollins fights out, but gets clubbed across the back for his troubles. Rollins hits a kick off the ropes and tags in Kane. Kane applies a side headlock, then hits a shoulder off the ropes for 1. He goes back to the headlock, but Reigns counters with a back suplex for 1. Kane fights off an arm wringer with rights, then sends Reigns into the ropes. Reigns ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own. Reigns hits a big uppercut, then tags in Bryan. Bryan lays in some kicks in the corner before stomping Kane down. Bryan hits a European uppercut, then several more in the corner. Kane shoves him away and hits an uppercut of his own before tossing Bryan to the floor. Show and Rollins drop down, but Ambrose and Reigns stop them from doing anything. Bryan nails Kane, and now a brawl has spilled out between the two sides. Rollins gets thrown into the timekeeper’s area by Ambrose, and now the faces are standing tall in the ring as we go to commercials.

Back from the break, Bryan nails Rollins with a kitchen sink. Ambrose tags in and stomps Rollins in the corner before grinding his face across the top rope. Ambrose nails a bunch of strikes before hitting a seated dropkick against the ropes for 2. In the corner, Ambrose hits some gut shots, then gets whipped across the ring. Ambrose blocks an incoming Rollins and goes up top. Rollins crotches him, sending him into a tree of woe. Rollins hits a flying stomp to the face, then tags in Show, who hits a big headbutt. Show applies a modified leglock, hanging Ambrose upside-down in the process. He drops Ambrose, then picks him up by the forehead. In the corner, Rollins tags in and stomps Ambrose repeatedly. Behind the ref’s back, Show and Kane get in a few cheap shots before Rollins goes for the pin, getting a 1-count. He applies a rear chinlock, then throws Ambrose into the corner for some gut shots. Show tags in and hits a running hip attack. He nails a bodyslam, then goes for a jumping elbow, which connects for 2. In the corner once more, Show goes for his big chop. Ambrose ducks and starts to unload on Show before Show stops him with a headbutt. He drops an elbow to Ambrose’s knee, then goes back to the leglock. He drops Ambrose and tags Kane, who does some jazz hands before hitting a kick. He continues the attack on Ambrose’s knee, then slaps him in the face. He picks Ambrose up and puts him right back down with a suplex for 1. In the heel corner, Rollins tags in and stomps Ambrose’s hand. Rollins screams in Ambrose’s face until Ambrose slaps him. Rollins comes back with a thrust kick and tags in Kane. Rollins peppers Ambrose with rights, and Kane hits an uppercut. Ambrose comes back with a kick off the ropes, and Kane responds with another uppercut. Ambrose falls into the ropes and hits the rebound clothesline. Rollins tags in and cuts off the tag. Ambrose sends him to the floor with a backdrop. J&J distract the referee as Show clips Ambrose’s knee. Reigns drops Show with a Superman Punch, and Rollins puts him down with a dropkick. Back in the ring, Ambrose makes the tag to Bryan, who ducks a shot from Rollins and nails Kane with a dropkick on the apron. He nails Rollins with rights, flips out in the corner, ducks a clothesline and hits Kane with a suicide dive on the outside. On the apron, he hits Rollins with a hotshot, then climbs back into the ring and nails him with a running corner dropkick. Bryan sets him on the top and snaps off a super hurricanrana for 2. Rollins comes back with a kick to the head and tags in Kane, who hits a chokeslam, but it’s only good for 2 as Reigns breaks it up. Reigns rolls to the floor, where Show drops him with a side kick. Show begins to tear up the announce desk, so Reigns tackles him over it. Back in the ring, Bryan counters a second chokeslam attempt with the Yes! Lock, only to have Rollins break it up. Ambrose nails him with a seated dropkick, then drops both members of J&J with rights. He then clotheslines Rollins to the floor before heading up top for a flying elbow to ringside, taking out everyone. Kane picks Bryan up for a tombston, but Bryan escapes and hits the running knee strike for 3.

WINNERS: DEAN AMBROSE, DANIEL BRYAN AND ROMAN REIGNS.

As Bryan is celebrating, Triple H comes out. He congratulates Bryan and says he got lucky tonight, but he has a feeling Bryan’s luck will run out. Next Thursday, Kane deserves a rematch, and when Bryan loses, he’ll not only lose the match, he’ll lose his spot in the Rumble. Good luck.

End of show.

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