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No CM Punk, No Daniel Bryan, No Roman Reigns: Who Steps Up in the WWE?

September 30, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Like many other wrestling fans, I am at a loss over the lack of superstar talent in the WWE right now. The reuse of wrestling angles, the misguidance of the Authority program, the lack of a tag team division at the moment and the disrespect shown to Randy Orton has me scratching my head of late. Maybe that is why it is past 2 am and I am writing this to you now. Or maybe I need some hobby to keep interest past midnight like SLEEP.

The WWE is about to embark on what appears to be something new for John Cena. While there needs to be a new challenger to Brock Lesnar and the WWE World Title (Randy Orton), the 15-time WWE Champion twists in the wind, waiting for another destiny. With the crop of current talent that still includes Bray Wyatt, Sheamus, Cesaro, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler, it will be the two of the younger minions in the company who will do battle with the WWE’s cash cow – John Cena.

Can both Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose take the money maker over the edge?

As fans, we never want to see our favorite stars get injured and lose time from the ring. We never want to see our heroes leave the company due to injury or retirement and when they do, we are all too quick to try and replace them. We hope out loud that Dolph Ziggler becomes Shawn Michaels or Randy Orton becomes as good as his father was or that Chris Jericho becomes Roddy Piper.

In a perfect world, those wrestlers move right into place and the world carries on as if nothing ever happened.

No one has replaced Ric Flair and no one has become Harley Race. I think the WWE has a while to go until someone can actually replace the wrestling greats we grew up watching at noon on Saturdays.

But in reality, if there is no CM Punk, No Undertaker, No, Roman Reigns and no Daniel Bryan wrestling in the company at the moment, who in the hell or the WWE for that matter, takes the stick and moves forward.

Sting has not “arrived” yet and the thought of Wyatt winning world gold left the building when the hourglass ran out of sand. This is a sad time for the WWE. It needs Rollins and Ambrose now more than ever.

The question remains, however, can two young and exciting superstars coexist with a crowd favorite, the most recognized WWE superstar ever, and still get over. Cena is not the easiest guy to work with and we all know when it comes to changing stripes, The Champ has a hard time playing with all the kids in the sandbox.

Facts are facts.

Cena once said that CM Punk was the only wrestler in the company that was worthy of being in the same ring as him and the only one who could give him a solid match. While it was a huge statement, almost cavalier (ok, totally cavalier), it may have been true. Matches with The Rock were awful. He and Orton put on a great show. Daniel Bryan’s matches with Cena have been very good. But for now, who else is going to give him a push to put him over in some regard?

It must be both Rollins and Ambrose.

For all the talent these two have, they have to give more. Ambrose could actually take the Punk character (the voice of the voiceless) and run with it. Rollins could be another Edge – if not better. The WWE is drowning in poor storylines (Rusev vs. Everyone) and the Divas with Bella vs. Bella and Paige vs. AJ can only get you so far.

It all falls on Ambrose and Rollins. If the two former mat mates can produce as much with Cena as they do against each other, then the WWE can feed off of the adrenaline for the remainder of the year until the Royal Rumble. If not, then the company will have proven once again that it has destroyed something great – Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage great. That cannot be recaptured, but it sure can reused, repackaged and redistributed so it looks fresh.

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Batista Talks Failed WWE Run, Daniel Bryan Rumors and WrestleMania 30

September 02, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I can’t imagine anyone as frustrated with the WWE in 2014 as Batista. His return at another time would have been big, yet timing wasn’t on his side this past January. Batista spoke on his frustrating six-month run to Chris Jericho on a recent podcast.

Put yourself in Batista’s skinny jeans for a second. Here is a guy that left the WWE at the top of his game and had a superstar run for several years before leaving for movies. Anyone else in that position would have been poised for a big return. That didn’t happen. Batista’s run and subsequent run will go down as one of the most disappointing in WWE history and he isn’t happy about it.

Batista is currently a star in the gigantic movie smash, “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Life is much better for Big Dave in Hollywood as opposed to the WWE where he received loud “Boo-tista” chants from large crowds. Batista has now had a couple of months to shake it off, but that doesn’t mean he has forgotten it.

Daniel Bryan got red hot as Batista returned. The fans saw Batista is an obstacle in front of Bryan’s ascension. Batista was originally scheduled to win the WWE title at WrestleMania. When plans changed to Bryan he says he was okay with that. What he wasn’t okay with is how the 24 hours between Mania and the following RAW went down.

This is what I was bent out of shape about. I loved the match and we put him over in the best way. I mean, you couldn’t… we threw out all the bells and whistles, everything up to the point of me tapping out. But the next night he came back and they didn’t want him selling.
It wasn’t his fault, Daniel’s an incredible worker, he knows what he’s doing, he totally gets it. But they didn’t want him to come back selling, which drove me nuts, man, because we beat the hell out of the guy. The guy is getting pulled off on a stretcher, he gets off the stretcher, comes back and wins but is somehow mysteriously is all healed up the next night. But they didn’t want him selling and even at the end of the night we ended up giving him a bunch of finishes but he was right back up.

That kind of stuff irks me to no end, man. It’s crap to me. It’s garbage. That’s not what we know, man.”
He has a very valid point whether you like him or not. Quite frankly what he proposes here about Bryan selling those injuries would have helped everyone. Bryan would have seemed tougher to fans who saw this guy push through broken bones and sore body parts to win the title, and Batista and Randy Orton are kept strong. I can’t disagree with what he is saying at all here.

Batista also addressed the rumor that he refused to put Daniel Bryan over at Payback in what some reported was the planned main-event.

It’s like, what else can I do, man? I was still getting grief from a lot of fans. There was even some rumor got started that I wouldn’t put Daniel Bryan over over the next PPV and they were pissed at me about that. ‘Who do you think you are?’ And I was like, ‘I just tapped out to the guy at WrestleMania, are you kidding me?!?‘”

I blogged extensively about what went wrong with Batista’s comeback. I said numerous times he should have returned as a heel. Many people forget how awesome his heel run was that capped off his last WWE tour of duty. On top of that you had the Daniel Bryan factor and anyone could have seen that Batista wasn’t the hero fans were looking for. Well anyone but Vince McMahon and Triple H.

They thought it would be better if they advertised it (his return), not sure if they thought more people would tune in. That’s why I actually made my comeback the week before in Dayton, Ohio. Ha ha ha, that’s where you want to make your return. (Sarcastically) ‘I want to make my big comeback in Dayton, Ohio’. They could have cared less, they cheered for like two minutes.

It was just bad right off the bat. They had me coming back… ‘so, we want you to come out and do this thing with Hunter and Steph and Randy’ and I was like, ‘it’s my first night back, you can’t give me five minutes in the ring by myself, me and the fans’?

Yeah, and I told them from the beginning (bringing me back as a babyface) was not going to work. ‘Oh, yeah, they miss you, they miss you, they love you’. I was like, ‘no, that’s going to last for like 30 seconds. They want to hate me and I’m good at that, you know, I’m good at being the guy they want to hate.’ It was a struggle creatively, like right off the bat. It went on for a while and then they finally started working with me a little bit.”

One thing I can say about Big Dave in the way assessed his run is that the guy has a great sense of self-awareness. I can almost guarantee you that most guys in Batista’s position would not have been this honest on such a failed run. Maybe that changes next time he comes back? Maybe he doesn’t come back? All I know is that I still think there is money in him yet it’s up to the WWE to use him right and at this point I have no confidence that it will happen.

The entire interview is worth a listen to so check it out over at Podcast One.

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Daniel Bryan Not A Fan Of The Brie-Megan Miller Storyline

August 18, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan is not known for rocking the boat yet even he is not happy with his current angle with wife Brie Bella and he isn’t afraid to tell you. Bryan was recently asked about the angle and the former champion spoke for most of us when he called the storyline flat out “stupid.”

I can’t imagine watching RAW last Monday night who didn’t groan at the new twist in the Stephanie McMahon-Brie Bella feud. The new twist was a revelation that Daniel Bryan is having an affair with his physical therapist Megan Miller. Immediate comparisons were drawn to TNA’s Claire Lynch angle although I think that is a bit of an exaggeration. Regardless, the new layer was not well received within social media and it shouldn’t surprise you that Daniel Bryan found the whole thing downright silly.

Bryan was recently interviewed by IGN.com about his wife’s Brie main-event push and her rise to the top of RAW. Bryan is incredibly proud of his wife but when it comes to the Megan Miller twist, he isn’t on board. Bryan called the storyline “stupid” and was asked to expand on that by the interview.

Yeah, to me, it’s groan-worthy. I don’t think it added anything to the story. It was just like, “Ugh!” But, you know, they do what they do, and you just gotta roll with the punches. It’s funny, because I feel like sometimes you just have to overcome these things more so than anything else. Like, Brie and Stephanie have to overcome that flaw. To me, that was a flaw in the story. The story was so good, and then here’s this flaw in it. But it’s whatever. It doesn’t hurt my feelings or anything, you know? It’s entertainment. It’s not real, so okay.

He’s absolutely right. This is yet another case of the WWE getting too cute with a compelling story. In defense of the WWE, the angle was losing RAW viewers by the week so they did need to do something. However, I can’t imagine that anyone really thought this was the answer. It’s a big flaw in the story and while it may be a bit unfair to judge the angle after one week, I can’t imagine how it could improve other than ending.

That said, Bryan is very proud of his wife and he should be. She has grown immensely as a performer in recent months and has far exceeded expectations since returning to the WWE last year.

Oh my gosh, I’m so proud of her. Her and Stephanie – the main event to RAW, two weeks in a row! That hasn’t happened with Divas in years. Now she’s in what’s, in my mind, the second-biggest match in SummerSlam, and Divas just don’t get that opportunity very often. So I’m really happy for her, really proud of her. She’s worked really hard. A lot of people don’t understand how hard the girls on Total Divas work. They’re on the road, the same as the rest of us, and then when they get home, they’ve got to be filming this whole time. So it’s a very hard life with very few days off, and she’s finally getting rewarded for that, so that’s really nice.

He also talked a bit about the irony in her wrestling Stephanie at SummerSlam and Steph being one of their bosses.

Yeah, and it is funny, because there is something borderline-therapeutic about being able to slap your boss, I think. And because there are so many frustrations we have as wrestlers, it’s like, THWACK! You can see, when Stephanie and Brie slap each other, it’s like, “Holy cow!” [Laughs] I’ve been on the opposite end of a Brie slap on WWE Television before, and I was like, “Holy cow! Why would you do that?” I have a ruptured eardrum in my left ear — it happened in 2007 from a Japanese wrestler named Kenta, who WWE actually has signed. So we were doing a story where I had kind of been dating the Bella Twins, but then they found me with Gail Kim or whatever, and then Brie slapped me. I just asked her, “Okay, please, just don’t slap me in the ear?” The first thing her little hand does is, WHACK! Right in the ear. I was like, “Oh my God!”

The entire interview is a fun read. Unfortunately he reveals that he has no timetable for his return and it appears there are still a lot of questions surrounding his health. Check out the entire interview over at IGN.com for all of the details.

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50 Greatest WWE SummerSlam Matches Ever

August 05, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

So here it is! The ultimate compilation of great and historic SummerSlam WWE matches. Here are the 50 greatest matches ever from the biggest party from the WWE summer extravaganza.

50. MILLION DOLLAR CHAMPIONSHIP: TED DIBIASE VS. VIRGIL (August 26, 1991 – New York, NY)
One of the most underrated matches in WWE history, and Virgil’s greatest match ever, sees Virgil pay off years of indifferent abuse from Dibiase, knocking him out on an exposed turnbuckle, all while Rowdy Roddy Piper, Virgil’s motivator, did one hell of an acting job at the commentary table.

49. ROCKERS/TITO SANTANA VS. FABULOUS ROUGEAU BROTHERS/RICK MARTEL (August 28, 1989 – East Rutherford, NJ)
Go ahead, find the weakest worker in the match, I dare you. Just a tremendous back and forth contest with three skilled faces, and three heels who knew the formula. Just think, if Strike Force never broke up, this would have been an amazing TLC match.

48. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: DIESEL VS. RAZOR RAMON (August 29, 1994 – Chicago, IL)
Four months after dropping the title to Big Daddy Cool, Razor got a measure of revenge with Football Hall of Famer Walter Payton as his back-up. Shawn Michaels’ miscue in accidentally hitting Diesel with Sweet Chin Music set up the eventual split between the two men.

47. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: REY MYSTERIO VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER (August 23, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA)
Before this match, Ziggler was considered by many to be an overrated product of the developmental system. After a furiously paced battle that opened the 2009 show, Ziggler proved he belonged with a flawless heel effort in defeat, and more than earned his forthcoming push.

46. WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT: CM PUNK VS. JBL (August 17, 2008 – Indianapolis, IN)
This one’s a bit forgotten, but it’s historical in that it was Punk’s first successful defense of a World Title on PPV. There was a sick moment in which both men landed in a fashion where JBL’s head landed on the back of Punk’s, legit knocking Punk silly, but he had enough bearing to finish the match, and win.

45. BRET HART VS. DOINK THE CLOWN/JERRY LAWLER (August 30, 1993 – Auburn Hills, MI)
It was a better angle than it was a match. Lawler faked an injury to get out of facing Hart, whose family had been tormented by Lawler for months. Bret won by DQ after Lawler, not injured, interfered. Then Lawler was forced to face Bret, where he was then mauled. Lawler won by DQ on a technicality.

44. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: JOHN CENA VS. CHRIS JERICHO (August 21, 2005 – Washington, DC)
The anti-Cena backlash was just beginning to pick up steam at this point, as Jericho proved to be the crowd favorite in the nation’s capital. Cena would win with the then-called FU, and would drive Jericho out of the company for two years one night later on Raw.

43. WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT: KURT ANGLE VS. BROCK LESNAR (August 24, 2003 – Phoenix, AZ)
Sadly, this might be the worst of the Angle/Lesnar matches, due to the overbooking and involvement of Vince McMahon (wearing an uncharacteristic Hawaiian shirt), but it was still good enough for the most part. Lesnar tapped out for the first time, proving that Angle is as good as Frank Mir. *cough*

42. WORLD TAG TEAM: STEINER BROTHERS VS. HEAVENLY BODIES (August 30, 1993 – Auburn Hills, MI)
With family in the crowd, and their home state behind them en masse, the Steiners put on a variant of their classic NWA/WCW ‘technical spotfests’ with Jimmy Del Ray and Tom Pritchard, both quite game to play at the Steiners’ level. One Frankensteiner later, and the Steiners prevailed in their backyard.

41. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: CHRIS BENOIT VS. ROB VAN DAM (August 25, 2002 – Uniondale, NY)
The story was Benoit (Smackdown) was attempting to bring the belt to the blue brand, whereas RVD (Raw) was fighting to keep it on Eric Bischoff’s show. It was the usual tooth-and-nail show of aggression, and Van Dam recaptured the gold from the “Canadian Crippler”.

40. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN VS. MANKIND VS. TRIPLE H (August 22, 1999 – Minneapolis, MN)
This match was heavily hyped with then-Governor Jesse Ventura donning the referee stripes, and the media blitz was quite a coup for WWE. Mankind scored an upset by pinning an injured Austin, but Mick Foley would drop the gold to Triple H the following night to give The Game his first reign.

39. WORLD TAG TEAM/2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: DEMOLITION VS. HART FOUNDATION (August 27, 1990 – Philadelphia, PA)
I was there! Demolition scored the first fall, but their final reign ended in a DQ in the second stanza, followed by their three man hoodwinking (Ax was not supposed to be at ringside) being foiled by the Legion of Doom, allowing for The Hitman and The Anvil to double team Crush to win.

38. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: EDGE VS. JOHN CENA (August 20, 2006 – Boston, MA)
Cena got booed out of his hometown arena, and the Bostonians couldn’t have been happier to see Edge retain. It was the typical “main event style” match that the two do so well, and Edge’s brass knuckle shot sealed the victory, prompting Jim Ross to curse up a storm at ringside.

37. WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT: CHRIS BENOIT VS. RANDY ORTON (August 15, 2004 – Toronto, ON)
Even Benoit’s countrymen seemed enthralled by the notion of Orton becoming the youngest World Champion in WWE history, and it happened after one of Orton’s more stellar efforts to date. Say what you will about Orton, but seeing him bawl his eyes out in victory was a nice, real moment.

36. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN VS. UNDERTAKER (August 30, 1998 – New York, NY)
As great a match as this was, it would have been even more epic had Austin not been knocked silly on a backdrop counter spot earlier in the match. As it was, it was the culmination of a summer’s worth of storylines, and had the satisfying ending of Austin beating the Dead Man cleanly.

35. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: RICK RUDE VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (August 28, 1989 – East Rutherford, NJ)
If not for Randy Savage, I’d say nobody got better matches out of the Warrior than Rude, who added both a musclebound-rival perspective, as well as a ragdoll for the Warrior to throw around. After Roddy Piper distacted Rude, Warrior got his gold back in convincing fashion.

34. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: THE UNDERTAKER VS. BRET HART (August 3, 1997 – East Rutherford, NJ)
Bret Hart would never be allowed to wrestle in America again if he lost, and having Shawn Michaels as the referee stacked the deck against him. However, an errant Michaels chair shot felled the Dead Man, and Hart was able to salvage his US career with a reluctant count from Michaels.

33. CHRIS JERICHO VS. DOLPH ZIGGLER (August 19, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA) WWE planted a red herring, making fans believe Jericho was losing prior to his leaving the company. Instead, Y2J won a highly-intense opening match with the Walls of Jericho. Jericho would leave the following night, when Ziggler beat him in a ‘briefcase vs. career’ match, but came back at the Rumble

32. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: LANCE STORM VS. EDGE (August 19, 2001 – San Jose, CA)
Take a technically proficient bad guy, a formula-driven, yet energetic good guy, and give them the opening match in which to set a killer pace for the show. Done and done! Edge, despite Christian’s questionable failed interference, put away his Canadian counterpart to capture the gold.

31. ELIMINATION MATCH: TEAM WWE VS. THE NEXUS (August 15, 2010 – Los Angeles, CA)
Considering the lack of experience on the opposing team, this match turned out pretty damn good. Bret Hart’s Summerslam return was also a welcome addition to the match. So what if John Cena managed to win using his Superman formula? It was still a good forty minutes, wasn’t it?

30. I QUIT MATCH: RIC FLAIR VS. MICK FOLEY (August 20, 2006 – Boston, MA)
For a feud that began over petty comments made in an autobiography, this bloodbath stole the show for a lackluster Summerslam. Melina, as Foley’s ally, was great in her role of concerned friend, and Flair drawing a submission from Foley by threatening to main her was great theater.

29. STREET FIGHT: TEST VS. SHANE MCMAHON (August 22, 1999 – Minneapolis, MN)
Test’s greatest match ever, and it may have been Shane’s as well. Test was fighting for the right to date Shane’s sister, Stephanie, and the two beat the hell out of each other in an overbooked, but fun, skirmish. Test won, but Shane stunned everyone with his diving elbow through the table.

28. DEGENERATION X VS. LEGACY (August 23, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA)
This was quite a coming out party for Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase, and they were made to hold their own against a reunited DX, who tend to dominate anyone that’s not a main eventer. Although Legacy lost, they looked pretty damn good, but it’s a shame the momentum didn’t last.

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27. KURT ANGLE VS. REY MYSTERIO (August 25, 2002 – Uniondale, NY)
It may have been under ten minutes long, but it was still an exciting way to open possibly the greatest Summerslam ever. Mysterio’s WWE PPV debut saw no wasted motion, as he and Angle found instant chemistry. Angle prevailed with the ankle lock, and the fans needed to catch their breath.

26. WWE HARDCORE/LADDER MATCH: ROB VAN DAM VS. JEFF HARDY (August 19, 2001 – San Jose, CA)
WWE fans were warming up fast to the Alliance’s resident daredevil, as he and WWE’s enigmatic freak tore down the house, setting new standards for ladder match insanity. Van Dam would retrieve the title, and his rise into an eventual babyface star was coming to fruition.

25. LION’S DEN MATCH: OWEN HART VS. KEN SHAMROCK (August 30, 1998 – New York, NY)
It was WWE’s attempt at UFC, before UFC was the rage with every tatted-up blowhard in your neighborhood. Held in the confines of the theater inside MSG, Shamrock and Hart stretched and slugged each other until Owen could prove no match for Shamrock’s anklelock.

24. WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT/TLC: JEFF HARDY VS. CM PUNK (August 23, 2009 – Los Angeles, CA)
One of Hardy’s final contributions to WWE, before his life began its free fall, was this exciting, innovative, and spotastic TLC match that closed the 2009 event. Punk won by a hair after taking his lumps, but Undertaker was there at the end to ruin the moment with a chokeslam.

23. WCW HEAVYWEIGHT: BOOKER T VS. THE ROCK (August 19, 2001 – San Jose, CA)
It’s a shame the feud was so one-sided toward The Great One, because he and Booker would rank in the top ten of all time most charismatic performers. The match was a great main event showcase, but Booker T spinarooni-ed his way right into a Rock Bottom, wounding the Alliance’s windfall.

22. DANIEL BRYAN VS. WADE BARRETT (August 14, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA)
A sleeper classic between the best technical wrestler in the world, and his former NXT alum, no wrestling slouch in his own right. Bryan and Barrett exchanged science and stiff shots for the duration of this forgotten battle, with Barrett narrowly winning.

21. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR (August 29, 1992 – London, England)
The confusing storyline of Mr. Perfect attempting to manage whoever won did little damage to the body of the match. It lacked the intensity of their WrestleMania VII epic, but Savage and Warrior told their typical icon vs. icon story very well up until the disappointing countout finish.

20. JOHN CENA VS. BATISTA (August 17, 2008 – Indianapolis, IN)
Two of the prized prodigies of WWE’s early developmental days were engineered to tell main event stories with a larger-than-life feel. Both men have spent their careers doing just that, and the result was this great match, wherein Batista put Cena out for months with a riveting Batista Bomb.

19. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: THE ROCK VS. TRIPLE H VS. KURT ANGLE (August 27, 2000 – Raleigh, NC)
One of the more intense matches in Summerslam history saw Kurt Angle get his brains scrambled on a table Pedigree gone wrong. In the midst of the Angle-HHH-Stephanie love triangle, there was enough heat, plus The Rock’s “it factor” to give Summerslam 2000’s finale a sound ending.

18. NON TITLE MATCH: BRAIN BUSTERS VS. HART FOUNDATION (August 28, 1989 – East Rutherford, NJ)
The booking may have been suspect (Busters leaving in the fall, titles not on the line), but the match was just old school tag team wrestling from four experts on the matter. Bret Hart nearly left WWE after this show, and if he had, he’d have gone out with a tremendous opening match.

17. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: SHAWN MICHAELS VS. VADER (August 18, 1996 – Cleveland, OH)
There was some interesting discooperation in the middle, where Michaels legitimately chewed out Vader for messing up a spot. That flaw aside, what you get is a great “killer monster vs. hearty underdog champion” dynamic, with Michaels winning to continue his first World title reign.

16. UNDISPUTED HEAVYWEIGHT: THE ROCK VS. BROCK LESNAR (August 25, 2002 – Uniondale, NY)
Who could forget those awesome training vignettes in the weeks before the match? Those well-done videos were paid off with a heavyweight clash for the ages, where Lesnar shook off Rock’s offensive toolbox, and sent him back to Hollywood with a roaring F5 to the cheers of the crowd.

15. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: OWEN HART VS. STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN (August 3, 1997 – East Rutherford, NJ)
Up until the final two or three minutes, Hart and Austin were engaged in an absolute classic, but it was the final moments that made it legendary. Austin was temporarily paralyzed after a botched piledriver, and still found the willpower to ease Owen into a roll-up to score the win. Simply chill inducing.

14. HELL IN A CELL: THE UNDERTAKER VS. EDGE (August 17, 2008 – Indianapolis, IN)
After screwing over The Dead Man for over a year, Edge finally got his when he was locked inside “Satan’s Structure” with Undertaker himself. One of the first “violent” matches in the PG era, Undertaker won, and then vanquished Edge into a smoldering pit to settle the score.

13. 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: CHRIS JERICHO VS. CHRIS BENOIT (August 27, 2000 – Raleigh, NC)
The match was somewhat abbreviated, perhaps due to time constraints, but leave it to the “Calgary Kids” to pack a lot of action into a short frame of space. Benoit would take the contest two falls to one after cheating in the final frame, but anyone who watched it was satisfied enough.

12. WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT/STREET FIGHT: CHRISTIAN VS. RANDY ORTON (August 14, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA)
This may well be Randy Orton’s greatest match ever; an all-out war where his demented “Viper” persona got revenge on Christian’s underhanded title win one month earlier. Both men pummeled each other with chairs and canes until an RKO on the stairs ended it.

11. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: MR. PERFECT VS. BRET HART (August 26, 1991 – New York, NY)
And with that, The Hitman was a made man. Perfect was on his way out with back injuries, and in defeat, he made his real life friend look like the world-beater Vince McMahon needed. After kicking out of the Perfect Plex, Hart would snare Perfect in the Sharpshooter and force the submission.

10. WWE UNIFICATION: CM PUNK VS. JOHN CENA (August 14, 2011 – Los Angeles, CA)
It was going to be hard to top their five star effort at Money in the Bank, but damned if they didn’t come close. Punk’s relatively clean win (with Cena’s foot on the ropes) was only undone by Alberto Del Rio’s cash-in of his Money in the Bank privilege afterward.

9. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN VS. KURT ANGLE (August 19, 2001 – San Jose, CA)
Angle kicked out of three Stunners and was suddenly no longer the goofy, milk-loving Americana nerd that Austin remembered. If not for a BS ending wherein Nick Patrick disqualified Stone Cold, his boss, and saved his title, this match might be number one. Alas.

8. NO DISQUALIFICATION: CM PUNK VS. BROCK LESNAR (August 18, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA)
Could’ve been the match of the year for 2013, if not for one entry still to come. In many ways, this clash follows the template of a Vader/Sting battle, but with weapons and WWE Main Event-style pacing. It’s maybe Brock’s best WWE match, and Punk’s last classic.

7. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL/LADDER MATCH: THE ROCK VS. TRIPLE H (August 30, 1998 – New York, NY)
By the end of the match, two main eventers were born. Rock’s People’s Elbow, done while Triple H was lying on a ladder, brought Madison Square Garden down. In the end, Hunter ended Rock’s nine month reign as IC Champ, but bigger things were ahead for both.

6. WWE HEAVYWEIGHT: JOHN CENA VS. DANIEL BRYAN (August 18, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA)
It’d take eight winding, agonizing months for the true conclusion of Bryan’s ascension, and even then, the broken neck sadly deflated it. Still, this is an incredible match, lauded as the best of 2013, and Cena laid down cleanly, without his typical out.

5. WWE INTERCONTINENTAL/LADDER MATCH: SHAWN MICHAELS VS. RAZOR RAMON (August 27, 1995 – Pittsburgh, PA)
It was a tough task to try and outdo WrestleMania X’s standard-defining match, but the Kliq running buddies were game to try. The story of this one centered around Michaels having his leg hammered, but Razor ate some Chin Music off the ladder, and Michaels wound up retaining the gold.

4. WORLD TAG TEAM/TLC: EDGE/CHRISTIAN VS. HARDY BOYZ VS. DUDLEY BOYZ (August 27, 2000 – Raleigh, NC)
Conventional wisdom had the Hardyz winning, since they were the “home team”. But there was nothing conventional about this stunt show, in which Jeff Hardy swantoned off a ladder, nearly killing him and Bubba Ray Dudley. Edge and Christian ended up retaining, and celebrated with a 37 second pose.

3. NON-SANCTIONED STREET FIGHT: SHAWN MICHAELS VS. TRIPLE H (August 25, 2002 – Uniondale, NY)
Michaels’ first match in over four years opened a lot of eyes. The eyes opened realized that, after such a layoff, Michaels was capable of outworking just about anyone with no rust evident. The Heartbreak Kid scored the win, and provided closure to his career over the next eight years.

2.WWE HEAVYWEIGHT/STEEL CAGE MATCH: BRET HART VS. OWEN HART (August 29, 1994 – Chicago, IL)The greatest sibling rivalry in wrestling history hit its apex with a bloodless, but quite exciting, steel cage challenge with the entire Hart family at ringside. After dozens of near escapes and dramatic moments, Bret left brother Owen hanging and dropped to the floor to keep his championship.

1.WWE INTERCONTINENTAL: BRET HART VS. THE BRITISH BULLDOG (August 29, 1992 – London, England)
Bulldog was the native son with 80,000 fans behind him, but he should be grateful that Bret had his back. In this babyface can-you-top-this war, Hart led Bulldog, who spent the summer drugged up and burnt out, to the best match of his life, putting his brother-in-law over before a raucous crowd.

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WWE’s Ten Best Matches Of The First Half Of 2014

July 10, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Through questionable booking, a stock market crash, fan discontent, and the unfortunate loss of JTG, WWE has provided audiences with, if nothing else, a lot of great in-ring action. Here are my personal picks for the ten best bouts so far in 2014.

10. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Christian vs. Sheamus (WWE Elimination Chamber, February 23)

As long as the performers cut a watchable pace in the epic-length Chamber matches, and there’s some creative mayhem taking place between the chain-link walls, it generally adds up to a great match. This was no exception, and it even came with some added drama: would Bryan avenge his exclusion from the Royal Rumble match and become WWE Champion? A spurned Twitterverse, led by a bat-wielding Mick Foley, glued their eyes to the action.

Bryan, of course, didn’t win here, succumbing to Corporate Kane (RepubliKane?) in a screwy finish. Cena also didn’t win, as a Wyatt Family teleportation cost him Orton’s gold as well. It was Bryan’s portion of the story that received the most focus, with him taking a beating (being whipped through an empty pod by Cesaro), and valiantly clawing his way back before the heart-ripping finish. That only made the WrestleMania payoff more enjoyable.

9. Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Takeover, May 29)

This was certainly surprising. You’d expect a good match from Natalya under required circumstances (read: a match of reasonable length where she’s not selling for the trade show model du jour). But Charlotte? She never really impressed me in NXT, and it seemed her push was based on that she was tall, blonde, and the offspring of wrestling royalty. To say this match was incredible might be the understatement of all of 2014.

In a match to determine the new NXT Women’s Champion, Charlotte held her own in what ended up a highly intense match-up, most notable for the Sharpshooter/figure-four spot with determined reversals and realistic selling. Perhaps having Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside was a heaven-sent dual muse? Charlotte capped off the match with the win, which many predicted, but the story in getting to that point was something no one saw coming.

8. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (WWE Royal Rumble, January 26)

Forget the aftermath of the night, which consisted of two hours of fan anger the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1991 Great American Bash. Contained within its frame of time, Bryan and Wyatt held their own in a match that essentially saved the Rumble from being one of the absolute worst PPVs of all time. Even with the match, the night retains its unfathomable infamy, but at least you can say, “Well, one match was awesome.”

Bryan and Wyatt’s match opened the Rumble, and was pretty oddly structured for an era bent on mechanical pacing. Bryan worked Wyatt’s legs early with a series of kicks, and the match didn’t really hit the WWE Main Event Style until well into the proceedings. That was for the better, because different can be highly enjoyable. The finish was memorable, with Wyatt catching a Bryan dive into Sister Abigail against the crowd barrier, very suitably slick.

7. Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover, May 29)

Takeover’s a serious contender for the best WWE show of 2014. The women’s match makes this list, and the NXT Championship bout between Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd was a viable list candidate that just fell short. Breeze and Zayn’s number one contender match was the best of a well-executed card, hardly surprising given Zayn’s general Midas touch. However, the match served as Breeze’s coming-out party, making him one to watch.

Making anyone this generation’s Shawn Michaels is a risky proposition, equal to calling any NBA player “the next Jordan”, but WWE’s all in with making Breeze the risk-taking pretty boy incarnate of today. He was game on exchanging crazy moves with the experienced Zayn, including a weird reversal sequence that ended in an improvised powerbomb. The ending was also a creative bit of screwiness, involving a questionably-blatant low blow.

6. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Arrival, February 27)

Nothing better than a feud over who is simply “the better man.” Strange concept to some in power, but for my simple eyes, the Zayn/Cesaro rivalry was some of the most enjoyable wrestling over the past several years. After a two-out-of-three falls match that Cesaro won in August (hailed by many as the 2013’s best match), the story was Zayn was bent on avenging the loss, and challenged Cesaro to a final battle at WWE Network’s first major special.

The cat-and-mouse nature of the match, with Zayn’s eager risk-taking and Cesaro’s defiant power response, built feverishly to Cesaro gaining the definitive upper hand, and Zayn looking the beaten man. Cesaro even begged Zayn to stop kicking out, but Zayn countered the Neutralize. That led to Cesaro brutalizing him with Swiss Death, a discus uppercut, and the punctuating Neutralizer. Afterward, Cesaro gave Zayn the gesture of respect he’d wanted.

5. Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE WrestleMania XXX, April 6)

Nostalgia always feels best when its employment seems natural. There was no shoehorning of classic Attitude Era elements into the WrestleMania main event, which saw the use of a crooked ref, even more crooked authority figures, and a teased stretcher job for Bryan that turned into a Willis Reed comeback special. Add to it the legitimate want of the audience to see Bryan prevail, and the elements were there for a tremendous ‘Mania finale.

It took a lot to get the crowd back into it after The Undertaker’s streak was startlingly ended less than an hour earlier by Brock Lesnar, but all three performers held their own, even the maligned Batista. The bomb/neckbreaker combo on Bryan through the table was memorably sick, and Bryan’s forcing of Batista to submit erupted the Superdome appropriately. If this were the Newlywed Game, WWE held up cards that had every fan answer correct in this one.

4. The Shield vs. Evolution (WWE Extreme Rules, May 4)

The Shield coming to Bryan’s rescue the night after WrestleMania kicked off a highly enjoyable run against the reformed Evolution (until Rollins was swiftly turned, apparently in response to low Memorial Day ratings if you believe the sheets). A rematch at the June 1 Payback event, under elimination and ‘no DQ’ rules, was pretty great in its own right, but the original from Extreme Rules remains the superior exhibition, with its faster pace and livelier crowd.

Rollins continued his campaign to become the modern WWE generation’s Jeff Hardy, doing so by leaping off of the upper deck at the IZOD Center onto Triple H, Randy Orton, and a sacrificial Dean Ambrose. Say what you will about Batista, but he’s been a good sport since the poorly-received comeback, putting over Roman Reigns clean as a sheet by eating the Superman punch, and the emphatic spear. WWE has issues creating stars, but got the Shield 100% correct.

3. John Cena vs. Cesaro (WWE Monday Night Raw, February 17)

If you’re given twenty minutes on free television to work with John Cena, and you’re still kicking around the midcard or upper midcard with little in the way of promising direction, chances are this is your litmus test. WWE seemed to be flirting with a true push of Cesaro in the preceding weeks, sticking him into the Elimination Chamber match, and even put him over champion Randy Orton in a non-title bout. So far so good, but the real test was at hand.

The win over Orton raised the possibility that he *could* beat Cena, instead of having it be the obvious “LOL CENA WINS” trope, and Cesaro held up his end. The most notable spot was the deadlift superplex, now a Cesaro staple, which was used on the B-shows before its unleashing on Raw. Cesaro did end up losing clean to Cena, but everyone had to be encouraged by what they saw, especially when the crowd went crazy for the Cesaro Swing attempts.

2. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (WWE Elimination Chamber, February 23)

Pretty good sign when the fans are chanting “THIS IS AWESOME” before any of the six have even made contact with one another. Then again, it raises the bar pretty high for a group of men, none of whom have been truly juiced-in main eventers yet, that are being counted on to deliver in a prime spot. It was hailed as a match-of-the-year candidate before it even ended (and indeed while it was still going), and remains in the running four months later.

The Shield weren’t particularly babyfaces in the run-up to the match, aside from not backing down in face-to-face confrontations, but the trio took to the good guys formula with the sort of timing and pacing that made it seem like they’d been faces for years. The chaotic end-run of the match, which was a star-maker for the kamikaze Rollins, puts it above most other spotfests by having logic and organization behind each stunt. The Wyatts won, but really, so did the Shield.

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WWE WrestleMania XXX, April 6)

After “The Game” made Brock Lesnar slow down to his pace for a trio of matches, and needed Shawn Michaels to play rodeo clown in the overrated “End of an Era” match, I went into his match with Bryan with lowered expectations. I’d figured Bryan would have to slow down to allow his 44-year-old boss with two bum legs to keep up. Lo and behold, the Fountain of Youth resides in New Orleans, as Triple H had his greatest match in probably a good decade or so.

As if he was determined to prove he could still go with the best, and maybe feeling slighted that CM Punk brushed off a match with him, Helmsley wrestled a beaut with the best technician in the company, mixing pure wrestling with the sports-entertainment transition spots you’d expect out of his matches. In the end, Triple H put Bryan over 100% cleanly, and allowed him to kick out of the Pedigree in the process. And we all though Hunter didn’t know how to elevate.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WWE Half-Year Predictions For 2014

July 01, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There is still plenty of time to go in 2014 as we cross the halfway mark. Thus far it has been one of the least predictable years in recent memory. What other shockers and/or surprises await the WWE Universe? Let’s dust off the crystal ball and see if the rest of 2014 will be full of just as unpredictable.

If you were to make predictions at the start of 2014, I would have missed out on some of the bigger stories of the year. Would you have predicted that Daniel Bryan would ascend at WrestleMania only to lose the title due to a legitimate injury? Would you have predicted that Seth Rollins would be the one to turn on the Shield and unite with Triple H? Would you have predicted that the Shield going over Evolution twice? Would anyone have predicted that CM Punk would walk out and retire within the first 30 days of 2014? Maybe you would and maybe you wouldn’t but it is fair to say that most of the big stunners were missed.

Dolph Ziggler will get a push - The pressure is starting to mount. Recent reports reveal that Ric Flair has gone to management and suggested they push Ziggler. The voices are growing and the sounds of fan support get louder and louder every time he is in the ring. He is hands down one of the most talented guys they have inside the ring and rarely if ever has a bad match. Why he isn’t utilized more is one of wrestling’s biggest mysteries. I think it happens, not at the top, but more mid-upper mid card by year’s end…at least I hope it does.

CM Punk will not be back - I think it is time to close the door and throw away the key. If Punk ever comes back it isn’t going to happen for awhile. We have all heard the different theories on why he walked but have yet to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth. Punk’s colleagues continue to predict his return, yet those who know him best say otherwise. The irony is that Punk probably walked at one of the most inopportune times during his WWE career. With Daniel Bryan out, Cena stale, and the new crop of babyfaces not quite ready for the top spot, he would have had the run of the kingdom up top if he stuck around. He knows that and the fact he’s still not here tells you he doesn’t care. I think the next time you see him in a ring will be on some indepdent show for charity or having fun with his friends. It won’t be in a WWE ring.

Kurt Angle will be back - Punk may not be back but I am betting that Kurt Angle will be back. I will be the first to admit that this is more wishful thinking than anything else. The WWE have a new class of young stars ready to ascend to the next level. Unfortunately what they don’t have are many established veterans to put them over and give them that stamp of approval. Angle provides that in and out of the ring. Angle’s outside of the ring troubles are certainly cause for concern and those issues will likely be the only thing that prevents his return. He is still one of the most entertaining personalities in the business and when he is on in the ring, he is on. It all boils down to how big of a gamble the WWE want to take on him. I think they go all in!

Dean Ambrose will make a bigger imapct than Roman Reigns - It is no secret that Roman Reigns is the “chosen one” to become the next John Cena according to numerous reports. Yet it would appear at this point that his biggest threat is coming from his old Shield teammate Dean Ambrose. In the few weeks that Ambrose has gotten time as a singles, he has consistently delivered the best promos among the wrestlers in the company, only second overall to Paul Heyman. In the ring he has more charisma and versatility than Reigns and has more of the tools to produce long, main-events on the special events. It is going to be real interesting come December which is when we’ll have an idea who is being positioned for the WrestleMania spot. As of now all of the money is on Reigns. The more I hear Dean talk and the more I see him in singles action the more I think that could change.

Daniel Bryan will not have another WWE title run - This isn’t much of a bold prediction but it appears that Bryan won’t be stepping back in the ring any time soon. The decision has yet to be made as to whether he will need a second surgery so I am basing this on Bryan coming back without a second surgery needed. I think the ship has sailed on Bryan and the WWE are moving forward with Reigns, Ambrose, Rollins, and Wyatt which leaves Bryan out in the cold. The Yes Movement was lightning in a bottle and you can already hear the chants getting softer. The WWE finally has their out and Bryan was never their guy. This isn’t to say that Bryan won’t get another title run in 2015 or 16, I just don’t see it happening in ’14 if he does return to the WWE rings.

Bray Wyatt will be a top babyface - The booking of Wyatt has been one of the strangest WWE creatives in awhile. He was pushed to be one of the top heels of the company yet he’s been booked like a babyface. This all came full circle at Money in the Bank when he received one of the biggest reactions upon his entrance to the match. I will be the first to admit that I missed this one. I never expected a character like this to resonate with fans but I am dead wrong. The people absolutely love him. Reigns not only has to worry about Ambrose nipping at his heels, he has to worry about Bray. I predict Bray goes full-fledged babyface by year’s end and goes into the Rumble as one of the top five favorites.

Prince Devitt and Kenta will not live up their potentials - The news is out and it appears that these two international stars are WWE bound. The WWE are scheduled to hold a press conference to announce the signing of Kenta in a few weeks. Does this sound familiar? These guys are both two incredibly talented wrestlers but that was outside of the WWE. I think the track record is pretty clear on how these kind of international stars fare in the WWE. They don’t do well. The only guy to break the mold in recent years was Rey Mysterio and he had a fresh coat of WCW seasoning on him. Maybe they live up to their potentials down the line but I think that these guys have a ton of hard work ahead of them to do so. It won’t happen this year and it may not happen at all which is a damn shame.

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WWE Money in the Bank 2014: The Seven Wrestlers Who Hope to Win WWE Gold

June 18, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Now that we all know the seven participants in the Money in the Bank Ladder match for the WWE World Title, let the handicapping begin.
Everyone has their favorites and why. Include me in that process. But my thoughts may be different from those who put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Here is a look at the seven wrestlers and how they should fare in the Money in the Bank match.

John Cena
He won’t win – it would be too easy and the WWE Universe would hate it. A 15-time champion is nice, but it’s Cena and the fans want a new champion. If it cannot be Daniel Bryan, it should be someone new. The WWE’s mantra need to be “Anybody but Cena.” I see him playing the role of spoiler, making sure Bray Wyatt does not walk away with the title.

Cesaro
He has the potential to be one of the best WWE champions of all time. Cesaro has been involved in other pay-per-view events where he has proven he is title worthy. If he wins the title (and here is where it can play to the advantage of the WWE), this could be the opening for Brock Lesnar to return to face Cesaro and his former advocate. SummerSlam would be huge and ratings would jump through the roof. Lesnar as a face certainly saves the WWE.

Roman Reigns
Now that Reigns got himself into the Battle Royal on Monday night and won the match by sweet talking Vickie Guerrero into giving him a slot, it means two things. First, this is probably the last time we see Guerrero on television. Second, Reigns wins the title and challenges the Authority, setting up a war with Seth Rollins, thus leaving Dean Ambrose in the cold. Reigns was screwed at the Royal Rumble by Batista. The WWE should not make the same mistake twice. Put the strap on the big man.

Sheamus
This works if Sheamus turns heel. The Big White is more aggressive lately. I think the WWE has done us a great justice by having him face Cesaro on a weekly basis because the two work very well together. But something tells me in the end, what is best for business is for Sheamus to turn heel and either join Paul Heyman or become a tag team partner with Wade Barrett. That would be some bad news for the WWE roster.

Randy Orton
The Viper was “given” a spot in the MITB match because of his dedication and loyalty to The Authority. Randy Orton is a contender, but he will not win the title. It would be too easy to put the briefcase back in his hand, which would lead to another Orton/Cena or Orton/Bryan feud. The ratings would be good, but in the end, people want to see more matches, new blood and a different feud from this pay=per-view.

Bray Wyatt
Wyatt is the one who makes most sense other than Reigns. Wyatt’s charisma and the high he is on right now is something the WWE needs to take and continue. I can see John Cena and Wyatt trying to eliminate each other in this contest, but Wyatt has real potential to be a WWE champion. If the masses flock to him in Kevin Sullivan-like fashion, not only should he have the whole world in his hands, he should have the World Title for a long run.

Alberto Del Rio
The wild card in all of this madness. I was not sure why he was included in this group, but he makes perfect sense, mainly because the numbers are thin for real superstar talent. I don’t think he stands a chance in hell, but stranger things have happened. My fear is Del Rio Wins and there is a feud between Bryan and the Mexican Aristocrat. That is bad news for the WWE and ratings.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Top 25 Best WWE B-Show PPV Events In History

June 12, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

When you look past WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and even King of the Ring, what have been the best PPV events in WWE history? I pored through the last two decades of the promotion, and came up with this list of secondary-PPV excellence. All are recommended viewing on WWE Network.

25. Backlash 2009 (April 26, 2009 – Providence, RI)

After a largely-unfulfilling WrestleMania outside of Undertaker and Shawn Michaels’ timeless epic, WWE rebounded with a better show, surrounded by Chris Jericho’s battle with an ageless Ricky Steamboat, a tremendous Last Man Standing match with John Cena and Edge for the World Heavyweight belt, and Christian felling Jack Swagger to become ECW Champion. Tack Taker/Shawn onto this, make it four hours, and boom: a great WrestleMania.

24. No Mercy 1999 (October 17, 1999 – Cleveland, OH)

One of the few PPVs from 1999 that actually holds up years later, No Mercy took place two weeks after Vince Russo jumped to WCW. Perhaps his exodus was the good omen this show needed? Everyone remembers the Hardy Boyz, Edge, and Christian making literal and figurative leaps in their ladder match/coming-out party, but Triple H and Stone Cold held their own in a violent brawl of a main event for the WWE Championship.

23. Unforgiven 2006 (September 17, 2006 – Toronto, ON)

Blowing off a number of feuds in one satisfying event generally makes for a really good show, and three pressing issues were finished here: Trish Stratus retired after winning the Women’s Title from Lita to end their on-again/off-again rivalry, DX won a bloody Hell in a Cell match over The McMahons and The Big Show, and John Cena began a year-long WWE Title reign, toppling Edge in an excellent TLC match. Rare in this day, the conclusions felt definite.

22. In Your House: Beware of Dog (May 26-28, 1996 – Florence/Charleston, SC)

Stretched across two nights because of a powerful storm that knocked out satellite transmission during the PPV (Part II took place before Tuesday’s taping of Superstars), the composite event yields some forgotten classics, including Marc Mero and a still-green Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and Steve Austin and Savio Vega’s brutal Caribbean Strap Match, where Austin began his ascent. It was quite rare for an In Your House to have two great matches.

21. Elimination Chamber 2014 (February 23, 2014 – Minneapolis, MN)

With the notion that Daniel Bryan probably wasn’t winning the WWE Championship here, more focus was on the WWE Network launching twelve hours later than the event itself. The final traditional “pay-per-view” boasts the anticipated Wyatt Family-Shield dream battle (before it was done in by free TV rematches) and a great Chamber match itself, which teased fans with a possible Bryan win before Randy Orton retained in the end.

20. Judgment Day 2005 (May 22, 2005 – Minneapolis, MN)

Twin Cities with another gem. SmackDown in 2005-06 produced a handful of quality PPVs when apparently Vinnie Mac focused solely on Raw (i.e. less micromanagement on the blue brand). The result: John Cena and JBL’s barbaric I Quit match for the WWE Title (surpassing their Mania match four times over), Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio’s throwback to simpler times, and a rare Paul London Cruiserweight title showcase, against Chavo Guerrero.

19. TLC 2012 (December 16, 2012 – Brooklyn, NY)

The brand-new Barclays Center was christened with one of WWE’s more inspired efforts in recent years. The first match everyone thinks of is the in-ring debut of The Shield, as they stole the show with a Match-of-the-Year nominee with Kane, Daniel Bryan, and Ryback under modified TLC rules. Forgotten in its shadow: Dolph Ziggler scoring his only high-profile win, and a damn good one, over John Cena, via a ladder match where AJ Lee would turn heel.

18. Money in the Bank 2013 (July 14, 2013 – Philadelphia, PA)

The ladder matches are pretty much never a bust, and were divided into two concepts for 2013: an “all-stars” match with former World Champions that was won by Randy Orton, and a “rising stars” one in the opener, taken by Damien Sandow. Both matches were great, even if the cash-ins made many fans miserable. Mark Henry’s startling heel turn on John Cena was paid off here with a quality World Title match, though the feud was abruptly cut short.

17. Fully Loaded 2000 (July 23, 2000 – Dallas, TX)

These days, the match results would lead to the armchair bookers to cry over the juiced-in main eventers going over on the new class, but there was more optimism in the Attitude Era. Triple H and Chris Jericho’s Last Man Standing match is hellacious, and Chris Benoit’s World Title battle with The Rock is a close second place. The best visual of the night goes to Rikishi, who pancaked Val Venis with a Superfly Splash off of a steel cage. Yes, really.

16. Backlash 2007 (April 29, 2007 – Atlanta, GA)

Take away the ridiculous handicap match where Vince McMahon became ECW Champion, and it’s top-to-bottom great. Both World Title matches (Undertaker and Batista’s Last Man Standing match, and John Cena retaining in a four way) are both WrestleMania quality. On the undercard, Chris Benoit’s US Title match with MVP, Hardy Boyz’ formula-tag with Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch, and Melina and Mickie James’ Women’s Title match all held their own.

15. No Mercy 2002 (October 20, 2002 – Little Rock, AR)

With creative in freefall thanks to necrophilia, a stunt gay wedding, and a lack of Steve Austin and The Rock, WWE was in a bad place, though the SmackDown half of No Mercy thrived, while Raw withered. Two matches fought for the right to steal the show: a tag team tournament final between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit, and Edge and Rey Mysterio, was perfection, while Undertaker and Brock Lesnar’s Hell in a Cell match artfully pinned the gruesome meter.

14. Payback 2013 (June 16, 2013 – Chicago, IL)

Something about the city of Chicago that brings out the best in WWE; they’ve had a PPV every year there since 2006, save for 2008 (though TNA had Bound For Glory there that year). CM Punk returned after a sabbatical to win match of the night honors against Chris Jericho, while The Shield’s Tag Team title defense against Daniel Bryan and Randy Orton got an honorable mention. The worst match of the show, Dean Ambrose vs. Kane, was actually pretty good.

13. One Night Stand 2005 (June 12, 2005 – New York, NY)

The spirit of ECW soared with the ultimate in reunion shows, hitting on every era in the company’s truncated history. One Night Stand was an all-star spectacle which thrived, in spite of the matches being relatively shortened. Mike Awesome and Masato Tanaka waged their usual war, Chris Jericho and Lance Storm didn’t miss a beat in commemorating their first ever match, and the ECW brigade turning back WWE’s ‘invasion’ was a feel-good moment.

12. No Way Out 2000 (February 27, 2000 – Hartford, CT)

Ended on a major downer with what was thought to be Mick Foley’s retirement, but at least he went out in ultraviolent style via a Hell in a Cell match for Triple H’s WWE Title. The WCW defections enhanced the undercard, with Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle’s Intercontinental Title match, and a Radicalz six-man against Rikishi and Too Cool. That’s not even mentioning the usual quality tag team match pitting Edge and Christian against The Hardy Boyz.

11. No Mercy 2008 (October 5, 2008 – Portland, OR)

Not as well-regarded as many of the events on this list, but maybe that’s just because the IWC consensus had grown more cynical by this time? The main event, Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels in a World Title ladder match to conclude their hate-filled war, is, as such, a ‘lost’ five star match. The World Title match between Triple H and Jeff Hardy is an awesome face-vs-face match-up, and Big Show and Undertaker have their best match together.

10. One Night Stand 2006 (June 11, 2006 – New York, NY)

Gets the slight nod over its predecessor by having a better story element, and some appropriately lengthier matches. The WWE/ECW equivalent of nWo Souled Out, there are two very good World Title matches: Rob Van Dam vs. John Cena, and Rey Mysterio vs. Sabu (which the internet would have gushed buckets for in 1995). The show-stealer: a six-person bloodbath with Edge, Mick Foley, and Lita against Tommy Dreamer, Terry Funk, and Beulah.

9. Extreme Rules 2012 (April 29, 2012 – Chicago, IL)

Hopefully in the past two years, the IWC has forgiven the ending to John Cena and Brock Lesnar’s “is this really the PG era?” car wreck, which displayed a level of intensity and pacing rarely seen in today’s WWE. Daniel Bryan and Sheamus finally got their proper match after the 18-second punch-in-the-sack that WrestleMania was, and it was a great two out of three falls match. Plus, CM Punk got to kick Chris Jericho’s ass in front of his family. Good times.

8. Vengeance 2003 (July 27, 2003 – Denver, CO)

Next to WrestleMania XIX, it’s the only other PPV from a dismal 2003 worth going out of your way to see. Three great matches dot the card: Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero for the US Title, The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rey Mysterio/Billy Kidman for the Tag Team straps, and Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Big Show’s triple threat for the WWE Title. Also notable for John Cena’s true breakthrough match in defeat to locker room measuring stick, The Undertaker.

7. Backlash 2000 (April 30, 2000 – Washington, DC)

One of the earliest examples of the PPV following WrestleMania being way better than WrestleMania itself, Backlash was almost an apology for their grandest event being more bland than grand. Putting the Radicalz in four different matches only stretched the greatness evenly, with Dean Malenko/Scotty 2 Hotty and Chris Benoit/Chris Jericho as standouts. Steve Austin’s return to help Rock win the WWE Title was one of those great markout moments.

6. Backlash 2004 (April 18, 2004 – Edmonton, AB)

Much harder to watch with Nancy and Daniel Benoit at ringside (along with now-aspiring wrestler David Benoit), Chris Benoit wins his WrestleMania rematch over Shawn Michaels and Triple H, nearly matching the quality in the process. The real story of the show was Randy Orton’s gutsy performance against Mick Foley in a hardcore war. The undercard produced some solid matches, namely Chris Jericho’s handicap win over Christian and Trish Stratus.

5. Vengeance 2005 (June 26, 2005 – Las Vegas, NV)

After Judgment Day and One Night Stand (which followed a great WrestleMania 21 and decent Backlash), Vengeance was the apex of an underrated 2005. The event began modestly enough, complete with awful Victoria/Christy Hemme ‘match’, but the last three matches bail it out big: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle II, John Cena defending the WWE Title against Chris Jericho and Christian, and Batista and Triple H’s brutal Hell in a Cell World Title bout.

4. Judgment Day 2000 (May 21, 2000 – Louisville, KY)

With WWE’s spotless roster in the year 2000, and a desire to keep trouncing WCW every whichway, shows like this came to be. Count the classics: The Rock vs. Triple H in a WWE Championship Iron Man match. Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho’s submission match for the Intercontinental Title. Eddie Guerrero vs. Radical-mates Dean Malenko and Perry Saturn for the European Title. Can’t leave out Kurt Angle, Edge, and Christian as ‘The Jug Band’.

3. No Way Out 2001 (February 25, 2001 – Las Vegas, NV)

What can you say about a show that would have been the best PPV of the year in most other years, but is only nipped by the awesomeness of WrestleMania X7? Triple H and Steve Austin’s Three Stages of Hell match is an all-timer, as is Kurt Angle’s World Title loss to The Rock. Chris Jericho’s Intercontinental Title defense against Chris Benoit, X-Pac, and Eddie Guerrero understandably brightens the undercard. Even Stephanie and Trish had a great match!

2. In Your House: Canadian Stampede (July 6, 1997 – Calgary, AB)

At the height of The Hart Foundation’s mutual beef with Steve Austin and The United States, WWE put together it’s best two-hours of wrestling imaginable. The Harts’ ten-man tag with Austin’s American contingent nearly blows the roof off of the Saddledome, and there’s no lull in action. As for the rest of the card, you have Mankind vs. Triple H, Taka Michinoku vs. The Great Sasuke, and The Undertaker’s WWE Title defense vs. Vader, each of them a winner.

1. Money in the Bank 2011 (July 17, 2011 – Chicago, IL)

Barely ekes it out over Stampede, as Money in the Bank was three mostly great hours instead of two. CM Punk winning the WWE Title in one for the ages over John Cena, in front of his neighbors and friends, is an indelible memory. Christian and Randy Orton continued their engrossing World Title feud with a heated rematch. Both ladder matches are tremendous, namely the SmackDown one that Daniel Bryan took the briefcase in.

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Picking The Next WWE World Champion

June 11, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The pro wrestling world is still reeling after seeing Daniel Bryan get stripped of the WWE world championship. Unfortunately the reality is one man’s hardship opens another’s opportunity and someone will become the new WWE world champ at MITB.

We already have a few guys confirmed for the big match and a new report that cites two additional participants in the match. There is a big opportunity but how big is another question. A new report cites that this champion will only be a placeholder until Bryan returns. Yet as we have seen many times in recent months, these plans can change at the drop of a dime.

Let’s take a look at the competitors and pick a new WWE world champion. Unfortunately the pickings are pretty slim unless something drastic changes over the next few weeks. Now that the title is at stake, I wouldn’t be surprised if that happened.

The safe bet is John Cena. I know this won’t be a popular answer but Cena is the most reliable guy this company has had on top in over a decade. Yes he’s gotten hurt but he’s been a gamer and no matter what you say about him, he is still the top guy. The company isn’t necessarily moving forward with the belt on Cena, but he is probably the most logical choice.

What do you do after Bryan comes back? I think there could be big interest in a Cena vs. Bryan SummerSlam rematch. Now last year’s match was a huge disappointment in terms of business but let’s call a spade a spade. The storyline was terrible. The storyline is much better this year and if they tease a Cena heel turn (tease, not actually turn), I think you’d draw up some big interest here.

Bray Wyatt would be the right man for the job if they are looking at moving forward. I do think you could take the belt off of Wyatt quickly and still keep him strong. He is so hot right now that even a brief title run could do good things for him in the long run. I don’t think anyone would have a problem with a Bryan vs. Wyatt program for the title. Theoretically you could take the feud through the fall and maybe even put the belt back on Wyatt by the end of the year.

Antonio Cesaro is a fun choice but he’s not mine. I am too big of a fan to let that happen. Unlike Wyatt, Cesaro isn’t in a position to survive a one-month fluke title reign. If reports are accurate and Bryan will get the belt back quickly, Cesaro needs to sit this one out. When Cesaro gets the belt he needs to have it for a lengthy run. He’s just not there yet to survive a fluke win.

Finally I will throw Sheamus into the mix. There is something here. Sheamus got lucky and won the U.S. title in a situation where he took advantage of a babyface getting screwed. See a pattern here? Maybe Sheamus follows that same pattern here and this all culminates with a big heel turn. I don’t mind seeing Bryan and Sheamus have another go-around as their past series was pretty good. Do not sleep on Sheamus here. Quite frankly I am almost inclined to make him the favorite.

Regardless of who wins, I’ll just be thankful that they will move in a new direction with Bryan and keep him out of that Kane feud…at least I hope so anyway.

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Daniel Bryan WWE Title Situation Gets Interesting

June 04, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The wrestling world was a bit surprised when Stephanie McMahon revealed plans for the WWE world title at Money in the Bank. According to one report, there is more truth in this new angle than fiction and we may be seeing the end of Daniel Bryan as WWE champion.

Stephanie dropped the bomb shell on RAW Monday night. McMahon told the world that Bryan would either have to show up to Money in the Bank with clearance to defend the title against Kane or the belt would be stripped. McMahon went on to say that a new champion would be crowned that night as MITB would be for the vacant title. This wasn’t supposed to be the way the Yes Movement came to an end.

Dave Meltzer had all of the details surrounding this plan on his post-RAW F4WOnline.com podcast. According to Meltzer, this plan was hatched on Monday when word reportedly got back to the company that the prognosis on Bryan’s neck was not good. Meltzer intimated that Bryan may be out later than anticipated. The company felt that the lack of a title match hurt Payback and wasn’t going to allow that for Money in the Bank. The angle as Meltzer says is a shoot in that nobody is sure whether Bryan will be able to wrestle at MITB and this is the WWE’s way of putting pressure on Bryan to come back early.

I don’t know where to begin. Quite honestly I can see the WWE’s point of view. At some point they have to move on, especially if Bryan will be back later than expected. This is a business and in this business it is important to have a wrestling WWE champion. It’s not like they went out of their way to screw him. It’s unfortunate but the show must go on.

On the other hand, I think it is frankly disgusting that they would be pressuring Bryan to come back early from a neck injury. As we have seen in the past, careers can be shortened when that happens. They should just make it easy and strip him of the belt, taking pressure off of him. In addition, they invested a lot of time and money into him. Could his WrestleMania 30 moment be all for nothing? With all of the time and money invested into Bryan, it may make more sense just to let things ride. Plus, while you aren’t getting the championship match at MITB, you are still getting a Money in the Bank match!

So what happens if they go with a Money in the Bank? I suppose you could do a champion vs. champion match at SummerSlam with Bryan wrestling the new champion. But that doesn’t make sense in regards to the storyline. You would think that the Authority would make it difficult for Bryan to get his rematch. Getting his rematch so easily would make all of this look like a waste of time. At the same time, do you really want to screw with his momentum? It’s really a tough choice to make.

The surprise element in all of this is refreshing. Ironically it brings me back to Money in the Bank 2011 when CM Punk defeated John Cena for the WWE championship. The realism surrounding that match, well Punk’s storyline anyway, jumpstarted a hot summer for the company. This situation is even more real than Punk’s and while I hate to see this all come at the expense of a guy coming back too soon, it is going to be fascinating to see how it plays out.

My money is on Bryan coming back at Money in the Bank and that is not a good thing if he is doing so at the risk of his career.

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Daniel Bryan Says He Owes CM Punk His WWE Push

May 28, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Daniel Bryan continues to be one of the most honest interviews you’ll get from a top WWE superstar. Bryan recently appeared on Chris Jericho’s podcast and what he said about his current push reveals a lot about how committed the WWE may be to the champ.

The WWE world champion was a guest on Chris Jericho’s Podcast One show recently. The two-part interview is fantastic and Bryan pulls back the curtain more than you’d expect from someone in his position. Yet it was their conversation regarding his current push that is drawing headlines.

According to Bryan his push to the WrestleMania main-event and the WWE world championship had more to do with CM Punk than it did with the Yes Movement. Bryan told his former partner and foe that if it wasn’t for Punk leaving, we probably would be seeing a different guy with the WWE world title

“It wasn’t necessarily that I felt a shift. It was essentially after Punk quit. It was like, ‘Well, we’ve got John and we’ve got eeeeeeeh.’”

Talk about truth in jest. What many people don’t know is that Bryan was originally penciled in to wrestle Sheamus at WrestleMania 30. The match would have been low-mid card and served to get Sheamus over as a new heel. Keep in mind that this was still in the midst of the Yes Movement and after the Royal Rumble (although Punk did quit the day after).

This confirms what many of us believed from the start. The WWE are not nearly as committed to pushing Bryan as they appear to be. I have said this plenty of times in this blog and I’ll say it again. He was not their choice. While he should have been their choice, they were ready to ignore him in spite of all of his momentum. One thing I think a look at WWE history will reveal is that they don’t push guys that aren’t necessarily “theirs” the same way they would a guy they groomed.

Bryan also talked about the booking in 2013. Bryan confirmed what many refused to believe at the time. Bryan was not necessarily receiving a push. Many Bryan supporters would become enraged at the booking of Bryan during this time. Bryan told Jericho that he was never meant to be the guy. Bryan revealed that the angles were meant to get Randy Orton over and not Daniel Bryan.

The only reason I bring up all of this is that I think the jury is still out on Bryan. His injury withstanding, I am not convinced he is going to have this long title reign that many pundits and fans feel he will receive. Again I am not saying he doesn’t deserve it. I am just saying that he was never their guy, thus I don’t expect anything substantial to come out of this.

I also think this goes back to the argument whether Daniel Bryan is a draw or not. Vince McMahon is not a stupid man. If he felt that the business was shifting along with the Yes Movement, Bryan would have been picked to be their guy. But the fact remains that there have not been any significant increases in business reported since Bryan won the belt. An impact on business would immediately shut down this argument and solidify Bryan’s spot. Unfortunately he doesn’t have that security.

On a side note Jericho brought up a great observation he had about Bryan early on. Jericho said that he was confident that Bryan would get over at some point the second he was signed by the WWE. Jericho said that to him, if a guy can get over elsewhere, he can get over anywhere. It makes sense but that isn’t always the case. I think at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what you did elsewhere if the booking team doesn’t have the confidence in you. Yet if you look back he is right in that most of the guys like Punk, Rollins, and Bryan who got over elsewhere eventually got over in the WWE. The same can’t be said about guys like Low Ki, Monty Brown, and the original Sin Cara to name a few.

The positive to all of this is that for Daniel Bryan fans, you are getting more than you should. If CM Punk never left, your Daniel Bryan WrestleMania 30 moment would have been Bryan putting over Sheamus. Instead you got one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history and a guy on top you probably wouldn’t see in most other eras.

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Roman Reigns Is The Man For Daniel Bryan’s WWE Title

May 19, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Internet is a buzz about what the WWE will do with the world championship. Daniel Bryan is out for an indefinite amount of time and the WWE has a big choice to make. Could this be the moment to finally pull the trigger and start the Roman Reigns era?

Don’t misunderstand me. I am a Daniel Bryan fan. I love his ring work and the Yes shtick has turned out to be pretty damned entertaining. Yet I still get the feeling that while he has the title, Vince and Trips are doing it with a wink and a nod. They are playing the hand that was dealt and these are two guys that like to be the ones dealing the cards.

The severity of the neck injury to Daniel Bryan remains unknown. Some have speculated he will be back in as little as three weeks while others say he could be out until the end of July. The worst case scenario would keep the championship dormant for too long. I don’t even think the company would wait on John Cena if he were out for several weeks as champion. That is why this unfortunate series of events may be turn into an unlikely opportunity, something that generally happens when top guys get injured in professional wrestling.

So who does the company go to in this circumstance? Randy Orton and John Cena are been there, done that. Batista is leaving. Triple H is an interesting choice but not the right time. Brock Lesnar isn’t around enough to support the move. Cesaro isn’t ready yet and let’s not even joke about Kane. So who do you turn to? You go to the big dog, Roman Reigns.

We all know the inevitable here with Reigns. Reigns is destined for greatness. Reigns has been earmarked by the company to be a top star of the future. Some have called him the next John Cena. I know plenty of you are saying it is way too early, I disagree. This feud with Evolution is the right feud at the right time and Reigns may not be as seasoned as some hoped, but he is certainly capable of the job.

One criticism I can see coming now is that the fans would resent the immediate push. I disagree. Reigns is an explosive wrestler. The fans love that about him. What better way for the best explosive WWE star in the company to ascend to the top than by exploding right into the championship? There are plenty of scenarios where this could work and quite frankly I can’t think of a better way to get him to that level than by going all in on Reigns.

So what happens to Daniel Bryan if they decide to go all-in on the big dog? I hate to say it but injuries are an unfortunate part of this business. It can stop momentum dead in its tracks. I think (and this is unpopular) that Daniel Bryan is more of a “now” whereas Reigns is more the “future”. Reigns is a guy that can transition to the top level, remain on top, draw a fanbase, and deliver in a top spot. Bryan is the flavor of the month but he hasn’t moved any numbers and while he is worlds better than anyone in the ring, I just don’t think he has the same intangibles that Reigns has to become a top superstar.

I don’t know how you get there. Do you pull off a tournament? Do you match up a mystery guy against Kane at Payback for the championship? Do you have a Battle Royal? Does the Authority just make a random match? I’d like to see some kind of scenario similar to the Ultimate Warrior winning the intercontinental championship where Reigns just hits the ring, explodes, and walks away with the title. That is the only way this works.

Who knows what will happen? Nothing has been decided and for all we know the company will hold tight with Bryan. If not, there is a guy chomping at the bit and ready to take the next step and his name is Roman Reigns.

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