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WWE Live Events Aren’t Your Father’s House Shows

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

I recently attended a WWE house show in Philadelphia for the first-time in about 20 years. Rather than run down the same report you have seen elsewhere, I thought it may be more interesting to blog about the evolution I witnessed of the WWE house show.

I attended my first WWE house show on March 19, 1983. I attended dozens of WWE house shows from 83 until probably 1998 and to say that they were a mixed bag would be an understatement. Generally house shows evolved into this depressing event featuring guys going at half-speed (if you were lucky), a mundane crowd, and just a sad statement into what WWE live events descended to. Those days are over!

My nieces are big WWE fans so I decided to bite the bullet and take them to the recent July 10 Philadelphia WWE event. Needless to say I was expecting the same dull, half-assed event I saw through the mid 1990s. I couldn’t be more wrong and while I never thought I’d say this, I can’t recommend a WWE house show enough to casual or even hardcore fans.

Rather than break down the card, here are several key takeaways that have stuck with me from the event.

Everyone had their working shoes on – I don’t think I have ever seen a WWE house show, even going back to the early 1980s when the company was red hot during the Hulkamania era where everybody on the show worked as hard and maybe even harder than they would at TV. The talent seemed to relish working an environment with less restrictions and more time. John Cena and Kevin Owens put on a match similar to their classic PPV series and Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins did things during their match I would have never expected from two top guys. I am only showcasing these two but everyone from Roman Reigns to Bray Wyatt to Neville worked real hard and it was appreciated. Not only that, the talent all looked like they were (gulp)…having fun!

There is a huge difference between house show crowds and television crowds – I would venture to say that the majority of the crowd were kids and families, most wearing John Cena t-shirts. It was also very enlightening in regards to recent ratings woes. The WWE fans want John Cena in the main-events, they love him. Sure you had plenty of guys with big mouths ripping on Cena but he was far and away the most over star on the show. If you think the fans are going to accept a transition from Cena to someone else you are mistaken. He is still drawing the houses and I can’t even imagine what the crowd would have looked like without him.

There is a bit of a disconnect between the talent and security – There is a woman who appeared to run the security for the WWE. I was fortunate to sit ringside and got a glimpse of this odd situation first-hand. The woman explicitly told Wells Fargo Center security to make sure that fans stay seated during the matches. Even the local security seemed confused. So fans would get excited during the first couple of matches, get up, and start yelling and were told begrudgingly to sit down. I started to see problems early in the card when Chris Jericho kept telling the fans to stand up, yet security was telling them to sit down. This continued throughout the card and I kind of felt for the talent who saw a lot of excited fans in the audience, yet none were standing when prompted during the matches. It may be nitpicky but it just seemed kind of odd. Let the people have fun and let the talent get some heat, it’s a house show for goodness sakes.

WWE stars are the best in the business – Now I am not talking about WWE stars being the best at this or that, but what I saw were the most polished professional wrestlers I have ever seen from top to bottom all night long. Again sitting ringside, I was up close enough to watch facial expressions and see subtle nuances coming from the talent throughout the night. Every piece of talent had the entire package and it was crystal clear why many don’t make it to the big show.

Neville is going to be a star – This kid has “it”, just like everyone else for that matter. I am highlighting him since he was the new kid on the block so to speak on the card. He has the look, the psychology, and may be the best athlete next to Brock Lesnar on the roster. I don’t know if he has the potential to be “the guy” but he has a lot of potential to be a big time player for years to come. Everything he did looked so fluid and the fans absolutely loved him.

Dean Ambrose gets it – Ambrose did something following his match to close out the night that I have never seen before. Again keep in mind that I don’t regularly attend house shows so maybe this isn’t big news. Ambrose walked around ringside and took selfies with anyone that had their phone ready. How cool was that experience for a kid attending a WWE house show? Giving fans something a little extra like that goes a long way and says a lot about the character of the talent in the company these days. 19 years ago the guys were just hoping to put their 10 minutes in and get to the bar. Ambrose was actually yelled at by the WWE security guard to wrap it up because not only would he stop, he’d wait until fans got their phones ready. A class act!

House shows are truly live “events” – Finally what impressed me more than just about anything else was how much of an event that the WWE gives to the house show experience. The WWE played promos hyping a lot of the big matches throughout the night and most talent got big entrances. I saw nothing like this as a kid, even when Hulk Hogan came to town at his peak. It gave the event something extra and left most fans ready to pay for a ticket the next time the WWE comes to town whether it is a house show or a SmackDown taping.

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15 Best WWE Matches of the First Half (Jan 1- July 1) of 2015

July 07, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

At the midway point of 2015, WWE is struggling creatively, but has produced a number of excellent matches, a handful of which vie for honors as 2015’s true match of the year. Here are the fifteen best from both the main roster, as well as the popular NXT developmental center.

15. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE United States, Monday Night Raw, March 30)

Inception of the enjoyable US Open Challenge stuck the landing straight out of the chute, showcasing a side of Ambrose often lost when he’s typecast as comically-unkempt street urchin. Cena and Ambrose set high expectations for a formula that would give aimless performers something to do, and opened the door for some NXT performers to make their big debuts.

14. Bad News Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. R-Truth vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE Intercontinental/Ladder Match, WrestleMania 31, March 29)

While the prior match served as the creation of a new playbook, this seven-man scramble was in many ways a rehash of the perfected parade of chaos that multi-competitor ladder matches have been for WWE for over a decade. Bryan’s win is now a bittersweet one with his litany of devastating injuries, but as a match, it set the pace for a great WrestleMania.

13. John Cena vs. Neville (WWE United States, Monday Night Raw, May 11)

The US Open Challenge comes with the black cloud of predictability – you know Cena’s somehow going to escape with the title. This time, Neville did win, albeit by disqualification, after Rusev attacked him following his landing of the lights-out Red Arrow. Neville hardly had to slow his roll for Cena, who’s proven with the challenge his compatibility with any worker.

12. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch (NXT Women’s, TakeOver: Rival, February 11)

Banks’ coming-out party was really at R-Evolution in December, when she held her own with a rapidly-improving Charlotte. Despite playing a materialistic minx of a villain, she, next to the amiable Bayley, were the crowd favorites to win the four-way. Banks pinning Charlotte to capture the title demonstrates a hefty show of faith in her own in-ring improvements.

11. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton (WWE World Heavyweight, Payback, May 17)

This one followed the pattern of most WWE fatal four ways, two guys get bumped while the others duke it out until someone breaks a pin, but it hardly felt as such. A dramatic final stretch coupled with some moments of invention earlier on put it above standard fare. The Shield triple-powerbomb, with subsequent scorning of Rollins, is a true calendar highlight.

10. Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31, March 29)

One of the main reasons that WrestleMania was so acclaimed stems from the one-two punch that kicked off the show. Following the chaotic ladder match, Orton and Rollins cut a frenetic pace, not even thrown off the rails by the excessive interference of J&J Security – in fact, they enhanced the match. The ending “RKO Outta Nowhere” rates as the move’s pinnacle.

9. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (Non-Title, Monday Night Raw, May 4)

It was one of Cena’s US Open Challenges minus Cena – just send two high-class performers out there and have them put on a helluva bout. Ambrose earned entry into the Payback main event by pinning Rollins here, and the Montreal crowd was hanging on every one of his comeback strikes. Will WWE ever realize that Ambrose is the babyface they direly need?

8. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (NXT Women’s, TakeOver: Unstoppable, May 20)

The recurring trend of NXT quarterly specials: “That may have been the best women’s match in company history!” A year ago, that was Charlotte and Natalya earning that rave, while today, this is the ladies’ outing to beat. A story of determination and grit centered around submission attempts supersedes the putrid main roster schizophrenic booking of the “Divas”.

7. Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville (No. 1 Contender’s, TakeOver: Rival, February 11)

They were given thirteen minutes, so barring one performer tanking it like a lottery-minded NBA team, you knew this would rule. Besides, Balor is incapable of mediocrity when caked in intimidating war paint. The match was a blend of what they do best with ‘corrective’ WWE style, concluding with a Balor Coup de Grace, match of the night on *most* shows.

6. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (WWE World Heavyweight/Ladder Match, Money in the Bank, June 14)

A divisive pick due to the Heaven’s Gate-length of the match (36 minutes!) and the dragged out ending with angsty Ambrose watching a dazed Rollins celebrate for an eternity. Aside from that, it was a tremendously told story of hatred and heart, two wrestlers with something to prove outside of the tiresome “build my legacy” WrestleMania-time narratives.

5. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (NXT Heavyweight, TakeOver: Rival, February 11)

The ending of a classic match should come to define the combatants. This one further galvanized Zayn as the never-quit hero (far more subtly than superhero Cena) while casting Owens as the opportunistic prick that would sooner beat his old friend into a coma than leave the arena without championship gold. There’s simply no villain like Owens in the business today.

4. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens (Money in the Bank, June 14)

Far-too-immediate sequel to a landmark match just about equaled the original’s unpredictable charm, though this ending was much more expected. Cena and Owens once more cut a hellish pace en route to the Cena victory, following the third of three AA’s. Owens’ post-match attack, with obnoxious heckler’s laugh, capped off another masterpiece.

3. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight, Royal Rumble, January 25)

The saving grace of an uninspired, maddening night in Philadelphia was this triple threat pitting three pros of differing characteristics. All three got their shine, with Lesnar as unkillable monster, and Cena as the valiant brawler, though it was Rollins that shone brightest in defeat. With his performance, his main event ticket was indelibly punched.

2. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens (Elimination Chamber, May 31)

The finish damn near broke social media, which is a testament to the positives of Cena’s inability to lose cleanly: when he *is* defeated, it means the world. Cena and Owens cobbled together an evolutionary version of Sting vs. Vader and turned the new monster into a made man with a concrete victory. The rematch should have been further down the line.

1. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (WWE World Heavyweight, WrestleMania 31, March 29)

To say this was a surprise classic is something of an understatement. Lesnar’s matches defy the paint-by-numbers main event style, and what followed was a thumping beatdown of a resilient Reigns, who dramatically turned the tide when Lesnar began gushing blood. The final five minutes, including Rollins’ cash-in, are deservedly etched in ‘Mania lore.

WWE Fury: 38 DDTs That Will Drill You Into The Canvas

June 23, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The DDT is one of the most exciting moves in the WWE. The move comes out of nowhere and has finished many matches. The WWE has paid tribute to this exciting move with a really cool video featuring 38 DDTs.

The latest WWE Fury video, 8 DDTs that will drill you into the canvas is 1:09 of some of the most exciting DDTs in WWE history. The history of WWE includes WCW so you get DDTs spanning all the way back to the mid-late 1980s. Of course there is plenty of Jake “the Snake” Roberts but you also have some real cool DDT moments from the Undertaker, Dean Ambrose, Arn Anderson, The Rock, Triple H, Dolph Ziggler, and more.

Check out the video and relive some of the most exciting DDTs in WWE history.

Putting The WWE Title on Dean Ambrose Is The Wrong Thing to Do

June 13, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE and its fans will again get a chance to see another hardcore title match on Sunday night when Dean Ambrose takes Seth Rollins’ WWE World Title into Money in the Bank and attempts to keep the strap in a ladder match.

The Lunatic Fringe is about the closest thing to controlled instability the company has had in some time – maybe as far back as Mindkind.

There hasn’t been a performer in the WWE who has had as much momentum as Ambrose since the company decided to fire up the rivalry between the former Shield members again. This was an obvious attempt to excite the fans until Brock Lesnar returns from his “indefinite suspension” following WrestleMania.

Personally, I would rather see Ambrose chase Rollins all over the country, seeking the belt and waging war with his former BFF. It is also my opinion that if the company decides to give the title to Ambrose outright, it had better have a plan that keeps Ambrose in character without sacrificing his popularity, which has reached its zenith so far. Taking any momentum away from Ambrose and from the angle he and Rollins are working right now could be more damaging in the long run.

In this case, the idea I presented to you earlier in the week about Ambrose winning the title match, then dropping the WWE World Title to Roman Reigns – should he win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match – would truly be best for business.

This may sound odd, but not every WWE superstar is meant to wear gold. It does not mean they are not worthy. It just means the character they portray is not conducive to playing the role of leader of the band. They are much more important to the business as a challenger rather than the lead dog.

Over the years, this has been a common theme among wrestling promotions. The top “face” would challenge Ric Flair or Dory Funk, Jr or even Harley Race when they were the top draw in the NWA. They would try as hard as they could, only to come up short.

Barry Windham chased Flair before he joined the Four Horsemen. David Von Erich chased Race early in his career and then set his sights on Flair before he passed away. The Funks would challenge the top contender in Tennessee or Missouri or even Florida before walking away with the title in tow.

The point is, Ambrose like stars of the past, do not have to wear the top belt in the promotion to be a true champion. And in this case, giving such a distinction to Ambrose might hurt – in fact it would hurt -his status.

It was explained to me years ago that the wrestler who chases the belt is often viewed on a higher level than the one holding the title. It is much harder to keep the belt than it is to attain it, but once a wrestler has the belt (after working to grab it), part of the momentum is lost.

John Cena’s act has been the same for over a decade, but he is at his best when he chasing rather than being chased. The same could be said for Randy Savage years ago and Sting and to some degree, Hulk Hogan. Fans are more supportive of the chase. They want the wrestler to gain glory and once the glory happens, they tend to back off a bit with their support. Ambrose cannot afford this kind of setback. He is white-hot right now.

Should the WWE give Ambrose a chance to keep the World Title for real as the company champion, let’s all pray it is short lived. Ambrose is the best thing going right now and to slow him down only hurts him. It also shows the company and its team of writers have no idea what they want to do next as we all march toward SummerSlam. Hopefully MITB will satisfy our guilty pleasure of seeing Rollins and Ambrose beat the hell out of each other. In this case, we should all hope our hero loses in the end. Winning only means he will slide down a rung or two on the WWE ladder – which in this case hurts him more than helps him.

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WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 Predictions and Preview

May 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE will be presenting its first Network-only special event from the main-roster on Sunday night. The Elimination Chamber returns with two chamber matches in addition to a rivalry renewed and the main-roster debut of the NXT star of the future. Let’s break down the card and take a look at the top matches on Sunday’s event.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE world championship

Count me in as a fan that will never sick of seeing these guys wrestle, even when the go-home angle features Ambrose in a goofy police getup. I was excited when it became clear that the WWE was bringing this rivalry back. I can’t think of many better rivalries in 2014 that the WWE had. Adding the component of the WWE world championship could only make this one better…or so I thought.

I blogged extensively this week about the problems I am having with Seth Rollins as WWE world champion. Unfortunately Rollins’ cowardice is hurting this second chapter in the rivalry for me. I preferred to see these guys both want to tear each other up limb from limb but at least we are guaranteed a killer match on Sunday. I also think that a golden opportunity was blown here by not putting Ambrose over for the quick reign at Payback.

I don’t think there is a person reading this blog that believes that Ambrose is going to win on Sunday. That said, I think that Ambrose should absolutely win on Sunday. Ambrose has something special and it was never more evident than when he was featured last year during Roman Reigns’ absence as a top babyface. Ambrose has something and unfortunately for him, the company refuses to embrace and run with it.

This renewed friendship between Reigns and Ambrose seems rather suspect to me. If not for the fact that the company still has big plans for Reigns as a babyface, the friendship seems set up for Reigns to turn on Ambrose. This match would be the perfect set up for it. It will probably wind up with Ambrose turning on Reigns and I could see the finish on Sunday playing a big part of it. I think Rollins retains the title due to some kind of interference from Reigns that backfires on Ambrose. The company needs to give Reigns something to do while Rollins gets ready to wrestle Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. A feud with Dean Ambrose is probably the way this thing plays out which takes us to Reigns vs. Rollins in the fall.

John Cena vs. Kevin Owens

I can’t recall a time where there was a match this close to predict. By watching RAW the last two weeks one would have to presume that Cena is beating Owens here. Owens has laid him out twice and Cena put him over big on promos. Yet Owens is red hot right now as NXT champion and all reports from behind the scenes are that management is very high on him. Do you have Cena get laid out two weeks in a row and lose…to a guy from the minor league nonetheless? Or do you have your star of the future get beat in his first big match on the main roster? There is no clear cut right or wrong answer here.

I am sure this will be a real good match. The goal here has to be to make Owens shine as he is a star of the future for the company. One thing you could do here is tell a story where Owens has Cena’s number throughout the match and Cena wins with a veteran move, telling the story that it was Cena’s savvy from being a top WWE performer for the last several years that gave him the edge. Leave the rivalry open and when and if the time comes when Owens comes up to the main roster for good, they pick right back up again with Owens winning the next phase of the feud. That said, when is the last time anyone on the upswing ever got the better of Cena in a feud? CM Punk would probably be the only guy I can think of and there have been a lot of them.

I think Cena does go over here and Owens has a strong showing. They could really do something special here and have Samoa Joe interfere, building heat on the Owens-Joe rivalry while introducing Joe to the main roster. That would work for everyone but at the end of the day I don’t see that much time being invested into a guy with a part-time NXT deal. I predict Cena goes over and social media goes wild once again with anti-Cena venom.

Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler – WWE Elimination Chamber Match for the Intercontinental title

This is a real tough match to predict. First of all let me say that I think this match rests on the shoulders of Dolph Ziggler. If Ziggler fights until the end I think we see a real fun match here. If Ziggler is an early exit, I think this match struggles a bit. No pressure at all Dolph.

So who walks away with the intercontinental title? I think you have to go with Rusev here. Rusev is coming off of three straight losses to Cena in addition to losing Lana. The company invested a lot of time into him over the course of 2014. That investment is all for nothing if the feud with Cena turns into a downward spiral. I don’t think it makes sense for the belt to go on anyone but Rusev. Which means that it will probably be Sheamus who wins. I’ll stick with my Rusev prediction, possibly coming down to a battle of the big men with Sheamus to decide the title and the match.

Note: Rusev suffered an injury this week and is questionable for Sunday’s event. If he can’t go I’ll go with Sheamus for the win and the title.

Full WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 card and matches…
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Elimination Chamber match for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) vs. The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) (with El Torito) in a Tag team Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) (c) vs. Paige vs. Naomi (with Tamina) in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Divas Championship
Neville vs. Bo Dallas

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WWE Payback 2015 Results: Rollins Retains, Rusev Quits

May 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins WWE Payback 2015WWE Payback was a one-match show. Fortunately for the WWE that one match was one of the best in awhile. The show will be remembered for a thrilling main-event which featured a brief reunion of the Shield. Unfortunately the rest of the show was an event that should and will be forgotten.

There isn’t a whole lot that I could say about the main-event other than that it was about as fun a match as you will see on a WWE special event. The Fatal 4-Way was a roller coaster ride of thrills and excitement that ended with a predictable winner, capping off a highly predictable night.

Seth Rollins pinned Randy Orton to retain the WWE world title in a Fatal 4-Way match. This match was just non-stop action from the second the bell rang. This was far and away one of the most exciting WWE main-events I have seen in a long time. Reigns and Ambrose double-teamed Rollins at one point which got a big reaction from the crowd. Reigns set up for the Superman Punch but was pulled out of the ring by Kane. Kane also beat down Ambrose and threw him back in the ring. J&J and Kane also triple teamed Orton. Rollins and Ambrose in together quite a bit early on with Seth on the attack. Kane came into the ring and choke slammed Ambrose as soon as Ambrose started to get the advantage. Reigns and Ambrose teamed up several times throughout the match, including Reigns saving Ambrose from Orton. At one point Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose teamed up on Orton and nailed a triple power bomb reuniting the Shield. Ambrose and Reigns immediately turned on Rollins. Ambrose and Reigns power bombed Kane onto Rollins on a table at ringside…twice going through the table the second time around. Ambrose and Reigns finally went at it with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch for a two-count. The crowd really loved the play between Ambrose and Reigns. Rollins broke up a cover by Reigns after Reigns hit a spear on Ambrose. Orton hit RKOs on J&J Security, then dropped Rollins with a DDT. Orton hit an RKO on Kane. Rollins caught Orton on the rebound with a Pedigree for the pin. Hunter came out after the match to congratulate Rollins as the show went off of the air.

This was a great match but I think that a big opportunity was missed here. With the Elimination Chamber being a mere two weeks away, I thought the WWE could have used that timeline to hotshot Dean Ambrose into a top babyface role. With Daniel Bryan out, a spot is open and Ambrose is the perfect guy for that role. I think that the WWE could have given Ambrose an upset win, a quick two-week title reign, and the credibility he would need in that new spot. The company decided to play it safe instead keeping the belt on Rollins and missing yet another opportunity to elevate a new star.

John Cena defeated Rusev in one of the tamest I-Quit matches I think I have ever seen. If you expected violence like I did when this match was announced, well then you were mistaken. Rusev dominated the first half of the match with Cena dominating the second half of what was close to a 30-minute match. This was a weird finish as Rusev had Cena passed out in the Accolade. When Cena couldn’t answer the ref, Rusev released the hold assuming he won. The referee told Rusev that Cena had to say “I Quit” to lose. So Rusev tried to wake Cena up and charged him with ropes in his hands, Cena ducked, hit a drop-toe hold, and got the STF. Cena wrapped the ropes around Rusev’s eyes and Rusev started saying something in “Bulgarian” to the ref. Lana told the referee that Rusev quit, essentially quitting for him to give Cena the win.

The finish was about as predictable as you can get. Most expected Lana to quit for Rusev. My problem with this is that Rusev was in nothing career threatening here. To quit from an STF with ropes barely wrapped around his eyes made very little sense. This wasn’t a situation like Magnum-Tully where Magnum was about to take Tully’s eye out with the wood. It was just a big disappointment to me and the majority of folks I heard from on Twitter. Rusev threw Lana out of the dressing room in a segment following the match.

Where does this go from here? Well the Cena vs. Rusev feud is over. Rusev and Lana are heading for a split with Lana expected to get a major push as a babyface. Rusev is in trouble here as he has now three matches in a row to Cena and will continue without Lana. I just don’t understand why the WWE kept Rusev hot for a year only to have him lose three in a row to Cena. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

The biggest shocker at Payback was the announcement of the return of the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast. There have been numerous rumors about heat between the WWE and Austin ever since Chris Jericho started doing podcasts on the network. This will certainly put those rumors to rest. Austin will be returning on June 1 for a live podcast with Paul Heyman. Austin had Heyman on his podcast last year and it was fantastic. Unfortunately it seemed like they covered everything and I am not sure what there is left to talk about. Regardless, it will be great to see Austin back on the Network. In my opinion, Austin asks more provocative questions than Chris Jericho. It should also be noted that the Springboard Stunner disappeared from Cena’s repertoire at Payback.

Full WWE Payback 2015 results and winners…
Seth Rollins defeated Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena defeated Rusev (with Lana) in an “I Quit” match to retain the the WWE United States Championship
Neville defeated King Barrett via Count Out
Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (c) (with Xavier Woods) defeated Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) in a 2-out-of-3 falls tag team match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship
Bray Wyatt defeated Ryback
Naomi and Tamina defeated The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella)
The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) defeated The Mega Powers (Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow)
R-Truth defeated Stardust

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WWE Payback 2015 Predictions and Preview

May 15, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Payback is right around the corner and quite honestly there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. The event is essentially a two-match show yet history confirms that events which typically have low expectations going in are generally the ones that surprise you.

It almost seems as if the whole idea for Payback may be unnecessary at this point in time. The main-event while intriguing on paper, would have greatly benefitted from a few more weeks of scripting. The addition of the Elimination Chamber event makes this event fairly non-essential. So what is there to get excited about?

I try to focus on the main matches when writing previews for special events. Generally those preview blogs consist of 4-5 matches. Unfortunately I struggled to find more than two matches to focus on at Payback. The tradeoff of putting four upper mid-card-upper card stars in the main-event is a diluted under card. Needless to say the headliners have a lot of pressure on their shoulders to blow this show out of the water.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns in a Fatal Four-Way for the WWE world championship

Here we go again. Another WWE championship situation where the fate of Seth Rollins rests in Kane’s hands. I feel like I have just seen this act? Oh wait, I did! This time the odds are stacked against the world champion even more than at Extreme Rules. Rollins is outnumbered as he faces Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton in a Fatal Four-Way match for the WWE championship.

As predictable as this match is I think it will be highly entertaining. Rarely is there a dull moment in these kinds of multiple person matches. All of these guys have had great chemistry together in the past which leads me to think that this match should be no exception. The finish can go a couple of different ways yet I think it is safe to say that somehow or another Kane is involved.

As predictable as this is I do think there is a slight chance of a title change here. The quick turnaround in a few weeks at Elimination Chamber lends itself to a surprise title change. Putting Elimination Chamber on the calendar is a way to take advantage of the free WWE Network subscribers. It would not shock me at all to see a quickie title change here with the belt going back to Rollins at the end of the month. Quite honestly I am almost ready to bet that is the way they go here. But what do you do? You don’t want Reigns’ first title reign to be a fluke yet he’s the most obvious guy. I think Dean Ambrose actually walks away with the title on Sunday night only to flip it back to Rollins at the big Chamber event.

John Cena vs. Rusev in an I-Quit match for the U.S. title

I think it is fair to say that this will likely be the last match in this feud. While I am never a fan of four matches in a row, I really enjoyed this feud so I have little problem with a fourth match here. This is the match that I thought we were going to get at Extreme Rules. I have no reason to think that this will be anything less than an exciting match. I have already blogged at great length about what I think should happen so let’s talk about what I think will happen.

Lana is the key here. All signs point to Lana turning on Rusev and this would be the place to do it. The idea here is to make Lana a babyface so I think Lana winds up throwing in the towel for Rusev. I think Lana throws in a towel or waves a flag against Rusev’s wishes. Rusev is angry after the match, yells at Lana, and is met with a slap to the face either then or the following night on RAW. I can’t see Cena saying “I-Quit” but maybe, just maybe this Lana/Rusev story is a swerve. I don’t think so but again with another big show in a week, anything can happen.

Full WWE Payback 2015 card and matches…
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship; If Rollins fails to retain the Championship, Kane will be fired from being Director of Operations
John Cena vs. Rusev (with Lana) in an “I Quit” match for the WWE United States Championship
King Barrett vs. Neville
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (c) (with Xavier Woods) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya)     2-out-of-3 falls tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt
Naomi and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella)
The Meta Powers (Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)

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Who will be the next WWE Intercontinental Champion?

May 15, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

With the tragic news that Daniel Bryan will have to surrender a championship for the second time in the space of the year, it opens up new opportunities for other stars to have a run with the prestigious championship. After the announcement that the title would be up for grabs inside the returning Elimination Chamber, now seems as good of a time as any to take a look at the contenders and see what holding the title would do for them.

Neville

For me, Neville is the obvious choice for the next champion. The Geordie has made a stellar start to his main roster career, with great wins over the likes of Sheamus and Bad News Barrett, and some even better performances against John Cena, Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins. His impact is arguably the biggest of any NXT superstar who has made the jump to Raw and SmackDown, and winning the IC Title inside the Chamber would cap off what has been an exceptional few months for Neville.

Sheamus

Since his return the night after WrestleMania, Sheamus has looked absolutely merciless, and he has recaptured the aggression that made him a great heel throughout 2010 and early 2011. His new look may be questionable, to say the least, but his new attitude is a breath of fresh air in a product that is currently lacking in its number of good heel characters. A win inside the Chamber for the big Irishman could lead to a potentially exciting rivalry with Neville, as well as putting an end to his current feud with Ziggler.

Dolph Ziggler

Speaking of the Zig-Man, his 2015 has been a real mixed bag. The closing months of 2014 were a huge success for Ziggler, with him putting in some of the best performances of his career to date. However, WWE has failed to follow up on the momentum that saw him named Rolling Stone’s WWE Wrestler of the Year, and he has found himself shuffled back into the mid-card where he has been for so long now. Personally, I don’t think giving Dolph the title back will really do anything for him. He had three reigns as champion in 2014, and it’s about time that he was moved up the card, not necessarily to the main event, but perhaps a more meaningful rivalry that will really allow him to shine.

Bad News Barrett

The same can be said for BNB. Coming off of probably the most lackluster IC Title run of his five reigns, he managed to win the King of the Ring tournament, and in the process becoming the second Englishman to do so. That win hasn’t done much to elevate his career, which has pretty much been in stagnation for a while now. Giving him back the title for a sixth time would be meaningless, and much like Ziggler, a push towards the very top is necessary within the next few months.

Dean Ambrose

It’s pretty much common knowledge that Ambrose is in the world title match at Payback for Rollins to get a clean pinfall victory. There are rumors that he’s in for a main event push in the coming months, but if that doesn’t come to fruition, giving him a run with the IC Title is certainly an option. He held the US Title for nearly a year, but he defended it on rare occasions, and the matches were good, yet forgettable at the same time. Whilst I can’t see Ambrose holding the belt anytime soon, it’s certainly a possibility.

As for the potential 6th contender in the Chamber, there are a plethora of names in the fray. WWE could hand the spot to an NXT talent, something that would be welcomed by myself, but it’s likely to be given to a mid-carder just to make up the numbers, like R-Truth or Stardust. For now, we can only speculate. Whoever is chosen, the IC Title taking centrre stage at this pay-per-view will certainly help raise its prestige further.

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Dean Ambrose Could be In Trouble

May 14, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

First they announced Rollins vs. Orton. No one seemed to care. Then they announced Rollins vs. Orton vs. Reigns. Still couldn’t care less. Then they announced Rollins vs. Orton vs. Reigns vs. Ambrose. Suddenly there is some excitement and talk. Ambrose is once again in the limelight. And this time, let’s hope the light won’t flicker.

There were a lot of chances with Ambrose; not to put him in the title picture, but to build him steadily. But WWE chose not to. Probably they were worried that it might dilute the fan base they were building for Reigns. But now that that base is not only diluted but has become as dull as ditchwater, WWE is reviewing the Ambrose option. That means two things can happen.

1) the WWE would try to shove Ambrose down our throats in a bid to move the needle and kill the goose that can yada yada or 2) feeling that ‘he’s not ready just yet’ they would try to humble him as only the HHH regime can do.

In either case, Ambrose is in trouble.

To me Ambrose is the last exciting thing left in WWE. (Lesnar is a part-timer and Ryback is about to be fed to Wyatt) There is a genuine edge about him. He can wrestle and he put together the best match of the night. But the trouble with all that is Ambrose is alone. There is no else in the current roster that can bring the same kind of excitement and color to wrestling. From faces to heels, they are all one-dimensional (including Bray Wyatt whose promos have gone from terrific to soporific. I make tea when he talks). Besides, there’s a little bit of character tweak Ambrose requires before he can chase the championship.

So here’s hoping that WWE would chose a different route for Ambrose; which is to deny the fans Ambrose – but in a calculated manner. Just like they denied the fans Daniel Bryan till putting Daniel Bryan became the only sensible decision, WWE should deny the fans Ambrose & Title till they can’t take it anymore.

One of the things with television ratings is that the reaction of the live audience can affect it. The television viewer looks to the live crowd for cues. It’s a subconscious thing. And right now the live crowd is just dead.

When I look at WWE, I see a pattern. It started with the wild days of Hulkamania. Then it went to the sedate though technically strong days of Bret Hart. Then it reversed to the explosive days of Steve Austin only to switch back to the sedate though merch-moving days of John Cena. See what I mean? It had always see-sawed. So the next crest has to be something that is anything but sedate. Might I suggest ‘Unhinged’?
Ambrose can lead that. Maybe he’s not a great talker. But then I guess it’s time WWE focused on some good over-the-top action and moments. Moments are what we are badly missing these days. And more than great matches, its moments that make a star.

Ambrose’s early run in with Rollins had produced quite a few moments. But they were short lived as WWE used Ambrose give Wyatt a leg-up. That really didn’t go anywhere and won’t. Wyatt is just not scary, threatening or credible enough. But you know who is? Reigns! The way ahead for Reigns is to get frustrated and turn heel. I would be surprised if that doesn’t happen soon. Of course that throws a spanner in the works called Rollins. But then, is Rollins working as a heel? Back in the 90s, he would have been vying for the Intercontinental Championship as a face at this stage of his career.

Anyway, back to Ambrose. The key of course is some smart booking. Allow Ambrose to slowly build his fan base. Allow Ambrose to develop his mic skills. Allow Ambrose to tone down a bit for fans to identify with so much so that by the time the title is around his waist, WWE would not be thinking of taking it off him.

So here’s hoping that at Payback, Ambrose would come close to winning the title, but just won’t. But at the same time here’s hoping that Ambrose won’t in the process take the fall (Orton can do that). Going forward, here’s hoping that Ambrose won’t win the MITB and that Wyatt does. That done, here’s hoping that fans would be kept thirsting for Ambrose till Wrestlemania 32. Then here’s hoping that Wrestlemania 32 would be between Ambrose & Lesnar. And finally, here’s hoping that Wrestlemania 32 will usher in a new era. WWE Unhinged!

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WWE Payback: One Champion, One Title, One Opponent

May 12, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Four wrestlers. Three “faces”. Two stooges for security. One WWE World Champion. This isn’t how it used to be in the world of professional wrestling, but it’s the way the world turns in Vince McMahon’s circus. Welcome to the “We don’t know who we want to face the world champion, so let’s throw four guys in a ring and see what happens.”

That is what we have to look forward to at WWE Payback this coming weekend.

In layman’s terms, it means the WWE doesn’t have a clue what to do with Brock Lesnar being “suspended indefinitely” and John Cena making the United States Championship the most prized strap the company can offer. Oh my, how the tables have turned. When Randy Orton and Seth Rollins gave us arguably one of the best WrestleMania matches in the past decade, I thought a program with the superstars would be worth another pay-per-view or two. Then, the unthinkable happened – well not unthinkable since many of us wrestling fans thought about it – and Rollins cashed in on the title with this Money-in-the-Bank contract.

Hmm. Great idea at the time, not so great right now.

There is enough star power in the ring between Rollins, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to put 12 matches together. All four will get in a ring, beat the hell out of each other and hopefully give the fans what they paid money to see. And then Rollins will walk out (maybe slither out) of the ring with the title in hand. The idea that someone other than the current champion leaving with the company title should be erased from your minds now – That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

The title picture is certainly not what it used to be. One champion, one title, one opponent. There was no wavering on who Hulk Hogan faced for the title. There was only one opponent for Verne Gagne. Bruno Sammartino handled his rivalries one at a time.

Ric Flair was a little different in that he traveled from town to town as the NWA Champion, faced the promotion’s top star and then moved to another region. It kind of makes me wish the WWE would work a title run much like the Great American Bash used to be back in the days of Dusty Rhodes and his fertile mind. He created huge productions for wrestling fans.

During an event like that, Ric Flair would travel with the NWA and face top talent night after night. The series also gave talent that would not ordinarily be in singles competition or in a title match time to shine.

I loved seeing Flair face both Road Warriors and Ricky Morton. He would face Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham and some lesser known talents like Bobby Fulton or maybe Bobby Eaton. Those were the days when the title was more important than the person who wore the strap. Today, it is the opposite in every day.

Again, that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

How would a Rollins or Cena or Orton handle facing multiple challengers nightly and in different towns? Could they stay on point? The WWE works so hard on promoting programs and rivalries and then changes them up to give the fans more to get excited about. Frankly, it is really stale, no matter how good the Fatal Four-Way match could be at Payback.

The WWE must come out of this event on Sunday with one opponent for Rollins moving forward. The fans want to see head-to-head competition. There may be plenty of excitement from an Ambrose-Rollins confrontation that it warrants another feud between the two as the company moves toward Summer Slam. But the fans won’t know if the WWE cannot make a decision to have one title, one champion and one hellacious feud going forward.

That’s how this is supposed to work.

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