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WWE Fastlane Predictions and Preview

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

WWE will be launching the inaugural Fastlane this Sunday night. The prelude to WrestleMania will see a highly anticipated match up, an early WrestleMania 31 contest, and the first-ever advertised WWE special event appearance from the man called Sting.

Fastlane will replace the annual Elimination Chamber event. Unlike the Chamber show, Fastlane will be devoid of gimmick matches and strictly serve as an appetizer to the big March event. While I wouldn’t call it a strong show, I would see it is one of the more intriguing shows in recent memory. Let’s break down the top matches and events and make some predictions.

Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan in a Winner meets Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 Match - This is without question the most intriguing match of the year thus far. Reigns and Bryan is not a match I would have expected to see pre-Mania. Sure, I could see these guys headlining SummerSlam or Survivor Series but I didn’t expect it this soon. Thanks to some rowdy fans in Philadelphia and some post-Rumble adjustments, we are getting this one several months early.

I have written a lot on this match, two full blogs to be exact. However, things continue to change and the landscape has evolved since both blogs. Originally the plans were for a Reigns vs. Brock match at Mania. New rumors indicated that those plans changed and Bryan would now be inserted into a Triple Threat Match. At this point I don’t think there is a predictable way to go here.

This reminds me a lot of the Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels match at King of the Ring 1997. The match made no sense, it featured two babyfaces, and one was obviously the company guy against a guy who was on the descent. At the same it made no sense for either guy to put the other one over. The match ended with a double DQ and no winner. I would be surprised if we don’t see the same result repeat itself in this match.

Roman Reigns has a ton of pressure on him here. If Reigns is expected to be the guy that delivers main-event singles matches, it all starts here. He’s been given everything he needs to succeed here. If you can’t have a good or even great match with Bryan than his promos are the least of his problem. I have no doubt that Bryan will do everything he can to get a great match out of Reigns. Anything less than a pretty good match could really hurt Reigns’ chances of going over at Mania.

I am going to predict a non-finish here. I don’t think either one of these guys are getting pinned. I do think that Bryan is not nearly as over as he was last year and that could cause the brass to re-think their Triple Threat plan. Yet unless I hear different I think both guys come out untainted. I expect this one to end with some interference from the Authority and a big groan from the audience.

John Cena vs. Rusev for the US Title - WWE fans are getting this one early. These guys were penciled in for WrestleMania which makes this booking a bit odd. However, it wouldn’t be the first time we saw a WrestleMania match. I like the match, like it a lot. I love most of what they’ve done with Rusev and the fact they held him apart for Cena for a year was just brilliant.

I wouldn’t expect a great match, although I do think they have it in them to produce one. I see a safe match with both guys saving the full effort for Mania. Putting Cena over here makes no sense at all, although after the Royal Rumble booking I don’t have a lot of confidence in logical WWE booking. I do love the idea of Cena as U.S. champion, I just don’t want to see it prior to Mania. I look for Rusev to go over here. I would suspect that a ref-stoppage finish that involves Cena’s eye, either Rusev spiking it or threatening. Anything but a big win hurts interest in seeing Cena seek revenge at Mania.

Triple H and Sting Confrontation - Like you, I have always wanted to see Sting in the WWE. However, I have to admit that Sting vs. Triple H was not a dream match on my list. Regardless, we are getting it one way or the other so why complain. I expect the usual RAW confrontation you’d expect from both, but I do think Sting gets laid out this time around. I think you need to lay him out in order to create a demand for a match.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bad News Barrett for the WWE Intercontinental Title - I like this match. I also think that Dean Ambrose is the biggest waste of talent I have seen in the WWE in quite some time. I love the potential of this match. I think you have two guys here who are very talented and looking to steal the show. I don’t expect Ambrose to win the title and quite frankly that may be a good thing for him. At the same time I certainly don’t want to see him lose clean which is what I think happens here.

Full WWE Fastlane card and matches…
Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan – Number One Contender Match
John Cena vs. Rusev – United States Championship Match
Paige vs. Nikki Bella – WWE Divas Championship
Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose – WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Uso’s vs. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd – WWE Tag Team Championship
Triple H and Sting meet face to face
Goldust vs. Stardust

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Predicting The WWE 2015 Royal Rumble Winner – The Odds Are Out

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

It is never to early to start making WWE Royal Rumble 2015 predictions. Let’s take a look at the big match, break it down Vegas style, and see who has the best chance of challenging for gold at WrestleMania 31!

I thought I’d have some fun and take a look at the chances that each top prospect has of winning the Royal Rumble using Vegas odds. Of course take these odds for what you will as I had Batista last year as the favorite with -200 odds and John Cena as the 2013 favorite with -6.25 odds, although to be fair I had 2012 winner Sheamus with 50 to 1 odds. This year is truly anyone’s guess at this point.

Of course things can and likely will change from now until the Rumble in terms of injuries, card placement, and even champions. We all think we know what the WWE has planned for the Rumble and WrestleMania, but what if we are all wrong? Let’s take a look and see what the match looks like on the Vegas sportsbooks.

Daniel Bryan - As of today all reports indicate that the Rumble winner is up in the air. If that is true, I have to think that Bryan has the edge. As long as he can get the Yes Movement to rev back up he should be right in the mix for top consideration. I think Seth Rollins being added to the main-event helps out the scenario as well. I love his chances!

Odds: Even

Roman Reigns - Reigns was the odds on favorite for months to win the Rumble. The plan since last year’s Rumble was for Reigns to win the Rumble and defeat Lesnar at Mania 31. Things may have changed. Reigns missed time and during that time off his momentum cooled off considerably. Reportedly WWE officials are concerned about recent reactions to Reigns at the live events. I also think the situation with Rollins being added to the main-event doesn’t help his chances. He is still a favorite but he is far from the lock he was a month ago.

Odds: 2 to 1

Randy Orton - Orton comes in with very high odds entering this year’s Rumble. It would seem that the WWE has a big push in store for Orton, who is set to return as a babyface and feud with Rollins. It is not inconceivable to see Rollins win the Rumble and face Orton at Mania. Would it be a disappointment? Yes it would and the crowd would hate it but that won’t stop the WWE from proceeding with what they think is best. Just take a look at last year’s Rumble if you don’t believe me.

Odds: 7 to 1

Sheamus - Sheamus is rumored to be a big surprise at this year’s Rumble. It seems as if the WWE suddenly gets a renewed interest in Sheamus around this time every year, only for that interest to cool off over the next several months. I don’t think a Mania match with Sheamus and Brock is out of the question, yet it is doubtful. However, as long as the big guy is in the mix he is always in consideration of a big spot at Mania.

Odds: 10 to 1

Dean Ambrose - I would have loved to see Ambrose win the Rumble and I still would. Unfortunately the WWE did a great job of capping any momentum he had a few months ago. Ambrose has been beaten and made to look quite foolish in recent weeks. Not exactly the way you want to see someone booked before the Rumble eh? I would have loved to see it and a few months ago when Reigns went out, I would have predicted it. Unfortunately creative got in their own way and screwed it up for everyone.

Odds: 15 to 1

Bray Wyatt - With rumors of Bray facing the Undertaker at WrestleMania, a Royal Rumble win seems unlikely. However, the company is obviously committed to him and what happens if Taker isn’t coming back? What happens if the WWE already knows this or they have different plans for Bray? They obviously like Bray and have big things planned and while I don’t think he is a real favorite to win the Rumble, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

Odds: 15 to 1

Dolph Ziggler - Dolph is an interesting guy because just when you think he is relegated to jobber-dom, you get the Survivor Series win. He is being pushed hard right now as part of this Team Cena vs. Authority storyline and while I think Dolph winning would blow the roof off of the building in Philadelphia, I’d be surprised if they went that far with the former intercontinental champion at this time.

Odds: 24 to 1

The Big Show - Show is always in the running because as much as I am bored with him as a performer, the company always keeps him in the mix. I think it’s highly doubtful they go with Show in the title picture at Mania but you honestly never know what this company is thinking. Do I think it happens? No, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me either.

Odds: 28 to 1

Ryback - The big guy is the final guy who I will give any consideration to winning the Rumble. Ryback is another guy like many above who has been the victim of the start-stop push so you never really know what they are thinking with him. He was reportedly under consideration for a huge push at the Survivor Series, only to see those plans change shortly before the show. You know Vince loves his muscle guys which always makes Ryback a favorite in a Royal Rumble match.

Odds 36 to 1

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Evaluating The WWE Youth Movement – Year End Followup

January 07, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE youth movement was in full throttle this past April. A few months into the new year and stars were on the ascend for a new roster of talent. Unfortunately that momentum has subsided over the last eight months as we look back at what could have been.

I wrote a blog back in April taking a look at the new generation of stars on the WWE roster. Fans were feasting on a fresh look WWE that featured unfamiliar names in main-events and new faces that were stealing the show on a weekly basis. As we move into a new year I thought it would be a great time to take a look back and see where these future stars are today and how bright their stars look in 2015.

Bray Wyatt – There are rumors that he will be matched with the Undertaker at WrestleMania 31. That kind of spotlight will certainly help Wyatt. However, as I said back in April I think he is just too one-dimensional and that will always hold him back. I got into arguments with fans on Twitter about it but I stand by my statement. I think 2015 is a crucial year and if something doesn’t change he could wind up in some hot water by the end of the year. It’s up to him and the writing team to figure it out and at this point I’m not sure I like their chances.

Roman Reigns – I saw big things for Reigns back in April. I thought he had a sustainable character with plenty of potential to be that next big star. I am not so sure I agree with that assessment today. Something has changed and I think a lot of it has to do with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose stepping up and raising the bar for Reigns. He is turning into a very predictable wrestler with his three or four moves and I think that fans are starting to see it. They need to book Reigns in a 20 minute match and showcase the fact that he is more than just a one-dimensional guy. His injury timeout came at a horrible time and I think he is going to struggle to find that momentum. However, that said I think he sees a title reign in 2015 and a huge push to boot.

Cesaro – Ironically if I was starting this list today he wouldn’t even be on it. That shows you how far my former CZW colleague has fallen and that is a damned shame. I did point out back in April that he isn’t the kind of a guy that the WWE typically invest big pushes in and I think I have been proven right. He has a long way to go yet with all of that talent he is bound to see big things at some point. I am just not sure that happens in 2015 and that would be unfortunate.

Seth Rollins – I predicted back in April that he would have a better WWE career than Dean Ambrose and I was right. Rollins has broken out in 2014 and is slated for big things in 2015. I am just not sure how it all plays out because as we have seen with Wyatt, you can’t go up after feuding with John Cena. Feuds with Reigns for the title and Randy Orton should keep him busy for a while but it is what happens around this time next year that has me a little concerned for his sustainability in his current spot.

Dean Ambrose – In my opinion Ambrose is the most talented guy on this list and should be getting the push slated for Reigns. However, I don’t write WWE television and the writers obviously see Ambrose as a mid-card guy at best. Ambrose’s ability to out-talk most of the roster will always put him in a good place. Unfortunately I see that place in low-mid card feuds, which is a total waste of this great talent. I do think at some point he will get a shot and I wouldn’t be shocked to see a WWE title in his future. I just worry that creative will do too much damage on the way to the title that his championship reign won’t measure up to its potential.

Daniel Bryan – Do I even put Bryan on this list? I will since I included him in April but there are so many questions surrounding the American Dragon. He will be coming back at the Royal Rumble but what happens from there? Will he receive the big push that the Yes Movement would like to see him get once again? Will he be relegated to a mid-card star, the way he was before things exploded last year? It is impossible to offer any real evaluation on him at this point.

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WWE and NXT 20 Best Matches of 2014

December 30, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Complain all you wish about WWE, but there are 20 incredible matches listed here, all available to be watched at your leisure for, yes, $9.99 on WWE Network. Viewing all of them over the course of a few days would go a long way in taking your mind of most of the awful booking and half-baked episodes of Raw you endured in 2014, not to mention the constant plugs of the WWE App. The list is a reminder that not all was bad in the past year. In fact, quite a bit of it ruled.

Your mileage may vary, but here’s my take on the greatest matches from the sports entertainment giant from 2014.

20. The Shield vs. Evolution (WWE Payback, June 1)

Through December’s NXT Takeover: R Evolution in December, awareness of Triple H’s investment in NXT had never been higher. As such, the feud with The Shield this past spring makes the utmost sense: he trusts himself and two veterans in Batista and Randy Orton to get the most out of three of NXT’s most popular stars (next to Bray Wyatt, they’re the Mount Rushmore of NXT until Sami Zayn and others challenge them).

The bout at Payback was under elimination rules, with no countouts or disqualifications, and descended into thorough chaos, peaking with Roman Reigns taking a vestless whipping by the heels. The Shield winning was hardly stunning, but the clean sweep (in the group’s last hurrah) was: after 27 minutes, Seth Rollins pinned Batista, Dean Ambrose eliminated Orton, and Reigns speared real-life benefactor Triple H to survive with the trio in tact.

19. 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.

18. Sheamus vs. Cesaro (WWE Night of Champions, September 21)

The McMahon Paradox Extravaganza: the latter wrestler he claims can’t connect with the crowd, while the former truly doesn’t, in spite of any feelings Vince has toward the wooden, but physically gifted, Sheamus. It was in this match that we got Sheamus at his most robust: the temperamental brawler who dishes out punishment as well as he receives it. Cesaro is equally in his glory in these bouts, and was capable of getting the best out of Sheamus.

With the all-but-lifeless United States title at stake, Cesaro and Sheamus made with the stiff blows, exchanging elbows and forearms with assembly-line regularity. Even with Cesaro lost in the shuffle following a summer of poor direction, it seemed at times he was closing in on finishing Sheamus, particularly in the ultimate war of strikes. Cesaro had the upper hand for a split second, and just walked into a Brogue Kick to take the loss.

17. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler (WWE TLC, December 14)

TLC (and S) failed to cobble together a fourth-quarter rally in order to beat NXT’s R Evolution event; in fact, the show was blown out of the water completely by the development squad. Much of the blame for TLC’s failure came from uninspired matches with increasingly-meaningless weapon modifiers. Ziggler and Harper’s ladder match for the Intercontinental Title went on first, and was by and far the night’s most shining moment.

The match came with some ramped-up sickness; both men bled the hard way (Harper opened up a metal-cut by his armpit), and Harper nearly busted his arm on a suicide dive. The Cleveland crowd cheered for former-homeboy Ziggler, sustaining his rise in popularity with an exciting cat-and-mouse battle with a faultlessly-sadistic Harper, overcoming him in the end with a nod to the SummerSlam 1995 finish, superkicking him off of a second ladder, and retrieving the belt.

16. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (WWE SummerSlam, August 17)

The company had plenty to atone for after flaking on the duo’s would-be match at Battleground, only made up for by Ambrose attempting bloody murder three times during the course of that evening. A lumberjack stipulation for the SummerSlam bout read as needless; just send the two out there and let them attempt to kill one another. Silly us; the sea of humanity at ringside only added to a heated matchup that felt all too short.

Among the highlights: Ambrose suplexing Rollins from the apron onto a group of lumberjacks, and then Ambrose crazily throwing lumberjacks aside while in crazed, Captain Ahab-like pursuit of Rollins. Babyface lumberjacks carried Rollins back to the ring as a human sedan, so Ambrose dove off the top rope onto the pile. Kane’s interference took the wind out of a wild match, but not before it engrossed a chaos-loving crowd.

15. 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 didn’t impress me in NXT early on (though THAT would change), 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.

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

Forget the aftermath of the match, 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.

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

Takeover was 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 coloring 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.

12. Jimmy and Jey Uso vs. Luke Harper and Erick Rowan (WWE Battleground, July 20)

What is it with Harper and opening matches that all but save mediocre-to-bad PPVs? Not only does a bleating hillbilly make the Intercontinental Title feel like its worth fighting for, but Harper did the same for the Tag Team Championships, held by the Usos. The two teams met in a two out of three falls match, a stipulation that seemed oddly tacked on, and in the end, it wasn’t even necessary. The efforts of the four drove the match beyond anyone’s expectations.

The Wyatt disciples grabbed the first fall after a Harper running boot, but the Usos quickly tied it with a roll-up. The third fall extended to epic length, with a ton of false-finishes, last second saves, and ante-upping action, including Rowan hitting a double-superplex on both Usos, and a spiraling moonsault from Jimmy Uso. The brothers retained with a pair of diving splashes, but not before the crowd found itself living and dying on every close pinfall attempt.

11. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Hell in a Cell, October 26)

For the first time since 1994, a WWE PPV had ended with two men under 30 years old in a singles main event. Ambrose and Rollins, both 28 at match time, figured to be blowing off a five-month issue after the split of the Shield, and conventional wisdom had Ambrose getting his receipt from the SummerSlam loss. The match would tap into some lost Attitude Era magic and imagination, with a swerve ending out of Vince Russo’s soggiest wet dreams.

Channeling their collective inner Mick Foley, the two began the match on top of the Hell in a Cell cage, with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury taking part in the mayhem. Ambrose and Rollins took a safer (only slightly) fall off of the cage through tables, but continued the fight inside with Ambrose gaining the upper hand. This led to the utterly random ending with Bray Wyatt interfering following a holographic smoke signal, but everything up to that point was killer.

10. 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 the prior August (hailed by many as the 2013’s best match), the story was that 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 Neutralizer. 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.

9. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston (WWE Money in the Bank, June 29)

The latter four names served as little more than aerodynamic fodder for this match. While most Money in the Bank ladder matches leave story locked away in favor of letting directionless talents put on a 20-minute stunt show, the Rollins-Ambrose war began boiling here. An increasingly-unhinged Ambrose entered himself in the match with less interest in a World Title contract, and more focus on maiming Rollins for his unexpected betrayal four weeks earlier.

Ambrose attacked Rollins from Jump Street, fondly reminiscent of Cactus Jack’s “who cares about the belt?” vile pursuit of Sting over twenty years ago. Rollins took a scary bump onto a wedged ladder display, and Ambrose sold a dislocated shoulder in his undeterred quest to make Rollins pay. Kane interfered in the final stages, Tombstoning Ambrose so that Rollins could snare the briefcase. The other four men contributed mightily, but for once, there was an actual story.

8. 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.

7. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd (NXT Takeover: Fatal Four Way, September 11)

Demonstrating the sort of knowing, long-term building that the latter day Vince McMahon lacks (“We have one week to get the ratings up to a 2.9 or the stockholders will burn Titan Tower down!”), NXT had built up Zayn as the perfect underdog: the fair-playing gentleman who will compete to his last breath, but won’t yield from his principles. Lacking the hypocrisy of John Cena, NXT viewers rallied behind the proud ethics of Zayn, wishing him toward the top.

This fatal-four-way took some time to find its groove, but did in a major way. The narcissistic Breeze had a good showing in the middle with plenty of near falls, but Zayn brought it home, ending a frenzied sequence with a Heluva Kick on Kidd for two, after a desperate Neville pulled the referee out. Neville used the unsportsmanslike move to land Red Arrow on Kidd and retain, which robbed Zayn once more. Not a worry; his day would come in the grandest of fashion.

6. 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). The aforementioned rematch at 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’d 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.

5. 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 was rewarded with the WrestleMania battle royal win and earning Paul Heyman as a manager before things cooled off.

4. 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 were truly juiced-in main eventers at the time, 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 before it even kicked off), and remains in the running ten 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.

3. John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback vs. Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, Kane, Rusev, and Mark Henry (WWE Survivor Series, November 23)

Other than Roman Reigns’ breakout showing at the 2013 event, there hasn’t been a truly classic Survivor Series match in years, probably since the madcap fun of the Raw vs. Smackdown match in 2005. Picking the greatest elimination bout of all time was a veritable toss-up between the 1987 20-manner and the Austin/Bischoff-helmed teams in 2003. For years, that was my either/or argument until this match swooped in and surprised pretty much everyone.

The crowd built to nuclear levels following Rusev’s elimination nearly 20 minutes in, and were stunned when Show double-crossed Cena. Ziggler’s subsequent valiant effort to overcome three-on-one odds saw him win over the fans, building to a dramatic finale with Rollins where Triple H would not let him win. Sting’s debut iced the match as a modern classic, made all the more enjoyable by Stephanie’s well-done breakdown in the aftermath, her job lost.

2. 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 thought Hunter didn’t know how to elevate.

1. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover: R Evolution, December 11)

One of the bolder statements I’ve seen among internet feedback: Zayn’s NXT Championship victory meant more than Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania title win. I can see this point, actually: with Bryan, you knew that once the YES Movement had the ‘YES-in”, he was getting the strap. With Zayn, there was no telling if he’d truly be a bridesmaid forever, even with the stipulation that he had to leave NXT (read: go to the main roster) if he lost to Neville once more.

The story told was some of the best you’ll see: Zayn fighting the urge to cheat, in spite of Neville’s prior claims that without bending the rules, he would never get the gold. The match built toward two ref bumps, Zayn’s patent frustration, and a finish where Zayn finally conquered the Brit and won the elusive title. The celebration with debuting Kevin Owens and the roster solidified the moment….and Owens’ heartless double-cross only enhanced the awesomeness.

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The Camel Clutch Blog WWE 2014 Year In Review

December 29, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The World Wrestling Entertainment had an eventful 2014. The WWE saw new stars breakout, a historic result, & one of the most fascinating stories in recent years with one top star quitting and jumping into the world of MMA. Rather than look back myself at the WWE 2014 in review, I am joined by a collection of pro wrestling writers from CamelClutchBlog.com.

WWE Wrestler of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Brock Lesnar. This may not be a popular opinion but I am going with Brock Lesnar for Wrestler of the Year. Yes I know he wrestled a part-time schedule, but look at what he accomplished in just a handful of matches? He not only ended the streak but he destroyed the WWE world champion in the most one-sided match you’ll ever see headline a WWE pay-per-view. Nobody even came close to giving Lesnar a run for the money. Rollins was my initial choice but even he didn’t have victories as historic as Lesnar. Speaking of historic, Lesnar had two historic matches in one year! I know some people will argue the schedule but I can’t think of anyone who had as dominant of a 2014 in the WWE ring as Brock.

Dustin Nichols – Dolph Ziggler. Had he not gone down with an injury early in the year, I think 2014 would have been the year for Daniel Bryan. Having said that, I am going with Dolph Ziggler. After being punished for some untimely (albeit truthful) comments about Randy Orton being boring and holding the roster back, WWE seems ready to forgive and forget and allow Ziggler to be the star we’ve all known he could be for years. Ziggler’s last few months in WWE have been spectacular, with great match after great match, as well as several key, big wins over guys like Luke Harper and Seth Rollins, including being the sole survivor in the main event at this year’s Survivor Series. Not only that, but he has brought a lot of prestige back to the Intercontinental Championship, and with the WWE title being on a part-timer who only works 30 days a year, Ziggler has done what he promised and made the IC title the most important singles belt in the company.

Tom Clark – Dolph Ziggler. Dolph Ziggler is usually the fans’ choice and honestly I have to go with him this time out.  Dean Ambrose had a good year and Seth Rollins did very well but for me, no one was as consistent as Ziggler.  Every time he laces up the boots, he impresses.  Just because he’s not a top guy makes no difference in terms of what he means to that company; Dolph is an absolute workhorse and he gets it done every time out.  He looks more comfortable and more at ease than he perhaps ever has before and if this is what simply allowing a guy to work with little main event expectations is like, then I for one say keep him where he is. He will eventually rise to the top, the guy is too good and he’s too over to be kept down for much longer.

Jeff Peck – Seth Rollins. Heading into 2014, Seth Rollins may have been the least likely guy on The Shield to breakout on his own and now he is by far the best star from The Shield since their split back in June. Rollins how tremendous matches throughout the year with guys like Dean Ambrose & John Cena and now he is poised to be a WWE Champion at some point in 2015. It’s amazing to see how far Seth Rollins has come from Tyler Black in ROH to the star we see each and every week in the WWE.

Atlee Greene – Dean Ambrose. In the wake of Daniel Bryan’s injury in May, no one has captured the imagination of WWE fans more than Dean Ambrose. Seth Rollins, and to an extent, Roman Reigns have had some good matches and fun moments but the lunatic fringe, with his versatile performance on the microphone and in the ring, has proven that in the case of The Shield, the sun of its parts is greater than the whole. Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins also deserve consideration for this honor.

Steve Grossi – Brock Lesnar. Some people are going to think I’m crazy but I’m going with Brock Lesnar for my wrestler of the year.  When I think of the individual that should win this, in my mind, it’s the wrestler who had the biggest year – the wrestler who made the biggest impact.  Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Dolph Ziggler all had great moments but no one even comes close to the impact Brock made in the ring in 2014.  I hate the idea that he didn’t wrestle enough to win wrestler of the year.  This isn’t football or baseball where stats are compiled.  He works when he works. It’s not about collecting stats to compare against someone else.  With Ziggler’s win at Survivor Series being close, Brock had two wins that are untouchable by anyone else.  Lesnar’s domination of Cena at SummerSlam was unbelievable.  It was the most one-sided beating of Cena’s WWE career.  Brock hit Super Cena with 16 German suplexes, and two F-5’s, pinning Cena clean to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.  Four months prior, the thing I never thought would ever happen, happened.  Brock Lesnar did exactly what Paul Heyman said he was going to do, he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania, putting an end to Taker’s 21-match undefeated streak. Those are two moments I never thought I would see and Brock Lesnar did them both in the same year. Hands down the wrestler of the year for 2014.

Danny Bixby – John Cena.John Cena. Let’s go ahead and everyone agree to just disavow me now. My pick is…sigh…John Cena. Ugh, I hate myself for this! But let’s be honest, this year has been pretty much a crapshoot talent-wise. With CM Punk quitting in January, Daniel Bryan getting injured for 6-12 months right after he won the title at Wrestlemania and WWE’s new golden child Roman Reigns being out for a few months this fall, the WWE main event scene has fallen to one guy: John Cena. He has main evented 7 out of 12 PPV’s this year, and been the “2nd main event” for the other 5. Nobody else can boast that. The WWE relies on him to carry the weight of the product, and he does it year after year. 2014 was no different.

David Levin – Daniel Bryan. The rise of Bryan over the course of two years is one of the best stories in wrestling history. It is as important to the business as it was back in the 1970s when it was thought Ric Flair wasn’t worthy enough to hold the belt because Dory Funk and Jack Brisco had better wrestling backgrounds. The cult-like rapport’ Bryan has with the fans from a simple catch phrase – “YES!” – is one for the ages.

Robert Goeman – Seth Rollins. If Daniel Bryan had stayed healthy, this award would have been his. When the Shield broke up this year, Ambrose and Reigns had easy transitions into their face roles. Ambrose became a vengeful psychopath hell bent on destroying Rollins and Reigns…he changed his gear! Rollins became the handpicked golden boy of the Authority and has knocked it out of the park as a cocky little turd. With the sudden disappearance of alleged real world’s champion Brock Lesnar to visit every Jimmy Johns in a goodwill tour to spread the word of Vito Meats, Rollins has settled comfortably into the top heel spot. The highlight of his is of course the excellent Ambrose feud and good to great bouts against the likes of Ziggler and Cena among others. Rollins has cemented himself as the top heel in the company and I really don’t see anybody on the roster unseating him or even challenging him. Of course, I’m not forgetting all of the excellent work Rollins did in the Shield; he just impressed the heck out of me in this role. I honestly thought he would struggle in the role, but Rollins has been a natural in the role.

Chris Skoyles – Dolph Ziggler. Equally revered by casual fans and die-hards alike, Dolph Ziggler -in this writer’s opinion- deserves the nod for Wrestler of the Year not so much for any kayfabe accomplishments, but more for continuing to maintain his status as a firm favourite despite his continual mistreatment at the hands of the WWE machine. Whilst others are held up as bastions of greatness one minute, only to be scorned the next (see: Roman Reigns), Ziggler manages to retain the respect and adulation of fans thanks to his always-on-form work in keeping us entertained.

Eric Darsie – Dean Ambrose. If you told me at the start of 2014 that the Shield will break up and Dean Ambrose would be the guy I was most excited about watching out of the three, I’d laugh at you. When the three broke apart at the end of the spring, all three men jumped up the singles ladder rather quickly and I can see all three men as main eventers in the future, but with Dean Ambrose having a two pay-per-view main events under his belt as a singles star, he’s my wrestler of the year.

WWE Story of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – CM Punk Quitting the WWE and signing with the UFC. I struggled between CM Punk leaving the WWE and going to UFC and the Ultimate Warrior’s return and subsequent passing. With all due respect to the Warrior, I think the CM Punk story was much bigger on so many levels. Never have we had a story where a top guy just walked out of the company, impacting WrestleMania, and going to the UFC all in one year! On top of all of that you have the added element of Punk’s wife still working for the WWE. This is one hell of a story and the recent podcasts and interviews only heated it up again. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it again and for me, this was the biggest story of the year in and outside of the ring. How big of a story was this? In a year where the WWE essentially eliminated the pay-per-view model in favor of a network, this story was bigger.

Dustin Nichols – CM Punk quits and signs with UFC. I think there’s really only one story that can earn this award, and that’s CM Punk parting ways with WWE and eventually signing with UFC. Regardless of which side you believe (although Punk’s seems more likely), the fact is that Punk was a major star during his time with WWE, and leaving the company for a variety of reasons was even more major. The split was bitter, and Punk eventually decided to not only not return, but to leave pro wrestling for good, announcing his retirement before the age of 40, something almost unheard of in this sport. If that wasn’t shocking enough, Punk recently signed a major contract with UFC, with both sides likely looking to replicate the success of Brock Lesnar a few years back. Punk is already training for his first fight, and is expected to debut sometime in 2015. Already, speculation is running rampant on not only who Punk will face, but how well he is expected to fare in “the Octagon”. Regardless of what you think of his career move, Punk signing with UFC has the whole sports world talking.

Tom Clark – The CM Punk saga. For me, this has to be the CM Punk saga.  The guy that once stood up for the WWE locker room decided to leave it behind in favor of healing up and trying to have a normal life with his new wife.  It made sense and I for one didn’t hold it against him.  When he finally broke his silence on WWE, everyone lost their minds and when the UFC announcement was made, things got even crazier.  The voice of the voiceless was screaming louder than ever before and he wasn’t even in the ring anymore.  Fans can either hate him or love him but no one deny Punk’s drive to be his own man and not be controlled by anyone else on any level.  We should all be that brave.

Jeff Peck – CM Punk vs. the WWE. From the walkout to the podcast pipebomb to Vince McMahon’s response the CM Punk/WWE saga has dominated headlines throughout of 2014. From rumors of CM Punk being at RAW in Chicago back in March 2014 to rumors of CM Punk being at WrestleMania 30 to rumors of any and every type of return. It’ll be interesting to see what twists it takes heading into 2015 as CM Punk prepares for his UFC debut and if there is any “burying of the hatchet” between he & the WWE.

Steve Grossi – The Ultimate Warrior Returns. The debut of Sting is a very difficult story to pick against but for me, The Ultimate Warrior was the story of 2014.  After a long and ugly feud with Vince McMahon and WWE management that lasted 18+ years, The Ultimate Warrior took his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame with a speech that will never be forgotten.  Then, the night after WrestleMania XXX, he made an epic return to Monday Night Raw with an even more powerful and very eerie speech.  He said, “No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own.  Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat; his lungs breathe their final breath.” It’s almost like he was saying his final farewell.  Then the following day, one of the saddest days I can remember, he passed away.  There is no doubt in my mind that after everything that had happened in the events during WrestleMania weekend, he was happy and finally at peace.  He will forever be one of my all-time favorite wrestlers.  He’s the kind of personality you never forget.  The music, his sprint to the ring, the face paint and one-of-a-kind promos and there’s no question the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will live forever. I couldn’t be happier that he was able to make his return and take his place in the WWE Hall of Fame.

David Levin – CM Punk Walking Out. Punk marched to the beat of his own drum. He walked out and then was fired on his wedding day. Arenas chant his name, hope he will appear in person in a “Sting sitting in the rafters” type scenario.Now, after hearing about how Vince McMahon publically apologized to him for the way he company treated him, to how Punk was never treated properly for MRSA to how he now is property of the UFC, Punk continues to make headline just for the mere fact he is the most polarizing wrestler who has not appeared in a WWE ring in the last 11 months.

Danny Bixby – $9.99! Say it with me: $9.99!!! That’s right, the absolute biggest story of the year was the creation and promotion of the WWE Network. A fan’s wet dream when it comes to watching pro wrestling. You can see every WWE/WCW/ECW ppv that ever existed, along with every new WWE ppv live while they air. I mean really, even if it was current PPV’s, you’re looking at $600 in ppv cable costs…instead of $120 for the year for the Network. That’s a crazy deal. Throw in all the old stuff, the new special content (Countdown, Monday Night War, etc) and every fan has been salivating at this. Hell, it’s worth $9.99 just to be able to watch NXT every week! As time goes on, the future of WWE will rise and fall with the success of the Network. All of their eggs are in this basket. Hopefully it doesn’t get crushed.

Robert Goeman – CM Punk’s Walk Out. This to me was a tough vote because we had the Network launch and it struggle leading to the stock debacle. You had Daniel Bryan cementing himself as the new face of the WWE, to only see his career in doubt. We all know or at-least we thought we knew the story being Punk leaving, sitting out his contract and then seemingly disappearing. Punk had never talked about the walk-out; the WWE seemed to be in radio silence mode and CM Punk became CM Sticky Note. Everybody theorized when Punk would return, then people were happy he was gone, and then everybody wanted him back. We also wondered when Vince would be seen driving a dump truck full of money down to Chicago. The company took pot shots at him in Chicago and Punk to his credit maintained silence. On Thanksgiving weekend, Punk would appear on Colt Cabana’s podcast, revealing

Chris Skoyles – CM Punk and WWE part way. I badly wanted to give this one to the Undertaker’s streak reaching its end. After all, did anything come as far out of the blue as that? Yet ultimately, I have to concede that the Punk/WWE break up earns the win simply because it’s dominated headlines for pretty much the full course of the year. Months after the Straight Edge Superstar’s last appearance in a WWE ring, we were still talking about him online, chanting his name in arenas and wondering what he’d do next. The move to MMA means we’ll still be talking about him long into 2015.

Eric Darsie – CM Punk vs. Vince McMahon. Since he walked out the night after the Royal Rumble, CM Punk was silent until Thanksgiving, when his first part interview with Colt Cabana on Art of Wrestling came out. With the lawsuit and all, he couldn’t come out sooner than he did, but it all made sense after both editions of Art of Wrestling came out. McMahon appearing on the Steve Austin Show with Stone Cold, it appears to me that what Punk mentioned in his two interviews with Cabana opened up a can of worms that the WWE has to close with their doctors, and with CM Punk.

WWE Match of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Team Authority vs. Team Cena (Survivor Series 2014). This was another tough one because I hate to be accused of recency bias but I don’t think there was a match as exciting all year as the Survivor Series 2014 Team Cena vs. Team Authority match. The match was 43 minutes long which has to be the longest WWE PPV main-event in recent years. The match was incredibly dramatic, more so than even Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H. The fans were fantastic as they added an element of excitement to the match rarely seen outside of WrestleMania. The final fifteen minutes were as fun as you will get on a WWE event in 2014. I watched it again before writing this to confirm and it was just as entertaining several weeks later as it was live. I loved this match and the drama that came with it, thus it gets my nod for Match of the Year.

Dustin Nichols – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania 30). Although not the most spectacular match I’ve ever seen, I’m going with Bryan/Orton/Batista at Wrestlemania. Although something of an average triple threat match, the story of Bryan defying the odds and continuing to come back from absolutely everything thrown at him told a great story and made the match (as well as the payoff) completely worthwhile. Andre/Hogan at Wrestlemania III wasn’t the greatest of matches, but everyone remembers it because of the great build and the fantastic story. I think the same will be said for Bryan finally reaching the pinnacle of WWE in front of a crowd 100% behind him.

Tom Clark – Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista (WrestleMania 30). This one has to be Daniel Bryan’s title victory over Randy Orton and Batista at WrestleMania 30.  It may not get the nod overall in terms of being a technical masterpiece but it was the main event of WWE’s biggest night of the year.  Combine that with the fact it was Bryan’s ascension to the top and it meant so much more.  There has arguably not been a guy more deserving and more suited to fill that spot in recent history than Daniel Bryan and I’m very happy that he got his Mania moment.  It was the biggest night of his career and it came on the night when the company made the most money.  For me, that’s an epic match that’s hard to top.

Jeff Peck – Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Takeover – May 29th, 2014). This may come as a shock to some but it really stands out to me as the best match in a WWE ring from this past year. Charlotte and Natalya took the Flair/Hart rivalry to the next level back in May 2014 by putting together one of the best women’s wrestling matches I have seen in some time. The chemistry between the two of them is amazing, both are extremely athletic and they brought a emotional investment into the match.

Atlee Greene – Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Monday Night Raw 8/18/14). Their match at Summer Slam was match of the night and they upped the ante tenfold the next night on Raw. This was 25 minutes of televised mayhem that engulfed the Thomas & Mack Center and completely captivated the viewers at home. Nothing was wasted and everything meant something, unlike most Falls Count Anywhere matches, which are simply done for shock and awe. The finish where Rollins curb stomped Ambrose’s head through the cinder blocks was perfectly executed and heightened the drama of an already intense feud.

Steve Grossi – Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber is my choice for match of the year.  There are many ingredients that make for a great match and this one had it all.  All six members of these factions are spectacular performers and we are seeing that play out today.  The buildup for this match was great.  The promos and altercations were all fun and highly entertaining.  The anticipation was unbelievable for them to finally have the match and that was evident the night of Elimination Chamber. The second these two groups entered the ring the crowd was jacked up.  They were chanting, “this is awesome” before the match even started.  Of course the contest lived up to the hype.  This faction war had Dean Ambrose go missing, Seth Rollins flying everywhere including through an announce table, excitement, unpredictability and most importantly a definitive finish. There were a ton of great matches in 2014 but this one tops them all.

Eric Darsie – The Shield def. Evolution (WWE Payback). One of the matches I believe put over the Shield, especially the night after they’d break apart, was their clean sweep against Evolution at WWE Payback in a no disqualification elimination match. There weren’t any falls until the last minutes of the match and WrestleMania main eventers put over the new stars, what better match to put over the new singles stars?

Danny Bixby – Wyatt Family vs The Shield: Elimination Chamber. This match only barely squeaked out ahead of The Shield vs Evolution at Payback mostly because of the storyline surrounding it. This was the major turning point for the Shield. They were now full out babyfaces after being unstoppable heels since their debut. And the fans were dying for it! This match gave people what they wanted: A compelling reason to fight (Wyatts cost the Shield a shot at the title in the chamber) and 6 performers who gave everything they had to the match. Even Erick Rowan, the weakest link in the bunch, looked legitimate in this contest. The only thing that may have made it better would be putting Ziggler & Cesaro into it somehow too.

David Levin – Team Authority vs. Team Cena (Survivor Series 2014). The WWE is finally allowing more wrestlers to move forward, leaving John Cena’s spot vulnerable. Ziggler coming forward did a few things to the landscape of the WWE. It opened the door for someone to be the go-to face in the company. It also meant the remnant of The Authority have two heads to chop when it comes to getting even. Ziggler is one of the best performers to come through the WWE in the past decade.

Robert Goeman – Brock Lesnar vs John Cena (SummerSlam 2014). Before you begin to grab from that box of rotten fruit with my name written on it, let me explain. Were there better matches from a wrestling standpoint? Yes, but from a story standpoint nothing will touch this. A legitimate big fight atmosphere not seen since Hogan vs Vader at SuperBrawl 1995, coupled with the biggest curveball in WWE history as Lesnar just runs through a fifteen time champion with ease. This is a match with so many great moments: The F-5 right away, Lesnar’s facial expressions, the suplexes, Charles Robinson in general, that Let’s Go Cena kid, Heyman being Heyman, and even Cena’s last ditch moves to slay the monster. Those two moments will always stand out for me, the outta nowhere AA and Lesnar sitting up like The Underaker with the grin and laugh like it was nothing. When Cena locked in the Hail Mary STF, I had the same dread that many fans felt as Lesnar would tap out and Cena would win. It’s one of the best STF’s Cena ever did, but the moment of Lesnar breaking out with ease, pounding on Cena, dragging Cena and hitting with F-5 to mercifully end it all was beautiful.

Chris Skoyles – Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H – WrestleMania 30. A tough one this one. For many, the subsequent main event, with Bryan finally lifting the title after a dramatic outing with Orton and Batista may be the better of the former American Dragon’s Wrestlemania 30 matches. Given the drama involved and the feel-good finale, it certainly deserves to be up there, but for this fan, the opening contest just pips it to the post. Bryan stood toe-to-toe with the man who had tormented him for months and took him out at the end of one of the best ‘Mania opening matches in 20 years.

WWE Angle of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority. In a perfect world this angle would have paid dividends right after WrestleMania. Unfortunately injuries to Bryan prevented the angle from truly paying off. Ironically this great angle would have not even been possible if it weren’t for CM Punk walking out and leaving Triple H without an opponent for Mania. Regardless, by the time this match got to Mania the feud was red hot and Bryan was finally given the big WrestleMania push we hoped to see.

Dustin Nichols – Brock Lesnar ends the Streak. Unfortunately, the angles this year weren’t all that great, mainly due to the shows being almost completely dominated by the Authority vs. whoever every single week. While the angle did provide some great moments, it got very stale very quickly, as any angle of this nature does. If I had to pick one, however, I am going to go with something most nearly everyone else hated, and that’s Brock Lesnar conquering the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. I have been begging for this to happen for quite some time, but never had much faith it would happen. While Lesnar wouldn’t be my first choice, seeing him absolutely destroy the Undertaker and cleanly pin his shoulders to the mat was phenomenal. Follow that up with Lesnar obliterating John Cena in a completely lopsided affair, and Lesnar became one of my favorite performers of the year, even if he did work only part-time.

Tom Clark – Brock Lesnar Dominates the WWE. Brock Lesnar owned WWE in 2014 due to his manhandling of John Cena at SummerSlam and because of his shocking win over The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30.  His return to the company and these two events are enough for me to consider it the angle of the year.  The fact that WWE would allow a guy that’s not even part time to first conquer The Deadman at Mania then destroy Cena for the championship is so surprising that it has to get the nod here. That he spent four months off of TV with no title defense is just icing on the cake; it may not be the popular choice but for me, this was definitely the angle of the year.  And no, I’m not happy about it either.

Jeff Peck – Seth Rollins turns on the Shield. I’ve said that Seth Rollins turning his back on The Shield could be the “Shawn Michaels super kick to Marty Jannetty through the barber shop window” moment circa 2014. It came out of no where and it was with someone fans would least likely expect turn his back as a heel. Just 6+ months later from the angle and we could be looking at a moment that defines the WWE for years or decades to come.

Eric Darsie – Brock Lesnar being the 1 in 21-1. Who ever thought going into WrestleMania XXX that the Undertaker will take a lose at WrestleMania, especially to another part timer like Brock Lesnar? With how Brock has been booked for the rest of the year, and with his MMA credentials, I don’t know who’d be better to be the one to end the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. Brock made John Cena look like a jobber at SummerSlam to become the new WWE Champion, and coming off of the victory at WrestleMania, Brock can not be stopped!

David Levin – Daniel Bryan vs. The Authority. It has been NWO-ish in how the Authority had built so much momentum, beating the hell out of Bryan. It reminded me of Lex Luger, Randy Savage and others getting their asses licked each week. The “B+” angle works great with Bryan, the underdog and the bearded, smallish wrestler with a heart as big as Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit combined.

Robert Goeman – The Rise of the YES Movement Going into WrestleMania XXX. Hands up, who thought that the WWE was going to screw this up? After so many screw-ups when it came to booking Daniel Bryan in summer/fall/winter, I surely thought that Bryan would lose again in 18 seconds at The Show of Shows. I can admit that I was wrong and there was some really good stuff in the weeks leading into Mania. The Occupy Raw segment was well done and the beat down angle, while predictable was executed so well. Credit obviously goes to Triple H and Bryan for playing their respective roles very well, but Stephanie McMahon was great in this angle, and they’d try to do the same thing with Steph and Brie….but that didn’t work obviously. It’s a great angle and it lead to The Miracle on Bourbon Street, which combined my love for Triple H doing the job and Bret Hart’s WrestleMania X journey.

Chris Skoyles – Daniel Bryan – The Underdog Prevails. Though Daniel Bryan – WWE Champion may not have lasted long, everything before that big Wrestlemania moment made for compelling television. What really made this one stand out was that it perfectly weaved on-screen drama with fans’ real-life frustration over Bryan’s push to keep us hooked from start to finish. Throw in Triple H at his most heelish best, memorable moments like the ‘Occupy Raw’ segment, and we’ve got our angle of the year.

WWE Breakout Star of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Seth Rollins. The WWE breakout wrestler of the year is probably someone I would have never predicted a year ago. Daniel Bryan was on his way and I think Dean Ambrose could have been bigger, but the WWE creative team did less to hasten Rollins’ ascension than anyone else. He went from a cog on a three man team to being the number one full-time heel under Brock Lesnar in a year. I almost gave Rollins Wrestler of the Year but his record just didn’t quite measure up. He has no real big victories to speak of and nothing that even comes close to dwarfing the end of the streak. Rollins has a big chance to be Wrestler of the Year in 2015, but I can’t think of anyone who took as big of a leap in such a short time in 2014 or any recent year than Seth Rollins.

Dustin Nichols – Damien Mizdow. While the angles in the company were kind of stale this year, there was no shortage of breakout stars. All three members of the Shield, Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper could all lay claim to this award. However, I’m going to go a different route and go with Damien Mizdow. Mizdow is on the verge of finally becoming a major star, and everyone knows it. After having a very lackluster couple of years in the company, the former Damien Sandow got slapped with a gimmick that should have killed him for good, that being the Miz’s stunt double. Instead, Mizdow decided to have fun with the gimmick, including coming up with the idea of mimicking all of Miz’s moves and actions in the ring himself, and the fans have completely latched onto it. What was originally an idea to get Miz over (it’s never going to happen, WWE. Accept it) has instead breathed completely new life into Mizdow, legitimately making him one of the most over wrestlers on the roster. It’s only a matter of time before WWE splits this team up and finally starts pushing Mizdow onto bigger and better things, something they’re already in the process of teasing.

Jeff Peck – Rusev. When the WWE first debuted Rusev as a Russian star I groaned because it was a gimmick that was down 20-25 years ago, yet the WWE has made it entertaining and gotten it over in 2014. Rusev is a force in the ring with a ton of momentum heading into 2015 and having Lana as his mouthpiece has made him into a superstar that I’ve grown to enjoy on a weekly basis. I do believe that 2015 will be a big year in longevity for Rusev as I think he can clearly be a force in the WWE for years to come, if booked correctly.

Steve Grossi – Dean Ambrose. I’ve been saying this for months now and I am going to continue to say it, Dean Ambrose is currently the best thing going in the WWE today.  When it was time for The Shield to split up, it was clear he was not in their main event plans.  Roman Reigns was handpicked to be the next baby face star and with Seth Rollins winning Money in the Bank, he’s clearly in position to make a huge impact in the future.  But then Ambrose was given the opportunity to stand out and that’s exactly what he did.  He’s great on the microphone, excellent in the ring and you never know what you are going to get with him.  Whether it’s ripping apart a dummy in the ring, destroying the Money in the Bank briefcase, jumping out of a present or the back of a car, he’s taking the fun factor to another level.  In this case, it’s not all about getting the win in the ring.  The Lunatic Fringe has been a part of some of the best programs of the year, most notably against Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt and in my opinion; those feuds were great because of Ambrose. No question he’s the guy to keep an eye on in 2015.

David Levin – Bray Wyatt. Bray Wyatt. While we expected the members of the Shield to dominate this first half of the year, Wyatt came in a revolutionized the oddity in wrestling again. Not since the days of Kevin Sullivan and Adrian Street have we witnessed such a dramatic entrance in the business and the feuds he has already assumed with Kane, John Cena, Chris Jericho and now Dean Ambrose make him as epic as the WWE wanted him to be.  

Robert Goeman – Luke Harper. While Harper had some good performances in 2013, I felt that he took off this year with some great moments in the Shield/Wyatt Family series. Harper also had some great matches against Cena during the Wyatt feud and stood out in the blow-off to the Uso’s feud at Battleground. Harper also had some good showings against Chris Jericho in the Jericho/Wyatt feud and capped off 2014 with a show-stealing ladder match against Dolph Ziggler at TLC. Harper’s future is bright and looks to be the next great big man that the company has desperately looked for since The Undertaker started to slow down. Hopefully, Harper will have a strong showing in the Rumble match, heck I would even peg him being in the final six at-least.

Eric Darsie – Seth Rollins. Along with Dean Ambrose, I was surprised to see how great Seth Rollins was by the end of 2014 as a singles star. I never thought Rollins would be as great of a heel when he was a part of the Shield and if you told me back at the start of 2014 that Rollins will be one of the top heels by the end of the year, I’d be surprised. I can’t wait to see where 2015 takes him.

Chris Skoyles – Dean Ambrose. Another tough one. In terms of in-ring excellence, others may have shone brighter than Ambrose, and though he was already well entrenched in the WWE system along with the shield, it was in 2014 that he proved he could hold his own as a top-tier solo star.

Krysta Ibach – Luke Harper. I am trying to decide who the bigger break out star is; Dean Ambrose…Seth Rollins…or Luke Harper. (Cue chorus in the peanut gallery….HARPER???). Yes Harper. Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins have just expanded exponentially since the implosion of the SHIELD. (Reigns not so much; he needs to lose the strong but silent type image; he was much better when he was that flirty, cheeky man.) Their promos for the most part are consistent and spot on; their in-ring work just gets better and better. Ambrose is train wreck riveting; you just can’t look away when he’s on. Even that spot with the mannequin where Ambrose went all out; it was a strange spot but still we were riveted. Rollins too has his moments where you just don’t want to miss anything he might do, the high spots where he drops off ledges. Their feud is one that WWE can revisit time and again and the IWC may never tire of it, their chemistry is awesome. Some of the angles have been shit, but that’s more creative than talent. And Harper…as one of the big men of the company, Harper can pull off moves that one would expect from a smaller competitor (I’m still talking about THAT first hurricanrana.) It’ll be interesting to see where they take Harper now that he has been “Set Free” from the Wyatt Family. I can see him having a great singles career…if they don’t shank it like they have with others *cough* Drew McIntyre (Drew Galloway) *cough*

You can get more of Danny than you can handle at his website www.stillrealtome.com. He also co-hosts the best pro wrestling podcast in the world, Still Real To Me, subscribe on iTunes www.stillrealtome.com/itunes. Follow his show on twitter @SRTMpodcast

Tom Clark is the host of Tom Clark’s Main Event podcast, a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a Writer for Whatculture.com

Eric Darsie is known as a ‘common-man’ among his peers, at least he thinks so. He works hard with his hands in the heart of Minnesota and on his free time, he thugs and a bugs with his family and friends. Whenever he doesn’t do that, he’s found to be writing. Now more of a rare thing, he’s gems could be found here. If you would like to see more of Eric’s work outside of the professional world, check him out at http://vintagedarsie.wordpress.com/, http://www.writerscafe.org/Darsie/writing/.

Steven Grossi is a digital video producer who likes to write a little. He’s a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, hardcore MMA fan and a total wrestling nerd. He usually has a strong opinion on anything combat sports related so give him a follow on twitter @SteveOGrossi.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman.

Chris Skoyles is a writer and wrestling fan currently on a mission to review every WWE pay per view from Wrestlemania 1 – 30. Those reviews, and more, can be found on the Retro Pro Wrestling blog (http://allprowrestlingreviews.blogspot.com). Chris tweets at @Retropwrestling.

Jeff Peck is the co-host for the wrestling podcast, “The Still Real to Us Show” and the podcast, “The Bower Show.” You can download the shows over at TheBowerShow.com or WrestleChat.net. You can also follow Jeff on Twitter: @TheJeffPeck and “like” his Facebook pages: Facebook.com/TheStillRealToUsShow and Facebook.com/BowerShow

Atlee Greene is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and host of The Bodyslam Podcast. His other work can be found at Gerweck.net, ForcesofGeek.com, Whatculture.com and his own personal blog. He can be found on Twitter @MidnightLogicGo

Dustin Nichols is a freelance writer, and you can keep track of all of his work on his Facebook page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/DustinNicholsWriter. Oh, and if you like bodybuilding, check out his mom’s official site by clicking the banner below:

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Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho Share Vince McMahon Stories

December 24, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Vince McMahon is something of an enigma in that you can’t get the true Vince experience without working with the man. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose are two guys have worked closely with Vince and they’ve got some interesting stories to tell about the Genetic Jackhammer.

Dean Ambrose was a guest on Chris Jericho’s podcast Talk is Jericho recently. The two-part interview was one of the best Jericho has done in his 101 shows. I found one segment in particular incredibly fascinating and that was when they both shared some off the cuff stories about working with Vince McMahon.

Ambrose’s story was interesting on a couple of levels. One, it reflects how close to the Mr. McMahon character Vince really can be off-camera. Two and most interesting, it discussed that awful mannequin segment Ambrose did on RAW a few months back. In my opinion, this was one of the worst segments of the year and almost killed the Ambrose-Rollins feud immediately. Yet according to Ambrose, Vince loved it and if he had it his way, would have gotten in the ring and massacred the mannequin himself.

“I think sometimes Vince (McMahon” with me, he is living vicariously or acting out certain impulses. (Imitating Vince) I want you to say “You’re going to rip his face off! You take this mannequin and chop his hand off! Yeah, yeah. What else can you do to this mannequin? Rip his hair out!” He’s really into it. I find that there’s some stuff that I am asked to do that Vince is really into.

Jericho responded, “You’re talking about when you brought the mannequin to the ring that was supposed to be Seth Rollins and then you’re tearing it apart and this is Vince’s instructions to you?”

“Yeah, he loved it. He was into it,” responded Ambrose. I was in Vince’s office with this mannequin with this bag of tools laid out on the floor. Vince is just looking at the tools and then looking at the mannequin and describing what he might do to the mannequin. It was like nobody else was in the room. It was like he was in there alone with the mannequin. He was in his own little world. (Imitating Vince again) “This mannequin, what could you do to it? You take this, chop his hand off! You like that mannequin?” I asked Vince in this same conversation, “If I was going to say that I was going to cut his balls off what is the word I’d use for balls?” He said, “Testicles!” with no hesitation. Well testicles is the word we use in wrestling when someone kicks you in the nuts.

Jericho had his own stories about working with Vince. None of which paint him as a man sympathetic to women nor is anything off limits when it comes to his own family.

“I had Stephanie (McMahon) one time with Hunter and something was said along the lines, “Stephanie is my precious little flower” and I said, “Stephanie lost her flower a long time ago”. I said (asking Vince), “Can I say that?” Vince goes, “Yes but just make sure you pause after to let the crowd cheer and react.” So it’s like, yeah you can call my daughter a slut, just make sure you let the crowd pop before you continue. That’s him.

“I did a thing once where I was doing something with Chyna and he wanted me to smash her thumb with a hammer because she wore gloves all of the time. (Imitating Vince) We’ll take the glove out, we’ll put a sausage in there and you’ll smash it with a hammer.” I asked, “Is that legal? Am I going to get arrested?” He’s like, “Creative license!”

I’ll tell you what. The WWE Network needs subscribers, stick a camera in Vince’s office during creative meetings, call it the Vince Cam, put it on the network and I think you’ll have one of the greatest reality television shows possible. A guy can dream right?

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The 25 Lamest WWE PPV Endings Ever

December 23, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It didn’t take long for Dean Ambrose’s exploding-television mishap (Magnavox Overdrive?) to become subject of ridicule. The fact that Ambrose is winless in all pay-per-view bouts post-Shield split (that’s since June 2) only makes an incendiary monitor more the source of caustic feeling.

The ending of a WWE pay-per-view is generally the lasting impression left on viewers. There may have been some enjoyably crisp match in the undercard (certainly the Dolph Ziggler/Luke Harper ladder match from TLC fits this profile), which may have to yield in the face of a thudding finish. Ambrose being defeated by technology, an incident more likely to do in Cosmo Kramer or Kenny McCormack than wily-whackjob Ambrose, is such a thud.

Over the years, harebrained ideas have punctuated these events, earning their rightful place in negative lore. Your mileage may vary, and with all matters wrestling among distinct fan tastes it will, but I’ve concocted a list of what I feel are the 25 most absurd final acts in WWE pay-per-view history.

CAVEAT 1: this list doesn’t necessary include instances where ‘the wrong guy went over’. That’s certainly subjective. You’re better off writing, “25 times I think Triple H and John Cena should have put someone over.” Now THAT’S a subjective list. But there are a few examples littered in here.

CAVEAT 2: Montreal is disqualified. No incident that turns Vince McMahon into the grandest of villains for Steve Austin to combat with weekly, spurring wrestling’s vaunted Attitude Era into the highest of gears, can count as lame. Unfair to Bret Hart? You can pick a side. Lame? Hardly.

CAVEAT 3: Chances are, you’re going to see something on this list that you personally enjoyed. That’s what friendly debate is for. I once inducted WrestleMania XXVII into WrestleCrap and I still get raked over the coals from time to time for it. Once again, this is all subjective. Just play along, if you would.

CAVEAT 4: For those who DO take offense to anything written, keep in mind it’s almost always written with a playful grin than with a scowl. So many of these moments provided unintentional bits of comedy, how *can* you hate them? Wrestling is fun, even when it’s garbage. Sometimes it takes years to see the humor in these happenings, and other times it’s instant. But hey, it’s why we still watch.

And now, here go the list.

25. THE WHAT GENERATION? (King of the Ring, June 19, 1994)

In 1994, WWE earnestly promoted its hard-hitting, fast-paced “New Generation”, with prime talents like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels leading the way. To contradict this fresh sentiment, the King of the Ring closed with Jerry Lawler wrestling Rowdy Roddy Piper, both men well into their forties. While both men have forged storied legacies, this match is best left out.

Piper fought the insipid Lawler for the right to donate his ‘winning money’ to a Toronto children’s hospital, and Lawler was set on stopping him, like something out of a Marx Brothers movie. The match felt just as aged, and the slow finish didn’t help: Piper hitting a slow-motion back suplex with an awkward bridge that Lawler somehow could not escape.

24. A GRADUAL BURIAL (Rock Bottom, December 13, 1998)

Stone Cold Steve Austin could do no wrong in 1998. It goes without saying that bits like whacking Vince McMahon with a bedpan, or humoring McMahon’s attempt at making him over in corporate stylings, could have bombed with a performer of lesser personality. Austin’s cool factor buoyed many moments, even ones that were just beyond his control.

Closing out 1998, Austin would defeat the increasingly-Satantic Undertaker in a Buried Alive match. While Undertaker lay prone in the grave, Austin instructed a backhoe operator to pile on the dirt. After fidgeting with the controls, to noticeable crowd groans, the driver managed to dump the soil on after what felt like an agonizing hour, with a possibly comatose ‘Taker.

23. MONTREAL: THE SEARCH FOR MORE MONEY (Breaking Point, September 13, 2009)

While Montreal, polarizing as the moment remains, was undeniably the source of great growth for a blissfully-seedy WWE, attempts to rip it off have been lacking. Survivor Series 1998 gets points only for the Rock-Mankind double-turn. Other occurrences of ‘ringing the f–king bell’ since only make the home viewer want to smash their monitors, a la Bret Hart.

At WWE’s lone Breaking Point event, highlighting submission matches, World Champion CM Punk defeated Undertaker in a criminally short match when that bell f–king rang as ‘Taker was in the process of countering the Anaconda Vice. The sort-of explanation: a galvanized Teddy Long orchestrated the screwjob to impress Vince McMahon. Well, it WAS in Montreal….

22. PAY IT OFF ANOTHER TIME (Unforgiven, September 22, 2002)

One major change from the Attitude Era’s closing was, to a degree, serious slowing down of storylines. The good: an exciting story has time to breathe and build (see: Jericho vs. Michaels, 2008). The bad: you’re liable to get a screwy finish on pay-per-view, with the rematch coming the following month. At $45-55 a pop, this can be very irksome to tight-budget viewers.

A fresh-faced Brock Lesnar had just become WWE Champion, and warred with Undertaker in a decent brawl that ended after 20 minutes with a double-DQ that was simply rare in post-Attitude, re-education-filled 2002. The Los Angeles fans blew a gasket in response, and rightly so. The Hell in a Cell rematch a month later is legendary, though the road there had this pothole.

21. TV TAPING (Extreme Rules, April 25, 2010)

There’s two ideas that clash like oil and water: the concept of violent wrestling, and the Bugs Bunny-like comic mischief of John Cena. Hey, Hulk Hogan did plenty of goofy stuff in his matches (many of his Saturday Night’s Main Event moments are beautiful in their intricate silliness), and Cena certainly runs to that well in order to ‘create smiles’, per company mantra.

Cena and Batista put together a pretty good Last Man Standing match for the WWE Championship, and Cena did emerge as ‘last man standing’. That’s because Cena duct-taped Batista’s ankles around the ringpost, taking just long enough for the 300-pound Batista to look foolish in his inability to kick his muscular legs free. Admittedly, that stuff is potent.

20. THE RIGHT/WRONG MAN (In Your House: Triple Header, September 24, 1995)

Bait and switch, thy name is Titan. Immediately following SummerSlam 1995, WWE went into hype overdrive for the third In Your House, booking a true rarity: a match in which the World, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Titles would be on the line. Diesel and Shawn Michaels would defend their respective belts against tag champs Owen Hart and Yokozuna.

Hart would end up making the PPV late following the birth of his daughter Athena, but that only triggered an obvious escape clause. Davey Boy Smith, freshly-turned heel on Diesel, substituted for his brother-in-law. Late in the bout, Owen ran in from out of nowhere, and was immediately powerbombed and pinned by Diesel. The title change was nullified the following morning.

19. WWE LOSES CONTROL (Cyber Sunday, November 5, 2006)

Any sort of celebrity endorsement of WWE is gratefully accepted like a sandwich by a beggar. There is literally almost no D-or-E-lister that WWE won’t latch onto for a quick sniff. These days, middle-of-the-road TV stars are the preferred wagons to hitch to, though WWE has a history of scraping Hollywood’s barrel base for some sort of bad-boy connection. Enter Kevin Federline.

Remember Britney Spears’ ex-husband? At this time, ‘K-Fed’ released a unanimously-panned rap album, Playing With Fire, and WWE’s Attitude-lite product was attempting to make him their new Mike Tyson. Federline cost John Cena the World Heavyweight Title in a triple threat match via distraction, beat him on Raw two months later, and then vanished forever.

18. GASSED CHAMBER (SummerSlam, August 24, 2003)

The case against Triple H from diehard wrestling fans can be extensive, but give the man credit: his pedigree, pun intended, of great matches is a lengthy one, and he’s capable of delivering a believable main event. This wasn’t always the case; in 2003, as World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H reached a career nadir with Raw in a slump, and he quite literally couldn’t carry things.

By SummerSlam, Triple H was badly out of shape, thanks to a serious thigh/groin injury that kept him from working out to his overzealous liking. This meant in SummerSlam’s Elimination Chamber title defense, Helmsley (in garish bicycle shorts) watched Goldberg pulverize everyone before pinning “The Man” with a solitary sledgehammer blow, doing two minutes of work.

17. PULLING THE STRINGS (King of the Ring, June 27, 1999)

One of the en vogue story tropes of the Attitude Era was the “WHODUNNIT” mystery. Who ran down Austin in the parking lot? Who hit Kevin Nash with the Hummer truck? Who is the Higher Power? After Vince McMahon was hastily revealed as that last shrouded figure, the mysteries lost their luster considerably. At least the Higher Power, though, had a payoff.

Steve Austin battled Vince and son Shane for total control of WWE at King of the Ring in a ladder match, with the ownership certificates suspended in a briefcase above the ring. Austin had the match won, and made his climb, when the briefcase was suddenly jerked out of Austin’s reach. The McMahons won full power, and the assailant was never, ever revealed.

16. THIS IS A RECORDING (Over the Limit, May 22, 2011)

John Cena doesn’t quit. Period. Wisenheimer fans will note that Kurt Angle and the redacted Chris Benoit have made Cena tap (for $9.99, you can watch Angle do it at No Mercy 2003), but those are bits of buried history in the primary narrative. Cena, unless he turns heel, is never submitting. Otherwise, those hand-towels he displays are worthless. Well, even more so.

After tormenting WWE Champion Cena in an I Quit match, The Miz managed to draw a submission with a chair-shot beating. The referee then deciphered that it was a recording of Cena previously saying the words in a promo, via Alex Riley’s cell phone lying near Cena’s head. Cena came to life, chased Miz up the rampway, and made him submit seconds later.

15. HELP ME, OBI-WYATT (Hell in a Cell, October 26, 2014)

If the feud between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins has not truly ended, then this entry wouldn’t be so bad. As it stands, it’s a detour for WWE’s best feud of 2014 (assuming it picks up in 2015 sometime). That doesn’t extinguish the randomness of the moment, as well as the all-too excessive nature of what took place. It did take away from an enjoyable brawl.

As Ambrose and Rollins concluded their violent-minus-blood Hell in a Cell bout, Ambrose was about to win when *gasp* the lights went out. Some sort of plain-spoken Middle-Eastern chant was played on loop for what felt like hours. Then a hologram of Bray Wyatt appeared over a smoking lantern in the ring. Wyatt appeared, randomly attacked Ambrose, and Rollins won.

14. SOME PARTING GIFT, BROTHER (WrestleMania VIII, April 5, 1992)

WWE began something of a free-fall in 1992, in regards to a major roster purge. By year’s end, The Ultimate Warrior, Davey Boy Smith, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Legion of Doom, and Sid Justice would all leave the company. Hulk Hogan, the biggest star WWE had known by a country mile, was finishing after WrestleMania VIII, a fact that the company vaguely hyped as true.

Hogan headlined against Sid in what was a pretty bland match, building to the Hogan Formula Finish. That’s when Sid kicked out of the legdrop in a shocker, purportedly because an interfering Papa Shango was late. The fact that WrestleMania ended with a disqualification was a considerable letdown, even with Ultimate Warrior making the save in a startling return.

13. OH, THAT’S WHY THEY…. (Royal Rumble, January 29, 2006)

In the 1990s, the company experimented three straight years with putting the World Title match on after the Rumble match. WWE soon figured out that nothing could follow the one-hour tradition, and by 1999, they reverted back to closing the event with the signature gauntlet. An exception has been made twice since: 2013, so Rock could close, and this mind-boggler.

In 2006, the 30-man classic went on fourth out of six matches. Kurt Angle and an ice-cold Mark Henry went on last for the World Title in a plodding affair, headshaking until Angle’s victory celebration. Undertaker arrived on a chariot and caused the ring to collapse as a means of challenging Angle. Boy, good thing WWE changed the match order before that supernatural act.

12. DEAL WITH IT (Royal Rumble, January 26, 2014)

A rare entry on this list that exclusively criticizes the choice of winner than an actual convoluted finish. You won’t need much reminding: Daniel Bryan was by the time the most popular wrestler in the industry, shaking off pointless refuge in the Wyatt Family by destroying the trio in a memorable conclusion to Raw, with the thunderous crowd “YESes” shaking the venue.

Two weeks later, WWE excluded Bryan from the Royal Rumble match, having him put Bray Wyatt over cleanly to start the show. As the crowd gradually grew more sour, an unwelcome Batista ended up winning the Rumble match. When Rey Mysterio entered at No. 30, the realization of Bryan’s absence drew the sort of caustic rage that every heel dreams of.

11. STEP ASIDE, JABRONIES (WrestleMania XXVII, April 3, 2011)

When The Rock made an unexpected return on the February 14 Raw, shockwaves coursed. It’d been seven years since “The Great One” made any sort of meaningful appearance in an actual WWE arena. The Attitude cornerstone would take on the dreaded ‘guest host’ role at WrestleMania, though his diatribes against John Cena were positively right out of 1999.

Problem: Cena wasn’t facing Rock. Instead, Cena was challenging WWE Champion The Miz, with whom he had as unspectacular a main event as you could have on the biggest stage. Miz wound up retaining after Rock cost Cena the match. Then Miz would ‘know his role’ by getting Rock Bottom’d in the aftermath, leaving Rock, a non-wrestler, as the only man standing tall.

10. GREAT MAIN EVENT? NO CHANCE (Royal Rumble, January 24, 1999)

As the previous entry suggests, a bad main event is made much worse with a ridiculous ending. A bad match that lasts one hour and has an equally insulting finish? Much worse, as you’d probably guess. When a bad Royal Rumble came down to the first two entrants, a barely-active Steve Austin and Vince McMahon, jaded fans half-heartedly expected a swerve, which they got.

After Austin beat McMahon half to death, with a World Title match hanging in the balance, he didn’t eliminate the boss, choosing to inflict more damage. This brought The Rock out to distract Austin, giving carte blanche to years of distraction finishes. A suddenly stupid Austin fell under Rock’s spell and tangled with him, allowing the cadaver of Vince to dump Stone Cold.

9. SPONSORED BY JIMMY-JOBS (Extreme Rules, April 29, 2012)

Brock Lesnar’s return following a bountiful UFC run created plenty of excitement. His post-WrestleMania arrival, in which he F5’ed John Cena, nearly blew the roof off of the arena. The vignettes hyping their match four weeks later at Extreme Rules were a paradox of simple, and outside-the-box. Lesnar was now a crossover star, the magnitude of which WWE covets.

So then after bloodying Cena with stiff blows, and nearly breaking the man’s arm with a kimura lock, Lesnar would lose the high-profile bout cleanly. Making matters more confusing was a post-match Cena promo, in which he claimed he may be going away for a while to rest. Not only did Cena not go anywhere, but it undermined the marquee return of beastly megastar.

8. CRANE POSITION (Survivor Series, November 19, 2000)

When topping a heinous act with a measure of revenge, never underestimate WWE’s ability to veer too far into the realm of the absurd. One year earlier at Survivor Series, Steve Austin would be struck by a car in a plot masterminded by Triple H (with Rikishi as the driver). Austin and HHH would war one year later. In Attitude Era WWE, they knew they had to top a speedy rundown.

The match spilled all over the arena, and into the parking lot. Austin fought off the interfering Radicalz, while an ill-tempered Triple H started up a nearby car. As he started it up, Austin appeared inside a crane, lifted the car a few stories off the ground, and let it drop with Helmsley inside. Instead of being, well, dead, Helmsley reappeared not long after with nary a scratch on his body.

7. PLOD DEVICE (No Way Out, February 20, 2005)

One of the common elements on the list: the sudden stupidity of babyfaces. For many of these ideas to ‘work’, the purported hero has to lose 50 IQ points at the worst possible time. Take the barbed wire steel cage match for the WWE Title between JBL and Big Show. On many occasions, Show has played the ogre-like fool, but none moreso than the ending of this No Way Out.

The bloody affair saw Show chokeslam JBL off the top rope, through the actual canvas. Instead of dragging JBL out of the pit and pinning him (Nick Patrick was officiating in the ring), Show slowly kicked open the locked door, walked 1.3 MPH out of the opening, and slowly walked down the steps. Surprise: JBL won when he crawled into the pit, and out from under the ring.

6. TV IS BAD FOR YOU (TLC, December 14, 2014)

I feel fairly confident with the high placement of this entry. Factoring in that Dean Ambrose hasn’t won a pay-per-view bout since June 1, in spite of the favorable reception he receives for his masterful selling, mannerisms, and presentation, WWE has yet to really throw him a bone in his singles run. The ending of TLC has become a new running gag, rightfully so.

Branching off the “sudden stupidity” theory from the previous entry, Ambrose had Bray Wyatt beaten following a car-crash of a TLC match. That wasn’t enough, so Ambrose brings in a plugged-in monitor from under the ring, admires himself in it, and tries to nail Wyatt, only for the plugs to explode and blind him. Say it with me now: Sister Abigail for the pin.

5. SHOW STOPPER (Battleground, October 6, 2013)

Battleground wound up earning the honor of Worst WWE PPV of 2013 across most outlets, and it’s easy to see why. Other than the Rhodes Brothers taking on the Shield, everything else ranged from dull to downright bad. The PPV was the third paying installment of the Daniel Bryan/Randy Orton/Abeyance World Title angle, so at least there’d be a payoff, right?

After 20 minutes of wrestling, Bryan had Orton enveloped in the Yes Lock, only for Big Show to jog down, pull the ref, and lay out Bryan with the WMD, at the behest of Brad Maddox. Show pulled a second referee after a change of heart and then KO’ed Orton, who he was supposed to be helping. Sixty of your dollars later, and the belt remained vacant until the next PPV.

4. EARLIER SHOW STOPPER (Over the Limit, May 20, 2012)

This one features all of the elements of a bad finish: hacky comedy, a plot hole, a bad match, and a worse ending. John Laurinaitis was forced into action against John Cena, with his job on the line. Anyone who interfered would be fired. There’d be no disqualifications otherwise, allowing Cena to drag the former Johnny Ace through some ha-ha-larious predicaments.

Days before the match, a surly Laurinaitis had fired Big Show on Raw. After 15 minutes of Cena pounding Laurinaitis (he could have pinned him at any time), the VP tries to escape, only to conveniently run into a loitering Show. Show brings him back, and then KO’s Cena in a swerve. You know, after Laurinaitis nearly lost a bunch of times. Ace wins, and Show was rehired.

3. GET EM, HULK! (WrestleMania IX, April 4, 1993)

Anyone shedding tears over Hogan’s half-hearted farewell one year earlier will either be overjoyed at the end of WrestleMania IX, or be further appalled. As WWE’s roster shifted into promoting gifted workers with realistic bodies, Bret Hart became its flagbearer and World Champion. A match with portly Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX would put him over strongly.

Hart lost, somehow knocked unconscious by salt to the eyes. This brought out a suddenly-slimmer Hogan to protest this great injustice. Then Mr. Fuji stupidly challenged Hogan to a title match on the spot. Seconds later, Hogan beat Yokozuna to become champion, wiping The Hitman off the slate completely. Hogan then devalued the belt while touring New Japan.

2. STARS AND SWERVES FOREVER (SummerSlam, August 30, 1993)

After Hogan vanished following his title loss back to big Yoko, WWE did not reinsert Hart back into the picture. Instead, they stripped Lex Luger of his ho-hum Narcissist persona, costumed him in all colors Americana, effectively trying to make him the new Hogan. Luger slammed Yokozuna in a public challenge on the Fourth of July, and seemed poised to win the gold.

After Yokozuna’s spokesman Jim Cornette deemed this Lex’s *only* shot at Yokozuna, the two proceeded to actually have a good match. Luger would indeed win, but by countout. Using the steel plate in his forearm, Luger blasted Yoko and knocked him out cold, but through the ropes. Luger celebrated with other babyfaces while balloons and confetti fell, but without the title.

1. LEGACY CEMENTED (Great American Bash, June 27, 2004)

The Undertaker has had his share of unrealistic storylines, many unworthy of equaling the supernatural grace he so easily portrays. In 2004, Undertaker reassumed his ‘Dead Man’ image after a few years performing as an amped-up version of his real life grizzled biker self. With the return to the Dark Side came the package deal of far-fetched incidences as well.

At this event, Undertaker faced the Dudley Boyz in a handicap match with Paul Bearer (back on Taker’s side) sitting in a clear cubicle. If Taker didn’t lay down, Paul Heyman would authorize dumping wet cement on him. The goop built, but Taker won anyway. Then, for reasons unknown, Undertaker himself filled the cubicle, presumably killing Bearer. This wasn’t a heel turn, by the way.

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Can Dean Ambrose Sustain His Current Style?

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

Professional wrestlers work under incredible conditions and a schedule that is not only time consuming, but also takes away life outside the ring because of travel and guest appearances and training and workouts and just about everything that would be considered normal. That’s why the “job” isn’t for everyone. A strong mentality as well as a strong will are paramount for success.

Sometimes, however, that will and mentality takes a wrestler to the brink. Taking bumps off the ropes or from 10 feet in the air takes a major toll on the body, the mind and the spirit. The roads traveled of wrestlers of the past like Ric Flair, Terry Funk and Jake Roberts are well chronicled. Those greats dealt with demons and pain that still haunt them to this day. Roberts has put his life back together while Flair and Funk still have issues staying away from the ring that made them great.

Now that the WWE has brought back many of the hardcore rules that made superstars of Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer and the Dudley’s, can the same be said for Dean Ambrose as his schedule and amount of abuse he takes in the ring? Will this new “hardcore” legend feel the efforts of pounding after pounding each night? Wrestling the likes of Bray Wyatt has become the norm for Ambrose, who performs with chairs, Kendo sticks and tables and now televisions on a nightly basis, only to see his body battered like raw meat. Will the company that has helped to make him a star be the one that leads to his demise as a cult hero and cause damage to his psyche, his body and his soul in years down the road?

Ric Flair talked openly about his life on the road and how it affected him, allowing him to live the life of a rock star, drink each night, party with hundreds, maybe thousands of women. He talked about wrestling night after night, going 60 minutes per match and bleeding, falling off top ropes and enduring body slam after body slam. Flair’s “punishment” for his decades of performing with a world title in hand has left him a bitter man and a broken man. But in comparison, the schedule Ambrose is running right now, taking abuse with chair shot after chair shot may lead to a shorter shelf life in the WWE.

I make the analogy because the WWE may have already cost one superstar, Daniel Bryan, his career. The toll his body has taken in the past two years has led to surgeries on his neck that have rendered him injured and on the “Disabled List” for the company. While other wrestlers have suffered the same fate of injuries that could have put them out of action for good (Kurt Angle with his neck injury), Ambrose has not had the “big one” – yet.

But based on his current run it could be the defining moment that stops this “Innovator of Abuse” in his tracks. While I would love to see the company bring back the Hardcore Championship so Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and the like could excel at what they do best, it is also the most hazardous of titles and with some much being made about head and neck injuries of late, it should not be explored.

The WWE fans are not like the fans of old. The 60-minute “Broadway” that defined a wrestler’s endurance kept our attention in the 1970s and 1980s. Wrestlers could pace themselves even through the brutality of enduring punishment meant pain over a longer period of time. Today, shorter matches mean more punishment over smaller pockets and the pain is greater over a longer haul after the fact.

Ambrose isn’t the only wrestler who is feeling this crunch. The same could be said for Wyatt and any host of wrestlers who are extreme as the “Lunatic Fringe” of the WWE. The difference is we see what Ambrose does, which appears to have a more direct effect on him. When he slows down (at some point), will the games he played early in his career lead to a lack of performance late in his career?

At the end of the day, is the abuse really worth it? Only Ambrose and the WWE can answer that.

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WWE Survivor Series 2014 Predictions and Preview

November 20, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

For the first time in almost a decade, the WWE Survivor Series 2014 is headlined by its traditional 10-man elimination tag team match. Team Cena will take on Team Authority in a match with big stakes for one team and Team Helmsley-McMahon.

The good news is that the ten-man elimination tag team match is back as a Survivor Series headliner. The bad news is well…a ten-man elimination tag team match is headlining the 2014 Survivor Series. What made this match so much fun twenty-years ago was that you had dream teams assembled on both sides. Unfortunately competition has given way to parity and a ten-man team today resembles something more like an undercard battle royal.

While we are currently looking at one match on paper, this event is clearly a one-match show. Whether it is creative burn out, a holding pattern, or the attitude that the fans are getting this one for free, the lineup this year leaves a lot to be desired. I have already blogged extensively on that so I won’t go too deep into it here. These last couple of years of parity have left the company with no depth which becomes clear in these kinds of matches.

I am only going to pick with the top matches as the undercard is fairly irrelevant on this show. Now that I have gotten you pumped up for the event, let’s get into the matches and make some picks!

Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev and Luke Harper) in a Traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match; if Team Authority loses, they will no longer be in power. If Team Cena loses, all team members will be fired from WWE

I do want to say something positive about this match. It has enormous potential to be a lot of fun. There are some real solid workers here, some who rarely get this kind of opportunity to shine. Unfortunately some of those guys will probably have quick exits due to the nature of the match. However, some may be given time, especially if they survive deep into the match to tear make an impact and tear the house down.

In case you missed it, a new stipulation was added to the match which deems that every member of Team Cena will be fired if Team Cena loses. I think the fact that the stipulation will be added only two days before the event tells you everything you need to know about the importance. Let’s be honest. Nobody other than some new younger fans are buying this stipulation and the fact that it was a mere throwaway tells me that the WWE doesn’t believe it will draw any more interest to the match.

I predict that this one will come down to Cena and Rowan vs. Rollins, Harper, and Rusev. I would have to guess that Harper and Rowan will have some cool stuff planned. I was fairly confident before the new stipulation that the match would finish with Rusev beating Cena. Rusev has to remain strong, so does Cena, but there is a potential WrestleMania match to start building with these two. I can’t imagine the stupidity in booking Cena to beat Rusev but where else do they go here? Cena needs to stay strong going into the Rumble so I think he wins.

I wouldn’t be surprised whatsoever to see Randy Orton cost Rollins the match. You’d almost expect some payback at this show from Orton and they are in St. Louis. My new prediction is Cena winning by eliminating Rollins thanks to interference from the Viper. There is no other city in America that they can count on better than Orton’s hometown to give him a huge pop and put this angle over. I don’t know what this accomplishes other than furthering an angle between the Authority vs. Vince McMahon for Mania.

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt

I don’t know how they did it but the WWE has done a tremendous job of killing any potential interest I had in this feud. The promos thus far have been lame and I am still trying to figure out why Wyatt interfered at Hell in a Cell. I think this feud continues through the Rumble which makes me think that Wyatt gets the win here with Ambrose getting his win back on the next show.

AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella for the WWE Divas title

Who would have expected to see this much Nikki Bella in the ring? Even more strange is that she has actually turned into a decent wrestler. There are a ton of rumors out there that indicate AJ is leaving after this show. I think where there is smoke there is fire but what about Brie? This match sets up a perfect scenario where Brie costs Nikki the title. I think the WWE pull a swerve here and put AJ over, knowing the rumors are out there and save AJ’s loss for an event in the near future.

Gold and Stardust (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship

I have no problem watching the Rhodes brothers wrestle the Usos again but this one can get a little hairy. These matches can be either really good or a real cluster. I think it will be decent as you have a lot of solid workers in here to keep it together. I think the WWE recognizes that they have something brewing with The Miz and Mizdow. For whatever reason and I have no idea why, they have caught on, mostly due to the fans enjoying Mizdow. So why not book a title change here? I think Miz and Mizdow leave St. Louis with gold.

Full WWE Survivor Series 2014 card and matches…
Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan and Ryback) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev and Luke Harper) in a traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match; if Team Authority loses, they will no longer be in power. If Team Cena loses, all team members will be fired from WWE.
AJ Lee (c) vs. Nikki Bella for the WWE Divas Championship
Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt
Gold and Stardust (c) vs. The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Miz and Damien Mizdow in a Fatal 4-Way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Alicia Fox, Emma, Naomi and Natalya vs. Paige, Cameron, Layla and Summer Rae in a Divas Traditional Survivor Series elimination tag team match
Fandango vs. TBA

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WWE Is Trending Up

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

WWE Hell in a Cell is in the rearview mirror and we are on the road to Survivor Series. With all that’s occurred over the past few weeks, there are quite a few things to discuss in regards to the direction of the WWE. As usual, there’s some good and some bad. There are still some depth issues, but they are not as glaring today because there’s some really decent action and programs taking place. Here are my thoughts on the current events in the WWE.

Team Authority vs Team Cena
Last week on RAW Mr. McMahon made an appearance to up the stakes of the traditional Survivor Series match between Team Authority and Team Cena. We all know by now that if The Authority loses, they are no longer The Authority. This week, it seems, as though the teams are pretty much set, and boy was I way off with my predictions. As of now, it looks like it will be Cena, Ziggler, Sheamus, Big Show and Ryback taking on Seth Rollins, Kane, Mark Henry, Rusev and Luke Harper. This isn’t at all what I was expecting because of how big they were talking this up. With all that’s at stake, I believed Triple H would put himself in the match. It does not seem as though he will be performing at Survivor Series. Sounds like Randy Orton will be out of commission for a couple weeks, but I’m still very confident he’ll make his way into the match and on Cena’s team. I will go into this more below as he’s built far too much momentum to be left out of this storyline.

John Cena
John Cena defeated Randy Orton at Hell in a Cell earning himself another matchup with the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar. I’m sure that I am not alone with my feelings about this, but I can’t stand this decision. They had a perfect opportunity to do something fresh between Orton and Lesnar and they missed it. I know Orton has Seth Rollins and The Authority to deal with, but Orton versus Lesnar would have been extremely refreshing. I don’t know what it’s going to take for Cena to go away, but I think I’m ready for it. He continuously ruins great opportunities and kills the momentum of other super stars. His promo game is old as well. Yes John, we know you are on TV every week (unless you have a movie to shoot), working your ass off. It’s impossible to miss you on television, but it’s so nice when you’re away. Things will get even worse if he ends up beating Brock for the title, which I really don’t expect to happen. I just wish he were more humble and willing to play the game.

The program he has going into Survivor Series is nothing new. Some of the stuff going on around him is great, but Cena being the leader of the baby face team does nothing for me. This program will give him the opportunity to plant the seeds for future programs. For example, there’s a lot of buzz that Cena will end up getting into a feud with Rusev at some point. As usual, I’d expect Cena to end Rusev’s impressive streak and ultimately kill everything he has been building, just like he did with Bray Wyatt. I’m not ready to give a prediction on the Survivor Series match but one can only hope that Cena and the WWE do the right thing going forward.

Randy Orton
Like I mentioned above, a huge opportunity was missed when Orton lost to Cena at Hell in a Cell. Instead of Brock Lesnar being his next feud, he will now be going after Seth Rollins and The Authority. After his awesome RKO out of nowhere on Rollins a couple weeks ago and The Authorities beat down last week, Orton’s baby face turn is complete. I’m not a huge fan of Orton as a face, but in this story line, I absolutely love it. He will be the bad ass that he always is and will do everything to spoil The Authorities plans. I don’t fully understand the plan to pull him off TV while he’s on a roll like this but at the same time I can see what they are doing. I fully expect him to make a big return and end up on Team Cena at Survivor Series. If done correctly, he could become even hotter than he is right now. As much as I want Orton to be feuding with Brock, going up against The Authority is the next best thing and it could be really good.

Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt made his long awaited return at Hell in a Cell, attacking Dean Ambrose and causing him to lose his match with Rollins. I’m an admitted supporter of Wyatt and I was really enjoying his new promos and was hoping for a big return. I’m still not sure I loved when his return happened, but I love the program with Dean Ambrose. I will get into a bit more soon, but Ambrose should have won and Bray could have still made the same impact with his return. The Wyatt Family versus The Shield was awesome so there’s no reason to think that Bray versus Dean won’t be as good, if not better. Their promos have been spectacular and the in-ring (and out of ring) action will be great. If Bray’s promos from RAW and Smackdown are an indication as to what we can expect from them going forward, sign me up for a nice long program.

Dean Ambrose
I say it every time I see him on TV, but Dean Ambrose is the best thing going in the WWE right now and I stand by that. Unfortunately, the WWE doesn’t seem to agree with me. There are zero reasons that I can think of as to why Ambrose should not have beaten Rollins clean at Hell in a Cell. After an amazing performance headlining a pay-per-view, it seems as though he will be relegated to the upper mid-card. I couldn’t imagine a feud with Bray being a main event caliber program. On paper it definitely could be, but I don’t see the WWE putting them ahead of anything Cena, Orton or Rollins related. In the past few weeks they’ve been going at it, I’ve enjoyed it more than anything else going on with the product. Ambrose has someone who can hang with him on the mic and in the ring. As long as he’s on TV every week doing his thing, I’ll be happy. At some point, I hope he gets the main event push that he deserves.

Brock Lesnar
John Cena made it very clear that Brock is at home and not on TV every week and as we all know by now; Brock will be putting his Championship on the line against Cena. I’ve stated this many times before, but I have no problem with the Champion being at home and not on TV. When Brock is there, you’ll know that it means something. Since Brock is not there, we do need a lot more Paul Heyman. He’s the best talker in the company and he’s very much needed right now. A single Heyman promo makes a decent show, a great one.

Seth Rollins
I really don’t have too much to say about Rollins. I think he’s doing a spectacular job in his role as the company’s new top heel. JR talks about the traits of a great heel all the time on his podcast and blog and he fits it to a T. He not only has a pair of bodyguards, which I love, he’s the master of the retreat and will win at all costs. Obviously, with Brock at home working a part-time schedule, he won’t be cashing in any time soon. I personally would love to see him cash-in when Roman Reigns wins the title at WrestleMania. We all know that Reigns will be coming after Rollins when he makes his return, so he might as well make it extremely high drama and have Mr. Money in the Bank cash-in on his former Shield brother.

Hulk Hogan
When Hulk Hogan was done with TNA and it was announced that he was going to be making a return to WWE, I was extremely excited. He was the host of WrestleMania and that was an incredible moment with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Outside of that, he’s been nothing more than a walking promo that struggles with his lines. When he comes out, it’s nothing special anymore and I personally feel that the WWE is wasting their opportunity with him. They really have nothing better for Hulk Hogan? If all they want from him is promo content, they should just stop because it’s not worth it, he deserves better than that.

Other Quick Notes
Unlike most, I am not a Ryback hater. I always felt he got a bad rap because of the way he was handled. He was pushed all the way to the top way too quickly and he crashed. That’s a tough thing to recover from. This week, he finished RAW standing tall as the destroyer that he is. It looks as though he will be a baby face going forward and

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