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WWE Extreme Rules 2015 Results: Rollins Retains, Reigns Stands Tall

April 26, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins Extreme Rules 2015WWE kicked off the post-WrestleMania season with Extreme Rules. Seth Rollins barely escaped with the WWE title, John Cena and Rusev took their heated rivalry to yet another level with a Russian Chain match, and Roman Reigns stood tall over the Big Show on a show that exceeded most expectations going in.

Seth Rollins retained the WWE title over Randy Orton in a cage match. Good match here but really hurt following the madness of Show and Reigns. This match was wrestled like an old school style cage match as it started out very slow and grueling. I’ll give them credit as the crowd stuck with it, even with the slow start. J&J Security appeared at one point to try and pull Rollins down. Orton pulled him back into the cage and super-plexed him off of the top. The story at the end was Orton seemingly had a chance to leave the cage but he preferred to pin Rollins instead. Orton stalled around for a bit and hit a Pedigree for a two-count. The fans were going nuts for Orton with “Yes!” chants. Orton then set Rollins up for a punt. Rollins ducked and hit an enizguiri. Rollins yelled at Kane to open the door which he did. Orton pulled Rollins back in and hit a back breaker. Orton tried to walk out and Kane shut the door on him. Rollins wound up dropkicking the door and knocking Kane out. Orton and Rollins wrestled at the door. Kane slammed the door on the heads of both guys with the announcers questioning who the target was. Kane took his jacket off and went after Rollins. J&J got in his face and were chokeslammed. Kane teased chokeslamming Rollins and wound up chokeslamming Orton instead. Rollins went for the door and was dragged back in by Kane. Kane chokeslammed Rollins. Kane draped Rollins over Orton. Orton kicked out. Orton hit an RKO on Kane. Rollins then hit an RKO on Orton and crawled through the door to escape the cage and retain the title. The announcers argued whether the RKO was banned for both, seemingly setting up the story for a rematch at Payback.

It would appear that the direction they are going in will be Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns and Orton at Payback. I thought it was odd that they played a Payback commercial in the beginning of the show which promoted Reigns seeking revenge on Rollins. Regardless, Rollins is clicking as a champion. The crowd hates him yet seemed highly interested in his match from start to finish. I think the stuff with Kane is fine (the crowd absolutely loved it) but it’s a little distracting at this point with everything else going on. Overall I think Rollins did a great job headlining his first WWE PPV/Special Event as WWE champion. The booking of Rollins as a heel WWE champion has been nothing short of excellent thus far.

John Cena defeated Rusev in a Chain Match. Whether it was better than WrestleMania or not is a matter of opinion. I thought it was pretty good but maybe not quite at the level of Mania. The fans were into it and rarely will you see a WWE crowd going crazy for John Cena after a victory. This was your typical Russian Chain Match that saw each guy trying to hit all four corners. The end came when both guys hit three corner subsequently. Cena wound up getting Rusev into an A.A. allowing him enough time to touch the fourth corner and win the match. The big story of the match was Rusev sending Lana back to the locker room. They had a vignette after the match which saw Rusev yell at Lana and send her into the Authority’s office.

John Cena and Rusev will wrestle at Payback in an I-Quit Match. Most expected that to be the stipulation at Extreme Rules whereas the chain match came as a surprise. I’ll be honest. I can’t think of many Cena post-WrestleMania feuds I wasn’t burnt out on after one or two matches. I have no problem with a fourth match here. All of their matches have been different, none boring which is more than I could say about Cena’s post-Mania feud with Bray Wyatt last year. I’d hate to see Cena go 3-0 on Rusev at this point but I have no problem with this. It should be pretty damned good, especially if it is the final match in the feud.

Roman Reigns defeated the Big Show in a Last Man Standing match. The big spot in the match was Reigns getting up after being chokeslammed over the top rope through two tables. I’d say that the match was way better than anyone probably expected. It started off slow but really picked up towards the end. Show was on the attack for most of the match with Reigns looking to use tables throughout the match. The story of the match was Reigns getting constantly knocked down and getting back up…the same story you saw at WrestleMania. Show cleared out the announcer’s table and set up the ringside stairs next to it. Show wound up going through a table after missing a charge. Reigns speared Show when they got up. Reigns speared Show through the barricade at ringside next. Show tried to chokeslam Reigns on a table. Reigns speared Show while Show was standing through the announcer’s table. Show beat the count. Reigns then buried Show under the announcer’s table and stood on top of it to get the 10-count and the win.

This was not the way I would have liked to see Reigns bounce back after WrestleMania. He struggled just as much if not more with Show than he did with Lesnar. Perception is reality and he continues to be marginalized with this Big Show feud. I would have liked to have seen Reigns more dominant against Show or someone of that caliber. Michael Cole said that “Reigns has arrived tonight” after the match. Lawler repeated the stupid line. You can tell us that as much as you want but all people saw was a guy struggling more with Big Show than he did with Brock Lesnar. The idea that he arrived after beating a guy who has probably lost 75% of his matches on a B-show is laughable.

Reigns will get another shot at the headline spot in a few weeks. He’ll be in the main-event at Payback either against Seth Rollins or a Triple Threat Match with Randy Orton. I don’t think the match tonight hurt him in any way, yet I don’t know if it helped. We’ll see. To his credit the crowd was going crazy for him after the match.

A couple of random notes to wrap this up. The announcing may have been among the worst calls in all of WWE PPV history. The tag team championship match exceeded any of my expectations. Daniel Bryan didn’t wrestle and the word is that his injuries may be worse than what is being reported. The Chicago crowd was into everything all night and one of the best that the WWE has had sans post-Mania RAW shows in a while. The WWE will also be bringing back the King of the Ring tournament to the network.

Full WWE Extreme Rules 2015 results and winners…
Seth Rollins defeated Randy Orton in a Steel Cage Match
Roman Reigns defeated the Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match
John Cena defeated Rusev in a Russian Chain Match
Nikki Bella defeated Cameron
Dean Ambrose defeated Luke Harper in a Chicago Street Fight
New Day defeated Tyson Kidd and Cesaro to win the WWE tag team championship
Dolph Ziggler defeated Sheamus in a Kiss My Arse Match
Neville defeated Bad News Barrett

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Brock Lesnar Goes Ballistic, Ziggler vs.Bryan and Other WWE Thoughts

April 01, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It finally happened. Someone finally stopped the WWE in its tracks.

In what can only be described as the best thing to happen to the WWE since the Mr. McMahon character was created, Brock Lesnar took it upon himself to inflict punishment on the company in the only way he knows how – he destroyed those who got in his way.

Lesnar, who was “screwed” out of the WWE World Title at WrestleMania 31 by Seth Rollins (and subsequently the Authority), took out the WWE announce team and a camera man with F-5’s as a message to the new champion and the company.

It was the best thing that could happen the night after one of the best WrestleMania events in some time. The move also solidified Rollins as public enemy No. 1 and the baddest heel on the planet since Mark Henry’s Hall of Pain when he was the World Heavyweight Champion.

Remaining true to his contract and the storyline, Lesnar was “suspended” by Stephanie McMahon for his actions and fined. The only thing greater would have been if “The Beast” went all Randy Orton on McMahon, which would have delighted the crowd even more.

According to the WWE website, the injuries suffered by announcer Michael Cole as a result of an F-5 may have caused a cervical fracture.

The weekend’s events, including Monday night’s Raw show capped off what has to be a rebirth of the WWE moving forward. And to think it only took four months into 2015 to make that happen. Now, it will be interesting how the company uses the momentum of these events to make things more entertaining as the move to SummerSlam begins.

I for one am now an excited wrestling fan again. Hopefully, the euphoria will not wear off.

Ziggler and Bryan – The Way it was Meant to Be

I have been preaching this for a while. Give the mid card performers like Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan the stage and let them work their magic.

The two stars – and former world champions – were at it again on Raw. As I re-watched the match from Monday night, the show put on by these two was a clinic in what wrestling should be and how performers are supposed to show off. It made me think of the greats from a decade again and beyond like Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage and Arn Anderson. Matches like those don’t get much better and this was a show that could have been a headliner at any pay-per-view event.

I suspect Wade Barrett will get his title rematch for the Intercontinental Title at Extreme Rules, but it will not only be against Bryant but also Ziggler in a Triple Threat event.

Happy April Fool’s Day, Randy Orton

Today is Randy Orton’s birthday (he turns 35, but seems like he has been in the WWE forever). I was curious which past performer or current superstar would celebrate his birth today. Orton wins the prize. I did not talk about Orton’s performance at WrestleMania in his match against Seth Rollins in my last blog. He and Rollins put on another clinic for the fans.

I wonder what happens to Orton in the shuffle of new champions and his place in the company. Both John Cena and Bryan have moved to the mid card. Rollins has been elevated to the top of the food chain and Dolph Ziggler is still ascending again. Wade Barrett will get a title rematch and Lesnar will undoubtedly get his rematch with Rollins at a later date.

Where does this put Orton, who has certainly become the enigma of the company at this point in his career?

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler: Who is the Villain in the WWE IC Ladder Match?

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

Is there any reason to not to believe Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler will steal the show at WrestleMania XXXI?

There are nine days until the event, which is just enough time for the WWE to continue to build the Intercontinental Title Ladder Match as best as it can – which so far has been one of the highlights of the WM pregame. But if you ask me, the idea of a Bryan-Ziggler feud is about as exciting as it can get in the WWE right now, and in creating such a rivalry, it will help re-establish the title once thought to be the stepping stone to becoming the WWF-WWE champion.

Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and Triple H were all title holders before moving on to the golden nugget of the promotion. Ziggler and Bryan have both held the brass ring before, which makes the potential for a solid program moving toward the summer months. I spoke of title unification of the IC Title and the United States Title at SummerSlam between John Cena and Bryan before, but adding Ziggler to the mix, with his ability to take over a match and deliver nightly makes this an even more captivating possibility.

Are you listening, WWE creative? This is the kind of match the fans want to see. This kind of rivalry conjures memories of Michaels and Hart, Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage and Savage and The Ultimate Warrior. In other words, make it so.

For everything Bryan and Ziggler are, they do not have rivals like their predecessors did. Austin had The Rock. Michaels had Hart. Sting had Ric Flair. Savage had Hulk Hogan. That might be the missing link to the decline in ratings, creativity and lack of attention from its fan base. Somewhere along the way, the company has gotten away from its core – the fact that feuds and rivalries mean something in this business.

The basic premise of professional wrestling was established on the idea of a face and a heel and interchangeable parts – meaning characters who could move in and out of those roles. While there was a given that Hulk Hogan was always the main face of the WWF, there were other “role” players who filled in, like Warrior, Savage and Roddy Piper. The next generation had its share as well, with Michaels, Hart, Rock and Austin, however those lines were skewed based on the idea that cheering the heel was a “cool” thing to do.

Now, with a company that promotes the 10-minute match and does not revert back to sensibilities of older fans, it loses steam. A great 30-minute “wrestling match” is just as valuable to its viewership, but ladder matches and other hardcore events lead the way. If this is the case, then Bryan and Ziggler are the ideal paring to face each other in a feud, which I hope leads to a confrontation with Cena with the IC and US Title as part of the program.

The WWE has the talent in the mid card, with Stardust, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose and others (yes add the current IC champion, Wade Barrett to that list) to give the fans the matches they want. The company must use this match as a springboard for the next few months, creating more opportunities for potentially great feuds. Ambrose and Stardust could be one. We have yet to see if that could work. What I am trying to get at here is the WWE started to put all of its eggs in the heavyweight basket, trying to prove it could only find success if the bigger, stronger wrestler led the way. While Vince McMahon is doing his best to accomplish that with Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns, he cannot succeed like he wants to and now, by switching gears a bit, he has created more drama.

And if anyone loves drama, it’s McMahon.

The WWE World Title match may give the company its desired champion, but it still will not appease the fans. Ziggler, Bryan and the mid card does just that.

And to steal a phrase that is picking up some steam with the show of shows less than two weeks away – You Can Believe That.

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WWE Flashback – WrestleMania 28: The Rock Wins, The Undertaker Survives

March 09, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Originally posted April 1, 2012 – It was the old WWE guard that ruled WrestleMania 28. The Rock returned and finally settled his score with John Cena after a year, but it was Triple H and The Undertaker that stole the show and pulled off one of the most dramatic WrestleMania matches in WWE history.

The Rock pinned John Cena in a match that was made by the awesome crowd reaction in Miami. The crowd was about 75/25 in favor of The Rock. The atmosphere alone will certainly make this one a classic. The two opened up trading headlock combinations to a lot of Cena booing. The Rock went for a Sharpshooter early that was countered by Cena rolling out of the ring.

Back in the ring Cena wore The Rock down with a few shoulder tackles and then a clothesline. A “wicked clothesline” according to Michael Cole. Cena then applied an awkward looking bear hug to The Rock. The Rock punched out of it but wound up hitting the floor.

Cena dropped The Rock on the announcer’s table. The Rock was holding his ribs. Cena kicked the ribs and rolled The Rock back inside the ring for a two-count. Cena hit a belly-to-belly suplex on The Rock for another two-count. The Rock powered out but Cena went back to the bear hug. Yes, another bear hug. 1981 called and they want their rest-hold back. The Rock finally hit a DDT to break Cena’s momentum, yet he continued selling the ribs.

The Rock finally hit his usual set of moves and went for The People’s Elbow but was cut off by an STF attempt by Cena. Cena wound up regaining control and dropping a Five Knuckle Shuffle. The Rock slipped out of an A.A. and the two double downed on a clothesline.

Both guys got back up and traded punches. I should point out that Cena was in control for most of the early going here in the match, almost making this look like a squash match. Cena had an answer for everything while The Rock struggled. The fans stayed with it though which kept it strong.

The Rock hit a Rock Bottom out of nowhere for a close fall. Cena recovered again. I don’t even know why they bothered booking the match if they weren’t going to give The Rock much. It really came off like a big squash at this point.

The Rock tackled Cena and applied a Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring. Cena broke the hold on the ropes. Rock went back to the hold. Cena broke the hold again on the ropes. The People’s Champ went to the floor and dropped some elbows and punches on Cena. The Rock sent Cena into the steel stairs. Cena then flipped into the ring and caught The Rock in the middle with an STF.

Once The Rock got out of the STF he hit a Samoan Drop on Cena. Both guys were down. On their feet, both guys traded punches and kicks. The Rock hit a Spine Buster on Cena. It was People’s Elbow time! Cena rolled up The Rock for a near fall. Cena dropped The Rock and hit a slingshot into the turnbuckle, followed by a near fall. The Rock blocked what looked like a Superplex attempt by Cena. The Rock then hit a cross body block off the top, Cena rolled through, hit the A.A. and got a near fall. The crowd went absolutely nuts for this sequence!

Cena then went for a People’s Elbow. The Rock caught him with a Rock Bottom and dropped him for the three-count and the win! The place went nuts for the unexpected finish.

Obviously they are setting up a rematch here. I have to be honest, I have very little interest in seeing that. This was a fun match for the atmosphere alone but the match itself was a bit disappointing to me. To be fair, it is possible that they are saving their best for the rematch.

The Undertaker went 20-0 defeating Triple H in one of the most dramatic WrestleMania matches you will ever see. I can’t rave about this match enough. A bald Undertaker and Triple H started off the match with The Undertaker dropping Triple H with several right hands. They had a nice back and forth in the open in your typical pro wrestling brawl. The explanation about The Undertaker’s bald head was that he cut his hair off until Triple H accepted a rematch.

Triple H was the first to hit the cage as the Dead Man threw him to the fence while both were on the floor. The Undertaker pushed Shawn Michaels out of the way early as Michaels tried to check on Triple H. Triple H took the brunt of the punishment early on. The Undertaker also went “old school” and walked the ropes early as well.

Triple H finally got the upper hand using steel steps that The Undertaker brought into the ring. The Undertaker reversed a Pedigree attempt on the steps. I want to note how great the crowd was during this match. The audience was super hot and popping for everything they did. Hunter regained the upper hand after dropping The Undertaker with a Spine Buster on the steps. The Undertaker then grabbed Triple H in a triangle choke or “Hell’s Gate” as the WWE calls it which Hunter broke by slamming him.

Triple H then proceeded to absolutely brutalize The Undertaker with several chair shots to the back. Michaels told Hunter to cover him but he didn’t. Hunter then shoved Michaels aside and continued pounding The Undertaker with chair shots, telling Michaels to end it or he would. The Undertaker told Michaels not to stop the match as Hunter yelled “stay down!” Triple H finally went for a cover with no avail.

The story here was Hunter continually asking Shawn to end the match or he would. Triple H then brought the sledgehammer into the match and told Shawn he was ending it one way or the other. The Undertaker kicked out of a sledgehammer shot to a big ovation. Michaels finally grabbed the sledgehammer out of Hunter’s hands.

The Undertaker wound up choking Shawn Michaels with the “Hell’s Gate” when HBK went to check on him. The Undertaker did this to stop Michaels from stopping the match. Michaels was out at this point. Now Hunter was caught in the triangle choke but the match had no referee at this point. Hunter grabbed the sledgehammer and dropped it. Hunter was choked out at this point but Michaels was still out cold as well.

New referee Charles Robinson ran out to get into the match and take over. The Undertaker then choke slammed Triple H for a near fall. These guys had great drama going at this point. The Undertaker then choke slammed Robinson. The Undertaker pulled Hunter up for a Tombstone, Michaels nailed Taker with Sweet Chin Music, Triple H Pedigreed him, and Undertaker kicked out in a classic WrestleMania moment.

Triple H then tossed Michaels outside of the ring. The Undertaker nailed Hunter with several shots and dropped him for Snake Eyes and a big boot. The Undertaker Tombstoned Hunter for a near fall in another classic moment. The match was at a level above last year’s at this point and I loved last year’s match.

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After a back and forth Triple H nailed a Pedigree for another close three count. They had 60,000+ on their feet. The Undertaker had a chair and Hunter had his sledgehammer at this point. The Undertaker then proceeded to brutalize and pay back a Hunter with chair shots. The chair shots were so hard it bent the chair up. Triple H kicked out once again.

Triple H gave Taker a crotch chop sign and was then immediately dropped by the Dead Man. The Undertaker went for the Tombstone, dropped Hunter, and got the three-count for his 20th WrestleMania win in an absolute classic. I didn’t think they could do it but they topped last year’s match and more. Great match!

Both guys were laid out due to exhaustion as the cage went up. Michaels looked down at both men. Triple H was out cold and The Undertaker could barely get to his feet. Michaels pulled Undertaker up and the two hugged. There was a fireworks celebration that followed to celebrate 20-0. The Undertaker staggered around a bit after the fireworks. He and Michaels pulled up Triple H and walked him to the back.

CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho to retain the WWE championship. John Laurinaitis told CM Punk in the back before the match that he would change the WWE championship if Punk lost his temper and got disqualified. Jericho spent the early portion of the match trying to lure Punk into getting himself disqualified. Eventually the two wound up breaking into a pretty good match. The highlight of the match was Jericho suplexing Punk over the top from the ring to the floor.

The match was really hurt by following the Hell in a Cell match. It was a good match but the crowd really took awhile to get into the match. In all fairness the crowd seemed to be pretty into it towards the end. Punk won the match with the Anaconda Vice in the center of the ring. Jericho tapped out.

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus for the WWE world heavyweight title opened the show. I loved the choice of going with Bryan vs. Sheamus, great way to set the pace of the show. Behind the scenes it was a great spot for them as they don’t have to worry about match time being cut. Bryan had a ton and I mean a ton of “Yes” signs in the house.

The match was over in a matter of seconds. Sheamus nailed Bryan with a Brogue Kick right after the bell was sounded for the win and the WWE world heavyweight championship in 18 seconds. I hated this. What a waste of one of the best workers in the company here. It reminded me of when I went to see a New Japan show live in the 1990s and was pumped to see Jushin Liger vs. Ultimo Dragon and yet they ended the match in about 90 seconds. I have one word for the booking here, “No!”

Kane defeated Randy Orton in a bit of a surprise. Orton was going for the RKO from the top but was instead chokeslammed from the second rope. I am not sure what is going on with Orton but it almost appears that the guy is getting buried. Quite frankly he was treated much better when he was an undisciplined troublemaker. I wouldn’t call it a bad match but it was certainly a waste of Orton in my opinion.

The Big Show defeated Cody Rhodes to win the WWE I-C title. Not a bad match, but more like your typical television bout. Most of the match saw Show throw Cody around until Cody worked over Show’s knee. The finish came on a second Disaster Kick attempt by Cody who was caught and dropped by The Big Show. Big Show pulled the strap down ala Jerry Lawler and knocked him out with the right hand. Show ends Cody’s 233 WWE intercontinental title reign. Show cried after the match and really put the win over nicely here.

Maria Menounos pinned Beth Phoenix to win the Divas tag team match. This was actually a bit better than I expected, not that I expected much. The biggest disappointment was the unflattering pants attire of Maria Menounos. Hey if you are going to force me to watch her wrestle, at least stick her in a bikini

The Miz pinned Zack Ryder to win the 12-man tag team match. John Laurinaitis will now have total control of SmackDown and Monday Night RAW as the G.M. The finish came when Zack had The Miz set up for the finish and Eve Torres came into the ring. The referee turned around and told Eve to leave. Zack confronted Eve, turned around, and received the Skull Crushing Finale. Eve kicked Zack in the groin after the match. I was expecting a lot more here, although to be fair they were following the Hell in a Cell match.

Overall I’d say it was a one match show. The Undertaker vs. Triple H match was so good that I would recommend the show simply for that. The Rock vs. Cena felt flat to me as a match, although the atmosphere made this at minimum a WrestleMania classic moment. The rest of the card was good but nothing else really stood out to me. I’d rate this one slightly better than last year but that isn’t really saying much now is it?

The elephants in the room here are Batista and Brock Lesnar. It was reported by numerous sources over the weekend that both were at WrestleMania. Most fans assumed that they would be a part of the show, specifically Brock Lesnar. I would be absolutely shocked if Lesnar does not appear on RAW tomorrow night in some major angle. The plan at this point appears to be to announce a big match tomorrow or at least set up a match tomorrow for next year. The WWE would generally shake up RAW the night after WrestleMania in the past with big angles. Look for that this Monday on RAW. Otherwise I have no explanation for the absence of Lesnar and Batista.

Full WWE WrestleMania 28 results & winners
Primo & Epico defeated Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd and The Usos in a Triple Threat Tag Team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship
Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos defeated Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres
Team Johnny (David Otunga (captain), Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, and Drew McIntyre) (with Vickie Guerrero) defeated Team Teddy (Santino Marella (captain), R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, The Great Khali, and Booker T) (with Hornswoggle)&Aksana vs. in a 12-Man Tag Team match to determine General Manager of both the Raw and SmackDown brands
Kane defeated Randy Orton
The Big Show defeated Cody Rhodes for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
CM Punk defeated Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Championship
The Undertaker defeated Triple H Hell in a Cell match with Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee
The Rock defeated John Cena

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Top 10 Rey Mysterio WWE Matches

March 04, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Aside from Bruno Sammartino and Tito Santana, there aren’t many wrestlers who can say they enjoyed a decade-plus run in WWE without once turning heel. Sure, Rey Mysterio was booed more out of fan annoyance than genuine hatred (Eddie-sploitation, being the 30th entrant in the 2014 Rumble instead of Daniel Bryan), but Mysterio was the consummate pro: a man who broke new barriers for undersized high flyers as oftentimes the most exciting performer on a given show. His runs in ECW and WCW set the stage for a lengthy stay in WWE, land of the giants, where he broke the glass ceiling several times though his daring leaps and well-honed underdog persona.

Going through Mysterio’s long run with WWE turns up the expected stockpile of captivating matches, boasting the sorts of dives, jumps, and crashes that explain a timeline of knee surgeries that has cruelly been mocked by armchair sloths each time he goes on the DL. In between those sideline stints, here are Mysterio’s ten best matches under the WWE banner.

10. The 2006 Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble, 01/29/06)

Not even in the upper echelon of greatest Rumbles (1990, 1992, 2001, 2004), but needs to be on this list for two obvious reasons: Mysterio breaking the longevity mark (1:02:12, a record that still stand today), and actually winning the match itself. Mysterio’s entire 2006 became a sour blur of him almost literally becoming the late Eddie Guerrero in his quest for, and run with, the World Heavyweight Title, and his co-opting of Guerrero’s low-rider prior to the match reeks of button-mash pandering (moreso when we saw where the story went). Still, his endurance was most impressive, and the ending with him overcoming Triple H and Randy Orton to win was quite satisfying.

9. vs. Kurt Angle (SummerSlam, 08/25/02)

From the time the Filthy Animals faded into oblivion to Mysterio’s WWE debut, it seemed fans had forgotten just how special this athlete truly was. Upon his debut for the company at age 27, Mysterio reminded everyone of his world-class agility and precision, wowing Smackdown crowds en route to the SummerSlam bout with Angle, who famously called him a 12-year-old boy out of anger. Angle and Mysterio kicked off the greatest SummerSlam of all time with a bout laden with innovative counter-attacks and high-impact wrestling, what you’d expect from both in their primes. Angle won by countering a rana into the Ankle Lock, but what was packed into nine minutes was something else.

8. vs. Dolph Ziggler (SummerSlam, 08/23/09)

Mysterio’s fireball presence makes him a natural show-opener, and he would open SummerSlam four times in his career. This Intercontinental Title defense against a then-untested Ziggler was thought to either to be a formula win for Rey, or a way to get the belt on an unproven developmental call-up in order to falsely justify him to a too-hip-for-that audience. Mysterio did win, and in the process used the twelve minutes to piece together a sleeper of a bout, exchanging heart-pounding near-falls down the stretch. If you’re looking for the moment where Ziggler began turning heads, look to this match here. Mysterio did what he does best, elevating the guys he works with.

7. vs. Eddie Guerrero (Judgment Day, 05/22/05)

The 2005 feud with a soon-to-depart Guerrero started out enjoyable enough, rooted in a haunted Guerrero finding himself unable to cleanly defeat his good friend. It degenerated into a farcical custody storyline in which Eddie claimed to have helped inseminate Rey’s wife in creating son Dominick (and you thought PG-WWE was bad), but this B-show match did without that silliness. Continuing the original story, Guerrero threw everything including the metaphorical kitchen sink at Mysterio, and still couldn’t beat him. Interference from nephew Chavo still can’t close the deal, and Mysterio just about wins until Eddie blasts him with a steel chair. For once, a DQ finish didn’t even feel cheap – it just reinforced the angle that Guerrero couldn’t beat Mysterio.

6. vs. Eddie Guerrero (Smackdown, 03/16/04)

Times sure were different one year earlier – Guerrero was WWE Champion and Mysterio the on-again/off-again Cruiserweight Champion (off at this point). Mysterio won a gauntlet series earlier in the night, earning an immediate shot at Guerrero’s title, and damned if this match wasn’t Smackdown’s best in a dreary 2004 for the brand. The action is literally non-stop save for some arm-work in the earlier stages, and is only a couple shades off of their Halloween Havoc 1997 all-timer. Guerrero avoided the Dime-Drop, and cradled Mysterio to retain the gold after a wild near-twenty minutes of duration, and ended up being the apex of Guerrero’s doomed title reign.

5. with Billy Kidman, vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Vengeance, 07/27/03)

Perhaps the most underrated WWE PPV ever (this match along with Benoit vs. Guerrero, Cena vs. Undertaker, and Lesnar vs. Angle vs. Show), Vengeance was a snapshot of what Smackdown in 2003 was: a bold and fresh alternative to the one-note wankfest Raw had become (Smackdown’s only hindrance: wretched McMahon involvement). Mysterio and ex-Animal comrade Kidman took on Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin for the Tag Team Championship, and were given fifteen minutes to put together a lost tag team classic in an era rife with them. Haas and Benjamin retained with a modified Doomsday Device on Mysterio, but not before the faces teased the crowd to its nerves with a near victory.

4. with Edge, vs. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle (Smackdown, 11/05/02)

Frequent use of the “Smackdown Six” (these four plus Los Guerreros) in interchangeable bouts left the brand new Tag Team Titles ripe to be watered down. This ended up basically true, even if it gave us these classic matches. Sixteen days after Angle and Benoit got the gold, they lost the belts in a two-out-of-three falls match to Mysterio and Edge in a sadly-overlooked encounter. Benoit was pinned to end the first, and Edge tapped to Angle to even it up. The third fall seemingly ended with a Mysterio victory roll, but Angle being in the ropes led to a restart. Mysterio blasts Angle with a 619 on the floor (using the ringpost as a wraparound point), and Edge spears Angle after nearly a half-hour to capture the titles.

3. vs. Chris Jericho (The Bash, 06/28/09)

Long before Cody Rhodes and Dean Ambrose made all-too-plain their intentions to restore legitimacy to the IC Title, here were Mysterio and Jericho doing just that, understated in words, explicit in action. Jericho had just won the belt three weeks prior at Extreme Rules, and Mysterio put his mask on the line for the rematch. Crowd was living and dying on a million and one crazy counters, including Mysterio escaping a torture rack with an intricate DDT. Jericho, who made his obsession with Rey’s mask clear, ripped it off, only for there to be a second one underneath. Mysterio won shortly thereafter, culminating a feud that was an oasis in a desert that was WWE’s 2009 in decline.

2. vs. John Morrison (Smackdown, 09/01/09)

Shortly after the earlier-mentioned sleeper epic with Ziggler, it was announced that Mysterio would be out for thirty days after testing dirty in the company’s Wellness Policy. On the way out, Mysterio would have to drop his Intercontinental Title to someone, and rising babyface star Morrison (no stranger to the situation, given his passing the ECW Title to CM Punk two years earlier under the same circumstances) would receive the torch. If the match was an attempt to rehabilitate his image in light of the bad news, Mysterio made the match count, taking up almost a quarter of TV time in a hyper-driven babyface clash, losing clean as a sheet to Starship Pain.

1. with Edge, vs. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle (No Mercy, 10/20/02)

The tournament final for the new WWE Tag Team Championship was hailed as 2002’s match of the year by many outlets (it’s neck and neck with Shawn Michaels’ comeback against Triple H for me), and its string of crisp sequence after crisp sequence makes it hard to argue against. You know WWE has high hopes for a match when there’s two heat segments, one each for Mysterio and Edge to play hero-in-peril, paid off with multiple near falls in the homestretch. Angle made Edge submit to the ankle lock to close out the lengthy battle, with Wrestling Observer, Pro Wrestling Torch, and RSPW each selecting the match as the best of 2002.

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WWE Royal Rumble 2015: The Scenarios Are Endless

January 24, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

You may have a better chance of picking the winning Power Ball numbers than figuring out what the WWE intends to do not only with the Royal Rumble match at the upcoming pay-per-view event, but also with the Triple Threat match for the WWE World Title between John Cena, Seth Rollins and champion Brock Lesnar.

Now that Roman Reigns has appeared to have stuck his foot in his mouth and the fans and company have cooled on him becoming the next big thing in the WWE, the likelihood of Armageddon will not take place with a Royal Rumble win and showcase at WrestleMania XXXI.

The company may also be setting us up for a Brock Lesnar face turn to finish out his run with the company. While I thought Lesnar winning the Triple Threat match was a virtual certainty this evening, now there are other possibilities that make the evening even more inviting. The one thing I am sure of is the idea John Cena will walk out of Philadelphia with either the WWE title on his waist or winning the Royal Rumble match.

So, what’s the promotion to do? Here are a few ideas…

HAVE LESNAR LOSE THE TITLE MATCH, BUT WIN THE RUMBLE MATCH

If a face turn is in fact in order, then Seth Rollins becomes the new “Edge” heel in the WWE. Rollins took a giant step toward becoming “the man” of the company when he curb stomped both Cena and Lesnar on Raw and then become the Lesnar ass kicking on the “go home” show Monday night.

If Lesnar loses the title and wins the Rumble match, it sets up a Paul Heyman/Triple H war of words for the next three months. It also becomes a Lesnar vs. Authority type feud, which this company needs.

This scenario works out the best for all parties involved and could – actually certainly – boost ratings.

ROLLINS WINS TITLE, DANIEL BRYAN WINS RUMBLE

The “YES!” movement is alive and well in the WWE and Bryan’s continued feud with The Authority is what is best for business. Taking on all of the Authority again makes sense to pick up where both sides left off when he was injured.

I like the dynamic of Bryan and Rollins as the main event for WrestleMania. A match of two cruiserweights may be more appealing and certainly more dramatic than seeing a super heavyweight just beat down a smaller opponent. Lesnar vs. Bryan or Lesnar vs. Rollins works, but it may not be as entertaining.

ROLLINS WINS TITLE, DOLPH ZIGGLER WINS RUMBLE

Another great match and the one I want to see more than any other in the WWE.

Rollins mic skills are getting better and his performance in the ring is spectacular. He gives an “A+” performance every time he gets in the ring.

Since Ziggler won the Survivor Series Match for Team Cena by pinning Rollins, this is also a redemption match and feud. The WWE should again let Ziggler become the torch bearer for the company. Besides Bryan, I cannot see another cruiserweight who can deliver a solid match (beside Dean Ambrose) in a main event match.

LESNAR WINS TITLE, REIGNS WINS RUMBLE

I am still throwing this one out there because it has been in the works for some time. The WWE has resorted to having Vince McMahon write Reigns’ promos since he is not the most gifted speaker when it comes to interviews. CM Punk he is not.

If the company wants Reigns to dominate the Rumble match, facing Lesnar at WrestleMania would be aces for pay-per-view audiences.

ROLLINS WINS TITLE, REIGNS WINS RUMBLE

This needs no explanation. Two former Shield members with a lot of bad blood still left to spill. Fans would eat this one up alive. And even if Reigns is not the best on the mic, it would sell like wild fire.

LESNAR WINS TITLE, ORTON WINS RUMBLE

Please do not let that happen. NO, NO, NO!

Orton is set to return to the Rumble as is Sheamus. The idea of Orton winning and facing Lesnar is a solid choice, but it is not fan-friendly. Forget the idea of Sheamus in the main event. Not Going To Happen.

CENA WINS TITLE, RUSEV WINS RUMBLE

This is the only match I would want to see that makes perfect sense if Cena should win.

Cena is an aging vet who has won everything, Rusev has not been beaten yet and loves to bash on America.

Problem solved. Cena needs to fight the good fight for the WWE, not himself. And while the masses are split on loving or hating Captain Jorts, there is one thing everyone can get behind – support for Cena against the big Russian. If Cena becomes The Rock or Sting of this year and fights for the company that made him famous, he becomes a true hero for the fans, and puts an end to the Russian’s abuse of America.

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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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Top 5 Things In Pro Wrestling To Watch For In 2015

January 08, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

As a lifetime pro wrestling fan, the past 30 years have indeed been a rollercoaster of emotions (25 of which I can recall vividly). We have witnessed the highest of peaks and the lowest of valleys. The monopolization by the WWE, and their vision to eradicate pro wrestling while transitioning it to “sports entertainment” has indeed brought us to that deep dark valley of nausea. Luckily for us WRESTLING fans the days of our intelligence being insulted are vanishing, and fast. Buckle yourself in, this year is going to be an incredible ride. Here are my top 5 pro wrestling predictions for 2015.

1.) A NEW WWE ERA

Unlike most forums and blogs may have led you to believe, I see this year as a giant crossroad for the WWE, and one they will succeed at. Vince and company have always seemed to have this notion that they can put whatever product they want to serve out, and their loyal fans will always be there to feed on. Sure, to a degree that has been true as with any monopoly. However, 2014 gave the WWE a cold hard slap to their face when it came to loyalty and reality. The WWE Network subscription numbers were atrocious and the WWE clearly had no plan B. This reality check had to have been humbling for Vince McMahon. When the ego is as gigantic as his, it’s a very difficult circumstance to swallow.

It all culminated in a perfect storm. Between the subscription abomination, Vince calling out the roster, the emergence of NXT, lack of talent utilization, the uprising of new competition, paycheck cuts, and the dismal moral in the locker room, the WWE is headed for a new ERA. While Vinnie Mac may want to “shake things up again”, the truth is, they actually have no alternative. They must choose to give the fans what they want, otherwise, we will start to see the crumbling of the empire known as WWE. They have the talent, they have the $$$, they have every opportunity to succeed. I see this year as a significant marker for the company. When push comes to shove, Vince always comes through, and I for one believe in his creative skill sets.

2.) A REVOLUTION RISING

Do you feel it? There’s something spreading like a wildfire in the industry, and it’s not the WWE. The old school fans called it territories. The new school fans called it “the Indys”. But we’re seeing a revolution of something new and special. Now is the time to be a wrestling fan ladies and gentlemen. The WWE is no longer the only big fish in the USA pond. Sure, we’ve seen companies like ROH and TNA tread those waters for years, only to become minnows swallowed up by the great white shark known as the WWE. But while the WWE has become lazy in creative, the other fish are getting bigger and more ferocious by the day. These companies in my opinion have the best wrestlers in the world today.

Yes, I am a huge fan of stars like Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Cesaro, Damien Sandow and Dean Ambrose. But then Sunday Jan 4th happened. NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 9 was perhaps the best PPV I’ve ever seen. (A MUST SEE IF YOU ARE A WRESTLING FAN) And I’ve seen plenty. With the call by Jim Ross and Matt Striker (Ross’s call of the main event gave me chills that I haven’t felt since the Attitude Era) it became clear as crystal, the best wrestlers on the planet are NOT in the WWE. These companies ALL have their own unique vibe, and also have seemed to no longer try to model their companies like the WWE. With the likes of NJPW (opening more to the U.S.A. audience), ROH, Lucha Underground, PWG, TNA (pushing the reset button), and the emergence of GFW…. WATCH OUT. These companies are hungry, with their wrestlers even hungrier. By this time next year don’t be surprised if the WWE has some serious threatening competition. Can’t wait!

3.) THE EMERGENCE OF THE NXT STARS

If you’re reading this, you probably are well aware of the talent the NXT has. Hand selected wrestlers from all around the world have landed in WWE’s developmental pool. I think HHH has realized they weren’t going to groom any talent anytime soon from scratch. Selecting some of these talented and already established individuals is PURE GOLD. Talents such as Finn Baylor, Adrian Neville, Sammy Zayn, Hideo Itami and of course Kevin Owens, are the future of the WWE. I just hope the company doesn’t try to “WWE mold them”. These dudes were the cream of the crop BEFORE coming to WWE. And lucky for us, most of them are entering the prime of their already stellar careers. These 5 stars will not only break out in 2015, but they will also be WWE main eventers and wearing gold around their waist by years end. In my opinion NXT is already a better show than RAW…. And the company knows it too.

4.) DOLPH ZIGGLER BECOMES WWE CHAMPION

Is there anyone on the current roster that is more deserving of the “strap”? Short and sweet answer….NO. His focus and passion is clearly higher than anyone else in the company right now. For whatever reason the powers that be have held him down long enough. His dues have been paid and he WILL be WWE champion in 2015…. Guaranteed and “here to show the world”

5.) WRESTLING PODCAST INFLUENCE

The podcast “explosion” took place in 2014, the influence and impact has been bigger than people may realize. From originals like Colt Cabanas, to the crew on MLW, to the Podcast One group, 2015 won’t disappoint… the beauty of these podcasts is that the wrestlers (former and current) have the opportunity to speak their minds. Lots of “internet” rumors surface and these stars have a chance to clear the air and speak from the heart. I think this is critical for not only to set the record straight, but also for their well beings. Seeing what happened to Bret Harts life after the Montreal Screwjob was very sad. He let things be built up inside him and it nearly killed him. If someone like him would have had a podcast and had guests like Shawn Michaels, or Vince, who knows what sort of emotional baggage all three could have erased.

Many pro wrestlers are indeed paranoid. By being a guest on the podcasts these wrestlers have the opportunity to squash any incorrect rumors as well as open their hearts to the millions of fans that listen. That creates a connection with fans that they may or may not be able to achieve on screen. No acting, no scripts just the real human speaking to all of the listeners. Hearing shows like the Ross Report and all the plethora of info that took Jim Ross 40 years to gain, and is thrown out for all of us to absorb is wonderful. Just look what it did for Ryback.

Without his Talk is Jericho podcast, we many never of gotten a chance to hear about his wonderful true story. Or what about Stone Colds Podcast that provided the infamous Vince McMahon “call out of the WWE roster”. And who could forget Colt Cabana’s podcast with CM Punk. It was the single most talked about podcast in the history of professional wrestling. I’m sure wrestling companies (like WWE) are also listening and gaining insight as well. Perhaps even being influenced as well. This can only help their product. 2015 will be the year of the podcasts.

2015 is sure to be one the greatest years in pro wrestling history. Are you ready? I am. What are your 2015 predictions? Would love to hear what YOU the people that make this business tick, have to say.

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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 Randy Savage Story DVD

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Dolph Ziggler Says He Wants To Be The Man In The WWE

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

Dolph Ziggler has become something of a people’s WWE champion on social media. Fans on social media want Ziggler to be the man and according to a new interview with the intercontinental champ, they may get that wish.

Ziggler sat down with Michael Cole for an interview on WWE.com. The new champion has never been shy about his desires to be a top guy in the WWE. A number of circumstances have prevented that, yet there seems to be a lot of momentum circling around Ziggler these days. Never one to lack confidence, Ziggler recognizes it and is declaring that he will be the man, some day in the WWE.

I’ll be honest, it almost angers me as much as it did. Not a chance. Dolph Ziggler is me. What I am is everything I stand for is the hardest working man in sports entertainment, someone who has fought for 10 years to be the man because I want to be. Not because I have to, not because it looks cool or I think it would be fun, I have to. I have a chip on my shoulder so big that you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t sleep at night much because I think of tiny mistakes I’ve made. This is on the right track, and I’m going to be the man around here. … I don’t need luck but it’s going to happen, promise.

Ziggler also talked about regaining the intercontinental title from Luke Harper. Unfortunately Ziggler’s last run as I-C champ was filled with almost a dozen losses on television. While skeptics may see the I-C belt as a curse, Ziggler is excited about his new reign as champion.

Winning titles is a huge step in a career for a superstar. Just having been through so much the last couple months, months and years of fighting and scratching and clawing and getting close and saying ‘you’re not quite the guy for the position’ and knowing it was out there. Now, having even more of the WWE Universe behind me every single night, I knew if I could find my way to get through this ladder match, make it one of the best things anyone has ever seen, and come out as the champion, I knew we could make that title, like I said before, what it means to me. It did (steal the show). It did.

So what is next for Ziggler? Where does Ziggy go from here? If it were up to his fans on social media, it would be to a WrestleMania main-event against John Cena. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one, although Ziggler would love to have that opportunity.

I see this as a stepping stone. This is a first step in the right direction. This is a chance for everyone who has been really close to breaking through that glass ceiling and couldn’t get it done. Let me be the one who busts it open and leads the way through. Let me be the one who says from here on out, you can make it. You can make it with the WWE Universe behind you and everything you do you do to be the best, and I do.

It’s hard not to get excited about where things are heading with Ziggler. It appears that he may be finally getting his due and an opportunity to run with the ball in 2015. Unfortunately we have all been sucked into this before with Ziggler and his start-stop pushes. Let’s hope this one is different.

WWE: True Giants Home Video

The Randy Savage Story DVD

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