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WWE: John Cena Deserves Better

July 31, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

John Cena has been the social media whipping boy among pro wrestling fans for the last five years. The Cena-hate is finally starting to dissipate and for those remaining holdouts, it is time to give Cena the respect and appreciation he deserves.

This isn’t a drastic reaction coming off of his broken nose or his series of matches against Kevin Owens. This is a reaction to a John Cena that has continually worked hard the last few years to give his fans their money’s worth and make his critics look foolish. John Cena doesn’t suck and if you think he does, you aren’t watching with an open mind

Look, I will be upfront with you. I am not a big fan. His gimmick doesn’t do it for me, but there are a lot of wrestlers I have watched in over 30 years that I didn’t necessarily like but respected. This blog is about giving the devil his due and paying respect to a guy that deserves it arguably over anyone else on the current WWE full-time roster.

There are several facts that whether or not you like John Cena, you can’t dispute. He has been a top guy and draw consecutively longer than any pro wrestler in pro wrestling history. Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Ric Flair may have entertained you more in and out of the ring, but none of them had the longevity that Cena has had.

Sure, circumstances were different and Cena hasn’t had a number of challengers to his throne that those legends have had. However, the numbers don’t lie. If Cena wasn’t drawing ratings, selling merchandise, and generating pub for the company, he would have been replaced by now. Don’t get me wrong. The company has tried to replace him with CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Batista, Roman Reigns, and even Triple H at times. Yet none of those guys had the drawing power and the ability to connect with the masses that Cena has.

I don’t think anyone other than Hulk Hogan connected with young fans the way Cena has. I went to a WWE house show in Philadelphia (yes that Philadelphia who booed Roman Reigns out of the building) and the place was full of kids in all age ranges with Cena shirts and Cena signs. Austin, Rock, Sammartino, and Bret all connected with an older audience. Hulk had the kids, but even he eventually became “uncool” among that age group. John Cena has withstood the test of time and is just as popular with 10-year old kids today as he was five years ago….maybe even more so.

I have mixed opinions on Cena in the ring. I have my criticisms of him such as openly calling spots and his “interesting” psychology at times, but overall the guy is a great performer. He rarely delivers a bad match and hasn’t in a long time. Matches with Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Dean Ambrose, Rey Mysterio, Cesaro, Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, and Kevin Owens prove that Cena is motivated to have great matches. Even his feud with Rusev, who is hardly the workhorse the other guys were or are, still had exciting matches with Cena. While his feud with Randy Orton may have been uninspiring, the matches were all pretty good. He has never been accused by workhorses of slowing them down the way Hogan has been accused by former foes over the years. The guy obviously thrives on great matches with great workers. Just read some of the comments made by those former foes and see how much they enjoyed working with him if you don’t believe me.

Cena should not be held accountable for political ignorance. Hardcore fans get frustrated with Cena every time he beats one of “their” guys. Why should John Cena take the heat for the bookers putting him over Rusev and Kevin Owens? I don’t recall hearing many stories about Cena outright burying guys or refusing to put over talent the way just about every legend mentioned above did at one time or another during their peaks. If anything, I have heard nothing but stories about Cena being supportive of young, up and comers, politicking in their favor to the office.

The WWE would be a much different place today without John Cena and we should all be grateful he’s there. Like him or not, you can’t argue with ratings during those periods the company experiments on phasing him out. Even as recently as last month when the company was phasing Cena out to the middle of the pack, RAW did historically low numbers. The fans have spoken and that’s why he is co-headlining SummerSlam and will probably be wearing the WWE world title before you know it.

John Cena doesn’t suck…you do for not giving the guy the respect he deserves. It’s time to move on and pick on someone else.

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WWE: It’s Over for Kevin Owens

July 23, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

As the wrestling world gets consumed with the excitement of one hot WWE angle, another is struggling to simmer. The invasion of Kevin Owens, red hot only a few weeks ago has been marginalized to the point where it is time to seriously worry about his WWE future.

Kevin Owens did not have a good 24 hours from Sunday to Monday. In a matter of 24 hours, the brazen star of the future tapped out to the old guard, his most devastating loss to date while the very next night was booked in a pull-apart with the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar as just another guy on the low-mid card. The Kevin Owens has officially ended.

Owens came into the WWE and immediately took the company by storm on his NXT debut. Debuting on an NXT special he not only squashed his opponent but laid out then-reigning NXT champion Sami Zayn. Owens was immediately portrayed as something special as he destroyed Zayn for the NXT title, laying out the most popular NXT star. This was not just another guy being introduced, this was a guy portrayed to fans as the real deal.

The Kevin Owens ride went smoothly over the next few months as he destroyed Zayn in the rematch and stood face to face with Samoa Joe. The buzz around Owens at NXT was something that hadn’t been seen since NXT debuted. Unfortunately for Owens, he came face-to-face with John Cena on an episode of RAW and now finds himself on the descending end of a roller coaster.

I warned everyone the second the WWE kicked off the Owens vs. Cena angle. Be careful what you wish for Owens’ fans, because they angle never end well for the other guy. Whether it was Rusev or Bray Wyatt, the Cena rub always ends with Cena on top and the stars of his uprising opponents pointing downwards. Why did anyone think that Kevin Owens would be different?

Yes, Kevin Owens went in there at Money in the Bank and not only had a great match with Cena, but beat him. Ignorance was bliss as Owens’ legions of supporters saw this as a changing of the guard where I saw it as the beginning of the end. Owens got hot and even with a loss at Payback, still kept his heat thanks to an even better show-stealer against the former WWE champion and a great post-match angle.

Then came Beast in the East and while Owens has to lose the title at some point, the timing just seemed odd. Here you had a guy that some were calling the star of the future, yet he was now booked in two straight high-profile losses. It just didn’t make sense. Unfortunately for Owens the timing of all of this may have been his biggest enemy of all. Some reports indicate that Vince McMahon blamed Owens, among others for the declining RW ratings. Fair or not, his goose was cooked. Detractors in the company had all of the ammo they needed to shoot his push right in the foot and that is exactly what they did.

I don’t care what Owens’ proponents say, there is nothing good that came out of his loss at Battleground. A tap would have been fine with a good explanation or a hot post-match angle but we got none of that. All we got was a tap and an exit from the top of the cards. Owens has now been relegated to running away from Rusev, doing a pull-apart, and another likely loss to Finn Balor in Brooklyn. It’s over!

Owens is just another victim of the inconsistencies we all like to refer to as WWE booking. Owens place on the cards and heat with the crowd have nothing to do with his talent Perception is reality and the casual fans see him as a guy that just isn’t good enough. That won’t change unless a major commitment is made to him by the creative department. It’s been over a year and Bray Wyatt still hasn’t fully recovered and he had every bit as big of a push against Cena as Owens did.

From here on out Owens will be relegated to a low-mid card wrestler. He won’t get the time he had with Cena, thus his matches probably won’t be as good. His boasts and taunts will seem comical and while he will probably pop into a RAW main-event every once in a while (I am almost positive we’ll see another Owens vs. Cena match on RAW), the days of shows and events being booked around him are over.

And that is a damned shame!

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John Cena and Seth Rollins: WWE SummerSlam’s Logical Co-Main Event

July 23, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I might have been wrong when I prematurely said John Cena would lose his United States Championship at Battleground last weekend. And I might have been wrong when I said John Cena would dip farther into the mod-card once he dropped the match at the pay-per-view to Kevin Owens.

Evidently, “The Champ” may get another crack at the WWE World Title.

All this proves, over and over again, is that when things get tough in the WWE, it all falls back onto the shoulders of the 15-time world champion. And with the match set for SummerSlam between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker, someone has to step forward and challenge the current company champion.

Leave it to Cena to find himself back in title contention, but what this does more than anything is prove that the United States Title has surpassed the Intercontinental Title as the WWE’s second most important belt. And if anything else, it also proves Cena was correct when he confronted the Seth Rollins on Monday night.

The title does not make the man, rather the man makes the title. What Cena has done to take the U.S. strap and make it the most important belt displayed on Monday nights show how vital he is to the success of the WWE, and the fact Cena still draws money every time he is in the ring.

SummerSlam is the second-most important pay-per-view on the wrestling circuit and Rollins needs a dance partner in five weeks in Brooklyn. And of course, Cena doesn’t mind dancing with the devil.

I wondered out loud last week if Cena’s days in a wrestling ring were numbered – now that he has starred in another movie and the fact the WWE is quickly being invaded by NXT. But since Cena has had a memorable program with Kevin Owens and his movie “Trainwreck” is getting plenty of attention in movie theaters, the company would be foolish not to cash in on the success.

And who better to challenge the evil villain of the WWE than the man who defends the company like he is Superman.

This is a match that must happen, but I do have some reservations about it from a sheer historical perspective.

Cue the Happy Days music.

Should the WWE tempt fate by allowing Cena to match Ric Flair’s record of 16 world titles in wrestling history? How would the wrestling community react to Cena, should he stand in rarified air with the greatest champion of all time (in my opinion)?

The one thing I can say is Cena is the perfect opponent for Rollins in August. Since the war between Lesnar and Taker wages on, there is no true feud for the champ. Above everything else, the theme of Cena defending the WWE against The Authority will have some interest for the fans.

In the 1980s, both Flair and Hulk Hogan were on top of the industry because they were larger than life characters who could draw money. Randy Savage could do the same, but Flair was the main attraction in the NWA and later WCW. Despite attempts to put the title on Sting and Lex Luger, the promotion kept coming back to Flair because he was a “total” package.

Hogan’s influence outside the ring made him the best character to continue the WWF’s run in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Today, wrestlers are cheered for what they do in the ring, how they perform and how badass they can be. The WWE may be worried about selling merchandise, but fans want to see Rollins and Ambrose and now Kevin Owens because they are hot commodities. Cena is still the bridge between the past, the present and future.

And it’s only fitting to see the two biggest title holders in the company lock horns in the ring – like it used to be.

Like it or not, this the best possible situation the WWE could put together for SummerSlam. We aren’t even sure of this will fester enough to become a co-main event. But by judging how Cena was egging Rollins on Monday night, I say there is a better than even chance this will happen.

Frankly, it should – just to test the waters and prove the gap between the past and the future isn’t as separate as it needs to be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE Battleground 2015 Results and Recap: Undertaker Returns, Owens Taps

July 19, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

TheThe Undertaker WWE Battleground road to SummerSlam began at WWE Battleground. The prelude to the biggest party of the summer kicked off with one of the most exciting angles in recent memory to set up one of the biggest SummerSlam seasons in recent WWE history.

The Undertaker returned in what was arguably the best angle of 2015. The Undertaker returned to set up a big money rematch with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. The return of the Dead Man while predicted and reported prior to the show, still came as a bit of a shocker in the way it was done. The heat for it was the best of any angle I can remember on a WWE show in recent memory. Lesnar and Taker are expected to wrestle at SummerSlam.

The return came at the conclusion of the Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar match. Lesnar dominated Rollins for most of the match, sans a brief flurry of offense from Rollins. Lesnar at one point hurdled the barricade in a jump that was much more impressive than it sounds. The finish came when Lesnar dropped Rollins with the F5. The ref began to count, the lights went out, the bells rang, and Undertaker was in the ring. The best part of the entire angle was Undertaker’s facials. His eyes were bulging out of his head the entire time he was in the ring. It was simply awesome! Rollins disappeared and Lesnar looked scared and confused. Taker kicked Lesnar with a low blow and eventually hit a choke slam and laid him out with two tombstones. Again it was the look on Taker’s face that put this thing over the top. The reaction from the fans made this probably the biggest “must see” WWE moment since Lesnar defeated Taker at Mania 30.

I blogged shortly after Mania 30 that a Taker vs. Lesnar Mania rematch would be a blockbuster matchup. Between the shock of the moment and Heyman’s constant taunting of Taker, I think it would have been huge which was I was surprised that Taker came back for a mid-card match with Bray Wyatt. I love the revenge angle and it will be big but I can’t help thinking that they are losing out by not pulling this angle off at the Royal Rumble and setting it up for WrestleMania 32. Regardless, this will be the first non-Mania big match the Undertaker has worked in years and that is something to get excited about.

The timing of it all does seem odd in that the WWE finally pulled the trigger on turning Lesnar babyface. The crowd has booed Heyman at any mention of the streak and the crowd in St. Louis were 100% pro-Taker when he laid out Lesnar. It will be interesting to see where things go post-SummerSlam for Lesnar and Heyman.

The finish leaves the belt on Rollins and leaves the situation between Lesnar and Rollins open. I predict with Cena winning and the ratings woes RAW has experienced this summer (although I’d expect that to end tomorrow night) that Cena will wrestle Rollins at SummerSlam and regain the WWE championship. I don’t know this nor have I seen it reported, it’s just a gut feeling reading the lay of the land and seeing Vince go back to Cena a couple of weeks ago to close out RAW.

In what will go down as one of the most disappointing, yet expected results of the night John Cena defeated Kevin Owens…by tap out. To say that fans on social media are irate would be an understatement. These two had another very good match, probably not as good as their last but very good nonetheless. I do think that having three matches so close together prevented this one from being appreciated as the classic that it was. Cena defeated Owens via tap out when Owens was caught in the STF. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I published a blog shortly after Owens won the first match reminding all of you optimists out there that Cena never loses twice in these situations. At least he’s consistent!

I can’t describe this as anything other than disappointing. Owens had a ton of steam coming out of Extreme Rules but has been marginalized ever since Payback. Owens desperately needed a win here and while he still got himself over with a loss at Payback, this was not the case at Battleground. I am not sure where you go from here. I think Owens and Cena need to be kept a part for a while. Owens will be challenging Finn Balor for the NXT title at NXT’s biggest event in history on SummerSlam weekend. However, it seems like a step backwards for Owens to win the NXT title and I think it’s too soon for Balor to lose.

Bray Wyatt defeated Roman Reigns in a bit of a shocker. The finish saw former Wyatt family member Luke Harper interfere and attack Roman Reigns outside of the ring. Bray then hit a Sister Abigail on the apron, rolled Wyatt back into the ring, and covered Reigns for the win. The match was much better than you probably would have expected. It was very similar to a house show match I saw the two have but with much better timing. At one point the crowd was chanting “This is awesome!” I am not sure if I agree with that, but it was a pretty damned good match nonetheless.

One thing that I’d like to point out is that while Harper was wearing a hooded sweatshirt it was obviously him. Yet the commentators all “had no idea” who it was, not even a guess that it could be a former Wyatt family member. I think the announcers all look like idiots while most casual fans who aren’t necessarily the “experts” can clearly see who the attacker is.

The rumor is that the finish set up the Wyatts vs. Reigns and Sting for SummerSlam. That would certainly make sense coming out of the match. It’s a great spot for Reigns who will likely avoid the booing when he is teaming with Sting. It’s also a great spot for someone like Sting to come in and help get Wyatt and Reigns over.

Full WWE Battleground matches and winners…
Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar via DQ to retain the WWE title
John Cena defeated Kevin Owens to retain the U.S. title
Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks and Brie Bella
Bray Wyatt defeated Roman Reigns
Prime Time Players defeated the New Day to retain the WWE tag team titles
Randy Orton defeated Sheamus
King Barrett defeated R-Truth

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John Cena’s WWE Future Will Be Questioned After Latest Movie Premiere

July 16, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

At some point it is going to happen. John Cena is going to leave the WWE for other pursuits. The man who has been a 15-time world champion will walk away from the company and potentially pursue an acting career. Now that his most current film “Trainwreck” is about to open in theaters, of course the questions are going to come up about his future in the ring and how many more years the “Champ” will continue as the face of the WWE.

If there was ever a time where Cena could walk away, it might be now. While the WWE has been stagnant in terms of fan support, the storylines and talent pool are both getting better. The next wave of WWE superstars are moving on up thanks in part to NXT. Monday’s declaration by Stephanie McMahon that the Divas were going to get a huge push now that Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte all made their promotional debut, means the company is finally ready to move forward.

The fans who have been crying for change for years will finally get their wish. But don’t think for a minute that Cena, who has looked as sharp as ever since claiming the United States Championship, will just walk away at a moment’s notice. Cena was interviewed by MTV UK to promote his upcoming movie, but the topic of his future did come up. Here is what was said via a report on wrestlezone.com.

“My life is with WWE. And at 38 years old I tell everybody I feel as strong and as good as ever. I think you can check out Monday Night Raw and watch any US Open challenge and my actions speak for themselves. When opportunities like this come up, I’m going to do it for the same reason that Dwayne [Johnson] has done what he’s done.

Him [Dwayne] being such a success has just gotten more eyeballs on WWE and that’s my goal. So when opportunities like this come up, I’m going to go for it. But unlike Dwayne I won’t take a sabbatical to do so, I take nothing away from his accomplishments – he is the most successful WWE superstar ever.”

Cena would be the next logical choice to make such a jump to the big screen on a full-time basis. But there is still a belief he has a few more years left in his wrestling career.

Now that Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose have all become main event talent and given the fact Brock Lesnar is now vying for the spot as the WWE’s lead babyface, Cena is really at a crossroads in his career. Watching the match between Rusev, Cesaro and Kevin Owens proved this is a company that now has better footing to make the transition from WWE that was led by Cena, Randy Orton, Kane and Big Show.

The company finally got the message and has begun the transition phase – which means the NXT stars (including Sami Zayn) will get a longer, more detailed look by the company and will further be on display for the fans to cheer (and boo) for the rest of this year and the foreseeable future.

With the Battleground pay-per-view a few days away, the match with Kevin Owens for the United States Title might have more meaning than ever – especially if Cena drops the strap. Will it be the final time we see gold around Cena’s waist? His body of work lately has been so solid, I would hate to see him fall deeper into the mid card, but maybe that is what the WWE needs to make the transition complete.

While he still remains the company’s biggest draw and marketing tool, Cena can now help the next crop of superstars become a success – hopefully as successful as he has been for the past 12 years.

In my opinion, Cena will drop the strap to Owens, which means the transition from title holder to company leader will have come full circle.

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WWE Battleground 2015 Predictions and Preview

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

The WWE will be following up the explosive Beast in the East special on the Network with Battleground. The main-event features a match fit to headline SummerSlam along with the next chapter in one of the most exciting trilogies in recent WWE history.

On paper, Battleground presents a card fit for SummerSlam. Brock Lesnar gets his long awaited rematch for the WWE world championship against Seth Rollins while John Cena and Kevin Owens attempt to top what some are calling a Match of the Year with another round for the U.S. championship.

Let’s take a look at WWE Battleground’s top matches and pick some winners…

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Maybe it’s just me and it could be, but I feel that this one is coming too early. The post-Mania angle on RAW was one of the best in ages. Yet Lesnar’s return just seems rushed and illogical considering how things went down immediately after Mania. I guess that is what happens when you rush a match a month early.

As for the match, it should be very good. Lesnar and Rollins appeared to have real good chemistry at the Royal Rumble and let’s be honest. When is the last time Lesnar has had a bad match since returning from exile? I’d expect to see a lot of Rollins flying around and a long visit to Suplex City for the world champion. So who wins?

The finish is a real interesting question. I would be inclined to say that Rollins wins on some kind of screwy finish to set up SummerSlam if not for the terrible RAW ratings as of late. Whether it is Rollins fault or not is debatable but the bottom line is that he is the top guy. How much faith does the company still have in him? Well they had John Cena close out RAW last week for the first time in months so that tells me something. I am going to go out on a limb here and predict a new champion. I don’t think Brock goes through Mania with the title but I do think the company is ready to shake things up in hopes of turning interest around right before the NFL kicks into high gear.

John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE United States Championship

I said it the second these guys were booked at Extreme Rules. Be careful what you wish for Kevin Owens’ fans because these things never end well for Cena haters. Owens and Cena are now tied up at 1 win a piece, with Owens coming off of his second high-profile loss at Beast in the East to Finn Balor. The monster Owens push while fun, now has Owens looking beatable and the company appears to be putting more stock into John Cena as he once again closed out RAW recently.

These guys have had a pair of great to excellent matches. It hasn’t been much better this year than those two matches. I saw them wrestle at the Philadelphia house show on July 10 and even then, they had a long match with a ton of action. At this point it is almost impossible for these two to have anything less than a great match. I’d expect the same back and forth match we have seen twice with some new twists as I saw in Philly on July 10.

The million dollar question here is who goes over? The finish at the house show saw Owens blatantly hit a low blow on Cena for a DQ loss. I highly doubt that is where this is going at Battleground or at least I hope not. Who needs the win more? Owens needs the win without question but history shows us that Cena doesn’t lose two in a row against new guys. The finish here will say a whole lot about how committed the company truly is to Owens. I think Owens gets the nod here which by my predictions would make two title changes on one show. That is probably not going to happen but I can’t see this one ending any other way.

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

The most disappointing post-Mania WWE feud has to be Reigns vs. Wyatt. While the idea of Wyatt messing with Reigns through his child is good, the execution has just been way off. I don’t know if it is a lack of creativity or Reigns’ inability to believe in the storyline but Reigns is just not committed to the part and it’s hurting the feud. It’s obvious to anyone watching TV that Reigns isn’t overly concerned about Wyatt and people just aren’t buying the storyline. It’s not too late to change that but Reigns really needs to connect emotionally to the storyline to get this program where it needs to be.

As for the match, I saw these guys wrestle on the same Philly house show. It was a little disappointing. I just felt that these guys were going at two different speeds. The match was also a lot slower than I would have expected and went quite a bit. I don’t know if one or both were mailing it in because it was a house show or they just aren’t clicking but it certainly wasn’t promising nine days out from Battleground.

Reigns won in Philadelphia with a school boy. I think the result and likely the finish don’t change at Battleground. I see the stage being set for Reigns to challenge for the WWE world title at SummerSlam. A clean win over Bray Wyatt sets that up quite nicely.

Full WWE Battleground 2015 card and matches…
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Ryback (c) vs. Big Show vs. The Miz in a Triple threat match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) (c) vs. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and/or Xavier Woods) for the WWE Tag Team Championship
John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE United States Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Fans Speak With Low RAW Ratings

July 02, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The RAW ratings are in for this week and people aren’t happy. The June 29 RAW did the second-lowest RAW rating for a non-holiday show in almost twenty years. The fans are sending a message and the message here is that they aren’t happy and will find something else to do with their Monday nights until things change.

I don’t blog much about the ratings because quite frankly, I am not that interested in getting caught up in the numbers. However, from time to time those numbers do wind up telling a story. The story told in recent weeks is that the WWE is losing fans and losing them fast. Yet anyone watching objectively on Monday night could have predicted after five minutes that Monday’s show was going to a ratings loser.

Ironically the rating comes after a RAW that had arguably the best match on RAW in the last twelve months. JOhn Cena and Cesaro had what I thought was one of the best RAW matches I have ever seen, certainly one of the top three if not one for the last twelve months. While you could argue the point that the numbers prove fans don’t care about great matches. I disagree as there were plenty of other contributing factors to Monday’s disappointing rating.

For starters, the main-event was announced ahead of time. That is generally a good strategic move when you have a main-event fans want to see. If Cena vs. Kevin Owens or Seth Rollins for the WWE title was promoted prior to RAW, I think you’d have some good numbers. On the flip side, if you are going to promote a main-event fans don’t want to see you may as well not bother. Fans are generally interested in seeing where things are going to go on RAW and hanging in there under the right circumstances. When you know right away your main-event is a match you have seen in several interations over the last few months, you may as well skip the show and well…they did.

Speaking of starters, let’s talk about that opening segment. I could have told you after 3 miinutes that this segment was going to lose fans and it did. Not only was it awful, but it was way too long and went absolutely nowhere. Sure that kind of “comedy” works when you have Mick Foley or The Rock in the ring but those guys weren’t there and it was terrible. I can’t imagine who would have read that script prior to RAW and thought that was a great idea. You are just flying too fast and loose when that passes quality control.

Let’s stick with the segment and the players, well the main player here. I am a Seth Rollins fan, love his work. But as I have said in a prior blog, he is not working as world champion. Fans just aren’t as engaged with his character as they should be and the numbers back it up. It’s not entirey his fault as the booking has not been good at all. One week he is running from his opponents, the next he’s not, one week he’d feuding with Kane, the next he’s not, one week he’s teasing confrontation with Triple H, the next he’s not, etc, etc. His character has been extremely inconsistent since winning the title, almost as if he’s had a different writing team writing for him every week. I like the guy but the truth is that he may be one of the worst drawing WWE champions in years.

I know you hate him but the fans miss John Cena. Not that Cena is gone, but he is nothing more than a bit player on the shows. I know you were sick of Cena but the WWE audience was not. His closing segments often did good overrun numbers and now he is nothing more than a mid-card guy. The focus off of Cena may be good for you but it’s not best for business. Don’t say I didn’t warn you but I would not be shocked to see Cena back in the WWE championship picture sooner than later.

Is it the Network? The WWE Network was a great idea in theory but have they gotten to the point where there is just too much wrestling? Fans don’t have to wait until next Monday to watch more WWE. They can go on the Network and watch as much as they want. If they are accustomed to watching WWE on Monday nights and they aren’t seeing what they like, they can just as easily find what they want on the Network, especially when you have shows like NXT that generally deliver a more compelling show. Is the WWE cannibilizing its own product with such easy access to its product?

This idea of 50/50 “Even Steven” booking has created an entire roster of WWE superstars who are essentially all the same. Other than Brock Lesnar, there are no bigger than life superstars in the WWE anymore. Who is the next big challenger for the WWE title? Who do fans want to rally behind to take the title from Seth Rollins? Who is the monster heel that fans can’t wait to see get his mouth shut by their hero? Don’t say Kevin Owens because even he is just 50% on major WWE events. I get the idea of strengthening brand over individuals but you need a handful of strong individuals to enhance the brand. The formula is simple and it worked well for Vince’s father and grand father. Yes I know this isn’t 1978 but the fundamentals of good guy vs. bad guy is exactly the same.

Which leads me to my next point. The promos are the worst they have been in years. I don’t have a problem with scripted promos if the scripts are good. The promos are all the same with the same cadence, the same “humor”, the same verbage, and the same mismatches of dialogue and character. It’s all the same!!!

Sure you can always use the summer excuse but keep in mind we have had a lot of summers since 1997 and this one is the second-lowest non-holiday rated RAW since then. It is not going to get better as there aren’t any quick fixes around the corner. Kevin Owens is a bright spot but he won’t do it alone and what faith do you have in this creative team that they will put Owens in the best position to succeed? These ratings are a wake up call and unless things change, these numbers will get a lot worse before they get any better.

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WWE Money in the Bank: John Cena Won the Match, Kevin Owens is Winning the War

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

When is the last time you saw a John Cena match and thought it might have been the best matches on the card if not THE best of the night?

Thank the good lord for Kevin Owens.

Forget the ending and the “Happy Days Moment” which really had no place after he pinned Owens. (I am so glad Cena got planted) Cena showed he can still put on one hell of a match. Owens and Cena have now fought to a 1-1 draw, where you know there will be at least one more match before this feud is over.

And we as fans welcome the chance to see the same action in the ring as the two matches before provided.

Bravo, Woot Woot! Give us more.

Owens took Cena to the limit and back many times over. And for once, maybe the Cena we are all witnessing is the Cena we should have been seeing all along. For years, many of us have thought Cena has been rigid, unwilling to sell and did not want to sell principle for a chance to give others a spot at the top of the mountain.

For the past two months, we have seen Cena in a new realm. The United States Title is the strap by which wrestlers get over with the help of the 15-time world champion. Yes, times are changing in the WWE. And frankly, Cena has earned more of my respect. I am not a Cena fan for his in-ring performance (while I think what he does for Make-A-Wish and cancer research is pretty freaking awesome), but the change in his attitude and demeanor has brought me to understand that Cena’s role with the company is one of mentor not just moneymaker.

One of the things I appreciated about Ric Flair more than anything was his ability to sell for his opponents and help them make money. He did that for Sting, Barry Windham, Lex Luger and others throughout his career. Maybe some of that “Woooo!” is rubbing off on “Everyone’s All American.”

There is no doubt there will be another match between Cena and Owens and no doubt it might be better than the performance we saw Sunday night. It will be hard to top, but Cena makes Owens a better wrestler and vice versa.

There comes a time in every athlete’s career where they realize there are others who are better or more charismatic or they have that “it” factor that will make them great. Owens, in a very short time, has proven he can take arguably the greatest to ever wrestle in this promotion to the limit and to a place I thought was only reserved for the likes of CM Punk. I was wrong. Kevin Owens is on par with John Cena – there is no doubt about that.

But once the magic is gone, meaning Cena is no longer the object of Owens anger, who takes his place? Which WWE superstar will be pared with the NXT champion? Will it be someone like Randy Orton or will the company as Dolph Ziggler to do the honors? A loss tonight did not hurt the momentum Owens has created – especially after he assaulted Cena after the match. The WWE must be careful how they package Owens and book him after the Cena feud. He cannot just go back to NXT and be the forgotten foe. This will certainly test the creative team in Stamford to give Owens the platform to continue to jump off of.

In this case, losing to John Cena is not the end of the world for Kevin Owens. In fact, the loss tonight got him over more with the fans and like the current US champ said, he belongs in a WWE ring. Let’s just hope he does not become a forgotten man once he leaves the ring with the man who helped put him over in the first place.

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