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Odd Timing For Randy Orton WWE Babyface Turn

October 21, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

We all knew it was coming. The Viper and Seth Rollins have been teasing tension for weeks. Yet nobody thought less than a week before Hell in a Cell and with a hot Dean Ambrose on fire that this would be the week the WWE would turn Orton.

In case you missed it, Rollins turned on Orton this past Monday on RAW. Orton and Rollins teased the issue throughout the show. Finally after the main-event Rollins hit Orton with a curbstomp to solidify the turn and kick Orton out of the Authority, well seemingly anyway. It wasn’t the turn that surprised me, it was the timing.

I just don’t see the logic in turning Orton right now. Is he suddenly over with the fans? Did the fans demand a change? If so I must be living under a rock because I haven’t seen it. Are they weak on babyfaces? Is business way down? Did Orton demand it? I just don’t get it…at least right now anyway.

For starters they have a big show on Sunday. Now you go into Sunday with fans more interested in seeing a match that isn’t even advertised. The match is Orton vs. Rollins and the fastest we will get that is TLC, barring a RAW giveaway. It makes Ambrose vs. Rollins seem insignificant as well as the entire show. Sure the match should be great, probably a match of the year candidate, but to casual fans it an obstacle to the payoff they want to see.

Speaking of Ambrose, what does this do to his push? Ambrose has been pushed hard since Roman Reigns went down as the number two babyface. He is hot and something new and the fans seem to like him. Does anyone think that Orton is taking a backseat to Ambrose? This is an obvious sign that the company has little confidence in Ambrose as the number two banana on Cena’s side.

And speaking of Roman Reigns, what does this do to the heir apparent? The plans have been to push Reigns as the next heir apparent to John Cena’s throne. Does Orton take a backseat to Reigns? He should if Reigns is the future but I am not so confident that the WWE brass will allow it. Orton has always been protected at the expense of others, and this could do some real damage to Reigns moving forward.

I would not be surprised to see some kind of a Reigns heel turn when he comes back. I could easily see a feud with him and Ambrose, playing off of the real-life story of Ambrose taking Reigns’ spot while he was out. Now that would make sense and at least even up the sides a bit. Without a Reigns turn, you have a heel side headlined by Rollins and Rusev and a very part-time Brock Lesnar at this point. Take Brock out of it and you have problems.

Finally, where does this leave Daniel Bryan when he returns? Granted, his return is undetermined at this point and you can’t plan for something that you don’t know is coming. Yet at some point he will come back and he will likely be super over when he comes back (absence makes a fan’s heart grow fonder). So now you are talking about Orton, Cena, Ambrose, and Reigns jockeying for position against a heel roster of Rollins and Rusev? Excuse me if I temper my excitement.

Again I don’t think anyone cares one way or the other about what side of the ring Orton stands on. I just think the timing is poor and it opens up a lot of questions, most which have predictable answers that won’t sit happy with most fans.

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Is Randy Orton Becoming a Cancer for Vince McMahon’s WWE?

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

Over the course of the last decade, Randy Orton has had his share of issues with the WWE and its management and its roster. To say he is a slight bit privileged would be an understatement. The 12-Time World Champion has had a hand in other formidable wrestlers rise (Mark Henry) to the top of the company food chain. He has also had a bug say in some wrestlers (Kofi Kingston) not achieving the success they deserve. Now with the need for more star talent and a bigger need for success, owner Vince McMahon is asking one of his key veterans – Orton – to step up and work more on SmackDown.

So far, according to reports, Orton is refusing the assignment.

It is being reported that SmackDown officials asked Randy Orton to work full time, but he refused. It seems that Randy Orton is unhappy with McMahon and his current role with the WWE. He is allegedly asking for more time off from the ring, while McMahon wants him to give more time.

One of the reasons for Orton’s unhappiness is most likely tied to the fact that instead of fighting a championship bout, he was forced to fight the loser of the Dean Ambrose versus John Cena match.

However, McMahon knows that Orton is currently one of the biggest stars in professional wrestling. He also knows that the WWE is not the brand that it used to be. Top athletes are not lining up at the pace they were a decade ago for a chance at WWE stardom. Perhaps the threat of serious injury is keeping people away?

I see Orton’s point, but I can see both sides of the fence. While McMahon, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have had to deal with the loss of Daniel Bryan to injury, which put a huge sinkhole in the WWE World Title picture, then had to make new arrangements with a potential title feud between Brock Lesnar – who is a part-time champion right now – and Roman Reigns being put on hold because of Reigns being injured, this is an extremely difficult time for the company.

He is a 12-time world champion, holding the WWE Championship eight times and the World Heavyweight Championship four times, and was the final holder of the World Heavyweight Championship before it was unified with the WWE Championship to create the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Orton is a third-generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Bob Orton, Sr., his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and his uncle Barry Orton all competed in the professional wrestling business. Before being promoted to the main World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) roster, Orton trained in and wrestled for Mid-Missouri Wrestling Association-Southern Illinois Conference Wrestling for a month. He was then sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he held the OVW Hardcore Championship twice.

In the past, the WWE has had talent to step in and replace a spot in the lineup, but those days seem to be gone. There is plenty of talent in the mid-card division with Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Damien Sandow, Cesaro and Sheamus, it almost seems like the WWE needs to make that part of the company a priority.

The company has done right with making Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins the center of attention at the upcoming pay-per-view, “Hell-in-a-Cell.” Rollins appears to be the new “anti-hero” the fans love in the mold of Steve Austin and then in CM Punk. Rollins has all the makings of another “Edge-type” of superstar.

So while McMahon begs Orton to work, and Orton stews over being disrespected, the WWE is still in a situation where the fans are waiting for something big to finally happen.

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Randy Orton: The WWE Shows No Respect for the Viper

September 26, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

You could make a list of wrestlers in the WWE who have been most affected by both the injury to Daniel Bryan and the recent news that Roman Reigns will be out for months following emergency hernia surgery. When you weed through the bushes and check and cross check the roster, no one is more affected by these changes than Randy Orton.

For the first time, in a long time, I find myself defending the WWE’s most underrated and most problematic heel.

Orton is in no man’s land in terms of opponents, title contention and a future than remains uncertain. How the mighty fall quickly when the other walls holding up the structure begin to crumble.

The best way out of this is to create potential tension within the Authority, which could lead to a character change (again) and a feud with Brock Lesnar. There is no doubt Orton is a centerpiece to build around, not an addition or afterthought. The idea he is cleaning up for Seth Rollins (as is Kane) shows the company (Triple H, especially) is losing some marbles and are shortsighted in a long-range plan.

Also, could Orton turn on his current band mates and fill the role left by CM Punk as a fight the establishment type of wrestler.

Orton is much better on the mic in recent years and is not as robotic as he used to be and in his veteran years, he has learned to sell better and put his opponents over when the time is right.

He is a 12-time world champion, holding the WWE Championship eight times and the World Heavyweight Championship four times, and was the final holder of the World Heavyweight Championship before it was unified with the WWE Championship to create the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Orton is a third-generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Bob Orton, Sr., his father “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and his uncle Barry Orton all competed in the professional wrestling business. Before being promoted to the main World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) roster, Orton trained in and wrestled for Mid-Missouri Wrestling Association-Southern Illinois Conference Wrestling for a month. He was then sent to Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), where he held the OVW Hardcore Championship twice.

He may actually, he may be the most talented wrestler to grace a WWE ring. A number of years ago Roddy Piper said Orton’s father, Bob Orton, Jr. was as close to a perfect wrestler as there was. In my opinion, Randy is a better version.

When Orton and Reigns began their personal feud, it was a scenario that would eventually make Reigns a world champion. Orton appeared to be the common link that would join the former member of The Shield and the best villain the WWE has had since Mark Henry.

While there are limitations to a feud with Lesnar because of the current champion’s schedule and potentially his health, it makes complete sense. Because if his main event talent and his status within the company, Orton, not Cena, appears to be the logical choice to face Lesnar. A Lesnar-Orton main event at the Royal Rumble or even WrestleMania is not out of the question.

John Cena, although still a main eventer, is losing steam and losing it fast. Reigns seems to want it more. Dean Ambrose wants it more and even Seth Rollins wants it more.

Also, the lack of television and in ring appearances by Lesnar could create more issues. He must move on from John Cena and find an opponent who will work well with Paul Heyman.

The man, over and above everyone on the roster right now, is Orton.

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Rumored WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Card and Matches

September 25, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Early indications following WWE Night of Champions is that Hell in a Cell would see a Triple Threat match in the main-event. A new report indicates a different direction and a card that makes little to no sense coming out of N.O.C.

Dave Meltzer broke the story on his latest F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer reports something of a tournament-style card to headline Hell in a Cell. According to the Meltz, John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose will likely open up the special event. The winner of the match would then wrestle Seth Rollins in a Hell in a Cell later that night while the loser would wrestle Randy Orton in a different Hell in a Cell match.

Come again?

My reaction is probably the same as yours. That card makes very little sense to me. Now it should be noted that Meltzer reports that this card is not finalized, yet these are the current plans on the books. I can only hope that someone has enough sense to change the card otherwise you are looking at another can-miss event which is becoming more of the norm for the WWE in 2014.

Meltzer also reported that Brock Lesnar would not be on the card, thus no WWE championship match. This appears to be a company choice as there were several reports out a few weeks back that indicated the WWE could book Lesnar for additional dates outside of his current limited agreement. The finish to Cena vs. Lesnar at N.O.C. makes even less sense with Lesnar off of the show and this current card on the books.

I think the WWE are going to be playing with some fire if they go through with the Ambrose vs. Cena match. Ambrose has a ton of heat right now with a lot of momentum going in his direction. Cena will get booed unmercifully against Ambrose at this point. Furthermore, the logical finish here is Cena going over since he is scheduled to remain in WWE title contention. So they aren’t going to book Cena to lose unless they have a change of plans and put Ambrose in that spot. Which coincidentally I think they should do, but can’t imagine them doing.

Poor Randy Orton. Randy Orton is now the loser’s winner. This makes no sense to me at all. The only scenario I can come up with that makes any sense would be to book a tag team match with Ambrose and Cena vs. Orton and Rollins in a Hell in a Cell Match. Otherwise I can’t comprehend how any of this makes sense, especially with Brock getting the night off.

I understand that the WWE has their hands tied due to injuries and Lesnar’s schedule (although they can reportedly add dates). That’s understandable. That doesn’t defend throwing a card together that makes very little sense. I have to think they can do better than that.

I think going with an Ambrose vs. Rollins Hell in a Cell headliner right off the bat with the MITB contract at stake is probably the best scenario. For starters you are now giving fans the perception that Rollins and Ambrose are main-event players. Two, it puts a heavy importance on their feud. Three, it gives Rollins and Ambrose the time needed to deliver an all-time classic and I have no doubt in my mind that they would. It’s a much better investment in the future than what is currently in planning.

Regardless, we should know by Monday night which direction the company will go at Hell in a Cell. Let’s just hope that the weekend allows for some more creativity and a logical resolution come Monday night.

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Thoughts

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

The WWE did what was best for business Sunday night by hitting a home run with its SummerSlam pay-per-view event in Los Angeles. Not since WrestleMania 28 have we been so entertained with matches that made wrestling matter and help define the next four months of the wrestling calendar.

For now, we know everything belongs to Brock Lesnar, the Bellas are headed for a crash course in sibling rivalry and the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins feud is far from over. But what may puzzle me most is what happens now that the biggest wrestling event of the summer is over and John Cena will now fall down the ladder a bit, AJ Lee and Paige will feud like Trish and Lita and the company did the right thing by putting the Intercontinental strap on Dolph Ziggler.

Everything was almost perfect (with the exception of the final match of the night) but by dominating John Cena, it proves that Vince McMahon wants to go the super heavyweight route for a bit while Roman Reigns may finally get his shot to become a world champion. As we all know, Brock Lesnar is not going to stick around the company week in and week out, which should make for interesting booking and a lot of Paul Heyman on the boob tube for us to watch.

Let start off by saying there was no way Cena was walking out of Los Angeles with the strap. The legitimacy of Lesnar’s win over the Undertaker was at stake, seriously, and had Superman” won, the win by Lesnar would have lost some steam. The former UFC champion beat the company’s two biggest stars in the same year, four months apart and now must find a viable competitor to meet him head on.

Um, excuse me, it is your turn Roman Reigns.

The WWE may be faced with a quandary for its actions. Cena will get a rematch for the title, but won’t win. Lesnar cannot lose the strap for a few months, mainly because it defies logic. Reigns challenging him is a good idea, which runs over two months and could end in the former member of the Shield with the title then embarking on a feud with Bray Wyatt. Ultimately, I could see Wyatt winning, then feuding with Daniel Bryan upon his return. Bryan wins the title holds it for a glimpse of time, and Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank brief case.

The cold winter months will heat up as the WWE continues to make sense of all the chutzpah from Sunday. What happens with Ziggler?

Personally, I like the feud with The Miz, as it adds solid competition in the mid card. At some point there has to be a unification match for the United States and Intercontinental titles. Don’t look now, but Bad News Barrett will be breathing down our necks again, and pretty soon. I love the idea of Sheamus and Barrett feuding, but I love the idea of them working together even more as a tag team. Maybe that comes to fruition.

I’m not sure what will happen with Jack Swagger or Rusev. Maybe he and his mouthpiece Lana piss America off enough that Cena will feel the need to defend Old Glory. That also means Cena is finished as a world champion and has agreed to step aside from title contention.

Getting back to the beginning, this pay-per-view did more to change the perception of the WWE for good than anything in the past year.

Kudos to the company for making the changes, but good luck in finding the right fit for everything now that the puzzle pieces do not fit in place anymore

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Results & Recap: Brock Wins, Shield Shine

August 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Brock Lesnar era is back! Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena to win the WWE championship in the 27th SummerSlam main-event. The  show will be remembered for the most one-sided headliner in SummerSlam history and a match of the year candidate between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

Brock Lesnar squashed John Cena to win the WWE world title. There are very few WWE matches that I get excited about these days but this was one of them. Their Extreme Rules 2012 match is still one of my favorite matches of the last several years. The rematch didn’t disappoint although I liked the more competitive Extreme Rules bout better. Lesnar hit an F5 in the first minute of the match! Lesnar continued to toss Cena around for a while, making it look easy. The storyline early was Cena trying to fight back with no success against Brock. The announcers put over the fact that Cena couldn’t mount any offense in the first five minutes of the match. Lesnar hit several suplexes on Cena. Cena eventually fought back and hit an A.A. for a close fall. Lesnar got up like the Undertaker and laughed it off. Lesnar beat down Cena in the middle of the ring. Lesnar hit over a dozen German suplexes on Cena throughout the match. Cena caught Lesnar out of nowhere in the STFU. Lesnar got out, hit another F5 and pinned Cena to win the WWE world championship.

This was a different match. It was extremely one-sided which may put off some but it is hard to argue with the drama. I am real surprised to see Cena on the wrong side of such a one-sided match. The booking of Lesnar is brilliant as the guy who beats him is going to be an instant legend. I am not sure where this goes but I am real excited to see how the reign of Lesnar plays out.

I don’t know how anyone can argue with the booking decision. Lesnar is arguably the most recognizable superstar in the WWE. While it doesn’t matter much in this era, Lesnar is a throwback as a shooter world champion. Lesnar is a difference maker and a proven ratings and buy rate draw. The biggest question here is how long Lesnar will hold the the title. Lesnar’s contract is fairly public and most are aware that Lesnar has limited dates on his deal. He is scheduled for Night of Champions yet there are a ton of rumors that indicate he could hold the title through WrestleMania 30.

Stephanie McMahon pinned Brie Bella and yes, this feud will continue. Quite frankly there was nothing wrong with the match. Nothing was botched and they actually put on one of the better Diva matches you’ll see on WWE television. Getting more time than any other Divas match in recent memory (sans NXT matches) had a lot to do with it. Unfortunately as great as Stephanie is, at the end of the day you are still counting on the fans to get behind Brie Bella. They didn’t. Triple H was more over than either one of them when he walked out. Triple H walked out after Brie hit a Thesz Press. Nikki came out as well. Brie locked in the Yes Lock on Stephanie. Triple H pulled the referee out of the ring. Triple H pointed to Nikki. Brie slid through the ropes and kicked Triple H from the ring to the floor. I should also note that this was far and away the best Brie has ever looked. Nikki came in the ring to confront Stephanie who was sandwiched between the Bellas. Nikki decked Stephanie and turned on her sister. The fans ate that up. Unfortunately for those of us that follow WWE in the news this was a rumored angle for a few weeks now. Stephanie pedigreed Brie for the pin and the win.

Again I think Stephanie has been great and I enjoyed their segments but the fans don’t care about Brie. The proof is in the ratings which show that this angle has lost viewers every week. Nikki looked disappointed as she walked to the back. The disappointment here is that this feud will continue.

Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose in a thriller. This match was outstanding! I didn’t expect much with the lumberjack stip and I was wrong. The fans ate this up which created a tremendous atmosphere for the bout. These guys wound up brawling all over the arena regardless. The action never stopped here in and out of the ring. Ambrose wound up splashing the lumberjacks at one point from the top to the outside area. Ambrose hit Rollins with a Curb Stomp for the pin. Kane broke up the pin attempt which prompted Goldust to hit the ring. Kane dropped Goldust and all hell broke loose. The lumberjacks all came into the ring and brawled. Ambrose tossed out Rowan and Harper only to be caught by Rollins from behind with the briefcase. I can’t say enough great things about this match. It was fantastic and lived up to the billing.

Roman Reigns defeated Randy Orton. I wouldn’t call it a bad match but the timing was a killer. These guys were sandwiched between Brie-Stephanie and Cena-Lesnar. Reigns hit a Samoan Drop off of the top and a Superman Punch and still couldn’t pin Orton. Orton hit a big RKO for a close fall. It’s hard to call it a setback in Reigns’ progress. The match probably would have been better received put elsewhere on the card. The placement certainly did these guys no favors. Reigns eventually hit a spear for the win.

Reigns is touted as the next big thing in the WWE with an expected push to rival John Cena’s. I think at another time that may work but the bar has been set to high. After watching Brock vs. Cena and Rollins vs. Ambrose tonight I just don’t think Reigns has the chops to carry that spot with those guys nipping at his heels underneath. Time will tell but I am becoming more dubious by the week.

Full SummerSlam 2014 results and winners…
Brock Lesnar defeated John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Bray Wyatt defeated Chris Jericho with Erick Rowan & Luke Harper banned from ringside
Stephanie McMahon defeated Brie Bella
Rusev defeated Jack Swagger in a Flag match
Paige defeated AJ Lee to retain the WWE Divas Championship
Roman Reigns defeated Randy Orton
Seth Rollins defeated Dean Ambrose in a Lumberjack match
Dolph Ziggler defeated The Miz to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Rob Van Dam defeated Cesaro

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SummerSlam 2014 Predictions and Preview

August 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Sunday is WWE’s Summerslam, the “Wrestlemania of the summer” where the stakes usually get higher and the matches become more high profile.

Unfortunately for us, the WWE thinks making the main event a good one and the rest of the card look like your standard RAW is enough to make us sign up for the Network (just $9.99!) or order on pay-per-view. Seriously, outside of Wrestlemania, every pay-per-view is starting to feel the same. Just the same matches we see over and over and over again, like someone swapped out the marker for the dry-erase board in the back with a permanent marker. “Shit, guys. Reigns vs Orton won’t come off the board, what do I do? Eh, don’t worry about it. No one will notice.”

Still, there are matches on the card and somebody has to predict them. That’s where yours truly comes in. Let’s get to it.

Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee © vs Paige

What will happen: This will be a good back-and-forth match with Paige trying to out-crazy the originator of being crazy. Paige will look like she has the upper hand near the end of the match, only for the crafty veteran AJ to either steal a flash pin or slap on the Black Widow for the win.

What should happen: Pretty much that. Just have a good match, that’s all I’m really asking for here.

Flag Match – Jack Swagger vs Rusev

What will happen: Swagger will likely go over Rusev after a scuffle between Lana and Zeb, more than likely via the Patriot Lock. It’ll be a decent hoss match because these guys are capable of hossing the shit out of anyone, but nothing to write home about.

What should happen: Rusev should just super-kick Swagger in the face, slap the Accolade on him and scream “this is for killing Ziggler’s title run!” over and over while Lana stands off to the side cackling in her “there’s no way that’s regulation” pantsuit.

Intercontinental Title Match – The Miz © vs Dolph Ziggler

What will happen: This is kind of a hard one to figure out. Dolph has been getting pushed again, but the Miz just won the title last month. It wouldn’t make a ton of sense to put the belt on him only to take it right off of him, but the WWE is a world of stop-and-start pushes so anything is possible here.

What should happen: I’m a fan of Hollywood Miz. His “I’m the Marine, damnit!” may have been the best line uttered all year and it was great because he believes it. He should retain in as shady and heelish a manner as possible and go on an extended run with the IC belt. Someone needs to, because that belt has become barely more relevant than the Divas championship and no one in the WWE has noticed.

Lumberjack Match – Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins

What will happen: Rollins will be on the defensive most of the match but will ultimately pull out some scummy way to win. Ambrose will continue the fight, chasing Rollins out because this is of course another episode of RAW.

What should happen: Ambrose should steal the win, simply to give Rollins a reason to want to keep fighting the guy. Seriously, he’s crazy and keeps ruining all of Rollins’ title shots. Why would Seth want to keep dealing with this guy unless he loses to him?

Randy Orton vs Roman Reigns

What will happen: Orton will likely control the bulk of this match, slithering into position to strike (get it, because he’s a snake) before Reigns battles back, hits all of his big spots and gets the win. Again: this is every week of RAW.

What should happen: Orton comes out and spends all of his time cutting a promo where he over-explains things, leaving little time for the actual match to happen.

Chris Jericho vs Bray Wyatt (Harper and Rowan banned from ringside)

What will happen: Wyatt will score the decisive win which will somehow negate the fact that he already lost clean with to Jericho at Battleground with Harper and Rowan there.

What should happen: Wyatt wins and the Family comes back down to beat Jericho within an inch of his life to remind you of why you’re supposed to be afraid of Wyatt. Sometimes actions are louder than words, Bray.

Brie Bella vs Stephanie McMahon

What will happen: Brie will score the big win that will change nothing since Stephanie will remain her boss who can do anything she wants at any time.

What should happen: Stephanie should just throttle Brie for a solid five minutes while screaming “you’re a terrible person, Brie! Why would they cheer for you? You can’t mom dance like me, Brie!” It’s all true.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match – John Cena © vs Brock Lesnar

What will happen: Cena will battle and battle before Brock ultimately scores the fall and wins the title, making Cena look valiant even in the face of defeat because clearly Cena is a guy who needs to be made to look good at this point.

What should happen: Brock should literally tear Cena limb from limb while doing his weird pterodactyl scream. Just blood, vomit and urine everywhere before Brock exits with a “BYAH!” and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. John Cena will recover from his dismemberment the next night.

Full SummerSlam 2014 card and matches…
John Cena (c) vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho with Erick Rowan & Luke Harper banned from ringside
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev in a Flag match
AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige for the WWE Divas Championship
Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns
The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack match

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Predictions and Preview

August 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The 27th edition of WWE SummerSlam will host the biggest fight of the summer this Sunday night. Brock Lesnar will challenge John Cena for the WWE world title in a highly anticipated rematch while Stephanie McMahon comes out of retirement to take on Brie Bella in the semi-main event.

This year’s SummerSlam presents one of the strongest main-events in recent years on the event with several intriguing matches underneath. The headliner and co-headliner matches are what have everyone talking yet a quick look up and down the card shows something for everyone. Let’s take a look at the lineup and make some not so bold predictions heading into Sunday’s special event.

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena for the WWE world championship - I may be alone but this I have been looking forward to his rematch since Extreme Rules 2012. Their previous encounter was my choice for Match of the Year in 2012 and I see no reason that round two can’t equal or exceed the excitement of the first.

What I do know is that John Cena and Brock Lesnar work great together. I see this match playing out exactly as their first. The whole idea here is that Brock is going to inflict punishment on Cena and give him the most physical match he has had since their first go-around. The intriguing aspect of this match is that Brock has no ring-rust going into this one as opposed to the long layoff he had going into Extreme Rules 12’. If anything, Brock should be even better on this night.

Social media went ballistic when Cena pinned Lesnar two years ago. I don’t see it happening again. It would be downright foolish for the WWE not to take advantage of Lesnar’s momentum coming out of Mania 30. Now the one question I have had all along is whether they would put the belt on Brock knowing Brock is a part-time performer. I don’t think it’s an issue and as far as we know, they could have worked out an extension. I think Brock goes over here. It’s the right and only choice to make. He should have had the belt back a long time ago yet as they say, good things come to those who wait.

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon - This is a very odd match. It’s second from the top and quite frankly, it has been spotlighted in recent weeks as if it was the headline attraction. The storyline is fantastic and the angles have been a lot of fun. The fans are eating it up live, yet the ratings tell a different story on the overall interest. Regardless, it’s happening and we all have to deal with it.

How good can this one be? Well it depends. Are they going to get cute and have them wrestle over 10 minutes or are they going to gimmick it up and keep it under 10 (which I think is the way to go)? I would be shocked if Daniel Bryan doesn’t make a cameo here. Quite frankly it would make no sense for him not to be there. His wife is wrestling in the biggest match of her career and he’s at home? Unfortunately his injuries could preclude him from taking part in the finish.

I think Brie wins this one. I don’t think it really matters but with the heel going over on top, it only makes sense for the babyface to go over in this one. It may not be pretty but if they keep it short, it will be fun to watch.

Winner: Brie Bella

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack Match - Are we finally going to get this one? According to Ambrose it is card subject to change so you never really know? I think we get it and I think it’s going to be great.

The lumberjack aspect is very odd to me. This is a match that needs to have a lot of outside ring work and brawling. Keeping them in the ring is fine, but it eliminates a real exciting element to the feud. I almost think it was done purposely as to not have them show up the main-event. Whether it is a conspiracy or not, they will be handicapped because I can’t think of many great lumberjack matches I have watched in my lifetime.

Ambrose has to win this one. My hunch is that this feud will continue through Survivor Series. Having Ambrose lose the first one eliminates the need for round two. I look for some kind of interference to backfire (maybe Randy Orton) and give Ambrose a slightly tainted win. I will keep my expectations low and wait until Night of Champions to see the show-stealer.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton - This is arguably the most important match on the card. Reigns is the chosen one and the superstar the company has identified to be their next big thing. This is Reigns’ first big singles match and a dud here could stop his progress instantly. Fans can forgive a good match but a bad match or even terrible match will have a lot of people second guessing themselves on the big man.

I don’t think Orton gets enough credit. He has turned it around in recent years and has helped a lot of young talent on their way to the top. I think he is more capable of pulling a great match out of Reigns than most people think. The interesting question here is how long do you go? Do you test Reigns out and go 20 or do you protect him and keep it under 10? I say you keep it under 10 and progress slowly but you never know what this company is going to do.

I think Reigns wins but it isn’t going to be clean. I can see Kane getting involved in the finish here with Orton getting screwed. The seeds have been planted for an Orton turn and hey, it was last year at SummerSlam when Orton officially turned heel. I don’t see how you put Orton over Reigns unless it is with a large amount of interference. I think this match surprises some of you and it ends with Reigns getting his hand raised.

Winner: Roman Reigns

Full SummerSlam 2014 card and matches…
John Cena (c) vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Bray Wyatt vs. Chris Jericho with Erick Rowan & Luke Harper banned from ringside
Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon
Jack Swagger vs. Rusev in a Flag match
AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige for the WWE Divas Championship
Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns
The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack match

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The Randy Orton-Roman Reigns Dance in the WWE

August 08, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

If I want to know about professional wrestling from an authority, I usually look to my good friend Tom Clark. As a fellow wrestling and CB writer, Tom Clark is far more knowledgeable than I on the world of wrestling and its business.

So when he wrote a story for another online publication about the importance of Randy Orton to Roman Reigns ascension up the WWE ladder, I could not agree more with his assessment. Wrestling is a series of chain reactions and a series of chess moves that are used to build programs, increase popularity in performers and excite fans enough to pay at the gate and for pay-per-view events. But it is true for every top performer in the WWE or WCW or NWA or whatever wrestling promotion that existed, stars became stars because others have pushed them to the top.

There are two sides to the Orton/Reigns conflict that make so much sense. Reigns needs a huge performer for his rise in the ranks. Orton is the right choice to make Reigns the star the WWE wants him to be – on the same path that the third-generation wrestler took, the same path that allowed The Rock to become a star, the same road traveled by the likes of Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin and Triple H.

I have always said, even when it came to other sports, athletes make other athletes better.

Larry Bird needed Magic Johnson. Andre Agassi needed Pete Sampras. Emmitt Smith needed Walter Payton. And in the wrestling world it is no different.

“The speculation on Reigns for quite some time has been that he is WWE’s next top guy, the heir apparent to John Cena. It’s a notion that began as something just blowing in the breeze among the wrestling community,” Clark said in a story on Bleacher Report.

A lot of the great we saw as children needed a push as well. Ric Flair spoke highly of Harley Race and Ken Patera helping him get to the top of the food chain in his biography, “To Be the Man.” Triple H could not have been as successful as he was without Killer Kowalski’s guidance. The Von Erichs (David, Kevin, Kerry) were trained by their father, Fritz Von Erich. Steve Austin credits Scott Casey as the one who got him to the game. Rick Steamboat needed Flair to put him over in the NWA.

Reigns has been on a roller coaster of sorts lately, but has not gotten to the top of the apex yet.

Orton has a reputation for being an ass when it comes to working with younger talent (i.e. Kofi Kingston), but this is a program where Reigns could match the 12-time World Champion move for move and word for word. This is not a situation where John Cena will not put someone like Bray Wyatt over because he is afraid to lose is spot.

“Now, Reigns is rubbing elbows with WWE’s elite. To see him challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is nothing new; he worked the ladder match for the belt at Money in the Bank, and then competed in the Fatal 4-Way match at Battleground. In both instances, Reigns fit right in with WWE’s heavy hitters and that includes Cena,” Clark added.

If the WWE is going to continue to move forward, it needs to allow the eventual change of winds happen in the business. It is a process that cannot be forced and cannot be rushed. But there must also be caution in not stepping in between change and success. The combination could mean suicide for the industry and destroy a potentially great champion to fall off the ladder.

In Reigns’ case, the fall would be catastrophic and could hurt the company in ratings and in confidence amongst its fan base – something it cannot afford to do.

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Top Five WWE Money In The Bank Matches

June 26, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE Money in the Bank match has produced some of the most exciting moments of the last ten years. The glorified ladder match features daredevil heroics, extreme punishment, and intense action. Today I look back and celebrate the top five Money in the Bank matches in WWE history.

I don’t think anyone realized in 2005 when the WWE announced the first Money in the Bank match the significance this match would have on wrestling history. Stars were made, history was written, and memories have been cemented forever thanks to this innovative match. With two new matches around the corner I thought today would be a great time to look back and count down the top matches in MITB history. Since we aren’t quite ten years into MITB I went with a top five as opposed to a top ten. Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or want to mention your favorite Money in the Bank match memory.

Edge defeats Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Christian and Kane – WrestleMania 21

I can’t think of another MITB match that was more exciting than the one at WrestleMania 21. I think the big difference here was that it was the first. The match just had more intensity and crowd emotion than any other due to the fact that nobody knew what to expect. The match was full of crazy spots that fans hadn’t seen before or lumped into one match. It is hard to replicate the element of surprise that the first match had at 21. Spots like the Benoit diving headbutt and Benjamin running up the ladder had fans stunned in amazement at this new kind of match.

Not that this should be part of the criteria but it also had the biggest impact in regards to elevating a star. Edge won and once he cashed in became an established WWE elite superstar for the rest of his career. No other winner has taken as much away from this match as Edge did in 2005.

Mr. Kennedy defeated CM Punk, Edge, Finlay, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, King Booker and Randy Orton – WrestleMania 23

I liked this match a lot and even though it was one of the longer MITB matches, it kept me interested from bell to bell. Edge and Orton bumped up the star presence here while the Hardys brought a ton of excitement to the match with the anticipation alone of what these guys would do in this environment. In terms of MITB moments, the spots between Jeff and Edge were some of the best in MITB history. Jeff’s jump on Edge is arguably the greatest spot in MITB history. What those guys did alone made this match great, yet it was a great effort from all back at 23, and the surprise winner in Kennedy was a nice touch.

CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Carlito, Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, John Morrison and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 24

I was surprised at how much I liked this match when I went back and watched all of the old MITB matches. On paper it looks pretty average but these guys went far beyond anything I expected going into the match. It did get a little spot-crazy at times but that is to be expected in such a match. Shelton Benjamin really stepped it up here and John Morrison was in his element, delivering a moonsault with a ladder in his hand at one point. Matt Hardy’s spectacular 20-foot Twist of Fate remains the highlight of this match for me.

Alberto Del Rio defeated Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Alex Riley, R-Truth, The Miz, Evan Bourne and Jack Swagger – Money in the Bank 2011

I debated a bit about the four spot here but in the end I went with the RAW MITB match from last year’s memorable show in Chicago. This match delivered on a lot of levels with the guys going out of their way to give fans plenty of breathtaking memories. Between Evan Bourne’s shooting star press 20 feet in the air, The Miz falling off the ladder, Mysterio and Kofi’s double leap, and Rey Mysterio getting unmasked, this was one of the more fun Money in the Bank matches. The hot Chicago crowd certainly didn’t hurt this one from entering the top five either.

CM Punk defeated Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Finlay, Mark Henry, Kane, Kofi Kingston and Montel Vontavious Porter – WrestleMania 25

I struggled quite a bit with the final spot here. I went back and forth between this one, last year’s MITB match, and the SmackDown match from the Chicago 2011 pay per view. In the end, the MITB WrestleMania 25 match was just too good to leave off the list. Shelton Benjamis was the show stealer in this one giving fans some of the best spots of the night in this match. One moment in particular saw Benjamin leap off the ladder placed in the aisle onto his MITB opponents. Watching these MITB matches reminded me how good Benjamin was and had me wondering why he isn’t the WWE today! Kofi also had his moments, one in particular had Kofi deliver a kick through the side of the ladder and climb the ladder while it was closed. Another saw Kofi run up the ladder and fall into a World’s Strongest Slam. Christian also had his moment hitting an Unprettier to Punk off the ladder. This match had a lot of great moments and is often one of the more underrated matches of the MITB series.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Top 25 Best WWE B-Show PPV Events In History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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