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Sting Post-RAW Promo From WWE Network

March 17, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

If you don’t have the WWE Network or haven’t followed any of the wrestling news websites online you probably have no idea that Sting cut his first real WWE promo following RAW on Monday night. It was short, it was on point, it was pretty darn good and it’s right here for those of you that missed it.

Count me in as one of many who had no idea that Sting was on the WWE Network last night. The buzz from most insiders is that the WWE didn’t want Sting cutting promos because they didn’t feel he was very good in WCW. That would explain the horrible Black Scorpion-ish promo last week. However, if there is anyone in or out of the WWE that doesn’t think Sting can cut a good promo, well they need to watch this clip. The Stinger is on fire and it’s awesome!

This all begs the question as to why in the world would the WWE give away Sting’s first “real” interview on the WWE Network? Why not put it on television and get people excited enough to buy the Network to see WrestleMania 31? The people watching him Monday night on the Network already have it so in that sense, the promo is a real lost opportunity in my opinion. The marketing behind this seems completely backwards to me.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is pretty cool to see and hear Sting talk in a WWE ring. I will admit that I wasn’t real excited about Sting vs. Triple H going into WrestleMania. His intensity on RAW in the ring and during this promo have changed that.

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WrestleMania 30: A Portrait In Wrestling History

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

WrestleMania XXX
From Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA
April 6, 2014
BACKGROUND
There’ve been angry crowds before in wrestling, but none quite like the hostile horde that was the city of Pittsburgh for the 2014 Royal Rumble. The imaginative and vindictive chants toward Randy Orton and John Cena’s benign World Title match (televised battle no. 6,237 in their lifetime series) were mere child’s play compared to the Royal Rumble match that lay ahead.
A perfect storm flourished from the components of two whirling entities: Daniel Bryan’s exclusion from the 30-man gauntlet, and just-returned (though wholly unwanted) Batista winning the match. The fans in the Steel City unleashed a torrential downpour of anger once Rey Mysterio, the no. 30 entrant, hit the ring, signaling Bryan’s non-participation. Famously, Mick Foley wrote a Facebook editorial following the Rumble, asking unironically if WWE legitimately hated its own fans, the ones who had made Bryan the most unconditionally beloved star arguably since the Attitude Era.
Batista vs. Randy Orton would be the on-paper WWE Championship bout, but the disgusted crowds didn’t end with Pittsburgh. Minneapolis fans at Elimination Chamber booed alleged hero Batista throughout his match with Alberto Del Rio. Crowds across the country relentlessly chanted “CM PUNK”, a callous acknowledgement of the man who walked out of WWE, likely for good, following the Royal Rumble, owing to creative and medical negligence.
With one darling of the discriminating fan benching himself, that left WWE with just Bryan if they wanted to make up for lost goodwill. WWE Network would be finally launching in February, and the pay-per-view model would undergo a significant paradigm shift. To ask jaded fans to drop ten dollars a month for not only a treasure trove of classic wrestling content, but also the monthly pay-per-views at an astronomically-reduced price, was no longer an easy sell.
With WWE fans at their most discontented, and with a very real threat that WrestleMania could be ruined with caustic fan rage, the company had to act.
THE EVENT
Never let it be said that WWE doesn’t listen to the fans. Oh sure, there are times where they completely disregard viewer sentiment, but rarely when staring the lucrative WrestleMania down the loaded barrel.
On March 10, Bryan staged an in-ring demonstration of a couple hundred random fans wearing his t-shirt. At this point, Bryan’s entire story centered around his anger toward Triple H and the Authority for wrecking his main event run in 2013, and the bearded hero was campaigning for a match with “The Game.” When Helmsley and wife Stephanie were unable to quell the vociferous Occupy-esque protest, Bryan was able to goad Triple H into a WrestleMania bout.
Bryan wasn’t finished making demands, and inserted the request that took on the voice of most fans watching: if Bryan beat Triple H, said he, then he wanted to be put into the World Championship bout with Batista and Orton. Past the point of keeping his cool, Triple H agreed to the demand, signaling to the fans that their wish was likely coming true.
A week later, a less-heroic Batista joined Orton in questioning Triple H’s motivation for potentially changing their match on short notice. Angry that the two would even think that Bryan had a chance at being him, Triple H lashed out at his ex-proteges for their whining and lack of faith, and amended the stipulation for his own WrestleMania match: if Helmsley beat Bryan, *he* would be entering the World Title match, thus guaranteeing a triple threat match no matter what.
The day WWE Network launched, another angle would launch itself for WrestleMania. Paul Heyman, on behalf of his client Brock Lesnar, openly lamented that Lesnar wouldn’t be receiving a World Championship match at WrestleMania, and thus put out an open challenge for any wrestler to take on the former UFC Heavyweight Champion on wrestling’s grandest stage. There was even a contract-signing table in the ring to underscore the importance of the challenge.
With such formality at hand, a major opponent was required to answer the call. As is his annual wont, The Undertaker magically emerged from ten months in seclusion to accept a match with Lesnar. A mostly-stoic Lesnar would sign the contract and aggressively shove the pen into ‘Taker’s chest. This led to Undertaker stabbing Lesnar’s hand with the with pen, and then chokeslamming him through the table. No mention had been made of their brutal battles in 2002, though this was the first time Lesnar would be facing ‘dark side’ Undertaker.
In another first, John Cena would take part in his first ever WrestleMania match that wasn’t a) for a title or b) the official main event. The opponent would come in the form of relative newcomer Bray Wyatt, whose raspy, eerie promos evoked memories of Jake Roberts and Kevin Sullivan. Wyatt, along with cult flunkies Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, randomly attacked Cena in a few World Title matches in accordance with Wyatt’s new infatuation: proving that Cena’s upstanding superhero identity was merely a facade.
Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL performed commentary duties. The first pay-per-view to stream live on the WWE Network featured Hulk Hogan as guest host, as well appearances from Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, plus other legends in backstage comedy bits. Mark Crozer and The Rels performed Bray Wyatt’s theme, while Rich Luzzi of Rev Theory performed Randy Orton’s. The Hall of Fame class included The Ultimate Warrior, Jake Roberts, Lita, Razor Ramon, Carlos Colon, Paul Bearer, and Mr. T. Warrior, tragically, passed away several days later at the age of 54, but not before finally making peace with the wrestling world.
THE RESULTS
Daniel Bryan def. Triple H in 25:58
(Behind Bret and Owen Hart’s epic WrestleMania X clash, this is by and far the second-greatest WrestleMania opener ever. Helmsley was game to keep up with Bryan’s fast-paced physical style, and the result was a surefire match of the year winner for 2014 until Sami Zayn and Adrian Neville topped it, only barely, in December)
The Shield def. Kane and The New Age Outlaws in 2:56
(A simple squash to put the new class over the fogies, which most swear never happens. This would also be one of the last times fans considered Roman Reigns a hero)
Cesaro wins an Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, last eliminating Big Show in 13:25
(What looked like a way to shoehorn thirty upper-midcarders and forgotten-abouts into a match ended up a great vehicle to get Cesaro over as a true star. Sadly, 2014 wouldn’t be this sweet again for him, thanks to a failure to grab some mythical ‘brass ring’)
John Cena def. Bray Wyatt in 22:25
(The morality play at hand saw Wyatt trying to goad Cena into cheating, embracing some sort of inner demons. Cena’s mortal stock proved to be too much, and many felt the wrong guy won. One match later, Cena’s win would be virtually forgotten about)
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker in 25:12
(Hands down the most shocking in-ring moment of this millennium. The startled crowd reactions were a story unto themselves as Lesnar felled The Streak clean as a whistle. The entire sequence from Lesnar’s final F5 to Undertaker’s pained exit is forever rewatchable, maintaining its staggering punch. Quite simply, it’ll never be forgotten)
WWE Divas Championship: AJ Lee won a Vickie Guerrero Invitational in 6:48
(The crowd was still catatonic following Undertaker’s loss, summoning only enough strength to dully boo a Nikki vs. Brie Bella confrontation)
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan def. Randy Orton and Batista in 23:20 to win the title
(And WWE makes good to their fans. Of course, the shock of Undertaker’s loss was still reverberating to a heavy degree, but that didn’t stop the fans from coming alive for each of Bryan’s comebacks and hope spots. Every ten years, it seems a WrestleMania ends with a beloved technician breaking through: Bret Hart, Chris Benoit, and Daniel Bryan)
ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
For the first time since WrestleMania 2000, there were no winners on the show over the age of 40. Cena ended up being the oldest victor, just shy of his 37th birthday.
Of the event’s losers, Attitude Era throwbacks like Triple H, Kane, the Outlaws, Goldust, Mark Henry, Show, and yes, The Undertaker all went down in defeat. In a sense, it felt as if a new beginning was at hand, with yesterday finally losing its footing in the face of Bryan, The Shield, and Cesaro, among others.
The freshness would fade quickly. Bryan needed multiple neck surgeries, the World Title would go missing when Lesnar won it, the Authority angle choked the phlegm out of Raw and PPV, and the ‘Brass Rings’ statement crushed all goodwill. Thank God for NXT.
Ordinarily, the defining moment would be Bryan celebrating, but it isn’t here. Fans knew the ending was coming from the March 10 Occupy segment. Instead, Lesnar standing tall over a crumpled Undertaker gets the nod. Rather than celebrate their chosen one getting what he’d earned, the internet punditry shifted focus toward why they felt The Streak ending was BS.
Any chance to mark out for Bryan’s victory was traded in for the right to hyper-analyze a finish that stunned even the smartest fan. Better to bare your brains than your smile, I suppose.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Probable Card and Match Rumors

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

It looks like we finally have the blueprint of the main WWE WrestleMania 31 card. The main card may lack the zest of last year’s event, yet the excitement coming out of Fastlane is a sign in the right direction.

There were no real surprises at Fastlane, especially if you have been following the backstage rumors and social media spoilers over the last few weeks. But what we did was a rock solid direction heading into the big March 29 event. I was underwhelmed a few weeks back when the card looked to be taking shape, but Fastlane offered a glimpse of hope. Here is what I took away coming out of Fastlane, as well as the latest news and rumored matches.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE world title - This one is going to be a lot of fun for all of the wrong reasons. While I do think the WWE needed to focus on Reigns, it was clear at Fastlane that the fans aren’t buying him. This match could get Goldberg-Lesnar ugly really fast without some creative booking. It’s unfortunate as I think six months ago this match could have been big. Yet the WWE booking of Reigns has been so terrible, that they have single-handedly ruined this guy’s momentum. The only answer here is a double-turn at Mania otherwise it will get real ugly by the end of the match.

The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt - I don’t know how you can logically book this match. So Taker is going to return to shut a nobody up that called him out once and ignore Heyman and Lesnar’s mockery over the last year? The only reason the Undertaker should be returning is to avenge his loss to Brock Lesnar. Granted, they may be saving that for Texas Stadium but if so, Taker should not be wrestling at all. Maybe make a surprise appearance? That said, the reaction at Fastlane for Bray Wyatt’s promo was promising. If I was to base interest in this match on the crowd heat at Fastlane, I’d guess that the fans are really going to be into this match. It will be different and I hope Taker can silence his critics. I just can’t help but think about all of the money being left on the table with a Lesnar rematch.

John Cena vs. Rusev for the U.S. title - I’d expect some kind of stipulation to be added here. I liked their match at Fastlane a lot. I’ll disagree with a lot of people and tell you that I thought it was the best match of the night. I have no problem seeing them wrestle twice. The finish was kind of wonky, but I never have a problem with seeing a really good match twice. Cena as U.S. champion is interesting as well. Quite honestly I’d put Rusev over here and build him up for a run with Reigns or Lesnar for the title. But I’ll save that for my predictions blog.

Sting vs. Triple H - When Sting and Hunter set the table for this angle at Survivor Series I was about as disinterested as I could get in this feud. I had zero interest in watching these two wrestle. That said, I am actually looking forward to the match coming out of Fastlane. I think they had great chemistry in Memphis and I think that they can really pull something good off here. Sting has his limitations as we have seen in TNA. Sting has also had some decent matches with the right guys in TNA so it isn’t as if he is done. The chemistry is working for me here and I have to hand it to these guys. They completely turned me around at Fastlane. Mark my words, this will be the main-event of WrestleMania. It won’t be the last match but this will be the match that draws the most interest and gets the most attention by the time we get to the event.

Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton - I think we can all agree that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show will play a part in this match. That’s fine, although this angle does not seem very organic at all. It will be great publicity for all involved. Quite frankly I am not sure how WWE pulled this one off. They did and it will happen at Mania. I think they’ll have a good match, maybe the best on the card if given time.

Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus - All of the latest rumors point to a Bryan vs. Sheamus rematch. According to several reports, this was the direction they wanted to go in all along. It seems like a huge waste of Bryan and a big dropoff from a year ago. The WWE are determined to squash the Yes Movement and this is a step in the right direction. It’s a shame but I can’t see we didn’t see it coming.

There are other probable matches like Ambrose vs. BNB with a stip, something with the Rhodes brothers, and maybe the Bellas vs. Paige and a celebrity tag team partner. Overall it is a pretty solid lineup for Mania. Nothing stands out and while it is not nearly as exciting as last year, it is a far cry from WrestleMania 9 as well.

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10 Wrestling Angles That Started Hot & Ended Flat

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

The intrigue of how a hot pro wrestling angle ends is more exciting than the matches for most of us. Yet you don’t have to go back further than Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for examples of pro wrestling angles that started off as hot and ended flatter than a pancake. It doesn’t get much disappointing than that.

It is important to keep in mind that more times than not, pro wrestling bookers tend to over-think these things and get all caught up in trying to fool fans as opposed to doing what is best for business. Even when it seems so easy, they routinely miss the mark. Remember how great the Summer of Punk started and how badly it ended?

So off the top of my head here are ten pro wrestling angles that I thought started out hot and ended flat, disappointing wrestling fans. These aren’t in any particular order of importance. These angles are moments I remember watching live thinking how great they were that failed to live up to expectations for a variety of reasons, generally the fault of the bookers or writers.

The WCW Invasion, 2001 - We have been down this road many times. WCW invading the WWE after the sale in 2001 should have been the biggest angle in pro wrestling history. Instead, most point to this angle as the biggest booking blunder of the 21st century for Team McMahon.

Let’s face it. This one doesn’t take a whole lot of rocket science to book. Yet Vince McMahon got cute and due to ego and bad business, never gave this angle the tools it needed to succeed. Instead of picking up the big WCW stars, the WCW invasion was originally led by Shane McMahon, Booker T, and Buff Bagwell. You can figure out how this thing ended without even reading on.

All of the WWE vs. WCW matches ended with the WWE crew coming out on top with none of the WCW originals looking strong. The underlying theme here was obvious. WWE is and always was better than WCW. That is how this thing started and that is how it ended.

The irony here is that Vince McMahon later signed the bigger WCW superstars like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, and Scott Steiner. Unfortunately those signings came after the invasion, thus costing the company millions of dollars and some potentially historic moments of pro wrestling fans.

Lita, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy defeat Triple H, Steve Austin, & Stephanie McMahon on RAW, 2001 - Do you remember the night that the Hardy brothers and Lita defeated Austin, Triple H, and Stephanie on RAW? You probably don’t, but if you did you remember one of the most exciting moments in RAW history at the time of the match.

The Hardy brothers and Lita had become a hit around this time with the younger WWE audience. It was time to bump the trio up from their feud with Edge, Christian, and Kurt Angle to the Two Man Power Trip. This match resulted out of a brief meeting earlier in the show between Lita and Linda where Lita showed her support for Linda in the middle of a “divorce” with Vince. The punishment, a match with the WWE champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, the WWE intercontinental champion Triple H, and Stephanie.

The match was exciting, full of action, and told a fantastic story of the underdogs finally getting their opportunity. The match ended with Lita pinning Stephanie. Austin and Hunter obliterated the Hardy boys and even Lita in an absolutely tremendous RAW moment. It appeared that the Hardy brothers were in full feud mode now with the McMahon alliance.

Sadly that feud lasted all of about a week. Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H on the next edition of SmackDown to win the intercontinental title, only to drop it back to Hunter four days later on RAW. The Hardys and Lita had one more match against the pair as part of an eight-man tag team match but fell out of the main-event picture in the blink of an eye.

This had the potential to be a really exciting feud that never went anywhere when all was said and done.

Nexus Forms, 2010 - Up until CM Punk’s promo on RAW Roulette, this was the most memorable moment of the decade in the WWE. The night without warning that several WWE rookies jumped John Cena and CM Punk in what many described as an “n.W.o. moment.” Unfortunately that great moment never materialized the way most fans had hoped that it would.

Daniel Bryan was immediately fired from the company which took the best worker of Nexus out of the mix. So for the next several weeks Wade Barrett carried the crew with some of the best promos of the year in the WWE. Nexus destroyed everyone in their paths for about a month including several WWE legends. It appeared that nobody was stopping Nexus.

Sadly, everyone stopped Nexus. The first big WWE vs. Nexus match took place at SummerSlam 2010. This was the turning point for the angle because from here on out, Nexus were never able to regain the momentum they had when they jumped Punk and Cena back in June. Cena standing tall as sole survivor of the match completely brought this angle to a screeching halt.

Yes I know, Wade Barrett defeated John Cena at Hell in a Cell and got him in Nexus. However, Barrett and Nexus were made to look like fools and Cena never took the stips or the loss seriously. One year later Barrett is far removed from where you would have expected him to be at this point and most of Nexus are just bouncing around. I hate to say it but I have little faith that the same guys that dropped the ball on Nexus will be writing the CM Punk-Money in the Bank storyline at Money in the Bank.

Tazz debuts in the WWE, 2001 - Taz as he was known in Extreme Championship Wrestling was the franchise player of the company in 2000. That is why many were surprised, yet excited when they heard Taz (now Tazz) had signed with the WWE.

Tazz came into the company with a ton of promotion. He had several articles written about him on the website and a ton of vignettes before his debut. Tazz debuted at the Royal Rumble in New York as Kurt Angle’s mystery opponent. Tazz ended the winning streak of Kurt Angle to a huge reaction in just slightly over three minutes of dominance.

You would have expected big things for Tazz after debuting with such fanfare in the WWE. Unfortunately that never happened. Chalk it up to politics, but the Tazz was never fully followed through. The writing was on the wall when Tazz as ECW champion lost to Triple H on SmackDown for no apparent reason other than spite. From there, Tazz wound up in the intercontinental title mix and was one of only a few not to get a run with the belt during that time period. Tazz would wind up disappearing due to injury and returning months later.

Unfortunately the WWE never pushed Tazz as hard as they did before he arrived as they did when he showed up in the WWE disappointing a lot of fans who hoped to see Tazz suplex and choke his way to the WWE main-event picture.

The Radicalz invade the WWE, 2000 - If you read the wrestling newsletters or called hotlines back in 1999 and 2000 you knew what was coming. After years of being held down by politics and petty booking in WCW, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero (along with Perry Saturn) were going to get their shots in the WWE.

It all started off fantastic. All four guys appeared at ringside without warning on the January 31, 2000 edition of WWE RAW is War. The fans went crazy and immediately recognized the men and the N.W.O. moment that the WWE injected back into the Monday Night Wars. The Radicalz as they were called were “invited” guests of Mick Foley.

The Radicalz made their presence known by the end of the night. A cheap shot by the Road Dog resulted in the Radicalz jumping the guard rail and beating down the New Age Outlaws. They were instant stars in the WWE, something they had to work for in WCW over the course of a few years. Unfortunately the parade would soon come to an end.

A few days later Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn were offered a chance to “win contracts” if they could win three matches on SmackDown against Degeneration-X members; Triple H, X Pac, and the Outlaws. Can you guess what happened next? The Radicalz lost all three matches, including Triple H pinning Benoit who left WCW as the world champion. The air was taken out of the balloon in less than a week.

Benoit and Guerrero eventually fought their way to the top but Saturn and Malenko struggled. It took the WWE months to ruin the Nexus angle in 2010. It only took them a few days to ruin the Radicalz angle in 2000.

ECW invades the WWE, 1996 - Yes before ECW One Night Stand there was WWF Mind Games in Philadelphia, PA. The WWF was struggling to find its way while ECW became something of an underground sensation with a teenage market that the WWF couldn’t reach. In order to reach that market, the WWF partnered with ECW, giving ECW an opportunity to expose its product to a national audience. And oh yeah, WCW was kicking the WWF’s behind at this time with the start of the n.W.o. angle.

It all started in ECW when threats were issued towards the WWF for coming into ECW’s home base, Philadelphia, PA with Mind Games. A few weeks later ECW (& future WWE) stars the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, and Paul Heyman were in the front row of the Mind Games pay per view to enjoy the show and cause a little trouble.

It didn’t take long for the fans to notice and “ECW” chants quickly broke out live in pay per view. In the pay per view opener, Savio Vega wound up outside the ring in front of the ECW crew. Sandman threw beer on Vega and a pull-apart erupted between all parties at ringside. Vince McMahon on the announce team dismissed the ECW crew as a “local, up and coming promotion.”

This should have been the start of something great. The WWF had their own invasion angle right in front of them but nothing of real relevance materialized. The ECW crew were given matches on one episode of RAW and appeared from time to time to cause trouble but that was it. A memorable debate between Jerry Lawler and Paul Heyman that resulted in nothing else is about the only real highlight here.

Ironically it was ECW that really capitalized off of this angle. ECW booked Jerry Lawler and Lawler immediately became one of the biggest heels in the company. Yet Vince McMahon and the WWE never pulled the trigger on an all-out invasion between companies. In retrospect it is interesting to think what could have happened if he did.

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The Ultimate Warrior confronts Hulk Hogan in WCW, 1998 - How could I write a blog like this without bringing up this nugget? Eight years after giving pro wrestling one of the most memorable matches in WWE history, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior attempted to rewrite history in WCW. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t Vince McMahon holding the pencil and writing what would become a bomb of a program.

Warrior’s debut was great. Some fans were surprised, some expected it, but all went crazy when the lights went out and returned with the Warrior in a WCW ring. Warrior cut a great (but lengthy) promo on Hogan and Bischoff. It was certainly an electric moment but sadly for Warrior fans, someone turned the power off pretty quickly on this memorable moment.

See the fun part about the Warrior is watching him talk but unfortunately at some point he is going to have to wrestle. He did and his long awaited singles match with Hogan is regarded by many as one of the worst WCW main-events in history and boy does that say a lot.

Warrior only resurfaced one more time in WCW after the Halloween Havoc disaster. Depending upon who you believe either the Warrior held out for more money after the match or WCW simply stopped calling him. Either way, WCW finally moved on and spared their fans of another Warrior vs. Hogan match.

The Four Horsemen turn on Ole Anderson, 1987 - I remember watching this as a kid and getting excited seeing Ole Anderson slap J.J. Dillon moments after Dillon made fun of Anderson’s kid. Ole was always something of a bully and a bad-a$* so seeing Ole get his revenge on the Four Horsemen was a moment I was ready to pay $20 to see.

Instead, Ole wound up in a bunch of tag team matches and singles matches against Arn that never went anywhere. The angle fell completely flat and Ole bombed as a babyface. Maybe he was just too good of a heel that even when fighting the Horsemen, nobody wanted to cheer Ole? Whatever the reasons were, Ole retired less than a year later and the angle became a forgotten moment after an intense start.

Ronnie Garvin turns heel, 1988 - Ronnie Garvin never particularly clicked as a babyface to justify the push he received by Dusty Rhodes in 1987. However, Garvin was always seen as a gritty, tough guy and a pro wrestler that could hold his own against anyone. That is why I, like many were surprised when he helped the Four Horsemen at the expense of Dusty Rhodes.

The start of this angle was fantastic. Garvin entered the ring during a match at the Great American Bash 1988 featuring Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham. The referee was knocked out, J.J. got up on the apron, and Garvin appeared to even the odd for Dusty. Instead, Garvin clocked the son of a plumber with his famous right hand to a huge reaction from the Baltimore crowd. The feud was on…and off.

Garvin quickly left the promotion for the WWE after the turn. Garvin vs. Dusty never got off the ground, failing to deliver on what was one of the most exciting moments in wrestling at the time.

Randy Orton is kicked out of Evolution, 2004 - This certainly won’t go down in history as the greatest angle of all time but at the time this was huge. After running around with Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair, Randy Orton for two years, Orton was kicked out of Evolution. The thumbs up/thumbs down was a WWE moment for the ages. Unfortunately the excitement ended there for Orton.

Orton lost all of his singles matches with Triple H, thus taking steam right off of the kid who was touted to be the next big babyface of the WWE. Instead, Orton turned heel a couple of months after his final match with Triple H at the Royal Rumble, completely abandoning his big push to be the next WWE hero.

In other words, the WWE wasted an entire year building Orton’s turn just to squash Orton, and turn him heel again a few months later.

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WWE Royal Rumble 2015: The Scenarios Are Endless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ROLLINS WINS TITLE, DANIEL BRYAN WINS RUMBLE

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

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

ROLLINS WINS TITLE, DOLPH ZIGGLER WINS RUMBLE

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

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

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

LESNAR WINS TITLE, REIGNS WINS RUMBLE

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

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

ROLLINS WINS TITLE, REIGNS WINS RUMBLE

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

LESNAR WINS TITLE, ORTON WINS RUMBLE

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

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

CENA WINS TITLE, RUSEV WINS RUMBLE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Odds: Even

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

Odds: 2 to 1

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

Odds: 7 to 1

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

Odds: 10 to 1

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

Odds: 15 to 1

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

Odds: 15 to 1

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

Odds: 24 to 1

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

Odds: 28 to 1

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

Odds 36 to 1

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Flashback: Alberto Del Rio Wins the WWE Royal Rumble 2011

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

Originally published on January 30, 2011. The 2011 WWE Royal Rumble winner wasn’t who was expected and that is a good thing. Alberto Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and a trip to the WrestleMania 27 main-event against a WWE champion of his choice. Del Rio eliminated Santino Marella to win the Rumble and earn his title match.

Rey Mysterio, Kane, Wade Barrett, John Cena, Alberto Del Rio, and Randy Orton were the final six of the Rumble or were they? Mysterio eliminated Kane and was then quickly tossed out by Barrett. The announcers pushed the RAW vs. SmackDown theme of the final four.

In the shocker of the night, John Cena was eliminated by The Miz. Yes The Miz was down doing commentary and wound up running in. Alex Riley distracted Cena and The Miz wound up tossing Cena over. The ref never “saw it” and only caught Cena on the floor, thus eliminating Cena. Barrett, Orton, and Del Rio are final three. Del Rio eliminated Randy Orton, started to celebrate, and was then attached by Santino.

Santino emerged from under the ring and the place went ballistic. Santino Marella was never officially eliminated when he appeared early on. The announcers went nuts saying it would be the biggest upset of all time. For a second I kind of wanted to see it. Del Rio soon recovered, eliminated Santino and officially won the Rumble and the championship match of his choice.

CM Punk entered the Royal Rumble as #1. Punk was soon jumped by members of Corre. The RAW GM (how did he have power here?) chimed in and ordered Corre to the back. Daniel Bryan then entered as the official number two. Punk and Bryan started off which I am sure appealed to their hardcore following on the Internet.

Kevin Nash made a long awaited return to the WWE entering the Royal Rumble at #32. Nash entered as his old character Diesel with a black haired dye job and his old Diesel gear. Nash got a nice reaction but it was nowhere close to the reaction that Booker T received. Nash did his trademark Diesel moves but was eliminated pretty shortly by Wade Barrett. Nash and The Big Show walked by one another as Nash left and Show entered. It could have been a prelude to a WrestleMania match but let’s hope not. Hey Paul, don’t let him powerbomb you this time. Hey may try and finish the what he couldn’t do at Souled Out.

No Triple H for the record. Not sure what he is waiting for at this point but I have to admit that I was hoping to see him come out at #40 instead of Kane. No Undertaker either.

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Nash’s fellow Main Event Mafia partner,  Booker T also returned to the WWE. King Booker entered the Royal Rumble earlier at #21. Booker T got a huge pop and entered the ring to face four members of Nexus. Unfortunately the numbers got the best of him and Booker T’s return lasted for about 90 seconds before being eliminated. I am not a big proponent of seeing Booker T back but the fan reaction sure made it a great Rumble moment. The former TNA stars got nice reactions but were limited with short appearances in the Rumble match which was probably for the better.

CM Punk was looking like the favorite for awhile. At one point Punk and three members of Nexus just wound up eliminating everyone and continued to throw away future entrants. They just looked unstoppable after eliminating Booker T in less than two minutes. John Cena wound up entering at #22 with his Superman cape and eliminated all of Nexus including CM Punk. I was fairly certain up to that point that Punk was going to be Final Four if not the winner altogether.

John Morrison may have had the best Royal Rumble spot I ever saw. Shortly after entering the Rumble Morrison was tossed over the top rope. However, instead of landing on the floor he landed on the barricade like Spiderman avoiding elimination. Morrison than leaped from the barricade to the metal steps and returned to the ring. The spot and sequence have to be seen to be believed.

Randy Orton entered at #39 and eliminated Sheamus and Kofi Kingston. He and Cena had a stare down that was designed to get a big reaction. Guess what? Nobody seemed to care. Maybe because WWE fans have seen Cena vs. Orton on and off for the last three years. I can’t imagine anyone having any interest in seeing Cena vs. Orton in any way, shape, or fashion in 2011 (or 2012, 2013, 2014).

Overall I thought the Rumble match was excellent. I never felt like it dragged and it had some pretty cool spots. I thought that 40 guys would be too much but it really wasn’t. If you missed the show, I’d go out of your way to try and get a copy of the match. It certainly wasn’t the best Rumble match of all time but it was far from the worst.

On a totally random note, listening to 40 WWE entrance themes is a reminder at how God awful WWE entrance music is in 2011. Well, 39 because Booker T’s music is still pretty damn good.

It would appear from the WWE championship match that CM Punk vs. Randy Orton is a highly likely WrestleMania match. Randy Orton vs. The Miz ended after interference from Nexus which saw Punk nail Orton with the GTS. The Miz capitalized and pinned Orton to win the match.

On yet another random note, I think I was vindicated for everything I have said about The Miz and his inability to be a successful WWE champion. He is not over at all! I have gotten a lot of criticism for a blog I wrote entitled “Is The Miz the worst WWE champion ever?” People told me that I don’t know what I am talking about, he is awesome, and I am in the minority. I think I stand corrected. He is now a day over two months as WWE champion and if he hasn’t been able to sell anyone by now, he isn’t going to sell them by WrestleMania. Guess what happened when he came out for the biggest match of his career? Nobody cared or reacted to him like a champion and quite honestly, the match wasn’t that good. The lesson learned here is just because a guy can go out and cut a 15 minute “great” (Wow the standards have dropped enormously) promo and deliver witty lines doesn’t make him a great champion.  The point being is that nobody believes in him as a champion and the fans see right through it. Sure you can blame the booking but he is just not championship material no matter how “funny” you may think he is.

I love the decision to go with Alberto Del Rio as this year’s winner. Del Rio is fresh and one of the best characters I have seen the WWE develop in years. Unfortunately I don’t know how much interest I have an Edge vs. Del Rio match. Quite frankly I don’t know how much interest I have an Edge vs. anyone WrestleMania title match. If it ends with Del Rio winning the championship and becoming the star of SmackDown, I like it.

An early look at WrestleMania 27 probably looks like…
The Miz vs. John Cena for the WWE title
Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio for the WWE world heavyweight title
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
Nexus vs. Corre
Big Show vs. Kevin Nash

2011 WWE Royal Rumble results:

Edge defeated Dolph Ziggler to retain the WWE world heavyweight title
The Miz defeated Randy Orton after interference from Nexus and CM Punk
Natalya and Eve Torres defeated LayCool

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WWE and NXT 20 Best Matches of 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

19. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan vs. John Cena vs. Cesaro vs. Christian vs. Sheamus (WWE Elimination Chamber, February 23)

As long as the performers cut a watchable pace in the epic-length Chamber matches, and there’s some creative mayhem taking place between the chain-link walls, it generally adds up to a great match. This was no exception, and it even came with some added drama: would Bryan avenge his exclusion from the Royal Rumble match and become WWE Champion? A spurned Twitterverse, led by a bat-wielding Mick Foley, glued their eyes to the action.

Bryan, of course, didn’t win here, succumbing to Corporate Kane (RepubliKane?) in a screwy finish. Cena also didn’t win, as a Wyatt Family teleportation cost him Orton’s gold as well. It was Bryan’s portion of the story that received the most focus, with him taking a beating (being whipped through an empty pod by Cesaro), and valiantly clawing his way back before the heart-ripping finish. That only made the WrestleMania payoff more enjoyable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15. Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Takeover, May 29)

This was certainly surprising. You’d expect a good match from Natalya under required circumstances (read: a match of reasonable length where she’s not selling for the trade show model du jour). But Charlotte? She didn’t impress me in NXT early on (though THAT would change), and it seemed her push was based on that she was tall, blonde, and the offspring of wrestling royalty. To say this match was incredible might be the understatement of all of 2014.

In a match to determine the new NXT Women’s Champion, Charlotte held her own in what ended up a highly intense match-up, most notable for the Sharpshooter/figure-four spot with determined reversals and realistic selling. Perhaps having Ric Flair and Bret Hart at ringside was a heaven-sent dual muse? Charlotte capped off the match with the win, which many predicted, but the story in getting to that point was something no one saw coming.

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

Forget the aftermath of the match, which consisted of two hours of fan anger the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1991 Great American Bash. Contained within its frame of time, Bryan and Wyatt held their own in a match that essentially saved the Rumble from being one of the absolute worst PPVs of all time. Even with the match, the night retains its unfathomable infamy, but at least you can say, “Well, one match was awesome.”

Bryan and Wyatt’s match opened the Rumble, and was pretty oddly structured for an era bent on mechanical pacing. Bryan worked Wyatt’s legs early with a series of kicks, and the match didn’t really hit the WWE Main Event Style until well into the proceedings. That was for the better, because different can be highly enjoyable. The finish was memorable, with Wyatt catching a Bryan dive into Sister Abigail against the crowd barrier, very suitably slick.

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

Takeover was a serious contender for the best WWE show of 2014. The women’s match makes this list, and the NXT Championship bout between Adrian Neville and Tyson Kidd was a viable list candidate that just fell short. Breeze and Zayn’s number one contender match was the best of a well-executed card, hardly surprising given Zayn’s general Midas touch. However, the match served as Breeze’s coming-out party, making him one to watch.

Making anyone this generation’s Shawn Michaels is a risky proposition, equal to calling any NBA player “the next Jordan”, but WWE’s all in with coloring Breeze the risk-taking pretty boy incarnate of today. He was game on exchanging crazy moves with the experienced Zayn, including a weird reversal sequence that ended in an improvised powerbomb. The ending was also a creative bit of screwiness, involving a questionably-blatant low blow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Arrival, February 27)

Nothing better than a feud over who is simply “the better man.” Strange concept to some in power, but for my simple eyes, the Zayn/Cesaro rivalry was some of the most enjoyable wrestling over the past several years. After a two-out-of-three falls match that Cesaro won the prior August (hailed by many as the 2013’s best match), the story was that Zayn was bent on avenging the loss, and challenged Cesaro to a final battle at WWE Network’s first major special.

The cat-and-mouse nature of the match, with Zayn’s eager risk-taking and Cesaro’s defiant power response, built feverishly to Cesaro gaining the definitive upper hand, and Zayn looking the beaten man. Cesaro even begged Zayn to stop kicking out, but Zayn countered the Neutralizer. That led to Cesaro brutalizing him with Swiss Death, a discus uppercut, and the punctuating Neutralizer. Afterward, Cesaro gave Zayn the gesture of respect he’d wanted.

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

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

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

8. Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE WrestleMania XXX, April 6)

Nostalgia always feels best when its employment seems natural. There was no shoehorning of classic Attitude Era elements into the WrestleMania main event, which saw the use of a crooked ref, even more crooked authority figures, and a teased stretcher job for Bryan that turned into a Willis Reed comeback special. Add to it the legitimate want of the audience to see Bryan prevail, and the elements were there for a tremendous ‘Mania finale.

It took a lot to get the crowd back into it after The Undertaker’s streak was startlingly ended less than an hour earlier by Brock Lesnar, but all three performers held their own, even the maligned Batista. The bomb/neckbreaker combo on Bryan through the table was memorably sick, and Bryan’s forcing of Batista to submit erupted the Superdome appropriately. If this were the Newlywed Game, WWE held up cards that had every fan answer correct in this one.

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

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

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

6. The Shield vs. Evolution (WWE Extreme Rules, May 4)

The Shield coming to Bryan’s rescue the night after WrestleMania kicked off a highly enjoyable run against the reformed Evolution (until Rollins was swiftly turned, apparently in response to low Memorial Day ratings if you believe the sheets). The aforementioned rematch at Payback event, under elimination and ‘no DQ’ rules, was pretty great in its own right, but the original from Extreme Rules remains the superior exhibition, with its faster pace and livelier crowd.

Rollins continued his campaign to become the modern WWE generation’s Jeff Hardy, doing so by leaping off of the upper deck at the IZOD Center onto Triple H, Randy Orton, and a sacrificial Dean Ambrose. Say what you will about Batista, but he’d been a good sport since the poorly-received comeback, putting over Roman Reigns clean as a sheet by eating the Superman punch, and the emphatic spear. WWE has issues creating stars, but got the Shield 100% correct.

5. John Cena vs. Cesaro (WWE Monday Night Raw, February 17)

If you’re given twenty minutes on free television to work with John Cena, and you’re still kicking around the midcard or upper midcard with little in the way of promising direction, chances are this is your litmus test. WWE seemed to be flirting with a true push of Cesaro in the preceding weeks, sticking him into the Elimination Chamber match, and even put him over champion Randy Orton in a non-title bout. So far so good, but the real test was at hand.

The win over Orton raised the possibility that he *could* beat Cena, instead of having it be the obvious “LOL CENA WINS” trope, and Cesaro held up his end. The most notable spot was the deadlift superplex, now a Cesaro staple, which was used on the B-shows before its unleashing on Raw. Cesaro did end up losing clean to Cena, but was rewarded with the WrestleMania battle royal win and earning Paul Heyman as a manager before things cooled off.

4. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (WWE Elimination Chamber, February 23)

Pretty good sign when the fans are chanting “THIS IS AWESOME” before any of the six have even made contact with one another. Then again, it raises the bar pretty high for a group of men, none of whom were truly juiced-in main eventers at the time, that are being counted on to deliver in a prime spot. It was hailed as a match-of-the-year candidate before it even ended (and indeed before it even kicked off), and remains in the running ten months later.

The Shield weren’t particularly babyfaces in the run-up to the match, aside from not backing down in face-to-face confrontations, but the trio took to the good guys formula with the sort of timing and pacing that made it seem like they’d been faces for years. The chaotic end-run of the match, which was a star-maker for the kamikaze Rollins, puts it above most other spotfests by having logic and organization behind each stunt. The Wyatts won, but really, so did the Shield.

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

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

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

2. Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (WWE WrestleMania XXX, April 6)

After “The Game” made Brock Lesnar slow down to his pace for a trio of matches, and needed Shawn Michaels to play rodeo clown in the overrated “End of an Era” match, I went into his match with Bryan with lowered expectations. I’d figured Bryan would have to slow down to allow his 44-year-old boss with two bum legs to keep up. Lo and behold, the Fountain of Youth resides in New Orleans, as Triple H had his greatest match in probably a good decade or so.

As if he was determined to prove he could still go with the best, and maybe feeling slighted that CM Punk brushed off a match with him, Helmsley wrestled a beaut with the best technician in the company, mixing pure wrestling with the sports-entertainment transition spots you’d expect out of his matches. In the end, Triple H put Bryan over 100% cleanly, and allowed him to kick out of the Pedigree in the process. And we all thought Hunter didn’t know how to elevate.

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

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

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

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Top 25 WWE Survivor Series Elimination Matches

November 19, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Survivor Series just ain’t what it used to be.

First, it was Thanksgiving night. Then it was Thanksgiving eve. Then it moved indiscriminately to just any old Sunday in November. When it started, it was all about the elimination matches. Now it’s about the typically-rushed storylines that are often back-burnered in favor of whatever Cena or Orton are doing, with maybe an elimination match or two shoehorned in there somewhere.

Well, forget about senile Vince McMahon and lack-of-fun Kevin Dunn for a minute. Let’s journey back to when the event MEANT SOMETHING, and let’s share some fond memories of some of the greatest elimination matches that have ever taken place at the Thanksgiving night/eve/located in proximity to the holiday tradition!

After all, it sure beats “John Cena and The Rock vs. what’re-their-names.”

Enjoy!

25. The Holly Cousins and Too Cool def. Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz (11/14/99, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Hardcore Holly
Gotta admit; that face team would be pretty cool in any era, despite the real life problems of the brothers Hardy. For what it is, it’s a fast paced match between WWE’s “X Division” of 1999; a match in which the second oldest person (Crash) was only 28 years old. When does that EVER happen? Edge being the first one gone was a surprise, as was the heels going over. Then again, since Edge and company were made men after their spectacular ladder match the previous month, why not give some rub to the then-relevant “Big Shot”? Christian’s near-comeback from a three-on-one was fun to watch.

24. Bertha Faye, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe & Lioness Asuka def. Alundra Blayze, Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue & Chapparita Asari (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kong
This was probably the first time since 1988 that WWE had more than three women involved in the same match, and boy, what a comeback for women’s wrestling. Of course, the entire division was scrapped a month later, when Blayze rechristened herself as Madusa and threw the WWE Women’s Title in the trash on WCW Nitro. Alas. The match was a ten minute infomercial for Aja Kong to show how scary-dominant she could be, dropping her fellow Joshi performers on their heads and necks before waylaying Blayze with a spinning back fist to become the sole survivor. Now we get Kelly Kelly rubbing her bony ass in Natalya’s face. Alas.

23. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw, and Hardcore Holly def. Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Matt Morgan, and Nathan Jones (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivors: Benoit, Cena
Lesnar built a team of brawny monsters to take on GM Paul Heyman’s “most wanted” list. It was notable because, unlike today with Cena and Randy Orton, the two men getting the biggest rub (Angle and Lesnar) were eliminated before the finish, thus making whoever survived look pretty damn special. Indeed, the soon-to-be-megapushed Benoit and the being-molded Cena upended Big Show in the end, after Benoit had made Lesnar tap out. Of course, this is essentially the match that kicked off Cena’s interminable face run, so maybe some of you will want to curse this outing.

22. Shawn Michaels, Triple H, CM Punk, and The Hardy Boyz def. Edge, Randy Orton, Johnny Nitro, Gregory Helms, and Mike Knox (11/26/06, Philadelphia, PA)
Survivors: the entire team
One sided as it was, this match provided some decent crowd-pleasing action, as well as a number of comedy spots. Mike Knox being eliminated by Shawn Michaels in under a minute, and then Shawn asking his team, “Who was he?” is never not funny. “I think he’s on ECW.” “Oh, so we’re doing GOOD then?” Too hilarious. Also of note was Punk outpopping the entire team during the pre-match DX intro, despite having only been in WWE for three months. It’s stuff like that that drives Vince McMahon even more insane.

21. Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, and Hunico def. Randy Orton, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, Sin Cara, and Mason Ryan (11/20/11, New York, NY)
Survivors: Barrett, Rhodes
It was a pretty good way of putting over Intercontinental Champion Rhodes and soon-to-be pushed heel Barrett (before his arm injury in February). Orton dispatched a drained Ziggler early before Barrett’s team rattled off 4 straight eliminations, leaving Orton alone against 4 men. Swagger went quietly, then Hunico was RKOed out before the Viper was outsmarted, losing to Barrett’s Wasteland.

20. The Miz, Sheamus, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre def. John Morrison, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Shelton Benjamin, and Finlay (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivors: Miz, Sheamus, McIntyre
Other than McIntyre’s push stalling in 2010, that heel side is like “Team Groom for Greatness”, as the other four men would all go on to hold a World Title. Whereas the face team features three men no longer in WWE, one suspended for ingesting synthetic ganja, and a captain who is a kitty-whipped laughingstock. Regardless, the match was a tremendous showcase of midcarders soon-to-be big deals, which gives Survivor Series (as well as the Royal Rumble) its ochre of flavor. The highlights were McIntyre nearly breaking Bourne in half at the neck with his Future Shock DDT, and Sheamus definitively crushing Finlay in the “Battle of the Brogue.”

19. Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart, Doug Furnas, and Phil Lafon (Team Canada) def. Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero, and Goldust (Team USA) (11/9/97, Montreal, PQ)
Survivor: Smith
Team Canada, it should be noted, featured only one actual Canadian in Lafon. On the night where Bret Hart would be excommunicated from WWE canon, it seemed appropriate that a hastily-assembled team of America haters would be on display. The match was merely a backdrop to begin a feud with Vader and the increasingly-erratic Goldust, who walked out without ever tagging in, but the match was an exciting wrestling exhibition when Vader, Mero, Smith, Furnas and Lafon were involved. Having a pro-Canuck team in an enthusiastic Canadian setting provided a hot crowd as well, even if the match was overshadowed at night’s end by…..well, you know.

18. Ted Dibiase, Rhythm & Blues, and a Mystery Partner (The Million Dollar Team) def. Dusty Rhodes, Koko B Ware, and The Hart Foundation (The Dream Team) (11/22/90, Hartford, CT)
Survivor: Dibiase
Assuming that Honky and Neidhart are future Hall of Famers, as well as the mystery partner, you have eight Hall of Famers in one match. Impressive, no? Anyway, you probably know by now that said mystery partner is The Undertaker, making his WWE debut in grand fashion by obliterating Ware and Rhodes before taking a countout loss to save his mystique. Hart lost his brother Dean the day before to kidney failure, and Roddy Piper (on commentary) declared “The Hitman” had dedicated the match to him. Foreshadowing his eventual singles push, Hart came back from three on one to tussle with Dibiase at the end, losing when the Million Dollar Man rolled through his cross body.

17. Randy Savage, Jake Roberts, Brutus Beefcake, Ricky Steamboat, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan def. Honky Tonk Man, Ron Bass, Harley Race, Hercules, and Danny Davis (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Roberts, Steamboat
The first Survivor Series match ever had one of the more intriguing stories ever seen at the event. Honky, Intercontinental Champion for six months running and an unlikely champion at that, was versed by five challengers, all of whom capable of beating him for the gold, if not for Honky’s perpetual luck and knack for cheating. Honky’s teammates weren’t able to go the distance, as Honky found himself stuck with the three men he had feuded with through 1987, and they all still held a grudge. After trying his best to hang with Savage and his cohorts, Honky took a walk for the countout loss. By the way, wouldn’t YOU have loved to see Savage and Steamboat as a semi-regular team? Me too.

16. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan, Koko B Ware, Hercules, and Hillbilly Jim def. Big Bossman, Akeem, Ted Dibiase, Haku, and The Red Rooster (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Savage, Hogan
Koko and Rooster main evented a WWE PPV not called “Royal Rumble” or “Irony-Mania”. The Towers were positioned as holdover threats to Savage and Hogan before the “Mega Powers Exploding” months later. Hogan being handcuffed late in the match while Savage had to try and fend off Bossman and Akeem provided some tension to a well-worked, albeit predictable, affair. The sad part was Dibiase, the hottest heel when the year started, reduced to working a nothing angle with former “slave” Hercules, and then floating around with nothing to do for months until he was handed the Jake Roberts feud. Other than such quibbles, it was a fine main event to the Series’ second incarnation.

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15. The Ultimate Warrior, Jim Neidhart, and The Rockers (The Ultimate Warriors) def. Andre the Giant, Haku, Arn Anderson, and Bobby Heenan (The Heenan Family) (11/23/89, Chicago, IL)
Survivor: Warrior
I love when you look back at old matches like this and realize that WWE and Vince McMahon were giving experimental runs to those deemed to have “future prospects.” This particular match was the closer for the 1989 Survivor Series, and Warrior was given a chance to shine as the final act, foreshadowing his World Title run the following year. In addition, Shawn Michaels lasted quite a while in the match for a 24-year-old tag team wrestler, getting to pin Haku before succumbing to Anderson’s spinebuster. Surely with Marty Jannetty eliminated, the match became something of a singles audition for the future Heartbreak Kid. For those wondering why Heenan was in the match, check Tully Blanchard’s drug test results for an explanation.

14. Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, MVP, and R-Truth def. Randy Orton, CM Punk, Cody Rhodes, Ted Dibiase, and William Regal (11/22/09, Washington, DC)
Survivor: Kingston
Quite the anachronism in 2011, Orton pinned Henry within the first minute, Orton and Punk worked in tandem, eventual main eventer R-Truth bit the dust early, and Orton Punk were both reviled villains to Christian’s virtuous good guy routine. But rather than expose the fallacies of WWE’s breakneck booking change, let’s look at the upside: Kingston was made with this one, withstanding seven minutes of Punk and Orton breaking him down, to score what should have been a career-boosting victory. Instead, he blew the finish weeks later in a triple threat involving Orton, and Orton had an on-camera freakout that got Kofi punished, but not Randino. Weird.

13. Razor Ramon, 123 Kid, Davey Boy Smith, and The Headshrinkers (The Bad Guys) def. Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, and Jeff Jarrett (The Teamsters) (11/23/94, San Antonio, TX)
Survivor: Ramon
You can be made in a loss, and Diesel was a made man after this performance. After lots of early action in which everyone but Michaels got involved, Diesel said “enough of this” and went on a rampage. Fatu bit the dust with a Jackknife, followed by Kid, then Sionne, and then the Bulldog took a count out loss. With Razor remaining, against 5 on 1 odds, a loss seemed inevitable when Michaels FINALLY tagged in and accidentally superkicked Diesel. In a silly finish, all five heels were counted out when Diesel angrily stalked Michaels. Razor became the only sole survivor in history to never eliminate anyone and, three days later, Diesel beat Bob Backlund to become WWE Champion.

12. Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, One Man Gang, and Butch Reed def. Hulk Hogan, Bam Bam Bigelow, Paul Orndorff, Don Muraco, and Ken Patera (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivor: Andre
Sorry, Jim Crockett Promotions. When cable providers had to choose between airing Starrcade ’87 and the inaugural Survivor Series, with the lure of Hulk and Andre in the main event, facing off eight months after WrestleMania III, WWE won out in spades. After the sides whittled down to a three on two, Hogan and Andre finally locked horns, but the Hulkster was counted out after Bundy and Gang kept him from re-entering the ring. Bigelow managed to eliminate Bundy and Gang and would have defied the odds Cena-style but, well, it was Andre. The Frenchman flattened Bammer for the final fall, giving himself a just cause to petition a rematch against Hogan for the WWE title. And that’s a fascinating story in itself.

11. Doug Furnas, Phil Lafon, and The Godwinns def. Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and The New Rockers (11/17/96, New York, NY)
Survivors: Furnas, Lafon
After a cup of coffee in ECW in the fall of 1996, Furnas and Lafon debuted in the opening match of Survivor Series 1996, and what a debut it was. Once Marty Jannetty busted his ankle prior to being eliminated, and then both Godwinns went, WWE was in store for action that they’d never seen before. Leif Cassidy (known better as Al Snow) took a header with modified reverse superplex from Lafon, and the well-traveled veterans were made to hold off Hart and Smith, then WWE Tag Team Champions. Bulldog was cradled for elimination, and Furnas planted Owen with an absolutely vicious release German suplex to give Furnas and Lafon the win with a crazy standing ovation from the Garden crowd.

10. The Rock, The Undertaker, Kane, Chris Jericho, and Big Show vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Shane McMahon (11/19/01, Greensboro, NC)
Survivor: Rock
It was an abrupt end to what should have been a money-maker for WWE. The WCW/ECW Invasion had sputtered to a poorly-booked finish, but at least we got a great finale out of it. With the future of the company at stake, and the losing side being forced to disband for good, drama built over the forty-five minute coda. Once down to just Rock and Austin, after Jericho attempted to selfishly maim his own partner, the two icons of the Attitude era put on a dramatic finish, ending with Angle proving to be a mole, as he clocked Austin with a title belt. One Rock Bottom later, and the Alliance was dead, leaving Stephanie to scream like a banshee in tears backstage.

9. The Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, and The Young Stallions def. Demolition, The Brainbusters, Los Conquistadors, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, and The Bolsheviks (11/24/88, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Powers of Pain
When was the last time WWE had ten teams, REAL teams, under lock and key like this? This would be the second time a match with ten teams would take place (I do believe this spoils a later entry), and it was full of great action and well-told stories. The climax was an inexplicable story turn in which Mr. Fuji intentionally caused Demolition, the World Tag Team Champions, mind you, to be counted out, just so he could manage the Powers of Pain for some reason. In other fascinating notes, the Conquistadors, perennial jobbers, lasted over forty minutes, and the Rougeaus were eliminated early due to a very tense real-life feud with Dynamite Kid.

8. Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Maven def. Triple H, Batista, Edge, and Gene Snitsky (11/14/04, Cleveland, OH)
Survivor: Orton
Kicking off one of the greatest five-month story arcs ever seen in WWE history (I’m serious), Orton led his team to victory in a match where the winning side got to run Raw for one month while Eric Bischoff took a long vacation. In the end, it would lead to Batista realizing he could beat Triple H and thus slowly turned on him before brutalizing him for the World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania 21. Sadly, though, this match didn’t make Orton the top babyface star that Vince McMahon was hoping for, but lord knows they’d try again year after year. Highlight of the match is Maven busting Snitsky open with a stiff right hand, and Gene getting his revenge with a chair shot that just about killed the Shop-At-Home star.

7. Ric Flair, Ted Dibiase, The Warlord, and The Mountie def. Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Virgil (11/27/91, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Flair
What a great beginning, what a lousy finish. Talk about your impressive lists of talent for one match, with the exception of Warlord, who at least provided a musclehead to throw people around and create “ooooh” moments with. Even Virgil in 1991 had hit a nice stride. Smith and Warlord are both eliminated after a Flair cheapshot causes Bulldog to go, and then Hart duplicates the act on Warlord, allowing Piper to pin the big man. The match then ends in a bizarre multi-man count out, with Flair being the only man to beat the count back inside, thus cheaply becoming the sole survivor. It was a shame, because the match was turning into something AWESOME, aided by a white-hot crowd. What a pity.

6. The Shield and The Real Americans def. Rey Mysterio, Cody Rhodes, Goldust, and The Usos (11/24/13, Boston, MA)
Survivor: Roman Reigns

Easily the best elimination match in nearly a decade, WWE gave a Booking 101 demonstration on how to portray a wrestler as a killer. After Dean Ambrose, Cesaro, and Jack Swagger bit the dust, Reigns went ballistic, thinning the field of Rhodes and Jimmy Uso. Seth Rollins bounced Jey Uso out before getting downed by Rey. Down two-on-one, an undaunted Reigns plowed through Goldust and Mysterio in a 30-second span to stand tall. The action along the way was the fast-paced fare you’d expect, given the entrants, but letting one man, one not named Cena or Orton, obliterate so many opponents gave hope that Reigns would become a power player.

5. Skip, Rad Radford, Tom Pritchard, and 123 Kid (The Bodydonnas) def. Marty Jannetty, Barry Horowitz, Hakushi, and Bob Holly (The Underdogs) (11/19/95, Landover, MD)
Survivor: Kid
Imagine in 2011 if they put the likes of Daniel Bryan and other barely-seen, improperly-used talents in one twenty minute match and told them “go nuts.” In this opening match to the 1995 show, fast-paced athletes like Hakushi, Jannetty, and Kid wowed the crowd in spectacular fashion with action that Vince McMahon wasn’t exactly used to putting on. Let’s just say Vince bellowed “WHATAMANEUVER” a lot. After Jannetty finished Skip off with a top rope powerbomb (unheard of in WWE at the time), Kid used help from new stablemate Psycho Sid to finish Jannetty, continuing his remolding into one of Ted Dibiase’s corporate players.

4. Batista, Rey Mysterio, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, and JBL (Team Smackdown) def. Shawn Michaels, Kane, Big Show, Carlito, and Chris Masters (Team Raw) (11/27/05, Detroit, MI)
Survivor: Orton
The in-ring action for this one was superb, as you had wrestlers who didn’t even LIKE each other railing off creative double teams for the greater good of brand supremacy (you know, when the brand extension WASN’T a bastardized concept meant to make people care about a draft from year to year….). But as fun and different as the in-ring action was, the action at the commentary desks was even better, as Michael Cole and Tazz sniped with Joey Styles (remember him?), Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman for the entire match in between calling moves. For once, it seemed like Vince McMahon stepped away from the headset and just let their barbs come naturally, and it was FUN. In the end, Michaels took out Mysterio and JBL, but the RKO got him moments later. Then The Undertaker returned. Great stuff.

3. Razor Ramon, Macho Man Randy Savage, Marty Jannetty, and 123 Kid def. IRS, Diesel, Rick Martel, and Adam Bomb (11/24/93, Boston, MA)
Survivors: Jannetty, Kid
A major substitution took place before the card, as Savage was called in to pinch hit for Mr. Perfect, who either bowed out due to recurring back problems or alcoholic issues, depending on which source you believe. Regardless, the action was raucous for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, with Diesel, Savage, IRS, and Razor, the four bigger players involved, being eliminated. Once down to the monstrous Bomb and wily Martel against two smaller competitors, it seemed that Kid and Jannetty had little chance. This was especially true after Bomb gave Kid a sickening slam on the concrete after a plancha gone bad. However, after a half hour of action, Kid and Jannetty ended the contest with matching sunset flips on both men to become unlikely survivors.

2. Strike Force, Young Stallions, Killer Bees, British Bulldogs, and the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers def. Hart Foundation, Demolition, The Islanders, The New Dream Team, and The Bolsheviks (11/26/87, Richfield, OH)
Survivors: Stallions, Bees
The original twenty-man elimination contest features WWE talents at their most innovative. In a match with Bret Hart, Dynamite Kid, Davey Boy Smith, Tito Santana, and others, this should not be a surprise. Hard to say what was better: Haku nearly decapitating Dynamite with the savate kick, or Paul Roma saving Jim Powers with a top rope sunset flip on Valentine to eliminate him. This match has literally everything: crisp finishing sequences, top-notch wrestling, good swerves (Strike Force, the champs, were eliminated not fifteen minutes into the forty minute match), and a nice underdog finish, as Jim Brunzell pinned Bret Hart, allowing the Bees and Stallions to outsmart the brawnier Islanders en route to victory. If you love tag team wrestling, hunt down a copy of this event, because this match will be your Graceland.

1. Chris Jericho, Christian, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, and Scott Steiner (Team Bischoff) def. Shawn Michaels, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and The Dudley Boyz (Team Austin) (11/16/03, Dallas, TX)
Survivor: Orton
If Austin’s team were to be victorious, he, as co-GM of Raw, would be allowed to use martial law to keep order on the show (i.e. beat people up). However, if Bischoff’s team won, Austin was out as co-GM. The match began innocuously enough, with Henry, Booker, Steiner, and RVD going, and then Michaels hit a gusher outside the ring, with blood spilling everywhere. Seriously, it looked like he was going to die any second. Jericho and Christian finished off the future Team 3D, and Austin’s hopes were now pinned on a crimson-soaked zombie. Oh, the drama! A fluke Sweet Chin Music took Christian out, and a cradled reversal of the Walls doomed Jericho. Michaels heroically hung in there against a fresh Orton, and the ref was soon knocked out. Austin and Bischoff interjected themselves, and Austin chased Bischoff to the entrance set and thrashed him good, but Batista then jumped the rail, pancaked Michaels with the Batista Bomb, and the ref came around to count Orton’s pinfall, leaving a stunned Austin in the aisleway. Had Austin been gone for more than four months after this, and not returned as the “Sheriff”, it’d have meant a lot more. Instead, it was just a great match, one in which the drama and story meant more than any chain-wrestling sequence could ever mean.

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