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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE: Building One Beast Up, Tearing One Down

June 25, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE did Roman Reigns a favor when it decided to place him in a program with Bray Wyatt. The idea of taking the company’s would be Superman and pitting him against the master of manipulation at Battleground has all the makings of a great storyline that can only help Reigns ascend further up the company’s food chain. Maybe this will move toward a possible WWE title run down the line.

The idea of taking the seemingly immortal Reigns – Vince McMahon’s new version of John Cena – and showing his vulnerability for his family is brilliant and should get the former Shield member over even more with the fans.

The move also strengthens Wyatt’s grip on being the WWE’s puppet master – only to get the best out of stars who need to be tested mentally and then physically.

Over the years in different territories and promotions, professional wrestling has preyed on the concept of attacking a star’s family in order to see them rise above the conflict only to come out on the other end victorious. It is just another form of connection between the fans and the wrestlers who are more human than given credit. Regardless of whether the storyline is real or not, fans have a tender spot for scripts that involve situations they too can identify with.

Because Reigns has been ascending as of late again on the company’s ladder toward super stardom, this is a ripe time to test his mental wear.

While WWE writers have the right idea with Reigns, they may have very well done Brock Lesnar a disservice by making him look mortal and weak on Monday night’s Raw program. The concept of a man who is bigger and badder than any other wrestler on the WWE roster being manhandled by Seth Rollins is way beyond the scope of realism. And that concept, which started out smart last week when Rollins backpeddled to avoid his nemesis, is what will not only lose the fans’ interest, but may ruin Lesnar’s affinity with the crowds leading up to Battleground.

As Brian Fritz wrote in his column for the Sporting News, “Lesnar is a bonafide star, a true needle-mover in a time when there is fewer and fewer of those. But when his music hits, you feel like you’re seeing someone special.”

Fans only saw someone who was a mere mortal on Monday night because Rollins got the best of him and before that, Lesnar spent the first part of the evening apologizing to the announce team for injuring them and causing havoc.

Wait, isn’t that what he is supposed to do? Isn’t that what the WWE wanted – a larger than life “BEAST” who could come out and make the biggest stars of the company (like John Cena) tap out or worst, get the holy crap beaten out of them? I am sure the company knows what it is doing, but for now, the idea is lost on me and probably thousands of viewers who saw what went down on Monday.

It’s safe to say Fritz did not think the “change” of sorts by Lesnar and the road the company has decide to travel before the pay-per-view is going to get a lot of cheers from the crowds in the arenas if they view Lesnar simply as one just like the others on the roster.

“Brock Lesnar has a larger than life appearance. He is the equivalent of the real-life Incredible Hulk. And what do people what to see Hulk do? Hulk smash,” Fritz added.

The WWE has a little over three weeks to “fix” this issue. By taking away part of what makes the Lesnar character so great, the combination with Paul Heyman is destroyed. And if the WWE wants to throw away a gem in this union, it cannot try to recreate any likeness now or in the future.

Lesnar may not win the WWE World Title at Battleground (winning it would be a sin for the moment), but he had better appear to be the giant “Hulk-like” figure Fritz speaks of or the whole idea of bringing him back is lost and a waste of the fans’ time.

And you can believe that!

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Bret Hart Talks Daniel Bryan WWE Future, Samoa Joe, and Roman Reigns

June 22, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Bret “Hitman” Hart has never been shy to express his views. Even after a reconciliation with the WWE, Hart remains outspoken and a recent interview with the former champ is making headlines.

Love or hate Bret Hart, you have to respect his rebellious attitude when it comes to playing WWE politics. Hart continues to speak his mind and offer his opinion on current and past WWE topics whether they align with the company line or not. A recent interview with SI.com’s Hot Mustard is a prime example of this. One topic in particular is creating a lot of buzz and that was Hart’s thoughts on Daniel Bryan.

Hart was asked about the Daniel Bryan situation and his answer is interesting to say the least.

Daniel Bryan is finished,” said Hart. “He’ll never wrestle again. I don’t think he knows it yet. I feel terrible about Daniel Bryan. For all intents and purposes, he had the exact same thing happen to him that happened to me after Bill Goldberg kicked me in the head.

One day, you learn it’s over. Doctors tell you that you can’t wrestle and you’ll never wrestle again. I lost millions of dollars because of that. I pray that it’s not the same for Daniel Bryan.”

I saw him in a lot of his matches after he came back from the injury, and he was taking suplexes on the back of his head, powerbombs, and other really dangerous moves,” said Hart. “I know he wanted to test it out, but I think he may have pushed himself too hard. He’s like Dynamite Kid in the sense that they’re both tough and neither wanted to admit that injuries got the best of them. He’s finished forever, but I don’t think he’s even realized that. He’s probably thinking, ‘Maybe it will get better in a few months,’ but unfortunately, I don’t think it will.

As you can expect, Hart’s answer is drawing a lot of controversy. The WWE have remained incredibly tight-lipped about Bryan’s status and injuries. Hart on the other hand has laid it out there and whether this is Hart’s opinion or he has some kind of inside knowledge on Bryan’s status is unknown. I will say this. While I appreciate his opinion, it is a little out of line for Hart to definitively say “he’s finished” before Bryan has the chance to tell the world the news. I see where he is coming from, and I can’t say I disagree. I sat there in disbelief watching his match at Mania knowing the injury history he has had. Again, I don’t think Bret would have appreciated someone coming out and saying he was finished before he had the chance to announce his retirement or status.

Speaking of injuries, Hart is also making news for a comment he made about new WWE signee Samoa Joe. Longtime Hart-family friend Tyson Kidd was injured recently by Joe and Hart had some harsh words about how it went down. Hart was asked about Joe’s “Muscle Buster” which allegedly caused the injury.

It’s extremely dangerous,” said Hart. “The move that Samoa Joe did was reckless, and the way they rushed that match beforehand in the back without giving Tyson time to prepare was mistake. Tyson is, pound for pound, one of the best wrestlers in the world. And that includes his mind. If you went behind the scenes at WWE, Tyson is an intricate piece of so many other matches. It’s a shame that a guy who is that talented and given so much to the company is hurt, but I just hope it’s not so serious that his career is over.

I did find it interesting that an injury came out of Joe’s match the night he reportedly signed his full-time deal with the WWE. I have never heard anyone complain prior to Hart about Joe’s Muscle Buster. Hart does lay some blame on the agent here as you can see by not giving Kidd time to prepare for the move. It’s a bad deal either way and I am very curious to see if the Buster gets banned moving forward.

Finally, Hart was asked about Roman Reigns. Ironically Hart was in a similar situation back in 1993 when Lex Luger was the anointed one by Vince McMahon. Hart was in the Daniel Bryan spot and was the people’s choice as Vince continued pushing Luger hard. Like Luger, Vince got cold feet at the last minute and nixed a planned title run.

I can see the problem,” he said. “They had Daniel Bryan who, because of his injury, was basically going to comeback and repeat the exact same storyline that he did the last year, and Vince didn’t want to do that again. So they took a sharp turn and said they were going to get Reigns over. It’s easy to say now they should have done different things to help establish Roman Reigns as a babyface character, but my thinking in all this is that they tend to get a little too pig-headed in their thinking – ‘We’ll do this, this, and that’s all there is to it.’ The fans are too smart for that.

When Reigns got that endorsement from Rock, they tried so hard to have people love him,” said Hart. “It was a really tough time for Roman Reigns, but I don’t think it was his fault. The booking wasn’t thought out enough.”

Hart’s comment on Reigns’ booking is probably the understatement of the year. I agree with Hart in that it isn’t all Reigns’ fault yet some will tell you that it is on Reigns to go out there and make it happen. Hart does feel that Reigns is finally “accepted” by the fans although that remains to be seen.

The entire interview is truly a fascinating read where Hart gives a “State of the WWE” address and talks about some of the current roster, matches, situations, etc. Check out the entire read over at Extra Mustard.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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WWE Post MITB Thoughts: Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns

June 18, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Is he a diamond or is he a lump of coal? That is the question Seth Rollins has to answer now that the Authority has decided that Brock Lesnar has “suffered” enough during his indefinite suspension and returned to Raw after “Money in the Bank” as the handpicked opponent for Seth Rollins and his WWE World Title.

It was just a matter of time before the known secret would finally be revealed. This time, “Suplex City” came to Cleveland, OH to stare down the man who escaped with his title Sunday night against Dean Ambrose. The beginning of the summer months just ratcheted up a few degrees with the intense look Lesnar had for the man who cost him his title at WrestleMania 31.

Now, fans get to see just how good Rollins is at being the hunted.

The immediate thought I had when Lesnar came out of the back, with Paul Heyman by his side, is that the WWE’s plans to make Lesnar a babyface came to a screeching halt. But wait a minute, there was never a real “turn” for The Beast Incarnate. The fans showed their adulation for the former champion after he was screwed out of his title, but the turn was never complete. Honestly, did we really think the turn would come full circle? This is just another opportunity to pit heel versus heel in today’s WWE.

This would never have happened 10 years ago. Maybe even five.

In a realistic world (I know that is an impossible concept with professional wrestling) the character Lesnar portrays has no equal. And in the world of professional wrestling, the face turn by Lesnar makes no sense. He is bigger, strong and meaner than any other member of the WWE roster. Now, the man who everyone wants to be a combination of the next Edge and CM Punk (Rollins) has to forge his way through a David vs. Goliath type program.

We should all know how this feud will turn out. The Authority’s support of Rollins is wearing thin. This will be the tests of tests for the current company champion.

WYATT VS. REIGNS IS INTRIGUING

The WWE has created a bit of excitement with the concept of Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns at Battleground. But I am a bit confused at why the WWE continues to put such a valuable commodity like Wyatt in these types of situations.

Reigns has been reinvigorated with the WWE crowds of late, thanks in part to his association with Dean Ambrose. Now the Royal Rumble winner faces off against one of Ambrose’s former nemeses. Wyatt is too good a performer to continually lose. The losses keep mounting as Wyatt’s performances in and out of the ring remain on point and get better and better.

At some point, doesn’t the continual losses start to hurt the WWE superstar?

Wyatt’s greatest ability, much like Raven and Kevin Sullivan before him, is playing mind games with his opponents, only to bring out the best in them.

It was Reigns that Wyatt blames for taking away his opportunity at the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This is great theater for a feud we may not have seen coming.

There has been talk in the past of Wyatt turning face and becoming an even greater commodity for the WWE and his loyal fans. My question is when will this happen and how much longer can Wyatt lose in pay-per-view events?

At some point, not only will Wyatt have to get over again, but he will also have to win at the same time.

Since the momentum continues to build for Reigns, I cannot see the WWE setting him up for failure right now.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

Grab discounted WWE DVDs, merchandise, t -shirts, figures, and more from the WWE Shop on Amazon.com

Roman Reigns Must Win WWE Money in the Bank 2015

June 11, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

This may be the most obvious WWE blog you read all week yet it needs to be said. He’s paid his dues, he’s waited patiently, and his time is now. Roman Reigns must win Money in the Bank 2015!

I look back at the last twelve months of Roman Reigns’ career and it has certainly been a roller coaster. I wrote an extensive blog on that timeline a few weeks ago leading into WrestleMania. One of the key moments I pointed to in regards to Reigns fall from fan hero came at last year’s Money in the Bank. Reigns lost the match and while it certainly was only a part of why Reigns has had problems, it played a bigger part than I think most give credit for. The WWE writing team cannot make that same mistake again.

The writing team can be a fickle bunch. There are times when the crew will pull off the obvious such as Reigns winning the Royal Rumble and there are others where they will shake it up for the sake of shaking it up. This is not a time to get cute. There should be one objective right now and that is putting Reigns over and setting up for the run he should have had.

Even if you aren’t a Reigns fan, who else do you go with here? Randy Orton would send the crowd into a riot. I am an Orton fan but fans are tired of seeing him in the top storylines. Sheamus is intriguing although it doesn’t seem like the time is right. Speaking of timing as much as I love Dolph Ziggler’s work his time has passed. Kane? Really? I could make an argument for Neville and he certainly fits the prototype of a MITB winner but at the end of the day the choice is Reigns.

The rehabilitation of Reigns doesn’t end at Money in the Bank. This also isn’t the time for a slow simmer until WrestleMania. Not only does Reigns need to win, he needs to cash in between now and SummerSlam. I can’t fathom the idea of turning Reigns heel but boy his character certainly appears that he will be turning on his buddy Dean Ambrose shortly. Maybe he turns on Brock Lesnar after Lesnar beats Rollins for the title? Anything can happen at this point.

While some of you may groan at Reigns I hate to say it but Rollins isn’t working. Again, I wrote an extensive blog on this subject last week but he’s just not clicking. The ratings are not very good and while there is always a WrestleMania hangover, this kind of hangover hasn’t ever been seen. Things need to change and while I enjoy watching Rollins work, it’s now been proven that he isn’t the guy.

I don’t know how it happens but the company needs to refocus on Reigns and it all begins on Sunday. I also don’t know whether or not he’s the answer but there is only one way to find out. Hopefully we find out sooner than much later.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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How Roman Reigns Will Win MITB and the WWE Title In the Same Night

June 11, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s hard not to think the WWE will once again try to throw another huge win by Roman Reigns at us on Sunday night at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. But in all likelihood, despite what I wrote late last week, it will probably happen.

I am glad I am only plunking down $9.99 for this one instead of the $49.99 the cable company used to steal from my bank account on a monthly basis. Reigns has been better of late as a competitor now that he has had his role redefined by the WWE – i.e. placed in situations where he has not had to carry the torch by himself. Thanks to the help of Randy Orton and now Dean Ambrose, Reigns is reaching another level of fandom where he could win the golden briefcase and cash in on the ticket to a WWE World Title.

Seriously, it could happen this weekend.

The WWE has finally come to its senses and began the quest of finding John Cena’s replacement as the leading face of the company – the wrestler who will stand above all and make it rain green for the promotion once the 38-year-old, 15-time world champion hangs it up. The prospect of Reigns taking over the “good ol’ boy” Cena routine falls on deaf ears and would fall flat in a Stamford minute.

While I like the idea of the WWE touting Kevin Owens, Neville and Sami Zayn as the company’s future along with Seth Rollins and Reigns, there is still one card that has not been played yet which could again shock the wrestling community.

What if Roman Reigns walks out of MITB with the WWE World Title strapped to his waist as a heel rather than a face?

I’ll give that a second or two to sink in.

The idea is fairly simple. The sudden reunion of Reigns and Ambrose has brought lots of attention back to the old Shield members with Rollins holding the WWE World Title. Ambrose is a solid main event star, but honestly, I cannot see him as a WWE champion for any length of time. The matches between he and Rollins are the magical in their stage. In this case, Ambrose is the “People’s Champion” in every sense of the word. The scenario I am talking about looks something like this.

Three world champions in one night, two matches, and Reigns walks out as the new leader of the band with the belt in place.

Let that one sink in as well. Here’s the plan.

Rollins walks into the main event match with the WWE World Title. It’s another instant classic from both superstars with Ambrose winning clean over Rollins and claiming the title. Before the match, however, is where it gets a bit dicey, and then exciting.

Reigns beats Sheamus in the end to capture the brief case in the MITB Ladder Match. The crowd accepts the win, but is not as excited as you would expect. After Ambrose beats Rollins in the middle of the ring Reigns comes down the aisle to congratulate his best friend who is tired and beaten all to hell. Instead, we get the Randy Orton-Triple H fast one all over again.

As Reigns lifts Ambrose’s arm in victory, he walks away only to Superman punch Ambrose, turn over the briefcase, cash it in and claim the WWE World Title.

At least the crowd gets excited about a heel turn from Reigns and accepts him in that capacity as the company champion. Brilliant, isn’t it? Now, there is heat for Ambrose vs. Reigns and somewhere, somehow, Rollins lurks in the foreground.

I am sure this is a scenario that has been discussed over and over by many a fan. Frankly, we really have no idea how the end of the night will play out. Rollins screwed Reigns out of the title at Wrestlemania and the thought of Ambrose holding the gold before he gets his hands on it is a perfect set up for a heel turn – the only way the WWE knows how to make it work.

And in the end, Reigns’ reign will lead to a long heated summer with Rollins, Ambrose and – with a splash of Brock Lesnar added for good measure.

Now, if only it were to turn out that way… and better yet if only it would work.

WWE: Daniel Bryan: Just Say Yes! Yes! Yes! on Amazon.com

WWE: Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe

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Roman Reigns Is WWE’s Latest Failure

June 03, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

We all know The Shield’s story by now. Seth Rollins betrayed The Shield, joined the Authority, and became WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The other members had to find their own place within WWE, Dean Ambrose became The Lunatic Fringe, and Roman Reigns became the most booed man ever in the history of the Royal Rumble. But despite how things turned out for Reigns due to WWE’s creative team not knowing how to handle him properly, he still has a lot of potential as a top superstar. He just needs a reason for fans to get behind him.

WWE relied entirely on making him some one else instead of simply evolving his character from his Shield days. If the creative team would have went the route of simple storytelling instead of forcing Reigns down our throats, he would have been the biggest name in professional wrestling at the moment. Wrestling takes some of its ideas from other forms of media. So it would make sense to adapt one of their superstars in to a character similar to one from a comic book. It’s not like they haven’t done it before. Take a look back at The Hurricane. Even today, WWE is embracing the idea of a super hero character with how Neville is depicted. So it wouldn’t have been a stretch to evolve Reigns in to an outright vigilante such as The Punisher.

His in ring attire is basically all black with a vest covered with his logo similar to the Marvel antihero. Why not embrace the lone wolf personality as well? Unfortunately, Reigns has to endure the aftermath of WWE failing in every attempt to force him upon the audience. He will most likely remain on the course he’s on without being repackaged, but let’s have some fun and wonder what could have been if WWE would have stayed out of the way of natural progression.

On June 2, 2014, Seth Rollins attacked the other members of The Shield and joined the Authority. Dean Ambrose went after Seth Rollins for revenge, and Roman Reigns was immediately thrown in to the heavyweight title picture. But what if Reigns had chosen to remain the only standing member of The Shield instead? What if he decided to uphold the idea of justice that the stable believed in? It would certainly explain why he still wears his Shield inspired attire and retained The Shield’s theme and entrance.

Before suffering succotash and the rest of the awful dialog WWE forced him to say, Reigns was seen as the most silent out of the group. So his persona of the last man standing from The Shield could easily be sold through his actions and presence similar to the way Baron Corbin has been handled so far. And all of his promos could be prerecorded in the back like The Shield has done in the past. Keeping Reigns mysterious and seen as a powerhouse would easily appeal to wrestling fans, especially since he would have been a constant reminder of the biggest story that year.

The year could have consisted of Ambrose having his attention on Rollins, while Reigns focused on completely taking down the Authority. This could have played out for however long WWE wanted it to until it eventually lead to Reigns facing Triple H himself. Giving his character a proper build up would have drawn fans behind him in time for the Royal Rumble. And keeping him off television during his injury would have added surprise to his return. Because a true top guy could leave with an injury without having to give updates every other week to keep him relevant.

Roman Reigns suffers from lack of direction. If WWE would have left his character similar to what it was before and allowed him to evolve on his own, I’m pretty sure he would have connected with fans a lot better than he has. Reigns had the ability to become the next big anti-hero if handled right, similar to what Orton’s role is now. While that moment has come and gone, it’s never to late to repackage him as a heel at least. After all, most of the biggest names from the attitude era started off as heels before becoming the top baby faces of the company.

WWE should have used the biggest angle last year to shape him in to something of substance. Their heavy handedness has caused Reigns more than he has gained since his push. Hopefully, Reigns is able to capture the crowd again like his Shield days before WWE gives him the title. Because as of right now, he seems like more of an over hyped mid-carder at the moment. WWE is to blame for not capitalizing on their biggest story in years, what a missed opportunity.

WWE: It’s good to be the King: The Jerry Lawler Story

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WWE Payback 2015 Results: Rollins Retains, Rusev Quits

May 17, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Seth Rollins WWE Payback 2015WWE Payback was a one-match show. Fortunately for the WWE that one match was one of the best in awhile. The show will be remembered for a thrilling main-event which featured a brief reunion of the Shield. Unfortunately the rest of the show was an event that should and will be forgotten.

There isn’t a whole lot that I could say about the main-event other than that it was about as fun a match as you will see on a WWE special event. The Fatal 4-Way was a roller coaster ride of thrills and excitement that ended with a predictable winner, capping off a highly predictable night.

Seth Rollins pinned Randy Orton to retain the WWE world title in a Fatal 4-Way match. This match was just non-stop action from the second the bell rang. This was far and away one of the most exciting WWE main-events I have seen in a long time. Reigns and Ambrose double-teamed Rollins at one point which got a big reaction from the crowd. Reigns set up for the Superman Punch but was pulled out of the ring by Kane. Kane also beat down Ambrose and threw him back in the ring. J&J and Kane also triple teamed Orton. Rollins and Ambrose in together quite a bit early on with Seth on the attack. Kane came into the ring and choke slammed Ambrose as soon as Ambrose started to get the advantage. Reigns and Ambrose teamed up several times throughout the match, including Reigns saving Ambrose from Orton. At one point Rollins, Reigns, and Ambrose teamed up on Orton and nailed a triple power bomb reuniting the Shield. Ambrose and Reigns immediately turned on Rollins. Ambrose and Reigns power bombed Kane onto Rollins on a table at ringside…twice going through the table the second time around. Ambrose and Reigns finally went at it with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch for a two-count. The crowd really loved the play between Ambrose and Reigns. Rollins broke up a cover by Reigns after Reigns hit a spear on Ambrose. Orton hit RKOs on J&J Security, then dropped Rollins with a DDT. Orton hit an RKO on Kane. Rollins caught Orton on the rebound with a Pedigree for the pin. Hunter came out after the match to congratulate Rollins as the show went off of the air.

This was a great match but I think that a big opportunity was missed here. With the Elimination Chamber being a mere two weeks away, I thought the WWE could have used that timeline to hotshot Dean Ambrose into a top babyface role. With Daniel Bryan out, a spot is open and Ambrose is the perfect guy for that role. I think that the WWE could have given Ambrose an upset win, a quick two-week title reign, and the credibility he would need in that new spot. The company decided to play it safe instead keeping the belt on Rollins and missing yet another opportunity to elevate a new star.

John Cena defeated Rusev in one of the tamest I-Quit matches I think I have ever seen. If you expected violence like I did when this match was announced, well then you were mistaken. Rusev dominated the first half of the match with Cena dominating the second half of what was close to a 30-minute match. This was a weird finish as Rusev had Cena passed out in the Accolade. When Cena couldn’t answer the ref, Rusev released the hold assuming he won. The referee told Rusev that Cena had to say “I Quit” to lose. So Rusev tried to wake Cena up and charged him with ropes in his hands, Cena ducked, hit a drop-toe hold, and got the STF. Cena wrapped the ropes around Rusev’s eyes and Rusev started saying something in “Bulgarian” to the ref. Lana told the referee that Rusev quit, essentially quitting for him to give Cena the win.

The finish was about as predictable as you can get. Most expected Lana to quit for Rusev. My problem with this is that Rusev was in nothing career threatening here. To quit from an STF with ropes barely wrapped around his eyes made very little sense. This wasn’t a situation like Magnum-Tully where Magnum was about to take Tully’s eye out with the wood. It was just a big disappointment to me and the majority of folks I heard from on Twitter. Rusev threw Lana out of the dressing room in a segment following the match.

Where does this go from here? Well the Cena vs. Rusev feud is over. Rusev and Lana are heading for a split with Lana expected to get a major push as a babyface. Rusev is in trouble here as he has now three matches in a row to Cena and will continue without Lana. I just don’t understand why the WWE kept Rusev hot for a year only to have him lose three in a row to Cena. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

The biggest shocker at Payback was the announcement of the return of the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast. There have been numerous rumors about heat between the WWE and Austin ever since Chris Jericho started doing podcasts on the network. This will certainly put those rumors to rest. Austin will be returning on June 1 for a live podcast with Paul Heyman. Austin had Heyman on his podcast last year and it was fantastic. Unfortunately it seemed like they covered everything and I am not sure what there is left to talk about. Regardless, it will be great to see Austin back on the Network. In my opinion, Austin asks more provocative questions than Chris Jericho. It should also be noted that the Springboard Stunner disappeared from Cena’s repertoire at Payback.

Full WWE Payback 2015 results and winners…
Seth Rollins defeated Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena defeated Rusev (with Lana) in an “I Quit” match to retain the the WWE United States Championship
Neville defeated King Barrett via Count Out
Sheamus defeated Dolph Ziggler
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (c) (with Xavier Woods) defeated Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) in a 2-out-of-3 falls tag team match to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship
Bray Wyatt defeated Ryback
Naomi and Tamina defeated The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella)
The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) defeated The Mega Powers (Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow)
R-Truth defeated Stardust

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WWE Payback 2015 Predictions and Preview

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

WWE Payback is right around the corner and quite honestly there isn’t a whole lot to get excited about. The event is essentially a two-match show yet history confirms that events which typically have low expectations going in are generally the ones that surprise you.

It almost seems as if the whole idea for Payback may be unnecessary at this point in time. The main-event while intriguing on paper, would have greatly benefitted from a few more weeks of scripting. The addition of the Elimination Chamber event makes this event fairly non-essential. So what is there to get excited about?

I try to focus on the main matches when writing previews for special events. Generally those preview blogs consist of 4-5 matches. Unfortunately I struggled to find more than two matches to focus on at Payback. The tradeoff of putting four upper mid-card-upper card stars in the main-event is a diluted under card. Needless to say the headliners have a lot of pressure on their shoulders to blow this show out of the water.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns in a Fatal Four-Way for the WWE world championship

Here we go again. Another WWE championship situation where the fate of Seth Rollins rests in Kane’s hands. I feel like I have just seen this act? Oh wait, I did! This time the odds are stacked against the world champion even more than at Extreme Rules. Rollins is outnumbered as he faces Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Randy Orton in a Fatal Four-Way match for the WWE championship.

As predictable as this match is I think it will be highly entertaining. Rarely is there a dull moment in these kinds of multiple person matches. All of these guys have had great chemistry together in the past which leads me to think that this match should be no exception. The finish can go a couple of different ways yet I think it is safe to say that somehow or another Kane is involved.

As predictable as this is I do think there is a slight chance of a title change here. The quick turnaround in a few weeks at Elimination Chamber lends itself to a surprise title change. Putting Elimination Chamber on the calendar is a way to take advantage of the free WWE Network subscribers. It would not shock me at all to see a quickie title change here with the belt going back to Rollins at the end of the month. Quite honestly I am almost ready to bet that is the way they go here. But what do you do? You don’t want Reigns’ first title reign to be a fluke yet he’s the most obvious guy. I think Dean Ambrose actually walks away with the title on Sunday night only to flip it back to Rollins at the big Chamber event.

John Cena vs. Rusev in an I-Quit match for the U.S. title

I think it is fair to say that this will likely be the last match in this feud. While I am never a fan of four matches in a row, I really enjoyed this feud so I have little problem with a fourth match here. This is the match that I thought we were going to get at Extreme Rules. I have no reason to think that this will be anything less than an exciting match. I have already blogged at great length about what I think should happen so let’s talk about what I think will happen.

Lana is the key here. All signs point to Lana turning on Rusev and this would be the place to do it. The idea here is to make Lana a babyface so I think Lana winds up throwing in the towel for Rusev. I think Lana throws in a towel or waves a flag against Rusev’s wishes. Rusev is angry after the match, yells at Lana, and is met with a slap to the face either then or the following night on RAW. I can’t see Cena saying “I-Quit” but maybe, just maybe this Lana/Rusev story is a swerve. I don’t think so but again with another big show in a week, anything can happen.

Full WWE Payback 2015 card and matches…
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton in a Fatal 4-Way match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship; If Rollins fails to retain the Championship, Kane will be fired from being Director of Operations
John Cena vs. Rusev (with Lana) in an “I Quit” match for the WWE United States Championship
King Barrett vs. Neville
Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus
The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (c) (with Xavier Woods) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya)     2-out-of-3 falls tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Ryback vs. Bray Wyatt
Naomi and Tamina vs. The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella)
The Meta Powers (Curtis Axel and Macho Mandow) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor)

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Dean Ambrose Could be In Trouble

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

First they announced Rollins vs. Orton. No one seemed to care. Then they announced Rollins vs. Orton vs. Reigns. Still couldn’t care less. Then they announced Rollins vs. Orton vs. Reigns vs. Ambrose. Suddenly there is some excitement and talk. Ambrose is once again in the limelight. And this time, let’s hope the light won’t flicker.

There were a lot of chances with Ambrose; not to put him in the title picture, but to build him steadily. But WWE chose not to. Probably they were worried that it might dilute the fan base they were building for Reigns. But now that that base is not only diluted but has become as dull as ditchwater, WWE is reviewing the Ambrose option. That means two things can happen.

1) the WWE would try to shove Ambrose down our throats in a bid to move the needle and kill the goose that can yada yada or 2) feeling that ‘he’s not ready just yet’ they would try to humble him as only the HHH regime can do.

In either case, Ambrose is in trouble.

To me Ambrose is the last exciting thing left in WWE. (Lesnar is a part-timer and Ryback is about to be fed to Wyatt) There is a genuine edge about him. He can wrestle and he put together the best match of the night. But the trouble with all that is Ambrose is alone. There is no else in the current roster that can bring the same kind of excitement and color to wrestling. From faces to heels, they are all one-dimensional (including Bray Wyatt whose promos have gone from terrific to soporific. I make tea when he talks). Besides, there’s a little bit of character tweak Ambrose requires before he can chase the championship.

So here’s hoping that WWE would chose a different route for Ambrose; which is to deny the fans Ambrose – but in a calculated manner. Just like they denied the fans Daniel Bryan till putting Daniel Bryan became the only sensible decision, WWE should deny the fans Ambrose & Title till they can’t take it anymore.

One of the things with television ratings is that the reaction of the live audience can affect it. The television viewer looks to the live crowd for cues. It’s a subconscious thing. And right now the live crowd is just dead.

When I look at WWE, I see a pattern. It started with the wild days of Hulkamania. Then it went to the sedate though technically strong days of Bret Hart. Then it reversed to the explosive days of Steve Austin only to switch back to the sedate though merch-moving days of John Cena. See what I mean? It had always see-sawed. So the next crest has to be something that is anything but sedate. Might I suggest ‘Unhinged’?
Ambrose can lead that. Maybe he’s not a great talker. But then I guess it’s time WWE focused on some good over-the-top action and moments. Moments are what we are badly missing these days. And more than great matches, its moments that make a star.

Ambrose’s early run in with Rollins had produced quite a few moments. But they were short lived as WWE used Ambrose give Wyatt a leg-up. That really didn’t go anywhere and won’t. Wyatt is just not scary, threatening or credible enough. But you know who is? Reigns! The way ahead for Reigns is to get frustrated and turn heel. I would be surprised if that doesn’t happen soon. Of course that throws a spanner in the works called Rollins. But then, is Rollins working as a heel? Back in the 90s, he would have been vying for the Intercontinental Championship as a face at this stage of his career.

Anyway, back to Ambrose. The key of course is some smart booking. Allow Ambrose to slowly build his fan base. Allow Ambrose to develop his mic skills. Allow Ambrose to tone down a bit for fans to identify with so much so that by the time the title is around his waist, WWE would not be thinking of taking it off him.

So here’s hoping that at Payback, Ambrose would come close to winning the title, but just won’t. But at the same time here’s hoping that Ambrose won’t in the process take the fall (Orton can do that). Going forward, here’s hoping that Ambrose won’t win the MITB and that Wyatt does. That done, here’s hoping that fans would be kept thirsting for Ambrose till Wrestlemania 32. Then here’s hoping that Wrestlemania 32 would be between Ambrose & Lesnar. And finally, here’s hoping that Wrestlemania 32 will usher in a new era. WWE Unhinged!

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