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Damien Sandow’s fall, Reigns Rumbles and Other WWE Thoughts

July 11, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It is now official - sadly Damien Sandow has become the laughingstock of the WWE. He has become the jobber of all jobbers. He has become the classic impersonator and he is creating a following like Barry Horowitz, but he is certainly not in the same league as the legend. The case of Sandow is one of sadness as last year, he was challenging John Cena for the World Heavyweight Title a year ago and that his battle with Cody Rhodes was epic and short lived.

This is just proof of two things. The WWE is destroying Sandow’s career, and there are too many superstars on the roster so someone has to fall toward the bottom rung.

What you see is what you get with Sandow – when he is truly wrestling. A technical mat man who reminds me a little of Nick Bockwinkle and Lanny Poffo rolled into one. The WWE could not find a true place for the character and has disposed of him like he was trash. The tag team combination of Sandow and Cody Rhodes was a masterpiece, but the WWE changed courses, had Cody become a face and now, he is Stardust, teaming with his brother Goldust. Just proof that a little ingenuity goes a long way.

While it appears the company continues to give Dolph Ziggler opportunities to claim the mid card ladder, here is hoping the WWE does the same thing with this extreme talent.

Ruling Reigns
If the WWE does what I think it is going to do, I am not watching anymore. JUST KIDDING.

Was that a streak of evil we saw in the eye of Roman Reigns on Monday night? Could it be the WWE’s future meal ticket could be walking a thin white line? Does this mean John Cena’s title reign (no pun intended) will stop at 15?

Reigns was all the rage on Raw, and when he and Cena butted heads, there was a great amount of support for the former member of The Shield, but replay of the tape shows there may be more to it than just a snarl or two.

The idea of Reigns becoming a heel again is not as farfetched as thought. And Cena vs. Reigns is the perfect way of changing the guard like Rock/Hogan and Rock/Cena before them.

What worries me more than anything is the company is willing to potentially do this so quickly after Seth Rollins joined the Authority and Dean Ambrose is gaining his footing as a singles star.

And just a thought – does this mean at some point soon Bray Wyatt becomes a face star the flocks of fans will embrace on the other side?

Where’s Lesnar?
Everyone is waiting for the one man who is part of the one as in the one in 21-1 who defeated the one man who looked invincible. Not bad, if I say so myself.

If the WWE is going to add Brock Lesnar to the SummerSlam countdown, look for him at Battleground or the Monday after. I suspect he will be Plan B – the other plan in Triple H’s idea to rid the company of both John Cena and Daniel Bryan before him.

Let’s bet bank on this one. The only question is whether he turns on Paul Heyman, makes Heyman a part of this angle, fights with Cesaro along the way and after, or does he betray both in the Heyman party. My hope is he comes back and continues his alliance with Heyman, leaving Cesaro to turn face.

Hey we can all dream, can’t we?

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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How Long Can the WWE Hold Off on John Cena vs. Roman Reigns?

July 11, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

For those that are fans of Daniel Bryan, things must not be going well for you right now. Also, you’re probably not going to like the content of this article. I still believe that Bryan can still be a top guy in the company, so I’m not sweeping him under the table.

It was expected that 2014 would be the year that Bryan would get the big run and more or less solidify himself as the guy for the WWE. Bryan gets a nice long championship reign and a big time SummerSlam showdown with Brock Lesnar. With Bryan’s neck injury and his return uncertain, the company has gone back to the old standby of John Cena. I can’t blame them; go to the guy who you know can hold the ship steady until you make your next big move.

Except this reign is correlating with the rise of Roman Reigns, and the WWE is beginning to recognize that as seen by the ending to Raw.

To the WWE, they see Reigns as the next big star; the man that they believe can be the new franchise player. With Cena approaching forty and Bryan’s future uncertain it seems like it’s now or never for them to strap the rocket ship onto Reigns. Going by the ending of Raw on Monday, it seems pretty obvious that the BattleGround match will be built around Reigns and Cena. Orton and Kane are there to be punching bags; nobody believes that neither man will win. With the company building up plan Brock Lesnar, Cena is gonna win.

There, I saved you all the complaining that you can do on twitter and the message boards. I presume there will be the big tease of Reigns winning before Triple H screws Reigns and Kane takes the fall because he is Kane. Reigns goes onto Triple H, and presumably the big match at Night of Champions to get those renewals for the Network.

It seems like the script will write itself, the slow build towards the coronation of Reigns at WrestleMania 31. I presume we’ll even get a Cena and Reigns confrontation at the Rumble and despite what some people say that it’ll come down to the Shield, it’ll probably be those two in the end.

Reigns takes out Cena, points at the sign and Cena gives Reigns a nod of respect. With all that being said, the question is when the WWE pulls the trigger on the match, the leader of the previous era against the leader of the new era. A scenario by the cream of the internet wrestling writing crop suggested SummerSlam 2015, Cena wins the belt back (Hold on people who want to kill me and Chavo), becomes the victim of a cash-in by whomever has the briefcase down the road. The briefcase owner gets a run with the belt until Reigns takes the belt back. We then get the potential big rematch at WrestleMania 32 with Cena looking to break the record in-front of what should be the largest crowd in WWE history. As for what happens after that, I don’t know and I fear the potential fall out of Cena breaking the record. My bunker could not withstand that amount of anger and hatred from the internet.

So, I say screw SummerSlam and my apologies to Mr. SummerSlam himself Bret Hart (Future article reference). Go for WrestleMania 32 and go the Hogan and Warrior route. It was always expected that The Undertaker would retire at this card because it was in his backyard (Jerry World) in-front of the largest crowd in WWE history. Now, you need something to sell people on the match besides the name WrestleMania itself. By the time we reach WrestleMania 32, Cena will be one year away from the dreaded 4-0 and with the amount of injures accumulated, it might be time for him to step aside.

Vince has always talked about finding somebody for his Babe Ruth role and considering his original choices (Hogan, Savage, Hart) have never worked out, maybe Cena is the guy for that. Cena puts over Reigns clean in-front of that huge crowd, you have the Hogan/Warrior moment and he rides off into the sunset for now. Reigns steps up to the role of being the franchise player and hopefully we have a smooth transition into a new era for the company. If the company has built up new stars, this shouldn’t be a major issue with the transition. When he’s not in the Babe Ruth role, he can still be used in a PR role and he can keep on doing his Make-a-Wish work.

Now, let’s hope that it works out better than the Hogan/Warrior scenario.

I’m Robert Goeman playing Robert Goeman, enjoy your evening.

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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WWE’s Ten Best Matches Of The First Half Of 2014

July 10, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Through questionable booking, a stock market crash, fan discontent, and the unfortunate loss of JTG, WWE has provided audiences with, if nothing else, a lot of great in-ring action. Here are my personal picks for the ten best bouts so far in 2014.

10. 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.

9. 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 never really impressed me in NXT, 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.

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

Forget the aftermath of the night, 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.

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

Takeover’s 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 making 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.

6. 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 in August (hailed by many as the 2013′s best match), the story was 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 Neutralize. 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.

5. 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.

4. 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). A rematch at the June 1 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’s 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.

3. 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 everyone had to be encouraged by what they saw, especially when the crowd went crazy for the Cesaro Swing attempts.

2. 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 have been truly juiced-in main eventers yet, 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 while it was still going), and remains in the running four 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.

1. 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 though Hunter didn’t know how to elevate.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Roman Reigns: If Not Now, When?

June 29, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It’s hard to look at Roman Reigns and not only see a WWE World Title in his near future, but also see dollar signs when Vince McMahon hears cheers and the approval of the man-child taking apart opponents in the ring and as part of the current Money in the Bank Title Match. Reigns’ participation all but guarantees that the fans in attendance in Boston and the millions watching the pat-per-view will be pleased with the outcome, whether the former member of the Shield wins or loses.

In my opinion, I think what is best for business is a Reigns win and a summer filled of him being chased by Randy Orton or better yet, Brock Lesnar. Not that we have forgotten, but let us remember that the WWE has done a great job over decades of building up superstars and then killing momentum because creative or McMahon himself has decided to turn another direction.

Roddy Piper never won a WWF Title. Ahmed Johnson was as good as gold. Wade Barrett has not been a world champion yet. The Miz, Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler have all been toyed with.

And what happened to Cody Rhodes and Damien Sandow? I know this is something I have complained about in the past, but now would be a good time for the WWE to stick to its guns, and bring in some new talent to run with titles. And in the process, PLEASE DO NOT SCREW THIS THING UP WITH ROMAN REIGNS!

I can only think of a few wrestlers who were truly the best of their time and screwed a time or two (or three) before they captured gold – and no I am not talking about guys like Ricky Morton or Tommy Rich.

Lex Luger is a prime example of a wrestler who had all the talent in the world and waited his turn (until Ric Flair left WCW) to become a world champion. Luger is a three-time world champion, having held the WCW World Heavyweight Championship twice and the WWA World Heavyweight Championship once; and a record-tying five-time NWA/WCW United States Heavyweight Champion who owns the records for consecutive days and total days as champion. Although he never won a championship in the WWF, he headlined multiple pay-per-view events for the organization and was the 1994 Royal Rumble winner.

Those are the kinds of achievements Reigns can obtain, but he may have to wait his turn, which in this case, is not a good thing. The company must be careful how it decides to use Reigns, along with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. The union of the Hounds of Justice proved to be one of the best trios in wrestling history. How they are used now will show how far the WWE has really grown.

It will also be an indication of how the Wyatt Family may all end up if they should disintegrate.

Reigns and his domination of late is a signal the company is behind his progression. But are they ready to place the belt on him? The pecking order in the WWE is a bit disturbing right now and it may take a score card or road map to figure it all out. At least the Ladder Match is that it will be one of the better matches in pay-per-view lately.

If Reigns is not the winner, but destroys the competition Brock Lesnar better be the end result. If not, building up the giant Samoan means nothing without an end to this program.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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WWE Is Botching The Shield Post-Breakup

June 23, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I don’t think it’s too early to be concerned about the Shield. Thus far it would appear that the lessons the WWE creative team got right when the Shield were together have been forgotten now that they’re apart.

It’s easy to play fantasy booker without the responsibilities the WWE Creative Team carry but this one isn’t brain surgery. If there is one thing that this writing crew has gotten right in the last year and a half it is the booking of the Shield. Every mistake this team has made when introducing or elevating talent on the roster was avoided with Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose. That is why it is concerning to see that playbook thrown out now that the trio have been split apart.

Let’s go through the team individually and take a look at how their first couple of weeks apart as singles stars is going.

Seth Rollins - Rollins is obviously positioned better than anyone else at this point. He is associated with the top act in the company and appears to be the darling of Triple H on and off camera. Rollins is playing his role to perfection and in the ring, he has been fantastic. Yet a closer look at the booking reveals a few warning signs that need to be addressed quickly.

The biggest WTF moment for me came last week when Rollins gloriously told the fans that he was signed as the first guy in the “B” Money in the Bank match. I watched the promo on Superstars and my first thought was, “Why is this guy so happy? Shouldn’t he be angry?” Rollins’ position was clear and that is mid-high mid-card star and nothing more.

Think about this for a second. Shouldn’t the guy who turned his back on his brothers for the Authority be rewarded with a spot in the WWE world title MITB match? The only reason not to put him there would be personal business such as going to war with Ambrose or Reigns. Yet Rollins is rewarded with a spot in a MITB match to earn a title shot, not the title. Rollins should be angry, fired up, feel betrayed, yet he gloats about that. I look at a guy bragging about being outside of the main-event and I don’t see a guy positioned in a good spot period.

Roman Reigns - Clearly nothing is wrong with the booking of Reigns now that he is in the WWE world title match right? Wrong. The hotshot move of Reigns to the MITB title match thanks to Vickie essentially being drugged is too much too soon. Reigns should simmer, have a slow burn to the big dance, giving the fans a chance to salivate over it. Instead he is shot right to the big dance without having more than a handful of singles matches on television. This one can only go one way and that is wrong.

What if Reigns wins the title, will I think differently? No. Reigns is not ready. Could they protect him? Sure, but when is the last time that anyone got over who was obviously protected? Bill Goldberg and that was over ten years and two decades ago. Losing is probably better for him but what does that say about him in the eyes of the fans? Keep in mind that this also comes at a time when fans still want to see the Yes Movement continue. I am sure those fans who booed Batista will surely be understanding of Reigns taking away their hero’s spot right? Exactly.

Dean Ambrose - Than there is Dean Ambrose, the Shield member once predicted to go furthest after a breakup. Sadly the opposite is happening and Ambrose is going south faster than anyone could have imagined and I don’t get it. This guy has it all. He is arguably the best promo guy in the company (his promo last week on RAW was one of the best all year), he is fantastic in the ring, and arguably has more charisma than any of the other Shield members yet his position is clear. He is a low-mid card wrestler. He’s wrestling in jeans and a t-shirt and getting squashed by Kane (multiple times). This in addition to recently losing the U.S. title in a battle royal. I am almost inclined to think that he has some kind of heat with the office because there is no other explanation for the way he’s been booked recently. He is obviously the odd man out and is about six-months away from doing comedy angles with Santino and Fandango.

Maybe I am jumping the gun here because after all, it has only been a few weeks that the Shield have been apart. I am the first one to preach patience when it comes to letting an angle play out so I am a bit of a hypocrite here. Yet my gut tells me that something isn’t right and there isn’t a lot of time left to change it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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Seth Rollins Leaves The Shield: What’s Next for Reigns and Ambrose?

June 09, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

While the wrestling world wants to see what the next move for the Authority and Seth Rollins, did the WWE forget about the other two members of The Shield – Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose? What are the plans for the two superstars and will they still remain joined at the hip or part ways and seek singles success. As I watch the split – which made the WWE look like the WWF of old – I am reminded of what happened after the Four Horsemen finally disbanded and how the incarnations that were devised by WCW were never like the original or the four comprised of Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham. Wresting was never the same once that era was perforated.

In September of 1988, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard left, to join the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). This forced them to drop the Tag Team Titles, at the very last minute, to the Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton). Anderson and Blanchard were known as “The Brain Busters”, in the WWF, and were managed by Bobby “the Brain” Heenan. The fans were disgruntled and wanted the Horseman to remain a viable, important part of the NWA.

Flair, Windham, and Dillon continued to refer to themselves as “the Horsemen” and the NWA even flirted with the idea of bringing in new members. Butch Reed was a singles star, managed by Dillon. The trio even flirted with the idea of bringing in Barry’s brother Kendall. At one point Dillon left the group to take a front office job with the WWF, and they dropped the Horsemen name, hiring Hiro Matsuda as their new manager and changing their name to Yamazaki Corporation.

It never worked and although it appeared that a regrouping of the trademark stable stirred the drink of fans wanting a new and improved foursome, it was never the same.

Could the same thing be destined for Reigns and Ambrose? Could they add another member and be the same kind of reckless outlaws fan love to watch? Windham was the perfect addition because of his history with the original group. Windham joined Flair because he could not beat him (rather the NWA and WCW did not want to put the strap on him). And with his outlaw looks, talent and his wrestling bloodlines, he was the perfect foil to Dusty Rhodes, Sting, Luger and Nikita Koloff. It was without a doubt the best heel turn in wrestling history. When the writers brought Curt Hennig in to replace Arn Anderson, it looked to be as solid a move as Windham years before – but in reality it was such a bust.

The Horsemen concept helped define the NWA in the mid to late 1980s. The departure of Anderson and Blanchard was huge at the time, Dillon and Windham’s departure made it worse, and despite numerous revivals over the coming decade, things were never quite the same.

If Rollins can achieve super stardom and win the WWE World Title within the year and leap over Randy Orton, this move could be the crowning achievement of the company this year, but there must be plans for the other two – who carried the group before the sudden advancement of Rollins.
And for that matter, will there be another addition to Evolution or the Authority to give fans more to complain or cheer about?

The most logical choice for Evolution is still Cody Rhodes, but do the writers and creative team have the stones to create a situation where the youngest of the Rhodes clan not only turns on his brother, Goldust, but also walks away, arm-in-arm with Triple H?

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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The Shield’s 10 Best Six-Man WWE Tag Team Matches

May 29, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns have had as impressive an 18 months in WWE as any three men, let alone most singular performers. Individually, they’ve stood above the fray as characters worth getting behind, unpoisoned by the company’s wont to bungle a good thing. As a group, they’re the company’s most prolific collective since DX’s first incarnation in 1998.

Their six-man tags have buoyed the most lacking of Raws and, even as heels, they’ve captured the crowd’s attention by simply standing out in a sea of half-baked commonality. Listed here are The Shield’s ten best matches in which all three have taken part.

10. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (April 8, 2014, Main Event)

Three disappointments were spawned from a great WrestleMania weekend, of varying emotional sting, obviously: The Undertaker’s streak ending, the death of The Ultimate Warrior (which still doesn’t feel real), and WWE Network not reaching the estimated 1,000,000 subscriber mark, falling about 330,000 purchases short of the stated goal.

With Main Event airing live on Tuesdays via the Network, WWE seemingly responded to that last bit of bad news by instituting a second rematch of the company’s two most reliable supergroups, trying to entice more subscribers. This time, The Shield actually went over in a 20-minute brawl, with Ambrose spiking Erick Rowan with Dirty Deeds.

9. The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Randy Orton (June 3, 2013, Monday Night Raw)

There are far worse ways to eat up the minutes on the overblown three hour Raws than to give The Shield twenty minutes and a few capable opponents. Orton was still a face at this stage, as he and Team Hell No were just another combination of guys that failed to beat The Shield in the past, and were partnered up here for another kick at the heavy can.

Bryan tends to shine in these matches (which should surprise no one), either in the face-in-peril trope, or getting the hot tag and kicking everyone into smithereens. Bryan was the latter here, busting up Ambrose with his arsenal. A face miscommunication between Bryan and Orton undid the faces’ efforts, but keeping the Shield strong has served WWE well.

8. The Shield vs. Damien Sandow, Ryback, Titus O’Neil, Alberto Del Rio, and Bad News Barrett (April 22, 2014, Smackdown)

Technically not a six-man tag, but the Shield were still a three-man unit here, so it’ll be counted. The story was that Evolution had begun running The Shield through eleven-on-three wringers to soften them up and break their spirit before the match at Extreme Rules. Since the Shield has perfected their unbreakable hero act, this Smackdown told a great story.

An eleven-on-three match was booked for Dumping Ground Smackdown, but The Shield mercilessly took out the likes of Jack Swagger, 3MB, Brad Maddox, and Curtis Axel beforehand, whittling down the odds. Sandow took the fall via a Reigns spear. Amazing how effective faces can be when they’re not smiling and making corny wisecracks for eight-year-olds.

7. The Shield vs. John Cena, Sheamus, and Ryback (February 17, 2013, Elimination Chamber)

Only the group’s second televised match for the company after three months of vague beck-and-calls on CM Punk’s behalf. The group had been facing combos of the aforementioned opponents and Randy Orton on the house show loop. Conventional wisdom had The Shield going down here, as Cena had a date with Rock in grand fashion at WrestleMania.

It was a bit of a shock that The Shield ended up winning, as their uber-group push wasn’t firmly established, win or no win at TLC. The match was encouraging, both for the amount of offense The Shield got, and the way in which it elevated the game of their opponents, all of whom are known for eliciting mixed reactions. More of an ‘arrival’ moment than TLC.

6. The Shield vs. Daniel Bryan, Kane, and Kofi Kingston (May 20, 2013, Monday Night Raw)

Any combination of Bryan and the Shield is worth watching, and you can pretty much go plug-n-play with the last two slots. In this case, the opposition consisted of the three men who lost the United States and Tag Team Championships to Ambrose, Reigns, and Rollins one night earlier at Extreme Rules, and WWE just loves their mix-and-match rehashings.

Minor gripes about WWE’s molasses-speed storytelling aside, this was an excellent 25-minute match, so at least it’s a quality product eating up the three hours of infomercial time. Such was the length that Kingston and Bryan each had runs as face-in-peril. It was the larger Kane who would end up taking the fall over his considerably smaller cohorts, via a Reigns spear.

5. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (March 3, 2014, Monday Night Raw)

Only eight days removed from their unforgettable classic at Elimination Chamber (stay tuned), a rematch between the warring factions was instituted for ‘that’ Chicago Raw. Fans were threatening a protest over WWE’s recent booking, and WWE giving them an encore of their favorite match from the last PPV was a pretty good counterstrike by the office.

Though not quite up to the level of the Chamber match, it was still a high-impact bout of chaos, with an unexpected twist: Rollins would walk out on Ambrose and Reigns. This was done to cast light on the alpha-hubris that Reigns and Ambrose directed toward each other, threatening the team. The Wyatts won, but the Shield would benefit long term.

4. The Shield vs. The Undertaker, Kane, and Daniel Bryan (April 22, 2013, Monday Night Raw)

Pleasant surprise to see The Dead Man actually working a weekly TV show, let alone any PPV not called WrestleMania. In fact, it was his first televised non-WrestleMania match in two and a half years, and first Raw match in three years. The Shield at this point were undefeated, and it was explicitly said by announcers that no trio of all-stars could fell the well-oiled combo.

Well, WWE wouldn’t dust Undertaker off to have him lose on free TV, would they? They certainly did, having Ambrose pin Bryan after a missed diving headbutt, but not before giving Reigns a major moment of glory by having him spear Undertaker into oblivion. WWE’s general lack of character commitment was offset by now-four months of Shield dominance.

3. The Shield vs. Evolution (May 4, 2014, Extreme Rules)

Post-WrestleMania crowds make everything better. For several years running, the pilgrimaging fans make their voices heard on Monday Night Raw, serving as the actual pulse of viewer sensibilities, while also throwing in some irreverence (Fandango’ing, for instance). It was in New Orleans after WrestleMania XXX that fans approved of further Shield elevation.

Evolution reformed earlier in the night, after a brief but tense meeting in which Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista re-realized their collective strength. As the three set out to screw Daniel Bryan out of his newly won championship, The Shield (after finding out that Triple H put a hit on them via a blathering Kane) were the counterbalance for the company hero.

After Reigns speared Triple H, the match for Extreme Rules was inevitable, and the dynamic was perfect. Evolution rarely went down in their heyday, but the surging Shield went over cleanly on their first try, complete with a Rollins balcony dive, and Reigns putting away the maligned Batista with a Superman punch and spear, with all six stealing the show.

2. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (February 23, 2014, Elimination Chamber)

Say what you will about WWE, but their best work these days is being done with powerful trios. Between these two groups, the Evolution revitalization, and even the partnering of John Cena with the Uso Twins, the stable warfare that was enjoyable in the Attitude Era has experienced a revival. Still no cure for the Hell that spirals around 3MB, though.

After the Wyatts were set up to cost The Shield a chance to compete inside the actual Chamber (per Bray’s hellbent overtures toward Cena), this match was signed for WWE’s final traditional PPV, and the interest was immediate. The Shield vs. The Wyatts? That’s like the 1996 nWo vs. the 1988 Horsemen by modern standards, with all six men in their prime.

The fact that the fans were chanting “THIS IS AWESOME” during the prematch Mexican standoff, with a single punch yet to be thrown, proves how good the booking of the six has been. The Wyatts won after Ambrose exited on a vague miscue, which was meant to be the start of a Shield split. That was nixed when WWE realized there was much left for the group.

1. The Shield vs. Ryback, Daniel Bryan, and Kane (December 16, 2012, TLC)

The long-standing RSPW Awards provided a miniature surprise when this match was named 2012′s Match of the Year, over heavy favorites such as John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar, CM Punk vs. Daniel Bryan, and the clinically-overrated Undertaker vs. Triple H. That’s not to say the match was undeserving, but the fact is it was merely a replacement match at 2012′s final PPV.

Originally to be Ryback vs. CM Punk for the WWE Title, plans changed as Punk sat with a knee injury. For the group on their 29th day in WWE, Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns floored home viewers and soaked in the adulation of notoriously-loud New York fans, as they warred in a TLC rules match, with a seldom-used pinfall and submission modifier.

It speaks to the faith that WWE held in three relatively new guys (no matter what experience Ambrose and Rollins had setting up their own matches in the indies) to go for well over 20 minutes in a marquee spot, and give them an early boost with the clean win, with Reigns pinning Bryan after a double powerbomb through a table. Greatest in-ring debut ever.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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