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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue the Happy Days music.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE Battleground 2015: Thoughts After The Dust Cleared

July 21, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Regardless of the fact he lost his last two matches to John Cena, Kevin Owens will never be as hot as he is right now in the WWE.

That might be a curse that haunts the former NXT champion. After going the distance with the United States Champion, where Owens proved to be every bit Cena’s equal, if not his superior, losing the final match – and a chance at a title – in the third and decisive match – might be Owens’ undoing. The WWE does not have a solid track record of taking talent that is ultra-popular and cashing in on a golden opportunity. At least where Cena is concerned. Could this be a change in the game plan for the company? Will writers and management take what they have in Owens, who could be the next great heel, and book him in another program with a solid veteran?

If the company can get away from the idea that Randy Orton and Sheamus presents a great angle for the fans, I think the Apex Predator and Owens would be a great feud – one where the 12-time world champion could help Owens get over again as the future of the company.

How the WWE handles the aftermath of Owens and Cena was not the only thing that caught my eye from the Battleground pay-per-view. Here are a few more thoughts.

A NEW DIVA ON THE HORIZON

Maybe the best part of Monday night, in my opinion, was the true birth of a new Divas division in the WWE.

Thank you, Charlotte.

Finally, we will all want to watch segments with women in the ring rather than take a bathroom break or raid the refrigerator. The fact the WWE is ushering in another Flair era makes this transition all the more exciting.

When I was younger, I always thought it would be Reid Flair who would eventually step in and try to challenge his father, Ric, for the family name. No one is ever going to replace the 16-time world champion, but now a new generation can get behind the beautiful and athletically gifted diva. While there will always be comparisons, the fact Charlotte does not have to live under the cloud of her father’s success will allow her to forge her own path in the company. And with the sudden push by Stephanie McMahon, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks will help create the same kind of excitement that Lita, Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson added to the Attitude Era.

The fact we saw nine female wrestlers with the chutzpah to make a statement in a male-dominant promotion over the better part of the last decade has me a bit excited.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE OVERFLOW

Maybe the two biggest losers from last night were two wrestlers who didn’t even get in the ring last night.

What is the WWE going to do with Dean Ambrose and what will happen to Cesaro now that he did not get a United States Title opportunity?

Since he lost to Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank, Ambrose has been toiling in obscurity and the WWE is allowing him to do it. Ambrose is too talented to not be in a major program – something the company has been blind to see. Here’s hoping in the next five weeks something materializes that will kick the Lunatic Fringe up the WWE ladder.

Cesaro looked as good as he has looked since arriving in the WWE in recent weeks. His program and matches with John Cena has shown off just how good a performer he is. And I would dare to say he is pound-for-pound the toughest SOB on the roster.

Could a Cesaro/Cena program work for SummerSlam? I sure hope it would. Cesaro is a main event talent who is caught in a numbers game right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE Battleground 2015 Predictions and Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE: Half Way to Home

July 06, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I watched the RAW segment between John Cena and Cesaro from Monday night and got the impression the WWE is really on to something. Kevin Owens has become the centerpiece of everything that is good about this promotion – of late.

I also got the impression that the match between Cesaro and Cena was again a great spot and the company has worked hard to make sure not only is Cena showcased as the best champion the WWE can offer right now – which is the best thing for the United States Championship.

We are at the half way point of the year and so far, 2015 has far exceeded my expectation and the effort put out by management in 2014. You can take that as both good and bad as not everything has fallen into place like we all had hoped.

Here are a few thoughts on what I have witnessed so far.

DANIEL BRYAN’S INJURY IS STILL DEVASTATING

The news about the leader of the “Yes!” movement still continues to have a ripple effect on the roster. Whether or not Bryan, who was and still is the greatest underdog story to come out of the business in decades, can make it back to the ring and wrestle is now irrelevant. Fans are happy seeing the bearded wonder in any capacity and the ability to yell, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” motivates the WWE to have hope that one day Bryan will return.

THE YEAR OF SETH ROLLINS

Honestly, when Rollins dismantled The Shield and joined the Authority, I thought it was one of the worst moves the company could have made.

I was wrong. Rollins is everything CM Punk and Edge are rolled into one character and is the best villain the company has had since the Year of Punk. Frankly, the WWE would be doing itself a huge disservice if it decides to take the WWE World Title away from him and hand it to Brock Lesnar before SummerSlam.

Rollins is gritty, talks well in promos and can give you a five-star match any night of the week. He is charismatic and brash and spot on his delivery.

His matches with John Cena and Brock Lesnar, then stealing the title at WrestleMania, followed by his returning feud with Dean Ambrose have been nothing short of brilliant.

Rollins is an A-list player who will remain in the main event for as long as he can continue to rile the fans. That shouldn’t be hard to do since the WWE seems hell bent on making Brock Lesnar the newest babyface, which should go over like a lead balloon once the fans see how poor a decision it is.

THE RETURN OF THE TAG TEAM DIVISION

All hail The New Day and the Usos and Cesaro and Tyson Kidd. The tag team division is alive and well. Regardless of the latest rash of injuries fans have finally gotten a taste of what a real tag team division looks like.

This isn’t the late 1980s, but Cesaro and Kidd plus the reformation of the Prime Time Players has made us enjoy watching the division again.

WE HAVE LOST OUR BEST FRIENDS

The news of losing some of wrestling’s royalty has been heavy on my mind of late. With the passing of Dusty Rhodes, we all lost the one wrestler above everyone else we can identify with. The loss of Vern Gagne, Tommy Rogers and last week, Buddy Landel reminded us of how our heroes of the past are growing older and their time here is precious.

Wrestling isn’t what it used to be. The birth of the modern era in the 1980s and the current stage that performers act out on are totally different. But the one common thread is the fans continue to come out in droves to see the newest stunts and the newest heroes like they are rock stars.

None of the greats we have lost can be replaced by today’s wrestlers, but they can carry on the idea that while it is fake, it is still the best soap opera on television today.

THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT

Like I referred to in the beginning, Kevin Owens and Cesaro are two wrestlers we should all keep an eye on. Owens is getting a huge push and rightfully so. Cesaro deserves a push and may not get one. The WWE and business itself works in mysterious ways.

The WWE was a wasteland which depended on veterans to help keep the company afloat as early as last year. Now, that is not the case. Rollins, Owens, Cesaro, Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Bray Wyatt are on the cusp of something great. Add Neville and Sami Zayn to that mix. They may not be the characters of the past but they are exciting and give the fans a new avenue to travel when looking for entertainment.

I used to worry wrestling would fade away. Now, I cannot wait to see what the next six months and 2016 has to offer all of us as fans.

It should be exciting.

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WWE Fans Speak With Low RAW Ratings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE 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.

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Putting The WWE Title on Dean Ambrose Is The Wrong Thing to Do

June 13, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE and its fans will again get a chance to see another hardcore title match on Sunday night when Dean Ambrose takes Seth Rollins’ WWE World Title into Money in the Bank and attempts to keep the strap in a ladder match.

The Lunatic Fringe is about the closest thing to controlled instability the company has had in some time – maybe as far back as Mindkind.

There hasn’t been a performer in the WWE who has had as much momentum as Ambrose since the company decided to fire up the rivalry between the former Shield members again. This was an obvious attempt to excite the fans until Brock Lesnar returns from his “indefinite suspension” following WrestleMania.

Personally, I would rather see Ambrose chase Rollins all over the country, seeking the belt and waging war with his former BFF. It is also my opinion that if the company decides to give the title to Ambrose outright, it had better have a plan that keeps Ambrose in character without sacrificing his popularity, which has reached its zenith so far. Taking any momentum away from Ambrose and from the angle he and Rollins are working right now could be more damaging in the long run.

In this case, the idea I presented to you earlier in the week about Ambrose winning the title match, then dropping the WWE World Title to Roman Reigns – should he win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match – would truly be best for business.

This may sound odd, but not every WWE superstar is meant to wear gold. It does not mean they are not worthy. It just means the character they portray is not conducive to playing the role of leader of the band. They are much more important to the business as a challenger rather than the lead dog.

Over the years, this has been a common theme among wrestling promotions. The top “face” would challenge Ric Flair or Dory Funk, Jr or even Harley Race when they were the top draw in the NWA. They would try as hard as they could, only to come up short.

Barry Windham chased Flair before he joined the Four Horsemen. David Von Erich chased Race early in his career and then set his sights on Flair before he passed away. The Funks would challenge the top contender in Tennessee or Missouri or even Florida before walking away with the title in tow.

The point is, Ambrose like stars of the past, do not have to wear the top belt in the promotion to be a true champion. And in this case, giving such a distinction to Ambrose might hurt – in fact it would hurt -his status.

It was explained to me years ago that the wrestler who chases the belt is often viewed on a higher level than the one holding the title. It is much harder to keep the belt than it is to attain it, but once a wrestler has the belt (after working to grab it), part of the momentum is lost.

John Cena’s act has been the same for over a decade, but he is at his best when he chasing rather than being chased. The same could be said for Randy Savage years ago and Sting and to some degree, Hulk Hogan. Fans are more supportive of the chase. They want the wrestler to gain glory and once the glory happens, they tend to back off a bit with their support. Ambrose cannot afford this kind of setback. He is white-hot right now.

Should the WWE give Ambrose a chance to keep the World Title for real as the company champion, let’s all pray it is short lived. Ambrose is the best thing going right now and to slow him down only hurts him. It also shows the company and its team of writers have no idea what they want to do next as we all march toward SummerSlam. Hopefully MITB will satisfy our guilty pleasure of seeing Rollins and Ambrose beat the hell out of each other. In this case, we should all hope our hero loses in the end. Winning only means he will slide down a rung or two on the WWE ladder – which in this case hurts him more than helps him.

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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.

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