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WWE Make Changes To Hell In A Cell 2014 Card

October 14, 2014 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

With two weeks to go the WWE are reshuffling the Hell in a Cell card deck. The planned card has been moved around allowing for more promotion and the usual indecisive booking we are used to seeing from WWE creative.

As evident on Monday Night RAW this week, plans have changed for the upcoming WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view. A scheduled card featuring John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose in a NHB contract on a pole match was switched around with WWE fans getting 1/3 of the main-event early, allowing the WWE to focus on promoting scheduled matches fans can count on seeing.

Dean Ambrose defeated John Cena on Monday night to win the match and advance to a Hell in a Cell main-event against rival Seth Rollins. The match was originally scheduled to take place at H.I.A.C. with the winner meeting Rollins later that night while the loser would meet Randy Orton in a separate Hell in a Cell match. Now that those matches are locked in, the WWE can focus promotional efforts in those directions.

Dave Meltzer explained the recent changes on his F4WOnline.com podcast. Meltzer reported that giving the Cena vs. Ambrose match away early was a last-minute decision. Meltzer reported that the change was made to allow the WWE to promote scheduled matches as opposed to promoting a card with no locked in main-event. Meltzer also reports that the pole stipulation added to Cena vs. Ambrose was made to avoid either guy taking an actual pin.

Meltzer also speculated that TLC could see a Four-Way main-event with Seth Rollins vs. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Randy Orton with the winner getting a WWE world championship match against Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble. Plans are currently in place to book Cena vs. Lesnar at the Rumble. My hunch and this is purely a guess is that with Ambrose’s momentum, plans could change with Ambrose going into the Rumble to challenge Lesnar and Cena wrestling Rollins at the Rumble in a singles match.

I thought from the beginning that they should have went with a Rollins vs. Ambrose Hell in a Cell headliner. I think it gives both guys a boost with the perception that they are headliners and it’s a match that could deliver far better than any of the other options. It will be a real test in my opinion of how over both of these guys truly are. It’s hard to judge by social media reaction as that is where their fan base is. A strong number could go a long way in determining how Ambrose and Rollins are booked going into 2015 and beyond.

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Rumored WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Card and Matches

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

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

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

Come again?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE Night of Champions 2014 Results and Recap

September 21, 2014 By: Category: slider, WWE | Pro Wrestling

WWE Night of Champions 2014 delivered one of the most entertaining special events in recent months. An unpredictable rematch between John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar for the WWE world championship and the return of Dean Ambrose highlighted a card which featured very good-great matches from start to finish.

This main-event was a real tough one to predict. The rumor mill swung back and forth almost daily on who was going over. The way the angle played out on the go-home RAW led me to believe that Lesnar was going over. Regardless, it was one of the most unpredictable championship matches the WWE has booked in quite some time.

Brock Lesnar retained the WWE world title via disqualification over John Cena. The match had a real big-time feel to it. Cena took Lesnar off of his feet early with a clothesline and hit the A.A. within the first two minutes of the match. Lesnar quickly recovered. Lesnar hit his first German suplex shortly thereafter. Lesnar went for the kimura several times, all were broken by Cena grabbing the ropes. The announcers pointed out that Lesnar didn’t even attempt a submission at SummerSlam and engineered a new strategy for this match. Cena would hit a flurry of punches from time to time only to be thwarted by Lesnar. Cena hit another A.A. and Lesnar kicked out but followed it up with an STF. The fans were into this match from start to finish. Lesnar reversed the STF into a kimura. Cena again hit another A.A. into an STF. Seth Rollins wound up running in and breaking up the STF. Rollins teased that he was going to cash in his Money in the Bank. He hit a Curb Stomp on Lesnar and before the bell rang he was attacked by Cena. The announcers teased that Lesnar was going to tap to the STF and that Rollins would have beaten Lesnar.

This match was a hundred times more entertaining than their previous bout. Lesnar still dominated at times but Cena fought back and made it more competitive. I really don’t get the finish. I am not sure what the point of having Rollins run in and attack Cena. Logically, shouldn’t he have waited for Cena to win and then attack him? I am not sure where this goes next. Does Cena, Rollins, and Lesnar have a Triple Threat Match at Hell in a Cell? If Cena is paired with Rollins than who gets Lesnar? How does Lesnar react to Rollins? Is this the start of a babyface turn for Brock? RAW will certainly be interesting Monday.

The biggest piece of news going into the show was the absence of Roman Reigns. Reigns underwent emergency surgery over the weekend to treat an incarcerated hernia. The operation could keep Reigns out of action for up to three months, although early prognostications are in the 4-6 week range. Regardless, Reigns was not available for Night of Champions.

Dean Ambrose returned to take on Seth Rollins. With Reigns on the D.L., Seth Rollins issued an open challenge to anyone in the locker room. Dean Ambrose showed up in a taxicab. Ambrose and Rollins brawled. Ambrose chased Rollins into the crowd. Triple H and Stephanie sent security out to break up the match. Ambrose couldn’t be stopped and chased Rollins to the other side of the arena. Ambrose grabbed a chair and went after Rollins with it. Security tackled him and restrained him at that point on Triple H’s orders.

This was fantastic! The scene of Ambrose being hauled away in restraints reminded me of Stone Cold Steve Austin. I think there is a huge opportunity here for Ambrose to step into Reigns spot. As I pointed out in an earlier blog, I’d be real scared if I were Reigns. There is a real good shot that his spot is in jeopardy now that Ambrose is back.

I don’t think I have written about a U.S. title match in years but I had to comment on Sheamus vs. Cesaro. This may have been the best United States title match I have seen in years on a WWE PPV, maybe the best of the decade. These guys had great chemistry and wrestled a match that resembled something closer to a WWE championship main-event. Sheamus won with the Brogue Kick. I know some people will criticize Cesaro losing but the announcers did a real nice job of putting over how hard he fought Sheamus as opposed to goofing on him. You can say what you want about this title but Sheamus has done a tremendous job of adding some credibility to this belt. This could be the result of the WWE losing Reigns and needing to bump someone up to his babyface spot. Regardless, a few more matches like this and you will have a true #2 championship in the WWE as opposed to a low-mid carder belt.

Full WWE Night of Champions 2014 results and winners…
Brock Lesnar retained the WWE title defeating John Cena via DQ
AJ Lee defeated Paige and Nikki Bella to regain the WWE Divas title
Randy Orton defeated Chris Jericho
Rusev defeated Mark Henry via submission
Seth Rollins defeated Roman Reigns by forfeit (see above)
The Miz defeated Dolph Ziggler to regain the WWE intercontinental championship
Sheamus defeated Cesaro to retain the U.S. title
Stardust defeated the Usos to win the WWE tag team championship

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Lessons Learned

August 19, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Going into WWE SummerSlam, there were three things that I felt had to happen. The first thing was Dolph Ziggler winning the Intercontinental Championship. The second was Chris Jericho had to put Bray Wyatt over. Finally, Brock Lesnar had to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. From top to bottom, I thought SummerSlam was an entertaining show. Here are my lessons learned from Sunday.

The Conqueror is on top
I’ve been saying it since the day he defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania and it finally happened. Brock Lesnar absolutely destroyed John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and that’s without question the right decision. Really, it was the only decision.

Just because Lesnar is the champion now, don’t expect to see him on TV more. I expect him to continue to work his normal schedule and that’s fine with me. Having the title away from TV makes the title more prestigious. There is no reason the Champion needs to be on TV every week. Because of this, fans will be more excited when he is on TV and you know something important is going on if the Championship is scheduled for RAW.

Besides making the title important again, it will allow the WWE to focus on building up some of the great young talent they have. More attention can be put on Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Cesaro and so on. We will get a great opportunity to see if these young guys will be able to carry the company into the future. With the Champion away, they have no choice but to step up or step aside.

So now that Brock is the champion, what can we expect? Besides Paul Heyman ranting and raving about how his client conquered John Cena at SummerSlam, I don’t expect too much from Lesnar. The number of appearances will not increase. I expect him to compete at Night of Champions, Survivor Series, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. If everything plays out the way they want, Brock will lose the title to Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. For the record, I fully expect that to happen.

On a side note, I can’t believe the WWE would allow Cena to be destroyed like. I really hope they let that soak in and keep Cena off TV for a couple weeks. Just enough time for him to heal up and set up the rematch at Night of Champions.

The Showoff is Back
When the Miz returned with the new gimmick I expected it to be great. The first couple times he was on TV, it seemed as thought he regained some of what he had when he was the WWE Champion. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long to see that it wasn’t working. When he won the IC title at the Battleground my expectations grew. Fast forward just 28 days and we have a new Intercontinental Champion. Obviously, I wasn’t the only one who felt his new gimmick wasn’t working so they put the title on the right guy.

There was a period there where I did not think we would ever see Dolph Ziggler in a relevant match again. Out of nowhere, things started to change and Ziggler started winning matches again and being featured on TV. He should have won the title at Battleground but Miz performed like the true heel that he is and stole the victory from Dolph. It was pretty clear at that moment they would be in a feud together for that title and they fixed their mistake and put it on the Showoff.

The title doesn’t make the wrestler the wrestler makes the title. I’m confident, especially with the big title with Brock, Ziggler will be able to make the IC title relevant again. You can’t deny his ability. Outside of the size, he really does have it all. He is great in the ring, awesome on the mic and the fans love him. It seems his career is back on track and a program with Bad News Barrett, when he returns, will be great entertainment.

The Shield = The Future
All three former members of the Shield are in spectacular position to succeed. Who would have thought that the WWE would have three potential main eventers on their hands when they broke up the Shield?

The long awaited match between Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins delivered. Not only did it deliver, they had the match of the night. It’s obvious that Rollins is booked for success. He’s holding the Money in the Bank briefcase. As long as he doesn’t pull a Damien Sandown, he will be holding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He’s got the look, the moves and the voice to be the top heel in the company. I expect Rollins will hold onto that briefcase for a long time and cash in at the latest possible moment. Trust me, he will not be cashing in on Brock Lesnar. How great would it be if Rollins cashed in on Roman Reigns? That is a big time program I hope we see in 2015.

Dean Ambrose is beyond anything I was expecting when he became a singles wrestler. He’s the most entertaining of all the former Shield members and becoming one of my favorites to watch. His demented and crazy personality is awesome and he backs it all up in the ring. I truly hope the WWE sees what they have in him and continues to build him up. No doubt, he has what it takes to be a top face or heel in the WWE.

Sunday night was a huge opportunity for Roman Reigns. Of the three, he’s clearly way behind when it comes to in-ring performance and promo skills. The thing he has over Rollins and Ambrose is the look and size. Unless you’re blind, you see that the WWE is building Reigns to be the next top baby face in the company. Early on I thought it was going to be an easy transition. As time went on and he kept the Shield attire and entrance music, I was losing faith. Then, the more we saw him compete on his own, I wasn’t sure he has the in-ring skill set to make it. He didn’t have the best match of the night with Orton but he cleared a huge hurdle in my opinion. For now, I’m slowly climbing back on the Reigns hype train. Lucky for him, he has plenty time to grow and improve.

Other Notes:
Sunday night was a must win for Bray Wyatt. If he lost to Chris Jericho, I truly believe he would be finished as a potential super star. I had complete faith that Y2J would do the right thing and put Bray over. He did and hopefully they close this program out with a great trilogy match, pushing Bray to the moon. He has so much potential, and I have no doubt he can be an Undertaker/Mankind type of performer.

I really don’t like what they are doing with Cesaro. Actually, I hate it. I know he is on hold with his push, but he could still be dominating the midcard. Losing a pre-card match to Rob Van Dam is a joke. He is a spectacular performer and should be winning matches, plain and simple.

AJ and Paige are great and I hope they keep their program going for a while. By far the best female program I’ve seen in a very long time. They are both very talented wrestlers. Hey Divas division, it’s time to step it up.

Speaking of Divas action, Stephanie McMahon is a phenomenal heel but the Bella’s are just not good. That program should be so much better but it’s doing absolutely nothing for me. Even Daniel Bryan thinks it stupid.

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SummerSlam 2014 Predictions and Preview

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

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

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

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

Divas Championship Match – AJ Lee © vs Paige

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

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

Flag Match – Jack Swagger vs Rusev

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

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

Intercontinental Title Match – The Miz © vs Dolph Ziggler

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

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

Lumberjack Match – Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins

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

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

Randy Orton vs Roman Reigns

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

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

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

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

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

Brie Bella vs Stephanie McMahon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE SummerSlam 2014 Predictions and Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winner: Brock Lesnar

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

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

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

Winner: Brie Bella

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

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

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

Winner: Dean Ambrose

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

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

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

Winner: Roman Reigns

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

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The WWE Lumberjack Match Fits Ambrose vs. Rollins Rivalry

August 13, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The idea by the WWE to place Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in a lumberjack match is both brilliant and curious at the same time. Its brilliance lies in the fact the company is willing to take a punishing match of the past and allow its two best workers beat the hell out of each other with the aid of others. The curiosity lies in the questions of which WWE superstars will be around the ring and which ones will surprise us by administering punishment.

A Lumberjack match is a standard match with the exception that the ring is surrounded by a group of wrestlers not directly involved in it. These wrestlers, known collectively as lumberjacks — female wrestlers serving in this manner are sometimes called lumberjills — are there to prevent the wrestlers in the match from fleeing the ring. The groups of lumberjacks are typically split up into groups of faces and heels who occupy opposing sides around the ring. Usually, the “opposing” lumberjacks (that is, face lumberjacks if the wrestler is a heel, and vice versa) swarm the wrestlers if they leave the ring and force them back in it.

Occasional interference from the lumberjacks is not uncommon, nor is an all-out brawl on the outside involving most of the lumberjacks. Early lumberjack matches even featured the lumberjacks wearing stereotypical lumberjack clothing in keeping with the lumberjack theme, though this is generally no longer done. A common theme is for the lumberjacks to consist entirely of heel wrestlers to stack the odds against the face competitor.

Variations of this match include the “Canadian” Lumberjack match, in which the lumberjacks are equipped with leather straps, the “Extreme” Lumberjack match, competed under Extreme Rules, and TNA’s “Fan’s Revenge” Lumberjack match, during which fans equipped with straps act as lumberjacks and are encouraged to whip wrestlers.

Because of its potential brutality and the idea the two wrestlers finally have a chance to beat the hell out of each other, it could be the best match of the night.

Matches like these take me back to the old NWA and AWA, where lumberjack matches were a staple of arena matches. Here are four wrestlers who excelled at this match from years gone by.

JOS LEDUC
With a lumberjack gimmick, he debuted in Stampede Wrestling with his kayfabe brother, Paul LeDuc. The pair later won several titles in Montreal, where they feuded with the Rougeau wrestling family, and Florida, where they held the NWA Florida Tag Team Championship. After an injury ended Paul’s career, LeDuc competed as a singles wrestler and involved in a heated feud with Dusty Rhodes. LeDuc then moved to Tennessee, where he had a rivalry with Jerry Lawler over the NWA Mid-America Southern Tag Team Championship.

LeDuc spent many years traveling between Florida and Tennessee, and he won belts in both locations as a singles wrestler and as a tag team competitor. He also spent time on wrestling tours of Japan and New Zealand.

MAD DOG VACHON
Maurice Vachon was a Canadian professional wrestler, best known by his ring name “Mad Dog” Vachon. He was the brother of wrestlers Paul and Vivian Vachon, and the uncle of wrestler Luna Vachon.

Vachon started his career as an amateur wrestler, participating in the 1948 Summer Olympics and winning a gold medal at the 1950 British Empire Games. He made the switch to professional wrestling and spent time in various promotions in the United States while occasionally teaming with his brother Paul. In Portland, Oregon, he received the name “Mad Dog” Vachon.

In the early 1960s, Vachon became a main eventer in the American Wrestling Association. He was one of the promotion’s all-time great heels, known for his wild style and intense interviews. He was a five-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion. Starting in the ’70s, Vachon became a fan favorite, particularly in his home province of Quebec. After a stint in the World Wrestling Federation, Vachon retired from the business in 1986.

The following year, he was struck by a hit-and-run driver, resulting in the amputation of one of his legs. Vachon was highly influential, especially in Canada, and was inducted into numerous professional wrestling Halls of Fame.

HARLEY RACE
There were few in wrestling who were as rough and tough as Harley Race. And few wrestlers who could excel at any type of gimmick match
During his career as a wrestler, he worked for all of the major wrestling promotions, including the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), and World Championship Wrestling (WCW).

He held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship 8 times, and was the first NWA United States Heavyweight Champion, which is now known as the WWE United States Championship. Race is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE Hall of Fame, the WCW Hall of Fame, the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

DUSTY RHODES
Yet another wrestler who adapted to most wrestling programs and was instrumental in developing some of the best gimmick matches in the NWA in Jim Crockett Promotions for the better part of the 1980s.

Rhodes is a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, and during his time in Jim Crockett Promotions (the forerunner of WCW), he was a former United States Champion, and multi-time Television, World Tag Team, and Six-Man Tag Team Champion. He has also won many regional championships during his wrestling career.

He is one of six men inducted into each of the WWE, WCW, Professional Wrestling, and Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

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Dean Ambrose Says Battleground Bait and Switch Was Best for Business

July 31, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Dean Ambrose is taking the wrestling world by storm. While the WWE have made it clear that he isn’t their chosen one, fans disagree. Those same fans were upset with the bait and switch on his match with Rollins at Battleground but according to Ambrose, it was best for business.

Ambrose in an interesting spot right now after breaking the Shield a few weeks ago. Ambrose losing to Randy Orton on RAW a couple of weeks ago was a clear indication of where the company sees him today. Yet keen ears and watchful eyes see the beginning of a new movement with Ambrose, likely to challenge Roman Reigns for his impending “chosen one” spot in the near future.

There wasn’t much to look forward at Battleground, other than Ambrose vs. Rollins. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, with the WWE pulling a bait and switch in a big match for the first time in several years on a paid event. Fans left Battleground irate yet according to Ambrose, it was part of a bigger plan.

“You never know what you’re going to see, card subject to change always. There are some fans that may have been a little disappointed, but I think in the long run nobody will really remember it as much as a negative as they might have instantly thought they would. That night definitely upped the intensity of the rivalry between me and Seth Rollins. If anything, even though there was a lot of craziness in me getting kicked out of the building, and fans never got to see the match, but one of the things I take away from it is that at the beginning of the night they wanted to see the match. But they weren’t all that vocal, and they didn’t really realize how much they wanted to see it, but when they realized they weren’t going to get it, the whole place started chanting: ‘Let them fight.’ Then the whole place realized just how much they wanted to see it. I think the way it worked out shone a bigger spotlight on me and Seth and our rivalry, than if we had just gone out there and wrestled, personally.”

I see his point and it certainly did add anticipation to their first encounter, likely at SummerSlam. Yet using the “card subject to change” excuse is lame and quite frankly a dangerous justification. I don’t think Ambrose or any of the top WWE stars need to remind fans about the “card subject to change” tagline. Do fans really need to be concerned about the match they are paying to watch isn’t going to happen? I think that kind of angle is perfectly reasonable for a free TV event. Unless someone is hurt, there is no excuse for that on a paid show. Quite frankly it’s tantamount to fraud.

Ambrose also talked about his transition to a singles wrestler. I never like the idea of a guy wrestling in street clothes. I think you need something a little more eccentric when you are on a WWE stage. Ambrose takes full credit for his swag and according to him, has a lot of free reign with his character development.

“So far, I’ve pretty much been left to my own devices, honestly, since The Shield kind of abruptly broke up. But being left to my own devices has actually been quite refreshing. To be perfectly honest, it’s kind of a good feeling to have that feeling of freedom and not having to worry about anybody else. Right now, I can kind of do whatever I want in the ring or on the mic. I mean, not [completely] anything I want, but more than I could before, because if I’ve got 2 minutes to talk, now I have 2 minutes to talk. It’s not like okay, well, I’ve got to worry about what these other two guys are going to say. I’ve got it all to myself, which is nice.”

Finally, Ambrose receives praise almost weekly for his promos. I think it is hard to argue that his promos are separating him from the competition. Other than Paul Heyman, I don’t think there is anyone better right now. The comparisons to Roddy Piper have merit and recently Ambrose got a chance to study Piper up close and had some interesting takeaways.

“When it comes to having a live mic in your hand, it’s a much different world today than it was in the 80’s. If Roddy Piper had a live mic in his hand in the 80’s, it was on. He could say whatever he wanted, there were no real restrictions. It was up to him to take you on the ride. Now it’s different, you’ll get a certain amount of time, you’ll get something put in front of you. There’s some ways you can stretch it and spin it, it’s just about making it feel like it’s your own. The thing is as time goes on, the company [gains] more trust in you to twist it your own certain way. They’re not just going to send anybody out there with a live mic and say: ‘Can I just wing it? Is that cool?’ You’re not going to get that. So watching Roddy Piper do the whole Piper’s Pit thing, he had a certain vision of how it was going to do, the interview part of it, which I think was a little bit different than their vision was. So [I got to see] him kind work within the context, and make something his own, and go through his process.
[I saw the way] his head worked, and [how he would] kind of [be] reading something, and thinking about it, and then he came up to me talking about it. [He was] giving me something to play off of, and seeing how I would react, and [then] throwing something back. Backstage feeding each other stuff and doing some kind of Inside the Actors Studio stuff with Roddy Piper was really cool, getting to see him go through his process. [I got to see] how he puts things into his brain, and how they come out on the other side. It was pretty cool, because he’s the master. Being on live TV on a live mic against Roddy Piper, who could go off the rails and throw you a crazy curveball at any moment, it’s like going up against a Cy Young Award winner, or boxing Muhammad Ali. You’re in there with the best, and there’s no bigger adrenaline high than that.”

Check out the entire interview over at alternativenation.net where Ambrose discusses a lot of music, new talent signings, and traveling with Roman Reigns.

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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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Ambrose, Rollins and other WWE Money in the Bank Thoughts

June 30, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Judging by the comments made by friends and others on social media, the decision to give the Money in the Bank contract briefcase to Seth Rollins wasn’t as disappointing as it was to see Kane get involved and “guarantee” that the newest member of the Authority would walk out of Boston with the case in his hand. I’m not as disappointed at the ending as one might think and in the scheme of things, it was the right thing to do at this moment. For the future, I am not so sure about that.

The idea of both Rollins and Dean Ambrose in the briefcase match could only mean a 5-star performance, which both competitors gave us in and out of the ring. It reminds me that this is the hot summer months and there is generally a need for a “hot” feud to continue and thrive leading to SummerSlam and beyond. While the WWE is not keen on allowing wrestlers to feud past two pay-per-view events, this is a matchup that needs to thrive through the end of the year…at least.

When I think of feuds like these, Tommy Rich and Edie Gilbert come to mind. I think of Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair. I think of Steamboat and Randy Savage and I think of Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. All four feuds lived up to the hype, carried a huge fan base and survived more than a few weeks in and out of the ring.

It is quite possible that Rollins and Ambrose could be better than all of them.

Divas Trouble Brewing
The WWE is doing a good job of giving us a lead to the deception of Cameron and the eventual split with Naomi and the Funkadactyls. What I am worried about is what happens once the split takes place, as there are already three (maybe four with Alicia Fox) Divas who rule the division without any real competition (again)?

Paige and Naomi gave us a good match, with the focus being on the split down the middle Cameron. But I had expected Naomi to win and Cameron to blindside her and then immediately challenge her former friend and partner.

Paige appears to be in a class by herself right now. I don’t think Charlotte (Ashley Flair) is ready to take the next step. Natalya is ring fodder and Nikki Bella isn’t much of a threat. The division is now a “huge” conglomerate of four and four can be a lonely number.

Tag Team Glory
When is the last time you saw two tag team matches on a pay-per-view? Fans now get to see more amazing matches because the teams are good and the tag team division is solid after a weak showing for so long.

This is a division that should be built around the Usos vs. the Wyatts. The Rhodes Brothers and Rybaxel will follow. It is probably safe to assume there will be other tag teams “built” to make the division even stronger.

Final thoughts
I did not say a word about the final match. I will reserve that for another column. Take away the Summer Rae/Layla match (two diva matches in one pay-per-view) and this was a solid B+ pay-per-view, which is only fitting since the greatest “B+” wrestler of all time started things off in Boston with an interview by Michael Cole.

When we see Daniel Bryan back in red and in the squared circle, the WWE will be whole again. Until then everything else is chaos.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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