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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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WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 Predictions and Preview

May 29, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The WWE will be presenting its first Network-only special event from the main-roster on Sunday night. The Elimination Chamber returns with two chamber matches in addition to a rivalry renewed and the main-roster debut of the NXT star of the future. Let’s break down the card and take a look at the top matches on Sunday’s event.

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE world championship

Count me in as a fan that will never sick of seeing these guys wrestle, even when the go-home angle features Ambrose in a goofy police getup. I was excited when it became clear that the WWE was bringing this rivalry back. I can’t think of many better rivalries in 2014 that the WWE had. Adding the component of the WWE world championship could only make this one better…or so I thought.

I blogged extensively this week about the problems I am having with Seth Rollins as WWE world champion. Unfortunately Rollins’ cowardice is hurting this second chapter in the rivalry for me. I preferred to see these guys both want to tear each other up limb from limb but at least we are guaranteed a killer match on Sunday. I also think that a golden opportunity was blown here by not putting Ambrose over for the quick reign at Payback.

I don’t think there is a person reading this blog that believes that Ambrose is going to win on Sunday. That said, I think that Ambrose should absolutely win on Sunday. Ambrose has something special and it was never more evident than when he was featured last year during Roman Reigns’ absence as a top babyface. Ambrose has something and unfortunately for him, the company refuses to embrace and run with it.

This renewed friendship between Reigns and Ambrose seems rather suspect to me. If not for the fact that the company still has big plans for Reigns as a babyface, the friendship seems set up for Reigns to turn on Ambrose. This match would be the perfect set up for it. It will probably wind up with Ambrose turning on Reigns and I could see the finish on Sunday playing a big part of it. I think Rollins retains the title due to some kind of interference from Reigns that backfires on Ambrose. The company needs to give Reigns something to do while Rollins gets ready to wrestle Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. A feud with Dean Ambrose is probably the way this thing plays out which takes us to Reigns vs. Rollins in the fall.

John Cena vs. Kevin Owens

I can’t recall a time where there was a match this close to predict. By watching RAW the last two weeks one would have to presume that Cena is beating Owens here. Owens has laid him out twice and Cena put him over big on promos. Yet Owens is red hot right now as NXT champion and all reports from behind the scenes are that management is very high on him. Do you have Cena get laid out two weeks in a row and lose…to a guy from the minor league nonetheless? Or do you have your star of the future get beat in his first big match on the main roster? There is no clear cut right or wrong answer here.

I am sure this will be a real good match. The goal here has to be to make Owens shine as he is a star of the future for the company. One thing you could do here is tell a story where Owens has Cena’s number throughout the match and Cena wins with a veteran move, telling the story that it was Cena’s savvy from being a top WWE performer for the last several years that gave him the edge. Leave the rivalry open and when and if the time comes when Owens comes up to the main roster for good, they pick right back up again with Owens winning the next phase of the feud. That said, when is the last time anyone on the upswing ever got the better of Cena in a feud? CM Punk would probably be the only guy I can think of and there have been a lot of them.

I think Cena does go over here and Owens has a strong showing. They could really do something special here and have Samoa Joe interfere, building heat on the Owens-Joe rivalry while introducing Joe to the main roster. That would work for everyone but at the end of the day I don’t see that much time being invested into a guy with a part-time NXT deal. I predict Cena goes over and social media goes wild once again with anti-Cena venom.

Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler – WWE Elimination Chamber Match for the Intercontinental title

This is a real tough match to predict. First of all let me say that I think this match rests on the shoulders of Dolph Ziggler. If Ziggler fights until the end I think we see a real fun match here. If Ziggler is an early exit, I think this match struggles a bit. No pressure at all Dolph.

So who walks away with the intercontinental title? I think you have to go with Rusev here. Rusev is coming off of three straight losses to Cena in addition to losing Lana. The company invested a lot of time into him over the course of 2014. That investment is all for nothing if the feud with Cena turns into a downward spiral. I don’t think it makes sense for the belt to go on anyone but Rusev. Which means that it will probably be Sheamus who wins. I’ll stick with my Rusev prediction, possibly coming down to a battle of the big men with Sheamus to decide the title and the match.

Note: Rusev suffered an injury this week and is questionable for Sunday’s event. If he can’t go I’ll go with Sheamus for the win and the title.

Full WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 card and matches…
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
Sheamus vs. Ryback vs. R-Truth vs. King Barrett vs. Rusev vs. Dolph Ziggler in a Elimination Chamber match for the vacant WWE Intercontinental Championship
The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara) vs. Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (with Natalya) vs. The Prime Time Players (Darren Young and Titus O’Neil) vs. The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) (with El Torito) in a Tag team Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Tag Team Championship
Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) (c) vs. Paige vs. Naomi (with Tamina) in a Triple Threat match for the WWE Divas Championship
Neville vs. Bo Dallas

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Seth Rollins’ First WWE Title Reign Has Been A Disaster

May 28, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I was really looking forward to the day Rollins was going to be champion and sit atop the WWE as the number one heel in the company. Then, he won the Money in the Bank contract and I knew that day was coming sooner rather than later. He was on fire when he won that briefcase, and on many occasions I went on record saying he was the best thing going in the WWE. But as time passed, I started to worry that WWE waited too long and missed their opportunity to put the title on him.

Fast forward to WrestleMania 31 and the most spectacular cash-in in WWE history. Rollins turned the Brock Lesnar-Roman Reigns WWE World Heavyweight Championship match into a triple threat, where he would take advantage and become champion. It came a bit later than I expected, but it was well worth it. All of my speculation flew out the window the moment he came running down the ramp and won the title the way he did. The timing was perfect, not many people were expecting it, it was creative and best of all, Roman Reigns didn’t pin Brock Lesnar to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. It was great and it’s exactly what I wanted for him. Unfortunately, my excitement for his title reign wouldn’t last. Rollins lost pretty much all of his heel heat and his title reign has been extremely flat.

I have some thoughts on why things have gone so poorly and how things with Rollins can be restored.

His Push
Everything about Rollins’ push as champion is wrong. When he won the title I expected a CM Punk type of heel championship run. He had the potential to be the perfect “do what ever it takes to keep the title,” beatable champion he was supposed to be. Instead, Seth’s being made out to look like a coward. Getting put down by Kane, banning Randy Orton’s RKO in their title match at Extreme Rules, at one point asking Triple H for more security and seemingly running away and trying to avoid every challenger that comes his way; most recently Dean Ambrose. They even resorted to the “heel gets the face arrested” story to try to keep Ambrose away from signing the contract to face Rollins at The Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.

Now, it’s been only two months since he’s been Champion so this could be an easy fix, but time is possibly running out on his first reign. WWE needs to book Rollins as a strong heel. He’s being billed as the next cerebral assassin so maybe he needs to start acting like it. Instead of acting like a coward, he needs to cheat and take his cocky attitude to a new level. Instead of allowing Kane or potential challengers to punk him, he needs to get more aggressive and start showing a little more arrogance. In the situation with Kane, he should have just laughed in his face, punking him back and then laying down the law by taking Kane out. If he were pushed as an untouchable member of The Authority, he’d really be able to do what he wants with no consequences. Keeping him at the top would really be viewed as “best for business.”

The Authority
Rollins looks really strong when Triple H and Stephanie McMahon are around, but when it’s just Kane, Big Show and his miniature security team, he looks like a joke. Luckily, Big Show hasn’t been seen since his match with Reigns at Extreme Rules. Unfortunately, Kane has been the focal point of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and that’s really bad for business. The Fatal 4-Way match at Payback and the Cage match at Extreme Rules were more about Kane than any of the actual participants.

Potentially, another very easy solution here, Kane cannot ever be the focal point around Rollins ever again. He can still be around as part of The Authority and the director of operations but he can’t put Rollins in bad spots; make him look weak and he must have his back at all times. Also, Triple H and Stephanie need to be around him more. They ooze power and it will only help Rollins. I absolutely love Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury as J&J Security so they can keep that going.

Finisher
What ever is going on with his amazing finishing move, the curb stop, is really hurting Rollins in my opinion. Taking the curb stomp away from him hasn’t been good for him at all. He had an original, devastating finisher and he made history with that move. He put Ambrose and Orton out of commission and earned his first singles title with it. Now, every time we see a highlight of Rollins’ accomplishments, there’s no finish and it looks really weird. Now, because I guess it’s viewed as too dangerous, Rollins had to come up with a new finisher. He used some kind of modified DDT in a couple situations and lately he’s been using Triple H’s Pedigree. I’ve seen a lot of mixed feelings about Rollins using the Pedigree, but I personally hate it. A champion who uses a variety of finishers is a champion who doesn’t actually have a finisher. Every top star that’s ever come though the WWE has had a finishing move that separated them from the pack. The Rock has the Rock Bottom. Hulk Hogan had the Leg Drop. Stone Cold had the Stunner and so on. Seth needs a finishing maneuver that he can call his own and he had that.

Once again, a problem that could be fixed without any issue… Find a way to keep the curb stomp safe and a part of Rollins’ move set should be the priority. Like the greats I mentioned above, the curb stomp set Rollins apart and fit him perfectly. It really needs to come back.

So, let me summarize. Seth Rollins’ title reign can be saved and it will only take three very simple changes. Stop booking him as a coward, keep the company around him strong and give him back the curb stomp. Time is ticking on his title reign and if they are going to get him scorching hot ever again, they need to start making some changes. He is too good to be dealing with these kind of issues. I still believe he’s the best overall worker today in the WWE and they need to allow him to be what he was before he was champion. Then and only then, Seth Rollins will be able to max out his potential as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

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Seth Rollins Is Not Working As WWE World Champion

May 27, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

We are now two months into the Seth Rollins era as WWE world champion and one thing has become abundantly clear. It’s not working. The champ needs a makeover and with a little more depth to his character, he may be able to turn it around before all is lost.

Let me start this blog off by saying this. I am a big Seth Rollins fan. I want nothing more than to see this guy succeed as a top guy. He is the first fresh face that the company has remained committed to as WWE world champion since The Miz. Yet any objective look at the first two months of his run will tell you that he is on his way to becoming a disappointment.

Disappointment may be a little harsh to some but as a fan I can’t think of anything other way to describe it. The ratings have been terrible since he took the title from Brock Lesnar and from a creative standpoint, his creative has become his biggest anchor. Rollins needs to be repackaged and a look at history and current booking will provide evidence of such.

Rollins needs to be booked stronger. I get the idea of a heel chicken or coward as world champion but it’s not working today nor has it ever worked for a sustainable amount of time. The problem with Rollins is that nobody in the casual audience is buying him as WWE champion and Rollins has nobody to blame for that other than the brilliant minds that are scripting his character.

I look at Ric Flair, heel NWA world champion as the gold standard of heel world champions. I grew up in the Flair era and watched him weekly on NWA World Wide Wrestling and TBS among other places. I have certainly seen enough of him on tape and video since to understand his greatness. While characters certainly have to evolve over time (although who would have expected a heel Russian to get over in 2015?), I think the WWE creative team could learn how to book Rollins using Flair’s character or any other successful heel champion for that matter.

Flair was never someone you would characterize as a chicken. Sure he’d beg off in every match and yes, he’d cheat to win when necessary but the one thing Flair never did was run from his opponents. Flair would get on television every week and whether it was Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Lex Luger, Bruiser Brody, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors, Ricky Steamboat, Ronnie Garvin, or Kerry Von Erich he’d tell you about how great his opponent was but emphasize that he was that much better. Flair was braggadocios, arrogant, confident which made you want to pay to see him get beat even more and it worked.

Flair wasn’t the only one who was a confident heel world champion that drew money. Look no further than the last couple of successful heel WWE world champions. Brock Lesnar, CM Punk, and Triple H cheated when necessary but never backed down from their rivals. Look no further than NXT champion Kevin Owens as a confident heel who will cheat when necessary, yet take the fight when it’s right. Even The Miz while not necessarily successful, exuded more confidence in himself than Seth Rollins. That’s a problem.

I am speaking not only for myself but for the casual fans. I talk to many casual fans that tell me Seth Rollins is too much of a “chicken sh*t” to be taken seriously as WWE champion. The first time I heard it I thought, “Well that is just one fan.” Now that we are two months into his title reign it is becoming more of a prevailing theme in his storylines. This is a guy who beat Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in one night at WrestleMania! Controversial of course, but if anything that win should provide Rollins with false bravado as opposed to running away from a guy he has beaten on several occasions.

The Dean Ambrose storyline is puzzling to say the least. These guys are rivals, hated enemies, former friends that have fought several times before with Rollins coming out with all but one win in the rivalry. Rollins’ character should be chomping at the bit for this fight yet he is doing everything he can to avoid it. As great as their matches are and I am sure their Elimination Chamber match will be nothing short of excellent, this second phase of their rivalry would be so much better if you had both guys wanting to tear each other apart, like most of the great feuds in pro wrestling history. Let Triple H and Stephanie be the cowards, trying to avoid matches with Reigns and Ambrose (like they did with Randy Orton) while Rollins is ready to go anytime and anywhere.

I think there is so much potential with Rollins as WWE world champion. Unfortunately the opportunity to create a legacy such as this one may only come once for Rollins and he is not getting the support he needs from the creative side. Rollins needs to be repackaged quickly or he is going to fall deeper down a hole his career may never recover from.

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WWE Payback 2015 Results: Rollins Retains, Rusev Quits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE Payback 2015 Predictions and Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dean Ambrose Could be In Trouble

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

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

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

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

In either case, Ambrose is in trouble.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WWE Payback: One Champion, One Title, One Opponent

May 12, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Four wrestlers. Three “faces”. Two stooges for security. One WWE World Champion. This isn’t how it used to be in the world of professional wrestling, but it’s the way the world turns in Vince McMahon’s circus. Welcome to the “We don’t know who we want to face the world champion, so let’s throw four guys in a ring and see what happens.”

That is what we have to look forward to at WWE Payback this coming weekend.

In layman’s terms, it means the WWE doesn’t have a clue what to do with Brock Lesnar being “suspended indefinitely” and John Cena making the United States Championship the most prized strap the company can offer. Oh my, how the tables have turned. When Randy Orton and Seth Rollins gave us arguably one of the best WrestleMania matches in the past decade, I thought a program with the superstars would be worth another pay-per-view or two. Then, the unthinkable happened – well not unthinkable since many of us wrestling fans thought about it – and Rollins cashed in on the title with this Money-in-the-Bank contract.

Hmm. Great idea at the time, not so great right now.

There is enough star power in the ring between Rollins, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns to put 12 matches together. All four will get in a ring, beat the hell out of each other and hopefully give the fans what they paid money to see. And then Rollins will walk out (maybe slither out) of the ring with the title in hand. The idea that someone other than the current champion leaving with the company title should be erased from your minds now – That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

The title picture is certainly not what it used to be. One champion, one title, one opponent. There was no wavering on who Hulk Hogan faced for the title. There was only one opponent for Verne Gagne. Bruno Sammartino handled his rivalries one at a time.

Ric Flair was a little different in that he traveled from town to town as the NWA Champion, faced the promotion’s top star and then moved to another region. It kind of makes me wish the WWE would work a title run much like the Great American Bash used to be back in the days of Dusty Rhodes and his fertile mind. He created huge productions for wrestling fans.

During an event like that, Ric Flair would travel with the NWA and face top talent night after night. The series also gave talent that would not ordinarily be in singles competition or in a title match time to shine.

I loved seeing Flair face both Road Warriors and Ricky Morton. He would face Dusty Rhodes and Barry Windham and some lesser known talents like Bobby Fulton or maybe Bobby Eaton. Those were the days when the title was more important than the person who wore the strap. Today, it is the opposite in every day.

Again, that’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

How would a Rollins or Cena or Orton handle facing multiple challengers nightly and in different towns? Could they stay on point? The WWE works so hard on promoting programs and rivalries and then changes them up to give the fans more to get excited about. Frankly, it is really stale, no matter how good the Fatal Four-Way match could be at Payback.

The WWE must come out of this event on Sunday with one opponent for Rollins moving forward. The fans want to see head-to-head competition. There may be plenty of excitement from an Ambrose-Rollins confrontation that it warrants another feud between the two as the company moves toward Summer Slam. But the fans won’t know if the WWE cannot make a decision to have one title, one champion and one hellacious feud going forward.

That’s how this is supposed to work.

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