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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sasha Banks: Why “The Boss” Will Revolutionize the WWE Divas Division

June 30, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

As we all know, WWE’s Divas division desperately needs a revival. The WWE Universe has made it known that they prefer to see women in professional wrestling be portrayed as something other than sex objects; they prefer to see them portrayed as competent, authentic, worthwhile competitors. For this reason, fans have become less invested in WWE’s Divas division, and are now completely enthralled by NXT’s Women’s division. The women in NXT have impactful, meaningful storylines. They are given copious amounts of screen time, which helps their ability to tell the audience a story over the course of a match. Overall, NXT’s female performers are completely equal to their male counterparts, and it just works.

In order for the main roster Divas division to capture the same magic as NXT’s Women’s division, WWE must simply change their mindset. The company will have to split up on-screen air time differently, the creative team will have to provide them with meaningful storylines, and above all, they must move away from their current idea of women serving as only eye candy.

As history shows us, every crusade needs a leader. As mainstream sports show us, every organization needs a franchise player. This idea holds true in professional wrestling as well. Every era, company, division, etc. has a performer who serves as its cornerstone and foundation.

When WWE finally decides to turn their Divas division into a legitimate showcase of the most talented female professional wrestlers in the world, they will need their leader, their franchise player; a performer who serves as the pillar in which the entire division is based around. Luckily for WWE, they already have that person under contract, and her name is Sasha Banks.

Sasha Banks is the reigning NXT Women’s Champion. She has an overabundance of charisma and is a magnificently talented wrestler. Matches involving Banks are as highly anticipated by fans as the headlining matches that involve men. Banks’ work in NXT is undoubtedly a glimpse into a bright future for not only her, but for WWE’s female performers in general. Thanks in part to the attention she is bringing women’s wrestling as a whole, the conversation about women having more meaningful roles within WWE has quickly gained more momentum than it ever has before.

Paige and Charlotte were two of the first women in NXT to begin this sort of paradigm shift for female talent. They opened the door so to speak, and Sasha Banks followed by completely kicking that door in.

At one time in WWE, it was difficult to think of a standout match involving women. Banks has now made that task much easier due to her acclaimed matches against the likes of Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Bayley. Her latest match against Lynch at “NXT Takeover: Unstoppable” in May was her greatest accomplishment to date. The promotion for the match itself was that of a main event, and it lived up to that title. It was the type of match that had fans gasping, cheering, and cringing simultaneously. It wasn’t an excellent match by women’s standards; it was an excellent match by all standards. Even more impressive is the fact that this match was not the apex of what Banks is capable of. It was only a preview of what she could possibly accomplish on WWE’s main roster, provided that the company is ready for her to do so.

WWE’s Divas division does in fact have some incredible performers; Paige, Natalya, and Naomi immediately come to mind. However, Sasha Banks is the absolute best female performer at the moment on any stage, in any division. Her in-ring skills are penetrating, her character is viciously entertaining, and she has already mastered the ability to blend technical skill and showmanship to create the ideal professional wrestler.

Personally, I view what goes on inside of a wrestling ring as a work of art. Sasha Banks’ work inside of the ring is exactly that; artful. The way she is capable of painting a picture for the audience during a match will play a major role in her rise to greatness. Her surplus of different skills is what makes her a one-of-a-kind talent that WWE can place on center stage. Banks is fully equipped to handle being the pillar that WWE leans on as they revolutionize their Divas division.

Banks can be seamlessly transitioned to WWE’s main roster. Place Banks against any woman on that roster and it instantly becomes electrifying to watch. Paige vs. Banks, Naomi vs. Banks, Nikki Bella vs. Banks; all of these promise to be matches that will draw the eyes of the WWE Universe back towards the Divas division.

Sasha Banks also has the rare gift of being able to bring out the best in her opponents. Many of Charlotte’s most memorable matches included Banks. Becky Lynch’s tour de force came against Banks, as well as Bayley’s. Both women came up short in the end, but put on the best matches of their career, even in a loss. Even when she’s working with newer talent such as Alexa Bliss, Banks has proved that she can produce a quality show. That talent will make it even easier for WWE to build the Divas division around her. She expands their number of options for feuds, and guarantees a high-quality bout on each and every show she is on.

The powers within NXT have already realized that Sasha Banks is foundation material. In addition to being their Women’s Champion, she has also been asked to main event live shows and co-main event some of NXT’s special “Takeover” events on the WWE Network. The brand has built her into a dominant, defending champion, without the same restrictions that are commonly placed on WWE Divas.

Rebuilding a new and improved Divas division will of course take more than one performer. WWE has a plethora of other talented women who are capable of elevating it. The company will have to afford their female performers more time and more valuable narratives. Vince McMahon and the powers that be must adopt a new line of thinking about the way women are portrayed in the company. The redevelopment process is not going to be easy or fast by any means, but WWE does have the foundation on which to start that development in Sasha Banks.

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Samoa Joe Signs Full-Time WWE Deal

June 04, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It only took a decade to get him there but Samoa Joe is now officially a WWE superstar. Numerous reports that the former TNA and ROH champion has signed a contract, making fans giddy with anticipation of WWE future.

The news broke Monday night during RAW. According to several reports, Triple H and Vince McMahon were focused on signing Joe to a full-time deal on Monday. Joe had signed a unique contract which made him exclusive to NXT and allowed him to work elsewhere, including Ring of Honor. A number of factors influenced the pressure and it would appear that a deal was done to make Joe an exclusive WWE superstar.

Several reports point to a couple of factors for the deal. First and foremost, the company was said to be extremely impressed with the reaction Joe got when he confronted Owens in NXT. Second, the company was also said to be highly impressed at how quickly his t-shirt sold out. Finally and maybe more importantly than most care to admit, the recent announcement of Ring of Honor going to Destination America put Joe in a real advantageous position and hence an urgency was created to get the deal done.

I have to say that I am extremely surprised yet excited for Joe. Steve Austin has reportedly tried to get Joe in the WWE several times in recent years with little luck. Joe had two major things going against him. First and foremost, he didn’t fit the cosmetic look that we have become accustomed to seeing from WWE superstars. Second and maybe more important, he was a TNA star and the WWE has gone out of their way to avoid TNA guys in recent years. While signing Joe is very exciting, it certainly says a lot about a change in attitude in the WWE.

There are a couple of other interesting takeaways here. Kevin Owens is not an exception anymore. The WWE has obviously changed its attitude when it comes to physiques and that is a great thing. Vince McMahon for whatever reason has opened up his mind to different looks and I couldn’t be happier. The other takeaway as I see it, is that isn’t necessarily a good thing for Triple H. Hunter is in charge of this multi-million dollar performance center, developed to create new superstars essentially from scratch. While Rusev and Roman Reigns have been stellar graduates of the center, the majority of NXT stars are guys that came in with long pedigrees outside of the WWE. That doesn’t bode well for Trips performance review when it comes to how the center is producing new stars.

If you would have told me a year ago that I’d be watching television with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe on it, I would have thought you were crazy. If you would have told me months before that I’d also be seeing Kenta and Prince Devitt on WWE TV I’d tell you that you are insane. The aggressive push to bring in these seasoned independent stars is something I don’t ever recall seeing in the WWE. It was a huge deal when the company signed Daniel Bryan a few years ago. Now they are aggressively hunting talent through the independents and Japan. You’d think Paul Heyman was running recruiting!

All of this said, something has to give at some point. There is too much great talent to keep down in NXT. Plus guys like Devitt, Kenta, and Joe aren’t coming in on cheap deals. These guys are expected to contribute to the main roster. That means that there is going to be a house cleaning soon and while the main roster is stale, I hate to see people losing their jobs.

It is highly conceivable that WrestleMania 32 could have Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose on the card. I don’t know about you but to me that is one hell of a working roster and something to get excited about.

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Samoa Joe Talks WWE Opponents, John Cena, and More

June 01, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Samoa Joe is quickly turning into one of the hottest commodities in pro wrestling. Joe recently talked to about his current status including goals and potential opponents in NXT.

Joe has one of the most unique contracts that I can recall in WWE history. Joe is under contract with a deal to something you probably haven’t seen from a major company in over twenty-years. The new deal does allow WWE access to Joe in regards to media requests and the company has exercised that option in quick order. Here is are some highlights of a recent interview Joe did with the company website.

An interesting question asked was in regards to who Joe would like to work with on the NXT roster other than Kevin Owens. Joe gave an answer that will undoubtedly get fans excited about the potential matchup.

Absolutely. Finn Bálor is someone I’ve had experience with. I helped start the New Japan Dojo in Los Angeles. I remember seeing him and what he was able to do. And now, he’s No. 1 contender, so if it’s not going to be Kevin, it’s going to be [Bálor]. Tyler Breeze is a tremendous athlete, but he’s far too pretty. It bugs me. Eventually, when he comes back, Hideo Itami, too. We’ve locked up over the years and had our fair share of wars. I’m more than happy to have another with him. There are a lot of unresolved personal issues there. Hopefully, we can get into the ring and sort them out.

Joe was also asked about other goals he has in the WWE.

At some time, I would love to make a trip up to the main roster and wreak my brand of havoc. So many people I’ve come up with have succeeded in WWE. Though I thought the opportunity would never present itself, I’m here now. I’m in the best shape of my career and I’m more than happy to fulfill the destiny that has eluded me for far too long, and that’s to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

Joe was also asked about whether he thought John Cena would be a big star when Cena broke in with UPW.

I had no doubt. It’s funny, I’ve been asked that before. He didn’t have to come to the beginner class. He didn’t have to come to all the practices. But John came to all of them; he did all of the work and extra work on top of that. He was so laser-focused on becoming a WWE Superstar, much more than anyone else from UPW who had gotten the opportunity to go to WWE at the time. There really wasn’t a question in my mind that he would become the star he is today.

Overall it’s a really good interview with Joe, straight-shooting for the most part. Check out the entire interview on

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NXT Has Become The Savior of the WWE

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

Kevin Owens is the newest NXT superstar to kick down the front door of the WWE and make an immediate impact with his brash behavior. All he did was challenge the money train of the company, John Cena.

Throw out the United State Championship, this has nothing to do with titles. This is more about respect than anything else. And the WWE is doing its best to make sure the “invasion” of its next line of superstars is done in such a way as to be methodical and precise in its success. With Seth Rollins, a former NXT champion, wearing the WWE World Champion and becoming the most hated villain in the company at the present time, there is now proof the company can survive once the likes of Cena, Randy Orton and Kane call it a career.

Rollins, Owens, Sami Zayne and Neville are just scratching the surface of their potential. Along with the likes of Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Wade Barrett and Bray Wyatt, has there been this much young talent and super stardom waiting to happen in recent memory?

Not since the days of Rocky Maivia, Steve Austin, Edge and Owen Hart has there been this much excitement over the future of the company. For the fans, it has to be the calling card to come back and visit a familiar time where sports entertainment is fun again.

And let’s not forget that at some point, Samoa Joe will be joining this list.

There are cautions to this sudden euphoria that is ever evolving inside the circus Vince McMahon has created and Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have taken over. But if you are looking for the future of this company, look no further than the previously mentioned superstars.

And the divas could be just as good. Paige, Naomi, Charlotte, Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks could make us all forget how piss poor the division used to be. And I cannot wait to see if the Lana experiment really works.

Wrestling transition happens quite frequently and was the major reason for the birth of the WWF and Hulkamania and the establishment of Ric Flair as the greatest heel to ever put on wrestling boots. For some time now – probably with the end of the Attitude Era, the WWE has been treading water with a roster made of aging superstars who gave way to the likes of Edge, John Cena and Randy Orton.

Now that Edge has retired, Cena and Orton have won the company titles too many times over and Daniel Bryan can no longer fulfill the promise of his career due to injury, the establishment of a new young core of talent isn’t just expected, it is needed. There is no real process of “next man up” in this case.

Even with the hotbed of talent rising from NXT, there is still a question mark about Zayn, who may have surgery to repair and injured shoulder and could be out of action for an extensive amount of time.

This transition should be embraced by the wrestling business and should allow Triple H and Stephanie to put their stamp of approval on the next generation of WWE stars.

If it were only that easy.

Sting was in place when Flair started to age. Hogan leaving the WWF was made easier by Austin and The Rock. When Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart hung up their trunks, Cena was waiting. There isn’t just one wrestler to fill the void left by the ones who are closer to retirement than stardom. Which ones are plucked to carry on the tradition is where this all gets interesting. We thought Sheamus and Wade Barrett would be the torch bearers for the next decade. That has not come to fruition.

As NXT continues to knock everyone down in its path and create its own stamp on the WWE, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that our veterans who may be close to leaving or are stepping into the mid-card will have a strong following act. There appears to be plenty of steam from the minor league. If Rollins, Owens and Ambrose continue with their momentum, there is nothing to worry about. Only when they slow down and there is no Plan B should the fans grow concerned. For all we know, this could have been the plan all along. But something tells me a lot of this was done on the fly. And in that case, the WWE is better to be lucky than good. Sometimes, throwing things on a wall and seeing how they fit works out.

This is one of those situations that appears to have worked itself out just in the nick of time.

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Kevin Owens Talks WWE Transition and NXT Sami Zayn Feud

May 22, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Nobody ever doubted whether Kevin Owens had the tools to make the switch to the WWE. Yet even Owen’s supporters are impressed with his quick success in making the transition yet according to Owens, it really hasn’t been much of a transition at all.

Kevin Owens made one of the most memorable WWE RAW debuts in years this past Monday when he laid out John Cena. Owens is on his way to becoming a money player in the WWE as NXT champion and a new feud against John Cena. Owens rise to the top is coming quicker than anyone has expected and as Owens told recently, his success may be credited with a very minor transition process from the independents to the WWE.

I had a bit of a struggle at first with thinking, “Who do I want to be here? What part of myself do I want to tap into so I get on NXT television as quick as possible?” Then I realized what I’d been doing for 14 years had worked because it had gotten me here. So there were little tweaks, maybe clean up the language a little, but besides that I think I’ve been pretty true to myself. And I think that’s a big part of what helps me be successful. I’m genuine, and I think people can see that when they watch. I’m just gonna keep going that way and see where that takes me.

Owens’ story is a great lesson here that I hope isn’t being missed by the WWE. The process for most new signees has been to strip them down to basics and rebuild them with a WWE style. Guys like Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, and even Seth Rollins all had to go through rebuilding periods. For whatever reason, Owens was able to stay true to himself and the skills that brought him there. Whether this was an experiment or not, it’s working and it needs to be considered for all future signees coming in with large pedigrees outside of the WWE.

For independent road warriors like Owens, the NXT schedule is a breath of fresh air. I worked with Owens quite a bit in CZW and at the time he was making drives from Canada to Philadelphia in a packed car for little money. The new schedule is well deserved for someone like Owens who has certainly paid his dues.

One of the big advantages of NXT for me was I get to sleep in my own bed every night almost. For years, I was on the road with the indies two, three days a week, and it got to the point where I’d wake up not sure which town I was in. Which, honestly, I kind of liked. That’s part of being a wrestler. But when I signed with WWE and moved to Orlando, my wife and my two kids came with me. That’s been great. My daughter just turned one a couple of weeks ago, so I get to be there for a lot of the landmarks I didn’t necessarily get to see with my first kid. That said, I do look forward to getting back on the road when the time is right.

It also doesn’t hurt to work with your close friend and best rival in your first WWE program. Owens jumped right into NXT feuding with Sami Zayn. Zayn and Owens as El Genrico and Kevin Steen had one of the greatest rivalries in Ring of Honor history just a few years back. Owens was asked about the NXT feud and distinguishing it from their past rivalry.

I haven’t done anything in particular. We have been who we are, and I speak for Sami Zayn here as well. In that aspect, we are very alike. A lot of people have doubted us throughout the years, we know we can make those people come around. We’ve never faltered from that, so why try to be different here? And we haven’t tried to be different and it’s been working very well, so I think that says something not only about the faith we have in ourselves, but about people being true to themselves. I think that’s important in this day and age. With social media around, people can see glimpses of who we are there, so why shy away from it in another environment? All around, we’ve been true to ourselves for years, so why change now?

Check out the entire interview in where Owens goes into much more depth about his transition, his mentors in NXT, and more.

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Samoa Joe Debuts On WWE NXT Unstoppable

May 20, 2015 By: Category: Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

It only took him sixteen long years to get there but Samoa Joe is finally in the WWE. Joe debuted at the conclusion of the NXT Unstoppable Network special, confirming numerous reports throughout the week that predicted Joe would debut at the event.

Joe came out following the Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn match. Owens had Zayn laid out and started attacking him with a chair when Joe’s music played. Joe walked out and got into the ring going nose to nose with Owens. The fans ate it up chanting “Holy Sh*t!” and “Joe is gonna kill you.” The confrontation ended with Owens walking away and Joe looking strong to close the show.

According to a report on, Joe has a “Rhyno-like” deal in which he will work independent shows as well as NXT dates. Ironically it was announced this past week that Joe just started booking independent dates into the summer, leading many to believe that Joe was not coming to NXT. My hunch and it is only a hunch is that Joe is in, and those dates were a ruse. Joe will probably honor those dates, but I would not expect to see more announced elsewhere.

As big as this is I am left with more questions about NXT, specifically its purpose. Is NXT a developmental program or is it competing to be the number one branded independent promotion in the United States? Signing Joe is great and I am excited for him and his fans, but bringing in Joe and Owens in recent months and shooting them straight to the top isn’t necessary developing anyone.

Samoa Joe is 36-years old and should be on the main roster if he is being considered for the future. Having Joe spend any time in NXT is a wasted investment in my opinion…unless the goal here is to brand NXT and not necessarily build to the future. I think the mission and goals around NXT really need some serious re-evaluation at this point.

It also makes me wonder in the world are they bringing Owens up for a match with Cena at Elimination Chamber? Owens is clearly sticking around NXT, with programs against Joe, Zayn, and Balor in play or upcoming. Again what is the goal here? Is the goal to build Owens up for NXT or the main roster? Bringing Owens up to lose to Cena and go away will do Owens no good when the time comes for him to move up to the main roster. I am just scratching my head here trying to come up with a logical game plan here and I can’t.

Again don’t misunderstand me. I thought it was great to see Joe and Owens have their confrontation and it is nice to see Joe finally get a shot in the big league. That said I just have to wonder if the NXT Triple H is running is what Vince McMahon had in mind when he signed off on the $2.3 million investment.

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Finn Balor to the main WWE roster post-Wrestlemania?

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

Finn Bálor has sent shock waves through the WWE universe since signing with the company last July. With his already noteworthy reputation around the world and the amazing buzz he has caused since joining the NXT roster, the only question is not will he be called up to the main roster, but when? Word getting around is that talks within WWE are to bring Bálor up shortly after Wrestlemania.

The post Wrestlemania story line rebuild is the favorite time for WWE to bring new developmental talent up to the main roster, and this year appears no different. Names being tossed around for the move are Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville and Charlotte, all of which have spent their fair share of time with developmental. Bálor, even with his limited time with NXT (debuting at tapings last fall) is obviously just as ready for the move as the NXT veterans joining him on the rumored list. Fueling the rumor, he also worked a main roster live event last week in Anaheim defeating Tyler Breeze.

Since his arrival on the scene in NXT, Bálor has been a standout turning heads and impressing fans at every appearance. With his well crafted in ring style, grand entrance and special occasion body paint, he is bringing a much-needed fresh and exciting element to the WWE. You could see awe in the faces of the fans that had never experienced the body paint entrance of Bálor before at NXT Takeover: Evolution in December when he and Hideo Itami defeated The Ascension. The buzz has also slightly crossed into the mainstream media with TV Guide saying that he is “destined to be the organization’s next big superstar.”

With over fourteen years experience in the ring and an already endless list of achievements, the former Prince Devitt is no doubt ready for any plans the WWE will lay out for him. He has made a major name for himself with countless title victories around the world, his ability being a successful face or heel and the amazing run he had in New Japan Pro Wrestling forming the top faction in the wrestling world today, The Bullet Club.

Bálor’s age may also be a reason in WWE’s current decision-making. Turning 34 this July, he is not a young pup like many of the developmental hopefuls and that surely plays into wanting to pull the trigger on him sooner than later. Currently being at the prime of his career and athletic ability, it would be a win-win for both parties to make the move now.

Overall, if WWE does decide to go a head with this move, I see only positive reaction coming from the fan base and the boost of interest it will add to the main roster coming out of Wrestlemania season. There is always a fear of what Vince and his team will decide to do with new talent, but if they let Bálor continue on with his current success, he will be a major draw for the foreseeable future. WWE is coming off a rough year of poor fan reactions to the product and story lines they have provided. This new class of NXT talent ready to make the move to the main roster is the most exciting and intriguing yet. With Bálor leading the way, they will bring the refresh that’s needed to confidently move WWE forward in 2015.

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Matt Bloom And A New Attitude Era

March 20, 2015 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

I’m one of many professional wrestling fans who are fascinated with the behind the scenes look of the business. Established wrestlers will tell you it’s a lousy business with the travel schedule, injuries, and the dangers of in-ring wrestling. One wrong move could put them out of commission for a while or for good. But what’s more fascinating to me are the training schools that produce professional wrestlers. These schools determine whether or not the students have what it takes to make it to the WWE.

What strikes me as unusual is the demeanor of trainers on their respective students. They yell at them, tell them to do specific moves over and over again until that person gets it right; sometimes maybe in front of the entire class watching them. I say to myself “I have to deal with all of that to become a professional wrestler?”

I remember over a decade ago on MTV there was a program about professional wrestling including an episode of a wrestling class taught by “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe. What I noticed is how his demeanor changed when class began. Yes, he needs to show tough love but he got to a point when he would act a like an A-hole to get his point across. This is possibly a psychological ploy to weed out the weak ones who don’t have the mental toughness to make it.

Tough Enough came along which was stepped up in terms of quality TV. I loved it! Steve Austin reverts back to Stone Cold Steve Austin while sexy Trish Stratus turns heel. I felt for the students whose dreams are realized or dashed through verbal and physical punishment.

Then there’s Bill DeMott. I remember watching him in particular being a sourpuss acting or maybe not acting like he had it out for his students. I thought DeMott’s character, Hugh Morruss was unique and I liked the kookiness extreme of his sadistic side to his maniacal laughs. Of the number of scenes I’d watch Bill DeMott, all I could I think of it the angry man. He’s like the one teacher in school you don’t want or the tough driving instructor when going for your driver’s license. If his demeanor was worse off the TV screen then I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him. Because of What I’ve seen and read about what DeMott did to his students, I’m not surprised he resigned his post as head NXT trainer but I am surprised that it took this long.

In today’s day and age of technology and the internet you can’t get away with a lot of things. What one says or does can be posted or tweeted in quick turnaround time. Twenty-five, thirty years ago these stories wouldn’t have been publicized or made it on the main stage of media. Back then, the accused could claim “it’s my word against yours”. Not so in today’s case where we under the consistent microscope.

Enter Matt Bloom; formerly Prince Albert and Tensai. My initial reaction would be “Really?” But from what I’ve been reading about Bloom, this could be a smart move for the WWE. Bloom’s demeanor has been the opposite of instructors like DeMott. Bloom’s actually helping out the students rather than berate them constantly. I see this as good PR move but also good hiring for talent development. Bloom’s travelled around the world as an international wrestler. He comes with a wealth of knowledge of the professional wrestling industry. His gimmicks may not have been a hit with the fans compared to HHH, The Rock, and John Cana, but he was a hard worker.

The intangible is that he loved what he did and wants to further the business by grooming new talent. Can he be teach mic skills and encourage students to bring out the best in themselves? The WWE has been lacking in mic talent as currently there have only been a few like Bray Wyatt and John Cena. He may get on some students but that would be if had to. You need to show tough at times to get the point across and this a big difference compared to abuse by his predecessor. Will this formula work? Only time will tell.

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Do It Live! F–k It! Pro Wrestling Alternatives Pile On To RAW’s Woes

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

Imagine if your annual Christmas parade was routed to circle the same two block radius for three hours, with each marcher shot to the gills on Xanax. Now imagine if the parade took place every week, and Santa only showed up six times a year.

Monday Night Raw is the only weekly wrestling program that airs live, and I’d say that the real-time aspect has become the only thing ‘live’ about it.

The March 16 episode was just another cut of the same old dreadful cloth. If it’s not JBL cantankerously grousing about some non-sensical point in his glossy-eyed stupor, it’s another video package railroad-spiking something we saw in hour one. The only real decent action came in the six-man tag of Intercontinental Title contenders, but we’ve been fed the same combinations of otherwise-aimless talents for the past number of weeks. That perpetual void is rendered dumber by R-Truth’s oblivious thief gimmick, which has the shelf-life of a carton of milk in a Cancun tool shed.

Making matters worse is that this is WrestleMania season, the stretch of calendar where WWE historically creates its most anticipation. Forget the complete apathy toward Roman Reigns in the main event, at least he shows up. An absent, Streak-stricken Undertaker has yet to be seen (and probably won’t be until the event itself). Brock Lesnar and Sting show up only on specific dates, relying on Paul Heyman and video packages respectively to usher their stories forward.

I think one of the biggest differences between Attitude-era WWE and the current product is that back then, it seemed as though everybody wanted to be there. Monday nights were the place to be, and Raw was the barometer of the business at its hottest. Nowadays, part-time contracts and wrestlers grimacing through uninspired characters (New Day, among many others) have turned Raw into something that’s more depressing than anything. It’s become a monument to the waste of obvious potential. It’s space occupied with sweat in order to justify $160M in annual rights fees. Don’t like the show? They’re telling you to blow ’em.

In the Attitude Era, it was necessary for Raw to go live, since WCW loved to toss out spoilers for shows so deep in the can that mold was evident. Live TV meant anything could happen. Actually, anything still *could* happen on live Raws, but the sterility is so overwhelming. Of the first ten Raws of the year, just three of them topped a 3.0 rating. There was a point in 1998 where if Nitro slipped to a 3.5, Eric Bischoff had to wear a dunce cap at Turner offices.

I’d argue what the point of Raw going live every week is, when it feels like nothing happens over the course of three mind-numbing hours. This question gets its legs from the fact that there are three better shows right now that tape their wrestling in compressed blocks of time.

One of them is in-house: NXT. As if the comparison between the December Takeover special and WWE’s TLC just days later wasn’t a wide-enough trek, the developmental group puts on shows that breeze by in the span of an hour. Not every impact player is on every week, something that plagues Raw, though it can be argued that the part-timers benefit from their infrequent visits. Regardless, how much less special are even Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose as compared to Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn? Especially since the latter three have yet to be corrupted by uninspired storytelling.

Because WWE seems so set in their ways in terms of their excruciating TV production beliefs, NXT is such a breath of fresh air, even aside from the indy-ringers they hired. Jason Albert and Corey Graves provide on-point announcing with not too much time wasted on tangents and obnoxious arguing. The women are given room to work, and some have very accessible characters, be it Charlotte the confident athlete or Bayley the gradually-self-empowering fangirl.

These are the winds that could possibly cleanse the dull Raws, though I will say that the March 16 episode featured thirty seconds of true excitement. Sadly for WWE, it was in the form of a Lucha Underground commercial.

If you’ve seen Lucha more than once, the noir-ish vibe of the vignettes and the dizzying action are probably what hooked you. Name-brand talents like those formerly known as John Morrison and Alberto Del Rio probably helped. Even announcers Matt Striker and Vampiro, over-the-top as they sometimes can be, are putting over the wrestling with a fanboyish enthusiasm. It beats putting over themselves. In other words, everybody feels like they want to be there.

Above all, Lucha Underground just feels *different*, much like NXT. If WWE Network didn’t have an on-demand function, I’d be torn which one to watch each week. The Wednesday Night Wars!

Speaking of wars, it’s been five years since TNA got trounced in the laughable sequel to the Monday Night Wars. Though 2014 looked like the company death march (and 2015 could still be, they’re far from turning a profit), Impact on Destination America has turned into inspired programming.

Recent stories with Bram trying to deconstruct old friend Magnus, The Beatdown Clan muscling others down, and Ethan Carter III’s unbridled run of self-inflation have far more bite than current WWE fare. In fact, Carter’s bloody, hate-filled match with Rockstar Spud that aired this past week is easily the best match either Impact or Raw has produced so far in 2015. I’m as surprised as you, but less so in hindsight as Carter has blossomed into arguably the best heel in the business right now. I’m sure all he misses about being Derrick Bateman is keeping company with Maxine.

NXT, Lucha Underground, and Impact are all taped in marathon sessions. Their results are readily available on any two-bit news site. There is nothing to be gained in watching these shows in terms of expecting news-breaking swerves that would rival Scott Hall kicking off a hostile takeover.

On the other hand, in each of their current forms, they’re wrestling shows. And appreciating each for both their simple and bold charms beats the hell out of the three hour weekly road to nowhere.

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