Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

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Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

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As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

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A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

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Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

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Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

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As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

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A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

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This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

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I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.

SPOILERS: WWE RAW 07/11/16 Results – RAW Survivor Series Teams Announced

WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for the November 7th edition of Monday Night RAW, held in Glasgow.

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The show opened with Stephanie McMahon coming out to reveal the fifth member of Team RAW. The team so far had been United States Champion Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Chris Jericho and Universal Champion Kevin Owens. These all came out for a segment (Roman got a lot of boos) when Stephanie revealed that the fifth man was Seth Rollins.

Now, Seth does add to the match quality of Survivor Series and he is a big star added as part of this “big” match. However, please keep in mind that this match probably isn’t going to be the main event. Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg will likely be closing the show, meaning this match can be your experiment match. SmackDown! threw in Baron Corbin as part of their team to try and get him over as a top guy, as did RAW with Braun Strowman. So why not continue the pattern by having a rising star like Sami Zayn come into the team while Seth feuds with a heel like Rusev? Seth vs. Rusev is different and you’d be building up more people in the long run. Why does Seth Rollins need to be in this match?

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Also, from a storyline perspective, why is Stephanie going with Seth Rollins to be apart of this big match for brand supremacy? Owens, Strowman and Reigns are all winners, which is why Stephanie picked them. Jericho came as a package deal for Owens, which explains him being in the match. SETH ROLLINS has lost in every major match he’s been in on pay-per-view since Dean Ambrose cashed in on him at Money In The Bank. He lost in the triple threat match at Battleground, he lost against Finn Balor at SummerSlam, he’s lost twice against Owens at Clash of Champions and Hell in a Cell. Not to mention, he’s lost a number of high-profile matches on RAW as well. WHO could possibly take Seth seriously as a top guy on RAW and a threat to Team SmackDown!?

Not to mention, this is the guy that is supposedly going to fight Triple H at WrestleMania. If they continue to go down this road with him, Seth’s got hardly any chance of getting over to the level that he should be going into one of the biggest matches for the big show.

What followed on from this announcement was another announcement that in the main event, THESE FIVE MEN that are representing Team RAW would all face EACH OTHER in the fatal five way main event on RAW.

THESE FIVE MEN, who are supposed to team together for Team RAW, are beating the hell out of each other in the main event of the show in a match with nothing on the line. It’s not like this was a Universal Title match, which actually would have been an interesting stipulation for this match. They’re all just fighting each other for no reason, which actually risks Stephanie’s chances of winning as one of these men could get injured. THIS was a stupid idea.

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Rich Swann and Sin Cara defeated Cruiserweight Champion Brian Kendrick and Noam Dar. Noam apparently got a huge reaction from the crowd, leading to ICW chants from this crowd on an episode of RAW. I’d be VERY shocked if they didn’t edit this out. I do also find it funny that Sin Cara was on the winning team on the same day that news broke out about Sin Cara reportedly in a actual fight with Chris Jericho. It’s funny because when Bo Dallas got arrested in the airport incident from a few months ago, they also put him on the next RAW and had him squash a guy. It’s funny how that works.

They announced Sami Zayn vs. Rusev with the winner facing Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series. So to recap, RAW gave Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson dozens of tag team title shots at the New Day for no reason, Roman Reigns was given United States title shots for no reason, Seth gets a thousand title shots despite losing all time BUT FOR THE SMACKDOWN! MID-CARD TITLE, they get the idea of having two men actually FIGHT for the right to EARN a title shot and try to build up Ziggler’s opponent properly? RAW is better at hyping up SmackDown! title matches than their own title matches! They also showed a video package for Brock vs Goldberg at Survivor Series.

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The New Day did a Scottish comedy segment featuring bagpipes. For the RAW vs SmackDown! TAG TEAM SURVIVOR SERIES match, Team RAW was confirmed to be the New Day, Enzo Amore and Big Cass, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Golden Truth and Cesaro and Sheamus. A pretty solid collection of tag teams. It’s amazing to me that Golden Truth is considered among the top five RAW tag teams at the moment, and yet the Shining Stars, who actually win their fair share of matches on RAW, are nowhere to be seen. They put in Gallows and Anderson as well as Enzo and Cass, despite the fact that all these tag teams are doing are trading wins back and forth. Taking away all of that logic, this was actually a pretty good team even though I’m not a fan of the concept of a ten on ten elimination Survivor Series match.

FOLLOWING this match was a match between tag team match team-mates with THE NEW DAY facing LUKE GALLOWS AND KARL ANDERSON. I don’t even.. WHO COULD POSSIBLY CARE ABOUT THIS MATCH? We saw this match over and over and over and over and over again during the summer and going into September. WHY ARE WE WATCHING THEM AGAIN? WHY are the tag teams, that are supposed to be getting along, fighting each other? Not to mention that they had Gallows and Anderson BEAT The New Day in this match, meaning that the most dominant tag team on RAW were beaten by the team that were beaten by Enzo and Cass LAST WEEK. If this insanely baffling tag team booking is tearing apart your mind, there’s more to come.

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THE SHINING STARS, who were NOT on Team RAW for Survivor Series, beat the Golden Truth. If you’ll recall, GOLDEN TRUTH ARE ON THE SURVIVOR SERIES TEAM. Why aren’t they winning this match, if the aim is to convince the fans that this will be a good tag team for Team RAW? Are the Shinning Stars going to replace them? I hope so, so at least there’s SOME sense to this booking.

I’ve been told that it doesn’t matter who wins or who loses, which is an irritating analogy. If I’m going into this big RAW vs SmackDown! pay-per-view and wanting to know which brand is better, I would expect these brands to pitch their best stars for the biggest matches. I don’t want to see losers put into important matches. I want teams to get along for the Survivor Series elimination matches and I DON’T WANT TO SEE TAG TEAM DYSFUNCTION STORYLINES THIS OFTEN. WE’VE GOT THE SAME STORYLINE GOING ON RIGHT NOW WITH CESARO AND SHEAMUS? WHY ARE WE SEEING IT AGAIN?

Man, this is… infuriating.

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We had the women’s segment, with Charlotte leading Team RAW. They were bringing these girls out, with Charlotte on the mic. They introduced Nia Jax, Bayley and ALICIA FOX as well. Alicia Fox somehow made this Team RAW team. I’m STUNNED. Bayley comes out and this crowd loves Bayley. Charlotte is trying to cut this promo and the fans for a solid few minutes are singing  “I WANNA KNOW IF YOU’LL BE MY GIRL” to Bayley. Charlotte tries to get on with the promo but she is completely derailed by these fans and Bayley is just laughing along with Alicia Fox. I don’t think Charlotte was expecting this as when she kept trying to get this promo on track, the fans steam-rolled her every time and she had no idea what to do. There was a video of this on Twitter, that’s how I know about this. They introduce Sasha Banks as the fifth member for this team.

THEN, we had Bayley, Sasha Banks and Alicia Fox vs Charlotte, Nia Jax and Dana Brooke. WHY CAN’T THESE TEAMS GET ALONG? Why are they all fighting each other? Why did Stephanie BOOK THIS if she wanted her team to win? Bayley pinned Charlotte AGAIN, which probably means that its Bayley vs Charlotte at Roadblock for the title. If nothing else, it’s someone different in the women’s division. I am still angry at Sasha Banks not being the champion but at least its not Sasha vs Charlotte once again. I’ve seen enough of that for a while. Bayley’s somebody new so… fine.

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Sami Zayn BEAT Rusev and will be going on to fight Dolph Ziggler for the Intercontinental title at Survivor Series. I would not beat Rusev again like this, especially against Sami who is NOT a strong superstar at the moment in terms of his booking. HOWEVER, I would prefer Sami Zayn than seeing the return of the worst rivalry in 2015 with Rusev fighting Dolph Ziggler. Sami vs Dolph actually sounds like it will be a killer match, which is why I’m ALMOST all for it. I’d still wouldn’t beat Rusev like this, especially if there’s a big opponent for him going into Roadblock.

Kevin Owens won the fatal five way after Roman hit him with the Superman Punch, which saw Owens land on Jericho and pin him.

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Maybe it is unfair to review this RAW by simply going off the spoilers. Actually, this isn’t really a review of the show. I’m reviewing the direction of the booking of the show and the build towards Survivor Series. I’m sure the fatal five way was awesome and I’m sure Sami Zayn vs Rusev was awesome. HOWEVER, the idea that they’re promoting this pay-per-view by having each brand’s teams fight one another is incredibly ridiculous. AT LEAST when they did this for Survivor Series 2005, the teams were united all in the name of their brands. ALL THESE TEAMS are not united. They are tearing each other apart in regular matches BOOKED by the authority figure, who apparently wants to win this match so bad.

THIS SURVIVOR SERIES BUILD… SUCKS. WHERE’S GOLDBERG AND BROCK LESNAR? That, at least, will be a build-up and a match to look forward to…

…at least this crowd actually had fun tonight it seems.

 

 

WWE 2K16 FaM Pandora Review

NOTE: The following review has been written out of passion and respect for the writers and those that make FaM as big as it is. Forever A Movement has always been a league that cares passionately about the fans and this review will highlight some of the brilliance that FaM put together for their Pandora event as well as discussing some of the areas of the writing and booking that could possibly have been improved. The Armbar Express respects the efforts and the man hours that everyone involved with putting the show together puts in, and this is not by any means an attempt to slander the product. We do not wish for anyone to take these comments to heart, as this is simply the views of one fan who is looking forward to seeing Forever A Movement go from strength to strength. Please enjoy the review and feel free to tweet me @TomRobinson5199, @ArmbarExpress or leave me a comment with your thoughts on the show. I will appreciate the feedback on my work and I’m sure the boys at FaM will appreciate your honest thoughts on the future of the clan.

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WWE 2K17 arrived in October 2016, with WWE Games clan FaM saing goodbye to WWE 2K16. The game had previously hosted Survival and a few weeks of content including a Money in the Bank tournament, and had been good to FaM. Before they moved onto the new game though, the league decided to give its fans one last mega event on 2K16 with FaM Pandora.

The show would continue on from the shocking revelations at FaM Survival, building on the grand reveal of Rom Buster’s brother Ranik as the anonymous general manager, the real leader of the SES and the fourth founding member of FaM as a whole. Having destroyed Rom Buster at the end of Survival, putting the fear of god into BlackHeron and beating Gunnz in his FaM “debut,” his past disciple Andy Badwool was the only one left on Ranik’s hit list. In a match for control of FaM, the future of the league was interesting to wonder about as well as the fate of Pandora’s Box, the Money In The Bank briefcase and the FaM World title.

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Pandora stated with a grudge match between Cameron Bash and William Kingdom, a ladder match for the Money in the Bank briefcase. These two had beef with each other ever since FaMniversary III and had both been in a tournament, making it this far. This was the opening match of the show and by god, was this ever a great way to start off the show.

This was a fantastic ladder match, with both men taking the greatest of bumps onto the ladders. There was great brawling from the get-go. Bash did the Big E spear to the outside, which is not something that I’d encourage any wrestler to do in real life! I always fear the worst whenever Big E pulls this off. Bash would try again but Kingdom moved out of the way, resulting in Bash landing onto the big pile of ladders on the outside. It looked like it sucked for Bash on so many levels. They had Kingdom whip out some athleticism, including the handspring cutter that Lucha Underground’s Fenix would normally do.

Kingdom’s punishment to Bash included a small package brainbuster and a sit-out powerbomb on the ladders. Kingdom countered an attitude adjustment into a cutter on the outside. We had an absolutely awesome spot where Kingdom’s spear was countered into a spinebuster through the barricade. It was really executed in terms of the editing and the gameplay, and this looked really good. An innovative spot that FaM should be really proud of.

Kingdom somehow pulled off a coast-to-coast cannonball, which was pretty unbelievable. Kingdom seemed like the better man in this match, hitting the majority of the big moves in the battle. Kingdom caught Bash with a cutter in mid-air onto a ladder. The ending was really well done, with the drama being at its height with the two big men battling on top off the ladder. Kingdom went for a cutter from the top of the ladder but this was reversed into a Bash Bottom off the ladder instead. Bash grabbed the briefcase and won.

A fantastic way to start off the show with a drama-filled battle from start to finish. These two beat the living hell out of each other and even though Kingdom seemed like the better man in the match to me, it’s not like Bash was completely destroyed and then just picked up a fluke win. Kingdom had hit the cutter a few times and when he went for it again, Bash was able to see it coming and countered it. The finish made sense considering how personal this rivalry had become. I’d call it an overwhelmingly great end to the program between these two.

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Rom Buster took on Killswitch. I have all the respect in the world for Rom Buster in terms of the person himself that has done so much for FaM in order for it to evolve. He’s the ultimate worker and is extremely passionate about the product. The CAW himself has a great look and a great moveset. However, at the moment, his character right now is exactly the same as Dolph Ziggler’s character (his character up until No Mercy anyway). Dolph Ziggler’s character is the ultimate worker that puts on all these great matches but can never win. Rom Buster’s character is shockingly similar in the sense that he’s supposed to be one of, if not the, biggest star in FaM but yet he’s a big loser too.

Rom lost to Andy Badwool at FAMinversary II, Rom lost to Andy and BlackHeron at Survivor Series, he lost in the Royal Rumble, he lost to BlackHeron at FaMniversary III and he lost to Ranik at Survival. This dude is in all of the biggest matches and storylines, yet he’s failed to win in a lot of these big matches. He looks great in the ring but as a main-eventer, he’s had barely any success at all. I figured that maybe the plan was for Rom to eventually work his way through Betrayal and all the heels, eventually beating Ranik in the end which would have been great. Rom having to run through everyone that’s beaten him in the past and eventually facing of with Ranik at the end. Maybe he beats Killswitch and then Ranik forces Rom to fight both members of the Skilled Foundation, then Roberto, then BlackHeron, then Darin again and then 2TM and then it’s Ranik at FaMniversary or something. Some big plan which builds up both Rom and Ranik as unbeatable badasses which leads to a match where only one brother can win and rule FaM.

Instead, on the pay-per-view after Survival, Rom is beaten by his former tag team partner Killswitch. I can’t speak for the rest of the FaM viewers but it’s hard for me to feel sympathy for a guy who gets beat in every big match he’s in. He did get beat through shenanigans in this match but he did get beat clean by BlackHeron at FaMniversary and against Ranik at Survival. I don’t understand why Rom had to lose again. Why should I care about the guy after this? According to the storyline, he’s a loser who can’t win when it counts.

It’s very unlikely but in the off-chance that Rom’s done being in the main-event, fine. I have no problem with Killswitch winning if Killswitch is getting a push and Rom’s not in the main-event scene anymore. That’s fine. If the ultimate goal is for Rom to win control from Ranik, then I don’t think it helps Rom for him to lose against Killswitch.

The match itself was actually a good one. The finish saw an awesome spot where Killswitch went for a dive to the outside with Rom catchng Killswitch with an X-Ray. That was one of the spots of the night. Rom brought him in the ring to finish him off. The lights went out and Rom was taken out by a man in a hoodie with a chair. Killswitch hit the Super Switchback and won. It was revealed that the man that took out Rom was Sander, formerly of the SES. A SES Civil War actually sounds appealing in the middle of this conflict with Rom. If the plan is for Rom to be out of the main-event picture for a while, which it probably is with the stipulation of Rom not getting another crack at Ranik if he lost, then I have no problem with this.

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BlackHeron challenged Deaths Angel for the CyberFaM Championship in a steel cage match as selected by the fans. Let me just give you a brief run down of this championship history and explain why Deaths Angel is currently the champion. Cameron Bash, who was the rightful champion, gave up the title as he was in pursuit of the World title instead. Deaths Angel lost in a world title match at Survival. Bash GAVE the CyberFaM championship to Deaths Angel, actually GAVE Deaths Angel this belt. Deaths Angel didn’t win this championship. Bash basically said “I feel sorry for you so here’s my belt while I move onto a different title.” That’s one thing, especially when the heels were apparently so outraged by this. Ranik and Darin were so outraged by this that they somehow forgot that they can surely veto this title transcation or at least force them to have a match as they’re RUNNING the company?

So Deaths Angel is the champion. He defended the title against BlackHeron. They have this match in the cage. BlackHeron beat the crap out of Deaths Angel. He german suplexed him off the top of the cage. BH tried his Black and Gold Powerbomb but Deaths Angel countered with a Yoshi Tonic in a clever spot. BH finally gave him the Black and Gold Powerbomb for a nearfall. Deaths Angel superkicks BlackHeron for a near fall. Deaths Angel knocks BlackHeron down in the battle on top of the cage. Deaths Angel is on top of the cage. Rather than escaping with the title, he tried a HURRICANRANA off the top of the cage. BH catches him, hits the powerbomb and pins him to win the championship.

So not only was Deaths Angel given a championship that he didn’t even earn, he lost that championship after being stupid and jumping off the cage. Rom claimed that Deaths Angel wanted to jump in order to make sure of the victory and to put BH away for good. So apparently, a HURRICANRANA is the best way to do that?

I always hated it whenever a wrestler is about to win a cage match and jumps, especially in a match like this. If you’re in a heated rivalry like the Edge/Matt Hardy cage match from Unforgiven 2005, that’s one thing. This was a random mid-card title match between BlackHeron and Deaths Angel. Didn’t seem like the intensity was high enough for a spot like that.

As this was all confusing enough with the CyberFaM title, things got even more confusing.

BlackHeron celebrated with the championship when of course, Darin buzzed in. He wanted to make sure that the title was firmly within their grasps. Therefore, he ordered that BlackHeron LAY DOWN for him and basically hand the title over to him. Darin came down and BlackHeron allowed Darin to pin him and win the title.

So for the record, the title was vacated by Cameron Bash and given to Deaths Angel for no reason, BlackHeron beat him for the title and now DARIN won the title after BlackHeron laid down for him. Again, with all due respect to Forever A Moment, this title seems so meaningless to me right now. Perhaps a strong Darin title reign could change that.

With that said, this was a pretty good cage match.

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It was supposed to be Sledder, Darin, Nic Virtue and Gunnz in a four kings ladder match for Pandora’s Box. Sledder’s theme was a cover of Voodoo Child and was a pretty damn great one. Ranik buzzed in as it was time for Gunnz to come and talked about how he beat him and what Rafazo did to him. Ranik informed us that Gunnz would not be involved and that his replacement would be Betrayal member Roberto. Gunnz being out of the match was not something I was particular fond of as he would fit in really well in a match like this.

The rules of the match were as followed. This started as an elimination match, with only two men being allowed in the ring at one time. The ruling was that you could enter the match if somebody else was thrown out of the ring or made their way to the outside. No need for a tag-in although Darin and Roberto were tagging each other in as normal. There was an awesome use of this rule when Nic was looking for a dive on Darin on the outside when Roberto cut him off with a huge clothesline. Simple but effective!

Nic Virtue got the hot tag in this match were you didn’t need to tag in order to get involved. Nic hit the superkick to eliminate Roberto. It was at this point when it was made clear that this part of the match was no disqualification. With this in mind, Roberto hit the choke bomb on Sledder and Darin tapped the sheriff out with a STF.

The final part of the match between Nic Virtue and Darin was the ladder match portion of the match. Despite this, Darin tapped out Nic with a STF. Darin hit an insane alley oop on Nic into the ladder and breaking it. That was crazy. Nic did a diving crossbody from the top of the ladder. In one of the best spots of the night, Nic went for a dive but was cut off when Darin threw the steel steps at him and caused him to crash into the ropes. The way that was executed was really well done and Nic’s landing actually made it more effective than it probably should have been. A very well-worked spot from the gamers.

Darin speared Nic through the same barricade that Kingdom was spinebustered through. Rom was on top form in terms of fixing all of the broken barricades at Pandora! They took all kinds of moves on the ladder like Bash and Kingdom in the first match, including a back suplex off the top of a ladder and onto another ladder. Nic superkicked Darin a few times and eventually put him away for good with an elbow drop from the top of the ladder and through the announce table. Nic grabbed Pandora’s Box and was the winner.

Nic Virtue was probably the best option to win this match, although I would have loved a Gunnz victory. Nic is pretty much over with the FaM fan base and has been promoted as a star ever since Survival. I can imagine the FaM live chat popping for this victory and Nic did look really good in this match. He came off as a star and he did some great work with Darin. Roberto and Sledder was just there, not really being major factors in the match. I can’t help but feel as if this would have been better if Darin and Nic just had a regular match. Their ladder match battle was really well done and the drama was there. A thumbs up for the match for Pandora’s box.

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We had the Diamonds Championship match with Middlesbrough’s own Elle facing a mystery opponent. Ranik buzzed in, which was actually pretty important considered what happened at the end of the show. Ranik put over Elle, which was actually surprising as the cold-blooded monster Ranik put over the top female babyface in the company! He claimed that BlackHeron’s girlfriend Eve was never meant to be in the Diamonds match at Survival. He buried her and called her BlackHeron’s crown jewel. Ranik suspended Eve for the forseeable future which was a fine way to get Ranik heat, even though he was suspending a heel (probably a babyface now). Ranik introduced Elle’s opponent who apparently trained under Ranik. Her opponent was Vikel, who had a Russian gimmick. She was the female Rusev and this match further solidified this comparison as she wrestled almost exactly like Rusev!

This wasn’t a complete squash as Elle got some shots in but Vikel nearly dominated this match. There was a class spot where Elle went for a dive but was caught with an uppercut on the outside. Again, the match editors were on top of their game with the matches and some of the spots. Vikel threw her around the ring. She hit several powerbombs on Elle, being a clear shot at BlackHeron. Elle actually got a near fall off a top rope victory roll. Vikel hit the Dominator and won the title. As far as putting over a new star in one match, this was a sound way to do it. Vikel looked great in this match. My only concern at this point in the show was that all the heels held the gold in FaM, which would be rectified later on in the show. A sound showing from the women.

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Tom Cushnie was backstage, trying to win favour with the don that runs the Mafia stable in FaM. Tom wanted revenge on Gore and Perkins after they beat him up at Survival. Tom eventually got the don’s attention when he claimed that Gore and Perkins called them “fake Italians” which is the ultimate insult to the Mafia. The Don agreed to help out and they hatched a plan.

The WWE Gaming YouTubers had a six man over-the-top-rope battle royal gauntlet, with the winner getting a FaM Global title shot in a regular match right after the gauntlet. I’ve really not been a fan of the usage of WWE YouTubers in FaM, although I did enjoy the FaM vs YouTube gauntlet from Survival. To be honest, I enjoy a lot of the content from YouTubers like TonyPizzaGuy, Gore and Perkins, ItsMyYard and SmackTalks. On this show however, I hated all of the YouTubers’ characters on this show. I hated their involvement and how they were utilised here. I don’t want to knock their involvement too much as I do understand why FaM have these YouTubers on their shows but the YouTubers being there does nothing for me in terms of getting me excited about the show. I’m not going to be more likely to watch it if TubbyEmu’s there for example, not that I have anything against TubbyEmu.

The match had managers accompany the YouTubers to ringside, giving us even more YouTubers and people on the screen. Element was #1 and was accompanied by BigRedNY, with his story being that he had to work his way through the YouTubers in order to get a rematch for the title he challenged for at Survival. The first opponent for Element and the second entrant in the match was supposed to be MrBigShowOff with TheGreatOne as his manager. However, TheGreatOne jumped MrBigShowOff before the match began. Somehow, this allowed TheGreatOne to take his place in the match. When has it ever became cool for someone to be able to just attack somebody on the ramp and take their spot in a match? TheGreatOne attacked him and was just simply given the OK to replace him? At least when Erick Rowan jumped Curtis Axel in the Royal Rumble in 2015, it was made clear that Rowan had not entered the match himself.

In the end, this all didn’t matter as TheGreatOne was eliminated in about a minute. The third entrant in the match was 101Gaming, who was accompined to the ring by ItsMyYard and his many dummies. Yard’s big dummy took out Big Red on the outside. Another dummy jumped Element in the ring. In the end, all of this dummy shenanigans didn’t matter as Element eliminated 101Gaming after they fought for a little bit. Why was 101Gaming even there when that portion of the match was clearly designed for Yard to show off his dummies?

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SmackTalks was #4 in the match. He blindsided Element with a springboard dropkick. This was actually a pretty sweet exchange, with a superb little sequence which ended with an enziguiri from SmackTalks. We actually got a bit of action when, of course, more shenanigans took place. A graphic appeared in the middle of the match and it distracted SmackTalks enough for Element to eliminate him. So even when SmackTalks entered the ring, who was awesome in the FaM vs YouTube match, we had to have another random angle in this match?

Perkins from Gore and Perkins was #5 in the match. Of course, due to the segment with the Don and Tom Cushnie from earlier, we had to have even more interferences and shenanigans. Muff E and Puma jumped Gore and Big Red, who was still outside as Element had not been eliminated. Mr Sicko eliminated Perkins from the match, meaning that Element had “went through” four different men in this match. Gore and Perkins took out Sicko with a Gore and a Brainbuster.

So let’s recap this match. At this point, Element had “beaten” four men in a row without barely breaking a sweat. Either he’s destroying these YouTubers or they’ve been eliminated due to the actions of somebody else. The entire “YouTube Division” of FaM has been made to look like fools. Element is one win away from the Global Title shot that he’s been after since Survival. Up next is Grim’s Toy Show with Duhop. After four matches, Element climbs over the top rope and eliminates himself.

Rom, at commentary, explains that the worn out Element selflessly eliminated himself in order to give the fresh Grim a fighting chance against CMPulse. They make it clear that Element doesn’t care who wins, as long as Pulse is no longer the champion. He has “too much honour” to fight Pulse when he’s not 100%. Think about this for a minute. He’s so honourable and such a fighting warrior that he GAVE UP when he was at a disadvantage? When push came to shove, he really couldn’t be bothered to fight anymore after a rather easy time with the YouTubers?

Not to mention, it was stated by Rom that the YouTube Division as a whole hates Pulse and doesn’t want him as the champion. Well if they want to make sure that at least Pulse isn’t the champion, why don’t they all work together by eliminating themselves so Element can face Pulse as fresh as a daisy? Why try to beat up Element and hurt his chances of winning?

So Grim was basically given the match with Pulse for the belt. They fought for a while when Darin buzzes in once again, making the match no disqualification. A massive brawl broke out with TonyPizzaGuy, CMPulse, Element and BigRed. TubbyEmu made an appearance. At the end of the day, Grim hit a 450 and won the match. Despite all that had happened, this was a good-feel moment especially when every other title at this point was held by a heel. Seeing a babyface win a title brought a lot of joy at the end of a hectic, messy YouTuber deal which is a concept I never want to see again.

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They discussed the FaM review competition, with the winner being featured on FaM programming with the possibility of being a full-time member of the show like Rafazo. Thank you again to FaM for the cheeky mention during this! Even though I’m coming off as the biggest hater of FaM with the criticism of that last match, I do respect the efforts of the clan and I do love a lot of aspects about the product. Everyone involved with FaM, including the fans, are all passionate about the show and that’s what makes FaM stand out among the many CAW leagues around. So thanks again, and be sure to get involved with the review competition if you haven’t yet. I think there may be still time to crack out a video review which I’m sure the lads will appreciate!

2TM defended the FaM World Heavyweight Championship against Anarchymus. I’m a strong believer of the titles being the most important things in wrestling. I think the FaM title should be what the show is centred around and treating them with prestige and care. For the last five years or so, its mostly been about whose running the show as the leaders of FaM. As far as protecting the titles, this was not my kind of show. Up until this point in the show, we’d seen Vikel squash Elle to win a championship, we’d seen Darin force BlackHeron to lie down for him so he can win a championship and we’d seen Element destroy four men and then WALK AWAY from a championship opportunity. Anarchymus being in this FaM World title match didn’t help matters.

To be honest, the FaM world title match not being in the main-event hurts the image of the title anyway. However, let’s recap how Anarchymus got this title shot in the first place. Anachymus came out before Pandora and cut a promo about wanting to win a championship. 2TM buzzed in and said “hey, I’ll give you a shot at my title at Pandora.” Everyone was cool with it. This was the entire build for a FaM World Championship match at a pay-per-view. At least Deaths Angel won a 20 man gauntlet on the previous pay-per-view in order to get a shot at 2TM at Survival. Anarchymus didn’t have to do anything. It’s not like 2TM said he’d give him a shot if Anarchymus beat this guy or this many guys. He basically just got the title shot for asking politely.

To add more fuel to this fire, D.N.A even noted during the match that Anachymus shouldn’t even be in this match as he got pinned in the FaM vs YouTuber match at Survival AND HE WAS RIGHT. I do like Anarchymus and I’m sure I noted in the Survival review that he should be a bigger star than he is. Throwing him in this title match out of the blue just doesn’t seem the right way to do it.

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We had the match, which was actually a pretty fine bout. 2TM did the Kevin Owens tease when he went for a dive then simply rolled out of the ring to beat up Anarchymus. These two beat the hell out of each other with Anarchymus kicking out of the Twisted Reaction. This was a hard-hitting match, with a number of hard clotheslines, piledrivers and suplexes being dished out. Anarchymus then took over and hit his finisher when the Skilled Foundation came out. Then Anarchymus was able to take out both members of the tag team on his own. I’m not sure if this was more of an effort to make Anarchymus look really strong or to complete destroy the credibility of the Skilled Foundation. I usually wouldn’t have this much of a problem with one babyface beating two heels except for the fact that he beat up the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS on his own. I get wanting to put over the number one contender for the world title but did he need to destroy the tag team champions? Anachymus looked great up until this point anyway.

2TM jumped in to make it a three-on-one advantage to the heels when the Resurgence came out. The Resurgence, who the Skilled Foundation beat to win the tag titles, took out the champions out with a double dive to the outside which looked sweet and well choreographed. 2TM busted open Arnachymus with a chair and then hit the Twisted Reaction to retain the title. I enjoyed this match. It was sort of like the AJ Styles/Roman Reigns matches where the Usos and the Club ran in and I liked that dynamic here. I don’t think Anarchymus got over as a main-eventer in my eyes with this match but he looked pretty good. Again, it didn’t do him any favours to just get the title shot out of nowhere but he hung in there with 2TM and looked solid. An enjoyable world title match.

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Thanks to TheWolfMonster for this lovely bit of fan art of Andy Badwool from their DeviantArt page

Ranik put his FaM leadership on the line against Andy Badwool. Here’s the thing I’ve really enjoyed about this Ranik fella being around. In FaM, there always seems to be a certain match-type where a lot of the matches are structured the same. These Ranik matches are so unique in their delivery, their structure, their pacing and their purpose. These matches are must-see in the same way that a Brock Lesnar match is a must-see. It separates him from everybody else, which will make the future of FaM seem interesting with the angle of who can stop Ranik.

We got the next challenger to Ranik’s throne in Andy Badwool. This was a no holds barred match and the match started with Ranik hitting a catapult punch to Andy! Ranik laid into Andy with punches and Andy was bleeding like twenty seconds into the match. Andy went for a GTS but Ranik countered it into one of his own. Andy went outside for a chair but Ranik simply hit a suplex. It tells you something about how unique a match is when the BABYFACE is so desperate that he needs to grab a weapon first. Both men traded spinebusters and Ranik even hit the balling elbow, being a call-back to the initial FaM intro video where Ranik is doing the same thing. Andy hit a pedigree but Ranik was able to kick out at one. Andy battered Ranik with a chair and then hit a Badwool Driver onto the chair. This got a two count but it was not like a near fall or a false finish or anything. Andy hit the move and Ranik got his shoulder up as soon as the referee said two. I honestly thought when I saw that move hit that Ranik had kicked at one!

Ranik did an awesome electric chair into a german suplex. Andy hit the Death Valley Driver for a near-fall. Ranik hit a Sleeping Pill but he was not content with simply gaining the pin. He went to the outside, set up a table and set fire to it. Andy cut him off and hit a suplex from the top turnbuckle to the outside and through the flaming table. In one of the greatest no-sells in FaM history, Ranik gets up from GOING THROUGH A FLAMING TABLE, he takes a GTS from Andy… and simply hits the End Of Days and pins Andy.

I love how dominant and over-powered Ranik was in this match. I don’t care what anyone says, he’s been a tremendous addition to the FaM roster so far and the idea of Ranik going through the rest of the roster until a hero rises up and is able to beat him is fine with me.

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Ranik cut a promo after the match and granted revenge for the people backstage that wanted to beat up Andy. 2TM, BlackHeron and Darin all came out to put the boots to Andy. 2TM beat up Andy, BlackHeron grabbed the chair which wrapped around Andy’s ankle. Darin went to the top rope and BH caught him and hit the Black and Gold Powerbomb. In the first time in what seems like forever, it seems that BlackHeron is a babyface in FaM.

Ranik buzzed in and talked about BlackHeron making the biggest mistake of his life. BlackHeron ran backstage as it was revealed that Eve was out cold in the back. BH went to her and since backstage segments in FaM are usually done with WWE 2K14, BH’s attire dramatically changed into his old 2K14 gear! BlackHeron supposedly borrowed a clothes beam from Dragon Ball Z’s Piccolo! I loved that!

Ranik attacked him from behind and put him through the window. In the ring, Andy laid out 2TM with the Badwool Driver and left. This then brought out Mr Money In The Bank Cameron Bash. Bash cashed in and won the FaM World Heavyweight title. At least they ended the show by showcasing the FaM World title and allowing a good-feel moment to end the show as the babyface became the new champion.

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As negative as I seemed for a few matches, this was overall a great show to sit through. I thought the structure of the whole show was good, I thought the editing of the matches were as slick as ever and the show didn’t seem to drag that much, despite being four hours long. The opening match and the main-event are both must-see matches in my eyes, going down as some of my favourite FaM matches of all time. All the babyfaces winning the Money In The Bank, Pandora’s Box and the FaM World title are all great decisions by the company, and it looks like the guard is changing in FaM. I complained about Rom Buster getting beat but it looks with the majority of title holders having come into the company in the last few years, the future looks bright. The main FaM storyline is really exciting at the moment and that should be the key focus over everything. FaM put on a fine little match to say farewell to 2K16. Roll on WWE 2K17!

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29/08/16 RAW Review – Kevin Owens Wins The Universal Championship, Triple H Turns On Seth Rollins

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Guess what? We’ve got a lot to talk about regarding the August 28th 2016 edition of Monday Night RAW. Indeed this will go down as an historic edition of the “flagship” WWE show, as a new Universal Champion was crowned in a shocking manner.

We had the fatal four way elimination match involving Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big Cass and Kevin Owens. Big Cass was eliminated after several moves to put the big man down, followed by a big frog splash from Kevin Owens for the clean pin over Cass. Then we had the finish, with an awesome three way battle between Rollins, Reigns and Owens. Reigns had the upper-hand and hit the spear on Seth on the outside, when TRIPLE H came from out of nowhere to give the Big Dog a pedigree on the floor. Triple H rolled Rollins and Reigns into the ring, and Rollins pinned Reigns to eliminate him.

This came down to the two heels in Rollins and Owens. So Triple H rolls Owens into the ring, picks up both men and hits ROLLINS with the pedigree. Owens, with a shocked look on his face, scurries over to pin Seth Rollins and become the champion. Triple H raises Owens’ hand as the fans chant “you deserve it” after Rollins and Reigns were both screwed! Kevin Owens is the new Universal Champion.

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Suffice to say that I was extremely shocked at this outcome. Literally the day before RAW, I told everyone that would listen on Twitter that Kevin Owens would not win and that Seth Rollins would become the champion. I ignored all of the reports of future plans and all that jazz, and stuck to my gut feeling. I thought to myself that there was no way they’d put the belt on Kevin Owens right now. Well low and behold, Kevin Owens is the champion and Seth Rollins was turned into a babyface due to the betrayal of Triple H.

What’s funny about all of this is that WWE posted an interview with Kevin Owens on social media, and Owens seemed so out of character when talking about this being the biggest night of his life. It was not like he was the boastful Kevin Owens character. He was calm and relaxed. During the opening talking segment with all four contenders on RAW, Owens seemed like the only one that was not his usual self. It made me think that possibly something was going to happen, but I still was going with Rollins.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Apologises to everyone on Twitter for me getting this one wrong, although this is one of the situations where I was kind of glad that I was wrong. They did pull off the title victory and the Rollins babyface turn really well. I was so shocked at what I was seeing and the fans were really into the main-event match. As far as the presentation of the whole thing, WWE knocked it out of the park.

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Now let’s ask the million dollar question… was this the right move? Somebody asked on me on Twitter last night about who I thought was going to win. I looked at every one of the challengers and I thought that nobody was really IN a good position to win the title at all!

Big Cass is clearly not ready to be wrestling at that level, although he did fit in and get pretty over last night. No complaints on how he was used and he didn’t seem out of place to me at all. I really didn’t want to see a Roman Reigns title reign right now, as I still feel that he should be as far away as possible from the world title at the moment so he can build himself up again. The Rusev stuff did help him out and to put the title back on him would be unwise at this point, so I ruled him out. As for Kevin Owens, I really didn’t think he was in a good position either. Considering that he’d been doing comedy segments with Chris Jericho for the last month, the idea that he’s suddenly supposed to be the top man in the company is a little far-fetched. Of course, Finn Balor’s injury did change plans for WWE. However, with the knowledge of hindsight, WWE should have used Owens better leading up to the title win. He didn’t even beat Neville clean last week!

Finally, Seth Rollins was also not in a good position either. Seth won the WWE World title at Money In The Bank but was quickly robbed of the title by Dean Ambrose following a cash-in. In Rollins’ title match on the RAW before Battleground, it ended in a draw. In Rollins’ title match on the SmackDown! before Battleground, he got beat clean. At Battleground itself, he was unsuccessful again. At SummerSlam, he got beat clean by Finn Balor. Him winning the title right now would not have made a lot of sense to me.

Then a report came through, before the show, suggesting that Seth was going to turn into a babyface. I thought about it and, with the exception of Money In The Bank and Battleground (where he wasn’t the one pinned), there was no real reason to want to feel sympathy for Seth up until this point. The injury that Finn Balor sustained during Seth’s powerbomb to the barricade spot also didn’t help out. Trying to get across the idea that Seth is now somebody to root seemed strange to me, considering everything that happened.

I still think that Seth will make a really good babyface, but I think that they really should have done this turn sooner rather than later. All the buzz about Seth following his return has came and went to be honest, and it’s hard to find sympathy for Seth according to the story.

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Regardless of this, the fans loved the show last night as well as the conclusion. I would assume that it’ll be Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins at Clash Of Champions. I’m not sure where Triple H and Chris Jericho will stand during all of this. Maybe Owens and Jericho will go their separate ways, although there was nothing last night that would suggest such a thing. Triple H and Seth Rollins could be a match down the road at WrestleMania possibly. I’m not sure that Triple H will be a regular on-screen figure on RAW, as that would lead to three authority figures on RAW. Unless Foley is fired and Triple H replaces him as general manager or something, I’m not particularly sure how this will work.

I will mention one more concern I have for Kevin Owens. I couldn’t help but make this comparison but this title win reminded me of Sheamus’ title win last year. Owens just came off as the right guy, in the right place and at the right time, as opposed to a legitimate champion. Not to mention that Triple H was the one that essentially gave Kevin Owens the championship, according to the storyline. HHH pedigreed Roman and Seth, so it was HHH’s move that beat the two men and not Kevin. Kevin’s only claim to fame was that he pinned Big Cass clean. That doesn’t bode well for his future, I think. At least if he’d hit the pop-up powerbomb, you’d be putting over Kevin’s finisher.

The impression I got from this was that Triple H was viewed as SO superior to everyone in this match, as it was his move that beat the two favourites going in. It’s not necessarily the end of the world for Kevin, but I feel that big wins on RAW and in pay-per-views are needed for Owens to legitimatise himself.

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I’m not sure what the plan is for RAW at the moment, although there’s rumours going around that Lesnar will be challenging for the Universal title at the Royal Rumble. Whether Owens makes it that long as champion remains to be seen but if there’s a chance he’s going up against Lesnar at the Rumble, he needs to get some serious victories under his belt.

Overall, I think this was a shocking start to a brand new storyline for the RAW main-event scene. I’m very thankfully that there’s some new blood in the title picture now, as we’ve really seen enough of Roman vs Seth for the time being. Maybe Roman can challenge Owens down the line but it looks like they’ve got some kind of plan for Owens, Rollins and HHH. I know Balor did get injured but in the week since last week’s RAW, surely they’ve got something in the works.

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Let me know by tweeting me @TomRobinson5199, @ArmbarExpress or by leaving a comment of what you think about the new Universal Champion. Is it the right time for Kevin to be champion? Should Seth’s babyface turn have been done sooner? What do you think will happen in the next few months! Let me know and let me just say this… RAW put on quite the show for SmackDown! to compete with this week!

How I Would Book… The Rock vs Dean Ambrose

The Rock has encountered some strange characters over the years in WWE. From throwing Shawn Stasiak over the top rope over and over again to losing to the Hurricane on Raw, a lot has happened in the career of the Great One. Wacky and unique characters bring out the best out of The Rock, so how about a lunatic fringe for a future program for the Brahma Bull? How about The Rock… vs Dean Ambrose?

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This is actually a very unique clash of styles. We’ve got the big hollywood movie star with an incredible physique against a lunatic with a hardcore mindset. There’s quite a difference in the two styles, although you could argue that Dean Ambrose would be very similar to Rock’s former tag team partner Mick Foley. However, Dean is much leaner than Mick but not as well built as The Rock.

In past How I Would Books, I’ve usually put Rock up against big men like John Cena and Roman Reigns. Dean Ambrose is not like them. Much like The Rock however, he is charismatic and talented in the ring. If The Rock wanted to throw down verbally and physically, Dean would be more than up for the challenge.

How to get to Dean Ambrose vs The Rock from this point on is very tricky. How do you give The Rock or Dean a reason to want to beat the tar out of each other? Do you have The Rock challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that Dean currently holds as of August 2016? Do you have Dean call out The Rock, feeling the need to face a megastar of the past to see if he’s as good as he thinks he is? No. What’s the one factor that could draw both these two into battle? Family.

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The one person that connects both Dean Ambrose and The Rock is Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns is related by blood to The Rock, with the People’s Champion saving the Big Dog on WWE television before. However, according to the storyline, Dean is probably closer to Roman than anyone else on the roster. They both refer to each other as brothers. It’s the connection between both men which could draw these two charismatic superstars together.

The bigger issue at the moment, when it comes to these two and Roman Reigns, is the WWE Draft. Roman Reigns is on RAW, Dean Ambrose is on SmackDown! and The Rock is currently undrafted. How are we going to develop a storyline involving all three men, while trying to preserve the idea of separate brands? I always preferred the idea of keeping RAW and SmackDown! as distant as possible. Therefore, with this in mind, let’s see if we can write a storyline without breaking those barriers TOO MUCH.

With that being said, we need to plant the seeds for a confrontation between Dean and Rock with Roman. Where’s the best place to start? The one pay-per-view coming up that will see the integration of the rosters… Survivor Series 2016.

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The whole idea behind this pay-per-view is to allow these rosters to interact after months away from each other. The whole idea behind the brand split is for these brands to compete with one another. My idea is after several months of taking shots at each other and the rise in competition, Stephanie and Foley would flat out call out Shane and Bryan for a inter-promotional five-on-five elimination match for Survivor Series. Team RAW would be consisted of Roman Reigns, Rusev, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Team SmackDown! would be consisted of Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. These teams are interchangeable so it’s up to you who you want in the match. The two essentials for this storyline though are Dean and Roman.

Due to the competitive nature of the brand split, it would be difficult for the commissioners and general managers to agree on a referee to call it down the middle. Remember what happened when RAW and SmackDown! feuded in 2005. In a couple of matches (notably at Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series), the RAW and SmackDown! referees would officiate the same match and prevent each other from making decisions. If WWE want to acknowledge the previous brand split, then this could make way for a special referee that would supposedly be impartial. Enter The Rock.

While I’m currently unaware of what The Rock’s filming schedule will be like in November, surely it’s possible for The Rock to appear as a referee. Not to mention that his inclusion will give the WWE the mainstream boost they need for one of the biggest pay-per-views involving both brands.

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The match comes down to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for RAW and Dean Ambrose for SmackDown!. Seth and Dean are the legal men. Roman accidentally clocks Seth with a spear when going for Dean. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on Roman as Seth comes to. Seth gets frustrated at his point, grabbing a chair. Seth goes to hit Roman but Rock stops him. He pushes Seth into Dean, who hits Dirty Deeds and eliminates him. Dean and Roman battle until Dean hits Dirty Deeds once again. As this happens, Seth gets to his feet on the outside and re-arms himself with the chair. The Rock sees this and goes after Seth, with Dean waiting in the ring for Rock to count Roman down. Rock eventually makes his way back into the ring but Roman kicks out at the last minute. Believing that Rock screwed him, Dean gets in his face. Rock hits a Rock Bottom on Dean, with Roman still out and oblivious to this. Roman gets to his feet, hits one more spear on Dean and pins him. Team RAW wins.

Now the seeds are starting to be planted. Rock screwed Dean but Dean can’t do anything about it… at least contractually. The Rock does make one more appearance on the night after Survivor Series, congratulating Roman and giving him his endorsement. This obviously gets boos as the fans didn’t like Roman and Rock screwing Dean. The Rock and Roman are cut off by Byron Saxton, who is told to go backstage as there are reports of wrestlers being taken out. He goes to the back but is launched right back onto the entrance ramp. Dean comes out and stares right at Rock. Dean comes down to the ring but Roman steps in between his “brother” and his blood. Roman tries to push Dean away but Dean retaliates with Dirty Deeds. Dean and Rock come to blows, drawing the attention of the security. Stephanie and Foley can’t afford for one of SmackDown!’s stars to cause havoc on RAW. Dean and Rock are pulled apart by security but Dean gets out. As he’s about to charge The Rock, Roman spears Dean out of his boots. This isn’t exactly a heel turn, but this does get negative reactions from the crowd.

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On SmackDown!, Dean makes weekly challenges to The Rock to fight him on Dean’s home turf in the blue brand. He says that he’ll forgive Roman for the spear from RAW, provided that he gets to fight Rock. Nothing happens up until the week before SmackDown!’s PPV in December. Let’s just say for now that this pay-per-view is TLC. Dean gets no word but Foley confronts him. Foley tells Dean that The Rock is a lot more dangerous than he lets on. He tells him to drop it but Dean is unwilling to listen. Dean tells Foley that HE has no idea how dangerous DEAN is, claiming to be just as extreme as any of your “ECW boys” from back in the day. Mick tells Dean to prove it and makes a challenge. While Foley can’t force The Rock to come out of hiding, he can organise a match with Dean and Roman for Royal Rumble. He will only do this if Dean defeats a free agent that is willing to make a one-off appearance in a tables match on SmackDown!’s pay-per-view. Dean agrees when the lights go out. The lights come back on and it’s Rob Van Dam. He takes out Dean with a chair and hits the frog splash. It’s ON now.

The reason I went with the lights out for RVD’s appearance is that it’s a callback to Jerry Lawler’s invasion of ECW at Wrestleaplooza 1997, when the lights went out and Jerry appeared with an alliance INVOLVING Rob Van Dam of all people. RVD might seem a random choice for an opponent for Dean, but he works with the hardcore style of the lunatic fringe. Dean wins the match, allowing him to fight Roman at the next inter-promotional pay-per-view in the Royal Rumble.

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What’s in it for Roman Reigns to  wrestle this match? How can Foley bargain with Roman? Simple. The promise of a Universal Championship match at FAST LANE if he wins. Him winning the title at Fast Lane means that Roman can main-event WrestleMania for a third year in a row… assuming a RAW wrestler wins the Royal Rumble that is. Dean is hungry for revenge but Roman is not exactly blood-thirsty himself. He only speared Dean on RAW as Dean attacked him first. He’s interested in winning the title and that’s that. Dean and Roman have choice words, with Roman having very LIMITED choice words. Dean’s deal is telling Roman that he should want to stop living in the Rock’s show. Rock bailed him out at Survivor Series, but he won’t be able to do it at Royal Rumble. Roman simply states that Dean is in his way for a title shot and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to beat his brother and main event WrestleMania again, something Dean’s never done.

At the Royal Rumble, it’s a close encounter. As Dean has Roman beat with Dirty Deeds, the lights go out. Trust me, there’s a purpose behind this one too! The lights come back on and there’s a jacked man in all-black, wearing a black mask. He lights up Dean with a huge clothesline. He takes the mask off and reveals himself to be… The Rock. He hits Dean with a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. Roman comes to and hits a spear to beat Dean again. The Rock officially accepts Dean Ambrose’s challenge and tells him to meet him at WrestleMania.

The finish can be what you desire, although a victory for Dean over The Rock would definitely get him super stardom.

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Roman could have some confrontation with The Rock, getting involved in his matches twice now but ultimately, there’s some sort of idea about how The Rock and Dean could come together. This was a very difficult one to write and maybe it seems like a simple storyline. However, on Rock’s side, not a lot is needed and not a lot can be done. His scheduling does provide issues but Dean can surely help spice things up on television for SmackDown! every week.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

 

 

Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha Dos Review

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Following the successful first season of Lucha Underground, anticipation for the second chapter of this arc certainly ran wild. With the ending of season one tying up loose ends but also preparing the show for a future season, you could tell that something big was on the horizon for these stars.

So far this season, we had our fair share of big moments. The reign of Mil Muetres and Catrina followed by the return of Dario Cueto and the debut of Matanza showed the struggle for power between wrestlers. Rey Mysterio making his way to the promotion also provided the star power that the lucha libre promotion was looking for while new stars like El Dragon Azteca quickly became prominent figures.

For me, the storyline aspect of the show was the most compelling thing about it. However, there were a lot of matches that really stood out during the course of season two. Matanza and Cage had one of the best big man matches I’ve seen in a long time, Rey Mysterio was still able to hang with even the greatest of wrestlers at the promotion while Aztec Warfare II was an incredible episode to sit through as well.

However, this four hour extravaganza would be the culmination of another season of storylines and drama. Pentagon Jr would challenge the monster Matanza, hoping to get revenge for Matanza almost breaking his back in their last match. Prince Puma wanted to prove that he was even better than arguably the greatest luchador of all time. There were a lot of matches that was very much looked forward to by the fans, but could the three part show deliver?

 

Part One

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The first episode in this trilogy saw Dario Cueto’s “Tournament 4 A Unique Opportunity” which saw a four man tournament take place. In the first round, Cage faced The Mack in a rematch from last year’s Ultima Lucha while Son Of Havoc took on Texano. Both matches were hardcore matches, with Cage and Mack having a falls count anywhere match as well as Son Of Havoc and Texano having a bar room brawl. I thought the Cage and Mack match was really good, which was expected when considering how great their match from last year was. I don’t think this match was better than last year’s but it was still good. The Son Of Havoc/Texano match was also not bad but I can’t help but think that it would have been a much better match without the hardcore stipulation.

Let me get the big criticism out of the way. I’m sure that hardcore fans loved all of this innovation with weapons but these stipulations took away from the lucha libre style of wrestling that lucha fans tuned in to see. Not to mention that having so many hardcore matches on the first show left the fans feeling less excited for hardcore angles down the line, like the Death match with Mil Muetres and King Cuerno. Regardless, The Mack and Son Of Havoc won. They faced off in a short falls count anywhere match, which Son Of Havoc won.

Dario Cueto came out with two briefcases and gave Son Of Havoc one of two options. Son Of Havoc could choose between $250,000 or a Lucha Underground title shot at Ultima Lucha Tres. Son Of Havoc then claimed that it wouldn’t matter if there were $250 MILLION in that briefcase, he would want the title shot. Now, I understand putting the title over as if this was the most important thing in the world to a wrestler. However, would anyone really pass up on $250 MILLION just for a title shot? It seemed like a ludicrous claim to me, that the Lucha Underground title was worth more than $250 million. That’s probably more than what Lucha Underground is worth. Heck, I’m sure you could start a very strong wrestling promotion with $250 million and make YOURSELF a champion!

Havoc takes the title shot, which of course sprung a trap. Dario revealed that Havoc would only get the title shot if he won one more match. If his opponent won, that opponent would get the $250,000. Famous B then came out to reveal the opponent, who was his new client. It was a pretty big client for Famous B as it was revealed that Son Of Havoc’s opponent was Dr Wagner Jr.

This was a pretty big reveal. Dr Wagner Jr won in about two minutes, much to the delight of Famous B and his girl Brenda. I liked the whole culmination of Famous B’s quest to find the right client and in the end, he found a client that was already famous. I was kind of let down by the fact that I was expecting him to actually show up with a lesser-known name. I get the reveal that he found a client that was already famous, but Famous B’s whole service was about GETTING people famous. Dr Wagner Jr contradicting that was a little disappointing. I guess that’s a heel for you!

 

Part Two

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The “main attraction” of part two was the Gift of the Gods championship match, which was a seven person elimination match. Cage cashed in his title shot a few weeks before so a new champion had to be crowned. Sexy Star, Marty the Moth, Mariposa, Killshot, Night Claw, Daga and Sinestro de la Muerte were the seven entrants. The one thing which really got to me about the match was that the very best wrestlers in this match were eliminated the earliest. Killshot, Night Claw and Daga are all tremendous workers, so seeing them eliminated before the likes of Sexy Star and Marty the Moth felt like a slap in the face to those talents. Night Claw, who was debuting, looked awesome in this match. He eliminated two men and probably was the most over out of the bunch, before being eliminated.

It was down to Marty The Moth, Mariposa and Sexy Star, with the heels ganging up on Sexy Star. Mariposa was eliminated after Marty accidentally punched her in the face. I love how Mariposa’s origin story, according to Marty, was that she was part of a tribe of great warriors, yet she was eliminated her from a mere punch from her brother. Unless Marty has a punch that is equal in power to the Big Show’s WMD, I find it very hard to believe that Mariposa would be done after just one punch.

Sexy beat Marty to win the Gift of the Gods title. I know Lucha Underground wants to promote the idea of the women being just as good as the men, with two of the final three of this match being women. I’m also not totally against the idea of inter-gender wrestling, although I would go forward with extreme caution when booking such a program. If a woman is over enough and talented enough, she can wrestle the very best male athletes for all I care. That’s if the woman IS over enough and talented enough. Sexy Star wasn’t over enough, I don’t think. Sexy Star is not talented enough either. She’s an OK female wrestler but there’s only a handful of male wrestlers on the roster worse than Sexy Star. Every one else is miles ahead, so the idea that Sexy is supposed to be on par with these men is pretty unbelievable… even for Lucha Underground.

Next up was a “death match” between Mil Muertes and King Cuerno, which was essentially a no disqualification match. There was no murdering going on, but Mil sure did destroy King Cuerno. They brawled, with the heel Cuerno being more of a showboater while Mil was all about bringing the power game. Cuerno took a lot of punishment in this match, including rolling down the stairs. Their fight led them to the stage where the band that was playing were hanging out. Mil no-sold his head being thrown into a window. Cuerno put his hands on Catrina, which was the beginning of the end for Cuerno. Muertes put Cuerno through three tables with powerbombs, hit him with a crowbar, hit a tombstone and won. This was a fun no disqualification match, which did a great job with the two characters. Muertes was allowed to be a big, badass heavy hitter and Cuerno sold like crazy during the onslaught.

During the show, Mr Cisco was wired by Cortez Castro and Joey Ryan to meet with Dario Cueto. Cortez re-assued him by telling Cisco that Dario wasn’t going to kill… all the motivation one needs to meet with an sociopath! Cisco was doing this in order to clear himself of all charges. So Cisco meets with Dario, with Joey and Cortez listening in. Cisco claimed that he wanted to be in on whatever Dario was planning. It almost kind of worked with the storyline, as Cisco was so bad when acting here that Dario saw right through him. He asked if Cisco was wearing a wire and it was revealed. He grabs the mic and asks the cops to come get him. He asks if the cops wanted him for murder, quickly following up by saying if they weren’t before they would now. He grabbed the red bull from his office and killed Cisco with it by bashing him in the head. A very good scene which I’ll get more into later when I discuss the final scene of the season.

 

Part Three

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At the start of part three, Vampiro gave Pentagon Jr some last minute training before his match with Matanza. In a scene similar to the Empire Strikes Back moment where Luke goes into the cave, Pentagon Jr went into a similar cave and fought his own demons. He eventually bested Vampiro, who told him that he was ready.

The two-hour final part began with Drago, Fenix and Aero Star challenging Johnny Mundo, PJ Black and Jack Evans for the Trios Championship. A very fun and action-packed trios match as usual. When you put six wrestlers as good as these six together, a lot of great stuff will happen. I would argue that it was a bit too much, especially with Angelico’s return to get revenge on Mundo, but it didn’t bother me too much. Everyone worked well with each other and Drago, Fenix and Aero Star ended up winning the belts. Fenix became the first person to achieve the Lucha Underground Grand Slam, winning the Lucha Underground, Trios and Gift Of The Gods titles. I think that Fenix accomplishing the feat in two seasons, as well as winning all of the belts in the same season for that matter, hurts the prestige of the titles a little. However, at least there were good stories told in the build up to each of his title reigns. Therefore, I don’t really have a problem with it. It wasn’t like complete title hot-shots or anything. A great opener to the show.

El Dragon Azteca faced Black Lotus. Initially, this was a really weird match. It started off as a normal match and then El Dragon Azteca took control. He was the aggressor in this inter-gender match and the fans died down a little. Trying to promote the idea of a babyface male against a heel female in a match is really hard to do, as how are the fans supposed to root for the heroes in that situation? Heck, El Dragon Azteca was shown to be vastly superior to Black Lotus. Then Pentagon came into beat up both wrestlers, causing a no contest. He broke both their arms, and that was the end of this grudge match between Black Lotus and El Dragon Azteca. No satisfying conclusion to their entire program AT ALL. Ended in four minutes by a man that hadn’t had any interaction with either character up until this point. This led to Vampiro announcing that this was not Pentagon Jr, but now Pentagon Dark.

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Pentagon Dark cut an awesome promo in Spanish, which was thankfully subtitled. Even if it wasn’t, you can tell that Pentagon always shows some serious passion in his promos and the fans hang on to every word he says. He told the crowd that he was Pentagon Dark and wanted to fight Matanza now. Matanza came out, meaning that the Lucha Underground title match was the third match on the five-match card for this final part. I personally would have put this in the main-event although at least the position of the match made more sense with the ending of the show in mind.

This was a really great match to watch and I’ll explain why. The whole idea behind this transformation of Pentagon Dark was to show that this was not the same man as before. After training from Vampiro, he has become a totally different person to the man that fought Matanza and got destroyed. Therefore, the rematch was structured much differently than the first match. It’s not like when John Cena gets angry and the announcers say that this was a new John Cena, even though he wrestles exactly the same. Pentagon destroyed Matanza this time around as the training of Vampiro paid off. He destroyed Matanza, had the match won until Vampiro whipped out a bat wrapped in barbed-wire. This barbed wire bat would end up being Pentagon’s undoing as Dario’s involvement caused Matanza to grab the bat and use it on Pentagon. He hit him in the back with the bat, hit his finishing powerslam and just pinned him. I will criticise the ending just a little, as the series had previously shown Pentagon being able to take Negan-like barbed-wire bat shots TO THE HEAD from Vampiro. He took a hit from the back, was hit with Matanza’s finisher and beaten. I thought, after taking 90% of the match, that Pentagon getting beat like that was rather underwhelming. Other than that, it was a great match. Vampiro, who stopped taking his meds after part two to train Pentagon a little more, went back on them after this match.

Taya wrestled Ivelisse. A decent women’s match which saw Taya win and Catrina attack Ivelisse with a jawbreaker of some type. It appears that Catrina will be wrestling during season three, which I’m a little worried about. Catrina, as Maxine in WWE, was still a part of the worst women’s match I’ve ever seen in NXT along with Kaitlyn in 2010. How far Maxine has progressed in more than five years is unknown, but I do pray to all the Aztec gods that she’s good enough to be able to do decent work with the likes of Ivelisse.

The main-event was Rey Mysterio vs Prince Puma. This was an incredible match, with magnificent chemistry and great story-telling aspects to it. It was the up-and-comer Prince Puma needing to do whatever he could to beat the legend Mysterio. The crowd was into every move and the drama was there. This is a legitimate contender for the best Lucha Underground match of all time. There’s just one small complaint I have and it’s Matt Striker on commentary. He was not suited to call a match like this. Firstly, there were a lot of times when he was calling the match more like a fan than a legitimate commentator. Him calling a particular spot the “I’m sorry, I love you” moment felt so tacky and almost unprofessional if you will. Did you really need to tell the audience what was going on between Mysterio and Puma, when Puma found it hard to find the strength to put away this legend? Secondly, after Mysterio won, Matt Striker made an absurd claim about this being the future of Lucha Libre. If Prince Puma won the match, I could buy that line. However, the veteran Mysterio beat the future in Prince Puma! If Rey Mysterio is the future of Lucha Libre, then Lucha Libre is not going to be great shape should Rey retire in the next few years!

At the end of the show, Pentagon Dark attacked Vampiro. Vampiro was off his meds, so Pentagon just simply beat him up effortlessly. It was a pretty bloody beatdown. He did this because Vampiro introduced the barbed-wire bat in his match when he didn’t need to. Along with that, after telling Pentagon that he was ready, Vampiro introducing the bat proved that he still didn’t have enough faith in him so Pentagon was angry. Pentagon came off as such a star after Ultima Lucha Dos was finished.

The big ending saw Dario Cueto arrested and taken away in a police van. While in the back of the van, Dario simply smiled. And that was that…

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Overall, it was a good four hour event. We didn’t get any really good stuff until the Death Match but we did get some really great matches following that. The Pentagon Dark/Matanza match was great and the Rey Mysterio/Prince Puma match was a wondrous match. I thought the ending of the season fell flat to me, considering how great the finale of last season was as it tied up the loose ends. Following this, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions and a lot of stuff that needs explaining. Let’s hope that we get some answers in season three, which begins in September.

How I Would Book… Who Ran Over Stone Cold?

SPOILER ALERT from fifteen years ago, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume that nearly every wrestling fan on earth knows that Rikishi ran over Stone Cold with a car. Even if you were not watching wrestling during the attitude era, the WWE have referenced the storyline several times on WWE YouTube videos, the WWE Network and even on episodes of RAW and SmackDown! Many fans and wrestling experts over the years have criticised the WWF’s decision to have Rikishi be behind the attempted murder of the top wrestler in the company. With that said, are there many other solutions that would have been better than Rikishi? Could I have booked the “Who Ran Over Stone Cold” storyline better than WWE? Well, let’s find out!

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Before we dive into the analysis of Rikishi as the culprit, let’s run down the storyline itself from Survivor Series 1999 to Survivor Series 2000.

Stone Cold Steve Austin had been embroiled in a triple threat WWF Championship feud with the champion Triple H and The Rock. A triple threat match was promoted for Survivor Series 1999 and a triple threat match was ended up what we got. Unfortunately, it did not include the Texas Rattlesnake. Triple H provoked Austin during a backstage interview before the match. This led Austin towards the parking lot, where he was ran down by an unidentified assailant.

Austin was sidelined for nearly a year, to take care of actually injuries that he was working with at the time. He returned at Backlash 2000 for a one-off appearance to help The Rock against Triple H and made his full return to the WWF at Unforgiven 2000. He was on a quest to track down the man who had ran him over, even not pressing charges as a means to lure the man out. Austin’s methods of tracking down the attempted killer included interfering in several matches, getting on the bad side of Commissioner Mick Foley. Foley suspended Austin, conducting his own investigation into the crime.

After major suspects like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kurt Angle and The Rock were called out, Foley eventually got to the bottom of the case. Stone Cold Steve Austin was actually ran over… by Rikishi.

Rikishi, who had not appeared on WWF television yet when Austin was ran down, admitted to the crime. He claimed that he did it for The Rock, as the WWF had been keeping down Samoans like himself and The Rock for years. Austin was getting in the way of The Rock’s success, leading to Rikishi doing what he did. This led to Austin getting his revenge on Rikishi, destroying the big man in a No Holds Barred match and then trying to hit RIKISHI with a truck.

The plot thickened for the Austin mystery, as it would later be revealed that Triple H was secretly the one that had orchestrated the hit-and-run and put Rikishi up to do it.

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The biggest problem with the official solution is that it almost seemed like the culprit was too random to be a legitimate suspect. Mick Foley even mentioned it during the reveal that Rikishi wasn’t even in the WWF at the time of the hit-and-run. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that the WWF had no idea who the suspect would end up being when they shot the angle. Rikishi’s initial reasoning  for running down Austin seemed very out-of-place, as it didn’t seem enough of a justification to explain Rikishi going after Austin. Rikishi wanting to help out The Rock could be viable but the whole Samoans being held down story had nothing to do with Austin. Yeah, Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers of all time and is a 100% American. However, it’d still seem odd that Rikishi would resort to murder because of this.

Now obviously, Triple H being thrown in as the mastermind behind of the whole thing did sort of write out this explanation a little. Rikishi still could have theoretically felt how he did about The Rock and the Samoan lineage, but Triple H does give Rikishi more of a valid reason for running down Austin. After all, Triple H was the one that led Austin out into the parking lot and hated his guts. Him getting Rikishi to run down Austin makes a lot more sense than Rikishi doing it for his Samoan lineage.

While Triple H being the mastermind does involve someone that was a big part of the story at the time of the attack, Rikishi played no part in the story at all. Rikishi was a joyful babyface that got over with his dance moves more than his ruthless aggression. There seemed to be no hint of Rikishi possibly having a dark side to him, so him all of a sudden being an attempted murder does seem a bit unfathomable. It’s actually funny when watching back Rikishi’s run ins with Triple H and the McMahon-Helmsley regime in 2000. Rikishi feuded with Triple H, and even faced him for the WWF Championship one time, while secretly having conspired with him to commit attempted murder! Then again, Rikishi running down Austin would explain why Triple H would give Rikishi a title shot in the first place. I guess that was Rikishi’s grand reward.

In a way, Rikishi being the culprit was good for attempting to get over the next big star in WWE. Rikishi did get elevated as a main-event heel but ultimately ended up flopping in that role. Sticking your backside in people’s faces doesn’t exactly come off as an evil thing to do. Considering it’s Rikishi’s rear end though, I guess it kind of is! Rikishi really didn’t work as a badass, monster heel and quickly turned back into a babyface just before the Invasion angle kicked off.

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When coming up with an alternative solution, we need to think of people that not only were relevant to the story but were also strong enough to be able to work as a top heel. As much as someone like Kurt Angle being the culprit would make sense, as he would have been someone that would gain from Austin being out of the picture, he would have no real motivation other than that. It’s not like he would have met Austin at the time, as he made his in-ring debut at Survivor Series 1999 itself. As much as fans would believe this to be a fitting irony-pleasing solution, Angle doesn’t work in this role for me.

Then you’ve got to think about the other big culprits that were highlighted as the two prime suspects by Mick Foley. Triple H would have been too obvious of a culprit, even though he wounded up being written into the official solution anyway. Right after Austin was ran down, Vince McMahon immediately accused Triple H and D-Generation X of committing the crime. Him being the culprit would be rather anti-climatic.

The Rock, on the other hand, became the top babyface when Austin wasn’t around. As outlined by Mick Foley, The Rock (as well as Triple H) had the most to gain from Austin being out of the picture. At the time of Austin’s return, The Rock was the WWF Champion. Being the top babyface, his popularity rose to new heights. With The Rock being suspected so heavily leading into the official solution, him also being the suspect would be another anti-climatic reveal. Another reason for the Brahma Bull not being culprit is that the WWF would be passing up on some serious merch sales with The Rock now being viewed as a villain.

Really, we’re looking for someone that you’d least suspect. Someone that had been shown to be sinister enough to pull off devious acts like this in the past. We’re looking for someone that would do something as a means to fulfil a much grander master plan. Who would fill this role? Why it is someone that did feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1999. It is someone that wasn’t actually there at Survivor Series 1999 and was unaccounted for. It was someone that has a history for making his foes rest in peace. The man that should have been the culprit was… the Undertaker.

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This may be a tough pill to swallow. The Undertaker did only come back as a babyface American Badass in May 2000. It would be somewhat of a letdown to see this new babyface run down our beloved Stone Cold. Then again, considering Undertaker would turn heel just a year later anyway, I think we can work a turn into this angle without hurting the Undertaker.

If you think about it, Undertaker is one of the rare people in the Attitude Era that would actually resort to murder so casually. He’s set his brother on fire repeatedly and even hanged Big Boss Man following their WrestleMania 15 Hell in a Cell match. Heck, he’s even faced Steve Austin in a Buried Alive match. I think it’s safe to say that he’d be willing to run over Austin with a corner.

The biggest issue with this is simple, and it’s actually what Kurt Angle mentioned on an edition of SmackDown! when HE was accused of running over Austin. One of the biggest parts of a murder mystery is motive. What’s the Undertaker’s motive? Why would he turn his attentions to Steve Austin? Well I have a question for you in response… why does the culprit’s motivation have to necessarily be focused at the victim? Obviously, some sort of disdain has to be present in order to consider attempting murder and Taker did feud with Austin that same year. However, what if Undertaker’s motivation was not to solely eliminate AUSTIN from the equation. While taking out Steve Austin was an added bonus, Undertaker’s real end-game was to mess with the man that had forced him to leave the WWF. Undertaker’s real end-game was in fact to remove Mr McMahon from power.

In September 1999, Undertaker “left” the WWF after refusing to take part in a Casket match with Triple H. Mr McMahon threatened to take away Undertaker’s spot in the WWF title match at Unforgiven, leading to the Undertaker walking out of the company. Jim Ross specifically stated when Undertaker made his return at Judgement Day 2000 that he was “going after McMahon” when challenging the Faction. Clearly, some hostility still exists between the two men. After all, McMahon losing power in the WWF in 1999 led to the Undertaker losing the WWF Championship and never gaining an opportunity to get it back. This could have been Undertaker’s ultimate revenge, especially after blindly following Vince’s orders when he was the “higher power” of the Corporate Ministry.

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Picture it like this. Mr McMahon was the first one shown to be outraged after Austin was run over… other than Jim Ross I guess. McMahon lashes out at DX following the incident. Knowing how much McMahon hated Triple H at the time and with Triple H’s title match with two other men coming up later that night, obviously Vince would come to the conclusion that DX was behind it. This is the Undertaker being the puppet-master, pulling McMahon’s strings by taking out one of the competitors in the running to dethrone Triple H as WWF Champion. In response, McMahon inserts the Big Show into the WWF Championship match and Big Show wins the title because of Vince. Just prior to his departure from the WWF, Undertaker had been teaming with the Big Show as part of an unholy alliance. It makes perfect sense that Taker would reward Big Show by manipulating events in order to get the title on the big man.

From behind the scenes, Undertaker is causing dysfunction within the McMahon family. Let’s start of with Stephanie, who turned on her dad and aligned with Triple H at Armageddon. Undertaker was the one that had abducted Stephanie, following the orders of Mr McMahon. Little work needed to be done on Taker’s end, with Mr McMahon having pushed Triple H’s buttons by costing him the championship at Survivor Series. McMahon made things personal with Triple H, so Triple H retaliated. Of course, Triple H hatches a master plan with Stephanie. Stephanie wanted to get revenge at her father for the abduction plan from before so she went with the man that Mr McMahon hated the most. Vince is being torn apart as daddy’s little girl has been taken away from him by the enemy.

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Shane and Linda would also get involved, leading to the WrestleMania 2000 fatal four way match with the McMahons in every corner. McMahon would be emotionally torn by having to compete with three members of his family. Not a lot can be said about the Undertaker during this period as he really can’t do much else to mess with McMahon until he comes back. Why not have McMahon regain control with Triple H and Stephanie? If he’s in charge by the time Undertaker comes back, Undertaker can be there to personally remove him from power again. At Judgement Day, his crusade with McMahon begins. He attacks him and the McMahon-Helmsley regime during the big Triple H/Rock Iron Man match. His main intentions when he comes back is to fight the regime, oust McMahon from power and win the WWF Championship. At King Of The Ring, The Rock wins the WWF Championship instead of him during a big six man tag team match but it’s not too much of a loss as at least the regime didn’t win. Undertaker will get back at The Rock, which I will get to later.

Following King Of The Ring, Vince left to become a “genetic jackhammer” while Mick Foley took over. It would have been better to say that the beatings from Undertaker, Rock etc. would force him to leave but as long as McMahon is gone. Now Undertaker can try to win back some gold. He does this initially by going after the tag team titles with Kane and then feuding with his brother. Not a lot happens for the Undertaker at this point, but he does get involved in the WWF title picture at Unforgiven 2000. How ironic, considering that he was initially barred by Mr McMahon from getting a title shot at Unforgiven last year. Here’s where I would change things up. Instead of Undertaker failing to win the championship, he wins the title in a fatal four way match also involving the champion Rock, Kane and Chris Benoit. On the very same night that Taker wins the title, Austin makes his return to WWF.

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Austin coming back is an unexpected and unwanted situation for the Undertaker. With his title reign only just getting started, Mick Foley and Austin beginning their investigations, and The Rock getting his rematch at No Mercy, how does the Undertaker turn the attention and suspicion away from himself? Why simple. Turn The Rock and Austin against each other. It is suddenly played up by Undertaker and a number of other wrestlers about how The Rock had to most to gain from Austin being ran over. This builds up all the way to No Mercy, where The Rock challenges Undertaker for the WWF Championship. Austin was initially suspended by Mick Foley, but Foley reinstates Austin after getting an anonymous tip that the culprit would reveal himself at the pay-per-view.

Up until the main event, we get no word from the culprit. Nobody comes clean. Ausitn doesn’t hear anything. Then the main-event comes around, with Austin coming down and going crazy. He pulls the referee out of the ring and grabs a chair. He sees and targets Taker, going for a chair shot but accidentally nailing The Rock. Undertaker then hits Austin with a chokeslam. Undertaker takes advantages and retains the title when the referee awakes. Undertaker then picks up a chair and unleashes hell on Austin and The Rock. Undertaker grabs the mic and laughs. He then asks the question of who had the most to gain from Austin being run over. He simply replies by saying “me” and that Austin’s search was over. Undertaker was the one that ran over Austin.

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Austin initially challenges Taker for the title at Survivor Series 2000, with it ending in a no contest after Austin takes out Taker in a similar fashion to Triple H in real life. Undertaker retains the title at Armageddon 2000. Then Mick Foley resigns as Commissioner which changes everything. Undertaker would have mentioned in an explanation that he did what he did to remove Austin and McMahon out of the equation and win the WWF title. Now Vince is back and in charge. Therefore, McMahon is going to make Undertaker pay. Undertaker vs The Rock is booked for Royal Rumble, with Vince’s reasoning being to make amends with The Rock after Vince turned on him at WrestleMania 2000. Sure. Whatever works. Undertaker loses the championship following interference from Stone Cold. Stone Cold wins the Royal Rumble itself, leading to No Way Out. Instead of Triple H, Undertaker is the one that faces and beats Stone Cold in a three stages of hell match.

That effectively is when the storyline ends. However, with Steve Austin and Mr McMahon’s alliance after WrestleMania 17, there is a lot more potential with the dynamic of Undertaker, McMahon and Austin. Imagine Stone Cold Steve Austin working with the boss to take out the man that tried to kill him. You could do the Power Trip angle if you’d like, having Undertaker and Kane battle Austin and Triple H. This could also add a lot to the Invasion angle, especially when it comes to Austin and Taker. You could have Austin and Taker initially not trust each and then eventually bury the hatchet (well bury the hatchet as much as you could, considering Taker tried to kill the man). Alternatively, you could have Austin join the Alliance and led the group against the WWF led by the Undertaker. The possibilities are endless.

Or if you’d prefer for the storyline to finish at WrestleMania 17, simply have Undertaker hold the championship all the way to WrestleMania. Austin wins the Rumble and Undertaker is the WWF Champion. This leads to the ultimate showdown in Texas between Austin and the man that ran him over more than a year ago. In the ultimate act of revenge for Undertaker running him over, Austin makes a deal with the devil himself Vince McMahon. McMahon was manipulated by Undertaker for so long, so Vince helped Austin DEFEAT the Undertaker at WrestleMania. The streak and Undertaker’s title reign is ended by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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That about wraps up this edition of How I Would Book. I have to admit, this one was rather fun to write. I’d seen many different solutions but after thinking of a number of different options, Undertaker being the mastermind actually fits in with the storyline well. I’d love to hear of any other alternative solutions from fans so feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @TomRobinson5199. Don’t just do it for me. Do it… for The Rock. Thanks for reading everyone.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!