31/08/2015 RAW PREVIEW: Sting Opens RAW As The Road To Night Of Champions Begin

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Last week on RAW, we were coming off an eventful Summerslam. Undertaker defeated Brock Lesnar in controversial fashion, leading to Brock taking his frustration out on poor Bo Dallas. John Cena attacked Jon Stewart in retaliation for Stewart costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. A new member of the Wyatt Family was introduced. The Dudley Boyz made a surprise return to RAW, attacking the New Day and declaring themselves back for good! And to end the whole show, Sting returned to WWE for the first time since the night after Wrestlemania.

So the road to Night Of Champions is under way, and we’ve still got a lot of ground to cover. So far, only one championship match has been announced for the PPV. However, we can expect at least one more title match to be announced tonight.

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Sting made his big return to RAW last week by attacking Seth Rollins and hoisting up the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. After this attack, Triple H quickly announced Sting vs Seth Rollins for Night of Champions with the WWE World Heavyweight title on the line. Sting being in the title hunt is very interesting. It’s not like Sting’s wrestling capabilities is limited. So the idea of Sting winning the WWE World title just once is very appealing. However, it seems kind of strange that after losing his last match to Triple H, Sting is suddenly the number one contender for the WWE World title. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on RAW tonight as it’s been announced that Sting WILL be opening RAW tonight. WWE confirmed it with this tweet.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsIt’ll be interesting to see what happens when Sting gets to RAW. You’ve got to think that Seth should get some momentum under his belt by taking out the Stinger this week? It’s still unclear what Sting’s contract is like with WWE. We don’t know if he’s got a limited number of dates or if he can just be called upon whenever. Either way, WWE needs to make good use of him while he’s here tonight. 

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Sting becoming the number one contender also provides an interesting question. If Sting is wrestling for the title then what will happen to the former number one contender John Cena? John was last shown to have AA’d Stewart for costing him the title. The Authority prevented Cena from getting involved in Seth Rollins’ statue-unveiling. With Sting now stepping up, what does this mean for Cena?

It’s important to note that Cena still has a rematch clause for his United States Championship. Could he cash it in tonight? Could he cash it in at Night of Champions? What could happen tonight is that Cena could invoke his rematch clause and Sting could cost Seth the US title. You never know. I don’t see Cena being added to the main event of Night of Champions to make it a triple threat. So he might just move onto somebody new. Whether he does that as US Champion remains to be seen. 

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There’s been one match announced for RAW so far. It’s a rematch from Summerslam as Rusev takes on Dolph Ziggler. They confirmed it with this tweet.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI am praying that we have a clear cut winner in this match. If you read my Summerslam review, you’ll know how incensed I was when they ended their match in a double count out. I thought they robbed the fans out of an interesting finish that could have saved this lackluster storyline. So the storyline is still continuing and I highly doubt that it will finish tonight. I also doubt that there will be a clean win for either one of these gentlemen. I sense another non-finish happening to continue this storyline…. JUST to make me mad. I’m not looking forward to this one.

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The Dudley Boyz returned to attack the new WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day, and it looks like they’re here to stay. They beat the Ascension on SmackDown! and they’ll probably be on RAW tonight. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Prime Time Players or the Dudley Boyz will be competing for the titles at Night Of Champions. The Prime Time Players are still owed a rematch for the tag titles so they might just invoke that rematch clause tonight. Therefore, the Dudley Boyz could just face the New Day at Night of Champions. However, it’s hard to say if that’ll happen or they’ll just do a triple threat tag team match or something. Either day, I’m looking forward to seeing the New Day!

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There’s also been something else announced for RAW. As I blogged about yesterday, a Beat The Clock Challenge has been announced featuring all three members of the PCB. The winner goes onto Night Of Champions to face Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship. This last week has been horrible for the Divas Revolution storyline. Do read my Divas Revolution post at this link to read about how I feel about that. However, at least they’re changing things up from their constant tag team matches. This week could possibly turn the storyline around. However, WWE will really have to step up their game. I’d like to see Sasha Banks involved some how as she actually has a claim for a title shot, as she actually beat Nikki Bella on RAW two weeks ago. It’ll be interesting to see if she gets involved. However, WWE really have to step it up in order to salvage this storyline.

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There’s a lot more ground to cover as well. Will the feud between Randy Orton and Sheamus continue? Will the feud between Cesaro and Kevin Owens continue? Who will challenge Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship at Night Of Champions? What’s the deal with the new Wyatt member Braun Stowman? A lot of questions will be answered tonight. WWE pulled off a good RAW last week so let’s hope they can continue to build on it this week.

The End Of The Revolution?: Are The WWE Divas Doomed?

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Previously on this blog, I did a blog post on the Divas Revolution and how it was affecting the Divas Championship reign of Nikki Bella. I argued that the Divas Revolution was really hurting Nikki Bella’s title reign, as Nikki had not defended the Divas title in over 30 days. As of me writing this post, it will have been 50 days I believe. The commentators were suggesting that “Team Bella” having the championship meant that they were the ones dominating this feud. But if she wasn’t defending the championship, than the commentators’ argument doesn’t really have any validation. Still, at least the audience still cared enough about these women for the storyline to be a bit of a success. That was until WWE’s three nights in Brooklyn at NXT TakeOver, Summerslam and RAW.

Things got off to a promising start. I never blogged about this, but the NXT Women’s Championship match between Sasha Banks and Bayley completely stole the show at NXT TakeOver. It was the end to an incredible journey for Bayley and the ending segment involving the Four Horsewomen was an incredible celebration of how much women’s wrestling had come in NXT. However, things started to go south for the Divas Revolution. Then came along Summerslam

The Three Team Elimination match between PCB, Team Bella and Team B.A.D. was not a bad match. At least, it was not bad compared to your average divas match. There were a few moments that were off. For example, every diva forget how to catch each other apparently during the diving frenzy spot. However, the fans’ interest in this match really disappeared after Team B.A.D. was eliminated. Sasha Banks was the most over person in the match and they eliminated her first, leading the fans to just completely lose interest when it was down to PCB and Team B.A.D. On RAW, things got worse…

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In a segment of MizTV, The Miz interviewed Paige, Becky Lynch and Charlotte which was interrupted by Nikki Bella, Brie Bella and Alicia Fox. The Team Bella promo was not good and the only person in the ring that got cheered, was The Miz. The heel movie star wannabe character was cheered the most out of the seven people in this segment. This crowd didn’t care at all for PCB or Team Bella. They didn’t care when PCB was about to beat up The Miz. And then there was a six man tag team match between PCB and Team Bella which really tarnished the entire Divas Revolution…

The match itself was not bad. It was just pretty boring. So the fans, in order to get themselves hyped up for the show again, completely hijacked this match. The fans chanted for JBL, the fans chanted for Sasha Banks (who was not on RAW at all), they did the wave and chanted for everything expect anyone in this match!

I don’t really endorse the fans hijacking the show just to put themselves over and to go into business for themselves BUT these are the same fans that likely got #GiveDivasAChance trending on Twitter in the first place. They are most likely the fans that wanted to see women given a chance to put on a show for the fans that might have paid to see them. MOST IMPORTANTLY, most of these fans are the SAME FANS and in the SAME ARENA that popped big time for Bayely and Sasha Banks tearing the house down two days before! Two days after Bayley and Sasha Banks, the fans would rather chant “JBL” than watch this match. So you cannot blame the same fans that wanted change in the divas division for it’s failures at the moment. Especially you cannot blame them, if you are one of the divas involved in the storyline…

Paige sent out a tweet after the RAW match, which was quickly deleted. Thankfully, somebody screenshotted it so I’m going to post it below.

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Nikki Bella also went onto Instagram and sent out this…

Brie Bella also went onto Instagram to tell Brooklyn to “kiss her ass”. I’m sure these women were frustrated with the chants they were getting as they were putting their bodies on the line in the ring. I understand all of that. But I will say this again… this was the SAME FANS in the SAME ARENA that was going nuts for Bayley vs Sasha Banks at TakeOver! Nikki talked about the fans disrespecting women. Well that’s obviously not the case if it’s the same fans that watched Bayley vs Sasha Banks. Now of course, that does beg the question… WHY did these fans care more about Bayley vs Sasha Banks than the Divas Revolution?

WHY did fans care more about a NXT Women’s title match which needed little promotion going into it than a heavily promoted storyline involving the nine top divas on the roster which was endorsed by Stephanie McMahon? It’s very simple…. the differences in storylines.

The storyline for Bayley vs Sasha Banks has been something which has been building for months, much like the Divas Revolution. Bayley has came close time and time again, but has fallen at the final hurdle time and time again. The promo video they played before that match emphasized this tremendously. Especially when Bayley was talking about her family being there at everyone one of her title shots beforehand. You could get invested into her story because she was treated like a star. Sasha Banks, the NXT Womens Champion, was treat like a star. The divas in the Divas Revolution storyline were not treat like stars.

What happened to divas was they had a promising segment on RAW where Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Charlotte all debuted at the same time. While that was cool to see and the fans were going nuts for it, it gave WWE a huge problem. Chris Jericho said it best on his podcast – WWE were trying to promote three new divas all that the same time. Not only that, but they have to promote the six other divas involved in this storyline too. Therefore, there’s not enough time for the WWE to work on the storylines for these specific characters.

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I’m going to begin paraphrasing Vinny from the Bryan and Vinny show on Wrestler Observer, because he made an excellent point regarding the potential storylines this women ALREADY have but the WWE are not picking up on.

  • Charlotte, being the daughter of arguably the greatest wrestler in WWE history, has huge pressure on her to succeed and she’s doing that. That’s a great story. When she was talking about wanting to main event Wrestlemania a few weeks ago, that was a great line because at least Charlotte made it sound like she was passionate about wanting to accomplish things that no woman has ever done before.
  • Becky Lynch has been through a lot, having started from Ireland and worked around the world just to make it to the WWE. That’s a great story.
  • Paige‘s entire family wrestles and she is the only one that is currently in the WWE, waving the flag for her family. That’s a great story.
  • The Bella Twins get heat all the time. They are often accused of being protected because of who their boyfriends are. They MUST prove that they aren’t just here because of them, and that they are hard-working divas that are on top of the division for a reason. That’s a great story.
  • Alicia Fox. She mentioned on RAW that she had been at WWE for NINE YEARS. She’s been there for nine years and she’s mostly been just an afterthought in the division. Her goal is to prove that after all of these years, she is still among the elite in the division. That’s a great story.
  • Naomi‘s never won the Divas Championship before and has changed her attitude in order to accomplish that goal, after failing time after time. That’s a great story.
  • Tamina Snuka has her own family story, being the daughter of the legendary Jimmy Snuka. She’s been at the company since 2009 and has never won the divas title. That’s a great story.
  • Sasha Banks has been a wrestling fan for years. She’s dominated the NXT Women’s division and has now set her sights on the main roster to do the same. That’s a great story.

The storylines are already there for these women and for WWE to build on. WWE should be building on these storylines that are already written for them and they’re not doing it! It’s mind-boggling. The divas are trying their hearts out. The Bellas are stepping up their game in the ring. Everybody is getting their chance to shine. This is why these divas got so passionate when the fans of Brooklyn “disrespected” them. However, what’s wrong with the Divas Revolution is something they cannot control. It’s the writing for this story. They are victims of the laziness from the writers and the “powers-that-be” telling these divas go out there and take part in the same matches every single week.

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Yesterday, I posted an article on the SmackDown! Six. This was Paul Heyman’s idea to build Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Kurt Angle, Edge and Rey Mysterio up as singles stars by grouping them together as tag teams in the second half of 2002. It worked so well because it was simple booking and there was so much talent to work with. One week you could have Chris Benoit vs Chavo Guerrero. The next week it could be Rey Mysterio vs Kurt Angle. Then it could be Edge vs Eddie Guerrero, or Angle vs Chavo, or Rey vs Benoit. The possibilities were endless. It was featuring the same six wrestlers but no match was ever the same. With Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit being the team that didn’t get along, those two even had matches with each other!

The reason I bring that up is because it looks like WWE are trying the exact same thing. That could POSSIBLY be OK, but these matches are not progressing the storyline along and that is making these matches see, unimportant. Every single women’s match that happens on NXT has a purpose that is centered around the main storyline in the women’s division. Bayley’s matches leading up to TakeOver were important. The tag matches leading into Summerslam were not important. One thing has to lead to another, which is exactly what was going on with Benoit, Angle, Eddie, Chavo, Edge and Mysterio. For the Divas Revolution, we’re given a few matches to enjoy each week and that’s that.

As I wrote about on the Armbar Express, the WWE announced that there will be a Beat The Clock challenge featuring the PCB on RAW for the right to face Nikki Bella at Night of Champions. At least now, the storyline is starting to get freshened up a bit with the focus now being the Divas title. At least now, there’s a bit of a in-group rivalry going on between Paige, Charlotte and Becky over who’s going to fight for the Divas title. It’s interesting. However, there’s a problem with this. On RAW, Team Bella BEAT the PCB in a six person tag team match! Therefore, it is difficult to promote any of the PCB as potential challengers when they lost to Team Bella just a week ago. Therefore, the Team Bella vs PCB match meant absolutely nothing if they now have an opportunity to win the Divas Championship!

Furthermore, this storyline is being promoted as a “Revolution”. Technically, that’s incorrect. If this is a revolution, then why was it endorsed by the heel authority figure Stephanie McMahon? It’s not a revolution. That’s like Prime Minister David Cameron telling the MPs of England to step up. It doesn’t mean that the MPs are going to revolt and take down Cameron! Stephanie was inspiring the women to put in more effort.

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I am ALL for the promotion of women’s success in sports. I’ve written stories for newspapers about the England women’s rugby team, that won the World Cup last year. I watched the majority of the women’s football World Cup this year. But you never hear the commentators going “This is a revolution in women’s sports,” whenever they see a great match. You never hear Joe Rogan going “This is a revolution in women’s sports,” whenever Ronda Rousey beats somebody up in UFC. That’s because they never need to. In TNA, quality women’s wrestling has been around for years. From Gail Kim and Awesome Kong to Taryn Terrell and the Doll House. Mike Tenay never needed to say, “This is a revolution in women’s wrestling,” as the action was always great. It’s going to take more than a tagline to convince WWE fans that we are in the midst of a changes on the main roster.

NEWS – Nikki Bella To Defend Divas Championship, Beat The Clock Challenge Set For RAW

NEWS coming from WWE, who’ve announced that Nikki Bella will INDEED be defending her Divas Championship at Night of Champions. She’ll be defending the Divas title against the winner of a Beat The Clock challenge on RAW featuring all three members of PCB – Paige, Charlotte and Becky Lynch. This comes after the hashtag #ThingsBetterThanNikkisReign began trending on Twitter in the last few days.

Nikki Bella has currently been champion for 285 days and if she holds onto the Divas title until Night Of Champions, she will have not only surpassed the record title reign of AJ Lee but she will have went 300 days as champion as well. Nikki’s title reign has been heavily criticized, especially considering that she has not defended the title in the last 50 days. However, AJ Lee once went 70 days without defending her championship during her Divas title reign. With that being said, there’s no real excuse for Nikki not defending her title considering she’s actually been active wrestler in the last 50 days.

They probably announced it ahead of time as a response to the #ThingsBetterThanNikkisReign hashtag and overall criticism of the Divas Revolution storyline.

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Thankfully, it seems Nikki will finally have to put the title on the line at Night Of Champions. The question is, who should be the one to go up against Nikki for the belt. Charlotte is the name that’s been rumoured for Night Of Champions, but Becky Lynch did get the match-winning pinfall at Summerslam. Paige has had numerous title shots since Nikki’s title reign began so I wouldn’t put my money on her winning the title her. Sasha Banks, Naomi or Tamina are apparently not in the mix for a title shot. However, they may appear next week as the opponents for the PCB. It’ll be interesting to see.

It’s still a nice change of pace, giving the “Divas Revolution” storyline a much needed shift from the constant tag team matches that we’ve seen in the last month to actually competitive action with championship implications.

Analyzing Vince Russo’s Thoughts On Sami Zayn

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In May 2015, Sami Zayn debuted on RAW by challenging John Cena for the US Championship at Montreal, having been introduced to the crowd by Bret Hart. It was a moment that got the crowd rocking and a lot of people were excited with the appearance of Zayn. However, not everyone was too ecstatic about it.

Now, this may all seem a bit dated as this was a few months ago. However, I wanted to write about it for a few reasons. Firstly, I never wrote about it at the time, due to university commitments. Secondly, because yesterday I listen to a lot of shoot interviews from Vince Russo. Vince Russo, love him or hate him, was writing for the WWF during it’s peak in the Attitude Era. He’s made a lot of great decisions and a lot of bad decisions. Whether he’s saying what’s on the mind of everyone or saying something that everyone disagrees with, a lot of people listen to Vince Russo. I listened to an entire speech of Vince Russo on Sami Zayn and it got me thinking about something else I’m going to be writing about soon. Something on WWE television right now.

Vince Russo talked about the RAW that Sami Zayn debuted and that particular RAW did a pretty low number. While the episode itself was critically acclaimed, Vince was not a fan of how Sami Zayn debuted on the main roster.

Vince said: “Everybody is running to the defense of the WWE, claiming that RAW was a great show on Monday night. WHY was it great in their opinion? Simply because an NXT wrestler that they all mark out for, Sami Zayn, made his surprise appearance on the WWE’s premiere show. I can only imagine when Sami got introduced by Bret Hart and came out as a surprise through the RAW entrance—to the Internet Wrestling Community is was the equivalent of Jesus himself showing up unannounced at the Sea of Galilee. But to the casual wrestling fan—nobody cared—to them this was a jobber and nothing more–so they indeed turned back to hoops.

“RAW is a television show and Sami Zayn is NOT a television star—nor—will he be anytime soon. Sami is an exceptional wrestler on a wrestling show, and the only people who care about him are those die hard wrestling fans who are looking for 5-star matches that the massive don’t give a !@#$% about.”

Shortly after he said all out that, Vince came out on his podcast for The Brand to elaborate on what he wrote on the blog. It’s 25 minutes long so if you’ve got 25 minutes to spare, it’s worth listening to the entire thing. Be sure you do too, because it’s important when understanding his entire argument.

As a wrestling writer, Vince Russo’s main concerns were ratings. He believes that even with the WWE Network and everything else, the WWE’s biggest concerns should be ratings as that will lead people to taking an interest in their other products. He believed that while Sami Zayn is an incredible wrestler, he is not going to be a draw as he lacks the character to make casual fans care about him.

Now obviously, you can see why Vince Russo would think the way that he does. Sami didn’t really have any vignettes before he came onto the show. He was never advertised like the Ascension or Fandango was. He was a total surprise. He believed when he came out, the casual audience at home would be scratching their heads thinking “Who the hell is this guy?” However, this was probably not done with the intention that Sami Zayn would shortly be coming onto the main roster. He might be when he’s all healed up again, but it was really just a surprise to get the Montreal crowd popping. Montreal always has crazy crowds when it comes to the WWE. They’ll pop for all sorts. So it helps Sami Zayn’s cause when he comes out to a huge reaction, especially when he is introduced by Bret “The Hitman” Hart of all people. The audience at home won’t be scratching their heads thinking “Who the hell is this guy?”, they’ll be thinking “This crowd is very excited for this kid. I can’t wait to see why”.

Therefore, when the crowd at home see Sami put on a terrific match with John Cena, they’ll be caught off guard. Sure, casual wrestling fans might not really care for all the technical chain grapples and stuff. However, when they see this kid fly like he does, they’ll be caught off guard. They’ll look up “Sami Zayn” on the internet, which will lead them to NXT. NXT is exclusive to the WWE Network, so the fans might think “Well I might give this a try for $9.99,” which gets the audience hooked on the whole WWE experience.

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Vince does argue that when they used vignettes for the likes of Goldust and Val Venis back in the attitude era, they were over before they were even on television. Chris Jericho was helped TREMENDOUSLY by those millennium promos when he first debuted. If you pick the right venues and put them against the right guys, you can make someone a star on their first night as people will want to keep watching to see them again. Vignettes sometimes do help when it comes to stars with over-the-top characters like Fandango, but you don’t necessarily need them to debut a star. To be honest, you sometimes don’t even need the crowd! When Brock Lesnar debuted on WWE television, he let his actions do all the speaking for him. He came in and beat four people up that were fighting in a hardcore match. Brock Lesnar did not get an incredible pop when he first debuted.

You know who else debuted like this… John Cena. Cena debuted on SmackDown! in 2002 and challenged Kurt Angle to a match. He faced the right guy to kick-off his career and he was able to put on a decent match with Kurt. Of course, Cena’s rise to the top did not happen in one night. It takes time and it’ll take time with Sami.

If Sami Zayn is promoted up to the full roster full-time when he comes back, then they pulled his debut off the right way. Being endorsed by a hall-of-famer, getting an incredible reaction from the crowd and pulling off a great performance by John Cena, there’s little that went wrong for Zayn to come to the conclusion that he will not be a draw in WWE. One bad rating does not change that.

Wrestling Flashback – The SmackDown! Six

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In 2002, the WWE draft would have a major impact on WWE television. Gone were the days of competition from WCW. With the contracts of WCW talent being bought out by the WWE, it became apparent that all of these stars couldn’t possibly be given the chance to perform. With the entire roster working on all of the TV shows, there was little opportunity for lower-card talent to get an on-screen appearance on RAW or SmackDown! There was simply too big a roster to deal with. The WWE draft came up with a solution… split the roster down the middle creating two separate brands called RAW and SmackDown!

Another potential reason for the roster split was down to the ratings for RAW and SmackDown! taking a huge hit coming off the “Attitude Era”. According to Paul Heyman, who became the head writer of SmackDown! in 2002, SmackDown! was facing cancellation as the writing team was split up to serve both brands. Internally, all eyes were on RAW and Heyman’s job was to “take SmackDown! of their plate”. With the need to feature everybody and pressure on both WWE’s two flagship shows, the brand wars was on.

With all eyes on RAW, Paul Heyman was left with Stephanie McMahon to build up the stars that the “powers-that-be” didn’t see a lot of potential in. When the time was right, WWE could eventually pluck out these stars for their “flagship” show RAW. One of the first examples of this was when Chris Jericho was moved to RAW from SmackDown!, after finishing up a great rivalry with the up-and-comer Edge. Paul protested this move as Jericho was making Edge into a legitimate star on SmackDown! However, Heyman was offered a “compensation” for losing the main-event star Jericho. Heyman wanted Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero (who were, according to Heyman, the “nWo’s whipping boys” at the time on RAW) in exchange for losing Jericho. Heyman saw a lot of potential in Benoit and Guerrero, while the RAW writers didn’t. With the trade agreed and Benoit and Guerrero “stolen” by SmackDown! General Manager Stephanie McMahon, the table was set for Heyman to take these stars to the next level.

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The funny thing about looking back at 2002 is the relaxed booking from Paul Heyman compared to the frankly desperate attempts for ratings on RAW. Heyman didn’t have to resort to featuring HLA or a storyline about necrophilia in order to grab ratings. All it took for Heyman was simple story-telling and build up which resulted in more eye balls watching SmackDown! to see the intensity of these stories build over time. And the reason that’s so funny is because NXT is trumping WWE’s flagship shows right now for the very simple reason. Why do you think the fans of Brooklyn went nuts for Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver while they paid little attention to the Divas Revolution on Summerslam and RAW?

Heyman allowed the action in the ring to tell the stories for the viewers, and the viewers understood the story-telling very well. Michael Cole and Tazz didn’t need to talk about the storylines as much and could refocus the viewer’s attention to the match. That’s what made them such a great pairing.

Heyman’s most notable claim to fame as SmackDown! head writer was the introduction of the SmackDown! tag team division. RAW never really had a strong tag team division of it’s own at the time as it was mostly considered an after-thought by the writers. This was Heyman’s chance to seize the moment. With Guerrero and Benoit now apart of the roster and Rey Mysterio being brought into the company in July, Heyman could bring them together in a tag team environment in order to push them as singles stars. Rey Mysterio was teamed up with Edge, with the both of them being strong fan favourites and possessing a unique chemistry as a tag team. Eddie Guerrero was thrown into the mix too, with his nephew Chavo being promoted up to the main roster as well. These two tag teams naturally clicked together but what about Chris Benoit? Having just turned in face in mid-2002, who could Benoit team up with in this tag team division? Well, in a move that could benefit everyone, Paul decided to interject one of his main-eventers into that tag team scene to team with the “Rabid Wolverine”. That way, it would be more acceptable for all of these men to be featured in the main events on SmackDown! This main eventer… was Kurt Angle.

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Chavo Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio in the main event of SmackDown! would have seemed a bit of a fantasy considering the stars like Brock Lesnar and Undertaker on the show. But Rey Mysterio vs KURT ANGLE would have worked as Kurt already had the star power to justify his position in the main event. Putting him up against Rey, Edge, Eddie or Chavo would also give them the main event spotlight too, resulting in the stock of all these men rising as individuals. That way, their rise to success as singles star moved along in a much faster rate in that tag team scenario.

It was truly masterful to see how Heyman used the tag team division as a means to get these six into the main events of SmackDown! From a business standpoint, the SmackDown! six delivered when it came to ratings and merchandise. There was heavy competition for SmackDown! at the time, including the final season of “Friends”. However, the ratings were holding and everybody in that tag team scenario benefited immensely. While RAW was up against the ropes, SmackDown! was pulling out all the punches.

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The storyline itself was introduced when Stephanie McMahon announced a tag team tournament to crown the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions. Edge and Mysterio were partnered up and Eddie sided with Chavo. However, Stephanie McMahon also decreed that Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle would be a tag team in the tournament too. This wound up both men as they had been feuding at that point. Stephanie ruled that Kurt and Benoit would be suspended for a year without pay if there were any physicality between them. However, Benoit and Angle proved to be a formidable tag team. Despite their differences, they were able to make it to the final by defeating Los Guerreros. At No Mercy, Benoit and Angle defeated Edge and Mysterio in the final to become the first ever WWE Tag Team Champions.

Angle and Benoit would be presented with a trophy to commemorate their tournament win. However, things would break down after Angle and Benoit began arguing about who was the “captain” of the team. This would lead to Stephanie being accidentally smacked in the face with the trophy. Stephanie responded by slapping both men and booking a match for them to settle their differences “the old fashioned way”. However, Los Guerreros would get involved which led to further brawling later that night. Edge and Rey Mysterio were able to capitalize on Angle and Benoit’s troubles, winning a 2 out of 3 falls tag match on SmackDown! to win the tag titles. This led to a triple threat tag team match at Survivor Series between Edge and Mysterio, Benoit and Angle and Los Guerreros for the tag titles. The Guerreros finally got the job done, winning the match and the titles.

Each of these men would go on to establish themselves as singles stars and all of these men would end up winning world titles later on in their careers. Kurt Angle had already been a WWE Championship before the “SmackDown! Six” but did go on to win the WWE Championship again just a month later at Armageddon. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero won world championships in 2004, with the two of them closing out Wrestlemania XX as World Heavyweight Champion and WWE Champion respectively. Edge and Rey Mysterio would win their first world titles in 2006 and Chavo Guerrero would win the ECW Championship in 2008.

It seems then that Heyman succeeded in elevating all six of these men as singles stars, after grouping them as tag teams first in the tag team division. This was one of those eras in wrestling when tag team wrestling was at its finest. True competition put together with a simple and logical storyline to help elevate the importance of the championship and the tag teams competing for the gold. Heyman’s had a lot of successes as a writer, but the “SmackDown! Six” era was Heyman’s finest hour…

 

SPOILERS: Samoa Joe and Finn Balor Team Up For NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for upcoming NXT episodes. If you do not wish to be spoiled, click away now.
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Coming up on NXT will be the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. As William Regal stated on NXT TakeOver, the tag team tournament will be leading into the upcoming NXT TakeOver event in October. The tournament is set to begin next week. William Regal announced this week on NXT that Rhino and Baron Corbin would be teaming up in the tournament to take on the Ascension. Neville said he wanted to be in the tournament. However, a very interesting tag team was seen in the NXT tapings for the first round of the tournament.

NXT Champion Finn Balor was seen teaming up with Samoa Joe as part of the tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing how these two work as a tag team and it also gives the tournament some fire power. Two of the top stars in the NXT roster teaming up will make for some incredible television. But according to Dave Meltzer, the purpose for this tag team is even greater than you’d think.

According to a report from NoDQ.com: “According to Dave Meltzer, the reason these two were paired together it to set up a feud between Joe and Balor for the NXT Championship. He speculates that the two won’t be able to co-exist and they will end up turning on each other.”

I do like this idea of the two of them forming as a tag team that doesn’t get along. These two, in NXT storylines, are very proud individuals with two very different styles. Tag teams that don’t get along were to be expected anyway in this tournament. However, Joe and Balor are arguably the two top stars on the show. They are both two intense stars. So it’ll be great to see the tension and anticipation build for the eventual break up of the team.

Whether this’ll lead to Balor and Joe facing each other AT the next TakeOver is still unknown. If that’s the case, then they’d have to get eliminated early on in this tournament. However, NXT might end up feeling that these two would work for the long haul. Remember how well Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle worked well as a tag team during the “SmackDown! Six” storyline. There’s a whole lot of potential here and this could lead into a long-term program between the two which I am all for.

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