Emma, Darren Young and Summer Rae RELEASED from WWE – Thoughts and Reactions

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Breaking news from today as three long-time main roster superstars have been released from WWE as Emma, Darren Young and Emma have departed from the company.

All three of these talents have been members of the RAW roster ever since the 2016 draft with very limited success for all three of them and long periods of absence in the last few years.

Emma was the first announced by WWE via their social media accounts and website. Emma has recently been a regular feature in WWE programming after several periods away from television for reasons such as injuries and even writing reasons. Emma had rose to fame initially from NXT before being promoted to the main roster to feud with, ironically, Summer Rae. After a few months of not really clicking on a main-roster level, Emma turned heel upon her return to NXT and saw her character develop dramatically. She returned to the main roster but her momentum was cut shot by an injury, leading to the bright idea of her to re-emerge as Emmalina. Due to her being in creative limbo and writers not really figuring out what to do with her, Emma went roughly 17 weeks before Emmalina debuted and literally just led to her being repackaged back to Emma. Emma had recently appearing at the TLC pay-per-view as Asuka’s first main roster opponent before her release.

Darren Young debuted in the first season of NXT before debuting on the main roster as part of the Nexus angle. Darren was exiled from the group after SummerSlam and after months of limited notoriety, partnered up with Titus O’Neil as part of the Prime Time Players. Darren and Titus teamed for a number of years and Darren actually won the tag team titles with Titus at Money In The Bank 2015. Darren’s singles career saw him aligned with Bob Backlund in the hopes of “making Darren Young great again.” Darren’s new repackaging eventually led to him receiving an Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground 2016. Darren was injured shortly after a feud with his old partner Titus, which has now led to his release.

Summer Rae debuted as the ring announcer in the newly rebooted NXT before eventually becoming a single competitor in the competitive women’s division featuring the likes of Emma and Paige. She eventually debuted on the main roster as Fandango’s dance partner, elevated as much as Fandango when his theme song became an international hit. Alongside this, Summer was pretty competitive in NXT and was aligned as a BFF of one Sasha Banks. Summer and Fandango eventually split and after a short stint aligned with Layla, Summer was eventually inserted into the infamous Dolph Ziggler/Lana storyline. Summer sided with Rusev but eventually broke up with him, leading to her siding with the debuting Tyler Breeze. Shortly after, Summer became injured and had yet to even appear on RAW since she was drafted in 2016 prior to her release.

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On the surface, these wrestlers weren’t exactly major players on the main roster in WWE. However, it is rather sad to see people lose jobs especially in a line of work as limited as wrestling is. For Summer and Emma, they both have opportunities outside of wrestling available to them like modelling and acting. I think there’s probably a chance for them to get their foot in the door. For Darren, very difficult to see where he may go from here. I don’t see him as a major player in the independent scene but as a WWE star, there’s probably a lot of decent money for him to make.

For Emma and Summer, I do see two cases of untapped potential with both of these girls. If you’ve ever watched Emma (and Summer to a degree), you can see that this girl was a hugely talented wrestler. She’s had great matches with Paige and Asuka in NXT. She’s probably better than at least 75% of the main roster which may be kind of pushing it. Regardless, she still had a lot of value and it was annoying as a fan of her to not see her at least take part in a major women’s title program. She could have been a great mentor to have for these new up-and-coming women, especially some of the ones from the Mae Young Classic.

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Summer was also a great talent too. I don’t really rate her highly as a worker but again, you don’t need to be the world’s greatest worker to be effective. Just look at Alexa for example. Summer was a great talker and really fit into the roles that she was given and her delivery was pretty good. I always rated Summer and it’s a shame she didn’t get one last run before her release.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Darren Young too, someone who has opened the doors for a lot of sports figures in terms of the LGBT community. Him publicly coming out as gay in 2013 did take a lot of courage and was widely commended among the wrestling community. In that aspect, I must give him a lot of credit.

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I do actually have a bone to pick before I sign off here because I want to address one of the more pathetic responses to the releases of Emma in particular, ironically from someone signed with WWE. The newly signed Lio Rush tweeted this out shortly after the news:

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Obviously, this is a reference to Emma’s match at TLC when she lost to Asuka. However, this guy making this comment only JUST after signing with WWE about these tough circumstances for a long-time WWE employee seemed so audacious to me. Someone that has “paid her dues” like Emma that’s just been told that she’s been cut and Lio, who has only been here for a short time, has the nerve to make light of this bad deal for Emma?

This tweet was actually quickly deleted by Lio, following a number of wrestlers like Bray Wyatt, Peyton Royce, Rosa Mendes and Jack Gallagher burying Lio for these comments. Lio did also apologise for this tweet but he did it in such a way that he apologised that the fans got upset about his comment which doesn’t strike me as a genuine apology or Lio taken responsibility for his comments.

I except Lio to get heat from this because, as the likes of Baron Corbin can vouch for, troublesome tweets can be hurtful for your career. I don’t think he’ll be fired for saying this but I can’t say that this will not make him many friends in developmental and on the main roster. This is trouble when you make light of the situation of the likes of Emma. Emma seems to be well liked within WWE so Lio may have just made things hard for him in the first stages of his WWE career.

Anyway, best of luck to Emma, Summer and Darren in whatever they do next. I wish them all the very best.

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NEWS: The Status Of Neville And Nia Jax In WWE

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. We’ve got a bit of news surrounding two top RAW superstars. It had been previously reported that Neville had actually asked for his release from WWE, following not appearing in last week’s Monday Night RAW event. It appears that Neville is not the only one linked with a move out of the door….

Nia Jax, who debuted on Monday Night RAW following the WWE Draft in July 2016, has been reported as having been upset backstage following not appearing on RAW herself in this week’s edition of the show. Nia had been part of an angle between Sasha Banks and Bayley, feuding with the two girls ever since No Mercy. This week, Sasha Banks fought Alicia Fox while Bayley was in a tag team match.

Nia not being there did raise a few questions, with Pro Wrestling Votes (the same guys who had initially spread word on Neville’s situation) tweeting about possibly hearing of Nia’s absence.

Pro Wrestling Sheet released an update to the initial rumours, stating that their sources suggest that Nia has been granted a “leave of absence” although nothing has been confirmed yet about whether Nia was upset backstage at RAW last night. The update is available at this link.

I do want to stress to everyone reading that we’re merely at the rumour stages of the story, and no statement has been released yet from WWE’s side of things or from Nia herself or any members of Nia’s family. If you recall, when the story broke about Neville asking for his release, WWE quickly denied any truth to it. Again, early doors on this story so WWE may not have had the time to respond just yet.

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The internet wrestling community has become extremely quick at jumping to the conclusion that Nia had been frustrated with creative similar to Neville. I find it rather difficult to believe as Nia has been one of the more protected women across RAW, SmackDown! and NXT. Only girls like Alexa Bliss and Charlotte are booked better than her in my eyes and Nia Jax is the biggest female monster that’s been pushed since she was promoted last year.

Neville’s frustrations are understandable knowing how badly 205 Live has been going as well as his inability to advance further in his WWE career. Nia… she’s got plenty of time to get ready enough to become a strong women’s champion. I don’t see how she’s got a case in being frustrated there and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Nia’s leave of absence could mean many things so it’s difficult for us to guess. I do wish Nia the best with whatever the situation is with her, if this turns out to be true. Again, a lot of potential in Nia as a top monster… given time to develop as a worker. I would not want to miss out on a Nia Jax monster title reign.

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As for Neville, his story has been kind of kept under wraps at the moment. As it stands right now, he’s still employed at WWE. For those of you that are unaware, Neville was not on RAW last week for a show where he was supposedly set to challenge Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight title in the main-event. The initial reports that he “walked out” was debunked as Neville wasn’t even there in the first place.

The rumours have been running rampant for him. There’s talk of frustrations with the royalties for being on the pre-show for WrestleMania 33, similar to the reasons why Austin Aries left WWE earlier this year as well. Not to add fuel to the fire in this sense but there were rumours that Enzo was supposed to beat Neville again in that main-event so he may have possibly not wanted to do the job. There’s a lot frustrations supposedly on Neville’s end.

The belief right now is that Neville is currently negotiating the terms of his release. When Ryback asked for his release last year, he was initially at home during the negotiations as well, if I remember correctly. I don’t see Neville on television any time soon although WWE is supposedly hopefully that they can convince him to stay on board. If you’re WWE, you can’t afford to lose Neville right now I’d imagine.

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Their priority is getting that 205 Live show over and doing good numbers, which was the whole reason why Enzo Amore was brought in to bring in interest. Neville was an established WWE star before 205 Live and the longest reigning cruiserweight champion since the title came back in September.

They really don’t have many top cruiserweight babyfaces at the moment which was, again, the whole reason why Kalisto was brought in to feud with Enzo. They don’t have the confidence in those guys getting over enough. They have confidence in Neville so it’s in their best interests to try and keep him on.

We will see what happens in the development of both these stories. I personally hope both individuals make the right choices that benefits them. If Nia feels that a leave of absence is necessary, it’s understandable. If Neville feels that he needs to part ways with WWE, that’s his decision. I personally would love to see them both stay in WWE. Nia does have potential down the road and Neville should be going to SmackDown! Live as a top heel as they’re lacking in that department. Do I feel they’ll do that? No. I think if Neville’s coming back at all, he’ll be in 205 Live.

 

WWE 2K17 – John Cena, Sasha Banks and Ultimate Warrior Confirmed For 2K17 Roster

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with WWE 2K17 news. As we’re in the middle of E3 right now, featuring the top names in gaming, it’s only fitting that we talk about some new developments for the WWE 2K17 game. We’ve finally got some news on wrestlers confirmed for the game. Goldberg was announced as the WWE 2K17 pre-order bonus and Bray Wyatt was one of a few wrestlers shown getting scanned for the game. However, we got some announcements by 2K for a few more characters that will be playable in the game.

The three characters that have been confirmed are….

These three wrestlers were confirmed by the painter Rob Schamberger, who was specifically tasked with creating paintings of these three stars for the reveal. Down below is a gallery of the paintings that he produced. If you want to see more of his work, you should follow him on Twitter @robschamberger as he does have paintings on many more superstars that you can snap up on WWE’s auction website.

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These first few reveals are interesting. With the exception of the pre-order character reveals, these first batch of announced wrestlers usually give you an indicator of the theme and the direction of the game itself. For WWE 2K14, they first announced wrestlers like Andre The Giant and Hollywood Hogan for their 30 Years Of WrestleMania mode. For WWE 2K15, they announced Cena, CM Punk, Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the showcase mode featuring their rivalries. I think Steve Austin was announced early too, ahead of his Austin 3:16 showcase mode for WWE 2K16.

It’s very difficult, judging from these three superstars, to predict just what the showcase modes of the game will be revolved around. It’s possible that they could do another character-centred showcase mode, similar to Austin’s deal last year. They could easily do a John Cena showcase mode, which could be fairly simple to do. His feud with CM Punk would almost certainly not make the cut, with Punk’s strained relationship with WWE and 2K as well as Cena and Punk’s previous showcase mode. A lot of Cena’s big feuds have been with wrestlers that WWE still continue to have good relations with, which could make it simple. I even think that his first match with Kurt Angle could be covered and we could even get Kurt Angle in the game, provided that Kurt could strike a deal with 2K. It would have to be approved by Vince McMahon, similar to Goldberg’s inclusion, but they could do it.

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The Ultimate Warrior has already had a showcase mode before, having the “Path of the Warrior” DLC showcase mode in WWE 2K15. That appearing again would be highly unlikely. Having thought about the possibility of a showcase mode involving Cena, it could be possible that Warrior is part of somebody else’s showcase. You could do showcases for wrestlers like Undertaker and Randy Savage, who both probably could be well known enough to carry the main showcase for the game. Another one that popped into my head was Triple H. Starting from his WrestleMania 12 match with the Warrior, it could go on from there.

I personally would not want a showcase mode that is based on the experiences of one wrestler. Steve Austin was fun and very in-depth but I’d much prefer a showcase mode where I could play as many wrestlers as possible. I don’t want to be limited to Steve Austin and a few others.

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John Cena was a guarantee to be included in the game and the Ultimate Warrior has been in a number of games ever since WWE 2K14. The most interesting name announced was Sasha Banks. I know a lot of people were upset with the four horsewomen of NXT not getting in the game last year. With the Divas Revolution being heavily promoted by the time that the game was released, for the likes of Sasha and Charlotte to not get in seemed preposterous. Now though, Sasha’s inclusion will probably mean that the rest of these women will be in too.

I think Sasha will be a very fun character to play as on this game, and it’ll boost up the quality of women’s wrestling on this particular game. What I mean is that now you’ve got the women that actually have unique and innovative movesets that will be fun to play with. There was only ever a few wrestlers like Paige and Natalya that had previously stood out in the past. If Asuka and Nia Jax are able to get into the mix as well, you could be having a lot of fun.

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There are my initial thoughts. What do you all think of these announcements? Hopefully we’ll get more information real soon. Who knows? There may be more wrestlers announced for the game before E3 comes to an end…

Update On Cody Rhodes’ Independent Endeavours

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Out of the wrestlers that have recently left or have been released from WWE, Cody Rhodes’ time on the independent scene will look to be the most interesting of all. For you see, Cody Rhodes has a plan of what to do. Not that everyone else that was released hasn’t got projects in the pipeline already but Cody has a recently compiled a list, that he tweeted  out at the end of May. The list consists of specific wrestlers, events and other wrestling goals that he hoped to achieve now that he’s in the independent circuit.

The list is very thought-provoking and I have embedded it below in case anyone hasn’t seen it or has seen it and just needs a quick reminder…

Cody had an ambitious list but the son of the “American Dream” has suddenly become a hot commodity, with his summer schedule already starting to be booked up. How well is he doing in terms of his list? Well, let’s run down the matches and projects that has already been announced by Cody or by those he’s doing business with.

 

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An early announcement  was Cody’s involvement with the wrestling promotion EVOLVE, a company which does have a partnership going with WWE. I think in terms of keeping the door open for himself to return in the future, it does benefit him to work with a company that’s at least on good terms with WWE. EVOLVE’s actually been able to open the doors to everybody. TNA’s Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway both showed up there recently and cut shoot promos on WWE. I’m not sure whether Cody will actually “shoot” on WWE, but Cody might be working more than his originally advertised appearance at EVOLVE 66 on August 19th.

This match is rumoured to be involving Rhodes wrestling Chris Hero, which does tick a wrestler of his “hit-list” of matches.

 

 

Cody Rhodes vs Mike Bennett

Scheduled for August 26th is an interesting one, as Cody will be accompanied by his wife Eden (who also left WWE recently) when he takes on TNA star Michael Bennett. Michael will also be accompanied to the ring, with Michael’s wife Maria also being at the show.

Michael’s being groomed for big things in TNA, so it’s interesting for Cody to do business with a TNA star right off the bat. I know that TNA’s contracts aren’t as secure as WWE’s contracts, allowing anyone to take independent dates, but it’s still an intriguing endevour. Also, Eden could easily be playing the role of “personal ring announcer” as listed on Cody’s list!

 

Cody Rhodes vs Kurt Angle

One of the earliest matches announced for Rhodes was a mouth-watering one to say the least. With “Angle” on Cody’s list, it has been announced that he will be taking on the Olympic gold medalist at an event in New York on August 27th.

This will be the first time that these two will ever face off and it’s quite a slobberknocker of a match. These two are perfect for each other in terms of the pacing of each other’s work. Angle can work quick and slow matches, as can Cody. With Kurt currently not signed by TNA or any other major promotion, probably the biggest name on Cody’s list is already in the bag.

 

Cody Rhodes vs Pat Buck

A lot of independent fans will know a lot more about Pat Buck than me but this match was actually of the more recent announcements regarding Rhodes. Cody mentioned on Twitter after this was announced that he lost to Buck in his first ever professional wrestling match at Corydon, Indiana. I guess it’s time for him to get his revenge ten years later!

He’ll be wrestling there on September 10th and interestingly enough, Buck is not the only Buck on Cody’s list….

 

PWG Battle Of Los Angeles

PWG fans will be a huge fan of this announcement. Cody is confirmed to be taking part in a major indie event in Los Angeles called Battle Of Los Angeles, and it’s very safe to assume that he’ll be able to tick off a number of wrestlers on that list. I know a lot of PWG fans that are going crazy over the news. I’m a fan of PWG myself, even though I don’t check them out NEARLY as much as I should. It’s a major coup for the company and his participation will really raise the prestige of this tournament.

 

And that about covers everything for Cody’s announced matches in the near future. If I’ve missed anything, please notify me with a comment or on Twitter by tweeting @ArmbarExpress. However, these are the only ones that have been retweeted or confirmed by Rhodes on his personal Twitter as of June 7th 2016 so I’ll stop right here. I’m sure a lot of these other names will be ticked off real soon.

It’s interesting that ROH’s Moose and Roderick Strong are on the list, as those two names have been linked with a move to WWE. If Cody wants these two, he’s got to act fast. There’s no guarantee that those two will budge, so it could just be the case of Rhodes just biding his time anyway. A lot of the names on that list currently wrestle for ROH, so that could very well be a permanent new home for Rhodes. I personally thought that Cody might be tempted to do some dates in Japan, with NJPW really rising in popularity.

Any other independent wrestlers that you want Cody Rhodes to face? Should he go to NJPW? Should he got to TNA? Should he got to ROH? Should he go to Lucha Underground? Give us your thoughts and be sure to follow @CodyRhodes on Twitter, as he’ll be sure to shed some light on future projects.

WWE’s Brock Lesnar To Fight Mark Hunt At UFC 200

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express with some big news coming from the world of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. It was confirmed at UFC 199 that Brock Lesnar would be competing at UFC 200, as part of an historic event including three world title fights. It was confirmed on Monday that Brock’s opponent in this heavyweight bout would be accomplished fighter Mark Hunt. To say this is ground-breaking news would be an understatement.

A collaboration by WWE and UFC in this capacity is certainly unheard of. The nearest to this was probably Ronda Rousey being allowed to do her angle with The Rock, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at WrestleMania 31. Even proposed plans for a Rousey vs Stephanie match fell through, due to the UFC not allowing Rousey to do more than the original one-off deal. Rousey showing up in a non-wrestling role is one thing. Brock Lesnar actually fighting in the UFC is on a completely different level.

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The WWE, for years, had been against the idea of collaborations with outside wrestling companies. With recent projects involving EVOLVE and other independent companies as part of their Cruiserweight Tournament, they are certainly turning a corner in that regard. This deal with their supposed rivals UFC is pretty big. The story is supposedly that Brock Lesnar was able to secure an agreement when negotiating his WWE contract in early 2015, with the option of one UFC fight being open to him. Chael Sonnen explained to Jonathan Coachman on ESPN that the door was always open for Brock to come to UFC, with Dana White not even having to call Vince McMahon in order to secure this fight with Brock.

With those details, it may not seem as much of a collabaration anymore. However, WWE is still promoting this news heavily on theory social media accounts. WWE released a press release about the news, as well as the news of Brock’s opponent being Mark Hunt. According to Wrestling Observer, it is also likely that Brock will be promoting this fight on WWE broadcasts as well. It’s almost as if WWE are still trying to turn this into more of a WWE deal than a UFC deal, by having Brock with Paul Heyman on RAW to hype up  the fight.

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I personally believe that there’s probably a lot more to the story and that WWE is probably getting something in return. Whether that’s the big Ronda Rousey fight at WrestleMania or not is left open for debate. However, I’d be very surprised if WWE aren’t getting anything out of letting Brock fight. The reason I say this is because I believe, from a business perspective, that WWE have a lot more to lose from this than UFC.

However, UFC have hardly any trouble at all in building up stars as opposed to WWE. If Brock beats Mark Hunt and leaves, it’s not that much of a business tragedy. On the other hand, WWE have not generated a legitimate wrestling superstar in nearly ten years. They’ve never been able to develop a hugely socially-relevant larger-than-life WWE superstar since John Cena a decade ago. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, it’s going to be very difficult for WWE to promote Brock for future programs. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, Paul Heyman has to sell on the microphone that Brock is still an unbeatable badass when he just lost a legitimate fight. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, the WWE are going to look so inferior in comparison to UFC.

Even though he officially called it a day on his UFC career in March 2015, Brock still thought that the issues with his health really did prevent Brock from achieving his full potential in the octagon. Brock said: “I felt robbed by diverticulitis. I felt robbed by being sick. I was feeling good and it took me a couple years to start feeling good. I’m at home, I’m working out, my life is great, everything’s in tune, my contract’s coming to an end with WWE, hey it’s been a great time but something’s missing.”

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For UFC, you get another big fight as part of the UFC 200 event that they’ve been building towards in the last few years. They tried to get every big fighter they could for this huge event, similarly to their UFC 100 event which, ironically, featured Brock Lesnar in the main event. Whether Brock Lesnar wins or loses, UFC get the box-office draw of Brock Lesnar. He was the biggest MMA draw when he was last with the UFC. Even in WWE, he has been the biggest draw on the WWE Network with his Network-Exclusive events gaining a lot of interest. Not only are UFC getting this dude, but the ball’s in their court whether Brock wins the fight or not. In their mind, it doesn’t matter if Brock wins the fight or not. Unless UFC have it in the back of their mind to do another fight with Brock down the road, they’ve got nothing to lose with this situation.

Now if Brock beats a top UFC star like Mark Hunt, maybe it’s detrimental in the sense that you’ve just fed a star or maybe the next big thing against… the next big thing. If Brock wins and leaves, there’s no way for that fighter to get his win back and a lot of work would need to be done in order to re-build his reputation.

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The news was actually broken by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani, who was quickly banned for life from attending future UFC events as a certified media member for leaking the news about Brock. UFC lifted the ban on Monday, by releasing this statement.

“Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent MMAFighting.com from receiving media credentials to cover live UFC events. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting’s ability to report news. However, in our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by its lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism. We feel confident our position has now been adequately communicated to the SB Nation editorial team.

“UFC’s goal as the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion is to cultivate interest in its world-class athletes and events, and deliver for the fans. We will continue to introduce this sport and its athletes to new fans across the world, and we will do so by working alongside media across all platforms.”

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That about covers everything that we know at the moment about Brock. I’m sure in the next month that a lot more will come out of this. What do you guys think? Do you think Brock will win? Do you think this will be the first of many fights from Brock? Tweet the @ArmbarExpress Twitter account or leave a comment to share your thoughts.

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

 

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“We want Sasha.”

How many times have we heard that chant in WWE since July 2015? Almost every segment  involving a woman. When Charlotte comes out? We want Sasha. When Becky Lynch wrestles? We want Sasha. When there’s a segment involving the Total Divas? We want Sasha. It’s the same process for almost every women’s segment not involving Sasha. What does that tell you? What’s the secret behind this chant? Why are the WWE fans chanting this and not chanting for Charlotte? The answer is quite simple… THEY WANT SASHA!

The WWE is a very weird company in the sense they expect you to get over, only if you have a specific look or a specific set of skills that others lack. Zack Ryder was never meant to get as over as he did, which forced WWE’s hand. After having him win the United States Championship in 2011, they did everything in their power to send his career in a huge downward spiral and they succeeded. With the exception of his big WrestleMania 32 victory, Zack’s never been in the same realm of popularity that he was in 2011. And funnily enough, there was a “we want Ryder” chant which was prominent throughout the shows in the same way that “we want Sasha” is prominent in 2016.

Sasha’s chants are not like the whole Daniel Bryan deal, which completely hijacked shows. However, these chants have been hijacking nearly every segment on RAW involving women. They’ve been pretty powerful chants and even after WrestleMania 32, where they got Sasha Banks in the Women’s Championship match, Sasha is still the woman the fans want to see. I’m pretty sure that if any one of the women are huge draws in terms of merchandise, it’s Sasha. She is a marketing company’s fantasy. She’s got the look, the fashion sense and the personality of an entertainment superstar. In fact, she’s actually related to an entertainment superstar in Snoop Dogg!

Despite all of this, the WWE are still banking on Charlotte to be their top woman in the women’s roster and the big guy calling the shots is now reportedly putting Sasha on the back-burner. According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Sasha is getting a reputation from WWE management for being injury-prone. Vince McMahon has reportedly told officials that Sasha only knows one speed in the ring and that is to go all out.

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Now there were reports in the past of Vince comparing Sasha to Daniel Bryan in the injury-prone and work-rate categories, which are actually pretty absurd comparisons to make. Long before his run in WWE, Daniel Bryan tore his body apart while wrestling around the world. Daniel’s even admitted that he and several independent guys like CM Punk had that old-school mentality of leaving it all in the ring no matter what. Whether Sasha has that much of a similar mentality of Bryan and Punk is up for debate, but I don’t see Sasha going all out THAT much. She does perform well but it’s really the big matches were she actually goes all out there. I don’t remember seeing a lot of RAW matches where Sasha went all out. Maybe it’s a different story on the house shows.

Not to mention that her most recent injury was actually just a legitimate freak accident involving a referee at a house show, who accidentally kneed her in the face and gave her a concussion.  It’s not like it’s a recurring injury for Sasha and this is the first time which I’ve seen Sasha out of action with injuries this often. I don’t think that makes her injury-prone. I would hardly call any of the WWE superstars injury-prone, with the exception of a small few. For those that are deemed “injury-prone,” I feel that it’s mostly due to the intense WWE schedule that sees the talent on the road for 300 days a year. Not to mention that outside projects with the WWE Network as well as other endevours will also not doubt be taking their toll. The wear and tear they get from the ring as well as other things will all build up, leading to them striking out eventually.

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Let’s take Nikki Bella for example. I know there’s not a great sense of respect for Nikki from a lot of fans, but I do respect a lot of aspects about her record-breaking Divas title reign. Think about it. She was working for months with an injury, which all lead up to neck surgery once she dropped the belt. During those months, she’d been working out like crazy (as her Instagram will prove) and taking bumps for nearly a year as the heel champion. Imagine how much strain every one of the Rack Attacks that Nikki did as she hoisted woman after woman onto her shoulders, only to drop them down. Not all of these women are easy to move either. Think about tall women like Charlotte or muscular women like Natalya. All of those strains eventually built and built to the point where Nikki’s career is looking in serious doubt.

It’s an essential part of professional wrestling for injuries to occur. After all, you’re putting on shows where the aim of the competitors is to hurt each other as much as they can. That’s the kayfabe goal of these workers and that involves people taking hits and taking punishment. It’s all part of the gig.

I kind of understand WWE’s mentality for not pushing the wrestlers that they think are “injury prone” as guys like Wade Barrett were hardly pushed again when they kept picking up injury after injury. However, this is Sasha Banks. She is still a brand new face in the company, particular as the top female on the roster. Guys like Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry have had opportunities in the past, making these decisions make a lot of sense. For Sasha though, it is upsetting to see her black-balled like this.

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Despite this, I believe that there is a lot more to this story than “injury-prone” concerns. I actually think RAW this week actually confirmed my suspicions. Remember on RAW two weeks ago, when they had the segment with Stephanie McMahon slapping Ric Flair? If you don’t, then no worries as I did write a review of the entire episode (that you can see at this link). There was a shot of Charlotte getting angry at Stephanie as she was supposedly about to charge her until Natalya cut her off. This was a tease of a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte.

Following this RAW, I mentioned that I believed that we are more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Charlotte vs Sasha (which was the reported plan for Summerslam for weeks). Then they did a segment on this week’s edition of RAW. In a backstage segment, Stephanie berated Charlotte in a babyface manner in order to add fuel to the fire. If this segment didn’t show that they are looking at other options, think again.

I don’t think that Charlotte vs Stephanie is the right move for Summerslam, but I’m still convinced that WWE would put more effort in promoting  that match as opposed to a potential Charlotte/Sasha match. Stephanie is doing her memoirs and her public perception is a big factor. Stephanie wrestling for the women’s championship one more time is a more appealing option to WWE than for Sasha to get her big title victory. Unfortunately for fans of The Boss, I don’t see a title reign for her in the near future.

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It’s a shame because Charlotte is not the woman that the WWE Universe want to see as the champion right now. The months and months of chants have given the WWE a fresh insight into the mindset of the fans. Sadly, it’s not strong enough to convince Vince to change his mind. My advice for wrestling fans that are hoping for a Sasha title reign to just keep up the “we want Sasha” chants. Just keep it up. At the end of the day, they’ll EVENTUALLY listen if things get crazy. If they did another main event women’s segment and these fans are chanting for Sasha, maybe that could be the deciding factor. The WWE will eventually listen… and you can take that to the bank.

WWE Announces 2016 Brand Split And SmackDown! Goes Live

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. BIG NEWS coming from the WWE, with the official announcement that the WWE brand split is coming back. RAW and SmackDown! will once again receive different and unique rosters, with SmackDown! also additionally becoming a permanent live show on Tuesday nights. This may be obvious, but there’s a lot to talk about with regards to this news and we’ll delve right into all of the speculation regarding how many titles we’ll have, who’s going where and the reasons for the brand split in the first place.

Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer, addressed this on the Wrestling Observer Live radio show I believe. He explained that one of the main reasons for WWE bringing back the brand split is to help generally increase television ratings, particularly on SmackDown! With SmackDown! previously being taped, the incentive to watch it dropped as wrestling fans could simply read what happened online and lose interest to actually see the show as it airs. This was obviously a big reason for why the decision was made to make it a live show. Jerry Lawler hinted at SmackDown! going live earlier on in the year and now, it’s actually happening.

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This picture was already clearly painted with the announcement made by Stephanie and Shane McMahon, but it is expected that Stephanie and Shane will run each show separately. The interesting thing is that both of them are reportedly expected to be babyface authority figures at first, which is a very unique direction for this brand split. Past brand splits usually saw one brand with the babyface authority figure and one with the heel authority figure. When the first brand split started, Ric Flair (the babyface) controlled RAW while Vince McMahon (the heel) controlled SmackDown! When the general managers were introduced, Stephanie ran SmackDown! as a babyface and Eric Bischoff ran RAW as a heel. Having two babyfaces controlling the show is different and it is a fresh change from the dictatorship we’ve seen since August 2013. I’m not sure whether it is wise to have BOTH brands being run by babyfaces. The purpose of having two different shows and a brand split is to make the audience seem like both shows are unique, in talent and in storylines. I could see why at this stage, they wouldn’t want Stephanie to be a heel going forward. With her upcoming memoirs, it is understandable why the WWE want Stephanie to be perceived better by the public. Turning Shane is possible, but Shane is still a popular babyface authority figure. That would be a hugely risky endevour. I would suspect that if there’s going to be any heel authority figure around, it will be Triple H.

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There are two big names earmarked for being the top guys on both shows, with John Cena and Roman Reigns ruling the roosts. No surprises here. Which superstar will go where is a big question. If the WWE are still banking on Roman Reigns, they may want to keep him on RAW and portray him as the top guy on the main show. However, it is possible that WWE would want John on RAW to get the RAW ratings right back up. John’s got a better ratings track record than Roman, so it would make sense. If Roman is also on SmackDown!, then there’s a lot less pressure on him to succeed on the “B show.”

An interesting note which came out is that it’s not a sure thing that Brock Lesnar will end up on RAW. I wouldn’t have assumed that Brock would be on RAW either as he appeared on SmackDown! a few times in the build up to WrestleMania. I think it is better for Brock to be on RAW than SmackDown! as he does do wonders to the ratings on that show. It’ll be interesting to see where all the part-timers go.

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There is reportedly a plan in place for two world championship in the WWE, one for each show. A lot of people will argue that there should be one main belt but I personally think that you’ve got enough diversity for their to be one for each brand. I argued way back before the titles were re-unified that the roster had become too integrated in order for two world titles to be around. Now though, you have enough talent to be able to keep these two shows separated. Now everyone can have their chance at each of the titles.

The one thing which will initially drive me nuts I think is the proposed idea that the Women’s Champion would be on both shows. I kind of agree with this as there’s not enough depth on the women’s side of things to be able to do two titles. However, I am very much against the idea of seeing Charlotte on both shows. To see her this much would really drive people away, knowing that all you’ll get in women’s angles from now on is just her. I don’t think she’s talented enough to able to undertake that kind of responsibility and pull it off. If Sasha Banks wins the title shortly afterwards, it’d be much more tolerable I think.

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So another big question is when the date of the draft will be? It’s highly expected at the moment that the draft lottery/selection will take place on the July 11th edition of RAW, which will be taking place in Detroit. Funnily enough, it’s a show that’s currently scheduled to feature Brock Lesnar.

I actually think that this makes a lot of sense, considering that this will follow the July 4th edition of RAW, with reportedly a lot of belief within the company that the July 4th edition will see a serious decline in viewers in a similar fashion to a lot of the past Christmas episodes. It’ll be good for them to want to show off a huge increase in the ratings for this big draft, and I think the ratings will be quite huge for this one.

It’s actually interesting, as it’s been reported that a lot of the talent were taken back by this. According to sources, they have no idea what’s going on or where they’ll even end up in the draft. This wouldn’t be the first time, as a lot of the wrestlers had no idea about the draft selections in the past. I remember the 2008 draft, when Jim Ross was drafted to SmackDown! He blogged about it the next day, saying that he had no idea beforehand. This draft may end up causing a lot of morale issues backstage, especially if certain acts are split up. I don’t think acts like the New Day will be broken up, but maybe some of the smaller teams could be done. I can even see a team like Enzo Amore and Big Cass being broken up. They’ve surprised us in the past.

Lastly, Vince McMahon is said to be “really pumped” about the brand split and I’m pretty much pumped up too. I remember blogging about bringing back the brand split last year and how much good it’ll do. Do go back and check it out at this link as there’s a lot of advantages to this.

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Overall, great news for the future of WWE in my opinion. Short term hard work for a long term gain, as Jim Ross once said. What do you think of the news? Tweet at me @TomRobinson5199 or the @ArmbarExpress, or leave a comment below.