Undertaker vs Shane McMahon Announced For WrestleMania 32

shane-taker
How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express to talk about a huge match announced for WrestleMania 32. It came from the big angle from RAW a few weeks ago that has generated a lot of buzz. Shane McMahon returned to the WWE and declared that he never lost his place as next-in-line for control of WWE. Shane revealed that he bailed Vince out a few years back which resulted in an agreement which meant that Shane would remain as the heir to WWE over Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Shane said that he wanted control of Monday Night RAW. Vince agreed to these terms on one condition. Vince said that Shane would win control if he won a match at WrestleMania 32. It was revealed that his match would be a Hell in a Cell match and that his opponent would be the Undertaker.
Rather shocking developments on RAW a few weeks ago. I don’t think a lot of people would have guessed that WWE’s reported “secret” opponent for the Undertaker would turn out to be Shane McMahon. It was reported by Dave Meltzer that WWE had been planning to have a secret opponent for the Dead Man who had not been a part of the main roster. The thing is, I still expected it to be somebody from the main roster and that’s mostly because I couldn’t think of anyone outside of WWE that they could use. I thought about people like Batista, but I don’t think Batista would want to come back to the company at this time. Batista seems to be at odds with WWE, especially when he suggested on Twitter that Titus O’Neil should ask for his release. It’s very difficult to think of anyone that could have been in that role.
All I’ll say at this moment is that Shane would not have been high on my list of people that should have faced the Undertaker. I could think of a lot of guys that would have benefited more from wrestling Undertaker than Shane. I don’t know what kind of contract Shane signed when he came back but the thing is, Shane’s not an active member of the roster. His main profession in life is not professional wrestling. He’s a business man that has not wrestled in the company since 2009. He is 46 years old. The idea that he could put on a high quality match with the Undertaker seems absurd to me.
hellinacell
With the match being Hell in a Cell, there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors that WWE could have thrown in to help the match. Even if you did though, I just don’t think it would be a match that could have a great deal of impact. You’re pitting the 50-year-old Undertaker up against the 46-year-old Shane McMahon. None of these men are active members of the roster.
However, maybe I’m jumping the gun here. Undertaker has a certain amount of “creative control” when it comes to Wrestlemania. I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t have announced this match without Undertaker’s input, so it seems that Taker would have been OK with it and would have known how to get a good match out of Shane. Right now, I’m not convinced that this would be a great spectacle in 2016 but I do wish that I was proven wrong.
720x405-vjmaward_12-e5b21086c601203e01c214f81c430616
The thing about Shane is that for whatever reason, he got an insane pop on Monday Night RAW. People have been talking about him since he came back and it’s really caught me off guard just the amount of attention Shane’s getting. I think it’s awesome for WWE that he is generating that interest and it may actually help when it comes to bringing up ratings for Wrestlemania. RAW actually had a big increase in viewership on the RAW where he came back, so they’re on the right track. I think that was going to happen anyway, since there was the intrigue about what happened at Fastlane. However, Shane could provide a lot moving forward in that department.
It’s interesting to speculate about Shane’s role in the company. While a WWE spokesman has come out recently to state that Shane’s involvement at the company is currently just as an on-screen character, people in business have talked about Shane taking an executive role in the company. It’d be interesting if that happened, but I would be really surprised that it did. I figured if it were, he would have gotten involved with the company a lot sooner in a business position.
undertaker-2
Back to the match, there’s a lot of rumours running wild about what this means for WWE going forth. There’s a LOT of people thinking that Shane is going to take over as the new authority figure in the company with this storyline. Bryan Alvarez actually speculated that Shane might actually BEAT the Undertaker and gain control. I would be INCREDIBLY shocked if this were to happen. Then again, there were reports recently of WWE vs RAW events being plugged for house shows for after Wrestlemania. Whether that was an error or whether that relates to the storyline is questionable, but it is interesting. I think Shane would be a breath of fresh air as the new storyline authority figure but it’ll be interesting to see if it’d last long. Again, we don’t know much about Shane’s contract so it’s all up in the air.
The thing that does hurt the match is the motivation of the Undertaker. On this week’s episode of RAW, WWE had a great opportunity to have Undertaker explain his stake in this. However, Undertaker never really did. Therefore, the match suddenly becomes all about the McMahon family and Undertaker is there playing a supporting role which is really not what an Undertaker match should be like.
monday-night-raw-logo
Shane McMahon is expected to be on RAW next week, and both Shane and Undertaker are currently scheduled for RAW in two weeks. At least WWE does have four or five weeks to better develop the storyline and interest in the match. I just hope they do and I hope they can pull off something great in Texas.

#CancelWWENetwork Trends After Fastlane 2016 – Thoughts and Reactions

fastlane-2015-logo
NOTE: The following post was written before the Monday Night RAW after Fastlane.
How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with an initial post-Fastlane reaction to #CancelWWENetwork trending on Twitter following the main event of the show. For those of you that want to know what happened, Roman Reigns won the triple threat match to earn a WWE World title shot at Wrestlemania 32 against Triple H. This caused major upset among the WWE universe as the #CancelWWENetwork hashtag trended.
This is not the first time that the hashtag has trended on Twitter. If you’ll recall, last year’s Royal Rumble ended with Roman Reigns going over and the hashtag causing the subscription cancellation page for the network to crash. I don’t think the hashtag will cause a backlash of that degree in this case. It did cause WWE to change plans for the finish of Wrestlemania 31 before, but I don’t think it’ll make a bit of difference this year. As it turned out, the amount of people that actually went through with unsubscribing to the network was very small. On Twitter, people have been posting pictures of themselves actually cancelling their subscriptions. However, I don’t think the amount will actually make a lot of difference to WWE as the subscription numbers will rise for Wrestlemania anyway.
20160221_1920x1080_fastlane_main_results_spear-5047165f71fb837af3ebdb5e0a1909d3
I’ll admit that I haven’t watched Fastlane yet and I probably won’t until later on in the week. The thing about Fastlane was that it’s gotten very mixed reviews. On Twitter, I’ve seen a lot of negativity about the pay-per-view. However, I’ve spoken to a lot of fans that have said the pay-per-view was actually “solid” and that the main event was actually great until the finish.
Again, I haven’t seen the pay-per-view yet. The thing is if the pay-per-view was bad and then they went with the finish they did with Roman going over, I could understand the frustrations of the fans. They want to see a good product and if they don’t get it, they’re not going to let their frustrations build inside of them. I remember being furious at WWE for the 2015 Royal Rumble, mostly because of how it was booked. That’s one of those moments where I truly believe that the backlash received was justified because of how bad the show was. For Fastlane though, it seems that the backlash is mostly because of Roman going over and the finish which I think is a bit extreme.
If the main event was good, AJ vs Jericho was good and the rest of the pay-per-view was fine, to call the pay-per-view bad because of who won the main event seems a bit much. It seems a bit much because what exactly did you think was going to happen at Fastlane? Did anyone honestly think that Brock Lesnar was going to win last night? No. Brock Lesnar vs Triple H for the title at Mania was just not going to happen. There’s a lot of people who were probably thinking that Dean might win the match, but I didn’t think so. Brock Lesnar laid him out over and over again on RAW and SmackDown! and Dean dropped the Intercontinental title on RAW. Dean was nowhere near booked well enough for a Wrestlemania main-event push. The expectation was that Dean was going to be the one that got pinned or submitted to protect Roman and Brock, and that’s exactly what happened. Did anyone really think that the finish of the Fastlane main event WASN’T going to be Roman Reigns pinning Dean Ambrose to win the match?
roman1-1200x675
WWE being predictable is not my cup of tea. However, the company also has a clear vision of what they want the main event of Wrestlemania to look like. It was always going to be Roman Reigns vs Triple H. If they have a plan, it’s better that they stick with it and promote that match to the best of their ability rather than come up with a new plan at the last minute. If they put Dean in there with little personal animosity with Triple H beforehand, it wouldn’t make any sense when taking every other storyline in the last year into account. If you start it off with Roman Reigns, you might as well end it with Roman Reigns.
The issue last year with Roman is that the guy wasn’t over to the level of his push. This year, he is nearly over to that level. He is not in Stone Cold Steve Austin territory or anything crazy like that. However, he’s at least making a lot more progress than last year. That tells you something. It has not been that great for Roman since this year’s Royal Rumble but that’s the problem with booking Roman against two of the most popular wrestlers on the roster for a title match at Wrestlemania.
I’ve written about this for SLTD Wrestling a few times now. I was disapproving of the main event of Fastlane because of the reason mentioned earlier. I was disapproving of the main event of Triple H vs Roman Reigns for Wrestlemania because I didn’t think it should have been for the WWE World title. However, I at least admire WWE’s attempts of having a plan and sticking to it. It was better than throwing Dean Ambrose into the mix all of a sudden or throwing Brock Lesnar into the mix. I wish they had went a different way for a main event of Wrestlemania. For what they’re doing though, they’re not doing a too terrible job at promoting up the match.
brock-lesnar-dean-ambrose-wwe-fastlane_3419591
I just don’t see what the fans were expecting from Fastlane. They gave you a seemingly good show but it’s still deemed a failure over how the main event played out?
It’s an interesting situation. I don’t see any plans for Wrestlemania changing because of this but it is bad news for Roman in terms of how he’s perceived by the fans. It’ll be interesting to see how WWE will try to turn this around.

AJ Styles Vs Chris Jericho II On SmackDown!

 

wwe-smackdown-logo-2015-660x330

AJ Styles was a phenomenal signing for WWE. He was so phenomenal that WWE decided to put AJ on the main roster as soon as he arrived. Think of all the stars that have wrestled on NXT before appearing on the main roster. Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe and even Jushin Thunder Liger have all appeared on NXT instead of first debuting on the main roster. Imagine that you’ve got a star like AJ in your ranks.

You’ve got a man that was a major part of the development of TNA, which had been the second top wrestling promotion in the world for years. You’ve got a man that was the IWGP Champion just before he left. It’s the same title held by the likes of Brock Lesnar, who is considered a very special attraction for WWE. You’ve got a man with phenomenal skills in the ring and could give you a new legitimate star in your ranks. Less than a month into his career, AJ’s promising career in WWE has already been ruined in the exact same way that so many new stars could have been created. 50/50 booking.

chris-jericho-aj-styles-wwe-smackdown_3414648

In case you missed SmackDown!, AJ Styles lost his first WWE match and he did it clean. He lost his big rematch against Chris Jericho to a simple codebreaker. How does this do either man ANY favours? How does it do Chris Jericho any favours? He’s not exactly going to have a big part in the future of WWE. He’s coming towards the end of his career. He should not be beating guys like AJ Styles so cleanly. Wouldn’t it make more sense for Jericho to lose to AJ again and have him keep losing until the end of the feud? Each time Jericho loses, he gets more and more annoyed with himself. It’s a simple feud which will elevate AJ whether he loses the final match or not. It doesn’t do too much damage to Jericho as he still would likely win the final match.

I really don’t understand the logic of having Jericho suddenly being booked as one of the best wrestlers in the company again. Jericho is 45 years old and has not won a championship since 2010. The idea that he is on par with the top stars in the company in 2016 is just absurd. He even lasted 50 minutes in the Royal Rumble match. How bad does that make the rest of the wrestlers look when Jericho is leaving them in the dust?

jericho-styles

I get that Chris Jericho has historically been a top star in WWE but you can’t be booking him so great right now. My idea earlier about having Jericho getting more and more angry at himself for not being able to put AJ away would actually be a great bit of character development for Jericho, as it would be Jericho questioning whether he could still hang with the best any more. You can’t go from having Jericho putting over guys like Fandango to beating AJ Styles in an instant as it just seems unbelievable. You’ve had Jericho putting over younger stars for years, so it’s going to be hard to convince the casual viewer that Jericho is as good as everyone else after not accomplishing a great deal in the last five years.

WWE’s sudden insistence on putting Jericho over as a top star in 2016 is just infuriating to me. It was like the Highlight Reel segment a month ago, when Jericho said that he, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar were the three favourites to win the Royal Rumble. Again, it makes everyone else look bad.

aj-styles-chris-jericho-wwe-smackdown_3411064

I’ve been talking about Jericho for a while but the one that will likely ne most effected by this match is AJ. Now AJ Styles is in the same position as everyone else on the roster. He is beatable after just a few weeks. I’ve seen everyone get beaten eventually. There’s never been a professional wrestler that has never lost a match. That’s just how wrestling works. They beat Goldberg. They beat Brock Lesnar. They even beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. However, a new star should always be protected when he/she enters your company. AJ Styles, in particular, should be promoted as one of the best you have to offer. He should be one of the wrestlers that you should be protecting as he’s just arrived in an emphatic way. Now though, he’s been subjected to the same detrimental booking as everyone else on the roster.

WWE’s idea of “50/50 booking”, to make sure that they don’t upset any particular fan bases, is just going to kill any attempts at creating new stars. That will result in the fans only showing a great deal of interest in the likes of Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and John Cena. Therefore, the fans will only be invested in those characters.

In a time where stars need to be made, there has to be a lot more wrestlers exempt from this booking and AJ Styles is someone that should have been spared this. This was a poor decision by WWE to have him lose to Jericho and to have him lose this early into his WWE career.

SPOILER ALERT – Title Change To Take Place On SmackDown!

NOTE: The following post features major spoilers from this week’s episode of SmackDown! If you do not wish to be spoiled, click away now.

wwe-smackdown-logo-2015-660x330

When I heard that Kalisto had beaten Alberto Del Rio for the United States Championship on RAW, I was all for it. I’ve talked in the past about how Kalisto can become a top star in WWE if pushed right and this was the biggest win of his career. Not even a year into his time on the main roster and he’s already a champion. Not even a year into his time on the main roster and he’s already won a title that was held by John Cena only a few months ago. This was a huge moment for Kalisto and I thought this was the start of something special. A day later though, it seems that this optimism has all been wasted.

What happened on the Tuesday tapings of SmackDown? How did WWE follow up on Kalisto’s big win? Well I can reveal that what happened was that Alberto Del Rio won back the United States Championship in a rematch. That moment on Monday Night RAW and all of that momentum built by Kalisto beforehand seemingly halted as his moment of glory lasted a grand total of 24 hours.

albertokalisto

I was actually planning an article for Kalisto after finding out he won the US title and this was going to be a pretty positive article until I found out what happened on SmackDown! One of the points I was going to make is that WWE should have been careful about when they were to have Kalisto drop the title. It had to be against the right person and he should have something to do afterwards that made him still relevant in the company.

What WWE did was have the title reign last ONE day (three if you’re starting the reign from the date the title change airs) and it was to the same guy that he had beaten before. Therefore, it makes Kalisto look like a fluke champion. What does that do for Kalisto going forward, unless he wins it back at the Royal Rumble?

adr-1_3369278

Even if the title does change hands again, that’d still be detrimental to the prestige of the title. The US title has been a title that’s rarely been hot-shotted really since Santino Marrella won the belt back in early 2012. He had a surprisingly long title reign. Cesaro had a long title reign. Dean Ambrose had a REALLY long title reign. Sheamus had a long title reign. Rusev had a long title reign. John Cena had a long title reign. That’s what made it stand out as a belt.

Since John Cena dropped the belt to Seth Rollins at Summerslam though, each title reign is making the belt seem less prestigious. OK, I understand that the US title change at Summerslam was really done to give Seth a strong bragging right and really make him seem like the top guy in the company. I understand that John Cena had to win it back in order to continue with his John Cena US Open Challenge to keep elevating the title. I understand the decision to have Cena drop the belt at Hell in a Cell as he was getting time off and what’s more, they put it on the right guy in Del Rio.

With these last two title changes, now we’re back to the title meaning less and less with every title change. Alberto Del Rio is nowhere near as over as he was when he first won the title. Kalisto himself is not even an established star yet. He could have been… but only if you had made his first title reign mean something.

RAW_1153_Photo_137-670640200

That first title reign is so important because it has to have mean for those that hold it. You could even claim that Christian’s two day World Heavyweight Championship reign had meaning as it was the catalyst of the biggest program of his life. That gives a character some value. What does Kalisto’s day long title reign accomplish?

It’s not like Kalisto is a 18 year long veteran that’s just won his first world title. This is an exciting new luchador that’s burst onto the scene big time and won his FIRST title in the company (not including his NXT Tag Title run). All the title loss does is make Kalisto out to be a one hit wonder. Christian will not go down as a one-hit wonder as he has a substantial career to his name. Kalisto doesn’t have that.

I feel that WWE’s thinking with these title changes was to make the TV viewers believe that anything can happen. After all, Roman Reigns winning the WWE World title on RAW a few weeks ago pulled one of the best RAW viewership numbers in the year. I would be OK with it if they didn’t do the two title changes in the same week. This is like when the WCW World title would change hands every week in 2000 leaving the viewers confused about who the top guy is.

raw-smackdown-600x300

If anything, these tactics can prove to be detrimental for the TV ratings. The WCW ratings were at their worst when they were doing that. The viewership for this week’s RAW actually went down from last week, which tells you that the idea of frequent title changes didn’t really do much for them. Maybe the SmackDown! numbers will be up though as WWE have already announced the title change on WWE.com and more people might tune in to see it.

I think WWE will need to have a plan in place to justify these title changes. If not, then the future doesn’t look great for Kalisto.

John Cena Requires Shoulder Surgery, May Miss Wrestlemania 32

720x405-183_raw_12282015hmm_1424-1760816960

How’s it going everybody? This week has been a huge week for wrestling as 2016 has started off with some heavy news. There’s been reports of wrestlers from New Japan Pro Wrestling signing with the WWE, the Royal Rumble match will now be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the WWE’s plans for Wrestlemania are set to change yet again as they’ve been struck with another huge blow.

John Cena has confirmed via Twitter that he will be undergoing shoulder surgery in Birmingham, Alabama and according to PWInsider, he could be sidelined with a rotator cuff injury which may see him out for 6-9 months.

It really is a huge blow for WWE going into Wrestlemania season and their plans for the event. I’ve talked a few times before about how there was no real indication about what the card was going to look like but I think it was pretty clear that Cena was going to be a big part of it so again, I bet things are getting nutty within WWE’s creative team.

When Seth Rollins went down with his injury last year, it forced WWE to change their plans for the next few months as Seth was obviously the champion and probably set for a big match himself at Mania. I think it was more of a concern with that incident as Seth was the champion and nobody was really ready to take the title from him.

Reports suggest that there were plans for Roman Reigns to beat Seth Rollins at Survivor Series anyway for the belt but Roman was still not over to the level of his push at the time. Now though, things are going much better for Reigns and he really is becoming a top star in his own right.

076_RAW_11162015cm_1113-3406421125-600x337

 

However, I still think with Cena’s injury that all hands are on deck for the writers. The reason I say this is because if Roman Reigns goes down, who do they have to be the top babyface on the main roster after Wrestlemania season?

Think about it. How many wrestlers can you think of? Dean Ambrose would be one of those guys that they would get behind but only because they have no other choice. When they’ve pushed Ambrose in the past, it’s been more of a reluctant push for him. They’d put him in the main event scene but not a lot was done to protect him while he was there. Therefore when he got out of those title feuds, he was right back down the card.

Now let’s think about the other babyfaces. Dolph Ziggler? Neville? They could give the ball to them but it was not like either of them were protected this week on RAW. Ziggler lost to HEATH SLATER (albeit with interference) and Neville lost clean to Kevin Owens. Who could possibly take these two seriously as main eventers? In fact, the only babyfaces that won on Monday night were Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch and Titus O’Neil. It’s not like they’re going to give Titus a really big push towards the title either (even though I’d personally love to see that!) so as it stands, nobody is close to being over to a top level.

I think it’s probably accurate to say that while the roster is the most talented one probably in the history of the company, it could also be said that this could be the most underdeveloped roster of all time leading into a Wrestlemania in terms of star power. Wrestlemania 2000 was a bad one as Stone Cold Steve Austin and Undertaker were both out due to injuries but at least wrestling was hot around that time and they had The Rock becoming the top star while Austin was out. This time around, they’ve got no-one near to the level of overness that The Rock was on.

Cena-vs-Reigns.0

It’s a sad state of affairs for WWE in terms of their roster and John Cena does not help with his injury. It’s a blow to WWE’s future plans. John Cena was advertised for the Royal Rumble event and was even on the poster for the show. The chances are that he was going to have a big part of it. I suspect that their plans for Cena would be for him to go up against Roman Reigns for the belt in the main event of Wrestlemania.

I know they did that tease after RAW a week or two ago but there were also reports of Cena going up against Undertaker. To be honest, I didn’t see WWE having anyone else on the main roster to go up against Roman so that’s why I thought it was going to be Cena. They need an active wrestler coming out of Wrestlemania as champion so I just dismissed the Taker rumours and thought that this was the year where Cena was either going to set up his match with Roman as the challenger or was going to get his 16th title reign and his third Rumble win to tie with Stone Cold Steve Austin for most Rumble wins.

Tribute-to-the-Troops-Cena-645x370

It’s very interesting from a business perspective about how much impact Cena will have. There’s no real precedent for Cena being out for an extremely long period of time. Cena’s rehab has been superhuman at times and he really has pulled off some insane injury recoveries in the past! I wouldn’t want to rush Cena back but WWE would probably want him back sooner if the pay-per-view buys, merchandise and TV numbers don’t do so well.

I think from a merchandise perspective, it’s going to be a hard few months. John Cena is obviously their top guy in terms of t-shirt sales and other merchandise. If he’s not around though, it’s not like they’ll be releasing more t-shirts for the foreseeable future as he won’t be around to wear them. I feel that they are going to take a huge hit in that department. John Cena could take on an non-wrestling/authority figure role while he’s injured I guess, in order to keep up his merchandise.

I don’t think there’s any real correlation between pay-per-view buys/WWE Network subscriptions and Cena’s effect on them because again, he’s not really been out for a really long period of time. I remember that John Cena was not booked for the TLC 2011 event at all and the buy-rates went up from the year before but again, that’s very hard to go off because that happened years ago. It’s very hard to say how big of an impact his absence will have.

monday-night-raw-logo

As far as TV ratings is concerned, it’s not like the ratings are plummeting right now. There was a time after Cena took his break last year that the ratings did drop to their lowest in nearly 20 years but the ratings have rose up in the past month or so, largely due to how well Reigns is getting over.

It’s all really up in the air about what’ll happen from a business stand-point. All I know is that the odds of Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble this year have really went up in my estimation. Roman’s doing so well and I think the company will be behind Roman more than ever now that Cena’s out. I think that’s a great thing but there’s not a lot of challengers out there that could really be considered as legitimate main event talent unless you were to dip into the part-timer pool.

20150719_Thumb_battleground_LesnarTaker

Even that is limited though. Undertaker seems very close to calling it a day and his health is really unpredictable at this point. We don’t know how well Sting is physically. It seems that Daniel Bryan will never be cleared to compete by the WWE doctores. The Rock is a movie star that probably wouldn’t have the time to be the champion again. The only one I can think off that would make sense is Brock Lesnar but I don’t think they’d be willing to pay him more often.

I think Roman vs. Brock for the title is really the way to go for Wrestlemania. Brock does have more of a proven track-record for pay-per-view buys and TV ratings than anyone on the main roster but again, it’s going to be a costly endeavour.

For those of you wondering, this will be the first Wrestlemania John Cena will miss since he debuted on the main roster in 2002. That’s incredible if you think about it because again, there’s no real precedent set for Cena’s effect on the buy-rates for Wrestlemania.

john-cena-gives-jon-stewart-an-attitude-adjustment-on-wwe-monday-night-raw

It’ll be interesting to see how WWE reacts to this to say the least. Maybe they won’t need to panic depending on Roman but losing a top star is always a bad deal. When you lose a star like John Cena, it could end up being a catastrophic deal for them.

Tweet to @ArmbarExpress to share your thoughts or leave a comment to tell me what you think about this news and what do you think the Wrestlemania 32 card will look like with John Cena out of commission.

Reports Of WWE Raiding NJPW Talent – Thoughts and Reactions

bullet-club-seizes-power-in-njpw

Some huge news has come out in the wrestling world. The WWE’s interest in independent talent has certainly increased in the last few years with the rise of NXT. With a number of NXT’s top talent being promoted or soon to be promoted up to the main roster, the pressure is on WWE to sign up new top talent to maintain the star power of the territory. Apparently, the WWE have got some top stars in mind. New Japan Pro Wrestling is reportedly in store for a huge raid of stars from the WWE which includes some members of the “Bullet Club” and Shinsuke Nakamura possibly making the jump.

According to Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer, WWE have been going after four big names in particular. The Bullet Club members include Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows, who have really shined in Japan. Doc Gallows joining WWE once again is very interesting as Doc has certainly changed a lot since his departure in 2010. I’m guessing the WWE will hold Doc in higher regard when booking him this time around and it’ll be interesting to see how Gallows and Anderson would be treated on the shows.

68e727072deb5a2c864ae7482ba3c0d7

Shinsuke Nakamura is a HUGE name to be linked to WWE. Nakamura has been a tremendous star in Japan and someone that huge from that nation coming over to WWE would be an amazing coup for WWE. When KENTA (Hideo Itami) signed last year, there was a huge deal made about it. Due to his injury though, KENTA has not been able to make the big impact that that the WWE were hoping. I think they were banking on KENTA to really be the top Japanese draw for them and it would have probably worked had he not went down. With Nakamura though, WWE would have a legitimate International superstar on their pay-roll that’s really going to help maintain that audience in Asia.

The last name reported is AJ Styles. AJ has been linked to WWE over and over again since he left TNA but as of now, he’s apparently not under contract to NJPW or anyone major right now. AJ does have a number of independent bookings to fulfil, including the dream match between him and Rey Mysterio at an event in Sheffield this month. I think Gallows, Anderson and Nakamura will want to honour their ROH dates as well but as Alberto Del Rio proved, WWE might get in the way of these dates from being honoured. Del Rio was supposed to drop the AAA title after Hell in a Cell but reportedly, he told AAA that WWE wouldn’t let him drop the belt at an AAA event. With ROH, I don’t know.

aj-styles-blue-bullet-club-gear

Nakamura is not expected to leave NJPW right away, but it appears nothing is stopping AJ. He’s not under contract and he’s also followed Triple H on Twitter. Accuse me of reading too much into this, but Samoa Joe also followed Triple H on Twitter just before he signed last year. It might not mean anything and it could be just AJ keeping us guessing, but AJ does seem to be in the best contractual position to join WWE.

I’ve heard that Vince McMahon was very upset about the news getting out as he was planning a surprise of some sort for the Royal Rumble. Whether it’s a special Bullet Club deal with AJ, Doc, Gallows and possibly Finn Balor (who was in the group as Prince Devitt before he joined WWE) or not is up for question but if they had a plan, I hope they follow through with it regardless of the leak.

njpw-wrestle-kingdom-10-645x370

I actually think the leak would have helped the moment a bit more. If AJ Styles had shown up as a mystery entrant or something, I think it would have gotten a big reaction that night but I still think there’s a huge part of the WWE fan base that wouldn’t know who AJ is. I think with the leak, those fans would be more likely to go “Who is AJ Styles?” and search him on YouTube or whatever. I think that would help it if anything.

I know Vince likes to keep the fans guessing but this is a rare time where the reports would actually aid AJ’s success if he shows up on the main roster first.

It’s a whole different debate about whether these four would be on the main roster first or if they would start in NXT first. I’m sure someone like AJ should start on the main roster first but there’s a chance that WWE want to “test the waters” with him on NXT first before throwing him into the deep end. I think they could get away with having Doc show up on the main roster first as he was previously a WWE superstar. It’s interesting all of this if it turns out to be true.

 

TNA Announces New TV Deal With Pop.TV

q1IHG8V

A bit of news regarding TNA and the future of the company. TNA’s social media accounts as well as TNA President Dixie Carter’s all went dark as a timer started on their website counting down to a big announcement of some sort. For TNA fans, it’s the announcement that they’ve been hoping for. It was announced today that TNA have managed to seal a new television deal with Pop.TV which will begin on January 5th 2016.

Down below is the full press release from TNA with more details of the news…

“POP AND IMPACT WRESTLING PARTNER TO BRING FANS RINGSIDE FOR WEEKLY EVENT BROADCAST PREMIERING ON TUESDAY, JAN. 5, 2016

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. – Nov. 19, 2015 – Get ready for #ImpactOnPop. Pop, a network that celebrates the excitement of being a fan, will soon become the exclusive U.S. television home of IMPACT WRESTLING, the hard-hitting, high-flying global sports sensation enjoyed by millions of fans around the world.

Pop will premiere IMPACT WRESTLING with a live two-hour, action-packed broadcast on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016, and the show will continue to air every Tuesday night at 9:00 PM, ET/PT. The show features some of the biggest stars in professional wrestling, including Jeff and Matt Hardy, EC3, Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley, The Wolves, Eric Young, Tigre Uno and Gail Kim.

“Wrestling has been a fan-fueled staple since the ‘50s, and continues to be some of the most-watched appointment television today. The die-hard fandom and extraordinary passion surrounding IMPACT WRESTLING captures the spirit of Pop as a network that celebrates fan-driven entertainment and excitement,” said Brad Schwartz, President of Pop. “We’re committed to this new partnership and psyched to bring the show’s loyal fans a dedicated night to watch their favorite show on Pop every week.”

IMPACT WRESTLING is a strong global brand seen on networks in more than 120 countries around the world and broadcast in 17 languages. Its fans are some of the most devoted and socially active in sports, with more than 15 million aggregated social media followers and nearly 700 million video views on YouTube, making it the seventh-most-viewed sports channel, ahead of MLB®, NHL®, MLS® and FIFATV®.

“Pop’s enthusiasm for our partnership and the network’s fan focus is a perfect fit for our company,” said TNA President Dixie Carter. “Wresting has always been at the forefront of pop culture with the most passionate, loyal fan base. We’re thrilled to be in business with Pop and to bring IMPACT WRESTLING to more than 80 million homes.”

To find IMPACT WRESTLING on Pop, go to http://poptv.com.”

pop_tv_logo_detail

This is obviously such a huge boost for TNA as they’ve managed to secure a new deal with their time at Destination America coming to an end. It was wondered whether TNA could survive without the TV deal but as it turns out, they were able to get a deal together.

The new day for TNA is Tuesday which I actually think works out for the best as there’s no other wrestling on TV that day I think. On Wednesday, they had competition from ROH and NXT. At least here, they don’t have to worry about needing to counter-program. I do question the decision for TNA to be two hours long as I’m more of a fan of one hour wrestling shows than two. Three hours of RAW is an even greater struggle!

It’s good news for the wrestling industry in general as it gives wrestlers more of an incentive to stay in TNA and for more sponsors and partners to get involved. I would never wish for a wrestling company to go out of business at all and I am all for this deal going down.

Dixie Carter_LS (1)

A lot of people will say that it’s just prolonging the inevitable but this does give TNA a lot of opportunities to seriously go through the roster and having a serious revamp to make sure that they’re at least more prepared if a similar deal of losing a TV contract happens again. It may keep them going for a while but Dixie and the rest of those running the company cannot rest easy. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine just yet.

It’s funny that TNA’s deal was spoiled an hour before the countdown hit zero as the video was suddenly changed from “private” to “unlisted” which meant that a YouTuber was able to save the video before TNA changed it in time! Bit of a blunder but at least the deal is out there now!

I do have a problem with a lot of the criticism given to Dave Meltzer over his reporting of the whole deal as he was the first to initially report that Destination America was not renewing Impact. Eric Young came out and tweeted on previous reports about Impact not being renewed by Destination America.

I really don’t think this was the right route for Eric to take. As a former Multimedia Journalism student in my own right, I don’t think there was anything fishy about the report Dave wrote about TNA. Dave was actually the first to report about TNA getting the deal with Destination America and he’s an esteemed reporter with many years of experience and knowledge on wrestling.

Eric going out on Twitter, trying to rub it all in and taking shots at reporters is just not going to make the company look good in the eyes of the public. A lot of the wrestlers are taking the high road and just talking about how great the deal is and how big a breakthrough it is for TNA. Rockstar Spud actually came out in defence of Dave on Twitter.

So big news for TNA and this I think would at least keep the company going for a bit longer and give them time to come back stronger than ever. I’m all for this and I wish that they use this new deal wisely.

Nikki Bella Tops PWI’s Female 50 List – Thoughts and Reactions

brie-nikki-bella-twins-1000x600

How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here again to talk about the PWI Female 50 list. The 2015 edition has just came out as Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked the women of wrestling to see which one reigns supreme. Recently, Seth Rollins won the men’s PWI 500 list and rightfully so in my opinion. Seth’s been probably the hardest worker of the year in the wrestling industry, with a few close challengers. However, the winner of the PWI Female list has been very controversial as a lot of people feel she doesn’t deserve it. The #1 diva is not Paige, Sasha Banks, Bayley or Charlotte. The #1 diva is Nikki Bella.

I went on Twitter and wrestling websites with many fans arguing that Nikki doesn’t deserve this honour. For the record, I totally disagree with a lot of the criticism Nikki gets. It does kind of annoy me considering Nikki has come a long way since she first started in WWE. Watch her and Brie’s matches when they started at the company. She’s come a long way since those days and has certainly worked hard!

A lot of the fans wanted women like Sasha Banks and Paige to be the top diva on the list. Being huge fans of both those women, I can see why they’d believe that. Sasha’s had some of the best matches of the year and those matches even surpass a lot of the men’s top PPV matches! However, I can see why Nikki was chosen instead of those women. Allow me to play the devil’s advocate for those of you unsure about Nikki.

nikki-850x560

Nikki’s actually probably been the most active in WWE throughout the year, which I think is the first reason for Nikki winning it. Any former WWE wrestler will tell you the struggles of working 300 days a year, travelling around the world. Nikki’s not really had long lengths of time out of WWE being involved in the Divas title picture for the majority of the last 12 months. That factors into her ranking because she’s had to work in high profile divas matches throughout the year, which plays a big role. Especially during a time where more time and attention is given to the women and there’s a lot more pressure on Nikki to perform with these other NXT stars that were just putting on great match after great match. Despite that, Nikki’s matches with the likes of Charlotte actually haven’t been that bad.

Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte and Becky Lynch have all had a lot of great matches during the year. However, keep in mind a lot of those matches happened in NXT. For the majority of the year, these women have wrestled at Full Sail University. Sasha, Charlotte and Becky are only just adjusting to a busy time on the road. Nikki’s had to just do it week in and week out for the last year, travelling around the world. That must come into play when making this list.

PCB-Paige-Charlotte-Becky-Lynch-645x365

With that being said, I know a lot of you will be thinking “How about Paige?” Paige has also been on the road throughout the year. Paige was off for a few weeks following Wrestlemania but she has been there throughout the year. As much as I love Paige, what gives Nikki the edge is that she knows exactly what her character is and is able to portray it. She is someone you are supposed to hate and she gets the heat she requires. For Paige, her character has been somewhat confusing during the year and it’s been difficult for her to maintain a substantial character.

It’s started off with Paige becoming a fan favourite again after helping Natalya but somewhat portraying an untrustworthy diva. Then she started becoming more like an agent of change, standing up against the supposed tyranny of the Bellas and being OK with doing it on her own. It then led to Team PCB being formed and Paige suddenly forming pinky swears with two women that didn’t really come off as believable friends. This then lead to the eventual break up, where Paige suddenly became that untrustworthy, selfish heel again.

On the other hand, Nikki’s character and portrayal has been pretty consistent… with the exception of that one month where she was a face. She’s clearly showcased as an egotistical heel with an apparent god-complex. Her kayfabe character is someone that is really not willing to work hard in order to achieve her goals and is reliant from the help of her sister and Alicia Fox. It’s very apparent that she’s a villain and the crowd reaction shows that she’s playing her character.

nikki-bella-wwe

Now obviously her crowd reaction being the closest to what it should be doesn’t mean that she should be #1 on this list. It’s about the total package. If it were me, I might have went a different way but I can still she why Nikki topped this list. She’s been one of the hardest workers for the WWE all year, forced to step up her game after seeing the bar being raised by the women of NXT. She’s doing her best. I may not have liked her matches with Charlotte at the last two PPVs but she’s still trying. Not only is she raising her game but she’s also been doing it while actually waiving the flag for the division as their Divas Champion. It’s a tall order to be a champion, particularly for how long Nikki held onto the belt. She may not have been the ultimate worker but this was quite a year for Nikki Bella.

Seth Rollins Out Of Action For 6-9 Months, New WWE Champion To Be Crowned At Survivor Series

Seth Rollins, Colby Lopez

How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a bit of breaking news. It’s been confirmed that at a live event in Dublin, Seth Rollins suffered right ACL, MCL and medial meniscus tears during a No Holds Barred match with Kane. It was initially unclear about whether this was something Seth could shake off but now it seems that the injury is worse than we feared. It means that Seth will be out of action for around 6-9 months which of course means that the WWE World Title has been vacated. A new champion will be crowned in a tournament at Survivor Series.

I don’t even know where to start. It’s very heartbreaking to see as Seth has been such a star for WWE in the past few years. He’s been a prominent feature on the product, having main-evented nearly every PPV this year and being the top heel in the company. He also has the distinction of holding the WWE World title longer than anyone else after they cashed in Money In The Bank. He’s been an integral part of the show so to see him lose the belt like that is very disheartening.

It’s such a blow for WWE, especially with John Cena taking time off. A lot of people have speculated that Cena might be rushed back to win the WWE World title. I would respect Cena’s wishes and leave him off of TV, but I could see why WWE might want to do that.

Roman-Reigns-2

It’s going to be hard to see who will take the mantle as the top heel in the company now. I think WWE have booked themselves into a hard place by not having a back up top heel. Bray Wyatt could be considered their back-up but he’s embroiled in a feud with the Undertaker and just lost to Roman Reigns. The next two top heel singles stars are probably Alberto Del Rio and Kevin Owens, who are both holding titles at the moment. Either of those guys are not totally out of the question but it’s very unlikely. Who’s next? Sheamus? He holds the Money In The Bank but as I mentioned during my Wade Barrett article yesterday, he’s nowhere near in the position to cash in Money In The Bank. Him and Barrett just lost to the Lucha Dragons on RAW. I don’t think he’s ready yet. The New Day winning the WWE World title and all of them holding it with the freebird rule might be funny but WWE wouldn’t dare!

There’s only a few options now. Either Brock Lesnar has to come back and win the championship, taking a more active role which will mean WWE having to pay him a lot more or they have to turn someone. I’ve talked about Dean Ambrose winning the WWE title and turning heel a number of times. I’d like to see it happen. It’s very questionable whether now’s the right time as WWE were just about to line him up for a feud with Kevin Owens. You can’t turn Kane, who has just turned face0. Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and Neville all aren’t ready. The only man left is Roman Reigns.

I personally believe that there is no better time to put the title on Roman Reigns, whether he’s a face or a heel. I wrote about this for SLTD Wrestling. Leave it too late and Roman might not be over enough. Roman’s hot at the moment and it could work well. It could work even greater if he turns heel. He could be the answer to WWE’s prayers for a new top heel.

WWESSLOGO2014

Again, heartbreaking to see such a long WWE World Heavyweight Championship reign end like this. My thoughts go to Seth and I wish him a speedy recovery. Someone just messaged me saying that he hasn’t missed a RAW since 2012. That’s pretty incredible. He’s been an incredible worker since he joined the main roster. Let’s all wish him the best.

WWE 2K16: Curb Stomp Into RKO Confirmed – Video

wwe16_logo

How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here once again with WWE 2K16. The release of this game is almost here. What I have for you today is a video uploaded by WWE Games YouTuber TonyPizzaGuy, one of my favourites in the WWE Games community. It’s a video showing off one of the new OMG moments introduced in WWE 2K16. It’s the Curb Stomp into the RKO counter that we saw at Wrestlemania 31, where Randy Orton hit this incredible RKO for the win over Seth Rollins. I heard that this was going to be in the game a few days ago and today I’ve seen the video. It looks very well done by 2K and a nice little edition to the game. More and more ways to hit a glorious RKO outta nowhere!