2015 Armbar Express Awards

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. It’s where we reflect on everything that went right or wrong in the world of professional wrestling during the year. We reward excellence and we condemn ignorance. We decide once and for all which stars are worthy as it is time for the 2015 Armbar Express… AWARDS!

So we’ve made our list, we checked it twice. It’s time to see which wrestling personalities raked in the rewards for a solid year and which wrestlers get the short end of the stick. Let’s kick things off with…

 

TV Show Of The Year

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This is a new one for us in the awards. We celebrate just which wrestling promotion put on the best TV show of the year and our nominations are…

  • Monday Night RAW (WWE) – As it much as it can drive a man insane, I’ll give credit to the writers for being able to write and dish out a three hour wrestling show every week. A lot of RAWs have been well below par but there’s been a few hidden gems that almost makes up for that.
  • NXT (WWE) – The developmental territory goes from strength to strength as NXT has really had the world talking with some incredible talent on display. We’ve had some great matches, some great storylines and great special events to make all the episodes seem worth it.
  • Lucha Underground (Lucha Underground) – Lucha Underground is an incredible alternative from WWE which has really made a name for itself. Every episode is unmissable as it delivered with its first season in 2015. Considering the success of season one, season two in 2016 can be a huge success.

The winner… is Lucha Underground.

More than any other wrestling show from any other promotion, Lucha Underground knows what type of product they are putting on every week. It is a television show which is really what a lot of promotions fail to remember. It might upset a lot of NXT fans for it to lose out to Lucha Underground, but NXT is a show you could miss and it wouldn’t hugely effect your knowledge of events. Lucha Underground has made it’s a product a show you have to see every week. Every little detail is vital as you are gearing up for a huge episode with major implications. The segments and non-wrestling parts of the show are put together very well with more time given to wrestling to really tell the story for them. It’s the perfect balance which creates a incredible product at the end. If you’re not watching Lucha Underground, you’re missing out on an unique opportunity.

 

Feud/Rivalry Of The Year

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Storytelling is a huge aspect of wrestling and more intense rivalries are, the better. Our nominations are…

  • Kevin Owens vs John Cena – This feud made for compelling television on RAW which made it a huge incentive for people to watch the flagship show. Kevin Owens debuted in an emphatic way, attacking John Cena on RAW and then cleanly beating him at Elimination Chamber. Cena levelled things up at Money In The Bank until Cena settled the score with Owens at Battleground. While the ending with Cena winning the feud still winds me up to this day, you can’t deny that there were some great moments that accompanied this feud and really make it stand out.
  • Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker – Fifteen months after the events of Wrestlemania XXX, the Dead Man finally got around to getting his revenge on the man that conquered the streak. After costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground, Undertaker began an incredible intense and powerful feud with Brock Lesnar which was really must-see television. Most notable during this feud was the post-Battleground brawl between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar which was arguably one of the greatest moments of RAW all year. Along with getting the Undertaker booed for the first time in a decade, this feud provided a whole new dynamic which really developed the characters of both men and it was not like this was a traditional face vs heel rivalry. These just two men that wanted to murder each other! The matches at Summerslam and Hell in a Cell also hugely surpassed my expectations too!
  • Fenix vs Mil Muetrues – This was one of the rare times where a romance angle was actually done right and it shockingly happened at a promotion that is not as heavy on “sports entertainment” than WWE. It made stars out of Fenix and Mil with great matches including their Grave Consequences match which we’ll get to later. Catrina’s role in the storyline was also well played.
  • Sasha Banks vs Bayley – There’s been a number of great NXT programs this year but Bayley and Sasha Banks gave us a rivalry which was truly phenomenal. This was story-telling at it’s simplest and finest and Sasha was the perfect foil for Bayley, as the hugger hoped to finally win the NXT Women’s Championship. Two great matches at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and Respect showed why NXT’s women were leagues ahead of WWE’s divas.

The winner… is Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker.

To me, the intensity of Brock vs Taker was what really made it stand out. I appreciate the clear face-heel dynamic of Bayley and Sasha, I liked the way the romance angle with Fenix and Mil was presented and I loved the matches between Owens and Cena. However, what separated Brock and Taker from the rest was their ability to be unique. There’s no face and no heel. There’s just two badasses just beating the crap out of each other which gave the whole thing such a great atmosphere and what really made Brock Lesnar must-see television this year!

 

Tag Team Of The Year

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There’s been a number of teams that have really impressed this year and let’s celebrate these tremendous tag teams as the nominations are…

  • The New Day – What can be said about the New Day other than they took the ball and they ran so far with it that it’s incredible to think that they were getting booed at the start of the year. Now, they are just the most entertaining tag team in wrestling today and they’ve got a lot of diversity between the three of them in terms of movesets which works tremendously in the tag team scenario.
  • Lucha Dragons – This team has been very fun to watch in the ring and have been a welcome addition to the main roster. Sin Cara’s obviously been on the main roster before but Kalisto is a newcomer that has really shined in the time that he’s given. Hopeful we can see these two with a tag title run.
  • Jason Jordan and Chad Gable – A true stand out team in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, these two just worked so well together as a tag team. The weakness of one man was filled by the other as they put on some incredible matches against the likes of Baron Corbin and Rhyno. Many NXT fans were disappointed that the duo never won the tournament but 2016 may end up being their year.
  • Cesaro and Tyson Kidd – I was originally going to leave this team out of this award considering they were only together for around six months until Tyson Kidd went down with an injury. However, the duo put together some great matches as a duo with the two styles just complimented each other beautifully. Fact.

The winner is… the New Day!

Kofi, Big E and Xaiver have done tremendous work as a trio and it might be unfair to give them award considering they’re more of a stable then a tag team. However, you can’t deny that they’ve given the tag team division a boost as a whole and they are finally getting the results that the three of them deserve.

 

PPV Of The Year

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The WWE Network might have actually been worth subscribing to this year with a number of top quality PPVs to acknowledge. The nominations are…

  • Wrestlemania 31 – In what is usually a given in terms of top PPVs of the year, Wrestlemania 31 sure didn’t disappoint. Rarely has a Wrestlemania been as well timed as this year’s event. With the exception of the Rock/Rousey/HHH/Stephanie angle (which I thought went too long) all the matches/segments were given enough time to truly stand out in it’s own right. While it was not like Wrestlemania 28 where all the time went to the three big matches and it was not like any of the matches from this card were match of the year candidates, it featured some darn great matches nevertheless. From Sting vs Triple H to Brock Lesnar taking Roman Reigns to Suplex City, there was little wrong with this year’s edition of Wrestlemania.
  • Summerslam – August 22nd, August 23rd and August 24th made for a great three days for WWE and the feature presentation was the four hour long Summerslam. The top matches including a great WWE World title match with Seth Rollins defending against John Cena as well as the long-awaited rematch between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar which really surpassed my expectations.
  • Hell in a Cell – I have to give Hell in a Cell a thumbs up for a number of reasons. Both Hell in a Cell matches delivered in their own right, (which is of course a big part of the PPV itself) and there were a number of surprises including the return of Alberto Del Rio.
  • Night of Champions – This was another good PPV for WWE in the autumn of 2015, with Seth Rollins being the focal point and main reason for it’s success! Seth Rollins put on two great matches in a row with John Cena and Sting, proving that he indeed was the man in WWE around this time. There were other great aspects of the show as well including the returning of Chris Jericho which made for a worthwhile event.

The winner is… Wrestlemania 31.

This was another solid Wrestlemania for WWE as whoever was responsible for the timing of the show was right on the money. That event will legitimately go down as one of the best Wrestlemanias the company have ever produced.

 

Worst Match Of The Year

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Not all awards are for the greater good. This award celebrates the worst matches put together in 2015. The nominations are…

  • Sheamus vs Ryback vs Dolph Ziggler vs Mark Henry vs R-Truth vs King Barrett in an Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Championhship (WWE) – Maybe WWE should have given Elimination Chamber a rest this year because this chamber match really wasn’t up to par. As soon as Mark Henry’s chamber pod was broken, the match seemed to completely fall apart to such agree that it was amazing how all of these men (EACH with at least ten years experience wrestling in the “biggest” wrestling promotion in the world) couldn’t put this match back on track. When Sheamus’ chamber pod got stuck, all of these men stood around not knowing what to do as Ziggler was calling spots for everyone. It was not a great return for the Elimination Chamber.
  • 2015 Royal Rumble Match (WWE) – WWE’s streak of failing Royal Rumble matches continued with this atrocity which ended up with Roman Reigns standing tall. It’s not even the fact that Roman won it. It’s the fact that the match itself was put together in such a miserable fashion that it’s no wonder that Roman was booed out of the building. Those fans weren’t booing Roman Reigns. They were booing Roman Reigns having to conquer two twenty year veterans that had no business being on par with the current crop of young talent as WWE struggle to develop new stars.
  • Los Villanos vs Los Psycho Circus at TripleMania XXIII (AAA) – When I heard that Dave Meltzer had given this match from TripleMania minus five stars, I figured I had to go watch it. I had heard that TripleMania was bad and the bits I had watched of it weren’t all impressive. However, this match was something special. This was supposed to be Villano III’s retirement match and imagine having a retirement match that was this much of a train wreck. This was hardly Ric Flair retiring against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24. This is one to watch but for the wrong reasons!
  • Paige and Emma vs The Bella Twins on RAW: February 23rd 2015 (WWE) – This was an utterly atrocious use of these women on WWE’s flagship show, to give them a grand total of 30 seconds of in-ring action. What happened was Emma and Brie started the match, Paige was shouting at Nikki when Brie took her off the apron, Emma looked outside to check on Paige and then Brie hit Emma with the X-Factor and won. This was a complete and utter disgrace considering these talented women were given 30 seconds during a 3 HOUR SHOW of RAW. The neglect to these divas by WWE was simply revolting which ended up creating the “Divas Revolution” which we’ll get onto later. It’s one thing when you try something and it fails. It’s a slap in the face when you don’t even try to make the women look credible.
  • Kurt Angle vs Eric Young in a No Disqualification match at Bound For Glory 2015 (TNA) – This match was probably the highlight of my TNA Bound For Glory PPV review as two men that are usually great workers were put in this illogical no disqualification match. The biggest highlight to this match was, despite Eric Young piledriving Kurt Angle, the referee waving off the match, KURT ANGLE even telling Eric it’s over, the match still went on for another ten minutes or so as Kurt was selling a broken neck. You really should read my Bound For Glory review (at this link) to get the full detail of my problems with this match. I’ll just say this… thumbs down.

The winner (or in this case, the loser) is…. the Elimination Chamber match.

Now keep in mind when we give out these awards for Best or Worst match of the year, it’s not strictly down to the in-ring side of things. If that was the case, then the Villanos/Psycho Circus match would probably win hands down. We’re looking at so many more aspects of the match that made it worthy of a nomination. Angle/Young was bad because of the illogical storytelling going on. The Royal Rumble match was a disaster mostly because of the crowd reactions and the finish. Emma and Paige vs the Bella Twins was on the list because of how disrespectful it was to women’s wrestling and the Villanos/Psycho Circus was in for a number of reasons. The reason for the Elimination Chamber being the winner was down to one thing. In AAA and TNA, the expectations and standards aren’t as high as WWE’s. Considering the physical well-being of both the Villanos and the Psycho Circus and considering that TNA’s booking was just vintage TNA, you can sort of expect that. For WWE, you expect top quality action. It’d be wrong to punish the divas for WWE’s decision to give them 30 seconds. For the Elimination Chamber and the Royal Rumble, there’s no excuse. At least the first half of the Royal Rumble was actually not that bad with some cool surprise entrants and stuff, so it has at least got a few redeeming qualities to it. The Elimination Chamber was just a bad match that fell apart because of the chamber pod spots and then going on for way too long. Their improvisation made them all look like fools and it was just a retched return of the elimination chamber. Congratulations you six for being apart of the worst match of the year.

 

Turn Of The Year

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There’s been a number of effective turns which have either been executed well or has lead to even greater things just by doing it. The nominations are…

  • The New Day: Heel (WWE) – It’s amazing to think that the WWE Creative team had the New Day be good guys for five months before realising that they needed to be heels. Responding to the “New Day Sucks” chant, the men finally embraced the hate and it’s the greatest decision the WWE have made throughout the entire year. The New Day have excelled as heels and it’ll be hard to see how they can top it in 2016.
  • Undertaker: Heel? (WWE) – In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a full-on heel turn from the Dead Man. However, to explore the idea of the Lord of Darkness legitimately turning to the dark side was intriguing enough when Undertaker cost Brock Lesnar the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground. Undertaker acting as a heel is very unique and I still believe that him spending the last few years of his career as a heel is what’s best for business before he rides off into the sunset.
  • Paige: Heel (WWE) – The initial turn for Paige was executed very well coming off a rather bleak program between Charlotte and Nikki Bella. Paige cut a scathing promo slating all of the divas, Charlotte and even Charlotte’s dad Ric Flair. What’s followed for Paige since then has been very flawed but the initial turn was pulled off very well.
  • Cesaro: Face (WWE) – Cesaro was already a face before this point but a true babyface moment for him this year was his program with John Cena and Kevin Owens for the United States Championship. Cesaro is a very excitable face wrestler which gives this turn a thumbs up. However, him going up against Cena in the main event of RAW was a moment which I thought was legitimately going to make him a new main event star for WWE to get behind. They showed respect to each other and the fans really did accept that Cesaro should be a main event star. Cena endorsing Cesaro among other things made this feel like a special RAW moment for Cesaro.

The winner is… the New Day!

This is the New Day’s second award and I was honestly going to give this to the Undertaker, despite that heel turn being more of a tweener turn then anything. However, the New Day’s turn was probably the most needed in the entire year and the group shined as the villains. Well done to the New Day!

 

Worst Storyline Of The Year

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This was not a great year for the writers of professional wrestling this year (with the exception of Lucha Underground). The nominations are….

  • The Rusev/Ziggler/Lana saga (WWE) – I’ll give this storyline credit in the fact that my analysis of this storyline is still one of my most viewed blog posts of the year! From the get-go, you knew this storyline couldn’t work. Trying to twist real-life relationships into a romance wrestling storyline really never works as well as it’s expected to and a lot of the time, it just came off as a really cheap soap opera rip-off. Ziggler and Lana couldn’t be accepted as a legitimate couple and Rusev ended up being the biggest loser out of everyone involved. Think about that. The man that WWE had pushed so hard in 2014 and up until Wrestlemania 31 suffered the most during this storyline. I would seriously give my article on this storyline a read at this link to get the full scoop of why this was such a failure.
  • The Divas Revolution (WWE) – I feel that the last six months in the divas roster has been nothing short of a failure with the exception of NXT. It’s very hard to believe that the same company that have put on some of the great women’s matches of all time put this storyline together in the same year. WWE’s attempts at replicating the success of the NXT women really did give women’s wrestling a bad name this year, as these women were unfortunately subjected to the terrible booking by the powers-that-be of WWE. Charlotte, Paige and the rest of the women really do need gold medals for the stuff they’ve had to put up with this year.
  • James Storm “kills” Mickie James (TNA) – Wrestlers being “killed” in storylines aren’t exactly new. Undertaker used to die every other year in WWE while Lucha Underground has ran a number of murder angles in the course of its first season. However, none where as painful to watch as Storm nudging Mickie James onto a train track. As part of a storyline where Storm tried to form a wedge between Magnus and Mickie (a real life engaged couple), the culmination of months of manipulation by Storm was TNA taking a page out of House Of Cards’ books and “killing” off Mickie James in such an anti-climactic manner (except the House of Cards scene was actually a lot more shocking than this one). It’s very hard to pull off a death storyline (unless you’re Lucha Underground) in the social media generation, but TNA’s attempt was just absurd especially when their official website referred to James Storm’s actions as “borderline criminal.” Honest to god, did not make that last part up.
  • The Battle Of The Crown (WWE) – This was hardly the “War of the five Kings” from Game of Thrones. This was WWE making a pure mockery of the value of the King of the Ring tournament. A tournament which has elevated the likes of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar to stardom. With this storyline, Barrett’s win was treated as a joke as R-Truth also decided to be a king. As I’ve discussed in the past, Barrett has been subjected to some serious woeful booking by WWE in his career but this really takes the cake.

The winner is… The Rusev/Lana/Ziggler storyline.

There’s no doubt in my mind. As infuriating as the Divas Revolution is, as stupid as the James Storm angle was and as much of a joke as the King storyline was made, this romance angle was by far the worst storyline of the year. This takes it by a HUGE MILE. There’s never been a bigger failure of a romance angle than the Rusev, Lana and Ziggler angle. What started with Lana getting some of the best reactions in the entire company and Rusev being a top heel monster, turned into both of them being degraded to such a degree that I find it very hard to believe that either person can be elevated back to the level that they were before they were struck with this horrible storyline.

 

Match of the Year

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Here’s one of the big ones. There’s been a great deal of tremendous matches over the year and these five have been among the elite. The nominations are…

    • John Cena vs Kevin Owens at Elimination Chamber 2015 – It’s very hard to separate all three of the Cena/Owens matches this year as all stand out in their own way. The Money In The Bank match and the Battleground rubber match were both well put together. However, Elimination Chamber only just takes it just for the pure shock of Owens beating Cena so convincingly.
    • Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Respect – It’s very hard to separate this match and one other match I’ve seen in the past over which was the greatest womens match I’ve ever seen. I feel given the background to it and the expectation, I feel this surely has to take it. These women were able to put on an incredible performance for 30 minutes, with great in-ring story-telling as Bayley had to prove that her win at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was no joke.
    • Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2015 – This was filled with pure intensity and drama from bell to bell as it even began with Brock Lesnar attacking Undertaker during his entrance. It was a brawl like no one had ever seen before as the Beast and the Dead Man slugged it out. Many complained about the finish but I really didn’t mind it as it was a necessary evil for the third match to happen.
    • Mil Muetrues vs Fenix in a Grave Consequences match on Lucha Underground – This rivalry, as mentioned earlier, was a very powerful one. This match in particular was the ultimate David vs Goliath match as the underdog was beaten to a pulp. This match is a must see for those not familiar with Lucha Underground!
    • Brock Lesnar (c) vs Seth Rollins vs John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble – There’s little reason needed for why this match is a nominee. Other than being the only redeeming quality of the Royal Rumble PPV that saved it from being a complete disaster, this was the perfect mix for a triple threat match. You had John Cena (who had really improved in terms of match quality this year), Seth Rollins (who has the speed and generally all-around skill) and Brock Lesnar (who ranks high in pretty much every department you can think off!). It just made for a great triple threat which made all of them look incredible.

The winner is… Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar.

I feel kind of bad having all the match of the year candidates being related to the feud of the year candidates. However, those were the big instances where the matches made the rivalry. Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar was no exception as the two put together an incredible match at Summerslam.

 

Female of the Year

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This has been a year for ups and downs for womens wrestling in WWE, but lets give credit to these women as the nominations for female of the year are…

  • Paige – The winner of last year’s award is back into the mix as Paige has had a number of great moments, even with some of the questionable decisions by the powers-that-be. She’s been a little over-exposed and over-used in the divas title picture but the lovely Englishman has given us a lot of top performances.
  • Sasha Banks – It wouldn’t be a legitimate award without at least throwing the Boss into the fray. She had a great run as NXT Womens Champion in the start of the year and she’s been a delight to see whenever she appears on the main roster. That and having one of the best matches of the year surely makes the Boss a contender.
  • Bayley – The hugger is surprisingly the only one out of the four NXT horse-women that wasn’t called up to the main roster, which is probably for the better when you consider just how well she’s performed on NXT.
  • Nikki Bella – The #1 ranked women on the PWI Womens Top 50, Nikki is also in the running for this award as her improving in-ring skill and having to lead the womens roster as champion is something you have to give her credit for.

The winner is… Sasha Banks.

I feel all the others have valid reasons for winning but Sasha has been on top of her game for all of 2015. Congratulations to the Boss!

 

Promo of the Year

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Last year, we saw some tremendous promos cut by the likes of Dean Ambrose, Paul Heyman and Bray Wyatt. Our nominations for this year’s award are…

  • Paige’s PaigeBomb On The Night After Night Of Champions (September 21st 2015) – One of the brightest moments in the Divas Revolution was Paige cut a scathing promo on all the divas which addressed the problems present with the storyline. She buried Charlotte, Becky Lynch and all the other divas as she took credit for the whole Divas Revolution. This could have been the catalyst for a true divas revolution had WWE not squandered this opportunity.
  • Paul Heyman On The Night After Wrestlemania 31 (March 30th 2015) – Last year’s winner Paul Heyman is again featured prominently this year as his angry promo following Wrestlemania was delivered tremendously. Never has a rematch clause ever been invoked in such a manner!
  • Stephanie McMahon On John Cena Missing Out Wrestlemania 31 (March 2nd 2015) – I’m a huge fan of Stephanie McMahon and this promo was a prime example of why. Stephanie’s cut a lot of passionate promos during the year but this one involving Cena was one that really caught my attention. It’s one of those reassurances to the WWE Universe that Cena does not define WWE and is not as dominant as people realise. Stephanie is one of the few people that could have gotten this point across as she did.
  • Paul Heyman On The Future Of Brock Lesnar (March 9th 2015) – Surprisingly, two of these promos come within two weeks of each other! Not going to lie, the road to Wrestlemania can bring about some beauties. Paul Heyman discussing what Brock Lesnar’s plans are after Brock’s falling out with Vince McMahon was so intense that it almost seemed that Brock was actually legitimately holding the company up over the WWE World title. It was as intense as Paul could have made it as he discussed the potential of Brock becoming WWE World and UFC Champion and “smacking around Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao” in a heated promo which really aided the promotion of Lesnar’s match with Roman Reigns tremendously.

The winner is… Paul Heyman with his angry promo on the night after Wrestlemania!

Paul is a true master of the microphone and it was evident with this promo. A deserving two-time winner of this award and there was few that could touch him this year. I always thought this promo grabbed my attention more than the one earlier on in the month, but both were amazing nevertheless. Congratulations Paul!

 

Wrestler Of The Year

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THIS IS IT. This is the big one as we determine who was the best wrestler all year long. The nominations are….

  • Seth Rollins – Last year’s winner has gone from strength to strength, having mostly reigned as WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the locker room leader. He put on great performance after great performance and was really transformed into a true main event star which is exactly what WWE are lacking in. His injury was a huge blow but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Rollins had an incredible year under him that he should really be proud of.
  • John Cena – Big Match John really upped his game in terms of his in-ring skills. John’s had match after match with the US Championship Open Challenge to demonstrate his abilities and help a fellow challenger along the way. Cena’s had great matches with the likes of Rollins, Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Dean Ambrose to make this a top year for the franchise player of WWE.
  • Kevin Owens – Despite being HUGELY under-utilised in the majority of the second half of 2015, Owens shined when given the proper mic and wrestling time. He started of the year by smashing Sami Zayn and moved onto his tremendous trilogy with John Cena. He reigned as Intercontinental Champion and in a time of need in terms of top heel stars, Kevin Owens needs to be one to push in 2016.
  • Cesaro – Cesaro gets a spot because HE FREAKING DESERVES IT. Despite not being in a lot of major programs during the year, Cesaro shined whenever he was given the ball. Even when he was under-utilised, he still did his best to make sure he had one of the best matches of the night and to prove just how great he was.
  • Brock Lesnar – Some of you may question my decision to put in a man that rarely wrestles but when he does, it’s must-see television. Brock had some of the best matches of the whole year and can captivate the audience in one way or another.

The winner is… Seth Rollins.

Congrats to Seth Rollins for winning this award for a second year in a row. While John Cena was really on top of his game this year, Seth takes this by a huge mile. He worked his ass off and his performances against some of the top names in the business shows that he belongs in the main event scene for years to come. Seth is the closest WWE’s come to creating a new legitimate star in professional wrestling.

@armbarexpress

That will wrap it up for the award. There were a few more awards that I wanted to dish out in this post and I will do a follow-up piece some time in January to reveal some of the bonus awards including the likes of “Hidden Gem of the Year.”  Thank you all so much for making this an incredible year for the Armbar Express. Thanks to the world of wrestling for giving me the motivation to write about the good and bad of wrestling this year. Cheers!

 

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Three Years Of The Armbar Express

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a special blog post celebrating the Armbar Express’ three year anniversary. I got a notice on WordPress yesterday saying that I had been signed up with WordPress for three years now. It’s very cool to know that not only is the blog still rolling on, it’s growing. I know it sounds like cliché but it really is the truth. The blogs had it’s ups and downs but right now, the blog has been at its peak with social media interactivity and blog views. Last month, our record for daily views was broken. Last week, we broke it again! I’m so proud that more and more people are tuning into the blog and seeing what we’ve got in store for you.

What’s funny about this site is that it actually didn’t start off as a full-on wrestling blog. It was a very generalised blog, where I just talked about all sorts. Football, music, comics, MMA. That’s not really a bad thing but I wanted to be a part of a niche market and I wanted to write about something I love. As much as it’s been something that’s driven me up the wall during the years, wrestling was it. I made the blog an exclusive wrestling website, I renamed it to the Armbar Express and we were off and running.

It took a lot of effort to try and bring you all to the website after I changed the name but eventually, it caught people’s attention. In fact, it caught the attention of a number of wrestling websites. The blog suddenly started to grow as I began writing for the likes of WhatCulture, PWMania and NoDQ.com. I’m very grateful to all of those sites who helped me become an active part of the “Internet Wrestling Community.” Sadly, I was not able to keep writing for those sites. In fact, I was not able to keep up with the blog either.

As much as I would have liked to keep up my columns with NoDQ and the blog, my top priority was my education. The Armbar Express took a hit as I was not able to update it and all eyes were on my studies as a Multimedia Journalism student at Teesside University. With the 2:1 grade which I will be graduating with in November, those efforts certainly paid off!

In 2015, I decided to shake things up with the blog. I started developing new series for wrestling fans worldwide to enjoy. It first started with the Extreme Warfare Revenge series, where I would play the free-to-play wrestling booker game and try to win the Monday Night wars with WCW. Those posts have been very popular since I brought them to the blog and I hope you all have enjoyed these adventures. I also guarantee new content for TNA fans, with my second EWR series where I hope to take TNA to the top of the world!

There were other fantasy booker content which I started up on the blog, like the How I Would Book series. It initially started off as a one-off post where I hoped to bring AJ Styles and Rey Mysterio together for the ultimate cruiserweight battle! However, it’s now become a big part of the blog. From undoing the wrongs of the past to putting together dream matches, I’ve really enjoyed the chance to show the viewers my “skills” as a booker! Anyone with ideas please tweet @ArmbarExpress with your suggestions.

There’s also a lot of focus on today’s programming, with near-weekly RAW reaction pieces as well as bringing back the PPV predictions and reviews. I’ve also started to providing weekly content for SLTD Wrestling with the Armbar Analysis. Do check out their website at http://www.sltdwrestling.com for more content from myself and other great writers.

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While wrestling has been infuriating to watch at times, doing this blog has been a blessing. I’ve always enjoyed writing for you guys and here’s to hopefully many more years of the Armbar Express!

2014 Armbar Express Awards

It’s time for the Armbar Express….. AWARDS!

Yep. THESE are the big ones. More prestigious than the Slammys. More professional than the Slammys. The glittering Armbar Express awards here… on the internet.

We celebrate everything great and everything not so great in the year of 2014 in the world of wrestling. We’re going to start with….

Turn Of The Year

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This celebrates the greatest face or heel turn in the WWE all year long. The nominations are….

  • Randy Orton’s Face Turn – Randy Orton’s face turn came after defying The Authority to get himself a piece of Seth Rollins. Randy had been having issues with playing “protector” to Seth Rollins, who was picking fights with the likes of John Cena, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. Tensions began to boil, with Seth Rollins eventually curb-stomping Orton on the RAW before Hell in a Cell. Orton responded by dropping Seth with the RKO in the following week. Triple H decided to settle things with a match on RAW, which Seth won. Randy would not accept defeat and attacked Rollins again. Eventually, Triple H gave the order to put the Viper down for good. This cemented Orton’s turn to the good side, having been kicked out of the heel stable in shades of the end of his run with Evolution… also led by Triple H.
  • Seth Rollins Heel Turn – Just when you think you’ve had all the turns you need, Triple H comes and changes the game. Seth originally had defied Authority along with the rest of the Shield. The group were able to score TWO big wins over Evolution at Extreme Rules and Payback. However, a Plan B was initiated by Triple H that would finally put an end to the Shield for good. That Plan B… was Seth Rollins. Seth laid waste to his Shield brothers Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose to break up The Shield in a dramatic fashion on RAW. Indeed, Triple H always found a way to win.
  • Batista Heel Turn – Batista really should have started out his return to WWE as a heel anyway, but we’re glad that he eventually made the move over to the dark side. Batista’s return as a good guy was met with negative fan reactions, especially when the Animal won the Royal Rumble. After a pretty dismal feud with Alberto Del Rio, Batista eventually lashed out at the WWE Universe on SmackDown! He expressed his disgust at what WWE had become since he’d been gone and vowed to take out each of their heroes. Sadly, he was unable to capture the WWE World title and the rebirth of Evolution was met with consecutive losses with the Shield. However, the turn saw Batista at his finest cutting great heel promo after heel promo.
  • The Shield Face Turn – The Hounds of Justice had been apart of the Authority since it began on August 2013. They helped silence disobedience coming from WWE superstars and had the group had taken out a number of big guns in the world of wrestling. However, Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose would begin to mess with the Director of Operations Kane and Triple H’s friends the New Age Outlaws. This led to a six man tag team match at Wrestlemania and was followed the next night by The Shield eventually turning on the Authority to the delight of many. It breathed new life into the stable just prior to it’s break-up and they were over with the fans big time.

The winner of this award… is Seth Rollins.

The break up of the Shield was always going to be hard to write. I mean you have to handle it well and Seth Rollins’ heel turn was executed tremendously. The long term implications for Seth is that he’s now the top heel in the company with Brock Lesnar’s absence. I suspect things are only going to get better for Mr Money In The Bank.

Newcomer Of The Year

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When we’re talking about newcomer of the year, we’re taking about those that were in NXT and debuted on the main roster THIS YEAR. The nominations are…

  • Paige – Paige debuted on the main roster in emphatic way. On the night after Wrestlemania 30, she ended the record-breaking Divas Championship reign of AJ Lee to a huge reaction. She would continue to defend her title until AJ regained her championship from Paige in June. Paige responded by winning her title at Summerslam. While she lost the title again only a month later, Paige has shot up the Divas division and sparked life into this division that was seemingly dominated by one woman.
  • Rusev – Speaking of domination, Rusev debuted the night after Wrestlemania 30 much like Paige. Rusev has torn through the majority of the roster, having taken down the likes of Big E, Jack Swagger, Big Show and Mark Henry on his path of destruction. His dominance led to some gold too, as he won the WWE United States Championship on the WWE Network. Rusev is still unbeaten (as of December 2014) and surely he’ll only go from strength to strength.
  • Bo Dallas – The former NXT Champion Bo Dallas debuted on the main roster this year, hoping to inspire others to BO-LIEVE. Bo began his own undefeated streak, celebrating every win with a victory lap around the ring. His streak was conquered by R-Truth which was followed by a beat down by the “inspirational” Bo Dallas. While he’s not really been able to recover after his streak was broken, 2015 could provide a great year for Bo Dallas.
  • Emma – Emma debuted on WWE television in January, as a part of the audience beginning the “Emmalution”. Her appearances annoyed Summer Rae, eventually leading to a feud between the pair over who was the best dancer. Emma seemingly won the feud and also began hanging out with Santino Marrella. She’s not really made THAT much of an impact yet, but hopefully she’ll get her opportunity soon.

The winner of this award… is Paige

Rusev probably should have won this award but Paige has made much of an impact on WWE television than Rusev has. All Rusev’s done is just beat people up while Paige has really shaken up the Divas division. She’s had some great matches all year and she can only get better from here.

Rivalry Of The Year

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Many rivalries have come and gone this year, but only a select few have been really good.

  • The Shield vs The Wyatts – The roots of this feud were actually planted back in 2013, when the two groups brawled in London on RAW. The groups eventually crossed paths again in 2014, this time during The Shield’s six man tag team Elimination Chamber qualifying match. The Wyatt Family attacked John Cena, inadvertently costing the Shield the match. The Shield eventually called out the Wyatts to a match at the Chamber which Bray Wyatt accepted. The Wyatts would be victorious and would win a rematch on an episode of RAW in March. The groups battled again two more times. Firstly, The Shield won a match on Main Event but the Wyatts  would win again on RAW thanks to Evolution.
  • The Shield vs Evolution – Speaking of Evolution, their feud with The Shield began the night after Wrestlemania 30. The Shield interrupted the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Daniel Bryan and Triple H to spear the COO of the WWE. This led to Triple H asking Batista and Randy Orton for their help in combating this new threat to the Authority. This led to the re-emergence of the Evolution group which was focused on destroying The Shield. However, The Shield would best Evolution twice at Extreme Rules and Payback with the feud ending the next night when Batista quit WWE and Seth Rollins turned on The Shield
  • Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose – Speaking of Seth Rollins, he turned his back on the Shield the night after Payback and “sold-out” to join the Authority. The next night, Dean Ambrose cut an amazing promo vowing to “beat the hell” out of Seth Rollins. Indeed, Seth and Dean had some amazing scraps over the course of 2014. The two would battle for the Money In The Bank contract and in a crazy Lumberjack match at Summerslam until Seth Rollins took out Dean with a Curb Stomp into cinder blocks on RAW. Dean would return to attack Rollins once again with the feud culminating at Hell in a Cell. However, Dean’s revenge on Seth was ruined by the interference of the “Eater of Worlds” Bray Wyatt.
  • Daniel Bryan vs The Authority – Most of this feud really developed in 2013, but Daniel Bryan’s popularity restarted his program with the Authority and Triple H. Daniel Bryan was cost the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Elimination Chamber which led to Bryan “hijacking” RAW to get the Authority to listen to a few demands. He requested a match with Triple H at Wrestlemania, adding that he would get added to the WWE World title match if he won. Bryan beat Triple H in what was a brilliant match and then overcame the odds to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania.

The winner of this award… is The Shield’s feud with Evolution.

The Shield’s feud with Evolution made for great television. Seth and Dean’s feud really was good. However, The Shield and Evolution delivered some of the matches of the year and it did wonders for The Shield just before their break-up.

Female Of The Year

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Last year, the divas division was seemingly dominated by one woman… the Divas Champion AJ Lee. However, a few divas have risen up to challenge AJ’s dominance. AJ was also my winner of last year’s Female of the Year award which I did to coincide with the NoDQ.com award. So AJ is defending her position on top of the divas division. The nominations are…

  • Paige – As mentioned earlier, Paige has given the division some new life. She’s been able to make her way to the top of the division fairly quickly and she’ll only get better from here.
  • AJ Lee – The defending Female of the Year had another great year in WWE. Despite not being on WWE television as much as she was the year before, AJ’s been a treat to watch. She’s also had a great deal of success in the ring, having held the Divas Championship three times and having a great feud with Paige. It’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here.
  • Nikki Bella – Nikki’s big moment came at Summerslam 2014, where she turned on her sister Brie to help Stephanie McMahon. Nikki’s in-ring skills have certainly improved which will be important in 2015, as he walks into 2015 as Divas Champion.
  • Brie Bella – Brie’s probably been the most pushed diva on the roster this year. Her involvement in her husband Daniel Bryan’s storyline’s led to her “quitting” the WWE at Payback. Brie was later re-instated to wrestle Stephanie McMahon at Summerslam. Of course, as mentioned earlier, Brie lost due to the betrayal of her sister Nikki. Her feud with her sister was hard to bare, but all of that momentum Brie had built was truly squandered with her own heel turn at Survivor Series. However, Brie still continues to be a prominent part of the division.

The winner of this award… is Paige

Paige’s in-ring skills trumps the other candidates, leaving AJ, Nikki and Brie in the dust. Sadly, AJ couldn’t quite keep up the momentum she built in 2013 to win this award. It’s true that Paige’s own momentum was hurt after her feud with AJ ended. But Paige was still there to put on a show and be a prominent diva.

Theme Song Of The Year

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This is an important award, as every great superstar must have a great theme song to come out to. The nominations are…

  • Brock Lesnar’s theme song
  • Sting’s theme song
  • Sami Zayn’s theme song
  • Bray Wyatt’s theme song

The winner of the award… is Bray Wyatt and his theme song “Broken Out Of Love”

Bray Wyatt’s theme suits his character probably more than anyone else on the roster. It’s what makes him unique and stand out as a character. So Bray Wyatt gets this award this year, after failing to win the award last year.

Break-Up Of The Year

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Break Ups are hard to pull off. It’s hard to break up a team and keep both of them strong coming off of it. Most of the time, you’ll have a situation where one becomes the “Shawn Michaels” and the other becomes the “Marty Jarnetty”. We’ve picked these four break ups which didn’t actually do a bad job.

  • The Shield – The Shield crumbling was always going to be hard to pull off. However, all three members are still prominently featured on WWE programming. Nobody is really being left in the dust and I’m confident no one will in 2015 either.
  • The Bella Twins – At least with this break up, the Bella Twins where able to break off on their own. Even though it only lasted three months, at least Brie and Nikki were both able to create identities that separated each other.
  • The Real Americans – Cesaro needed to break off from Jack Swagger at Wrestlemania. However, Jack wasn’t exactly thrown into obscurity either. Jack turned face and feuded with Rusev while Cesaro became a Paul Heyman guy.
  • The Wyatt Family – We still don’t know how long this split will last, but it’s interesting to see Luke Harper and Erick Rowan on their own in the WWE wilderness. Do they need Bray to remain relevant?

The winner of this award by a landslide… is The Shield

All good things must come to an end… so even greater things can occur for the Hounds of Justice. Seth Rollins became Mr Money In The Bank, Dean Ambrose headlined two WWE PPVs and Roman Reigns looks prime to take the WWE by force. I think it’s safe to say the break up of The Shield wasn’t a bad idea. It was pulled off brilliantly on RAW too.

Twitter User Of The Year

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  • Ryback (@Ryback22) – Ryback was a Twitter machine that really tore apart the WWE Twiterverse with some incredible tweets this year… which were later deleted.
  • And…

There’s no point. Ryback is the winner! Nobody could touch the Big Guy! Although I will give honorable mentions to Vince Russo, Sid Vicious and Stevie Ray for some great tweets this year too!

Tag Team Of The Year

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  • The Usos – The brothers finally won the WWE Tag Team Championship this year and put on some amazing matches with the likes of the Wyatt Family, showcasing the quality of the tag team division that’s been first-class for the last few years in WWE.
  • Gold and Stardust – The brothers started the year as WWE Tag Team Champions, but lost it at the Royal Rumble to the New Age Outlaws. The two had great chemistry as a tag team and it continued onto their promos when Cody Rhodes became Stardust. They won the tag titles again and have continued the great work they did last year.
  • Erick Rowan and Luke Harper – Rowan and Harper’s most notable moments in 2014 was a great feud with the Usos. Despite not winning the titles, the Wyatts were able to put together some incredible matches both on television and on PPV. Just a shame that this team never won the tag titles.
  • Rybaxel – In my opinion, the most underrated tag team of the year. The Big Guy and the Axe Man were very funny in promos and weren’t actually bad together as a tag team. I kinda wished these two got a tag run too.

The winners of this award… is the Usos.

The Usos chemistry trumps the rest and have been putting in quality matches… ALL YEAR. Indeed, the Usos are great representatives of the tag team division.

Promo Of The Year

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I love a good promo, and these four promos really stood out from the rest. The nominations are…

  • Paul Heyman On The RAW After Wrestlemania (April 7th, 2014) – Despite the greatest streak of in wrestling ending at the hands of his client Brock Lesnar, Heyman was able to work the crowd incredibly well with this promo. I think this was the promo that made you realize Brock’s mystique and importance in the company. Heyman even got cheers throughout his promo, even after his client Brock had upset so many wrestling fans the night before.
  • Paul Heyman In Chicago (March 3rd, 2014) – Paul Heyman’s cut great promos all year, but this one as well was incredible. WWE decided to handle CM Punk’s depature from WWE head on, with Paul Heyman addressing Punk’s home town crowd of Chicago. After coming out to Punk’s theme song, Heyman did tremendous work on the mic. He touched on a “shoot” incident while in kayfabe mode which was pretty incredible.
  • Dean Ambrose On Seth Rollins (June 9th, 2014) – Dean Ambrose showed off his magic as a promo cutter shortly after Seth Rollins betrayed The Shield. You could feel the intensity in his promo and it will probably be the best promo Dean Ambrose will ever cut.
  • Bray Wyatt On The Shield (January 31st, 2014) – Bray cut a lot of great promos on The Shield, but this one on SmackDown! really did stand out. He talked about his love of war and brought the intensity that made this feud between The Shield and the Wyatt Family so great.

The winner of this award… is Paul Heyman and his promo about Brock Lesnar breaking the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.

Paul’s at his best when he’s bragging. But here, he’s bragging about probably the greatest win his client will ever had. With all due respect to the other promos, this one made Brock Lesnar seem like a god and the fans were really into it.

PPV Of The Year

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  • Wrestlemania XXX – Probably one of the most memorable PPVs of all time. Daniel Bryan got his big moment, The Rock, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin opened the show in incredible fashion and we saw the end of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania.
  • Extreme Rules – This PPV was a good PPV, mainly due to the incredible six man tag team match between The Shield and Evolution
  • Payback – We saw the rematch between Evolution and The Shield as well as an incredible Last Man Standing match between Bray Wyatt and John Cena
  • Summerslam – This was a good PPV all around, most notable for Brock Lesnar destroying John Cena to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

The winner of this award…. was Wrestlemania XXX

Wrestlemania was just a great PPV from top to bottom, and probably one of the most memorable PPVs in wrestling history.

Shocking Moment Of The Year

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  • The Shield Implodes – It’s been covered a number of times already in these awards, but it was quite the shocker which few saw coming.
  • Brock Lesnar Conquers The Streak – Deep down in our hearts, we all believed that the Undertaker’s streak would never end. However, Wrestlemania XXX proved us wrong.
  • Sting’s Debut – After all these years of refusing to join the WWE, Sting eventually stepped into a WWE ring at Survivor Series. He helped Team Cena slay the Authority in the most shocking of circumstances.
  • Paige Wins The Divas Championship – I was not expecting this NXT Women’s Championship strolling into RAW on the day after Wrestlemania to win the Divas Championship. Definitely, one of the great moments in WWE women’s wrestling.

The winner of this award… Brock Lesnar Conquers The Streak

Let’s face it… nothing was going to even come close. Not that the other candidates weren’t good… nothing was going to top the ending of the streak.

Wrestler Of The Year

This is the big one. There were a lot of candidates to consider but there was only going to be one winner….

Seth Rollins!

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Seth’s had quality matches all year long, with the Shield and without. He’s been transformed into the top heel in the company and has had great rivalries with the likes of Dean Ambrose. Seth Rollins is your Wrestler of the Year.

Bobby Roode vs James Storm Highlights – Beer Money Inc Explodes #BoundForGlory 2012

 

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It’s a new day here in the Armbar Express. A new strategy that I hope will improve the Armbar Express a great deal and, I’m not gonna lie, improve our image in the internet wrestling world. As many readers will know, I used to write on this blog a great deal. However, my University and Journalism schedules have made this somewhat difficult to keep up on a regular basis. Even for NoDQ.com I was not able to write for them as much as I’d like because of what was going on. That being said, I am now off from University work and I’ve decided to dedicate free time outside of media and education working on some multimedia products that could very well improve the Armbar Express. And down below is the first idea…

This right here took me a couple of hours to produce using Adobe Premiere and what it essentially is, is a highlight video. I recapped the epic Bobby Roode vs James Storm match from Bound For Glory 2012 in a montage with music from Poets Of The Fall. An awesome band. And I put it together to produce… THIS. 

There are a number of great highlight producers with great video-editing software at their arsenal. And now… so do I. I’m gonna use this software to produce these videos and blog about the featured match, it’s background etc. So here we go.

 

Indeed, this is the feud-ending bout if you will between Beer Money partners Bobby Roode and James Storm. Starting with a beer bottle to the head, the partnership between the tag team broke down over the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. James won the title from Kurt Angle after Roode failed to win it at Bound For Glory 2011. Two weeks later he put the belt on the line against Roode and Roode smashed a beer bottle over the Cowboy’s head to secure the championship and crush a friendship.

Storm tried effortlessly to regain his title. At Lockdown 2012, Storm challenged Roode in a Steel Cage match for the TNA World Title. Storm was mighty close in regaining the gold, but a Last Call Super Kick to the champ inadvertently booted Roode out of the cage door and onto the floor. The mistake resulted in Storm losing the match, but he was still intent in getting his belt back.

Storm entered the Bound For Glory Series for a shot at the world title at the show. James had been on fire in this tournament. He lead the series since day one and made it to the semi finals. But as he was about to beat Bully Ray, the familiar beer bottle came into play again. Bobby, who had lost the TNA World Title, wasn’t gonna let Storm in the main event if he wasn’t in it. He smashed him over the head with it, leading to Bully getting the win.

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Now of course, a match was booked between the two for Bound For Glory. And it was a street fight… and my god it was brutal. Trashbins, chairs, thumbtacks and even MORE beer bottles. This match had pretty much everything you can think of. It was a fitting end to the long-standing rivalry between the tag team, especially with Storm smashing the beer bottle over ROODE’s head. This match was pretty dramatic though. A number of near falls had me on the edge of my seat. 2:29 into the video was a shocker for me. The match had such intensity in it and produced a magnificent display. I think Storm was bloodied a bit too early I think when Bobby took more damage and barely bled.

But this rivalry was built up so well. I think Richard Corey from Bleacher Report put it best in this article when he said:

“Roode and Storm have created something more. They’ve created something that harkens back to the old days of wrestling where fans could immerse themselves in the narrative and get lost.”

It’s that level of intensity that the likes of Michaels and HHH had in their rivalries that made it so enthralling for the fans. I think ranking TNA feuds… this has to be up their among the best. It was so brilliantly played out and it ended with a bang in this match.

Be sure to subscribe to the Armbar Express YouTube Channel to check out the videos when they first come out and get on the blog for the in-depth analysis. I’ve got more videos finished and ready to go from WWE and TNA. If the YouTube Gods are kind, I can get these up without a problem and look out for them.