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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, this is… infuriating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

The three characters that have been confirmed are….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Detrimental To WWE Television Is Stephanie McMahon?

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The billion dollar princess with the trillion dollar body. One of the principle owners of WWE. Whatever title she goes by, Stephanie McMahon will always forever be a person of utmost importance in WWE. She’s a McMahon after all, being the only daughter of the one running the ship in the WWE. Why wouldn’t Stephanie’s “character” be as protected as it is? If you were running the WWE and one of your family members was interested in an on-screen role on the show, wouldn’t you do all you could to protect their image? It makes sense for the powers-that-be to portray Stephanie as a person of power. However, does Stephanie’s role as an authority figure do more harm than good to the product?

One of the biggest factors to take into account is the fact that WWE is currently a PG product… most of the time. There are limitations to what the WWE can pull off in terms of beatings and types of revenge dished out by their talent. It’s not like the top babyfaces of the WWE could just casually attack the women authority figures of WWE in response to a ruling that they didn’t like. Roman Reigns’ spear to Stephanie at WrestleMania 32 was one of the rare exceptions to this, in an instance where Stephanie was inadvertently attacked. People don’t like it when men attack women, especially when the men are supposed to be heroes that send out good messages. However, people also usually don’t like it when an authority figure can abuse their power and bully around the good guys who are supposed to stand up for themselves

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When dealing with a heel Stephanie McMahon, options are limited. If this was a heel Mr McMahon or Shane McMahon, who are capable of taking hits from men with no real issues in terms of their PG product, it’s fairly simple for the knight in shining armour to get their revenge. However, the good guys of WWE are limited when it comes to Stephanie. The best way that the good guys can get revenge is through a verbal “beatdown” towards Stephanie. Then again, this also has its setbacks. First and foremost, a lot of the fans that show up to RAW paid their money to see people settle their differences through combat. If they wanted a debate, either tune into a political show or watch Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday.

Secondly, not everyone on the roster has the ability to throw down on the microphone. Roman Reigns is better at hurling punches than hurling insults. Putting these people up against Stephanie, only to have them get verbally emasculated, leaves a severe mark on the credibility on the babyface hero. Seeing the John Cenas and Roman Reigns’ of this world not being able to do anything cool in response to Stephanie making them feel inferior doesn’t spring you with confidence.

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Not to mention that even the women of WWE are not in a position to touch Stephanie either. These girls can theoretically beat up the boss and it would come off as much better than if a man were to do it. Despite this, these women are prevented from doing so by their lack of relevancy. It’s not like Natalya or Paige are over enough at the moment to be able to do a program with her. You can make arguments for the likes of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch but the power lies with the McMahons, according to the storyline. Since these McMahons are running the show, they’ll be a big part of it. Heck, Shane and Stephanie were a big part of the Payback main event between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns. The point is that the likes of Stephanie and Shane are already considered as main event talent. With the exception of a few half-hearted “main event” segments on RAW, the women haven’t come even close to producing a true main event female star. The only women, since the Authority angle started, that have been able to physically attack Stephanie are Brie Bella (who was part of a “big” main event program with Stephanie, due to her affiliation with Daniel Bryan), Vickie Guerrero (who was leaving the company anyway) and Ronda Rousey (who is not even employed with the WWE).

There is actually one woman that is being promoted and presented as a main eventer by WWE, in the hopes of finally achieving true relevancy for the women’s division. That woman is Charlotte, which brings me to my next point. Since it’s pretty obvious that a heel Stephanie does more harm than good, the next best solution is to turn her into a babyface. It’s very difficult to say what Stephanie is now. One week, she is humiliating the babyface Teddy Long. On the next week, she’s standing up to the heel Charlotte. The chances are that Stephanie probably will slowly transform into a full-blown babyface and I think that it’s probably going to be Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam. I’ve predicted this before. Now the verbal tirade that Stephanie gave to Charlotte on RAW a few weeeks ago actually comes off better than if she would have done it to Roman Reigns.

Now that Stephanie’s a babyface, her speaking out about it is presented as a positive thing. Charlotte had humiliated Ric Flair and so Stephanie completely tore into Charlotte. I’m sure that there’s a lot of people that’ll argue that the whole “eye for an eye” thing is not a 100% babyface move. However, at least she’s pointing out that what Charlotte said was a disgraceful thing.

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I’m not a fan of the idea of this Charlotte/Stephanie angle in the slightest. I’m not a fan of the idea of Stephanie McMahon possibly winning the WWE Women’s Championship. However, the WWE had already done a great job in killing the momentum of the women’s division anyway. There’s literally nobody that is in a position to challenge Charlotte, other than Stephanie and Sasha Banks (who has only worked house shows and Main Events since April). Therefore, I don’t think this feud is detrimental to product as the division is already in a bad shape. If the women’s division after WrestleMania stayed exactly like it had from the Royal Rumble until WrestleMania 32, I’d argue that it would be detrimental. Since the WWE did dig its own grave with the Charlotte/Natalya program and all the other bad aspects of women’s wrestling in WWE in the last few months, I’m really not as concerned as I should be.

However, at least what Stephanie’s doing is all directed at the heels. If the heel does a bad thing and Stephanie responds, it suddenly has a much less detrimental effect. If the heel then followed that up by attacking Stephanie, then that gives the heel more heat as he or she just attacked somebody that’s not even an active wrestler. A lot of the fans would argue that it would still make the male heels feel emasculated for Stephanie to verbally attack them, but I still think it wouldn’t have been as bad as if it were a babyface being emasculated.

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Personally, I don’t think any of your stars should be emasculated at all as you should be doing your best to present your stars as superstars. They should all be presented as positively and as star-like as possible. However, at least when Stephanie does it to a heel, it’s presented as a good thing and it’s the babyface that’s sending the positive message. Whether the message is women standing up to men or standing up for the defenseless, Stephanie can send that message better as a babyface.

 

Main Event 31/05/16 Review: Sasha Banks vs Summer Rae – The Return Of The Boss

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express, with a small review of the women’s match from this week’s episode of Main Event. This episode featured the return of “The Boss” Sasha Banks to television, as she defeated Summer Rae upon her return. The main point of the match was for Sasha to return in triumphant fashion and beat her former BFF Summer Rae. No mention of their previous relationship by the commentators for this match. SPEAKING OF WHICH…

The commentators for this episode of Main Event was Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler and guest commentator Dolph Ziggler. I know that there’s a lot of fans that love Dolph Ziggler but I have to be honest – this was a pretty bad outing from the man. In a way, I do feel bad for Dolph as this was probably just a last minute deal for him to be on this show as a commentator. I also think commentary is probably a lot more difficult than people realise. With that said though, he was just so hard to deal with on commentary. He started out seemingly lost and not having a lot to say. He and Lawler started cracking jokes about the women, including about how Ziggler apparently couldn’t remember Summer Rae’s name despite the fact that Ziggler and Summer were involved in one of the most promoted angles of 2015. We all know how that turned out…

Then, as Jerry Lawler was making jokes, Ziggler started talking and becoming a lot more active. He began raising his voice more and more until the closing part of the match, where all Ziggler did was just screech at the top of his lungs. All of this was just a complete channel-changer when it came to the commentary. Tom Phillips was average, Jerry did everything but talk about the match and Ziggler was just not a fit out there in the slightest. The thing that was most alarming and worrying about all of this though was their treatment of Summer Rae…

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Summer Rae came out to cut this promo and she’s trying her best to build up anticipation for the WWE Brand Extension. Even though she’s on the fourth most important show WWE has to offer, she’s doing the best with what she’s got. While she’s cutting this promo, the Main Event commentary team couldn’t help but laugh and mock her while she was talking. You could hear all of this sniggering from Jerry Lawler and Dolph Ziggler while Summer is cutting this promo, which was not actually that bad considering that there are far worse promo-cutters on the main roster than Summer. Actually, her delivery and her poise is pretty great. She carries herself around as unique and as a star, even if she isn’t one. She’s like the women’s division’s version of the Miz, who does such a great job in playing the heel that you love to boo.

Summer claimed that mainstream media were talking about where she would be going in the draft when Sasha Banks came out. Sasha was talking about everyone talking about the other women on the roster, when they should be talking about Sasha. Summer did mess up a little when she was talking about Sasha competing in the triple threat at WrestleMania, really just in the delivery. The announcers couldn’t help but laugh in order to hurt Summer’s credibility. She claimed that she would have won the Women’s title if she was in the women’s match at Mania and Sasha claimed that Summer couldn’t even catch Sasha’s mic. Sasha threw her mic at Summer and SUMMER CAUGHT IT! This led to a brawl to kick-off the match.

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The two girls brawled on the apron which led to Summer booting Sasha off it to take control. Summer did the submission that a lot of women do, where she gets behind her opponent and traps Sasha’s arms with her legs. To make a complete joke of the situation, Dolph asked Jerry if he’d ever been in that position. Jerry’s answer was “I wish.”

Summer hit some moves including the “Super Model Kick” which got a near fall. They went back-and-forth until Sasha won with the Bank Statement.

The match itself was OK but the commentary was the real highlight of the whole ordeal, although this was quite the opposite of a highlight in all honesty. It was memorable because in case you’ve missed it, WWE have spent the last year pushing the women’s division and attempting to give the women a new-found purpose. They wanted the fans to treat this more than just filler in between the angles involving the men. They wanted to make them seem as genuine commodities to the roster. On RAW, they made this big video package about Charlotte’s supposedly shocking turn on her father Ric. They had the likes of Dean Ambrose and ironically Dolph Ziggler talking about this big angle, in an attempt to make it seem like the Flair stuff was a major angle for the product. That’s how much they wanted this to work.

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Then I listen to this commentary and any faith in the idea that WWE are giving it their all to make this division vieable again is just quickly undone. If you want to build up someone as a top star in your company, then you need other wrestlers around in order to help elevate that person. You need “stars” in order to try and make a superstar out of your proposed champion. Sasha Banks is reportedly in line for a program with Charlotte, which is expected to be for Summerslam.

I personally don’t believe that these plans will stay the same and I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog (I’ll leave the links for these posts at the bottom of this post). If these plans are legitimate and they ended up going with Sasha, they need to build her up right. Sasha beating women cleanly is fine. However, the announcers spent the entire segment and match burying Summer and trying to make her out to be a complete joke. Perception is reality, as the old saying goes, and how the fans perceive these acts will have a bigger effect than what everyone thinks.

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If the commentators are making Summer out to be a joke, the fans will perceive Summer Rae to be a joke. If the fans perceive Summer as a joke, they will perceive Sasha as a joke for not taking out this joke a lot sooner into the match (keep in mind that Summer had the majority of the heat too). If they perceive Sasha as a joke, they will perceive Charlotte and her title reign as a joke as only jokers are competing for her championship. If they perceive Charlotte as a joke, they will perceive the entire division as a joke as their champion has no legitimate challengers to pose as a threat as the whole division is filled with jokes. In fact, the announcers were laughing at the possibility of anyone caring about Summer Rae!

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE LEGITIMATE MAIN EVENT OF THE SHOW.

I don’t care if this is the least most important show that WWE have to offer. This match is supposed to be the main attraction for the viewers of this particular episode and the announcers are telling you not to care by laughing at these talents. If I was a commentator, I’d be doing my best to tell you that these girls… ARE STARS.

It may seem as a small match to complain about but this was just one of the greater examples about how this division cannot possibly “evolve” with the direction they are taking it.

 

Related Links

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SLTD: The Women’s Devolution

 

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

 

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“We want Sasha.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extreme Rules 2016 Review – Extremely Fine Professional Wrestling

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Extreme Rules saw the continuation of the “new era” in WWE. Feuds and storylines continued on from Payback, with Roman Reigns and AJ Styles battling for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship once again. Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose settled their differences in the first ever Asylum match and four men went to war in a action-packed fatal four way match for the Intercontinental Championship. The pressure was on for WWE to deliver.

 

PRE-SHOW: Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler in a No Disqualification match

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Ziggler fired up on Corbin early with Corbin turning the tables by sending Ziggler over the turnbuckle Triple-H-style. He took over and there was some really nice heel offense from Corbin. He yelled at Ziggler to “stay home” which led to Ziggler’s comeback. Corbin moved out of the way for Ziggler’s elbow drop but Ziggler simply dropkicked him and did the elbow drop anyway.

Corbin hit the Deep Six. Corbin caught Ziggler off the top, to which Ziggler countered with a DDT. That was a very well executed spot. Ziggler hit the famouser but Corbin kicked out. Corbin then hit the low blow on Ziggler to which Mauro Ranallo sold tremendously on commentary. He claimed that Corbin “pulverised the plums” of Ziggler! Corbin hit the End of Days and won.

It was an OK pre-show match. The right man won and hopefully Corbin can move on to somebody else.

 

The Usos vs Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a tornado tag team match

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The Usos attacked Gallows and Anderson on the entrance ramp. Again I ask… who are the heels supposed to be?

The Usos ran wild until Anderson sent one of the Usos into the crowd. He came back out to do a dive. Gallows Irish Whipped an Uso into the ringpost and the duo did the Boot of Doom to the other one. This got applause from the crowd.

Anderson and Gallows battered Jey Uso with corner running attacks. They attempted a Doomsday Device but they are stopped. The Club tried the Boot of Doom but was stopped again. The Usos delivered the double superkick on Gallows and went for the the double splash but Anderson cut him off.

One of the Usos tried a Whisper in the Wind but missed. There was an cool spot when the Gallows Pole, Samoan Drop and a Spinebuster were delivered in one big sequence.

These guys were working at a really fast pace and they were doing a damn good job at it. Karl ran into the superkick from Jey. Jey did the running hip attack into the barricade, which was followed by a big clothesline by Gallows. This prompted JBL to yell “LARIATOOOO!”

Gallows grabbed the ring bell but was cut off by Jimmy’s superkick. Big Boos when the Usos took over. Jimmy went for the splash but missed which led to the Club hitting Black Magic and winning.

The right team won this. This was a fast but greatly worked match and both teams should really give themselves a pat on the back. The right team won as the Club obviously needed the clean win over the Usos.

 

Kalisto (c) vs Rusev for the United States Championship

Kalisto tried to cut Rusev down to size with a number of kicks but Rusev wasn’t budging. Rusev no-sold a springboard move, playing a great big man in this David vs Goliath match. Rusev laced Kalisto with a kick to the face and “We Want Lana” chants broke out. Rusev delivered a running elbow drop, which Kalisto kicked out of. Rusev looked very mean in this match.

There were “let’s go Rusev” and “Rusev sucks” chants, with the pro-Rusev chants winning. Rusev locked on the bearhug, with the Bulgarian going to the ground while Kalisto screamed. Michael Cole reminded us that this is a traditional match, as opposed to all the non-traditional matches in WWE history. There were small CM Punk chants IN 2016. Keep trying guys. Rusev did the torture rack, where he carried him around and taunted like a true heel powerhouse. This was great old-school stuff from Rusev.

Kalisto tried a sleeper but Rusev simply drops him, with Lana applauding. Kalisto fires up with a corckscrew springboard and hurricanrana facebuster. Kalisto did a hurricanrana to Rusev into the steel steps. That was a pretty innovate attack. Kalisto did a springboard frog splash but Rusev kicked out. Kalisto did an awesome moonsault to the outside. Rusev tossed Kalisto onto the ring apron. With injuries mounting up for WWE, why not risk another one by dropping Kalisto on the hardest part of the ring? Really good idea. Rusev tried to go for the accolade but the referee stopped him. The referee wanted to check on Kalisto. Rusev ignores him and went for PAINFUL accolade submission. Kalisto tapped out quickly and soon as Rusev stretched Kalisto out with the move. We had a new WWE United States Champion.

This did catch me off-guard as I expected Kalisto to win but the right man won. This was a fun and unique match, with the perfect use of the David vs Goliath chemistry.

The New Day cut a promo. Xaiver wants to “shoot his shot,” which led to a “shoot his shot” chant.  They talked about the time machine segment from RAW. Usually antics from the group. This got big reactions from the crowd.

Simon Gotch laid it in early on as the Vaudevillians beat up the New Day. JBL once again referenced to Leicester City’s Premier League title victory. Aiden hit a reverse stroke. Big E went for Big Ending but the Vaudevillians broke it up. They attacked Kofi on the outside.

Big E got the hot tag and delivered belly to bellys to English and Gotch and hit a big splash.

This was actually a great comeback from Big E as the New Day took over. Big E hit the big spear to Aiden English to the outside. I always love this spot but Big E really shouldn’t be doing it as much as he does it. He does not land well for him. After interference from Kofi, Xaiver hit the running knee to retain the tag titles.

This was a fine tag team match and Xaiver looked strong which is good. Xaiver doesn’t really wrestle in the tag team matches as much as Big E and Kofi, so it’s great to see him get his chance in the ring. Xaiver’s actually a good worker so it’s nice to see him involved. The right team won.

 

AJ was walking backstage. Renee interviewed him. AJ vowed to win the title, which was a case from deja vu as he essentially did the same promo from Payback. He went into the Club locker room.

 

The Miz (c) w/Maryse vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental Championship

Quite interesting to see the Intercontinental Championship match get a promo video beforehand. It was a pretty good one actually and it genuinely did a good job in hyping up the match.

Cesaro was casually doing press-ups in the ring during the entrances. The match got off to a flyer, with Sami blistering down to the other corner of the ring and blasting Kevin Owens with a Helluva kick. This was a very effective start-of-the-match finisher which played into the storylines and a great touch to the match. Gave me flashbacks to Survivor Series 2009, where Shawn Michaels hit Triple H with the superkick right away! Just awesome stuff.

Cesaro followed this up by running across the ring to uppercut Miz. This lead to Cesaro and Zayn having a nice one-on-one exchange between the Swiss Man and the Canadian.

Zayn took Cesaro to arm drag city, with Cesaro turning things around. Zayn then delivered hurricanranas and side kicks to Cesaro in a lovely little back and forth. Cesaro caught Zayn with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Miz got back involved, which eventually led to Zayn doing a dive to both Cesaro and Miz on the outside. Miz begged Zayn off, but Miz lured him into an attack. Miz hit his signature clothesline in the corner. There was a tower of doom spot building which was broken up by Kevin Owens. Owens actually did a good job in breaking up the spot. I saw somebody on Twitter calling Kevin Owens the “babyface of the year” for breaking up the tower of doom spot. It is insanely overdone though in fatal four ways.

Despite this, we still ended up getting one anyway. Owens took control for a few minutes but Miz and Zayn got involved to set up a double suplex spot. Cesaro swooped in and delivered the tower of doom spot. This did get a big pop though.

Do you remember a spot at WrestleMania 22, when Kurt Angle did the double German suplex spot with Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio? We saw quite the alternative during this match, when Miz got Zayn up for the Taz-Plex with Cesaro delivering the German suplex to Miz which launched Zayn. A tricky spot to pull off which didn’t exactly have the same effect as the WrestleMania spot, but it still looked sharp.

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Cesaro ran wild and delivered uppercuts to everyone. Kevin then took over with a German suplex to Cesaro. Owens clotheslined Miz and proceeded to do cannonballs to Cesaro, Miz and Zayn. Cesaro hit the uppercut to Zayn. Miz sneaked in from behind and hit the Skull Crushing Finale to Cesaro but Cesaro kicked out. A good way to build up Cesaro, considering that he was the one who got pinned later. The match was at such a fast pace that I really struggled to make notes of everything.

Miz slapped Cesaro for kicking out which led to a springboard uppercut by Cesaro. Cesaro did the Cesaro Swing to the Miz. He went for the sharpshooter but the Miz got the ropes. Maryse was dragged into ring from the sharpshooter. Miz eventually tapped but the referee was distracted. Kevin Owens tried a roll-up and then hit the bullfrog splash on Miz. Cesaro hit the neutriliser but Zayn broke it up!

We got big ole chants! The crowd was going crazy for this match! Zayn hit an awesome looking sunset flip on Cesaro but Cesaro kicked out. Cesaro hit a HUGE uppercut to Zayn! Zayn hit the Exploder Suplex.

Zayn tried the Helluva kick but he was cut off by Owens. Owens hit the Pop-up Powerbomb, went for the cover but it was broken up by Miz. Miz gave the Skull Crushing Finale to Owens on outside. He covered Cesaro but Cesaro kicked out.

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Zayn hit the Helluva kick on Ceasro but Owens threw him out. Zayn eventually got mad and beats up Owens on the outside. Miz covered Cesaro and finally won. This match was all kinds of awesome. Bravo to EVERYONE involved! Miz more than held his own against the likes of Cesaro, Zayn and Owens. They did everything they could to protect Cesaro before they finally beat him. It was a good finish with Zayn’s hatred of Owens getting the best of him as Miz sneaked away with the pin. If Zayn had stopped bullying Owens on the outside, he would have won!

Just remember kids – don’t be a bully! Be a star!

I know a lot of people were upset with The Miz retaining the title but the right man won and I’ll explain why. The story of the match was that Cesaro, Zayn and Owens all were fighting their arses of to try and win the championship, with the Miz having to resort to sneaky pin attempts throughout the match. Cesaro, Zayn and Owens all looked great in this match as the Intercontinental Championship meant everything to them. In fact, they all looked BETTER than The Miz.

Zayn tried over and over again to win the match but Kevin Owens cut him off every time. He hit the Helluva kick one last time but Owens broke it up again. This enraged Zayn so much that he simply decided to just try and beat Owens to a pulp, as it’s the only way that he’ll get him out of the picture. He’s blinded by rage so much though that he allowed Miz to steal the pin and finally retain the title.

You didn’t bury Zayn, as he had the match won. You didn’t bury Cesaro, as he kicked out of all sorts of moves. You didn’t bury Owens, as he was one of the smartest wrestlers in this match. You didn’t bury Miz, as he WON THE MATCH. Everybody got over and the challengers all qualified for the Money In The Bank match anyway, so who really cares if the Miz got the pin?

This was quite possibly the best match shown on the main roster in all of 2016 so far and it involved… THE MIZ.

Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho in an Asylum match

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They played “creepy” music as the Asylum cage came down and we got a Perry Saturn reference from JBL. You could tell from the get-go that this was going to be… weird.

Jericho ran to the door right away but Ambrose stops him. This match couldn’t end via escape. Ambrose grated his face with the cage. I respect Jericho for working the match in those jeans.

Ambrose smashed Jericho into the cage walls. Ambrose has some serious pondering to do as he went for the mop and the bucket but Jericho stopped him.

Think about this for a minute. In a match where weapons such as 2x4s are available, Ambrose went for the mop. As far as the structure of the match and the “build” up to the best weapon until last deal, it would make sense for Jericho and Ambrose to use the “weaker” weapons first. However I’d imagine that if I could go for any of those weapons during an actual fight, I would not go for a mop. It’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight.

 

Charlotte (c) vs Natalya in a submission match for the WWE Women’s Championship. If Ric Flair interjected himself into the match, Charlotte would lose the title.

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I’ve not been a fan of Charlotte during her title reign. In the seven days between the RAW before Extreme Rules and the RAW after Extreme Rules, the WWE found a way to make me utterly detest the idea of Charlotte being the top star on the women’s roster. The main event segment of RAW with Charlotte and Natalya did little to help with the promotion of this match. Then I watched the match. Infuriating…

Someone on Twitter mentioned that they totally expected Ric to come to the ring in a disguise to interfere. I actually would have forgiven everything bad about this Charlotte/Natalya feud if they had Ric Flair come out in some clever disguise. I just wish he came out as himself but with a GIANT mustache, which completely fools Natalya! Natalya ended up getting fooled twice in this match so if you’re going to make Natalya out to be a complete fool, at least do it in the most entertaining way possible! The finish of the Payback saw a Montreal Screwjob so why not do another completely ridiculous finish?

We got early Sharpshooter attempts by Natalya. Momentum in the match switched back and forth. Charlotte delivered a chin-lock but a snapmare by Natalya turned the tide.
Natalya hit the discuss clothesline and forearms, and the girls did some moves.
Charlotte went for figure-four but Nat countered this into an ARMBAR which led to the dead-lift spot from Charlotte.

Roman Reigns (c) vs AJ Styles in an Extreme Rules match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

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Then we got the main event of the evening and it was quite a main event. We got big boos for Roman and big cheers for AJ. We also got a “Roman is Anoai-ng” sign from the crowd! We got a lovely little striking battle between AJ and Roman. AJ grabbed the chair but Roman cut him off. Roman grabbed the chair and went for a chair shot, but AJ moved out of the way. They battled into the crowd and even fought into the kick-off panel area. Roman threw him into the panel table, which looked like it sucked for AJ.

AJ then fired back with a Phenomenal Forearm off the kick-off table. AJ mocked Roman’s roar as they made it back into the ringside area. AJ took away the protective floor padding. A Styles Clash there would have been really nasty but Roman fought out of it. Roman went for a powerbomb but AJ punched his way out of it. They landed on the German announce table. A Styles Clash on the announce table was countered by Reigns, who backdropped AJ through the table. Styles landed right on his arse and it looked very painful for the phenomenal one. After all, AJ does get some serious air time with these backdrops that he takes!

Following that move and a big Batista Bomb by Roman in the ring (which looked great), we got “you still suck” chants from the crowd. This was a good chant for Roman as the fans acknowledged that what he did was cool but they still just didn’t like him. At least the crowd notices that what you did was awesome.

AJ did the chop block and suplexed Roman into the turnbuckle. AJ hit the running knee. Roman caught AJ’s attempt at a hurricanrana on the outside and SWUNG AJ into the ring post and the barricade before powerbombing AJ through another announce table. This was a great spot for Roman and AJ did a great job in making the guy look good.

To make sure that it wasn’t a completely one-sided beating, Roman missed a spear through the barricade. This was all great stuff. Roman then countered a Phenomenal Forerarm with a Superman punch. A great counter from the Samoan.

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Roman then speared AJ on the floor. AJ took some serious hits during this match, which is probably why WWE did all their best to protect him physically in the few weeks before the pay-per-view. As pointed out by Bryan Alvarez, AJ Styles is ridiculously great. Gallows and Andrson came out and hit the Boot of Doom on Roman. They rolled AJ into the cover but Reigns kicked out. The Usos run out and hit everyone with super kicks! This was quite the super kick party as they battered AJ. They did the Uso Splash but AJ kicked out. The brawl between the tag teams continued with Roman giving Superman Punches to Gallows and Anderson. AJ then hit the Styles Clash but Roman kicked out.

AJ caught Roman’s Superman Punch with a Pele kick. Some great stuff. Styles then hit Roman with the Styles Clash on the chair, which got a two count. Then we got the best spot in the entire match in my opinion. AJ, after everything that’s happened with Gallows, Anderson, Usos and Roman, completely snaps. He grabs a chair and unleashes hell of Roman Reigns, Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso. The crowd is going crazy as AJ lays waste to everyone with chairs in an incredible 30 seconds of the match. I wish that AJ won the match off that but he didn’t. Roman got the victory by catching AJ coming off the top rope and hit him with a spear. AN INCREDIBLE MATCH.

People were upset with the finish of this one as Roman Reigns went over. However, AJ Styles put on the performance of a lifetime in order to make Roman out to be a star. Think of every wrestler than Roman Reigns has faced since his big push began. He’s wrestled against the likes of Daniel Bryan and Brock Lesnar but it was still hard to take him seriously as a main event star. He had good matches with Daniel Bryan and he did look good in taking the beating from Brock Lesnar. However, AJ is the first wrestler to make Roman seem like an actual Superman in the WWE. AJ sold and sold moves like crazy and did everything in his power to put Roman Reigns over. He did lose the match clean and he did take a lot of punishment, but I do personally believe that big things are ahead for AJ after this performance. You know why? Because he made Vince McMahon’s golden boy out to be such a star to the point where even Roman Reigns’ detractors are acknowledging that he’s doing some badass moves in this main event with AJ. I personally believe that this was much better than their Payback match. I did say that the Intercontinental title match may have been the best main roster match of the year, but this match is a incredibly close rival. This match was ever so good.

So following all of this, Seth Rollins appears to an insane pop. Seth hit the Pedigree on Roman and held up the WWE World title to make his return after six months out with an injury. I did not expect this to happen but I think this could lead to something great happening in their title match at Money In The Bank…

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I’m not going to lie… I thought Payback was a better pay-per-view than Extreme Rules. With that said though, NOTHING that happened at Payback was better than the Intercontinental title match and the main event match of Extreme Rules. Those two matches were something to behold. Everyone of the six men involved in those two matches came off as such stars to me. Even Gallows, Anderson and the Usos looked good and their tag match was actually pretty good. I think Payback was the better show but I think Extreme Rules did a much better job in sending the storylines and direction of the company in the right direction.

16/05/2016 RAW Review – Women’s Title Contract Signing Closes RAW Once Again

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a RAW review, re-capping the go-home show for Extreme Rules 2016. Three weeks to promote a pay-per-view is never healthy, whenever WWE does this. I’ve seen them promote pay-per-views in the space of two weeks previously and it’s just not enough for the fans to digest new developments or just new storylines in general. It’s going to be very difficult to convince the fans that this pay-per-view is going to be different than the last one you just watched, and the WWE haven’t done a great job in giving you that feel with this one.

Scheduled for Extreme Rules includes a rematch from the main event of Payback, a rematch from the women’s title match at Payback and we’ve even got a Payback rematch between Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho. To be fair, the Payback show was actually pretty good. There was little wrong with that pay-per-view but there’s a whole lot wrong with the build to this one. With three weeks to build up this show, the WWE have struggled to make it seem like this show isn’t anything more than a continuation from what happened at Payback. Many will argue that every single pay-per-view is essentially a continuation of WWE storylines, but each pay-per-view should also stand out on their own merit. I don’t want to see the same matches that I saw last month. This RAW suffered in the same way that their pay-per-view will.

This RAW saw SO MANY repeats of what we’ve seen in the last few weeks of RAW and essentially what we’ve seen in the entirety of 2016. Did we not see Alberto Del Rio and Kalisto fight over and over again at the start of the year on RAW, SmackDown! and pay-per-views? Did we not see Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows fight the Usos on SmackDown!, as well as in the many six man tag team matches between “The Club” and Roman Reigns’ crew? Did we not see everyone in the mix for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules in a tag team match together on SmackDown!? Did we not see Becky Lynch fight Dana Brooke on SmackDown!?  What was so damn special about RAW this week that will cause viewers to stick around to watch Extreme Rules on the WWE Network?

Furthermore, how did the go-home show for Extreme Rules actually promote the pay-per-view? You had the same AJ Styles teasing angle that you’ve been pushing for nearly two months now. You had the closing segment of the show featuring the contract signing for Charlotte and Natalya, with the focus being on Ric Flair and the McMahons. You had the most entertaining segment (the Golden Truth video package) being centred around a feud which is not even a part of the pay-per-view. You announced the pre-show match (which is also a rematch from Payback) with none of the competitors even being on RAW to build towards that match, which could have helped pop a rating on YouTube if you really tried hard enough. They even had a post-RAW segment with Dolph Ziggler on the WWE’s YouTube page, which would have been better suited on RAW to build towards the pay-per-view.

This show was NOT one of the worst RAWs I’ve ever seen. It’s the farthest thing from but I’m just completely baffled by it. To be fair, the first two hours were not that bad. However, that third hour just completely drained me of life. I don’t mean any disrespect to the likes of Del Rio, Kalisto, Rusev, Big Cass, the Dudley Boyz and the women involved in the final segment, but this was just another reminder of the painful truth that this show is WAY TOO LONG. It’s not like the WWE attempted to save their best stuff for last, which is probably what they should do. They gave us the content that would be better suited for an episode of Main Event or Superstars and they put it on the final hour of RAW leading into their next pay-per-view.

I will go into further detail about the infamous closing segment for RAW as I’ve got a LOT to say about that segment. However, let’s just dive right in.

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AJ Styles came out for a promo. He discussed the apparent talk on social media about himself conspiring with Gallows and Anderson as part of “The Club.” He showed all of these tweets about the storyline and these tweets were not derogatory of AJ and the Club at all. As a matter of fact, it was a number of fans tweeting about how cool the idea of the stable is!

And AJ, god bless his soul, is trying to sell that this tweets are so hurtful to him. This entire segment just goes to show to where the wind has blown in terms of support in this storyline. The WWE are trying to portray and hint at this idea of AJ, Gallows and Anderson being mischievous and dastardly, and this crowd is not buying into any of it. The fans think everything they do is cool and everything Roman Reigns and the Usos do is lame. Speaking of which…

Roman Reigns comes out to thunderous boos and he said that everything AJ’s done in the past meant nothing as he’s never won the WWE Championship. Let’s think about this line for a second. With the rare exceptions of the Giant when he won the WCW Championship in his first match, how many wrestlers have actually won a world title in their first match? A very small few. This seemed like a completely burial of nearly everyone on WWE’s roster, as probably 75% of the roster has not won the WWE Championship. About 50% of them have never been given a WWE Championship match. AJ was trying to put himself over by talking about headlining the Tokyo Dome and Roman Reigns claiming that those things don’t matter just completely derailed AJ as a threat. If AJ were to win the championship at Extreme Rules, I wouldn’t have had a problem with this line as it meant that AJ silenced his critics. However if AJ loses clean, who could possibly want to care about AJ after being insulted and beaten by Roman?

This was not the greatest of back-and-forths on the microphone. Roman Reigns is not too good on the mic. AJ Styles is not too phenomenal either. At least it wasn’t THAT LONG until Gallows and Anderson came out. The Usos came out to have Roman’s back, which led to Roman cheap-shotting AJ.

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Sami Zayn was scheduled to face Cesaro. Currently Zayn, Cesaro, Kevin Owens and The Miz are embroiled in a four way feud for the Intercontinental Championship. We’ve seen matches between the faces and the heels, with Cesaro fighting Miz and Owens and Zayn fighting Miz and Owens too. The mouth-watering prospect, as a fan, must surely be to see Cesaro and Zayn go all-out as big time babyfaces in a match against each other. That match going into Extreme Rules would have been a killer way to get people invested into the four way match. However, they had to have Miz and Owens break it up early on to cause the no contest.

This led to Cesaro and Zayn vs Owens and Miz being announced by Shane McMahon, who clearly never watched SmackDown! as that match actually happened. In fact, Stephanie McMahon came out and pulled him up on this! She made things interesting by having Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn fight Cesaro and Miz in a tag team match instead. Unless the big plan is to turn Stephanie McMahon into a babyface, why would have the heel authority figure ever out-do the babyface in terms of match-making?

I know a  lot of people are going to disagree but I felt that passing up a Zayn/Cesaro match for just another tag team match was a huge misjudgment by the writers. The whole storyline for this match was that everyone has been fighting each other anyway and they’ll fight each other at Extreme Rules, so why would you have them all fighting each other on RAW? At least if you did Cesaro and Zayn, you could have sent fans into Extreme Rules thinking “Wow. They went all out for this non-title match on RAW. Imagine how far they’ll go to win the Intercontinental Championship!” Another added benefit was that you could have also addressed the incident on SmackDown!, where Zayn accidentally hit Cesaro with the helluva kick!

The tag match was actually pretty good. There was obvious issues between the two sets of teams. In a surprising move, Kevin Owens got the hot tag in this match. A unique choice, especially when there’s two babyfaces already in there that could have had the tag. However, Kevin running wild was great to see and the fans were into it. Cesaro then tagged himself in and hit a series of uppercuts on Owens. Miz tagged himself, threw out Cesaro and then attempted the Cesaro Swing on Zayn. Cesaro broke it up and hit Miz with the Skull-Crushing Finale. Zayn hit the helluva kick on Miz to pick up the win. Owens laid out Zayn with the superkick and claimed the victory. This was a fun tag team match and I do have high hopes for the match at Extreme Rules. I think it could be incredible stuff, even with the Miz involved.

Renee Young interviewed Chris Jericho. Jericho whined about his $15,000 light-up jacket being destroyed by Dean Ambrose and that he demanded an apology. He said that the jacket was worth more than Andre The Giant was to WWE.

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Next up was the re-debut of the “Shining Stars” Primo and Epico. I don’t know how many people picked up on this, but Vince McMahon mentioned something last week during the conference call following the release of the financial numbers for WWE’s first quarter. He talked about how there would be even more talent on their roster than ever before, with new and returning superstars coming back. After this whole deal about bringing in more talent, the WWE had the “Shining Stars” take on two local talents! They couldn’t have Primo and Epico beat at least a recognisable tag team? They couldn’t have faced the Social Outcasts or maybe a tag team of Titus O’Neil and Zack Ryder?

Primo and Epico called the ring their paradise and they beat the enhancement talent. I’ve got to say that Primo and Epico really have to make this gimmick work. I don’t want to say that they’re doomed but it’s going to be very difficult to get this gimmick over. They’ve had several incarnations of this tag team, including a matador team where they were over-shadowed by a mini bull who is now no longer with the company. I don’t see this having a major impact but you know what, please prove me wrong. I actually think that these two are good workers and the New Day are proof that any bad gimmick can be turned into a hugely over act. My advice would be to get as crazy and over-the-top as possible with this gimmick as it’s going to be difficult for them to get over by just playing a generic cocky heel, as there’s plenty going around in WWE at the moment.

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Dean Ambrose appeared to call out Chris Jericho. He just wanted to talk to him. Jericho came out and said that since he’s a millionaire, the money that the jacket cost didn’t mean anything to him. He wants an apology because Ambrose destroyed a part of his legacy. Ambrose instead challenged him to a match at Extreme Rules, to  which Jericho accepted. Dean then revealed that Shane McMahon gave him the choice to have any type of match he wanted at Extreme Rules. Dean then lowered down a cage, with a platform above it with different weapons hanging off it. Dean declared this to be an Asylum match. This really was just a Lethal Lockdown match, except that it’s simply just one on one. The weapons that were hanging off this platform including leather belts, kendo sticks, barbed wired 2x4s, straitjackets and a fire extinguisher. There was also a couple of mops hanging up there, which Perry Saturn apparently gave the OK to.

So Dean started cutting this promo as the cage came down and the production crew played this horror-film like music as Dean cut this promo. Dean was doing his best to sell this match and you couldn’t take it seriously at all, as the music was almost comical.

Let me just state that I’ve not been the biggest of fans of this feud between Jericho and Ambrose. It started off as a feud over talk shows, then moved into a feud about plants and there was little seriousness to any of this. However, I still thought that the WWE had turned the corner last week with the attacks from both men. When Jericho attacked Dean while he was in a straitjacket, I thought that was really well done. When they revealed the asylum match though, it’s almost as if the work done to try and redeem the angle just went up in smoke. I know some people like the goofiness of this all but at the end of the day, these two men are both supposedly main-eventers in WWE. The fact that they’re having this feud over daft things like plants, talk shows and jackets is just not the way to get Ambrose over to a main-event level. I’m not a fan of the match stipulation as I felt that an I Quit match would have been much more appropriate for the feud as it was building up in intensity. 

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Becky Lynch took on Dana Brooke, in a SmackDown! rematch. No Emma at ringside as she was unfortunately sidelined with a back injury. This match was OK. Dana didn’t really screw anything up. Dana seemed a bit hesitant with her work, which is understandable considering that this is her first match on RAW. Becky was able to get a decent match out of her but Dana ended up going over. I mentioned this for SLTD Wrestling but it’s going to be rather difficult for Dana to get herself over without Emma being there but it seems that they still want to do stuff with Dana, as she got the win again on RAW. Becky had to lose twice in a row to Dana but at least it wasn’t your typical 50/50 booking from WWE. They want to try and do something with the new girl which is totally fine.

We had a “Make Darren Young great again” vignette with Darren Young and Bob Backlund. Bob was appalled by Darren’s use of the phone to do simple things such as checking the time and setting the alarm clock. He demanded that Darren did squats for him. I actually think that this angle could be a huge success and I’ll explain why. The ones that are running the ship like Vince McMahon have been in the wrestling industry for years. They have an old-school look at life and wrestling, as is the case with Roman Reigns’ push. There’s a lot of aspects about the wrestling industry that they don’t understand. They don’t understand why some guys are more over than other guys and why things like NXT are such a huge hit. Using Darren Young and Bob Backlund as a means to get across their mindset is a great way to do it. Bob’s disgusted reactions at Darren for using a phone were great to see and I actually think that this will be an angle that’ll get more over than it probably should do!

With that being said, what came next was rather interesting. The Dudley Boyz appeared before Stephanie and Shane to remind that while this is the “New Era,” the Dudleyz were from the Attitude Era and still had something to offer. It’s funny because after they named-dropped the Attitude Era, everybody cheered! They wanted a tag team match but the McMahons refused. They allowed them to decide among themselves about which one of them would be a singles match later. That match would be against Big Cass.

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Next up was something utterly tremendous. It was a video package to commemorate the “Golden Truth” storyline and it just goes to show you that those who put together the video packages for WWE programming are some of the best in the world at what they do. This was essentially a comedy storyline but by the end of it, it made you care so much about the direction of R-Truth and Goldust! This was portrayed as the greatest love storyline in the history of the WWE and it featured two men going back and forth about whether to form a tag team! It showcased the struggle of both these men as Goldust wanted to be Truth’s partner but Truth refused. Truth eventually broke up the entire relationship and Goldust went with someone else in Fandango. Truth tried to make him jealous with a new tag team partner of his own in Tyler Breeze. Fandango and Breeze then realised that both men were just using them to get over this break-up. They turned on their partners, with Goldust sacrificing himself to try and save Truth. This was the moment where Goldust realised that he and Truth were meant for each other. And now, AT LONG LAST, these two were now officially a tag team! It was beautiful. This was like a much better version of the Shawn Michaels “Tell me a lie” video from 1997, where Shawn Michaels lost his smile. True emotions were showcased here!

The Golden Truth took on Fandango and Tyler Breeze with a team which myself and everyone but WWE dubbed “Fabreeze.” Even Fandango mentioned this name on Instagram! It was a brief back and forth match before Truth accidentally nailed Goldust with a kick which led to the heels winning. It was heart-breaking to see Golden Truth lose after that amazing video package but all is not lost with this angle. Backstage, Golden Truth were devastated and mocked by Fabreeze but they decided to stay together and continue to team together. This actually got quite the applause and cheers from the crowd! I’m personally looking forward to the future adventures of Golden Truth. A THUMBS UP FROM ME!

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The New Day came out with a giant object being covered up in the ring. Xaiver Woods revealed that he had brought a time machine to RAW, which was essentially a box with things stuck to the side! This is the sort of stuff that children do so it’s great that the WWE allowed the New Day to embrace their inner-child with this time machine! They went in to turn back time and go to the by-gone era. After a while, Kofi Kingston’s old theme played. Kofi came out, was in full-Jamaican mode and reliving his old gimmick when Xaiver Woods declared that they didn’t go back far enough. Kofi protested by saying that 2009 was his best year! He was pulled back into the time machine and they eventually came out to enter the by-gone era. It was all in black and white and the New Day had mustaches. They mocked the era and declared that they would always be WWE Tag Team Champions when the Vaudevillians jumped them. They destroyed the time machine and stood tall. A good way to get the Vaudevillians over by having them beat up three men and a funny little segment to sit through. This also gets a thumbs up from me!

The Usos took on Anderson and Gallows. It was your standard tag match between these two, with Roman Reigns and AJ Styles being in the corners of each team. The Usos won cleanly and this led to a staredown between AJ and Roman. Roman used the chair on AJ and then beat up the rest of the Club when AJ took over. He whacked Roman with this chair over and over and eventually hit the Styles Clash on the chair. This was a really good segment that really should have went on last. The Styles Clash looked nasty for Roman and I give AJ credit in getting the big man up for the move. Although this was the same sort of angle that we’ve seen in the last two months now, this was probably one of the stronger segments.

NOTE: It was announced after the show that the Usos would take on Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows again at Extreme Rules in a tornado tag team match.

Then we got into the third hour. Big Cass took on D-Von Dudley with Bubba Ray in D-Von’s corner. It didn’t even last minute until Big Cass overcame both Dudleyz and won. What was the point in putting this match on RAW? It’s not like any of these three people will be featured on Extreme Rules so unless it was just to get Big Cass on television, I don’t really know. I will say that Big Cass cut a really good promo before the match started.

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Kalisto took on Alberto Del Rio in a non-title match. Sin Cara was watching on from backstage when Rusev jumped him. They showed this on the big screen and Del Rio forced Kalisto to watch it. Rusev brought Sin Cara out to the ring as Del Rio hit Kalisto with the backstabber and won. Rusev then crushed Kalisto with the Accolade. It’s the same Del Rio/Kalisto match that we’ve seen throughout 2016 but the big issue is the fact that the US Champion lost in the go-home show before his big title defense at Extreme Rules. Rusev also lost to Sin Cara last week, so none of these guys have been able to get over on RAW in the last two weeks. I actually did the research and it turns out that Kalisto has not won a match on RAW since the episode BEFORE WRESTLEMANIA! Kalisto hasn’t won on RAW since March 28th 2016!

If Kalisto retains the US Championship at Extreme Rules, I’m just going to be baffled. What incentive is there to keep the title on Kalisto if you’re just going to treat him as a joke on television? Can we have these two guys win so maybe you could get people interested in their match? The US Championship has went from John Cena and Kevin Owens having one of the best programs of 2015 to the two challengers losing all the time leading into a pay-per-view.

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Then came the main event segment of the show. It was Charlotte and Natalya’s contract signing for Extreme Rules. Ric Flair got a big North Carolina pop as he introduced Charlotte. Charlotte got some mild woos. Natalya got a very light reaction. Stephanie and Shane were over-seeing the contract signing. Natalya ran down Charlotte and said that she wanted to face the Charlotte that she faced at NXT, who didn’t have Ric Flair watching her back. This is funny because in the NXT Women’s Championship match where Charlotte won the title, Ric Flair was in her corner!

Charlotte responded by claiming that these fans weren’t hear to cheer Natalya. She said that all of Charlotte, North Carolina treated her like a god before she told the crowd to shut up. Charlotte was about to sign the contract when she noticed a new stipulation. It was decided that if Ric Flair ran down and ignored the stipulation of him being banned from ringside, Charlotte would lose the championship. Charlotte angrily signed the contract and Ric Flair berated Stephanie, calling her the worst business person ever. Ric was going nuts and Charlotte tried to calm him down. Shane didn’t want to fight Ric out of respect for him. Stephanie stepped in and said that while Shane had respect for him, she didn’t. She slapped Ric to a big babyface reaction and even to “Stephanie” chants. Charlotte got angry and it appeared that she was about to attack Stephanie when Natalya got involved. She locked on the sharpshooter and Charlotte tapped. Natalya hoisted up the championship.Charlotte then rolled out of the ring and made no attempt to sell Natalya’s finisher. And all of this was supposed to promote CHARLOTTE VS NATALYA!

This was not as big a train-wreck as the infamous Charlotte/Paige contract signing which saw Paige speak ill of Charlotte’s deceased brother, but this was an awful attempt of promoting their women’s title match for Extreme Rules. The closing segment of the go-home show for Extreme Rules was centred around Ric Flair and the McMahons! The WWE instead decided to tease a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte!

The reported plan for Summerslam was for Charlotte to face Sasha Banks and drop the championship to her but I’m truly convinced that Sasha Banks will not be anywhere near that women’s match at Summerslam. The WWE, for whatever reason, clearly doesn’t want Sasha to be the women’s champion. Sasha being the champion is what the fans want as the “We Want Sasha” chants are still continuing. We got those chants during the Becky/Dana match. However if they wanted Sasha to be champion, she would have been by now. We wouldn’t have had to sit through an eight month title reign with Charlotte as the champion. If Sasha was truly being groomed to be the champion, she would have won it at WrestleMania 32 as she should have. But she didn’t.

I have no desire to sit through Charlotte as the champion until at least Summerslam, but that’s what we are going to get. My theory is that Sasha is being kept of television because they are looking out for other alternatives for Summerslam. They want the right woman to step up and face Charlotte instead of Sasha. This may make me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I truly believe that we’re more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Sasha winning the championship at Summerslam. I don’t want to believe that but this segment didn’t feel me with a lot of confidence.

I don’t believe Natalya has any hope of walking out the champion at Extreme Rules either. I want her to do but again, she would have won it much earlier if there was any interest internally in Natalya being the champion.

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So this RAW was not terrible as an episode of RAW but it was terrible as a go-home show for Extreme Rules. This was not the way to promote this pay-per-view. I think Extreme Rules might still be a good pay-per-view but I don’t think the numbers will be strong enough for it to be an effective pay-per-view in terms of pay-per-view buys and network subscriptions.