Retro Express: WCW Nitro #1 (September 4th 1995)

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For the first time in over 18 months, Retro Express returns to the Armbar Express! Only this time, the Retro Express is on a mission…

As long as I’ve been a wrestling fan, the biggest wrestling company I’ve ever known was World Wrestling Entertainment. I started watching wrestling in 2003, where WWE dominated the wrestling industry with no major competition at all from the sports entertainment side of things.

But there was a time, before I was a wrestling fan, where WWE did actually have huge competition. In fact, this was competition that almost drove them out of business. This competition… was World Championship Wrestling.

I’ve read Bryan Alvarez’s “The Death Of WCW” book (which, by the way, I would hugely recommend) and had heard all the stories about WCW. The narrative that WCW, a wrestling company powered by one of the richest men in the United States that crumbled as the “revolutionary” WWF Attitude Era rose to prominence. I don’t buy that narrative entirely.

Having re-watched some of the old recent WWF Attitude Era stuff recently (not covered in the Armbar Express yet), I can’t say there was a lot to praise from that era with the exceptions of like Austin vs McMahon as well as the rise of The Rock. WCW, in my opinion, were the ones that screwed WCW. I can’t go with the idea that the WWF were so great and WCW were so terrible. I don’t buy that. Obviously WCW did completely decline in their last few years but it’s not as if WWF was mind-blowingly good.

So then how is it that the WWE is still around, thriving and making hundreds of millions of dollars each year? How is that WCW are gone forever? What was it?

Well I decided to see if I can try and answer my own question. I’m not watching RAW IS WAR and Monday Night Nitro side-by-side but since I have never really watched WCW in a major capacity, I decided to watch every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. That’s right. 300+ episodes starting with an episode including Sting vs Ric Flair and ending with an episode…. including Sting vs Ric Flair.

Let’s get to it with EPISODE ONE….

 

WCW Nitro #1

Date: September 4th 1995

Brand: WCW

City: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rating: 2.5

Commentators: Eric Bischoff, Steve “Mongo” McMichael and Bobby Heenan

 

We started things off with Eric Bischoff and STEVE MCMICHAEL opening the show, welcoming us to WCW Nitro. Seeing Bischoff as a babyface is extremely rare for me, knowing what’s going to happen in about a year’s time in WCW. Steve McMichael was one of the most annoying and worst announcers I’ve ever had to listen to in my life. I have no idea how long this guy will be doing commentary but I’m praying it’s a short term deal before Tony Schiavone is on the scene.

Bobby Heenan interrupts. He sucks up to McMichael after supposedly making some kind of remark about him. Very hard to figure out what he was on about.

 

Jushin Thunder Liger vs ‘Flyin Brian

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I enjoy re-watcing old things and, for the majority of the time, I don’t really have an issue with watching old stuff with modern eyes. I did have an issue with this match. I know how this is a very historic and romanticised match but time has not been kind to this one. I’m sure at the time this blew people away and the fans were going crazy for the match. That being said, this was a very sloppy match!

The match was OK for about the first minute when Liger hit a moonsault which barely connected. He went for a big boot which… barely connected. They attempted a hurricanrana spot and it completely fell apart as they both fell down. The head-scissors by Brian the second time was a vast improvement. There was some ridiculous spot where Liger tried to dump Brian over the rope but Brian ended up going through the middle rope. The crowd broke out into a USA chant because of course they did.

Steve McMichael, I don’t know who he said it to, but he gave either Liger or Brian the following advice: “Give it to him the way he wants it.” At least it’s nice to know McMichael was actually into this match. When he wasn’t invested in the match he made fun of Bobby Heenan with every pun in the book including “Bobby The Stain.” Sick burn.

Liger almost killed Brian with the powerbomb. Liger hit a Frankenstiener on Brian and PLANTED HIMSELF. I shrieked. His head dropped to the floor as he sent Brian across the ring. I’ve concluded that this was way worse than the Bayley/Sasha Frankensteiner from NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. Oddly enough, Jushin Liger WRESTLED AT NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn a number of years ago. How he walked away fine after this is a mystery.

Brian rolled Liger up for the win and a HUGE POP. The crowd loved Flyin’ Brian in the first ever match of WCW Nitro. It wasn’t a terrible match but there was a lot of messy spots that could have ended way worse than it did.

 

They showed WCW US Champion Sting cutting a promo on Ric Flair basically vowing to beat Ric Flair on this episode of Nitro. Straight to the point, short and all you needed.

Then we cut to WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan… and PASTAMANIA was running wild! Now I’ve heard that Hogan did this back in the 90s… I had no idea it was like this. Hogan had a restaurant in Mall of America based in Minneapolis, which was where this particular show was based. First of, just the idea that this Nitro was based in a US Mall shopping centre. People were just doing their shopping and going down these massive escalators and watching these guys wrestle. WWE is not adventurous enough to try this in 2018 and that’s a shame.

So Bischoff interviewed Hogan with these little kids surrounding them, getting autographs with Hogan. Jimmy Hart was also there. Hogan cut this astonishing promo on PastaMania, saying PastaMania was running through his veins. He said that he was slimming trim with pasta! Yes, pasta! He said he was going to beat Big Bubba Rogers to retain the WCW title tonight. The PastaManiacs were going to help him win. Man, could you imagine WWE trying this with like “Roman Noodles” or something in 2018? PastaMania lasted less than a year, for those of you wondering.

 

Sting vs Ric Flair

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Before we actually get started, I have no idea if this match was for the WCW United States Championship or not. Pro Wrestling Wikia, who has details of almost ever show for like WWE, WCW, ECW etc., has this down as a US title match, which I though it was. However, The Internet Wrestling Database had this down as a non-title match. Either way, Sting vs Ric Flair is a match that will never get old. It never changes but it never needs to change. Ric Flair is the greatest seller in the history of pro wrestling. Sting going crazy is awesome and he’s one of the best babyfaces of all time.

Before we actually got the match, we had an invasion… LEX LUGER arrived in WCW. The fans were going nuts as Eric Bischoff played it up as if he was invading from the WWF. He said Luger wasn’t supposed to be there. Sting and Flair were confused and Luger was asked to leave, which he eventually did.

Luger debuting here was actually a pretty big deal at the time since, like the night before, he interfered in the main-event of WWF SummerSlam. There was no like internet or anything for the fans to know that Luger was coming. So when he showed up without warning, on Nitro, these fans didn’t know what to think. Are the WWF invading? Is he signed? What’s going on? Later on in the night, it was clearer as to what was going on.

Sting and Flair, after being confused for a solid minute or so, then started to fight. Sting Gorilla Pressed Flair OVER AND OVER AND OVER again. Sting ran wild. Flair turned things around with a poke to the eye. Flair and Sting somehow did the smoothest crossbody to the outside I’ve ever seen. Sting Gorilla Pressed Ric into the ring. Flair going to the top rope and then getting thrown off will never get old to me. ARN ANDERSON then came running down to the ring. It sounded as if Flair and Arn were doing a break-up angle. McMichael theorised that Arn had been down at PastaMania.

Sting made a comeback. Flair sold a clothesline on the apron as if he got shocked with a taser. Sting, like a completely doofus, distracted himself by talking to Arn when Flair did the chop block and put Sting in the Figure Four Leg Lock. This Figure Four  was awesome as Sting fought back, pumped up his chests and was ready to turn the hold around to put the pressure on Flair. Sting fought and fought but before he could turn it over, Flair got the ropes to break the hold.

So then Arn Anderson got in the ring and the bell rang. Having re-winded the show, it appears to me that Flair was DQ’d because he didn’t break on five after getting the ropes.  Arn broke up the Figure Four and he and Flair brawled to the back. Arn got in the ring to get his jacket and that was that. A very lame finish to an otherwise vintage Sting vs Ric Flair match.

 

Then almost immediately, SCOTT NORTON ran down to the ring. When I first was watching this, I had no idea who he was. Part of the problem was that they never mentioned on commentary who this guy was. He confronted Bischoff about a contract. Mongo stepped up to Scott. Randy Savage came down to say he’d fight him. Bischoff said no and then they cut to a Sabu hype promo.

This hype promo hurt my eyes but it couldn’t help but showcase that 90% of Sabu’s moves were just massive botches. This included a spot where Sabu did a moonsault onto a table which didn’t break. I assume this was all WCW Saturday Night footage or something.

Mean Gene Okerlund came down to congratulate the winner of the WCW Harley Davidson Sweepstakes they did. Congrats to Mike Hill from Alabama.

They plugged WCW Saturday Night with Sting and Randy Savage teaming up as well as WCW Fall Brawl.

They then showed ANOTHER video package. I was begging for a match. Michael Wallstreet, otherwise known as IRS, said that WCW is all about money and power. He said the “New Generation” was now the “Few Generation”. This was referencing WWF’s new change in creative direction. He said he was a real player and… Michael Wallstreet was here.

 

Hulk Hogan (c) vs Big Bubba Rogers for the WCW title

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This was every Hulk Hogan vs a big monster match you’ve ever seen. Very slow but when Hogan was attacking, the fans went crazy. PastaMania was running wild. They announced Randy Savage vs Scott Norton for next week. I’ve always thought in history that nobody threw worse punches in a match than Shane McMahon. Big Bubba, otherwise known as Big Boss Man in the WWF, threw some disgusting punches in the corner. This may not have been as bad as Shane but these were right up there. Heenan claimed Big Bubba knew martial arts which can’t have been true after watching these punches. God bless Big Bubba, who is actually not with us anymore, but these punches were that horrible.

Hogan was Irish whipped into a corner and responded with a big boot which missed Big Bubba by about 100 miles. All efforts to cover this up were fruitless including Bischoff claiming that “the heel” connected. In hindsight, that could quite possibly have been an impromptu inside joke attempt by Bischoff. Then again, I could just be overthinking this but it is WCW after all.

The referee grabbed Hogan by the hair as a means to pull him off of Big Bubba. Hogan pulled out the most heelish move in the match as he choked out Big Bubba with a jacket as Jimmy Hart ran distraction. I swear to all the gods, he did this and he’s the biggest babyface in the company. Then Hogan started stomping on his face…. how this man was a beloved babyface is mind-boggling when you see all these on-screen jerk-ass moments from Hogan.

Mongo’s jokes included “Bobby Hernia” among other lame lines. Big Bubba hit the uranage. Hogan made the comeback, hit the Leg Drop and got the pin. The crowd went batshit crazy for the guy after he won. PastaMania was truly running wild. Not particularly a tremendous in-ring match but I didn’t have high expectations going in for Hogan vs Big Bubba. The crowd loved it throughout which I guess makes all the difference so why not. This was a success for PastaMania.

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The geeks from Dungeon of Doom ran in to jump Hogan. Hogan fought them off when Luger came down to aid the Hulkster. Luger came down as Hogan was already beating on the Dungeon of Doom! The heels escaped. Hogan and Luger went face-to-face. Randy Savage and Sting came down to calm them down. Believe it or not, we got some “Luger” chants.

Mean Gene came down to interview them after they both somewhat calmed down. Hogan asked what Luger was doing here. I wish Luger actually went with what Mongo said earlier and explained that he was going to PastaMania. There was just a bunch of wrestlers in his path as he wanted to get an order in! XD

Luger actually said he was here for one thing and that was the WCW title. He confirmed that Hogan was the only world champion in wrestling right now. He said he was here to get it on with the big boys. Hogan said that he was going to be champion forever. Hogan asked Luger to shake his hand to have the match next week for the title. They shook hands. They pushed each other as Savage and Sting held them apart.

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Overall, I actually thought it was an OK show. I don’t know how long the hour-long episodes of WCW Nitro is going to last but I hope it’s like this for a whilte. I really think weekly wrestling shows need to be around an hour. If there’s one thing we can learn from wrestling’s past is that less is more. This was a very basic show to watch as it was not over the course of 3 hours and the structure for the majority of it was simple to follow.

Liger vs Flyin’ Brian didn’t really age well and was very sloppy at times but Sting vs Flair was everything it needed to be for me except the finish. Hogan vs Big Bubba got the crowd popping and the Hogan vs Luger main-event for next week was easily set up.

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That was that. Quick preview of episode #2: If the video packages are anything to go by, Michael Wallstreet and Sabu will both appear on WCW Nitro. We’ve got Randy Savage vs Scott Norton and of course, WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan vs newcomer Lex Luger for the WCW World title.

Thank you for reading and I’ll be back with Episode #2 of WCW Nitro as part of the Retro Express.

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Lucha Underground: Aztec Warfare II Review

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NOTE: The following was written several months ago, days after the episode took place. Therefore, no aspects of future storylines after Aztec Warfare II will be discussed.
Season One’s Aztec Warfare match was one of my favourite matches in the first season. It saw the best in the Temple battle it out to crown the first Lucha Underground champion. When the smoke cleared, Prince Puma won the title. In Season Two they brought it back, with Lucha Underground Champion Fenix being forced to defend his title as the number one entrant. Did Aztec Warfare II deliver just like the first one?
As Catrina had declared at the end of the last episode, Fenix was the #1 entrant. He was the first entrant in the first Aztec Warfare match so this was a little case of deja vu. It was also funny, because Lucha Underground had their champion defend the title in a multi-man match that was taped in December. Fast-forward to January and the WWE had Roman Reigns defend the WWE title in a Royal Rumble! Think about that for a moment.
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#2 was the debuting Rey Mysterio. Mysterio revealed that he was in the match the week before but these fans obviously had no idea as they went nuts for Rey. As soon as Melissa Santos said “From San Diego, California,” you could hear some rumblings as if the fans started to figure out where this was going. As soon as Melissa said “Rey,” there was an eruption in the Temple!
I have to say that Rey looked in great shape during the match. Rey was very active throughout the match and he did a tremendous job in lasting the entire match. I remember watching him in the 2013 Royal Rumble and he looked blown up after like a minute. I couldn’t help but notice when I watched that particular Rumble. This Rey Mysterio was nothing like that Rey Mysterio that was in WWE a few years ago. Rey looked great and it was probably helped by the fact that this was in a taped show. If Rey was blown up at times, then Lucha did a great job in editing it out!
Fenix was, by far, the biggest mark for Rey as he came out. He showed respect for Rey and encouraged him to go up to the turnbuckles for his entrance. We started off with a great exchange between the old veteran and the young lion. Great to see and Rey was able to keep up with the pace of Fenix. Number three was King Cuerno. Mysterio, Fenix and Cuerno threw down for a while.
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Argenis was #4, making his return to the Temple as Argenis. He was actually a part of the Disciples of Death. I don’t actually think that the Disciples of Death are done yet though. I’ve seen a teaser Instagram post from Lucha that promoted a trios rematch between Ivelisse, Son of Havoc and Angelico against the Disciples of Death. They might wrap up that trios team after the rematch and let Argenis do his own thing. Argenis was fine in this match but he was really there to be the first of Rey’s victims. He was the first man eliminated after eating a 619. Johnny Mundo came out as #5 and then they went to the adverts.
There was a clever spot where Fenix used Mundo’s foot to boot Mysterio. Joey Ryan was #6 and his plan was to handcuff himself on the rail to keep himself from being pinned. It was a clever spot but all I kept thinking about when I watched this was when Big Show pinned Essa Rios on the wall in a hardcore match! Thankfully, this was not a Falls Count Anywhere match so Ryan was safe… FOR NOW!
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Prince Puma was #7. He ran wild and hit everyone (except Joey Ryan) with a Springboard Shooting Star Press. That was an incredible spot. Jack Evans was #8. King Cuerno tapped out to Rey Mysterio’s cross armbreaker to be eliminated. The luchadors (Mysterio, Puma and Fenix) then teamed up to take out the “rudos” Mundo and Evans. Rudos is another term for heels in case anyone was wondering. Evans and Mundo got together and waited for #9 to come out, who was in fact Taya. Big pop for Taya when she came out. There was awesome spot with the luchadores and the rudos faced off in a six man tag confrontation. Cage was #10 and ran wild, as we went to the adverts.
Cage beat up all the rudos until Mundo threw him into Catrina’s office. If you’ll recall, he turned heel by throwing Alberto El Patron threw the same window. Mundo has a thing for pulling a Shawn Michaels on the luchadors! Mascarita Sagrada was #11. Cage quickly re-entered the fray and hit a big discuss clothesline on Mundo. He hit the Weapon X on the outside and Prince Puma hit the standing moonsault to eliminate Mundo. Marty the Moth was #12. He dominated the match for a while. Drago came in at #13.
Drago went after the “Dragon Slayer” Jack Evans. They brawled into the crowd and Drago spit mist into Joey Ryan’s eyes. Sagrada and Mysterio teamed up to eliminate Marty. The Mack was number 14 and he hit Marty with a stunner for good measure.
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Then there was an awesome moment in the ring, with Mack and Cage having a stare down. As they started trading punches, there was a shot of the ring with the entrance steps behind them. So as Cage and Mack are fighting, Jack Evans starts rolling down the steps and to the floor! It was one of the funniest aspects of this match but it was also one of my biggest criticisms of the match too. There was so much going on during the match that it was hard to keep up. As stuff was going on in the ring, Drago and Evans were doing big spots in the crowd. At least in the Royal Rumble match, they make it clear over who the spotlight was on and who they wanted the fans to focus on at one time. In Aztec Warfare, it just seemed like there was too much going on at once. It was all great but it was all clunked together it seems.
There was also another spot where Fenix threw Mascarita Sagrada into Joey Ryan, who was obviously not in a position to catch him! It was almost like Sagrada hit one of the bouncers on a pinball machine and bounced off him and onto the ground! Poor Sagrada!
Chavo Guerrero was #15. Sometime during all of this chaos, Drago hit a powerbomb on Evans onto with outside benches. Chavo eliminated Mascarita Sagrada with a camel clutch submission, getting him his redemption for losing to Hornswoggle every week on RAW in 2009. Cage was eliminated by Taya, after Mundo hit him with a cinder block. I’m totally expecting a cinder block match between Mundo and Cage, with the winner having to a break a cinder block over the head of the other. Maybe that’s a bad idea for a gimmick match but that’s where it looks like it’s going with all of these cinder block attacks. I don’t know whether that’d work but I’m willing to give it a chance!
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PJ Black came out as #16 and Fenix eliminated Taya with a German suplex. Black double-teamed Drago with his new buddy Jack Evans. He hit a suplex to Drago on the benches. That spot and the powerbomb spot from earlier did not look pretty. Not sure whether all of this was really necessary but the crowd was going nuts for this crowd-brawling. Aerostar was #17, which lead to a tag team battle with Aerostar and Drago battling Evans and Black. There was a double elimination with Aerostar beating Evans and Black beating Drago. Aerostar put Evans away with a top rope Canadian Destroyer-looking move which got a huge reaction.
Dragon Azteca Jr was #18. Here’s the issue with the way that the Lucha Underground shows are put together. We, at home, knew who Dragon Azteca Jr was. We got the big story with Dragon Azteca Jr and Rey Mysterio and by watching the television, it’s easy to understand his stake in Aztec Warfare. However, this crowd had no clue about who this guy was and he was met with little reaction! Vampiro did mention that he recognised the mask but it was not like anybody else in the crowd did. Dragon Azteca Jr did turn the fans around with a few high spots including an awesome dive over the ring post and onto the outside.
Texano Jr was #19. He was running wild and he eliminated PJ Black. Mil Muertes was #20, as declared by Catrina in the last episode. Pentagon Jr, who was not given an invitation to compete, took out Mil with a chair. This got an incredible reaction from the Temple. He threw him back into the ring and Mil was pinned by Rey and Puma. Catrina was angry at Vampiro and slapped him. As this confrontation was going on, the timer was counting down. Then came out Dario Cueto….
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I was beaming with joy when I saw Dario come out! Dario may have possibly gotten the biggest reaction of the night! He declared that he was back in charge and that there was going to be a 21st entrant into Aztec Warfare. He revealed the entrant to be his brother… Matanza!
I like Catrina a lot but seeing Dario back in charge put the biggest smile on my face. Nobody can out-do Dario Cueto as being an authority figure in Lucha Underground.
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Matanza did the big roar spot as he came out, pushing away everybody that was left. I loved what came next. He immediately targeted the champion Fenix, hit a German suplex and pinned him. The fans were all stunned as the champion was the FIRST man to face the wrath of Matanza. It made you realise that this Matanza fellow was not someone to mess with!
The Mack took on Matanza but saw his Stunner on Matanza no-sold. Matanza eliminated Mack and Aerostar to boos from the Temple.
Texano tried to choke out Matanza with a bull rope but he was taken out with a sit-out powerbomb. Matanza then targeted Joey Ryan, who was still handcuffed on the railing. Matanza broke the steel to set Ryan free. He killed Ryan with three rolling gut-wrench suplexes and pinned him. I was impressed at how Matanza was able to pull this off as it would be a very difficult sequence to pull off.
Chavo tried to form an alliance with Puma, Rey and Dragon Azetca but then quickly turned on them all. Matanza and Dragon Azteca battled but Matanza quickly disposed of him. Chavo then tried to form an alliance with Dario Cueto but Dario told Matanza to kill Chavo. Matana eliminated Chavo and Puma until it was down to Matanza and Mysterio.
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They had a great little final two and Rey had done really well to make it this far and looked fine at this stage. Rey hit the 619 but then Matanza caught him with a running powerslam and pinned him to win Aztec Warfare.

Dario then handed the Lucha Underground title to Matanza. It’s almost like Matanza had no clear what to do with this belt until Dario told him to raise it! It would have been awesome if Matanza had tried to eat that belt or something!

I have to say that Lucha Underground knocked it out of the park with this Aztec Warfare match. Rey Mysterio’s debut was well executed. There was rarely a dull moment as there was a lot of action. There were a number of instances where there seemed to be too much action going on at one time, preventing the fans from properly keeping up with everything. Dario Cueto’s return was awesome and Matanza came out of this looking like such a star. He destroyed everyone like few monsters had dominated before. Rarely has a monster been booked as convincingly as this. Brock Lesnar was booked dominantly but it’s not like he eliminated everyone else that was left in this year’s Royal Rumble for example. Matanza eliminated the champion right off the bat and everybody else had no hope in hell of beating him.

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I’ll end this with two things. I do agree with Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez with the sentiment that “Matanza” maybe should have been a much bigger fellow. It was built up on television that Dario Cueto’s brother was a lot taller as Dario would be shown to be looking up at this monster. Maybe they were planning on having someone bigger but they changed their mind. I’m really sure what their mindset was but I was expecting someone much bigger.
With that said, Matanza was great at being Matanza. He decimated everyone. I was just in awe about this entire ending with Matanza running rough-shot on everyone left in that match. He threw everyone around like it was nothing to him. Nearly everyone was hit with one move and beaten. This dude was able to pull off standing moonsaults among other incredible feats. This guy was something else.
HUGE THUMBS UP FOR LUCHA UNDERGROUND!

2016 Royal Rumble Match Review

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How’s it going everybody? Hope you all are having a great day.

In this post, I will be reviewing last week’s Royal Rumble match. I’m not going to review the entire pay-per-view, even though it was all actually really good. The Last Man Standing match was really good. Alberto Del Rio vs Kalisto was good. The Tag Team title match had a really good finish, with Big E catching one of the Usos with the Big Ending. Charlotte and Becky Lynch was good but was mostly ruined by the finish. I also hated how Becky Lynch really got buried at the end of it, despite having built up this program for the last few months. After Sasha Banks came out to confront Charlotte, Becky was literally just thrown to one side.

However, the biggest aspect of the pay-per-view is the Royal Rumble match. If the Rumble didn’t perform, it doesn’t really matter how great those matches were. It didn’t matter that Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar and John Cena had one of the best matches of the year, at last year’s Royal Rumble event. Every other aspect of the pay-per-view disappointed, including the Rumble. The pressure was on in 2016 and WWE really had to deliver.

Without further ado, let’s get to it….

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Roman Reigns was obviously the number one entrant. He got thunderous boos as soon as he entered the match. This crowd did not want Roman to go the distance and it was a hard night for Roman, in terms of getting a good reaction from the crowd. Rusev was number two, meaning that the final two of last year’s Rumble would start off the 2016 Royal Rumble. Sadly, it wasn’t until Rusev’s entrance was about to finish when one of the commentators actually mentioned this fact to the viewer.

I’ll actually talk about the commentators slightly. I’m usually very down on Byron Saxton as a commentator on RAW. I never really believed he added a lot to the commentary and he was really not impressive on that show. However, Byron was the MVP of the Rumble in terms of announcing. He certainly was a lot better than Michael Cole and JBL was. Michael Cole was slipping up a number of times during the show, with Byron Saxton being the one to correct him or pick up some things that Cole forgot to mention. Things like the Roman/Rusev fact should be things that Cole should be going on about as soon as Rusev’s music hits. It’s a sense of continuity, which the WWE was really trying to keep up during the Rumble. The fact that Byron Saxton had to be the one to cover for Cole in that department is pretty sad, as Cole is the journalist that should know these facts. It should be Cole, who’s the play-by-play commentator.

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So Roman and Rusev brawled for about a minute. Rusev was eliminated right away by Roman, which would suggest that Rusev is still not in good favour with WWE at the moment! Then again, he was the one that laid out Roman Reigns later, which we’ll get onto. There were reports by Dave Meltzer and even Konnan that Lana had caused a scene in an airport, where she was yelling at Rusev in front of some people. Lana apparently got a lot of heat backstage for obvious reasons, but apparently Rusev got heat too for not defending himself. It seems odd to punish Rusev for something that Lana supposedly did, but both Rusev and Lana have been getting heat for a while since their engagement was reported by TMZ. Taking away the heat and taking into account how badly Rusev’s been booked in comparison to the rest of the League of Nations (minus Wade Barrett, who’s been on and off television), it still would make sense that Rusev would be the worst booked out of the stable in this match. Sucks to be Rusev at the moment in WWE.

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However, it doesn’t suck if you’re a fan of AJ Styles. Number three was AJ, who came to a thunderous pop. I actually don’t think there’s ever been a surprise entrant pop that was as great as this one. The place went nuts for AJ. Obviously, there is AJ’s connections with Orlando and TNA to take into account. However, AJ was just the most over man of the night. Even after AJ got eliminated, people were still going crazy and chanting his name. The entrance music was really cool and is now available on iTunes. I immediately got the song as soon as it was released! It just fit AJ’s look and style.

Bryan Alvarez actually mentioned on the Bryan and Vinny show that a lot of the WWE production crew were snowed in that Sunday, and couldn’t attend the Royal Rumble event. That would make a lot of sense, as the production crew were having a nightmare with this show! When AJ was coming out, they decided that filming AJ’s titantron was not important. It was more important to get a huge close-up of Roman Reigns. This would be fine, if it were not for the titantron saying the words “I am Phenomenal.”

A major part of AJ’s WWE debut was missed by the WWE production crew! It was not the only thing they missed tonight, which we’ll get to later. AJ seemed to fit right in during this match. His style is obviously a lot more quicker than everybody in that match (except Neville maybe) but he looked fine. They did a good job to build up AJ as he lasted a long time and eliminated a number of wrestlers. They could have done a great job in building him up, as obviously AJ could have lasted longer. However, I thought the time they gave him was just fine for AJ to get a feel of how the WWE worked. It’s still wrestling but a WWE environment is like no other. This was a good taster session of AJ.

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Tyler Breeze came out at number four but was eliminated by AJ and Roman after a minute. Tyler did actually look good in the minute that he was in the match. Apparently there’s heat on him backstage too, which would explain the early elimination. However, it would have probably been cool to see him last a little bit longer.

Curtis Axel was the number five entrant. I actually had an idea for Curtis Axel before I started watching this Royal Rumble. You know how Kofi Kingston’s Royal Rumble survival spot has become an annual Royal Rumble thing? Everyone goes into the Rumble thinking “What’s Kofi going to do this year?” and it becomes like the Undertaker’s streak. I thought about Curtis Axel not getting eliminated last year and getting really over because of it. It got me thinking. Why not do an annual spot where Curtis Axel is eliminated but never ACTUALLY eliminated from the Royal Rumble match?

Think about it. Erick Rowan attacked him last year. This year, the Social Outcasts could have dragged Curtis out from under the bottom rope and he would never be seen again in the match. Next year, it could have been Curtis being pulled under the bottom rope and attacked. One year, he would flee and then come back out again! WWE trying to come up with way fors Curtis to lose but avoid actually being eliminated would actually be entertaining. Also, Curtis would never lose any of these matches! You’re actually elevating him as a character as he becomes the guy that never gets eliminated. I would have loved it if they did this…

Sadly, he was eliminated by AJ Styles. I love AJ, but this made me mad. Axelmania is well and truly dead…

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Moving on. Number six was Chris Jericho. I was doubtful that Jericho was going to be in there for long. To me, Jericho didn’t really look to be in that great of shape to be able to pull it off. I don’t want to call out Jericho for being fat or anything, but you’d expect someone like AJ or another rising star to also be putting in a very long shift in the Rumble. I was surprised that he was in there for as long as he was, which was about 50 minutes. It got me wondering because why would they push Jericho that strongly in the Rumble? Was this just something Jericho wanted or is there a big match in place for him at Wrestlemania? I’ll guess we’ll see.

Number seven was Kane. Looking back in hindsight, it’s amazing to think that Kane was in a WWE World Heavyweight Championship feud in October 2015. He was main-eventing RAWs and now he’s just another guy in the Rumble. He eliminated R-Truth later but he wasn’t really there as a dominant figure or anything. Goldust was number eight and ran wild. It’s amazing to see how well Goldust can go in the ring at the age of 46. He didn’t do a lot in the Rumble but he really did hold is own in a match filled with so much talent.

Number nine was Ryback, who was heavily booed. Ryback came in to deliver running knees in the corner to everyone. Everyone noted that CM Punk did the exact same thing as a signature move. However, Ryback looked so much wilder and cooler when he was doing it! It’s kind of like when Brock Lesnar would do high jumping attacks at people during the match. His size adds to the move as it actually makes Ryback look like a guy that will do crazy moves to win matches, including hurling himself at guys in the corner.

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Number ten was Kofi Kingston. His spot this year was when he was knocked to the outside and Big E caught him on his shoulders. Big E galloped around the ring and then Kofi decided to grab a drink of coke while he was on Big E’s shoulders! It was very creative and it was really a move that put over Big E in a weird way. It’s Kofi’s spot but Big E was the one doing the heavy lifting.

I mentioned the WWE production crew earlier missing big moments in the match. They missed another big one with Kofi’s elimination. It didn’t help that the elimination happened while the League of Nations attacked the WWE Champion. However for a few minutes, all the cameras did was focus on the League of Nations attacking Roman Reigns. They made brief shots to Luke Harper and Stardust coming into the match, but no footage of the match itself was actually shown during this period. Stardust and Titus O’Neil fighting during the match is something you’d believe would have some value to WWE storylines as they’ve been feuding. Instead, it was more important to see the Leauge of Nations slowly beat up Roman Reigns. It also didn’t help matters when all the commentators could talk about was Roman Reigns as well! I understand that he was the WWE Champion but the match itself is very important!

Titus O’Neil was number eleven and eliminated Goldust. I was kind of annoyed that the commentators couldn’t help but talk about all the charity work that Titus was doing. That’s all well and good but what does that have to do with Titus entering the Royal Rumble match? He’s entering a competitive environment and it’s not good for Titus when he is being portrayed as the charity man of WWE. It’s almost as if that’s becoming his new gimmick which doesn’t help Titus. Titus is a big strong guy but it’s portrayed as if charity is much more important to Titus than wrestling. That’s a huge problem for him.

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R-Truth came out at number twelve. R-Truth had a very funny spot where he got a ladder from underneath the ring, which just happened to be there. R-Truth set up the ladder, climbed it and went to grab a WWE Championship which wasn’t there. This gimmick where R-Truth is constantly getting confused is pretty darn awesome. If there’s anyone on the main roster that could pull this off, it would be R-Truth! Kane pulled R-Truth off the ladder, threw him out, took down the ladder and threw it to the outside. This monster eliminated R-Truth in the safest way possible and managed to miss R-Truth when throwing out the ladder. That made me laugh more than anything from this segment. The amount of care Kane took to eliminate R-Truth despite being a monster!

Stardust and Luke Harper both came out as mentioned earlier. Also, as mentioned earlier, the League of Nations came out to beat up Roman Reigns. Mr McMahon’s plan was for the League of Nations to pull Roman UNDER the bottom rope, beat him up and then put him through the announce table. This would hurt Roman so much that he wouldn’t be able to continue the match.

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Here’s the thing. Mr McMahon did not want Roman Reigns to win the WWE World title. If that was the case, why didn’t he just have the League of Nations throw Roman OVER the top rope? Mr McMahon is well aware that this match is no disqualification (as he created the match) so why didn’t he just take advantage of the rules and have them dump out Roman? McMahon also knows from experience that wrestlers that are beaten up in the Royal Rumble match can come back out later when they are fresher. Why’s that? Because in the 1999 Royal Rumble match (which Mr McMahon won), he tried the exact same plan with Stone Cold Steve Austin. What happened? Austin came back out and ALMOST thwarted his plans!

As this was going on, Jericho eliminated Kofi when he dropkicked him off Big E’s shoulders. That was another spot that the production crew missed. Number fifteen was the Big Show, who was booed quite a bit. Big Show eliminated Titus and Ryback. Last year, I complained that Big Show was eliminating all the younger talent. In this match, he did it again! To be fair, this was actually rectified when a younger man actually eliminated Big Show from the Rumble. However, it’s just funny how Ryback and Titus were both just quickly eliminated. Especially Ryback, who had been kicking Big Show’s arse throughout the summer of last year!

Number sixteen was Neville. He didn’t really do a lot but it was very hard to considering all the guys he was in there with at the time. Braun Strowman was number seventeen. WWE were really trying so hard to put Braun over during this Rumble with the Wyatt Family. They were mostly just trying to get over Braun, but the group actually eliminated a lot of men in this Rumble match. Braun eliminated Kane and Big Show which I was OK with as the younger man actually eliminated the old veterans. This was fine as this would put Braun over as the new top giant in the company. I was OK with this.

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Number eighteen was Kevin Owens, who was wobbling down to the ring after being in the Last Man Standing match earlier. He came in and eliminated AJ Styles. This caused huge uproar from the crowd! To be fair, it would have been much worse if someone like Braun Strowman eliminated AJ. At least Kevin Owens is someone the fans respect enough to accept as being the one to eliminated AJ.

There’s reports that AJ is actually expected to work a program with Kevin Owens, with this being the reason why Kevin eliminated AJ. I think this would be a good program but check out my own idea for what to do with AJ going into Wrestlemania at this link. I have a different idea for AJ which actually relates to the next entrant…

Dean Ambrose was number nineteen. He targeted Kevin right away. He was selling a lot less than Kevin Owens was. Number twenty was Sami Zayn, which got a big reaction. I guess Sami did make a lot of sense as the NXT star to go into the Royal Rumble. He’s someone that the main roster audience are familiar with (as he’s been on RAW before) and it actually tied into the angle they did on a house show, where Sami attacked Kevin. Sami eliminated Kevin, which was his payback for Kevin taking him out in May 2015. Erick Rowan was number 21. This was the moment where the Wyatt Family just took over. They dumped out Neville, Sami Zayn and Stardust. Neville actually took a really hard bump on the apron, when Luke Harper clotheslined him out of the match. It was similar to the Snitsky/Paul London spot from the 2005 Royal Rumble and there were reports that Vince was very upset with London for taking that bump. Whether Neville will get heat remains to be seen. He was in the United States Championship match against Kalisto on SmackDown!, so I guess nothing was fought of it.

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Mark Henry was number 22 and he eliminated right away by the Wyatt Family. Number 23 was Brock Lesnar, who DOMINATED the match. He suplexed everyone in the ring except Braun Strowman I think. He eliminated the 24th entrant Jack Swagger. For the record, the combined time in the match for Swagger and Henry was 45 seconds. These were also the men that won the kick-off show match to earn a spot in the Rumble. If you’re going to do a match like this, you should at least try to make it seem that the qualifying match was important. I believe these two were the only men in the match that had to win a qualifying match to get into the Rumble. At least give them some credit by having them last at least a few minutes each. Why did they get eliminated right way?

Brock was dominating as mentioned earlier. He eliminated Rowan from the Wyatt Family first. There was a spot with Brock and Braun where Brock clotheslined Braun, but Braun didn’t go down. The whole gimmick on television is for Braun to never get knocked down so I guess Braun just tried to keep that gimmick up. Apparently, nobody told Brock Lesnar! After Braun didn’t go down for the first clothesline, Brock clobbered Braun with a second one and Braun went crashing down to the mat. Brock battered this poor guy.

Maybe this was actually the plan and WWE’s idea was for Braun to take a big beating from Lesnar in order to help him sell moves in the future. Braun’s selling is not that great and he’ll eventually lose his invincibility when he loses clean for the first time. When that happens, Braun’s got to know how to sell. The idea is that if you actually get beat up in the ring, that’ll help you understand how a certain spot should be sold. For example, some wrestlers are legitimately kicked in the gut or punched during their early days of wrestling school to get a feel of how to sell it. This might have been why Brock gave Braun such a beating… or Brock just did what he wanted anyway and just beat up Braun!

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Number 25 was the Miz, who simply went over to the announce table and did commentary. Miz’s plan was to wait for the right moment so he could go in and eliminate someone. Number 26 was Alberto Del Rio, who didn’t really accomplish much. It was kind of odd that Kalisto was not involved in the Royal Rumble match yet the loser of the earlier US Championship match was! There was actually reports that Del Rio injured his back during the Royal Rumble event, which means that more wrestlers are on WWE’s injury list. The thing that bothers me is that WWE have all of these wrestlers injured and yet they still continue to double book wrestlers during television shows, further increasing the risk of injuries. Alberto Del Rio was never going to win the Royal Rumble so wouldn’t it have made sense to put someone in there that HADN’T competed earlier on in the night?

Brock eliminated Braun and Luke Harper when Bray Wyatt came out at number 27. On SLTD Wrestling, I predicted that Brock would be eliminated by the man that would face him at Wrestlemania. It was clear that his Wrestlemania was set up by his elimination but the thing is, Bray didn’t even eliminate Lesnar! What happened was that Bray set the Wyatt Family on Brock but Brock fought them off. Bray took advantage and hit Sister Abigail. He then told the Wyatt Family members to eliminate Lesnar for him! How on earth could anyone take Wyatt seriously when he wasn’t even the one that eliminated Brock? He was just stood there directing traffic. Unless the Wyatt Family ends up being a big part of the build for Bray vs Brock, I don’t see why Bray couldn’t have just thrown Lesnar out himself.

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I actually want to quickly talk about Braun Strowman again. Braun ended being eliminated by Brock during the Royal Rumble. As mentioned earlier though, Brock had BATTERED Braun during the match. The idea that Braun is supposed to go from being decimated by Brock to fighting THE UNDERTAKER at Wrestlemania (as reported by some wrestling websites) is just laughable. This’ll be an easy match for Undertaker to wrestle but how could Braun seem like a legitimate threat to Undertaker after this performance?

Dolph Ziggler came out at number 28. This was a horrible night in the Royal Rumble for Dolph Ziggler. There were three moments during this matches where Ziggler was buried to an incredible degree. The first one was when The Miz’s plan was finally put into motion. As Ziggler came in, Miz took advantage and successfully hit Ziggler with the Skull Crushing Finale. Usually, the heel’s sneaky attack should backfire on him as it would be what he’d get for breaking the rules. Not here! Miz got away with his crime and was successful in taking out Dolph Ziggler!

Number 29 was Sheamus. This was where Roman Reigns came back out to clear house. He eliminated Miz and Del Rio. He ran wild for a bit until number thirty came out. Number thirty was revealed to be Triple H.

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Against my better judgement, I convinced myself that WWE weren’t planning to have Triple H to come out as the 30th entrant in the Royal Rumble match. I told myself that the WWE couldn’t possibly be going with this, as it would have been WAY too obvious. In the end, that’s what they did. The funny thing about it is the fact that the Orlando crowd didn’t seem to care.

They were ecstatic to see Triple H. A big part of that was to do with it meaning that Roman Reigns was probably not going to win. Another part though was the fact that NXT is based in Orlando. Of course, NXT is Triple H’s big project. Therefore, it made so much sense that Triple H would be cheered as heavily as he was. It was an ingenious way for WWE to put Triple H over! Even though the storyline didn’t make sense and that we’d see Triple H win the title at 46 years old, this crowd didn’t care.

Triple H and Roman Reigns did this huge stare down. Remember, Roman Reigns beat up Triple H at TLC. This was another good use of continuity by the writers. It did annoy me that Byron was the only that considered the possibility of a conspiracy by the Authority, which is a huge plot-point to overlook. It was not like the commentators were in disgust over the Authority’s abuse of power. Michael Cole and JBL were just hyping up this big return from Triple H. I understand that the commentators were excited for Triple H coming out but think about the storyline just a little.

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This was the second time during the Rumble match where Ziggler was buried. Triple H and Roman did this face-off and during the face-off, Ziggler tried to jump Triple H. Triple H just simply pedigreed Ziggler and continued to stare down Roman! This was the funniest moment of the entire match! I felt bad for Ziggler but I just laughed so hard at how Triple H laid out Ziggler with such ease and just continued to do this intense showdown with Roman.

The third and final moment where Ziggler was buried was when he was trying to eliminate Triple H. Ziggler hit the super kick, which has started to become a finisher for Ziggler. This was also the same super kick that won Triple H’s best friend Shawn Michaels so many big matches. Ziggler hit the super kick and Triple H wobbled on the apron. Ziggler tried again and Triple H just threw Ziggler out of the match. Triple H no-sold Ziggler’s finisher and just threw him over the top rope! The announcers were talking about all the great last man standing matches in the Royal Rumble earlier on in the show. Keep in mind that the first last man standing match was between Triple H and Shawn Michaels in 2004, and the finish to that match was Shawn Michaels super-kicking Hunter which lead to neither man answering the count of ten. However, Triple H just flat out no-sold this super kick from Ziggler!

There was a moment with Triple H and Bray Wyatt, where it seemed like an alliance would be formed. Wyatt instead just attacked Triple H. This would prove to be Wyatt’s undoing as HE was eventually eliminated by an alliance between Triple H and Sheamus. Dean Ambrose eliminated Chris Jericho in ANOTHER strange use of continuity. At Night Of Champions, there was a moment where Jericho and Dean had an argument following their six man tag team match. Jericho nudged Dean out of the way and this was Dean’s revenge.

 

The final four was Sheamus, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Triple H. Roman Reigns eliminated Sheamus but was then eliminated by Triple H to a HUGE reaction. This lead to a final two between Triple H and Dean Ambrose. It was a good call to have Dean Ambrose in the final two instead of Roman. If Roman was eliminated last by Triple H, the fans would have ended the night by emphatically cheering the heel authority figure. With this finish, they can still have the heel heat on Triple H as he was going up against Dean Ambrose. That night, everyone really wanted Dean to win. This got Dean over as a top babyface and Triple H was booed at the end. It got the right reaction, although there were cheers for Triple H at the end of the night too.

There was one report from Inquisitr that suggested that the WWE changed their mind on the finish in the middle of the match. The winner had already been decided but it’s suggested that Roman Reigns was attacked by the League of Nations so Vince, Roman and the rest of the powers-that-be would discuss a new finish to the match. I don’t believe that they would change the finish off the match DURING the match itself. It seems like a bit of a stretch. I thought Roman being taken out earlier on in the match was just to rest him for the finish. I don’t think it was because WWE changed their minds.

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Triple H eliminated Dean to win the Royal Rumble and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In the weeks leading up to this event, I was hugely against Triple H winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Coming out of the event, I still believe it was the wrong decision.

Let me just ask you guys a few questions:

  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the better worker?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the bigger star in mainstream media?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who is the bigger draw in terms of pay-per-view buys?
  • Out of Brock Lesnar and Triple H, who has been the most over act in the last twelve months?

The answer to all of these answers is Brock Lesnar. So why was Triple H chosen to win the Royal Rumble over Brock Lesnar? Vince McMahon.

This is NOT an accusation of nepotism. However, Vince has it in his head that they needed to put Roman over by having him beat Triple H at Wrestlemania. That’s fine. I don’t mind the “passing of the torch” booking EXCEPT when the WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line.

When Hulk Hogan lost the WWF Championship to the Ultimate Warrior, Hogan was on top of the world. When he lost the belt to Warrior, Warrior came off looking as the new legitimate top star of the company because he had beaten the very best.

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When Roman Reigns inevitably wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H, he’ll have beaten a 46 year old Authority figure to do it. There might have been plans for Roman Reigns to beat John Cena at Wrestlemania but there’s a huge difference between John Cena and Triple H. John Cena has been on top of the WWE for a decade as an active wrestler. Triple H had not been champion since 2009 until right now. He is NOT in the prime of his life as a wrestler. So even when he’s NOT in the prime of his life, he’s still winning Rumbles in 2016. That’s the bottom line. How bad does that make everyone else on the roster look?

I laughed about Triple H defeating Dolph Ziggler so easily earlier. The main reason why I laughed is because Triple H should not be defeating Dolph Ziggler so easily. He eliminated Ziggler, Wyatt, Reigns and Ambrose who are among WWE’s elite stars in 2016. Again, these guys all looked so insignificant compared to Triple H.

HOWEVER, despite what I thought about the finish… the show was great. WWE had a plan and they stuck with it. I admire them for that, despite the leaks of what was going to happen. They stuck to their guns and the crowd loved it in the end. That alone should tell you just how good a Rumble this was. WWE gave it their all with this event as a whole. This match was just put together so well that it did feel like a very special Rumble. This was not the greatest Rumble of all time but this was a pretty great Rumble as a whole. WWE really did give the fans a great show and they should be proud of the show they put on.

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 – UPDATE #1

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here once again to bring you our very first TNA EWR update, where we basically tell you were things are going in our Extreme Warfare Revenge universe and what to expect in the future.

As you will have noticed, the TNA series has returned and in full force. We returned with Bound For Glory and we’ve seen a number of posts since. We did BFG, an Impact special “Joker’s Wild”, Turning Point and Final Resolution. That’s a lot to take in so what we’re going to do is drop the links to all the parts down below…

Part 1 – Destination X

Part 2 – Lockdown

Part 3 – Sacrifice

Part 4 – Slammiversary

Part 5 – Victory Road

Part 6 – Hard Justice

Part 7 – No Surrender

Part 8 – Bound For Glory

Part 9 – Joker’s Wild Special

Part 10 – Turning Point

Part 11 – Final Resolution

Any posts you’ve missed or if you just want to go back and get yourself clued up on what’s happened in this series, there are all the links you need.

For those of you that are new to the series, TNA has changed quite a bit. Allow me to give you a bit more detail on the current storylines I’ve got running as we’ve wrapped up 2010 and are now going into 2011!

 

Plot

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AJ Styles was TNA World Heavyweight Champion at the start of the series and he went through a lot of competition including the likes of Kurt Angle. He did drop the belt to Jeff Hardy but quickly won it back. After retaining at Bound For Glory, he was met with a new challenger… AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

That joke will never get old in my mind!

Seriously, Cena did win the TNA World title from Styles and goes into 2011 strong as our top guy.

Currently running the ship is Interim General Manager Kurt Angle. Hulk Hogan had been running things since the start of the game (as well as Bischoff until Bischoff retired in the game). However, Hogan was mysteriously taken out leaving Kurt Angle to be named as the head honcho of TNA for now. The heel Sting had questioned Hogan’s intentions in the past but what will the Stinger make of Kurt Angle being in charge? What impact will Sting and Angle have on TNA in 2011?

There’s been plenty of stables on the scene as well including the likes of Reckless Ambition headed by L.A. Par-K and the British Invasion. A new stable has just emerged called “Global Supremacy” (led by Desmond Wolfe) but the most prominent group has been Extreme Coalition. Raven and Rhino have been tearing up the TNA Tag Team division as champions but will there be more additions to the group?

There’s been a number of new signings over the year. Along with John Cena has been Rey Mysterio that’s been able to mix it up with the bright X-Division stars like Jay Lethal, Christopher Daniels and the Motor City Machine Guns.

There’s also a number of developmental stars waiting for their chance to shine and also stars like El Generico, Kevin Steen and Claudio Castagnoli hoping to break out as top talents in the company.

It’s an exciting future for this game and we’ve just actually become the top promotion in the company in terms of public image (which determines where the company’s are in terms of size). We’re still behind the WWE in PPV buys though so that’ll be something we’re hoping to surpass them in.

 

Schedule

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Our last post was Final Resolution and we’ve actually done two PPVs since then which just need writing up. Both Genesis and Against All Odds have been done and graded by the game and we’re hoping to have Genesis up on the blog soon. I’m hoping to have at least one new post up by next Friday so stay tuned for that.

For the time being, I’m going to stick with just doing the TNA series. The WCW series is obviously the more developed one that has really helped the blog out but I’ve noticed that the TNA series has actually been effective in its own right. We decided that we might as well give it the chance to shine. Also, I wanted to have a break from the WCW series and it’s good to try something else! Don’t worry though WCW fans. We will be coming back to it… eventually!

 

Knockouts Division

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I know the Knockouts division hasn’t really been a big deal in the series but we do have a bit of announcement regarding its status. Our champion ODB recently jumped ship to the WWE meaning that the title has been vacated. We had a look at the roster and judging by how much we’ve not used a lot of the women, we’ve put the division on halt for a bit. The title has been suspended and we’re probably not going to crown a new champion until later on in the year when a few of the developmental female stars join the main roster. Trust me, we’ll come back stronger than ever with the TNA knockouts!

However, we do have a number of other signings that have joined us in recent months. The likes of Konnan and Primo Colon have joined the Reckless Ambition stable and the Hart Dynasty has also joined us. I mentioned DH Smith was signed to the company at Final Resolution but Tyson Kidd has also came on board. I’m hoping to do a lot with them.

There’s been a few signings but other than Cena and Mysterio, no major ones that will be a big part of the PPVs. I’ve signed independent stars like Joey Ryan but he’s not really been over enough to be featured on the main shows. Also, AAA snapped up Ryan on a written contract from under my nose just recently! -.-

I can reveal though that TWO new big signings will be revealed soon so stay tuned for that. I’ll actually give you two clues for each of the new signings.

  1. The first new signing has been a huge star in Mexico and has actually had a rare five star rated match from Dave Meltzer at Wrestling Observer.
  2. The second signing is former multi-time world champion for WWE AND has appeared in the last ten Wrestlemania events.

So there you go. There are your clues. They’ll both be revealed in due time.

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That’ll wrap things up for this update. Again, be sure to follow @ArmbarExpress on Twitter for news on when Genesis and Against All Odds are up!

 

 

 

EXTREME WARFARE REVENGE: TNA 2010 PART 8 – BOUND FOR GLORY

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Many great promotions have came and went. Promotions that have been innovative with their products. Promotions that put on the matches that we didn’t think was possible. Promotions that have helped mould professional wrestling into what it is today. In the midst of all these promotions lay a company formed in Nashville, Tennessee by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett.

This promotion had the talent but lacked the funds to really take themselves to the next level. In stepped Dixie Carter, who became the company’s president. Dixie had her own ideas on how to truly take this promotion to the next level and she thought that there was only one person that could have helped. That person was Hulk Hogan.

In 2010, a completely new-look promotion emerged. Talents from old promotions started to take the places of the stars that had built the promotion from the ground up. However, these stars couldn’t help TNA to that next level. If anything, they helped it sink further into oblivion.

That does ask the question, what could have been changed that year to help TNA for the better? This year, I decided to try may hand at booking this company with a booking simulator called Extreme Warfare Revenge.

Now though, this particular series is back. Having taken a back seat to other series’ on this blog included the WCW EWR series, TNA is now going to step back into the spotlight. Welcome to TNA EWR!

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Previously on TNA EWR…

AJ Styles was our reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion with Christopher Daniels stepping up to take down his friend. Daniels is being given one last chance in the main event of Bound For Glory. Can the Fallen Angel rise to stardom at TNA’s biggest show of the year? Sting and Jeff Hardy will finally settle their score in a Last Man Standing match as part of a major show for the return of TNA EWR.

Let’s get to it!

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Pre-Show – TAKA Michinoku (c) wins a 10 man X-Division battle royal to retain the TNA X-Division Championship

Entrants: Taka Michinoku, El Generico, Tyler Black, Austin Aries, Sean Waltman, Kaz, Homicide, Brian Kendrick,
Ultimo Dragon and Stevie Richards

I really wasn’t sure what to do with the pre-show so I just shot in the most over X-Division stars into a battle royal for the X-Division title and TAKA ended up going over. TAKA’s the most over man in this match so he should still be champion. I was expecting a higher grade but it is a battle royal, which struggles to do good ratings on this game.

Match 1 – “Motor City Machine Guns” Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley def. Jerry Lynn and Brother Devon in a tables match

Very thrilled with the 93% rating for this feud-ending match. I’m surprised with all of the clashing styles that this feud succeeded as well as it did. Devon and Lynn are able to work well with the fast-paced Sabin and Shelley which is a positive. If a lot of these old stars that we’ve still got are working well with the younglings and are helping to get them over, then they’ve got a lot of value. The WCW old stars are the same in the WCW series. For TNA it seems to work well.

Match 2 – Matt Morgan def. Samoa Joe

Think about this for a minute. Matt Morgan vs Samoa Joe got a 88% rating! That’s pretty darn incredible considering one of the men in this match is Matt Morgan. Actually, I probably shouldn’t be surprised. Morgan has actually gotten really over since I started pushing him, which was the main reason for why he won again at Bound For Glory. It just goes to show you guys, you don’t have to be a great worker to get good ratings!

Match 3 – “Deadly Sin” Raven (c) and Rhino (c) def. Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal to retain the TNA World Tag Team Championship

To be perfectly honest, there wasn’t really a strong possibility of Lethal and Jarrett ever winning the belts. The whole thing about this feud was really to keep pushing Jay Lethal in that tag team scenario with Jeff and the Deadly Sin. It worked great as it scored a 93% rating but it just wouldn’t have worked for Lethal. As a match, it did score high and nobody lost overness so it was a fine outcome with a great rating.

Match 4 – Kurt Angle def. Mr Anderson

Kurt gets the victory here after Anderson won at No Surrender. Another rating in the 90s. An incredible first half to the show (minus the pre-show) and the good ratings don’t stop there…

Match 5 – Bobby Lashley and Abyss def. Bobby Roode and James Storm in a hardcore tag team match

It was very hard to pick a winning team for this. Beer Money really should get the win but I still see a lot of success with Lashley and Abyss. They get the win here in a 92% rated match.

Match 6 – Jeff Hardy def. Sting in a Last Man Standing

This was the lowest rated match in the main show but by no means a failure. Sting lost overness from the match but 85% is a good rating. Sting has just become a non-wrestler in my game, meaning he’s limited to how much he can wrestle. Therefore, I think it works for the best that Jeff won the feud. Sting might not be on the show for a great deal now as it’s about pushing the main roster but I’m going to try and find a way to work him into the storyline as a non-wrestler. Maybe he could become a heel authority figure, I don’t know. We’ll see.

Match 7 – AJ Styles (c) def. Christopher Daniels in a Falls Count Anywhere Match to retain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship

I feel kind of bad for building up Daniels for this big feud only to beat him at Bound For Glory. However, I felt AJ had to remain champion for now. However, these two gave us a stunner of a match. With a 98% overall, Daniels didn’t lose a great deal from this feud. Maybe they’ll be a time for Daniels to reign as champion but I feel it was important for AJ to retain. AJ wins after Kaz does a botched interference. It also works well for his next feud. Speaking of….

Segment 1 – Post-Match Angle

AJ Styles is celebrating in the ring after beating Daniels. Daniels and Kaz are arguing to the back as AJ is alone in the ring. But then the lights go out. A spotlight suddenly hits the top of the ramp as AJ seems confused. The words “My Time Is Now” appear on the titantron as the newest signing to TNA appears on the entrance ramp…

…. AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

By the way…. that’s no joke.

John Cena appears in the Impact Zone to confront the TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ. AJ shoves the belt in Cena’s face but Cena hits the FU and holds up the title himself.

Trust me. I didn’t mess with the game in the file editor or anything! I was legitimately able to sign John Cena from WWE. Well technically it wasn’t from WWE. What happened was that Cena’s contract was running out and I guess WWE just let it expire. It appears that this happened because Cena suddenly appeared on the free agents list. I seized the moment and signed him up to a two year contract. Money well spent!

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So John Cena was the newest signing which I was referring to on Twitter a few days ago. He’s no doubt going to be a huge part of the show in the next few months and I can’t wait to see where this goes. It’s been great to bring back this series. It’s awesome that with my first TNA PPV back, I was able to beat my own personal best for highest rated show! I’m pretty sure that’s the highest rating I’ve ever gotten in EWR! I don’t recall WCW ever getting a higher rating! We got a 93% which was incredible as we had a 71% pre-show match! Cena’s segment being 99% and Styles vs Daniels being 98% both did help but there was a lot of great matches on the show as well. I can’t wait to see where this series goes and I’ll be sure to see you soon with Turning Point!

14/10/2015 NXT Review – New Number One Contender Crowned In Battle Royal

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Bayley opened the show. She talked about making history at NXT TakeOver: Respect. It was a nice little speech and she got a lot of nice chants. Fans chanted “Match of the Year”, “You deserve it” and “Women’s wrestling.” She talked about how it was the next step in the Divas Revolution. Alexa Bliss, along with Blake and Murphy, interrupted her. She initially congratulated her and called her an incredible champion. Alexa then stole the belt with the help of Blake and Murphy. Alexa talked about winning the belt for real and she threw it back at Bayley. So I’m guessing she’ll be in the hunt for the title now.

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They showed a backstage post-match segment from NXT TakeOver. Joe and Balor’s interview was cut off by William Regal who was talking about the NXT title. Samoa Joe talked about how he was undefeated and challenged Balor the title. Balor agreed but Regal said that everyone should get a shot, much like with the Dusty Rhodes Classic. He announced the number one contendership battle royal for tonight but Joe protested saying that he should be having the shot. However, Regal made it clear that it would be a battle royal. So Joe came off as the heel following the PPV so it might be him that could be turning in the future. We shall see…

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They showed a bunch of backstage promos during the night with the battle royal competitors. Tye Dillinger, Apollo Crews, Rhyno, Baron Corbin and Tyler Breeze all cut the promos. They were short but sweet promos but I’d like to have seen one from Enzo or somebody! The Vaudevillains were in a non-title match against Angelo Dawkins and Sawyer Fulton. It was a short but sweet match. Really, all the match time on this episode was for the battle royal. The Mechanics cut a promo mocking Enzo Amore and Big Cass and talked about how they beat the NXT Tag Team Champions in the Dusty Classic. They basically claimed to be both the number one contenders and the NXT Tag Team Champions! I’m guessing their going to be going after the tag titles. However, there’s a lot of great tag teams that they could pick from to go up against the Vaudevillains. The Dusty Classic did a great job for developing the tag team division even more.

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They showed another NXT TakeOver post-match segment, with Asuka going up to Dana and Emma backstage. Asuka was just awesome on that show in general and she was great in this segment. Nia Jax finally debuted against Evie. The crowd was very welcoming, which really helped her case. The NXT arena in Florida is a very good crowd to debut people in because they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and they were giving Nia Jax all sorts of love. They chanted “Nia’s gonna kill you” and they were more than happy with her. Nia’s size really does help her and she’s got a lot of potential. She’s a rare powerhouse for WWE to really get behind. They had Awesome Kong/Kharma before, but there were a few issues. However, if Nia Jax is here to stay then she can become a star. Baron Corbin tweeted this below, which really does sum it up for Nia…

We had the battle royal for a NXT title shot. There was LOADS of heat on Baron for this one. The fans DID NOT want him to win. The favourite from the get-go was really Tyler Breeze but we’ll get onto him. The Mechanics, Baron and Rhyno all went for Samoa Joe right away! They established Joe as the favourite which I’m all for considering how this ended. Apollo did his Atomic Drop finisher on Johnny Gargano, that he did to Tyler at Respect, onto the men on the outside to eliminate him. That looked cool.

The Mechanics eliminated Big Cass but then Enzo eliminated the Mechanics by himself which got one of the strongest pops of the episode! Sadly, he was tossed over too. There were a lot of big “Tyler” chants as Rhyno and Baron had been teaming up. However, Baron ended up double-crossing Rhyno. I figured Rhyno was going to be the one to do the double cross!

Samoa Joe eliminated Tommaso Ciampa with a hard slam onto the apron. That looked like it sucked for Tommaso! Joe then eliminated both Blake and Murphy. This lead to the final four being Joe, Breeze, Corbin and Apollo. Samoa Joe got rained with boos after he eliminated Tyler! Tyler responded by eliminating Joe which got a big pop. Tyler got a big “Thank you Tyler” chant. Did the NXT crowd really not want Joe to win? I’d understand if it was like Baron Corbin. However, Joe didn’t seem to be getting bad reactions during this show. I guess they just wanted Tyler to get revenge on somebody. Unfortunately, Joe was that somebody. I’m guessing then it won’t be Joe vs Balor at the next NXT TakeOver which is a shame. But you never know.

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Apollo Crews eliminated Baron Corbin in an alright final two to win the battle royal and become the number one contender. I’m fine with Apollo winning. I’m shocked that he’s getting a title shot this quickly after debuting with WWE but you can tell they see something big with him. I don’t think he’ll win the title, unless they want to get Finn Balor onto the main roster as soon as possible. I figured they’d want to do it by giving the title to Joe first but I guess Crews makes sense since he just debuted on NXT and he’ll be there for a while first. It was a decent battle royal. I wanted Joe to win but I’m fine with Apollo.

This was an OK show that was really just about the battle royal. The battle royal they put on was fine and this was an OK follow-up from NXT TakeOver: Respect.

NXT TakeOver: Respect Review – A Thing Of Beauty

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I’ve been asked a few times over the last month about why I’m a wrestling fan, even at 21 years old. I always get annoyed at the question but I answer it as I’ve always answered. I enjoy wrestling like you’d enjoy a television show like Game Of Thrones, Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. These stellar shows are successful due to incredible story-telling and how emotionally attached to the characters you can get. Even though it’s not real, you’re still on the edge of your seat with your eyes glued to the television. It’s that encapsulating of a programme that you don’t care if it’s fiction. You certainly aren’t going to watch Game Of Thrones and complain about it not being realistic enough!

It’s scripted entertainment just like WWE is scripted entertainment. It’s scripted entertainment just like Lucha Underground is scripted entertainment. It’s scripted entertainment just like ROH is scripted entertainment. It may be scripted, but it’s still entertaining. The only difference between WWE and Game Of Thrones is simple. When the battle scenes go down in Game Of Thrones, it’s usually choreographed and played out by stunt doubles. When battle scenes go down in WWE, it’s choreographed and played out by the characters themselves. They take the bumps in the ring. They put on a show for the viewers. They are that night’s entertainment. They tell their story in the ring. That’s why I’ll always have respect and love for wrestling when it’s all set and done. If you want a good reason for why I watch wrestling… watch last night’s NXT TakeOver main event with Bayley and Sasha Banks…

These two women demonstrated the main reason why I love wrestling, even with the knowledge that it’s scripted. The storyline between Bayley and Sasha has been very well told on television and in segments, but the stories they tell in the ring is on a completely different level. With call-backs to their match at Brooklyn, Sasha Banks just being awesome as a heel and the fans being true stars themselves, everything about that match just came together to produce an atmosphere and a premise like no other. Even if you’ve never seen NXT before, you could tell how monumental this match was. Everybody played their part. The commentators played their part. Stephanie McMahon and Lita at ringside played their part. Charlotte and Becky Lynch played their part. The fans played their part. The wrestlers in the ring played their part. Rarely does a match have the level of expectation that this match had and completely surpassed those expectations exponentially.

It was just everything about this match that just made it so special. I think just because of the background behind the match, the roles of everyone involved, just the sheer athleticism and skill shown by both of these women and the story itself… if I were Dave Meltzer, I’d give it a five star rating.

Dave Meltzer is one of the most respected journalists in wrestling. If a match ever gets a five star rating from him, it’s rare. He has incredibly high standards for matches and for good reason. He’s been watching wrestling for years. He’s watched so many matches in his life that for a match to truly standout to Dave, that’s an incredible feat.

I’ve watched wrestling for more than ten years. There’s a lot of times where I’ve just completed hated the product, there’s a lot of times where I’ve liked the product but only a few matches have ever existed which have surpassed such high expectations that it blows me away. Bayley vs Sasha was one of them.

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Anyway, let’s run down the card. We kicked things off with the Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Tournament, where Finn Balor and Samoa Joe took on Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson. Dash and Dawson were a great heel tag team during this. As it was pointed out during the Bryan and Vinny Show, they weren’t lazy heels that just tried to waste time. They were constantly on the attack, especially when Finn Balor’s knee got hurt. It was a good tag team match. Samoa Joe got the hot tag and ran wild. He went for the Muscle Buster but Finn demanded that Joe tag him in. Joe tagged him in, hit the Muscle Buster and then Finn hit the Kudagra for the win. However, he hit the move and furthered knackered his knee. This was a great set up for the finals of the match, with the commentators teasing whether Finn Balor would be able to compete.

This also was a great advancement in the Finn Balor/Samoa Joe storyline, which may be the next NXT title feud. I haven’t read the NXT spoilers, so I don’t know who won the #1 contender battle royal. I know one thing, but only because WWE announced it on social media which we’ll get to later. Anyway, Joe had the match won but his partner demanded the tag so he could get the glory. To me, it was a little hint towards dissension as Finn wanted the glory but could have easily cost himself and Joe the tag team the tournament in the process. As Vinny pointed out in the Bryan and Vinny show, either guy could turn on the other and it could have made sense. Finn could have thought that Joe was dead weight and felt that he, as the champion, needed to carry the load. Joe could have thought that Finn was a glory hound and turn on him, wanting to take away his NXT title to PROVE that he was better than Finn. Great and simple story-telling.

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The second semi-final of the Dusty Classic took place, with the winner taking on Samoa Joe and Finn Balor. Baron Corbin and Rhyno took on Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. I thought this match was better than the opener. Not to take away anything from Joe or Balor, but we have come to expect a great performance from them every time they’re in the ring. We don’t expect guys like Baron Corbin to pull off great matches. These four had a great match which the crowd just loved. The star of the match though was Chad Gable. He was awesome in this match and the crowd were SO into him. Chad hit the rolling suplex on BARON CORBIN which was an incredible feat of strength. The finish was that Chad was going for some tilt-a-whirl move but Corbin countered it into the End Of Days for the win. Hell of a finish! I don’t think the fans really wanted Gable and Jordan to lose but that got the heat on Rhyno and Corbin for the main-event. Again, a great match.

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Dana Brooke vs Asuka. Asuka was GREAT in this match. I haven’t seen a lot of Dana Brooke, so I can’t really say for sure whether she’s good or not. However, she and Asuka had a great match. Maybe that was down to the effect of Asuka, but Dana held her own and actually looked decent against her. Having said that though, Asuka was such a star. This was my first time seeing her and she was just incredible. This was an awesome debut for Asuka and an awesome way to introduce her to the NXT audience. Loved it.

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Apollo Crews vs Tyler Breeze. This was a GREAT back and forth match. With Apollo only starting out, this sort of match is usually for just putting Crews over and showing the fans how great he is. However, Tyler looked great in his own right. This was a damn good match in which Tyler was shown to be on par with Apollo. There was a lot of great near-falls until Apollo got the win.

Then we got to the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Classic final. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe vs Rhyno and Baron Corbin. I don’t think this was as good as the two matches earlier. However, this was still a darn good final. Joe and Balor won in the same way they won the first one. It was a lovely finish to the tournament, with Dusty’s family all coming out. Cody Rhodes delivered a great speech and it was just a lovely finish to this tournament. I know a lot of people were expecting a turn but I’m very happy that it finished like it did.

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The main event may have been my favourite match in all of 2015. Brock vs Taker from Summerslam was one of my favourites for a lot of reasons. Sasha being the greatest heel of time was one of them. A lot of the action on the outside was done right in front off Bayley’s biggest fan Izzy! Therefore when Sasha was just beating on Bayley and slamming her into the steep steps, Izzy had the best (or in her case, the worst) seat in the house as her favourite wrestler was in trouble. Sasha didn’t care. After Bayley was counted out, Sasha grabbed Izzy’s headband and danced around in the ring! The fans were just gasping at what she did, just in unbelievable shock. Izzy was reduced to tears on the outside but Sasha just kept going on and on! That only fuelled the fire for Sasha. Do you remember when Triple H made a kid cry at a WWE event a while ago? Triple H immediately apologised and tried to console. NOT SASHA!

As it turned out, Sasha ended up apologising to Izzy after the match. However, her in-ring antics shifted the crowd support which had mostly been even until that point. Now, everybody was rooting for the champion to retain. The finish was incredible. People have told me that Bayley shouldn’t have been in the Bank Statement for as long as she was locked in it at the end. However, I think it was just the right amount of time. It was too long that it seemed that they were just wasting time but long enough to show off just how tough Bayley was. I thought this was probably the best finish to a match all year.

Ultimately a quality match to end an incredible NXT TakeOver event. Sasha broke down after the match as it was a sad moment for her. With this being her title rematch, this would be her last night in NXT. She might make a few appearances in the future but now, she’s ascended to the main roster. Sasha’s been in NXT for years and has developed bonds with the rest of the roster. But now, she must take to the road on the main show. It would have been an emotional night for the boss. However, her last night in NXT ended with a bang. These two put on a stellar match.

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Before we finish, I do want to mention the news that James Storm debuted in NXT this week. This came during the NXT tapings that took place the night after TakeOver I believe. This may seem as a spoiler alert but WWE already announced Storm’s arrival via social media. I won’t mention much about what he did but I’d like to say that it’s awesome to see him on NXT. If it’s a permanent deal for Storm, it’s a great coup for the company. Sorry about your damn luck…