How I Would Book… AJ Styles’ Road To Wrestlemania 32

After years of speculation, the “Phenomenal One” AJ Styles has signed a WWE contract and is now a part of the WWE universe. After more than a decade as the face of TNA and years of experience in Japan, we finally get to see AJ Styles throw down in the WWE. However, with his arrival comes many questions. This is someone that has made a name for himself in the independent scene, who is now in unfamiliar territory. This was one of the worries Vince Russo had, when he heard AJ was starting up in WWE. How do you treat him? Well, we’ll see if we can make things comfortable for the newcomer. Here’s How I Would Book… AJ Styles’ Road To Wrestlemania 32.

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To say that this is AJ’s first rodeo with WWE would actually be untrue. AJ was actually in the developmental territory for the WWF as he was starting out in wrestling. His initial run is highlighted by a WWF Metal appearance, when he wrestled the Hurricane. Now though, he enters the company as an established wrestling superstar. His reaction at the 2016 Royal Rumble tells you just how much of a hot commodity he is. People want to see AJ Styles and WWE have pulled quite a coup with the signature of AJ Styles.

Signing these top stars is all well in good, but it means nothing he is not booked accordingly. AJ’s actually coming in during an exciting period for the company. He’s too big enough star to be lost in the shuffle for Wrestlemania period. In fact, he helps WWE tackle their issue of having the stars at their disposal. AJ will probably be getting a big match at Wrestlemania.

However, which match is right for AJ? Which match will firmly establish him as a future main-eventer in the company. Well, let’s take a look at the options.

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As hinted by the elimination of AJ at the Royal Rumble and based off reports from Wrestling Observer, it appears that WWE has some kind of plan with AJ and Kevin Owens. That would actually be a good feud going into Wrestlemania for Kevin, after losing his feud to Dean Ambrose. Going up against AJ, who has already got instant overness, will benefit Kevin and maintain his own overness. It makes sure that he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and has direction, keeping his momentum up at the same time. However, is this the best thing for AJ too? Well, let’s take a look at the other options.

On Monday Night RAW, AJ beat Chris Jericho. This was followed by a resistant handshake by Jericho, who seemed confident that he was going to beat AJ. If this were to lead to a Wrestlemania match, I think this would be a great Wrestlemania debut match for AJ to really shine. Their match on RAW was pretty good and I think it’s just a matter of getting used to each other. Since they’ve already competed on television, there’s no harm in putting it on during the house shows leading into their big match. Then again it would take away from their big Wrestlemania match, if they fought several times before that. Surely AJ’s big Wrestlemania match should be a special one right?

When looking at the active roster at the moment, it would seem that our options for AJ are limited in terms of true star power. However, there are other mouth-watering prospects for AJ at Wrestlemania. Wouldn’t it be truly fantastic to see a triple threat match with fellow high-flyers Kalisto and Neville? You could put the United States Championship on the line if you wanted, but it’s really debatable about if AJ’s first title win should be the US Championship. Alternatively, he could challenge the former US Champion Alberto Del Rio. That would be an unique mix of styles… no pun intended. Dolph Ziggler could be a great opponent for him, as Ziggler would be capable of keeping up with the speed of AJ. Sometimes, Dolph has a tendency of working too quick for a lot of wrestlers. Thankfully, AJ has worked in environments that features a lot of fast-paced action and is very quick himself… even at 38 years old.

When looking at all of those options, it’s a tough call which ever way you slice it. However, I believe the right man to face AJ… is Dean Ambrose.

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This is the perfect way for AJ’s status as an upper midcard/main eventer to be cemented early on. Dean’s just coming off being in the final two of the Royal Rumble and has a lot of momentum at the moment. My scenario would have AJ challenge Dean for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania… and win the belt.

Here’s what’ll happen.

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Dean’s match at Fastlane is already set. He will face Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in a triple threat match with the winner going up against Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. He’s taken care off until then. For AJ, it’s a lot more tricky.

AJ Styles’ only just debuted, so no major feud is already in place. This interests me. We’ve got a great opportunity to throw AJ in with a number of upper midcarders right off the bat. My idea would be for Kevin Owens to start off Monday Night RAW, complaining that he is not in the picture for any championship. He demands a shot at something when Alberto Del Rio comes out. He does the same and demands a rematch for the US Championship. Chris Jericho comes out and throws his name into the hat for a title shot. This results in Stephanie McMahon making two matches for that episode of RAW, claiming that she’ll be watching. It’s Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio… vs AJ Styles.

Owens and Jericho fight to a double DQ and AJ beats Del Rio. This leads to Stephanie claiming that she’ll need one more match to decide who is truly worthy of an opportunity. Jericho, Del Rio and Owens are booked in a triple threat match, which is won by Owens. Stephanie decides to give all these men an opportunity to earn a title match of their choosing at Wrestlemania (except the WWE World Heavyweight Championship of course). If the winner selects the Intercontinental Championship, he will challenge for the title on the night after Wrestlemania if Dean wins at Fastlane. I’m pretty sure that covers that aspect of the storyline. We want to make Stephanie seem that she’s got everything figured out. If Dean ends up winning, she’s got a back-up plan. Whether’s it’s stripping Dean off the title after Fastlane or scheduling the title match for RAW, we want to keep the Intercontinental title in the mix.

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At Fastlane, it’ll be a fatal four way match. It’ll be Chris Jericho vs Alberto Del Rio vs Kevin Owens… vs AJ Styles. At Fastlane, AJ picks up the win. On RAW, we get an all-champions tag team match. It’s United States Champion Kalisto and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs the WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day. The New Day cause a DQ and do a three-on-two beatdown, when AJ comes down to the ring to even things up. When the New Day flee, AJ decks Dean with the Pele. He holds up the Intercontinental Championship and declares that he will challenge for that title.

In the weeks leading up to the event, AJ talks about how he’s no rookie when it comes to professional wrestling. He’s been wrestling for nearly two decades and has been successful everywhere he’s been. He’s says WWE will be no different. AJ talks about hearing “stories” and “myths” of how those that love professional wrestling are treated like dirt in WWE. AJ says that he doesn’t care about those stories and the “backstage politics” won’t stop him from being the best in the world. He vows to win the Intercontinental Championship and surpass the title reigns of every other great that’s ever held the belt.

It’s not a heel turn but it’s AJ showing ambition. AJ’s letting off some of the cockiness and arrogance in him without becoming a full-blown heel. AJ will also NOT hit the Styles Clash on anyone during this road to Wrestlemania. He can win matches by heel locks or corkscrew splashes, but he’ll never win with the Styles Clash. He’ll never use it. The anticipation builds to Wrestlemania, where AJ and Dean meet. The people are starting to think “will this be the day he hits it?”

NOTE: On this week’s edition of SmackDown!, AJ Styles actually did hit the Styles Clash on Curtis Axel. This does annoy me because you had a great opportunity to really put over the move. It should be a move which you should build anticipation for, like when Hideo Itami kept teasing the GTS on NXT. Make the fans wait and wait. Make them wonder whether WWE are not allowing AJ actually hit the move because of how dangerous it can be if something goes wrong. WWE spent the entire Royal Rumble having AJ try to hit the Styles Clash, only to be stopped by someone in the match. Why not continue that until at least Wrestlemania? Why throw it away for an episode of SmackDown!, which does not have an audience like RAW or Wrestlemania? 

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If we’re lucky, these two are given 20 minutes to wrestle on that show. AJ and Dean give each other anything but they both keep kicking out. AJ goes for the Pele on Dean but Dean moves out of the way. AJ ends up hitting the ref somehow. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on AJ but the ref is down. As Dean wakes up the ref, AJ low blows Dean. The ref is still not up and Dean gets back up slightly from the low blow. AJ goes to the outside, picks up the title and hits Dean with it. The referee finally wakes up and makes the count but Dean kicks out. AJ brings up Dean and yells in his face, which leads to Dean spitting at AJ. AJ gets mad and finally hits the Styles Clash to pick up the win and win the championship.

That is how I’d do it. I feel the Intercontinental Championship is the right belt for AJ to have and I feel he should have it sooner rather than later. After he’s done with Dean, it actually sets up a nice little feud with one of NXT’s top stars. Someone that is reportedly on his way to the main roster soon. That man… is Samoa Joe.

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That about does it for this edition of “How I Would Book.” I’m pretty sure a lot of people would have wanted somebody other Dean. A lot of people probably want AJ to go up against a true star like Brock Lesnar or Triple H. Others might want to have AJ go up against someone like Daniel Bryan or Kevin Owens. I’m sure there’s TNA fans that would want to see AJ going up against a debuting Samoa Joe AT Wrestlemania. I’m positive that NJPW fans will want to see AJ in some incarnation of the Bullet Club. However, I feel this is the right way to throw AJ into WWE as a serious player. Dean Ambrose is currently a main-eventer in WWE, which makes the timing perfect for AJ and Dean to tear the house down in Dallas. Whether WWE does it my way or a different way, I just hope that the road to Wrestlemania for AJ Styles is a phenomenal one.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

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Why Reports Of NJPW Signings Will Help WWE

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Reports of the signings of New Japan Pro Wrestling stars AJ Styles, Shinesuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson really did shock the wrestling world. Despite the WWE’s best attempts at keeping the signings a secret, the news was eventually broken. Plans were reportedly in place for the likes of AJ Styles to actually compete in the 2016 Royal Rumble match. However, I fear that those plans may now be changed, considering that the cat is now out of the bag. WWE may want to go out of their way to shock us but I say continue with Plan A.

WWE’s been very short on long-term planning in the last few years, with the likes of the Undertaker’s streak ending being decided four hours before the event. In some cases I totally disagree with it, but in some cases it’s not always a bad thing. With the likes of Seth Rollins and John Cena suffering long term injuries, you can’t really afford to make long term plans if things go wrong.

Changing plans because of injuries is fine, as these things are just something you can’t prepare for. Changing plans because storylines were leaked however aren’t the appropriate measures to take. It’s certainly not appropriate to go out of your way to swerve the audience, when you’ve got something great in place for them already. Whether the news of AJ Styles came out or not, him entering the Royal Rumble would have gotten an incredible pop. If anything, I would argue that it would actually help the pop for AJ if the news had gotten out.

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I want to just state before I go on that wrestling fans are not idiots. A lot of them have the internet and a lot of them are well aware about other wrestling promotions. It’s possible that AJ would get a strong reaction if he showed up unannounced but I’m highly doubtful that it would get an extremely big reaction without the news. The Royal Rumble is one of the WWE’s biggest events. There could be a lot of casual viewers tuning into the Royal Rumble and I’m sure I’m right when I say that these viewers would have no idea who AJ Styles is.

Without that leak, there was always going to be a portion of the crowd that is sat there silently thinking “Who is AJ Styles?” If AJ wasn’t announced beforehand, those fans wouldn’t have had a clue. With the news though, it actually aids WWE in their bid to build anticipation for the likes of Styles, Nakamura, Gallows and Anderson. Those casual fans now have the time to do a bit of digging about who these people are. That builds anticipation a lot more than if WWE would have tried to make this a surprise.

 

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I also mean no disrespect when I say that AJ Styles is no Sting. When Sting signed for WWE, the WWE already had the WCW content on the WWE Network and other means for their younger WWE fans to find out just who he is. It’s not like WWE can just grab some TNA footage of AJ and shot it on the network. WWE have hardly ever hinted or mentioned TNA in any form of media, and it’s not like they’re willing to go out of their way to discuss wrestlers that aren’t even with the company.

That’s not on WWE as that’s not their job. Their job is to promote the talent that they’ve got. To say that they’ve completely neglected other wrestling companies would be an out-right lie. They’ve worked with other wrestling promotions in the past and have mentioned independent wrestlers like AJ and Samoa Joe in articles about Ring of Honor before they signed. The point is, you can’t expect casual and young wrestling fans to automatically figure out who these men are before they enter the WWE ring for the first time. That’s what vignettes are for. That’s what WWE.com is for. That’s what WWE games are for. Sting was announced for WWE 2K15 a few months before he debuted on WWE television.

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Wrestling fans must be aware that WWE are trying to appeal to the majority of THEIR fan base. In order to make these fans aware about who these men are, the leaks have played to their advantage. They can know take control of the narrative and build anticipation for the eventual arrival of these men. What have they been having Finn Balor and John Cena do on Twitter and Instagram? They posted a number of Bullet Club/AJ Styles related messages which get people excited. Finn had an interview with WWE.com, talking about the rumours. The hardcore wrestling fans, that know who the Bullet Club is, will go nuts. The casual wrestling fans, that don’t know who they are, can find out and get excited. It works so well for WWE.

If they were to change their plans just because word got out about their arrival, that would be detrimental. Some times, it works for the best if we know ahead of time that something’s going to happen. If WWE keep building up and building up these signings only for nothing to happen at the Royal Rumble, the fans that have gotten so excited are going to feel let down.

It was like at Extreme Rules 2012, when Kharma was supposed to come back and win the Divas title. Word got out and they decided against it. They went with the returning Layla to come back and win the title, and the crowd just didn’t care in the slightest. Remember when Matt Hardy turned on Jeff Hardy in 2009 and revealed himself as the mastermind behind his attacks from the last few months? Originally, the plan was for the returning Christian to reveal himself as the mastermind. When word got out what WWE were planning to do, WWE changed their minds.

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WWE going out of their way to shock us sometimes isn’t the best way to go, especially if you don’t have a good enough back-up plan. I enjoy unpredictability as much as the next guy but I’d prefer the best storyline WWE can give me. If they’ve got a plan for AJ, Shinsuke, Doc and Karl, I would much rather they stick with it. I want a storyline that truly is too sweet.

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…

SPOILERS: Samoa Joe and Finn Balor Team Up For NXT Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic

WARNING: This article contains spoilers for upcoming NXT episodes. If you do not wish to be spoiled, click away now.
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Coming up on NXT will be the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic tournament. As William Regal stated on NXT TakeOver, the tag team tournament will be leading into the upcoming NXT TakeOver event in October. The tournament is set to begin next week. William Regal announced this week on NXT that Rhino and Baron Corbin would be teaming up in the tournament to take on the Ascension. Neville said he wanted to be in the tournament. However, a very interesting tag team was seen in the NXT tapings for the first round of the tournament.

NXT Champion Finn Balor was seen teaming up with Samoa Joe as part of the tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing how these two work as a tag team and it also gives the tournament some fire power. Two of the top stars in the NXT roster teaming up will make for some incredible television. But according to Dave Meltzer, the purpose for this tag team is even greater than you’d think.

According to a report from NoDQ.com: “According to Dave Meltzer, the reason these two were paired together it to set up a feud between Joe and Balor for the NXT Championship. He speculates that the two won’t be able to co-exist and they will end up turning on each other.”

I do like this idea of the two of them forming as a tag team that doesn’t get along. These two, in NXT storylines, are very proud individuals with two very different styles. Tag teams that don’t get along were to be expected anyway in this tournament. However, Joe and Balor are arguably the two top stars on the show. They are both two intense stars. So it’ll be great to see the tension and anticipation build for the eventual break up of the team.

Whether this’ll lead to Balor and Joe facing each other AT the next TakeOver is still unknown. If that’s the case, then they’d have to get eliminated early on in this tournament. However, NXT might end up feeling that these two would work for the long haul. Remember how well Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle worked well as a tag team during the “SmackDown! Six” storyline. There’s a whole lot of potential here and this could lead into a long-term program between the two which I am all for.

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn Predictions

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Tonight, NXT TakeOver will take place in Brooklyn tonight. It’s a very exciting NXT special and I’m going to go ahead and predict the entire card for you right now. This will be a very brief post, unlike my Summerslam predictions which were uploaded yesterday (you can find that at this link). To be honest, I don’t watch NXT as much as I should be. However, I am very interested in this card in particular. One reason is because it includes a Japanese wrestling legend wrestling in WWE for the first time and he’s doing it… in NXT!

Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Zack Ryder and Mojo Rawley vs Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder

Prediction: Team Enzo

I’m really hoping for a win for Team Enzo! I’m a huge fan of Enzo Amore and I think he and his posse here will grab the win. I smell something special with this Enzo, Big Cass and Hype Bros alliance. Promote them up to WWE and have them feud with the New Day! That’s money right there!

Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Dana Brooke vs Emma

Prediction: Charlotte

As much as I’d love to see Emma win, who is killing it with her new gimmick, I have a feeling Charlotte or Becky will probably win in order to hype up the Divas Revolution on the main roster.

Bull Dempsey vs Elias Samson

Prediction: Bull Dempsey

It’s all about getting fit for Bull Dempsey!

Carmella vs Eva Marie

Prediction: Eva Marie

The WWE are clearly high on Eva, so she’s going over in this one. Eva has actually shown some signs of improvement with her ring work, which I kinda dig.

Apollo Crews vs Tye Dillinger

Prediction: Apollo Crews

I do like Apollo Crews… formerly known as Uhaa Nation. He’s something special in the ring and I’m looking forward to seeing his debut.

Blake (c) and Murphy (c) vs Aiden English and Simon Gotch for the NXT Tag Team Championship

Prediction: Blake and Murphy

I don’t see them dropping the belts just yet.

Sasha Banks (c) vs Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship

Prediction: Bayley

Sasha’s been a great champion but it’s now Bayley’s time on top of the NXT Women’s division. I’m very much looking forward to this match.

Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin

Prediction: Samoa Joe

If Joe loses this one, I’ll be really steamed. Joe really needs this win and I’m hoping a title shot is soon on the Samoan’s horizon.

Jushin Thunder Liger vs Tyler Breeze

Prediction: Jushin Thunder Liger.

Oh yes. I’m all about Liger! It’ll be awesome to see the Japanese star appear on WWE television.

Finn Balor (c) vs Kevin Owens in a ladder match for the NXT Championship

Prediction: Finn Balor

Balor closes the book on this feud by winning this ladder match.

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