WWE’s Brock Lesnar To Fight Mark Hunt At UFC 200

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express with some big news coming from the world of professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. It was confirmed at UFC 199 that Brock Lesnar would be competing at UFC 200, as part of an historic event including three world title fights. It was confirmed on Monday that Brock’s opponent in this heavyweight bout would be accomplished fighter Mark Hunt. To say this is ground-breaking news would be an understatement.

A collaboration by WWE and UFC in this capacity is certainly unheard of. The nearest to this was probably Ronda Rousey being allowed to do her angle with The Rock, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H at WrestleMania 31. Even proposed plans for a Rousey vs Stephanie match fell through, due to the UFC not allowing Rousey to do more than the original one-off deal. Rousey showing up in a non-wrestling role is one thing. Brock Lesnar actually fighting in the UFC is on a completely different level.

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The WWE, for years, had been against the idea of collaborations with outside wrestling companies. With recent projects involving EVOLVE and other independent companies as part of their Cruiserweight Tournament, they are certainly turning a corner in that regard. This deal with their supposed rivals UFC is pretty big. The story is supposedly that Brock Lesnar was able to secure an agreement when negotiating his WWE contract in early 2015, with the option of one UFC fight being open to him. Chael Sonnen explained to Jonathan Coachman on ESPN that the door was always open for Brock to come to UFC, with Dana White not even having to call Vince McMahon in order to secure this fight with Brock.

With those details, it may not seem as much of a collabaration anymore. However, WWE is still promoting this news heavily on theory social media accounts. WWE released a press release about the news, as well as the news of Brock’s opponent being Mark Hunt. According to Wrestling Observer, it is also likely that Brock will be promoting this fight on WWE broadcasts as well. It’s almost as if WWE are still trying to turn this into more of a WWE deal than a UFC deal, by having Brock with Paul Heyman on RAW to hype up  the fight.

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I personally believe that there’s probably a lot more to the story and that WWE is probably getting something in return. Whether that’s the big Ronda Rousey fight at WrestleMania or not is left open for debate. However, I’d be very surprised if WWE aren’t getting anything out of letting Brock fight. The reason I say this is because I believe, from a business perspective, that WWE have a lot more to lose from this than UFC.

However, UFC have hardly any trouble at all in building up stars as opposed to WWE. If Brock beats Mark Hunt and leaves, it’s not that much of a business tragedy. On the other hand, WWE have not generated a legitimate wrestling superstar in nearly ten years. They’ve never been able to develop a hugely socially-relevant larger-than-life WWE superstar since John Cena a decade ago. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, it’s going to be very difficult for WWE to promote Brock for future programs. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, Paul Heyman has to sell on the microphone that Brock is still an unbeatable badass when he just lost a legitimate fight. If Brock Lesnar loses this fight, the WWE are going to look so inferior in comparison to UFC.

Even though he officially called it a day on his UFC career in March 2015, Brock still thought that the issues with his health really did prevent Brock from achieving his full potential in the octagon. Brock said: “I felt robbed by diverticulitis. I felt robbed by being sick. I was feeling good and it took me a couple years to start feeling good. I’m at home, I’m working out, my life is great, everything’s in tune, my contract’s coming to an end with WWE, hey it’s been a great time but something’s missing.”

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For UFC, you get another big fight as part of the UFC 200 event that they’ve been building towards in the last few years. They tried to get every big fighter they could for this huge event, similarly to their UFC 100 event which, ironically, featured Brock Lesnar in the main event. Whether Brock Lesnar wins or loses, UFC get the box-office draw of Brock Lesnar. He was the biggest MMA draw when he was last with the UFC. Even in WWE, he has been the biggest draw on the WWE Network with his Network-Exclusive events gaining a lot of interest. Not only are UFC getting this dude, but the ball’s in their court whether Brock wins the fight or not. In their mind, it doesn’t matter if Brock wins the fight or not. Unless UFC have it in the back of their mind to do another fight with Brock down the road, they’ve got nothing to lose with this situation.

Now if Brock beats a top UFC star like Mark Hunt, maybe it’s detrimental in the sense that you’ve just fed a star or maybe the next big thing against… the next big thing. If Brock wins and leaves, there’s no way for that fighter to get his win back and a lot of work would need to be done in order to re-build his reputation.

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The news was actually broken by MMA reporter Ariel Helwani, who was quickly banned for life from attending future UFC events as a certified media member for leaking the news about Brock. UFC lifted the ban on Monday, by releasing this statement.

“Following a conversation with the editorial team at SB Nation, UFC will not prevent MMAFighting.com from receiving media credentials to cover live UFC events. We respect the role the media plays in our sport and beyond, including MMAFighting’s ability to report news. However, in our opinion, we believe the recurring tactics used by its lead reporter extended beyond the purpose of journalism. We feel confident our position has now been adequately communicated to the SB Nation editorial team.

“UFC’s goal as the world’s leading mixed martial arts promotion is to cultivate interest in its world-class athletes and events, and deliver for the fans. We will continue to introduce this sport and its athletes to new fans across the world, and we will do so by working alongside media across all platforms.”

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That about covers everything that we know at the moment about Brock. I’m sure in the next month that a lot more will come out of this. What do you guys think? Do you think Brock will win? Do you think this will be the first of many fights from Brock? Tweet the @ArmbarExpress Twitter account or leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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WWE Announces 2016 Brand Split And SmackDown! Goes Live

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. BIG NEWS coming from the WWE, with the official announcement that the WWE brand split is coming back. RAW and SmackDown! will once again receive different and unique rosters, with SmackDown! also additionally becoming a permanent live show on Tuesday nights. This may be obvious, but there’s a lot to talk about with regards to this news and we’ll delve right into all of the speculation regarding how many titles we’ll have, who’s going where and the reasons for the brand split in the first place.

Dave Meltzer from Wrestling Observer, addressed this on the Wrestling Observer Live radio show I believe. He explained that one of the main reasons for WWE bringing back the brand split is to help generally increase television ratings, particularly on SmackDown! With SmackDown! previously being taped, the incentive to watch it dropped as wrestling fans could simply read what happened online and lose interest to actually see the show as it airs. This was obviously a big reason for why the decision was made to make it a live show. Jerry Lawler hinted at SmackDown! going live earlier on in the year and now, it’s actually happening.

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This picture was already clearly painted with the announcement made by Stephanie and Shane McMahon, but it is expected that Stephanie and Shane will run each show separately. The interesting thing is that both of them are reportedly expected to be babyface authority figures at first, which is a very unique direction for this brand split. Past brand splits usually saw one brand with the babyface authority figure and one with the heel authority figure. When the first brand split started, Ric Flair (the babyface) controlled RAW while Vince McMahon (the heel) controlled SmackDown! When the general managers were introduced, Stephanie ran SmackDown! as a babyface and Eric Bischoff ran RAW as a heel. Having two babyfaces controlling the show is different and it is a fresh change from the dictatorship we’ve seen since August 2013. I’m not sure whether it is wise to have BOTH brands being run by babyfaces. The purpose of having two different shows and a brand split is to make the audience seem like both shows are unique, in talent and in storylines. I could see why at this stage, they wouldn’t want Stephanie to be a heel going forward. With her upcoming memoirs, it is understandable why the WWE want Stephanie to be perceived better by the public. Turning Shane is possible, but Shane is still a popular babyface authority figure. That would be a hugely risky endevour. I would suspect that if there’s going to be any heel authority figure around, it will be Triple H.

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There are two big names earmarked for being the top guys on both shows, with John Cena and Roman Reigns ruling the roosts. No surprises here. Which superstar will go where is a big question. If the WWE are still banking on Roman Reigns, they may want to keep him on RAW and portray him as the top guy on the main show. However, it is possible that WWE would want John on RAW to get the RAW ratings right back up. John’s got a better ratings track record than Roman, so it would make sense. If Roman is also on SmackDown!, then there’s a lot less pressure on him to succeed on the “B show.”

An interesting note which came out is that it’s not a sure thing that Brock Lesnar will end up on RAW. I wouldn’t have assumed that Brock would be on RAW either as he appeared on SmackDown! a few times in the build up to WrestleMania. I think it is better for Brock to be on RAW than SmackDown! as he does do wonders to the ratings on that show. It’ll be interesting to see where all the part-timers go.

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There is reportedly a plan in place for two world championship in the WWE, one for each show. A lot of people will argue that there should be one main belt but I personally think that you’ve got enough diversity for their to be one for each brand. I argued way back before the titles were re-unified that the roster had become too integrated in order for two world titles to be around. Now though, you have enough talent to be able to keep these two shows separated. Now everyone can have their chance at each of the titles.

The one thing which will initially drive me nuts I think is the proposed idea that the Women’s Champion would be on both shows. I kind of agree with this as there’s not enough depth on the women’s side of things to be able to do two titles. However, I am very much against the idea of seeing Charlotte on both shows. To see her this much would really drive people away, knowing that all you’ll get in women’s angles from now on is just her. I don’t think she’s talented enough to able to undertake that kind of responsibility and pull it off. If Sasha Banks wins the title shortly afterwards, it’d be much more tolerable I think.

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So another big question is when the date of the draft will be? It’s highly expected at the moment that the draft lottery/selection will take place on the July 11th edition of RAW, which will be taking place in Detroit. Funnily enough, it’s a show that’s currently scheduled to feature Brock Lesnar.

I actually think that this makes a lot of sense, considering that this will follow the July 4th edition of RAW, with reportedly a lot of belief within the company that the July 4th edition will see a serious decline in viewers in a similar fashion to a lot of the past Christmas episodes. It’ll be good for them to want to show off a huge increase in the ratings for this big draft, and I think the ratings will be quite huge for this one.

It’s actually interesting, as it’s been reported that a lot of the talent were taken back by this. According to sources, they have no idea what’s going on or where they’ll even end up in the draft. This wouldn’t be the first time, as a lot of the wrestlers had no idea about the draft selections in the past. I remember the 2008 draft, when Jim Ross was drafted to SmackDown! He blogged about it the next day, saying that he had no idea beforehand. This draft may end up causing a lot of morale issues backstage, especially if certain acts are split up. I don’t think acts like the New Day will be broken up, but maybe some of the smaller teams could be done. I can even see a team like Enzo Amore and Big Cass being broken up. They’ve surprised us in the past.

Lastly, Vince McMahon is said to be “really pumped” about the brand split and I’m pretty much pumped up too. I remember blogging about bringing back the brand split last year and how much good it’ll do. Do go back and check it out at this link as there’s a lot of advantages to this.

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Overall, great news for the future of WWE in my opinion. Short term hard work for a long term gain, as Jim Ross once said. What do you think of the news? Tweet at me @TomRobinson5199 or the @ArmbarExpress, or leave a comment below.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Woeful Booking Of Wade Barrett

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On June 7th 2010, Wade Barrett debuted on RAW as the leader of the Nexus. Going into his debut, he had won the first season of NXT with Chris Jericho as his mentor. When that first season of NXT first started, Chris Jericho was the World Heavyweight Champion. Think about that and think about the importance of that win when you consider how much the brand of NXT has developed. OK, NXT was not acting as WWE’s developmental at the time. However, it was still a huge deal for Barrett to effectively be the first champion of this revolutionary scheme by WWE. That’s huge.

What did WWE do with that? Surprisingly, they initially followed it up tremendously. Barrett debuted on RAW with his fellow NXT competitors and they destroyed the show. It was incredible. It promoted new stars. Once more, Barrett was the leader of this new rebellious group who were attacking the WWE. He had a great character which suited his position. He had a great voice, he was good in the ring and he had the means to be the next great villain in WWE. So the idea that Barrett is floating around in the middle of nowhere five years after that happened is just mind-boggling.

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Ever since that big push upon his debut, it’s hard to imagine that Barrett is where he is right now. There’s a number of reasons why he is where he is right now. The biggest thing was the Nexus having to lose to Team WWE at Summerslam 2010, with Barrett submitting to Cena. According to Jericho and Edge, it was Cena’s decision for the finish to go down like it did. Even the best of wrestlers can still win and keep the losing party over but Cena’s reported way of doing it forced the whole Nexus angle back to square on as it basically meant that after only two months, you’ve had this group lose clean to the good guys.

If the nWo were to have jobbed out to Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Sting at the Great American Bash 1996, do you really think the storyline would have gotten over like it did? No. Say what you will about WCW, they at least made the nWo a legitimate powerhouse. Here in 2010, they made the Nexus look like a joke after two months. How on earth was Wade Barrett going to recover from that? His next big wins were a win over John Cena at Hell in a Cell due to interference and Randy Orton at Bragging Rights when Cena attacked Barrett for the DQ.

I don’t mind the heels losing once in a while but if you don’t have a recovery plan so the group doesn’t get hugely effected, they’re doomed to fail. When a big heel loses, you have to protect them afterwards. It’s a recurring problem with WWE. Look at where Wade Barrett is now, having not received a legitimate main event push since he was exiled from the Nexus. This was infuriating.

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Barrett’s had his moments where you thought he was going to break out and be the next top heel. He was expected to receive a push for the title in 2012 before he got injured and his Bad News Barrett gimmick got really over. However, Barrett’s just never been able to get to that next level. You can blame bad luck due to injuries. I call it negligence by the WWE.

Sure, Barrett’s been injured a few times and his momentum has been killed a few times because of it. However, if you’re really cautious, you can get him over when he returns. However, WWE seem to be incapable of doing that. Either that or they simply don’t have a lot of faith in him to be the next big star. Well if that’s the case, why is he still employed?

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Why bother having him around if you know that you’re never going to give this great talker and great wrestler a decent push or a possible title run? You can put the Intercontinental title on him 20 times if you want. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many title runs he’s got to his name. Look at Chris Jericho. He’s held the Intercontinental title nine times but hardly anyone talks about those title reigns. They talk about the former multiple time World Heavyweight Champion. They talk about the guy that beat The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night to be Undisputed Champion. They talk about the guy that main-evented Wrestlemania for god’s sake!

Does Wade Barrett have any claim of fame that even comes close to those accomplishments? Of course not. The King of the Ring never did him any favours. A month after winning it he got into a feud with R-Truth for the crown. WWE treated this tournament like a joke. Barrett is one of only a few King of the Ring holders that have never truly become main event stars and it’s sickening.

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It’s not like Barrett can’t be a star, the WWE just won’t let him. What does it take for you to give Barrett a chance? Heck, Barrett has had a great opportunity to become a star with this European tag team with Sheamus. This European tag team might have actually been a great way to get these two over (would have been better had Rusev not got injured). What happens? You don’t even try to protect them as they get beat by the Lucha Dragons on RAW. Listen, I like the Lucha Dragons. However, they’re not going to be like a main event star in WWE. Barrett might. Sheamus MUST be booked as a main event star as he got the Money in the Bank. However, you’re booking them so poorly that not a single soul is going to take them seriously.

I asked the question earlier on about why Barrett is still employed if WWE aren’t going to do anything with him. Let me make something clear. I want Wade Barrett to be employed. However, I don’t want him employed to do nothing. That’s not going to help his morale if he is sitting on the sidelines or stuck in half-hearted storylines. If his purpose is to act as a top UK star for when the WWE comes to the UK, I’d get that. However, the UK fans aren’t going to care about Wade if you’re just going to have him there to get a big reaction once in a while. As a UK fan, I will root for Barrett as much as I can because I truly believe he deserves better. I’m sure nearly all of the WWE UK fans feel the same way. We can root for him all we want but it’s not going to help if someone writing the show doesn’t do the same.

WWE 2K16: Joey Styles Announces That Will Be In The Game

“And now thanks to the magic of live television I’m gonna show the whole world, why for seven years in ECW I was the unscripted, uncensored, loose cannon of commentary.” – Joey Styles

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A bit of news surrounding WWE 2K16. Joey Styles has tweeted out about the WWE 2K16 game and confirmed that he will be apart of the game, commentating in the Austin 3:16 showcase mode during Steve Austin’s brief run at ECW.

Here’s the tweet below…

Mikey Whipwreck along with the ECW arena were already confirmed for the game and to add that bit of authenticity, the Voice of ECW himself Joey Styles has seemingly been added to the game.

Joey Styles is an awesome addition to the game. WWE 2K15 only featured Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary, even throughout the showcase modes.

It’s already been announced that JBL will join Cole and Lawler on commentary, and Jim Ross will be providing Attitude Era commentary for Austin’s Showcase mode. So Joey Styles also getting his shot at commentary is also pretty awesome to see. Five commentators being used throughout to mix things up a bit.

Joey Styles has been working for WWE on their digital media output since leaving the commentary booth in 2008. This showcase mode provides an opportunity for Joey to return to commentary and I do like WWE Games’ insistence on staying as true to the source material as possible. If that’s the case, then there’s always the possibility that PAUL HEYMAN might be featured on commentary if they feature some of Austin’s appearances in 2001 as part of the Alliance.

That might be pushing it a bit, but seeing Joey is a great bit of news for me. I’m a huge fan of Joey.

WWE 2K16: Enzo Amore and Big Cass REVEALED – Entrance Video

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NEWS coming from WWE 2K16! One of my favourite NXT stars has been confirmed by IGN in today’s newest reveals. Enzo Amore and Big Cass’ entrance video has been released and it looks absolutely incredible. And you can’t teach that! Check out the video below.

NEWS – Ryback and Nikki Bella in violation of WWE’s 30 day title defense rule

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A bit of news regarding a few of WWE’s champions. This week on RAW, WWE Divas Champion Nikki Bella and the WWE Intercontinental Champion Ryback both became in violation of the WWE’s 30 day title defense rule in which a champion is supposed to defend his/her respective title within 30 days of their last title defense.

Ryback, who returned to WWE Television on RAW during MizTV, hasn’t defended the Intercontinental title since a house show match on July 12th against the Big Show. Ryback’s been sidelined with a staph infection in his knee which ruled him out of his scheduled title defense against the Big Show and The Miz at Battleground. However, he is expected to defend the championship in the re-scheduled triple threat match at Summerslam.

Nikki Bella hasn’t defended the Divas Championship since July 12th either, with her last defense being on the same house show in a triple threat match with Paige and Naomi. Nikki hasn’t had a televised title defense since the Beast in the East event in Japan on July 4th, where she retained her title match against Paige and Tamina Snuka. Nikki’s not been injured like Ryback, but the Divas Champion has mostly been working tag team matches ever since the “Divas Revolution” storyline began and the battle lines were drawn.

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But you’d think the WWE would at least have Nikki defend the belt once in a while? At least Ryback had a legitimate excuse, having been sidelined with an injury and will at least defend it at last at Summerslam. Nikki Bella, however, has been an active champion throughout her title reign. I’ve enjoyed this “Divas Revolution” storyline, but you’ve got to take tradition and established rules into account with regards to the storylines. It’s this kind of negligence that really devalues these titles and these extensive title reigns that they’ve been prone to do.

Of course, it is not the first time that WWE has done this. Brock Lesnar went 127 days without the defending the WWE World Heavyweight Championship during his title reign last year. Trish Stratus once went a number of months without defending the Womens championship, having been sidelined with an injury from May 2005 until September 2005. However, Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett have both recently had their championships stripped from them due to the 30 day title defense rule, with both of them being injured.

It does get a bit frustrating seeing WWE’s enforcement of the rule. It can be argued that the title defense rule is not an actual thing anymore, but Daniel Bryan and Wade Barrett have both lost titles recently because of it. So you can’t really pretend that it’s not real when it’s been enforced so recently.

Thanks to the Internet Wrestling Database for their stats and facts regarding the match histories of both Ryback and Nikki Bella. It’s a pretty useful website giving you the stats about the world of professional wrestling. http://www.profightdb.com/