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

wwe_2k17_unofficial_logo_by_ultimate_savage-d9h5npi.png

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

The three characters that have been confirmed are….

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

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

WWE.jpg

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

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

sasha-banks-620x350

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

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

goldberg-wwe-2k17

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

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

 

841b5b029f0b-600x400

“We want Sasha.”

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

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

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

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

sasha-banks-620x350.jpg

 

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

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

RAW_1160_Photo_203-3884168506.jpg

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

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

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

maxresdefault (2)

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

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

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

euy6cRkI

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

Wade Barrett And Damien Sandow Among Several WWE Releases

How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Big news coming from the WWE on Friday as eight releases were announced with the departures of Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow being the biggest ones of the lot.

With that said, there were a number of surprise releases among the group of superstars. The full list of wrestlers released were….

  • Wade Barrett
  • Damien Sandow
  • El Torito
  • Hornswoggle
  • Alex Riley
  • Cameron
  • Santino Marrella
  • Zeb Colter

What we’ll do with this post is run down everyone that was released and I will give my thoughts in the latest mass exodus of WWE talent.

 

Wade Barrett

bad-news-barrett

Barrett’s departure has been well-known for a while. He’s discussed it in the past and it appeared that he was done following his excommunication from the League of Nations. Throughout the years, for the Armbar Express, NoDQ.com, SLTD Wrestling and even WhatCulture, I’ve talked about Wade Barrett passionately. This man had everything that the WWE could want in a top heel and they really dropped the ball on him. Now granted, there were a number of times where Barrett was picking up momentum but unfortunately picked up injuries that stopped him. However, there’s also been a fair share of disregard for Barrett by the WWE writers in the past few years.

He’s been a King of the Ring winner and a multi-time Intercontinental Champion, but it still feels like Barrett was never able to accomplish any of significant value since he debuted on RAW as a part of Nexus. That angle could have made Barrett a star but whether it was down to “backstage politicking” or lack of confidence in the Nexus as a whole, Barrett was never really given a great main-event run. Despite this, Barrett’s had some great periods of getting over to a high level. As Bad News Barrett in 2014, Barrett was one of the most over acts in the entire company. It’s sad to see him go but the pressure is now on for Neville to waive the flag for England in the WWE.

 

Damien Sandow

sandow

The fact that WWE had nothing creatively for Damien Sandow to do in the last 12 months just goes to show how badly WWE screwed up the booking of this man. The fact that Damien Sandow has now been released after holding the Money In The Bank contract and being one of the most over acts of 2014 and 2015 is just an unfortunate fall from grace for the man that has received endorsements from legends such as Mick Foley.

For a company that claims to embody “sports entertainment,” it’s astonishing that they wouldn’t push Damien Sandow to the level that he could get to. After all, Damien Sandow has been entertaining with every gimmick he’s been given. Whether it’s just being the intellectual saviour of the masses or just parodying other superstars, Damien took the ball and ran as hard as he could with it. He’s like Eric Young in the sense that he could make any gimmick work. It boggles my mind how WWE never gave him a legitimate run as a main-eventer considering how over Damien got.

 

El Torito

El-Torito

El Torito was a surprise release. I actually liked El Torito and he actually had a lot of value as a little fella that children could get invested in. Not only that but he could actually work in the ring as a luchador. As a suitable replacement for Hornswoggle as the top… little man in the company, El Torito was the right man. I know that his character didn’t get over to a tremendous degree but he was good enough to be a great little lower mid-card character that could keep the crowds happy. I guess the WWE didn’t really have a lot of future plans for him but you could tell that anyway as soon as he broke up with Los Matadores in an angle which went… nowhere.

Torito, much like a lot of these guys, just didn’t seem to have a place in the company anymore. Especially with Los Matadores being repackaged back to Primo and Epico, there was not much else for Torito to do.

 

Hornswoggle

hornswoggle

Hornswoggle had already been on the company’s bad books ever since his suspension last year. Taking his inactivity afterwards into account, this was the least surprising release for me. After ten years of goofy angles, which include being Vince McMahon’s illegitimate son and being the anonymous general manager of RAW, what else could Hornswoggle offer in terms of storylines? He did pretty much all he could with WWE and now’s the time for him to move on. You gave us some of the most unique and bizarre wrestling angles of all time and even reigned as the final Cruiserweight champion but this is the end of the road unfortunately.

NOTE: It’s actually already been confirmed that Hornswoggle is starting up with Global Force Wrestling as… Swoggle.

 

Alex Riley

alex_riley-_bio16

Again, this was an inevitability. Alex Riley had been in NXT for years in hopes of revitalising his wrestling career. He feuded with Kevin Owens and then really just floated around in the NXT roster after that. Riley had also been very outspoken on Twitter about how WWE was using him on the main roster and on NXT.  Really, there was little chance of anything major happening for Riley in the near future.

There was a time where it really felt that WWE were going to get behind him after he broke up with The Miz in 2011. He got some big pops as he feuded with him and even BEAT him at Capitol Punishment 2011. Considering that he beat Miz, right after he dropped the WWE title to John Cena, that shows you just how much stock they had in him. He had segments with Cena and Steve Austin and it looked for all the world like they were really going to push him to be the next top babyface. He had the charisma for it anyway.

However, for whatever reason, Riley’s push was dropped and he was really never able to recover again. The big reason about why Riley’s push was ended was reportedly due to a confrontation he had with John Cena backstage. It was probably in Riley’s best interests to not get on the bad side of these top guys in the company, but it was a shame that his full potential was never realised before he parted ways with WWE.

 

Santino Marella

santino_marella_bio

Santino had been retired as an in-ring competitor for a number of years. Santino’s gave us many years of laughs and entertainment but it was very difficult for Santino to make a significant contribution to the company strictly as an ambassador and in a non-wrestling position. With several big legends on the pay-roll in the same role as Santino, there was little need for him anymore.

You’ll be missed Santino!

 

Cameron

95d2a7917087e0e3ac0651b00520220a_crop_north

As strange as this may sound, Cameron was the most shocking release of all. The reason I say this is because I truly believed that Cameron was making a serious effort to contribute more to the company. Whether it was going back to NXT to develop her wrestling skills or taking part in outside projects, I think Cameron was trying really hard to make the WWE realise that she wanted a place in her company and that she could deliver. Despite all of this, with the sudden increased demand of women’s wrestling, Cameron was going to have a difficult time attempting to live up to that standard set by the likes of Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Paige and Bayley.

Cameron did have a number of off-screen incidents while in WWE, including her infamous DUI where she reportedly tried to bribe a policeman and didn’t tell WWE about it. She also had the incident on RAW where she tried to pin Naomi on her stomach. Despite her recent efforts, I guess it’s time for Cameron to say girl bye.

 

Zeb Colter

zeb-colter

Colter was sailing in the same boat as nearly everyone else that was released, in the sense that there was not a lot for him to do within the company anymore. He came in as the effective manager for Jack Swagger and delivered tremendously on the mic. The issue with Zeb was that he was one gimmick hit. He was really only able to deliver well with the Real American gimmick and whenever he was with Jack Swagger. When they tried to put him with Alberto Del Rio, it was a momentous disaster to the point where Del Rio has never really been able to recover.

 

What do you think of these releases? Who are you going to miss the most? Is there anyway that you’re glad to see leave? Tweet us your response @ArmbarExpress or leave a comment below.

Why Reports Of NJPW Signings Will Help WWE

bullet-club-seizes-power-in-njpw

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.

aj-styles-blue-bullet-club-gear

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.

 

TNA-Wrestling-Logo

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.

Joe-Balor-569x350

 

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.

bullet-club-new-beginning-osaka

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.

Could Kalisto Be A Star In WWE?

Kalisto

Contrary to popular belief, wins and losses are vital to those in WWE. While those in WWE are working in a kayfabe world were wins and losses are predetermined, those predetermined wins and losses make a hell of a difference to a wrestler’s rise to or fall from stardom. One win can make you a star. One loss can be the beginning of the end. However, there was one victory recently that sparked interest from the WWE universe and myself.

There were a number of wrestlers involved in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament which were seemingly brought in just to fill up the bracket. Nobody never believed that Titus O’Neil was going to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. There was no reason to believe that Tyler Breeze would win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship a month after debuting on the roster. There was no chance in hell that Kalisto from the Lucha Dragons would ever beat Ryback in the first round right? However, the whole idea of anything can happen in WWE can strike when you least expect it.

Kalisto-and-Ruback_3376641

There’s no way that Kalisto could possibly beat Ryback right? Well as the gods of unpredictability would have it, Kalisto beat Ryback in the first round for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament. Quite the shocker to say the least, but was there a lot more to the victory than just to provide a big upset?

Someone like Tyler Breeze getting a huge upset would make sense as he’s just arrived on the main roster. Someone like Kalisto though is different. Kalisto first arrived on the main roster in March as part of the Lucha Dragons. It’s not like Kalisto was ever built up to be a singles star. It did seem that WWE was trying to promote Kalisto as the star of the team as he usually the one tagged in for the hot tags and he’s got the more flashy moves in him than Sin Cara. However, there seemed to be no real intent of pushing him to challenge for the Intercontinental Championship or anything serious like that. He was just another part of the roster.

On the other hand, Ryback had just been coming off losing his Intercontinental title and has received a number of pushes since he was repackaged as Ryback in 2012. When looking at things like that, there was no real reason for Kalisto to beat Ryback at all unless it meant that there was something  big in store for the high flyer.

057_SD_11102015ej_0824-1968440908-642x336

What does WWE want to do with Kalisto? Do they want him to eventually be their top Mexican representative so they can build a bigger audience in that part of the world? Do want him to join a number of high flyers in WWE to build a Cruiserweight Division? What motivation could WWE have had which would have them put Kalisto over Ryback in the first round of the tournament?

On RAW, Kalisto was beaten in the quarter finals by Alberto Del Rio. As much as I love Del Rio, I had a problem with WWE ending this “Cinderella story” before it even began. The unlikely contender defying the odds was the key story going into that match but it was quickly ended by Del Rio. So it was not like Kalisto was going to make it to Survivor Series as pushing Del Rio as a main eventer is a big priority for WWE. However, there’s obviously enough intrigue for WWE to possibly do something with him. In today’s WWE, having something to do is a hell of a lot better than having nothing.

RAW_1153_Photo_137-670640200

I’m going to sort of turn this into a “How I Would Book” post for a brief moment as I believe Kalisto losing to Del Rio actually sets things up nicely for if WWE were to ever try to push him. If you’ve ever watched Lucha Underground, AAA or any form of lucha libre, you’ll know that there’s a lot of pride involved. Kalisto should be portrayed as a proud warrior that seeks to be the best wrestling has to offer. Him beating Ryback and losing to Del Rio teaches him that he does have what it takes to become a star but still lacks something (possibly motivation) to truly unlock his full potential.

That’s Kalisto’s motivation as he requests more singles matches. He loses initially but then is able to pick up that one win again against someone like Kevin Owens or Cesaro. He’s starting to learn from his mistakes and looks better and better every time he’s in the ring. Kalisto then gets on a roll from this win and he and Sin Cara team up again and eventually earn a shot at the tag titles at Royal Rumble or Fast Lane. They come close but they eventually get beat. Kalisto is given an opportunity to compete for the United States Championship at Wrestlemania against the champion Del Rio, but only if he and Sin Cara split up. Cara tells him to go for it and Kalisto earns a title shot on RAW. He is finally able to beat Del Rio at Wrestlemania to capture the gold.

That was just a short idea I came up with in my head but it tells you the potential the WWE have now created with this victory that could make a star out of Kalisto.

 

Does WWE Need Another Brand Split?

raw-smackdown-600x300

In 2011, the WWE’s brand split was effectively put to an end when COO Triple H announced that the RAW and SmackDown! rosters would be featured on both shows full-time. At the time of the decision, RAW and SmackDown! had interacted with each other quite a bit for the last few years. With RAW being the main host for all of this interactivity, the gap between RAW and SmackDown! had expanded to such a degree that it was hardly a competition. Therefore, the SmackDown! stars might as well just moved to RAW full-time and vice versa. In 2013, the merge was cemented by the merging for the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships to from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

To be honest, I originally was all for the two brands coming together again. If everyone is fighting for one championship and everyone is on the same level, surely it’d promote competition within the superstars to get their time in the spotlight. On RAW and SmackDown!, it was much easier for these wrestlers to get time on television with a smaller roster to compete with. Now, the roster is so huge that it could have been an incentive for everyone to step up their game. However, my feelings about the decision have seemingly reversed.

triple-h-hulk-hogan-kevin-owens-sasha-banks-jimmy-hart-ses-1

I mentioned earlier that the roster is so huge that it could have been an incentive for everyone to step up their game. However, those wrestlers are now having to work a much more intense schedule. They’re not just working on one or two shows every week. Some of them are wrestling on ALL of their shows! Heck, we’ve seen a number of NXT stars like Kevin Owens and Sasha Banks having to appear on the main roster and NXT at the same time. The main wrestlers are now just physically and mentally drained by the heavily demanding schedule.

On the flip side, there’s the wrestlers that are barely getting a sniff of the action on the flagship shows. These active and healthy wrestlers are all backstage for the flagship shows but are hardly ever used. If their lucky, they might get an appearance on SmackDown! but Main Event and house shows are their usual schedule for the week. This is very alarming.

Randy-Orton-Sheamus-3

It’s no surprise when taking this into account as to why stars like Randy Orton are asking for lighter schedules. They just can’t give it their all when their schedules are this intense. A lot of these stars are working with injuries, which is further risking the well-beings of these wrestlers. Even with the brand split, wrestlers were working 300+ days a week. However, the WWE roster nowadays aren’t just working with one show as mentioned earlier. With the WWE Network also in full swing, the demand of content from these wrestlers are now just becoming too much.

What another brand split can do now is re-motivate those stars that are currently lost in the shuffle. What the brand split can do is re-energise those stars that are battered and bruised from working these hard schedules. Alright, it might feature a lot of hard work at first in order to get the brand split running. However, the long term benefits could be worth that initial short-term hardships.

Jim Ross mentioned this on the Q&A part of this website when he said: ““I’ve said it many times but if the brand split was truly a split and no cross booking occurred then it would be tough over the short term but would be a benefit in the long haul. I don’t look for it to happen.”

Daniel-Bryan-Facing-John-Cena

Daniel Bryan also mentioned his desire for a brand split and wanting to work exclusively on SmackDown! Not only would this spare him an extra three hours of work on RAW which is obviously much better for his well-being, the pressure would really be off him working on a show that wasn’t as micro-managed as RAW by the powers-that-be. With the ratings of RAW taking hits, all eyes will no doubt be on RAW internally.

With that being said, Jerry Lawler has actually mentioned that SmackDown! could possibly be going live in 2016. Therefore, interest in the product internally could end up being just as important as RAW. The flagship show RAW is obviously their main priority as it attracts the most viewers and is the main driving force for their WWE Network. However, now WWE are adding more pressure on themselves by having SmackDown! potentially go live as well. The SmackDown! scripts would be a lot more micro-managed with the pressures for it to succeed.

WWE-Brand-Split-600x250

I don’t think WWE should take that mentality for RAW and duplicate it for SmackDown! SmackDown! doesn’t fit the same mould as RAW any more and is not possibly going to get their ratings as good as RAW’s. If that’s the case then what is there to lose by having SmackDown! being a lot more experimental than RAW. The pressure is not as extreme so let the writers have a bit more fun with the roster it has. If a brand split was introduced and the writing staff was once again split up, the SmackDown! writers could be more ambitious which is not a bad thing. Writers would be ambitious to beat the competition which Paul Heyman always stated was his driving force as SmackDown!’s head writer. He wanted to make new stars and beat RAW in terms of it’s programming. He wanted to break the mould. If the brand split caused the writers to act this way, how is that necessarily a bad thing?

Bleacher Reporter’s Andy Soucek highlighted how damaged the narrative had become for WWE with so much to keep up with for the viewers.

He said: “What is maybe the most damaging aspect of the end of the brand split, is that WWE has now made it painfully hard to follow the entire narrative of WWE. When Raw and Smackdown were separate rosters, a viewer could keep up with their favourite wrestler in two hours a week.”

756299wwe-raw-smackdown-superluchas1-1417328709

This is a move that would benefit the wrestlers. This is a move that would benefit the writers. This is a move that would benefit the TV Networks that are getting better programming and possibly better ratings. There’s a lot of people that would benefit in the long run from the brand split being re-introduced. The question is would WWE ever consider doing it? I’d like to think that they would when the over-flowing roster and burned out writers start to seriously effect the product. What I’m really concerned with is whether they’ll do it before it’s too late. What if SmackDown! is taken off the air before this brand split could even happen? Then what? Will they introduce NXT as their second show? That’s all filled with developmental stars and wouldn’t solve the over-expansion issue. Before this all goes down, something’s got to give. The brand split must go down.

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

wwe-nxt-logo

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.

Joe-Balor-569x350

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…

005_NXT_10082015jg_0194-3503661484-600x337

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.

011_NXT_10082015jg_0269-778772476-600x337

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.

img_9148

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.