Retro Express – Bad Blood 2003

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Once upon a time, WWE used to be pretty big on building up interesting storylines for their wrestlers. From the opening act to the main-eventers, everyone involved in the show had a reason for being there. On Bad Blood, as amazing as it is, everyone on this show had a reason for being there. Everyone from Theodore Long at ringside for the opening match to Mick Foley as the special referee in the main-event. As simple as this show was put together, did the storyline work pay off with RAW’s first brand-exclusive US pay-per-view of 2003?

 

WWE Bad Blood 2003

Date: June 15th 2003

Brand: RAW

City: Houston, Texas

Attendance: 10,000

 

The Dudley Boyz vs Christopher Nowinski and Rodney Mack w/Teddy Long

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As mentioned earlier, this was a heavy storyline time for WWE. Every little program on Monday Night RAW in 2003 did its best to tell a storyline, including this simple tag team match with the Dudleyz facing Rodney Mack and Christopher Nowinski. Teaming up the Harvard graduate Nowinski with the new up-and-comer Rodney Mack, combined with the black supremacy advocate Teddy Long as their manager, was a bizarre combination to say the least. However, at least they got something. Not that I’d want to do an angle like this or anything, as I wouldn’t, but at least it gave the audience a reason to take notice once they got on television.

They did a backstage segment on Heat where Teddy Long pestered D-Von Dudley, questioning why his brother Bubba always told D-Von the get the tables. At least there was more to this match than just throwing two tag teams together. Giving D-Von an angle going into this match at least gets fans interested in him. Rodney Mack was also undefeated going into this event.

Mack and D-Von began angry lock-up before the match even began. We got early “we want tables” chant. Mack had a seriously hard time selling for the Dudleyz. The Dudleyz started off well and Bubba was a great babyface but then the distraction came from Teddy. Teddy was on the apron distracting Bubba and Bubba began waiting for Mack to jump him. He waits and waits and waits until Mack came in to throw a horrible clothesline.

We got a “Harvard sucks” chant directed at Nowinski. Mack hit a pretty decent spinebuster. Bubba got the hot tag, which included the big man hitting a top rope crossbody onto Nowinski! Keep in mind, this was not the slimmest guy in the world! A big man flying like that is very much a joy to see!

Nowinski, who was wearing a metal face protector worth $30,000 according to Jim Ross, tried to use it to no avail. Mack went for the “Black Out” submission but it was countered. The Dudleyz hit the “Wassup” while Teddy was yelling on the apron. Bubba told D-Von to the table but Teddy got in his way, tying into the segment from earlier. Mack attacked D-Von from behind while Nowinski hit Bubba with the metal mask and pinned him.

This was a slightly-below average tag team match with Mack being rather sloppy while the Dudleyz tried their best to get a good match out of him. Nowinski seemed to just be there. In terms of promoting new talent, the right team won. In terms of who the better workers were however, the wrong team won.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler talked about the Redneck Triathlon scheduled between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff. The Redneck Triathlon would consist of three rounds, with the first round being a burping contest and the second round being a “pie-eating” contest. Jerry was excited for the pie-eating contest. Now, I remembered the beginning and the end of this Redneck Triathlon. The pie-eating contest was what I couldn’t remember and it did strike me as odd regarding Jerry’s comment about the pie-eating contest. In hindsight, I should have known what that pie-ating contest was ACTUALLY about. More on that later.

We began with the burping contest, with JR claiming to have once won a burping contest in the eight grade. Both gladiators were stood with Terri Runnels doing the introductions while Stone Cold drank beer. Terri went over the rules as Stone Cold did starfish jumps, which is the perfect way to prepare for a burping contest. There would be three rounds of burps, with the loudest combined burps winning the contest. Bischoff went first and delivered a weak burp. This was probably the only legitimate burp in the whole thing. Then it was Austin’s turn. Some may have been upset that the majority of the burps were all sound effects pipped in by the production group and it that it was not a legitimate burping contest. However, this burp was delivered so well that you just couldn’t not laugh at it. Jim Ross’ and Jerry Lawler’s laugh after Austin “unleashed” this burp was great! This was exceptional delivery by production and by Stone Cold’s expressions.

Austin demanded another beer as Eric did his second burp. It was a decent attempt by Eric but Terri was disgusted.  Austin had a pretty weak second burp, which the Texas crowd loved. Eric was also disgusted by this and then delivered his third burp, which was slightly above average. Austin got the last laugh as he unloaded with a long final burp, with the later part of it sounding like a toilet was being flushed!

Austin won and then delivered a post-contest promo, congratulating Eric on being a good competitor and himself for winning such a competition. His UFC-like promo was actually pretty funny! Eric told Austin to see a doctor and that was that. Austin was 1-0 up in the Redneck Triathlon.

Moments like this really made me love the Austin and Bischoff co-general manager deal, with Eric almost coming off as likeable as he was involved in these funny angles with Austin. The crowd loved this burping contest as did I.

 

Test vs Scott Steiner for the managerial services of Stacy Keibler

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A lot of you reading this might not believe your eyes but Scott Steiner is probably one of my favourite wrestlers of all time. This guy was just one-of-a-kind in terms of his in-ring style, his promos and just the character as a whole. I ALWAYS paid attention whenever this guy was around.

In WWE around this time though, he hadn’t had the greatest of starts since his return at Survivor Series 2002. His program with Triple H, including a truly devastatingly bad World title match at Royal Rumble 2003, had seen Steiner’s stock drop significantly. Now he’d been put with Test and Stacy Keibler, as the two vied for the affection of the lovely Stacy.

This match was by FAR not one of the greatest technically gifted matches I’ve ever seen. I can’t even consider this a good match as far as the in-ring side of things is concerned. As far as the entertainment however, this match was in a league of its own and mostly because of Steiner.

One of the other highlights of this match was Stacy Keibler, who looked amazing on this particular show. Stacy tried to get in the ring but her “ex” Test yanked her off the apron to berate her. As amazing as it sounds, the spot that followed was one of the highlights of the entire pay-per-view and it was the mother of all botches! Scott got onto the apron as he had to save this love interest, who was in peril at the hands of the bad guy. This was Mario saving Princess Peach from Bowser. Mario would jump in and save the day. Scott Steiner ALSO decided to jump in and save the day! He leaped off the apron but didn’t have his balance right, so he slipped and plummeted down. He landed on the floor but at least he had the instinct to put his hands up for the double axe handle that had obviously been the original spot. He drops down, hits Test in the knee and Test slips as if he slipped turning around in the shower. This was one of the all-time great botches in the history of wrestling and it was actually a lot more entertaining than if he had just successfully pulled off this double axe handle!

So Scott Steiner beat up Test and when they got into the ring to start the match, Test begged off Steiner. Now, there have been many babyfaces that have fallen for this obvious trap set by the heels to lure him into trouble. These spots make the heroes seem like such fools. Scott Steiner was not like that as instead of backing off, Steiner said “Nah. Fuck You!” and beat up Test some more! Not that I’d encourage wrestlers to swear as they’re on the rampage but I laughed so hard at this. I’m just amazed that my DVD didn’t censor this moment as Steiner unloaded with swearing throughout this match. Steiner wasn’t having any of Test’s shenanigans.

Steiner did some press-ups and began yelling at the referee. Test used Stacy as a human shield to gain the advantage. Test then threw Steiner into the steps. I know a lot of people had mixed opinions about Test as a performer, who sadly passed away in 2007. All I’ll say is that he was effective in making people hate him! That’s a key part to be a good villain, having an unlikeabillity factor that even “great” in-ring work can’t get around. The douche level of Test’s character was high as he mocked Steiner and yelled “wait until tonight” at Stacy as he blew her a kiss. The fans chanted “you suck” as Test got the heat. Test did a sleeper hold as the fans rallied behind Steiner with “lets go Steiner” chants. Jim Ross had a very nice line about Stacy when he said that her heart was as beautiful as her face. He was… damn on point.

Steiner damn near killed Test when Test came off the top rope and Steiner caught him by the waist, and dropped him over his shoulder which I think was meant to be a belly-to-belly suplex. I like Steiner but Test must have been fearing for his well-being when Steiner caught him by the waist! Jim Ross called this a Northern Light suplex turned into a slam. Steiner ran wild. Test bounced off the rope and it appear that he was going up to take a back drop but he leaped up, and Steiner caught him in a powerbomb position. Steiner simply threw him over his shoulder and continued to run wild. This was NOT the best night for Steiner in terms of his in-ring wrestling.

Steiner kicked out of a Full Nelson Slam. Test missed a big boot but Scott hit a sloppy reverse DDT. This got a near fall and Steiner’s reaction was to simply yell “HUH?” at the top of his lungs! That was very funny. Steiner hit a pumphandle slam for a near fall. Test undid the turnbuckle when Stacy popped up on the apron. Test grabbed Stacy and said some very non-PG and not nice things about Stacy, calling her names. Stacy slapped him and Steiner almost bumped into Stacy. Test hit a big boot out of nowhere which I honestly thought was the finish! Steiner kicked out. Test grabbed the chair and pushed Stacy away with it. Test went to hit Steiner with the chair and instead hit the ropes, bouncing the chair back to hit his own head. Steiner hit the flatliner and won the managerial services of Stacy. Stacy was happy and leaped onto Steiner in celebration. Stacy got off Steiner and then began selling her backside, implying that Test’s chair push was a lot more mighty than we realised.

This was an entertaining match to watch but not by any means a good one! We had some very noticeable botches from Steiner but the heat was there for this match. Test was a good heel. The match picked up with the finish and the bully Test was in the end overcome as the two babyfaces stood up against him. Even Stacy was being brave as Test eventually let his cockiness get the best out of him and paid for it. This was fine, simple story-telling.

Match Rating: **

 

Bischoff and Stone Cold talked backstage. Stone Cold described burping as being an “art form” in Texas, which was a great line. Eric vowed to win the pie-eating contest. Eric said he did some research and invited Austin to meet some ladies, that were set to take part in the pie-eating. By taking part, I don’t mean actually eating real bakery. Apparently, THEY were the pie. In case you were wondering, this show was NOT PG in the slightest.

Eric wanted first dibs on eating the “pie” and Austin allowed this, as long as he decided what pie Eric was going to eat first. I can’t have been the only one that could see where this was going, and I’d never seen this pie-eating contest before.

 

Christian (c) vs Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship

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Picture this in your head. RAW had just recently reinstated the Intercontinental Championship that they inexplicably retired at No Mercy 2002. Christian won the title in a battle royal. Christian made his first defense of the title in a promising match between himself and Booker T, who happened to be from Houston, Texas where the Bad Blood pay-per-view was being held. You had all the potential in the world to make these two actual top stars on the red brand. The fans were going nuts for Booker T in one of the most heated moments in the entire show. This could have been something really special. Not like in the level of Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat from WrestleMania III but a memorable match that’ll be remembered through the ages. Well, spoiler alert, but that didn’t happen.

On a show which included MANY non-wrestling segments featuring Stone Cold and Bischoff, Booker and Christian got SEVEN MINUTES of wrestling which resulted in an incredibly rushed match between these two great workers. Lawler did have a great back-handed compliment when he claimed that “there’s a lot of suckas in Houston.” Jerry Lawler in 2003 had some of the best crack in all of WWE in 2003! With that said, Lawler was pretty bad for the large majority for this match on commentary which we’ll get to. Jim Ross claimed that Christian leaving as the champion would be a miracle, which I think probably did Christian more harm than good.

The match started off very well, as these two worked well together. Christian sold one particular back drop from Booker very well as he was thrown HIGH into the air. Lawler was hardly paying attention to any of this as he constantly made jokes about Booker’s previously convictions. Booker T was once a criminal and Lawler mentioned this ALL THE TIME while on commentary during this time. It’s not like if Jim Ross mentioned it and praised Booker for overcoming it. No, Lawler made joke after joke during this match. Did NOT make Booker come off well either.

Christian tried winning by putting his feet on the ropes. JR completely ignored Christian hitting Booker with the Book End, in Booker’s hometown. Booker hit an axe kick on the ropes. Booker hit a top rope dropkick and followed it up with a spinaroonie. Booker went for the Scissors Kick but Christian ran away and took the title with him. I was initially pretty upset at this as this would have been a match that ended in a count out in the challenger’s hometown. Then the referee Jack Doan got a microphone and told Christian that if he didn’t get back in the ring, he’d forfeit the title. This announcement got a big reaction but when I think about it, how did Jack Doan have the right to make this call that Christian would lose the title if he walked out? He’s not like an on-screen authority figure or anything.

So WWE teased the count out finish but the referee put a stop to that. The fans got excited at the thought of seeing a clear winner in this match. Instead, Christian runs into the ring and runs right back out. Booker chases him around the ring and they get back into the “squared circle” of WWE. Christian then grabbed the belt and hit Booker in the face, causing a disqualification.

The fans were irate with this finish, chanting “bullshit” and these chants were pretty much justified. They teased a count-out finish only for it to end in seven minutes via disqualification. THIS was a let down.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had an advertisement for Jim Ross’ cook book, which I’ve got to get a hold of one of these days! Kevin Nash was taping up his wrists as he was set to challenge Triple H for the World title in a Hell In A Cell match.

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Jerry Lawler was in the ring for the pie-eating contest. He brought out Eric and commended him for his selection of “pie” for this event. Austin came out to a BIG POP in Texas. Austin reminded Eric that he would select Eric’s pie as agreed to earlier. Austin talked about Eric being into “mature women” which further solidified that I knew what was coming. Austin questioned Eric’s ability to please a woman with Eric insisting that he would be fine. Austin called Bischoff “Eric Jerk-Off” which the crowd popped for. Austin complimented Eric’s choice of women but Austin said that Eric would not be having any of their “pie” as he brought his choice for Eric. It was revealed to be Mae Young, who was accompanied by  Fabulous Moolah. Eric had a disgusted face which almost looked like he was about to sneeze. Austin just smiled with an awesome grin on his face.

Jerry protested this decision as he claimed it was supposed to be a pie-eating contest and not “cheesecake” that would be eaten. Disgusting, Jerry. Mae stuck her tongue out and Eric insisted that Mae put her tongue back in her mouth and called her a nasty old hag. Pretty mean words from Easy E. Eric refused to eat the pie but Austin called him a chicken. Mae tried to grope Eric but he told her to get her hand off his ass. Austin called Eric a piss-ant and demanded that Lawler declare him the winner. Eric cut him off and decided to go through with it. As shocking as it was, the fans started chanting “eat the pie” to which Eric responded by kissing her. Eric thought this was enough but Austin told him that this was a pie-eating contest. Mae low-blowed Eric and she was instructed to make Eric eat the pie. Mae gave Eric the stinkface while wearing a thong. Jim Ross called this as if he’d just watched Mankind being thrown off the Hell in a Cell. Austin was laughing, with Eric being furious and demanding that Austin goes next. Austin gave Mae Young the stunner, with Mae selling this possibly even worse than when Vince McMahon sold the first stunner that Austin gave him in 1997. Austin forfeited this contest and demanded beer. It was 1-1 in the redneck triathlon.

The times certainly have changed in the “tastes” of wrestling fans! This was a NUTTY angle but I guess nothing else could be expected considering that this was an angle involving Mae Young who, god bless her soul, was willing to do ANYTHING to entertain the fans. She probably loved doing this kind of stuff and the fans seemed to love it to a degree, especially when they chanted “eat the pie” at her. Mae was an entertainer to say the least!

As for the rest of it, it’s funny how Eric won the contest but Austin still seemed like the real winner of that contest in the end. Eric won but Austin still found a way to outsmart Eric Bischoff. The fans loved it and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

We got a vignette for Gail Kim, who would be debuting soon. As a matter of fact, she actually won the Women’s Championship in her debut a few weeks later. I hope I do get to review more of Gail Kim’s matches in the near future of this Retro Express as she was a great female worker.

Jonathan Coachman interviewed La Resistance, who were Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier at this time. They were challenging Kane and Rob Van Dam for the World Tag Team Championship next. Sylvain said that this was a big night and that he hated Texas. They buried then-US President George W Bush, which got a lot of boos in Texas. They dedicated the match to then-French President Jacques Chirac. This is actually amazing when you think about the political situation for the likes of US and the UK in 2016. It was amazing that the countrymen of the US and the French actually liked the people that ran their country at the time. Meanwhile, the US currently have a president-elect that they apparently don’t want in the White House anymore. It’s amazing.

 

Kane (c) and Rob Van Dam (c) vs “La Resistance” Sylvain Grainer and Rene Dupree for the World Tag Team Championship

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As far as putting the new heel tag team over, this was NOT the way to do it. La Resistance came out and Jim Ross called them jackasses, which was actually pretty funny. La Resistance got some serious heat. There were some seriously angry fans in the front row. Funnily enough, they showed the graphic for the old World Tag Team title design from the Attitude Era but the champions came out with the new belts that had been around since 2002! As I watched this DVD, I was rather annoyed at WWE for editing out the original theme songs that RVD and Kane came out too. Kane actually had been coming out to “Slow Chemical” from Finger Eleven at that time, which is one of my favourite wrestling theme songs of all time, so seeing that not make the DVD very much upset me.

RVD and Kane beat up La Resistance, with the storyline going in being that the champions were not on the same page. RVD did a great springbroad crossbody as he took over early. La Resistance turned the tide for a bit by planting RVD with a DDT. Kane got the hot tag and ran SERIOUSLY wild on the two french men. I mean Kane was DESTROYING these men all on his own as his partner had been beaten up by these two. Kane was having to contend with the heels on his own while RVD simply WATCHED from the apron. He eventually got the tag while Kane was still getting the better of these two heels. He’s doing fine on his own and then RVD got in. As Kane is battling these men on the outside, RVD goes for a dive and hits Kane accidentally when there was no need for him to go for the dive at all. RVD was attacked and hit the Double Flapjack for the pin as La Resistance won the World Tag Team titles.

The booking of this match caused steam to come from my ears. The whole angle was that Kane and RVD were having issues but here in this match, Kane was completely doing fine on his own while RVD cost them the match by getting involved when Kane was coping fine. The fact was Kane could have beaten these men by himself and he would have retained the title. How could La Resistance possibly have been taking seriously at this point? I guess La Resistance are remembered nowadays so I guess they became somewhat of a memorable tag team. However, this match was pretty lame and pretty perplexing.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

Goldberg vs Chris Jericho

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A common trope of mine is immediately looking up Dave Meltzer’s rating for the match I just saw during a Retro Express. Mine and Meltzer’s ratings are usually right in-line but for this match, I noticed that he gave this match three and a half stars out of a max total of five. Maybe it’s a mistake to watch old matches with modern eyes but I have NO IDEA what type of match he was watching. In case you were wondering what made me un-optimistic about the actual Goldberg/Brock Lesnar match for Survivor Series this year, THIS was the match.

I know these two had heat with each other around this time but even so, the wrestlers with the biggest heat with each other can usually put together some really good matches. Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had some sublime matches back in the day. This Goldberg/Jericho match was NOT sublime.

Goldberg went for a lock-up and it was one of those lock-ups from a women’s match, that sees both wrestlers tumble out of the ring. Goldberg hit a World’s Strongest Slam as the fans chanted Y2J. Goldberg dominated early on, even gorilla pressing Jericho onto the ropes. Goldberg went for a spear through the wall but Jericho moved out of the way as Goldberg drove himself through the barricade. This actually played into the storyline going in, which Jericho claimed that he’d win the match by making Goldberg angry and sloppy. This was actually pretty good story-telling.

Jericho tried to get at Goldberg but referee Charles Robinson stopped him. I’m not sure why he did this as it wasn’t like the doctors came out to check on Goldberg. Jericho drove Goldberg into the ringpost. Goldberg was bleeding and his arm had been hurt from the spear, which Jericho took advantage of. Goldberg was working with one arm, actually selling the injury. Now, Goldberg rarely had to take the heat in many of his WCW matches. The idea was that Goldberg would destroy the opponent, hit his finishers and beat him early. In WWE however, he was not booked in this manner. He had to sell for Jericho so he tried to work with one arm. While he did this, his ring-work with one arm was pretty bad. If in doubt, DON’T HAVE GOLDBERG SELL.

Jericho locked on a Fujiwara Armbar. Jericho was caught off the top with a high knee. The fans started booing. Goldberg was not able to pull off working with one arm, struggling with an one armed hip toss. “Goldberg sucks” chants began to roar from the crowd. Jericho hit a dropkick and Goldberg waffled to the ground. We got more boos. Jericho hit the lionsault on the face of Goldberg for a near fall. Jericho went for a Lionsault and Goldberg was supposed to catch him but it went ALL WRONG. Goldberg hit the spear and we got even LOUDER “Goldberg sucks” chants. Goldberg went for the jackhammer but Jericho caught Charles Robinson in the eyes and hit a low-blow on Goldberg. This got a lot of cheers and big Y2J chants. Keep in mind that Goldberg was supposed to be the face and Jericho was supposed to be the heel!

Jericho tried the Walls of Jericho but Goldberg powered out, hit the spear and jackhammer, and won the match. And to put a cherry on top, Goldberg slid outside of the ring and got in the face of a fan that booed him throughout the match. A wonderful way to put over Goldberg as a babyface.

To be fair, Goldberg did actually get cheers when he won the match and Jericho tried ALL that he could but even he could not get a good match out of this man. Jericho’s on my list of greatest workers of all time as he had a reputation, in my mind, of being able to have a good match with everyone he wrestled. I remember him having a good match with Ryback at Money In The Bank 2013 for crying out loud! Ryback was mocked as being a “copy” of Goldberg, yet Goldberg couldn’t even have a good match with Jericho. This will be hard to hear for a lot of fans but Goldberg had a HORRIBLE night here.

Match Rating: *1/2

 

They showed a pig pen and Lawler questioned whether Jim Ross had brought his relatives along to the show. Terri was with Austin and Eric again. They spun the wheel for the third round and it landed on “sing-off” which Austin was upset about. Austin asked Terri if she thought that Steve was any good. She said no. Eric vowed to beat Austin in front of these rednecks.

 

Shawn Michaels vs Ric Flair

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This was probably tied with the main-event as far as the best match for the show, with these two legends going out. Despite that, I was still a little bit let down. This was certainly not at the level of their WrestleMania 24 match but I did expect something special and I really didn’t get it to be honest.

Shawn got a HUGE reaction from the Texas crowd. The two legends messed with each other with taunts but that came to an end when Shawn slapped Ric and mocked him. There was some nice mat wrestling between the two. There was a very old school feel to this match. Shawn slapped Ric and Ric came close to doing the Flair Flop but was able to keep himself up with one foot! Michaels dove onto Ric. Remember when Steiner was able to see through Test’s attempts at begging him off? Well Ric tried to beg Shawn off in this match… and it worked. I can at least accept the possibility of Shawn being conflicted as he was wrestling his idol that he respected, and not to mention that Ric is older and more experienced than Shawn so FINE.

HBK and Flair chopped the hell out of each other. Flair did the chop block. Flair worked on the legs and locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock, that Shawn was able to get the ropes for to break it up. Flair shoved referee Earl Hebner but Earl shoved back. The second time on this show where a referee stepped over his boundaries when calling a match, three if you count Charles Robinson holding off Jericho when he shouldn’t have. Ric got cocky and Shawn made him pay with an enziguri. Flair went up to the top and of course, Shawn threw him off the top turnbuckle.

There was a great exchange when Shawn went for the Super Kick but Flair countered it into the figure four leg lock. Shawn countered this into a small package and then locked on his own figure four. This was some solid professional wrestling right here. Flair poked HBK and they traded roll-ups. HBK hit a superplex and it looked like Shawn struggled to get Flair up for this superplex. HBK got a table and set it up. Flair teased suplexing Shawn through the table but Shawn got out and ended up laying Flair onto this table.

NOW, I personally was taken out of the match a little when they brought out the table. Firstly, it’s supposed to be a regular singles match. Since when are TABLES allowed in a normal match? Yes, Shawn didn’t HIT Flair with this table but he still tried to “cheat” by using a weapon to his advantage. That, to me, should be DQ but Earl let this happen. Secondly, I was very much into the regular singles match and the old-school wrestling behind all of this. Instead, when Shawn introduced the table, it just seemed so out of place to me. I just don’t think this was the time for a spot like this.

Shawn super-kicked the interfering Randy Orton and then jumped off the top and onto Ric, going through the table. Flair bled from the back. Flair was able to take the ref out by low-blowing Earl and Shawn at the same time. HBK fired back and dropped the elbow. Shawn superkicked Flair, Orton hit Shawn with the chair and RIC FLAIR PINNED SHAWN MICHAELS.

Maybe I’m in the small minority here but the table spot just completely took me out of this match. It was a great match up until that point but to me, it just negated the point of the match which was just to see who was better. Instead, Orton and the table got involved and it just became another shenanigan-filled match on RAW. I wanted a clear-cut winner and instead I got this. I think a few fans that were in that building felt a little cheated out of this finish. It was nice to see Flair get the victory over Shawn though.

Match Rating: ***1/4

 

The time had come for the sing off. Eric came out to literally NO REACTION as we’d seen him more than anyone on this show, so the fans were kind of uncaring when he came out. Eric said he’d sing his own theme song but he instead lip-synced his own theme song which I thoroughly enjoyed, as did he based on the way he “sung” this! Austin cut in and called him out on his lip-sync. They went back-and-forth on this like they were kids arguing about the smallest things. Austin told Eric that he sucked and ordered him to do it again. Eric sung badly and Austin called him pathetic. Austin suggested they re-spin the wheel and it came up with “Pig Pen Fun” which involved the pig pen from earlier on. Austin said that whoever threw their opponent into the pig pen would be the winner. Austin deputised the crowd to stop Eric from leaving. Someone threw Eric back in from the crowd.

Austin beat up Eric, stomped a mudhole and hit a Stone Cold Stunner. Eric actually sold this pretty well, with his selling of it probably being around 5000% better than Mae Young selling it earlier on in the night. Austin took Eric to the stage and threw him off it, with Eric landing in the safest way possible. Austin was declared the winner by Lilian Garcia as he drank some beer. Jim Ross had an awesome line in which he claimed that “those pigs may need counselling being so close to Eric Bischoff!” That was a serious contender for line of the night. Austin celebrated for about 30 hours but the fans didn’t seem to mind.

The fans loved all this and to be fair, I enjoyed a lot of the moments from this Redneck Triathlon. However, this went on way too long for me to care at the end. The burping contest was good and Austin had some brilliant banter but in the end, it was way too long. The ending made me feel as if this were a house show, which I don’t think was the purpose. This did not feel like it should have been on pay-per-view and it does rather upset me at how long this went, considering that Booker and Christian only went seven minutes.

 

Triple H (c) vs Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match for the World Heavyweight Championship with Mick Foley as the special guest referee

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I have to say something about the video package they did for this match. They had the video package where they recapped the rivalry and did an amazing job at selling you on the idea that this type of match was important, rare and dangerous. The music, which was Headstrong by Trapt, fit right in as HHH, Foley and Nash beat the hell out of each other during a RAW segment and it was wonderful stuff. The video packages back in the “ruthless aggression era” used to be quality stuff.

I actually went through a phase with a mate of mine where he used to rave at me everyday about this song, and actually serenaded me with it everyday! And you know what… I had no problem with this. If you’ve never heard of Headstrong by Trapt, PLEASE go and listen to it. It’s fantastic stuff.

The special referee Mick Foley actually got the biggest reaction out of everyone, which should tell you how much the fans cared about Triple H and Kevin Nash. Triple H tried to poke the bear that is Mick Foley but Nash clobbered him. Nash smashed HHH’s with elbows. Nash slowly beat up HHH by driving him into the ringpost and the cell wall, as well as the corner of the cell. The fans cared little for Nash at this point. Nash threw HHH into the steel steps. Nash tried throwing the steps at HHH but thank got that Hunter ran out of the way as that would have been bad news.

In a pretty creative spot, Nash went for a Jackknife Powerbomb but Triple H used the cell itself to get out of it. HHH got out a toolbox and smashed Nash in the knee and the head with a hammer. Foley took the hammer from Triple H and pushed him down. Foley challenged HHH but HHH backed off. HHH grated Nash’s head with the cell wall. After a struggle, HHH wedged a screwdriver into Nash’s head. Foley yelled at Triple H. Triple H grabbed a bat wrapped in barbed wire and hit Nash in the gut. Nash fired back with punches and smashed Hunter in the head with the bat which got a big reaction. HHH was busted open. Nash wedged the bat into the turnbuckle and did a snake eyes onto it for a near fall.  There was a “big lazy” sign in the front row.

HHH smashed a wooden create over Nash. Triple H grabbed a sledgehammer but Foley tried to wrestle it away which got some boos. It made sense why, as it seemed for all the world at this point that Foley was screwing HHH in a no disqualification match. HHH attacked Foley which got some cheers. Nash did the drop toe hold spot onto the steel steps which felt slowly done. This got a near fall. Triple H hit Nash and Foley with a chair. Foley was bleeding as he whipped out Mr Socko. He locked on the Mandible Claw, with Triple H responding by kicking Foley below the belt. Nash accidentally hit Foley and HHH with the steel steps somehow. Nash went for the cover but Foley was out.

Nash tried to revive Foley. Foley was on the apron when HHH knocked Nash into Foley, who bounce back first into the cell wall. A very risky spot if you ask me. HHH went for the pedigree but Nash catapulted HHH into the barbed wire bat still stuck in the top turnbuckle. Nash hit the jackknife, Foley made the count but HHH kicked out. This was actually a GREAT near fall. I think a lot of people in that crowd thought that was the finish.

Triple H crawled for the sledgehammer and instead of pushing away the sledgehammer that he can see or grabbing it himself, Nash simply grabs Triple H by the hair. HHH made him pay with a sledgehammer shot to the head. HHH hit the pedigree and that was that.

The first part of this match was very much boring. Nash beating him up forever got no heat it seems but it picked up a little in the second half. The thing that was weird to me was that Nash and Foley both tried to screw Triple H, and Triple H is supposed to be the heel. In the end, the right man won. Judging on the crowd reactions, a Nash title run would not have gotten a great amount of interest from the RAW audience.

I thought this was a good match considering it’s a long match involving Kevin Nash and I personally thought this was the best match on the show.

Match Rating: ***1/3

 

This was definitely a memorable pay-per-view to say the least. Every match seemed to stand out to me, for many different reasons. I felt that the booking for a lot of these matches were really flat, although the main-event ended up being much better than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of disappointing matches that struggled for time due to the Redneck Triathlon which took up way too much time. The Texas crowd loved this one for whatever the reason was but I can’t say that I’m too keen to watch it again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, this is… infuriating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

29/08/16 RAW Review – Kevin Owens Wins The Universal Championship, Triple H Turns On Seth Rollins

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Guess what? We’ve got a lot to talk about regarding the August 28th 2016 edition of Monday Night RAW. Indeed this will go down as an historic edition of the “flagship” WWE show, as a new Universal Champion was crowned in a shocking manner.

We had the fatal four way elimination match involving Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big Cass and Kevin Owens. Big Cass was eliminated after several moves to put the big man down, followed by a big frog splash from Kevin Owens for the clean pin over Cass. Then we had the finish, with an awesome three way battle between Rollins, Reigns and Owens. Reigns had the upper-hand and hit the spear on Seth on the outside, when TRIPLE H came from out of nowhere to give the Big Dog a pedigree on the floor. Triple H rolled Rollins and Reigns into the ring, and Rollins pinned Reigns to eliminate him.

This came down to the two heels in Rollins and Owens. So Triple H rolls Owens into the ring, picks up both men and hits ROLLINS with the pedigree. Owens, with a shocked look on his face, scurries over to pin Seth Rollins and become the champion. Triple H raises Owens’ hand as the fans chant “you deserve it” after Rollins and Reigns were both screwed! Kevin Owens is the new Universal Champion.

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Suffice to say that I was extremely shocked at this outcome. Literally the day before RAW, I told everyone that would listen on Twitter that Kevin Owens would not win and that Seth Rollins would become the champion. I ignored all of the reports of future plans and all that jazz, and stuck to my gut feeling. I thought to myself that there was no way they’d put the belt on Kevin Owens right now. Well low and behold, Kevin Owens is the champion and Seth Rollins was turned into a babyface due to the betrayal of Triple H.

What’s funny about all of this is that WWE posted an interview with Kevin Owens on social media, and Owens seemed so out of character when talking about this being the biggest night of his life. It was not like he was the boastful Kevin Owens character. He was calm and relaxed. During the opening talking segment with all four contenders on RAW, Owens seemed like the only one that was not his usual self. It made me think that possibly something was going to happen, but I still was going with Rollins.

As it turns out, I was wrong. Apologises to everyone on Twitter for me getting this one wrong, although this is one of the situations where I was kind of glad that I was wrong. They did pull off the title victory and the Rollins babyface turn really well. I was so shocked at what I was seeing and the fans were really into the main-event match. As far as the presentation of the whole thing, WWE knocked it out of the park.

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Now let’s ask the million dollar question… was this the right move? Somebody asked on me on Twitter last night about who I thought was going to win. I looked at every one of the challengers and I thought that nobody was really IN a good position to win the title at all!

Big Cass is clearly not ready to be wrestling at that level, although he did fit in and get pretty over last night. No complaints on how he was used and he didn’t seem out of place to me at all. I really didn’t want to see a Roman Reigns title reign right now, as I still feel that he should be as far away as possible from the world title at the moment so he can build himself up again. The Rusev stuff did help him out and to put the title back on him would be unwise at this point, so I ruled him out. As for Kevin Owens, I really didn’t think he was in a good position either. Considering that he’d been doing comedy segments with Chris Jericho for the last month, the idea that he’s suddenly supposed to be the top man in the company is a little far-fetched. Of course, Finn Balor’s injury did change plans for WWE. However, with the knowledge of hindsight, WWE should have used Owens better leading up to the title win. He didn’t even beat Neville clean last week!

Finally, Seth Rollins was also not in a good position either. Seth won the WWE World title at Money In The Bank but was quickly robbed of the title by Dean Ambrose following a cash-in. In Rollins’ title match on the RAW before Battleground, it ended in a draw. In Rollins’ title match on the SmackDown! before Battleground, he got beat clean. At Battleground itself, he was unsuccessful again. At SummerSlam, he got beat clean by Finn Balor. Him winning the title right now would not have made a lot of sense to me.

Then a report came through, before the show, suggesting that Seth was going to turn into a babyface. I thought about it and, with the exception of Money In The Bank and Battleground (where he wasn’t the one pinned), there was no real reason to want to feel sympathy for Seth up until this point. The injury that Finn Balor sustained during Seth’s powerbomb to the barricade spot also didn’t help out. Trying to get across the idea that Seth is now somebody to root seemed strange to me, considering everything that happened.

I still think that Seth will make a really good babyface, but I think that they really should have done this turn sooner rather than later. All the buzz about Seth following his return has came and went to be honest, and it’s hard to find sympathy for Seth according to the story.

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Regardless of this, the fans loved the show last night as well as the conclusion. I would assume that it’ll be Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins at Clash Of Champions. I’m not sure where Triple H and Chris Jericho will stand during all of this. Maybe Owens and Jericho will go their separate ways, although there was nothing last night that would suggest such a thing. Triple H and Seth Rollins could be a match down the road at WrestleMania possibly. I’m not sure that Triple H will be a regular on-screen figure on RAW, as that would lead to three authority figures on RAW. Unless Foley is fired and Triple H replaces him as general manager or something, I’m not particularly sure how this will work.

I will mention one more concern I have for Kevin Owens. I couldn’t help but make this comparison but this title win reminded me of Sheamus’ title win last year. Owens just came off as the right guy, in the right place and at the right time, as opposed to a legitimate champion. Not to mention that Triple H was the one that essentially gave Kevin Owens the championship, according to the storyline. HHH pedigreed Roman and Seth, so it was HHH’s move that beat the two men and not Kevin. Kevin’s only claim to fame was that he pinned Big Cass clean. That doesn’t bode well for his future, I think. At least if he’d hit the pop-up powerbomb, you’d be putting over Kevin’s finisher.

The impression I got from this was that Triple H was viewed as SO superior to everyone in this match, as it was his move that beat the two favourites going in. It’s not necessarily the end of the world for Kevin, but I feel that big wins on RAW and in pay-per-views are needed for Owens to legitimatise himself.

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I’m not sure what the plan is for RAW at the moment, although there’s rumours going around that Lesnar will be challenging for the Universal title at the Royal Rumble. Whether Owens makes it that long as champion remains to be seen but if there’s a chance he’s going up against Lesnar at the Rumble, he needs to get some serious victories under his belt.

Overall, I think this was a shocking start to a brand new storyline for the RAW main-event scene. I’m very thankfully that there’s some new blood in the title picture now, as we’ve really seen enough of Roman vs Seth for the time being. Maybe Roman can challenge Owens down the line but it looks like they’ve got some kind of plan for Owens, Rollins and HHH. I know Balor did get injured but in the week since last week’s RAW, surely they’ve got something in the works.

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Let me know by tweeting me @TomRobinson5199, @ArmbarExpress or by leaving a comment of what you think about the new Universal Champion. Is it the right time for Kevin to be champion? Should Seth’s babyface turn have been done sooner? What do you think will happen in the next few months! Let me know and let me just say this… RAW put on quite the show for SmackDown! to compete with this week!

Money In The Bank 2016 Review – The Shield’s Main Event Dominance

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Money In The Bank was a pretty important and monumental pay-per-view for WWE. Not only would a new Money In The Bank holder be decided, but we had two of the biggest and most anticipated matches in recent memory. John Cena and AJ Styles finally had their dream match and Roman Reigns finally defended the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Seth Rollins – the man that was never beaten for the title.

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“The New Day” Big E (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs “The Vaudevillains” Simon Gotch and Aiden English vs Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in a fatal four way tag team match for the WWE Tag Team Championship  

This may have been the match that has changed my perception of the idea of a fatal four way tag team match. Despite seeing them too often, at least these tag team matches will give you a lot of action and chaos which could see anyone fight each other. In one fatal four way tag team match, the New Day tried winning the match by having Big E pin Kofi! This tag team match at Money In The Bank made me realise something… this type of match is hard for the viewers to keep up with.

It was hard when trying to keep track of who were the legal men. There were moments that I got confused, as I questioned several times who the “legal men” of the match were. There was a lot of chaos and complication with this match, with a lot of badly screwed up spots. The huge spot that was messed up was when Enzo and Cass hit their finisher. They went for the pin and the referee counted one, two, three and then Luke Gallows broke it up. Yes. Luke Gallows failed to break up the pin in time as the fans all believed that Enzo and Cass won the match. The announcers didn’t mention this as the crowd chanted “that was three” as the match rolled on.

So this match was already a mess by this point and then it got worse. Gallows and Anderson hit the Magic Killer and Anderson made the cover. In an impressive feat of strength, Big E picked up Anderson and was able to get him up from that position into the set-up for the Big Ending. This would have been an awesome finish, if it were not for what happened next. Gallows is leaning on the ropes and watches as his partner is in peril as Big E is about to drop him. Gallows stares at him and does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The reason he does nothing is because supposedly, Big Cass missed his cue for whatever came next. So for a good ten seconds, Gallows stares at Big E as he’s got Gallows’ partner Anderson up for the Big Ending. THIS WAS… EMBARRASSING.

The New Day picked up the win but I just completed hated this match. I thought that the New Day should have won as Anderson and Gallows winning the belt should be in a normal tag team match with the New Day.

 

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Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

I was so incensed when I heard that this match was happening again at Money In The Bank and I actually have to a respond to a comment I saw on Facebook. Somebody on Facebook made a joke about Corbin and Ziggler fighting forever and some fool replied by mocking the fans who are now “complaining” after getting more feuds with slow burns. He talked about the fans wanting more lengthy storylines and then completely burying programs like this.

Let me explain something to this “fan” who made this comment. Here’s the issue with this theory. The fans do want detailed feuds that go on for months, provided that they are good. That’s all well and good. However, this feud is not good. This feud is not interesting. The WWE has not given us any new reasons for wanting to see these two fight again. The whole feud is based around one man winning a match, an attack from the loser which leads to another match. This is a cycle that is going on for some many feuds in WWE. This mindset does not give fans reasons to want to keep watching these matches. Instead, they zone out unless the match happens to be between wrestlers like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

I actually remembered back to a feud between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels in 2008. I thought about this as I was writing up my Retro Express piece on Unforgiven 2008, which featured their unsactioned fight. You know what was so great about that feud? Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho and the WWE gave us a reason to want to keep watching these two go at it and their feud lasted from April 2008 to November 2008. That’s a really long period of time but they were able to keep the audience invested into that feud as they gave us something different each month. The feud stared with the question being asked of whether Jericho could trust Shawn. Then it became a blood feud, with Jericho turning on Shawn for lying to him. Then it became a personal feud, as Jericho punched Shawn’s wife at Summerslam. After Shawn destroyed Jericho and after Jericho won the World title at Unforgiven, it became a world title feud. The story of the feud changed each month as the WWE realised that the fans didn’t want to see these two wrestlers do the EXACT same thing each month. They wanted something different.

Ziggler and Corbin don’t give us anything like that. Not to mention that these two already did several blow-off matches, with Corbin beating up Ziggler at Extreme Rules and then Ziggler kicking Corbin in the nuts on RAW. There’s no other reason to keep the feud going, other than to waste the audience’s time. The audience felt that their time was wasted in this match. There were large chants of “boring” and “let’s go Ziggler, Ziggler sucks” among with others. With chants like that, it’s pretty obvious that the fans don’t want to see this match again.

With that said, this was an OK match. I was not blown away by it and it was boring in places but the right man won and HOPEFULLY both men can move onto different things.

 

 

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Becky Lynch and Natalya vs Charlotte and Dana Brooke

This was an OK women’s tag team match. Natalya, Becky and Charlotte are all good workers and Dana was doing fine when in the ring with these three talented wrestlers. The finish saw Dana throw Becky into Natalya, with the babyfaces clashing heads, leading to the heels picking up the win. The aftermath was the really important part.

Natalya is in tears in the ring as Becky tries to console her. Becky lifts her up as the fans start to applaud, which leads to Natalya turning on her friend Becky and attacking her. Natalya did in fact turn heel.

I don’t have a problem with Natalya turning heel and a potential feud between Becky and Natalya. Those two are really good workers and it’ll keep Natalya’s character fresh by having her be a full-blown heel for the first time in a number of years. However, the issue for me is what it took to get there.

Think about this for a moment. Natalya got beat in her last three pay-per-view matches against Charlotte and takes her anger out on Becky. Why did she attack Becky? The obvious explanation is that she was taking out her pent-up frustration but why was Becky the target? After getting beat by the heels, it did no favours for Becky and Natalya to do that angle. After losing to Charlotte and Dana, now these two losers are going to face each other in a feud. Other than personal interest in the careers of Becky and Natalya as well as the potential their matches could have, I have no other reason to see these two girls wrestle. If they had won this tag match and then they did the feud, then at least the two girls would be more interesting to the viewers. If they had the two beat the Women’s champion in a pay-per-view tag team match, fans might start to wonder whether that will lead to a title match for one of these women down the road.

Let’s say that they went with this. Natalya lost her two matches with Charlotte at Payback and Extreme Rules. She is very much disappointed with herself and is going into this match looking to at least get some redemption against her bitter rival Charlotte. So Natalya gets the hot tag and runs wild. She has Charlotte on the verge of tapping when Dana breaks it up. As Natalya is brawling with Dana, Becky makes a blind tag. Becky hits an exploder suplex and gets the pin or makes Charlotte tap out with the “dis-arm-her” finisher. However, Natalya is still annoyed at Becky for stealing this victory from her so she turns on Becky.

Natalya’s claim is that Becky was being selfish in stealing the victory from Natalya, when Becky knew how much a victory over Charlotte meant to her. Becky can lash back by claiming that all she did was try to win the match for her team. Natalya was in trouble with Dana, so Becky made the blind tag to make sure that she could capitalise on a weakened Charlotte. Both these women would have legitimate motivations for a feud and both of these women would be WINNERS after beating the heel tag team at a pay-per-view.

Maybe if the writers would stop going out of there way to elevate Charlotte and think about the rest of the women, maybe you could have an actually dandy women’s division. Instead, we’ve only got one women in the entire division that is even booked as a winner. Really does annoy me.

 

 

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Apollo Crews vs Sheamus

There was a lot of brawling between Apollo and Sheamus. It was very hard to get interested into this match but there was a lot of big hits with Sheamo and Crews. Crews won. The right man won in this match as the newcomer beat the veteran. I’m under the impression that this feud will lead to a rematch at Battleground, which is probably not the best route to take with these two. Keep Apollo fresh by squaring him off with other wrestlers. Him wrestling the same old mid-card talent is not going to do him any favours.

 

 

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John Cena vs AJ Styles

This match actually told a really good story. This was John Cena’s first match since December 2015 and he was up against a very active AJ Styles in this dream match. With Cena showing ring rust, AJ completely wrestled circles around the dude. Cena was constantly outmatched and out-thought by AJ as he had beaten him in every turn. This even led to Cena looking visually tired, which I’ll get onto later. AJ had all the tools to out-do him but he couldn’t put him away. When the referee was down, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up and hit the Magic Killer, giving AJ the victory.

I will say that I will give the announcers credit in the fact that they played up how this was a big dream match that was ruined by the Club. This was exactly what the finish of the match demanded. I know there are a lot of people upset with the finish, believing that AJ should have won cleanly. However, I have no problem with this finish as AJ IS THE HEEL. He is supposed to cheat every once in a while and this match demanded a screwy finish. Anyone that has any clue about who the Bullet Club was should know that the Club were such good heels as they went against Japanese wrestling tradition. Interference and shenanigans were all part of the US adaptation of wrestling, which some will argue hurt wrestling as a whole. If a match like Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi ended with interference from the Bullet Club, that would lead to the Japanese being annoyed that they didn’t get a proper finish because of the dastardly Bullet Club. Gallows and Anderson ruined the match and JBL went on about how much of a disgrace that this finish was. Why do people feel that all the heels should win every match clean? Wouldn’t that defy the logic of what being a heel is all about?

Those were the positives of the match. Let me move onto the negatives. Firstly, Big Match John returned back to his glory days in terms of calling spots really loud in the ring. I wouldn’t have so much of a problem with calling spots in a match, if everything Cena said was not picked up on the referee’s hidden mic. Cena talked A LOT during this match which is not good. I have a feeling that this will decrease over time with the next few matches these two have but it is worrying for a fifteen year veteran to feel the need to call spots this loudly.

My next complaint is actually of the announcers. I did give them credit earlier but here’s the negatives. I mentioned that John Cena could have been suffering from ring rust, which would have explained why Cena looked slow in the ring. Bryan Alvarez from Wrestling Observer came up with a much better explanation, which is probably the best sounding theory. A day or two before Money In The Bank, John Cena traveled to China for that big conference where he was talking fluently in Mandarin. A short time after this trip to China, he is out there wrestling AJ STYLES of all people in a big match and looked slow and not himself. Hopefully you all are figuring out what I’m hinting towards, so I may as well just spill it out… JOHN CENA WAS SUFFERING FROM JET LAG.

These announcers, having mentioned Cena’s trip to China during that match, failed to make the link between Cena looking slow and his trip to China. The announcers didn’t bring it up. Jet lag would have been a great way to explain it so you also protect Cena even more. They could have even claimed that AJ was staying in Las Vegas for a few days before the event, to get used to the humidity. Having been to Las Vegas myself, I can tell you for a fact that the conditions at this desert were certainly hard to get used to. I’m from England and I was going to Las Vegas so OF COURSE I would not feel like myself. John Cena had made the trip from CHINA to LAS VEGAS. Of course he was going to be knackered.

With that said, it was a very well structured match. If only these writers did a better job at explaining a lot of this booking, perhaps my opinion of this match would have dramatically rose.

 

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Dean Ambrose vs Cesaro vs Kevin Owens vs Alberto Del Rio vs Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn in a Money In The Bank ladder match

This was a really good Money In The Bank ladder match. These six have all been able to work well against each other and when you throw them together, you’re going to be in for a treat. My only major criticism, and it’s not really a big one, is the fact that this will not go down as one of the most memorable Money In The Bank matches of all time. There weren’t really a lot of memorable high-risk spots that I’ll remember in a few years time. The spot with Sami Zayn launching Kevin Owens onto the edge of the ladder was probably the closest one you’ll get, and it really was a sick bump for Owens to take. He was leaning on the ladder and the first thing that popped into my mind was a scene in the Simpsons where Homer was punched, landing on a fire hydrant and his back was arched on that hydrant. What Homer said after that punch was “this is more painful than it looks”, which was probably what Kevin Owens was thinking!

Everyone was able to get involved in the spots, including those not usually associated with this kind of match like Alberto Del Rio. We got an awesome spot from Cesaro, where he jumped off the ladder onto the ropes and then uppercutted Kevin Owens. That was one of Cesaro’s greatest uppercuts of all time and Cesaro throws some of the best uppercuts in the world. That basically means that this was one of the best uppercuts in wrestling history.

We had the usual spots of all six man battling on the ladders to reach the briefcase. They then had the ladders set up in a weird way, which allowed all six of them to do battle on the ladders. That spot might actually be one of those moments that people will remember. The end of the match saw Dean knock down Owens and win the briefcase.

I guess the reason why I don’t think that this ladder match will be that memorable is because of what happened at the end of the night being far more memorable. I sort of remembered Kane’s Money In The Bank match in 2010 when he won it, but his cash-in later that night sticks out even more. This was probably the same with Dean.

 

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Rusev (c) vs Titus O’Neil for the United States Championship

There was a great start to this match where Rusev and Titus O’Neil were outside on opposite ends to the ring. These two big bulls locked eyes, ran around the ring and clashed into each other with a massive double clothesline spot. A great big man spot to start the match.

Rusev won with the Accolade. Following the victory, we got an awesome post-match promo from Rusev. Being the absolute best heel he possibly could be, Rusev was out of the ring and stood next to Titus’ kids. He teased them about their father and told them that Titus was a loser. Then he left feeling triumphant.

I’ve got to say that Rusev will be one of the most over wrestlers in this company by the end of the year if the WWE keep going in this direction. The WWE are now well aware how great a talker Rusev is. He is tremendous at being an evil Russian and being a complete dick to his opponents and even THEIR FAMILY! He beats up these foolish mid-carders, reminds us that these mid-carders are failures and then leaves with Lana. Right now, it must be great to be Rusev! Easily my favourite thing going in all of WWE.

 

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Roman Reigns (c) vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship

I would not put this in the same realm as the last two pay-per-view main events, featuring Roman Reigns’ battles with AJ Styles. However, this was a good match between the two former Shield members. The match structure was very unique in the sense that Rollins worked the majority of the match as a babyface and Roman worked a lot of the match as a heel. There were even times when Roman mocked Seth, with Seth responding defiantly. Roman and Seth were both great in their roles for this match, which is another reason for why WWE should be pushing for a Roman Reigns heel turn. The dude is a natural big bad guy and Seth has the speed and the moveset of a babyface. Some great stuff here.

Seth was really going all out to try and test his knee, with a number of flips and dangerous moves. They even did a spot where Seth was thinking about doing the same powerbomb that he tried against Kane, which saw him blow his knee out. He hesitated but eventually did it and he seemed to have found his confidence. Not really sure whether it was wise for Seth to go all out in terms of testing out his knee.

There were some cool spots, including Seth countering Roman’s spear with a mid-air pedigree. The more I think about this spot, the more impressed I am by it. Seth was not able to hook the hands of Roman in mid-air, but the fact that he caught Roman’s head with his legs in mid-air and drove Roman head-first into the mat is an incredible feat. In hindsight, this should have been the finish.

Seth eventually hit another pedigree and defeated Roman CLEAN IN THE MIDDLE to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. With the news of Roman’s suspension, it does make a bit more sense about why Seth beat Roman clean here. I wouldn’t have booked a clean finish in this match due to what happened in the post-match, but I’ll dive into that in a bit. Overall, a good match with a surprising finish upon first viewing.

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Once the match was over and Seth Rollins hoisted the championship up high, Dean Ambrose’s music hits. Seth valiantly stood his ground, ready for Dean to fight him. He does not run, he does not hide and he is ready for a fight. Despite this, Dean Ambrose hits him with the briefcase from behind. Dean had an emotionless look on his face as he turned to the referee and gave him the briefcase. Dean then hits the Dirty Deeds and pins Seth Rollins. As soon as he wins, the fans go crazy. Meanwhile, the announcers are playing up the idea that Dean had finally won the big one after years of struggling. What they failed to mention however, is the fact that it was unfair for Seth to win the title fairly only to be cheapshotted and beaten for the title.

This is NOT going to be a popular opinion… but I was not a fan of this cash-in. Don’t get me wrong. The cash-in worked in getting Dean Ambrose over. Seth’s victory worked in keeping Seth looking strong. The idea of all three Shield members holding the WWE title on the same night is pretty cool when you think about it. However, this cash-in flies in the face of the idea of story-telling. For you see, the only one acting like a babyface at Money In The Bank was Seth Rollins… who is SUPPOSED to be a heel.

Seth wrestled the entire match with Roman Reigns as a full-blown babyface and WON the match as a babyface. He beat the man clean in the middle. You know what would have been really great? If you really wanted to make it seem like this was poetic justice when Dean cashed in on Seth, why not have Seth CHEAT to win? Why doesn’t he just act like a heel should and beat Roman either by hitting him with the belt or grabbing his tights? All this finish did was make Roman look bad, which was probably the idea considering Roman’s suspension. However, let’s just pretend for a second that Roman wasn’t suspend. The WWE are still promoting Roman for the main event at Battleground against Seth and Dean. Shouldn’t you do whatever you could to protect Roman before that match? By beating Roman clean, the only wrestlers that have credible claims to be in the WWE Championship match at Battleground is Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins.

Seth even said on RAW that Roman had no claim to a rematch as Seth beat him legitimately and cleanly. If Seth cheated to beat Roman, then Dean cashed in, then you can actually lead the audience to believing that Seth had this coming. Dean’s actions seem justified in the fact that Seth screwed over his best friend, so Dean might as well screw over Seth. Seth still has a legitimate claim for a rematch and it’s not like you hurt Seth, and Roman still has a legitimate claim for a rematch and it’s not like you hurt Roman. That way, a triple threat match at Battleground is more justified and all three combatants seem on par with each other.

I made the argument on SLTD Wrestling that it was in the company’s best interest to turn Seth into a babyface at Money In The Bank. You don’t necessarily have to turn Roman or Dean, although one of them turning would probably be best. However, there’s no reason to keep Seth as a heel but have him wrestle as a face. If Seth’s going to wrestle like that, then he should have just came back as a babyface. Now though, the chances of an eventual Rollins babyface turn in the future having the big impact that it should have are just rapidly decreasing. The reason for this is because you’re dragging it out. It’s watered down as Seth is facing the wrath of two babyfaces (one for the next 30 days) who are screwing him out of the title. At the end of the day, you are wasting everyone’s time who are losing investment into Seth’s character. The fans are quickly losing interest in Seth as Dean Ambrose is now the face that runs the place and is the most over man in the company. There’s a chance that a turn at Summerslam might be good, depending on how you execute it. However, I’m just not that confident about the future of Seth if he doesn’t turn soon.

With that said, this cash-in was a successful one with regards to the fan reactions and how over Dean Ambrose is. He’ll be a top champion and the viewership for the RAW after Money In The Bank went up significantly from last week. I can’t argue with the numbers but the storyline aspects of this is just very detrimental. That’s actually part of a bigger issue with the company, which is the lack of definition for the characters of ALL of their talent. The fans can cheer and boo for whoever they want. That’s all fine. The bigger issue is the fact that if you don’t make it clear about the motivations and alignments of all of your talent, the fans aren’t going to care at all.

 

 

Jack Swagger’s Win/Loss Record Against Rusev

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There have been many one-sided rivalries in WWE history. I’ve seen a number of fans complain about certain wrestlers being completed dominated in feuds. 50% of John Cena’s feuds have been met with criticism about how one-sided the booking of those feuds was. However, I feel that there may not be a feud as one-sided as the feud between Jack Swagger and Rusev.

In case you missed it, WWE have decided to put Jack Swagger into the United States title picture along with Rusev and Titus O’Neil. To put this into perspective, somebody has repeatedly complained to me in the last few weeks about the continuation of the Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin feud. That feud has been going for a few months. This program between Rusev and Jack Swagger has been going on… FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS!

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Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter first confronted Rusev and Lana and turned babyface on the June 30th 2014 edition of RAW. I did the research and more than 40 matches (including house shows) have taken place between Rusev and Jack Swagger in the two years since this confrontation.

Not only that but I was driving in my car one day and I was thinking about this Rusev/Jack Swagger feud. Then the question popped into my head… has Jack Swagger ever beaten Rusev?

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It’s usually hyperbole to say that this guy can never beat this guy, but I couldn’t remember a time where Swagger actually got a victory over Rusev. I even thought of DQ finishes and other potential screwjob finishes, but I couldn’t think of one. So I did the research and down below are 42 matches that have seen Rusev going up against Jack Swagger. Included in this list are house show matches, dark matches, TV shows as well as PPVs. With the help of the awesome Internet Wrestling Database, I was able to compile this list. How many times had Jack Swagger defeated Rusev? Well this list, going from earliest match to latest match, will give us the answer…

NOTE: I didn’t include Royal Rumbles and other multi-man matches, as those matches never really saw one of these men stand victorious.

List of Rusev vs. Jack Swagger matches

  1. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 12th 2014 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  2. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 13th 2014 (WWE Live)
  3. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 18th 2014 (WWE Live)
  4. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 19th 2014 (WWE Live)
  5. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via count out on July 20th 2014 (Battleground 2014)
  6. Jack Swagger def. Rusev via DQ on July 22nd 2014 (WWE Main Event)
  7. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 25th 2014 (WWE Live)
  8. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 26th 2014 (WWE Live)
  9. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 27th 2014 (WWE Live)
  10. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 2nd 2014 (WWE Live)
  11. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 3rd 2014 (WWE Live)
  12. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 16th 2014 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  13. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a Flag Match  on August 17th 2014 (Summerslam 2014)
  14. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 23rd 2014 (WWE Live)
  15. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 24th 2014 (WWE Live Bakersfield Show)
  16. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via pinfall on August 25th 2014 (Monday Night RAW)
  17. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a Submission match on August 26th 2014 (SmackDown! taping)
  18. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 13th 2014 (WWE Live)
  19. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 14th 2014 (WWE Live)
  20. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 25th 2014 (NXT TV Taping – Dark Match)
  21. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on October 11th 2014 (WWE Live)
  22. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on October 12th 2014 (WWE Live)
  23. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger, Justin Gabriel, Sin Cara, Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, Diego, Fernando, Big Show, Erick Rowan, Adam Rose, The Miz, Damien Mizdow, Goldust, Stardust, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Titus O’Neil, Tyson Kidd, and Cesaro in a battle royal for the United States Championship on November 25th 2014 (SmackDown! taping)
  24. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 6th 2014 (WWE Live)
  25. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 13th 2014 (WWE Live)
  26. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 14th 2014 (TLC 2014)
  27. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 20th 2014 (WWE Live)
  28. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on January 16th 2015 (WWE Live)
  29. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submision to retain the United States Championship on February 14th 2015 (WWE in Abu Dhabi – Day Three)
  30. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a non-title match on March 3rd 2015 (SmackDown! taping)
  31. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger and Ryback via submission in a Triple Threat Match to retain the United States Championship on March 14th 2015 (WWE Live – Road To WrestleMania)
  32. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger and Ryback via submission in a Triple Threat Match to retain the United States Championship on March 14th 2015 (WWE Live – Road To WrestleMania)
  33. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a non-title match on March 23rd 2015 (Monday Night RAW)
  34. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 25th 2015 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  35. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 26th 2015 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  36. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 28th 2015 (SmackDown! taping)
  37. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 15th 2015 (WWE Main Event taping)
  38. Jack Swagger def. Rusev via submission on December 8th 2015 (WWE Tribute To The Troops 2015 Taping)
  39. Rusev and Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger and Ryback via pinfall on December 14th 2015 (Monday Night RAW)
  40. Jack Swagger def. Rusev via submission on February 7th 2016 (WWE Live – Road To WrestleMania)
  41. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via disqualification to retain the United States Championship on May 31st 2016 (SmackDown! taping)
  42. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via count out in a non-title match on June 6th 2016 (Monday Night RAW)

THREE VICTORIES IN TWO YEARS!

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Jack Swagger has defeated Rusev THREE TIMES in two years. He defeated him via disqualification in July 2014 and beat him at Tribute To The Troops last year, making those two matches Jack’s only televised victories against Rusev.

In order to push Rusev as the United States Champion right now, WWE’s grand plan is to put Rusev against Titus O’Neil (who has never won a singles title) and a man that is essentially a loser. The numbers down lie and they spell disaster for Jack so WHY is Jack Swagger a contender for the United States Championship?

 

Extreme Rules 2016 Review – Extremely Fine Professional Wrestling

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kalisto (c) vs Rusev for the United States Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho in an Asylum match

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.