RETRO EXPRESS: WWF MONDAY NIGHT RAW (MAY 6TH 1996) – GOLDUST GETS TURNED ON BY THE UNDERTAKER

Welcome to the Retro Express. This is where we’re taking a stroll down memory lane at wrestling history. This post is part of an ongoing series where we’re reviewing every episode of WCW Nitro from start to finish. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this post. We hope you enjoy.

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Welcome the first Retro Express review of WWF Monday Night RAW. This was dated May 6th 1996 and going up (not directly head-to-head) against WCW Monday Nitro. The review for that episode of Nitro can be viewed by clicking on the link below:

WCW Monday Nitro – May 6th 1996

The reason for this review is because when reviewing the episode of Nitro mentioned earlier as part of the WCW Nitro series, I discussed that RAW CRUSHED Nitro in the ratings for May 6th 1996. It was something along the lines of 4.1 to 1.9 in the ratings despite Nitro putting on a decent show. Therefore, I felt the RAW show was worth a watch. What was so appealing about this episode of Monday Night RAW that it got a 4.1 rating? It is extremely rare for RAW nowadays to get anything close to that in 2019. RAW’s 25th anniversary averaged about 4.5 million viewers in 2018 but other than, I can’t think of many in the past 5 years that have come close to that number.

Yet this episode from 1996 got a 4.1 to Nitro’s 1.9. I’m pretty sure WCW Nitro running an hour earlier because of an NBA game that same day was a major factor in this. The only wrestling show on the go during wrestling prime time was RAW so I assume the majority of wrestling fans just all watched RAW when nothing else in terms of wrestling was on. How it would lead to Nitro getting a 1.9 rating stills baffles me.

It baffles me because this RAW didn’t even come close to being as good as that Nitro. I’m sure someone will say that it’s unfair to compare this RAW with this Nitro when I’ve only watched Nitros up until this point which is fair. However, I’m 90% certain that if I had watched the last 33 episodes of RAW heading this episode, Nitro would have still destroyed it in my eyes.

Right now, WCW’s biggest storylines (well before the nWo arrive) are that Ric Flair has driven Randy Savage crazy and Lex Luger is trying to earn the trust of his friend Sting. These storylines are very basic but executed very well. The storyline is easy to follow and everybody’s actions make sense. What is the WWF’s response to these storylines? Their WWF Champion Shawn Michaels is in a sex scandal and Goldust has lust in his eyes fo The Undertaker. I did not make that last one up. That is the storyline and when you read the review of what happened during the main-event, it’s mind-blowing anyone ever watched a WWF show again.

Let’s get cracking with this WWF RAW review…

 

Date: May 6th 1996

Brand: WWF

City: Sioux City, Iowa

Rating: 4.1

Commentators: Vince McMahon and Jerry “The King” Lawler

 

The opening video package was a small tribute to Ray “The Crippler” Stevens, who had died near that time as previously discussed during the WCW Nitro review. It didn’t feel as heart-felt as the WCW tribute but they were able to show some clips of The Crippler in action so at least the fans could get a glimpse of the man in action. Either way, they were both nice tributes to Ray Stevens.

 

1-2-3 Kid w/Ted DiBiase vs “Wild Man” Marc Mero w/Sable

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Previously known as Johnny B Badd in WCW, Marc Mero was in the ring with 1-2-3 Kid in this opening match. “The more things change, the more they stay the same” has always been a quote I’ve associated with WWE formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation. Nothing represented that notion more than this match. It was structured almost exactly like every WWE television match in 2019. Babyface runs wild earlY, the heel gets the heat, goes for a sleeper HOLD, the babyface does the comeback and then they go to the finish. Pretty much that is exactly how this match went down.

“Wild Man” Marc Mero ran wild himself early on in the match and then went for a springboard splash but 1-2-3 Kid got the knees up. 1-2-3 Kid then went for a sleeper hold, jumping on the back of Mero and bringing him DOWN to the mat. He brought him down for a chin lock, kept on the chin lock, kept on the chin lock and kept on the chin lock for a long time.

One of the announcers talked about 1-2-3 Kid putting him to sleep while this match was in real life putting me to sleep. SPEAKING of the announcers, Vince and Jerry were joined by Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Hunter Hearst Helmsley would go on to achieve amazing things in the WWF but this man did one of the worst jobs I’ve ever seen as a guest commentator since Yoshitatsu did commentary for NJPW I believe.

Helmsley’s accent changed to an absurd degree during this match. The three very distinctive accents I got out of the guy was initially the worst English accent I’ve ever heard in my whole life, Hunter talking like his usual Triple H self and then sounding like he’d been hanging out with Rob Van Dam. This was all from a guy who I believe was supposed to be French when this gimmick started!

Helmsley bantered at the fans in the crowd. Mero tries to fight out of 1-2-3 Kid’s hold but they go back to the chin lock. They got to a commercial and when they come back, Mero starts doing his comeback! Questionable decisions with the timing of these commercials. We sat through about 30 minutes of 1-2-3 Kid locking in this chin lock and we come back from the break and they’re wrapping up the match!  Mero fired back with a back drop, a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a double axe handle.

I do love that Mero threw 1-2-3 Kid over the top rope and Lawler said that should have been a DQ! A subtle dig at WCW for doing disqualification finishes for wrestlers throwing each other over the top rope. I will say that Jerry Lawler did a much cleverer and better delivered shot at the competition than Eric Bischoff has done in 34 episodes of Nitro. Every one of Bischoff’s shots at RAW (and there have been many so far in the series) just came off so uncool and Lawler just casually goes “that should be a DQ” and I very much appreciated it.

Mero does dive to the outside. Hunter helped 1-2-3 Kid up and as the Kid distracted the referee, Helmsley crotched Mero on the top rope. 1-2-3 Kid goes for a superplex but Mero reversed in with a mid-air crossbody for the pin as Helmsley lost his mind. A slow match with a decent finish in my eyes with the babyface overcoming the odds and getting the win.

 

They showed a clip from last week where Savio Vega challenged “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to a strap match. They show Ted DiBiase cutting a promo to accept, adding a condition that if Savio lost, he would becomes his chauffeur. I guess Austin was still with DiBiase as the Ringmaster. DiBiase is with WCW shortly as part of the nWo and Austin eventually won King of the Ring 1996 in June, which I’m guessing everyone reading this would know what that would lead to for Austin!

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Let’s cut to the big “main-event program” for the WWF. There’s an affair angle going on where I guess Diana Smith, wife of the British Bulldog, was accusing WWF Champion Shawn Michaels of sexual assault. This led to a video featuring a woman obscured to protect her identity. They hid her face but made no attempt to change her voice to make sure she was not identified!

Anyway, it is said this woman was the wife of an wrestler. She said that Shawn Michaels was a homewrecker who ruined her marriage and she was going to tell us the truth about Shawn Michaels. She said her ex-husband was on the road a lot and Shawn knew about this. She claimed Shawn called her wanting to discuss a problem with this wrestler but then it was clear that all he wanted to do was talk about her. She admitted it was hot and he was so gorgeous. She said they went to bed together and it was the best she ever had. Most of these notes I made when watching the show were me writing word for word what this woman said. Some writer wanted this girl to say that Shawn Michaels was the best she ever had. This was the WWF’s idea to put over the top babyface of the company.

The woman talked about how Shawn told her how special she was which turned out to be a lie. She said the next time Shawn and her husband were in the ring, he lost because he knew what happened and it messed with his mind. The idea of the storyline to me, from merely watching this one episode, is that this woman was lying. I guess that was what they wanted to tell the fans as Shawn was the babyface. However, I love the idea that Shawn would have relations with this girl just to win a wrestling match! That is a fantastic heel plot in destroying a marriage just to win one wrestling match! She said Shawn never called again. She said Shawn didn’t need her and now she saw him doing this to someone else. He knew she couldn’t resist him and he ruined her.

All I could think was that some writer wrote all this down and told this woman to say all of this about Shawn Michaels. If they did this angle with Seth Rollins or Roman Reigns or whoever the top babyface is in 2019, it’d be a sure-fire heel move. Those two would never be cheered again. In 1996, this was their way to put Shawn Michaels over. I think it’s entirely possible Shawn Michaels wrote this whole speech himself! This woman is simultaneously trying to bury the character of this man but also rave about how hot he is and how irresistible he is. This was incredible. It was horrible but it was also incredible that this was a storyline from the wrestling promotion that WON the Monday Night Wars. This was… amazing to watch.

 

British Bulldog w/Diana Smith and Jim Cornette Vs Fatu

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They showed a clip of Shawn cutting a promo on Diana from last week I think, telling her not to flatter herself. This led to a brawl between himself and Bulldog after Diana slapped him.

Now to this next match. Seeing Fatu, who would later become Rikishi, in this good of shape blew my mind. This guy looked in good shape compared to what he’d look like about 3-4 years later. He legitimately looked likely The Rock combined with Sonny Siaki. He was able to move around pretty fast in the ring too and was a good hand in the ring during this match.

Fatu got a USA chant going which I laughed at. He danced around as he worked on the Bulldog.  Bulldog dropped Fatu on the top rope. Bulldog posed in the ring with press ups, a great-looking handstand flip and a parody of the HBK entrance.

Jim Cornette at ringside choked Fatu with the tennis racket as Bulldog took control. Fatu’d family members came out to watch the match who may have been The Samoan Gangsta Party.

Fatu got back into the match but as soon as he does, Bulldog pulls off a low blow. I assume Earl Hebner was distracted but they didn’t actually show it on-screen. Of all the replays they showed in the first match (and they showed a replay of a 1-2-3 Kid doing a dropkick for example) they didn’t show that important spot with Earl as part of the Fatu/Bulldog match.

Cornette stomped on Fatu on the outside. Bulldog missed a leg drop. Fatu ran wild and and they pulled off a sloppy back drop. Fatu hit a cutter which spiked Bulldog for a near fall. Bulldog accidentally knocked Cornette off the top rope. Bulldog pulled a big lariat turning Fatu inside out for the near fall, which I think Jerry Lawler bought as the finish. Bulldog hit the powerslam for the pin. This was an average match which picked up a little by the end but a lot of the stuff looked decent to me.

Fatu argued with his family and he talked about the WWF being his family which the nearby fans that picked up on this line loved. I actually loved that line and the way this was pulled off and Fatu’s delivery was very good.

 

“The Bodydonnas” Skip and Zip w/Sunny vs “Techno Team 2000” Travis and Troy in a non-title tag team match

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Can you imagine that WCW had Lex Luger and Sting reigning as the WCW Tag Team Champions at this time in the wrestling. In response to this, three of the tag teams involved in the WWF tag title picture were the Bodydonnas, Techno Team 2000 and the New Rockers? The levels of star power in the tag team divisions of WWF and WCW were just incredibly different at this time!

Not a lot happened in the match but a lot of the tag team stuff they did were actually pulled off moderately well. There was a double hip toss from the Techno Team for the 2 count. The Techno Team did an elevated Stinger Splash for a 2 count which actually looked decent in execution.

Harvey Wippleman was shown making notes on the WWF refereeing according to the announcers. The Bodydonnas pulled off a decent double flapjack. They cut to The New Rockers cutting a shockingly bad interview during the match where they just mumbled on through about being The Rockers and… it sucked. Jerry Lawler mentioned that Marty Jarnetty said his new partner Leif Cassidy was a better partner than SHAWN MICHAELS ever was.

I was going to make a joke about this but then I actually looked up who Leif Cassidy was… it was AL SNOW. When I Googled this guy and then figured out it was Al Snow of all people, it absolutely stunned me. If you look at everything Al Snow has done in wrestling and still does today with Ohio Valley Wrestling, I think it is safe to say that even with “The New Rockers” Marty Jarnetty was still the Marty Jarnetty of the team!

Zip from the Bodydonnas did a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. The Bodydonnas did a double suplex for the two count. Zip positioned himself like he was gonna do a moonsault and Jerry exclaimed that he was gonna do a moonsault but then he just fell down and hit his head. It did not look pretty.

Travis got the hot tag. In the middle of this, Jerry Lawler started talking about gas prices going up. Vince asked what that had to do with anything… and then they dropped that conversation. This was actual commentary during a wrestling match.

The Bodydonnas took control. Skip did a double axe handle to a floored Travis I think for the 3 count and for the win. Sunny was the best thing about this tag match by a country mile. There was not enough of her during this match. Everything else about this match was just there and unimpressive. There were some decently executed spots here and there but that’s about it.

 

Jim Ross interviewed Jim Cornette and Vader. They showed a clip of Vader pillmanising Yokozuna. Cornette cut a promo hyping up Vader and his match with Duke “The Dumpster” Droese next week. Not a lot to this other than Jim cutting a very-fast paced promo that acknowledged that Yokozuna was a top guy but Vader was that much better. I was fine with this promo.

Goldust came down to do commentary with Vince and Jerry. Goldust got uncomfortably close up to Vince’s face. He stroked Vince a little bit. Goldust then found out he was in a casket match with Undertaker and was all mad and then he sat back down.

 

The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer vs Owen Hart w/Jim Cornette

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When I saw the match card for this episode of RAW, I actually got excited at the possibility of Undertaker vs Owen Hart. This is no disrespect to any of the wrestling credentials of either of those men but this was an absolute nothing match. I say this because their entire main-event match was secondary to the antics of Goldust on and off commentary.

Owen fired away to little effect and then Taker turned it around and ran wild with a frenzy with punches. Then after being scared out of his boots of the possibility of a casket match, Goldust then starts lusting for the Undertaker. Goldust’s commentary included him remarking about  how Taker’s so tall and he wanted to touch him. He dropped the line of “look at the death in his face.” The storyline for possibly the second biggest angle in the WWF in early May 1996 was Goldust getting turned on by THE UNDERTAKER

Goldust talked about what he wanted to do with the urn. This was all happening during the main-event of RAW effectively unopposed in the hour they were in. Goldust then got up and… they cut to a commercial.

I assume this was taped because they cut to the commercial at the exact moment Goldust was going to do something and then we they come back, Goldust is near Paul Bearer. Goldust walked up to PAUL BEARER and tried to grab the urn. He tried to frisk Paul and Lawler flat out said Bearer had been goosed. I swear to you this all happened.

Owen worked on the leg of Taker and Owen did a top rope dropkick. The announcers tried to tell this story that Undertaker was vulnerable when Paul Bearer wasn’t there with the urn, which suggested to me the viewer that Owen Hart got heat by Goldust feeling up Paul Bearer on the outside!

Owen went for the sharpshooter but Taker grabbed the throat to bring himself up. Taker lifted Owen over the top rope and threw him out with a choke. It was effectively Darth Vader choking someone with the force and then pushing them back, except there was physical contact from the Dead Man.

Goldust tried to throw Owen back in the ring, getting a good grab of the tights as he attempted to do this. Taker did a HUGE jumping tombstone for the pin. It was like the tombstone from WrestleMania 26 where he jumped HIGH in the air with Michaels and came crashing down. It looked great.

Bearer brought out a casket and Goldust ran away to end the show.

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This show did a 4.1 rating for Monday Night RAW against a 1.9 from Nitro. This was a horrendous show when compared to Nitro from May 6th 1996. I could think of possibly one Nitro that was worse than this episode of RAW but I’m sure even within the worst episodes of the Nitros I’ve reviewed so far, there were probably moments from those shows that were better than ANYTHING from this episode of RAW.

If there’s any solace from watching this episode of WWF Monday Night RAW… Nitro would go onto crush them for 83 weeks in the ratings war. If this was what turned the tide initially in the Monday Night Wars, then the WWF only had themselves to blame.

I also have to say one other thing since I know WWE always claims that WCW turned things around as they bought all of the stars from the WWF, portraying themselves as the underdogs I guess. Of course WCW had the money to hire big stars but the storytelling and the quality of the shows just didn’t compare when literally comparing their shows for one week.

This episode I think will be the last episode of Monday Night RAW we will be reviewing on the Armbar Express for a long time! Next up on the agenda for the Retro Express is WCW Monday Nitro from May 13th 1996 and then WCW Slamboree 1996.

 

WCW Nitro Reading Order

WWE Hell In A Cell 2019: Seth Rollins vs The Fiend – Thoughts and Reactions

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The first week of October 2019 will go down as a pretty damn historic week for wrestling. There’s a lot I could talk about. I could talk about the first week in the “Wednesday Night Wars” between AEW and WWE NXT. I could talk about the season premiere of RAW with Lana and Lashley having a smooch session while Rusev stood and watched it. I could talk about Tyson Fury feuding with Braun Strowman. I could talk about Cain Velasquez feuding with Brock Lesnar. I could talk about both of these big time combat stars wrestling in WWE in Saudi Arabia at Halloween. I could talk about Brock Lesnar beating Kofi Kingston in 7 seconds to win the WWE Championship. There’s so much I could get into.

In case anyone’s wondering, yes, I did watch SmackDown!, NXT and AEW Dynamite. I liked all three shows. I can’t really say that out of NXT and AEW, one was better than the other. If I’m starting to keep record, I’d say this week goes down as a tie to me. In the ratings, AEW defeated NXT soundly but we’ll get a better view of things a few weeks in before we can starting really assessing these two shows head-to-head. I liked what I saw.

I even liked SmackDown!’s FOX debut. It was nowhere near at the level of the Wednesday shows but there were some parts of the show that I thought was just better in general. It felt crisper and not as much as a chore to watch than sometimes it used to be. I even saw the positives of Brock Lesnar beating Kofi Kingston the way he did. Yeah, it sucks if you’re a fan of Kofi Kingston but I understood and actually admired the boldness of this decision. A man beating another man in 7 seconds promotes the idea that anything can happen in the ring and personally, losing in the way that he did I think will help Kofi in a weird way for the future.

I liked the build towards a future Brock vs Cain match at Saudi Arabia. For Braun vs Tyson Fury, the jury’s still out. I have no idea as a match how that’s gonna turn out. All of this was going down during the week that many people, including WWE from the looks of it, forgot there was a WWE PPV on the Sunday… WWE Hell in a Cell which had promoted 4 matches before Sunday. That tells you something.

I will admit to only watching three matches. I watched the Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks Hell in a Cell match which was a great Hell in a Cell match. Both girls worked hard and it wasn’t too crazy but also creative with certain spots. It worked with me and I think it is worth watching if you haven’t yet. Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan vs Erick Rowan and Luke Harper was another good match. It was predictable with the layout but very well done with execution with the babyfaces having a feel-good moment at the end. I liked that a lot. It turns out those two matches were the first two matches of the show and every other match, thrown together at the last minute, followed until the main-event.

Dear god… this main-event.

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You want to know what really bothered me about this main-event? This has nothing to do with the match itself which we’ll get to. In WWE, there was one guy that was getting over big with the fans and treated as special. With the exception of like Brock Lesnar, this guy had a unique character nobody else had and was killing guys left and right and looking like a killer. He was looking like a legitimate star. Some people may remember him as Husky Harris, others remember him as Bray Wyatt but now he was The Fiend.

I legitimately could not believe that Bray Wyatt was able to get over again as The Fiend. He started getting over so big as Bray Wyatt when he first arrived but after so many wacky storylines with the likes of Undertaker (who he resurrected), Dean Ambrose (who he feuded with over a chair), John Cena (who he tried to turn heel), Xavier Woods (who was scared of Bray), Matt Hardy (who he battled in a match that Michael Cole openly buried on TV and then teamed with to lose to the B Team) and so on. He was put through so much crap and that doesn’t even include his House of Horrors match with Randy Orton. Oh yeah, remember when he was Sister Abigail? My god, he’s been through creative hell and back.

Yet somehow, he found a scary gimmick which was working. He was over. WWE immediately decided to put this guy in a feud for the Universal Championship. Already, they rushed the guy into a title program which I think was far too early for the guy. This was not the time for such a big push yet but what the hell. The Giant was pushed to the WCW title right away after debuting in a big feud with Hulk Hogan and the guy turned out OK. Brock Lesnar won the WWE title a few months after debuting. Even if you rushed the new character into a world title program, it’s possible to make it work.

In fact, there was one sure-fire way to make this angle work. It’s simple, The Fiend goes into his big match, destroys the Universal Champion and wins the title and starts running through the roster. He does exactly what he’s been doing since he became The Fiend and you can run this angle all the way to WrestleMania where a babyface slays The Fiend and wins the title. It’s so easy to build up a new scary monster and possibly a household name. He’s got a great look as The Fiend, he’s unique and he has the side of him that makes you think that he could do anything. Why not have him as your Universal Champion?

Heck, now would be a perfect time to do WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs Universal Champion The Fiend at Survivor Series. I got so giddy at the thought of that after Brock won the title. No matter what you do as a wrestling promoter, two men who always win facing each other in a monster vs monster match will never not draw. Godzilla vs Kong will draw when it comes out next year I believe in the cinemas and so would this match….

…and WWE took all my dreams and turned it into this nightmare.

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This Hell in a Cell match was so horrible. This was not so offensive that I was mad at it. It was so horrible that I laughed at it. This was not so bad it was good. This was so bad that I mocked it. It was a parody of a Hell in a Cell match. I’m not going to do an in-depth analysis of the match like I usually do with Nitro reviews, but I will break down what happened if by chance you did not watch this match.

These two men get into the cell and they have a regular old Seth Rollins vs Bray Wyatt match. This was not The Fiend coming out of the gate and just destroying Seth Rollins. They fought evenly with weapons and big moves, with The Fiend selling a little bit but not a lot. They zapped out the dominating factor of The Fiend right away with this one. The Fiend attacks Seth with a big mallet and I want everyone to remember this when we get to the finish.

Suddenly, Seth starts to take over. I think The Fiend hit a Sister Abigail but mostly… this was Seth Rollins beating the crap out of The Fiend. He’d hit every finisher he could find, including a pedigree, but The Fiend would either no-sell it or kick out at one for each big move. While Seth Rollins, the heroic babyface, is giving it his all in this match to give The Fiend all that he had, the crowd boos the living daylights out of Seth Rollins.

They booed Seth because they so desperately wanted to see The Fiend, who was over, become champion. Seth Rollins had been a disaster of a champion, he is completely unlikable on Twitter doing such things like bragging about his bank account and he’s not over. So they decided to have a Hell in a Cell match and decided to have Seth start to dominate on The Fiend and of course the fans are all pissed about it. These fans, who can barely see the action because of the red lighting, were pissed off about this development too.

Seth hit about 11 curb stomps to no effect. The Fiend would just pop up once in a while just to freak out Seth. Seth starts freaking out. The Fiend is making his finishers look so pathetic to the point where he’s not even selling it. The Pedigree didn’t work out either. He starts getting angry that he can’t put him away so he attacks Fiend with a chair to the head. He attacks him with a toolbox. He grabs a ladder. He suddenly grabs a SLEDGEHAMMER. Keep in mind that The Fiend used a mallet earlier on in the match and this was followed with Seth grabbing a sledgehammer.

He gets back into the ring and the referee is pleading with Seth not to hit The Fiend with the sledgehammer. The ref cuts a promo on Seth telling him to not forget who he is and that he doesn’t need to do this and go too far. This is all going down… DURING A HELL IN A CELL MATCH. The very same match where Mick Foley got thrown off the top of the cell twice and still continued the match for 10 minutes. The very same match where Triple H used the sledgehammer OVER AND OVER AND OVER again in his Hell in a Cell matches. I reviewed a Hell in a Cell match with Triple H from Unforgiven 2006 where he walloped Vince McMahon in the head with the sledgehammer. The reason this was all fine was because there’s meant to be NO RULES in a Hell in a Cell match… because it’s HELLish for the wrestlers.

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So Seth Rollins, with a bunch of weapons on top of Fiend’s head to protect him, hits The Fiend with the sledgehammer and the referee calls for the bell. This Hell in a Cell match ended in a disqualification.

I know that so many people on Twitter were pissed off with the disqualification but on its own, that didn’t bother me so badly. There really should never really be a disqualification in a Hell in a Cell match but then again, there should never really be a no contest in a Hell in a Cell match and we saw that last year. It’s a stupid finish but whatever… but it didn’t end there.

So Seth is screaming that “you forced me to do it” and the medics raise the cell to see to The Fiend. After the medics all come down, The Fiend gets up like he is completely fine and beats up Seth Rollins after the match.

I was so mad at this particular part. I wasn’t really that mad about the DQ but I was really mad at the aftermath. I watched Seth “destroy” or at least hit a 1000 moves and weapon shots on The Fiend for a solid 10 minutes or whatever straight. The Fiend responded by not doing anything in response or just no-selling the moves or whatever. All of a sudden, after this supposedly horrific attack by Seth that forced a DQ, he gets up like he’s 100% OK and beats up Seth.

I have no idea what the logic was behind any of this. What was The Fiend’s motivation? He had the opportunity to win the title and his plan was to let Seth try to beat him up and then after the match, attack him. If Seth’s attacks meant so little to him, why didn’t he get up and attacks him during the match and win the title? Does he even want the title? If not, then why was this a title match? What was the motivation for any of these characters?

Anyway… The Fiend left Seth laying and the show was over.

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This match was an embarrassment to professional wrestling. During one of the most historic and biggest weeks in wrestling history, it ended with this Hell in a Cell match. This may have been the worst ending to a WWE pay-per-view in the history of WWE. At least Roman Reigns’ big win at Royal Rumble 2015 that was booed massively had some logic to the booking. There was no logic to this booking. This hurt the careers of both men. Seth and The Fiend both weren’t even on RAW the next night which tells you how much WWE were embarrassed by this match and really should be ashamed at themselves for this match.

There’s no chance that The Fiend will ever get back to the level of overness this character had before this feud started. There’s no chance Seth Rollins will be getting cheered any time soon. It’s IMPOSSIBLE. This Seth Rollins, on-and-off screen, has never looked so bad as he has done in the last few months. He can’t possibly be the Universal Champion after this.

Now… there are two possibilities that Seth could overcome this and redeem himself. Possibility #1 is that he goes away for a while. The Fiend could come out and attack him and Seth is forced to relinquish the title or Seth beats up an authority and gets fired. Anything to get him off TV for a while and then at the Royal Rumble, he can get a big return and try to start again. Possibility #2 is quite simple… he turns heel.

I feel like I’ve been through this exact scenario with Roman Reigns but if WWE knows what’s good for Seth, they’ll have him turn heel on his very next appearance on WWE television. It’s impossible for this guy to be a beloved babyface for the time being so you turn the guy heel for a while and then try again with him as a babyface a year from now. He’s gotta go heel and use all of this negativity to his advantage.

As for The Fiend, I’m not even sure he can be redeemed anymore. Why is it that Bray Wyatt is stuck with these bogus storylines? He finally gets this gimmick that gets him over and all they had to do was have him beat everybody on the road to WrestleMania and they HAD to this at Hell in a Cell. You can’t have him go up against Seth for a rematch. You can’t have him up against BROCK LESNAR for what could have been a big money match. I have no idea what you do now but it sucks to be The Fiend and Seth Rollins right now.

This match will live in infamy. WrestleCrap will already have this waiting in the wings for its yearly awards. People will never forget this for bad reasons and it was a nightmare. I could not believe my eyes watching this match.

My Twitter @ArmbarExpress is still active so if you have a desire to send me you shared hatred of this match, by all means send it to me! I’d love to read it. However, if you actually liked this match for whatever reason, please get in touch as I am curious if anyone actually thought this match was good and I’d like to get their opinions!

Either way, I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and be sure to check out my Retro Express WCW Nitro reviews! I’ve been reviewing every Nitro episode from the very first one and all of the links to the Nitro reviews can be seen on the links below!

WCW Nitro Reading Order

Emma, Darren Young and Summer Rae RELEASED from WWE – Thoughts and Reactions

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. Breaking news from today as three long-time main roster superstars have been released from WWE as Emma, Darren Young and Emma have departed from the company.

All three of these talents have been members of the RAW roster ever since the 2016 draft with very limited success for all three of them and long periods of absence in the last few years.

Emma was the first announced by WWE via their social media accounts and website. Emma has recently been a regular feature in WWE programming after several periods away from television for reasons such as injuries and even writing reasons. Emma had rose to fame initially from NXT before being promoted to the main roster to feud with, ironically, Summer Rae. After a few months of not really clicking on a main-roster level, Emma turned heel upon her return to NXT and saw her character develop dramatically. She returned to the main roster but her momentum was cut shot by an injury, leading to the bright idea of her to re-emerge as Emmalina. Due to her being in creative limbo and writers not really figuring out what to do with her, Emma went roughly 17 weeks before Emmalina debuted and literally just led to her being repackaged back to Emma. Emma had recently appearing at the TLC pay-per-view as Asuka’s first main roster opponent before her release.

Darren Young debuted in the first season of NXT before debuting on the main roster as part of the Nexus angle. Darren was exiled from the group after SummerSlam and after months of limited notoriety, partnered up with Titus O’Neil as part of the Prime Time Players. Darren and Titus teamed for a number of years and Darren actually won the tag team titles with Titus at Money In The Bank 2015. Darren’s singles career saw him aligned with Bob Backlund in the hopes of “making Darren Young great again.” Darren’s new repackaging eventually led to him receiving an Intercontinental Championship match at Battleground 2016. Darren was injured shortly after a feud with his old partner Titus, which has now led to his release.

Summer Rae debuted as the ring announcer in the newly rebooted NXT before eventually becoming a single competitor in the competitive women’s division featuring the likes of Emma and Paige. She eventually debuted on the main roster as Fandango’s dance partner, elevated as much as Fandango when his theme song became an international hit. Alongside this, Summer was pretty competitive in NXT and was aligned as a BFF of one Sasha Banks. Summer and Fandango eventually split and after a short stint aligned with Layla, Summer was eventually inserted into the infamous Dolph Ziggler/Lana storyline. Summer sided with Rusev but eventually broke up with him, leading to her siding with the debuting Tyler Breeze. Shortly after, Summer became injured and had yet to even appear on RAW since she was drafted in 2016 prior to her release.

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On the surface, these wrestlers weren’t exactly major players on the main roster in WWE. However, it is rather sad to see people lose jobs especially in a line of work as limited as wrestling is. For Summer and Emma, they both have opportunities outside of wrestling available to them like modelling and acting. I think there’s probably a chance for them to get their foot in the door. For Darren, very difficult to see where he may go from here. I don’t see him as a major player in the independent scene but as a WWE star, there’s probably a lot of decent money for him to make.

For Emma and Summer, I do see two cases of untapped potential with both of these girls. If you’ve ever watched Emma (and Summer to a degree), you can see that this girl was a hugely talented wrestler. She’s had great matches with Paige and Asuka in NXT. She’s probably better than at least 75% of the main roster which may be kind of pushing it. Regardless, she still had a lot of value and it was annoying as a fan of her to not see her at least take part in a major women’s title program. She could have been a great mentor to have for these new up-and-coming women, especially some of the ones from the Mae Young Classic.

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Summer was also a great talent too. I don’t really rate her highly as a worker but again, you don’t need to be the world’s greatest worker to be effective. Just look at Alexa for example. Summer was a great talker and really fit into the roles that she was given and her delivery was pretty good. I always rated Summer and it’s a shame she didn’t get one last run before her release.

I also have to give a lot of credit to Darren Young too, someone who has opened the doors for a lot of sports figures in terms of the LGBT community. Him publicly coming out as gay in 2013 did take a lot of courage and was widely commended among the wrestling community. In that aspect, I must give him a lot of credit.

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I do actually have a bone to pick before I sign off here because I want to address one of the more pathetic responses to the releases of Emma in particular, ironically from someone signed with WWE. The newly signed Lio Rush tweeted this out shortly after the news:

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Obviously, this is a reference to Emma’s match at TLC when she lost to Asuka. However, this guy making this comment only JUST after signing with WWE about these tough circumstances for a long-time WWE employee seemed so audacious to me. Someone that has “paid her dues” like Emma that’s just been told that she’s been cut and Lio, who has only been here for a short time, has the nerve to make light of this bad deal for Emma?

This tweet was actually quickly deleted by Lio, following a number of wrestlers like Bray Wyatt, Peyton Royce, Rosa Mendes and Jack Gallagher burying Lio for these comments. Lio did also apologise for this tweet but he did it in such a way that he apologised that the fans got upset about his comment which doesn’t strike me as a genuine apology or Lio taken responsibility for his comments.

I except Lio to get heat from this because, as the likes of Baron Corbin can vouch for, troublesome tweets can be hurtful for your career. I don’t think he’ll be fired for saying this but I can’t say that this will not make him many friends in developmental and on the main roster. This is trouble when you make light of the situation of the likes of Emma. Emma seems to be well liked within WWE so Lio may have just made things hard for him in the first stages of his WWE career.

Anyway, best of luck to Emma, Summer and Darren in whatever they do next. I wish them all the very best.

NEWS: The Status Of Neville And Nia Jax In WWE

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express. We’ve got a bit of news surrounding two top RAW superstars. It had been previously reported that Neville had actually asked for his release from WWE, following not appearing in last week’s Monday Night RAW event. It appears that Neville is not the only one linked with a move out of the door….

Nia Jax, who debuted on Monday Night RAW following the WWE Draft in July 2016, has been reported as having been upset backstage following not appearing on RAW herself in this week’s edition of the show. Nia had been part of an angle between Sasha Banks and Bayley, feuding with the two girls ever since No Mercy. This week, Sasha Banks fought Alicia Fox while Bayley was in a tag team match.

Nia not being there did raise a few questions, with Pro Wrestling Votes (the same guys who had initially spread word on Neville’s situation) tweeting about possibly hearing of Nia’s absence.

Pro Wrestling Sheet released an update to the initial rumours, stating that their sources suggest that Nia has been granted a “leave of absence” although nothing has been confirmed yet about whether Nia was upset backstage at RAW last night. The update is available at this link.

I do want to stress to everyone reading that we’re merely at the rumour stages of the story, and no statement has been released yet from WWE’s side of things or from Nia herself or any members of Nia’s family. If you recall, when the story broke about Neville asking for his release, WWE quickly denied any truth to it. Again, early doors on this story so WWE may not have had the time to respond just yet.

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The internet wrestling community has become extremely quick at jumping to the conclusion that Nia had been frustrated with creative similar to Neville. I find it rather difficult to believe as Nia has been one of the more protected women across RAW, SmackDown! and NXT. Only girls like Alexa Bliss and Charlotte are booked better than her in my eyes and Nia Jax is the biggest female monster that’s been pushed since she was promoted last year.

Neville’s frustrations are understandable knowing how badly 205 Live has been going as well as his inability to advance further in his WWE career. Nia… she’s got plenty of time to get ready enough to become a strong women’s champion. I don’t see how she’s got a case in being frustrated there and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Nia’s leave of absence could mean many things so it’s difficult for us to guess. I do wish Nia the best with whatever the situation is with her, if this turns out to be true. Again, a lot of potential in Nia as a top monster… given time to develop as a worker. I would not want to miss out on a Nia Jax monster title reign.

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As for Neville, his story has been kind of kept under wraps at the moment. As it stands right now, he’s still employed at WWE. For those of you that are unaware, Neville was not on RAW last week for a show where he was supposedly set to challenge Enzo Amore for the Cruiserweight title in the main-event. The initial reports that he “walked out” was debunked as Neville wasn’t even there in the first place.

The rumours have been running rampant for him. There’s talk of frustrations with the royalties for being on the pre-show for WrestleMania 33, similar to the reasons why Austin Aries left WWE earlier this year as well. Not to add fuel to the fire in this sense but there were rumours that Enzo was supposed to beat Neville again in that main-event so he may have possibly not wanted to do the job. There’s a lot frustrations supposedly on Neville’s end.

The belief right now is that Neville is currently negotiating the terms of his release. When Ryback asked for his release last year, he was initially at home during the negotiations as well, if I remember correctly. I don’t see Neville on television any time soon although WWE is supposedly hopefully that they can convince him to stay on board. If you’re WWE, you can’t afford to lose Neville right now I’d imagine.

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Their priority is getting that 205 Live show over and doing good numbers, which was the whole reason why Enzo Amore was brought in to bring in interest. Neville was an established WWE star before 205 Live and the longest reigning cruiserweight champion since the title came back in September.

They really don’t have many top cruiserweight babyfaces at the moment which was, again, the whole reason why Kalisto was brought in to feud with Enzo. They don’t have the confidence in those guys getting over enough. They have confidence in Neville so it’s in their best interests to try and keep him on.

We will see what happens in the development of both these stories. I personally hope both individuals make the right choices that benefits them. If Nia feels that a leave of absence is necessary, it’s understandable. If Neville feels that he needs to part ways with WWE, that’s his decision. I personally would love to see them both stay in WWE. Nia does have potential down the road and Neville should be going to SmackDown! Live as a top heel as they’re lacking in that department. Do I feel they’ll do that? No. I think if Neville’s coming back at all, he’ll be in 205 Live.

 

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.

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!