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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retro Express – WWE Unforgiven 2006

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Unforgiven 2006 was a pay-per-view which I thought way too highly of when looking back in hindsight. It was not like this was a pay-per-view which was bad or anything. If anything, it was just as good as any other average pay-per-view around the time. However, there was a lot of buzz about this particular pay-per-view which I don’t think WWE were able to live up to at the end of the day. This was a show with a lot of memorable moments but the matches that stood out never really stood out as greatly as it probably should have.

WWE Unforgiven

Date: September 17th 2006

Brand: RAW

City: Toronto, Ontario

Attendance: 16,105

Johnny Nitro (c) vs Jeff Hardy for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
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I honestly couldn’t remember who won this match when I watched this pay-per-view at the time. I remember that Jeff did beat Nitro for the title not long after he returned to the company. However, I couldn’t remember if it was on RAW or if it was at Unforigven. I knew that he was the champion going into RAW’s next pay-per-view Cyber Sunday so he must have won it shortly after this.
This was Jeff’s first pay-per-view match back with WWE and he got a huge pop. Nitro wasn’t particularly bad during this time period but this was around the period where Nitro was only just starting to break out on his own. I don’t want to say that wrestling a tag match is easy but in a tag team situation with MNM, Johnny had the help from Mercury and other tag teams to help break up the matches a little. In this situation, Nitro was on his own and he had to be able to work a long match with Jeff. And this was a LONG match. They gave Jeff and Johnny 17 minutes but it honest to god felt like half an hour.
The match wasn’t particular bad but it was unfit for the styles of Jeff and Johnny. They had Nitro get the heat on Hardy for about 75% of the match which was done in the most dragged out way possible. Johnny was given way too much time to get the heat on Jeff. This was proven to be true, as the match actually started out with the fans getting into it with Jeff taking over with arm drags (by the way, Nitro got some serious air-time on these arm drags!). However, by the end of the match as Jeff was making his “comeback”, the fans in Toronto had been taken completely out of the match and there was little reaction until Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb.
Jeff did a lot of wild selling as usually. Nitro drop-kicked Jeff, while Jeff was on the turnbuckle, which resulted in Jeff landing side first on the ropes. That could have ended really badly. Nitro worked over Jeff’s leg for a really long time. Jeff was leaning on the ropes and Nitro kicked in the leg, which resulted in Jeff doing a huge flip and landing on the mat. The next time I watch UFC, I’ll have to see if any of the kicks to the leg will cause one of the fighters to do a flip. What a moment that would be!
Nitro went for the Corkscrew off the top but Jeff moved out of the way. Ironically, Nitro landed on his leg which looked pretty awkward. Jeff started his comeback but as mentioned earlier, the crowd were never really able to get into it until he went for the Swanton. It seemed like a very awkward comeback, with both wrestlers working at very different speeds it seems. Jeff hit the Swanton but Nitro got his feet on the rope. Nitro was kicked into Melina and Jeff went for the roll-up, which was kicked out of by Nitro. Melina then hit Jeff with her boot and Nitro got the pin to retain the title.
I hated this finish for a number of reasons but the biggest issue is the fact that Nitro simply pinned him off the smack with Melina’s boot. Maybe if Melina were to have hit her with the sole of the boot, it would have been enough to put Jeff away. However, at least Nitro should have been able to put his finishing move over. The commentators did try to put Nitro over on commentary and Nitro was able to stay in the match after the Swanton. However, it’s not like anything Nitro ever did led to him winning the match. It’s not like the ten minutes of Nitro working on the leg of Hardy led to the finish. They could have easily done a finish where Melina hit Jeff in the leg with a shoe and then Nitro hit Jeff with his finisher (which I think was the Super Kick) and won. At least the heat Nitro got on Jeff would have been enough to lead to the finish. However, this finish just struggled to get anyone over greatly.
It’s funny because I actually remember hating the finish of a match between Rusev and Dolph Ziggler last year, because Summer Rae had accidentally hit Rusev with her shoe. At least in that finish, Ziggler hit the Zig Zag after the shoe toss in order to win the match. Nitro wasn’t given any of that which hurt his cause.
It was an alright match but it was just a boring match. The ring psychology was there with Nitro working the leg but it just took me out of the match. He just got a bit too much heat on Jeff before the finish. This match should have been a lot shorter. That’s probably the biggest thing that was wrong with this. Putting this on for 17 minutes was just not the way to go.
Match Rating: **1/4
SmackDown! general manager Teddy Long was in the crowd. He was sat in one of the expensive seats all by himself! He was in attendance as if Cena had lost in the main event, Teddy would have Cena signed to his show.
Jeff Hardy was met in the back by Matt Hardy, who was on SmackDown! at the time. I was going to ask why Matt would have been on the RAW PPV but I guess it does make sense with Matt wanting to cheer his brother on. Lita walked in which resulted in the most awkward stable reunion of all time. If you’ll recall, this took place just over a year after the Matt, Edge and Lita incident happened. However, that was not the main reason about why this angle was awkward. You could tell this was an segment that Lita really didn’t want to do, as she felt so uncomfortable when calling Jeff a “screw-up.” She vowed to beat Trish Stratus and said that Edge would beat John Cena to send him packing to SmackDown!, just like he sent Matt packing when he beat him in a Loser Leaves RAW match. Very uncomfortable segment to sit through.
Umaga vs Kane
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The match wasn’t really that bad until the finish, we’ll get onto later. Armando Estrada cut a great promo before the match started. I truly believe that if Armando was brought back by WWE to manage Braun Strowman tomorrow and Armando was given the same gimmick he was given in 2006, Braun would get so over. Armando’s greatest attribute was that he was able to get the fans invested in his client like a good manager should. He didn’t need to cut greatest promo of all time or anything. The best part of his arsenal was his introduction, which everybody at this pay-per-view joined in with. He was so awesome.
The match started off strangely when these two big monsters decided to start the match by engaging in an angry lock-up. I don’t want to bash this match for actually showcasing some traditional wrestling but this really didn’t fit the styles of Umaga and Kane. These two should be starting off the match by just clobbering each other, going blow for blow. That would have helped portray the intensity of these two big men rather than just doing a simple lock-up.
Umaga got the heat on Kane. Umaga even did the Shining Wizard at one point. Kane made the comeback and the fans got really into his comeback. To add to the point I made earlier, Kane just punching away at Umaga in the turnbuckle really got Kane over as these were some impactful looking hits. Now granted, Umaga was usually a great seller back then. However, the point is that it added a lot more to the match more than if these two were to have a standard match. I also liked how Kane’s comeback was effective that it caused Armando’s hat to come off! I repeat, Armando Estrada was so awesome!
Kane hit a dangerous looking belly-to-belly on Umaga which sent him flying over the top rope. Kane and Umaga went into the crowd which caused both men to get counted out. Count out finishes do suck when you put them on pay-per-views but if you follow them up with either an interesting spot or some new development in the feud, you can get away with doing it. However, WWE didn’t give us any of that. Kane and Umaga simply brawled to the back. You expected something big to happen but nothing did. Up until the finish, this was a fine match though.
Match Rating: **1/4
Mr McMahon and Shane McMahon were hanging out backstage, watching a clip from RAW where Vince beat Triple H. He talked about wanting to be “kicking ass and taking names” in their Hell in a Cell match later. He said he was going to play an active role in the match. He buried Canada and basically vowed to decimate DX.
They plugged the theme song of the show, which was “Run” by Days of Fire. I actually liked this song a lot but I was put off a little when Jerry referred to Days of Fire as his new favourite band. Yes, Jerry Lawler was suddenly transformed into a metal rock fan with this new track by Days of Fire. I don’t think Jerry was telling the truth here!
The Spirit Squad (c) vs The Highlanders for the World Tag Team Championship
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This was the closest the Highlanders ever came to winning the tag titles. It’s a shame because I actually liked the Highlanders in this match! It’s just their mannerisms in the ring. When they kept yelling at each other during the match, at least you could tell that they were actually invested in their own gimmick. At least they would go out of there to have fun with their characters, which a lot of wrestlers these days in WWE don’t. They were so into their character that their tag-ins came in the form of slapping each other in the face!
Rory McAllister was the bald one in the Highlanders, with Robbie being the one with long hair. In fact, Jim Ross actually made this clear as soon as they came out! It’s funny as Jim Ross cleared up which Highlander was which for me right away even though they’ve got two different looks, yet Michael Cole never addresses which Uso is which on RAW until one of them gets tagged in during the match.
Mitch and Kenny were the Spirit Squad members involved in this match. They all held the belt at the same time as part of the freebird rule. Even though he came out with the belt on, Nicky (a.k.a. Dolph Ziggler) wasn’t involved in the match. Nothing really exciting about this one. There was on spot where Robbie tried to do a suicide dive to the outside but he hit the floor. The finish was Johnny doing a jump kick on the apron which was followed up by a facebuster by Mikey for the win.
There was really nothing to this match. There was nothing really about this match that really screamed “pay-per-view quality.” It was just a regular tag team match that you would have seen on RAW every week at the time. I will say that the Highlanders sort of seemed like a Scottish version of the Ascension! It’s like if they took Viktor and Konnor from the Ascension and gave the Highlanders gimmick. The chances are, they would have probably had the same result!
Match Rating: *1/2
 
Mr McMahon, Shane McMahon and Big Show vs Shawn Michaels and Triple H in a handicap Hell in a Cell match
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I’ve seen a lot of people online call this the worst Hell in a Cell match of all time which I totally disagree with. I’m going to go on a bit of a tangent here. The whole point of a Hell in a Cell match is for people to use the cell as an offensive ally. The match usually acts as the finale to an intense rivalry, which was the purpose of this cell match. This feud has gotten to a point where all the McMahons, Big Show and DX wanted to do was beat the hell out of each other. If they were to have just had a regular match in that cell, it would have come off so badly. Also if they were to have a simple match, what would be the point of the cell?
This is a huge reason why I do not think highly of the Undertaker/Triple H Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania 28. Those two hardly ever used the cell in their match which took away from the intensity of it. Triple H and Undertaker had built their careers around the Cell so them not using it seemed to ignore the significance of the stipulation. They needed to batter each other just like the McMahons, Show and DX all battered each other.
To summarise this in the best way possible, this was the best you could have done with people like Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon and Big Show having to work a 20 minute Hell in a Cell match. There were some things that did take me out the match which I’ll get to later.
The highlight of the introductions though was Jim Ross calling Vince “Satan’s role model.” DX low-blowed Big Show which does actually tie in to one of the issues of the match. A lot of DX’s attacks on the McMahons and Big Show were very comedic, which took away from the intensity of the storyline. After Vince had beaten DX with a pipe on RAW a few weeks beforehand and everything Vince had done to them in this storyline, Triple H and Shawn Michaels should want cold-blooded revenge. Instead, they would have moments like Vince McMahon kissing Big Show’s backside which was absurd when considering that this was in fact a Hell in a Cell match.
Shawn and Vince both got “You Screwed Bret” chants. DX low-blowed Big Show a second time. I did like some of the ways DX were beating on the McMahons though. Shawn used the ropes to launch Shane into the cell wall. Vince and Shane bled early. Triple H used a screwdriver on Mr McMahon. This was a case of deja vu for me as one of the last old WWE pay-per-views I watched before this was Survivor Series 2005, where Triple H did the exact same thing to Ric Flair!
Big Show got back into the mix and the heels took over. Shane hit Triple H with the coast to coast which involved a trashcan. DX tried a comeback but the heels cut them off. Shane looked like he was trying either an Angle Slam or a backbreaker but he was struggling to keep Triple H up for the move. I don’t know if Triple H was sand-bagging him (which seems very unlikely) or if Shane was just struggling to get him up.
Vince tried to induct DX into the “Kiss My Ass” club but DX avoided it. Big Show tried to do a big splash to Shawn but Shawn pulled Vince in the way. DX did the comeback. Shane was taken out after Shawn did an elbow to him, with a chair wrapped around Shane’s neck. They took out Big Show and left him hanging on the ropes. They then proceeded to shove Vince’s face in Big Show’s backside. DX won with a Super Kick by Shawn and then a sledgehammer shot by Triple H which actually broke the hammer.
This was an OK match. This was not the worst Hell in a Cell match I ever saw but I did feel that the heel heat was a bit too long in this match as well. Big Show, Vince and Shane getting the heat on DX was quite boring a lot of the time. However, the match accomplished what it was supposed to. The good guys got their revenge on the heels and finished them once and for all, which was a fine way to end the rivalry. This was probably the highlight of the DX/McMahons rivalry as a whole.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Lita (c) vs Trish Stratus for the WWE Women’s Championship
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This match was very much a treat at the time considering the state of the women’s division for the next decade. Unfortunately, this was also Trish’s retirement match. This was a very fitting end to her career, being able to go out in style by winning the Women’s title in Montreal. This crowd loved Trish and this was all fine to watch.
I cannot say that this was the greatest match between Trish and Lita, as I remember them having a fantastic match on RAW in 2004. However, these two worked very hard. Trish worked a  lot harder than she probably should have, considering this was supposed to be her last match. This was evident as she would take bad bumps to the apron and onto the floor.
The finish was great. Throughout the match, Trish kept going for the Stratusfaction, but Lita kept countering it. In her third attempt, Trish reversed into a sunset flip. This was an awesome spot as from a storytelling perspective, it was clear that Trish knew that Lita was just going to keep countering the bulldog. Trish had to think of something new and she did. There’s so many matches nowadays where the babyfaces would try to do the same move over and over again until it worked. Good improvisation.
Lita countered it into a pin but the ref saw Lita’s hands on the rope. Trish countered that into a sharpshooter, which got an incredible pop from the crowd. Lita tapped out and Trish won the belt on her way out. Lillian Garcia was actually in tears when Trish celebrated.
This was a great women’s match and the two women worked very hard. The crowd was really into it so thumbs up from me.
Match Rating: ***
Randy Orton was being interview by Todd Grisham. A little off-topic but does anyone remember the interview Todd did with John Cena around this time where he turned heel and hoped that Cena would lose the title? That was fantastic stuff!
The promo Orton cut seemed a bit odd. Orton claimed that nobody cared about Trish except Canadians. He called Trish a bitch and said that he would make Carlito his in their match later. Orton did a good job in gaining the heel heat but something just felt off about the whole promo.
Randy Orton vs Carlito
 
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This was a decent match between Orton and Carlito. I was not expecting much from this but I did remember the finish of the match which was incredibly executed. The thing about Carlito is that I’ve listened to a number of old Bryan and Vinny Shows as of late going as far back as 2005. The common trend I noticed when listening back to 2005-2006 editions of the show is that Bryan Alvarez was hugely critical of Carlito. It’s funny because I’ve done a few Retro Express reviews from within that period. In the matches Carlito wrestled in, Carlito was fine.
He was not the greatest worker of the night or anything but there was not a lot of things he messed up. He did mess up one of his springboard moonsaults, where he landed with his elbow slamming into Orton’s face. Orton was actually busted open from the mouth with that botch, with Orton seemingly very annoyed at Carlito.
They continued on for a while. Carlito was still busting out all of these springboards to very little reaction. The finish saw Carlito going for another springboard move with Randy catching him with an RKO in mid-air. Orton made the cover to get the win.
This gets a thumbs up for me. It didn’t blow my mind but these two men worked hard. You have to give them credit for that as Carlito was often flacked for not trying hard enough in the ring. The finish was also tremendously pulled off by both men and it really did add to the match as the finish was be the big thing that a lot of fans remember.
Match Rating: **3/4
Edge (c) vs John Cena in a TLC match for the WWE Championship
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I mentioned that Teddy Long was in attendance earlier. He was there because if Cena lost, Cena would be signed to SmackDown! I actually want to break down the logic of this. Teddy was ecstatic because he may be about to get John Cena from RAW as long as Cena LOST his match. From a storyline perspective, wouldn’t it hurt the SmackDown! brand if Cena had lost before coming into the roster?
This TLC match was a great thing to end the pay-per-view with. After months of this feud between Edge and John Cena, Cena finally defied all the odds to win the WWE title in Edge’s hometown and in Edge’s signature match. This was great and simple storytelling, with an appropriate finish to the feud.
John Cena was heavily booed by this Montreal crowd. Both men took some hard bumps. What’s funny after watching this match is the balancing act from WWE to protect John Cena from getting badly hurt but also having him take big bumps himself. If John Cena were to have taken little to no bumps during the match, it would have not gotten Cena over that greatly by the end of the match. However, they did have Cena take some huge spots including getting pushed off a big ladder by Lita and going through the table on the outside. That’s important as the crowd was never going to get behind a babyface that never “paid their dues” by taking a lot of punishment. The fact that Cena did though just made Cena look like a proper badass. Those fans in Montreal ended the night thinking “I hate Cena but he took a hell of a beating.” That’s what gets babyfaces over in modern day professional wrestling. That’s how Roman Reigns eventually got over when he won the WWE World title on RAW. Sadly that period of overness didn’t last long for poor old Roman.
Both men took some nasty hits during this. Edge hit the reverse DDT on Cena onto the chair, which I believe is a lot more painfully than it looks. Edge was innovative as usually in this TLC match, coming off the barricade and dropkicking the ladder in John Cena’s face. There was one bad botch where Edge was going for the sunset flip powerbomb on Cena but Cena held onto the ropes for too long. It was not as bad as the sunset flip spot that Kurt Angle and Scott Steiner once tried in TNA, which ended up being the finish off that match! That was actually followed up by “that was weak” chants from the Impact Zone! The TLC botch was followed up by Edge powerslamming Cena through the table!
Edge ran up the ladder to jump at Cena which seemed like a bit too much effort, when he could have just gotten on the apron or the turnbuckle which would have had the same effect as him running up the ladder. Cena hit the Throwback on the chair. Cena did a ladder guillotine on Edge which also looks way more painful than it seems. Cena followed it up with the STFU with Edge wedged in the ladder.
There was one really stupid looking spot which did take away from the seriousness and intensity of the match. Cena decided that he should give the ladder a FU onto Edge, which was one of the daftest looking things I’ve seen in a TLC match. Why did Cena have to do a move on the ladder when he could have just hit Edge with the ladder? It was more done for comedic purposes, which didn’t fit the intensity of the match and the storyline for that matter. Cena shouldn’t be messing around by giving Edge this move.
Edge responded with a hard, and I mean HARD, chair shot onto Cena. If you guys ever wondered why they banned chair shots to the head, this is why! I commend Cena for taking such a hard chair shot as it looked proper nasty. Edge hit the spear from one ladder to Cena on another ladder which was a much milder version of the Edge/Jeff Hardy spot from Wrestlemania 17. Cena powerbombed Edge onto the ladder. Cena looked like he was going to win when Lita showed up, who pushed Cena off the big ladder which saw him go through the table. That was the spot mentioned earlier.
Cena got back into the ring and Lita hit Cena with the chair. The only problem was that Lita’s chair shot caused Cena to stumble into a ladder that Edge was climbing, and Cena pushed Edge off it and through another table. Cena FUd Lita to take her out of the equation. It was down to a spot where two tables were stacked on top of each other. Edge and Cena battled on the top of a ladder and Cena hit the FU off the ladder and through the two tables. Cena took down the title and won the match.
This was a home run for WWE in terms of ending the feud on a high. There was a lot of issues with this match like the botch mentioned earlier. However, it was as good of a TLC match as you would have gotten out of Edge and Cena at the time. It actually exceeded my expectations at the time and it really did just work so well.
Match Rating: ****1/4
Overall, the pay-per-view was saved by a very eventful second half. The first few matches were very forgettable but it really did pick up with the Hell in a Cell match. There were very memorable aspects about the final four matches, even with Randy hitting the RKO counter on Carlito. This will go down as the show where Vince McMahon competed in a Hell in a Cell match and got his arse kicked. This will go down as the show where Trish Stratus retired after one of her greatest matches ever. This will go down as the show where John Cena hit the FU on Edge and put him through two tables. As a memorable show, this was successful as the most important matches were memorable. It’s not such a tragedy that the Highlanders vs the Spirit Squad wasn’t.
I will not be as bold as to say that this was the best pay-per-view of 2006. There were a number of pay-per-views that surpassed it. However, it’s very plausible to suggest that this was possibly one of the best RAW exclusive shows of the year. RAW came off looking really strong following this pay-per-view, which was really important going into new storylines. Now granted, not all of the storylines that followed were too great. However, fans in 2006 would have been filled with buzz knowing that there would be new storylines to dig into. If you can get your fans excited like that with a pay-per-view, you did a damn good job.
THUMBS UP FROM ME!

AJ Lee’s Retirement – My Thoughts and Reactions

So on Friday night, I was pretty much ready to go to bed. I was pretty tired after a day of university work combined with the How I Would Book Brock Lesnar vs Batista blog posts (part one’s on this link and part two at this link). I was pretty much set… until I read the following tweet from @WWE themselves. And it involved one of the most important divas on the roster and one of the most “over” divas in the last five years.

The tweet read….

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I sent out a blog post following the tweet and it’s proven to be a big hit! However, I wanted to do a follow-up piece a few days later and just before RAW. The first blog post was not really intended to be a huge analysis on the story. I did make a few observations here and there but it was short and sweet just to let you guys know of the situation at the time. Now a day or so has passed and I’ve decided to do the follow-up piece that I promised you when I wrote the first one. To take a look at the situation, what we NOW know about it and where WWE and AJ goes from here….  

So as stated, the only things we had before were the tweet sent by WWE and a tweet CM Punk sent out soon afterwards…

Now with her wife involved, this tweet was inevitable. But it’s probably Punk’s first mention in a REALLY long time. Possibly since the Colt Cabana podcast back in November. Of course, it didn’t hint at anything. However, I just felt it was just a nice thing to point out. Punk leading the praises of his wife as any husband should…

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Many more have tweeted about AJ as well. Mick Foley, as usual, was very active on social media about. Heck, the Bellas broke kayfabe to send their farewells to AJ too. And considering all the things AJ have said about the Bellas on television, it’s a ture touch of professionalism and class from the Bellas.

However, it’s still not known for certain WHY AJ “retired” or what the reasons were for her departure.

Just to state the record, we’re not going to throw around the idea that WWE are hiding something or some WWE conspiracy reason for her departure. That’s not what this post is for. It’s pretty much a summary of what we know and the impact of her “retirement”.

That being said, there have been “hints” for the reasons behind her sudden departure. At least to US it was sudden. Looking back at her Wrestlemania tag team match with Paige, it could be that AJ knew she was calling it a day at WWE.

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According to a NoDQ.com article,

“Regarding AJ Lee retiring from WWE, there’s already some speculation that she knew she was leaving this week before WrestleMania 31. A colleague who watched WrestleMania 31 with me thought that AJ’s post-match celebration with Paige “seemed weird” as if AJ knew this was her last big match. The two hugged for a while and AJ told Paige she loves her, which to most people didn’t seem out of the way at the time but is interesting now. We should have more on the AJ story later tonight so stay tuned.”

To be honest, I thought the huge was a pretty weird post-match celebration… at least from a kayfabe perspective. On the RAW before, Paige and AJ got into a scuffle and according to storyline couldn’t get along. Unless AJ was pulling out some unscripted jargon, which AJ has done quite a bit in the past, then there shouldn’t really be a reason for a hug like in the context of the story. Therefore, this speculation about AJ hugging Paige being a sign that AJ knew that she was leaving makes complete sense.

Again though, this doesn’t really explain WHY she left. It just indicates that AJ had been planning this departure for some time.

Now I think the general belief is that AJ’s last year in WWE has been quite an eventful one. Coming off the departure of her husband CM Punk, AJ’s been on the receiving end of a lot of idiotic “CM Punk” chants due to her relationship with the superstar turned MMA fighter. Not really AJ’s fault, but it probably effected her attitude in and out the ring a lot. AJ’s been known for a number of off-script or “shoot” moments in 2014, particularly with her Slammys speech where she praised a lot of the NXT women. I think with her being off of TV a lot of the time to be with her husband, she herself was pretty unhappy at the company.

I stated before that if AJ felt unhappy at the company than she should have just quit and I think she’s taken up my advice. I never said that in a nasty “I don’t want AJ at this company because I hate her” way by the way. It’s just if you don’t like your job and you feel it’s making you unhappy, then why bother continue it? I admire AJ for following her heart and choosing happiness over fame if that is the case. At least that’s the reason her husband gave for leaving in the Cabana podcast. So I don’t have a problem with her leaving what’s so ever. If anything, this opens the way for the NXT divas which AJ praised in the Slammys speech. This certainly paves the way for the likes of Paige and Naomi to becoming the top favorites in WWE. And that’s awesome for the both of them, who truly deserves it.

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Now before I wrap this up, I’m going to look at a theory for AJ’s departure. By the way, the only reason I’m referring to it as a “departure” is because the chances are she’s just leaving the company. It would make sense for WWE to input a bit of damage control for a top star leaving by referring to it as a “retirement”. That’s what they did with Jim Ross. Again, I’m not suggesting that this is some WWE conspiracy or something. I’m just saying you shouldn’t take everything WWE tells you to be the 100% truth. Just because THEY say AJ’s done from in-ring competition doesn’t mean that she’ll wind up wrestling in the indies in a few months time. As a journalism student, the first thing I was told was to question… everything!

However, this notion suggested over why AJ left did need to be questioned… purely because of how daft it is!

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InQuisitr writer Patrick Frye suggested that the UFC would be in AJ’s immediate future, following her husband into the octagon. One of the smallest divas I’ve seen in WWE fighting the toughest women in the world in the realms of MMA. Patrick first writes…

“During UFC 182, CM Punk spent almost an hour talking during a Q & A session. At one point, he was asked about who he thought could also end up in the UFC over time. Perhaps giving us a hint of things to come, CM Punk said he couldn’t count out AJ Lee as a possibility. With AJ Lee leaving the WWE, the possibility seems more than just an off-the-cuff remark.

“Ronda Rousey just so happens to be a big fan of CM Punk. In fact, the first time they met in person Rousey actually fangasmed all over Punk. While it’s questionable whether AJ Lee Vs. Ronda Rousey would be a good idea based upon MMA skill (or lack thereof), you have to believe that Dana White is seeing potential dollar signs floating in the air.”

Saying Rousey is a big of Punk is a potential reason for AJ wanting to go to WWE is like me saying that because Jeremy Clarkson is a fan of Will Young, he’s gonna start performing duets with the singer and form a band with him! As great of a future that sounds,that’s obviously NOT going to happen.

Also, the potential of AJ vs Rousey is very far-fetched considering the weight differences between the two. AJ Lee weights 52kg, compared to Rousey’s 61kg. You have to be at least 57kg in order to compete in the division so a potential fight is unlikely unless AJ were to proper beef up!

I can’t necessarily RULE OUT a UFC run for AJ since I thought there was no way Punk would sign with UFC and I was proven wrong. However, the idea of Rousey vs AJ at UFC is pretty ridiculous and UFC can’t constantly be thinking of signing AJ to their women’s division. Unless they were doing to say “Screw you WWE” or just as a publicity stunt, in which case that would be pretty absurd.

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I was gonna keep going through other theories as well like marriage problems and a potential pregnancy but I’ve decided to call it a day for now. My estimation is that it’s down to simply AJ being unhappy at the company. It’s pretty hard not to be. Considering a lot of wrestlers that have left WWE nowadays seem to be leaving on sour terms, it seems to be that Punk’s description of WWE as being a very toxic working environment is pretty accurate. AJ having taken breaks from WWE a few times in the past year were probably indicators to this.

All I can say is that after four years, AJ Lee is no longer a WWE diva. To say that AJ’s career was “legendary” seems to be a little too much. I’d hardly call it a Hall Of Fame worthy run, as Joey Styles suggested. But in her time in WWE, AJ did impact the WWE divas division quite a bit. Having held the divas title for nearly a year herself, AJ’s done a pretty good job in getting people talking about the women of WWE. But with her career only lasting four years and a lot of it being clouded by affiliation with CM Punk, I don’t think her career had reached the point of legendary. I don’t think she did so much for the company that she should be bestowed this honor. Unless she were to somewhere down the road return, I don’t think she’s done enough to be considered one of the best divas of all time.I personally didn’t see her to be SUCH a strong in-ring worker.

But nevertheless, AJ was still a top diva, even at the end of her run. And good luck to her, wherever she ends up…

17/06/2013 RAW REBOUND – Brock vs Punk, AJ vs Stephaine, and Ziggler’s Revenge

Hello lovely, lovely wrestling fans. I am “The One Man Gang” Tom Robinson. And YES, I am actually reviewing RAW! And it was a good RAW. With a LOT to talk about. I want to focus on a couple of things….

Mark Henry’s “Retirement”

MARK HENRY: Certainly Digging The Suit Bro

MARK HENRY: Certainly Digging The Suit Bro

Yeah after a dozen of cryptic messages on Twitter teasing a potential retirement, Mark Henry interrupted WWE Champion John Cena’s promo late on in the episode of RAW. Mark Henry came out and made a typical retirement speech which was actually pretty funny. He basically thanked the fans and said “I’m coming home”. He then went to hug John Cena… and delivered a WORLD’S STRONGEST SLAM to the champion and saying he’s still got a lot in the tank. Mark Henry made an emphatic statement and challenged Cena for the WWE Championship. Later on, the match was booked by Vickie Guerrero for Money In The Bank. Just a little curious why WWE would go this route if Daniel Bryan was supposed to be next line for a title shot? Sure, Daniel did hint at challenging for the WWE title himself last night but I’d figure they wouldn’t announce a WWE Title match at Money In The Bank such a short amount of time after the last one. Maybe things will change. Maybe D-Bry might fight Henry for the spot at Money In The Bank. We’ll have to wait and see.

Unlikely Alliances Sees Zeb Colter and Antonio Cesaro Join Forces

ANTONIO CESARO AND ZEB COLTER: Yeah, because this makes total sense right?

ANTONIO CESARO AND ZEB COLTER: Yeah, because this makes total sense right?

Really WWE? Really? This has no logic in it at all. You’re telling me that Zeb Colter, a man who has banged on for months about being a “Real American” and people from other countries coming into America and taking their jobs, is suddenly going to join forces with a Swiss-Born man who shits on America all the time Antonio Cesaro? This is probably the dumbest thing WWE has ever done. Yeah if WWE had Colter change his ways and start appreciating foreigners it’d make some sense. But Colter said Cesaro embodies a “Real American”. It’s hypocritical and it baffles me beyond belief. How can this alliance possibly work? It’s ridiculous. Oh yeah, his match with one William Regal (yes he got a match on RAW for once) was a short but sound technical wrestling bout. It’s nice seeing grapplers like this squaring off. We need more on the scene in WWE.

Damien Sandow defeats Sheamus… sort of

DAMIEN SANDOW: Big Victory For The Intellectual Saviour Of The Masses

DAMIEN SANDOW: Big Victory For The Intellectual Saviour Of The Masses

Well Sandow won a handicap match with Cody Rhodes, but it’s cool that Sandow’s not walking out of this feud (assuming it’s over) winless. Big win over a top superstar for Sandow, even if it was off a roll up. Sandow beat Sheamus and that’s awesome.

“The Instant Classic” Christian Returns After 10 Months On The Shelf

CHRISTIAN: Returning Christian Acting Like He's Won The Olympics

CHRISTIAN: Returning Christian Acting Like He’s Won The Olympics

Good news for the Christian Coalition. Christian returned and defeated Wade Barrett (-.-) on his return. It’s nice seeing Christian back around Money In The Bank period. I hope that Christian gets pushed back into the World Title scene, especially with Del Rio as World Champion. His match with Barrett was short, but the return got the fans excited and let’s see what Captain Charisma has in store for us.

The AJ Lee/Stephanie McMahon Confrontation

AJ LEE AND STEPHANIE MCAMAHON: If you could have any two women in a WWE segment, it'd likely be these two.

AJ LEE AND STEPHANIE MCAMAHON: If you could have any two women in a WWE segment, it’d likely be these two.

Now I LOVED this segment. Two of my favourite women in professional wrestling history engaging in a confrontation on RAW. The similarities between these two are so evident and AJ held her own against Stephanie on the mic. It’s good that the Divas Champion AJ has got a chance to have a verbal exchange with someone as important in WWE as Stephanie. AJ is also documented of being a HUGE fan of Stephanie and this has to be a little buzz for her too. This was a great segment and when it gets uploaded on YouTube (Give it time. It will) watch it. This was such a great segment to see. Of course, Kaityln and the rest of the divas sort of ruined it at the end but I bet a lot of you were buzzing after watching that segment. I know I was.

POWER IS EVERYTHING – Vince McMahon, Triple H and Stephanie battle for control of RAW

I’m starting to dig this storyline of power-struggle between the McMahons. Who doesn’t like a good family feud? It was class seeing Vickie Guerrero in the middle of Triple H and Vince arguing about how to handle business and Stephanie getting a little bit of input too. This storyline could really work, but I didn’t get why the Triple H vs Curtis Axel thing was sort of dropped? I mean they did advertise it on WWE.com. Hmmmmmmmm.

Daniel Bryan Injured In Battle With Randy Orton

DANIEL BRYAN: Hurt After NoDQ match with Randy Orton

DANIEL BRYAN: Hurt After NoDQ match with Randy Orton

Yeah, apparently this was not a storyline injury. According to this article in NoDQ.com, “the storyline where Daniel Bryan suffered a stinger during his match with Randy Orton was actually a legitimate injury. Bryan was originally scheduled to win against Orton, but once the injury occurred, plans changed and the match was stopped.” Yeah, this may have been the reason why Bryan was pulled from Money In The Bank but I hope this isn’t too serious. Daniel Bryan is on a roll. He’s super-over with the fans, his in-ring has been exceptional. The writers are behind him. However, an injury will cause all that momentum to crack. He is still scheduled to compete against Dean Ambrose on the SmackDown! tapings so I wonder if he’ll be pulled.

Alberto Del Rio Turns His Back On The Fans And Dolph Ziggler Gets Revenge

DOLPH ZIGGLER: Payback For Getting Beat at errr... Payback

DOLPH ZIGGLER: Payback For Getting Beat at errr… Payback

Funnily enough, RAW actually started with the World Heavyweight Champion. When was the last time the World Champion started-off a RAW post-PPV? Normally it’s either John Cena or some other mega-star. I guess they want the World Title to mean something again. And I think that was confirmed when CM Punk of all people confronted the new World Champion (we’ll get on to CM Punk in a bit). Anyway, Del Rio vs CM Punk was booked for the main event. The match was alright, but it ended in a count out when Del Rio chose the cowardly route out of the match with Punk. And while he ran, Ziggler attacked Del Rio! Ziggler got a great reaction. The fans wanted Ziggler to come out all night and Ziggler got a massive FACE reaction. This double-turn with Del Rio turning heel and Ziggler turning face might actually be a stroke of genius on WWE’s part. Now on to the big one….

Brock Lesnar confronts CM Punk

CM PUNK AND BROCK LESNAR: If you watched this, you got goosebumps.

CM PUNK AND BROCK LESNAR: If you watched this, you got goosebumps.

Yeah, what a way to end RAW. The show saw CM Punk seemingly show Heyman the door. He said he’s always going to be a Paul Heyman guy, but he needs to be by himself right now and gain momentum. And Heyman agreed to not get involved in his match with Del Rio. Then CM Punk won via count-out against Del Rio. CM Punk celebrates in the ring. BUT THEN…..

HOLY SHIT! LET THE ROAD TO SUMMERSLAM BEGIN! Brock Lesnar comes out at the end of Raw and F5’s CM Punk. What a class ending. This feud has been rumoured and talked about for years! And now it’s finally coming to fruition. It’ll likely be Summerslam. I don’t think these two will clash at Money In The Bank. I think this is just laying the ground work. CM Punk will do something else at Money In The Bank and fight Lesnar at Summerslam. The battle of the Paul Heyman Guys! I’m looking forward to the next couple of months in the build up to this match. It appears CM Punk will be the face in this feud and that’s fine. It’s gonna be a hell of a journey from now until Summerslam for these two. HERE COMES THE PAIN!

Anyway! Epic RAW. Loving everything that went on last night. There are a couple things I haven’t talked about like Chris Jericho’s match with Heath Slater and Curtis Axel vs Sin Cara but there was a lot of things going on last night. I just had to focus on the big areas of last night. Really good RAW heading into Money In The Bank. A couple of returns, a couple of confrontations and we saw BROCK LESNAR. It was probably the best RAW I’ve seen all year. And yeah, that beats the RAW after Wrestlemania. Just a great night of wrestling and drama last night.

That was the RAW review. I’m Tom Robinson and I want too leave you with this random theme song that is really fit for the real man’s man. XD