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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Main Event 31/05/16 Review: Sasha Banks vs Summer Rae – The Return Of The Boss

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with the Armbar Express, with a small review of the women’s match from this week’s episode of Main Event. This episode featured the return of “The Boss” Sasha Banks to television, as she defeated Summer Rae upon her return. The main point of the match was for Sasha to return in triumphant fashion and beat her former BFF Summer Rae. No mention of their previous relationship by the commentators for this match. SPEAKING OF WHICH…

The commentators for this episode of Main Event was Tom Phillips, Jerry Lawler and guest commentator Dolph Ziggler. I know that there’s a lot of fans that love Dolph Ziggler but I have to be honest – this was a pretty bad outing from the man. In a way, I do feel bad for Dolph as this was probably just a last minute deal for him to be on this show as a commentator. I also think commentary is probably a lot more difficult than people realise. With that said though, he was just so hard to deal with on commentary. He started out seemingly lost and not having a lot to say. He and Lawler started cracking jokes about the women, including about how Ziggler apparently couldn’t remember Summer Rae’s name despite the fact that Ziggler and Summer were involved in one of the most promoted angles of 2015. We all know how that turned out…

Then, as Jerry Lawler was making jokes, Ziggler started talking and becoming a lot more active. He began raising his voice more and more until the closing part of the match, where all Ziggler did was just screech at the top of his lungs. All of this was just a complete channel-changer when it came to the commentary. Tom Phillips was average, Jerry did everything but talk about the match and Ziggler was just not a fit out there in the slightest. The thing that was most alarming and worrying about all of this though was their treatment of Summer Rae…

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Summer Rae came out to cut this promo and she’s trying her best to build up anticipation for the WWE Brand Extension. Even though she’s on the fourth most important show WWE has to offer, she’s doing the best with what she’s got. While she’s cutting this promo, the Main Event commentary team couldn’t help but laugh and mock her while she was talking. You could hear all of this sniggering from Jerry Lawler and Dolph Ziggler while Summer is cutting this promo, which was not actually that bad considering that there are far worse promo-cutters on the main roster than Summer. Actually, her delivery and her poise is pretty great. She carries herself around as unique and as a star, even if she isn’t one. She’s like the women’s division’s version of the Miz, who does such a great job in playing the heel that you love to boo.

Summer claimed that mainstream media were talking about where she would be going in the draft when Sasha Banks came out. Sasha was talking about everyone talking about the other women on the roster, when they should be talking about Sasha. Summer did mess up a little when she was talking about Sasha competing in the triple threat at WrestleMania, really just in the delivery. The announcers couldn’t help but laugh in order to hurt Summer’s credibility. She claimed that she would have won the Women’s title if she was in the women’s match at Mania and Sasha claimed that Summer couldn’t even catch Sasha’s mic. Sasha threw her mic at Summer and SUMMER CAUGHT IT! This led to a brawl to kick-off the match.

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The two girls brawled on the apron which led to Summer booting Sasha off it to take control. Summer did the submission that a lot of women do, where she gets behind her opponent and traps Sasha’s arms with her legs. To make a complete joke of the situation, Dolph asked Jerry if he’d ever been in that position. Jerry’s answer was “I wish.”

Summer hit some moves including the “Super Model Kick” which got a near fall. They went back-and-forth until Sasha won with the Bank Statement.

The match itself was OK but the commentary was the real highlight of the whole ordeal, although this was quite the opposite of a highlight in all honesty. It was memorable because in case you’ve missed it, WWE have spent the last year pushing the women’s division and attempting to give the women a new-found purpose. They wanted the fans to treat this more than just filler in between the angles involving the men. They wanted to make them seem as genuine commodities to the roster. On RAW, they made this big video package about Charlotte’s supposedly shocking turn on her father Ric. They had the likes of Dean Ambrose and ironically Dolph Ziggler talking about this big angle, in an attempt to make it seem like the Flair stuff was a major angle for the product. That’s how much they wanted this to work.

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Then I listen to this commentary and any faith in the idea that WWE are giving it their all to make this division vieable again is just quickly undone. If you want to build up someone as a top star in your company, then you need other wrestlers around in order to help elevate that person. You need “stars” in order to try and make a superstar out of your proposed champion. Sasha Banks is reportedly in line for a program with Charlotte, which is expected to be for Summerslam.

I personally don’t believe that these plans will stay the same and I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog (I’ll leave the links for these posts at the bottom of this post). If these plans are legitimate and they ended up going with Sasha, they need to build her up right. Sasha beating women cleanly is fine. However, the announcers spent the entire segment and match burying Summer and trying to make her out to be a complete joke. Perception is reality, as the old saying goes, and how the fans perceive these acts will have a bigger effect than what everyone thinks.

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If the commentators are making Summer out to be a joke, the fans will perceive Summer Rae to be a joke. If the fans perceive Summer as a joke, they will perceive Sasha as a joke for not taking out this joke a lot sooner into the match (keep in mind that Summer had the majority of the heat too). If they perceive Sasha as a joke, they will perceive Charlotte and her title reign as a joke as only jokers are competing for her championship. If they perceive Charlotte as a joke, they will perceive the entire division as a joke as their champion has no legitimate challengers to pose as a threat as the whole division is filled with jokes. In fact, the announcers were laughing at the possibility of anyone caring about Summer Rae!

THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE LEGITIMATE MAIN EVENT OF THE SHOW.

I don’t care if this is the least most important show that WWE have to offer. This match is supposed to be the main attraction for the viewers of this particular episode and the announcers are telling you not to care by laughing at these talents. If I was a commentator, I’d be doing my best to tell you that these girls… ARE STARS.

It may seem as a small match to complain about but this was just one of the greater examples about how this division cannot possibly “evolve” with the direction they are taking it.

 

Related Links

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

16/05/2016 RAW Review – Women’s Title Contract Signing Closes RAW Once Again

SLTD: The Women’s Devolution

 

Extreme Rules 2016 Review – Extremely Fine Professional Wrestling

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Kalisto (c) vs Rusev for the United States Championship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dean Ambrose vs Chris Jericho in an Asylum match

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retro Express – Summerslam 2007

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Summerslam has been established as the WWE’s second biggest pay-per-view of the year, being the Summer equivalent of WrestleMania in the eyes of some. With it given the nickname of the “biggest party of the summer,” there’s clearly a lot of pressure on it to succeed. In the 2007 installment of the show, with likes of Undertaker, Shawn Michaels and Edge all out of action as well as the show’s main event riding on the first ever title match between Randy Orton and John Cena, could it live up to the high standards set by previous editions of Summerslam?

 

WWE Summerslam

Date: August 26th 2007

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Attendance: 17,000

 

Finlay vs Kane

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The first match was a SmackDown! grudge match between Kane and Finlay. Apparently this feud started when Finlay accidentally spilled coffee on Kane. Yes, THAT’S what instigated this feud. COFFEE. This was the Kane/Chris Jericho feud from 2000 all over again, which saw Kane go crazy.

Kane’s ribs were taped up after an attack by Finlay a few weeks beforehand, which leads me into an important point I’d like to make. If you’re going into a fight against a tactical fighter like Finlay, why would you make your injuries clear by taping up whatever wounds you have as you wrestle? I know this happens all the time in wrestling but a wise tactic to employ would be to try and make your opponent think that your ribs aren’t hurt so he might not target it. It always seems to me that Kane just put a huge bullseye on his ribs.

This proved to be true as Finlay targeted Kane’s ribs throughout the match. The match showcased some decent ring psychology as a result of the rib injury as Finlay used innovative but punishing methods in order to knock the wind out of Kane. I can tell you from personal experience that a punch in the gut is more punishing that it seems.

Kane was dominating early on though while continuing to sell his injury. Finlay’s offense include dropping Kane rib-first on the turnbuckle and doing a bonzai drop to Kane’s gut. As all this was going on, JBL on commentary turned his attentions to Batista vs The Great Khali for a solid minute. Finlay then went for a single leg boston crab. I was about to write in my notes about how this seemed out of place in terms of the psychology, until Finlay actually applied pressure to the ribs by standing on them while locking on this hold. That was a nice little touch.

Kane got back to his feet and delivered an enziguri. He is a big man, so seeing him pull that off is still cool. Kane started a comeback which led to WWE Cruiserweight Champion Hornswoggle coming out to a huge pop. Kane chased Hornswoggle and threw him into the ring. In one of the biggest hope spots of the show, Kane grabbed Hornswoggle for a double chokeslam alongside Finlay but both of them were able to evade it. We were SO CLOSE to seeing Kane chokeslam Hornswoggle! What a spot that would have been!

The finish saw Finlay undoing the turnbuckle. As the referee tried to fix this, Finlay got out his shillelagh but Kane blocked the attack. Kane tried to use it but the referee stopped him. As the referee threw the first shillelagh away, Finlay got another one and whacked Kane in the gut with it. Kane kicked out, hit the chokeslam and won.

A fine opener. I liked this, although I could have done without the comedy in the end with Hornswoggle. This is supposed to be a feud between two mean tough guys. Having Hornswoggle contribute to the finish off the match just took away some of the intensity of it all. Despite that, the crowd were into it for the finish which was good. A thumbs up for the opener.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

We had a Summerslam party going on, with Vince McMahon and the general managers for RAW, SmackDown! and ECW, as well as Jonathan Coachman. RAW was ran by William Regal, SmackDown! was ran by Teddy Long and ECW was ran by Armando Estrada. As sad as it is, this was Armando’s only appearance on the entire show. Vince talked about his illegitimate son (yeah, they were running with this angle at the time) when Santino Marella came in. He claimed to be Vince’s son and then left. United States Champion MVP walked in and buried Teddy Long’s efforts as the general manager of SmackDown!, as MVP was not booked. MVP asked to make an open challenge to Matt Hardy, who he was feuding with at the time. Vince gave it the OK. After Regal hinted at himself being Vince’s son, Vince and Coach began talking about being with women from the UK. All of this was very awkward stuff and none of this “party” was really entertaining at all, with the exception of a later segment involving Cryme Tyme which we’ll get to…

 

Umaga (c) vs Mr Kennedy vs Carlito for the Intercontinental Championship

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This was during the very brief face run of Umaga, as he took on the two heels in Mr Kennedy and Carlito. There was a fan in the crowd who wore a wig and a bag over his head with a sign saying “Carlito’s embarrassed brother!” One of the best gimmicks among the crowd during this show!

I also want you all to take into account that a big main-event run was initially being planned for Kennedy as part of the “illegitimate child” storyline involving Vince McMahon. This was prior to his suspension which ended his push but Kennedy was reportedly scheduled to be taking the WWE Championship from John Cena and going on to face Triple H at WrestleMania. Remember all of this as I discussed how the match went.

Kennedy and Carlito tried to from an alliance with Umaga to take out the other guy but Umaga responded by destroying them both. They tried double-teaming him which failed. Umaga went for his hip attack on Carlito when Kennedy distracted him, which led to Carlito dropkicking Umaga. A strange attack from Kennedy was when he did a running stomp onto Umaga, when the Samoan was laid on the steel steps. I don’t know why Kennedy needed to run to do the stomp when he could have just done it up close to have the same effect.

Carlito tried a roll-up on Kennedy but the referee stopped the count when Carlito’s hands were on the rope for leverage. Now, this is one of the great inconsistencies of WWE in terms of the triple threat. The triple threat match is supposed to be no disqualification right? Well if that was the case, then surely the referee was in the wrong the prevent Carlito from grabbing the ropes? I’ve seen this happen time after time but there appears to be no official stance on whether the referees should be stopping these pinfalls. It’s similar to grabbing the ropes when locked in a submission. It’s no disqualification but the wrestlers go for the ropes anyway. I know it’s a habit-thing but it’s just interesting to think about.

Kennedy hit Jeff Jarrett’s “stroke” finisher on Carlito but Umaga pulled him to the floor. Umaga did the diving headbutt onto Carlito and went for the splash, but Carlito was moved out of the way by Kennedy. Kennedy hit Umaga with the television monitor from the announce table. Carlito and Kennedy ganged up on Umaga and attempted to do a double suplex. However, they themselves were double-teamed by Umaga. The referee started to count the three of them as they were all laid out IN A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH! Jim Ross even stated on commentary: “Referee counting – I don’t know why!” At least Jim Ross didn’t try to cover up how stupid the referee was being. He’s acknowledging the match stipulation inconsistencies head on!

Umaga ran wild until Kennedy sent him to the outside by pulling down the ropes as Umaga hit them. Kennedy hit the rolling fireman’s carry on Carlito and went for the cover but Umaga simply stopped him, hit him with the Samoan Spike and pinned KENNEDY to retain the title.

If you have a triple threat match involving a big monster like Umaga, someone else that you’re looking to push as a main-eventer like Kennedy and another dude like Carlito, why would you beat Kennedy clean in the middle. What was the point in Carlito being there, if he wasn’t supposed to be the one eating the pin? It was not like Kennedy came so close to winning and Umaga stole the victory. Umaga destroyed these two men, hit Kennedy with the Samoan Spike and pinned him. Kennedy and Carlito came off as complete losers following this destruction from Umaga.

It is possible that the reason Carlito didn’t get pinned was because he was expected to feud with Triple H for Unforgiven following this. By that logic, then this would imply that WWE believed at the time that Triple H’s next opponent was more important than protecting a man scheduled for a title run. That’s some logic.

The match itself was not that great. I was not a fan of this match and I felt it was very slow and sloppy. While it is fun watching Umaga destroying people, I felt that this match should have been a lot more competitive than it ended up being.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

Rey Mysterio vs Chavo Guerrero

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This was Mysterio’s comeback match after ten months out of action. He was written off television when Chavo defeated him in an great I Quit match on SmackDown! Rey was back in action and you could tell that this was a completely different Rey Mysterio after ten months out with an injury. As surprising as this may sound, Rey looked way bigger than usual as he came out. He was painted all in silver for his entrance, which all completely disappeared as soon as the match was over.

After a few minutes of feeling each other out, Rey fired up and targeted Chavo’s knee. This was a call-back to the way Chavo had took out Rey in the I Quit match. Chavo quickly returned the favour and went after Rey’s leg. The key to the match was that Rey kept trying to go for his 619 finisher, but his leg kept giving out. Chavo Guerrero did a tremendous job in getting heat and wrestling as the heel. That’s one of Chavo’s greatest attributes as a wrestler. When he gets the heat on a babyface, he does it effectively.

Chavo went for a single leg boston crab and JBL immediately yelled “BALL GAME!” So for the record, JBL was constantly yelling out “ball game” as early as 2007. Chavo got caught up in the tree of woe and Rey started his comeback. In a spot which I’ll always love, Rey went for a moonsault but Chavo caught him. Rey then countered this into a DDT. I’ve seen Rey (and probably Chavo for that matter) perform this spot before and it almost always looks great.

Rey went for a splash but missed. Chavo hit the Gory Bomb but Rey kicked out. This was actually a great near fall and JBL was doing this hardest to try and sell the Gory Bomb, claiming that nobody had ever kicked out of it. Chavo went for the Three Amigos and he was about the deliver the third suplex, when Rey got out of it. I thought that Chavo’s knee “gave out” which would have worked into the story of the match, as Rey worked on Chavo’s knee throughout. Rey went for a 619 and finally hit it on his third try and pinned Chavo. A good match with basic ring psychology and a great story told. Rey was coming back from an injury and had to work through the injury in order to finally put away Chavo. This was solid professional wrestling.

Match Rating: ***

 

Todd Grisham interviewed King Booker. King Booker was set to face the returning Triple H. He congratulated Rey Mysterio on his victory but he still buried Rey’s comeback story. Booker told Triple H to take in his grand entrance as it would be the high point of his night. He vowed to make Triple H bow before him.

 

Beth Phoenix vs Maria vs Mickie James vs Melina vs Michelle McCool vs Jillian Hall vs Torrie Wilson vs Victoria vs Kristal vs Layla vs Kelly Kelly vs Brooke in a inter-promotional divas battle royal for a future Women’s Championship match

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Boy, was this ever something. I know there’s been several bad women’s battle royals over the years but this an ungodly mess. The thing is that I did a review of the fulfill your fantasy battle royal at Taboo Tuesday 2005, and that was actually a decent battle royal. That was a women’s battle royal done right and it had a structure to it. In this inter-promotional battle royal, it was quite the opposite.

Candice Michelle was the women’s champion going into this and her theme was remixed version of her original “What Love Is” theme. This was proof that the original is usually always the best as this remix was a dubstep nightmare. The song featured random air horns, sirens and a woman chanting “raise your hands up” in a song put together by someone that clearly had never done dubstep before. I’ve never been a major fan of dubstep and remixes like this but I promise you that all the great DJs in the music industry would be screaming if they ever heard this attempt at a “tune.”

Candice was sat on this movie set chair in front of the announcers, completely blocking their view. The way that Candice was watching this match seemed so unnatural that it almost seemed that she was acting while watching this match when she could have just… watched the match as if she were a fan to project much more interest from your character.

So the women all came out, the bell and thus began some of the scrappiest brawling I’ve ever seen. Kelly Kelly and Kristal spent a good several minutes in the middle of the ring, brawling in the typical cat-fight style. At times, it was almost as if these girls just froze in that position. As everyone else was doing “spots,” they were just… there. I understand that these two women weren’t the greatest workers in the world, but I expected more of a showing from them considering that this was for a WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH.

Beth was dominant from the get go, eliminating Brooke (who was in fact Miss Tessmacher/Brooke while in TNA) by throwing her to the outside. Looked like it sucked for Brooke. Layla and Maria were both eliminated, with Maria being eliminated by Jillian Hall. After brawling with Kelly Kelly for what seemed like an eternity, Kristal eliminated Victoria. Pretty shocking was the treatment of Victoria in this match. It would have been great if it came down to Victoria and Beth Phoenix in the final two.

Kristal was accidentally eliminated by Michelle McCool, after McCool tried to attack Mickie James. Wasn’t exactly the smoothest of accidental elimination spots. Beth and Torrie Wilson eliminated Kelly Kelly. Mickie’s hurricanrana elimination of Jillian Hall was messed up as Jillian was hung up on the top rope, so Torrie had to intervene to eliminate Jillian. At least at this point in her career, Torrie had the experience and in-ring awareness in order to improvise when things went wrong.

Melina eliminated Mickie James. Michelle was supposed to clothesline Melina over the top rope in order to eliminate but that got botched as well, so Torrie had to intervene again. Beth then eliminated Torrie which led to the final two of Beth Phoenix and Michelle McCool. Michelle was very green at this point in her career but they were still trying to push this woman as the top diva on SmackDown! Unfortunately, she was not really up to scratch at this point. Some very sloppy stuff here in the final two. Beth dumped her out of the ring to win the battle royal.

This was very sloppy stuff, with a lot of these women being very inexperienced at this point in their career. Unfortunately, these women were given a lot of time and spots to do which really hurt their image. Michelle, in particular, was not able to work to a great level. At least there was a good winner in Beth and she really did standout from the crowd, so at least she seemed like a credible threat to the Women’s Championship.

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

MVP vs Matt Hardy in an open challenge

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To show you just how much WWE cared about the women’s match, MVP’s music hit 30 seconds after Beth won the whole thing! MVP, in fact, reminded us that no matter how many women you brought out, nobody paid to see them! MVP was an awesome promo-cutter at this time and he was great with his feud/future tag team with Matt Hardy. MVP talked about drinking drinks that were suitable for a MVP like himself. He challenged Matt to a beer-drinking contest. Matt Hardy came out and Michael Cole mentioned that Matt and MVP were scheduled to challenge for the tag team titles on SmackDown! a few days later. Spoiler alert… Matt and MVP won the belts that night.

As soon as MVP said “beer drinking contest,” the fans started to figure out where this was going and chanted “We Want Austin.” Matt mentioned that MVP brought in a substitute, Evander Holyfield, to replace him in a boxing match with Matt at Saturday Night’s Main Event. Matt said he was going to do the same thing and that his substitute would be a beer drinking champion. The Austin chants grew louder and louder which is funny, because The Sandman was still employed with WWE I believe so it could have very well been him and it would have made sense! Austin was the man that came out though to a HUGE reaction.

This segment was so great as what you expected to happen ACTUALLY happened and it was still great. Matt Hardy even had a look in his face as if to say, “this is going to be great.” Steve Austin got in the ring and prepared for this beer drinking content by warming up! He was running the ropes, doing press-ups and doing star jumps as part of his warm-up! Austin then got out the beers… and then simply hit MVP with a stunner! It was all great, with MVP selling the stunner really well! Austin drank some beer and the people were happy!

Segment Rating: ***

 

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They showed a quick advertisement for WrestleMania 24, which was one the best WrestleManias of all time in my opinion. It’s funny because the logo they used in this advert (the one above) was not the one they ended up going with for the actual show. Interesting how plans change, even with the logos!

 

Next up came a legendary segment, as Cryme Tyme interrupted the general manager party backstage. Shad called Vince McMahon “Vinny Mac,” which disgusted the chairman! The tag team talked about Vince’s illegitimate son and that it could be one of them because Vince and Cryme Tyme both love money. This led to Cryme Tyme singing and dancing to their catchphrase “money, money, yeah, yeah.” Jonathan Coachman and Teddy Long both joined in as Cryme Tyme, Coach and Teddy began a circle of dance around the disgusted Vince and William Regal. JTG then put his hat on William Regal, which was apparently the hat of dance. I say this because after a few seconds of being bewildered by this hat, Regal started dancing with the others! This was not just like a reluctant dance from Regal. He went ALL OUT with his dancing and had such joy on his face! He gave us the jazz hands, he gave us a goofy smile and he gave us the rhythm. He went nuts! After Regal went into his own solo dance, the room went silent. Regal turned around to be confronted by Ron Simmons. Ron said “DAMN” and Regal was left gloomy, having realised what he just did.

This was a FIVE STAR wrestling comedy segment if I ever saw one. This is right up there with the segment on RAW, where Ric Flair played musical chairs. The whole ordeal backstage with all the general managers having a party was hard to sit through but when Regal went through with his dance, it was almost like all went right with the world. Regal has an incredible sense of comedy, coming from his own love of old British comedy. They should have just put the WWE title on Regal for that segment alone. What a great man William Regal is!

 

John Morrison (c) vs CM Punk for the ECW Championship

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This was the only ECW-exclusive match on the night. In a way I felt kind of bad for these two, as this crowd was just dead for this match. With the crowd coming off Steve Austin’s appearance and THAT segment with William Regal, and going into Triple H’s return as well as the two other world title matches, this was really was put in the death spot for the show.

Funnily enough, we got a “15 minutes of lame” sign from the crowd! For those of you that don’t know, John Morrison was running a weekly segment on ECW called the “15 minutes of fame,” where his opponent had to beat him in 15 minutes. In a way, this was like John Cena’s US Championship Open Challenge and gave a lot of ECW talent time. A very productive means to get talent over.

Despite the crowd not really being into the match, CM Punk got a big reaction as he was coming down. Scott Armstrong was the referee for this one, although I don’t remember seeing any of his signature dramatic two counts in this match! CM Punk pulled off a springboard dropkick, which was very cool. John Morrison did a very impactful neckbreaker on the ring apron. John took over with a series of uppercuts. There was a decent spot where Punk did a sunset flip on Morrison, with Morrison catapulting Punk into the turnbuckle. Punk was able to land on the top rope though and deliver a crossbody to Morrison. Good stuff!

Punk delivered a sweet looking enziguri. Morrison followed that with a slick reversal of the Pepsi Plunge, which he turned into a backbreaker. Morrison went for the Moonlight Drive, with Punk countering it to finally hit the Pepsi Plunge. Punk did a moonsault. Punk clotheslined Morrison off the ropes, which I’m always worried will wind up going badly wrong for the one taking the bump. Punk missed a hurricanrana and Morrison rolled him up, barely putting his feet on the ropes for the pin. This was a very lame ending to a decent match but there was a little bit of sloppiness to it from both men. I do remember the ECW title match where Punk won the belt being good though, so at least the chemistry between these two improved over time.

Match Rating: **3/4

 

They showed us a side-by-side shot of The Great Khali and Batista warming up for their World Heavyweight Championship match later on. It was funny as this was NOT the next match on the card!

 

Triple H vs King Booker w/Queen Sharmell

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Being the child that I am, I did snigger at a sign in the crowd which had “King Booger” on it! Triple H had an astonishingly grand entrance for his return match against King Booker, with a video being played which claimed that Triple H had been re-built. Triple H, has in fact, lived out his dream of being the Terminator several times in the WWE over the years. For all the Terminator references WWE has done over the years, you’d think they would have done Triple H vs Arnold “The Terminator” Schwarzenegger by now!

Triple H came out to the “King of Kings” intro before going into his normal theme song. Triple H fired up and then beat him up on the outside. Booker took over when Sharmell distracted Triple H. Hunter was distracted, which allowed Booker to do a dropkick to his knee. This played into his quadricep injury which forced Triple H out of action. This was then followed by Triple H delivering a chop block to Booker! Apparently, Triple H is immune to normal ring psychology!

Triple H locked on the Figure Four Leg Lock but Sharmell raked Triple H’s eyes to get Booker out of it. Triple H did the comeback and tried a pedigree, but Booker got out of it. There was a cool spot where Booker tried the scissors kicks which was dodged by Hunter and eventually led to the Book End for a near fall. Triple H quickly followed that up with the pedigree after ducking Booker’s side kick, to pick up the win. An alright match which served nothing more than to get Triple H his big comeback victory as King Booker would soon leave the company after this match. Triple H got a standing ovation from the announcers.

Match Rating: **

 

The Great Khali (c) w/Ranjin Singh vs Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship

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When you consider how much of a draw and how much a success a Brock Lesnar match can be, it’s a constant reminder that there’s no real certain way to book a great match. Of course there are elements featured in a number of matches that make them good matches but you don’t have to be a match that flows in a similar pattern to those matches to be a success. If Brock Lesnar proves anything, it’s that him simply hitting German suplexes on wrestlers throughout a match can still give you one of the most memorable matches of the year. He had two of the best matches of 2012 and 2015 with John Cena and Roman Reigns respectively, and they were both essential squash matches up until the finish.

This Batista/The Great Khali match was also essentially a squash match up until the finish. The difference is that Brock Lesnar beating up or “getting heat” on a wrestler for several minutes can still  be entertaining and draw you into the match as there’s an ever-constant fear that Brock could hurt his opponent. The Great Khali’s offense was NOTHING like Brock Lesnar’s. This attack by The Great Khali did not look painful. It did not look exciting. It did not look coordinated. It was not fun to sit through and it just kept going and going.

Khali beat up Batista and applied the nerve hold. Batista would try to attack Khali but get dropped, which led to Khali going back to the nerve hold. This just kept going on and it was like this as soon as the match started. Batista’s selling was also not too great at this point. I will mention this on future Retro Express reviews but throughout history, Batista working as a babyface and having to sell for a long period of time was very hard to watch. God bless Batista but his selling included getting hit, putting his hands up in the air and doing a Flair flop to the mat. Khali’s attack combined with big Dave’s selling was just a recipe for disaster… and it wasn’t like Khali’s selling was that good either.

Batista got out of Khali’s vice grip and hit the spinebuster out of nowhere. Khali then powered out of the Batista Bomb attempt. Batista tried something off the top rope but Khali caught him and hit a double-handed chokeslam for a near fall. The finish saw Ranjin Singh grab a chair for Khali to use. Khali picked up the chair… and used it. This caused a disqualification for a World Heavyweight Championship match AT SUMMERSLAM. It was not like they built up the disqualification either. Khali picked up the chair and used it successfully in his first attempt to get himself disqualified. A match completely void of entertainment which received a horrible finish for it’s trouble.

Batista took over in the post-match by hitting Khali with a spear. He just kept beating him and beating him with a chair to, at least, try to send the SmackDown! fans home happy.

When I reviewed the Teddy Long vs Eric Bischoff match from Survivor Series 2005, I was so appalled at the thought of that match having made it on a pay-per-view. I initially gave that match a rating of minus one and a half stars but after watching this Khali/Batista match, I was so wrong about that match. At least that match was booked with the knowledge that Teddy and Eric weren’t active professional wrestlers. I am actually going to change that rating for Long/Bischoff to a 1/4*, because at least Teddy was doing his best to entertain the audience by dancing. This Khali/Batista did NOTHING to entertain me and this was supposed to be a World Heavyweight Championship match featuring two of the best wrestlers that SmackDown! has to offer.

Match Rating: -*

 

Vince McMahon, Jonathan Coachman and William Regal were backstage for what was the final backstage segment from this Summerslam party. Apparently the storyline going in was that Vince expected to meet the woman that had given birth to his illegitimate son. As it turned out, the women that wanted to see him was Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young. Coach revealed that Mae Young wanted to have baby with McMahon and Mae leaped onto Vince, who was sitting on a sofa. This got no reaction from the crowd, as William Regal tried to wrestle Mae Young away – and this was quite the struggle for poor Regal.

Coach got Vince up and Vince complained about the taste that was left in his mouth. After a few seconds of licking the inside of his own mouth, Vince admitted that he kind of liked the taste after all. Coach said that this was disgusting to which Vince replied: “Old chicken makes good soup.”

Old chicken makes good soup huh?

 

John Cena (c) vs Randy Orton for the WWE Championship 

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I was not going into this match with a lot of hope. This was the first ever pay-per-view match between John Cena and Randy Orton and it would be the first of many, with their last pay-per-view encounter being in October 2014. Having been subjected to many Cena/Orton matches over the years, there was a severe lack of desire from me to see them battle again. That’s probably not fair to do, as I really should be going into this match as I was when I first saw it in 2007. This was the first time that these two wrestled in a big match situation and I should have treated this as if I was a watching it for the very first time. However, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to those matches.

With that said, this was actually a pretty good match and actually one of the better Cena/Orton matches I’ve seen.

Randy Orton was coming out with his “Burn in my light” theme song, which is in my top ten list of favourite theme songs of all time. I absolutely lovely this song. Jim Ross mentioned that John Cena was WWE Champion for 24 of the last 27 months leading into this match. That is an insane amount of time for one to be champion for, and it wasn’t until Jim Ross said that did I realise just HOW MUCH Cena was in the main-event title scene from the five years since he first won the WWE Championship in 2005. That is WAY TOO LONG – even if it is John Cena.

John Cena won the starting lock-up and took Orton over with a headlock, to THUNDEROUS boos. I would say that this crowd was 70% for Orton and 30% for Cena. Cena tried a STFU early on, but Randy got out of it. Momentum shifted back and forth until  Cena missed his signature shoulder block, which led to Orton locking on one of his vintage Randy Orton sleeper holds.

There were moves in the middle but for at least ten minutes, the match was just dominated by Orton leaned on Cena and applying this sleeper hold. Orton did some stomps and locked on the sleeper hold. Orton did a powerslam and went right back to the sleeper hold. Orton did a dropkick and went right back to the sleeper hold. It just kept GOING AND GOING until Cena eventually powered out. If you’re a fan of sleeper holds, than this was the match for you.

Cena did the comeback, hit the five knuckle shuffle but Orton got out of the FU attempt by elbowing Cena twice in the face and then dropping him with the backbreaker. Orton delivered the hangman DDT for a near fall. Orton tried an RKO but Cena got out of it, with this leading to Orton Irish-whipping Cena into the steel steps. A superplex struggle led to Cena delivering a leg drop to the neck of Orton. Cena went for the FU but Orton got out of it. Orton went for the punt kick but Cena countered it into the STFU. Orton got to the ropes and then delivered a RKO OUT OF NOWHERE! This got the nearest of all near falls and at the time, I remember buying this as the finish.

Cena then hit the FU and pinned Orton for the victory. A good match when all set and done. The constant sleeper holds by Orton did drain me but at least it got Cena the big pop for his comeback. They also did their very best to preserve the finishers of both men. Cena did kick out of the RKO but that was literally the only finisher, other than the STFU, that was executed. A change from future Orton/Cena matches, where they would do nothing BUT hit each other with finishers. It was a very slow burn but the finish made it seem that it all paid off. I was happy with this match when all said and done.

Match Rating: ***

 

This was not a strong Summerslam. For what it was supposed to be, it did not live up to the standards set by past and future Summerslams. There was nothing exceptional about this pay-per-view that made it seem like this event was anything other than all the other pay-per-views you saw throughout 2007. Maybe if Randy Orton won the belt in the main event, I might have thought differently. At least if you have that big moment that everyone remembers this show for, it’d at least go down as a memorable event. Steve Austin’s return, while great, didn’t seem that memorable to me as Austin did that with everyone back in the day. Triple H’s return and his match didn’t seem that memorable to me. The World Title match was something that I’ll go out of my way to forget. The WWE Title match will go down as the first of many Orton/Cena matches and as one of the better Orton/Cena matches for that matter, which isn’t saying much. There were two good, solid matches during this show, with the other matches ranging from decent to god awful. For a Summerslam, I expected more….

 

 

… at least we got William Regal dancing.

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31/08/2015 RAW PREVIEW: Sting Opens RAW As The Road To Night Of Champions Begin

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Last week on RAW, we were coming off an eventful Summerslam. Undertaker defeated Brock Lesnar in controversial fashion, leading to Brock taking his frustration out on poor Bo Dallas. John Cena attacked Jon Stewart in retaliation for Stewart costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. A new member of the Wyatt Family was introduced. The Dudley Boyz made a surprise return to RAW, attacking the New Day and declaring themselves back for good! And to end the whole show, Sting returned to WWE for the first time since the night after Wrestlemania.

So the road to Night Of Champions is under way, and we’ve still got a lot of ground to cover. So far, only one championship match has been announced for the PPV. However, we can expect at least one more title match to be announced tonight.

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Sting made his big return to RAW last week by attacking Seth Rollins and hoisting up the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. After this attack, Triple H quickly announced Sting vs Seth Rollins for Night of Champions with the WWE World Heavyweight title on the line. Sting being in the title hunt is very interesting. It’s not like Sting’s wrestling capabilities is limited. So the idea of Sting winning the WWE World title just once is very appealing. However, it seems kind of strange that after losing his last match to Triple H, Sting is suddenly the number one contender for the WWE World title. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on RAW tonight as it’s been announced that Sting WILL be opening RAW tonight. WWE confirmed it with this tweet.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsIt’ll be interesting to see what happens when Sting gets to RAW. You’ve got to think that Seth should get some momentum under his belt by taking out the Stinger this week? It’s still unclear what Sting’s contract is like with WWE. We don’t know if he’s got a limited number of dates or if he can just be called upon whenever. Either way, WWE needs to make good use of him while he’s here tonight. 

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Sting becoming the number one contender also provides an interesting question. If Sting is wrestling for the title then what will happen to the former number one contender John Cena? John was last shown to have AA’d Stewart for costing him the title. The Authority prevented Cena from getting involved in Seth Rollins’ statue-unveiling. With Sting now stepping up, what does this mean for Cena?

It’s important to note that Cena still has a rematch clause for his United States Championship. Could he cash it in tonight? Could he cash it in at Night of Champions? What could happen tonight is that Cena could invoke his rematch clause and Sting could cost Seth the US title. You never know. I don’t see Cena being added to the main event of Night of Champions to make it a triple threat. So he might just move onto somebody new. Whether he does that as US Champion remains to be seen. 

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There’s been one match announced for RAW so far. It’s a rematch from Summerslam as Rusev takes on Dolph Ziggler. They confirmed it with this tweet.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsI am praying that we have a clear cut winner in this match. If you read my Summerslam review, you’ll know how incensed I was when they ended their match in a double count out. I thought they robbed the fans out of an interesting finish that could have saved this lackluster storyline. So the storyline is still continuing and I highly doubt that it will finish tonight. I also doubt that there will be a clean win for either one of these gentlemen. I sense another non-finish happening to continue this storyline…. JUST to make me mad. I’m not looking forward to this one.

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The Dudley Boyz returned to attack the new WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day, and it looks like they’re here to stay. They beat the Ascension on SmackDown! and they’ll probably be on RAW tonight. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Prime Time Players or the Dudley Boyz will be competing for the titles at Night Of Champions. The Prime Time Players are still owed a rematch for the tag titles so they might just invoke that rematch clause tonight. Therefore, the Dudley Boyz could just face the New Day at Night of Champions. However, it’s hard to say if that’ll happen or they’ll just do a triple threat tag team match or something. Either day, I’m looking forward to seeing the New Day!

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There’s also been something else announced for RAW. As I blogged about yesterday, a Beat The Clock Challenge has been announced featuring all three members of the PCB. The winner goes onto Night Of Champions to face Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship. This last week has been horrible for the Divas Revolution storyline. Do read my Divas Revolution post at this link to read about how I feel about that. However, at least they’re changing things up from their constant tag team matches. This week could possibly turn the storyline around. However, WWE will really have to step up their game. I’d like to see Sasha Banks involved some how as she actually has a claim for a title shot, as she actually beat Nikki Bella on RAW two weeks ago. It’ll be interesting to see if she gets involved. However, WWE really have to step it up in order to salvage this storyline.

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There’s a lot more ground to cover as well. Will the feud between Randy Orton and Sheamus continue? Will the feud between Cesaro and Kevin Owens continue? Who will challenge Ryback for the Intercontinental Championship at Night Of Champions? What’s the deal with the new Wyatt member Braun Stowman? A lot of questions will be answered tonight. WWE pulled off a good RAW last week so let’s hope they can continue to build on it this week.

HOW I WOULD BOOK… THE END OF THE STREAK – BRAY WYATT [PART FIVE]

Part One – Introduction

Part Two – John Cena

Part Three – CM Punk

Part Four – Randy Orton

We’re now at the final installment of this particular series. We’ve discussed three other candidates. We’ve discussed John Cena, we’ve discussed CM Punk and we’ve discussed Randy Orton. We’ve talked about the possibility of booking these three as potential breakers of the Undertaker’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania. But here’s a problem with these three individuals. These three were already main event stars in the WWE BEFORE they broke the streak. I mean this win would boost these three in one way or another. But however, one could argue that the ending of the streak should be done to make a star rather than elevate an already established star. One legacy ends so another one can begin. So let me ask you guys a simply question.

Out of everyone on the current WWE roster, who is the one person that needed a moment like this to make their mark in the WWE for years to come? Who is the one person who has developed possibly one of the greatest characters of all time with an incredible amount of potential? And with the right push, who can really forge a legacy of his own from ending the Undertaker’s streak? It’s the one person whose got the whole world in his hands. That’s right. Maybe the streak should have been broken… by Bray Wyatt.

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Wrestlemania 30 would have been the perfect time for the Eater of Worlds to conquer the Undertaker’s undefeated streak. Wrestlemania 30 was Bray Wyatt’s first Wrestlemania. In his first match, he took on John Cena which is a big deal in itself. Also, he came out to a live performance of his own theme song. How many wrestlers have had a live performance by a band while strolling down to the ring for their first Wrestlemania match? Surely WWE must have had great confidence in the character to give Bray this kind of push after he debuted in July 2013 (just not enough confidence for him to beat Cena apparently). Bray Wyatt is a special character. So his first Wrestlemania match should be a special moment. How shocking of a moment would it be if in his first match at Wrestlemania… he beat the Undertaker?

Here’s how I’d play it out.

At the 2014 Royal Rumble, Bray Wyatt beats Daniel Bryan like he did in real life. Bray does not interfere in the John Cena vs Randy Orton match at all. At the Royal Rumble match, Erick Rowan and Luke Harper come in and destroy everyone. They eliminate Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Cesaro at the same time near the end (which is what Roman Reigns did) to make it into the final four. It’s the two Wyatts, Batista and Roman Reigns in the final four of this match. When it looks like they are about to Batista and Reigns out, Bray Wyatt stands on top of the stage. He gets down on his knees. When he does, both Rowan and Harper leave the ring and eliminate themselves. The camera cuts to Bray telling Rowan and Harper, “I have a greater purpose for you yet.”

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We hear nothing from the Wyatts on RAW until they show up in the main event to cost The Shield their six man tag team match against Daniel Bryan, John Cena and Sheamus. Bray Wyatt cuts a promo the next week on RAW, saying that he plans to put the Hounds of Justice down and spawn the birth of new hounds. Wyatt announces that they will become the new servers of justice in the WWE. They won’t be called the Hounds of Justice. The Wyatts announce themselves… as the Hounds of Hell.

The Wyatt Family then beat The Shield in their match at Elimination Chamber. Bray Wyatt cuts a promo stating that the Hounds of Hell have already rid the WWE Universe of the Hounds of Justice. However, there is still one more outlaw to put down and deliver to the devil himself. He announces that the outlaw will reveal himself later on that night. The Undertaker then returns to the WWE at the end of the show, announcing his intention to defend the streak once again. As Undertaker is about to sign off we get the Wyatt Family cryptic intro…

The Wyatt Family come out to take out the Undertaker. Bray gets on the microphone and says “I will put you down, Outlaw”. Bray will challenge Undertaker to a match at Wrestlemania which Undertaker accepts a few weeks later. Mind games are thrown back and forth until Wrestlemania itself. Undertaker requests that the match is made a No Disqualification match as it is the only way to put down Wyatt AND his two dogs Rowan and Harper.

In the match, Undertaker first sets his sights on Harper and Rowan as Bray Wyatt watches on his rocking chair. Undertaker spears Erick Rowan into the barricade and chokeslams Harper through the announce table. As he’s having to take on all of these members, Taker is getting visibly tired and bruised. He then turns to Bray who simply launches himself into the Dead Man. This is a long and slow beat down but Undertaker continues to kick out. When Bray is about to deliver Sister Abigail, Undertaker counters it into a Tombstone. However, Undertaker is spent after the fighting with all three members of the Wyatt family. The camera man focuses on the ring for about 30 seconds when Undertaker sits up. He sits up but he sees both Rowan and Harper outside of the ring, seemingly unharmed. As he looks on, Bray gets up to do his Spider Walk. Undertaker turns around to walk into a Sister Abigail. And that… is the end of the match.

Bray then kneels over Undertaker laughing saying “Only I am unbeatable” as the crowd is shocked. The Wyatts walk off, leaving Undertaker in the ring.

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What I would do for Bray though is simply take over the role of the Undertaker as this superhuman mystic force in WWE. He and the rest of his “Hounds of Hell” take out everyone. John Cena, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan. Everyone to assert themselves as the top dogs in the company. Not only that, but he starts a undefeated streak of his own at Wrestlemania. What’s a better way for Bray’s streak to start by having him beat the owner of the greatest streak of all time?

The rest of 2014 would see Bray dominate WWE just like Brock Lesnar did after he ended the streak. He beats John Cena at Summerslam for the WWE World title but he would lose it to Brock Lesnar at the Royal Rumble after interference from his next opponent… Sting. Bray beats Sting at Wrestlemania 31 to take his streak to 2-0. The Undertaker helps elevate Bray the same way Undertaker himself was elevated – dominating from the start of his career. Think about it. Undertaker beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF title not long after he debuted. Hogan beat him for the belt shortly after but the mystique of Undertaker remained. That’s exactly what ending the streak would do for Bray.

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That wraps things up for the Eater of Worlds. We’ve got four candidates to choose from but I’m still interested in hearing other people’s thoughts about who should have broken the streak. I’ll discuss all of our candidates once more in the VERY last part of this series. We’ll decide ourselves who really should have broken the streak and come up with a verdict.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!

How I Would Book… Kurt Angle’s Return To WWE

A few months ago, Kurt Angle stated in an interview that WWE weren’t interested in rehiring him after he enquired about rejoining the company last year. This got me thinking because Kurt Angle hasn’t been with WWE for nearly a decade now. It’s really hard to believe that Kurt has not been with WWE for so long but yet very active in professional wrestling with TNA. With that in mind… how would you bring him back? How much would he appear on television? How much of an impact would the former TNA star have on WWE programming a decade after his depature? How Would I Book… Kurt Angle’s return to WWE.

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Now it’s important to note that we have to be a bit realistic with Kurt’s conditioning. Kurt’s stated in a number of “shoot” interviews that the perks of his run with TNA is that the scheduling for him is a lot less intense than if he were to be working full-time with WWE. Also, he’s getting paid a lot more to do a little less. So the idea that we should have Kurt Angle back on television full-time for the foreseeable future is out of the question. There’s no way Kurt could be fit and healthy enough to maintain a full-time schedule with WWE. Ask anyone who’s had to work full-time on the road for 300+ days a year for WWE. It takes such a mental and physical toll on your body. Kurt Angle is 46 years old for god’s sake. How on earth could he possibly work such a demanding schedule?

Having said that though, Kurt’s still be working full time for TNA for last decade of his career. Granted, TNA’s schedule is a lot less demanding than WWE’s. However, Kurt’s still been able to work well and sufficiently enough to represent the company as it’s World Champion THIS YEAR! Watch his matches with Bobby Lashley for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. Kurt can still go in the ring. So he can work in a competitive capacity.

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I would recommend signing Kurt to a part-time contract as it would be more suitable for the Olympic Gold medalist. He can pick and choose which dates suit him best and their would be less strain on his body. But the thing is… how do you re-introduce him to the WWE Universe?

Granted, the fans know that Kurt Angle exists since he can be seen on the WWE Network for just 9.99. He’s been an accomplished wrestler with WWE so he’s not unknown to the general audience. It’s not like Sting, who had never appeared for WWE before he joined in 2014. However, the WWE universe does need to get re-acquainted with Kurt just a little. He’s been away from the company for so long. So if he were to re-sign with WWE tomorrow, then I would propose re-introducing him to the WWE universe in a video game. More specifically… as downloadable content for the upcoming WWE 2K16 video game.

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Whether the developers could get Kurt Angle completed quick enough to be DLC is debatable. However, if Kurt re-signed today, then the developes could possibly get Kurt done in time for Wrestlemania 32. Kurt’s re-introduction to WWE through a video-game could create speculation about the PPV itself. The fans would start to wonder why the WWE would release Kurt as a video game character just prior to the biggest event of the year. They might start to believe that WWE is actually preparing a surprise return for Kurt Angle. However, he does not come back at Wrestlemania. If he did, Kurt would be among a star-studded roster appearing at the biggest show of the year. It’s not really fair for Kurt to return when there are so many others being featured on the card. So I would hold of his return until the next night on RAW.

I think my first opponent for Kurt to feud with would be Rusev. Kurt Angle vs Rusev would actually be a pretty decent match for Kurt to work. Kurt would play the Pro-USA character against the Anti-USA Rusev. However, it would not be a match about Patriotism…

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Rusev would (hopefully) be coming off a big win at Wrestlemania 32. He gets bragging and says there is not a man out there that could beat him. He therefore challenges whoever the WWE World Heavyweight Champion is to a title match later that night which the champion accepts. However, the champion should really be a face for this to work. Rusev gets DQ’d in their main event match but then attacks the champion. During the attack, he keeps shouting “Who’s going to stop me?” until we hear Kurt Angle’s theme song. Kurt comes out to stare down Rusev to end the show.

Kurt would come out the next week on RAW and declare that he’s here because he has something to prove. He’s been seeing a revolution in WWE with new stars from NXT and beyond coming to WWE and delivering like few others have. He then saw Rusev, who had been a powerhouse in WWE for years. He says Rusev is one of the nastiest he has seen and says that Rusev is someone he needs to prove himself against. Kurt’s says that he’s not fighting for America like he did in 1996 when he won Olympic Gold. He’s here to prove that after nearly a decade away from WWE, he can hang with the top stars of today. He challenges Rusev to a Submission match at Extreme Rules. Kurt says if he can’t beat Rusev, he will not appear on WWE television again. Rusev agrees and the match is made. In the match, Kurt makes Rusev tap out.

Rusev tapping out is rare. In fact, I actually think John Cena is the only man to do so since Rusev’s arrived on the main roster. But Kurt Angle making Rusev tap out shows that Kurt is just as good as he used to be. If Rusev’s won a big time match against a top face at Wrestlemania 32, then this loss wouldn’t be such a big deal. If you want to have Rusev get his redemption, simply have him win a rematch at Payback. I’d personally book a best of three in which Kurt ends up winning their third match at Money In The Bank. Much like Kurt’s feud with Samoa Joe in TNA, you’re not hurting either man to a great degree.

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Then if you want to, Kurt can come back to feud with the likes of Daniel Bryan (hopefully), Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and many more of the newest stars WWE has to offer. Because that’s exactly who Kurt would want to go up against. Kurt wants a challenge, so don’t have him feud with the likes of Triple H and John Cena because he’s already done that. Give him something new to work with. You’re also doing his opponents a favour by having them put on potential classics with a great worker like Kurt Angle. Who really loses?

There you have it. I would not have Kurt Angle come back and push him to the top or something. That would be pretty silly considering he’s 46 years old. However, given Kurt the freedom of working a less demanding schedule means Kurt can be utilized to help elevate your up-and-coming talent and make them legitimate stars. He’d be like Chris Jericho whenever he comes back. And it’s not like Kurt wouldn’t mind losing to these guys either. Just as long as you don’t give Kurt the same old stars from WWE’s past because no one wants to see that. Kurt can prove to be a valuable commodity in WWE and can help those he’s working with. It can also encourage other stars to step up their game considering what Kurt’s able to do at 46. Overall, Kurt’s return can have a positive effect on your roster and your television programming.

Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!