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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, this is… infuriating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How I Would Book… The Rock vs Dean Ambrose

The Rock has encountered some strange characters over the years in WWE. From throwing Shawn Stasiak over the top rope over and over again to losing to the Hurricane on Raw, a lot has happened in the career of the Great One. Wacky and unique characters bring out the best out of The Rock, so how about a lunatic fringe for a future program for the Brahma Bull? How about The Rock… vs Dean Ambrose?

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This is actually a very unique clash of styles. We’ve got the big hollywood movie star with an incredible physique against a lunatic with a hardcore mindset. There’s quite a difference in the two styles, although you could argue that Dean Ambrose would be very similar to Rock’s former tag team partner Mick Foley. However, Dean is much leaner than Mick but not as well built as The Rock.

In past How I Would Books, I’ve usually put Rock up against big men like John Cena and Roman Reigns. Dean Ambrose is not like them. Much like The Rock however, he is charismatic and talented in the ring. If The Rock wanted to throw down verbally and physically, Dean would be more than up for the challenge.

How to get to Dean Ambrose vs The Rock from this point on is very tricky. How do you give The Rock or Dean a reason to want to beat the tar out of each other? Do you have The Rock challenge for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that Dean currently holds as of August 2016? Do you have Dean call out The Rock, feeling the need to face a megastar of the past to see if he’s as good as he thinks he is? No. What’s the one factor that could draw both these two into battle? Family.

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The one person that connects both Dean Ambrose and The Rock is Roman Reigns. Roman Reigns is related by blood to The Rock, with the People’s Champion saving the Big Dog on WWE television before. However, according to the storyline, Dean is probably closer to Roman than anyone else on the roster. They both refer to each other as brothers. It’s the connection between both men which could draw these two charismatic superstars together.

The bigger issue at the moment, when it comes to these two and Roman Reigns, is the WWE Draft. Roman Reigns is on RAW, Dean Ambrose is on SmackDown! and The Rock is currently undrafted. How are we going to develop a storyline involving all three men, while trying to preserve the idea of separate brands? I always preferred the idea of keeping RAW and SmackDown! as distant as possible. Therefore, with this in mind, let’s see if we can write a storyline without breaking those barriers TOO MUCH.

With that being said, we need to plant the seeds for a confrontation between Dean and Rock with Roman. Where’s the best place to start? The one pay-per-view coming up that will see the integration of the rosters… Survivor Series 2016.

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The whole idea behind this pay-per-view is to allow these rosters to interact after months away from each other. The whole idea behind the brand split is for these brands to compete with one another. My idea is after several months of taking shots at each other and the rise in competition, Stephanie and Foley would flat out call out Shane and Bryan for a inter-promotional five-on-five elimination match for Survivor Series. Team RAW would be consisted of Roman Reigns, Rusev, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Team SmackDown! would be consisted of Dean Ambrose, AJ Styles, Randy Orton, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan. These teams are interchangeable so it’s up to you who you want in the match. The two essentials for this storyline though are Dean and Roman.

Due to the competitive nature of the brand split, it would be difficult for the commissioners and general managers to agree on a referee to call it down the middle. Remember what happened when RAW and SmackDown! feuded in 2005. In a couple of matches (notably at Taboo Tuesday and Survivor Series), the RAW and SmackDown! referees would officiate the same match and prevent each other from making decisions. If WWE want to acknowledge the previous brand split, then this could make way for a special referee that would supposedly be impartial. Enter The Rock.

While I’m currently unaware of what The Rock’s filming schedule will be like in November, surely it’s possible for The Rock to appear as a referee. Not to mention that his inclusion will give the WWE the mainstream boost they need for one of the biggest pay-per-views involving both brands.

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The match comes down to Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins for RAW and Dean Ambrose for SmackDown!. Seth and Dean are the legal men. Roman accidentally clocks Seth with a spear when going for Dean. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on Roman as Seth comes to. Seth gets frustrated at his point, grabbing a chair. Seth goes to hit Roman but Rock stops him. He pushes Seth into Dean, who hits Dirty Deeds and eliminates him. Dean and Roman battle until Dean hits Dirty Deeds once again. As this happens, Seth gets to his feet on the outside and re-arms himself with the chair. The Rock sees this and goes after Seth, with Dean waiting in the ring for Rock to count Roman down. Rock eventually makes his way back into the ring but Roman kicks out at the last minute. Believing that Rock screwed him, Dean gets in his face. Rock hits a Rock Bottom on Dean, with Roman still out and oblivious to this. Roman gets to his feet, hits one more spear on Dean and pins him. Team RAW wins.

Now the seeds are starting to be planted. Rock screwed Dean but Dean can’t do anything about it… at least contractually. The Rock does make one more appearance on the night after Survivor Series, congratulating Roman and giving him his endorsement. This obviously gets boos as the fans didn’t like Roman and Rock screwing Dean. The Rock and Roman are cut off by Byron Saxton, who is told to go backstage as there are reports of wrestlers being taken out. He goes to the back but is launched right back onto the entrance ramp. Dean comes out and stares right at Rock. Dean comes down to the ring but Roman steps in between his “brother” and his blood. Roman tries to push Dean away but Dean retaliates with Dirty Deeds. Dean and Rock come to blows, drawing the attention of the security. Stephanie and Foley can’t afford for one of SmackDown!’s stars to cause havoc on RAW. Dean and Rock are pulled apart by security but Dean gets out. As he’s about to charge The Rock, Roman spears Dean out of his boots. This isn’t exactly a heel turn, but this does get negative reactions from the crowd.

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On SmackDown!, Dean makes weekly challenges to The Rock to fight him on Dean’s home turf in the blue brand. He says that he’ll forgive Roman for the spear from RAW, provided that he gets to fight Rock. Nothing happens up until the week before SmackDown!’s PPV in December. Let’s just say for now that this pay-per-view is TLC. Dean gets no word but Foley confronts him. Foley tells Dean that The Rock is a lot more dangerous than he lets on. He tells him to drop it but Dean is unwilling to listen. Dean tells Foley that HE has no idea how dangerous DEAN is, claiming to be just as extreme as any of your “ECW boys” from back in the day. Mick tells Dean to prove it and makes a challenge. While Foley can’t force The Rock to come out of hiding, he can organise a match with Dean and Roman for Royal Rumble. He will only do this if Dean defeats a free agent that is willing to make a one-off appearance in a tables match on SmackDown!’s pay-per-view. Dean agrees when the lights go out. The lights come back on and it’s Rob Van Dam. He takes out Dean with a chair and hits the frog splash. It’s ON now.

The reason I went with the lights out for RVD’s appearance is that it’s a callback to Jerry Lawler’s invasion of ECW at Wrestleaplooza 1997, when the lights went out and Jerry appeared with an alliance INVOLVING Rob Van Dam of all people. RVD might seem a random choice for an opponent for Dean, but he works with the hardcore style of the lunatic fringe. Dean wins the match, allowing him to fight Roman at the next inter-promotional pay-per-view in the Royal Rumble.

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What’s in it for Roman Reigns to  wrestle this match? How can Foley bargain with Roman? Simple. The promise of a Universal Championship match at FAST LANE if he wins. Him winning the title at Fast Lane means that Roman can main-event WrestleMania for a third year in a row… assuming a RAW wrestler wins the Royal Rumble that is. Dean is hungry for revenge but Roman is not exactly blood-thirsty himself. He only speared Dean on RAW as Dean attacked him first. He’s interested in winning the title and that’s that. Dean and Roman have choice words, with Roman having very LIMITED choice words. Dean’s deal is telling Roman that he should want to stop living in the Rock’s show. Rock bailed him out at Survivor Series, but he won’t be able to do it at Royal Rumble. Roman simply states that Dean is in his way for a title shot and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to beat his brother and main event WrestleMania again, something Dean’s never done.

At the Royal Rumble, it’s a close encounter. As Dean has Roman beat with Dirty Deeds, the lights go out. Trust me, there’s a purpose behind this one too! The lights come back on and there’s a jacked man in all-black, wearing a black mask. He lights up Dean with a huge clothesline. He takes the mask off and reveals himself to be… The Rock. He hits Dean with a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. Roman comes to and hits a spear to beat Dean again. The Rock officially accepts Dean Ambrose’s challenge and tells him to meet him at WrestleMania.

The finish can be what you desire, although a victory for Dean over The Rock would definitely get him super stardom.

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Roman could have some confrontation with The Rock, getting involved in his matches twice now but ultimately, there’s some sort of idea about how The Rock and Dean could come together. This was a very difficult one to write and maybe it seems like a simple storyline. However, on Rock’s side, not a lot is needed and not a lot can be done. His scheduling does provide issues but Dean can surely help spice things up on television for SmackDown! every week.

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!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Becky Lynch and Natalya vs Charlotte and Dana Brooke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Apollo Crews vs Sheamus

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

 

 

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John Cena vs AJ Styles

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

2015 Armbar Express Awards

 

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. It’s where we reflect on everything that went right or wrong in the world of professional wrestling during the year. We reward excellence and we condemn ignorance. We decide once and for all which stars are worthy as it is time for the 2015 Armbar Express… AWARDS!

So we’ve made our list, we checked it twice. It’s time to see which wrestling personalities raked in the rewards for a solid year and which wrestlers get the short end of the stick. Let’s kick things off with…

 

TV Show Of The Year

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This is a new one for us in the awards. We celebrate just which wrestling promotion put on the best TV show of the year and our nominations are…

  • Monday Night RAW (WWE) – As it much as it can drive a man insane, I’ll give credit to the writers for being able to write and dish out a three hour wrestling show every week. A lot of RAWs have been well below par but there’s been a few hidden gems that almost makes up for that.
  • NXT (WWE) – The developmental territory goes from strength to strength as NXT has really had the world talking with some incredible talent on display. We’ve had some great matches, some great storylines and great special events to make all the episodes seem worth it.
  • Lucha Underground (Lucha Underground) – Lucha Underground is an incredible alternative from WWE which has really made a name for itself. Every episode is unmissable as it delivered with its first season in 2015. Considering the success of season one, season two in 2016 can be a huge success.

The winner… is Lucha Underground.

More than any other wrestling show from any other promotion, Lucha Underground knows what type of product they are putting on every week. It is a television show which is really what a lot of promotions fail to remember. It might upset a lot of NXT fans for it to lose out to Lucha Underground, but NXT is a show you could miss and it wouldn’t hugely effect your knowledge of events. Lucha Underground has made it’s a product a show you have to see every week. Every little detail is vital as you are gearing up for a huge episode with major implications. The segments and non-wrestling parts of the show are put together very well with more time given to wrestling to really tell the story for them. It’s the perfect balance which creates a incredible product at the end. If you’re not watching Lucha Underground, you’re missing out on an unique opportunity.

 

Feud/Rivalry Of The Year

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Storytelling is a huge aspect of wrestling and more intense rivalries are, the better. Our nominations are…

  • Kevin Owens vs John Cena – This feud made for compelling television on RAW which made it a huge incentive for people to watch the flagship show. Kevin Owens debuted in an emphatic way, attacking John Cena on RAW and then cleanly beating him at Elimination Chamber. Cena levelled things up at Money In The Bank until Cena settled the score with Owens at Battleground. While the ending with Cena winning the feud still winds me up to this day, you can’t deny that there were some great moments that accompanied this feud and really make it stand out.
  • Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker – Fifteen months after the events of Wrestlemania XXX, the Dead Man finally got around to getting his revenge on the man that conquered the streak. After costing him the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground, Undertaker began an incredible intense and powerful feud with Brock Lesnar which was really must-see television. Most notable during this feud was the post-Battleground brawl between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar which was arguably one of the greatest moments of RAW all year. Along with getting the Undertaker booed for the first time in a decade, this feud provided a whole new dynamic which really developed the characters of both men and it was not like this was a traditional face vs heel rivalry. These just two men that wanted to murder each other! The matches at Summerslam and Hell in a Cell also hugely surpassed my expectations too!
  • Fenix vs Mil Muetrues – This was one of the rare times where a romance angle was actually done right and it shockingly happened at a promotion that is not as heavy on “sports entertainment” than WWE. It made stars out of Fenix and Mil with great matches including their Grave Consequences match which we’ll get to later. Catrina’s role in the storyline was also well played.
  • Sasha Banks vs Bayley – There’s been a number of great NXT programs this year but Bayley and Sasha Banks gave us a rivalry which was truly phenomenal. This was story-telling at it’s simplest and finest and Sasha was the perfect foil for Bayley, as the hugger hoped to finally win the NXT Women’s Championship. Two great matches at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn and Respect showed why NXT’s women were leagues ahead of WWE’s divas.

The winner… is Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker.

To me, the intensity of Brock vs Taker was what really made it stand out. I appreciate the clear face-heel dynamic of Bayley and Sasha, I liked the way the romance angle with Fenix and Mil was presented and I loved the matches between Owens and Cena. However, what separated Brock and Taker from the rest was their ability to be unique. There’s no face and no heel. There’s just two badasses just beating the crap out of each other which gave the whole thing such a great atmosphere and what really made Brock Lesnar must-see television this year!

 

Tag Team Of The Year

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There’s been a number of teams that have really impressed this year and let’s celebrate these tremendous tag teams as the nominations are…

  • The New Day – What can be said about the New Day other than they took the ball and they ran so far with it that it’s incredible to think that they were getting booed at the start of the year. Now, they are just the most entertaining tag team in wrestling today and they’ve got a lot of diversity between the three of them in terms of movesets which works tremendously in the tag team scenario.
  • Lucha Dragons – This team has been very fun to watch in the ring and have been a welcome addition to the main roster. Sin Cara’s obviously been on the main roster before but Kalisto is a newcomer that has really shined in the time that he’s given. Hopeful we can see these two with a tag title run.
  • Jason Jordan and Chad Gable – A true stand out team in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, these two just worked so well together as a tag team. The weakness of one man was filled by the other as they put on some incredible matches against the likes of Baron Corbin and Rhyno. Many NXT fans were disappointed that the duo never won the tournament but 2016 may end up being their year.
  • Cesaro and Tyson Kidd – I was originally going to leave this team out of this award considering they were only together for around six months until Tyson Kidd went down with an injury. However, the duo put together some great matches as a duo with the two styles just complimented each other beautifully. Fact.

The winner is… the New Day!

Kofi, Big E and Xaiver have done tremendous work as a trio and it might be unfair to give them award considering they’re more of a stable then a tag team. However, you can’t deny that they’ve given the tag team division a boost as a whole and they are finally getting the results that the three of them deserve.

 

PPV Of The Year

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The WWE Network might have actually been worth subscribing to this year with a number of top quality PPVs to acknowledge. The nominations are…

  • Wrestlemania 31 – In what is usually a given in terms of top PPVs of the year, Wrestlemania 31 sure didn’t disappoint. Rarely has a Wrestlemania been as well timed as this year’s event. With the exception of the Rock/Rousey/HHH/Stephanie angle (which I thought went too long) all the matches/segments were given enough time to truly stand out in it’s own right. While it was not like Wrestlemania 28 where all the time went to the three big matches and it was not like any of the matches from this card were match of the year candidates, it featured some darn great matches nevertheless. From Sting vs Triple H to Brock Lesnar taking Roman Reigns to Suplex City, there was little wrong with this year’s edition of Wrestlemania.
  • Summerslam – August 22nd, August 23rd and August 24th made for a great three days for WWE and the feature presentation was the four hour long Summerslam. The top matches including a great WWE World title match with Seth Rollins defending against John Cena as well as the long-awaited rematch between Undertaker and Brock Lesnar which really surpassed my expectations.
  • Hell in a Cell – I have to give Hell in a Cell a thumbs up for a number of reasons. Both Hell in a Cell matches delivered in their own right, (which is of course a big part of the PPV itself) and there were a number of surprises including the return of Alberto Del Rio.
  • Night of Champions – This was another good PPV for WWE in the autumn of 2015, with Seth Rollins being the focal point and main reason for it’s success! Seth Rollins put on two great matches in a row with John Cena and Sting, proving that he indeed was the man in WWE around this time. There were other great aspects of the show as well including the returning of Chris Jericho which made for a worthwhile event.

The winner is… Wrestlemania 31.

This was another solid Wrestlemania for WWE as whoever was responsible for the timing of the show was right on the money. That event will legitimately go down as one of the best Wrestlemanias the company have ever produced.

 

Worst Match Of The Year

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Not all awards are for the greater good. This award celebrates the worst matches put together in 2015. The nominations are…

  • Sheamus vs Ryback vs Dolph Ziggler vs Mark Henry vs R-Truth vs King Barrett in an Elimination Chamber match for the Intercontinental Championhship (WWE) – Maybe WWE should have given Elimination Chamber a rest this year because this chamber match really wasn’t up to par. As soon as Mark Henry’s chamber pod was broken, the match seemed to completely fall apart to such agree that it was amazing how all of these men (EACH with at least ten years experience wrestling in the “biggest” wrestling promotion in the world) couldn’t put this match back on track. When Sheamus’ chamber pod got stuck, all of these men stood around not knowing what to do as Ziggler was calling spots for everyone. It was not a great return for the Elimination Chamber.
  • 2015 Royal Rumble Match (WWE) – WWE’s streak of failing Royal Rumble matches continued with this atrocity which ended up with Roman Reigns standing tall. It’s not even the fact that Roman won it. It’s the fact that the match itself was put together in such a miserable fashion that it’s no wonder that Roman was booed out of the building. Those fans weren’t booing Roman Reigns. They were booing Roman Reigns having to conquer two twenty year veterans that had no business being on par with the current crop of young talent as WWE struggle to develop new stars.
  • Los Villanos vs Los Psycho Circus at TripleMania XXIII (AAA) – When I heard that Dave Meltzer had given this match from TripleMania minus five stars, I figured I had to go watch it. I had heard that TripleMania was bad and the bits I had watched of it weren’t all impressive. However, this match was something special. This was supposed to be Villano III’s retirement match and imagine having a retirement match that was this much of a train wreck. This was hardly Ric Flair retiring against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24. This is one to watch but for the wrong reasons!
  • Paige and Emma vs The Bella Twins on RAW: February 23rd 2015 (WWE) – This was an utterly atrocious use of these women on WWE’s flagship show, to give them a grand total of 30 seconds of in-ring action. What happened was Emma and Brie started the match, Paige was shouting at Nikki when Brie took her off the apron, Emma looked outside to check on Paige and then Brie hit Emma with the X-Factor and won. This was a complete and utter disgrace considering these talented women were given 30 seconds during a 3 HOUR SHOW of RAW. The neglect to these divas by WWE was simply revolting which ended up creating the “Divas Revolution” which we’ll get onto later. It’s one thing when you try something and it fails. It’s a slap in the face when you don’t even try to make the women look credible.
  • Kurt Angle vs Eric Young in a No Disqualification match at Bound For Glory 2015 (TNA) – This match was probably the highlight of my TNA Bound For Glory PPV review as two men that are usually great workers were put in this illogical no disqualification match. The biggest highlight to this match was, despite Eric Young piledriving Kurt Angle, the referee waving off the match, KURT ANGLE even telling Eric it’s over, the match still went on for another ten minutes or so as Kurt was selling a broken neck. You really should read my Bound For Glory review (at this link) to get the full detail of my problems with this match. I’ll just say this… thumbs down.

The winner (or in this case, the loser) is…. the Elimination Chamber match.

Now keep in mind when we give out these awards for Best or Worst match of the year, it’s not strictly down to the in-ring side of things. If that was the case, then the Villanos/Psycho Circus match would probably win hands down. We’re looking at so many more aspects of the match that made it worthy of a nomination. Angle/Young was bad because of the illogical storytelling going on. The Royal Rumble match was a disaster mostly because of the crowd reactions and the finish. Emma and Paige vs the Bella Twins was on the list because of how disrespectful it was to women’s wrestling and the Villanos/Psycho Circus was in for a number of reasons. The reason for the Elimination Chamber being the winner was down to one thing. In AAA and TNA, the expectations and standards aren’t as high as WWE’s. Considering the physical well-being of both the Villanos and the Psycho Circus and considering that TNA’s booking was just vintage TNA, you can sort of expect that. For WWE, you expect top quality action. It’d be wrong to punish the divas for WWE’s decision to give them 30 seconds. For the Elimination Chamber and the Royal Rumble, there’s no excuse. At least the first half of the Royal Rumble was actually not that bad with some cool surprise entrants and stuff, so it has at least got a few redeeming qualities to it. The Elimination Chamber was just a bad match that fell apart because of the chamber pod spots and then going on for way too long. Their improvisation made them all look like fools and it was just a retched return of the elimination chamber. Congratulations you six for being apart of the worst match of the year.

 

Turn Of The Year

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There’s been a number of effective turns which have either been executed well or has lead to even greater things just by doing it. The nominations are…

  • The New Day: Heel (WWE) – It’s amazing to think that the WWE Creative team had the New Day be good guys for five months before realising that they needed to be heels. Responding to the “New Day Sucks” chant, the men finally embraced the hate and it’s the greatest decision the WWE have made throughout the entire year. The New Day have excelled as heels and it’ll be hard to see how they can top it in 2016.
  • Undertaker: Heel? (WWE) – In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a full-on heel turn from the Dead Man. However, to explore the idea of the Lord of Darkness legitimately turning to the dark side was intriguing enough when Undertaker cost Brock Lesnar the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Battleground. Undertaker acting as a heel is very unique and I still believe that him spending the last few years of his career as a heel is what’s best for business before he rides off into the sunset.
  • Paige: Heel (WWE) – The initial turn for Paige was executed very well coming off a rather bleak program between Charlotte and Nikki Bella. Paige cut a scathing promo slating all of the divas, Charlotte and even Charlotte’s dad Ric Flair. What’s followed for Paige since then has been very flawed but the initial turn was pulled off very well.
  • Cesaro: Face (WWE) – Cesaro was already a face before this point but a true babyface moment for him this year was his program with John Cena and Kevin Owens for the United States Championship. Cesaro is a very excitable face wrestler which gives this turn a thumbs up. However, him going up against Cena in the main event of RAW was a moment which I thought was legitimately going to make him a new main event star for WWE to get behind. They showed respect to each other and the fans really did accept that Cesaro should be a main event star. Cena endorsing Cesaro among other things made this feel like a special RAW moment for Cesaro.

The winner is… the New Day!

This is the New Day’s second award and I was honestly going to give this to the Undertaker, despite that heel turn being more of a tweener turn then anything. However, the New Day’s turn was probably the most needed in the entire year and the group shined as the villains. Well done to the New Day!

 

Worst Storyline Of The Year

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This was not a great year for the writers of professional wrestling this year (with the exception of Lucha Underground). The nominations are….

  • The Rusev/Ziggler/Lana saga (WWE) – I’ll give this storyline credit in the fact that my analysis of this storyline is still one of my most viewed blog posts of the year! From the get-go, you knew this storyline couldn’t work. Trying to twist real-life relationships into a romance wrestling storyline really never works as well as it’s expected to and a lot of the time, it just came off as a really cheap soap opera rip-off. Ziggler and Lana couldn’t be accepted as a legitimate couple and Rusev ended up being the biggest loser out of everyone involved. Think about that. The man that WWE had pushed so hard in 2014 and up until Wrestlemania 31 suffered the most during this storyline. I would seriously give my article on this storyline a read at this link to get the full scoop of why this was such a failure.
  • The Divas Revolution (WWE) – I feel that the last six months in the divas roster has been nothing short of a failure with the exception of NXT. It’s very hard to believe that the same company that have put on some of the great women’s matches of all time put this storyline together in the same year. WWE’s attempts at replicating the success of the NXT women really did give women’s wrestling a bad name this year, as these women were unfortunately subjected to the terrible booking by the powers-that-be of WWE. Charlotte, Paige and the rest of the women really do need gold medals for the stuff they’ve had to put up with this year.
  • James Storm “kills” Mickie James (TNA) – Wrestlers being “killed” in storylines aren’t exactly new. Undertaker used to die every other year in WWE while Lucha Underground has ran a number of murder angles in the course of its first season. However, none where as painful to watch as Storm nudging Mickie James onto a train track. As part of a storyline where Storm tried to form a wedge between Magnus and Mickie (a real life engaged couple), the culmination of months of manipulation by Storm was TNA taking a page out of House Of Cards’ books and “killing” off Mickie James in such an anti-climactic manner (except the House of Cards scene was actually a lot more shocking than this one). It’s very hard to pull off a death storyline (unless you’re Lucha Underground) in the social media generation, but TNA’s attempt was just absurd especially when their official website referred to James Storm’s actions as “borderline criminal.” Honest to god, did not make that last part up.
  • The Battle Of The Crown (WWE) – This was hardly the “War of the five Kings” from Game of Thrones. This was WWE making a pure mockery of the value of the King of the Ring tournament. A tournament which has elevated the likes of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar to stardom. With this storyline, Barrett’s win was treated as a joke as R-Truth also decided to be a king. As I’ve discussed in the past, Barrett has been subjected to some serious woeful booking by WWE in his career but this really takes the cake.

The winner is… The Rusev/Lana/Ziggler storyline.

There’s no doubt in my mind. As infuriating as the Divas Revolution is, as stupid as the James Storm angle was and as much of a joke as the King storyline was made, this romance angle was by far the worst storyline of the year. This takes it by a HUGE MILE. There’s never been a bigger failure of a romance angle than the Rusev, Lana and Ziggler angle. What started with Lana getting some of the best reactions in the entire company and Rusev being a top heel monster, turned into both of them being degraded to such a degree that I find it very hard to believe that either person can be elevated back to the level that they were before they were struck with this horrible storyline.

 

Match of the Year

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Here’s one of the big ones. There’s been a great deal of tremendous matches over the year and these five have been among the elite. The nominations are…

    • John Cena vs Kevin Owens at Elimination Chamber 2015 – It’s very hard to separate all three of the Cena/Owens matches this year as all stand out in their own way. The Money In The Bank match and the Battleground rubber match were both well put together. However, Elimination Chamber only just takes it just for the pure shock of Owens beating Cena so convincingly.
    • Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Respect – It’s very hard to separate this match and one other match I’ve seen in the past over which was the greatest womens match I’ve ever seen. I feel given the background to it and the expectation, I feel this surely has to take it. These women were able to put on an incredible performance for 30 minutes, with great in-ring story-telling as Bayley had to prove that her win at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn was no joke.
    • Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2015 – This was filled with pure intensity and drama from bell to bell as it even began with Brock Lesnar attacking Undertaker during his entrance. It was a brawl like no one had ever seen before as the Beast and the Dead Man slugged it out. Many complained about the finish but I really didn’t mind it as it was a necessary evil for the third match to happen.
    • Mil Muetrues vs Fenix in a Grave Consequences match on Lucha Underground – This rivalry, as mentioned earlier, was a very powerful one. This match in particular was the ultimate David vs Goliath match as the underdog was beaten to a pulp. This match is a must see for those not familiar with Lucha Underground!
    • Brock Lesnar (c) vs Seth Rollins vs John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble – There’s little reason needed for why this match is a nominee. Other than being the only redeeming quality of the Royal Rumble PPV that saved it from being a complete disaster, this was the perfect mix for a triple threat match. You had John Cena (who had really improved in terms of match quality this year), Seth Rollins (who has the speed and generally all-around skill) and Brock Lesnar (who ranks high in pretty much every department you can think off!). It just made for a great triple threat which made all of them look incredible.

The winner is… Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar.

I feel kind of bad having all the match of the year candidates being related to the feud of the year candidates. However, those were the big instances where the matches made the rivalry. Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar was no exception as the two put together an incredible match at Summerslam.

 

Female of the Year

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This has been a year for ups and downs for womens wrestling in WWE, but lets give credit to these women as the nominations for female of the year are…

  • Paige – The winner of last year’s award is back into the mix as Paige has had a number of great moments, even with some of the questionable decisions by the powers-that-be. She’s been a little over-exposed and over-used in the divas title picture but the lovely Englishman has given us a lot of top performances.
  • Sasha Banks – It wouldn’t be a legitimate award without at least throwing the Boss into the fray. She had a great run as NXT Womens Champion in the start of the year and she’s been a delight to see whenever she appears on the main roster. That and having one of the best matches of the year surely makes the Boss a contender.
  • Bayley – The hugger is surprisingly the only one out of the four NXT horse-women that wasn’t called up to the main roster, which is probably for the better when you consider just how well she’s performed on NXT.
  • Nikki Bella – The #1 ranked women on the PWI Womens Top 50, Nikki is also in the running for this award as her improving in-ring skill and having to lead the womens roster as champion is something you have to give her credit for.

The winner is… Sasha Banks.

I feel all the others have valid reasons for winning but Sasha has been on top of her game for all of 2015. Congratulations to the Boss!

 

Promo of the Year

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Last year, we saw some tremendous promos cut by the likes of Dean Ambrose, Paul Heyman and Bray Wyatt. Our nominations for this year’s award are…

  • Paige’s PaigeBomb On The Night After Night Of Champions (September 21st 2015) – One of the brightest moments in the Divas Revolution was Paige cut a scathing promo on all the divas which addressed the problems present with the storyline. She buried Charlotte, Becky Lynch and all the other divas as she took credit for the whole Divas Revolution. This could have been the catalyst for a true divas revolution had WWE not squandered this opportunity.
  • Paul Heyman On The Night After Wrestlemania 31 (March 30th 2015) – Last year’s winner Paul Heyman is again featured prominently this year as his angry promo following Wrestlemania was delivered tremendously. Never has a rematch clause ever been invoked in such a manner!
  • Stephanie McMahon On John Cena Missing Out Wrestlemania 31 (March 2nd 2015) – I’m a huge fan of Stephanie McMahon and this promo was a prime example of why. Stephanie’s cut a lot of passionate promos during the year but this one involving Cena was one that really caught my attention. It’s one of those reassurances to the WWE Universe that Cena does not define WWE and is not as dominant as people realise. Stephanie is one of the few people that could have gotten this point across as she did.
  • Paul Heyman On The Future Of Brock Lesnar (March 9th 2015) – Surprisingly, two of these promos come within two weeks of each other! Not going to lie, the road to Wrestlemania can bring about some beauties. Paul Heyman discussing what Brock Lesnar’s plans are after Brock’s falling out with Vince McMahon was so intense that it almost seemed that Brock was actually legitimately holding the company up over the WWE World title. It was as intense as Paul could have made it as he discussed the potential of Brock becoming WWE World and UFC Champion and “smacking around Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao” in a heated promo which really aided the promotion of Lesnar’s match with Roman Reigns tremendously.

The winner is… Paul Heyman with his angry promo on the night after Wrestlemania!

Paul is a true master of the microphone and it was evident with this promo. A deserving two-time winner of this award and there was few that could touch him this year. I always thought this promo grabbed my attention more than the one earlier on in the month, but both were amazing nevertheless. Congratulations Paul!

 

Wrestler Of The Year

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THIS IS IT. This is the big one as we determine who was the best wrestler all year long. The nominations are….

  • Seth Rollins – Last year’s winner has gone from strength to strength, having mostly reigned as WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the locker room leader. He put on great performance after great performance and was really transformed into a true main event star which is exactly what WWE are lacking in. His injury was a huge blow but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Rollins had an incredible year under him that he should really be proud of.
  • John Cena – Big Match John really upped his game in terms of his in-ring skills. John’s had match after match with the US Championship Open Challenge to demonstrate his abilities and help a fellow challenger along the way. Cena’s had great matches with the likes of Rollins, Kevin Owens, Cesaro and Dean Ambrose to make this a top year for the franchise player of WWE.
  • Kevin Owens – Despite being HUGELY under-utilised in the majority of the second half of 2015, Owens shined when given the proper mic and wrestling time. He started of the year by smashing Sami Zayn and moved onto his tremendous trilogy with John Cena. He reigned as Intercontinental Champion and in a time of need in terms of top heel stars, Kevin Owens needs to be one to push in 2016.
  • Cesaro – Cesaro gets a spot because HE FREAKING DESERVES IT. Despite not being in a lot of major programs during the year, Cesaro shined whenever he was given the ball. Even when he was under-utilised, he still did his best to make sure he had one of the best matches of the night and to prove just how great he was.
  • Brock Lesnar – Some of you may question my decision to put in a man that rarely wrestles but when he does, it’s must-see television. Brock had some of the best matches of the whole year and can captivate the audience in one way or another.

The winner is… Seth Rollins.

Congrats to Seth Rollins for winning this award for a second year in a row. While John Cena was really on top of his game this year, Seth takes this by a huge mile. He worked his ass off and his performances against some of the top names in the business shows that he belongs in the main event scene for years to come. Seth is the closest WWE’s come to creating a new legitimate star in professional wrestling.

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That will wrap it up for the award. There were a few more awards that I wanted to dish out in this post and I will do a follow-up piece some time in January to reveal some of the bonus awards including the likes of “Hidden Gem of the Year.”  Thank you all so much for making this an incredible year for the Armbar Express. Thanks to the world of wrestling for giving me the motivation to write about the good and bad of wrestling this year. Cheers!

 

WWE Survivor Series 2015 Predictions

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here with a very brief prediction piece on the Survivor Series show where a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned. It seems that the event will go on as planned, despite the ISIS terror threat. That’s good to hear as cowardly threats from ISIS really shouldn’t get in the way of a great WWE product.

Let’s get cracking. This won’t be like the huge prediction pieces from the past but I’ll just throw my predictions out there for all the matches. We’ll start with the traditional Survivor Series match between an unannounced team and another unannounced team and I believe it’s a safe bet that an unannounced team will win! Very upset that they didn’t come up with an advertised elimination match for this year’s show. It would be nice to know who will actually compete in it! However, this is a great opportunity for somebody to make a name for themselves. Do check out my top five Survivor Series elimination matches piece for SLTD Wrestling at this link as part of a lot of great content in time for Survivor Series.

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Charlotte vs Paige. I personally don’t think either of these women should be the Divas Champion right now, especially not Charlotte. I have a piece lined up for SLTD about Charlotte, where I talk about why Charlotte’s Divas Title Reign has not worked. I don’t think she should retain the title and I really feel that they have to take the belt off her at this point. I think I’m going to stand by my pick of Paige to win but I can totally see Charlotte also winning as well.

Dolph Ziggler vs Tyler Breeze. Tyler Breeze has to win in this match surely? I wouldn’t put it past them to beat Breeze in his first WWE PPV match but surely Breeze has to get the win as they’ve just brought him up to the main roster unless they’re purposely setting him up to fail. There’s no real evidence that they’re planning on doing that YET and to have Ziggler beat him here would be absurd. It’s not going to be a huge win for Breeze but it does get him on the right tracks.

Undertaker and Kane vs The Wyatts. I believe it’s Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman that’ll be representing the family. I highly doubt that WWE will have the Wyatts beat Taker and Kane. They have the Wyatts’ biggest guns out there but it’d be odd to hype Undertaker’s 25th anniversary this intensely to just beat him. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about Braun making the Undertaker pass out which I think would be one of the smarter ways to go but I’m not sure. I mentioned this for SLTD. The Wyatts should be the one that goes over if they want to promote new stars. However, this whole pay-per-view’s promotion beforehand was to promote one of their older stars. It seems very unlikely that Taker and Kane are losing.

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Finally the WWE Title Tournament. I think it’s safe to say that the final is going to be Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose. I don’t see Alberto Del Rio beating Roman Reigns. I don’t think they’ll take a chance on Kevin Owens, although I think he’s got more of a chance of winning than Del Rio. Reports are suggesting that Reigns and Ambrose were the two most lobbied names backstage. I would be surprised if one of them didn’t turn heel. All signs from RAW indicate that it’s going to be Ambrose but I’d prefer Reigns. It’s a toss-up really about who is going over. I see Roman as being more likely to win the WWE World title but I see Dean more likely to turn heel. It would be a pretty lame for them to turn him heel after losing to Roman. It’d make sense but it’d make more sense for him to win the title by selling out to the Authority. I’m going to stand with Roman Reigns but it’s very hard to guess which of the two will win the belt.