How I Would Book… Who Ran Over Stone Cold?

SPOILER ALERT from fifteen years ago, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume that nearly every wrestling fan on earth knows that Rikishi ran over Stone Cold with a car. Even if you were not watching wrestling during the attitude era, the WWE have referenced the storyline several times on WWE YouTube videos, the WWE Network and even on episodes of RAW and SmackDown! Many fans and wrestling experts over the years have criticised the WWF’s decision to have Rikishi be behind the attempted murder of the top wrestler in the company. With that said, are there many other solutions that would have been better than Rikishi? Could I have booked the “Who Ran Over Stone Cold” storyline better than WWE? Well, let’s find out!

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Before we dive into the analysis of Rikishi as the culprit, let’s run down the storyline itself from Survivor Series 1999 to Survivor Series 2000.

Stone Cold Steve Austin had been embroiled in a triple threat WWF Championship feud with the champion Triple H and The Rock. A triple threat match was promoted for Survivor Series 1999 and a triple threat match was ended up what we got. Unfortunately, it did not include the Texas Rattlesnake. Triple H provoked Austin during a backstage interview before the match. This led Austin towards the parking lot, where he was ran down by an unidentified assailant.

Austin was sidelined for nearly a year, to take care of actually injuries that he was working with at the time. He returned at Backlash 2000 for a one-off appearance to help The Rock against Triple H and made his full return to the WWF at Unforgiven 2000. He was on a quest to track down the man who had ran him over, even not pressing charges as a means to lure the man out. Austin’s methods of tracking down the attempted killer included interfering in several matches, getting on the bad side of Commissioner Mick Foley. Foley suspended Austin, conducting his own investigation into the crime.

After major suspects like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kurt Angle and The Rock were called out, Foley eventually got to the bottom of the case. Stone Cold Steve Austin was actually ran over… by Rikishi.

Rikishi, who had not appeared on WWF television yet when Austin was ran down, admitted to the crime. He claimed that he did it for The Rock, as the WWF had been keeping down Samoans like himself and The Rock for years. Austin was getting in the way of The Rock’s success, leading to Rikishi doing what he did. This led to Austin getting his revenge on Rikishi, destroying the big man in a No Holds Barred match and then trying to hit RIKISHI with a truck.

The plot thickened for the Austin mystery, as it would later be revealed that Triple H was secretly the one that had orchestrated the hit-and-run and put Rikishi up to do it.

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The biggest problem with the official solution is that it almost seemed like the culprit was too random to be a legitimate suspect. Mick Foley even mentioned it during the reveal that Rikishi wasn’t even in the WWF at the time of the hit-and-run. Therefore, it’s likely to assume that the WWF had no idea who the suspect would end up being when they shot the angle. Rikishi’s initial reasoning  for running down Austin seemed very out-of-place, as it didn’t seem enough of a justification to explain Rikishi going after Austin. Rikishi wanting to help out The Rock could be viable but the whole Samoans being held down story had nothing to do with Austin. Yeah, Austin is one of the most successful wrestlers of all time and is a 100% American. However, it’d still seem odd that Rikishi would resort to murder because of this.

Now obviously, Triple H being thrown in as the mastermind behind of the whole thing did sort of write out this explanation a little. Rikishi still could have theoretically felt how he did about The Rock and the Samoan lineage, but Triple H does give Rikishi more of a valid reason for running down Austin. After all, Triple H was the one that led Austin out into the parking lot and hated his guts. Him getting Rikishi to run down Austin makes a lot more sense than Rikishi doing it for his Samoan lineage.

While Triple H being the mastermind does involve someone that was a big part of the story at the time of the attack, Rikishi played no part in the story at all. Rikishi was a joyful babyface that got over with his dance moves more than his ruthless aggression. There seemed to be no hint of Rikishi possibly having a dark side to him, so him all of a sudden being an attempted murder does seem a bit unfathomable. It’s actually funny when watching back Rikishi’s run ins with Triple H and the McMahon-Helmsley regime in 2000. Rikishi feuded with Triple H, and even faced him for the WWF Championship one time, while secretly having conspired with him to commit attempted murder! Then again, Rikishi running down Austin would explain why Triple H would give Rikishi a title shot in the first place. I guess that was Rikishi’s grand reward.

In a way, Rikishi being the culprit was good for attempting to get over the next big star in WWE. Rikishi did get elevated as a main-event heel but ultimately ended up flopping in that role. Sticking your backside in people’s faces doesn’t exactly come off as an evil thing to do. Considering it’s Rikishi’s rear end though, I guess it kind of is! Rikishi really didn’t work as a badass, monster heel and quickly turned back into a babyface just before the Invasion angle kicked off.

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When coming up with an alternative solution, we need to think of people that not only were relevant to the story but were also strong enough to be able to work as a top heel. As much as someone like Kurt Angle being the culprit would make sense, as he would have been someone that would gain from Austin being out of the picture, he would have no real motivation other than that. It’s not like he would have met Austin at the time, as he made his in-ring debut at Survivor Series 1999 itself. As much as fans would believe this to be a fitting irony-pleasing solution, Angle doesn’t work in this role for me.

Then you’ve got to think about the other big culprits that were highlighted as the two prime suspects by Mick Foley. Triple H would have been too obvious of a culprit, even though he wounded up being written into the official solution anyway. Right after Austin was ran down, Vince McMahon immediately accused Triple H and D-Generation X of committing the crime. Him being the culprit would be rather anti-climatic.

The Rock, on the other hand, became the top babyface when Austin wasn’t around. As outlined by Mick Foley, The Rock (as well as Triple H) had the most to gain from Austin being out of the picture. At the time of Austin’s return, The Rock was the WWF Champion. Being the top babyface, his popularity rose to new heights. With The Rock being suspected so heavily leading into the official solution, him also being the suspect would be another anti-climatic reveal. Another reason for the Brahma Bull not being culprit is that the WWF would be passing up on some serious merch sales with The Rock now being viewed as a villain.

Really, we’re looking for someone that you’d least suspect. Someone that had been shown to be sinister enough to pull off devious acts like this in the past. We’re looking for someone that would do something as a means to fulfil a much grander master plan. Who would fill this role? Why it is someone that did feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 1999. It is someone that wasn’t actually there at Survivor Series 1999 and was unaccounted for. It was someone that has a history for making his foes rest in peace. The man that should have been the culprit was… the Undertaker.

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This may be a tough pill to swallow. The Undertaker did only come back as a babyface American Badass in May 2000. It would be somewhat of a letdown to see this new babyface run down our beloved Stone Cold. Then again, considering Undertaker would turn heel just a year later anyway, I think we can work a turn into this angle without hurting the Undertaker.

If you think about it, Undertaker is one of the rare people in the Attitude Era that would actually resort to murder so casually. He’s set his brother on fire repeatedly and even hanged Big Boss Man following their WrestleMania 15 Hell in a Cell match. Heck, he’s even faced Steve Austin in a Buried Alive match. I think it’s safe to say that he’d be willing to run over Austin with a corner.

The biggest issue with this is simple, and it’s actually what Kurt Angle mentioned on an edition of SmackDown! when HE was accused of running over Austin. One of the biggest parts of a murder mystery is motive. What’s the Undertaker’s motive? Why would he turn his attentions to Steve Austin? Well I have a question for you in response… why does the culprit’s motivation have to necessarily be focused at the victim? Obviously, some sort of disdain has to be present in order to consider attempting murder and Taker did feud with Austin that same year. However, what if Undertaker’s motivation was not to solely eliminate AUSTIN from the equation. While taking out Steve Austin was an added bonus, Undertaker’s real end-game was to mess with the man that had forced him to leave the WWF. Undertaker’s real end-game was in fact to remove Mr McMahon from power.

In September 1999, Undertaker “left” the WWF after refusing to take part in a Casket match with Triple H. Mr McMahon threatened to take away Undertaker’s spot in the WWF title match at Unforgiven, leading to the Undertaker walking out of the company. Jim Ross specifically stated when Undertaker made his return at Judgement Day 2000 that he was “going after McMahon” when challenging the Faction. Clearly, some hostility still exists between the two men. After all, McMahon losing power in the WWF in 1999 led to the Undertaker losing the WWF Championship and never gaining an opportunity to get it back. This could have been Undertaker’s ultimate revenge, especially after blindly following Vince’s orders when he was the “higher power” of the Corporate Ministry.

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Picture it like this. Mr McMahon was the first one shown to be outraged after Austin was run over… other than Jim Ross I guess. McMahon lashes out at DX following the incident. Knowing how much McMahon hated Triple H at the time and with Triple H’s title match with two other men coming up later that night, obviously Vince would come to the conclusion that DX was behind it. This is the Undertaker being the puppet-master, pulling McMahon’s strings by taking out one of the competitors in the running to dethrone Triple H as WWF Champion. In response, McMahon inserts the Big Show into the WWF Championship match and Big Show wins the title because of Vince. Just prior to his departure from the WWF, Undertaker had been teaming with the Big Show as part of an unholy alliance. It makes perfect sense that Taker would reward Big Show by manipulating events in order to get the title on the big man.

From behind the scenes, Undertaker is causing dysfunction within the McMahon family. Let’s start of with Stephanie, who turned on her dad and aligned with Triple H at Armageddon. Undertaker was the one that had abducted Stephanie, following the orders of Mr McMahon. Little work needed to be done on Taker’s end, with Mr McMahon having pushed Triple H’s buttons by costing him the championship at Survivor Series. McMahon made things personal with Triple H, so Triple H retaliated. Of course, Triple H hatches a master plan with Stephanie. Stephanie wanted to get revenge at her father for the abduction plan from before so she went with the man that Mr McMahon hated the most. Vince is being torn apart as daddy’s little girl has been taken away from him by the enemy.

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Shane and Linda would also get involved, leading to the WrestleMania 2000 fatal four way match with the McMahons in every corner. McMahon would be emotionally torn by having to compete with three members of his family. Not a lot can be said about the Undertaker during this period as he really can’t do much else to mess with McMahon until he comes back. Why not have McMahon regain control with Triple H and Stephanie? If he’s in charge by the time Undertaker comes back, Undertaker can be there to personally remove him from power again. At Judgement Day, his crusade with McMahon begins. He attacks him and the McMahon-Helmsley regime during the big Triple H/Rock Iron Man match. His main intentions when he comes back is to fight the regime, oust McMahon from power and win the WWF Championship. At King Of The Ring, The Rock wins the WWF Championship instead of him during a big six man tag team match but it’s not too much of a loss as at least the regime didn’t win. Undertaker will get back at The Rock, which I will get to later.

Following King Of The Ring, Vince left to become a “genetic jackhammer” while Mick Foley took over. It would have been better to say that the beatings from Undertaker, Rock etc. would force him to leave but as long as McMahon is gone. Now Undertaker can try to win back some gold. He does this initially by going after the tag team titles with Kane and then feuding with his brother. Not a lot happens for the Undertaker at this point, but he does get involved in the WWF title picture at Unforgiven 2000. How ironic, considering that he was initially barred by Mr McMahon from getting a title shot at Unforgiven last year. Here’s where I would change things up. Instead of Undertaker failing to win the championship, he wins the title in a fatal four way match also involving the champion Rock, Kane and Chris Benoit. On the very same night that Taker wins the title, Austin makes his return to WWF.

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Austin coming back is an unexpected and unwanted situation for the Undertaker. With his title reign only just getting started, Mick Foley and Austin beginning their investigations, and The Rock getting his rematch at No Mercy, how does the Undertaker turn the attention and suspicion away from himself? Why simple. Turn The Rock and Austin against each other. It is suddenly played up by Undertaker and a number of other wrestlers about how The Rock had to most to gain from Austin being ran over. This builds up all the way to No Mercy, where The Rock challenges Undertaker for the WWF Championship. Austin was initially suspended by Mick Foley, but Foley reinstates Austin after getting an anonymous tip that the culprit would reveal himself at the pay-per-view.

Up until the main event, we get no word from the culprit. Nobody comes clean. Ausitn doesn’t hear anything. Then the main-event comes around, with Austin coming down and going crazy. He pulls the referee out of the ring and grabs a chair. He sees and targets Taker, going for a chair shot but accidentally nailing The Rock. Undertaker then hits Austin with a chokeslam. Undertaker takes advantages and retains the title when the referee awakes. Undertaker then picks up a chair and unleashes hell on Austin and The Rock. Undertaker grabs the mic and laughs. He then asks the question of who had the most to gain from Austin being run over. He simply replies by saying “me” and that Austin’s search was over. Undertaker was the one that ran over Austin.

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Austin initially challenges Taker for the title at Survivor Series 2000, with it ending in a no contest after Austin takes out Taker in a similar fashion to Triple H in real life. Undertaker retains the title at Armageddon 2000. Then Mick Foley resigns as Commissioner which changes everything. Undertaker would have mentioned in an explanation that he did what he did to remove Austin and McMahon out of the equation and win the WWF title. Now Vince is back and in charge. Therefore, McMahon is going to make Undertaker pay. Undertaker vs The Rock is booked for Royal Rumble, with Vince’s reasoning being to make amends with The Rock after Vince turned on him at WrestleMania 2000. Sure. Whatever works. Undertaker loses the championship following interference from Stone Cold. Stone Cold wins the Royal Rumble itself, leading to No Way Out. Instead of Triple H, Undertaker is the one that faces and beats Stone Cold in a three stages of hell match.

That effectively is when the storyline ends. However, with Steve Austin and Mr McMahon’s alliance after WrestleMania 17, there is a lot more potential with the dynamic of Undertaker, McMahon and Austin. Imagine Stone Cold Steve Austin working with the boss to take out the man that tried to kill him. You could do the Power Trip angle if you’d like, having Undertaker and Kane battle Austin and Triple H. This could also add a lot to the Invasion angle, especially when it comes to Austin and Taker. You could have Austin and Taker initially not trust each and then eventually bury the hatchet (well bury the hatchet as much as you could, considering Taker tried to kill the man). Alternatively, you could have Austin join the Alliance and led the group against the WWF led by the Undertaker. The possibilities are endless.

Or if you’d prefer for the storyline to finish at WrestleMania 17, simply have Undertaker hold the championship all the way to WrestleMania. Austin wins the Rumble and Undertaker is the WWF Champion. This leads to the ultimate showdown in Texas between Austin and the man that ran him over more than a year ago. In the ultimate act of revenge for Undertaker running him over, Austin makes a deal with the devil himself Vince McMahon. McMahon was manipulated by Undertaker for so long, so Vince helped Austin DEFEAT the Undertaker at WrestleMania. The streak and Undertaker’s title reign is ended by Stone Cold Steve Austin.

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That about wraps up this edition of How I Would Book. I have to admit, this one was rather fun to write. I’d seen many different solutions but after thinking of a number of different options, Undertaker being the mastermind actually fits in with the storyline well. I’d love to hear of any other alternative solutions from fans so feel free to leave a comment or tweet me @TomRobinson5199. Don’t just do it for me. Do it… for The Rock. Thanks for reading everyone.

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!

 

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Retro Express – Summerslam 2007

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

 

WWE Summerslam

Date: August 26th 2007

Brand: RAW and SmackDown!

City: East Rutherford, New Jersey

Attendance: 17,000

 

Finlay vs Kane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **1/4

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: *3/4

 

Rey Mysterio vs Chavo Guerrero

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: 1/2*

 

MVP vs Matt Hardy in an open challenge

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

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

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

Segment Rating: ***

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: **3/4

 

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

 

Triple H vs King Booker w/Queen Sharmell

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

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

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

Match Rating: **

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: -*

 

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

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

Old chicken makes good soup huh?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Match Rating: ***

 

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

 

 

… at least we got William Regal dancing.

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19/10/2015 RAW Review – The Reunion Of The Shield?

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RAW PREVIEW available at this link.

It’s time for the RAW review. I had high expectations for this RAW as I stated in the preview above. With the likes of Steve Austin, Undertaker, Ric Flair, Brock Lesnar and Shawn Michaels available, WWE had a lot of potential with this show. Anyway, let’s get to it with this review.

Steve Austin opened up the show. Austin talked about being back in Texas and plugged the Stone Cold podcast with Brock Lesnar. He brought out the Undertaker. This was a heavy start to the show to say the least with Austin and Undertaker initially! Undertaker said that he and Lesnar have one last battle to fight. The depths of hell are going to look like the gates of heaven compared to where he’s going to take Lesnar at Hell in a Cell. Loved that line. Brock Lesnar then came out! and Paul Heyman cut a promo. He talked about both Lesnar and Taker wanting revenge at Hell in a Cell. He says that Brock Lesnar will take his revenge upon thee. Undertaker cut him off saying that when you take everything from a man, that man ends up with nothing to lose. Undertaker told Brock to just bring it and Brock walked down to the ring. Paul was pleading with Brock to not go and fight Taker, and Brock eventually walked away. I was kind of upset that he did that considering the intensity of this feud so far. However, this was a solid opening to RAW. As it turns out, that ended up being all we got from Lesnar and Undertaker on this RAW. All of the hype which lead to… nothing.

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Our first match was John Cena and the Dudley Boyz vs the New Day. It was announced that John Cena would be doing the US Title Open Challenge at Hell in a Cell which I’m looking forward to. It was also announced that John Cena would be appearing on SportsCentre TUESDAY night rather than on Monday as it was originally promoted. I found it odd that WWE initially announced that John would be appearing on ESPN during the second hour of RAW. Did they just tell they audience to change the channel? The New Day called Texas booty and Kofi talked about beating up Cena and the Dudleyz a few weeks ago. Kofi said that “the New Day kicked their”, but New Day cut him off. Kofi then responded by saying “Hey, we’re the New Day…. ASS!” I thought that was so awesome!

The New Day started to the dominate but D-Von got the hot tag. What’s great about the Dudleyz is that usually a lot of tag teams have one man that takes the heat in the match and there’s the one with the hot tag. Both D-Von and Bubba have great hot tags! Bubba did the most awkward clothesline to Big E which tumbled him out of the ring. Cena did a dive onto Big E on the outside. All of a sudden, Xaiver rolled up D-Von and grabbed the tights for the win! I thought that was a bit of an abrupt ending to the match which I thought was down to a bit of an issue with the timing of the show. However, John Cena and the Dudleyz were able to do the post-match beatdown and put Xaiver through a table. So I guess they just booked it like that but I guess they cut a bit off time from the match to make room for Austin or something. Not a bad six man tag but just awkward in some situations.

Michael Cole announced that Randy Orton was not at the WWE tour in Mexico (also featuring the Undertaker) and was injured which JBL already said was caused by the Wyatts. JBL said that his sources told him that the Wyatts did it. JBL must have some incredible sources to announce the assailants before WWE did! Dean Ambrose said he wasn’t waiting for Sunday and that he was going to challenge the Wyatts tonight

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Nikki Bella and Alicia Fox were accompanied by Brie Bella for a Divas tag team match against Sasha Banks and Naomi, who were accompanied by Tamina Snuka. There was something off to me when Alicia and Sasha first locked up and it was mostly due to Alicia. Maybe it’s the size difference, but Alicia looked like she could not lock up to save her life. Nikki then got the heat on Naomi and proceeded to push Naomi up on the ropes with her… derrière. I’m not making it up. She pushed Naomi onto the ropes with her backside. That’s EXACTLY what she did!

Sasha got the hot tag and ran wild. Then, Naomi was tagged back in and did a cross body from the top. However, Nikki was able to do a sneak attack onto Nikki which was apparently had so much impact that it KO’d Sasha for the last minute of the match. She was knocked out with this simple move when just two weeks ago, she was up and at Bayley for 30 minutes in an Iron Man match. I hated this tag team match. Sasha was not that active in the match which really hurt it.

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It was announced that “Corporate Kane” was suspended by WWE and would not be here for RAW. Shawn Michaels came down to ring and ate some kid’s pizza! XD He talked about Hell in a Cell and being in the first one. Michaels basically plugged the Hell in a Cell matches this Sunday until Seth Rollins came out. I have no idea why Seth’s hair was so freaking wet! Seth said that Shawn was supposed to introduce Seth Rollins rather than talk about the Hell in a Cell matches. Shawn says he ignores instructions all the time and that he wanted to have a bit of fun with the fans. Shawn said they were having a great time until Seth came out. Seth said that he needed to talk about the champion that was going to stop the show at Hell in a Cell. He said that Shawn needed to talk about Seth Rollins. Shawn said that if he had a nickel for everyone that has been called the new Shawn Michaels, he’d be a billionaire. Shawn said it never occurred to him to be the second coming of anybody. Seth said that Shawn was jealous because Seth’s moment at Wrestlemania 31 eclipsed all of Shawn’s Wrestlemania moments. Seth said he had enough of the conversation and told them to hit his music. They wouldn’t do it. Shawn said that Seth’s got a match next against Ryback and told the music guy to hit HIS music. Seth’s last match with Ryback on RAW actually wasn’t that bad so I had high hopes going into this one.

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They had their match. It was an OK match I guess. Seth Rollins hit the pedigree and Seth beat Ryback… CLEAN! What a concept! The WWE World Heavyweight Champion won a match clean! They finally had Seth win a match! As Wrestlezone pointed out on Twitter, Ryback won their last match on RAW a month ago because of Sting. To see Seth actually pick up the clean win here actually works fine.

It was announced that Dean Ambrose would be facing Braun Strowman and Luke Harper in a handicap match on RAW. They replayed Summer Rae dumping Rusev last week on RAW. As you’ll recall, Rusev was mucked around on that show. They also showed Summer Rae screwing Rusev as the special guest referee on SmackDown! and then hitting on Dolph Ziggler. It was then time for a six man tag team match with Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro and Neville against Rusev, Sheamus and King Barrett.

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It was a good six man tag team match. Just a shame that the announcers were comparing Rusev to George Clooney and Cesaro to Rodger Federer. NO attention paid to this match at all. Neville went for a tag but Sheamus pushed Ziggler off the apron. However as he did that, Cesaro went off the apron himself without being touched! Cesaro was tagged in and ran wild. A very good hot tag. Then Ziggler did his hot tag. Ziggler hit the Fame-Asser but Barrett sold it poorly to be honest. I just think he fell down a bit too quickly. Neville did the big springboard dive onto the outside to which JBL said that Wayne Rooney would never do that! The finish was Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick onto Ziggler and Barrett getting the win. There’s a lot of potential with a heel European stable with Rusev, Sheamus and King Barrett if WWE ever went with it. You might as well!

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It was announced that Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler would be on MizTV on SmackDown! Ric Flair came out to the joy of myself! Ric talked about Wrestlemania 32 being in Texas. He announced that it would be Roman Reigns teaming with Dean to take on Luke Harper and Braun Strowman. Roman Reigns came out as Ric called him his “main man.”  The Wyatts came out with ERICK ROWMAN being with them but not Luke Harper. Roman called Bray into the ring. Roman said that Bray should be very scared off being locked in Hell in a Cell with him without his crew. All I kept thinking after he said that is, I guarantee that the Wyatt Family will get inside the Cell in someway during the Reigns/Wyatt match!

Seth, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were talking backstage. The Wyatts/Reigns and Ambrose match was now a two on three handicap match. So the match has now been changed twice in one night! Shawn Michaels interrupted Steph, Seth and HHH with Seth with a facial expression of complete disgust towards Shawn Michaels! I loved it! Then the match was changed again when Seth Rollins decided to be Roman and Dean’s partner in a six man tag team match! So I guess it’s the Shield reunited against the Wyatts.

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Charlotte took on Brie Bella. Paige was backstage watching on. This match was much better than the tag team divas match from earlier. However, that’s not saying a great deal to be honest. It was very hard care but because the build for this match between Nikki and Charlotte at Hell in a Cell has been so lacklustre. Charlotte won. Renee Young interviewed Paige backstage. Renee asked Paige if she attacked Natalya on SmackDown! and said that she was the prime suspect. Paige claimed that anyone could have had an issue with the Divas Revolution including Alundra Blayze! Renee mentioned that Paige was still not answering her question and Paige told her to get her facts straight.

Kevin Owens was in a non-title match with Mark Henry. The big highlight of the match was Kevin Owens hitting the pop-up powerbomb on Mark Henry! That was impressive. As Michael Cole pointed out, Kevin could easily do that to Ryback if he can do that to Mark Henry. Ryback came out but Kevin wanted to run away. Mark threw Kevin back into the ring and Ryback hit a huge powerbomb to Kevin. It’s nice that they actually did something with this feud.

Seth did a interview with Renee Young backstage and said this six man tag team match was not about reuniting the Shield. It was about proving that he was in fact the man and he was going to show the world just how great he was. They showed another Brock Lesnar/Undertaker hype-up video. They announced for the Hell in a Cell pre-show that it would be a rematch from the six man tag team match earlier as Ziggler, Neville and Cesaro will take on Rusev, Sheamus and Barrett.

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Next up was the six man tag team match main event. The fans were already chanting “This is Awesome” before the match started, shades of the match between these two stables at 2014 Elimination Chamber. Rollins and Ambrose were arguing on the apron as Roman started things off. Seth was knocked to the outside and told Dean and Roman “Hey, I already had one match!”

Seth walked out on the match when he “suffered” an injury. The match ended when Dean hit everybody with Kendo Sticks. The Wyatts ganged up on Dean until Roman did the big dive to the group. Roman did spears to Bray and Rowan to end the show. I thought this was a decent main event and good build for Hell in a Cell.

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I thought this RAW was better than RAW last week. However, I was expecting a lot more with all the stars that were signed up for this edition of RAW. They could have made better use of Ric and Steve Austin. I was expecting a lot more from Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. I had high expectations for this RAW to be honest. I can’t say this was a bad show but I was expecting a lot more considering this was the go-home show for the PPV.

19/10/2015 RAW PREVIEW – Can WWE Turn Ratings Around With Top Stars In Texas?

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How’s it going everybody? Thomas Robinson here once again to talk about RAW. The pressure is on for the writers of WWE as they are coming off record-low ratings for their flagship show. With ratings at their lowest since 1997, Vince is reportedly “freaking out” over ratings which has not done them any favours leading up to Hell in a Cell. It’s also not doing them any favours that they’ve not been able to promote the main event of that show due to availability issues for both Undertaker and Brock Lesnar.

Have no fear though, both men are here for tonight’s edition of RAW in Texas. This RAW is crucial for the writers as it is the go-home show for the PPV. They certainly don’t want to go into Hell in a Cell with low ratings so they’ve brought out a number of big guns tonight. Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels are advertised alongside Undertaker and Brock Lesnar for RAW. Whether Stone Cold Steve Austin will be appearing tonight is still up in the air as it seems that not even Stone Cold knows what he’s doing tonight!

We do know that he’ll be doing his podcast with Brock Lesnar as his guest after RAW which could very well be great to watch. What Undertaker and Brock Lesnar will do tonight is interesting. If Brock is scheduled for the podcast, it’d be strange if Brock and Taker got into a huge brawl or something on RAW. It’s not like Brock will be walking into the podcast and selling an attack from Taker. But you never know…

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What we don’t know is what John Cena will be doing at Hell in a Cell. So far, he is not advertised for the PPV. He’s not currently scheduled for a match but his match could easily be announced tonight. With his current feud with Dolph Ziggler, it’s likely that Cena vs Ziggler for the US Championship will be announced for the PPV. Cena could still do his US Open challenge tonight but he’ll likely retain to lead into the PPV.

There’s a few more matches that will no doubt be built up for Hell in a Cell. Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt is a match I’m looking forward to. The build-up so far has been a bit comme ci comme ca and it’s had it’s ups and downs. I hope there’s some kind of brawl tonight because I feel that’s the only way this rivalry should have been built up. Their strongest segments during their program has been because of the fans’ desire to see these two just beat the hell out of each other. If they fight tonight, that’s going to build up Sunday’s fight up very well.

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There’s a number of title matches lined up for the PPV too. There needs to be some serious work done for the Intercontinental Championship match. Ryback and Kevin Owens have barely done anything with each other since Kevin won the title. There’s got to be some kind of confrontation. Charlotte vs Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship will also need a bit of work done. I’ve not really thought highly of the Divas Revolution storyline since Paige cut her worked shoot on the RAW after Night of Champions. Charlotte’s not really been that impressive as champion yet and Nikki Bella has just annoyed me with her lack of emotion after losing her title. There’s not a lot going for this feud so unless they add Paige to the title match (which I highly doubt they’ll do), I think the interest into this match will quickly dissipate.

There’s also the true highlight of the show in the New Day. I can’t wait to see what antics those three will be up to tonight! So far, their tag title defence against the Dudleyz is currently just a regular match. However, the tables stipulation could easily be added tonight. Then there’s the final week of the Kane vs Seth Rollins feud. I had a entire article prepared on Seth but I should mention it now just before RAW… Seth NEEDS to win a match tonight. Seth’s record since Night of Champions has been so shameful that it’s incredible that their champion is being booked this way. I know with the other two Hell in a Cell matches, there’s not a lot of pressure on Kane and Seth. However, Seth needs to look credible. If Kane completely dominates this week, Seth’s credibility would be crippled. If Seth is going to be as featured as prominently as he usually is on RAW, he needs to do something of value to justify all of this time he’s given. He needs a pin over “Demon Kane” to lead into the PPV.

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I think this RAW could EASILY be one of the strongest RAWs of the year. I know that’s not saying much considering the quality of RAWs this year hasn’t been all that great, but it needs to be. With Lesnar, Taker, Flair, Austin and Michaels all under the same roof in Dallas, something’s got to give. This could be the ratings boost WWE needs but only if they capitalise on the stars that have come together in Texas. The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas. If the WWE allows these stars to shine big and bright tonight, it could be just the boost they need….

WWE 2K16: First Overalls Revealed – Thoughts And Reactions

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With this blog post, I wanted to do something different. Usually I don’t do a lot of articles on WWE games. In the last few weeks, I’ve done a few articles which have gained quite a lot of views so I’m going to do some before the release of WWE 2K16. This article is mostly looking at the “overalls” of the wrestlers on the game. For those of you that haven’t played the games, the wrestlers are each given a rating based on strength, speed, durability etc. These stats contribute to how well the wrestlers play in the game and give you a bit of an idea about how WWE ranks everyone on their roster. Recently 22 overalls were revealed for the game and what I thought it’d be fun to do a reaction piece to this list. We’re going to have a look at what these rankings were and whether I agree or disagree with them. Without further ado, here’s the 22 rankings in question…

  • John Cena: 95
  • Brock Lesnar: 94
  • Daniel Bryan: 92
  • Seth Rollins: 92
  • Kevin Owens: 91
  • Sheamus: 90
  • Cesaro: 88
  • Rusev: 88
  • Finn Balor: 88
  • Sami Zayn: 87
  • Neville: 86
  • Dolph Ziggler: 86
  • Bad News Barrett: 86
  • Stardust: 86
  • Ryback: 86
  • Luke Harper: 86
  • Hideo Itami: 85
  • The Miz: 84
  • Damien Mizdow: 84
  • Sin Cara: 84
  • Tyson Kidd: 84
  • Curtis Axel: 83
  • Kalisto: 83
  • Colin Cassady: 82
  • Baron Corbin: 81
  • Enzo Amore: 80
  • Simon Gotch: 80
  • Aiden English: 80

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So we’re going to go from top to bottom with this thing. The first thing to notice is that the top wrestler in terms of rankings is John Cena. John Cena usually is one of the top wrestlers of the game. He’s usually only ever beaten by a few legends and is usually the top guy on the main roster. Understandably, the WWE want to promote Cena as their top wrestler by giving him the highest rankings in the game. The only issue I have with this is the fact that he’s above Brock Lesnar. Brock Lesnar, if you recall, beat the crap out of John Cena at Summerslam 2014. Brock Lesnar was champion for about 8 months I think. To argue that he is inferior to John Cena seems a bit too much. If it was me, Lesnar would be around a 96 and Cena would be 95. I think Brock is just on a completely different level to the other wrestlers in terms of kayfabe, especially when you consider his MMA career too. That’s why he’s treated as a special attraction. Therefore, I think it’s only fitting that he gets a much greater rating.

Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins are both on 92. I think someone mentioned on a YouTube video that Daniel Bryan has dropped 2 points from last year. I can understand that since he’s not been wrestling a great deal since the last game. He also never competed for the WWE World title or anything when he returned, so his rating makes sense. Seth Rollins, on the other hand, seems a little underrated. It’s very strange that the WWE World Heavyweight Champion is three points behind the United States Champion. That really doesn’t sit well with me. Of course, the US Champion is John Cena. However, give Seth a little bit of credit. I think a 93, 94 or possibly even a 95 would have been more suitable for Rollins.

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Kevin Owens is at 91. I know Kevin Owens is a very unique character that completed domianted NXT. However, I think is hugely overrated in this game. I think it’s mostly because he’s rated so close to Seth Rollins. He’s struggled to go up against the likes of Rusev and Cesaro on television, yet he’s miles in front of them on the video game. He only just beat Ryback at Night of Champions and he’s miles ahead of him too. I think there’s a few times on this list where the NXT wrestlers are way higher than they should be. Kevin Owens is a special kind of talent though, so I’d put him at around 89. That way, he’s not leagues ahead of Cesaro and Rusev. I think 89 would be an acceptable rating for someone with his position on the card.

Sheamus is at 90. Other than being below Kevin Owens, I don’t really have a problem with this rating. I don’t think he’s anyway near the likes of Rollins and Cena, as he’s been losing a lot on television. Rusev and Cesaro are names I’ve mentioned before. Maybe Rusev should get a few more points, because he did have the big undefeated streak last year in which he beat John Cena. I know that ended in March, but he’s still a top wrestler in the company (even with his storyline also involving Dolph Ziggler and Lana). Finn Balor being on the same level as Rusev and Cesaro seems a bit extreme for an NXT star, even if he is the NXT Champion. Sami Zayn is also on 87, which we’ll get onto in a bit. Finn is still an NXT star. To say that he’s already on the same level as Cesaro and Rusev without even being on the main roster is a bit absurd. If Finn Balor was to be pushed as if he was on that level when he debuts, I could accept this rating. However, we have no idea what’s on the horizon for the main roster run of Finn Balor.

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Sami Zayn is also at 87. To be honest, Sami Zayn at 87 would be an actually decent rating for him. At least it would be, if it were not for all of those rated at 86 that he’s beating! According to WWE 2K16, Sami Zayn is better than Dolph Ziggler, Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper, Ryback and Stardust! Four of these men have been Intercontinental Champion in the past year but yet Sami Zayn is somehow superior to all of them! The majority of these men have been on the main roster for five years. I know it’s important to promote the NXT stars, but it’s important to do that without making the main roster look bad at the same time! I actually don’t have a problem with Sami Zayn being higher than Neville on the list. Sami Zayn BEAT Neville at NXT TakeOver in their last encounter, so it makes sense that he’d be higher.

Hideo Itami is at 85, which surprisingly doesn’t bother me. He is higher than The Miz, someone that has won many titles in the WWE. However, I don’t really have much of a problem with this. Maybe they should be on the same level, but Hideo would have the far superior wrestling moveset anyway. The Miz being on par with Damien Mizdow makes sense, as they were pretty much on par in their feud earlier on in the year. I understand Damien being above Curtis Axel, since he did beat him during their mini-feud in May. Sin Cara being above Kalisto makes sense, considering Sin Cara has spent more time on the main roster than Kalisto. The one that really bothers me at around this range is Tyson Kidd.

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Tyson Kidd was a former champion in the past year. He was part of the best tag team of the year, alongside Cesaro. They were WWE Tag Team Champions. The idea that Cesaro is a whole FOUR points above his partner makes Tyson look incredibly weak. They properly underrated Tyson Kidd with his overall.

Speaking of making somebody look incredibly weak, Baron Corbin is at 81! Baron Corbin is supposed to be a main-eventer on NXT but is given such a low rating compared to the likes of Finn Balor and Hideo Itami. He’s even surpassed by Big Cass! I figured that Baron would be around the 84-85 range.

The last thing to point out is that the combined ratings of Enzo Amore and Big Cass is greater than the combined ratings of the NXT Tag Team Champions the Vaudevillians. The NXT Tag Champions should really have a better rating than the other NXT tag teams. On the other hand, the developers might be thinking that people would want to play as Enzo and Cass more than the Vaudevillians. To that end, they might have given them the better rating so people could have a better time playing with them.

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So there you go. There are my thoughts at these overalls. Half of them are fine but a few of them seem to be overrated, particular the NXT stars. However, we’ll get an even better understanding of how they stack up compared to the rest of the roster when the game is released. As long as Terminator is a 100, I’ll be fine!

Analysing The Potential Wrestlemania 32 Opponents For Brock Lesnar

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The announcement that the third installment of the Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar rivalry would take place at Hell in a Cell caught many of us off-guard. Many of us were expecting the third match to take place at Wrestlemania 32. No better way for this rivalry to come to an then at the PPV that is responsible for this feud in the first place. Many experts predicted that the third match would take place at Wrestlemania 32 in Texas. However, Night of Champions gave us quite a shock with the announcement. The question is now, what are the Wrestlemania 32 plans for Brock Lesnar and Undertaker if they’re not facing each other? Just WHO will they be facing?

Four names have come out in reports that are linked to a potential clash with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania. With this article, I’m going to run down each candidate and see which of these match-ups I’d like to see for Wrestlemania.

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The first name I noticed was Roman Reigns. The reasoning for this match is pretty simple. It’s basically a rematch from Roman and Brock’s match from Wrestlemania 31. There’s a lot of good reasons for this rematch to take place. Firstly, there was never truly a winner between the two of them at Wrestlemania 31 due to Seth Rollins. This match will determine who is the toughest of the two and just who truly is the better man. Roman Reigns will have something to prove and so would Brock. Brock never did beat Roman Reigns. Brock’s a prizefighter but is a vengeful beast if he’s not truly conquered his past foes. He was never able to put away Roman Reigns.

I also think the timing couldn’t be better for the two of them to collide again. If WWE decide to go with Roman vs Lesnar non-title, then there’s little pressure on the two of them. There’s also no real pressure on WWE when deciding a winner. A lot of hardcore fans would probably be upset if Roman beat Brock, but it won’t backfire on them nearly as badly as if they actually did have Roman BEAT Brock last year.

Roman’s a strong contender but let’s look at candidate #2… Seth Rollins.

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Reports suggest that this match between Seth and Brock would probably be for the WWE World Heavyweight title (assuming Seth makes it all the way to Mania as champion). One year after stealing the title from Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 31, Seth must now defend his championship against the same man. I always like a bit of continuity being utilized, especially at a special event like Wrestlemania.

Much like the Roman Reigns match, both Seth and Brock would have something to prove. Seth would need to prove that he is the man in WWE and Brock needs to win back the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Brock also was never able to beat Seth Rollins the first time, due to the Undertaker. Both men are heavily motivated going into this match. Their first match wasn’t that bad but this second, with a lot more time, could prove to be a classic Wrestlemania main event.

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The third choice is someone that has been speculated to fight Brock Lesnar a few times before, ever since Brock returned in 2012. His name… is The Rock.

WWE have had plans for Rock vs Brock II at Wrestlemania 30. However, several issues caused WWE to switch plans. From a business standpoint, Rock vs Brock II is a gold mine. The two biggest WWE stars in the mainstream media colliding in the main event of Wrestlemania would gain TRUE mainstream media buzz for the WWE. I would probably accept this as a good match for Brock… as long as he won. No disrespect to The Rock, but a Hollywood Star that hasn’t wrestled in two years shouldn’t really be beating a dominant fighter like Brock Lesnar. WWE would have to be very careful if this is their plan for Wrestlemania.

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Speaking of being careful, this last candidate can raise all kinds of hell for with a big match against Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 32. This man… is Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Paul Heyman teased the idea of the showdown during an appearance on Austin’s podcast. WWE really got on Heyman’s case for doing that. The WWE might not be a fan of the match and neither is Austin from the sounds of things. In fact, this was the tweet Austin sent out about these reports.

Austin getting back to the ring is obviously a big deal. However, there’s one VERY VERY MAJOR problem which should rule out the idea of this match happening. Austin’s been out of action since 2003. The main reason for his career ending in the first place was because of his neck. If you want Austin to come back, then he’s obviously got to work with a safe wrestler. He certainly shouldn’t be locking up with someone with a whole moveset that’s based around German Suplexes! Nothing against Brock Lesnar, but it’s not worth throwing Austin in the ring with Brock Lesnar. It also doesn’t help the case when Brock and Austin have very LITTLE history in WWE together. At least Roman, Seth and Rock have some sort of claim that could make a match at Wrestlemania seem like a logical match for Lesnar.

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If I had to pick an opponent for Brock right now, I think it’d be Roman Reigns. However, there’s a lot of reason to go with any of the options. However, you know Brock and Roman can deliver in a main event scenario. Therefore, it’s a safe bet when deciding the ultimate match for the Beast Incarnate…

WWE 2K16: Joey Styles Announces That Will Be In The Game

“And now thanks to the magic of live television I’m gonna show the whole world, why for seven years in ECW I was the unscripted, uncensored, loose cannon of commentary.” – Joey Styles

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A bit of news surrounding WWE 2K16. Joey Styles has tweeted out about the WWE 2K16 game and confirmed that he will be apart of the game, commentating in the Austin 3:16 showcase mode during Steve Austin’s brief run at ECW.

Here’s the tweet below…

Mikey Whipwreck along with the ECW arena were already confirmed for the game and to add that bit of authenticity, the Voice of ECW himself Joey Styles has seemingly been added to the game.

Joey Styles is an awesome addition to the game. WWE 2K15 only featured Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler on commentary, even throughout the showcase modes.

It’s already been announced that JBL will join Cole and Lawler on commentary, and Jim Ross will be providing Attitude Era commentary for Austin’s Showcase mode. So Joey Styles also getting his shot at commentary is also pretty awesome to see. Five commentators being used throughout to mix things up a bit.

Joey Styles has been working for WWE on their digital media output since leaving the commentary booth in 2008. This showcase mode provides an opportunity for Joey to return to commentary and I do like WWE Games’ insistence on staying as true to the source material as possible. If that’s the case, then there’s always the possibility that PAUL HEYMAN might be featured on commentary if they feature some of Austin’s appearances in 2001 as part of the Alliance.

That might be pushing it a bit, but seeing Joey is a great bit of news for me. I’m a huge fan of Joey.