Total Divas Season One Review – The Main Cast

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Total Divas debuted in 2013 on E!, capitalising on a more realistic age for WWE in terms of social relevance and mainstream media. This was their take on reality television, featuring the top divas from WWE. Your favourites divas from the Bellas to Natalya had their personal lives brought to our television screens.

There were a fair amount of wrestling fans (including wrestlers like Dolph Ziggler) who were against the reality show with the show focusing a lot more on the entertainment than the sports in sports entertainment. It was soap opera storylines that never seemed to sit right with hardcore wrestling fans.

For female viewers however, it was completely new territory. Coming after the Kardashians on E!, they could seize an opportunity to attract casual viewers on E! to their main WWE product. Whether it worked is still up for debate, considering RAW ratings are at their all-time lowest. And no, I’m not blaming Total Divas for the reasons RAW ratings have went down!

I’m just saying that the chances of many E! viewers suddenly becoming interested in RAW and SmackDown! after watching this are extremely unlikely when looking at the numbers.

With that being said, the show is still on the air as of 2017 and even a Total Bellas spin-off has been premiered. So it seems E! are happy with the ratings of this show!

Reality shows aren’t really something I’d ever watch and I’d been hugely disappointed by the reality shows I’ve seen before this. However, could this female-tailored reality show about the women of wrestling turn me around?

I’ve finished watching the full first season of this show and will provide a follow-up in-depth review of the season after this article. In the mean time, I wanted to produce a blog post basically looking at the characters of the show.

There were seven divas cast as the leads for this series – Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, Eva Marie and JoJo. One by one, we will break down each female’s involvement on the show, their likeability factor and whether they are actually good television characters for this show. SPOILERS for season 1 of Total Divas are to be expected…

Nikki Bella

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The “star” of the show as well as the then-boyfriend to John Cena. Most of Nikki’s storylines revolve around John Cena as well as certain episodes where she fights with Brie and, to an extent, Eva Marie. Nikki is the centre of the majority of episodes, with the Bella hoping to take things with John to the next level. It’s very easy for me to see how a character like this would be interesting to a female viewer, with typical soap-opera storylines about love and marriage. Everyone has a storyline like this on the show but Nikki’s relationship with John is the biggest.

I, as a man, personally do not connect with Nikki’s storyline. It comes off as an extreme negative with Nikki’s almost dead-pan delivery of subjects that your average dude is not going to be interested in. Visually, she comes off appealing to men which I guess is a fine way to garner some interest from that audience. The issue overall with Nikki is the superficial nature of her character that makes her seem just like any other E! reality show lead like Kim Kardashian. I could see why an E! viewer may find that attractive but from a narrative standpoint, it puts her in a tough writer’s block with her character. Are we just going to keep to doing the same storyline with her and Cena going into the 2018 episodes where Cena actually proposes?

 

Brie Bella 

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I personally really like Brie Bella. Maybe it’s down to Daniel Bryan’s affect on her or how bad Nikki looks in comparison but this is the type of girl that, if I met in real life, I could see myself having a positive conversation with her. Brie is one of the more mature women on the show, even in her “Brie Mode” state. In one particular episode, she has a heart-to-heart with Natalya when they’re all drinking in Vegas and Brie comes off extremely composed.

In the rare times that she comes off unlikable, it mostly feels extremely forced like with Natalya (which I’ll get to later) and therefore, doesn’t strike me as real. I’d like to think that Brie on this show is exactly like Brie would be in real life. Maybe that’s me giving the show the benefit of the doubt but whatever… as long as I have characters that I can find likeable!

 

Natalya

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I mentioned that some of the unlikablity factors on this show feels extremely forced upon. Natalya is the biggest victim of this. Natalya never struck me as an unlikable person whenever I’ve seen her on RAW, SmackDown! or in any other setting, prior to watching this show. Watching this show however, Natalya strikes me as having more “bitchy” storylines than anyone else.

She constantly complains about other women taking her spot on television, not getting enough attention for her husband TJ Wilson (Tyson Kidd) and the work of other women in general. She comes off as irrational in a lot of cases, like when she sees TJ working with Eva Marie and then decides to feel up Fandango to get TJ jealous. TJ and Eva act all professional just training while Natalya overreacts.

Again, it’s hard to believe that Natalya is actually this awful in real life which is an issue. In this show, Natalya is the “veteran” out of everyone and you’d think would be the voice of wisdom to the younger talent. Instead, she outright complains about them. We hardly get to she her in an advisory role which would make for better storylines, particularly for the newbies.

 

Trinity (Naomi) 

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Naomi doesn’t particular strike me as interesting character but at least she comes off somewhat as a fun character. Naomi basically buckles down and works hard, trying to work her way onto television the old fashion way. She is a witness to her partner’s shenanigans on the road while in a relationship with Jonathan Fatu (Jimmy Uso).

Naomi’s specific storylines however are pretty hard to enjoy especially when it’s regarding her relationship with Jon. Naomi has to put up with a demanding boyfriend in Jon, who himself is irrational in a lot of different scenarios. He’s upset that Naomi is not wearing her engagement ring, upset when Naomi allows her dad to stay with them for a little bit and upset that Naomi is set to be in a romantic angle on television. Naomi having to put up with this nonsense rubs off badly on her storylines as you mostly want her in a background role more than having her own storylines with Jon. I guess her stuff with Cameron is somewhat tolerable but there’s not too many storylines of the Funkadactyls actually working together.

 

Ariane (Cameron)

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The Cameron character on Total Divas is a very much welcome part of season one of Total Divas. Why’s that? Well Cameron is the only character on the show who actually strikes me as unique. In professional wrestling itself, you need a wide variety of characters that make people stand out and be recognised. On television, this is even more important. All the other girls are almost interchangeable and similar in terms of their storylines which really kills interest in them.

While Cameron does have similar storylines, her mannerisms on the show are a one-on-a-kind. It’s a person that you’d never believe would actually exist in the real world and that’s what reality television shows should be about. Her casual drops of catchphrases like “thebomb.com” and “girl bye” as well as the outlandish ideas she has for the likes of her boyfriend Vinny just makes her “must-see” TV. She’s so crazy that it’s a change in pace from everyone else and she’s one of those people that you look at and would honestly want to hang out with for a day to see the world from their eyes. She’s tremendous!

 

Eva Marie

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The most hated woman on this show for many viewers but NOT as unlikable as you’d think. In fact, there’s actually not a lot wrong that Eva does. Her most “unlikable” traits are just being stupid… that’s it. I don’t know if Eva is actually like this in real life and I’d like to think that she isn’t but her unlikeness comes from just the plain ignorance and laziness she portrays on this show.

Things like pretending to be an experienced dancer so she can be on television and not being able to pronounce future WWE World Champion Jinder Mahal’s name (she, in fact, called him “Ginger Mahal”) doesn’t strike me as things I want to see but I guess, as a rookie, Eva needs to do these things from a narrative standpoint. A “learn from your mistakes” character if you will. Other than that, she actually doesn’t do anything wrong to other people. She does brag a lot about several opportunities but it mostly leads to characters like JoJo getting all jealous and it’s really not Eva’s fault that they get jealous of it. If you consider being an idiot the same as being unlikable, then Eva probably wouldn’t sit well. Otherwise, not TOO much wrong with Eva at this point.

 

JoJo Offerman

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JoJo was clearly a character they gave up on in the middle of the season or possibly early on during the production of the series. JoJo wasn’t particular an interesting character and her particular storyline is mostly an extension’s of Eva’s. They’re both the rookies so either JoJo is watching Eva during these shenanigans or she becomes jealous of Eva’s success. JoJo’s deadpan reactions to Eva’s success with the likes of Maxim does not make JoJo come off well. In fact, she comes off WORSE than Eva in a lot of these episodes.

JoJo seems like a girl that treats these issues by stropping around like a teenager (which she technically is during this season… she was 19) and not being mature enough around the adults. JoJo is essentially every young girl that wanted to hang out with her older sister’s friends but was told she wasn’t old enough. Even during the Vegas episode, she clearly just seemed more of a burden to Eva in particular while being unable to drink. With all this in mind, it’s pretty clear why she would be dropped from the main cast in the next season.

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Overall, the casting of women for the show is somewhat disappointing. There’s nothing particularly wrong with these women but there’s not lot of interest for the actual character’s unless you’re REALLY into the Nikki Bella storyline with John Cena for example. If you are, more power to you. These girls don’t really stand out as fun and interesting, giving you hardly any interest in them in the sense that you’re not going to bend over backwards to find out what happens to them next. Cameron is the only character so unique and out-of-this-world that gives you that feeling.

The show’s attempt to make the girls bicker constantly about petty things don’t really strike me as massive selling points for the show, which makes one refuse to rally behind a character like Natalya as she complains about the work of the other women. The Bellas seem the most INTO the show in terms of their “performances” but Nikki’s constant troubles over John Cena and Brie being witness to this isn’t a particular healthy relationship from a narrative storyline. Why should I care about Brie if the show is just to be centred around her sister? Brie’s engagement to Daniel Bryan was suddenly into an arc in the season finale where Nikki wants Cena to marry her.

Then there’s the newbies, who are a little hit and miss in a lot of ways. Eva, I guess, is the closest to Cameron in terms of having a unique character… not a likeable one, but still unique. JoJo, on the other hand, became more of a burden on the show in terms of scrambling to put together storylines for her. This, of course, leads to her removal from the show all together. Nice try JoJo, but it didn’t seem to work.

If you’re watching this show, I guess it’s mostly not for the individual character’s themselves. The writers’ biggest issue is making each of these women stand out in their own right. Each of them have similar storylines with their men, their work in the ring and with each other as spats spill out between the girls. I guess each of them provide at least something to meet all three of those things but it’s gonna take a lot more for me to personal be invested into the storylines of them individually.

Stay tuned to the Armbar Express as a I give you the full review of season one of Total Divas.

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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!

Retro Express – Summerslam 2008

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Previously on the Retro Express, I talked about Summerslam 2007. I questioned whether this PPV was able to live up to the high standards that fans expect from the second biggest show of the year. Now it’s time to do it again. At Summerslam 2008, we got two world title matches as well as two major grudge matches from RAW and SmackDown! Batista faced John Cena for the first time ever while Undertaker and Edge settled their year-long feud in a Hell in a Cell battle. Did this show deliver?

 

 

WWE SummerSlam

Date: August 17th 2008

Brand: RAW, SmackDown! and ECW

City: Indianapolis, Indiana

Attendance: 15,900

 

Jeff Hardy vs MVP

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One of the biggest criticisms of WWE commentary of the last five years is that the announcers are portrayed as less intelligent than the audience they are supposed to explain things to. Jim Ross was not like these modern-day announcers. He did his research and was on the ball, especially during this pay-per-view. Small stats like Jeff Hardy’s Summerslam record up until his match with MVP can make it seem like there’s a lot more on the line, even if there isn’t. There was a lot of little things like JR thanking the UK fans for staying up to watch the event. Being aware of the struggles of international audiences and rewarding them with little facts that would make the commentary seem worthwhile.

MVP kicked it off with a bell-to-belly on Jeff into the turnbuckle. We got pretty big “MVP” chants actually. Jeff hit the neckbreaker to try and turn the match around. There was a good counter when MVP countered a wheel kick with a simple kick to the gut. No flashy counter. He kept it as simple as possible by simply kicking the man in the gut. I don’t know why I’m giving this a lot of credit but even the simplest of moves can add to a match.

MVP went for the boot but Jeff countered it into a sleeper drop. Jeff hit the Whisper In The Wind. Jeff went to the top rope but Shelton Benjamin ran out. Jeff jumped on Shelton, which gave MVP the chance to recover in the ring. Jeff went for the Swanton Bomb but MVP moved out off the way and hit the Drive-By for the win. I thought this was fine for an opener. It’s just funny looking back in hindsight, because Jeff would go on to be a major part of the world title scene on SmackDown! for the next year.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The lovely looking Maria interviewed Santino Marella and Beth Phoenix backstage. They were set to challenge for the Intercontinental and Women’s titles in a tag team match. Early on in the year, Santino and Maria were an on-screen couple. They had broken up since then, with Santino commenting that Maria had let herself go. Maria made fun of Santino’s unibrow, to which Santino claimed that he’d grown it for Beth. Awwww.

 

We then got the first mention of this pay-per-view WWE poll, asking whether Edge and Vickie Guerrero would get a divorce. This was a very hard period for the couple’s marriage. Edge had cheated on Vickie and Vickie’s revenge was to put Edge in Hell in a Cell. Edge went nuts and messed with Vickie on SmackDown! This vote ended up with 78% of the crowd voting that they would.

 

Mickie James (c) and Kofi Kingston (c) vs Beth Phoenix and Santino Marella for the Women’s Championship and Intercontinental Championship

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Let me start off by saying that Mickie James looked absolutely lovely here, as did Beth for that matter. There was a sign in the crowd that said “Santino stole my unibrow,” which I giggled to. Unlike modern-day WWE, the men could actually wrestle the women during inter-gender tag team matches at this point. It wasn’t like nowadays, when a female being tagged in forced the opposing man to tag out.

Kofi got the hot tag and ran wild. Kofi Kingston faked a dive, which saw Santino diving into Beth’s arms. Santino had some great trash talk during this match! Mickie James then ran wild and hit the Mickie-DT on Santino. Beth hit her with the Glam Slam out of nowhere to win the match and win herself the Women’s title and win Santino the Intercontinental title.

This was an OK match but it was really the moment of Beth and Santino both becoming champions that stood out. Beth had effectively fought Santino’s own battles for him and won him the Intercontinental title. The celebrations were great as Beth piggy-backed Santino to the back! Just great post-match celebrations from the heels!

Match Rating: *3/4

 

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We got Shawn Michaels coming out with his wife Rebecca. The storyline going into this segment was that Chris Jericho really messed up Michaels’ eye during their match at The Great American Bash 2008. Shawn came out to address the fans and thanked them for their support. He told the fans that the doctor had recommended that he walked away. He admitted that it was finally time to heed the doctor’s advice and walk away from the WWE. Rebecca’s acting during this was pretty damn great as she was brought to tears in the ring. I actually looked it up and it turns out that Rebecca was actually one of the old WCW Nitro Girls, where she performed as Whisper. With her experience in wrestling, it’s kind of understandable about why Rebecca was so good… other than watching Shawn that is.

A lot of the fans were literally brought to tears. This was how well this was all performed because the fans were legitimately thinking that this was the end for Shawn. There were even “please don’t retire” signs brought to the arena. This was all interrupted by Chris Jericho…

Chris Jericho said that Shawn was leaving because of what Jericho did to him and wanted Shawn to admit it. Jericho refused to leave the ring before he did it. He said that he wanted the last moment of Michaels’ career being to admit that Jericho put him out for good. Michaels said that he would but gave Jericho some advice. Michaels told Jericho to sit his family down and tell them that “daddy would never ever be Shawn Michaels.” Shawn and Rebecca were about to leave when Jericho pulled Michaels’ arm. He went to punch Shawn and inadvertently punched Rebecca.

Michaels was shaken by what just happened. This was one of those moments that showed just how great Shawn was. Shawn was initially filled with rage as the crowd is encouraging him to attack Jericho. After about 30 seconds of pure rage, Michaels couldn’t bring himself to do anything and just went back to consoling his wife. These were all true emotions as a lot of times, when something awful happens to your loved ones, your first instincts is to unleash hell on the culprit. At the same time, you can’t help but do nothing as you are fearing for the safety of your family. This was all incredible stuff.

The fans were all into this, which helped. The funny thing is that it was later revealed that Jericho ACTUALLY punched Rebecca during the segment. He accidentally legitimately punched her and Jericho has talked about how he and Shawn were both mortified after it all happened. They both told a story on Jericho’s podcast about it as they were both backstage with Rebecca. Shawn was walking her back up the entrance ramp and asking if Rebecca was OK, and Rebecca responded by saying that at least her teeth were still in! It gets better as when the three of them were backstage as Rebecca is getting looked at, she turns to Chris and says: “Is that all you got?”

Rebecca being a total trooper about the whole thing made it so much better in hindsight! This segment was so great and it leads to a great match at Unforgiven (which will be the next PPV I review on the Retro Express) and their No Mercy match. These two just knew what to do from that point on. Michaels’ promos were all on point. Jericho’s promos were all on point. Their contract signing on RAW that followed was great. This was all amazing television and thank god that this was eventually elevated to being a title feud, as it was the best thing going in all of WWE at the time.

 

Mark Henry (c) w/Tony Atlas vs Matt Hardy for the ECW Championship

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So right after one of the best PPV talking segments of all time, we got THIS wrestling match – if you even want to call it that. This was technically a WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP match as Mark Henry defended the title against Matt Hardy. What happened was that Matt Hardy hits the Twist of Fate on Mark Henry. As Matt is about to win, Tony Atlas pulls Matt out of the ring and throws him into the steel steps which causes a disqualification. This match lasted 26 seconds and ended with a disqualification.

This sort of stuff wasn’t rare with the ECW title, as Kane actually won the title in 8 seconds from Chavo Guerrero earlier on in that year. However, this benefited absolutely nobody. You hurt Mark Henry, who was apparently already beaten in 26 seconds. You hurt Matt Hardy, who was taken out by a semi-retired former wrestler in Tony Atlas. 26 seconds for supposedly the biggest program for ECW. Unbelievable.

So Jeff Hardy made the save and hit a Swanton Bomb on Tony. The Hardyz then double-teamed Mark Henry and hit him with the double suplex on the outside. This actually got a big reaction.

Match Rating: N/A (Didn’t last long enough)

 

CM Punk (c) vs JBL for the World Heavyweight Championship

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Punk kicked off the match with the control. He unloaded with suicide dives and cross bodies. The commentators mentioned that CM Punk had watched Batman five times. I don’t know if they meant the original Batman film from the 1990s or the Dark Knight film that came out shortly before this, but I approve whatever film he watched.

JBL hit a fallaway slam from the top rope in order to take control of the match. JBL was very wobbly on the ropes which could have ended badly. Punk then made the comeback. Punk hit the running knee and bulldog, which JBL went down too early for. Punk went for the GTS but JBL countered it with a simple but effective clothesline. CM Punk’s springboard attempt was countered into a powerslam. CM Punk kicked JBL in the head, which saw them both crash down to the mat and clashed heads. JBL somehow landed on top of Punk, which led to Punk’s head being busted open.

In the end, CM Punk picked up the victory with the GTS. There was a fair amount of miscommunication during this match, including the clash of the heads from earlier on. These two worked at vastly different paces. They tried hard but it was just not to be.

Match Rating: **1/4

 

The Great Khali was warming up backstage, ahead of his big WWE Championship showdown with Triple H.

 

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The last time I reviewed a World Championship match that involved the Great Khali, I was critical to put it nicely. At Summerslam 2007, Khali and Batista had a REALLY bad match. This match involving Khali and Triple H was much better than that match. I don’t want that to suggest that Batista is a bad worker or anything. In fact, his match with John Cena would very much dispute that. However, it’s at least good to know that he somewhat improved in the year between world title matches at Summerslam.

There was insightful commentary from Jim Ross and Tazz, as JR was talking about the size difference between Triple H and Khali. He said something along the lines of “7’3 and 6’3 – you do the math.” Tazz’s response to JR’s height analysis was “I don’t like math.” Quite the banter from Tazz and Jim Ross…

The story of the match was that Triple H kept trying to do the Pedigree on Khali, but Khali was simply too big. Khali hit the two-handed chokeslam right off the bat. Khali tried a vice grip on Triple H to “you can’t wrestle” chants. Khali did the big chop. Khali elbowed Triple H in the face and Triple H dropped to the floor Ric Flair style. I don’t want to keep comparing this match to the Batista match mentioned earlier, but Triple H’s selling was much better than Batista’s. HHH’s selling actually did make Khali come as effective with his attack. Khali elbowed him and Hunter went down immediately. Whenever Batista sold something, he would stumble and THEN fall down. Interesting to think about. 

We got more “you can’t wrestle” chants, with Khali responding by putting Triple H in a nerve hold. Triple H fought out of it and hit his signature facebuster, which sent Khali into the ropes. Khali was tangled in the ropes but was still able to backdrop Triple H to the floor. Khali went for the Vice Grip. After Hunter fought out of it, Khali just went back to the grip. Triple H eventually successfully hit the pedigree to a big pop and he got the pin to retain the title. 

Obviously, the two world title matches on card were never meant to mean much. When you’ve got Batista vs John Cena for the first time as well as a Hell in a Cell, there wasn’t gonna be much pressure on these two matches to perform. They were two matches that featured a clash of styles, with the big man fighting the little man. The World title match was better than the WWE title match but  HHH/Khali was not terrible or anything. At least you can say that the match had a story to it, with Triple H trying to hit the pedigree on this big man. After fighting and fighting, Triple H eventually hit it and got a big reaction for it. There were “you can’t wrestle” chants to Khali but this match did a fine build-up to the big finisher spot in the end. They put over the Pedigree and the crowd were into the finish so in that sense, a thumbs up.

Match Rating: *3/4

 

John Cena vs Batista

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Anyone that has ever been a WWE fan will know that WWE are prone to hyperbole and for good reason. The WWE, in theory, have to try and convince you that the next big match coming up is an important match. In a lot of cases, to achieve this goal, they have to go completely over-board with putting the two men involved over. Even if you know that it won’t be the greatest match of all time, they will always claim that these matches will be historical matches. They did a tremendous job in trying to convince the fans that this match between John Cena and Batista would be an all-time classic. I would not go as far as to say that it was one of the best matches of all time but, after it was over, it ended up feeling like a very special match.

There was a mixed reaction for John Cena as usual. Cole and Lawler tried very hard to put this match over. The video package tried to promote the idea that these two were going to explode in their match but yet they started the match by doing a lock-up. This rivalry wasn’t that intense but a pet peeve of mine is when two guys, that supposedly hate each other, begin their big match with a regular lock-up.

Batista tried a Batista Bomb but Cena got out of it, which was followed by a big clothesline. Batista then started to work on the leg on Cena, with chop blocks, shinbreakers and Figure Four Leg Locks. It’s very strange for the big man to focus on the leg of the little man. Cena went for the FU but ended up launching Dave over the top rope. Cena did his comeback while selling his leg. Cena tried the FU again but Batista got out of it and hit a big boot. Batista unloaded with a series of shoulder blocks, followed by a clothesline. Batista hit the spinebuster. Cena got out of a Batista Bomb attempt with a simple leg DDT, following it up with an STFU. Jerry Lawler, with a rare glimpse of insight, noticed that he locked on the STFU in the same part of the ring where he made Triple H tap out at WrestleMania 22.

Batista reversed a FU attempt into a rear-naked choke, somehow giving us a foreshadowing of Batista doing MMA just before he returned to WWE in 2014! Batista hit the spear but Cena kicked out. We got an awesome spot where Cena reversed an Oklahoma Slam into a FU for a near fall. They battled on the top rope, getting the boo/yeah treatment. In a memorable moment, Cena went for the leg drop but Batista countered this into a Batista Bomb. This was the move that left Cena with a herniated disc and sidelined him for a while. Cena certainly looked in a lot of pain after the match.

Amazingly, that wasn’t the finish as Cena kicked out. Batista eventually hit one more Batista Bomb and won. A very good match between these two men. On paper, Batista and Cena really shouldn’t have been expected to have a match this good. However, they really did give it their A game. The catch powerbomb spot was pretty dangerous and led to an injury, which would be my biggest criticism. However, Cena soon came back from this and thank god that the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

I don’t think the injury should take anything away from the match though and these two performed really well. A BIG THUMBS UP FROM ME! Second best match on the show by far…

Match Rating: ***1/2

 

Undertaker vs Edge in a Hell in a Cell match

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I mentioned that Cena vs Batista was the second best match on the show – this was undisputed best thing on the show. Undertaker and Edge had the final match in their really good feud from 2007 to 2008. They recapped all of this in the video package beforehand.

Undertaker took control at the start. Edge’s stable La Familia was watching backstage. Undertaker got the steel steps and leaned them on the corner, which set him up to do a snake eyes drop to Edge onto the steel steps. Very innovative stuff here. Edge then dropkicked and speared Undertaker into these steel steps. Edge got out two tables and then hit Undertaker with the steel steps. Edge stacked the tables on top of each other and tried to suplex Undertaker into them. Undertaker tried a chokeslam but Edge saved himself with a jawbreaker. Edge used a chair and got out a third table, setting it up in the ring. The stacked tables were still outside of the ring. Edge grounded Undertaker with two chair shots to the face and one to the back, which allowed him time to go get a big ladder.

The next spot was a callback to a segment on SmackDown! a few weeks before this. In the segment, Mick Foley tried to motivate Edge so he could face Undertaker in the Cell. Edge said “I understand” and then kicked Mick Foley’s arse. He ended the beating by jumping off a ladder with a chair into Foley, who was on a table. In a callback to that moment, Edge did the same spot and yelled “I understand” before crashing onto the Undertaker.

Edge tried a conchairto, but Undertaker stopped him by grabbing his throat. The two battled outside of the ring, where Edge speared Undertaker through the cell wall. That was an awesome spot as Undertaker was bleeding from the arm. They fought outside of the cell.

Undertaker took apart the announce table when Edge intervened, hitting Undertaker with the television monitors. I’ve seen the next spot several times but I always loved this. There were three announce tables for this show, for the three separate RAW, SmackDown! and ECW brands. Edge stood on one announce table, ran across to the second announce table and hit Undertaker with a spear, which sent them crashing into the third table. I thought this was a really well executed spot.

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After some brawling, they went back into the cell which got some boos. I guess a lot of fans were expecting Edge and Undertaker to go to the top off the cell after they got out of it. The funny thing is that Edge actually mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that he wanted to end this match with a Tombstone on the top of the cell! What a scary spot that would have been!

Edge hit Undertaker with the ladder in the ring. Edge then hit Undertaker with a camera, which was a callback to when Edge cost Undertaker the world title during a Hell in a Cell match at Survivor Series 2007. Edge tried a spear but ran into a chokeslam. Edge hit the Edgecution for a near fall.

Undertaker tried a Last Ride into the tables on the outside but Edge got out of it and hit a spear. This got a near fall as well. Edge tried the ten punches spot in the corner, which almost never ends well when you’re facing the Undertaker! Undertaker hit the Last Ride. Undertaker tried to do some serious damage with a tombstone onto the steel steps but Edge countered. Edge tried the Undertaker’s Old School but Undertaker countered this with a chokeslam into the tables on the outside.

Then we got a bit of poetic justice, as Undertaker started using all of Edge’s own moves against him. He hit Edge with an awesome looking spear. Undertaker then hit Edge with the camera, which was revenge from earlier. Undertaker then did a conchairto of his own. Edge’s back was all cut open as Undertaker hit the tombstone and won.

Then Undertaker ended the night, when he chokeslammed Edge through the ring and into HELL! We got a weird graphic from this, as Undertaker was setting up the chokeslam from the top of the ladder which supposedly sent Edge to hell.

An absolutely incredible Hell in a Cell match. I think this will probably go down as one of my favourites. These two left it all out there and there was some great booking for this feud-ending match. I loved the callbacks to old angles featuring these two men. Undertaker got his revenge by giving Edge a bit of his own medicine. A lot of nasty spots were taken as these two ended their feud in a big way. Bravo to both men. I loved this match.

Match Rating: ****1/2

 

Overall, I thought the show was fine. If it were not for the Hell in a Cell match and Batista/Cena, I don’t think this PPV would live long in the memories of a lot of fans. There was nothing really special about the undercard, other than the Shawn Michaels segment and Santino and Beth’s double celebration. Other than that, there was not much to it. However, the final two matches of the show really bumped up the show. At the end of the day, it was a forgettable show up until the final two matches which could go down as two of the most memorable matches in Summerslam history.

How Detrimental To WWE Television Is Stephanie McMahon?

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The billion dollar princess with the trillion dollar body. One of the principle owners of WWE. Whatever title she goes by, Stephanie McMahon will always forever be a person of utmost importance in WWE. She’s a McMahon after all, being the only daughter of the one running the ship in the WWE. Why wouldn’t Stephanie’s “character” be as protected as it is? If you were running the WWE and one of your family members was interested in an on-screen role on the show, wouldn’t you do all you could to protect their image? It makes sense for the powers-that-be to portray Stephanie as a person of power. However, does Stephanie’s role as an authority figure do more harm than good to the product?

One of the biggest factors to take into account is the fact that WWE is currently a PG product… most of the time. There are limitations to what the WWE can pull off in terms of beatings and types of revenge dished out by their talent. It’s not like the top babyfaces of the WWE could just casually attack the women authority figures of WWE in response to a ruling that they didn’t like. Roman Reigns’ spear to Stephanie at WrestleMania 32 was one of the rare exceptions to this, in an instance where Stephanie was inadvertently attacked. People don’t like it when men attack women, especially when the men are supposed to be heroes that send out good messages. However, people also usually don’t like it when an authority figure can abuse their power and bully around the good guys who are supposed to stand up for themselves

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When dealing with a heel Stephanie McMahon, options are limited. If this was a heel Mr McMahon or Shane McMahon, who are capable of taking hits from men with no real issues in terms of their PG product, it’s fairly simple for the knight in shining armour to get their revenge. However, the good guys of WWE are limited when it comes to Stephanie. The best way that the good guys can get revenge is through a verbal “beatdown” towards Stephanie. Then again, this also has its setbacks. First and foremost, a lot of the fans that show up to RAW paid their money to see people settle their differences through combat. If they wanted a debate, either tune into a political show or watch Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday.

Secondly, not everyone on the roster has the ability to throw down on the microphone. Roman Reigns is better at hurling punches than hurling insults. Putting these people up against Stephanie, only to have them get verbally emasculated, leaves a severe mark on the credibility on the babyface hero. Seeing the John Cenas and Roman Reigns’ of this world not being able to do anything cool in response to Stephanie making them feel inferior doesn’t spring you with confidence.

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Not to mention that even the women of WWE are not in a position to touch Stephanie either. These girls can theoretically beat up the boss and it would come off as much better than if a man were to do it. Despite this, these women are prevented from doing so by their lack of relevancy. It’s not like Natalya or Paige are over enough at the moment to be able to do a program with her. You can make arguments for the likes of Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch but the power lies with the McMahons, according to the storyline. Since these McMahons are running the show, they’ll be a big part of it. Heck, Shane and Stephanie were a big part of the Payback main event between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns. The point is that the likes of Stephanie and Shane are already considered as main event talent. With the exception of a few half-hearted “main event” segments on RAW, the women haven’t come even close to producing a true main event female star. The only women, since the Authority angle started, that have been able to physically attack Stephanie are Brie Bella (who was part of a “big” main event program with Stephanie, due to her affiliation with Daniel Bryan), Vickie Guerrero (who was leaving the company anyway) and Ronda Rousey (who is not even employed with the WWE).

There is actually one woman that is being promoted and presented as a main eventer by WWE, in the hopes of finally achieving true relevancy for the women’s division. That woman is Charlotte, which brings me to my next point. Since it’s pretty obvious that a heel Stephanie does more harm than good, the next best solution is to turn her into a babyface. It’s very difficult to say what Stephanie is now. One week, she is humiliating the babyface Teddy Long. On the next week, she’s standing up to the heel Charlotte. The chances are that Stephanie probably will slowly transform into a full-blown babyface and I think that it’s probably going to be Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam. I’ve predicted this before. Now the verbal tirade that Stephanie gave to Charlotte on RAW a few weeeks ago actually comes off better than if she would have done it to Roman Reigns.

Now that Stephanie’s a babyface, her speaking out about it is presented as a positive thing. Charlotte had humiliated Ric Flair and so Stephanie completely tore into Charlotte. I’m sure that there’s a lot of people that’ll argue that the whole “eye for an eye” thing is not a 100% babyface move. However, at least she’s pointing out that what Charlotte said was a disgraceful thing.

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I’m not a fan of the idea of this Charlotte/Stephanie angle in the slightest. I’m not a fan of the idea of Stephanie McMahon possibly winning the WWE Women’s Championship. However, the WWE had already done a great job in killing the momentum of the women’s division anyway. There’s literally nobody that is in a position to challenge Charlotte, other than Stephanie and Sasha Banks (who has only worked house shows and Main Events since April). Therefore, I don’t think this feud is detrimental to product as the division is already in a bad shape. If the women’s division after WrestleMania stayed exactly like it had from the Royal Rumble until WrestleMania 32, I’d argue that it would be detrimental. Since the WWE did dig its own grave with the Charlotte/Natalya program and all the other bad aspects of women’s wrestling in WWE in the last few months, I’m really not as concerned as I should be.

However, at least what Stephanie’s doing is all directed at the heels. If the heel does a bad thing and Stephanie responds, it suddenly has a much less detrimental effect. If the heel then followed that up by attacking Stephanie, then that gives the heel more heat as he or she just attacked somebody that’s not even an active wrestler. A lot of the fans would argue that it would still make the male heels feel emasculated for Stephanie to verbally attack them, but I still think it wouldn’t have been as bad as if it were a babyface being emasculated.

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Personally, I don’t think any of your stars should be emasculated at all as you should be doing your best to present your stars as superstars. They should all be presented as positively and as star-like as possible. However, at least when Stephanie does it to a heel, it’s presented as a good thing and it’s the babyface that’s sending the positive message. Whether the message is women standing up to men or standing up for the defenseless, Stephanie can send that message better as a babyface.

 

Jack Swagger’s Win/Loss Record Against Rusev

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There have been many one-sided rivalries in WWE history. I’ve seen a number of fans complain about certain wrestlers being completed dominated in feuds. 50% of John Cena’s feuds have been met with criticism about how one-sided the booking of those feuds was. However, I feel that there may not be a feud as one-sided as the feud between Jack Swagger and Rusev.

In case you missed it, WWE have decided to put Jack Swagger into the United States title picture along with Rusev and Titus O’Neil. To put this into perspective, somebody has repeatedly complained to me in the last few weeks about the continuation of the Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin feud. That feud has been going for a few months. This program between Rusev and Jack Swagger has been going on… FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS!

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Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter first confronted Rusev and Lana and turned babyface on the June 30th 2014 edition of RAW. I did the research and more than 40 matches (including house shows) have taken place between Rusev and Jack Swagger in the two years since this confrontation.

Not only that but I was driving in my car one day and I was thinking about this Rusev/Jack Swagger feud. Then the question popped into my head… has Jack Swagger ever beaten Rusev?

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It’s usually hyperbole to say that this guy can never beat this guy, but I couldn’t remember a time where Swagger actually got a victory over Rusev. I even thought of DQ finishes and other potential screwjob finishes, but I couldn’t think of one. So I did the research and down below are 42 matches that have seen Rusev going up against Jack Swagger. Included in this list are house show matches, dark matches, TV shows as well as PPVs. With the help of the awesome Internet Wrestling Database, I was able to compile this list. How many times had Jack Swagger defeated Rusev? Well this list, going from earliest match to latest match, will give us the answer…

NOTE: I didn’t include Royal Rumbles and other multi-man matches, as those matches never really saw one of these men stand victorious.

List of Rusev vs. Jack Swagger matches

  1. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 12th 2014 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  2. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 13th 2014 (WWE Live)
  3. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 18th 2014 (WWE Live)
  4. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 19th 2014 (WWE Live)
  5. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via count out on July 20th 2014 (Battleground 2014)
  6. Jack Swagger def. Rusev via DQ on July 22nd 2014 (WWE Main Event)
  7. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 25th 2014 (WWE Live)
  8. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 26th 2014 (WWE Live)
  9. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 27th 2014 (WWE Live)
  10. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 2nd 2014 (WWE Live)
  11. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 3rd 2014 (WWE Live)
  12. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 16th 2014 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  13. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a Flag Match  on August 17th 2014 (Summerslam 2014)
  14. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 23rd 2014 (WWE Live)
  15. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on August 24th 2014 (WWE Live Bakersfield Show)
  16. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via pinfall on August 25th 2014 (Monday Night RAW)
  17. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a Submission match on August 26th 2014 (SmackDown! taping)
  18. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 13th 2014 (WWE Live)
  19. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 14th 2014 (WWE Live)
  20. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 25th 2014 (NXT TV Taping – Dark Match)
  21. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on October 11th 2014 (WWE Live)
  22. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on October 12th 2014 (WWE Live)
  23. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger, Justin Gabriel, Sin Cara, Curtis Axel, Heath Slater, Diego, Fernando, Big Show, Erick Rowan, Adam Rose, The Miz, Damien Mizdow, Goldust, Stardust, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Titus O’Neil, Tyson Kidd, and Cesaro in a battle royal for the United States Championship on November 25th 2014 (SmackDown! taping)
  24. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 6th 2014 (WWE Live)
  25. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 13th 2014 (WWE Live)
  26. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 14th 2014 (TLC 2014)
  27. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on December 20th 2014 (WWE Live)
  28. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submission to retain the United States Championship on January 16th 2015 (WWE Live)
  29. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via submision to retain the United States Championship on February 14th 2015 (WWE in Abu Dhabi – Day Three)
  30. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a non-title match on March 3rd 2015 (SmackDown! taping)
  31. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger and Ryback via submission in a Triple Threat Match to retain the United States Championship on March 14th 2015 (WWE Live – Road To WrestleMania)
  32. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger and Ryback via submission in a Triple Threat Match to retain the United States Championship on March 14th 2015 (WWE Live – Road To WrestleMania)
  33. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission in a non-title match on March 23rd 2015 (Monday Night RAW)
  34. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 25th 2015 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  35. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 26th 2015 (WWE Summer Heatwave tour)
  36. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on July 28th 2015 (SmackDown! taping)
  37. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission on September 15th 2015 (WWE Main Event taping)
  38. Jack Swagger def. Rusev via submission on December 8th 2015 (WWE Tribute To The Troops 2015 Taping)
  39. Rusev and Alberto Del Rio def. Jack Swagger and Ryback via pinfall on December 14th 2015 (Monday Night RAW)
  40. Jack Swagger def. Rusev via submission on February 7th 2016 (WWE Live – Road To WrestleMania)
  41. Rusev (c) def. Jack Swagger via disqualification to retain the United States Championship on May 31st 2016 (SmackDown! taping)
  42. Rusev def. Jack Swagger via count out in a non-title match on June 6th 2016 (Monday Night RAW)

THREE VICTORIES IN TWO YEARS!

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Jack Swagger has defeated Rusev THREE TIMES in two years. He defeated him via disqualification in July 2014 and beat him at Tribute To The Troops last year, making those two matches Jack’s only televised victories against Rusev.

In order to push Rusev as the United States Champion right now, WWE’s grand plan is to put Rusev against Titus O’Neil (who has never won a singles title) and a man that is essentially a loser. The numbers down lie and they spell disaster for Jack so WHY is Jack Swagger a contender for the United States Championship?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Not Banking On Sasha?

 

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“We want Sasha.”

How many times have we heard that chant in WWE since July 2015? Almost every segment  involving a woman. When Charlotte comes out? We want Sasha. When Becky Lynch wrestles? We want Sasha. When there’s a segment involving the Total Divas? We want Sasha. It’s the same process for almost every women’s segment not involving Sasha. What does that tell you? What’s the secret behind this chant? Why are the WWE fans chanting this and not chanting for Charlotte? The answer is quite simple… THEY WANT SASHA!

The WWE is a very weird company in the sense they expect you to get over, only if you have a specific look or a specific set of skills that others lack. Zack Ryder was never meant to get as over as he did, which forced WWE’s hand. After having him win the United States Championship in 2011, they did everything in their power to send his career in a huge downward spiral and they succeeded. With the exception of his big WrestleMania 32 victory, Zack’s never been in the same realm of popularity that he was in 2011. And funnily enough, there was a “we want Ryder” chant which was prominent throughout the shows in the same way that “we want Sasha” is prominent in 2016.

Sasha’s chants are not like the whole Daniel Bryan deal, which completely hijacked shows. However, these chants have been hijacking nearly every segment on RAW involving women. They’ve been pretty powerful chants and even after WrestleMania 32, where they got Sasha Banks in the Women’s Championship match, Sasha is still the woman the fans want to see. I’m pretty sure that if any one of the women are huge draws in terms of merchandise, it’s Sasha. She is a marketing company’s fantasy. She’s got the look, the fashion sense and the personality of an entertainment superstar. In fact, she’s actually related to an entertainment superstar in Snoop Dogg!

Despite all of this, the WWE are still banking on Charlotte to be their top woman in the women’s roster and the big guy calling the shots is now reportedly putting Sasha on the back-burner. According to Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Sasha is getting a reputation from WWE management for being injury-prone. Vince McMahon has reportedly told officials that Sasha only knows one speed in the ring and that is to go all out.

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Now there were reports in the past of Vince comparing Sasha to Daniel Bryan in the injury-prone and work-rate categories, which are actually pretty absurd comparisons to make. Long before his run in WWE, Daniel Bryan tore his body apart while wrestling around the world. Daniel’s even admitted that he and several independent guys like CM Punk had that old-school mentality of leaving it all in the ring no matter what. Whether Sasha has that much of a similar mentality of Bryan and Punk is up for debate, but I don’t see Sasha going all out THAT much. She does perform well but it’s really the big matches were she actually goes all out there. I don’t remember seeing a lot of RAW matches where Sasha went all out. Maybe it’s a different story on the house shows.

Not to mention that her most recent injury was actually just a legitimate freak accident involving a referee at a house show, who accidentally kneed her in the face and gave her a concussion.  It’s not like it’s a recurring injury for Sasha and this is the first time which I’ve seen Sasha out of action with injuries this often. I don’t think that makes her injury-prone. I would hardly call any of the WWE superstars injury-prone, with the exception of a small few. For those that are deemed “injury-prone,” I feel that it’s mostly due to the intense WWE schedule that sees the talent on the road for 300 days a year. Not to mention that outside projects with the WWE Network as well as other endevours will also not doubt be taking their toll. The wear and tear they get from the ring as well as other things will all build up, leading to them striking out eventually.

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Let’s take Nikki Bella for example. I know there’s not a great sense of respect for Nikki from a lot of fans, but I do respect a lot of aspects about her record-breaking Divas title reign. Think about it. She was working for months with an injury, which all lead up to neck surgery once she dropped the belt. During those months, she’d been working out like crazy (as her Instagram will prove) and taking bumps for nearly a year as the heel champion. Imagine how much strain every one of the Rack Attacks that Nikki did as she hoisted woman after woman onto her shoulders, only to drop them down. Not all of these women are easy to move either. Think about tall women like Charlotte or muscular women like Natalya. All of those strains eventually built and built to the point where Nikki’s career is looking in serious doubt.

It’s an essential part of professional wrestling for injuries to occur. After all, you’re putting on shows where the aim of the competitors is to hurt each other as much as they can. That’s the kayfabe goal of these workers and that involves people taking hits and taking punishment. It’s all part of the gig.

I kind of understand WWE’s mentality for not pushing the wrestlers that they think are “injury prone” as guys like Wade Barrett were hardly pushed again when they kept picking up injury after injury. However, this is Sasha Banks. She is still a brand new face in the company, particular as the top female on the roster. Guys like Wade Barrett, Rey Mysterio and Mark Henry have had opportunities in the past, making these decisions make a lot of sense. For Sasha though, it is upsetting to see her black-balled like this.

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Despite this, I believe that there is a lot more to this story than “injury-prone” concerns. I actually think RAW this week actually confirmed my suspicions. Remember on RAW two weeks ago, when they had the segment with Stephanie McMahon slapping Ric Flair? If you don’t, then no worries as I did write a review of the entire episode (that you can see at this link). There was a shot of Charlotte getting angry at Stephanie as she was supposedly about to charge her until Natalya cut her off. This was a tease of a confrontation between Stephanie and Charlotte.

Following this RAW, I mentioned that I believed that we are more likely to get Charlotte vs Stephanie at Summerslam than Charlotte vs Sasha (which was the reported plan for Summerslam for weeks). Then they did a segment on this week’s edition of RAW. In a backstage segment, Stephanie berated Charlotte in a babyface manner in order to add fuel to the fire. If this segment didn’t show that they are looking at other options, think again.

I don’t think that Charlotte vs Stephanie is the right move for Summerslam, but I’m still convinced that WWE would put more effort in promoting  that match as opposed to a potential Charlotte/Sasha match. Stephanie is doing her memoirs and her public perception is a big factor. Stephanie wrestling for the women’s championship one more time is a more appealing option to WWE than for Sasha to get her big title victory. Unfortunately for fans of The Boss, I don’t see a title reign for her in the near future.

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It’s a shame because Charlotte is not the woman that the WWE Universe want to see as the champion right now. The months and months of chants have given the WWE a fresh insight into the mindset of the fans. Sadly, it’s not strong enough to convince Vince to change his mind. My advice for wrestling fans that are hoping for a Sasha title reign to just keep up the “we want Sasha” chants. Just keep it up. At the end of the day, they’ll EVENTUALLY listen if things get crazy. If they did another main event women’s segment and these fans are chanting for Sasha, maybe that could be the deciding factor. The WWE will eventually listen… and you can take that to the bank.