Zahra Schreiber, Swastikas, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

Zahra Schreiber, swastika, InstagramBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So here’s some advice I never thought I’d have to give: If you’re someone in the public eye, it’s best not to put photos of swastikas or Nazi paraphernalia on social media. I’m just saying.

This week, when fans found old images of swastikas and Nazi symbolism on then-NXT talent Zahra Schreiber’s Instagram account, she downplayed it. At one point, she commented: “The swastika means prosperity and luck. It was around way before hitler turned it into an icon. Take it how you want I could careless. This is too funny.” (sic)

The thing is, it’s not funny. Yes, the swastika does in fact represent more than Nazism. But let’s be honest. When you look at a swastika, what’s the first thing you think of? Schreiber should have been mindful of this when she signed with a company as image-conscious as WWE. I understand she didn’t mean for it to go as public as it did, and I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she’s not some kind of anti-semite. I’m certainly not happy to see anyone lose their job. But WWE was right to let her go when this stuff surfaced. At least for the time being.

Seth Rollins, Zahra Schreiber, NXT Takeover: BrooklynNaturally, this is a pretty sad situation for her boyfriend Seth Rollins to be in. If you’ll recall, this past February Schreiber was involved in the infamous nude pic scandal involving Rollins. And now this happens mere days after Rollins appeared next to Schrieber in the audience at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn.

Still, while his personal life may have looked better, Seth Rollins’ professional life is at an all-time high. In just a few weeks he’s set to work both Sting and John Cena on a pay per view.

Speaking of which…

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Seth Rollins to defend United States Championship against John Cena at Night of Champions, in addition to WWE Title Match with Sting. This almost puts Rollins in an underdog babyface position. From a booking standpoint, I understand the idea of wanting to see Rollins get his ass kicked by two babyfaces. But having to wrestle two main event caliber challengers could very well turn out to be a sympathetic predicament for him. Plus, he’s likely to turn in two great performances, which will up the respect factor among older fans.

Seth Rollins, Raw, August 31, 2015Remember Wrestlemania 2000, when Kurt Angle defended both the Intercontinental and European Titles against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho in a two-fall match? Jericho won the first, and Benoit won the second. Thus, Angle walked into the event with two titles, and walked out with none. It seems like a similar match might have been called for here. That way, Rollins could drop the US Title back to Cena, and then pin Cena to retain the WWE Title. That would allow Sting to escape the match without being pinned yet again, allowing him to keep a measure of his mystique.

But no, apparently Sting is WWE’s most decorated jobber.

Sting opens the show with a promo comparing Seth Rollins to Triple H. Damn. When you haven’t seen a Sting on the mic in awhile, you forget just how good he is. And what’s more, this opening monologue segment is usually 20 minutes or more. The Stinger got a compelling message across in less than 10. Imagine that.

Sting, WWE Raw, August 31, 2015All Sting’s talk about how Rollins isn’t as good as Hunter confirms one of two things. They could be planting seeds for a program between Rollins and Triple H, possibly for as far ahead as Wrestlemania. They could also be setting up a swerve finish for Night of Champions, where Hunter comes to the ring as if he’s going to beat up Rollins, only to cost Sting the match. A Rollins/Triple H program seems more likely. Though I’m not sure Wrestlemania is when I’d want to see it. A Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose/Roman Reigns match for the WWE Title seems more appealing to yours truly.

Randy Orton and Sheamus absent from Raw broadcast. While they did appear after the show went off the air, it was actually pretty nice to have a break from Orton and Sheamus this week. Until they find these guys new dance partners, they can stay off TV as far as I’m concerned. That’s how stale their friggin’ program was.

Charlotte wins a Beat the Clock challenge to earn a Divas Title Match at Night of Champions. While Charlotte’s pre-match promo was underwhelming, she was the right person to go over here. And based on the disappointment we saw from Paige and Becky, this sets us up for some matches between these three down the road. It wouldn’t necessarily surprise me to see Paige go heel on Charlotte, which would give Charlotte a nice opportunity to develop as an on-air character.

The Dudley Boyz, Raw, August 31, 2015The Dudley Boyz def. Kofi Kingston & Big E. Yeah, The New Day are practically babyfaces at this point. The Tampa crowd was actually chanting “Save the Tables!” with them. It’s amazing how these guys have gone from being booed as babyfaces, then booed as heels, and then cheered as heels. The crowd was chanting for both teams during this match. Wrestling is so weird.

Kevin Owens def. Cesaro. Happy to see Owens get the win here, as I was happy to see him win at Summerslam. Many of us read the rumors that WWE officials were down on Owens because of his weight. But clearly they’re not afraid to put him in high profile matches, or give him wins on Raw. Owens did some nice heel stuff in this match. He went straight for Cesaro’s ribs when he saw they were hurt, he tried to beg off during the gut wrench suplex from the turnbuckle, he taunted Cesaro when he had the advantage, etc. As Jim Ross often says on The Ross Report, there aren’t many true heels left in wrestling. But Owens is working his way to becoming one of them.

Braun Strowman makes his in-ring debut against Dean Ambrose. So this guy’s name has been changed from Stowman to Strowman. I’ll say this much: It rolls off the tongue, easier. What’s more, he’s legitimately creepy. When you’re in The Wyatt Family, that certainly doesn’t hurt.

The Wyatt Family, Raw, August 31, 2015For his first TV outing, Strowman did fine. He played his big man role well, and Ambrose sold really well for him. I’m not sure where this story goes from here. Do we go to a handicap match at Night of Champions, where Ambrose & Roman Reigns face The Wyatt Family? Do they put Reigns against Strowman? What’s next?

Image 1 from pwpix.net. Image 2 from uproxx.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Jon Stewart Takes a Plunge, A Night of Returns, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

John Cena, Jon Stewart, WWE Summerslam 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I wasn’t disappointed with Summerslam, despite what many deem to be poor finishes to both Rollins vs. Cena, and Brock vs. Undertaker. The broadcast had a big fight feel to it, which is something most WWE pay per views have been lacking over the last several years. Over the last decade, perhaps. So I can’t complain.

We’ll get to some of those controversial finishes in a bit. But we’ve got no shortage of things to talk about here…

After costing John Cena his match at Summerslam, Jon Stewart gets an Attitude Adjustment. As far as publicity grabs go, it’s hard to top this one. You’ve probably got to go all the way back to the Mike Tyson stuff at Wrestlemania XIV to see WWE get celebrity involvement this good. Arguably the most culturally relevant talk show host in the last 20 years, Jon Stewart, gets physical with their biggest marquee talent, John Cena.

WWE Raw, August 24, 2015, Jon Stewart, Jon CenaSome fans balked at Stewart costing Cena the match at Summerslam. I say boo hoo, get over it. It’s pro wrestling. What did you expect?

Nice move by WWE pulling the Ric Flair card with Stewart’s motivation. This is something they can run with for quite awhile, and make that 16th title win actually mean something. And of course, they got Flair to trot out there and endorse Cena, which we knew was coming. In a perfect world, a heel Flair would take on a protege (Dolph Ziggler, perhaps?), and have him feud with Cena. That way, Cena has a road block in his way for the foreseeable future.

Speaking of heel moves, I really wish Flair hasn’t said that “God’s in the house tonight,” line. He used to talk like that in TNA, didn’t he? He was on the show as a babyface. But referring to yourself as God is pretty much the biggest heel move in the book.

The Dudley Boyz return and attack The New Day. Before we get into the Dudleys, it has to be said: That trombone entrance was classic. A comedy bit on Raw that was actually funny. Who’da thunk it? It’s no wonder these guys are hearing some cheers nowadays. They even got a “That was awesome!” chant.

The Dudley Boyz, Raw, August 24, 2015But of course, The Dudley Boyz returning from out of nowhere stole the segment, and perhaps the entire show. It’s tough to believe we haven’t seen these guys on WWE TV in about 10 years. As a longtime fan, it’s really gratifying to see they’re getting one last run on the big stage. I only wished Titus O’Neil would have kept his mouth shut during their big entrance. JBL was actually doing a decent job hyping them up, but Titus kept trying to talk over him.

I can only assume the reason it’s taken so long to get the Dudleys back after Bubba’s appearance in the Royal Rumble match had to do with them getting a deal that was right for them. The Dudleys are a legendary team with some nice Attitude Era name value. So I imagine WWE will get their money’s worth.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bubba Ray and D-Von evolve the act after all these years. Obviously Bubba, the former Bully Ray in TNA, has upped his game quite a bit since WWE fans last saw him. When they put a mic in his hands, things could get really interesting.

WWE Raw, August 24, 2015, StingSting surprises The Authority during Seth Rollins statue unveiling. Better late than never, I suppose. Did Summerslam need Sting? Not really. Would it have been cool to see him involved in the match with the Wyatts, Roman Reigns, and Dean Ambrose? Absolutely. But at least this way, he’ll presumably get to main event a WWE pay per view against Rollins.

So it looks like it’s Sting vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship at Night of Champions. Naturally, Rollins isn’t going to lose the title to Sting. So that means Sting has to lose…again. Not to be presumptuous, but from a win/loss perspective, this guy just can’t catch a break. He makes his big debut against Triple H at Summerslam, and he loses. So now he gets a follow up match against Seth Rollins, and he’s presumably going to lose. At some point, Sting has to beat somebody, doesn’t he?

Hey, what about Bo Dallas? He seems like easy pickings these days…

After controversial Summerslam finish, Brock Lesnar takes Bo Dallas to “Suplex City.” Paul Heyman is probably one of the few performers on the planet who could come out at the top of the show every week and do that 20 minute promo spot without anyone getting tired of it.

WWE Raw, August 24, 2015, Brock Lesnar, Bo DallasDespite what WWE would have you believe, The Undertaker has tapped before. As I recall, there was a Kurt Angle vs. Undertaker match that ended in a simultaneous pinfall/submission finish. Angle had ‘Taker in a triangle choke, but his shoulders were down. As the ref counted three, ‘Taker tapped out.

This obviously isn’t the route many of us thought they’d go. Another Undertaker loss would have naturally led us to ‘Taker getting one last chance at Wrestlemania XXXII. But of course, now it’s the rubber match. Hell, Heyman kinda/sorta laid down the challenge tonight. I’m curious to see who Brock wrestles before we head to Dallas next Spring. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be Bo Dallas. His body bounced on that first suplex…

Paige, Charlotte, and Becky Lynch appear on Miz TV. This segment came off heavily scripted. It seemed like the girls were reciting memorized dialogue. Although Paige’s stuff about this being “the era of the female athlete” was decent. I wish we could have heard from Becky a bit more. She didn’t get to say much, but she came off quirky.

Sadly, I had to mute the TV when the Bellas showed up. As I’ve said before, when the Bellas are on the mic, they get X-Pac heat from me.

PCB, WWE Raw, August 24, 2015Incidentally, Charlotte’s line about The Four Horsemen being “the greatest faction in WWE history” was a stinker. You’d think she, of all people, would know the Horsemen were an NWA/WCW group, as opposed to a WWE one. Is that nitpicking? Yes. Is she at fault? Not necessarily. But that still stuck out like a sore thumb.

Braun Stowman debuts on Raw as a member of The Wyatt Family. Who is Braun Stowman? Full disclosure: I have no idea. But he’s got the right look for The Wyatt Family, that’s for sure. It’s like he has the body of a fully grown man, but the face of a wide-eyed little boy. But what, if anything, does his appearance means for Erick Rowan’s future?

After the loss to Neville & Stephen Amell at Summerslam, Stardust attacks King Barrett before dodging a Red Arrow from Neville. Damn. Barret takes the pin at Summerslam, then gets beat up by his partner the next night. If Bo Dallas isn’t available, Barrett would be another sure fire victory for Sting. Nothing personal, but this guy has turned into one of WWE’s biggest losers.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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WWE Summerslam 2015 Predictions – Part II of a Trilogy

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve got to give WWE credit. These past several weeks, they’ve made Summerslam mean more than it has in years. They’ve got a huge main event, and a pretty big semi main event (if not a fairly underwhelming lower card), coverage from ESPN, and some celebrity involvement that could actually be fun to see.

Jon Stewart hosting Summerslam is a legitimately huge get for WWE. Not just that they got Jon Stewart, but that they got him fresh off his iconic Daily Show run. And the cool thing about Stewart is that he’ll legitimately have fun with this gig.

But let’s dive into the meat of the show…

WWE Summerslam 2015, Dolph Ziggler, RusevDolph Ziggler vs. Rusev

While I’m happy Summer Rae has something to do on TV these days, most of the stuff involving her, Lana, and Rusev, has been pretty cringeworthy in my opinion. What’s more, Mark Henry, once as monstrous a heel as I’ve ever seen, has been reduced to being Rusev’s TV program. I’m sure he’s fine with that, but still…

Heading into fall, I’m ready for Rusev and Lana to be back together. They make a great duo, and while Lana isn’t short on talent, she’s not going to be a Sable-like star for WWE. At least not right now. So I’m thinking Lana turns on Ziggler, giving the match to Rusev. Ziggler and Summer are both kicked to the curb, and our power couple is back together.

Prediction: Rusev

WWE Summerslam 2015, Miz, Ryback, Big ShowWWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Ryback (c) vs. The Big Show vs. The Miz

I hate to say it, but this was a lame duck match from the start. At least it was in terms of the build up. I just can’t say I have any kind of desire to see these three work. No disrespect intended, but I’m pretty sure the fans don’t either.

In any event, this match is obviously designed to give Ryback a big win, and establish him as more of a player. I stand by what I said last week though. If you want to give him a big moment, put him against The Big Show in a retirement match, and have him win. Show doesn’t actually have to retire. But it’ll get Ryback a hell of a pop.

Prediction: Ryback

WWE Summerslam 2015, tag matchFATAL FOURWAY TAG MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores

Yeah, it’s time to put the titles back on The New Day. I’m very happy Titus O’Neil and Darren Young got to win the titles and have that on their resume. But it’s The New Day’s time.

I’m assuming this match is one fall to a finish. So I imagine the finish will be involve some kind of interaction between El Torito and Xavier Woods, leading up to a distraction finish where either Kofi or Big E. get the pin.

Prediction: The New Day

WWE Summerslam 2015 Divas elimination matchTHREE TEAM DIVA ELIMINATION MATCH:
Team Bella vs. Team B.A.D. vs. PCB

This match, and the tag match for that matter, are a little too crowded for me. I understand they wanted to have all the girls on the show. But why not just do a regular triple threat match, and maybe put the Diva’s Title on the line? This just seems like it’ll be a mess.

My hope is that something happens in this match that leads these ladies away from the team storyline, and more toward individual feuds. For instance, what if Becky were to pin Nikki Bella and win the match for her team? Now we’ve got a Diva’s Title match set for Night of Champions. I want to see that title actually mean something for the first time since its introduction. And with any luck, that’ll include a makeover for the belt. I’m going with PCB on this one, in the hopes that we see a continued improvement in the women’s division.

PREDICTION: PCB

WWE Summerslam 2015, Stardust, Stephen AmellStardust & King Barrett vs. Neville & Stephen Amell

In terms of this match, I’m more excited that Stardust is on a pay per view than anything else. Cody Rhodes is painfully underutilized by WWE, and big publicity grab like this is a big opportunity for him to show the world just how good he can be.

There’s really no mystery about who wins here. In WWE, celebs always wind up on top in the end. Unlike most of the other celebs who’ve wound up “wrestling” for the company (Kevin Federline, Seth Green, etc.), Amell is a natural athlete who will likely play his role just fine. I see this ending with Neville hitting the Red Arrow, and Amell covering Stardust for the win.

PREDICTION: Neville & Stephen Amell

Randy Orton vs. SheamusRandy Orton vs. Sheamus

UGH. Please. Make it stop. Make it end.

I’m assuming Randy Orton is going over here, as they’ve given him two big wins in recent weeks. He pinned Cesaro in a triple threat match, and this week he actually pinned Sheamus in a tag team match. I can only assume they’re keeping him strong in the event John Cena can’t wrestle the match, and Seth Rollins has to be put in to make this a three-way for the WWE Title. Classic WWE logic then dictates Sheamus will be one step closer to cashing in, perhaps as soon as this event’s match between Rollins and Cena. For whatever reason, WWE always jobs the Money in the Bank winner out before he cashes in. Why? Who knows. Either way, Orton wins. Now please, make this the blow off match!

Prediction: Randy Orton

WWE Summerslam 2015, Kevin Owens, CesaroCesaro vs. Kevin Owens

This could very well be the biggest weekend of Kevin Owens’ career. Saturday he’s in a ladder match with Finn Balor for the NXT Championship, and the very next night he’s working Cesaro. Say what you want about him seemingly being de-emphasized on TV recently, but the guy is in no shortage of high profile matches lately.

Sadly, I don’t see him beating either Balor or Cesaro. As Owens is essentially a main roster guy at this point, there’s no reason for him to take the NXT Title from a rising star like Finn Balor. As for Cesaro, WWE inexplicably had him pinned by Randy Orton last week. And of course Vince McMahon famously remarked that Cesaro has trouble connecting with the audience. But if I had to take a guess as to who WWE is looking to emphasize more these days, I’d guess Cesaro. And I’d say that’s the right move to make. Hopefully that “Cesaro Section” keeps growing.

PREDICTION: Cesaro

WWE Summerslam 2015, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Luke HarperRoman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper

This match sucks… Alright, maybe that’s not fair. But it could have been so much more.

Sting is just sitting on the sidelines doing nothing. After so many years, they finally got him, just to have him job to Triple H and then go away. This is one of the few times a six-man tag on pay per view would have been an ideal situation. Put Sting with Reigns and Ambrose, and put somebody, ANYBODY, with Wyatt and Harper. Bo Dallas is around. Damien Sandow is around. Even Curtis Axel could have worked. But nope. It’s simply a watered down Shield vs. Wyatt Family match.

Had Sting been with Reigns and Ambrose, I’d be inclined to give them the victory (Though with this creative team, you never know.). But now I’m leaning toward the Wyatts. I’m currently of the mindset that Reigns and Wyatt are going to have the cage at Hell in a Cell in October. So if the Wyatts somehow cheat to win here, this feud can continue. And after seeing Reigns’ match with Luke Harper this week, I’m perfectly fine with that. Those two had a really good match. Hopefully they can keep that momentum going, and get this match to overachieve.

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper

WWE Summerslam 2015, John Cena, Seth RollinsTITLE-FOR-TITLE MATCH FOR WWE HEAVYWEIGHT AND UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena

When this match was made, I assumed it meant the United States Title was going away. Which admittedly would be a weird move, considering what John Cena and his open challenge matches have done for that belt since Wrestlemania. I suppose taking that title away from Cena would be an interesting way to put heat on Rollins. But it would rob WWE of the chance to put an up-and-comer over in a huge way.

So assuming they’re not going to get rid of the US Title, how do you get out of this match with both belts still intact? You could have Rollins be a double champion, I suppose. But that seems like a waste. A disqualification finish would get them out of the match. Of course, there’s always the Sheamus option…

Either way, I don’t see John Cena walking out of this show with this 16th Heavyweight Title. They only started really playing that up this week. The idea of Cena tying Ric Flair’s record needs to hang in the air for awhile. So while I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen with the US Title, the best prediction I can give at this point is Seth Rollins picks up the win.

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

WWE Summerslam 2015, Brock Lesnar, The UndertakerBrock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker

After The Undertaker hit yet another low blow on Brock this week, I’m convinced we’re getting a third another Undertaker/Lesnar match at Wrestlemania XXXII.

The story makes perfect sense. The Undertaker has never beaten Brock Lesnar in a one-on-one match. Brock took ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak from him. Now he wants revenge. The problem is, ‘Taker is convinced that he can’t beat Brock. Thus, the low blows. And things aren’t going to get any better when Brock beats the Dead Man cleanly at Summerslam.

So The Undertaker returns to Wrestlemania, in his home state of Texas no less, to challenge Brock to one last match, perhaps his last match. One last chance to slay the beast. If they tell the story well, it could be a fantastic build up. The only question is, how will ‘Taker’s body hold up against someone as physical as Lesnar?

There’s only one way to find out…

PREDICTION: Brock Lesnar

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Cesaro Gets Snake Bitten, An Arrow in the Heart of WWE, and Other Ponderings From Raw

Monday Night Raw, Randy Orton, Cesaro, August 10, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Randy Orton def. Cesaro and Kevin Owens to earn a shot at the WWE Championship later in the evening. It seemed like this match was designed to let Cesaro shine. And shine he did…until the finish. This match was tricky from that perspective anyway, as somebody had to get pinned, and that can potentially effect their momentum. You’d think the guy to lose the fall would have been the heel, Kevin Owens. But instead they inexplicably had Orton pin Cesaro with an RKO. And it wasn’t one of those “From Out of Nowhere!!!” ones either. Cesaro, who had spent most of the match stealing the damn show, just kind of walked into it. Considering the WWE appears to finally be getting behind Cesaro a little bit, this was a head-scratcher. A really bizarre choice to end an otherwise really good triple threat match.

Sheamus attacks Randy Orton, nearly cashes in Money in the Bank during title match against Seth Rollins. And what did Cesaro take the pin for? An attempt to add some heat to the dead fish program between Orton and Sheamus. What a waste.

Wrestlemania XXX, Undertaker, Brock LesnarVideo package shows Steve Austin, Triple H, Paul Heyman, and others weighing in on Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Again, a smart move to keep ‘Taker and Lesnar off TV until next week’s Raw. That’ll of course be the first time they’ve been in the same building since their brawl the night after Battleground.

The video package was okay. I wish they’d spent more time on guys like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, and guys that were actually part of “The Streak.” Not to mention Stone Cold Steve Austin, the biggest damn star of the last two decades. Why was he just chiming in? No offense, but I really don’t care what a Kofi Kingston, or even a Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns, thinks about ‘Taker and Brock. Give me the heavy hitters, the main eventers, the legends.

The more I think about it, the more I’m bothered by Undertaker’s line about Heyman and Lesnar repeatedly bringing up his defeat at Wrestlemania XXX. That didn’t need to be said. In all honesty, this story pretty much writes itself. Brock Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. And now it’s revenge time.

Incidentally, Triple H had a nice line with: “You can’t outrun the reaper.”

WWE Raw, August 10, 2015, Ryback, Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan returns to Raw on Miz TV, Big Show and the returning Ryback crash the segment. It was awesome to see the fans show Bryan that much love. Whether his active wrestling career is over or not, he’s clearly earned a place in the collective heart of wrestling fans. And of course, WWE was likely counting on that, and hoping some of it would rub off on the returning Ryback.

For my money, WWE really needs to tap into those “Please retire!” chants fans are yelling at The Big Show. Hell, if they want Ryback to get over, put him in a title vs. retirement match with Show at a major pay per view. That’d draw some attention.

Brie Bella uses a Daniel Bryan spot during a six-woman tag team match. I wouldn’t have a problem with Brie using Bryan’s trademark kicks to the chest if she were playing a babyface role. But the Bellas and Alicia Fox are supposed to be heels, aren’t they? Discounting the notion that putting them in a match against another heel team is a strange booking decision. But having a heel using a spot that’s normally reserved for one of the company’s top babyfaces seemingly contradicts basic psychology. If you’re a heel, you want to be booed. So with that in mind, why use that spot at all?

Stephen Amell, Raw, August 10, 2015Arrow star Stephen Amell to team with Neville to face Stardust and King Barrett at Summerslam. This is obviously a textbook WWE publicity stunt. But Stephen Amell is obviously an action star, and he’s clearly in amazing shape. So I’m guessing he’ll show us a cool stunt or two.

A lot of fans have why Cody Rhodes has kept the Stardust gimmick as long as he has. I’m guessing this Stephen Amell angle is one of the reasons. Whether you like this or not, at least it gives Stardust, not to mention Neville and Barrett, something to do at Summerslam. These guys are all at the same place on the card, and they have about the same amount of momentum right now. So what harm can it do?

Prime Time Players to defend against The New Day, The Lucha Dragons, and Los Matadores at Summerslam. What happened to The Ascension? They were in the mix, weren’t they? Did they just get cast aside? Eh…maybe it’s better that way. This match is all about The New Day anyway.

Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, WWE Raw, August 10, 2015Luke Harper def. Dean Ambrose. It really feels like they’re trying to recapture some of that Shield vs. Wyatt Family magic here. But it’s just not the same dynamic. All the players are at different places in their careers.

The announcers missed the boat on the fact that this was one of the biggest wins of Luke Harper’s career. Had he gotten a few of these kinds of victories, he might not have floundered as a singles star.

In a perfect world, this whole Roman Reigns/Bray Wyatt feud would culminate in a Hell in a Cell match in October. What’s more, it would be the only cell match on that show. This is the only rivalry they have right now that would be worthy of the cage by October. So I say let’s go for it.

Image 2 from foxxfeed.com. All remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Talking Dead, and Other Ponderings From WWE Battleground and Raw

The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, WWE Raw, 07/20/2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Battleground and Raw:

The Undertaker costs Brock Lesnar the WWE Championship at Battleground. Wrestlemania XXX rematch to take place at Summerslam.

How ironic. The way to breathe some new life into Raw was to bring in the Dead Man.

I’m not sure how much fan desire there’s been to see The Undertaker face Brock Lesnar again. A potential Undertaker/Sting match is what’s been on a lot of people’s minds. But for my money, an Undertaker/Lesnar rematch was inevitable, so long as ‘Taker is healthy enough to hang with the ultra-physical Lesnar. From a storyline perspective, Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. Something that defined ‘Taker’s legacy more than anything else he’s done. So at some point, we needed a revenge angle, or at least something with ‘Taker and Brock before one of them left.

Having Undertaker cost Lesnar the match with Rollins at Battleground was probably the best non-finish they could have done. Rollins was leaving with the title either way. And Undertaker’s promo on Raw was excellent. Oddly enough, the best part was that little growl he let out at the very start. Bone chilling.

The Undertaker, Raw, 09/20/2015The brawl between Lesnar and ‘Taker was classic WWE. It’s something we’ve seen a million times. But I won’t complain. Hearing Lesnar shout “I’ll kill you!” at ‘Taker a few times was hilarious. And you know what? I believe him…

Going into Summerslam, my question is: What’s the finish? Who wins? It doesn’t make much sense to have Brock, the biggest babyface in the company, lose to ‘Taker. So I’d have to assume that someone’s going to cost ‘Taker the match to set up a Wrestlemania bout. So we may know more about ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania XXXII match sooner than we thought.

In any event, the presence of a healthy Undertaker brings a much needed epic feel to both Raw and Summerslam. But now the question is, how do they keep some of that momentum going as we head into fall?

Charlotte def. Brie Bella, Paige & Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks & Naomi. I haven’t had a chance to talk about the “Divas Transformation” yet. So let’s get into it…

Charlotte, Brie Bella, Raw, 09/20/2015Tonight was the first time I had any interest in not one, but two women’s wrestling matches on Raw in quite some time. That’s not because women’s wrestling isn’t interesting or fun. It’s simply that I, like many others, have simply been waiting for good women’s wrestling in WWE. Not to mention some new faces. For months it’s been The Bella Twins, over and over again.

The additions of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch to the main roster have the potential to be a huge breath of fresh air. It’s obviously something NXT fans have been clamoring for over the last several months. It adds a great deal of intrigue to a division that has been void of it for the longest time.

Between her victory in the triple threat match at Battleground, and her solid match with Brie Bella this week, the world has definitely gotten to see what Charlotte is made of. That’s a great thing, as she’s potentially the diamond in the rough here. I’m not sure what WWE is aiming for with these teams of three. But either way, we’re introducing new faces, and attempting to make new stars. It’s hard to find much fault in that, at least at this juncture.

WWE Raw, 09/20/2015, Seth Rollins, John CenaJohn Cena confronts Seth Rollins on Raw. So this is what they’re doing with Rollins at Summerslam, huh? A title unification match with Cena. Eh, that’s fair enough, I guess. Having two midcard titles isn’t the end of the world, but I’ll admit it is a little redundant. It’s a bit of a shame, though. After so many years, the United States Title finally means something. A World Title vs. US Title match actually has a big match feel to it. And now the latter is going away…

I suppose the upside here is that now WWE will have a chance to finally add up the importance of the Intercontinental Title. Though to do that, I suspect they’ll have to get it away from Ryback and The Big Show.

Cesaro positioned as babyface in Raw main event, teams with John Cena and Randy Orton. Gee, we’re only a year and a half late on this one. Cesaro doesn’t fit the traditional WWE superstar mold, in that he isn’t an amazing talker. But what he lacks in vocal skills, he makes up for in wrestling skills. To use a very broad analogy, he’s in the same category as guys like Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, and Daniel Bryan.

WWE Raw, 07/20/2015If they’re looking for a pair of guys to reinvigorate the Intercontinental Title this fall, they need look no further than Cesaro and Kevin Owens. They can do what Daniel Bryan was supposed to do after Wrestlemania, and make that belt the “worker’s title” again.

Bray Wyatt reunites with Luke Harper to defeat Roman Reigns at Battleground. Not a huge surprise, here. After all, Harper and Erick Rowan had already reunited before the latter got injured. Why they even broke The Wyatt Family up to begin with is still a mystery to me. What did these men do as individuals that they couldn’t have done as a group?

The buzz is that at Summerslam it’ll be Wyatt, Harper, and someone else against Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Sting. That’s a hell of a six-man tag, and a chance at some redemption for Sting. Yet another unsolved mystery is why he lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania. What good did that do for either man?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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The Undertaker Rises? Plus, WWE Battleground 2015 Predictions

The UndertakerBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The question of whether Battleground is worth watching largely boils down to this: How much credence do you give to a rumor?

This week the rumor mill is aflame with word that The Undertaker, (Yes, The Undertaker!), will be showing up at Battleground to start an angle for Summerslam. Adding fuel to the fire are the number of mentions ‘Taker has gotten on WWE TV lately, including this past week on Raw when Paul Heyman taunted Kane for being “The Undertaker’s baby brother.”

A potential Undertaker appearance obviously heats Battleground up tremendously. And let’s be honest: Battleground is, and always has been, a fairly useless filler pay per view. This year’s show has a bit more going for it, with the much-anticipated match between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, and the rubber match between John Cena and Kevin Owens. But the undercard was so cold that icicles were forming around my TV screen. These past few months, WWE as a whole has been almost unbearably stagnant and boring.

Wrestlemania XXX, The UndertakerAn Undertaker appearance has the potential to give the show, and WWE as a whole, a much-needed shake up. But if I’m still on the fence about watching Battleground, I’m not letting a rumor push me one way or the other. You set yourself up for tremendous letdown that way. TELL me ‘Taker’s going to be there, and you’ve sold me. Hell, he’s even got a built-in opponent waiting for him…

But more on that later. First, let’s sift through the mediocrity…

WWE Battleground 2015, King Barrett, R-TruthPRE-SHOW MATCH:
King Barrett vs. R-Truth

I talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s worth noting again: Does Barrett have to wear a crown and robe to the ring? Yes, it’s been done in the past. And yes, we all know he’s English. But he just looks so…stupid! Where did they buy that stuff? Target? I can only assume Barrett is winning this one. But does it really matter at this point? Despite their many talents, both of these men seem to be permanently relegated to jobbing or bad comedy skits.

PREDICTION: King Barrett

WWE Battleground 2015, Prime Time Players, The New DayWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day

The Prime Time Players are great babyface champions, and I’m a big fan of theirs. But The New Day had a good thing going as heel tag team champions. When they dropped the belts, they lost a lot of momentum. So it seems like the right thing to do here is put the straps back on Kofi, Big E., and Xavier. If they’re looking for something to do with the tag belts at Summerslam, I wouldn’t be opposed to a 2-out-of-3 falls match, similar to what they did with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. In the end, The New Day having the titles makes for more compelling television.

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Battleground 2015, Randy Orton, SheamusRandy Orton vs. Sheamus

*yawn*

Look, I’m sorry! But these guys just don’t do it for me. From a character perspective, they just don’t have a lot of chemistry. They’re not exactly magic in the ring, either. That’s not a slam on either of them. But at this point, when they’re together it’s like Nyquil. I’m never one to count out a pleasant surprise, but…well…let’s just get this one overwith. I’m going with Orton here, as traditionally the guy with the Money in the Bank briefcase tends to lose a lot before cashing in. Plus, this is kind of a filler match anyway, right? So in the end, does it matter who wins or loses?

PREDICTION: Randy Orton

WWE Battleground 2015, Roman Reigns, Bray WyattRoman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

These two have a nice hero/villain chemistry, so I enjoy seeing them work together. I just wish their program was a little more focused. At first it looked like it was going to be about Bray getting in Reigns’ head by talking about his family. Then they moved away from that, and it became about Wyatt simply wanting to keep Reigns off the top of the mountain. These past few weeks have been more about general mind games. For the sake of both Reigns and Wyatt, I wish this program had more meat to it. I can only assume they’re going to take this to Summerslam. So we’ll go with Wyatt as the winner here, for the sake of giving Reigns the revenge motive next month.

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt

WWE Battleground 2015, John Cena, Kevin OwensWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens

I imagine this must be frustrating for fans who live to loathe John Cena. WWE intentionally pushed him to the middle of the card to make room in the main event picture for guys like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. But this feud with Kevin Owens has pushed him right back into the upper card.

At the end of the day, this whole John Cena/US Title scenario has always been about elevating the championship, and the individual who beats Cena for it. So as far as I’m concerned, there’s no way this program doesn’t end with Owens getting the title. The question is, do they pull the trigger now or at Summerslam? These two have been working together several months, but I can’t say I’m tired of them yet. Plus, there is a way to add a fresh new element to this rivalry: Cesaro. Cena and Cesaro have have two really good matches on Raw recently, so he’d be a natural addition to the proceedings. Given the quality of matches these two have had recently, you’ve got to think a triple threat match be a heavy candidate to steal the show.

As for Battleground…I say give it to Cena via a Cesaro interference that costs Owens the match. That way they can start paving the road to a three-way at Summerslam. Another loss won’t hurt Owens. Especially if he’s due to come out on top in the end.

PREDICTION: John Cena

WWE Battleground 2015, Seth Rollins, Brock LesnarWWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar

This was easily the match I’d have picked to headline Summerslam. The fact that they bumped it up to Battleground might very well be an indicator The Undertaker is returning. There hasn’t necessarily been much fan interest in a Wrestlemania XXX rematch with Brock. And as the biggest babyface in the company, that match might put Brock in an awkward position. Still, I’d pay to see it. It’d also be easy to put ‘Taker with Rollins, as he’s the biggest heel in the company.

But with or without The Undertaker, I see Rollins going over here. If they’re going to switch the title, it’s going to be at Summerslam. This match is either part of a build up to some sort of gimmick match main event next month, or it’s a blow off to put either Lesnar or Rollins with ‘Taker. Either way, there’s little benefit in putting the title on Lesnar at Battleground.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Cena and Cesaro Go Again, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

John Cena, Cesaro, Raw, 07/06/2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

John Cena def. Cesaro in latest open challenge. What more can we say about John Cena and Cesaro at this point? They’ve now given us two awesome matches on back-to-back episodes of Raw, and this week they main evented the show. It’s just a shame that as far as Cesaro is concerned, it may all be for naught.

There aren’t many men on the main-event roster capable of delivering consistently great matches the way Cesaro does. But ultimately, that’s really not what WWE is looking for as far as their top-tier talent is concerned. WWE wants to create characters that can have box office, merchandising and licensing appeal. And no matter how many great matches Cesaro has with John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, or whoever they put him in the ring with, he doesn’t fit their mold for what a top talent should be. Does that mean he can’t be a top talent? Of course not. In the eyes of many, including mine, he’s earned his right to at least have a shot at it. But WWE clearly doesn’t see that in him right now. It also doesn’t help that WWE wants their main event stars to go out there every week and deliver extensive monologues. Clearly, that’s not Cesaro’s strong point. Cesaro’s passion, his uniqueness, is on display in the ring. It’s just a shame that’s not really where WWE always looks when choosing who gets those main event slots.

Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, WWE Beast in the East, July 4, 2015Kevin Owens loses NXT Title to Finn Balor in Japan, attacks Cena after Raw main event. Not at all a surprise to see Owens lose the title to Finn Balor. That has seemingly been in the works for awhile now. The question is, do they pull the trigger at Battleground, and put the United States Title on him? I’d say eventually the answer will be yes. The question is, do you hold off on doing it until Summerslam? If I’ve got the book, they’d hold off another month, and try to put Cena and Owens in some kind of gimmick match to blow this off. Whether they can find a creative way to extend the program another month is a different story entirely.

Brock Lesnar intimidates Seth Rollins two weeks before Battleground, destroying J&J Security’s new Cadillac with an axe. Seeing Brock pull out that axe was chilling. For a moment, I honestly believed he was going to chase Rollins out of the ring with a friggin’ axe. But of course, the axe was meant for the car. Fair enough, I suppose. On one hand, it’s cool to see Lesnar wielding a weapon like that. On the other hand, Brock Lesnar is someone who destroys people with fists and suplexes. It’s more fun to see him to that kind of stuff, especially now that he’s a good guy.

Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, Raw, 07/06/2015I’m still getting used to Paul Heyman cutting babyface promos. Granted, he hasn’t changed much about his delivery. He’s simply not going out of his way to insult people. But the fact is, the character is a fan favorite now. I can only assume this is temporary, and that Heyman will turn on Brock at some point. Heyman is in his element when he’s a heel. He’s always been that way. So I’m looking forward to the day he gets to show his true colors again.

An apparently healed Rusev brutalizes Dolph Ziggler. So now Rusev is back, right? Does this mean we can put him back with Lana and finally move forward? Maybe that’s why I’m so short tempered with this angle. We can see the destination a mile away. I know people really like Lana, but she’s out of her element without Rusev. She’s not a wrestler, and I don’t anticipate she’ll be a wrestler any time soon. So I don’t see how she can be a franchise player for them.

Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWE 2K16Stone Cold Steve Austin announced for the cover of WWE 2K16. They’re on a roll with these video game commercials. Last year they had Sting, now this year they’ve got Steve Austin digging up the old “Smoking Skull Belt.” Awesome stuff. It’s pretty tough to go wrong with Austin. I imagine that’s something they’re keeping in mind for Wrestlemania.

King Barrett def. R-Truth. Can we have Barrett not wear the damn crown and cape anymore? I understand that he’s a heel, but that look isn’t helping him. Can’t we do something a little more subtle? Have him put a crown on his tights or something. He doesn’t literally have to go out there and dress like a king every week, does he?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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