John Cena and Cesaro Steal the Show, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Jamie Noble, Seth Rollins, Raw, June 29, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Raw has been extremely frustrating in recent weeks. More frustrating than I can ever remember it being in the nearly 20 years I’ve been watching. It’s becoming tough to get through, even the help of a DVR. Even Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman haven’t been able to up my enthusiasm.

It’s not one specific thing that irks me right now. I’m sure if you talk to a lot of fans, they’d tell you a lot of the same things…

– The show is too damn long. Everything is so stretched and prolonged for the sake of time that it actually becomes boring.

– We don’t need a 20-minute monologue at the start of every show to get us invested. We’re already invested. We’re watching the show! And the casual fans that are tuning in at the top of the show are likely so bored by the long-winded promos and bad acting that they’re changing the channel anyway.

Mr. McMahon, Raw, Attitude Era– The Authority storyline has gone on too long. The whole “evil authority figure” story has been old hat since Vince McMahon himself perfected it in the late ’90s. Before the Attitude Era, we didn’t need an evil boss to drive the show forward. We just let the stories unfold. Why can”t we do that now?

– I hate to be this way, because I have no desire to see anyone out of a job. But this show desperately needs new faces. Big Show, Kane, Randy Orton, The Bella Twins, etc. These guys are all treading water. I imagine part of the reason NXT is so hot right now is because there are so many talents down there that fans haven’t seen before. Meanwhile, on the flagship show they’re still seeing certain talents that have been around for nearly two decades! We desperately need to mix things up.

Like the last several episodes, this week’s Raw was largely forgettable, and tough to get through. There were, however, a few bright spots. I’ll happily talk about them here.

Cesaro, John Cena, Raw, 06292015John Cena and Cesaro steal the show in US Title open challenge match. Cena and Cesaro have always had great chemistry. They’ve had some awesome matches, and while this wasn’t their best outing, it was definitely a breath of fresh air. I was pleasantly surprised to see Cena diversify his arsenal here. Mind you, that springboard stunner still looks like crap. But at least he’s trying. And in this match he definitely succeeded.

It’s tough to believe that in 2015, we’re saying a John Cena program is the creative highlight of a Raw. But these US Title open challenges, along with the story he’s telling with Kevin Owens have made him one of Raw’s MVPs in recent weeks.

As for Cesaro, this poor guy just can’t catch a break. Whether it’s the Wrestlemania battle royal last year, or being a tag team champion this year, the guy is becoming the poster boy for start-and-stop pushes. But if tonight proved anything, it’s that Cesaro deserves to play a prominent role on WWE television.

Bray Wyatt, Raw, 06/29/2015Bray Wyatt continues to target Roman Reigns, saying he’s the yin to Reigns’ yang. It seems like they’re trying to create a Batman/Joker dynamic here. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Reigns and Wyatt certainly fit those molds.

In his promo this week, Wyatt kept emphasizing: “Anyone but you, Roman.” That’s interesting, as that’s essentially the attitude the fans had toward Reigns at the Royal Rumble. I’m curious to see if Wyatt acknowledges that, and if so, how Reigns responds. It doesn’t look like they’re going the “family man” route anymore. That’s fine, so long as they know where they are going with this angle…

Sheamus def. Neville. I was as disappointed with Sheamus winning the Money in the Bank briefcase as a lot of people were. But he does have pretty good matches. I don’t have high hopes as far as how things will be if/when Sheamus cashes in and wins. But at least it’ll be something different.

Raw, 06/29/2015, Sheamus, NevilleAs for Neville, he’s usually fun to watch. I’m not really a fan of when he does those back flips in the ring for no real reason. But he’s starting to carve out a little niche for himself on the roster.

And that’s it. From a three hour show, I was able to list just three things I found appealing. Keep in mind, I’m usually a pretty optimistic wrestling fan. But right now, the show is just not good. Here’s hoping the build for Summerslam reinvigorates things.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Dusty Rhodes, Brock Lesnar, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Dusty RhodesBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Obviously, Dusty Rhodes is on everybody’s mind this week, and rightfully so. In an industry where words like “legend” and “icon” are thrown around far too loosely, Dusty was truly both. His mic work was some of the best ever, and his matches with the likes of Ric Flair are forever etched into the annals of wrestling history.

Thanks for the memories, Dream. What a life, what a man.

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

WWE Battleground 2015, Seth Rollins, Brock LesnarBrock Lesnar returns, will face Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship at Battleground. Battleground, huh? They’re making this match for Battleground? That’s an odd move, in my book. The inevitable match between Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar seemed tailor-made for Summerslam. I can only assume they’re getting the initial encounter out of the way at Battleground so they can make the Summerslam rematch bigger. Cage match, maybe? In a perfect world, it’d be Hell in a Cell, but they can’t necessarily do that because of the Hell in a Cell pay per view in October.

Either way, it’s great to see Lesnar back, even if he didn’t do anything but stand there. I’m pleased they didn’t have Paul Heyman say anything this week. This way we can build the anticipation for whatever he’s going to say next week. But even if the build up is lackluster, I imagine the match will be spectacular, even if it does involve some sort of BS finish to get us to Summerslam.

WWE Raw, June 15, 2015, Kevin OwensKevin Owens beats Dolph Ziggler in an open challenge, later powerbombs Machine Gun Kelly off the stage. I was worried about Owens coming off like a babyface earlier in the show when he threw out that open challenge. But he pulled a great heel move by slipping in that it wasn’t for the NXT Championship. But then he leaned babyface again when he attacked Machine Gun Kelly. Yes, I know that’s technically a heel move. But let’s be honest: Nobody likes musical performances on Raw. It never works. So Owens doing that stunt with MGK did more to raise his popularity than hurt it.

So here’s what I’m thinking: Owens loses the NXT Championship to Finn Balor at the big Japan show in July. Then he goes on to win the United States Title from John Cena at Battleground, and essentially take the torch. It seems like the most logical thing to do from here. Then again, WWE hasn’t always been big on logic…

WWE Raw, June 14, 2015, Bray WyattBray Wyatt costs Roman Reigns the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, cuts a promo with a photo of his daughter on Raw. I was wondering why they showed that awful Fatherhood.gov commercial with Roman Reigns, the Samoan Bad Ass, singing “I’m a Little Tea Pot.”

But in light of what we saw with Bray, it makes a little more sense. If they are indeed doing an angle with Reigns’ daughter, it could go a long way in terms of allowing the fans to build a more personal connection with him. On the other hand, it could turn into a lot of hokey, stupid crap. Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio Jr. had some awesome matches in the mid 2000s. But that whole storyline about Eddie trying to get custory of Rey’s son was awful. Lots of bad acting, lots of contrived storytelling. It was just bad. So just let’s hope this ends up helping Reigns instead of hurting him.

Randy Orton mixes it up with Sheamus and Kane. Yeah, I switched to the NHL play offs during the Orton/Kane match. How many times have we seen these guys wrestle over the years? No thanks.

WWE Raw, June 15, 2015, SheamusI found myself phasing out when Orton attacked Sheamus too. I just feel like I’ve seen all this stuff. Coming out of Money in the Bank, I actually would have preferred they put Sheamus with Roman Reigns, and Randy Orton with Bray Wyatt. Those are two programs I could have sunk my teeth into. At least at first glance.

On the subject of Kane, I’m still surprised they haven’t put the mask back on him and turned him babyface for a match against Rollins.. It seemed like that was the direction they were going in.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Too. Much. Talking. Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

WWE Raw, June 8, 2015, John Cena, Kevin OwensBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

After the first 30 minutes, this show fell apart. It was just awful. The disadvantages of the three-hour format have never been more obvious than they were this week. WAY too much talking done by guys who shouldn’t be forced to talk so much to begin with. And this was the go-home show for a pay per view…

But let’s start on a high note…

Kevin Owens def. Neville in an NXT Championship open challenge. After defeating Zack Ryder in a similar match on Smackdown, Owens issued another open challenge this week to start the show. Not surprisingly, this was the best match of the night. This Kevin Owens/John Cena program is the best thing happening in the company right now, mostly because of the desperately-needed freshness that Owens has injected into the show. I’ll never discount Cena for the role he’s played in things. But let’s be honest: This week he went out there and said what he always says. Owens is a compelling new character, who comes off very genuine and believable. What’s more, he’s a great wrestler. For the time being, his segments are must-watch.

WWE Raw, June 8, 2015, Joey Mercury, Seth RollinsJ&J Security def. Seth Rollins in the handicap match main event. The sad thing is that after such a bad show, even Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins looked tarnished. So does this mean they’re breaking Seth Rollins away from Mercury and Noble? Probably not. Otherwise, what do you do with these two guys that just beat your champion? Take them off TV? It seems more likely Rollins will settle things by beating them up down the line.

Byron Saxton takes Booker T’s place on commentary this week. With Booker allegedly off doing Tough Enough stuff, Byron Saxton was back on Raw this week. This poor guy just can’t catch a break. After they did the angle with Lesnar beating up the commentators in April, they shoved this poor guy out there on his own to get eaten alive. This week, they put him with Michael Cole and JBL and was obviously the third wheel. If Booker was legitimately gone somewhere, why not just let JBL and Cole do the show themselves? It’s not like they’re inexperienced in that regard.

Roman Reigns, Kane, R-Truth and others involved in a 10-minute talking segment at the top of hour two. WWE usually does segments like this whenever there’s a big, multi-man match on pay per view. This was brutal, and so obviously scripted to fill time. Kane in particular just seemed to be deliberately drawing things out. They desperately need to have somebody else writing his stuff.

WWE Raw, June 8, 2015, Dolph Ziggler, Roman ReignsOkay, so R-Truth was brought out to do a comedy thing, right? He thinks he’s in the match, but he’s not. But he was brought out before The New Day, Sheamus, and Randy Orton. So the pattern hadn’t been established yet. Had he come out, say, after Sheamus, that actually might have been funny. But what ended up happening was just odd. It actually seemed like Truth was being added to the match, as another warm body to do floppy ladder moves. But nope, yet another waste of time.

Ryback gives “Shell Shocked” to The Big Show during “Miz TV” segment. This segment actually started out okay. Miz and Ryback seemed to be having fun out there. Then, of course, the talking went on too long and things became boring. I was really surprised to see Ryback hit Shell Shocked on The Big Show on free TV. One would think that’d be the big drawing element of a pay per view match between the two. Can this notoriously strong dude manhandle the world’s largest athlete? In theory, we were waiting for Money in the Bank to find out. Not anymore, I suppose. They gave away the finish on Raw.

Randy Orton vs. Sheamus ends in a brawl. Whenever these two wrestle, I always think of the night after Wrestlemania XXVIII, when the crowd essentially hijacked their match with random chants. That’s the most memorable match they’ve ever had. Seriously.

WWE Raw, June 8, 2015, Luke Harper, Erick RowanLuke Harper and Erick Rowan hit a 3D to finish a match. Either WWE is setting up with The Dudley Boyz by having Harper and Rowan use their old finish, or more likely, they’re hoping we all forget the Dudleys ever used that move. Bubba Ray/Bully Ray actually called WWE out on Twitter for it. Remember, he was in the Royal Rumble this year. So a match like this isn’t out of the question. But it’s sadly unlikely.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Ring of Honor and Destination America, Plus, Ponderings From WWE Raw

Ring of Honor, Destination AmericaBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Destination America announces TV deal with Ring of Honor. Show will air prior to TNA’s Impact Wrestling. To say the very least, the news of Ring of Honor airing on Destination America was a shock.

I equate this to TNT announcing that an ECW show would air prior to WCW Monday Nitro. (Obviously that’s a stretch, but you get the idea.) It puts TNA in an extremely awkward position, and doesn’t do anything to dispell the rumors that Impact is being pulled in September. Apparently the TNA talent roster weren’t told anything prior to the announcement, which makes me wonder how much even Dixie Carter and the TNA management team knew.

For wrestling fans who get Destination America, this is great news. But for fans like me who don’t get the network, it’s not so great. I don’t necessarily see this as a huge step up for ROH, considering so many areas still can’t see them. When this announcement was made, I actually tweeted: “So Ring of Honor is going to be on too? Great. This should get them…nothing. Enjoy obscurity, guys!”

TNA Impact Wrestling, Destination AmericaIn retrospect, that’s obviously pretty harsh. Any TV exposure for a wrestling company is good news for wrestling fans. Congrats to Ring of Honor. Take this opportunity and make the most of it!

Thoughts From Raw:

After Elimination Chamber victory, Kevin Owens comes face-to-face with John Cena. So much for Owens’ tenure on Raw being strictly a WWE Network tie-in for Elimination Chamber. If WWE is smart (which depends on what week it is), they’ll keep this guy around. He and Cena have good chemistry, and I’d be happy to see these two take this all the way to Battleground in July.

I think the reason Owens is such a hot commodity right now is because there’s nobody else like him on either the main roster or NXT. He’s got a different look, a different promo style, and a fairly unique presentation. And of course, his wrestling is more than up to snuff. In that sense, he makes for very compelling television.

Raw, June 1, 2015, Kevin OwensAs for this segment, this whole “my son likes John Cena” thing is good enough to take them to Money in the Bank, which, God help us, is less than two weeks away. As Owens got the clean win this week, I expect Cena to get a clean win at Money in the Bank, followed by a rubber match at Battleground.

Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Kofi Kingston, and Neville announced for Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Kofi Kingston being in this match is actually pretty funny. From an in-story perspective, there’s no reason for him to be there. It’s almost an exposure of WWE’s booking team. They need guys in there who can do high-flying moves with ladders, and Kofi’s a proven commodity in that respect. But when you see that graphic of all six guys in the match, and Kofi’s standing there with a tag title belt, there’s an awkwardness there.

Supposedly more guys are going to be added to this match. I imagine we won’t get more than 8. It might be interesting to see Bray Wyatt involved in a match like this, especially as he’s supposedly in line for a babyface turn. But as for who will win…

WWE Money in the Bank 2015, early ladder match graphicRoman Reigns pulls a 3-peat on Raw, defending his Money in the Bank Ladder Match spot. As Reigns wasn’t in a match at Elimination Chamber, it was a good move to emphasize him on Raw. The San Antonio crowd seemed to be into him, which is nice to see. Hopefully the respect factor is starting to set in, and fans are realizing they changed the course of this guy’s career at Wrestlemania. That’s not to say he deserved the win. But he took the loss in stride.

Hopefully Reigns pulling a 3-peat against King Barrett, Mark Henry, and Bray Wyatt adds to that respect element. They weren’t all fantastic matches, but they guy still put in a long night, to say the least.

Dean Ambrose steals WWE Title from Seth Rollins after being screwed at Money in the Bank. Didn’t they just do this story with Ambrose and the Intercontinental Title during Wrestlemania season? It was an eye-roller for me. Still, it’s nice to see Ambrose walking around with the title. Makes you think a championship win isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

Raw, June 1, 2015, Dean Ambrose, Naturally, they’re wrestling again at Money in the Bank, and naturally, it’s a ladder match. Since the ladder match at Wrestlemania, I’m officially of the mindset that WWE does too many ladder matches. They’ve lost their value. They have two pay per views (Money in the Bank and TLC) centered around the damn match. If they absolutely have to have those, then they need to remove all other ladder matches from the calendar year. What’s the point of even having a ladder match if it’s not special anymore?

Ryback wins Intercontinental Title in Elimination Chamber match. This was a big surprise. I’m not sure what this means as far as WWE wanting to make the Intercontinental Title the “worker’s title” again. Considering Ryback is apparently going to defend against The Big Show soon, things aren’t looking good in that respect. But Ryback’s passion is evident when he’s on television every week. So seeing him win the belt has some sentimental value at the very least.

The New Day retain at Elimination Chamber, will likely defend against The Prime Time Players at Money in the Bank. First and foremost, how hot did Titus O’Neil look when he got the hot tag on Raw? That’s a fire I’ve never seen out of him before. Awesome work.

WWE Raw, June 1, 2015, The New DayAs unlikely as it seemed when this act started, The New Day is are now one of the hottest things on Raw, for my money. They’re doing some cool mic work. As much as I’d like to see Titus O’Neil and Darren Young get the win and the titles, I don’t think The New Day is done with them yet. Give ’em until Summerslam at the earliest.

Images 1 and 2 courtesy of destinationamerica.com. All remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 – Ponderings and Predictions

Elimination ChamberBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hey, didn’t I just do this two weeks ago?

Indeed, 2015 will see a first for WWE: Three pay per views over the course of six weeks. Anybody else remember the days when it was several months between pay per views? Yes, I understand this is strictly being aired on the WWE Network. But it’s still a pay per view quality show that’s being built toward. I still don’t understand why it was scheduled so abruptly. Unless it’s a matter of being at a building that can house the enormous Elimination Chamber. That was why the February pay per view was changed from Elimination Chamber to Fastlane.

Abruptness notwithstanding, they’ve actually put together a pretty good show here. The Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships are being spotlighted inside the chamber, and we’ve got a really intriguing match between the face of the company and one of NXT’s hottest stars. Let’s dive in…

Neville, Bo Dallas, WWE Elimination Chamber 2015Neville vs. Bo Dallas

I’m guessing this is meant to be an enhancement match for Neville. But it’s actually a great opportunity for Bo Dallas. If he can “maximize his minutes,” as they say, he might be able to up his stock on the roster. I’m not as down on the “Bo-lieve” character as a lot of fans are. Bo plays an annoying, high-pitched character who you want to see get his ass kicked by a babyface. There’s value there that goes beyond the comedic throw-away segment. But in any event, Neville picks up the win here.

PREDICTION: Neville

20150517_elimination_EP_LIGHT_HP_matches_divasWWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Paige vs. Naomi

It’s great to see Paige back, of course. That means there’s a chance we might see a little bit of decent wrestling here. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if Naomi walked away from this match with the title. My distate for all things Bella notwithstanding, the women’s division needs to be freshened up. If they’re not going to pull Charlotte, or Sasha Banks, or any of the NXT girls on to the main roster, then let’s at least change the dynamics up. Naomi cost Paige a shot at the title a few months ago. Having Naomi win the belt, perhaps with Tamina Snuka’s help, creates an organic “you don’t deserve it” angle with Paige. And then Nikki Bella can go…. I’unno, do a reality show somewhere? Do promotional stuff? I really don’t care. Just get her out of the ring and off the mic.

PREDICTION: Naomi

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015, John Cena, Kevin OwensJohn Cena vs. Kevin Owens

You can make an argument that this is the most highly anticipated match on the card. Mainstream WWE fans have officially been introduced to Kevin Owens, and he’s made a hell of an impression. Eyes are also being directed to NXT and the WWE Network, which is a good thing. This feels like a one-off to me, as Owens has a lot of other irons in the fire. I don’t see him going over here, but I don’t see him losing cleanly either. This feels like a chance to show WWE fans what Owens can do in the ring, and then introducing them to another NXT star who ultimately costs him the match. I imagine that’ll either be Finn Balor (the number one contender for Owens’ title) or Samoa Joe. WWE has booked one of those great scenarios where, while this match will have a winner, at the end of the day there really won’t be a loser.

PREDICTION: John Cena

Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose, Elimination Chamber 2015WWE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Dean Ambrose

As much as I love that Ambrose is getting to wrestle Rollins for the title at a big show, I actually wish they’d have saved this match for Money in the Bank. With two Elimination Chamber matches, plus Cena and Owens, plus the fact that this is strictly a WWE Network special, did we really need a WWE Title defense on this show? Why not save it, and give these guys more time to build to a championship match? They still could’ve done something with Rollins and Ambrose. But the title didn’t necessarily have to be on the line. Hell, if you’re just looking for something to do with them, how about Rollins and Kane against Ambrose and Roman Reigns?

Incidentally, are we just dropping the Rollins/Kane feud? They just dropped it after Payback? This network-exclusive show would have been a perfect chance to blow it off.

Rollins goes over here. No big debate over that one. He’s going to make it until Summerslam at least. We’ve got to get him in there with Brock Lesnar.

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015, Tag Title MatchELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The Prime Time Players vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. The Ascension vs. Los Matadores

Question: Why aren’t Luke Harper and Erick Rowan in this match? We’ve got four babyface teams, and two heel teams. Why not even things up? I’ll tell you this much, I wasn’t exactly clamoring to see Los Matadores inside the chamber.

This match presents a really unique opportunity, but it also seems like there’s a big risk involved. There’ll be a total of 12 bodies in the structure when this match begins, and a total of 14 at play if you count El Torito, and whatever third member of The New Day is hanging around (probably Xavier Woods). So there’s the potential to do a lot of stuff, but it could also become a big mess if things get too crowded. Are people actually going to be tagging in and out during this match? Or is it just going to be a free-for-all?

I imagine we’ll probably see a lot of aerial stuff happening here. There’ll almost certainly be some sort of Kofi Kingston Spider-Man spot, with him clinging to the chamber or something. I imagine they’ll use Kalisto and El Torito for similar things, and that Cesaro will having a strongman spot.

Looking at all the teams in this match, it seems like WWE has a lot more creative options with The New Day, especially given the new life their heel turn has breathed into them. They can work with Kidd & Cesaro and have a great match any night of the week. I’d be interested to see if they have a similar chemistry with The Lucha Dragons. And they might do some nice mic work with the Prime Time Players. So I say let’s give it to The New Day and see where it takes us.

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Elimination Chamber 2015, Intercontinental TItleELIMINATION CHAMBER MATCH FOR VACANT WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. King Barrett vs. Ryback vs. ?

Apparently Rusev is out with some sort of ankle injury. This likely nixes their plans do some sort of angle with he, Ziggler, and Lana. Rusev was actually my pick to win here, so the injury screwed up my plans too…

The next in line for a victory is likely Sheamus. They just announced he’s been cast as Rocksteady in the sequel to that abysmal Ninja Turtles movie (I’m a TMNT fan, but that thing sucked.). So there’s some nice publicity value there. Sheamus is also perfectly capable of putting on great matches, which is hopefully what they’re trying to make synonymous with the Intercontinental Title again.

There’s also the chance they could pull a surprise out of their hats and make Rusev’s replacement the champion. But who? The Solomonster pitched NXT star Tyler Breeze, which is interesting. Online reports have pegged Bray Wyatt as a potential replacement, which would be a cool tie-in to Ryback being in the match. The Miz is doing a MizTV segment with Daniel Bryan on the pre-show, so theoretically they could have him suit up for it.

But without knowing who that sixth man is, I’m going with the safe pick. There are certainly worse guys to put the title on than Sheamus. So I’m content with him having it.

PREDICTION: Sheamus

Image 1 from onlineworldofwrestling.com. All other images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Samoa Joe’s Debut, TNA’s Troubles, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

A few things to get to before we talk about Raw

Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, NXT TakeoverSamoa Joe appears at NXT Takeover. Samoa Joe in a WWE ring. I honestly never thought I’d see the day. Not because Joe doesn’t have the talent, but because he clearly doesn’t fit the traditional WWE musclehead mold. The fact that he was signed speaks volumes about the way WWE recruits talent now as opposed to, say, five years ago. He even got to keep his name! He wasn’t renamed or repackaged, which probably has something to do with the nature of the deal he signed. Joe still has some indy dates booked, so perhaps he’ll be repackaged if/when he becomes exclusive to WWE.

If Joe does indeed have a run with NXT, I don’t doubt he’ll be successful. Judging by how quickly Kevin Owens became NXT Champion, it’s not at all unreasonable to imagine similar success for Joe. My question is, how successful would Joe be on the main roster, with Vince McMahon micromanaging his every move? His matches would be good, of course. But would Vince brush him off because of his body type? Actually, I imagine the same question could be posed about Kevin Owens.

Either way, Joe’s arrival in NXT was a huge moment. So many fans, myself included, thought it simply wasn’t in the cards. Congratulations, Joe. You deserve it.

TNA, Destination AmericaDave Meltzer reports that Destination America is planning to cancel all TNA programming affective this September. Lots of controversy over this one, and rightfully so. Supposedly, TNA hasn’t delivered ratings high enough to justify the production costs, and most of Destination America’s advertisers want nothing to do with TNA.

Neither TNA President Dixie Carter, nor Destination America have made any sort of statements regarding potential cancellations, most likely because things haven’t been finalized. Thus, theoretically, TNA could stay on the network if plans change.

This story is just sad. After all that drama last year about TNA finding a new network, this happens. One might even argue that being on Destination America was a detriment to TNA from the start. So many fans simply don’t have access to it. I’m one of those fans, and as such I haven’t seen a new episode of Impact since they left Spike. And just when they’d finally cut ties with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, and the show was becoming watchable again.

Eric Bischoff, Hulk Hogan, TNAIncidentally, Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey, and Garrett Bischoff suing TNA for unpaid wages certainly isn’t going to help matters.

I want to have hope for TNA. I really do. But things just keep piling on…

Hulk Hogan says he may play a villain in The Expendables 4. I don’t buy it. Not as the main villain, anyway. His contributions to wrestling notwithstanding, Hogan is a notorious liar and BS’er. I’ll believe it when I hear it from someone other than him.

Thoughts From Raw:

Zack Ryder accepts John Cena’s open challenge in his hometown of Long Island. This almost felt like justice for Zack Ryder. This poor guy got buried by the system simply because he got himself over. But at least he got to have a career moment tonight with John Cena. Not that it will matter in the long run, of course. Much like Stardust did, he’ll go right back to jobbing next week. But kudos to Ryder, Cena, and WWE for giving Long Island something special.

As for the cast of  Entourage…meh, whatever. I find it funny that they made a tron video that specifically said “The Cast of Entourage.” I’m just happy we didn’t have to see Jeremy Piven on Raw again. I admired his enthusiasm when he was a guest host. But I still cringe when I think of that “Summerfest” flub.

Dean Ambrose, Raw, May 26, 2015The Authority, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns open and close the show. I fast-forwarded through the first 13 minutes of Raw, simply because I’ve seen this promo time after time, week after week. I pressed play when Dean Ambrose came out, but fast-forwarded again when he didn’t say anything interesting. Ditto for the lead-in to the tag match. I’m begging them to change up the format here.

Ambrose being arrested, taken to jail, and then returning in a police van (I’m not calling it a paddy wagon…) was pretty Stone Cold-esque. But oddly enough, having Ambrose actually wear the police hat and jacket put a pretty cool spin on it. It made it amusing in a way that’s very synonymous with the “Lunatic Fringe” character.

Roman Reigns was a decent supporting player here, but it’s curious that he isn’t involved in Elimination Chamber at all. Isn’t he supposed to be one of their big stars on the rise? I don’t get it.

Lana, Rusev, Raw, May 25, 2015Rusev calls Lana to the ring for an attempt at reconciliation. Jeez, this was a long segment. Rusev’s acting skills have improved immensely since we first saw him, and I suppose he did alright here. But it was ill advised to have him carry an entire talking segment based on things like love, emotional manipulation, etc. I’m wondering if they’ll wind up putting them back together at Elimination Chamber, pulling the ol’ swerve on Dolph Ziggler. Lana and Rusev’s involvement in Ziggler’s match with Sheamus did nothing to dissuade that.

Neville def. Stardust, will face Bo Dallas at Elimination Chamber. This match with Neville is a huge opportunity for Dallas to prove he can be a relevant commodity on the WWE roster. Because let’s be honest: Right now he’s not.

On the subject of relevance, I’m happy he got to interact with Stephen Amell at ringside, as that at least gave him something to do. But he’s worth so much more. The crowds still chant “Cody!” at him, so clearly he’s still over. This seems like another case of WWE not knowing what to do with a character, so a talent goes to waste.

The New Day, Raw, May 25, 2015The New Day compete in a 10-on-3 handicap match. So the idea of a match like this is to make the audience happy that The New Day are getting beat up. I understand that. I just don’t think it’s a good idea. As a fan, it makes me feel sympathy for the guys I’m supposed to dislike. Yes, they walked away with the win. But at least they walked away! They were essentially booked in a mugging! I expect they’ll walk out of Elimination Chamber with the belts as well.

Tamina Snuka def. Paige. It would have been nice to have heard the commentary for this match. But as always, the Bellas at the announce table means instant mute button.

Images 1, 4, 5, and 6 from WWE.com. Image 2 from impactwrestling.com. Image 3 from prowrestling24.com.

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Daniel Bryan Repeats History, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Daniel Bryan, WWE Raw, May 11, 2015Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Daniel Bryan relinquishes the Intercontinental Championship roughly a year after he relinquished the WWE Heavyweight Championship. This sucked. It really sucked. It sucked beyond anything that has sucked in recent memory…

It sucks because Bryan had to surrender a championship for the second year in a row. Moreso, it sucks he’s injured again. But what sucks more than anything is that surrendering these two championships tarnishes a portion of his legacy. Perhaps even the fans’ faith in him, and most definitely the company’s willingness to put their faith in him for larger things.

Is Bryan finished in the ring? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, one thing nobody can ever take away from him is the fact that he became a star in WWE. He main evented Wrestlemania XXX, and solidified his status as a bonafide superstar. That will be Daniel Bryan’s enduring legacy as far as WWE is concerned.

John Cena vs. Neville, Raw, April 11, 2015John Cena def. Neville. It was fun to see Neville accept Cena’s challenge one week after Sami Zayn did. Like him or not, John Cena’s been involved in the best match on Raw two weeks in a row. Granted, that might have something to do with the quality of his opponents…

Wrestling pundits seem to be concerned about the direction of Rusev after Payback. I can’t say I blame them. There’s obviously a lot of interest in a babyface turn for Lana. But where does that leave Rusev? High and dry, most likely. And once you turn Lana, what do you do with her? To the best of my knowledge, she’s not training to become a wrestler. So once she’s a fan-favorite, does she find a babyface to manage? Does she sell t-shirts on TV the way Sable used to do? It just seems like a hill that doesn’t need to be climbed. Especially when she’s so good at being a villain.

WWE Announces Elimination Chamber pay per view for May 31, exclusively on the network. This seems extremely abrupt. Why not bring the chamber back at, say…Battleground? It’s still the most bland pay per view WWE puts on all year. Why not spice it up with a chamber match?

Still, apparently the tag team titles will be defended inside the chamber for the first time. Considering how the tag team division looks right now, that might be fun.

Dean Ambrose, Raw 05/11/2015Dean Ambrose def. J & J Security in an handicap match. This felt like a waste of a good hometown pop, especially given the match Ambrose had with Seth Rollins last week. Why not have Rollins and Ambrose main event this week’s show, and have Orton in the main event with Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury? Seems like we’d have gotten just as good an opener, and an even better main event.

Bray Wyatt cuts a promo on Ryback. The best part of this whole segment? Bray says something to the effect of: “Ryback must be so inspiring to you all!” And about 90% of the crowd goes: “Ehhhh, not really.” It’s curious that there’s no match between these two at Payback. Did they opt to save it as a special attraction for this sudden Elimination Chamber event? If so, that seems like an odd choice. It’s not like we’ve all been clamoring for Bray vs. Ryback for months.

King Barrett def. Dolph Ziggler after a distraction from Sheamus. WWE is in the market for some new upper mid-card heels right now. Barrett and Sheamus are seemingly in the front of the line for those spots. I can only assume WWE is moving forward with a Seth Rollins/Kane program in the near future. That means Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Dean Ambrose, and John Cena are all going to need new dance partners in the near future. These two are in a great position to step up and prove themselves.

Raw, May 11, 2015Damien Sandow debuts “Macho Mandow” character. Hey, remember when Sandow cut that babyface promo a few weeks ago? He was gimmick-free, and cut a promo from the heart, seemingly as himself. It seemed like that was the direction they were going to go with him…

Never mind! It’s back to comedy and parody for him, apparently. It makes sense on paper. Sandow got over more than he ever has doing this Mizdow thing. So now they’ve got him in a similar role, apparently to form a parody Mega Powers team alongside Curtis Axel. (It should be noted The Solomonster talked about this premise a few weeks ago. He’s got a great podcast.)

There’s definitely a degree of sadness to this. Sandow has the talent to be taken seriously as a star. But it just doesn’t seem like WWE sees that in him. As a fan, it continues to frustrate me.

Erick Rowan and Luke Harper reunite as a tag team. This left a sour taste in my mouth. Bad memories of The Wyatt Family breaking up. And all these months later, where has it gotten them? Clearly nowhere, as they’ve simply ended up getting back together.

Images from WWE.com.

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