A WWE Hell in a Cell 2015 Preview – Slap a Band-Aid on It

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This year’s Hell in a Cell has more intrigue than it deserves, considering how stale and cold the product has been lately. WWE is supposedly planning to keep ratings up by bringing more of the part-timers back, including The Rock. That’s a fine band-aid, I suppose. But it’s not going to fix the real problem: This company needs new stars, better booking, and in a perfect world, a two-hour Raw.

But hey, one problem at a time…

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, Kick off showPRE-SHOW MATCH:
Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, & Neville vs. Sheamus, Wade Barrett, & Rusev

I hate this match. I hate it so much.

It’s nothing personal against the guys in the ring. It’s just that I’m so damn tired of six-man tags. This week on Raw they did three of them. Even they put Rollins with Ambrose and Reigns to face the Wyatts, I was just so sick of six-man tags that whatever novelty it might have had was totally washed out. As for who wins this match, given WWE’s policy of “even steven booking,” and that the bad guys won on Raw, I’m giving it to the good guys here.

The really sad thing here is that Dolph Ziggler being in this match likely means he won’t be answering Cena’s open challenge again.

PREDICTION: Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, & Neville

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, Charlotte, Nikki BellaWWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte (c) vs. Nikki Bella

Weren’t they supposedly planning to make this a triple-threat match with Paige? That match would likely have had more intrigue than this one, given that we’ve seen it twice already.

Still, while I don’t often use the word “respect” in the same sentence as Nikki Bella’s name, I’ll do it here. I respect what Nikki has done with Charlotte, and the match they had on Raw for the title. So I’m willing to sit through another match between the two. But after this, they really need to put Charlotte with somebody else. Paige is basically just standing around acting weird. I don’t see why she shouldn’t be next in line.


WWE Hell in a CEll 2015, The New DAy, The Dudley BoyzWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The New Day (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz

The right thing to do here, for my money, is to keep the titles on The New Day. Put the Dudleys with another up-and-coming team (Harper & Rowan?), and let The New Day move on. Who do you put them with at this point? That’s a tough question. Either way, Kofi, Xavier, and Big E. will likely make it entertaining. And that’s 90 percent of the battle, right there.


WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, Kevin Owens, RybackWWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Ryback

Firstly, what the hell was Ryback wearing on Raw this week? He was clearly trying to pander to Komen crowd. But there are better ways to do it than dressing like a newborn baby girl with a beard.

Having seen Kevin Owens as champion, I have very little desire to see the belt back on Ryback. Owens may not have the build that Ryback has, but he clearly makes up for it in charisma and wrestling ability. Even the stuff he did with the Lucha Dragons was fun to watch. There’s a whole line of babyfaces you can put Owens with, including Sami Zayn when he heals up. So I say we keep the title right where it is.


Seth Rollins (c) vs. Kane
If Rollins wins, Corporate Kane loses his job as director of operations.

The build-up to this match has been brutal. They overcomplicated things so damn much with the Corporate Kane/Demon Kane multiple personality angle. All this needed to be was a chase story. Kane has been dying to get his hands on Rollins all year, and now he’s finally going to get that chance. Until then, you have Rollins constantly looking over his shoulder as Kane (mask and all) plays bizarre mind games. There’s a lot of fire imagery they could have played around with, and of course Kane is a good promo. But instead we got a lot of bad and contrived storytelling, the worst of which saw Kane pin Rollins in a lumberjack match.

I don’t see this being one of Rollins’ better pay per view title defenses. But I’d love to be proven wrong. The big upside here is once he wins, the whole “director of operations” thing is over, and we hopefully won’t have to see Corporate Kane again.

What a damn waste…

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

John Cena vs. ?

Given what we know about Cena taking time off until December, it’s not hard to pick a winner here. The only question is, who does Cena pass the torch to?

Ideally, you’d want it to be a heel, right? Looking over the roster, there’s nobody that jumps out as an obvious choice. Theoretically, they could have Ziggler pull double duty and then cheat to win. Cena has been out there with The New Day a lot lately, so it could be one of them. Stardust is a sentimental pick for yours truly. He could win the title and then have The Ascension be his run-in buddies. If they really wanted to piss the smarks off, they could put the title on The Big Show. *shudders*

Either way, this John Cena open challenge for the United States Title is a bigger selling point for the pay per view than what Rollins and Kane are doing with the World Heavyweight Title. That’s a little bit sad.


WWE Hell in a Cell, Roman Reigns, Bray WyattHELL IN A CELL MATCH:
Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

One more note from this past week’s Raw: Um…hi Erick Rowan?

This is the match that should really be main eventing the show. It’s tough for me to complain about having The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar on a show, but you’ve got to believe this was the original main event for Hell in a Cell. But then thanks to low ratings, ‘Taker and Brock got called in early. In a way, that’s a shame. They’d been trying to build this Reigns/Wyatt feud for months now, with varying degrees of success. But despite it’s drawbacks, the time and effort they’d put into it merited a big blow-off like this.

One of the things that has kept this program from being as compelling as we’ve all wanted it to be is the scripted promos WWE has been feeding to Roman Reigns. Ironically, by trying to push him as their next top guy, WWE has prevented him from blossoming into the star he could be. When Reigns talks, you can tell he’s got some of the same swagger that The Rock has. That’s not to say Reigns will ever blow anybody away on the mic the way Rocky did. But somewhere under all that scripted verbage is a real human being that I’d like to get to know. That’s one of the reasons why Reigns, at some point, needs to turn heel. As a bad guy, Reigns can finally be free of some of those shackles, and learn to be himself out there.

As for this match, I’d love to see Bray go over. But if WWE wants to give Reigns another try at Wrestlemania this year, a win inside the cell is the way to go. Here’s hoping a feud with Chris Jericho is in the works to close out his year.


WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, The Undertaker, Brock LesnarHELL IN A CELL MATCH:
Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker

This match feels surprisingly under-hyped, considering how epic it’s supposed to be. They tried to kick things into high gear this past week, but it felt pretty last minute. They spent too much time focusing on that damn match at MSG with The Big Show. It’s a Hell in a Cell match with the goddamn Undertaker. You’d think they’d give it a little more than two or three weeks of build-up.

Considering that originally this match (presumably without the cell) was supposed to take place at Wrestlemania in Dallas, you’ve got to think ‘Taker was originally set to go over. Obviously plans have changed. But if the rumors about ‘Taker not wanting to retire at Wrestlemania are true, he must be going over here. Otherwise, he just looks like an old man who’s overstayed his welcome.

Granted, they’re not going to beat Brock clean. Oddly enough, I imagine the ending to this year’s Hell in a Cell being much like what happened last year. We’re going to have some kind of screwy finish, in which Brock’s next rival gets in the cage and screws him over somehow. Who’s it going to be? I have no clue. But please, can we keep Brock away from The Big Show?

PREDICTION: The Undertaker

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Cena and Ziggler Steal the Show, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

On the whole, Raw was more watchable this week. In the absence of The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman, we got a video package hyping the main event of Hell in a Cell. I’m not sure if that’s what you want, considering this match is headlining the damn pay per view. There’s not nearly as much buzz about this match as there was about their Summerslam encounter. And this is supposed to be the blow-off!

But while there were plenty of negatives, the show did have one obvious bright spot.

WWE Raw, October 12, 2015, John Cena, Dolph ZigglerPonderings From Raw:

John Cena faces Dolph Ziggler in his weekly US Open Challenge. So, um…I guess that was a legit marriage proposal that happened during the opening moments of this match. I’ll always give Cena credit for rolling with whatever the crowd gives him.

With Cena about to take some time off, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he picked Ziggler to drop the title to. Dolph has been as big a victim as any of the WWE “start and stop push.” But he keeps putting on matches like the one we saw with Cena tonight, and he refuses to be forgotten about. Does it even need to be said that this was the match of the night?

Was really interested to see Ziggler pay homage to Shawn Michaels with the stomps in the corner leading up to the superkick. If you look at how Ziggler has updated his gear as of late, with the long tights and the white boots combined with his overall look, he almost looks like he’s trying to morph himself into the HBK of the early ’90s.

WWE Raw, Roman Reigns, October 12, 2015Roman Reigns cuts a promo before beating Braun Strowman via count-out. Roman Reigns really needs to be a heel. Much like his “cousin” The Rock, he’s got a swagger and a personality that’s dying to get out. That “Y’all can’t hear me or somethin’?” line he gave in response to the “What?” chants was good. But he was playing nice because he’s supposed to be a babyface. This guy has had enough experience on the mic now that if you just let him say what’s on his mind, the fans would probably get behind him eventually.

But instead, he’s being forced into a babyface role. I cringed when I saw him next to John Cena in that Susan G. Komen segment last week. If you’re trying to build a guy up as your next top star, the one person you don’t want to put him next to is Cena.

I can appreciate what they’re doing with Braun Strowman. He’s cast very well as a seemingly invincible giant. If only The Big Show had been lucky enough to be cast in such a role. But as was the case with Rusev, and a lot of other once invincible talents, it becomes a question of what you do with the guy once they’ve been humanized. Once the giant has been slayed, what do you do with him?

WWE Raw, October 12, 2015, Rusev, Summer RaeWWE plays off online revelation that Rusev and Lana are engaged, has Summer Rae turn on Rusev after a match. So Summer Rae does the logical thing and ends it with Rusev. But this match left Rusev looking like a heel. But the crowd might still be inclined to cheer for Lana. Where does that leave us…?

Sheamus & Wade Barrett def. Neville & Cesaro. Wasn’t tough to predict a winning team for this one. Cesaro, a recent victim of yet another start and stop push, teaming with Neville, the guy who lost in 30 seconds last week.

How is Neville’s huge loss last week not the entire basis of what they’re doing with he, Sheamus, and Barrett? These guys made Neville lose a match in less than a minute. They humiliated him. I’m not that big a Neville fan, but I”d sure as hell root for him to get his win back if they played it up.

In the main event, Kane def. Seth Rollins in a Lumberjack Match. This program with Rollins and Kane has fallen flat. It’s such a shame, as with the right story it could have been compelling. But this whole multiple personality thing with Kane killed it. Now they’ve reached the point where they have to actually give us the match to try and entice us to buy another match between the two at Hell in a Cell. As always, that strategy is lame.

WWE Raw, October 12, 2015, The New DayThe New Day def. Randy Orton & Dean Ambrose. This match had the right finish. The New Day should stay dominant. They got to brag about beating up Cena, Ziggler, and the Dudleys, and now they’ve beaten Orton and Ambrose.

If Big E., Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods are going to remain heels, then what I’d like to see from them is more of a mean streak. It seems like they’re slowly moving in that direction, but I want more. I love that they’re entertaining, but we also want these guys to be villains. Especially if they’re going to be placed in such important spots on the show.

Nikki Bella def. Naomi, as the crowd (and Brie Bella) chanted for Sasha Banks. I get what they were going for with this one. The Bellas drive a wedge between Team BAD by playing up Sasha’s much-heralded match with Bayley at the latest NXT Takeover. In that respect, it worked.

But after such an awesome match between two women in the development system, what does it say that this match, on what’s supposed to be the promotion’s flagship show, was such a snoozefest? You’ve got arguably the best female wrestler in the world standing on the outside, and then you give us that match. Ugh.

Brie Bella pins Charlotte in a tag team match. I don’t even want to acknowledge this. Again, the only word I’m left with is: “Ugh.”

James Storm, NXTPonderings From Around the Wrestling World:

James Storm appears at NXT taping. Storm is a nice get for WWE, and ultimately a win-win for everybody. He’s been around for over 15 years now. So like Samoa Joe or Rhyno, Storm can work with newer wrestlers and help them up their game. Plus, no whether they ever call him up or not, time under the WWE umbrella makes will make Storm a more attractive prospect for other promotions when he leaves.

Matt Hardy vacates TNA Heavyweight Championship. Promotion holding tournament to crown undisputed champion. This was an eye-roller, following the feel-good moment TNA ended Bound For Glory with. My understanding is TNA is going to compile part of this tournament together with matches taped in July. That’s fine, I suppose. At this point it’s all about getting fresh content up, as they have no new Impact episodes taped. As for who wins, my money’s on Ethan Carter III. In many ways, he’s the crown jewel of TNA. What exactly that spot is worth these days is up for debate.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Roman Reigns/Bray Wyatt, Stephanie’s Balls, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Sadly, this week’s Raw wasn’t much of an improvement from what we’ve been seeing lately. Indeed, the autumn slump is here in full force. But before we get into Raw, let’s talk a little TNA. Thankfully, the news is good.

Matt Hardy, TNA Bound For Glory 2015Matt Hardy wins TNA World Championship at Bound For Glory 2015. Sadly, TNA has been a punchline as of late. But a lot of the stuff I’ve been hearing about Bound For Glory is positive. Congratulations are indeed in order for Matt Hardy. People can debate about how much the TNA World Heavyweight Title means in 2015, but obviously it was a great moment for him. It’s big win, whether you’re a TNA fan or not.

Ethan Carter III also deserves a lot of credit for the work he’s done in TNA. Despite the grim circumstances TNA faces with it’s impending cancellation, the real-life Mike Hutter has been tremendous as their lead heel. He took the potential WWE ultimately squandered, and got over in another promotion. You’ve got to respect that.

Now let’s just hope TNA is still around for a Bound For Glory 2016.

Roman Reigns, Raw, September 5, 2015Ponderings From Raw:

Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Randy Orton def. The Wyatt Family. Reigns and Bray Wyatt look ahead to Hell in a Cell. I can honestly say I’ve grown bored with six-man tags on Raw. For the second week in a row we saw not one, but two six-person tags on this show. One with the guys, and one with the girls. They all feel tired and repetitive now, regardless of who’s in there. If they really want to change up TV, how about a “no six-man tags” rule for the next month or so?

As for Reigns and Wyatt’s upcoming Hell in a Cell Match, I can only say: Right place, right time, wrong main event. No matter how hard these guys work to get fans ready for their match, and it is a big match, they’re going to be eclipsed by Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. It’s unavoidable. I don’t fault WWE for trying to sell more network subscriptions with that match. But this was a great opportunity for WWE to show fans that Reigns and Wyatt are two big and compelling parts of their future. Having them main event Hell in a Cell, much like Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose did last year, would be a great spotlight for them. Especially Bray Wyatt, as this would be his first pay per view main event.

All isn’t lost, however. Wyatt and Reigns can still make a statement by out-performing Brock and ‘Taker. Still, the match has been watered down. That’s a damn shame.

Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar, September 5, 2015Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman open the show with a message for The Undertaker. “You are not Dead Man enough to get revenge on Brock Lesnar.” Yet another great Paul Heyman line.

Another great line? When Heyman referenced Lesnar’s upcoming appearance on Steve Austin’s podcast. Why he couldn’t have done that for this Undertaker match during the build up to the Madison Square Garden special, I have no idea. It only makes all the sense in the world…

The Big Show played his role just fine, as he took yet another F5. After being built up as an unstoppable giant for a few weeks, I can only assume he’ll go right back to jobbing on free TV now.

Big E. answers John Cena’s open challenge in the main event. While The New Day have come off like babyfaces lately, robbing us of a John Cena/ Dolph Ziggler main event was indeed a heel move. Still, it was nice to see Big E. get such a prominent spotlight, as The New Day are once again featured in the main event of Raw.

John Cena, Big E., Raw, September 5, 2015There’s been talk lately of John Cena taking time off in the near future. I can only assume this means he’ll be dropping the US Title. But to who? Common sense points to somebody like Cesaro. But the way the “Swiss Superman” has been booked lately, it looks like Heath Slater has a better chance.

Stephanie McMahon featured in segments with Seth Rollins, Kane, and The New Day. One of my favorite wrestling podcasters, Jason Solomon, tweeted something during Raw that caught my eye: “Stephanie has bigger balls than everyone on the roster.” The sad thing is, he’s right.

Look at how Stephanie talks to both the babyfaces and the heels on Raw. She condescends to all of them, and plays the “I’ll fire you” card constantly. Remember a few months ago when they had her berate John Cena in the middle of the ring, and then simply leave? If it happened every once in awhile, that’d be one thing. But this consistently happens with wrestlers across the board. What purpose does it serve the story when the boss is angry with everybody? I don’t get it.

Sheamus, Neville, Raw, September 5, 2015Sheamus def. Neville in less than a minute after a distraction from Wade Barrett. Ouch. That was pretty hard to watch. You’re telling me they couldn’t have chopped a minute or two off of yet another Rollins/Kane dialogue segment to let these guys wrestle? Adding to the confusion, they seemed to be trying to soften the blow before and after the match. They had Sheamus talk about how everybody loves Neville, and then Michael Cole seemed to throw Neville a bone when he said the match as “all Neville” until Barrett interfered. But the match lasted 30 seconds! Dramatic as it may sound, Neville hit a career low tonight.

Natalya def Paige via submission. The crowd was pretty dead for this match. I imagine part of that is because they’re not sure how to react to Paige. Still, they had a decent outing. I was definitely surprised to see Natalya get the win. She has always had a lot of star potential, and has been able to capitalize on some of it through Total Divas. But she belongs in the ring. I’d love for this to be the start of something bigger for her, but I don’t have my hopes up. One side note: Cinch up on that Sharpshooter, Nattie.

Image 1 from allwrestlingnews.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Big Show, Kane, Complicated Monsters, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Not much to write home about on this show. As it turns out, WWE may be falling into their autumn slump after all. Though it won’t be for lack of trying. We’re getting two Brock Lesnar matches in the next few weeks, appearances by plenty of WWE icons, and the return of John Cena’s US Open Challenge. But the way they’re building to some of their big matches is confusing and frustrating.

In fact, let’s dive right into that…

The Big Show, Mark Henry, Raw, September 28, 2015Ponderings From WWE Raw:

The Big Show def. Mark Henry, will face Brock Lesnar Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Show has been booked like a monster lately to make us believe he’s got a chance of beating Brock Lesnar. But considering how Show is booked on a regular basis, it’s too little too late. It wasn’t long ago that he got pinned by Ryback on free TV. Now we’re supposed to believe he can beat Lesnar? Hell, Cesaro was able to suplex him over the ropes last week. Why exactly are we supposed to believe he’s not going to “Suplex City” at the Garden?

The decision to put Brock with Show is a weird one anyway. The Beast in the East special had decent viewership, and Brock’s opponent on that show was Kofi Kingston. The idea behind these Network specials with Lesnar, or so I thought, was to play him up as a special attraction. You watch this special, you get a rare opportunity to see the “Beast Incarnate” in action. So does it really matter who he wrestles?

The Big Show, Raw, September 28, 2015 With that in mind, there are a bunch of other guys you could have put him against, and avoided having to go back to Big Show. Two off the top of my head: The Miz and Stardust. You’re not going to go to pay per view with any of those matches, so you’re not missing out on anything. Plus, the fans get the thrill of seeing Brock tear some poor guy to shreds. It’s a win-win. And I guarantee you, it’d be more fun to see Brock in the ring with any of those three guys than The Big Show.

On the subject of Mark Henry, here’s been some talk lately about “The World’s Strongest Man” hanging up his boots. The man himself has publicly stated that retirement is imminent, and that he’d like to have a retirement match. But considering the hideous losing streak he’s been on lately against the likes of Rusev and Sheamus, the value of a Mark Henry retirement match plummets with each passing week. This squash match with The Big Show certainly didn’t help things.

Paul Heyman, WWE Raw, September 28, 2015Paul Heyman talks MSG match, does not mention The Undertaker. Sorry Paul. Even you couldn’t sell me on this one. All that talk about The Big Show being complacent and unmotivated would be fine…if he hadn’t been losing to Ryback, John Cena, and half the other guys he’s been in the ring with lately.

Still, Heyman put Show over strong, and that doesn’t surprise me. In all the years Show has been with WWE, he was at his best when he was being booked by Paul Heyman on WWE’s version of ECW. There aren’t many good things to remember about ECW on Syfy, but that was one of them.

And yet again, we got no hype for Brock/Undertaker at Hell in a Cell. That’s so damn weird. Since when can we only promote one show at a time? This is THE UNDERTAKER we’re talking about! You know, that guy that usually wrestles once a year? That guy you relied on to sell Summerslam, and are now going to again for Hell in a Cell? And yet, they’re not even casually mentioning him. If I’m Big Show, my key talking point is that Brock Lesnar won’t make it to Hell in a Cell to face The Undertaker. This Madison Square Garden show is worth a fraction of what Hell in a Cell is, based on that one match alone. So for God’s sake, talk about it! Sell me on it!

Kane, Raw, September 28, 2015Kane gets a “Performance Evaluation.” This segment started at the 1 hour and 51 minute mark, and ended at the 2 hour and 8 minute mark. Yet another segment in which Seth Rollins is sent out there to kill time with a drawn out speech. What’s more, the pay off for the whole thing was hokey. “Corporate Kane” gets hauled off in an ambulance, and then magically transforms into “Demon Kane.” And when the change happened, the crowd hardly reacted. They seemed as tired of the whole thing as we were.

Why are we overcomplicating this with the whole multiple personality angle? What’s wrong with Kane being a sadistic monster that’s out to get Rollins every week? It would paint Rollins as a coward, and position Kane as the demonic presence they need him to be. If this three-hour Raw era has taught us anything, it’s that longer and more complex doesn’t always equal superior.

John Cena’s US Open Challenge returns, results in a six-man tag featuring The New Day and The Dudley Boyz. Happy to see Xavier Woods, who’s mostly cast as a manager these days, get a chance to actually wrestle. I don’t think anybody actually believed he would win, but it was a nice little exhibition for him. And that’s really what these open challenges are supposed to be about, until somebody actually upsets Cena and wins the belt. Can’t say I was a fan of the finish, though. Nothing against the Dudleys, but I can’t say I ever had dreams of seeing them aligned with Cena.

John Cena, Xavier Woods, Raw, September 28, 2015Interestingly, Heath Slater was campaigning on Twitter to be the guy facing Cena, calling this “Heath Slater Appreciation Night.” He might have been a little over the top with all that. But if Zack Ryder can get a match with Cena, why not Slater?

Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt brawl in the main event. This was by no means a bad choice for a main event. But damn, the crowd was sitting on their hands. They had a strong finish, too. Reigns even got a couple of good lines off on the mic. I’m telling you, if they just let this guy be himself…

The Bella Twins & Alicia Fox def. Charlotte, Becky Lynch, & Natalya. Before this match, we had another Miz TV segment with the girls. Paige ran her mouth again, and I’m still not sure what to make of it. She’s obviously trying to be a heel, and she’s good at the whole brat persona. But anyone who calls out the Bellas for sleeping their way to the top is going to get cheers. So if they want to keep going the villainess route, her promos need to be more focused on her rivals: Charlotte, Becky, and Natalya.

Wade Barrett, Raw, September 28, 2015Wade Barrett returns to attack Stardust and Neville. Why should I care? There, I said it. When we last saw Barrett, he was essentially in the position Mark Henry is in now. He was the resident jobber. On top of that, he was walking around wearing a silly looking crown and robe. And now he’s back. So what? And where do we go from here? A triple threat match maybe?

Hornswoggle suspended for violating the WWE Wellness Policy. I can only assume this was for marijuana or something. Tough break. Or maybe not, considering WWE hasn’t done anything with him in quite some time. Unless you count that Swerved show on the Network.

Images courtsey of WWE.com.

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Undertaker/Lesnar Bombshell, Paige’s Weird Promo, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, The Undertaker, Brock LesnarBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Round 3 of Undertaker/Brock Lesnar to take place inside Hell in a Cell next month. Well, so much for Bray Wyatt and Roman Reigns getting the main event…

Needless to say, this is huge. Not just because of the match itself, but because it once again places a shroud of mystery around ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania XXXII opponent. After Summerslam, many of us assumed the rubber match would take place in Dallas this Spring. But with this match on the Hell in a Cell card, ‘Taker and Lesnar will have already wrestled (at least) three times by that point. With that in mind, WWE may want to put ‘Taker against a fresh opponent whose box office appeal is as big as Lesnar’s. The only name that comes to mind under those parameters is John Cena. In theory, you could do Sting. But after his loss to Seth Rollins at Night of Champions, Sting looks more like a has-been than ever (and an injured one at that). Cena seems like the most sure-fire option at this point…

Another lingering question: Why didn’t the announcers talk about it on Raw? This is probably the last chapter in what’s become the biggest rivalry of the year. So…maybe mention it? A little bit?

Paige, WWE Night of Champions 2015Charlotte def. Nikki Bella to win Divas Title at Night of Champions, Paige goes heel on Raw. Very happy for Charlotte. Needless to say, this is an honor she deserves.

Paige’s rant on Raw was weird. She seemed to be trying to do what AJ Lee did with her so-called “pipe bombshell” promo awhile back. But instead of putting the heat on a rivalry between she and Charlotte, she just took pot shots at the other girls. Obviously some of that is expected. But why bring in Lana, Summer Rae, who have nothing to do with her? Yes, she came off like a brat, but she seemed to be criticizing the creative team more than her fellow wrestlers. I understand where they were going, and I think they got there. But they overcomplicated it.

Still, I’m very happy to see Natalya get involved in all this. You can’t have much of a “Divas Revolution” without her, in my book.

Sting loses second WWE pay per view outing to Seth Rollins, moments after Rollins loses US Title to John Cena. Ugh. Yeah, we knew this was probably going to happen. But that didn’t make it any easier to see. So now we’ve established that Sting can’t beat Seth Rollins, even when Rollins has already wrestled (and lost to) John Cena, and is in pretty bad shape at the start of the match. From an in-story standpoint, why should anyone in WWE now fear Sting? Some “Icon” Sting has turned out to be, at least as far as WWE is concerned.

WWE Night of Champions 2015, Seth Rollins, StingStill, there were two bright spots here as far as Sting is concerned. For one thing, he didn’t wrestle in the damn t-shirt. I imagine the only thing worse than losing cleanly to an already-battered Seth Rollins, is losing to him in a t-shirt. Secondly, Rollins made Sting look strong, as we knew he would. And never in my life did i expect Sting to do a cross-body to the outside like he did. So I can’t even knock the match from a performance standpoint. It’s just that the booking sucks on this one. I understand WWE wanted to try and grab extra buyrates by bringing Sting back. But having him lose again isn’t going to help anybody in the long run. What’s more, the poor guy apparently hurt his neck during the match.

But hey, at least Sting will always have respect for Triple H

After returning after Rollins’ title matches at Night of Champions, Kane attacks the champion for the second night in a row on Raw. I’m happy to see they’re finally following up on all that Rollins/Kane stuff from earlier this year. Is it as hot as it would have been before? Maybe not. But it’s nice to see it wasn’t completely forgotten about. And Kane putting the mask back on is a nice way to rejuvenate him for a little while. What’s more, I actually found his cheese ball skits on Raw as Corporate Kane entertaining.

WWE Raw, September 21, 2015, The Big Show, CesaroThe Big Show def. Cesaro, cuts a promo on Brock Lesnar. Yep, he beat Cesaro. Because…of course he did. But to his credit, Show made Cesaro look good in the process.

It’s interesting that Show brought up Survivor Series 2002, and him being the first guy to beat Brock. Makes you wonder if Heyman will bring up last year’s Royal Rumble, when Brock literally destroyed Show with a chair. As we all know, WWE history is weird with omissions like that.

Kevin Owens wins Intercontinental Title at Night of Champions, rematch with Ryback on the horizon. I was pleasantly surprised to see Owens take the title. The way he matches up with Ryback is interesting, because they obviously have such different physiques. Having Owens cheat to win the title was a good move, and while I’m game for a rematch, I think it’s got to end there. Let’s get Owens over to Cesaro, and let them work for a championship.

Sheamus def. Mark Henry on Raw. Mark Henry seems content to put people over these days. But watching him wrestle Sheamus, I couldn’t help but wonder how things would be different if he were the one with the Money in the Bank briefcase. Getting him up that ladder would have been a tough task, but a monster heel Mark Henry with a guaranteed WWE Championship match would have been worth it in my book.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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WWE Night of Champions 2015 Predictions – Enough With the T-Shirt!!!

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Oh, Sting. Poor, poor Sting. Still wrestling in that damn t-shirt. In the main event, no less!

But more on that later…

WWE Night of Champions 2015, Six-ManPRE-SHOW MATCH:
Stardust & The Ascension vs. Neville & The Lucha Dragons

I’m happy Stardust and Neville are still doing something post-Summerslam. But this is sort of a nothing match, even by pre-show standards. Cody Rhodes deserves so much better. Neville would too if he could talk worth a damn. Either way, I see “Cosmic Wasteland” getting the win here. I highly doubt creative has any sort of direction in mind for those three, but a win here will at least keep the group alive.

PREDICTION: Stardust & The Ascension

Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev, WWE Night of champions 2015Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev

This was obviously supposed to be the mixed tag team match they were building to with Lana and Summer Rae. Not sure what they’re doing with Dolph and Lana, unless it’s a set up for a big double turn where Rusev and Lana end up back together, and Dolph and Summer become a tandem. Dolph and Rusev are in an unenviable spot here, because at this point they’ve already wrestled numerous times. I don’t doubt they can pull something decent together. But as a fan, it’s getting tougher to care. Especially because this program was hokey from the very start. As far as a winner, I’ll say Lana makes an appearance here and, intentional or not, costs Ziggler the match. I don’t see her being happy about the shenanigans going on between Dolph and Summer.


The New Day, The Dudley Boyz, WWE Night of Champions 2015WWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The New Day (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz

If I’m in charge, there’s no way the Dudleys get the titles back this quickly. Especially since, whether you consider them heels or babyfaces, The New Day have become such an entertaining act. I think in a perfect world, we’d wait awhile before giving Bubba Ray and D-Von the gold again. How about they win it in a tables match at Survivor Series? Maybe even hold off until the Royal Rumble or Wrestlemania? But don’t just hand them the belts a month after they’ve come back. Whether they cheat, or another team comes out to help them, New Day rocks at Night of Champions.


Ryback, Kevin Owens, WWE Night of Champions 2015WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Ryback (c) vs. Kevin Owens

In a perfect world, this program would help elevate both guys. And I imagine they’ll have more time to work together, leading to a rematch at Hell in a Cell. But I’m concerned about Ryback’s ability to keep up with Kevin Owens on the mic. I don’t doubt Ryback is working hard, and a lot of the things he’s saying are interesting. But Owens has that understated charisma that’s so different from anybody else on the roster. Things went okay this past Monday, but if Ryback is put in another situation where he has to match wits with Owens, things may not go well.

I see Ryback picking up the win here, leading to a rematch at Hell in a Cell. These two could potentially give us some really interesting TV. At the very least, it’s bound to be better than what we got with Ryback, Miz, and Big Show.


The Wyatt Family, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, WWE Night of Champions 2015The Wyatt Family vs. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & ?

There’s been a lot of great speculation surrounding who Reigns and Ambrose’s mystery partner is, and that’s a great thing. That’s exactly what you want. Names like Baron Corben, Erick Rowan, and even The Rock have been tossed around. Personally, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of Chris Jericho getting called in for this. He does have a history with Bray, after all.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I want Reigns and Wyatt to have the cage at Hell in a Cell. Give them the main event as the only cell match on the card, and just let ’em go. Put Ambrose and the Wyatts on the outside if you want a little extra hell raised. I’ve got a feeling they’re going to give Reigns another try for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas. If that’s the case, a solid cell match against Bray would help a lot in terms of “the respect factor.” But to get to the cell, Reigns and his team need to win here. It would help drive home the notion that Bray can’t beat Reigns on his own. This program has had its ups and downs. But they can still finish strong.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & ?

WWE Night of Champions 2015, Nikki Bella, CharlotteSTIPULATION MATCH FOR WWE DIVAS TITLE:
Nikki Bella (c) vs. Charlotte
If Nikki Bella gets disqualified or counted out, she loses the title.

These two had a great showing on Raw this week. Probably one of the better women’s matches WWE has put on in several years. Can they top it? Probably not. But they can still tell us a great story, especially because this match should be just as hot, if not hotter, than the one on Monday.

I expect the ringside set up for this match will be similar to what we saw on Raw: Brie Bella and Alicia Fox in Nikki’s corner, Paige and Becky Lynch in Charlotte’s. That, of course, opens the door for drama on the outside. It also opens the door for what I hope we get here: A Paige heel turn.

Weeks ago, WWE planted seeds for Paige being jealous of Charlotte and her shot at the title. Ergo, Charlotte has Nikki beaten, and Paige costs her the match. Heck, let’s have her deck Becky for good measure. Going forward, we now have two storylines in the women’s division. We’ll have Charlotte against Paige in a personal rivalry, and we’ll have Nikki against whoever her next contender is. Becky Lynch seems like a likely candidate. But it’s tough to ignore Sasha Banks. Either way, we’ve got a more compelling women’s division than we’ve had in years. Seems to me like everybody wins in that scenario.


WWE Night of Champions 2015, Seth Rollins, John CenaWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena

I don’t see a reason why Cena wouldn’t get the title back here. We’ve had an extended break from his US Title open challenges, and they’re definitely missed. So in addition to letting us do those again, a Cena win would make Rollins look vulnerable heading into his match with Sting. Rollins has to have some gas in the tank for the main event, so I don’t expect we’ll see these guys go all out the way they did at Summerslam. But needless so say, they won’t stink the joint up.


WWE Night of Champions 2015, Seth Rollins, StingWWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Sting

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the rather…uninspiring way WWE has handled Sting since Wrestlemania. He inexplicably lost to Triple H, then went away for several months. When he came back, the long trench coat was gone, replaced by merely a t-shirt. He’s been wearing, and even wrestling in the damn t-shirt ever since. Hell, he’s probably going to wrestle this match in the t-shirt. And he’s probably going to lose the match in a t-shirt. They aired those old clips of Sting beating Flair for the NWA Title, and Hogan for the WCW Title. But by comparison, the way Sting is presented today just looks sad. There’s nothing “iconic” about the way this man is portrayed. He just looks like a crazy guy wearing face paint. Now, if they want do something similar to what TNA did with “Joker Sting,” that’s fine, I suppose. But there’s an inconsistency between how WWE wants fans to see Sting, and how Sting actually comes off on television.

The way I see it, the only way Sting wins the title here is if they play the Sheamus card. Sting wins, has a nice moment, then Sheamus cashes in and Brogue Kicks him to win the belt. That’d be fine, but then you have another problem: Sheamus is your WWE Champion. They really booked themselves into a corner with this Sheamus/Money in the Bank thing. You’ll have a pretty hard time convincing me that Sheamus is primed for another WWE Title win. Sheamus has heat, I’ll give him that. But that program with Randy Orton was not good for either man. If you give the belt to Sheamus now, I’m inclined to say people will change the channel. And that’s never what you want.

So what other choice is there but to have Rollins go over Sting? They can make it a screwjob finish if they want. But the fact is, Sting has now lost his first two pay per view matches in WWE, and has yet to actually pin anyone.

Some icon he turned out to be. In WWE, at least…

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Nikki Bella Reigns Supreme, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Nikki Bella, Raw, September 14, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Raw was a really good show this week. It had one major drawback, which we’ll get to shortly. But overall, a really solid “season premiere.” This show proved that if they want to, WWE can still make Raw main events feel important. Now if only they had announced one particular match in advance…

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

After a DQ finish, Nikki Bella becomes the longest reigning Divas Champion of all time. In the almost two decades I’ve been watching pro wrestling, this was one of the few women’s matches I’ve ever seen that had a big fight feel to it. Part of that had to do with the fact that Nikki has so much heat with “smarks” like myself. So many of us genuinely wanted to see her lose the title. It also has to deal with Charlotte, and how many of us respect what she’s accomplished in such a short amount of time. It also has to do with the build-up. WWE talked a lot about this match for an entire week. And the first two hours of Raw built up to it. There was a tension in the air by the time they got in the ring. We had to see whether Charlotte was going to win the title.

Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella, Raw, September 12, 2015The match itself told a nice story, with Nikki working the arm, which Charlotte sold very well. Charlotte is such a natural athlete that you can’t help but root for her. You could almost say she has the same kind of appeal Cesaro has. And I’ll give her credit, Nikki was as good as she’s ever been out there. She’s not the most graceful woman in the world, but with the right opponent, she’s clearly capable of putting on good matches.

I loved the finish. It built sympathy for Charlotte, got the Bellas a lot of heat, and pointed us toward Night of Champions. And it incorporated one of the Bellas’ trademark tricks as well. Good storytelling, good booking. I don’t say that about WWE often enough, but it deserves to be said here. Congrats to both Nikki and Charlotte.

This match made be believe that we could actually be see a revolution in the WWE women’s division. Is it here now? No. But could it be here in the next several months? It could go either way, but it’s not impossible. They made a believer out of me.

Sting, Raw, September 14 ,2015Sting wrestles his first match on Raw against The Big Show. What a wasted opportunity. Sting’s first Raw match was something they could have built this up for at least a week. How hard would it have been last week to have Triple H or Stephanie to announce this at the end of Raw? No, it obviously wasn’t going to be a five-star classic. But that’s not the point! He’s Sting, and he’s wrestling on Raw for the very first time! We had all week to think about Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella. You’d think they’d give the same advantage to someone like Sting. Sadly, they probably came up with it relatively last minute as a ratings grab. But oh, what it could have been.

The fact that it turned into a tag team match with John Cena and Seth Rollins was fine. But here’s a question: Why did Sting have to wrestle in a t-shirt? Yes, the shirt has a big scorpion on it. So what? He wore his gear at Wrestlemania and he looked fine. What they needed was to cover up his bald spot, and that appears to be taken care of. So what’s the deal?

Sasha Banks def. Paige. The most interesting part of this match was the dueling chants of “Let’s Go Sasha!” and “Let’s Go Paige!” We also heard some of that during the Charlotte/Nikki match. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a chant like that during a women’s bout. Also, a HELL of German Suplex by Paige. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Paige turn heel soon. I actually thought it might happen tonight. But it could also happen at Night of Champions.

Bray Wyatt, Raw, September 14, 2015The Wyatt Family appears on Miz TV, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose attack. Rough flub by The Miz, referring to Night of Champions as Hell in a Cell. But he soldiered on, despite some heckling.

So apparently Randy Orton was simply written off TV last week, and may not be the third man on Reigns and Ambrose’s team. So I suppose we’re free to continue speculating. Erick Rowan? Bo Dallas? Chris Jericho?

Kevin Owens and Ryback have an in-ring segment. I loved that they talked about The Secret, and how Owens used it to prod Ryback. That opportunity has been sitting there for months, but nobody capitalized on it. Owens and Ryback obviously did a little ad-libbing out there, which I’m always a fan of. Ryback isn’t always great at it (Did he say “The Master of the Feed Me More?”), but Owens damn sure is. Really interested to see how their styles match up at Night of Champions.

The New Day def. The Prime Time Players to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles. The New Day are babyfaces. Yes, they’re cheating. But they’re too funny to dislike. Xavier Woods is obviously trying to be a Jimmy Hart-type annoying manager with the trombone. But while Hart was annoying, Xavier is entertaining.

Kurt Angle, TNAPonderings From Around the Wrestling World:

Kurt Angle announces he’s not renewing his TNA contract. Yet another tough break for TNA. His past health problems notwithstanding, Angle is one of TNA’s tentpole talents. Not having him around doesn’t exactly bode well for their future. I’d love to see a Cinderella story here. But the brand may be too badly damaged at this point…

WWE reportedly interested in bringing Edge back for an on-air role. I don’t see the long-term benefit of bringing Edge back on a regular basis. Yes, he’s a good talker. But after awhile the novelty would wear off. I am happy, however, that they’re actively trying to prevent themselves from slipping into the annual “autumn slump.” For the past couple of years, Raw has been pretty hard to watch between September and November. An Edge return is an interesting idea, but not the solution they’re looking for.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts appears on The Steve Austin Show Unleashed. If you’re interested in what goes into the craft of wrestling, this is a really fascinating interview. Jake talks about the art of blading, why heels need to cheat, selling, etc. One of the better wrestler interviews Austin has done in quite awhile.

Image 5 from whatculture.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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