Tag Archives: Chris Jericho returns

Chris Jericho is Back?!? Plus, Ponderings From WWE Smackdown

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Question: At what point does a midcard title mean as much, if not more, than a Heavyweight Title? Some would say that’s where we are with the WWE Title and the United States Title.

We always used to hear that kind of talk in the late ’90s, when Rob Van Dam held the ECW Television Title. His matches were outperforming the Heavyweight Title Matches on such a consistent basis that the perception of the title changed. While the ECW Championship was still the top title in theory, a large portion of the fanbase placed more value in the TV Title.

We’ve got a similar situation now with Jinder Mahal as the WWE Champion. In a way, it’s unfair to judge Mahal the way you would previous champions. He’s so inexperienced as a top guy, going from the undercard to the main event in a matter of weeks. Meanwhile, the guys competing for the US Title aren’t exactly slouches: Kevin Owens, AJ Styles, and Chris Jericho. They’re more experienced than him, more charismatic than him, and put on better matches than him.

But does that mean that while AJ and the others are elevating the US Championship, Jinder is dragging the WWE Championship down? The answer is: Sort of. It goes beyond Jinder himself. It’s about the story they’re telling, and the importance that should be placed on that WWE Championship.

Given how recently Jinder was an undercard guy, the WWE Title can easily seem like an undercard belt while he holds it. That’s especially the case when he’s not as good a worker as a lot of the other guys. The way you change that is by telling a good story. Essentially, that story is about Jinder and the Singh Brothers stealing the title. This undeserving, unqualified charlatan of a champion is holding it hostage until someone can overcome the odds and take it. WWE’s equivalent to the Ark of the Covenant has been stolen. We, as the audience, need to understand just how important that is. All is not right with the world, and our heroes are striving to fix it. This needs to be played up on a weekly basis. Not just by the announcers, but the script writers. An immense injustice has occurred, and continues to occur every time Jinder retains that title with the help of the Singh Brothers, and now the Great Khali. This way, Jinder is more than a stereotypical foreign menace. He becomes a true villain.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with elevating the United States Championship. For so many years it was mired in irrelevance. The more prestigious it is, the better off your product is. But let’s not lose sight of where our priorities should be. There’s a reason Jim Ross always called the WWE Title the “richest prize in the industry.” If they’ve allowed us to forget that’s the case, then something has gone very, very wrong.

Ponderings From Smackdown:

Chris Jericho makes a surprise return to Smackdown. Shane McMahon announces a Triple Threat Match for the US Title: Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho. This one came way out of left field. Definitely an awesome shot in the arm for Smackdown. Especially after Battleground was received so negatively.

There was absolutely no buzz about Jericho coming back any time soon, so there’s not much word on how long we’ve got him. For now, I’m just happy he’s back. Even with just a little bit of time, he can do quite a lot.

Damn, I love when wrestling is good.

Shinsuke Nakamura def. Baron Corbin. The match from Battleground did not get good reviews at all. The most notable thing that came out of it was a gif of Nakamura doing an exaggerated eye roll. The DQ finish certainly didn’t help. At least they got that part right this time. Why couldn’t they have done that Sunday?

This wasn’t much better. But you knew this wasn’t going to be magic either way.

Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch def. Lana and Tamina. Really surprised Charlotte didn’t win the match at Battleground. Does this mean she’s not going to be on the Summerslam card? That’s really odd. She’s a marquee player. You’d think she’d have a place on a show like Summerslam.

Lana has a lot of haters over her perceived lack of wrestling skills. They don’t seem to realize they’re supposed to be hating her, and as such are playing right into her hands. That’s part of her character, you morons…

John Cena comes out to challenge Jinder Mahal to a WWE Championship Match at Summerslam. Daniel Bryan makes a match between Cena and Nakamura for next week, with the winner challenging Mahal at the pay per view. I happened to be watching the first half of this show with Mrs. Primary Ignition. As Jinder was speaking Punjabi, she says: “I feel like this is pretty racist.” I tell her that’s the idea,

Her reply: “That’s a little too redneck for me.” Man, some people just don’t get it.

Loved Cena’s attitude toward Mahal, totally brushing him off as an opponent. That’s obviously the way a lot of the fans feel about him too. The good news for the Cena haters is that probably means the champ is retaining at Summerslam. I doubt they’d let Cena crap on Vince McMahon’s new pet project if he wasn’t going to get the win in the end.

As for the Cena/Nakamura match next week, that’s a hell of a bombshell. They’ve got my attention, that’s for sure. Here’s hoping they pop a decent rating with a week’s build-up.

Sami Zayn and Tye Dillinger def. Mike Kanellis and Aiden English. So Mike Kanellis loses at Battleground, then drops the fall again tonight. I wouldn’t be worried for him just yet. Not everybody gets a big undefeated streak. Given his whipped husband character, it might work for him in the short term.

A lot of fans have been quick to put Mike Kanellis’ gimmick into the “Wrestlecrap” category. Again, it’s too soon to judge. They just started. Give it some time. See how things play out…

The New Day are ambushed by the Usos. This was pretty quick and to the point. Considering how long some of the beat-downs go these days, that’s hardly a crime.

AJ Styles def. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho to win the WWE United States Championship. Styles to defend against Owens in a rematch next week. Pretty good match. Rumor has it the finish to the Styles/Owens match at Battleground was changed with very little notice. This is pure speculation, but I imagine this was part of the reason why. Jericho’s return was a great twist in the story. I can’t say I’m dying to see Styles and Owens potentially work yet again at Summerslam. But there are certainly worse matches one could book…

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John Cena’s Injury, Sting in the Hall of Fame, Plus Ponderings From WWE Raw

John Cena, shoulder surgery, January 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So yeah…John Cena went down with a turn rotator cuff last week, and underwent surgery to repair it. He’ll definitely be missing Wrestlemania.

So let’s tally this up. These are the stars who WON’T be competing at Wrestlemania XXXII in Dallas: John Cena, Randy Orton, Sting, Seth Rollins, Cesaro. There’s also been some buzz about Paige and Sasha Banks being hurt. But to my knowledge nothing is confirmed.

The biggest WWE superstar of the last decade being out of what they were hoping to be the most attended Wrestlemania of the last decade is undoubtedly a big deal. But it’s not the end of the world.

Obviously, Wrestlemania isn’t going to be as stacked as anybody hoped it would be. But as was the case when Seth Rollins went down with his injury, WWE simply has to play the best hand they can with the cards they’ve got. And thankfully, they’ve got better cards now than they did at Survivor Series. Thankfully, Roman Reigns seems to have turned the corner as their new top guy. That’s not to say he’s completely out of the woods, but he’s in better shape now than he was in the fall. If they keep his storyline strong, Wrestlemania should at least have a good backbone. A Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar rematch seems to be the likely main event at this point, especially considering how Raw ended. That works for me. They had a really good match last year, and hopefully they can top it this year.

My question is, who do they put with The Undertaker now? Cena seemed like the man for the job…

Sting, Raw, September 14 ,2015Pondering From WWE Raw:

Sting announced as the first entrant for WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2016. Not really a surprise, and he’s definitely deserving. It’s probably been in the works since Sting signed in 2014. But for me, this is a disappointment. Sting never even got to win a one-on-one match in WWE. You’ll notice they didn’t mention THAT in his video package. Ending THAT run with a Hall of Fame induction is about as anticlimactic as it gets. Sting deserved better. The best we can hope for at this point is one more match.

Roman Reigns competes in “One vs. All” Gauntlet Match. Brock Lesnar cleans house, then attacks Reigns. Having Reigns spend most of the ring time with Kevin Owens was a nice spotlight for KO, and hopefully a sign of the faith they have in him.

Obviously this match was done to make Roman look strong. It’s an eye-roller on paper. But at least they didn’t have him lay out all 10 guys before Brock came out.

Paul Heyman’s involvement in this week’s show was sadly limited to backstage segments. That’s disappointing, but fine at this point. We are going to need another classic Heyman promo before the Rumble gets here, however.

The Undertaker, Wrestlemania XXXIAll 30 Royal Rumble Match participants appear at the top of the Raw set to start the show. Conspicuous by their absence among the participants were The Undertaker and Kane. They didn’t have to physically be there, but Vince or Stephanie could have easily mentioned them. While things can certainly change, I can only assume this means they’re not in the match. That’s a downer. Their presence in the match would help make it as special as WWE seems to want it to be. In ‘Taker’s case, one can argue the pros and cons of bringing him in just to be eliminated. But eliminating The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble would be a big deal for somebody, and might even help kick off a program for Wrestlemania. They made sure all the members of The New Day, The Wyatt Family, and The Social Outcasts got in. But they can’t at least bring Kane in? What the hell?

It was interesting to see Vince highlight Dolph Ziggler the way he did, mentioning his 10 years of “reaching for the brass ring.” But one week after losing to Heath Slater, what did it really mean?

Kalisto, Alberto Del Rio, Raw, January 12, 2016Kalisto def. Alberto Del Rio to win the United States Championship. I love this. This is something Raw desperately needed. A jumpstart for a new singles star. I’ve been saying for months that Kalisto has what it takes to be the Hispanic star WWE has been looking for. Now he has that opportunity. This is something to look forward to on Raw in the weeks to come.

Becky Lynch attacks Charlotte before her match, cuts an impassioned backstage promo. I’m sure that promo was scripted. But to her credit, Becky made it feel very real. Considering we know so little about her something with such a personal touch, performed that well, really goes a long way.

Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel returns to Raw. At the risk of sounding like every fickle wrestling fan out there, Jericho’s cool factor has, well, cooled. I’m not sure if that’s what he’s going for to lead to an eventual heel turn. But between the vest and the stomach, the stupid “rooty tooty booty” line, the scarf and the jacket this week….I just don’t get it.

Also, Star Wars was number one at the box office before you came back, Chris.

I’m actually really surprised this segment didn’t lead us into a six-man tag between The New Day, Jericho and The Usos. But saving Jericho’s in-ring return for the Rumble, or at the very least advertising it beforehand, is the smarter move.

The Social Outcasts, WWE Raw, January 12, 2016A match between The Wyatt Family vs. The Social Outcasts is interrupted by Ryback. So…are The Social Outcasts babyfaces? Everybody in this group was a heel before, weren’t they? But they acted like underdogs looking for a fight here. Then of course, you had Ryback coming out to attack the Wyatts, following up on an angle last week that no one remembered or cared about. So who benefitted from this segment? Nobody, that’s who.

Sheamus vs. Dean Ambrose goes to a double count-out. Kevin Owens attacks Ambrose after the match. Nothing against either man, but this match didn’t do anything for me. It didn’t really do anything for Sheamus either. At least Ambrose and Owens got to further their program. Sheamus simply looks like even more of a lame duck after this one.

Titus O’Neil def. Stardust. I liked this. Pretty basic psychology. Titus wins, celebrates with the fans (including one kid who didn’t seem into it at all), and Stardust is a sore loser and attacks him. Simple, yet effective.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Roman Reigns to Rumble, Chris Jericho Returns (Again), and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Vince McMahon, Roman Reigns, WWE Raw, January 4, 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Roman Reigns def. Sheamus. Vince McMahon announces Reigns will defend WWE Championship in Royal Rumble Match. On paper, this Royal Rumble thing is awesome. It changes the chemistry of the Rumble Match completely. This is bound to draw comparisons to the 1992 Rumble Match, when Flair won the title. But now we actually have an active champion defending his title in the Rumble, which has never been done before. And if WWE does want to take the title off of Reigns, this allows them to do it without him losing much face.

They can also pack the Rumble with a lot of big names, and dangle the very real possibility of a title change. We know Big Show is in the match, though apparently not number one, as he seemed to indicate last week. I can only assume Brock Lesnar’s return next week will involve him announcing his entrance into the match. I can only assume John Cena will participate. They can even throw The Undertaker in there…

Roman Reigns,  January 4, 2016My question is, what if we get to the Rumble and the fans aren’t behind Reigns? If Brock is in there, they’re bound to side with him. God help them if fans hijack the Rumble for the third year in a row. And whatever they do, they’d better not mention Daniel Bryan’s name. At all. Like, for the entire month.

Also, it must be said that Jason Solomon over at The Solomonster Sounds Off pitched this weeks ago. One of my favorite podcasts, by far.

As far as the match went, it was classic Stone Cold/Attitude Era storytelling. The lead babyface against the ref who won’t count. But in the end, the babyface gets the win. Reigns doesn’t act like Stone Cold, but he’s benefitting from a lot of the same stories Austin did. And of course, the crowd wasn’t even half as hot as the crowds in those days.

Chris Jericho returns to Raw, interrupting The New Day. It’s always nice to see Chris Jericho. But my God, what was the deal with that vest? It made him look like he had a gut. And Chris Jericho does not have a gut. He does DDP Yoga!

Chris Jericho, Raw, January 4, 2016The point of this segment was to announce Jericho’s involvement in the Royal Rumble Match. Now that the title is on the line in the match, the more big name stars they can throw into that match, the more credence it has as perhaps the most must-see Rumble in years. It would be nice for Jericho to stick around until Wrestlemania. But even if he doesn’t, he serves a valuable purpose.

Becky Lynch grabs the tights to get a win over Charlotte. So wait…last week Sasha Banks, a heel, beats Becky with a handful of tights, but the announcers can’t be bothered to mention it. Now this week, Becky beats Charlotte with a handful of tights, and they do acknowledge it. I get what they were doing here with the whole “fighting fire with fire” thing. And if they’re trying to correct last week’s mistake, then good for them. I doubt that’s the case, though. Simply put, it’s backwards to point out when a babyface cheats, but totally ignore it when a heel cheats.

WWE Raw, January 4, 2016, Becky Lynch, CharlotteI’m on the fence about Ric Flair being at ringside with his daughter every week. He’s one of the biggest stars the industry has ever seen. He’s always going to overshadow her on some level. I get that they’re going for a “Daddy’s Girl” type character with Charlotte now. But we understand that Charlotte is Flair’s daughter without him having to physically be there with her every week. Wouldn’t it be more effective for Ric to be with her strictly on special occasions?

Kevin Owens def. Neville, gets elbow dropped through a table by Dean Ambrose. Ambrose came off surprisingly white meat on commentary for this one. It was nice that he put over Neville as well as he did, though.

Kevin Owens continues to be the best heel WWE has. I’ll give Michael Cole and the announcers some credit here, as they told the story about Owens being bitter about losing the title to Ambrose, and beating up Neville as a result. They also gave us a nice image with Ambrose next to Owens on the crushed table. This isn’t a hot feud, necessarily. But the talent of the players involved makes it very intriguing.

WWE Raw, January 4, 2016Titus O’Neil def. Stardust. Obviously, they’re aiming to push Titus as a single star again. But this time they seem to have the right idea, pushing him as a babyface, as opposed to a heel. Titus is extremely likable and charismatic. This feels much more organic.

Heath Slater def. Dolph Ziggler with help from Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, and Bo Dallas. I’m happy for Heath Slater, and for the contingent of fans that have wanted this for him for quite some time. But damn…Dolph Ziggler. This guy is still one of the most dynamic, charismatic performers they have. And he just lost to Heath Slater, and his newest group of jobbers. Terrible. Just terrible.

So we’ve got this new group, the Social Outcasts. We’ve also got the League of Nations and The New Day. That’s a lot of heel factions, and it seems like one of them’s got to go. My vote is for the League of Nations.

In Other News:

AJ StylesWWE reportedly signs AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson away from New Japan Pro Wrestling to compete on NXT. For hardcore fans, this is huge news. Especially in the case of AJ Styles, who is arguably the best wrestler in the world right now, and the biggest name in wrestling never to sign with WWE.  Long time WWE fans will also remember Doc Gallows from his previous run as Festus/Luke Gallows. I hate to admit that I’m pretty ignorant about Nakamura and Anderson, though I’ve heard wonderful things about the former.

This will undoubtedly be a huge shot in the arm for NXT, and hopefully allow names like Finn Balor and Samoa Joe to move up to the main roster in the near future.

Image 6 from pwpix.net. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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