Tag Archives: Damien Sandow

Heath Slater Steals the Show (Seriously), and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

We’ve got some extra TNA talk after Raw this week. So let’s jump right in…

Roman Reigns, Mick Foley, Rusev, WWE Raw, August 15, 2016Ponderings From Raw

Rusev & Lana hijack the show. A non-title match between Rusev and Roman Reigns is made for later in the show. I don’t like when they do this. Put the pay per view matches on pay per view. Don’t give them away a week before. I understand the stakes are different. But this waters the Summerslam title match down.

Sami Zayn def. Sheamus after a distraction by Cesaro. Mick Foley books Cesaro and Sheamus in a Best of Seven Series that starts at SummerslamI liked the start to this match. Corey Graves called it “scrappy.” Made things feel a bit more real. They put Cesaro on commentary for most of this. It doesn’t seem like he’ll ever be a great talker. But he’s improved. It’s interesting how Finn Balor is presented, in contrast to Cesaro. The two are on equal ground in terms of mic work. But while Balor has shot to the top of the card after only a month on TV, Cesaro can’t seem to gain any real traction.

A Best of Seven Series, eh? Alright, sure. We haven’t had one of those in awhile, and it’s something for these guys to do. But here’s my question, what does the winner get?

The New Day def. The Dudley Boyz. Watch D-Von shortly after the pin. Bubba slides in the ring and gives him the same kind of stare as last week. They didn’t get a shot of it, but it looks like this is indeed a story. But does it end with the Dudleys winning the tag belts, or splitting up? Notice it’s D-Von that’s eaten the pin two weeks in a row…

Heath Slater, Brock Lesnar, WWE Raw, August 15, 2016Heath Slater goes to Suplex City after interrupting Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. This segment was the best thing Heath Slater has ever done in WWE. No, seriously.

I believed every word he said when he talked about having to support his kids. Then Lesnar had that great line: “I don’t give a sh*t about your kids.” We added a new dimension to Slater, and Brock stayed true to his character. I’m not sure if Slater was supposed to be heel or babyface before this segment. But now he’s a babyface in my book.

It’s not often you hear me looking for less Paul Heyman mic time. But we really didn’t need him to say so much after the Slater stuff. Specifically, the stuff about Brock and MMA. I’m not sure if he was going for shock value there, what with Brock’s drug test failure. But all we really needed was “That’s what’s going to happen to Randy Orton at Summerslam.”

Big Cass def. Kevin Owens via disqualification. During their pre-match promos, sometimes it looks like Cass is just watching Enzo in awe like the rest of us. The tag match at Summerslam should be fun.

The Shining Stars def. Darren Young & Titus O’Neil. That bit of the Prime Time Players and Bob Backlund doing the “Millions of Dollars” dance was all I needed from this match. Apparently even that was more than the crowd in Corpus Christi needed. This match was pretty flat.

Finn Balor, Demon King, WWE Raw, August 15, 2016Neville def. Jinder Mahal. Yep. Good to have you back, Jinder Mahal. Your check is in the mail.

Finn Balor arrives in his “Demon King” persona. Not sure we needed to see Seth Rollins wandering around all night looking for the Demon King. If he was just going to call Balor out later, why wander around searching for him? Also, the emergence of this Demon King persona means we really need to drop the “Demon Kane” moniker. It’s not often one would confuse Finn Balor with Kane. But it applies here.

Some idiot got into the ring during Rollins’ promo. Way to go, security. Granted, it was a boring promo. But come on. There’s no need for that…

I wish they’d saved the Demon King for Summerslam. Because let’s be honest, what is the Demon King really but a cool entrance? What does the Demon do that Finn Balor doesn’t? Yes, it looks cool. But this, combined with the Reigns/Rusev match, makes it seem like they just didn’t have any ideas for this week’s show.

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson def. The Golden Truth. The New Day attack after the match. I still think the “ringpostitis” skits are funny. Something about the visual of these guys in lab coats. On the other hand, the idea of Anderson getting hit the balls with a trombone is pretty funny too.

Charlotte, Alicia Fox, August 15, 2016Charlotte def. Alicia Fox. I can’t even remember when the last time was that I saw Alicia Fox in the ring. The last time I have her tagged in a post was around Wrestlemania. I don’t expect her profile to get any higher. At least as long as she’s on Raw with the likes of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Nia Jax.

I’m assuming Dana Brooke is still with Charlotte after this segment. Dana still has a lot to learn, but I maintain that they make a good team.

Roman Reigns def. Rusev. I still don’t like this match, but it’s nice to see Rusev main eventing Raw for the second week in a row. If they book him well, I truly believe he can be a main event player. One note, though: Don’t break out the diving headbutt again. How many did he do in this match? Three? Between what it seemingly did to Chris Benoit and Daniel Bryan, we don’t need it around anymore. It’s not worth it.

This is Rusev’s first singles loss in awhile, isn’t it? The cool thing about this is it means he may not have to drop the title at Summerslam. A DQ finish, perhaps? As long as they establish Roman as having the upper hand, that may satisfy whatever desire they have for this program.

Tuesday Morning Talk Points: NONE.

Over in TNA:

Dixie Carter, Billy Corgan, TNABilly Corgan named President of IMPACT Ventures, will manage day-to-day TNA operations. Dixie Carter promoted to Chairman. TNA, IMPACT Ventures, or whatever the company is called, has very little to lose at this point. If promoting Corgan shakes up their TV product and brings new eyes, that’s fantastic. The time had long since come for Dixie Carter to be removed from the actual running of the business.

WWE’s Damien Sandow becomes TNA’s Aron Rex. This was a feel-good moment. For whatever reason, the real-life Aaron Stevens was held back and ultimately laid off by WWE. As they’ve done many times before, TNA has picked up the ball in hopes of gaining some new eyes, and riding that momentum. I wish Stevens all the luck in the world, but I hope he hasn’t jumped on to a sinking ship…

Bobby Lashley holds TNA Heavyweight Title, King of the Mountain Title, and X Division Title. When I read about this, I immediately thought of Rhyno holding the ECW Heavyweight and Television Titles in the final weeks of the promotion’s existence. I remember reading something to the effect of: “Unified champions. Another sign of a dying promotion.” I can only hope that’s not the case.

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Big Cass Hits the Big Time, Champions Fall, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m going to get into Raw, as afterward we’ll get into Ryback’s current situation with WWE, and the numerous releases we saw last week.

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

WWE Raw, May 9, 2016, Chris Jericho, Big CassColin Cassaday interrupts Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel, and challenges him to a match. I was really annoyed when a light chant of “Where is Enzo?” broke out. WWE and Colin Cassady are trying to make the best of a bad situation. To his credit, he’s not doing a bad job. In terms of the Raw audience, I’d argue Enzo was over with the fans the night after Wrestlemania because of how great he was on the mic. Cass, while part of the act, didn’t have that advantage. So this is a great chance for him to flesh out his character. Thus, when Enzo returns, the team will be even stronger.

Baron Corbin def. Dolph Ziggler. “Even Steven” booking strikes again. I’m wondering if these two will rematch yet again at Extreme Rules. I don’t really see why they’d need to, as I don’t think there’s enough interest to merit it. But it’s a possibility. Pleased to see Corbin win with his finish, though he could have easily won with the Deep Six.

R-Truth def. Fandango. Michael Cole shoved a bunch of contrived pop cultural references into this match. He talked about the Goldust & Fandango vs. R-Truth & Tyler Breeze match on this week’s Smackdown being bigger than Captain America: Civil War. He also mentioned James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke,” and Ozzy Osbourne’s disappearance. It’s like someone picked the least important match on the show to shove all of that into. Last week I talked about this program not making any sense, but at least these four guys have something to do on Raw.

WWE Raw, May 9, 2016, Charlotte, Paige, NatalyaPaige def. Charlotte with a distraction roll-up. I get why they did this. They want the fans to question Charlotte’s ability to stand on her own as we head into a match where Ric Flair is banned. For continuity’s sake, Paige should get the next title shot at Money in the Bank next month.

I tend to mute the commentary when wrestlers put on a headset, especially when there are two of them bickering with one another. But Natalya was fine. She seemed to run out of things to say when Cole and JBL kept questioning her, but she came off well. I do, however, think she jumped up on the apron a bit too early. Logically, she should have jumped up there after Charlotte tried to win with her feet on the ropes.

Sami Zayn def. The Miz. Not a good night for champions, as both the Women’s Champ and the IC Champ lost clean. But in Zayn’s case, at least we know he’s getting a title opportunity. We now officially have the fatal fairway match I mentioned last week. My guess is Miz retains when Kevin Owens accidentally causes Zayn to get pinned. This Zayn/Owens stuff could go to Summerslam if they book it right.

Dana Brooke makes her Raw debut in a backstage segment with Emma and Becky Lynch. From a wrestling standpoint, I can’t say I’m that familiar with Dana Brooke. I’ve seen her in backstage segments Emma, as the two are obviously run-in buddies. But she’s largely unknown to me. Either way, her debut adds a bit more depth to the women’s roster, which is a good thing.

Darren Young, Bob Backlund vignetteDarren Young finds a life coach in Bob Backlund. This segment first aired on Smackdown. I’m really intrigued by this pairing. As I understand it, it was Darren Young’s idea, and WWE are letting him run with it. The “Make Darren Young Great Again” slogan is obviously timely. What’s more, this will give us a chance to get to know Young a bit more. We don’t know much about him, aside from the fact that he’s the first openly gay WWE star. And obviously, Backlund is very entertaining.

But the most surprising thing about this vignette? They let Young and Backlund say “wrestling.” Holy crap. I thought that word was banned! Then Byron Saxton said it!

Sin Cara def. Rusev with a distraction roll-up. The second distraction roll-up of the night. Ugh. Rusev really shouldn’t have lost this match. From where I sit, WWE is still in the process of rehabbing him. He won a big battle royal last week, and now he loses to Sin Cara? Lame. On the plus side, they learned their lesson and kept Kalisto off commentary.

Roman Reigns & The Usos def. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson via disqualification in a six-man elimination tag team match. Anderson and Gallows had a few heel moments here. You had Gallows cheap shooting Jey Uso, then Gallows abruptly tagging AJ out of the match, and of course attacking Reigns to cause a DQ.

WWE Raw, May 9, 2016, Roman Reigns, Karl AndersonI like the bad blood that exists between these two teams. And people can say what they want about Roman Reigns (I certainly have), but that moment when he looked at the chair, said “I don’t need it” and gave it to Styles? That was bad ass. On the other hand, Styles proves that babyfaces can be cheered in the modern era, so long as they have talent and a good amount of fire.

Kevin Owens def. Zack Ryder. We certainly can’t say Zack Ryder hasn’t gotten some decent TV time since Wrestlemania season. WWE seems to appreciate him as a guy who the fans like, and can give anyone a run for their money, but keeps coming up short. He’s an underdog. That’s not a necessarily a great position to be in. But it’s better than not being on TV at all. And as I recall, underdogs have done some great things in WWE…

Last week I mentioned how no one could have imagined AJ Styles on Sportscenter. But how about Kevin Steen showing up on Sportscenter? What a world we live in…

The Dudley Boyz def. The New Day. What the hell? The Women’s Champ, the IC Champ, and the Tag Champs all lose non-title matches in the same night. Between that and the distraction roll-ups, this is really weird. Just like Paige hopefully getting a title shot at Money in the Bank, one would hope the Dudleys will now be in the tag title picture next month as well. Also, hat big clothesline Kofi took from D-Von looked awesome.

WWE Raw, May 9, 2016, Dean AmbroseDean Ambrose attacked Chris Jericho before his match with Big Cass. This was disappointing. They hyped Big Cass against Jericho for the entire show. Ambrose’s appearance was obvious, but they could have at least let them wrestle a bit. Cass didn’t have to beat Jericho. Ambrose could have attacked him and ended the match.

The visual of Ambrose wearing Jericho’s jacket, and then destroying it was pretty cool. But the idea that “Mitch the potted plant” meant the world to Ambrose is just stupid. It was a running joke. Now suddenly it’s a factor in a program between two of WWE’s biggest stars? What the hell…?

In Other News:

Ryback off TV over contract dispute, posts lengthy blog on the issue. Much of the blog Ryback posted on his Tumblr page had to do with how wrestlers are paid, and how talents who win matches should get paid as much as the ones who lose. He seems to be implying that all WWE wrestlers should be paid equally. Allegedly, he also wants WWE to pay for his travel and hotel expenses.

(Incidentally, I hadn’t caught the “pre-show stopper” weight belt Ryback wore out for his pre-show match at Payback. Funny stuff.)

Ryback, pre-show stopperI doubt WWE will give at all. If they don’t feel Ryback should be paid more, chances are they’re not going to shill out more for him. Especially now that he’s talked about the issue publicly. As for the travel stuff, if WWE doesn’t pay for John Cena or Roman Reigns to travel across the globe, they’re not going to do it for Ryback.

Still, I give “The Big Guy” credit for trying to take on the system. As far as the travel stuff, he’s right in principle. If there’s another industry that doesn’t pay for its employees to travel, I’m not aware of it. Perhaps that falls back under WWE classifying its employees as “independent contractors.” Which, of course, is a big sham.

WWE releases the following talents: Wade Barrett, Damien Sandow, Santino Marella, Hornswoggle, Alex Riley, Cameron, Zeb Colter, El Torito. WWE did what many refer to as its annual “spring cleaning” last week. Most of these aren’t surprises, as the talents haven’t been on TV in a number of months. We had a pretty good idea that Wade Barrett was leaving, which is a shame considering all he could have offered. Cameron, a.k.a. the real life Ariane Andrew, had posted a lengthy rant regarding fans cyber-bullying her less than a day before this announcement. Frankly, I’m sad to see her go. She many not have been a great wrestler, but her on-screen personality was very easy to dislike. At the very least, she might have been a good valet for someone.

But the one that really hurts is Damien Sandow. At one point, this guy was one of the most over guys on the roster. Why you wouldn’t make at least some use of a guy like that is beyond me. Hopefully WWE’s loss will be somebody else’s gain.

Image 3 from wrestlenewz.com. Image 6 from cagesideseats.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE. 

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Roman Reigns, AJ Styes, Lingering Questions, and Ponderings From WWE Raw

The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Fully Loaded 1998By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve been listening to Vince Russo’s podcast lately. For those who don’t know him, Russo was a writer for WWE during the “Attitude Era.” He also wrote for WCW during its final days, and TNA for much of its existence. I definitely don’t agree with everything his says, i.e. his pitch for Sami Zayn to be portrayed as a former cab driver. But he’s got a unique perspective on the industry.

Last week, he talked about the go-home Raw for WWF Fully Loaded in 1998. The main event for the pay per view was Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Undertaker against Kane & Mankind. The story was about whether Undertaker and Kane were secretly working together, and if Austin was walking into a trap. One of the things Russo mentioned was the questions that were thrown at viewers. Was The Undertaker aligned with Kane? If so, what would become of Austin? And what about Mankind? Would an alliance mean victory for Vince McMahon?

It had never occurred to me how important questions are in a big wrestling storyline. They invite the viewer in, and generate intrigue. Fittingly, we’ve got a lot of questions heading into the main event of Payback this weekend. Is AJ Styles working with Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows? If so, will they cost Roman Reigns the title? Will The Usos play a role at all?

If this is indeed a “new era” for Raw, WWE (the announcers in particular) needs to pose more questions to the audience. The Attitude Era wasn’t just about foul language and sex appeal. There were some great stories told. In the end, that’s really what we’re here for, isn’t it? They’d do well to remember that this Sunday.

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, WWE Raw, April 25, 2016Vince McMahon to decide who’s running Raw at PaybackHopefully this will strictly be between the McMahons, as I’m keen for Triple H to stay off TV for awhile longer. For that matter, I’m keen for Stephanie to do the same. This Authority have been doing the same thing for two and a half years. We need a break. I’m not sure how they’ll rationalize giving the show to Shane, considering he lost to The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. But as we’ve seen, ration isn’t WWE’s strong point…

AJ Styles def. Sheamus. This one went on a hair too long for me. But it did what it was designed to do. They kept AJ strong heading into his title match at Payback, and they furthered the intrigue with Anderson & Gallows. I can’t complain.

The New Day, The Vaudevillians, and Enzo & Cass share a ring. I was glad to hear Aiden English say the line about The Vaudevillians representing a better, bygone era. He said it on Smackdown as well. Like many wrestlers on the main roster, they didn’t get a great introduction on television. At least not on Raw. So we needed to know why these guys are dressed in those costumes. My money is on them winning at Payback.

That pop Enzo & Cass got was great. The luster isn’t off these guys yet, and hopefully it won’t be for quite some time.

Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, WWE Raw, April 25, 2016Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows def. The Usos. Did anybody catch that line from Michael Cole about Anderson & Gallows being “part of a club” in Japan? I guess they’re not allowed to say Bullet Club, even though that’s what everybody’s thinking. The fans were even chanting “Bullet Club!” tonight.

It had been several years since I’d seen Gallows wrestle, and I’d never seen Anderson in the ring. Gallows’ agility and his striking came off well here, as did what we saw of Anderson’s leaping ability. Not a thrilling match, per se. But again, it did what it needed to do for the larger story.

It’ll be interesting to see if and how The Usos’ role evolves here. As unlikely as it is, If Reigns does indeed turn this Sunday, we could see an interesting role reversal. Think about a six-man tag featuring Roman Reigns, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows against AJ Styles and The Usos. I’m not enamored with six-man tags, but I’d watch it.

A Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens retrospective video airs. Zayn is attacked by Owens after a win over Rusev. I loved this. It should have been done weeks ago. This Zayn/Owens rivalry is something WWE can go back to a number of times in the years to come, because it has depth to it. And tonight we finally got to see some of that.

Rusev, Sami Zayn, WWE Raw, April 25, 2016Lana was with Rusev on Raw for the first time in quite awhile. I can only assume they wanted to avoid fans chanting for her during segments with the League of Nations. But they’re a good combo, and it’s good to see them back together. Also, does Rusev look leaner to anyone else?

Apollo Crews def. Stardust. This match had a surprisingly good backstory. That stuff about Dusty Rhodes helping Apollo out in NXT could have been great material for a larger story with Stardust. He could have been Crews’ first pay per view opponent. The announcers said Crews dedicates every match to Dusty. If you were Cody Rhodes, how would you react to that?

Chris Jericho comes out on top after Dean Ambrose calls him out. One of the great things about Dean Ambrose is that he’s not just great on the mic, he’s different on the mic.  His rhythms, his cadence, and his whole demeanor are unlike anyone else in the industry. He may not have come out on top here, but he’s a hell of a player. I maintain he deserves a shot at that top babyface spot.

Natalya def. Emma. Was the crowd chanting “We want Lana!” during this match? If so, that really sucks. These ladies didn’t have a lot of time, but what they gave us was pretty good. Emma has definitely improved from a charisma standpoint. But there’s still room for improvement. I hope we see more of her on Raw. The more time she works on this heel persona, the better she’ll get.

Chyna memorial graphic, WWEWWE airs tribute to Joanie Laurer, a.k.a. Chyna. This was classy. It doesn’t make up for WWE more or less blacklisting Chyna after she left the company. But it was a nice video. Chyna’s autobiography was called If They Only Knew. But when you see how much love and respect Laurer had from her peers, what comes to mind is, if only she knew.

Dolph Ziggler ambushes Baron Corbin before his match. Whatever Ziggler and Corbin did was secondary. Because before the ambush took place, we got a few seconds of DAMIEN SANDOW on Raw. Last year he was one of the most over guys on the roster. Now? We’re lucky if we even see him on TV. And of course, he didn’t even get to wrestle. What a damn rib.

The Miz runs down the Cesaro Section, nearly goes for the big swing. Miz’s promo started off rocky. But once he started talking about the Intercontinental Title and the so-called nerds in the Cesaro section, he really got on a role. I’m almost sorry Cesaro had to interrupt. I’m a Cesaro fan, but his end of this segment came off heavily scripted. Still, practice makes perfect, I suppose…

Roman Reigns def. Alberto Del Rio. Anderson & Gallows attack Reigns after the match. Reigns and AJ Styles trade blows. I’ve been meaning to say this for awhile: “The Phenomenal Forearm” is a dumb name for a finisher. Was that really the best they could do?

Okay, so it’s obviously not going to be Styles, Gallows, and Anderson teaming up at Payback. So if Roman isn’t turning heel, then what? Let’s ponder that, shall we? Been keeping up with NXT lately…?

Samoa Joe, NXT ChampionSamoa Joe wins the NXT Championship from Finn Balor at an NXT house show. This was a huge surprise, obviously. WWE hasn’t done something like this in years. Why do this on a house show rather than a Takeover special? No idea. Perhaps that will be revealed in time. This does open Balor up for a main roster spot, presumably to do something with his old Bullet Club buddies Anderson and Gallows. Personally, I think he’s got at least a little time left with NXT. But I expect to see him on the main roster sooner rather than later. If Reigns isn’t the third man in WWE’s version of the Bullet Club, the smart bet is on Balor.

WWE announces John Cena’s return for the Memorial Day edition of RawThis is definitely good news, especially with Bray Wyatt falling victim to the injury plague. Cena is the biggest star of his generation, and WWE is dying for some star power right now.

Image 1 from onlineworldofwrestling.com. Image 6 from whatculture.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Preview – Roman Reigns vs. The World

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I have one simple request heading into this show: That the booking doesn’t prompt the fans to hijack the Royal Rumble Match again. Seriously, after two straight years, a third would just be piling on…

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Kickoff MatchFATAL FOUR-WAY TAG TEAM STIPULATION MATCH:
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Ascension vs. Mark Henry & Jack Swagger vs. Darren Young & Damien Sandow
Winners earn a guaranteed spot in the Royal Rumble Match. 

Damien Sandow! Damien Sandow! Good God, almighty! It’s Damien Sandow! Yeesh, if you ever needed an indicator that a match has been thrown together to take up space, that’s it. They put Damien Sandow in it. WWE’s most criminally underutilized wrestler not named Cesaro.

I don’t see any reason why the Dudleys shouldn’t win this one. Bubba obviously had a great showing in the Rumble Match last year. And if the rumors are true, and they are looking to give Bubba a singles run, seeing one of the Dudleys eliminate the other would be a great starting point. Either way, the Dudleys have the star power, and they belong in the Rumble.

PREDICTION: The Dudley Boyz

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, The New Day, The UsosWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The New Day (c) vs. The Usos

I like the Usos. They’re a fantastic team, they’re believable, they’re a great asset to the roster… But I’m sick of seeing them in the title picture. If The New Day were babyfaces and Jimmy and Jey were heels, it might be a different story. But as far as I’m concerned, The Usos have no business beating The New Day right now.

But my question is, who challenges The New Day once they beat the Usos? The Prime Time Players have apparently broken up. Sin Cara is injured, so it won’t be The Lucha Dragons. It’s too soon for the Dudleys to challenge again. I say it’s time to go to NXT. Enzo Amore and Colin Cassaday seem ready for prime time. And their personalities would clash well with The New Day. Let’s make it happen!

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Alberto Del Rio, KalistoWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Kalisto

This match sucks.

I mean, not really. These guys have plenty of experience working together, and have consistently given us really good matches. I’m sure we’ll get more of the same here. But the title is on the wrong person. After Kalisto won the belt from Del Rio, the was no need for them to switch the title back so quickly. As in, the very next night at the Smackdown tapings. If they wanted to switch the belt back to Del Rio, this would have been the time to do it. Instead, they made Kalisto’s win look like a fluke.

Mind you, they could surprise us and put the belt back on Kalisto. That would be the exciting, compelling thing to do. But as this is WWE booking, I don’t see it happening. Del Rio walks away with the title.

PREDICITON: Alberto Del Rio

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Charlotte, Becky LynchWWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch

This program has been a huge turning point for Becky Lynch. She’s been one of the highlights of Raw for the last two weeks, largely because of her mic work. She’s made herself stand out from the other ladies on the roster, which she desperately needed to do.

That being said, she’s not walking out of the Rumble with the title. Charlotte is walking into Wrestlemania as champion. Ric Flair will undoubtedly play a role in the finish. The only question is, is she wrestling Sasha Banks, or Sasha and Becky in a triple threat match? If I’m booking this? It’s Charlotte and Becky again at Fastlane, and then a triple threat at Wrestlemania. But the good thing about those three ladies is that no matter how you arrange them, chances are they’re going to give you quality wrestling.

PREDICTION: Charlotte

WWE Royal Rumble 2016, Dean Ambrose, Kevin OwensLAST MAN STANDING MATCH FOR INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE:
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Kevin Owens

I’m really hoping Kevin Owens gets the IC Title back at some point. But the balance of babyface wins vs. heel wins is pretty lopsided at this point. So I’m guessing Ambrose wins this one. Oddly enough, this is exactly what happened at TLC. That’s certainly not to say he isn’t deserving. But he almost won by attrition.

I’m holding out hope that Sami Zayn somehow ends up in the mix with Owens before Wrestlemania. Even if it’s not for the Intercontinental Title, those two had an amazing rivalry going on NXT, and it would be a great story to continue at Wrestlemania.

PREDICTION: Dean Ambrose

WWE Royal Rumble Match, 2016, Roman ReignsROYAL RUMBLE MATCH FOR WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:

It’s no accident Roman Reigns is the only one in that graphic. Reigns is the centerpiece of WWE right now, and he’s the centerpiece of this match. The big story revolves around him holding on, outlasting all the other wrestlers, and looking strong. And the more star power they can jam into this match, the better he looks if he wins. Especially starting from number 1. That’s why I was hoping The Undertaker would pop up here. Aside from the obvious epic feel he would add to the match, we’ve never seen Reigns toe-to-toe with the Dead Man. There’s potential for a great moment there.

On the subject of greatness, Brock Lesnar is in the Rumble for the first time in over a decade. I don’t see him winning. But I do see him mixing it up with The Wyatt Family, in a fight that culminates in all parties being eliminated. But Brock will go on a violent suplex-spree, make no mistake about it.

AJ StylesAnd then there’s AJ Styles. WWE has gone out of its way to tell us that Styles is on his way. At this point, it’d be a big let-down if he wasn’t in the Rumble Match. Will he win? Probably not. But if he walks out there, it’ll be a magic moment for sure.

I’m of the opinion that one person from NXT should always be in the Rumble Match. Rusev showed up a few years ago and had a decent outing. I’m hoping they do something similar this year. I’m not sure I’d put Finn Balor in the Rumble, because I think he needs a nice build-up before he debuts. But how about Samoa Joe? How about Sami Zayn? Hell, even Apollo Crews. Let’s up the epic!

In the end, I’d be surprised if Roman didn’t win. But the key is how they have him win. Roman Reigns is not Brock Lesnar. They can’t have him destroy everybody. At the end of this match, he needs to be completely spent, having just barely gotten by on the skin of his teeth. Jim Ross actually pitched an interesting scenario on his website in which Reigns gets through the Rumble, only to be presented with a 31st entry…Triple H. Hunter and Roman have to face off eventually. I just hope it’s not in the main event of Wrestlemania. Do it at Fastlane, and let Roman face Brock at ‘Mania.

Either way, Roman becomes a two-time Rumble Match winner here.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

Final image from fansided.com. Remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Roman Reigns Wins the WWE Championship, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Roman Reigns, Raw, December 14, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Not much point in wasting time, is there? Let’s jump right into the big news from Raw

Roman Reigns wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship after the match is made by Vince McMahon himself. A title change via a match made that same night, as Vince McMahon looks on in horror and disbelief. That’s some classic Attitude Era booking right there. Still, you can’t say it didn’t work. And how ironic that it happened in Philadelphia, the same city that booed Reigns out of the building at the Royal Rumble. A city that, by the way, was behind him tonight.

Aside from being derivative of the Attitude Era, down to Corporation style run-ins against the babyface that Vince despises, I can’t bring myself to complain much about how this was done. How odd was it that this match tonight had more anticipation built for it than last night’s TLC main event?

WWE Raw, December 14, 2015, Stephanie McMahon, Roman ReignsFrom a creative standpoint, this seemed like an attempt to jumpstart Raw following the ratings downslide, and all the ill will built up from the fans. This obviously doesn’t fix all of WWE’s problems. But this was a good show. Most definitely a breath of fresh air.

On the downside (because we’ve got to cover the good and the bad), WWE has developed a pretty consistent pattern of not allowing anyone to show up Stephanie McMahon, particularly men. That trend continued in the opening segment as Reigns took a barrage of slaps from the “Billion Dollar Princess.” He didn’t even put his hands up to defend himself! I understand the ultra-image conscious WWE not wanting to show images of men being physical against women, but can’t Reigns reach out and grab Steph’s arm to stop her? Imagine someone doing that to Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, or The Rock. And to top that, he even got kicked in the balls by 70-year-old Vince McMahon later in the evening.

Sheamus: “You think I look stupid? All of you paid to see me tonight, so what does that make you?” Don’t tempt us, pal…

Sheamus, WWE Raw, December 14, 2015In a lot of ways, Sheamus got a raw deal this year, no pun intended. There was very little thrill or intrigue in his Money in the Bank win, and his brief run with the title was hardly worth it. It might have been better just to have him cash in and lose.

Still, I maintain that Sheamus is a talented wrestler, and can still do great things.

Dean Ambrose wins Intercontinental Championship at TLC, defeats Dolph Ziggler on Raw. Kevin Owens seeks revenge. I was surprised to see WWE give Ambrose the IC Title. He doesn’t exactly need it. But having him in the picture doesn’t hurt anything either. As one would expect, he and Ziggler turned in a good match.

Having Kevin Owens chase Ambrose for the title might bring out the best in Owens as a heel. He showed some nice bitterness out there tonight. I’m curious to see what Owens does in the weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble.

Jojo, Kevin Owens, WWE Raw, December 14, 2015Correct me if I’m wrong, but it would have been really nice to have Owens looking into the camera for that promo segment with Jojo. How much better was that promo with the ECW guys because Bubba and the others were looking into our eyes? I just don’t understand WWE’s hesitance toward that sort of thing.

The Wyatt Family def. Team ECW in an Extreme Rules Match. The right team won here. During the match I tweeted: “The Wyatts need to win this match. No more 50/50 booking.” Very happy the Wyatts got the victory, and actually came off looking like a dominant group. I’ve said it before, the Wyatts can be the dominant faction in WWE if they’re put in that position. Even if it’s just Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper getting the big wins, that’s not an out-of-reach proposition.

That being said, if they want this to continue, I wouldn’t mind seeing Bray Wyatt and Bubba Ray Dudley go at it one-on-one…

WWE TLC 2015, Ric Flair, CharlotteCharlotte retains over Paige at TLC, teams with Becky Lynch for a win on Raw. Ric Flair assists both times. So it appears we are indeed moving toward a Charlotte heel turn, and seemingly a program with Becky Lynch. This opens the door for development on the part of both ladies, so no complaints from me. I also like how they made a point to have Sasha Banks out there, to illustrate that she’s waiting in the wing.

I’m very curious to see who they put Charlotte with at Wrestlemania. It should be a one-on-one match, as opposed to a triple threat, or a fatal fourway. I’d love to see it be Sasha Banks. But Becky would be good in that spot as well.

Alberto Del Rio & Rusev def. Ryback and Jack Swagger. Didn’t even need to watch this one. Jack Swagger is a loser, and Ryback has become a loser. But that’s actually a good thing. Again, they didn’t 50/50 book it. These programs have winners and losers. That’s the way it should be.

WWE Raw, December 14, 2015The Miz “directs” Neville during his match with Tyler Breeze, which he wins. I don’t necessarily mind Miz being with Neville. It did wonders for Damian Sandow…until the story was over. Hell, this Miz/Neville program might even get Damian a little bit of TV time.

In Other News…

WWE hires veteran MMA announcer Mauro Ranallo for Smackdown. Will start when the show moves to USA Network on January 7. This is a really nice get for WWE. Ranallo brings a special credibility of sorts to the announce position. But here’s the thing: If WWE’s product remains as stale as it’s been lately, it won’t matter who the announcers are. Because no one will be watching.

Sting reveals he needs neck surgery following Night of Champions match. Ugh. This sucks. With so many guys on the injured reserve list, WWE could use Sting now more than ever. Furthering the sucktitude is the fact that Sting’s WWE run, which fans waited so many years for, has been such a disappointment. “The Icon” is hopeful for one more match. Count me among the wrestling fans who hope Sting finally gets a truly great WWE match. Or at the very least, a victory.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A WWE Payback Preview – Make Me Care!

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is WWE’s third annual Payback event. At the risk of sounding overly pessimistic, it’s one of the company’s least important pay per views of the year. It’s probably right behind Battleground in that sense. You’ve got to think pretty hard to remember any noteworthy stuff that has happened at Payback. There are, however, at least two…

– The match between Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler from 2013, which ended in a double-turn.

– Last year’s six-man match between The Shield and Evolution.

I’m not expecting much in terms of long-term memories from this show. But who knows? That tag team match does look promising. And we’ll probably see the end of Rusev’s run as an upper card heel.

Make me care, guys and gals. Make me care.

WWE Payback 2015, pre-showPRE-SHOW MATCH:
Damien Sandow & Curtis Axel vs. The Ascension

Well, they went to the trouble of putting Axel and Sandow together. They may as well let them have a win.

I want to like this whole Mega Powers parody thing. But I’m stumped as to how Sandow and Axel can get it to translate to upward momentum. Yes, it’s great the company is actually doing something with these guys. But the problem with being a comedy act is that if you do it for too long, you get pigeonholed into that kind of role (a la Santino Marella). If there’s anybody that doesn’t deserve that, it’s Damien Sandow. But I suppose in order to achieve greatness, you’ve got to stay in the limelight. And this weird new gimmick has indeed kept Sandow in the limelight. So here’s to the new Mega Powers…or perhaps the Super Mega Powers? The Ultra Powers? The Super Mega Ultra Powers?

PREDICTION: Damien Sandow & Curtis Axel

WWE Payback 2015, DivasThe Bella Twins vs. Naomi & Tamina Snuka

I like the pairing of Naomi & Tamina. Tamina is good in the bodyguard role, and it’s cool that they’re playing up the familial connection between the two. That being said, UGH, another pay per view match with the Bellas. Hopefully this one is quick and painless.

I see the Bellas picking up a win here, but Naomi and Tamina attacking them after the match to keep the rivalry going. Eventually, we will indeed see another title match between Naomi and Nikki. Hopefully at that point they’ll switch the title, and they can put Naomi in a program with Paige, or another lady that’s a bit more likeable than Nikki.

PREDICTION: The Bella Twins

WWE Payback 2015, King Barrett, NevilleKing Barrett vs. Neville

Neville has illustrated lately how a wrestler can still find victory in defeat. He’s lost matches to Barrett, John Cena, and Dolph Ziggler. But his performances have always been memorable, and left the crowd wanting more.

This time, however, he’s due for a win. My guess is both of these men will be involved in the Elimination Chamber show later this month in the big match for the Intercontinental Title. If I had to guess, I’d say King Barrett will be walking out of that match with the title. This would, of course, lead to the stakes being raised between Neville and Barrett via a title match. So while Barrett will end up with the gold eventually, Neville will get his hand raised at Payback.

PREDICTION: Neville

WWE Payback, Dolph Ziggler, SheamusDolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus

I’m curious as to why they didn’t up the stakes with another stipulation in this match. This feels like a downgrade from Extreme Rules. Still, a rematch was the right move, given what happened to Ziggler.

As I’ve mentioned previously, WWE is in need of upper midcard heels right now. Sheamus fits the bill perfectly. He’s an established star who’s found new life as a bad guy in recent months. If they’re looking for guys to put against Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, or John Cena, he should be first in line. However, after what happened last month with he and Ziggler, Sheamus should get his comeuppance here. Let’s say Sheamus gets the win, then Ziggler attacks and forces him to kiss his “arse.” Turnabout is fair play, after all.

PREDICTION: Sheamus

WWE Payback 2015, tag title matchWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The New Day (c) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd

It’s amazing what a heel turn can do. Whether this heel turn was planned from the get-go or not, The New Day have now become one of the hottest heel acts in the company. What’s more, they’re a hot heel act that can put on great matches, as we saw at Extreme Rules. A Two-Out-of-Three Falls match should do nothing to hinder them in that respect.

The tag belts are supposedly going to be up for grabs at Elimination Chamber. If WWE wants to switch the titles to a babyface team like Cesaro & Kidd, I imagine it will be there. So it’s another win for The New Day at Payback. And why not? I’d say they earned it for making this crappy gimmick work.

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Payback 2015, Ryback, Bray WyattBray Wyatt vs. Ryback

I imagine this match was booked as a way to give Bray his mojo back after the Wrestlemania loss to The Undertaker. He’s got to beat someone, after all. Ryback’s as good a choice as anyone.

This is also Ryback’s first big pay per view match in awhile. This whole angle might have been a test to see how willing fans are to get behind him against a major heel like Bray. If that’s the case, I’d say he’s done alright. Not great, but alright. Ryback still has a lot of people to win over. Regardless, he won’t be winning this match.

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt

20150426_payback_EP_LIGHT_match-HP_cenarusev“I QUIT MATCH FOR WWE UNITED STATES TITLE:
John Cena (c) vs. Rusev

An “I Quit” match against the guy who never gives up. There’s a tough assignment if there ever was one.

I imagine the big story in this match will be Lana. Does she stay with Rusev or doesn’t she? As much as the “smart” fans all want to see her stay with him, it looks like they are indeed going to go ahead with a babyface turn. And what better time than what will likely be his last PPV match with John Cena. Indeed, it looks like Cena will still be the man to beat after Payback.

The question is: What happens to Rusev after Payback? If he taps out here, he’ll have lost to Cena on three consecutive pay per views. Ouch. There’s certainly no shame in losing to the biggest star in the company. But so much for this guy being an unbeatable brute, huh? I’ll be very curious to see what happens to Rusev the following night on Raw.

PREDICTION: John Cena

WWE Payback 2015, Fatal FourwayFATAL FOURWAY MATCH FOR WWE HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose

The writer in me doesn’t like that Roman Reigns is in this match. I certainly wasn’t for putting him with Big Show again. But a one-on-one match between Reigns and Rollins for the WWE Championship should be something WWE is planting seeds for now, regardless of when it actually takes place. From a storyline perspective, Rollins humiliated Reigns at Wrestlemania in front of his family and the entire world. That’s a hell of a backstory for a babyface redemption rematch. So why he’s being stuffed into this multi-man match is a mystery to me.

Supposedly, Dean Ambrose was added to this bout so that he could be pinned for the finish, and Orton and Reigns could stay strong. As happy as I am to have Ambrose here, I don’t think he was needed for that purpose. Randy Orton is a made man in WWE. A loss to a heel, particularly a vile, cheating heel like Rollins, isn’t going to hurt him. One thing that might hurt, however, is taking a triple power bomb from Rollins, Ambrose, and Reigns. You know they’re going to bust that old Shield favorite out. WWE might even be testing the waters here for a Rollins/Reigns/Ambrose match at a big pay per view down the line.

In any event, Rollins goes over here. He’s got a lot left to do as champion. I imagine next on his to-do list is a match with Kane…

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

Images from WWE.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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