Tag Archives: The Bullet Club

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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The Bullet Club vs. The Roman Empire? Plus, Ponderings From WWE Raw

Luke Gallows Karl Anderson, Roman Reigns, WWE Raw, April 18, 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This week on Raw, we saw the beginnings of what may end up being WWE’s version of the Bullet Club. Granted, I don’t recall them actually using that name on television. Signs are pointing to a renewed alliance between AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows.  But let’s be honest, how likely is that? Best case scenario: We’ve got a swerve coming our way. More on that in a bit.

But here’s a happy trend for ya: Raw has been good for three consecutive weeks. When was the last time we were able to say that?

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn. These past few months have been the first time I’ve been able to consistently watch Sami Zayn wrestle. Like most fans, I’ve loved what I’ve seen. From a performance standpoint he’s been on a roll. His match with Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT Takeover: Dallas, his performance in the Wrestlemania Ladder Match, and his match with AJ Styles last week were all great. And and now he’s working with Chris Jericho. Tonight’s match wasn’t amazing. But Jericho and Zayn have a nice heel dynamic, especially with Jericho cowering and then thumbing the eye to get the win.

Cass & Enzo, WWE Raw, April 18, 2016Enzo & Cass def. The Dudley Boyz to advance in the tag team tournament. I’m surprised they gave the first match between these teams away for free. But in terms of developing a rivalry, it makes sense. The Dudleys will likely cost Enzo & Cass the tournament finals, leading to more matches down the road.

AJ Styles reunites with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson backstage. They later attack Roman Reigns. This is obviously a strong indicator that Gallows and Anderson will be turning on Styles in the near future, likely costing him his title match at Payback. But what does that do for Roman Reigns? If they finally wake up and turn him heel, a three-man group with Gallows and Anderson would be…unexpected. But not necessarily in a bad way.

Neither of these guys are great talkers, but they held their own out there. They kept it short and to the point, which was a smart move. As little credibility as the announcers have these days, they were right when they said this match has a “big fight feel.”

Also, we get it, Roman. You’re not a bad guy or a good guy. But if most people don’t like you…doesn’t that make you a bad guy?

Baron Corbin, WWE Raw, April 11, 2016Baron Corbin def. Fandango. Attacks Dolph Ziggler during and after the match. Baron Corbin is by no means perfect. But that End of Days move is pretty cool.

Cesaro crashes Miz TV, which turns into an 8-Man Tag. Two talk show segments in one show, huh? Hrm. Not exactly ideal, but whatever.

Miz obviously flubbed the first sentence in that Taken monologue. But that almost made it better, considering he’s an annoying heel. In contrast, Cesaro’s take on “When my hand goes up, your mouth goes shut” was a pretty good line.

Miz and Maryse continue to be a winning combo, and WWE seems to know that. As unlikely as it seems, it looks like Miz is the next in line to get a crack at bringing some prestige back to the Intercontinental Title. He’s not exactly known for his amazing mat skills. But the Intercontinental Championship has long been associated with some of the best bad guys WWE has ever seen. Think about the likes of Rick Rude, Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, among others. That’s not to say Miz is in their league, but putting the title on him makes more sense when you look at it that way.

I can’t say I was enamored with the match involving Cesaro, The New Day, The Miz, and The League of Nations. But the babyfaces were over big, so more power to them.

Natalya, WWE Raw, April 18, 2016Bret Hart to appear in Natalya’s corner at Payback. Charlotte taps out to the Sharpshooter on RawWith this match at Payback, they now have the exact same set up they had when Nattie faced Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Title in 2014. They had Bret Hart and Ric Flair in their corners then as well, and that was a hell of a match. Granted, Bret and Ric were simply the garnish. I’m not sure if that’ll be the case at Payback, as we’ve established that Flair interferes in Charlotte’s matches. Either way, it’s great to see Natalya getting an opportunity to shine. Though I don’t see her walking out of Payback with the title.

The Vaudevillains def. The Usos to advance in the tag team tournament. So now we’ve got two teams fresh up from NXT competing to become WWE Tag Team Champions. It’s tough to complain about that. If my earlier prediction about Cass & Enzo is true, that means The Vaudevillains are winning this tournament. Considering Cass & Enzo have already won the crowd over with charisma, it’d be nice to see Simon Gotch & Aiden English take it home. That gimmick could make or break them, depending on how they’re portrayed in these next few weeks.

A brief profile on Apollo Crews airs. Crews defeats Heath Slater. They did a profile like this on Baron Corbin last week. It wouldn’t hurt them to do something similar on with The Vaudevillians. Sadly, this didn’t do Crews any favors, as he came off like a white meat babyface. But his athleticism makes him hard to dislike, at least this early in his run.

Apollo Crews, WWE Raw, April 18, 2016Conspicuous by his absence this week was Adam Rose, who along with Konnor of The Ascension, was hit with a suspension last week for violating the company’s wellness policy. That’s always sad to see. I won’t say this Social Outcasts thing has done Rose a lot of favors. But at least he was on Raw most weeks.

Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens in the main event. Jericho comes in for the ambush after the match. Certainly not the best match these two have had. But it was a solid Raw main event.  Yet again, I found myself genuinely iinterested in the last segment of the show. Sad as it is, that’s a departure from the last several months.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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AJ Styles Ascends, the Bullet Club Debuts, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

AJ Styles, Royal Rumble 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

AJ Styles is about to main event his first WWE pay per view.

Well damn.

I wasn’t sure that was the direction they were going when we came out of last week’s Raw. As Jericho beat Styles at Wrestlemania, they could have put Jericho in the match and made it a triple threat. But it looks like it is indeed a singles match between Styles and Reigns. While I don’t see him winning, that’s still a hell of a statement in terms of how WWE sees him. Remember, casual WWE fans had never seen AJ Styles before January.

Who could have predicted it? AJ Styles, once the face of TNA, is now on the fast track to becoming a major player in WWE…

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, WWE Raw, April 11, 2016Shane McMahon is put in charge of Raw again due to massive “social media support.” Undertaker won the Hell in a Cell match at Wrestlemania. So naturally, Shane is simply put in charge of Raw for two weeks straight. Makes sense, right?

Actually, as long as things are shaken up on Raw, WWE can defy logic all they want. That opening segment with Shane and Kevin Owens was a hell of a lot better than the prospect of another Authority promo.

Having Shane around as a babyface authority figure is a breath of fresh air this show desperately needed. For whatever reason, WWE has been fixated on the idea of a tyrannical heel authority figure since the days of Austin vs. McMahon. It’s long past time to give that idea a rest.

Kevin Owens, Cesaro, WWE Raw, April 11, 2016Cesaro def. Kevin Owens to earn an Intercontinental Title shot at PaybackReally good match. With two segments, they actually had time to breathe out there, and were able to tell that story about Cesaro’s shoulder. I don’t expect Cesaro to win the title at Payback. Rather, I expect Miz and Maryse will cheat to win. But Cesaro has been able to regain some of the momentum he lost when he got hurt. That’s a testament to just how good, and how unique a performer he is.

The Dudley Boyz def. The Lucha Dragons in the first round of a tag team tournament. This was another cool development. They’ve got a lot of tag teams right now, and a tournament will be a cool showcase. This is especially true for teams that are new to the main roster like Kaz & Enzo, the Vaudevillians, and even Golden Truth.

Kalisto looked like he took a pretty bad fall in this match. It seemed like Bubba Ray called an audible out there. But kudos to the guys out there for being professional. Fingers crossed for Kalisto’s health.

Dr. Phil, WWE Raw, April 11, 2016Dr. Phil is ringside during the Women’s Title Match between Charlotte and Natalya. Ric Flair causes a disqualification. How fitting that Dr. Phil was in a segment with Natalya. This guy could retire on the Hart family alone.

Natalya is very natural babyface, and Charlotte is getting better and better at being a heel. Throw in the fact that they’re both awesome athletes, and this is a great pairing. Charlotte’s moonsault is a thing of beauty. Here’s hoping they pull out something even better when they inevitably wrestle at Payback.

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson ambush The Usos. Perhaps not the grand debut some were hoping for. But the Bullet Club are in WWE. And whenever they’re ready, both AJ Styles and Finn Balor (both of whom were BC members in New Japan Pro Wrestling) are right there waiting for them.

Sami Zayn, AJ Styles, WWE Raw, April 11, 2016AJ Styles def. Sami Zayn. Excellent match. Hell of a showcase for both guys, and a big win for Styles. Sami had a close call with that counter to the sunset flip off the top. The announcers even acknowledged that his head hit the canvas. But to his credit, he popped right back up.

They really need to come up with a netter name for that forearm Styles does. “The Phenomenal Forearm” sounds cheesy.

Dean Ambrose crashes Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel. Nice little segment. Jericho got to be the conceited heel, Ambrose got to be the witty babyface. No harm done.

At one point it looked like these two were going to face off at Wrestlemania XXXII. Considering the performance Jericho gave us with AJ Styles, and the disappointing outing Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar had, one can’t help but wonder how that match would have changed the complexion of that show.

Apollo Crews, April 11, 2016, WWE Raw,Apollo Crews def. Adam Rose. Apollo Crews obviously isn’t short on talent. But he’s got to be careful about being the typical smiling babyface out there. He may look like a star, but he’s not one yet.

Roman Reigns & Bray Wyatt def. Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio. While the League of Nations don’t exactly scream “main event,” this was one of the more interesting main events Raw has had in awhile because it featured a babyface Bray Wyatt.

Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt worked together for a big chunk of last year, obviously. But if they were to switch roles, with Reigns being the heel and Wyatt being the babyface, they could get a big match out of them. They could easily main event Summerslam, if that’s the direction they wanted to go.

Roman’s new line is: “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m the guy.” As if that somehow slaps a band aid on the fans booing him in arenas across the country. He may not technically be a bad guy, but the fans are definitely treating him like one. And as he’s about to wrestle AJ Styles for the title, those boos aren’t going to get any quieter.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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