Tag Archives: The Prime Time Players

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.

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Sting, Seth, the Statue, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Sting, Seth Rollins statue, WWE Raw, September 7, 2015Sting holds Seth Rollins’ statue hostage, eventually crushes it in a garbage truck. So Sting and Seth Rollins are feuding over a statue? That’s pretty lame, especially for a character like Sting. This could be so much more personal for him, even if they don’t want to get into the dark, scary, “vigilante” stuff. Sting is 56 years old.  He’s trying to win the WWE Championship for the first time, during his first run with the company, coming off a big loss at Wrestlemania. They could easily do something akin to what ECW did with Terry Funk in 1997. Funk was in his early fifties when he won the ECW Title from Raven at Barely Legal. It was one of the most emotional moments in the ECW’s history. It’s a classic tale. The older guy comes back to teach the young punk a lesson in respect. WWE could easily go that route with this story, and it would be even more emotional and effective considering the national scale, how long it took Sting to get to WWE, etc. But apparently this story is about a statue…

Also, does Sting have to wear a t-shirt all the time? How about one of his long coats? The t-shirt makes it seem like he’s trying to cover up his body or something. Even if that is the case, can’t he wear the coat anyway? Needless to say, he’d look a lot cooler.

Charlotte, Nikki Bella, September 7, 2015Charlotte to face Nikki Bella for the Divas Championship next week. Good move. There’s no drama in having Charlotte challenge for the title a week after Nikki breaks the record. But a matter of hours before the record breaks? Now that’s good TV. If WWE wants to be ballsy about this, they’ll put the Nikki vs. Charlotte match in a prominent place on the show. I can’t say I’ve ever wanted to see Nikki in a main event spot. But if they really want to try and make this a “revolution,” it’s worth a shot.

John Cena & The Prime Time Players def. Seth Rollins & The New Day. I was happy with this match, mostly because Titus O’Neil, Darren Young, Kofi Kingston, Big E., and Xavier Woods all got to be in a Raw main event. It’s good to see the Dudleys haven’t completely eclipsed the Prime Time Players since their return. And of course, The New Day can turn babyface any day now. Very happy for both teams.

Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose def. The Ascension. So apparently The Ascension and Stardust are a group now. Cosmic Wasteland. Makes you wonder why Stardust wasn’t out there with them this week. It’s not like he couldn’t have taken a spear from Reigns or something. Granted, even without Stardust, a squash like this isn’t necessarily a great start for a group.

Randy Orton, September 7, 2015So it’s looking like Randy Orton is going to team with Reigns and Ambrose to face the Wyatts at Night of Champions. I’m absolutely, 100 percent fine with that. Why? Because it keeps Randy Orton away from a certain someone…

Randy Orton def. Sheamus. Dear God…why? Seriously, we need a restraining order for this one. Randy Orton and Sheamus must be kept out of the same ring for at least three years, minimum. And while we’re at it, let’s get a similar arrangement in place for Orton and John Cena. This program was an awful idea from the start. Why would we want to see any kind of rubber match?

The Big Show chases The Miz out of the arena, then knocks Cesaro out. Wait…I thought Show was supposed to be wrestling Ryback for the IC Title at Night of Champions? Are we making it a fatal fourway with Cesaro? I’d be okay with that, so long as it ends with Cesaro leaving with the belt.

The Dudley Boyz, Raw, September 7, 2015The Dudley Boyz def. Los Matadores. There’ve been rumors of Los Matadores being repackaged. I can only assume this is part of that. I’ve hated the Los Matadores gimmick from the beginning, not because it was supposed to be kid-friendly, but because it seemed like such low-hanging fruit. Hey, we’ve got two Hispanic guys? Let’s make them bullfighters! I only wish they’d put the damn bull through the table too. Speaking of which, what happens to him now? Does he become a new Dudley brother?

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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WWE Summerslam 2015 Predictions – Part II of a Trilogy

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’ve got to give WWE credit. These past several weeks, they’ve made Summerslam mean more than it has in years. They’ve got a huge main event, and a pretty big semi main event (if not a fairly underwhelming lower card), coverage from ESPN, and some celebrity involvement that could actually be fun to see.

Jon Stewart hosting Summerslam is a legitimately huge get for WWE. Not just that they got Jon Stewart, but that they got him fresh off his iconic Daily Show run. And the cool thing about Stewart is that he’ll legitimately have fun with this gig.

But let’s dive into the meat of the show…

WWE Summerslam 2015, Dolph Ziggler, RusevDolph Ziggler vs. Rusev

While I’m happy Summer Rae has something to do on TV these days, most of the stuff involving her, Lana, and Rusev, has been pretty cringeworthy in my opinion. What’s more, Mark Henry, once as monstrous a heel as I’ve ever seen, has been reduced to being Rusev’s TV program. I’m sure he’s fine with that, but still…

Heading into fall, I’m ready for Rusev and Lana to be back together. They make a great duo, and while Lana isn’t short on talent, she’s not going to be a Sable-like star for WWE. At least not right now. So I’m thinking Lana turns on Ziggler, giving the match to Rusev. Ziggler and Summer are both kicked to the curb, and our power couple is back together.

Prediction: Rusev

WWE Summerslam 2015, Miz, Ryback, Big ShowWWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Ryback (c) vs. The Big Show vs. The Miz

I hate to say it, but this was a lame duck match from the start. At least it was in terms of the build up. I just can’t say I have any kind of desire to see these three work. No disrespect intended, but I’m pretty sure the fans don’t either.

In any event, this match is obviously designed to give Ryback a big win, and establish him as more of a player. I stand by what I said last week though. If you want to give him a big moment, put him against The Big Show in a retirement match, and have him win. Show doesn’t actually have to retire. But it’ll get Ryback a hell of a pop.

Prediction: Ryback

WWE Summerslam 2015, tag matchFATAL FOURWAY TAG MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day vs. The Lucha Dragons vs. Los Matadores

Yeah, it’s time to put the titles back on The New Day. I’m very happy Titus O’Neil and Darren Young got to win the titles and have that on their resume. But it’s The New Day’s time.

I’m assuming this match is one fall to a finish. So I imagine the finish will be involve some kind of interaction between El Torito and Xavier Woods, leading up to a distraction finish where either Kofi or Big E. get the pin.

Prediction: The New Day

WWE Summerslam 2015 Divas elimination matchTHREE TEAM DIVA ELIMINATION MATCH:
Team Bella vs. Team B.A.D. vs. PCB

This match, and the tag match for that matter, are a little too crowded for me. I understand they wanted to have all the girls on the show. But why not just do a regular triple threat match, and maybe put the Diva’s Title on the line? This just seems like it’ll be a mess.

My hope is that something happens in this match that leads these ladies away from the team storyline, and more toward individual feuds. For instance, what if Becky were to pin Nikki Bella and win the match for her team? Now we’ve got a Diva’s Title match set for Night of Champions. I want to see that title actually mean something for the first time since its introduction. And with any luck, that’ll include a makeover for the belt. I’m going with PCB on this one, in the hopes that we see a continued improvement in the women’s division.

PREDICTION: PCB

WWE Summerslam 2015, Stardust, Stephen AmellStardust & King Barrett vs. Neville & Stephen Amell

In terms of this match, I’m more excited that Stardust is on a pay per view than anything else. Cody Rhodes is painfully underutilized by WWE, and big publicity grab like this is a big opportunity for him to show the world just how good he can be.

There’s really no mystery about who wins here. In WWE, celebs always wind up on top in the end. Unlike most of the other celebs who’ve wound up “wrestling” for the company (Kevin Federline, Seth Green, etc.), Amell is a natural athlete who will likely play his role just fine. I see this ending with Neville hitting the Red Arrow, and Amell covering Stardust for the win.

PREDICTION: Neville & Stephen Amell

Randy Orton vs. SheamusRandy Orton vs. Sheamus

UGH. Please. Make it stop. Make it end.

I’m assuming Randy Orton is going over here, as they’ve given him two big wins in recent weeks. He pinned Cesaro in a triple threat match, and this week he actually pinned Sheamus in a tag team match. I can only assume they’re keeping him strong in the event John Cena can’t wrestle the match, and Seth Rollins has to be put in to make this a three-way for the WWE Title. Classic WWE logic then dictates Sheamus will be one step closer to cashing in, perhaps as soon as this event’s match between Rollins and Cena. For whatever reason, WWE always jobs the Money in the Bank winner out before he cashes in. Why? Who knows. Either way, Orton wins. Now please, make this the blow off match!

Prediction: Randy Orton

WWE Summerslam 2015, Kevin Owens, CesaroCesaro vs. Kevin Owens

This could very well be the biggest weekend of Kevin Owens’ career. Saturday he’s in a ladder match with Finn Balor for the NXT Championship, and the very next night he’s working Cesaro. Say what you want about him seemingly being de-emphasized on TV recently, but the guy is in no shortage of high profile matches lately.

Sadly, I don’t see him beating either Balor or Cesaro. As Owens is essentially a main roster guy at this point, there’s no reason for him to take the NXT Title from a rising star like Finn Balor. As for Cesaro, WWE inexplicably had him pinned by Randy Orton last week. And of course Vince McMahon famously remarked that Cesaro has trouble connecting with the audience. But if I had to take a guess as to who WWE is looking to emphasize more these days, I’d guess Cesaro. And I’d say that’s the right move to make. Hopefully that “Cesaro Section” keeps growing.

PREDICTION: Cesaro

WWE Summerslam 2015, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Luke HarperRoman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper

This match sucks… Alright, maybe that’s not fair. But it could have been so much more.

Sting is just sitting on the sidelines doing nothing. After so many years, they finally got him, just to have him job to Triple H and then go away. This is one of the few times a six-man tag on pay per view would have been an ideal situation. Put Sting with Reigns and Ambrose, and put somebody, ANYBODY, with Wyatt and Harper. Bo Dallas is around. Damien Sandow is around. Even Curtis Axel could have worked. But nope. It’s simply a watered down Shield vs. Wyatt Family match.

Had Sting been with Reigns and Ambrose, I’d be inclined to give them the victory (Though with this creative team, you never know.). But now I’m leaning toward the Wyatts. I’m currently of the mindset that Reigns and Wyatt are going to have the cage at Hell in a Cell in October. So if the Wyatts somehow cheat to win here, this feud can continue. And after seeing Reigns’ match with Luke Harper this week, I’m perfectly fine with that. Those two had a really good match. Hopefully they can keep that momentum going, and get this match to overachieve.

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper

WWE Summerslam 2015, John Cena, Seth RollinsTITLE-FOR-TITLE MATCH FOR WWE HEAVYWEIGHT AND UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena

When this match was made, I assumed it meant the United States Title was going away. Which admittedly would be a weird move, considering what John Cena and his open challenge matches have done for that belt since Wrestlemania. I suppose taking that title away from Cena would be an interesting way to put heat on Rollins. But it would rob WWE of the chance to put an up-and-comer over in a huge way.

So assuming they’re not going to get rid of the US Title, how do you get out of this match with both belts still intact? You could have Rollins be a double champion, I suppose. But that seems like a waste. A disqualification finish would get them out of the match. Of course, there’s always the Sheamus option…

Either way, I don’t see John Cena walking out of this show with this 16th Heavyweight Title. They only started really playing that up this week. The idea of Cena tying Ric Flair’s record needs to hang in the air for awhile. So while I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen with the US Title, the best prediction I can give at this point is Seth Rollins picks up the win.

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

WWE Summerslam 2015, Brock Lesnar, The UndertakerBrock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker

After The Undertaker hit yet another low blow on Brock this week, I’m convinced we’re getting a third another Undertaker/Lesnar match at Wrestlemania XXXII.

The story makes perfect sense. The Undertaker has never beaten Brock Lesnar in a one-on-one match. Brock took ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania undefeated streak from him. Now he wants revenge. The problem is, ‘Taker is convinced that he can’t beat Brock. Thus, the low blows. And things aren’t going to get any better when Brock beats the Dead Man cleanly at Summerslam.

So The Undertaker returns to Wrestlemania, in his home state of Texas no less, to challenge Brock to one last match, perhaps his last match. One last chance to slay the beast. If they tell the story well, it could be a fantastic build up. The only question is, how will ‘Taker’s body hold up against someone as physical as Lesnar?

There’s only one way to find out…

PREDICTION: Brock Lesnar

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Cesaro Gets Snake Bitten, An Arrow in the Heart of WWE, and Other Ponderings From Raw

Monday Night Raw, Randy Orton, Cesaro, August 10, 2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Randy Orton def. Cesaro and Kevin Owens to earn a shot at the WWE Championship later in the evening. It seemed like this match was designed to let Cesaro shine. And shine he did…until the finish. This match was tricky from that perspective anyway, as somebody had to get pinned, and that can potentially effect their momentum. You’d think the guy to lose the fall would have been the heel, Kevin Owens. But instead they inexplicably had Orton pin Cesaro with an RKO. And it wasn’t one of those “From Out of Nowhere!!!” ones either. Cesaro, who had spent most of the match stealing the damn show, just kind of walked into it. Considering the WWE appears to finally be getting behind Cesaro a little bit, this was a head-scratcher. A really bizarre choice to end an otherwise really good triple threat match.

Sheamus attacks Randy Orton, nearly cashes in Money in the Bank during title match against Seth Rollins. And what did Cesaro take the pin for? An attempt to add some heat to the dead fish program between Orton and Sheamus. What a waste.

Wrestlemania XXX, Undertaker, Brock LesnarVideo package shows Steve Austin, Triple H, Paul Heyman, and others weighing in on Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar. Again, a smart move to keep ‘Taker and Lesnar off TV until next week’s Raw. That’ll of course be the first time they’ve been in the same building since their brawl the night after Battleground.

The video package was okay. I wish they’d spent more time on guys like Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, and guys that were actually part of “The Streak.” Not to mention Stone Cold Steve Austin, the biggest damn star of the last two decades. Why was he just chiming in? No offense, but I really don’t care what a Kofi Kingston, or even a Dean Ambrose or Roman Reigns, thinks about ‘Taker and Brock. Give me the heavy hitters, the main eventers, the legends.

The more I think about it, the more I’m bothered by Undertaker’s line about Heyman and Lesnar repeatedly bringing up his defeat at Wrestlemania XXX. That didn’t need to be said. In all honesty, this story pretty much writes itself. Brock Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. And now it’s revenge time.

Incidentally, Triple H had a nice line with: “You can’t outrun the reaper.”

WWE Raw, August 10, 2015, Ryback, Daniel BryanDaniel Bryan returns to Raw on Miz TV, Big Show and the returning Ryback crash the segment. It was awesome to see the fans show Bryan that much love. Whether his active wrestling career is over or not, he’s clearly earned a place in the collective heart of wrestling fans. And of course, WWE was likely counting on that, and hoping some of it would rub off on the returning Ryback.

For my money, WWE really needs to tap into those “Please retire!” chants fans are yelling at The Big Show. Hell, if they want Ryback to get over, put him in a title vs. retirement match with Show at a major pay per view. That’d draw some attention.

Brie Bella uses a Daniel Bryan spot during a six-woman tag team match. I wouldn’t have a problem with Brie using Bryan’s trademark kicks to the chest if she were playing a babyface role. But the Bellas and Alicia Fox are supposed to be heels, aren’t they? Discounting the notion that putting them in a match against another heel team is a strange booking decision. But having a heel using a spot that’s normally reserved for one of the company’s top babyfaces seemingly contradicts basic psychology. If you’re a heel, you want to be booed. So with that in mind, why use that spot at all?

Stephen Amell, Raw, August 10, 2015Arrow star Stephen Amell to team with Neville to face Stardust and King Barrett at Summerslam. This is obviously a textbook WWE publicity stunt. But Stephen Amell is obviously an action star, and he’s clearly in amazing shape. So I’m guessing he’ll show us a cool stunt or two.

A lot of fans have why Cody Rhodes has kept the Stardust gimmick as long as he has. I’m guessing this Stephen Amell angle is one of the reasons. Whether you like this or not, at least it gives Stardust, not to mention Neville and Barrett, something to do at Summerslam. These guys are all at the same place on the card, and they have about the same amount of momentum right now. So what harm can it do?

Prime Time Players to defend against The New Day, The Lucha Dragons, and Los Matadores at Summerslam. What happened to The Ascension? They were in the mix, weren’t they? Did they just get cast aside? Eh…maybe it’s better that way. This match is all about The New Day anyway.

Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, WWE Raw, August 10, 2015Luke Harper def. Dean Ambrose. It really feels like they’re trying to recapture some of that Shield vs. Wyatt Family magic here. But it’s just not the same dynamic. All the players are at different places in their careers.

The announcers missed the boat on the fact that this was one of the biggest wins of Luke Harper’s career. Had he gotten a few of these kinds of victories, he might not have floundered as a singles star.

In a perfect world, this whole Roman Reigns/Bray Wyatt feud would culminate in a Hell in a Cell match in October. What’s more, it would be the only cell match on that show. This is the only rivalry they have right now that would be worthy of the cage by October. So I say let’s go for it.

Image 2 from foxxfeed.com. All remaining images courtesy of WWE.com.

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The Undertaker Rises? Plus, WWE Battleground 2015 Predictions

The UndertakerBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The question of whether Battleground is worth watching largely boils down to this: How much credence do you give to a rumor?

This week the rumor mill is aflame with word that The Undertaker, (Yes, The Undertaker!), will be showing up at Battleground to start an angle for Summerslam. Adding fuel to the fire are the number of mentions ‘Taker has gotten on WWE TV lately, including this past week on Raw when Paul Heyman taunted Kane for being “The Undertaker’s baby brother.”

A potential Undertaker appearance obviously heats Battleground up tremendously. And let’s be honest: Battleground is, and always has been, a fairly useless filler pay per view. This year’s show has a bit more going for it, with the much-anticipated match between Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins, and the rubber match between John Cena and Kevin Owens. But the undercard was so cold that icicles were forming around my TV screen. These past few months, WWE as a whole has been almost unbearably stagnant and boring.

Wrestlemania XXX, The UndertakerAn Undertaker appearance has the potential to give the show, and WWE as a whole, a much-needed shake up. But if I’m still on the fence about watching Battleground, I’m not letting a rumor push me one way or the other. You set yourself up for tremendous letdown that way. TELL me ‘Taker’s going to be there, and you’ve sold me. Hell, he’s even got a built-in opponent waiting for him…

But more on that later. First, let’s sift through the mediocrity…

WWE Battleground 2015, King Barrett, R-TruthPRE-SHOW MATCH:
King Barrett vs. R-Truth

I talked about this a couple of weeks ago, but it’s worth noting again: Does Barrett have to wear a crown and robe to the ring? Yes, it’s been done in the past. And yes, we all know he’s English. But he just looks so…stupid! Where did they buy that stuff? Target? I can only assume Barrett is winning this one. But does it really matter at this point? Despite their many talents, both of these men seem to be permanently relegated to jobbing or bad comedy skits.

PREDICTION: King Barrett

WWE Battleground 2015, Prime Time Players, The New DayWWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Prime Time Players (c) vs. The New Day

The Prime Time Players are great babyface champions, and I’m a big fan of theirs. But The New Day had a good thing going as heel tag team champions. When they dropped the belts, they lost a lot of momentum. So it seems like the right thing to do here is put the straps back on Kofi, Big E., and Xavier. If they’re looking for something to do with the tag belts at Summerslam, I wouldn’t be opposed to a 2-out-of-3 falls match, similar to what they did with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro. In the end, The New Day having the titles makes for more compelling television.

PREDICTION: The New Day

WWE Battleground 2015, Randy Orton, SheamusRandy Orton vs. Sheamus

*yawn*

Look, I’m sorry! But these guys just don’t do it for me. From a character perspective, they just don’t have a lot of chemistry. They’re not exactly magic in the ring, either. That’s not a slam on either of them. But at this point, when they’re together it’s like Nyquil. I’m never one to count out a pleasant surprise, but…well…let’s just get this one overwith. I’m going with Orton here, as traditionally the guy with the Money in the Bank briefcase tends to lose a lot before cashing in. Plus, this is kind of a filler match anyway, right? So in the end, does it matter who wins or loses?

PREDICTION: Randy Orton

WWE Battleground 2015, Roman Reigns, Bray WyattRoman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt

These two have a nice hero/villain chemistry, so I enjoy seeing them work together. I just wish their program was a little more focused. At first it looked like it was going to be about Bray getting in Reigns’ head by talking about his family. Then they moved away from that, and it became about Wyatt simply wanting to keep Reigns off the top of the mountain. These past few weeks have been more about general mind games. For the sake of both Reigns and Wyatt, I wish this program had more meat to it. I can only assume they’re going to take this to Summerslam. So we’ll go with Wyatt as the winner here, for the sake of giving Reigns the revenge motive next month.

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt

WWE Battleground 2015, John Cena, Kevin OwensWWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
John Cena (c) vs. Kevin Owens

I imagine this must be frustrating for fans who live to loathe John Cena. WWE intentionally pushed him to the middle of the card to make room in the main event picture for guys like Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. But this feud with Kevin Owens has pushed him right back into the upper card.

At the end of the day, this whole John Cena/US Title scenario has always been about elevating the championship, and the individual who beats Cena for it. So as far as I’m concerned, there’s no way this program doesn’t end with Owens getting the title. The question is, do they pull the trigger now or at Summerslam? These two have been working together several months, but I can’t say I’m tired of them yet. Plus, there is a way to add a fresh new element to this rivalry: Cesaro. Cena and Cesaro have have two really good matches on Raw recently, so he’d be a natural addition to the proceedings. Given the quality of matches these two have had recently, you’ve got to think a triple threat match be a heavy candidate to steal the show.

As for Battleground…I say give it to Cena via a Cesaro interference that costs Owens the match. That way they can start paving the road to a three-way at Summerslam. Another loss won’t hurt Owens. Especially if he’s due to come out on top in the end.

PREDICTION: John Cena

WWE Battleground 2015, Seth Rollins, Brock LesnarWWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Brock Lesnar

This was easily the match I’d have picked to headline Summerslam. The fact that they bumped it up to Battleground might very well be an indicator The Undertaker is returning. There hasn’t necessarily been much fan interest in a Wrestlemania XXX rematch with Brock. And as the biggest babyface in the company, that match might put Brock in an awkward position. Still, I’d pay to see it. It’d also be easy to put ‘Taker with Rollins, as he’s the biggest heel in the company.

But with or without The Undertaker, I see Rollins going over here. If they’re going to switch the title, it’s going to be at Summerslam. This match is either part of a build up to some sort of gimmick match main event next month, or it’s a blow off to put either Lesnar or Rollins with ‘Taker. Either way, there’s little benefit in putting the title on Lesnar at Battleground.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts From Raw:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kevin Owens, Lana, and Other Ponderings From WWE Payback and Raw

Kevin Owens, John Cena 2, Raw, 05182015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Kevin Owens makes his first WWE TV appearance, accepting John Cena’s open challenge. Owens will face Cena at Elimination Chamber. Yet again, the John Cena open challenge segment steals the show. That’s an emphatic statement, not only about the talent Cena’s in the ring with, but Cena himself.

Obviously this segment served two purposes. It was a great promo for NXT Takeover this Wednesday, and it introduced mainstream audiences to Kevin Owens. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen as much of the real-life Kevin Steen’s work as I’d like. But his prize-fighter presentation is great, and he’s obviously got the brash attitude thing down pat. He’s also got a hell of a wit on him. Was he supposed to say he’s been wrestling longer than Cena? If that was off the cuff, then I commend him for his guts.

Kevin Owens, John Cena, Raw, 05182015The really cool thing about that final image of Owens standing on the US Title, and hoisting the NXT Title in the air, is that it meant something. Symbolically, they got what they were looking for. Had that been, say, Kofi Kingston in there during one of his runs with the belt, the image would have fallen flat, and actually hurt the credibility of the US Title. But now that Cena has been having these great matches with it week after week, what Owens did had actual heat to it. It was great build up to what is apparently going to be a match at Elimination Chamber.

It’s surreal that these two are having a match so quickly. But I can’t deny that it’s a must-see, and a great draw for those on the fence about the WWE Network. I’m hoping for a fight, and I’m guissing I won’t be disappointed.

Rusev banishes Lana from his side after she surrenders for him at Payback, later aligns herself with Dolph Ziggler. Rusev has now lost to John Cena on three straight pay per views. But creative seemed to be trying to protect him. They had him render Cena unconscious, which would have given him a win in a traditional submission match.

Lana, Rusev, WWE Raw, 05182015But nevertheless, Rusev is no longer the unstoppable brute he was when 2015 began. And now, they’ve taken away his mouthpiece. I’m still not convinced breaking them up is the right move. In the long run, WWE may have hurt Rusev.

As for what happened between Lana and Dolph Ziggler, I’m curious about what their intentions are. Are they trying to push Ziggler to greater heights by pairing him with the very popular Lana? Or was he put with her because they know he can have great matches with Rusev, and perhaps re-establish him as a monster?

There is, of course, the chance that Lana could end up heeling on Ziggler, and going back to Rusev. I’d be okay with that, but what does that do for Doph? Out of the three parties involved here, I’m most concerned about Dolph, and what this means for his immediate future.

Dean Ambrose granted a WWE Championship match against Seth Rollins at Elimination Chamber. Awesome. Any time these guys get in the ring, it’s magic. Let them main event another pay per view, and let Ambrose continue to prove his worth as a main event-level star.

Tyson Kidd, Raw, 05182015Participants announced for Intercontinental Title and Tag Team Title Elimination Chamber matches. I’m thinking Cesaro & Tyson Kidd will take the tag straps back here. However, I’d love to see the Prime Time Players win it. You’d think from a sheer marketing standpoint, having Titus O’Neil wear gold after winning his Celebrity Dad of the Year award would be a good move. But when you boil it all down, I just find O’Neil and Darren Young really entertaining, and would love to see them get larger roles on television.

As for the Intercontinental Title, Sheamus is the smart bet, whether he looks stupid or not.

Ryback impresses against Bray Wyatt and Sheamus. I was pleasantly surprised with the Ryback/Bray Wyatt match at Payback. Wyatt using his weight against the midsection of the much larger, more muscled Ryback was a good story to tell, and was ultimately a convincing way for him to go over. Ryback also sold it really well, which makes me think he’s been listening to The Steve Austin Show and The Ross Report. Austin and JR have stressed the importance of selling time and time again recent weeks.

Ryback, Sheamus, Raw, 05/18/2015“The Big Guy” also had a strong outing on Raw. I was surprised he cut Stephanie McMahon off on the mic. I’d be curious to know whether that was scripted or not. He then got to show off his strength against Sheamus, catching him with a powerbomb, and gorilla pressing him on to the announce table. Despite losing in both outings, he definitely came out looking like a winner. I don’t expect him to come out of Elimination Chamber with the IC Title. But for my money, his stock is rising.

Neville does an in-ring interview with Renee Young, and gets interrupted and attacked by Bo Dallas. Not bad. Pretty standard babyface stuff. Incidentally, was Renee Young still supposed to be in the ring when Neville asked her about his NXT Championship reign? That was the only problem I had with that portion of the show.

 I like that they’re actually doing something with Bo Dallas. In all honesty, the only things I can remember about his WWE run thus far are his first loss to R-Truth, and when he got beat up by Sting. He’s got a decent character. It just seems like they can’t come up with anything solid for him to do. Putting him with Neville, an opponent he’s fairly familiar with from NXT, is a good way to at least get him some screen time.

Roman Reigns is kept off Raw, advertised for Smackdown. I liked this. Reigns wasn’t shoehorned into anything, and it gave them something worthwhile to put on Smackdown. I’m still wondering when we’re going to get a one-on-one match between Reigns and Seth Rollins on pay per view.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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