Tag Archives: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

Undertaker’s Legacy Inside the Cell: What Awaits Shane at Wrestlemania?

Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon, Wrestlemania XXXIIBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

To their credit, WWE pulled a fast one on us by bringing in Shane McMahon as The Undertaker’s opponent at Wrestlemania XXXII. With control of WWE on the line, Vince booked his son against the Dead Man in a Hell in a Cell Match. In response, The Undertaker told Vince: “You know what I do. The blood of your son is on your hands.”

So what does he mean by that?

Since the match’s creation in 1997, The Undertaker has been in 12 Hell in a Cell Matches. His resume includes four WWE Hall of Famers, and 12 former heavyweight champions. He’s spilled blood, sent opponents sailing off the cage, and even sent one poor sap to the fiery depths. This is what awaits Shane McMahon at Wrestlemania. No wonder he’s training so hard.

So let’s look back at ‘Taker’s Hell in a Cell record. If I were Shane, I know I would be…

WWF Bad Blood 1997, Undertaker, Kane, Shawn MichaelsShawn Michaels
WWF Bad Blood, October 5, 1997.

Leave it to these two to set the bar impossibly high right off the bat.

This match has a special place in the hearts of fans for a variety of reasons. It was the very first Hell in a Cell Match, obviously. The finish famously saw the debut of Kane. But as far as the body of the match is concerned, Undertaker and Shawn had great chemistry, as they seemingly always have. They played that cat and mouse game in the cage really well. This match also marked the first time ‘Taker would throw someone over his shoulder and ram them head-first into the cage, as he’s done in various cell matches since. He also hit Shawn right in the head with one of the hardest, loudest chair shots I’ve ever seen. And of course, you have Shawn’s famous fall through the announce table while hanging off the cage. One can argue this match set the bar too high for these cell matches, considering what Mick Foley would do less than a year later. But you can’t deny the entertainment value of this confrontation. Shawn and ‘Taker took what started off as an experimental take on a cage match, and turned it into an instant box office attraction. As most of us know, ‘Taker lost after Kane’s interference. But needless to say, he’d get plenty of chances to redeem himself in that cage.

RECORD: 0-1

Mick Foley, Hell in a Cell 1998Mankind
WWF King of the Ring, June 28, 1998.

It’s the stuff of legends. While it’s one of the scariest matches WWE has ever put on, it’s also the match that has become synonymous with Hell in a Cell. In many ways, it defined Mick Foley’s career.

Most of us know it by now: A fall off the cage, a fall through the cage, two bumps into thumbtacks, and a Tombstone Piledriver. It’s the kind of match you’d never see today, and quite frankly that’s a good thing. No one should have to put themselves through this sort of thing for the sake of entertainment.

Still, the match has an undeniable magic about it. While you can’t overlook the sheer violence of it, it told an amazing story about a man’s refusal to surrender. For better or worse, Mick Foley made himself into a legend with this match.

RECORD: 1-1

The Undertaker, the Big Bossman, Wrestlemania XVThe Big Bossman
Wrestlemania XV, March 28, 1999.

This one’s better off forgotten, quite frankly. There was no way these two were going to live up to ‘Taker’s matches with Shawn or Foley. I’d have gone with something different.

Both ‘Taker and Bossman were heels. But they were doing a story where ‘Taker was trying to play mind games with Vince McMahon, and Bossman was sent in as his enforcer. It was an odd story to tell, considering Vince was still the company’s top heel at the time.

Two moments have always come to mind when I remember this match. The first is one of the low points of Michael Cole’s career. When talking about the dangers of the cell, he said: “You can get a finger caught in there!” Jerry Lawler rebutted: “After what we saw Mick Foley go through, you’re worried about getting a finger caught in there?”

The second is the post-match image of a defeated Bossman being hung from the raised cell. Considering the real-life Ray Traylor is no longer with us, it’s uncomfortable to see.

RECORD: 2-1

The Undertaker, Rikishi, WWE Armagaddon 2000SIX-MAN CELL MATCH:
WWF Armageddon. December 10, 2000.

Now this is how you end a year. Toss most of your top stars in a cage and let ’em fight for the title! One can argue this match was a precursor to the Elimination Chamber. Though no chamber match has ever been as good as this.

The match featured Kurt Angle defending the title against The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, and Rikishi. Angle eventually pinned The Rock to win. But the moment everyone remembers from this match once again involves ‘Taker once again sending someone for a great fall off the cage. This time, Rikishi was the victim. Prior to the match, Vince McMahon had attempted to stop the proceedings by driving a demolition truck into the arena. The bed of the truck would later be used as a landing site for Rikishi, when Undertaker pushed him off the top of the cage. It was choreographed to look like a chokeslam, but he pushed him. The sight of a 400 lb man falling from that height certainly sticks in your mind.

RECORD: 2-2

The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, WWE No Mercy 2002Brock Lesnar
WWE No Mercy. October 20, 2002.

One can make a solid argument for this being ‘Taker and Brock’s toughest, nastiest battle. It was certainly their bloodiest. WhatCulture.com recently called this match one of WWE’s bloodiest of all time.

This was during the era when Paul Heyman was writing Smackdown, so it’s not surprising that this story had a lot going on. What’s more, Heyman was still managing Brock at this point. ‘Taker’s then-pregnant wife Sara had been used to put heat on Brock and Paul, and make things personal. What’s more, Brock had (kayfabe) broken Undertaker’s hand, which weakened the Dead Man during the match. But on the flip side, ‘Taker was allowed to use the cast as a weapon.

With its sheer violence and bloodshed, this match was one of the earliest to illustrate that Hell in a Cell Matches didn’t have to be about stunts on top of the cage. With the right wrestlers, the really twisted stuff happens inside those walls. While ‘Taker put up as valiant an effort as ever, Brock emerged victorious. Bloody, but victorious.

RECORD: 2-3

The Undertaker vs .Randy Orton, Armageddon 2005Randy Orton
WWE Armageddon. December 18, 2005.

This was a culmination of a year-long program between The Undertaker and Randy Orton. On paper it’s a tremendous main event. But this was the first cell match I can remember seeing and simply going: “Meh.” It was by no means a bad match. But it lacked a certain special something that we’d come to expect from Undertaker’s matches inside the cell.

Still, it had its share of good imagery. Orton was bloodied early on, and there were some nice shots of him getting raked against the cage, and crawling on the mat outside the ring. While it’s not always a thrilling match, it is a nice reminder of just how good Orton was in the early stages of his career. We also had “Cowboy” Bob Orton out there with his son, which added a little garnish to things. A good match, which Undertaker won with the Tombstone. But it lacks a certain something to be called one of his best in the cage.

RECORD: 3-3

Undertaker, Batista, Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series 2007Batista
WWE Survivor Series. November 18, 2007.

As was the case with Orton, Undertaker had been working with Batista on and off since Wrestlemania. But Batista had better chemistry with ‘Taker than I think anyone expected. They were able to being out the best in each other. They stole the show at Wrestlemania XXIII in Detroit, and had been having consistently good matches since. This was essentially their blow-off.

‘Taker put a new spin on an old trick out in this match, placing the thin end of a chair against Batista’s throat and then ramming it into the ring post. Batista later had a nice counter, turning “Old School” into one of his trademark spinebusters. He got a major coup toward the end, hitting his Batista Bomb on The Undertaker through a table. ‘Taker would regain the advantage hitting a Tombstone, and then a second one on the steel ring steps. It had been a battle worthy of their rivalry, until Edge emerged to cost Fittingly, Edge and Undertaker would go on to main event Wrestlemania XXIV, and then find themselves back in the cell almost a year later…

RECORD: 3-4

The Undertaker, Edge, Summerslam 2008Edge
WWE Summerslam. August 17, 2008. 

Undertaker and Edge had done quite a bit leading up to this one. They’d main evented Wrestlemania, they’d had a TLC Match, and now they were trying to cap it off inside the cell. And to their credit, they did just that.

In terms of WWE-style brawls, this match had almost everything. They wasted little time getting to the weapons and chaos. We had steel ring steps, we had a table, we had a chair, and eventually two ladders were introduced. This was almost a hybrid Hell in a Cell/TLC Match. And we saw that vicious heel side to Edge that had emerged since he’d started his now legendary heel run. He even speared Undertaker through the cage wall, and the action spilled on to the outside. Years later, Edge would reveal on Talk is Jericho that he’d wanted to take a Tombstone on top of the cage.

They went for sheer brutality mixed with iconic imagery for the finish to this match. After brutalizing Edge with a chokeslam through two tables, a shot with a TV camera, and “Con-Chair-To,” the Dead Man hit the Tombstone and got the pin. But for the grand finale, ‘Taker would chokeslam Edge from a ladder, through the mat. Moments later, the ring interior would erupt in flames. To cap off a match truly worthy of both The Undertaker’s Hell in a Cell legacy, and the spectacle of Summerslam, the Dead Man had sent his rival straight to hell…

THE RECORD: 4-4

CM Punk, The Undertaker, WWE Hell in a Cell 2009CM Punk
WWE Hell in a Cell. October 4, 2009. 

The first Hell in a Cell pay per view featured an eye-rolling three cell matches. Undertaker and Punk were up first, in what wound up being one of the shorter cell matches ‘Taker has ever been in.

Considering what they’d go on to do at Wrestlemania XXXIX, one has to wonder what ‘Taker and Punk could have done here had they been given more time. But considering what ‘Taker had done in these matches in the past, this was pretty standard by comparison. Granted, they had two more of these matches to go that evening. But come on, it’s The Undertaker…

Still, ‘Taker wound up winning the World Heavyweight Title from Punk that night after a Tombstone. So for Undertaker fans, the result wasn’t something to gripe about.

RECORD: 5-4

The Undertaker, Kane, Paul Bearer, WWE Hell in a Cell 2010Kane
WWE Hell in a Cell. October 3, 2010.

This is another one of those matches that on paper is fantastic, especially if you’re an Undertaker fan. You’ve got Kane defending the World Heavyweight Title against his brother, who has Paul Bearer back in his corner. They’re in a match The Undertaker made famous, and Kane made his debut. They’re free to do just about anything to each other. The pieces are in place for an epic confrontation.

There was nothing epic about this match.

I take no joy in saying that. But this match is a big part of the reason people aren’t clamoring for one last Undertaker/Kane match. These guys were slower than molasses, and in the end just…sad. I’ll give them credit for one thing, though. The finish saw Paul Bearer turn on The Undertaker for what he did to him several years prior in a “Con Crete Crypt Match.” WWE pays attention to continuity when they want to, and in this instance it paid off. It’s just too bad the match didn’t deliver.

RECORD: 5-5

Wrestlemania XXVIII, Undertaker, Triple HTriple H (Guest Referee Shawn Michaels)
Wrestlemania XXVIII. April 1, 2012.

This match was billed as “The End of an Era.” But they could just as easily have called it the Hell in a Cell All-Star Game. The only person who might be considered as synonymous with the cell as The Undertaker is Triple H. Now they were facing off in the cage, with the other pioneer of the cell, Shawn Michaels, as the guest referee. These three simply being in the ring together had an epic quality to it. What’s more, this was ‘Taker’s 20th appearance at Wrestlemania, and the finale of a story they’d been telling at the previous three Wrestlemania events with these iconic stars.

To their credit, they made us believe Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak was truly in jeopardy. Triple H used the steel ring steps, a chair, and his trademark sledgehammer on the Dead Man. But the one spot that really sticks out in this match is the one where Shawn superkicks ‘Taker, sending him straight into a Pedigree from Triple H. When ‘Taker kicks out, Shawn looks absolutely terrified, as if he’s just witnessed something supernatural. He’s one of the best actors the business has ever seen.

And of course, after ‘Taker’s win, the three of them walked up the ramp together, bringing tears to the eyes of many a fan who grew up watching them perform. What a match, and what a moment in Wrestlemania history.

RECORD: 6-5

Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, WWE Hell in a Cell 2015Brock Lesnar
WWE Hell in a Cell. October 25, 2015. 

Over 18 years after his first cell match, I’m amazed ‘Taker is still having these matches, much less against somebody like Brock Lesnar. But low and behold, there he was. And they even surprised us by getting some color.

More than anything, I remember just how snug these guys were in this match. Lesnar in particular was just beating the crap out of ‘Taker. And early in the match he hits him with a chair shot that’s pretty stiff.

Midway through the match, Brock rips up the canvas and padding on the ring, exposing the wood underneath. That’s something we hardly ever see, and it’s a unique sight to be certain. They played it up, as ‘Taker gave Brock a chokeslam and a Tombstone on it. But in the end, they tied this story up nicely with a bow, as Brock gave ‘Taker a dose of his own medicine. The Dead Man had been gaining unfair advantages over Brock for months by hitting low blows. But on this night, Brock hit ‘Taker below the belt, got an F5 on the exposed wood, and the pin. Not the best Hell in a Cell Match by any means, but it gets points for being hard-hitting.

RECORD: 6-6

Images 1 and 3 from ringthedamnbell.blogspot.com. Image 2 from prowrestling.wikia.com. Image 4 from natureinyourhand.blogspot.com. Images 5, 6, 11 and 12 from wwe.com. Image 7 from pwpnation.com. Image 8 from mediaspo0rt.com. Images 9 and 10 from bleacherreport.com. 

Saying No to Del Rio, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Before we get into Raw this week, I’d like to debut a new feature for these weekly reviews.

Now more than ever, Raw has entirely too many overrun by six-man tags. Last week we had an appalling three six-man matches in one show. It’s a sure-fire sign of lazy booking, in my opinion. So from now on, at the end of each review we’re going to make a point of counting how many six-man tags were on the show in question. It will appear at the bottom of the review each week.

Alberto Del Rio, WWE Hell in a Cell 2015Ponderings From Raw:

Alberto Del Rio wins United States Championship at Hell in a Cell, with Zeb Colter at his side. Boy, is it difficult to articulate in human English just how much I hated this. What an awful move.

Just to be clear: I don’t hate Del Rio. He’s an excellent wrestler, he still looks great, and he’s done some good stuff for WWE. But he’s also been part of some mind-numbingly boring television. Part of the reason for that is because his personality, for my money, has been so one-dimensional. And yet, because WWE feels like they desperately need a big Hispanic star, Del Rio is back.

So what’s with this Mex-Americans thing? Del Rio condescendingly referred to Neville as an immigrant before their match. So I assume they’re going for a hypocritical heel angle with he and Zeb Colter. That’s a little awkward. But in all fairness, let’s give the angle the story some time to breathe.

WWE Raw, October 26, 2015, Seth Rollins, Roman ReignsAfter defeating Bray Wyatt in a Hell in a Cell match, Roman Reigns becomes the top contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. So is Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns our main event for Survivor Series next month, or TLC in December? I ask because the match isn’t listed on WWE.com as part of the Survivor Series card.

I assume they’re putting Reigns back in the title picture to plant the seed for him being involved in a title match at Wrestlemania somehow. I can only assume they wouldn’t be dumb enough to have him win the Royal Rumble Match again, but WWE obviously wants him in a top spot. There’s been speculation about Rollins vs. Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar, which would be an interesting follow up to what happened in last year’s main event. Either way, hopefully this is part of a long-term plan that takes us toward Wrestlemania in Dallas.

After losing to Brock Lesnar at Hell in a Cell, The Undertaker is carried out by The Wyatt Family. After a speech from Bray on Raw, the same happens to Kane. Bray’s promo didn’t do much for me. We didn’t find out where they took Undertaker, or what exactly was done to him. It was just a lot of lip service about the demise of ‘Taker’s soul. Bray’s motivation here is rather obvious. The Undertaker beat him at Wrestlemania. Much like ‘Taker vs. Lesnar, it’s a simple revenge story that they’re overcomplicating.

Kane, Raw, October 26, 2015And now we’ve got Kane in the mix. Interestingly, after Hell in a Cell ended, Jim Ross tweeted about a possible match for Survivor Series featuring The Wyatt Family against The Undertaker, Kane, & Sting. That’s a hell of an idea, assuming Sting is ready to get physical again. But I think a more likely main event would be Seth Rollins and The Wyatt Family against The Undertaker, Kane, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and if not Sting then another babyface the WWE brass are fond of. Ryback comes to mind. That’d be a hell of a nod to the classic Survivor Series format, and it could tell a great story if The Undertaker is left standing alone against some of the Wyatts.

Tyler Breeze debuts on Smackdown alongside Summer Rae, appears at ringside during Dolph Ziggler’s match with Big E. It’s looking like Breeze is getting a strong start. He’s got Dolph Ziggler as his first opponent, so he’s bound to have some good matches. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s being paired with Summer Rae either.

Tyler Breeze, Summer Rae, WWE Raw, October 26, 2015But you know who else got a strong start? Bo Dallas and Neville. And look where they are now. I don’t want to put a damper on Breeze’s debut, but when some of these guys (or girls) leave NXT, they get lost in the shuffle on Raw and simply become roster fillers. In some cases that’s their fault for not being able to make the most of their opportunities. But in other cases it’s WWE’s fault for simply not knowing how best to use some of these talents. Does Bo Dallas have what it takes to be a big star? Who knows. But they definitely could have made him into something more than a jobber.

So good luck, Breeze. You just might need it.

Paige turns on Charlotte and Becky Lynch following loss to Team Bella. So Paige is officially a heel now, finally finishing the rocky journey that started with her wannabe “Pipe Bomb” promo several weeks ago. The crowd still doesn’t seem to want to boo her entirely. I suspect a portion of the male audience will always be into what she does. But at least now they’ve got her acting like a full-fledged villain.

Kevin Owens, Cesaro, WWE Raw, October 26, 2015Kevin Owens def. Cesaro. The best thing Cesaro can do at this point is continue to have great matches. Like Dolph Ziggler, he must be so good that it’s impossible for WWE to ignore him. Allegedly, Vince McMahon finds him boring. Clearly, San Diego had a different opinion this week.

Stone Cold Steve Austin appears in backstage segment promoting WWE 2K16. Ugh. Why do they do this to us? Why create even the faintest glimmer of hope that somehow he’ll stay?

Six-Man Tally: 2

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

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

But hey, one problem at a time…

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

I hate this match. I hate it so much.

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

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

PREDICTION: Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, & Neville

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Charlotte

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

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

PREDICTION: The New Day

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Kevin Owens

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, Seth Rollins, KaneSTIPULATION MATCH FOR WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Kane
If Rollins wins, Corporate Kane loses his job as director of operations.

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

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

What a damn waste…

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

WWE Hell in a Cell 2015, John CenaWWE UNITED STATES TITLE OPEN CHALLENGE:
John Cena vs. ?

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Not John Cena

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

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Bray Wyatt

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION: The Undertaker

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

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

In fact, let’s dive right into that…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images courtsey of WWE.com.

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

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

Ponderings From WWE Raw:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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