Tag Archives: Wrestlemania XXXI

WWE Clash of Champions 2019 Predictions, Plus, The Fiend vs. The Undertaker?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

So what’s the “proper” way to make use of icons like Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Undertaker?

I ask because WWE had them both on television this week. Austin on Raw, ‘Taker on Smackdown. In Madison Square Garden, no less. They both interacted with the current roster, which is what you’d hope they’d do. Austin was in there with Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, and the OC. Undertaker, on the other hand, had a nice little segment with Sami Zayn. There was one name, however, that got zero screen time with the Rattlesnake or the Dead Man. A name that many were hoping to see.

That would be Bray Wyatt. Specifically as “the Fiend.” Given his attacks on the likes of Mick Foley, Kurt Angle, and Jerry Lawler, it seemed like a gift-wrapped opportunity to make Austin or Undertaker the next in line.

To their credit, they went out of their way to have Bray talk about Austin in a Firefly Funhouse segment on Raw. Wyatt said that his previous victims took something from him in the past, and “practically invoked the Fiend.” But Austin was “just an old rattlesnake.” I’m not sure I follow his logic there. Bray was on Raw while Angle was the GM, so you can assume he feels Angle wronged him in some way. But what did Foley and Lawler ever do to Bray Wyatt?

But hey, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. The sane can’t very well follow the thought process of the insane, can they? But you know who definitely took something from Bray Wyatt? The Undertaker. And he did it in front of the world, at Wrestlemania 31. Then he did it again at Survivor Series in November, when ‘Taker and Kane beat the Wyatt Family in a Handicap Match.

Did the Fiend need to attack Undertaker on Smackdown? No, of course not. Bray has as much momentum now as he ever has. More than anyone in the entire company, for that matter. But not everyone gets to put their hands on the Undertaker. And unlike with Austin, a confrontation between Bray Wyatt and the Undertaker can lead to a match at some point.

To me? What that adds up to is a missed opportunity.

Now, let’s look at Clash of Champions

Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan

This one’s not for a title. That’s how I justify putting it first. Come at me.

Unless a drastic swerve is in our future, this is obviously all leading to a big Reigns vs. Bryan match. Bryan and Rowan have been in on this together from the start, which we may learn during or after this match.

In terms of revealing Bryan as the mastermind behind the attacks on Roman, it really doesn’t matter who wins here. But despite the little push he’s gotten lately, I can’t see Roman Reigns losing a pay per view match to Erick Rowan. So I’m going with “the Big Dog” on this one.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

TRIPLE-THREAT MATCH FOR WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE:
Drew Gulak (c) vs. Lince Dorado vs. Humberto Carrillo

I confess, I’m more or less flying blind on this one. I haven’t seen much of 205 Live lately. And with all due respect, I suspect I’m not in the minority there…

So I know there’s a personal issue between Gran Metalik and Humberto Carrillo. Carrillo seems to be the one they’re grooming as the babyface star of the Cruiserweight Division. Meanwhile, Gulak, while certainly a credible champion, is simply the one with the belt.

I imagine they’re going to want to change a few belts on this show simply based on its theme. So I’m going to pull a wild card here and pick Lince Dorado to win. In addition to the stuff with Carrillo, they can create an issue with the other members of Lucha House Party if Dorado starts acting more like a heel.

PREDICTION: Lince Dorado

WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (c) vs. Fire and Desire

Given what Sasha Banks has said about the Women’s Tag Team Titles since she returned, it makes all the sense in the world for the winner of this match to wind up facing Sasha and Bayley down the road. Especially if this show goes the way I think it’s going to.

That being said, as Sasha and Bayley are heels, it seems unlikely that Mandy and Sonya would be the ones to face them. That leaves Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. Apparently, by virtue of her association with Nikki, Alexa is now a babyface. But don’t expect that to last…

Here’s what I see happening: Bliss and Cross retain here. That leads to a title match against Sasha and Bayley, who seek to hold all the female championships in WWE. The outcome of that match can lead to a rift between Alexa and Nikki, and the inevitable feud between the two.

PREDICTION: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross

WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Big E. and Xavier Woods (c) vs. The Revival

Since the implementation of the “Wild Card Rule,” Raw wrestlers have been able to challenge for Smackdown titles, and vice versa. It has yet to be explained what happens if a wrestler from one show wins a title from the other. If we know this company at all, it’s because they haven’t thought that far ahead yet. But if I get my way, we’ll at least see the situation arise as a result of this match.

I like this Randy Orton/Revival alliance. It makes sense, in that Orton fits with Dash and Dawson’s “No Flips, Just Fists” mentality. I’d like to see them stay together. Winning the Smackdown Tag Titles could result in them being moved to that show permanently. But more importantly, the New Day have long since obtained “Been There, Done That” status regarding tag titles of any kind. What more could they possibly have to prove? They’re six-time tag champs, and are the longest reigning Raw Tag Team Champions of all time. This just feels like old hat at this point. So lets put the titles on the Revival and see how they do against, say…Heavy Machinery?

PREDICTION: The Revival

WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs. The Miz

Once again, a Raw wrestler challenging for a Smackdown Title. Though this time, we don’t need to worry about a title change.

Yes, there’s a built-in story here with Miz wanting to set the record for most IC Title reigns. But I don’t see him taking it from Nakamura, who after being lost in the shuffle for far too long, may finally have a winning act with Sami Zayn as his mouthpiece. That’s not to say Zayn has to help Nakamura win. I think a clean win for the champion is perfectly fine here. The simple fact is, Miz has lost a lot of momentum since his program with Shane McMahon, and he has yet to fully recover. Going heel, which has always been the role he’s best in, might just be the way to turn things around for him.

PREDICTION: Shinsuke Nakamura

WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles (c) vs. Cedric Alexander

AJ Styles never did wind up dropping the US Title back to Ricochet. That’s a downer for yours truly, as I think Ricochet was a fine US Champ, albeit for the mere few weeks he had it. But of course, it’s hard to complain about Styles being a champion of any kind. And that brings us here, and to Cedric Alexander.

On paper, Ricochet and Alexander aren’t all that different. They’re both high-flying standouts from other shows now trying to establish credibility on the main roster. (I don’t consider 205 Live a main roster show. Just my opinion.) Ricochet would lose the belt to Styles, but ultimately come out of their encounters looking like a star capable of holding his own as a singles star on Raw. They’re now trying to paint Cedric with those same colors. But does that mean he has to beat AJ?

For my money, the answer is no. At least not yet. This, I think, is the match where they put on a great show, but ultimately Gallows and Anderson run in to either cause a DQ, or cost Cedric the match. While Cedric is an amazing athlete and wrestler, I’m still not sold on how much mainstream star power he actually has. Maybe some more mic time will help in that respect. Either way, Styles keeps the belt here.

PREDICTION: AJ Styles

WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair

Alright. They did it. They actually did it. They pulled the trigger on a Bayley heel turn. And a pretty good one, for my money. At least so far. The outcome of this match will be telling in that respect.

Charlotte Flair can win the Raw or Smackdown Women’s Championship on any given night. While I don’t think the detractors who compare her to Roman Reigns are being fair, that is one that’s justified. Both have simply reached that status. But I think if they want to keep hammering this Bayley heel turn, which they should, she needs to win the match by cheating. Thus, Bayley becomes the moralistic, yet hypocritical champion. That’s a really interesting role for her, and I think a very natural segue from the “hugger” character she played before.

PREDICTION: Bayley

WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH:
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks

Great heroes aren’t truly great until they’ve beaten great villains. We hear some version of that all the time. Superman needs Lex Luthor and Brainiac. Batman needs the Joker and Two-Face. Stone Cold needed Mr. McMahon and the Rock. The problem that’s plagued Becky Lynch since Wrestlemania is that she hasn’t had any many (if any) great villains to work with. Yes, she and Charlotte were great together. But that was short-term. Lacey Evans wasn’t established enough to fit that bill. They tried hard with Natalya. But that didn’t work either.

But things were different once Sasha Banks came back. Now, for the first time since Wrestlemania, it feels like Becky has found a truly worthy opponent.

I’ve let my distaste for Sasha Banks be known for quite awhile now. She’s an amazing wrestler, but she’s always come off like an entitled brat. Part of the problem, I think, is that she’s been miscast as a babyface for so long. This woman is simply a natural heel. While she may idolize Eddie Guerrero, from a personality standpoint, she’s more akin to a Ric Flair or a Ted DiBiase. Or for a more modern example, an MJF or CM Punk. She’s simply better on the dark side. It’s amazing that she hasn’t had the chance to play one on the main roster until now.

Ultimately, I think she’s Becky’s next big rival. And that’s why the time has come for “the Man” to drop the title. By hook or by crook (preferably by crook), Sasha Banks walks out of Clash of Champions with the Raw Women’s Title. And with Bayley in possession of the Smackdown Title, the two can go after the Women’s Tag Titles and hold all the gold. The so-called Boss n Hug Connection could very well become the Boss n Hug Dynasty.

PREDICTION: Sasha Banks

WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Randy Orton

The outcome of this match largely depends on whether they want to take this to Hell in a Cell next month. Given their decade-long history, I’d say Kofi and Orton are worthy of the cage. The only question is whether Kofi enters as champion.

I say we let Kofi keep the title. Have the Revival and the other New Day members mess around at ringside, leading to a questionable finish. Ergo, we go to the cage next month to keep all the interference out. They can even have Randy talk about all the horrible things he’s done to people inside the Cell, specifically Jeff Hardy last year.

PREDICTION: Kofi Kingston

WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman (c) vs. Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler

I like this story. You’ve got the Universal Champion and his challenger as the reluctant tag champs, having to defend both titles on the same night. And as far as I can remember, they’re correct to market it as something that has never been done before.

Supposedly, the reason it’s Roode and Ziggler challenging is because Paul Heyman, the legit Executive Director of Raw, is a fan of Roode’s. I’ve got no issue with that. Roode’s a hell of a talent. And Ziggler once again has the task of helping somebody get over.

There’s an argument to be made for letting Rollins and Strowman retain here. It keeps both strong for the Universal Title Match later on. But of course, it’s most likely an easy way to get the belts off them. Some sort of distraction or miscommunication causes Rollins to take the Glorious DDT from Roode, and get pinned. Not only does that put the belts on Roode and Ziggler, but that allows Roode to say he pinned the Universal Champion. Not a bad night for him at all…

PREDICTION: Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler

WWE UNIVERSAL HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Braun Strowman

While I like the story being told here, the pairing of Rollins and Strowman is somewhat baffling. Because it likely means Braun Strowman has to lose a high profile title match yet again. And even if he wins, he likely drops it next month at Hell in a Cell anyway. So why put him with Rollins in the first place?

Unless they go with some kind of disputed finish here, or maybe a DQ, I can only assume Seth Rollins somehow wins. Perhaps the Fiend makes his presence felt during the match, which distracts his former Wyatt Family brother Braun, allowing Seth to get the victory? Either way, I don’t see Rollins leaving Clash without the belt.

Unfortunately, that takes him into the waiting arms of Bray Wyatt at Hell in a Cell next month…

PREDICTION: Seth Rollins

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

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Wrestlemania Predictions: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we? Specifically, let’s look at the headline matches for the last three Wrestlemania cards…

Wrestlemania 31: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship. While they actually wind up having a damn good match, the crowd isn’t buying Roman as the lead babyface. So they get out of it by having Seth Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.

Wrestlemania 32: Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship. Not helped by the fact that the show had gone way too long, this match made me contemplate giving up wrestling. Despite going against Triple H and the McMahon family, Roman still isn’t accepted as the conquering hero. The crowd is both tired and apathetic.

Wrestlemania 33: The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns. Going a different route, WWE puts Roman in and old guard/new guard match against the Dean Man. Roman wins, but the highlight of the night is Undertaker’s apparent retirement when the match is over. The next night, Reigns announces “This is my yard now,” to massive boos.

And here we are at Wrestlemania 34. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship. Anybody want to take a swing at who’s going over?

After all this time, I think a good portion of online smarks have gained a certain respect for Roman. It’s not like he’s out there stinking up the joint. He puts on good matches. I’m sure we’ll get a good match here. But it’s pretty remarkable when you look at all those Wrestlemania headliners back to back, and all the different ways Vince McMahon has tried to make Roman “the guy.”

Ironically, it might have worked if he hadn’t pushed so hard…

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

(For more predictions, check out our look at the Kick-Off Show matches, some of the title matches, the matches involving the women, and the WWE Championship Match.)

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

WWE’s Most Fascinating People of 2015

Barbara Walters, Caitlyn JennerBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s time once again for us to rip off Barbara Walters.

Each year, the iconic journalist does her list of the “Most Fascinating People” of the year. This year, this list was topped by none other than Olympian turned reality TV star Caitlyn Jenner. She was joined by the likes of Bradley Cooper, Amy Schumer, Ronda Rousey, as well as American presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

Those are all great choices…they’re just not in my wheelhouse, per se.

At the risk of going with a cliche, WWE has had more than its share of ups and downs this year. WWE’s chosen one, Roman Reigns, spent most of the year being rejected by the fans. But even so, Wrestlemania XXXI was the best one the company has put on in several years, and we got a brand new main event star out of the deal: Seth Rollins. With The Authority watching his back, Rollins defended the title most of the year against the likes of Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, Sting, among others. But when Rollins went down with an injury in the fall, Reigns would finally rebound and take the title…only to have it stolen from him by Sheamus. But as we saw last week, Reigns won out in the end.

That’s a highly abbreviated version of the year though. For a more in-depth analysis, let’s once again check out WWE’s Most Fascinating People of 2015.

WWE Extreme Rules 2015, Roman Reigns1. Roman Reigns

There’s no denying “the Big Dog” had a tough year. For quite some time, he’s been groomed to be WWE’s next top star. But in the modern era, when WWE fans feel someone or something is being force-fed to them, it goes straight into the “reject” pile. For the second year in a row, fans hijacked the Royal Rumble match because Daniel Bryan wasn’t the focal point, and Reigns took the brunt of the abuse. Still, the company stayed the course. Reigns told a hell of a story with Brock Lesnar in the main event of Wrestlemania before Seth Rollins cashed in and swiped the title. Reigns spent much of the year having his every mood scrutinized by the fans. To be fair, much of it was justified. Instead of being allowed to be himself and develop organically, Reigns was heavily produced, and often forced to deliver cringeworthy dialogue. Perhaps that’s why, when he finally won the title, Reigns was cheered by the same Philadelphia fans that booed him out of the building at the Royal Rumble. Vince McMahon and WWE had tried to force a square peg into a round hole all year. And while the struggle isn’t over by any means, seeing Reigns finally get a career win after all he’d been through made for a feel-good moment.

But now the question is: Now that he’s accomplished his goal, where does Roman Reigns go from here? Back to the main event of Wrestlemania, perhaps?

Seth Rollins, Raw, August 31, 20152. Seth Rollins

From an in-story perspective, Seth Rollins was the man in 2015. He left Wrestlemania XXXII as the company’s top heel, and since he went down with a knee injury, no one has been able to fill his shoes. Despite being forced to cut long, drawn out promos to fill time on all those three-hour Raw episodes, his smarmy, whiney persona was ideal for a lead villain role. In addition, Rollins was more than capable of delivering great matches against big names like John Cena, Brock Lesnar, and Randy Orton. Those two factors combined drew many a comparison between Rollins and the Shawn Michaels of late ’97 and early ’98. The continuation of Rollins’ on-screen rivalry with Jon Stewart was also one of the company’s biggest publicity grabs of the year.

Like him or not, Seth Rollins became a big money ball player in 2015. The smart bet is that when he returns, he’ll be hearing cheers.

Kevin Owens, Finn Balor, WWE Beast in the East, July 4, 20153. Kevin Owens

The Slammy Award for “Break Out Star of the Year” may have gone to Neville, Kevin Owens was unquestionably the best NXT call up of the year.

Less than a year after the real-life Kevin Steen signed with WWE, he made his main roster debut (as the NXT Champion no less), and immediately began a program with John Cena. Owens went on to beat Cena in his first WWE pay per view match. While he would lose the two rematches to follow, his dry and condescending demeanor combined with his obvious in-ring prowess proved he was more than worthy of a main roster spot. In September, Owens defeated Ryback to win the Intercontinental Championship. While Owens has had his share of critics, primarily due to his body type, his success has been undeniable. Roughly a year and a half after signing with WWE, he rose to the top of NXT, won the NXT Championship, was promoted to the main roster for a program with the company’s flag bearer, won the Intercontinental Championship, and has spent the last few months working with the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose. Barring some unforeseen and unfortunate turn of events, it’s looking like Kevin Owens is here to stay. And WWE fans are better off for that.

Charlotte, Raw, November 23, 20154. Charlotte

Long before the “Divas Revolution” on Raw, there was a women’s wrestling revolution on NXT. One of the names at the heart of that revolution was Charlotte, daughter of Ric Flair. The real-life Ashley Fliehr wowed audience with her natural athleticism, and knack for wrestling. Both fans and insiders knew it was only a matter of time before she made it to the main roster.

On July 13, Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch all showed up on Raw to begin what became known as the Divas Revolution. While fans could come to debate just how revolutionary the whole thing was, Charlotte’s talent was undeniable. To a large extent, she became the face of the Divas Revolution. She became the first of the new female talents to strike gold at Night of Champions, besting Nikki Bella to win the Divas Title. Now, fans are starting to see a new side of Charlotte. It seems the Nature Boy’s daughter may be taking after him in terms of cheating to win. This will undoubtedly put her at odds with her cohort Becky Lynch, and lead to more than a few intriguing match ups in the near future. Charlotte is right where WWE wants her to be right now. At this point, it’s simply a matter of growth and maturation.

And while we’re on the subject of women’s wrestling in WWE…

Sasha Banks, WWE TLC 20155. Sasha Banks

Sadly, Sasha Banks comes into this list under that Dolph Ziggler-type banner of talents who should be doing awesome, but aren’t.

There’s an argument to be made that Sasha Banks is the best female wrestler in North America right now, if not the world. As she was winding down in NXT, she had two amazing matches with Bayley for the Women’s Championship, the latter being a classic 30-minute Iron Man Match. Thus, when she arrived on Raw with Charlotte and Becky Lynch on July 15, Sasha had perhaps more buzz surrounding her than any of her peers. And yet she was lumped in with Tamina and Naomi as part of Team BAD, and has stayed there ever since. To be fair, she’s very much the star of the group. But fans have been anxiously anticipating the moment when she breaks away as a singles star. There’s been some buzz lately that Sasha may end up wrestling Charlotte for the title at Wrestlemania, which might just make the wait worthwhile. But until then, we’re left to simply wait and hope…

Sting, Raw, September 14 ,20156. Sting

This was the year wresting fans had waited so long for. At long last, Sting was wrestling for WWE. His first, and perhaps only match for WWE would be at Wrestlemania XXXI against Triple H. It wasn’t necessarily the dream match people were hoping for, but it was epic enough to satisfy their appetite for Sting to have at least one big moment under the WWE umbrella…and then he lost.

On his DVD, Sting said he was fine with losing, as he wanted to go out on his back, per that “time honored tradition” we’ve heard about before. But the fans weren’t looking for that here. The hope was that Sting would win and get his moment in the sun. But alas, it wasn’t to be. He didn’t get his win when he challenged Seth Rollins for the WWE Title at Night of Champions either. Instead, he not only lost, but he injured his neck after taking two buckle bombs. So now, not only has Sting not gotten his moment in the sun, but he may never wrestle again.

At this point, the pertinent question seems to be: Was it even worth it?

WWE Raw, October 12, 2015, The New Day7. The New Day

The Philadelphia fans turning around on Roman Reigns was a big deal. But for my money, it doesn’t hold a candle to the turnaround The New Day has experienced.

When 2015 kicked off, Kofi Kingston, Big E., and Xavier Woods were a lame white-meat babyface group, which the fans were crapping on every week. And justifiably so. The New Day concept had little substance to it. It was essentially just three enthusiastic, smiley guys. It’s still unclear to me whether the eventual heel turn was planned or not. But when that turn came, a whole new life was breathed into this group. As heels, nothing was off the table. They were allowed to be as goofy and flamboyant as they wanted, and that resulted in them becoming a genuinely entertaining team. Ironically, they’ve hearing been hearung cheers for months now. One can argue they’re not even heels anymore. I can only imagine an official babyface turn is forthcoming. The cool thing about that is they don’t even have to change their act. As long as they keep having fun, they should have a place on TV for the foreseeable future.

WWE Raw, June 15, 2015, Sheamus8. Sheamus

Sheamus did not have the year that any of us were hoping he’d have. The sad thing is, it’s really not his fault. It has more to do with creative.

Wrestling fans let out a collective groan when Sheamus won this year’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match. I think the consensus as far as Sheamus being WWE Champion was, “Been there, done that.” I’m not sure there was an ideal choice in that ladder match, but Sheamus wasn’t the guy to build that kind of intrigue around. Especially when after Money in the Bank, he went on to have a dull-as-dirt feud with Randy Orton. It seems like fans spent most of the year wondering how WWE was going to get themselves out of the Sheamus situation, as opposed to whether he was going to win the belt.

Still, they went ahead and pulled the trigger on Sheamus at Survivor Series, only to take the belt off of him about a month later. I suppose we can give them credit for trying. But hindsight being 20/20, Sheamus wasn’t the guy to go with heading into Wrestlemania XXXII. That’s not to say he can’t ever be that caliber a star. But he wasn’t particularly hot when he with the briefcase, and he was even less so when he won the title. So I’m not sure what they expected was going to happen…

WWE Raw, November 9, 2015, Cesaro, Sheamus9. Cesaro

An optimist might say Cesaro was on the verge of finally starting to break out as a big singles star when he got hurt in November. A realist, on the other hand, would say it was simply another start-and-stop push. As far as Cesaro is concerned, I’m a realist.

The fans were ready for Cesaro to break out last year at Wrestlemania XXX. But a series of bad decisions put the kibosh on that. This year, he gained some traction after Vince McMahon said on a Stone Cold Podcast that Cesaro wasn’t connecting with the fans, and a backlash ensued. “The Swiss Superman” won the tag team titles with Tyson Kidd, but the team abruptly ended when Kidd was injured. Cesar segued into another singles run, where he gained and lost momentum depending on what week it was. Cesar would be a different kind of attraction, that’s for certain. But if and when WWE decides to pull the trigger on this guy, they’ll have something. Though frankly, the more time goes by, the less likely a Cesaro push becomes.

The Undertaker, 201510. The Undertaker

The Undertaker making this list in 2015? Yup. That’s a thing. But to his credit, he earned it.

Coming into 2015, we weren’t quite sure what was going on with The Undertaker. He hadn’t been seen since Brock Lesnar broke his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania XXX. One theory was that he was done. Given the injuries he sustained in that match with Lesnar, the safer option might have been to hang it up. But ‘Taker did deserve a swan song…

But that’s not what we got in 2015. The Dead Man came back at Wrestemania XXXI to vanquish Bray Wyatt, and then reappeared at Breaking Ground to cost Brock Lesnar the WWE Championship. They followed that up by main eventing Summerslam, and then stepping back inside Hell in a Cell. While ‘Taker ultimately lost his war with Lesnar, he did have a nice night at Survivor Series, celebrating his 25th anniversary with WWE by teaming with Kane to defeat Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper.

There’s been a lot of speculation about whether Wrestlemania XXXII will feature The Undertaker’s last match. With the event being in ‘Taker’s home state of Texas, it certainly wouldn’t be a bad time. But if this year showed us anything, it’s that at 50 plus years of age, The Undertaker can still go. So if he’s still got as much passion for the business and a desire to perform, who are we to tell him to go? As far as I’m concerned, The Undertaker can stick around as long as he wants. I certainly won’t complain.

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

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Hulk Hogan’s Racist Rant, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Hulk Hogan, modernBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s tough not to feel sorry for Hulk Hogan at this point.

We’re several days removed from a piece of the verbal transcript from Hulk Hogan’s sex tape, of all things, being released. I won’t put it up here, but it’s filled with the N-word, in the context of men his daughter Brooke might have been dating at the time. Subsequently, the media has been all over Hogan, and he has been released from his WWE contract.

Needless to say, that kind of racist language in 2015 is unacceptable in any context. I can’t say I feel sorry for Hogan in that respect.

Where my sympathy comes in is the way fame, and ultimately greed, have destroyed the real-life Terry Bollea and his family. In the past 10 years we’ve seen this man divorced and dragged through the mud by his wife of over two decades, stuck in the center of the infamous scandal involving his son Nick and the Graziano family, exposed via the release of a sex tape, and now this.

Hulk Hogan, Susan G. Komen For the CureOne of the truly sad things about all this is that on the surface, Hogan seemed to have finally arrived at a secure, content place in his life. He’d settled into an ambassador role with WWE, and had developed a public persona that was perhaps more dignified, as he worked with organizations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and made rare television appearances for WWE.

And now, he’s culturally blacklisted.

In the end, I can only hope that Terry Bollea doesn’t truly hold this kind of racial hatred in his heart. If he does, than he’s truly someone to be pitied. Some things are worth more than one’s professional life or public image…

Thoughts From Raw:

Undertaker and Brock Lesnar absent from Raw. Not a big surprise that neither man was on TV this week. Last week was so good that it’d be a shame to water it down with too many appearances by these guys. For my money, we were actually getting to a point where Brock was on TV too much. Nothing tarnishes a “special attraction” like too much TV time.

The Undertaker, WWE RawSome fans have been lamenting WWE bringing in Undertaker to sell Summerslam, while they cut the legs out from under talents like Cesaro and Kevin Owens. That’s a fair point, to be certain. But does anybody actually doubt that Lesnar vs. Undertaker will attract more fans than say, Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins? If I’m a WWE guy (or girl), I’m taking advantage of those additional eyes on Summerslam, and doing everything I can to stand out from the pack. I won’t deny that the talent pool might be getting a bad hand here, especially considering Lesnar is also a part-time guy. But what other choice do they have at this point than to simply do their best?

WWE announces Summerslam will be four hours long. I’m in favor of this, so long as they use the extra time well. Either give the midcard some extra time to show off, or give some pay per view matches to talents that might not normally get it (See Stardust and Neville below.). As we see with Raw every week, more time isn’t always a good thing. I it gives the show a little more room to breathe, it could work out for the better.

John Cena def. Seth Rollins, Cena suffers broken nose during match. Um, ouch. Hey, on the bright side, nothing adds drama to a match like a little blood. And to his credit, Cena took a moment or two to get his bearings, but then got right back into the swing of things. The guy’s a champion, like him or not.

John Cena, Seth Rollins, WWE Raw, July 27, 2015As for the booking of the match, I never understand why they do this kind of thing. The idea is obviously to have Rollins go against Cena at Summerslam. So why put them against each other on free TV? Granted, they’ve wrestled a bunch of times on Raw in the past. But it’s been quite awhile. Why remind the audience they’ll be paying for something they could easily get on Raw?

Sasha Banks def. Paige. Charlotte & Becky Lynch def. The Bella Twins. I’ll say this for the so-called “Divas Revolution,” it has me interested in the women’s segments for the first time in quite awhile. We saw some really nice wrestling from Paige and Sasha Banks in particular tonight. If they ever decided to put two girls in the main event of Raw again, this match could be a great candidate.

To their credit, all these ladies look like they’re trying to make the most of this added emphasis. Naturally, some of them are a bit better equipped for that than others (Read: Paige and the NXT girls.)…

Bray Wyatt officially welcomes Luke Harper back into The Wyatt Family. Like a lot of Bray Wyatt’s promos, this one went on a little too long. Particularly when he started talking about his “pet.” But once he gave the mic to Harper, the segment regained some of its life. Ironically, giving Harper a little bit of Bray’s spotlight is what they should have done before he was set free.

Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, July 27, 2015At this point, it looks like we’re headed toward a straight up tag team match at Summerslam. pitting Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose against The Wyatt Family. If they are going to make it a six-man involving Sting, we’ll need to see a new Wyatt Family member added sooner rather than later. Bo Dallas, the real-life brother of Wyatt, seems like the obvious choice. It’s not like he’s doing a lot these days…

Dean Ambrose takes a beating from The Big Show. I liked the underdog chemistry Ambrose had with Show here. If the plan is to add him to the Intercontinental Title picture, I certainly won’t complain. Adding Ambrose to just about anything guarantees a little bit of added fuel to the fire. Good thing, too. The flame on this Ryback/Big Show/Miz was fizzling out quickly.

Neville def. Fandango, Stardust cuts a promo on him. The hero/villain angle between Neville and Stardust could be mildly compelling, I suppose. But was anybody else frustrated with Stardust’s promo? I couldn’t hear half of it because he kept speaking in that hushed tone. C’mon, Cody! You might be working toward a Summerslam match, here! Speak up!

WWE 2K16, TerminatorArnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator character revealed as pre-order bonus for WWE 2K16 video game. Let’s just hope they don’t add the Wrestlemania XXXI version of Triple H as Terminator. You remember, right? That was the robot that, for whatever reason, was booked to go over Sting. Hell, even Robocop didn’t do that. And that was in WCW!

Stone Cold Steve Austin to interview Paige on the next “Stone Cold Podcast.” Paige is an odd choice for this spot. There are a lot of much better candidates. Just a few off the top of my head: Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, or even Nikki Bella. How is Austin interviewing Paige going to attract new network subscribers? Where’s the intrigue? It  seems like a waste of a perfectly good network special to me.

Image 1 from bleacherreport.com. Other images from WWE.com.

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Talking Dead, and Other Ponderings From WWE Battleground and Raw

The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, WWE Raw, 07/20/2015By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Battleground and Raw:

The Undertaker costs Brock Lesnar the WWE Championship at Battleground. Wrestlemania XXX rematch to take place at Summerslam.

How ironic. The way to breathe some new life into Raw was to bring in the Dead Man.

I’m not sure how much fan desire there’s been to see The Undertaker face Brock Lesnar again. A potential Undertaker/Sting match is what’s been on a lot of people’s minds. But for my money, an Undertaker/Lesnar rematch was inevitable, so long as ‘Taker is healthy enough to hang with the ultra-physical Lesnar. From a storyline perspective, Lesnar took something from The Undertaker that he can never get back. Something that defined ‘Taker’s legacy more than anything else he’s done. So at some point, we needed a revenge angle, or at least something with ‘Taker and Brock before one of them left.

Having Undertaker cost Lesnar the match with Rollins at Battleground was probably the best non-finish they could have done. Rollins was leaving with the title either way. And Undertaker’s promo on Raw was excellent. Oddly enough, the best part was that little growl he let out at the very start. Bone chilling.

The Undertaker, Raw, 09/20/2015The brawl between Lesnar and ‘Taker was classic WWE. It’s something we’ve seen a million times. But I won’t complain. Hearing Lesnar shout “I’ll kill you!” at ‘Taker a few times was hilarious. And you know what? I believe him…

Going into Summerslam, my question is: What’s the finish? Who wins? It doesn’t make much sense to have Brock, the biggest babyface in the company, lose to ‘Taker. So I’d have to assume that someone’s going to cost ‘Taker the match to set up a Wrestlemania bout. So we may know more about ‘Taker’s Wrestlemania XXXII match sooner than we thought.

In any event, the presence of a healthy Undertaker brings a much needed epic feel to both Raw and Summerslam. But now the question is, how do they keep some of that momentum going as we head into fall?

Charlotte def. Brie Bella, Paige & Becky Lynch def. Sasha Banks & Naomi. I haven’t had a chance to talk about the “Divas Transformation” yet. So let’s get into it…

Charlotte, Brie Bella, Raw, 09/20/2015Tonight was the first time I had any interest in not one, but two women’s wrestling matches on Raw in quite some time. That’s not because women’s wrestling isn’t interesting or fun. It’s simply that I, like many others, have simply been waiting for good women’s wrestling in WWE. Not to mention some new faces. For months it’s been The Bella Twins, over and over again.

The additions of Charlotte, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch to the main roster have the potential to be a huge breath of fresh air. It’s obviously something NXT fans have been clamoring for over the last several months. It adds a great deal of intrigue to a division that has been void of it for the longest time.

Between her victory in the triple threat match at Battleground, and her solid match with Brie Bella this week, the world has definitely gotten to see what Charlotte is made of. That’s a great thing, as she’s potentially the diamond in the rough here. I’m not sure what WWE is aiming for with these teams of three. But either way, we’re introducing new faces, and attempting to make new stars. It’s hard to find much fault in that, at least at this juncture.

WWE Raw, 09/20/2015, Seth Rollins, John CenaJohn Cena confronts Seth Rollins on Raw. So this is what they’re doing with Rollins at Summerslam, huh? A title unification match with Cena. Eh, that’s fair enough, I guess. Having two midcard titles isn’t the end of the world, but I’ll admit it is a little redundant. It’s a bit of a shame, though. After so many years, the United States Title finally means something. A World Title vs. US Title match actually has a big match feel to it. And now the latter is going away…

I suppose the upside here is that now WWE will have a chance to finally add up the importance of the Intercontinental Title. Though to do that, I suspect they’ll have to get it away from Ryback and The Big Show.

Cesaro positioned as babyface in Raw main event, teams with John Cena and Randy Orton. Gee, we’re only a year and a half late on this one. Cesaro doesn’t fit the traditional WWE superstar mold, in that he isn’t an amazing talker. But what he lacks in vocal skills, he makes up for in wrestling skills. To use a very broad analogy, he’s in the same category as guys like Ricky Steamboat, Bret Hart, and Daniel Bryan.

WWE Raw, 07/20/2015If they’re looking for a pair of guys to reinvigorate the Intercontinental Title this fall, they need look no further than Cesaro and Kevin Owens. They can do what Daniel Bryan was supposed to do after Wrestlemania, and make that belt the “worker’s title” again.

Bray Wyatt reunites with Luke Harper to defeat Roman Reigns at Battleground. Not a huge surprise, here. After all, Harper and Erick Rowan had already reunited before the latter got injured. Why they even broke The Wyatt Family up to begin with is still a mystery to me. What did these men do as individuals that they couldn’t have done as a group?

The buzz is that at Summerslam it’ll be Wyatt, Harper, and someone else against Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Sting. That’s a hell of a six-man tag, and a chance at some redemption for Sting. Yet another unsolved mystery is why he lost to Triple H at Wrestlemania. What good did that do for either man?

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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The New WWE Champion, and Other Ponderings From Wrestlemania XXXI and WWE Raw

Wrestlemania XXXI, Seth Rollins, ChampionSeth Rollins cashes in Money in the Bank during the main event of Wrestlemania, pins Roman Reigns to become champion. Brock Lesnar assaults Rollins on Raw, gives an F5 to Michael Cole. Stephane McMahon suspends Lesnar indefinitely.

Well, that’s one way to book yourself out of a corner.

Actually, it must be said that the Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns match was not bad at all. It was the match of the night, in my opinion. They built up a lot of sympathy for Reigns (at least in my mind), and established that he is indeed a Samoan Bad Ass. But at the end of the day, Brock Lesnar was the crowd favorite. WWE clearly knew that going in, and booked accordingly. They told a similar story to the one they did with Lesnar and John Cena at Summerslam, but then threw the twist with Rollins in.

Seth Rollins, Brock Lesnar, Wrestlemania XXXITruth be told, if there’s one guy on the roster that deserved that crowning moment, it was Seth Rollins. He’s turned in consistently good, often great work since his heel turn last year. And whether you’re a Roman Reigns fan or not, this loss at Wrestlemania does two very important things for him. First, it gives him more big match experience. Second, it gives him a little more time to cook before they put the title on him.

There was no way they were going to have Brock wrestle on Raw. I knew that thing was a sham from the get-go. What I didn’t see coming was what happened to Michael Cole. If Brock wasn’t a babyface before, he certainly is now. And let’s give credit where credit is due: Cole took that F5 like a man. I’ve got to wonder who pitched THAT to him…

One thing I will say in critique of that Raw segment…JBL and Booker T. couldn’t have been that hurt by an overturned table, could they?

Triple H vs. Sting, Wrestlemania XXXITriple H def. Sting. This one shocked me. After 14 years, Sting finally makes his WWE debut…just to lose to Triple H? That’s pretty lame if you ask me. Still, one would hope that’s not the last time we’ll see Sting in a WWE ring.

The general direction this match took also surprised me. Instead of it boiling down to Sting and Hunter they turned it into an nWo vs. DX thing. It all became a giant Attitude Era throwback. It was fun, I guess. But I thought this was supposed to be about Sting coming to WWE to face the tyrannical leader of The Authority? It seemed like an odd choice to me. But it was Wrestlemania-worthy, to be sure.

By the way, that Triple H/Terminator entrance? Really stupid.

The Undertaker def. Bray Wyatt. The Undertaker looked as good as he ever has at Wrestlemania. But it seemed like he was definitely feeling it physically. Then again, maybe he was just selling really well. But after the match, he did indeed look up to the rafters and mouth “Thank you.” My instincts tell me he’s got maybe one or two left in him. But then again, people have been saying that for years. Only The Undertaker can tell us for sure. One thing’s for sure, seeing him for the first time in a year was a hell of a Wrestlemania moment.

The Undertaker, Wrestlemania XXXIThe Rock and Ronda Rousey wind up in an in-ring confrontation with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon at Wrestlemania. This seemed like a set up for one hell of a mixed tag match. Summerslam, maybe?

John Cena def. Rusev at Wrestlemania for the United States Championship, defeats Dean Ambrose in title defense on Raw. Not exactly a surprise that Rusev lost to John Cena. Though as I’d said previously, I’d have loved to have seen Rusev’s streak continue.

Dean Ambrose deserves a hell of a lot of credit for the 48 hours he had between Wrestlemania and Raw. Between the bumps he took in the ladder match, and the match he had with Cena on Raw, he deserves as much respect as anybody on that roster. There’s so much money on this guy, and he’s so unique. I just hope WWE knows what they’ve got with him…

Daniel Bryan, Wrestlemania XXXIDaniel Bryan wins Intercontinental Championship in multi-man Wrestlemania Ladder Match. Bryan wins a title match against Dolph Ziggler on Raw. After all the complaining the internet wrestling community did (myself included) about Daniel Bryan’s demotion on the Wrestlemania card, it’s tough to deny they put him over pretty well. It would have been easy for him to simply get lost in the shuffle in terms of that ladder match. But he came out on top, and had another great Wrestlemania moment. Let’s not kid ourselves, it wasn’t as good as the one he got last year. But it was still pretty good.

In terms of the ladder match itself…meh. I hate to seem so jaded, especially considering some of the bumps those guys took. But we’ve just seen this match so many times over the last decade. At the end of the day, there are only so many things you can do with a ladder. So I left this match feeling a bit less satisfied than perhaps I should have been. The ending with Bryan and Dolph Ziggler butting heads over and over again was pretty ridiculous too.

As for the match Bryan and Ziggler had on Raw, it’s tough to not enjoy these guys going one-on-one. They make a point to show you things you don’t see in other matches, and it’s a real treat.

Sheamus, Raw, March 31, 2015Sheamus returns after Bryan/Ziggler match to fend off Bad News Barrett, ends up heeling on Bryan. I like Sheamus’ tweaked image, although apparently the crowd didn’t agree (“You look stupid!”). I most certainly like his new direction. A Sheamus heel turn has is long overdue. If I had my way, we’d see Bryan vs. Barrett for the title at Extreme Rules, and Sheamus vs. Ziggler, with the winner getting a title shot.

Adrian Neville (as billed as just “Neville”) and The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) make their Raw debut. So the rumor flying around was that WWE was going to give NXT star Adrian Neville a Mighty Mouse-type persona. It looks like they kinda/sorta went that direction, but thankfully left out the inherent cheeseball elements. We’ve definitely seen wrestlers wear worse things out there than a cape. Great exhibition from Neville. Let’s see where he goes from here.

In that same vein, we saw a hell of a showing from Sin Cara, and especially Kalisto. He had that crowd in the palm of his hand. I want to see more, that’s for damn sure. And hey! Who knew you could have a colorful, marketable Hispanic tag team without turning them into a couple of damn cartoon characters! Does this mean we can finally drop the Los Matadores gimmick?

The Big Show, Wrestlemania XXXIThe Big Show wins the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the Wrestlemania pre-show. I’m guessing this match got bumped to the pre-show so we could have the Rock/Ronda Rousey segment. I’m wondering, had it been on the actual show, if Big Show would have won. This match seemed like the perfect opportunity for Damien Sandow to have his big moment. And indeed, he did have a big moment when he eliminated Miz. But for that to be followed by his elimination by Big Show almost waters the whole thing down. Once it was decided the match would be on the pre-show, I wonder if they just said: “Meh. If Sandow can’t win it at Wrestlemania, let’s just give it to Show.”

And what does The Big Show actually gain from winning the Andre battle royal? Nothing really. At least Cesaro got a push (albeit a failed one) out of the deal. Show’s already a top guy, and he’s aligned with the new WWE Heavyweight Champion. So they basically spun their wheels with this one.

Images from WWE.com.

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