Tag Archives: WWE Fastlane 2016

Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker??? Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well, Fastlane mostly sucked. And despite consistently entering arenas to a chorus of boos, Roman Reigns is still WWE’s choice for top babyface. So yeah. WWE die-hards have got a lot to complain about as we head into Wrestlemania.

On the other hand, there’s this…

WWE Raw, February 23, 2016, Shane McMahon, Vince McMahonPondering From WWE Raw:

Shane McMahon returns to Raw for the first time in more than five years. Will face The Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell at Wrestlemania. Let’s give credit where credit is due. WWE has given us a lot of crappy TV lately. But this was a total surprise, and a welcome one to be certain. This was totally out of nowhere. And what a reaction from the fans in Detroit!

This Wrestlemania thing strikes me as something short term. They were in dire need of something big, specifically for The Undertaker. So they concocted this story about Shane having something over Vince’s head, and wanting control of the company. So Vince puts Shane in a seemingly no-win scenario with the future of WWE on the line. While Shane hasn’t wrestled in years, and he was never the most technically gifted wrestler, I have no doubt he’ll give us something worthy of The Undertaker.

But here’s my question: Who are the fans supposed to cheer for? They want Shane to run the company. But The Undertaker is WWE’s greatest, most enduring icon, and he’s synonymous with Wrestlemania. How can they not cheer him? To say the least, it’ll be interesting to see how this story shakes out.

Also, it looked like Vince dropped an F-bomb on the air. That’s hysterical.

Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, WWE Raw, February 23, 2016Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose to face off in a street fight at Wrestlemania. And with this, we’ve got our top three Wrestlemania matches made a good six weeks before the show. Now push and promote, boys and girls. Fill that arena up.

Obviously, plans have changed. They were clearly looking at Brock Lesnar vs. Bray Wyatt for Wrestlemania. But it seems they saw the chemistry Ambrose and Lesnar had, and they wisely changed their minds. This has the potential to be a great story about a relentless underdog who refuses to say die, even though the odds seem impossibly stacked against him. I don’t think Brock has ever had an opponent quite like Dean Ambrose, and I’m very curious to see what he brings not only out of Brock, but out of Paul Heyman on the mic.

But again, who do we cheer for? Do we cheer the dominant Brock Lesnar, or the fearless underdog? We have yet another babyface vs. babyface match for Wrestlemania.

By the way, did you see Brock step on Ambrose’s face out there? Yeesh…

Triple H, Roman Reigns, WWE Raw, February 23, 2016Triple H bloodies Roman Reigns to close the show. Really nice to see some color. As much as Roman is wrong for the main event of Wrestlemania, this does make this rivalry feel more like a blood feud, pun intended.

Here’s my prediction for the main event of Wrestlemania: We’re going to get a repeat of Wrestlemania XXII when Hunter faced John Cena. The fans are going to end up cheering for the heel, and booing the babyface. I don’t see how it could be any other way, especially at an event attended by so many die-hard fans. Hunter and Roman have an uphill battle to fight going into Wrestlemania. And I don’t think it’s going to be pretty. Even during Roman’s backstage segments, the Detroit fans were chanting for Dean Ambrose.

Charles Wright, a.k.a. The Godfather, announced for the Hall of Fame. I think it’s funny we didn’t get a video package for The Godfather. I’m not saying the real-life Charles Wright doesn’t deserve an induction, but how does a company as image-conscious as WWE justify inducting a pimp character into their hall of fame? It seems like they’d be better served playing up the fact that hep played multiple roles, mostly notably Papa Shango. Still, congratulations are definitely in order.

The Wyatt Family, WWE Raw, February 22, 2016The Wyatt Family def. The Big Show, Kane, & Ryback. Brock being put with Dean Ambrose may be a blessing for Bray Wyatt. He might actually get to win a match at Wrestlemania, and gain some momentum for 2016. The question is, who do you put him with now? The Big Show, maybe?

The Wyatts losing at Fastlane was a head-scratcher. If they wanted to do an angle where Ryback walks out on Show and Kane, why not do it at the pay per view?

Chris Jericho & AJ Styles def. Heath Slater & Curtis Axel. So…what happens now? Are Styles and Jericho done? It doesn’t seem that way, does it? If Jericho turns heel they might have one more pay per view match left in them…

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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A WWE Fastlane 2016 Preview – The Irrevocable Roman Reigns

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

With so much marquee talent on the injured list right now, so many questions are lingering regarding Wrestlemania XXXII. This was supposed to be the biggest Wrestlemania of all time, with WWE attempting to pack 100,000 people into AT&T Stadium. They’ll sell a lot of tickets to be sure, but 100,000? That was a lofty goal when names like John Cena, Sting, and Seth Rollins were pencilled in. But what about now?

Fastlane will at least tell us what the main event is. We know Triple H will be there. And the smart bet is Roman Reigns will be there too…or maybe not…

WWE Fastlane, Alberto Del Rio, Kalisto2 Out of 3 Falls Match For WWE UNITED STATES TITLE:
Kalisto (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio

This is a weird match to put on the pre-show. Granted, it’s a match we’ve seen a bunch by now. So it wasn’t exactly a hot ticket before. But now that they’ve upped the ante and made it a 2 out of 3 Falls Match, it seems even weirder to give it away for free. Either way, my big hope going into this match is that WWE lets Kalisto keep the title. It’s never been more apparent how badly WWE needs to create new stars. As I’ve said before, Kalisto can easily be a breakout star this year in the mold of someone like Rey Mysterio. Del Rio doesn’t need the United States Title, but it can do some real good for Kalisto. So I say let Del Rio save a little face by pinning Kaliso in the first or second fall, only to lose in the end. Simply put, it’s the right call.

PREDICTION: Kalisto

WWE Fastlane 2016, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Naomi, TaminaSasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Naomi & Tamina

I like this. Not only are we getting some nice closure on Team B.A.D., but the Divas Title Match at Wrestlemania is essentially getting double build-up on this show. Plus, when was the last time we saw two women’s matches on a pay per view?

Sasha and Becky are the obvious victors here. It’s looking like it’ll be Charlotte vs. Sasha vs. Becky at Wrestlemania. After Becky’s performances leading up to the Royal Rumble, she deserves to be in the mix. And to say Sasha deserves the Wrestlemania spotlight is a huge understatement. So I say bring it on!

PREDICTION: Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch

Big Show, Kane, Ryback, The Wyatt Family, WWE Fastlane 2016The Big Show, Kane, & Ryback vs. Luke Harper, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman

Here’s your bathroom break match…

If I wasn’t so concerned about a possible Braun Strowman/Undertaker match at Wrestlemania, I’d have a lot more enthusiasm for this one. The Wyatt Family should be booked as the strongest group in the company, and as they’re obviously going over here, this match is a step in the right direction. What concerns me is what happens after the match. Bray Wyatt vs. Brock Lesnar is clearly happening at Wrestlemania. The smart bet has Brock winning that match. So is all of this build-up for naught? Are the other members of The Wyatt Family simply being build up so Brock can run through them? And what about after Wrestlemania? How do you keep them dominant?

A questionable future notwithstanding, the Wyatts look good for Fastlane. I expect this match will be slower than molasses, but at least the right team will win.

PREDICTION: The Wyatt Family

Charlotte, Ric Flair, Brie Bella, WWE Fastlane 2016WWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte (c) vs. Brie Bella

I’m mildly interested in seeing what Charlotte and Brie pull together. I don’t doubt this will be her weakest pay per view match yet, but at least she’ll get a solid win going into Wrestlemania.

Frankly, I’m more intrigued about what might happen after this match. At the Royal Rumble, Sasha Banks showed up after Charlotte’s match. Does that same thing happen this month? Does Becky come out? Or do they both show up? The possibilities are interesting. And of course, Ric Flair being out there only helps in that respect.

PREDICTION: Charlotte

Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, WWE Fastlane 2016WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler

This one’s pretty easy to predict. Owens is one of the few strong heels WWE has right now, so he needs momentum going into Wrestlemania. He just won the Intercontinental Title back, and now he’ll get a win in this program with Dolph Ziggler. Still, I can’t say I’ve got a problem with seeing these two wrestle again, especially on pay per view. They’ve consistently had good matches, and hopefully they give us their best one yet here.

I’m stumped on who you put Owens with at Wrestlemania. There’d be no crime in putting him with Undertaker. But as the IC Champ it seems unlikely. It almost seemed like they were going to put Sami Zayn with him, which would have been a good match. But it seems like that’s a no go as well. So who? The winner of the Chris Jericho/AJ Styles match might be a solid choice. Owens needs a good babyface to make him the best heel he can be at Wrestlemania. Here’s hoping they’ve got somebody good in mind.

PREDICTION: Kevin Owens

AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, WWE Fastlane 2016Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles

It’s only his second pay per view, and already AJ Styles finds himself in a semi-main event. It’s tough to argue what a good sign that is in terms of how management sees him.

Here’s my big question as far as this match is concerned: Does Jericho turn heel? We know he can do it. But do they want him to? Y2J is somebody they could plug in with The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. But does that necessitate a heel turn? Maybe not. I do think, however, that if they want Jericho to wrestle Styles again in Dallas, a heel turn is in order. They could keep it pretty simple: Jericho can’t beat Styles clean, so he either cheats to win, or attacks him after he loses.

My gut tells me AJ walks away win the win here. Styles has been pretty well protected since his debut, and he’s in a position to help the company long after Jericho has gone on sabbatical again. So I say give him the win, and if they want to turn Jericho heel afterward, so be it.

PREDICTION: AJ Styles

WWE Fastlane 2016, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, Dean AMbroseSTIPULATION TRIPLE THREAT MATCH:
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose
Winner challenges for WWE Title at Wrestlemania

What we have here is an opportunity…

When Triple H tossed Roman Reigns out of the Royal Rumble Match last month, the crowd popped huge. And it wasn’t just because the the obvious choice to win was out. It was because Hunter was left in there with Dean Ambrose.

So here’s my question: Was Vince McMahon listening to that crowd? Are they smart enough to switch things up? It doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility, as much of the focus has been on Ambrose during the Fastlane build-up. We’ve gotten some great stuff between he and Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, Reigns has faded into the background a bit, perhaps to take some of the crowd heat off of him. But Vince’s master plan, as we know all too well, has been to make Roman Reigns the company’s next top star. It’s a spot he’s more than capable of holding. But you can count me amongst those who say its not happening organically. They’re telling us who the stars are, as opposed to letting us pick our own stars.

Dean Ambrose, WWEWade Keller was on The Steve Austin Show Unleashed this week, and I’m going to echo something he pitched. I say put Dean Ambrose with Triple H at Wrestlemania, and let an angry and bitter Roman Reigns challenge The Undertaker. Now you’ve got both a main event and a semi-main event fans can get excited about. Plus, the smart bet is fans won’t boo Dean out of the building during the main event. Chances are that won’t be the case with Roman.

Simply put, this match is WWE’s opportunity to change direction in a fairly smooth manner. Justified or not, a large portion of the fans simply don’t want to cheer Roman Reigns. So why struggle with your audience? Give Ambrose a chance. Establish him as a main event star, give the audience the pleasure of booing Roman, and go from there.

That being said, should we expect plans to change? No. They’ve had a bunch of opportunities to turn Reigns heel, and they’ve passed on all of them. Whether we like it or not, Vince wants Roman Reigns to be the guy. So at Wrestlemania XXXII, expect him to be the guy.

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

Images courtesy of WWE.com. 

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Big Show Backlash, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Titus O'Neil, WWEBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The biggest non-Daniel Bryan story coming out of last week was the suspension of Titus O’Neil. He grabbed Vince McMahon’s arm just as cameras stopped rolling on Bryan’s retirement celebration, for what purpose no one is exactly sure. But Titus was hit with a 90-day suspension, which was later reduced to a 60-day suspension due to internet backlash. Reportedly, McMahon had to be talked down from firing Titus outright.

If you ever wonder where all this talk of people walking on eggshells in the WWE locker room comes from, look no further than this. You don’t even need to be in WWE to understand it. Make one wrong move and you’re fired. Or if not fired, you’ll be punished.

I’m not saying Titus was right to grab McMahon. But for a company that so desperately craves “legitimacy,” it’s amazing how downright childish its 70-year-old chairman of the board can be. There’s your genius, everybody…

The Big Show, Raw, February 15, 2016Pondering From WWE Raw:

The Big Show and and Braun Strowman main event the show. Why? Someone tell me why. Why would you have The Big Show main event Raw as a babyface in 2016? Was it to lead into the Steve Austin interview with Show? I guarantee you, that interview lost viewers because of this main event. This is part of why fans don’t like The Big Show. He’s been a main event fixture for years, and fans are tired of him. And yet he sticks around. This man is a damn giant, and yet he’s been booked like any other wrestler for over 15 years now. If only Austin could ask him about that.

Still, I watched this match to see how Braun Strowman looked against Show. He was’t bad. But he only wrestled for about 3 minutes. He hardly seems ready for The Undertaker, does he? What’s more, the match itself didn’t start until 11:05 Eastern Time. Fail

It looks like we’re getting The Wyatt Family against The Big Show, Ryback, and Kane at Fastlane. Fair enough, I suppose. Eh, whatever…

Kevin Owens, WWE Raw, February 15, 2016Kevin Owens def. Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust & Tyler Breeze to win back the Intercontinental Title. Awesome. Ambrose never really needed to win the title, and Owens never really needed to lose it. This almost gives me hope Ambrose has a chance of winning on Sunday. And damn, what a great post-match promo. C’mon, guys. Shake things up a little. Just give it to Dean…

So now Owens has Ziggler this Sunday. But who does he have at Wrestlemania? I’d love to see it be Sami Zayn. But it seems unlikely, as he’s got Shinsuke Nakamura at the NXT Takeover show that weekend. So who do you put Owens with?

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman to appear on Smackdown. Something that really stuck out this week is how much Smackdown is being emphasized. WWE is even trotting out its biggest attraction, Brock Lesnar, for a show that’s long been void of any sort of significance. But last week’s broadcast saw Chris Jericho beat AJ Styles, and the Dudleys cut a hell of a heel promo. Plus, Mauro Ranallo has quickly become the best announcer on WWE TV. As far as I’m concerned, he and Lawler can start calling pay per views any time now. Smackdown‘s importance is gradually starting to rise. Now let’s just hope they stay consistent with that approach.

Paul Heyman, WWE Raw, February 15, 2016Paul Heyman calls out Roman Reigns. This one didn’t do much for me. At least by Paul Heyman promo standards. Heyman and Reigns were pretty nice to each other here. But niceness isn’t Heyman’s strong point, at least from a character standpoint.

Charlotte and Ric Flair interrupts Brie Bella’s in-ring interview. I want to like Brie Bella, really I do. But when that awful music hits and she gives us that monotone delivery I just cringe. And it’s just so damn obvious that she’s reciting lines. There’ve been rumors that, like her husband Daniel Bryan, she’s headed toward retirement. I suspect she’ll wait until after Wrestlemania.

As the weeks go by, Charlotte gets better and better at her heel role. She was great at antagonizing Brie tonight, and I suspect she’ll be even better at antagonizing Sasha Banks and/or Becky Lynch heading into Wrestlemania. And Ric, to his credit, isn’t overshadowing her. He actually adds a certain credibility to the Divas Title by standing by his daughter as she defends it. It was a risk putting Ric with his daughter, but thus far it’s a risk that has paid off.

Chris Jericho, WWE Raw, February 15, 2016AJ Styles def. The Miz. As solid a match as Styles and Miz had, the best part of this segment was hearing Chris Jericho on commentary. He put Miz over better than our announce team has in years. And obviously, he dove into the psychology of his program with AJ. Obviously we’ve got a rubber match between Jericho and Styles coming at Fastlane, and the smart bet is they’ll give us their best encounter yet. On a card that’s rather lackluster, they could easily steal the show.

Big E. def. Mark Henry. That didn’t look like the ending we were supposed to get. Henry collapsed like an accordion during what looked like it was meant to be a counter to the Big Ending. That’s why men that size aren’t usually picked up for moves like that. Here’s hoping he’s okay.

Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio, now a 2 out of 3 Falls Match, moved from the main show to the pre-show at FastlaneOuch. Del Rio is the one League of Nations member that has managed to stay relevant, and his match gets bumped to the pre-show. And ironically enough, now that it’s a 2 out of 3 Falls Match, I’m actually interested in seeing them wrestle again.

Image 1 from 411mania.com. Remaining images from WWE.com.

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Daniel Bryan’s Retirement, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

Daniel Bryan, WWE Raw, December 8, 2016By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This sucks. I mean, it really sucks. Unless you’re a wrestling fan, you can’t even comprehend how much this sucks.

There’s been a lot of buzz about Bryan’s in-ring future with WWE. But now we have the bottom line: In an era where WWE needs new stars more than ever, they’re losing this amazing talent, who has a truly unique connection with their audience.

One of the truly unique moments in the history of Raw happened in this same city back in December 2013, in what I think was called a “Championship Ascension Ceremony.” The segment was about Randy Orton and John Cena facing off to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships, and they’d assembled a bunch of former champions in the ring. So in addition to Orton and Cena, we had CM Punk, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Rey Mystery, among others. But the crowd would simply not stop chanting for Daniel Bryan. It got to the point where Cena actually had to pull him into the segment and acknowledge it. He was just that over. Hell, the fans hijacked the Royal Rumble Match two years in a row because they weren’t getting Daniel Bryan, and they wanted him so badly.

Daniel Bryan, Yes Movement, WWE RawBut let’s look on the upside. Daniel Bryan was WWE’s biggest breakout star since John Cena. They may not have wanted him to be, but the fans chose him. So he rose from an indy darling who many thought didn’t have a chance at making it in WWE, to pulling double duty at Wrestlemania XXX and helping give fans a truly amazing underdog story. That’s something that can never be taken away from him, and something he and his fans can cherish forever.

But the real-life Bryan Danielson has a lot to live for outside the world of pro wrestling. Here’s hoping he can now enjoy some of the fruits of his labor. You earned it, my friend. Thank you and onward.

Pondering From Raw:

Brock Lesnar beats down Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose following Fastlane contract signing. Ambrose calls Brock out later in the show. According to Jim Ross, WWE was informed of Daniel Bryan’s decision when they got to Seattle for tonight’s show. If that’s true, they obviously had to change things up. The contract signing felt like it was supposed to be the main event, but got switched to the beginning to hook the audience.

Dean Ambrose, WWE Raw, December 8, 2016I’ll say this much, in this segment Brock Lesnar looked every bit like the monster WWE portrays him as. The way he smacked Reigns in the head with that table was borderline comical, considering he’s obviously the company’s golden boy these days. It’s look like they’re setting this up to be Ambrose and Reigns against Lesnar at the outset of the match. It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out.

I love how Ambrose and Lesnar have developed their own rivalry. Despite how high the stakes are in this match, their story feels like the driving force behind this whole thing. And no wonder! It’s a pairing we haven’t seen before, and Dean’s got a fun pit bull approach when it comes to Lesnar. I can only assume Roman Reigns will be in the main event spotlight once we get to the Wrestlemania build up. But from where I sit, Ambrose could very easily be in that spot if they want him to be. I sure as hell do.

Miz TV becomes an impromptu edition of Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel. The switchover from the Miz TV setup to the Highlight Reel was neat. Granted, there’s not much to either setting. But it was a fun little moment, the likes of which I don’t think WWE has done before.

AJ Styles, Chris Jericho, WWE Raw, December 8, 2016Miz seemed more relaxed out there with Jericho. I imagine that stems from him not having to walk a less skilled talker through a segment like this. These two were able to go back and forth pretty well. And the centerpiece to it all was AJ Styles. As much as WWE gets wrong these days, they’ve done a fantastic job making Styles seem like a big deal. At this rate, Styles could be a major player in WWE in a fairly short time. At the rate the injuries are piling up, that’s a major positive.

Dolph Ziggler def. Kevin Owens. They treated Ziggler beating Owens like he’d won the World Title or something. You’d think they were actually going to do something with him. Still, it’s nice to see some friggin’ emotion on this show again. Dolph is overjoyed, Owens is pissed off beyond belief. It didn’t feel manufactured.

I can’t say I’m tired of seeing these two wrestle week after week, because the performances they turn in are consistently good. But what’s their endgame here? A match at Fastlane to settle the score? I’d be up for that. Two out of three falls, maybe?

The Dudley Boyz, WWE Raw, February 8, 2016The Dudley Boyz turn on The Usos after the four defeat The New Day & Mark Henry in a tables match. The Dudleys are at their best when they have more of an edge, and this is the most edge we’ve seen from them since they returned. I’m sure this now means they’ll be cast as heels. But Bubba Ray can cut some absolutely amazing heel promos. So this opens the door for the Dudleys to up their game in a big way.

Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Tamina & Naomi announced for FastlaneI like this. The women’s division gets extra representation at a pay per view, and it doubles as build-up for what I assume will be a triple-threat match between Charlotte, Sasha, and Becky at Wrestlemania. I’m still not thrilled about Brie Bella having a title match at Fastlane. But the right pieces are gradually falling into place.

Bray Wyatt def. Ryback. Ryback isn’t doing himself any favors with the black trunks. He’s practically inviting the fans to chant for Bill Goldberg. WWE also isn’t doing him any favors by hyping him up with a video package, only to have him be The Wyatt Family’s latest victim. I can only assume that package was shown to remind the fans that Ryback can indeed be monster worthy of slaying, and thus worthy of The Wyatt Family’s attention.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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Dean Ambrose and False Hope, Plus Pondering From WWE Raw

Bret Hart, WWE ChampionBy Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Before we get to Raw, let’s touch on a couple of stories. The first one just broke yesterday, and it’s a bit of unfortunate news regarding an all-time great…

Bret Hart announces he’s battling prostate cancer. Bret himself made this announcement on his Facebook. He seems optimistic about it, which is good news. Bret is a hero to many, and he’s in the hearts of a great many this week. Good luck, Bret. We’ll be thinking of you.

Vince McMahon allegedly angered by The Rock going off-script on last week’s RawI, like a lot of fans, really enjoyed that moment last week when The Rock went “off the script” and talked to those cosplayers at ringside. They were having fun, and the crowd was having fun, so The Rock decided to have fun. But low and behold, Vince allegedly didn’t like it.

Considering how WWE has been booked over the last few years, that sounds about right.

I loved The Rock’s response to said heat on Twitter: “…at @WWE events, going “off script” is what I live for. So much fun for the fans. Nightmare for Vince.”

Dean Ambrose, WWE Raw, January 1, 2016Ponderings From WWE Raw:

Dean Ambrose confronts Brock Lesnar at the top of the show, Lesnar attacks Ambrose to close the show. Well how about this? For once, it wasn’t all about Roman Reigns. They let Ambrose have the headline story this week.

I’d love to think WWE might surprise us at Fastlane, and give Ambrose the main event with Triple H. It’d damn sure be something different. The fans are into Ambrose, and the suspense when he and Hunter were the last ones in the Rumble Match was amazing. And it could create some interesting tension between Ambrose and Reigns! It won’t happen, of course. WWE has been bound and determined to make Reigns their guy for over a year, and they’re not about to stop now. But it’s fun to think about.

Still, it’s clear WWE has faith in Dean Ambrose. They trusted him to hold his own in there with Lesnar, and he did just that. Ambrose can be such a huge star for WWE. I just hope they realize what they have with him.

Stephanie McMahon, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, WWE Raw, February 1, 2016Michael Cole hypes Stephanie McMahon’s appearance on Good Morning America, as part of a series on women making a difference and serving as positive role models. That bit of copy Michael Cole read during Dolph Ziggler’s entrance is a perfect example of the disconnect that exists between WWE and its fans, and it’s one of the many reasons why fans just don’t get into WWE like they used to.

Every week on television, Stephanie McMahon plays a tyrannical heel authority figure. But because WWE is so image conscious, they make a point of hyping up her humanitarianism, her involvement with charities, etc. There’s nothing wrong with her doing any of that, but when they go out of their way to mention that on TV, they contradict the stories they’re trying to tell. They’re breaking the illusion they’ve created in their fictional universe. Yes, we know Stephanie isn’t really an evil person. But can you let us suspend our disbelief when we watch your damn show?

Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens, WWE Raw, February 1, 2016Dolph Ziggler def. Kevin Owens. Really good match. I loved the way Ziggler attacked that turnbuckle when Owens Irish-whipped him into the corner. Shades of Bret Hart, there.  The fact that Ziggler isn’t consistently main eventing Raw is a crime, and yet another indictment of just how screwed up creative is right now.

“Even Steven Booking” strikes again on this one. Owens beat Ziggler last week, Ziggler beats Owens this week. The sad thing is that Owens is one of the few good heels WWE has right now. If WWE wanted to build him up as a potential Undertaker opponent for Wrestlemania, they could easily have a really good program. I originally thought Owens and Sami Zayn were going to wrestle on that show, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Alas, Owens is left spinning his wheels for no good reason.

Brie Bella def. Charlotte. OH HELL NO…

Brie Bella, Charlotte, WWE Raw, February 1, 2016What the hell happened here? We were doing so well. Charlotte was in a compelling storyline with Becky Lynch that allowed both of them to shine. Then at the Royal Rumble we introduced Sasha Banks into the title picture. And now…Charlotte gets beaten by Brie? (Her right shoulder may not have even been down, as you can see on the right.)  Seriously, what the hell? I suspect this is will lead to a title match at Fastlane, which I suppose I can tolerate as long as Sasha gets the Wrestlemania match. But what a disappointing direction to take things in.

Naomi & Tamina turn on Sasha Banks during her match with Becky Lynch. I love how they slipped that little Kanye/Wiz Khalifa reference into the talking segment. “We’re hip! Really, we are!”

Happy to see Sasha is officially separated from Naomi and Tamina. She’s destined to be a star on her own. And if/when she becomes champion this year, they can easily come back to one or both of those two for a title defense. Neither of them would have given Ric Flair or Shawn Michaels a run for their money, but they’re both decent hands in their own right.

AJ Styles, The Miz, WWE Raw, February 1, 2016AJ Styles appears on Miz TV. Not at all what I was hoping to see Styles do on Raw this week, but at least they’re investing time in him. Granted, the fact that Miz talked for 90 percent of the segment doesn’t say much for their faith in his mic skills. But there are worse guys for him to spend TV time with than The Miz.

The Big Show def. Erick Rowan before getting decimated by The Wyatt Family. I’m still disappointed that babyface Big Show is back. He’s so much better as a heel. But the upside is, at the rate his turns have been going, he’ll be a heel again in no time.

They’re obviously building toward a Big Show/Braun Strowman match at Fastlane. Goody goody gumdrops. I will say that it’s good to see The Wyatts looking strong again. But as wrote last week, an Undertaker/Strowman match, if that is indeed what they’re building for, is a terrible idea. Especially when there are so many superior opponents available for the Dead Man.

The Usos, WWE Raw, February 1, 2016Lilian Garcia botches The Usos’ introduction, refers to them as “Grammy Award winning tag team of the year.” Okay, so Lilian botched an intro. With all due respect, it wasn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last. And of course they made fun of her, because they’re bullies like that. But they actually took the time to replay it when they came back from a commercial break. Well, that’s one way to kill time on a three-hour broadcast. Hey, at least Vince was having fun on the headset…

On the plus side, we’ve apparently gotten The Usos away from The New Day. That’s definitely a good thing.

Kalisto def. Rusev via count-out, will defend US Title against Alberto Del Rio at FastlaneUgh. I was hoping they’d get the Del Rio rematch out of the way on television so Kalisto could move on to someone else. This gives WWE the opportunity to change their minds about Kalisto, and switch the belt back to Del Rio. Make no mistake about it, Del Rio does not need the US Title. But it can help build Kalisto into something they desperately need: A new star.

Images courtesy of WWE.com.

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION: The Dudley Boyz

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

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

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

PREDICTION: The New Day

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

This match sucks.

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

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

PREDICITON: Alberto Del Rio

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Charlotte

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Dean Ambrose

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PREDICTION: Roman Reigns

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

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