After Elimination Chamber, I had hopes for WWE. I really did. John Cena was eliminated early, and the match came down to AJ Styles and Bray Wyatt. And for once, I was surprised by an outcome–WWE put the strap on the Eater of Worlds and it felt like there was a definite shift in direction. But last night, as Monday Night Raw put on the most useless pay-per-view of the year a mere four weeks from WrestleMania, Vince McMahon took a gold-plated dump in our collective mouths.
On paper, having Bill Goldberg come back seems like a fairy tale dream. Right up there with Chris Benoit being tossed into the WWE Hall of Fame. But upon closer scrutiny you see the endless laundry list of problems with this sort of thing. Goldberg is 50 years old and he just won the biggest title in the company. And he’s headed to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar, whom is almost 40 years old. Why on earth have these two old men hijacked the biggest wrestling event of the year?
The booking at Fastlane was terrible. Owens came in and out of the ring, walked around the apron, talked trash and delayed the bell ring. When the previous match of Bayley and Charlotte was still going on at 10:50, we all knew some sort of bullshit was coming. When Owens finally got in the ring after wasting our time for five minutes, Chris Jericho’s music hit, the bell rung and then one spear and a jackhammer later, Owens had lost his title.
There was no reason for Goldberg to have a title when facing Lesnar. There was no reason why the inevitable Owens vs Jericho match at Mania couldn’t have been for a title. Instead, Owens vs Jericho is a mostly useless fight, and we now have two old-timers fighting for the Universal Title. One thing for certain that Fastlane did set up was leaving no doubt that Smackdown Live is the better brand, hands down.
Granted, maybe ten or eleven years ago, this might have worked. When Goldberg came to WWE from WCW, this might have been the angle they should have used. But he hasn’t wrestled in 12 years. Then he comes back and “beats” the biggest monster in the company in less than two minutes. Then goes on to “beat” Kevin Owens in less than 30 seconds. Professional wrestling constantly asks us to suspend disbelief, but come on. This is getting a little ridiculous now.
It’s the same formula WWE always desperately goes back to. They recruit gladiators from the Attitude Era and Monday Night Wars and neuter them, parading them around on a leash, and continue watering down our memories of days gone by. Let’s bring back The Undertaker for another year to be embarrassed on live TV as he’s carried through a match gasping for air and spending half the match on his back. Let’s bring back Ric Flair to put over his daughter’s opponent while standing in the middle of the ring red-faced and crying. Let’s bring back The Rock to put over his cousin only to have them both get booed out of the Royal Rumble. Rinse and repeat. And let’s not even mention the epic tragedy of Sting’s WWE “career.”
It is utterly baffling why Vince McMahon and the WWE are so terrified of their young talent. They aren’t prepared to take a chance or push younger guys. It has been that way for a very long time. There are guys (and girls) on the roster that other promotions would kill to have as their champion just being squandered and wasting away into obscurity. We could have a fresh, revitalized WrestleMania with amazing young talent. But instead, valuable ring time is going to be stolen by HHH, Goldberg, Lesnar, and The Undertaker. These guys all had their heydays. They’ve been in the spotlight. News flash, Vince: you aren’t “Showcasing Immortals.” You are cramming the same tired crap down our throats, risking the life and limb of the athletes who should have long since retired from active competition.
They used to call WrestleMania “The Granddaddy of Them All” and that’s never been more true than it is now. Most of these guys are old enough to have grandchildren and frankly, it’s getting a little hard to tune in every year to the same old tripe. I mean, Goldberg has a solid white goatee and white chest hair for crying out loud. Sad times.
Jamie Curtis Baker
— We kicked off the week shooting around some scenarios with John Cena’s future as a part-timer, retiring The Undertaker, and moving the WWE into a younger generation. We learned that Shelton Benjamin was injured and his WWE future is questionable at this particular point in time. He will most likely need surgery and may be on the injured list for several months.
— Monday Night Raw gave us the go home show leading up to tonight’s pay-per-view. We saw a women’s tag match, Rusev taking on Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns versus Kevin Owens in a steel cage! Plus, the introduction of the Cruiserweights. All this and more in our full review of RAW.
— Smackdown Live came at us on Tuesday and featured The Usos can full dark side, American Alpha’s return, The Miz forced to defend his Intercontinental Championship, and The Viper, Randy Orton, in action. The main event was John Cena against Dean Ambrose in singles competition. Read all about it HERE.
— Taped from Full Sail, NXT arrived on the WWE Network on Wednesday. Samoa Joe gave William Regal a very stern ultimatum about Shinsuke Nakamura and the rest of the locker room. Cruiserweight Classic Tournament competitor, Cedric Alexander, made his NXT in-ring debut. And Austin Aries called out Hideo Itami. Read all about the latest taping right HERE.
— Dixie Carter won the week with yet another fantastic episode of TNA’s Impact Wrestling. The stage is slowly being set for Bound For Glory. We saw the Grand Championship tournament finals lock in their last two, Maria Kanellis-Bennett public training, an X-Division Championship match, and a four-man tag team match for the main event featuring Lashley, EC3, Moose, and The Miracle. Read about the entire stellar broadcast HERE.
— The last NJPW before Wrestle Kingdom came to us from AXSTV on Friday, featuring a CMLL World Welterweight Championship title defense, and a tag match between four warring competitors. The main event was Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata taking on Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii, and boy did they go to war. Read the full play-by-play HERE.
— And of course, tonight is WWE’s Clash of Champions PPV live from Indianapolis, IN. Face To Heel will be live from the arena! We will try to Tweet, get lots of photos, and soak in every wonderful moment. Read all about our full match predictions HERE and be sure to follow our site and our writers on twitter: @FaceToHeel, @OhhhTweener, @MrNotWell. Enjoy the show everybody and we’ll see you tomorrow for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Editor’s Note: Last Friday, I had a very interesting day-long conversation with @THEmtg3drinks on Twitter which spurred some fascinating off the cuff ideas. Using that convo led me to write this article. Many thanks, friend.
Dean Ambrose was a poor WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy. He’s entertaining. He’s good for a laugh. But his workrate is lousy and if his opponent isn’t really good and pushing him, he just doesn’t come through like a champion should. His mic work is questionable and there are several other guys on the Smackdown Live roster who are more deserving and better suited for carrying the title. Enter A.J. Styles.
No one can argue that Styles has had a memorable year. He made his debut at the Royal Rumble, foregoing NXT and jumping straight to the main roster. He got a title shot, he beat John Cena, and now he has won the championship faster than any person before him. It’s been an incredible journey. Unfortunately, John Cena is still breathing air. And now that Ambrose has dropped the belt to Styles, it’s inevitable that he collides with Cena.
Despite Cena’s polarizing effect on the WWE Universe, for better or worse, he is destined to be a 16-time champion. In fact, he will be at least a 17-time champion before his career is over. Not because he’s better than Ric Flair, but most likely because Vince McMahon will always consider Flair to be a WCW guy, and Vince is too petty to let the record holder be any one other than a tried-and-true WWE Superstar. All that has been said to say this: AJ Styles is probably going to drop the title to John Cena at some point in the near future.
Whether this happens sooner or later remains to be seen. But the safe bet is that, at the very least, John Cena walks into the Smackdown side of WrestleMania 33 as the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Wait, put your cackles down and don’t throw that rotten tomato at me. Hear me out. I have a plan.
The Undertaker is running on fumes. He’s past his expiration date and seriously needs to retire. But he’s been The Man in Black for so many years, that he can’t just up and quit. As the premiere (and most eclectic) storyteller in the business of professional wrestling, he needs a grand exit. Fast forward to Royal Rumble next year. They do one for Raw, they do one for Smackdown. (Hold your grumbles until the end, please.) Undertaker comes out of nowhere as the #30 entrant to the Smackdown side. And wins. Cena vs The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The caveat: if Cena wins, Undertaker has to retire; if Taker wins, he gets the championship. At this point everyone thinks this is Undertaker’s retirement match. But in a surprise twist, Undertaker wins the title!
The next Tuesday on Smackdown, Undertaker comes out and says he beat the man, won the belt, and has nothing else to prove. He says he is retiring. Shane McMahon interrupts and demands he give the belt back. Instead, Undertaker Tombstones Shane and then walks out with the belt, retiring this current version of it. Smackdown gets a new shiny title, Undertaker goes out as a champion, and Cena actually gets a boost in fan love because he did the job for Undertaker on his final go home match.
This current version of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was introduced by an old school, Attitude Era guy. So it makes sense to retire it with an old, old, old school and Attitude Era guy. Think about it. The Rock brought in and held this title, Triple H held this title (and was the “gateway” for the new up and comers to go through to get it: Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose) and, finally, The Undertaker walks into the twilight with this title. It’s a fantastic story and will make a killer DVD. The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is reintroduced in a new format with a new Smackdown themed look, and everybody wins. Cena looks like a hero, Undertaker leaves after firing all the bullets in his gun, and people are talking about Smackdown Live and their title for months to come.
The aftermath is The Undertaker is put into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 34, John Cena will get his 17th title reign with an authentic, new title, and everyone will be tuning in to see Cena take on The Undertaker to make WrestleMania 33 one of the most watched pay-per-views in history. It makes sense for John Cena to retire The Undertaker as on Cena’s debut night, he shockingly was encouraged by and even shook hands with The Undertaker on live television. This will be the last hurrah of Taker, and the last final mega push for Cena. He will get one more title reign, but nothing as extravagant as this. He can slide over into a part-time role; heck, maybe even turn heel. Or possibly become a Raw or Smackdown GM after the next roster draft lottery.
I hate John Cena and even I like this idea. It’s a win-win for everybody, especially Vince who will just laugh maniacally as he collects huge fat checks. The Raw side of WrestleMania next year is going to be just fine with all the best stars climbing over each other for that Universal Championship. This is a fun and unique way to give Smackdown a giant moment and keep both brands at the top of their game. And since Cena has never taken on Undertaker at WrestleMania, it seems fair for him to get That Moment. I mean, c’mon, Triple H has done it three times. What do you think? Wishful thinking, great idea, or obnoxious pipedream? Please let us know in the comments below!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
First and foremost, we must discuss Roman Reigns, who came to the ring doing his best Randy Orton impression and failing miserably. He tried to shrug off the crowd with a smug, arrogant look on his face, but all it did was squint his features together like a fat kid overjoyed about getting a big bowl of ice cream. He declared himself not a good guy or a bad guy, but THE guy. It was an awkward promo and not at all aligned with his character. Two weeks ago he was trying to kill Triple H backstage and now he’s a cocky frat boy who finally got the keys to his daddy’s Lambo. What is it with this guy? They keep throwing shit at him and can’t make any of it stick. His personality has gone back and forth from one end of the spectrum to the other. Is he a heel? Is he a babyface? Is he there for business? Is he a tough guy? Is he a bully? Is he a victim? For once, can we just have WWE figure out a vehicle for this guy and stick with it, for better or worse?
On the subject of Reigns, what exactly is the point of the World Heavyweight Title picture? First they set up a fatal fourway with Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and AJ Styles. Then Owens “injures” Zayn and Cesaro takes his place. And the outcome of the match is AJ Styles wins to become the #1 Contender? It’s a baffling scenario, even when looked at from every angle. First, the fact that anyone of them even thought they were first in line for a shot at the title. Sami Zayn wrestled for NXT this weekend and took an awesome loss to Shinsuke Nakamura. And he has spent the better part of a month being assaulted by Kevin Owens. I’m not even sure Zayn and Reigns have interacted on camera. Kevin Owens lost the Intercontinental Championship in a seven man ladder match at WrestleMania the night before. If we want to pretend kayfabe exists, then how can the guy incapable of holding on to his IC title possibly think he can capture and keep the WHC? Jericho is old and should not be mixed up in the title picture, even if he did get a win over Styles the night before. Meanwhile, Styles has spent most of his debut months battling with Jericho, but now he gets a shot at the title? And at WrestleMania he hit Jericho with two Styles Clashes and Y2J was able to kick out of both and go on to win. But on Raw, one Styles Clash does the job? And as much as we all love Cesaro, the night he returns from injury he gets a chance to possibly compete for the world title? A better program would be Cesaro going after Zack Ryder or The Miz for the IC gold. It just doesn’t make any sense.
Baron Corbin shocked everyone when he won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. It was a big statement. He came out on Raw and said anybody in his path would meet their End of Days (his finisher) and stood next to the trophy. There was a huge opportunity for his character, but instead WWE went with the odd choice of having Dolph Ziggler come out and take a seven minute beating in and outside of the ring. Both men would eventually be counted out. Why was this decision made? The size disadvantage made Ziggler look like a dwarf and just straight up destroying him did nothing for Corbin’s persona. At the Battle Royal, Corbin won by eliminating Kane. What would have made for a much more dramatic moment was to have Corbin state his intent and then Kane’s fire explodes. He runs down and they just brawl and the result can still be a count out. Having a Ziggler squash match in your first Raw is boring. Having Baron Corbin go face to face with the Big Red Demon, someone of equal size, would have been an epic moment, and would have made for a logical story for them to have a match at Payback.
Then there’s the WWE Women’s Championship. The entire booking for this program is just blatantly wrong. Triple H has done a marvelous thing with the women’s division down in NXT, spearheaded by the four horsewomen of Sasha Banks, Bayley, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte. The females have revitalized women’s wrestling within the company and have even headlined main events for the NXT Takeover pay-per-views. When Charlotte, Becky, and Sasha got the call up to the main roster, we all began to wonder what-if. What if we had a competent female division? What if we had a worthy female champion? What if The Bella Twins and their Total Divas were no longer the face of women’s wrestling? Thankfully, Charlotte ended Nikki Bella’s terrible title reign. For almost 200 days, Charlotte has been helped by her father, the two time Hall of Famer Ric Flair, to win match after match and successfully retain her title. In the WrestleMania 32 preshow, former female wrestler and Hall of Famer, Lita, presented a new WWE Women’s Championship. A legit belt that was poised to usher in a new era of female wrestling. Later that night, Charlotte faced Sasha and Becky in a triple threat match, with the winner making the Divas Championship defunct and winning the newly christened Women’s Championship. But as she has been doing for months, Charlotte used her father to cheat and win the new belt. Then she came out on Raw and acted like a whiny, petulant child. She alienated all the other females and made the crowd boo her as the new belt was formally presented. It should have been a women’s night, but it was a Flair showcase. And of course Ric Flair was out there looking senile and lost. If the women’s champion is dependent on help from a man in order to secure victories, and she acts even worse than the Total Divas do when it comes to throwing fits, the new title is already diminished. It feels like a new belt but the same old antics from the writers who want to do tired soap opera angles instead of just let these athletes do their thing. If this is supposed to be a women’s revolution, this is not a good springboard to transition us into it.
WrestleMania and Raw both left more questions than answers. We still don’t have a viable opponent to go against The New Day for the tag team championships. The Intercontinental Championship took another step in the wrong direction with a program featuring The Miz vs Zack Ryder. The new, shiny women’s title has already been tarnished, leaving the fans still unsure if they should get excited about it. No one knows, and may never know, what was in Vince’s lockbox. The entire Shane/Vince/Undertaker storyline just came to an unsatisfying end. Vince merely said nobody had anything to hold over his head and, hey, why not let Shane take control of Raw tonight even though he lost the right to control at WrestleMania. Meanwhile, Shane was shown maybe twice last night and didn’t little more than get his name attached to matches via Michael Cole. And lastly, we spent three hours without Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, Triple H, Ryback and Kalisto and the United States Championship, or Stardust. The highlight was Enzo and Big Cass making an impactful and hilarious debut on the main roster. But other than that, it was an additional three hours of time fans will never get back.
While realizing multiple top tier guys are out injured, this does not excuse the lack of interesting creative ideas for WrestleMania and what is supposed to be the biggest Raw of the year. It seemed like instead of bringing things to a resolution, they just made the divide between reason and illogic madness that much bigger. If someone had said the night after the Royal Rumble, “Hey, three months from now it’s going to be Roman Reigns versus AJ Styles for the world title,” we would have looked at them as if they were insane. Mania and Raw left a sour taste in the mouth and there’s no signs that anything will be coming soon to cleanse the palette. It’s head scratching oddities. WWE isn’t playing chess. They aren’t even playing checkers. They’re playing a game of tic-tac-toe on a scrap of notebook paper, marking X’s and O’s with a crayon. This new direction is headed towards a cliff’s edge and we’re all along for the crash and burn ride. We have gags in our mouths and our eyelids are taped open. Brace yourselves, we’re in for some fatalities in the creative department of WWE.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Anybody who regularly follows this site knows how unhappy I was with WrestleMania. I’m actually looking forward to Monday Night Raw tonight to try and right the ship and do things properly. Mania did not at all deliver for my money. Let’s see if Vince and Company are capable of putting on a good show and dropping a few surprises along the way.
Vince McMahon kicks off the show, riding the high of his son’s defeat at the hands of The Undertaker. Vince says he has Shane’s lockbox and that he now has total control and nobody has any dirt on him. Shane McMahon comes out to a huge pop and has a giant bruise on the side of his face. Shane thanks the crowd and says goodbye. His music hits, but Vince cuts it off. Vince allows Shane to run the show just for tonight! Crowd goes ballistic.
The New Day enters and the crowd starts a “New Day Rocks!” chant, as they dance to their music. The Tag Team Championships are on the line! This is great, but why didn’t they do it last night? The League of Nations come down after a hilarious promo by New Day. Decent match. A better outing than last night by far. Barrett on his back to take the pinfall. New Day retains! Sheamus cuts on the mic and says, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Rusev and Del Rio grab Wade Barrett and he gets Brogue Kicked in the face. Bray Wyatt’s music hits and all hell breaks loose. What the hell? Sister Abigail on Sheamus. Crowd starts a “Thank You, Wyatt!” chant as he screams to follow the buzzards.
Summer Rae in the ring after the break. She insults Sasha Banks. The Boss comes out. Sasha slaps the hell out of Summer. Ref rings the bell. Bank Statement submission after a brief, sloppy match. Summer taps. Not much to report here.
Prince Pretty, Tyler Breeze, comes out with his selfie-stick and gets in the ring. Apollo Crews’ music hits! He’s having his Raw debut match. Breeze tries to steal the show, but Crews is too big, too fast, too strong. Spin Out Powerbomb ends this one in a couple minutes. Big win for the NXT call up!
Roman Reigns comes out, gets heavily booed. He says, “I’m not a bad guy. I’m not a good guy. I’m THE guy.” Which does not go over and he doesn’t sell it well. He says if anybody wants the title to come out. Jericho’s music hits. Y2J looks either high or really tired. He’s dressed like a hipster college kid with tight pants, a leather jacket and a shiny scarf. His voice is hoarse and he can barely be heard. This is a flat, cold, dead, boring segment. Jericho demands a title shot. AJ Styles interrupts. The crowd is not reacting to any of these three guys. But then Kevin Owens comes out and everybody loses their mind. Now business is picking up. Sami Zayn enters next. I guess Oprah is giving out title shots tonight. Owens/Zayn and Y2J/Styles all attack one another. Reigns makes some dumb face. Then he spears Jericho. After the break, Shane tells Reigns backstage all four men have a fatal four way for the main event. The winner gets #1 Contender to the world title.
Baron Corbin comes out. The announce team recaps the Battle Royal from Mania. He stands next to the Andre the Giant trophy. Hops on the mic. Says his arrival signals the end of days for anyone that stands in his way. Dolph Ziggler’s music hits. Ziggler gets destroyed for ten minutes. Ref stops the match after both men are counted out. Corbin continues beating Ziggler around the barricade and storms out.
Zack Ryder, the Intercontinental Champion, comes out. He thanks his dad. The Miz interrupts. Miz demands a shot at the title to prove last night wasn’t a fluke. Ref comes down and we have a match. Pretty solid match from both guys, Ryder puts on a good show in front of his pops. Miz starts shit with Ryder’s dad. He gets slapped. Miz’s wife jumps the barricade and slaps Ryder’s dad. Miz hits the skull crushing finale and it’s over. Miz wins the title!
Lita in the ring to formally present the WWE Women’s Championship to Charlotte. The champ comes out with Daddy Flair. Charlotte tries to give a sincere speech, but the crowd is not having it. They chant for Bayley. Charlotte tries to be a good heel but she fails. She certainly didn’t learn how to work a promo from her father. The women all walk out on Charlotte. All except Natalya who gets on a mic. She asks for a title shot. Charlotte says the title proves her family will always be better than the Hart family. Nattie attacks and Ric Flair saves his daughter. I doubt the title will be around Charlotte’s waste for too much longer.
The Usos and Dudleys go at it in a tables match. Dudleys are the first to get a table out, but The Usos take them out, jumping through the ropes. Crowd gets bored early, starts chanting for NXT wrestlers. Two tables get set up in the ring. Dudleys attempt a double powerbomb but the Usos counter. Usos try the same spot they did last night, but the Dudleys move and the Usos crash themselves through the tables, giving the Dudleys the win. Owens attacks Sami backstage and puts him through a table. Zayn is now out of the fatal four way.
Dudleys are still out in the arena. Enzo and Cass’s music hits. Finally. We’ve been waiting for these guys to move up for awhile. Crowd goes nuts. Enzo works the mic elegantly. Calls the Dudleys haters. Enzo kills the Dudleys on the mic, laying out insults to the crowd’s delight. Cass calls them out and the Dudleys fake getting into the ring, but cut tail and run. Crowd boos them. There’s only one word to describe them, and Cass is going to spell it out. S-A-W-F-T….SWAFTTTTTTT!
Main event time. Styles comes out, followed by Jericho and Kevin Owens. Instead of Sami Zayn, Cesaro is the 4th competitor. Good match. The crowd heavily into this one. All four men bring their a-game. Cesaro certainly hasn’t missed a step. Cesaro hits the Cesaro Swing and then locks the Sharp Shooter on Y2J, in honor of his former tag partner. AJ hits the Stles Clash and pins Jericho to become #1 Contender. What a strange, strange choice.
This Raw had a few bright spots, but it felt like it ran too long like WrestleMania did. Without the crowd, this would have just been another basic Raw. Styles vs Reigns does not set up anything very exciting. Ryder vs The Miz for the IC Title isn’t worth watching. Triple H wasn’t even there. After wasting seven hours yesterday, it felt like I just wasted three more hours tonight. I might have to DVR Raw next week so I can fast forward through it. Watching live just doesn’t have much appeal right now.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
After last night’s WrestleMania, I may be ready for another vacation from wrestling; if Raw doesn’t bring the house down tonight, I’m taking a break until the Payback PPV. We started the night off with a two hour preshow that began with the US Title match. Kalisto defended his title against Ryback at 5:45pm while most of the fans weren’t even in the building, and before the preshow was on USA Network for those fans without the WWE Network. It was a terrible way to treat the title and the two men competing for it. If WWE doesn’t treat the title as something important, why should the fans care about it?
The two USA Network preshow matches were The Usos vs The Dudleys and Team BAD & Blonde vs Team Total Divas. The women’s match was all about Lana, at least in the buildup. When it came down to the match though, we barely got any Lana and instead got Brie acting like Daniel Bryan. If she’s retiring and needs to go out with a great match, fine. But how is stealing her husband’s moveset a positive way to go out? It was frustrating to watch. The Usos vs The Dudleys was the one match I assumed would be a throwaway, but it ended up being confusing. The Dudleys are meant to be the heels here, but were playing to the crowd, getting cheered, and it was the Usos who closed out the match with a questionable heel-like ending by putting Bubba and D-Von through two tables. The best part of the preshow kickoff was when Lita unveiled the new Women’s Title; that thing is a masterpiece.
WrestleMania began with the ladder match for the IC Title, which was phenomenal. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens looked like they honestly hated each other; both men were intense and focused on getting the win. There were some pretty scary spots, especially Sin Cara diving off a ladder and onto Stardust, who lay on a ladder outside of the ring. The tribute to Dusty Rhodes with Stardust’s gear and the polka dotted ladder was such a heartwarming gesture. We were teased with Miz stealing a victory, but ultimately Zack Ryder won the title. Zack Ryder. Who saw that one coming? I was incredibly happy with this entire match and pumped for the rest of the night. Every single competitor brought their A game and put everything on the line. There was not a single moment of downtime, and that ending was nothing short of genius; no one seriously thought that Ryder would walk away as champ. I loved it.
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho was basically the same thing we’ve already seen. Jericho keeps kicking out of the Styles Clash, which is frustrating, and then he beat Styles, which is confusing. You would think we’d be protecting the talent that is going to stick around and be here week after week, not handing the veteran a win so he can go off and tour with Fozzy. Outside of a confusing win, the match itself was stale and slow, and the crowd was not feeling it. Styles has been over as hell since his debut, but he keeps getting stuck in matches with Jericho. When do we get to see something else? I swear, if we get Styles vs Jericho, Take 5 at Payback, I’m cancelling my Network subscription.
New Day’s entrance was fantastic, coming out of a massive box of Booty-O’s, but the actual match with League Of Nations was very boring. The crowd looked as if they had fallen asleep at one point. I still can’t understand why the titles weren’t on the line here; every title should be up for grabs at WrestleMania. The whole competition for who is the stronger faction would be fine if that actually meant anything. Remember when Rusev came out in a tank? Where was that showmanship and fanfare this year? The best part of this match involved three men who had nothing to do with the match; Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin. Sweet Chin Music, Mandible Claw, and Stunners for everyone! It was an awesome moment that made me hopeful that the night would be picking up.
Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar was next, and this one had to be good considering it was No Holds Barred. Unfortunately, it was Kendo Stick city with an odd and abrupt ending. It felt like someone backstage ordered the ref to cut the match short. I had been looking forward to this ever since they announced it, and this is what we got? Ambrose and Lesnar could have gone to the extreme, but instead all they did was hit each other with sticks and play with a fire extinguisher. There were some good moments, of course, but overall this was confusing, short and not extreme at all. Lesnar can obviously beat the shit out of people with ease, and Ambrose can take a beating like no other, so why didn’t we get a bloody all-out brawl? Why was Ambrose suddenly unable to continue after we’ve seen him get up and come back after going through worse? I went into this match thinking it would be one of the best of the entire night, and instead was left shaking my head, wondering what the hell I just watched.
The Women’s Title was on the line next, and Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and Charlotte did a great job here. They absolutely killed it and showed us what the female division should look like, and hopefully what it will look like from here on out. My complaint is that Charlotte won with the help of her daddy. Again. Ric Flair prevented Sasha from returning to the ring, which allowed Charlotte time to get Becky to tap. Why in the holy hell are we pushing the strength of a new Women’s Division and still having the champ rely on a man to help her win? Flair should have stayed the hell out of it. This made Charlotte look weak, like if it were not for daddy, she wouldn’t be champ. I don’t want Daddy’s Girl heading the Women’s Division, I want someone who doesn’t need a man standing behind her because she can stand strongly on her own.
Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker was up next, and this match looked exactly how you would expect. A fight between two old men who probably shouldn’t be doing half the things they are trying to do. This was slow and tedious. The highlight was Shane diving off of the top of the cage and onto the announce table, resulting in Taker able to pick up the win and Shane getting carried off on a stretcher. The two broke out of the cell at one point, so an interference would have been awesome, but we didn’t get that. We didn’t really get anything. This was terrible.
The Andre The Giant Battle Royal was interesting with the addition of Shaq as a competitor, but overall it was nothing special. The highlight was seeing NXT star Baron Corbin pick up the win. I hope this means we’ll’ be getting him on the main roster; the guy is seriously on fire. With the Battle Royal moved off the preshow and onto the main card at the last minute, I was expecting to see a hell of a lot of action and surprises. Shaq is gimmicky, not something main-event worthy. I don’t get why this match was moved because other than Corbin’s victory, there was nothing special about this at all. Unremarkable and forgettable. I honestly can’t remember anything about this other than being confused that Shaq showed up and Corbin being the last man standing.
The Rock finally showed up next and faced off with The Wyatt’s which got me hyped up. Rock was in his ring gear, but we didn’t get Bray in the ring; Erick Rowan stepped up to compete and got his ass handed to him in 6 seconds. What is the point? Then, the Family gangs up on Rock and John Fucking Cena comes to his rescue. Honestly, guys, could we have gone one WrestleMania without him? I’m so tired of Cena getting shoved in our faces at every opportunity, especially when he is constantly greeted by a chorus of boos because everyone over the age of 8 is fed up with his cartoonish antics. The Rock would have been better utilized in the Roman vs Triple H fight by interfering and having Reigns turn on him. It would also have been better if we weren’t informed that he would be a part of Mania months ago. We suspected that Stone Cold would be there, but we didn’t see promo after promo advertising the fact, so we got hyped up when his music hit. With The Rock, we were waiting for it all night because WWE has been telling us week after week to expect it.
Our main event was next. Triple H had an awesome entrance as usual, though the whole speech by Stephanie McMahon was a bit odd, and Roman Reigns came out looking all broody as the crowd booed him. The high point was seeing Steph get speared, and the low point was everything else. Predictably, Reigns won. I knew Reigns would win, so that isn’t my issue here. My issue is this entire match was lazy and uneventful and unworthy of a WrestleMania main event. This is the biggest match on the biggest show of the entire year, and it felt like a throwaway Raw moment. Reigns won for the third time, and no one cared.
WrestleMania went over their allotted time by almost an hour, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it was necessary. I’ve already seen the “this is setting things up for Payback” arguments, and quite honestly, I think that is bullshit. WrestleMania is the event of the year; it should not be mediocre in order to set up things for an upcoming PPV. There is no excuse for not putting every title on the line. There is no excuse for lazy booking and shoddy performances. I shouldn’t be so bored during your main event that I mute the PPV and move to a second TV so I can watch the Walking Dead finale.
NXT TakeOver was what WrestleMania should have been. Compelling matches, lots of action and memorable moments, exciting debuts, and match endings that make you cheer even if it wasn’t the outcome you wanted. WWE’s so-called developmental division did the better job this weekend in a fraction of the time and with a fraction of the people. Once TakeOver was over, we immediately went back to rewatch some of the matches. When Mania ended, we happily turned off the Xbox and almost instantly forgot about half the matches we watched. I haven’t seen as many Manias as the typical WWE fan, but this was undoubtedly the worst.
Tonight’s Raw is their chance to make things right, and the WWE has a lot of work to do. We still have The Authority in charge since Shane McMahon failed, but Triple H isn’t champion anymore, so I’m curious to see how they address it. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch should get a rematch tonight; the title should have changed hands last night. The tag titles should also be on the line tonight; not defending them last night was a mistake that needs to be righted. We should get a surprise debut tonight as well; seeing Bayley or Finn Balor on Raw would go a long way in righting some of the wrongs we saw last night. Creative needs to pull their heads out of their asses and put their all into tonight’s show. So many fans are jaded after watching a mind-numbing seven hours of wrestling last night; we need something big to pull us back in and make us want to keep watching. As it stands now, I have one foot out the door and won’t have any regrets about taking a few weeks off from Raw and Smackdown.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
The Undertaker certainly has his work cut out for him tonight against Shane McMahon. Over the years, Shane McMahon has risked life and limb, pulling off death defying feats in big time matches. He has been a fearless competitor. Here is a brief list of some of his crazy moments.
WrestleMania 32 won’t be the first time Shane ‘o’ Mac and The Undertaker have faced off. At the 2000 King of the Ring event, there was a six man match for the WWF Championship. Involved were The Rock, Kane, The Undertaker, Vince McMahon, Triple H, and Shane McMahon. During the match, Shane climbed the top rope to most likely do a frog splash onto a downed Rock in the middle of the ring. Instead, Undertaker climbed onto the apron, wrapped his hand around Shane’s neck and chokeslammed him off the top rope and into the announce table.
The previous year at King of the Ring, Stone Cold Steve Austin took on Vince and Shane McMahon in a 2-on-1 handicap match for control of the company. This match featured dozens of ladders. The high spot for Shane came when Austin threw Shane off of a ladder onto a table. In a surprise twist, the table didn’t break. So Austin leaped off the ladder, dropped an elbow on Shane and smashed him right through the wood. The McMahons would, of course, go on to win the match and keep control of the company. But it was another feather in the hardcore cap of Shane McMahon.
At WrestleMania X-Seven, Shane would take on his father, Vince after a failed WCW Invasion storyline where Vince in real life bought WCW. The match featured a sedated Linda McMahon, a curly haired Stephanie McMahon and the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley as the special guest referee. Shane took quite the beating at the hands of his father, but after Linda McMahon came back to life, low blowing Vince, Shane set his father up sitting in the corner with a steel garbage can pressed against him. Shane crossed the ring to the adjacent corner, climbed to the top rope, and jumped across the ring to kick the garbage can into his dad. It was a great feat of agility and cemented Shane as a main event player.
Shane’s biggest jaw-dropping moment came during SummerSlam 2000 against the “Lethal Weapon” Steve Blackman. This match was for the now defunct WWF Hardcore Championship. Shane got the brakes beat off him by Blackman throughout the match. Shane ran for his life, just trying to escape the wrath of his opponent. His flight from the ring took him up the ramp where he then climbed a steel support beam for the Titantron. Steve Blackman followed him up the pole, carrying a kendo stick with him. When he caught up with Shane, he clocked him multiple times in the legs and back. Shane McMahon went limp and fell straight down a good 40 feet (at least) to his fate below. The crowd went bananas and Jim Ross scream, “My god! Is there anything left of Shane McMahon?! Where did he land?!”
Much like his father, Shane McMahon has given his all to the business when it mattered. He never blinked and he never backed down, leaving us with many unforgettable moments in the ring. Tonight Shane takes on The Undertaker in the dreaded Hell in a Cell. You better believe he has some wild stunt planned that will leave a lasting impression long after AT&T Stadium clears out.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Tonight marks the twenty-fourth time The Undertaker will compete in singles competition at WrestleMania. The stakes have never been higher and the pressure has never been greater for The Dead Man. To see what obstacle Undertaker has to overcome, we must first look back at the mountains he had to climb to get here.
Throughout the years, The Undertaker has become synonymous with WrestleMania. Each year, he added another notch to his belt, defeating another Superstar. From the first opponent at WrestleMania 7, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, to his twenty-first victory against CM Punk, Undertaker has laid to rest many high caliber wrestlers over the years.
The list of greats defeated at the hands of The Undertaker is epic. Jimmy Snuka, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, King Kong Bundy, his brother Kane twice, Triple H three times, The Big Bossman, Ric Flair, Edge, Batista, HBK twice, Randy Orton, and even Mark Henry to name a few. For twenty-one years The Undertaker went undefeated in what is now known as “The Streak.” That is until a Beast by the name of Brock Lesnar suplexed The Undertaker back to the underworld and changed the history books forever.
After his first ever WrestleMania defeat, The Undertaker returned last year to take on The New Face of Fear, Bray Wyatt. In what many thought would be a passing of the torch match, Undertaker surprised us all by moving his streak to 22-1. Bray Wyatt lost in a gallant effort and we all watched as Undertaker tried to regain his previous mystique.
This year Vince McMahon wielded his undead weapon aimed directly at his son, Shane McMahon. To up the ante, Shane will take on The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell. This got many fans excited. The stipulation on the match was that if Shane McMahon wins, he gets control of Monday Night Raw, essentially gaining control of the entire WWE product. This was an interesting turn of events that got the already salivating fans to drool down their chins.
But then a new stipulation was added. If The Undertaker loses, he is no longer allowed to compete at WrestleMania. This raised a few eyebrows. In a strange way, WWE was telling it’s fans that they are aware we want a change in management, but if we get what we want we have to give up one of the most beloved traditions in pro wrestling history. Any outcome in this match now becomes a bittersweet showing. If Shane wins, he gets control of Raw and things get exciting, but we lose Undertaker. If Taker wins, we wake up Monday morning with business as usual, in other words a Vince McMahon chokehold on WWE.
It’s essentially putting the exciting Hell in a Cell match between a rock and a hard place. And what’s worse is that this match was booked to make Shane the face and Taker the heel. If this is Undertaker’s last WrestleMania he goes into it being booed. If he wins the match and beats the hero Shane McMahon, he’ll get booed out of the arena. It’s quite the dilemma. When the final bell tolls, WWE will never be the same one way or another.
Article by Jamie Curtis baker