Jindar Mahal’s Mega Push shows the brand split is working as intended

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…If you’re looking at viewership ratings and profits from outside the U.S., that is.

If you listen to the dirtsheets and pundits, WWE is “a sinking ship” in regards to both RAW and Smackdown. John Cena is scheduled to make his return to Smackdown early next month while the overpaid part-timer and current Universal Champion Brock Lesnar will make his return to RAW this Monday.

All of you need to understand something: Jinder Mahal becoming WWE Champion with virtually no buildup is best for business long-term. WWE’s been expanding its global reach even more thanks to WWE Network. Mahal being champion helps with marketing the brand in India. Those in the U.S. complaining about how things are going need to understand WWE is taking the markets outside the U.S. more seriously than it had in the past.

This is also where the brand split has been working as intended. To alot of people it looks like a lack of direction on WWE’s part. The truth of the matter is the creative team has simply gotten better at adjusting storylines on the fly. That and for the first time since The Attitude Era, WWE isn’t relying so heavily on longtime vets or former superstars to boost ratings. This is excluding Brock Lesnar, The Big Show, Mark Henry, Randy Orton and John Cena of course.

Dean Ambrose is a workhorse and is a prime example of how to develop new talent. He can do prettymuch anything in the ring and has decient mic skills. Same for Bray Wyatt. They along with Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens are the new top-tier talent in WWE. In the women’s division you have Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, Alexia Bliss and Naomi. All of them can draw a crowd at the drop of a hat.

The depush of James Ellesworth at the end of last year was a matter of time. His character had run its course so…yeah. Right now, WWE is trying to figure out how to use him. He was decient on the indie circuit but since he’s a joke character in WWE, that limits how he can really be used.

 

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Jindar Mahal’s Mega Push shows the brand split is working as intended

The Inhuman Feat of Strength everyone is STILL talking about

…And will be talking about possibly for YEARS to come =O

The video is cued to start just before the moment Braun Strowman shocked the WWE Universe:

…The trolls who commented on this video were quick to point out the fact a shadow can be seen exiting the back of the ambulance–probably Roman Reigns–just before Braun Strowman flips the Ambulance completely over. The camera momentarily shows you the back of the now closed rear ambulance doors (which was clearly a botch as they were open moments before) and confirms no one was in the back.

By the way, that Ambulance’s weight averages 5 tons. You usually see bodybuilders pull or push a vehicle of that size and bigger in competitions but Strowman went full power and flipped it over =O

Roman Reigns’ reported “injuries” afterward are clearly a work. He’s probably going to be taking some time off. The rumors are swirling between retiring The Undertaker and putting over Strowman with this segment Reigns will (finally) Heel turn. With Ambrose as a Face and Rollins a Face, it makes too much sense not for Reigns to Heel turn when he returns now that all three former Shield members are on RAW (Presumably intentional). Ambrose is too over with the crowd to Heel turn and doesn’t need it. Neither does Rollins, who became a Face when he returned from injury last year. Reigns, on the other hand does need it since he doesn’t have the mat skills and mic skills John Cena has that allowed him to not Heel turn since his early years.

As for Strowman, he is clearly being built to feud with Lesnar. Whatever doubts the WWE Universe may have had in regards to Strowman facing Lesnar were prettymuch answered with what he did on RAW. It’s going to be one hell of a matchup =O

The Inhuman Feat of Strength everyone is STILL talking about

WWE Shake Up Part 2: RAW to Smackdown

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Here were in Part 2 of the WWE Shake Up! Today we are looking at Superstars shipped from RAW to Smackdown.

  • Byron Saxton (Commentator)
  • U.S. Champion Kevin Owens
  • Sami Zayn
  • Primo and Epico (The Shining Stars, Tag Team)
  • Jinder Mahal
  • Tamina
  • Charlotte Flair
  • Sin Cara
  • Rusev and Lana
  • The New Day

 

…As expected, KO and SZ are a package deal. LOL. Sami Zayn had been the subject of rumors to be going to Smackdown since the draft last year. Now that it’s official, he can be properly developed. KO was hugely successful¬† on RAW.

Right off the bat, AJ Styles was confirmed to remain on The Blue Brand. He will be involved in a triple threat match with Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn for the #1 Contender spot vs. whoever the U.S. Champion will be after Payback.

Speaking of: D-Bry came out to confirm what I assumed would be the case with the IC and U.S. titles: Dean Ambrose and KO will defend their titles at Payback, which apparently will be cross-brand. Presumably both will retain so the announcement is just to clarify things.

…Tamina joining Smackdown is AWESOME. She was a Monster Heel when she first came to WWE several years back. She was a part of the Team B.A.D. stable two years ago alongside Naomi and Sasha Banks two years ago. Tamina being back can only mean good things for the Smackdown roster. As expected, Charlotte and Alexia Bliss swapped places more or less. It was a surprise Sasha Banks was not announced given Boston is her hometown (though she lives in Los Angeles on that note LOL).

Sin Cara and Rusev were announced as joining Smackdown from RAW offcamera. Lana was not mentioned but she will be joining her husband. Lana was apparently roughed up by TSA employees at Logan Airport in Boston and this is likely why the pair did not appear in person on Smackdown. With Simon Gotch gone, it looks like WWE Creative is going to make Aiden English a solo superstar. Gotch was released by WWE last week as previously announced.

The New Day was announced as coming to Smackdown as predicted. They were announced as “Coming Soon”, presumably after Kofi Kingston returns after being injured last week.

…That’s it for this week but there is certainly the possability more swaps will be announced over the weeks leading to Payback. Only time will tell.

 

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WWE Shake Up Part 2: RAW to Smackdown

WWE Shake Up Part 1: Smackdown to Raw

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Day 1 of the Raw/Smackdown Shakeup is on! This post highlights WWE Superstars going from Smackdown to Raw. Apollo Crews was announced as going to RAW early Monday afternoon. Calisto, Heath Slater and Rhyno (Tag Team) were announced during RAW as coming to the Red Brand.

  • Apollo Crews
  • Calisto
  • Heath Slater and Rhyno
  • The Miz
  • Maryse
  • Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose
  • Curt Hawkins
  • Bray Wyatt
  • Alexia Bliss
  • Mickey James
  • David Otunga (Commentator)

…What we don’t know yet is if any of the RAW Superstars appearing tonight will also appear on Smackdown tomorrow night. That’s certainly possible.

Dean Ambrose iS booked to defend the IC Championship at Payback vs. Baron Corbin and will likely retain so the IC title stays with him on RAW. Speaking of Ambrose, Rene Young confirmed on Talking Smack this week she and Ambrose got married in Las Vegas on Sunday. If I had to guess, they wanted to get married before the roster change was announced. Their offscreen relationship was part of the feud involving Dean Ambrose and The Miz last year.

In addition, Bray Wyatt will challenge Randy Orton to a rematch for the WWE Championship at Payback in 3 weeks. He probably won’t be involved in any RAW storylines until that match’s outcome which he will likely be booked to lose to keep the WWE Championship on Smackdown. He has taken an interst in Finn Balor on that note.

…Now that RAW is done, the Smackdown imports are mostly as expected or meant to make room for the smaller Smackdown roster. Alexia Bliss moving to RAW was teased on WWE.com so…yeah. I’m almost certain Charlotte will be on Smackdown tomorrow. The question is who else from the Women’s Division will join her? My money’s on Nia Jaxx or Sasha Banks.

Bray Wyatt, The Miz and Dean Ambrose will be huge draws. Apollo Crews, Health Slater and Rhyno could too if they’re used properly. Calisto and Hawkins were likely moved just to clear space in Smackdown.

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WWE Shake Up Part 1: Smackdown to Raw

Bleacher Report reveals two possibly confirmed Brand Swaps

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Not even 3 days after Vince McMahon made the big announcement, Bleacher Report has reportedly confirmed two brand swaps: AJ Styles will be going to RAW while The New Day will be going to Smackdown. There is pending confirmation Charlotte Flair and Alexia Bliss will switch brands as well based recent booking involving one or both superstars.

Should they happen, all 3 brand swaps would make a whole lot of sense:

  • AJ Styles going to RAW is a no-brainer as The Club will be reformed. He had a nice, long run as the WWE Champion on Smackdown and is pretty over with the WWE Universe. With Finn Balor back from injury, Styles could be used to help him get broken in again. Or Kevin Owens. Syles, like Seth Rollins would be fine as either a Face or a Heel.
  • The New Day going to Smackdown goes without saying. Despite not really being used since they lost the Tag Team titles they’re still mega popular. They would do for The Blue Brand what John Cena is (now) doing for Smackdown and raise the profile of the show’s tag team division. RAW’s a bit overloaded between Gallows and Anderson, Sheamus and Caesaro, Enzo and Cass and now The Hardy Boys so…yeah. Now’s a good time for them to move.
  • Charlotte and Alexia swapping for each other would be huge for the brand they go to. Charlotte would raise the profile of Smackdown’s Women’s Division, which doesn’t really have a main draw aside from Nikki Bella, Becky Lynch and Naomi (current Smackdown Women’s Champion). Charlotte would be the badly needed shot in the arm Smackdown’s Women’s Division is looking for. Alexia would be great competition for Sasha Banks, Bayley and possibly Nia Jaxx. I’m assuming both stay Heels after the switch of course.

…There were rumors Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins could be moved as well. Reigns moving seems unlikely post-Wrestlemania given he may be involved with Brock Lesnar (current Universal Champion) and Braun Strowman. Rollins going to Smackdown could work, on the other hand since no one wants to see another Cena/Orton feud for the WWE Championship. Plus let’s be honest it would be real interesting seeing Rollins and fellow former Shield member Dean Ambrose (current Intercontinental Champion) paired as well.

…Of course, the obvious question is who goes the other way in exchange. Here are my picks based on just these names and others I’ve heard floating around:

  • AJ to RAW, Rollins to Smackdown
  • Charlotte and Alexia swap with each other
  • The New Day to Smackdown, Slater and Rhyno to RAW
  • Luke Harper to RAW, Mark Henry to Smackdown
  • Sami Zayn and Dolph Ziggler swap with each other
  • Carmella and James Ellesworth to RAW, Rusev and Lana to Smackdown
  • Aiden English to 205 Live
  • Shane and Stephanie McMahon swap with each other

Speaking if Aiden English: His partner Simon Gotch was released by WWE yesterday. It was presumably due to his piss-poor attitude as well as some trouble he got into with other superstars, all backstage. The Vaudvillains weren’t really used much since the brand split either so…yeah. I believe English already meets the weight requirement to be a Cruiserweight (200 lbs or less) so…yeah. It’ll be the chance for him to be rebranded and work with established talent.

On that note: There are rumors USA Network is offering WWE a slot for the Cruiserweight division, which currently airs on WWE Network. It’s nothing more than a rumor though.

Ellsworth…it’s clear WWE is trying to figure out what to do with him for the rest of his contract at this point. Sending him with Carmella to RAW could help. At the same time, bringing Rusev and Lana to Smackdown would give The Blue Brand another mixed tag team to feud with The Miz/Maryse or John Cena/Nikki Bella.

There is also the possability Shane and Stephanie will switch shows. There’d been talk bringing back the Authority Faction after the split was an unintended accident but since it got alot of attention, they ran with it. Stephanie McMahon is the Chief Branding Officer in WWE outside her on-screen role as RAW Comissioner. Sending Shane McMahon, who doesn’t have an official role outside his on-screen character to RAW will allow RAW to fully cut ties with the Authority Faction.

It would also be pretty interesting to see Shane and RAW GM Kurt Angle interact with each other. The two put on some great matches back in the day. Likewise, there are the usual rumors the real reason Stephanie’s been joining her husband in the gym more over the last year (she does regularly work out) is she is preparing to return to in-ring action. She wouldn’t mesh well against the RAW women but Smackdown’s is a different story.

Finally, I don’t see any of the current title holders moving. Not unless they’re swapped for the corresponding title holder on the other brand. For example Universal Champion Brock Lesnar swaps with WWE Champion Randy Orton. Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose (Smackdown) for U.S. Champion Kevin Owens (RAW) is certainly possible as is RAW Women’s Champion Bayley for Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi.

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Bleacher Report reveals two possibly confirmed Brand Swaps

The Undertaker retires at Wrestlemania 33

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…The rumors turned out to be true: Wrestlemania 33 would be Mark Calloway aka The Undertaker’s last match of his career. The 52 year old Superstar was clearly given full control for what would be his final match on the stage that made him a legend. When it was announced Thursday that Jim Ross would be coming back to call one match, we knew it would likely be for one of three matches. It turned out it was ‘Taker vs. Reigns, which itself turned out to be the main event on the card (The other two possabilities being Lesnar vs. Goldberg and Orton vs. Wyatt). The clincher was when the match was made the main event over the 3 title matches before them in which a new Champion was crowned. (Lesnar, Orton and Naomi).

Anyone who’s followed The Undertaker’s career knows the laundry list of accomplishments credited to him name, most of which involve Wrestlemania. I won’t go over all of them but of course. ‘Taker holds two records that will probably never be approached: Most Wrestlemania matches (25) and longest Wrestlemania streak (21). His only losses were at WM30 vs. Brock Lesnar, who ended The Streak and this year at WM33 vs. Roman Reigns, who comes from a family of Wrestling Legends (Rikishi, The Rock and so on).

It would probably be accurate to say Vince McMahon allowed The Undertaker to choose his final opponent and where. He did pick Lesnar to be the one to end The Streak, after all. The Deadman had expressed a strong interest in working with Daniel Bryan a few years ago but due to a career-ending neck injury after Wrestlemania 31, D-Bry was off the table. Choosing The Big Dog was very symbolic.

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As was the promo for their match, ‘Taker chose Roman Reigns to be the new cornerstone of Wrestlemania. While I don’t see Reigns donnning ‘Taker’s gear and coming out to his music, he will become the new standard of greatness at Wrestlemania.

Simply having competed against The Undertaker at Wrestlemania would raise his profile but actually winning the match? The Roman Empire will now rule Wrestlemania for years to come barring the unforseeable. While it’s doubtful Reigns will compete in 20 more Wrestlemania matches, he will have alot of big ones. Last year’s match vs. Triple Hfelt stale compared to his singles debut at Wrestlemania 31 vs. Brock Lesnar.

Speaking of: Alot of folks were apparently expecting Roman Reigns to Heel turn during this match just like last year vs. The Game. I don’t see him becoming another John Cena but I think he will Heel turn before the year is over.

Undertaker Retires WrestleMania

The Undertaker had his last match¬† but I doubt we’ve seen the last of him. I would not be surprised at all if he is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame next year. It would be fitting. The WWE allowed him to go out in style and to retire with dignity. Who can forget how The Deadman had to be carted out of the ring after Wrestlemania 28? That was perhaps when The Deadman truly realized he was running out of time.

There were rumors his match with Shane was supposed to be his final match but due to post-show rumors about him, it’s likely WWE Officials wanted things to be more definite this time. Man, what a send off. The picture above says it all. The Undertaker is now free to disappear into the sunset.

…I will talk about other Wrestlemania news and results in two separate posts throughout today and tomorrow by brand. Later today, I will do one for RAW. Tomorrow, I will do one for Smackdown.

 

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The Undertaker retires at Wrestlemania 33

Jack Swagger released by WWE

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WWE.com broke the news this past weekend.

The news isn’t that big of a surprise given it was revealed contract negotiations suddenly went south a few weeks ago. Swagger asked to be released and presumably his request has been granted.

Swagger had a mostly lackluster career as a WWE Superstar. He did have a title run early in his career as WWE Champion. Ill-timed suspensions due to drug policy violations as well as injuries prevented him from getting too much momentum. WWE tried to give him a push most notably when Alberto Del Rio came back but that ended up falling apart when Del Rio was suspended and later released by WWE.

Initially drafted by RAW during the brand split, Swagger was sent to Smackdown to work with newer talent–specifically Baron Corbin. That ended up being a wasted move since Corbin alreadt had decient in-ring skills at the time. Swagger wasn’t used since so his getting released was prettymuch a forgone conclusion.

…We may see Swagger join the likes of Cody Rhodes, Aron Rex (aka Damien Sandow), Alberto Del Rio and Stu Bennett (aka Wade Barrett) on TNA. They might take a chance and give him a contract. Or he might do indie work. If he returns to WWE, it won’t be for a few years.

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Jack Swagger released by WWE