This week makes the case there should be a roster swap after Survivor Series

Image result for WWE Survivor Series 2018

Survivor Series is just next month. RAW’s TLC is the Sunday after next and Smackdown’s Starcade is two weeks later. We’ll get to those two PPVs in a bit but between Asuka’s RAW debut at TLC, Paige’s Smackdown debut (likely before or at Survivor Series) and the possability of Samoa Joe returning in time for the Royal Rumble (Reminder: He got hurt at Summer Slam), the time for roster shakeup is after Survivor Series. This is aside from the rumors Kevin Owens may be moved to RAW BEFORE Survivor Series.

Here are the Superstars who would benefit the most from a roster change:

  • Darren Young (RAW): Aside from the push he got when he returned from injury last year with Bob Backlund, not much has been done with him. A move to Smackdown would allow him to develop in the midcard level.
  • Bray Wyatt (RAW): I think we can all agree at this point the experiment was a massive failure.
  • Sasha Banks (RAW): Given things are being set up for Charlotte Flair to feud with Ronda Rousey, it makes sense for Sasha to be sent to Smackdown to reuinite the Four Horsewomen. Asuka will dominate RAW out the gate (and will obviously debut as a Babyface) so it makes sense for her to move. There’s not much left for her to do on RAW and besides, Team Red can afford to be without her because of Asuka.
  • Bayley (RAW): Given things are being set up for Charlotte Flair to feud with Ronda Rousey, it makes sense for Bayley to be sent to Smackdown to reuinite the Four Horsewomen. Asuka will dominate RAW out the gate (and will obviously debut as a Babyface) so it makes sense for her to move. Plus there’s the interesting tidbit Bayley dropped in an interview she may Heel turn soon.
  • Dolph Ziggler (Smackdown): Honestly, he needs a real title run. The token Intercontinental Title win last year off the Miz, then losing it the following Smackdown was just dumb. Having him win the U.S. title on RAW could help rebuild him given Dolph hasn’t been in the title picture for years and it’s clearly hurting his potential.
  • Naomi (Smackdown): Assuming Sasha and Bayley move to Smackdown, it makes sense for Naomi–a former 2-time Smackdown Women’s Champion–to be moved to RAW to clash with Asuka and Alexa Bliss.
  • Natalya (Smackdown): Assuming Sasha and Bayley move to Smackdown, it makes sense for Natalya–presumably then the former Smackdown Women’s Champion–to be movedto RAW to clash with Asuka and Alexa Bliss.

…There is also talk WWE might bring back ECW as a third flagship show. The reason the dirtsheets are saying this is there haven’t been large roster releases like there have been in recent years. Former Superstars leaving on their own or asking to be released are the likely reasons we haven’t been seeing mass layoffs in a while.

Speaking of:

Image result for WWE Neville and Enzo

The rumors are RAMPANT Neville is quitting WWE after he walked out an hour into last week’s episode of RAW. The reason should be obvious: Enzo’s Mega Push after the latter’s breakup with Big Cass a few months back. The day after Big Cass got injured, Enzo’s surprise debut on 205 Live happened.

You have to keep in mind Neville is a workhorse. When the Cruiserweight Division relaunched two years ago, they lacked star power. Neville, who was already known from his years on the main roster took the opportunity to reinvent himself as a Heel for the first time in the Cruiserweight Division.

You can’t help but feel for him as his career was stale for a while until he went to the Cruiserweight Division. I would stop short of saying he’s geting buried in exchange for Enzo’s (clearly undeserved) Mega Push though. You have to be mindful Neville did everything he was told to do and literally carried the Cruiserweight Division after becoming the Champion a while back.

WWE was quick to deny Neville quit after he walked out on RAW but they need to find a way to make this right by him. They can’t afford to lose a man of his skill to ROH, NJPW, Impact Wrestling or another promotion who would LOVE to take him in.

It was just last year Cody Rhodes (along with his wife, who worked as a ring announcer) left WWE due to disagreements over his Stardust Persona. He felt it was time for him to revert to Cody Rhodes but the creative team ignored him for months. Finally, he left in frustration a few weeks after his father Dusty Rhodes passed away. His older brother Dustin Rhodes (Goldust) is still with WWE.

Cody has been THRIVING since going to the indie circuit and reinforces the strong case hard work, dedication and loyalty to WWE isn’t always rewarded. Especially due to the favoritism of some Superstars over others.

 

Related image

Let’s move on to RAW-related stuff from last week:

  • Unsurprisingly, The Shield officially reunited last week. Weather it’s long term or short-term, it will be fun to watch them together for now. As a reminder Ambrose and Rollins are the RAW Tag Team Champs while Reigns is clearly being set up to win the Intercontinental Championship from The Miz.
  • Another week without the Universal Champion making an appearance. I get it now why some people said Brock Lesnar is holding WWE hostage a few years ago: He negotiated a massive contract extension and can basically make appearances when he feels like it. Of course, there were the longtime part-timers for years like ‘Taker and Kane. The difference is Lesnar doesn’t like selling matches and putting people over unless he has something to gain from it personally. This was likely why Lesnar lost the title at Wrestlemania 31 in a Triple Threat Match without being pinned. He doesn’t take clean losses unless he will be compensated in some way. This was why his losses to Goldberg at Survivor Series and the Royal were “allowed” plus they’re actually friends in real life.
  • So we know Emma will be Asuka’s first opponent on the main roster. The timing couldn’t be better since almost all of the new talent introduced on WWE are themselves NXT Alumni. Kairi Sane, who won the Mae Young Classic (and is also Japanese) will likely succeed her as the new face of NXT’s Women’s Division.

 

 

Image result for WWE Smackdown

Now to Smackdown-Related stuff from last week:

 

  • The Usos got emotional coming off their brutal match with The New Day, which went down as one of the best Hell in the Cell Matches in recent memory and the best Tag Team Hell in the Match ever. Just as the Usos declared a truce with The New Day, the other tag teams came out to challenge The Usos. The new Smackdown Tag Team champs tore into all of the other teams except Breezango (‘cuz they’re cool), even taking a very pointed shot at Mojo Rowley of the Hype Bros. A Tag Team Battle Royal was helld to decide who would next challenge the Usos, which Gable and Benjamin won.
  • After failing to win the Tag Team Battle Royal, there was a backstage promo in which a full Heel turn by the Hype Bros was teased. Rowley’s frustration with their losing streak since Zack Ryder came back from injury a few months back led many to believe they’re gonna split. Now the team Heel turning seems more likely to happen and it would be good since the Usos clearly Face turned on Smackdown last week.
  • Speaking of Tag Teams: Luke Harper and Eric Rowan were re-introduced in a clearly awkward yet interesting promo. They’re thankfully coming back as a Heel Tag Team, which Smackdown sorely needs. Both had forgetable and poorly booked singles runs on separate occasions. The duo needs to prove they can find success without Bray Wyatt and this could be their opportunity to do it as a tag team.
  • Noticably absent from last week’s Smackdown was the WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal. He flew out after Hell in a Cell to resume promtional work in India and yes, this was why he was booked to retain the title. WWE will need to be careful not to overbook Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura with the latter losing. At this point, Nakamura’s momentum is in danger: He’s failed to win the WWE Championship 3 times in a row. Having him feud with Baron Corbin for the U.S. title could help. In exchange, the time is right to have AJ Styles feud with Mahal and help put him over like he did for Corbin.
  • Ziggler and Roode…clearly they’re both a work in progress. Both will be out of either title picture for the rest of the year so…yeah.

 

…As attention shifts to the RAW-Exclusive TLC this Sunday, the cross-brand Survivor Series will be here before we know it ^_^

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Advertisements
This week makes the case there should be a roster swap after Survivor Series

Hell in a Cell: A Lesson in Brutality

Image result for WWE Hell in a Cell

…Truth be told, It’s been some time since we have seen a quality Hell in a Cell match. At least not since the match between The Undertaker and Edge at Summer Slam 2008. The HIAC matches we’ve seen since then were tame in comparison. Even the one between ‘Taker and Shane ‘O Mac at Wrestlemania 32 fell far below expectations despite Shane’s memorable dive off the top of the cell.

The match involving Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins did offer glimpses of what we may see at this Sunday’s outing: A return to the brutality the WWE Universe has come to expect from a match titled Hell in a Cell.

 

Let’s look at 8 of my personal favorite Hell in the Cell matches up to now:

 

8. Triple H vs. Cactus Jack

Image result for Hell in a Cell Triple H vs Cactus Jack

Ah, Mick Foley’s retirement match. It would be a travesty for this to not be mentioned. It was Championship vs. Career as Triple H battled Mick Foley in the match the latter made famous two years earlier. Just like back then, Foley was put through the cage. The difference was his time it was clearly pre-planned.

7. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair

Related image

Charlotte and Sasha made history last year as the first women to compete inside Hell in a Cell with the RAW Women’s Championship on the line. I commented on this last year but the beatdown Sasha took before the match officially started ruined it. You already knew at that point the outcome had been decided. Charlotte was a Heel but I agree with the critics she could have won without the pre-emptive attack.

The reason this made the list is simply because it opened the door to more HIAC matches involving the Women’s Division.

6. Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

Image result for Hell in a Cell Dean Ambrose vs Seth Rollins

Dean Ambrose had me believing we may see a return to the brutality that has been absent from the now HIAC matches for almost 10 years now. This match took place a few months after The Shield broke up. Ambrose channeled his inner Mick Foley and put on a classic in this battle against The future King Slayer.

 

5. The Undertaker vs. Edge

Related image

Ah, the first of 4 matches on this list featuring The Undertaker ^_^

This was a grudge match made in hell between The Rated-R Superstar and The Phenom who made the match famous. The Undertaker gave Edge a personal lesson in pain after the match was over: After winning the match, he chokeslammed Edge off a ladder through the ring straight into hell.

4. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

Image result for Hell in a Cell Shawn Michaels vs Triple H

…I only just watched this match for the first time on WWE Network today. Afrer seeing how brutal it was, I had to put it on this list. Holy hell. This would be higher up if not for the participants involved in the Top 3.

The match lasted almost an hour.

You would have thought both men were trying to outdo their previous HIAC matches with the brutality they inflicted on each other. By the time it was over, both men were laying unconscious in the middle of the ring.

3. Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. The Undertaker vs. Rikishi vs. The Rock

Related image

This was a star-studded HIAC at Armageddon 2000 for the WWE Championship. The match involved all of the company’s top talent. As you can probably imagine, there was a number of memorable moments from Triple H being Suplexed onto the hood of a car to The Rock overselling The Stunner in the middle of the ring.

The above picture stands as one of the top moments in HIAC history: Hall of Famer Rikishi being pushed off the top of the cell by The Undertaker into the back of a flatbed truck filled with wood chips. ‘Taker DID warn Rikishi if he wasn’t careful, he’d make him famous.

Kurt Angle retained the title by taking advantage of some confusion in the ring.

2. Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker

Image result for Hell in a Cell Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker

Ah, the very first Hell in a Cell match.

Tomorrow makes it 20 years to the day The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels stepped foot inside what would come to be known as The Devil’s Playground for the first time. The only thing more shocking than the horrors The Deadman inflicted on HBK was the Kane’s shocking first appearance in WWE.

‘Taker literally did everything he could think of to HBK from throwing him around like a rag doll to using him as a human battering ram against the side of the cell. He even made him fall off the side of the cell and crash into the announcer’s table. Despite the brutality, it’s agree the abuse he took in his HIAC match with Triple H 7 years later was far worse: At least HBK was able to leave the ring.

Even so, there is a reason this is #2…

1. Mankind vs. The Undertaker

Related image
…There will never be a match like this again. EVER.

There is Hell in a Cell and then there is The 1998 Hell in a Cell match between The Undertaker and Mankind at King of the Ring. Do yourself a favor: Watch the full match on WWE Network if you’ve never seen it.

Let me give you a bit of background info on this legendary match: Prior to the start of the match, ‘Taker had concerns about competing with a nagging foot injury. The match starting on top of the cage was Mick Foley’s idea. Little did they know when they were both up there, this match would cement their place in Wrestling History.

When Foley is thrown into the announcer’s table, he breaks his left arm and fractures bones in his spine. ‘Taker would later say he was legit concerned since they both knew Foley would have to carry the match since he was competing with an injury. Despite that, Foley would refuse medical treatment and continue the match. Unlike Foley’s match with Triple H, the fall through the cell was not planned. Foley blacked out for 2 minutes from the impact of hitting the ring. It’s said later Foley suffered a ruptured spleen and a concussion from the second fall.

Since the second fall was a legit freak accident, ‘Taker’s shock seeing Foley hit the ring below was legit. With things now gone to hell–pun intended–you’d think things couldn’t get any more over the top. But it did: Foley introduced THUMBTACKS. Then he was dropped and chokeslammed on a bed of them. TWICE. You literally have to see it to believe it.

…Never before and never again.

The only thing even more crazy: Both of them ran interference with the match that followed involving Kane and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Unbelievable given Foley was legit hurt and hurt bad.

…I left this out until now but what made the top 2 matches so memorable was Jim Ross calling the matches.

A few matches worth getting an honorable mention:

  • Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker: Their first Hell in a Cell match in 2002 had originally been booked for ‘Taker to win but since ‘Taker had a broken wrist, he had to take it as a loss to put Lesnar Over.
  • Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker: Their second, more recent Hell in a Cell match in 2015 had all the makings of a classic. It packed the grudge factor like their first HIAC match only both men were healthy. The Beast took The Undertaker to Suplex City, ending the rivalry in convincing fashion.
  • Mankind vs. Kane: This 1998 match is underrated since it was the only HIAC Match that took place during RAW. It was also Kane’s first venture in HIAC in which he destroyed his then tag team partner Mankind.
  • Triple H vs. Kevin Nash: Holy hell, you’d have thought Triple H was legit trying to kill Kevin Nash. It took everyything The Game had to put his best friend down for good.
  • Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan: The only reason this gets an honorable mention is because of how it ended: After Daniel Bryan punts Triple H out of the ring, Special Guest Referee Shawn Michael drops D-Bry with Sweet Chin Music, allowing The Viper to win the match and the vacated WWE Championship.

I have my fingers crossed Shane vs. KO delivers on the brutality it’s being built to be. We will find out for sure this Sunday.

 

Hell in a Cell: A Lesson in Brutality

Awkward promo involving Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey highlights the need for change in the Women’s Division

https://metrouk2.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/screen-shot-2017-09-05-at-10-05-52.png?w=660

I’m just going to assume most of you are familiar with or have seen the promo that nearly broke Twitter over the weekend:

 

…The obvious problem being how awkward and stiff RAW’s Bayley and Smackdown’s Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair looked during the promo, which sucks given their suprise appearance earlier inside the area. Thankfully, they didn’t say anything and quietly walked away. No doubt they all realized they botched the promo to hell. A do-over will be necessary and hopefully sooner than later.

Bayley, Charlotte, Becky Lynch and the absent Sasha Banks made up The Four Horsewomen of NXT. They were main draws not just for NXT’s women’s division but NXT itself. All four superstars have gone on to have multiple title runs since moving to RAW and Smackdown over the last two years, Bayley coming to the main roster before the brand split was announced last year. Charlotte would become the inaugural RAW Women’s Champion, retiring the Divas Championship at the same time at Wrestlemania 32. She would go on to have two more title runs before being moved to Smackdown earlier this year. Sasha Banks famously debuted on the main roster while still the NXT Women’s Champion.

Speaking of Sasha and titles, the reason she was absent from the above promo is because she is involved in an ongoing feud with Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship. I agree with many folks who say Sasha will likely be pulled out of the title picture to join Charlotte, Becky and Bayley to complete The Four Horsewomen.

UFC’s verison is made up of Rousey, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir and Mae Young Classic participant Shayna Baszler. It goes without saying there is legit interest by both sides for Rousey to make the jump to WWE. Anyone she brings with her would be a cool bonus for WWE as well.

The question to ask is where should she start? Her in-ring skills are without question. The real questions would be around her mic skills. Some time in NXT could help her build confidence in that area but WWE could gamble on her name recognition and just put her on the main roster.

Let’s take a moment and revisit Rousey’s Wrestlemania 31 promo:

…Rousey throwing Triple H out the ring fueled speculation we may see the return of mixed gender singles matches. The business in general–not just WWE–dances around this, not willing to do anything further than mixed tag matches involving a male wrestler and switching so opposite-gender wrestlers don’t compete.

Lita and Chyna both won the Intercontinental Championship during their WWE careers, a male-exclusive title. Former WWE superstar Karma was a surprise entrant in the 2013 Royal Rumble, eliminating Dolph Ziggler during the match. Nothing like that’s happened since.

https://statics.sportskeeda.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/rousey-charlotte-1481642035-800.jpg

…Back to the promo though. Many analysts believe the promo was intended to focus on just Charlotte and Rousey and it can definitely be marketed that way. Oh, let’s not kid outselves here: Survivor Series, which will be cross-brand happens November 17. If they wanted to make it a 4 on 4 match they would need to start building it after No Mercy (RAW-exclusive PPV) and Hell in a Cell (Smackdown-exclusive PPV).

The obvious drawback to this is for Sasha, Charlotte, Bayley and Becky they would need to be pulled out of existing feuds to help build the match. They don’t necessarily need to all be on the same show: They could just have Rousey and the others make cameos on both RAW and Smackdown to help build the match. A singles match between just Charlotte and Rousey would be easier to make happen and in less time, though.

Smackdown’s Women’s Division has taken a hit with Charlotte and Becky both out of the picture. Mostly because of the timing. Carmella teasing her eventual cash-in will only hold interest for so long. Other than her there’s Natalya (Current Smackdown Women’s Champion), Naomi and Tamina, the last of which is being paired with Lana to try rebooting their characters.

On RAW, Bayley is legit injured (shoulder) and weather or not she’ll be healthy and ready for Survior Series would be a big question. Take out Sasha and that leaves Alexia Bliss (Current RAW Women’s Champion), Nia Jaxx, Emma and Mickie James. Jaxx is clearly being positioned to win the title, parelleling fellow RAW superstar Braun Strowman.

https://i2.wp.com/www.wwe.com/f/styles/wwe_large/public/all/2017/03/20170315_embermoonasuka--36de9012828e3b6a39fe8c7fbc4501bc.jpg

…As was reported, Asuka relinquished the NXT Women’s Championship after she defeated Ember Moon at NXT Takeover due to a collarbone injury she’d been dealing with for some time. It was announced during her sendoff this week on NXT that Asuka will debut on RAW or Smackdown once she recovers and the wait might not be too long. We could see her on the main roster as early as around Survivor Series in November or as late as around January’s Royal Rumble.

Either way there is only one Asuka.

NXT’s only undefeated superstar is beyond Goldberg-level over with the crowds. The international superstar is the most Over Asian Superstar in WWE history and I’m talking BEFORE she was signed to NXT two years ago. Known as Kana in other promotions, her real name is Kanako Urai and she is the biggest Asian Superstar in WWE History. Nevermind the plot armor that kept her undefeated in NXT, she is a legit in-ring performer.

Anywho, Some analysts say Asuka being undefeated during her NXT run hurt her character and NXT’s Women’s Division. Can’t say I can agree with that given most of the talent she feuded with over the last 2 years is now on the main roster. According to insider sources, Triple H reportedly asked Vince McMahon to keep Asuka on NXT, who’d reportedly been on Vince’s short list to be introduced during the Roster Shakeup after Wrestlemania earlier this year.

https://i0.wp.com/www.wwe.com/f/styles/gallery_img_l/public/all/2017/08/005_MEET_08182017mm_0347--4db4fda27f5e7d888685842c23b86564.jpg

Regardless of where Asuka goes, where she doesn’t go will need a new face of equal or greater value in their women’s division. If not Rousey then Ember Moon, who she defeated in her final NXT match to retain the title. Moon will likely get the title run she was denied very soon on NXT on that note.

In the meantime, WWE should feel the pressure to bring in both Asuka and Rousy as soon as possible. Rousey more so given we already know Asuka’s coming. With Rousey, we need to know she is definitely coming and the promos need to start picking up ^_^

Awkward promo involving Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey highlights the need for change in the Women’s Division

Breaking News: NXT’s Asuka moving to the Main Roster

https://i0.wp.com/www.wrestlinginc.com/wi/images/pics/asuka.jpg

…The news broke moments ago. WWE.com confirmed the news after Asuka’s name was featured on the list of names for an upcoming house show.

As of right now, it’s not known if she will debut on RAW or Smackdown. We do know Asuka relinquished the NXT Women’s Championship, ending her tenure on the NXT roster with a record-breaking 500-win streak. This is including her most recent successful title defense at NXT Takeover this past weekend, making Asuka the first NXT Champion to move on without having lost the title first.

Sasha Banks and Kevin Owens were both NXT Champions when separately debuted on RAW two years ago. They both dropped their respective titles before officially moving to the main roster.

It’s very likely she will debut on RAW even though it would actually make more sense for her to be on Smackdown.

I assume Alexia Bliss being moved to RAW was in preparation for Asuka’s promotion. Asuka has a history with Bliss as well as Bayley and Nia Jaxx. It would make sense for her to immediately but put in a feud with one of them before we get to the obvious Asuka vs. Sasha Banks.

On the other hand like I said, a move to Smackdown would make more sense. She would automatically be the main draw for the Women’s Division while Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch are being kept away from the title. She would easily have a shorter path to winning the Smackdown Women’s Championship.

All we can really do is wait until her debut to see what happens. She suffered a broken collarbone durinng her last match so there will be delay before we see her appear on either Raw or Smackdown. Let the speculation commence!

 

Save

Breaking News: NXT’s Asuka moving to the Main Roster

The RAW and Smackdown after a Pay Per View is always interesting

…Especially after Summer Slam or Wrestlemania. In this case, Summer Slam.

https://i1.wp.com/www.f4wonline.com/sites/www.f4wonline.com/files/field/image/nomercy_0.jpg

Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar at No Mercy for the Universal Championship is a no-brainer if you saw Summer Slam. Strowman beat up Lesnar to the point he was carted out of the arena on a stretcher and for 15 minutes, it was a Triple Threat Match. Like two years ago, Lesnar came back to eventually win and retain the title (pinning Roman Reigns).

The next night on RAW, Strowman came down to the ring, CRUSHED Lesnar and then left without saying a word. He didn’t need to.

https://i2.wp.com/www.wwe.com/f/styles/wwe_large/public/2016/04/20160425_Raw_Cena_1920x1080--f50614013f4a1d29c6cb3160b8453c58.jpg

John Cena going to RAW after Summer Slam and immediately being paired with Roman Reigns and possibly Samoa Joe…clearly WWE is desperate to push Reigns as their new top guy by having the old top guy put him over. Reigns’ problems in that regard aside, right now Braun Strowman is the main draw.

While the Reigns/Strowman rivalry is far from over, I do think WWE is making the right call pushing them separately. Plus, you can make things interesting with a potential Samoa Joe vs. John Cena feud.

https://i0.wp.com/www.wwe.com/f/styles/wwe_large/public/rd-talent/Bio/Shelton_Benjamin_bio.jpg

The wait is finally over: Shelton Benjamin made his return to WWE this week on Smackdown in a backstage promo. Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan announced Shelton Benjamin will be paired with Chad Gable, whose original tag team partner Jason Jordan was sent to RAW for the “Kurt Angle’s my father” storyline. The reformed American Alpha are an immediate threat to the current Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The USOs.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.inquisitr.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/wwe-monday-night-raw-rumors-enzo-amore-big-cass-break-up-heel-205-live-2-670x377.jpg

Big Cass being out with a knee injury for up to 9 month prettymuch killed his ongoing feud with Enzo Amore, who he recently broke up with. Big Cass suffered the injury on RAW during what was already booked as his final match with Enzo.

The following night, Enzo debuted on 205 Live. That should tell you everything you need to know. WWE is looking to tap into his popularity with the fans to draw people to watch 205 Live and more specifically, bring in new WWE Network subscribers.

Let’s not kid ourselves here: Enzo has no chance in hell as a singles competator on RAW, Smackdown or NXT. He might on 205 Live and WWE is banking on that both literally and figuratively. Just look at what the Cruiserweight Division did for Neville and (The) Brian Kendrick, both 2-time Cruiserweight Champions.

https://blogs-images.forbes.com/alfredkonuwa/files/2017/08/Bobby-Roode-1200x675.jpg

…Of course, I’m gonna save the best for last: Another NXT MEGA star debuted on Smackdown this week. This time, it’s Bobby Roode =O

Shinsuke Nakamura has been Over with fans since his Smackdown debut after Wrestlemania so…yeah. Having him feud with Dolph Ziggler and AJ Styles would help build him for those who don’t know him from NXT.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.inquisitr.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/WWE-Raw-and-Smackdown.png

There are still some lingering questions after this week for several storylines and superstars moving forward:

  • Dolph Ziggler appeared in brief a promo on Smackdown after being AWOL for the last few weeks. Ziggler has been doing promotional work, one of which being the recently aired commercial that aired during RAW and Smackdown in which he appears. It’s clear WWE is trying to figure out what to do with him, let alone weather to keep him as a Heel or make him a Face. He’s one of those superstars can flip the switch with zero buildup fortunately. I think at this point it might be good to have him feud with AJ Styles for the U.S. Championship. He hasn’t held a title since dropping the Intercontinental Championship two years ago so…yeah.
  • Sami Zayn…unlike Kevin Owens, he has yet to come into his own without being involved with Kevin Owens since leaving NXT. This week was a reminder of that and it’s all the more reason Zayn needs to be pushed into the title hunt.
  • This is “under the radar” (as far as WWE is concerned) but it was announced last week Paige will not face charges in regards to a domestic violence incident involving her, former WWE Superstar Alberto Patron (Alberto Del Rio) and a third party. Paige and Patron, who dated during and after the latter’s brief return to WWE had a messy breakup two months ago. Paige has been out of action for a year now due to suspension and then injury while out. Paige had reportedly entertained the idea of leaving WWE and training for MMA but changed her mind. Now she is focused on preparing for her return to WWE, which is reportedly “imminent”. When she returns, she will be on Smackdown according to her WWE Facebook page’s blue background.
  • Reigns vs. Cena is clearly being set up early. They could face off at Survivor Series or they could even hold that off until Wrestlemania 34. For that to work, they could insert Samoa Joe to feud with Cena while Reigns clashes with The Miz over the Intercontinental Championship. After Survivor Series, they could begin to build Reigns vs. Cena for the Royal Rumble.
  • Speaking of Roman Reigns and Survivor Series: Last year, we saw all three former members of The Shield clash. WWE would be crazy not to utilize all three of them this year. Team RAW could be rounded out with Samoa Joe or Finn Balor and Braun Strowman or Jason Jordan (Kurt Angle’s proxy). Team Smackdown would be made up of AJ Styles, Randy Orton (if he’s available) or Kevin Owens (if Orton’s not available), Jinder Mahal, Shinsuke Nakamura and Bobby Roode. Would be real interesting.
  • Not gonna lie, I expected Carmella to cash in that briefcase at Summer Slam on Sunday. This week was a huge clue for when we can expect to see her cash in her Money in the Bank contract: Right after or during a match in which the Smackdown Women’s Championship is contested. Cashing it in on Naomi, who is a Face makes the most sense since Natalya is a Heel but it could work.
  • The (presumably) reformed American Alpha is automatically contenders for the USOs simply because of Shelton Benjamin. He’s that damn good. I look forward to seeing the team chemistry between him and Chad Gable develop.
  • Lana’s new storyline alongside Tamina hopefully means WWE is shelving her as a competator for the time being. Her mic skills are decient but rushing her into the title picture and then failing miserably obviously backfired.
  • Stop me if you’ve heard this before: WWE is “close” to getting Ronda Rousy of UFC fame signed on as a WWE Superstar. If the backstage promo she did at WWE’s Talent Development Center is any indication, she might not be the only UFC fighter looking to take her talents to UFC. Hell, there ARE those rumors Connor McGregor is looking at making a serious WWE run. Time will tell.

…That’s what I was thinking of for now. Now the next 3 Pay Per Views will be the RAW-exclusive No Mercy in September, Smackdown-exclusive Hell in a Cell and the crossbrand Survivor Series in November.Clash of Champions will happen in December before the Road to Wrestlemania begins with the Royal Rumble in January.

…Let the hype commence!

Save

The RAW and Smackdown after a Pay Per View is always interesting

WWE should do another Shake-Up after Summer Slam 2017

 

…I Just finished reviewing my posts on the Post-Wrestlemania Shake-Up. Goes without saying while it helped some superstars but didn’t do any favors for others. Let’s review that now, shall we?

First, RAW to Smackdown:

 

  • Jinder Mahal: Who could have seriously imagined right after being moved to Smackdown, The Maharaja would become WWE Champion? This is the same Jinder Mahal who was fed to other Superstars during his first WWE tenure and was even released. He’s been on a roll since his return during last year’s brand split. While his title run is obviously a marketing move, he has been a pretty good Heel. Getting The Great Khali to help him retain…that right there was a stroke of genius. Assuming he drops the title vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at Summer Slam, he should either be kept near the top or positioned to win the U.S. Championship.
  • Charlotte Flair: Since being moved to Smackdown, Charlotte became a Face but hasn’t been pushed much. This was actually planned to help build Naomi’s title run. The fact that alot of folks expected her to have won the Smackdown Women’s Championship at least once by now is probably WWE is keeping her away from it for now. Make no mistake she WILL be the second woman to have won both the RAW and Smackdown Women’s Championships–the first being Alexa Bliss–by the end of the year. It’s just a matter of when.
  • Lana: It’s official: Lana in-ring is a wash! WWE hoped having her feud with Naomi would help build her mat skills but clearly that hasn’t happened. She was Over with the WWE Universe as Rusev’s manager and became a Face during her short-lived feud with him involving Dolph Ziggler and Summer Rae. Said feud abruptly ended when their real-life marriage was announced. She resumed her role as Rusev’s partner though during their feud, Lana as a competator was heavily teased. Since coming to Lana, the experiment is clearly a failure. At least in multi-superstar matches this could be hidden but her first 3 matches were one on one with Naomi, who is the current Smackdown Women’s Champion so…yeah. Doesn’t get more clear than that.
  • Sami Zayn: Zayn has been struggling since moving to Smackdown, mostly since this time WWE is clearly going out of its way to not have him feud with Kevin Owens again. He’s not in the running for either title picture, nor has his name come up for Summer Slam yet. He needs a push but the obvious problem is there are several people ahead of him at the moment.

 

Now, Smackdown to RAW:

 

  • Dean Ambrose: Let’s be honest and not kid ourselves: Ambrose was brought to RAW to reunite The Shield. His current storyline involving Seth Rollins, who backstabbed Ambrose and Reigns three years ago to break up The Shield is part of the process. Rollins mended the fence with Reigns last year so that just left Ambrose. Speaking of, Reigns is part of Summer Slam’s main event involving himself, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Brock Lesnar. His being brought in to work with Ambrose and Rollins is sure to come sometime after Summer Slam is over.
  • Alexa Bliss: I touched on this above but The Wicked Witch has become the first Superstar to hold both the “RAW” and “Smackdown” Women’s Championships and she did it within 4 weeks of each other: She dropped the Smackdown Championship at Wrestlemania to Naomi, got shipped to RAW two weeks later and then won the RAW Women’s Championship from Bayley the week after moving to RAW. Goes without saying she’s Over with the crowd just from her Harley Quinn-like appearance and has been for some time. It goes without saying she is one of the top superstars in RAW’s Women’s Division.
  • Apollo Crews: Unfortunately, he’s yet another one of those Superstars who fell through the cracks after changing brands. His working with The Titus Brand could work for him but only if he’s either put in the hunt for the IC Title or works with an established vet. He’s in the proverbial Midcard Hell: Not good enough to get to the top tier but not bad enough to be fed to other Superstars.
  • Bray Wyatt: The Eater of Worlds got street cred when he won the Universal Championship back in the day. Since losing it to Randy Orton at Wrestlemania, not much has been done with him. He has been doing promos with Finn Balor but it’s clear his character just isn’t the same without a stable. Wyatt’s Cult Leader Persona works at its best when he has people by his side. WWE needs to turn things around with him and as a former Champion, he has hope unlike Eric Rowan and Luke Harper.

 

Those are just 8 of the nearly two dozen Superstars who changed brands 4 months back after Wrestlemania. This obviously doesn’t account for the head-scratching breakup of American Alpha: Jason Jordan was moved to RAW as part of his new storyline as Kurt Angle’s biological son last month. Prior to the move, Jordan hadn’t been seen on Smackdown for a few weeks and we saw his former partner Chad Gable compete solo. Jordan is obviously being pushed as a solo competator on RAW for storyline reasons.

Gable doesn’t have the same problem Enzo Amore has but he needs to be either added to a stable or paired with someone. Gable and Aiden English could be interesting if done right but he could also mesh Sami Zayn, the Hype Bros. or even Dolph Ziggler. Unless he gets pushed HARD like Jinder Mahal, I don’t see him having much of a Singles run.

Speaking of Enzo. Big Cass eluded to the reason they were split up: He apparently loves to run his mouth in the locker room and everyone was getting tired of it. Enzo was reportedly kicked off the bus right when the “Who’s Ambushing Enzo and Cass?” Storyline started because he was being disrespectful. So the story goes. Once you get kicked out of the locker room, your career is prettymuch done. The Miz is the only Superstar to have had a successful career after getting shut out but only because he’s a workhorse. Enzo, on the other hand…it’s a safe bet he’ll be on his way out sooner or later. A shame given his promo is such a hit with the WWE Universe. WWE will keep him around as use him as long as he’s still Over with the fans though.

Big Cass, on the other hand. I honestly don’t know. Let’s not forget we went down this road before with The Prime Time Players. Darren Young is currently doing promotional work for WWE while Titus O’Neil is a Manager trying to build a stable. When he first came in, alot of folks thought he’d shine as a solo competator but not so much. Unfortunately, I’m expecting the same for Big Cass. I hope I’m proven wrong, though.

 

 

WWE should do another Shake-Up after Summer Slam 2017

WhatCulture.com examines how the Attitude Era turned older fans off the post-Attitude Era

https://cdn3.whatculture.com/images/2015/07/7e0zXkyY-600x400.jpg

Read the full article here. For the most part, the author is on point.

The author drives home the unavoidable fact that the product has greatly changed since The Attitude Era. Much of what was either allowed or worked then is either no longer allowed or wouldn’t be allowed now. That’s a fact.

That said, here are my thoughts on the 10-point Op-Ed:

10. Overbearing Authority Figures

I agree, this trope has been done to death and needs to be put down. Fans are clearly tired of it.

It worked during The Attitude Era because of how well the Austin vs. McMahon feud had been set up and executed. As we know, developing character storylines happens to be Vince’s specialty. We all know that legendary first Stunner by Austin was his idea. Later in the feud, Vince actually hit the gym and worked out so he could get in the ring himself, further adding credability to his “Evil Boss from Hell” Persona and cementing Austin’s place as the top Superstar at the time.

The Authority, on the other hand fails at what it’s supposed to do. Why? Triple H and Steph take it a little too far most of the time. Yeah, we get Trips can still wrestle and only does once or twice a year to put someone over–most recently Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns–but he can put people over in other ways. Handing KO the Universal Championship while screwing over Seth Rollins last year was an excellent example of this.

The author’s last point–the need for benevolent bosses–is spot on. Kudos for pointing out the Babyface Shane and D-Bry. WWE seems to have come to the same conclusion for RAW with having brought in Kurt Angle as GM. Steph hasn’t been seen since Wrestlemania (she’s been doing promotional work behind the scenes) but we know she will have to return eventually.

9. Modern Commentary

Let’s be honest, Jim Ross is the GOAT when it comes to Wrestling commentary. No one else comes close. He can make the most mundane match or storyline feel epic. Hell, The Undertaker specifically requested him for his retirement match at Wrestlemania 34. All that said, JR is no longer with WWE and hasn’t for some time. As I just mentioned, he is open to working pro bono every now and then if asked though. He is also well versed with the current happenings within WWE.

Jerry “The King” Lawler was good when he wasn’t being crass while paired with JR. He was often the Heel while JR was the Face though sometimes they would both be Face. Lawler should’ve been removed from commentary after The Monday Night Wars ended. I feel like that’s what made the transition when JR left so hard for many fans. Lawler felt out of place calling matches during the PG Era without JR.

Michael Cole (RAW) and JBL (Smackdown) are the vets on commentary and are solid. It helps they can switch so fluidly between Face and Heel. RAW moving the commentary table away from the ring after the brand split last year was a smart move as it opened up the area outside the ring a bit for the cameramen.

Corey Graves is a solid, solid Heel on commentary and it helps he is probably legit pissed his in-career was ended due to injury. Byron Saxton is obviously the weakest since he lacks the years and experience of the other three. Even though Booker T was meant to be a filling in for David Otunga, it worked so well it seems they decided to keep him on full-time.

8. WWE’s Lack of In-Ring Focus

This is why Triple H created NXT: To help move WWE away from its Entertainment side and more towards its Athletic side. Match quality has improved tremendously as a result and main event matches are no longer Finisher Spamming like they were 10 years ago. Not just PPV but on Raw and Smackdown as well. Nowhere is this more apparent than the women’s division. Sasha Banks and Charlotte made RAW must-see last year with their epic matches.

Brock Lesnar going full-power and STILL having trouble against Samoa Joe…that was pretty EPIC. Joe sold the shit out of the feud and had you believing he had Lesnar’s number. Don’t even get my started on Braun Strowman, who just likes beating people up. Kudos to WWE for putting him, Joe, Lesnar and Roman Reigns in a Fatal 4-Way for the Universal Title. It is true WWE has been overusing multi-superstar matches lately (Triple Threat, Six-Pack, Fatal Four-Way, etc.) but this is one of those times where it makes perfect sense.

Lengthy matches making a comeback is huge as it ads a sense of realism and credability to feuds. It also forces superstars to train their bodies to perform for much longer. Squash matches only happen when it would be the most effective these days. Thanks to the introduction of NXT and 205 Live, the Undercard is virtually non-existent. You have midcards, Upper Cards and then you have the Underused or Underutilized.

7. Triple H

I touched on this above but Triple H needs to be used far less. It goes without saying he and Steph are prettymuch Vince McMahon’s stand-ins via The Authority. What tends to happen is Trips either buries the talent he’s trying to put over (Seth Rollins, RAW last year involving KO) or he buries the talent he’s supposed to be putting over (Roman Reigns, last year’s Royal Rumble).

If Triple H is gonna be Vince’s stand-in, he needs to check his ego and stop having matches with the superstars he’s supposed to be putting over. Like I said before, Samoa Joe vs. Rollins at Wrestlemania was a missed opportunity. Would’ve been freaking epic.

6. Sanitized “Extreme” Wrestling

This gripe is legit. Just look at Battleground’s Punjabi Prison Match. At a glance, it’s easy to think “Cage Match on steroids” but nope. This is a big reason why we have only seen 3 Punjabi Prison Matches.

Post-Attitude Era Hell in a Cell matches are a shadow of the first few matches. The first few matches wrote the book on brutality. Mick Foley’s career was considerably shortened in his match against The Undertaker. In the very first Hell in a Cell match, Shawn Michaels sold being beaten within an inch of his life. Now unlike most Attitude Era fans, I can appreciate Superstars not wanting to risk their health just for crowd reactions.

When the Attitude Era ended, The Undertaker advised the incoming talent behind the scenes to not take unnecessary risks and risk serious injury just to get over with the fans and get on Vince’s good side. Makes sense given his legendary Hell in the Cell Match with Mick Foley (as Mankind). As we all know, Foley falling through the cell was a freak accident. ‘Taker’s reaction makes it obvious that was not pre-planned. The fall knocked Foley unconscious for 2 minutes. Had it been someone else, the match would’ve ended right there. Since it’s Mick Foley, the match continued when he regained consciousness. Mind you, this match happened the same year Owen Hart died in a freak accident in front of a live crowd broadcast around the world.

All that said, WWE does have enough talent willing and able to go Attitude-Era extreme. I don’t just mean Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt. I’m talking Braun Strowman, Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles among others. On the Women’s side there’s Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Nia Jaxx, Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Tamina Snuka, Carmella and Bayley. It’s just a matter of balancing risk vs. reward.

5. Anti-Hero Babyfaces

…Let’s be honest, we all know Cena was being set up to be a Stone Cold clone at first. Same with Randy Orton and obviously Lesnar since he’s been back with WWE. Problem is there is and was only one Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Regardless of how many times WWE has tried to reinvent the trope, only a small handful pulled it off well. CM Punk easily did it best on his way out WWE. You can credit him for being the one to blend Kayfabe and Reality for the first time in WWE (it’s been done elsewhere) and making it work. Paul Heyman would follow his lead, followed by others since CM Punk left the company.

Anyway, back to Anti-Hero Babyfaces. Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns–both separately and as The Shield–are probably the best at it in regards to the current roster. Rollins is clearly a bit too stiff while Reigns clearly needs mic work to get Over completely. Ambrose has shades of Mick Foley but has the unpredictability of Mick Foley and that’s why he was sent to Smackdown during the recent brand split to work with AJ Styles. He’s durable but lacks the bulk Reigns has and the aggression Rollins has.

 

4. Heavily Scripted Promos

This should have been #1 and has been my biggest pet peeve. Most of the current roster have little say over their Wrestling Personalities. Everything from what’s said to what’s done is dictated to them. Let’s not forget this is why Cody Rhodes, Ryback (Ryan Reeves) and Wade Barret (Stu Bennett) left WWE last year. WWE can’t afford to lose bigger names because of this.

The only ones that I know have full creative control over their characters are Dean Ambrose, Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton (obviously), John Cena (obviously), The Miz (goes without saying) and of course, Paul Heyman. Jinder Mahal told an Indian Media outlet a few days before Battleground he has full creative control over his character but that’s doubtful. He probably does have some control but still has a script. Samoa Joe, I’m not 100% sure but if he is using a script he’s doing one hell of a job.

 

3. One-Track Storytelling

I had to read it twice to both understand it and realize it was true about the post-Attitude Era in WWE: Storylines are almost always built torward a Pay Per View event. More so since the recent brand split. This is probably the big reason so many superstars end up either falling through the cracks or end up not being seen for months in somes cases.

It’s even more obvious now that Dark Matches no longer happen. For those who didn’t know, when RAW and Smackdown were pre-taped there would be 1 to 3 matches that happened but weren’t televised due to the then 2-hour time constraint. Since both shows are now Live, Dark Matches no longer happen.

Anywho, WWE needs to get back to single-episode storylines or storylines independent of PPV events. Breezango’s current storyline is a great example of this. So is Strowman and and Reigns’ feud, which likely won’t end at Summer Slam. Throwing in this type of variety will give folks more of a reason to tune in every week or watch via WWE Network. It also forces WWE to utilize more of its talent.

2. The Current Headliners

The article uses the phrase “Mega Star” and that was true of the top talent of the Attitude Era. You had Austin and The Rock at the top with so many choices who could be swapped in at a moment’s notice. This was Cena for a while but folks have clearly grown tired of him in recent years. Lesnar’s a part-timer but is a huge draw when he feels like working. The article makes the case there is no one on the current roster (excluding the vets) who is or is close to Mega Star Status but I disagree there.

As folks should know by now, Reigns will succeed Cena as the new top guy. That said, it IS a huge problem for their top guy to be getting booed every time he shows his face. WWE will need to reset his character to turn that around. Fortunately, a Shield Reunion–which may happen after Summer Slam–should take care of that.

Reigns aside, Ambrose and Rollins are both Over with Fans. Rollins was over as a Face, a Heel and now a Face again. Enzo Amore being mega-over with the fans is probably the only reason he wasn’t cut after his breakup with Big Cass. Even though he’s a Monster Heel, the WWE Universe erupts every time Braun Strowman’s music hits or he shows his face. On Smackdown you got AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. If Nakamura wins the WWE Championship at Summer Slam, holy shit.

In the Women’s Division you got Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley of course. Nia Jaxx as the Monster Heel on RAW never gets old. Same with Alexa Bliss and Naomi.

…So, yeah. All they need is more polish to get even more over than they are. Once they start having more title reigns and have better booking, their popularity will grow more. The superstars just need something for fans to latch on to is all.

 

1. PG

…Here we go. The one thing all Attitude-Era fans love to turn to as the main reason “WWE sucks now”. The fact of the matter is WWE HAD to go this route. Not just to go mainstream but to appeal to International Markets. Plus, by then The Attitude Era was over. This should’ve been expected.

I view the hate over the PG Era as fans of the Attitude Era who don’t want to accept the fact that era is gone. Stone Cold Steve Austin is NOT gonna walk through that door (as a full-time wrestler). LOL.

 

Save

Save

WhatCulture.com examines how the Attitude Era turned older fans off the post-Attitude Era