Cena vs. Reigns

No Mercy, September 24th, we get a match billed as Wrestlemania worthy when John Cena squares off against Roman Reigns. Cena has been the company guy for more than a decade and Reigns has been positioned as the predecessor of this coveted spot. Cena and Reigns have exchanged words and called each other on their flaws and have disputed who THE guy actually is and whether Reigns can step in and fill the shoes of Cena.

I thought I’d take a look at the history of Cena and Reigns since Roman arrived on the scene and it is clear that this match has been destined happen since day one.

2012

Survivor Series
Roman and the Shield debut and  help CM Punk retain his WWE Championship against Ryback and John Cena.  Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns making a name for themselves on day one and what better way then attacking the top name in Cena!

TLC
The Shield make their PPV match debut as they square off against Team Hell No and Ryback. This was an excellent match and arguably could have closed the show as a main event. What was the main event? A ladder match for the Money in the Bank Contract between Dolph Ziggler and THE top guy, John Cena.

2013

Royal Rumble
The Shield looked to continue making their mark as they presumably attacked the Rock in the main event looking to help CM Punk hold onto the WWE Championship. What was John Cena up to on this night? Winning the Royal Rumble guaranteeing his main event spot at Wrestlemania.

Elimination Chamber
On this night Roman and Cena would stand across from each other in the ring, but this wasn’t one on one but a six man tag. Roman’s side picked up the win in this one so Reigns had an early 1-0 record in matches against Cena.

Wrestlemania 29
The Shield and Roman make their Wrestlemania debut in the opening match as they won another six-man tag. As Roman opened the show, John Cena was closing the biggest show of the year with a WWE Championship win in the main event against the Rock.

Extreme Rules
The Shield were gaining a ton of momentum and Roman was able to pick up his first championship with Rollins as they beat Team Hell No for the tag titles. John Cena was in the main event against Ryback however it ended in a draw.

Payback
Reigns and Rollins successfully defend their titles against Orton and Bryan prior to the main event where Cena retained the championship against Ryback.

Money in the Bank
Roman and Rollins were relegated to the pre-show on this night in a great match where they successfully defended the titles against the Usos. Whereas on the main card John  Cena successfully defended the WWE Championship against Mark Henry, after a great angle hyping this match.

Summerslam
Roman wasn’t on the card at all minus an appearance on the pre-show. John Cena conversely was in the main event of the second biggest show where he lost the WWE Championship match to Daniel Bryan. Cena would announce the next night he fought the match with an injury would need surgery.

Night of Champions
Funny that with John gone, Roman was able to be back on the main card however this was a gimmick PPV where every title had to be defended and the Shield easily beat the Primetime Players.

Battleground
Rollins and Roman competed in a classic on this night where they lost the titles to the Rhodes Brothers in an emotional and match of the year candidate!

Hell in a Cell
Reigns and Rollins challenge for the tag titles but are unable to pick up the win in a triple threat tag match. John Cena would return on this night and would win the World Heavyweight Championship, immediately returning to the title picture.

Survivor Series
Roman had a break out moment during the traditional Survivor Series tag as he almost single handedly eliminated the opposing team and ending up being the sole survivor. Cena meanwhile successfully retained the World Heavyweight Championship against Del Rio.

TLC
Roman and the Shield lost a 3-on-1 handicap match where a Shield split was teased against CM Punk. Cena and Orton main evented in a title unification match where Cena would come out on the losing end.

You could see over the year Roman getting better and paying dues even being left on a few cards, whereas Cena was essentially in the title picture all year working with a few new talents to the main event scene like Ryback, Mark Henry, Del Rio and Daniel Bryan.

2014

Royal Rumble
Cena loses after challenging for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a raucous environment. The match was heavily booed with accurate chants of “same old sh*t!” In the Rumble match, Roman set the new record for eliminations and was the runner-up and was in fact cheered with “Roman” chants as fans were irate to see Batista win and no Daniel Bryan.

Elimination Chamber
The Shield and The Wyatt Family do battle for the first time in a classic brawl and an electric atmosphere. The Shield would lose on this night. In the main event, John Cena was in the WWE World Heavyweight championship Elimination Chamber match and the Wyatts showed up once again and attacked Cena leading to his elimination. The Wyatts getting the best of both Roman and John Cena on this night!

Wrestlemania XXX
The Shield made quick work of the New Age Outlaws and Kane whereas John Cena beat Bray Wyatt in a 1-on-1 match. I don’t think Cena buried Bray but I do believe Bray should have won on this night on a big stage against the biggest name.

Extreme Rules
The Shield defeated Evolution in a good match and Cena lost to Bray in a terrible steel cage match.

Payback
Cena defeated Bray Wyatt in a Last Man Standing. Roman and the Shield were in the main event on this night winning an elimination tag match against Evolution. This was the first time where Roman was in a main event where John Cena competed on the card as well.

Money in the Bank
The Shield has split up at this time and thus begins the official single run of Roman Reigns. John and Roman both qualified for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder match. Cena wins this main event match and the championship on this night. We would now have a 1-1 record between these two despite these two not going one-on-one.

Battleground
John Cena defended the championship in a Fatal 4-Way against Randy Orton, Kane and Roman Reigns. There’s a moment where Cena and Reigns are the only ones in the ring and come face to face. The crowd gets into the staredown and even boo Cena and cheer Reigns. Nonetheless, Cena retains in this match. 2-1 record but neither man has pinned the other’s shoulders.

Summerslam
Roman defeats Orton and in the main event Lesnar destroys John Cena and Cena loses the championship.

Night of Champions
Roman needed emergency surgery and was out of action. Cena challenges Lesnar but Rollins interferes leading to a DQ finish.

Hell in a Cell
John Cena defeats Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match for the #1 Contendership. Reigns is still out of action.

Survivor Series
John Cena captains a traditional tag team against the Authority’s team. Cena is eliminated but Ziggler ends up the sole survivor. Had Roman not been injured, it is believed he would have been the sole survivor.

TLC
John Cena defeats Seth Rollins in a tables match. Big Show looked to get involved and Reigns returned on this night making the save for Cena leading to his win.

2015

Royal Rumble
Brock defeated Cena and Rollins to retain the WWE championship. Roman Reigns wins the Royal Rumble to boos as fans were irate Daniel Bryan did not win on this night similar to a year ago when Roman was in fact cheered. This reception continues and I firmly believe the rejection of Roman isn’t based on his skills but feeling he is the “chosen one”.

Fastlane
Cena started a feud with Rusev and passed out in a US Title match. Roman defeated Daniel Bryan in the main event to ensure he was going to the Wrestlemania championship main event.

Wrestlemania 31
John Cena defeated Rusev for the US Championship. Roman Reigns challenged Brock Lesnar in his first Wrestlemania main event. Unfortunately, Rollins cashed-in his Money in the Bank briefcase and pinned Reigns to win the championship.

Extreme Rules
John Cena had begun his successful United States Championship Open which led to fresh opponents and something to look forward to every night on RAW. Cena defeated Rusev to retain his title. Roman defeated the Big Show.

Payback
Cena once again defeated Rusev, who again wasn’t buried in this feud but he too could have benefited over a winning feud against Cena. Rollins defeated Ambrose, Orton and Reigns in the main event.

Elimination Chamber
Kevin Owens defeated John Cena making for a strong debut for a new star proving what a win over Cena means. Reigns isn’t competing on this night but looks to even things for Dean Ambrose in his main event match.

Money in the Bank
Reigns loses in the opening match as Bray costs him the Money in the Bank briefcase. Cena defeated Owens in their rematch.

Battleground
Roman began a feud with a former foe of Cena in Bray Wyatt. Bray beats Roman on this night but a win over Roman isn’t a career maker yet at this point. Cena retained his US Championship against Kevin Owens.

Summerslam
Ambrose and Reigns defeated the Wyatt Family and Rollins beat Cena for the US Title while defending the WWE Championship.

Night of Champions
The Wyatts won a six man tag against Ambrose, Jericho and Reigns. Cena won back the US Championship against Rollins.

Hell in a Cell
Del Rio made his return to the company and answered the US Open Challenge and defeated John Cena. Reigns would defeat Bray Wyatt in a Hell in a Cell match. Cena would take some time off to begin filming a movie.

Survivor Series
The WWE Championship was vacated due to a Rollins injury. There was a tournament set up and Reigns defeated Del Rio to move to the finals to square off against Ambrose. Reigns would win his first WWE Championship but Sheamus cashed-in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the title moments after Reigns won his first championship. Compare Reigns first title win to Cena’s who won it against JBL at Wrestlemania 21.

TLC
Sheamus retained the championship in a TLC match against Reigns after interference by the dreadful League of Nations.

2016

Royal Rumble
Roman had recaptured the WWE Championship by this point but was forced to defend the title in the 30-Man Royal Rumble match. Triple H would come out number 30 and eliminate Reigns and then Ambrose to win the championship. It was announced prior to this event that Cena would need surgery be out for a lengthy period of time.

Fastlane
Roman Reigns defeated Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar to earn a shot at the championship in the main event of Wrestlemania.

Wrestlemania 32
Cena made a surprise return to help the Rock in a segment with the Wyatt Family. Roman Reigns won the WWE Championship in his second straight Wrestlemania main event for a more fitting title win for a top guy.

Payback
Roman Reigns successfully defended the title against AJ Styles who was new to the main event scene.

Extreme Rules
Reigns once again defended the title successfully against AJ Styles in a great match and looking back these series of matches helped elevate Styles’ stock in the company. Cena would return shortly after this event.

Money in the Bank
AJ Styles defeated John Cena with some help from the Club in a big victory. Seth Rollins would defeat Roman Reigns for the WWE Championship. After this match and loss, we found out that Reigns was suspended for a Wellness Policy violation which Cena recently referenced.

Battleground
Cena, Enzo and Big Cass would defeat the Club. Dean Ambrose would successfully defend the WWE Championship in a triple threat match against his former Shield members as Reigns returned from his suspension.

Summerslam
AJ Styles would defeat Cena in a classic match and win the feud at this point and Styles remains a top guy to this day. Roman Reigns was scheduled to face off against Rusev but their match never took place as both men brawled prior to the match getting underway. This was also the first pay-per-view after the brand split where Roman went to RAW and Cena went to Smackdown Live and also could take some time off.

Clash of Champions
Roman Reigns would defeat Rusev for the US Championship but unlike Cena we would not see any US Open Challenges which was Cena’s point in calling out Reigns for seeing this title as a demotion.

No Mercy
AJ Styles successfully retained the WWE Championship against Ambrose and Cena in the opening match on this night.

Hell in a Cell
Reigns defended the US Championship successfully against Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match.

Survivor Series
Roman Reigns was on Team RAW in a traditional tag match but was pinned by Bray Wyatt. No Cena on this co-branded PPV event.

Roadblock
Roman Reigns had lost the US Title by this point but was quickly inserted into a feud for the Universal Championship against Kevin Owens. Owens would retain the title due to a DQ.

It’s interesting to see the commonality in opponents of Reigns and Cena. Styles and Owens getting some key wins over both and are presently two top guys in the company. Rusev and Bray came out on the losing end in their feuds with both and are currently floundering on the roster which may be telling.

2017

Royal Rumble
John Cena defeated WWE Champion, AJ Styles making history to win his 16th World championship, tying Ric Flair. Roman once again challenged Kevin Owens for the Universal Championship but was unsuccessful. He was able to enter the Royal Rumble and eliminate the Undertaker and but ended up being the runner up after being tossed out by Randy Orton.

Elimination Chamber
Cena’s 16th World title reign comes to an end in the Elimination Chamber.

Fastlane
Roman Reigns defeats Braun Strowman in the first of many great battles.

Wrestlemania 33
After some great promos John Cena teamed up with his girlfriend Nikki Bella to defeat the Miz and his wife Maryse. It was strange to see Cena in a bit of a midcard match but it still felt like a big deal with Cena proposing at the end of the match, proving once again anything with Cena is always a showcase. Roman Reigns was in his third straight main event where he became the second man to defeat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania and presumably made history of his own by ending the Undertaker’s career and now declaring its his yard now!

Payback
Braun Strowman defeated Roman Reigns in the main event.

Extreme Rules
Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in the main event for a shot at the Universal Championship.

Great Balls of Fire
Braun Strowman beat Reigns in an Ambulance match.

Battleground
Cena finally returns to WWE after some time off and squares off against Rusev in a Flag match which Cena wins.

Summerslam
Cena was in the opening match in a win against Baron Corbin. In the main event, Brock Lesnar won a fantastic Fatal 4-Way Universal Championship match against Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns who was the one who took the pin and his fourth straight PPV loss.

No Mercy
Here we are where it seems these two have been destined to square off. Reigns certainly comes in with everything to lose and everything to gain. Cena’s legacy is already made and like every match to this point Cena gives all his matches a big feel. Cena has been winning on the mic but I see Reigns coming out the winner on this night in their first one-on-one encounter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ranking Summerslam WWE Championship Matches

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Where does Jinder Mahal vs. Shinsuke Nakamura rank among all the WWE Championship matches in Summerslam history? I have gone back and ranked each WWE Championship, let’s see how the list shaped out.

26. Triple H vs. The Great Khali (Summerslam 2008)

By far the worst WWE Championship match to ever take place at a Summerslam. It was the closest thing to seeing Triple H have a match with himself. I’d also say this was one of Triple H’s worst reigns as champion.

25. Diesel vs. King Mabel (Summerslam 1995)

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Oh WWE 1995. A dreadful match between two giants. Punches, slams and a terrible dive. Diesel won with a top rope clothesline after a terrible referee bump.

24. JBL vs. The Undertaker (Summerslam 2004)

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This match emanated from my hometown and was just a boring brawl. It ended in a DQ which is always groan worthy and I think there was fan interference which spoiled the limo spot.

23. Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger (Summerslam 1993)

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It would be hard to expect a classic between these two large men so I think they had the best match they could. The baffling part of this match is the ending where Lex wins by countout which means he did not win the title yet there was an elaborate celebration even having Lex hoisted on shoulders.

22. Randy Orton vs. John Cena (Summerslam 2009)

Another year of WWE I rarely go back to watch other then a match at Wrestlemania 25. This match followed the template of another match on this list with the restarting of a match after DQs and Countouts. Unfortunately for Cena, no one in the crowd was clamoring for justice so it made this match feel like it wouldn’t end. The “fan run-in” added no more drama and killed a bit of the psychology. This should have been the final time we saw an Orton/Cena program.

21. Sheamus vs. Randy Orton (Summerslam 2010)

Sheamus retained by DQ so Orton got his heat back with an RKO on the outside. These two would go on to have a more infamous match and may we never see these two in a main event program again.

20. CM Punk vs. John Cena. Big Show (Summerslam 2012)

One of several triple threat matches on this list. Punk and Cena had great chemistry but the addition of a third competitor makes it a hard match to pull off. I liked the finish where Punk capitalized on Cena’s efforts but it was a very basic match.

19. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler (Summerslam 2016)

A good match but it had to follow a classic. Also by this time it was hard to take Ziggler as a credible challenger and the fact that he came out on the losing end simply fit the existing narrative of Dolph.

18. Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude (Summerslam 1990)

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The first time the WWE Championship was defended at Summerslam. These two competed in a great Intercontinental Championship match at the Summerslam prior and it was hard to top that one. This time they were in a Steel Cage and as usual Rude worked hard with the Warrior but was unsuccessful in capturing the title on this night.

17. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Triple H vs. Mankind (Summerslam 1999)

Jesse Ventura was the special referee in this match. The reception for Austin was amazing and created an electric atmosphere. Mankind picking up the win came out of no where and the crowd took a few seconds to react. There are rumours of Austin not wanting to drop the title to Triple H but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

16. “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior (Summerslam 1992)

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My favourite Summerslam of all time and the WWE Championship wasn’t even the main event in Wembley Stadium (rightfully so). I didn’t care for the tease of which side Ric Flair was on but I understood the story they were telling. I’m glad that Savage remained champion but the crowd was more into the Warrior then I expected. This match certainly does not compare to their Wrestlemania retirement match.

15. CM Punk vs. John Cena (Summerslam 2011)

There was no way these two could follow their Money in the Bank classic. I also thought Punk came back way too soon and I didn’t care for the double champion story. Triple H being added as the referee seemed unnecessary as well. The match had a few too many bells and whistles with Cena’s foot on the rope, Nash’s involvement and Del Rio’s cash-in. This was the year of CM Punk and WWE went out of their way to seemingly not capitalize on it.

14. Shawn Michaels vs. Vader (Summerslam 1996)

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A great big man versus small champion story here. It seemed as though in this one both men were a bit off and there lacked some chemistry. The restarting of the matches over and over was unique at the time and it made Shawn a more credible champion. Other then some off script antics during the match, this was probably the best Summerslam main event to date in 1996.

13. John Cena vs. Randy Orton (Summerslam 2007)

Ten years ago we got one of the first main event bouts between Orton and Cena. Cena would come out on the winning end and these two would have a good match. Over time, it appeared WWE tried to prolong this feud longer then necessary.

12. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (Summerslam 2015)

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A classic match that pitched the WWE Champion versus the United States Champion where both titles were on the line. It was a great match until the ending, where Jon Stewart, of all people, interfered and helped Rollins retain his title. His reasoning? He did not want Cena to tie Ric Flair. Tremendous match with a terrible finish.

11. The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Kurt Angle (Summerslam 2000)

The match appeared to be more focused on the rivalry between Angle and Triple H and then both men found themselves in the title picture. Kurt Angle gets knocked out early in this one but both men continue to be preoccupied with one another that champion, the Rock, capitalizes and retains his title.

10. John Cena vs. Chris Jericho (Summerslam 2005)

This was Cena’a first WWE Championship defense at a Summerslam and his opponent would be gone if he lost. Both men had a competitive match, but what is notable about this match is the crowd getting behind Jericho who was a heel at the time. This was the infancy of the polarization of champion John Cena as crowds would go on to be divided with their allegiance and disdain for the Cenation leader.

9. The Undertaker vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart (Summerslam 1997)

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Two legends squared off in this main event out with another legend as the special guest referee. In 1997, attitude was beginning to take shape and we saw a lot of it in this match. Shawn and Bret hated each other both in and out of the ring and Shawn found himself around controversy in this match as he screwed the Undertaker, leading to a Bret Hart win (not the last time in 1997). This main event bout would lead to some history in WWE as we saw the first ever Hell in a Cell result from Shawn’s actions against the Undertaker and Shawn would go on to face champion Bret at Survivor Series that year.

8. Edge vs. John Cena (Summerslam 2006)

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It has taken time, but looking back more then a decade ago, I really appreciate the rivalry between Edge and Cena. It absolutely elevated Edge to main event status and it brought out the best in John Cena as a fighting champion and contender. If Edge were to be DQ’d in this one he would have lost his title. Not only did Edge manage to retain, he used brass knucks unbeknownst to the referee and adding further insult to injury, he beat John in his hometown!

7. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker (Summerslam 1998)

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We were on the highway to hell in this one as there was a strong build to these two meeting. Early on in the match, it appears Austin and Undertaker crack heads together and this leaves Austin loopy. The brawl continues and you have to give credit to Austin who may have been battling a concussion. Highlight of the match for me is the leg drop from the top to the announce table adding further devastation and punishment to Austin. Despite all this, Steve Austin does retain his title with a Stunner and a clean pin; a rarity against the likes of the Undertaker. The post match has a tremendous sign of respect between these two legends.

6. Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar (Summerslam 2003)

As far as work rate and a technical match, this match had it all. I still prefer their Wrestlemania main event over this match but this match is worth checking out. You can see that Brock and Kurt really did bring out the best in each other and Summerslam would eventually become Brock’s shining stage as he competed in various WWE Championship matches as we move onto the top five where his name pops up again.

5. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (Summerslam 2001)

A fun match between these two that was physical and showed that Kurt could hang with the top star even this early in his career. The sight of blood definitely added to this match and the crowd and commentary was invested in this one. I enjoyed the referee bumps but like many matches in 2001, I hated the WWF vs. Alliance feud and unfortunately this was a part of this match. As the Alliance referee, Nick Patrick, came in for the finish and disqualified Austin allowing him to hold onto the WWE title. A great match and although I didn’t care for the finish, I understood the story they were telling.

4. John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (Summerslam 2014)

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This main event was no other I’d seen in WWE history. We saw a top guy dominated and get in very little offence. Brock was coming off just ending the Undertaker’s Streak and his tear continued as he made easy work of champion John Cena as he would go on to win the WWE World Championship. I can only encourage you to go back and watch this spectacle.

3. The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar (Summerslam 2002)

The main event of the perhaps the best Summerslam card of all time. Brock had just appeared on the scene and the Rock was on his way out so the result may have been apparent. The Rock, one of the greatest WWE superstars of all time would have one of his best matches against a young Brock Lesnar. Brock was still a bit green but you could see he indeed was “the Next Big Thing”. The crowd turned on the Rock in this one and it was a perfect atmosphere as the crowd got behind Brock as we ushered in a new era and Brock continues to exude “ruthless aggression”

2. Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Owen Hart (Summerslam 1994)

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The greatest Summerslam WWE Championship defense took place in a Cage Match between two brothers. These two had a masterpiece of a match as they wrestled one another and made attempts at escaping the cage. The superplex from the cage is the only high spot I’d say in an otherwise fantastic wrestling match. Great story with two quintessential professionals. Bret Hart is Mr. Summerslam for a reason and add this classic to his resume.

1. John Cena vs. Daniel Bryan (Summerslam 2013)

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The best WWE Championship has to be the one with the most exciting title win in Summerslam history. Not only was this an exciting and perhaps unexpected win, this was also a classic match between Bryan and Cena. The fans were solidly behind Bryan and were clamoring for him to win the big one. Not only did he win the World title but he defeated one of the all time greats in WWE history to do so and pinned his shoulder 1-2-3. Unfortunately, the Authority did not see Bryan as the guy and allowed Orton to cash-in and being the face of the company. This led to Bryan’s journey to Wrestlemania where he won the title again in another tremendous WWE moment.

 

 

 

 

 

’97 RAW is WAR Review: June 30

After being away on vacation, let’s resume our review of RAWs from 20 years ago. We are on the road to the Canadian Stampede and the teams are set as Austin will begrudgingly team with the LOD, Goldust and Ken Shamrock ! Triple H is the King of the Ring and has said that after being held down, he is taking his own career in his own hands. The Nation of Domination has disbanded and is now, as Faarooq puts it “Bigger, better and blacker!” and after months of feuding, Ahmed Johnson has joined this new Nation! This has also led to the formation of the Disciples of Apocalypse. Rocky Maivia is out with a knee injury. ECW has been getting some promotional life on WWE program. Mankind is looking to be a tag team partner of Austin. The Hart Foundation continue to look dominant and have temporarily rid the WWE of Shawn Michaels setting up a Tag Team Tournament for a team to challenge Austin and a partner of his choosing. The WWE Champion, the Undertaker appears to have finally severed ties with Paul Bearer who looks to reveal this burning secret.

RAW kicks off with a video package recapping the relationship between the Undertaker and Paul Bearer, ending with last week’s announcement by Bearer that he plans to reveal the secret TONIGHT!

Ken Shamrock def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Prior to the match, Chyna notes that Hunter will have “The World’s Most Dangerous Woman” in his corner for this match with Shamrock. Mankind makes his way ringside to confront his opponent on Sunday and as Hunter is distracted, he turns around into a belly-to-belly suplex and Shamrock picks up the victory.

We have a recap of Ahmed Johnson addressing why he joined the Nation of Domination stating that people did not back him up. This also featured the debut of the Disciples of Apocalypse (DOA). We learn also that Ahmed was injured and tore ligaments in his knee and will be out.

McMahon throws to their new broadcast partner, Michael Cole, backstage with the LOD. The LOD cut a promo on the NOD, but I was just looking at a young Michael Cole who has moved up the ranks in 20 years to be the lead voice on RAW and producing commentators for the future.

Sunny is backstage promoting a million dollar giveaway for Summerslam with money in a casket.

NOD (Faarooq & D’Lo Brown) def. LOD (Animal & Hawk)
The semi-finals of the tag team tournament continue as its LOD vs. NOD. Ross notes that Vader will square off against the Undertaker as a replacement for Ahmed and that the NOD is upset that no other member was chosen to replace him. The Godwinns get involve in this one behind a distracted referee’s back and nail Hawk with the slop bucket as Faarooq makes the cover. Side note, Hawk still tries to kick out after 3 and I hate that the weapon shot wasn’t just sold and that Hawk went into business for himself trying to still look strong in defeat. To make matters worse, the LOD just start to chase the Godwinns backstage, again no selling the bucket shot.

Post match, Faarooq asks McMahon why Vader was chosen instead of a member of the NOD. Faarooq says because Vader is white, which gets booed. McMahon asks Faarooq about the DOA. Faarooq says the Undertaker sent them because he didn’t want to fight Ahmed Johnson. Faarooq talks about beating up Savio Vega last week and Vega proceeds to come out. Vega says he’s coming for revenge and Faarooq tells him to get his “jalpeno picking a**” in the ring. Vega whistles and motions for some back up as Vega and three other men come in and brawl with the NOD. Officials try to separate these men and we hear motorcycles as the DOA make their way out. Now all three “gangs” begin to brawl with one another. Police enter the ring and attempt to separate the gangs.

Michael Cole is backstage and Savio Vega and his gang come yelling in his Spanish. Coles says “English please” Vega says they are Los Boricuas and they are gonna kick some a**.

A feature on Sunny and her photos in the upcoming RAW magazine.

Brian Christopher def. Scott Putski
Prior to their match we see highlights of Ivan Putski and Jerry Lawler as their sons compete, despite Lawler denying claims of being Brian Christopher’s father. Ross reminds that the Lightweight division is 215lbs or less so not only has the weight class name changed but 10lbs has been knocked off too. Lawler ends up looking to distract Putski but it’s reversed and Christopher nails Lawler. Lawler grabs the feet of Putski and Christopher rolls up Putski for the win. Another interference leading to victory.

Undertaker is backstage warning that Bearer will attempt to poison minds by revealing this secret. We also see a promo hyping a Lightweight match between the Great Sasuke and Taka Michonuku.

Brian Pillman def. Mankind by Countout
We learn Brian Pillman attacked a heckling fan on Shotgun Saturday night and has been fired from that show only. He offers an “apology” and says he won’t apologize for taking his incisors to the ear of Mankind and he’ll show Mike Tyson what it’s like to take a bite out of the human anatomy (historic reference). Mankind comes out with a “Pick Me Steve” sign around his neck and also offers JR a gift which is a mandible claw. Austin comments about Mankind wanting to be his partner. Now Helmsley and Chyna come out for perhaps another distraction finish. Pillman makes several attempts to bite at the remaining ear of Mankind. Hunter comes down but Mankind nails him. Pillman capitalizes and holds up Mankind on the outside but Hunter nails Pillman with a chair instead of Mankind. Mankind chases Hunter away with the chair and is counted out.

Paul Bearer comes out for the reveal of the secret. Bearer talks about the family of the Undertaker. He notes the Undertaker’s father was a mortician and there was also a mom, a red headed punk kid and another sweet brother named…Kane. Bearer notes he was an apprentice at this time and says the children would run around this funeral home. Bearer notes he saw these two kids smoking cigarettes which gets a reaction from the crowd. Bearer says one day he came back from school late at night and saw this funeral home in flames and that he saw the Undertaker in the bushes. Bearer accuses the Undertaker of burning down the funeral home and killing his parents.

We see Sable and Marc Mero again with the casket of money. We get a clue which is a key.

Owen Hart & British Bulldog def. The Headbangers
Tag Tournament semi-finals continues. Bret Hart is on the phone talking during this match and says he’s watching on TSN from Calgary. Bret hypes their 10-man tag match this Sunday in Calgary and praises Canadian fans. After their win, we hear Jim Cornette on the mic. Cornette says there is a team he has that didn’t debut in time for the tournament but Cornette blows a whistle and out comes the Headhunters or Squat Team Members #1 & #2 without the facepaint. They aren’t that impressive in this as they move rather clunky. When the Authors of Pain debuted in NXT, they reminded me of a more athletic and more imposing version of the Headhunters.

Undertaker is backstage and confirms what Paul Bearer said is in fact true. Undertaker notes he and Kane had been playing with matches and that after his chores he saw the funeral home in flames and inside were his family. Undertaker notes that he now draws power from the spirits of his family and that power will allow him to strike down Paul Bearer. It’s incredible to think that the Undertaker (and his brother later on) got this story over and made it a convincing one for a sympathetic babyface in the Undertaker.

Vader def. Rockabilly by DQ
Gunn nails Vader with a guitar in his back which Vader essentially no sells. Undertaker runs down for the apparent DQ. Bearer gets on the mic and yells “Murderer, murderer.” Undertaker goes outside the ring and slaps Bearer in the face, yelling “Tell them the truth!” Bearer mumbles “Kane told me” and then yells “KANE IS ALIVE! HE’S ALIVE!” Vader attacks Undertaker after the momentous announcement.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart by DQ
Another main event match between the two but it was about the aftermath after the match. Bret Hart (who isn’t in Calgary) interferes  and attacks Austin leading to the DQ. Hart applies the beautiful figure four leglock around the ringpost on Austin. Mankind attempts to make the save and applies the Mandible Claw on Bret which was a sight I don’t remember ever seeing in my WWE fandom between two of my favs. McMahon and the commentary team lose it and are yelling at all the action as RAW closes.

An incredibly eventful RAW to go into the Canadian Stampede. We had an attitude change of the Godwinns, the debut of Michael Cole, a third faction to join the race war fray against the NOD & DOA, the revelation of the Undertaker’s secret and that his brother Kane is alive. My personal highlight was seeing the Squat Team come out because of their unique stature and look but they were far from impressive. Lastly, we see Mankind continue to be an aid for Austin which begged the question why he wasn’t in the upcoming 10-man tag.

 

 

 

 

 

’97 King of the Ring Review: June 8

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King of the Ring Semi-Final Match
Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Ahmed Johnson
The commentators make note of how these two are from completely opposite worlds. Chyna comes on the apron to distract Ahmed and they exchange words which leads to Ahmed turning into a Pedigree and Hunter moving on to the King of the Ring finals.

King of the Ring Semi-Final Match
Mankind def. Jerry “the King” Lawler
Mankind receives another positive ovation and cuts a babyface promo prior to the match so it looks like the turn is in full effect now. Mankind uses the Mandible Claw for the win and will meet Hunter in the Finals; a first of many encounters between the two.

Pillman is backstage talking about his upcoming match with Austin the following night on RAW when he is attacked by Austin. Austin shoves his face in the toilet and flushes it.

Goldust def. Crush

The Hart Foundation (Owen, Davey Boy & the Anvil) def. Sycho Sid & LOD
LOD and Sid cut a very early 90s style promo but remain very over with the crowd. Hart Foundation win with a bit of botched sunset flip into a pin by Owen on Sid.

Highlights of last year’s KOTR with the Austin 3:16 speech.

King of the Ring Final
Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Mankind
One of the great rivalries in it’s infancy here as these two square off. There were boring chants to begin with but this match was paced methodically and told a great story. There is a great ovation as Mankind applies the Mandible claw on Helmsley. Chyna gets involved numerous times. She nails Mankind with the KOTR scepter and even moves Hunter out of harm’s way as Mankind goes head first into the steel barricade. Hunter at one points rips off the mask of Mankind. He also hits a Pedigree driving Mankind through the announce table. Mankind attempts to get back in the ring after this but while on the apron, Helmsley hits a high knee sending Mankind into a camera man. Mankind, wrestling a great babyface style valiantly keeps getting back up and has the crowed solidly behind him as the story plays out. There’s a great reaction as Mankind kicks out after a close nearfall. Hunter hits another Pedigree and it does the job as Hunter Hearst Helmsley is your 1997 King of the Ring! Chyna (presumably now the Queen) aggressively brings Todd Pettengil in the ring for the coronation. Hunter dawns the robe but uses the crown (which he apparently hated) and nails Mankind in the back of the head as he stands over him, the new King. Commentary continue to praise Mankind as he eventually gets to his feet and makes his way to the back.

Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation comes out prior to the Austin-HBK match. Bret was supposed to remain ring side but ends up in the back but not before challenging 5 American wrestlers to a 10-Man Tag at the next pay-per-view; the Canadian Stampede!

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels ends in a Double DQ
I thought match of the night so definitely one to check out. Austin inadvertently hits the referee knocking him out and when he covered Michaels, the ref couldn’t make the 3-count. Austin ends up stunning the referee which the crowd enjoyed. Another referee comes in to check on the fallen ref despite Michaels now covering Austin. Michaels hits Sweet Chin Music on this referee and a THIRD referee comes in to disqualify both men. The finish made sense as it protected both men and kept them both at equal footing.

WWE Championship
Undertaker (c) def. Faarooq
The story of this match was that we may see the first African-American champion. 20 years later we have had only the Rock as WWE Champion and Booker T and Mark Henry as World Heavyweight Champions. A cool spot happens when the Undertaker looks to walk the ropes and hit “Old School” (which I guess was just “school” at this point). Undertaker ends up diving onto the Nation who were outside the ring and takes them all out. At the end of the match, Faarooq is distracted by the dysfunction he sees among the Nation members. Faarooq turns around and the Undertaker hits the Tombstone for the win! Post-match, Paul Bearer orders the Undertaker to chokeslam Faarooq multiple times. Ahmed Johnson comes down and asks why the Undertaker is listening to Bearer and doing this. Ahmed hits the Pearl River Plunge on the Undertaker, perhaps also as retribution for the chokeslam the Undertaker hit Johnson with last week on RAW. There was no apparent alliance between Faarooq and Ahmed.

I thought overall a good show. I enjoyed the King of the Ring Final more than I thought I would and both men left that match better than when they went in so that was a plus! The Shawn Michaels-Steve Austin match was really good. There was a bit of a disruption early on with a fan with special needs falling over the barricade, but Michaels looked to ensure he made it back to his seat safely which made Shawn all the more endearing to his fans. I thought the main event was fine, I knew it couldn’t surpass the HBK/Stone Cold match but it was passeable. For all the great promo work Faarooq had done it was a bit of a shame that there really wasn’t a huge payoff and that this title program was essentially one and done.

’97 RAW is WAR Review: June 2

RAW starts off with a recap of the Tag Title win by Austin and HBK and also shows the Undertaker on bended knee as he reunites with Paul Bearer.

Undertaker makes his way ringside. Jim Ross on commentary compares the Undertaker to Andre the Giant and says Undertaker is not just a phenom, but THE Phenom. Paul Bearer also comes down ringside and tells the Undertaker he is his personal instrument of destruction. Bearer says with the Undertaker by his side he’ll be the ruler of the world. *Cue Sycho Sid’s music*. Sid comes out, returning to TV after a lengthy absence. Sid talks about their match and says he respected the Undertaker but now that the Undertaker is with Paul Bearer he can no longer put his rematch on hold. Undertaker and Sid go face to face and the match is on. Faarooq comes out and tells Sid and Undertaker that this time next week there will be black WWE Champion.

Faarooq def. Ahmed Johnson
We see highlights of the feud between Faarooq and Johnson. The Nation of Domination tries to interfere but the Undertaker makes the save and fights them off. Undertaker sends Faarooq into Ahmed and Ahmed ends up going head first into the steel steps on the outside of the ring. Faarooq tosses Johnson back in the ring and pins him for the win. Ahmed gets in the Undertaker’s face and they exchange words. Undertaker ends up choke slamming Ahmed.

We get a recap of Austin’s attack on Bret Hart’s knee followed by another ad for the the King of the Ring inflatable chairs. The Hart Foundation come out. Bret announces he will NOT be wrestling at the King of the Ring. Austin and Michaels (who are separate backstage) respond to Bret but end up arguing with one another via divided screen. Brian Pillman suggests that Austin square off against Michaels at the King of the Ring and then Pillman and Austin can fight the next night on RAW. Austin accepts and says he’ll kick Pillman’s little crippled, raspy, hoarse voice a**.

Intercontinental Championship
Owen Hart (c) def. Bob Holly
After getting the upset on Owen two weeks before, Holly earns a title shot. Owen retains with the Sharpshooter.

Michaels backstage and accepts the match with Austin. We also get a recap of Mankind’s sit down interview from last week. There is also another Sunny super soaker ad with Cornette, Honky Tonk Man and the Headbangers.

Goldust def. Hunter Hearst Helmsley
This was a #1 Contenders match for the European championship next week on RAW. Chyna looked to drape Goldust over the top rope but Marlena grabs the leg of Chyna. Hunter looks to hit the high knee on Goldust but he gets out of the way and Hunter ends up nailing Chyna sending her off the ring apron. Goldust rolls up Huner for the win.

World Tag Team Championship
Legion of Doom def. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels (c) by Countout
This was a strange match as far as match psychology. Usually Hawk and Animal dominate their opponents but in this one they were up against two top stars. Hawk and Animal are weak as sympathetic babyfaces as Austin used heel tactics to his advantage and as much as they beat down Shawn, his come backs were great and fans were solidly behind him and Austin in this one.

Mankind’s sit down interview with Jim Ross continues as they look at his time as Cactus Jack and the death matches. Mankind says he was at home in these death matches. Mankind notes it was the first time he was respected and possibly even loved. Mankind says contrarily now in the WWE he is spat at and has forsaken his dignity. Mankind points to scars, his ear, and bruises from over the years and says it is a road map of all his previously destinations. Simple yet effective in adding layers to the depth of the Mankind character and perhaps creating acceptance of Mick Foley as a top performer.

Mankind def. Savio Vega
Mankind gets a positive reaction which is noted by commentary so we are amidst a babyface turn. Mankind attacks Lawler who was on commentary as Lawler would face the winner of the match in semi-finals of the King of the Ring. The referee restores order. As Mankind has the mandible claw applied on Savio, Crush looks to nail Mankind but hits Vega instead. Mankind picks up the win and Crush and Vega begin to fight. Faarooq makes his ways ringside but returns backstage rather than break up the fight.

The Undertaker def. Sycho Sid
I thought this was Sid’s championship rematch but it is announced as a non-title match. Sid gets a strong ovation upon his entrance. Undertaker hits the tombstone for the win. The Nation of Domination attacks Undertaker after the match. Sid looks to fight off Crush and Savio but Faarooq clips him at the knee taking him out. Faarooq begins to whip the Undertaker as the crowd chants LOD but LOD does not come out. Sid and the Undertaker are laid out and the Nation of Domination make their way backstage as RAW goes off the air.

I can’t say I enjoyed this go-home edition of RAW too much. The Mankind interviews continue to be a great hit but on this edition we lost all the major matches minus the title match for the pay-per-view. Bret and Shawn was called off due to Bret’s injury and Pillman and Austin was cancelled without cause simply to lead to Austin and Shawn without a proper build. Things backstage must have been in disarray because the WWE is usually pretty good at not changing plans last minute but overall not an exciting RAW compared to weeks past.

’97 RAW is WAR Review: May 26

Austin and Michaels kick off RAW. Austin calls himself the captain of the team and they argue but agree they are focused on taking something from the Hart Foundation and Michaels notes they will kick some a**. The Legion of Doom come out and tell Stone Cold and HBK to give them the title shot should they win tonight and Michaels agrees.

LOD def. Pillman & Neidhart by DQ
Not much of a match here as Bulldog and Owen almost instantly interfere. This was to set up a brawl as Austin and Michaels returned to make the save. Michaels looked to hit a baseball slide on Neidhart but nails Austin instead. Austin and Michaels begin to brawl with one another further teasing they have no chance of functioning as a team later tonight.

Another Sunny super soaker ad, this time with the Honky Tonk Man.

Paul Bearer is backstage and notes his change in appearance and he isn’t the same anymore and says he’ll reveal the Undertaker’s secret by the end of the program.

D’Lo Brown def. Bob Holly
Faarooq was on commentary during this match and was essentially the focus. Faarooq asks McMahon what were his thoughts when he heard he (Faarooq) was the #1 Contender. McMahon responds saying he thought it would be an extraordinary match. Faarooq disagrees and says he believes McMahon was scared there would be a black champion. McMahon says “I have no problem with you being champion but you haven’t been one of my favourites.” Faarooq says he didn’t come out to be a favourite and that he tells the truth. Faarooq asks if a civil war and slavery took place in America and what colour were the slaves? McMahon says unfortunately yes but what game is Faarooq playing here? Faarooq says he and McMahon can be friends at work but if he moved beside him in his neighbourhood the neighbours would guard up their homes. McMahon says he can’t defend there is racism in the country. Faarooq notes as the fans cheer Holly’s comeback and tells McMahon to listen. McMahon asks “You think they are cheering because he is white?” Faarooq says the country was built on a black man and McMahon acknowledges that all the events Faarooq brings up are factual but says Faarooq is being patronizing. Again, it is incredible to see such a debate on a wrestling show. I guess whatever your stance is on race relations, Faarooq is either a whiny heel or an honest babyface.

Undertaker is backstage and says he has a decision to make.

King of the Ring Quarter Final Match
Jerry “the King” Lawler def. Goldust
King is backstage prior to the match and says he knows why Dusty Rhodes doesn’t like Goldust. He lists it’s because he married a gold digger, wears a woman’s wig and started kissing men like a flaming f**. He mocks Goldust emotion and says to bring his family ringside and they’ll cry too. Lawler even sinks so low to say they should have named their daughter Target because everybody has a shot. Lawler is just reprehensible here with lines that you won’t get anymore from a publicly traded company with tons of endorsement partners. Despite all this, JR notes they are in Evansville which is a popular location for the USWA where Lawler also competes as you hear cheering for Lawler during the match. Lawler wins as he has his feet on the ropes but Goldust gets revenge post match sending Lawler rolling down the ramp.

Backstage we see the Hart Foundation beating down Austin.

Rocky Maivia def. Flash Funk
We saw a commercial plugging the inflatable King of the Ring chairs. The Headbangers join commentary and bring these chairs ringside. Headbangers are incredibly annoying throughout this match on commentary. They end up attacking Maivia and Funk during their match but no disqualification is made. Mosh ends up nailing Funk with a boombox (tremendous 90s term). Maivia pins Funk without seeing what happened to him outside the ring.

Hart Foundation promo backstage as Bret and Brian Pillman hype their respective matches with Michaels and Austin at the King of the Ring. Owen and Bulldog hype their tag team championship match for later tonight.

Ahmed Johnson def. Vader
If Vader were to win he would take Johnson’s place in the King of the Ring Semi-Finals since he couldn’t compete due to injury. Johnson beats him as Shamrock was on commentary.

Paul Bearer, once again backstage says he will do what no man, no warrior, no immortal could do and that is bring the Undertaker to his knees.

Hunter Hearst Helmsley def. Rockabilly
We had two babyfaces square off earlier and now two heels making for strange psychology. Rockabilly attempts a pin but Chyna pulls him off. Later in the match, Honky Tonk Man looked to blast Hunter with his guitar but Chyna punches him and slams him on the outside. Helmsley hits Rockabilly with the Pedigree for the win.

Undertaker backstage says Bearer should do what he has to do and he will do what he has to do.

Sable comes out to promote the inflatable King of the Ring chairs but says nothing.

We continue the Mankind sit down interview. Mankind talks about his journey to to Madison Square Garden to see Snuka fly off the cage onto Muraco. Mankind notes the emotion that match evoked and it led him to wanting to be a wrestler. They talk about his alter ego, Dude Love. Mankind mentions an encounter he had with Shawn Michaels saying he wanted to be him; Micheals understood it as Mankind wanting to be champion but Mankind explains he wanted to BE the Heartbreak Kid. We see highlights of Mick jumping off his friend’s roof and his trainer Dominic Denucci. They note they’ll discuss Cactus Jack and the death matches next week.

World Tag Team Championship
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin & Shawn Michaels def. Owen Hart & the British Bulldog (c)
Shawn immediately proved there was no ring rust on him as he looked fantastic in his first match in four months. Fans were hugely into both Shawn and Austin and there was a huge ovation when they won the titles. The Hart Foundation immediately beats down Shawn as Austin grabs the belts and makes his way up the ramp towards Bret Hart. Austin attacks the knee of Bret, appearing to re-injure it. Returning from commercial we see Austin and Shawn arguing about Austin abandoning his tag team partner.

Paul Bearer is out for the final segment. He talks about knowing the Undertaker for years, even prior to Brother Love bringing him in. He says Undertaker knows the secret he will reveal. Bearer notes that at his parents’ internment there wasn’t only two graves but three. Undertaker’s music hits before we can find out who the third one was for. Undertaker says he hates Paul Bearer for what he is forcing him to do. Undertaker teases choking out Bearer but ends up taking a knee to end the show.
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I thought a decent edition of RAW. You had a great main event match with a lot of star power. It appeared that this week on both RAW and SmackDown Live that the theme was dissenting partners but if Austin and Michaels were the bar from 1997, no one was going to top them. The disdain between the two was tremendous and really made you think they could never dethrone the tag champs. It’s interesting to see that xenophobia continues to be a storyline theme 20 years later with Jinder Mahal. Mahal’s promos do not compare to that of Faarooq in the slightest. We also saw the return of Goldust this week to the character he was playing at this time in 1997. He was great then and appears to remain great now. I didn’t remember the Undertaker actually reuniting with Paul Bearer so I was caught off guard as I am waiting for Bearer’s announcement of just who might have been in that third grave.

’97 Shotgun Saturday Night Review: May 24

 

Brian Pillman wins a squash match
Jim Ross and Jim Cornette are on commentary on this edition of Shotgun Saturday Night as Pillman is in action. Ross notes this is Pillman’s debut match in the WWE since his injury last year.

There is a recap of Bret Hart and his challenge to Shawn Michaels from RAW. The “sunny” days comment is omitted. They officially announce Shawn vs. Bret, Austin vs. Pillman and the LOD vs. Owen and Bulldog for the tag titles.

The Godwinns def. Furnas and LaFon
Furnas and LaFon are introduced as the most exciting tag team. Henry is serious the entire match as this is his return match from a neck injury he suffered a few weeks back. Ross notes Henry O has lost his smile and Cornette says there’s been a lot of that going around.

Ahmed Johnson def. D’Lo Brown
NOD attack Johnson after the match and Rocky Maivia makes the save.

Recap of Undertaker addressing Faarooq and Paul Bearer from RAW. We also get a recap of the Austin and Michaels segment that started RAW, the partners they sought out respectively and the final segment of RAW where it was announced that Austin and Michaels would be partners and the brawl to end RAW.

We get a LOD interview with JR where they say they’ll challenge the tag team champions whomever they may be.

The New Blackjacks and Jesse James won their respective squash matches to close the show.