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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WWE Draft 2016 Review

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I made an earlier post predicting the RAW and SmackDown rosters for the brand split. Let’s take a look at where I (or the WWE) went right or wrong.

Draft Order

  1. Seth Rollins (RAW): I predicted he’d end up on RAW and am a fan of him going #1 to establish that he is one of the top guys in the WWE.
  2. Dean Ambrose (SmackDown): Originally I had him on RAW to continue his feuds with his former Shield members. His feud with Rollins will end and I think a grudge feud between him and Reigns would be entertaining. There should be fresh feuds for him on Smackdown.
  3. Charlotte (RAW): I had Charlotte on RAW because she has proven she deserves to be on the “flagship” show. I didn’t expect her to be drafted as early as she was.
  4. AJ Styles (SmackDown): I assumed he’d be one of the main guys on Smackdown and I’m happy to see he is. I remain stunned at how Styles has been booked on television as a top guy. SmackDown had the reputation as the “B-Show” that primarily features wrestling, so it makes sense for them to be led by a guy who is a tremendous wrestler, always fighting with a chip on his shoulder to prove he is the best.
  5. Finn Balor (RAW): I, like many, predicted Balor was coming up but I didn’t see him going to RAW or being drafted as high as he was. I’m delighted to be wrong.
  6. Roman Reigns (RAW): He was always going to lead RAW and be drafted early regardless of circumstance.
  7. John Cena (SmackDown): I like Cena going to SmackDown as I predicted and I also like that he wasn’t immediately drafted. Go check out what he said at the Draft Centre on the Network to see what he has in store for SmackDown.
  8. Brock Lesnar (RAW): Similar reasoning to Reigns.
  9. Randy Orton (SmackDown): I had Orton going to SmackDown. My assumption is veteran star power will help make SmackDown must see. I hope it doesn’t have the reverse effect.
  10. The New Day (RAW): I had all three members on RAW and not splitting up. I hope they can travel between both brands as long as they are champion because the tag division on either brand is not very deep.
  11. Sami Zayn (RAW): I had Zayn on RAW because the three hour show needed guys who can put on entertaining and competitive matches. I anticipated some other guys on his level being on SmackDown so that he could easily elevate to the next level and hopefully the main event scene but that wasn’t the case as we’ll see.
  12. Bray Wyatt (SmackDown): I had Bray on RAW because I knew more times than not I’ll be tuning into RAW and not SmackDown. He is my favourite wrestler and so I’ll have to keep up with what he is doing on his show. The Wyatt Family is splitting up again and other than Luke Harper who is still out with injury, I worry for Stroman and Rowan.
  13. Sasha Banks (RAW): Sasha brings even more star power to RAW. SmackDown could have used Sasha as one of the top 3 faces of their brand. I’m glad I’ll see her on RAW but SmackDown should have drafted her once Charlotte was picked.
  14. Becky Lynch (SmackDown): I had Becky remaining on RAW but now she is the face of SmackDown’s women’s division. Perhaps the strategy was to create opportunity for Becky to prove she is a star and not simply draft one (refer to above).
  15. Chris Jericho (RAW): RAW has and will always be Jericho.
  16. Rusev w/Lana (RAW): I assumed it would go this way with the United States Championship being on RAW and the Intercontinental Championship being on SmackDown.
  17. Miz w/Maryse (SmackDown): Refer to above.
  18. Kevin Owens (RAW): I am not a fan of how late Owens was drafted and that he is on RAW with Sami Zayn. These two should have been separated. Also Owens will most likely remain in the same spot he was in prior to the draft. At least on SmackDown, he’d be among the top guys instantly. Bray being on SmackDown can lead to him being the top babyface on that brand. I thought Owens would have that same fortune but now he is on RAW behind each guy drafted before him if that is an indication to the WWE mindset.
  19. Baron Corbin (SmackDown): I thought Corbin would be on RAW because I assumed more eyes would see him on this show rather than SmackDown. He has opportunity to be a top heel on SmackDown and so I hope he seizes the opportunity.
  20. Enzo & Big Cass (RAW): They are the highlight of three hour RAWs every week and the show would have suffered a major loss if they ended up on SmackDown.
  21. Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (RAW): I had these two on RAW but the Club had been doing some great work as a faction that I didn’t think WWE would separate them. I hope they don’t flounder. My idea was that if the Tag champs can go between both shows that would give added incentive for these guys to win the belts and join AJ on SmackDown to…beat up John Cena! If not, perhaps we see the formation of the Balor Club?
  22. American Alpha (SmackDown): YES! These guys have made it to the main roster and are another reason for me to make time to watch SmackDown. As stated numerous times already, I’m unsure how the championships will work out but this team is new blood and will dominate the tag division shortly!
  23. Big Show (RAW): I had him on SmackDown simply because he’s on the roster and really don’t see him factoring into any major storylines. He was drafted earlier than he needed to be.
  24. Dolph Ziggler (SmackDown): Is it too late for Ziggler to finally be one of the main guys? No Zayn, Owens, Cesaro or Jericho on this show, perhaps now he can ascend. The WWE creative and powers that be have really hurt this guy’s perception in the eyes of fans.
  25. Nia Jax (RAW): Wow! Did not expect her to make it to the main roster this quickly. With less women on the RAW brand she won’t necessarily flounder but with Charlotte and Sasha as your leaders, she’ll have to work harder to remain a player in the division.
  26. Neville (RAW): I had him on SmackDown because whenever he was on RAW he never appeared to be in meaningful matches or storylines. He may be a part of the launching the Cruiserweight division on RAW and if so, he’s on the right show.
  27. Natalya (SmackDown): I had her on SmackDown because both shows should have an equal balance on strong female wrestlers.
  28. Cesaro (RAW): I had him on SmackDown for the exact reasons he stated in his backstage interview.
  29. Alberto Del Rio (SmackDown): I had him on RAW simply to balance out the number of wrestlers on both brands. I am not a fan but I wish him success on SmackDown.
  30. Sheamus (RAW): I had him on SmackDown for similar reasons to Owens, Neville, Cesaro and Del Rio; to re-invent, be meaningful, avoid being disgruntled and a body on the roster.
  31. Golden Truth (RAW): The kick off to announced picks on Draft Center LIVE. I would have broken up this team because I don’t care about them.
  32. The Usos (SmackDown): I had them going to SmackDown. They are an exciting team and I am looking forward to a future encounter with American Alpha.
  33. Titus O’Neil (RAW): I had him on RAW but with all the talent that remains, I don’t see any change of how he’ll be showcased.
  34. Kane (SmackDown): This is where Big Show should have been drafted as well. These guys won’t be around much longer so why make either a priority pick.
  35. Paige (RAW): I had her on whatever brand Del Rio was going to be on. She was drafted way too late and I fear how this will affect her confidence because she is still among the top women in the division.
  36. Darren Young w/Bob Backlund (RAW): I had him on SmackDown because I fear once the WWE loses interest in this gimmick he will be lost in the shuffle behind all those drafted ahead of him.
  37. Kalisto (SmackDown): He`ll be doing his lucha thing!
  38. Sin Cara (RAW): It’s okay that they broke up the Lucha Dragons but what is the reasoning to have Sin Cara as a featured Cruiserweight over Kalisto?
  39. Naomi (SmackDown): I’m glad she’s with the Usos on SmackDown, the women’s division on this show is up for grabs if she wants it bad enough.
  40. Jack Swagger (RAW): I had him on RAW but in the same role he’s had for months now.
  41. The Ascension (SmackDown): The tag division was crowded but they’ll have to match the level of the Usos and American Alpha; easier said than done.
  42. The Dudley Boyz (RAW): Will Bubba get to shine as a single’s star on the “flagship” show?
  43. Zack Ryder (SmackDown): I had him on RAW because I felt they were getting behind him and similarly to Corbin I wanted him to be on the show that potentially will get more viewers. That being said there’s opportunity for him to shine on SmackDown.
  44. Summer Rae (RAW): I had her on SmackDown but in the same spot she’s in now.
  45. Apollo Crews (SmackDown): WHY WAS HE DRAFTED THIS LATE?!? I hope he moves up the card on SmackDown. For his sake, I was in favour of a brand split. There isn’t as much competition on SmackDown so maybe he’s ascend ahead of many drafted before him.
  46. Mark Henry (RAW): Similar reasoning to Kane.
  47. Alexa Bliss (SmackDown): Good for her. She certainly was improving on NXT but never got any major storylines there. I think she’ll be a major player in this division in due time.
  48. Braun Strowman (RAW): I fear how he’ll do on his own.
  49. Breezango (SmackDown): I like this team and I think they’ll be a fun team in there with the Usos and American Alpha.
  50. Bo Dallas (RAW): At least with the Social Outcasts we knew what to expect on a three hour RAW.
  51. Eva Marie (SmackDown): Totally forgot she got drafted. Totally forgot she’s been broken away from Nia Jax.
  52. Shining Stars (RAW): It was a matter of where their vignettes would show; it will be on Monday nights.
  53. The Vaudevillains (SmackDown): Refer to the Ascension.
  54. Alicia Fox (RAW): Refer to Jack Swagger.
  55. Erick Rowan (SmackDown): At least he has Bray on SmackDown with him as a fallback if the vintner gimmick fails for a second time.
  56. Dana Brooke (RAW): I thought the WWE was high on her but she got drafted late. At least she remains with Charlotte.
  57. Mojo Rawley (SmackDown): Wow! We’ll see how he fairs. The track record for guys like him (Matt Morgan, Bam Neely, Ezekiel Jackson, Ryback)  isn’t too good. If he forms the Hype Bros it will prolong his longevity in the company.
  58. Curtis Axel (RAW): The least entertaining of the Social Outcasts. On his own, I fear how he’ll do.
  59. Carmella (SmackDown): I love that she got drafted by why is she separate from Enzo and Big Cass?

 

Overall impressions? They stocked the 3-hour show with as many stars as they could so that viewers won’t lose interest. That being said SmackDown has a solid core but I think there is more opportunity for some guys on this roster to change their standing on the card. Also, other than Balor and American Alpha I am surprised by the NXT draft picks. The commentary teams have also changed with Corey Graves now being a RAW announcer and JBL and Otunga on SmackDown. Lastly, we’ll see how championship titles and trades are handled. Week 1 of this “new era” begins after Battleground so we’ll see how they make all this work!

 

 

WWE Brand Extension Roster Predictions

On July 18, 2016 we will see the return of the brand split. I am not a fan of the brand but I will be optimistic that this will be a success as they have a talented roster that isn’t always showcased as such. A few things I’d like to see are:

  • The WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the WWE Tag Team Champions and the WWE Women’s Champion compete on both shows
  • The United States Champion will be exclusive to RAW
  • The Intercontinental Champion will be exclusive to Smackdown
  • Mr. Money in the Bank can appear on both shows
  • WWE Network Specials/PPVs showcase talent from both shows

 

Here are the rosters I see with current main roster talent.

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  • ALBERTO DEL RIO
  • ALICIA FOX
  • APOLLO CREWS
  • BARON CORBIN
  • BECKY LYNCH
  • BIG CASS & ENZO AMORE
  • THE NEW DAY: BIG E, KOFI KINGSTON & XAVIER WOODS
  • WYATT FAMILY: BRAY WYATT, LUKE HARPER, ERICK ROWAN, BRAUN STROWMAN
  • BROCK LESNAR
  • THE DUDLEY BOYS: BUBBA RAY & D-VON
  • CHARLOTTE
  • CHRIS JERICHO
  • DANA BROOKE
  • DEAN AMBROSE
  • EMMA
  • GOLDUST
  • HEATH SLATER
  • JACK SWAGGER
  • KARL ANDERSON & LUKE GALLOWS
  • KANE
  • PAIGE
  • R-TRUTH
  • ROMAN REIGNS
  • RUSEV & LANA
  • SAMI ZAYN
  • SETH ROLLINS
  • TITUS O`NEIL
  • ZACK RYDER

 

 

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  • THE ASCENSION: KONNOR & VIKTOR
  • THE VAUDEVILLAINS: AIDEN ENGLISH & SIMON GOTCH
  • AJ STYLES
  • BIG SHOW
  • BO DALLAS
  • CESARO
  • CURTIS AXEL
  • DARREN YOUNG
  • DOLPH ZIGGLER
  • THE SHINING STARS: EPICO & PRIMO
  • FANDANGO & TYLER BREEZE 
  • JEY & JIMMY USO
  • JOHN CENA
  • THE LUCHA DRAGONS: KALISTO & SIN CARA
  • KEVIN OWENS
  • THE MIZ & MARYSE
  • NAOMI
  • NATALYA
  • NIKKI BELLA
  • NEVILLE
  • RANDY ORTON
  • SASHA BANKS
  • SHEAMUS
  • SUMMER RAE
  • TAMINA
  • TYSON KIDD

 

With a glance at these rosters it is apparent that Smackdown looks to be the pure wrestling show with new talent getting an opportunity to carry their own brand.RAW will be more of the sports entertainment show with more segments featuring charismatic superstars. With RAW being 3 hours, they will need guys (Rollins, Zayn, Ambrose, Jericho, Del Rio, Crews) who can put on longer, competitive matches and an expanded roster. This is where we can guess which NXT superstars will be drafted:

  • FINN BALOR
  • SAMOA JOE
  • AMERICAN ALPHA: JASON JORDAN & CHAD GABLE
  • SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
  • BAYLEY

 

I’ll be tuning in to see which superstars go where and seeing new talent from NXT is likely to ignite tremendous excitement among fans.

You’re Welcome: the Career of Damien Sandow

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It was only a week ago that Damien Sandow, along with other former WWE talents, was released and I’m still racking my brain as to why. Sandow himself has stated he wasn’t surprised and the reason given simply was that the WWE had no plans for him and were focused on their NXT talent. That being said, I’d like to look back at the career of Sandow as I believe his time in WWE can be defined by his popular statement of “You’re Welcome!”

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The Sandow vignettes in 2012, immediately had me intrigued because unlike other gimmicks on the roster, we knew instantly why Sandow was coming to the WWE. He insulted the intelligence of wrestling fans and their sophomoric standards for entertainment and he was arriving to bring some class to the WWE . This instantly made Sandow a top bad guy. Sandow would berate fans with his superior intellect and titled his opponents ignoramuses.  One of Sandow’s finest outings that encompassed all of this was when he interrupted DX on RAW 1000. Sandow held his own on the mic with this legendary group but got what was coming to him when you accurately disparage hooligans and half-wits.

I think a missed opportunity with Sandow was not giving him his own talk show, to replace Miz TV. Sandow’s charisma and ability to berate fan favourites would have made the show a highlight segment for RAW and Smackdown. Also Sandow would hold in-ring segments where he would test the intelligence of fans in hopes of finding an understudy (perhaps to replace Ignatius who was only ever teased online). These could have made for fun segments especially at house shows.

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Looking at Sandow in his pink attire and refined manner, you’d be surprised by his aggressive in-ring style. After singles matches, Sandow found himself in a tag team with Cody Rhodes named “Rhodes Scholars”. Both men would team up on and off and even challenge for the tag titles. Rhodes would be considered a friend which was significant as not many met the high standards of the Intellectual Saviour of the Masses. Eventually this led them to a Money in the Bank Ladder match, where Sandow would win the briefcase. Throughout the buildup and following the match, Sandow couldn’t help himself and would berate all the competitors in the match including Cody. This led to feud between the two where Cody would throw the briefcase in the sea on an episode of Smackdown and both men meeting at Summerslam in a featured match.SD_747_Photo_045

As has become an expectation with Money in the Bank winners, Sandow began a losing streak. Alongside that, he no longer sported his blue robe and towel and he eliminated his in-ring antics such as cart-wheels and pink tights–essentially ridding the gimmick. He started to wear his black shirt, black tights and white boots and became a rather generic guy. Sandow would eventually cash-in his Money in the Bank against John Cena after viciously attacking him. The two had an entertaining bout with an equally fun rematch later. Sandow would come up short but it certainly looked as though Sandow belonged in there with the top guy. WWE appeared to not feel the same and this was the beginning of not knowing what to do with this talented superstar.

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Sandow would occasionally pop up dressed as absurd characters and losing to his opponent. He claimed that it was perceived that fans didn’t find him entertaining as he was and so he dressed up in an effort to “entertain”fans. I quote entertain because I believe it was others who didn’t find him entertaining because fans surely adored Sandow.  Sandow would continue to do this and at first, as a fan you take it for what it is as comedy segment in the show. As Sandow continued his impersonations, it was apparent the effort Sandow was putting in for a short comedic segment.gallery_wwe-raw-damien-mizdow-03

This led to his greatest impersonation as the Miz. Yes, the Miz! He was billed as the Miz’s stunt double. As stupid as this may sound, this was another chapter in Sandow’s career. Mizdow! Sandow had been imitating superstars prior to this and doing a remarkable job. However, this time the impersonation stuck with the WWE Universe. Mizdow would imitate all of Miz’s offense and mannerisms during matches while being on the outside which fans found incredibly entertaining, Later on as the duo formed a tag team, fans clamored to see Mizdow compete over the Miz. This increased the despise for the Miz and he refused to give the crowd what they wanted and Miz’s jealousy grew as fans chanted “WE WANT MIZDOW” or would boo when Miz pointed to himself and cheer when he pointed to Mizdow in arenas around the country. Mizdow’s popularity would grow as he helped the team capture tag team gold and during the Andre the Giant Battle Royal fans grew excited as it Mizdow was the final two in the match. He was unfortunately eliminated and Miz and Mizdow squared off in one of the worst blow offs to a popular feud. Absolutely no reward for the Mizdow for all the efforts he put forward in becoming one of the most popular guys on the roster.

The end as we know it was in sight from this point on. Sandow did get an opportunity on RAW to thank the fans for all their support of what he’d been doing in the ring. This was yet another chance to give Sandow some momentum moving forward as he had the backing of the WWE Universe moving forward. Unfortunately he was placed in a short-lived tag team that poorly mimicked the Mega Powers. They were barely on TV and the team disbanded after the Hogan controversy. After this Sandow was barely on RAW or Smackdown. That never derailed his popularity. Sandow was in a pre-show, tag team match at the 2016 Royal Rumble in which he got the loudest ovation. At Wrestlemania he got a tremendous ovation from 100, 000 fans. At a house show overseas, Sandow tweeted about the ovation he got. in his final RAW match he competed in another Battle Royal where his elimination got a tremendous response (of disappointment).

So what is next for Sandow? Clearly he has the ability to connect with any audience in a myriad of ways. Personally, I could see him fitting in very well with Lucha Undergroud. He’s announced his “Thank you Tour” on the independent scene to thank fans for their support. Looking back at his career, I believe it is we as fans who should thank him because to have a superstar like this for the short duration we did–only one thing can be said to us, “You’re welcome!”

Calf Injury, Crews, Conor, Chyna

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Woke up this morning to the news that Chyna has passed away. As a fan of wrestling it is always sad to hear that a wrestler from my childhood has passed away. I remember as a 9 year old being scared of a debuting Chyna. As the Attitude Era intensified so did the use of Chyna as she competed in-ring against men. I am not a fan of intergender matchups but I must say it was believable that Chyna could defeat the ordinary man. Cause of death isn’t known and I don’t want to speculate, it’s just sad to see another wrestler leave us.

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Conor McGregor blew up the sports world with a single tweet teasing retirement. He later confirmed he is not retiring but wanting to focus on MMA and his training and not be coerced into doing interviews with people who aren’t invested in the sport. Did I think McGregor was officially retiring? No, I assumed it was a move to get the sports world talking and that was achieved. I agree with Dana White that no man is above the UFC and promotional work comes with the territory. I think McGregor does not need to compete for the remainder of this year and should focus on winning and determining which weight class is most advantageous. There is more cheese to be made and when McGregor returns I’ll be paying to see it.

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It was surprising to see Apollo Crews debut on the main roster after Wrestlemania. I think he could have benefited from some more time down in NXT, but he is now on the main roster and so how does the WWE showcase Crews to be the star he is destined to be? He presently isn’t in any storylines and is just showcasing his talents against low-card guys. I think Crews could be booked in an “Apollo Open Challenge” similar to the open challenge of Cena. I think fans enjoy surprise opponents and this could be billed as Crews open to fighting all sorts of Superstars and that he has all the skills to defeat any superstar. If it caught on with fans it could lead to more prominent superstars challenging Crews, possibly a returning Cena or Orton. I still believe Crews will be a future WWE Champion, the cream always rises.

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Bray Wyatt suffered a calf injury some time on the European tour and it still isn’t known how long he will be out. I hope it’s only a few weeks because I think Bray is set to win the Money in the Bank briefcase this year. With his new character turning to be more fan favourite it could compliment the change in the character. I think Bray’s entrance  with the lights going out and immediately going on helps with the tease of the cash-in and reminds fans who has the coveted briefcase. Bray could also tease that his family could destroy the champion en route to a potential cash-in. Finally, could a returning Luke Harper cost Bray Wyatt the title leading to a meaningful feud between these two and the final break-up of the Wyatt Family?

The Road to Wrestlemania

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2016 has only just began and we already have a ton of news in the wrestling world. As the road to Wrestlemania begins at the Royal Rumble, it appears there will be some travelers on this road that we hadn’t anticipated and common travelers who will not be marching to Wrestlemania.

First, who will not be at the Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania? There will most likely be no John Cena and no Daniel Bryan. There will definitely be no Randy Orton, no Sting, no Seth Rollins, and no Cesaro. These are 6 huge names to lose for what is shaping up to be a gigantic Wrestlemania. So what can WWE do in the absence of these stars? The simple is answer is that they have to go with the talent they have now and move forward with the desire to make NUMEROUS stars. The following is an imagined Wtestlemania card with the talent available.

Andre the Giant Battle Royal
Participants: Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Adam Rose, Big Show, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Fandango, Jack Swagger, The Miz, R-Truth, Ryback, Zack Ryder, Kane, Damien Sandow, David Otunga, Sin Cara, Konnor, Viktor, Diego, Fernando & El Torito

It’s a shame that the Andre the Giant Battle Royal isn’t a more celebrated match. Right now it is simply a match to ensure all the talent get on the Wrestlemania card. The names involved are a mix of guys who have been around for a while, guys who the company hasn’t committed to moving up the card and guys that have been slotted as comedic, losing figures. On the Solomonster Sounds Off podcast it was proposed that Mark Henry may and should win this match given he will most likely retire and it would be fitting to have his last match be in his home state of Texas with a win.

United States Championship Ladder Match
Alberto Del Rio (c) vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kalisto vs. Rusev vs. Neville vs. Ziggler vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Stardust*

Last year there was a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship which was an entertaining opening match. This year I suggest the same for the United States Championship. Several of these names could have been thrown in the Battle Royal but I think that for new guys like Neville, Rusev, Kalisto and Breeze there is still time to move these guys up the card. Guys like Jericho, Ziggler and Stardust deserve to be showcased and not simply thrown in a meaningless Battle Royal. I have asterisked Stardust because I’d place him in another match if an injured superstar remains unavailable. I would have Kalisto go over in this match giving him a crowning Wrestlemania moment.
**What was written above was written prior to RAW where Kalisto has won the United States Championship. The same match can take place, with Kalisto retaining.

WWE Tag Team Championship Gauntlet Match
New Day (c) vs. The Usos vs. The Primetime Players vs. Sheamus/Barrett vs. The Dudleys vs. ???

The Gauntlet style match is another way to get more teams on the card. I would start with the Dudleys versus Sheamus and Wade Barrett, the last remnants of the League of Nations. League of Nations would win after a Bubba Ray turn on D-Von so that the Bully Ray character can debut the night after Wrestlemania. Next up the Primetime Players with the League of Nations pinning Young. The New Day enter next and capitalize on the exhausted League of Nations and defeat them. With the Usos coming out next, the New Day wisely sub out one team member for another so as to not feel the effects of the Gauntlet. New Day defeat the Usos and out comes the surprise team, the debuting Enzo Amore and Big Cass.  I think with the amount of fans who are making the trip to watch Wrestlemania that these are fans who know NXT talent. With their amazing entrance they could organically get fans to start chanting “NEW DAYS SAWFT!” to the rhythmic clap of “New Day Rocks”. Enzo and Big Cass capitalize on the surprise nature and defeat the New Day to win the titles, which would make up for not putting the belts on this team at NXT Brooklyn.

Women’s Championship
Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks

This is a safe bet for a predicted match on the Wrestlemania card. Sasha Banks has been relatively protected on television and fans have been clamoring for Sasha to be the face of the women’s division. Charlotte is transitioning well to her villainous character and once her feud with Becky Lynch is over look for the big program to begin with Sasha getting her crowning moment at Wrestlemania.

Intercontinental Championship
Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn

This is a feud that although both guys have had countless matches that fans love to see them clash on new stages each time. Whether it’s from Ring of Honour to NXT or NXT to WWE programming and by extension to Wrestlemania. Once again on the Soundoff Podcast, it was suggested Zayn return at the Rumble and eliminate Owens as retribution for all that Owens cost Zayn. Owens should regain the IC title and this leads to a feud between bitter rivals and for a prestigious title. This would certainly be match of the night.

The Undertaker vs. Dean Ambrose

Given that John Cena is injured and will miss Wrestlemania there are now even fewer opponents for the Undertaker. Undertaker will not square off against Brock Lesnar as they had their final match. The Undertaker and Sting will not clash in the dream match as Sting may have wrestled his last match and as of this writing it has been announced that he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Therefore who can step in the ring with the Undertaker? There are a few names that are being tossed around but one name I haven’t heard suggested is Dean Ambrose. Ambrose and the Undertaker squared off before in a singles match that had a no decision. I think you could build this match around the fact that for the first time the Undertaker is choosing his opponent. The Undertaker could say he saw something in Dean when he was a part of the Shield and he sees something in him now and that at the end of the night on Wrestlemania we’ll see if Dean Ambrose has earned the respect of the Undertaker.

Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock

I’m not convinced that the Rock is wrestling at Wrestlemania due to his outside commitments but if he does his opponent has to be a big deal and it has to be a big match. Similarly, the expectation for Brock Lesnar is to face a big name at Wrestlemania in a big match and a Rock return match certainly fits that bill.

WWE Championship
Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns

The seeds for this match have been planted and despite the injuries to the roster, this feud has not been affected. I never thought I’d suggest putting the title on Triple H but for the success of a Wrestlemania Main Event, you need a hero to triumph and regain the prize rather than just successfully defend it. In order for Triple H to win the title, he will have to win it at the Royal Rumble. I’m not a fan of Triple H winning the Rumble in 2016 or being in the Wrestlemania main event, but for the sake of the story the WWE has started it almost has to go this way. Reigns will hopefully be cheered as he closes the chapter on his feud with the dreaded Authority.

Wyatt Family vs. Balor Club

This is not the main event of Wrestlemania but I’ve saved it for last because it involves a lot of new talent that has been rumoured to join the WWE from New Japan. Firstly I agree that Shinsuke Nakamura should have vignettes to hype his arrival. On a lead up episode of RAW in February I’d have Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson debut as the Balor Club. They would simply soak in the adoration of the crowd as fans stood in awe of what they were seeing. Prior to anyone saying a word, I’d have the Wyatt Family interrupt and confront the Balor Club. I’d anticipate a “This is Awesome” chant for the stare down. Bray would say he knew these guys were coming and so he knew his family had to grow. Out would come Nakamura who would tease if he was joining either faction. Nakamura would join the Wyatts as they assault the Balor Club 5-on-4.

Now let me say, I’m not suggesting Nakamura change his attire or grow a beard. I think you can have Bray explain that he knew he had to get one of these new guys to hold the advantage in dominating the WWE knowing full well another group was invading his space. For the time being, Bray could be the mouthpiece so that Nakamura could maintain a mysteriousness about him. This would also hopefully eliminate a stereotypical portrayal of a Japanese superstar. I think Nakamura’s in-ring charisma fits well for a short-run as a member of the Wyatt Family

Leading up the Wrestlemania, the Balor Club would delay the announcement of their final member for the 5-on-5 match. Perhaps two weeks out of Wrestlemania, the Balor Club would finally reveal their fifth member. From a pure fantasy booking scenario, I would have the Balor Club reveal Daniel Bryan has returned to join them. Bryan could be protected in a 10-man tag and there would be limited risk. I’d anticipate a huge eruption and tremendous interest for this match. If Bryan isn’t cleared  to wrestle, I’d give Cody Rhodes a chance here. Balor Club would be attributed to helping Rhodes get rid of the Stardust character and hopefully ignite something new in Rhodes. This would hopefully set up an exciting 10-man tag similar to the excitement surrounding the Wyatts and the Shield.

I know that I’ve suggested bringing up A LOT of new talent from NXT and abroad but I think this Wrestlemania demands the best the WWE has to offer. Guys and girls coming out of this night with big victories would be Kalisto, Sami Zayn, Enzo & Big Cass, Sasha Banks, Roman Reigns, Finn Balor, AJ Styles and the rest of the Balor Club. Ambrose although probably losing would still look like he belonged in the ring with the likes of the Undertaker. Nakamura, would be on the losing team but this would set up a turn of the Wyatts on Nakamura, which could lead to Nakamura just tearing through all the Wyatt Family monsters to build momentum to moving up to the main event scene. This is purely fantasy booking but I’m excited to see what the WWE pulls off for Wrestlemania 32 this year!

 

 

 

 

 

Bray Wyatt is a Star in the making

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Gimmick: An evil cult leader whose mind is unstable. Wyatt has an alternative view of himself and doesn’t appear to relate to the human race. Wyatt even stated “…So people, witness the new face of fear. This is not the face of a human being; this is the face of a MONSTER!! This is the face of the eater of worlds. Every time from now on that you gaze into my face, I don’t care who you are, how BAD you think you are, you can never hurt me because I am already dead.” In pro wrestling, there is nothing more exciting than kayfabe being taken seriously.  Staring into the eyes of Bray Wyatt, the man just isn’t all there, which makes him that much more dangerous as he enters the squared circle. If you met Wyatt in one of those ravines from the vignettes, chances are you wouldn’t stick around too long for a Wyatt Family picnic.

Move-Set: In the few matches I have seen with Wyatt he is incredible athletic and is a decent worker. Wyatt is not a physical specimen but once again, personally, there is always something captivating about an athletic big man. Wyatt reminds me of Bam Bam Bigelow with his speed and aerial manoeuvers for a man his size. His finisher “Sister Abigail” (which is an awesome name) looks devastating. Wyatt also uses a Flying Senton and brutal Cross Body that can come out of nowhere.

Mic Skills: Bray Wyatt appears to use a mix of delivery styles in his promo. There’s a bit of Jake Roberts with deliberate and methodical use of words. There is also a bit of a Macho Man/Ultimate Warrior intensity (and insanity) which sucker you in and evoke an emotional response to what Wyatt is saying. Fortunately for Wyatt while he is clearly unstable, his messages don’t come across as nonsensical rambling but more often what he says leaves his audience pondering what his message means and confused on how to piece it all together.

Faction: Bray Wyatt on his own is fantastic but his character is heightened with his association with the Wyatt Family. Harper and Rowan look just as crazy as Wyatt and compliment Wyatt as a cult leader who was able to brainwash these two behemoths. Harper with his surly beard has the Bruiser Brody look, another mad man in wrestling history. Rowan in his jumpsuit hides his impressive physique and the wearing of a lamb mask is brilliant psychology. The mind of his opponents may see what appears as a soft, cuddly lamb and forger they’re in the ring with a monster. Wyatt’s faction allows Wyatt to spew essentially whatever he wills as no one may cross him due to his TWO enforcers. In turn, I am sure that Wyatt will lead these two monsters to tag team gold.

Feud: Who should Bray Wyatt feud with upon arrival? I would suggest Randy Orton. Back in 2011, Orton punted Husky Harris in the head which essentially led to the creation of Bray Wyatt. Wyatt could attribute the kick to the head to his level of sanity and his new understanding of the world around him. Wyatt is thankful to Orton and plays mind games with Orton but a kick to the head is never forgotten. Wyatt understands Orton’s intentions as trying to end his career before it could begin and now Wyatt and his family have arrived to take the beloved Orton out. As the Wyatt Family have stated “Send us anyone, just don’t send us anyone you want back.” Bray Wyatt and the family could build off Orton’s theme in being the new voices Orton hears in his head.

Other Intangibles: The Wyatt family theme music is perfect. It has a very relaxed beat and is calming which is the opposite of the aggressive style of the Wyatt Family, again playing into the psychological games of the Wyatt family. Another important intangible is that wrestling is in the blood of Bray Wyatt as he is a third generation superstar. With a lineage that includes Hall of Famers Blackjack Mulligan and Barry Windham and eventual Hall of Fame, his father, Mike Rotunda, Wyatt just has a different understanding of pro wrestling that cannot be taught in training school or developmentals. It will be a matter of time, but Bray Wyatt to his credit has a ton going for him and his success should be forthcoming!