Holy star power wrestling fan. After looking for a while like it was going to be a really bland Survivor Series card, the changes in the last couple of weeks have produced a stacked show. There are 12 former world champions on the show, 8 former women’s or divas champions, 6 former NXT champions, and the only man on the show (including Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas) who has never held a title is Braun Strowman. However, even with the depth on the card, what a lot of people seem to be talking about this week is the ages of the participants in the top matches – in particular the Raw vs SmackDown 5-on-5 Elimination match.
SmackDown’s team consists of Shane McMahon (47), Randy Orton (37), Bobby Roode (40), Shinsuke Nakamura (37) and John Cena (40) for an average age of 40.2 years old. Raw’s team consists of Kurt Angle (48), Braun Strowman (34), Finn Balor (36), Samoa Joe (38) and Triple H (48) for an average age of 40.8. The issue that people have with the ages of performers is undoubtedly exacerbated by the other real main event – Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles – also featuring two forty year olds.
I don’t care these guys are both 40, I haven’t been this excited for a WWE match in a long time!
It’s just about time for TakeOver: WarGames! And I have to be a little honest, with the announcement that the WarGames match itself won’t have a roof on the cage, my excitement has diminished a little. That, to me, is what makes this not a WarGames match, rather than the other rule changes. So because of that, in this Spotlight I’m going to write about a championship that has become slightly secondary over the last couple of months – the NXT Championship.
I’m essentially going back to Bobby Roode’s reign here. He had a really strong run as champion, beating Shinsuke Nakamura for the title, and Roode always made sure to use the championship as a means to exemplify his control of the brand as it’s top guy. The lineage of the title, the quality of matches that have followed it, and touches like Roode establishing it as a prize worthy of everyone’s desires, they have all made it a coveted prize. But after five years of growth, for the first time, the NXT Championship has become secondary.
It was arguably the most coveted title in WWE at one stage, but now? Not so much…
WarGames. It is a concept that hasn’t been used in nearly 20 years, but next weekend a cage will contain nine men inside two rings one more time. As someone who was around 18 months old when the last official WarGames match took place, it was something I’d only ever heard of, but it was always something that was talked about as being legendary. The concept was designed by the late, great Dusty Rhodes, and became something of a signature match for the Four Horseman, especially in the early days. There have been thirty official WarGames under the WCW (and later by extension the WWE) banner, I have watched eight of them from throughout the years. I thought I’d put together this article to give people who, like me, had never experienced the concept before, an idea of what to expect.
How It Works
The best way I can describe it to people only familiar with the post-WarGames era of wrestling is as a cross between Hell In A Cell and the Royal Rumble. As previously mentioned, the match features one cage covering two rings, and usually two battling teams of four or five. Traditionally, two men start the match and slug it out for five minutes. After five minutes, there is a coin toss, and whichever wins the coin toss can send a member from their team into the cage, giving their side a 2-on-1 advantage. After two minutes, that advantage is nullified and it becomes 2-on-2. The teams alternate between sending a man in every two minutes, with the team who won the coin toss always retaining the advantage. When the last man has entered the cage, a period called “The Match Beyond” begins, which basically just means the match can now end. There are no disqualifications, and until the later versions there were no pinfalls either, meaning the match could only end when someone “submits or surrenders”. Continue reading
This is going to be one of the most disjointed columns I’ve published in a long time. Usually I like to write to make a point, to address one or two ideas through exemplification and analysis. There will be aspects of that here, but there were so many things I wanted to talk about it is a bit of a mish-mash of ideas. That is because last week, I went to the Raw house show in Glasgow and the Aberdeen house show in Aberdeen – and when you see so much, it gets you thinking about a lot of different things too.
Ok, so here is the space where I talk basically about why I did what I did in my Raw fantasy booking series, and try to justify the whole thing. I thought I had better make this a separate article after the final part started approaching 10,000 words (damn all those epic promos), but there are a few things I wanted to highlight here. Starting with…
So WWE’s perennial question right now is how to keep Braun Strowman strong, while still building towards Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns as the top match at next year’s Wrestlemania. This has meant that they are coming up with increasingly bizarre (see TLC) ways of writing him out of stories and giving him personal grudges. I wanted to protect him without resorting to those extremes every month, and really he is the most protected guy in this story – he never gets pinned once, and I think he only ever loses one match not including the Royal Rumble. When I took over the book, he was coming off a loss to Brock Lesnar that, in all honesty, didn’t make him look that impressive. So I wanted to re-establish his dominance in the first few weeks, and then had him be one of the two survivors for Team Raw at Survivor Series. Continue reading
It’s time to write the final leg of my journey to Wrestlemania with the Raw men’s division! This part covers the period between the night after the Royal Rumble right up to Wrestlemania, with some outlined plans for what I would have afterwards too. For the story so far, make sure you read Part 1 and Part 2, but if you’re up to speed let’s pick it right up the night after the Royal Rumble!
January 29th, Raw
On social media before Raw, and during the show, “Kurt Angle addresses Samoa Joe” is promoted as the main event segment.
Results: Matt Hardy defeats Elias by pinfall, Braun Strowman defeats Apollo Crews & Titus O’Neil by pinfall, Finn Balor defeats Darren Young by pinfall
Promos: – Roman Reigns comes out to start Raw, talking about winning the Royal Rumble for the second time. He simply says he is going to Wrestlemania to face Brock Lesnar, and he will win the Universal Championship. Continue reading
It’s nearly TLC time, but last night the WWE Universe was rocked by news of two major changes to matches at the PPV tomorrow night. Usually in my PPV Spotlights I focus on one match, but I think under the circumstances I’m going to change things up for one show only and just write about the changes – they’re major enough that I think that’s all anyone is talking about anyway.
So first off, why the changes? In short, illness. WWE have confirmed that three of their performers are currently suffering from a “viral infection”. The rumour going around wrestling news sites is that they’re suffering from viral meningitis. The three performers in question are Bo Dallas (who has been missing from the last couple of Raw’s), Bray Wyatt (who hasn’t appeared in person during the same time frame), and most significantly Roman Reigns.
Reigns being taken out by illness like:
It’s Part 2 time! This is the project where I take the men’s division on Monday nights, and detail what I would do with them, and how I would go about it. Simple right? You can check Part 1 for a refresher of the base rules I set myself, as well as what I’d done so far, but for simplicity here’s the “need to know” notes for as far as Survivor Series:
- The Raw vs SmackDown series at Survivor Series returned, with the final spot in the Royal Rumble match up for grabs – Raw won 2-1, winning the women’s and men’s matches and losing the tag team elimination match
- Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman were the sole survivors for Raw in the decisive men’s match
- The Miz is still Intercontinental Champion, and Sheamus & Cesaro are Raw Tag Team Champions – but Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose are due a rematch
- Brock Lesnar just retained the Universal Championship against Finn Balor
- Samoa Joe has been making jibes to Kurt Angle over Jason Jordan’s losing streak, which he snapped at Survivor Series by beating Elias
- John Cena has been on hiatus, and will return to the SmackDown brand in December, not figuring into these plans as yet
I think that’s all, so let’s pick things up again the night after Survivor Series! Continue reading
It’s time for a handful of WWE Superstars to step foot inside the most demonic structure in WWE history – Hell In A Cell. For my Spotlight this time round I really toyed with the idea of going with The New Day vs The Usos for the Tag Team Titles, if only to gush about them for having great matches time and time again. However, I do like to put the focus on matches that I feel have a larger significance to them. And this time round, that accolade has fallen to the WWE Championship match between Jinder Mahal and Shinsuke Nakamura. Continue reading
It was always going to happen. Once I’d mapped out how I would book SmackDown through to Wrestlemania, it was only natural that I’d look at Monday nights at some point too. This is going to follow the same broad rules I set myself for the SD column – I can’t change storylines that are already in development, I have to write some sort of conclusion to them – and like the Kevin Owens/Shane McMahon feud I still work towards matches that are expected in the future. I’m also still assuming there is a PPV roughly every month, even though WWE haven’t yet announced as much. And I can’t magically heal anyone who is injured, I have to work with their expected recovery time, which means no Big Cass or Jeff Hardy.
I’m mainly dealing with the Universal and Intercontinental Championships (though I do briefly discuss the Tag titles early on), and on that note I only have Brock Lesnar wrestling in “Big-4” PPVs from here on out. I had anticipated while writing the SD column that John Cena would be on Raw through to Survivor series, and would then take a few weeks off from there, but since he seems to be gone for now he stays off TV until his return to SmackDown, and he won’t reappear in Raw storylines until after the Royal Rumble. As with my SD columns, if a show looks empty, that’s because I anticipate more focus will be given on those weeks to the women’s, cruiserweight or tag divisions. Continue reading