Looking back at my early predictions

This is my 200th post on this wrestling blog! It started six years ago, with the first post on April 1, a predictions column for Wrestlemania 28. I’ve progressed through many styles of article, several co-contributors, seen a huge turnover in the WWE roster and the rise of NXT and the WWE Network. And along the way, I’ve made probably hundreds of predictions. So, as a special post for the landmark, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the predictions I made in my first year, and see how right – or very, very wrong – I was. Continue reading Looking back at my early predictions

TV Talking Points – 9th-11th April

So much has happened in WWE over the last week, I couldn’t contain it all in one article. I had to split up the Wrestlemania part of the week from the weekly shows, which this article covers. The post-Mania Raw is always one of the highlights of the year, they’re attempting to make SmackDown the same way and NXT is always solid whether it’s Wrestlemania season or not. So what happened? There were loads of highlights, let’s get to it!

Raw

One Ember sparks the fire

It hasn’t always worked out this way, but if an NXT Champion loses their title right before Wrestlemania, they’re an obvious candidate to be called up. Ember Moon lost the NXT Women’s Championship Saturday night, and debuted on Raw Monday night. I’m really excited to see what Moon can do on the main roster, and her being there should allow for a big name or two to move to SmackDown, because the Raw women’s division is now stacked. With the Eclipse and her presentation, Moon can stand out and be a key player.

Continue reading TV Talking Points – 9th-11th April

Wrestlemania Talking Points – 6th-8th April

So I wasn’t going to do this, but after the weekend of content WWE put out, and the sheer number of noteworthy things to come out of Raw, I knew that one Talking Points article covering the whole week would be stupidly long. So welcome to Wrestlemania Talking Points, where I do the same thing I usually do for Raw, SmackDown and NXT and apply it to Wrestlemania weekend. That’s the Hall of Fame on Friday, NXT TakeOver: New Orleans and, of course, Wrestlemania 34. There’s a lot to cover, so let’s do it!

Hall of Fame

D-Von can be entertaining

Full disclosure, I still haven’t watched the entre HoF ceremony, because there were a few people I just didn’t have any interest in. But, the Dudley Boyz speech was phenomenal. They managed to toe that line of humour and seriousness perfectly, while putting over other people all the way. The moment with the original TLC teams reuniting on stage was awesome, and of course they put someone through a table.

 

Mark Henry calls for Owen Hart’s induction

I completely understand Martha Hart’s hesitancy to allowed Owen to be associated with WWE. This is just one of those cases where the Hall of Fame will never feel complete without him. He was tag team champions with Mark Henry, so Henry used his speech as an opportunity to publicly ask Martha to let Owen in. It was touching to see how much it clearly meant to Henry, it was a truly emotional moment. It wouldn’t be the last of those over the last few days either.

 

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans

North American Championship Ladder Match

It’s not like anything was massively shocking here, it was just a great match. Everyone got a chance to do their thing and shine, and it really did turn out to be carnage at it’s finest. From Ricochet flying everywhere, to Lars Sullivan manhandling everyone, to Velveteen Dream jumping off the top of  ladder. And when all was said and done, there was only one, Undisputed winner.

 

Queen of Spades… and NXT

It’s been a long time since we had a heel NXT Women’s Champion, but here we are once again. Looking through the list of women to have held that title, it’s an impressive list with a fantastic pedigree that Shayna Baszler has to live up to. She has the character nailed down already, but I’m yet to be convinced by her in the ring. She has some really good talents to work with though, and NXT always does a good job of protecting their talent. I’ll give her time. I know this video is totally unrelated to the match, but I also loved this as Ember’s entrance and there don’t seem to be clips on WWE’s YouTube, so…

 

A Dusty finish again…

We finally saw the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic trophy awarded, and the tag titles were also on the line. Authors of Pain. Undisputed Era. Roderick Strong & Pete Dunne. One thing I really like about NXT is that they save their biggest angles for TakeOvers – Shinsuke Nakamura’s debut, DIY’s implosion, Adam Cole’s debut. And here we got a new moment to add to that list: Roderick Strong turns heel and joins Undisputed Era. And he dd so by attacking his partner, costing them the trophy and the titles. It’s going to be a good fit for Strong going forward, and they’ll likely dominate Wednesday nights together for the rest of 2018.

 

Gargano vs Ciampa

What. A. Match. From the minute Tommaso Ciampa walked down to the ring this felt like it was going to be special, and it was. The storytelling was off the charts, the emotion, the allusions. It can be tough for a match that’s been building for as long as this one has to live up to the hype, but Gargano and Ciampa met expectations and more. For Gargano, back to back classics at TakeOvers cements his spot as one of the elite workers in the company. Really, it says all you need to know that this match was the main event with the card on show.

 

Wrestlemania 34

Grand Slam Rollins

I thought the first four hours of Wrestlemania (including the pre-show) were phenomenal. So it was really tough to decide where to start with these highlights, and I’ve let WWE’s YouTube channel dictate this to an extent. I didn’t think they had the best moments up from the preshow, so even though I thought some moments there were great, I’m going straight to the main card, and Seth Rollins winning the Interconintental Championship to become a Grand Slam Champion. It was a really good match, as expected going in, again with a lot of references to previous encounters. It’s cool that all three members of The Shield are now Grand Slam champs, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Seth does with the title.

 

The streak… is over.

Even with the main event, this was still probably the most surprising result on the card. I really believed in the booking idea that Asuka would win the title, remain unstoppable and build up to a face off with Ronda Rousey next year at Wrestlemania. As it turned out, Charlotte is still the SmackDown Women’s Champion. It’s going to be  very interesting to see where both of these talents go next.

 

Rousey steals the show

At the time of writing, this clip has nearly six million views on YouTube. To put that into perspective, The Undertaker has 2.5 million, and Daniel Bryan has less than a million. That’s the mainstream drawing power that Ronda Rousey has to WWE, the only question was whether she would be any good. And hell yeah she was. This was the best match on the show, and Ronda came across like a bona fide star. She really could be a difference maker for WWE in so many ways if this was anything to go by, because it was a fantastic match by any standards – never mind that it was her debut and Stephanie McMahon was in it.

 

Deadman walking

I really wasn’t convinced about Undertaker wrestling agin, and after Wrestlemania I’m really still not convinced. I’ve seen a lot of talk online that he was looking a lot better than last year, but I didn’t think he was moving that well. But, the saving grace was how they brought him back. The teases were well done, and the way the hat and jacket reappeared I really thought was genius.

 

He’s baaack

Daniel Bryan is back baby! There were issues with this match, nobody can deny that, but above all else it is just plain great to see Daniel Bryan doing his thing again, with no apparent negative consequences. I wrote about this match on Sunday, and I said it wouldn’t feel right if Bryan lost on his return. Well, he didn’t. That was the right call, and it is so exciting to think of all the potential dream matches that lie ahead of him. Welcome back Bryan!

 

See what I mean? Can you imagine if I’d put all that into an article as well as all that happened last night on Raw, and tonight’s SmackDown, and tomorrow’s NXT? I wouldn’t have gotten the article finished this week. Stay tuned for more posts this week, I have a few more planned, and now we can officially say that 2018’s Wrestlemania weekend is in the history books!

Wrestlemania 34 Spotlight: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon

There was only one way I could round off my Spotlights for Wrestlemania 34. And that is with the most hotly anticipated return the wrestling world has seen for many a year. We haven’t seen him in the ring for three years, but he’s back for Wrestlemania. I couldn’t not cover it, it’s the in-ring comeback of Daniel Bryan, as he teams with Shane McMahon to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn!

So there’s been a lot of conflict leading up to this. And I don’t mean conflict between the faces and the heels, that would be obvious. But for months now, Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan have been in a battle of wills over the direction SmackDown should take. And most of the time, those disagreements were over Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, who themselves have been fighting with each other again in the last couple of months. Continue reading Wrestlemania 34 Spotlight: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon

TV Talking Points – 2nd-4th April

It was the go-home week for Wrestlemania, and with most of Mania already set it felt like a fairly standard Raw and SmackDown. It could be argued that they should have been blow-away shows as a final push to sell you Wrestlemania, but in the Network era that doesn’t matter anymore. So if you missed the shows, what happened?

Raw

The Authority stands tall

Since Ronda Rousey debuted, she hasn’t really shown any weakness. That was until Monday, where Triple H and Stephanie McMahon finally got the upper hand. I imagine Ronda will be getting the win on Sunday, and you can’t expect The Authority to never get the last laugh. And it was a nice example of turnaround being fair play, as Ronda ended up getting put through a table. Just like she did to Triple H at Elimination Chamber.

 

Brains Strowman

One of the few remaining mysteries going into Wrestlemania is who Sheamus & Cesaro will be defending the Raw Tag Team Championships against. We know Braun Strowman will be in the match, as he won a battle royal a few weeks back to earn the shot. But ever since, he’s refused to reveal who his partner will be. There has been a lot of speculation as to who it will be, ranging from Rey Mysterio to Bray Wyatt to Dean Ambrose to Drew McIntyre. But I think it’s safe to say one person it won’t be is “Brains Strowman”.

 

Tensions bubbling over

So I wanted to call attention to one rivalry that isn’t going to be a featured part of Sunday, but looks like it will be in the aftermath of Wrestlemania. There have been teases of revisiting NXT’s legendary Sasha Banks vs Bayley rivalry for over a year now, but things have really picked up in the last month. It seems obvious that one of them will be turning heel. Who will it be? I’d have to think we’ll find out in the next week. That in sunless a Superstar Shake-up messes thing long running story up again.

 

SmackDown

Hug it out

It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around in just a few weeks. Daniel Bryan’s story really is remarkable, and his popularity hasn’t waned a bit. Even the allusions to his previous gimmicks and storylines are as over as they ever were at the time, and I’m sure Dr Shelby would be proud to see Bryan still utilising the practice of hugging things out. I think this was a necessary segment, since there was always going to be the question of how these two would coexist after disagreeing with each other for so long. But also, if there is going to be a heel turn, if will make it all the more of a betrayal after this. It was important for their solidarity this Sunday, but it was also important for story options going forward.

 

NXT

A Classicly Dusty finish

I loved that Roderick Strong and Pete Dunne were entered into the Dusty Classic. The original Dusty Classic were full or mix and match duos (let’s not forget the inaugural winners were Finn Balor and Samoa Joe) where part of the story was whether they would implode by the end of each match. And this year things were taken one step further, as the whole tournament ended with a controversial finish, as the Undisputed Era caused a double disqualification. This led to not just the tag titles being on the line come Saturday night at TakeOver, but also the Dusty Rhodes trophy. Will the Undisputed Era win the Dusty Classic by winning a single match?

 

Six man face off

The advertised main event of this week’s NXT was Killian Dain vs Lars Sullivan, two of the contestants in the ladder match to crown the first ever NXT North American Champion on Saturday. But for the second time on the show, we didn’t get a clean finish. Actually, we didn’t get any finish. The rest of the field came out to interrupt the match, and while no punches were thrown, no words were said, NXT did go off the air with the first in-ring appearance of The One and Only… Ricochet.

 

I fully expect a bumper week next time out as TakeOver and Wrestlemania will be included, and it’s always an extremely newsworthy edition of Raw and SmackDown after Wrestlemania. I’m also doing Spotlights on Mania matches every day this week, and I’ll be posting a TakeOver: New Orleans Spotlight too, so keep visiting the sight to keep up to date with all my latest content!

TV Talking Points – 26th-28th March

It was the penultimate week of build to Wrestlemania, and once again I’m a little strapped for time, so let’s get right into the week’s events!

Raw

Laying down the law for the Deadman

While I was very much in the camp that wasn’t sure if I wanted to see Undertaker wrestle again, John Cena has most certainly brought the intensity when calling out WWE’s conscience. Like I’ve said before, he’s attacked Undertaker’s personality and character like nobody in recent memory. And this week Cena brought it again, this time claiming that no response from the Undertaker would be letting down every single fan who’s ever believed in him.

Continue reading TV Talking Points – 26th-28th March

TV Talking Points – 19th-21st March

What a week! There’s been so much going on in WWE, it’s easy to forget we’re only 17 days away from Wrestlemania! Let’s just get right into this bumper edition of WWE’s TV Talking Points.

Raw

Putting the Big Dog down

This week we finally got a confrontation between the reigning, defending, undisputed, Universal Champion Brock Lesnar faced off with his number one contender Roman Reigns. The story is that Lesnar turned up when he thought Reigns wouldn’t be there – whether that’s because he saw it as a low risk night off, or because he fears Reigns is up to you. But of course, Reigns did show, and got absolutely demolished. The worrying thing is that I wasn’t convinced WWE’s effort to get the fans on Reigns’ side was working before. After the news that broke the next day (much more on that later), WWE’s fight has possibly never been more doomed.

Continue reading TV Talking Points – 19th-21st March

WWE’s TV Talking Points – 1st-3rd January

This is the first of what will hopefully become a regular column! What I’m going to do is discuss a couple of the main talking points – whether that is an impressive promo or match, a significant storyline development, or maybe just something subtle that caught my eye that I felt was worth mentioning – from Raw, SmackDown and maybe even NXT, depending on how things go. I’m normally going to try to have this up in the middle of the week, but it’s later this week because New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 12 and New Year’s Dash meant I didn’t get round to NXT until yesterday. So what were the main things to takeaway from WWE’s first shows of 2018? Let’s find out!

 

Raw

Royal Rumble Rules Revealed

It’s been a couple of weeks since Stephanie McMahon officially announced the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble, and there had been a lot of speculation over how it would work. Given the size of the women’s roster, how many entrants would there be? Given the size of some of the women, would they have to go over the top rope to the floor, or just out of the ring to the floor? Well, on New Year’s Day Kurt Angle opened Raw to confirm the rules of the match – 30 women, and eliminations occurring when a woman goes over the top rope with both feet hitting the floor. Given that there are only 19 women on the main roster not including each brand’s champion, that means there are going to be a lot of former stars returning or appearances from NXT’s women to fill out the spots. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, as 30 women puts it on an even playing field as the men – if it was only 20, as had been suggested by many including myself, it might’ve been argued that it was less important. And this year especially, it’ll put over the historical significance of the match to have all these legends coming back to win it. However going forward it’s a concern. If the main roster’s women’s division doesn’t expand for next year, there’s only so many times you can bring back the same names from the past, and having one third of the field coming from NXT could hurt the credibility and star power in the match. It’ll be an interesting situation to keep an eye on in years to come.

Continue reading WWE’s TV Talking Points – 1st-3rd January

Random Thoughts

I haven’t posted anything for a while, because in a few ways I haven’t really found WWE TV all that exciting recently. But, having watched Payback and this week’s Raw, there were a few sticking points that came to mind. None of them were really big enough to dedicate entire articles to, so I’ve put them all together here.

 

The Cyclical World Of Rusev

 Rusev and Lana
So I’ve been keeping an eye on the Rusev-Lana split for a while now, and to be honest I find it quite amusing. I’ve said for a long time that the Rusev character just doesn’t interest me because we’ve seen it so many times before, and what do they do? Rehash another storyline from 1998. Again it’s been done several times, but 1998 immediately springs to mind because I’ve been watching old Raws  on the WWE Network, and the exact same thing was done with Marc Mero and Sable. Rusev was mistreating Lana, and sending her to the back to get heat, just like Mero did in 98. It was scarily similar until Raw this week, where Lana appeared to align herself with Dolph Ziggler. But don’t be surprised if it ends up being a ruse, and Lana double crosses Ziggler to reunite with Rusev in a month or two.
Ryback is as popular as ever… for some reason
 Ryback
Ryback has confused me for a while now. In the time since he turned face again, he has never done anything particularly impressive, he has never been hugely heroic. But he keeps getting big pops. They tried to humanise him a while back, which to me didn’t work brilliantly and seemed quite awkward. But the fans love him. Even at shows where he doesn’t get the biggest reaction, there are always “Feed Me More” chants when he goes for the meat hook clothesline. It’s obviously a good thing for everyone involved, I’m just a bit mystified as to where his popularity has come from. Nobody really cared about him as a heel, so the turn shouldn’t have been and wasn’t a big deal. He was treated like a big deal heading into Survivor Series last year, with both Cena and The Authority clamouring for him to join their teams, but again since then he’s been an afterthought. It’s all very strange.
Ambrose v Rollins
 Ambrose Rollins
YES. These two have a habit on putting on great matches, and with good reason – they are two of the best performers in the WWE, they have good chemistry, and their backstory is extensive and personal. I love that they’re going back to these two for the WWE Championship match at Elimination Chamber. It should be a great match with a lot of time, with or without a stipulation.
NXT stars vs Cena
 Owens Cena
I believe it was my last article here that spoke about the cyclical world of wrestling, talking about how Cena debuted in an open challenge, and about how it was an easy avenue for NXT stars to make an impact. Have to say, I called it. Since I wrote that article, we have seen Sami Zayn produce a show stealing performance in Canada, and this week Kevin Owens debuted, attacking Cena and setting up a match for Elimination Chamber. The U.S. Title Open Challenge is quickly becoming my favourite segment of Raw, because I can’t wait to see who turns up next. Who’s next to appear? Finn Bàlor, Tyler Breeze, possibly Baron Corbin. The latter is far and away the most unlikely, but you never know.
The Tag division is becoming the best thing on TV
 Cesaro-Kidd
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to say this, but after watching Payback the tag team division is once again right up there with the best thing on TV. There was a while (when you had The Shield, The Rhodes Brothers returning, The Usos and Rowan & Harper) where the tag division was the highlight week in week out, and it’s getting there again. The New Day have become interesting in something that may have been unlikely a few weeks ago, Cesaro & Kidd deliver every time, Sandow and Axel are providing entertainment, The Lucha Dragons are really impressive flying about the ring. And, well, Los Matadores, The Prime Time Players and The Ascension are there. There’s suddenly a depth to the division again, which is always a sign of potential strength.
The future Shield reunion is money
 Shield-Reunion
Arguably the most memorable moment from Payback was the brief Shield reunion. The fact that WWE put those three guys in a position to do it, as well as the crowd’s reaction to it, only serves to confirm reports that came about in the immediate aftermath of the breakup of The Shield. WWE wants to get the three of them together again at some point. They know that it’s money. They know it’s a natural story. And most importantly, they know that the crowd will love it. Maybe it happens soon, maybe it doesn’t. But it is clearly a case of when, not if, and it will be a moment to remember when it does happen.
Bryan injured again
 daniel_bryan_relinquishes_intercontinental_belt
It’s one of the sad stories of 2015. Daniel Bryan is once again injured, and this time we don’t know if he will ever return. He has barely been back for 6 months, and his surrender of the Intercontinental Championship came a year after he was officially stripped of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Fans clamoured for him to win the Royal Rumble in January, and turned on Roman Reigns when Bryan was eliminated early on. Bryan then went on to win the IC belt at Wrestlemania, but it wasn’t long before he was down and out again. I love Bryan’s work, but unfortunately I have to say he kind of proves the doubters right. There were reports that people behind the scenes thought he was too injury prone, and couldn’t hold up to being the top dog. With the way things have turned out, you have to say WWE made the right decision not to put him right back at the top on his return, much as I hate to say it.
King Barrett
King Barrett
Wade Barrett AKA Bad News Barrett now has another moniker to add to his collection: King Barrett. He’s a good fit for King Of The Ring – he’s a cocky heel who can really play up being king, plus there’s the link to the actual British Monarchy. More to the point though, it’s a sign that there is still a lot of belief in Barrett. Twice before you would have said he was the favourite to win a Money In The Bank briefcase, but he got injured at the worst possible times. I have said for a while that this guy can be a world champion – as have many others – and now, even having lost the Intercontinental Championship, he definitely seems to be on a path back to the top.
Money In The Bank
money-in-the-bank
Looking ahead a bit, the next non-Network exclusive PPV is Money In The Bank. I have written a lot in previous years about how Money In The Bank is my favourite time of year, and as always I will have an article up rating each competitor’s chances in the match. I read an opinion somewhere that MITB had replaced Survivor Series as the 4th biggest PPV on the calendar, and I think that’s fair. It’s usually one of the best events of the year, and there is now far more excitement over the briefcase than Survivor Series. There will be huge expectations of the winner, as we all know how Seth Rollins turned out. Who’s my pick? Not a clue. I have a few possibilities in mind, but they are all dependent on other things that could change between now and then. If I had to guess at this stage, my very early pick would be Roman Reigns.
I’ll leave it there. One last thing though: The Stone Cold Podcast on the WWE Network on June 1st will be a must see/listen – because the guest is Paul Heyman. I’ve listened to Heyman on a few other podcasts before (including Austin), and the man is the best example of genius I can think of. Even if you don’t subscribe, go out of your way to find this show, it will be worth it 100%.

Wrestlemania 31 Predictions

It’s finally here. The biggest show of the year, the night that tends to have the best crowd, the biggest happenings and often career defining moments. It’s time, for Wrestlemania 31.

I am crazily excited about this one, because as you will see in just a bit, a lot of the matches are quite difficult to call. That level of doubt makes for a more exciting match I find, and it will be easier to get sucked into the drama of it all. But the focus of Wrestlemania isn’t how excited we are, it’s about the show itself, so let’s get right into the predictions! Continue reading Wrestlemania 31 Predictions