NXT

NXT TakeOver Brooklyn III Spotlight: Ember Moon vs Asuka

I thought it was about time I added an element to these Spotlight previews. Having done Raw and SmackDown PPVs, as well as the dual-branded shows, a look at NXT’s storylines was probably well overdue. I’ve decided to go for a match I think could have imminent main roster implications too – the NXT Women’s Championship match between Ember Moon and Asuka.

This is a story that essentially goes back to Ember Moon’s debut in NXT, which just happened to be one year ago at TakeOver: Brooklyn II. Moon defeated Bille Kay, and embarked upon a lengthy undefeated streak on the yellow brand. It was an impressive outing for Moon, highlighted by her Eclipse finisher, a beautiful diving corkscrew stunner when executed properly.

Elsewhere on the show Asuka – on a 10-month undefeated streak herself – defended her championship against Bayley in the hugger’s final NXT match. That Bayley was heading to the main roster was highly expected, so naturally speculation began as to who eventually would defeat and dethrone the Empress of Tomorrow, and Ember Moon’s display made her the obvious choice. Continue reading

Advertisements

Wrestlemania 33 Spotlight: Seth Rollins vs Triple H

It’s finally here! It’s the day of Wrestlemania 33. It’s been a long build up, in more ways than one. We’ve been on the road to Wrestlemania for all intents and purposed for the last three months. We’ve been hearing constant plugs for Mania several times a week on each Raw and SmackDown. But it’s been a long build up for some matches too, as I’ve already written about some matches that’s roots can be traced back to SummerSlam, a whole seven months ago.

But there’s one match where the history, across several tracks, goes back years. And that’s the match I’m rounding off this preview series on. It may be unsanctioned, but that just means there are boundless opportunities here. It is, of course, Seth Rollins vs Triple H.

Trips Rollins

Serious Trips. Mean Trips. Grrrrrrrrr. #HeelBeard

Continue reading

10 NXT Graduates Who Flopped On The Main Roster

The path from NXT to the WWE main roster is littered with success stories. In the last two Wrestlemanias, including the preshows, 16 out of 21 matches have featured NXT graduates. The obvious highlights are of course the men who have been able to call themselves world – or universal – champion: Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Finn Balor and Kevin Owens. But, it is not always an easy road to the top of the WWE, and some have fallen by the wayside along the way. Sometimes they just weren’t ready to get the call up, sometimes the fans didn’t take to them, sometimes creative didn’t have the right plans in place for them. Some superstars thrive on the slow burn that NXT allows them to have, improving and connecting with the crowd slowly but surely, to the point someone can be on fire at the right time, with the right opponent – but they don’t get that chance on Raw or Smackdown. It’s a different set of rules, more demanding than ever before, more challenging, and of course they have to win over Vince McMahon working from the very bottom again. Here I take a look at ten NXT graduates who haven’t quite hit it off on the main roster. Continue reading

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%.

We’re Now On Radio!

Who remembers the Black Pleb Watchers of Wrestling YouTube shows? Of course you do! As you may have noticed, we haven’t done one of those for a while. But now, we’ve found a way of doing those shows on a more regular basis! Myself and Jamie (The Black Watcher) are now doing a weekly wrestling radio show, which you can hear over at http://www.mixcloud.com/arh96. The shows will be titled BPWOW Presents:… So get listening! I’ve posted a link to the debut edition below for your listening pleasure.

Thoughts of a Pleb: So Much News!

Over the last week there have been quite a few big news stories in the wrestling world. They have created a big buzz among the online wrestling fanbase, and for good reason. They are all things that are significant in the WWE looking forward to Wrestlemania or beyond, and lo and behold on a wrestling blog, I have some thoughts about them.

Continue reading