Fantasy Booking Series: The round-up

It beat me guys. It got away from me. I started this fantasy booking series thinking it would be a great idea, I could update it as I go and put something great together. I had all the main points planned out, and I thought I had a Wrestlemania card that had something for everyone.

But now I’m coming up for six months behind real time, and I don’t think it’s salvageable.  I hadn’t taken into account Crown Jewel, which hadn’t been announced at the time. Plus I made the decision at the start to ignore stuff like injuries, but take stuff like releases and signings into account. Then I watched as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Rowan of the Bludgeon Brothers and probably more got injured. I saw Big Cass get released and Rey Mysterio come back. Then the kicker came – the announcement of Roman Reigns’ leukaemia. I had him as my top guy in the company, the dominating heel world champion for pretty much all year through to Wrestlemania. I don’t feel like I can go back to that now. Continue reading Fantasy Booking Series: The round-up

TV Talking Points – 27th-31st January

It’s been a bumper week of on-screen happenings in WWE because of Royal Rumble weekend, so let’s just get straight into the most newsworthy moments of the last week!

NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia

Gargano and Almas tear the house down

I previewed this match last week, and I closed that article by saying this: “Gargano and Almas have already proven they can put on a match that can hang with anything NXT has to offer. Now they just have to do it one more time.” And boy did they. It was a 31 minute spectacular that had the crowd on the edge of their seat. The match received rave reviews, even reaching 5 stars on Dave Melter’s hallowed rating scale – the first match under the WWE umbrella to do so since CM Punk vs John Cena at Money In The Bank 2011. This is already a frontrunner to be WWE’s Match of the Year, if you haven’t seen it, find a way to watch it. It will be well worth your time.

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Royal Rumble

A night of Japanese dominance

There were two Japanese superstars competing on the show, both in Royal Rumble matches, and both would go on to win. If you’re reading this, I’m sure it’s no surprise to read that Shinsuke Nakamura became the first debutant to win the men’s Royal Rumble since 2011, and Asuka continued her successful run to win the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match. Nakamura went on to announce he plans to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania, meaning we’ll finally get to see those two square off in a WWE ring on the biggest show of the year.

 

Things are about to get… Rowdy

We didn’t however find out who Asuka would be facing at Wrestlemania, and that was because we were treated to the shocking arrival of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey! The former UFC Bantamweight Champion had been rumoured to be debuting on the show for weeks, and despite trying to throw everyone off the scent it happened. It was later announced Rousey has signed a multi-year, full-time deal to become a professional wrestler.

 

Raw

History in the making… again

Hot off the heels of the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match, just 24-hours later Stephanie McMahon opened Raw by coming down to the ring and announcing another first – a women’s Elimination Chamber match. It will go down on the 25th February, and Alexa Bliss’ Raw Women’s Championship will be defended inside the steel structure. No other competitors have yet been confirmed, but it’s without doubt another notch in WWE’s belt of equality.

 

Braun Strowman commits murder for the 1008th time

I mean seriously, how great is it to see Braun genuinely trying to end lives every week? This time round it came during the shortest Last Man Standing match I can remember, as Strowman and Kane battled over to the announce desk beside the stage, and Strowman toppled the staging over, crushing Kane under the whole thing. It looks like this may have written Kane off of TV for the forseeable future, and if it was the end of the feud it absolutely did it’s job of putting Strowman over huge.

 

The 2018 Hall of Fame gets extreme

A couple of weeks ago Goldberg was announced as the headline name for the Hall of Fame Class of 2018, and this week it was announced he will be joined by the legendary Dudley Boyz! Bubba Ray and D-Von are one of the most decorated tag teams in wrestling history, and are 9-time WWE Tag Team Champions. Bubba is currently in Ring of Honor, while D-Von retired after their last WWE run and now works backstage for WWE. Their induction is well deserved by anyone’s standards.

 

SmackDown

The tag team division gets put on lockdown

So there was a lot of great wrestling over the last five days, with Raw and SmackDown unusually both being wrestling heavy shows. Maybe that’s why this stood out to me, but I was really impressed by the promo The Usos cut this past Tuesday. They have managed to nail their characters’ presentations since making a big change about a year ago, and this was evidence of that. In WWE’s world where mostly everything on the mic is scripted and sounds fairly robotic, The Usos have become something that stands out. Huge credit has to go to them for reinventing themselves so well, and making themselves the unmovable face of the SmackDown tag division.

 

NXT

A new number one contender

TakeOver set the tone for the week with a high standard of in-ring work, and last night they provided an equally impressive bookend to it all. The pairing of Tyler Bate and Roderick Strong is intriguing on paper alone, but the two delivered yet another great match last night on NXT. Their styles meshed well, and the win means Roderick Strong has earned himself a shot at Pete Dunne’s WWE United Kingdom Championship, which after watching this match is difficult not to get extremely excited for.

 

And there we have it! As I mentioned above, there has been a lot of really good in-ring work this week, including John Cena vs Finn Balor, Sasha Banks vs Asuka, a fatal-4-way match between Kofi Kingston, Rusev, Jinder Mahal and Zack Ryder and a tag team match between AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura and Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. They are all worth looking up, but I tried to pick out the moments that stood out – even amongst all that great action. But now, for me after five straight days of high quality WWE, it’s time for a little break.

Royal Rumble Statistics – 2018 Update

In each of the last three years, for some reason I’ve tasked myself with watching every single Royal Rumble match in the build up to the next one. And in the process, I’ve kept track of some statistics that have interested me. WWE always come up with their annual Royal Rumble statistical packages at this time of year, and last year I put together an article to include some stats that aren’t included in them. Now I’ve updated it, because obviously there’s been one more Rumble match since then, and the stats change every year! So, without further ado!

Last year Randy Orton stopped a run of three Royal Rumble winners walking out of Wrestlemania without a world championship, though in 2016 Triple H won the WWE Championship in the Rumble match itself. The Rumble winner has only been guaranteed a title match at Wrestlemania since 1993 (in 1992 Ric Flair won the WWE Title in the match, in 1991 Hulk Hogan went on to challenge for the title after winning the Rumble match but it wasn’t a stipulation of the match, and in 1990 the WWE Champion Hulk Hogan actually entered the Rumble and won), and the winners’ record is fairly even. Challenging for either the WWE or World Heavyweight Championships, the Rumble winner has won 14 times at Wrestlemania, compared to 9 losses.

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The first man to earn a world title shot by winning the Rumble was Yokozuna in 1993, and he made the most of it by winning the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania

Continue reading Royal Rumble Statistics – 2018 Update

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

2017 Spotlight: October – December

Wrestling is an incredibly dynamic industry where everything can change in a matter of days – if not hours – and 2017 has really typified that in WWE. From wholesale roster changes, to walk outs and injuries, you can never predict what’s going to happen next, not that I won’t keep trying. As the year draws to a close, what better opportunity than to look back and reflect on the memorable moments WWE gave us in 2017?

This is the final part of my 2017 Spotlights, you can find the first three below:

January – March

April – May

June – September

October

2nd-16th October – Sierra. Hotel. India. Echo. Lima. Delta.

The reunion of Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose naturally invoked memories of The Shield, and got the fans wondering if the third piece of the puzzle would come together. As it turned out, three and a half years after Rollins slammed a chair into Roman Reigns’ back, The Shield returned as a united force. Battling against their common enemies of The Miz, The Bar and Braun Strowman, it was fantastic to see the ever-popular trio working together once again.

Continue reading 2017 Spotlight: October – December

2017 Spotlight: January-March

Wrestling is an incredibly dynamic industry where everything can change in a matter of days – if not hours – and 2017 has really typified that in WWE. From wholesale roster changes, to walk outs and injuries, you can never predict what’s going to happen next, not that I won’t keep trying. As the year draws to a close, what better opportunity than to look back and reflect on the memorable moments WWE gave us in 2017?

January

9th January – Chris Jericho defeats Roman Reigns for the United States Championship

What’s that? A year ago Roman Reigns was holding a mid-card championship that was essentially filling time until something bigger was in store for him come Wrestlemania season? Sounds familiar somehow. What might be more difficult to remember is that the best friend pairing of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho was in full flow as one of the regular highlights of Raw. While this match in itself wasn’t entirely memorable in amongst seemingly hundreds of matches between Reigns, Jericho and Owens, Y2J’s championship win made him a WWE Grand Slam champion, so if only for the history books it’s definitely worth noting.

Continue reading 2017 Spotlight: January-March

Breaking Down the Rumble

I wasn’t writing for this blog in January but if I was, the main talking point would obviously have been this year’s Royal Rumble. For the first time since 1992, the WWE Championship was on the line in the Royal Rumble match itself, and it was the first time ever a champion had to defend his title in the match. While that stipulation itself didn’t overly excite me (I was adamant in the build-up it was a way to put Reigns over even more), I have to say it was booked to near perfection. Continue reading Breaking Down the Rumble

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.

The Royal Rumble Effect

What is it about this time of year? What is it about the Road to Wrestlemania that keeps getting people excited?

I don’t think anyone could class WWE TV over December and early January as definitively exciting, entertaining, or appealing. There has been far too much filler, too many unnecessarily boring storylines, and really nothing to hook the viewer in.

Yet I’m excited.

The same thing happened to me around Wrestlemania last year. I really didn’t care about most of the build, but when it came to be Wrestlemania week I couldn’t wait. Now, I’m even at the point of missing shows altogether – and from reading recaps I really haven’t missed anything. But suddenly I just can’t wait for the Royal Rumble this Sunday.

Part of it might be down to the UK finally getting the WWE Network. I’m watching old Rumbles and getting excited at the big pops for surprise entrants. I’m watching classic matches and remembering why I became obsessed with WWE in the first place.

And there’s always the feeling that things can only get better. We are about to get a reset of sorts of key feuds, and there may be a couple of golden ones that surprise us. Daniel Bryan is back in action. And let’s face it, there’s just too much talent in the company for everything to stay boring for too long. It’s easy to forget just how much talent is there. Here’s a list: you have Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler Cesaro, Damien Mizdow, Bad News Barrett, the Usos, the Dust Brothers, Tyson Kidd, Luke Harper and Bray Wyatt all on the main roster, with Sami Zayn, Adrian Neville, Kevin Owens, Finn Bálor and Hideo Itami in NXT. Solomon Crowe hasn’t even made his NXT TV debut yet!

So I guess my point, even though I’ve been saying it for years, is that things can surely only get better. We are entering the most exciting time of the year for wrestling, with one of the best rosters WWE have ever had. I feel like there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, and so once again even with Raw not being particularly exciting, I will be watching the Royal Rumble with baited breath to see what will happen.

January 2014 News: Month in Review

So this is the first of what will hopefully become a regular feature here. I am going to round up the biggest news stories/moments of the month, and put them all into a list. It will let me cover stories that I wouldn’t otherwise get round to covering, and it may be something to look back on with a bit of nostalgia. I’m going to post this on either the last day of the month, or the first day of the next, so that’s more regular content from the off!

I’ve split things up into three categories: Inside The Ring, Outside The Ring, and In The Industry. The first is what we see on WWE TV, the second covers behind the scenes in the WWE, and the last is anything outside of the WWE basically, in the wrestling industry. This will probably be quite a long article, so let’s get to it!

Continue reading January 2014 News: Month in Review