Samoa Joe

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.

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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.

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2017 Spotlight: June – September

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 third part of my 2017 recap, find the links to the previous two parts below:

January – March

April – May

June

Extreme Rules – Fatal-5-Way

The thing about multi-matches is they can be so chaotic that there isn’t a cohesive story to the match. But at the same time, put enough talent in there, and it can be all action and constant entertainment. The latter scenario certainly applied to the Extreme Rules main event between Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe in a match to decide Brock Lesnar’s next challenger. With five of the top guys on the brand in one match there were always going to be fireworks, and use of chairs, stairs, a broken barricade and a broken announce table delivered in that regard. In the end, it was Samoa Joe who came away with the win, as he turned his attention to the Beast Incarnate.

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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.

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Survivor Series 2017 Spotlight: Men’s Raw vs SmackDown Elimination Match

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.

Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles

I don’t care these guys are both 40, I haven’t been this excited for a WWE match in a long time!

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Fantasy Booking The Raw Men’s Division – Epilogue

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…

Braun Strowman

braun-strowman-6

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

Fantasy Booking The Raw Men’s Division – Part 3

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

Fantasy Booking The Raw Men’s Division – Part 2

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

Fantasy Booking the Raw Men’s Division – Part 1

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

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

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