Shinsuke Nakamura

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.

Almas Gargano Philly.jpg

 

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.

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TV Talking Points – 22nd-24th January

Despite once again arguably the biggest WWE story this week happening off-screen (bye Enzo!), this week saw Raw25 take place, as well as the final build-up to NXT’s TakeOver: Philadelphia and, of course, the Royal Rumble on Sunday. So what went down? I’ve collated the main happenings from the week, and put them all together in one, easy to manage round-up.

Raw

A New Intercontinental Champion? Awesome…

We knew going in to Raw25 that Roman Reigns would be defending the Intercontinental Championship, and really if you’ve been reading online reports at any time in the last 10 months you probably had a fair idea that Roman Reigns would be losing the title on Monday night. And he did. And it was relatively clean too! Sure Miz used an exposed turnbuckle, which was brilliantly set up so subtly earlier in the match, but the Miztourage never got involved. Though, perhaps more accurately, they were never allowed to, as Reigns always struck first. Still, it will be interesting to see if there is a rematch, and how clean the finish will be should it turn out that way. If not, the awesome reign of the most must see champion in WWE history looks like it might be here to stay.

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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: April – May

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 second part of this look back at 2017, read the first here: January – March

April

NXT TakeOver: Orlando – The Authors of Pain eliminate the competition

2017 has seen a real resurgence of a tag team division in NXT. American Alpha, The Revival and DIY had been having great feature matches, but there was no real depth to the divisions. There is now. And on Wrestlemania weekend, once again the tag team stars shone bright. The Authors of Pain, The Revival and DIY put on one hell of a match that went for 20 minutes before the first elimination. They told a wonderful story of DIY and The Revival, bitter rivals in 2016, needing to team up to take out the defending champions. This may have been WWE’s match of the weekend, which was no mean feat.

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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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WWE Hell In A Cell 2017 Spotlight: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Jinder Mahal

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

Fantasy Booking The SmackDown Men’s Division – Part 2

Here we pick up my fantasy booking of the SmackDown men’s division through to Wrestlemania 34. Read part 1 here for the stories so far and the general ground rules underpinning this whole thing, but here’s a brief summary of where we got to:

  • Shinsuke Nakamura is WWE Champion, with Baron Corbin owed a rematch
  • Kevin Owens is United States Champion, with AJ Styles never getting a US Title match against him again
  • Randy Orton has had a poor six months, with questions over whether he can still win a big match, and will address his future on the next SmackDown
  • Team SmackDown just lost the Raw vs SD 5on-5 elimination match at Survivor Series

And so we pick up two nights after Survivor Series. Strap in, it’s a long ride!

November 21st, SmackDown

Results: Baron Corbin defeats Sin Cara by pinfall, Sami Zayn & Tye Dillinger defeat Jinder Mahal & Rusev by pinfall (Dillinger pins Rusev), AJ Styles defeats Mike Kanellis by pinfall

Promos: – Post-victory, Baron Corbin demands his WWE Title rematch. (Danel Bryan later grants this for the next PPV, Roadblock.)

– Backstage post-victory, AJ Styles says in an interview that the reason Team SmackDown lost at Survivor Series was Baron Corbin. Styles challenges Corbin to a match next week on SmackDown, saying Corbin isn’t the only one who want to be WWE Champion.

– Randy Orton makes his way to the ring for the main event segment. Orton says he knows he let people down at Survivor Series. It was embarrasing, and it was one of the lower points of his career. 2017 started out so well, but it’s turned into a trainwreck. He’s starting to wonder if he’s still cut out to be a player on SmackDown. Continue reading

Fantasy Booking The SmackDown Men’s Division – Part 1

I’m quite often coming up with booking ideas in my columns – x can work with y, z should turn face/heel. But it’s easy to be an armchair booker like that without giving much thought to the details of the feud, and how it impacts the rest of the roster. So with a couple of ideas in mind, I set myself the challenge of booking SmackDown’s men’s division from now through to Wrestlemania 34 – detailing each week what I would actually do, how I would have storylines progress, giving an idea as to what would be said in promos, that kind of thing. I’m going to set it out by giving the night’s match results plainly, explaining what would be said in promos, then giving further storyline context or justification if I feel it’s warranted. Continue reading