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
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
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
The Money in the Bank briefcase has launched the careers of many a WWE superstar over the years into the stratosphere. It bridged the gap between upper mid-carder and main eventer, and led to greats like Edge, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan winning their first World Championships in WWE. Not every briefcase holder has been a success (Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow), and even two little known wrestlers called Randy Orton and John Cena have won Money in the Bank matches, but since they’re little more than footnotes in history we’ll move on quickly from them. Regardless of the blemishes on the record though, holding the MitB briefcase is a sign that WWE higher ups have faith in you to deliver big as and when required. Tonight, we find out who the latest man to write their name in the history books will be.
This will be the same format as the preview of the women’s match I posted earlier, where I look at how to make each individual the star of the match, and then assess their chances of winning and being able to call themselves Mr Money in the Bank for the foreseeable future. Without further adieu… Continue reading
As we head into Wrestlemania, all eyes are on the ultimate thrill ride, and rightfully so. It’s not WWE’s pinnacle for no reason. But, as ever with WWE storylines, a big part of the excitement around Mania is the possibility for what will come next. So I’ve put my fantasy booking hat on (I mean come on, I don’t really ever take it off) and come up with eight rivalries I want to see on SmackDown coming out of Wrestlemania season. In case you’re wondering, I’m only doing SmackDown because I’m too uncertain about who will be in what spots and roles on Raw, and I’m doing eight feuds because there are eight segments in a typical SmackDown broadcast. And the roster isn’t really big enough for more. Got that? Let’s go!
WWE Championship – Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt ©
It’s been 8 long months, so first let me explain the absence. The workload for me at university got stupidly high, and I wasn’t coping with that as it was, never mind attempting to blog on top of that. But there was also the issue that for a long time WWE just wasn’t that exciting last year. There were too many people being featured prominently that I just didn’t care about, and the potential matchups didn’t interest me at all.
So what changed? Why am I back now?
In terms of WWE, I can pretty much narrow it down to three names. AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Shane McMahon.
When rumours started swirling about the New Japan four making the jump to WWE, that was massive. There was the potential for so many dream matches that just a couple of years earlier had seemed impossible when WWE apparently offered Styles a lowball deal. And handily, I really didn’t expect him to enter the Royal Rumble as early as he did. I was waiting for some unfamiliar music to hit, but I didn’t think it would happen that quickly.
I was excited for the Rumble, but in all honesty mainly for AJ. The title picture still didn’t appeal to me. So massively though I reacted when AJ made his entrance, I still wouldn’t have said I was back in super-fandom mode. Then we had the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy Of Excellence Award presentation.
I. Went. Mental. I was jumping around the room, because for years I have been amongst a group of wrestling fans who were calling for Shane McMahon’s return to the WWE. But it really wasn’t something I expected to happen anytime soon, and certainly not as a surprise return like it was. It really reinforced the idea that anything can happen on Raw, and it made for a great moment that I’ll never forget.
So when it came to Wrestlemania weekend, I was very excited. The title picture still didn’t excite me, but the rest of the card looked good, and you could now throw Sami Zayn into the main roster mix. But he still had to say goodbye to NXT, which would come in the form of what was my match of the year so far against Nakamura.
It was the perfect way for Zayn to bid farewell to the yellow brand, and the perfect introduction to show fans who hadn’t seen Nakamura before what he was capable of. I have never heard a “wrestle forever” chant or anything of the like in my life before. It was a showcase of pure wrestling, and proved how great it can be.
Outside of WWE though, I got a reminder of what I loved about wrestling when I went to my first ever live event. The same night as Zayn vs Nakamura, I went to a World Wide Wrestling League (W3L) show which was so much fun. While it was a tad cartoonish, and obviously the level of competition was nowhere near that of WWE’s competitors, it was extremely entertaining. Seeing wrestling at that level, and seeing similarities between what the performers on that show were doing and what I was watching every week on Raw was really heartening.
But on a personal level, I suppose part of the reason I’m back is because I have a newfound appreciation for the art. When I was uber-stressed with university work, or when I was having a bad day, I turned to wrestling. I happily watched five or six hours of wrestling a day because it allowed me to forget about what was getting me down in everyday life, if only briefly.
Even if I was in a really bad mood and didn’t really want to talk to anyone, I would talk about wrestling if someone asked. It was my escape. It was a release. That to me is what wrestling should be, and I think I appreciate that far more than I used to.
So I’m back. And I’m the most excited I’ve been about WWE for a long time. This is the best roster they’ve ever had in my opinion, and Raw has generally been really good since Wrestlemania. I think there are bright things ahead, and I’m going along for the ride.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a new piece about possible outcomes of the AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns match at Payback, so keep an eye out for that. I’ll be talking about the Bullet Club and heel turns, so it should be a good one!