Mitch Nickelson’s WWE Raw Preview 5/15/16

Serving as the go-home show for next weekend’s Payback event, Monday Night Raw hails from Greensboro, North Carolina this week. That’s Ric Flair country, so expect plenty of Wooo’s whether or not he’s there.

Going off of WWE.com‘s official preview, I’ve taken their  bullet points (the bolded stuff) and added my thoughts on each of these issues. Let’s get to it…

It’s Club-ering Time

Get it? The pun is that they’re calling themselves The Club. GET IT?

Despite WWE’s inability to give these guys a name that comes across even a quarter as cool as Bullet Club, this Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles feud has been absolute money. Last week, the two had an awesome exchange over a chair that wasn’t even used that had the crowd going bananas. Since this is the final Raw before their WWE Heavyweight Championship Match at Extreme Rules, I think AJ Styles will get the upper hand in whatever exchange these guys have. Roman will almost certainly retain his title on Sunday so his opponent needs to look strong prior to their match.

The only reservations that I have toward their interactions is the fact that AJ suffered some injuries since last week’s Raw. WWE and Styles are acting like any setbacks are only temporary but that is an issue to be mindful of.

As far as The Usos and Anderson & Gallows are concerned, I think there will be a setup for a tag team match between these guys. There isn’t anything official set up for Extreme Rules at this point and it would be odd if this match doesn’t happen. Maybe this one will be a Tables Match. It could go on without a stipulation but I think it would be better if they attach one to it.

New Day Rocked

The Vaudevillains became the Number One Contender by default when their tournament final match at Payback was stopped due to an Enzo Amore injury. Since then, they’ve come across as way more of a formidable opponent to the WWE Tag Team Champions New Day. Seriously, their big vocabularies and annoyance for childish antics have made them perfect foils for New Day.

I’m not sure if it’s time for New Day to drop their belts or not so I won’t guess who might get any advantages on Raw. As long as both teams get plenty of mic time then I’m happy with all of this.

The ‘EnD’ Is Here

Wait, wait, wait….the team name for Emma and Dana Brooke spells “End?” I literally just figured that out while putting together this preview article. That should make a good t-shirt that I’ll consider purchasing. Dana Brooke is perhaps the best female talker in WWE so I’m more than ecstatic that she rejoined Emma on the main roster. Besides, there are WAY too many heads that need patting right now.

Emma is in need of a tag team partner to even the odds a little and it just so happens that Sasha Banks isn’t doing anything right now. There are a bunch of other women not doing anything that could also join her but Sasha would be the best.

Lights Out

Chris Jericho destroyed Dean Ambrose’s potted plant Mitch. Dean Ambrose ripped Chris Jericho’s obscenely expensive light up jacket to shreds. There was also a straitjacket and some Colin Cassady action mixed in with all of this. Jericho and Ambrose seem to be heading towards a Straitjacket Match at Extreme Rules but the Big Cass factor might change that up somewhat.

Every time these guys cross paths some sort of property damage occurs. My guess for Raw is that whatever gets vandalized and destroyed this time around will valued at a minimum of $25,000.

Caribbean Cool

Oh crap, I forgot that these guys are going to be debuting. I try not to be too negative so I guess I’ll hold out judgement until they actually do something in the ring. It’s a re-re-re-debut and unless these guys are actual travel agents trying to get people to vacation in Puerto Rico then those video packages truly were worthless.

Plugs

Check out my exclusive articles to WhatCulture.com. I’m the weekly Most Insane Spots guy over there, so there’s tons of fun visuals.

Follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson. Thanks for reading.

5 Best WWE SmackDown Moments 5/12/16: Welcome To The Club

After a Raw that saw an obscenely expensive jacket get ripped to shreds by a man who has no business carrying a pair of scissors, SmackDown has arrived. While there wasn’t any further jacket destruction, Chris Jericho did introduce a new jacket that will likely play into a Pay-Per-View stipulation. That moment was one of the best of the night.

Moments that didn’t make the cut but were still notable included Big E getting scolded for repeated attempts at using risque speech, Lana throwing water into Kalisto’s face, and Bob Backlund being a crazy old guy who made Darren Young do 200 squats for using his phone to check the time. Old people are confused and senile and it’s hilarious!

This isn’t a comprehensive review of SmackDown but rather my thoughts on what the best moments of the night were. Assume this list is definitive and authoritative…or disagree. You have a right to your opinion.

5. The Golden Truth Sort Of Finally Forms

Is Breezedango an okay name for Tyler Breeze and Fandango? Or maybe we’ll call them The Beautiful Dance? How about Selfie Sticks and Hip Gyrations?  I’m not sure if Breeze and Fandango have officially formed a tag team together but they did join forces after they got fed up with the nonsense of the two guys that were their partners going into this match.

When R-Truth and Goldust found themselves to be the legal men on opposite sides of the ring, they refused to fight each other. They DO love each other! It was a beautiful moment in which the crowd briefly started a “Golden Truth” chant. The chants may have been piped in, but if that’s the case then please don’t message me or comment about it to set me straight. I want to live in a world that for at least a moment was happy that Truth and Goldust were finally coming together.

The moment didn’t last forever because as I already stated in the Breezedango paragraph above, they were attacked by their respective teammates. There will likely be a tag team match to settle the score and kick off The Golden Truth’s run in the near future. I’m hoping that The Forbidden Dance (nailed it!) will at least get an Extreme Rules pre-show match out of this. (Feel free to comment below with your own catchy tag team name suggestions for Tyler Breeze and Fandango below – even though it’d hard to top The Forbidden Dance.)

4. Playtime Is Over

Dana Brooke had her debut match on the main roster against Becky Lynch on SmackDown. It was notable because she scored a win over the superstar who competed for the Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 32, but that’s not the moment I’m choosing to highlight. It was Dana’s promo prior to this big win that impressed me the most.

When interviewed alongside her pal Emma, Brooke explained why she chose to attack Becky from behind on Monday night. She talked about how Emma was at the forefront of the Women’s Division in NXT, but when Lynch came along, people focused on her instead. As she explained her actions while flexing her biceps (she is a bodybuilder, by the way), she seemed like an absolute natural on the microphone.

Brooke was always a standout talker in NXT. She’s proclaimed herself to be THE Total Diva in the past and has smugly patted those she disliked on the head. Watching this interview on SmackDown, it became clear to me that she might be the most talented female talker that WWE has. She’s so comfortable with her character, and it’s enjoyable to watch. She’s a natural.

3. Two Codebreakers In A Straitjacket

Are Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho building towards a straitjacket match at Extreme Rules? Judging by the opening of SmackDown, that seems to be the case. Some sort of unique stipulation should be expected but I can’t remember the last time I’ve watched that kind of match so why not?

Ambrose was in the middle of the ring, talking about his beef with Y2J when the arena went dark. Jericho’s music hit, yet nothing could be seen. It seemed like the prolonged pitch black was due to Chris’ fancy light up jacket getting destroyed on Raw, but he deviously chose to use the entrance as an opportunity to strike.

Jericho attacked his foe from behind. While Ambrose was loopy, Chris placed him inside of a straitjacket and then beat on him as he came to. Jericho gave him a Codebreaker before a team of refs came out to stop the attack, then gave another in the midst of the black and white stripes. Chris was ruthless as the two march on to a singles match at Extreme Rules.

2. The Club Levels The Usos

The only presence of WWE Champion Roman Reigns and his Extreme Rules challenger AJ Styles was during interview segments with their buddies before this tag team match. Both guys said they’d come out to assist if the either guy shows up, which surprisingly didn’t happen in this contest between Gallows & Anderson and The Usos.

What did happen was a DQ finish that led to a fun brawl on the outside. It felt a little wild and chaotic, something that I haven’t felt like these guys have yet been able to achieve without Roman or AJ involved. It was good that they could do that on their own.

Gallows & Anderson finally prevailed when they brought a steel chair into the mix. As both Jey and Jimmy were lying unconscious on the ground, Anderson sat on the chair while Gallows stood tall behind him. They both threw up their Too Sweet hand gestures in celebration.

1. The Miz Stands Tall

Next to the AJ Styles vs. Roman Reigns feud, WWE’s current Intercontinental Championship division is the best thing going. Champion The Miz has Kevin Owens, Cesaro, and Sami Zayn all vying for his belt and that’s a heck of a short list of challengers. On this night, a tag team match main evented with the guys split along heel/face lines.

Owens was the man to score the winning pinfall against Cesaro after he hit him with a Frog Splash, and that’s when the really fun stuff happened.The guys traded blows and specialty moves until Kevin was able to Popup Powerbomb Sami Zayn. The Miz, sneaky as he is, immediately came up behind Owens and dropped him with his Skull Crushing Finale.

The Miz standing tall among his three fallen challengers is how the show went off the air, a visual that made me particularly happy. I love The Miz. This is such a great mix of wrestlers and this SmackDown main event continued to add fuel to everybody’s fire.

Plugs

Thanks for reading my thoughts on SmackDown. If you like this style of review then go back and also read my 5 Best Moments From Raw 5/9/16: Ric Flair Is A Velociraptor. Also, follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson. Thanks for reading.

5 Best Raw Moments 5/9/16: Ric Flair Is A Velociraptor

Hey, I didn’t regret staying up to watch and write about Raw! I always write the intros last and this week I feel like I’ve viewed some entertaining plot developments and matches from WWE’s flagship show. So here’s my attempt to countdown the 5 best moments from it. It’s a positive article and this was a week where being positive wasn’t too hard.

Before starting, I’ll mention Sami Zayn beating The Miz to get into the IC Title multi-man match as an honorable mention from the night. Trying to stick to a theme of only 5 points will occasionally mean that good stuff gets left out and Sami’s win was definitely good stuff. Now on to the list…

5. An Era Not Kind To New Day

Before their match against The Dudleyz, New Day delivered a clever as usual promo for the Nebraska audience. They recited their usual crowd-favorites, tried to figure out the correct pronunciation of The Vaudevillians, and even sang a beautiful booty-o’s themed rendition of a song from Disney’s Aladdin. However, the real jaw dropper was when Xavier woods talked about a bygone that was not too kind to people like them.

Wait, what?

Obviously, they wanted you to think about times of racial strife in America, but what they were really talking about was a pre-smart phone time in this country. Funny swerve, guys. New Day went on to lose their match against The Dudley’s due to distraction interference by The Vaudevillians.

4. Welcome To Raw, Dana Brooke

THE Total Diva, Dana Brooke, joined her NXT buddy Emma on Raw when she blindsided Becky Lynch during an interview segment. Dana Brooke and Emma were last palling around together as they tried to take out Asuka, but failed. That’s okay though, because they both wrestled some pretty awesome matches against the now-NXT Women’s Champion.

They’ve regrouped and reconnected on the main roster, now with Becky Lynch as their target. Becky was laid out by the two devious ladies on this encounter and I’m looking forward to when she eventually gets her revenge. Will the lass recruit a friend of her own to join in the fight? Sasha hasn’t been doing too much since WrestleMania, hint hint.

3. Ambrose Gets Revenge For Mitch (Not Me)

I was expecting Dean Ambrose to get some sort of revenge for the destruction of his favorite ficus last week. What I didn’t expect was a main event attack during Chris Jericho’s entrance along with a light up jacket shred party. Dean ripping the thing to smithereens and Chris pouting about the loss was the final images of the broadcast, so the show ended on a ‘win’ for a babyface.

As an addendum to this point, I also have been liking the shine that Colin Cassady has been getting. He interrupted Jericho in the opening segment and gave him a boot to setup this match. Even though the bell never rang, he still was booked for the main event of Raw and had a role in this final segment. He’s a fresh face with loads of potential who’s getting some opportunity, which is a very good thing.

2. Ric Flair Gets Escorted Away From Ringside

Just like in her upcoming match against Natalya at Extreme Rules, Charlotte’s father was banned from ringside on Raw. He observed his ringside shun like a good boy – that is, until Natalya started sticking her nose into the match between Paige and the WWE Women’s Champion.

Ric nobly came out to keep order outside of the ring, but then Shane McMahon and a team of officials came out to put a stop to The Nature Boy. It was at this point that Ric reconnected with his inner velociraptor, and everyone knew to keep their distance. Come to think of it, Shane was dressed strikingly similar to Chris Pratt in the most recent Jurassic Park movie during this segment. Was the way this played out planned by someone with a dinosaur fetish? I’ll personally Tweet out this theory…

1. Standoff Over A Chair

The chemistry between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns is undeniable. The two have no trouble making an arena eat out of the palm of their hands and Omaha was no different. The final two competitors in their 6-Man elimination match that included The Family and The Club were predictably the two men in the main event of Extreme Rules, and they delivered with the excitement.

The best of the drama happened after the match was over. Roman was inside of the ring and AJ was on the apron, with a chair on the ground between them. Styles was ready for a Phenomenal Forearm but Roman kicked him the chair. Dude’s got cojones.

AJ kicked the chair back and demanded that he pick up the weapon, which will soon be legal in their upcoming Extreme Rules match. Reigns finally did grab the chair as Styles went to the air for a Phenomenal Forearm. Neither connected, but they didn’t need to.

Every showdown between Styles and Reigns – whether someone goes through a table or both guys simply engage in a stare down like tonight – it ends with even more anticipation for their next big match. If WWE wants to drag this feud another month after Extreme Rules, I’m down for it.

Plugs & Stuff

Find me on Twitter @MitchNickelson. Also, make sure to check out a recent highlight article I did that’s loaded with GIFs of Jim Cornette vs. Cowagumba 8/19/93 . Cornette literally fought a match against a dude in a ninja turtle outfit a long time ago and it’s incredible.

Thanks for reading.

Answering WWE’s 5 Point Raw Preview 5/9/16

Omaha, Nebraska is the lucky town to host Raw this week and at this point I’m unaware of any matches announced for the show. Nevertheless, WWE’s got me covered with some of the things I should be expecting in the form of their weekly WWE.com Preview.

I’ve attempted to offer some analysis to WWE’s own questions for the show. You’ll notice that WWE’s questions are in the form of the bolded headings. My opinions are everything else. Let’s get to this…

Will AJ Styles Embrace His Ruthless Side?

Last week’s Raw ended with AJ Styles getting put through an announce table thanks to a Roman Reigns Powerbomb. It was a fun way to close out the show. Considering the two are building towards an “Extreme Rules” match at the upcoming eponymous event, I expect another hardcore interaction between these guys.

I think AJ’s alliances will still be teased as he keeps playing with the emotions of his New Japan buddies. So maybe we don’t get a definitive answer on whether he embraces his ruthless side or not. But if the question was rephrased to include “extreme” in the place of “ruthless,” then yes – I do believe AJ will embrace his extreme side. Maybe Roman will find himself put through an announce table this time around. It is his turn.

Who Deserves To Challenge This Miz?

The three most likely options to this question are Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Kevin Owens. That’s quite an impressive short list of challengers. Shouldn’t Zack Ryder be on that list as well? Poor guy.

My money is going towards Miz defending against all three of those wrestlers at Extreme Rules. I wouldn’t be upset at all if Zayn and Owens did a second PPV singles match in a row, but since there was a clean loss at Payback a multi-man match this time around feels more likely. My official answer to WWE’s question is “all of the above.”

I still have the richest prize in the world…AND my #ICTitle. #WWEPayback @therealmaryseouellet

A photo posted by Mike "The Miz" Mizanin (@mikethemiz) on

As a Miz fan, I hope that he survives this onslaught of challengers. I’m eating up the Hollywood ego-overload between he and Maryse, so keep that coming WWE. I will concede that he might not be the best wrestler in the mix here, but he’s still such a great character. Keep that IC strap on him for a long time.

Where Is Dean Ambrose?

Wait, Dean Ambrose has been missing? Wasn’t he just on Raw last week getting his head hit with a potted plant thanks to Chris Jericho? I guess I don’t recall seeing him on SmackDown, but I wouldn’t automatically think someone was missing simply because they miss Thursday night.

The point of this question is to sell the Mitch the Plant strike by Y2J, which is acceptable. If you bust something off someone else’s head, it should mean a potential injury. Even with WWE teasing that he might not be on the show because apparently nobody has seen Dean since the plant attack, I still expect him to get some sort of revenge on Chris.

With the plant out of commission, Ambrose will have to find another talk show item to whack Jericho with and I don’t think his posterboard sign is going to cut it.

Is Charlotte Running Scared?

Charlotte will be defending her WWE Women’s Championship against Natalya at Extreme Rules in a Submission Match. The reason she might be “running scared” is because her 16-time World Champion of a father is banned at ringside. Ric Flair has gotten involved in his daughter’s favor in the past, so of course Charlotte must be a little scared.

Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks have been on the backburner since WrestleMania, which sucks. Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing a talented in-ring performer like Charlotte getting some spotlight, but can’t Sasha be on TV a little more? She’s probably being saved for a SummerSlam title push but surely she’s got unfinished business with Team B.A.D. or something in the meantime.

Will Rusev Devour Kalisto’s ‘Big Heart’?

Rusev won a Battle Royal to determine the new Number One Contender to the U.S. Championship because he looks close enough like Ryback, I assume. Seriously, does Kalisto only fight big, beefy dudes now? I like Rusev, it’s just there’s a specific formula being presented at the moment.

On SmackDown, Kalisto performed a quick but successful strike against The Bulgarian Brute. They could simply do a repeat similar to that angle or maybe Rusev will get the upper hand this time around. Either way, Rusev’s really only in the picture to lose to Kalisto in the end in hopes that he can get the little guy over.

Plugs From Mitch:

Follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson. Also, here are a few other recent articles from me worth checking out:

Jim Cornette vs. Cowabunga 8/19/93 Highlights (GIFs)
10 Most Insane Wrestling Spots Of The Week (May 8) (More GIFs)

Thanks again for reading.

Jim Cornette vs. Cowabunga 8/19/93 Highlights (GIFs)

Some wrestling finds are exciting. This match sort of can be described as exciting…sort of.

Apparently,  Jim Cornette once booked himself against a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle knockoff in Smokey Mountain Wrestling way back in 1993 – I was certain that this would be one of those exciting finds. I had no expectations of a technical masterpiece or anything but surely it would be at least humorous, right?

Before passing too much judgment, here is the original match in its entirety. Watch it for yourself if you’d like. Don’t worry, I’ve compiled the .gifs and written out my comments ahead of time, so I’m good if you want to watch the whole thing. Otherwise, keep on scrolling down.

Did you watch it all? It’s okay if not because holy crap, the whole thing is 18 minutes long. Sure, that includes entrances and post-match stuff, but it somehow feels way longer than 18 minutes. Maybe it’s all the hard to hear banter for the first few minutes.

The wrestling’s fairly boring but I can acknowledge that I’m looking at it from 2016 standards. For a 1993 match and considering that Jim Cornette is one of the wrestlers (no offense to him, it’s just that he made his career not as a wrestler), it probably wouldn’t have been so bad at the time. I would’ve been 11 if I watched this one live so I’ll be honest and admit that I probably would’ve thought this match was fantastic if I saw it in person.

Here are some of the best moments of this gem from 23 years ago, with my own snarky comments to accompany the visuals. Enjoy…

Jim Cornette vs. Cowabunga (August 19th, 1993)

There were lots of shenanigans in the early goings here. The two competitors kept taunting each other and delaying any physical contact, like when Cowabunga tunneled under the referee’s legs to startle Jim. Sneaky, sneaky.

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Okay, the following one IS NOT PG at all. Cornette had his green opponent in a simple side headlock. No worries so far, right? Well, Cowabunga then used only his thumb to escape from Jim’s clutches, inserting it into a very specific orifice. He probably needed to wash his turtle fingers after the match was over.

thumb20cornette_zpste6pgos9

Cornette did exercise some ring awareness in this matchup, like when he performed this leg sweep to Cowabunga. The turtle took the roughest bump of the match here, landing accordion-style on the mat.

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You’ve got to at least give some props to Cornette here. He was bumping and throwing hip tosses and made an actual effort to put on a somewhat serious wrestling match. Well, serious in the sense that you still have to ignore the fact that Jim’s in a red full body spandex outfit grappling a dude in a lime green turtle costume. Not enough attention is given to Jim’s getup – why the all red?

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He’s hulking up! Cornette, you’ve done messed up!

This is easily the biggest high spot of the contest. Cowabunga walked the ropes while holding Cornette’s arm a la Undertaker’s Old School, then went all luchador on his opponent with a pretty sweet arm drag.

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At this point, Cowabunga took a body slam from Jim and found himself…turtled. Because of course he did. He is a turtle, after all. That shell probably helps absorbs chair shots but it isn’t going to help with his mobility.

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That Jim Cornette, he’s the type of guy who doesn’t shy away from putting over the younger talent. That green guy better have shook Jim’s hand and thanked him for doing the favors. Something tells me we haven’t seen the last of Cowabunga!

turtle20wins_zps3r3mczqb

Final Thoughts

The turtle won. That’s pretty much my conclusion because Jim Cornette wrestling a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle simply is what it is. It’s a strange thing to witness but wrestling’s a subjective artform…or something.

Follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson.

Damien Sandow Is Massively Over, Fired Anyways

Damien Sandow has a unique gift of getting over with any group of people he’s put in front of, regardless of the ridiculous persona he’s portraying at the time. From an uppity aristocrat in a bathrobe to a stunt double who mimics the every action of the inflated ego of a Hollywood-actor, Sandow could win over anybody under any circumstances.

Well, almost anybody.

There has always been one niche market that has failed to connect with Sandow’s persona: his employer. Today, WWE has decided to part ways with the incredibly over wrestler…

The letting go of Sandow coincided with the releases of Wade Barrett, Santino Marella, Hornswoggle, Cameron, Alex Riley, El Torito, and Zeb Colter. WWE issued statements with the expected comment of “WWE wishes them the best in all of their future endeavors.”

Surely Sandow can now be considered the hottest free agent on the market, right? Could Damien be now headed to the likes of New Japan, Lucha Underground, or TNA? Or will this release signal the end of the career of possibly the most underused talent in WWE history?

5 Best SmackDown Moments 5/5/16: Big Cass Stands On His Own

Welcome back to the show that no McMahon is currently fighting for control over. It’s pretty much the wild west on Thursday nights. It shocks me that matches can still happen without people of power discussing them on camera while the show is ongoing, but somehow they do. It’s probably witchcraft.

This isn’t a comprehensive review, just my thoughts on what I believe to be the 5 best moments from the show. Feel free to disagree, it’s a subjective artform or something…

5. Another Miz Opener

Two weeks ago, The Miz kicked off SmackDown with a MizTV segment that included AJ Styles. Last week, The Miz interrupted Roman Reign’s opening promo to tell him that Styles was aligned with Gallows & Anderson. This week, The Miz crashed Sami Zayn’s appearance on Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel to tell him that Sami interfered with his business on Raw earlier this week. All three opening segments resulted in later matches on each show against Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, and Sami Zayn, respectively.

The Miz has been one of the consistent cornerstones of SmackDown over recent history and I for one am more than happy about it. He’s a fantastic heel that has no trouble getting the crowds not only want to boo him but to also cheer for whoever is opposite of him at the time. The Intercontinental Championship as well as his fawning wife are by his side, which are both fitting complements to the “A-Lister.” Plus, his in-ring competition has been pretty stellar. What wrestler wouldn’t want to be facing that caliber of talent week after week?

Please continue the heavy Miz presence on this show, WWE.

4. Make Darren Young Great Again

Again? Doesn’t that imply…never mind, I’m being a jerk.

Young is one of countless guys in the back that hardly ever gets valuable on-screen time, so if this goofy Donald Trump parody segment gets him an opportunity then fine by me. You never know, he might stumble into something that clicks.

What makes this segment one of the better moments of the night is the craziness of Bob Backlund. He’s bringing to the table some Trump-inspired catchphrases, something that Vince is probably literally rolling on the floor laughing over. He also used the phrase “Wrestling is life” with a ferocity that eliminated any doubt that this was not wasted television time.

Was this segment silly? Yes, absolutely. But to be fair, it wasn’t long at all and it gave a guy TV time that’s pretty starved of it alongside a legendary former WWE Champion. I can stand a minute or two here and there for some Bob Backlund delivery of humor that Vince thinks is comedic gold.

3. Rusev’s Forehead

In a match with Zack Ryder, Rusev took a routine hit against the corner post while on the outside. The match kept proceeding like normal because nothing seemed off about the move at first glance. It wasn’t until the two brought the action back into the ring that the damage to the cranium of The Bulgarian Brute became evident…

Well, that probably hurt. Rusev was able to continue on with the match with no ill effects from the head shot, although he did noticeably wipe the goose egg with his hand a few times to check to see if there was any blood.

Lana’s sure got herself a tough man. At least she can revel in the fact that the part of him that resides above the eyebrows is number 3 on this week’s list. Rusev defeated Ryder fairly easily only to be gotten the better of by the U.S. Champion Kalisto post-match.

2. Anderson Facewashes Roman

It started out as a standard two-on-two tag team match between The Usos and Anderson & Gallows but with both Roman Reigns and AJ Styles at ringside you knew that things were going to break down. That moment came when Karl Anderson stuck his boot out of the ring and gave the WWE World Heavyweight Champion a facewash. Roman ran into the ring to retaliate and soon afterward everyone was brawling. Refs spilled out from backstage to try to seperate the factions and after a few moments, order was restored.

The moment that Anderson attacked Reigns with his boot is the part that I specifically wanted to celebrate. The Good Brothers have had a few bland matches in their short time in WWE so far but this week has felt so much better for them. They were using chairs and tempting Styles to attack a helpless Roman on Raw and now they’re booting Roman’s schnoz when he’s caught off guard. They’re lawless. They’re cool.

A six-man tag match was then restarted and it was a very good match from then on – easily the best match of the night. Roman scored the winning pinfall for his team after spearing Anderson, the man who struck first against The Big Dog.

1. Big Cass Stands On His Own

With Enzo Amore temporarily out with injury, the personality powerhouse half of the Enzo & Big Cass act could’ve simply left an unfilled void. But just like on Raw, Colin Cassady was handed mic time all by his lonesome. As far as I can tell, he’s doing just fine on his own.

After The Vaudevillians defeated Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel of The Social Outcasts, the seven footer’s music hit. He came out and told them that they looked like they were Sherlock Holmes characters trying to solve the mystery of who Cass was going to beat up. The answer to that mystery was that both of them would be getting the whooping. He’s got a calm and confident delivery that I’m really buying into.

Before going into the ring and making good on the promise of his promo he delivered his usual “spell it out for you” schtick, something that he’s been saying differently since coming to the main roster. Maybe it’s been longer than that, but since leaving NXT I’ve noticed that Cass doesn’t scream out his usual lines anymore. He says them in more of a normal speaking voice now.

It’s a perfectly fine change, but it has felt a little less energetic as of late…until this episode of SmackDown. Colin is finally nailing how to say the words with intensity without simply screaming them. It’s a subtle thing that I’m probably making way too big of a deal out of, but I was happy to feel like I truly heard the emotion from him like the fire in NXT.

Colin Cassady’s promos are good. Of course I’ll be tickled to death when Enzo finally comes back on screen, but if there were any worries that Colin would flop without his Luke Skywalker Smack-talker of a tag partner, worry no more.

Plugs & Stuff:

Thanks for reading. Here are other recent things you can read from me…

10 Most Insane Spots From WWE Payback

5 Best Raw Moments 5/2/16: Conflicted AJ

Also, follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson.

WWE’s Rebuilding Phase Is Keeping Mark Henry Off-Screen

According to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer, former World Champion and World’s Strongest Man Mark Henry is available to be used on-screen but WWE is electing not to. The company is currently in a “rebuilding phase,” focusing on many of the fresher faces. This is evidenced by the recent prominence of wrestlers like AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn.

This rebuilding has been affecting more than just Henry. Other seasoned veterans such as Kane and Big Show, who have maintained a steady on-screen presence for well more than a decade, are also far less visible these days. Perhaps there’s some truth to all of this “New Era” talk after all.

Henry has made it known that he intends on retiring in the near future. He’s recently been in the public eye thanks to Tweets about his involvement with the Make A Wish Foundation.

Wrestling World Reacts To Bobby Heenan’s Hospitalization

The pro wrestling community has been saddened to hear that wrestling legend Bobby Heenan has been hospitalized over the past day. According to his wife, Cynthia Heenan,”Doctors are going keep Bobby for the next 72 hours because his blood pressure is so low.”

Before Mrs. Heenan shared this news, many of us first found out about Bobby’s state when Mean Gene went to social media…

Many popular wrestling personalities took to social media to offer thoughts and kind words to revered former manager and color commentator…

Get well soon, Bobby.

Ryback Explains His Side Of WWE Drama

Ryback has been notably absent on WWE programming as of late. He’s had two pre-show losses to Kalisto on WWE Pay-Per-Views (WrestleMania 32 and Payback) with no TV presence sandwiched in between. Fans have been getting suspicious of lack of Big Guy on Raw and SmackDown.

Over the past few days, it became known that Ryback (real name Ryan Reeves) and his company have been at odds over new terms for his soon-expiring contract. Before last night’s Raw, the rumor mills were abuzz about him either leaving WWE or being sent him. Today, Ryback took to his Tumblr blog to share his side of the story.

The initial speculation was that Reeves was unhappy about the money being offered but there seems to be much more to this stalemate than originally thought. Here are his statements in their entirety..

Today I sit and fly home and for the first time in years feel absolutely free. I will start by saying I did request to be taken off of WWE television until myself and Vince could get a yes or no on a new deal. This has been going on since my IC Title run and had been nothing but a major strain on my life as all I ever wanted to do was work for WWE. I was told to head home until we agree or not agree to specific terms and contrary to reports it isn’t over money or a bus that stuff was settled a while ago. It comes down to a major problem I have with not only WWE but wrestling in general.

Wrestling is pre determined, we as performers know before we go out to that ring or perform a backstage scene who is winning and losing etc or have a general idea of what we are going to say. It blows my mind how in a sport which is pre determined from a company standpoint winners are paid so much more than the losers. Every single person who works for WWE from top to bottom is absolutely just as valuable as the next. The winners cannot win unless the losers go out there and agree to lose to them.

It blows my mind that in this day and age though we still adhere to this formula. Obviously things have always been this way, but does that make them right? Times have changed and our goal as humans should be to evolve and learn from our past and the past of others so we could make this world a better place. Why is it a guy who is told he is going to go out and lose and does everything he is told be paid not only less, but much less than said winner over a period of time. Every single performer for WWE sacrifices the same amount of time from home and their families and every single man or women goes out and does what they are told. Looking at this formula though losers turn into what fans like to call jobbers and their value decreases in the companies eyes and before you know it they get released. For what? For doing exactly as they are told!

Why not pay the talent equally? The winners have more MERCH as it is or are supposed to anyways so they get that extra perk, but why make the guy who is told to and agrees to lose earn less and sacrifice spots in big pay per view match ups etc. This is one of the major problems with wrestling and WWE today. Most guys take great satisfaction in helping making other talent, the bitching and the moaning we always hear about stems from the fact they know they are ultimately over time going to make less and live in fear of being released.

I am proud to say I have never gone to change a finish and have gladly took pride in helping put over other talent. Hell look at my pay per view record of 12-26 and you will see that has been the pattern of my career. I have always been confident in my ability and work ethic to being my best every day and ultimately always felt that by doing good it was the right thing to do. Personally seeing my money go down over the years though even though I was working as much as ever and being denied magazine covers and other projects as well as watching my role diminish no matter what I did or how hard I tried takes its toll on a human. Being told no matter how hard I work or how good I get doesn’t always pay off is something I fucking refuse to ever believe in my life. I am a creative being and to be restricted time and time again is no way to live life. There is nothing I cannot do and I know no matter what comes of this situation I am going to be just fine. It isn’t soley about money, it is about commitment. Commitment to a guy who fucking cares and who loves this more than anything in the world and wants to know that his passion his efforts and his determination to constantly improve is going to be recognized and taken care of.

WWE may very well release me, which if it is the case so be it. If we can work things out a lot needs to change as I am not living in fear and creatively cannot continue to live a life that limits me creatively. I have many other interests and passions and have been very smart with my finances over the years. I thank every WWE superstar from top to bottom for their sacrifices and for working with me. The world is an amazing place and there is more than just a WWE universe there is The Universe and I will prove one way or another over time I am the greatest big guy in the universe!

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