Tag Archives: Raw

5 Best WWE Raw Moments 6/6/16

Raw came to us from Oklahoma City and I’m a little late in getting the best moments of the night published, so here it is without further delay…

5. Breezango Is Aerogigantic

I’m completely on board with Tyler Breeze & Fandango getting routine Zoolander-style segments. Prior to the Tyler Breeze vs. R-Truth match, the two were shown backstage partaking in some grooming fun. Tyler was shaving his partner’s back, because if you’ve already blended your entrance music then this is the next logical step.

When Fandango explained to Tyler that the lack of hair made him more “aerogigantic,” I died laughing. I learned a new word while watching Raw because aerogigantic apparently is when you “cut through the air like a giant arrow.” Fandango is brilliant.

Also, did Golden Truth already lose their Goldust-head karaoke intro? They’re getting the short end of the stick on this feud.

4. Those Roman/Rollins Videos

It’s baffling why WWE doesn’t do videos like these all the time because their documentary-style pieces are always so great. In the case of Roman, it’s one of the best ways to present him. He feels far more natural in these sit-down pre-recorded interviews – which might be the result of him not having to deal with a usually contentious crowd.

Another major positive from these videos is the fact that Seth and Roman got to save an in-ring interaction with each other. No physical encounters were necessary and nobody needed to get an upperhand on the other guy. This was truly a win-win for both wrestlers.

3. The Breakdown Of The Main Event

This is the one entry that I wrote on Tuesday and not after the show on Monday, so I needed help reminding myself why I liked it so much. Looking back at John Canton’s Raw Deal, I noticed that there was a Pele Kick by Styles to Big E followed by a boot from Gallows, Kofi hit an SOS on AJ, and Styles finished the match with his Phenomenal Forearm against Kingston. Oh yeah, those were a lot of fun moves back to back. The match itself was only about 6 minutes long but it felt longer to me when I watched it live. At least, it didn’t feel as short as it apparently was.

There was more battling post-match and Cena came out to aid New Day in their battle. I like the heel side of Styles, which he’s fully embraced in WWE as of a week ago. Gallows & Anderson come across as much more of a real threat when they’re aligned with their Club leader, too. Cena vs. Styles has so much potential for the next couple of months and this was a fine step in the story.

2. Big Cass Snapped

I was initially at a crossroads at picking which moment in the closing of the Enzo & Cass vs. Vaudevillains was truly the standout of the segment, but I knew I liked it all. I really was digging the ruthlessness of Aiden English when he went for the exact same throw into the ropes on Enzo Amore that gave him a concussion in the first place. However, as great as his barbarism was here, it was Colin Cassady’s revenge that was the eye opener.

Big Cass showed a bit of a mean streak, wailing away at Aiden for what he tried to do to his buddy. The ref stopped the match, which makes the seven footer so much cooler. Cass then gave a monstrous boot to Simon Gotch. There wasn’t much of a match at all here but it was a solid way to showcase the big guy.

1. “Guys Like You Bury Guys Like Me”

There’s something about a promo that feels like it’s touching on so many ‘real’ issues – and that’s what John Cena & AJ Styles did here. AJ seemed to have the best lines, like when he took jabs at Cena’s movie career, talking about how great only his cameos are (and not his starring roles). He also told John that his two buddies were there to help him out because he knows what happens to guys who face John Cena and lose. It was at that point that he dropped the burial remark, which was a fantastic line.

There would’ve been a fight afterward but New Day came out to make the save. I’ve got to say, I like John’s backup better than Roman Reign’s. Money in the Bank is less than 2 weeks away and this matchup is quickly garnering more and more of that big fight feel.

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5 Best Moments From Raw 5/30/16: AJ Styles Goes Heel

Money Night Raw came to us from Green Bay, Wisconsin this week. We’ve still got some time before Money in the Bank and there’s a looming brand split that should shake things up pretty soon. The show started out pretty weak tonight but found some high spots as things progressed.

The intro is pretty brief this time around so let’s dive right into the best moments from Raw…

5. Enzo & Cass Woke The Crowd Up

The show was really slow for a long while. Like, pretty boring. My initial thought was that Green Bay was a weak crowd but considering the show kicked off with a Shane vs. Stephanie dance off I don’t think they were the culprits. WWE did not bring their A game for a good bit of this show. Then, Enzo & Cass’ music hit and they saved the day.

It’s a strong positive in this tag team’s favor that the one catchphrase that everyone loves to chant along with Enzo is at least 30 seconds long. This Raw crowd must’ve been so excited to have a reason to react big to something and that’s what Enzo especially was for them. He and Big Cass went on to face the Dudleyz whom they easily defeated. Not that that’s a huge deal or anything because literally everyone beats The Dudleyz these days. If The Golden Truth get really bummed about being winless right now then they should challenge Bubba Ray and D-Von to a match.

4. Owens & Jericho Should Get A Sitcom

The backstage conversation between Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Alberto Del Rio was hilarious because of the childish bickering between KO and Y2J. Jericho told both men about how he had problems with them to which Owens confusedly retorted that he actually thought they had a good thing going. Then, when Chris was talking to Alberto he subtly dropped the word “moi” into his conversation. Without a beat, he remarked to his French-Canadian partner this quip…

Jericho: That’s French.
Owens: I know.

The delivery was quick, it was perfect. Before they went out for their tag match Chris offered this stern warning to his cohorts for the night…

Jericho: You Better Watch It.
Owens: Watch What?Jericho: It.

This was all comedy at its best.

3. Trading Lots Of Big Moves

Raw was a pretty weak show from an in-ring standpoint but that main event got it together pretty well. Come to think of it, it was probably because all six of these guys were in this one match instead of being spread across two or three separate matches that prevented anything other than the main event from being above 3 stars.

Still there were plenty of signatures moves and finishers in the final two minutes or so to leave a solid final impression for those of us that try to make it through the entire 3 hours. Some of my favorite moves included when Chris Jericho actually saw Dean Ambrose’s rope rebound coming and gave him a Codebreaker when he shot back to him.

The finish was great as well. The final moves saw Kevin Owens going for a Popup Powerbomb on Sami Zayn, but he overshot it. Dean Ambrose then moved in quickly at that point to nail his Dirty Deeds for the win.

dirty deeds to Owens.gif

Also, Green Bay gave us the first every round of “Stupid Idiot” chants towards Chris Jericho which they should be commended for. It was beautiful.

2. John Cena Returned!

John Cena has been out for 5 months due to shoulder surgery and he’s been dearly missed. He came back on this episode of Raw wearing his Ellen shorts and gave a big pro-liberty speech that was tailor-made for this Memorial Day. While most of his speech was serious and patriotic, he did say that he will “not go quietly into the night” and then all I could think about from that moment on was the Bill Pullman speech from Independence Day. And that’s not a bad thing, no sir. Every good American loves the speech from Independence Day.

Cena is truly the superstar of the past decade and the show feels like such a bigger deal with him on it. Just showing up was more than enough to earn a spot on the best moments of this episode of Raw…but he wasn’t done yet. There was even bigger business to tend to and it happened when AJ Styles’ music hit during Cena’s welcome back party…

1. The Club United

I would’ve been just as happy if babyface AJ Styles was offering a friendly challenge to John Cena but Anderson & Gallows interrupted their congenial promo to aid AJ in a full-on heel turn. I was scratching my head initially because didn’t The Club part ways just a week ago? As AJ kept running back in for more and more chances to wail some punches into Cena’s face I realized that their “breakup” seven days ago never came to blows. It was all a ruse and it totally worked on me. I loved this.

The best image to come from this brand new feud is when Styles, Anderson, and Gallows all stood atop Cena, holding up their “Too Sweet” signs while John was lifeless. Cena vs. Styles is definitely one of those dream matchups that’s penciled in for AJ’s WWE run and I’m glad we’re getting it over the summer. If these guys are starting something that carries over to a post-brand split SmackDown then that should easily boost some ratings.

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Mitch Nickelson’s WWE Raw Preview 5/30/16

It’s the Memorial Day edition of Raw so it’s only fitting that a certain someone is returning tonight. John Cena will be a huge focus of the show from Green Bay and according to WWE.com‘s official preview, he’s the big selling point to watch. Like usual, WWE’s preview points are bolded below, accompanied by my thoughts on each subject.

One big thing absent from WWE’s preview is the huge upcoming brand split. It’s been a few years since WWE has kept a separate Raw and SmackDown roster. There are many questions about how this new incarnation will play out. I’m not one to normally clamor for McMahon on-screen time but they should at least take a few minutes of programming to give a few details.

What Does John Cena Have Planned For His Return?

The biggest talking point going into Raw is that John Cena will be back after several months out rehabbing a shoulder surgery. In typically superhuman fashion, Cena shaved an astonishing four months off of his recovery time. Either WWE intentially flubs the expected time off in the beginning or the man is from the planet Krypton. Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see what direction he goes upon return.

I might be jumping to conclusions, but the current United States Champion sent out an interesting Tweet on Sunday…

Did Rusev upend Kalisto’s title run to set up a feud with John Cena for the title he made shine in 2015? No complaints from me if that’s the case. It would also explain why Rusev’s career has felt like it’s been in a bit of a resurgence as of late.

Will Former ‘Brothers’ Collide?

I still would’ve liked a Seth Rollins babyface run but who am I to complain about him challenging Roman Reigns at Money In The Bank for the title that he never lost? These two were in a feud together last fall when Seth freakishly hurt his knee in a match with Kane at a house show, so there’s plenty of unfinished business to settle.

There are no matches for Seth Rollins advertised before the big match on June 19th but I am curious to know if he’ll have much of an in-ring presence beforehand. His wrestling return on Raw should be a treated as a big deal so they should advertise that well in advance. As for this night, Rollins and Reigns should have some heated conversations as long as the physicality is kept to a minimum.

Can The Showoff Out-Grapple The Lone Wolf?

This is a bit of an odd feud by this point. First of all, Baron Corbin won their last match together at Extreme Rules. He did happen to use a low blow but since it was a NO DQ match he technically did nothing wrong.

baron low blow

Ouch.

Last week on Raw, Dolph Ziggler challenged Baron to this upcoming technical wrestling match and then told him to watch his match later in the show…which he lost. I like Baron Corbin and Dolph is definitely the guy to make him look good in-ring on the main roster but this is a feud that’s dragged on a tad too long. I’m sure they’ll put on a decent match together but I’m more than ready for Baron to get his final win then move on to whatever his next step is.

What’s Going Through Charlotte’s Mind?

Charlotte kicked her dear daddy to the curb last week because she’s an ungrateful millennial or something. Ric Flair might not be by her side anymore but Dana Brooke now is. Anybody who reads my stuff will know that I’m all in with Dana but there’s something lacking here. WWE is promoting that we might get more of an explanation as to why the daddy/daughter love is gone but I’m more interested in knowing just why the two ladies are now allies. Also, is Natalya still challenging for the Women’s Championship? The Flair family drama from last week makes me question just who’s currently vying for that belt.

Is Dudleyville “S.A.W.F.T.”?

The Enzo Amore concussion suffered during the Tag Team Tournament about a month ago sort of put his and Big Cass’ rivalry with The Dudleyz on the shelf. Enzo’s well again so it looks like everything’s a go with plenty of smack talk for everyone in Dudleyville. Bubba Ray & D-Von are definitely legends of the tag team division but they’ve been on the wrong end of the win-loss record during this current WWE run. I’ll be happy when Enzo & Cass get put over by The Dudleyz but didn’t Colin handle them pretty easy by himself at Extreme Rules? It won’t feel like as big of deal as WWE hopes it will when they finally win this feud. Bubba Ray and D-Von need to put these guys through a couple of tables so they look like more of a threat.

Who Will Emerge As The Final Money In The Bank Ladder Match Participant?

Alberto Del Rio was added as the sixth wrestler to the MITB Ladder Match on SmackDown last week joining Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose, and Cesaro. That’s a really strong class of competitors. I’d be happy if any of these guys won it although I’m feeling ADR the least at the moment. The last spot could easily go to John Cena since he’s not really doing anything at this point on the upcoming PPV. It could also go to Randy Orton since he’s due to return very soon as well. I do think this question will get answered on Monday night but if they wanted to save this spot all the way up until the event itself then it could end up being a cool surprise if it’s the right person.

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5 Best Moments Of Raw 5/23/16: Enzo Returns!

It’s the day after WWE Extreme Rules and it’s time to shift focus to the next special event, Money in the Bank. Raw was filled with qualifying matches to see which competitors would take 5 out of 7 of the spots in the popular briefcase ladder match.

Seth Rollins made his Raw return after returning at the end of Sunday’s Pay-Per-View. The ovation he got was great and I was more than willing to place the appearance on this edition of this article…but then he went heel. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a fine heel and did well in turning the crowd against him. But it all felt too soon. I don’t really want to boo him any more than the majority of crowds want to cheer for Roman Reigns. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but the miscast here didn’t set well with me.

That’s enough of the negativity from me. Even if I don’t like the roles they’re in, Reigns vs. Rollins is still a match that excites me. They should put on something special and I’m glad it was announced as the MITB headliner. As for the rest of Raw, here are the 5 moments that I identified as the best of the night.

5. An Independent Woman

Not all of this felt like a total winner of a segment, but I did appreciate Charlotte’s ability to get the heat from the crowd. I guess having to win her match at Extreme Rules without Daddy nearby reminded her of the 30 years of her life that he wasn’t there anyways, so she decided to give him the boot on this night.

The WWE Women’s Champion told The Nature Boy that he abandoned her as tears poured down his face. The crowd viciously jeered her to which she turned it all back onto Ric, saying that he might be immortal to them but he was dead to her. Ouch. Some of those Flair waterworks might’ve been authentic after those comments.

It’s hard to figure out how Dana Brooke factors into whatever’s the next direction for Charlotte. I was hoping in the moment that she might defend Ric’s honor and turn on his daughter but that obviously didn’t happen. Still, if she’s allied with her now then certainly there will be a turn at some point in the future. I’ll cross my fingers that I don’t have to wait forever to get to that point.

4. No Longer Brothers

Before AJ Styles competed in the ring, he grabbed a mic and tried to explain his loss at Extreme Rules. He did put over Roman as one of the best talents he’s ever wrestled but also put some blame on the involvement of The Usos as well as his own buddies, Gallows & Anderson. This prompted an appearance by the Good Brothers.

Both Luke & Karl took offense to the AJ blame. The allegiance between these three came to a close during this time in the ring. The falling out ended with Anderson saying that not only are they not brothers anymore, but they’re not friends either.

I expected Gallows & Anderson to come out a little later in the night and cost AJ his match, but that didn’t happen. That’s probably for the better because there’s no real hurry to rush the next steps in the dissolution of The Club – especially if the next step is the appearance of Finn Balor. They can wait until after his cage match against Samoa Joe to make that happen.

3. Owens’ Brilliant Banter

The main event Money in the Bank qualifier between Kevin Owens and AJ Styles was a fine TV contest and easily the best match of the night, but that’s not what I’m wanting to highlight here. Kevin Owens knows how to be funny as well as snarky and brought those factors several times during this contest. There are technically 3 moments in this entry, but I’ll cheat a little and group them all together.

First, there was the dropkick attempt from AJ that missed. Kevin Owens simply clapped at his opponents’ misstep, giving him a sarcastic bravo. Check that one out above in .gif form.

Second, Styles was outside of the ring when Owens got a running start off of the ropes. The announcers gasped at the thought of Kevin possibly performing a tope or a suicide dive, but Kevin had a different attack in mind. He simply rolled under the run and gave AJ a clothesline.

Finally, there was this glorious line: “Shut up Cole, I can hear you from here!” THAT’S why Kevin Owens is a hero to so many.

2. An Owens Upset

Is it fair to call Kevin Owens’ win over AJ Styles an upset? It might not be a huge upset, but AJ did just come off of two months of feuding with the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He was at least a little bit higher up the card than KO. This was the best match of the night, highlighted with a 45o Splash by Styles and a Powerbomb onto steel steps by Owens. They both brought their A game and it was a match more than worth going back and seeing if you missed the show.

When looking at all of the qualifiers (so far) for the MITB ladder match in a few weeks, the talent pool is deep. Owens joins Sami Zayn, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, and Dean Ambrose in the battle for the briefcase. I’d be happy with any of those guys winning it. There are still two more spots left in the match and I can only hope that it’s a talent as exciting as what’s already involved in this contest.

1. Enzo Amore Returned!

 photo Not Gonna Miss_zpsux10awyp.gif

Colin Cassady began making his entrance, then signaled that he wasn’t alone. Enzo Amore came out to join him to a huge pop and oh boy was he wired! While in the ring he recited a slew of wise cracks that I didn’t completely follow but still found myself entertained by. His energy was through the roof. Like, Robin Williams in the 1980s through the roof.

The funniest moment of the bit was when Big Cass talked about how he was going to kick off a Dudley head into a swimming pool. When he said that he was not going to miss, Enzo went ballistic reciting “not gonna miss” over and over. Seriously, he came across as psychotic here and it was great.

WWE has tested the waters with a Big Cass singles run and you know that Vince is more than ready to push him hard. It’s good that they’re not pulling that trigger just yet because there’s still so much potential in this tag team.

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5 Best WWE Raw Moments 5/16/16: New Day-Lorean

Raw came to us from Greensboro, North Carolina on the last stop to WWE Extreme Rules. The show was the typically 3 hour marathon of highs and lows, with nothing going much lower than the Shining Star tag team (re) debut. The crowd was super quiet for that match.

That’s enough of the negativity from me because this is an article about the best moments of the night. There was plenty to be excited about and I didn’t even have room for Big Cass’ win. Oh well, maybe next time. Here are my 5 best moments as I see it…

5. The Total Diva Wins Again

When Dana Brooke debuted on Raw last week, I was ecstatic. Her arrogant persona is more than refined so she’d be a natural heel opposite of the likable Becky Lynch. But with the terrible news of injury for her pal Emma (and I hope she recovers fully) I was concerned that Brooke’s main roster plans might get derailed. Thankfully for her, her momentum continued on Raw.

Brooke pinned Lynch for a second time (she also defeated her on last week’s SmackDown), making me question at this point if there’s even a need for the two to square off in a match at Extreme Rules. If I had to guess though, they’ll scuffle again in some capacity on this week’s SmackDown to set up something for at least the pre-show on Sunday. Lynch can finally take the W then, but her head will have been thoroughly patted by that point.

4. That Golden Truth Highlight Video

I’m definitely a sucker for a little bit of cheese in my wrestling programming and the video package prior to the official debut of The Golden Truth was in no short supply of it. They pulled clips from seemingly every interaction the two had over the past few months and backed it all up with a Wonder Years-style soundtrack. If you needed a Kleenex to dry your eyes after riding that emotional roller coaster, you’d get no hate from me. It seemed like the two FINALLY were ready for their arrival…only they weren’t.

It was a little surprising that Goldust & R-Truth fell to BreezeDango after Truth nailed his partner directly in the face off of a mistimed kick. It’s also a little surprising that Fandango & R-Truth aren’t packaged under the name FaBreeze – that seemed like the most obvious choice for a winner of a team name. That’s not complaining, though. I’ll take BreezeDango over nothing.

Somebody tell this guy to hush…

The four interacted again post-match to set up the reason why this never-ending angle must still go on. Apparently Golden Truth are the heroic defenders of the previous era while BreezeDango are the dastardly young heels of the New Era. Wait, I thought this New Era was supposed to be a good thing? The booking’s a little wonky here but I did genuinely get a kick out of the pre-match video.

3. “He’s The Worst One!”

Everything about the Intercontinental Championship feud is great but one of the shiniest stars (not from Puerto Rico, that is) of this division is whenever Kevin Owens opens his mouth. WWE wisely put him and The Miz BOTH on commentary during a supposed Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro match that never got going. When anarchy stopped the contest, a couple of McMahons came out to Teddy Long the action into a tag match.

The line in my heading was my favorite bit of banter from Owens on this night. When it was first announced that he’d be tagging alongside Miz, he offered up that condescending remark. Then, his partner was switched to his arch-nemesis Sami Zayn which was even better.

The match was one of the highlights of the show and I’m expecting some great things from this 4way IC Title Match on Sunday. There’s too much talent for it not to be a show stealer.

2. Styles Clash On A Chair

Roman Reigns defends his WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules against AJ Styles in a match with an eponymous stipulation. They both were at ringside for a tag bout between The Usos and Gallows & Anderson and you just knew that everyone would get involved at some point. It was a little surprising to see Styles’ buddies take the fall so cleanly, but the action after the match made it seem like not as big of a deal.

Everyone in each faction battled it out, leading to a Reigns vs. Styles sequence with a chair inside the ring. Styles was the final man to get his hands on the steel, using it to lay Roman out. Then, he nailed Roman with his signature Styles Clash on top of the metallic seat.

AJ is looking like the man on top going into Extreme Rules, which likely signals that he’s taking the loss. That’s not unexpected. Even if he loses as clean as can be on Sunday I can say that this rivalry has been exceptional. Especially for as much flak as Roman gets as the champ, it’s really turned him around in my eyes. His character seems far less forced as of late.

1. New Day-Lorean

New Day have been one of the most entertaining acts in WWE for a long time. It’s got to be tiring to keep thinking up new shticks to continue being so funny but they really outdid themselves in Greensboro. Behind a sheet in the middle of the ring was an Xavier Woods invention straight out of Gallifrey: a time machine.

Big E called Woods out and said it was nothing more than an empty refrigerator box, but Xavier would have none of that. Big E also asked why the keyboard was sticky and Xavier changed the subject. The humor was on point here.

They initially traveled through time to 2009 when Kofi still had his Jamaican accent, then went all the way back to that bygone era that The Vaudevillains keep referring to. Back then, Booty-O’s were Derriere Squares, smartphones were old-timey regular phones, and video games didn’t exist. New Day deemed that that era sucked. They were then attacked by Aiden English & Simon Gotch and the beautiful New Day-Lorean was destroyed in the brawl, which was a shame.

I could see some people being a little tired of New Day’s humor but in mind this was one of the best skits they’ve done. Bravo guys, you three continue to be the standard of what entertaining is.

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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.

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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 post shared 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.

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

Only a day removed since Payback, we’re officially in WWE’s “New Era.” Does an extended opening promo of multiple McMahon’s really count as new?

Despite the staleness of many of the faces in charge, there’s still plenty of good to be found on the show. So here are the 5 best moments from the full three hours of WWE’s flagship show…

5. First Win Of 2016

It’s been disappointing to see how great Tyler Breeze can be from time in NXT only to have to watch him be relegated the lowest of the lowliest on Raw. He was in a marquee matchup against special attraction Jushin Thunder Liger in 2015 – he is better than this! Recently, Breeze has joined the likes of Fandango as a minor character in the grand story of The Golden Truth, a team that simply refuses to realize their destiny of tagging together and losing routinely to The Usos on Superstars.

Thanks to the wacky shenanigans of a distraction dance-off between Fandango and Truth that Goldust was watching, he got rolled up by Tyler Breeze to end the match. This marks the first win for Prince Pretty of the calendar year, a milestone that should’ve been reached long before now.

4. R.I.P. Mitch The Plant

Payback felt like the end of the Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho rivalry. Reports are circling the rumor mill that Y2J is already out the WWE door for another one of his hiatuses. That didn’t stop the two from interacting after Stephanie McMahon became the final guest of the Ambrose Asylum, Dean’s talk show segment that is currently cancelled.

Jericho met Ambrose on the entrance ramp and the two began to fight it out. The final blow came in the form of Dean’s favorite plant as Chris smashed it in the back of his head. A mess of blood and guts potting soil stained the ground below them.

The internet immediately went into mourning for the plant with the perfect name. Pictures in the form of WWE’s traditional R.I.P. graphic for fallen wrestlers quickly emerged and flooded timelines and newsfeeds.

It can only be assumed that Ambrose will accept the foliage’s HOF award in his honor next year.

3. Ryder In The Final 2

Since Ryback has exited the contention for the United States Championship (and potentially WWE altogether), a new Number One Contender needed crowned. Filling this vacuum came in the form of a Battle Royal, featuring a wide array of middle card wrestlers.

The biggest highlight of this contest was the ovation Zack Ryder got when it came down to him and The Bulgarian Brute, Rusev. Ryder’s IC Title win at WrestleMania might’ve turned out to be nothing more than a fluke, but for a brief moment it looked like he was getting the booking love once again.

In the end, it was Rusev that won the over-the-top rope contest. He celebrated in the ring with Lana and good for him. However, the excitement that Ryder gave us in final moments was what made Rusev’s victory matter so much more.

2. Zayn Stood Tall With The IC Title

The first match on Raw was between Kevin Owens and Cesaro. The Intercontinental Champion, The Miz, watched the event with his wife while he hung out with the commentary team. The match was supposed to determine who would face Miz next for his belt, but Miz halted a Number One Contender being named when he struck Cesaro to end the match in DQ.

Arguments and fists followed between Cesaro, Owens, and Miz, who were joined by Sami Zayn during the scuffle. After delivering a Helluva Kick to Owens, Miz was pulled out of the ring by Maryse to safety. Miz haphazardly left his title behind, so Zayn picked it up and held it high in the air.

The ovation Sami got was tremendous. He’s clearly the fan’s choice in the IC Title hunt. The crowd gave him thunderous “Yes” chants of approval. I’m hoping that this shows WWE higher-ups that Zayn is somebody worth putting a top title on.

1. Who’s Side Is Styles On?

As long as WWE doesn’t get too upset that Roman and his cousins are the heels pretty much every town they go to, this is a great feud for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. AJ Styles and Roman Reigns have chemistry and when they’re not shoving too much McMahon nonsense into the story, it plays out pretty great.

After the six-man tag main event, Anderson & Gallows dragged a beat up Roman into the middle of the ring and handed AJ a chair. Styles wasn’t comfortable with this idea. He showed just a few moments later that he didn’t have a problem with using a chair when he battled The Usos, but there’s a difference between striking a man who’s in the middle of combat and striking one who’s completely helpless.

Styles is having a conflict between an allegiance to his friends of many years and whether or not he wants to join in with their dastardly heel tactics. If he keeps resisting the peer pressure, he’ll have to break away from his buddies and stick to the babyface route. If he finally embraces their influence, this could be the full emergence of a bad guy Bullet Club-ish faction.

Either way, I’m interested.

Plugs & Staff

Here are a few recent articles and reviews I’ve written worth checking out.

16 Greatest Wrestling Moments In 16-Bit

ROH TV 4/27/16 Review

10 Best Insight’s From Lucha Underground’s Catrina’s Reddit AMA

Also, follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson.

Thanks for reading.

Answering WWE’s 5 Point Raw Preview 4/25/16

We’re 6 days away from WWE Payback and the roster is fresh off of a trip to the other side of the Atlantic. WWE is in Connecticut tonight, which is where the company calls home. Here are the 5 major points that WWE has used on their website to tease the show tonight. Just like last week, my opinions are the unbolded stuff below.

Styles’ Longtime Friends Gallows & Anderson To Make Raw Debut

Anderson & Gallows will be facing off in tag team action against The Usos tonight in their first WWE match. I expect the debuting team to look strong but more importantly, I expect some revenge from Roman  Reigns during this match. I don’t see Roman just running out to be a pure heel or anything, but maybe the Bullet Club duo will grab chairs or other obvious signs of cheating to provoke The Big Dog to get involved. To aid his friends, AJ Styles could then come out to help out his pals to even things out. To avoid an obvious alignment, AJ should then shove his friends and ask what they were thinking while pointing at the chair originally used. Then he could storm off with a disappointed father look on his face.

Regardless of how it plans out, more teasing of who Anderson & Gallows might be aligned with needs to be happening. This is a highly interesting element to Payback’s main event.

How Will Dean Ambrose Retaliate Against Chris Jericho?

Dean Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens during the main event of last week’s show and instead of getting to enjoy his victory he was attacked by Chris Jericho. I can’t say enough how much I’ve been loving Chris Jericho’s heel work as of late and look forward to whatever dastardly stuff he has planned for tonight.

I’m hoping that Dean Ambrose wins the singles match against Y2J on Sunday. But then again, if he loses then that means he gets a WWE Championship match at the next Pay-Per-View, right? Right?!

Has Corbin Stolen Ziggler’s Spotlight?

Baron Corbin, the winner of the illustrious Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal has been introducing The Showoff to his finisher every time they meet up on the floor area around the ring. I think we’ve seen Dolph eat an End of Days three times on the floor recently, which is a little too repetitive. Corbin’s the new guy to the main roster and will almost certainly win at Payback, so I expect Ziggler to get some sort of an upper hand tonight. He’s got to look good right before he stares at those ceiling lights.

Will Old-School Fisticuffs Trump New-School Smacktalk?

The Vaudevillians had there best main roster promo yet last Thursday on SmackDown. Actually, I think it was their only real bit of promo time so far. They seem pretty neglected in getting the audience truly invested in them and I’m hoping that they can get something similar to what they got on SmackDown tonight on Raw.

They’re super proper and are offended by the crudeness of Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. Enzo & Cass have really taken off and it’s been mostly off of the overwhelming charisma that emanates from Amore’s voice. Promo time opposite the Smacktalker Skywalker is the best thing to get Aiden English & Simon Gotch as over as they should be.

Is Shane McMahon’s Tenure As Raw Showrunner Coming To An End?

The fact that the stipulation to the Hell in a Cell Match at WrestleMania 32 has been rendered completely meaningless has been said millions of times by millions of people in the past few weeks doesn’t mean that it isn’t still worth stating. The show’s been overall better in that time frame but it would still be nice to hear a logical explanation to important issues like where Triple H and Stephanie have been during all of this.

There’s probably going to be a new element to the “Shane on Raw” story and it will likely get tied into the WWE Championship, which is a mistake. Keep the Roman & AJ story separate because it doesn’t need the over-complication treatment when the McMahon drama gets mixed in.

Final Thoughts:

I find most of these stories to be interesting, so my hopes are high for Raw tonight. Even the lesser developed feuds like Baron Carbon vs. Dolph Ziggler (which has consisted of nothing other than repeated End of Days to the floor) still has interest because it’s a completely fresh matchup.

As long as at least two or three matches with some quality talent are give a decent amount of time, this could be a strong wrestling show.

Follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson.