Tag Archives: Roman Reigns

5 Best WWE SmackDown Moments 5/19/16: The Bloodline vs. The Club

Extreme Rules is in just a few days and I hope you haven’t begun looking for predictions articles just yet because we’ve still got SmackDown to go over. You didn’t forget about SmackDown, did you? It’s okay if you did. Looking at the ratings, many of you routinely forget about WWE’s Thursday night weekly. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

If you did miss this week, here are the best moments from the broadcast. These are the things most worth your time to try and look up. One honorable mention goes to Big E for this…

5. Owens Wins, Laughs At His Foes

Sami Zayn got a little lost in the shuffle on commentary, but who could blame him? Not only is it regularly a three-person team as a base, both The Miz & Maryse were also mic’d up along with Sami. When The Miz and his lady tried to distract the in-ring competition, Zayn decided to put down the headseat and head into the ring. Inadvertently, Zayn’s involvement caused Cesaro to lose because Kevin Owens capitalized on the distraction for a roll-up pin. As the brawling continued after the match, KO exited back up the ramp while laughing.

All four of these guys bring something of value to this IC Title feud and I’m very pumped for their match at Extreme Rules. I don’t feel like Owens’ win here gives him any significant momentum considering the outside involvement and the cheap roll-up, but it was still a good ending to solid opening match.

(This would normally be the part where I find a Twitter link relevant to this particular topic to break up the text, but I’ll go slightly off topic to show a bit of banter that Owens had during SmackDown’s broadcast with a restaurant that sucked…)

4. The Man That Humbled Kalisto

Doesn’t The Iron Sheik always talk about breaking people’s backs and making them humble? Well, our boy Rusev has at least borrowed some of that phrase. In a backstage interview with Renee Young he and Lana proclaimed that his aggressive Accolade to Kalisto on Raw was an act of humbling. Lana called her man the greatest U.S. Champion of all time while Rusev said that people will soon be chanting “Machka, machka” instead of “Lucha, lucha.” Can that please catch on, if only for a night?

Since WWE has allowed Rusev and Lana to return closer to what’s worked for them in the past, Rusev has stepped it up as far as being his own mouthpiece. Lana can still vouch for the Bulgarian Brute but he can more than speak for himself. He’s very comfortable with his own voice and that’s why I picked this brief interview segment as one of the best moments of the show. The man deserves praise for his promo skills.

3. More Of Dana Brooke’s Winning Ways

With Becky Lynch on commentary, Dana Brooke scored yet another win in only her second week on the main roster. She defeated Paige, putting her overall SmackDown and Raw record up to an impressive 3-0. She’s not beating scrubs, either. Paige just pinned WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte on Raw less than two weeks ago.

Dana made sure to bad mouth Becky after she won, so it looks like that will be her rivalry for the time being. It’s a shame that Emma and (presumably) Sasha Banks aren’t along for this ride as well, but I won’t complain about a singles feud between these two.

2. A Clever Disguise

Chris Jericho entered the Ambrose Asylum before the cage and all of the different weaponry that accompanied it lowered over top of him. Y2J talked about how he’s been in every match that WWE has ever offered except for this new Dean-specific variation of a cage match. Chris also said he would make his opponent on Sunday spend 40 days in the hospital thanks to what he’ll do to him in this coming match. Chris said all of this without noticing the hairy stage guy in the cage walking behind him.

The disguise wasn’t the best thing ever, but I found it amusing to watch Ambrose remove his fake facial hair behind a posing Jericho. It had a comical tinge to it, which WWE has been guilty of doing too much of to Dean in the past. This didn’t feel like too much cartoony stuff to me, it was just a goofy reveal before the assault. Ambrose then procured a kendo stick and wailed on Jericho repeatedly before he could escape the cage.

1. The Expected Bloodline/Club Brawl

Sure, having these six guys in the same location has historically proven that there will be a melee, but since it’s pretty much always great then the predictability is fine by me. Also, this stable vs. stable fight followed a fresh match-up of Roman Reigns vs. Luke Gallows – and it turned out to be a pretty worthy main event.

For whatever hesitance Styles has had about embracing the heelish peer pressure of his buddies, he’s well beyond that at this point. It was AJ’s leg grab of Roman while the match was still going on that prompted all of the periphery players to get involved. The match didn’t technically end until AJ ordered Gallows and Anderson into the ring to administer the Boot of Doom to Roman. Styles looked ready to go even more ruthless when he cleared off the announce table. That move backfired against him and it was Roman who slammed AJ off of the table.

So, are all three members of The Club fully on the same page? As of the SmackDown main event, it would appear so. But, perhaps that’s precisely what I’m supposed to be thinking just to throw me off before Anderson & Gallows turn on AJ which will then be followed by the formation of the Balor Club on Raw the next night! Pardon the fantasy booking but I’ve been very into what WWE has been offering with this feud. I’m expecting some satisfying plot development/resolution to be given at Extreme Rules.

Oh wait, there’s also a YouTube video of more brawling after the show went off the air. Here’s a .gif of AJ missing another Styles Clash on a chair…

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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)
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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.

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10 Most Insane Spots From WWE Payback

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

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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.

5 Best Moments From SmackDown 4/28/16

Payback is this Sunday but hold on, we still have a SmackDown to get through. Whether or not you have the two hours available to watch the whole show, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. These are the 5 best moments from the show, so this will at least get you up to speed with the really good stuff. Let’s kick things off with the ladies…

5. Natalya & Charlotte Promo

The big news earlier in the week was the Ric Flair told Natalya to kill herself during an Ambrose Asylum segment on SmackDown. By the time the show made it to broadcast, that sort-of-controversial remark was simply edited out. Even though the harshest comment from the exchange was missing, it should be noted that both of the ladies who will be competing this Sunday for the WWE Women’s Championship were solid in their verbal sparring. This very much felt like this was going to be an easy win for Charlotte a few weeks ago but now Natayla feels like a legitimate contender. I still don’t think she’ll defeat Charlotte, but after their great match at Roadblock they could have a repeat (well technically, three-peat) performance.

(On a side-note, Dean Ambrose revealed during this segment that his plant is named Mitch. That’s one solid plant name right there.)

4. They Couldn’t Mute ALL Of Sandow’s Cheers

It was heartbreaking on Raw that Damien Sandow’s match against Baron Corbin never even happened. It was clear that he was getting cheered, but when Dolph Ziggler attacked Big Banter, Damien was not seen again. Sandow would get another chance at an actual on-screen match on SmackDown and it was once again against Baron Corbin. Yes, it was a squash. Also yes, the crowd noise was obviously tampered with. But it didn’t take super-hero quality ears to hear that WWE couldn’t scrub out all of those pro-Sandow choruses. While the Intellectual Savior of the Masses was getting a whooping on the floor, I definitely heard some muted “Let’s Go Sandow” chants. Why do they hate the man so much? Let us love him!

3. R-Truth’s Selfie Stick

Okay, the never-ending tease of “will The Golden Truth finally unite” keeps chugging along after what seems like years and years, I’ll admit that. But these guys can be funny and I even find things to like about them in this blasé recreation of the Ross and Rachel chase from the first two season of Friends. (Right now, R-Truth is in his “Emily” phase with Tyler Breeze, I believe. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Friends, but I think there will be a marriage ceremony at some point and Truth will accidentally say “I take thee Goldust.”) The one really funny moment that I’ll give them props for tonight is Truth’s Selfie Stick that was LITERALLY A STICK. Like, he duct taped his phone to it. Very clever MacGyver-ing, Truth.

2. All Of That Tag Match

New Day were on commentary, which is a big plus. Enzo & Big Cass faced off against The Social Outcasts, which is another plus. Also, The Vaudevillians peered ominously at the top of the ramp to watch their opponents for the Number One Contender tag match at Payback on Sunday. The match was short and effective and the funny commentary was non-stop. I didn’t even take notes on all of the comments because I was just enjoying the charisma of everybody involved. Even Byron Saxton was amusing as he sat quietly on the floor, legs crossed and minding his business.

1. Post-Main Event Drama

Miz vs. Roman Reigns was the best match on the show, but it’s the stuff that happened after the match that really shined. AJ Styles still refuses to fully take the side of his old Bullet Club buddies and only came to blows when he was first attacked by an Uso. Roman even speared Gallows after he and AJ were arguing a little. This had the same feeling like on Raw, but it works for me because I’ve been digging the intrigue of who AJ’s pals might align with in the end. We’ll know for sure on Sunday.

Final Thoughts:

Okay, the show wasn’t too great from an in-ring standpoint. The main event was the best match, and it was good, but nothing else was even on the three star level. Still, there was plenty to like. The promos were good and hey, Damien Sandow had a complete match. I’ll take that.

Being the last SmackDown before Payback, I guess the weak matches were to be expected. Lots of big stuff is teased for that show on Sunday and Vince could shake things up a little with his announcement regarding the status of who’s running what shows. I won’t hold my breath, but something resembling a brand split could be in the cards.

What did you think of this list? Where other good moments left off? Comment below and let me know what I should’ve included instead.

That’s all for me with this SmackDown article. If you’d like to read more of my work then head on over to my blog where you can read about the 10 Best Insights From Lucha Underground’s Catrina’s Reddit AMA. I’ve also teamed up with Wrestling Arcade to deliver 15 Great Wrestling Moments In 16-Bit. 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.

Raw 4/18/16 Reactions

Before getting starting, I’m happy to announce that I’ve begun a new weekly exclusive for ProWrestlingDotBiz. I’ll be writing a weekly Best Moments of Raw piece, starting yesterday. It’s a quick highlight of the most enjoyable parts of the show, so bookmark the page so you can catch it every week.

Unlike the Best Moments of Raw piece I just plugged, this is a more exhaustive review of the entire show. I run through just about all of the segments and offer my thoughts on everything. Raw was broadcast from London this week, which means the red police boxes and British style cars will be at the top of the ramp.

Ambrose Asylum Opener

The crowd is hot from the beginning. Putting Shane McMahon, Kevin Owens, Chris Jericho, and Sami Zayn into Dean Ambrose’s talk show segment is an pleasant overload of superstars to cheer for. Owens and Jericho wisely talked smack about Zayn to get the heat on them, possibly the only thing they could’ve done to get boos.

Shane officially set up the Owens vs. Zayn as well as the Jericho vs. Ambrose matches for Payback, as well as as Jericho vs. Zayn and Ambrose vs. Owens for tonight. This whole segment gave me a happy first impression for the show.

Chris Jericho def. Sami Zayn

This wasn’t a bad match between these two but I liked their encounter on SmackDown better. Jericho won via eye poke because he’s the villain. I like heel Jericho, but I’ll like him better if he puts over Dean Ambrose at Payback. Sami lost because of the cheating, which works for me. It’s hard to give guys loses so close to a Pay-Per-View but this keeps him from looking like a loser.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass def. The Dudley Boyz

I was expecting that Enzo & Cass would win here but I was surprised at how clean it was. It shouldn’t be so surprising because Bubba and D-Von have been putting over tag teams left and right over the past year but it still seems odd to watch them lay down in the middle of the ring. Enzo had a funny line about A cup breasts prior to the match because he and Cass are real, like it or not.

Roman Promo And Bullet Club Attack

The Roman/AJ promo was good. I can’t stand the “I’m not a good guy, I’m not a bad guy, I’m THE guy” line, but maybe he’s repeating it over and over again for the purpose of getting under the skin of people like me. If so, that’s clever. Both he and Styles were complementary of each other and everything looked like a calm affair until…

Anderson & Gallows ambushed Reigns from behind. I’m not familiar with their moves but they did this double team thing in which Roman was kicked in the head while in a Death Valley Driver-ish setup. It looked pretty effective. Styles looked on from the top of the ramp like he was taken aback from the assault. Is he in on it or is he innocent of this?

Baron Corbin def. Fandango

This was short but that works for what Baron is supposed to be. Fandango looks like a chump but it establishes the rookie’s dominance. Dolph Ziggler and the winner of the 2016 Andre the Giant Battle Royal threw down post-match and The Showoff ate an End of Days on the floor. Dolph can make Baron look really good and that’s a safe way to introduce him to the main roster. I like all of this.

MizTV w/Cesaro

Cesaro really wasn’t the guest here, he just came out to interrupt. Miz quoted Liam Neeson and Cesaro quoted Roddy Piper. I like both of these guys and thought this was entertaining, even though they fumbled a few lines. This all set up the big 8-man match that followed…

New Day & Cesaro def. League of Nations & The Miz (w/Maryse)

I remember the usual funny stuff from New Day and a few strong rally moments from Cesaro, including a couple of running uppercuts on the outside against the barricade. Cesaro did a pretty cool reversal on Sheamus into his Neutralizer, which was the final move before the pinfall. This was good and it keeps the New Day vs. LON and Miz vs. Cesaro rivalries going but the match wasn’t gangbusters or anything.

Natalya Has A Surprise For Payback

Mauro is backstage interviewing Charlotte and her dad until Natalya shows up. She announces that her uncle will be in her corner at Payback to balance the Ric Flair factor. Bret’s been pretty critical of the product lately, which is interesting but a non-factor in this.

Natalya, Paige, Becky Lynch, & Sasha Banks def. Charlotte & Friends

Okay, I got a little tired of switching tabs trying to remember all of the ladies in this and simply put the “& Friends” tag on the heel team. The big takeaway here is that Natalya made Charlotte tap out via Sharpshooter. This makes her look strong before their Payback match and creates a cool visual for uncle Bret to come back to, but Nattie is losing on that card. There’s no doubt about that.

The Vaudevillians def. The Usos

I expected Enzo & Cass to go far in this tag team tournament but not The Vaudevillians. I was worried that they’d get lost in the shuffle but WWE has decided to give them a showcase instead. They’re getting wins here and will have a match at the Payback Pay-Per-View. This is proving ground for all four of these guys and I hope they go all out with this opportunity. Good for Aiden & Simon, they’re super talented and simply need the opportunity.

Apollo Crews def. Heath Slater

This was an odd blend of characters. The real life suspension of Adam Rose for taking too many Flintstone vitamins or something has left a void in my favorite band of vagabonds and they were hoping for the recent NXT callup to fill it. I want to be positive but the promo to set this up was off – maybe it’s the campy stipulation that if Apollo lost then he’d have to join the group. The match wasn’t too exciting but at least Crews got the win here.

Dean Ambrose def. Kevin Owens

This was a little slow feeling in the beginning but I think I’d blame the crowd for that. It was a long show that kept getting less exciting, so they needed a few minutes to get brought back into it. There were cool moves like Owens’ Frog Splash to the floor and a Fisherman Buster out of the corner. Owens sort of defeated himself by going for a Frog Splash in the ring, but Ambrose lifted his knees to block it. Ambrose won shortly after this. I like that they tried to protect Owens in the loss here.

Post-match, Jericho came out to give a Codebreaker to Ambrose to close out the show.

Final Thoughts:

The show had some strong highlights and I like the direction of many of the feuds. The only real knock on it was the there weren’t really any strong matches. The main event was the best match but I’d rate it 3.5 stars at best. Other than the opening match with Jericho & Zayn, there weren’t any matches that felt strong.

Looking forward to Payback, there’s Styles vs. Reigns, Jericho vs. Ambrose, Zayn vs, Owens, Charlotte vs. Natalya, and The Vaudevillians vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady. That’s a strong lineup with several fresh matches. I’m optimistic that it could be a good show.

Hey, follow me on Twitter @MitchNickelson. Thanks, homie.