Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

The Randy Orton Face Turn, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hell in a Cell 2014 seems to have exceeded people’s expectations, which is always nice to hear. Sadly, I wasn’t able to catch the show. What really sucks about that, is I wasn’t able to see the Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins cell match. From what I’ve seen, they put on an awesome match, while paying tribute to a couple of the classic matches (Undertaker/Shawn Michaels and Undertaker/Mick Foley) in the process. Thankfully, WWE made the right call and put that match on last. I said it before the show, and I’ll say it again, there was no way Orton and Cena were going to top them. It also makes a nice statement about WWE looking toward the future.

And by God, Ambrose and Rollins are such stars.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Randy Orton goes on a verbal tirade against Seth Rollins to kick off the show. Alright, I’ve got to eat a little crow here. Last week I said, “Randy Orton is a great wrestler, but he’s just not a good talker.” Well, Orton proved me wrong in the very first segment of this week’s show. But keep in mind, what I was saying last week was how phony and heavily scripted Orton’s promos usually sound. This week, he ditched his usual slow pace and just ranted. It was awesome. And apparently, Orton went into anger management in 2006. Hey, I believe it.

With the RKO on Seth Rollins, the Randy Orton face turn appears to be in full swing now. That’s a good thing. It gives Randy an opportunity to freshen up his character, and opens the door for some new rivalries. I’m also interested to see if he can continue pushing the idea that the RKO can be hit any time and anywhere, as all those Vine videos so delightfully conveyed.

Team Cena vs. Team Authority booked for Survivor Series*groan* Well, it looks like we won’t get Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series. And on top of that, we got another “You should turn heel, John” promo, this time from Triple H and Stephanie. Triple H’s part of it was fairly intriguing, with the notion that Cena’s getting beat up, and “can’t stop the future.” But still, it’s incredibly disappointing that we won’t be seeing Brock Lesnar for another month. What’s more, when we do see him, he’ll be against Cena again. Granted, Someone else (Randy Orton, perhaps?) could be added to the match. But it’s still disheartening.

Bray Wyatt cuts a return promo on Dean Ambrose after costing him his cell match. I still don’t understand some of what Bray Wyatt is saying in these promos that everybody loves so much. But I suppose as long as he understands it, and can motivate it, that’s what matters. Really intrigued by what we might see from this Wyatt/Ambrose program.

Dean Ambrose opts to assault Cesaro with a microphone instead of wrestling him. I hate to say this, but how far has Cesaro fallen since his big battle royal win at Wrestlemania? He’s so talented, and deserves so much better. But good lord, who hasn’t beaten this guy lately?

Ryback def. Bo Dallas. It looks like the returning Ryback is a babyface again. The timing of Ryback’s heel turn last year was odd. But it did give him a chance to develop his on-screen charisma a bit more. I get the impression that the somewhat unhinged personality we see him display on television is very much an extension of who he really is, which is how most good pro wrestling personas develop. It’s also nice to see another fresh face on the show.

Hulk Hogan shows up for another Susan G. Komen segment. I like Hogan in this role. It suits him well  at this stage in his career. They can use him on television without him stealing the spotlight, as he inevitably does, whether it’s intentional or not.

Incidentally, Jesse Ventura told an interesting story about Hogan on Piper’s Pit with Roddy Piper this week. I have no clue how much truth there is to it, but it sounds like the Hogan we know. He tells it during the last 15 minutes of the show.

Mark Henry heels on The Big Show during a tag team title match. Predictably, Mark Henry goes heel. Nothing wrong with that. Henry’s a guy the fans love to hate. I’m interested to see if they turn the “Sexual Chocolate” chants into something that pisses Henry off. They might as well. The fans chant it every time he’s in the ring.

Images from wwe.com.

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Save Us Dean Ambrose, Plus WWE Hell in a Cell 2014 Predictions

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Ugh. This is like eating stale bread.

We are, indeed, in the midst of what has become WWE’s annual autumn slump. Most of what we’re seeing is either tired and stale, or simply uninteresting. With any luck, Brock Lesnar’s next title defense will be at Survivor Series, which means Paul Heyman will have a reason to be on Raw every week again. I’m guessing some of these older rivalries will end here, too. So hopefully Hell in a Cell will mark the end of the autumn slump. Because good lord, we’ve got a Bella vs. Bella match on this show. It doesn’t get much worse than this.

STIPULATION MATCH:
Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella
Loser must become the winner’s personal assistant. 

What’s worse than having one Bella in the ring? Having two Bellas in the ring. Just keep it as short and as painless as possible, okay? As for who wins…I really don’t care. I’ve been fast-forwarding or muting any segment involving a Bella for awhile now, and this match certainly won’t put a stop to that. But since this whole “personal assistant” stipulation obviously favors the heel, my instinct is to go with Nikki.

Rob’s Prediction: Nikki Bella
WINNER: Nikki Bella

WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Sheamus (c) vs. The Miz

I believe I’ve said this before, but it really speaks to how shallow the WWE roster is right now that United States Champion Sheamus and Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler essentially switched challengers this month. Last week it was Ziggler vs. Miz and Sheamus vs. Cesaro. This month Sheamus has Miz, and Cesaro is with Ziggler. And as much as I hate to say it, because I’m a Sheamus fan, the guy is cold as the U.S. Champion. He’s capable of turning in some really good matches. But his persona desperately needs to be tweaked. As such, despite how hot The Miz’s partnership with Damien Sandow is, this match really doesn’t mean much. How long has Sheamus been champion, anyway? *checks the stats* May 5. And even then, I was calling for a Sheamus heel turn. The other day on The Ross Report, Jim Ross fantasy booked a United States Title win for Rusev, followed by an embittered Sheamus turning heel. Sounds like great booking to me. And with Survivor Series coming up next month, what better time for Sheamus to drop the belt? But for that to happen, he’ll need to get through Miz this month. That shouldn’t be too tall a task. Damien Sandow pinned Sheamus this past week on Raw. So a Miz loss here would further the developing storyline between those two.

Rob’s Prediction: Sheamus
WINNER: Sheamus

WWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Goldust & Stardust (c) vs. The Usos

I’m just about ready for this one to be over. Both these teams have been lumped into six-man bouts in recent weeks, so we haven’t seen a lot of significant development in their rivalry. As such, they’ve gone pretty stale. So I say let this one die, and let’s find some new pairings. This one’s a toss up in terms of who wins, but I’m going to go with the Usos. They make great tag team champions, and think they’re the best duo to have against whatever up-and-coming teams may be on their way from NXT.

Rob’s Prediction: The Usos
WINNERS: Goldust & Stardust

WWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige

I’m ready for this one to be over too. I like the AJ/Paige pairing. But we’ve pretty much gone as far as we can go with the whole implied lesbianism thing. And bringing Alicia Fox into the story as Paige’s ally hasn’t brought anything too compelling into the story. So I say we just blow this one off, and let AJ move on to somebody else. As Paige and Alicia Fox have both been added to the next season of Total Divas, I’m not expecting them to go away any time soon. But my hope is that once she’s separated from the Divas Title picture, Paige doesn’t simply become another one of the girls.

Rob’s Prediction: AJ Lee
WINNER: AJ Lee

WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. Cesaro

The cool thing about this match is these guys don’t need to say much to one another to make things compelling. Their ring work and their athleticism largely speak for themselves. While their pairing does speak to the lack of depth on the roster right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good pairing. Quite frankly, this is what the Intercontinental Championship should be about. It should be the worker’s title. And a 2-out-of-3 falls match is a hell of a way to showcase what great workers these two are. After Ziggler played championship hot potato with The Miz last month, I think it would do him good to keep the strap this month. Cesaro, of course, can come back to the well several times as far as I’m concerned. If these two are given the proper platform to perform on, they can do amazing things.

Rob’s Prediction: Dolph Ziggler
WINNER: Dolph Ziggler

The Big Show vs. Rusev

Oh c’mon. Like Rusev’s first loss is really going to go to the Big Show at an October pay per view? Yeah, right. Still, I’ll credit WWE with actually getting Rusev over as a dominant monster. Going through Big Show will do nothing but help him in that respect. As I said, I’d like to see him target Sheamus next, hopefully sooner rather than later. In light of current events, a Russian bruiser who captures the United States Championship could make for a hell of an act, especially with Lana doing the mic work. In any event, Rusev wins.

Rob’s Prediction: Rusev
WINNER: Rusev

STIPULATION HELL IN A CELL MATCH:
John Cena vs. Randy Orton
Winner gets a WWE Heavyweight Title shot. 

*sigh* John Cena vs. Randy Orton…again.

Even with their options somewhat limited as to who they can use on this show, it’s pretty ballsy of WWE to give us Cena vs. Orton on a pay per view in 2014. They got booed out of the building at the Royal Rumble. Why? It’s got nothing to do with their individual talents (at least from where I sit). It’s because we’ve seen this match so many times over the years. At this point, I’d say putting this match on a show actually detracts from a pay per view’s drawing power. I’ll say this much, WWE actually gave us a valid reason for putting Cena and Orton together: The winner gets a WWE Title shot. But then again, it was Dean Ambrose who defeated Cena to get into a cell match with Seth Rollins. So does it really make any sense?

In the end, I see Orton taking the win here, and hopefully moving one step closer to a babyface turn. Orton’s recent popularity on Vine may have sparked interest in a turn. But in truth, it seemed like Orton was moving that way already. And thankfully, an Orton turn would force WWE to shake things up a bit, and put some new dance pairings together.

Rob’s Prediction: Randy Orton
WINNER: John Cena

HELL IN A CELL MATCH:
Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose

If WWE is smart, this will be the last match on the show. Not only will Ambrose and Rollins outperform Cena and Orton, their rivalry is the only one in the company that’s actually worthy of the cell. They were in the Shield together for over a year, then Ambrose targeted Rollins and managed to have a hell of a lumberjack match at Summerslam. To top that off, Ambrose has created one of the most compelling characters in WWE right now, and has made himself the perfect foil for Rollins.

I really think Dean Ambrose needs a win here. Hell in a Cell is a great arena for him, and it makes sense for him to pull out a win here. Ambrose certainly wasn’t at the top of WWE’s list of future main event stars. But circumstances being what they are, they may have no choice but to go with Ambrose. And that, my friends, is a good thing.

Rob’s Prediction: Dean Ambrose
WINNER: Seth Rollins

Images from WWE.com.

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The Path to Brock Lesnar, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Another handicap match main event? Seriously? Filler, folks. That’s all we’ve been getting since Night of Champions. To make matters worse, injuries to the likes of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns have left us with a positively painful lack of depth on the roster. You’ve got the same guys (Orton, Rollins, Cena, etc.) appearing over and over again, which does nothing but lend to the notion that they’re just stretching things out for the 3-hour format. Here’s hoping the likelihood of Brock Lesnar main eventing Survivor Series will lead to some more compelling television in the weeks to come. Still, the show wasn’t without its bright spots.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Mick Foley makes surprise appearance during Dean Ambrose/Seth Rollins segment. These surprise appearances by guys like The Rock and Mick Foley are obviously being done to bring some buzz to some  shows that are otherwise not buzzworthy at all. But I’ll never say I’m not happy to see Mick on Raw. In all seriousness, he got the biggest reaction of the night, second only to cheap Kansas City Royals references. I won’t say the segment did much in terms of build up for the Rollins/Ambrose match. But Mick damn sure saved that segment. I see what they were going for, having Ambrose in there with a bunch of tools and a mannequin. But…no. It just wasn’t working.

Winner of John Cena vs. Randy Orton Hell in a Cell match will face Brock Lesnar for the title. This definitely helps this match from a drawing perspective. But we’ve still seen Cena vs. Orton so many times now, it probably won’t do any good in terms of the performance itself. I don’t have a good feeling about how the crowd is going to react to this one. We may see a repeat of the Royal Rumble, with the fans booing them out of the building.

Orton involved in four dialogue segments during the first hour of RawRandy Orton is a great wrestler, but he’s just not a good talker. I’m sorry, but he’s not. No matter what he’s talking about, it’s always the same boring, monotone stuff. He always comes off as heavily scripted (which he probably is), and it just doesn’t sound genuine. And that’s weird, because ad lib Randy Orton is usually pretty interesting. John Cena seemed to improv with him a bit during their segment (the whole Royals/World Series thing), and it brought out some more emotion and intensity in him. But everything else just feels like looking at and listening to a cardboard cut out.

“By the Numbers” vignette airs for Hell in a CellThis video package made me realize just how poorly Hell in a Cell has been promoted. Here you have a pay per view that features what many would consider the most dangerous match WWE puts on every year. It’s a match that’s given us so many great moments. And yet with less than a week left until the show, WWE is just now playing that up. A pair of Hell in a Cell retrospective segments each week might have not only helped with the pay per view vignette, but also emphasized the WWE Network really well.

Orton and Paul Heyman play up the “Class of 2002.” Yes, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, and John Cena all worked in Ohio Valley Wrestling together, and all made their main roster debuts in 2002. Myself and others have speculated about WWE going in this direction for some time. And it makes as much sense as anything else. If Randy Orton is staying a heel, then I suspect this idea will be part of the build up for a triple threat match between the three of them at Survivor Series. There’s another opening to incorporate the WWE Network.

Rusev assaults an “American soldier,” firing up The Big Show. About a month ago I said that nobody does the whole sappy, emotionally vulnerable promo quite like Mark Henry. But if anybody has him beat, it’s Big Show. Jeez, the two guys standing up for America are a little sensitive, huh? No wonder folks are clamoring for Kurt Angle.

So the thing with Rusev kicking a soldier, if he really was a soldier, didn’t do anything for me. Yes, it’s a very heelish thing to do. But the whole thing had a cheesiness to it that turned me off.

Damien Sandow pins Sheamus in a six-man tag. Well that’s pretty damn cool. The seed seems firmly planted for a Miz/Damien Sandow feud. And to his credit, The Miz gave an awesome reaction when Sandow got the pin.

Front page image, image 1, and image 2 from wwe.com. Image 3 from wwedvdnews.com.

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Cage Confusion, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This week, WWE seemed to realize their plan for Hell in a Cell sucked. So they made some changes…and yet it still kinda sucks. Still, we had some really enjoyable wrestling to see. So at least there’s that.

Thoughts From Raw:

John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose takes place on Raw, with Ambrose getting the win, and a Cell match with Seth Rollins at the pay per view. I was encouraged by the fact that the ridiculous “Contract on a Pole” match was pulled from the pay per view. I was even more encouraged when they made Ambrose the winner. Also, seeing him bite his way out of the STF was pretty cool. Rollins vs. Ambrose inside the Cell is a worthy pay per view main event, in my opinion. These guys have proven they can go, and WWE has done a fine job building Rollins as the guy the babyfaces are dying to get their hands on. Things seemed to be looking up, until…

Randy Orton to face John Cena inside the cage at Hell in a CellGod damn it. They screwed it up. Not only does this match ruin the novelty of the Ambrose/Rollins cell match, but people are sick of John Cena/Randy Orton matches. If they had to do something John Cena and Randy Orton in a cage, why couldn’t they have just added them to the Rollins/Ambrose match? It’s not ideal, I suppose. But just put all four guys in the cage, and let them have a wild brawl worthy of a pay per view main event! But no, instead we’ve got Orton and Cena for the 45th time. Blech.

WWE emphasizes tension between Orton and Seth Rollins. These segments were pretty good. Not only did we get some awesome wrestling, but we incited a fairly natural rivalry. Seth Rollins has been the most important person in WWE for the last several weeks. As I said last week, that makes Orton second banana, which should be unacceptable to someone like him. So who knows? Maybe a babyface turn is in the cards for Orton.

Rusev def. The Big Show via disqualification. So it looks like we’re headed for Big Show vs. Rusev at the pay per view, which isn’t surprising. And we might just get a Mark Henry heel turn out of it. I was surprised with how good the Rusev/Big Show match actually was. And I credit Show with that impromptu Tomahawk Chop motion he did to emphasize his own chop in the corner.

Damien Sandow gets a chant during Miz/Sheamus match. This whole “stunt double” persona Sandow has adopted may have been a blessing in disguise. The fans seem so into how entertaining he is in the role, that it may be the key to a babyface turn. From that perspective, a Miz vs. Sandow match is obviously a natural direction to go in.

Paul Heyman continues to be absent from RawI find it odd that Paul Heyman hasn’t been on Raw in the past several weeks. He has, however, been on Main Event and Smackdown. You’d think they’d have had him on Raw at least once to talk about Brock Lesnar, and give his perspective on things. He’s certainly been missed.

Justin Roberts released by WWE. Sad to hear that WWE chose not to renew Justin Roberts’ contract. Truth be told, he was probably the best ring announcer WWE has seen since Howard Finkel. Now that‘s saying something. The timing on the release is odd, though. The announcement was made immediately following Raw. Something seems fishy there.

Front page image, image 1 and image 2 from WWE.com. Image 3 from wrestling-edge.com.

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It’s The Rock!!! Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

WWE continues to work its way through their annual autumn slump. There’s certainly no shortage of things to improve upon these days. They did, however, give us a nice surprise this week…

The Rock makes a surprise return to Raw, confronting Rusev and Lana. This was a hell of a shock to say the least. It’s always nice to see The Rock out there doing his thing. It was undoubtedly the highlight of Rusev and Lana’s careers thus far, to be deemed worthy of being in the ring with Rocky. I’m not sure if this segment did the Big Show any favors, though. Now I’d be up for a Rock/Rusev match, as opposed to a Show/Rusev match. Still, it was a nice shot of adrenaline into a pretty lackluster show.

John Cena def. Seth Rollins, Randy Orton & Kane via DQ. I like how WWE has essentially made Seth Rollins the man to beat while Brock Lesnar is off TV. Even though the WWE Champion is gone, John Cena and Dean Ambrose still have somebody to chase. Literally and figuratively. But the added emphasis on Rollins puts Randy Orton in a peculiar position. In the context of the whole Authority faction, he was originally the golden boy. Triple H and Stephanie’s chosen champion. But now it seems like the emphasis is shifting to Rollins, which essentially makes Orton a lame duck. For a guy like Randy Orton, that’s not a good place to be in. Can’t we give him something to do? Maybe they’ll put him with Ambrose after Hell in a Cell. That might be interesting.

Dean Ambrose to wrestle John Cena at Hell in a Cell, winner gets Rollins in the cage. Word had broke about something like this going down at Hell in a Cell, so it’s not that surprising. Still, a John Cena/Dean Ambrose match has plenty of intrigue to it. My only hope is that they don’t put the loser with Randy Orton later in the show, as was reported. Again, that makes Orton look like a lame duck.

Cena and Ambrose exchange words in the ring mid-showOddly enough, Jerry Lawler once compared Dean Ambrose to The Joker. It sounds weird, but it makes sense if you think about it. You never know just what the guy’s going to say or do. That makes for a hell of a character. He’s also been compared to Roddy Piper, Brian Pillman, and the like. But either way, he’s somebody the WWE needs right now. He’s one of the few breaths of fresh air on Raw these days.

Wyatt Family vignettes continue to air, spotlighting Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Keeping Bray, Harper, and Rowan off TV for a bit is a good move, in my opinion. They’d been so prominently featured in recent months, and scaling them back will hopefully make the fans anxious to see them again. We might as well bring them back as babyfaces at this point. Why fight it?

Jack Swagger def. Tyson Kidd. Loved seeing Tyson Kidd and Natalya together on Raw again. This is a way for both husband and wife to get over on a whole new level. Make Tyson the whiney heel who’s jealous of his wife’s fame, similar to what Marc Mero and Sable did all those years ago. It makes perfect sense, and with Total Divas airing new episodes, there’s no better time to milk this angle than now. Here’s hoping Tyson finally gets a decent shot at stardom.

Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb do an in-ring segment with Adam Rose. Eh, could have been worse. Smart move by WWE to play Rose’s music during this segment to drown out the boos.

In contrast, I was really proud of those Brooklyn fans for showing Joan Lunden such respect during her little speech. Good form.

Dolph Ziggler & The Usos def. Cesaro, Goldust & Stardust. The best match of the night, for my money. The Brooklyn crowd was hot for Ziggler, and rightfully so. As far as Ziggler reinvigorating the IC Title picture, I always look forward to seeing his matches. And as such, I always look forward to seeing the Intercontinental Champion perform. That’s how it should be, right?

Fans chant “This is stupid!” during El Torito/”Mini-Gator” match. Vince Russo was on a podcast recently, and made an interesting point regarding these kinds of segments. When WWE puts these kinds of matches together, they need to consider who’s up and watching TV at this time of night. If I’m your average 18-34 year-old male, and I have the choice between watching a football game and seeing something like this, I’m leaning toward football. These kinds of matches need to be saved for the WWE Network, and not the company’s flagship show.

The Miz def. Sheamus. The fact that Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus essentially swapped dance partners this month really illustrates the lack of depth on the roster right now. Last month Sheamus had Cesaro, so now he has Miz, and vice versa. Sheamus desperately needs something to freshen him up from a character standpoint. He consistently turns in good matches, but his character has become unbelievably bland. Can’t they do something to freshen him up?

Images from WWE.com.

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Roman Reigns, Character Assassination, and Other Ponderings from WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

WWE shows footage of Roman Reigns after emergency hernia surgery. NO!!! No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! You do NOT show footage of Roman Reigns drugged up and in a hospital bed! You do NOT do that! You’re killin’ the guy off!!!

*sigh* Alright, let me dive into why this INFURIATED me so damn much.

Roman Reigns was being built as the WWE’s next top guy. And for my money, he was (and could still be) a viable candidate. But WWE can’t necessarily make Reigns into the next John Cena, because they’re cut from very different clothes. Reigns can’t be the all-American, “Never give up, kids!” superhero that Cena is, because that’s not his character. Reigns has a nice bad ass vibe going for him, between his look, his demeanor, and his ring work. Reigns runs into trouble when he gets on the mic, not just because he hasn’t developed a solid promo yet, but because his character shouldn’t talk much. His visage and his actions do his talking for him. He’s got a quiet, foreboding aura about him that makes for a great babyface with a bit of edge.

But showing Reigns in a hospital bed, especially while he’s still on his way up, spoils all that because it kills his vibe. It humanizes his character in a way they shouldn’t be doing yet. If you want to milk this injury on the WWE Network, fine! Have your on-air talent talk about it, talk to the doctors, talk to the trainers about what the injury is, etc. But don’t friggin’ show him in the hospital! This is supposed to be our next big hero! And few things kill a hero’s image quite like a hospital gown.

Dean Ambrose returns to Raw following Night of Champions comeback. The use of Ambrose on this show was a great breath of fresh air. Speaking of auras, he’s got that great unpredictability about him. He’s so good on the mic, and at times he seems so spontaneous (i.e. hanging on to the car while Rollins was driving away), he’s just so damn entertaining. And the possibility of an Ambrose/Cena match is definitely intriguing.

John Cena faces Randy Orton in the Raw main event. I had literally no interest in this match. None. No offense to either man, but this is 2014. We’ve seen John Cena wrestle Randy Orton countless times over the years. You simply couldn’t garner my interest for another match between the two, and I think that’s the general consensus of the fanbase. You’d think what happened at the Royal Rumble would have been enough to let WWE know that.

Dolph Ziggler def. The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Was unpleasantly surprised (as WWE likely wanted me to be) that Miz took the Intercontinental Championship back from Dolph Ziggler at the pay per view, and slightly confused to see Ziggler simply regain it 24 hours later. To both men’s credit, they’ve at least got me invested in their rivalry, despite how lackluster it was in the weeks following Summerslam. One can certainly argue whether this program is helping make the IC title “matter” again, especially with the hot potato title changes. But at the very least, I wanted to see Ziggler take it back, which he did.

Mark Henry apologizes for losing to Rusev at Night of Champions. Mark Henry probably cuts one of the best sappy, emotionally vulnerable promos in the business right now. Whether he’s “retiring” or apologizing, sad Mark Henry is usually good Mark Henry.

Adam Rose & “The Bunny” def. Heath Slater & Titus O’Neil. Not sure how I feel about the whole “Bunny” as a wrestler thing. If we want to do an angle about just who it is under the suit, that might be interesting. But the novelty of a guy in a bunny suit wrestling is wearing thin.

Natalya & Rosa Mendes def. Summer Rae & Layla El. So Summer Rae is a heel again, huh? Because of Total Divas? Alright sure. Whatever.

Image 1 from wrestlingrumors.net. Image 2 from top2best.com. Image 3 and 4 from wwe.com.

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The Fall of the Roman Empire? Plus, A Look At WWE Night of Champions 2014 (UPDATED w/ RESULTS)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So we’ve got no Roman Reigns for this show, huh? Meh. I can live with that. Reigns wasn’t really a major element in this show’s drawing power. Come to think of it, this match only has one thing going for it in in that respect: The John Cena/Brock Lesnar rematch. However, Reigns’ injury does create an interesting opportunity. He was originally set to face Seth Rollins, right? Seems like a heck of a chance to bring Dean Ambrose back, doesn’t it?

In any event, let’s look at what we’ve got here…

WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Sheamus (c) vs. Cesaro

At this point, why not just give the belt to Cesaro? Sheamus’ run with the title hasn’t made him more relevant, and it certainly hasn’t done anything for the title. So I say we just give it to Cesaro. The upside, of course, is that this could be a pretty good match. Make no mistake about it, both these guys can go. And I legitimately feel bad for both of them, because they’re both worthy of being higher on the card than this. They just seem to be stuck in limbo. But who knows? Maybe another US Title run will elevate Cesaro ever so slightly.

Rob’s Prediction: Cesaro
WINNER: Sheamus

WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Dolph Ziggler (c) vs. The Miz

I been a fan of what these guys have been doing since Summerslam, what with the “private” photo leak angle, and then adding R-Truth to the mix. It seems cheap. Why not play up the diversity in their credentials? At one point, Ziggler set a record for amateur wrestling victories at Kent State University, and was scouted by WWE. In contrast, Miz went the reality TV route. It’s great storytelling material. But unfortunately we got bad attempts at humor. I see Ziggler retaining here, hopefully continuing what should be a pretty lengthy reign with the IC Title. Ziggler could help re-establish that title as the worker’s title, and how freakin’ cool would that be?

Rob’s Prediction: Dolph Ziggler
WINNER: The Miz

TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR WWE DIVAS TITLE:
Paige (c) vs. AJ Lee vs. Nikki Bella

They’re going to make Nikki the champion. They just are. They’re going to take the title away from two genuinely talented women, and give it to the mannequin that looks and talks like a Kardashian. Am I mean? Maybe. But I’m also right, aren’t I? I suppose theoretically they could have Brie come out and cost her the title. But having Nikki win the title would tie into Total Divas quite nicely, as would the inevitable Brie vs. Nikki match for the belt. I’ll say this much for Total Divas, it’s prompted WWE to make their women’s division a priority. They’re doing it all wrong, but at least it’s a priority.

Rob’s Prediction: Nikki Bella
WINNER: AJ Lee

WWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Usos (c) vs. Goldust & Stardust

I like that the Usos have helped make the tag belts matter a little more. They’ve held them since March, and consistently defended them against credible opponents. What I don’t like is that they made Goldust & Stardust (as opposed to “Gold & Stardust, which sounds ridiculous) go heel for this program. I can only assume the reason is because WWE doesn’t want them getting more cheers than the Usos. Fair enough, I suppose. But it just seems forced. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them go babyface again the next night on Raw. The Usos will keep the belts here, of course, and hopefully keep them until an upstart team from NXT comes up to challenge them. It’s going to be The Ascension, right? That’s what I keep hearing…

Rob’s Prediction: The Usos
WINNERS: Goldust & Stardust

Mark Henry vs. Rusev

Imagine my surprise when the “Mark Henry rallies America” segment main evented Raw this past week. Supposedly they had Cena, Heyman, and Lesnar in the middle of the show to combat Monday Night Football. But one would’ve thought they’d choose to end the show with Reigns and Rollins. But no, instead we got more America vs. Russia. I’ll say this for Rusev: I buy him now. He’s no longer just a big brute who’s incapable of emoting. With his massive size, his athleticism, and Lana’s help, he’s become a genuine player. And no doubt he’ll continue to be one after he goes through Mark Henry at Night of Champions. Hopefully they keep this one short and sweet, though. I’m not expecting much in terms of quality.

Rob’s Prediction: Rusev
WINNER: Rusev

Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton

Here’s a throw together match if I’ve ever seen one. How did this one start, again? Orton attacked Jericho two weeks ago because “It’s the season premiere!” Yeah, nothing lazy about that. I’ll be interested to see if these two go at it again next month at Hell in a Cell, or if Jericho is tapped to be Brock Lesnar’s next challenger (more on that in a bit). Either way, I suspect Jericho will come out on top here. He’s lost to Bray Wyatt in two big matches. I’d say he’s due for a win.

Rob’s Prediction: Chris Jericho
WINNER: Randy Orton

WWE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Paul Heyman

This should be the match we thought we were getting at Summerslam. The successor to the match we saw at Extreme Rules 2012. After the squash at Summerslam, Cena deserves to come out fighting in this one. And I’m sure they’ll give us something good. But make no mistake about it, Cena should lose again. There are rumors circulating about WWE putting the belt back on Cena, which I don’t see the logic in at all. The Brock Lesnar of 2014 should be the Brock Lesnar we should have gotten when he first came back. The monster no one can stop. The “Beast Incarnate” who holds the WWE Championship hostage, until a newcomer joins the fray and finally beats him. Until Wrestlemania XXXI, Lesnar should be undefeated. And it’s the job of guys like John Cena, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, or whoever they decide to put in front of Lesnar, to tell that story. Because it’s a good story. It’s a compelling and timeless story, really. And what we should see at Night of Champions is the next chapter of that story.

Rob’s Prediction: Brock Lesnar
WINNER: John Cena (by DQ)

Images from WWE.com.

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John Cena and Paul Heyman Sell the PPV, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Just a warning folks, this one consists of mostly complaints. I was not happy with Raw this week.

Thoughts From Raw:

Paul Heyman urges John Cena to “give in” to defeat Brock Lesnar. I wasn’t as thrilled with this segment as a lot of other people were. Mick Foley even took to Twitter and called it “Quite simply one of the greatest interviews ever!” Respectfully, I disagree. It had nothing to do with either man’s performance. It’s just that we’ve seen this segment before. It’s the whole “This is who I am, and I won’t change!” speech. Off the top of my head, I can think of four people he’s done this with: Kane, The Rock, CM Punk, and Daniel Bryan. Mind you, Heyman might have orated his side of it better than the others. But the fact is, this is a rerun. Still, it’s interesting to see Heyman and Cena in the ring together. And at this point, Lesnar vs. Cena is still a hot match. So it didn’t hurt the build up by any means.

Roman Reigns def. Randy Orton via disqualification. I don’t know what the deal is with this match. It bored everybody at Summerslam, and it bored everybody again on Raw this week. It just seems like these guys are wrestling in a vat of molasses every time they get together. I assume they’ll be wrestling at least one more time on pay per view, but at this rate a Randy Orton/Roman Reigns match might actually deter me from buying a show.

Jerry Springer returns to Raw, does an in-ring segment with the Bellas. Poor Jerry. He’s actually a very eloquent speaker. But this…this was just not good. As ever, this was like watching the popular girls in high school have an argument. Good lord, I just…don’t…care. And what’s more, I really don’t think the fans care either.

Also, “Brie Mode” will never be a thing. Ever.

Adrian Neville & Sami Zayn def. Tyson Kidd & Tyler Breeze. This was the best segment on the show, for my money. All these guys were obviously hungry, and they showed it to us this week. Neville seemed to be the stand out guy, and seemed to have won the crowd over. And here’s hoping they’re able to bring the Tyson Kidd/Natalya storyline they’re doing on NXT to the main roster once he’s ready to come back up.

Bray Wyatt def. Chris Jericho in a steel cage match. In all honesty, since the creation of Hell in a Cell, steel cage matches don’t really do it for me anymore. But Jericho and Wyatt pulled off a decent one this week. My only big complaint was Wyatt crab walking toward the cage door, which was more goofy than anything else.

Dolph Ziggler shows the world The Miz’s “leaked” photos. I’m usually a fan of Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Damien Sandow. But I wasn’t a fan of what they did here, especially in light of Melina and Velvet Sky being among the victims of this mass cloud hacking. I rain on what little humor this segment actually provided, but that’s where I’m at on this one. By the way, do we have to keep calling him Damien MIZdow? If we’re going to keep him with Miz, can’t he at least have his name back?

Images from WWE.com.

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Emasculating John Cena, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

The opening segment damn near kills the show. I hate to sound overdramatic, but that was in fact the case. Six man tags do so little for me anyway. But then to base it around the notion that Triple H doesn’t know if John Cena is really ready for Brock Lesnar at Night of Champions, after he friggin’ ran through the Wyatts last week, was nearly too much for me to take. I was worried the Raw broadcasts until Night of Champions would essentially be time killers, and this show did nothing to dissuade that. There was one bright spot to that opening segment though…

Triple H and Chris Jericho trade barbs during “Highlight Reel.” For whatever reason, Triple H likes to take little shots at the talent from time to time. We’ve seen these digs go toward top stars like John Cena, and even at virtually helpless ring announcers like Lilian Garcia. But occasionally, Hunter will get in there with someone like Chris Jericho, who doesn’t need to be in a WWE ring at this point in his career, and things get interesting. Granted, you can argue Jericho fired the first shot with the “shnoz” remark. But Hunter kind of kept things going needlessly. Either way, it’s refreshing to see talents who are unafraid to stand up for themselves and their characters when it becomes necessary.

John Cena lets Roman Reigns get the pinfall in the main event. So in a six man tag match where each man is supposed to be fighting to prove that he should be the top contender for the WWE Championship, Cena lets Reigns get the pin? Well, obviously it was to continue Reigns’ ascension toward main event level stardom. But from a character standpoint it made no sense.

Paul Heyman cuts a promo on the “emasculation” of John Cena at SummerslamWhile everybody else was essentially killing time, Paul Heyman was selling Night of Champions. I loved the direction he took things, and that’s the notion the whole show should have been built around. That could have fired up Cena, and prompted him to take charge in the main event. But instead they argued about whether Cena should really be the top contender.

The Miz (w/Damien Sandow) & Cesaro def. Dolph Ziggler & SheamusI actually like what Damien Sandow is doing as The Miz’s “stunt double.” Firstly, Miz got some nice heat out of the finish tonight. Secondly, it gives Sandow something do to other than wear silly costumes every week. And if they keep this duo together for awhile, it opens the door for a feud down the line. So what the hell, make Sandow a stunt double. Lord knows he’s played stranger roles this year…

Boredom with the Bellas, plus AJ and Paige. I was lucky enough to have gotten home late this week, so I was able to fast-forward through he vignettes where Nikki talked about “growing up Bella.” In terms of the in-ring segment, the acting was a little better this week, but it was still incredibly grating. I’m not exactly thrilled to see the intersection with Paige and AJ’s story, but this was obviously where it was going the whole time. I smell a triple threat match for Night of Champions. Paige vs. AJ vs. Nikki, and God help us, Nikki takes the title.

Incidentally, Stephanie vs. AJ? Yes please.

Goldust & Stardust continue to play heels against the Usos. Nope. Still not buying it. And if the chants are any indication (which they are, of course) neither are some of the fans. I maintain what I said last week. Goldust is too iconic for die-hard WWE fans to boo, and it’s silly for them to try and force the issue. But who knows? Maybe it’ll go somewhere good, and we’ll finally get to see the brothers fight. Though with the Bellas in a feud right now, it seems unlikely they’d go with another sibling rivalry program.

Images from WWE.com.

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Bella Twins, Bad Acting, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Jerry Lawler hosts “reconciliation” between Brie and Nikki Bella. First of all, putting Jerry Lawler in the middle of this is hilarious. His reputation with women notwithstanding, I think they just did that for the “Jerry!” chants, the Springer show and what not. Secondly, the only reason I didn’t keep this segment on mute was for reviewing purposes (your welcome). My God the Bellas are terrible. This was silly soap opera acting at its worst. “I wish you’d died in the womb.” Psssht. Give me a break…

The sad thing is, there is an okay story under all the bad acting. I can see what they want this to be. Nikki went through hell when Brie “quit” WWE to be with her husband, and now she’s turned on her because of it. There was actually a point to her whole ear-splitting rant. But, as is the case with most instances when the Bella Twins talk, the delivery ruined it. It’s nothing against Nikki and Brie personally. I admire the fact that they’ve been performing with WWE for so long. They just don’t have he chops to fulfill this story’s dramatic needs. It’s sad, really. Especially for the audience, because we have to endure a LOT more of this. We’ve presumably got a series of Bella vs. Bella pay per view matches on the horizon…

Three ridiculous things are said during the Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels panel discussion on Brock vs. Cena at Night of Champions:

1. Hulk Hogan: ”When it’s time, you know it’s your time.” This from the man who’s supposedly still trying to get in the ring again.

2. Shawn Michaels: “Everybody loves John Cena.” Really, Shawn? Everybody loves John Cena?

3. John Cena: ”I’m not going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar. I’m going to Night of Champions to beat Brock Lesnar’s ass.” Huh?

Goldust & Stardust seemingly turn heel on the Usos. This doesn’t make any sense. You’re going to try and get the fans to boo Goldust, a guy who’s been around for decades, and who probably has one of the best and most unique personas in the company’s history? I don’t get it.

WWE airs another interview package with Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. As usual, this was very effective. Paul Heyman must have a degree of creative input as far as what Brock is saying. How else could these be so good on such a consistent basis? I’d love to see Cena react to what Brock said about his dad and his childhood…

Cesaro def. Rob Van Dam, will face Sheamus for the United States Championship (presumably at Night of Champions). Remember when Rob Van Dam was the WWE Champion? Damn, that seems like a long time ago. On the plus side, Sheamus and Cesaro have had good matches in the past, and will likely give us another one whenever they end up facing off.

AJ Lee and PaigeLesbianism for a PG era. Oh c’mon. That’s exactly what they’re giving us. It’s Trish Stratus and Mickie James all over again, only now they’re PG so they have to imply everything. I did, however, like the image of AJ hugging an extremely reluctant Paige. The notion that Paige tried to out-crazy AJ and failed is an amusing one. And of course, AJ is always good with that kind of stuff. “My little English muffin.” Classic.

Seth Rollins and Kane face off against Roman Reigns. I’m a bit surprised we’re not getting more of Reigns vs. Orton, their rather dull match at Summerslam notwithstanding. Still, putting Rollins with Reigns makes creative sense, given their Shield backgrounds. But somebody needs to put in a memo to STOP using those damn fake cinderblocks. Cement doesn’t just crumble like sand when you throw it against cement. And it CERTAINLY doesn’t smash into a million pieces when you bash someone’s skull against it. The fact that Dean Ambrose wasn’t bleeding like hell last week as Raw went off the air put a major damper on his departure, in my opinion.

Rusev def. Jack Swagger. So Swagger loses to Rusev…again. I can only assume we’re building this up for one last match where Swagger finally does get the win, here. Otherwise, it seems like they’re killing him off…again.

Images from WWE.com.

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