Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

The Wyatt Family Unites, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

The Wyatt Family destroys John Cena in a 3-on-1 handicap match. This week’s main event was really strong. By putting the fans in control of the main event, the WWE got to almost gauge their support for both Cena and the Wyatts. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Bray once this program with Cena blows over. Clearly the fans are warming up to them. Is it too soon to make Bray Wyatt a bizarre and non-traditional hero figure, akin to the likes of The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, or Goldust? Or do we put him back with Daniel Bryan in the near future, and have him try his hand at a main event program?

I’m very curious as to how the creative process works for Bray Wyatt’s promos. How much does he come up with, and how much does creative come up with? How much is ad-libbed, and how much is scripted? I’m always curious about that kind of stuff, but his are especially interesting in that respect, as they’re so articulate.

Daniel Bryan appears on Raw, mere hours after his father passes away. Obviously WWE wrote around him this week, keeping him off the mic and writing him out of the show in the very first segment. Kudos to WWE for making the right decision. As a fan, I extend my condolences to Bryan, and my gratitude for being willing to come out on television despite the terrible circumstances.

Rob Van Dam def. Cesaro. I’m surprised to see RVD advance over Cesaro in the tournament to decide a number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship. Cesaro would have been a great choice, but he’s obviously got unfinished business with Jack Swagger. Hopefully, this feud will help decide whether Cesaro is indeed a heel, or the babyface that the fans want him to be. I maintain that if he’s a face, the alliance with Paul Heyman doesn’t make sense.

Bad News Barrett def. Sheamus. Along those same lines, it’s very interesting to see Bad News Barrett pick up a win over Sheamus. Sheamus has proven himself as someone who can consistently play a role in delivering some really good matches, and tonight was no exception. To his credit, Barrett has taken a persona that could have been a disaster, and made it work. The fans are into him, and that might bode well for him in the next couple of weeks.

“Rybaxel” joins the announce position during a match. Good Lord. Who the hell gave these guys headsets? One of them has no personality, and one of them has about half a brain. I’ll give Curtis Axel credit for at least trying to put his team over, though. What was that story Ryback told about his dad serving Mr. Perfect and Razor Ramon at a bar? What the hell has that got to do with anything?

Evolution and The Shield trade verbal barbs. The only gripe I have with this segment is with The Shield’s half. Ambrose kicked things off well, as one might expect. Reigns brought things to a nice, concise point. But Rollins seemed to lose his focus and get carried away. His part of the promo seemed to go about 30 seconds to a minute longer than it should have. Still, while this program doesn’t do any favors for Daniel Bryan’s main event profile, I can’t deny I’m interested to see this match at Extreme Rules.

Cody Rhodes pushes Goldust away after they lose to The Usos. THERE we go. That’s what I want to see. Plant the seed. Cody’s the heel, Dustin’s the face. Let’s do this!

El Torito pins Drew McIntyre in a six-man tag match. You know, I was actually mildly amused by the Hornswoggle vs. El Torito stuff. But ouch. So much for “The Chosen One.”

Mark Henry takes center stage in a promo for Slam CityIf only he’d been that dominant against Brock Lesnar…

Images from wwe.com.

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The Power of the Warrior, and Other Ponderings from WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As everyone knows by now, last Tuesday we lost the Ultimate Warrior to a heart attack. This week, WWE celebrated the life of the man born as Jim Hellwig with a tribute show. As a long time wrestling fan, I can tell you I’ve seen far too many of these tribute shows…

As someone who owns The Self Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, there’s definitely a certain surreal quality to seeing Hulk Hogan and Triple H praise Warrior, after seeing them tear him down on that DVD. But of course, it’s obviously great they buried the hatchet after all these years.

My heartfelt condolences go out to Warrior’s wife and children. What should have been an amazing week for them turned into an awful one , in literally the most tragic way possible. Perhaps the only solace they can take in this, aside from the fact that Warrior loved them very much, is that before he went, he was able to put smiles on his fans’ faces one last time.

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Stephanie McMahon sends Kane after Daniel Bryan. I don’t like this. Nothing against Kane, and Lord knows he’s got enough history with Bryan to justify a feud, but this should not be Bryan’s Extreme Rules program. That’s not a main event level feud. For my money, Kane has Batista’s job. Batista tapped out at Wrestlemania. Batista’s the guy with something to prove. Batista should be the one facing Bryan in some kind of gimmick match. But instead…

Evolution re-forms to attack The Shield. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Evolution re-forming. I just don’t know if now was the right time. Maybe after a Batista loss to Bryan at Extreme Rules, or something. It just seems like The Shield stands to benefit from Extreme Rules much more than Bryan does. Mind you, Bryan is the WWE Heavyweight Champion, so it’s not like he’s fading into obscurity. I just think Kane is a very weak choice for his first title defense.

WWE starts tournament to crown #1 contender for Intercontinental Championship. Given that he’s riding the momentum from Wrestlemania, I don’t see how the winner of this tournament could be anyone but Cesaro. I imagine he’ll subsequently defeat Big E. at Extreme Rules, and walk away with the gold.

Cesaro def. Mark Henry. Despite clearly heading down a babyface road, having aligned with Paul Heyman, Cesaro has apparently made an abrupt U-turn, and stayed heel. This week, Heyman did a great job taking the wind out of the sails of those who might cheer for Cesaro. I can only assume Heyman will, at least for the foreseeable future, be acting as Cesaro’s version of Ricardo Rodriguez. That’s not only a great way to make sure Cesaro stays a bad guy, but it’s a great excuse for Heyman to keep hitting it out of the park on the mic.

Sheamus def. Jack Swagger. So…because Cesaro is still a heel, I suppose that means Jack Swagger and Zeb Colter are simply moving on. That’s a little bit of a disappointment, considering we not only had all that build up, but Swagger and Cesaro could have undoubtedly had a great pay per view match. But hey, at least he had a solid match with Sheamus this week.

Bray Wyatt invites John Cena to “Come out and play.” Once Cena started with the comedy stuff, I KNEW the Photoshop bits were coming. But on the plus side, Bray Wyatt was successfully able to transfer is promos from the ‘tron to the ring, with a greater intensity and articulation than we’ve ever seen from him in front of a live audience. He’s getting better. Imagine how good he’ll be in a year…

Paige def. Alicia Fox. Can we give Paige a last name? And how about Emma, while we’re at it? And Lana? It almost seems sexist to simply call women by their first names (Sheamus notwithstanding). Incidentally, that kick Paige gave to Alicia Fox sounded nasty. As in, made me look up from my computer and actually pay attention to the match, nasty. I’m not as prone to do that when certain other girls are in the ring. And DAMN…what was that finisher called? A “modified scorpion cross lock?” Either way, it looks awesome. Paige is off to a nice start.

Speaking of Lana… I’m actually pretty partial to Lana, as opposed to Alexander Rusev. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his face just kills the whole “Bulgarian Brute” thing for me.

Vignettes continue to air for Bo Dallas. Until this week, I hadn’t seen much of Bo Dallas’ work on NXT. But I caught a little of his “Occupy NXT” segment, and I really enjoyed what I saw. This “Bolieve” thing sounds like a real heat magnet. I’m anxious to see  how he’s changed since we last saw him on the main roster.

Fandango & Layla def. Santino Marella & Emma. Layla is a good parter for Fandango. It makes great use of her dancing talents, and more importantly, it casts her in a heel role. Her voice is so damn grating that I find her impossible to cheer for in almost any capacity.

Images from WWE.com.

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WWE Reports The Ultimate Warrior Has Died

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

WWE has reported that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away.

The following is the official message from WWE.com

“WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior began his WWE career in 1987 and quickly went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan in an epic encounter. We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans. WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans. Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.”

The Ultimate Warrior, whose birth name was Jim Hellwig (he later legally changed his name to Warrior), just appeared on Monday Night Raw on April 7. He addressed his fans in the ring, going on one of his character’s famous tirades.

Image from orlandosentinel.com.

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Wrestlemania XXX and Raw: The Streak Dies, The Yes Movement Lives

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Well…there’s certainly no shortage of things to talk about, is there? All in all, Wrestlemania XXX was likely the best ‘Mania WWE has put on in at least three years. Needless to say, we ran the emotional gauntlet.

We’ll start with what everybody left Wrestlemania thinking about…

Brock Lesnar Breaks “The Streak,” and Pins The Undertaker. When ‘Taker was pinned, I was as shocked and horrified as everybody else. The faces in the crowd (as WWE wonderfully displayed) told the whole story. Nobody could believe it. It was unthinkable that The Undertaker could lose at Wrestlemania. As great as The Undertaker’s matches against the likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and CM Punk have been in recent years, for most “smart” fans, it’s always been a foregone conclusion that ‘Taker would come out on top, because that’s just what ‘Taker does at Wrestlemania. Why should this year have been any different?

Then the WWE, Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman, and The Undertaker shocked the world. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that moment where we all sat there in a state of stunned horror was actually a thing of beauty. Moments like that are what pro wrestling should always strive to be about. It got a visceral, gut reaction out of the fans, the likes of which we haven’t seen in years, if ever.

Just think about how you felt as the cameras filmed Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman leaving the ring, and then cutting back to ‘Taker over and over again, just laying there. In the moments that followed, The Undertaker slowly rose to his feet. And for the first time ever, we saw him in a way we’d never seen him before. For the first time ever, he was just a man. Not the “Lord of Darkness,” not the “American Bad Ass,” not the “Last Outlaw,” just a man. A man who’d just had his life’s work blemished in front of our eyes. And yet, the crowd applauded him. They gave him a standing ovation because despite his loss, they loved him. They loved him for what he gave to them. They still love him.

Could things have been different? Maybe even better? Sure. Should ‘Taker have lost to an up and comer, i.e. Roman Reigns or Bray Wyatt? Probably. Did Brock Lesnar deserve to be the guy who broke the streak? Maybe, maybe not. Was the match all that good? Eh, not really. But in the end, none of that really mattered. All that mattered were those few minutes after ‘Taker was pinned. THAT Wrestlemania moment will last a lifetime.

We also CANNOT disregard Paul Heyman’s role in the importance of what’s happened in the last few days. That promo on Raw may have been the best mic work he’s ever done. He had a fantastic line with: “Brock Lesnar is here to shock the WWE universe, and put tears in the eyes of children.” But also, the way he was rubbing the heat in the fan’s faces was amazing. When he slooooowley recited that 21-1 line, it was absolute magic.

So was this the last time we’ll ever see The Undertaker? I doubt it. I don’t think he’d want to leave the fans on such a downer. One thing’s for sure, a rematch would be money in the bank.

And hey, what’s this I hear about a man called Sting?

Daniel Bryan Wins the WWE Championship. Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, and Batista deserve a world of credit for not only having the match of the night, but for bringing the crowd back to life after the Brock/’Taker match essentially punched everybody in the gut. And I tip my hat a second time to Batista for tapping out to end a match that I suspect he was originally supposed to win.

But in the end, it had to be Bryan. I really don’t think they could have told the story any better. The match with Triple H was actually the second best match of the night, drawing a hell of a lot of heat for The Authority, while further cementing Bryan’s underdog status. To see him come back from everything and win it all is what Wrestlemania is all about.

So now the question is: What’s our main event for Extreme Rules look like? Also, how will The Shield, who are still babyfaces after Wrestlemania, play into things?

John Cena defeats Bray Wyatt at Wrestlemania, fans heavily cheer the Wyatts on RawBray Wyatt needs to stop saying the name of the town he’s in during his little intro. It gets him a pop, and he’s supposed to be a heel, right? You wouldn’t know it looking at the crowd from both Wrestlemania and Raw. They were actually singing “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands.” That’s awesome.

Should Bray Wyatt have beaten John Cena last night? Eh, maybe. In truth, it really didn’t matter who won that match. It’s obvious those two have at least one more pay per view match in them, and last night was really just about the initial impact between the two. As I made note of on Twitter, Bray getting into that crab position was a great little moment. I’m anxious to see what they do at Extreme Rules, as the stakes are only going to get higher from here.

Bad News Barrett def. Rey Mysterio. I used to think it was impossible for Rey Mysterio to be a heel. But has Rey ever had more heat than he’s had in 2014? Between taking a huge amount of the crowd’s hostility at the Royal Rumble, and then going out there against a very pro Bad News Barrett crowd, maybe Rey should bite the bullet and go to the dark side before he retires. Stranger things have happened…

Paige Wins the Divas Title From AJ Lee on RawUgh. Not a fan. Nothing against Paige. I really know nothing about her. But remember when they did this with Gail Kim? She won the Women’s Championship on her first night, and yet she never really caught on. Why would you give the title to a woman that none of the mainstream fans know yet? Seems like lazy booking to me. At least let AJ feud with her a bit. Or if you need to take the belt off of AJ, why not give it to Tamina?

On the plus side, I’m happy the New Orleans fans didn’t drown AJ with chants for CM Punk, even as she gave us a promo that was rather reminiscent of Punk’s run as WWE Champion. Yes, they were there. But they let her do her thing. She should be proud the fans respect her that much.

Cesaro Wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Becomes a “Paul Heyman Guy” on Raw. Well sheesh, had the fans known Cesaro was going to be in the battle royal, I’m sure a lot of them would have predicted a victory for him. But it certainly made for a great surprise regardless. What’s even more surprising is that he’s become the newest “Paul Heyman guy.” But Cesaro is most certainly a babyface at this point. So what does that make Heyman? Is he a heel when he’s with Brock, but a babyface when he’s with Cesaro? Is this leading to Heyman turning on Cesaro, and getting us to a Cesaro vs. Lesnar match? Now that would be a sight to see…

Rob Van Dam Returns to WWE, defeating Damien Sandow. I maintain that it would have been nice to see RVD at Wrestlemania in some capacity. But hey, better late than never.

Alexander Rusev def. Zack RyderStill not impressed with Rusev. Why don’t we just bring back Vladimir Kozlov? It’s basically the same character, but they threw in a blonde chick with an accent.

Steve Austin and The Rock Join Hulk Hogan in the Ring at WrestlemaniaObviously Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock being in the same ring at the same time was a hell of a way to kick off the show. But the weird thing is that it was almost overshadowed by Hogan saying “Silverdome” in his promo instead of “Superdome.” Yeesh, of all the times to flub a line. Still, he took the ensuing jabs like a champ. And he actually put a nice little band aid on the whole thing at the end when he emphasized “…and the Superdome…” in his closing line. He managed to come out of the whole thing unscathed. I’m not a big Hulk Hogan fan. But hey, credit where credit is due.

Vignettes air for Adam Rose. I’m getting sort of a Russell Brand vibe from Adam Rose, and I mean that in a good way. He’s got an interesting presentation, and I’m interested to see more of him.

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A Wrestlemania XXX Preview – The Hogan Factor, The Streak, and Daniel Bryan’s Journey

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Wrestlemania XXX. That’s a hell of an anniversary, and with luck, WWE will give us a hell of a show. There’s plenty of drama to be found in the upper card. The undercard looks okay at face value, but there’s still plenty of potential there.

One of the things that really interests me coming into this show is the Hulk Hogan factor. Much like The Rock did a few years ago, Hogan is “hosting” this year’s event. But what does that mean exactly? In The Rock’s case, it meant a big speech at the top of the show, some backstage vignettes, and interfering in the main event. For Hogan it could mean any number of things. I suspect we’ll get some backstage stuff from him as well, and hopefully he’ll be out there to introduce the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. But personally, I’m hoping we see Hogan come face-to-face with a man who was just announced for the show a few days ago: Stone Cold Steve Austin. We never did get to see Hogan vs. Austin at a Wrestlemania, but hopefully we’ll get a nice little moment between the two of them.

Hopefully we’ll get a lot of nice moments this year.

PRE-SHOW MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Usos (c) vs. The Real Americans vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel vs. Los Matadores

Swagger and Ryback took a pretty rough tumble down the card this year, didn’t they? Yes, it’s a title match. But it’s a pre-show match, which happens as fans are filing in, and Wrestlemania really isn’t in full swing yet. Cesaro especially deserves better than this, given the great year he’s had. Not much to say about this one. With the New Age Outlaws out of the title picture, this is basically just a throw-together match. I don’t see any reason why The Usos wouldn’t retain here, as they just got the belts, and have made themselves into a fairly hot tag team. Given the tension we’ve seen between Swagger and Cesaro, I can only assume the finish will involve them in some way. Swagger costs Cesaro the fall, or something of that nature. This would likely lead to them finally splitting up the next night on Raw. Either way, The Usos take it home.

Rob’s Prediction: The Usos
WINNER: The Usos

VICKIE GUERRERO INVITATIONAL FOR WWE DIVAS TITLE:
AJ Lee (c) and pretty much everybody else. 

So…how is this going to work exactly? It’s one fall to a finish, right? So are we going to have two girls in the ring while everybody else is on the apron, and different girls just tag in and out? Either way, I expect this match to come off somewhat messily. I’ll shakily predict AJ comes out on top, perhaps with a quick roll-up on Tamina, resulting in a feud between the two of them.

Rob’s Prediction: AJ Lee
WINNER: AJ Lee

The Shield vs. Kane & The New Age Outlaws

For my money Wrestlemania XXX will mark the end of The Shield. Ambrose and Rollins will either blatantly cost Roman Reigns the fall, or they’ll simply leave him on his own against Kane and the Outlaws. The latter could potentially provide a compelling underdog scenario for Reigns, allowing the fans to cheer him on in a three-on-one situation. But ultimately, Reigns would go down, and Rollins and Ambrose would wind up taking the Outlaws’ place as Kane’s resident enforcers. Hell, put ‘em in some suits to change their look, and they’d fit in nicely. I imagine their first assignment from Kane will to take care of Reigns in a two-on-one handicap match at Extreme Rules.

Rob’s Prediction: Kane & The New Age Outlaws
WINNERS: The Shield

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

There isn’t necessarily an obvious winner here, which is a good thing. Those three open spots are pretty conspicuous, and I’d be fairly surprised if one of them didn’t go to Rob Van Dam. He’s been rumored to come back the following night on Raw. But c’mon, it’s Wrestlemania XXX. Put him on the card. As for the others, your guess is as good as mine. But at the end of the day, this feels like a Big Show victory to me. Show has often been looked at as Andre’s successor. And while I don’t feel that’s the case, this would definitely be a nice medal for the big man. Would a victory be better suited for an up and comer, like say, Big E? Possibly. But a feel-good win for The Big Show would be cool. He’s certainly earned a Wrestlemania moment of this caliber.

Rob’s Prediction: The Big Show
WINNER: Antonio Cesaro

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

Mick Foley once called Bray Wyatt a “modern day master of the mic.” As a long time fan, I don’t necessarily agree with that. However Bray is definitely a compelling talker, and he’s stepped up his game immensely since he started this program with John Cena. They obviously have a great traditional good guy/bad guy chemistry. Bray’s promos, along with the stuff we’ve seen with the mask these past few weeks, have made for a really compelling build. In terms of predicting a winner, this is certainly the toughest one-on-one match of the entire night. But a victory for Bray would likely catapult him into the WWE Title picture in the next few months. And if there’s one thing that goes with a red hot babyface champion, it’s a red hot heel challenger. And if we’ve learned anything about John Cena, it’s that he can sustain a major loss and still be okay. So I say give the win to Bray.

Rob’s Prediction: Bray Wyatt
WINNER: John Cena

The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

Ah, The Undertaker. Wrestlemania‘s version of Old Faithful. We can definitely count on the Dead Man pulling out another win here. But I’m more interested in the kind of match these two are going to put together. Lesnar’s such a brute and a powerhouse, I’m wondering how the 49-year-old Undertaker is going to hang in there with him, and convincingly pull out a win. I’m curious to see if ‘Taker pulls the Hell’s Gate submission hold out of his repertoire against the former UFC Champion, and how Brock reacts if such a thing happens. Given the classics ‘Taker has helped steal the show at the past five Wrestlemanias. Here’s hoping he can make it six.

Rob’s Prediction: The Undertaker
WINNER: Brock Lesnar

STIPULATION MATCH:
Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan
Winner gets inserted into WWE Heavyweight Title Match. 

I love this match. Who would’ve thought that Bryan Danielson would be wrestling Triple H at Wrestlemania friggin’ XXX, and going over, no less. And indeed, he will be going over, because that’s where the drama in the main event is going to come from. Can our hero, Daniel Bryan, somehow defeat Randy Orton and Batista after going through a hellacious match with Triple H? If Brock and The Undertaker don’t steal the show, then I imagine this match will. The crowd alone could make it the highlight of the night. It’s the wrestling world’s favorite indy darling against the man who married Vince McMahon’s daughter, with the main event of Wrestlemania hanging in the balance. Hot damn, what a match.

Rob’s Prediction: Daniel Bryan
WINNER: Daniel Bryan

TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
Randy Orton (c) vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan/Triple H 

Considering how everything turned out, it’s amazing they ever considered Randy Orton and Batista going it alone at Wrestlemania XXX. Thankfully, the Royal Rumble is just a painful memory at this point. This scenario is 10 times more compelling. Orton has mostly been booked as a paper champion. Batista, on the other hand, looks like a sleazy douchebag, but one who’s more than capable of winning the Heavyweight Title on any given night. This, of course, leaves Daniel Bryan, WWE’s new ultimate underdog hero. There’s still a chance that WWE could swerve us and put the title on Batista, which I assume was their original plan. But if they want to give us the kind of magical moment that’s synonymous with Wrestlemania, they’ll give it to Bryan. And for the incredible journey he’s had this year, he deserves it.

YES! YES! YES!

Rob’s Prediction: Daniel Bryan
WINNER: Daniel Bryan

Front page image from postandcourier.com.

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Brock Buries The Undertaker, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

The Undertaker cuts a promo on Brock Lesnar, before the Beast gives the Dead Man an F5. Well, we knew Brock was going to come out on top this week. The whole thing’s been pretty one-sided up to this point. I can’t believe how trim The Undertaker looks, though. When he took off his jacket, I literally looked at my fiance and said: “The Undertaker is 49 years old. Can you believe that?”

With ‘Taker’s promo, I get where he was going with the whole “take you into deep water” metaphor. But he lost me with the “swim back to shore” thing. Good metaphor, not so good follow up.

By the way, did you folks catch that commercial for UFC Fight Pass featuring Lesnar? That did nothing to hurt the build up for ‘Mania, I guarantee you.

WWE Releases Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection. I was hoping there was going to be some sort of documentary/commentary element to this DVD. Needless to say, it’ll be very interesting to hear what Warrior has to say about his WWE career, especially when you consider what many of his old colleagues have said about him over the years (see The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior).

Vickie Guerrero reveals that Wrestlemania‘s Diva Invitational will be one fall to a finish. This whole match is lazy booking as far as I’m concerned. We haven’t built a solid rivalry between AJ and anyone else, so let’s just throw ALL the girls in there. This is the kind of thing they used to do with the Cruiserweight Division before it went belly up.

Daniel Bryan closes out Raw with an attack on Triple H. A perfect way to end Raw, sending fans into Wrestlemania rooting for the top babyface, as they should be.

Triple H cuts a final in-ring promo on Daniel Bryan and the “Yes Movement.” Triple H was really rubbing it in fans’ faces this week. As I mentioned last time, the whole “this generation” thing is a great point to harp on too. Even as a “smart fan,” it gets under my skin. It was also a good move putting Fandango over while using the whole “Fandangoing” fad from last year.  I am a millennial after all.

Did Batista actually get cheers when he cut Triple H off? That’s gotta be the first time he’s heard those since the Royal Rumble. I’ve got to admit, even I was glad to see him. How ironic. As so often happens, actually giving the fans the pleasure of booing someone they don’t like, actually makes that person more popular. They don’t like him yet, and they may never like him again. But he’s not getting “X-Pac heat” anymore. At this point, I’m actually looking forward to what’ll likely be a match between Daniel Bryan and Batista at Extreme Rules.

Also…and I’m just throwing this out there…wouldn’t it be cool if CM Punk cost Triple H the match with Bryan? I know, I know…it won’t happen. But wouldn’t it be cool?

Alberto Del Rio def. Big E. Del Rio officially has “X-Pac heat” with me. Supposedly he’s on his way out soon, and I won’t be shedding a tear. Nothing personal, I’m just tired of the same old act.

“Do I have your attention now, kids?” Another really good promo by Bray Wyatt this week. That line “Do I have your attention now, kids?” line was great.

Cody Rhodes & Goldust def. Fandango & Damien Sandow. During this match, the announcers talked about Fandango being an afterthought. But you know who really has a complaint in that respect? Cody and Goldust. Since they didn’t get to have their much-anticipated feud during Wrestlemania season, hopefully we’ll get to see them have a grudge match at Summerslam

Piper’s Pit turns into a preview of the Andre Battle Royal. It would have been a hell of a lot cooler to see Roddy do something with Triple H and Stephanie. But sadly I doubt they’d trust Steph in there with someone old school like that, especially after her in-ring segment with Dusty Rhodes last year. In any event, it’s always cool to see Piper on TV. Did they promote his appearance before the show? I don’t recall hearing anything about him being there beforehand.

Summer Rae def. Natalya. It usually irks me to see Natalya have to put over women who are less talented than she is. But I was alright with her jobbing to Summer Rae. The real-life Danielle Moinet has developed into a nice television character, and she’s interesting to watch (and not just because she’s hot). I’d be really surprised if we didn’t see her in the Diva’s Title picture sometime this year.

Fatal Fourway Tag Team Title Match moved to the Wrestlemania Pre-Show. Had a feeling one of the matches was going to be downgraded. It kinda stinks for those involved, but I’m glad it wasn’t the Andre Battle Royal, as it easily could have been.

Images from WWE.com.

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The Wyatt Family Dominates, Scott Hall Gets His Due, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

- John Cena “sees” Erick Rowan in a mirror as he prepares for a match. As good as some of the build up for the Cena/Wyatt match has been, that little moment was really lame. It reminded me of an old WCW segment where either Hulk Hogan or Eric Bischoff supposedly saw the Ultimate Warrior in a mirror. But if a wrestler is hallucinating and seeing another wrestler in a mirror, how can a worldwide television audience also see the hallucination? It doesn’t make sense. Fail.

Still, the image of Cena wearing that sheep mask was a really powerful one as we build toward Wrestlemania.

- The Undertaker emerges from a casket to attack Brock Lesnar. We went off the air with some classic Undertaker, i.e. the whole popping out of the casket routine. An oldie but a goodie, if used in the proper fashion. On a side note, Lesnar needs to find a way to control his voice when he’s shouting. That high-pitched squeal that tends to happen during an intense moment really sticks a knife into the whole “Beast Incarnate” thing.

- Scott Hall/Razor Ramon announced as the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2014. Fans have been anticipating Hall’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame for weeks now, so this really isn’t a surprise. But it’s interesting that they’re choosing to focus solely on his run as Razor Ramon in WWE, as opposed to his career overall. He was, after all, one of the founding members of the n.W.o. in WCW. The only explanation I can think of is that they’d rather not spotlight what was really the beginning of his downward spiral, which occurred during his time there. Either way, it’s nice to see Hall get his due. Despite some of the not-so-great things he’s done over the years, his place in wrestling history can’t be denied. He obviously had some great matches with Shawn Michaels. But he also did some good work with Bret Hart, Sean Waltman, and Jeff Jarrett, among others. And of course, the fact that he’s been able to get sober after such a lengthy struggle with alcoholism is almost worthy of the Hall of Fame itself.

- Triple H calls for the beginning of the “Reality Era.” Really strong promo from Triple H, as he continued to expertly play the villain. I particularly enjoyed it when he called the fans “soft” and “apathetic,” which of course they’re not. But of course, any time Triple H antagonizes the fans, some of whom have been so hard on him for years, there’s that added bit on intrigue there. The build up for his match with Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania has been really strong.

- The Miz interrupts Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Joe Manganiello in the ring. Normally, this type of segment would have been booed out of the building. But because it’s Arnold, it gets a pass. Did Hogan say “Joe Magnioli?” You know your English needs some work when Arnold Schwarzenegger can pronounce something correctly, but you can’t.

So it looks like we’ve officially got heel Miz back. Thank God for that. Hopefully he can regain some of his old thunder. Of course, getting beat up by two guys over 60 years old isn’t going to help.

- Christian def. Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, and Alberto Del Rio in a fatal fourway match. While the crowd was really pro-Ziggler during this match (as they should be), Sheamus put on a heck of a show in his own right. The fall away slam on Christian into the barricade was a nice spot, and I was really impressed with the one-armed Irish curse backbreaker on Alberto Del Rio. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Sheamus is more than capable of putting on an awesome match on any given night.

- The Big Show def. Titus O’Neil. The way I see it, The Big Show is the favorite to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Although I don’t see Show as Andre’s true successor (that title goes to The Undertaker), a win here would be a fitting medal for him.

- Sin Cara is accompanied to the ring by Scooby Doo. Great. As if Sin Cara didn’t have enough problems being taken seriously.

Front page image, image 1, image 3, and image 4 from WWE.com. Image 2 from allwrestlingsuperstars.com. 

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Triple H Raises the Stakes, CM Punk Talks Dead, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Talking Dead with CM Punk this week. I don’t want to say it was “too painful,” but seeing him on that show irked me. Yeah, I get it. He’s CM Punk, he plays by his own rules, he bucked the system, etc. Nobody needs to sell me on respecting CM Punk. But as a wrestling fan, I don’t think it’s wrong to feel awkward about the whole thing. We watched Punk on WWE TV for years, and then he suddenly disappeared without a trace. And the next time we see him is on Talking Dead?

In a way, I guess it’s fitting. Punk has made no secret that he finds a certain enjoyment out of pissing people off. And he’s definitely managed to do that on his way out of the wrestling business.

Thoughts From Raw:

- Triple H Potentially Inserts Himself into Wrestlemania Main Event. I don’t see anything wrong with this. If Bryan wins, he’s in the main event, so attaching that same stipulation to a Triple H win makes sense, and it adds more drama to the match. But there’s no way Hunter will take it. Wrestlemania XXX will be Bryan’s night, as it should be.

- John Cena to “Fight For My Legacy” at WrestlemaniaReally strong, focused mic work from both John Cena and Bray Wyatt. They sold me on their feud, and the core issue between them. It’s not just about good guys and bad guys. It’s Bray’s reality against John’s reality. It’s about Bray questioning Cena’s genuity and his authenticity, and Cena fighting for what he believes in. Those are great roles to cast these guys in, and I’m officially psyched to see what their match brings.

- Carlos Colon and Mr. T announced for WWE Hall of Fame. Both these guys are deserving. Mr. T for his role in the first two Wrestlemania events, and Colon for his awesome career as both a wrestler and a promoter. My only question is, if they have Primo (Carlos’ son) induct him, is he going to have to go out there in some version of his ridiculous Los Matadores costume?

- Arnold Schwarzenegger Announced for Next Week’s Show. Arnold doing the “Yes!” chant was one of those rare stumbled-upon moments of Raw hilarity not seen since William Shatner sang ”Sexy Boy” in 2010. The timing certainly couldn’t be better, with Wrestlemania around the corner.

- Scooby Doo Announced for Next Week’s Show. *vomit* What can I say? I was never a Scooby fan.

- Batista Costs Randy Orton a Match with Daniel Bryan. In terms of Batista, there seemed to be a bit of an “Awww, he’s not so bad,” vibe in San Antonio this week. They even gave him the “One more time!” chants after he powerbombed Orton. I maintain what I’ve said about the guy’s wrestling ability, and how his act got stale over the years. But in terms of his Royal Rumble victory and his involvement at Wrestlemania, the guy was simple in a no-win situation, plain and simple.

- The Real Americans def. The Usos. So it looks like it’ll be the Real Americans getting a tag title shot at Wrestlemania instead of the New Age Outlaws. It’s a little disappointing that we won’t get to see Road Dogg and Billy Gunn get one last Wrestlemania. But on the other hand, the Real Americans, Cesaro specifically, are hot right now. So it makes sense to give the match to them.

Christian Strikes Back at JBL’s Commentary. “You look like David Spade in a fat suit.” Classic. Of course, Layfield hit him back with a “Can we get a blue dot over Christian’s commentary?” That’s a reference to Vince McMahon at one point wanting to put a blue dot over Christian’s face on television. Casual fans didn’t know what the hell he was talking about, but okay…

- The Shield Turns Babyface and Attacks Kane. I like the surprise babyface turn not just by Roman Reigns, but the entire Shield faction. I don’t think Roman Reigns is quite ready to stand on his own just yet, and it might benefit him to have a little more time to cook. They can always have Ambrose and Rollins turn on him later if they want to. But for now, this is good. I’m interested to see what they do with the Shield as a babyface rebel faction, assuming that’s where they’re going with this.

Paul Heyman Says The Undertaker is Falling Victim to Father Time. WWE has indeed made The Undertaker look weaker in recent years. Since Wrestlemania XXVII, his matches at the big dance have been shaped so it looks like he’s had to fight a lot harder. Whether it’s intentionally been done that long or not, incorporating it into the Wrestlemania XXX build up is an excellent move. How will this battle-hardened icon fare against the “Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar?

The Bella Twins Join the Announce Position During Divas Tag Match. Even in a match that saw Tamina seemingly plant the seed for a babyface turn against AJ, you can’t possibly expect me to not fast-forward through a match where the Bellas are on commentary. You just can’t.

The Big Show Announced For Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Show take it. It’s a fitting medal for him.

WWE Debuts Footage from WWE Slam City. You know what my biggest impression of this cartoon is? The fact that the John Cena character is wearing a hat that says “Greasy Lube.”

Image 1 from sescoops.com. All other images from WWE.com.

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Daniel Bryan Sets the Stage for Wrestlemania, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

A couple of things to discuss before we get into Raw

So we’ve finally got a mini-development in the saga of CM Punk. He’ll apparently be appearing live this Sunday on an episode of AMC’s Talking Dead. Reportedly, he’ll be using his real name, Phil Brooks. Go figure, Punk is finally going to break his silence, and not only is he not going to be talking about WWE or wrestling, but the guy who gets the interview is Chris friggin’ Hardwick. Ugh…

In other news, Zack Ryder has a new YouTube show entitled “Zack Ryder’s Last Rezort.” The show looks like it’ll be more serious in nature, as opposed to “Z: True Long Island Story.” As he was with his old show, the real-life Matthew Cardona Jr. is in a position where he really has nothing to lose. He’s never been what I would call a great hand in the ring, but he did manage to entertain wrestling fans via YouTube, and as such he earned their respect. It’s still unbelievable  to me that the fans were chanting for him at Survivor Series 2011 in Madison Square Garden, when The Rock was standing in the middle of the ring after his first match in years. That’s how powerful the so-called “Ryder Revolution” was at that time. But through a combination of bad booking decisions, and Ryder perhaps not having enough of an edge, his push fizzled out.

Is this Ryder’s chance to regain some of that lost momentum, and perhaps jumpstart his WWE career? Eh, maybe. I think the fans still like Zack. But at this point, it may be too little, too late. And if that’s the case, he’s got nothing to be ashamed of. Most wrestlers are lucky to get a fraction of the support he got from the WWE fans at the height of his popularity. Hell, in terms of fan support, one might even say Zack Ryder was the Daniel Bryan of 2011. So my hat’s off to him, and I hope his “Last Rezort” ends up working out.

Speaking of Daniel Bryan…

Thoughts From Raw:

- The whole “Occupy Raw” thing was pretty damn cool. That sea of gray t-shirts made for a great visual, and hopefully a Raw moment that fans will remember for years to come.

But more importantly, the stage has finally been set for Wrestlemania XXX, and it’s what many of us have suspected for a few weeks now: Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H, with the stipulation being that if Bryan wins, he gets added to the main event. Was this the plan from the get-go? Probably not. But at this point, who cares? In the end, WWE did right by the fans. That’s what’s important. Now both Batista and Orton can be the heels, and Bryan can be the ultimate underdog.

What’s cool about this set-up is that in a way, it mimics both Wrestlemania X and Wrestlemania XXX. At X, both Bret Hart and Yokozuna pulled double duty. And at XX, we obviously had a triple threat main event. So to an extent this feels like a progression.

- I’d like to think the situation between CM Punk and WWE hasn’t adversely affected AJ Lee’s career. But considering she was recently beaten by Natalya, was pinned by one of the Bella Twins on Raw, and now has a title match coming up against Natalya on the newly live WWE Main Event…well, you get the idea. The women’s division may be about to turn into a Total Divas commercial. If that turns out to be the case, it truly sucks for AJ, considering how talented and unique she is, and how she’s ultimately been carrying the entire division on her back since she won the title. But if she has to drop the belt to someone, I’m glad it’s Natalya.

- Christian and Sheamus had a really good fight this week, and that Brogue Kick through the drum was a hell of a finish. Assuming they go with a match between these two at Wrestlemania, that match made for a hell of an appetizer. I wouldn’t be surprised if this culminated in a pay per view match where Christian’s career is on the line, and ultimately ends. He’d definitely be going out at the top of his game, as this match proved.

- The “Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal,” huh? Well sure, why not? They tend to have a pre-show battle royal before Wrestlemania, right? So why not put it on the show and use it to get somebody over? And I like the use of it as a tribute to Andre. However, I’m disappointed to read that Big E. in in the match. I was hoping, as always, to see the Intercontinental Championship defended at Wrestlemania.

- Not much to say about the Hulk Hogan/John Cena/Wyatt Family stuff. We knew Cena and Bray Wyatt would end up facing one another at Wrestlemania. And of course, it was only natural that Hogan and Cena end up in the ring together at some point. The only question now is whether Hogan continues to have a foot in the Cena/Wyatt feud. My guess is he will.

- On the subject of Bray Wyatt, I maintain that he needs to do a little less shouting during his promos, and be a bit more spooky and methodical. The scariest part of that pre-taped promo they did this week was Erick Rowan looking into the camera, and through the mask saying “Run.” It’s that creep factor that makes this group so interesting to watch, especially against a superhero character like John Cena.

- When the internet started to buzz that The Undertaker had an “announcement” to make this week, I was actually wondering if he was going to announce his retirement after Wrestlemania XXX. Amid all the questionable decisions WWE has made lately, tossing ‘Taker’s retirement match on top of everything would have been the kicker to end all kickers. I feel like we dodged a bullet there…

Image 1 from amctv.com. All other images from WWE.com.

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Still Pining For Punk, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

- So there it is, then. No CM Punk. Not this week, and not at Wrestlemania XXX. I’ll give WWE credit for two things: They acknowledged the elephant in the room right away, and they picked the perfect guy to do it with. Paul Heyman’s promo was beautifully done. He sucked us in, and then he heeled on the fans and turned the whole thing into a segment about Brock and The Undertaker. So my hat’s off to him for that…

Still, this sucks. That’s really all I have to say about it at this point. I’m not particularly mad at Punk or WWE. It just really sucks that a man who has contributed so much to mainstream wrestling in recent years, who ultimately did break through the company’s glass ceiling, and who the fans in Chicago were screaming for, is apparently gone. And he’s going to miss out on a landmark Wrestlemania. It sucks. It really, really sucks.

Also, AJ Lee, Punk’s real-life girlfriend, was conspicuous by her absence this week. No doubt her match would have been showered with chants for him.

*sigh* But moving on…

- While the fans seem to have lost the battle for CM Punk, we seem to have won the Daniel Bryan fight. Batista’s heel turn, combined with all this drama about Bryan not being Wrestlemania-worthy seems to be an indicator that Bryan will help close out the big night. My only questions at this point regard the specifics of how he’ll get there.

- HA! The return of the “Asshole!” chant! I missed that!

- I was surprised that Batista’s big heel promo took place on Smackdown, which obviously has a significantly smaller audience than Raw does. Still, he’s saying all the things the fans seem to be wanting him to say: Bryan’s not a star, he’s what a champion is supposed to look like, etc. Batista is so much more natural as a heel, and you can tell he’s having more fun that way. So kudos to WWE for bringing back “Heeltista,” the Batista I wanted to see back from the very start.

- So the Usos win the WWE Tag Team Titles not at Wrestlemania, but on Raw a month beforehand? Is this so we can pull back the curtain on the live episode of Main Event and see the Authority ultimately wants the Outlaws as champions? Why didn’t they just take the straps at Elimination Chamber, then? Did they do it to counter the crowd’s negativity over CM Punk? Why are we getting belt changes on TV shows instead of pay per views? Still, the Usos deserve the belts. You can’t deny that. They’ve earned the right to call themselves the tag team champions.

- Jeez, Mark Henry just can’t catch a break, can he? The man who was once a monster heel is now fodder for Brock Lesnar. No disrespect to Lesnar, but Henry deserves better. In a perfect world, these guys would get a pay per view match. They don’t even have to give Henry the win, but at least he’d be able to get more than one offensive move in.

- William Moody, a.k.a. Paul Bearer, is definitely a worthy addition to the WWE Hall of Fame. Oddly enough, when I think of that character, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t his work as The Undertaker’s manager. My most vivid Paul Bearer memory is what I’ll refer to as the promo about “The Undertaker’s secret,” which of course, turned out to be the seed that grew into the debut of the Kane character. I’ve embedded the promo below. As you’ll see, Moody was a hell of a performer, and a bona fide Hall of Fame talent.

- Dolph Ziggler got a great rub from Aaron Paul tonight. And likewise, sending Paul out there with Ziggler made sure the guy didn’t get eaten alive by the crowd, or at least drowned in “CM Punk” chants.

- Fantastic six-man tag tonight between The Wyatt Family and The Shield. I was happy to see Seth Rollins at the center of the dissention we saw in the Shield. It certainly can’t all be about Roman Reigns, can it? That sequence of aerial maneuvers was just amazing. He became his own human highlight reel.

- During the Sheamus/Christian match, the announcers took shots at Jim Ross, and have Christian some snark about his body. We know you’re there, Vince. We can hear you…

All images from WWE.com.

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