Archive for the ‘Bell to Bell’ 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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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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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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The Biggest Fight of the Summer. Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

WWE airs Cena vs. Lesnar video package, featuring interviews with both men. I always love when they do produced interviews with Brock this way. This is the only way we should ever hear him talk. He doesn’t have the pressure of being in front of a live crowd, the producers can try different takes, different lines, etc. He can be a really effective talker when he does it the right way. These video packages with Brock always leave an impression, and an resonate for a long time. What resonated with me about this one? Brock’s question: “For God’s sake, why wouldn’t Brock Lesnar beat The Undertaker?…Because he’s some mythical God? It’s not rocket science, people.” That was really good.

But let’s not discount Cena, either. His stuff about Brock only having to have “one fight every so often” in the UFC was good. These past two weeks, they’ve played up the differences between Cena and Lesnar very well. The idea of the passionate champion against the merciless mercenary has been conveyed effectively. The whole “blood and urine and vomit” thing might have been a bit too much. But all in all, I’m really ready for this match.

Still, as good as Cena vs. Lesnar will be, I can’t help but wonder how different the story would be if we had that David vs. Goliath scenario that a Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan match would have given us…

Roman Reigns def. Kane in a Last Man Standing Match. Heck of an opening match. Reigns and Kane went all “hardcore” for us. This should have been the main event, for my money. I actually think WWE should have put Stephanie and the Bellas on first, then close the show with the Last Man Standing Match. Why not? Yes, it was a good way to draw fans in. But if Steph and the Bellas are good enough to close a show, why can’t they open one? Plus, the knowledge that I’ve got a pay per view quality match coming my way would damn sure keep my interest.

Triple H, Jerry Lawler, and JBL plug the cost of the WWE Network to the point of obnoxiousness. Ah, I get it. They tried to get away with lots of shameless plugs by turning them into a comedy bit. It’s PG era DX logic. Except, much like the PG era DX, these plugs got old REAL fast. Obviously the WWE Network isn’t growing as fast as the company would like, and as such they’re shoving it down our throats each an every week, to the point that it’s actually obnoxious. But what they need to realize is that Raw caters to essentially the same audience each and every week. So plugging this network so mercilessly isn’t going to do any damn good, because most of the people who want to buy it have already done so. Mind you, I think the news that the Network is expanding overseas is terrific, and will boost subscriptions tremendously. Hopefully, that’ll allow WWE to be a little less intense in promoting this thing. Once they go overseas, it’ll be a new ball game.

Dean Ambrose def. Alberto Del Rio. I heard Paul Heyman say something on a podcast awhile back about Stone Cold Steve Austin. He said to watch the way Steve Austin hits the ropes, because he goes all out every time. For whatever reason, I was compelled to do that in this match with Dean Ambrose. In paying attention to detail like this, I came to appreciate the fact that every single time he’s out there, Ambrose looks like he’s fighting for his life. And in this match in particular, a Beat the Clock match, that was displayed quite poignantly. It also made Del Rio look pretty damn good, as the obstacle Ambrose just couldn’t clear. Really good match.

Heath Slater def. Seth Rollins. Cool little moment for Heath Slater this week, not that it’ll matter in the long run. So Slater’s new tag team partner is Titus O’Neil, huh? They could be entertaining together, I suppose. O’Neil was terribly miscast as a bruiser heel, so it’s nice to see him getting the chance to talk and be charismatic again. I still miss the Prime Time Players, though.

Images from WWE.com.

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TNA’s TV Woes, Selling SummerSlam and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Not at all happy to hear TNA is allegedly getting the boot from Spike TV this fall. That company may now finds itself in the very scary position of having to find itself another network in time, or risk going belly up.

People can crack all the jokes they want about the creative at TNA. But the fact is, the number 2 wrestling company in the United States could be in a potentially devastating position. If this turns out to be true, it could be terrible news for wrestling fans, and it’s especially bad news for wrestlers looking for work, experience, and mainstream exposure.

To my knowledge, nothing has been officially announced yet, so I’m going to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions. But here’s hoping that if TNA is indeed leaving Spike TV, another network will pick Impact Wrestling up. The show, after all, continues to draw in the ballpark of a million viewers every week.

Thoughts From Raw:

John Cena and Paul Heyman open the show with a verbal confrontation. I loved the “Biggest Fight of the Summer” promo WWE produced for Lesnar vs. Cena at Summerslam, and the opening segment between Cena and Heyman was an awesome way to follow it up. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: When John Cena has a topic he can sink his teeth into, and he doesn’t have to pander or blatantly promote anything, he can be awesome on the mic. We saw that from him this week, and it’s no coincidence that a mic master like Paul Heyman was the one to bring it out of him.

I’m of the mindset that we don’t need to see Brock Lesnar again until the Raw before Summerslam. Let Cena and Heyman carry it, and build to a mini-confrontation between Brock and Cena on the go-home Raw.

John Cena def. Cesaro. Any time these two are in the ring, it’s essentially a giant test of strength. And hey, that’s a good thing. As unlikely as it may be considering their different backgrounds, Cena and Cesaro seem made for each other. This match also showed us Cesaro and Heyman may not have completely severed ties…

Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella close the show with an in-ring brawl. I’m not a fan of either Brie or Nikki Bella. But I will say this: When was the last time a diva segment closed Raw? You’ve probably got to go back to the days of Trish Stratus and Lita to answer that one. Granted, Stephanie isn’t a wrestler, per se. But still, it placed an added emphasis on women’s wrestling that hasn’t been seen in WWE in quite some time. And to her credit, Brie’s acting has gotten a little bit better. Though that “You deserve to go to hell!” line was a bit much.

Has it really been over a decade since Stephanie wrestled? It doesn’t seem that way. The two Stephanie matches that immediately come to mind are her bout with Trish from February 2001, and her match with Vince from fall 2003. I have no doubt she’s as capable as ever. Lord knows she’s as muscled as we’ve ever seen her, and is probably much stronger. I doubt this will be a beautifully coordinated masterpiece of a match, considering Brie isn’t exactly Shawn Michaels. But then again, neither was Trish when Steph wrestled her. So who knows? Maybe they’ll surprise us.

Randy Orton and Kane brutalize Roman Reigns. I like the idea of a Reigns/Orton match at Summerslam. Distancing Orton from the WWE Title picture for a bit will be good for him, in my opinion. He’s done just fine in his role as The Authority’s chosen one. But let’s have him help elevate Roman Reigns, and possibly Dean Ambrose, before we put that bright a spotlight back on him.

Chris Jericho vs. Seth Rollins went to a no contest when The Wyatt Family interfered. I was really enjoying Jericho’s work with Rollins before the Wyatts got involved. I believe one of the announcers called Rollins “cat-like.” Corny as it sounds, it’s true. From an in-ring standpoint, there’s nobody else on the roster quite like him. That can only work in his favor as time goes on.

R-Truth def. Bo Dallas, ending his undefeated streak. So…R-Truth, huh? The guy with little to no discernible momentum, who’s been singing the same song since 2008, is the guy who finally pins Bo Dallas? Well that sucks. Granted, it wasn’t the most prestigious streak in wrestling history, but it could have amounted to a little more than what it did. Nothing personal, but R-Truth? Still, it allowed Bo to show off his vicious side, and that’s a plus.

Front page image from betweentheropes.com. Image 1 from tnanews.com. Images 2 and 3 from wwe.com.

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Sting’s WWE “Debut,” Plus WWE Battleground 2014 Predictions (UPDATED w/ Results!)

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Before we get into Battleground, the topic of the week is obviously Sting’s appearance on Raw. Or at least a WWE video game commercial that aired during Raw. It was tremendously produced, and a great way to plant that seed for what could be an epic angle down the road.

Supposedly, Sting hasn’t officially signed a deal yet. But purely from an outsider’s perspective, it seems to be imminent. And that’s a great thing. With WWE trying so damn hard to get people to buy the network, the timing couldn’t be more right for Sting to finally work for them, even if it’s only for one match. As for who that match would be with, obviously a lot of people are calling for Sting vs. Undertaker to finally happen. There are many who question whether that match should take place, given what happened with ‘Taker at Wrestlemania XXX, and the notion that given the age of both men, it might not be the dream match we’ve always imagined it being. Personally, I’m of the belief that if both guys are healthy, they can make it special. Both Sting and The Undertaker have been able to defy father time for years. I won’t doubt they can each do it one more time.

But if Sting vs. Undertaker isn’t in the cards, there are a plenty of guys Sting could wrestle and draw money with. Triple H, John Cena, and Randy Orton all come to mind. But we’ve got plenty of time to speculate and analyze. For now I’m keen to sit back and enjoy the simple fact that Sting and WWE are working together after all these years.

And now, on to Battleground.

PRE-SHOW MATCH:
Cameron vs. Naomi

I’m intrigued to see how Naomi develops now that these two are no longer a duo. I think some of the stuff we’ve seen her go through with the eye injury, combined with her athletic prowess in the ring, have earned her some respect in the eyes of the “smart” fans. Cameron, on the other hand, does not seem to have earned that respect. But in her case, that may be a good thing. It’s extremely easy to dislike Cameron. Even Michael Cole seemed legitimately annoyed by her a few weeks back. That could be the basis for a great heel persona, assuming Cameron can back up what she says in the ring. This match might not be the best pick in terms of drawing last minute buys for the pay per view. But it could be interesting to watch from the standpoint of where these two performers are, in relation to where they could be later.

Rob’s Prediction: Naomi
WINNER: Cameron

Jack Swagger vs. Rusev

A few days ago, I would have easily picked Rusev as the victor here. But in light of what happened with that Malaysian Airlines jet this week, and the potential Russian involvement there, it’s a rather inconvenient time to be a in an act that sings the praises of Vladimir Putin every week. Still, I don’t expect WWE to soften Rusev or Lana from a character standpoint. I just think they’ll scale back his dominance a bit on this show. I expect Lana will get involved somehow, allowing Swagger to get a DQ victory. A brawl will follow, and Swagger will come out looking strong without actually beating Rusev. For my money, it’s best to proceed with caution for the time being.

Rob’s Prediction: Jack Swagger
WINNER: Rusev by count out

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

So they’re “frienemies,” huh? Meh, that’s not really my cup of tea. But hey, it’s AJ and Paige on a pay per view. I won’t complain. These two have helped break WWE’s fitness model mold for female wrestlers. So it’s great to see them getting a chance to shine together on pay per view. But it must be said: Paige is pretty bland from a character standpoint. I don’t see her winning the belt back until she develops a bit more in that respect. Maybe a few losses to AJ will bring some more emotion out of Paige, and we’ll get to know her a bit better. But for now, the belt stays with AJ.

Rob’s Prediction: AJ Lee
WINNER: AJ Lee

2 OUT OF 3 FALLS MATCH FOR WWE TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Usos (c) vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan

Here’s another kind of match I don’t think we’ve seen on pay per view in awhile. Two out of three falls for the tag straps? How cool is that? This isn’t necessarily a hot rivalry, but the Usos and the Wyatts have an old school hero/villain dynamic going on. Harper and Rowan are more than worthy of holding tag team champions. But I think right now it’s the Usos’ time to shine, and build a reputation as a dominant babyface tag team. Still, this being the kind of match that it is, it’s likely the Wyatts will at least get to beat the champs once. That’s a nice little feather in their caps.

Rob’s Prediction: The Usos
WINNER: The Usos

20 MAN BATTLE ROYAL TO CROWN NEW INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION:

Firstly, I’m happy Bad News Barrett is popping in for this match. That character was on such a role, and hopefully this will help him hold on to at least a little bit of that momentum.

Typically, battle royals like this can be tough to predict. But in this case, I think there’s a clear winner: The Miz. He’s quickly resumed his heel run with a new “Don’t hit me in the face!” M.O., and he’s as easy to dislike as ever. What’s more, he was clashing with Sheamus this past week. A win for Miz here might lead to the often-discussed unification of the Intercontinental and United States Championships via a match with Sheamus at Summerslam. But even if that’s not the case, a heel Miz would certainly make a better IC Champ than the babyface Miz did.

Rob’s Prediction: The Miz
WINNER: The Miz

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins

These two are arguably even better as rivals than they were as partners. Rollins’ new role as the sell out is a perfect contrast to Ambrose’s defiant bad boy attitude. And the idea that Ambrose can run in and ruin Rollins’ Money in the Bank cash-in is something they’ve never done before. So the build up for this match has been excellent. From a wrestling standpoint, it may be the dark horse pick to steal the show. In picking a winner here, oddly enough, there’s an X factor that needs to be considered: Brock Lesnar. Rollins is supposedly The Authority’s designated plan B to take the WWE Championship back, right? But then Paul Heyman interjected this past week on Raw, and floated the idea of Brock being their back up plan. Rollins losing to Ambrose here would provide the perfect incentive for Triple H and Stephanie to cast him aside in favor of the man who just broke The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak. Thus, Ambrose wins this round. But I expect we’ll get at least one more pay per view go-around with these two.

Rob’s Prediction: Dean Ambrose
WINNER: Seth Rollins via forfeit

Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt

As great as the inciting incident for this program was, the subsequent build up for this match has been frustrating. Bray Wyatt has yet to give us a definitive reason as to why he doesn’t like Chris Jericho. This past week on Raw he said something like: “You said you would save us, Chris!” But what does that even mean? In any event, hopefully the match will make the confusing build up worthwhile. I see Bray Wyatt picking up the win here. This would, ideally, lead Jericho to take more of a proactive approach against Bray. Instead of asking why Wyatt attacked him, Jericho would now be the one doing the attacking. To see Bray on the defensive against a man like Jericho might make for compelling television.

Rob’s Prediction: Bray Wyatt
WINNER: Chris Jericho

FATAL FOURWAY MATCH FOR WWE HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:

Meh. I’m not really into this one at all. We know who wins here. This is the obligatory pay per view title match between Cena’s title victory, and his big match with Brock at Summerslam. To WWE’s credit, they’ve at least made it look like a big important match. And if these four do their jobs well (which I’m sure they will), there’ll be a point in this match where it looks like someone other than Cena (most likely Roman Reigns) will walk out with the title. But make no mistake about it, this night belongs to Cena. And that’s fine. Bring on Cena vs. Lesnar at Summerslam. Plus, if this match goes how I imagine it will, this’ll also lead us to Reigns vs. Orton at the August spectacular.

Rob’s Prediction: John Cena
WINNER: John Cena

Images from WWE.com.

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