Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

Seth Rollins, Bluetista, Crowd Control, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Seth Rollins turns heel on The Shield. I’ll say this much: I didn’t see that coming. I was expecting Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose to turn on Roman Reigns. But obviously, the decision was made to go with Rollins alone. I think that’s a wise move. Ambrose is such an awesome talker, it would likely be difficult to get a good portion of the fans to boo him. And of course, WWE is grooming Reigns to be a big babyface. In turns of turning just one member of the group heel, Rollins was the best choice.

So I suppose that’s it. That’s the end of The Shield. WWE breaks the group up at the height of their popularity, which is exactly the way it should be done. Break it off when the fans are most invested. I imagine this will lead to Rollins & Orton vs. Ambrose & Reigns at Money in the Bank.

Bryan to defend at Money in the Bank, or the title will be decided in the ladder match. Wow. So it really is touch and go with WWE and Daniel Bryan. I’ll give them credit. At least they’re trying to keep the belt on him. But I’m ready to have a WWE Heavyweight Champion, even if it isn’t Daniel Bryan.

Alberto Del Rio def. Dolph Ziggler to qualify for the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Hm. I wonder who the fans would have rather seen in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match…

Stephanie McMahon strikes back at Chicago crowd chanting for CM Punk during PaybackI’ve got to applaud Stephanie McMahon, and whoever came up with that line about the fans wanting Daniel Bryan to quit “just like CM Punk.” That was not only an effective way to strike at the heart of those same fans who wanted to hijack Raw before Wrestlemania XXX, but an interesting way for WWE to say: “Hey, it’s not us. It’s him.” And that’s not exactly a false notion, is it? Punk walked out on WWE. I’m not bashing him for that. But, at least to the public’s knowledge, that is what happened. He did what he felt he had to do. And thus, it seems WWE is doing what it feels it needs to do in terms of the public’s desire to see CM Punk. It’s a sad situation, but it is what it is.

Bray Wyatt absent after losing to John Cena at Payback. If I may be so bold: Fans who think Bray Wyatt got “buried” in his match against John Cena at Payback seem to be unable to see the forest for the trees. Bray Wyatt is a villain (at least in theory). Villains can lose and come back quite easily. How many times has The Joker lost to Batman? The Green Goblin to Spider-Man? Lex Luthor to Superman? Bray Wyatt is coming off a lengthy program with the WWE’s biggest star, and has upped his game in the process. There are great things in store for Bray Wyatt. Heck, he might even be carrying around a Money in the Bank briefcase before long…

Batista “Quits” WWE. This was expected, as Batista is apparently set to start the publicity tour for Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s certainly sad we didn’t get to see a big pay per view match between Batista and Daniel Bryan. With luck, that’s still in the cards for later this year. For as much crap as I, and other fans gave Batista when he came back earlier this year, I now give him a lot of credit. He helped save Wrestemania XXX by contributing to an awesome main event that revived the crowd after Brock ended The Undertaker’s streak. Then he proceeded to lose on three consecutive pay per views.  Considering what he was likely told he’d get when he came in, that’s a pretty rotten deal. So kudos to Batista on being a professional. Or is it Bluetista now?

Luke Harper and Erick Rowan def. The Usos. The Usos had a nice little promo before this match, which helped showcase their personalities a bit more. The match that followed was solid, and set up a title match between the two teams at Money in the Bank, which the Wyatts could very well win. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Wyatts walk out with the tag straps, and a Money in the Bank Ladder match victory in the same night.

Bo Dallas def. Kofi Kingston. Bad camera angle on that “Running Bo-Dog.” Kofi’s head didn’t even come close to the mat. Still, I’m definitely a fan of the whole “Bolieve” character.

Ryback & Curtis Axel def. Goldust & Sin Cara. So Cody wants his brother to have a “better tag team partner,” and yet he picks a guy who can’t win a match unless Scooby Doo is with him at ringside. Yeah, way to not be transparent, Cody…

Images from WWE.com 

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Delaying the Inevitable? Plus, Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Daniel Bryan hangs on to the WWE Championship…at least until PaybackAfter this week’s show, I suspect Daniel Bryan will indeed be hanging on to the WWE Championship. They’re weaving the will he/won’t he stuff into the underdog fabric of his character. I think if they’d gotten bad news back from his surgery, they would have gone ahead and taken the title off him by now. I think he just won’t wrestle at Payback, but we’ll get the Kane rematch/blow off at Money in the Bank.

On the subject of injuries, I’ve never been a fan of wrestling moves being banned outright. But as long as WWE is banning certain manuevers (i.e. the piledriver), I say ban the flying headbutt. I was watching Hard Knocks: The Chris Benoit Story this weekend, and it really became clear just how little sense that move makes. A guy takes a front bump off the top rope, and in theory, butts heads with his opponent. That would take just as much out of the wrestler performing the move as the one receiving it, if not more. Why Bryan felt the need to incorporate that into his arsenal is beyond me. But let’s just get rid of it.

Randy Orton & Batista def. Cody Rhodes & Goldust. I had a good feeling about the Batista & Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes & Goldust match when that pre-tape aired, in that this match would likely further the budding animosity between the Rhodes brothers. We didn’t really get much in terms of Cody being angry with his brother. But what we did do is build up some good sympathy for Goldust. I’m wondering if next week, we’ll see Cody say mouth off to him about this match.

The Shield and Evolution’s contract signing erupts into chaos. Triple H’s portion of this week’s finale was pretty good. The talk about how he watched the ink dry on The Shield’s original contracts gave us a nice perspective on how new the “Hounds of Justice” are, compared to Evolution. It put the match in a compelling new light. As for the match this Sunday, I expect it’ll be an interesting night for Roman Reigns. Whatever happens to him at Payback may go a long way toward building to a big singles match at Summerslam.

Bray Wyatt attempts to attack Jerry Lawler. It’s nice to see Bray Wyatt actually act like a heel this week, and pick on Jerry Lawler,  who as far as WWE is concerned, is weaker than he is. They obviously played up the whole heart attack thing, which I’d like to think will be the catalyst for Lawler returning to the ring some time soon (assuming he’s healthy, of course). All in all, it was a good segment. At least Bray didn’t do quite as much singing…

Triple H and Stephanie fire Brad Maddox. Were we supposed to feel bad about Brad Maddox getting beat up and fired? He’s still a heel, right? Well, I suppose we saw him so seldomly, it doesn’t really matter. So does he become a babyface now? Or perhaps he takes over as the general manager of Smackdown once Vickie Guerrero leaves the company (as she’s been rumored to do for some time now).

Alicia Fox throws another tantrum after losing to Emma. So Alicia Fox’s thing these days is that she’s ripping men’s clothes off and pouring soda all over herself? Yeesh, she might be a babyface before long.

Rusev def. Zack Ryder. They’re letting Rusev talk now? Why? His mic work doesn’t exactly bring anything new to his character. He’s as bland as he’s ever been.

Eva Marie def. Summer Rae. Good lord, is this Eva Marie push going to cross over on to Raw and Smackdown? Why do they insist on making this woman wrestle? As we saw this week, and countless times in the past, she leaves MUCH to be desired in terms of her in-ring ability. So why keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole? Just let her be someone’s valet for the time being. Let the suffering end!

Hornswoggle def. El Torito. To the Jim Rosses and the Jim Cornettes of the industry who are always talking about how “bad comedy for the sake of bad comedy” is never a wise decision, I give you Drew McIntyre vs. El Torito. And with it, I say: Congrats on being right.

Images from WWE.com. 

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Live vs. Memorex, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Raw is recorded in the UK. Thus, pre-recorded show airs in the states. Weeks like this really make it clear just how important it is that Raw is a live show. They broadcast from the UK this week, and because of the time difference, the results were made available to us in the states before the show actually hit the air. Practically speaking, there’s really no difference between a live show and a taped show if you’re not part of the internet wrestling community. But for die-hard fans like yours truly, it’s a vital element to that “anything can happen on Raw” mentality that was created back in the late ’90s. As all taped editions of Raw do, this week’s show felt really watered down.

Stephanie McMahon encourages Daniel Bryan to “do the right thing” next week. So it seems WWE don’t be stripping Daniel Bryan of the WWE Championship…yet. They announced him for Raw next week, and teased him “doing the right thing.” Ultimately, this could mean anything. Either way, I suspect WWE didn’t want to resolve this issue without Bryan being there for drama’s sake. Also, giving us the big answer on a taped show would have been a big no-no.

Bray Wyatt prompts more singing and cheers. Over on The Ross Report at PodcastOne.com, Jim Ross has said that Bray Wyatt’s presentation has been rather confusing in terms of whether we should be booing or cheering him. At the risk of being a bandwagon jumper, it’s tough not to agree with him. I’ve reached the point where I no longer classify Bray Wyatt as a bad guy. If The Wyatt Family are supposed to be bad guys, then why does Bray keep prompting the fans to sing along with him? I don’t fault the fans for doing it. But as a performer, he’s eliciting that reaction.

Batista def. Seth RollinsWas it just me, or is Batista ready to be done? When he was on his way to the ring, he just looked like he was tired and out of it. Maybe that’s just how it is on those overseas tours sometimes…

By the by, WWE.com did a story last week, asking different WWE stars who their favorite wrestlers of all time were, and Seth Rollins actually picked Necro Butcher. There’s a name I never thought I’d see mentioned on a WWE web site. He also put over Samoa Joe in the process.

Summer Rae makes her return. I’m a little confused about Summer Rae stomping down to the ring in a fury, only to lay a big wet one of Fandango, before getting into an old fashioned catfight with Layla. You’d think Summer would want to get her revenge on the man who dumped her via Twitter. So is this going to be a thing where they’re competing for Fandango’s affection? That could work for a short time, I suppose. But in the end, Summer will have to turn on Fandango. Otherwise she looks pretty damn weak. And considering they gave her a Total Divas spotlight, they cast her in The Marine 4, and she even has her own theme music now, I’m pretty sure weakness isn’t what they’re going for.

Alicia Fox def. Paige, continues to act bizarre. Supposedly Triple H has become high on Alicia Fox, thus her getting the spotlight these past two weeks, and after this week, I can only assume she’s got a title shot coming at Payback. It’s been a long time since I actually sat down and studied an Alicia Fox match. But I did this week. She’s still not the greatest actress in the world. But she’s got some nice intensity. It’s always cool to see wrestlers get rewarded after putting a lot of work in, and Fox has been with the company since 2006. I don’t know if she’ll win the title, but it’s cool to see her get a push.

Bo Dallas to debut on Smackdown this week. I’m actually anxious to see what all these “Bolieve” vignettes have been leading up to on Smackdown this Friday. Bo popped up on Raw awhile back and got a win over Wade Barrett (oddly enough, he was the IC Champ then too), but was clearly too white meat to have any real star power, at least as a babyface. Now let’s see what he can bring to the table with a little more experience under his belt.

Images from WWE.com.

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Daniel Bryan’s Neck Surgery, Roman Reigns, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Daniel Bryan to undergo neck surgery this Thursday. What’s frustrating about this Daniel Bryan situation, other than Bryan potentially being out of commission so soon after winning the WWE Championship, is just how little we know. Long time wrestling fans are no stranger to hearing about neck injuries, and we have a decent knowledge of how serious they can be for the performers we love to watch. So hearing that Bryan is having problems with his neck is alarming to say the least. Hopefully we’ll have more info once Thursday rolls around. In any event, WWE seems to be preparing fans for a potential title vacation by Bryan, but at the same time keeping the door open for a match with Kane at Payback.

The Shield set for a rematch with Evolution at PaybackThis was pretty anti-climactic for my tastes. I was hoping we’d either see them break the trios off into singles matches, or add some sort of gimmick to the match. Hell in a Cell, perhaps? But no…just another, regular ol’ six-man tag. It was nice to hear Triple H call out Roman Reigns, though. Threatening to make him the one who “doesn’t come back” from Payback obviously puts a special spotlight on him. We may have just started down a road to Triple H vs. Roman Reigns at Summerslam.

In the meantime, The Shield looked awesome at the close of this week’s show. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: They may be the best babyface faction we’ve seen in wrestling since Degeneration X turned face in 1998.

Bray Wyatt apparently challenges John Cena to an “I Quit” Match at PaybackI LOVE this idea. It’s the ultimate way to place John Cena’s ideals against Bray Wyatt’s. If it is indeed an “I Quit” Match they’re going for, I see Cena coming out on top. And that’s fine. The way I see it, a heel can lose a submission match and then come back and gripe about it the following night. That just makes him look like more of a slime ball. But if Cena taps, he loses an important moral victory. Then again, Bray could somehow threaten or blackmail Cena into quitting. I think at one point that was how The Rock and Mick Foley’s famous “I Quit Match” in 1999 was supposed to end. Foley would have looked at his wife crying at ringside, and then simply given up to end her agony. It’d be really interesting if WWE could find a way to pull that finish off.

Dolph Ziggler def. Fandango. So we’re obviously preparing for a feud between Fandango & Layla and Summer Rae & The Miz, which will of course tie into The Marine 4. If it gives Fandango a little more exposure, I’m alright with that. Considering his on-screen persona, this might sound odd to some, but I think Fandango might fare better if he acted a little less goofy with his dancing. The character could really draw some heat if they changes his music so the fans couldn’t sing along, and acted a bit more like an elitist snob who happens to have a flair for dancing.

Paige def. Alicia Fox. So Alicia Fox ends her big “tantrum” by stealing JBL’s hat and doing a sexy prance up the ramp? Uhhh…pwned?

Sheamus beats Curtis Axel and Ryback in back-to-back matches. So….Sheamus is still a babyface, then? I mean, he beat Dean Ambrose on Smackdown, which was supposedly the beginning of his heel turn. But then he’s clearly positioned as the hero on Raw against “Rybaxel.” Either way, I think a turn to the dark side is clearly in order for the big Irishman. Either way, he put on a great performance tonight, as usual.

Rob Van Dam def. Jack Swagger, after Adam Rose brings his “Exotic Express” to ringside. Ugh. What a way to waste a Rob Van Dam match. I like Adam Rose and all, but man oh man…

Brodus Clay is one of the interfering heels during the main event. So I know Brodus was a bodyguard for Snoop Dogg at one point, but is he actually trying to look like him now? How much bronser did that man use?

Images from WWE.com.

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Sheamus Strikes Gold, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From Raw:

Sheamus wins the United States Championship in a battle royal. It’s nice to see Sheamus get a big win, as he’s better than people seem to give him credit for. His big comeback against Ryback and Curtis Axel was great. I’m not sure how he’s going to fare as a babyface in the near future, but a heel turn might be a nice change of pace for him. And given what we saw with he and The Shield, that may be just what we’re in store for.

WWE may be touting Dean Ambrose’s 351 day reign as champion, but lets be honest here: He wasn’t much of a champion. I don’t say that to slam Ambrose, as he’s one of my favorites. But he was just too busy in Shield angles to really give the title the attention it deserves. It has been nice to see that title getting some attention these past few weeks.

I was actually rooting for Fandango to take the title home. He’s got the potential to be a great bad guy, and is extremely underrated, in my opinion.

By the way…Dolph Ziggler gets eliminated by Santino and the goddamn Cobra? Gimmie a break.

Kane goes through a flaming table at Extreme Rules, seeks retribution on RawI was really surprised to see Kane take a flaming table bump at Extreme Rules. Considering how much of Kane’s back and arms were exposed, he took a hell of a risk. To say the least, that provided a memorable finish to a title match that, with due respect to he and Daniel Bryan, might have been less than main event-worthy.

As it seems WWE is going to tack another month on to this program, I’d like to see Daniel Bryan try to appeal to Kane on a personal level, as an old friend from their Team Hell No days. As a former ally, Bryan can try to convince Kane that he’s being maniulated by The Authority. Why not? So long as they don’t go too corny with it, it could be compelling to try and dive into the psychological aspects of the Kane character.

And while we’re on the subject of character, Brie Bella still can’t act. That fake wailing she was doing during Kane’s attack on Bryan was the single worst part of the show. Seriously, cut her out of the story and just let it be about Bryan and Kane. She doesn’t have the performance chops to be involved in a high drama storyline.

Amid rumors of Batista’s departure, Evolution decimates The Shield. Rumor has it Batista wasn’t keen on losing to Daniel Bryan at Payback before taking time away to promote Guardians of the Galaxy. I can’t say I blame him, considering he tapped out in the main event of Wrestlemania XXX, and then took the fall at Extreme Rules. So I imagine Batista will wind up on the winning end of whatever happens between Evolution and The Shield at Payback. I can only hope we’ll see Batista vs. Daniel Bryan at some point in the future…

Bad News Barret def. Big E. Really explosive Intercontinental Title match between these two this week, thanks largely to the athleticism of Big E. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle now that he’s without the belt. As for Barrett, I wouldn’t be surprised if, like a lot of the midcard heels in WWE these days, a babyface turn was on the way for him. The fans are into his “Bad News” promos, as was evidenced by the chants he received this week.

Adam Rose makes his first Raw appearance. I haven’t seen any of Adam Rose’s work in the ring. But I’m liking the character so far. He’s quirky. I only wish we’d heard him say more than one line. Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger certainly complimented him well. But is he going to need 25 people for his entrance each week?

Cesaro hits Rob Van Dam with a triple gut wrench, in his take on the “Three Amigos.” It’s pretty damn hard to boo somebody who can pull that off, even if he’s standing next to Paul Heyman. But on the other hand, Cesaro showed us he’s willing to be an old school rule-breaking heel, as he defied the referee’s five count and got disqualified. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a singles match between RVD and Cesaro at Payback.

Daniel Bryan def. Alberto Del Rio. I rag on Alberto Del Rio a lot for having a one-dimensional character that has never really evolved at all. But let’s give credit where credit is due. He had a really good match with Daniel Bryan on Raw. He and Bryan were incredibly smooth, and their timing was fantastic. Well done, gentlemen. Well done.

Alexander Rusev def. Kofi Kingston. So wait, is he just Rusev now? Kind of like Antonio Cesaro became just Cesaro? Either way, I still don’t buy him. The best part of his segments are Lana’s introductions. Still, that big stomp he gave to Kofi’s back before applying the camel clutch was a nice touch.

Images from WWE.com.

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A WWE Extreme Rules Preview (UPDATED w/ RESULTS) – A Dream Match, A Cage Match, A Title Match

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This is not the Extreme Rules card I expected to see following Wrestlemania XXX. For some, like The Shield, that’s a good thing. For others, like Daniel Bryan, that’s not so good. Bryan finds himself in, for my money, the third most important match on this pay per view. The main event of this show really should have been Bryan vs. Batista, in my estimation. Granted, maybe this all was meant to be. Bryan took a week off for his honeymoon, and then had a very reduced role on a Raw a few weeks back due to his father’s passing. So in essence, he hasn’t been around for much of the build up. Still, after all we saw at Wrestlemania, Bryan, not to mention the WWE Championship, deserve a better match than what they have at Extreme Rules.

But more on that in a bit…

PRE-SHOW “WheeLC” MATCH:
El Torito vs. Hornswoggle

Hey, at least it’s not on the actual pay per view.

Supposedly, this match is going to have “mini” tables, ladders, and chairs. That’s…kind of interesting, I guess. I assume Los Matadores and 3MB will be out there as well to up the action quotient. El Torito is obviously the winner here, as he’s the more marketable, kid-friendly character.

Rob’s Prediction: El Torito
WINNER: El Torito 

HANDICAP MATCH:
Alexander Rusev vs. R-Truth & Xavier Woods

Kind of a tough break for Xavier Woods, huh? It’s his first pay per view match, and he’s jobbing in a 2-on-1 handicap match. What’s more, the guy he’s jobbing too kind of sucks. Alexander Rusev’s gimmick is about as old as the business itself. He’s the evil foreigner. But, despite what appear to be some good in-ring skills, his face just kills the entire presentation. He doesn’t look menacing. He appears to be either apathetic or tired, depending on the day. So yes, Rusev will get the win here. But unless something changes, I just don’t see him going very far.

Rob’s Prediction: Alexander Rusev
WINNER: Alexander Rusev 

WWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH:
Paige (c) vs. Tamina Snuka

I like this match, and a like what’s been done with Paige so far. Supposedly WWE has been booking her against undercard heels (Aksana, Alicia Fox, etc.) so that the fans can get to know her. I definitely like what I see, though I stand by what I said about her winning the title in her first match not being a good move. On paper, this match is really interesting. I think Tamina has about 30 pounds on Paige, and is significantly more muscled, not to mention more experienced. So watching what I expect will be a cat and mouse game between the two could prove compelling. But you never know. Either way, Paige walks out with the title.

Rob’s Prediction: Paige
WINNER:
Paige 

WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Big E. (c) vs. Bad New Barrett

While Barrett is no stranger to the Intercontinental Title, holding the belt a fourth time could prove very valuable for him, as he’s been in the process of reinventing himself for the past six months or so. Becoming the Intercontinental Champion again could solidify the idea that he’s still a big name player, and not just a bad comedy act. Big E. has had a nice run with the title, and actually been more successful that I ever thought he’d be with it. But now I think it’s time to knock him down a peg and see if he can stay afloat. A rematch next month between he and Barrett might be interesting to see once the tides have been turned. Either way, Barrett is on the rise yet again.

Rob’s Prediction: Bad News Barrett
WINNER:
Bad News Barrett 

Rob Van Dam vs. Cesaro vs. Jack Swagger

This is actually the toughest match on the card to predict. All three of these guys are are proven commodities, and you can make an argument for all three of them going over. A win for Swagger would prove that, despite perception, he wasn’t the weak link in the Real Americans. A win for Cesaro would further solidify his status as a player in the making. A win for Rob Van Dam could serve as a springboard into a higher profile program. It’s a tough choice, but at the end of the day it’ll probably be Cesaro. I’m not sure what WWE is trying to do with him, as the fans clearly want to cheer for him. But he’s aligned with Paul Heyman, who’s about as much a bad guy as you can be. But they definitely seem to have something in mind for him, so I’ll say he pins RVD and gets the victory.

Rob’s Prediction: Cesaro
WINNER: Cesaro 

EXTREME RULES MATCH FOR WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE:
Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Kane

This match seems like a time killer until we’re ready to put the Evolution/Shield feud aside. Kane is a convenient dragon to through in Bryan’s path until a larger threat comes along. Bryan, the WWE Championship, and frankly Kane, all deserve better than that. Still, I’m sure they’ll give us something that’s decent at the very least. It’s interesting how WWE has played with imagery in terms of Kane’s mask. It would be cool if that were somehow involved, i.e. Bryan rips off the mask, and somehow turns Kane back into the corporate underling. In any event, hopefully Bryan will put Kane behind him, and move on to bigger things.

Rob’s Prediction: Daniel Bryan
WINNER:
 Daniel Bryan 

STEEL CAGE MATCH:
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

I’m not as in love with Bray Wyatt as a lot of fans are. I certainly like the idea of Bray Wyatt, and am intrigued for what it could become. But it’s still fairly new. While Bray Wyatt has given us some really good promos, and an interesting segment involving a youth choir, I’m not blown away by his work. Very much intrigued, but not yet blown away. A victory for Bray in this cage match seems likely, and from there, another match with Cena at Payback. I see Bray worming his way into the WWE Championship picture eventually. I don’t know if he’ll win it on his first try, but he’s definitely on his way.

Rob’s Prediction: Bray Wyatt
WINNER: Bray Wyatt 

Evolution vs. The Shield

I certainly didn’t expect a babyface turn from The Shield, but it’s turned out very well. These are big words, but The Shield could turn out to be the most bad ass babyface tandem since Degeneration X circa 1998. There’s a certain irony to that, considering Triple H is across the ring from them here.

This bout definitely has a nice dream match feel to it. Two mega factions from two different eras colliding in what I can only assume will be the final match on this show. I maintain that the eventual plan here will be to turn Rollins and Ambrose against Reigns, so that he can break out as a singles star. I see some sort of high-level match for him at Summerslam, possibly against Triple H. But we shouldn’t rule out Batista, either. Roman Reigns definitely has star power. In the aftermath of this year’s Royal Rumble, we certainly can’t deny that. But here’s hoping Ambrose and Rollins don’t end up simply being relegated to henchmen for The Authority. They’re too damn talented for that.

I see Evolution taking this one home. Considering Hunter, Orton, and Batista all lost at Wrestlemania, and The Shield had a decisive victory that night, the villains are due for a win. How things break down from here is anybody’s guess. With luck, we’ll see Bryan face Batista for the title next month, and possibly Orton facing off against Reigns in a one-on-one match. But at this point, the card seems to be wide open.

Rob’s Prediction: Evolution
WINNERS:
The Shield 

Front page image from whatculture.com. All other images from WWE.com.

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Sing Along With the Wyatts, and Other Ponderings From WWE Raw

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Thoughts From WWE Raw:

Bray Wyatt and a large group of children serenade John Cena. I love the idea behind the opening segment to this week’s Raw. Bray Wyatt using children to get inside the head of John Cena is a wonderful concept to advance the storyline. But there were some issues with the execution that took me out of the moment. First of all, the kids were obviously singing along to a track being fed into the arena. From a practical standpoint, that makes sense, as you can’t necessarily mic all those kids. But notion that they were all singing along with a pre-recorded track took some of the magic out of the moment. Also, why were they all wearing black robes? Why not dress them all up in John Cena gear, or something? For my money, that would drive the message home even further. “They’re not yours, John. They’re coming with me.” Still, one can’t deny that the sight of all the kids wearing sheep masks was a great visual.

On the subject of Bray Wyatt, Jim Ross brought up an interesting topic on a recent edition of The Ross Report: As a heel, does it behoove Wyatt as a heel to get the crowd to sing along with him like they do? If you’re a heel, your job is to get fans to hate you, isn’t it? But as time goes in, the fans seem to be getting more and more into Bray’s act. So is he truly a heel at this point? Or by virtue of facing John Cena, does he find himself in that same in-between category that Cena typically finds himself in?

Ric Flair returns to endorse The Shield. Not at all surprised to see Flair return to give the ol’ verbal rub to Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns. To have Flair lend his support to Evolution really does nothing for either party. But to endorse The Shield creates some nice buzz, and adds a little bit to the anticipation for Extreme Rules. I see Evolution vs. The Shield main eventing the pay per view, as it’s the bout that ultimately has the most star power. It’s also got a nice “dream match” vibe to it.

WWE.com posts story on Dean Ambrose holding the United States Championship for 344 days and counting. This accolade would be much more impressive if Ambrose actually had any memorable title defenses during that 44-day reign. Sadly, he’s simply been too caught up in The Shield’s storylines to do anything meaningful with the belt. There are plenty of folks who maintain that WWE should unify the Intercontinental and United States Championships. I still maintain WWE can make the belts different by letting the upper mid-card guys wrestle for the IC belt, and the lower-card guys fight for the US belt. In any event, Ambrose may not have the title for much longer, what with this 3-on-1 handicap match on Smackdown.

Kane tries to drag Brie Bella to “Hell.” Look, if we’re going to start acknowledging Brie and Brian’s relationship on television more often, this girl needs to take some acting lessons or something. Still, from my end Kane’s attack on the couple created some cool suspense, and contributed significantly to the build-up for this match at Extreme Rules. But it doesn’t change the fact that this isn’t a main event match. This isn’t where Bryan should be following his momentous wins at Wrestlemania XXX.

Hugh Jackman knocks out Damien Sandow, who happens to be dressed as Magneto. I think one of the things that endears Hugh Jackman to wrestling fans is that it’s obvious he’s actually having fun out there. It was obvious in 2011, and it was obvious this week. As fans, we appreciate it, Hugh. We appreciate you too, Damien, despite what they’re making you do…

Bad News Barrett def. Rob Van Dam to earn Intercontinental Title Match at Extreme Rules. Another guy who seems to be having fun out there is Bad News Barrett, who this week on the number one contender tournament to earn a shot at the Intercontinental Championship. Another run with the Intercontinental Championship certainly wouldn’t hurt Barrett. At this point, it would mean more than any of his previous runs with the gold, and it might just elevate him to that next tier on the card. I’m entirely in favor of a BNB win at Extreme Rules. Whether WWE will pull the trigger on it is another story entirely.

- The Usos def. Ryback and Curtis Axel. Nice outing for the Usos this week against Ryback and Curtis Axel. A pretty cool “overcoming the odds” story for our top babyface tag team.

- Sheamus def. Titus O’Neil after Titus surprises him during his entrance. I still miss the Prime Time Players. Hey Titus, have you still got Darren Young’s number in your phone?

Alexander Rusev mixes it up with R-Truth and Xaiver Woods. Rusev set to face the duo at Extreme RulesListened to a clip of radio personalities Don Tony and Kevin Castle talking about how Alexander Rusev is, in their minds, an attempt by WWE to create a homegrown version of Samoa Joe. While I don’t necessarily believe that, I will agree with Tony and Castle on another point they made: That Lana will eventually overshadow Rusev. At this rate, it’s only a matter of time.

Hornswoggle and El Torito to compete in “WeeLC” match at Extreme RulesAnd yet, Dolph Ziggler still isn’t booked. But hey, did you see Los Matadores lost to 3MB? That’s almost as humiliating as their gimmick…

Images from WWE.com.

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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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