Archive for the ‘Wrestling’ Category

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 

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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…

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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…

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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.

Images from wwe.com.

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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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