Survivor Series a Chance for Finn Balor

WWE.com
WWE.com

Since his NXT debut in 2014, Finn Balor has become the franchise’s cornerstone in more ways than one. He’s a unique talent, combining impeccable technical skill with a seemingly effortless charisma. He is, according to Becky Lynch, “-the best wrestler in the world.” As current NXT champion, Balor has put on incredible matches with the likes of Kevin Owens and is set to defend his title again against newcomer Apollo Crews.

Balor’s arrival on the main roster is inevitable. He’s too good, too over with the WWE Universe, and as NXT Champion, he is virtually guaranteed a spot on the main roster. At this point, the only questions are when and how.

So, when?

Survivor Series.

In all honesty, I highly doubt we’ll see Finn Balor on the main roster until 2016. The WWE’s main event scene is pretty full right now, especially since Alberto Del Rio returned (sigh). And their midcard, well, has too much talent and not enough storyline effort. There’s also the fact that Finn Balor moving up the the main roster, while good for the roster, might not be best for Finn himself.

“What we’re doing at NXT right now is groundbreaking,” he said in an interview, “It’s revolutionary. For me, it’s like a Renaissance period in wrestling, and I want to be involved in NXT, I don’t want to go to the quote-unquote main roster, I don’t want to get called up, so to speak, because I believe that we at NXT are building something together that is going to be looked back on in 10 years the same way that we looked back on the ECW period as being revolutionary at that time, and this is something that I want to be involved in.”

That being said, Balor has almost reached the peak of what he can do at NXT. And since Survivor Series will almost certainly pit Team Wyatt against Team Undertaker, WWE has the opportunity to bring Finn Balor up right now, and in a huge way.

How?

Team Undertaker needs at least two more members. One of those spots can go to someone like Cesaro, Ambrose, or even Neville. They could even, if he’s cleared, bring back Daniel Bryan, who has history with Kane. But the other should be reserved for someone whose personality is perfect for a team consisting of the Demon and the Dead Man.

Finn Balor joining Team Undertaker in a surprise debut would do wonders for their match. Sad as it may be, Undertaker and Kane’s best days are behind them. Don’t get me wrong, they’re obviously stellar performers, especially the Undertaker (anyone with eyes who witnessed the bloody carnage that was his match with Brock Lesnar will attest to that), but their team could do wonders to build up some of the young talent on the roster.

Balor has the athleticism and skill to generate some amazing spots. His finisher in itself is a showstopper. Combined with the legendary status the Brothers of Destruction carry, Balor’s debut at Survivor Series could be a game-changer.

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What’s next for Dean Ambrose?

When a shoulder injury left Randy Orton unable to compete in Hell in a Cell, Dean Ambrose was taken out of action as well, in a since. He was also fairly insignificant at Monday’s episode of RAW, where he didn’t even wrestle; he just gave Roman Reigns a motivational talk before the main event of the night: a Fatal Four-Way for the number one contendership for Seth Rollins’ WWE World Heavyweight Title.

Dean Ambrose has been notoriously underutilized by Creative ever since the split of the Shield, save his insanely exciting feuds with Seth Rollins, the most recent one being for the very Title Reigns is going after. So with this most recent development, and an apparent lack of obvious direction for Ambrose, what’s next for our favorite Lunatic Fringe?

I’ll go ahead and say this: Dean Ambrose will never be a heel in the way Seth Rollins or hell, Sheamus is. He is too over with the crowd. They will love him no matter what he does. He’s like Paige; his attitude, not his alignment, dictates how he’s perceived by the WWE Universe.

For a while, I was convinced Roman Reigns would be the one turning heel. In ways, it makes more sense storyline-wise. Roman has a lot of reasons to be angry beyond understanding: it was his title shot Seth Rollins stole at Wrestlemania, it was him who was left in the dust while Dean Ambrose went on to almost claim the belt he so desperately wanted, it was him who was booed at the Royal Rumble by the people he wanted to please.

But at the same time, I’m not sure Reigns is ready to be a heel. His babyface tendencies are what gets him to be cheered for. His momentum might be brought to a halt by a heel turn.

Dean, on the other hand, can maintain momentum whether he’s Roman’s shadow or going for a title himself.

The WWE, I believe, is building towards a Shield Triple Threat. Until last week, I’ve been convinced it will be at Wrestlemania, but with the recent ratings tumble, I’m thinking WWE has changed its plans and moved it up to Survivor Series. Moving up this match opens up a lot of options story-wise, especially for Ambrose.

So how can Dean get himself into the mix? I see two options.

Option one: Dean turns on Roman immediately, faces him and Seth at Survivor Series. This option makes the most sense, as all of the implications of a Shield conflict playing out on RAW and SmackDown would gain a lot of attention leading up to the inevitable match in November.

Option two: Dean feuds with Alberto Del Rio for the US Title and then turns on  Roman at Survivor Series, costing him his title shot. A viable option in itself that still makes storyline sense. It makes sense for Dean to want this title back after John Cena dropped it, he was the first to answer the Open Challenge after all. This option also gives Roman the chance to carry a feud completely on his own for a while while keeping Dean relevant. Then, Dean can get involved in the WWE World Heavyweight Title scene once more after his heel turn.

So, what do you think WWE has in store for Ambrose? Don’t agree with my options, or have a third in mind? Let me know in the comments!

RAW Recap/Analysis – October 26, 2015

Who will get the next shot at Seth’s title? In a shockingly astute choice, WWE decided to have a tournament of sorts to determine who would next challenge WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins for his belt, resulting in a BLAH RAW.

Bow Down

The Authority opened up the show, bestowing their praises on a giddy Seth Rollins before announcing there would be a tournament to determine Seth’s next opponent.The promo was, much to my surprise, short, sweet, and to the point.

Roman Reigns interrupted, said some stuff about taking the championship and believing that, and after a tense staredown between the former Shield brothers, The Authority retreated.

Kofi Kingston vs. Roman Reigns

The New Day are as entertaining as ever, throwing around hilarious insults and Harry Potter references as Kofi Kingston entered to face Reigns.

Kofi’s athleticism was on display in spades tonight as he put on an impressive show with Reigns, even taking full control of the match for a while. Reigns, in true Roman Reigns fashion, powered back with clotheslines, punches, and a really cool looking powerbomb. Kofi fought back, but Reigns took the pinfall after landing a spear.

The San Diego crowd loved Reigns. He is definitely more over now than he was last year. Time certainly heals all wounds.

No complaints about this match. Kofi and Roman put on a fun match that showcased both of their strengths.

Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens

“Am I dreaming?” I thought when I saw two of the most entertaining guys in the WWE in the ring together.

They didn’t disappoint. Cesaro took early control, lifting Owens in the air in an awesome show of strength. The “upper-cut express” was definitely a sight to see.

Upon being thrown out of the ring, Owens said, “Screw this!” and appeared to be running away, but Cesaro attacked him WITH A CESARO SECTION SIGN IN ONE HAND. It was beautiful.

Cesaro maintained his lead, but Owens made a fierce comeback, looking to execute the Popup Powerbomb, but Cesaro’s uppercut put that to rest. Owens powered back in true heel fashion, hiding behind the ropes before surprising Cesaro with his finisher for the pinfall.

Am I pissed Cesaro isn’t in the running for the title? DUH. But am I fine with Owens having a shot? Indeed I am.

#PushCesaro

Team PCB vs. Team Bella

ENOUGH. WITH. THE. TEAMS.

Wow. WOW. I am without words with my annoyance with Creative right now. But more of that later. About the match:

Paige played nice in a brief backstage segment before the match, so she went out with Lynch and Charlotte to the ring, Paige squared off against Nikki to open the match before tagging Charlotte in. Charlotte both gave and received a beating to and from Brie before Lynch came in on a hot tag after the crowd started chanting for her. Nikki hit Becky with the Rack Attack for the win.

Paige then attacked Charlotte and Lynch, locking in the PTO on Charlotte and cementing her heel turn. Hopefully.

The Bellas keep winning. This is ridiculous.

They are old news. They are not nearly on the level of the Horsewomen or Paige. Trying to put them over the wrestlers actually driving the “Divas Revolution” is offensive to the hard work they have put in. They had their run. We’re ready to move on. Also, I’m fine with Paige getting a title shot against Charlotte, but if it means Sasha doesn’t get one of her own, I’m out.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Neville

What the f@$* is a MexAmerica? Seriously, WWE? Whatever, awkwardness of that segment aside, the match itself was good.

Del Rio took early control with some fierce hits to Neville, but the high flyer fought back in his usual exciting fashion. Del Rio retreated out of the ring, stumbling over to Zeb.

Guess wanting Mexico and America to get along makes you a heel? Okay, WWE, okay.

Del Rio returned in full force, taking control once again with the Backstabber.Neville fought back, and Del Rio once again retreated, only for Neville to flip over the top rope onto him. It was awesome. The advantage went back and forth a few more times, with Neville almost stealing the pinfall, but Del Rio took the win.

I won’t even get into how problematic this whole take on “MexAmerica” is, but seriously? The WWE has so much young talent in their roster but keep bringing in old names and giving them the pushes that should go to the Superstars they have now!

Honestly, it’s a vicious cycle.

Del Rio is good. But Neville should have gotten the win.

Ryback and the Dudley Boyz vs. The European Union (Sheamus, Rusev, and King Barrett)

I’m going to call them the European Union because I find it funny.

We all know how this goes. Babyfaces stand strong, Barrett gets pinned.

But for once, BARRETT STOLE THE WIN. IS THE WORLD ENDING?

This match meant nothing, so I don’t have much to say about it. Sure seemed to be fun for the crowd to watch.

Bray Wyatt

Bray cut a masterfully sinister promo on the Undertaker. Wonder if he’s going to come out on top this time.

Demon Kane interrupted Wyatt, but was surrounded by the rest of the Wyatts. Kane fought off all of the Wyatts as Bray watched from his rocking chair, but the numbers game proved too much. They beat down Kane and carried him off.

This is definitely setting up a battle for Survivor Series. Looking forward to it. I would be in heaven (or hell, if we’re getting technical) if they took this opportunity to call up the Demon Finn Balor. Just imagine the perfection…

Big E vs. Dolph Ziggler

Remember when Big E and Ziggler were AJ Lee’s henchmen? Neither do the commentators.

LOOK EVERYONE…IT’S TYLER!

Tyler entered in true Tyler fashion as soon as the two competitors were set to begin into a  nicely set up area to watch the match.

Big E beat on Ziggler for a while, drumming his chant onto the show off, who responded with a dropkick. The two left the ring for a short moment, and Kingston tried interfering as Ziggler rolled them back in.

Side note: I am digging those papasan chairs Breeze and Summer are sitting in. I want one.

Big E took control, but Dolph responded with the Sleeper until Big E shook him off. Meanwhile, Tyler ate grapes at ringside. GRAPES. God bless America. Ziggler almost fell to a powerbomb by Big E after a failed Famouser.Big E, continuing to target Ziggler’s abdomen, locked him down, but Ziggler fought out with a dropkick. Big E came back, throwing Ziggler into the ringpost and out of the ring before taking a sip of Summer’s drink, but was hit by the Famouser upon returning to the ring. Unfortunately for Ziggler, it wasn’t enough. Big E splashed Ziggler, who kicked out. Ziggler hit Big E with the Zig Zag for the pinfall.

These guys can deliver, and this match proved it. Tyler and Summer on the side was just an added bonus.

Stone Cold

This was a totally useless advertisement, but Stone Cold scaring the crap out of The Miz was just great to see. Hehehe.

Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kevin Owens VS. Dolph Ziggler

So much was going on, as is the way of Fatal Four-Ways, that it would have been impossible to keep track of everything, but I tried.

After a pep talk from Dean Ambrose that got me wondering if we were going to see a heel turn, Roman Reigns entered what looked to be a crazy battle. Seth Rollins joined the commentary team at ringside.

Del Rio and Reigns faced off early on as Kevin Owens and Dolph Ziggler went at it. Soon enough, Owens came for Reigns as well. Del Rio and Reigns continued brawling before Owens and Reigns began to fight in the ring. Reigns powered through all three guys at once before Del Rio made a comeback, only to be tossed out by Reigns, who proceeded to kick Owens in the face before slamming Del Rio onto the announce table, only to be kicked by a recovered Ziggler.

While Reigns rolled around in misery outside the ring, Owens and Del Rio teamed up on Ziggler, inflicting all sorts of punishment on him before turning back to Reigns. Their alliance didn’t last for long, much to the crowd’s delight, and the two heels brawled, allowing Reigns to surprise Del Rio, who had just taken out Owens. Reigns was back in full force, punching Del Rio like a doll. Ziggler tried sneak attacking Roman, and after a brief staredown, the two babyfaces fought. Reigns almost won with a powerbomb, but Ziggler kicked out.

Reigns hit Ziggler with the Superman punch, but Del Rio nearly stole the pinfall.

The four men proceeded to exchange finishers and near-pinfalls for a few thrilling minutes, and it came down to Owens and Reigns, who hit Owens with the Superman punch and spear for the victory.

The two former brothers stared each other down, radiating animosity, to end the night.

Analysis

So, Roman and Seth fighting for the title? I definitely can dig it. Reigns has performed like a true star in his feud with Wyatt, and has won over the WWE Universe. My only beef? That Ambrose isn’t in the running. But who knows, there’s still time to fix that.

WWE is desperate for ratings. A Shield Triple Threat is exactly what they need, and it doesn’t require bringing anyone out of retirement.

Make it happen, Creative. Make it happen.

Hell in a Cell 2015 Recap/Analysis

Much like Creative’s characterization of Paige, I am split on what I think of Hell in a Cell.

Kickoff Match: The European Union vs. Those Guys Creative Forgot

So. This match happened.

Here we have six men who have all the talent in the world but the worst booking imaginable. I can’t remember the last time I saw the so-called “King” in a relevant match. Rusev just wrapped up the most derived feud imaginable. Sheamus….well, let’s just say with their ratings a hot mess, WWE won’t be making him cash in anytime soon.

Neville was red-hot when he debuted earlier this year, fighting the likes of John Cena and putting on an absolutely stellar match with Seth Rollins. He was a superhero – thrilling crowds both live and on television. But now, he’s stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of meaningless matches that can’t even build up enough heat to create a feud. Cesaro is much the same. He is one of the best men on the WWE roster, technically and athletically, yet Vince McMahon can’t seem to keep a push going for him. It’s no fault of Cesaro: he is a star in his own right. He is completely over with crowds right now. It’s Creative that can’t seem to put enough faith in him. That’s their problem. Dolph Ziggler…he just needs to turn heel already.

But enough of that. Onto the actual match.

The match was short and sweet, a filler to hype up the crowd for the upcoming show. All six men performed well, but the real star was Cesaro, whose incredible athleticism was on full display as he rounded out the match, dizzying Barrett with a mind-blowing 20 spins right into Neville’s Red Arrow finisher.

There’s not much to analyze here, since WWE still doesn’t know what to do with these six men who all deserve better.

John Cena’s US Open Challenge

Suck it, Donald Trump.

Cena (for once) skipped the dramatics, wryly acknowledging how much we hate his endless promos before the Open Challenge itself, and got right to business. Zeb Colter entered, introducing Del Rio to a pop, and the match was underway.

Cena and Del Rio have worked together before, and put on a fairly exciting match. Del Rio’s knockout of The Champ came out of nowhere, and even though we all knew Cena would be dropping the title, the pinfall was still surprising to actually witness.

Cena’s run as US Champ has been one of the best runs of his career. The US Title desperately needed a revitalization, and Cena’s weekly defenses gave the belt legitimacy once more.

I was never too invested in Alberto Del Rio, but his return definitely surprised me, something that’s pretty hard to do. And although I was hoping to see Ambrose get another run with the US title now that he is over as hell with the WWE Universe, I’m curious to see how Del Rio handles the belt in Cena’s absence. His return raises a lot of questions, like how WWE is going to handle another name when so many of their current Superstars are underutilized, or whether or not Del Rio and Cena will have a proper feud before Cena regains the title.

Whatever happens, though, I’m sure it will be interesting to see.

Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt (Hell in a Cell Match)

Roman Reigns has done some of his best work in this feud with Bray Wyatt. It’s almost hard to believe this storyline has been going since Money in the Bank. Bray Wyatt can’t be left out of the praises either, consistently bringing his A-game despite taking a backseat in the focus of the feud to Strowman’s introduction or the constant showcase of Reigns’ strength.

This match was a full-on spotfest packed with kendo sticks and tables, but was absolutely exciting to watch nevertheless. Reigns and Wyatt’s hostility and aggression shone through their near-frenzied punches. The spots were incredible too, including Reigns being shot into propped up kendo sticks and Wyatt being tossed into a table.

Now that this rivalry is over and both Reigns and Wyatt moving on to new feuds (more on that later), I hope Creative keeps their momentum going into Survivor Series.

The New Day (sans Xavier Woods) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Tag Team Championship)

The New Day is widely recognized as the most interesting thing in the WWE right now. With most of the company’s singles talent crammed into repetitive six-man tag team matches or meaningless feuds, audiences have latched onto these three gems to keep things fresh week in and week out. They have been the perfect champs and hilarious heels, and that comedy extended into this pay-per-view.

The Dudley Boyz have certainly had better matches than this one. Aside from their both near the beginning of the match, their performance lacked the spark that made them to exciting to watch. Their mocking of Kingston and Big E was cute, but a bit out of place. That aside, they still performed decently.

Woods’ absence was keenly felt tonight. You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, I suppose. However, Big E and Kingston put on a hell of a show. Kingston in particular shone, dropping both Boyz with dropkicks.

The Dudley Boyz will take the belts away from The New Day. It’s a no-brainer. Now, the only question is when.

Charlotte vs. Nikki Bella (Divas Championship)

Anyone following me on Twitter will know that I am not by any means a Nikki Bella fan. I was furious when she surpassed AJ Lee’s record, and she and her sister have never really impressed me in the ring.

That being said, Nikki put on one of the best performances of her career last night, playing the heel in ever respect. She and Charlotte absolutely brawled, going at it with ferocity that has been missing from the Divas Division since the days of Stratus and Lita. Highlight? Nikki slamming Charlotte into the apron. Charlotte sold wonderfully and it made Nikki look very powerful. Obviously this match was nowhere near the likes of Bayley vs. Banks at Takeover this summer, but it was a step in the right direction.

Most of my criticism for this match lies in the characterization of the champ. Charlotte is a damn good wrestler. She has put on stellar matches against Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Natalya. She was a good choice to oust Nikki. However, Creative has positively butchered Charlotte’s character, reducing her to Ric Flair’s daughter: a legacy she has embraced but also tried to keep separate from her own.

Charlotte needs better writing, period. If we as an audience are going to root for her, we need to be given a reason to. Highlight her competitiveness by pitting her against Sasha, who will be the champion herself in due time. Turn Paige heel for good and let them go at it, creating a feud about dominance over a division they both fought to improve instead of petty cattiness.

Those “We Want Sasha” chants won’t go away. I say it’s time The Boss got a shot at the title.

Seth Rollins vs. Demon Kane (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Honestly, having seen the buildup to this match, did anyone expect any better?

I will praise Seth Rollins to the sun and back, but not even his in-ring prowess could save this dud of a match. It lacked electricity and intensity, highlighted when Seth’s powerbomb of Kane into the announce table didn’t even break the damn thing.

The end of the match was its saving grace. Seth executed a Frog Splash and Pedigree to get the pinfall. I also feel the need to mention that Kane looked good for a man nearing 50. Though the match itself was subpar, his performance was decent. Also, it was refreshing to see Seth win clean.

I miss the Curb Stomp too.

Something interesting I noticed going into the match was the pop Rollins got from the LA crowd. Cheers for him are growing more and more common, especially before his pay-per-view matches. I wonder if Creative is taking note of this. We all know a babyface turn is coming, but it might come sooner rather than later if they decide to capitalize on it.

Kevin Owens vs. Ryback (Intercontinental Championship)

Blink and you would’ve missed this match.

I honestly don’t have much to say about this match. I am a huge fan of both performers, Owens especially, but this feud lacks any real spark. I would rather see Neville or Cesaro challenge for this title.

Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (Hell in a Cell Match)

Bloody hell.

See what I did there?

This match was anything but PG. It got so bloody that most of the photos from the match on WWE.com are in black and white. Seriously, go and see for yourselves.

This was a prime example of simplicity being best for business. The story was simple: two guys really hate each other and have a lot to prove. And despite the fact that we were made to sit through the same promo we have been seeing since Lesnar conquered the Streak about a thousand times, it didn’t even need much buildup.

The match was brutally physical from start to finish. The Deadman looked more intimidatingly dominant than he’s looked in a long time, appearing like his old self as he issued a beatdown on Lesnar. The brawl made use of every inch of the ring: ringposts, chairs, the exposed plywood under the ring…everything. They literally tore the house down.

But even the Phenom couldn’t tame the Beast this time, after Lesnar hit him with a low blow (karma’s a bitch) followed by an F-5 for the win. The Undertaker wasn’t given much of a chance to recover even after Lesnar left, being assaulted by the Wyatt family to end the show.

A suiting end to an intense and enjoyable rivalry, this match also set up a potential Survivor Series team match for November: Team Wyatt vs. Team Undertaker. Could that bring back Demon Kane, coming to his brother’s assistance? Might some young talent, maybe a different Demon, be called up to help?

Looking Ahead

WWE’s fanservice Shield reunion last week proved one thing: The Shield is as enthralling as ever. And with dropping ratings, we might be seeing a Triple Threat for the World Heavyweight Title sooner rather than later. I’ve been under the assumption that this would be the main event of Wrestlemania 32, but now? With Seth keeping his title, I’m wondering just what Creative has in mind.