Video: Gabby Books It – AJ Styles vs. Seth Rollins

Hey guys! I made a video version of my previous article, check it out! See you all Monday for my RAW recap!

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Breaking: Shinsuke Nakamura is coming to NXT!

The rumors are confirmed. The King of Strong Style will make his WWE debut at NXT Takeover: Dallas!

“He has taken on a who’s who of the best grapplers in the world in his career, facing the likes of Finn Bálor, Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, WWE Performance Center Head Coach Matt Bloom and The Beast Incarnate himself, Brock Lesnar,” WWE.com posted tonight following the announcement.

Nakamura will be a massive boost for the company. His in-ring prowess and electric charisma make him one of the most exciting performers to watch int he entire world, and the atmosphere of NXT will be a fantastic way to groom him for a main roster debut.

Me too, Finn. Me too.

At Dallas, Nakamura will be facing Sami Zayn in what could very well be Zayn’s final appearance on NXT. After that, expect Nakamura to put on classics with the likes of Finn Balor and Hideo Itami.

Gabby Books It: AJ Styles after Wrestlemania

AJ Styles and Wrestlemania in the same sentence. Sounds surreal, doesn’t it? But it’s reality: a wonderful, wonderful reality that Styles will likely have a high-profile match at Wrestlemania 32.

At this point in time, Styles looks set to clash with Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania. Whether it’s a mere grudge match or a match with a title on the line, I cannot say, but this feud seems perfect for the Showcase of the Immortals. However, whatever Owens and Styles build together in the buildup to Wrestlemania will end at Wrestlemania, as it should. Wrestlemania is no stepping stone: it’s the be all, end all of rivalries.

That being said, AJ Styles isn’t just a part-time treat to be showcased at Wrestlemania. He is contracted for several years at the very least, so the WWE needs to have a direction for him following Wrestlemania. And, as it happens, I happen to fancy myself better than Creative at booking things with my experience as an online college student with a blog.

So, without further ado, here’s my first installment of Gabby Books It! Keep in mind that this isn’t what I think will happen, just what I think should happen.

Alright, we’ve arrived at the RAW after Mania. Triple H is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion still, and AJ Styles is fresh off a hard-won victory over Kevin Owens, who is now entering a feud with a debuting NXT Champion Sami Zayn. The Authority, confident as ever in Triple H, declares he will defend his championship at Extreme Rules against the winner of that night’s main event: AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar.

That night, Styles performs incredibly against a beaten-down Lesnar, who fought against all members of the Wyatts at Wrestlemania the day before. And he looks to be pulling off the impossible: defeating the Beast incarnate, when suddenly, everything stops, and music we haven’t heard in six months blares into the auditorium:

Seth Rollins.

Lesnar, still harboring a deep hatred for the man who stole his title the year before, prepares for another fight, and Styles takes advantage of the distraction, getting the victory.

The audience is still going nuts, searching for Rollins, but the Architect doesn’t appear. Styles goes to Extreme Rules, hellbent on winning the title. Roman Reigns is out of the picture, back at the bottom of the ladder and basically making the Authority’s lives a living hell. He’s given a match against Kevin Owens at Extreme Rules.

And then, at Extreme Rules, the League of Nations attacks Styles during his match against Triple H. Styles fights them off, getting a win via DQ, and Triple H orders the League to teach Styles a lesson. Suddenly, Rollins’ music hits again, only this time the man himself comes running out, clearing the League out. Triple H approaches Rollins, offering him his hand and pointing at Styles, and for a moment, Seth seems to take it. But then, he attacks Triple H, taking him down and turning to Styles.

They lock eyes, and Rollins attacks Styles.

“That is MY belt!” he roars. “MY opportunity!”

The two brawl into the audience, and the cameras fade to black.

The next night on RAW, Seth Rollins opens the show with a promo about how his time away had given him a lot of time to think. He realized he doesn’t need the Authority, or anyone, and that he’s going to take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship back. He calls out Triple H, but it’s Styles who answers the call. He tells Seth that a lot has changed since he’s been gone, and if Seth wants to get a shot at the title . . .

“You’ll have to go through me, because I’m not going anywhere.”

Thus begins a bitter feud as each man tries to prove who is more worthy. Have Rollins slam Styles for taking so long to come to the WWE, and Styles mock Rollins’ 26 months stuck in developmental. And then, at Payback, put the two in an Iron Man match.

The two battle it out, absolutely tearing each other apart, but in the end, Rollins comes out on top, just barely. Styles doesn’t need this win to remain credible, after all. He’s AJ freaking Styles. Rollins, however, is returning from an awfully booked reign.

(At Payback, Reigns takes back the title)

Next up? Money in the Bank.

Styles and Rollins continue to clash in a war of dominance, and it all culminates in two dominant performances at Money in the Bank. Rollins declares that he won with a cash-in once, and he’ll do it again. Styles just keeps piling on wins.

At Money in the Bank, Styles and Rollins are the last to remain in a brutal match featuring Dolph Ziggler, Sheamus, Bray Wyatt, and Neville. For a moment, it looks like Rollins is going to once again be Mr. Money in the Bank, but then, STyles hits the Styles Clash on him and captures the briefcase.

This frees Rollins, in a way, to face Roman Reigns for the title at SummerSlam, where he takes it, and Styles remains a constant thorn in his side (though he enters into other feuds in the meantime) until Wrestlemania 33.

Well, this is never going to happen. Triple H should probably not be champion for so long, and Reigns will likely be the WWE’s biggest focus going into 2016. Also, booking is never simple, and there are probably a lot of holes in this story. But a girl can dream, and this right here? This is it.

So, where would you like to see Styles going following Wrestlemania? Do you agree with my booking choices? How would you book it! Let me know in the comments!

RAW Recap/Analysis – January 25, 2016

Wow.

For the first time in two years, I’m watching a RAW after the Royal Rumble with an optimistic point of view! And what a feeling it is! From the RAW debut of the Phenomenal One: AJ Styles to the triumphantly hilarious return of the Rock, this Monday’s show pulled out all the stops.

And boy, did it pay off.

The Authority

Vince and Steph opened the show, triumphant as anyone would expect. Vince cut a promo mocking Reigns and celebrating Triple H’s victory at last night’s Royal Rumble, name-dropping fan favorites Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles both.

Stephanie then introduced Triple H, clad in his familiar suit and tie and wearing the WWE World Heavyweight Championship belt. Don’t let the dress clothes fool you, The Game still has, well, game. Triple H put down Reigns’ lack of respect for him, saying that he needed to learn his place in life.

“I don’t need to be WWE Champion,” Triple H proclaimed. “But I want to be WWE Champion…because people like Roman Reigns want to be WWE Champion and they don’t deserve it.”

Say what you want about Triple H, but his heel game (so many game puns) was strong tonight.

He and Stephanie announced that by the end of RAW, the main event of Fastlane (which I was at last year! Oh, memories!) would be announced, and the winner there would go on to main event the Showcase of the Immortals!

Dolph Ziggler vs. Kevin Owens

Man, the WWE must really be trying to appease us fickle internet fans!

Owens started off strong, attacking Ziggler like a man possessed. But Ziggler’s own fast-paced offense kept him on his toes and eventually rolling out of the ring to attempt to recover. But Owens would not be subdued that easily, especially now that he’s recaptured the hellacious ferocity he had when he first made his debut.

Ziggler nearly got a pinfall, but Owens got out at two. The two exchanged dodges, really, hurting themselves more than each other before further evening things out as Owens hit a suplex and Ziggler hit a Superkick.

Owens hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb soon after, securing the victory.

Ziggler and Owens are almost polar opposites when it comes to style, but they mesh so well in the ring, always putting on thrilling matches together. Additionally, Owens continued to sell his injury from last night, adding a wonderful touch of realism and grit to his character.

Bright things are coming for the former indy darling. Fight Owens fight!

Bo Dallas vs. Flo Rida (Rap Battle)

This is not a joke. The Social Outcasts antagonized Flo Rida, bringing him into the ring and promptly challenging him to a rap battle. Flo Rida played along, but only to introduce their next opponents:

The Dudley Boyz vs. The Social Outcasts

The Dudleys had their hands full from the start, with the very vocal Social Outcasts utilizing as many distracting antics as possible before starting a Bo Train (a group victory lap).

The Dudleys were fairly dominant throughout, though Axel in particular put on a good showing, taking beatings from both Bubba and DeVon. Heath Slater looked to distract Bubba, but Flo Rida intervened, knocking Slater into the ring. and distracting him right into a double-team before getting Axel in the 3-D.

Overall, Flo Rida played a decent purpose, putting both Dudleys over and clearly having a blast. The segment served its purpose, and was good to be placed early on in the broadcast. However, I do hope we see the Social Outcasts get some wins soon.

AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

068_RAW_01252016rf_0819-236455053.jpgBackstage, Renee introduced AJ Styles, but Jericho interrupted his interview before he could get a full statement out. He lauded Styles’ incredible international career, but reminded Styles that the WWE was a whole new world.

“Welcome to the big leagues, kid.”

Isn’t Styles like, in his late thirties? Okay, Jericho, okay. You do you, buddy.

Styles started with his swift, physical offensive style, hammering Jericho with a series of punches and a flying clothesline. Jericho fought back, landing a dropkick and suplex onto the former TNA star, but he quickly powered back with some hits and kicks of his own before taking a savage bump on the apron.

Styles got momentum soon after, but Jericho had some of his own. The two exchanged near-falls before Jericho locked in his submission hold. Styles didn’t tap, powering his way to the ropes from the center of the ring to Jericho’s outrage. Styles landed a kick before climbing to the top rope, narrowly missing a huge splash. Jericho went for one of his own, but Styles rolled him up for his first WWE victory.

After the match, Styles offered Jericho a handshake, which he accepted, but there was clearly tension still there. Fastlane, anyone?

The match was a bit uneven, more likely due to a lack of preparation, not a lack of talent. If the WWE looks to keep these guys feuding into Fastlane before putting Styles against Owens, they will have to work on building a pace together more in the future.

That being said . . .

I can’t say enough about AJ Styles. The man not only makes every move he makes exciting, he sells as well as Dolph Ziggler. When he’s wrestling, your eyes are glued to his every move, he pulls you in absolutely and completely. He is a once-in-a-generation talent, and the WWE is beyond lucky to have landed him.

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

Sasha taunted Becky before the bell even rang, and when it did, Becky attacked viciously. But Sasha was no victim, fighting back just as quickly. Becky was angry, however, hitting Sasha with a brutal suplex.

Sasha threw Lynch into the Banks statement, but before Becky could tap, Charlotte threw herself into the mix, attacking Becky and throwing Sasha out of the ring. Sasha returned, but Charlotte laid her out as well, holding her title into the air with pride to end the segment.

Charlotte going after Becky was an interesting development. I’m glad to see the WWE not simply shoving the Irishwoman to the side. She’s captured the hearts of the WWE Universe, and while Charlotte and Sasha might be the match for Mania, Becky should absolutely remain in the picture. Her plucky energy and passion is much-needed in a division heavy with heels.

Bray Wyatt vs. Kane

In a rekindling of their 2015 rivalry, Bray Wyatt and Kane faced off in a highly physical match. With Strowman, Harper, and Rowan surrounding the ring, Wyatt put on a dominant showing against a surprisingly energetic Kane.

The match was short, and soon enough Bray Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail on Kane to pick up the win. However, the action did not end there. Strowman gave Kane his beloved hugs, and Harper and Rowan double-teamed him down to the ground.

CAN YOU SMELLLLLLL

Many of us guessed it, but none of us were ready to hear the Rock, one of the best speakers in all of WWE history, give us a tour of backstage as he made his triumphant return home to his hometown of Miami.

The man is a freaking legend.

Mic in hand, the Rock asked Miami if they were ready for Wrestlemania, and beautifully forgot who Byron Saxton (“that other black guy who I don’t know”) was. He acknowledged some costumed guys at ringside before being interrupted by the New Day, who told him who Byron Saxton was and bragged about the beating they inflicted on the Usos, and then asked where the People’s Champ’s gold was.

“He said he did it for the people, but he did it for the paycheck,” Xavier Woods said smugly.

Then the Rock called the New Day’s unicorn horns llama penises, and I laughed so hard I missed half of what happened next.

I did catch the Rock challenging the New Day to get into the ring and face him, and the New Day refused, saying Miami didn’t deserve them, but the Rock had a plan B . . .

. . . cue the Usos coming out, and chaos ensuing. All three went nuts on the New Day, with the Rock hitting the People’s Elbow right on poor Xavier Woods.

Wrestlemania can’t come soon enough.

Natalya & Paige vs. Alicia Fox & Brie bella

Natalya and Paige won easily, with Paige picking up the win.

That’s all there is to it. It blows my mind that this is supposedly the same Divas division that is producing something as revolutionary as Becky vs. Sasha vs. Charlotte.

It really does feel like there are the Total Divas and the wrestlers, which is a real shame because Natalya and Paige are both very talented. Alicia Fox is an underrated talent as well. Brie has yet to impress me, but if Nikki improved, so can she.

Do better, WWE. Do better.

The Miz vs. Kalisto

Kalisto interrupted Miz as he complained about being interrupted in a delightful fashion, much to the moneymaker’s chagrin. The new US Champion put on a wonderfully quick, strong showing, quickly filing through his vast repertoire of high-flying moves.

The Miz staged a bit of a comeback, his frustration bleeding into his fighting as the crowd went to town insulting and antagonizing him. He seemed to find strength in his anger, very Kylo Ren-esque.

But his anger wasn’t enough to overpower Kalisto, who hit the Solida-Del-Sol for the pinfall.

Roman Reigns & Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus & Rusev

Reigns and Ambrose tagged in and out in quick succession, making a strong statement against both Sheamus and Rusev as Ambrose threw himself off the ropes and out of the ring to take both men out.

Both teams exchanged momentum, fighting with rabid intensity. Ambrose, especially, was on fire, still riding the crazy momentum from his performance at the Royal Rumble. It’s good to see the WWE using him and his wild charisma properly, allowing him to shine.

Rusev looked refreshingly vicious as well, dealing a wonderfully brutal beating to Ambrose before Sheamus joined in on the fun. Ambrose tagged a hot Reigns, who lay a beating on both Rusev and Sheamus. Sheamus, with the help of his team, almost got Reigns out with a Brogue, but Ambrose saved the match. Reigns hit a Spear to get the victory.

But it didn’t end there. Revenge was a dish best served with your brothers as Ambrose and Reigns both powerbombed Rusev through the announce table.

Oh, and the main event of Fastlane? A Triple Threat match between Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar. Yikes.

Overall, this “depleted” roster is really stepping up its game in the wake of John Cena, Seth Rollins, and Cesaro. Just imagine what sort of amazing stories we can have when they return.

But we don’t need to pine for their returns too much. While they get better, we have the likes of Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, and AJ Styles to carry us through Wrestlemania. Cheers, everyone. Things are looking up.

 

Royal Rumble 2016 Recap/Analysis

The road to Wrestlemania has begun, ladies and gentlemen.

And what a beginning the Royal Rumble was. Aside from the finish of the Rumble itself, young talent stole the show every step of the way: from AJ Styles to Sami Zayn to Dean Ambrose to Sasha Banks…the future has never looked so bright.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing match)

The match got very brutal, very fast, as Ambrose took Owens out of the ring, throwing him out of the ring and unloading on him with a kendo stick soon after. Owens fought back with a canonball into the barricade soon after. This time it was Owens who would beat Ambrose with the stick.

Physicality ruled this match. The men pulled out all of the stops, throwing each other through steel chairs, steps, the apron, and everything imaginable. Midway through the match, Ambrose even managed to hit Dirty Deeds on Owens twice, into a steel chair the second time.

He then sent Owens through a table with his flying elbow from the ropes, but even that couldn’t keep Owens down long enough for a victory. After exchanging heated, “I HATE YOUs” with each other, Owens hit the Pop-Up Powerbomb on Ambrose, setting up a group of chairs to throw Ambrose into, but Ambrose countered by sending Owens through two tables, securing a thrilling win.

In the words of my dad, “That’s Wrestlemania material.”

 

The New Day vs. The Usos (Tag Team Championship match)

The New Day entered gloriously, introducing us all to Francesca II, since, as Woods put it, “A brother’s got needs.”

The Usos started out strong, but with interference from Xavier Woods the New Day powered back, much to the crowd’s delight. The Usos seemed to be staging a comeback, but Big E powered back, getting a near-fall before hitting a harrowing move through the ropes.

A few splashes and dives later, Xavier Woods was the only man left on his feet. The Usos made a real comeback, nearly landing a pinfall on Kofi, but he kept his feet under the ropes, and a sneaky tag by Big E into the Big Ending landed the New Day another victory.

The New Day continues to amaze me with their endless charisma and skill in the ring. I cannot WAIT to see what they do next.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (United States Championship match)

Just like their other two bouts, Del Rio and Kalisto put on a fantastic clash of different styles. Del Rio took early control, pushing Kalisto around with ease before the Luchador utilized his agility and speed to mount a comeback.

Kalisto put on a wonderful fight, hitting Del Rio through the ropes and then again with a tilt-a-whirl. Del Rio tried taking control again, but Kalisto kept gaining momentum. However, Del Rio kept breaking it, even trying to unmask him at one point.

Kalisto hit a spinning DDT on the champion, but even that couldn’t get him the pinfall. He continued battering Del Rio with quick-paced moves, including his Solida-Del-Sol, but Del Rio grabbed the ropes. However, Kalisto survived long enough to once again reclaim the title he never should have lost in the first place.

Kalisto and Del Rio’s in-ring chemistry was as vivid as ever in this match, and Kalisto’s win made it even sweeter.

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch (Divas championship match)

Chemistry is an integral component of any wrestling match. You can have two very talented performers but not feel any investment whatsoever because their story just doesn’t ring true.

Becky Lynch came out strong, maintaining a swift, physical style that perfectly countered Charlotte’s heelish antics. She sent the champion flying out of the ring, and looked to be throwing quite the beatdown, but then Ric Flair intervened, kissing Becky before Charlotte threw her to the ground.

Charlotte took control after that, throwing Becky around and taunting her loudly. But Becky fought back, lifting Charlotte onto her shoulders and throwing her down to buy some recovery time before hitting Charlotte with a series of clotheslines and nearly locking in her submission move.

But once again, Charlotte’s father interfered, throwing his jacket on Becky to get Charlotte enough distraction for the win.

But the night didn’t end there, as Sasha Banks entered, taking out an already down Lynch before taking down Charlotte ferociously.

My friends, the Divas Revolution may very well have arrived.

Royal Rumble Match (WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match)

Entrant 1: Roman Reigns

(beaten down by the League of Nations)

Eliminated by Triple H

Entrant 2: Rusev

Eliminated by Reigns.

Entrant 3: AJ Styles

Eliminated by Kevin Owens

Entrant 4: Tyler Breeze

Eliminated by Reigns and Styles

Entrant 5: Curtis Axel

Eliminated by AJ Styles

Entrant 6: Chris Jericho

Eliminated by Dean Ambrose

Entrant 7: Kane

Eliminated by Braun Strowman

Entrant 8: Goldust

Eliminated by Titus O’Neil

Entrant 9: Ryback

Eliminated by Big Show

Entrant 10: Kofi Kingston

Eliminated by Chris Jericho

Entrant 11: Titus O’Neil

Eliminated by Big Show

Entrant 12: R-Truth

Eliminated by Kane

Entrant 13: Luke Harper

Eliminated by Brock Lesnar

Entrant 14: Stardust

Eliminated by Luke Harper

Entrant 15: Big Show

Eliminated by Braun Strowman

Entrant 16: Neville

Eliminated by Luke Harper

Entrant 17: Braun Strowman

Eliminated by Brock Lesnar

Entrant 18: Kevin Owens

Eliminated by Sami Zayn

Entrant 19: Dean Ambrose

Eliminated by Triple H

Entrant 20: Sami Zayn

Eliminated by Braun Strowman

Entrant 21: Erik Rowan

Eliminated by Brock Lesnar

Entrant 22: Mark Henry

Eliminated by the Wyatts

Entrant 23: Brock Lesnar

Eliminated by the Wyatt Family

Entrant 24: Jack Swagger

Eliminated by Brock Lesnar

Entrant 25: The Miz

Crap…I don’t know.

Entrant 26: Alberto Del Rio

Eliminated by Roman Reigns

Entrant 27: Bray Wyatt

Eliminated by Triple H

Entrant 28: Dolph Ziggler

Eliminated by Triple H

Entrant 29: Sheamus

Eliminated by Reigns

Entrant 30: Triple H

WINNER: TRIPLE H

Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you, along with most other wrestling news outlets. While predictable, the ending sets up a good story going into a Wrestlemania without John Cena, Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, or Cesaro. And not just that, I barely stopped smiling the entire night. This was, all in all, a fun show to watch.

AJ Styles owned the show absolutely and completely. His entrance was as glorious as it could be, and boy, I cannot WAIT to see what else he does on the road to Mania. I couldn’t take my eyes off him his entire time in the ring, and the WWE Universe will be the same as he makes a name for himself in the WWE.

Welcome, AJ. We love you. Chris Jericho shouldn’t have outlasted you.

And to those of you upset with Triple H as champ . . . good. You’re supposed to be pissed. The ultimate victories are saved for Wrestlemania. This is storytelling. Roman Reigns winning tonight would have been a disaster. Dean Ambrose as a double champion would be great, but at this point is simply not gonna happen.

This feeling, this euphoria and anticipation that I feel as I write this recap? THAT is what makes wrestling so magical. That is why I keep coming back, even after everything Creative has put me through.

Bring on Fastlane. Bring on Wrestlemania. I cannot wait.

DON’T SCREW THIS UP.

 

 

Royal Rumble 2016 Predictions

The buildup to this year’s iconic pay-per-view event has been thrilling at best and inconsistent at worst. It’s hard to pin down exactly how I think this year’s Royal Rumble will go, because honestly? There is so much good stuff here. So much I cannot complain about.

However, there is also a lot of questionable stuff going on as well. The near-superhuman booking of Roman Reigns. Kalisto losing the US Championship after one day. The misuse of the Social Outcasts. Chris Jericho’s awfully scripted “trash talk.”

So, on that cheery note, here are my Royal Rumble 2016 predictions!

Darren Young and Damien Sandow, The Dudley Boyz, Mark Henry and Jack Swagger, and The Ascension (Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Royal Rumble Qualifying Match)

Wow, a match with actual stakes? What a novel concept!

I’m actually kind of surprised most of these men aren’t already in the Royal Rumble, but at the same time, slightly relieved it won’t just be a jobber-fest (I’m so sorry, guys, I really do love you all and you deserve better).

In a fairytale world, I would love to see Darren Young and Damien Sandow go over the Dudley Boyz and shock the world, but realistically, the tag team vets have this one in the bag.

Winners: The Dudley Boyz

The New Day vs. the Usos (WWE Tag Team Championship)

Thank GOD for the New Day.

Easily the best thing about the WWE’s dismal tag team division, the New Day’s raucous antics with and without the twin belts have been hilarious and wildly entertaining. Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E have found their niche and are thriving in it.

The Usos, while not nearly as fun, have performed admirably since making their return in November, but I cannot see them defeating the New Day just yet. If they do, a Wrestlemania rematch is imminent. If they don’t, the New Day will retain through Wrestlemania at the very least.

Winners: The New Day

Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto (United States Championship)

Kalisto’s massive upset on Monday Night RAW all those weeks ago to capture the US Title was one of the most thrilling, joyful moments the WWE has produced in months. After Sin Cara’s injury left him without a  partner, Kalisto has broken out as a singles sensation, capturing the fascination of the WWE Universe with his infectious enthusiasm and exciting in-ring style.

Del Rio has benefited from this feud as well, putting on his best matches since his return alongside the Luchador and recapturing the heelish arrogance that makes him far more interesting than that ridiculous “Mexamerica” gimmick.

While yet another title change might be a bit odd, I think it’s for the best. Kalisto is exactly the kind of US Champion the WWE needs right now, and he could easily carry it through the Road to Wrestlemania.

Winner: Kalisto

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch (Divas Championship)

This is how the Divas Revolution should have been booked from the start.

Ever since this rivalry bloomed in early January, Divas Champion Charlotte and Becky Lynch have both finally hit their stride in a division that has long struggled with building proper feuds that we can invest in.

As a heel, Charlotte has improved massively on the mic and has developed an arrogant persona that people love to hate.

But it’s Becky Lynch who has catapulted this rivalry into the stratosphere, building up this match expertly with passionate promos and exciting matches with the likes of Alicia Fox and Brie Bella. As a true underdog, she has rallied the WWE Universe behind her in ways Creative used to only dream about.

Had you asked me a month ago, iI would have put Charlotte as the clear victor. But with all of the momentum Lynch has built for herself in the past few weeks, I think the WWE might very well take a chance on her.

Also, imagine how AMAZING a triple threat match between the three NXT women at Wrestlemania would be.

Winner: Becky Lynch

Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens (Last Man Standing for Intercontinental Title)

This right here is the best feud on the entire roster right now, putting the WWE World Heavyweight Championship’s current story to shame. Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens have absolutely electric in-ring chemistry and have expertly built a deeply personal, physical feud that is perfectly suited to a match as brutal as a Last Man Standing match.

This match could realistically go either way based on what sort of path the WWE wants to take into Wrestlemania. Ambrose could feud with any number of Superstars (Chris Jericho? A debuting NXT star?) into Mania. Owens could give Sami Zayn or Finn Balor a target if they make their debuts.

Hell, if AJ Styles debuts tonight, he could feud with either one of them! Or, preferably, set up a grudge match (somehow) between Owens and Lesnar.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Royal Rumble Match (WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

I’ve written extensively about my thoughts on who should and shouldn’t win this match, so I’ll keep this short and sweet:

Triple H vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania is inevitable. What better way to bring the Game back than by having him steal the belt? Expect strong performances from Bray Wyatt, Reigns, and Lesnar. And keep an eye out for debuts from Finn Balor and AJ Styles.

Winner: Triple H

 

RAW Recap/Analysis – January 18, 2016

Hello, folks! Before I get to the wrestling, I’ll follow RAW’s example and address what today means. This MLK Day, we remember one of the bravest souls to ever grave our nation. May his dream never die.

Now, onto the show!

RAW has been on a bit of an upswing lately, but this week, I got flashbacks to the lowest of the low times in creativity. It honestly blows my mind that a roster so flooded with talent can be so underutilized.

One versus All…again

Roman Reigns opened the show with the mic, declaring that on Sunday, his focus was all on one thing: Brock Lesnar. Furious, he demanded that Brock Lesnar come out to finish what he started immediately.

But it wasn’t the Beast who answered his call, it was Chris Jericho, who invited Reigns to join Lesnar on the Highlight Reel later that night. Reigns agreed instantly, and just like that, the League of Nations emerged, and Sheamus had just one question:

When did the Royal Rumble become Reigns versus Lesnar?

I was wondering the same thing…

Sheamus demanded to know why Jericho was hosting an interview with the favorites to win the Royal Rumble, and not inviting them. Jericho snarked back, and Del Rio angrily replied, talking about how his faction always rises to the occasion. Jericho snarked again. So Rusev tried discussing an apparently rotten childhood in Bulgaria, and Jericho made fun of his accent, reminding everyone that Rusev was the one Reigns eliminated to win the Royal Rumble last year.

Reigns then challenged Rusev to settle the score just then, and Jericho sweetened the deal: he would be the guest referee. Apparently, he must be on the Authority’s good side, because how else would he have that kind of authority?!

Rusev vs. Roman Reigns

Rusev looked strong in the match’s early seconds, sending a strong Reigns out of the ring and using the League of Nations to distract Reigns enough to instigate a painful-looking submission fest in the ring itself. Reigns fought out of it with some punches, hitting Rusev with a Samoan Drop, but another distraction allowed Rusev to hit Reigns with a spinning heel kick.

Rusev’s dominance continued, but he got cocky, allowing Reigns to almost power back. Rusev locked Reigns in a submission hold, but Reigns turned it into a DDT and then hit a flying clothesline and boot to the face to really stage a comeback. Reigns then threw the Bulgarian Brute into the turnbuckle, hitting him with a whopping ten punches. Rusev, however, nearly stole a pinfall, but some slow counting by Jericho kept Reigns in the fight.

Rusev then hoisted Reigns onto his shoulders, climbing the ropes, but Reigns hopped down, turning the move into a massive powerbomb, nearly getting the pinfall. But while Del Rio caught Jericho’s attention, Sheamus pulled Reigns out of the ring and threw him into the barrier. In retaliation, Jericho sent Sheamus to the back. At that moment, Barret caught Jericho’s attention, yelling angrily, and got kicked out as well. Then, of course, Del Rio climbed onto the ropes and began yelling, getting himself expelled as well.

Rusev, while stalking Jericho, was then taken out by a Superman Punch.

Backstage, Stephanie McMahon confronted Jericho, claiming he didn’t have the authority to do any of what he just did.

Natalya vs. Brie Bella

A Total Divas storyline. Paige helping a babyface. Yeah, I hate this too.

Natalya carried some early momentum, hitting Brie with a mean dropkick, but Brie got some momentum of her own with her husband’s kicks. But it wouldn’t be enough to get Natalya down, as she instantly locked in the Sharpshooter for the pinfall.

That’s it. That’s all that happened. I’m having flashbacks tot he state of the Divas Division last year at this time…and it’s horrifying.

I’m not a Brie fan, but Natalya and Paige have a massive wealth of talent in the ring, and seeing them used this way is, frankly, a harsh reminder that the Divas Revolution was all for naught with this Creative team.

The Wyatt Family vs. The Dudley Boyz & Ryback

I honestly can’t believe this feud is still a thing. In real life.

The Dudleys took early control, with Bubba Ray laying a beatdown on Luke Harper, who managed to fight back with a strong kick. He tagged in Erik Rowan as Bubba Ray tagged in DeVon, whom Rowan laid a brutal beating to before tagging in Bray, who nearly got the pinfall before tagging in Harper, who tossed DeVon into the ropes in a stunning move. Rowan, tagging in, kept the momentum going.

But DeVon seemed to stage a hint of a comeback, hitting Bray with a clothesline and tagging Ryback in, who laid a beating down on Luke Harper and took Bray out at ringside. Bubba then got some payback, tagging in and hitting Harper with a powerbomb. Rowan tagged in, then got Harper in. Outside the ring, Strowman helped Wyatt fight Ryback.

In the ring, Luke Harper got the pinfall.

Hell yeah. In the words of Bray Wyatt, the apocalypse is here. As for me? I am ALL FOR IT!

Big Show vs. Heath Slater

After retreating from the ring early on in the match, Big Show dragged him back into the ring and got the pinfall, then beat down all of the Social Outcasts.

That’s all that happened.

Whatever.

Royal Rumble Lotto

Vince and Steph entered, both bragging about Vince to nobody’s surprise.

Speaking of no surprises, Roman Reigns will be the first entrant into the Royal Rumble.

Tamina Snuka vs. Becky Lynch

Becky was ferocious from the start, attacking Tamina with the ferocity that made her such a  hit at NXT. Tamina fought back with a hard kick and attempted to subdue the Lasskicker with a chokehold, but Becky broke free of it. Tamina hit her with a powerbomb, but even that couldn’t bring Lynch down.

Fighting back with some forearms and a dropkick, Lynch got her momentum back. With a series of fast-paced leg-drops and a move off the ropes with a Dis-Arm-Her, Becky Lynch picked up the win.

After the match, Becky declares in-ring that nothing would mean more than winning the Divas title at the Royal Rumble, and told Charlotte that she needed an answer. Charlotte told her she hadn’t earned a title match, that she was in the back of the line. Becky Lynch then appealed to Ric himself, saying Charlotte lacked his bravery in not accepting her challenge.An infuriated Flair accepted her challenge on his daughter’s behalf.

I have nothing new to say about this. Becky is absolutely on fire right now, and it’s about time that Creative give her the push she deserves.

Dean Ambrose & Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio & Sheamus

With Kevin Owens on commentary, Kalisto’s quick wrestling kept Sheamus on his toes. When Del Rio interfered, Ambrose came to the Luchador’s assistance, sending him over the ropes in a back body drop onto the two heels.

Kalisto and Sheamus both laid down beatings on each other during commercials, but both Ambrose and Del Rio tagged in hot. Ambrose took control, hitting Del Rio with a slew of quick moves including a swinging neckbreaker and suicide dive outside of the ring.

Del Rio, after throwing Ambrose into the barricade, brought the action back into the ring as Sheamus tagged in. Sheamus wore down Ambrose and tagged Del Rio back in to continue the beatdown. Del Rio set up a move from the top rope, but Ambrose tossed him back into the ring, hitting Del Rio off the top rope and getting a tagged Sheamus with a clothesline.

Kalisto finally tagged in, going absolutely nuts on Sheamus and kicking Del Rio away from the ropes. A Solida Del Sol almost got the pinfall, but Del Rio interfered. Ambrose took him out of the ring, but Kevin Owens gave Del Rio a distraction to knock out Ambrose. Sheamus hit Kalisto with the Brogue Kick for the pinfall.

Big E vs. Jey Uso

Backstage, the New Day held an emotional funeral for Francesca the trombone and vowed to avenge her.

Big E seemed to have some help from above, indeed, as he flung Jey around early on, backing him into the corner and kicking him in the side. But Jey, showing off some slick dance moves as he did so, powered back with a splash and dropkick.

Out of the ring, however, Big E hit Jey with a brutal back body drop. Big E maintained his momentum throughout the break, but a failed splash on the ring’s apron gave Jey a chance to start fighting back, sending the man into the barricade. Going to the top rope, he hit Big E with a splash and Samoan Drop, getting a near-pinfall.

But it was Big E in the end who would emerge victorious with the help of his boys.

Rest in pieces, Francesca, we’ll miss you.

Neville, Mark Henry, R-Truth & Titus O’Neil vs. The Ascension, Tyler Breeze, & Stardust

I couldn’t bring myself to properly recap this. The wrestling itself was good, but without any story whatsoever and so much going on, I gave up. Whatever, it’s not like I actually get paid to write these recaps, right?

The good: Neville picked up the win.

The bad: it was on Tyler Breeze.

The ugly: the booking of this.

Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel

Paul Heyman interrupted Jericho’s introduction, wonderfully confident as ever. The two exchanged jabs, and Heyman somehow managed to make the Royal Rumble sound like the best thing in the history of wrestling.

Lesnar’s very presence eclipsed anything Jericho said in response to Heyman, and he looked absolutely terrifying as he strolled into the ring. Reigns entered soon after, looking like a man on a mission. Lesnar stalked the ring like a great white shark, walking circles around the two with all of the ease he easily has.

Reigns hit Lesnar with a Spear, taking him down, but the League of Nations interfered. Not that Lesnar cared, taking them out with ease and delivering an F-5 to Sheamus. Reigns then hit Lesnar with another Spear, and the Wyatt family appeared. Luke Harper took Reigns out with a clothesline, and Wyatt introduced Reigns to Sister Abigail. Luke Harper hit Lesnar with a mean kick, as did Rowan.

Bray then hit the Sister Abigail on Lesnar, and the Wyatts stood tall at the segment’s end.

Okay, okay, as smug as I can be about how RAW is booked, I’ll be the first to admit how very surprised and pleased I was with the Wyatts being the ones to stand strong at the end of tonight.

It blows my mind, really, how the same people that book storylines as enrapturing as the feuds between Becky and Charlotte and Kevin Owens and Ambrose, who book surprising segments like the one which closed tonight, are the same people who book Natalya in a match that lasts a minute and a half, and that ridiculous tag match.

There is so much good going on right now, but if the WWE doesn’t up its consistency the bad will overshadow it all.

 

 

RAW Recap/Analysis – January 11, 2016

RAW has been on a bit of a creative upswing. Yes, their biggest championship is int he worst storyline out of the rest, but the show is featuring more consistent wrestling and more diversity. Tonight’s RAW even featured a title change.

Things are looking up, if not perfect.

Anyone but Roman

RAW opened with a good majority of the WWE’s roster out for Mr. McMahon to enter through, the good majority who would be competing in the Royal Rumble. The owners discussed all of the different possibilities for the company’s next WWE World Heavyweight Champion . . . Ziggler, New Day, even a Wyatt.

A grimly determined Roman Reigns then entered, title in hand, only to hear that in the main event, he would be in a “one versus all match.” And Dean Ambrose, his brother in arms, would have the first match of the night against Sheamus, who celebrated the news with a kick to Dean’s back.

Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus

Although Ambrose was stunned from being blindsided at the beginning of the match, Ambrose began to fight back. However, Sheamus took the fight outside of the ring, slamming Ambrose onto the announce table.

But Ambrose came back with a vengeance in the form of some brutal forearms. Sheamus went for the Brogue Kick, but Ambrose dodged it, took him out of the ring, and threw him into the barricade with a harrowing suicide dive.

His momentum wouldn’t last through the commercial break, however, with Sheamus nearly getting the self-proclaimed Lunatic Fringe to tap out, but clearly not getting it. Ambrose fought back with a Neckbreaker, earning a two-count, and went up to the ropes for the Flying Elbow, but Sheamus picked him off , nearly getting the White Noise in. A Tornado DDT almost got Ambrose the pinfall again, but Sheamus kicked out. Ambrose then hit him with the Flying Elbow, but Sheamus still stayed in the game. Ambrose hit Sheamus with a nasty clothesline, sending the Celtic Warrior out of the ring.

However, outside the ring, the brawl continued, with Sheamus sending Ambrose into the steel steps and Ambrose returning the favor by sending Sheamus into steel posts. They got counted out, and Ambrose looked ready to send Sheamus into the announce table, but Kevin Owens arrived, unloading on Dean. His assault could only be stopped by five security guards.

Backstage, an infuriated Dean Ambrose bypassed medics, wanting another piece of Kevin Owens. Elsewhere, Paul Heyman met With Steph and Vince, questioning whether his client Brock Lesnar was even interested in the Royal Rumble.

Stardust vs. Titus O’Neil

First off, Stardust’s David Bowie-inspired makeup was on point.

O’Neil dominated early on, his brute strength overpowering Stardust with ease. Stardust looked to hit a move off the ropes, but O’Nail simply caught him and slammed him down. Stardust didn’t fall just then, hitting his nemesis with some harsh kicks  and then a dropkick followed by a chin-lock. But the attempted sleeper lock wasn’t enough to bring the Big Dog down, as O’Neil slammed him from over his back onto the mat.

Stardust then scored a near-fall, but it was O’Neil who would get the victory. An infuriated Stardust then assaulted his victorious opponent outside of the ring, leaving him writhing in pain ringside as he made his exit.

I was going to comment on how this feud has zero depth despite containing two talented Superstars, but now it seems like things are finally getting a little interesting. Are we seeing two potential Rumble rivals? Or a lone singles match?

The Usos with Chris Jericho vs. The New Day

Chris Jericho entered, charismatic as always, re-declaring his intentions to save the WWE from, err, its ratings, I suppose. The New Day entered, intent on Jericho showing them some respect, but were cut off by the Usos, Slammys in hand. Chris Jericho set up the match himself: the Usos with him in their corner versus Big E and Kofi Kingston with Woods in theirs.

The two teams traded momentum throughout, with Chris Jericho watching on intently. But near the match’s middle, Xavier Woods brought out the trombone, playing in Jericho’s face after Kingston threw an Uso out of the ring. Jericho charged, annoyed, but Woods retreated.

Kofi continued to inflict punishment on Jimmy Uso, and the partying continued as well. Big E tagged in, ready to end things, but Jimmy caught the big man with a right hook. Kofi tagged in, and Jimmy looked to tag out, but Big E pulled Jey out of reach. Jey Uso took both members out with a thrilling splash, and seemed to have the victory, but big E kicked out and nearly got a pinfall with a belly-to-belly.

And then, Chris Jericho broke Xavier’s trombone in half, and my reaction was pretty similar to Xavier’s. The Usos took advantage of this distraction to score a roll-up win.

So. I love Chris Jericho. The man has more charisma in his eyebrow than I have in my whole body. But are we supposed to take him seriously in any sense if he continues to be scripted in such a  juvenile fashion? Come on, give the man something better than “rooty tooty booty.”

This may be the PG era, but we aren’t all children.

The Wyatt Family vs. The Social Outcasts

Adam Rose and Bo Dallas both made it a few seconds against Strowman before Axel tagged in, lasting a few MORE seconds. Bray Wyatt then tagged in, ready to finish the job before an enraged  Ryback came to their aid.

An all-out brawl broke out, with Ryback and the Outcasts sending the Wyatts out of the ring. The five stood tall to end the segment.

Well, at least they weren’t completely buried. Coulda been worse….

Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (United States Championship match)

Backstage, Renee Young interviewed an impassioned Kalisto, who spoke about not throwing away his shot (Hamilton, anybody?).

Del Rio entered first, bragging about how he’s the one who put John Cena on the shelf, keeping him out of The Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania. He then threatened to do the same thing to Kalisto, comparing the Luchador to a mosquito.

True to his word, in a way, Del Rio dominated early on in the match, tossing Kalisto around like a mouse and hitting a hard move off the top rope.

But with a well-timed Corkscrew, Kalisto looked to be making a comeback. But Del Rio turned a Huricana into a painful powerbomb. Del Rio rolled Kalisto out of the ring, kicking him against the barricade before returning him to the ring for a near-fall. But even after more brutal clotheslines, Kalisto couldn’t stay down, hitting the Hurricana.

Kalisto looked to hit a suicide dive on the champion, but Del Rio threw him into the barricade, not defeated just yet. Kalisto rallied during the commercial break, nearly hitting a splash from the top rope before Del Rio rolled to the side just in time. Del Rio hit a series of punches and a suplex on Kalisto, but Kalisto prevented a move from the top rope and nearly hitting the move Bayley made famous and getting a pinfall, and then another.

Del Rio powered back, however, launching Kalisto across the ring and turning the Solida Del Sol into a painful bump on the ropes. And Kalisto, again, fought back and scoring another near-fall before getting a rollup for the victory!

I screamed. I was so absolutely delighted, and Kalisto’s joy was palpable. He has a bright future ahead of him, and will provide a wealth of thrilling matches in his first reign.

Charlotte vs. Brie Bella

Backstage, Jojo interviewed Divas Champion Charlotte, who claimed Becky was the real villain and she was the victim. But as she entered for her match against Brie, an enraged Becky ambushed her, laying the champion out before being forced away by security.

“I’m taking your championship!” Becky declared, “And I’m taking your arm with me!”

A furious Ric Flair declared there would be no match, and pinned it all on Lynch before leaving the ring with his battered daughter. Backstage, Becky passionately proclaimed that SHE was the rightful champion, and she would not stop fighting for what she deserves.

This is very good booking like we should have had since the beginning of the failed Divas Revolution. Becky is shining like she should have been this whole time, and I’m loving it. She’s gotten the ferocity that made her such a star at NXT back, and has delivered consistently both in the ring and out. I’m glad to see her getting the attention she deserves.

Roman Reigns vs. All (yeah, seriously.)

Vince and Steph entered shortly after Roman to watch the show, introducing a slew of heels. Basically, every heel on the roster.

The rules: Reigns would face every heel they had brought out until he couldn’t move. Sounds delightful.

Kevin Owens faced off against Reigns first, and the two struggled for a short while before Reigns began to get the upper hand. Owens was sent out of the ring, where the New Day gave him a nice pep talk. It worked, apparently, as he beat Reigns into a corner and took him down for a near-fall with a clothesline. Reigns looked to power back, but a distraction by Sheamus gave Owens the advantage yet again.

Reigns fought back, plowing through interference by Stardust and Breeze, but then the familiar music hit, and Brock Lesnar appeared, absolutely cleaning house and decimating Roman Reigns with an F5.

Oh, how I’ve missed the Beast.

Overall, tonight’s RAW was fairly mediocre. Ambrose and Owens kept trucking on, making their feud one of the most electrifying in the company today. Becky Lynch continued to impress and amaze, even without a full match to do so. And, of course, Brock freaking Lesnar.

What did you think of RAW? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Why We Need John Cena

When RAW came to the Barclay’s Center for the last show of 2015, I heard something that I haven’t heard on WWE TV in a while… a huge pop and not that much heat for John Cena. Why? That’s simple. He was missed. In a wrestling world where we are constantly wanting pushes for the up-and-coming superstars, one thing remains consistent… WE NEED JOHN CENA!

Calm down, Cena-Hater Nation. Yes, his booking got stale over time and it seemed that once creative hit a wall, it was “Hey, let’s just give Cena the belt!” I’ll admit that as a fan of his, I was getting tired of seeing the same thing every week. But here is why we need Cena: He makes the WWE relevant. He’s the Tiger Woods, Tom Brady and LeBron James of wrestling. Non-wrestling fans can’t tell you who Dean Ambrose is, but they all know John Cena. The memes, the wishes he grants children through Make-A-Wish, his roles in movies like Trainwreck and Sisters and his co-hosting duties on the Today Show make him relevant to the mainstream, and therefore, give credibility to the WWE.

While Superstars like Batista and The Rock went on to a mainstream career, the difference is that John Cena does all of this while competing on a weekly basis, not just on high-profile pay-per-views. Before shooting Guardians of the Galaxy, Batista’s storyline was that he quit Evolution and the WWE. We haven’t seen him since. The Rock would come back occasionally for WrestleMania or SummerSlam, but then he disappeared as well. He began disassociating himself with wrestling and billing himself as Dwayne Johnson. The Rock came back and had his championship reign, but the belt was never defended on basic cable. Cena did all of his mainstream responsibilities while being the United States Champion and defending the belt each week. People who normally do not watch wrestling would stop on USA when Cena fought because they knew who he was. Non-fans who know I watch wrestling would stop be the day after RAW and tell me they were flipping through channels and stopped to watch Cena. My own girlfriend hates wrestling, but loves John Cena. She’ll even give the “U CAN’T SEE ME” gesture when she wins at something.

Cena’s shoulder surgery and his possibility of missing WrestleMania is a huge blow to the WWE, just as it is when Tiger misses the Masters. Sure, the hardcore fans who watch every show will still watch, but the casual fan who just watches WrestleMania or the non-fan who attends a watch party because they want to see John Cena wrestle, may not tune in. When that happens, the new superstars miss their opportunity to show those people what they can do. We all know what Kevin Owens, Sasha Banks, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins can do in the ring, but not having Cena at WrestleMania doesn’t give them a chance to show the mainstream audience. That is why, whether you like it or not, we need John Cena.

RAW Recap/Analysis – January 4, 2016

The countdown to the Royal Rumble has begun. With the kickoff to the Road to Wrestlemania fast approaching, this week’s RAW was important in further establishing feuds and hyping up the upcoming pay-per-view.

Opening Segment

Stephanie McMahon entered to kick off RAW, barely making it down the ramp before WWE World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns’ music hit so he could make an entrance of his own. He demanded Vince come out immediately, but Mr. McMahon wasn’t there yet.

Reigns declared the WWE was his family, and nobody would take it away. Stephanie claimed that nobody would defeat Vince, and that hope wouldn’t be enough to save him. When he loses, she said, she will use him and abuse him and once he’s at the bottom, nobody would remember him or care for him. Reigns simply replied with a threat of his ow: if he gets screwed over, her father would be going to the hospital.

I’m surprised by how short this segment was, but in a good way. Reigns was everything he should have been from the start: a man of few words and scary threats. It worked, too, with the crowd rallying behind the mostly quiet champ.

Neville vs. Kevin Owens

In a rematch from last week’s criminally short bout, Dean Ambrose entered first to lend his lunacy to the commentary team.  Neville wasted no time in enacting his high-speed, high-powered offense, taking control of the match swiftly with some wild jumps and kicks. Owens, however, powered back with a sick DDT, switching the momentum in an instant.

Owens nearly score a win via countout, but took the battle outside the ring after Neville made it back to the ring at the last second. He powered Neville into the barricade, but the nimble performer hit Owens with a dropkick and then a flip to regain control for a short time. But it would be Owens who would get his sweet revenge in the end, hitting Neville with the Pop-up Powerbomb for the victory.

Owens continued to beat down on Neville, and once again Ambrose interfered. Owens looked to once again powerbomb Ambrose into the announce table, but Ambrose reversed the game, hitting Owens with a Flying Elbow into the announce table and walking out with confidence.

Backstage, Vince McMahon arrived. Jojo attempted to ask him about last week’s arrest, but all Vince would say was that in this week’s main event, he would BE the law.

Titus O’Neil vs. Stardust

In their first match since Titus began interrupted Stardust’s backstage rambles, the so-named Prince of Dark Matter went on the early offensive. But O’Neil found an opening as the crowd’s chants of “CODY!” distracted Stardust and capitalized on it for the pinfall.

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

Backstage, an uneasy Charlotte approached Becky Lynch, asking if she asked for their match that night and revealing her father would once again be at ringside. Becky had nothing to do with it, but asked Charlotte to cooperate int he spirit of friendly competition. The young Flair didn’t seem to happy, but was no less confident about her chances.

Becky opened with a series of deep arm drags to her “friend” and maintained the high-paced speed, with both showing off their impressive athleticism. Charlotte gained some momentum after letting Becky help her up before hitting her with a solid arm to the chest and neckbreaker. Taunting Lynch as the crowd cheered in support for the fiery redhead, Charlotte beat on her with a hard clothesline and suplex.

But Becky wouldn’t lose that easily, fighting Charlotte off as Charlotte set her up on the ropes and locking in a submission hold before setting her up for an unsuccessful rollup. Hitting Charlotte with a series of kicks and a suplex, Becky looked to get another kick for the win, but Ric Flair interferred to get Charlotte a rollup win. Becky, however, reversed it, and picked up the victory.

An enraged Charlotte immediately assaulted her friend as she celebrated the victory, hitting her with a spear and holding up her title above Lynch’s beaten body at the center of the ring.

Ryback vs. Big Show

Not much happened in this match before the Wyatts appeared, ambushing Ryback after the big guy was thrown over the top rope by Big Show. Ryback tried to fight out of it as Big Show watched on with apathy, but Braun Strowman knocked him out with whatever his bear hug maneuver is called.

But the Wyatts weren’t finished yet, circling the ring with the giant still inside. Big Show made quick work of the original three before a face-off with Strowman provided enough distraction for the bearded men to take control and leave with a statement made.

I’m glad this entire match was all for putting the Wyatts over. About damn time!

Alberto Del Rio & Rusev vs. The Usos

Jimmy Uso and Del Rio started the match off, with Jimmy hitting a weakening clothesline on Del Rio before tagging his brother in. Del Rio tagged int he Bulgarian Brute, who was distracted by “We want Lana!” chants to briefly give Jey and advantage before the Samoan tagged his brother in. The two double-teamed a drop on Rusev, getting him far from a waiting Del Rio, but Rusev managed to get back to him. Del Rio came in hot, hitting a dropkick before tagging Rusev back in.

After a bit of lost momentum, Rusev hit a raw suplex off the ropes to take full control of the match. Their control remained solid until Jey Uso delivered a Samoan Drop, tagging in Jimmy as Rusev tagged in Del Rio. Del Rio looked to hit his submission maneuver, but Jimmy responded with a dropkick. A tagged in Jey hit a splash and nearly got the pinfall, but Rusev broke it up, getting sent over the top rope and taken out by Jey.

A recovered Del Rio drove Uso into a steel post and hit him with a kick from the ropes to steal the win.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Heath Slater

Heath Slater entered with the rest of the jobber crew: Adam Rose, Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. Ziggler took the early lead, hitting Slater with a dropkick and elbow drop. Slater powered back with a mean right hook and series of kicks, nearly scoring a pinfall.

Slater kept his mean streak going with two suplexes but wasn’t able to capitalize in time until his friends provided enough distraction for Slater to score a victory via rollup.

The four men declared themselves the Social Outcasts and promised more to come.

I’ll admit it: I love these guys. Mostly because I’ve gotten to know a lot of them through Xavier Woods’ gaming channel and social media, but it’s always great seeing them on television again. Their mini push is interesting to see. I hope they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

The New Day vs. Kalisto & The Dudley Boyz

The New Day happily entered with a new, Unicorn-tastic tron, celebrating their own greatness, but were interrupted by Christ Jericho, who declared his intentions for the Royal Rumble in a fun trash talk-off.

A rattled New Day struggled early on against the Dudleys and Kalisto, with Xavier Woods tagging in Kofi, only for the former singles star to find difficulty against Kalisto and then Bubba Ray, who held Kingston in the air before dropping him to the ground after several seconds. As DeVon tagged in, Woods was tagged in as well, but after the New Day was thrown out of the ring, things only got worse. Bubba Ray threw Kalisto onto all three of them, knocking them down quite solidly.

But Big E turned things around for the New Day, powering back before tagging in Woods, who continued the beatdown on Bubba Ray. Kofi tagged in, nearly getting a pinfall, but Kalisto tagged in, hitting a move off of Bubba Ray’s shoulder as he sat on the top rope. Woods interfered, stalling his momentum as a tagged in Big E hit a mean splash on the ring’s edge.

And things only got better as the New Day initiated their “Unicorn Stampede”and Woods broke out his trombone for a celebratory song.

At this point, my Tweet appeared on TV and I missed what happened next because I tried and failed to snap a photo. Sorry, guys, I’m only human.

The two teams traded momentum, but the Dudleyz failed to hit the 3D and Big E and Kofi double-teamed on DeVon for the win.

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus (WWE World Heavyweight Championship match)

With Mr. McMahon (sleeveless, mind you) as the guest referee, the odds were certainly not in Roman’s favor.

Sheamus started strong, employing a high-energy offense against Reigns with a series of kicks and punches. However, Roman didn’t remain out for long, powering back with a series of punches before taking the fight out of the ring. Vince, predictably, didn’t initialize the ten-count and turned away as Sheamus illegally used steel steps against Reigns.

This assistance helped Sheamus regain control of the match, brutalizing Reigns with a series of punches, drops and suplexes. Reigns managed to kick out of a quick-count, with the crowd cheering him on, and came back with two painful looking clotheslines before jamming Sheamus’s chin into the ropes and hitting him with a dropkick and Samoan Drop, but McMahon’s count was like slow motion, and Sheamus kicked out.

A running knee by Sheamus almost set up a White Noise, but Reigns reversed it into a hard slam onto the mat, but once again, Mr. McMahon didn’t finish the count, claiming he needed eyedrops. Sheamus almost got a rollup, but Reigns hit Sheamus with the Superman Punch.

However, McMahon simply didn’t count it out, and a pissed Reigns drove him into the corner before surprising McMahon with a Superman Punch and getting Sheamus with a Spear. Nobody was there to give him the victory count, so an enraged Reigns continued to brutalize Sheamus outside of the ring.

McMahon stirred and Reigns looked to be continuing the beatdown, but then Stephanie emerged, and Reigns simply sent McMahon into her, knocking her off the ropes and into the ring. Reigns prepped to continue beating Vince, but Sheamus hit him with two Brogue kicks and a new referee arrived.

But Reigns . . . kicked out.

The ref held Reigns up for Sheamus to kick, and Reigns hit both him and the shady ref with Superman Punches. A new referee arrived and gave him the win he deserved to retain the title.

Finally.

To end the show, a furious McMahon announced the Royal Rumble match would be Reigns’ next defense of the title. One versus all indeed.

The match itself was a blast to watch. Yeah, Reigns looked a bit too strong, but I didn’t mind it so much. He’s a powerhouse with a temper, let him be that, right?

But really, putting him in the Royal Rumble match FOR his title? Really? You want to literally bury the entire roster just to put him over before Wrestlemania?

I’ll have to discuss the best options for this in a separate blog post.

Overall, this was a fun RAW with matches that had real stakes. ;et’s hope Creative doesn’t mess it up completely.