Gabby Books It: AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens

Following a stellar mini-feud with Chris Jericho that culminated in a victory at Fastlane, AJ Styles is now in a limbo of sorts heading into the Road to Wrestlemania. He’s been put into a fun tag team with Chris Jericho, humorously dubbed “Y2AJ.” But what’s in store for the Phenomenal One heading into Wrestlemania?

Well, I have a few ideas . . .

So, as it stands, Y2AJ have defeated the WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day, thus earning them the right to a title match. Now some might believe this is leading to a potential Wrestlemania match, but I have my doubts about this being the plan, especially for Styles. He’s too much of a talent to waste in a tag match.

However, a tag title opportunity could be the perfect chance to kickstart a new feud for Styles hinted at in the Royal Rumble.

So, let’s get to it.

AJ Styles and Chris Jericho demand to have their shot at the Tag Team Championship, and are granted it in the main event of Monday Night RAW. This is the sort of match that will draw viewers into the show’s struggling third hour. Throughout the show, show clips of AJ and Jericho preparing, talking strategy.

Oddly enough, we see little of Kevin Owens. Once again, he’s being left off television.

Shortly before the match, Renee Young interviews Styles, who says that no matter what the outcome of the match is, he’s humbled by all of the support the WWE Universe has given him. But, he adds with a sly grin, he knows what the outcome is going to be.

During the match, which is a fantastic showcase of both teams, Styles steals the show, as he always does. He tags in hot near the end of the match, however, and locks in the Calf Crusher on Big E, looking like he’s going to score a massive win. Then, out of nowhere, Kevin Owens emerges, spitting fury. He interferes in the match, attacking Styles before Big E can tap out. Jericho rushes to help his new partner, but Kingston and Woods pounce on him, overwhelming Y2J.

“YOU THINK YOU’RE SO GREAT, AJ?” Owens shouts as he pummels Styles. “You think you can steal MY spotlight? I’M the champion! You’re NOTHING.” Fade to black as Owens continues to beat a prone Styles.

That week on SmackDown, Jericho calls Owens to the Highlight Reel, where he announces Styles in in no shape to fight that week. Jericho is clearly angry at Owens for ruining his shot, and at hurting his newest bromantic bro,  and demands to know why Owens attacked Styles.

“It’s simple,” Owens says with no remorse. “He says he’s humble, but he keeps getting all of the promotion, all of the matches on RAW: he’s main eventing while I, the Intercontinental CHAMPION, am left out of the limelight.”

“You attacked AJ because of your damn DIVA COMPLEX?” Jericho demands.

“I attacked AJ because I wanted to. Because I could. And I don’t need to explain myself to a washed up has-been like you who is only leeching off of the WWE’s newest toy.”

Then, Styles comes out of nowhere, battered and bruised but thoroughly pissed off, which shows as he brutally attacks Owens. Jericho joins in the two beat Owens down. Owens, however, has enough fight in him to powerbomb Jericho, so that it’s just him and AJ in a standoff. They go at it, and security has to pull them apart.

That night, it’s announced that we will get AJ vs. Y2J again the next week on SmackDown, only this time for the chance to face Kevin Owens at Wrestlemania for the IC Title. The next week on RAW, Y2AJ are paired together once again against the League of Nations, but at the very end of the match, when the two faces come out victorious, Jericho attacks Styles, finally cementing a heel turn. Owens comes out and joins in on the fun, then turns on Jericho, attacking him as well.

Styles and Jericho put on another fantastic match, but in the end it’s Styles who comes out on top.

As Wrestlemania approaches, Owens and Styles continue to interfere in each other’s matches and brawl backstage and at ringside. Owens cuts scathing promos on Styles’ independent career, asking if everyone forgets that he is “just as accomplished.” Styles, likewise, says that nothing will stop him from getting his Wrestlemania moment.

“He attacked me. He took away my chance to hold gold for the first time in the WWE. He made it personal. So I’m gonna make it personal right back when I destroy him at Wrestlemania.”

Jericho, likewise, keeps himself in the picture, antagonizing Styles every step along the way. He also cozies himself up to the Authority, and the RAW before Wrestlemania, announces that he will be the guest referee for the match, much to both Styles’ and Owens’ dismay.

At Wrestlemania, Owens and Styles absolutely tear each other apart in a wrestling clinic that lasts over twenty minutes, dishing out all they have on each other. Jericho interferes several times in the match, antagonizing both Styles and Owens. Eventually, however, Styles’ swift offense proves too much for Owens, and at Wrestlemania, he captures his first WWE title.

This feud can be put to rest at the RAW after Wrestlemania, or it can be extended to last the entire spring and summer, culminating in a SummerSlam match. That’s the beauty of it: both wrestlers look strong, get ample exposure, and yeah, Jericho FINALLY turns heel.

Agree/disagree with my booking? Let me know in the comments below!

Also, the second episode of my podcast is up on iTunes! Check it out!

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The Bilbs’ Top 10 (Plus one) Shane McMahon Moments

In case you missed Monday Night RAW (if you did, read Gabby’s RAW Recap), I have some GREAT news… SHANE O-MAC IS BACK! Some of you who are new to the world of wrestling may be wondering why this is a big deal. The eldest McMahon sibling left the squared circle in 2009 to start his own ventures only to return seven years later to be booked in a Hell in a Cell Match with The Undertaker for control of Monday Night RAW. We can debate wether this match truly is “best for business” or how creative will go around booking an actual “loser” for this match at a later time, but right now, let’s focus on the gloriousness that is Shane Brandon McMahon.

McMahon is a two-time title holder in the WWE. He won the European Championship from X-Pac on the February 15, 1999 edition of RAW is War and “successfully” defended defended it against X-Pac in a rematch at Wrestlemania XV. He then retired as the European Champion on the April 4, 1999 episode of Sunday Night Heat. McMahon also won the Hardcore Championship after pinning Steve Blackman at RAW is War on August 21, 2000 during the 24/7 era of the belt. Then Commissioner Mick Foley suspended the 24/7 rule while McMahon was champion so he could defend the title against Blackman six days later at SummerSlam. McMahon lost the title in a classic match that just shows how much sports entertainment runs through his blood.

Sure, McMahon is 46, but I have a feeling that unless something happens with creative and he chooses a proxy to represent him (paging the Doctor of Thuganomics), we should see flashes of the Shane O-Mac that we all know and love. He would not leave his day job unless he had something left in the tank.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Shane McMahon’s work, here are my top 10 highlights of Shane O-Mac’s career.

10. RAW is War/WCW Monday Nitro- March 26, 2001

Shane McMahon Purchases WCW

On March 26, 2001, Vincent Kennedy McMahon finally put the nail in the coffin on the Monday Night Wars when he purchased WCW… or so he thought. While he was in the ring gloating about how he beat Ted Turner on the RAW is War/WCW simulcast, The “No Chance in Hell” music hits, but no one comes out underneath the TitanTron in Cleveland, Ohio. Instead, Shane McMahon walks out of the Boardwalk Beach Resort and Club La Vela in Panama City, Florida, the site of the last WCW Monday Nitro, and into the middle of a WCW ring. The rest… well, it’s television gold.

9. Wrestlemania X7- April 1, 2001

Shane McMahon vs. Vince McMahon: Street Fight

Disclaimer: This is my favorite Shane McMahon match… ever. However, in order to set up the rest of the matches, I put this match at number 9 because many of the moves Shane uses in this match resurface in other matches. A little backstory… Vince McMahon was furious with then Commissioner Mick Foley over booking a six-man Hell in the Cell match for Armageddon 2000. However, Mick had the full support of Linda McMahon, the WWF CEO. Not liking the decisions his wife was making, Vince demanded a divorce from Linda. Shortly afterward, Linda was rushed to the hospital after suffering a nervous breakdown. To Vince’s delight, the WWF Board of Directors made Vince CEO. He fired Mick Foley and began a public affair with Trish Stratus while wheeling his comatose wife to the ring every week and making her watch. In the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, power got to Vince’s head and he made Trish get down on her hands and knees and bark like a dog, strip down to her lingerie in the ring and, you know, other WWF Attitude Era schinangins. Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley even got in on the action and helped her father reel havoc on Trish, Linda and the WWF. Shane, not pleased with the events that were unfolding in the WWF, challenged his father to a street fight at Wrestlemania. The Monday before Wrestlemania, Shane bought WCW out from under Vince and showed up in Panama City as Vince was telling Ted Turner to deliver the contract to Wrestlemania. Things got worse that night as Mick Foley reappeared and told Vince that Linda signed multiple contracts for him before her breakdown which included the opportunity for him to be the guest referee at a Wrestlemania match of his choosing. Of course he chose the Shane vs. Vince Street Fight. As for the match itself… watch the highlights and see why Shane O-Mac is an awesome human being.

8. SummerSlam- August 22, 1999

Shane McMahon vs. Test: Love Her or Leave Her Street Fight

With Vince and Shane reclaiming 100 percent ownership of the WWF from Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shane turned his sights on Test, who was dating Stephanie. Disappointed that Stephanie would date below the standards of the McMahon Family, Shane, along with the Mean Street Posse, reeked havoc on Test. It all culminated in a “Love Her or Leave Her Street Fight” at SummerSlam 1999. The stipulations of this match stated that if Shane won, Test would break up with Stephanie. However, if Test won, Shane would give the relationship his blessing. Shane and the Mean Street Posse left it all in the ring. Check out these magnificent highlights. (Apologies for the Creed remix. It’s the only highlight reel I could find. You may want to watch it on mute.)

7. No Way Out- February 15, 2009

Shane McMahon vs. Randy Orton: No Holds Barred Match

The rivalry between the McMahon Family and Legacy (Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, Jr.) was a solid storyline in 2009. Randy Orton punted Vince McMahon in the head and won the Royal Rumble. Shane tried to defend the McMahon Family honor by taking on Randy Orton in a No Holds Barred Match at No Way Out. The result did not go Shane’s way, but he did put on a match worthy to be in this list.

6. Unforgiven- September 17, 2006

Shane McMahon, Vince McMahon and Big Show vs. DX: Handicapped Hell in a Cell Match

In one of the many feuds between Vince McMahon and D-Generation X, Vince ordered DX to take on himself, Shane and the Big Show in the first handicapped Hell in a Cell Match. DX walked away with victory in one of the bloodiest Hell in a Cell matches in WWE history, but Shane had his super human moments.

5. Survivor Series- November 16, 2003

Shane McMahon vs. Kane: Ambulance Match

Shane McMahon and Kane had a feud that lasted for much of the second half of 2003. On June 23, Kane lost his mask after Triple H defeated him in a “Mask vs. Title Match” on Raw. After he was unmasked, Kane went on a rampage which included sitting Jim Ross on fire and Tombstone pile driving Linda McMahon. This made Shane furious and caused him take on Kane. They fought in a Last Man Standing Match at Unforgiven (more on that one later) and had a rematch at Survivor Series. The highlights are pretty amazing.

4. SummerSlam- August 27, 2000

Shane McMahon (c) vs. Steve Blackman: Hardcore Championship Match

As previously noted, Shane McMahon defeated Steve Blackman for the Hardcore Championship at RAW is War six days before SummerSlam. Mick Foley suspended the 24/7 rule which set up this match for wrestling’s biggest summer event. The hardcore match was your typical hardcore match until this moment, which I posted above. This is the match that I like to call “the match where Shane O-Mac decided to start jumping off things.”

3. Unforgiven- September 21, 2003

Shane McMahon vs. Kane: Last Man Standing Match

I set this feud up in number 5. This was actually the first match between Shane and Kane, and just like the first movie is usually better than the sequel, this match is better than the ambulance match. Why would you say that, Bilbs? It’s simple. Unlike the ambulance match, Shane O-Mac jumps off the set again in this match.

2. Backlash- April 29, 2001

Shane McMahon vs. Big Show: Last Man Standing Match

After Shane’s victory at Wrestlemania X7, the new WCW Chairman wanted to make a splash for his new company. He tried to lure the Big Show away from the WWF, but Vince convinced the seven foot giant to stay with him. In order to impress the boss, the Big Show chokeslammed Shane, which led to weekly attacks between the WWF superstar and the WCW chairman. This culminated into a Last Man Standing Match at Backlash. This is one of the few matches where Shane O-Mac came away with the W thanks to Test and this great jump off the TitanTron.

1. King of the Ring- June 24, 2001

Shane McMahon vs. Kurt Angle: Street Fight

The Monday after Judgement Day, Shane McMahon interrupted Kurt Angle’s medal ceremony to tease WCW’s return and mocked the Olympian. Angle retaliated by hitting the Angle Slam on Shane. The following Monday, Shane hit the Angle Slam on Kurt, causing the two to set up a street fight at King of the Ring.

This is what i like to call the “Shane O-Mac is a freak” match. All these previous matches prove that Shane will put his body on the line and do whatever it takes in the name of sports entertainment, but this match takes it to a whole new level. I could explain the match, but words will do it no justice. If you only watch one of these highlight videos, YOU NEED TO WATCH THIS ONE!

I encourage you to watch these matches in their entirety on the WWE Network. You will not be disappointed.

Bonus

Shane McMahon at the 2011 U.S. Open

This highlight has nothing to do with wrestling, but Shane McMahon hung out with Rory McIlory and his father during McIlory’s 2011 U.S. Open victory at Congressional. If that isn’t awesome, then who knows what awesome means.

RAW Recap/Analysis – February 22, 2016

Well, Fastlane happened, and wonder of wonders, the status quo has remained the same. Roman Reigns is set to face Triple H in the main event of Wrestlemania. Every champion retained. No face or heel turns.

Not to say that there weren’t some amazing things that happened at Fastlane. The matches were solid, the talent all delivered. Unfortunately, it’s the creative team that dropped the ball.

However, tonight’s RAW almost made up for it, delivering solid entertainment, fun matches, and one absolutely wild surprise that has shaken fans to the core.

The McMahon Legacy

You guys. YOU GUYS.

Vince emerged to start off the show, and presented, to no one’s surprise, the Vincent J. McMahon Legacy of Excellence Award to Stephanie. However, soon enough, Shane freaking McMahon emerged to an absolutely thunderous ovation, and demanded control of Monday Night RAW, citing the downhill spiral the WWE has been going down. Sending Stephanie off, Vince agreed, on the condition that Shane win one match, one night.

At this point, I tweeted this:

And then . . .

Vince announced the match would be against, holy hell, the Undertaker, and would be a Hell in a Cell match.

I am in awe. Shane’s re-emergence was an absolutely delightful surprise, and the prospect of him managing RAW is extremely exciting, let me say. A non-heel authority figure is exactly what the WWE desperately needs, and the on-screen acknowledgment of the company’s dismal performance in ratings was a welcome one.

Neville & the Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day

The Lucha Dragons dominated Xavier Woods early on, and Neville impressed as well, working Woods’ armlike crazy before Kingston  and Big E both tagged in, regaining the champions’ momentum, all of them tagging in and beating down Neville with the Unicorn Stampede.

The New Day remained dominant for several minutes on poor Neville, who couldn’t get to the Lucha Dragons in time for the hot tag  for a while before Neville finally tagged Sin Cara in to the match. The Luchador delivered, with both Kalisto and Big E interfering. Woods and Neville got into it as well, and soon, everyone was brawling.

But it was Kofi Kingston who would pick up the win after some mask shenanigans, and the heels left the ring victorious.

No Holds Barred

Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar came out to acknowledge the online-captured beating Brock Lesnar rained down on Dean Ambrose before the show’s start. Heyman recapped Lesnar’s near-submission of Roman Reigns, and called out Ambrose for breaking that up with his chair shots. Heyman called Lesnar’s beating plain and simple revenge.

Heyman raged about Ambrose before proclaiming that his client needs a new client for Wrestlemania, and told everyone who could hear that his client would leave a trail of destruction everywhere he went.

Just then, an ambulance burst into the arena, driven by none other than everyone’s favorite Lunatic Fringe: Dean Ambrose, neck brace and all. Dean staggered out of the ambulance and onto the entrance ramp and to ringside, where Lesnar looked down on him before stepping over his face to leave him behind.

But Dean wasn’t done, telling Lesnar that he was indestructible, and he would find out at Wrestlemania in a street fight. Lesnar’s response? An F-5. And a yes from Paul Heyman.

The Usos vs.The Ascension

As the Usos entered for their match against the Ascension, the Dudleys  came out, slamming the Usos and bringing Rikishi into the mix, allowing the Ascension to take an early lead in the match.

But the Usos wouldn’t be down for long, regaining control soon enough and getting the pinfall as the Dudley Boyz looked on.

This rivalry seems to be picking up some steam, which should provide both teams with a direction as we approach Wrestlemania.

Y2AJ vs. The Social Outcasts

Jericho emerged, mic in hand, and proceeded to talk about AJ Styles, putting him over utterly and completely, acknowledging his loss and calling Styles out to the ring. Styles came out to a phenomenal ovation from the crowd, and Jericho congratulated him, saying he had what it takes to go right to the top.

Then, the Social Outcasts came out, mocking all the good vibes in the ring, pointing out that AJ made Jericho tap out and that Jericho said a lot of crap about Styles. Mocking the newfound peace between the two, they demanded that the two former opponents get out of “their” ring.

Jericho cut them off, and a match was born, as was a brand new team.

Styles started off dominantly before the numbers game turned the tide, however a tagged in Jericho brought some momentum back to their side. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho and Styles took out the rest of the Outcasts as they tried to interfere, and just like that, Y2AJ captured the win.

As enjoyable as this teamup is to watch, I hope these two talented performers do not get stuck in a tag team together. If the tag division was deeper, stronger, then I’d be all for it, but as it stands, Styles is a singles star, hands down.

Backstage, Stephanie announced to Reigns that he would be fighting Sheamus (and likely the rest of the League of Nations). And Goldust approached R-Truth with an apology cake. Truth, however, wanted no part in a tag team with Goldust, walking away after shoving the cake in Goldust’s face.

The Wyatt Family vs. Ryback, Kane & Big Show

Funny note: the Wyatts all put their masks on Byron Saxton at the start of the match. I enjoyed it immensely.

The match started off to a chorus of “BORING” chants, and honestly, I don’t completely disagree. These teams have no real chemistry.

Even Ryback got bored, simply walking away from the match, allowing Bray Wyatt to get the win after pinning a distracted Kane. Backstage, Ryback declared he was done being in tag teams.

Sasha Banks vs. Naomi

In an impressively athletic rematch, Naomi took the early lead, laying a brutal beating on Sasha with the help of Tamina. But she couldn’t keep the Boss down for long, fighting back with fierce physicality despite additional distractions from Tamina.

However, Lynch arrived to even the odds, allowing Sasha to lock in the Banks Statement on Naomi. The two Divas shook hands, and then Charlotte herself emerged in Bella-like gear, and informed them that there would be a number one contender’s match for the “honor” of facing her at Wrestlemania.

Smug at the chaos she knows will ensue, Charlotte backed away.

I, for one, am still holding out hope for a Triple Threat match.

Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus

Ah, yes, the feud nobody wanted to see ever again. Reigns fought as valiantly as he always does, working through interference after interference. However, soon enough, the officiall threw them out and the match evened out.

With the odds less stacked against him, Reigns rallied back, nearly scoring a win by countout, but then the Game himself emerged, dressed for battle.The two brawled at ringside, Triple H dishing out a rough punishment on the contender to his throne, throwing him into the bell and announce table, bloodying up the Samoan before a group of officials pulled him aside.

Even then, he wasn’t done, hitting a Pedigree on steel steps and holding up his title to close the show to thunderous applause.

Yeah, great booking of faces and heels, Creative!

Honestly, I pity Roman Reigns. The man is a decent wrestler and seems like a good guy, but he is so horrendously that in what is supposed to be his triumphant rise to the top has become a glaring showcase of everything wrong with the WWE today. Booked right, the man could very well be the face of the WWE, but the WWE jumped the gun, pushing him ahead of other, more prepared and talented wrestlers like, yes, Ambrose.

The WWE has got to start listening to their fanbase. Sure, push Roman Reigns, but do it right. This current formula is not working.

Maybe Shane could fix this, eh?

 

 

Fastlane 2016 – Recap/Analysis

This year’s Fastlane had the distinction of following last year’s dismally booked premiere of the event. And it definitely surpassed it, producing two entertaining Divas matches and inspired performances despite a woefully predictable ending.

Preshow: Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (US Championship 2 out of 3 falls match)

This match was quick-paced from the start, with Del Rio ripping off part of Kalisto’s mask and Kalisto responding with a quick-paced offense that took them outside of the ring, where Kalisto picked up the first fall via DQ as Del Rio struck the Luchador with a steel chair.

Kalisto couldn’t recover soon enough, as Del Rio picked up the second fall with a powerbomb. Kalisto countered his way back into contention, hitting Del Rio with a hurricana and boot to the face. A DDT nearly got him the final fall, but Del Rio kicked out and regained momentum with an inverted suplex. A countout nearly lost Kalisto the match, but he made it back right on time, getting the final pinfall with a rollup.

Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch vs. Naomi & Tamina

Though a disagreement caused a rocky start for Lynch and Banks, the two soon gained momentum with Becky’s quick-paced offense and some solid team action.However, Tamina powered back for BAD, with Naomi scoring a near-fall. Lynch continued to take an awful beating, finally tagging in a red-hot Sasha.

Sasha laid a beating down on Naomi, nearly locking in the Banks Statement before being pulled out by Tamina. She almost fell to Naomi’s Rear View, but a double missile by Becky and evasion by Sasha allowed Banks to rally, locking in the Banks Statement on Tamina as Becky locked in the Dis-Arm Her on Naomi.

This was a fun display of the skill of all four women, especially Banks and Lynch. I was surprised Sasha didn’t immediately turn on Becky right after the match, but am interested in where these two go heading into Wrestlemania. Triple Threat still, perhaps? Here’s hoping!

Besides, the WWE doesn’t need to rush every storyline. Sometimes a slow burn is what’s truly best for business.

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship match)

Owens took control immediately with a brutal headbutt, taunting Ziggler as the crowd rallied behind him. Ziggler looked to fight back with a dropkick and strikes, but Owens sent him swiftly into the turnbuckle, beating down on a prone Ziggler, slowed after the nasty impact.

Ziggler looked to be making another comeback, but Owens wouldn’t be denied the beating he craved to dish out. Owens hit Ziggler with a vicious cannonball before Ziggler scored a nearfall. Ziggler’s momentum was stopped cold as Owens dropped him from the ropes with suplex. The fight left the ring as Ziggler rolled out, and once they returned to the ring, Owens kicked out of the Fameasser, but just barely, hitting the Pop-Up Powerbomb on Ziggler to get the hard-fought victory.

This match outclassed all of their previous bouts in spades, showcasing both of their strengths wonderfully. Owens looked every bit the brawling monster he was born to be, and Ziggler’s athletic style was a great foil to it.

The Wyatt Family vs. Big Show, Kane & Ryback

Ryback took control early on against Rowan before Big Show looked to continue the beating. However, Rowan would fight back, tagging in Luke Harper, who beat down Ryback before tagging in Strowman. As Rowan tagged back in, so did Kane, quickly laying down a beating on Rowan.

Strowman regained the Wyatts’ momentum before tagging in Luke Harper, who looked to subdue the Demon before tagging in Strowman to finish the job. Ringside, Bray Wyatt observed calmly.

Harper and Ryback both tagged in, and Ryback got on a roll, slamming Harper around viciously, only missing a pinfall after Rowan interfered. Big Show tossed the Wyatts out of the ring before barreling into Strowman as Harper and Ryback returned to the ring.

Ryback hit the Shell-Shock for the pinfall after Kane took out Bray for a distrction.

Honestly, screw Creative.

Backstage, Roman Reigns proclaimed he would be the one going to Wrestlemania. Ambrose, confronting him, didn’t believe that so much, proclaiming either he or Reigns would be the one facing Triple H at Wrestlemania.

Charlotte vs. Brie Bella (Divas Championship match)

Brie entered to a chorus of “Yes!” chants that she started, having dedicated this match to her husband and sister and Charlotte continued to master her heel role.

Charlotte began the match strong, mocking Bella throughout. Her arrogance would prove a hindrance to her own success as Bella nearly locked in an armbar, mocking her in turn with a strut.

Charlotte powered back, punishing Brie shamelessly and confidently. Brie went for the Yes Lock, latching onto Charlotte with a sleeper hold, but Charlotte broke it. Brie battled back with a series of kicks and forearms, sending Charlotte out of the ring with two dropkicks and then a top rope kick, tweaking her left leg.

She looked to hit Charlotte with her husband’s kicks, nearly scoring a pinfall, but Charlotte kicked out. However, Brie locked in the Yes Lock and then the Half Crab, but Charlotte countered into the Figure 8, forcing Brie to tap out.

Thank GOD.

This match featured some nice storytelling by both women, Brie especially. The woman may not be an impressive wrestler, but her in-ring psychology was spot-on tonight. A nice way to prepare to send her off.

Here’s to Wrestlemania, and what will hopefully be a historic showcase of women’s wrestling on the grandest stage of them all.

AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

Fans have been salivating over this rematch for weeks, and we finally got it tonight. As expected, the two veterans more than delivered, putting on a clinic.

This match was even throughout. Styles hit a move, then Jericho took an advantage with a clothesline or back body drop. Said back body drop allowed Jericho to weaken Styles, hitting a dropkick as Styles soared through the air at him. Jericho looked to capitalize, but Styles kicked out.

He powered back with a series of strikes, powering into him with ease and launching himself like a missile. He looked to hit the Styles Clash, but Jericho countered into the Walls of Jericho, which Styles countered for an escape.

The two continued to brawl in the ring, with Jericho growing increasingly frustrated. The two kept countering each other’s attacks until Jericho countered Styles into the Walls of Jericho, but Styles dragged himself to the ropes, infuriating Jericho, who sent him into the barricade, looking for a countout before hitting a Codebreaker, calling Styles stupid for continuing to fight.

Styles fought back viciously, hitting the Styles Clash, but Jericho kicked out. Styles wasn’t done, locking in the Calf Crusher, forcing Jericho to tap out.

A furious Jericho confronted Styles in the ring after, and almost looked to fight, which Styles was prepared for, but in the end, shook his hand.

This was a thrill to watch from start to finish. Both Superstars more than delivered, shelling out a seemingly infinite arsenal of incredible offense and fantastic counters. This was, without a doubt, the match of the night. I am so excited to see where these two living legends are going next.

Cutting Edge Peep Show with Edge and Christian ft. The New Day

Edge and Christian promoted their new show, reminiscing about their victory in Cleveland all those years ago, but were interrupted by the ever-jubilant New Day.

Edge and Christian mocked them, reminiscing on their early struggles as faces before claiming that they were rip-offs of them. New Day countered that they were better than them and everybody, mocking the League of Nations, who emerged angrily, scaring off the New Day and confronting Edge and Christian, who teamed with the New Day in mocking the League beautifully.

I don’t know if this was supposed to count as a face turn, but it better not be. The New Day are magical heels. Don’t fix something if it isn’t broken, honestly. Also, putting the League of Nations in this is like a death sentence to anything fun about the New Day.

R-Truth vs. Curtis Axel

After, the Social outcasts emerged, chatting about what kind of cars they are, before being interrupted by a cheery R-Truth.

Distractions by the Social Outcasts allowed the others to help Axel get control over R-Truth before Goldust emerged to offer his assistance, taking down Slater. However, his takedown of Adam Rose inadvertently caused Truth the match. Goldust tried apologizing, but Truth walked away.

I don’t understand the point of putting this on the card without letting it develop in the slightest. I just don’t.

Roman Reigns vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (No. 1 Contender’s match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Lesnar wasted no time in sending Ambrose out of the ring and suplexing Reigns viciously . . . multiple times before Ambrose hit him with a missile dropkick before getting a suplex of his own.

The suplexes were plentiful as the match went on, with Lesnar hitting an F-5 on Reigns before Ambrose screwed up the pinfall, slapping Lesnar in the face before being treated to his own trip to Suplex City. He nearly hit an F-5 before Reigns intercepted with a spear and then a Superman Punch. Lesnar caught Reigns as he went for another, but Ambrose hit the low blow and the two powerbombed Lesnar into the announce table.

Ambrose attacked right away, throwing Reigns into the ring and unloading on him. Lesnar stirred, and the two brothers sent him into another announce table, actually burying him in the rubble. Sweet lord.

This time it was Reigns who attacked first, punching Ambrose before attempting a powerbomb that Ambrose fought out of before falling to a Superman Punch. However, a done Spear led to Ambrose hitting Dirty Deeds for what was TOTALLY a three count. But then Lesnar re-emerged, hitting a German Suplex on both men at once.

Reigns hit a Spear, but Lesnar locked in a submission lock. Reigns, however, powered to a stand as Ambrose emerged with a steel chair, unloading on Lesnar and Reigns both, only to walk into a spear by Reigns for the pinfall. Then, Triple H emerged, belt in tow, sarcastically applauding. The two stood facing each other to close the show.

That ending came out of nowhere, really doing nothing to make Reigns look strong since it was Ambrose who took out Lesnar. I don’t understand why they thought that would be a good idea. The result was predictable, and badly handled. I mean, in what world does Roman Reigns have the strength to spear Ambrose after taking all of those chair shots, hm?

It also elicited absolutely no emotion from me, which is not a good sign. It was so bland and poorly booked that I find myself leaving an otherwise entertaining pay-per-view with a sour taste in my mouth. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

That being said, I don’t want this bland ending to overshadow some of the magic produced tonight. AJ Styles and Jericho stole the show. Two Divas matches both delivered. Kevin Owens and Ziggler shone. Basically, the first two hours of Fastlane were very, very good. But then Enzo and Cass didn’t debut, and not only did Reigns win, but he won in bland fashion, and only because Ambrose took out Lesnar first.

BOOK. HIM. BETTER. Sweet Jesus.

There’s still time to make me care about the main event. The ball’s in your court, WWE…good luck.

 

 

 

 

Fastlane 2016 Predictions

Last year, I attended my first WWE event for my birthday. And just my luck, it ended up being universally panned and had less star power than some recent episodes of RAW. Regardless, I had a blast, and I was thrilled to see Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan int he flesh. Looking back, I’m very lucky to have seen Bryan perform live before his retirement.

You know, it’s funny. If you had asked me a week ago about my Fastlane predictions, I would have had a card within five minutes. But after a single week of solidly decent programming, I am starting to reconsider everything. That being said, I’m still sure a lot of my original predictions are still correct no matter how much I don’t want to be.

Let’s get to it!

Kalisto vs. Alberto Del Rio (2 out of 3 Falls match for United States Championship)

This is a pretty easy one to call. With the WWE grappling to find a new star for their Hispanic fans to rally behind, Kalisto is the easy choice to win this one. His in-ring charisma is strong and he also carries the immense appeal of being a true underdog.

Hopefully, Kalisto will put on a dominant showing against Del Rio, who for no good reason has been booked overly strong in the past few weeks despite the outcome of this match being crystal clear. Perhaps the League of Nations (yeah, they’re still a thing) will try and interfere, but a wily Sin Cara will make the save for his Luchador partner.

Prediction: Kalisto retains

Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles

This match has all the makings to be a potential match of the year candidate, if given ample time. Jericho and Styles are both seasoned veterans in the ring, with indispensable knowledge of ring psychology and technical prowess. They can concoct some serious magic and do some awesome storytelling together.

Perhaps one of the best things about this feud is the simplicity of it. Two proud, seasoned competitors who want to prove that they are the best in the world. It’s easy to understand and will be a blast to watch.

The winner of this match depends on the WWE’s plans heading into Wrestlemania. If they want to end the feud at Fastlane and move Styles on to clash (hehehe) with Kevin Owens for the IC Title at Wrestlemania or perhaps face another wrestler ont he roster, then STyles will come out on top for sure.

However, if they wish to prolong this feud into Wrestlemania, Jericho might pull a fast one on us. Or perhaps Styles will win anyways. Either way, if this rivalry is going to last through the Show of Shows, expect Jericho to have a definitive heel turn tomorrow night.

Or, maybe, Kevin Owens will rear his head.

Prediction: AJ Styles wins

Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship)

If the WWE has any sense at all, this will be a squash match, plain and simple. No offense to Ziggler, who is an incredible performer in his own right, but this match must continue to elevate Owens as a monster heel.

He has the ability to potentially carry the upper midcard while the likes of Ambrose and Reigns hold up the main event scene as he continues to grow. Owens has big things ahead of him. Hopefully this match is just a stepping stone to something truly special at Wrestlemania.

Prediction: Kevin Owens retains

Ryback, Demon Kane and Big Show vs. The Wyatt Family

The Wyatts are being propelled towards a rivalry with the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, so expect to see them absolutely decimate the so-called Titans of the WWE. This match will probably be used to really put over Braun Strowman, who has yet to really impress anyone in the ring yet.

It’s hard to do that when your finisher is a hug.

Expect Luke Harper to be awesome, as usual, and for Bray Wyatt to continue to be the impressive character he is. Erick Rowan has kind of been lost int he mix, but I hope he gets a nice moment to shine.

It would be an interesting twist if Brock Lesnar were to interfere in this, but in all likelihood they will be the ones attacking him, not the other way around.

Prediction: The Wyatt family wins, Strowman takes the pinfall

 

Naomi and Tamina vs. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch

Sasha Banks has broken out as an absolute star in this program, as she does with everything she’s given, looking hellaciously strong against both members of Team BAD while still retaining her fantastic, tense alliance with Becky Lynch.

If given time, expect these women to put on a fun match. Naomi is terrifically athletic, and she will hopefully have a chance to shine against both Banks and Lynch. Expect some wild suicide dives and tag-team shenanigans as the women brawl it out, but also  expect to see Lynch and Banks come out on top.

Also, don’t be surprised if Banks takes out Lynch right after they pick up their win. Her goal is, after all, to claim the title that is rightfully hers after all.

Prediction: Banks and Lynch win, Banks attacks Lynch after

 

Charlotte vs. Brie Bella (Divas Championship)

I have my issues with Brie Bella and the way she is being pushed, but if she can put on a good show against Charlotte that’s not just variations of her husband’s kicks, I will be impressed. She is set to retire soon, so a good showing here would be a nice sendoff. Heck, maybe even give her the belt and have her drop it on RAW the next night, as a little gift to her before she goes off. She’s definitely improved over the years, so this match ought to be a testament to that.

This match is a bit of an afterthought, really, because Wrestlemania is looming and we all know who truly belongs there.

Prediction: Charlotte retains

 

Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (No. 1 contender’s match for WWE World Heavyweight Championship)

Calling this match is incredibly difficult for me, because it’s like my head is battling against my heart. I want Dean Ambrose to win, and I know that him winning would be absolutely thrilling, but deep down, I’m certain that Roman Reigns will win. Lesnar will probably inflict some heavy damage on them both, but be overwhelmed by the Wyatt clan.

Hopefully, the emotional core of this match will be the growing rivalry between Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. Shield conflicts are so multidimensional and wonderful for storytelling. Even with Lesnar in the mix, expect to see a lot of fighting between an increasingly frustrated Ambrose and desperate Reigns.

Though a swerve would be a more than welcome surprise, I’m not completely delusional. The WWE is going to push Roman Reigns no matter what anyone thinks. Hopefully, however, they keep Dean Ambrose in the main event scene and let him shine properly at Wrestlemania. He deserves it.

Prediction: Roman Reigns wins

 

 

Dean Ambrose is the best option for WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Dean Ambrose is as electric of a ring performer as the WWE has right now. He is strong and wild in the ring, masterful on the mic, and has an unpredictable underdog quality that makes him impossible not to root for. He’s an unconventional, natural babyface who consistently gets massive pops and support from crowds no matter how he is booked. His feud with Seth Rollins last summer for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was enthralling to watch unfold and memorable because of the stellar matches. His similar program with Kevin Owens for the Intercontinental title was similar in calibre.

From what I can tell, he is the top babyface in the WWE, even more so than Roman Reigns, who is becoming as polarizing as John Cena in terms of fan reactions. He is always rooted for, especially when put up against the likes of Reigns.

DISCLAIMER: I’m not, in any way, hating on Roman Reigns. I respect him. I just don’t buy him as the face of the WWE. Not now.

Logic dictates that he should win the WWE’s top prize at Wrestlemania. Reality is hinting towards it. And though the WWE has been setting up Reigns battling Triple H for months, in my opinion, Dean Ambrose is the man who should be main eventing Wrestlemania. And no, I’m not just whining as a member of the IWC, I’m speaking as someone who has heard from both hardcore and casual fans that in this time of flux for the company, Ambrose has been their favorite and most consistent performer.

So why should it be him, and not Reigns, who emerges victorious from Fastlane without a heel turn? Several reasons.

First off, if the WWE expects Roman Reigns to have anyone in his corner besides a few loyal members of the “Roman Empire,” they’re idiots. Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar are the two most over singles stars on the roster. They will never be rooted against. Ever. If Roman Reigns goes over Ambrose as a clean babyface (because nobody will ever go over Lesnar clean) he will have nuclear heat.

And if you’re fine with Reigns going over as a heel, um, I suggest you reconsider. Heel vs. heel in Wrestlemania’s main event? No thank you. And if they keep him a face, then there is the very real possibility of the fans booing him at Wrestlemania. That is not something anyone wants.

So why not turn Roman Reigns heel? He has all the makings of a monster heel: the strong style in the ring and, clearly, the motivation. Think about it: he has been screwed over by the Authority time and time again. He has had the championship in his hands, but still has never been able to get the elusive support of the entire WWE Universe like Ambrose has. Imagine the frustration, the rage he would experience if Ambrose managed to take the surprise win at Fastlane.

But I digress, this is about Ambrose, not Reigns.

Another reason Ambrose should win at Fastlane? Plain and simple: it would be a surprise. The WWE is horrendously predictable nowadays. I can’t recall the last time I was honestly, wonderfully surprised in recent weeks.

Ambrose winning at Wrestlemania would be a generation-defining moment akin to Daniel Bryan’s miraculous victory at Wrestlemania 30. It would redefine the face of the WWE and catapult Dean Ambrose into superstardom in a way it could never for Reigns. Fans would be thrilled, both old and new.

Ambrose is the star for the “Reality Era.” He’s a fearless performer and consumate entertainer who has paid his dues time and time again. He has proven throughout his solo career that he can put on 5-star matches and hang with the best in the business, whether on the mic or in the ring.

Yes, the WWE has invested a lot in Reigns. The story for him against Triple H is there, set up. But it doesn’t ring true, folks. It feels hollow and forced, just like Reigns’ character right now. The only way Reigns can truly develop as a performer and Ambrose can break out is by having Reigns step aside for his more over brother, and let him bring the company back from the brink.

Ambrose has the storyline with Triple H too, remember. The two were the final men in the ring at the end of the Royal Rumble. He fought against the Authority for months on end while challenging Seth Rollins. As champion, he has potential feuds with a heel Reigns, Lesnar, Rollins, even Owens.

Dean Ambrose: WWE World Heavyweight Champion is what’s best for business. Creative just needs to open their eyes, see it, and take a risk. I have a feeling it would be more than worthwhile in the end.

 

 

RAW Recap/Analysis – February 15, 2016

Despite it being the day after Valentine’s Day, let me tell you: there has been a lot of love lost between the Superstars of the WWE in the road to Wrestlemania. This week’s RAW had the important task of setting the stage of last year’s biggest pay-per-view flop.

Fun fact: I was there at that flop. Still bitter about it. Still lucky that I got to see Daniel Bryan in action before his retirement.

Ambrose set up to fail

Dean Ambrose, in a very wise move, opened RAW, cutting a promo recapping the events of the last week’s show and once again, called out Brock Lesnar for another round of F-5 action.

Stephanie interrupted, and announced that Ambrose would be defending his Intercontinental title against 4 other Superstars in a  Fatal 5-Way match, and would be disqualified if Roman Reigns interfered.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Stardust vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Dolph Ziggler (Intercontinental Championship match)

Owens very quickly set his sights on Ambrose, and the two went at it in the ring while the others brawled at ringside. Ambrose and Owens fought alone before Owens was tossed from the ring and Ziggler took the stage.

At one point, Ambrose took out everyone but Owens with a wild suicide dive, and nearly got Owens, but Stardust broke up the pinfall. The chaos continued as several of the players scored near-falls. Owens cannonballed himself into everyone until breeze countered into a nearfall before being foiled by the others.

But it was, yes, KEVIN OWENS who pinned Tyler Breeze for the title.

Holy. Shit.

Things just got VERY interesting for Dean Ambrose. Without the Intercontinental Championship, his prospects heading into Fastlane are now completely different. Him against Triple H might very well be a reality.

Backstage, Renee interviewed Ambrose, whose focus was now absolutely on getting his WWE World Heavyweight Championship shot. After, Owens demanded that renee give him his “due credit,” and was interrupted by Dolph Ziggler, who challenged him to a match at Fastlane. Owens’ response?

“Nah.”

Big E vs. Mark Henry

The New Day emerged, wasting no time in making fun of Edge and Christian, who antagonized them last September and would be hosting them on Sunday on the Cutting Edge Peep Show, teased Coldplay, and then called out Mark Henry, who walked out on them.

A very grouchy Mark Henry then came out, and the match began. Henry took early momentum in the match, tossing Big E out of the ring, but distractions by the other New Day members allowed Big E to take the lead.

“I am his DADDY!” Big E proclaimed.

The boys broke out the trombone, but Henry kept kicking out at two, staging a comeback before knocking Xavier Woods away from the ring as he played the trombone. Big E hefted Henry onto his shoulders, but Henry landed badly as he fell off, and Big E took the quick pin.

Brie Bella: Wife and Sister

Byron Saxton brought out Brie Bella, who began to tell everyone about what her husband was up to, but was interrupted very quickly by Charlotte, who oh-so-kindly offered Brie the chance to forfeit her match at Fastlane.

“Go home and be the good sister and wife I know you are,” Charlotte sneered. She continued to taunt Bella until she cracked, beating down a retreating champion.

In all honesty, I am the opposite of amused by this entire storyline. Catapulting Brie to the top of the division to capitalize on her husband and sister is beyond ridiculous. She is not a good enough wrestler to deserve this, no matter how good of a person she is. I don’t buy it. I don’t believe it.

And if she goes to the top, we’ll all know that it has nothing to do with her.

Divas Revolution, indeed.

AJ Styles vs. The Miz

Chris Jericho emerged for guest commentary before the match.

The Miz wasted no time in attacking Styles the second he stepped into the ring. He was still visibly terrified of Styles, showing fear even as he took control early in the match, working Styles very well until Styles’ quick-tempoed offense broke his stride

Miz then began yelling at Jericho, and Styles took advantage, hitting him with a flying punch. Miz regained some momentum, but Styles turned the tide with a knee to the gut and a pair of rollups and a forearm off the top rope.

Miz managed to hit the Skull-crushing Finale, but Styles kicked out, locking in the Calf Crusher for the win by submission. Jericho approached the ring, mic in hand, and Styles cut him off, challenging him to a tie-breaker at Fastlane. Jericho told Styles he would let him know on SmackDown.

The simplicity of this rivalry is part of what makes it so entertaining to watch unfold. It’s fantastic booking made better by fantastic performers, and I would be more than happy to see these two continue to make each other look good both in the ring and out.

Also, a nice showing by the Miz, whose in-ring athleticism is too-often forgotten.

Paige vs. Summer Rae

The Dudleys entered briefly, cutting the kind of heel promo that made them so great in their original run, trashing the Usos and proclaiming they weren’t just some nostalgic novelty. They claimed that they didn’t care what the crowds chanted for, they were the baddest team in the game and they weren’t there to please anybody.

Ah, yes, meaningless Divas matches. What a time to be alive.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Summer Rae is an actual wrestler. After a battle trading momentum back and forth, Summer Rae stole the pinfall for the win.

I’m intrigued. Summer Rae was a good heel and wrestler back on NXT, so maybe the WWE is trying to recapture some of her old flair and magic.

Paul Heyman

Paul Heyman came out, hyping up the main event of Fastlane, and then summoned Roman Reigns so he could deliver some news to the Samoan’s face. The former Shield hound emerged soon enough.

“This Sunday night, you know that I feel that you can’t get by my beast Brock Lesnar. Not you. Not Dean Ambrose. Not the two of you combined.”

Heyman very pointedly reminded Reigns that Ambrose stood in the way of Reigns’ dream of going to Wrestlemania, and said that he had a choice: his brother or his daughter. Staying close with Ambrose or doing what was best for his family, making his dreams coming true.

Reigns, to the disdain of the crowd, refused to turn on Ambrose and shook Heyman’s hand. But after Heyman left, the Dudley Boyz ambushed Reigns from behind, and Ambrose emerged to make the save. After they chased them off, Ambrose attempted Dirty Deeds on Reigns, pointing at the Wrestlemania signs. Reigns still bumped fists with him to close the segment, but now we know:

Fastlane isn’t going to end like Payback.

Zack Ryder vs. Heath Slater

Sue me . . . I’m so amused by the Social Outcasts.

After a premature victory lap, Zack Ryder took Heath Slater for a ride, hitting him with blow after blow and the Broski Boot. He then launched himself into all four Outcasts, but a distraction allowed Slater to pick up the win.

In other news, Goldust interrupted R-Truth’s date. It was great.

The Lucha Dragons & Neville vs. The League of Nations

I’m not surprised the US Championship has been relegated to the preshow of Fastlane. The WWE’s less than exciting booking of Kalisto’s feud with Del Rio has taken all of the steam out of this match. Hopefully Kalisto gets a more meaningful opponent for Wrestlemania.

The League of Nations controlled the match early on, but a well-timed counter by Kalisto allowed Sin Cara to regain the Luchadors’ momentum. However, Del Rio outpowered him after a distraction by Barrett to take the pinfall.

Becky Lynch vs. Naomi

Both Lynch and Naomi put on a very quickly-paced and athletic match, unsurprising considering the parties involved, and Becky won in less than a minute. Tamina and Naomi began to beat down Lynch, but Sasha emerged, scaring off the two in due time.

Honestly, screw this. The WWE loves to talk up how they are revolutionizing women’s wrestling but then they book their most talented female competitors in 30-second squash matches while expecting us to buy Strowman vs. Big Show as a legitimate main event.

What a damn joke.

Big Show vs. Braun Strowman

Bray Wyatt cut a promo, telling the WWE Universe to bow before him, and then the match nobody wanted began.

I won’t bother to talk about what happened. Braun was strong. Big Show was strong. And because Strowman can’t carry a match by himself, the Wyatts interfered, and then Ryback ran in. Then Demon Kane emerged from the ring, and it looks like Fastlane has another match on its card.

How nice.

I cannot even begin to fathom why they didn’t switch this segment with the Ambrose segment. It’s like Creative hates ratings, or just gave up considering they were up against the Grammys tonight.

Either way, while RAW started out strong, it seemed to move backwards in its final hour. Here’s hoping SmackDown does more to hype up Fastlane than this week’s RAW did.

 

 

Unlikely partnerships are best for business

This week, unlikely partnerships reigned supreme on RAW and SmackDown. This deviation from the mold and blurring of the line between face and heel is usually unwise as it makes for messy characterization, but in recent weeks the WWE has hit its stride in shaking things up while still remaining true to the characters they have created.

Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch’s partnership in the face of adversity is doing wonders for them both. It highlights Banks’ competitive, spotlight-stealing attitude. It also further cements Becky Lynch as an unselfish babyface who also helps endear Banks to the crowd. Add that with the history between the two back at NXT and a future title program for them both, and you have a women’s wrestling story with more depth than the Divas Division has seen in years.

We know Banks and Lynch’s alliance is temporary. We know it’s shaky and could implode at any moment. That’s what makes it so entertaining to watch. Their story has so many layers. Think back to last year’s Wrestlemania team of AJ Lee and Paige, former enemies turned frenemies. While not as deep as Lynch and Banks’ current story, it held our attention and provided a refreshing change of pace.

Additionally, anyone watching this week’s SmackDown will testify that the show was built on the wildly entertaining rivalry between AJ Styles and Chris Jericho. The first match of the night saw the two forced to team up against the Social Outcasts in a fun tag match.

The growing animosity between the two fueled by intense competitiveness and desire for respect made for an entertaining back and forth throughout the match as Styles and Jericho attempted to show up the other at every turn. Both men upped their games, and the audience was treated to a match entertaining both storytelling-wise and wrestling-wise.

But maybe what makes this style of storytelling so refreshing is that it’s a rare break from the mold the stagnant bookers of the WWE have fallen into. New dynamics, new ways of furthering stories, that’s how the WWE should look to build the new crop of Superstars in its roster. Nostalgia just won’t cut it anymore.

Now, I’m not saying every storyline has to follow this formula. Then it won’t be fun anymore. But it’s definitely something i wouldn’t mind seeing the WWE utilize more often.

5 Exciting prospective NXT/main roster rivalries

With a depleted roster heading into 2016, the WWE must be considering the incredible talent down in NXT. In Florida right now, the developmental brand is pumping out a wealth of talent that the WWE could really tap into going into Wrestlemania and beyond.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. The New Day

The tag team division of the main roster is pretty stale at the moment, while the tag team division down in NXT seems to be in a bit of a Renaissance. And a major part of the incredible revolution going on there is the picture-perfect pairing of Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady.

The pair are a blast in the ring and electrifying on the mic, injecting as much life into NXT’s tag team scene as the New Day have into theirs. A rivalry between these two powerhouses would provide a wealth of fun matches and even better promo battles. Between Enzo Amore and Xavier Woods, WWE viewers could be treated to some of the most engaging mic work in years.

There is the issue of calling Carmella up too early, as it just wouldn’t feel right seeing the two without her, but she could work double duty, only appearing at pay-per-views until she is ready to make her own in-ring debut. And if her title match against Bayley is any indication, it will be sooner rather than later.

Samoa Joe vs. John Cena

Ever since his heel turn, Samoa Joe has rediscovered the ferocity that made him such a force of nature in the indy circuit. With rumors of a main roster call-up coming soon, the prospects for potential rivalries are endless. However, one man in particular can really help propel Joe into a main event caliber star on the main roster: John Cena.

Yes, the face that runs the place against the dangerous independent star. It’s a match that carries the same excitement Owens vs. Cena did, only Joe is not necessarily a prizefighter: he’s just out for blood.

Joe and Cena could put on a series of really fun, really physical matches that would benefit from both Joe’s skill and Cena’s “Epic match” aura.

Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose

The Lone Wolf and the Lunatic Fringe. If Corbin ever gets the call to the main roster, a feud with Dean Ambrose shouldn’t be too far behind.

Baron Corbin’s greatest weakness is on the mic. He has a good in-ring presence and his heel gimmick suits him perfectly, but still has yet to master the art of cutting an effective character promo. However, Ambrose can more than make up for that with his wealth of mic mastery and charisma.

Corbin would also suit Ambrose because he is one of the few true heels the WWE has left. He’s not cool or secretly loved, he’s pretty much universally looked down on, the perfect foil to Ambrose’s eternal over-ness. Given the opportunity and a possible gimmick match (Hell in a Cell, anyone?), these two could tear the house down together. Quite literally.

Bayley vs. Nikki Bella

I am by no means a huge fan of Nikki Bella, though I will 100% acknowledge the substantial growth she has had as a worker since being crowned Divas Champion in 2014. But her heel character would be a fantastic foil to Bayley’s optimistic babyface persona.

When she does get the call-up to the main roster, Bayley will undoubtedly enter into storylines with her fellow Four Horsewomen, but she shouldn’t just be limited to that. Given the chance, she can elevate the other women of the main roster in ways few others can.

Bayley has the rare skill of being able to carry even the most subpar performers to stellar matches, and a more experienced and improved Nikki Bella will prove no different. Given ample time int he ring and on the microphone, the two women can tell one heck of a story that can last for months.

Finn Balor vs. AJ Styles

Two words: Bullet. Club.

Finn Balor and AJ Styles have the ability to put on a wealth of 5-star matches together and tell an incredible story harkening back to their time in Japan. If Anderson and Gallows are called up as well, they could also factor into the story and enhance the feud.

The story between the two would be simple: two proud men who have the same accolades want to be considered the best. Not everything has to be personal to be engaging, after all. These two can make anything seem like the world rests on their shoulders.