Living Up to the Hype: How the WWE has put insurmountable pressure on the Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell

Hey guys. Did you know I’m a man? I know, I know, shocking.

Yes, I did start this post paraphrasing my friend and colleague, Gabby, who is very gracious to let me scratch my journalism itch on her wrestling blog. I started it the same way she started her post entitled Mick Foley’s RAW promo & benevolent sexism because it seems my friend has stirred up a little drama amongst some chatrooms (these still exist??) and I wanted to come to her aid and defend her h….. HAHAHAHAHAHA!! I can’t even finish writing that satiric sentence. I started this post the same way she started her’s because I’m a man and she’s a woman and we both share the same opinion about the Sasha/Charlotte/Mick promo Monday night.

per·cep·tion (pərˈsepSH(ə)n) noun:
A way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.
As Gabby stated in her post, Mick Foley the man is a proponent of women’s wrestling. However, Foley’s promo Monday night came off as condescending toward Sasha and Charlotte. Do I think Foley meant it as condescending? I don’t. This is where perception comes to play. An over-emoting Foley (I could go on about this, but that’s another post for another time) interrupting, coddling and yelling at the two Superstars gave the perception that Hell in a Cell is no place for women.
We’ve been given the perception the past few weeks that the only place for Roman Reigns and Rusev, as well as Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens, to settle their feuds is inside the cell. But when is comes to Sasha and Charlotte’s feud (which has been built up way better than the Universal and United States Championships by the way), it’s been “Are you SURE you want to settle this inside the cell? It can get brutal.” Intentional or not, the WWE has been giving these three matches (you know, the TRIPLE TRIPLE TRIPLE main event) a double standard. It could have been an easy fix.
Instead of Foley playing over-protective dad to Sasha and Charlotte, he could have built up their feud to where these women’s hatred, yet respect for one another can only be settled in a way that no women have ever settled their feuds before… Hell in a Cell!! Instead of Foley talking about how the cell made him a “shell of a man,” he could have talked about how the 1998 King of the Ring defined his career and made him the superstar he is today, and it will do the same thing to the women. Or, if he wanted to talk about the dangers of Hell in a Cell, then bring all nine competitors out for a TRIPLE CONTRACT SIGNING (see what I did there??) and give his speech to all of them.
Foley’s speech was heartfelt, but Sasha and Charlotte were not the only two superstars who needed to hear it. That is where the sexism lies, and if Gabby and I perceived it as sexism, then I guarantee there are many more in the WWE Universe who perceived it the same way. They just aren’t in wrestling chatrooms. (Seriously, are you accessing these through AOL 3.0 or 4.0? Using dial-up to pull up these articles to trash them must take FOREVER. That must be why you aren’t actually reading them.)
All of that brings me to my point in which this post is titled: Sasha and Charlotte now face insurmountable pressure at Hell in a Cell to perform. If their match doesn’t end with bodies bloodied or carried out on a stretcher (a work or not), will it be seen as a great match in the eyes of the WWE Universe? Whenever we talk about great matches in the Women’s Revolution era, we always start with Sasha vs. Bayley at NXT Takeover: New York. We all agreed it was match (not women’s match) of the decade. Then when we think it couldn’t get better, we get Sasha vs. Bayley in a 30 minute Ironwoman match. Instantly, we had a new match (not women’s match) of the decade. Both these matches were hyped by using their talent, not “Are you SURE you want to use cool moves that most women don’t use and actually wrestle for a championship? Are you SURE you want to settle this in an Iron(wo)man match?” Now, it’s all about “making history, danger, and shells of former selves.” This match should be hyped… hell it should be THE SOLE MAIN EVENT and last match of the pay-per-view, but it should not be attached to the stigma of “you’re women, so if you don’t do something absolutely crazy and maybe draw blood, then it’s not going to be as historic as we billed it to be.”
If you’ve made it this far down, here is where I link Foley’s promo to the unrealistic expectations of this match.
With all due respect, Sasha, you have no idea what’s in store for you! Because once that cell descends, once that monstrosity descends upon you, it is not just steel. It’s more than the sum of its parts. It’s a living, breathing entity but it’s got no soul, no heart and no conscious. And it will haunt for days. It will keep you awake at night. Trust me, trust me. Just when you think you’re over it for good, it will sneak up behind you. It will stop you dead in your tracks. It will make you cry like a child. It’s an intimidating fact that when you’re in that cell, you face not one opponent but two. You face your opponent and that demonic construction itself.
– Mick Foley
We all know Foley’s history with Hell in a Cell matches. He’s jumped off them, been choked slammed through them, broke bones, lost teeth, lost ears, and probably lost years of his life because of them. We the WWE Universe love him for it. We adore him for it. We respect him for it. Someone who puts his body on the line for our entertainment and enjoyment deserves all of this and more. But since he hammered all of this stuff on Sasha and Charlotte during their contract signing, what do we expect of the women? We’ve seen cell matches where no one fell off the cell or went through it and we called them subpar. The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon match at Wrestlemania XXXI was really not that good, but we call it one of the best because Shane-O-Mac dove off the cell for our enjoyment.
If Sasha isn’t thrown through the cell or Charlotte doesn’t flip herself off the top of the cell on to the announce table, will the match be any good? Can the women have a technical wrestling match inside the cell and it be good enough, or does Sasha have to rub Charlotte’s face against the cell and open her up a la 80s and 90s Ric Flair? According to the hype, the pressure seems to be all on to perform to Foley-esc expectations. We have excepted that Foley-esc expectations are unfair to Roman, Rusev, Seth and Kevin. Let’s also ignore the hype and realize it’s also unfair for Sasha and Charlotte.
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Bilbs’ Top 10 Lists for Tonight’s RAW

I thought I would write these lists while watching the October 24th edition of Monday Night RAW so you can read it with all of the intensity that I have while watching this episode. Here we go:

Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons the Brock Lesnar Segment was needed on RAW

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Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons an Over-Emoting Mick Foley Helped the Sasha/Charlotte Hell in a Cell Match

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Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons Why a “Triple Main Event” Makes Total Sense

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Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons to Love Tonight’s RAW

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So in conclusion, this episode of RAW SUCKED.

However, let’s end this on a positive note…

Bilbs’ Top 10 Reasons to watch Hell in a Cell this Sunday

1. Sasha/Charlotte
2. Charlotte/Sasha
3. Sasha/Charlotte
4. Charlotte/Sasha
5. Sasha/Charlotte
6. Charlotte/Sasha
7. Sasha/Charlotte
8. Charlotte/Sasha
9. Sasha/Charlotte
10. Charlotte/Sasha

I’m out.

The Bilbs Says: The WWE Universe Should Ignore Brock Lesnar

After SummerSlam, I was so mad at the outcome that I almost wrote this column right after. However, cooler heads prevailed and I decided to wait a couple of days, watch Raw and SmackDown Live, and then check my opinion on this topic.

My opinion has not changed: the WWE Universe needs to ignore Brock Lesnar.

Let me first start off my saying that I was (and still to an extent) a Lesnar fan. When he burst on the scene in 2002, he was “The Next Big Thing.”

He annihilated his opponents. He had actual wrestling moves. He became the youngest WWE Champion at that time at age 25 by defeating The Rock at SummerSlam. And who can forget the legendary match with Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania XIX where he attempted the shooting star press? (Even though he botched it, he has hit it successfully many times in the past.)

Soon after, Lesnar’s career started becoming stale. His two year on-air WWE career came to an end with a very lackluster match against Goldberg at Wrestlemania XX. It seemed Brock wanted out, and fans were not upset to see him leave.

Of course we all know the story after that. He tried out for the NFL and then went to New Japan before jumping into the Octagon where he became the UFC Heavyweight Champion.

I was still a fan of Lesnar’s when he was in the UFC. His mixed martial arts skills along with his extensive amateur wresting and WWE wrestling skills made him a dominate Heavyweight Champion. I felt awful for him when he had sit out and eventually retire from UFC due to severe diverticulitis.

When Lesnar returned to the WWE the night after Wrestlemania XXVIII, I, like most of you, was ecstatic to see The Beast return to the ring. Setting him up as a  Paul Heyman guy again and having Heyman, who could have you hoarding OxyClean in your house if he was the spokesperson, promoting him. It was set up to be a great comeback, except Lesnar never really came back. He was just there to collect the paycheck. The one-time NCAA Division I National Champion wrestler has seemed to have forgotten how to wrestle.

Does Lesnar have to attempt shooting star presses and submission holds for me to be a fan? Absolutely not. All he has to do is seem to actually care about what he is doing. If you have seen one Lesnar match in the past four years, you have seen them all: random punches, german suplexes, and an F-5 for the win. These subpar matches ended the streak that should have never been ended, dominated top superstars who should not be dominated, and gave Lesnar a WWE Championship that disappeared off television with him for months.

Then comes the comments on the Stone Cold Podcast where Dean Ambrose told Steve Austin that Lesnar is lazy and would not work with him to make their Wrestlemania match a hit. Critics and fans both agreed that the Ambrose-Lesnar match should have stolen the show, but way under-delivered. Then it came out that Chris Jericho was not pleased with with ending of the Lesnar-Orton match at SummerSlam and there was an altercation between the two in the Gorilla Position after the show.

The Lesnar-Orton match should have never been the main event of SummerSlam. After seeing Sasha Banks and Charlotte put on a clinic despite Banks’ back issues, Finn Balor and Seth Rollins showing everyone that they can put on a hell of a match for an ugly title, and AJ Styles and John Cena giving us another match-of-the-year candidate, we had to endure 15 minutes (if that) of punches, german suplexes, and Orton getting dominated in his return match. As much as I dislike Orton, he deserved a match with a clean finish, even if he lost. He did not deserve whatever you want to call that.

I do not even think he should have been allowed to wrestle at SummerSlam given his two failed drug tests from UFC. Roman Reigns (a Vince McMahon guy), Alberto Del Rio (a not really sure who actually likes him guy), and Eva Marie (a Vince McMahon girl) all have, or are currently serving 30-day suspensions for violating the WWE wellness policy, and Lesnar got to wrestle after failing two tests from the Nevada Gaming Commission. Surely WWE’s policy is not as strict as the NGC and the estrogen blocker Lesnar took that got him suspended from UFC is allowed in the WWE. If it is, then one of the two entities needs to reexamine their drug policy.

It’s after SummerSlam and Lesnar is now absent from the WWE yet again. He will show up sometime before another pay-per-view to fight Shane McMahon (what did we do to deserve this, God?), dominate him with punches and German suplexes, collect his paycheck and head back to the house until the Royal Rumble where lackluster Lesnar will start up again.

If Lesnar wants to go back to the UFC, then he needs to go. I’ll be glad to cheer him on as he fights to regain the UFC Heavyweight Championship. When he fought at UFC 200, the passion that we saw in his 2002 WWE-TV debut was there. That passion is definitely not in the WWE.

So to bring this full circle, we, the WWE Universe can put a stop the the poison of the company that is Brock Lesnar. How do we do that? By being silent. Don’t give him cheers. Don’t give him heat. Give Lesnar nothing. Do not wear a Lesnar t-shirt, do not make a Lesnar sign. Pretend Brock Lesnar does not exist. We all know Brock is going to Brock, and Vince is going to Vince, but we all know that Vince does react to two things, money and superstars not moving the needle in either direction. If we take these away, we force their hand. We had better do it quickly, because Lesnar’s contract is up after Wrestlemania XXXIII and Vince is eager to re-sign him. Let’s force their hand: either be passionate and give fans the courtesy of acting like you care, or go and do something you actually care about.

Gabby’s perspective: I love Brock. I really do. But at this point, he’s not doing anyone any favors but himself in WWE. His opponents emerge looking either weak (Orton) or stupid (Dean Ambrose) and he gets his money and leaves. It’s a toxic cycle that really and truly needs to end.

RAW Recap/Analysis – July 26, 2016

New Era indeed.

With a split roster, the first Monday Night RAW of the brand extension was forced to delve deeper into its characters and stories, providing viewers with longer matches, fresh camerawork and a historic-feeling moment that provided the best RAW I can remember seeing in years.

Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon opened RAW, bringing the new roster out and announcing two Fatal Four-Ways to determine an opponent for Seth Rollins at SummerSlam for a new title: the WWE Universal Championship.

Fighting for the title would be Chris Jericho, Cesaro, Roman Reigns, Rusev, Sheamus, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and . . . Finn Balor.

Calling Charlotte forward, they also announced that Charlotte would be defending her title against Sasha Banks that night.

Rusev vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor

Owens and Balor took each other on in the center of the ring right away as Cesaro and Rusev brawled at ringside. Owens went to work on Balor right away, but Balor powered back with a dropkick that sent them both out of the ring, allowing Cesaro to capitalize and take control.

Cesaro and Balor temporarily worked together, but Owens and Rusev soon worked them into a precarious situation, with Owens gleefully mocking Balor as he and Rusev teamed up on him. Owens continued to target the man who took the NXT Championship from him over a year ago, tossing him out of the ring before working with Rusev to hit a suplex on Cesaro. Both men took their turns beating Cesaro before rolling Balor back into the ring.

But Balor returned with a vengeance, planting Owens who then took a side suplex from Rusev. A rebounding Cesaro hit a flying crossbody on Rusev and Owens both, taking them and Balor on his uppercut train.

Balor regained momentum, countering a powerbomb from Kevin Owens and taking all three men out at ringside before trading strikes with Cesaro in the ring, hitting 1916 on Cesaro for a near-fall. Kevin Owens gained momentum, but it was Rusev who would plant the other three competitors with a Tower of Doom.

Owens hit a Frog Splash on Balor, but Rusev broke the pin. Cesaro hit Owens with a corkscrew uppercut and looked to take Owens swinging, but Rusev hit both men with kicks to the jaw, locking in the Accolade on Owens, only for Cesaro to plant him with a vertical suplex, going for the Sharpshooter. Rusev reversed into the Accolade, but Cesaro rolled over, forcing him to break it.

Cesaro put Rusev in the Sharpshooter, but Owens broke it, only to fall under attack by Balor, who would hit the Coup de Grace on Rusev for the victory.

While it’s a shame that Cesaro was put in a match he clearly would not win, I like the new direction he seems to be going in. I am curious to see what the rest of the year holds for him.

This match was brilliant, full of thrilling moments that got only more exciting as the match went on. The time given to the men paid off, as they built an exciting story that featured a lot of fun moments.

It felt surreal seeing Finn Balor in main roster competition, and seeing him once again battling Kevin Owens was a real treat. He was the right person to win this, as we’ll discuss later.

Nia Jax vs. Brit Baker

Nia quickly and dominantly pinned the local jobber without even breaking a sweat.

This match served its purpose: establishing the dominant beast Nia Jax is without damaging anyone else on the roster like Paige or Alicia Fox. Nia is still a bit green for the main roster, but she is a hard worker whose character will be an excellent addition to RAW.

Chris Jericho vs. Sheamus vs. Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns

Sheamus and Jericho immediately teamed up on Reigns while a dumbfounded Sami watched, but soon enough he joined in, because he’s a smart guy. Jericho and Sheamus drove Reigns into the barricade at ringside as Zayn awaited them in the ring.

The two heels once again teamed up on Zayn, who fought back valiantly with a hurricarana to Sheamus before launching Jericho at him. Reigns planted Zayn from behind, going for the pin, but Zayn kicked out, and Reigns went on the offensive, hitting him with a snap suplex and a series of strikes, but Zayn once more fought back.

Jericho went on the offensive, but Reigns launched both him and Zayn out of the ring, wiping out all three men. Jericho and Sheamus rebounded back in ring, teaming up on Reigns once more before turning on each other as Zayn returned to the fray.

Reigns took control with a double drive-by on the apron, but Zayn caught him with a Blue Thunder Bomb, going for the Helluva Kick before Reigns planted him with a Razor’s Edge, which Zayn kicked out of. He hit Sheamus with a Helluva Kick, but Jericho broke the pin. The two fought, and Jericho caught Zayn in the Walls of Jericho, only to have it broken by Sheamus. The two redheads fought until Reigns returned, planting everyone with Superman Punches. He went for a Spear, but Jericho countered with a  Codebreaker. Reigns kicked out, pinning Jericho with a Spear for the win.

This was an excellent match, with Zayn the clear favorite to win, but Reigns was the right choice to go over in this match. He was aggressive and domineering, a good look for someone such as himself.

SONNY BOY!

Coming to the ring to celebrate their record-setting reign as WWE World Tag Team champions, plugging Booty-O’s, which yes, is an ACTUAL CEREAL.

They aired a hilarious celebratory video package, and announced they would be selecting an honorary New Day member from the crowd, selecting a man at ringside in a Booty-O’s shirt and girating in the ring with him before being ambushed by Anderson and Gallows.

They demolished the New Day and antagonized the fan, Sonny Boy. It was a fitting way for them to strike up a feud with the tag champs. Anderson & Gallows, when given the chance, are one of the best heel duos in the entire wrestling industry right now. This feud should be perfect for them.

Neville vs. Curtis Axel

Neville started off strong against Axel, utilizing his usual swiftness and hitting a standing moonsault on “Mr. Irrelevant” Curtis Axel. Axel looked to fight back with a dropkick, locking in a chokehold on Neville.

Neville fought back with a surprisingly strong German Suplex before going for the Red Arrow,  securing a solid win for his return to WWE television.

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (WWE Women’s Championship match)

Sasha and Charlotte locked up with instant aggression, the motivated challenger forcing Charlotte onto the match before going for a roll-up. Dana Brooke looked to interfere, grabbing Sasha by the leg, but the official noticed, and Sasha hit the Backstabber, forcing Charlotte into a modified submission hold, like an Accolade and Banks Statement in one.

Charlotte broke the hold, but Banks got the Statement again, slamming Charlotte out of the ring with a double knee. Charlotte fought back once the action returned to the ring, kicking Banks into the barricade and holding her title in Banks’ face mockingly. Brooke joined in, but Banks suckered her into being caught by the ref and kicked out of ringside.

Banks continued to work with aggression, sending Charlotte into the ropes before hitting the knees into the mat yet again, buying her valuable recovery time. Sasha went ham on the champ, dropping her with knees from the ropes and nearly getting Charlotte pinned. Charlotte managed to hit a neckbreaker She went for a moonsault, but Sasha dodged, hitting a wild suicide dive out of the ring.

Charlotte hit a wild moonsault from the top ropes out of the ring on Sasha, bringing her back into the ring for a failed pin. She went for a Figue Four, and Sasha rolled her up only to nearly fall to Natural Selection. Charlotte went for the Figure Eight, but Sasha battled out. Sasha locked in the banks STatement, but Charlotte got her foot on the ropes.

Sasha hit the Backstabber and finally, FINALLY got Charlotte to tap.

“I did it!” she declared to a thrilled crowd.

I’ll admit it: I cried. A lot. This moment has been long overdue for Banks, who has proven herself to be one of the best wrestlers, male or female, in the world. Even Charlotte couldn’t keep the smile off her face as Banks tearfully hoisted the title that has always been meant for her in the air.

Braun Strowman vs. James Ellsworth (?)

This poor jobber didn’t stand a chance. His punches didn’t faze Strowman, sporting a new look and new music, in the slightest.

Suffice it to say, he was pinned within seconds.

His pre-match interview was adorable, despite the fact that it was clear those words were likely the last the poor sap would ever speak. Strowman’s new look is pretty awesome, as is his music. If WWE continues this booking, they may make a star out of him yet.

Enzo & Cass vs. The Shining Stars

Enzo and Cass came out to entertain everyone, and because RAW was too entertaining for its own good, the Shining Stars emerged and cut them off, targeting Enzo Amore early. Big Cass evened things out, but Primo managed to clear the ring, only for the Golden Truth to walk through the match Pokemon hunting, allowing Cass to hit a Big Boot for the win.

Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns

Reigns went right Balor, tossing him clean across the ring, taking early control with his size and strength advantage, driving Finn’s face into the ropes. Balor fired back with an explosive dropkick, using his speed to his advantage.

But Reigns was like a man possessed, ripping into Balor with a series of strikes. He went for a driveby, but Balor dodged, sending Reigns into the barricade.He targeted Reigns’ leg, but Reigns regained control soon enough, continuing to tear into Balor with sheer strength.

But Balor caught Reigns with a kick from the ropes, hitting a running knee from the apron before ascending to the ropes, hitting a double stomp on Reigns’ back before Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch for a near-fall.

Reigns went for a Spear, but Balor countered it, landing the Coup de Grace to go to SummerSlam to face Seth Rollins.

Roman Reigns is definitely in the doghouse, but the real story is not about him. It’s about Finn Balor, who was treated just like the star he is in his debut on RAW. Balor played the part of underdog very well, despite the fact that he wasn’t an underdog in his golden days on NXT.

The crowd loved him from the start, and everything he did felt like magic. Sorry Vince Russo, but the new era is here and, quite frankly, it’s incredible.

 

Gabby Books It: The Return of Rollins

It’s happened, folks. After six agonizing months without the evil laugh or knowing smirk, SETH FREAKING ROLLINS IS FREAKING BACK! That’s right, you guys, our favorite trash king is back and is picking up right where he left off: feuding with Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

I was very excited about his return.

Fun fact: my very first RAW recap on this blog was of Seth’s final RAW episode before his injury. Back in October, I said:

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

Guess not much has changed, huh? Except for the fact that Roman’s popularity has plummeted. Poor, poor Roman.

Rollins’ much-anticipated return carried a lot of questions with it. We wondered if he would take advantage of the fans’ obvious good will towards him and turn face.

No.

We wondered if he would go right into the main event scene.

YES. And thank goodness, too!

I’m a little disappointed that Seth seems to be falling back right into his old heel persona, but if booked right, I can see him slowly morphing into an anti-hero with an edge. A Stone Cold-esque hero who doesn’t care about what anyone else wants or expects. So, without further ado, here’s how I would make that dream a reality.

So, as Money in the Bank draws closer and closer, Seth Rollins grows more and more aggressive. Stephanie, to his utter bewilderment, books him in increasingly difficult matches against the likes of Kevin Owens, Karl Anderson and Chris Jericho. Rollins wins them all (Sami Zayn interferes, costing Owens his match). Finally, a frustrated Rollins approaches a sympathetic Shane McMahon.

Shane tells Seth that he can’t do anything to help him, and that he’s going to have to stand on his own two feet for the first time in his WWE career. Seth storms away, furious, presumably to throw a tantrum.

Cameras follow Rollins, and to everyone’s surprise, he runs right into a waiting Dean Ambrose. Rollins, tense, prepares for a fight, but Dean assures him he’s not looking for one…yet. In fact, he has some advice for his former Shield brother.

“The only person you can ever truly rely on is yourself,” Dean tells Seth. Seth scoffs.

“Yeah? Well, look where it got you, huh?” he fires back. Dean shrugs, unaffected.

“I’m still standing, aren’t I?” he asks, turning and walking away. The camera focuses in on Rollins, deep in thought and unsure.

The next week, Roman Reigns opens RAW, reminding the jeering crowd that he wasn’t the one who turned on his brothers for the sake of getting ahead. He wasn’t the one who hid behind the likes of The Authority and J & J Security. He says that Seth Rollins is a weasel who doesn’t have the courage or ability to fight his own battles.

Cue Rollins himself, who charges down the ramp, mic in hand. Furious, he tells Roman that he didn’t have The Authority OR J & J by his side when he pinned HIM to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. No, he did it all by himself.

“And at Money in the Bank,” he proclaims brashly, “I’m going to do it all over again. You might be the guy, Roman, but I am the MAN. I always have been, and I always will be. And you can believe that.”

Money in the Bank arrives, and Rollins looks poised to reclaim the title that he never lost. He puts on an instant classic with Reigns, a match which looks pretty even throughout. The two former brothers dish out everything they have, with Rollins returning to his more babyface-esque flying style.

At the match’s conclusion, Rollins hits a stunning Phoenix Splash on Reigns, following it with a Pedigree for good measure. The crowd goes absolutely mental as Rollins covers Reigns for the 1, 2-

Then, the lights go out. Seconds later, they come back on, and Triple H is standing there, in the center of the ring. Rollins looks frozen with shock, and Triple H takes advantage, immediately attacking the Architect. Reigns rises, dazed, and sees what’s happening. Triple H stops, and looks at him, and everyone wonders if he will help his helpless foe or join in on the carnage.

He joins in.

(I should note that Ambrose wins the Money in the Bank briefcase.)

Triple H opens RAW the next week, announcing that he plans on having the Authority control both RAW and SmackDown. WWE builds on the real-life tension between Shane and Triple H, with Triple H looking to exert total control over WWE television. Then, Seth Rollins storms the ring, attacking Triple H, flinging curses all the while. Even after, Roman Reigns emerges, pulling Seth off of Triple H, to everyone’s shock.

Later that night, Reigns cuts a promo, saying he would never support Triple H, but he won’t stand for Seth running rampant around RAW. He says that as long as he’s champion, people are going to do things the right way. His way. The crowd, of course, boos him to infinity, and Seth Rollins emerges.

Seth Rollins, mic in hand, slams Reigns for interfering in HIS business. He tells him to mind his own or suffer the consequences.

The WWE Draft rolls along, and Rollins is drafted to SmackDown. He is granted his rematch against Reigns at Battleground. In the buildup to Battleground, Triple H begins to interfere in Shane McMahon’s running of the blue brand. He exerts his authority (pun very much intended) over both RAW and SmackDown, booking matches without Shane’s consent.

However, curiously, whenever he books a match against Shane’s wishes, Seth Rollins appears to mix things up. He interferes in matches, goes on commentary, and causes general mayhem for Triple H’s favorites like Kevin Owens and the returning Randy Orton, who is serving as an enforcer of sorts for Triple H, having secretly reconciled while he was injured.

Rollins makes life such a  living hell for Triple H that he injects Randy Orton into Rollins’ Battleground rematch. Shane asks him to stop, saying he’s only making things worse, but Rollins doesn’t care. At this point, he’s just pissed and out for vengeance. Rogue Rollins is in full force.

Come Battleground, Reigns wins by pinning Orton, who costs Rollins the match when he breaks a pin from Seth hitting the Pedigree on Reigns. He refuses to give Seth another chance at his precious title.

On SmackDown, Rollins goes right after Triple H, decimating him backstage. Randy Orton comes to Triple H’s rescue, and the two begin to team up on Rollins, but in a shocking turn of events, the Lunatic Fringe himself, Dean Ambrose, comes to Rollins’ rescue. Rollins is wary of Ambrose’s intentions, but Ambrose merely tells Seth he owes him a favor.

The next week, an infuriated Triple H brings Rollins out to the ring and fires him, but Shane McMahon comes out. He tells Triple H that if he fires Rollins, he’s missing out on a golden opportunity. He then books a blockbuster match for SummerSlam: Triple H vs. Seth Rollins. The loser leaves SmackDown for good.

In the weeks leading up to SummerSlam, Rollins and Ambrose become uneasy allies, arguing constantly but watching each other’s backs nonetheless. Like the Shield of old, they become unstoppable together, teaming up to further both Rollins’ feud with Triple H and Ambrose’s feud with Randy Orton.

Triple H taunts Rollins throughout, telling him that without the Authority, without him, he’d be nothing. He tells Seth that he was always his second choice, and that he would always be one step behind Roman Reigns.

This finally comes to an explosive conclusion at SummerSlam. Rollins and Triple H take each other to hell and back, and Rollins finally works like he did in his babyface days, flying around the ring like a superhero. He beats Triple H with a whopping two finishers: first, the Pedigree, then a Phoenix Splash. The crowd goes wild, and Rollins revels in it, finally the babyface rogue he is meant to be.

This feud allows Rollins to step away from the WWE World Heavyweight Championship scene for a while and teases a Shield reunion just slightly. He doesn’t return to stake a claim for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship until the Royal Rumble, facing Reigns and reclaiming the title that he never lost at long last.

Reigns gets his rematch at Fastlane and Rollins comes out on top. However, Rollins only wins when Reigns’ fury finally drives him over the edge into a full heel turn, and he attacks Rollins with a steel chair. That night, Stephanie and Shane announce that the two will face each other one more time: at WrestleMania.

The next week on SmackDown, Ambrose opens the show, and tells Rollins that he still owes him a favor. He says that he wants to cash that in, and tells Seth that he will be cashing in his briefcase at WrestleMania, thus turning it into a Shield Triple Threat. The crowd, naturally goes nuts. Rollins comes out, entering the ring wordlessly, and merely holds out his hand. Ambrose shakes it. The match is on.

The conclusion of THAT bout…well. Let’s just say that Ambrose will FINALLY get his WrestleMania moment. Seth got 31, Reigns got 32, and Ambrose will get 33. This will allow Rollins and Ambrose to feud for the title over the summer, with Rollins finally taking it back at oh, SummerSlam?

This booking allows Seth Rollins to not only cement himself as one of the faces of WWE and capitalize on the crowd’s good will towards him, it also lets Roman Reigns have a long run on top of the company. That’s not ideal for me, but it’s realistic as I can get.

What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments and be sure to share this on Facebook and Twitter!

 

I accidentally helped Finn Balor troll Twitter

This isn’t news, and I’m not recapping anything. I just thought I’d share something hilarious that just happened today.

So yesterday, during RAW, I got an idea while watching the “Club” squabble. So, I took to Photoshop and mocked up an awful edit in about 30 seconds.

I doubted he’d see it, so I went to sleep soon after posting my RAW recap.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I wake up, and scroll down my timeline to see this:

My first thought: Damn, I should’ve watermarked it.

My second thought: WHAT THE FINN-

My third thought: Of all the things for him to get from me, why THAT? It’s probably one of the worst Photoshops I’ve ever done. That being said, I’m cackling at the fact that he’s using my lovely little edit to troll the internet.

Hopefully, sometime soon, I won’t have to resort to Photoshop to see these four sharing the ring.

Chyna’s Legacy

When I found out yesterday that Joanie “Chyna” Laurer passed away yesterday, I was about to go to bed. But upon hearing the news, I could not sleep. I was too heartbroken, too shocked, too confused.

In the back of my mind, I always believed that one day, I would see Chyna inducted int he WWE Hall of Fame, standing up on the stage the night before WrestleMania, thanking her fans and relishing in her legendary status.

She will never get that moment now. But perhaps she’ll get the recognition.

The word “pioneer” too often gets thrown around in tributes and obituaries, but if anyone in the entire wrestling industry deserves the word, it’s Chyna. From her debut assisting Triple H at In Your House to her entrance in both the Royal Rumble and King of the Ring to her two reigns with the Intercontinental Championship, Chyna changed what it meant to be a woman in WWE.

Chyna was nobody’s toy or puppet. She was no valet. She was an enforcer and bodyguard, the strong and silent muscle of DX. She was sexy because of the power she exuded both physically and mentally. She subverted every stereotype about women the then-WWF itself perpetuated.

I was too young to see her during her prime, to experience her career as it happened. But when I first started watching wrestling, she was the one who most stood out to me whenever I watched matches back from the Attitude Era. I would look at her and just be in total and utter awe of her brilliance. Watching her was, in as few words as possible, an empowering experience.

That’s her real legacy. WWE will induct her into the Hall of Fame, just as she always wanted. But the most lasting thing about her career will be her fearless and trailblazing career, and the way she made the fans she loved so much feel.

Thank you, Chyna. Rest in peace. Rest in power.

 

Don’t treat me like a woman
Don’t treat me like a man
Don’t treat me like you know me
Treat me for just who I am

 

3 ways the Bullet Club can impact Payback

The Bullet Club has dominated New Japan Pro Wrestling since its formation by Prince Devitt (now Finn Balor) in 2013. It became a worldwide phenomenon, propelling its members into superstardom in the wrestling world. So much so that WWE came calling, and its founding members and Devitt’s successor as leader of the Bullet Club are now in WWE.

Finn Balor made his NXT debut in 2014 and is now the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history after defeating Kevin Owens in Japan in July 2015. AJ Styles made an explosive Royal Rumble debut and is the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. And Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows made a huge statement in their RAW debuts last week, decimating the Usos and then laying out Roman Reigns this week.

Their presence in WWE and the company’s acknowledgment of their history together brings up a lot of different questions about the upcoming main event at Payback of AJ Styles versus Roman Reigns. So, here are 3 ways WWE could possibly involve the Bullet Club at Payback.

The Bullet Club help AJ Styles win

If WWE is determined to portray Roman Reigns as a sympathetic babyface (and I doubt they are, given his recent promos), the easiest way to truly rally casual fans behind his cause is to have AJ Styles reform the Bullet Club and cheat his way to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

This choice would almost certainly split audiences. The hardcore fans and many casual fans who have been endeared to Styles’ in-ring ability and earnest desire to perform at the top level will rally behind the ever-cool Bullet Club. Casual fans and children will root for the so-called underdog Reigns.

AJ has played a heel before. As beloved as they are, the Bullet Club is a heel faction, basically this generation’s NWO. I don’t doubt that he could pull it off. And as opposed I am to turning someone who is universally cheered heel while propping up a controversial champion on a pedestal, it would be really cool to potentially see this develop into a Shield/Bullet Club rivalry to last the summer.

AJ Styles drives the Bullet Club away

RAW hinted that AJ Styles had nothing to do with the attack on Reigns, with the veteran performer vehemently denying any involvement with his two friends on RAW and the boys themselves denying teaming up with Styles on SmackDown. So what if it really is as Styles claims, and he really is determined to win the title on his own?

This could turn out to be nothing, or it could be one of the biggest swerves of the year.

If AJ Styles continues to reject their help, his two friends can get angry, because why in the world would ANYONE reject their help? And when Styles finally, clearly tells them to stay away from his championship match at Payback, they agree, but it all seems too easy.

So at the match, just as AJ Styles is poised to win the title from Roman Reigns, Anderson and Gallows emerge from out of nowhere and lay him out, allowing Reigns to retain. This sets up a rampage through all of WWE for the dynamic duo and gives Styles a reason to stay int he main event scene for a rematch at Extreme Rules, then winning the MITB briefcase later in the summer.

Finn Balor calls the shots

This is my favorite theory, although it’s also the least likely to happen. What can I say, I’m a masochist.

Finn Balor has done everything there is to do at NXT. In many ways, he is everything NXT is supposed to be. He’s the top babyface there, perhaps only eclipsed by Bayley, and is the longest-reigning NXT Champion of all time. So, how can WWE best utilize him?

Turn him heel.

Anyone who has watched Balor’s work in Japan knows that he can work as a heel excellently. He has the mic skills needed to work crowds up, an entrance that works no matter what alignment he is and the swagger to be considered a legitimate threat.

At Payback, Styles is performing in the match of his life, locking Roman Reigns into the Calf Crusher, when the lights suddenly go dark. When they come back up, we see not just Anderson and Gallows in the ring, but Finn Balor. The three beat down both Reigns and Styles, and after Finn grabs a mic and tells Styles they tried giving him a chance, but he blew it.

Balor Club versus AJ Styles is a bit of a dream match. Styles came to New Japan the night Balor left, so we never got to see the two Bullet Club leaders square off in the ring. This is the kind of thrilling feuds that could draw some serious money for WWE if they market it as the dream match that it is. It could also draw attention to the NXT Championship the same way Kevin Owens did with it last summer.

How would you book the Bullet Club in WWE? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to share and subscribe!

RAW Recap/Analysis – April 18, 2016

WWE continued a trend of fun episodes of RAW during its broadcast from London, England. Fresh matchups and a huge surprise early on fueled a night full of unexpected twists and entertaining wrestling.

(A very full) Ambrose Asylum

Dean Ambrose opened the night with an episode of his brand new show: The Ambrose Asylum, being greeted with a big pop from an appreciative London crowd. He cracked a few jokes and then introduced his first guest: Shane McMahon.

London gave Shane a warm welcome and Ambrose agreed, showing the clip of Shane’s absolutely insane spot from WrestleMania (you know the one). He asked Shane what his agenda with WWE was, and Shane name-dropped stars such as AJ Styles, Sami Zayn, and Sasha Banks, and said he was there to give the WWE Universe what it deserved.

He was interrupted by Kevin Owens, who called Shane mad with power and accusing him of having a vendetta against him. Owens badmouthed Sami Zayn, and soon enough the man himself came out to confront him. Sami brought up their history and said that Owens would have never ended up in WWE without him.

To complete the party, Chris Jericho came out, mic in hand, and called Zayn an emotional idiot. He criticized McMahon, and the four in the ring began to bicker, with Dean telling everyone to be careful around his plant.

Shane then took the opportunity to book two matches for Payback, pitting Jericho against Ambrose and Owens against Zayn. He stepped out of the ring, taking the plant with him, and chaos broke out. Zayn and Ambrose threw Owens and Jericho out of the ring.

This was a bit of a hot mess, but enjoyable nonetheless. Frankly, anything that is not Authority-related is good for me.

Chris Jericho vs. Sami Zayn

Zayn started the match off hot, catching a grumpy Chris Jericho off guard with some swift, high-flying offense. Jericho, with some well-timed ring utilization, staged a comeback, wearing Zayn down on the ring and with a dropkick to the chest.

Jericho badmouthed Zayn as he locked him in a chokehold, but Zayn powered back with a series of clotheslines and a flying crossbody. He countered a lionsault and hit a Blue Thunder Bomb, but Jericho survived it, reversing into the Walls of Jericho. Zayn broke it, but it had done a lot of damage.

Zayn launched a frustrated Jericho out of the ring, flying through the ropes to attack Jericho with a flying DDT. But Jericho caught Zayn in the eyes, allowing him to hit a Codebreaker for the pinfall.

This was an excellent match, with Jericho utilizing classic heel tactics not involving a distraction to secure a win over Zayn, who still managed to come out of the match looking credible.

Backstage, Mauro Ranallo interviewed AJ Styles, and this was interrupted by Anderson and Gallows. The pair exchanged a warm greeting with Styles and the trio went off to catch up.

Enzo and Cass vs. The Dudley Boyz (Semifinals of the Tag Tourney)

London gave Enzo and Cass a huge ovation as they entered, and the pair wasted no time in getting their trash talking started for the receptive crowd before the Dudleys emerged.

Enzo started things off, energetic as ever even as both Dudleys began to wear into him.  Bubba Ray didn’t know quite what to make of Enzo’s manic energy, but Enzo running into him was like running into a brick wall. DeVon tagged in and continued the beatdown, and both veterans mocked him as they beat him down.

But Enzo couldn’t be kept down for the count, avoiding asplash off the top rope from Bubba Ray and tagging Big Cass in hot. Big Cass cleaned house, tagging Enzo in for the Rocket Launcher for a beautiful, clean victory.

Is there any doubt as to how incredibly hot Enzo and Cass are? The crowd went absolutely nuts for them, showing the kind of energy serenading Enzo Amore that can only be rivaled by the energy they showed booing Roman Reigns.

The Dudleys also feel fresher than ever against this dynamite duo, being given a pair who can easily match them both on the mic and in the ring. I hope this rivalry doesn’t die here, it’s too good to waste.

Bullet Club strikes

Roman Reigns entered to some pretty sizable boos, which were surprisingly not edited down. He spouted his usual line about being THE guy, talking down about AJ Styles and saying it was his time, and his era.

The crowd started chanting “BORING,” until AJ Styles entered to save the day, getting the kind of welcome he deserves. AJ gave Reigns his due credit, saying he would have to have the match of his life to become champion, but that he was ready to do so.

Reigns acknowledged how popular AJ Styles is, saying he would earn the respect of everyone and adding that he would rather be respected with the championship than liked without it. And Styles said he wanted both.

But as he left, Anderson and Gallows ambushed Reigns to huge cheers, laying him out in the ring as Styles watched from the ramp.

Backstage, AJ assured Roman that he had no idea what was going to happen, saying he didn’t need his friends to beat Reigns, and Roman said it wouldn’t matter either way.

Well, this is interesting.

First, I’m impressed that WWE did not even attempt to edit down the chorus of boos that greeted Roman Reigns, and also am impressed with the champ’s work on the mic. In his new, more arrogant and dispassionate attitude, he seems to be finally finding a real voice, gaining some serious heat when he talked down to AJ Styles and said he didn’t care about being liked. Styles also sounded stronger than ever on the mic, really getting the British crowd behind him with enviable ease.

Second, the Bullet Club’s interference sets up two possibilities: Styles turning heel on tweener Reigns and reforming the Bullet Club, or the Bullet Club turning on Styles and possibly going rogue or rallying behind a debuting Finn Balor.

Color me intrigued, WWE. Keep it up.

Baron Corbin vs. Fandango

With Dolph Ziggler on commentary, Baron Corbin squared off against Fandango, who apparently still exists. Bless him.

Corbin dominated the match, sending Fandango out of the ring and into Dolph Ziggler, getting an easy and decisive victory in no time. He wasn’t able to celebrate for long, with an infuriated Dolph Ziggler going after him, hitting the End of Days at ringside.

Baron Corbin looks to be settling right in on the main roster. His aura has not faded in the slightest and he’s looking better than ever in the ring. Good on you, big Banter. Good on you.

Miz TV

Introduced obnoxiously by Maryse, the Miz wasted no time in mocking Prince George and bragging about being Intercontinental Champion. The two then made out in the ring, and thank goodness were interrupted by Cesaro and his glorious suit.

Charisma showing easily, Cesaro mocked the Miz, who ignored him in favor of delivering a monologue from Taken. The crowd heckled him throughout, so he just delivered the last line again and again.

Cesaro cut him off, saying “when my hand goes up your mouth goes shut,” and the crowd absolutely ate it up. He proclaimed that he would in fact be the WWE Intercontinental Champion and quoted Roddy Piper:

“I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum.”

The Miz brushed this off and introduced Cesaro’s opponent: Rusev.

But Cesaro revealed that plans had changed, and Miz and the League of Nations would be teaming up against him and….(ripping away his suit to reveal a Booty-O’s shirt) THE NEW DAY!

Cesaro’s charisma shone brightly in this segment, but one of the biggest revelations was how good as a heel pair Miz and Maryse are. They drew heat easily, and Miz looks more and more credible every time she is at his side.

Cesaro & The New Day vs. The League of Nations & The Miz

London popped massively for the New Day, practically blowing the roof off the O2 Arena as they chanted along with Big E for their entrance.

Woods and Miz started things off, with Woods getting some early momentum against the Hollywood star and Big E tagging in to continue dishing out punishment. a tagged Kofi was soon subjected to some punishment from a tagged-in Alberto Del Rio, but a vertical leap allowed the New Day and Cesaro to hit the Unicorn Stampede.

The League of Nations regained some momentum over Xavier Woods, isolating him far away from his team and sending him out of the ring. The heels continued to beat down on him, preventing anyone from being there for Xavier to tag in.

Cesaro finally tagged in, taking Sheamus and the Miz to Uppercut City, even leaving the ring to take the others out before hitting a crossbody on Sheamus. Chaos erupted as all the teams got involved, with Big E evening things out for Cesaro to get the win.

Is there any group more over than the New Day? These guys got the pop of the night and delivered in the ring, clicking with Cesaro wonderfully. They were entertaining as hell, and it’s always great to see Xavier Woods int he ring AND getting some nice offense in.

Backstage, Mauro Ranallo interviewed Charlotte before Natalya interrupted, revealing that Bret Hart would be in her corner at Payback.

Natalya, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch & Paige vs. Charlotte, Naomi, Tamina & Summer Rae

No Superstar stayed in the ring for too long, all tagging in and out with ease. Paige got time to make more of a statement on her home turf, taking out both Naomi and Tamina with a dive from the ring as Becky took Charlotte down herself.

Speaking of the Lass Kicker, she took control of the match soon after, battling through interference from Tamina and Naomi both no matter which heel was tagged in. Summer Rae looked to continue beating the Irish Superstar down before tagging Naomi in.

Lynch was finally able to tag in a hot Natalya, who quickly sent Summer Rae to town before Charlotte tagged in. Tamina and Naomi attempted to break things up, but Sasha and Paige got rid of them, allowing Natalya to lock in the Sharpshooter on Charlotte, forcing her to tap.

Let me start with this: Natalya and Charlotte can build a feud without it being about the men in their families any day of the week. Natalya knows the business well, and Charlotte’s a natural. Adding Bret Hart to the mix is a bit of a distraction from who the true stars should be: the ladies.

That being said, this is Bret’s first appearance since his battle with prostate cancer, and I am thrilled to see him doing better. He and Ric will probably play the same roles they did at NXT in 2014 when the two women first faced off. I predict Bret will only serve to elevate his niece, just as he should.

The Vaudvillains vs. The Usos (Semifinals of the Tag Tourney)

Simon Gotch started things off strong before tagging Aiden English in to continue dishing out the punishment on Jimmy before Jey tagged in. He got some momentum back, hitting a kick tot he face and Samoan Drop before Gotch interfered.

Back in the ring, English worked Jey’s shoulder  before hitting the Whirling Dervish for a decisive victory.

An Apollo Crews vignette aired after, finally giving the casual WWE Universe a glimpse at the latest NXT callup.

NXT truly has arrived, my friends. Bask in the glory.

Apollo Crews vs. Heath Slater

On the deal that if he lost the match he would join the Social Outcasts, Apollo Crews took on Heath Slater.

Crews displayed his power and athleticism with practiced ease, hitting an impressive vertical suplex before a cheap shot by Slater allowed him to slow Crews down. Slater grounded the new Superstar, locking him in a chokehold and beating him down into the mat.

But Crews couldn’t be kept down for long, taking out Dallas and Axel at ringside before hitting a crossbody on Slater and escaping a rollup attempt. Hitting the sit-down powerbomb, Crews got the victory.

He didn’t get to celebrate for long as Owens entered for his main event against Dean Ambrose, not even sparing a glance for Crews as he entered.

Crews is fun in the ring, but if we don’t get to see a glimpse of who he is as a character, he will have a hard time getting any sort of reaction anywhere. I hope he’s given the chance to continue growing, because he really does have what it takes to be huge.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens

Owens and Ambrose wasted no time in exchanging blows and throwing each other into the turnbuckle. Ambrose took an early lead in the match against a frustrated Owens, who soon got Ambrose caught in a headlock, proclaiming himself the headlock master. Ambrose fought out, clocking Owens before hitting him with a suicide dive when he tried to retreat out of the ring.

In retaliation, Owens sent Ambrose over the announce table, and Ambrose soon returned the favor. However, Owens soon enough regained momentum, using his weight to punish Ambrose as fully as possible before locking in a chinlock.

Ambrose made it to his feet, escaping the lock and striking Owens before being sent over the top rope and being hit with a frog splash off the apron. Ambrose just barely beat the count back to the ring, only to be caught in another chinlock before reversing it into a powerbomb.

Ambrose got to the top rope, hitting a stunning flying elbow out of the ring on a fleeing Owens. Back in the ring, the two once again traded blows before Ambrose hit Owens with a wicked clothesline for a near fall and then a superplex from the ropes for another. Owens nearly hit his finisher, but Ambrose reversed it, only to get hit by a crazy move from the ropes by Owens.

Owens went for another splash from the ropes, but Ambrose hit him with the knees to the gut followed by Dirty Deeds for the victory, but Chris Jericho caught him with a Codebreaker to close out the night.

Another RAW, another fantastic showing from two of WWE’s best and most over workhorses. Hope to see them in the main event scene of pay-per-views soon enough. They both deserve it.

All in all, this week’s RAW continued the WWE’s trend of meaningful, fun hours of wrestling and yes, entertainment. I hope they can continue this for weeks to come.

 

Gabby Books It: A Roman Reigns heel turn

In his triumphant first RAW as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns was not given the hero’s welcome WWE would want. In fact, thunderous, unforgiving boos and furious jeers were hurtled at the new top dog no matter what he said or did.

But interestingly enough, Roman didn’t even attempt to get on the crowd’s good side. In fact, his entire promo reeked of, well, arrogance.

Perhaps Creative simply accepted that Dallas would boo him even if he rescued a dying puppy. Perhaps they didn’t even intend for him to come of as cocky as he did. Or perhaps they are finally pulling the trigger on what could be a masterful and career-defining heel turn.

As of right now, Roman Reigns has the kind of heat most heels would kill for. Yes, some kids and fans still cheer him on, but hardcore fans and even some disinterested casual fans hate him. In all honesty, he’s not good on the mic, somewhat limited (but technically sound) in the ring in terms of acrobatics, and feels force-fed to a resistant audience. He’s failed to truly connect with fans, and he’s suffering for it.

I don’t blame him in the slightest. I like him. He’s a great dad and a good ambassador for the company. But WWE is, first and foremost, a wrestling company. And if Roman is going to get over, he needs to turn to the dark side. I seem to recall another Samoan star doing the same.

And I have a plan for how to do it.

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First, let’s work on building his character. Right now, he’s a bland badass, throwing punches and defying authority but lacking anything to separate him from the pack. Kevin Owens throws punches just as hard. Dean Ambrose defies authority just as often. What defines Roman Reigns?

One word: arrogance. Infuse it into everything he does. Have him hold his belt high with a smug smile at every chance he gets. Let him sneer every time he utters his awful “Believe that” catchphrase. Turn his dull self-reliance into conceit. It’s not too much of a change, but it adds depth to a flat character, driving everything he does.

As for the turn? Well, every heel needs a beloved face to feast upon. And the WWE, it seems, already has one in mind: AJ Styles.

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The internet darling has quickly earned the love of the entire WWE Universe with his unrivaled in-ring ability. He is everything babyface Reigns is not: naturally charismatic, a bit smaller than the average star, and a flying powerhouse. His ringset is at least twice as large as Reigns’.

Just imagine the fury that will be unleashed when Roman retains his title against a beloved star with worldwide fame.

Let me make one thing clear: AJ Styles will, in my mind, be WWE World Heavyweight Champion at least once. But will it happen right now? I doubt it. Reigns is their guy, and while they may change how they present him, they won’t change where he is, whether we like it or not. That being said, let’s book this bad boy.

On RAW, AJ Styles opens the show, mic in hand. He talks about his long and successful career all around the world, and the goals he set for himself. He says his final goal used to be getting a WrestleMania moment. But now, he has a new one. He wants to be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He talks about how much the fan response to his success has meant, and says he wouldn’t be where he is without them.

Cue Roman Reigns, who enters to what will probably 70% boos and 30% cheers. For the first time, he openly acknowledges the fans’ disdain for him, and tells AJ Styles that he got where he is now not because of his fans, but because of himself. His fists got him his title, not the support of strangers. He says he isn’t letting his title go easily, whether the fans like it or not.

AJ Styles nods, and replies: “I believe that.”

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That night, Renee Young asks Roman what he thinks about AJ Styles. Roman says that he respects him, but then says that he isn’t the one who lasted an entire Royal Rumble match right down to the final three. He isn’t the one who won his WrestleMania match.

“Last time I checked, I’ve also been the Tag Team Champion as well,” he adds. “Styles didn’t win at WrestleMania. Styles didn’t become Tag Team Champion. So while I may respect him, I’m not afraid of him.”

That week on SmackDown, AJ Styles takes on Kevin Owens in the main event (setting up tension for a future rivalry). Backstage, Sami tells him to kick his ass, and Styles agrees. The two chat amicably as they walk down a hallway, but then they pass Roman, who just snorts at the two and walks off, patting his title.

The next week on RAW, Dean Ambrose opens the show, calling Roman out to the ring. He asks Roman what’s gotten into him, saying he’s not the brother he knew. Dean mentions Seth, saying he’s seen this all before, and bluntly asks Roman if he’s working for the Authority. Roman just laughs.

“I don’t need the Authority to do what you couldn’t: take this company over.”

He leaves a stunned Ambrose in the middle of the ring.

Renee tracks Reigns down and asks him why he would say something like that to his best friend, to which Reigns replies that it isn’t personal, just cold hard facts. He says that he knows the fans like Ambrose more, and says that he can have the WWE Universe: he’ll take the championship over them any day of the week.

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On SmackDown, AJ Styles teams up with Dean Ambrose to take on Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens. Styles and Ambrose prove to be an excellent team against their two rivals, with Styles getting the pin on Jericho, hitting the Styles Clash after Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds. Kevin Owens was taken out of the picture by an ambush from Sami Zayn, because heck yeah this feud is going to get some nice airtime!

After the match, Ambrose gives Styles a mic, and Styles calls out Reigns, saying that he wants to make his championship match official, challenging him to defend his title at Payback. Reigns comes out, and looks at Ambrose, puzzled.

“You’re supporting this, bro?” he asks. Ambrose shrugs.

“Well, I figured you wouldn’t need anybody to take him out anyways, so why not?” Dean says flatly. Reigns accepts Styles’ challenge and Ambrose and Styles stand tall to close the night.

That week, Reigns is the guest on Michael Cole’s weekly interview segment. He repeats that he’s not a good guy or a bad guy, just THE guy. He says AJ Styles may have been the top wrestler around the world, but the WWE is HIS yard. He says he’s not afraid of AJ Styles or anyone else.

On RAW, Reigns cuts a promo on Styles, saying that his three months in the WWE is nothing compared to his three years. He criticizes the hardcore fans for hating him so much, saying that they should get lives of their own instead of demeaning his work (Reigns has actually said something similar to this already). He says that Styles may have worked for over a decade to get to where he is, but Reigns didn’t even need half the time to rise to the top.

Styles takes offense to this, running into the ring. The two stare each other down, and finally shake hands. All seems well as Styles leaves, but then Reigns spears him from behind to close out the show standing tall.

On SmackDown, Styles cuts a promo on Reigns, calling him an entitled brat and a coward. He points out stars like Dean Ambrose and Sami Zayn, calling them the heroes Reigns never could be.

Reigns comes out and charges at him, but Styles is too quick on his feet, hitting him with the Phenomenal Forearm and locking in the Calf Crusher to close out the show.

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You can bet that the Chicago crowd, a historically smart collection of fans, will be behind AJ Styles completely at Payback.

In the match, Styles puts on an incredible performance, nearly getting a pinfall many times. In the match, he is clearly the dominant performer and better wrestler, rallying Chicago behind him as he wears Roman Reigns down. But then, Roman does the unthinkable, pulling out a crowbar. When the ref is turned, he spears the official, but claims it was an accident.

While the ref is down, he brutally attacks Styles with the crowbar, beating him until he is nearly limp. When the ref rises again, he hits Styles with a Superman Punch and Spear, taking him down for the three-count.

The crowd is furious. This time, Roman basks in the boos, continuing to attack Styles until Ambrose, fresh off a victory over Chris Jericho, comes to his rescue. Reigns attacks him with a crowbar as well, and it looks like he’s going to literally kill them, until music we haven’t heard in months blasts through Chicago, and Seth Rollins emerges, finally taking Roman down and holding up the belt to end the night.

 

Styles will be a bonafide star, with the potential to continue feuding with Reigns or spark something with Rollins. AJ Styles and Seth Rollins can square off for the Money in the Bank briefcase, feuding through SummerSlam while Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns have their long-awaited feud. Styles can cash in and hold the belt through the Royal Rumble, dropping it to Reigns who can defend it against Ambrose and Rollins at WrestleMania. And Reigns will be the most hated villain in WWE.

There you have it. WWE, I dare you to do better. 😉