Category Archives: Wrestling

Five Stars From WWE Raw (1/8/18): Miz, Braun Strowman, Balor Club & More!

Raw was live from Memphis, Tennessee last night as we inch our way closer to the Royal Rumble. The Miz finally returned from filming a movie, Braun Strowman tried to murder Brock Lesnar & Kane and the Balor Club continued to be too sweet. Here are the five stars from the January 8th, 2018 edition of WWE Raw.

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5. The Miz, Always & Forever

Before he left to film the new Marine movie, The Miz was the best part of Raw. He’s always been great on the microphone, but his in ring work is back to where it was when he was the defending WWE championship in the main event of WM 27. He has enough experience now to cater matches to his opponents strengths. That allows both he and his opponent to shine, which is something that doesn’t happen enough in WWE. Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel are tremendous here as well, especially the bit with the gifts. Axel not getting Miz a gift and offering up his sports coat was probably my favorite moment of the show and these three continue to be magic together.

In his first promo of 2018, Miz lists all of his accomplishments from 2017 (including being Rolling Stone’s Superstar of the Year). He also talks about ‘gifting’ Reigns the IC title because he wanted the title to be defended every week while he was gone. That’s so, so good. Miz’s passion for the IC title makes it the most important title on the show, and I cant’ wait for his match with Reigns in two weeks.

Miz, Dallas and Axel show up again after the main event to attack Reigns, Rollins and Jordan. I’m not confident angering Roman Reigns is the best way to go, but Miz definitely has a game plan. If there is a God, Miz will be IC champ again before the Rumble.

4. Samoa Joe

Another consistently great part of Raw has been whatever Samoa Joe is doing. Case in point, he took on Rhino last night in a quick, physical match then declared his entry into the Rumble. He also seemed to call out John Cena and guaranteed that he would eliminate him in the Rumble. If history in any indicator, the opposite will happen, but I’m all the way in for Samoa Joe taking old man Cena to the wood shed. I really hope everyone else on the roster is paying attention to how Miz and Joe utilize promo time, because they’re far and away the two best guys on the roster right now.

3. Braun Strowman, Murder Machine

Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar was a dud at No Mercy. The build was fantastic, the match was a let down but in general whenever those two are near each other it’s fun to watch. What’s not fun to watch is Kane doing anything in 2018, so I’m torn on the triple threat title match scheduled for the Rumble. After last night’s segment with Braun, Kane & Brock, I’m back on board. As a rule of thumb, Braun Strowman should always be destroying something and/or someone. Last night he did both.

After a run of the mill promo from Paul Heyman, Kane attacked Brock Lesnar on the stage. They brawled backstage where Strowman attacked them. Kudos to Brock Lesnar who is secretly the king of getting thrown around. That toss into the crew equipment looked brutal. After the quick beat down, Braun turned into a human spear gun and threw some type of hook onto the top of the metal scaffolding. He then proceeded to pull down the scaffolding with his bare hands, crushing Lesnar and Kane. Heyman’s reaction was pitch perfect as always, and if we’re going to have Kane main event a major pay per view in 2018, I’m glad they’re at least making it insane.

2. Nia Jax vs. Asuka

Even though Nia Jax vs. Asuka is taking place next week, I’m still adding it here. Nia is the only believable challenger for Asuka, so I’m glad they’re pairing them up ahead of the women’s Rumble. What makes the Rumble so fun are the mini feuds within the match. Before this segment the only friction was Absolution/Sasha, Bayley and Mickie James. Nia vs. Asuka is a great second story line to add to the match, and hopefully WWE uses the next two Raw’s to build more. I also enjoyed how Nia was able to play different characters within the same show. She showed her softer side when she checked on Enzo and her monstrous side when she attacked Asuka.

While we’re talking about Asuka, I don’t want to forget the best news of the night. That would be Miz and Asuka pairing up for the Mixed Match Challenge.

1. Balor Club

Last week WWE finally paired up Balor, Gallows & Anderson and formed the Balor Club. It was such a no brainer that I can’t believe it’s taken this long to do it, but at least it’s finally happening. This week they interrupt ‘The Shield’ to explain why it took so long for them to reunite, which I always appreciate. Balor, Gallows and Anderson always knew they could team up whenever they wanted, but they desired success on their own. I can buy that for Balor, but I would not consider what Gallows and Anderson have done so far on Raw a ‘success’.

Either way I’m glad they’re together and they seem to be having a blast. While last week they beat Elias & the Miztourage, this week they faced a tougher test. This isn’t The Shield we’re used to, but Jordan, Rollins and Reigns are still a solid team. Balor Club triumphed again, and this pairing should push Finn back into the main event and make Gallows/Anderson a legitimate threat of a team. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

-Ryan

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Five Stars From WWE Raw (1/1/18): Finn Balor, Asuka, Braun Strowman & More!

Happy new year, wrestling fans! 2017 was a great year for professional wrestling and 2018 kicked off with Raw live from Miami, Florida. Last night’s show featured the return of Universal champ Brock Lesnar and a pleasantly surprising amount of wrestling. Asuka and Braun Strowman dominated, Bray Wyatt looked competent again and Finn Balor reunited with old friends. Here are the five stars from the 1/1/18 episode of WWE Raw.

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5. Bray Wyatt

On the November 27th Raw, Bray Wyatt took on Matt Hardy. Wyatt won and Hardy had a post match break down which lead to his new ‘Woken’ character. The ‘Woken’ Matt Hardy is a take on his Broken Brilliance character that was one of the more popular acts in wrestling in 2016-17. Hardy vs. Wyatt has been a dream match up ever since Hardy’s ‘Broken’ character took off, and it looked like we were finally going to see these two do battle. Since the 11/27 Raw, the build has been mainly dueling backstage promos and extended laugh offs. Needless to say, it hasn’t been the best thing in the world. While last night’s Wyatt/Crews match isn’t going to end up any best of lists, it was a step in the right direction.

Wyatt and Crews had a good, competitive match that attempted to restore how tough and dangerous Wyatt can be. I loved that he hit the Sister Abigail as a reversal to Crews, as that move is always more effective without a drawn out setup. The post match Hardy promo was more of the same, but at least we got to see Wyatt in action. Moving forward I’d like to see Hardy and Wyatt stay away from each other inside the ring and add some creativity to the mind games.

4. No One Is Ready For Asuka

Similar to the Wyatt/Crews match, Asuka/Bliss was a good showcase for how skilled and dangerous Asuka can be. While the match started out slow, it had a good pace once the action started. This was also a rare example of a ‘challenger beating the champion’ story actually being a good thing. Asuka is the most dominant wrestler on the roster and is an obvious pick to win the first ever women’s royal rumble. If she does win, she’ll get to challenge the women’s champion, who in all likely hood will be Alexa Bliss. While it goes without saying that Asuka can destroy Bliss, it’s always nice to see it played out in a match.

I like the addition of Nia Jax being too preoccupied with Enzo to help Alexa too, as that eliminates Bliss’s ultimate backup plan. Asuka could probably beat Alexa with Nia in her corner, but when you take Nia out of the equation, Bliss is running for her life. Asuka continues her undefeated streak by beating the champion clean, and Bliss’s title reign is now in the most jeopardy it’s ever been in.

3. Braun Strowman

The best news from this week’s Raw is that Braun Strowman is back to being the resident bad ass. He was scheduled to take on Rhyno, but after Heath Slater annoyed him at ringside, he took it upon himself to make it a handicap match. A few power slams later and he was victorious, but that was only the beginning. The crowd wanted more power slams after the match and Strowman was happy to oblige. I don’t understand why Strowman doesn’t do something like this every week, because the crowd obviously loves it. I highly doubt he wins the title at the Rumble, but I’m glad he’s back to being the biggest ass kicker on Raw again.

2. Samoa Joe vs. Roman Reigns

Samoa Joe took on Roman Reigns for the IC title last night, and it was easily the match of the year. All joking aside, Reigns and Joe have incredible chemistry, and the best part of the late 2017 and now early 2018 Raw’s are Reigns defending the IC title in good to great matches. Last week’s match was ended prematurely due to a dumb DQ, but this match was better by a mile. Joe has the best diving forearm through the ropes on the roster, and Reigns always excels at taking a beating. Reigns won, because obviously of course he did, but the more of these matches he pulls off the more shocking it will be when someone does beat him. There are no shortage of guys who could take the IC belt off of Reigns and Samoa Joe should be at the top of that list.

1. Finn Balor

When Gallows and Anderson signed with WWE and Finn Balor was bumped up to Raw, the obvious move should have been to put them together. They were wildly popular as part of the Bullet Club in Japan, so it would make sense for WWE to capitalize on that and make them a dominant faction. Instead, Gallows and Anderson have been a dud and Finn Balor has been answering Curt Hawkins’ open challenges. While last night could have been a one off, I’m hoping it leads to a permanent reunion between the three with the charismatic Balor as their leader. Finn is too talented to be anywhere but the upper mid card, and I’m hoping this feud with continues when the Miz returns next week. Miz/Balor with the Miz-Tourage and Gallows/Anderson could be entertaining and feature some good in ring work.

-Ryan

Five Best WWE Matches Of 2017: #1 Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne (TakeOver Chicago)

What happens when you put a 20 and 23 year old in a title match at an NXT live special? If the 20 and 23 year old’s are Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne, you get the match of the year. WWE held a UK tournament four months prior to this TakeOver to crown the first ever UK champion. The final match was between Bate and Pete Dunne, with Bate gaining the victory and becoming the champ. The rematch would take place last May at TakeOver Chicago.

Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne – NXT TakeOver Chicago

Unless you followed the UK scene or watched the UK tournament on the WWE Network, this match was an introduction to these two stars. Whatever expectations there were, they were thrown out the window from the get go. Everything Bate and Dunne do in this match has a purpose, and I specifically love Dunne’s limb work. He fancies himself a ‘Bruiserweight’, but his arm, hand and finger work are just as impressive. Bate is every bit Dunne’s equal, and they make even the most basic moves look and feel exciting.

While Chicago has always been a great wrestling crowd, they were super into everything Dunne and Bate did. The combination of two fresh faces who were also working their ass off delighted the Chicago crowd. They combined great mat wrestling and limb work with some high spots without ever relying too heavily on the spots. They were also sprinkled in throughout the match, which is always better than trying to jam them all together. Dunne’s flip suplex onto the apron was at the 2 minute mark. Bate peppered the match with suplexes and freakish displays of strength. The INSANE airplane spin 7 minutes in. My advice would be to take 15 minutes of out of your day and watch this match. You won’t be disappointed.

Read the rest of our countdown by clicking on the pro wrestling tab on our home page.

-Ryan

Five Best WWE Matches Of 2017: #2 AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor (TLC)

Sometimes WWE has to call an audible and they end up booking a better match than the original. That’s exactly what happened at TLC when AJ Styles fought Finn Balor.

AJ Styles vs. Finn Balor – TLC

The original match for TLC was Finn Balor vs. Bray Wyatt. After Wyatt came down with an illness, WWE had to make a last minute substitution. Their pick set up a dream match, as 2017 MVP AJ Styles flew in from the Smackdown South America tour to face Balor. Styles and Balor were both former Bullet Club leaders in NJPW, and fans have been clamoring for a match between the two for awhile. We finally got it at TLC, and they did not disappoint.

When I went back and watched this match, I can’t believe this didn’t thrust Balor into the main event. The fact that he’s answering open challenges from Curt Hawkins and not fighting Lesnar at the Rumble is mind boggling. Guys like Balor and Styles should be fighting each other, as the quality of matches and fan reactions improve immensely. As I stated in the AJ Styles/Cena write up, Styles could have made up the entire top five list with his performances this year. I thought Styles/Balor at TLC was his best performance for a few reasons.

This match was booked only two days before the pay per view so neither guy had time to prepare for the match. Also, in a year filled with Cena and Jinder Mahal matches, Styles finally got to wrestle someone with talent who could keep up with him in the ring. This match had a frenetic pace from bell to bell, with both guys working and selling their ass off. The crowd ate up everything they did (rightfully so) AND they didn’t have to rely on finisher musical chairs to keep the crowd interested. One coup de grace from Balor and it was over. Two world class athletes at the top of their game having a match of the year candidate. What’s not to love?

-Ryan

Five Best WWE Matches Of 2017: #3 New Day vs. The Usos (WWE Battleground)

In the tag team division, what WWE lacks in depth, they made up for in quality in 2017. Most that credit goes to two teams: The Usos & New Day. These two teams have been fighting since New Day arrived on Smackdown, and almost all of their matches have been great. My favorite one happened at WWE Battleground in July.

New Day vs. The Usos – Battleground

This was the show opener at Battleground, and nothing that followed came close to it. Heading into 2017 my favorite New Day tag combo was Kofi & Big E, but this was the year of Xavier Woods. He shined during this feud, and easily had the best performance of the night at Battleground. With The Usos switching to their ‘day one’ characters, New Day finally had a heel team to play off of, and it was wonderful. Woods looked natural as the baby face in peril, and Kofi was equally as good with the high octane hot tags.

As great as Kofi and Xavier were, The Usos matched them beat for beat. The Usos adapted a more aggressive style that completely changed their matches. The crowd ate up everything these two teams did, and the title change at the end earned the pop of the night.

Five Best WWE Matches Of 2017: #4 AJ Styles vs. John Cena (Royal Rumble)

Looking back at the best matches of the year, one name keeps popping up AJ Styles. He’s been in the WWE less than two years, but he’s already made a tremendous impact. He’s been WWE’s MVP since his debut, and he stole the show at this year’s Royal Rumble. While Cena and Styles fought a few times, their match at the Rumble was their finest one.

#4 WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles vs. John Cena (Royal Rumble)

In my write up for match #5 on this list, I mentioned I don’t like when matches rely on finisher kick outs. I stand by that point, but there are times when it works, and this match was one of them. Velveteen Dream and Aleister Black don’t have the name value of a Cena or Styles, and their finishers are too new not to be protected. On the other hand, Cena and Styles have been around forever. Everyone kicks out of the AA, and the first time Styles hit the Styles Clash in WWE, Jericho kicked out of it.

While false finishes were one part of this match, both guys worked their ass off and gave us a match of the year candidate in January. The match went over 24 minutes but kept a brisk pace, mostly thanks to Styles insane cardio conditioning. Styles can keep you invested in the beginning/middle parts of matches then kick it into high gear for the ending. Cena kept up to, and even though ‘big match John’ is an annoying nickname, it’s true. Cena almost always rises to the occasion in big time matches, and he had the perfect foil in AJ Styles. The historical significance of the match was huge too, as Cena’s win tied him with Ric Flair for the most world title wins in history.

-Ryan

Five Stars From WWE Raw 12/25/17: Elias, Asuka & New Tag Team Champions!

WWE Raw was live on Christmas day for the first time ever last night. John Cena made his Raw return in the opening segment with the criminally underrated Elias. Plus, Asuka confronted Alexa Bliss, Roman Reigns fought Samoa Joe and The Bar defended their tag team titles. Here are the five stars from the 12/25/17 edition of WWE Raw.

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

5. Elias Plus A Little Bit Of John Cena

Before I get into why I love Elias so much, I want to point out the greatness of John Cena the person. His character has always been too inconsistent for my tastes, but he’s clearly a great guy. The latest example of that is last night on Raw, when he gave a kid in the crowd the shirt off his back. It’s a small gesture to Cena but probably meant the world to that kid and his dad. That it happened on live TV on Christmas made it all the more special. Before Cena could get too hokey he was interrupted by Elias, who is becoming my favorite part of Raw.

Elias has his character figured out better than anybody else on the show, and he’s starting to get rewarded for it. While it would have been nice for him to win, beating John Cena on Christmas isn’t going to happen. Elias still got the first 30+ minutes of the show with Cena and lost a highly competitive match. He got to shut down a CM Punk in Chicago, even though Cena’s insistence on blowing the Chicago crowd was infuriating. He continues to improve on the microphone and in the ring, and has risen to the occasion with every big name they’ve put him with. The key moving forward for him is continued momentum, so hopefully he continues to be featured in important segments.

4. Hideo Itami

Hideo Itami made his main roster debut last week and continued to impress against Brian Kendrick last night. It’s only a matter of time before he’s challenging for the cruiserweight title, and I hope it’s against Enzo. Cedric Alexander gets hit title shot next week, but I think the Zo Train will be able to assist Enzo in retaining the title. Itami destroying Enzo would be a lot of fun to watch and Itami might actually knee his head clean off his shoulders. Bonus points to Itami for performing the GTS in Chicago.

3. Samoa Joe

If Samoa Joe is featured on Raw, there’s a solid chance he’s going to make this list. Last night was no exception, as he challenged Roman Reigns for the IC title. Joe had a quick but great pre- match interview with Renee Young where he talked about injuring Dean Ambrose. Dean will be out for nine months, and Joe said at least he’s home enjoying the holiday with the ones he loves. He said this to Renee Young, Dean’s real life wife. That’s a next level dickhead move.

The match was very good, as are all Reigns/Joe matches. The DQ finish is always frustrating, but I’ll take that over Joe losing clean. Reigns defending the IC title on a regular basis is always great, especially when it’s against true threats like Joe. With Rollins & Jordan winning the tag titles, Reigns will continue to be a singles star. The Reigns/Lesnar showdown should begin after the Rumble, so it’ll be interesting to see if Roman keeps the IC belt. There are no shortage of guys who could run with the title if Reign loses it, and Joe is near the top of that list.

2. Asuka

Asuka officially entered the women’s Royal Rumble last night, and her winning should be the biggest no brainer of 2018. She’s been running in place since debuting on Raw, but Rumble/WrestleMania season is the time to let her loose. The most dominant woman on the roster should be the one to win the first ever women’s Rumble. From there you can have her stalk Alexa Bliss, who still has Nia Jax in her corner. Nia would be able to shift the odds in Alexa’s favor just enough to make the feud competitive. If the women’s division goes any other route but Asuka winning the Rumble and the title at WrestleMania they’re out of their goddamn minds.

1. New Tag Team Champions

With the length of Dean Ambrose’s injury confirmed, WWE pulled their favorite audible. Whenever someone is injured and gets replaced by someone else, there’s a good chance the new person is winning. Zack Ryder won the IC title as a last minute fill in at WrestleMania 32. More recently, Cedric Alexander won the #1 contender spot after Rich Swann was arrested. While those decisions have good shock value, they’re not always the best move for the story. In this case, I think Jordan and Rollins winning the tag titles could work.

Jason Jordan keeps getting opportunities, and although Kurt Angle insists it’s not because he’s his son, it’s getting harder to believe that. Jordan is consistently put in high profile matches and is being rewarded for being a complainer. He finally came through last night, and now he and Rollins are the tag team champions. I’m on board for this IF Jordan continues to perfect his character of a freak in the ring who doesn’t necessarily deserve all the chances he’s getting. I think the best story to tell moving forward would be for Jordan to get a big head from finally winning, which causes issues with Rollins. If WWE is committed to turning Jordan bad, back stabbing Rollins would be the best way to get there.

-Ryan

Five Best WWE Matches Of 2017: #5 Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream

2017 was a great year for wrestling. Whether you enjoy WWE, NXT, NJPW, ROH or any other promotion, there were many excellent matches to choose from. I’d like to watch every match from every promotion, but that’s impossible. WWE puts out 8 hours of TV every week (11 or more if there’s a PPV) so they occupy most of my wrestling time. While WWE put out their own list of the top 25 matches of 2017, I decided to whittle it down to five. Starting today through next Friday (skipping Christmas) I’ll post one match a day and explain why it made the list (not THAT list). Enjoy!

Average Nobodies note: make sure to follow us on Twitter – @averagenobodies and like us on Facebook – Facebook.com/AverageNobodies. We love talking pro wrestling, so you can comment on this post or reach out to us on social media if you want to join the discussion. You can also find all of our wrestling content by clicking the ‘wrestling’ tab under the banner on our home page.

#5 Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream – NXT TakeOver: WarGames

Aleister Black vs. Velveteen Dream had the best build on the War Games card and told one of the best stories of the year in WWE. Velveteen Dream wanted Black’s respect, and he was going to do anything to earn it. Dream tried getting inside Black’s head, attacking him and costing him matches. Nothing worked. With no more options to choose, Dream only had one left thing to do. He laced up his boots, put on his airbrushed tights and had a match of the year candidate.

Most guys in WWE can put on a good match but too often those matches don’t have a story behind it. One of my favorite things about NXT is that they focus on storytelling, which makes the pay-off match that much better. In a lesser man’s hands, Velveteen Dream would be a caricature. In 22 year old Patrick Clark’s hands, it’s a work of art. While Dream is a flamboyant, over the top character, Aleister Black is the polar opposite. He’s reserved, quiet and let’s his in ring work do the talking. When you put those two characters together, there’s a chance for magic, and that’s what we got at TakeOver: WarGames.

The psychology of the match was great and the actual wrestling was even better. I also loved how these two didn’t rely on kicking out of finishers to keep the match going. While that can be effective, if it happens too often it takes your mind out of the match. Dream gave it everything he had, but just like everyone else, he fell to the Black Mass. Black giving Dream the satisfaction of saying his name after the match was the perfect ending.

-Ryan

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