After last night’s Smackdown broadcast, Daniel Bryan joined Renee Young for ‘Talking Smack’ like he always does. During the final segment, the Miz interrupted Young and Bryan and asked why he and his IC title haven’t been featured more on Smackdown. Well The Miz got his answer, and it was a real one: Daniel Bryan thinks the Miz fights like a coward, and embodies that soft style that WWE used to be known for. Now, there’s going to a lot of discussion about what happened next, and my opinion on it is that it went down pretty much exactly as it what supposed to. You don’t have a guy interrupt a segment asking why he isn’t featured, then get called out for being a coward AND then have him cut the promo of his life by accident. Daniel Bryan walking off and Renee Young not knowing what to do made the entire segment that much more compelling, and this is the type of realistic stuff the WWE should be doing. If someone calls you a coward in real life, that is how you’d respond. I’m not saying everyone will be able to handle cutting this type of promo, but you know Miz can, and he went out and delivered. The only thing that would’ve made this better is if Daniel Bryan wasn’t seriously hurt and could get back in the ring and rip Miz’s arms off.
Raw was live from Providence, RI last night and as always, the Average Nobodies were in attendance. It was a really solid show, with a fun opening segment, a great 12 man tag match in the middle and a fantastic title match to close the show. The main reason(s) the opening segment was so much fun is because Stephanie and Shane McMahon named their GM’s for Raw and Smackdown live. Leading up to the show, I had a feeling that the GM’s would be fan favorites, and the picks did not disappoint. First, Stephanie introduced Mick Foley as the new GM of Raw, and the building went nuts. Foley’s reaction paled in comparison to Shane’s pick though, as Daniel Bryan was introduced as the GM of Smackdown live. The last time Raw was in Providence, Daniel Bryan got one of the best crowd reactions I’ve ever been apart of live, so it’s not a surprise people went bonkers for him last night. As far as the actual picks for GM’s go, I couldn’t love them more. One of the most understated reasons NXT is so great is William Regal. He’s a fair, logical authority figure who enhances the product and has zero ego. As fun as Steph & HHH are at times, they do more to put down talents, whether it be verbally or physically, and let their ego get in the way of enhancing the show. With Foley and DB, WWE now has two authority figures who fans already have an invested relationship with, and who can relate to the wrestlers in a way that will make for compelling television. If the writing teams can get their acts together, this brand split could be one of the best things WWE has done in a long time. Smackdown Live should be must see TV, and I can’t wait to see who ends up where.
Last night was rough. After Daniel Bryan tweeted earlier in the day that he’d be retiring on last night’s Raw, it was tough to comprehend what was happening. Bryan has been out of action for months with concussion issues, but in the crazy world of the WWE, you never really knew what to believe. There was always the false hope it was a ‘work’, similar to the time Mark Henry ‘retired’ in his home state only to body slam John Cena and keep on trucking. But as the night went on and the tributes poured in, it was becoming more and more clear that this was really the end for Daniel Bryan. As a few people put it on Twitter, losing a wrestler, whether it be via retirement or death, is especially painful because of the universe they inhabit. Think of any other athlete you root for. At some point or another, their season ends and you lose them during the offseason. You can’t root for them, you can’t see them play, and in a weird way that makes it a little easier when they’re gone for good. In wrestling, there is no offseason. You watch a guy like Daniel Bryan, day in and day out, and he becomes ‘your guy’. He never leaves though, because the WWE is a 24/7/365 type of company, so you never get the chance to miss him. Even when he got hurt, like after WrestleMania 30, he came back, cut a passionate promo and then won the IC title at WrestleMania 31. Why would we expect anything else to happen this time? As sad as it is to lose a wrestler to retirement, I’m very happy that Raw ended with Daniel Bryan in the ring, kissing his wife, looking healthy, instead of a 10 bell salute at the beginning of Raw because he died too soon. That may seem like an extreme counter situation, but that’s what happens to wrestlers, especially ones that don’t take of themselves. Maybe Daniel Bryan takes a non physical General Manager role, or maybe he rides off into the sunset and we never see him again. Either way, I’m grateful we had any time with him at all.
The first Raw after WrestleMania is always one of WWE’s best shows, and while we didn’t get any major surprises like year’s past, there was still enough solid wrestling and returns/debuts to keep us satisfied. A few NXT superstars made a big impact, and a returning Irishman put his boot back to work. Let’s get to it!
1. Brock Lesnar is the best wrestler going right now
If you missed WrestleMania last night, you missed one of, if not the hardest hitting main event in the show’s history. Lesnar took on Roman Reigns, and they literally beat the shit out of each other. For most of the match, Lesnar suplex, clotheslined and F-5’d Reigns like he was playing with a toddler. Reigns mounted a comeback, but just as the tide was turning, Seth Rollins snuck in and stole the WWE Championship from both of them, leaving WrestleMania as the new champion. Needless to say, Brock Lesnar was not happy. He came out to start Raw still in his wrestling gear, and Heyman announced he would like his rematch right now. Seth Rollins initially agreed, then backed out, and Lesnar snapped. The reason Lesnar is the best wrestler going right now is because he is the most believable guy in the ring at all times. Back in the day the monster heels used to legitimately scare audiences because even though they thought it the show itself was fake, THIS guy was real. That’s how I feel about Lesnar, which is something I never thought I’d say about a guy in 2015. Even guys like Kane and Big Show, who are larger than life, don’t put the fear of God in me when they get all bug eyed like Lesnar does. Brock just wrecked any living creature that was on his side of the barricade, including F-5ing Michael Cole right out of his loafers. They needed to write Lesnar off TV until his next appearance, and now that he’s clearly over with the fans, this is better than the usual “I’m a prize fighter” excuse. In the interest of my affection for this beast, I hope he’s not away for long.
2. The Intercontinental Championship
It hasn’t even been 48 hours, but the IC and US titles already feel important again. It’s amazing what happens when you give the belts to two established guys and let them have enough time in the ring to have great matches. That’s what the mid card used to be about. Before HBK and Bret Hart were in the main event, they were having the best matches on the card as tag teams or mid card champions while guys like Hogan and Warrior were holding down the main event. Then when HBK and Bret made it to the main event, guys like HHH and the Rock took over the mid card roles. WWE lost it’s way somewhere along the journey, but a Ziggler/Bryan feud is the spark that could reignite the division. As silly as he looked, it was good to see Sheamus back as a heel, which is where he belongs. Bryan defending against Sheamus, Ziggler and a motivated Barrett not only makes for great matches, but they’re all talented enough to create great storylines as well. And please for the love of God be careful with Daniel Bryan’s precious neck.
If you’ve watched NXT, you know that Kalisto is at his worst a poor man’s Rey Mysterio and at his best an actual Rey Mysterio. He tags with the new Sin Cara and like most Lucha Libre wrestlers they rely on high flying moves and the selling abilities of their opponents. Most of the time they’re good, but they do have some stinker matches in them as well. Last night, Kalisto was ON. He was flying around the ring, and everyone from Cesaro to Viktor was selling their ass off for him. The crowd was eating it up, too. The post Mania crowds are great, but sometimes they can get a little carried away, which is what happened in the main event. There’s never a need for a crowd to chant ‘we are awesome’. Watch the show and chant all you want, but as someone watching on TV, that chant’s a little much. Anyway, the crowd was great for this match, and I’m glad Kalisto got the pin but didn’t beat either of the tag team champs. A Lucha Dragons/Swinging Cats feud is definitely something I could get on board with.
4. The United States Championship
I can pretty much copy and paste what I wrote about the IC title and put it here, because it’s pretty much the same, glorious thing. If John Cena turns into a mid card super worker and elevates the US title I will forgive a lot of things he’s done in the past. This SHOULD lead to a new and improved Rusev eventually beating Cena, but for now, I want Cena having matches like last night’s match with Ambrose. Cena’s reputation automatically makes it believable when he beats guys like Ambrose, but it’s much more effective when they have a match like this and both guys end up looking great. Ambrose doesn’t really have any knockout blows, so he’s stuck trading punches and secondary moves with a guy like Cena, and that’s a battle Cena is going to win every time. Ambrose is a little nuts, which helps him kick out of the AA and power out of the STF, but ultimately he just doesn’t have enough in the tank to win. This is how guys SHOULD be fighting over a title, and I hope Cena becomes a fighting champion, because there are guys like Ambrose, Harper and possibly Neville waiting for a shot.
5. The Divas
Their match was a little short at Mania, but it seemed like AJ, Paige and the Bella’s were really enjoying themselves out there, and same goes for last night. They were given more time and a few additions in Natalya and Naomi, and they put on a solid match. I liked the story, too, as the tease pre-Mania was AJ and Paige fighting, but now it looks like the Bella’s are no longer on the same page. As good as the Bella’s are as heels, it is time for them to split again. Nikki especially has grown into her own character, and she could benefit from a run with the title without the assistance of her sister. The Diva’s as a whole seem like their enjoying themselves more out there, and there’s a noticeable difference in the in ring product. The Give Diva’s a Chance hash tag should help the Diva’s, and it goes beyond just giving them more time in the ring. The storylines should be more wrestling centric, and the announce team should treat their matches as seriously as any other match on the card. If not, get Brock Lesnar back out there and have him take out the announce team again.
Well, the day is finally upon us. WrestleMania 31 is this Sunday from Levi’s Stadium in California, and we have four hours of wrestling/sports entertainment to look forward to. Kings vs. Icons, Beasts vs. Juggernauts, Adam Rose and Zack Ryder in a Battle Royal; WrestleMania 31 pretty much has something for everyone. Like I’ve been doing before every pay per view, I’ll be previewing each match on the Mania card then giving my expert* opinion on who I think will win. Let’s get to it!
Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro/Kidd (C) vs. Los Matadores vs. New Day vs. The Usos
Preview: Cesaro and Kidd have been the lone bright spot on the tag team scene recently, but it’s clear WWE thinks of the division as a wasteland of sorts. Los Matadores and The New Day spent the last few months losing to everyone under the sun, but are in a tag team title match at WrestleMania because…? I really can’t answer that question, and as bad as Los Matadores and New Day have been, The Uso’s aren’t that much better. You can’t have a solid tag team division with one good team, so unless the WWE revamps it’s current teams or inserts new ones, the tag team matches will be relegated to the pre show match on pay per views for the foreseeable future. In a perfect world the bell would ring and Natalya would power bomb El Torito through a table, then Cesaro and Kidd would massacre all three teams with a combination of swings, dropkicks and uppercuts. While that probably won’t happen, Cesaro and Kidd are the only hope of a tag team renaissance, so I’m going with them.
Prediction: Kidd & Cesaro, maybe pinning the other six guys at the same time. The only benefit of having a shitty tag team division is that it’s impossible for anyone to look worse by taking a loss in this match.
AJ Lee & Paige vs. Nikki & Brie Bella
Preview: Paige and Nikki Bella had the match of the night on Raw (don’t adjust your computer screens, you read that correctly) and I was hoping the teased tension between AJ and Paige would lead to a Divas Title match at Mania instead of the tag team bout, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. Ever since Give Diva’s A Chance started trending, it was clear that the WWE would be making the Diva’s division a priority, similar to how they are portrayed in NXT. It’s jarring sometimes to remember that NXT and WWE are pretty much the same company, and its sad that it took a worldwide hash tag for the higher ups to realize that women’s wrestling should be an important part of their show. This match is pretty much a battle of the internet’s darlings vs. WWE’s vision of women wrestlers. The Bella’s are pretty much models that have been trained to wrestle, while AJ and Paige are wrestling first Diva’s who most of the audience can get behind because the genuinely love what they do. While the Bella’s have made great strides (Nikki especially) in the last half year or so, they’ll never get the smart fans support over a Paige or AJ.
Prediction: I think AJ and Paige will continue to bicker which leads to a Bella’s WrestleMania win, and most likely a triple threat title scenario post Mania depending on NXT call ups.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Preview: While last year’s Battle Royal became a welcome surprise with Cesaro’s impressive win, this year’s build was lacking in a lot of ways. The only storylines going into the match is the tension between Miz and Mizdow and the Twitter feud between Adam Rose and Zack Ryder. The rest of the match is filled up by teams who didn’t make it into the tag team pre show match and big guys that WWE loves to use in Battle Royal scenarios like Ryback, Mark Henry, Big Show and Kane. WWE also hurt themselves by not pushing the winner of last year’s match, thus making it seem like nothing really changes if you win the Battle Royal. If Cesaro had been pushed and made into an important player following his win, then the winner of this match would be looking forward to something more than just a trophy. It’ll be interesting to see which NXT star gets a slot in this match, as whoever wins the battle royal at tonight’s live event will be awarded the spot. My money is on Adrian Neville, and if it is him, I hope they give him a mini showcase because his athleticism is unmatched. Sheamus is definitely returning at Mania, and I think it’s in this match, and that he may appear later in the show as well (hopefully not), so at least we have that to look forward to.
Prediction: Sheamus returns and wins, and hopefully we get some kind of payoff between Miz and Mizdow, which leads to a pay per view match(s) down the line.
Ladder Match For The IC Title: Wade Barrett (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth
Preview: Up until Monday’s Raw, this was the match with the best lead up. I think WWE played all their cards before Monday’s Raw, including the gauntlet match and 6 man tag, so by the time Monday rolled around they didn’t really have anything new to do. With that said, this match seems like its can’t miss. You have seven of the best young guys on the roster with something to prove going for a mid card title that desperately needs validation. You have perennial show stealers in Daniel Bryan and Ziggler, incredibly underrated workhorse Luke Harper, crazy man Dean Ambrose and two solid yet under appreciated guys in Stardust and Barrett. R-Truth is R-Truth, but he’s surrounded by the seven other guys, so I imagine they’ll be able to cover for him. If the WWE is serious about elevating the mid card belts, then Bryan has to win here. Of the guys with an actual chance of winning, he’s the only one who hasn’t had a long reign with a mid card title. Ziggler and Barrett have had the IC belts before and couldn’t elevate, and Ambrose had the US belt FOREVER and couldn’t elevate that. Give the strap to Bryan, and use the next 6 months to a year feuding him with any of the other guys in this match and you’ll have a revitalized IC division.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan, as long as WWE conceals it’s hard on to feud Sheamus with DB and have him cost Bryan the match.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Previw: This is the only match on the card where I’m 100% certain the young up and comer will win against the veteran. With Cena/Rusev, Wyatt/Undertaker and Lesnar/Reigns, it’s not certain if any of the young guys will actually win their match, but I think Rollins does here. Orton already got his revenge on Rollins a few weeks ago with that long brawl to end Raw, but now he wants to ends ‘the future of the WWE’ for good. I just think Rollins has too many weapons at his disposal. He’s a superb wrestler, and all it takes is one distraction from J & J Security or any other member of The Authority and Orton will be eating a curb stomp. Rollins and Orton are pretty evenly matched, and I know this match is going to deliver, and it might not be the last time you see Seth Rollins make an appearance on the show.
Prediction: Rollins wins via some kind of distraction from The Authority.
United States Championship Match: Rusev (C) vs. John Cena
Preview: The internet is just waiting to explode after this match, but the way WWE has set it up, it’s almost impossible for John Cena to lose. I disagree with the build, and the result of their match at Fast Lane, but it’s time to face the facts: John Cena is winning the US title at WrestleMania. Before I get into whether this loss will crush Rusev, let’s look at the positives here. John Cena is not in the main event or the WWE championship picture, which is always a breath of fresh air. If he wins, Cena becomes the US Champ, and he elevates the title more than anyone else has in the recent past. Depending on how good Rusev looks, Cena beats an unbeatable villain, which is pretty much what his character has been about since he won his first title from JBL at WrestleMania 21. Cena got choked out at Fast Lane, choked out on Raw and has let down America while Rusev has continued to stand tall. In the world of pro wrestling, this feud has to culminate with the good guy winning on the biggest stage. Unfortunately for us, the good guy here is John Cena because America and little kids says so. As for Rusev, a loss here to the pretty much unbeatable Cena isn’t the worst thing IF the WWE handles it properly. If Rusev loses, he should destroy everyone in his path post Mania and beat Cena clean somewhere down the road to regain the title. If they handle Rusev like they did Wyatt last year, having him only settle the score with Cena by outside interference and children singing then he’s in trouble. I’ll wait and see what happens with Rusev before I judge this match, but I’d bet my house on Cena leaving Mania with the US title
Prediction: John Cena wins, the American flag is somehow involved and Rusev retreats to the back a broken man.
Sting vs. HHH
Preview: This is one of those weird matches that I can’t wait to see but at the same time don’t care about the outcome. Neither guy at this point in their career is going to be affected by a win or a loss, but it’s still going to be cool to see Sting have his WrestleMania moment. Besides Wyatt and The Undertaker, Sting’s entrance is the one I’m most looking forward to. The WWE is the king of revisionist history, and since they won the Monday Night Wars, what they say happened, happened. Sting was the franchise guy in WCW, but by the time the company was bought out in 2001, the ship had been sinking for a long time. HHH is pretty much the last guy standing from the Attitude Era guys of the mid to late 90s, so it makes sense to have him be the one to confront the outsider Sting. We know HHH can still go, as he had one of his best matches ever last year vs. Daniel Bryan, and from the little we’ve seen of Sting in a WWE ring, it looks like he’ll be just fine Sunday too. I can’t imagine this feud lasts longer than Sunday night, which makes it a little more interesting considering how serious WWE takes itself when it comes to beating WCW.
Prediction: As I said before, the outcome of this match should be an after thought; Sting is getting his WrestleMania moment, which he deserves. I think Sting wins, and HHH continues his losing streak at WrestleMania.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
Preview: First off, holy hell what a promo video by the WWE. Even when they’re at their worst, they are the absolute best at hype videos. Now, onto the match. Win or lose, I think this is the feud that keeps Wyatt in the main event scene for years to come, which is funny because The Undertaker hasn’t even shown up yet. Wyatt has literally carried this feud with his promos, and capped it off Monday night on Raw with one of his best promos ever, seemingly summoning The Undertaker’s supernatural powers and once and for all declaring himself the New Face of Fear. I’ve written about this before, but this is unchartered territory for The Undertaker. He’s never re appeared in the WWE after a WrestleMania loss, so it almost makes this match impossible to predict. It’s anyone guess as to how he’ll look, and even though we’ve seen pictures of him training, it still remains to be seen how much he’ll be able to do in the ring. It says a lot about how the WWE views Wyatt that they’re putting him in a marquee matchup with ‘Taker, and I think this is where Wyatt gets the WrestleMania moment he should have gotten last year. I understand Cena winning this year, as you’ve got the built in storyline of America vs. Russia, and his win could actually do a lot of good for the mid card division, where as last year’s win vs. Wyatt did nothing for him. I think Wyatt becomes the modern day Undertaker, and his coronation ceremony will be Sunday night.
Prediction: The Undertaker passes the torch to Bray Wyatt, and we officially have a new face of fear.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns
Preview: Ever since Brock announced on Sportscenter Tuesday night that he’d be staying with the WWE, I’ve been tossing this match around in my head. If Brock left, Reigns would win, and the WWE would be in a big mess. Reigns is a future star, but I don’t think the future is this Sunday. Now that Brock has re signed and actually come off as a likeable guy, he’s going to be immensely cheered on Sunday, which leaves only a swarm of boos to greet Roman Reigns as he enters from the crowd (or a helicopter, fingers crossed). There’s a few ways this could go down, and I’ll start with the least likely and end with the most likely. Brock eviscerating Reigns a la Cena at Summerslam, continuing to be the most dominant champion in modern history. I can’t see this happening because it wastes the build up of Reigns, and immediately knocks him way down the card. Same goes for Reigns murdering Lesnar. Having him cake walk through your most dominant champion of the modern era will not only make the fans turn on Reigns, but it discredits all those who Lesnar beat as well. Heyman turns on Brock to help Reigns win. As cool as that would be, with Brock sticking around for a few more years, I can’t see Heyman swerving Brock this early into his new contract, but it’s definitely a possibility. Brock wins clean, and Seth Rollins cashes in his MITB briefcase. Rollins has had his briefcase long enough, and unless they’re planning a Ziggler type cash in the next night on Raw, I think he does it Sunday night, which leads me to my prediction for the main event of WrestleMania 31:
Prediction: Reigns takes a beating, but ultimately beats Brock for the WWE Championship. Rollins cashes in and you have the built in feud of former Shield buddy’s duking it out for the world title. The loss sends Brock on a war path and creates new and exciting feuds for the Beast Incarnate. I think Rollins cashes in to end the show, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened to either Brock or Reigns, but for the sake of making a pick, I’m going with Reigns.
Every WrestleMania, our friend creates a special WrestleMania sheet that makes things a little more interesting. The gist of it is everyone puts in $5, and you pick who you think is going to win each match and how that person is going to win. 1 point is awarded for each correct answer, with two possible points available for each match (For the Battle Royal and Ladder match, you get 2 points for picking the winner, since there’s only one way to win). For example, if you pick Sting to win via pinfall, and Sting wins via pinfall, you get two points. At the end of the show you tally up the points and the person with the most points wins the money. If you’d like to play along, you can check out the sheet at this link: http://bit.ly/1EYx3sa
We’ll be tweeting along with all the action this Sunday @averagenobodies. Give us a follow and enjoy the best night of the year.
WWE Fast Lane, much like WWE Takeover: Rival is FREE on the WWE Network. It takes place in Memphis, Tennesee, and besides it’s tacky name, Fast Lane should be a pretty solid pay per view. Four title matches, a brother vs. brother grudge match and the #1 contender match for Brock Lesnar’s World Championship round out what should an all around well wrestled event. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Goldust vs. Stardust
The long awaited breakup of Goldust and Stardust finally hit a boiling point on Raw, with Stardust attacking Goldust and a match between the two made official on Smackdown. Stardust will go over in the end, as he will continue to be a main roster stalwart for years to come while Goldust is winding down his in ring career. The only question here is whether this feud will get the WrestleMania blow off it deserves or will it be a one and done deal. I try to stay optimistic when it comes to the WWE, even though most of their decision making makes it hard to feel that way. We still haven’t really seen anything from Goldust that would indicate he wants to have this match or engage in anything physical with his brother, but if the match is scheduled, I have to imagine we’re going to see something.
Prediction: Stardust beats down Goldust, who wins by DQ. This would set up the actual grudge match with a month full of buildup with two of the most talented and underutilized guys on the roster getting their chance to shine. Or Stardust wins and fights Adam Rose for the next 25 years.
Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane vs. Ryback, Erick Rowan & Dolph Ziggler
Thank God we have the Big Show and Kane on the Fast Lane card! I think a general rule of thumb should be that if a match isn’t announced by Smackdown, then it shouldn’t be on the pay per view card. I know they vaguely set this up on Monday and Smackdown and weeks prior with Ryback and Rowan helping Dolph against Big Show, Kane and Rollins, but couldn’t we have just set up a Rollins/Ziggler match and called it a day? We already know that whichever team wins this match gains nothing, and whoever loses this match loses nothing, so maybe they’ll just go out and have a fun 6 man tag?
Prediction: Big Show and Kane simultaneously pin Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan and declare themselves co #1 contenders for the WWE Championship while the announcers, fans and every wrestler in the back collectively light themselves on fire.
Divas Championship Match – Nikki Bella (C) vs. Paige
This feud has been a tale of in the ring superiority vs. outside the ring shenanigans. Paige has dominated the build up with wins over multiple Divas, including Nikki’s sister Brie, while Nikki has won in the shenanigans department with stunts like stealing Paige’s ring gear. Ideally, the winner of this match would go on to have story lines that aren’t dictated by a reality show and that equates to matches similar to what the ladies down in NXT are doing, but that seems like it’s too much to ask of the current WWE writing staff. I still think a Nikki vs. Brie match should be on the Mania card, while Paige leads the new school of Divas as their champion.
Prediction: Paige wins, and we get NXT Paige, or at least a tiny bit of NXT Paige, as the Divas champion who has good to great matches with everyone on the Divas roster. Or Nikki wins with a tit slap or ass grab or something demeaning.
Intercontinental Championship Match – Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose
Fresh off his non title loss to R F#*king Truth on Smack down, Bad News Barrett is defending his title against everyone’s wacky pal Dean Ambrose. Is that how far the IC division has fallen? The champion is losing a non title match to a guy who mumbles through his entrance music 3 days before a major pay per view during WrestleMania season? Alrighty then. Unless the WWE drastically changes their booking for the IC champs, this match doesn’t matter at all, which is a sin, because BNB and Ambrose are not only the future of the company, but are two very talented performers. If the past is any indicator, Barrett will win Sunday and lose every non title match up until WrestleMania, where he’ll beat whoever challenges him for the title next. Although Ambrose has been winning lately, his goofy persona needs to go. I don’t know if anyone in the WWE has heard of YouTube, but they should search Jon Moxley and go from there. Dean Ambrose is not going to be the next kid friendly, wacky punch line spewing superstar. He is a deranged assassin who will take you out and never quit.
Prediction: Barrett retains. I can see a few titles changing hands at Fast Lane, but I don’t think the IC belt is one of the them. It would also be horrible story telling if the guy who zip tied the champion’s hands to the ring post to get him to sign on for this match 6 days before the pay per view won. Also, I like Ambrose too much to have him be a permanent loser as IC champ.
Tag Team Championship Match – The Uso’s (C) vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
It kills me a little inside every time I have to write a preview blog for a WWE pay per view with the Uso’s as the tag team champions. It’s not that I don’t like them; they’re a good enough team that the crowd has kind of gotten behind, so kudos to them. My problem with The Uso’s is that from the time they got pushed to the top of the tag division to today they have not evolved one bit. They haven’t introduced new moves, they haven’t changed the way they win matches, they haven’t ever given an interesting promo and they even do the same entrance every. single. time. They slap their thighs, jump over the ropes, scream something resembling words and continue to get rewarded. Then you have Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, two super talented guys thrown together with zero build who have become the most interesting tag team in the company. They work together incredibly well, and they have a good to great match with every team they’re put in the ring with. And they’re responsible for wonderful GIFS like the one I included above. My only concern with this match is how involved Naomi and Natalya have been. The last thing that needs to happen here is for Natalya to cause Kidd & Cesaro to lose. There are a lot of things this world needs. The Uso’s remaining Tag Team Champs is not one of them.
Prediction: Swing into a dropkick. Uppercut into sharpshooter. Rope assisted kick into a Neutralizer. Any of those combinations works for me as long as Kidd & Cesaro win and become your new Tag Team Champions.
HHH & Sting Meet Face to Face
I’ve been a huge fan of this feud ever since it started at Survivor Series, and I look for it to continue to be great at Fast Lane. I’m torn on whether or not I want it to get physical yet, but I’m leaning towards no physicality. After Fast Lane, you still have 5 Raw’s to promote this match, and if the physicality is already wasted at Fast Lane, meaning one guy gets the upper hand over the other, I think it’ll detract from the build up. The WWE has waited 15 years to get Sting in their ring, so there’s no need to rush forward with it. As I stated in my Raw recap, HHH and the WWE production team have done a great job with this build up, as it can’t be easy hyping a two man battle when one of the guys is never there. Sting is one of those rare guys the WWE has brought in who has such an incredible reputation and history, that pretty much anything they do with him will work. Personally, I’m hoping for a few rafter spotlight shots to psyche out HHH. Never rule out the effectiveness of nostalgia.
United States Championship Match – Rusev (C) vs. John Cena
John Cena has to win this match. OK, glad I got that out of my system. With that said, I love Rusev. He’s been built up impeccably, and he has a severely underrated manager in Lana who also happens to be very easy to look at while she’s delivering promos for her champion. I love characters that speak broken English, because when they deliver the parts of their promos in English, it doesn’t have to make sense. Rusev saying he’s going to “crush you” or “rip your spirit out” doesn’t have to be delivered with the delicacy of someone who only speaks English, thus his promos are not dissected the same, which is a very good thing. My only problem with the Rusev character is that he’s “undefeated”. First of all, he’s not undefeated. He’s lost via count out and DQ. He got eliminated from the Survivor Series match by count out, too. Secondly, being undefeated is an impossible thing to maintain. Unless you’re Andre The Giant, you’re not going to go undefeated for your entire career, and even he lost eventually. Instead of this match being about two guys who don’t like each other, or two guys fighting over a title, it’s about Rusev being undefeated and Cena being the guy to finally beat him. Which he should. Let me explain: Rusev and Cena are going to fight at WrestleMania, which means there are two scenarios for Fast Lane. Scenario 1 has Rusev beating Cena, then Cena no selling it for 5 weeks and beating Rusev for the US title at Mania, making it the second year in a row John Cena has completely deflated a future main eventer. Scenario 2 has John Cena beat Rusev at Fast Lane, bring some importance to the US Title it hasn’t had since the NWA, then have Rusev get his revenge and beat Cena at WrestleMania, the pay per view where you build stars for the future, not kill them.
Prediction: John Cena is your new US Champion, and the world needs to be OK with that.
#1 Contender For The WWE Championship – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
I have a sneaky suspicion that the winner of this match won’t really matter, but for the sake of previewing, let’s pretend it does. If this match is going to have a decisive winner, then I have a very strong opinion of who it should be. Roman Reigns is stronger and more powerful than Daniel Bryan, but Daniel Bryan is quicker and more experienced than Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan won the title at last years WrestleMania, but was stripped of the title due to injury. Roman Reigns won this year’s Royal Rumble, which should have guaranteed him a main event title shot at WrestleMania, but that was taken away from him because Vince McMahon can’t stick to a decision. Wherever one man has the upper hand, the other makes up for it in another way. The way I’m looking at it is who would I want to see face Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania 31, and that answer is very easy: Daniel Bryan. Comparing a Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar match to a Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar match isn’t really fair to Roman, but that’s the position the WWE has put us in. What fan over the age of 8 or 9 is really pulling for Reigns here? And I like Reigns, too. He was rightfully criticized for his promo work over the last few months, but you’re talking about a guy with the combined singles career of about 9 months. Show me a WWE guy who was a perfect interview and an elite ring technician in that amount of time. Still waiting. Got nobody? Alrighty then. Reigns will be a star, and if he continues performing like he did Monday night, it’ll be sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for him, he’s going up against the best on Sunday night, and Daniel Bryan will not be denied.
Prediction: I still think it’s going to be a triple threat between Bryan, Reigns and Lesnar at Mania, but in the interest of choosing a winner, I say it’ll be Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. Oh happy day.
As always, we’ll be live tweeting the show, so give us a follow @averagenobodies. Or don’t, but just know that you brought the voodoo of Papa Shango on yourself.
The 2015 Royal Rumble is live on the WWE Network this Sunday in Philadelphia. As evidenced by Monday’s Raw in Dallas, a show is always better with a hot crowd, and Philly has always been known to bring their A game for big time shows. The Rumble is a unique pay per view, because it usually has two main events, and this Rumble is no different. This year’s event is headlined by a triple threat match for the WWE Championship and the Royal Rumble match itself. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Pre-Show: Tyson Kidd, Cesaro & Adam Rose vs. The New Day
I’ve never had such a ‘heart vs. brain’ debate for a pre show match like I do with this one. Like the rest of the WWE universe, I’m going to pretend Adam Rose doesn’t exist, but my heart is pulling for Kidd and Cesaro. There is no logical reason for them to win: they are two super talented guys thrown together as a tag team making the best of their situation, even though they’re paired up with a grown man who just got out of a feud with a bunny. The New Day just isn’t working as a hand clapping, sing along, matching outfit trio, but that doesn’t mean with a little tweak it can’t be effective. I’m just not the kind of guy who’s going to root against Kidd and Cesaro.
Prediction: The New Day, because we can’t have nice things.
Paige & Natalya vs. The Bella Twins
I’m glad that this is a tag match, because with the two main events most likely eclipsing 90 minutes of ring time, there wouldn’t be enough room on the card for two divas matches. Nikki Bella is the Divas champion, but Paige arguably has the most momentum going into this match, and at some point the Bella’s will be splitting up again. No time like the present.
Prediction: Paige and Natalya, with Paige pinning or submitting Brie Bella.
The Ascension vs. The New Age Outlaws
I loved this segment from Monday’s Raw. The Ascension have been coming out for weeks and disrespecting classic tag teams, so when you have three of those tag teams in the same building, why not have them get a little revenge. I read a few Raw reviews that didn’t like this because The Ascension are young and The Outlaws are old, but here’s what happened: Ascension were outnumbered 7-2, they didn’t back down, and they got beat up a little by a team who were tag champs just last year. Now they get a two on two fight at the Royal Rumble and have a chance to beat an established tag team. Who else on the current roster could give The Ascension the ‘rub’ that the Outlaws can? WWE has messed up their tag division so bad that their aren’t any good teams for The Ascension to beat and look important.
Prediction: The Ascension. If the Outlaws win, disregard that last paragraph and the WWE are idiots.
Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (C) vs. The Miz & Mizdow
This feud could end at the Rumble or literally last forever. Either one wouldn’t surprise me. One of the Usos pinned Miz clean rather easily on Raw, and Miz and Mizdow teased some strife on Smackdown, so perhaps the Usos will retain and my long nightmare of the Usos as a tag team will continue. I would love to see Mizdow’s fake tag titles return, but I just don’t see it happening here. See above for how bad the WWE tag team division is, so even if Miz and Mizdow lose, I’m not sure who’s up next as #1 contenders. All I know is I’d rather set myself on fire than watch an Usos/New Day feud.
Prediction: The Usos retain, and we all die a little inside.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
Thank the good Lord that HHH put Seth Rollins in this match, because I don’t know if I’d be able to watch the third John Cena/Brock Lesnar match since August. This match could go a few ways. Firstly, John Cena is in the match. so there’s always that 99% chance that he’s going to win, especially with WrestleMania coming up. Secondly, you have Brock Lesnar, who we know is under contract until WrestleMania, and who is coming off his most dominant performance since Summerslam on Monday’s Raw. Third, you have the wildcard, Seth Rollins. I think Cena’s chances of winning, and the result of the Rumble match, hinge on WWE’s plans for Rusev. If Cena is next in line to face Rusev, then he probably doesn’t win here. Same goes for Daniel Bryan’s chances of winning the Rumble. If Bryan is up next for Rusev, then he probably doesn’t win the Rumble. Of all the three in this match, Cena, as always, has the best chance of winning. The theory of Brock retaining makes a lot of sense due to his contract status. Why keep Lesnar around for the next 2+ months unless you have him as your champion? Although he doesn’t appear on WWE TV as often as Cena or Rollins, his performance on Monday night gives him an incredible wave of momentum going into the Rumble. And then there’s the wildcard, Seth Rollins. I don’t think Rollins wins this match outright, but with that MITB briefcase in his possession, he could cash in after the match is over. Not to be overlooked is Paul Heyman, who many feel could switch allegiances and side with Rollins either before or after Lesnar’s WWE run is over.
Prediction: Brock retains, pinning Cena. Rollins cashes in on Brock, setting up a potential 3 or 4 way match at WrestleMania with the winner of the Rumble and possibly Cena. I can’t see Cena not being involved in back to back WrestleMania’s without being in the main event of either.
The Royal Rumble Match
This is a three or four horse race, so I’ll go over a few things I’m looking forward to and then break down who I think has the best chance of winning.
- Damien Mizdow eliminating himself (or not) after The Miz is eliminated. Mizdow has turned this throw away character into gold, and there aren’t many more ways he can imitate The Miz. I can easily picture a scenario in the Rumble where Miz is eliminated and Mizdow toys with the crowd and asks them what he should do, before eventually getting thrown out by someone else. This continues the dissension storyline and puts Mizdow over even more.
- Bray Wyatt’s entrance. A lot of the internet seems to have given up on Wyatt, but not me. He’s still young, he’s still unique and he’s finally on some kind of winning streak. While his momentum has wavered in the past, his “fireflies’ entrance has always been awesome. I’m expecting him to be #1 or #2 so we can get the full entrance.
- Kofi’s Rumble elimination spot. He’s not announced as an official participant yet, but he better be in the Rumble. Why else is he on the god damn roster except to find creative ways to avoid elimination and then get immediately eliminated? Don’t crush my dreams, WWE.
- The surprise entrants. I’m hoping they’re limited to 1 or 2, but a couple surprise entrants always makes the Rumble more fun. Orton? Bo Dallas? DDP? Sheamus? RVD? Ok, maybe more than one or two are ok.
I think the top four guys who have the best shot at winning are Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose & Randy Orton (if he returns). Reigns is most likely the favorite, but as I stated above, I think Daniel Bryan wins unless his next feud is with Rusev. If the WWE wants to do Rusev/Bryan at WrestleMania, he’s not winning, so if you’re a Daniel Bryan fan, hope WWE decides to go with Cena for Rusev’s next feud. Ambrose needs some momentum, and if Rollins somehow steals a win in the title match, any kind of reincarnation of the Ambrose/Rollins feud is ok in my book. If Orton returns, he’s returning to the main event scene, so you can’t rule him out, but he’s probably the least likely of the four.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan. The only way to top last year is to win the Rumble and beat all the top guys in the main event at WrestleMania. I think Bryan starts his redemption story Sunday night.
What an emotional roller coaster last night was. First, Bryan tweeted that he had come to a crossroads and was going to make an announcement on Raw. Naturally people jumped to the ‘he’s going to retire’ conclusion, since he’s been out for months and no one really knows what’s wrong with him. Then WWE opened Raw with Edge’s retirement speech, signifying maybe someone else was going to make a similar speech and leave us way, way too early. When Bryan came out for the next to last segment, I had some hope that he wouldn’t be announcing his retirement. When the time comes for him to truly hang up his wrestling boots, I hope WWE gives him the final segment, as he’s earned it. Bryan’s promo was from the heart, and he seemed to legitimately tear up talking about the passing of his father, but all our worries melted away when Bryan finished his promo by announcing that he would be entering the 2015 Royal Rumble. To say this is huge news would be understatement. Bryan’s rise to the top of the WWE food chain was a true grass roots movement created by the performer and his fans, and when he was on his game, WWE was always must see TV. I think some people might be worried about Bryan returning, since we still don’t really know how well is recovering, but WWE has been extremely patient with Bryan up to this point, and there’s no reason to think they’d rush him back if he wasn’t ready. The Royal Rumble is already one of the most exciting nights of the WWE year, but with Daniel Bryan now officially returning as an entrant, it just got so much better. YES!