The Raw brand had their final stop on the road to WrestleMania last night. WWE Elimination Chamber was a really enjoyable show featuring both a men’s and women’s chamber match. Alexa Bliss successfully defended the Women’s championship while Roman Reigns outlasted Braun Strowman to become the #1 contender for the Universal title. We predicted both of those things. My favorite part of the show wasn’t a match, though. It was Ronda Rousey being a bad ass.
Ronda Rousey Contract Signing
Kurt Angle, HHH and Stephanie McMahon were all in the ring to welcome Rousey aboard. After a Rousey promo, business immediately picked up. Kurt Angle was ushered out of the ring, Rousey and Steph went to nose nose, HHH was thrown through a table and Stephanie slapped the hell out of Rousey. The crowd loved it, because Rousey should always be kicking ass instead of cutting promos. I enjoyed it for that reason, as well as WWE remembering their history. Rousey, Steph, HHH and The Rock had an altercation at WrestleMania 31. There’s obviously still some unfinished business there, and I’m glad WWE is keeping that story line going. Also, it’s a smart move to have Rousey work with Steph and HHH instead of immediately inserting her into the women’s title picture. You want the crowd to be on Rousey’s side, and it’d be too easy for them to turn on her if she’s forced into something.
This was a great ‘official’ introduction for Rousey, and perfectly planted the seeds for a mixed tag WrestleMania match. Kurt Angle is the most likely partner for Rousey, which should be a lot of fun.
Survivor Series is the second longest running WWE pay per view behind WrestleMania, and the 31st annual show will take place this Sunday in Houston. Survivor Series brings together a lot of different pro wrestling elements, from the 5 on 5 traditional Survivor Series matches to dream matches like last year’s Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar bout.
With a history spanning 30+ years, there are bound to be at least a few memorable matches, and that’s where the Average Nobodies come in. We each named our favorite Survivor Series match of all time below, along with a little blurb about why we loved it so much. Enjoy!
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Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart
When it comes to rivalries within WWE/F, especially in the mid 90s, there are few better than Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart. The crown jewel of that feud is inarguably their submission match at WrestleMania 13, but if you’re looking for an almost perfect wrestling match with a great story that also motivates both guys moving forward, their match at Survivor Series ’96 should be your jam. Austin and Hart had a pretty chaotic feud, as this was the beginning of Austin’s “Texas Rattlesnake” character, but oddly enough, this was the first televised singles match between the two.
This match really kick started their feud, and launched one of the best angles of the 90s, especially when you factor in their match at WM13. The Survivor Series match was a technical masterpiece and featured a tremendous ending, with Hart outsmarting Austin by using the turnbuckle as leverage and pinning Austin while still in a submission hold. The ending visual of Austin giving Bret the death stare while disappearing up the ramp is as good as wrestling storytelling gets.
The Shield’s Debut
My favorite Survivor Series match isn’t a match at all, it’s a moment and the ripple effect that moment would would have on the WWE from then on. The debut of The Shield during the triple threat between CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback at the 2012 Survivor Series PPV is arguably the greatest debut in the history of the WWE. Three guys who would later become, and stay, THE marquee guys in the company. Even with The Shield stealing the show (although it might not have seen like it at the time) this match isn’t something to sweep under the rug. Cena and Punk were magic in the ring and Ryback got put out of commission by the fabled triple power bomb!
What more could you ask for?
And Now Here’s HHH Beating The Ever Loving Shit Out Of A Fan During A House In Germany In The Late 90’s
There’s really only one rule when you’re attending a wrestling show: don’t get in the ring. You can tell guys to go F themselves, bring your sign, drink beer and just be a general asshole if you want to, but don’t jump the barricade and get in the ring. This German fan learned that the hard way when he ran in the ring following a Stone Cold/HHH match at a house show in the 90’s. This video was recently uploaded to YouTube and it’s great, because the fan gets the shit beat out of him by both HHH and referee Mike Chioda. HHH starts him off with a suplex and then just pounds away from there until security leisurely makes their way into the ring to take the guy away. Lesson here kids: wrestling may be fake, but these guy’s are enormous and they will end you.
— WWE (@WWE) May 17, 2016
My favorite thing NXT does is that they go above and beyond expectations. Samoa Joe is fighting Finn Balor for the NXT Title at the next TakeOver special on June 8th. I’m sold. These guys are amazing in the ring together, and you just know they’re going to put on a great main event. Per usual, HHH and NXT one up themselves and make the match a steel cage match, the first time any NXT superstars have faced off in a cage. The only question that remains is will The Demon show up, and if he does, will he win? I’m a firm believer that Finn should not lose as The Demon in NXT (or ever) but at the same time, how much longer can you keep him down there? He really should debut on the main roster this summer, so how do you work around this? I don’t know the answer, but I do know I’m somehow more excited for this special than I was when I woke up this morning.
Before we get into it, how amazing does that set look? I can’t wait to see the finished product. WrestleMania 32 is live this Sunday from Dallas, Texas. If you need more hype than that for WrestleMania, you’re in the wrong place. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
This one is kind of a toss up. You’d think if WWE was serious about Braun Strowman, they’d give him a ‘WrestleMania’ moment without having him actually have to wrestle a match. That moment should be right here. Big Show has already won it, and the rest of the guys in this match are literal throw away characters. There are reports of Cesaro returning and entering the battle royal, but he already won the inaugural one, and if Cesaro is coming back. they should put him in a more important spot than a pre-show battle royal.
Prediction: Braun Strowman eliminates everyone and wins.
Natalya, Paige, Brie, Alicia, Eva vs. Lana, Naomi, Tamina, Summer, Emma
The only two people I care about in this match are Paige and Evil Emma. I’d much rather them have had a weeks long feud that ended in a one on one match at WM, but I also understand that you want to get as many people on the card as you can. I have to assume Team Total Divas wins here, because they’re the only team with a team name. As long as Evil Emma gets some good spots, I’ll be happy with either outcome.
Prediction: Team Total Divas
The Dudley Boyz vs. The Uso’s
Give me a flaming table. That’s all I’m asking for in this match. No one has to go through it, but I want it and I need it. Heel Dudley Boyz are far and way the best Dudley Boyz, and they are really only here to put over other tag teams, which is fine. Bubba Ray and Devon helped revolutionize the tag team division 15 years ago at WM17, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to give them some cool spots this year. Regardless of the outcome of this match, Enzo & Cass are showing up on Raw Monday night and taking over.
The League of Nations vs. The New Day
If you need visual proof that the WWE tag team scene is awful, look no further than the fact that the tag titles aren’t being defended at WM. Thankfully we’re still getting our New Day fix, even though it is against the League of Nations. Personally, I think this would be a perfect spot for The Rock. You want New Day to get over as good guys, so why not bring out the most popular guy in the world and have him even the odds? Chances are Rocky will come up and cut a promo, but this would be a fun and unexpected cameo that would help New Day immensely. League of Nations are bad, and I refuse to pick them to win either way.
Prediction: New. Day Rocks.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
If you can ignore the fact that this feud has been centered around crowd chants, it’s been pretty entertaining. Much like the Dudleyz, Heel Jericho is forever the best Jericho, and he’s been great during his most recent run. Pairing Styles with a veteran like Jericho for his first WM feud and singles match is very smart, and I fully expect these two to put on a show. I think Styles goes over, and has his first big time WM moment with a Styles Clash win.
Prediction: AJ Styles
US Championship Match: Kalisto (C) vs. Ryback
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been digging the simplicity of this feud. Ryback is enormous. Kalisto is not. Kalisto is champion. Ryback is not. And just like that, you have a David & Goliath feud with the good guy champion and the logical heel. The only thing that really makes Ryback a heel is that he wants to beats up the guy we’re rooting for. He has every right to win matches and become the #1 contender, but we like Kalisto better so Ryback is a jerk. It’s refreshing to see WWE build up a feud without having the two competitors wrestle each other every week to see who will eventually win a wrestling match. Also, the less Ryback speaks the better off we all are. As far as the outcome, this one could really go either way, but if they’re serious about Ryback again, they should give him this win.
IC Championship Ladder Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, The Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder
Picture this: five guys are laid out on the floor, the two remaining guys are slowly ascending up the ladder. They both reach the top at the same time and start trading punches. Who are you picturing? Zack Ryder & Sin Cara, right? HAHAHA. Sorry, I had to do that. But yeah, the only two guys who matter in this match are Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and if you think otherwise you’re wrong. Much like last year, this match does include seven very talented guys who are all looking to have their WM moment, so I expect some crazy stuff to go down, especially since they know Shane/Taker is going to be insane. I don’t see any other outcome than having the last two standing be Zayn and Owens, and from there I’m happy with any outcome, because these two will be feuding until they’re 100 years old.
Prediction: Kevin Owens. KO Mania lives!
Diva’s Championship Match: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks
This is the match I’m the most excited for. The three main events will all be wonderful, but I started really getting into NXT during the Paige/Emma/Charlotte/Becky/Sasha/Bayley era and I feel emotionally invested in all three of these women. I’ve seen them start as NXT Divas and transform into the cream of the crop not only in NXT, but throughout the world. Now they’re in a Diva’s title match at WrestleMania and have a chance to tear the house down in front of 90,000 people. That’s pretty surreal. As much as I like Charlotte and Becky, this is Sasha’s time. They’re supposedly debuting the Women’s title on Raw the night after Mania, and there is no better pick than Sasha to be the champion. She is the rare combination of the most over female on the roster and also the best wrestler. Have Ric Flair interfere only to be taken out by Snoop Dogg. GIVE THAT TO ME, WWE.
Prediction: Sasha Banks
Street Fight: Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose
Just typing ‘street fight’ followed by ‘Brock Lesnar’ makes me nervous. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this match, but I know it’s going to be brutal. I honestly think the right call is having Lesnar win, and having Ambrose get stretchered out only to walk out under his own power. Give him all the crazy spots in the world, but one mortal man should not be able to defeat Brock Lesnar. Ambrose is going to come with his wagon of weapons, which I’d bet my life on Brock Lesnar picking up and heaving at him at one point during the match. This should be a spotlight for Ambrose, who has been a shining star during this insane stretch of injuries, but I don’t see him beating Lesnar. Between this and Shane/Taker, I really hope no one gets seriously hurt.
Prediction: Brock Lesnar
Hell in a Cell Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
This is hands down the oddest match on the card, and if you told me 10 years ago that WM 32 would be semi main evented by The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon I’d say I like you, but you’re crazy. But here we are, and to be honest, I am scared. Shane McMahon gave The Undertaker a flying elbow drop through a table during the opening segment of RAW, so what the hell are these two going to do at WrestleMania? I sincerely think Shane is jumping off the cell. I won’t be mad if he doesn’t, because that is very dangerous, but he’s jumping off something really high that’s going to make me watch through a hand over my eyes. Besides the insane spots, I want this to be like HHH vs. Sting last year. There’s no reason to make these two carry a 25 minute one on one match. Get the Mean Street Posse out there. Give me Stone Cold, HBK, Vince, Mick Foley. Let’s just go bananas. This is going to be as fun as it will be scary, and I cannot god damn wait. The added stipulations of Shane winning and taking control of Raw and Undertaker losing making it his final WM are intriguing, but this is definitely not the last year for Undertaker at WM.
Prediction: The Undertaker
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: HHH (C) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE really likes this Roman Reigns guy, eh? For the second year in a row, Reigns is in the main event of WM, and for the second year in a row, the majority of fans are not having it. Last year WWE made the last second change to have Seth Rollins cash in his MITB briefcase and it was executed perfectly. This year, they don’t have Seth Rollins or the MITB briefcase to fall back on. They can’t just have Reigns win clean, especially if he overcomes the odds of interference, but having him lose the main event title match two years in a row isn’t great either. You can’t really pull off a double turn either, because HHH is also the evil authority figure that is integral to so many storylines on Raw. Apparently there has been discussion about putting on Taker/Shane last, which might be the better call, especially if they have some insane stuff planned. Even if this isn’t the main event, the goal cannot be to have the crowd mercilessly boo your new champion. I have no idea what’s going to happen. Maybe Cena shows up, but then what? Maybe the Dudleyz interfere, but then what? Don’t sleep on Bray Wyatt either, who could cause a DQ finish or take one or the other out. He doesn’t have a match on the card, and if he’s not featured at all that would be a huge mistake.
Prediction: if I’m forced to pick, I’m going to go with Reigns. I just don’t know how.
There are two WrestleMania main events that could be in serious jeopardy heading into Saturday’s Roadblock live event, and depending on the outcome, that could be great news for the WWE. On paper, WWE Champion HHH vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar in a street fight are both solid matches. There’s only one problem: nobody wants to believe in Roman Reigns. After WWE dropped the ball and had Reigns lose the Rumble to a returning Batista over two years ago, Roman hasn’t had the same momentum with the crowd. Daniel Bryan became their crown jewel, and even after he was sidelined numerous times with injuries, the WWE Universe just wasn’t ready to coronate Reigns as their next leader. Roman has been absent the last few weeks, recovering from real life nasal surgery after the beat down from HHH, where the crowd cheered as the heel champ bloodied the baby face challenger. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that that isn’t the reaction the WWE wants going into WrestleMania.
While Reigns has been MIA the last few weeks, Dean Ambrose has been alive and well. His feud with Brock Lesnar has brought a necessary physicality to WWE storylines, and win or lose this Saturday, Ambrose is going to be in one of the main events of WrestleMania. Where things get interesting is the recent reaction to Ambrose/HHH, which will culminate this Saturday at Roadblock. While fans cheered Reigns’ beat down, they reacted negatively to HHH beating down Ambrose a few weeks ago, and erupted when he hit a Dirty Deeds out of nowhere and grabbed the WWE title. It’s easy to see why fans resonate with Ambrose over Reigns: one is organic, natural and more of a ‘common man’; the other is The Juggernaut, The Big Dog and every other nickname that continues to distance himself from the fans that he is supposed to represent. Microphone work has always been a big part of what makes a WWE star, but it’s more than that with Reigns. The way he is presented and the way he continually is given odds to overcome is tiring. Why should I care that Reigns has ANOTHER title shot at WrestleMania. He’s already been given so many shots, and even won one, that at this point it’s already old news. I’m not saying Ambrose has to win Saturday, although that would be crazy and welcome, but something needs to happen outside of the status quo. As of now Reigns isn’t advertised for Roadblock, so let’s go over a few scenarios whether he ends showing up or not.
Worse Case Scenario: HHH wins, Reigns saves Ambrose from a beat down
This is the most likely scenario, especially if you go off of WWE’s recent booking of Reigns, but it’s the absolute worst case scenario. As I mentioned above, this isn’t a ‘Ambrose loses or we riot’ situation, but they should not portray Ambrose as the little brother who needs big brother Roman’s help. The build up over the last few weeks for HHH/Ambrose has been so perfect, that it’d be a shame to neuter Ambrose by having Roman rescue him. I understand Roman wants his revenge on HHH, but save it for another night. There are a few factors in our favor that suggest this scenario might not happen. HHH has used heel factions, The Wyatt’s and the League of Nations, to beat down Ambrose the last few weeks. WWE is running a live event in Atlantic City opposite Roadblock, and Del Rio, Harper and Strowman are all advertised in matches. With Bray and possibly Erik Rowan tied up with Lesnar earlier in the evening, that only leaves a few member of the League of Nations available for a possible run-in post match. While that still leaves the possibility open for Sheamus, Barrett and Rusev to interfere, I really hope it doesn’t happen.
Middle of the Road Scenario: HHH wins
This is the second most likely scenario. I don’t really see Ambrose winning this match straight up (although it would be amazing) and I’m willing to accept any outcome except the one outlined above. I really do think this will be a great, hard fought match that will continue to put over Ambrose as a top star, but I just don’t think they’ll give him a World title win yet. I could see the League of Nations possibly interfering in this match, giving HHH the win by default, or interfering with a knocked down referee to build the suspense & have HHH win anyway. This could possibly bring out the slowly turning baby face New Day to assist. This is a live event after all, so don’t rule out something like that to close the show.
Coolest If Not Best Case Scenario: Dean Ambrose Wins
How crazy would this be? The hands down best thing about the Attitude Era was the fact that at any given moment, four or five people were vying for the title. Stone Cold, The Rock, Undertaker, Big Show, HHH, Mick Foley; it was never just a basic one on one feud, and it made things a whole lot more interesting. IF Ambrose wins, you now have Ambrose as the champion, HHH as the former champion, Lesnar who already has a match with Ambrose scheduled for WM and Reigns who is the rightful #1 contender. That gives you so many options. Fatal four way at WM, make Lesnar/Ambrose for the title and make Reigns have to defeat HHH to become #1 contender or any other scenario with those four guys. It’s a long shot at best, but I’m glad WWE has built the feud to where this is even a possibility. Saturday should be a blast, unless Roman comes back and superman punches everyone and I light myself on fire.
If you’re a casual wrestling fan, now is the time to watch WWE Raw. Between the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, WWE consistently puts on it’s best weekly programming. They’re not all home runs, but they’re remarkably better than most Raw’s during other times of the year. Last night’s Raw was one of those home runs. After last week was extremely heavy on the promo’s, this week’s show focused more on the in ring segments, which is WWE’s strong suit with most of their top stars injured. We got a good promo from Shane and Vince to start the show, and a great back and forth between HHH and Ambrose later in the show, but all the highlights were of the physical variety. Let’s take a look.
After Shane and Vince verbally sparred back and forth and Vince stepped on a childhood photo of him and his son, Vince summoned security to take Shane out of the building. The only problem with that is that Shane O’ Mac was having none of it. He quickly dispatched security with rabbit punches and knee strikes, and the segment was made all the better because the Chicago crowd was hot for it. As a side note, Chicago crowds have a tendency to be self serving (CM Punk chants, I’m looking at you) but last night’s crowd was awesome, especially during this segment, the tag match and the closing angle. This segment did a lot better than last week’s, where Undertaker walked out, said a sentence and left. We still have three more Raw’s until WM, and while I don’t think it’s necessary for Taker and Shane to get physical, I would still like more of an explanation as to why Undertaker is actually competing in this match.
The WWE Divas Championship match is already set, so we’re probably in for segments where each Diva looks strong going into the biggest match in all three of these women’s careers. Of any match that’s already on the card or could be added, I’m most excited for this one. This is their chance to prove on the biggest stage that women’s wrestling matters on the main roster. I can’t wait.
As much as I’d rather get stabbed in both eyes instead of watching another distraction rollup win, at least Lana has something to do now. While a Brie Bella feud is almost always awful, the crowd obviously loves Lana, and she’s very athletic, so why not give her a chance and see what she can do. Plus, Brie’s entire family is falling apart, so why not give her one more WrestleMania moment before she retires.
They’re destined to do this forever. Kevin Owens beat Neville in a very good match, and it looked like Neville was going to fall victim to another pop up power bomb on the apron until SAMI ZAYN comes out for the save. Zayn and Owens feud in NXT was cut critically short due to the injury of Zayn and the fact that Owens was just too good to keep off the main roster, so if they’re going to get a WM feud right now I am all the way in. I don’t know if they’d do a 1 on 1 match or a multi-man match like last year, but either way, any version of Owens and Zayn is gold. Throw Neville in there and make it an IC Title/’Who’s the best NXT Champion on the main roster’ match. Either way, I am all the way in.
If I could pin point why this Raw was a gift from the Gods, it would be because Kalisto and Alberto Del Rio finally stopped feuding. Kalisto got a clean win over Tyler Breeze (who got a full entrance for the first time in forever) and Ryback continued to maul the Social Outcasts. Ryback and Kalisto even got promo time backstage where Ryback inexplicably name dropped every superhero movie he’s ever seen. As much as I love Kalisto, if he fights Ryback at WM their match should end when Ryback literally pulls him apart limb by limb.
This match was important for a number of reasons. The New Day, at least on the microphone, has kind of grown stale. They’re still kind of funny, but it seems more scripted than it used to be and that is always a bad thing. What this match proved though is that The New Day in the ring, specifically Big E and Kofi, are bananas. Big E catching human beings out of thin air and slamming them to the mat will never not be awesome and Kofi has eclipsed Dolph as the best seller on the roster. I could watch that AJ Styles backflip into a reverse DDT all day every day. Speaking of AJ Styles, anyone who had any doubts about how amazing he is should watch this match. He’s flying around the ring, looks great on offense and takes a believable beat down. The old veteran Jericho was also fantastic in this match, and this is his best run with the WWE since ‘Best in the World’ Jericho. Speaking of THAT Jericho, he’s back, baby. You sensed it was coming, but heel Jericho is so great that I didn’t care. Give me Chris Jericho stuffing shirts into people’s mouths and calling them sons of bitches and I’m a happy man. Great match and a great post match angle.
The difference between a good Raw and a great Raw is the stuff that happens after a fantastic match like the Tag Titles match. WWE’s roster is stacked with talent, so even on a bad show, they’re going to put on some fantastic matches. The problem is that the writing is inconsistent, so while some performers can overcome the writing and put on a great match, others can’t and the show goes downhill. That did not happen last night, and the main reason for that is Dean Ambrose. It’s hard to believe that a Raw in March without three of the top guys in three of the main event matches of WM (Reigns, Lesnar & Taker) could be this good, but that’s what happens when you let a guy like Ambrose connect with the crowd. Wyatt deserves some credit too, and as a Bray Wyatt super fan that interaction with HHH and the World Title at the end was INCREDIBLE, but Dean Ambrose is the shit right now. Not only does he out duel HHH in a promo earlier in the night, but he puts on a great match with Wyatt, gets beat down, and then summons enough energy to turn the tables on HHH and end the night with the belt in his hands. Also, don’t sleep on HHH selling Dirty Deeds like a goddamn champion. I saw a few people on Twitter complain about it, but they’re missing the point. With HHH selling it like a knockout blow, you just showed your audience that any given moment, Ambrose can pop up and hit that move and HHH will be forced to lay there like he got hit with a shovel. So now if HHH is murdering Ambrose on Saturday, we can revert back to that image and remember that at any moment, Ambrose could strike. I don’t know what’s going to happen Saturday night, but I know I’ll be watching, and that’s half the battle.
— Triple H (@TripleH) February 22, 2016
Lost in all the hoopla and complaining last night was this breaking announcement – Shinsuke Nakamura, the King of Strong Style and one of the most accomplished international wrestlers in the world, is now officially a member of NXT. He already has his first match, which will be against Sami Zayn at Takeover Dallas, but now that he’s officially signed, the sky is truly the limit for this guy. I’m glad he’s going to NXT first, because that is where he has a chance to really thrive at the beginning. From all the videos and articles I’ve seen on this guy, he seems to be as close to a can’t miss megastar as there is today. Jim Ross compared his signing to the signings of Lesnar and Cena, and with WWE in serious need of some international flavor, Nakamura should be a huge boost to their roster.
As far as Fastlane goes, a lot of fans were disappointed, and I think it has a lot to do with how the show flowed. It peaked early with the US/IC title and Divas matches and the crowd died after the New Day/Social Outcasts segments. The main event saved the show and the crowd was hot for it, but then the predictable ending brought everyone back down. If Roman is their guy that’s fine, but they need to figure out a better way for him to connect with the fans or switch up the alignments. Listen to the crowd when Dean Ambrose is doing things in the ring and then listen when Roman is; it’s night and day. Unless WWE’s plan is to have 100,000 people boo the main event of their biggest show, I think they should use the next 42 days to make this a lot more interesting.