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Five Stars From #WWE #RAW (3/12/18): It’s WrestleMania Season

Welcome back, wrestling fans. Now that Fastlane has come and gone, WWE is officially on the fast track to WrestleMania. Counting last night’s show, there are only four Raw’s left until WrestleMania. The biggest show of the year will be here before we know it, and the good news is the early card looks great. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar is a rematch of one of the more intense and stiff Mania main event’s in recent memory.

Ronda Rousey/Kurt Angle vs. HHH/Stephanie is a great idea for Rousey’s first match. The match will have a main event feel thanks to the other three who are involved but it keeps Rousey away from the Women’s title until she’s earned it. MIz/Rollins/Balor should be fantastic with the IC title on the line. Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax is becoming a very emotional storyline with Bliss playing her heel role perfectly, which is going to lead to a groundswell of support for Nia. Braun Strowman might be challenging for the tag titles solo which is just preposterous enough to work.

All in all, WrestleMania is looking good on paper. Now, let’s get to the five stars from last night’s 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. Roman Reigns

I’ve really enjoyed the build to Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar II. Instead of going the traditional route with Reigns and Lesnar going face to face or brawling for weeks in a row, they’ve kept it one sided. If they tried to build this like a normal title match, the crowd would continue to shit on Reigns. By keeping Lesnar away and allowing Reigns to finally sound like a normal guy, they’ve started to bring some fans to Roman’s side. Roman cut a fantastic promo on Lesnar two weeks ago and followed it up with another strong speech last night. When WWE allows Reigns to talk tough and keep it short he’s a much more believable character. While Reigns has held up his end of the build so far, WWE used their trump card last night.

While it’s easy to think of Vince as this super popular legend, the facts are that he’s one of best heels in pro wrestling history. He makes it so easy to hate him, and if you’re looking to build sympathy or support for a character, you pit them against Vince. Remember Roman Reigns vs. Sheamus from three years ago? The crowd rooted for Reigns almost by default because Vince was on the other side.

Last night Reigns called out Vince in the ring then confronted him backstage. That led to Vince temporarily suspending Reigns while also mentioning Brock Lesnar does enjoy special privileges, but he’s earned them. Brock Lesnar was always cheered because of his freakish skills and unmatched intensity, but it’s much harder to cheer for him when he’s aligned with or supported by Vince. This will almost certainly lead to a Vince/Reigns confrontation, which should enhance an already great build.

4. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

Miz vs. Rollins vs. Balor could have zero build and i’d still be psyched for their match at Mania. They’re three of the best workers on Raw, and they’re fighting for what should be the workhorse championship. Since Raw is a 3 hour show every week, they’re obviously going to feature some type of segment with those three, and I’d prefer it to be more wrestling than promos. Miz TV is always enjoyable, but Miz is so far and above both Rollins and Balor on the microphone and this match doesn’t need a lot of talking up to get people excited.

Rollins vs. Balor was a fun match, and I particularly enjoyed the ending. Rollins and Balor are evenly matched, so if you’re going to have someone go over clean, it shouldn’t be a dominant victory. They also know each other well and have a shared history. I don’t think either should win with their finisher either, which is why I liked this so much. Rollins loves to hit the top rope suplex/falcon arrow combo to soften guys up for his finisher. While he executed the suplex perfectly, Balor knew he was going to roll over into the falcon arrow. He was able to use that knowledge to his advantage and reverse the falcon arrow into a roll up for the win.

It wasn’t a dominant victory, but it showed you how quickly someone can pickup a win, which if it happens at Mania, means there will be a new IC champ.

3. Asuka vs. Mickie James

Asuka finally made her WrestleMania decision Sunday at Fastlane. Asuka vs. Charlotte is a dream match any way you look at it, and it’s a much better title match than Asuka vs. Bliss would have been. As great of a character as Alexa is, there is no realistic way for her to beat Asuka without a metric ton of shenanigans. That shouldn’t be the route they take for Asuka at Mania, so I’m glad she’s challenging Charlotte. Asuka even threw some shade at Bliss by saying she wants to face the best women’s champion at Mania. To add insult to injury Alexa’s backup plan Nia Jax was a no show. forcing MIckie James to be the poor sacrificial lamb.

James/Asuka was a lot of fun, mainly because Mickie understands the value of fighting different styles of matches against different opponents. She was super aggressive against Asuka, and even got a few near falls. Asuka has been undefeated for 55 years for a reason though, and eventually adjusted to pick up the tap out win.

2. Alexa & Nia

While Asuka/Charlotte has a leg up from an in ring standpoint, Alexa vs. Nia Jax has all the emotional weight behind it. Alexa and Nia have been “friends” for awhile now, with Alexa using Nia for her size and strength while Nia has been getting the extreme short end of the stick. Nia continues to persevere, but it’s starting to take a toll. Last week’s interaction between Bliss and Nia was heartbreaking, and it’s a credit to how strong both of these characters are. Bliss is the absolute worst, while Nia has been manipulated for so long that it’s starting to break her down. She keeps going though, because at the root of it all is her friendship with Bliss.

Yeah…about that friendship. After Nia murders a poor local competitor, a hot boom mic picks up Alexa talking some major hurtful shit about Nia. Nia is in the ring listening the entire time and eventually storms to the back and destroys the women’s locker room that Bliss and Mickie James were in. Alexa tip toed the line with NIa for so long, but she finally went too far when Nia was within earshot. If you have even a tiny piece of a heart you’re going to be rooting for Nia to rip Alexa to shreds as soon as possible.

1. Braun Strowman

Braun Strowman winning the tag team battle royal by himself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but stay with me here. 1. Watching Braun Strowman destroy ten other guys is always fun. 2. The Raw tag division is useless, and there’s no point in trying to turn one of the current teams into believable contenders. I’m not saying one or multiple teams can’t be revamped, but four weeks prior to WrestleMania is not the time to do that. 3. If this win stands, I think Kurt Angle should force Braun to find a partner. How fun would it be watching this unstoppable monster try to find someone who he hasn’t already tried to murder to be his tag team partner?

Strowman isn’t the most trustworthy guy, but having an automatic tag team title shot at WrestleMania could convince someone to join forces with Braun. I’m interested to see who that could be.

-Ryan

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Five Stars From @WWE #RAW (2/26/18): Roman Reigns, Miz, Asuka & More!

WWE Raw was live from Anaheim, California last night. Most of the show centered around fall out from Sunday night’s Elimination Chamber. I wrote a short post about Ronda Rousey’s contract signing yesterday, but the main takeaway from the Chamber is that we’re inching our way towards WrestleMania. Alexa Bliss is still the women’s champ, The Bar are still tag champs and Roman Reigns is the new #1 contender for the Universal title. Let’s get to the five stars!

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. Alexa Bliss

Raw opened with women’s champ Alexa Bliss and her best friend (?) Mickie James gloating about her win in the first ever women’s elimination chamber. Bliss cut a masterful promo after her win on Sunday, playing the crowd like a fiddle and eventually stomping on their dreams. I think Sunday night was Bliss’s best overall performance on the main roster. She won the match with a combination of resourcefulness and true wrestling skill, and then finished it off with a great promo.

Her promo last night wasn’t as good as Sunday’s, but it was effective. It worked so well because everything she said was true. She did win the first ever women’s elimination chamber, and she did win it on her own. Mickie James is apparently her best friend now, but she was already out of the match by the time Alexa entered. Alexa moved on to talk about breaking Asuka’s streak at WrestleMania, which brought out the Empress. Thankfully WWE didn’t have Asuka try to match Bliss on the mic, and hopefully they realized Asuka’s facial expressions and body language have more impact than any promo.

Bliss turned full heel once Asuka got into the ring. She made fun of Asuka’s poor English skills, which is not as easy as it sounds. Alexa could have easily crossed the line from arrogant and conceited to offensive and insensitive. I personally don’t think it went too far, and it got the crowd firmly on the side of Asuka. Alexa also laid the perfect trap, as Nia Jax came out to attack Asuka 3 on 1. Alexa Bliss continues to be a smart, sophisticated heel.

4. Multiple Stories For The Women’s Division!

Bayley and Sasha Banks ran down to help out Asuka which gave us our first match of the night, playa. It wasn’t the most exciting match in the world, but I appreciate them advancing multiple stories. Bayley and Sasha are destined to blow the roof off of the Super Dome as WrestleMania. After Sasha eliminated Bayley from the Rumble and Lion King’d her at Elimination Chamber, Bayley bailed on her last night. The back and forth betrayal could get monotonous for the next five weeks, but you know the pay off match will be awesome.

Even though Alexa is champ, Nia and Asuka are the two most dangerous women on the roster. They proved that again in this match, with Nia bull dozing people and Asuka picking up the win. Alexa/Nia/Asuka vying for the women’s title and Sasha/Bayley in a grudge match feud are two very good stories for the women on the Road to WrestleMania.

3. Seth Rollins & The Miz

Before the Rollins/Miz match, Miz was given a microphone. 99 out of 100 times that’s a good thing, and last night was no exception. Miz is forcing the IC title to be relevant through his performance, which makes guys like Rollins and Balor wanting the belt feel like a real thing. It’s not just a guy wanting a championship because that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s a guy wanting a championship because it’s an important part of your most important show.

Onto the match. Has anyone had a better 7 day in ring stretch than Seth Rollins? He wrestled for 60+ minutes last Monday, killed it in the Elimination Chamber and then had a fantastic match last night against Miz. The Miz is such a great bad guy that he gives almost every match he’s in an old school heel/face dynamic. Rollins has had a hell of a week and is super easy to root for, but when you add in the fact that you want to see The Miz get his ass kicked, it makes the match that much more enjoyable.

Rollins is aces in the ring right now, and watching him fly around taking out Miz, Axel and Dallas was a delight. As happy as I am that the curb stomp is back, he should start getting some pins with the top rope suplex into the falcon arrow. That’s such a crowd pleasing move, but it loses a little bit of it’s luster when you know the guy is going to always kick out.

This was a great match though, and I only have one minor complaint. Having challengers beat the champion so the challenger can face the champion again is a weird trope. The roster is too deep for that to consistently happen. Miz/Rollins was great, but I’d rather see Seth beat other guys to earn a title shot instead of beating the champ in a non title match. It’s a weirder story, and takes away from the eventual title match.

2. Roman Reigns

Roman Reigns is almost the perfect wrestler. He’s consistently good to great in the ring, has a believable look and CAN be good on the microphone. Every good Roman Reigns promo has a natural feel to it. His best one to date was a five word promo on the Raw after WrestleMania last year. Last night’s was a close second. If you look at Reigns, you know right off the bat that everything he says should be quick and impactful. He doesn’t need clever writers. He’s a 6’3 bad ass Samoan with wrestling royalty in his blood. If he’s going to speak, there should be a point to it. Last night he had a point to make, and he made it well.

WWE was advertising a face-off between Lesnar and Reigns all day. Lesnar was scheduled to be there and the face-off was in the script, but Lesnar never appeared. I’ll leave the speculation to the internet, but this worked out perfectly for Reigns. For the first time in a long time, he felt like an actual person instead of a first draft of a character.

He spoke with intent and purpose and whether this was a heavily scripted promo or not, there was some absolute truth behind it. It’s not secret Lesnar is an asshole, and that he only works for the money, and that he only cares about himself. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say Reigns doesn’t respect Lesnar, but I would not be surprised if he doesn’t like him.

Reigns speaking with a fiery passion is such an easy guy to root for. He’s already great in the ring and has a bad ass look. If you remind people that he actually loves what he does and cares about the business and fans once in awhile, the fans will respond. When’s the last time you heard more cheers than boos during a Reigns promo? Well it happened last night, and the best part about it was that it was earned. If WWE sticks with Reigns vs. Lesnar at WrestleMania, I guarantee you Reigns enters as the fan favorite.

1. Ronda Rousey, Slow Burn

The main event of last night’s show was Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle explaining their actions from Sunday night. The whole Kurt Angle/pneumonia/hallucinating story is silly, but I thought Rousey was very good here. She was much more confident on the mic, and that’s because her material was better. Ronda Rousey isn’t a character. She’s an actual real life bad ass. I understand having her explain this is her dream and she’s happy to be in the WWE. But I’m much more interested in the ‘I will rip your arm out of your socket’ Ronda Rousey.

The good news is that this will definitely lead to Angle and Rousey vs. HHH/Stephanie. HHH and Stephanie are experts at being dick bags, so it won’t be hard for the crowd to get behind Rousey. Let’s just hope Kurt Angle remembers not to blankly stare at the ceiling when HHH is around:

-Ryan

Five Stars Of WWE Raw 12/11/17

WWE Raw was live from Cleveland, Ohio last night. The main event featured Kane vs. Braun Strowman in a Universal title #1 contender’s match. Samoa Joe, Cesaro & Sheamus were all in singles action against members of The Shield while WWE had to pull a 180 with the cruiserweight division due to Rich Swann’s arrest. As usual, I’ll be spotlighting the five best things from last night’s show.

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.

And now, the five stars from the 12/11/17 edition of WWE Raw.

5. Samoa Joe

Joe vs. Ambrose was my least favorite of the three Shield matches, but I’d be a stupid idiot if I didn’t give Joe the praise he deserves. Raw opened with Joe in the ring berating Roman Reigns and talking about how he’s beaten and/or injured each member of The Shield. Joe always talks with a purpose and shy’s away from the cookie cutter language that a lot of other guys use. When Joe speaks, it sounds like something he would say rather than something that was written for him. That’s as high of a compliment you can give a WWE promo nowadays. I also love the pairing of Joe and The Bar, and the 6 man with The Shield sometime down the line is going to be off the charts.

The Joe/Ambrose match was OK, but fell short compared to Rollins/Sheamus & Reigns/Cesaro. Jason Jordan continuing to stick his nose in everyone’s business is a nice addition to the story, and gives the crowd an actual reason to boo him. I could’ve went without the ref distraction being the reason Ambrose lost, because his top rope offense couldn’t do maximum damage to a newborn baby. I will take the Joe choke out win though, because Samoa Joe should always win.

4. Finn Balor

Finn Balor picked up another win against the Miz-tourage, this time defeating folk hero Curtis Axel. It’s far from the best use of Balor, but I’ll take this over losing clean to Kane any day. It’s a little mind boggling that WWE doesn’t know how to use Balor, especially since he debuted and immediately won the Universal title. If these matches against Dallas & Axel lead to a Balor/Miz feud, I will be very happy. The Miz is WWE’s miracle worker and it’d be as pure of a baby face/heel matchup WWE has had in a while.

3. Seth Rollins vs. Sheamus

My second favorite Shield match last night was Rollins vs. Sheamus. These two have great chemistry whether it’s a singles or tag match, and I loved Sheamus’ strategy. Rollins is quicker and can take Sheamus out with high flying moves. How does Sheamus counter that? Brutalize Rollins knee, which is the same body part Seth uses for his finisher. It’s a simple story but it works, and Rollins is always better when he’s fighting from underneath as a fan favorite. His move set caters to the live crowd, specifically the top rope Suplex into the falcon arrow, which should be a finisher. Fun, competitive match with a clean finish. You can’t ask for much more than that.

2. Cesaro vs. Roman Reigns

Speaking of fun, competitive matches with a clean ending, Cesaro vs. Reigns was the best match of the night. Every time Cesaro is given time he shines, and I can’t explain why he’s not consistently in a main event spot. Similar to Sheamus working Rollins’ knee, Cesaro worked Reigns right arm, which is the key to his Superman punch and almost all of his offense. Once again Reigns was stellar as well, and his run as IC champ has been successful so far. You know he’s not losing the title on a random Raw, but his title defenses have all been great, and he’s elevating everyone he’s in the ring with.

I don’t know how long The Bar will be a thing, but WWE could do a lot worse than to make Cesaro IC champ. His physicality in this match was great, which always brings out the best in Roman. Cesaro deserved to win the match, but the time isn’t right for a title change. Hopefully he’s in the conversation when it’s time for Roman to move on to the Universal title again.

1. Cedric Alexander (and the rest of the cruiserweights)

So. A few weeks Kurt Angle set up a multi week storyline to find a new #1 contender for Enzo Amore. It consisted of two fatal 4 way matches, with the winner from each match facing each other. The winner of that match would be the new #1 contender. Rich Swann won one fatal 4 way and Drew Gulak won the other, so they would be one of two guys to fight for the cruiserweight title. The only problem with that is Rich Swann was arrested over the weekend for kidnapping and false imprisonment. Slight hiccup. Swann has been indefinitely suspended, so a second chance fatal 4 way took place on last night’s show with the winner of that match moving on to face Gulak. Got it?

The match was once again a standout moment for the cruiserweight division. They’ve proved for three weeks in a row that if you give them time, they will shine™. While Mustafa Ali is a personal favorite of mine, it’s hard to argue that Cedric Alexander doesn’t deserve to be a star in the cruiserweight division. He’s so dynamic and every move he executes has a beautiful crispness to it. I think he and Gulak will be put on a good match as well, and I like that they’re teasing some dissension within the Zo Train. It’s also nice to have the cruiserweights be an important part of Raw. There is way too much talent for them to be an afterthought.

Supplementary Stars

In case you missed it, I wrote about the potential the Matt Hardy/Bray Wyatt feud has. Hopefully they move beyond dueling backstage promos soon, because both guys are too good to be boring.

-Ryan

WWE Raw 12/4/17: Five Stars

WWE Raw was live from Los Angeles California last night. The show featured Roman Reigns defending his IC title and The Bar defending their tag titles. Asuka & Braun Strowman murdered their opponents and we also got a great fatal 4 way cruiserweight match. As a reminder, this won’t be a traditional review of Raw. Instead, I pick out the five best things from the show (could be a match, promo or a specific wrestler) and explain why it was one of the best parts of 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.

And now, the five stars from the December 4th, 2017 edition of WWE Raw.

5. Roman Reigns vs. Jason Jordan

Anyone who complained about Roman Reigns winning the IC belt has watched his matches the last two weeks. I never understood the Reigns hate, especially from an in ring standpoint, but I love what he’s done for the IC title already. The only things you can ask of a mid card champion is to defend the title consistently and put on good matches. Reigns checked both of those boxes off for two weeks in a row, and I hope this trend continues.

As solid as Reigns has been, Jason Jordan has proved to be every bit his equal inside the ropes. His character still needs SOMETHING, but you cannot deny how great he is at the actual wrestling part. He’s quick, strong and is learning to sell on offense, which is something too few people do. His rolling northern lights Suplex into a pin that he tried to pull off with one leg was phenomenal, and I’m glad he’s getting a chance to wrestle these kind of matches. Similar to the match with Elias last week you knew Reigns was going to win, but that shouldn’t have affected how much you enjoyed the match.

I’m glad we didn’t get the Reigns/Joe match last night, because that’s a match where both guys deserve to be fresh. I’d prefer those two fight one on one, but adding Jordan into the mix isn’t the worst thing in the world either.

4. Cruiserweights

It’s crazy how much more enjoyable the cruiserweight division has been now that they have a little direction and are given time to perform. I enjoyed this week’s fatal 4 way more than last week’s match, and if you needed proof that Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali deserve to be stars, watch this match. They were both tremendous here and there’s no reason the cruiserweights shouldn’t be given this amount of time every week. WWE is at it’s best when they give us a show with variety. Spotlighting guys like Alexander & Ali, who can do things few other people can do, is a no brainer. It also separates the cruiserweights from the rest of the show, which in turn makes them seem more special.

Tony Nese and Drew Gulak were great complementary players in this match as well, and I’m glad Gulak picked up the win. Gulak vs. Swann has more of a story than Swann vs. Cedric or Ali, and it sets up two interesting possibilities. If Swann wins next week, Enzo has a legit exciting challenger who could beat him for the title any day of the week. If Gulak wins, maybe he gains enough confidence to try and take Enzo’s title from him. All in all this was an awesome match that sets up two more matches that fans should be excited to see.

3. Braun Strowman

Raw went off the air last week with Braun Strowman trying to murder Kane’s throat. Kane has had a great career but he doesn’t need to be heavily featured in 2017. Braun has so many more compelling matchup’s on the roster, and he’s more enjoyable against smaller guys who know how to sell. Case in point: Braun vs. Elias. Braun destroys everybody, so it makes sense that he would stomp on Elias, but he still got some good shots in on the monster. I like Braun versus someone like Elias over Kane because he can utilize his full arsenal in those type of matches. When he’s fighting Kane he can show off his strength, but when he fights a smaller guy he can show off his strength AND speed.

Someone as big as Braun should not be as fast he is, but I’ll never get tired of watching him run guys down and mow them over. Kane appeared on the big screen post match and set up a match against Braun for next week. Hopefully that’s the blow off to this feud so Braun can focus and gain as much momentum as possible heading into Royal Rumble season.

2. Asuka

Similar to Braun Strowman in the men’s division, Asuka has been a one woman wrecking crew for her entire NXT/WWE tenure. She beat Dana Brooke last week in literally three seconds, and while Alicia Fox got in a little offense last night, Asuka still won easily. I’m glad WWE is going this route with Asuka, especially when it comes to Absolution. I wrote last week about how the way Asuka is portrayed in the ring and the way Absolution treads lightly with her separates Asuka from the pack. While the post match segment was pretty identical to last week, I liked that Absolution did take out Alicia Fox. Asuka should be treated differently from an Alicia Fox or a Dana Brooke, so I’m glad WWE is going out of their way to show that to their audience.

I’m sure Absolution will pounce on Asuka one day when the time is right but the slow burn of that attack is the right move for now.

1. The Bar vs. Rollins & Ambrose

The Los Angeles crowd was hot all night, and I’m glad they saved some energy for the tag title main event. The Bar/Rollins & Ambrose have already proven they have great chemistry and that was on full display here. The DQ/restart never does much for me, but it’s a good move to pull for a live crowd who clearly wanted to see these two teams fight all night. Besides the actual match, my favorite part of this segment was how it tied into the opener. Reigns and Samoa Joe still have unfinished business, so what’s the best way for Joe to get back at Reigns? Take out his Shield buddies and cost them the tag titles. Joe’s interference brought out Reigns and caused just enough chaos for Sheamus to Brogue Kick Ambrose and steal a victory for The Bar.

This finish leaves the door open for another tag title match down the road. It could also give us a 6 man tag in the near future, which sounds like the best possible thing.

-Ryan

WWE Raw 11/27/17: Five Stars

WWE Raw

Photo: WWE

WWE RAW 11/27/17

WWE Raw was live from Knoxville, Tennessee last night in the same arena where John Cena beat Bray Wyatt in 2014. Some things don’t change. In lieu of a full review of a 3 hour pro wrestling show, I’m going to spotlight the five best moments/matches/wrestlers from last night’s show.

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.

And now, the five stars from the November 27th, 2017 edition of WWE Raw.

5. The IC Title Open Challenge & Reigns vs. Elias

The one thing I wanted from a Roman Reigns IC title run was for him to go full Cena and issue open challenges. When Cena was US champ he did more for that title than anyone else before or after him. It was a great use of a main event guy who didn’t need the title making the title prestigious. Reigns open Raw with a promo where he challenged anyone in the locker room to a title match. The first man up was Elias, and I loved it for a few reasons.

First – Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel still have a TV role while Miz films Marine 26: Lost in Space. If you aren’t’ sure why that’s a good thing, watch the second video above. Second – Elias has been one of the best surprises of 2017, but he hasn’t had much direction lately. By pairing him up with Dallas & Axel & giving him a shot at the IC title, it gives him a story and a possible feud with Miz when he returns.

While it’s great to give Elias a shot like this, it would all be for naught if he didn’t deliver. Luckily for Elias and the fans, he looked outstanding in his match against Reigns. Roman has the WWE formula of a ‘big time’ match down to a science, and I loved that Elias delivered most of the offense. Even though everyone in the building knew Roman was winning, they still put together a great match with some solid near falls. Elias looked great, the IC title looked like a title people should want and the fans got a competitive, clean match.

As long as Reigns’ reign doesn’t end with Alberto Del Rio returning and taking the strap, his IC title run should be a huge success.

4. Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins

My only issue with The Bar/Ambrose & Rollins feud is that they’re using singles matches to build to a tag title match. It would make more sense to have both teams looks good in tag team matches versus other teams, but ‘making sense’ & ‘WWE’ don’t always coexist. The match itself was great though, and it was refreshing to see these two fight with no one at ringside. I know Ambrose was on his honeymoon and Sheamus was in Dublin, but WWE has programmed me to pay more attention to people outside the ring than in it.

Cesaro and Rollins could have a good match blindfolded, but this match had a good pace to it, and I enjoyed Cesaro working Rollins’ back and almost winning with the sharpshooter. It was the second best on the show behind Reigns/Elias and I’m looking forward to the tag title match next week.

3. Samoa Joe Forever

I’ve written this before, but I adore Samoa Joe competitive squash matches. He did it in NXT and has continued the trend on the main roster. When you look at Samoa Joe vs. Titus O’Neil on paper, it looks like a giant mismatch. Instead of Joe just walking over Titus, he lets Titus get in a good amount of hard hitting offense. That makes Titus look good, especially after Joe has choked him out multiple times. It also makes Joe look good because it shows he can take offense from a 6’6 270 pounder and still recover for a decisive win.

While the win over Titus was nice, the best Samoa Joe moment happened after Reigns defeated Elias:

Reigns issuing the open challenge at the beginning of Raw gave us a great match and direction for someone who needed it (Elias) and a new, worthy challenger (Joe). I’m all in for a Reigns/Joe IC title blood feud, especially if Roman is eventually going to move onto Lesnar during WrestleMania season.

2. Absolutely Asuka

My favorite part of Absolution (the official name of Paige, Mandy & Daria’s death squad) is how it gave each woman in the division much needed character alignment. Absolution is supposed to take on Sasha, Bayley & Mickie James, but they take out Bayley & Mickie pre match. Alexa Bliss is on commentary but she wants no part of Absolution, so when they stalk Sasha, she bails. Bliss is the anti Reigns in the sense that she’d be happy being the champion forever and never having to defend it, so she’s all for Absolution destroying people. While I like Sasha better as a cocky heel, the crowd loves her, so making her the ‘against all odds’ baby face makes sense.

Later in the show Asuka beats Dana Brooke in literally three seconds. After the match Absolution comes out for what looks like another 3 on 1 attack, but they decide against it. Could Absolution take out Asuka 3 on 1? Probably. Should they take her out to prove a point and then have an angry killing machine hunting their every move? Probably not. Absolution wanted Asuka to know they’re always lurking, but aren’t ready to start an all out war with the one woman who could take them all out. It’s a smart play for Absolution and it distinguishes Asuka as the only woman on the roster too dangerous to attack 3 on 1.

1. Cruiserweights

I’m not sure who finally decided to give the cruiserweights something to do, but bless their heart. Kurt Angle set up a mini tournament to crown the #1 contender for Enzo’s cruiserweight championship, and it’s a perfect multi week story for the division. The four minute 3 on 3 or 4 on 4 matches weren’t helping anybody, so fatal 4 ways are a huge upgrade. The cruiserweight division has so much talent that I’m not sure why they aren’t doing these types of matches every week, but I’ll take this match and the one next week as a start.

Rich Swann was the obvious star out of the four and he was long overdue for a spotlight win. All four guys looked good and more importantly were given enough time, which is all you ask for with the cruiserweights. Next week’s 4 way should be interesting, as I’d think they’d want to have Swann versus a member of the Zo Train to build some type of story for the #1 contender’s match in two weeks.

Supplementary Stars: Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy

I didn’t want to include Bray Wyatt & Matt Hardy on this list because of how often WWE screws up Wyatt’s character. The post match “breakdown” of Hardy gives me some hope though, as does Matt’s tweet:

Is this Hardy’s and WWE’s way of getting around the Broken lawsuit? If it is and Hardy/Wyatt join forces, I’m all in. If this leads to a one on one feud that Wyatt 1000% loses, I will set my computer on fire.

-Ryan

Five Stars From WWE Raw 11/20/17

WWE Raw

Photo: WWE

It’s about time Roman Reigns caught a break.

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WWE Raw was live last night from Houston, Texas, the same city and venue that hosted Sunday night’s Survivor Series. Survivor Series was a tale of two shows as certain matches were great (Shield/New Day, Lesnar/Styles) and others not so great (men’s and women’s 5 on 5). But hey, any time you can make HHH punk out guys on both Raw and Smackdown and pick up the win in the main event of a pay per view in 2017 you have to do it, right?

The best thing about WWE is that whether you loved or hated a pay per view, the next night there is always a Raw to keep things rolling. Instead of a traditional review, I’m going to pick out the five best things from last night and hopefully get a good old fashioned pro wrestling discussion started.

5. Samoa Joe

It’s so refreshing having a motivated, bad ass Samoa Joe back on Raw. While it would be nice for Joe’s success to not be at the expense of Finn Balor, victories like last night do sky rocket him up the title contender ladder. The biggest compliment I can give Joe is that everything he does has a purpose. His goal for every match is to lock the Coquina Clutch on his opponent, because when it’s locked on tight there is no escape. Finn and Joe have great chemistry dating back to their NXT days, and while this match isn’t going to blow anybody away, it was crisp and served it’s purpose.

In an era where everyone does the suicide dive through the middle rope, Joe’s might be the best. Not only does he dive through the rope, but he winds up mid dive and finishes it off with a stiff forearm shot. He wore Balor down enough so that when the Coquina Clutch was locked in, Balor was incapacitated and TKO’d. Great opening match.

4. Asuka

I wasn’t a fan of either 5 on 5 match at Survivor Series, but I am glad that Asuka eliminated three members of Team Smackdown and won the match for Team Raw. That was such a layup decision that I’m not going to give WWE any credit for it, though. I’m glad that Asuka is steam rolling through the women’s division, and last night’s match against Dana Brooke is a great example of how she should look from here on out.

Asuka should not just be another member of the women’s division. She should be the one that everyone else fears, and she should stay undefeated, win the women’s title from whichever unlucky soul has it, and then keep winning forever. She’s so good and unique and I love the tweak to her entrance where the arena goes dark and her mask appears on the screen before her music hits. The crowd is already into it, so let’s keep this gravy train rolling and turn Asuka into a cult hero.

3. Paige, Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville

During the women’s fatal 4 way number one contender’s match, we heard a familiar screech that has been missing from the women’s division for far too long. Paige made her long awaited return, and at first I thought it was odd to come out and cut a promo during an actual match. Thankfully it all made sense in the end, as Paige brought NXT’s Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville along with her to send a message. Deville is a former MMA fighter who also appeared on Tough Enough and had been with NXT since late 2015. Rose is a former bodybuilding and fitness competitor who appeared on the same Tough Enough as Deville and has also been with NXT since late 2015.

Since the brand split the women’s divisions on both shows have been extremely thin, so adding three women in one segment was a smart move. Plus, you’re bringing in newcomers Deville and Rose alongside a household name like Paige, which will ease their transition to the main roster. I also like bringing in some NXT stars that don’t have a track record in NXT, as it gives them a clean slate on whichever show they appear on. The women’s division needed a little chaos thrown in, and this segment plus their backstage attack on Bliss were two steps in the right direction.

2. Roman Reigns

I don’t love the title change in the main event, but with Rollins and Ambrose back to battling The Bar, Reigns needed some type of direction. His two lifelong enemies are either feuding with Kane (Strowman) or dead (Wyatt) so it made sense to send him after the only other singles title on the show. Reigns is becoming the master of the WWE style title match, and while a lot of this match had to do with the brilliance of Miz, Reigns is still very good in the ring. The only thing I ask moving forward is for Reigns to turn into John Cena when he won the US title and defend the IC title as much as possible. He’ll win all of the matches, but he’ll also elevate whoever challenges him.

1. The Miz, Always

Since early June Miz has been the IC champion, and while he hasn’t defended as often as he should have (or wanted to) he and the Miz-Tourage have been one of the best parts of Raw for awhile. Whether it’s Miz TV or being in the main event of Raw or pay per views, Miz has consistently delivered, and I was sad to see him lose the strap last night. I love him, Axel and Dallas and hope that they continue to be an important part of Raw. I’m going to assume that Roman will be champ for at least a little while, but once the time comes for him to move on to bigger things (Brock Lesnar), I wouldn’t hate Miz getting a chance for his 8th reign as IC champ.

-Ryan

Braun Strowman Had One Of The Best Segments In Years Last Night On #RAW #SuperstarShakeUp

One of the most frustrating parts of modern day WWE are the stop/start pushes that are given to certain superstars. Take Braun Strowman. While he’s been on the main roster for less than two years, he’s made an immediate impact, and the main target of that impact has almost always been Roman Reigns. Strowman had a GREAT end of 2016/beginning of 2017 and looked to be headed towards an important match at WrestleMania, but then The Undertaker showed up and he fell off. He continually backed down from The Undertaker and was relegated to the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal during the WrestleMania pre-show, where he was dumped out by almost the entire field. The next night on Raw Strowman came out to challenge the new Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, and again retreated when Lesnar non verbally proposed a throw down.

The Lesnar segment was more frustrating than the Taker one, especially after seeing the visual of Strowman and Brock face to face. I know Lesnar is a mythical figure in the WWE Universe, but Strowman towers over him, and it made very little sense for his character to back away from yet another fight. Thankfully Strowman got back to his dominating ways last night, as he absolutely destroyed Roman Reigns. There aren’t any words I can type that would do the beat down justice, so you’re better off just watching the video I embedded above. Let’s just say it starts with a shoulder tackle and ends with Strowman tipping over an actual ambulance. Braun Strowman forever.

-Ryan

People Are Petitioning For The WWE To Force Roman Reigns To Change His Gear Because Everyone Is Awful

Wrap Roman Reigns was suspended by the WWE in June for violating the company’s talent wellness policy, but that’s not what has gotten a bunch of wrestling fans riled up.

The WWE Superstar, whose real name is Joe Anoaʻi, is known for wearing signature body armor in the form of a reinforced vest that many followers think is conducive to cheating.

A Change.org petition launched Tuesday is now campaigning to slap another ban on Reigns and his “illegal” gear.

“We require swift action that prohibits the use of this body armor in all future WWE contests by Mr. Reigns and anyone else.”

Sam BFD

Terrorism. Gun violence. Two lunatics trying to become the next POTUS. But what are people focusing their time on? Roman Reigns’ ring gear. Now I’m not here to say I don’t waste my time on stupid shit. In fact, writing this article on this subject could be classified as just that. But as a wrestling fan, online fans are getting a little too big for their britches. They’ve outgrown their britches and it’s time to start focusing their energy on more productive things. The Roman Reigns hate is about a year too late, and now that we have official petitions about his ring gear, I think it’s time to retire it for good. Is he a fun guy to root for? No he is not, but if you’re booing him now you’re doing it to join a crowd instead of having an original thought. The guy is 31 years old and in the prime of his career, so you better get used to him being one of the top guys for the next 5-7 years. And if you don’t like it, change the channel or root for someone else, but for the love of all that is holy, don’t create any more petitions.

-Ryan

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