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Five Stars From #WWE #Raw (2/5/18): Asuka, Miz, Elias & More!

WWE Raw was live last night from Des Moines, Iowa. John Cena vs. Elias vs. Braun Strowman was the main event. Asuka took on Bayley in an NXT women’s championship rematch, plus there were two more Elimination Chamber qualifying bouts. 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. No One Is Ready For Asuka

WWE LOVES to give wrestlers catchphrases. John Cena says ‘you can’t see me’. Roman Reigns says the ring is ‘his yard’. Asuka’s most famous one is ‘no one is ready for Asuka’ and it’s probably the most accurate catchphrase in WWE history. Asuka retired as the undefeated NXT women’s champion, and she’s kept that streak going while on Raw. She literally hasn’t lost a match since debuting, which was in OCTOBER OF 2015. Last week she had a sensational match against Sasha Banks and followed it up with another strong win over Bayley.

This is the best Bayley has looked in awhile, and I’m glad Asuka took Bayley seriously in this match. Bayley has never defeated Asuka, but she’s come close twice, so Asuka was not messing around here. There were a ton of hard kicks and strikes, but Bayley hung around and put in a valiant effort. Asuka won in the end, because no one is ready for Asuka.

After the match Asuka shook Bayley’s hand, bringing their feud full circle. Fantastic character work.

4. The Miz vs. Apollo Crews

The second elimination chamber qualifying match (the first being Reigns vs. Wyatt which we will not speak of) saw Miz take on Apollo Crews. Before the match Miz cut a great promo, because at this point he’s incapable of doing anything else. Miz is the master of bringing up something factual but twisting it just enough to make him look like a jerk.

For example, he talked about how Raw 25 had the best ratings in three years (true) and the sole reason for that was him (not true). It’s part factual part braggadocios, and he tip toes that line wonderfully. He also talked about his daughter being born right around WrestleMania (true) while making sure the focus is still on him by saying his daughter will be born just in time to see him become the dual IC/Universal champ.

The match that followed was a great example of how Miz’s in ring skills have caught up with his mic skills. Miz understands that he only looks good beating Apollo Crews if Crews looks good in defeat. Apollo is stronger and faster than Miz, and he used those attributes to his advantage to score a few near falls on the IC champ. Miz’s main advantage is his experience, so when Crews went for one high risk move too many, Miz hung him up on the ropes. One Skull Crushing Finale later and Miz is in the Elimination Chamber match while Crews looked legit in defeat.

3. Jason Jordan Ruins Everything

Before Raw went on the air, Kurt Angle announced Jordan & Rollins would challenge The Bar for the tag titles. The stipulation was that if Jordan/Rollins lose, they’ll never get another shot at the titles as long as The Bar are champs. While Jordan reassured Rollins he’d be OK to wrestle, he backed out last minute (he is actually injured). Luckily for Rollins, Roman Reigns was able to step in and replace Jordan.

Reigns and Rollins had a good match going with The Bar until Jordan showed up at ringside. Reigns shooed him away to the back, but Jordan stuck around to temporarily block The Bar from bailing on the match. Unfortunately for Reigns and Rollins, Jordan took Cesaro’s bait and punched him, causing a DQ and allowing The Bar to retain.

I truly believe Jason Jordan is hitting his role out of the park. It sucks that he’s injured and we can’t watch him wrestle every week, but his character has continued to improve. He plays the entitled do gooder so well, and the writers continue to find unique ways for him to get involved while continuing to piss of Rollins and Reigns. Plus, The Bar holds on to the tag belts, and hopefully they’ll now move onto a fresh team.

2. Nia Jax

Nia Jax had herself quite a night. First, Kurt Angle announced that she would take on Asuka at Elimination Chamber. If Nia defeats Asuka, she will be added to the match of whichever title Asuka decides to go after at WM. She also got a nice squash win over poor Vanessa Floyd. I’m not sure why WWE doesn’t utilize these squash wins more often, but they always seem to work. Nia is a monster with a big match coming up at Elimination Chamber, so why not feed her a few easy wins and make her look like a star? They’re already doing that with Asuka beating Sasha and Bayley back to back weeks, so hopefully Nia continues to look good so their match at Elimination Chamber has the ‘either women can win’ type feel.

1. The Main Event

The main event was a ‘winner enters Elimination Chamber last’ match which I really enjoyed. The WWE has three weeks until the Chamber, so having these type of matches with a consequence attached to it is great for the build up. Too often they’ll just have the guys who will be in the chamber fight each other for no reason other than they’ll be in the same match at the PPV. Putting together this match gives each guy a reason to fight with a game plan and a sense of urgency. That’s why Cena and Elias teamed up to take out Strowman early on. They knew if they didn’t, chances are Strowman would take them both out and win the match.

I thought the finish was good too, because it gives Elias the technical advantage of entering last while reinforcing that Braun is still the most dangerous guy regardless of when he enters. I don’t know how many times WWE can give Strowman these title opportunities and not pull the trigger, but he’s ready to be the top guy. The crowd loves him, he’s turning into a super worker and has a different vibe than almost anyone else. While it’s great that he continues to dominate, eventually it’s not going to be enough that he dominates and loses. If Reigns is still the guy they want to dethrone Lesnar, Strowman needs to be the first guy up after that.

-Ryan

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064 David Copperfield Exposed, Rumble Recap and Flamethrowers

Average Nobodies Podcast

for February 1, 2018.

On today’s show we’re chatting about what we’re watching, David Copperfield, last Sunday’s Royal Rumble, this Sunday’s Super Bowl, Elon Musk’s new flamethrower & the latest on Logan Paul. You can chat with us on Twitter, toss us a like on Facebook and heart all our pictures on Instagram. Don’t forget, this podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and YouTube.

– @ryanfoges @mattfromri

The Average Nobodies Blog

Ronda Rousey & The WWE Are Perfect For Each Other

I’m an optimistic wrestling fan. That’s not something you see a lot of on social media, but I’m one of them. That”s why I think Ronda Rousey coming to the WWE is going to be fantastic. While Rousey has made only one WWE appearance it has generated a lot of reactions.

Ronda Rousey Debuts in the WWE

Firstly, let’s look at what the detractors are saying. Sasha Banks & Nia Jax are seemingly unhappy with Rousey’s arrival and subsequent spotlight. Those comments have triggered WWE fans into thinking that Rousey isn’t well liked and therefore won’t succeed. Let’s get real for a moment. This is the WWE. The athleticism, injuries and insane skill that go into being a pro wrestler are very real. Wrestlers getting fans to start conspiracy theories via Twitter and interviews are not. While I appreciate it still being real to some people, you have to think logically.

Rousey vs. The World

Nia Jax is the women’s division resident monster. Sasha Banks is The Boss. They don’t call her that because she loves giving other women the spotlight. The Nia tweet everyone is focusing on is this one. Now, would it be smart for WWE to get some feuds going via Twitter and interviews or should everyone just be ecstatic that Rousey is there? The WWE is better than almost anyone at utitlizing social media, and if Rousey is still training for her first match, why not use the power of the internet to stir the pot?

Is Rousey going to take someone’s spot? Of course she is. The same way Asuka took someone’s spot when she debuted. The same way Ember Moon took someone’s spot in the women’s royal rumble. If Rousey was in the WWE for a one and done I would understand the uproar. She’s not, as she’s signed to a multi year deal and already has great name value. I’m sorry if I don’t fall apart when she takes Bayley or Mickie James’ spot.

Maybe the dumbest ‘point’ being discussed is that Ronda Rousey will only succeed if she’s built up properly. Uhh, ya think? Same goes for literally every other man and woman that debuts on the main roster. If her character sucks and they put her in story lines that don’t maximize her strengths she will not succeed. If her character is good and they do maximize her strengths, she will succeed. Those two things have nothing to do with Ronda Rousey.

Star Power

Here’s the thing. While it’s fun to think the women’s revolution is due to contributions from past stars, it’s just not true. The reason women are in the main events of Raw, Smackdown and pay per views is because of women like Ronda Rousey. Same goes for the women’s TLC, cage, royal rumble and elimination chamber. If Rousey didn’t prove that people will pay to watch talented women fight, the WWE would not have followed suit. Rousey has legit fighting skills that will only be enhanced as she continues to train in the Performance Center. More importantly, she knows how to sell and perform in big time events.

She’s headlined multiple UFC events that have earned over 1 million PPV buys. While her career as a UFC fighter might be over, her career as a WWE star is just beginning. That’s great news for everyone involved.

-Ryan

Five Stars From #WWE #RAW (1/29/18): Road To The Elimination Chamber

WWE Raw was live from Philly last night, the same site of NXT TakeOver & the Royal Rumble. WWE LOVES to talk about the ‘E’ in their name standing for entertainment. It’s true, and entertaining the fans is a major part of their success. Last night they focused on the second ‘W’, which stands for wrestling, and turned in one of their best shows in awhile. They have such a strong roster from a wrestling standpoint that I’m surprised they don’t do more shows like this. There were seven matches last night and almost all of them served a purpose, which is all you can ask for on a three hour wrestling show. 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.

Braun Strowman, Forever & Ever

I feel like I type Braun Strowman’s name a lot in these posts, but it’s for a good reason. Braun and Lesnar duked it out for real at the Rumble and he was ready to cause more destruction last night. He fought Kane in a Last Man Standing match, which is pretty self explanatory. The only rule is that you win by beating your opponent so badly they stay down for a 10 count. Braun understands the rules of the match (which doubled as an Elimination Chamber qualifier) and beat the shit out of Kane. To ensure Kane wouldn’t get up, Braun flipped the entire announcing stage, table and all, on top of Kane. Braun flipping large objects continues to be one of my favorite things, and we even got this hysterical image out of it:

There was an was odd exchange backstage where Kurt Angle was yelling at Braun for trying to kill Kane. Even though Angle is the one who put them in a LAST MAN STANDING match. What was he supposed to do? Sit on his chest for 10 seconds and hope he doesn’t get up? If you put Braun in that kind of match, two things are going to happen. 1. Something large is going to get flipped and 2. Braun will be the one walking away.

2. Women’s Elimination Chamber

One night after the amazing inaugural women’s Rumble, Stephanie McMahon announced the first ever women’s Elimination Chamber. That’s great news for everyone except Alexa Bliss, who will have to defend her title inside the structure. The announcement opened Raw, and also gave Asuka a spotlight to enjoy her Rumble victory. I doubt she’ll be in the chamber match since she’s already the #1 contender, but I’m excited to see who earns a spot.

Reigns vs. Miz

Roman Reigns and Miz had a rematch of their very good IC title match at Raw 25. The rematch was very good, but the finish wasn’t as creative. I did like that they played off their match last week, with Miz trying to remove the middle turnbuckle again. The ref caught him this time, but Miz was still able to retain thanks to distractions from the Miz-tourage. While the distraction finish is stale as hell, I do enjoy Miz winning by pitting his strengths against Reigns’ weaknesses.

Miz’s greatest strength is the numbers game, while Reigns is the prototypical lone wolf. Technically he’s in The Shield, but he and Rollins haven’t been together in a while. Plus, he just eliminated Rollins in the rumble. While Reigns can get by on his own most of the time, Miz is just good and crafty enough to eek out a win. The crowd was super into this match as well, which always helps. Now that Reigns has lost two weeks in a row and failed to win the rumble, he’ll probably win every match for the rest of the year (not kidding).

Asuka vs. Sasha – Match of the Night

In a night full of great pro wrestling, Sasha Banks and Asuka stood above everyone. This was easily Asuka’s best main roster match, and Sasha’s best match in a long time. This really had everything. Submissions, counters, cringe worthy strikes, near falls and Sasha Banks trying to murder herself:

The move itself got saved because Asuka was countering the dive with a kick, but Jesus Christ, Sasha. She very rarely hits that move clean and she’s either overshooting it and folding herself in half or getting her foot caught in the ropes and almost decapitating herself. Sasha is way too good a performer to keep trying that move, and I’m sure she can come up something safer. I really loved this match and it put Sasha and Asuka on another level as in ring performers. I know Bliss is the champ and she’s a great character, but nobody tells a story in the ring like these two. It came down to Asuka being too talented and too resilient for Sasha, which is a lethal combination. No one is ready for Asuka.

Cena vs. Balor

John Cena took on Finn Balor in the main event. It was an elimination chamber qualifying match, and these two capped off a great night of in ring work. Balor is so solid, and he tows the line perfectly of delivering believable offense while making Cena’s moves look great. Balor put up a hell of a fight, and was only defeated when Cena hit his top rope AA. If you factor in Balor going almost an hour in the rumble last night and that he fought JOHN CENA, it makes a little bit of sense. That’s the glass half full theory.

Now, let’s talk the logical theory. I don’t like Cena beating Balor at all. I honestly don’t know what this accomplishes, especially if Cena isn’t winning the chamber match. Balor just had a memorable night in the rumble, so they follow that up by having John Cena beat him clean? It’s the same illogical booking as having Balor beat Styles in a MOTY candidate at TLC and then losing to Kane the next night on Raw. ESPECIALLY since he and the Balor Club had their ‘pass the torch’ moment with DX last week.

There’s still three Raw’s to go before Elimination Chamber, so maybe Balor still gets in, and I say that because who else would take his spot? There are three slots left, with one presumably going to Reigns. Who takes the final two? Samoa Joe is hurt. Dean Ambrose is hurt. Seth Rollins and Jason Jordan weren’t even on Raw. Kane? Apollo Crews? If you want Cena in the match, fine. Throw big match John in there. But to put him in there at the expense of Balor is insane. I hate it and it stinks.

Other notes

Elias beat Matt Hardy to earn a spot in the Elimination Chamber. Yay for Elias and silent indifference for the dead in the water Hardy/Wyatt feud.

The Coach (Jonathan Coachman) replaced Booker T on commentary. A piece of wood would have been better than Booker, but Coach was great last night. I’m excited for him moving forward.

The Revival beat Heath Slater & Rhyno. Let’s hope Raw 25 was just a tiny bump in the road for the best tag team on the main roster.

The Bar retained the tag belts in fun match against Titus O’Neil and Apollo Crews. Apollo got a chance to shine and took advantage of it. His move set is so dynamic that I’m not sure he isn’t spotlighted more often, but it was great to see last night.

The Dudley Boyz are the newest inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame. Congrats to Bubba Ray & Devon.

-Ryan

Recapping Everything That Happened At #NXTTakeOver & The WWE #RoyalRumble

If you’re a wrestling fan, chances are you watched NXT TakeOver and/or the WWE Royal Rumble this weekend. It’s the second best weekend of wrestling behind WrestleMania, and it did not disappoint. Let’s recap all the fun and important things that happened.

NXT TakeOver

TakeOver was Saturday night and featured a five match card.

Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly retained the NXT tag belts over the Authors of Pain. This match featured a lot of leg work and submission holds, which was to be expected if the champs were going to beat their monstrous challengers. The roll up win was a little underwhelming, and the Authors didn’t have the same chemistry in this match that they had with Revival or DIY.

The Velveteen Dream continues to be the best. Earlier in the night Velveteen Dream accepted the Rivalry of the Year award for his great feud with Aleister Black. He also guaranteed a 30 second KO of the knockout artist Kassius Ohno later in the night. Dream came to the ring in boxing trunks and wore a mouth guard, because he understands the little things about his character so well. While he didn’t knock Ohno out, he did pick up his first victory at a TakeOver event. We also got to see his beautiful finisher:

I’m assuming Aleister Black is next in line for an NXT title shot, but Dream should not be far behind.

Shayna Baszler is the truth. She didn’t defeat Ember Moon for the women’s title, but she made quite an impact. I loved the character work in this match. Ember is so easy to root for and sells so well. Shayna is a bully with a legit fighting background who can break you in two. If this was an MMA match, Shayna would have won. It was a pro wrestling match though, and while Shayna dominated and seemingly had Ember finished, Ember used her knowledge to eek out a win. Shayna is skilled enough to beat most wrestlers even though she’s inexperienced, but Ember has been doing this for a long time. After she was unable to escape the submission, she was able to shift her weight and cover Shayna for the three count. Once Shayna’s ring awareness catches up with her fighting skills, she’s going to be a force.

Aleister Black should be the next number one contender. Black took on Adam Cole in an Extreme Rules match with some creative spots. As expected, Cole’s stable mates Fish & O’Reilly interfered in the match but were ran off by Sanity. Black and Cole brutalized each other with Black eventually coming out on top and staying undefeated. He should be the favorite to challenge whoever is holding the NXT title during WrestleMania weekend.

Andrade Almas & Johnny Gargano had one of the best matches in NXT history. It’s easy to say something like that when the match is so fresh in your mind, but it’s the truth. This was the third match between the two, and they delivered on the highest possible level. The match featured a ton of counters and reversals since these two are so familiar with each other. Almas is turning into the best in ring performer champion NXT has had since Balor, and Gargano continues to get better. I’m glad NXT made the call for Ciampa to attack Gargano post match, because that match deserved a clean ending. We were also formally introduced to Candice LeRae, Gargano’s real life wife. After Zelina Vega continued to insert herself into the match, LeRae hopped the barrier and beat her down. Almas was still able to retain in an instant classic.

Tommaso Ciampa is back! Gargano’s former friend tag team partner showed up briefly as TakeOver was going off the air. He’s still sporting a huge knee brace from his injury last May, so it makes sense that he didn’t do anything too physical. He did wallop Gargano with a crutch though, throwing salt in the wounds of Gargano after his hard fought loss. As long as Ciampa is medically cleared, these two should steal the show at TakeOver WrestleMania weekend.

Friendly faces in the crowd at TakeOver included EC3, Ricochet & War Machine.

WWE Royal Rumble

The rumble was last night and featured six matches, including the men’s and women’s rumbles.

Let’s start with the not so good. AJ Styles retained the WWE championship over Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The Usos retained the tag titles over Gable & Benjamin. The Bar defeated Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan for the Raw tag titles. Neither of the three matches were bad, but they certainly weren’t exciting. The best match was probably the Raw tag titles bout, but they put it right after the men’s rumble. The crowd was exhausted and didn’t wake back up until Strowman and Lesnar started beating the crap out of each other. I’m glad The Bar won back the belts, because now Rollins and Jason Jordan can really start hating each other.

Styles/Owens/Zayn was disappointing, especially since the build involved so much of Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. To have the match end with a roll up after 16 minutes of boring wrestling was severely disappointing. I don’t know how you have those three in match and make it lame, but WWE pulled it off.

I predicted the Smackdown tag title match to be the match of the night. Let’s just say I was very wrong. The first fall was a ton of fun with the Usos gaining the 1-0 advantage. Instead of giving us another 10-15 minutes of tag team wrestling, the Usos won the second fall with a roll up and the match was over. It’s a cardinal sin to waste a Chad Gable tag match on a major pay per view.

Brock Lesnar pinned Kane to retain the Universal championship. Everyone knew that result was happening, but the match was still a blast. Lesnar and Strowman apparently didn’t the ‘this is fake’ memo and legitimately beat the shit of each other. Here’s an example:

This match had an incredibly frenetic pace thanks to the urgency between Lesnar and Strowman. At 11 minutes it was also the perfect length with zero dead or rest time. I would have loved for Strowman to pin Kane and then have Brock challenge him for the title at Mania, but this was still excellent.

Men & Women’s Rumble

The men’s rumble match was the best one since 2010 or 2011. The last six have not been great, and the crowds have consistently booed the winners. Last night’s match was a ton of fun and featured some great performances AND a fresh, worthy winner. The match started off with Finn Balor and Rusev, who was massively over with the Philly crowd. Both guys had great showings, with Rusev lasting 30:27 and Balor lasting almost 58 minutes. In less than excellent news, my friends and I did a rumble pool and I picked numbers 3, 19 and 29. For those who didn’t watch, that means I picked Rhino, Matt Hardy and Goldust.

The best surprise entrants were Andrade Almas, The Hurricane & Rey Mysterio. Almas had a hell of a weekend, and capped it off by lasting almost 30 minutes in the rumble. The Hurricane was a fun surprise, even if he only lasted 24 seconds. Mysterio was the biggest surprise of the night, and somehow is in the best shape of his career at 43. Kofi Kingston had one of his best Rumble saves with the help of his New Day mates and a plate of pancakes.

It wasn’t a particularly heavy elimination year, as Balor and Reigns lead the charge with 4 each. The main story was who was going to win, and this was one of the more intense final 5 minutes in rumble history. The final four were Balor, Nakamura, Cena and Reigns. It was a fantastic dynamic, as the crowd loved everything Balor and Nak did while shitting on everything Cena and Reigns did. Nak and Reigns were the final two, which was a genius move by the WWE. Nobody in that building wanted Reigns to win, so even if you don’t like Nak, you were rooting for him by default. Nak was able to overcome the Big Dog with an impressive 44:25 rumble time. If all goes right, Nakamura and AJ Styles will be fighting for the WWE title at WrestleMania.

The women’s rumble went exactly as it should have. I thought the women exceeded expectations in their first ever rumble. There are so many moving pieces in a rumble match that it’s easy to get thrown off, but the match had a great flow to it. It was also a perfect mix of current stars, NXT up and comers and former wrestlers. Similar to Finn Balor in the men’s match, Sasha Banks needed a statement making performance. With 4 eliminations and a 54:46 ring time, consider that statement made. She even tossed out Bayley late in the match, which could reignite one of the best rivalries in NXT history. Ember Moon & Kairi Sane were cool additions, and we got to see a few top rope elbow drops from the pirate princess.

As for old school entrants, my personal favorites were Lita and Trish. Vickie Guerrero was a cool surprise and we got to see some great stare downs. Beth Phoenix/Nia Jax was a great moment, and Trish and Mickie James firing it up one last time was awesome. The match belonged to Asuka though, and I’m so happy that the right person won the inaugural women’s rumble. Kudos to WWE for realizing what they have with Asuka, ESPECIALLY since it turns out someone was waiting backstage the whole time.

That’s right, Ronda Rousey officially joined the WWE last night. It would have been easy for WWE to put her at #30 and have her win, but that wouldn’t have worked for the fans. You don’t want to debut Rousey and immediately put her behind the 8 ball, so I’m glad they waited until after the match to bring her out. She didn’t say a word, but she clearly knows what to do when you’re in a WWE ring this time of year. One point at the WrestleMania sign is all it takes. For the first time in a few years, the road to WrestleMania is off to a perfect start.

-Ryan

063 THE XFL IS OFFICIALLY BACK

Average Nobodies Podcast – THE XFL IS OFFICIALLY BACK

for January 25, 2018.

On today’s show we’re chatting about the 2018 Oscar nominations, this Sunday’s Royal Rumble, Larry Nassar and the shocking return of the XFL. You can chat with us on Twitter @AverageNobodies, toss us a like on Facebook @AverageNobodies and heart all our pictures on instagram, @AverageNobodies. Don’t forget, this podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and YouTube.

Your Average Preview & Predictions For The #WWE #RoyalRumble

Wrestling fans, rejoice! All the hard work put in from post WrestleMania to now will soon be rewarded, because the 2018 Royal Rumble is this Sunday from Philadelphia. In addition to the men’s rumble, this year will feature the first ever women’s rumble. The best part? It’s the same rules as the men. 30 women, over the top rope eliminations only with the winner earning a title shot at WrestleMania.

Four title matches will round out the 4 hour event, with both rumble matches probably taking up over two hours. Without further ado, the preview and predictions for the 2018 Royal Rumble

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.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship (2 Out Of Falls): The Usos (C) vs. Gable & Benjamin

Royal Rumble

Photo: WWE

From a pure wrestling standpoint, the two tag title matches should absolutely steal the show. The one with less shenanigans will probably be the better of the two, so I’m picking that one to be the Smackdown match. The Usos have been as good as it gets for almost a year now, and their transition to the ‘day one’ characters has really paid off. They put on a slew of classic matches with New Day, and now they’re matched up against Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin. While Gable & Benjamin haven’t been teaming long, they’re both tag team specialists. American Alpha were one of my favorite teams in NXT, while The World’s Greatest Tag Team had that name that for a reason.

The last time these two teams met there was some controversy, so hopefully WWE lets them have a 3 fall classic this time. I’m going to start with an upset pick.

Prediction: Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin

Raw Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs. The Bar

Royal Rumble

Photo: WWE

The team of Rollins and Jordan has been an odd one. It’s not often that a team wins the tag titles on the first night they’re paired together, but that’s exactly what happened Christmas Day. With Dean Ambrose on the shelf for awhile, The Shield has dissolved for the time being. Reigns was doing his own thing as IC champ (before losing on Raw) while Rollins and Jordan have formed an uneasy partnership. I’ve really enjoyed the Jordan character during this run. He’s dorky and annoying and obnoxious, but he doesn’t quite know it yet. Combine that with his skill level in the ring and you have a character with some promise.

On the other side you have The Bar, a team forged out of toughness and competitiveness. They’re a much better team than Rollins/Jordan, but they haven’t figured out how to beat them yet. I don’t know how long Rollins and Jordan will be partners, but I do want to see The Bar feud with The Revival. If that feud happens over the tag belts, that would be even better.

Prediction: The Bar.

WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Royal Rumble

Photo: WWE

Under any other circumstance, if you put Styles, Owens & Zayn in a WWE title match, it’s aces. Unfortunately the build for this has been lackluster, mostly because Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan have been heavily involved. When you have three guys with this much talent, you don’t need to add in an authority figure angle too.

If they stick with Owens/Zayn as the heels, they should definitely win. From there you could have them be co-champions and continue to sarcastically piss off the fans and Shane. The only problem with that is the fans don’t want to hate Sami and Kevin when they’re together. They don’t want to hate Styles either, but it wouldn’t be too hard to turn him into an overconfident dick. Add in Shane helping Styles win, and you have a new “corporate champion”. Plus, Owens aligned with two of the easiest to root for good guys would be a great foe for Styles.

This isn’t the worst situation to be in, especially with the talent involved. But sometimes less is more, and I think people would be much more excited for a classic triple threat match.

Prediction: AJ Styles

WWE Universal Title Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane

Photo: WWE

Raise your hand if you’re excited for a Kane title match in 2018? No hands? Good. I’ll be the first to admit that Strowman vs. Lesnar was not great at No Mercy. If you think adding Kane to that match is going to make it better, you deserve to be tarred and feathered.

Braun is as ready as anyone to be Universal champion. He’s been ready since he flipped Roman Reigns’ ambulance. In a perfect world, he would pin Kane here and WWE would spend the next 2+ months building the third and final match between he and Lesnar at Mania. Also in this perfect world, Roman Reigns doesn’t exist. As great as Lesnar is, his time as champ should be coming to a close. Raw is a three hour show every week, and the champ needs to be there more consistently. Unfortunately, I don’t think his reign ends here.

Prediction: Kane. LOL. Just kidding, Lesnar retains, hopefully by beating Kane so badly he becomes mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match

Royal Rumble

Photo: WWE

This a huge and overdue accomplishment for the women of the WWE. I don’t think I’m alone in saying the division is not where it needs to be, but it absolutely deserves some of these spotlight matches. There are 18 participants listed for the match, which leaves 12 spots open for legends/NXT women. If I had to split that 6/6, here are the 12 I’d choose.

NXT – The Iconic Duo (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce), Nikki Cross, Ember Moon, Shayna Baszler & Kairi Sane

Legends/Surprises – Trish Stratus, Michelle McCool, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly with my two dream spots going to AJ Lee and Ronda Rousey

The NXT picks speak for themselves. The Iconic Duo are the best pure characters in NXT and should have been on the main roster months ago. Nikki Cross is the most exciting/unpredictable woman in NXT, which is perfect for a Rumble match. Ember Moon is the NXT women’s champ, while Shayna Baszler is the #1 contender. Kairi Sane is the exciting new recruit who has a championship reign in her near future.

Trish, Michelle, Torrie and Kelly were all at Raw 25. It would make sense to have all of them in the rumble, although I won’t be upset/surprised if they pick other women from the Attitude Era and beyond. Same goes for AJ and Rousey. AJ is more of a long shot than Ronda, but Rousey is the only surprise that could be brought in and win the match.

I love Asuka and think she should enter at 1 and eliminate the other 29 women, but Ronda Rousey is a worldwide attraction. It’ll definitely piss off the die hard fans if she wins over Asuka, but I’d understand it from a business perspective. She’s also different from your average celebrity, as she has the real life fighting credentials to back up any win(s) she picks up. On the other hand, Asuka is the most unique performer they have, and should be fighting for or defending the women’s title at WrestleMania.

Prediction: Asuka.

Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Royal Rumble

Photo: WWE

There are 17 participants listed for the men’s rumble match. That leaves 13 spots open for current roster members, NXT guys and legends.

There will be definitely be more main roster guys added. The first three names that come to mind are Roman Reigns, US champ Bobby Roode and a returning Dolph Ziggler. With Enzo Amore fired and the Cruiserweight title up in the air, you could add guys like Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali and Drew Gulak. Other fillers could be Curt Hawkins, Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows.  Hopefully NXT guys like Lars Sullivan and Kassius Ohno are given a shot, too. I don’t know if WWE will bring back any legends for this, but I don’t think they’re needed. If you add the names I listed you’d have 28 and there are always guys who fight earlier in the night who end up pulling double duty.

Regardless of how WWE rounds out the 30, there are only a handful of guys who could win. My list would be Finn Balor, Roman Reigns, Shinsuke Nakamura and Dolph Ziggler. Dolph is definitely the longest shot, but hopefully they’ve been keeping him off TV this long for a reason. Roman is the most obvious choice, especially after dropping the IC belt on Raw. The most intriguing choices are Balor and Nakamura. They’re so close to being breakout stars, and a rumble win plus being in a major title match at Mania could be exactly what they need.

Prediction: Head – Roman Reigns. Heart – Finn Balor.

-Ryan

 

 

WWE Officially Announced The Location Of The 2019 Royal Rumble

The 2018 Royal Rumble is this Sunday from crazy town Philadelphia. To get everyone in the spirit WWE announced the date and location of next year’s show. It’s a doozy.

2019 WWE Royal Rumble Announcement

WWE today announced that Chase Field in Phoenix will host Royal Rumble on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. This marks WWE’s debut at Chase Field and the first time that the Royal Rumble has ever been held at a baseball stadium.

In addition, as part of Royal Rumble Weekend, Phoenix will host the following events at Talking Stick Resort Arena:

NXT TakeOver (Saturday, Jan. 26)
Monday Night Raw (Monday, Jan. 28)
SmackDown LIVE (Tuesday, Jan. 29) – WWE.COM

While holding big events in smaller venues has it’s charm, I’m a fan of the big arenas. Or is this case, outdoor baseball parks. Chase Field is home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, and it’s gorgeous.

Royal Rumble

Photo; Pinterest

Pro wrestling at baseball stadiums isn’t a new idea, and there have been some iconic moments in the past. It is new for modern day WWE however, and it’ll be interesting to see how they figure out the logistics. Another cool part of WWE’s marketing strategy is how the Rumble is more than a one day affair. NXT TakeOver will be the night before, while Raw and Smackdown will be the Monday & Tuesday after. Those three shows will take place at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, which housed last year’s Elimination Chamber.

Make sure to stayed tuned to our site as I’ll have previews and predictions for TakeOver and the Rumble on Friday.

-Ryan

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