If This Fan Photo Is To Be Believed, Rusev May Be Hurt & Out Of His IC Title Match At Elimination Chamber #WWE
He’s injured 👀 pic.twitter.com/mUpfaLelG4
— Leah (@_BellaFam) May 27, 2015
So Rusev hasn’t had the best couple of months. He’s lost to John Cena at three straight pay per views, his Ravishing Russian Lana has left him for Dolph Ziggler, and now he’s probably hurt and won’t be able to fight for the IC title at Elimination Chamber. For a guy who was once one of the best guys on the roster and who rode to the ring at WrestleMania on a god damn tank, this is just a series of bad things happening that I hope he can recover from. WWE has this terrible habit of building someone up so high that the inevitable fall is just as bad, and that’s what happened with Rusev. Losing to Cena three pay per views in a row doesn’t help, but that’s the norm nowadays. If he’s hurt, I wish him a speedy recovery, and if its just a precaution, I hope he crushes everyone and wins the IC title this Sunday.
WWE Extreme Rules takes place live this Sunday FOR FREE on the WWE Network in Rosemont, Illinois. For a filler pay per view, it’s a pretty stacked card with 8 matches, including a few with Extreme Rules stipulations. Every major title (for now*) is being defended, so let’s get to the preview and predictions!
WWE Tag Team Championship Match: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (C) vs. New Day
New Day has been on a roll lately (words I never thought I’d write) thanks to their new found strategy of winning by any means necessary. They are on the slow build to becoming a very good heel tag team, and I’m glad they’re finally taking advantage of having three guys at ringside at all times. They’re not ‘bad guys’ as much as they’re opportunists, and they’re using the crowds disdain for them as an advantage. If the crowd keeps telling you that you suck, you can either pack your shit up and never be heard from again or you can use that hate to motivate you. New Day is employing the latter strategy, and I’m glad, because Big E and Kofi have always been fun to watch in the WWE. Cesaro and Kidd have zero momentum going into Extreme Rules, but it looks like they’ll be working as the good guys in this match. I don’t know if a title change is in order, but the tag team division is clearly an afterthought in the WWE right now, so unless a Give Tag Teams A Chance hash tag starts trending, the winners of this match don’t really matter.
Prediction: I’m going with Cesaro and Kidd, because they’re wonderful together and should be Tag Team Champs forever.
WWE Divas Championship Match: Nikki Bella (C) vs. Naomi
AJ Lee retired, Paige is filming a movie and the rest of the Divas that aren’t the Bella’s are in limbo, so Naomi has been boosted up to the #1 contender slot, and she’s doing a great job with it. Similar to the New Day, Naomi isn’t your classic heel. She’s proven herself over and over again, yet opportunities and title shots have consistently been given to other Divas. Instead of sitting back and waiting her turn, she created an opportunity for herself, and now she’s one pinfall or submission away from being the Diva’s champion. The WWE creative team is ass backwards most of the time, so why not call them out on it? It makes storyline sense, and it gives a Diva more personality than she’s had for her entire career. I think a Bella Twins split is long overdue, so hopefully some seeds are planted for that here and Naomi walks out the champ.
Prediction: Naomi, who becomes the first former dinosaur woman to ever hold the Divas title.
Last Man Standing Match: Big Show vs. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns wins the Royal Rumble to become the #1 contender for Brock Lesnar’s title. He beats Daniel Bryan in the main event at Fast Lane to maintain that #1 contender’s spot. He co-main events WrestleMania with Brock Lesnar, only to lose when Seth Rollins cashes in his MITB briefcase. How does he get rewarded for his four month reign of dominance, featuring the best two matches of his career? A Last Man Standing Match with the Big Show. I don’t know if the WWE is intentionally trying to cool off Reigns, but going from wrestling in the main event of WrestleMania for the WWE Championship to wrestling the Big Show in a mid card gimmick match is not the progression you want from the future of your company. The WWE did the same thing last year with Daniel Bryan. Instead of giving him a fresh feud after he won the belt at Mania, he got attacked by Kane and thrown into a pointless angle that STILL hasn’t been resolved. Big Show and Roman Reigns feuded late last year, Roman won, end of story. Why is he fighting Big Show again less than a month after main eventing WrestleMania? I don’t get it, and I fully expect this match to be a stinker.
Prediction: Roman Reigns buries the Big Show alive even though that’s not the stipulation. He just needs this feud to end.
Chicago Street Fight: Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose
This is my pick for the match of the night. Two guys with nothing to lose, wearing the same clothes, just going out there and beating the shit out of each other. No zany hot dog stand antics from Ambrose; I want steel chairs, barb wired baseball bats, whatever else he can find. You can’t nickname someone the Lunatic Fringe then have him act like your drunk uncle. He needs to be a legit maniac, which doesn’t seem too far off from the actual Dean Ambrose’s personality. Harper is just trooping along, and continues to have great matches with everyone he’s put in the ring with. The story here is that Harper put Ambrose through a ladder at Mania then a table on Smackdown, and Ambrose wants revenge. I hope these two go out all here, and the Rosemont crowd should eat it up.
Prediction: Ambrose really needs to get going, so I’ll go with him here.
Kiss Me Arse Match: Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler
When I hear the words ‘Extreme Rules’, I don’t think of one man kissing another man’s ass, but maybe that’s just me. Sheamus returned after months away from the ring with a badass theme song, a silly haircut, twisty tied beard hair and a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t think guys like Ziggler and Neville belong in the same ring as him, and he’s going to prove it. By…making Ziggler kiss his ass? Stipulation aside, this should be a great match. I’m not looking forward to either guy kissing the other guy’s ass, but Sheamus works best when guys are willing to take a beating, and nobody takes a beating like Dolph Ziggler. Between this match and Ambrose/Harper, I’m more invested in the mid card non title matches than I am the US or WWE Championships, and that is 100% due to the performers involved. You know they’re going to give you all they have, and they’re proving you don’t need a title to get people invested in a feud.
Prediction: Sheamus’s first pay per view match since returning should result in a win. With that said, If I see his bare white ass, I will not be happy.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (C) vs. Bad News Barrett
How I feel every time I read a Daniel Bryan health update.
*I highly doubt this match will happen, since the latest report is that Bryan will be out for up to 5 weeks. I doubt they’ll strip him of the title since Bryan should only miss Extreme Rules and possibly Payback, so maybe Barrett issues an open challenge in the name of wanting to fight someone. My pick would be for a solid Neville vs. Barrett match with Neville picking up the win, thus making him a legit challenger for the IC title which should be his logical progression in my opinion. Neville already pinned Barrett on Smackdown in a tag match, so two wins over a #1 contender should get him a shot sooner rather than later. Also, Bryan vs. Neville is something I’d love to see before Bryan’s head falls off.
Russian Chain Match For The US Title: John Cena (C) vs. Rusev
Everything leading up to Extreme Rules seems like it should end with a Cena win Sunday. Rusev attacked him from behind twice with a Russian chain, the second time putting him in the Accolade with said chain. Cena beat Rusev at Mania, but ever since, Rusev has had the upper hand. USUALLY when that happens, the hero, in this case Cena, will get his revenge and win. The only problem with that theory is that if John Cena is going to lose a match, it’s going to be because someone cheated or because of a fluky stipulation. While a normal Russian Chain Match is just a match were you’re allowed to use the chain, this specific match also included the stipulation where you can win by touching all four corners while chained to your opponent. My Spidey senses are tingling with this added stipulation, because this is a perfect scenario for Cena to lose without being pinned or forced to submit. On the other hand, this is also a way for Cena to retain the title without Rusev losing clean on back to back pay per views. Lana played a key role in their Mania match, so will she do the same here?
Prediction: Death, Taxes and John Cena successfully defending a WWE title belt. Those are the three certainties in life.
Steel Cage Match For The WWE Championship (RKO Is Banned): Seth Rollins (C) vs. Randy Orton
The logical next step in the Seth Rollins title reign would be to face Randy Orton, and I’m glad WWE went this route. Orton beat Rollins clean at Mania, so now that Rollins is the champion, why shouldn’t Orton get a chance to prove that he can do it again? Rollins is excelling in his role as the weasel champion, and it’s funny that the two guys left to defend him are smaller than he is. The power of stealing the show and winning the title during the main event of WrestleMania is clearly going to his head, and the people who helped put him there (HHH and Kane) don’t seem as keen on the Future of the WWE as they once were. Orton is sliding into the #1 contender’s slot at the perfect time, because Rollins has never been so vulnerable. With Kane as the Gate Keeper or whatever the hell it’s called, it’s almost a certainty that he’ll influence the end of the match. Rollins win was such a triumph at Mania that I can’t imagine he’d lose the belt already, and I think Kane will come to his senses Sunday and help the champ retain.
Prediction: Seth Rollins. The only way I want to see his title reign end is in a puddle of blood and urine at the hands of Brock Lesnar.
As always, we’ll be live tweeting Extreme Rules over @averagenobodies. Join us Sunday night!
Raw was overseas last night and it was a solid show overall from the O2 arena in London. A few matches were finalized with ‘Extreme Rules’ stipulations, and is FANDANGO BACK? (no) Let’s get to the 5 Stars from last night’s Raw.
1. Home Field Advantage
One of my favorite things that happen on a wrestling show is wrestlers wrestling in front of a hometown or home country crowd. It’s not the 1980s anymore, and the days of wrestlers being billed from ‘Parts Unknown’ or ‘Hell’ are long gone. Wade Barrett and Paige are actual people from actual places. So when BNB comes out and gets cheered for his match against John Cena, the WWE should use that to their advantage. At this point in Cena’s title reign, it’s pretty much set in stone that he’s not going to lose to Barrett on Raw, but the crowd is into the near falls and it makes the match much more exciting. Same thing goes for Paige. She gets the biggest ovation out of any of the Divas, and get to cut a great post match promo talking about her journey for wrestling at carnivals to winning a match at WrestleMania. Naomi’s turn and attack on Paige is enhanced because Paige is in front of her home country crowd, and WWE addressing the fact that she’s from England helps that immensely.
2. The US Title Open Challenge
I also love the Open Challenge idea, because when Cena does lose, it will not only come as a shock, but it will immediately elevate whoever he loses to. Ambrose, Stardust and now BNB. Cena is elevating the title and making these guys look good in the process. One small complaint is that every match has had the same style so far, and after awhile people kicking out of the Attitude Adjustment might do more harm than good. It’s exciting for the false finish, but I’d like to see Cena switch it up and wrestle a different style of match that doesn’t involve him kicking out of a guy’s finisher and then in turn that same guy kicking out of the AA. In what is going to be a running theme in this write up, wins and losses don’t matter if it’s being booked correctly. BNB, Ambrose and Stardust losing to Cena help them out more than beating the bums of the WWE. Ambrose beat Adam Rose and Stardust beat Fandango, but both of them looked better in loses to Cena than in victory last night.
3. Rusev And His Russian Chain
A personal highlight from last night’s show was Rusev showing up with a RUSSIAN CHAIN and knocking John Cena out cold. I’ve mentioned it before, but I love when wrestling villains are actual villains. Cena is exhausted after a tough match against BNB, so Rusev sends Lana out on the ramp to distract Cena and attack him from behind with a chain. The Russian flag drops from the ceiling and Rusev stands over Cena’s crushed body. That’s what a villain SHOULD do, and I’m glad they’re going all the way with Rusev. It’s impossible for the smart audience not to cheer him against Cena, but adding some heel tendencies to his character will help him in the long run.
After Paige won the Battle Royal, Naomi attacked and mauled her outside the ring. Later during the show, she cut a promo on the entire Diva’s division that was one of the most logical statements made in a long time. Naomi was in the same rookie class as AJ Lee, yet AJ has had 3 Diva’s title reigns and now that she’s retired, she’s considered a legend. Naomi has pinned Nikki Bella numerous times over the past few weeks, yet had to enter a Battle Royal just to get a title shot. The WWE creative team is so screwy that they should take advantage of it and let the Divas or any other superstar call them out on it when things are being booked so idiotically. Naomi was finally given a personality and immediately sky rocketed up the Diva’s ranks in my opinion. Her athleticism was never a question, but when you give her something more than “Funkadactyl or Usos’ wife’ to work with from a character standpoint, she’s going to bring it home.
5. Dolph Ziggler v. Neville
So Neville has been on the main roster for three weeks, and he’s already progressed more than half of the roster who’ve been there for years. The internet wrestling community is obsessed with wins and losses, so naturally there’s already talk of how bad ‘Neville is being buried’. My only response to that is that I’d rather Neville lose back to back to weeks to Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler in competitive matches than have him beat the Curtis Axel’s or Fandango’s of the world. Let me ask a question: who looked better last night: Stardust or Neville? Stardust won over Fandango, Neville lost to Ziggler, but I guarantee most people don’t even remember the Stardust/Fandango match. Wins and losses don’t mean anything in the world of wrestling if the matches and feuds are booked right. Neville has proven he can hang against both Rollins and Ziggler, and he would’ve beat the WWE World Champion if it wasn’t for J and J Security. So yeah, Neville is fine, and he looked great again last night. That 450 splash from the ring barricade was insane, and there’s really no one like Neville on the WWE roster. He’s the total package, and pairing him with Ziggler was a great choice. Ziggler is the best seller on the roster, and that Brogue Kick on the outside from Sheamus was brutal. I can live in world where Sheamus/Ziggler/Neville are feuding with each other.
Well, the day is finally upon us. WrestleMania 31 is this Sunday from Levi’s Stadium in California, and we have four hours of wrestling/sports entertainment to look forward to. Kings vs. Icons, Beasts vs. Juggernauts, Adam Rose and Zack Ryder in a Battle Royal; WrestleMania 31 pretty much has something for everyone. Like I’ve been doing before every pay per view, I’ll be previewing each match on the Mania card then giving my expert* opinion on who I think will win. Let’s get to it!
Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro/Kidd (C) vs. Los Matadores vs. New Day vs. The Usos
Preview: Cesaro and Kidd have been the lone bright spot on the tag team scene recently, but it’s clear WWE thinks of the division as a wasteland of sorts. Los Matadores and The New Day spent the last few months losing to everyone under the sun, but are in a tag team title match at WrestleMania because…? I really can’t answer that question, and as bad as Los Matadores and New Day have been, The Uso’s aren’t that much better. You can’t have a solid tag team division with one good team, so unless the WWE revamps it’s current teams or inserts new ones, the tag team matches will be relegated to the pre show match on pay per views for the foreseeable future. In a perfect world the bell would ring and Natalya would power bomb El Torito through a table, then Cesaro and Kidd would massacre all three teams with a combination of swings, dropkicks and uppercuts. While that probably won’t happen, Cesaro and Kidd are the only hope of a tag team renaissance, so I’m going with them.
Prediction: Kidd & Cesaro, maybe pinning the other six guys at the same time. The only benefit of having a shitty tag team division is that it’s impossible for anyone to look worse by taking a loss in this match.
AJ Lee & Paige vs. Nikki & Brie Bella
Preview: Paige and Nikki Bella had the match of the night on Raw (don’t adjust your computer screens, you read that correctly) and I was hoping the teased tension between AJ and Paige would lead to a Divas Title match at Mania instead of the tag team bout, but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. Ever since Give Diva’s A Chance started trending, it was clear that the WWE would be making the Diva’s division a priority, similar to how they are portrayed in NXT. It’s jarring sometimes to remember that NXT and WWE are pretty much the same company, and its sad that it took a worldwide hash tag for the higher ups to realize that women’s wrestling should be an important part of their show. This match is pretty much a battle of the internet’s darlings vs. WWE’s vision of women wrestlers. The Bella’s are pretty much models that have been trained to wrestle, while AJ and Paige are wrestling first Diva’s who most of the audience can get behind because the genuinely love what they do. While the Bella’s have made great strides (Nikki especially) in the last half year or so, they’ll never get the smart fans support over a Paige or AJ.
Prediction: I think AJ and Paige will continue to bicker which leads to a Bella’s WrestleMania win, and most likely a triple threat title scenario post Mania depending on NXT call ups.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Preview: While last year’s Battle Royal became a welcome surprise with Cesaro’s impressive win, this year’s build was lacking in a lot of ways. The only storylines going into the match is the tension between Miz and Mizdow and the Twitter feud between Adam Rose and Zack Ryder. The rest of the match is filled up by teams who didn’t make it into the tag team pre show match and big guys that WWE loves to use in Battle Royal scenarios like Ryback, Mark Henry, Big Show and Kane. WWE also hurt themselves by not pushing the winner of last year’s match, thus making it seem like nothing really changes if you win the Battle Royal. If Cesaro had been pushed and made into an important player following his win, then the winner of this match would be looking forward to something more than just a trophy. It’ll be interesting to see which NXT star gets a slot in this match, as whoever wins the battle royal at tonight’s live event will be awarded the spot. My money is on Adrian Neville, and if it is him, I hope they give him a mini showcase because his athleticism is unmatched. Sheamus is definitely returning at Mania, and I think it’s in this match, and that he may appear later in the show as well (hopefully not), so at least we have that to look forward to.
Prediction: Sheamus returns and wins, and hopefully we get some kind of payoff between Miz and Mizdow, which leads to a pay per view match(s) down the line.
Ladder Match For The IC Title: Wade Barrett (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth
Preview: Up until Monday’s Raw, this was the match with the best lead up. I think WWE played all their cards before Monday’s Raw, including the gauntlet match and 6 man tag, so by the time Monday rolled around they didn’t really have anything new to do. With that said, this match seems like its can’t miss. You have seven of the best young guys on the roster with something to prove going for a mid card title that desperately needs validation. You have perennial show stealers in Daniel Bryan and Ziggler, incredibly underrated workhorse Luke Harper, crazy man Dean Ambrose and two solid yet under appreciated guys in Stardust and Barrett. R-Truth is R-Truth, but he’s surrounded by the seven other guys, so I imagine they’ll be able to cover for him. If the WWE is serious about elevating the mid card belts, then Bryan has to win here. Of the guys with an actual chance of winning, he’s the only one who hasn’t had a long reign with a mid card title. Ziggler and Barrett have had the IC belts before and couldn’t elevate, and Ambrose had the US belt FOREVER and couldn’t elevate that. Give the strap to Bryan, and use the next 6 months to a year feuding him with any of the other guys in this match and you’ll have a revitalized IC division.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan, as long as WWE conceals it’s hard on to feud Sheamus with DB and have him cost Bryan the match.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Previw: This is the only match on the card where I’m 100% certain the young up and comer will win against the veteran. With Cena/Rusev, Wyatt/Undertaker and Lesnar/Reigns, it’s not certain if any of the young guys will actually win their match, but I think Rollins does here. Orton already got his revenge on Rollins a few weeks ago with that long brawl to end Raw, but now he wants to ends ‘the future of the WWE’ for good. I just think Rollins has too many weapons at his disposal. He’s a superb wrestler, and all it takes is one distraction from J & J Security or any other member of The Authority and Orton will be eating a curb stomp. Rollins and Orton are pretty evenly matched, and I know this match is going to deliver, and it might not be the last time you see Seth Rollins make an appearance on the show.
Prediction: Rollins wins via some kind of distraction from The Authority.
United States Championship Match: Rusev (C) vs. John Cena
Preview: The internet is just waiting to explode after this match, but the way WWE has set it up, it’s almost impossible for John Cena to lose. I disagree with the build, and the result of their match at Fast Lane, but it’s time to face the facts: John Cena is winning the US title at WrestleMania. Before I get into whether this loss will crush Rusev, let’s look at the positives here. John Cena is not in the main event or the WWE championship picture, which is always a breath of fresh air. If he wins, Cena becomes the US Champ, and he elevates the title more than anyone else has in the recent past. Depending on how good Rusev looks, Cena beats an unbeatable villain, which is pretty much what his character has been about since he won his first title from JBL at WrestleMania 21. Cena got choked out at Fast Lane, choked out on Raw and has let down America while Rusev has continued to stand tall. In the world of pro wrestling, this feud has to culminate with the good guy winning on the biggest stage. Unfortunately for us, the good guy here is John Cena because America and little kids says so. As for Rusev, a loss here to the pretty much unbeatable Cena isn’t the worst thing IF the WWE handles it properly. If Rusev loses, he should destroy everyone in his path post Mania and beat Cena clean somewhere down the road to regain the title. If they handle Rusev like they did Wyatt last year, having him only settle the score with Cena by outside interference and children singing then he’s in trouble. I’ll wait and see what happens with Rusev before I judge this match, but I’d bet my house on Cena leaving Mania with the US title
Prediction: John Cena wins, the American flag is somehow involved and Rusev retreats to the back a broken man.
Sting vs. HHH
Preview: This is one of those weird matches that I can’t wait to see but at the same time don’t care about the outcome. Neither guy at this point in their career is going to be affected by a win or a loss, but it’s still going to be cool to see Sting have his WrestleMania moment. Besides Wyatt and The Undertaker, Sting’s entrance is the one I’m most looking forward to. The WWE is the king of revisionist history, and since they won the Monday Night Wars, what they say happened, happened. Sting was the franchise guy in WCW, but by the time the company was bought out in 2001, the ship had been sinking for a long time. HHH is pretty much the last guy standing from the Attitude Era guys of the mid to late 90s, so it makes sense to have him be the one to confront the outsider Sting. We know HHH can still go, as he had one of his best matches ever last year vs. Daniel Bryan, and from the little we’ve seen of Sting in a WWE ring, it looks like he’ll be just fine Sunday too. I can’t imagine this feud lasts longer than Sunday night, which makes it a little more interesting considering how serious WWE takes itself when it comes to beating WCW.
Prediction: As I said before, the outcome of this match should be an after thought; Sting is getting his WrestleMania moment, which he deserves. I think Sting wins, and HHH continues his losing streak at WrestleMania.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker
Preview: First off, holy hell what a promo video by the WWE. Even when they’re at their worst, they are the absolute best at hype videos. Now, onto the match. Win or lose, I think this is the feud that keeps Wyatt in the main event scene for years to come, which is funny because The Undertaker hasn’t even shown up yet. Wyatt has literally carried this feud with his promos, and capped it off Monday night on Raw with one of his best promos ever, seemingly summoning The Undertaker’s supernatural powers and once and for all declaring himself the New Face of Fear. I’ve written about this before, but this is unchartered territory for The Undertaker. He’s never re appeared in the WWE after a WrestleMania loss, so it almost makes this match impossible to predict. It’s anyone guess as to how he’ll look, and even though we’ve seen pictures of him training, it still remains to be seen how much he’ll be able to do in the ring. It says a lot about how the WWE views Wyatt that they’re putting him in a marquee matchup with ‘Taker, and I think this is where Wyatt gets the WrestleMania moment he should have gotten last year. I understand Cena winning this year, as you’ve got the built in storyline of America vs. Russia, and his win could actually do a lot of good for the mid card division, where as last year’s win vs. Wyatt did nothing for him. I think Wyatt becomes the modern day Undertaker, and his coronation ceremony will be Sunday night.
Prediction: The Undertaker passes the torch to Bray Wyatt, and we officially have a new face of fear.
WWE Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns
Preview: Ever since Brock announced on Sportscenter Tuesday night that he’d be staying with the WWE, I’ve been tossing this match around in my head. If Brock left, Reigns would win, and the WWE would be in a big mess. Reigns is a future star, but I don’t think the future is this Sunday. Now that Brock has re signed and actually come off as a likeable guy, he’s going to be immensely cheered on Sunday, which leaves only a swarm of boos to greet Roman Reigns as he enters from the crowd (or a helicopter, fingers crossed). There’s a few ways this could go down, and I’ll start with the least likely and end with the most likely. Brock eviscerating Reigns a la Cena at Summerslam, continuing to be the most dominant champion in modern history. I can’t see this happening because it wastes the build up of Reigns, and immediately knocks him way down the card. Same goes for Reigns murdering Lesnar. Having him cake walk through your most dominant champion of the modern era will not only make the fans turn on Reigns, but it discredits all those who Lesnar beat as well. Heyman turns on Brock to help Reigns win. As cool as that would be, with Brock sticking around for a few more years, I can’t see Heyman swerving Brock this early into his new contract, but it’s definitely a possibility. Brock wins clean, and Seth Rollins cashes in his MITB briefcase. Rollins has had his briefcase long enough, and unless they’re planning a Ziggler type cash in the next night on Raw, I think he does it Sunday night, which leads me to my prediction for the main event of WrestleMania 31:
Prediction: Reigns takes a beating, but ultimately beats Brock for the WWE Championship. Rollins cashes in and you have the built in feud of former Shield buddy’s duking it out for the world title. The loss sends Brock on a war path and creates new and exciting feuds for the Beast Incarnate. I think Rollins cashes in to end the show, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it happened to either Brock or Reigns, but for the sake of making a pick, I’m going with Reigns.
Every WrestleMania, our friend creates a special WrestleMania sheet that makes things a little more interesting. The gist of it is everyone puts in $5, and you pick who you think is going to win each match and how that person is going to win. 1 point is awarded for each correct answer, with two possible points available for each match (For the Battle Royal and Ladder match, you get 2 points for picking the winner, since there’s only one way to win). For example, if you pick Sting to win via pinfall, and Sting wins via pinfall, you get two points. At the end of the show you tally up the points and the person with the most points wins the money. If you’d like to play along, you can check out the sheet at this link: http://bit.ly/1EYx3sa
We’ll be tweeting along with all the action this Sunday @averagenobodies. Give us a follow and enjoy the best night of the year.
5 Stars From Last Night’s #RAW & The Unnecessary Hole The WWE Has Dug Themselves For The Main Event of WrestleMania
The final Raw before WrestleMania aired last night from Los Angeles, and for the most part was a pretty solid show. Every WrestleMania match has been made, so Raw served as a platform to tie up any loose ends and get the final fight/promo out of the way before WWE’s biggest show of the year. Just like last week, all hands were on deck, including Sting and Brock Lesnar, and one of them was utilized correctly while the other one still has me puzzled. I’m going to make this a joint article with the regular five star setup followed by what happened to close Raw.
1. This IS Sting
Sting opened up Monday Night Raw last night and it was a breath of fresh air. I can’t remember the last time someone other than a member of The Authority started Raw, so not only was Sting a sight for sore eyes, but he had a lot of energy and finally explained why he was in the WWE. Stephanie McMahon is so evil and played her role pitch perfectly, including the damsel in distress after her slap backfired. It’s clear by it’s use both as Fast Lane and last night’s Raw that the sledgehammer and the baseball bat will come into play for Sting and HHH’s match at Mania, but how that will happen is anyone’s guess at this point. Not only is Sting in great shape, but he really seems to be enjoying himself. He’s at the stage in his career where he’s going to get a huge pop no matter what arena he walks into, and I fully expect Levi’s Stadium in San Fran to blow the imaginary roof off the stadium on Sunday. If he can, I’d love for Sting to stick around for one more year and finish his career off in Dallas for next year’s Mania, but for now I’m going to enjoy him Stinger Splashing HHH on Sunday.
2. Have Yourselves A Match Nikki & Paige
Raise your hand if heading into Raw you thought Nikki Bella and Paige would have the match of the night. Raise your hand if halfway through Raw you thought Nikki Bella and Paige would have the match of the night on the same show that included Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler. I’m assuming no one has their hands raised. This isn’t a knock on Nikki or Paige or any of the Divas, but the WWE hasn’t exactly inspired us with confidence when it comes to the Divas division. Nikki and Paige were given enough time to tell a story and have a solid match, and look what happened: they told a story and had a solid match! I’m hoping this will lead to a Fatal Four Way or Triple Threat match for the Diva’s title at Mania, because not having the championship defended at your biggest show isn’t right. If the match stays as is, they should have enough time to at least have a good match (it is a 4 hour show), and I expect Paige and AJ to feud shortly after Mania.
Besides the Diva’s match, my other personal highlight was Rusev killing Jack Swagger and John Cena. Props to Michael Cole for pointing out that Lana is usually the one who stops Rusev from going too far post match, but since she’s not here, he’s basically a monster without a leash. I fully expected Cena to come down to the ring and toss Rusev around and leave him running up the ramp, but NOPE. Rusev just forearmed him in the face, threw him into the barricade and camel clutched him until he passed out. My only complaint was that he didn’t drape the Russian flag over Cena’s lifeless body afterwards. The pessimist in wrestling fans came out last night when people started tweeting that now Cena is definitely going to win at Mania. How about we enjoy the show guys? Maybe Cena wins, maybe he doesn’t. The key to Rusev will be how he responds to his match at Mania, and while a loss will definitely hurt him, if he comes back strong he’ll be fine in the long run. I really hope he is fine in the long run, because he is far and away my favorite character on the show right now.
4. Bray Wyatt
Welp, there’s a new face of fear. This was SO GOOD. SO GOOD CAPTIAL LETTERS EXCLAMATION POINT. When the thunder and lightning effects kicked in I thought we’d get another Undertaker voice over, but it looks like Wyatt has literally usurped The Undertaker as the WWE’s resident poltergeist. He now has The Undertaker’s powers, and as good as Heyman has been hyping up Lesnar/Reigns, Wyatt has been even better. Heyman at least has someone beside him in Lesnar and someone to play off of in Reigns. Bray Wyatt has stood in the middle of that ring and single handedly sold us on a WrestleMania match with The Undertaker. The most mythical and holy match in the history of wrestling, and Wyatt’s done it on his own. If you still doubt Wyatt after that promo, you’re an idiot and don’t under pro wrestling.
5. Paul Heyman
Heyman started off his promo saying there’s nothing more he can say to sell us on the WrestleMania main event, then he went ahead and did it anyway. Without Heyman, this main event build would have been terrible, but I’m assuming the WWE knows that, and wouldn’t have set this match up without Heyman in the picture to begin with. He is wrestling’s best hype man, and his client is wrestling’s greatest beast. I don’t think Lesnar is going to lose at Mania, and I don’t think he should lose at Mania, which brings me to my next point…
What the hell was that ending? The WWE has done a great job lately in rallying the fans together to have the same opinion on a segment or a match, and that is the farthest thing from a compliment. At the Royal Rumble, the WWE booked the Rumble match so foolishly they screwed up their own coronation ceremony of Roman Reigns. I have no beef with Reigns winning the Rumble, or him main-eventing Mania, but what did you expect the crowd to do when Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt were all dumped out of the ring by KANE AND THE BIG SHOW? You had the show in Philly! One of the smarkiest crowds in wrestling, and you end a show like that. The fans lashed out, rightfully so, and now the WWE was forced to promote the main event on their biggest show of the year from deep within a hole they dug themselves. They trotted Roman Reigns out to the middle of a ring with a microphone, his main weakness, and sat there baffled when people shit all over it. Paul Heyman became their saving grace, but come bell time Sunday night, Paul Heyman won’t be in that ring. It will be up to Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns to put on a match that is worthy of the main event spot of a WrestleMania. The preview we got for that match last night was mind blowingly bad. You have the most dominant champion of this century and his equally as alpha male opponent tussle over the belt? I understand you don’t want a large scale brawl, but they needed to do something more than that. Unless WrestleMania opens up with Lesnar and Reigns still in the middle of the ring in LA fighting over the belt, I’m not satisfied, and once again, neither is the entire WWE Universe. The excuse of “it’s three hours of TV and it’s hard to get everything right” does not apply here. This what the WWE does: they put on shows that the audience pays for and we expect to be entertained. Maybe our favorite guy isn’t in the main event, maybe their best wrestlers don’t get enough ring time, but the audience puts blind faith in Vince, HHH and the writers and we are continually disappointed. I’m going to watch and enjoy WrestleMania and I expect most of the card to be great, but it won’t be because of anything that happened in the final minutes of last night’s Raw. The WWE will once again operating out of a hole they dug themselves in, and depending how Mania ends on Sunday, they might not be able to dig themselves out.
There’s no question that John Cena has been a huge part of the WWE and some may argue that he has even carried the company throughout the years, but with this new generation of wrestlers coming up through NXT, how long will it be before John Cena moves onto the next stage of his life and career? Cena definitely has a few years left to battle inside the ring, but in order to preserve his legacy and possibly elongate his career, this should probably be the year that John Cena starts the transition from in ring competitor to another role inside the WWE.
At this year’s Wrestlemania John Cena will do battle against current United States Champion Rusev for that same US Championship. There has been a lot of speculation going into this potential match that Cena will win, but if that’s the case, this would be the second year in a row that Cena would face a new and upcoming talent at WrestleMania and beat him. Last year at Wrestlemania 30 it was John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt in what was a very story driven match that made the crowd go wild, but it was clear the crowd wanted Wyatt to go over instead of Cena. That didn’t happen and Wyatt’s push to the main event scene was seriously halted. If WWE does decide to have Cena go over Rusev at this year’s Wrestlemania the arena will probably erupt in anger, because even though Rusev has been such a monstrous heel throughout his current run on the main roster, the fact that Cena is going over yet another future star at WrestleMania is troubling.
If John Cena does lose against Rusev at WrestleMania then this could be the gateway into transitioning Cena off television. Rusev and Lana have infused their promos with minor hints about Cena being an ‘old dog’ and needing to step away, so maybe now is the time for Cena take a step back. He can slowly transition into a different type of television persona such as a manager for a talent or an agent backstage. Another scenario could see Cena becoming the General Manager of both Monday Night RAW and Smackdown. The WWE could run a storyline similar to what they did with the Survivor Series buildup where Cena and the Authority feud over control of the WWE which could eventually lead to the Authority’s exit off television and back into the boardroom where they are always busy running the actual company.
Only time will tell what path John Cena will take into in the future, but putting him over young talent for two years in a row doesn’t seem like the most logical decision in 2015.
As always, follow our guest blogger Jake on Twitter @imTHATguy_KJ.
Last night was the first Raw to start the real build towards WrestleMania, and it wasn’t great. I enjoy the WWE, and for the most part try to rationalize their decision making, but last night’s Raw was a train wreck. WAY too many talking segments, a baffling booking decision on Randy Orton and more disrespect to the Divas that have fans voicing their disdain with the WWE rather than talking about the WrestleMania pay per view. The WWE only has four more Raw’s to get the casual viewer invested in WM, and they just dug themselves an unnecessary hole. Now, onto the 5 stars of last night’s Raw.
1. Dolph Ziggler
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Dolph Ziggler had the best match on the show. He took on Bad News Barrett, so you knew he was going to win before the match started, because the IC champ does not win non-title matches, but it was still a fun match. It looks like the WWE may be building to a Fatal Four Way match for the IC title at WM between R-Truth, Ziggler, Ambrose and Barrett, which I like. As much as a guy like R-Truth doesn’t deserve to be elevated the same way Ziggler does, it’s always fun to create different kind of matches for WM. A Fatal Four Way would be a lot more fun than a regular one on one match, so I’m all for it. As for last night, Ziggler proves once again that he’s one of, if not the best worker on the show, and if WWE ever decides to roll with him, they have a guy who will consistently upgrade their in ring product.
2. Daniel Bryan
Whether fans like it or not, Roman Reigns is going to WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar for the World Heavyweight Championship, and Daniel Bryan is not. They both put on a great match at Fast Lane, but Reigns came out victorious, and he may be the Champion in four weeks. As for Bryan, he had a very good Raw, per usual, both on the microphone and in the ring. His promo on originally doubting Reigns then respecting him after their match at Fast Lane was great, and seemed to be planting the seeds to a more aggressive, edgier Daniel Bryan. The best thing about the WWE is that they don’t have an off season: if you’re favorite team loses in the Super Bowl, you have to wait all offseason to see who is going to stay on the team, what moves they’ll make and if they’ll ever be that good again. If you’re a Daniel Bryan fan and you’re upset he’s not in the main event of WrestleMania, guess what? The day after WrestleMania ends, the entire cycle starts up again. Daniel Bryan could be the #1 contender at Extreme Rules, or the next pay per view, or the next one; it’s a 12 month, 365 day cycle that the WWE has to write for. Just because he’s not the top dog for some of that cycle doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen somewhere down the line.
3. Bray Wyatt
Man, Bray Wyatt is on some other level with his promos right now. You had a feeling pairing him with The Undertaker would up his game, but his promo from the coffin at Fast Lane and the follow up promo last night were both awesome. This is what COULD have happened during the build to last year’s WM, but Cena thought it was more important to put Bray’s head on a baby body and call him a swamp hillbilly. While I’d love to see Bray win at Mania, at this point I’m just relishing in the fact that even being mentioned in the same sentence as The Undertaker is giving Bray some much needed wind in his sails. The first confrontation between the two, whenever that may be, should be epic. Speaking of The Undertaker, looks who’s training…
4. Lana & Rusev
I hope you’re noticing a theme here. Almost all my stars from last night have to do with promos, which is what happens when the WWE puts on a three hour show with 7 matches, with four of them going less than 4 minutes. Anyway, Lana and Rusev were great here. I didn’t like the finish to Cena/Rusev at Fast Lane, mainly because it seems like they’re setting Cena up for a big win at Mania, which he doesn’t need, but other than the unnecessary low blow, Rusev looked great. He was equally as great here, and Cena deserves some credit for avoiding the kiddie jokes and staying serious the whole time. That’s where we are at with John Cena: the WWE’s top guy and face of the company get’s credit for not being a jackass. The main thing I loved about Rusev’s promo was that he bucked the trend of title match losers immediately getting their rematch. It’s the dumbest stipulation WWE has and allows them to be extra lazy with their feuds. If the champion wins, they face the same person in a rematch. If the champ loses, they get their rematch. It’s especially lazy when so much of the roster isn’t being utilized. It’s inevitable that Cena will face Rusev for the title at WM, but I’m glad Rusev didn’t give in right away. He is a true hero, JOHN.
5. The WWE Production Team
What happens when your three hour show has one good match? You get a lot of talking, and a lot of video packages. With that said, the Sting video package was phenomenal. Whether the creative aspect of their show is good or not, you always know if a hype or tribute video package is being presented, it will be expertly done. Sting has had such a great career, and I’m so glad that the WWE Network exists, because I’m able to go back and watch the old NWA/WCW shows from the 80s and early 90s and watch Sting at his peak. He was so strong and charismatic, and was every bit an equal of HBK in his hey day. As I’ve said before, a lot of credit needs to be given to HHH and the WWE production team, as it can’t be easy building up a feud, especially one centered around a WM match, when one of the guys isn’t there. All in all, this video was great, and gives the casual fan a chance to see just how great Sting was, and give them some context for the WM showdown. My only problem with the HHH and Sting match is that it’s the third WM match being promoted that features one of the guys not being on Raw. Lesnar/Reigns, HHH/Sting and Wyatt/Undertaker are all going to be marquee matchups, but each feud is missing a participant. I think Lesnar/Reigns will be ok because of Heyman, but the other two would definitely be more intriguing if both guys were there full time.
WWE Fast Lane, much like WWE Takeover: Rival is FREE on the WWE Network. It takes place in Memphis, Tennesee, and besides it’s tacky name, Fast Lane should be a pretty solid pay per view. Four title matches, a brother vs. brother grudge match and the #1 contender match for Brock Lesnar’s World Championship round out what should an all around well wrestled event. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Goldust vs. Stardust
The long awaited breakup of Goldust and Stardust finally hit a boiling point on Raw, with Stardust attacking Goldust and a match between the two made official on Smackdown. Stardust will go over in the end, as he will continue to be a main roster stalwart for years to come while Goldust is winding down his in ring career. The only question here is whether this feud will get the WrestleMania blow off it deserves or will it be a one and done deal. I try to stay optimistic when it comes to the WWE, even though most of their decision making makes it hard to feel that way. We still haven’t really seen anything from Goldust that would indicate he wants to have this match or engage in anything physical with his brother, but if the match is scheduled, I have to imagine we’re going to see something.
Prediction: Stardust beats down Goldust, who wins by DQ. This would set up the actual grudge match with a month full of buildup with two of the most talented and underutilized guys on the roster getting their chance to shine. Or Stardust wins and fights Adam Rose for the next 25 years.
Seth Rollins, Big Show & Kane vs. Ryback, Erick Rowan & Dolph Ziggler
Thank God we have the Big Show and Kane on the Fast Lane card! I think a general rule of thumb should be that if a match isn’t announced by Smackdown, then it shouldn’t be on the pay per view card. I know they vaguely set this up on Monday and Smackdown and weeks prior with Ryback and Rowan helping Dolph against Big Show, Kane and Rollins, but couldn’t we have just set up a Rollins/Ziggler match and called it a day? We already know that whichever team wins this match gains nothing, and whoever loses this match loses nothing, so maybe they’ll just go out and have a fun 6 man tag?
Prediction: Big Show and Kane simultaneously pin Ziggler, Ryback and Rowan and declare themselves co #1 contenders for the WWE Championship while the announcers, fans and every wrestler in the back collectively light themselves on fire.
Divas Championship Match – Nikki Bella (C) vs. Paige
This feud has been a tale of in the ring superiority vs. outside the ring shenanigans. Paige has dominated the build up with wins over multiple Divas, including Nikki’s sister Brie, while Nikki has won in the shenanigans department with stunts like stealing Paige’s ring gear. Ideally, the winner of this match would go on to have story lines that aren’t dictated by a reality show and that equates to matches similar to what the ladies down in NXT are doing, but that seems like it’s too much to ask of the current WWE writing staff. I still think a Nikki vs. Brie match should be on the Mania card, while Paige leads the new school of Divas as their champion.
Prediction: Paige wins, and we get NXT Paige, or at least a tiny bit of NXT Paige, as the Divas champion who has good to great matches with everyone on the Divas roster. Or Nikki wins with a tit slap or ass grab or something demeaning.
Intercontinental Championship Match – Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose
Fresh off his non title loss to R F#*king Truth on Smack down, Bad News Barrett is defending his title against everyone’s wacky pal Dean Ambrose. Is that how far the IC division has fallen? The champion is losing a non title match to a guy who mumbles through his entrance music 3 days before a major pay per view during WrestleMania season? Alrighty then. Unless the WWE drastically changes their booking for the IC champs, this match doesn’t matter at all, which is a sin, because BNB and Ambrose are not only the future of the company, but are two very talented performers. If the past is any indicator, Barrett will win Sunday and lose every non title match up until WrestleMania, where he’ll beat whoever challenges him for the title next. Although Ambrose has been winning lately, his goofy persona needs to go. I don’t know if anyone in the WWE has heard of YouTube, but they should search Jon Moxley and go from there. Dean Ambrose is not going to be the next kid friendly, wacky punch line spewing superstar. He is a deranged assassin who will take you out and never quit.
Prediction: Barrett retains. I can see a few titles changing hands at Fast Lane, but I don’t think the IC belt is one of the them. It would also be horrible story telling if the guy who zip tied the champion’s hands to the ring post to get him to sign on for this match 6 days before the pay per view won. Also, I like Ambrose too much to have him be a permanent loser as IC champ.
Tag Team Championship Match – The Uso’s (C) vs. Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
It kills me a little inside every time I have to write a preview blog for a WWE pay per view with the Uso’s as the tag team champions. It’s not that I don’t like them; they’re a good enough team that the crowd has kind of gotten behind, so kudos to them. My problem with The Uso’s is that from the time they got pushed to the top of the tag division to today they have not evolved one bit. They haven’t introduced new moves, they haven’t changed the way they win matches, they haven’t ever given an interesting promo and they even do the same entrance every. single. time. They slap their thighs, jump over the ropes, scream something resembling words and continue to get rewarded. Then you have Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, two super talented guys thrown together with zero build who have become the most interesting tag team in the company. They work together incredibly well, and they have a good to great match with every team they’re put in the ring with. And they’re responsible for wonderful GIFS like the one I included above. My only concern with this match is how involved Naomi and Natalya have been. The last thing that needs to happen here is for Natalya to cause Kidd & Cesaro to lose. There are a lot of things this world needs. The Uso’s remaining Tag Team Champs is not one of them.
Prediction: Swing into a dropkick. Uppercut into sharpshooter. Rope assisted kick into a Neutralizer. Any of those combinations works for me as long as Kidd & Cesaro win and become your new Tag Team Champions.
HHH & Sting Meet Face to Face
I’ve been a huge fan of this feud ever since it started at Survivor Series, and I look for it to continue to be great at Fast Lane. I’m torn on whether or not I want it to get physical yet, but I’m leaning towards no physicality. After Fast Lane, you still have 5 Raw’s to promote this match, and if the physicality is already wasted at Fast Lane, meaning one guy gets the upper hand over the other, I think it’ll detract from the build up. The WWE has waited 15 years to get Sting in their ring, so there’s no need to rush forward with it. As I stated in my Raw recap, HHH and the WWE production team have done a great job with this build up, as it can’t be easy hyping a two man battle when one of the guys is never there. Sting is one of those rare guys the WWE has brought in who has such an incredible reputation and history, that pretty much anything they do with him will work. Personally, I’m hoping for a few rafter spotlight shots to psyche out HHH. Never rule out the effectiveness of nostalgia.
United States Championship Match – Rusev (C) vs. John Cena
John Cena has to win this match. OK, glad I got that out of my system. With that said, I love Rusev. He’s been built up impeccably, and he has a severely underrated manager in Lana who also happens to be very easy to look at while she’s delivering promos for her champion. I love characters that speak broken English, because when they deliver the parts of their promos in English, it doesn’t have to make sense. Rusev saying he’s going to “crush you” or “rip your spirit out” doesn’t have to be delivered with the delicacy of someone who only speaks English, thus his promos are not dissected the same, which is a very good thing. My only problem with the Rusev character is that he’s “undefeated”. First of all, he’s not undefeated. He’s lost via count out and DQ. He got eliminated from the Survivor Series match by count out, too. Secondly, being undefeated is an impossible thing to maintain. Unless you’re Andre The Giant, you’re not going to go undefeated for your entire career, and even he lost eventually. Instead of this match being about two guys who don’t like each other, or two guys fighting over a title, it’s about Rusev being undefeated and Cena being the guy to finally beat him. Which he should. Let me explain: Rusev and Cena are going to fight at WrestleMania, which means there are two scenarios for Fast Lane. Scenario 1 has Rusev beating Cena, then Cena no selling it for 5 weeks and beating Rusev for the US title at Mania, making it the second year in a row John Cena has completely deflated a future main eventer. Scenario 2 has John Cena beat Rusev at Fast Lane, bring some importance to the US Title it hasn’t had since the NWA, then have Rusev get his revenge and beat Cena at WrestleMania, the pay per view where you build stars for the future, not kill them.
Prediction: John Cena is your new US Champion, and the world needs to be OK with that.
#1 Contender For The WWE Championship – Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan
I have a sneaky suspicion that the winner of this match won’t really matter, but for the sake of previewing, let’s pretend it does. If this match is going to have a decisive winner, then I have a very strong opinion of who it should be. Roman Reigns is stronger and more powerful than Daniel Bryan, but Daniel Bryan is quicker and more experienced than Roman Reigns. Daniel Bryan won the title at last years WrestleMania, but was stripped of the title due to injury. Roman Reigns won this year’s Royal Rumble, which should have guaranteed him a main event title shot at WrestleMania, but that was taken away from him because Vince McMahon can’t stick to a decision. Wherever one man has the upper hand, the other makes up for it in another way. The way I’m looking at it is who would I want to see face Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania 31, and that answer is very easy: Daniel Bryan. Comparing a Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar match to a Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar match isn’t really fair to Roman, but that’s the position the WWE has put us in. What fan over the age of 8 or 9 is really pulling for Reigns here? And I like Reigns, too. He was rightfully criticized for his promo work over the last few months, but you’re talking about a guy with the combined singles career of about 9 months. Show me a WWE guy who was a perfect interview and an elite ring technician in that amount of time. Still waiting. Got nobody? Alrighty then. Reigns will be a star, and if he continues performing like he did Monday night, it’ll be sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for him, he’s going up against the best on Sunday night, and Daniel Bryan will not be denied.
Prediction: I still think it’s going to be a triple threat between Bryan, Reigns and Lesnar at Mania, but in the interest of choosing a winner, I say it’ll be Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31. Oh happy day.
As always, we’ll be live tweeting the show, so give us a follow @averagenobodies. Or don’t, but just know that you brought the voodoo of Papa Shango on yourself.