Well wrestling fans, the time is finally here. WrestleMania week is always the most exciting week of the year for wrestling fans. WWE’s mega event takes place Sunday night, but promotions from around the world will also take advantage of the influx of fans. If you’re in New Orleans this week, chances are you’ll stumble across some type of wrestling event. Thousands of fans will descend upon the Big Easy for what should be one hell of a week.
On paper, WrestleMania 34 is one of the best cards of the modern era.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
WrestleMania Pre-Show Matches
WWE Cruiserweight Title Tournament Finals
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Women’s Battle Royal
WWE Universal Title Match
Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Roman Reigns
WWE Title Match
AJ Styles (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz
WWE United States Title Match
Rusev vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton
RAW Women’s Title Match
Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss
SmackDown Women’s Title Match
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair
RAW Tag Team Title Match
Cesaro and Sheamus (C) vs. Braun Strowman and ??
SmackDown Tag Team Title Match
The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Usos
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
That is one hell of a card. The best part is that there’s something for everyone. On the pre-show there’s going to be insane, high flying action with the cruiserweights. Battle royals are always a lot of fun, and will be a good showcase for men and women who wouldn’t have otherwise been on the card. The main card features the return of Daniel Bryan, the debut of Ronda Rousey, AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for a major WWE title; John Cena vs. The Undertaker could happen, plus Braun Strowman has to find a partner if he wants a chance at tag team gold. Even the match I’m not super excited about (US title fatal 4 way) has a chance to be good, especially if the crowd is behind Rusev.
To sum it up, WrestleMania will be two things: very long and very good. Here are five matches that have the most potential to steal the show, as well predictions for each match.
5. Cruiserweight Title Tournament Finals: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
After WWE put on the fantastic Cruiserweight Classic, hopes were high for 205 Live. The product didn’t translate well, and it looked especially doomed when Enzo Amore became champion. Instead of focusing on the rare athleticism that the cruiserweights offered, 205 Live tried to make it storyline driven. It didn’t work, so Vince McMahon put HHH in charge to try and freshen things up. The results have been wonderful, and the Cruiserweight Title Tournament brought the product back to the greatness of the Cruiserweight Classic. While it would be great to have the finals on the main card, Mustafa Ali vs. Cedric Alexander is going to be bonkers no matter where it’s placed.
Alexander and Ali both thrive when they’re able to focus on their athletic talent, and that’s exactly what the title tournament has allowed them to do. Each of their three matches in the tournament have been exciting, and with the final match culminating at WrestleMania, these two should be going all out. From an athletic standpoint, there’s no reason this match shouldn’t be the match of the night. The one benefit of being on the two pre-show is that these two should get plenty of time. Fingers crossed for a returning Neville to show up post match and tear both of them apart.
Prediction: Mustafa Ali
Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. HHH & Stephanie McMahon
People love to hate, but they don’t love to love. That’s the easiest way to sum up Ronda Rousey’s first 2+ months in the WWE. She has the potential to be a huge signing for WWE, and brings a legitimacy that few other performers have. I’m hopeful that the majority of the WWE Universe will give Rousey a shot, and a lot of that will have to do with her performance Sunday night. She’s been put in a great position: teaming with a fan favorite Olympic gold medalist against two long time, hated authority figures. If WWE keeps the storytelling simple and lets Kurt Angle do most of the leg work, this match could be epic.
Regardless of how the match plays out, there is only one clear outcome: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle victorious.
IC Title Match: The Miz (C) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
There are multiple matches on the Mania card that have a chance to be excellent in ring bouts. Near the top of that list is the triple threat for the IC title. Rollins and Balor are two of, if not the two best in ring performers on Raw. They had a hell of a match on Monday, and I can only see it getting better when you add in Miz. The Miz is enjoying easily the best run of his career, and while his in ring work can’t match up with Rollins/Balor, his character work is fantastic.
While guys on Miz’s level don’t always need a championship, Miz having the belt makes all his talking points click. His character would seem hollow with the strap not on his shoulder, which is what makes this match so hard to predict. WWE loves moments, especially at WrestleMania, and if there’s one guy in need of a big moment, it’s Finn Balor. Miz and Rollins have had their moments, but Balor has been stuck in a rut since relinquishing the Universal title one night after winning it.
I’m going with Balor to win and carry on the workhorse legacy the IC title deserves.
Smackdown Women’s Title Match: Charlotte Flair (C) vs. Asuka
While Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax has the emotional weight behind it, Charlotte vs. Asuka is the biggest dream match in the women’s division. Asuka has never been defeated in NXT/WWE, dating back to October 2015. Charlotte has been the standard bearer for the Women’s Revolution. Sasha/Bayley might have had better matches and more personal stories, but Charlotte has always been portrayed as the alpha. She won the old Divas championship. She won the Raw women’s title four times and will be the reigning, defending Smackdown women’s champion heading into this year’s Mania.
Asuka will easily be Charlotte’s toughest challenge, and you also have the added intrigue of Asuka’s incredible winning streak. I’m a fan of keeping Asuka undefeated forever, but how do you have her win the Smackdown title while still on Raw? Both women’s divisions are paper thin, and I don’t think having Asuka switch to Smackdown is the right call. If there’s any current main roster star that should defeat Asuka, it’s Charlotte. I have very little confidence in this prediction, but I’m going with Charlotte to retain.
WWE Title Match: AJ Styles (C) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 10 in ’06. While they probably won’t be the main event of WrestleMania 34, they’re my pick to have the match of the night. Styles has been the best wrestler in WWE for awhile now, and Nakamura is a guy who rises to the skill level of his opponent. I’m so glad WWE kept this match one on one, as Styles and Nakamura deserve this spotlight. There has been speculation that Styles is injured, but it doesn’t seem serious enough to limit the match. With the WWE Network replacing the old pay per view format, match times are no longer an issue. That’s great news for these two, as they should have enough time to tell a great story and put on the match of the night.
Similar to Finn Balor, Nakamura hasn’t had his big moment on the main roster yet. Winning the Royal Rumble was huge, but a WrestleMania moment is on a totally different level. Styles has carried the torch valiantly, but I think this is Nakamura’s time. I’m picking Shinsuke to become the new WWE champion.
Predictions for the rest of the card
Becky Lynch wins the
Fabolous Moolah oh please god no Women’s Battle Royal
Samoa Joe returns and wins the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and kicks ass for the rest of 2018
Roman Reigns defeats Brock Lesnar for the Universal title. Some people might get mad, but this is the logical ending for this story. Hopefully Lesnar goes to UFC and we can get the champ on Raw full time.
Rusev wins the US title fatal four way. This one is a no brainer for me. Rusev is one of the most popular guys on the roster, even though he’s used idiotically. RUSEV DAY is one of those simple, classic catchphrases that the crowd loves, and Rusev is a skilled and charismatic performer. You can’t have Rusev lose on RUSEV DAY.
Nia Jax defeats Alexa Bliss for the Raw women’s title. Bliss has been great in her role, but she needs to get rag dolled here. Nia should win in dominant fashion.
Braun Strowman and his mystery partner defeat The Bar for the Raw tag titles. I have no clue who Strowman’s partner is, but I’m excited to find out. If I had to guess, I would pick Elias or a reincarnated Bray Wyatt. A mystery team won the tag titles last year (Hardy’s) and I think it happens again this year. The Raw tag division is not in good shape, and at the very least Braun Strowman and his mysterious friend can make it more exciting.
The Usos retain over Bludgeon Brothers and New Day. I love The Usos and never want them to lose, hence my pick.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn defeat Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Firstly, how great is it that Daniel Bryan is back wrestling in a wrestling ring? I’m so happy for him. Secondly, never trust a McMahon. I hope the story they tell is that Shane, Kevin and Sami have been in cahoots this whole time. They went through all this trouble to get Daniel Bryan back into the ring so they could take him out 3 on 1. I can’t think of a better way to get crowds to turn on Zayn and Owens than to have them ruin Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania comeback.
John Cena has been on Raw for the past month calling out The Undertaker. Taker has been killing Cena with silence and has yet to accept Cena’s WrestleMania challenge. Will The Deadman show up in New Orleans? Will the two titans of WWE have an actual match? Your guess is as good as mine. What I do know is that this segment will get a ton of time, most of which will be a John Cena promo. WrestleMania has become a spectacle on it’s own, so it wasn’t necessary for The Undertaker to show up on Raw and officially accept Cena’s challenge. Fans are going to tune in regardless, but this has still be an odd storyline.
I picked Samoa Joe to win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, but I don’t think his night ends there. I think Joe either comes out instead of Taker, or comes out after Taker appears and takes both guys out. Samoa Joe is the real deal, and although he’s been hurt, giving him a big WrestleMania moment with John Cena and The Undertaker would be awesome.
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.
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:
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) January 28, 2018
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:
BROCK! ☠️ pic.twitter.com/9e5jk8GzZr
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) January 29, 2018
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.
Survivor Series is the second longest running WWE pay per view behind WrestleMania, and the 31st annual show will take place this Sunday in Houston. Survivor Series brings together a lot of different pro wrestling elements, from the 5 on 5 traditional Survivor Series matches to dream matches like last year’s Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar bout.
With a history spanning 30+ years, there are bound to be at least a few memorable matches, and that’s where the Average Nobodies come in. We each named our favorite Survivor Series match of all time below, along with a little blurb about why we loved it so much. Enjoy!
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Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart
When it comes to rivalries within WWE/F, especially in the mid 90s, there are few better than Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart. The crown jewel of that feud is inarguably their submission match at WrestleMania 13, but if you’re looking for an almost perfect wrestling match with a great story that also motivates both guys moving forward, their match at Survivor Series ’96 should be your jam. Austin and Hart had a pretty chaotic feud, as this was the beginning of Austin’s “Texas Rattlesnake” character, but oddly enough, this was the first televised singles match between the two.
This match really kick started their feud, and launched one of the best angles of the 90s, especially when you factor in their match at WM13. The Survivor Series match was a technical masterpiece and featured a tremendous ending, with Hart outsmarting Austin by using the turnbuckle as leverage and pinning Austin while still in a submission hold. The ending visual of Austin giving Bret the death stare while disappearing up the ramp is as good as wrestling storytelling gets.
The Shield’s Debut
My favorite Survivor Series match isn’t a match at all, it’s a moment and the ripple effect that moment would would have on the WWE from then on. The debut of The Shield during the triple threat between CM Punk, John Cena and Ryback at the 2012 Survivor Series PPV is arguably the greatest debut in the history of the WWE. Three guys who would later become, and stay, THE marquee guys in the company. Even with The Shield stealing the show (although it might not have seen like it at the time) this match isn’t something to sweep under the rug. Cena and Punk were magic in the ring and Ryback got put out of commission by the fabled triple power bomb!
What more could you ask for?
The match card for WWE Survivor Series will feature a slew of champion versus champion matches, including Brock Lesnar versus Jinder Mahal. The main issue with that match is LOL it’s Jinder Mahal versus Brock Lesnar, which should end in 5 seconds with an actual murder. Here’s the feud so far in video form:
Paul Heyman has put over Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman but even he knows that Jinder vs. Brock is a joke. While this is only one man’s far out opinion, Shane McMahon’s tweet last night has me feeling hopeful that the match could change.
— Shane McMahon (@shanemcmahon) November 2, 2017
WWE was in a similar situation a few years ago when they had HHH defend his title against Dean Ambrose a month before WrestleMania at Roadblock. While HHH ended up winning that match and faced Reigns at Mania instead of the much more interesting Ambrose/Reigns match, I think Styles winning on Tuesday makes a lot of sense. The rules for Survivor Series are champion vs. champion, so if Styles wins the title Tuesday he would take Mahal’s place as Lesnar’s opponent. Plus, if the rumored Lesnar/Reigns match at Mania is still on, why not add Styles to the list of guys Brock has beaten this year to get to Reigns?
Jinder Mahal’s title reign has been a rousing disappointment, so hopefully WWE pulls the trigger on Tuesday. That would give Styles a title win he very much deserves while also giving WWE fans a dream match at Survivor Series.
After last night’s Smackdown broadcast, Daniel Bryan joined Renee Young for ‘Talking Smack’ like he always does. During the final segment, the Miz interrupted Young and Bryan and asked why he and his IC title haven’t been featured more on Smackdown. Well The Miz got his answer, and it was a real one: Daniel Bryan thinks the Miz fights like a coward, and embodies that soft style that WWE used to be known for. Now, there’s going to a lot of discussion about what happened next, and my opinion on it is that it went down pretty much exactly as it what supposed to. You don’t have a guy interrupt a segment asking why he isn’t featured, then get called out for being a coward AND then have him cut the promo of his life by accident. Daniel Bryan walking off and Renee Young not knowing what to do made the entire segment that much more compelling, and this is the type of realistic stuff the WWE should be doing. If someone calls you a coward in real life, that is how you’d respond. I’m not saying everyone will be able to handle cutting this type of promo, but you know Miz can, and he went out and delivered. The only thing that would’ve made this better is if Daniel Bryan wasn’t seriously hurt and could get back in the ring and rip Miz’s arms off.
Smackdown was live this week from Providence, RI, and whenever the WWE comes to town, you can be sure the Average Nobodies will be in attendance. Tuesday night was no different, and as usual, WWE put on a great live show. We got in there right about the start of Main Event, and even saw Finn Balor and Samoa Joe team up in some high quality NXT action. Let’s get to the 5 stars from last night’s Smackdown!
1. The Wyatt Family
The Wyatt Family opened up Smackdown with a promo, which is par for the course for Smackdown. But if you think I’m not going to give Bray, Luke Harper and their new Donald Gibb lookalike a star then you’re high. Having Wyatt influence people enough to join his family is such a long overdo character trait that it makes me furious it didn’t happen sooner. But it happened now, and although I’m 1000% sure that Braun is going to end up being just another obstacle Roman Reigns overcomes, my optimistic side says that this trio could finally get Bray into the title picture. It’s a goddamn shame that Wyatt has never held a belt in the WWE, especially when the IC belt is toiling away in obscurity with Ryback and Big Show punching each other for 7 minutes at a time. You’re telling me IC champion Wyatt wouldn’t have good to great matches and feuds with the Dean Ambrose/Kevin Owens/Cesaro’s of the WWE? It’d be money, and it would give the mid carders something to chase. Make it happen, WWE. Or just have Wyatt be the best character you’ve had in a decade lose every important match he wrestles.
2. Seth Rollins
Fresh off his US title win at Summerslam and beat down at the hands of Sting on Raw, Seth Rollins unfortunately didn’t wrestle on Smackdown, but he did cut one hell of a fiery promo. While most of his promos are long winded, my favorite part about the Seth Rollins character is that it comes from a very real place. Rollins does have a chip on his shoulder, he does think he’s underrated and he truly believes he’s ‘the man’. When he was in NXT, he felt that he should have been elevated to the main roster. When he was in The Shield, he felt like the spotlight should have been shined solely on him. Now that he’s WWE Champion, he believes people should bow at his feet and thank him for being in their presence. He’s sick of having his title reign questioned, and if he has to beat old man Sting to prove once again that he’s THE MAN, then that’s exactly what he’s going to do. Seth Rollins is at the top of his game right now, and if there’s one guy who can pull a main event match out of Sting at this phase of his career, it’s Seth Rollins.
3. The Dudley Boyz Make Their Smackdown Return
I’m not going to sit here and lie directly to your face and say I didn’t pee myself a little when the Dudleys showed up on RAW and decimated The New Day. It was probably in my top 3 as far as wrestlers returning to the WWE goes (other two that i’m still waiting for are Stone Cold and Mickie James [love me some Mickie]). So when I found out the Dudleys were going to be showing off those sweet camo pants on the Smackdown that I was attending, I got the sharpie out and made a “get the tables sign” (WHICH WAS SEEN ON SMACKDOWN). Was I a little disappointed they fought The Ascension? Yeah, sure I was. Did it matter? Hell no it did not, The Dudleys were going to put one, or both, of them through the table anyway. Bonus pee in my pants for The New Day coming out with hilarious signs protesting the Dudleys reappearance in the WWE. #GiveTablesAChance
4. Sheamus Working the Providence Crowd
The WWE loves Sheamus. At first I didn’t understand why, but after a few years of matches and character changes I see it clearly, the guy is pretty much the total package. He’s big, he’s got “the look”, he speaks decent on the mic, he makes his opponent look good, has a shit ton of moves in his repertoire and he can deal with a tough crowd. On Smackdown, he had to continually deal with a hostile crowd that were chanting “You look stupid”, and while I agree with the Providence crowd, this can’t be an easy thing to deal with as a backdrop to your match. In-between giving Ambrose the beating of a lifetime, he would often look to the crowd and scream “no i’m not!”, which, if you ask me, is the perfect childish response you want from a heel. Great match by Ambrose and Sheamus.
5. Finn Balor and Samoa Joe
Samoa Joe and Finn Balor teaming up in a tag team match against the Lucha Dragons was a nice added bonus for our night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. The match was great, and Balor and Joe are a formidable team going forward (more on that in a bit). Sin Cara probably isn’t going anywhere past the Lucha Dragons, but if the WWE ever lets Kalisto let loose and become another Rey Mysterio, he’s going to blow people away more than he’s already doing now. The reason I mentioned Joe and Balor going forward, and the reason why this match was especially special (new phrase) is because this ended up being one of the matches that decided what teams would participate in the Dusty Rhodes Memorial Tag Team Tournament that is going to be dominating NXT TV over the next few months. The tag team division is probably the weakest part of NXT, and that’s not a knock on the tag division, but rather it shows you how strong the rest of their show is. If you want to see the difference between NXT and WWE, just look at this move by Regal, HHH and whoever else had a hand in creating this tournament. WWE’s answer to a subpar tag division is to just run fatal four way after fatal four way tag team matches with the same teams. The only reason people are talking about the division at all is because of the wonderfulness of New Day and the PTP. Instead of doing that, NXT creates this memorial tournament, which gives EVERY NXT wrestler, including their champion Finn Balor, a chance to enter with a teammate and try to win it. Dusty Rhodes was the heart and soul of NXT, so from a real life and storyline standpoint, every wrestler on the roster has motivation to want to win this thing. We’re probably not there yet, but how awesome would it be to have a few women team up and get a couple victories? If you don’t want to see Charlotte tap out Mojo Rawley you might not have a soul.
-The Average Nobodies
While I don’t usually watch Smackdown on Thursday nights, I made an exception this week. Smackdown was taped in my hometown of Providence, RI, so obviously the Average Nobodies attended and as always, the WWE put on a great live show. The usual script for Raw reviews is 5 stars, but since Smackdown is only 2 hours, I decided to limit it to 3 stars. Smackdown featured a couple solid tag team matches, and I sat close enough to Roman Reigns to brush his soaking wet hair.
Neville has been extremely impressive since joining the main roster, and anyone who had concerns that he wouldn’t be utilized correctly should be breathing a sigh of relief so far. This was the first time I’ve seen him live, and holy hell is he quick. Neville is that rare superstar who can flip and jump with the best of them, but also understands the psychology of wrestling as well. He knows how to wrestle the bigger guys like Sheamus and he knows how to wrestle guys his size like Rollins and Ziggler. I love that he pinned Barrett, too, and I mentioned in my Extreme Rules preview that if Daniel Bryan can’t compete, I’d love to see Neville and Barrett take place and Neville secure another victory. If Neville can beat the #1 contender for the IC belt twice in the same week, he’d definitely be in the discussion for challengers to the title once Bryan returns. The highlight of the entire show was seeing Neville hit the Red Arrow live. If WWE is coming to a city near you and Neville is advertised, you owe it to yourself to go see him.
2. Prime Time Players
I’d be ok if the PTP never wrestled another match again, as long as I could get a Titus ‘OORAH’ once in awhile and as long as they keep doing these backstage promos every week. The tag team division is filled with entertaining and exciting teams, who are normally given about 2-3 minutes to have a match and tell a story. While the WWE is doing their best to elevate the US and IC belts, they’ve continually let the tag team division fall by the wayside. My suggestion would be to have the writing team ignore them, but give them at least 15-20 minutes per Raw to get themselves over. You’re telling me guys like Titus, Darren Young, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd, New Day and Lucha Dragons can’t have solid matches and entertaining promos on their own if given enough time? The tag team division should be a lot more exciting, especially considering the teams that are in it. While I’ll never condone anyone making fun of Cesaro, Titus’s satchel and paper boy hat were a nice touch. Hopefully the PTP challenge for the tag titles soon, and hopefully the WWE realizes the diamonds they have in the tag division just waiting for their time to shine.
3. The Main Event
The main event of Smackdown was a tag team match featuring Ambrose and Reigns vs. Harper and Rollins, and it was fantastic. Ambrose and especially Reigns were incredibly over with the Providence crowd, and all four guys worked their tail off to close out the show. While you’d want to keep the champion getting pinned in non title matches to a minimum, I did like Reigns getting the clean pin here. He deserves much better than a Last Man Standing match with Big show at Extreme Rules, so hopefully after Sunday he’s back closer to the main event. I think Harper and Ambrose are going to have the best match Sunday, so I’m glad they got to give us a little preview of what to expect. The Authority continues to tease tension with it’s champion, and that was escalated last night with Kane throwing Rollins back in the ring just in time to eat a spear from Reigns. All in all it was a fun show with a really good main event to send the crowd home happy.
WWE Is Handing Out Letter Grades To Every City They Visit And Providence, RI & Boston, MA Both Got A’s
Starting 6/28/15, WWE also assigns letter codes to each city (A/B+/B/C).
It appears it’s an indication of the relative overall drawing power of the city based on the last visit.
(If we assume that the percentage is in relation to the overall building’s capacity.)
A: 70 examples (minimum: 3,500; maximum 15,913) – average: 9,235
B+: 32 examples (minimum: 3,122; maximum 14,481) – average: 7,608
B: 48 examples (minimum: 2,626; maximum 12,717) – average: 6,496
C: 61 examples (minimum: 2,230; maximum 6,996) – average 4,546
Overall Average: 7,002
“A” Cities: Anaheim, CA, Atlanta, GA, Baltimore, MD, Boston, MA, Bridgeport, CT, Brooklyn, NY, Buffalo, NY, Chicago, IL, Cincinnati, OH, Columbus, OH – Schottenstein Center, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Hartford, CT, Hildalgo, TX, Houston, TX, Jackson, MS, Kansas City, MO, Los Angeles, CA, Miami, FL, Minneapolis, MN, Nashville, TN, New York, NY, Newark, NJ, Philadelphia, PA, Phoenix, AZ, Pittsburgh, PA, Portland, OR, Providence, RI, San Antonio, TX, San Jose, CA – SAP Center, St. Louis, MO, Tampa, FL, Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – Ricoh Coliseum, Washington, DC, White Plains, NY, Wildwood, NJ
“B+” Cities: Albany, NY, Anaheim, CA, Anchorage, AK, Bangor, ME, Birmingham, AL, Bridgeport, CT, Calgary, AB, Cincinnati, OH, Corpus Christi, TX, Daytona Beach, FL – Ocean Center, Des Moines, IA, East Lansing, MI, Edmonton, AB, Fairbanks, AK, Fort Myers, FL, Fresno, CA, Greenville, SC, Hampton, VA, Hershey, PA, Jonesboro, AR, Lafayette, LA, Laredo, TX, Lincoln, NE, Little Rock, AR, Loveland, CO, Memphis, TN, Milwaukee, WI, Montreal, QC, Nashville, TN, Ontario, CA, Orlando, FL – Amway Center, Roanoke, VA, Rochester, NY, Sacramento, CA, Salt Lake City, UT – Maverik Center, San Juan, PR, Stockton, CA, Syracuse, NY, Tampa, FL, Tulsa, OK, Uncasville, CT, Wilkes Barre, PA, Winnipeg, MB
“B” Cities: Austin, TX, Bakersfield, CA, Calgary, AB, Cleveland, OH, Dayton, OH, Edmonton, AB, Everett, WA, Fresno, CA, Hartford, CT, Indianapolis, IN, Knoxville, TN, Louisville, KY – YUM Center, Milwaukee, WI, Montreal, QC, New Orleans, LA, Oklahoma City, OK, Omaha, NE, Phoenix, AZ, Portland, OR, Rochester, NY, Sacramento, CA, San Diego, CA, San Jose, CA – SAP Center, Seattle, WA, St. Louis, MO, Trenton, NJ, Tulsa, OK, Winnipeg, MB
“C” Cities: Amarillo, TX, Augusta, GA, Bakersfield, CA, Baton Rouge, LA, Beaumont, TX, Binghamton, NY, Bloomington, IL, Bossier City, LA, Bowling Green, KY, Canton, OH, Casper, WY, Cedar Rapids, IA, Charlotte, NC, Charlottesville, VA, Chattanooga, TN, Colorado Springs, CO, Columbia, SC, Columbus, GA, Daytona Beach, FL – Ocean Center, Erie, PA, Evansville, IN, Fairfax, VA, Fargo, ND, Fayetteville, NC, Fort Myers, FL, Green Bay, WI, Huntsville, AL, Jackson ,TN, Jacksonville, FL, Johnson City, TN, Jonesboro, AR, Kalamazoo, MI, Laredo, TX, Macon, GA, Mobile, AL, Montreal, QC, North Charleston, SC, Odessa, TX, Peoria, IL, Rockford, IL, Salisbury, MD, Savannah, GA, Sioux City, IA, Sioux Falls, SD, Springfield, IL, Syracuse, NY, Tallahassee, FL, Toledo, OH, Tupelo, MS, Vancouver, BC, Victoria, BC, Waco,TX, Wilkes Barre, PA, Worcester, MA
(Same city may appear in more than category. This is because different letter grades are assigned on different trips – often because one time it’s a TV taping and another time it’s a house show.)
This isn’t a surprise by any means, but it’s nice to see that Boston and Providence get the love they deserve. Over the last five years, my friends and I have been to a Royal Rumble, Survivor Series and Money in the Bank in Boston and every crowd has been hot fire. Not mention last year’s Raw in Providence where Daniel Bryan turned on Bray Wyatt in the steel cage and really catapulted the YES! movement to the next level. I’ll be attending Smackdown in Providence next week and although it’s not a live show I guarantee the crowd will be loud and engaging. Sucks for cities that got a C, but I’m proud to be apart of two crowds that the WWE recognizes as A+ players.
H/T Indeed Wrestling