Is it weird that the match I’m worried about the least is between a guy who hasn’t fought a match in 7 years and a guy who hasn’t fought full time in almost 4 years? Well any doubts I had were alleviated in the opening segment of Raw last night, as Shane and The Undertaker beat the hell out of each other, culminating in a top rope flying elbow drop through the table by Shane. As happy as it made me to see Shane McMahon flying through the air again, last night was kind of a scary sign for WrestleMania. If they’re willing to do THAT on Raw, what the hell do they have planned for WrestleMania? Seriously. I’ve seen The Undertaker throw a guy off the top of and through Hell in a Cell. I’ve seen Shane leap from the god damn top of the Titantron. They may agree to whatever they have to agree to backstage, but these are two insane, seasoned performers who pride themselves on giving the audience something special. I don’t know what that something special is going to be, but I can guarantee you it’s going to blow us away.
Here’s The Undertaker Tombstoning Brad Maddox Dressed As A Turkey On The Tonight Show Because Life Is Wonderful
In 10 days, The Undertaker will celebrate his 25th anniversary with the WWE, as he debuted at the 1990 edition of Survivor Series. It’s an unprecedented run that will most likely never be matched, and Taker’s legacy in the WWE is arguably the greatest character in wrestling history. To celebrate this milestone, WWE is having Undertaker week on the WWE Network, and Taker has already appeared on Raw and Smackdown overseas this week. Well as if this couldn’t get any better, The Undertaker made a surprise appearance on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and tombstoned Brad Maddox, who was dressed as a turkey. If this two minute video didn’t make you smile then you may not have a pulse. Long live the dead man.
The Raw after Summerslam was last night from Brooklyn, and it had a ‘Raw after WrestleMania’ feel to it. There were a few MAJOR surprises, and we even got our main event for next month’s Night of Champions pay per view. Let’s get to the five stars from last night’s Raw!
1. Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar
It’s kind of a given that these two were one of the best parts of Raw, but as much as I hate to see Lesnar lose, the night after promos by Heyman are a thing of beauty. To say Lesnar lost in controversial fashion at Summerslam would be an understatement, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a match end like that in all my years of watching wrestling. Yes it protects both guys and yes it sets up some interesting scenarios in the future, but I do have a problem with that being your main event, especially when Seth Rollins beat John Cena to become the first ever WWE and US Champion earlier in the night. I would have rather Summerslam gone off the air with Rollins celebrating with both belts instead of Lesnar death staring a referee. With that said, Heyman’s promo here was great, and if they’re setting up a winner take all third match where Lesnar officially retires Taker in Dallas then I’m all in. Supplementary best to Bo Dallas, who I’m pretty sure is buried under the ring in Brooklyn right now. Those German suplexes looked brutal as hell.
2. New Day
Is New Day a real thing anymore or are the best parts of my brain coming together to make me hallucinate this wonderfulness?First we got this amazing dance after they won the tag titles at Summerslam:
I could do the Big E dance, that’s how awake I am pic.twitter.com/xuAwTdltN6
— Sahpy (@sahpy4) August 24, 2015
Then they came to the ring last night to sing a cover version of ‘New York, New York’ with Xavier Woods on the trombone. I really don’t think they can get any more entertaining than they are now, but I know they’ll one up themselves. With Rusev wasting away in a stupid jealously angle with Ziggler, New Day are now far and away my favorite part of every wrestling show. The best part is they can also back up their shenanigans with solid tag team wrestling. Xavier Woods as the obnoxious, trombone playing mouth piece followed up by the speed and power of Kofi and Big E should be what the tag team division is built around. I can’t think of one team I wouldn’t want to see feud/fight with New Day, which brings me to my next point…
3. The Mother Fucking Dudley Boyz Are Back
After New Day disposed of the Lucha Dragons, they began celebrating in the ring again, which brought out BUBBA RAY & DEVON DUDLEY. If you told me I could somehow be happier while watching New Day celebrate a victory, I’d call you a liar, but then the Dudley Boyz came out and my heart and brain simultaneously exploded. The thing about tag team wrestling is that a team like the Dudley’s, who were never built around great technical wrestling, can realistically wrestle forever. They’re money on the microphone and they can put over any team in the tag team division because they’re legitimately the most decorated team of all time. Just listen to the pop from the crowd last night. It was deafening, and you know Bubba Ray has been dying to come in and reignite the tag team division, and you can have confidence that the Dudley Boyz will do it with no ego attached. They’re not the New Age Outlaws coming back to prove how much better their era was; they’re just a great tag team who wants to work with the young guys and put on some great matches. Awesome move by WWE bringing Bubba Ray and Devon back.
4. The Wyatt Family
Bray and Luke Harper lost clean as a whistle to Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose at Summerslam, so when they announced a rematch on Raw I was hoping for something different to happen. Braun Stowman was that something different. Stowman is a legitimate former tough man competitor, and even without seeing him wrestle, his size brings instant credibility and fear to the Wyatt Family. This is the Bray Wyatt I wanted all along. He didn’t have to be like the NWO and recruit every guy under the sun, but if you’re billing him as this cult leader who can persuade people with his words, shouldn’t he have some followers? Harper and Rowan were a good start, but then they disbanded them, and now it looks like the WWE is ready to take Wyatt seriously again. I don’t know if this means Reigns and Ambrose get a third guy as well or if Reigns just overcomes the odds Cena style, but I like where this is headed. Let Stowman wreak havoc on the WWE until Bray Wyatt get’s that long deserved WWE title shot.
The main event of Raw was Seth Rollins well deserved statue ceremony, and wrestling 101 tells you that anytime there is a structure in the ring that everyone tells you is going to be one thing, it will most certainly be something different. We already knew Rollins was going to be in the main event scene for the next decade, but his match against Cena just cemented that mindset. He was amazing, and hey, a heel cheated to win a match. What a peculiar concept. Out of that win came the statue ceremony last night, and instead of Rollins’ new bronze statue, he was greeted by Sting. Obviously there was a lot of online complaining about this, particularly about the fact that they used that big spot on Sting and not a young guy, but fans who complain about that don’t understand what’s happening. Say the WWE put Cesaro behind that curtain. From a story telling standpoint, would the reaction and subsequent match at Night of Champions have been better or worse? The answer is worse, and I’m saying that as a Cesaro fan. The WWE’s goal is to make Seth Rollins THE MAN, and you do that by beating established guys, not by beating guys who need a big push of their own. I have complete faith that Rollins and Sting will have a great match at Night of Champions, and the mind games leading up to it will be even better. Sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy the show, and let a grown man in face paint beat the crap out of somebody.
The post Battleground Raw was pretty wonderful last night, and Summerslam is stacking up to be a gigantic, beautiful card. The Undertaker was in 2 (!) segments, Brock Lesnar wanted revenge, the NXT women continue to look great and Cesaro main evented Raw again. Let’s get to the 5 stars from last night’s Raw!
1. The Undertaker
The Undertaker could have theoretically sat in the ring and clipped his toe nails and I’d have him for a star of Raw, because The Undertaker on Raw in 2015 is a happening. In lieu of clipping his toe nails, he opened the show and clearly explained why he cost Brock Lesnar the title at Battleground. He’s not some grumpy old man yelling at the clouds because his streak got broken. He understands streaks are created and mythicized because when they are broken, it’s something special. But for 469 days, Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar have not let it go, and continue to tell everyone on national television that they conquered the Undertakers undefeated streak at WrestleMania. Taker might be an undead mortician, but he’s got feelings too. The way he expresses those feelings are utilizing magic and transporting to the ring and choke slamming and tomb stoning mother f’ers. I wasn’t on board for Taker/Lesnar 2 until this promo and the subsequent brawl, but now I’m all in. I was afraid they’d make Lesnar look like a coward who was afraid of the Undertaker, and it just wouldn’t make sense after the year and a half that Brock just had. But when Brock came sprinting down that ramp and threatened to murder the Undertaker, my fears were alleviated. Brock/Taker forever. Speaking of the brawl…
2. Brock Lesnar (and Paul Heyman)
Paul Heyman came out and cut a wonderful promo on the Undertaker, and a fired up Paul Heyman might be the best character WWE has. You give him 5 minutes and a microphone and he has you eating out of the palm of his hand and begging for Summerslam to start right now. It’s not that hard to get people invested in Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker, but this promo was still gold. After The Undertaker politely asked Heyman to stop bringing up that Lesnar conquered his undefeated streak, you kind of knew Taker was going to show up when Heyman KEPT BRINGING UP THAT LESNAR CONQUERED HIS UNDEFEATED STREAK. Gong, darkness, light, Undertaker in the ring, and Heyman looked terrified. I loved him yelling ‘I’m a human being!’, as if that was going to stop someone who calls himself The Undertaker from ripping his head off. THAT brought out The Beast, and if you’ve ever questioned how scary Brock Lesnar is, watch how fast he got from the curtain to the ring. Someone that big should not be able to run that fast, and then the brawl was on. What made this extra special was that brawl’s like this don’t happen that often on WWE TV, and adding almost the entire locker room was a nice touch. I can’t wait to see where this goes from here, and I’m excited if its booked as two animals just trying to out survive each other.
3. Charlotte & Sasha Banks
I’m lumping these two together because they are the future of the Divas division. If you want to see what women’s wrestling can be in the WWE, look no further than Charlotte vs. Brie Bella and Sasha Banks/Naomi vs. Paige/Becky Lynch. Becky, Paige & Naomi looked great last night as well, but it was clear that Sasha Banks was the star of that match. Same goes for Charlotte and Brie. You see them in the ring, and you think ‘That one. That one is going to be special.’ Charlotte has the pedigree and Ric god damn Flair’s DNA, but she’s so great it doesn’t matter. Sasha can bring up how she doesn’t have a famous daddy yet look how far she’s come, and it simultaneously works for her but doesn’t sound like a detriment to Charlotte. Yes Charlotte is a Flair, but she’s also pretty damn great in the ring, and she’s earned her way to the top. Charlotte, Sasha and Nikki circling the top of the Diva’s division with the rest of the women developing strong secondary storylines is so awesome. Whens the last time there were two Diva’s matches on Raw? When’s the last time they were both great? This obviously has to go beyond the actual wrestling, but the future of the Diva’s division looks very bright.
One of my favorite parts of the show was Rusev’s backstage interaction with Lana. I don’t want to sound like a huge asshole, but Lana kind of deserves everything she’s getting. Dating Dolph Ziggler and expecting him not to get hurt which leaves you to fight your Bulgarian ex boyfriend and his new version of you is like going for a swim and expecting not to get wet. Not the best comparison, but you catch my drift. Nobody gets hurt like Dolph Ziggler. So Lana attaching herself to him was pretty dumb. Secondly, she did screw Rusev over multiple times. Whether it was for his safety or not, you can’t throw in the towel on a guy who is fighting for Vladimir Putin’s honor. That’s how people die, Lana. So to see Rusev and his Summer Lana was not only satisfying, it was kind of hysterical. Rusev kissing Summer Lana while staring directly in Lana’s eyes was some HEEL shit. Following that up by telling Lana she doesn’t look so good was downright mean, but I loved it. Rusev has been one of the best characters on WWE TV for about 9 months now. Get this man a title shot!
“How ’bout that, huh?”. That is my new favorite phrase, and Cesaro main evented (and won) on Raw, so for now, all is well with the world. Orton got the hot tag and the pin, but Cesaro was my favorite part of the match, including the end with the giant swing/catapult into an RKO. Tell me you wouldn’t want to see Orton and Cesaro tag up and start catapult RKO’ing everybody in the world. Another really solid Raw with a bunch of good matches, and they set up the main event for Summerslam. Call WWE butter, because they’re on a roll.
Overall, WWE Battleground was a very good show with some great wrestling. Besides that, the mother f’ing Undertaker returned to tombstone Brock Lesnar twice and pretty much confirm that they’re going to have a match at Summerslam. It was an awesome moment, and the only downside is that Brock Lesnar isn’t the champ. The good thing is that Lesnar has signed a multi-year deal, so he’ll be back in the title picture eventually. For now, The Undertaker wants revenge for the only blemish on his otherwise perfect resume: the WM 30 loss to Lesnar. If this was anyone else, I’d find it hard to believe that Taker can be a legitimate opponent for Lesnar after he literally almost murdered him at WM30. But this is The Undertaker, and Lesnar is a skilled enough performer to make us believe whatever it is the WWE wants to make us believe. Just look at his facial expressions last night. They were magic. I can’t wait for Raw.
WWE Battleground is this Sunday, and it’s actually a pretty great card for a “throwaway” pay per view. When you think of WWE pay per views in the summer, MITB and Summerslam usually jump out at you, while Battleground is more or less a filler show. Thanks to back to back stellar Raw’s, Brock Lesnar and the US title picture, Battleground could end being a really good show. Let’s get to the preview and predictions!
Pre-Show Match: King Barrett vs. R-Truth (Winner gets Barrett’s KOTR crown)
I honestly don’t know what to say about this match. King Barrett, who has been a chronic loser going on a year now, finally got thrown a bone with a King of the Ring victory. How does WWE capitalize on that? They feud him with R-Truth, who wears a sheet and has a plunger and have them fight over who is the real king. Not only that, they have him lose to R-Truth on multiple occasions. No one with two arms and two legs should be losing to R-Truth in 2015, especially a guy as talented as Barrett. I’d say Barrett goes over here, but does it really matter? When he had the IC title, I thought him losing it would rid him of some kind of invisible curse. Maybe if he loses here AGAIN, he’ll finally get a character and a feud worth watching.
Winner: R-Truth, and then everyone hysterically sobs themselves to sleep.
Randy Orton vs. Sheamus
This is another feud that really doesn’t have many people’s interest. Orton returned from a short period off to attack Sheamus while Michael Cole screamed about REVENGE, and I honestly didn’t know what was happening. Why was Orton mad at Sheamus? Because Sheamus won MITB and Orton didn’t? I honestly have no clue, and WWE hasn’t exactly followed up that attack with anything close to explaining what’s going on. While Rollins and Lesnar are tearing it up in the main event and John Cena is putting on five star classics with Owens, Cesaro and Rusev, the old guard of Orton and Sheamus are proof positive that change is a good thing. Headlocks and drop kicks just aren’t going to do it anymore. Either you tell a good story and change things up in the ring, or you’re losing the crowd’s interest. Orton and Sheamus are both skilled performers, but they are severely stuck in their ways. My best guess for this match, based upon how the WWE is booking Sheamus, is for an Orton win via disqualification or count out. Sheamus seems oddly attached to that case, and seems to duck out of matches to hold onto it even though it’s never on the line.
Winner: Orton via shenanigans
Bray Wyatt vs. Roman Reigns
This needs to be Bray Wyatt’s coming out party. He’s the most interesting character WWE’s had since The Undertaker, yet every interaction he has is on the big screen in a dark room. All his promo’s, minus the actual words, are the same. I don’t care how talented and charismatic you are, if you do the same thing for years people are going to get sick of it (cough John Cena cough). Bray could offer so much more if he was given the chance to explore outside the box. Add in the fact that he’s had two really important matches in WWE and he’s lost both of them, and you have a great character hanging on by a thread. Roman Reigns is going to be around for a long time no matter what happens with this feud, but WWE has a chance to make Wyatt a top shelf villain here. Reigns doesn’t have the momentum he had going into WM31, but he’s still a popular face who can be used to prop Bray up. Wyatt/Reigns should be a big time feud for the next decade, and I’m hoping this is one of many meetings the two will have. You know they’ll deliver in the ring physically, but will they be able to tell a good story? Only time will tell.
Winner: Bray Wyatt
IC Title Match?
Now that Ryback is out of action with an injury, the WWE can conceivably do one of two things. 1. Have Miz and Big Show fight to see who the #1 contender for the IC title is while everyone at the arena and at home goes to the bathroom or 2. Bring in the 9 Divas from Raw and have themselves a triple threat tag match that tears the house down midway through the show. My personal vote is for number 2, as it gives Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha a WWE pay per view debut with zero pressure, and it gives the Divas a boost of adrenaline after that awesome segment on Raw. Do the right thing, WWE. Give me a ‘Banks Statement’ on a live WWE pay per view.
Tag Team Championship Match: Prime Time Players (C) vs. New Day
If the WWE tag team division has any forward momentum, it’s thank to these two team. Whether it’s on commentary, cheering outside the ring, promos or their in ring work, the PTP and New Day have been great for a couple months now. The frustrating thing is we knww they’d be great, but they never got a real chance to let their personalities and skill set shine. Now they’re getting that chance, and the result is a guaranteed fun segment every time they’re on the TV. Big E and the rest of New Day’s shouting promo’s are one of my favorite things on WWE TV, and Titus O’Neil hot tags continue to be a thing of beauty. I’m not sure he knows how to do a scoop slam, but that’s fine, because he’s big and strong enough to fling just about anybody on the roster. As far as the actual match goes, I think PTP retain. As great as these two teams have been, there’s really no depth to the tag team division. While another PTP win should eliminate New Day from title contention, they could switch up their team, rotating members of New Day which technically creates a different team. Relish these matches now, because when The Uso’s come back, there’s going to be a bunch of jumping and slapping thighs.
Winner: PTP (Titus gator bark)
U.S. Championship Match: John Cena (C) vs. Kevin Owens
The semi main event is the US championship grudge match between Cena and Owens, and raise your hand if you thought the US title picture would be the hottest thing in the WWE heading into Summerslam. Since we’re on the internet I can’t see if anyone is raising their hand, but I’ll just assume no one is. Post Rusev John Cena has been amazing, and I kind of never want this version of Cena to end. He’s almost lost matches to Neville, Cesaro and Rusev, all while defending the US title on a daily basis and making Kevin Owens seem like the greatest thing in wrestling. Owens has been great, but if you switch Cena for anyone else in this feud I guarantee you it doesn’t have the same affect. With Cesaro and Rusev now in the title picture, I’m hoping for a triple threat or fatal four way match at Summerslam, but first comes Sunday night. Owens lost his NXT title to Finn Balor in Japan, so the obvious choice is him winning here. But does he beat Cena clean again? 99.9% of the time the answer to that question is no, but this is a different WWE we’ve seen lately. The NXT women got to maul the WWE divas on Raw, Cesaro is wrestling 20 minute classics every week, and Kevin Owens, once again, is the most important man in wrestling right now. And for the first time in a long time, if John Cena beats a younger guy in a big time match, it will make sense. Cena has busted his ass to make everyone around him these last few months seem important, so if he wins here, it’s a job well done. But I think Cena’s got one more loss to take before he’s revitalized.
Winner: and NEW US Champion, Kevin Owens.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match: Seth Rollins (C) vs. Brock Lesnar
So this is going to be awesome. I’ve written about this match at length during my Raw recaps, but there isn’t a better matchup today then Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar. This is almost like Angle vs. Lesnar all over again, if Angle was a 29 year old fitness freak who could do a Phoenix Splash. Lesnar has somehow gotten better with age, and he’s matched up with an in his prime mix of Shawn Michaels and Eddie Guerrero. Lesnar’s new specialty is suplexing people. Seth Rollins takes a suplex like I can drink a beer: very well. Add in the wrinkle that Kane and J & J Security have been taken out by Lesnar, and we’re promised a David vs. Goliath battle where everyone wants David to get murdered. The popular consensus is that Lesnar wins the title here, BUT there was a bit of news that came out yesterday that could change all that. Which leads me to this…
The Undertaker is going to cost Brock Lesnar the World Heavyweight Championship. It’s a crazy theory, but it makes all the sense in the world. The Undertaker has ONE unchecked item on his career list, and that is his loss to Lesnar at Mania. He proved he can still go at WM31, and recent pictures that have surfaced show him training and in really good shape. Plus, WWE isn’t exactly great at subtlety. They’ve been mentioning Kane’s family a lot on TV lately, and with Kane out with an “ankle injury”, maybe his brother comes back to avenge him and his own loss at WM. Paul Heyman brings up the breaking of the streak every chance he gets, so why wouldn’t Undertaker want revenge? It makes all the sense in the world, and I think it’s happening on Sunday. The best part about this? Any ending besides Kane or J & J Security interfering to help Rollins would make me happy. They’ve sent this feud up beautifully, and if Rollins or Lesnar wins clean, I’m down for it. If The Undertaker returns and costs either one of them the belt? I will shit my pants.
Winner: Seth Rollins
SHAME – According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio, former WCW Champion Sting is set to appear at WWE Summerslam. This comes on the heels of news that The Undertaker is set to return as well.
Meltzer said that Sting’s return has been a plan for a while, and isn’t due to the ratings dropping. In addition to this, it was noted that it won’t be a surprise appearance at the event, and that it’ll be built up over several weeks. Apparently WWE had a plan set for Sting’s return, but those plans changed due to an undisclosed injury to one of the parties involved, and a new plan was made.
Sting was last seen at WrestleMania, when he made his WWE in-ring debut in a losing effort against Triple H. It is now expected that he’ll also be participating in next year’s WrestleMania.
So WWE’s summer programming just got A LOT more interesting. While this a rumor for now, Wrestling Observer Radio is as close as it gets to a sure thing in the world of internet wrestling rumors. This opens up a world of possibilities, as Sting and Taker could fight each other at Summerslam and then have a rematch at Mania, or they could enter separate feuds for Summerslam but still end up crossing paths for Mania. Undertaker looked about a decade younger at this year’s WrestleMania compared to WrestleMania 30, and Sting proved he can still go with his insane match against HHH. What does all of this mean? I have no idea, but Battleground, Summerslam and the next month of WWE programming just got a whole lot better.
I included this in my prediction blog under the Wyatt/Undertaker match, but it deserves to be singled out. No lie, I watched this video last night and it gave me chills, and I’m somehow more pumped for this match than I was earlier in the week. I really hope this is Wyatt’s coronation ceremony and he beats ‘Taker, but just thinking about the entrances alone has me all jazzed up. Kudos to WWE once again for putting together the best video packages, period. If you want to see if wrestling can still affect people, take a look at some of those faces in the crowd when Undertaker lost last year. Even after all these years, he still gets you invested in his matches. I cannot wait for Sunday.