The Best and Worst of the Money in the Bank Briefcase

(Originally Posted Jun 2018)

It’s that time of year once again, where we get to see who WWE is going to be putting their stock in for the future of the company. Well at least that’s what WWE want us to believe, while the Money in the Bank briefcase has created stars and amazing moments in the past, it’s had its fair share of duds in its time too.

So before we look forward to June 10th, let’s look back on the best, and the worst of previous year’s Money in the Bank winners.

Worst: Edge’s False Start

It’s one of the big iconic moments in the history of WWE, a bloodied and beaten John Cena sits in the ring with his WWE Championship after going through the grueling Elimination Chamber, only for Edge to come out with the briefcase in tow, to pick the bones and gain the WWE Championship for the first time in his career.

While that is an awesome moment, what is often neglected, is what came after it. While he would create one of the most iconic moments in Raw history by having sex live in the ring, he would drop his title back to John Cena less than a month later at the Royal Rumble and that was that. Edge wouldn’t win his title back until July that same year, and even then, he lost it to Cena again little less than two months later.

Luckily, this wasn’t a death sentence for him, since he would win the briefcase for a second time from Mr Kennedy a couple of years later to much greater success, but this first win wasn’t the crowning achievement WWE want us to think it is.

Best: Back to Back

There are many parallels to be drawn between the careers of Edge & CM Punk, and their Money in the Bank wins are no exception. Punk’s first contract win didn’t really do him many favours, cashing in on a beaten down Edge, his tile run was very forgettable, and he didn’t even lose it in the ring, he was simply stripped of it after Legacy attacked him backstage. However one year later he was given another shot, winning the contract for a second time, becoming the first and (to this day) only man to win the contract in back to back years.

This time he would cash in on Jeff Hardy, who had just won the championship after a grueling match with Edge, and it would mark the beginning of what – for my money – is one of the best singles feuds of either man’s career. The entire feud was built around Punk’s straight edge lifestyle versus Jeff Hardy’s free spirit, the two played off each other perfectly and it led to a string of fantastic matches. During this feud, Punk would drop the title to Hardy before winning back in the rematch, he would then hold the title until that year’s Hell in a Cell PPV, where he would lose the title to The Undertaker in one of the most one-sided Hell in a Cell matches I’ve ever seen.

Despite a rather disappointing beginning and ending, CM Punk’s time with the Money in the Bank briefcase led to a very entertaining run with the championship and helped build up his legitimacy for what he was to do in the years following.

Worst: The Ones that Failed

A Money in the Bank cash in is usually the most exciting thing to happen on any given WWE show. Even when you see it coming a mile off, watching the briefcase holder sprint to the ring and claim his match is quite the buzz. So it takes the wind out of your sails a bit when the man who cashes in the contract, ends up taking the fall.

First was John Cena, this one wasn’t a particularly exciting cash in anyway, since he announced it ahead of time to take place in the main event of Raw 1000; it didn’t get any better once the cash in actually happened though. While the match between Cena and then champion, CM Punk was a good one, it ended in a move perhaps pretty symbolic for WWE in 2012, as CM Punk would retain the title via Disqualification after Big Show interfered in the match. The Rock would then come down and clear house before CM Punk notoriously turned heel by attacking The Rock. While all that was fairly entertaining, John Cena, the actual briefcase winner, was the least important factor in the whole thing.

Next up was Damien Sandow, his briefcase win was extremely surprising to begin with, and with the power of hindsight it would be quite amazing to think of what Sandow’s career might’ve been had he won the World Heavyweight Championship. However it was not to be, it seems WWE management gave up on him pretty quickly. John Cena had just returned and won the World Heavyweight Championship from Alberto Del Rio, and WWE already had plans to unify both World Championships, but since there was no way Sandow was getting in on that action, they had to remove him from the equation, so in the most underwhelming cash in history, Sandow interrupted a fresh John Cena to cash in his contract, at which point the shows cuts to commercial; I don’t think there’s ever been a more telltale sign that nothing interesting is going to happen. Low and behold, nothing did, after a pretty underwhelming match, John Cena retained his championship and that was that.

Now we come to the most recent Money in the Bank holder, Baron Corbin. Him winning the briefcase last year felt like a given and most people predicted him to win the match, alas, he did and held the briefcase for a good few months. During this time the Jinder Mahal experiment was in full swing and he had a WWE Championship match with Shinsuke Nakamura just around the corner at Summerslam. while a lot of people believed Corbin would cash in on a victorious Nakamura, that wasn’t to be as 5 days before hand on Smackdown is when Corbin would strike. He cashed in the briefcase to a huge pop since literally anything was better than Jinder Mahal, only for John Cena to pop up on the apron, Corbin would get distract, Mahal rolled him up and that was that. It’s still not really clear what exactly he did to upset WWE officials, but while he’s slowly fighting back to relevance on Raw right now, he’s yet to recover, and who knows if he ever will.

Best: One Night Stand

RVD was arguably the single hottest star to come out of the invasion in 2001, and it never felt he ever reached the heights he should’ve, being stuck on Raw while Triple H went on his reign of terror meant he never got the main event spotlight he deserved, this would all change in 2006 however, when RVD won the Money in the Bank briefcase, and he announced that he would be cashing in that contract at ECW One Night Stand 2006, against the champion John Cena.

An ECW crowd was always a very unique and vocal crowd as such, they were ready to tear the place apart if Cena were to walk away with the championship. Luckily the riot was averted, as following a Spear from Edge and a 3 count Paul Heyman, RVD won the WWE Championship for the first and only time in his career. It was a wonderful moment to see RVD get his well deserved crown in his home of ECW, however it was not to last…

Worst: Unfortunate Circumstances

So it’s no secret that RVD is a man who enjoys smoking marijuana, and regardless of what you think of that, it’s undeniably got him into a fair bit of trouble over the years. This was one such time, as he was pulled over as he was travelling between WWE shows and was subsequently arrested for possession of marijuana. Since this was in breach of WWE’s newly established Wellness Policy, RVD was subsequently suspended from the company and stripped of his WWE Championship.

It’s always a shame when a champion doesn’t lose their title in the ring, but this was especially disappointing since it finally seemed like RVD was being given his due. It’s hard to tell how long he would’ve held his WWE Championship as a couple of months later it was back over John Cena’s shoulder, and there’s nowhere that RVD would’ve really fit into the picture. Regardless it’s a real shame that such a beloved performer had his glory stripped in such underwhelming fashion.

Best: Yes!

Daniel Bryan has had quite an interesting relationship with the Money in the Bank briefcase, but more on that later. Bryan’s first experience with the briefcase came in 2011, there were several times he attempted to cash in, but failed. But finally at TLC that same year he would succeed. Taking advantage of Big Show and Mark Henry destroying each other in the match that preceded, Daniel Bryan broke his promise to the Big Show and cashed in his briefcase moments after Big Show finally defeated Mark Henry.

However, the most notable thing about this title run is how he lost it, infamously at Wrestlemania 28, in the opening match, Daniel Bryan would lose his World Heavyweight Championship to Sheamus in 18 seconds, however in hindsight, this was good thing, as it would cause the crowd to get behind Bryan like the hadn’t before and that support would eventually launch him to his crowning glory two years later.

Worst: Sheamus

While for the past year and a half, I’ve been loving Sheamus has one half of The Bar with Cesaro, he never really enthused me as a singles star, I just found him rather boring, and 2015 was when he was at the height of this boredom. I remember going into this match, I thought to myself that I’d be happy with literally anyone in the match other than Sheamus winning, and Vince clearly heard that thought and decided to spite us all.

My main problem with this isn’t even so much about Sheamus himself however, it’s that it was so clear from the moment he won the briefcase that the sole purpose of him winning the briefcase was as a tool to get Roman Reigns over. Admittedly it did work, albeit very briefly, but it always annoyed me how transparent it was that getting Reigns over was the only purpose of Sheamus ever winning the briefcase, so I don’t look back on this one very fondly.

Best: What’s Best for Business

Daniel Bryan vs The Authority is an interesting storyline, because while there was a lot of bad in the middle, the beginning and the end were done to perfection.

Daniel Bryan was riding his monumental wave of popularity into Summerslam 2013 where he would face off against John Cena for the WWE Championship, with Triple H in the background as the special guest referee. After one hell of a great match, Daniel Bryan would finally reach the top of the mountain as he toppled Cena to win his very first WWE Championship. It was a glorious moment, but it was not to last as Triple H revealed his true colour, laying out Daniel Bryan and allowing Randy Orton to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase and become the face of the WWE.

This moment was fantastic writing, and it set everything in motion for 8 months later when Daniel Bryan would finally get his own back at Wrestlemania 30 and reach the top once more. That moment wouldn’t have been possible without this one, so it gets it’s due.

Worst: The Tragic Tale of Dolph Ziggler

It’s become one of the most iconic moments in the history of Monday night Raw: The night after Wrestlemania 29, after almost a year of waiting, Dolph Ziggler finally seizes his opportunity and claims the World Heavyweight Championship.

However, that’s pretty much all of the good there was from this championship reign. Ziggler was set to defend the belt in a triple threat ladder match at Extreme Rules, that probably would’ve been an extremely good match, however on an episode of Smackdown Ziggler suffered a concussion at the hands of Jack Swagger, which put him out of action for a few weeks meaning plans had to change.

Upon his return, he was set to face Alberto Del Rio at Payback, in a match where the story was Del Rio trying to give Ziggler another concussion, which wasn’t great considering a couple of years later, many former stars would sue the company for concussions they suffered in the WWE. Del Rio would win the title in that match, and Ziggler would get a rematch at Money in the Bank, where AJ Lee would interfere and cost Ziggler the match and that was that.

Ziggler’s shown flares of life since then, but for the most part he’s never been able to climb back up and smash that glass ceiling, I like what he’s doing at the moment, but that’s only thanks to Drew McIntyre, who is the person WWE actually want to push as a major star in the near future. It’s a sad tale, but sadly not an unfamiliar one.

Best: The Heist of the Century

How could it ever be anything else?

In my time of being a fan of professional wrestling, this was the single most exhilarating and awesome moment I’ve ever seen, and that feeling comes rushing back to me every time I think about this moment.

In the main event of Wrestlemania 31, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were putting on a surprisingly good match, but everyone knew that it was moving to the inevitable conclusion of Roman Reigns as WWE Champion, which no-one wanted. But suddenly, in a move no-one saw coming, while Reigns and Lesnar were both down, Seth Rollin’s music hit and the crowd EXPLODED, he sprinted down to the ring and a couple of Curb Stomps later, Seth Rollins was the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion.

I’ve talked in this article about how many people would have a very underwhelming title reign following a cash in, and to some extent this was true of Seth Rollins, but in this case I don’t think it matters. No matter what happens for the rest of Rollins’ hopefully long career, that image above, will be the single image that defines his career, and what an image it is.

Well that’s all folks! I had a nice break from the wrestling content after going through 3 PPVs in a month last month, but I’m happy to be getting back into it in the build up to Money in the Bank, in what currently shaping up to be a pretty good show!

As always please share this post around, and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo and my lovely editor @lauren_cmonster, and I’ll see you soon!

 

WWE Backlash 2018 Predictions

(Originally Posted May 2018)

Well, we got a whole 9 days rest, but it’s time for another WWE Pay-Per-View. Thanks to the single week of proper build, this doesn’t feel like that important of a show, but looking at the card it could have some pretty good matches; however that doesn’t stop it feeling like it’s mostly setup for Money in the Bank next month.

Still, let’s arbitrarily speculate over what we think is going to happen at the show.

Braun Strowman & Bobby Lashley vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

The problem with meaningless matches like this on PPV’s is that it’s always so difficult to predict a winner, because ultimately it doesn’t matter. We make up a scenario that justifies whatever pick we make, but in actuality the exact opposite is just as likely to happen.

As such I’ve gone back on forth on this one a lot. On it’s surface it seems like a no-brainer, but Owens & Zayn are new arrivals on Raw and they’ve been getting their arses kicked week after week on TV. So I think Owens & Zayn are going to pick up a win here, there’s no way it’ll be clean, my money’s on a count-out of some description, but somehow, they’ll walk away with the victory.

Jeff Hardy(c) vs Randy Orton
(United States Championship)

This has gotta be Hardy right? No-one wants to see Orton hold that title again, not even Orton because he’d have to be on TV every week. You’ve got Shelton Benjamin waiting in the wings to pounce the winner anyway, and Hardy vs Benjamin should be a great match – if a little 2007 for my tastes. I don’t really have much else to say here, any feud where Randy Orton is the focal point isn’t really worth talking about, so Hardy wins and onto the next one.

Nia Jax(c) vs Alexa Bliss
(Raw Women’s Championship)

This match is really nothing more than a formality, they’re having this rematch because that’s what logic dictates they do. I don’t really see anything interesting coming out of this and there’s no way Nia Jax is losing that title this soon. Maybe we’ll see her next challenger appear at the end of the match but I doubt it, we just need to get this out of the way so we can see what’s next.

Daniel Bryan vs Big Cass

I like how this entire feud is about Bryan being small, yet on that graphic, they’ve made him seem taller than Cass. Bad Photoshopping aside, I really don’t see Cass winning this one, this is Bryan’s first single feud since returning and Cass already got his ‘win’ over Bryan be eliminating him from the Greatest Royal Rumble match. I think Bryan will probably go on to be in Money in the Bank, and Cass will go on to beat up someone lower down the card, maybe even stick his head in the US title scene. Either way, I’m picking Daniel Bryan to win this one.

Carmella(c) vs Charlotte Flair
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This is an interesting case, because I think we all know how it’s going to go down, yet I still think it has the potential to be interesting. As for what is definitely going to happen, Carmella is going to retain, and it’s going to be via some form of dirty finish, probably involving The Iconics.

However, I don’t really know what the match up until that point is going to be like, Carmella is by no means one of the best women’s wrestlers, but she’s certainly not bad, and Charlotte can easily work with her to make the match a fun watch. I just think it’s more down to how heavily they want to go in on Carmella having to use cheap tactics to win. But, be it a win, or cheap loss, Carmella is leaving Backlash with that title.

Seth Rollins(c) vs The Miz
(Intercontinental Championship)

Another formality that it just feels like we need to get out of the way here. There’s no way that IC title is going over to Smackdown, so as a result I’m entirely confident Seth Rollins is winning the match. I think Miz is going to go back to how he was wrestling about a year ago in this one, wrestling safe and taking a few choice shots here and there to try and pick up the win, and when you combine that with Seth’s fast paced, babyface offense we could see a really entertaining match come out of it.

We also have to consider what the Miztourage are going to do here, because they’ve been trying to buddy up to Seth and Finn these past few weeks, but they might still try to help Miz. What I think would be quite funny is if they try to help Seth, but keep screwing it up and Seth ends up having to work around their incompetence. Regardless, Seth is walking away with that title still over his shoulder.

Roman Reigns vs Samoa Joe

This one is quite a tricky one to call in my mind, because both men really need to win here. Reigns has just come off losing to Lesnar twice (even if he didn’t technically lose the second one) and needs to start picking up some wins before they face off again; while Joe inserted himself into Smackdown’s main event scene on Tuesday and needs to win here and legitimize his claim.

It’s so weird what Reigns losing at Mania has done isn’t it? If Reigns had won at Mania, this would be a no-brainer, and yet he lost and it’s cast doubt on every big match he’s had since. Ultimately, I think Joe can lose here and still insert himself in the main event for Money in the Bank, and Reigns can’t afford to start losing to everyone, so I’m going to say Roman Reigns picks up the win here.

AJ Styles(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
(No Disqualification, WWE Championship)

In my review of the Greatest Royal Rumble, I talked about how each match these two have will to build on the last, until we get that 5 star match we’ve all been hoping for, however just a week later, I’m not so sure that is the case. This doesn’t feel like the blow off to their feud, but at the same time, I don’t think we’re going to get another singles match between them for at least a few months. As such, I’m starting to feel like it’s time to shit or get off the pot with these two, and while I think this’ll be the best match of the three, I don’t think it’ll be the big one we all want.

As for who’s going to win, they can’t just keep handing Nakamura losses can they? If he loses here, he sorta loses all claim at staying number 1 contender, so I think this’ll be the one where Shinsuke Nakamura finally picks up the title from Styles, leading to a triple threat at Money in the Bank, which includes Samoa Joe.  I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will be good, but I’m not entirely hopeful.

And that’s everything! This show really could go either way in terms of quality, and I like to remain optimistic, but we’ll see. Either way, make sure you come back on Monday for my review of the show!

Please make sure you share this around and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo as I’ll probably be live tweeting the event! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

 

WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Review

(Originally Posted Apr 2018)

What an evening! This was quite the mixed bag of a show, and there’s a whole lot to unpack, so let’s not waste any time! Here is my match-by-match review of the Greatest Royal Rumble:

John Cena vs Triple H

This was a great match to open the show with if you ask me, as it really set the tone going forward; That tone being, a show more focused on having fun, than on progressing stories, and I think, for the most part, it was much better for it. If you imagine in your head what a modern Cena vs Triple H match would be, that’s exactly what this match was, nicely paced spots to get the crowd going followed by a whole bunch of finishers and kickouts, for John Cena to eventually get the win with two consecutive AA’s. Nice, simple, fun match to get things going.

Cedric Alexander vs Kalisto

This match followed pretty much the same formula as the previous one, only with a very different style of wrestling. My main problem with the cruiserweights, is on Pay-Per-Views, they don’t let them so cruiserweight matches, they just let them do cruiserweight spots. You watch any singles match on 205 Live in the past couple months and compare it to the PPV matches and you’ll see a whole world of difference between the style of matches. There was no reason for Cedric to spend 5 minutes working a hold to ground Kalisto, when Cedric is very much a high-flyer himself.

That said, there was also a lot to enjoy about this match, the cruiserweight spots they did are always fun, and when Kalisto has a good opponent to work he shines, the Spanish Fly from the top rope was especially fun, even if Kalisto did decide to do an extra flip once he landed. The finish was also great fun as Cedric Alexander countered the Salida-Del-Sol into the Lumbar Check to retain his title.

Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt vs The Bar

This match is a weird one for me, because I remember watching it, and enjoying it while it was going on, but thinking back to it now, I can’t remember a single thing that happened during it. Since rewatching it however, I’ve seen it was more of what we’ve come to expect from both these teams. The Bar are fantastically talented, and they’re going to thrive in the tag scene on Smackdown, but I’m mostly interested to see how this Matt & Bray thing reaches its final form, so to speak.

While I’ve been having fun watching it, there still feels like there’s a lack of cohesion between the two, Bray feels like he needs to adopt more of Matt’s tendencies in order to fit this gimmick; This is inherently a silly storyline and Bray still feels like he’s trying to be too serious. That said, now these two have the titles, they’re going to likely be getting a lot more development over the coming months and I look forward to seeing where this goes next.

Jeff Hardy vs Jinder Mahal

I mentioned in my predictions that, when Jinder is forced to work a faster pace, he can put on a decent match, and I think we saw that here. Jeff Hardy could easily wrestle circles around Jinder, but he did a very good job of keeping up to make a very enjoyable, if inconsequential, match.

It wasn’t all good however, the weirdest botch of the night in my opinion happened in this match when:

– Jeff goes to the top rope for Whisper in the Wind

– Jinder, with no sense of urgency, gets up and walks off

– Jeff pauses, looks back, sees that Jinder isn’t there anymore

– Does the flip onto nothing anyway

– At which point Jinder walks up to Jeff AND JUST FALLS OVER

I honestly can’t even work out what they were trying to achieve, but I can safely say that, unless it was an attempt to confuse me, they very much failed at it. Luckily the match picked up again after that, for Jeff Hardy to win the match with a Swanton Bomb.

The Bludgeon Brothers vs The Usos

I think we all went into this not expecting much. As much as the build has been fantastic, the match at Wrestlemania was certainly nothing to shout about, and I was certainly expecting another glorified squash here. But to my surprise, these two teams put on a competitive and fast-paced match that was thoroughly enjoyable. The Usos were able to keep that feel that they were fighting against two horror movie villains, just desperately trying everything they could to keep them down, throwing out Superkicks and Splashes like they were nothing. It was all to no avail however, as The Bludgeon Brothers continue their dominance, and retain their titles.

Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor vs The Miz vs Samoa Joe

This match proved something quite crucial I feel, which is that ladder matches don’t just have to be about ladder spots. I mean don’t get me wrong there were plenty of ladder spots in this match, but it was all laced together with a healthy dose of pure wrestling and good story-telling aswell. The main story of this match being that Finn Balor just cannot catch a break.

There were so many points in the match were he had his fingertips on the title only for someone to knock him down, and make him start all over again. This was typified by the finish, in which Seth Rollins performed his second best heist of the century, leaping out of nowhere onto the ladder, yanking the title pretty much straight out of Balor’s hands and dropping to the floor, winning the match.

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura

So I, along with many others, was rather disappointed by the match these two put on earlier in the month at Wrestlemania, but after watching the past month of Smackdown and this match, I’m starting to understand the thought process behind it. This feud is one that is going to slowly build to its cresiendo over the course of several months, they’re going to have many matches, and each one is going to build on the last; and that is exactly what we saw the start of here.

Like I mentioned in my predictions, the change in dynamic really helped out this match, because this match felt a lot more like a fight than a wrestling contest. You can tell that AJ is – rightfully so – tired of Nakamura hitting him in the balls every week, and his anger was let out during this match, there were a lot of stiff shots and hard-hitting offense. While a double count-out finish is never the most exciting outcome, in this scenario it helped build this story, you saw it in AJ’s face, he doesn’t care about winning this match properly anymore, he just wants retribution for what Nakamura did to him. This thing is just going to keep building over the coming months, and when it finally blows off with that 6 star match we all know they can put on, every single step of this will all seem worth it.

The Undertaker vs Rusev

Well, this was certainly more of a match than I was expecting it to be. There was never any question as to the winner of this match, especially when you realise that the casket was actually too short to fit The Undertaker in it, but that’s beside the point. What was a surprise was just how much offence Rusev was able to get in on Taker, to actually make it seem like more of a balanced match. It did eventually end in the quick-fire greatest hits, and Aiden English fully bouncing on his head off of a Tombstone Piledriver, but at the end of the day, that’s exactly what everyone wants from an Undertaker match.

Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns

Honestly, who gives a fuck at this point?

This match, was exactly what you were expecting it to be, and that’s it. There was no wrestling at all, both men just spammed their signature moves until it ended, and none of it had any drama or made any sense. We know that neither man is getting pinned 5 minutes into this match, no matter how many F-5’s or Spears they’ve taken. And then there was the finish…Jesus Christ, I’ll admit, the visual of Roman spearing Brock through the cage wall looked cool, but it made no sense.

They always make such a point of saying BOTH FEET have to hit the floor to win, but despite the fact, that no part of Brock’s body hit the floor, and Reigns rolled straight onto it Brock Lesnar was declared the winner. I understand them not wanting Roman to win the title in such an underwhelming fashion, but surely they could’ve come up with a way to do it that actually made some modicum of sense within this non-sensical universe of pro-wrestling. I guess we gotta wait till Summerslam now…

50 Man Royal Rumble

So this match was a hell of a lot of fun, but it was also very long, so I’m not discussing it beat by beat like I did in January, I’m just going to talk about some of my personal highlights.

First up is Daniel Bryan, I had a hunch he might start the match off and he did, alongside Dolph Ziggler, and Jeez did he work his ass off, I did get scared ona couple occasions, like when he didn’t quite flip out of Kurt Angle’s suplex properly and nearly landed on his head; and also when he was anywhere near The Great Khali. However he also had a whole bunch of great spots, his chop battle with Roderick Strong was great, and left his chest looking like a tiger cub had just had a go at him, and near the end where he almost single handed eliminated Braun Strowman, only to unfortunately thrown out by Cass, but man, 1:16:05 is a hell of a long time to do anything, it’s amazing to think two months ago we all thought he would never wrestle again.

One thing that disappointed me, is that there weren’t as many big surprises as I would’ve liked, they unfortunately spoiled some of their big surprises, like Mysterio, Khali & Jericho by announcing them ahead of time; but there were still some good ones in there. I hate Hornswoggle, but it’s nice to see him I guess, and it looks like he’s somehow gotten even shorter than the last time we saw him, but other than that there was nothing really big, with the exception of Strong, the NXT entrants were quite underwhelming, it sorta needed someone like Velveteen Dream or even Aleister Black to make a big impact.

Back to the highlights….Titus O’Niel, I am so sorry, but you’ve just secured your legacy for all the wrong reasons. For anyone who somehow didn’t see it, first of all, watch it, as Titus runs down to the ring, he trips, falls and slides almost entirely underneath the ring. The commentary team lose it and just can’t stop laughing, and neither could I, and from how many times they played it, I think Vince loved it too, who else would show 4 replays from 2 different angles in slow motion? This is the man who says pushing someone into a pool is the funniest thing in the world to him after all.

Finally is of course Braun Strowman, this was the big win he’s deserved for over a year now. I don’t really know what they’re going to do with him after this – my guess would be a feud with Lashley – but this gave back all the momentum he’d lost since Elimination Chamber. Not only that, but he did it in spectacular fashion, eliminating a record 13 men on path to his victory.

Overall, this was a show that, I don’t think will be remembered for much in the long run, but I certainly had a lot of fun while I was watching it, and thinking back to it now, I have pretty positive feelings, so overall that’s a win for WWE.

That’s all for now! Backlash is painfully, only 8 days away now, and I will probably be doing predictions and a review for that too, so keep an eye on this space! Or follow me on Twitter for updates, @10ryawoo. Thank you very much for reading, and I’ll see you again soon.

 

WWE Greatest Royal Rumble Predictions

(Originally Posted Apr 2018)

Well, here we are again, another WWE Pay-Per-View has come around and we must arbitrarily predict who will win, and who won’t. I make it sound like a bore, but I actually have a lot of fun with these, and this is kind of a strange one; On the one hand it feels like an over-glorified house show, but on the other it feels like it could be an even more important PPV than Wrestlemania. So here are my predictions for the Greatest Royal Rumble:

Cedric Alexander(c) vs Kalisto               (Cruiserweight Championship)

This one is very much the least important match on the card, as much as I hate to say it. While I think story-wise it would’ve been more interesting for them to have Cedric vs Drew Gulak, I can understand why for this show, they’d much rather just have a showcase match with their top talents. So overall I think this match will be a very fun one to watch, but I don’t see any other outcome other than Cedric Alexander retaining his championship.

The Bludgeon Brothers(c) vs The Usos (Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

The build for this one has been excellent, the Bludgeon Brothers have been treated like horror movie monsters over the past month and watching the Usos play off them has been fantastic. Ultimately I hope this feud just builds and builds, I want the New Day and The Bar to get involved as the dynamic between all of them could make for extremely entertaining television. As for this match though, I think there’s no question The Bludgeon Brothers retain, they’ve done such a fantastic job building them up, there’s no way they’re going to tear that down now.

The Bar vs Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt                            (Raw Tag Team Championships)

Well this one feels very much like a formality doesn’t it? While I thought the whole Braun & Nicholas thing was super fun, it did kind of throw everything out of whack a bit. So now we’ve got another match were the outcome is pretty obvious, since I don’t see The Bar going back to Raw with the titles. However, I am very interested to see what Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt will do with the titles, so far there’s not been a whole lot other than Bray adopting Matt’s catchphrases, but I remain hopeful that once they have the titles, this could blossom and grow in all kinds of interesting directions.

Jeff Hardy(c) vs Jinder Mahal                                       (United States Championship)

Again, this is a match that just feels like another formality. Admittedly, I did consider for a while the possibility that Jinder could win back his belt, for either Joe or Miz to take the IC belt and the brands swap mid-card titles once again, but in the end I just decided that was artificially adding layers of complexity to something that doesn’t really need it. However, I still hold out hope that this will be a good match, Jinder can have entertaining matches when his opponent forces him to work a faster pace, and I think Jeff Hardy could get a lot of out Jinder, and ultimately retain his US Title.

Seth Rollins(c) vs Finn Balor vs The Miz vs Samoa Joe                                                                                           (Ladder Match, Intercontinental Championship)

Could no-one be bothered to badly Photoshop the belt onto Seth’s shoulders like they usually do? Seems kinda strange, but I digress. The problem with having Backlash be literally 9 days after this, is that they sometimes book themselves into a corner. So Seth vs Miz is already booked for Backlash so it really means that only one of them will win this match, and while it makes the most sense for Seth to hold onto the belt, they’re really trying to make Miz the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time, and tieing the record for holding the belt with 9 would be a good way to achieve that. However, I’m going to go with the logic on this one and say Seth Rollins retains.

The Undertaker vs Rusev                                                   (Casket Match)

Undertaker.

Next.

John Cena vs Triple H

Oh hello 2006, I didn’t see you there.

I really have no idea what to make on this match, it exists purely to sell tickets and means nothing to anyone in the grand scheme of things and really…I think that’s a good thing. If this was bogged down by a story I think it would be really boring, but as it is, it’ll probably just be a really fun, house show style match. Ultimately I think John Cena will win, just because it’s the crowd pleasing option, and that is really what this show seems to be about.

AJ Styles(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura                               (WWE Championship)

So, I was rather underwhelmed by their Wrestlemania match, it felt like a pretty bog standard WWE style world title match; but now, I have a lot more faith in them to put on the match we were all hoping for at Mania. Heel Nakamura has been an absolute gem to watch and his new entrance theme is boss as fuck, and I’m hoping this shift in dynamic is exactly what’s needed to make this match something worth talking about. As for the result, I’m finding that one a bit tricky to call, because part of me says that they’re going to pull the trigger on the title change, but another part of me says, there’s gonna be a wonky finish only for the title to actually change hands at Backlash. However, I think I’m going to go with my first instance and say Shinsuke Nakamura finally picks up, his first world championship in the WWE.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Roman Reigns                                  (Steel Cage, Universal Championship)

In a move that no-one saw coming (and if you did see it coming, you’re a liar), Brock retained the Universal Championship at Wrestlemania, and at first it was very confusing. Then one night later, this match was announced and suddenly it all made sense, they were saving Roman’s coronation for this big event, at a crowd that’s much more likely to cheer him. So yes, I do think Roman Reigns, is going to pick up the title here. I’m not sure what kind of match we’ll get, as we’ve seen both great and horrible from them; and I don’t know if the steel cage will help or hinder the match, as it’s done both in the past. I also don’t know what’s gonna happen with Brock after this, some sources claim he’s out the door, other sources claim those reports are false, so it’s all up in the air. Which, who knows, might make for an interesting time….probably not though.

50 Man Royal Rumble

And now, for this entire show’s namesake, the “Greatest Royal Rumble” which in reality is just the longest Royal Rumble, where the winner gets….a trophy? I mean I can almost guarantee you that the winner will claim a world title shot anyway, but it’s really not been made clear what the point of it all is. Either way, I think there are two men who have a shot at winning this thing, and here they are:

First up is Braun Strowman, everyone (myself included) loves Braun, and they can’t keep him down from the world title forever, not only would this be a huge thing for him to hang his hat on, I also think rekindling his program with Reigns would be a great way to kick off Reigns’ title run. Other than that, I just think it would get a huge crowd reaction, but not as big as…

Daniel Bryan, this is the man my money’s on to win this thing. I’ll admit, from a story perspective, there’s not really a whole lot of reasoning to it, but if you’re looking for the biggest crowd reaction to the winner of this match, then Daniel Bryan is your man, the place would explode if he won it. Plus, look me in the eyes and tell me you would want to see a Bryan vs Nakamura feud.

So that’s it! That is all of the matches predicted! In a weird way, I’m really looking forward to this show, even though I don’t think it’ll be super memorable in the long run, but hey, who doesn’t love a Royal Rumble.

Be sure to share this around wherever you can, and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo, where I’m likely to be live tweeting the show! I’ll see you later in the week for my recap of the show!

 

WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Review

(Originally Posted Jan 2018)

So the Royal Rumble has been and gone, and we’re officially on The Road To Wrestlemania, and….well it was a bit of a mixed bag I guess, the highs were high and oh boy, the lows were very low; let’s get started.

Kickoff Show Notes:

There’s not a whole lot worth talking about on this show. There was the 6-Man Cruiserweight Tag Match and while it was a fun match, it doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

The Revival vs The Club was up next and the Revival got their win back from Raw, again a solid match, but nothing to write home about.

And finally, Bobby Roode’s US Open Challenge in which Mojo Rawley came and got him some; and I honestly can’t remember a single thing about this match other than Roode won, so on with the show…

AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Good to know WWE had about as much faith in this match as I did, putting it on first. This match was about as good as it could’ve been with all the crap surrounding it, Styles can get a 4 star match of anyone, and Owens & Zayn did a good job of working a Revival style match. But ultimately it didn’t feel like anything special, it just felt like your standard tag team match, except one guy never tagged out. I said in my predictions that I just wanted this whole story to be over and done with, but it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case, since AJ Styles would roll Owens up off a Pop-up Powerbomb, only for Owens to claim he wasn’t the legal man. Honestly I can’t really tell if he was or not, a case could really be made either way, because yeah, it looked like Zayn and Owen’s fingers touched, but does that really count as a tag? Will this story ever end? Do I even have the capacity to care anymore?

The Usos vs Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable

Now we go from the perfectly fine to the downright disappointing. By all rights, this should’ve been match of the night, The Usos are fantastic wrestlers and both Gable & Benjamin shine when they have the right opponents, but boy was this a waste. I had a feeling that if any match was gonna get cut short for time, it would be this one, and sadly I was right. They put on a good back and forth for a good ten minutes before The Usos scored the first fall, which I thought was a little odd, but fair enough; and then about five minutes later, one of the Usos rolled up Shelton for the second fall and the win…..oh, ok then. Ultimately it was what it was, and while it lasted it was a fun match, it just should’ve been given way more time and been way better.

30 Man Royal Rumble

Finally, I get to talk about something I enjoyed. This match was goddamn excellent, personally I think it’s one of the Top 3 Rumbles of all time, let’s break this thing down beat by beat.

So at Number 1 was Rusev, fantastic placement if you ask me, the whole Rusev Day thing is super over, and he does great work with it, there’s a reason the crowd spent a good 70% of this match chanting “Rusev Day”. He was then followed out by Number 2, Finn Balor, and honestly when he came out at number 2, I believed he was going all the way, again a great placement. So they fight for a little bit before Rhyno comes out at 3, and then Baron Corbin comes out at 4. He eliminates Rhyno pretty quick before Balor dumps Corbin out of the match aswell, at this point Corbin gets all mad and lays out everyone in and out of the ring, again a great booked move, Corbin’s out of the match early but still retains all his heat by laying out 4 dudes at once. And yes I said 4 dudes, because number 5 was Heath Slater, resident punching bag of this match. Corbin lays Slater out before he can even get to the ring, and we get 60-90 seconds of staring at dudes laid out on the floor, but it all makes sense when number 6 hits the ring, Elias.

Elias is absolute gold with his role on the roster, and he really seems like he’s enjoying it as well, so he gets to sing us a little song in the ring while everyone else is taking a nap until Number 7, which may honestly be my favourite surprise of the night: Andrade “Cien” Almas. Since I didn’t do a review of NXT Takeover I’ll talk about it quickly here, Almas vs Gargano is so far my match of the year, and I’m including Wrestle Kingdom 12 in that statement, I was blown away by that performance and I am now all in on Almas, so seeing him here was a fantastic surprise. At this point the entrances seem to be picking up the pace a bit, and we get Bray Wyatt and Big E and numbers 8 and 9 respectively; Big E trying to feed Heath Slater some pancakes was a nice funny little spot. Then we get Number 10 who is of course Tye Dillinger, except it’s not as we cut backstage to see Tye being laid out by Owens and Zayn, for Sami Zayn so then take his spot in the Rumble. I get that this probably just existed so Shane has something to be mad about on Tuesday, but Zayn was only in the match for about 5 minutes and didn’t do anything of note in that time, so what really was the point?

Now we move into the Mid-card quick-fire round of the Rumble, it can’t just be me who thought the entrants were coming in way less than 90 seconds during the teens right? Anyway, Sheamus is next out at number 11, and he finally ends Heath Slater’s misery and rolls him into the ring…only for Slater to turn around and throw Sheamus out in 2 seconds, brilliant move here, giving Slater a moment like that will always get a pop and it’s a fun little thing to see, however it was short lived as Slater was himself thrown out straight after. Next up we had Xavier Woods at 12, and Apollo Crews at 13, again nothing of real consequence happened and then we got Shinsuke Nakamura arrived at number 14, and I’m gonna be honest with you I got very worried when Nakamura came out that early, I was really starting to doubt my prediction for him to win. Nakamura did his big spots and we continued with our quick-fire mid-card round, as 15, 16 and 17 were Cesaro, Kofi Kingston and Jinder Mahal.

Things started to pick up after this, as Seth Rollins arrived at number 18 wearing the most 80’s attire I’ve ever seen, and WOKEN Matt Hardy at 19. We got some nice interactions between Bray & Matt, with them working together to eliminate Rusev (who lasted a whopping 30 minutes) before fighting a whole bunch and eliminating each other. Then, we move into the penultimate phase of the Rumble as number 20 arrives….John Cena. We get a nice little sequence where everyone left in the ring gangs up and tries to beat down Cena, before he fights back and lays everyone out, before eliminating Elias, who got a really good showing in this match. But never mind that, because we’ve got number 21, The Hurricane! This was a totally unexpected surprise, albeit a short one, since in a callback to THAT moment in the 2002 Rumble, Hurricane tries to throw Cena out, but fails miserably and gets himself eliminated by Cena. Number 22 then hits the ring, and the Rusev Day chants start-up once more, as it’s Aiden English. But he doesn’t really do much, but then we get number 23, Adam Cole Bay Bay! This was another great surprise, that I didn’t see coming at all, he didn’t really do much in the match itself, but it was cool to see him.

The ring then fills up a little bit with no eliminations as Randy Orton, Titus O’Niel and The Miz enter the match at numbers, 24, 25 and 26 respectively. I don’t quite understand how or why Titus lasted as long as he does in this match, I know six minutes doesn’t seem very long, but given that he basically just sat in the corner for five of them, seemed kinda pointless. Anyway that doesn’t matter as we get our final surprise of the match at number 27, Rey Mysterio! Dude looks chiselled as all hell nowadays, looking way better than he did when he left WWE in 2014. He swiftly eliminates Adam Cole, which kinda sucks, but it’s Rey Mysterio, so I’m not gonna complain. But then we have to bring the mood back down again for number 28, as it’s everyone’s favourite, Roman Reigns. He gets a couple quick eliminations throwing out Titus O’Niel and then The Miz with help from Seth Rollins. But then Roman continues to be the worst person on the planet, as he throws out Rollins while his back is turned, I kinda wish Rollins had a more annoyed reaction to Roman doing this rather than just the “Oh shucks! You got me!” look he had on his face; Just because your a face, doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to get upset dude.

Then we get our last two entrants, which are both kinda weird…number 29 is Goldust. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Goldust, but 29 seemed like a really weird place for him to enter, if he’d entered in the mid teens he could’ve got some good spots off and kick that nostalgia gland a little, but instead he didn’t really do anything before being eliminated by number 30, Dolph Ziggler. The thing is, this wasn’t really the surprise WWE thought it was, because everyone had been predicting it in the build up, hell some people even predicted Ziggler to win the damn thing. So he entered here to no fanfare and then got dumped out after two minutes….ok I guess?

But that’s the end of my complaining, because from this point out, it was all fantastic action. We move into the final 6, Mysterio, Cena, Orton, Nakamura, Balor and Reigns; we get a quick “old vs new” stare down and the fighting commences. Amongst the brawling Orton is eliminated by Reigns, and Mysterio is then eliminated by Balor and we have our final four. And I’m gonna be honest with you, my heart was in my throat here; all 4 of the guys I picked out in my predictions made it to the final four and I had absolutely no idea which way it was gonna go. They were able to harness that dread that all of the fans had of Cena or Reigns winning and turn it into some of the best tension I’ve ever felt while watching a match. There is a lot of back forth between all 4 guys and everyone gets their time to shine, but eventually time gets the better of Balor, and after spending 57 goddamn minutes in the match, he’s eliminated by Cena.

Then we see some fantastic booking, as Cena and Reigns team up to beat down Shinsuke, and I’ll tell you something, people have been complaining all year about people misusing Shinsuke Nakamura, and I agree with them, it’s been awful, but all of that bad booking was completely undone in the last 10 minutes of this match, as Nakamura looked like a million bucks. After a lot of back and forth, Nakamura blasts Cena in the face, sending him crashing to floor and eliminating him and we’re down to two. Nakamura vs Reigns, if Nakamura wins, the crowd will explode with joy, if Reigns wins, they’ll explode with anger. And oh boy was this tense, they slowed the pace right down, and hit big move after big move, no idea which way it was going to go. But eventually we could all celebrate as Nakamura launched Reigns over the top rope and down to the floor, making Shinsuke Nakamura the winner of the 2018 men’s Royal Rumble. After the match he declares he wants AJ Styles at Wrestlemania, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan vs The Bar

Looking back on this show, it makes me feel like the men’s Rumble match probably should’ve gone on last. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the women went on last, and I’m glad they got that opportunity, but the crowd were so tired out after the rollercoaster that was the men’s Rumble, none of the other matches really got the reception they deserved. Case in point, this match right here; this was a grear worked match, that told a really interesting story, but no-one was paying attention because of what had just happened in the Rumble.

But anyway, the story of the match was, Jason Jordan is literally the worst Tag Team partner in the world, which is weird when you consider he used to be a Tag Team specialist. Early on in the match, The Bar throw Jordan into the ring post, and he spends the rest of the match acting like he’s got a concussion of some sort, so Seth has to work the entire match on his own. And he did a bloody good job of it when you consider he’d just spent 20 minutes in the Rumble match aswell. So eventually, Jordan gets back up on the apron and tags in, only to suddenly remember his head hurts and tag straight back out; then he goes and as a nice little sit down on the ring steps while Seth gets his ass kicked. So unsurprisingly this leads to The Bar regaining their tag team championships, and I imagine Rollins will be very cross about it….you know, when he regains consciousness.

Brock Lesnar vs Braun Strowman vs Kane

I don’t know whether it was just because I was tired, or there was just nothing interesting about it, but I actually had to rewatch this match before I review it, because I could not for the life of me remember a single thing that happened during it. I mean, it’s pretty much what you’d expect the match to be, well, except for that one moment where Brock legit tried to knock Braun out. But yeah, lots of weapons, lot’s of chaos, but nothing super special. A fun watch, but nothing to write home about, as expected, the match ended when Lesnar dropped Kane with an F-5 and retain his championship.

30 Woman Royal Rumble

Alright, let’s do this then. This match was a weird one, the match itself was fine, but it wasn’t quite what I thought/hoped it would be/should’ve been. I’m not going to beat for beat on this one, because honestly there’s a lot less worth talking about, so I’m just going to mention the main points.

So at Number 1, Sasha Banks, who really was the MVP of this match, and she she started the match off against number 2, Becky Lynch. Half an hour is a very good showing, but I though maybe she should’ve lasted a little longer, there’s a lot of women rolling to the outside of the ring for no real reason in this match, and I think it would’ve been cool if every few minutes, Lynch & Banks would end up being the only women left standing over and over again and they just keep fighting.

Anyway, this Rumble is full of surprise entrants, the first of which is Lita at number 5, which is nice to see, people weren’t sure if she was on good terms with the company thanks to her not being at Raw 25 and her subsequent tweet about it, but here she is, and she got a damn good showing, and could still wrestle at a decent pace. Immediately following that though at Number 6 was Kairi Sane, I really feel like there should of been less “legends” in this match and more NXT competitors, Nikki Cross and the Iconic Duo especially should’ve got spots in this match, we didn’t need EVERY woman of note in this match WWE… However as disappointingly short as her appearance was, it was fun seeing Kairi and her wonderful elbow.

Throughout the match we saw appearances from legends like Molly Holly, who honestly hasn’t aged a day since we last saw her and Michelle McCool, who got a whopping 5 eliminations for some reason, no Lay-cool reunion sadly though. My favourite of the whole thing had to be Vickie Guerrero, and well done to everyone else in the ring for responding to her perfectly, completely ignoring her for a little while before all ganging up and getting rid of her; however the highlight had to be when she laid out Carmella with her own briefcase before storming off, I laughed so hard at that moment. Also Kelly Kelly was there, I don’t really have anything to say about her, but she was there.

Things started to pick up towards the end of the match, we got a fun save spot from Naomi, where she copied Kofi Kingston from 2013, only she did it better, because she just rolled the chair instead of trying to use it as a pogo stick. Nia Jax also got a really good showing, she got to do the big Andre the Giant spot, throwing everyone off of her. But if anything this encapsulates my main issue with this match, there was nothing new or unique, they were just re-hashing old spots that the men have been doing for years; if you truly want me to believe that the women really deserve this main event spot, then you’ve gotta be showing me things I haven’t seen before, I want to be blown away by these wrestlers, but I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed for a majority of this match.

That said, there was still plenty to enjoy, the confrontation between Ember Moon and Asuka was really fun, unfortunately Ember’s injured arm betrayed her, as Asuka sent her flying out of the ring like she was Wile E. Kyote falling off a cliff. Speaking of Asuka, she didn’t really look as dominant as I would’ve liked, I get the whole idea of having her struggle before winning, but I think it might’ve been better to just have her destroy every fool in her way, before having a tough final battle with someone like Sasha Banks.

Speaking of the finish, of course, The Bella Twins are so heavily involved, admittedly it was kinda nice to see them, and Nikki turned on Brie for what must be the 6th or 7th time by now. But eventually, Asuka overcame it all and became the first ever, women’s Royal Rumble winner.

While I did enjoy most of what I saw in this match, I just feel like it could’ve been so much more, and there was a whole lot of wasted potential in there, and as much as WWE like talking about making history, but they seemed to rely on it too much in this match. I get it’s nice to see people from the past, but maybe we could’ve got rid of people like Kelly Kelly and Torrie Wilson, to make way for the women of the future, since that’s what you seem to be patting yourself on the back so hard for at the moment.

And that’s it! I hope yo- What?

Oh right…

So after the match had ended, Asuka gets in the ring with the two women’s champions and is going to pick who she’ll fight at Wrestlmania, when suddenly, Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” plays and in some of the worst cinematography I’ve ever seen on WWE, the camera very slowly pans round to reveal that Ronda Rousey is here! And she does…..something? I don’t know, she eyed everyone up, pointed at the Wrestlemania sign in a moment that I’m sure looked cooler in her head and then the show ended.

There’s a lot of different opinions going around about this, but personally I think this was a trash way to end the show, it’s WWE trying to have their cake and eat it too. Ronda should’ve either been in the Rumble, or not there at all. It completely stole Asuka’s spotlight and also entirely undermines the entire point of having this “historic” match in the first place. Why did Asuka have to beat 29 other women to get this opportunity, when Ronda, who’s never been in the WWE, can just show up, point at a sign and get handed whatever she wants? Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to see what Ronda does going forward, but I just think this could’ve been done so much better.

And that’s (really) it! I hope you’ve enjoyed all of these words, I had a lot more to say about this show than I thought I did, let me know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @10ryawoo.

I’ll see you on Thursday for my first Pokemon-centric post!