Brock Lesnar’s Best Matches Since 2012

(Originally Posted Jul 2018)

I was a big defender of Brock Lesnar for a long while, I liked the idea of the title not being on every Pay-Per-View and a champion that felt genuinely unbeatable. However in the last year or so, it’s become pretty hard to defend.

Now, a Brock Lesnar match is not so much a treat and more just something you have to sit through (with a meer 3 matches in 2018 so far), and having him holding the Universal Championship has made the belt the single least important thing in the entire WWE; but that’s not to say Lesnar hasn’t had his fair share of great matches.

Sure, he had plenty of great matches in his original ’02-’04 run, but I want to talk about the phase of his career that people knock, so with the announcement that he will be defending his title at Summerslam (maybe), I’m going to talk about some of Lesnar’s best matches that have taken place after his WWE return in 2012.

vs AJ Styles – Survivor Series 2017

To think that this match was originally going to be Lesnar vs Jinder Mahal…

Starting off with the most recent match on this list, Lesnar vs Styles was the match we were all hoping it would be. Going into the match, no-one believed that Styles was going to beat Lesnar here, but goddamn that wonderful man if he didn’t make us all believe for a brief moment.

This match started with Lesnar trying to do his usual boring formula, but Styles forcing him to up his game. Styles knows how to bump with the best of them and he used that to great effect here, and it made his slow comeback really entertaining. The match ended at a fever pitch, with Styles having the beast on the ropes on multiple occasions, and while it did only take one F-5 for Lesnar to put Styles down, you felt like he only just scraped the win.

Now yes, you have to give a lot of credit to Styles when you talk about how great this match was. Styles is unquestionably one of the best wrestlers in world right now, and he put a hell of a lot of work in to make this match something special; but Lesnar’s contribution should not be discounted. I mentioned earlier how Lesnar really upped his game for this match and I stand by that, not to mention that Styles’ comeback wouldn’t have worked were it not for Lesnar being the perfect monster opponent for him to fight against.

vs Goldberg – Wrestlemania 33

This match was a car crash; but sometimes car crashes are fun to watch.

So what if this match was only 5 minutes long? Can you honestly say you wanted it to be longer? To put on an entertaining match, these two had to destroy each other and that’s exactly what they did. It was signature move after signature move and by God it got me pumped watching it. In this era of technical masterminds and amazing in ring action, we often forget how fun it can be to watch two jacked up dudes try to kill each other for our entertainment.

Not much else to say about this match, but I couldn’t have asked for more.

vs The Undertaker – Hell In A Cell 2015

While their match at Wrestlemania 30 will go down in history for obvious reasons, the match itself wasn’t anything to shout about. This match however, was fantastic.

After the aforementioned Mania match and a further good but confusing match at Summerslam, I can’t say I was expecting a whole lot from their grand finale, even if it was to take place inside Hell In A Cell; but boy did these two prove me wrong. In this match, Undertaker went harder than he’d gone in a good couple years and Lesnar responded in kind.

Within the first 5 minutes, both men had been busted open and it only got more insane from there, with both men going at each other like you would expect age-old blood rivals to. The match also told a great story, with Undertaker desperately trying to prove that he can still go, and Lesnar proving that his Streak ending win at Wrestlemania wasn’t a fluke.

The pace didn’t slow either, including one point where the doctors came to check on Undertaker, and Lesnar threw them to one side to keep beating on him, in a moment that I honestly still don’t know if it was planned or not. With the match finally building to a climax involving the ring padding getting ripped up – which is a very rare spot to see in WWE – Lesnar got the win, with both men looking like they’d gone through hell. Brilliant.

vs John Cena – Extreme Rules 2012

This was Lesnar’s big return match, he hadn’t been in the WWE since 2004, and in the time he’d been away, he’d won both UFC & IWGP heavyweight championships…let’s have him lose to John Cena!

Jokes aside, this decision didn’t really make much sense to me, while I understand Cena was coming off the back of the biggest loss in his career to The Rock, surely it would’ve served the story better for their eventual rematch if he’d kept losing, and really bottomed out like they claimed he did a year later.

Regardless of the result, the match was undeniably a great one. With the two men using the Extreme Rules stipulation to its full effect, and while Cena’s comebacks were often pretty contrived and formulaic, the style that the two worked in this match made it feel much more organic and exciting and set a pretty high bar for Brock Lesnar matches going forward.

vs John Cena – Summerslam 2014

Two years later, the two men would clash again, and this time, things would go down very differently.

The WWE landscape had changes a lot since 2012, Daniel Bryan had just vacated the WWE championship due to injury, and Cena won it pretty much by default. So when he was faced up against the one in 21 and 1 at Summerslam 2014, everyone was pretty sure things would go down the same way it had two years prior; and how wrong we were.

Lesnar DOMINATED Cena, in a match that was completely unprecedented at the time. I remember watching this match with a live internet chat, and the entire time Lesnar was beating Cena down everyone was waiting. Waiting for the inevitable comeback where Cena pops up, wins out of nowhere and strolls off into the sunset smiling away; but it never happened.

The beast incarnate just kept on beating Cena down until eventually that was it, Lesnar was WWE Champion. It was such a shock at the time to see this formula that had been established as the standard for nearly decade to be completely shattered in just 15 minutes. While this “Suplex City” formula would eventually become the borefest that it is today, at the time it was like nothing we’d ever seen, and created a lot of intrigue into where everything would go.

vs Roman Reigns – Wrestlemania 31

This is the reason I was so annoyed with Lesnar vs Reigns this year, because we’ve seen them do so much better, and this match is proof of that.

This was a match that everyone was dreading going into it, but towards the end everyone was on their feet, and that was before Rollins entered the picture. I don’t know what it was that was lacking this year, but for this match something between these two guys just clicked. Reigns did use the Cena template a bit, kicking out of a lot, leading Lesnar to get more frustrated and vicious.

The story told was a very good one aswell, with Lesnar still seeming unstoppable until by some fluke of nature, Reigns was able to bust Lesnar open, and from that moment on Lesnar began fighting like a wounded animal, taking every chance he good to strike, as Reigns slowly got more and more offence in.

While this match will be remembered mostly for Seth Rollins swooping in with the Heist of the Century™, it’s important that we don’t forget the match that preceded it, since it was one of the best of both men’s careers.

vs John Cena & Seth Rollins – Royal Rumble 2015

And now, we finish our John Cena trilogy with the best of the bunch, and the addition of Seth Rollins.

This match was everything a Triple Threat match should be: fast, action packed and full of excitement. With Cena vs Lesnar 4 set for Royal Rumble 2015, it was looking to be another pointless and boring match, but at the last-minute, Seth Rollins was slotted into the match as well; and it was just the shot in the arm this match needed.

Rollins was able to run circles around both men and forced them to up their game and quicken their pace to keep up. While it was never in doubt that Lesnar was walking away with the title, this match allowed that thought to fade away and it dragged you into the action, and there were certain point where part of me believed any of the men could win.

While Lesnar did spend a large chunk of the match taking a nap on the outside of the ring, the match wouldn’t have been as exciting as it was without his presence. Every time it looked like Cena or Rollins was about to pick up a win, Lesnar would appear and lay waste to everyone, until finally one mistake by Rollins allowed Lesnar to pick up the ring and retain the title after an exhilarating match.

vs CM Punk – Summerslam 2013

This is without a doubt, my favourite Brock Lesnar match of all time.

The match uses a similar formula to that of Lesnar vs Styles, but there are a couple of added layers to it. First is that of Paul Heyman, the whole idea of this story was that Heyman had turned on Punk after years of friendship and Punk was out for revenge, this meant there was a lot of Heyman getting involved and interfering the benefit of Lesnar.

There was also the no disqualification stipulation, which allowed for the two men to go nuts when it came to destroying each other in the match; Punk especially used weapons to his benefit, as he slowly wore the beast down. Also, it was genuinely hard to tell who was going to win, at this point in time, Lesnar had already taken major losses to both Cena & Triple H, so he wasn’t the unstoppable monster he is today, which means everyone was genuinely invested in every nearfall and fully behind Punk when it came to hope spots.

Lesnar would eventually win the match thanks to Punk being too obsessed with getting his own back on Heyman, and the storyline would sadly peter out after this match, but it doesn’t take away from the fantastic match these two men put on that night, and that’s what makes it the best Brock Lesnar match since 2012.

And that’s it! I know saying nice things about Brock Lesnar isn’t very popular in the wrestling landscape right now so I hope you’ve enjoyed.

As always please share this around and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo; and finally, make sure to come back on Saturday for Episode 2 of The Strong Style Podcast!

 

WWE Money in the Bank 2018: Every Match Ranked

(Originally Posted Jun 2018)

Well, Money in the Bank is in the books for another year, and what a show! Not every match knocked it out of the park, but overall there was a lot to love about this show, and I’d argue it may in fact be the best WWE main roster show of the year so far.

Instead of doing a traditional review however, I’ve decided I’m instead going to rank the matches from worst to best; and, as with all my rankings, they’re based solely on how much I enjoyed each match.

So let’s start off with the crap and work our way up:

10 – Carmella(c) def. Asuka
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Honestly, I had a hard time deciding how to order the number 9 and 10 spots, because both matches were equally as bad, but in the end, I felt the finish to this match put it over the top. For one thing, everyone knew Ellsworth was going to show up here, so his appearance didn’t exactly make for much of a surprise. More importantly than that, it made Asuka look like one of the biggest morons ever, as she just blankly stared at him for a good minute before Carmella rolled her up, Asuka would then kick out, only to go back to staring at him for some reason; Carmella would eventually kick her in the face and win the match.

I know WWE babyfaces do sometimes suffer from tunnel vision when it comes to distractions, but this one really took the piss, there were plenty better ways that this could’ve been done without making Asuka look like an idiot.

9 – Roman Reigns def. Jinder Mahal

CM Punk! CM Punk! CM Punk! CM P- oh sorry, force of habit.

This match was a tad frustrating to watch, ignoring the fact that the crowd were legitimately not even watching for most of it, these two showed the kernel of a great match, but kept squandering it. If this match was about 5 minutes shorter and a bit of a quicker pace I think I would’ve quite enjoyed it, but instead they would pause for about 15-20 seconds after every move which just amplified the boredom of it all. In a match like this where the crowd is ready to shit all over it at a moments notice, you don’t want to give them time to do just that, go full speed, so they don’t have a chance to chant “CM Punk” or “Boring” at you.

Regardless, I thought what we got was a slow and boring match that built to a very predictable conclusion.

8 – Bobby Lashley def. Sami Zayn

It’s weird putting this match so low because it wasn’t particularly bad, it’s just that nothing of note really happened during it. Pretty much all you have to do is imagine a standard match between these two in your head, and that’s exactly the match we got. Sami trying to be sneaky and using it to get a leg up on Bobby, but Bobby eventually overcoming him and taking him to town. The finish was a tad unexpected, but I guess that’s the problem when you don’t properly establish a wrestler’s finisher, no-one knows what to expect.

Overall, this match was fine, but nothing really worth talking about.

7 – The Bludgeon Brothers(c) def. The Club
(Smackdown Tag Team Championships)

While the result of this match was never in question, it certainly was a fun ride getting there. I was worried these two teams wouldn’t really mesh well together; combine that with a slot on the pre-show and you’ve got a recipe for a boring match, but this was quite enjoyable in my opinion. It was a pretty basic story, with The Club coming out of the gate like a house on fire in an attempt to stop the monsters that are The Bludgeon Brothers from getting one up on them. This wouldn’t last as a beautiful double dropkick on the outside would bring things back into their favour, eventually the match built to a nice conclusion, with Harper tackling the fuck out of Anderson as they were setting up for the Magic Killer and transitioning very smoothly into their own finisher.

While pretty inconsequential, this match was a very fun watch, and is a good example of what a pre-show match should be.

6 – Daniel Bryan def. Big Cass

I must admit, when I was putting this list together I expected this match to be a lot higher up than this, just goes to show how much good stuff there was on this show really.

This match hit just the right spot for me, and showed that a match doesn’t always need a multi-layered build as long as the in-ring storytelling is good; and that’s just what this match had. It told a simple story, and it told it brilliantly, we all know Daniel Bryan works best when he’s the underdog, and he fit that role greatly here. Cass would beat him down viciously, but Bryan would pick his spots right and take advantage, to the point where near the end, it was a very solid back and forth contest. Daniel’s sudden burst of energy style worked really well here, as it felt like the knee plus at the end really came out of nowhere, and the crowd reacted perfectly; following that up with the leg lock to tap the big man out was a great finish to a great match (and hopefully, the end of this feud).

5 – Ronda Rousey def. Nia Jax(c) v. Disqualification
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Ronda Rousey is just a natural at this.

I was a little worried that Nia might not be the right opponent for Ronda’s first singles match, but those worries were quickly dispelled; Ronda is a fantastic wrestler, with a whole bunch of talent, even if she is still a little green, she’s able to work a brilliant match. Speaking of which, I really enjoyed this, Ronda tried coming out of the gate fast, but Nia quickly put that idea to bed, and the whole match was the story of Ronda learning and adapting to Nia’s style. This lead to an excellent comeback from Ronda which built to a perfect crescendo until…

Alexa Bliss – who had won the Women’s Money in the Bank briefcase just a couple of hours earlier – rushed the ring and laid Rousey out. I said in my predictions that I didn’t want Alexa back in the title scene this quickly, but after seeing this I take that back. Having Alexa cash in and steal the title right away adds so much to this story, it gives you a get out so you don’t have to turn Nia heel again, it gives Ronda an arguably perfect opponent going forward, and in the end, I really feel like it will elevate all 3 women in the process. I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

4 – AJ Styles(c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura
(Last Man Standing, WWE Championship)

I had a lot of trouble getting into this match at first, I’ve said before that the magic is sort of gone with these two now, so I went in with no hype at all and that made it hard for these two to really grasp me with their performance. However as the match went on things picked up a lot, the pace didn’t really get much faster, but the action was substantial and engaging enough for me to enjoy myself. There was a lot of carnage and fun stuff (including the best dick kick I think I’ve ever seen) so I had a good time watching this match. My only real issue is that, there wasn’t a lot of tension, it was pretty obvious when either man was about to miraculously get up at a count of 9, and it was pretty obvious that the finish was going to be the finish. However that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the match that much and I liked it overall.

I can’t say I’m thrilled with the result though, while I love AJ and am glad he’s getting such a long title reign, I really don’t see what you can do with Nakamura now, all the momentum he gained from the heel turn is gone now, and he’s pretty much back to where he was six months ago, it’s going to take a lot of work to build him back up again in my eyes. That said, if the rumours are true, and tonight he’s going to be revealed as the cover star of this year’s video game then I understand why you’re keeping the belt on him, but please, let’s just give up on this feud now, maybe revisit it in a year or so, but it’s done all it can for now.

3 – Seth Rollins(c) def. Elias
(Intercontinental Championship)

I don’t think Seth Rollins even knows what a bad match is.

Another one that was a little slow to start but built to a brilliant match, every beat of this was excellent. While Elias isn’t the most gifted of wrestlers, he was able to slot into the role needed for this match perfectly. He’d do his best to keep up as Rollins ran circles around him, while he waited opportunistically for a chance to strike, there were a lot of nearfalls in this match and I believed damn near every one of them was the finish. The actual finish was great though, Elias’ spot picking finally backfired as Seth reversed a roll-up into a roll-up of his own (and a handful of tights) to surprise Elias.

This was a great way to keep the belt on Seth without making Elias look weak, and it leaves the door open for a rematch, either on Raw, or at Extreme Rules, so I’m looking forward to how this one progresses over the next month.

2 – Alexa Bliss wins the Women’s Money in the Bank Briefcase

Now THIS was the match we were all hoping for last year, and it really was a great one.

It wasn’t perhaps what we’ve come to expect from ladder matches, but it was certainly a great watch all the same. While ladder spots were kept fairly minimal, the main story of the match was more about all the different women’s relationships with each other and how they would respond to each other in these scenarios, you had pairings like Charlotte & Becky, and Ember & Naomi briefly teaming up, and clear motivations from the girls who clearly hate each other, like Ember Moon & Sasha Banks, and literally anyone & Lana.

The finish was a tad wonky, either Becky or Alexa got their timing wrong and it left Becky having to deliberately not win the match for a couple of seconds while Alexa climbed into the ring, but that didn’t really take away from what as a great match; and while I may have thought Alexa was a weird choice at the time, what happened later on with Nia & Ronda made it clear that she was a great choice to win the match.

1 – Braun Strowman wins the Men’s Money in the Bank Briefcase

There was just so much carnage in this match, it’s hard to break it all down.

So first off, holy crap Braun Strowman is quite simply the world scariest human, the dude rises from under a pile of ladders like he’s the terminator; he threw Kevin Owens off the top of a 15-20 foot ladder, presumably to his death since we’ve not seen him since; he then ran THROUGH a ladder in order to get back to the ring, before beating everyone up and quite literally shaking Kofi off his back to grab the briefcase.

It wasn’t all Braun though, as everyone got great spots in, Finn with a Coup-de-Grace from the top of a ladder that was outside the ring, Miz sprinting up the ladder while everyone was busy with Strowman, Joe flattening just about everyone; Rusev crushing three people at once, and of course Kofi jumping all over the place.

I could go on for ages about all the mad shit that happened during this match because there’s just so much of it. This was a great match and exactly what a multi-man ladder match should be.

Braun as the briefcase holder was a great choice too, because you really don’t know when he’s going to cash in. Sure, my gut says the second Reigns beats Lesnar at Summerslam, but it could easily be way after, or even before then.

And that’s it! Overall this was a great show that I shall certainly look back on fondly at the end of the year, and I hope WWE can keep producing shows like this going forward.

As always make sure to share this around on social media and follow me on Twitter @10ryawoo, and also follow @lauren_cmonster for editing these ramblings of mine.

I’ll see you all later this week with another Triple Threat Review!

 

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.