WWE Royal Rumble 2020: Predictions & Analysis

Rejoice one and all! It’s Royal Rumble time again!

I don’t think it would be surprising for me to say that the Royal Rumble is perhaps my favourite Pay-Per-View of the year. The nature of the stipulation means that it’s always a really fun match to watch, even when it’s not actually all that good in terms of quality. It also means we’re going to finally start to get an idea of where the company is headed for Wrestlemania this year, as it seems management is leaving their decisions a lot later than usual this year.

As it stands, I’ve not been following the world of wrestling as closely as I normally do this past month; and that goes double for Raw & Smackdown. I don’t know whether it’s just the hecticness that comes with restarting everything following the holiday season, but either way, I’ve done my best to catch myself up so I can get predicting!

Shorty G vs Sheamus

It’s been a little while since his return now and I still can’t work out if I’m excited to see Sheamus or not.

I thought he was absolutely fantastic with Cesaro as one half of The Bar and absence does make the heart grow fonder, but I’ve never really cared for him as a singles star, especially when he’s running through guys I enjoy watching more, which is unfortunately where I think this one is going.

I think this match has the potential to be a fun one though, Gable tends to have great chemistry with bigger guys and as long as he’s not booked to be totally annihilated by Sheamus here, he should look pretty impressive in defeat. I think I’ve made it pretty clear already, but I’m picking Sheamus to win here. Sheamus has just returned and looks to be starting out a tear, it’s possible that Shorty G could sneak a rollup win and enrage Sheamus, but that just seems like taking the long way round to the same destination.

Andrade(c) vs Humberto Carrillo
(United States Championship)

As was expected when Lesnar moved over to Raw, the United States title has suddenly become a much more heavily featured title on the red brand, however, I can’t say I’m thrilled by this being the match that makes it onto Pay-Per-View.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Humberto Carrillo, but we saw him unsuccessfully fight Styles for the title so recently that I don’t feel like he’s built up enough credibility in order to be challenging for the title again and I highly doubt he’ll be winning it. I’m confident it’ll be a fairly enjoyable watch, since these are two guys that have similar styles, unfortunately, I think it’s probably going to land on the pre-show, meaning it likely won’t get the time it needs to be properly special.

Either way, Andrade is leaving with the title in tow, he just had a big (but rather condensed) feud for it with Mysterio and I think doing a quick switch over to Carrillo would squander this new-found credibility Andrade has built up for himself; and ultimately, I value Andrade’s credibility more than I do Carrillo’s at this point.

Roman Reigns vs King Corbin
(Falls Count Anywhere)

Oh yeah, this feud.

After TLC gave us exactly the crap we expected, I can’t say I’m all that optimistic about this match’s prospects. With The Usos recent return and Reigns & Corbin’s entries in the Royal Rumble match later in the night, I would’ve preferred to see some sort of 6-man tag match instead of another one on one affair. That said, if TV this month is anything to go by, it’s likely this will devolve into another clusterfuck anyway.

After Corbin got the win last month, I’d like to say picking Reigns to win here was an easy decision, but given that Reigns is one of the top contenders to win the Rumble this year, WWE might want to cast doubt on his ability to compete before appearing in the match; not to mention, if anyone’s going to inexplicably win for no real reason, it’s King Corbin. I’m sticking to my guns though and saying Roman Reigns picks up the win here, perhaps with a post-match beatdown in order to cast that doubt I was talking about.

Bayley(c) vs Lacey Evans
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

Wait really? A heel vs heel ma- wait, what do you mean Lacey Evans is a face now, that can’t be right…*furiously checks notes* Well I’ll be…

Having watched a lot of Lacey’s efforts as a face, I can’t say I’m all that convinced and neither are the crowds. Bayley & Sasha have done as good a job as they can to get heat by going after Lacey’s daughter, but I just don’t have any motivation to care about Lacey after spending most of the year as a heel who always loses and turning face without anyone even realising it for a couple of weeks.

Lacey’s definitely improved as a performer since her matches with Becky earlier in the year, but I’m still not overly confident this match is going to be all that great. Bayley’s title matches always tend to be the ones that get cut short and on a PPV like the Rumble, where we’ve got to squeeze in two separate hour-long matches, I don’t think this one is going to get the time it really needs to be more than mediocre.

As for a winner, it’s gonna be Bayley, I’d say this was an easy pick regardless because I don’t see Lacey Evans picking up a title this close to Wrestlemania. Additionally, there’s the fact to consider that Lacey beat Bayley clean on Smackdown in a non-title match and wrestling logic dictates there’s absolutely no way she’s winning on Sunday.

Becky Lynch(c) vs Asuka
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Ok, so apparently Royal Rumble 2020, just copied Royal Rumble 2019’s homework.

Not that I’m complaining though, this match was brilliant last year and I expect it to be brilliant this year too. I also think there’s a much better story going into the match this year, the whole thread of Asuka being the one person Becky’s never beat is something I wasn’t expecting to come up but they’ve used it to good effect and manages to make Becky seem like an underdog, which is something I haven’t felt about her since this time last year.

Unfortunately, the outcome of this match is a lot more predictable than last year, since it’s pretty clear that whatever the planned match is for Wrestlemania, it involved Becky Lynch going in as champion. As I said, I’m sure this match will be great and give us that reminder of why we all route so hard for Asuka to succeed, but I would be very surprised if Lynch didn’t get her win back in this one.

The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) vs Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)
(Strap Match)

Oh, so Royal Rumble 2020 also copied Royal Rumble 2014’s homework? I guess there are worse events to copy.

While I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of their Survivor Series match, I found the action itself to be a bit disappointing. I know now that it was necessary to tell this story to its full potential, but it felt quite one-sided and boring until The Fiend suddenly won out of nowhere. However, now that the story has been told, I’m confident this match will be different from the previous one.

In the past month, Daniel Bryan has once again been able to evolve his character even further than he did in 2018 and despite being the underdog babyface again, he feels like a very different person to the one that faced off against Wyatt before, both in 2014 and from a couple of months ago. As such, I’m hoping that this match will be a lot more competitive, creating a feeling of two equals competing, instead of one man kicking ass until he suddenly gets murdered.

A strap match is a bit of a weird wrinkle to add to the feud. I get why thematically it makes sense, but it still feels a bit out of nowhere and I can’t help but feel like it will hamper both men’s ability to person at their best. I know there’s plenty that can still be done with the formula, but it’s one of those matches where pretty much every spot needs to involve the strap in some way because WWE thinks we’re idiots.

That said, I don’t think the outcome is going to be any different from the previous two times we saw this match. The Fiend is still easily the most popular male wrestler in WWE right now and for him to be defeated here would feel like a huge anti-climax to its story. The match might be a lot closer than last time, but the outcome will be the same, with The Fiend Bray Wyatt holding the Universal Championship aloft.

Women’s Royal Rumble

This is the first women’s Rumble without a clear cut story going into it. With Asuka’s win, it was pretty obvious to most people that she was going to win and last year, although we weren’t sure whether it would actually BE Becky, we knew that story would be a huge factor in the winner of the match. This year though, there’s no such speculation to be found and it’s a bit of an open field in regards to who could win.

Since it would be a waste of everyone’s time for me to rundown all 30 entrants, I’m going to cover the 4 or 5 names that are currently being thrown around the IWC as potential winners and comment on what I think of their chances.

Sasha Banks – One of the longest standing rumours for Wrestlemania matches this year has been a 4-way match between all of the 4 horsewomen, which is something I definitely want to soo and Sasha winning the Rumble would certainly get us on that road. However, given how Sasha has been booked since her return, I’m not sure it would work, Sasha could easily go after Becky, with Bayley backing her up, but given that Charlotte is currently a face, I can’t see how she’d force her way into the match, so I’m saying no to Sasha winning.

Ronda Rousey – This one is pretty unlikely, but more unlikely things have happened in Royal Rumbles before. Ever since she left last April, people have been trying to anticipate when Rousey will return to get her rematch with Becky and this seems as good of a place as any. Given what Rousey has been saying in recent interviews about trying to organise a work/family balance it seems like she’s still in a stage of working out what she wants to do, so I think it’s going to be at least another 6 months or so before we see her back in WWE, but you never know…

Becky Lynch OR Bayley – Ok, this one is actually just me throwing my own theory out there, but hey, why not? Becky has all the motivation in the world to want to go after Bayley’s Smackdown women’s title, since Becky never got her rematch when Charlotte took the title from her in May, not to mention Bayley attacked Becky a few months ago when she officially turned heel. As for Bayley, it makes all the sense in the world for her to try and go for the double gold in order to prove she’s just as good of a champion as Becky, that was the whole theme of their Survivor Series feud.

Out of all of the candidates I’m discussing, this is the one I think is the least likely, but I’d certainly be excited if it happened.

Shayna Baszler – This is the most popular theory currently going around and if we’re speaking purely in terms of what I want to happen, I’m fully behind it. Baszler proved that she’s a big deal at Survivor Series and it’s clear that she and Becky still have unfinished business from that match. In addition to this, Baszler is a ready-made star from her run in NXT and this would launch her right into the main event scene.

Charlotte Flair –It’s going to be this one isn’t it? I don’t think many people will disagree with me that Charlotte Flair is bound to win a Royal Rumble at some point in her career, so why not this year? If the horsewomen 4 way is going to be the Mania match, then I think Charlotte winning the Rumble is the best way to go about setting it up. Have Charlotte go after Becky, only for Bayley and Sasha to heelishly get themselves involved, or something along those lines.

I really hope that Shayna is the one to win, but I don’t have the confidence to pick her, so I’m choosing the safe option and picking Charlotte Flair to win her first Royal Rumble.

Men’s Royal Rumble

My view on this match is much the opposite to the women’s Rumble because as much as there are a couple of people with an outside chance, I honestly think there’s only one real candidate to win this match, still, let’s discuss some others anyway.

Kevin Owens – While I think the chances of Owens winning this match are basically zero, I think it would be the most interesting person to win. Lesnar vs Owens is a money match and you’ve already got a match with Rollins lined up so that he doesn’t have to sit around a twiddle his thumbs because Lesnar refuses to do the February Pay-Per-View. It’s a massive shot in the dark, but if I had to pick who I wanted to win, Owens is my guy.

Seth Rollins – Pretty much just the flipside of the Owens argument, things going into Mania would look pretty similar, only with Rollins coming out victorious instead of Owens. I know we’ve already seen Lesnar vs Rollins twice, with Rollins winning both times, but if the dirt sheets are to be believed, WWE still doesn’t have much of an idea as who Lesnar’s opponent is going to be, so it’s all still up in the air as far as I’m concerned.

Cain Velasquez – Unfortunately, I think his match against Lesnar at Crown Jewel did some irreversible damage to Velasquez, at least in the short term, because I honestly don’t see him as any kind of threat. However, this is WWE and it wouldn’t surprise me if a full-length Lesnar vs Velasquez match ended up being the Wrestlemania plan and having a cross-over star, like Velasquez winning the Royal Rumble, would certainly make some headlines.

Brock Lesnar – Yeah, like Lesnar’s going to work a full hour. As he’s the WWE Champion, it would be just a tad counterproductive for him to win the Rumble, unless of course Lesnar vs The Fiend is what they have in mind, which I don’t think would be all that good of an idea. The general consensus from the IWC is that Lesnar is just in this match to set up a potential Mania match via whoever eliminates him from the match, which is a consensus that I agree with, there’s just no rationale for him winning.

Roman Reigns – It’s gotta be Reigns, right? What else is there for him to at Mania? The Fiend vs Reigns is a match that’s been rumoured since about September and it makes the most sense from a story perspective. Reigns is really the only face on Smackdown that’s higher up the totem pole that Daniel Bryan, so having The Fiend face anyone else would seem like an anti-climax. Not to mention, Reigns hasn’t even sniffed the world title scene since his triumphant return from his leukaemia in February, so I think it would be a great story to tell.

As for how the fans will react, it’s honestly hard to tell. Personally, I’ll be cheering if he wins, but the wrestling fan-base is a fickle one, so even if they’ve been pretty consistently cheering Roman Reigns since his return, they may suddenly turn on him if he’s going for a world title. I hope that doesn’t happen though because I think Reigns winning is the right move in the long-term.

So there you have it, those are my predictions for WWE’s Royal Rumble 2020! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please feel free to let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo. Finally, make sure to come back this time next week, where I’ll be running down my rankings of Doctor Who Series 5! (For real this time, I promise).

The Worst of WWE in the 2010s

In wrestling, a decade is an extremely long time. Given how ever-changing the landscape of the business is, when you look back 10 years at any given moment, you’ll find that the world that greets you is almost unrecognisable to what it is today. Wrestlers, writers and backstage figures come and go seemingly month to month in WWE, with the only constant seemingly being Vince McMahon and his merry band of mad old men, it means that a lot of change can occur in no time flat.

However, every now and then it’s nice to look back at what was, and see what some of the highlights and lowlights were from years past. With 2020 being just weeks away, now seems like as good a time as any to look back on both the best and the worst of WWE from the past decade, and we’ll be starting off today, with the worst.

8 – Roman Reigns’ booking

Now, I’ve been a staunch defender of Roman Reigns for many years now, I think he’s got a great look, and when he’s given good material and the right opponent, he can tell amazing stories and put on amazing matches. That said, creative really did him no favours at all.

After The Shield broke up one fateful night in May 2014, it was clear that all three guys were destined for big things, but none bigger than Roman Reigns. Being labelled “The Big Dog” playing off of The Shield’s moniker of “The Hounds of Justice”, it was obvious that Roman Reigns was going to become the next John Cena, there was just one problem.

As much as Roman Reigns shone in The Shield, as a singles competitor, he still had a long way to come, compare that to Rollins and Ambrose, who were already total packages and the fans rejected Reigns outright. In an era were the wrestling landscape was shifting to favour, smaller and more athletic styles of wrestlers, Roman seemed like the personification of the old way of doing things, the John Cena way, which everyone was well and truely tired of by 2014.

Every year, in the build to Wrestlemania, WWE creative would try to make Roman the top guy, and have the fans shout it down every single time. He won the 2015 Royal Rumble in a finish so bad that even The Rock couldn’t get him cheered because everyone wanted a returning Daniel Bryan to win instead. In 2016, Roman was getting cheered for the first time thanks to Sheamus being WWE Champion, but it was soon squandered when he became Triple H’s opponent for Wrestlemania when the fans were desperate for it to be Dean Ambrose’s time instead. In 2017, he was pit against The Undertaker in the main event of Wrestlemania, beating him and doing, what we thought at the time was retiring him, which went over about as well as you’d imagine, and in 2018, he main evented against Brock Lesnar in a match the fans didn’t even give a chance before booing it out of the building.

All they had to do, during any of these attempts was to turn the guy heel. When Roman stops talking and starts destroying fools is when he’s at his best, and we never got to see that Roman during any of these main events. The fans seemed to have cooled on Roman for now, but if they ever try the same thing again, there’s no way that it’s going to go down well. However, Reigns is perhaps just one example in a much bigger problem for WWE this past decade…

7 – Lack of Likable Babyfaces

As we’ll cover in “best” list, this decade has had a handful of mega-faces come through WWE. The kind of wrestlers that the fans love no matter what they do and will cheer relentlessly until they succeed, the problem here is that in most of those cases, it didn’t happen by design. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, all of those guys became these “mega-faces” on their own and, for the most part, WWE was actively trying to push against their rises until it was deniable.

This highlights a key problem that WWE has had for a long time now, which is that the people behind the scenes cannot book a likeable babyface to save their lives.

Ever since John Cena got as big as he did, WWE seems to have this idea that if they book EVERY face like John Cena, everyone will get as big as John Cena, but trying to make lightning strike twice is a stupid idea and it’s lead to every single babyface from this decade feeling like they’re exactly the same character. They walk around the place all-smiles, telling the fans how happy they are to be here and just trying to do the right thing and while that is a character that can work for some, for most it leads to the crowd getting bored of them.

I’ve covered Roman Reigns’ abysmal time as a babyface, but his Shield brethren have both suffered from similar problems during this decade. When Dean Ambrose first broke out as a face from The Shield in 2014, WWE seemed determined to shy away from the unhinged violent character that wanted to rip his opponents in half and instead had him doling out “whacky-lines”, squirting ketchup & mustard in people’s faces and beating up dummies with Seth Rollins’ wigs. Speaking of Seth Rollins, he was no different, he spent all of 2018 working his ass off, putting on some of the best matches of the year to the point where the fans got behind him full force, until suddenly he became Universal Champion and started getting booked like every other good-guy on the face of the planet, being drowned out by story and not letting his amazing in-ring ability (which is what got him over) speak for itself, to the point where just a month ago they were forced to turn him heel because the fans wouldn’t stop booing him.

As much as this is a problem at the top of the card, where it really hurts people is in the mid-card, there have been plenty of guys like Cesaro, Ricochet or Cody Rhodes who spent years trying to get over in the mid-card, with the fans loving their wrestling ability, but not caring about their characters because there was nothing making it stand out from the rest of the pack. I know a problem like that can’t be put entirely on the writing staff and you could argue that a truly great performer would “make it work” but honestly, the only person I can think of since the turn of the millennium who’s had the pure mic skill to make the goofy stuff work for them is John Cena and when you look at how someone like Cody has done since leaving WWE, it’s hard to deny that there’s got to be some sort of problem with the way WWE does things.

6 – Wasted Talent

In amongst WWE trying to push “their guy” to the moon, you have countless examples this decade of guys with all the potential in the world being totally wasted. This is nothing new of course, but thanks to the sheer volume of talent that was in WWE this past decade, it seems more egregious than ever before.

Guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan almost had their big runs squandered, but thankfully the fans pulled through and forced WWE’s hand both times. Then you’ve got guys like Dean Ambrose who, despite winning the WWE title, it never really felt like the company was actually getting behind them as top stars. I could carry on listing people all day that should be in the top spots right now but aren’t due to WWE’s lack of foresight.

Samoa Joe, Rusev, Cody Rhodes, Sami Zayn, Cesaro; Need I go on? Chad Gable, The Revival, Bobby Roode, EC3, Damien Sandow, Wade Barret, Emma, Asuka, Neville; I’m gonna keep going. Luke Harper, Apollo Crews, Mojo Rawley, Curtis Axel, Tyler Breeze, Andrade; Seriously, I could do this all day. Hideo Itami, Zack Ryder, Fandango, Sasha Banks, Braun Strowman, Gallows & Anderson and the entire Cruiserweight Division; and that’s just off of the top of my head.

I get not everyone can be a top star and if you push everyone then you end up pushing no-one, but when you’ve got 5 hours of TV a week (9 on weeks with PPVs), you seriously can’t find time for some of your most talented stars? If Triple H does truely believe that WWE is a play and everyone has their role, then how come so many wrestlers are left without a part to play?

5 – Overreliance on Legends

Everyone loves a nostalgia act, I know I do, I still get excited whenever The Undertaker or The Rock shows up on WWE TV and I wasn’t even watching during those guy’s heydays.

However, along the way, WWE seems to have forgotten exactly what the purpose of bringing in the stars from yesteryear is supposed to achieve. With the arguable exception of The Undertaker, the point of bringing in these legends is to help boost the stock of the current stars with cross-generational dream matches. Even if the matches themselves aren’t that great, the fact that they happened is what mattered, so that the current stars can have that notch in their cap of beating one of the all-time greats.

Unfortunately, over this decade, WWE seems to have shied away from that idea and instead things that the best thing to do with these legends is to try and make them their top stars again, giving them main event spots against each other like it was the nineties and drowning out the newer talent. Don’t get me wrong, I have the greatest love and respect for what these guys did for the business, but Goldberg and The Rock did not need to be world champions in 2017 and 2013 respectively. The real problem here is that in both of those cases, the legends winning the world title ended up doing major damage to a current star. Goldberg beating Kevin Owens in 2017 relegated Owens’ main-event worthy feud with Jericho to the match on Wrestlemania 33 that no-one remembers, while The Rock beating Punk in 2013 killed Punk’s 434-day title reign and robbed him of his Wrestlemania main event, which likely played a big part in him leaving the company the next year.

Even when they’re not wrestling, WWE have used legends to try and pop the TV ratings and the problem with doing that (aside from the law of diminishing returns) is that they never provide any long-term rating increases. The best example as to why is Smackdown’s debut episode on FOX in October 2019, all of these legends showed up to the show and did their bits, leading to a massive debut rating for Smackdown, however this was at the cost of giving the current stars their time to shine, so the roughly 1 million new viewers who were watching WWE for the first time in a long time had no reason to tune in the next week because they still had no idea who the stars that would be wrestling every week were and sure enough, about half of those new viewers didn’t come back for week 2.

It’s the epitome of getting short-term gain for long-term loss, which is a huge problem for WWE and if it carries on into the next decade then it’s going to cause even bigger problems.

4 – No Face of the Company

This is a problem that’s the culmination of everything I’ve covered so far because the fact of the matter is that right now, WWE does not have a “face of the company” and that is a big problem.

For decades, WWE has always had some kind of household name, a guy like Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold or John Cena, the kind of guy that even people who’ve never watched wrestling know the name of and that is something WWE is sorely lacking right now. Admittedly they tried with Roman Reigns, but we’ve already covered how and why that failed, but ever since it doesn’t seem like WWE has ever even tried to get behind someone in order to elevate them to that “mega-star” level that even Vince McMahon himself has said they’re lacking.

Ok, so WWE doesn’t have a “face of the company” why does that matter? Us fans have never cared about that anyway.

That is true, but a guy like Austin or Cena is the key to bringing new viewers to the product, which if the ratings for the past few years have been any indication, WWE is utterly failing at doing right now. If someone knew about John Cena and heard about some cool-sounding story he was currently in, then there’s a chance that person might tune in specifically to see what John Cena’s doing. Then, while they’re tuned in they’ll get a chance to see all of the other stars that they’ve never heard of wrestle, they might even find they like some of those guys and become interested in what they’re doing and just like that you’ve got a new regular viewer.

WWE needs that “household name” in order to draw new people in because currently there’s no-one that your average Monday night TV viewer cares about enough to change the channel to watch. Having a “face of the company” isn’t there for the benefit of the fans, it’s there for the benefit of current fans to slowly bring them into the fold.

WWE is currently having a huge problem bringing in new fans and fixing this problem in the coming decade could be the biggest fix they could make.

3 – Brock Lesnar’s Return

When people talk about everything they hate about WWE these days, the one man who stands as the prime example of all that, is Brock Lesnar.

Don’t get me wrong, Lesnar’s return has had some major upsides (and trust me, I’ll be talking about those very soon) but the fact remains that Lesnar’s presence has been a major detriment to the quality WWE’s product at several points during this decade.

Lesnar’s return didn’t get off to the best of starts, the night he returned was awesome, however he was immediately fed a loss at the hand of John Cena, which pissed everyone off, then he entered a feud with Triple H, where despite the fact he got two wins against The Game, the only match anyone remembers is the Wrestlemania match where he lost. Come summer 2013, he finally notched a memorable and meaningful win, however, it was against CM Punk, so everyone was annoyed about Punk being “jobbed out” to Lesnar. Then Wrestlemania 30 happened. Lesnar ending The Undertaker’s legendary undefeated streak is a decision that remains extremely controversial to this day, but there are two things we can all agree on. One, the match suuuucked and two, it set everything that happened in the main event scene for the rest of the decade in motion.

At Summerslam 2014, Lesnar picked up the WWE title for the first time since his 2012 return and proceeded to never defend it until 2015, where the combination of Lesnar’s lack of appearances and Reigns’ overabundance of appearances led to a Wrestlemania main event where the crowd didn’t want either man to win…twice. This cycle continued for the whole decade, where Lesnar would win a world title, disappear for months on end, defend it in a sub-ten-minutes, boring-ass match then go away for another 3-4 months.

Even when Lesnar finally loses whichever world title he’s currently holding hostage, it never lasts. Once he loses a title, he goes away for another 3-4 months, until he suddenly comes back and instantly wins the world title again, it’s laughable how predictable and boring it is. Despite having two world titles in WWE since 2016, it’s constantly felt like there’s only been one because over half the time, Lesnar’s sitting out on his ranch “looking at his land” (his words) not giving a damn about anything other than the 7 figure paychecks he picks up for 10 minutes worth of work every few months.

Brock Lesnar has been one of the most consistently boring wrestlers in all of WWE this past decade, which is not helped by the fact that he’s always in the main event and if the past couple of months are any indication, that isn’t ending anytime soon.

2 – The Saudi Arabia Deal

Perhaps the single most controversial thing WWE has ever done, the 10 year deal WWE signed with the country of Saudia Arabia in 2018 is something that has done nothing but bring negative press to the WWE and honestly, the only reason I didn’t rank this as number 1, is because I didn’t want to end the list on such a politically charged note.

If you’re unaware, the Saudia Arabia government is one that has had no shortage of shady dealings in recent years. It’s a country where women are still treated as the lower class, not being legally allowed to drive along with so many other restrictions that I don’t want to speak of. Naturally, the Saudi Arabian government has been looking to push the international perception of their country away from those kinds of dealings and arguably the biggest of those pushes has been through its sporting board. Enter WWE.

When WWE announced their first show “Greatest Royal Rumble” for April 2018 for Saudi Arabia, people saw it as a bit odd and many weren’t happy with the deal, but there wasn’t any kind of uproar or major pushback. The show happened and it was fine, nothing spectacular, but it also didn’t tear the house down and we were all happy to forget about it. Until reports surfaced after the show that government officials of Saudi Arabia were allegedly “furious” that a woman had been broadcast in one of the adverts for Backlash, which was scheduled to take place the following Sunday.

Things got worse for WWE later that year as in October of 2018, less than a month before the first “Crown Jewel” event was set to take place, a US-based Saudi journalist was murdered in EXTREMELY suspicious circumstances that I won’t go into here. Then, as recently as two months ago, there was a massive problem about almost the entire roster being stuck in the country after the second “Crown Jewel” event was finished.

Even if we put all of the politics and bad business aside, the shows weren’t even worth watching. Through a combination of heat, jetlag and generally low-morale, the matches on the shows are almost always sub-par in quality, a feeling which is only amplified when you put 50+-year-old guys like Undertaker and Goldberg in the main event spot.

It’s a deal that, only two years in, has given WWE more bad-press than it’s received since the 90’s steroid trial and produced four shows that are mediocre at best and downright awful at worst, with virtually no good coming from it.

1 – The Death of Tag Team Wrestling

The simple, cold, hard fact of the matter is that in WWE right now, Tag-Team wrestling simply does not matter.

That’s not to say there haven’t been some fantastic Tag Team matches in WWE in the past ten years, of course, there has, but the fact remains that for almost the entire decade (and especially in the current day) the Tag Team Championships in WWE have been treated as afterthoughts. Almost every tag team that has won the titles in recent memory are simply two random singles stars who got thrown together because management didn’t have anything better for them to do.

For the most part, dedicated tag team wrestlers are barely featured and often buried in the wake of the thrown together random-teams that get given the titles instead. In the past decade, the only two teams who did anything meaningful with the Raw or Smackdown Tag team titles were The New Day and The Usos, but two credible teams does not make a division and the longer the years have gone on with WWE refusing to get behind Tag teams that stay together for longer than 6 months the longer it has become painfully obvious that the titles are entirely worthless.

Even though, as I write, The Viking Raiders are the Raw Tag Team Champions – a team who is absolutely fantastic in every way – I have no faith that they will be able to restore the belts to any kind of prestige, because it’s likely that in a month or so they’ll get pinned by the brand new team of Bobby Lashley and Curtis Axel for no real reason and we’ll be back to square one.

Things looked to maybe be picking up earlier this year with the introduction of the women’s tag team championships, but withing two months of their introduction they were gone from TV, being defended a whopping three times over a period of 4 months and at least one of those matches ended in a non-finish.

Meanwhile, literally, every other promotion on the planet (even NXT) is proving that tag team wrestling can be just as good, if not better than singles wrestling to the point where it was one of AEW’s main points when they were beginning to push what they would do better than WWE.

WWE has no shortage of flaws in its week-to-week product, but dedicating time to rebuilding the tag team division to the status it had in the late ’90s would fill such a huge gap in programming right now and remove a whole bunch of matches that feel inconsequential to the fans.

And that’s it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, let me know your thoughts either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo and finally, make sure to come back this time tomorrow for my run down of the BEST of WWE this decade!

WWE Survivor Series 2019: Every Match Ranked

I’ve mentioned before how I think that Survivor Series has been the most consistently great Pay-Per-View of the last few years and that streak certainly continued tonights. I have my gripes, as I always do, but looking through the whole show I can honestly say there wasn’t a single match I didn’t like. I was worried that having WarGames so close would potentially hamper the NXT contingent of this show, but the whole thing seemingly went off without a hitch, which is a very pleasant surprise indeed.

Still, we’ve got 10 matches to get through here and I’ve got a lot to say about some of them, so let’s get on with it.

10 – Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler won the Tag Team Battle Royal
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
(Kickoff Show)

Like a lot of the battle royals we’ve seen this year (because come to think of it, we’ve seen A LOT of battle royals this year) this one had no faults, but there’s also nothing in particular worth praising about it. It was a pretty standard formula, the eliminations came thick and fast in the early stages before things slowed down a bit and there was more wrestling when there we just a few teams left.

I would’ve preferred if someone other than Ziggler & Roode won, but given that this was just here as a way to pad-out the scorecard for Smackdown, then I can’t really find it in me to condemn it for being a bad decision, it’s not like anyone’s going to remember this match come Friday.

9 – Brock Lesnar(c) def. Rey Mysterio
(WWE Championship)
(No Holds Barred)

I do love a good family outing.

The layout of this match and the general pacing of it felt incredibly similar to Lesnar vs Bryan from last year’s show and, to a certain extent, it gave me the same sort of feelings, however, this was all crammed into 7 minutes instead of being given 20.

The opening 4-5 minutes were what you’d expect from a Brock Lesnar match, he was throwing Rey around and generally looking like a monster, however, that all turned around and the match got exciting once Rey’s son Dominic – of all people – showed up and turned the tides. It may have been a tad cheesy, but I enjoyed Dominic’s involvement in the match, everyone seems to be fully aware of Lesnar’s glowing weak spot that is his balls at this point and they make no bones about exploiting it. Then there was the double 619 which, once again, cheesy but fun.

I wish the match had gone a bit longer and Rey’s comeback had been given a little more time to breathe, but I still came away from this match feeling satisfied with what I watched and looking forward to this potentially going somewhere new in the near future.

8 – Team Smackdown def. Team Raw & Team NXT
(5 on 5 on 5 Men’s Elimination Tag)

The two elimination tag matches of the show are on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of what can be done with these kinds of matches and unfortunately, this was towards the low end. It had some redeeming features, which I’ll get to in a moment but it most certainly had its problems too.

First off, there were WAY too many quick eliminations, nevermind whether or not it’s someone I like, you had Riddle, Preist, WALTER, Orton, Gable and Owens all eliminated within 5 minutes of each other, which is ridiculous. I get that you’ve gotta have 14 pinfalls in a match, but there was a much better way to pace them than this, which the other elimination tag match on the show proved. My biggest gripe was the straight-up inconsistency in the rules, because in this match there were no countouts…except for when Braun Strowman got eliminated by countout; after that elimination, Ciampa, Rollins & Reigns all spent a lot of time outside of the ring while still being the legal man towards the end of the match and suddenly there was no count, which really irked me.

However, I still came away from this match feeling like I enjoyed the experience and that is because the closing 10 minutes of the match were great. When it was down to Rollins, Reigns, Ciampa & Lee the match really picked up in quality, the focus went away from spamming finishers and quick pins, to proper, fast-paced wrestling and it was very enjoyable. Not to mention that we got to see a star-making performance from Keith Lee, the final few minutes with him and Reigns going back and forth were something else and I’d very much like to see a full match of that in the future. Even though Lee didn’t win, he came out of this match with his stock undeniably raised which is brilliant.

As much as I loved that final segment, it was only about a third of the match and the preceding two-thirds weren’t great and, on a show with so many good-to-great matches, that unfortunately lands it down in 8th place.

7 – Lio Rush(c) def. Kalisto & Akira Tozowa
(Cruiserweight Championship)
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
(Kickoff Show)

I think from now on, the Cruiserweight Championship should be exclusively defended in Triple Threat matches because these are always great.

Lio Rush is such a human highlight reel at this point, the stuff he is able to do when he’s let off the leash is so much fun to watch. When the pace of the match looked to be slowing slightly, Rush was ready to jump right back in and accelerate it all back up to fever pitch and keep it there pretty much the whole way.

Tozowa & Kalisto put in great performances to and I’m very pleased because it’s been so long since I’ve been able to say that about Kalisto. Kalisto specifically seemed to have really good chemistry with Rush, then I noticed that he was able to keep pace with Rush slightly better than Tozowa was and watching the pair of them go back and forth was an absolute joy.

Now 205 Live is moving to Full Sail, I’m most certainly going to get back into watching it because if we’re going to be getting stuff like this every week, it’s going to be the most must-watch show in the business.

6 – Shayna Baszler def. Becky Lynch & Bayley
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

This was inarguably a good match, but I can’t help but feel a tad disappointed.

The pace for this one was slightly slower and I thought that was mostly to its benefit. Every move felt very deliberate and it gave the impression that each woman had really done their homework on their opponents. It was also a pace that let Baszler absolutely shine, she was effortlessly taking control of the match the whole way through and it made things all the more exciting when Becky or Bayley suddenly got a burst of offence.

The disappointment I was referring to comes from the finish because I feel like the match ended a few minutes too soon. When Shayna locked in that Kirifuda Clutch on Bayley it felt to me like the final act of the match was just getting going, I didn’t think that the fairly naff looking table spot would’ve been enough to keep Becky down and we’d get a final burst of back and forth between the three women before the match ended. Instead, Bayley just tapped out and that was that. Then there was what happened after the bell where Becky put Shayna through a table, which achieved nothing. It didn’t send the crowd home happy because the Chicago crowd were VERY happy about Baszler’s win, it didn’t help Becky because she just looked like a sore loser and it definitely didn’t help Shayna because she got her victory undercut and that was how the show ended, it was a tad deflating.

However, I’m not going to let a relatively minor complaint takeaway too much from the fact that this was a really good match overall. The pacing was spot on, every woman got a chance to shine and ultimately, I’d say the right woman came out the victor.

5 – Roderick Strong(c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

This is the point in the list where we get to the matches that I have little-to-none in terms of complaints and how I rank them comes down purely to personal preference.

I don’t think there was any ever doubt about how good this match was going to be, you’ve got three pure wrestlers who are very good at what they do and they used the triple threat formula to great advantage in this instance. To say that everyone got a chance to shine is somewhat of an understatement, whether it was intentional or not, all three of these men looked like staunch equals the whole way through the match and a lot of that was thanks to the balance that was struck between each of their times on offence.

All three men had great chemistry when the match broke down into one on one fights and it made the occasional periods where all three of them were in the ring at once feel all the more hectic and fun. I wasn’t expecting Roddy to win at all but I thought how this went down worked for both Strong’s character and the running theme throughout the night of NXT winning their matches by being intelligent and tactical.

Nothing more to say really, this was just a really great triple threat match.

4 – The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) def. Daniel Bryan
(WWE Championship)

Ok, the red lighting worked for Hell in a Cell, but it’s gotten pretty old now.

This match wasn’t the wrestling clinic that we got between these two in 2014, but that’s because it’s not what this match was meant to be. The more I think about it, the weirder it would be for The Fiend to put on a tense, back and forth 20 minute clinic, instead The Fiend just needs to go in and execute his unique style and it’s how the opponent responds and adapts to it that makes for both an interesting match and an interesting story. Enter Daniel Bryan.

I know the story beats in the lead up to this match were minimal at best, but Bryan did everything in his power to make them feel like a big deal in this match and at least somewhat succeeded. Bryan did a fantastic job of selling the beating he was taking from The Fiend and things got even better when he started to mount his comeback, seeing Bryan go back to wrestling a full face style after so long was a joy to watch, including the biggest Yes! chant we’ve seen since Bryan’s return last year.

It would’ve been nice if this match had got a bit more time, but I’m not entirely sure it needed it. I think it got in, told its story very efficiently and hit all the right beats to be exciting and got out before it started to drag on.

3 – Team NXT def. Team Raw & Team Smackdown
(5 on 5 on 5 Women’s Elimination Tag)

This match was the polar opposite of the men’s elimination tag match. While the men’s match had way too many quick eliminations and basically no wrestling until the final segment, this match paced all of its eliminations really well, leveraging the story points it had to great effect, and built to a great climax.

What I loved about this match is that, even though there were 15 competitors, everyone got a chance to look good and have some sort of spot in the match. Be it, Sarah Logan, looking like a legit beast for the first time ever, Io Shirai & Kairi Sane having a face-off that makes me to incredibly sad we never got that match in NXT like we were supposed to, or even Carmella leaping around trying to get attention; everyone got a chance to stand out.

The eliminations felt earned instead of being quick and cheap, it avoided annoying everyone because they weren’t “out of nowhere”. It also meant that a match-long story was able to build itself up, with NXT going two down early on and being forced to pick their spots until by the end they had the numbers advantage. I liked Asuka’s role in the match, going absolutely ape-shit after Kairi got eliminated, culminating in causing Charlotte to get eliminated with the mist.

If we’re talking about individual performances though, we’ve got to talk about Rhea Ripley. If we look at Smackdown on Friday, WarGames on Saturday and now the match last night, Ripley has gone from “sort of popular babyface, but it’s probably just a flash in the pan” to “This woman is a made star”. The pop when she first got tagged into the match and eventually won was huge and when it comes to having their stock elevated, no-one has done better for themselves this weekend than Rhea Ripley, I cannot wait to see her and Baszler go at it for the title.

2 – The Viking Raiders def. The New Day & The Undisputed Era
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)
(Kickoff Show)

To sum up my thoughts on this match in a single character: !

Viking Raiders & Undisputed Era have always had great chemistry from their time together in NXT, so this match takes those two teams and throw in The New Day a team who can have a top-quality tag team match with damn-near anyone, this thing was an absolute blast from start to finish.

The Viking Raiders were seemingly always in the mix during the match and quite frankly this match has done more favour for them than all of their previous RAW matches combined. Watching Erik(or Ivar, I honestly have no idea) facing down Big E was an absolute joy, only heightened with how sneaky and opportunistic Undisputed Era played it. The psychology was there too, with UE spending the whole match targeting all their opponent’s leg.

A little upset that Kofi Kingston has gone from 180 days as WWE Champion to the least important man in this 6 man tag on the pre-show, but that fact doesn’t take away from how great this thing was.

The pacing was spot-on the whole way through this thing too, it started off quite fast and tense, before slowing it down around the middle with UE and Viking Raiders having an extended sequence together, it lengthened out the build to the inevitable breakdown towards the end, making it all the most exciting when it finally hit. The whole finishing sequence was great fun, I loved UE going hell-for-leather taking out The New Day only to have to suddenly stop in order to not get flatted by The Viking Raiders, even if they ended up being unsuccessful.

This is how good tag team wrestling can be in WWE, I would very much like more of it.

1 – Adam Cole(c) def. Pete Dunne
(NXT Championship)

No points for guessing this match would top the list.

Despite both of these men (especially Cole) going through long and gruelling matches last night, this match didn’t feel like it suffered from that one bit. Cole has undeniably been the MVP of this whole “NXT Invasion” angle and this match only solidified that statement as, not only did he make sure that WarGames the previous night didn’t drag him down, he worked it to his advantage and made it add something to the match.

These two guys were always going to have fantastic chemistry in this match and they did not disappoint in the slightest, both men made sure to show the effects the WarGames match had on their bodies and it made for a match where every move felt very hard-hitting and the way both would sell every little injury like a big deal did so much to elevate this match to the fantastic bout it was.

It wasn’t fast and furious because it didn’t need to be, instead it focused on moves that gave the highest impact possible, including a God-damned Panama Sunrise on the God-damned ring apron, that looked brutal. The whole finishing sequence damn near blew my mind with how it turned out, I’ve watched it over ten times now and I still can’t work out how the two of them managed to pull off the Bitter End into Panama Sunrise spot, it was certainly something too behold and was a fantastically exciting way to end the match.

So there you have it! Those are my thoughts on Survivor Series! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this review, please let me know what you thought of the show, either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back on Saturday where I’ll be running down my favourite new Pokemon from Sword & Shield!

WWE Survivor Series 2019: Predictions & Analysis

As the end of the year draws near, WWE brings us another annual Survivor Series, a PPV which – for the last couple of years at least – has always been much better than it has any right to be. This year looks to be no different as there are already several matches on this show which have match of the year potential in my eyes.

Adding NXT to the mix was a stroke of genius as not only did it make TV for this month more exciting, but it finally put stock to everything WWE’s been saying this past couple of months about NXT no longer being “developmental” and being on-par with Raw & Smackdown. In addition to this, they’ve abandoned the idea of every match on the show having to be a brand vs brand match, which means there’s a couple of juicy looking title matches for us to get excited about as well.

All this means that there isn’t really a match on this show where I’m entirely certain about the winner, so let’s dig right into the predictions!

The Viking Raiders vs The New Day vs The Undisputed Era
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

Straight out of the gate with the exciting matches.

So here we’ve got two teams that have already put on a couple of brilliant matches in NXT with Viking Raiders and Undisputed Era and then you add in one of the most consistently brilliant teams of the past decade in WWE with The New Day, how could you possibly not be excited about this match? These are three teams who know everything there is to know about having great tag team matches, my only real fear here is that there’s a chance it could get it’s time cut a little bit given some of the other matches on this show that are likely to go long.

If The Viking Raiders had won the world cup at Crown Jewel, then I would’ve picked them to continue their winning streak here, but since they now have that loss under their belt, that aura of indestructibility they had has faded a lot, especially when you consider that the Raw Tag Titles are the biggest afterthought in all of WWE right now. This leaves us with The Undisputed Era and The New Day and while I think it’s entirely possible The New Day will notch a win here, I’m going with The Undisputed Era to pick up the victory, as I feel like they have the most to lose here, in addition to the fact that I think this match will open the show, so an NXT win straight out of the gate will go a long way to shaking things up for the rest of the night.

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roderick Strong
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

Once again, there’s precisely 0% chance this match won’t be great, these are three of the best pure wrestlers in the world right now, even WWE will struggle to mess this one up.

Styles & Nakamura have proved time after time that they can put on solid matches with each other, so you throw in a guy like Roderick Strong, who can easily keep pace with the two of them and wrestle the exact kind of style they can and you’ve got yourself a winning formula. Then there are the standard benefits that a triple threat match provides, with the pace constantly being at a fever pitch, this should essentially be the awesome Cruiserweight Championship triple threat matches we’ve been getting all year, but turned up to eleven.

This is the only match on this show where I feel fairly confident in saying that I don’t think NXT will win. I don’t think that’s any kind of reflection on Strong, but NXT need to take a couple of losses on the night and I think Strong losing this match here will matter the least in the grand scheme of things. In fact, I can honestly say I’m pretty damn confident in picking AJ Styles to win this one. WWE has been extremely high on Styles for a good couple of years now and the past couple of months have shown that enthusiasm isn’t dying down any time soon, so a strong win for the guy here feel like the obvious choice.

Team Raw vs Team Smackdown vs Team NXT
(Women’s 5 on 5 on 5 Elimination Tag)

This is a lot of wrestlers…

The main problem I always have with Survivor Series elimination matches is how inept and weak it makes some of the wrestlers look. For the wrestlers who last in the matches for a long time, it’s great, but for the wrestlers who get eliminated in the first 10 or so minutes, it’s horrible. Generally, the first half of these matches are some very basic chain wrestling, followed by 3 or 4 wrestlers getting pinned to a single signature after about 2 minutes of time in the ring, sometimes not even that. So with 15 wrestlers in the mix instead of just 10, I can only expect this problem to be even worse.

That said, once the early eliminations are out of the way the action tends to pick up quite significantly and I almost always have a lot of fun watching the latter halves of these matches. In addition to this, there’s some great opportunities here to have some really intense confrontations between people we’ve never got a chance to see go at it, like Rhea Ripley & Nikki Cross, or Candice LaRae & Charlotte Flair, or Io Sharai & literally anyone.  The confrontation last night’s Smackdown implied that NXT’s team would be Rhea Ripley, Mia Yim, Candice LaRae, Tegan Nox & Toni Storm, but WWE has only officially announced Ripley as a participant, with the rest “TBD”, which almost certainly means they haven’t made their minds up yet whether they’ll include heels like Io or Belair yet.

This factor does make things a little harder to predict, however, I don’t think Team NXT will win this one regardless since most of them will be beaten down from WarGames the night before, but in a more general sense I think there are people on the other teams that need the wins more right now. As for the other two teams I’m quite torn. Team Smackdown has Sasha Banks who, after losing HER feud to Becky could really do with a win and Nikki Cross, who is being built up a bit more as a singles star. That said, Team Raw has Charlotte Flair, and it’s hard to bet against Charlotte Flair. When you consider this alongside the fact that the tensions between Nikki & Sasha have been played up significantly, I think everything points towards Team Raw coming out on top, most likely with Charlotte & Natalya being the survivors.

Team Raw vs Team Smackdown vs Team NXT
(Men’s 5 on 5 on 5 Elimination Tag)

I mean, if we’re looking at this from a purely kayfabe standpoint, Team Raw should walk this one.

Once again, this is a match that suffers from the WarGames problem, as they can’t announce anyone for Team NXT as there’s a good chance one or more people could get messed up by WarGames. That said, assuming no-one gets injured I’d say that Saturday’s Team Ciampa, with an added Matt Riddle seems like a pretty solid bet to me. In terms of how good I think the match is going to be, you can pretty much just copy/paste what I said about the women’s match, it’ll start off kind of boring, but become really fun by the end.

I’m struggling to determine who I think is going to win this one. My gut says that it’s definitely not going to be Team Raw, but I don’t really have any logic for that, other than they don’t exactly have anything to lose from a business standpoint. Smackdown has only just moved to FOX and I’m sure WWE would like to please FOX by making their show look like it’s better than both of USA’s shows, but at the same time, such a big deal has been made out of NXT invading and showing that they’re just as good as the other two brands that a loss here could be very damaging; and I’m sure WWE wants to do everything they can to make sure their ratings victory over AEW Dynamite on Wednesday isn’t a one-off.

I’m going to go with Team NXT to take this win, but just know that I’m not very confident in that pick at all.

Becky Lynch vs Bayley vs Shayna Baszler
(Raw vs Smackdown vs NXT)

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this has all the potential in the world to be the match of the year. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got here. We’ve got a woman whose been the biggest star in the whole industry for the past year in Becky Lynch; A fantastic wrestler whose character has recently gotten a new burst of life in Bayley; and one of the best heel wrestlers on the planet right now in Shayna Baszler. This match is going to tear all the houses down.

These three women have dominated their respective brands for the majority of the year so this match really feels like it’s a clash of the titans. I’m expecting tonnes of exciting action all the way through this with all three competitors getting plenty of licks in and hopefully, this will get plenty of time to do it all.

This brings us to the matter of who wins because I can honestly make a pretty solid case for all three women. There’s Bayley, who hasn’t had a big opportunity to show her stuff since turning heel and for the past month, she’s been somewhat undercut by Baszler showing up, so a win here would do her the world of good. Then there’s Baszler, who is currently amidst a long-running streak of dominance that’s become the focal point of every NXT Women’s storyline, so having her lose here would certainly do significant damage to that in the short-term. Finally, there’s Becky Lynch, who’s still the biggest star in WWE, so her winning would be no surprise.

Ultimately, Becky is never going to be damaged by a loss, especially one where she probably won’t take the fall. As much as it’d suck to see Baszler lose, she’s been made out as being such a huge deal on Raw & Smackdown this past month that as long as she gets a strong showing, her losing won’t be the end of the world. Which is why I’m picking Bayley. The fact that Shayna & Becky have been treating her as an afterthought is something that’s been played up a fair bit for this whole build and I think that will be the deciding factor, allowing Bayley to sneak in at the right moment and pick up the win.

Adam Coles(c) vs TBD
(NXT Championship)

This is a fantastic decision.

For the past couple of months, we’ve heard so much from WWE about how NXT is now the equal “3rd brand” but there hasn’t been much but empty words behind it until this point. I’m very glad that Cole didn’t just get shoved in the elimination tag match and more importantly, the NXT title is being treated just as important as the other two world titles, getting it’s own featured match between two of the brand’s top stars.

While Cole could end up facing any of the three men in the triple threat match, I think it’ll probably be Pete Dunne, partly because he’s that perfect mix between someone the fans might’ve heard of, but isn’t an already established wrestler on the main roster like Killian Dain is. On top of that, I think Cole vs Dunne will be a brilliant match, even if it doesn’t get as much time as it would on a Takeover.

That said, I can’t see the title changing hands on this show. Dain & Priest definitely won’t pick up the NXT title anytime soon and while I could see Dunne potentially getting a run with the strap I highly doubt it’ll happen this soon after his mammoth UK Championship reign. Not to mention that WWE has absolutely been pushing Adam Cole & The Undisputed Era as the featured NXT stars of this whole “invasion” angle, so I’m pretty confident in picking Adam Cole for this one.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Rey Mysterio
(WWE Championship)
(No Holds Barred)

In a strange twist, Survivor Series has become a show where we can consistently expect one thing: great Brock Lesnar matches. His matches against AJ Styles in 2017 and against Daniel Bryan in 2018 were both fantastic lengthy wrestling matches and while his 2016 match against Goldberg wasn’t a clinic it certainly blew us all away. So as we sit here in 2019, Lesnar has a title match against none other than Rey Mysterio, a wrestler who wrestles a similar, small-guy, fast-paced style to Styles & Bryan and has shown absolutely no signs of slowing down with age.

Lesnar always works best when he’s fighting guys significantly smaller than him and they don’t get much smaller than Mysterio, not to mention that these two also worked together a couple of times during Lesnar’s first run in WWE in 2002-2004, so there’s tonnes of potential here for something really great to come out of this.

This is one of the two matches on this show that I’m pretty confident about picking a winner for. While it’s true that Lesnar is no longer the indestructible monster he once was, I don’t see Mysterio picking up the WWE title any time soon. I’ve no idea what the end-game is for Lesnar in this title reign, but the fact remains that he’s still where the money is and it makes sense for him to hold on to this title until at least Wrestlemania. Although I wouldn’t consider it a major shock for Mysterio to win this one, I’m sticking to old reliable and picking Brock Lesnar to retain.

The Fiend Bray Wyatt(c) vs Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)

Yes!

I’ve never got much of a chance to talk about it, but one of my favourite matches from this past decade was Daniel Bryan vs Bray Wyatt at Royal Rumble 2014, it was the match that made me realise how brilliant of a wrestler Bray Wyatt really was and I’m so excited that we get to see it again, only this time for a world title and with Bray’s extremely exciting new character and style.

It’s going to be really interesting to see how The Fiend’s style meshes with Bryan’s because on the surface, it doesn’t seem like they should; but if anyone can make it work, it’s the man I constantly herald as the best wrestler in the world today. The main feeling I’ve got from all of The Fiend’s matches so far is that they’re something “different”, sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad, but it’s always a really interesting thing to watch unfold.

That said, as much as I think the match will be great, I’m entirely confident in saying The Fiend Bray Wyatt will walk away as the champion. There’s a chance that this will be a non-finish so the feud can run longer, probably to a TLC match next month, but there isn’t a chance in hell that The Fiend is losing that Universal title anytime soon.

So there you have it! Those are my predictions for Survivor Series 2019, thank you very much for taking the time to read this article, please let me know what you think will happen on Sunday either on Twitter @10ryawoo or in the comments below! Finally, make sure to come back tomorrow for my review of NXT Takeover: WarGames III!

WWE Crown Jewel 2019: Predictions & Analysis

Here we go again…

I think the point has finally come where we’re out of new things to say about how crap these Saudi Arabia shows are inevitably going to be. I normally like to inject some optimism into what I right, especially when it comes to wrestling, but after Crown Jewel 2018 was a contender for worst PPV of the decade and Super Show-Down earlier this year bored me to tears, I just can’t bring myself to put a positive spin on these anymore.

Nevertheless, WWE has gone more in on promoting this show as a legitimate PPV than with previous shows, so there’s a chance that something that happens on this show will actually hold consequence the next night on Raw…a small chance admittedly, but that’s still a chance.

20-Man Battle Royal &
AJ Styles(c) vs Battle Royal Winner
(United States Championship)

This is actually quite a difficult one to pick, mostly because AJ Styles hasn’t been involved with anyone, in particular, this past month, the only person who’s shown the makings of a feud is Kevin Owens, but since Owens is one of the people who refuses to attend these Saudi Arabia shows, that’s definitely not happening.

Battle royals are always quite fun to watch, and 20 men is just about the right amount to give us a decent focus on a bunch of guys in the match and make it something that’s actually easy to follow, unlike the 50 man cluster from Super Show-Down earlier this year. As I’ve said, the winner could honestly be anyone from Raw, so I’m going to optimistically pick someone that I want to win and say it’ll be Buddy Murphey.

Then, there’s the title match with AJ Styles which, no matter who wins the battle royal, I think AJ is retaining. As I said, there’s been no kind of feud built around this title match and I don’t see what would be gained from a sudden upset win, especially after the competitor will have already fought a match.

Mansoor vs Cesaro

Ok, I get it, you want the Saudi crowd to have a hometown wrestler to cheer on, but why should any of us give a shit about Mansoor if the two Saudi Arabia shows every year are the only time we get to see him? He impressed in the battle royal earlier this year, but I’ve never seen him wrestle a full-length match, which is something he’s clearly not ready for, otherwise he would’ve been wrestling on NXT or 205 Live at some point during the last 6 months.

Luckily, Mansoor in extremely good hands when it comes to Cesaro, so if it turns out he’s as green in the ring as I suspect he is, then we should still get a decent match out of it. As for a winner, it seems pretty obvious Mansoor is going to come out with the win one way or another, probably through some flukey roll-up to make him seem like a plucky good guy in front of his hometown crowd and Cesaro can go back to being horrifically under-utilised on TV every week.

The OC vs The Revival vs Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins vs Lucha House Party vs Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode vs The Viking Raiders vs Heavy Machinery vs The B-Team vs The New Day
(Tag Team Turmoil)
(Tag Team World Cup)

Oh, who cares?

Much like the singles world cup from last year, I can’t see this mattering much past the event itself. This should be better than the singles world cup though, if only for the fact that a 50-year-old billionaire won’t randomly insert himself into the main event for no apparent reason and become the worst thing about WWE programming for the next year…hopefully.

As for a winner, it’s honestly anyone’s guess. WWE has proven time and time again that attempting to apply logic to the results of these Saudi Arabia shows is an entirely fruitless effort. My initial thought is that The New Day will start off the match and last in it for quite a long time, only to be struck down by The Revival who take advantage of New Day’s weakend state. As for the eventual winner, I’m going to go with The Viking Raiders, purely because they’re currently undefeated since coming to the main roster and have just won the Raw Tag Titles, so keeping them strong seems like a good idea.

Team Hogan (Roman Reigns, Rusev, Ricochet, Chad Gable & Ali) vs Team Flair (Randy Orton, King Corbin, Bobby Lashley, Shinsuke Nakamura & Drew Mcintyre)

ALL THE WRESTLERS! GET THEM ALL ONTO THE SHOW! MAKE ALL THE MONEY!

Congratulations to WWE for booking a 5 on 5 tag match, less than a month out from the PPV whose whole gimmick is 5 on 5 tag matches, stellar booking right there. If this match was being fought under elimination rules, then maybe it’d have a hope of being entertaining, but since it’s not then I think there’s going to be far too much going on for any of it to be worth watching.

The match will likely consist of very quick tags to make sure everyone gets their stuff in and the match will never get any time to build properly, leading to spots for the sake of spots and nothing interesting will come out it. There’s no way Team Hogan is losing though, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Hogan dropped a leg on Flair for good measure. Joy.

Braun Strowman vs Tyson Fury

I know virtually nothing about boxing and the only reason I know who Tyson Fury is, is because I live in the UK where he’s quite a big name.

It’s wholly impossible to speculate on how good of a wrestler Fury will be since we’ve had more or less no indication of if he’s going through any sort of training or history with the sport outside of a couple photos of him in the Performance Center. I imagine WWE will want him to wrestle a striking-based style which is probably what he’ll be best at, I’m just not sure how it will mesh against a guy like Strowman.

I also don’t think this is going to do Braun any favours whatsoever. Braun desperately needs to start fighting people he can get some good wins against otherwise he’s quickly going to flounder and he won’t be a credible threat to anyone anymore, it’s like they’ve done the same thing to Braun that they did with Big Show, except they skipped the part where Big Show tore through everyone and won some world titles. That rant may have made it obvious, but Tyson Fury is going to win., there’s no way WWE would bring in a legit boxer, pay him FIFTEEN FUCKING MILLION DOLLARS for a single match and have him lose.

Seth Rollins(c) vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
(Universal Championship)
(Falls Count Anywhere)
(No stoppage for any reason)

Well WWE, you’ve backed yourself into an incredibly stupid corner here.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen here, because it’s honestly incomprehensible to me why WWE would do this to themselves. Unless they plan to put the Universal Championship on The Fiend here (which I seriously doubt) then this is a match that looks to do more harm than good. Putting what happened at Hell in a Cell aside, it looks to me like the only possible outcome here is Seth Rollins winning clean which would be catastrophic for The Fiend, not to mention it would turn the US crowds even more against Rollins.

Since Bray Wyatt has been drafted to Smackdown, The Fiend winning Raw’s world title is out of the question and outside of a Seth Rollins heel turn (which is also something I doubt will happen) there’s not a great deal that can be done here to stop the crowds outside of Saudi Arabia hating the outcome of this match. I’m hoping that the Falls Count Anywhere stipulation means that Rollins will at least have to do something HUGE in order to get the pin on The Fiend, but given what Rollins did at Hell in a Cell, only for The Fiend to still leap back up, it’s going to have to be pretty bloody massive.

Brock Lesnar(c) vs Cain Velasquez
(WWE Championship)

I’ve spent this whole month trying to work out how I feel about all this and I’m honestly still not sure.

It all started on Smackdown’s first episode on FOX when Brock Lesnar beat Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship in 8 seconds. I don’t know whether it’s because I’d already spent 3 weeks anticipating that exactly that would happen, or because I’d been underwhelmed by Kofi’s title reign for the last few months, but this loss didn’t really bother me all that much. Then Cain Velasquez showed up scared off Lesnar. I didn’t know exactly who Velasquez was, but I recognised the name and the moment itself was quite exciting.

My initial expectations for this match was about as low as low can go, but when I discovered Velasquez’s previous matches in AAA and I was impressed with what I saw. The only problem is, with the way he’s currently being presented on TV, I’m not sure WWE is going to let him wrestle the luchador style that we saw in AAA outside of a couple of spots. Either way, I think this match would benefit from being a hard-hitting 10-12 minute bout that keeps the pace relatively fast the whole time. Will we actually get that? Well, when it comes to Brock Lesnar, it’s honestly impossible to tell.

This does fo course beg the question though, who’s going to win? Were this a situation like Tyson Fury’s where it was a side-project for the man, then it’d be obvious, but Velasquez has made a big deal of late about announcing his formal retirement from MMA and full-time dedication to wrestling. On top of that, when you consider that WWE recently made a big deal out of Rollins finally being the man to end Lesnar’s reign of tyranny in the WWE, I don’t see what there is to be gained from Lesnar holding onto the WWE Championship until Wrestlemania, especially considering the only person he’s likely to face is Roman Reigns which…come on. So with all that said, perhaps against my better judgement, I’m going with Cain Velasquez, purely because the only argument for Lesnar to retain is “cos he’s Brock Lesnar”, which is an argument that doesn’t hold as much stock as it used to.

And that’s it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, please let me know what you think is going to happen either in the comments below or on Twitter @10ryawoo! Finally, make sure to come back here on Friday for my review of the show!