Wrestlemania 37: Every Match Ranked

And finally, we have reached the end of this week of wrestling. I thought it was a bloody good one. I don’t think this Wrestlemania will go down as one of the all-time greats, but there was undoubtedly a lot more good than bad across both nights, and that’s good enough for me.

No point rambling up here, let’s talk about the matches.

14 – Randy Orton def. The Fiend

This match had interesting implications, but as a match in and of itself, it was crap.

Firstly, The Fiend was literally burned alive, and that didn’t stop him or keep him down, but a single RKO is enough to keep him down for three? That can piss right off. The little action we did get wasn’t particularly exciting either, just the standard stuff we’ve come to expect from both of these guys.

The stuff with Alexa Bliss potentially rebelling against The Fiend has tonnes of potential, and I’m interested to see where it goes, but it didn’t make for a good match here. It was such a weird one to open the show with too, the crowd just didn’t know how to react to any of it, and I don’t blame them.

13 – Natalya & Tamina def. Lana & Naomi, Billie Kay & Carmella, The Riott Squad, Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose
(Winner gets a Women’s Tag Team Championship match on Night 2)
(Tag Team Turmoil)

I’d hoped that this one would be better than I was expecting, but unfortunately, I don’t think this clicked at all. It may have been due to the chaos around the weather throwing them off their game, and I sympathise if that’s the case, but I didn’t enjoy what I saw in the ring.

Almost none of these teams have any natural chemistry, and it showed in this match. The Riott Squad are the only team that I’d say actually worked well together, and that’s no surprise when you see how long they’ve been paired up for. WWE think they can just throw whoever the fuck together and expect them to wrestle decent tag matches, but it just doesn’t work that way. Even outside of gelling with your partner, there are so many different aspects to the psychology of tag matches that you can’t expect someone without experience in that field to do well at it.

On top of that, it didn’t help that each stage of the gauntlet way maybe 5 minutes, if that. I get why there wasn’t time for five full-length matches, but maybe just build a proper tag division, and that won’t be a problem? For all the progress WWE has made in recent years at booking the main-event level of their women’s divisions, the mid-card is still treated terribly. If you’re not the four horsewomen or a select other few, you just get treated like a nobody, and it leads to situations like this where we don’t care about any of these people, despite most of them being great.

Also, Natalya & Tamina was completely the wrong choice to win. I would’ve preferred any other team as I think all of them would’ve worked better with Jax & Baszler.

12 – Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) def. Natalya & Tamina
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Case in point…

Again, this match wasn’t terrible, and it showed pretensions of being something greater in places; I just didn’t click with it on a level I consider to be anything meaningful. I can be a bit harsh about it at times, but the truth is I don’t like Jax, Tamina or Natalya in the ring. I think they’re slow, clunky, and their movements are awkward. Conversely, I love Shayna Baszler, but she can’t make this match great on her own.

There were good spots. Towards the end, things got interesting, and there were a few good false finishes. I can’t call this a bad match; I just think it doesn’t compare to much else on the card. I also have no idea where the women’s tag titles go from here. All of these thrown together teams have been beaten, so unless they’re going to go back and fight one of them, there’s pretty much no one. Unless this is what WWE has Becky do straight out of her return, maybe she teams up with Charlotte or Asuka. I think that’d be a bit crap, though.

11 – Braun Strowman def. Shane McMahon
(Steel Cage)

Well, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. However, when you have to say something like that about a match, something’s already gone very wrong.

There wasn’t anything functionally wrong with this match. As stupid as it is to see Shane hold his own against Strowman, the match was worked well and told a decent story in the ring. I just had absolutely zero investment because the story leading up to this match was terrible. The pre-match attack gave a bit of justification to Braun not immediately crushing Shane’s skull in his palms, but when Shane started doing his weak-ass jabs, and commentary started putting over how he’s some elite striker, I just rolled my eyes and lost interest. Apparently, when Shane returned in 2016, everyone in creative forgot that Shane’s character’s whole point back in the attitude era was that, while he won championships, he couldn’t actually wrestle all that well and needed TONNES of help to get wins.

It wasn’t all bad, as there were some cool moments. When Braun did get to look dominant, it felt like the Braun of old, which I want back so very badly. Him ripping open the side of the cage was a cool spot that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before, so big thumbs up for that one. Then, of course, who doesn’t love seeing Shane get thrown off of something tall?

As I said, nothing exactly wrong with it, I just didn’t get on with it that well.

10 – AJ Styles & Omos def. The New Day(c)
(Raw Tag Team Championships)

Despite the relatively low placement of this one, I do think it was a really fun one.

The way the roles played out in this one was interesting. Traditionally, it’s the heels who cut off the ring and prevent the hot tag, but in this case, it was actually the New Day who got to do it. The justification for this was brilliant and played up to the idea that tag team specialists are much better at tag team wrestling. A crazy idea, I know, but it works. Styles was the MVP of this match, and the way he mixed it up with both Woods and Kingston was super fun to watch. The narrative thread of him trying to get the tag to Omos was precisely what this match needed to be compelling too.

Eventually, Omos did get in the ring and…yeah, he was alright. He didn’t do that much, but at this early stage, it’s unclear whether he was just booked that way, or that’s genuinely all he can do; that’s something we’ll get to in the future, though. In this match, it was the perfect way to bring the story to a conclusion. New Day did a fantastic job of making Omos look invincible, not just in their selling of the moves, but in how they reacted to just about everything he did.

I’m 100% behind the switching of the titles, and I look forward to hopefully seeing Omos grow throughout this reign.

9 – Bad Bunny & Damian Priest def. The Miz & John Morrison

I know, a celebrity match ranked higher than an AJ Styles match. Blasphemy, but I think this was a hell of a lot of fun.

In my predictions, I was cautiously optimistic about what Bad Bunny could do in the ring, and I’m pleased to say that my optimism was not misplaced because he really pulled it out of the bag. Obviously, he lacked the polish of a proper wrestler and couldn’t carry the sections between the moves very well, but that’s ok; no one expected him to. Instead, he impressed me with the vast array of moves he busted out and the fire with which he delivered them.

Miz was the perfect person to be on the receiving end of most of this, as his reactions to everything were priceless. He also added the necessary story beats to the match, as he got frustrated that he was getting his arse kicked by this tiny celebrity. The highlight of the match was, of course, Bad Bunny busting out a Canadian Destroyer out of nowhere and no one in the ring quite knowing how to deal with it. As much as it was a bit over the top, and I think the Canadian Destroyer is a dumb move, that moment was just beautiful.

What’s great is that Damian Priest didn’t feel overshadowed either. While Bad Bunny held his own, Priest was always presented as the one who could get in there and finish the match. Once he did get in, it was pretty much a done deal. He kicked out of everything Miz & Morrison threw his way and laid them out in short order.

Was it some wrestling masterpiece? No, but for what it was, I thought it was super enjoyable.

8 – Apollo Crews def. Big E(c)
(Intercontinental Championship)

This was a fun sprint of a match that ended in unexpected fashion.

Weirdly, I think the fact that this match only got 7 minutes was a bit of a boon to this match. I meant that neither men had to worry too much about conserving their energy for the long haul or blowing their big spots too early, they just went for broke right from the word go, and it was a bit of fun to watch. Both men got to show the intensity I wanted from them, and the match moved at a brisk pace through each of the spots.

My personal favourite was right at the beginning when they were wailing on each other with kendo sticks, but there was plenty to enjoy; the gong around the place, the fighting around the stairs and of course, Apollo’s beautiful frog splash through a table. I did not see the ending coming, but I am quite happy with it. Dabba Kato coming in and being Apollo’s heavy out of nowhere works for me. As much as I wanted Big E to retain, I’m thrilled Apollo is getting an IC title run with this great character, and I’m glad Big E didn’t have to lose clean.

The fact that it was so short and did end with interference means I can’t rank it TOO high, but I did enjoy this one from start to finish.

7 – Bobby Lashley(c) def. Drew McIntyre
(WWE Championship)

After the weather delayed the show by about half an hour, it felt like the wind had been taken out of the show’s sails a bit. The impromptu promos from everyone were really good, but given that both men had to keep themselves pumped up and ready to go at a moments notice, I think this opening match really put the show back on track.

It was a world away from their singles match at Backlash last year, and it just goes to show just how far both men have come over the past year. Lashley felt so renewed as a performer and like an absolute force of nature, while Drew’s hunger upped the intensity and led to a match that moved quite quickly. The thread of Drew constantly trying to avoid the Full Nelson made for some pretty dramatic moments, and it was mixed in with a lot of varied offence.

The finish wasn’t the best, but I don’t think it dragged the match down. Drew essentially losing cos MVP just shouted out, “I’m a distraction!” was a bit dumb, but I think it was a decent way to avoid Drew losing clean. On top of that, there’s the fact that he was in the Full Nelson for ages. Normally, it’s an instant pass-out for people who are in it but Drew fought back a couple times and almost broke it at the end. If WWE wants to keep this feud going past Wrestlemania, then this finish definitely gives them grounds to do so.

As for Lashley winning, I’m disappointed in the right way. I don’t think it was a bad decision, I’m just disappointed because the good guy I wanted to win didn’t win. Lashley has easily been doing the best work of his WWE career, and I have absolutely no issue with him getting to continue his reign.

6 – Rhea Ripley def. Asuka(c)
(Raw Women’s Championship)

It was Rhea’s brutality, and it was fairly brutal.

I had trouble ranking one because it was really good, but it did undershoot my expectations a little. It was a different kind of match to what I was expecting. I thought we would get something along the same lines as Rhea & Charlotte last year: an in-depth & balanced technical contest. What we got was more methodical, though, which is often a bad thing, but I think they did a good job of working the slower pace.

Rhea got to look quite dominant in places, which is absolutely what she needed, and Asuka settled into the underdog role really well. The balance of offence was interesting because Rhea had the advantage more often than not, but Asuka got on top sporadically throughout, making it feel more even than it was. With how quickly Rhea rose as a face in NXT, it’s easy to forget that she was a heel for the entirety of her run in NXT UK, and you can see how comfortably she fit into that role in this match.

The ending sequence was a bit quicker and more back-and-forth, with a bunch of exciting counters. Rhea hitting the Riptide out of nowhere was a lot of fun for the final spot, and it left me feeling satisfied with the match, even if it was different from what I was hoping for. Rhea was absolutely the right choice to win. Now WWE just has to avoid instantly giving the title to Charlotte…

5 – Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn

As expected, these two put on a great match.

Naturally, it touched on a few spots from their previous matches in WWE (of which there have been a few). The classic spot where they just wail on each other was in there at one point, along with teasing the powerbomb onto the apron. With the Pop-Up Powerbomb right at the start, followed immediately by the apron Brainbuster, it feels like the match skipped to the middle and just went from there. Given that they only had 10 minutes, I actually think it was quite a good way to deal with the time constraints.

Sami got to look a lot better than I thought he would, and I’m glad that WWE is remembering that Sami is actually a brilliant wrestler, not just a comedy guy. This felt like the right place for Owens to be following his feud with Reigns, where he lost at every juncture. Not just because he got the win, but because it’s something that felt meaningful to him, he still got to stand up for something and be challenged, only to come out on top in the end.

The post-match stuff was fairly predictable, but I’ll always be pleased with a cunt like Logan Paul getting Stunnered.

4 – Sheamus def. Riddle(c)
(United States Championship)

I did not expect this one to be this good, but I am thrilled we got to see it because it blew my expectations out of the water.

Despite Sheamus putting on some great singles matches so far this year, the concept I had of him from the early 2010s still lingered in my mind. The idea that he was just this boring guy who was alright sometimes but didn’t deserve anything too major. I realised during this match that I was completely wrong to hold onto that vision for so long.

This was a case where two guys just clicked in the ring and led each other to one hell of a match. It was medium-paced but played with a lot of hard-hitting offence that kept the level of intensity bubbling away, only releasing the pressure in a select few high spots. Things like the belly-to-belly off the top, the wide array of counters, and of course, the finishing spot were all brilliant. In almost any other match on the card, a significant botch like the one they had would’ve risked killing it, but it barely felt like a blip on the radar because of how much I was into the match by that point.

The finish was the highlight, with Sheamus kneeing Riddle in the face while Riddle was upside-down attempting a Moonsault. Yes, it wasn’t as good as when Adam Cole & Ricochet did it, but who cares? It still looked brutal and bloody awesome. I would’ve preferred Riddle to win, but after this match, I have absolutely no complaints with Sheamus holding the US title for a while.

3 – Cesaro def. Seth Rollins

As expected, two great wrestlers put on one incredible match.

This one was fast and fun from the word go. It felt extremely balanced, and no man ever stayed on offence for that long at once. Rollins worked to slow the match in places, but it never lasted too long and gave us the rest we needed before the next extended flurry of fun moves. The main story beat here was that this was Cesaro’s first singles match at Wrestlemania, and he made it clear he should’ve been getting them for years before this as he pulled out all the stops.

There were a bunch of really inventive counters too. Rollins managed to turn a Neutraliser into a Powerbomb and then into Pedigree, which absolutely blew my mind because it happened in the space of about 2 seconds. Cesaro busted out a bunch, too, turning a Stomp attempt into a European Uppercut – a move that always looks brutal and impressive. Listing the great spots is all I can do because this match was just full of brilliant action.

Cesaro getting the win is fantastic too. I’m still not super optimistic about whether WWE will turn this into a sustained push, but he has this moment of triumph at Wrestlemania now, and no one will ever be able to take that away from him.

2 – Bianca Belair def. Sasha Banks(c)
(Smackdown Women’s Championship)

This match was tied with the Universal Championship match in terms of what I was most excited for going into the show, and BOY did it deliver. It was everything I’d hoped it would be.

This match was the culmination of Bianca Belair’s rise. Not just from the past year, but from the start of her run in NXT. In the space of about three years, she went from a wrestler who was kind of green but had potential into a fully formed main event star ready to claim her crown. Just looking at her previous major matches in NXT and you can see how incredibly far she’s come, and it’s such a joy to see her reach the spot we’d all hoped she would.

The moment at the very start of the match where Bianca took everything and had to hold back the tears was so precious and heartwarming. It told you everything you need to know about how important this match was to her and how hard she’d worked to get there. When the action kicked off, she was all business and – to the surprise of no one – these two had incredible chemistry from the word go.

Sasha has had a great run as a face, but she’s such a natural heel performer, and that was obvious in this match, where she took the role as the defacto heel, despite not explicitly being a bad guy. Sasha used her experience and confidence to press down on Bianca as much as possible, which was perfect for Bianca to fight back against. Every move felt so significant and carefully crafted to build everything to a brilliant conclusion.

Sasha locked in the Bank Statement surprisingly early, and from then on, Bianca did not let her get it a second time no matter what, which was a brilliant touch. The finish was also fantastic, with Sasha repeatedly finding ways to slip out of the K.O.D until Bianca caught her with no escape, made for such a tense sequence with a cathartic payoff when she hit it and got the win.

It was a beautiful match that steadily built to the perfect climax and gave us the heartwarming win we wanted. Easily one of main roster WWE’s best matches so far this year.

1 – Roman Reigns(c) def. Edge & Daniel Bryan
(Universal Championship)

Say what you like about the rest of the card, but you can’t deny that WWE nailed booking their main event scenes for this show.

By the time all three men made their entrances, I was ludicrously hyped for this one, and it did not disappoint. It didn’t move too fast, instead giving us a more tensely paced match that felt like it could end at any moment. The opening was the fastest section, where all three men just wanted to beat each other up. We then brought the element of Jey Uso in to give Roman the advantage before removing him from the equation for the bulk of the match.

From there, it was all the trimmings that make triple threat matches great. All three men cycled round, coming in and out of the match at certain intervals to ensure that the dynamic never got stuck on one path for too long. Things were constantly shifting and evolving, which not only made it more interesting to watch but kept that tense atmosphere bubbling, with any man potentially coming in and picking up the win at any moment.

The highlights include Edge locking in the Yes Lock, with the aid of a steel bar, only for Bryan to suddenly show up and ALSO lock in the Yes Lock on Roman Reigns before both men proceeded to headbutt the shit out of each other. My personal favourite moment was when Bryan pulled the referee out of the ring on Edge’s pin because I genuinely bought that as the finish before it was snatched away from me.

The finish was really good too. The Con-Chair-To is a brutal looking move at the best of times, but that doubles when done to Daniel Bryan. Edge’s choice to do it slowly gave Roman the opening to turn the tables and end it for Edge, and the way he pinned both men at once was just beautiful. If this was a year ago, the internet would’ve exploded with rage at the sight of Reigns doing something like that, but it was just perfect for his character. It makes Reigns seem truly invincible, and whoever finally beats him (I hope Big E, but it could be anyone at this point) is going to become an instant star.

This match lived up to the hype and will absolutely go down as one of the best main events in Wrestlemania history.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and all my posts over the last week. Let me know what you thought of Wrestlemania either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Saturday, where we go back to the world of video games and I talk about the characters that mean the most to me!

8 Times the Wrong Wrestler Won the Royal Rumble (and who should’ve won instead)

While the Royal Rumble is always an exciting time of year, and generally, the match itself is always enjoyable regardless of the winner, sometimes it can be hard to get around the fact that Rumbles are by and large remembered by their winners. This is fine for the most part, but there have been a few instances throughout history where thinking back, the winner seemed somewhat disappointing in the grand scheme of things.

Sometimes, when a Rumble winner is initially disappointing, it’s turned into an interesting story, and the whole thing works out in the long run, but that isn’t always the case. Thankfully, the 2021 Rumble winners seem to be excellent choices; however, in these instances, we’re going to discuss today, the person who won the Rumble either didn’t need it, failed to make any kind of impact in the long run, or was just a horrible choice compared to an alternative.

However, I’m not going to point out problems without suggesting solutions, so I will also cover who I believe should’ve won the Rumble match instead of the real winner, and we can have some fun speculating.

8 – Bret Hart & Lex Luger – 1994

A draw. The match ended in a draw.

Granted, the Rumble was still in its early days back then, so they could get away with more experimental stuff, but could you imagine how pissed off we’d all be these days if the Rumble ended in a draw? We’d be outraged and would mock it for decades to come, yet we all just seem to have accepted this one.

If I were to speculate, I think the reason this is the case is that Wrestlemania 10 ended up being a terrific show that told a pretty interesting story. However, no one ever gives a shit about Lex Luger’s role in that story. Seriously, whenever I hear anyone talk about this situation, it’s about how great Bret’s story was of wrestling Owen in the opener before coming back to defeat Yokozuna in the main event. Luger just gets completely forgotten.

Who should’ve won instead?

Bret Hart, on his own.

If you removed Luger from the occasion entirely, the whole story becomes so much better. You still make Bret wrestle Owen in the opener, and that match goes exactly the same way as it did in real life. The only difference is that you don’t have Luger wrestling Yokozuna earlier in the night, which means that come the main event, you have a fresh Yokozuna going up against Bret Hart, who not only put on a great match earlier in the night but lost.

You couldn’t ask for a better underdog story, and it would’ve added that extra layer of drama to the main event and an even bigger emotional exhale when Bret won the title. Not to mention, you don’t have to end the Royal Rumble in a sodding draw.

7 – Charlotte Flair – 2020

Truth be told, Charlotte winning this Rumble wasn’t actually that bad in the long run. Her story and match with Rhea Ripley was one of the highlights of Wrestlemania season this year, and the Rumble was a great place to start it. I just think there was a far better option on the table.

Who should’ve won instead?

Shayna Baszler.

Now, I know Baszler got her Mania match with Becky anyway, but I’d argue the Rumble would’ve been a far better way for her to get there. Consider what’s at play, Baszler entered in the number 30 spot in the Rumble that year, destroyed everyone in sight, only to get eliminated by Charlotte. It was a pretty underwhelming debut. Sure, she bounced back, but only after we had to sit through the most boring Elimination Chamber match I’ve ever seen.

If Baszler had won the Rumble, she would’ve come onto Raw with the kind of fire very few do, and you could’ve spent longer building her feud with Becky into something a lot more intense. You can still have Charlotte challenge Rhea for Mania because, let’s face it, all Charlotte would need to do is turn up in NXT and demand a match, or have Rhea show up on Raw and get in Charlotte’s face. Then, not only can you build a better story surrounding Lynch & Baszler, you don’t have to waste the Elimination Chamber on a match booked to be a complete and total snoozefest.

6 – Vince McMahon – 1999

I’m of two minds with this one. On the one hand, I can see how this Rumble win served the story, and it’s not like McMahon actually went on to fight at Wrestlemania, so what does it matter? However, I think there’s more to it than that. For one thing, this is one of the less-liked Rumbles as a whole, and I can see why it focused so heavily on McMahon & Austin that it felt like no one else involved in the match was even remotely important, other than maybe Chyna.

In many ways, wrestling fans view the Rumble as sacred. It only happens once a year (unless Saudia Arabia wants one) and to turn it into an hour-long angle like this wasn’t the best use of anyone’s time. I think this is a clear example of how wildly people’s opinion on things can change depending on who wins. The truth is, if McMahon had eventually been toppled at the final hurdle here, I think this match would be far more fondly remembered.

Who should’ve won instead?

Stone Cold Steve Austin

This one’s pretty straightforward. Austin ended up getting the title shot at Wrestlemania 15 anyway, so why bother taking us around in circles like this? It’s like the build to Wrestlemania 35’s main event, the perfect story was standing there, and it was so simple. Then, they added all these extra layers, and it took the shine off the apple, so to speak. If Austin had won this Rumble, even if you’d kept everything else the same, the match would’ve felt like a compelling story that reached the proper climax. Yes, we would’ve gone through some boredom, but it would’ve been worth it for the payoff.

Instead, we ended up with an underwhelming match with an underwhelming winner. Plus, regardless of the circumstances, it’s never a good look when the person in charge of the show books themselves to win a big match like this.

5 – Sheamus – 2012

I’ve made no secret that I’m not a big fan of Sheamus in the past. In all honesty, I like him a hell of a lot more than I used to, thanks to his work in The Bar and recently with Drew McIntyre, but for the early years of his time in WWE, I couldn’t stand the guy. I thought he was boring and not even that good of a wrestler. As such, I’ve never liked the fact that Sheamus won this Rumble.

While I do think he was one of the best opponents for Daniel Bryan at the time, I don’t think we needed the Rumble win to get there, especially when the match ended up being the 18 seconds atrocity that sent the entire wrestling fanbase into a furious frenzy for the next 3 years. While Sheamus had been building as a face over 2011, he didn’t feel like a worthy top guy just yet, and sometimes a Rumble win can serve that purpose, but this one really fell flat.

Who should’ve won instead?

Chris Jericho

The story was so perfect. Not only was Jericho vs Punk a match people were ready to pay like mad to see, but this was Jericho’s big return after a few years away from the business. Jericho vs Punk had a great build and ended up being a fantastic Wrestlemania match, so why the hell didn’t they kick it off the right way?

Well, that’s the thing that makes this sting so much. Jericho was originally supposed to win this Rumble. He was to make his surprise return and immediately become a conquering hero by winning the Rumble and challenging Punk. However, it leaked in the weeks before the event that Jericho was coming back, so WWE decided to completely change plans for the Rumble, cutting off their nose to spite their face.

WWE has never seemed to grasp the fact that just because something’s predictable doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. It’s true that sometimes when we’re expecting one thing and get something else, it’s a fantastic thrill (see Seth Rollins cashing in at Wrestlemania 31), but sometimes things are predictable because it’s what should happen. In films, when the hero defeats the villain and saves the day, people don’t complain that it’s ‘predictable’ because it’s the correct way to round off the story in a satisfying way.

It was a stupid knee-jerk reaction to something leaking online (it only leaked that Jericho was returning, by the way, not that he was going to win) and left everyone watching feel deflated.

4 – John Cena – 2013

So you know how I just said sometimes it’s fine when things are predictable? This was a case when being predictable was bad.

After Wrestlemania 28’s main event between The Rock & John Cena was billed as ‘once in a lifetime’, it would’ve been safe to assume that the match would’ve only happened…well…once. WWE would disagree, though, as, from the very beginning, the plan was to do the match twice on consecutive Wrestlemanias. I know we’re always asking for more long-term booking in WWE…but not like that.

As 2012 progressed and Cena’s story continued to focus on his downward spiral with The Rock, only for The Rock to show up at Raw 1000 (in July) and announce that he’s going to challenge for the title at the Royal Rumble (in January), it became clear to everyone what was going on. After carrying the company on his back for over a year, CM Punk was going to get snubbed for the Rock/Cena rematch that no one really cared about or wanted to see.

This meant that everyone knew who was going to win the Royal Rumble in July, half a year away from the actual event. Now THAT is a case of lousy predictability.

Who should’ve won instead?

The Rock

Now, hear me out. While the story between Rock & Cena was boring and no-one wanted to see it, CM Punk vs The Rock was still a match that people were excited to see, and rightly so, it was a good match (even with the weird booking at the end). So, why not have that be the Wrestlemania match instead? That way, Punk doesn’t get snubbed from the main event (potentially convincing him to stay with the company a little longer), and the fans don’t have to endure a rematch from the previous year that was way worse than the first one. Hell, make it a triple threat if you’re that scared about Cena having nothing to do.

It was a simple case of WWE making their plans two whole years in advance and then refusing to budge on them when a new star rose up and took the wrestling world by storm. By all means, plan out grand year-spanning storylines, but if the times change, you’ve got to change with them.

3 – Randy Orton – 2017

The 2017 Rumble was fascinating because it was the first time in a long while where the winner didn’t seem blindingly obvious. See, as much as there are 30 participants in a Royal Rumble, there are usually only one or two realistic contenders to win the thing. Sometimes this is obvious in how stars are booked towards the Rumble, or other times it’s because the dirt sheets have already leaked what WWE is planning for Wrestlemania that year. However, in 2017, everything was still up in the air, and there was a whole host of different people who could conceivably win.

Brock Lesnar, Goldberg & The Undertaker were a heavy focus in the build, and they were all set to collide in the Rumble. Bray Wyatt was building back up after a relatively lacklustre year, and Braun Strowman was seeing momentum like never before. All of these people and more would’ve been exciting choices to set up a match for Wrestlemania. It seemed like WWE had a win-win situation on their hands because the fans would seemingly be happy with any of these choices.

Then Randy Orton won. Unlike over the past year, Orton was still a somewhat dull character in 2017, and no one had any interest in seeing him compete for a world title at Wrestlemania. Everyone knew his current partnership with Bray Wyatt was going to explode sooner rather than later, and it’s not like we needed a Royal Rumble win to make that happen. Not to mention, it wasn’t even that interesting of a storyline, and no one wanted it to be the biggest of Mania season.

Who should’ve won instead?

Chris Jericho

By FAR the most compelling story going into Wrestlemania that year was the story between Kevin Owens & Chris Jericho. They had worked their asses off all year, with both men doing the most entertaining and genuinely funny stuff on WWE TV week to week. With the Universal Championship over Kevin Owens’ shoulder, the pairing had been the focus of Raw ever since the brand split in June 2016, and their story was that should’ve been the most important one heading into Wrestlemania.

The Festival of Friendship, where Owens turned on Jericho, happened about a month following the Rumble. It was one of, if not the best TV segment of the entire decade and think how much better it would’ve been knowing they had a Wrestlemania match on the horizon. Instead of going with what was clearly the most compelling storyline, WWE destroyed Owens’ credibility by having him drop the title to Goldberg like he was nothing for a Lesnar/Goldberg rematch that, while good, did not need the title AT ALL. Jericho & Owens did get their Wrestlemania match, but it was for the US title as the 2nd match on the show, and it felt so underwhelming because the story hadn’t been treated in the way it deserved.

2 – Batista – 2014

Much like with the Cena/Rock situation, this was a case of WWE having already made their plans and stubbornly sticking to them rather than realising what all of the fans were crying out for.

In the build-up to the 2014 Royal Rumble, it leaked that Batista would be returning for the match shortly after finishing filming the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Naturally, WWE smelt money in the waters and thought that they quite liked the idea of having the WWE Championship over the shoulder of Batista when he goes to all of those premiers and is all over the news. There was a problem, though, because the fans didn’t give a shit about Batista. They instead had their hearts set on a different, smaller, bearded wrestler.

Who should’ve won instead?

Daniel Bryan

The moment Rey Mysterio came out in the number 30 spot of that Royal Rumble, to the moment the show went off the air, the crowd booed and booed until their lungs gave out, and can you really blame them? Since last summer, people had been clamouring for Daniel Bryan to claim his place atop WWE, and over and over again, the people making the decisions told us no. They had characters tell Daniel Bryan that he wasn’t good enough repeatedly, and then the real people behind those characters would book Daniel Bryan to lose, making it seem like they were right. WWE is so needlessly combative with their own audience sometimes it’s genuinely baffling.

The fans didn’t take any of that shit, though, and essentially told WWE that we’re going to keep booing every ‘top guy’ you put in front of us until you give us Daniel Bryan. At the 2014 Royal Rumble, WWE refused to give us Daniel Bryan and stayed the course, and no-one was happy about it. What’s worse is that immediately after the Rumble, CM Punk (another star beloved by fans) walked out of the company over what we would later discover was a laundry list of horrible things that happened to him there over the years.

What’s so baffling is that making the fans happy in this circumstance was the easiest thing in the world. They were quite literally chanting Daniel Bryan’s name ALL. THE. TIME. And yet WWE decided to plug their ears and push forward because, once again, they seem to despise their own fans. The upside here is that, eventually, it worked, WWE relented, and Wrestlemania 30 ended with Daniel Bryan holding the world championship aloft. However, WWE could’ve saved themselves so much strife if they’d have woken up sooner and given the fans Daniel Bryan at the Royal Rumble.

It doesn’t end there, though, because one year later…

1 – Roman Reigns – 2015

…WWE still hadn’t learnt their lesson.

I’m not going to tease you with this one.

Who should’ve won instead?

Daniel Bryan.

Take what I said about 2014, add a year of Bryan being tragically out of action with an injury, only to return just in time for the 2015 Royal Rumble. The story was perfect. After 8 months of pain and suffering as Bryan recovered from his injuries, he stood with the perfect chance to reclaim the championship he never lost by toppling the company’s biggest monster in years in the form of Brock Lesnar.

Once again, though, WWE had made their plans, and it was time to once again bury their heads in the sand and ignore everything else going on around them. WWE decided Daniel Bryan wasn’t the plan they had in mind and completely ignored the fans for the second year in a row, instead giving us the new WWE manufactured star in the form of Roman Reigns. Once again, the fans weren’t as stupid as WWE hoped they’d be, and they saw it for what it was, a transparent attempt to try and create the next John Cena in the form of Roman Reigns.

What makes this so much worse than in 2014, though, is that this choice didn’t just deny Daniel Bryan. It actively hurt Roman Reigns’ career for YEARS. While there were many other issues with Roman Reigns around this time, I genuinely think that him winning this Royal Rumble is what made it as bad as it was. To be clear, after this Rumble, the fans booed even the mention of Roman Reigns’ name for years. People’s opinion on him didn’t soften until late 2018 when he got leukaemia, and EVEN THEN, people didn’t start to properly enjoy the man’s work until the summer of 2020.

For 5 years, Roman Reigns was this absolute toxic entity that caused the fans to immediately hate anything he was involved with. While him winning this Rumble isn’t the sole cause, I believe that if Daniel Bryan had won this Rumble instead, the fans would’ve got over it a hell of a lot quicker than they did.

And there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Let me know what you think of these Royal Rumble winners and my alternate bookings, either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here next week as it’s Wrestlemania week and I’ll be doing both predictions & reviews for both NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver and Wrestlemania!

WWE Elimination Chamber 2021: Predictions & Analysis

Well, that PPV cycle sure went quick. The Royal Rumble feels like it was just a week ago, and I could’ve sworn this PPV was scheduled for next weekend, but that shows what I know, I guess. The bright side is that this time of year always has me excited for wrestling shows, even if the TV isn’t the best.

This show is a bit of an interesting one because it’s pretty much entirely wheel spinning. Usually, Elimination Chamber will at least set the stage for a Wrestlemania match or two, but this one really has no bearing on the Mania card. I know both of the titles are up for grabs, but if you think either of them are going to change hands on Sunday, then you’re clearly new to wrestling. On top of that, no number 1 contenders are being decided; the only possibility is that Edge will come and confront the champion he wants to face at Wrestlemania, but even that already feels like a done deal.

That said, I really like the Elimination Chamber. It’s not WWE’s best gimmick match by a long shot, but I think (2020 notwithstanding) the past few years have produced a lot of really great chamber matches, and this year promises to add to that.

NOTE: About the Asuka vs Lacey Evans match. WWE still seems to be advertising it as happening, but if it’s true that Lacey is pregnant (which just about everywhere seems to be reporting she is) that match won’t be going ahead. I’m not sure what WWE are going to do about it, but given that I don’t think it’s taking place, I’m not going to predict it. I don’t know who WWE would put up as a replacement, it wouldn’t surprise me if they just didn’t bother, but either way, I think Asuka will still be champion by the end of the night.

Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler(c) vs Sasha Banks & Bianca Belair
(Women’s Tag Team Championships)

Remember when the women’s tag division had actual tag teams to challenge the champs and not just some pairings thrown together on a whim? No, me neither, which is sort of the problem with the whole endeavour right now.

While it’s not been anything incredible, the build has been fairly enjoyable week-to-week, mostly thanks to the overall high quality of Smackdown so far this year. It’s not without problems, though, mainly how the build has focused around Bianca’s uneasy alliance with Banks and that Bianca is definitely going to challenge Sasha at Mania. Jax & Baszler have once again been kicked to the curb a bit in favour of the feuds involving the ‘bigger stars’.

That said, I’m hopeful this will be a good one. This should get a decent amount of time thanks to the lack of matches booked for this show, and three of the four women are among WWE’s best. I’d imagine WWE would be eager to showcase Bianca especially following her Rumble win.

I think it’s a pretty solid lock that Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler are going to retain. They may lose the titles only to get them back when Sasha & Bianca fall out, but they literally just did that with Charlotte, so I don’t see the point in doing it again. I think it’d be much better for Sasha & Bianca to fall out here, and we get going with their Wrestlemania build properly. I’m interested to see how that build goes because Bianca is 100% the face that everyone will be behind, but I don’t think it’d be a good idea to turn Banks heel again this soon. Hopefully, WWE will be smart enough to let Banks skirt the line between heel & face a bit, as she’s more than capable of doing it. Either way, having the women’s tag titles involved would just needlessly complicate things, so keep them on the champs for now.

Bobby Lashley(c) vs Keith Lee vs Riddle
(United States Championship)

This build has been messy as all hell.

Riddle’s been chasing Lashley for quite a while now, even running the gauntlet of The Hurt Business and fighting them off at every opportunity. So it seems really weird for Keith Lee to suddenly step in on his scene like this. I mean, sure, why shouldn’t he? And I love Keith Lee, so I’m not going to complain too much; it just seems like a real dick move to pull on Riddle. The Hurt Business has continued to be the best part of Raw the past couple of months, giving us some much needed entertaining promo segments on a Raw that is currently an absolute chore to get through every week.

I’m looking forward to the match, though. I wasn’t huge on Lashley for a while, but I’ve come around to him now he’s got a faction backing him up and just needs to rely on destroying fools. Riddle & Lee are both excellent, so I can only imagine the chemistry they’ll have in the ring. Additionally, the triple threat factor means that this match should be a lot of fun with a fast pace and high-impact action.

I can see the result going all three ways if I’m honest with you. Putting the belt on Keith Lee would be something I’m in favour of as he’s not been featured very well in recent months, but it might feel a bit out of nowhere for him to suddenly show up and win the title. Riddle winning the title is a possibility too, he’s been chasing The Hurt Business for ages now, and it’d seem a bit cruel for him to not get it here. Ultimately though, I’m going with Bobby Lashley. In a situation like this, picking the champ to retain is always a safe bet, and I think by keeping the belt on Lashley, the door is open for Lee to take the title in a singles match at Mania.

Drew McIntyre(c) vs Randy Orton vs AJ Styles vs Sheamus vs Jeff Hardy vs Kofi Kingston
(WWE Championship)
(Elimination Chamber)

Generally, I’d go through each of the participants for a match like this and give my thoughts on their chances in the match, but there’s really only one outcome here.

In a clear example of the fact that WWE has no idea who Drew’s going to face at Mania, they’ve thrown this match together on a whim, and while it’s pointless, it will probably be very good. There’s the right mix of hard-hitters and high-flyers in this match, and I think we’ll get a lot of varied action as the thing progresses.

The only real problem here is that I don’t have all that much to say about it. The build’s been very short and okay, I guess; gauntlet matches are pretty fun. All that’s really left to talk about is the winner, and as I’ve already made obvious, I’m picking Drew McIntyre to retain. The dude just beat Goldberg clean, so there’s no way they’d have him suddenly drop the title to Jeff Hardy on a b-show PPV. Not to mention the fact that they’ve already put together the Wrestlemania promo package, which shows both Drew & Reigns holding their titles.

The only person I thought had any potential to take the title was Orton, but it’s clear that he’s going to be dealing with The Fiend at Mania, so that rules him out. Styles already lost his shot in December, and while they’re all former world champions, Sheamus, Hardy & Kingston have not been booked on a main-event level at all over the past year and don’t fit the title at the moment.

Kevin Owens vs Jey Uso vs Daniel Bryan vs King Corbin vs Sami Zayn vs Cesaro
(Elimination Chamber)

AND

Roman Reigns(c) vs The Winner of the Elimination Chamber Match
(Universal Championship)

This is the chamber match that I’m far more excited to see because – with one exception – I adore all of the talent involved, and it’s sure to be a blinder of a match. What’s better is the result of this one isn’t super obvious, so I can go through it person by person.

King Corbin – While Corbin is one of those people that could be catapulted into the main event out of nowhere at any time, it’s not going to happen here. He’s been booked like a chump in the latter half of the past year, and with Reigns on top, there’s no room for another main-event heel.

Sami Zayn –Zayn’s work of late has been fantastic, even if I don’t think it’s going to lead anywhere. The conspiracy theory stuff allows Zayn to get the best out of himself and do wonderfully entertaining things like handcuffing himself to barricade for half of Smackdown. That said, I don’t think it’s going to lead to a real main-event push, and, as I said before, while Reigns is the champion, no other heel is getting a look in.

Jey Uso – Jey’s story with Roman was one of WWE’s better stories of 2020, but it feels like it’s reached a status quo for now, at least until Jimmy returns from injury. While it would be entertaining to watch, I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from Uso fighting Reigns again. They could do a finger-poke of doom thing, but that would make everyone very angry, so no.

Daniel Bryan – Now we’re getting into the people I think might win. Bryan & Reigns started building a feud around November, but it got dropped out of nowhere, and they never returned to it. It seemed like it was going to be the Mania match, but now Edge has won the Rumble, and it seems pretty likely he’s going to fight Roman at Mania instead. Bryan would be a good strong win for Reigns, and it’d be perfect for the underdog story of having to go through a Chamber match before fighting Reigns.

I just don’t quite see it. If it’s going to lead to a Mania match (which it might), then I’d be in favour of it, but I don’t think that’s the direction WWE want to go, and given how big of a match Reigns vs Bryan is, I don’t think they’d give it away on a b-show like this.

Cesaro – One of the most surprising aspects of 2021 so far is that fact that Cesaro has actually been getting somewhat of a sustained singles pushed. He’s beaten Daniel Bryan clean twice now, and word was he was originally going to get the ironman spot in that gauntlet match in January. As such, I think he’s in with a shout of getting this one-and-done shot the title on this show. Having Cesaro gut it out in the Chamber, put on an exciting but ultimately unsuccessful showing against might be a brilliant way to build him up even further.

Kevin Owens – The final leading contender here, and this would definitely make the most narrative sense. Owens has addressed the fact that he was totally screwed out of the win at the Rumble, and you’d think that would mean there’s still a loose thread to pull on here. On top of that, Owens has all the momentum in the world, and it would be a shame to see it dropped all of a sudden.

I’m struggling to make my pick here. As I said, Owens seems like the obvious choice, but I’m not so sure. While there is that loose thread to pull on, I just don’t see what can be gained from Reigns beating Owens again. It may be a great performance for Owens, but I don’t think it’ll benefit him any more than the Last Man Standing match did, and Reigns doesn’t look all that great beating a guy he’s already beat twice before, even if it was dirty.

I’ve decided I’m going to go with what I want to happen instead, and I’m picking Cesaro to win the Chamber match. It might not lead to anything huge for the guy, but I think it could be an extremely entertaining story and let Cesaro show that he can hang in the main event, like so many of us have known for years. He’s not going to win, though, and come the end of the night, Roman Reigns will still be Universal Champion.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, let me know what you think is going to happen on Sunday, either in the comments below or on Twitter @SStyleSmark. Finally, make sure to come back here this time on Monday for my review of the show!

WWE Survivor Series 2020: Predictions & Analysis

We’re just a couple of days away from Survivor Series 2020 and I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit if I tried. The “brand warfare” stuff is boring at the best of times, but at least in previous years then been some proper intensity around it, and at least some semblance of a story. This year, it doesn’t seem like any of the wrestlers care about the matches and are still building to their own independent feuds.

There’s really no build to speak of, because instead of doing sneak attacks or running down Roman Reigns, Orton was too busy fighting off both Drew and The Fiend; only to lose the title and force us to build a new match in a week. The whole endeavour is entirely pointless and come Monday, it will scarcely be mentioned ever again. It’s a classic example of WWE creative having to put all their plans on hold because the calendar says it’s time for everyone to wear red & blue t-shirts while having matches with no steaks.

Still, let’s predict it anyway.

Dual Brand Battle Royal
(Kickoff Show)

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good battle royal, but given they announced this just 48 hours from the show, with no announced participants, I can’t think this is going to be thought through. They haven’t even specified if it’s men or women involved. I mean, given that there aren’t enough women on the roster of a 10-women tag match AND a battle royal, I’m assuming it’s the men, but you never know.

Much like with the Wrestlemania battle royals, there’s really no point trying to logic this one out. They never give it to anyone who you’d think would benefit from a win, it’ll just be someone they’ve never given wins to before now and probably won’t start after it’s over.

I think Smackdown is going to come out the overall winner of the night, and my predictions for the rest of the card dictate a Smackdown wrestler needs to win here. To me, that gives two potential candidates. The first is Daniel Bryan since he’s almost certainly about to be going after Roman Reigns over the winter, but given how he’s being booked on Smackdown, he doesn’t really need it. Instead, I’m simply going to go with who I want to win it, which is Big E.

The New Day vs The Street Profits
(Raw Tag Team Champions vs Smackdown Tag Team Champions)

A tag team match in WWE that I’m actually excited for? Well, colour me impressed.

I know WWE treat tag team wrestling like it’s not worth anything, but The New Day are at the point where they’ve got a bit of licence to get more time and the likes. In many ways, The Street Profits feel like New Day’s eventual successors. They’re perhaps not as funny, but Montez Ford is one of the most charismatic men on the roster right now and they seem to have perfected their ‘fast guy, muscle guy’ dynamic, which makes for some really entertaining in-ring work. Ultimately, it just depends on whether or not they’re given enough time. Although, given that the 5 on 5 matches tend to take upwards of half an hour, I’m not optimistic.

The problem I face with picking most of these matches is that the complete meaningless of the whole endeavour means there’s no real rationale for who should win. I honestly think I’d have better luck flipping a coin than trying to think it through. I guess I’ll go for The Street Profits purely because they’ve got more to gain from winning. No loss could hurt The New Day at this point in their careers and it would be a big win for the younger guys.

Bobby Lashley vs Sami Zayn
(United States Champion vs Intercontinental Champion)

I honestly don’t know what to say about this one. Sami Zayn’s done a better job of building it on Twitter than anything that’s been said on TV.

I don’t understand what the plan is for The Hurt Business. I mean, I know the real answer to that is that there isn’t a plan, but I don’t see a long-term goal for this faction anymore. It just feels like it’s going along with the only purpose of preserving Lashley’s US title reign, which has been pretty underwhelming as it is. What really gets me though, is that if there are no long-term plans for them, why on Earth have they been absolutely dominating Retribution every week? Does Vince just hate Mustafa Ali that much?

Sami Zayn’s been doing much better on Smackdown, but that feels more like by default. His charisma and promo ability are more than enough to carry whatever he’s involved in to be good, and as much as it’s easy to forget, he is a world-class wrestler. Sadly, there’s no way the outcome is anything other than Bobby Lashley winning. WWE management just doesn’t think a guy like Sami can beat a guy like Lashley, and I can’t see them changing their mind now.

Asuka vs Sasha Banks
(Raw Women’s Champion vs Smackdown Women’s Champion)

I would be excited for this match if we hadn’t already seen it a bunch of times this year. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it will still be good, these are two of the best women’s wrestlers in the world after all, but the shine is definitely off the apple by this point.

I went back and forth on this one a lot. On the face of it, it seems like Sasha would be the favourite, as she’s actually been on TV every week doing noteworthy stuff, unlike Asuka, who’s just been around and doing nothing of any importance. However, I actually think Sasha’s story is why she’s going to lose. Both Bayley and Carmella are still on Banks’ tail, and I could easily see them both getting involved in this match. Admittedly, it won’t be the best look for Asuka to win this way, but I think it’s consistent with her character. Sasha Banks caused her a lot of trouble over the summer, why should Asuka respect her now, just because Bayley turned on her?

Team Raw (Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, Peyton Royce, Lacey Evans & Lana) vs Team Smackdown (Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, Natalya & Bayley)
(5-on-5 Elimination Tag)

And here we come to the elimination tag team matches. The matches that are sometimes utter brilliance, but 90% of the time are people getting pinned after one or two moves when they’d normally be a lot more resilient.

The biggest problem I have about the brand vs brand matches this year is how the teams have had absolutely no interaction with each other. Now, I’m not saying I wanted full-on brand invasions every week, I think we can all agree those are quite tiresome, but throughout the entire build, Drew McIntyre is the only person to appear on a brand that isn’t their own. On top of that, the booking of both teams has been so lop-sided. Team Raw have been interacting and telling somewhat of a story for the whole month, meanwhile, Team Smackdown didn’t even have a full line-up until yesterday.

Of course, just because Team Raw actually have a story, that doesn’t mean it’s any good. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing Lana get beat up as much as the next guy, but who cares? I don’t understand what they’re building up to here, is Lana going pull out a Dolph Ziggler level performance and sweep the Smackdown team? Or is Jax just going to keep beating the shit out of her? Given how they’ve treated Lana this year, I honestly think the latter is more likely.

I’ve gone back and forth on both of the tag matches all week, but I’m going to settle on Team Smackdown as the winners for this one, and I’ll take a punt and say Bianca Belair & Bayley will be the survivors. My thought is that Lana will get sick of Nia’s shit and somehow cause her to be eliminated, giving Smackdown the advantage they need to win, because at least that gives the tag champs something to do going forward from here.

Team Raw (AJ Styles, Keith Lee, Braun Strowman, Sheamus, Riddle) vs Team Smackdown (Kevin Owens, Jey Uso, King Corbin, Seth Rollins, Otis)
(5-on-5 Elimination Tag)

Once again, Team Raw has a bit of a story, Team Smackdown has just been largely doing their own thing in the build.

The stories between both of Raw’s teams are quite similar, but the difference is that the women’s team is only teasing falling apart, while the men’s team already did fall apart. It’s been a pretty boring story of people coming up with dumb nicknames for each other and arguing over who’s the captain, but at least Retribution got a win out of it. I think the focus has been all wrong, the people who need to be built like Lee & Riddle have been pushed to the background to serve Styles, Braun & Sheamus’ bickering and I couldn’t care less about any of it.

Ultimately, the fact that Team Raw already did their ‘falling out’ thing on Monday telegraphs pretty heavily that they’re going to pull it out of the bag and win on Sunday. If I were to guess, I think someone like Styles or Braun will be eliminated shockingly early and the rest of the team will pull together to bring it back. I’m going to pick Keith Lee to be the sole survivor for this one, because why the hell not? The fact is, no-one on Team Smackdown needs the win. Jey Uso looks great alongside Reigns no matter what, Rollins is about to take some time off to be a father, Owens isn’t in a great spot right now anyway, and I couldn’t care less about Corbin or Otis.

Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns
(WWE Champion vs Universal Champion)

I must admit, going from the least anticipated match on Wrestlemania 35 to the most anticipated match of Survivor Series has been quite the character transformation for both these guys.

Genuinely, this is the one match I actually have high hopes for. I think WWE is big on making both of these guys look like world-beaters and their brutal in-ring styles should clash in the best way possible, even if we do get a wonky finish. I know I moaned in the intro about only having one week to build this match, but the contract signing on Smackdown did a pretty good job of it. Drew has his usual simmering charisma to him, and Reigns was absolutely slaying on the mic.

Roman Reigns is definitely winning though. He’s been built up as someone truly unbeatable and there’s no way they’d waste that on a meaningless match like this. While it’s not the best look for Drew, he’s proven once already he can recover from a big loss and be absolutely fine straight after, so I’m not worried about that. You could have Jey, Orton or The Fiend get involved to protect Drew a bit, but even if they didn’t, I think Drew will be just fine.

So there you have it! Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Please, 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 on Monday, where I’ll be giving you my review of the show.

10 Worst Title Reigns That Followed a Money in the Bank Cash-In

The concept of Money in the Bank is one that’s inherently interesting and exciting. The idea that at any time, the briefcase holder could show up and claim their spot at the top of the company, totally changing the landscape of the WWE is something that will almost certainly never get old.

When the briefcase holder finally decided it’s their time to shine, it’s always a memorable moment, even when the wrestler in question is one the audience doesn’t particularly care for. While the action of a wrestler showing up and winning a title in shocking fashion has led to some of the most legendary WWE moments ever, the discussion surrounding it often only focuses on the win and not what came after it.

It’s all well and good crowning a new champion in memorable fashion, but the next day, work has to start on making that champion a good one; a task which has seen a surprisingly high failure rate. So that’s what I’m covering today, as, in this two-part post, I look back at what every wrestler to successfully cashed in the Money in the Bank contract did with the title after winning it. Starting with the worst.

To be clear here, I’m ranking these items on a couple of things. First, there’s the pure numbers, namely, the number of days they reigned as champion. I’m also looking at the overall quality of the titles reign. How were they booked as champion? How many great matches or interesting storylines did they take part in while holding the belt? Finally, there’s the critical matter of how that wrestler continued to be treated after losing their championship. Was their stock in the company raised to a level above what they were at before holding the briefcase? Or did they just sink straight back down to where they were or – in some cases – did they sink even further?

I’m also not counting Asuka in this list as her title reign is still ongoing and I don’t think it would be fair to rank it yet.

So, with that in mind, let’s get going with these rankings.

10 – Alberto Del Rio – 2011
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Summerslam 2011
Won Title From: CM Punk
Days As Champion: 35
Lost Title At: Night of Champions 2011
Lost Title To: John Cena
World Titles Since: 3

When people think back to the summer of Punk and how it was utterly squandered by WWE before suddenly changing their minds and course-correcting in November, what people tend to focus on in regards to Summerslam 2011, is Kevin Nash. I can’t say I blame anyone for doing so because let’s be real here, it was 2011 and this is Kevin Nash, whose physical prime was in about 1987; I know that’s before he was famous but, in many ways, that’s the point.

Anyway.

What I’d like to look at here is the oft-forgotten clusterfuck that the WWE title went through following Kevin Nash’s attack on Punk as Alberto Del Rio cashed-in his contract and became champion. The move itself was a terrible one. Punk was arguably hotter than any superstar in WWE had been since the attitude era and to not give him the chance to have a run at the top in favour of the unproven Del Rio seemed like it was throwing money directly in the bin.

Realising this, WWE knuckled down and made Del Rio into a legitimate main-eventer who wowed crowds the world over.

…hmm? What? What is it? That didn’t happen? Well, what did?…you serious? Wow, ok.

The night following his win over Punk. CM Punk decided he would get justice for this crime by…not attempting to get a rematch and went after Nash. Instead, Del Rio successfully defended his title against Rey Mysterio is a pretty decent match (unlike Swagger, Del Rio was actually a respectable in-ring competitor). It seemed like WWE might actually be trying to make something of him.

Then, just over a month later, he lost the title to John Cena. I’d love to give more detail, but that’s really it. Nothing even remotely interesting surrounded it, Del Rio and Cena had a match, Cena won, job done.

That brings up an interesting point because, based on that, I imagine you’d think that this reign should be much lower down on the list. The thing is, Del Rio actually wins bonus points in the last category of my criteria because, despite being a shitshow, Del Rio did actually see his stock in the company raise significantly following this title reign.

He won the title back from Cena just two weeks later. Although he would lose it back to CM Punk rather quickly, he was still treated as a legitimate upper midcarder in the following years. He even saw two more fairly substantial reigns with the World Heavyweight Championship a couple of years later.

So, even though his actual title reign was awful, the longlasting effects of it were beneficial to Del Rio, so the whole endeavour has got to be given some credit. Not much, mind, but some.

9 – Randy Orton -2013
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Summerslam 2013
Won Title From: Daniel Bryan
Days As Champion: 28
Lost Title At: Night of Champions 2013
Lost Title To: Daniel Bryan
World Titles Since: 2

When I was first putting the research together for this list, I had honestly anticipated Orton’s title reign to be among the top. In my mind, he had cashed in at Summerslam and then held the title all the way through to next year’s Wrestlemania, but that’s actually not the case.

Instead, after Orton teamed up with Triple H to ruin Daniel Bryan’s crowning moment, Orton was immediately thrown into a rematch with Bryan at the next Pay-Per-View, Night of Champions. At this show, Bryan won the title back…for about 23 hours. It transpired the next night on Raw that the referee, Scott Armstrong, had performed a fast-count (sort of) for Daniel Bryan’s successful pinfall attempt. Even though it was made very obvious that Triple H had paid Armstong to do this deliberately, it was used as grounds to strip Bryan of the title.

Now, you might have noticed there that I only spent a single sentence talking about Orton’s reign. That’s because it’s roughly how important it was to all of this. Despite, being dubbed “the face of the WWE” he was just being used as a surrogate for Triple H, who wasn’t an active wrestler at the time.

While the number of world titles Orton won after this is just two, don’t let that fool you. Orton was already a certifiable megastar in WWE and had firmly secured his spot as a future legend for the company. After (eventually) winning the WWE title back thanks to various people being paid to screw over Daniel Bryan, he held it all the way through until Wrestlemania 30, where Bryan would reach the crowning moment of his career (for real this time).

Orton was a fantastic foil, but as it stands, all of that is moot in regards to his place on this list, because the fact is, the title reign following his Money in the Bank cash-in was a total non-factor in just about every conceivable way.

8 – Alexa Bliss -2018
(Raw Women’s Championship)

Cashed In At: Money in the Bank 2018
Won Title From: Nia Jax
Days As Champion: 63
Lost Title At: Summerslam 2018
Lost Title To: Ronda Rousey
World Titles Since: 0

The main problem with this reign is that it actually came at the end of Alexa Bliss’ first run at the top, instead of the beginning. Had this whole thing happened in reverse, this would probably be top 5 material because Alexa Bliss’ run at the top of BOTH the Smackdown & Raw women’s divisions throughout late 2016, 2017 and early 2018 were fantastic.

Bliss had been conquered at Wrestlemania 34 earlier that year by Nia Jax after seeing well over a year dominating WWE’s women’s division, so when she won the briefcase, it seemed odd, especially in the face of brilliant up-and-comers like Ember Moon. We didn’t have to wait long to find out what WWE’s game was though, as later on that night, Bliss would interfere in the Jax/Rousey match and cash-in her contract.

This seemed to be done for a couple of reasons. For one thing, Nia was not popular and, despite being a face, fans did not really care for her as the Raw Women’s Champion. The second was that WWE wanted to hold off on crowning Ronda as champion until Summerslam, but that was 2 months away, so they needed a story to tide themselves over in the meantime. So, why not revisit the Wrestlemania feud between Nia and Alexa? What’s that? Because we’re all sick of it? Pfft, who gives a shit?

As it stood, Alexa did a fine job as champion, by this point in time, she had an evident grasp on her heel persona and was as brilliant with it as she always was. The match the pair had at Extreme Rules was pretty decent too, thanks to a bunch of chaos injected by Ronda Rousey and Mickie James’ presence at ringside.

The main problem with this reign is that there was no drama to it because we were all just waiting for Ronda to win the title at Summerslam. I’m not saying that was a bad thing, I seem to be one of the only wrestling fans that enjoyed Rousey’s run as champion, along with believing she’s a great wrestler, but whatever. My point is, there was never any goal for Bliss’ title run other than to stall for time until Summerslam.

As I mentioned at the beginning, despite having many reigns as Raw & Smackdown women’s champion, this reign happened right at the end of that period, and as such, she’s only moved down the card since. She’s currently doing a fantastic job as one-half of the tag team champions. Still, she in no way benefitted long-term from holding the briefcase after everything else she’d already accomplished.

7 – Jack Swagger -2010
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Smackdown 30th March 2010
Won Title From: Chris Jericho
Days As Champion: 79
Lost Title At: Fatal 4 Way 2010
Lost Title To: Rey Mysterio
World Titles Since: 0

JACK ONE TWO.

Honestly, I hate that theme so much, but it’s going to be in my head for the next week, and I may as well try and take you down with me.

All the other title reigns I’ve covered so far on this list have all been bad because of some sort of exceptional circumstances or completely bonkers booking decision that was made by WWE that ruined the whole thing. This title reign isn’t like that. While it’s still relatively short, clocking in at just under 3 months, it’s a hell of a lot longer than any other reign I’ve covered so far. There wasn’t any weird or stupid booking that occurred during it, and he didn’t lose the title in any kind of unusual way. So what makes it so bad?

Well, it’s actually quite simple. The thing that made this title reign among the worst on this list was Swagger himself. I hate to say this because his current work in AEW is delightful, but he just wasn’t ready in 2010. He had a good look to him, and he even had a legitimate amateur wrestling background to boot. Unfortunately, he was yet to find a personality or in-ring style that clicked with audiences.

As a direct consequence of this, there was usually very little interest in any of his major title feuds. He got some solid wins under his belt against the likes of Chris Jericho and even a clean Pay-Per-View victory over Randy Orton. The problem is that those matches were crap. The veterans did what they could for Swagger. However, the more he wrestled, the more obvious it became to everyone watching that he hadn’t built up the ability to carry a world title and it’s no surprise that none of his PPV title defences ever got the main event spot. Combine this with a personality that had little-to-no charisma, and it became clear that this wasn’t going to work.

It’s a shame because something like this is the whole point of what I believe Money in the Bank should be. It’s a rocket to strap to someone’s back to give them the chance to prove that they’re world championship material. Unfortunately, using it on untested wrestlers is always going to lead to some failures, and this was the case with Swagger.

6 – Dolph Ziggler – 2013
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Raw 8th April 2013
Won Title From: Alberto Del Rio
Days As Champion: 70
Lost Title At: Payback 2013
Lost Title To: Alberto Del Rio
World Titles Since: 0

Ziggler’s cash-in is one of those moments that you could use to singlehandedly justify the existence of the Money in the Bank concept. I’m a sucker for watching a crowd go absolutely mental for something and the moment Ziggler’s music hit on 8th April 2013 is one of the biggest, most excited reactions I’ve ever heard from a wrestling crowd.

Unfortunately, that night is about where the good times stopped. However this time, it wasn’t directly WWE’s fault. Ziggler was initially set to defend the title at the Extreme Rules Pay-Per-View that May. Sadly, that match would never happen as Ziggler suffered a concussion at a Smackdown taping and was taken off of TV for a month to recover.

When he made his return, he reignited his feud with Alberto Del Rio, the man he had won the title from and their match at Payback was a surprisingly well-told story that was able to successfully execute the rare “double turn”. Del Rio ruthlessly targetted Ziggler’s head (playing off of the concussion angle), and Ziggler pressed on, resilient as ever, reversing the face/heel roles going into the match.

As good as this was, it was also the end of Ziggler’s title reign. A rematch was scheduled for the next Pay-Per-View (Money in the Bank, funnily enough) and Ziggler’s entourage, consisting of AJ Lee and Big E Langston, turned on him and cost him the match. After this, Ziggler abandoned his world title pursuit in favour of getting revenge on his former friends.

Ziggler would have a small handful of world title matches in the years since, but he’s never been in with a chance of actually winning. While his cash-in has undoubtedly immortalised him in the minds of modern fans, the unfortunate events that followed it did nothing to elevate his long-term standing in the company.

5 – Rob Van Dam – 2006
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: ECW One Night Stand 2006
Won Title From: John Cena
Days As Champion: 22
Lost title At: Raw 3rd July 2006
Lost Title To: Edge
World Titles Since: 0

This is a case is just a bit sad, more than anything else. This is because if things had gone as they were originally planned, this probably would’ve landed towards the top end of the list. Sadly, as it often does, real-life got in the way and put a premature end to this story.

RVD’s cash-in at ECW One Night Stand is one of the better cash-ins we’ve ever been greeted by. Taking place at the second version of the event, this match was actually a full-length affair due to RVD announcing his intensions to cash-in on Cena in advance of the event. It was the kind of beautiful chaos that reminded us all of the good ol’ ECW days, resulting in the man who was arguably ECW’s biggest star during its lifetime winning WWE’s grand prize.

Things started off in promising fashion. Heyman reinstated the ECW Champion and gifted it to RVD, making him a double champion. RVD retained the title against Edge at the Vengeance Pay-Per-View and then retained the ECW Championship against Kurt Angle just two nights later in a pair of quality matches. Things were going well, and RVD was riding a wave of momentum. Unfortunately, things were about to come crashing down.

In the early hours of 3rd July, RVD and fellow ECW alumni Sabu were pulled over by police for speeding on the highway. While they were being questioned by the police, the car was searched, they were found to be in possession of hash and were arrested. This was a direct violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy and was technically a firable offence. They weren’t fired, however, a triple threat match where RVD defended the WWE title against John Cena and Edge was immediately scheduled for Raw that night where Edge walked away as the champion. The following night on ECW, RVD lost his ECW Championship to the Big Show, and he was promptly suspended for 30 days.

It’s impossible to know how far RVD would’ve gone with the title had this incident not occurred, but if the first few weeks were any indication, it probably would’ve been something really memorable. As it stood, RVD would leave WWE in 2007 and would only return for brief stints in the midcard in the years following. As such, he never reached the world title scene again.

4 – CM Punk – 2008
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Cashed In At: Raw 30th June 2008
Won Title From: Edge
Days As Champion: 69
Vacated Title At: Unforgiven 2008
World Titles Since: 6

After being moved to Raw in the 2008 draft, CM Punk immediately made his presence felt on the red brand by taking advantage of a laid-out Edge (courtesy of Batista) to crown himself World champion for the first time in his WWE career. Almost immediately, things didn’t look to be favouring the new champion. Less than a month into his reign, Punk was forced to defend his title against Batista. While he did retain the championship, it was only via Disqualification after Kane appeared and attacked both men.

A rematch was scheduled for the next night on Raw, which had a near-identical outcome, as the match ended in a no contest, allowing Punk to retain once again. This led to an odd situation in which Batista turned his hunt towards John Cena’s WWE Championship (for seemingly no reason at all), and JBL targetted Punk’s title instead. This admittedly went better for Punk, as he was able to get a pinfall win over JBL at Summerslam, although it must be said that there was little exciting or unique about the match, due in part to the fact that it was buried under much bigger matches.

So far, so standard for WWE in the late 00s right? Well, you’re not wrong, and if Punk had actually lost his title in a match, then this might have jumped up several spots on the list. However, WWE managed to make it so much worse than it needed to be.

Going into Unforgiven, CM Punk was set to defend his championship in a 5-man championship scramble, featuring Kane, Batista, Rey Mysterio and JBL. Unfortunately, Punk never got to the match as earlier in the night, he was attacked by Randy Orton’s Legacy stable and was deemed unable to compete, thus forfeiting the championship. While this might have made sense if Punk had suffered some sort of legitimate injury and couldn’t take part in the match, that wasn’t the case, Punk was perfectly healthy and even wrestled the next night on Raw.

Instead, for whatever reason, WWE saw fit to simply take the title off of Punk for basically no reason, coming up with the lamest of excuses to do so in kayfabe. Punk had a rematch with the eventual winner of the championship scramble, Chris Jericho (who was announced as Punk’s replacement), the next night on Raw. He lost, and that was that. The weirdest part about all of this is that Punk wouldn’t even attempt to seek revenge on Orton for this until 2011, where he suddenly remembered it and used it as the basis for their Wrestlemania 27 feud.

Without taking into account the way it ended, this championship reign would’ve been slightly below average at best. Still, when you take into consideration that Punk never even got the chance to lose the title in the ring, the whole thing becomes an absolute joke. Amazingly, it would take another 6 years of this kind of treatment for Punk to walk out of the company.

3 – Edge – 2005
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: New Year’s Revolution 2006
Won Title From: John Cena
Days As Champion: 21
Lost Title At: Royal Rumble
Lost Title To: John Cena
World Titles Since: 10

You know what they say: first’s the worst…almost.

With the hindsight of the greatness that Edge would go on to achieve throughout his career, it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that Edge’s first title reign was just another glorious accomplishment in his long list of career highlights. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is quite different. As iconic as his cash-in was, very little of interest would follow, and it wouldn’t last very long.

The “live sex celebration” became a very memorable moment in WWE history for obvious reasons, but it wasn’t actually any good. What followed it was a pretty decent micro-feud where Edge put away Ric Flair in a TLC match of all things. However, following that, the man Edge had stolen the title from, John Cena, came knocking and it was all over.

Cena was already growing a bit of reputation as the guy who wins every title match regardless of whether it’s actually a good idea, a trend was not about to be bucked. Cena had his rematch against the Rated R Superstar less than a month after he lost the title and if you need to me to tell you who won, then clearly you haven’t been paying attention.

Cena would go on to main event Wrestlemania 22 against Triple H, while Edge got himself into a feud with Mick Foley. While this feud and the match that came from it were brilliant, it wasn’t the world title match that we had all hoped Edge would be partaking in that year. In the years since New Years Revolution 2006, WWE has framed the moment of Edge’s first cash-in as the real moment he seized the main event scene in WWE by storm. In reality, it would take at least another six months for him to get a world title reign that aligns with the legendary status his career is held to today.

2 – Brock Lesnar – 2019
(Universal Championship)

Cashed In At: Extreme Rules 2019
Won Title From: Seth Rollins
Days As Champion: 28
Lost Title At: Summerslam 2018
Lost Title To: Seth Rollins
World Titles Since: 1

When it comes to elevating a wrestler, that was obviously never the intention with this one. Brock Lesnar is inarguably the biggest megastar of WWE’s modern era, and there was literally no way possible that his stock could be elevated any higher than it already was. Instead, Brock’s acquisition of the briefcase and subsequent title reign served the singular purpose of creating an excuse to have a full-length rematch of Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins, which had lasted a mere two minutes at Wrestlemania 35 earlier in the year.

The match in question turned out to be a great one. Rollins fared exceptionally well against a version of Lesnar who was very clearly “on” that night at Summerslam. It was easily the match of the night and reminded people of what a brilliant wrestler Rollins is, during a time where character stagnation and letting out his frustrations at the fans on Twitter was causing audience investment in him to plummet.

That said, the result was a title reign that was, quite frankly, pointless. It consisted of just two matches, the cash-in where Lesnar won the title and the rematch at Summerslam where he lost it. While I don’t doubt the fact that the Rollins/Lesnar rematch was the right move for Summerslam, I don’t think the Money in the Bank briefcase was even remotely required to achieve that. As has been shown countless times in the past, the only justification you need for Lesnar getting a title shot is Lesnar showing up on Raw and declaring he wants one.

As I said, this entry gets a higher entry than Sheamus’ purely because it was more successful in executing its primary goal. That said, it was still a waste of the Money in the Bank concept and deprived another wrestler of the opportunity of a lifetime.

1 – Sheamus – 2015
(WWE Championship)

Cashed In At: Survivor Series 2015
Won Title From: Roman Reigns
Days As Champion: 22
Lost title At: Raw 14th December 2015
Lost Title To: Roman Reigns
World Titles Since: 0

Traditionally, the purpose of the Money in the Bank briefcase is to take a wrestler who hasn’t quite got their breakthrough into the main event scene yet and strap a rocket to their back to turn them into a verifiable megastar. So I don’t think it’ll be much of a surprise that Sheamus’ title reign landed last on this list when you consider that its entire purpose was to get someone else over. That someone else being Roman Reigns.

The thought process behind this title reign was a simple and surprisingly clever one. The audience at large were still staunchly against Roman Reigns as the face of the WWE, favouring more versatile wrestlers such as Dean Ambrose or Kevin Owens. So the conundrum for WWE was simple, how do they make everyone happy about Roman Reigns winning the WWE title? Enter Sheamus.

Sheamus tends to be quite a polarising wrestler, but the most prominent opinion of him amongst fans (myself included) is that he’s got a lot to offer the company as a tough midcard wrestler. However, as a main-event competitor, he’s always been quite underwhelming. So the idea was simple. If Sheamus wins the WWE title, then everyone will hate that, so when Roman Reigns wins the title from him, everyone will love it.

As cynical and shortsighted of a plan as it was, it absolutely worked. Although the match between the pair at 2015’s TLC event – where Sheamus retained the title – wasn’t all that great, the rematch the next night on Raw (featuring Vince McMahon as a special guest referee) went down an absolute treat as fans screamed their approval when Roman Reigns ended Sheamus’ run at the top.

While this title reign did technically serve its intended purpose, that purpose was an inherently flawed one that not only failed to give Sheamus any kind of longlasting credibility as a main event level competitor, but didn’t even create any longlasting goodwill for Roman Reigns. By the time 2016 rolled around, the audience was back to their Roman loathing ways, booing him out of every arena he entered.

Everything about this title reign was an absolute failure and a complete waste of the briefcase.