Grappler’s Choice #3: WWE Raw – 28.03.16

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© WWE

Entertainment

Discussion:

Pre-Show:

A very professional, well presented panel of discussion. This is my first time watching this pre-show discussion. I like the fact that it is professional, but I do feel something is missing. They need a bit more character or charisma in this panel. Including someone like Jerry The King Lawler might help to liven things up a little.

He has been present on other pre-show panels (e.g. WWE Roadblock) but it would be great to see someone like him on a more regular basis. This panel has a lot of potential. Maybe it would be more beneficial to have another WWE legend alongside Booker T in order to reflect the superstar viewpoint further, together with, providing someone who Booker T could relate to and reminisce with.

Nonetheless, his presence on the panel is fantastic, he’s able to accurately portray what might be going through superstars such as Roman Reign’s mind. He’s been there, he knows what it’s like. The analysis of this panel is strong but it could use a little work. This is just my  honest opinion. Inclusion of another veteran would be invaluable.

The way this show is constructed is reminiscent of a sports replay/ analysis show, for instance, similar to a show analysing the NFL. This adds to the professionalism of it all. I really enjoyed this aspect of it. WWE has moved away from the almost ‘circus’ like mentality that people like Vince Russo brought into the picture. They are treating the superstars more like competitors now as opposed to just sports entertainers.

I didn’t particularly enjoy Corey Greaves’ contribution to the panel. It appeared as though he was just disagreeing with members of the panel for the sake of it; to provide an opposing view. It is important that we see this sort of disagreeance in order to achieve a well rounded discussion, however it shouldn’t be forced.

A good preview of upcoming events in terms of the upcoming Hall of Fame Ceremony, together with, general discussion on Wrestlemania and who are the favourites.

Raw:

  • The Undertaker Promo/Brawl!

Straight away we hear the Undertaker’s music. What a fantastic way to begin the show! The presence of this superstar is magnificent. He demands respect with his persona and the crowd is in awe of him throughout his promo. I wasn’t expecting Shane McMahon to interrupt at this particular point, this created a good pop with the crowd and it was great to see him come out.

These two work well together. Shane O’ Mac appears fearless and it’s refreshing to see how WWE has built this rivalry so well in a very short space of time. Shane O’Mac hits home with Undertaker by mentioning the loss of his streak. The crowd loved every minute of this promo.

It was brilliant to finally see these two fight properly. Whilst this segment is a brawl it does give us a fantastic opportunity to see what Wrestlemania will look like. The crowd again are captivated, chanting ” this is awesome” and cheering at every attack it would seem. We see an amazing leap of faith elbow from Shane O’Mac onto The Undertaker through the announce table, with the crowd chanting ”You still got it”. Everything about this segment was perfect.

It gets my first 10/10!

  • Zack Ryder vs Chris Jericho

We saw a great interruption from Jericho during Zack Ryder’s interview on the earlier pre-show. This created some aggression between the two (well more from Ryder’s perspective as he is enraged at the sight of him). AJ Styles interrupts in order to call out Jericho in order to force him to agree to a match at Wrestlemania.

One thing I wanna congratulate WWE for is turning jericho heel. Whilst it would have been good to see the ‘Y2AJ’ team for a bit longer, Jericho seems to have created more crowd appreciation for AJ Styles by focusing on the continual crowd chants and making a big deal out of them. Whether its for irony or genuine appreciation, the crowd consistently chant AJ’s name and he has fitted in at WWE very quickly.

The aforementioned match was a predictable win from Ryder (from a roll-up pin) to which Jericho beats him down in retaliation and finally agrees to a match at Wrestlemania with AJ Styles.

7/10 (The match wasn’t anything special but the effect and crowd response to this segment was brilliant).

  • Becky Lynch vs Charlotte

Charlotte is a fantastic heel. She is a very powerful champion. I would really like her to retain at Wrestlemania, but I have a feeling Sasha Banks will pull it off.

Some surprising athletic abilities shown by Charlotte in this match. She pulled off a flip over the ropes and landed comfortably on the apron. Becky Lynch demonstrated more of her power during this match. She’s definitely a fan favourite. I think she’s the more deserving competitor in terms of pulling off the Mania’ win.

I really dislike how they’ve put together this feud though. For the last 2 weeks we’ve seen Becky Lynch & Sasha Banks at the ringside announce table, and it’s predictable that they will get involved in the match in order to attack Charlotte, or to battle against each other. This is boring. There needs to be some surprises (e.g. Sasha Banks interfering in the match and costing Becky Lynch the match, this would bring some excitement into this feud and could bring an interesting heel turn for Sasha). Even Ric Flair interfering and enabling Charlotte to win is something we’ve seen time and time again *yawn*. WWE need to inject some unpredictability into this feud and future women’s feuds.

6/10 for this match & segment.

  • Shane O’Mac vs Vince McMahon segment

This segments heightens the hostility between the two and brings further exciting possibilities we could see in this storyline later down the line. It is somewhat awkward watching this however, there are many rumours concerning the blurred lines between Kayfabe and reality in this McMahon family drama. It’s either fantastic, compelling acting, or there is more to this than meets the eye (i.e. backstage drama….)

8/10 Short but sweet

  • Big Show & Kane vs The Social Outcasts (Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)

This isn’t a match, it goes straight to a disqualification and it evolves into a battle royal preview with dozens of superstars rushing to the ring and brawling. It’s all over very quickly, a highlight moment being where Kane & Big Show double chokeslam Mark Henry (making him look small, if that’s even possible?), following this we see a quadruple chokeslam to all four members of The Social Outcasts from Kane & Big Show.

6/10 for this segment. Nothing major here, but it’s not terrible either. This match looks like an exciting addition for Wrestlemania. I sincerely hope a decent mid carder wins this one and gets a push.

  • Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs Roman Reigns

These speeches from the Authority are becoming very drab to listen to. I’m starting to wonder why they keep coming out, considering they are repeating themselves. That being said, we hear the same negative crowd reactions to Roman Reigns, and cheers when Triple H mocks him. WWE really need to turn this around, and quick. Perhaps this Reigns heel turn that everyone is craving should be implemented at Wrestlemania. ”Reigns Screws The Game at Mania” – kinda has a ring to it. Perhaps Reigns could even do it with the sledgehammer and add further insult to injury. Reigns has to win of course, but like I’ve said before, it needs to pave the way for someone else (*cough* Ambrose *cough*).

A very strange crowd response here. For all their efforts in trying to make Triple H a heel for this storyline and generate a negative crowd response as a result -WWE has been unsuccessful. We simply heard clapping in from the audience whilst Triple H was claiming how great and powerful he was. Normally in promos like this we would hear boos, and the crowd would dislike the blatant display of ego and arrogance. Yet once again, the WWE fans make it clear that they do not like Roman Reigns at all. At least not in this ”YOU HAVE TO LIKE HIM SO WE’RE GOING TO FORCE HIM DOWN YOUR THROATS UNTIL YOU LIKE HIM” way. Sorry to say, but WWE is booking him all wrong. Pay attention to the crowd response!, give him a heel turn!

In fairness, they do achieve a slight negative response eventually. Roman Reigns’ entrance generates a very mixed response as always. But it appears the fans were cheering Triple H and booing Reigns as usual.

4/10 for this one. I really detest the booking of Reigns and the Authority storyline as a whole.

Thank god The New Day come out next!

  • Kofi Kingston vs Alberto Del Rio

I do wonder sometimes how the WWE came up with this gimmick. It’s very random.

It’s great to see Alberto Del Rio back in action after being absent from last weeks’ shows. An impressive reverse suplex from the top turnbuckle nearly destroys Kofi Kingston, I wondered at one point if it was a botch. Alberto is such a brilliant competitor, every move is perfected (together with taking falls). A fantastic near fall moment at one point produces a big pop from the crowd.

The New Day pulling off another win is disappointing in some ways as it means the current win/loss ratio between them and The League Of Nations is 4:1, making The League Of Nations look weak again. This is entertaining wrestling to watch each week and should make for a good match up at Wrestlemania, but it is a little unbelievable in terms of trying to make The League Of Nations look tough. I’ve touched on this in another review so I won’t repeat myself, but I will say this: The League Of Nations should win at Wrestlemania cleanly, but leave a brutal warning (in the form of a beat down). This would certify them as a stable/faction to be taken seriously, which could in turn be used in other storylines (e.g. League Of Nations vs The Wyatt Family anyone?).

Seeing Jonathan Coachman in WWE again was fantastic, this brought a fantastic comedy moment with The New Day. It would great to see him return to WWE full-time one day.

On a side note, did anyone else spot Salvatore Vulcano (AKA ‘Sal’ from Impractical Jokers’)?, it was one of those ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ things, see if you can spot him! #SpotSal (although admittedly he is in plain sight and you will see him many times).

I’ll give the match and segment 7/10.

  • Kalisto vs Konnor

Seeing performers such as Kalisto really makes me think that WWE should bring back the cruiserweight championship and division. Perhaps it’s just me thinking this, but back in 2002 this was an exciting and promising division. There are plenty of superstars who would fit into this division and it would save superstars from getting injured so easily, because the WWE could match competitors according to their build and abilities again. For instance, this Kalisto vs Ryback match at the Wrestlemania Kick-Off show looks like it may end badly. Considering the sheer size and aggressive nature of Ryback’s fighting style in comparison with Kalisto’s small, athletic and mexican style of wrestling – I cannot see how the match will work, or what exactly it will bring. I stated last week that we’ve seen the ”big versus small” storyline before. But I really think that this time it doesn’t add anything.

Some impressive corkscrews and other similar moves performed by Kalisto off the ropes. It’s a very quick match and just leads to a stare down between Kalisto & Ryback. I really think Ryback could do with some character development. WWE creative should consider adding a more dynamic angle to his character. They need to give him more to work with.

I’ll give it 5/10.

  • Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman & Dean Ambrose segment

Heyman delivers an ever pleasing speech to big up hype for Lesnar. He seems to always top his previous speech every time. This week is no different. Ambrose interrupting to get weapons from under the ring, ignoring lesnar in the process brought an interesting psychological element to the feud.

A great segment all in all, i’ll give it 7/10.

  • Paige vs Emma

It’s been awhile since we saw Paige in action. Great to see her in the ring again. Total Divas vs B.A.D & Blonde’s 10 women match at Wrestlemania looks very promising. This match in particular is a great match of attitude and aggression. Two women’s matches in one night!, glad to see WWE is taking this division seriously. I really hate hair pulling of any kind in women’s matches though, aside from that, the athleticism and impressive caliber of wrestling displayed by these women is fantastic. It’s getting very brutal in places, these women don’t hold back. We see Paige get screwed by Lana and she loses to Emma as a result. This adds fuel to the fire and we begin to see a women’s brawl unfold in the ring. Eva Marie’s entrance gets a great pop from the crowd and joins the Total Divas team for Wrestlemania.

6/10 for this match & segment.

  • Stardust, The Miz & Kevin Owens vs Sin Cara, Sami Zayn & Dolph Ziggler

Not much to comment on in this match. The crowd was fantastic during this match, chanting anything from JBL to CM Punk. Gotta say, watching Dolph Ziggler is like watching Shawn Michaels in his prime. I absolutely love watching him perform.

This match provides a nice preview of how these competitors may perform with eachother at Wrestlemania. The match at Wrestlemania should pan out to be chaotic, which is what we all want.This match establishes the impressive abilities of Sami Zayn. We FINALLY get to see Kevins Owens vs Sami Zayn. With Stardust and The Miz walking out on Kevin Owens, as he did in the weeks prior. Sami Zayn completely nails Kevin Owens and gets the win in the end, could this be what’s to come at Wrestlemania?

7/10 for this one. Exciting implications!

  • Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs Roman Reigns Part 2

So after an earlier attack from Roman Reigns, Triple H attacking Reigns with help from the Dudley Boyz, we get more of Hunter & Stephanie, more of Reigns attacking Triple H and finally, just plain fighting between them. We then see an all out brawl from the WWE locker room with various factions and tag teams (League of Nations, The New Day, The Dudley Boyz, The Usos etc) trying to split them up.

3/10 for this. It’s just unimaginative and I think WWE can produce much more than this. Nevertheless, despite what many are saying, there are some very strong, exciting looking matches coming at Wrestlemania. But it’s not their strongest PPV at all, and they need to seriously work on certain feuds & storylines after Wrestlemania.

 

Entertainment Score: 8 /10 A good show all in all!

Professionalism

Discussion:

The commentary is almost silent at times. Disappointing, especially considering we have 3 commentators. Nothing unprofessional here, it just needs improving. The show was run very well, nothing to comment on professionally speaking.

Professionalism Score: 8 /10

Grappler’s Choice #2: WWE Smackdown – 24.03.16

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© WWE

Entertainment

Discussion:

We begin Smackdown with a promo from Charlotte discussing her triple threat match with Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania. Last week on Smackdown we saw them partner up to attack Charlotte and put her in her place. This apparently had no effect on Charlotte’s confidence.

  • Sasha Banks vs Charlotte

Sasha Banks displays some incredible flexibility and athleticism. This is my first time watching her perform in singles competition and it’s worth watching. Charlotte is somewhat of a powerhouse though, taking its toll on Sasha Banks who is more of a cruiserweight in terms of build. This match demonstrates how brutal the quality of wrestling is in the women’s division right now.

Becky Lynch interrupts the match at the end and demonstrates her power. I have to say, this is looking like an exciting match for Wrestlemania. Quite a short match, but it demonstrates what we have to look forward to on April 3rd.

I’ll give it a 6/10.

As soon as we hear ‘The New Day’ announce themselves the crowd reaction is a unanimous cheer – and as it should be!. Every time they come out it’s always a funny segment. This segment does seem to repeat what we’ve heard in the last two weeks of promos between the New Day and the League Of Nations. They are 100% confident on the mic though, I know I’ve said it before but it really does make you love a superstar/group of superstars more if they are confident on the mic.

  • Sheamus vs Kofi Kingston

It is a little hard to believe Sheamus used to be the world champion when a mid carder is running rings around him. Not to downplay Kofi Kingston’s abilities as a performer, but this is a little strange based on that aforementioned fact. Further into the match we see a dominating Sheamus, experiencing what we’re used to seeing from the Celtic Warrior. The League Of Nations seems to be all about power, whereas The New Day seems to be more technical, utilising more high risk manoeuvres. Kofi Kingston really impresses in this match. His high risk moves look so effortless and well rehearsed. One of the best moves sees him perform a  front flip over the top rope onto Sheamus.

We finally get a win from the League Of Nations here, by causing a distraction Sheamus gets a chance to nail Kofi with the Brogue Kick. This should have happened a lot earlier. Going into Wrestlemania they finally look strong.

I’ll give it a 7/10 (Kofi was awesome!)

  • The Usos vs The Ascension

The tag team division is probably the most exciting division at this point (though the women’s division is very close) and I would attribute this to the sheer variety of teams on offer in this roster at the moment. We have some veterans in the Dudley Boyz and new, exciting teams such as The Usos. The Usos take care of The Usos defeat Ascension very quickly in this match in what is essentially a squash match. They seem to be using the Dudley’s table gimmick since the Dudleys refuse to give the fans what they want.

I think they should make their match at Wrestlemania an elimination table match.

5/10 (poor match but very interesting implications for Wrestlemania).

Immediately afterward we see Bubba Ray Dudley talking trash, to which Roman Reigns promises to bring the fight to Bubba Ray in a match later on Smackdown. This could be the beginning of Roman the heel which would be a fantastic development for this character.

  • Dolph Ziggler & Sami Zayn vs The Miz & Kevin Owens

Very interesting set up since all these men will be competing against each other at Wrestlemania. Sami Zayn puts on a very athletic show with some brilliant takedowns and reversals. I really hope Dolph Ziggler gets a push as a main event player soon, for me he is deserving of this place, he’s been there before and he was very close to defeating Triple H recently. Perhaps this is the beginning of that road for him.

In this match we finally get to see a little bit of Zayn vs Owens which we’ve all been waiting for. To be honest, I would have personally been very happy with a match between these two at Wrestlemania, but a ladder match is much more exciting!

These superstars are some of the most exciting on the roster. They work well together, they sell well and they work very hard. This for me was classic WWE, like what you’d expect to see in the Attitude Era or the Ruthless Aggression era. Other superstars needs to study this match and take notes. This was full of high risk manoeuvres, well perfected moves, rehearsed footing and style, and just generally exciting momentum that isn’t forced. It just worked very well and it really sets up Wrestlemania in a memorable way.

I’ll give this match 8/10.

  • Roman Reigns vs Bubba Ray Dudley

It’s good to see Reigns in action before Wrestlemania, I was starting to wonder when it would happen. Bubba Ray is a strong willed, powerful opponent. This match becomes very disappointing, very quickly. Reigns is disqualified for ramming Bubba Ray’s head onto an announce table – exactly what he had done to Triple H the week prior. It’s really getting boring seeing the exact same things happen each week. I was really hoping we’d get to see a full match with Reigns, but yet again the fans are the last consideration. The match ends predictably within about 3 minutes and we barely get to see any wrestling. I understand that it presents a ”look at what’s to come” kind of segment, but it’s just a robbery really. I think many fans (especially the ones who had paid to come and watch Smackdown that night) would have loved to see Reigns in full action (me included!). Disappointing.

2/10 for this one.

  • Ryback vs Kalisto segment

This is a painful segment ”you’re not even old enough to ride an amusement park” – are we five years old or something?. We’ve done this ”big vs small” thing before and it’s becoming too tried and tested. WWE creative needs to give Ryback something more to work with, this is just awful to listen to and really doesn’t offer anything to the fans.

0/10 for this one. (Sorry, but it really didn’t do anything for me at all).

  • Tyler Breeze vs AJ Styles

Very happy with WWE using AJ Styles every week. It makes sense to use your new star as much as possible and the fans absolutely love him. AJ styles is very skilled performer, he seems to work well with everyone pitted against him. It was a very quick match but it demonstrates the point that AJ styles is ”phenomenal”.

I’ll give it 7/10.

  • Brock Lesnar segment

Love hearing Paul Heyman big up Brock Lesnar. A big, booming voice always enhances a superstar’s ego. Brock Lesnar doesn’t need it, but there’s something that’s just right about seeing Lesnar and Heyman together. I’ve always preferred Lesnar in-ring ability as opposed to  his mic skills; Heyman takes care of this perfectly.

Absolutely fantastic to see the Wyatt family come out and outnumber Lesnar. It’s weird seeing Lesnar as the victim, but very quickly he turns the situation around despite the attack, even taking care of Ambrose after a surprise attack with a kendo stick. I think the Wyatts should get more involved in this feud, maybe even interrupting their match at Wrestlemania.

8/10 for this segment, absolutely brilliant.

Entertainment Score: 7 /10

Professionalism

Discussion:

The scripting choice for the Ryback vs Kalisto segment was appalling. I think WWE creative can create something much better for the product.

The commentary is much better on Smackdown compared with Raw. Maybe it’s because they have a veteran in Jerry The King Lawler. I’ve always enjoyed his commentary, especially when he was with Jim Ross.

Professionalism Score: 7 /10

 

Grappler’s Choice #1: WWE Raw – 21.03.16

 

WWE: The Raw Review – 21/03/16

WWE-RAW

© WWE

Recap: Last week’s episode saw a savage revenge attack from Roman Reigns on Triple H. The attack was brutal, ending up in the backstage area. Fellow wrestlers had to restrain Reigns from continuing his pursuit of Triple H.

Entertainment

Entertainment Score Overall: /10

Discussion:

  • Stephanie McMahon/Roman Reigns Promo

Raw begins with a promo from Stephanie McMahon explaining that Triple H is unable to be at the event, however she reiterates that it is not due to the brutal attack from Reigns the previous week, rather, due to his professional commitments – thus furthering the gap between the WWE fans & the authority, Stephanie’s wording and insulting manner toward the crowd is pretty strong, she’s always been good on the mic and is very skilled in maintaining a heel reaction.

Whilst this divide between fans and the company has worked in the past (think Vince McMahon & the Corporation from the Attitude Era) it doesn’t appear to work now. Many of the sources I have read from fans, together with, professional shoots on the subject (check out Jim Cornette’s shoot with Lance Storm; Lance sums it up very well in regards to how WWE has preconditioned this negative reaction from fans) as fans have become too involved with the product, they know too much about the industry (e.g. the exposure of Kayfabe and other industry secrets), thus making it difficult to maintain a hold on this angle. I seriously think they should drop this angle after Wrestlemania and try something completely new. That being said, recent promos such as the addition of Shane McMahon Vs Undertaker appear to be presenting the more compelling type of narrative that WWE used to produce.

Roman Reigns’ mic skills have improved a little bit this week. I was honestly very impressed. He delivered his part of the promo very well and it was a sincere and engaging segment.

Short but sweet, this was a good promo overall. I’ll give it 8/10.

  • AJ Styles Vs Kevin Owens

It’s genuinely a pleasure to watch AJ Styles perform. I wasn’t familiar with him until very recently and ever since I’ve started watching some of his old matches, together with, his matches in WWE, it’s really been an eye opener in terms of his athleticism and skills.

Kevin Owens is a great character. I really feel that they should push him more as a heel, he seems to revel in this, and it comes quite natural to him.

This match showcases more of Styles’ athleticism, he really is a joy to watch. He always goes for high-risk manoeuvres it would seem, and this makes his matches so much more enjoyable to watch.

Some very impressive moves from Styles. Him and Owens work well together, this would be a good match to see again in the future. This is much better than their previous encounter on Smackdown (excluding the disturbance of Chris Jericho as part of the ongoing storyline feud which effectively ended the match).

Owens matches Styles’ athleticism, throwing down a very impressive frog splash. This match was worked very well, plenty of surprises, and the Philadelphia crowd were hooked on the match.

I didn’t like the match conclusion however. They simply repeated the events from the previous week and the finish was predictable. That being said, everything else in the match was superb.

This match was fantastic. I’ll give it 9/10

  • Kevin Owens/Dolph Ziggler/The Miz/Sami Zayn Promo

The promo afterwards concerning the Intercontinental title picture for Wrestlemania shaped up very nicely. It looks more appealing than the Triple H/Roman Reigns match if I’m honest. Owens arranged a Triple-threat match between The Miz, Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn to become the number one contender for the intercontinental championship to appear later on Raw (or so it would seem…)

I’ll give this promo 6/10.

  • Dean Ambrose Promo

The Dean Ambrose promo was brilliant. I loved last week’s one with Mick Foley and this weeks’ didn’t disappoint. Another legend introduced and another weapon at Ambrose’s disposal. It would be brilliant if Ambrose actually uses these weapons at Wrestlemania, that would make for one heck of a match!

I’ll give this promo 8/10.

  • League Of Nations vs New Day Promo

I have to say, I initially found The New Day a little irritating but I am really enjoying their promos and matches now. They’re a team that really grow on you after some time. They’re good on the mic and they wrestle well. This promo wasn’t fantastic if I’m honest, but I think that’s probably due to a poor script. The New Day delivered it well. I am starting to get annoyed with the ‘in your face’ immediate product placement in terms of them promoting their ‘Booty O’s’ Cereal every week though. It was fun at first in terms of an addition to their gimmick, but it feels a little bit like a sales pitch now.

I’ll give this one 4/10.

  • Rusev vs Big E

Some impressive moves from both men, including Big E’s excellently executed belly-to-belly suplexes. Rusev pulled off some awesome moves too, including a very powerful spinning heel kick. It’s incredible to see larger superstars pulling off these types of moves, a true testament to their athletic abilities.

It was a good match overall, I was disappointed with the ending though. I feel that the League of Nations should have got a win this week. They’ve lost three times now and it just makes it difficult to take them seriously as a strong stable.

I’ll give it a 7/10.

  • Wyatt Family Promo

A very brief promo but very compelling. I love this stable. I especially love Bray Wyatt’s character. This has to be the best gimmick on the current roster. They look cool, they’re good on the mic, they have a strong entrance theme etc.

I’ll give it 7/10.

  • Big Show Promo

It was touching hearing Big Show discuss the legacy of Andre The Giant. The rest of the segment was ok, nothing special. The social outcasts are a stable I can’t really identify with, I don’t really understand how they fit into the bigger picture. The end of the segment sees Kane chokeslam the Big Show, to which the crowd barely responds. It was all a little strange to watch. But nonetheless, the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal Match at Wrestlemania looks like it will be fun to watch.

I’ll give this 5/10.

  • Chris Jericho vs Fandango/ AJ Styles vs Jericho Promo

A very quick match, wasn’t really able to get into this one due its shortness. It was however a set up for the following promo. It was funny to see AJ styles getting back at Jericho. This feud is building very nicely. Jericho has always been a fantastic heel, and he’s really pushing it this time around. It looks like a Chris Jericho vs AJ styles match will be on the cards for Wrestlemania. I’d like to see some sort of a twist added to it though. We’ve seen these two compete before so it’d be nice if there was a match twist (e.g. a ladder match). Both men are high flyers and this would be a great opportunity to take advantage of that.

I’ll give this whole segment 6/10.

  • Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship Number 1 Contender Spot

A nice brief introduction by Kevin Owens to the match. Bringing us a twist by presenting the same match mentioned earlier in the program, except with completely different competitors. Namely, Stardust, Sin Cara & Zack Ryder. Sin Cara & Stardust worked well together in this match. I’ve always enjoyed watching cruiserweight competitors and Sin Cara does not disappoint! Jumping off the ring ropes very eloquently and almost effortlessly, he makes the match very exciting to watch. On a side note, it was funny listening to Kevin Owens & Michael Cole bickering on commentary. Owens is a brilliant heel.

The match descends into chaos when Ziggler, Miz & Zayn come out to confront Owens. It ends by disqualification and all men involved start fighting on the outside of the ring.  I think some form of elimination match should be arranged for Smackdown between all 6 men involved, with the winner going on to face Owens at Wrestlemania. Considering rivalries and the best match possible for the show, it would be good if Sami Zayn goes on to face Owens.

Immediately afterward, Stephanie McMahon announces a ladder match at Wrestlemania for the Intercontinental title. I’ve gotta say, that’s one of best announcements for the Wrestlemania card so far (excluding the Hell In a Cell match between The Undertaker & Shane McMahon of course).

I’ll give this match & aftermath a 8/10.

  • Natalya vs Charlotte

Here we see a WWE Roadblock rematch. Both women are fantastic competitors but I have to say, Natalya is my favourite. She pulls off some impressive submission moves and is just generally a great in-ring competitor. Charlotte displays a lot talent here in this brief but enjoyable match.

I’ll give it 6/10.

  • Bubba Ray Dudley vs R-Truth

It was really annoying listening to Bubba Ray trash talking throughout the match. It wasn’t really a match so much as a beatdown with insults thrown in the mix throughout. A very short match, R-truth was pretty fun to watch, but otherwise – a disappointing match.

The segment afterwards with Goldust and the Usos coming out was enjoyable, but still ended in a disappointing way. Their match at Wrestlemania should be good though (Dudley Boyz vs The Usos).

I’ll give it 3/10.

  • Hell In A Cell Announcement

Vince McMahon recaps the events recently regarding the upcoming match, together with, announcing that if The Undertaker does not win at Wrestlemania, it will be his last. Perhaps hinting at it being a retirement match?

6/10 for this one.

  • Dean Ambrose vs Braun Strowman

Our main event is a dull match sprinkled with a few interesting moves, however the Philadelphia crowd chant ‘This is boring’ – a statement I cannot disagree with. The match ends by disqualification, and we get a preview of what Ambrose vs Lesnar might look like at Wrestlemania, with Ambrose attacking Strowman with a steel chair.

I’ll give it a 5/10.

Professionalism

Professionalism Score Overall: 6 /10

Discussion:

I believe there was a brief mistake in Stephanie’s dialogue when she was discussing Triple H’s match with Dolph Ziggler whereby she states that his loss demonstrates why he won’t become WWE World Heavyweight Champion, she then immediately starts talking about Roman Reigns again, however it doesn’t quite follow what she immediately said. Either I’ve misunderstood that one or Stephanie covered it very well.

The dialogue between Michael Cole & John Bradshaw Layfield in this segment is a little bit awkward to listen to. Michael Cole refers to Stephanie McMahon as ‘Triple H’s wife’ which makes sense given what they are discussing as Roman Reigns makes his entrance to the ring, however JBL makes the very important point that ‘she is the owner of this company, a very powerful woman’.

Whilst this is Kayfabe commentary, JBL does touch on an important point here. It seems like Michael Cole was undermining Stephanie a little bit by saying that. In my opinion, her marriage to Paul Levesque is besides the point. I regarded that comment as a little condescending and whilst it’s obvious that Michael Cole would never intentionally infer something like that, his commentary does need to be a little more professional in this capacity.

During the AJ Styles Vs Kevin Owens match JBL appears to say ‘I don’t like your commentary very much Bryon’ to which he replies ‘huh?’ and there is silence thereafter. This doesn’t sound Kayfabe, it sounds like a genuine opinion from JBL and this is quite unprofessional to be honest. I would love to be corrected here, but if this is the case, JBL should save these sorts of criticisms for off-air conversations.

Rusev wasn’t selling very well in his match against Big E. It was a little poor at times. He more than made up for that however, through his athleticism throughout the rest of the match.

– Christian Reeve

‘Best For Business’

‘Best for Business’

‘Best for business’, these are the words you’ll hear the McMahons & Paul Levesque use to describe their actions during recent promos for WWE. Whilst these words are used to describe ‘Kayfabe’ decisions made by them, it is somewhat ironic considering their recent real life decisions which have left many fans, wrestlers and people in the wrestling community asking ‘why?’

Running any business, particularly the size and scale of WWE is going to be an arduous challenge, you cannot please everyone, especially considering the fact that fans have so much power in terms of influence in this particular industry. Add to that the complexity of hiding key booking decisions without any information being leaked, together with, the task of masking the industry’s secrets (such as upholding authenticity in the ring) and you can already observe a few surface issues that are very tough to handle.

However, if consumer demand is large enough for a particular thing, the business should respond accordingly – right? I am of course referring to WWE superstar ‘Roman Reigns’ in this case. It is very clear that the WWE is trying to ‘put him over’.

There is no reason why this man shouldn’t be put over in my opinion. His athletic ability is brilliant, he’s in great shape and has a bright future ahead of him. However, due to poor booking and poor writing from the WWE creative team, his character has really suffered. So much so that in the most recent episode of RAW where Roman returned to attack Triple H in retaliation, the crowd booed him the entire time.

This has been consistently occurring every time Roman has entered the ring ever since WWE began to push him, following the end of ‘The Shield’ storyline. The Royal Rumble this year was a fantastic indication of this considering the fact that Triple H is supposed to be ‘Heel’ as part of the current storyline, whereas Roman is supposed to be ‘Face’, Triple H came out and eliminated Roman – to which the WWE fans cheered.

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Image source (http://dailyddt.com/files/2015/10/Reigns2.jpg)

It isn’t Leati Joseph Anoaʻi’s fault either. He is simply the victim of poor booking and terrible storylines. One area he does need to improve however is his mic skills, as he is very weak in this area, and whilst the script he has been given on many occasions has been poor, he doesn’t deliver it very well. Interestingly enough though, when we consider the promos he was cutting in NXT, he made a fantastic heel and it appeared to come very naturally to him. Essentially, I am hoping that WWE will wake up, see some sense and book Roman as a heel!

If they want to make him the face of the company for the future that’s absolutely fine, but he cannot be forced over, fans are not stupid. This is especially true today considering how the internet has allowed us to know much more about the industry than we should. In my opinion, Roman should be booked as a heel and play up to the role as much as possible.

I think he should win at Wrestlemania by ‘screwing’ Triple H. The following Raw after Wrestlemania, Roman should cut a promo where he plays up to his new heel role, stating that he’s better than everyone (playing on his roman empire gimmick a bit more by claiming outlandish things in terms of his strength and might) and that no one is worthy of challenging him. At this point, depending on fitness, availability and any ideas for storylines that WWE may have, I think that either Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose or Seth Rollins (if he has recovered) should challenge him. The subsequent storyline should feature Roman repeatedly beating and screwing over whoever he faces.

This should build up for 2-3 months (perhaps shorter depending on how it is received by the fans), until a final showdown at a PPV. Roman should then drop the title cleanly to whoever he is feuding with, with no interference, no dirty tricks on his part or anything. The match should end with Roman shaking the hand of whoever wins. This would then pave the way for Roman to return to being a face. But this shouldn’t be rushed. After this he should take some time off and then return in another storyline, but this time WWE should let the crowd slowly warm to him.

This is just a small idea in terms of how they could potentially return Roman to face and then push him as the face of the company. But the key issue for WWE here is to listen and react to what the fans want. They need to do what’s ‘best for business’ and for the time being, book Roman as a heel. You never know, Leati might revel in this role and actually turn out to be a fantastic heel, but they definitely need to take this risk, because repeatedly pushing him as a face is not working at this point in time.

– Christian Reeve