Grappler’s Choice #12: Fantasy Tag Team

Give Me Sport

Ok so just a quick plug here, but recently I applied to ‘Give Me Sport’ to become an article writer and was successful!. I haven’t been focusing on this blog much due to this and revision for upcoming exams at university. But anyway, if anyone is interested in reading my articles you can find them here – http://www.givemesport.com/christian-reeve

Ok so now that’s out of the way, I wanted to discuss this fantasy tag team idea that I have which I think is highly unlikely to occur, but would be absolutely awesome to see in the WWE.

Baron Corbin & Bray Wyatt Tag Team – Why should it happen?

I think that WWE should create a tag team out of Baron Corbin & Bray Wyatt. Considering the recent rumours that the Wyatt family stable is likely to disband in the near future, it would interesting to see how he could work with Baron Corbin. Though both men have yet to cross paths, there are similarities in terms of how mysterious both competitors are, as well as, the positive crowd reactions they both receive.

Considering the recent injuries that Bray Wyatt has faced, tag team action might be a good option for him in the recovery process. It’s not necessarily too demanding (depending on who they face and the nature of the matches) and would allow the fans to see something new, fresh and exciting.

It would help to elevate Corbin, both men could potentially get a tag team championship under their belts, and it would provide the WWE with more time to plan the futures storylines and pushes for both men.

Perhaps I am living in a fantasy world, but this one seems much more enticing in comparison with some of the storylines we have seen over the past two years. However with that being said, I cannot deny that I’m extremely excited to see WWE Payback; even more than I was to see WrestleMania!

WWE has created some fantastic matches and storylines recently, leaving many fans with hundreds of questions and that’s exactly what we need. We need unpredictability and compelling storylines.

And on that note, I believe this fantasy tag team should be one to seriously consider.

– Christian Reeve

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Grappler’s Choice #11: Shane McMahon Vs The Authority

WWESince Wrestlemania 32 Shane McMahon has been in control of Monday Night Raw. In a decision made by Vince McMahon which essentially dismissed the earlier stipulation made in the ‘Hell In A Cell’ match that Shane McMahon would only gain control if he beat the Undertaker, WWE appears to have ignored this stipulation, opting to give Shane O Mac control regardless.

This has led to rumours speculating that The Authority is likely to return to the WWE and challenge Shane’s claim to authority. Considering the fact that Triple H has returned to in-ring competition on the European tour, some sources are claiming that this may lead to a challenge from Triple H to Shane McMahon. In any case, the following are two scenarios that might occur if we are to see a return from The Authority.

Potential Scenarios

  1. Shane McMahon Vs Triple H: Shane’s match at Wrestlemania 32 demonstrated to fans and superstars alike that he is still ready and able to compete in matches. Triple H likewise returned at The Royal Rumble, won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and proceeded to retain it until his eventual loss at Wrestlemania. Therefore, we might see a ‘one on one’ match for control of the company between these two. This would likely culminate in a showdown at Summerslam.
  1. Classic Survivor Series Match: This would also serve as a means of deciding who gets full control of Monday Night Raw, whilst also creating a classic Survivor Series elimination match. We’ve seen this style of match before back in 2001 with the invasion storyline, or in more recently in 2014 with ‘Team Cena’ vs ‘The Authority’. This option would mean that the storyline would take need to be much longer, however this power struggle over the course of the year could provide some exciting entertainment for WWE fans. Given how exciting recent WWE Raw events have been, this storyline could serve as a means of providing fans with more a creative, dynamic main storyline, whilst also serving as a means of quietly removing The Authority angle, which has had many fans scratching their heads in regards to how long the storyline has lasted.

Grappler’s Choice #10: Chyna ‘The 9th Wonder Of The World’

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Today marks the passing of Joan Marie Laurer, known in the wrestling world as ‘Chyna’. I wanted to share my thoughts on my memories of watching her whilst I was growing up, as well as, to give everyone an idea of why she was such an important person within the wrestling industry.

Chyna was a key figure in the ‘Attitude Era’ of WWE. As a member of the popular stable ‘DX’ she would always be present during matches and promos. When she was introduced to WWE she was a silent performer, rarely uttering a word and existing as more of an entourage to Triple H. Immediately she demonstrated her strength as a competitor and over time began to pick up singles victories left, right and centre in the women’s division. She revolutionised the division and paved the way for many of the fantastic female competitors you see now.

Chyna achieved feats that no other female competitor has achieved before in the WWE and the field of wrestling in general. For instance, Chyna is the only woman to have ever held the Intercontinental championship and most likely will remain so.

This of course means that Chyna regularly competed with male superstars, having defeated Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle and Triple H in singles competition. She also competed in mixed tag matches, most memorably with DX and with Eddie Guerrero.

When I remember Chyna I do not consider the hard times she had in later life or the struggles that we heard of throughout more recent years, I remember her as I did when I was a kid growing up; an absolute star. I remember forgetting very quickly the novelty of Chyna defeating male superstars, I just remember her being an absolute legend in the WWE.

My absolute favourite memory of Chyna will always be of her entrance at Wrestlemania X7 (17). Chyna had returned to singles competition in the female division, she had a change of appearance, and had recently recovered from a neck injury at the time.

She brought a pyro gun out and made an incredible entrance, not to mention her outfit was very memorable too. Chyna went on to win that match and become Women’s champion again, on the grandest stage of them all.

I am saddened by her passing, at such a young age. But I am comfortable in the knowledge that her legacy will live on. You just have to look at the women competing these days and see how incredible they are as performers. Women are taken seriously as competitors now in the WWE and elsewhere in the wrestling world, and you can thank Chyna for being a crucial part of that.

I would also like to add that I feel it would only be fitting for Chyna to be posthumously inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame for the class of 2017. This is just a thought, but I honestly believed this before she had passed and will continue to believe so.

If you had never seen Chyna perform before, I honestly recommend it. She was an incredible performer and it’s worth watching.

RIP Joan Marie Laurer (AKA Chyna)

Grappler’s Choice #9: WWE Payback Predictions

*This was an unsuccessful post that I submitted to ‘Give Me Sport’ in the hopes of becoming a writer for them. I thought it would be good to post it anyway and see what everyone thinks of the upcoming PPV. And who knows, maybe I will be successful in the future!*

Payback, an aptly named title for our follow-up PPV to Wrestlemania. Things have been anything but calm since the ‘showcase of the immortals’. Shane O Mac has been running Raw and booking fantastic matches left, right and centre. Thanks to Shane we had the joy of watching a weekly tag team tournament, with the winners getting a chance at championship gold.

Enzo & Cass took the tag team division by storm when they made the leap to the main roster from NXT. Now they have an opportunity to face off with The New Day. Personally I think the winners of the tournament should have faced off against the tag champions at Payback, but this is most likely going to be saved for the next PPV. Enzo & Cass to win this one, they look like one of the most dominant and strong teams on the roster. Mic skills, power and charisma – they’ve got it all!

My winner for the Women’s Championship match is Charlotte. I’ve seen rumours online surfacing that indicate WWE might be pushing Sasha Banks to topple Charlotte at Summerslam. Natalya is a deserving champion and it would be great to see her win, especially considering the fact that Bret Hart will be at her corner for this match. However, I see Natalya being screwed out of the championship again (just like she did at Roadblock). Although this might be a good thing if we consider this prospect ‘Charlotte vs Natalya vs Sasha Banks’…..

Kevin Owens should come out on top for the match up against Sami Zayn. He’s already had a good run as Intercontinental champion and the WWE really needs more main-eventers, so he should keep winning. Owens is your man for this one. Going forward, I see Sami pushing for a mid-card championship at this point. Considering the fact that Jericho buried Styles at Wrestlemania (which made absolutely no sense by the way, especially since he’s facing Roman Reigns for the WWE championship now…), it would make more business sense for Ambrose to come out on top here, especially if WWE want him as one of their ‘top guys’. My gut feeling tells me Jericho will come out on top here though, I think we’re gonna see a long feud here.

What would this PPV be without some Payback? , I seriously think Zack Ryder should interrupt The Miz and cost him the championship to Cesaro. Cesaro doesn’t need the help at all, but this would create a brilliant feud between The Miz & Ryder, whilst also giving Cesaro the push he deserves. Cesaro to win this one though, regardless of potential interruptions.

And finally, our main event. Given the recent introduction of the ‘Bullet Club’, I really believe Styles could pull this one off. But given that Reigns is the WWE’s handpicked guy, I think this will be another chance to show how ‘strong’ he is, as he will most likely take out everyone. Reigns will come out on top here.

Grappler’s Choice #8: WWE Smackdown – 14.04.16

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© WWE

Entertainment

Discussion:

Ok so straight away, although I’ve said it before (this is the final time I’m going to say this I promise!) Smackdown is completely lacking in regards to its storylines and general format. The only thing I can really praise is its short running time (I’m sorry but three hours is simply too long for a weekly show, it’s completely understandable for a PPV, but otherwise I think it drags things out too much.)

I’ve literally just started watching the opening announcements for matches on the card and it just doesn’t inspire me. The competitors are great, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like everything that happened on Raw has been forgotten, as though Smackdown is a sort of warm up show for Raw.

I realise what i’m saying isn’t exactly news to anyone reading, but it’s my opinion and I can’t lie about how I feel about something. I can’t help but compare with the Attitude/Ruthless Aggression eras. Back then we had continuity in terms of storylines on each show. Smackdown would be a continuation of the events that had preceded it on RAW. Of course when the brand split occurred in 2002 this changed, however we saw great competition between both shows, competing intensely for viewership each week.

This is arguably one of the reasons why the brand split was scrapped eventually. I have mixed feelings on the issue of the brand split. In the media there have been rumours that it might occur again in the future (owing to Shane O Mac’s recent storyline) but I highly doubt that. Fundamentally, it is impossible to please every wrestling fan and that’s completely fine, although it would be worth listening to fans now and again on certain things.

Smackdown needs to change, it’s become stale. This is ridiculous considering the ratings it used to achieve. The talent is there, the roster is absolutely incredible right now, especially with this recent influx of NXT superstars!

I just sincerely hope we see a change in Smackdown. I can’t understand why Smackdown should be a counterpart show or a secondary show to Monday Night Raw.

  • Maryse & The Miz (Miz TV) Segment

The perfect heel. The sarcastic, ignorant and arrogant nature of this character really makes you want to detest him. Even his mannerisms and outlandish clothing are egotistical. It’s good to see Maryse out here supporting The Miz. Somehow, and it’s probably most likely because he’s intercontinental champion now, The Miz looks stronger and more determined. Could this be the beginning of a big push for The Miz?, potentially, he has the skills in terms of generating a lot of heat from the fans, his in-ring ability is looking very good and all round he’s looking pretty strong.

I’m still quite annoyed Zack Ryder seems to have disappeared from the title picture, that seemed to be a spectacular waste of an opportunity. It seems incredibly harsh that it had to be the day after Wrestlemania. Couldn’t he have at least held it until WWE Payback?

Well, it doesn’t matter now. I’m just hoping Ryder might interfere with the title match at Payback and cost The Miz his championship to Cesaro. It would make for a great rivalry! It goes without saying that Cesaro deserves a push, and winning the Intercontinental Championship would create a fantastic opportunity to do that.

The segment plays out as you would expect at first, with The Miz saying everything possible to boost his ego and Maryse simply agreeing with him and adding to it.

I was quite surprised to see Zack Ryder coming out to confront them, although it’s fantastic as it means WWE might actually be giving Ryder a chance here, rather than just sending him back to NXT.

Zack Ryder gets his second opportunity to win back the title and become a two-time intercontinental champion. I was sincerely surprised by this, I thought The Miz might say something like ”you had your chance…you’re not in my league etc”. But there you go!

Then we see everything take a swift turn, with The Miz announcing that Ryder already has a match scheduled for the night with none other than…..Baron Corbin!!

6/10 for this segment, it’s really unclear whether Ryder is going to get a proper push or just get buried. I sincerely hope it isn’t the latter.

  • Zack Ryder vs Baron Corbin

Corbin looks fearsome, a real force to be reckoned with! His physical style is all out brawling with a few athletic moves added into the mix. The Lone Wolf looks strong throughout, although Ryder puts up a fight – this isn’t a squash match!

As some might expect, Corbin picks up the win, proceeding to beatdown Zack Ryder. Dolph Ziggler runs out to protect Ryder and get some revenge for last week. Corbin manages to escape the ring and walk out standing tall, remaining undefeated on the main show.

6/10 for this. The match was nothing particularly special, but Corbin is an exciting prospect and this match only adds to his impressiveness at this stage.

  • Paige vs Emma

Well at least we have some women’s matches on Smackdown! These two are particularly impressive, I remember them standing out at Wrestlemania in the 10 women tag team match. Emma’s theme tune is really catchy aha!

I have to say sometimes the women sell better than the men. The rivalry between these two doesn’t just seem to be kayfabe (i’m sure it is, but it looks impressively genuine).

Quite a quick match but we see more of a contest compared with the previous match. Emma’s style is very brutal and Paige looks legitimately injured after having her head smacked off the top turnbuckle.

7/10 for this one, though I would have liked to have seen a slightly longer match.

This week sees the continuation of last week’s tag team tournament for the number one contendership announced by Shane McMahon.

  • Enzo & Cass vs The Ascension (Tag Team Tournament Match)

And for the third week in a row these guys get a huge pop from the crowd. What a great idea pushing these guys to the main roster!, every time they come out the crowd chants (How You Doin!) and repeats nearly everything these guys say. That’s how you know a team is over with the fans!

Enzo & Cass announce that they are gonna become Tag team champions, and I have to say, they really do look and sound like champions!

A solid victory from Enzo & Cass here, an incredible move off the top rope by Enzo Amore to close the match. We finally get our first full length match of the night.

7/10 for this match. Looking forward to seeing Enzo & Cass in their next match.

  • AJ Styles vs Alberto Del Rio

For me, watching AJ Styles perform is like always watching a main event, It’s confusing that this isn’t the main event of the evening considering the caliber of these two competitors.

It’s also great to hear Alberto Del Rio’s entrance music and not that awful League Of Nations theme (I’ve heard that WWE might be breaking up this stable soon, I can’t say I’ll be sad to see the back of them, they really didn’t offer much, but as singles competitors they definitely do!). Does anyone like that theme?

Alberto shows us impressive moves such as an incredible wrecking ball dropkick through the ropes. It’s great to see more of the usual style we expect to see from the man, his moves have been somewhat restricted whilst working with the League Of Nations.

We see a particularly painful looking backstabber at one point from Alberto Del Rio, almost destroying Styles’ spine. Soon after we see a vicious inverted superplex off the top rope that looks like it might take out Styles, yet he seems to have an incredible amount of resiliency!

Styles wins with a brilliant roll up pin, reversing Alberto Del Rio’s move and subsequently proving that he is ready for his match with Roman Reigns. He’s beaten two multiple time wwe champions in Chris Jericho & Alberto Del Rio. Will Styles become the face of the company? We shall see at WWE Payback!

8/10 for this match.

  • The Vaudevillians vs Goldust & Fandango (Tag Team Tournament Match)

Who doesn’t like Fandango’s theme music! He delivered a master display of athletic moves such the enziguri, but alas it was not enough!

The Golden Truth might have been a better choice for this match, oh dear Goldust! There wasn’t much else to comment on in this match, it was fairly quick and The Vaudevillians looked to be the winners throughout. It would be incredible to see them face off against Enzo & Cass, that make for a fantastic match up!

6/10 for this match.

  • Chris Jericho vs Sami Zayn

My first thoughts going into this match were ”I hope Dean Ambrose interrupts and kicks Jericho’s ass!” His heel turn is really working and has created a lot of heat among the fans. He doesn’t seem to be deterred by factors such as AJ Styles fighting Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Jericho has always played a great heel and this time is no exception!

My wish comes true as Ambrose interrupts the match ,together with, Kevin Owens’ interruption. It’s hilarious as he gives out little posters of his new show ”Ambrose Asylum”. It’s fantastic when he tried to give one to Jericho whilst he is down on the floor outside, much to the disgust of Jericho.

Throughout the match we have Owens & Ambrose on commentary, communicating with eachother directly as well as our usual commentary team. It’s very strange as our attention is barely on the match at hand, and instead focused on when will we see some sort of interruption from either Owens or Ambrose.

Jericho returns to his heel run from the mid noughties, complete with disrespectful slaps to Zayn, as well as, ”that pin” if you can remember.

The match itself is pretty equal in terms of ability, although Jericho looks particularly strong throughout. Some fantastic reversals by Zayn, sending Jericho flying off his feet.

In a surprise turn of events we see Jericho randomly attack Ambrose, sending him flying out of his commentary chair. We also see Zayn throw Jericho at Kevin Owens. The match ends by disqualification, with Owens attacking Zayn. Zayn & Ambrose seem to inadvertently form an alliance against Jericho & Owens.

It’s a great end to the match as it leaves us in suspense in terms of how these rivalries will develop. Right now the biggest question is: will we see seperate matches between these four superstars at WWE Payback?, or have we just witnessed the beginning of two alliances that might culminate in a tag team match up at Payback?. Whatever the case may be, this certainly does make things a lot more interesting. Our ending to Smackdown this week gives us a more classic WWE vibe.

For the match & the subsequent outcome (i.e. leaving us with some suspense for once) I’ll give this part of the show 8/10.

Entertainment Score:  7/10 – I had to change my opinion upon seeing the climax to our main event this week. Whilst the show needs a lot of development in various areas, our main event provides us with real exciting implications for next week, together with, our upcoming PPV: WWE Payback. Good stuff WWE!

 

Grappler’s Choice #7: WWE Raw – 11.04.16

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© WWE

Entertainment

  • SHANE O MAC! SHANE O MAC!

Boom! Shane O Mac returns for another Monday Night Raw! , We’re told due to ”Overwhelming social media support” reported on WWE’s Twitter that Shane McMahon was demanded by the wwe universe to run the show again!

Straight away Shane promises fresh opportunities for new and upcoming talent, with that he announces a women’s championship match between Natalya & Charlotte (so we’re getting it earlier than my previous prediction of WWE Payback, but we’ll see what happens here).

It appears we’re going back to the classic style of competing to be in contention of championship opportunities. Shane announces a tag team tournament, the winner of which will go on to face The New Day for the WWE World Heavyweight Tag Team Championships.

Sami Zayn gets an opportunity to get into the WWE World Heavyweight championship picture, since his chance last week was squandered by his bitter rival; Kevin Owens. Should he win his match against AJ Styles tonight, the championship match will become a triple threat match up between Sami Zayn, AJ Styles & Roman Reigns.

I’ve gotta say, this just feels like classic WWE. It’s more than just Shane’s presence on Raw. His choices in terms of booking these matches are brilliant, and reminiscent of the Attitude/Ruthless Aggression Eras in WWE. It’s exciting, and that’s what the fans want! Finally we’re getting what we want!!!

Kevin Owens interrupts and essentially comes down to the ring to complain about how he’s been ”robbed” of opportunities.  He demands a rematch for the intercontinental championship on Raw. Shane O Mac arranges a match between Kevins Owens & Cesaro for the number one contendership, showing exactly who’s boss.

  • Kevin Owens vs Cesaro

Great to see Cesaro back in action. Owens is an absolute wrestling machine, it’s a real joy watching him compete. He’s a fully heel superstar, and yet he is very likeable, interacting with the crowd throughout the match, and putting on a great display of brawling and tactical wrestling, targeting the injured shoulder of Cesaro.

We see some fantastic uppercuts from Cesaro throughout the match, he sells them excellently.

The two big standout moments for me in this match were Cesaro receiving the crossface from Owens, and then eventually countering, putting Owens into the sharpshooter.

We see another fantastic frog splash from Owens, who has absolutely mastered the move and made it his own. I sincerely hope we continue to see him perform it. He is strong and incredibly athletic, despite him being a larger superstar.

And we hear a (this is awesome chant from the fans) – I couldn’t agree more.

This was an amazing start to Raw, Cesaro wins and gets a well deserved push. He will face The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship (This will presumably be at WWE Payback, it’s going to make for an excellent match up, so this will probably be the best time for it to happen).

8/10 for this one. Absolutely fantastic match!

  • The New Day Segment

The champions have held the championships for a record 232 days according to Michael Cole. That’s pretty damn cool!, but it would be good to see a change, to see some new champions.

It’s great to see them endorsing the tag team championship. I know this is just a filler segment, but these guys are great on the mic and are brilliant with the crowd, complete naturals!

  • Lucha Dragons vs The Dudley Boyz (First round of the Number 1 Contender Tag Team Tournament)

Kalisto appears to have suffered an injury during this match and I don’t think it’s kayfabe. This turned the match into a handicap match, with Sin Cara receiving a beatdown for most of the match. We see a very courageous comeback from Sin Cara, but it’s to no avail, with the Dudley Boyz winning the first match and advancing through the tournament. It would be amazing to see them become ten time tag team champions (has a nice ring to it doesn’t it?).

Enzo Amore & Big Cass come out to remind us all that they wanna take out the Dudley Boyz. The crowd absolutely loves them and they receive a big pop from the crowd. We see a funnier, cheekier side from this team. It would be fantastic to see these two teams face off during this tournament.

7/10 for this match and segment combined.

  • Roman Reigns/League Of Nations/Wyatt Family segment

Mixed crowd reaction this time. Not many boos this time week, promising to say the least!

Reigns repeats the line for a third time (The Guy!) and it’s really catching on (the fans even cheered a little). Reigns is embracing the hatred from fans, and he’s becoming more and more likeable as a result.

The League Of Nations’ t-shirts are brilliant, I’m very tempted to get one!

The Wyatts come out eliminate the League Of Nations. It’s exciting to see the League Of Nations dealing with a stable other than the New Day. Finally we’re seeing some interesting and well matched rivalries building up.

And of course it leaves us all thinking, why on earth are the Wyatts helping Roman Reigns? (This is great!, finally some questions in our minds and a lack of the predictability we’re used to seeing each week).

Shane O Mac interrupts before the wyatts can launch an attack on reigns, setting up a tag team match with Reigns teaming with an old enemy in Bray Wyatt, against two members of the League Of Nations. Exciting announcements left,right and centre on Monday Night Raw!

8/10 for this segment!

  • Natalya vs Charlotte (Women’s Championship Match)

Dr Phil comes out as a special guest host for Monday Night Raw. He had some very stern words for Charlotte & Ric Flair in an earlier segment on Raw.

Some very impressive submissions from Natalya (as you’d expect from a member of the Hart family), she sells them very well, in particular performing an impressive head scissors into armbar at one point in the match.

Charlotte goes all offensive in this match, opting for a more aggressive approach. Charlotte also demonstrates her technical skills, performing a figure four leg lock. She adds insult to injury by delivering a sharpshooter on Natalya.

Natalya performs an incredible release german suplex during the match, performed to perfection!

Charlotte (with the help of Ric Flair) manages to screw Natalya out of winning the championship by getting herself disqualified. It was very disappointing as the there was a huge crowd pop when it appeared that Natalya had won. Charlotte tapped out to the sharpshooter and this is the second time Natalya has been screwed over for the championship by Charlotte (the other being WWE Roadblock).

It’s difficult to score this one, because the match was brilliant but the outcome wasn’t. That being said, Natalya looks like the champion and hopefully will get her shot at WWE Payback. With that in mind, I’ll give this 9/10. It really was a compelling match!

  • The Usos vs Curtis Axel & Heath Slater (Social Outcasts)

A very quick match, well deserved win for the Usos. They do win by capitalising on an unsuspecting Heath Slater (via a roll up pin) but I don’t think many people will disagree with them being deserving of a tag team title shot. Though their victory celebration is short lived….

Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson make their WWE debut, punishing the Usos and announcing themselves as a force to be reckoned with! This turned round a very predictable match into an event! The bullet club is here!

7/10 out for this match and assault. The bullet club is going to cause some real havoc in the WWE!

  • AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn

Interesting matchup in retrospect. AJ styles wins either way if you think about it. If he wins the match, nothing changes for him in his current circumstances for the title match at Payback. If he loses, Zayn is added to the title picture. Some might argue that would be bad for Styles, although, taking on Reigns alone is not going to be an easy task. Having Zayn in the match could actually work in Styles’ favour. Whilst I’m not saying he should lose this match on purpose, in a way I guess I kind of am!

If Zayn loses, he doesn’t get anything, but if he wins he gets a shot at the title. So essentially, Styles has nothing to lose, whereas it’s a big opportunity missed if Zayn loses.

The match begins fairly slowly, a test of strength followed by a series of takedowns. We don’t need to wait long for the momentum to pick up, and when it does it’s the usual high flying action you’d expect from AJ Styles.

Zayn took some tough shots to the face from various kicks and knee shots from Styles. This was a great match up, with each man matched perfectly in terms of athletic ability. Styles is quite the technician during this match, a clever strategy in this match – keeping Zayn off his feet and grounded as much as possible.

An incredible crossbody from Zayn off the top rope, he gets some serious height!This was an incredibly close match, kind of hard to believe it wasn’t the main event really.Zayn pulls off an amazing blue thunder bomb and very nearly picks up the win. The near fall counts were creating huge pops with the crowd.

Styles wins and it could not be more deserved. Quite the turnaround of events for him of late, considering jericho buried him at Wrestlemania. Now he’s going on to a championship title match! I sincerely hope he wins!

8/10 for this one. I think Sami Zayn being included in the title picture would have made WWE Payback more exciting.

Great to see Seth Green in attendance at RAW, does this guy ever age?

  • The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho/First ever Ambrose Asylum!

I love this segment, Jericho literally interviews himself and further adds to his ego. This is fantastic, Ambrose interrupts and it looks like we’re in for the development of a new feud between these two after last week’s incident (jericho ignoring ambrose’s entrance).

Ambrose hosts the first ever version of ‘Ambrose Asylum’ replacing Jericho’s highlight reel. This segment delivers a lot of back of forth between the two, culminating in Jericho trying to attack Ambrose. Ambrose then delivers dirty deeds, effectively solidifying a feud between these two. Exciting times!

Short but sweet. 7/10 for this one.

  • Apollo Crews vs Adam Rose

Brilliant to see Apollo Crews back in action. Crews remains undefeated on the main roster. An impressive spinout powerbomb provides him with the victory. Not much to comment on in this match, nothing I haven’t said already. I think they should give Crews a tougher opponent, a real challenge. It would be good to give him a real test of his abilities.

6/10 for this one. Time to push Crews upwards!

  • Bray Wyatt & Roman Reigns vs Sheamus & Alberto Del Rio (League Of Nations)

Wyatt’s in-ring psychology is great, he really gets into the mind of his rivals. It’s great to see him in action after a long break (I believe he had a pressing back injury?).

Reigns looked unstoppable in this match. He dominated everyone at one point. It was good that they didn’t make it an outright squash situation, he looked vulnerable at times too, being laid out with a running enziguri from Alberto Del Rio.

Bray Wyatt really got the crowd going at times, I think the fans were really excited to see him back in again. It was an impressive display from Wyatt.

We end the match with a sister abigail from Wyatt and a spear from reigns. A huge buzz from the crowd, and these men walk away looking awesome. Amazing that they were able to team together tonight.

What a Raw!

Entertainment Score: 8 /10

Grappler’s Choice #6: WWE Raw & Smackdown – 04.04.16 & 07.04.16

smackdown-6 WWE-RAW

© WWE

RAW (After Wrestlemania!) – (04/04/16)

The Raw after Wrestlemania always draws a brilliant crowd (particularly if it’s somewhere like Chicago), this time it’s coming live from Dallas, Texas.

Entertainment

Discussion:

  • Vince & Shane McMahon Segment

Straight away we see Vince Mcmahon receive resounding boos all round, but then they start singing his theme tune (No chance in hell) – this was a delight to see! It was great to see a different dynamic to Vince’s character, with a little bit of compassion from him. He really knows how to sway the crowd between cheering and booing (what a pro!). Shane O Mac comes out to interrupt him and it’s amazing to see him, bruised up and injured, but still walking and getting the full support from the crowd.

We hear a huge (Thank You Shane) from the crowd and it genuinely stirs up some emotion. Shane O Mac launches right into his father saying ”Since I’m the only man in the family….” – ouch!

Shane thanks the crowd and seemingly breaks kayfabe for a minute to sincerely express his gratitude, you can hear him perhaps feeling emotional and wanting to cry, but he holds it together and it’s all very humble.

A (You still got it) chant from the fans in response, it was really awesome. Vince McMahon lays out a challenge to Shane, since he feels like his son was trying to upstage him. This crowd is very switched on and knows exactly what it wants (and perhaps what’s good for business too!) – we get a huge (Let him run it chant) from the crowd now!

Vince lets Shane run raw for the night and it’s a genuinely exciting announcement.

  • The New Day vs The League Of Nations (World Tag Team Championship match)

The crowd is crazy (eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhh it’s time for new day chant) or something along those lines.

It’s incredible how The New Day can get a crowd going with just absolute madness, they were literally singing to a giant cereal prop.

A little bit confusing why the titles weren’t on the line at Wrestlemania to be honest, I said this before, but still. Some booking decisions make no sense to me with WWE. There were several major confusing things about WM32 that simply didn’t make sense in that regard.

If I remember correctly, this is the seventh match between these two stables. Of course there have been a mixture of singles and tag team matches. But every time, both teams were ringside. It’s really starting to get boring, I wish we would see both teams challenge other teams. It would be awesome to see the League Of Nations take on The Dudley Boys or The Usos for example. A four on four match of some description would be particularly special (e.g. an option for survivor series perhaps?)

This match plays out like you would expect it would. High flying action from Kofi, running rings around all the members of the League Of Nations (In particular Sheamus I’ve noticed). Beatdowns from the League Of Nations, largely brawling moves or powerslams.

I’ve commented on these matches so many times now, there really isn’t much else to say. The New Day use ‘Francesca’ well though. It’s played in perfect timing with certain moves. The New Day retain as usual and we see something shocking – finally!

The League Of Nations turn on Wade Barrett, claiming him to be the ”weakest link” in their team. The Wyatt family then assault the League Of Nations out of nowhere. This is fantastic!, they show their dominance and make League Of Nations look weak.

The crowd cheer and chant (Thank you Wyatts), perhaps signaling the discontentment felt from fans toward the League Of Nations. Perhaps it’s time to just get rid of that stable? The Wyatts clearly look like the dominant force in the WWE. I mean, Brock Lesnar still hasn’t gotten revenge for what they did to him at the Royal Rumble, so perhaps this storyline has some major implications coming down the road!

The match itself wasn’t anything special, but the the segment afterward and its potential rammifications were definitely exciting. I’ll give it 6/10.

  • Summer Rae vs Sasha Banks

”I’m Sasha Banks and I’m still the boss” *Slaps Summer Rae* – says it all really!

Sasha is definitely going to become Women’s champion. It should have been at Wrestlemania in all honesty. It seems as though most people in the WWE universe were unhappy that Charlotte became champion.

It’s just a matter of time until Sasha gets her chance. This was an extremely quick match, with Sasha making Summer Rae tap out. She demonstrated her power and brutality in this match. The match was ok, better than the previous match.

7/10 for this one. Very exciting times for Sasha Banks.

  • Tyler Breeze vs Apollo Crews

A very ”current” gimmick from Tyler Breeze. A giant over-the-top mockery of people using social media these days. He plays the gimmick to perfection – I love it! (It’s especially great that he lays across the turnbuckle and ropes before match, the ultimate egotist!)

This is also a very exciting match as it marks the debut of NXT star ‘Apollo Crews’ to the main roster – great booking shane!

Crews is a superstar who defies his size in terms of his athleticism. We see him flying around the ring performing backflips, whilst simultaneously beating down his opponent. You don’t often see superstars of his size (guessing between 225 – 285 if I had to make a guess) performing these types of moves, but he performs them with expert precision.

Crews performs a standing moonsault on Breeze, followed by a spinout powerbomb. Athleticity meets power, picking up the win thereafter. What an exciting prospect he is! Even the commentators agreed with me on that!

7/10 for this one. It was so nice seeing genuine joy in Crew’s face. He loved every bit of that match, and it was equally enjoyable to watch him.

  • Roman Reigns segment

*Sigh* Yep, more boos as usual. It’s not even this guy’s fault, he deserves to be champion. It just shouldn’t have been booked in the way that it has, and he should definitely be booked differently (we want a heel turn!!!). I’m not going to stop talking about it until they change it. It’s ridiculous that they ignore the boos all the time. Their only response seems to be the fact that John Cena gets split reactions. But even John Cena was booked well initially and won the fans over legitimately, the booking for him has perhaps not been favourable for WWE fans in recent years (all debatable and I’m not gonna get involved in that one…) in the sense that he had a good run for the United States Championship and midcarder action in general, before progressing to the main event matches and eventually the WWE championship at Wrestlemania 21. But John Cena was pushed in the right way, and Roman Reigns simply isn’t.

”Awwww come on, I’m not a bad guy, I’m not a good guy, I’m the guy” I have to say, his mic skills are getting better. He’s showing more confidence and it comes across better now I think.

Roman Reigns puts out an open challenge and who has the biggest ego of all time right now who would challenge him? (Chris Jericho of course!). Interesting mix here considering the fans hate both men right now.

This was brilliant to watch, Chris Jericho ripped shreds out of Roman. He demands a title shot and AJ styles interrupts to join in the action and demands a shot, and then Kevin Owens comes out and demands one too. It’s all too much to keep up with, Sami Zayn then comes out looking for a shot. It seems everyone wants to be the champion right now! (It was particularly incredible hearing the WWE crowd sing Zayn’s theme tune, he must have loved that inside, because he definitely didn’t show it aha!)

All men were brawling and it was particularly amusing to see Reigns laughing at all of them. His response was perfect. He ends the segment by spearing Jericho and it was genuinely awesome to watch.

8/10 for this one.

  • Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

Baron Corbin is an exciting prospect from NXT. He won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania and I have to say, it could be a brilliant push for him if WWE get it right. Baron Corbin is fearsome, he has a brilliant presence and is great on the mic. Even his look is fantastic!

This is a good match and these two work well with eachother. The match ends with both men being counted out. Corbin destroys Ziggler and looks very strong. This is very promising!!!, I wish they wouldn’t keep burying Ziggler though, he deserves much more than this.

I’ll give this 7/10.

  • Zack Ryder vs The Miz (Intercontinental Championship Match)

Really, really nice seeing Zack with the championship, A well deserved champion. It appears the fans agree too with a (You deserve it) chant. This develops in a massive (You deserve it/Woo Woo Woo chant). This is a guy who definitely deserves a big push in WWE.

The Miz interrupts the heartfelt speech from Zack Ryder to be a complete jackass. He plays the role so well aha. The trash talking from The Miz earns him another shot at the title. Well done Miz!

Some fantastic high flying moves in this match from Ryder including a hurracarrana from the top rope, as well as a dropkick through the ropes. Ryder performs lots of reversals and impressive counters throughout, demonstrating his prowess and strength as a champion.

The Miz wins the championship because of a distraction from Maryse. It was an awful way for Zack Ryder to lose the championship and it sucked considering it was right after Wrestlemania. I have mixed feelings about this one. If it’s a storyline intention and Ryder will win again, it will be fantastic. However, I have a really bad feeling that The Miz has just been asked to bury Ryder, and this is how it might be left. If this is the case, it would be a real shame.

I’ll give this 7/10.

  • Presentation of the New Women’s championship

I don’t really understand this, I initially stated in my Wrestlemania post that they should save this announcement for Raw anyway. But now they’ve presented it twice. This was labelled as a ”formal” announcement by women’s legend ‘Lita’. I was gutted to see Becky Lynch with a heavily bruised eye. That was a tough match at WM 32.

Charlotte appeared to be breaking her heel character in order to state how much the women’s division means to her, how important all the divas who are currently on the roster are in terms of facilitating that, and generally what it means to her to be the champion. It was a touching moment.

The crowd were cheering over a very heartfelt moment and that did kind of suck to be honest. You could see Charlotte trying to get the crowd to calm down a little in order to thank them, but it wasn’t quite working. Charlotte quickly switched back to heel and gathered a fantastic negative response from the crowd and it developed eventually into an attack from Natalya. This could be an interesting turn of events, Natalya should have been champion back at Roadblock, so maybe we’ll finally see a new women’s champion.

I’ll give this one 6/10.

  • The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz (Tables Match)

Doesn’t get much better than this. Fantastic booking from Shane O Mac, great to see the Dudley Boyz involved in tables matches again! A nice throwback!

The Dudleys gain a little bit of retribution in this one, considering their loss at WM32. It was a fairly good match, but this matchup is getting quite repetitive, I think we need to see the Dudleys and The Usos face other teams, WWE needs to mix things up a bit more in this regard. And just as I write that last sentence, I find myself eating my own words (I tend to write this blog whilst watching the shows, so this is why). Enzo & Cass from NXT make their main roster debut, they received a huge crowd reaction, with Enzo owning the mic and riling up The Dudley Boyz. This looks like the beginning of even more exciting times in the tag team division.

In light of that debut, I’ll give this 7/10.

  •  Fatal Four Way Number 1 Contender Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn)

So immediately we have a huge return from Cesaro (replacing the injured Sami Zayn who was powerbombed through a table by Kevin Owens earlier in the show). What a fantastic return! with a massive pop from the crowd.

We see an amazing show of speed and athletic ability during the showdown between Cesaro & Styles. The crowd loved every minute of it (even chanting ‘this is awesome’ at one point). Cesaro particularly stood out at one moment in the match where we powerbombed all three competitors from the top rope – incredible!

AJ styles performs an equally impressive cannonball off the top rope onto jericho, it’s incredible watching this guy. But Cesaro steals the show by far, running around the ring giving uppercuts to all three competitors and getting an impressive crowd response as a result. Cesaro absolutely deserves to be number one contender, he is completely over with the crowd.

This match was fantastic, plenty of surprising near falls and so many impressive moves throughout. This is what the Raw main event should be like every Monday night! AJ styles becomes number one contender and it’s absolutely incredible. Roman Reigns and AJ Styles will now go ahead (most likely at WWE Payback according to various sources online) – what a fantastic main event to look forward to! I cannot wait.

10/10 for this one. Well done Shane O Mac

Entertainment Score: 7 /10

Professionalism

Discussion:

Every so often JBL will say something unnecessary and over the top. I don’t particularly enjoy his commentary. At one point I overheard him say ”this crowd is rude” during a segment, I really don’t think he should say unprofessional opinions like this over the mic, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there really is a time and a place for everything. As it goes, I actually agreed with JBL in this particular instance, but I feel that my point still stands in this instance.

One thing I think WWE should change is this style of presenting the upcoming events on the show. I think it spoils the surprise a little, and they could create bigger pops for superstars if they could keep some more secrecy around the events.

Unless I imagined it, I’m pretty sure Lilian Garcia announced the intercontinental championship match before The Miz challenged Zack Ryder. I’m guessing that was a either a mistake, or Zack was definitely going to defend his championship against someone (not necessarily The Miz).

I believe I saw a really bad botch (Botchamania time!) from Bubba Ray Dudley where he received a superkick but didn’t fall correctly. He sort of jumped to mat and rolled out of the ring (which the crowd were laughing at in all fairness).

I saw Kevin Owens limping to the ring prior to the beginning of this match. It didn’t look like a kayfabe injury, it looked very serious. During WM32 Owens took a lot of damage and really and truthfully he should get a rest from competition in my opinion. This is apparently standard practice in the WWE (superstars competing with injuries) if CM Punk’s shoots are anything to go by. Very concerning. This needs to change.

Professionalism Score:  5/10

SMACKDOWN – (07/04/16)

Entertainment

Discussion:

  • Roman Reigns vs AJ Styles segment

Roman Reigns comes out and is greeted with the usual boos. He does get some crowd appreciation, but it’s very minimal support and you can barely hear it over the boos. Gotta say though, on Raw he was brilliant, so maybe things are gonna get better for Reigns.

Again we hear the ”I’m the Guy” speech from Roman. This could definitely turn into something he can use, perhaps a regular quote that he could use.

AJ Styles and Roman Reigns have a great chemistry together on the mic, this could develop into an exciting feud. The crowd were going nuts during this segment. Roman Reigns is really impressing me. He’s embracing the hate from fans and is playing up to it slightly. He’s not pushing a heel turn, but this is somewhere in the middle, and in my opinion – it works!

8/10 for this one.

  • Lucha Dragons vs The Vaudevillians

Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!

Gotta love that chant aha.

Another NXT debut to the main roster. The Vaudevillians get a very frosty response from the crowd, but this is their first match on smackdown, gotta build your foundations somewhere!

The Vaudevillians physical appearance is synonymous with their wrestling style. It’s classic and unorthodox. A brilliant show of strength and technical ability from this team. They pick up a win on their debut and it looks like they might need to push heel to get over, the crowd did not take to them at all. It was a good match though. Solid.

6/10 for this one.

  • Summer Rae vs Natalya

Not much to comment on here, a very straightforward win from Natalya. She picks up a win with a sharpshooter, making Summer Rae tap out whilst staring down the women’s champion Charlotte.

6/10 for for this one. Cannot wait for the match between Natalya & Charlotte. Nothing has been made official, but I’ll wager we’re gonna have a match between this two at WWE Payback for the women’s championship. Their match at WWE Roadblock was brilliant, so expect big things if that does happen! I do still think that Sasha Banks still deserves to be in this picture in some way though, but perhaps that will have to wait.

  • Zack Ryder vs The Miz (Intercontinental Championship Rematch)

An exciting match up. I desperately wanted Ryder to win. There was one point in the match where he performed three roll up pins on The Miz and kept getting 2 and a half counts. The way Ryder lost the title and the fact that it came straight after WM 32 really makes you feel for Ryder.

Maryse distracts Ryder and causes the same situation as the previous week, screwing Ryder out of the championship once again.

4/10 for this one. It just repeats the events from Raw. What annoys me the most is that the fans have paid good money to see the same thing again. What a waste!

  • Curtis Axel vs Apollo Crews

Apollo was a breathe of fresh air in this match. If you read this blog you’ll know I loathe the social outcasts. Crews brought an exciting element to this match, even performing that standing moonsault again. He’s definitely a big prospect going forward. I think he should be in eventual contention for the United States championship.

I’ll give this one 5/10. I really dislike that social outcasts gimmick, I’m sorry I just can’t comment anything else on them. They don’t bring anything, they don’t seem to have an agenda (e.g. we’re tough, we’re tag team contenders, we want to bring change). They just seem to be here to annoy people. Perhaps I’m being too harsh here, but I think these superstars could be used in a much better way as they are great competitors in their own individual ways.

  • Dean Ambrose vs Tyler Breeze

Ambrose gets a massive pop from the crowd and it’s well deserved, he’s a brilliant competitor – why isn’t he WWE champion?, he should be….

I think a three way shield rivalry for the championship should go again as soon as Seth Rollins returns from injury. Make it happen WWE. Give Ambrose a chance at the title, it’s his time and he’s over with the crowd! I was not expecting Tyler Breeze as Ambrose’s opponent tonight. I thought the WWE might give him a tougher opponent considering he took on Lesnar at WM32 and nearly won!

This was a quick squash match through and through, with Ambrose delivering ‘Dirty Deeds’ and nailing Tyler Breeze in the process. I think they should have given Ambrose more of a challenge here.

Again I find myself eating my words as I write this. Chris Jericho interrupts Ambrose’s victory and completely ignores Ambrose as he walks to the ring. Could this be the start of a feud? That would be a brilliant rivalry if so!

4/10 for this, I’ve never been a fan of squash matches. But a Jericho/Ambrose rivalry would be brilliant.

  • AJ Styles & Cesaro vs Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

Great booking pitting these guys against eachother in a tag team match after their match on Raw.

One thing I was thinking whilst watching this match is how great it is to see Chris Jericho in regular competition in the WWE again. He’s still very talented. Cesaro sticks out again in this match, he really needs another good push from the WWE, and very soon! Styles had some crazy momentum at times during the match. I literally cannot wait to see how he will work with Reigns, that should make for a really exciting matchup!

AJ Styles pulls off a roll up pin win over Kevin Owens, owing to a distraction from Sami Zayn. These two start feuding like crazy on the outside of the ring, with Zayn being launched into the steel steps. WWE definitely needs to push this rivalry as much as possible. Possible WWE Payback match? – I think so, It makes perfect sense given the nature of their rivalry and the amount of time between now and then (gives them a chance to build it into something big!).

I’ll give this 7/10

Entertainment Score: 6/10

Professionalism

Discussion:

Smackdown needs to be made into a proper show again, not a counterpart/recap show. It used to get big ratings, it can get them again. Come on WWE, turn this around and make Smackdown important again!

Nothing else to comment on otherwise. Commentary seems to be much better on Smackdown compared with Raw.

Professionalism Score:  5/10

Grappler’s Choice #5: WWE Wrestlemania – 03.04.16

wrestlemania-32

© WWE

Entertainment

Discussion:

This is the first time I’ve ever watched Wrestlemania live before, and It was absolutely incredible watching and reviewing these events as they were happening. I was involved in the Twitter action surrounding the event too, there were close to 2 million tweets about Wrestlemania at one point in the night, and everyone was excited, heavily critical and generally just buzzing. I really cannot recommend joining this discussion enough when WWE hosts its PPVs and TV shows, it’s a lot of fun!

Wrestlemania Kickoff Show

  • Kalisto vs Ryback (United States Championship Match)

Goldberg chants from the crowd straight away aha, brilliant!. The painful dialogue I spoke about in previous weeks (i.e. Big guy vs the little guy) was ever-present from Ryback, that was not enjoyable to watch in the slightest – we get it Ryback, you’re bigger than Kalisto…

I must say, this match worked out better than I expected. A great match of power vs athleticism. I get the feeling these two have worked hard together beforehand to create something special for Wrestlemania. Considering how drastically different there styles are, this match was working well. Kalisto displayed a tremendous amount of resiliency, a worthy champion despite the huge challenge presented to him. Ryback declares a ‘Wrestlemania moment’ to the fans and he does not disappoint. A huge suplex off the second rope which Kalisto reversed in spectacular fashion. Some great athletic moves from Kalisto throughout the match, with a particularly impressive corkscrew off the second rope at one point. I couldn’t believe that Kalisto pulled it off, but what a fantastic win, well deserved and it was a great way to start off Wrestlemania.

7/10 for this one. A good solid match to begin the showcase of the immortals.

On a side note, I’ve heard Flo Rida’s ‘My House’ so many times now because of the build up to Wrestlemania. It’s really grown on me! WWE made some great choices in terms of music for Mania this year!

  • Total Divas vs B.A.D & Blonde (10 women tag team match)

Great to see a huge women’s match at Wrestlemania. This division has so many fantastic competitors, and what better way to show that then in this massive tag team match. The Women’s division has some really inventive gimmicks at the moment too, Emma & Paige looked particularly cool in their ring attire.

Hilarious seeing the referee barely being able to keep up with the in-ring action. It’s particularly fast-paced, high-flying action and it’s a mixture of cruiserweight style moves, mixed with some powerful moves as well.

Natalya & Naomi worked very well in this match together. But Emma vs Paige really stuck out for me. Emma is absolutely brutal with her style. There are so many characters here to comment on. One particular standout moment was a aerial crossbody from Paige, taking out 4 competitors on the outside. Naomi has to be one of the best female wrestlers I’ve seen in the ring. She was absolutely incredible. Great at selling and her athleticism is at a very high level. An absolute joy to watch.

Naomi was the absolute standout competitor for me personally here, check out her matches – she’s extremely talented! (no wonder, as I learnt that she’s a member of the Anoaʻi family!)

This match overall was fantastic!

8/10 for this one!

Lita unveils the new ‘Women’s Championship’ immediately afterward and it looks absolutely incredible. Finally the ‘Diva’ name is dropped, and we are one step closer to this division getting the true attention and serious devotion from WWE that it deserves!

Take a look at the championship when you get the chance, it looks fantastic. It’s much more aesthetically pleasing compared with the previous championship. (See the professionalism section for my criticisms of this announcement.)

  • The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz

Dudley Boyz + Wrestlemania = Gold!

An unanimous chant from the crowd straight away ”We want tables” and I agree, it’s not the Dudley Boyz without tables being present!

Uncomfortable dialogue from Bubba Ray Dudley to the Usos ”Just like your father, just like we did to your father”, I sincerely wish Bubba Ray would quit this, it’s utterly painful to listen to. I really hoped we wouldn’t see it at Wrestlemania.

All in all, it was new vs old in  this match. Yet, The Dudley Boys have not weakened with age at all, they’re just as powerful and athletic as they ever were. This was a great match of power and athleticism between both teams. This did look a little like the passing of the torch so to speak. With the Usos looking as synchronised in terms of their tag team abilities, as the Dudleys Boyz have been during their wrestling career.

The Usos deserved the win but it looked like it signaled the end of the heel run for the Dudleys, as we see the return of the tables! The Dudley Boyz lose, they try to put the Usos through tables and finally get their comeuppance, with the Usos showing why they deserve respect from the Dudleys and the WWE Universe.

6/10 for this one, I wasn’t fully happy with the finish, but it was still a good match.

Wrestlemania

  • Ladder Match for The Intercontinental Championship (Dolph Ziggler vs The Miz vs Sami Zayn vs Stardust vs Sin Cara vs Zack Ryder vs Kevin Owens)

Kicking off with Ladders & Dolph Ziggler, it doesn’t get better than that! Everyone making the effort with their match attire for Wrestlemania. I’m glad they began the card with this match, it’s a fantastic way to start Wrestlemania.

A brilliant face off between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, getting a massive cheer from the fans. This is everything you’d expect from a WWE ladder match at Mania. High flying moves at every opportunity, wrestlers getting nailed with ladders and continual battles to the top of the ladder. Brilliant dialogue from Kevin Owens to Sami Zayn at one point ”Who do you think you are?, this is KOMania, go back to NXT”.

Sami Zayn creates a few Wrestlemania moments with a particularly brilliant aerial dive through the ladder and over the top ropes onto his rivals. Every competitor has a legitimate race to the top of the ladder it would seem. It was chaos at times, and that’s exactly what you expect from a Wrestlemania Ladder match. The crowd were absolutely loving it, they were gripped to this one, chanting ”this is awesome” throughout the match.

Dolph Ziggler paying homage to Shawn Michaels with a ‘sweet chin music’ was a great little touch, particularly since he sells it so well. Stardust’s personalised ladder was another fantastic moment in the match. Kevin Owens performed an incredible frog splash from the top rope onto Sami Zayn who was laying on a ladder at the time, it was sold to perfection and it looked like it genuinely hurt both men quite significantly.

Zack Ryder impressed immensely in this match, a worthy contender for the championship. Performing a fantastic elbow drop from the top of the ladder, as well as, taking a crushing slam from Ziggler. Sin Cara being pushed from the top of the ladder and landing onto Stardust – breaking the ladder in half – was an amazing moment.

I was so happy to see Zack Ryder win the championship, what a moment, an absolute underdog in this match finally getting his moment, his chance, on the grandest stage of them all!

WWE really got this match spot on.

10/10 for this one, a perfect match!

  • Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles

Fantastic new ring attire from AJ Styles for Wrestlemania. It’s always great to see a change in attire, it just freshens things up and makes way for new beginnings potentially.

A huge divide of chants in the crowd for both men despite Jericho’s recent heel turn. Jericho sells heel to perfection, even at Wrestlemania he makes it really believable. This was a complete grudge match, as you’d probably expect given their rivalry.

The match is an interesting match of the usual athletic, high flying moves you’d expect to see from these two, but with an interesting mix of technical and power moves added in as well. Some fantastic submission moves from both men, it’s great to see this added into the match. You don’t often see matches won this way anymore, so it’s refreshing to see something from the past performed in a convincing way. This was made even more exciting with countless near-fall pins, it was tough to tell who would pull off the win in this match. It was a deserved win from Jericho, but I really felt that AJ Styles should have picked up the win in this one, he looked like the stronger competitor throughout this match and it would have made more sense in their feud, many fans on Twitter claimed Jericho buried Styles here and I’m afraid I have to agree on that one. Nonetheless, a fantastic match and both men gave a great performance.These two are absolute veterans and this was a great match to watch.

I’ll give this one 7/10.

  • The New Day vs League Of Nations

”ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Wrestlemania”

They entered the ring in a giant box of ‘Booty Os’ dressed as characters from DragonBall Z, these guys are awesome!

This match should have been for the tag team titles or something. It’s a match we’ve seen before in various ways over the past month. Kofi Kingston pulled off some pretty awesome moves during the match , he’s always very entertaining to watch.

I can’t find much to comment on in this match If I’m honest. We’ve seen all these men fight continuously over the past month. Whilst there were some pretty impressive moves, I felt a little underwhelmed in comparison to the matches that preceded this match.

Well, The League Of Nations pick up the win finally (putting us at a 4/2 win/loss ratio between the two teams). I guess this did demonstrate some power from this team since they achieved this at Wrestlemania.

I’ll give this 5/10. The matches before were brilliant, and this simply wasn’t. But just when I thought this couldn’t be salvaged, out comes Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels & Mick Foley to save the day, absolutely destroying The New Day! This was absolutely fantastic, everything about this segment was great. So for the segment afterward I’ll give it 8/10, a classic Wrestlemania moment!

  • Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose (No Holds Barred Street Fight)

I went into this match fearing for Ambrose’s health, it just looked like total annihilation from the get-go. Lesnar takes Ambrose straight to suplex city, demonstrating his power, strength and superiority. That being said, Ambrose was really taking the fight to Lesnar, launching an attack at him with a kendo stick. The crowd split was apparent in this match as well with a (lets go Ambrose!/Suplex City) chant being shouted.

Lesnar was daring Ambrose, taunting him, humiliating him and Ambrose turned the tables nonetheless, attacking Lesnar again with the Kendo stick. It was an interesting shift in the momentum/pace of the match. Suddenly it didn’t seem like Lesnar was going to outright destroy Ambrose in five minutes. The suplex chant kept increasing throughout the match, yet Ambrose just kept going, bringing all manner of foreign objects into the match. It was amazing, at one point Lesnar looked weak and vulnerable in comparison to Ambrose. This was the first time in their feud that this has happened.

There were legitimate near fall pins where Ambrose nearly pulled off a victory over Lesnar. The crowd were lapping us this bout, chanting ‘This is awesome’. Lesnar pulled off the win, not really a surprise but this was a huge fight between these two superstars. Many fans were saying that Lesnar buried Ambrose, but to be honest I couldn’t envision any other scenario. Have people forgotten that Lesnar broke the streak?

8/10 for this one. Good match, would have been great to see Ambrose win, but hey – you can’t have everything!

**Suplex count: 13**

  •  Triple Threat Match For The WWE Women’s Championship (Charlotte vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks)

It was brilliant having Snoop Dogg singing her theme and escorting her to the ring. Sasha Banks already looked like our new champion with her entrance, and then Charlotte equally came out with an impressive entrance. Sasha Banks also paid homage to the late great Eddie Guerrero with her ring attire and a latino heat inspired move off the top rope, a nice touch.

Fantastic to see this so high on the card, a genuinely exciting match that WWE has really pushed, giving it to the attention it deserved.

As usual with the women’s division we see plenty of cruiserweight style moves. It was hard picking a winner going into this match and equally, during the match we’re no clearer as to who will come out on top. The added knowledge that these women were competing for the new women’s championship was definitely a bigger incentive for these competitors in terms of winning.

The crowd was in complete awe of this match, just as they are with the men’s matches. It really was a spectacle to watch, especially when we saw Sasha Banks pull off an incredible frog splash. Sasha did seem to take the spotlight in this match with some impressive high flying maneuvers throughout. Becky Lynch equally displayed an impressive high-flying display. Charlotte gives us a Wrestlemania moment with an incredible moonsault from the top rope onto the outside. All three women are fantastic technical wrestlers, displaying some brilliant submission moves, this was an enthralling match to watch.

On a side note, I was surprised to learn that this match was No-DQ rules. Michael Cole mentioned this in passing and it was something that hadn’t been announced before.

A fantastic match, but I was hoping Becky Lynch or Sasha Banks might pull off the win.

8/10 for this match, incredible match and one of the best women’s matches of all time for sure. One for the history books!

  • Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker (Hell In A Cell Match for control of Monday Night Raw)

This should be the main event really, but I guess the WWE title match has to be because it always has been. The match starts off as expected, a brawl style match with small bursts of energy from Shane O Mac.

An impressive submission maneuver from Shane O Mac puts Undertaker in a genuinely tough situation. We see The Undertaker deliver The Last Ride and a chokeslam onto the steel steps and yet it still isn’t enough to put away Shane. Shane performed a fantastic DDT off the steel steps, showing us the warrior spirit that he’s always had throughout the match. Wrestlemania 32 has seen all manner of submission maneuvers and this match is no exception – Undertaker performs the Hells Gate, Shane O Mac performs the sharpshooter. Each man has to win this match, they both need it desperately. The crowd split for a third time this evening (chanting Lets Go Taker/Shane O Mac!).

Shane O Mac performs the Coast to Coast once again at Wrestlemania, crushing The Undertaker with a garbage can. Undertaker shifts the momentum and launches Shane O Mac through the Cell.

Undertaker drives Shane O Mac through an announce table whilst under a submission move from Shane O Mac. This match is classic Undertaker, classic Hell In A Cell. Shane climes to the top of the 20 foot cell and takes a leap of faith, landing through the announce table as The Undertaker dodges the attack. Vintage Shane O Mac – A wrestlemania moment for sure!

The Undertaker wins as he should, but it’s a bittersweet victory. With our hope for Shane O Mac to gain control of Monday Night Raw in tatters.

10/10 for this match. Another page in Wrestlemania history, an absolute classic. Undertaker is 23-1 at Wrestlemania.

  • Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Surprising to see this so high on the card, I thought it might be a match to start Wrestlemania with. Absolutely incredible to see DDP in the match, what a fantastic surprise! Shaquille O’Neal joins the battle royal as another big surprise. A brilliant stand off between Big Show & Shaquille O’Neal, with both of them eliminating and scaring off the smaller competitors. It was hilarious seeing everyone jumping in and teaming up to eliminate Shaq & Big Show.

A great highlight seeing the social outcasts eliminated by Kane & Corbin. I was very impressed to see Corbin pull off the win, although it would have been nicer to see Mark Henry win in his home state. This does pave the way for NXT superstars though, and it will hopefully give Corbin a push.

7/10 for this one.

  • The Rock & John Cena vs The Wyatt Family Segment

The Rock’s entrance was very cool, reminiscent of Chyna’s Wrestlemania 17 entrance (with the pyro shooter). Great to see the Wyatt Family at Wrestlemania interrupting The Rock’s promo. It would have been even better to see them in a match, but in fairness Bray Wyatt’s mic skills are brilliant and it’s worth giving him time on the mic. Bray Wyatt’s apron was especially sinister and a great little touch to the overall gimmick. The Rock has his usual fun on the mic, teasing the Wyatts and having fun with the crowd.

I was not expecting this I’ll be honest, but here we go. The Rock goes one on one with Erick Rowan, defeating him in 6 seconds by pin fall in a legitimate match. John Cena returns to help The Rock against the Wyatt family. It was good segment, everything you’d expect it to be.

7/10 for this one, it was nice to see The Rock. I’m not personally a Cena fan, but it was nice to see him back too.

  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match (Triple H vs Roman Reigns)

Stephanie generates hype for Triple H very well, it’s a convincing promo. I don’t think they should have included this though. I think they should have just stuck to normal entrances for both men.

It’s a brilliant record, Triple H’s 20th wrestlemania event. I personally don’t feel like there can be a true winner in this match. If Roman Reigns wins, fans will be unhappy (myself included), if Triple H wins, the Authority continues and it gives fans equally annoying headaches with its promos. Both men got a decidedly cold reception whilst entering the ring. Reign’s entrance just didn’t create any kind of buzz with the fans, he hasn’t been booked properly (as i’ve said in previous posts in this blog) and this is just the culmination of all that. Fans don’t get what they want, they just get this disappointing main event.

During the match we hear the usual cheers every time Triple H throws Reigns around, the fans even cheer ‘Roman Sucks’. How much more evidence does WWE need?, 100,000 fans chanting that your future franchise player ‘sucks’ is not good for business.

This is brawl you’d expect to see from these two men. Some fairly interesting momentum here and there throughout the match. The crowd reactions toward Reigns were probably the most exciting part of the match if I’m honest.

There was some strong athleticism from Reigns at times, mostly it was a powerhouse display. Triple H opted to use submission moves in order to take care of Roman. Triple H’s style has changed a lot over the years, it’s not quite as fast-paced as it used to be. Triple H appears to be more technical and methodical with his style now.

Reigns spearing Stephanie McMahon by accident was a pretty brilliant moment. She sold that spear well, and it’s not often you see women taking attacks from men in WWE wrestling anymore.

I can’t give this anything more than 6/10. It was underwhelming and we were given the scenario that no one wanted. Roman Reigns walks out WWE champion….

Entertainment Score: 8/10

Professionalism

Discussion:

A weird awkward moment occurred during the kick-off show where Booker T & Corey Greaves had finished speaking and there was a few moments of dead silence before a cutaway to one of the wrestlemania theme songs. It’s a not big deal, but it was a little unusual.

My only concern with the unveiling of the new women’s championship at Wrestlemania is that it undermines Charlotte’s championship. Whilst Renee young commented on this saying that we shouldn’t discredit the previous championship, but still appreciate and be in awe of this new championship and change in the women’s division, it still unfortunately still undermines Charlotte, her championship and the division slightly. I’m very happy this change has occurred, however I believe it would have been more professional to unveil this on Monday Night Raw instead, handing the winning champion her new title.

WWE always nails Wrestlemania in my opinion. Regardless of how fans might feel about the outcomes of matches, the setup of the event, the amount of fans it draws to these venues and the buzz it creates with its performance is something really special.

Professionalism Score:  10/10

Grappler’s Choice #4: WWE Smackdown – 31.03.16

wwe-smackdown-logo3

© WWE

Entertainment

Discussion: Just like WWE Raw we begin Smackdown with a pop (in AJ Styles)!

Great to hear Jerry The King Lawler on commentary as well. I wish he would appear on Raw too.

The social outcasts begin our show in a bid to build hype for themselves for the upcoming Battle Royal at Wrestlemania. In fairness, this faction does create a strong heel presence, but I seriously don’t understand the appeal here. Especially considering the crowd response that other stables such as The New Day receive. I’ve discussed this before so I won’t repeat myself further.

  • AJ Styles vs Heath Slater

Some fantastic technical wrestling from Heath Slater in this match. Fast-paced action, with Slater looking comfortable and in control. He sells very well. AJ styles turns the match around swiftly, demonstrating his athleticism and just a few of the many moves he has in his arsenal. It’s exciting watching this guy. I cannot wait to see what he will come up with at Wrestlemania, i’m sure it will be……phenomenal!

I’ll give it a 6/10. Not an amazing match, but it was solid and both men performed at a high level.

This Smackdown served mainly as a preview for Wrestlemania, a recap show if you will. Byron Saxton & Renee Young came across very well here. Bryon in particular is becoming more and more likeable for me. Some people compare him with Michael Cole, but I think he’s developing his own style. He’s cheeky, sarcastic and likeable.

  • Jey Uso vs D-Von Dudley

Gotta love D-Von’s ‘StraightouttaDudleyville’ T-shirt, paying homage to the NWA album ‘StraighOuttaCompton’. I understand that Bubba Ray Dudley is a heel, but as I’ve mentioned before, his constant trash talking (continuously whilst spectating in this respect)  is getting increasingly annoying as the weeks go on. A little difficult therefore to follow this match at times.

A short match, a nice preview of what we will see in the upcoming match between the Usos & the Dudley Boyz at Wrestlemania. These teams are gonna work well together. Definitely a match to look out for.

5/10 for this match. I was hoping for a bit more and I’m sure the crowd were too. D-von & Jey were great to watch nonetheless.

  • Dean Ambrose vs Erick Rowan

A nice pop when Dean comes out. The crowds love him lately. I think his fearless, bad-ass attitude is reminiscent of steve austin, whilst his gimmick is very similar to Mick Foley’s ‘Cactus Jack’ character.

I love his gimmick too, he’s believable and isn’t forcing his character. I am slightly worried about his physique though. Considering the type of competitors he is competing with (Lesnar, Rowan etc), it might be worth bulking up slightly more in order to absorb more damage. In recent interviews he has implied that his training regime and a generally high pain threshold has allowed him to avoid injury, but I think this is definitely he should consider. WWE superstars seem to be dropping off like flies in terms of injuries, WWE cannot afford anymore injuries.

Fantastic comment from – Jerry The King Lawler: on Rowan’s face”Look at his face, he could make an onion cry”

This match demonstrates how much punishment this man (Ambrose) can take. The commentators get it spot on here, Ambrose has a strong resiliency, he’s a fighter, a brawler – the perfect opponent for Lesnar. This match was a good match, both men are great competitors and sell well. Lot’s of near falls in this match and it serves to show Ambrose is ready for his match at Mania. A great, hard fought win from Ambrose, with a fantastic pop from the crowd. I would absolutely love to see Ambrose pick up the win at Mania, but I honestly feel that Lesnar is unstoppable, Ambrose has his work cut out for him, he’s gonna have to pull out something pretty damn special to beat the beast.

I’ll give it 7/10. This was a good match, a strong way to end Smackdown.

This episode of Smackdown was disappointing as a whole though. I sincerely hope they revamp it after Wrestlemania.

 

Entertainment Score: 6 /10

Professionalism

Discussion:

I was disappointed with how this show was just used as a preview for Wrestlemania. Whilst it was nice hearing Byron & Renee discuss upcoming events, it became tedious viewing the endless promos for upcoming matches at Wrestlemania. Smackdown just doesn’t seem to have the impact that it used to. It seems to be used as a filler show, something to pass the time until the next RAW, or in this case – Wrestlemania. You’d think that the final show (excluding NXT takeover as its part of Wrestlemania weekend) would be more entertaining and leave us on some sort of a cliffhanger before Mania. Whilst the way that this was produced was professional, its inclusion in my opinion was not.

Professionalism Score: 7 /10