What is your stance on the CM Punk Chants?

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CM Punk Champion

It is no secret that chants for former WWE champion CM Punk have been shouted loud and clear in 2017, with the name recently been blared during certain segments on Monday Night Raw.

Much discussion and debate has risen as a result and whilst some are against the chanting see for example, What Culture’s video on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHTfiXrUaRc others sit on the opposing side of the fence and are unfased by the noise of the fans in attendance.

What I was wondering though is how do people at home feel about it in general? Do you like or hate the CM Punk stuff? Or do is not bother you either way? I thought it best to present the case for and against, and try to allow everyone to discuss their standpoint accordingly.

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Prologue

99% of wrestling followers know exactly who the man in question is, but just in case you’ve been living under a wrestling rock the past 10 years, or you’ve not been into WWE for too long, let me quickly run down a brief overview of CM Punk.

Punk was a massive indie star before arriving in WWE and as a result, he almost always had the backing of the fans as he broke onto the biggest scene before exploding into the biggest star in the business after his infamous pipebomb promo.

After that he was on top of the world and held the WWE Championship for a massive 434 days, but after missing out on his dream of being in the main event of Wrestlemania to the Twice in a Lifetime matches between The Rock and John Cena, he left the company the day after the 2014 Royal Rumble. He was banged up and worn out but even in leaving his action paved the way for Daniel Bryan to take centre stage at Wrestlemania XXX, one of the finest moments in WWE history.

Because of his amazing promos, his fantastic matches (my personal favourites being against Jeff Hardy, Brock Lesnar and many times against John Cena) and his stratospheric popularity people want to remember him in WWE. A lot of people would also consider him their favourite wrestler, and rightly so, he was/is one of the best in the world.

Chants have really picked up in volume recently however as a fake AJ Lee was bought out on a dark segment at Raw, as part of the film WWE and The Rock are making based on Paige. During this thunderous rendition, Rocky called Punk and left him a voicemail, Punk duly responded with a grateful tweet: https://twitter.com/cmpunk/status/833905165145145344?lang=en

Since then they have continued; very notably so in segments involving the Raw women, Stephanie McMahon, Seth Rollins and HHH, which leads up to this discussion, what do you think about people chanting CM Punk? And why perhaps, do people continue to chant his name?

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For

Everything mentioned in the above introduction shows exactly why people want to chant for their hero, and since they’ve paid their hard-earned money for ticket to the show, why the fuck not? So long as no offence is being dished out and no harm is being done to anyone, then the fans are free to enjoy shouting about their favourite wrestler, whether they’re still with the company or not.

If you’ve ever been to a wrestling show of any kind you’ll also know that shouting together as a huge audience is really, really fun. This might not always project through the television screen but by and large people are having a laugh and getting involved with the show, rather than trying to kybosh it as some may feel.

Crowds also often chant CM Punk in the direction of heel authority figures, namely Stephanie, Hunter and even a while ago, Vince. Seemingly the Punk chant represents a sort of ‘fuck you’ to the authority, which is exactly what the man stood for both in the sense of kayfabe and reality; personally I find that all quite amusing and enjoyable, especially when it elicits a response such as Stephanie’s recent classic, ‘if you could keep that up for 2 minutes and 15 seconds, you’d last one second longer than Punk did.’

Oh and finally in this section, do you actually need me to explain why Chicago will forever chant for Punk after gifting them the best wrestling moment the city has ever seen? Nope, didn’t think so, cheers.

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Against
Here’s where things could get a little spicy… There are seemingly 3 primary reasons why people dislike the CM Punk chanting. Irrelevance, trying to make the show about the crowd rather than what is going on in-ring and, most pertinently, throwing off segments.

Firstly, the point of irrelevance. CM Punk, fantastic as he was, hasn’t been seen in WWE since the Royal Rumble in 2014 and with his name being all but blacklisted by the company, he doesn’t currently have any place on Raw and Smackdown. Hence then why people do not see the point in the fans in attendance shouting the former champion’s name throughout arenas; it’s seen in a similar vein to the ‘what’ or former ‘ECW’ chants as it is just unnecessary.

Show goers trying to make their presence felt at home and almost attempting to make themselves appear more important than the wrestlers is something that has raged on for a while, especially in NXT since Owens labelled them ‘the John Cena of wrestling fans.’ Some of the Punk chants have the same effect and whilst, as mentioned, it is fun to get a reaction, it can go too far and feel like the crowd just want to take over the show instead; making it very tiresome for many.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, throwing off and even ruining segments is something that really has got under the skin of fans when the CM Punk chants begin. Rollins’ segment a few weeks back really suffered as while he was giving an emotional speech the crowd seemed to ignore him and chanted for Punk instead. It took the shine off what was a crucial moment in the lead up to Mania and that really isn’t cool.

Conclusion

So I pose the question to you all again, what is your stance on the CM Punk chants? Do you mind them? Do you hate them?

Personally, I’m of the volition that it is all fine if the timing is right. During Steph’s promos it pretty fun because she bites back, but when Bayley is speaking or when someone like Rollins is stating something really important, Punk chants are something we could really do without. There really is a time and place for everything, even Punk chants.

Dropping the Ball: When will Triple H explain his recent actions?

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Kevin Owens has been WWE Universal Champion for approximately month and a half now and his feud with Seth Rollins looks set to culminate at the upcoming PPV event, Hell in a Cell. The cell match should be used to finalise the storyline but we are yet to discover exactly how Owens became champion. Why did Triple H choose him? Why did he turn on his golden boy?

The week after Owens’ victory on Raw there was a great atmosphere of excitement as fans tuned in to hear Triple H congratulate Owens, raise his new protégé’s hand and explain his interference in the previous main event. Instead we got an Owens title celebration and a confrontation between Rollins and Stephanie as the story of Seth being unable trust the wife of the main who screwed him out of the championship. It was sloppy, and way too much focus was put on Rollins’ relationship with Steph, Hunter and even Foley.

Immediately this made Owens take a backseat instead of driving the vehicle of momentum forward as the lack of Triple H appearance or any sort of reasoning for him gift-wrapping a win for KO left fans confused and frustrated that everything was still and mystery. Plus, we had no top babyface to rally behind as, given that Stephanie and Foley were positioned as faces, Seth’s intentions still remained murky too, a factor that really hurt their otherwise brilliant Clash of Champions face-off.

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Such fan frustrations reign true to this day. Whilst Rollins has transitioned into a more overtly good-guy he is still walking the line between heel and face, and we are yet to find out what the hell is going on behind the scenes with Triple H. Surely we are going to end up with a mega-face Rollins versus Triple H match somewhere in the next year but we don’t have any clue of when that might be. Will Hunter appear at Hell in a Cell, or Survivor Series maybe? Or will the trigger be pulled as far away as 2017 instead?

Viewers are left longing in the dark and the steam around storyline has been lost; sure, a HHH v Rollins feud and match will be awesome but why leave the fans confused and deflated, and why not give some extra momentum to Owens via a Triple H promo? Striking whilst the iron was hot would have surely added fire into the Raw main event picture, rather than slowly burning through another Authority angle. How many more can they churn out?!

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Luckily the champion has managed to remain on track thanks to his partnership with the always-excellent Chris Jericho – Owens has been able to avoid taking pins in his tag matches with Y2J and has been involved is the most entertaining segments of Raw because everything Jericho touches turns to gold. JericKO’s promo with the New Day had me balling. Now we just need that sweet sweet Triple H endorsement to round off this chapter so that Owens can begin to branch out alone and likely have a world title clash with Chris after abandoning their already fragile friendship.

Given the direction that both wrestlers are moving in, Rollins will likely lose inside the cell due to some sort of tomfoolery which could likely involve Hunter and the tale will probably continue until Wrestlemania as having Seth v HHH overshadowed by Brock v Goldberg at Survivor Series would be an odd decision. This is a main event match-up on every card apart from perhaps Wrestlemania and Summerslam so it shouldn’t be wasted half way down a PPV card.

I want to make it clear; I’m all for Triple H choosing Owens to be the top guy and I’m all for a match between him and Seth, but things need to start picking up some pace, otherwise fans will be left tired of the constant cliff-hanger and struggle to get behind the feud because nothing has been answered. They’re testing the fans’ patience with this one but I really hope they address the elephant in the room before the crowd gives up on the angle.

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Bold Predictions for the next 12 months in Pro-Wrestling

A hell of a lot can change in 12 months. This time last year AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were both still main eventers in New Japan, Seth Rollins hadn’t got injured yet and the Cruiserweight Classic was something that wrestling fans could only dream of. Now, a year on from October 2015, all of the above has changed; Nakamura and Styles are NXT and World Heavyweight Champions in WWE, Seth has returned from a lengthy spell on the side-lines and Cruiserweights now have their own personal spot on Monday nights. Crazy.

With that in mind, I’m going to make some bold predictions as to what I think will happen in the wrestling world within the next annum…

Big E wins the WWE Universal Championship

Kicking things off with a literal big one, I truly feel that Big E will rise to the top of the WWE ladder in the next 12 months and will get his hands on the top Raw title at some point. After all, he has all of the makings of a champion; huge stature and strength with an interesting move set and is a thoroughly entertaining presence on the mic thanks to his work with New Day.

He has also firmly established himself in the midcard having held the IC and tag belts during his tenure, so once the New Day ship sails, Big E will be firmly established as a legitimate and threatening superstar, ready to voyage boldly into the main event ocean. Almost like the opposite of roman Reigns whereby the fans will get behind him because they have seen him work insanely hard further down the card before his top-level push begins.

So long as he keeps his character interesting as it is now he will surely be a babyface that we can all get behind, something that the company is seriously missing at the minute. There’s no Kazuchika Okada or Daniel Bryan for us all to support and that factor, ultimately, is hurting the show. (See: Clash of Champions main event.) Maybe Big E can fill this hole in the coming year? I believe he may be the answer to Raw’s current woes. Plus, when Roman Reigns was selected as ‘the guy’ apparently Big E was in the frame to be pushed too, but Roman obviously became the chosen one of the pair, so management are hopefully very high on him.

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Jay Lethal and Adam Cole sign with WWE/NXT

It is surely only a matter of time before the current and previously ROH Heavyweight champions follow in the footsteps of Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens and more and make the transition from Ring of Honor and New Japan towards the biggest wrestling company on the planet.

Having done everything there is to do in ROH, they’ve both (especially Adam Cole) been on the radar of Regal and Hunter for some time and with NXT losing a lot of key men to the main roster, and the annual post-Mania jump bound to occur again, it would add much-needed weight and interest to the yellow brand. So not only would this be a great benefit to their individual careers, it would be of huge benefit to the NXT roster too as it would add some much-needed star power to get viewers back on the hype train.

I also feel that, whilst 1 year feels too soon, in 2 years’ time, Michael Elgin will also join WWE. Right now he is killing it in Japan, having held the Intercontinental belt and performing in classic matches against Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito. Though I love him in New Japan I really cannot contain myself at the thought of Elgin coming face to face with Nakamura, Samoa Joe and maybe even Brock bloody Lesnar.

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Undertaker retires in the Wrestlemania main event versus John Cena

Rumours of a John Cena versus Undertaker match fly about every year come Mania time and this year’s only different will be that the highly-anticipated collision may actually take place. I imagine Taker, much like Flair and Michaels did before him, will want to bow out on the grandest stage against the opponent who could give him the best and biggest match possible, and Cena is undoubtedly the man to tango with for that.

And despite there not being a title involved in the face-off I would fully expect this match to be the main event of Mania 33. After all, we have 2 world titles now so which would deserve the top spot and also, in terms of draw power, this is the biggest showing they could top the card with. Both are world renowned megastars and Undertaker deserves the spot after years of incredible work and countless colossal matches.

It’s a shame that the streak is no longer intact for matches like this as someone retiring the Undertaker via cheating, especially Cena, would draw Hulk Hogan Bash at the Beach levels of heat from the fans. Cena beating Taker in the dead man’s final in-ring appearance may not do much for John in terms of a veteran rub and that could maybe be better used for Owens or Ambrose for example, but it certainly would be a spectacle, and that is exactly what Wrestlemania has always, and will always, be about.

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Katsuyori Shibata wins the G1 Climax 27

It has become a running joke for New Japan fans that, despite his sheer brilliance, Katsuyori Shibata will never rise to the top of the company and has little chance of winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, let alone standing tall at the finale of the greatest competition in the sport and going on to headline Wrestle Kingdom 12 at the Tokyo Dome. That joke will surely become reality someday though, and why not make it next year?

Yes, he left the company in a time of need, and yes, the trust barrier is still tarnished from such an event, but when someone is as good as Shibata, how long can you keep them out of the spotlight for? He’s been a key figure in the NEVER Openweight picture for the entire year and had a good showing in the G1 too; so he’s been slowly building his reputation back up and has already won over the crowd as a result.

If this year was Omega’s then next year could easily be Shibata’s as NJPW continue to push out top talent on their conveyor belt of stars. A main event match against either Okada or Tanahashi could easily cement Shibata as another giant babyface in the company and will give them even more pulling power moving forward. Overall, whilst this prediction is rather speculative, it would be bloody phenomenal if it occurred.

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So there you have it, my bold(ish) predictions for the next year of professional wrestling. What do you think will happen in the coming 12 months? Let me know in the comments or via Twitter @wrestlewreview

CWC Community Survey Results

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The inaugural Cruiserweight Classic tournament concluded last a week ago and most fans have stated that it was a massive success overall and did a wonderful job in displaying the very best wrestlers under-205 lbs walking the planet today. After picking up impressive victories throughout the tournament it was T. J. Perkins of The Philippines who stood tall over fellow finalist Gran Metalik and was crowned the first Cruiserweight champion of this new and exciting era of pro-wrestling.

Personally I couldn’t get enough of the showcase and after tuning in every week I was always left wanting more – it reminded me of the G1 Climax in this sense as, whilst the format, competitors and style are completely different, it gave me that same wrestling craving.

The presentation, the commentary, the wrestling itself, the lesser heel/face dynamic, the whole thing just worked perfectly and regardless of what direction the Cruiserweight division moves on Raw this tournament will be looked on with fond memories by myself and many, many others.

Interested to hear what others thought of the contest I issued a survey to the wrestling community and after 1436 responses, the results were as follows. I will be showcasing the top 5 results from each of the large categories but at the bottom of this page there will be a link to the results in a spreadsheet for your viewing please.

#1 – Who was your Favourite Wrestler in the CWC?

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The golden star of this tournament, Kota Ibushi takes the crown as the most-loved wrestler to appear in the CWC; from night one in his match against Sean Maluta to the final night when he succumbed to T.J. Perkins he constantly thrilled the crowd at Full Sail and at home. Experience from big matches in Japan clearly helped as his vast arsenal of moves won the hearts and minds of the western viewers too. He killed it.

Second place was fellow Japanese pro, Akira Tozawa, third was the gentleman Jack Gallagher, fourth, technical master Zack Sabre Jr. and fifth, the champion, T.J. Perkins. All these guys offered something entirely different to one another and epitomised what was so wonderful about the CWC; many style and cultures of wrestling combining to create something unique, interesting and mind-blowing.

Personally picking, I was torn between Tozawa, who won me over as he progressed through the tournament, and Brian Kendrick. Kendrick stunned me with his work and I wanted him to win the trophy so so badly as his performances got me so emotionally invested in him, but hey, at least he is on Raw and getting a second shot at the biggest company in wrestling.

#2 – What was your Favourite Match in the CWC?

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Seemingly the tournament match quality peaked in round 2 as Ibushi met Cedric Alexander in a 15 slobber-knocker. Both pulled out a whole heap of creative offence and showed why they were two much talked about names before the tournament kicked off. The only disappointment with this one can be that it wasn’t later in the bracket as this clash and Cedric himself both deserved to appear in the latter stages.

The Japanese sensation also featured in highly acclaimed matches against Perkins and Kendrick which were voted in second and fourth respectively. Third went to the best contest of the first round as the DIY tag partners, Gargano and Ciampa, beat the living crap about of one another, and fifth was the amusing and extremely fun battle between Gallagher and Tozawa as the twosome showed how well alternate styles can mesh in the ring. My favourite, Metalik v Tozawa from the quarter-finals, landed in seventh place, just behind the final between T.J. and the aforementioned luchador.

#3 – Who was the Biggest Disappointment in the CWC?

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Now this one is set to cause some controversy, and before I get into the results I would like to say that I left this question open to interpretation but the community have spoken and they have voted that T.J Perkins was the biggest disappointment in the CWC. It could be because fans did not feel he was the rightful winner of the tournament, that people hate dabbing or maybe even that his style wasn’t enjoyable to some, I certainly do not know, as personally, I thought everything surrounding T.J was wonderful.

Ho Ho Lun being so high on this list is unsurprising as he looked very green, especially in his opener against Ariya Daivari; he looked much better against Noam Dar in the second round so hopefully it will be onwards and upwards for him. British wonderboy Zack Sabre Jr. was certainly the most polarising wrestler in this tournament as after being voted 4th favourite he has also been placed at 3rd most disappointing. This is likely down to his unconventional wrestling style, which personally, I love.

4th and 5th were Noam Dar and Rich Swann. Both of these guys have been signed to the division on Raw and will hopefully excel there as both are extremely talented young men who are surely set to expand their skillsets and learn a lot as a part of wrestling’s premier weekly show.

#4 – Who did you predict to win the CWC?

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Massive pre-CWC favourite Kota Ibushi again tops the polls, as the biggest name in the tournament it is unsurprising that he was voted to the top here. Had he signed with WWE he almost certainly would have taken home the gold but he states that he still has more to experience in Japan instead. The choice to not sign with WWE may have also been the reason Zach Sabre Jr. did not win too – having won PWG’s BOLA and being arguably the biggest name in British wrestling he was hyped up as a potential winner.

Finalists Metalik and Perkins were also voted into the top 5 as many people made good calls that these two fine fighters would make it very far. Hotly tipped Jonny Gargano didn’t make it nearly as far as people had predicted but he did have two stellar matches in the bracket and we will thankfully be seeing him a lot more on the network in NXT.

#5 – Who do you think should have won the CWC?

And a final victory on the votes for former New Japan star Kota Ibushi; even though he hasn’t put pen to paper and remains a free agent, a large number of fans still believe he was the right man to win the trophy and the belt as he would have added a ton of prestige to both as the debut victor. Actual winner T.J. followed just behind him and was certainly a rightful winner in my eyes – he has worked his entire life to get to the summit and can be an excellent face at the forefront of the Cruiserweight division.

Metalik, Tozawa and Sabre Jr. would have all been worthy winners too. All 3 had some great matches that will be re-watched time and time again, and whilst it isn’t too late for the first 2 to win the Cruiserweight Championship in WWE, for now, Sabre doesn’t look like he will ever get his hands on that prize.

#6 – Out of 10, how highly would you rate the CWC overall?

Only 10.2% of people who took this survey gave the tournament a core of 6 or less which is a fantastic statistic to showcase how much many people enjoyed the Cruiserweight Classic. I hope that WWE takes the superior presentation, wrestling and timing into account when producing their other shows because as an overall package so many people enjoyed the hell out of the weekly production as over half of voters rated the tournament either a 9 or 10!

These percentages then lead well into our final question…

#7 – Should there be another CWC next year?

Just under 60% said yes, meaning just over 40% said no. I for one, am very surprised by this and expected a much higher amount of people to want another CWC next year. However, people probably don’t want this concept to be worn out, as seeing a new set of 32 stars in 12 months may not be possible and instead, the rumoured women’s invitational, or an extended tag team tournament may be more favourable to keep the format fresh.

So thank you to WWE for putting on one of the finest wrestling contests we have seen, here’s to more Crusierweights on Raw and any future tournaments of this kind.

Thank you for reading, further responses to this survey can be found here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1ZNwI8a4qowU9PAFwt421yadPv706O4KcLNYL4Oz-4sI/edit#responses

 

WWE Backlash 2016 Review

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Smackdown broadcast their first solo PPV since the most recent brand split this Sunday and they truly laid down a solid marker for Raw to attempt to top with their first swing, Clash of Champions.

With only 6 main card matches advertised and just over 2 hours and 30 minutes to fill the show was a big success in terms of fan reception as very segment got an appropriate amount of time and the wrestling was constantly captivating as a result.

Here then, is a rundown of the matches from Backlash that have us pumped for No Mercy next month:

#1 – Becky Lynch def. Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Naomi, Natalya and Nikki Bella

We began with the crowning of the first Smackdown Women’s Champion in a match that most thought was either going to be really fun or a huge clusterfuck.

In the end it was both; a really fun clusterfuck. There were a couple of botches here and there but the action came thick and fast with each wrestler coming off as a star – establishing each of the 6 as a legitimate threat in the division.

Following a flurry of T-bone suplexes and her patented disarmer submission Becky Lynch eliminated her final foe Carmella to be the last woman standing; claiming her rightful and deserved place atop the Smackdown ladies’ tree.

Hopefully this is the start of something sensational for Lynch, she is a wonderful performer and can set the bar extremely high for whomever takes the strap from her. Overall this was a great opener, popped the crowd early on and set the tone for the evening.

#2 – The Usos def. The Hype Bros

Our second contest of the evening could have easily been any standard, weekly-TV tag but it was definitely better than that. Mojo in particular showed himself off as a menace to the Usos as he had the better of both brothers and avoided taking the pin/submission for his team.

Usos sneaked the victory with a really marvellous finish. A chop block to Ryder’s knee backed up with a brutal half crab/grapevined arm combo; advancing the Samoans to the final later in the evening in impressive fashion.

Heel Usos are very cool in my opinion – they have a great deal of swagger, a solid look and true brutality in the ring. Now they just need to change their shitty face titantron and the twosome will be right at home in their new persona.

#3 – The Miz def. Dolph Ziggler

Who could have possibly predicted that The Miz versus Dolph Ziggler would be a bloody brilliant PPV match?! These 2 went all out, balls to the fucking wall and showed why they deserve the respect and adulation of the fans. With all the talk about ‘indie darlings’ and ‘hottest free agents’ it was refreshing to see two WWE-birthed stars perform to such a high level.

This was a fast-paced bout filled with smooth mat-wrestling, nearfalls in the form of a Ziggler Superkick and nearly submission with Miz’s long-locked figure 4. There even seemed to be a nod to CM Punk’s UFC fight in the beginning from the pair; the match was a real blast to witness.

After 18 minutes (!) of constant battling, Maryse would intervene to screw Ziggler by spraying him in the eyes with an unknown substance – much like The Elite with their hair spray – before a Skull Crushing Finale blasted Dolph to the mat for the 1, 2, 3.

Miz retaining his championship was certainly the right choice. He’s so so easy to hate and whoever finally takes the belt from him is going to get a really exciting pop and a highly beneficial rub. Personally, I hope he goes full Honky Tonk Man and holds the belt for over a year, or at least until Mania 33 before an uber-face a la Sami Zayn or Cesaro puts Miz’s IC title world tour on a permanent stop.

#4 – Randy Orton Kane def. Bray Wyatt

WWE management had hoped that the Viper would be cleared in time to compete at Backlash, but alas, he couldn’t make it. As a result they shot an injury angle and Bray was counted as the victor by forfeit before the Big Red Machine stepped up for a No Holds Barred match.

For their 1st Smackdown-only show this looked real bad for the blue brand, and the fans sounded disgruntled as they knew they were getting bullshitted. But lo-and-behold, Kane and Bray had a very entertaining collision, one far better than many would have hoped.

Despite the entire match being set up for Bray to lose via an RKO, the pair did a wonderful job of keeping the viewers invested with forceful chair shots, a fantastic senton through the announcers table and Bray mocking Orton with the legend killer pose.

People seemed pissed off that Wyatt lost again on PPV but the loss was dirty as they come as Randy slithered in with the RKO and Kane followed up with a chokeslam. This feud is only just heating up so hopefully we see them clash at No Mercy, and if Bray wins, this defeat will be instantly forgotten.

#5 – Heath Slater and Rhyno def. The Usos

He’s only gone and done it, hasn’t he! Heath Slater was victorious at Backlash, securing himself a contract on Tuesday nights. And not only that, he is, alongside the veteran Rhyno, a Smackdown tag team champion. Truly amazing scenes.

After getting battered for 90% of the contest, Heath came back and ran wild before a eating a superkick as the Usos looked set to take the win. But Rhyno, the wily old fox, hit a sneaky gore before Heath, bereft of energy, pinned Jimmy to become the inaugural champions.

Slater and Rhyno winning was the perfect decision in my eyes; the Usos can feud with American Alpha until the latter are already to carry the belts forward whilst the champs can go through a few challengers in the meantime, personally I want they to battle FaBreeze next. Long live the Heath hype train though – he feels like this year’s Mizdow, the fans love his character and how much he commits each and every week, it’s a joyous story to get wrapped up in.

Styles became WWE World Champion in controversial circumstances

#6 – AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose

If you’d have told me a year ago that then Bullet Club leader, TNA hero, AJ Styles would be the WWE World Heavyweight Champion I would have called you a fucking lunatic. But here we are, let it be known, that on September 11th 2016 at Backlash, the phenomenal one rose to the very top of the international wrestling scene.

AJ and Ambrose put on a wonderful main event as Styles continues to rack up his number of world-class matches, whilst Ambrose looked like he returned to the in-ring level he was at a couple of years ago when feuding with Seth Rollins. The twosome had clicked on the mic beforehand and blended beautifully in the squared circle too.

Styles was again presented as the better pure wrestler in the world, displaying more pace on the mat and countering Ambrose with speedy forearms and smooth transitions in the calf crusher. Dean on the other hand showed he was prepared to risk everything in order to keep him title; including him sprinting across the announcers’ desks to drop a giant elbow over the barricade onto Styles.

The finale of the show came about as Ambrose went for the dirty deeds but styles countered, inadvertently knocking down the ref, Styles quickly noticed and smashed in a dick kick plus Styles clash combo to become the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. WOW.

There’s little more to say about this victory other than to reiterate how amazing and unbelievable it is that AJ bloody Styles is the top guy in WWE right now, it is a historical moment and one that I will likely never forget. The man is riding a tidal wave of success at the minute and I cannot wait for No Mercy as he looks to retain his belt against both Ambrose and Cena.

NXT as a Developmental Brand – When will there be another Home-Grown NXT Champion? Who will the Next Home-Grown NXT Champion be?

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Big E Bo Dallas

Rising from the ashes of the terrible half-reality, challenge-based wrestling show hosted by Matt Striker, NXT was transformed into an entirely new beast. Headed by Triple H and featuring a mix of brand-new stars either from the indie circuit such as Seth Rollins or home-grown beauties a la Bray Wyatt, NXT has grown into a magnificent wrestling showcase and is a hotbed of top talent from the indies, ROH and Japan.

Given all of this illustrious talent flying through the doors at Orlando’s performance centre it is understandable that the last 6 champions (Nakamura, Joe, Balor, Owens, Zayn, Neville) have all been graduates of the independent circuit and have not been birthed from the WWE itself. In fact, of the 9 men who have held the top male title in NXT only 2 of them had their pro-wrestling debuts in WWE; Bo Dallas and Big E.

Each had a solid run with the NXT Championship and become highly entertaining characters as a result, with Bo transforming into a delusional cowardly heel and Big E showing pure dominance as he downed his foes for a 5-count, because 3 just wasn’t enough. The successes experienced by these 2 men in NXT whilst they held the top strap clearly shows that it can be used as a tool for improvement.

So given that this is a developmental territory and that up-and-comers may improve a great deal by holding a top championship belt, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask, when will the next home-grown champion be crowned? And who will be the next home-grown NXT champion?

Looking at the most recent batch of NXT graduates those indigenous performers most likely to have a shot at winning the big one down in Florida were Baron Corbin, Big Cass and arguably Jason Jordan. Whilst going even further back you have Tyler Breeze, who was a main event mainstay on the yellow shaded brand.

All of the above wrestlers all moved up to the Raw or Smackdown before they could get their hands on the NXT championship but rather than making way for home-brewed stars, instead it is more ‘hot free agents’ who have followed in their footsteps.

The best way to see this would be to look at the most recent NXT Takeover card as No Way Jose and The Revival were the only 2 acts to appear whom weren’t huge stars before appearing in WWE. Compare this to the first Brooklyn show last year which featured: Tyler Breeze, The Vaudevillians, Blake and Murphy, Tye Dillinger and Baron Corbin and you can see that the number of performers who weren’t indie stars has halved.

So I guess this answers our first question; unless No Way Jose is to dethrone the mighty King of Strong Style then it doesn’t look like a domestic wrestler will hold the NXT Championship any time soon. Plus, given that the newest batch of stars include the likes of Bobby Roode, Austin Aries and Andrade Almas, no other non-indie star even features in the chasing pack, meaning our next home-grown head-honcho in NXT will likely only surface in 2017 or beyond.

This 2017 date pretty much answers the second question too but the answer is similarly distant. Given the aforementioned depth of the world-renowned pros currently residing in NXT and the fact that even more independent signings are just around the corner (Tommy End and Big Damo from the UK circuit may be there soon) it is quite clear that the next top champion in NXT is not currently featuring on television and may not have even debuted at any of the performance centre shows yet.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love the Takeover PPVs and I truly enjoy seeing all of the stars who have worked their asses off for years finally getting a shot at the big time in WWE. I just worry for those who are learning their trade at Full-Sail who may never get a chance to experience how to hold yourself as a champion before they arrive on Smackdown or Raw. It’s an important aspect of being a pro-wrestler and can add so much hype to a main roster debut as the crowd treat a former champion like a huge deal, and rightly so.

So there you have it I guess. Unfortunately the answer to both of the questions are inconclusive as realistically we are so far away from seeing another home-grown NXT Champion; hopefully one arises before too long, but until then, I would love to know what you think of the matter, who the next champion will be and when they will appear?

Should Roman Reigns win the US Championship at Summerslam?

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This Monday Mick Foley confirmed that Roman Reigns would have the opportunity to dethrone US champion Rusev in 11 days’ time at Summerslam. Their match takes place amongst a stacked card and should be one of many high-quality bouts to take place at the 2nd biggest WWE show of the year. Who will walk out the winner however remains unclear. Should Roman take the title from the Bulgarian Brute? Or will the mighty Rusev keep rolling with his great year?

Rusev has been a very strong midcard champion throughout both of his title runs and has truly, along with the work Cena did last annum, made the US belt a legitimate and valued trophy once again. He parades his belt perfectly, even claiming that Raw doesn’t need another championship because they have his, and the title never takes a backseat, even in crazy segments like we saw on Monday involving his marriage to Lana.

Roman on the other hand completely bypassed the midcard area on his meteoric rise through WWE and immediately was placed atop the card. Winning the Rumble, the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and main eventing Wrestlemania twice in super-quick time certainly didn’t give him the backing of the fans. But now he has dipped into the second band of stars where many have argued he should be been initally.

Reigns floored Rusev with a spear on the August 8 edition of Raw

Casting my mind back to Wrestlemania 31 where Reigns battled Lesnar, people across the WWE community suggested that Roman should have been lower down the bill and in the place of John Cena as he beat Rusev for the belt in question. This would have likely gathered support around Reigns as he would have knocked off a hugely-hated heel and not frustrated the fans by being in a spot many felt that he didn’t deserve, especially in comparison to Daniel Bryan who was obviously red hot at the time.

So what should happen when he actually gets a shot at the US Championship? Well it largely depends on what future plans are for Roman and Rusev. Should Roman win, he will probably stay bubbling under the main event picture, a place where he can grow in the eyes of the crowd and possibly be the face character that WWE want him to be before eventually returning to the top of the card, which I personally believe would be a godsend for him as he has been very entertaining and a lot more loose and comfortable on the mic over the past couple of weeks.

Rusev dropping the title could go either way for the Bulgarian though. If he drops the title at the August event then it might be time for him to move up the card and have a well-earned shot at the Universal Championship for a PPV or two. But equally he could lose relevance as he did when he previously lost his precious belt, something I really do not want to see as Rusev is a quality in-ring star and his segments are always entertaining in one way or another.

So if they push Rusev up and keep him as a star on the Raw brand and give Roman a chance to hold another belt and garner support by producing solid matches with the likes of Cesaro, Zayn and Owens I would 100% be up for a title change as both men could move in a positive direction as a result. This match has a lot of intrigue surrounding it then as the pair have a lot to perhaps gain from the match, but I feel Rusev has a lot more to lose.

rusev reigns lana cake wwe raw

In reality I expect a Rusev win in a fuck-finish, maybe with Lana getting involved after the cake incident on Monday evening. After this I would expect Roman to get a rematch on Raw before quickly dashing back to face the Universal Champion who I likely believe will be Rollins; whilst Rusev will probably get a full programme versus Cesaro or Sami Zayn considering the champion’s good chemistry with the former and that the latter isn’t doing anything right now.

So whilst I believe Roman Reigns should walk out of Summerslam as the new United States Champion in a move that could certainly benefit both parties, I predict that the title will remain round the thick waist of Rusev. Either way though, this match has a lot of potential and I am really looking forward to seeing them clash at the back end of this month; both are workhorses and have the ability to showcase a great fight, I just hope they get the allotted time to shine.

5 of the Best: Finishers in WWE

Finishing a match in the right way is one of the most discussed and highly important factors in the making of a WWE wrestler. Along with a certain person’s look, music and promo skills we wrestling fans often spend time debating over whose finisher is the best and who’s doesn’t quite make the cut. With that said, here then are my picks for the top 5 finishing moves currently on the mail roster, so no NXT stars or part-timers like Lesnar, Taker and HHH this time round.

 

#1 RKO – Randy Orton – Smackdown

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We kick things off with the most viral finisher around. Randy’s RKO became an extremely popular meme a year or two ago, and whilst this was all fun and games, it was actually quite a testament as to what makes this cutter so special in the eyes of the fans.

Orton’s perfect timing in the ring allows this move to be hit from almost any angle and on any occasion and as such, fans’ interest is always peaked towards the end of his matches as a crescendo of activity leads to the RKO spot. Simply put, his match could be all-action and then suddenly end in the blink of an eye, with the fans erupting in sheer surprise.

Fast and brutal, this finisher probably has the best highlight reel of the current generation with the real standouts coming against Evan Bourne and Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania 31. All that is left for Orton to do with this move is somehow reverse Lesnar’s F5 into it at Summerslam; if they somehow pull that off I’ll be beaming with joy.

 

#2 Bank Statement – Sasha Banks – Raw

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A stretched bridging crossface often transitioned from a double knee backbreaker, what is not to love about that?! This move, in my opinion, has everything that makes a finisher truly fantastic and fits Sasha’s ‘The Boss’ personality like a glove.

The name is impeccable, the move looks seriously painful, the backbreaker fits in with her knee-based offence, and the smooth transition is very inventive. Banks really has perfected this one since her days in NXT and seeing her finally claim the WWE Women’s Championship with this manoeuvre on Monday night was wonderful, even if that match could have been saved for Summerslam.

Her best version of this move surely comes from the classic Bayley versus Sasha match from NXT: Brooklyn last summer. Having worked Bayley’s formerly broken hand throughout, Sasha stomping on said hand whilst applying her submission was a genius heel move and helped make Bayley’s triumph in the bout even more impressive.

 

#3 Red Arrow – Neville – Raw

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Probably the most obvious one on this list; Neville has mastered the art of flippy shit (him versus fellow master Ricochet would be a dream) and nothing epitomises this point better than the fact that he has the most fantastically flippy finisher in the business today.

This corkscrew shooting star press is like nothing you have ever seen before and is a stunning sight; the little Englishman has somehow revolutionised and already insane move and made the ending to his matches a true spectacle. I cannot fathom how a person can twist their body so much in such a short space of time, it baffles the mind.

Having been fittingly placed in his new home on Raw and with the Cruiserweight division just around the corner, Neville and his time-stopping Red Arrow look set to light up our Monday nights and I predict we will see this move win the first Cruiserweight championship should it be reinstated.

 

#4 Magic Killer – Gallows and Anderson – Raw

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NXT has seen a resurgence in tag team finishers, which were long absent in the WWE, with many graduates such as The Vaudevillians, American Alpha and The Ascension all making use of a double team move to end their matches. Gallows and Anderson though, having run roughshod with it in Japan, have the pick of the bunch for me.

The Magic Killer, which is a snap swinging neckbreaker from the shoulders of the twosome, lands with devastating impact and has left a whole heap of superstars (eg. Cena, Usos, Big E) motionless afterwards. And given that this requires a large amount of setup, the end product almost-never looks clunky or poorly executed.

Similarly to in Japan, the number of guys that the Magic Killer manages to put away is continually growing, certainly making it one of the most protected and destructive moves on the entire roster and it may well be the spell that ends the New Day’s record title run at Summerslam…

 

#5 Dirty Deeds – Dean Ambrose – Smackdown

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If the Magic Killer is the most protected tag team manoeuvre on the main roster then Dean Ambrose’s Dirty Deeds may well be the most devastating singles finisher in 2016. In one swift and decisive DDT Ambrose has put a number of opponents down for the count and is exactly the sort of punishing move you want your top champion to have.

Dean has put down Rollins, Reigns, Jericho, Owens and even destroyed then-champion Triple H on Raw with this incredibly powerful move. Imagine if he had dropped Brock Lesnar at Mania with it; it honestly would have been sat atop the finisher mountain with Stone Cold’s stunner.

I would go as far to say that of all the moves on this list, this is my current number 1. I love the fluidity of it which allows for creative counters and struggles (a la his match with Jericho at Payback) and it perfectly fits Ambrose’s smash-mouth, off-the-wall, style.

 

So there you have it folks, my current favourite 5 finishers on the main roster; big shout outs to Bray’s Sister Abigail and AJ’s Styles Clash too, both are fantastic. But what is your favourite finisher on the main roster today and why?