NXT Review and Analysis – 25/05

With just two weeks until the next NXT Takeover, now revealed to be called, rather cryptically, NXT Takeover: The End, the latest episode of NXT aired on the WWE Network. It featured a couple of announcements and matches with major implications for Takeover, as well as a debuting tag team. So let’s see what went down…

First up was William Regal announcing that Bayley has suffered an injury and will not be able to compete at Takeover. To determine who would get a shot at Asuka’s NXT Women’s Title at Takeover there would be a triple threat between Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss and Carmella to headline that night’s card.

Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa defeat TM61 by pinfall

One of the fastest rising pairings in the tag team division took on the debuting Australian team of TM-61 (known on the indies as TMDK) to open the show. Whilst not getting the pomp and circumstance of some of the recent debuts from indie stars on the NXT roster, TM-61 did at least get to cut a pre-recorded promo and make a proper entrance to differentiate them from jobbers. This was a very good start to the show, with both teams looking fairly equal throughout the match, before TM61 were defeated as Shane Thorne ate a superkick/running knee combo.

Thoughts:

  • I was impressed with TM61, having never seen them before. They have some great moves, they’re good talkers based on the little speaking they did and Shane Thorne in particular has a real swagger to him. Almost like a toned down Nakamura at times.
  • Is the name Shane Thorne supposed to sound so much like Shane Warne? Because they’re both sportsmen from Australia you see.
  • Poor Bayley, it sucks she’s injured. Just makes me want to hug her even more.

We then see a video hyping Samoa Joe for his cage match with Finn Balor at Takeover. It’s a good little package, making Joe look like a beast and genuinely making you fear for Finn’s safety a bit in that cage.

Next up is Bayley being interviewed backstage, where she talks about how being injured sucks but that Regal probably made the right decision. Nia Jax then turns up and claims responsibility for Bayley’s injuries, telling the former champ that she’ll never be the same again. Carmella shows up to back up Bayley but Jax is unimpressed and finally Alexa Bliss arrives. The Samoan is about to say something but decides Bliss isn’t worth it and walks off, leaving Alexa and Carmella to have words briefly, before Alexa walks off.

Then there is a vignette advertising the impending debut of Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas, showing a luchadore taking off his mask from behind.

That’s followed by still more non-wrestling action as Austin Aries takes to the ring to talk about being the best, greatness and how other guys have grabbed the spotlight. He then claims that it doesn’t matter who wins between Balor and Samoa Joe as before long Aries will have the belt anyway. Shinsuke Nakamura, Aries’ tag partner from last week, then appears and promises that he will be the one to defeat the winner of the cage match and claim the championship. This brings out William Regal, who makes Aries v Nakamura for Takeover, causing the two competitors to shake hands in the ring.

Thoughts:

  • I’m surprised the route to Nakamura v Aries has not yet involved an Aries heel turn, they were definitely teasing him using heel methods to rise to the top.
  • That was a really quite powerful vignette for Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (previously known outside the WWE as La Sombra), with the luchadore removing his mask, which obviously has massive resonance in the world of lucha libre.
  • The size difference between Alexa Bliss and Nia Jax is ridiculous. It’s great that Nia underestimates Bliss and that Alexa doesn’t back down because it sows the possibility of Bliss overcoming the odds. But seriously, Nia makes Alexa look like a child.
  • Good video for Samoa Joe, dude looks beastly.

Next up Amerian Alpha hype up their contest with The Revival, promising to out-wrestle them and defeat the former champs at Takeover.

No Way Jose defeats Jonathan Ortagun by pinfall.

This was a total squash, with No Way Jose doing his usual ‘I love to dance and play baseball’ schtick and winning with a new cobra clutch slam finisher. At least the baseball swing thing isn’t his finisher any more, even if he still uses it.

We then see Balor’s equivalent of the Samoa Joe video we saw earlier, with Finn talking about his obsession and saying how Joe doesn’t know what Balor is capable of inside a cage.

The last promo of a very talky NXT was from Asuka who promised that whoever won the Number One Contender’s match that night she would retain her title at Takeover.

Nia Jax defeats Carmella and Alexa Bliss by pinning Carmella

A really enjoyable match saw the three women play to their strengths – Bliss was the manipulative and cowardly heel, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, Carmella was the fearless firebrand and Nia Jax was a force of nature. They all delivered some great moves, with Jax hitting some strong power offense, Carmella taking some high flying risks and Bliss reacting brilliantly when caught trying to sneak attack Jax from the top rope. In the end Nia’s power won out as she pinned Carmella with Alexa Bliss laid out at ringside.

After the match Asuka came out and held the title aloft on the entrance ramp before making her way down to the ring to face off with Jax. The new number one contender threatened Asuka while the champion just smiled as NXT went off air.

Thoughts:

  • Nia Jax was definitely the best choice to win here. She is a strong, powerful competitor and offers a significant kayfabe challenge to Asuka, especially since the Samoan is ironing out the mistakes she used to make due to inexperience.
  • The other two women deserve a lot of praise too – Carmella was a bundle of energy who was very over, while Bliss being caught by Jax and climbing down the turnbuckle apologetically was hilarious.
  • The commentators had a bit more to say about No Way Jose this week as they fleshed out his character but I still can’t say I’m particularly interested in him. Gets a good crowd reaction though.
  • Oh American Alpha just make me happy, whatever they’re doing. I wonder if the WWE brand split will see them moving up to the main roster sooner than expected.

So there we go, another episode of NXT in the books and we got a decent build toward Takeover but very few matches. What did you make of it? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @CellarDoorChris.

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The 5 Questions We Have After Raw 24/05

One night after a largely very good Extreme Rules Pay Per View WWE Raw was in Baltimore. Having watched it we have a number of questions we’re asking. Here are the top 5 –

What story will the WWE tell around Roman Reigns v Seth Rollins?

The Architect is back and he has been granted a WWE World Heavyweight Title match at Money in the Bank. This is all good. Rollins opened Raw last night by berating the fans, reminding them that they weren’t cheering for him when he was the champion. Though some people disagree, I think this is also a good move – while we’re all happy to see him come back Rollins’ character has no reason to start being a face after he left as a heel.

So what will the story be here? Rollins can seemingly no longer bank on having an authority figure on his side, as Stephanie told him that their business relationship has changed. Reigns also has a numbers advantage, with the Usos on his side, while Rollins has no kayfabe friends in the locker room. So will Rollins work his slimy coward heel act to gain any advantage he can? Will Reigns be looking for revenge for the dissolution of the Shield? Will the rivalry get personal or will it be purely focussed on the belt? Will Ambrose figure into this conflict at all?

When will Finn Balor debut?

Because after AJ Styles’ conflict with Anderson and Gallows last night you know it’s just a matter of time. The seeds have been sown, so how and when is it going down? Will Finn perhaps initially join Styles as he takes on Gallows and Anderson and then turn on the Phenomenal One? Or will he debut as Styles’ adversary from the off, perhaps helping Anderson and Gallows get an edge over Style and whoever he finds to help him in this battle?

Timing wise, Balor has NXT dates in the UK and Ireland from June 10th – 17th which could prevent him from appearing immediately, though I’m sure WWE creative can come up with a reason for him not being on TV for one week if need be. However and whenever it happens the Days of the Demon are coming to the WWE main roster, and soon.

How will the last two Money in the Bank match places be decided, and who will get them?

So far we have Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Chris Jericho in there, so who will be joining them and how will that be decided? Well there’s no out and out high flyer in there, which is often a feature of the MITB match, so Kalisto may well take one of the other spots. Neville is also likely to be back from injury soon but are WWE going to want to put him in such a high risk match so early in his comeback?

And what about the seventh person? Well, Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are both scheduled to return soon and both have the pedigree to be in such a high profile match. Bray in particular would be a very intriguing choice to carry the briefcase, especially with the Wyatt Family at his beck and call. The final option I would suggest is, if he loses his US Title to John Cena before the PPV, Rusev. He deserves to be a major player in the WWE and Lana walking around with that briefcase would look awesome!

Will we finally get a male-free Women’s Division?

After a brutal verbal attack the WWE Women’s Champion Charlotte disowned her father and sent the Nature Boy from the arena in tears. With the champ replacing Ric Flair with Dana Brooke as her cohort will we finally get a Women’s division that focusses on the female competitors and not the shenanigans involving men?

Will a feud with Sheamus be a good next step for Apollo Crews?

After losing to Sami Zayn in a Money in the Bank qualifying match Sheamus was irate, and has started to rant about the ‘new era’, focussing his ire on Apollo Crews. With both men losing their qualifiers it looks like a feud is in the offing. So will this be a good move for the leader of the Apollo Nation? It seems likely – Sheamus is a veteran, his brawling, bruising style could mesh nicely with Crews’ strength and agility and there is a good story to tell with the whole old guard v new era narrative. It should also give Crews a chance to develop and display his character a bit more, and to get over because, seriously, who likes Sheamus?

Other questions we have…

Why are Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler having another match?
I mean come on, the matches have been solid, but we’ve seen this contest so many damn times now!

How was Kevin Owens powerbombing AJ Styles onto the steel steps not a disqualification?
Didn’t think that would be allowed in a regular match.

What’s next for the Realest Guys now that Enzo is back?
Given the comprehensive way Big Cass has been dealing with the Dudleyz in Amore’s absence is there any reason to carry on with the feud?

Who put that Exit sign on the door that Ric Flair left through?

Ric Flair Exit

Given the side of the door the sign was on The Nature Boy seemed to go, in the words of Prince,  “in through the out door”.

When are they going to start making Darren Young great again?
Because it hasn’t happened yet, those videos with Bob Backlund are godawful.

So there we go, that’s what’s got us scratching our heads after this week’s Raw. Reckon you’ve got some answers? Or questions of your own? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @CellarDoorChris and @WrestlingFansGB.

RAW Review – 23/05/16

Following a solid Extreme Rules and Seth Rollin’s return to claim what’s his, what will RAW have in store for us? With Money In The Bank now on the horizon, we’re sure to expect a big build up to the main event and the ever chaotic MITB Briefcase match…

RAW kicks off with Seth Rollins (Crossfit Jesus, The Architect, The Man – you choose) returning an a rapturous crowd welcoming him home. It doesn’t take long before he kicks back into his familiar role of sleezy heel, wonderfully making sure the crowd turns against him. It’s a difficult job given his opponent but Seth knows exactly how to tap into that role and tries his hardest to gain heat. Watching him take control over a crowd is a thing of beauty.

Roman Reigns appears and instead of delivering a sub-standard promo, he eyes up Seth as he makes his way into the ring. Seth bails out pretty quickly and Shane McMahon’s music hits.

Shane McMahon turns up and whilst I’m trying to calm down about having these 3 men in the same place at the same time, he declares that Seth will get his chance to fight for the title he never really lost. It makes a nice change not to be bogged down by a McMahon droning on and on and telling us all how we got here – everybody already knows, so Shane gets straight down to business. And that’s that – we have Seth Rollins challenging Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at MITB on June 19th. 

Sami Zayn vs Sheamus – MITB Qualifying Match

We’re straight into the show and Sami Zayn squares off against Sheamus for a spot in the MITB Briefcase Ladder Match. Sheamus is last year’s winner and having Zayn face off against him is a good way for Zayn to show off his talent.

The match is an average one with quite a few nice spots that nicely show off Sheamus’ strength and Zayn’s speed. Zayn lands the Helluva kick and picks up the win – allowing Sheamus to lose his shit afterwards and he ends up attacking Apollo Crews backstage who was chatting to Renee about the new era.

The New Day vs The Social Outcasts

The New Day arrive with a cake to celebrate 1200 episodes of RAW and right before they’re able to throw it into JBL or Byron’s face, The Social Outcasts come out to attack them.

The 6-man tag gets under way and as quickly as it starts it finishes with the double Big Ending (I may have that wrong, not entirely sure what it’s called?) and The New Day pick up the win. Quick and fun match that keeps The New Day at the top and allows them to have a goof and a gaff and a riot.

Health Slater then gets his face smashed into the cake and it’s a glorious shot.

Cesaro vs The Miz (w/ Maryse) – MITB Qualifying Match

Cesaro explodes as soon as the bell rings with a series of uppercuts and immediately gains the offensive advantage. Following their match from Extreme Rules, they’re both on top form and continue the feud well. Attention to detail is great here, with The Miz taking every opportunity to work over Cesaro’s bad shoulder and Cesaro does a pretty good job of selling it. They have good chemistry together and The Miz is excellent in putting over Cesaro. Cesaro scores a neutraliser and picks up the win, joining Sami Zayn in the MITB Briefcase match.

I assume Cesaro will go back to feuding with The Miz regardless of his position in the MITB Briefcase match and hope he will get a chance to have a title run with the IC Title.

Chris Jericho vs Apollo Crews – MITB Qualifying Match

Following his brutal spot with the thumb tacks at Extreme Rules, Jericho is covered in bandages and plasters for his match against Apollo Crews. Crews on the other hand has apparently forgotten that he took a pretty harsh beat down from Sheamus only 30 minutes ago. So there’s that.

Apart from a small botch which likely happened due to some miscommunication, the match is pretty uneventful in my opinion, but wasn’t bad overall. It was also nice to Crews in a match that is longer than 3 minutes. Jericho hits the Codebreaker and picks up the win, joining Zayn and Cesaro in the MITB Briefcase match. This frees up Crews to feud with Sheamus which could give the audience something to cheer Crews for.

Big Cass (w/ Enzo) vs Bubba Ray Dudley (w/ D-Von)

Enzo is back, finally, and gives that x-factor to Big Cass. He has the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands and reciting everything right back at him. Big Cass looks like a superstar with Enzo selling him and I think they would both benefit from Enzo taking a managerial approach and Big Cass going single. But hey, that’s just my opinion.

A small and fluffy singles match between Big Cass and Bubba Ray takes place and it seems like WWE are still happy to continue this feud following Enzo’s injury and subsequent time off. The match is quick and Big Cass expectedly picks up the win.

Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair and Dana Brooke)

Charlotte makes her way down to the ring with Ric Flair and Dana Brooke flanking her and just before she talks, Ric quickly tells her how proud he is after her win at Extreme Rules. Charlotte quickly becomes rattled by the crowd who are “What?” chanting her – she seems a little off of her game here and I don’t know if that’s intentional given the nature of her promo or if she’s agitated by the crowd’s apathetic reaction.

Regardless, Ric slurred through his speech and barely formed coherent sentences so when Charlotte launches into a tirade about how she doesn’t need him any more and that now he will be known as “Charlotte’s father”, it seems fitting. Poorly executed, but it was nice to see this story come to end. Ric sold his role quite well (again, unsure whether real or not, always hard to tell) and eventually leaves the ring and arena crying. It will be nice to see Charlotte have a “dirty player” in the form of a relevant woman in the division instead of her dad always stealing the spotlight. Hit and miss segment here, but I’m just glad that things are moving on and Charlotte is able to continue her run as a hypocrite and “dirty player”, throwing out Ric when she gets new help.

Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler – MITB Qualifying Match

A solid outing from these two who are fighting for a spot in the MITB Briefcase Match. Not much to say here, as it proves quite difficult to get in to and Ambrose picks up the win with his Dirty Deeds finisher and secures his place. This leaves Ziggler obviously facing Baron Corbin… again… yay.

AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens – MITB Qualifying Match

Before the match, AJ Styles arrives to talk about his match at Extreme Rules and clearly lays the blame on all the interferences, citing that if it weren’t for both The Usos AND Gallows and Anderson, then he would’ve secured the win and been the new champion. Obviously, G&A take credence with this and they arrive to let Styles know that if it weren’t for them, he wouldn’t be in the WWE at all, let alone fighting for the title. Styles bats them off saying that things are different now and he wants to go it alone, with G&A telling Styles that they’re finished and leaving. OOOHH I WONDER WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT.

Kevin Owens arrives shortly afterwards and the match gets under way, with a great back and forth between these two guys. What I loved most about this match is that I honestly didn’t have any idea who would come out top and the unpredictability made the match so much better. Owens shouting at Michael Cole is always great fun too, thanks Kev! Anyway, Styles receives some pretty brutal spots throughout the match, including being power-bombed by Owens onto the steps outside of the ring.

It surprised me that the match finished with a clean win from Owens over Styles, as I thought G&A would come out to put him in his place. However, Styles sold that he wasn’t 100% invested in the match after the earlier confrontation, so it made sense for Owens to go over. Owens joins Zayn, Cesaro, Jericho and Ambrose in the MITB Briefcase Match and I’m wet with excitement about that.

A solid episode that follows nicely from the preceding events at Extreme Rules but also nicely works new directions into the fold for the upcoming MITB PPV. All the matches tonight served some purpose and it was refreshing yet again to see the McMahons take a step back and let the superstars do the bulk of the storytelling.

Additional Points:

  • Commentary all but suck tonight, apart from Byron pleading with The New Day to throw cake in JBL’s face because he’s diabetic. YES BYRON, FIGHT BACK.
  • Rollins tries to hug Steph but gets turned down. Ouchies.
  • Video packages from The Shining Stars and Darren Young – both equally lacklustre in appeal.
  • Big Banter Corbin looked awkward as hell in his promo with Ziggler and part of me wishes this feud would just die already as it doesn’t seem to be doing either men any favours.
  • The Miz puts his title on the line against Cesaro on Smackdown later this week, as does Rusev, who is facing Kalisto in a rematch for the US Title. Continuity!
  • AJ Styles sold Roman’s abilities as a wrestler and got booed to hell. The fans will not accept anything positive.
  • If you wanted to know, I want Ambrose to win the MITB Briefcase Match – having all of The Shield being in contention for the main title belt would make for fantastic viewing.
  • I also watched the interview with Mick Foley and Shane McMahon and thought Shane did a really good job of putting over Vince and avoiding questions about his brother-in-law.

TL;DR – You’re shit, go back up and read it. It’s honestly not that long.

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Want to have a go at me for wasting your time? Find me @Rachelskiiiiiii

Extreme Rules 2016 Review

I just want to preface this with the note that I am day two into a migraine that is causing me aphasia, photophobia and auras. If none of the following makes sense, that could be the reason. Or it’s not and this is just WWE’s booking. Who knows?

This PPV is sponsored by my migraine tablets and a can of Pepsi Max applied to my forehead to alleviate the sensation of death.

Extreme Rules Pre-Show

Normally I don’t bother with the pre-show or end up missing it due to time constraints (re: me playing Splatoon for too long) but I managed to get The Network on in time tonight and was slightly impressed with The Pre-Show. It had decent video packages to build suspense, Booker T and The King weren’t wildly silly and formed coherent sentences that offered substantial conversation, Paige and Becky made a nice addition to the panel when discussing the Women’s Title Match and we saw small matches that adequately set the stage for the main show.

The Dudley Boyz make an appearance to question how ‘extreme’ Extreme Rules will actually be. Big Cass interrupts them to tell them his shopping list, giving us a hint of the type of chaos to be expected during the show. It actually went down better than it sounds and Big Cass is ridiculously over, even without his buddy Enzo. He quickly beats them both up and that’s that.

The Miz cuts a promo (still don’t like him) and so does Rusev and Lana who are in the Social Media lounge with Tom receiving questions from the fans. Rusev continues with the extreme theme of the night by telling Tom he’s going to steal Kalisto’s shirt.

Baron Corbin vs Dolph Ziggler

This match is short and sweet and really doesn’t do any good nor bad for this ongoing feud. Corbin and Ziggler have a good back and forth and there are some good moves by both of them – DDT’s, dropkicks and splashes. Ziggler misses a kick and Corbin takes this opportunity to hit a low blow – he is able to nail The End of Days (love this finisher) and pick up the win. Heel uses heel tactics to pick up a win, are we extreme enough for you guys yet?

Extreme Factor: 1/10. And that’s only because of the low blow.

Extreme Rules Main Show

It’s time to head into the main show and we are greeted with more video packages of the upcoming title match between AJ Styles and Roman Reigns.

The Usos vs Gallows & Anderson – Tornado Tag Team Match

I mean, at least the stipulation is interesting and provides us with something a little bit fresh for this ongoing feud. All 4 men being legal in the ring does provide some good back and forth between them on and I feel like this is the first match G&A have had that properly displays their talent and characters. The Usos are predictable with their moveset but are offset with a fresh offensive from G&A, which allows me to maintain some interest.

The stipulation allows chaos to ensure and there are a lot of good spots to keep the audience interested – some great clothelines, superkicks (I love it, Maggle!) and outside ring action. The ringbell is grabbed by Gallows and in ring, one of The Usos (still can’t tell them apart, sorry) misses a splash from the top ropes and lands on it, which allows G&A to land their finisher and pick up the pin.

Extreme Factor: 4/10. I found it hard to get into, but that doesn’t make it a bad match. The ringbell being used was interesting, too. Happy with the win for G&A and I hope feud is laid to rest and they’re able to move on to bigger and better feuds.

Rusev (w/ Lana) vs Kalisto – WWE United States Title Match

Kalisto’s run as US champ has been… lacking, for a better word. Through no fault of his own, he has suffered by being lumped in pre-shows with lack of proper development (although his match with Ryback at the Payback Pre-Show was unexpectedly great) and it seems his title run is now due to end.

What is effectively a stylised squash match, Rusev predictably dominates throughout. Kalisto does get some chances to fight back and executes high-octane and high-flying moves wonderfully. Predictably, he stood no chance and after a fabulous moonsault on Rusev, Rusev is able to grab Kalisto and slam him hard onto the ring floor. The ref interfers and tells Rusev to pull back but he ignores him and puts him into the most brutal Accolade I think I’ve ever seen. Kalisto taps and Rusev is crowned the new US Champion.

With Rusev being the US champ again, I’m excited for him. I’ve been a fan of him from day one and love his dynamic in and out of the ring. Like Big E, a man his size doesn’t normally have the speed and flexibility that he displays and it’s excellent to watch as he defies the usual limitations. Lana is excellent as his manager and it’s great to see her back in the spotlight, instead of some shitty damsel in distress storyline.

My only small naggling issue is that I know Cena is back and I know it’s Memorial Day in The US when he does return… and I just know that Rusev is going to be fed to Cena. Again. And it’s so disheartening. I’ll be genuinely shocked if that doesn’t happen because the writing is so clearly on the wall.

Extreme Factor: 6/10 – Though short, it was great and Kalisto, whilst providing some good offensive, truly did have no chance. Rusev’s punishing finisher looked like it destroyed the small Kalisto and left a devastating impact.

The New Day vs The Vaudevillians – WWE Tag Title Match

It’s Big E and Xavier Woods who team up in this match, with Kofi staying on the sidelines with his cereal. Woods getting a turn creates a nice dynamic and keeps this team from growing stale. A small (great) promo beforehand and the match starts of with Woods in the ring taking bumps that gives The Vaudevillians the initial advantage in the match.

Woods is able to break free and get the hot tag on Big E who goes all out. Something about a man his size being able to pull of a big splash is still a sight to behold. The fight goes back and forth for a while and The Vaudevillians almost look like their able to get the win after Woods returns and is nailed by their finisher. Big E comes charging out and spears Aiden English through the ropes and outside of the ring. This allows Kofi to attack Simon Gotch with a kick whilst the ref is distracted and Woods is able to attack Gotch and pick up the win, retaining the Tag Titles.

Extreme Factor: 4/10. Lacking in the extreme department, but it’s a solid match from both teams. Nothing special but it allows The New Day to carry on being the cash cow they are for the WWE.

Kevin Owens vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn vs The Miz (w/ Maryse) – Fatal Four Way Match for The WWE Intercontinental Title

Where do I start with this match? Truly this match is up there for match of the year. I had high hopes for this and was thoroughly pleased.

How much can I gush about all the men in this match? EVEN THE MIZ IMPRESSED ME, and that’s saying something! I still don’t like him or think he is even in the same league as the other 3, but he put on a hell of a match as the defending champion. Being around the other 3 gave him the opportunity to show that, yes, he does deserve the title and is a great wrestler. He really impressed me throughout this match.

The match starts off hot immediately with Zayn and Cesaro going at each other in the ring after kicking the other two out. The fight spills into the outside of the ring, and Miz and Owens are back involved, giving way to some great spots between all 4 men – high leaps, suplexes, powerbombs, superkicks, the lot. Some tremendous work here.

But you know, I’m a Cesaro mark through and through and all my praise goes to this man, who was the star. He excelled throughout the match and I was on the edge of my seat every time he executed a move that looked like he could seal the deal. The near pinfalls had my butt clenching as the hope of Cesaro being the IC champ almost became a reality. He dominates most of the match and takes a short run upper-cutting the hell out of everyone and putting Miz through the Cesaro Swing. The man is a God and you can’t tell me otherwise.

The match builds up to a fight between Zayn and Cesaro (I know Zayn vs Owens is amazing, but can we give credit to how well these two feed off of each other?) and Zayn pulls of a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L sunset flip. Cesaro fights back but is suplexed by Zayn, allowing Owens to get back into the ring to attack Zayn and deliver a Popup Powerbomb on Cesaro. Miz breaks up the pin and is able to get his finisher on Owens and tries to cover Cesaro, who manages to break free after a two count.

Take a deep breath, boys, holy shit.

Miz tries to attack Cesaro sensing that this is his time to get the win, but is interrupted by Zayn who nails Cesaro with a superkick. Zayn goes for the pin on Cesaro and just when you think he has the three count, he is dragged out of the ring by Owens and LOSES HIS SHIT. Zayn becomes unravelled with anger and throws Owens into the barricade. The Miz is able to capitalise on this and he pins Cesaro, securing the win and he remains champion.

For me, I can’t think of another match in 2016 that has been this good (excluding NXT) and so far it’s the best. Everything was fantastic, even if I am bitter about Cesaro losing and The Miz retaining. But taking away my personal bias, it was the perfect match. How on earth do you follow this?

Extreme Factor: 9/10 – Whilst not necessarily more extreme than your normal 4-way match, it provided excellent spots, butt-clenching moments, great story-telling and excelled every man in the ring. Hats off, WWE, I’m going to watch this match over and over again.

Chris Jericho vs Dean Ambrose – Asylum Match

Anybody who has to follow the IC Title match is going to have a hard time, but holy hell, this match really suffers. The stipulation interested me initially but after 10 minutes, I was bored – was this a comedy match or a brutal fight to the death? The weapons didn’t get used as much as I hoped and even when they did, the effects didn’t seem as brutal. The match totals in at just under 30 minutes, which is ridiculous given how lacklustre is was. If it was half the length, it could have been better. It felt like ages before anything substantial happened.

Don’t bill a match as extreme if you can’t deliver on it – the same way that Ambrose’s street fight with Lesnar wasn’t at all a street fight but more a massacre of Ambrose’s limbs. There are a few highlights that do manage to sustain my interest – Ambrose jumping off of the top of the cage and nailing Jericho with an elbow, Jericho’s facial expressions and character actions were on point throughout the match and definitely helped sell Ambrose as a lunatic and the array of different weapons did give me something to enjoy.

Things only pick up with a bag of thumb tacks that was spilled into the ring earlier in the match is FINALLY addressed and Jericho takes a brutal slam back first into them. Blood is everywhere, thumb tacks are stuck in every part of Jericho’s body and Ambrose is able to pin him to secure the win. The match ends when it just gets started – unfortunately 20 minutes too late and after everyone is half bored to death.

Extreme Factor: 4/10. And that’s only because of the last spots of the match, which included Ambrose giving a DDT that nailed himself with some thumb tacks. I spent most of the match rolling a can of Pepsi Max over my forehead and struggling to open my eyes.

Natalya vs Charlotte – Submission WWE Women’s Title Match

The one thing I was really looking forward to with this match was the belief that it wouldn’t suffer from interruptions from ANYBODY. The video packages were great and the build-up of having a Ric Flair-less fight was exciting. Charlotte has to be one of the best women’s champions that we’ve had in a very long time here in WWE – she exudes heat naturally, she’s so gifted in ring and she has excellent ring psychology. She’s a natural. To begin with, I didn’t mind Ric Flair in her corner, being her cheerleader and supporting her but over time, having him constantly interfere and sabotage matches for what ultimately seems like his own gain was getting tiring and stale. Just give us a match like what Charlotte and Natayla had in NXT, without her dad and without silly gimmicks.

It doesn’t go that way unfortunately, and any hopes of having a match akin to what they had in NXT or Beast in The East is quickly diminished. The idea of having a submission match is a great one as both of these ladies finishers are built on their respective legacies. It should showcase their talent.

The match is barely in full swing when Ric Flair’s music plays and someone walks out disguised as him. For some reason that I honestly can’t wrap my head around, Dana Brooke interferes in the match, causes a distraction and allows Charlotte to get Natalya in the Figure 8 and pick up the win. Having Charlotte unable to win clean makes her look bad. I know it’s heel tactics and it does have some sense, but it’s fine when used sporadically, not every single damn match.

Extreme Factor: 0/10. Hated it. Ridiculously short and a poor ending.

AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match

It’s no DQ tonight, so weapons should be in abundance and interferences a-plenty. But don’t fool yourself, it’s exactly what you think it’ll be – G&A and The Usos interfere, there are a few table spots and a chair is used frequently, but that’s really it in terms of extreme. AJ Styles does take some intense bumps – most notably through the announce table (twice) and being swung into the barricades and side of the ring. Styles has around 10 years on Reigns but it never shows.

The match is full of heavy and big spots and it does add to the ‘big match feel’ and ‘extreme’ theme of the night, so credit is deserved for both men here. However, I felt like their match at Payback was better overall, in terms of flow and chemistry. Tonight felt like it was just them trying to kill each other – which, I guess, makes sense as it’s Extreme Rules and Styles is pushed to the limit in trying to secure the title. The crowd was harsh on Reigns who even after pulling of some pretty cool spots – such as powerbombing Styles through the announce table and going for a spear but missing and crashing into the barricades – are still relentlessly booing him and chanting “you can’t wrestle” or “Roman sucks”.

After going outside of the ring numerous times and the fight spilling into the crowd and up at the Pre-Show arena, the two in the ring face interruption from G&A and The Usos, which is entirely predictable.

A Phenomenal Forearm, two Styles Clashes (one being executed onto a chair), a beat down from G&A which involved The Boot of Doom and numerous chair shots and Roman Reigns is STILL able to kick out from AJ Styles. It gets a bit ridiculous when you have all that done to you, you’re supposed to be selling a “knee injury” and yet you’re still able to kick out. Reigns manages to catch Styles mid-air with a spear and it’s 1… 2… 3… DO DO DO DOOOOOO. Oh shit, wrong protected champion. It’s a win – AGAIN – for Reigns after taking a vicious beating. He remains champion.

Look, I’m not an idiot. Actually, wait, no, maybe I am an idiot? Maybe I’m an idiot for believing that this finisher-heavy match makes both Styles and Reigns look bad. Maybe I’m an idiot for knowing that whatever happens, Reigns will still walk out champion. Maybe I’m an idiot for being fed up that Reigns will just not take a loss and consistently booking him as the underdog is bad for him. Tonight wasn’t the night for him to lose however as I firmly believe he needs to hold onto the belt, but… where’s the suspension of belief that he might just maybe lose it?

Reigns does have the potential to be a great champion and I may be in the minority when I say that but his fault is with his character, which just plain, fucking sucks. Ultimately, that is the crux of the issue and it’s so obvious to everyone outside of WWE’s head office. I hate getting annoyed at WWE for this because a) do you really expect anything else? and b) I look like a mark for falling into their traps. But it just gets to the point where we all know Reigns is going to win, so why bother watching, really? At least his match with Styles at Payback was interesting, this one just felt like one of Vince’s voyeuristic dreams.

But forget about that, anyway. Reigns winning actually leads onto a new storyline, which is refreshing.

Roman Reigns is celebrating with his title whilst trying to convey genuine shock that he won when he is ambushed by Seth Rollins, making his long-awaited returned. Rollins Pedigrees Reigns and picks up the title to unanimous fucking cheering stadium wide. So ultimately, it made sense for Reigns to win. I didn’t want AJ Styles to win and in fact having Reigns win is the best way forward. You just hope they pull of a title feud between Reigns and Rollins well because this feud does have the chance to be great, especially considering the history between the two.

Extreme Factor: 7/10 – Styles took some great bumps and towards the end of the match it did gain momentum with the interferences and weapons used. Credit to both of them pulling of the final spear that got Reigns the win, it looked fucking great. Ultimately it suffers from being entirely predictable.

WWE ended Extreme Rules with the fantastic image of Rollins returning to take back what is his. I cannot wait for RAW. Thank god for Seth Rollins. Overall, it’s not a bad PPV. It certainly suffers when you market it as extreme and fail to deliver on that, but ignoring that, it’s solid and the IC Title Match is wholly deserving of Match of The Year (so far).

Additional Points:

  • Package of The Night: It was tough to decide between Big E and Seth Rollins, but just because I haven’t see him in so long, Rollins wins. Welcome home!
  • Women’s match was the worst of the night and it honestly pains me to say that.
  • I’m a Cesaro mark, let me be sad.
  • Can’t wait for Cena to come back and bury Rusev again. Sigh.
  • Should we call Childine to report JBL for abuse against Byron? Damn.
  • No McMahons? What a wonderful and delightful surprise!

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Want to have a go at me for wasting your time? Find me @Rachelskiiiiiii

 

 

The Top 5 Questions We’re Asking After Extreme Rules 2016 –

Apart from a couple of dodgy moments I largely enjoyed Extreme Rules 2016. But like all PPVs in WWE it has left us with some questions. So here are the top 5 things we’re asking after Extreme Rules 2016 (spoilers ahead) –

Is Rollins’ return setting up the The Shield triple threat in the near(ish) future?

Rejoice! Crossfit Jesus is back! Seth Rollins saved us from another flat end to a Pay Per View by running into the ring and flattening a victorious Roman Reigns with a pedigree, before holding the WWE World Championship aloft. So where does this declaration of intent leave us? Obviously Reigns and Rollins are going to fight over the championship right now but with Ambrose probably now finished with Chris Jericho there is scope to include the Lunatic Fringe in the feud. Will this happen from the off or will we get Rollins v Reigns 1 on 1 for a bit before Ambrose gets involved? Might the Money in the Bank briefcase factor into the situation? When will the triple threat happen? Summerslam maybe?

What’s next for AJ Styles?

That’s two straight clean defeats for AJ Styles in PPV matches for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and, with Rollins now showing up, it looks like the Phenomenal One may move away from the championship spotlight. So where does he go from here? Well the IC Title picture is pretty busy and I don’t think he’ll be challenging for the US Title next (more on that later). I think he may just get some filler matches and end up competing in the Money in the Bank match, as there is no clear rival for him currently on the roster. After that? Goodness only knows.

Why can’t we get a definitive finish to a Women’s Title match?

As I have mentioned before, I bloody love Dana Brooke. She has plenty of work to do on her in-ring performance but she has developed so much since her NXT debut that I think with time and a little patience she will be a huge asset to the WWE women’s division. However her interference in the submission match between Nattie and Charlotte was just a weird, annoying finish to the match. It reduces Charlotte’s prestige as a champion, as it’s another dodgy finish to help her retain her title. Why couldn’t Charlotte have just won clean? I don’t have a problem with Dana siding with Charlotte as an enforcer of sorts but couldn’t Charlotte have just got one clean win to prove she is a credible champion who can get the job done?

Is Rusev just going to get fed to John Cena?

One of the best moments of Extreme Rules was seeing Rusev MACHKA-ing the ever-loving shit out of Kalisto and claiming the US Title while looking like an utter beast. His and Lana’s performance in the Social Media Lounge on the pre-show was also excellent. An interesting part of the interview with Tom Phillips was a real playing up of the anti-American sentiment from Rusev and Lana. In his feud with Kalisto the rhetoric has always been about squashing the inferior opponent but this switch to more anti-Americanism looks like it is just being used to set up a feud with the returning John Cena. The more Anti-American Rusev gets the more likely it looks that John Cena will use his return on the ultra-patriotic Memorial Day to come after the Bulgarian Brute and his US Title. So is Rusev just going to be a transitional champion? Unfortunately I think this is likely. Is this a good thing? Obviously not. Rusev has huge potential, he is fantastic in ring, brilliant in interviews and promos and his partnership with Lana is endlessly entertaining. The only way Rusev being a transitional champion could be a good thing is if he drops the title soon enough to be in the Money in the Bank match and gets the briefcase. Lana and Rusev with the MITB briefcase would just be a wonderful thing.

Was that IC Title Fatal Fourway the WWE match of the year so far?

Easily the match of the night, the fatal fourway had me on the edge of my seat the whole way through – an explosive start with the Helluva Kick, an epic Cesaro Swing, so many false finishes, every man playing their part brilliantly, it was a superb example of how good multi-person matches can be. Personally I would have preferred Cesaro to get the win after KO and Zayn took each other out of the equation but The Mix retaining also worked really well. So where does it rank in the WWE matches of the year so far? Personally I still prefer Zayn v Nakamura but this is a close second, beating out the Fastlane Triple Threat title match and Wrestlemania IC Title ladder match.

Other questions we have –

Do you think Chris Jericho has got all the thumbtacks out yet?

Seriously, that was brutal. I didn’t think they were going to use them until it actually happened, but fair play, it was a hell of a spot. WWE does slowly seem to be pushing the boundaries of PG, with occasional blood and moments like this.

Will Corbin finally be allowed to wrestle someone who isn’t Dolph Ziggler?

Surely that’s the end of the feud now?

Are they ever going to stop bullying Byron Saxton?

“Byron, if you were on life support I’d unplug you & charge my iPhone” That’s the second time JBL has wished Byron dead in a week. #BeAStar

Will Anderson and Gallows make a run at the WWE Tag Team Titles now?

The Club beat The Usos fairly comfortably at Extreme Rules and The New Day overcame The Vaudevillians. Whilst Gotch and English will probably get another shot at the titles, due to Kofi’s shenanigans last night, it seems doubtful they will win. WWE.com is certainly hinting at the possibility of The Club going after the tag team gold, so it will be interesting to see how the tag team division looks after Raw.

So there we go, plenty of questions after the latest PPV, and hopefully we’ll get some answers tonight on Raw. So what are you pondering after Extreme Rules? Think you’ve got the answers to our questions? Let us know in the comments or take a metaphorical kendo stick/mop to me on Twitter at @CellarDoorChris. You can also tweet UK Wrestling Fans at @WrestlingFansGB.

The Brand Split – Part Two

So its been a few weeks since I shared my feelings on splitting up the roster so I’m back to finish off the roster by highlighting the talent that should headline SmackDown.  Now ill be honest I don’t watch SmackDown that often, and the reason is because they repeat a lot of the same matches that we already saw on Monday.  It’s stale and with the current crop of talent there is no reason for it to be at all.

If you read my last article (of course you did it was great) then you saw that it was all about the younger crop of talent taking over the flagship show and building up fresh faces.  I make the move that you move more of the veterans to Thursday, if you want people to watch then why not have the most popular faces in the company be involved in there own separate feuds while also bringing up young talent to this show first.  Raw seems to congested with all the recent call ups that come from NXT leaving that show a little flat and not having much to do on Raw so spread them out and have them start with more established talent.

Given the current story line it would make sense to me that this would all lead to the return of Triple H and leading he and his wife to take over a new challenge being on SmackDown.  So if I were doing the booking I would split the rest of the top talent up this way.

  1. John Cena
john-cena-shirtless-body-1

Source: healthyceleb.com

Regardless of what you think a feel about John Cena the truth is that he still is the biggest draw in wrestling. Cena did a great job last year with his US title run and helping get the best of the call ups like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.  Cena is getting closer to 40 and this time in his career it would time for him to put over some of the younger guys since he has been doing his best work of his career before the injury.

  1. Randy Orton

The Viper and 14 year veteran is the next man up to get off the injured reserved list.  With all the same reason that just gave for Cena for helping push current talent this would be the best use of Orton’s talents giving that he cane an good match with almost anyone on the card.

  1. Dolph Ziggler

The man that just can’t seem to get over the hump and resident workhorse is my biggest concern considering the congestion on Raw.  Dolph has been booked in some of the worst storylines in the past few years but always seems to make the most of it.  He’s one of the most over talents on the roster and is have never been treated as such.

  1. Chris Jericho

This one doesn’t need much explanation either; Jericho is one of the best technical wrestlers of all time and can be booked with anyone to help establish new talent.  Jericho can lose over one hundred matches in a row and still be the man people come to see.

  1. Ryback

Yeah I know he is probably done with the company at this time.  I would have liked to see more from the “BIG GUY” given his size and what he offers in the ring.  I enjoyed his last heel run with the right people around him he could have pushed him a lot higher than where he was.

  1. Sheamus
sheamus-ic-title-600x250

Source: ringsidenews.com

Multi-time world champ, who is often left with nothing to do on the card.  My biggest problem with Sheamus is the 50/50 booking; early in his career he was booked very strong.  Having feuds with John Cena and Triple H defeating both men on multiple occasions to losing most of his matches is something I can’t understand.

  1. Dean Ambrose

Personally I am not a fan of Dean Ambrose, but I do see what he offers to the product.  There is something missing from character that doesn’t seem to always fit with his in ring style.  This would be the reason that he needs to be separated form the crop of talent.

  1. Baron Corbin

The new monster heel that if booked the right way can carry that the same gimmick be a top guy for the next ten years.  Look at Kane and follow the same pattern, he doesn’t have to win every match but if booked strong would be great to see against anyone of this list.

  1. Triple H

Triple H just signed a new three year performance contract that would more than likely see him in some big matches before he hangs the boots up for good.  With some of the talent that is NXT I do believe that there are a few more dream matches that could still happen in the next three years.

  1. The Miz

The last man on this list and the Current Intercontinental is one of the best heels on all of wrestling.  His in-ring work has improved of the years having promos and Miz TV on one program would help make it a more impactful segment.

I guess we have to wait and see how this will all play out, I feel that with Summer Slam around the coroner a match between Shane and Triple H would have more meaning.

Agree or Disagree? Let me know on Twitter at @itsthecurb or at our official Twitter on @wrestlingfansGB. You can also find the link to the latest episode of my podcast ‘The Podcast of 1004 Holds’ on my personal Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Francisco

WAW TV Taping Weekend 2 – Afternoon Review

 

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As some of you might be aware, WAW are in the process of gaining multiple TV deals to show British Wrestling worldwide. There is apparently some big name channels looking at their product, and with that being the case they returned to their home base of Epic Studios in Norwich on Saturday 14th May for their second batch of episodes to be taped.

Pre Show – Meet and Greet

As they do for all shows, WAW hosted a meet and greet prior to the show. It costs £10 to get in and you can meet WAW home talent for free. Well known Independent stars will charge for signed 8x10s and the big names will charge a higher fee for autographs and take professional pictures in the booth, which cost £10 each. First I met some of the well-known Indy guys at the show. These included Luke Hawx, Nathan Cruz and Jonny Storm. Also in this category was Lisa Marie Varon, better known as Victoria and Tara. She is making her comeback to the ring at the Bellatrix Female Warriors show as part of the weekend on the Sunday. By the time you are reading this, this has probably already taken place. It was great to meet her! Then came the big one though. I’ll let the photo do the talking.

So that was sweet (or too sweet if I may). Then came the tapings. Three episodes were to be taped in the afternoon and three more in the evening. I was only to make the afternoon tapings unfortunately. Here are the rest of my photos taken with talent. Below these will be the rundown of the show.

Episode 1

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The show opened with a dark comedy segment featuring the owners of WAW, Ricky and Saraya Knight. They joked about Saraya rarely wearing a dress, which she indeed was at the show. Saraya wanted to throw some t-shirts but Ricky said it loses him money. They come to an agreement but the segment features some dissention between the two, which was a very nice piece of foreshadowing. All in all, a very funny, improvised comedy segment to kick off the show for the live crowd.

The taping started with the intro video on the titantron, before some dancers came out. It’s 2016, we don’t need dancers at a wrestling show. This segment went on for what seemed like ages, and ages, and ages, and ages. In reality, it was actually about a minute and half, but it was unnecessary.

A 6-man cruiserweight match kicked off the show since Bubblegum was moved to a different match in the days leading to the show. Decent match, not the typical cruiserweight spotfest but there were some moves that looked cool. A lot of brawling between all six men. Kip Sabian picked up the win with the Coup de Grâce move made famous in recent times by Finn Balor. Solid opener, but, like all other matches on the show, it was very short and could have done with a few more minutes. I give it 2*.

 

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This match was very good, as you would expect from Nathan Cruz, but it was much too short. It went maybe four minutes maximum, and I get that they’re taping for TV, but they really should have given the matches more time than they did. Aron Frost is very impressive for a big man. He’s 6’4 from Oslo, Norway. At just 26 I imagine he will make his way further afield around the UK and Europe. He went over in a very good match that should have been longer. Purely for the length I give it just 2*.

 

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Now I don’t like to start a review with a burial, but Brad Slayer is no good as the finish showed. Don’t get me wrong he has potential as he is young, but at this stage he is very green. He’s very over with the fans. Ruffneck on the other hand is a genius of heel. He is the closest thing the UK has to Kevin Owens. I believe he is moving to the US soon, so that will be our loss and America’s gain. Prior to the match though was the first introduction of the night of the WAW Commissioner, Scott Hall. He came out to shake hands with both competitors and to observe the national anthem. Brad shakes his hand no problem, but Ruffneck, the dastardly heel that he is, refuses. Razor responds with a toothpick to the face. It was a decent match but as I said earlier Slayer isn’t the best.

The finish came when Brad Slayer rebounded off of the ropes into a back body drop from Ruffneck.  Slayer didn’t flip anywhere near as far as he needed to, and, in an awful looking bump, he landed on his head. I think the entire building reacted to the landing. Ruffneck demanded that Steve Lynskey count to ten. He did, and Ruffneck won the title by knockout, whilst Brad was lying in the ring unmoving. It seemed that he was ok, and that this was the planned finish. It’s just that it was a stupid bump to be taking. I can confirm that after the show I saw Brad Slayer on the streets of Norwich with Kip Sabian as I was leaving so it appears he was fine. It was very scary at the time though. He was even able to wrestle on the show in the evening. This concluded Episode 1 of the tapings. I give this match 1.5*.

Episode 2

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A great technical match would be expected from these two and that’s what we, albeit a short one. It started off when Dynamite’s music played for Isaksen’s entrance, and then Isaksen fell off of the top rope whilst posing. Then, hit Dynamite’s music for his entrance, and laughter from the crowd. This match was short, but a very good British technical style match. Robbie Dynamite hit a diving headbutt and transitioned into an armbar for the win. 3*.

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Wow. This was BAD. We all know the reputation Mr. Anderson has, so they put him with a dude in his forties who weighs 350lbs. Good one! Anderson did his usual schtick with the dropdown mic. Kendo cut him off after the first Anderson. Anderson immediately gained control and finished the intro. Thankfully this was quick. Kendo began to go for what appeared to be a Vader bomb but his foot fell in between the bottom and the middle rope about five times. At this point, Kendo thought “F*** It” and did a splash…FOR THE WIN!!! This match was horrible, luckily it was about 3 minutes. Why they would book Anderson like this is beyond me. I was in attendance for the infamous Sharmell vs Jenna match at TNA Victory Road 2009. This match was nowhere near that bad, but it was bad. 0.5*

Roy Knight of the UK Hooligans vs Bubblegum

There is no graphic for this match as it was a late replacement made on Thursday. Roy Knight, also known as The Zebra Kid, has been one of the UK’s finest and most controversial performers over the last 15 years, to the point where I once witnessed him being arrested at Norwich Airport many years ago, but I digress. This match was great. Just great. This was my first time seeing Bubblegum live. The man is a wonderful professional wrestler to watch. At one point, his Manchester City roots came out as he began to sing “Blue Moon” whilst on the top rope. The finish though, SUCKED!!! Bubblegum covers Roy but only manages a 2 count. The referee then proceeds to distract himself with an uncovered turnbuckle (which he openly let Roy use on Bubblegum, by the way). Bubblegum is pissed that it was only a two, and proceeds to push the referee whilst he is sorting out the turnbuckle. You see where this is going, right? Roy Knight hits Bubblegum with a clothesline. At this time, the referee turns round to see, not Bubblegum, but Roy looking at him and he thinks “HE’S the only man standing, HE must have pushed me”. I knew what was coming, the whole crowd knew what was coming. There wasn’t a damn thing we could do. The referee raised his hand to call for the bell, and to the dismay of everyone in the crowd, he called a disqualification. At this point I was thinking it was maybe a 4* match. I cannot possibly give it 4* with that finish. 3.5*.

Episode 3

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The Midas Stable came out accompanied by their manager, “The Norfolk Paul Heyman”, Tommy Lee. I just gave him that nickname by the way. Imagine a short bald bloke, with a miniscule of Heyman’s promo ability and the thickest Norfolk accent you’ve ever heard. I just realised I could have skipped the description of his look. Here you are.

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Anyway, the match. The legends team came out individually to pops increasing after each entrance. Just Joe came out first, followed by Williams and then lastly by X-Pac who had Sean Waltman on his titantron despite being promoted as X-Pac and announced by the MC as 6-Pac. This match got a bit of time compared to some, but it was still short. X-Pac wasn’t in long. He did a minute in the middle before coming in for the finish. He hit the wheel kick, he hit the bronco buster before winning with the X-Factor. It was decent. X-Pac was blown up at the end of the match without doing much. 2.5*

 

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This match was just two green guys in the death spot. Nothing more, nothing less. Nobody cared about this match at all. I will point out that Nemesis had a completely different gimmick to the graphic shows. He was an army guy, coming out in camo clothes and a British flag. The fans call Keegan “Sharon Osbourne” for some reason, apparently he looks like her which I’m sure is a massive complement to a 245lb man in his mid-twenties. He also had a badass theme song and won with a sharpshooter. 1.25*

 

After a long show filled with angles, next came perhaps the biggest angle in British Wrestling today, if this makes TV that is. The former WSX star and current RQW champion Luke Hawx was out first to “Hit a Mutha*****” by Three 6 Mafia followed by the Knight Family’s Zak Knight. Zak is known to the casual fan as Paige’s brother who didn’t make the WWE from the “Fighting with My Family” documentary shown on Channel 4 a few years back. Scott Hall came out before the match as the Commissioner to observe the national anthems of both Great Britain and the USA. This was a very good match.

After maybe 12 minutes, Tony Valentine ran in with a chair through the crowd but the instant attack was thwarted by Zak. Out came Zak’s father, and the owner of the WAW, Ricky Knight. Ricky hit Luke with the chair while the ref was down, handing the title to his son, before taking it from him as he hit Zak with the chair and placed Luke’s hand over Zak’s lifeless body to win his the match and confirm him as the unified champion. Saraya and Roy came out to confront Ricky as he got on the mic. Ricky proclaimed “I’m done with WAW, I’m done being Paige’s dad. Zak, I can make you champion and I can make you un-champion”. Un-Champion. UN-CHAMPION!  That’s my new favourite word. During the evening show, they teased a battle for power between the owner, Ricky Knight and the commissioner, Scott Hall. Zak Knight in storyline owns 48% of the company, so expect him to become involved in this storyline since he isn’t getting a rematch.

 

I would definitely recommend the WAW TV tapings if anyone is in the Norwich area. They are always good shows and bring a host of stars over every time. WAW will be back at Epic Studios for TV Tapings on the 2nd and 3rd of July. The only matches confirmed so far are Luke Hawx vs Mr. Anderson and Victoria vs Saraya Knight. WAW tour the Norfolk and Suffolk area as well. This Sunday (22nd) Scott Hall will be at their show in Lowestoft, Suffolk. Tickets are still available. Just go to wawuk.co.uk and click the ticket tailor links. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @SCFack and let me know what’s up! Also remember to follow the blog’s account @wrestlingfansGB. After over 2450 words. That’s all from me, I’ll catch you down the road.

My arms are killing me now by the way.

 

 

Our Extreme Rules 2016 Predictions

As Extreme Rules approaches on Sunday night we here at UK Wrestling Fans have put on our thinking caps and our clever clogs and come up with our predictions for each match on the card. Read on to see how we think the event will go down

Dolph Ziggler v Baron Corbin (No DQ match)

WWE extreme rules Baron corbin v Dolph ziggler
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
This match seemed to come out of nowhere, with Corbin and Ziggler making very few televised appearances in the past couple of weeks before turning up on Smackdown this week. There really is only one sensible outcome to this Kickoff show match up – Corbin gets the win with a brutal showing, getting the better of the feud and moving on to his next challenge. If this doesn’t happen then a potential future monster heel will be undermined before he even gets started.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
Little to be said on this one from the team, except that Ziggler’s win over Sheamus on Smackdown made him look like a more credible victor.

My prediction: Baron Corbin
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: Baron Corbin (83% of votes)

The Usos v The Club (Tornado Tag Team match)

WWE extreme rules the usos v the club
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
The sidenote to the Extreme Rules main event between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles is the first Tornado Tag Team match we’ve had in a long time. Hopefully the stipulation will freshen up a match we’ve seen a gazillion times already, but I’m not holding out much hope. I reckon The Club will get the win to balance out Reigns’ near inevitable victory at the end of the night.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
Another match which the team have little to say about, likely due to the fact we’ve already seen it plenty of times and it doesn’t feel like it wins much.

My prediction: The Club
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: The Club (67%)

Chris Jericho v Dean Ambrose (Asylum match)

WWE extreme rules dean ambrose v chris jericho
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
As a big fan of both Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose I’m looking forward to this one, I just hope they’re not too restricted by PG limitations. Again the right result is pretty clear here – Ambrose needs to emerge victorious, end the feud and get revenge on Chris Jericho, revenge possibly involving the straitjacket. The conflict between the two has been good, if not great, and has a few stand out moments but it’s time to end it. And to end it with Ambrose winning to maintain his place near the top of the card.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
One of the team agrees with me that Y2J will end up wearing the straitjacket, whilst the one person not predicting an Ambrose win is doing so because they have so little faith in the WWE to do the right thing.

My prediction: Darren Ambrose
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: Dean Ambrose (83%)

The Miz(c) v Cesaro v Kevin Owens v Sami Zayn – Fatal Fourway for the Intercontinental Championship

WWE extreme rules intercontinental title fatal fourway
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
This is by far the hardest match to predict as current IC champion The Miz defends against Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens under fatal fourway rules. I think the most likely scenario is that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will continue to feud after this match, it just depends whether it is over the IC title or not. Given how personal and deeply entrenched the animosity between the two is it doesn’t seem necessary to involve a belt. Therefore I think the most likely outcome of the match is that KO and Zayn take each other out, allowing one of the other competitors to win the belt. This would add a new layer to the Zayn v Owens feud and also give another wrestler the prestige of being IC title. The Miz has been a decent champion, getting up to his usual smug, self absorbed antics, which have been made even more odious by the return of Maryse. However Cesaro really has the ability to elevate the belt so I’m backing him to pick up the IC title and have some more entertaining encounters with the Miz as the Awesome One attempts to win the championship back.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
Interestingly all the votes for the winner of this match went to either The Miz or Cesaro, with the Swiss Superman picking up ⅔ of those votes.

My prediction: Cesaro
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: Cesaro (67%)

Kalisto(c) v Rusev – US Title Match

WWE extreme rules US Title kalisto v rusev
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
To be honest, apart from a surprisingly entertaining match on the Payback Kickoff show with Ryback, Kalisto’s US title run has been flat, not helped by the WWE not treating the belt or Kalisto like a big deal. That has changed somewhat recently with Rusev’s introduction to the title picture, the man is a legitimate monster (aside from that fucking stupid loss to Sin Cara last week) and for the first time in months the US title is being fought for on the main card, rather than the kick off show. I bloody love RuRu and I don’t think it’s just my markdom for the Bulgarian Brute that makes me think he’ll get the win here. Unfortunately I think the reason he will win is so he can be the man that John Cena defeats for the belt when he returns on Memorial Day. John Cena beating a monster foreign heel, as he returns several months earlier than planned, on an American holiday that celebrates the US troops is the kind of thing that gives Vince McMahon a trouser ripping erection. Try not to dwell on that image. Anyway Rusev could certainly build the title’s prestige by going on a strong run with the belt and crushing and machka-ing everybody in his path but will more likely be fed to John do do do do Cena. Either way, I think the Bulgarian will walk out of Extreme Rules with the US championship.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
One of only two matches where the team is in 100% agreement as to the winner – everyone thinks Rusev is taking the US title belt home with him. Various other predictions have been made, including the playing up of an injury to Kalisto to help Rusev win, a Lana distraction to give the Bulgarian the win and that after Rusev wins he will be squashed by Cena.

My prediction: Rusev
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: Rusev (100%)

Charlotte (c) v Natalya – Submission Match for the WWE Women’s Championship

extreme rules WWE Women's Title charlotte v natalya
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
I can’t see any result but Charlotte retaining, as much as I’d love to see Natalya get at least one run with the Women’s Title before she ends her WWE career. There are just too many good female faces on the roster at the moment and a lack of top level heels, so keeping the title on the heel makes sense.

I see Charlotte’s victory coming in one of two ways – either she uses some underhanded tactic to live up to Ric Flair’s promise that he would be there in spirit, or she gets the win clean without her father, leading to tension between the two Flairs. Either way, Charlotte to retain.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
Not much being said here, except a couple of people wanting Natalya to win but predict Charlotte getting the victory.

My prediction: Charlotte
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: Charlotte (83%)

The New Day (c) v Vaudevillians – Tag Team Title Match

WWE extreme rules tag team titles new day v vaudevillians
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
The Vaudevillians have been excellent since their debut but I just don’t think the WWE are ready to put the belts on such a new team, especially since there are far more popular teams on the roster. Not much more to say than that really.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
Another unanimous choice as the team predicts a New Day victory.

My prediction: The New Day
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: The New Day (100%)

Roman Reigns (c) v AJ Styles – Extreme Rules Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

WWE World Heavyweight Championship roman reigns aj styles extreme rules
Photo: WWE.com

My thoughts:
Another easy prediction – Roman Reigns wins. AJ Styles, Mr TNA, is not taking this title from Reigns. Obviously we’ll have interference from both the Usos and the Club, unless WWE tries to make Reigns even more of an underdog by having the Club decimate and take out the Usos in their tag match earlier in the night. Realistically though I expect all four of the men to get involved and Reigns to win through.

Obviously Extreme Rules allows for outside interference and therefore a possibility of an appearance by Finn Balor, HHH or a returning Seth Rollins. I don’t think we’ll see Balor, as there has been no tension teased between The Club that could lead to a new leader being revealed. This could be the point where that tension begins though as we could easily see a miscue from the Club lead to Reigns beating Styles. I don’t see Reigns losing the belt which means we’re unlikely to see HHH or Rollins turn up, unless it’s just another way to make Reigns look stronger than ever.

UK Wrestling Fans team thoughts:
The team is largely expecting to retain the title but a few further predictions were made, including that Seth Rollins will return, that it will only be interesting if Finn Balor turns up and that neither of those things will happen and the only shenanigans will be the involvement of The Club and The Usos.

My prediction: Roman Reigns
UK Wrestling Fans team prediction: Roman Reigns (83%)

My final thoughts:
I think this will be a solid but unremarkable PPV. There’s little to get majorly excited about, I’m not expecting anything major to happen storyline wise, just a couple of feuds being put to bed, a couple of new champions crowned and probably no Balor debut.

UK Wrestling Fans final thoughts:
The rest of the team agree that there is unlikely to be much else to comment on, with one prediction of a Balor return and a prediction that we’ll get at least one McMahon segment. Which, let’s face it, is probably a pretty safe bet.

So there you go, we’ve looked into our crystal balls and that’s what we’ve seen. What do you think is going to happen this Sunday? Who’s going to win? Are there any major surprises you see coming? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WrestlingFansGB. Alternatively yell abuse at me or tell me how great I am at @CellarDoorChris.

NXT Review & Analysis – 18/05/2016

With the next NXT Takeover fast approaching this week’s NXT helped to shape the event’s card further, with another match and stipulation being added to the line up. We also got a surprise Nakamura appearance, the potential dissolution of a stable and a match with major implications for the women’s division. So what went down and what did we make of it? Find out below…

Austin Aries & Shinsuke Nakamura defeat Blake & Murphy by pinfall

The show kicked off with a tag match that resulted from an altercation between Austin Aries and Blake & Murphy last week – the former tag team champions were to take on Aries and a partner of his choice. Aries came down to the ring looking very confident and it was soon clear why – his partner was revealed to be the King of Strong Style.

For a team who have not tagged before Aries and Nakamura worked well together, controlling the match and earning the win after Nakamura refused to tag in Aries and instead hit the Kinshasa on Murphy for the pin. After the match Alexa Bliss walked out on Blake & Murphy who looked confused before Blake then left Murphy at ringside.

Bayley was then interviewed backstage about facing Nia Jax in the main event that night. The former champ said she wasn’t afraid of the Samoan, that she would beat her and then get back to focussing on the NXT Women’s Championship.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Take a look at the <a href=”https://twitter.com/WWENXT”>@WWENXT</a&gt; Women’s Champion <a href=”https://twitter.com/WWEAsuka”>@WWEAsuka</a&gt;! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WWENXT?src=hash”>#WWENXT</a&gt; <a href=”https://t.co/jMCgG5LdkE”>https://t.co/jMCgG5LdkE</a></p>&mdash; WWE (@WWE) <a href=”https://twitter.com/WWE/status/733096291580837888″>May 19, 2016</a></blockquote>

Next we got a video package on Asuka, which spliced some angry young people called Halestorm performing a song called Mayhem with highlights from the Empress of Tomorrow’s NXT career to date.

Thoughts:

  • As much as I really like Asuka it still makes me sad to see Bayley lose the title. It deflates the wacky waving inflatable flailing arm tube man in my heart.
  • I really thought Aries was going to turn on Nakamura during or after the tag match match, especially after Nakamura refused to tag him in. Aries has talked about making a statement and that getting to the top of NXT will take “a little extra initiative” so I thought Aries’ plan was to make that statement by taking out Nakamura. I was wrong, for this week at least.
  • Alexa Bliss walking out on Blake and Murphy is no big surprise, it’s been teased for a while now. The potential split of Blake and Murphy from each other is an interesting move that I didn’t see coming though.

After the Asuka video No Way Jose was interviewed backstage, where he talked about his positive attitude and sense of fun but made it clear that, while he was in NXT to have a fiesta, most importantly he is there to fight.

We then saw Carmella backstage talking about what a great job Enzo & Cass are doing and once again declaring her intention to win the NXT Women’s Title.

Carmella defeats Peyton Royce by submission.

The Princess of Staten Island then took on the self proclaimed ‘Venus Flytrap of NXT’ Peyton Royce. Both women got some good offence in, with Peyton Royce looking particularly aggressive, before Carmella ended the match with the inverted triangle submission.

Thoughts:

  • Peyton Royce is an able and improving in-ring performer but her gimmick is all rather vague at the moment – she kind of has a Poison Ivy thing going on, as pointed out by the commentators, but her carrying a flower to the ring doesn’t seem to mean much and reminds me a bit of the Shining Stars with their hibiscus flowers.
  • To be honest I think it’s hard to see Carmella winning the NXT Women’s Title, especially any time soon. Not because she’s not a good performer but currently we have Asuka, Nia Jax and Bayley at the top of the division (in kayfabe). Below that I’d say is Alexa Bliss and then Carmella. Finally you have the jobber/newbie level of Peyton Royce, Liv Morgan, Tessa Blanchard etc. At the moment there doesn’t seem to be anyone in one tier who is quite ready to move up to the next level (though this match certainly didn’t do Royce any harm on that front).

We saw a recap of the brawl that happened in Portland between Samoa Joe and Finn Balor and William Regal’s subsequent announcement that the title match at June’s Takeover would be inside a steel cage.

The next segment saw Alexa Bliss, Blake and Murphy backstage with Bliss dressing down the former tag champs for their poor strong of results lately. She then walked out on the pair, seemingly breaking away from the tag team. Blake and Murphy stood there for a short while before Murphy walked away from Blake.

Johnny Gargano & Tomasso Ciampa defeat Rob Ryzin & Danny Burch by pinfall

This was a fairly straightforward squash victory for the team of Gargano & Ciampa, who showed some great teamwork and coordination as they got the win with a superkick/running knee combo.

In his office William Regal then confirms that American Alpha will take on The Revival for the NXT tag team titles at Takeover in June.

Nia Jax defeats Bayley by pinfall

In a rematch from NXT: London Bayley took on the powerful Nia Jax, with the Samoan once again using her size and power advantage to control most of the match. Bayley managed to get a few flurries in, focussing her attack on Jax’s head with strikes and choke holds. However it was never long before the powerhouse regained control of the bout. Jax used a far more strategic approach this time than when the two faced off in the UK, focussing on Bayley’s left arm to reduce the risk of falling to the guillotine choke again. It seemed to work too as when the former champion tried to lock in the hold she was unable to cinch it in and apply the full pressure. Bayley never gave up but when she hurt her knee during a landing her fate was all but sealed. Jax worked on the knee for a short while before landing a big leg drop over the back of Bayley’s head and getting the pin.

Thoughts:

  • Great storytelling in this match – Nia Jax said she’d got better and she has – she had a strategy that was specifically based on how she lost last time. Bayley sold the power offence brilliantly and targeting body parts had an actual purpose. Good stuff.
  • I wonder if this will lead to Asuka v Nia Jax or whether Bayley will get back into contention and it will be a triple threat match.
  • Gargano & Ciampa’s tandem moves are brilliant, it gives them a USP in the tag team division.
  • So looks like Alexa has left Blake & Murphy. But have the former champs split up or is this just a bump in the road for them? I’ve got to be honest, without Alexa I’m worried for them. Even more so as singles competitors.
  • The recap of the announcement of the steel cage match was brilliant, Joe and Finn looked like they were in trouble with a strict headmaster.

So after several NXT episodes that had good action but were perhaps a little light on narrative and story progression we got a lot more of that this week, which was definitely a good thing. The next Takeover is shaping up nicely and should be another excellent show from the developmental brand.

What did you make of this week’s NXT? Do my thoughts make me a stupid idiot? Let me know on @CellarDoorChris and follow UK Wrestling Fans on @WrestlingFansGB

The Top 5 Questions We’re Asking After This Week’s WWE Raw

So the last Raw before Extreme Rules is done and dusted and, like most go-home editions of the flagship show, it was largely focussed on adding a little more intrigue, story and emotion to the feuds that will feature at the upcoming PPV. But alongside that we did have a debut, a time machine and a new match type announced so, without further ado, here are the 5 questions we’re asking following WWE Raw…

What exactly is an Asylum Match?

So we’re getting a totally new(ish) match format for the Dean Ambrose v Chris Jericho bout at Extreme Rules – an Asylum Match. So what does this mean? What are the rules? Essentially it appears at this point to be a No-DQ cage match where the only way to win is by pinfall or submission and there are Dean Ambrose related weapons available to use, such as a barbed wire 2×4 (not, you know, the barbed wire baseball bat Ambrose was gifted by Mick Foley), a strait jacket and, of course, a potted plant. On Raw these were suspended just above the top of the cage with cables, which is going to make it fiddly to actually get your hands on one of them during the match. So maybe they’ll just be lying around the ring? Hopefully this will be an opportunity for Ambrose and Jericho to innovate and come up with something new in their match but most likely, partly because of the PG limitations they will be working under, this could be a one-off, slightly disappointing gimmick match.

How good was the match/segment order on Raw?

Was great to see the US title and Women’s Championship segments receive the highest positions on the card, it really helps to elevate the two belts and makes them seem like a much bigger deal. It also helped that Rusev looked like a total beast again – he destroyed Sin Cara, cost Kalisto his match and then hit that vicious kick to the back of the head before locking in the Accolade. Well done that brute.

Charlotte also had a decent performance, almost turning the North Carolina crowd against a Flair, whilst also looking like she was starting to lose her patience with her dad, which could make for some interesting storylines in the future – especially if Charlotte wins without Ric on Sunday.

Will Dana Brooke seize this opportunity?

There seems to be a lot of people saying that Dana Brooke’s call up from NXT has been accelerated due to injuries in the women’s division and now, with Emma’s recent back injury, there’s even more of a spotlight on Brooke. As NXT fans will know, the pro bodybuilder improved massively during her time on the developmental brand. I think the plan was probably to have her there a little longer but she’s shown in her first two matches that she can hang on the main roster, even if she is not the pinnacle of it just yet. So will she make the most of this feud with Becky Lynch to cement her place on the roster? She’s off to a good start with two wins over the Irish Lass Kicker, one clean and one dirty.

Also, a side note: it was awesome to see Dana break out that half cartwheel thing in her entrance again.

Is there any limit to the number of stupid things the commentary team will say on Raw?

Michael Cole – “It’s all about #ExtremeRules for AJ Styles!” – no you tit, it’s all about Extreme Rules, he doesn’t ever say #ExtremeRules.

JBL – “He’s never had to face anyone like Roman Reigns before!” – except, you know, Roman Reigns. At Payback. Less than 3 weeks ago. Cretin.

JBL – “HG Wells would love this!” Cole – “Who?!”. Seriously? Cole was once a journalist who covered presidential campaigns, wars and the Waco stand off, so is likely fairly intelligent, and yet he doesn’t know who the author of The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine and The Invisble Man is? Idiot.

JBL details some of the wrestling history to have occured in Greensboro, Saxton responds by saying “I wasn’t even born then!” JBL – “Too bad you were ever”. What?! JBL essentially wished that Saxton was dead. Way to Be A Star (™).

When is Enzo Amore coming back?

In a WWE.com exclusive backstage interview Big Cass said that Enzo is “ready” to come back, but “you won’t know when and you won’t know where”. So when will Smacktalker Skywalker return? The Raw after Extreme Rules would make sense, as Enzo & Cass will feel that they are in line for a shot at whichever team out of the Vaudevillians and the New Day emerges victorious at the PPV. Plus with Big Cass so easily dispatching the Dudleyz on Raw it kind of feels like that whole rivalry is coming to an end. So will Enzo join Cass in disrupting the tag team victory celebration next Monday? I wouldn’t bet against it.

And a few quickfire questions –

How is the New Day getting away with these jokes?

Last week they slipped a race joke in, this week they alluded to masturbation. How are they doing it in these PG days? Then again John Cena does have a move called ‘The 5 Knuckle Shuffle’ which, let us not forget, is a euphemism for wanking.

Where is Sasha?

Like, for reals? I don’t think it’s cool for the crowd to chant for her when two good performers like Becky and Dana are in the ring but surely Sasha is too good for WWE to be wasting? Let’s hope she re-emerges in the title picture after Extreme Rules. Maybe with Paige in the mix too, since she has a recent singles win over Charlotte to her name.

How dead was that crowd for the Shining Stars?

I actually thought their in ring performance was pretty strong, even if the pre-match promo was lame. The crowd really didn’t give a flying fuck about any of it though, did they?

Also, have the Shining Stars stolen The Ascension’s tag team finisher?

The Shining Star looks suspiciously similar to The Fall of Man to me. Admittedly The Shining Stars use an enziguri/leg sweep combo rather than a spinning elbow/leg sweep, but still…

Where is Stephanie on the heel/face spectrum this week?

She argued a bit with Shane but put the Dudleyz in their place, improved the IC Title tag match and slapped Ric Flair. Oh and she was very sweet doing the ‘You can’t teach that’ gesture.

Isn’t it great how much thought they’ve put into the Corbin v Ziggler match at Extreme Rules?

/sarcasm

So there we go, that’s what’s got us scratching our heads this week. What are you asking this week? Do you have answers to our questions? Just want to yell random abuse at a dude on the internet? Get in touch in the comments or on Twitter @WrestlingFansGB or @CellarDoorChris.