The news that John Cena was to undergo shoulder surgery (as of this writing, I believe he should have already completed the procedure) shocked the wrestling world yesterday, and we’ve spent the last 24 hours or so trying to absorb, analyze and appreciate the fallout.

The biggest issue, at least in a global WWE sense, is how Cena’s absence will affect Wrestlemania - No matter what the actual booking was going to be, John was to have a major role in the grandest stage of them all, and when you combine his injury with the others in the company. . . Well, let’s just say I imagine there’s some panic happening over there at Titan Tower.

Relax, WWE.  I’m here to help.

The way I see it, there’s three real ways that WWE can handle this news, from a philosophical standpoint.

Number one -  They treat business as usual, continuing on the path they were seeming to head down before the injury news broke, figuring that since WWE is really the only game in town (and has the New Japan members to fall back on coming out of Mania), they’ll be fine with a roster that is mainly on the disabled list.

Number two -  They adopt a safe booking strategy centered around nostalgia (hereby known as NAIstalgia), with the sole goal of creating a card that gets people excited for Mania itself, even if it doesn’t further anything for the remainder of 2016.

Number three -  WWE treats Wrestlemania 32 as a watershed moment in company history, being the card that signals the coming of a new era, so get on board or get out of the way, dang it!

I’ve put on my Fantasy Booking Hat to take a look at what these three ideas could result in, card wise, and I leave it up to you, dear NAIbors, to make your own judgements on which philosophy you like best.

Option One - Sticking with Current Booking

Roman Reigns vs. Triple H

I really thought we were going to see this match at the Royal Rumble, but based on what happened on RAW this past week, I think we can officially toss that idea out the window.  Come April, this feud will have had close to 6 months to build and percolate, which should result in a pretty exciting main event.

Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker in a career vs. career match

While Brock and Taker haven’t done battle since October, it is technically the last feud either were a part of, and I’m not sure it got the definitive ending it was supposed to at Hell in a Cell.  With no real obvious other choice for either of them at Wrestlemania, putting them in some sort of Last Man Standing, This is it, I mean it! Anybody want a peanut? match would certainly bring some attention to Dallas.

(If you caught the Princess Bride reference, good for you.)

Fatal Four Way for the IC title - Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho vs. Neville

This match addresses a lot of stories all at once.  Dean and Y2J have unfinished business from Night of Champions.  Owens and Neville haven’t liked each other since NXT.  Ambrose and Owens are currently involved in a very heated feud.  It’s got something for everybody!  Plus, it’d be an excellent match that could easily burn 20+ minutes, and with this philosophy, that’s all we’re going for - stalling for time.

The Wyatt Family vs. The League of Nations

Bit of a reach here, but they did have that unusual encounter a few weeks ago, so I’m extrapolating.  As in the previous match, lot of talented wrestlers in one ring means the match can go long while still keeping fan interest.  The Bray vs. Rusev face-off alone would be worth the price of admission.

The Annual Wrestlemania Multi-Team Tag Title Match

Seriously, go back and look at the history of recent Wrestlemanias - This match happens every year.  New Day, Lucha Dragons (assuming Sin Cara is healthy by then), Usos and the Dudleys.  Or whomever.  Another 12-15 minutes booked right there.

Paige vs. Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

It’s taken a long time (too long, for most of us), but the PCB implosion officially reaches its end with this Triple Threat match.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Usually delegated to the pre-show, this match would get some high-profile booking on the show, once again, just to kill time.

Remember, Wrestlemanias are usually four hours, not just three.

The Rock, hosting Wrestlemania, checks the Social Outcasts into the Smackdown Hotel

There’s always got to be some #WrestleSilly at a Wrestlemania, and this is where it’d come from.  The Rock, Bo Dallas and Heath Slater in the same ring?  I’m sold.

Option Two - The Safe, NAIstalgic, Wrestlemania

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar

While it’s not ancient NAIstalgia, a rematch from last year’s Wrestlemania, without the MITB briefcase looming in the background, makes a lot of sense.  Plus, it adds the sixth or seventh ending to the Roman Reigns Road to Redemption.

The Rock vs. Triple H

We’ve been speculating about this match for close to a year now, and this would be the perfect time to make it happen.  Throw Stone Cold in as outside enforcer and you’ve got your entire Attitude Era audience locked up. . . Well, almost. . .

Undertaker vs. Kane

Anyone not sold on the previous match forks over their $9.99 with this one, as the Brothers of Destruction have one more battle before they both head off into the spooky #WrestleMagic sunset.

Dean Ambrose vs. Chris Jericho for the IC title

That Night of Champions booking was so flipping strange, so I have to assume they’re going to have some sort of payoff.

Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

They have history from NXT, they have history from before NXT and provided they can both stay healthy, they’re going to have lots of history in WWE, so why not get Round 1 done at Wrestlemania?

The Wyatt Family vs. a collection of old rivals

More than likely this would be the Big Show (based on RAW), Kalisto (let’s assume they have a quick feud in the winter), Ryback and a returning Daniel Bryan, adding some wistful NAIstalgia to the card.  This seems to be all the Wyatts can do lately - Beat up people they’ve already beaten - So why not keep it going?

New Day vs. The Dudleys vs. The Hardy Boys in a TLC match

With the rash of injuries, WWE will likely be trying to bring all hands on deck for this card, provided those hands don’t belong to Kurt Angle.  (Sad, but true.)  Matt and Jeff would make sense as an addition to the tag team scene and would fit right in with this match type.  It’d be like Mania X7 all over again, except much older, slower and with unicorn horns.

US Title Triple Threat - Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus vs. Ryback

No real NAIstalgia here, but everyone loves a good stable implosion, so why not the League of Nations!

Charlotte vs. Natalya

I know, I know, you’re screaming at your computer screen - ”DC, you moron! Natalya will never wrestle at a Wrestlemania!”  You’re right, you’re right, except that she provides another link to NAIstalgia.

We saw this at an NXT TakeOver a year or two ago - Charlotte vs. Nattie, with Ric Flair and Bret Hart in their corners.  They could do that exact match again, just in front of a much larger crowd.  Easy to book and full of old names - Why wouldn’t they do this?

Stardust vs. Stephen Amell

We’ve known this was going to happen for a while.  Safe, NAIstalgic and a whole lot of fun.  Heck, let’s add it to my current booking Mania as well, since the feud seems to still be happening on Twitter.

Option Three - Stand Back! There’s a New WWE Coming Through!

Author’s Note: In booking this card, which was the one that got this column idea started, I thought about the WWE Roster, and picked out the talents that are, in my opinion, going to be their biggest stars for the next decade.  Then I put them in either a high profile match against a seasoned veteran or put them in the forefront of the title picture, both of which would be a super positive sign heading out of Mania.  Got it?  Good.

Roman Reigns vs. The Rock

Maybe it’s a heel Reigns who gets fussy that The Rock hasn’t been supporting him.  Maybe it’s a heel Rock not wanting Reigns to steal his spotlight.  Maybe it’s just two cousins with nothing but love for each other seeing who is the best.  No matter what, these two clashing would spark a lot of interest.

Why Rock and not Brock or Hunter?  Well, for one thing, Roman is already a pretty big star, regardless of what the IWC thinks, so he doesn’t need to go over on someone as big as Lesnar.  Second, this has family ties (not the Michael P. Keaton ties, the Hart brothers ties), and those feuds always have a little something extra.

The Undertaker vs. Kevin Owens

Besides Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens is THE next big superstar that WWE has right now (and who happens to be healthy).  Not Dean Ambrose. . . Not Bray Wyatt. . . Kevin Owens.  Putting him in a main event level spot at this show sends a definitive message that he’s one of the guys WWE will be built around in the coming years.  The Undertaker, even with the Streak no longer intact, is still THE big dog in the yard, so putting these two together makes a lot of sense.

Want to make it even bigger?  Put Taker’s career on the line, and have Owens win.  That’s the biggest prize of all right there.

Dean Ambrose vs. Triple H

Assuming Trips and Roman Reigns end their feud at Fastlane (or maybe even at the Rumble - Who knows what’s going to happen in the coming weeks?), Ambrose is the next logical guy for HHH to have his Terminator sights set on.  Ambrose, as much as people love him, isn’t on the same tier as Reigns or Owens, but he’s not too far away either.  A victory over Triple H might be what catapults him into a legitimate main event guy.

Bray Wyatt vs. Brock Lesnar

Doc Manson and I awarded Wyatt with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Criminal Misuse, and I stand by that, but I will say this - If Bray Wyatt is the first man to pin Brock Lesnar since ending The Streak, you immediately erase the vast majority of the questionable booking decisions he’s endured over his career.

Beating Lesnar makes Bray a bonafide guy and gives you another main eventer to build around.  That’s what this is all about, right?

Neville vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho isn’t at the level of the other “veterans” on this list (Sorry, Reese, but it’s true), but he is certainly worthy of a spot on this card, and Neville is the guy he should face.  Y2J is always better as a heel anyway, and the match itself could be a show-stealer.

Kalisto wins the United States title, Rusev wins the Intercontinental title

Both of these guys could be main eventers if booked right, and these wins would put them on a path that could potentially lead there.  Make the matches whatever you want but those bouts need to end with these guys raising the belts over their heads.

Oh, and bring back the tank.  I loved that thing.

New Day vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys in TLC

I never said the matches would be all different, did I?  This match gives New Day another boost (not that they need much more) and could be a sign solely in the execution that WWE was stepping in a more PG13 direction.  Bring on the brutality!

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks

This would be, in my booking, the Divas Revolution we always wanted but never got.  Make it a ladder match for the new and improved Womens championship and now we’re really cooking?

Plus, Ric Flair would be banned from the arena. . . In fact, he can’t even be in Texas. . . My booking, my rules.

Stardust wins the ATG Battle Royal

Maybe he wipes off the paint at the end and becomes Cody Rhodes again, maybe he doesn’t, but Stardust has a definitive victory in this event, which would signify him becoming a mid-major to major player in WWE in 2016.

So that’s it. . . That’s the “Winds of Change” Wrestlemania booking ideas I had. . . Oh, no, wait. . . I forgot one thing.

Styles, Nakamura, Gallows and Anderson have front row seats.

During the opening half of the show, the cameras keep cutting back to an empty quartet of seats in the front, with the announcers first trying to laugh it off, then openly trying to figure out where the ticketholders are.  During a down moment in the show, these four guys, who have been all but ghosts over the last three months, make their way through the crowd.  Dressed in black, sunglasses on.  The whole deal.

They watch the remainder of the show, making themselves known during one of the matches.  Maybe it’s during the Ambrose / Triple H match, but more than likely the four of them wind up attacking Roman Reigns after his main event victory.

Wrestlemania 32 ends with a group of outsiders staging a Wrestlemania invasion. . . And WWE is off and running.

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What do YOU think?  Which Wrestlemania do you want to see?  Be Heard.

Social media is a double edged sword.  In fact, it’s more like a multi-sided sword, if that’s even possible. . . Can you have a sword that’s also an octagonal prism?

. . .

I shouldn’t write these columns on only 4 hours of sleep.

Last month I realized that I was spending so much time Tweeting, I wasn’t actually watching the wrestling on my WWE Network, and thus was born #SummerSlamTaughtMe, a series of handwritten notes that became a couple of columns and part of a podcast.

This month for Night of Champions, I decided to avoid social media during most of the matches, and once again took up my pen and yellow legal pad.  However, as I watched WWENOC, I found myself discovering broader themes rather than just bad jokes and minor observations.

So, for #NOCTaughtMe, let’s do single lessons from each match, shall we?

The Pre-show match taught me that Cosmic Wasteland can be a force.

Doc Manson and I discussed their future and potential briefly on the NAIborhood podcast yesterday morning, but seeing them in action last night really made me a believer.  Stardust is a natural leader, this was common knowledge, but what impressed me even more was how different The Ascension looked.  No longer bogged down by the pressure of doing everything on their own (especially with that terrible “we’re better than you” gimmick), Konnor and Viktor positively shined just being able to be wrestlers.

I’m excited to see where this goes from here.

The IC title match taught me that Kevin Owens is a trend-setter.

One of the most common things I saw online near the end or just following Night of Champions was that the ‘event’ (can’t call it a PPV, can we?) had an “old school” feel to it, and I think we can thank our new Intercontinental champion for that.  Mr. Owens had a match that Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and our own MagnumNAI would be proud of, spending the majority of it isolating a body part and working it over with some of the most innovative offense I’ve seen in quite some time.

Hammerlock Russian leg sweeps, sentons directly to the arm, it was a treat to watch, and for what it’s worth, Ryback did a fine job of selling that injury.  He really didn’t have to do much else.

Maybe Kevin Owens didn’t inspire the rest of the roster to break out their 80’s wrestling psychology, but it was notable that many other performances that followed (including, most surprisingly, Nikki Bella’s) involved similar styles of wrestling.

The prestige and honor of many fans (this one included) favorite title is in your hands, Mr. Owens.  Make us proud.

The #LoveRhombus match taught me that #StoryMatters.

They probably didn’t have the best match on the card, but Dolph Ziggler and Rusev definitely had themselves a pretty good match, yet nobody seemed to care.  Why?  Obviously because we all have gotten so tired of this angle that nothing can save us.

You know who else was obviously tired of that story?  The wrestlers themselves.  It’s Rusev and Ziggler, so you’re going to get a good match regardless, but couldn’t you tell that there was just a little less than full effort coming from them?  They weren’t really giving it their all, which would explain why, on a couple of occasions, we saw phantom bumps.  Rusev runs the ropes to hit Ziggler on the apron, and Dolph takes off before Rusev gets there.  Rusev sells a DDT without his head actually hitting the canvas.  Those kinds of things.

Truthfully, we can’t blame the talents - This has been dumb for a long time and I’m sure both talents would like to move on.  Whether or not they can do so is a different story.

One thing I will say, though.  I love me some #SadRusev.

The Tag Team Title match taught me that New Day is the total package.

No offense, Mr. Luger, but Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are everything that is nice and good in professional wrestling.  We saw it with their ‘Table for 3’ episode, we see it each night on RAW, and we absolutely saw it at Night of Champions.

What do we want from a “perfect” wrestler?  An impressive look, excellent wrestling skills (which hopefully include power, aerial ability and some technical know-how), and charisma, particularly if it can translate onto the microphone.  While it could be argued that no member of New Day has all of those features (though I could make a case for Big E), with their powers combined, they are something to behold.

I know this because, for that entire match, I couldn’t have cared less about the Dudleys.  They were just in the way of the Day, if you will.  I enjoy Bubba and Devon, but they were easily and completely overshadowed by Rufio and his Lost Boys.

New Day could be, historically, something very special.

The Divas title match taught me that Nikki Bella is, after all this time, a talented wrestler.

I stayed on social media for this match, figuring it would play in the background and I’d glance at it from time to time, but I actually spent a good portion of the match paying attention, and that was all thanks to Nikki.  When did she become Dean Malenko?  Why wasn’t I given a memo?  If Nikki has really been that skilled all this time, why on Earth did they not let her defend her title?

A lot of people were confused by the nature of that match, but it made sense to me,  One of the biggest criticisms of Charlotte’s game has been her ability to sell, and that gave us all a chance to see if she’s improved in that area.  It was a bit over-the-top, in my opinion, but she’s a Flair after all, so I guess that comes with the territory.

I almost felt a little bad for Nikki, to dominate the match the way she did and then lose so quickly.

Am I starting a #GiveNikkiAChance movement?  No, but I have far more respect for her than I did before.  That’s something.

The AmbReigns / Wyatts match taught me to give WWE the benefit of the doubt.

As I said on the podcast, one of the matches I was most looking forward to was this six man tag, solely because I love a good mystery partner.  When I saw the countdown and heard the music. . . I was less than thrilled.

In fact, I was borderline devastated.  There were about 7-8 other guys that would have been more preferable to me, and those were just the likely names.  Heck, I would have probably been more excited to see Big Show waddle his way down to the ring.

Jericho didn’t make any sense other than he fought with Bray Wyatt a long time ago.  He didn’t have the size, the strength or the relevance to make a lot of sense there.

Then he made the blind tag on Roman, and it all started to make sense.

Chris Jericho wasn’t going to work as an opponent of the Wyatt Family. . . But he does make some sense as an opponent for Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose. . .

NAI Honorary Team Member Adam hit the nail right on the head with his prediction, so props to him.  I went from disappointment to intrigued with that tag, and I’m excited to see where this goes from here.

Well done, WWE, you do know what you’re doing.

The last two matches went back to back, so I’m going to group them together for a couple of final points.

The US and WHC title matches taught me that Seth Rollins is my favorite current WWE wrestler.

Throughout the night, I found myself criticizing the logic of some of these matches.  Why would Nikki Bella even participate in this match?  Why not take a countout or blatant DQ?  (I forgot about the no DQ rule, and thanks to the 457 people who reminded me)  I was told to stop being rational, to suspend disbelief and to just enjoy the show, but I found it hard to do that with all these questions.  I’m all for surrendering to the rationale of pro wrestling, but there needs to be SOME adherence to common sense.

Seth Rollins seems to incorporate that, and I really appreciate it.

I first noticed it when Cena was doing his “Cena thing” hitting the shoulderblocks.  What happens next is textbook - The wrestler takes a giant swing, Cena ducks, hits the side slam or Blue Thunder Bomb (whatever it is) and goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle.

Except Rollins didn’t swing.  He feinted, then hit a neckbreaker, and if memory serves, he gave the crowd a little “no way” look as he did it.

I loved that.  Rollins is already a super talented wrestler, perhaps one of the best I’ve seen in a very long time.  Adding some actual logic and intelligence just sealed the deal.  I also appreciated the number of times he tried to crawl or walk away with his title during the WHC match.  That’s what a heel champion should do - anything to save the belt.

He might not be the next Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart, but Seth Rollins is a special talent, and you saw the way he randomly decided to control the crowd in a wave - He’s going to be the biggest babyface in the world REALLY soon.

The WHC match taught me that Sting is one tough 56 year old.

We’re not sure what the nature or severity of Sting’s injury is, but obviously something was wrong during that title match, and that’s not even counting the huge bruise on his arm from smashing into the monitor on the Spanish Announce Table.

That was a scary moment, though, seeing him collapse in the middle of the ring.  For just a second, I thought he was going to need to be carted out, and it was terrifying.

I give Steve Borden all the credit in the world for fighting through whatever the injury was and continuing the match, no matter how short it may have been.  We’ve all spent a lot of time discussing Sting’s legacy, or the manner in which it has been portrayed by WWE.  That moment there, staggering to his feet and continuing the match, might be the best thing Sting has ever done in a McMahon-controlled ring.

The WHC match taught me that absence (and a mask) makes the heart grow fonder.

We all knew that Sheamus was going to try to cash in last night, but I didn’t see anyone on Twitter predicting that Kane would make his presence known during the main event.  I figured he was there solely to give some slight air of mystery to who would be teaming with AmbReigns.

I have never been as big of a Kane fan as Jason Moltov or Liam Stryker.  He’s been a fine and loyal WWE worker and I’ve enjoyed some of his matches, but I’ve always been ‘meh’ when it comes to the Big Red Machine, even more so when he went Corporate.

Yet there was a moment. . . After chokeslamming Rollins AND Sheamus. . . Where I was sitting upright in bed, quietly (since Mrs. Matthews was sleeping) begging Kane to grab the MITB briefcase, cash it in, and become World Heavyweight Champion.

Maybe it was because the “Demon” was back. . . Maybe it was because we hadn’t seen him in a while. . . Or maybe it was just #AnyoneButSheamus. . . but. . .

For just those few seconds, I became the kind of fan WWE has always wanted us to be - Lost in the moment, all reasonable thought out the window, pleading for a 20 year veteran I’ve never really been in love with to beat, as I just described, my favorite wrestler.

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Goofy gimmicked stables. . . Working over a single body part . . . Solid storytelling. . . Totally bought in.

Now that’s Old School.

In 10 days, WWE will bring us Night of Champions, the annual PPV where every title belt is on the line.  As many of you know (I shan’t assume you’re all well versed in current-day storylines), that puts Seth Rollins in an interesting spot, being the current World Heavyweight AND United States champion.  Mr. Rollins will be defending the US belt against John Cena and the World title against Sting.

Everybody with me?  Good.

There are four possible outcomes stemming out of Night of Champions, assuming, of course, that all of the matches wind up in clean, straightforward decisions.

Stop laughing.

Based off of a question by @Cody_Burris, let’s chat about each outcome one at a time, discussing why it might happen, what it could mean, and how likely it might be.

Rollins loses both matches, and therefore, both titles.

This might happen if WWE wants to take the Seth Rollins character in a new direction.  So far, we’ve rarely, if ever, seen Seth struggle.  He was highly successful with The Shield and then transitioned directly to The Authority’s Golden Boy.  Up until now (if memory serves), we’ve never seen Rollins on the ropes.

To put it another way, playing off of a character from a few months ago, we’ve never seen “Sad Rollins”.

By having Rollins lose both titles in a single night, Sad Seth comes to the forefront.  For the first time, there’s doubt, both in his mind and in the minds of The Authority.  What if Rollins ISN’T all that and a bag of organic, vegan vegetable crisps?  What if Triple H and Stephanie picked the wrong horse?  This would make for some compelling television.

How likely is it? Honestly, not very.  Doing this sends a very clear signal that WWE has lost some semblance of faith in their champion, so much so that he’s not even worthy of a mid-card title.  I don’t think this is the world we wake up to on the first day of autumn.

Rollins wins both matches and keeps both titles.

This might happen if, compared to the first scenario, WWE wants to send a message that Seth Rollins IS the superstar of the next 10 years, and that’s the end of the discussion.  In the 90’s, Shawn Michaels held the World and European titles for reasoning that escape me right now, but it was around that time that he was THE guy.  As much as people might balk at the comparison, Rollins CAN BE the next Shawn Michaels if WWE wants it - uncanny ring work, charisma galore and even the potential for backstage drama.

Seth Rollins is the NoseBreak Kid.  Copyright DC Matthews, 2015.

How likely is it?  Only slightly more likely than him losing both titles, really.  As Liam Stryker says each and every week on NAIpod, the biggest problem WWE has right now is with commitment.  They don’t seem able to fully put their weight behind a single star, so they’re just dancing around with a group of them.

I have a hard time seeing WWE allowing Rollins to beat two all-time legends, even if one is “merely” a WCW icon in Sting.  Just don’t think they want to put all their eggs in that basket.

Seth Rollins loses the US title but retains his World title.

This might happen if WWE wants to hit the reset button on the last 6-8 weeks.  Just like you, I can’t possibly explain the whole Jon Stewart debacle from Summer Slam.  Maybe Stewart insisted on having some ring action, maybe it was just to get the publicity - who knows?

What I do know is that the vast majority of the WWE universe (and NAIborhood, a very exclusive part of the Universe) thought Cena dropping the US title to Rollins made no sense, and perhaps WWE has been swayed.  Putting the title back on Cena allows them to “do it right”, even if Owens is the IC champion by then.

How likely is it?  Far likelier than the other two so far, solely because it requires very little effort on WWE’s part.  They love their lazy booking, and by going back to the US Open Challenge and Seth Rollins World title promos, they’ve written almost a third of RAW already.

This entire column stemmed from the notion that WWE had a bunch of John Cena US title t-shirts ready to be shipped, which led people to believe that a Cena victory was imminent.

My thoughts on that?  Please, people.  There are ALWAYS Cena shirts ready.  I’m sure they have designs prepped for a John Cena Diva’s title, if ever there’s a need.

Seth Rollins retains the US title but loses the World Title

This might happen if WWE recognizes the golden opportunity they have right now, one that they’ve been squandering since Survivor Series of last year.

As much as Vince McMahon and friends might hate to admit it, Sting IS A LEGEND.  They might not have educated new fans on Sting’s role in wrestling history, but his place can not be questioned.

Giving Sting a run with the World Heavyweight Championship, as ludicrous as it might seem, will draw older fans back and potentially create a new flock of fans.  Sadly, Raven won’t be involved.

They don’t need him to hold the title for very long.  Survivor Series at the shorter end, the Rumble at the longer.  A couple of title defenses and a hotly contested loss to John Cena (that’s who he’d lose it to, there’s no question) is all WWE needs to honor an icon and make wrestling fun again for anyone who was a fan of the surfer / Crow / Joker these last few decades.

Plus, Rollins retains a title and can be a contender for the top strap again anytime WWE needs. (remember, HHH held the IC title after winning his first World title.)

How likely is it? This is, in my mind, the likeliest scenario for Night of Champions.  It keeps Rollins relevant, it makes Sting relevant and it puts Cena in prime position for his 16th world title.  Hate it if you must, but that’s going to be a big piece of the puzzle.

WWE will likely feel it is best for Seth Rollins to retain his US title and for Sting to win the World Heavyweight Championship.  As the hip hashtaggers would say, #BookIt.

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What do YOU think?  What is, in your mind, the most likely scenario?  Be Heard.

If there was a word to describe Summer Slam, “Polarizing” might be a good one.  A whole lot of people had a WHOLE LOT of strong opinions on the show.  So much so, in fact, that I found myself so busy thinking about the opinions of others that it was hard for me to remember my own - The show got lost in the reaction.

So, to remedy that, I sat down with a pen and a notebook and decided to actually watch the show, jotting down my thoughts along the way.  As tends to happen when I do something like that, the theme came along as I went, and since this is the Twitter-world, I gave it a hashtag.

What #SummerSlamTaughtMe

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Mick Foley looks a lot like Luke Harper’s homeless uncle.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that a Brock Lesnar vs. Cactus Jack match would have been AMAZING.  I suppose I didn’t need Summer Slam to teach me that, but I had never considered the matchup until that opening segment.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Jon Stewart respects what wrestlers do SO MUCH.  He said it enough times, in fact, that I’m guessing it’ll be part of the rationale behind him turning on Cena.  Don’t know exactly how, but we’l figure it out, I suppose.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that WWE has weird ideas of what makes a good opening match.  Orton and Sheamus was good, as we’ll get to, but was that really the ideal match to pop the crowd?  I can think of 2-3 others that would have made more sense in that spot.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that wrestlers are learning to address the crowd and its chanting, which is an awesome thing.  Wrestling is great, among a multitude of other reasons, because it is interactive, and that’s a prime example of that.   While I’m on the subject. . .

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that I. . . .HATE. . . CHANTING!!!  More specifically, I hate the handful of “cool kids” who think they should just start any chant they want for any reason that they want.  I get that Orton and Sheamus dragged in the middle, but was there any reason at all for a Sami Zayn chant?  No, no there wasn’t.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Sheamus could. . . COULD. . . make an interesting World Champion, especially with this new attitude.  Just don’t say “Respect The Hawk” ever again, please.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that a lot of wrestlers are expanding their repertoires.  Specifically, many talents are adding aerial maneuvers and suplex variations.  We saw Sheamus’ diving knee, to go along with Ryback’s splash and Big Show’s. . . Whatever in the world that was. . . and Orton, Reigns and Becky Lynch all have some sort of T-Bone Exploder Saito Suplex.   As a fan of the wrestling itself, I dig this a lot.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Michael Cole still needs some lessons on leg-locks.  That is an Edge-cution, Michael, not a Cloverleaf.  Ask Dean Malenko to tutor you.  In fact, ask him to demonstrate.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that apparently you can bleed from hitting the turnbuckles.  I’m guessing that he hit the metal part, since that obviously wasn’t a ‘blade job’, but I’d never seen that before.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Orton and Sheamus, despite the feeling that they’ve wrestled 987 times, still can pull out some new moves to surprise us.  Sheamus rolling up onto the turnbuckles into an Orton DDT and the Slingshot-to-RKO were both very fluid and fun to watch.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Orton, despite my own personal feelings, can still be a top quality professional wrestler.  Until I hear an explanation, I can only assume Randy is a prick, based off of his stupid comments to Owens some weeks back, but he was quite into the match.  Passion translates, and while this isn’t on the level of Randy’s feud with Rollins, he’s still bought in, and I can appreciate that.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that a Double Brogue Kick is a pretty cool finishing sequence.

Most importantly, #SummerSlamTaughtMe to try to avoid presuppositions when it comes to wrestling matches.  I expected this match to stink, so I didn’t try very hard to watch it.  In fact, I basically skipped it the first time around.  Both participants put on an excellent match, and while I still don’t think it was the right choice for an opener, it was really entertaining.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that you never. . . EEEEVVVVEEEERRRR. . . take the camera off of New Day during their entrance.  In fact, whenever New Day is talking, walking or really, breathing, all eyes should be on them.  I’m not sure where they rank on the “wrestle joy” scale, all-time, but it has to be up there.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Sin Cara’s flip into the ring, where his hood landed perfectly on his head, was the best contribution he made to that entire match.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that New Day tried something . . . Well, new . . . in trying to pin each other, and what made it good. . . No, this needs to be bigger. . .

What Made It Good Was That The Announcers Called It As It Was Happening!!!!

Cole and JBL talked about how, while unorthodox, that was within the rules of the Fatal Four Way matchup, and therefore smart strategy!  THIS IS WHAT COMMENTARY IS SUPPOSED TO BE FOR. . . To add to the match, explain things, and help fans understand what’s happening.

We’ll come back to that. . . multiple times. . . throughout this series.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that when Big E kicks out of a pin attempt by Kalisto in Brooklyn, Kalisto should land somewhere in Queens.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Sin Cara wears a mask so that you don’t see him apologizing all the time for all of his mistakes.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Kalisto could be. . . should be. . .and with all luck, WILL BE. . .a mid-card star in WWE.  He was one of the highlights of the night, not just this match, and fans are going to want to see more of him.

In fact,

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that Titus O’Neil, Kalisto and Big E all deserve to get a singles push of some kind in the near future.  These three were the stars of the tag title match, and if you put them in a competitive division for the Intercontinental or US titles, fans would be in for a treat.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that I don’t ever want to be splashed by Big E Langston.  Ouch.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe, though I knew this long ago, that Xavier Woods needs to be mic’d at ringside.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that El Torito > Sin Cara.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that despite my anger at the fans for chanting stupid stuff, they can make a match more meaningful with their participation.  The collective noise for the Tower Of Doom sequence was awesome.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that WWE has a great knack for creative endings. . . WHEN THE ANNOUNCERS HELP TO EXPLAIN IT!   I saw Kofi make the blind tag, and THANKFULLY, I saw the referee acknowledge that he had seen the blind tag, but the commentary team was, quite frankly, bumfuzzled about it until after it happened.

Random Aside:  Jim Ross was a great commentator because he was the smartest fan in the room.  So was Gordon Solie, and so, in his own way, was Bobby Heenan.  They knew what was happening and they explained it. . .They taught you how to be a smart fan.

Michael Cole, for all his positives, doesn’t do that.  That’s the problem.

“Everyone was confused as to who was legal.”  NO, if you were paying attention, you saw what happened.  You saw the referee see what happened.  Watch the match and call the match.

End of rant.

#SummerSlamTaughtMe that nobody celebrates like New Day. . . Nobody.

---

We’ll break this up into parts, since I understand the attention span of my readers.  Plus, that’s a lot of lessons from the first 45-50 minutes of the show.

What do YOU think?  What did you take away from the first hour or so of Summer Slam?  Be Heard.

Taken from WWE.com

After spending the last 60 hours or so trying to sort through the IWC’s bi-polar responses to Battleground and RAW, I’ve realized once again that in wrestling, just like life, you can’t please everybody.

RAW was great, except it sucked.  Battleground was awesome, until it was terrible.  JBL is an awful announcer. . . .Well, I suppose that’s the general consensus - Hey! Something we can all agree on!

Time to dust all the old favorite.  Let’s get to #PromotingPositivity, people!

UnderBatman

First of all, RAW didn’t begin with an Authority promo, so right off the bat, we’re starting positive!  Logic or no logic, reason or no reason, I enjoyed seeing a REAL Undertaker entrance, which really hasn’t happened since Wrestlemania 30.  If this wasn’t a Promoting Positivity Piece, I’d go into a rant on how much I disliked his entrance at this year’s Mania.  If Taker comes out in the daytime, he better be riding a chariot with a vulture on it.

Undertaker seemed to be channeling Christian Bale a bit with the uber-gruffness of his voice (I wanted him to just randomly say “I’m Not Wearing Hockey Pants!”), but I dug his promo.  What I especially liked was the rationale he gave for his appearance.  Sure, I’d have appreciated at least a shout out to his brother, but it made sense to me.

This is the Old Dog in the Yard, he’s not going to mind if he gets beaten.  He does mind when you spend too much time crowing about it.  Now, while that should mean we’ll see Taker vs. Heyman at Summer Slam, I still am OK with this reasoning.  It explains (enough, anyway), why he and Lesnar didn’t have a face-to-face at Wrestlemania, and I’m good with it.

Yes, Mark Calaway is a 50 year old man who looks even older.  There’s no getting around that.  But he still captured my attention and made me interested in this renewed feud - What else do you want?

Divalution

I’m glad that portmanteau hasn’t taken off.  I really figured it would.

We got not one but TWO solid Diva’s matches, and I got a lot of pleasure out of watching my Twitter feed explode last night because of it.  I couldn’t be happier to see Charlotte AND Sasha get the win in these matches, and while I doubt we’ll get my 9 Diva Triple Threat Tag match at Summer Slam, we’re going to get something worth watching, and that in and of itself is a Revolution.

I’ll also give credit to the Bellas for doing their part in putting over the new talent on commentary during the tag match.  I wasn’t totally listening, but even at half-attention, I could tell they were doing well.

Here’s an odd thought - Had Bayley not broken her wrist, where would she fit into this mix?  Would she be Bayley Bella?

 Ole?  Oy vey.

We’re obviously heading down the road to a multi-team match for the tag belts at Summer Slam.  I was hoping the Matadors wouldn’t be involved, but they seemingly will be after defeating the tag champs (Titus, no less) on RAW.  I’m all for parity, and I’m glad they’re getting some sort of shot, but. . .

Look, Primo and Epico are two solid to above average wrestlers, saddled with a well below-average gimmick.  Can’t they just be. . .You know. . Themselves?  Where’s Carlito when we need him???

The Brawl to end them All

This was a great segment, and while I wish Taker had been able to break free a little more than he did, it makes sense why Brock would physically dominate.  Mark Calaway is feeling this, far more than he seemed to be feeling his feud with Bray.  I won’t say he was just going through the motions, but there’s a distinct difference between The Undertaker of July and the one from March / April.

I found it interesting to see which wrestlers were part of the posse to break up the fight and which were not.  More on that later.

Families United

It might not be The Shield vs. The Wyatt’s all over again, but there is certainly something similar and comforting about the fact that Summer Slam will likely feature Bray and Harper vs. AmbReigns.  Some people were complaining that this made Dean seem like Roman’s lackey, but I don’t see it that way at all.

Go back and watch the promo from the Wyatts.  Luke Harper had almost as much to say as Bray did - These two are on far more equal footing now than they ever were last year.  This is about four men and their issues, not two men and their associates.

Plus, now we can spend 4 weeks wondering who turns on who.  Does Dean abandon Reigns and join the dark side?  Does Reigns sign a deal with the devil to finally reach the success he’s been after?  Do we see more Wyatt Family members?

I’m locked in, and I’ll be watching this storyline very closely leading into next month’s event.

A Sign of Things to Come?

As much as we’ve enjoyed the John Cena Open Challenge (and we have, its been amazing), we all knew it wasn’t going to last forever.  Cena was still going to have a couple more main event runs in him, and by confronting Seth Rollins last night, he assured himself of one of those in the latter half of 2015.

A lot of people seemed to completely forget the last 6 months of greatness with that one promo, which I find a bit hasty.  Here’s what we know so far.

John Cena has done an admirable job elevating talents during the US Open Challenge, and even beyond.  You might not like how it was booked or anything, but the main event of RAW featured Rusev, Kevin Owens and Cesaro - All guys who have worked with Cena in the very recent past.

Cena has elevated his in-ring game, and unlike Brock Lesnar, will be an opponent that Seth Rollins can match up with physically.

Summer Slam, as I mention on this week’s #NAIborhood podcast, is the card where John Cena loses.  If Rollins were to beat Cena, it would be a big feather in his cap, certainly moreso than defeating Randy Orton or his Shield Brothers would do.

Put those three things together, and the time might just be perfect for a Cena / Rollins match.    Or, this is just a slow start to something that could happen at Night of Champions, which logically, would make more sense.

Truth be told, what else should Rollins be doing right now?  Lesnar’s busy with Taker, Reigns and Ambrose are caught up with the Wyatts, what other challenger is there besides Cena?  Orton?  Sheamus?

Everyone take a breath and relax, friends.  This is not the end of the world.  Have a little faith.

The Enemy of my Enemy is. . . Still My Enemy.

The biggest story coming out of the main event is the dissension amongst the heels, as Sheamus, Rusev and Owens all seem to have unfinished business.  Or, at least, the Irishman and the Bulgarian have issues with the French Canadian.

To be honest, I had more issues with Owens being part of the scrum during the Lesnar / Undertaker brawl than I did with him tapping out last night.  They didn’t even seem to address it all that much, which is what Liam seemed to believe would happen on the Battleground post-cast.

I noticed that Ambrose, Reigns, Wyatt, Harper, Cena and Orton weren’t part of the crew breaking up the Beast and the Deadman.  Didn’t see Rusev in there, either.  Why was Owens there?

While WWE midcard is greater than NXT main eventing, purely just based on eyes on the talent, its still not what I think any of us expected.

Still, if we’re heading to a Sheamus / Rusev / Owens Triple Threat at Summer Slam, I’m more than OK with that, especially if Owens can goad Sheamus into putting the briefcase on the line.

Mr. Money in the Bank, Kevin Owens?  Sounds about right to me.

---

What do YOU think?  Best parts of RAW?  Be Heard.

Time was a funny and fickle thing. Sometimes there was never enough of it, and other times it stretched out endlessly.  - J. Lynn.

If there was one topic that kept running through my head during and after last night’s Battleground, it was time, and not just because the ‘event’ ended 15 minutes “early”.  To be honest, it didn’t end early, plenty of WWE events end well before 11 o’clock, this one just ended suddenly.

All of the problems I saw people having with the matches, with the results, with EVERYTHING have to do with time.  So, let’s take some time today and try to sort things out.

You don’t live longer. It just seems longer.

In this 24/7 world of social media, our perception of time has become skewed.  It feels like it has been FOREVER since we had a Sunday Night WWE event, when in reality, its been 5 weeks.  When we check Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Glorknorble (is that how you spell it?) dozens of times each day, it makes it feel like certain things have been going on FOREVER!

This has caused a lot of problems with select members of the wrestle-watching community, as the warped view of time alters our reality.

“R-Truth and King Barrett are ALWAYS wrestling each other!”

Not true - While they fought at Battleground and at the 2 RAW’s previously (which is a little much, I grant you), they’ve only had 7 televised matches against each other since Wrestlemania.  With the predilection WWE has for cookie-cutter booking at times, 7 matches in 4 months is really not so bad, until you count the multitudes of chatter that take place about every match.  That’s when it seems like forever.

People have made the same claims about Sheamus and Randy Orton, and this points to another fault in our perception of time - The years blur together.  I did a very cursory ProFightDB search and found that Orton and Sheamus have had 20 singles matches against each other, stretching all the way back to 2010.  4 and a half years, 20 matches.  Not the end of the world.

Look, if people want to take issue with WWE booking, specifically the way there is a tiered grouping of talents in this promotion, all whom spend their time battling each other and often no one else, there’s a lot of weight behind that argument.  However, let’s calm down with regards to these “neverending” feuds that, in all reality, really just got started.

Just because it feels like forever doesn’t mean it has been so.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Since I rejoined the WWE Universe with the inception of the Network, one of the loudest criticisms has been the lack of a long-term plan, booking wise.  Last year, I attributed that to the surprise departure of CM Punk and the unfortunate injury to Daniel Bryan (and I still think I was right in doing so) - Suddenly the main event tier became much shallower, and WWE had to think on its feet, working week to week instead of month to month.  This is why The Shield broke up when it did, this is why Brock Lesnar became a Champion instead of a featured attraction - I submit we can trace all of that to the improvisations WWE had to do creatively.

Was it the best course of action?  Likely not.  Was it avoidable?  Likely so..  Did they do the best they could?  Probably, given the set of circumstances and 70 year old obstacles..  Did we have reason to Be Heard with our displeasure?  Definitely.

 Since Wrestlemania 31, however, I think WWE has collected itself, formed some long-term plans, and is moving forward with them quite nicely.  It is US, in fact, that are behind the proverbial 8 ball.

Up until the moment Kevin Owens tapped out last night, the vast majority of us believed John Cena to be a candidate for WWE MVP for 2015.  His US title reign was a masterstroke, executed to near perfection.  The “John Cena Sucks” chants were now being done ironically, for the most part, the same way we jeered for Kurt Angle, while still loving everything he did.

But when Kevin Owens submits. . . EVERYONE LOSES THEIR MINDS!

Now WWE is terrible, Owens is being buried, and John Cena has an inappropriate relationship with his maternal parent.  Can we be that easily swayed?   Has WWE earned no benefit of the doubt from the last 6 months?

Have a little faith that there is a long-term plan for John Cena and Kevin Owens.  This will certainly not be the end of their feud - We’re heading into Summer Slam with Owens / Cena IV, perhaps even with Cesaro and/or Rusev thrown in for good measure.  If August ends with Owens (or Cesaro, really) holding the United States title, having defeated John Cena to get it, a lot of you aren’t even going to remember your vitriolic response to what happened at Battleground.

Nobody is complaining too much about Reigns and Wyatt, and not just because Luke Harper came back and Bray got the victory.  Though that certainly helped.  People seem to understand there’s a long term plan here.  This will likely continue into Summer Slam (AmbReigns vs. Wyatt and Harper, perhaps?), Reigns improves every single time he’s NOT being asked to carry the company, and life is good.

As for the main event, well I can understand if that’s a little harder to comprehend.  As the NAIpod gang discussed on the post-show last night (which I still haven’t finished - I was too busy trying to find Bill from Boston’s Twitter handle so I can be his new best friend), the arrival of the Undertaker is a curious thing.  It’s difficult to theorize a way to book another Lesnar / Taker match, long-term.

Still, here’s what I do know.  Kane has shown an increasing protection of his family over the last few weeks, and then Lesnar took him out, and now “suddenly” Taker is back..  I’m not sure this has as much to do with Wrestlemania 30 as it has to do with Big Brother arriving to stand up for Little Brother.

Oh, and making Summer Slam a must-see event.  That helps, too.

Jason is right - If Taker was THAT upset about the streak ending, he’d have done something about it at this year’s Wrestlemania.  This seems more personal.

Could we see a reunited Brothers of Destruction taking on Brock Lesnar?  What does it do for the Lesnar mythos if he can defeat not just The Undertaker, but Kane as well at Summer Slam?

As for Seth Rollins, things seem to be wide open for him heading into our next Event.  He still has unfinished business with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, and right now the WHC picture is wide open.

Hmm, this has me thinking.  It might not be the long term plan for WWE, but what if we saw . . .

Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt for the World Heavyweight Championship

I don’t know about you, but in my mind, I see that match and think

It’s about TIME.

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