Over the last few weeks, RAW ratings have been. . . Slipping is probably too casual of a word. . .Plummeting might be too harsh. . .Let's settle on declining, and its causing panic within WWE and questions and debate outside of Titan Tower.  The Twittersphere has been abuzz with potential problems and supposed solutions, and one of the most common ones is the idea that there just aren't enough "top stars" for WWE to build stories and content around.

This led to questioning the NAIborhood, asking them to pick 6 stars that they'd center their booking around for the next 4-6 years.  Since I always try to answer the questions I ask, I'm here to offer my own "A-Team".

Since it was my question, I can tweak it, so I decided to come up with a Top Ten. Unlike my usual lists, I'm actually going to rank them from top down, instead of building to number 1, and since I'm already working backwards, might as well put my overall thoughts and conclusions first.

Conclusions

Completely unsurprisingly, I went ahead and chose 10 guys (I limited myself to male talents, which was the original premise of the question I posed) with what I consider superior wrestling chops, assuming that the rest would take care of itself.  Probably a bold assumption on my part, as prior history shows (Hello Dean Malenko) that in-ring ability doesn't equal commercial success.

Having said that, I think all of these talents would and could succeed if creative and management bought into them and was willing to work to create compelling stories and aspects to their characters.  Since the question put me in charge of WWE, I can guarantee that would happen.

Notable omissions

Dean Ambrose, while he might have the potential to be the most captivating character in the company, doesn't have the ring work to back it up, which to me is a problem.  If this wasn't the PG era, I'd probably have included him in my list, as an "extreme" heel Ambrose would be must-see TV.

John Cena probably should be on this list.  In the next 4-6 years, he's going to be a major presence, and having him as a cornerstone of the company allows for other stars to become bigger because of him.  Having said that, it really wasn't in the spirit of the question to include him.  Sorry, John.

Apollo Crews was a popular choice by most of the NAIborhood participants, but he was never really an option for me.  I'm still not sold on him as a wrestler.  He's got some skills, no denying it, but I haven't seen him wrestle someone on his level, and that to me is a big thing.  Anyone can have a good squash match (well, that's not true, but let's go with it), but Crews vs. Breeze will go a long way of getting me on the Crews Ship for good.

Crews Ship?  Why isn't NXT running with this?

New Day could be the biggest thing to come out of WWE (besides maybe The Shield) in this decade, but since they are at their best solely as a combination of parts, it wouldn't make sense to include them.  Sure, I could have bent the rules, but I already expanded my list to ten.  I didn't want the hate mail.

Roman Reigns not being on this list proves that I did want at least a fair amount of hate mail, as I'm sure many people will be very put out he didn't make the cut.  Look, he's good, and he's getting better, but he is only ever going to be "OK" as a professional wrestler if he keeps relying on a stupid punch and an overplayed spear.

Bring it on, people.  I, like Roman Reigns should, will #EmbraceTheHate.

Number One - Seth Rollins

No question on this one, Seth Rollins is the best wrestler in either WWE or NXT and will likely remain so for at least the next decade.  He wrestled two matches at Night of Champions and looked. . . tired.  Not exhausted, not wiped out, not "blown up", just tired.  Like he just completed a moderate Crossfit workout.

He's going to be the biggest babyface WWE has had since vintage Cena in the next 12 months.  Count on it.  #PreDCtion

Number Two - Kevin Owens

There's a sizable gap between Rollins and the rest of the field, but Kevin Owens could make some headway catching up in the next 6 months, depending on how this IC run is booked.

Owens has supreme skills for a wrestler of any size, and the fact that he's not quite #BullFit only makes it all the more impressive.  A heel Owens and a face Rollins could main event MULTIPLE Wrestlemanias.

Owens is like Peter Pan.  He can fight, he can fly, and he can crow.  No wonder he was a consensus NAIDraft Top 3 pick.

Number Three - Cesaro

While already 34, Cesaro (and the wrestler that's next on this list) has the physical abilities and body type to wrestling well into his 40's, so I'm not worried about age.  Cesaro does things in the ring that I've never seen before on a regular basis, and that's ALWAYS going to make somebody special in my eyes.

I get the reasons he's not main eventing right now, but remember - in this hypothetical, I'M in charge, so Cesaro can be as Swiss as he wants to be, just as long as he lets me put all the money he makes me in one of his countries' lovely bank accounts.

Number Four - Finn Balor

Doc Manson and I have both gone on record during the NAIborhood Podcast in saying that we're not huge Balor fans.  The character needs work and I'm sick to death of the double stomp as a rule, but I've never denied he's a top shelf wrestling talent, and that's what matters.  We can tweak the Demon if we need to, or, as I really want to do, we scrap is completely and let Balor be Balor.

Number Five - Sami Zayn

Sami Zayn is only at this position (and possibly only on this list) because of the feud potential with Kevin Owens.  If I'm starting a wrestling promotion from the ground up and can cherry-pick talents from anywhere, Owens and Zayn are probably the first two guys I pick.  Even above Rollins.  Both are excellent wrestlers and their chemistry together is just perfect.  I can build stories around their on-again off-again friendship for years.

Number Six - Luke Harper

This is probably my #PieInSpace pick - the one that's way out there and probably will come back to bite me in the end.  Luke Harper is already 35 and unlike Cesaro or Balor, doesn't necessarily have the body type that can last into his 40's (although with that tank top on, maybe he does and I just don't know it).

I'm picking Harper because he is the best 'big man' (only 6'5") I've seen in ages.  He's super athletic, he can fly (and I don't even think we've seen his best aerial stuff yet) and he can brawl.  Any promotion I am in charge of has Harper as a main event talent, beard or no beard.

Actually, I've seen pictures of him without the facial hair - He needs the beard.

Number Seven - Kalisto

For those who don't know, I'm working on a long term project where I have pseudo-Fantasy Booked (some realism included) from Night Of Champions (my predictions, not the actual results) to Wrestlemania 32.   In my work, Kalisto goes from a tag team to a mid-card singles star, and if I expanded further (which would be a nightmare, don't make me do it), he's probably a main eventer.

A lot of people compare him to Rey Mysterio, and that's fair, except he's probably more athletic than Mysterio was in his prime.  I think Kalisto could be bigger than Rey.  #PreDCtion

Number Eight - Bray Wyatt

There's something about Bray Wyatt's ring style that makes me completely and utterly happy. Maybe its the way that he often just throws his sizable frame at people.  Maybe its because a lot of his moves look like car crashes, but unlike Foley's, hopefully won't shorten the length of time where he's able to walk well.

Bray is 28 (younger than everyone on this list but Kalisto) and a complete blue chip talent, in my book.  Bray vs. Rollins or Wyatt vs. Owens could last years and I'd love every second of it.

Number Nine - Neville

Neville was someone I debated for a while.  I love his in-ring work, even if its a bit formulaic at times, but I did have to spend a bit more time weighing that against his character / gimmick deficits than I did with the other guys on this list.

I'd have to go back and explore Neville's minor heel stint in NXT, where he was a little more arrogant and a little less. . . Dopey might be the right word.  That's a character I could work with.

NO CAPES!

Number Ten - Rusev

The damage might be irreparable in the real world of WWE, but I'm still a big Rusev supporter.  I'm a sucker, wrestling wise, for guys who I think look like me, size wise, yet can move around.  Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Boss Man, Amish Roadkill, Bray Wyatt, Rusev.

Put him back with Lana, drop the nationalist gimmick and just let him fight.  #FreeRusev

---

That's it.  Ten talents who can have amazing matches night in and night out, even if I'm the only one watching them.

What do YOU think?  Who would you build around, and more importantly, why?  #BeHeard

I love tournaments.

There’s something about a bracket, be it for basketball, wrestling or anything else, that just makes me happy.  When I was a child. . . An only child, I’ll have you know. . . I used to come up with epic tournaments, sometimes with over 500 (512, to be precise, so it would work out evenly) wrestlers.  In order to do that, you’d have to include multiple gimmicks of the same wrestler, so sometimes you’d have Big Josh wrestling Doink (both Matt Borne) or Dude Love and Cactus Jack in the same bracket somehow.  It was amazing.

I can hear you snickering.  To paraphrase Teddy Long, stop drinking the hate-a-rade.

Being this particular form of uber-nerd, you can imagine how much I loved King of the Ring, and how overjoyed I was to hear that WWE was bringing it back in 2015.  Sure, it’s only 8 men, most of which are the leftover guys from the IC tournament, and sure, it likely means next to nothing, but still. . . It’s happening, and I’m a fan!

Yet still, I want more.

The King of the Ring is an opportunity - the amount of talents you include and the stories you tell are limited solely by your creativity.  With this roster, you could do so much more than WWE will inevitably do with these 8 guys.  (Sheamus over Ziggler is my prediction)

With that in mind, I set off to create an “epic” (depending on how you look at it) 32 man tournament to crown the “DC Matthews Fantasy Booking King of the Ring”.

Here’s how I started.

First, I compiled a list of the eligible members of the WWE roster.  Sorry, David Otunga, but I don’t buy you as an active wrestler.  I came up with 40 names, which is a problem, as it wouldn’t make a perfect bracket.  So I made a few changes.

New Day, as the tag champions, are not eligible, and that includes all 3, as I imagine there will be some sort of variation of the Freebird Rule with this group.

(I still won’t say I told you so. . . Though I totally did.)

The Ascension and Zack Ryder didn’t make the cut simply because I doubt WWE would use them, even if they could.

Randy Orton and Roman Reigns, on the other hand, are too talented for this tournament, and since I imagine we’re heading towards a Reigns / Rollins / Orton Triple Threat at Payback, I left them out as well.

That brought me down to 32 talents, a nice perfect number for a bracket.  I’m actually doing 2 brackets, as I seeded the wrestlers in each one (1-16).  Because, you know, I have that kind of time.

Thus, my friends, I present to you, the 2015 DC KOTR Extravaganza!

Bracket A Opening Round

 

Rusev (1) vs. Fernando (16)

Rusev gets the overall #1 seed for this tournament, and with absolutely no surprise at all, he destroys one half of Los Matadores.  Rusev wins.

R-Truth (9) vs. Tyson Kidd (8)

As recent tag champion, Tyson gets the higher seed, and in an entertaining somewhat back and forth match, Kidd picks up the victory.

Kane (4) vs. Fandango (13)

Despite the size, experience and just about every other advantage that there is, Face-Fandango holds his own for a few minutes against the Director of Operations.  Then reality sets in.  Kane wins

Sin Cara (12) vs. Luke Harper (5)

Another solid match, another obvious result.  Harper wins, setting up an intriguing round 2 match with Kane.

Bad News Barrett (2) vs. Diego (15)

What?  Did you expect Los Matadores to run away with this?   Barrett wins

Curtis Axel (10) vs. Stardust (7)

While Axelmania is certainly running wild on Earth, Stardust controls the cosmos.   Cody wins.

Bray Wyatt (3) vs. Darren Young (14)

Young gets in a few good shots, but Bray wins easily.

Goldust (11) vs. Neville (6)

In what, if I had anything to say about it, would be the match of this bracket’s round, Neville wins a very close match over the future WWE Hall of Famer.

Bracket B Opening Round

 

Big Show (1) vs. Heath Slater (16)

The ATG Battle Royal winner gets the second #1 seed, squashing the One Man Band. Big Show wins.

Healthy Uso (9) vs. Damien Sandow (8)

Sandow wins over Jimmy. . .Jey. . .whichever, and we have a rematch of the ATG final in Round 2.

Sheamus (4) vs. Jack Swagger (13)

Swagger might not be an underdog, size wise, but it doesn’t stop the Celtic Warrior from treating him as such. Sheamus wins.

Kalisto (12) vs. Mark Henry (5)

In the biggest (and perhaps only) upset of the first round, Kalisto shocks the world by defeating Mark Henry.   NOW there’s an underdog for Sheamus to fight.  Kalisto wins.

Dean Ambrose (2) vs. Adam Rose (15)

Again, if I’m booking, Adam Rose puts up a decent fight, showing there might be more to him than meets the eyeliner.  Still, Dean wins.

Erick Rowan (10) vs. Cesaro (7)

This is just an excuse to show off Cesaro’s strength, deadlifting Rowan from the second rope. Cesaro wins.

Dolph Ziggler (3) vs. Titus O’Neill (14)

Titus shows some strength, but Dolph wins.

Bo Dallas (11) vs. Ryback (6)

Presuming that Wyatt, as the Internet reports, is set to feud with Ryback (which I personally doubt, but it works for this booking), Bray comes out to distract / attack Ryback, and in another shock-a-ree-doo,  Bo wins!

All in all, an exciting opening round.  Some good matches, some squashes, just as you’d expect with any ranked tournament.  On to Round 2!

Bracket A Round 2

 

Rusev vs. Tyson Kidd

I’ll discontinue listing the rankings, as they no longer matter much.  Tyson and Rusev have a good match, but as you’d expect, Rusev wins.

Kane vs. Luke Harper

In what many would say would be a ‘passing of the torch’ match between the “consistently performing big men” of past and present, we have these two going at it.

My booking would have Rollins come out to watch the match, giving Kane enough of a distraction for Luke Harper to win.  Not too much distraction, as Harper would need the clean win for momentum.  Mainly, this is to set up the Rollins / Harper alliance I’ve been preaching for MONTHS!

Plus, a Rusev / Harper match in the quarterfinals?  Sign me up!

Bad News Barrett vs. Stardust

I’m slipping way too far down the fantasy booking rabbit hole here, but I’d like to see Stardust become a little. . .I apologize for using the word, but schizophrenic, as if the Cody and Stardust personalities are battling inside his head.

Not that BNB needs that to win, but I think it’d be fun.  Barrett wins.

Bray Wyatt vs. Neville

Remember how Wyatt came out to interfere with Ryback?  Mr. “Feed Me More” returns the favor here, and the shameful booking of Bray Wyatt continues.  Hey, at least he (Lord willing) would beat Ryback in a feud! Neville wins.

Bracket B Round 2

 

Big Show vs. Damien Sandow

In an epic moment of retribution, setting the wrestling world right once more, Sandow wins over Big Show, giving him the biggest (literally and figuratively) push since he held the MITB briefcase.

Sheamus vs. Kalisto

Goliath and David do battle here, and while Kalisto comes close to beating Sheamus, he can’t overcome the power and size advantage. Sheamus wins.

Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro

Match of the round, if not the tournament so far?  Probably.

In my perfect world, Cesaro would be winning this match.  In fact, in my perfect world, Cesaro wouldn’t even be in this tournament because he’d be fighting Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship!

While I’m doing fantasy booking galore here, I will also try to keep things mostly realistic, so Ambrose wins.

Dolph Ziggler vs. Bo Dallas

This would be the match where Bo Dallas goes from being a joke. . . to a joke who can wrestle.  He and Ziggler would have a good-to-great match and people would walk away with some bo-lief in their hearts.

Ziggler wins, though.  Come on, I’m not crazy!

Quarterfinals

 

Rusev vs. Luke Harper

These two represent the future of ‘big men’ in WWE, so this would be fun to watch.  Both men have their moments to shine, both men come close to victory and in the end, Rusev comes out on top.  We’re all left to wonder what would have happened had this been a no DQ match.

Bad News Barrett vs. Neville

The rematch from the Extreme Rules pre-show has the same result, as Neville wins, further cementing himself as a WWE fixture, something that I have to admit, I never saw coming.

Damien Sandow vs. Sheamus

The meteoric rise of Sandow continues as Damien wins a hard fought match over the Celtic Warrior.  Sheamus, as expected, doesn’t take it well, beating down Sandow after the bell.  Sandow is saved, coincidentally, by the next two combatants!

Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler

Another fantastic matchup between two of WWE’s most popular and talented superstars.  In the end, though, crazy always triumphs.  Ambrose wins.

Semi-Finals

 

Rusev vs. Neville

We all knew these two were going to tangle at some point, we just didn’t expect it to be with so much on the line!  Rusev is desperate at this point - he’s done well in the tournament so far but he’s been pushed harder than he expected to be, plus he’s got a bit of a slump to contend with.  Meanwhile, Neville just keeps getting better.

Rusev, in an act of cowardice we come to expect from him, cheats like crazy in this match, and while Neville fights valiantly to the bitter end, Rusev wins.

Damien Sandow vs. Dean Ambrose

Again, were this the World According to DC Matthews, Sandow would win hands down here.  Guys like Sandow, Cesaro, Harper and New Day, these are the guys I’d be building around, which might be why its a good idea that I don’t own a major (or minor, really) wrestling company.

Another tough, back-and-forth match, another super hard fought victory by Ambrose.  This is the tournament when Dean becomes a true main event guy, have you noticed that yet?

As for Sandow, he’s a shoo-in for IC and US title contention after this performance, which right now is where he belongs.

Ambrose wins.

The Finals of the 2015 DC KOTR

 

 Rusev vs. Dean Ambrose

In one corner, you have Rusev, who is basically acting like the proverbial wounded animal, so desperate to win and regain face that he’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goals.

On the other hand, you have Ambrose, who truly would be a wounded animal by this point.  Super tough matches with Cesaro, Ziggler and Sandow (even Adam Rose, really) have left him injured and in pain.

On the surface, the outcome seems inevitable, no?  Surely Dean can’t overcome the odds of the Bulgarian Brute, especially when he’ll cheat his Russian tail off to win?

Well, that’s entirely up to you.

Perhaps this is anti-climactic, but being that there are a couple different ways to go with this, I thought I’d let the fans decide.  Here are your options for KOTR conclusions.

Rusev wins, as the obstacles are just too high to overcome.  Most likely, Ambrose passes out to The Accolade, continuing to signify his toughness while letting Rusev reign supreme.

Ambrose wins, putting his body on the line over and over and over again, doing whatever it takes, absorbing whatever punishment Rusev throws at him to win.  In the end, both men are down, suffering from some crazy dive by Ambrose, surely, and Dean barely manages to drape an arm over Rusev.

Neville finds his way into this match somehow, trying to pay Rusev back for the cheating in the semi-final.  Sure, he could come out and attack Rusev when his back is turned, but there’s a better way - Lana.

Rusev is dominating the match, looking to be seconds away from victory when the cameras cut to Neville in the back with Lana, the two of them obviously very into each other.  Rusev, as any man should, is distracted by this, first yelling at the Titantron, then beginning to leave the ring, being stopped by the referee.

While the ref is distracted, Ambrose, not one to obey the rules entirely himself, slips a pair of brass knuckles on, nailing Rusev in the head with them as he’s arguing with the ref.  Three seconds later, Ambrose has won the King of the Ring, and we’ve got a full-blown war going on with Neville and Rusev, with Lana stuck in the middle.

The choice, my friends, is yours.  How do YOU want to see this end?  Or do you have a different ending altogether?  What would your ideal KOTR be?

Be Heard.

It’s entirely possible that last night was not the greatest PPV in history.

It might not even be the greatest Wrestlemania on record. . . However . . .

Last night was the most fun I’ve ever had watching a wrestling show

From the tag title match to the main event, I thoroughly enjoyed every part of Wrestlemania that I watched.  (Note: I didn’t say the entire show - I choose to skip the things I don’t care about)  The esteemed and beautiful Mrs. Matthews spent much of the evening rolling her eyes and shaking her head as I laughed, yelled at and otherwise engaged with a television.

Rather than provide you with a review, I wanted to declare today (and possibly every day following a PPV) “Mark Out Monday”.  These are the things I enjoyed far more than others during Wrestlemania.

The Meeting of the Stooges

In the back of our minds, we all knew we’d see J&J Security come face-to-face with Patterson and Brisco one of these days, and it didn’t disappoint.  As expected, Jamie Noble owned his moment, showing why he is one of the most valuable players in WWE over the last 8-10 months.  Brisco and Patterson didn’t do much, and they didn’t need to - Just being there was what mattered.

Ted Dibiase flashing money in the HOF Vine thing.

The Million Dollar Man is, in my mind, one of the top ten gimmicks in wrestling history, so any time I can see that, I’m excited.  Seeing the Money Inc picture posted on Twitter this morning just made it all the more delightful.

 The Tag Team title match

THIS is how you start a show!  I don’t care that it involved 7-8 disqualifiable offenses - It was tremendous!  Los Matadores and New Day’s outfits were on point and everyone (save for the injured Uso) had a moment to shine - including 2 female talents and quite possibly the most popular midget wrestler in history.  I enjoyed every minute of the match, which is not always the case.

If matches like this keep happening, the report of the death of tag team wrestling have been exaggerated.

The Aley Riley / Miz and Mizdow moment

I’m a fan of any time WWE acknowledges its history, even when its minor, so when Alex Riley and Mizdow got into an argument over Miz (who served as Riley’s mentor some years back), I loved it.

Welcome back, Bo Dallas

I had hoped the ATG participants would get some sort of televised entrance, especially when I saw that Bo Dallas was in there, having (to the best of my knowledge) no formal “return” on RAW or Smackdown.  I should have had more Bo-lief, though, because Dallas grabbed his moment and ran (Literally!) with it.  Him sprinting around the ring celebrating was delicious.  He better get a good moment on RAW.  If 2015 can be the year of his brother, why not Bo too?

Big Show almost skinning the cat

Anytime a 400-500 pound guy can grab onto a rope and keep himself from falling, its impressive.  The fact that Big Show, from my view, looked like he was close to pulling himself back up over the rope was, in my mind, a mark out moment.  I know most people hated the result of this match, but it was fine to me.  Once every generation, a giant should win a Battle Royal, and since the ATG is obviously worth nothing to WWE, who cares who wins it?

Mizdow is Awesome!

The turn got buried a bit by Big Show’s victory, but I’m willing to bet Jason, Liam and Bill will tell us that Mizdow owned Levi’s Stadium as he “fired” his boss.  If Mizdow gets a push from this, any push at all, then the ATG Battle Royal was not a failure.

Stardust as Mr. Sinister


One of these two was in the IC Title match.  One is a Marvel villain.  Both are awesome.

Fee Fi Phobia

It isn’t often that Jerry Lawler entertains me anymore, but that joke was Heenan-esque. I toyed with the idea of starting a “You Still Got It” chant from my living room.

The Brutal Bomb

Luke Harper’s powerbomb to Ambrose on the outside ladder was one of the hardest hits I’ve seen in a long time.  I’m positive Ambrose split the back of his head open, and I hope that’s it for the extent of his injuries, but its worthwhile to note he did NOTHING for the rest of the match.

Harper vs. Ambrose at Extreme Rules, if Dean is healthy enough?  How can that be a bad thing?

 Seth Rollins and Orton steal the show.

Hard to pick a match of the night in this card (a reason why its so good) but Seth and Randy, in my mind, won the day.  I could have a number of individual M.o.M’s (Mark out Moments, not Men on Missions) for this match, but in order to save time, let’s keep most of them together.

Rollins backflips into an Orton dropkick.  Seth’s picture perfect Asai moonsault.  Orton sidestepping and spinning Rollins into his rope DDT.

The finish

This definitely needs its own moment.  A phoenix splash that Seth lands on his feet for followed by a Curb-Stomp into an RKO?  Could that be the best finishing sequence in Wrestlemania history?  It’s definitely in the top 10 - maybe even Top 5.  Just tremendous.

This Is Sting!

I didn’t quite get the Japanese drum troupe or why Sting borrowed a coat from the Ringling Brothers circus, but once he walked out, it didn’t matter.  One can argue that history is being made with every second of every day, but it’s rare that we are part of an all-time Wrestlemania moment, and Steve Borden being an official wrestler on a WWE show is an all-time moment.

Sting no selling the knee smash

Complete with the chest-beating that followed.  That took me back to. . . Well, a month or so ago while I was watching early WCW PPV’s.  But still, it took me back.

The Invasion done right.

Again, a lot of moments all rolled into one here.  I had a legit “OMG” moment hearing the DX music, and adored seeing Billy Gunn out-run both Waltman and James to the ring.  (I still think Billy Gunn could contend for the IC belt right now.  One of my all-time favorites.)

At some point during Wrestlemania my Network lagged a bit, so I kept getting spoiled keeping half an eye on Twitter.  Thus, I knew the NWO was coming, but when Hollywood Hogan walked out strumming his guitar, it didn’t matter.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the Hulkster of late (for another upcoming column), but that was fantastic.

I don’t care if it was legitimate or if Nash was trolling us, but when Kevin fell over and grabbed his leg, I laughed for at least 30 seconds.  I actually hope it was a rib on all of us, in which case Kevin Nash should be inducted into the HOF all over again.

Lastly, when Scott Hall handed Sting the bat, JBL had the best commentary moment of the night.  “Damn You, Razor!”  I went back and listened to it two more times, it was so good.

The entire Daniel Bryan / Legends segment

Well, that’s not entirely true - Ricky Steamboat was obviously reading from cue cards (or is just a terrible actor), but everything else was great.  Loved Piper kissing DB on the head, Ric Flair being a just a drunk old man “WOO”ing everywhere, Bret Hart leading a YES! chant and, of course, Ron Simmons just being Ron Simmons.

A Meta-Mark Out

In that brief segment, even with the silliness of it, the Intercontinental title belt became super important.  While we do have a World Heavyweight Champion who will now be around every week, it still is important for the “mid-card” belts to matter, and over the last few weeks, the IC won has shot up in terms of meaning.  Well done, WWE.

The best entrance of them all

What made Rusev’s entrance great wasn’t the “Russian” soldiers.  It wasn’t the music, either.  Wasn’t even the tank, though to be fair, the tank was awesome.

It was the jacket, and you know why.

#WorldElite

Rusev, for the first time, looked like who he is - a legitimate bad-ass fighter who just so happened to be riding a tank.  This is who he should be from now on - Forget the uber-Russian schtick, just be yourself, the Sambo-master who can do spinning heel kicks, flying headbutts and Bulplexes with the greatest of ease.

The Bulplex

Speaking of which, Rusev broke out his old NXT finisher, and I almost jumped out of my chair.  I’m sure I was the only one.

Yabba Dabba Doo!

To the fan who screamed that at a particularly quiet moment, I salute you.

Cena’s springboard stunner.

Never has the word “stunner” been more appropriate - The WWE universe was stunned to see something new in Cena’s repetoire.  I’ll give him this - he brings his “A” game when it matters.

Rock N’ Ronda Express

Much like the NWO, Rocky’s surprise appearance was spoiled by my lagging Network and Twitter being instantaneous, so I can’t list that on its own.  However, when Rock was walking around ringside and I saw some of the other Four Horsewomen, THAT’S when I got excited.  Ronda Rousey did an excellent job in this segment, as did everybody else.  Nobody’s better at being evil than Stephanie McMahon (I’d argue she’s better than her dad at it) and Rock was improv-ing like crazy.

Kudos to the fans as well for the “Ronda’s Gonna Kill You” chant.  Nicely done.

Heeeeee’sss Baaaaaccckkk

No, we didn’t see a motorcycle riding, Johnny Cash playing American Bad Ass enter Levi’s Stadium last night.  But that doesn’t mean that Deadman Inc. isn’t back in business.

I marked out for the first time when I saw his hair.  That’s the hair of the ABA - Undertaker had the look I had been hoping for, and when he hit Old School like he’d been doing it every day for years, I did a dance of joy.

Again, too many moments to mention them all - Here’s what matters.

Bray Wyatt stood toe to toe with the Undertaker, and up until the last Tombstone, the two were equals.  It doesn’t matter that he lost - Let me repeat that.

We didn’t have an official “torch passing” last night, but Bray Wyatt is now on the same level as the Immortals.  If you care THAT much about the fact that he lost, you’re not paying attention to the right things.

The Faces of. . .Disbelief

I don’t know which one I enjoyed more - Taker’s face after Bray kicked out of the Tombstone or Bray’s face (upside down) when Taker sat up.  Both were epic, I know that much.

Brock being Brock

Brock’s entrance didn’t need special fanfare, lighting or a tank - Brock Lesnar IS the tank!  He is a special entrance just by walking to the ring.  I’m not sure where WWE is going with the Brock booking for the next few years, but it’ll be exciting to watch him, no matter who he is facing.

Suplex City!

It wasn’t just Germans, that’s the best part.  Exploders, Fishermans, Belly-to-Bellys, Germans, not since Tazz or Kurt Angle have we seen such variety of throws.

Paul Heyman counting the number of suplexes with relish wasn’t half bad, either.

Roman Rag Doll

Sing it with me, folks!

”He flew through the air with the greatest of ease, that Samoan man being tossed as Brock pleased.”

The Faces of Heyman

There was a moment where Heyman almost looked sorry for Roman - multiple moments, in fact - and at one point, he was talking to him, probably saying “I told you this would be bad.  I told you!”

Then there was the apoplectic look of terror as Reigns began his comeback, getting closer and closer to the 3 count.  Heyman, like Heenan, makes everything he is a part of better.

Forgetting about the World

When entertainment is good, be it sports entertainment or not, you lose yourself in the moment, and when reality (be it in the entertainment or outside of it) hits, you’re shocked that it happened.

That was me when Rollins’ music hit.  I forgot all about him and what he could do, so when I saw him sprinting to the ring with the briefcase, it was something out of a dream.

“What’s he doing - Why’s he. . . Ohhhh, he’s got the case!  (as if he goes anywhere without the dang case). . . Is he gonna. . .He’s cashing it in!  Holy Toledo!!!”

Mania ending as Mania’s Should

THIS is what Wrestlemania, and the World Heavyweight Championship, is all about.  Rollins looked just like HBK looked at the end of Wrestlemania 12 (though Michaels was a bit more tired than Seth was) - overcome with joy.  There’s nothing quite like a life-long wrestling fan’s first World Title win.  I bet Edge had it, I bet Bryan had it, and Rollins TOTALLY had it.  The Architect ascends - I’m surprised I haven’t seen that line online more often.

Wrestlemania 31 WAS a mark out moment

From the first pre-show match to the main event, just about every part of Wrestlemania was brilliant.  The results might not have worked out exactly how you’d like them to (I know my predictions sucked this year), but it was an incredibly good show - among the best of all time.  Let’s sum it up with a paraphrase of one main eventers new tagline.

Wrestlemania 31 could.  Wrestlemania 31 did.

---

What do YOU think?  What were your favorite moments from last night?  Be heard.

Top of the morning to you!

Fun Fact:  The proper response to that greeting is “And the rest of the day to yourself.”

That’s why I’m here folks, to entertain AND inform.

After watching RAW this morning, here are three things that stand out to me.

Where in the world is Sheamus?

It feels like he’s been on the verge of return for months now - Are we really going to need to wait until Wrestlemania for him to show up?  I mean, RAW was the night before St. Patrick’s Day - Don’t you want to have your most obviously Irish superstar appear?

To me, this is proof that WWE isn’t quite sure what they want to do with the Celtic Warrior.  If they had a concrete plan in place, they’d have acted on it already.

In order of predictability, some places where Sheamus winds up at Mania.

 The ATG Battle Royal.  If ever there was a match in need of star power, even for someone with such tepid fervor as Sheamus, this is the one.  Since Mark Henry made his official entry this week, it’s POSSIBLE they’re saving Sheamus’ entry for next week, just to add to the “build”, but if that’s the case, shame on WWE for not taking a risk with some creative booking.

 The IC title ladder match.  I know a lot of people are howling on Twitter about how 7 people is too many for a ladder match, but I think that’s bogus.  We’ve watched MITB matches for years that feature between 6-8 superstars, and over that time we’ve learned that if the writing and talents are prepared and bought in, the match will be good.

To that end, if 7 people can be in it, why not 8?  I was really hoping that after Barrett reclaimed his title and was making his way up the ramp last night, we’d see him met with a Brogue kick and Sheamus taking his turn with the title.  Sure, he’d have been a face if he had done so, but that’s easily fixable at Mania or just after.  Again, maybe they’re just biding their time in the hopes of gaining some Celtic momentum on the ‘go-home’ show, but come on, is Sheamus really THAT exciting?

Something unexpected.  I’ll delve into the deep end of the #PromotingPositivity pool with this one, but I’m hoping WWE comes up with a creative way of bringing Sheamus back that is a pleasant surprise.  If he’s going to be a heel, perhaps he’ll come out and attack Cena, giving Rusev the win.  It’s not quite the “World Elite” stable that friends and I have been hoping for, but it would be some outside of the box booking, which is always nice.

The New-Look Rusev

from WWE.com

Perhaps I haven’t paid as much attention as I should have in the last few months, in which case the look Rusev was sporting on RAW isn’t exactly “new”, but I totally liked what I saw from the Bulgarian Brute last night.  Gone was the “monster” and in its place was a put-together, well-spoken (if Anti-American) super athlete.  THAT’S the Rusev that I think we should be seeing more of post-Mania, with even less focus on his nationality.

Let him be who he is - someone who can outfight perhaps everyone on the WWE roster, including (perhaps) our World Heavyweight Champion.

The Tag Team Title Picture

With the news that Jey Uso is out for the foreseeable future with a shoulder injury, I firmly believe that the best thing WWE can do at this point is to NOT have a tag team title match at Wrestlemania.

It was enjoyable for what it was, but look at what happened on RAW.  We have Tyson Kidd and Cesaro battling New Day, which on its own isn’t so bad.  Then we have Los Matadores come out. . . . And that’s all!  These are the three teams in the tag title picture?  Why do we even have titles at this point?

I mean, I’m not surprised or anything, but we didn’t even see The Ascension!  That’s how far those two have fallen - they’re not even up to the standards of the flippin’ Matadors!

I know that with a 2 hour pre-show the tag title match is destined to happen before 8 o’clock, but does it even need to happen at all?  Just stick all these guys in the ATG Battle Royal and be done with it!

Or, if you’re INSISTING on having this tag title match, WWE, I have one compound word for you.

BoBreeze.

---

What do YOU think?  Where do you see Sheamus at Mania?  Did you like the new Rusev?  Thoughts on the tag title scene?  Be Heard.

Let’s face it, folks. . . Tag team wrestling, at least in the WWE, stinks.  As I blogged about in my HIAC recap, there have been 3 sets of tag champs in the last 12 months… Two of those teams are the ones we saw on Sunday (Dust Brothers and Usos) and the other is Mr. Ass and Road Dogg, the New Age Outlaws, who were 50 and 44 years old during their reign.

Let that sink in for a second; Billy Gunn is 50 years old.

We’ve seen a lot of Rhodes and Usos in 2014, mainly because they are really the only teams going.  You can’t (and I won’t) count Slater-Gator and Los Matadores, at least not until they show me they are more than comedy duos, and that’s it.

It’s a shame - tag team wrestling can be some of the most entertaining - the psychology involved with cutting the ring off, isolating a single opponent; the struggle leading up to the hot tag, then the fresh man coming in like a house of fire - just the fact that 4 wrestlers allows for more combinations and ideally more intrigue.

So this is a problem in today’s WWE.  You know what another problem is?  A seemingly non-existent direction for many superstars, particularly the ones on the lower tier, though many established talents are suffering as well.

Putting on my fantasy booker hat, I am setting out to fix both problems at the same time.  I submit to you, dear reader, 9 tag-team possibilities that would revitalize a barren division and flailing gimmicks.  I’ll even go as far as to recommend a tag finisher, since I seem to have match-ending moves on the brain lately.
Adam Rose and Fandango

No superstars define the term ‘flailing gimmick’ quite like these two.  First you have Rose, who is now relegated to escorting guest hosts and being overshadowed by a bunny.  Though at least he’s on TV, unlike his prospective partner.  Both men have suffered from a one-dimensional gimmick and a catchy entrance song that quickly became more popular than the wrestlers themselves.

I’ve mentioned this before a time or two, but the time has come for both of these men to drop the corny gimmicks, and forming a tag-team would be one way of doing that.  Come out and ‘throw down’ the party hats and dancing shoes, tell the world you want to be respected as wrestlers, and then go out and contend for those titles.  Rather than using the Party Foul (in my opinion, a dumb name and a dumb move...Seriously, it looks like he’s just face-planting himself), Rose hits a neckbreaker followed by Fandango’s Guillotine Legdrop.   I just can’t decide if ‘Serious Business’ is a better name for the tandem or the finisher.

If that name doesn’t work for those two, perhaps it would for

Cesaro and Rusev

Moving on to another pair I’ve been hyping for quite some time, even if its an unlikely one.  Between Rusev’s year-long mega-push and Cesaro’s year-long trip to the WWE doghouse, I doubt we’ll see these two tagging anytime soon, but it does make sense.  This alliance would be one of the most physically imposing and technically dominant in history.

Allow me to illustrate my thinking, and forgive me if you’ve read this from me before.  The duo comes out in Olympic-style wrestling warm-up jackets.  I bet Rusev could pull off a singlet, too, though that’s entirely optional.  No more anti-American stuff either, these two are just the strongest, toughest and overall baddest wrestlers on the planet.  Imagine the World’s Greatest Tag Team, but actually able to live up to the hype (and I say this as a huge Shelton and Charlie fan).

As for their finisher, the world is their oyster.  Right now I’m partial to Rusev lifting a guy up for a wheelbarrow suplex  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a28_RKlRUu0), holding him in place for a Cesaro European uppercut before finishing the move, but seriously, limitless potential.  Why do you need a single finisher when you could have 5 or 6?

Kofi and Big E

Those of you who frequent WWE house shows may argue that these two are already a team, but until I see them as such on television, it’s not official in my book.  I don’t need these two along with Xavier Woods to reform the Nation, although it isn’t entirely a bad idea (Mr. Langston, Mr. Kingston and Dr. Woods), but just give these two SOMETHING.

KofE (as I just decided to call them) has that combination of power and speed/skill that you see in a lot of the great tag teams over the years.  The Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, even to a lesser extent the Dudleyz and Legion of Doom, all these teams had that mixture.  Given a legitimate push and some time to develop, I really think these two could make a name for themselves in the tag ranks.

Speaking of the Road Warriors, we’ll borrow a bit from their playbook for the finisher here.  Big E lifts up the opponent, just like the Doomsday Device, but instead of a clothesline, Kofi runs up the ropes and hits Trouble in Paradise instead, with Big E adding a little extra “Oomph” on the drop down.

Bo Dallas and Jack Swagger

This one is a bit of a stretch, I grant you, but hear me out.  These are things we know.  Bo is a talented talker.  Jack does his best work when he keeps his mouth shut and just looks intimidating.  Dallas is in need of a ‘bo-liever’ or two in order to further his character.  Swagger’s “All-American American” schtick is played out, especially since he failed to beat Rusev three or four opponents ago. Have Bo motivationally speak his way into Swagger’s mind, have Jack ditch Zeb Colter, and you’re set.

I like this finisher idea a lot, though I’ll freely admit to tweaking the idea lots of people have had when it comes to Bo Dallas.  Swagger puts the opponent in the ankle-lock (the Bo-lieve lock).  Bo doesn’t touch the opponent, just gets down on the mat face-to-face with him, encouraging him NOT to tap out.   “You can do it. . . Don’t give up. . . I Bo-Lieve in you!”   It’s sad how giddy I am at just the idea of seeing that on WWE TV.

The Ry Guys

Full disclosure: I was halfway through typing an explanation of how RybAxel never got a fair shake when I came up with this idea and totally changed direction; as such, the tag team name is a working title.  Feel free to send me a better one.

We saw on Monday that Ryback still has some serious love from the San Antonio crowd.  You know who else has that love, or at least he did once upon a time?  Zack Ryder.  With their powers combined, they would be Captain Over! with the WWE Universe!

(Too much?  A Captain Planet reference?  Just want to see where my limits are, gang.)

I’m sure the powers-that-be have much grander plans for Ryback than in another tag team, but admit it, if these guys starting teaming up tomorrow you’d be ordering their t-shirts from WWEShop by the end of business hours.

Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel

Most of these teams consist of guys that need a new start - with these two, it’s about talents who deserve it.  Both Kidd and Gabriel have been super impressive in NXT, and while it seems their fates are set as the “established veterans” who eventually job to the younger talents, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Not to get all NX-Tangential on you, but with the influx of stars like KenTami, Prince Balor and the newly minted Kevin “Beef” Owens (you’d have to be paying attention on Twitter to understand that one), you don’t need to be taking precious NXT time and giving it to two guys who could be making waves in the WWE tag team scene.

Tyson and Justin (with just their first names, they sound like another version of 3MB.  Note to WWE: that was NOT a suggestion!)  could easily be a force in the tag team scene right now, and who knows?  Maybe that would lead to individual WWE success.

Borrowing for another tag-team of my youth, the Quebecers, Kidd locks the opponent in the Sharpshooter, then Gabriel comes off the top with a somersault legdrop or some such.  Match finished.

Sheamus and Bad News Barrett

Another stretch, probably even a bigger one than Dallas and Swagger, since both these talents are established in the “upper mid-card to lower main event”.  Here’s my thinking.

Sheamus is going nowhere, gimmick wise.  Sure, he’ll wind up giving Rusev a run for his money, but that US belt is not long for the Celtic Warrior’s shoulder.  After that, what does he do?  Then you have Barrett, who will be coming back from injury, so probably should take it easy, which a tag-team, even a short lived one, would allow for.  Also, as popular as he will be upon his return, he’ll need a bit of time to re-establish himself before ascending fully to the main event, which I think we all agree is only a matter of time.  So for 3-4 months these two are partners and provide some power, both in name value and in muscle, to the tag division.  Makes sense, right?

Ok, you caught me, I’m just trying to keep the idea alive for my “Heel UK stable” of Barrett, Sheamus, Paige and Adrian Neville.  Let me dream, dang it!

Finisher, finisher. . . Either Sheamus lifts the guy up and Barrett hits the Bull Hammer or Bad News does the lifting and Sheamus hits the Brogue Kick.  Hell, they can do both.

J&J Security, aka Stooges 2.0

There hasn’t been enough time spent heralding the work Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury have been doing as Authority lapdogs these last few weeks.  Seriously, they’ve been incredibly entertaining, and with the tag division as weak as it is, there’s no reason not to run with this and let them have a “legit” tag push.

I use quotations here because obviously it wouldn’t be legit - This would be a reward Triple H and Stephanie McMahon give Noble and Mercury for services rendered.  A title match is set (Usos would need to have the belt for this to make the most sense), Kane comes out and destroys the champs, allowing J&J to capture the belts.

Silly?  Yes.  Would it work for a month or two?  Yes.  Such is the state of WWE tag team wrestling.

Finisher?  Being picked up by Kane and draped over an unconscious opponent.  That counts, doesn’t it?

Wyatt’s Redux

This would be a step back for both these guys, as the promos we’ve seen of late indicate that WWE has intentions to let both try their hand at singles careers.  However, if Bray Wyatt is going to be in the main event picture, these two are going to be associated with him no matter what, so another tag run works for them, especially if they are no longer (officially) members of the Family.

As such, everything about them should be new.  New ring gear - obviously they can’t transition to tights and such, but get Erick Rowan out of the janitorial garb and give Luke Harper a clean shirt.  Promos on their own, stories on their own, thinking on their own.  I don’t remember exactly what their double-team power finisher was, but I do recall not liking it.  Go back to the Harper lariat (is it as good as JBL’s?  Maybe not, but it’s close) and the Rowan splash.  That worked for me.

---

While we won’t see all of these teams. . .Frankly, it’s likely we won’t see any of them. . . I hope this thought experiment proves that the potential is there to save this division.  Tag team wrestling has a place in WWE - I just hope they realize it.

Hell in a Cell has come and gone, my friends, and while I did not get to see the live Twitter-verse reactions, I can tell that the overall impressions are positive.  As they should be, it was a quality show, which as many who don’t #PromotePositivity as much as I do would say, is a rare thing.

I had a fractured viewing of it (watched the first hour last night and the remainder between 3:45 and 5:15 this morning), so I’m probably not the best person to judge the overall product.  However, while I did enjoy the vast majority of what I saw, I can’t help but feel like I am wanting more.  In some cases, that’s a positive, but in others, not so much.

Maybe its that I have more questions than answers right now, so for today’s review, here’s what’s in store:

We start with the pre-show, where besides Paul Heyman’s deliciously disdainful commentary, the best part was

Mizdow TV

Impressions: I had hoped for some more overt signs of dissension in the ranks but it seems WWE is going with the slow burn for these two.  Perhaps that is because Sandow is making The Miz look so damn good.  The patter between the two was fantastic - I went from being legitimately annoyed at Miz for interrupting Sandow’s brilliance to laughing out loud with glee at their mutual exchanges of bro-love.  Most people (not me!) just wanted Miz to go away and never return, but now I think they are actually entertained by him.  Such is the power of Sandow.

Moment:  Sandow going back and forth between trying to copy the Miz’s words and yet be touched by the sentiment.  We discussed this on Twitter recently, but it bears repeating - Is Sandow a top 10 talent in WWE on a pure entertainment scale?  Could he even be top 5?

As for the question and what is next, we’ll save that for the match later in the evening.

We move on now to an unadvertised match, such as it was…

Mark Henry vs. Bo “Washington” Dallas

Impressions:  Not sure what the point of all that was, especially when you add it to the results of the Rusev match later on.  My biggest impression is that Bo Dallas needs more exposure and mic time.

Moment:  Bo’s entire promo, both pre and post match.  He was topical, heelish and yet still hilarious, even after getting his butt kicked.  I still Bo-lieve!

Question:  Could we see Bo Dallas become a mid-card title contender?  I’ll get to this with the next match, but it feels like we’ve seen all of the possible combinations of matches with the current crop of IC and US contenders.  Sliding Bo Dallas into the IC title picture makes sense to me, though I don’t think it’s what’s next.

What’s Next:  For Henry, we’ll once again wait ‘til the Rusev match.  As for Dallas, I think he continues to languish in the undercard for a while.  I don’t think WWE sees him as I do, as a guy who could give Ziggler a run for his money.  He’ll continue to be fodder for the guys they like, but don’t have a place for at the moment.

Now, onto the show proper.   As predicted, we began with what I truly (and incorrectly) thought would be the match of the night…

Ziggler vs. Cesaro

Impressions:  You know what happened here?  I fell victim to one of a WWE fan’s classic blunders.  No, thankfully it did not involve a land war in Asia, but it was almost as bad.  I fell victim to my own hype.  I spent so much time lauding this match as a potential all-time classic that when it was just an excellent match, I wound up disappointed.

I had really expected WWE to give these two 25 solid minutes to tell their story, and so when they moved from chain wrestling to the pinfall roulette in the first 5 minutes, I thought it was rushed.  Had I been more realistic and expected 15 minutes of action, I might not have felt that way.

I’m glad Ziggler is getting the chance to be a legit IC juggernaut in getting the win in straight falls, which I am sure nobody expected.  Cesaro also looked beastly, thanks to...

Moment:  Of course it’s the superplex.  That’ll be a highlight of his for a long, long time.  Serious strength required there.  Still. . .

Question:  What happens to Cesaro now?  He’s failed at capturing both the US and IC titles, and while this feud with Ziggler could continue, Ziggler made his point pretty clear that he was the better man.  With Cesaro still hugging the “tweener” line, there’s no obvious place for him to go.  Considering he is, in my mind and the mind of many others, the best in-ring talent WWE has, that’s a travesty.

What’s Next:  The fact that there is no clear cut place for Cesaro or Ziggler for that matter makes me think this feuds continues regardless of last night’s outcome.  Perhaps this brings out a darker, more vicious side of Cesaro since he was embarrassed at HIAC?  I’d sure like to see that.

This just in, folks, hold on, I’ve got something in the headset here. . . What’s that? . . . Really? . . . No way around it? . . .  Damn. . . Well, sorry gang, but I’ve been told that I need to discuss the Bella match.  I was going to gloss over it, but rules are rules. . .

Nikki Bella vs. Brie Bella

Impressions: Considering I was barely in the room and had the volume all the way down, my impressions are few and far between.  I’m sad this feud needs to continue and I weep for the real women’s wrestlers who are on the sidelines while these two hog the spotlight.  Seriously, why aren’t all the Cena haters blaming him for this?

Moment:  Nikki stealing the Yes! chants after winning.  For all I know, that’s been happening for weeks with this feud, but I got a kick out of it.  I’ll admit Nikki has the “evil woman” look down, though my ears fill with wax and my vision goes all fuzzy every time she grabs a microphone.

Question:  Can this be over now, please?  Of course it can’t, we’ve got at least another 30 days of this, but I think that was just about everyone’s sentiment last night.  Charlotte is languishing down in NXT right now, more so than any other talent considering she is so far above her competition, yet we’ll be getting 4 weeks of Brie getting coffee or being put in otherwise humiliating situations.

What’s Next:  I could honestly care less.

Dust Brothers vs. Uso’s

Impressions:  Another solid match by two solid teams.  My biggest impression is the one I always get watching the Dust’s - Goldust, at 45 years old, is in the best shape of his life.  He’s been wrestling for over 20 years, I’ve seen most of it, and he’s never looked better than he does right now.  The other impression is how much Cody Rhodes is obviously loving being Stardust.  A lot of people keep hoping Cody comes back, but honestly, when this team breaks up, I think it’s going to be Stardust vs. Dustin, not Cody vs. Goldust.

Moment:  When Michael Cole mentioned that the last team to hold the tag titles that weren’t in this match were the New Age Outlaws.  In 2014, only 3 teams have held the tag gold - These two teams, and a couple guys whose primes were over a decade ago.  Let that settle in for a minute.

Question:  Is the tag-team division dead?  I somewhat joked about this idea in my prediction column, but seriously, could we see the tag belts disappear?  The division is void of solid teams and the guys in NXT, as much as I love the Vaudevillains and the Lucha Dragons, aren’t going to save it.  I have to wonder if at some point, Vince and Co. will just decide to say “Screw it” and drop the belts for a year or two.  This is sad.

What’s Next:  Barring the formation of another team or, even more unlikely, moving forward on the Kofi / Big E duo, don’t these two teams have to keep fighting each other?  You can’t honestly tell me Slater-Gator or Los Matadores are contenders, can you?

Time for the most shocking moment of the night, when fans realized that WWE actually seems to know a bit about how to build a wrestling card.

Randy Orton vs. John Cena

Impressions:  WWE Blunder 2 - Never bet against #KidsAndTroops.  Many of us were really convinced Orton was going to emerge victorious, even if it was shady, and get a shot at Lesnar, but no such luck.   Instead we get Cena vs. Lesnar III: Suplexes In Space!

I think this is WWE’s way of covering their bases.  You’ve got a champion with questionable health (though reports say it’s not as bad as we originally thought), all the most likely Rumble comeback guys (Bryan, Reigns, etc.) also have doubts, so Cena once again is playing the role of the fall-back option.  If Lesnar can’t continue wrestling, Cena wins the belt and we move along.  If DB or Roman aren’t ready, Cena is, sadly, the best candidate to main event with Brock at ‘Mania.

I hate how this makes sense.

Moment:  I loved that Orton is becoming a DDP-level master of doing the Ace Crusher out of nowhere.  One of the best things about Dallas Page was that every week, we seemed to see a new version of the Diamond Cutter.  That’s what’s happening now with the RKO.  I’ve been toying with the notion of a series of Finisher columns for months now, but really, isn’t the RKO the best finisher going?

Question:  When does Cena / Lesnar take place?  I think we have a pretty good idea of where both guys are heading (hint: it’s the same direction) so the only question is when Brock comes back.  I’m still thinking it’s the Rumble, though that’s a lot of Heyman / Cena promos to sit through, and even these two can’t keep it going for 2+ months.

What’s Next:  Rollins.  Cena and Seth have unfinished business after Night of Champions and I’m sure we’ll get more Authority strife tonight.  Rollins rubbing it in Orton’s face that Mr. MITB won while Mr. RKO lost.  One half of the  main event of Survivor Series right now looks like a Triple Threat between these guys.

Sheamus vs. Miz

Impressions:  Meh.  This was the one match I probably paid the least attention to that didn’t involve a Bella.  I kept an eye on it in case of any Miz-communications (Sorry, Shannon, but I’m sticking with my pun), but outside of that, it was a match.  That’s it.

Moment:  Since it took place during the match itself, I’ll go with Mizdow selling the Beats of the Bodhran with a slight victory over the Sheamus puppet show post-match.  I’m telling you, Top 5 in entertainment value.

Question: How long can Mizdow take it?  While, to be fair, he’s being featured more prominently now than at any time since he held the MITB briefcase, I have to think Sandow rebels sooner rather than later.  We didn’t see any huge problems between the two last night, but they were there.  Maybe Miz takes issue with Mizdow copying his employer’s beaten form rather than trying to save him from humiliation…

What’s Next:  Miz in the same boat as Cesaro, really.  He’s battled, and lost, both the IC and US champion.  He can’t go back to Ziggler already, just like Cesaro can’t go back to Sheamus.  This mid-card scene is a funny place right now.

As for Sheamus, I think he has a date with the Bulgarian Brute on the horizon.

Rusev vs. Big Show

Impressions:  Solid match with confusing finish.  I’m sick of the uber-Russian gimmick and of people having to pick up the defense of America.  Like a lot of feuds going on now, I’m ready to move on.

Moment:  Big Show putting Rusev in the Haas of Pain was my favorite wrestling move of the entire night, and yes I’m even counting the SuperDuperPlex.  I loved every second of that, and if Rusev had tapped, I’d have celebrated.  I know Big Show is huge and has a legit knockout punch, but the Haas of Pain should be his finisher from now on.  So awesome.

Question: What was the point of Mark Henry being out there?  He didn’t attack Big Show, didn’t get him disqualified, didn’t even really factor into the match at all.  I don’t get the booking there.  We seem to be heading down a road towards another “battle of the giants”, why not start it on Sunday?

What’s Next:  Rusev goes after Sheamus.  He’s beaten just about everybody else, so unless Luke Harper comes back tonight as The Patriot 2.0, Sheamus seems to be the next logical step.  I don’t know if we’ll ever see the Russian title, but I’d pencil in these two for Survivor Series.

AJ vs. Paige

Impressions:  AJ looks like Punk more and more every week.  These two, compared to our first Diva’s match, can actually wrestle.  Paige tapped much too quickly.

Moment:  Paige doing her own version of the Cesaro Swing, though AJ’s rotation kept getting interrupted by the ringside barrier.

Question: Aren’t these two destined to be together?  Both are being booked as being crazy with no friends.  Both obviously have the love / hate thing down to a science.  Do we need to wait for Charlotte to come up before these two join forces?

What’s Next:  With Paige turning on Alicia, we’ll see some Triple Threat matches, I expect.  Much like the tag division, it’s not like there are a lot of contenders out there for either talent to face.

Ambrose vs. Rollins

Impressions:  Someone should study what they’ve done to the Cells over the years to protect people from massive blood loss.  Seems like in the original years you could get busted open just by looking at Satan’s Structure, now it seems like you can actually be forced through the holes of the Cell and still come out non-crimson.

The dual fall felt forced, especially from Ambrose, who seemed to just jump off to be like his friend Seth.  That moment felt very much like they were just shooting the highlight reel moment for the next 10 years of Cell matches.

Moment:  The elbow-drop onto the balanced table, however, now that looked amazing.  I seriously believed someone had broken a limb in that, especially with the way both wrestlers were tangled up at the end.

And, of course, Bray’s return.  It was a thing of beauty, although his uranage suplex (Rock Bottom for those playing along at home) is a better looking move than Sister Abigail.

Question:  How does Bray justify his actions?  As much as I have wanted to see these two feud (crazy has never been so much fun), Wyatt is going to have to make a very compelling case.  He can’t just be another Authority lackey nor can it just be because “I was unstable long before you” - there has to be a legit reason.  The only way I can see it going is for Bray to take issue with the fact that the WWE fans have rallied around Ambrose to save the company, when it is Wyatt himself who is their savior.

Either that or they need to drop the savior act altogether and Bray just did it to get noticed - picked the most over guy in the yard and beat him down.  Unlikely, but with more possibilities.

What’s Next:  Chaos.  And I can’t wait.

podcast@ddtwrestling.com
DDT Wrestling. Copyright 2015-2021.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram