Monday Night Lessons: What I learned from needing attention, The Wisconsin IWC and Raw in general (8-5-2013)

So. Here we are. Another Raw in the record books and we’re that much closer to Summerslam.

That being said, I’m not even going to pretend that I enjoyed this week’s show. I didn’t. From the virtually silent wisconsin crowd, to the abundance of countouts and DQ’s, yesterday’s show was a baffling viewing experience.

Let’s go over the good (and bad) together.

1. An inferno match??!??

The Wyatt Family

The best news coming out of last night’s Raw is that Kane and Bray Wyatt might be competing in a ring of fire match at Summerslam.

While matches like The Elimination Chamber and Money in the Bank are familiar territory, WWE deciding on an inferno match with Kane and The Wyatt Family is the best match type that any of us could imagine.

Kane, when he isn’t cuddly, is a brutal monster. Like when he threw Rob Van Dam through a wall and set Jim Ross on fire. Unpredictable, crazy Kane is super entertaining.

Bray Wyatt is Jim Jones and every psychologically intimidating cult leader you’ve ever read about wrapped into one big package. Add in Kiran and Rowan s’s his silent but brutal partners (numbers!) and you’ve got a match with the potential to put the Wyatt’s on the map. Targeting Kane is one thing, but making me think that you have a chance of beating him when all the evidence says you shouldn’t is what makes The Wyatt Family so special.

Get excited, everyone. This match is going to be HUGE.

2. The Best vs Paul freakin Heyman next week!

This right here is one of the few things that I enjoyed last night. Punk vs Brock was sold for me when Heyman threw the ladder at Punk at MITB, but there’s always that little something extra when you get to hear Brock and Heyman speak. This promo solidifies that this Summerslam match will be as brutal as anything we’ve ever witnessed.

I can’t WAIT!

And I’ll be praying for Paul Heyman in his match next week against Punk. He’ll need all the positive energy he can get to get through that match. Our will Brock be the equalizer that we expect him to be?

3. Everything is wrong with the Diva’s division. Again.

Layla

I don’t know what it is that I don’t like about Layla teaming up with AJ, but it’s rubbing me the wrong way.

Perhaps it’s because I thought that AJ’s problem with Kaitlyn was taking her title and playing mind games with her until Kaitlyn cracked. That hasn’t happened yet, and I’m puzzled as to why that aspect of the story is off the table.

Another problem is Layla’s reason for betraying Kaitlyn. Layla simply wants attention. Okay, terrific.

Almost every single divas storyline revolves around someone wanting attention. Layla, who is beautiful and quirky, should get attention. But this story just doesn’t feel right. I like my own AJ/Layla/Kaitlyn story much better. Because my story builds to something interesting.

Layla also has zero momentum right now. How is this possible? Someone ad talented as she is should not be greeted by the sounds of crickets chirping.

These girls have the chance to make me eat my words with matches, promos and a little more betrayal. Let’s hope that happens.

I’d like to see more stuff like this only with Layla involved somehow:

4. Another awful Divas segment.

This promo is everything I hate about WWE’s attempts at writing for women. Hate, hate, hate it!

E, a network that has nothing to do with wrestling, is making stars out of these girls, but the WWE brass can’t seem to climb out of their enduring hole of sexism long enough to match a minute and thirty second diva segment worth more than a bucket of chicken at KFC.

You can only blame the talent for so long until you take a cold hard look at the situation and realize that sometimes these girls are sat up to fail. It’s an infuriating realization.

4. Daniel Bryan eating meat doesn’t make him more corporate

I understand what WWE is trying to do with Daniel by making him the guy who does what he wants and he’s the best (and hopefully will win) because of that. I get it. But I’ve been sold on Bryan vs Cena since Cena said ”I choose Daniel Bryan”

How about we spend less time on this and more time doing something other than finding sneaky ways to humiliate Wade Barrett?

5. Cody Rhodes has a present for Damien Sandow

Damien & Cody

This absolutely and totally bombed in front of the live crowd in Wisconsin last night, but I don’t care. Nothing in the world can make me hate Cody vs Damien at this point.

That being said, I’m tired of seeing my perfectly coiffed MITB pick as a disheveled mess. I can only hope that our savior has something up his sleeve next week.

6. Alberto Del Rio kicks the bucket.

Del Rio

I have big problems with WWE’s decision to break up Alberto and Ricardo. The main problem is that this little beatdown was completely unnecessary. Why did Alberto suddenly decide to beat Ricardo so viciously? It’s just bizarre.

If this leads to Ricardo interference that will eventually lead into Alberto vs Ricardo, I won’t be so upset. But I doubt that’s where this will end.

Raw overall: I hate to be the overly negative smark, but I didn’t like this show. Raw is starting to feel more and more like a burden at a three hour viewing time, and all that extra time is focused on super lengthy Cena promos and Stephanie McMahon crying backstage. You know, the stuff I don’t want to see.

Thank goodness that next week is the Summerslam go home show, because I’ve got to have a good Summerslam experience this year. WWE has some strong matches on tap for this PPV, so there’s no reason to be squandering interesting stories this late in the game.
And those are your Monday lessons.

Stay tuned for my NXT Review, and other interesting observations from the world of wrestling.

Until next time.

Sunday Night Lessons: Money in the Bank is BETRAYAL

From the time I woke up on Sunday morning, to the time the PPV started, I could not contain my excitement.

Money in the Bank has long been one of my favorite shows, and the little shivers of excitement I felt during the day told me this would be a great show.

MITB did not disappoint. All in all, it was a night of thrills, spills and BETRAYAL. It could not have been a more perfect PPV.

But enough rambling. Let’s get right to those Sunday lessons.

1. Believe in The Shield. And The Uso’s.

To start off what would be an epic night of wrestling, The Shield and The Uso’s performed like someone was getting released. The pre-show match between them started off slow, but built to an almost hysterical climax. It could easily be one of the best pre-show matches I’ve ever seen, and it all ended with The Shield retaining their tag team titles. It was clear that all the participants intended on proving their worth. And they did so in epic fashion.

I debated about whether or not I wanted to watch the pre-show, and boy did I make the right decision. This was the perfect way to kick this show off, and I was blown away by how amazing this match actually was. I was expecting it to be good, but when I saw a 4 man superplex pulled off, it instantly became something special.

2. Damien Sandow betrays his best friend, but attains a chance at greatness.

As I predicted, the WHC MITB stole the show. Some may disagree with my opinion, but I believe the WHC MITB was better than the MITB All Star match. Like, it isn’t even a close contest for me.

The WHC MITB, a gift from heaven, was excellent from start to finish. All the participants in this match took some insane bumps off of ladders, the floor and each other. Cody Rhodes gave Antonio Cesaro a MUSCLE BUSTER into a ladder. I’ve seen that move in WWE games, but in real life!?

But the real star of this match is our NEW Mr. Money in the Bank, Damien Sandow!

Let’s talk about Damien Sandow for a minute.

You see, I picked him to win the briefcase. I love the guy. But when I picked him, I didn’t think he would win. As the match kept going and Cody Rhodes was doing WORK, I became okay with the idea of him or Dean Ambrose getting the big win.

But when Damien came out of nowhere and pulled Cody Rhodes off the ladder, I went into shock. And when Damien unhooked the briefcase and held it in his hands, I screamed and clapped like a complete fool.

And then I saw Cody’s face.

That hurt in Cody’s expression silenced me. And with the two of them looking at each other, one with hate and the other with superiority, I was reminded of what we just lost. No more Rhodes Scholars.
Note: If breaking up a team, this is the way it should go.

Believe it or not, this was just the start of the episode of MITB I like to call BETRAYAL. Read on, folks. There’s more.

3. AJ Lee wins in definitive fashion.

I was kind of confused about this Divas match. The match itself was satisfying because you had stuff like what’s going on in the picture above, but after AJ won, that was it. There was no reaction from Kaitlyn. No post match crying or screaming. Nothing. That could’ve been because of time constraints, but the powers that be at WWE could’ve given us SOMETHING besides a shot of Layla holding Kaitlyn.

Either way, AJ is still the champ. But that isn’t enough for her, is it?

4. AJ Lee, mind your business.

Despite Dolph screaming at her multiple times to go to the back because Dolph’s got this under control, AJ Lee hit Alberto Del Rio with her Divas title, and helping Alberto win the match by DQ.

I’d consider AJ to be one of the more popular divas, and the hate directed at her last night was just amazing. Even I can admit that the match was going great until she hit Alberto.

I expected something, but seeing that was still shocking. It solidifies that ZigLee is on borrowed time. It should be one epic breakup and I can’t wait to see more.

5.  BETRAYAL: The Paul Heyman edition.

The Raw MITB is everything you thought it would be. More action, more spills to the outside, more insane bumps and a whole lot of excitement. There were a few moments where it seemed like anybody could’ve won. Or at least I wish it was that way.
When the Raw MITB started, I was nearly exhausted from screaming during the first MITB, and the subsequent solid wrestling. We had our matches that slowed things down, but it wasn’t as much breathing room as we all needed considering what was coming.

Like Sandow betraying Rhodes, I was floored when Heyman turned on Punk. The thought of that happening never even crossed my mind. But you know what? It was one of the most real moments of the show. The crowd, who had been beyond responsive and fun the whole night, was stunned into silence when Heyman threw the ladder at Punk’s legs. Punk’s facial expression as he laid bleeding on the mat is one that I won’t soon forget.

With this betrayal set in stone, this sets up what should be an intense Brock vs Punk at Summerslam. Here comes the pain!

Oh, and Randy Orton won the Raw MITB. *shrugs*

6. The meh matches were just that.

Jericho vs Ryback, Miz vs Curtis Axel, and John Cena vs Mark Henry were all solid matches, but I don’t have enough in me to care about the results. Which sounds awful, but that’s just how I felt.
This show was all about the briefcases, and those two matches did not disappoint.

And those are your Sunday lessons.

I cannot wait for Raw. The road to Summerslam starts now!

Who will win? My Money in the Bank predictions

WWE Championship Match: John Cena (C) vs Mark Henry

John Cena vs Mark Henry started off with a bang. When Henry slammed Cena to the mat on June 17th and screamed “DO YOU THINK IT’S THAT EASY??” at Cena’s prone body, viewers the world over took notice. Since that time, Henry has been playing serious mind games with Cena, and generally being awesome. He’s even gone so far as to say if he loses at MITB, he’ll be gone from the WWE.

But let’s face facts. Mark Henry has been firmly in the lead as far as interactions go. He one upped Cena by faking retirement and slamming him, he’s verbally shut Cena down every time they’ve gone face to face, and Mark Henry has been built to be the monster we should all fear.

But I can’t help but have a bad feeling about Sunday. You see, no matter how strong Mark is looking up to this point, Cena is almost sure to win. Why? Because NEVER GIVE UP or CHAMP IS HERE. You know, the usual. I hate to sound like the smark that I actually claim to be, but Cena’s shtick has been stale and repetitive. I think it’s time for Mark Henry to step in, take the championship, and let Cena show everyone what never give up really means by having a nice lengthy title chase story with Henry.

But this match will surely end as we all think it will. One can only hope that interesting storytelling comes before predictability and that somehow equals Henry getting the title.

Winner: John Cena

World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (C) vs Dolph Ziggler

I wasn’t looking forward to Dolph vs Alberto at Payback, so imagine my surprise when these two pulled off one of the best matches of the night. It was a tense, brutal battle highlighted by Alberto repeatedly and viciously kicking a prone Dolph Ziggler in his newly unconcussed head. Since then, Dolph’s been chasing Alberto like he stole his rent money, and Alberto hasn’t had an answer for Dolph’s assaults. Or for Dolph dressing up like Sin Cara.

But come Sunday, Alberto can’t hide anymore. And I’m pretty sure this match will be just as good as their last encounter. But make no mistake, AJ or Big E will cause Ziggler to lose the title he’s been trying to hard to get back, and that will start the implosion of Team Zig.(tear)

I’d put money on it.

Winner: Alberto Del Rio

Money in the Bank All Stars Match

MITB Raw

To say there’s a lot going on in this match would be an understatement. But let’s take a second to try to break it all down. RVD is making his debut, Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan hate each other, Sheamus is still Sheamus, Christian’s somewhere in the background waiting for his chance to snatch a contract, CM Punk has problems with Paul Heyman and that’ll probably cost him in this match, and Kane got taken out of MITB when the Wyatt family hit him with steps.

Did I mention that there’s only 6 figures in the picture above? Yeah, it turns out a MYSTERY OPPONENT will be in the match since Kane got taken out. Holy shit.

Since there’s so much going on here, it’s kind of hard to pick a winner. Most of the people in this match have been champions at one point or another, so it’s not like there’s an urgent need for any of them to have it again. In fact, I’d say the only person who I’d genuinely like to see win is Daniel Bryan since he’s on such a roll. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch him chase the title and win it back in a 2 out of 3 falls match, which will officially shut down the whole “18 seconds” thing? Yeah, it would be.

So, if I’m picking someone, it’d be him.

Winner: Daniel Bryan

The World Heavyweight Money in the Bank

Look at all the talent in this match! THIS is the Money in the Bank I’m most looking forward to. How can you go wrong with so many heavy hitters? In fact, the more I look at the photo and try to pick who’ll win, the harder it gets. Any one of these men have a fair chance at taking the big W.

But since this is about putting “money” on it, I’ll start off by eliminating Dean Ambrose. While it would be incredibly interesting for him to lord that briefcase over everyone’s heads with The Shield as his backup, he’s already got the US title and I doubt they want him to drop it at this point. So out goes Dean. Fandango, as much as I love his shimmy, will not be winning either. So that leaves Swagger, Cesaro, Sandow, Rhodes and Barrett.

For the sake of making things interesting, I’m going to go with Sandow. Him and Cody Rhodes appear to be heading in separate directions, and there’s no better way to split a team apart than having one man beat the other man at something they both want in a big way.

Mr Sandow, please don’t let me down.

Winner: Damien Sandow

Divas Championship match: AJ Lee (C) vs Kaitlyn

I got kind of scared of where this story was going when these two started dressing up as each other and throwing around fat jokes, but since that time, things have recovered very nicely. Kaitlyn has been spearing AJ every chance she gets, and she’s so unpredictable that it makes picking a winner in this match not as obvious as you’d think it would be.

My gut feeling is that AJ isn’t losing the title yet. Despite the fact that her and Kaitlyn have been doing some great work in promos and selling this match as something you need to see, I don’t think Money in the Bank is the blow off for this feud. I think Kaitlyn will allow the pressure to overtake her again, lose a second chance at the title, and that’ll really cement her officially losing her mind. Or  someone else will get involved and cause Kaitlyn to lose.

Either way, I’m extremely proud of both AJ and Kaitlyn for stepping it up. When it comes right down to it, AJ and Kaitlyn are strong performers, and the history making contract signing segment on Smackdown proves it. When given the ball and allowed to run with it, they can do anything. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing this match and who will eventually win. The story can only get better from here!

Winner: AJ Lee

Chris Jericho vs Ryback

Okay. So I’m not quite sure what’s going on in this match. Why do these guys hate each other again? I’m not sure. Most of what’s happened between them has been focused on Ryback and his hurt leg. And if I’m being truly honest, the only thing Ryback has done that’s interested me lately is when he hugged Vickie Guerrero on Raw after she was humiliated and fired.

But I think Ryback hugging Vickie will play into this match. I’m not one to always take stock in internet rumors, but I’m thinking Ryback and Vickie will be seeing more of each other. And if that happens, I’ll be very happy.

In any event, this match is kind of on the back burner for me. I’m sure that him and Jericho will do well, but I’m more looking forward to what will be happening with Ryback than the winner of this match.

Winner: Chris Jericho.

Intercontinental Championship Match: Curtis Axel (C) vs The Miz

I would give almost anything to never see Miz wrestle for another title, let alone one that he’s lost more times than I can remember. The IC title has more meaning around the waist of Curtis Axel, and that’s where I’m hoping it’ll stay. Because if Miz wins again, fuck it all.

Winner: Curtis Axel

WWE Tag Team Championship: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns (C) vs The Usos

I believe in The Shield and all, but they’ve got a pretty tough fight on their hands in The Usos. This is a first shot at the gold (or copper) for The Usos, and I’m sad to see this match relegated to the opening. Because opening matches generally go one way, and that doesn’t bode well for the current tag team champions.

Either way, this match should have some solid wrestling action, and it’ll be a good way to start off what’s sure to be a monumental night of wrestling action.

Winners: The Shield

Thursday night Lessons: What I learned from NXT (7-4-2013)

WWE NXT

WWE NXT (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After the mediocre from Raw this week, I figured it was time for me to see some alternatives to Raw. And that happy alternative is NXT. In this review, I hope to give you an honest impression of NXT from someone who hasn’t seen the show. Will one viewing of this show make me a fan? Or will this show frustrate me more than Raw? Let’s find out together.

Note: I’m considering this a bonus article for this holiday weekend, and I’m not sure if it’ll make the regular review rotation, so enjoy it now. It may pop up again, or it may not!

1. The not so subtle differences between Raw and NXT

Only a few minutes into my first viewing of NXT and I was pleased to notice immediate differences between the two shows. The most obvious being the more intimate crowd setting. Raw generally caters to big arenas, so you don’t get to hear honest reactions play out unless it’s a place like New Jersey where they make themselves heard. With NXT, you have no choice but to notice everything.

Not to mention the announcing, an absolute burden to sit through on Raw, is subdued on NXT. You will not be annoyed by the voices of William Regal and Scott Sanford. There’s no part of announcers trying to get themselves over, or Jerry Lawler talking about puppies or making embarrassing comments during the women’s matches. This is a straight up wrestling show with serious commentary. What a nice change.

2. Women’s wrestling with no boundaries

In another welcome change from Raw, the female competitors are talked about as if they contribute something to the show! No slut or whore talk can be found on NXT, which is a HUGE breath of fresh air.

In a bit of a bonus, I also got to see Paige wrestle for the first time. After hearing so much about her, I can understand why she’s so hyped. She’s good. Like, better than the Bella twins good. Like, she should probably be on the main roster good. Not to rush things, because they’re doing fuck all with the women on the big shows these days.

Moving on.

Alicia Fox, who we haven’t seen on the big shows in weeks, was actually made to look like a threat to Paige in her match. And make no mistake, Alicia can GO. It surprised me how good she’s gotten. And did I mention that Alicia and Paige were wrestling in an NXT women’s title tournament? Not a  battle royal, but a tournament with actual brackets? Yeah, that just happened.

Overall, solid work by both ladies that told a little story and didn’t make me want to throw my laptop out the window. A strong start to the show that doesn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth.

3. 45 minutes is better than 3 hours.

Perhaps it’s because I had no expectations going into the show, but what little I was expecting was surpassed by the quality of wrestling, the characters and the overall feel NXT. NXT is not the Monday night burden that Raw seems to become. It feels more like a weekend pick me up. And that’s a good thing. I’m so used to being let down, frustrated or bored with Raw that I forget that wrestling can still be fun if it’s done correctly.

Sure, I have the superstars that I love to watch on the big shows, but if someone gave me Daniel Bryan in 45 minutes, I wouldn’t turn it down.

4. My preference for heels takes a nose dive with Xavier Woods.

My natural inclination when watching wrestling is to go for the bad guy. Not because I’m being contrary or smarkish, but because bad guys are so much fun to watch. But I saw Xavier Woods for the first time and now all that’s changed.

I’m not normally one for the smiling dancing super face, but with Woods, it works. By the end of his match with Scott Dawson, I was bobbing my head to the beat of his music and humming right along with him. It was FUN. I didn’t have to think about how silly this was or who was making who look better in the match. I just had fun, watched and came back to write this paragraph. Good stuff from both wrestlers.

5. Follow the buzzards

All I can say about the NXT version of the Wyatt Family is I am praying to whatever wrestling god’s exist that they stay the way that they are on this show. If THIS Wyatt Family goes to Raw, they could be huge.

A good buddy of mine who writes at The Wrestling Journal stated that he had a particular love for the Wyatt’s because of their demented tendencies. And I understand why. The one promo from the Wyatt’s made me feel excited to see them on Monday and absolutely terrified at their collective potential for damage. This one promo made me want to go back to other NXT episodes just to see what they’ve been up to. It was that good.

6. Antonio Cesaro is too good for wrestling

After not seeing Antonio wrestle for longer than 6 or so minutes, it was great to see him go toe to toe with Bo Dallas this week.

What I like about Cesaro is that he looks like he isn’t even trying to wrestle as great as he does, he just goes out there and makes it all count. He didn’t stumble to the next move, he MOVED to the next move. And everything he did made sense. He was allowed to be the bad guy without cheesy count outs or an overall lack of offense on his part. And as we all know, Antonio doesn’t disappoint when he’s allowed to go the distance.

7. The worst part of this show is Mason Ryan

I had a slew of characters tossed my way on NXT and most everything I saw was great. Except for one guy. Mason Ryan is the WORST. He was the only person I didn’t feel any kind of connection with. In a match with Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy, who I wanted to be stomped, he didn’t bring any intensity or give me any reason to cheer for him at all. They did two squash matches with Mason and I can barely remember what happened during both.

Mason Ryan, screaming and flexing to show how tough you are is boring. We are now in an age where a short bearded guy is the most popular wrestler on the card. And he’s putting on PPV quality matches and hardly breaking a sweat while doing it. Can you do that, Mason? Probably not. Give me something more than what you’ve got going on now. Please.

I’ve heard that he’s been given a run on WWE television before, and if that’s true, wow. He hasn’t improved not one bit. As a matter of fact, someone may have to remind me of what he did on Raw, because I don’t remember anything about him. Seriously.

8. Why aren’t you watching NXT?

From beginning to end, I was thoroughly satisfied with the 45 minutes I spent watching NXT this morning. Solid, exciting wrestling packed into 45 minutes. Who can be mad at that?

Not to mention this show is your chance to get “close” to certain superstars before they hit the big time. If what I saw on this show was an indicator of every episode of NXT, I might just have to make NXT part of my weekly wrestling line up.

But why take my word for it? See the episode I just reviewed and make the choice for yourself.

Until next time.