WWE Elimination Chamber 2017 Results & Review

-The most painful detour on the Road to WrestleMania!
-Tonight is WWE Smackdown’s last major show before WrestleMania. Raw will return next month for Fastlane. Jeez they are loading up on these special events now that the have the WWE Network to constantly churn these shows out left and right.
-Due to Smackdown’s shallow roster we only have one match for the pre-show and it was Mojo Rawley versus Curt Hawkins A.K.A. “The Battle of Ryder’s Tag Team Partners.” Mojo win’s a pretty formulaic match because Hawkins is clearly only back to be the job guy.

1. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James

-This is the first of three women’s matches on tonight’s show! Wow! This is the first time that a major show in WWE has had more than two women’s matches. Good for Smackdown!

-Mickie James, who returned to the WWE in an amazing match with Asuka at TakeOver: Toronto, has spun her return into a spot on the Smackdown roster.

-The veteran James targets the left arm of the former Smackdown Women’s Champion as she uses her experience to get the better of Lynch. Nice touch as it is usually Becky who targets the arm and shoulders of her opponents.

-The crowd sits on their hands as James remains the aggressor in this fairly one sided contest.

-As we hit the home stretch Lynch makes her comeback, but wisely continues to sell the arm. She hits a nice drop kick from the top rope and then locks in an abdominal stretch, but gets hit with the Mick Kick for a two count!

-Lynch goes for the Arm Breaker, but gets rolled up by James, who gets rolled up herself by Lynch for a quick three count! Dang! I was hoping for a bit more and a more decisive finish, but I guess they need to build up Lynch for when she inevitably wins the title back.

-James looked good as the cagey veteran, but I was hoping for much more from these two experienced women.


2. Handicap Match: Apollo Crews & Kalisto vs. Dolph Ziggler

-As Kalisto makes his entrance Ziggler jumps him on the ramp to the anger of Crews who was already in the ring.

-Now it seems this will remain a one-on-one for the time being as a fired up Crews rushes “The Show-Off.” The newbie doesn’t stay in control for long as the former Intercontinental Champion slows it down using neck breakers and submissions.

-Ziggler keeps targeting the neck of Crews as Kalisto returns, limping to the ring; face grimaced.

-Crews hits a solid kick to the head of Ziggler, gets the tag to Kalisto. He hits a beautiful handspring roundhouse kick followed by Crews Spin Out Powerbomb for the victory.

-And angry Ziggler refuses to let them celebrate and cheap shots Kalisto again, and wraps a chair around Crew’s ankle before kicking it repeatedly.

-This was less of a match and more of an angle trying to get over the new attitude of Dolph Ziggler who I hope he just stays heel forever as happy-go-lucky superkicky Dolph Ziggler was the shits.

-Not a memorable segment or match though.


3. Tag Team Turmoil Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

-The team of Heath Slater and Rhyno will start this match off with The Fashion Police; Fandango and Tyler Breeze.

-The Police work over Slater for awhile, but a gore from Rhyno marks the first elimination of the match as The Vaudevillians make their way to the ring.

-The Vaudevillians get some great offense in, but Rhyno spears Gotch, as Slater catches English with a nice elevated DDT for the second fall of this match. They didn’t last long.

-The crowd starts a “He’s Got Kids” chant for Slater as The heel version of The Usos enter the fray. Slater and Rhyno put up a good fight, but the fresher Usos land a nice kick on Slater for a three count.

-The champions, American Alpha, are out next and hit the ring like a house of fire until Gable is isolated by the tandem of brothers who slow the pace down, finally.

-Gable finally gets the hot tag to Jordan who gets a big pop for eliminating The Usos. The heels attack the champions after the fall to soften them up for their final challengers, The Ascension.

-The champions look ripe for the picking as Jordan is hit with The Fall of Man, but Gable breaks up the pin at the last moment. Jordan eats a lot of punishment, but finds an opening and hits a belly-to-belly suplex to Konnor.

-Gable gets tagged in and dodges Victor to help Jordan hit a Grand Amplitude to retain their Smackdown Tag Team Championship! Nice finish.

-A lot of fun fast and furious action here. Not a ton to complain about other than the obvious lack of psychology that goes along with huge multi-team matches like this.


4. Nikki Bella vs. Natalya

-This is the second of three matches featuring the Smackdown’s women’s division features the jealous heel Natalya taking on a babyface Nikki Bella? What a twist.

-Bella starts off with a lot of fire at first showing off her desire for vengeance against Natalya who has been mocking her in recent weeks.

-Natalya takes control of the match after the opening moments and plays up the vocal heel antics to almost annoyingly over the top levels. She is a great in-ring talent, but Natalya is not a subtle heel by any means.

-The crowd is noticeably dead for this match.

-Natalya hits a huge superplex on Bella followed up with a nice looking Sharpshooter. but Nikki counters into a STF, but Natalya lifts her up and slams her.

-The girls brawl to the outside and both fail to make it back into the ring to answer the 10 count. Double count out. The two keep going at it to sell the personal issues they have which I appreciate.

-I appreciate the effort here, but the crowd was dead for this as Natalya needs work as an effective and I don’t think the crowd is too eager to cheer for a babyface Nikki Bella who is always showcased as a brat on her reality shows.


5. Randy Orton vs. Luke Harper

-Well the outcome to this match shouldn’t surprise anyone. Does anyone out there believe Harper has any chance at beating the 2017 Royal Rumble match winner?

-Despite the story being a bit of a replay of the Daniel Bryan/Wyatt story from a few years ago, the video package does a nice job of selling me on this match.

-This match starts slowww. Orton always paces his matches like a turtle and the crowd has no interest in what is going on here.

-Harper has some solid offense and looks good against the 12-time world champion, but it still isn’t enough to wake the crowd up. Which is a shame as I’ve always though Harper was underrated and deserved a shot as a singles competitor.

-Orton looks to finish it with his RKO but eats a sick looking kick followed up by another one for a near fall. Harper keeps on the offense as they finally win the crowd over with a light “This Is Awesome” chant.

-The two resort to forearming and punching each other until Harper goes for the Discus Clothesline, but Orton finds his opening in this moment for the RKO. One. Two. Three.

-I was not into this at all at first, but Harper won me over a little in the closing moments by bumping like a boss and having some excellent offense in this. Typical Randy Orton match from Randy Orton though. I was happy to see the commentators work so hard to put over Luke Harper even in his losing efforts.


5. Alexa Bliss vs. Naomi for the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship

-This match came about after Naomi scored a few high profile pin-falls over the rookie women’s champion who was still in NXT barely six months ago.

-Naomi knows how to make an entrance, I will give her that. The glow in the dark stuff works well for her attitude and character.

-The champion gives off all the cocky vibes. Spitting gum and flipping her hair in Naomi’s face which almost cost her as the challengers rolls up the champion for a two in the early moments.

-Naomi has come a long way in her years in the WWE and her offense looks really crisp here. I’m into it.

Naomi hits the Rear View! Only a long two count though.

-Bliss takes control but her cockiness gets the better of her and Naomi makes a comeback, but these seems to be some miscommunication in the finish. Bliss goes for her finish, but gets countered. Split-legged moonsault for the win! Naomi is the new Smackdown Women’s Champion! Good for her.

-This match was all Naomi as her offense looked great, but Bliss still needs some work I think. Naomi begins to weep as the crowd gives her a “you deserve it.” She will take the title home to Orlando for WrestleMania. Good for Naomi. A great moment, but not a spectacular match.


Elimination Chamber Match the WWE World Championship

-The champion John Cena. AJ Styles. The Miz. Dean Ambrose. Baron Corbin. and Bray Wyatt. The best of Smackdown are in this match.

-This is also the formal debut of the brand new Elimination Chamber structure. I have to say. I like it. Looks much cleaner, and dangerous.

-Bray Wyatt’s entrance through the chamber – Amazing! I watched it twice.

-To my absolute surprise it will be John Cena and AJ Styles starting off this match! I was for sure they would have been saved for last. I like it though as they will both kill themselves to keep this match engaging.

-The two go through their arsenal of moves until Cena goes for a Five Knuckle Shuffle, but he stops to prepare as the countdown begins for the third entrant. It’s Dean Ambrose.

-These three men have a fun series of triple threat moves in which Ambrose looks like, well, a lunatic before number four enters the match.

-Bray Wyatt comes in next and has his way with all the competitors.

-The four men start showcasing the new structure as Cena and Styles scale the cage and Ambrose and Styles bump on top of one of the pods.

-Corbin comes in at number five. No eliminations yet. He targets Ambrose on the outside with a Deep Six.

-Corbin hits a End of Days to both Styles and Cena, but doesn’t get to go for a pin-fall as Ambrose is back to attack Corbin.

-Everyone, but Corbin, is out on the floor as the final entrant, The Miz, exits his chamber. Wild. Still no eliminations.

-Ambrose rolls up Corbin who gets eliminated in anger as he was distracted! He takes his anger out on Ambrose by tossing him though a plexiglass pod. The Miz finally leaves his pod and pins Ambrose who was left decimated by an eliminated Corbin.

-Four men left. Styles, Cena, Miz, and Wyatt.

-The Miz mocks Daniel Bryan’s “Yes chants” which kicks to Wyatt and Cena. He then takes turns drop kicking all three of his opponents. Cross body to Cena, but he rolls through. Attitude Adjustment. Academic. The Miz is out.

-Wyatt and Styles focus their efforts on the champion, but that alliance is short lived due to the unpredictable Wyatt.

-An Attitude Adjustment to Wyatt. A Styles Clash to Cena. A two count! This is anyone’s ballgame. The crowd is into it.

-Styles misses a flying forearm and gets the Attitude Ajustment! He kicks out at two!

-Cena hits a huge cross body from the chamber pod to both of his challengers, but Wyatt follows up with a Sister Abigail and eliminates John Cena! We will crown a new WWE World Champion! Either Bray Wyatt or AJ Styles will leave tonight as champion!

-The two trade some brutal shots, but Wyatt is the fresher competitor as Styles started the contest. Styles goes for the Flying Forearm, but gets caught in Sister Abigail. Bray Wyatt finally captures WWE gold inside the Elimination Chamber.

-We get a final stare down between The Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton and the new WWE Champion, Bray Wyatt, to close the show.

-The final three of this match was brilliant. The whole match was a lot of fun, but Styles, Wyatt, and Cena stepped it up and had a great final triple threat encounter that built a lot of tension.


This was such a “One Match Show.” All the “must see” Smackdown superstars were in the main event. This left the other six matches on the show feeling very lacking despite everyone on this show working really hard. However, I will give credit to the writers of Smackdown for using almost every active member of their roster on this card (which is a littler alarming honestly).

JBL kept making vague digs to the fact that there were too many commentators for tonight’s show, which he is absolutely right. Four people in an announcers booth is just ridiculous. Two is the perfect storm. One color commentator. One play-by-play guy. No more. No less.

Also, we got no less than four commercials for WrestleMania. WHAT THE FUCK. Killing time? Beating the horse to death? Either way I could have done without seeing the same commercial every 30 minutes. At least advertise something different to break up the time.

It was ballsy to put on three women’s matches on this event, unfortunately all three under-performed despite all six women trying hard. Good for Naomi and Wyatt for finally winning gold in the WWE after years of hard work!

Definitively not a must see event, I’d give Harper and Orton a light recommendation and would say definitively check out the main event for the new chamber structure and a thrilling finish to put Wyatt over strong.

Mandatory Viewing:

-The Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE World Championship

WWE Royal Rumble 2017 Results & Review

-It’s the start of the “Road to WrestleMania” as the WWE brings the Royal Rumble back to San Antonio’s Alamodome for the first time in 20 years. On that night, Shawn Michaels won the WWE Championship in his hometown and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin won the first of three Royal Rumble matches.

-A little run down of the pre-show. The Smackdown’s six women’s Tag Team match was exactly like every other six women Tag Team match we’ve seen.

-Cesaro and Sheamus versus Gallows and Anderson was serviceable, but not must see. It was great to finally see “The Club” capture the titles.

-Nia Jax looked dominate beating Sasha Banks so easily, but the crowd was flat for all five minutes of this.

-Shawn Michaels, who is really starting to show his age, makes an appearance in front of his hometown crowd to cap off the two hour pre-show. Jesus, does a pre-show really need to be as long as Smackdown?

1. Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw Women’s Championship

-Michael Cole brings up an interesting stat that Charlotte is 15-0 in championship matches on Pay-Per-View. Ridiculous isn’t it? Cole then brings up that Bayley does hold two victories over Charlotte in recent weeks.

-A very clunky opening sequence from Bayley, but Charlotte slows things down and takes control of the offense. She locks in – ALL – the rest holds!

-The champion wears down the challenger and taunts her calling her “just a fan.” Good stuff. Bayley goes for a beautiful big elbow from the top rope to try and make up some ground, but only gets a two count.

-Bayley’s offense is wild and reckless, while Charlotte is slow and calculating. They mesh well to tell a good story.

-Bayley perches the champion on the top rope, but she fights her off and hits Natural Selection to Bayley on the edge of the ring apron for a three count!

-This was a good match, but I don’t think Bayley got to be in control long enough to look like a threat to the champion. I’m hoping for a rematch on Pay-Per-View.

-The best news here is that Charlotte looked really crisp and dominate in this opener.

2. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Champion

-This is a No Disqualification match for the WWE Universal Championship in which Kevin Owens best friend, Chris Jericho, will be suspended in a shark cage above the ring.

-Chris Jericho is just an amazing performer and his reluctance to get in the cage is just hilarious. They fake out Reigns and both jump the “Big Dog,” but he fights them off and locks Jericho into the cage.

-Champion and challenger immediately go to the outside and walk and brawl through the crowd. Meh. My least favorite part of all Street Fight/No DQ/No Holds Bared matches.

-Owen’s sets up a strange multi-chair pyramid thing on the floor and attempts a power bomb from the apron but Reigns fights out and then turns and mocks Owens silly creation.

-Reigns looks to set up a table, but Owen’s sneaks up with a sick looking back stabber! Nice! You can hear Jericho cheering and clapping for his friend, above. I love Jericho!

-Owen’s keeps targeting the ribs of the challenger with chair shots and brutal looking frog splash from the top rope through a table on the outside. Really good looking. Owens lands perfectly on Roman.

-Owens begins to look for ways to finish off Reigns, and Jericho drops down some brass knuckles as the WWE Universal Champion mocks Reigns and goes for and hits a Superman Punch on the Samoan. Question thought, why did Jericho have to sneak a weapon into a match where weapons are allowed? Hmm-?

-Despite not having the most complimentary styles, and neither of them being the smoothest of wrestlers, these two have surprisingly good chemistry. The shortcuts of this gimmick match definitively help.

-They start trading big moves and Owens tries again to slam Reigns through his stack of chairs, but eats a Superman Punch and falls back through the pile of metal. I’m sure that hurt like hell.  He follows up with a huge power bomb through the announce table.

-With Reigns in firm control it looks like we are getting a new champion, but Braun Stroman comes out of nowhere chocks slams Reigns through one table and power slams him through another to allow Owens to retain his title.

-I guess this means Stroman will not be winning the rumble tonight, because this surely means they will face off at WrestleMania.

-A good spectacle match, but I don’t think these two are the best opponents for one another. They worked so hard though, and that should not be overlooked. Fun stuff. Leave your brain at home when watching this if you want to enjoy it.


3. Rich Swann vs. Neville for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship

-I’m really hyped for this match, as I think Neville will surely win and hopefully carry the Cruiserweight division to new heights in 2017.

-Both men are so quick, but the heel Neville takes control with a few big moves before grounding the champion with submissions and slams into the barricade outside.

-Swann is seriously warn down, but creates some separation to land a big move to the outside on Neville. Swann then mauls Neville with absolute fury in his frustration with being dominated for the first half of this contest.

-They start trading really beautiful kicks to the head, my goodness. These two are really good at execution. Everything looks so snug and crisp in this match.

-Neville locks in a crossface-armbar and the worn down Swann taps to begin what will hopefully be a long and dominate reign for Neville as WWE Cruiserweight Championship.

-A really fun match, but I feel like this should have gotten more time than it did? Why couldn’t we have had another ten minutes for this match to really tell a story? It would have certainly given Neville and Swann enough time to really take the fans on a ride.


4. AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

-Last year, John Cena and AJ Styles had my favorite match of the year aside from Nakamura and Zayn’s near perfect match at TakeOver: Dallas. I’m hoping they give us a Match of the Year contender here to set the “Road to WrestleMania” on the right track.

-AJ Styles, the champion, enters before the challenger and thus triggering my number one pet peeve. The challenger should always enter first.

-No screwing around from these two pros as they go right into trading momentum with several really clean looking sequences. I love watching these two wrestle together.

-Styles breaks out the torture rack into a power bomb that he used on Cena at SummerSlam last year. Nice call back.

-Styles bails on an attempt at a flying forearm and Cena lands an early Attitude Adjustment for the first of what will probably be many near falls.

-You can see the frustration in Cena’s face grow and his intensity and anxiousness helps ad tension to this story. He is a master storyteller.

-Styles fights off a focused Cena for a pele and his first Flying Forearm for a two count! They start trading punches as Styles throws kicks to Cena’s leg to set him up for the Calf Crusher.

-They trade submissions in their beautiful reversal sequences. They crowd is so into this. It’s infectious. They follow up with several reversals until Cena locks in a Figure Four Leg Lock as the announce team bring up Cena potinetially tying Ric Flair’s legendary championship record.

-Cena goes for the top rope leg drop, but Styles dodges and his the Styles Clash! ONly a two count! Holy crap!

-“The Phenomenal One” stays focused and goes for a 450 but the challenger gets his knees up and hits a beautiful Code Red for another two count! Jesus!

-After everything else fails, Cena goes to the top rope with Styles and hits an Avalance AA, but STILL AJ Styles kicks out to the roar of the crowd. Cena with a look of shock.

-Cena goes for the AA again, but AJ counters into a Styles Clash but doesn’t go for the pin. He sets up for the final Flying Forearm, but Cena catches him and hits TWO Attitude Adjustments in a row to finally win his record tying 16th World Championship in an amazing main event match.


5. The Royal Rumble Match

-No. 1 is Big Cass and what an odd choice as usually the first entrant ends up being a distance runner in the match, but  I don’t see Cass being able to go the distance. Maybe I’m wrong. Amore does get to do a great job pumping up the exhausted crowd who just got to see an amazing title match.

-And of course, at No. 2, here to spend another damn hour in the Royal Rumble match, it’s Chris Jericho!

-Kalisto is in at No. 3 as Cass delivers a big boot to a mid air Jericho. He also gets flattened by Cass as No. 4, Mojo Rawley enters the fray. The three men team up on Cass to try and eliminate the largest man in the match. Sound strategy. I like it.

-No. 5 is out and it’s Jack Gallgher with William the 3rd, his umbrella! He gets a nice little flurry of offense and a fun spot with Jericho. Still no eliminations. Texas native Mark Henry enters at No. 6 to a small pop. How is he still not retired?

-Gallagher is the first man eliminated as Henry tosses him out after he fails to hit a double ax handle. At No. 7 Braun Strowman enters the ring to surly eliminate EVERYONE.

-The wise veteran, Jericho bails immediately as Strowman eliminates Rawley, Big Cass, Kalisto, and Henry in quick order. Only Strowman and Jericho remain.

-We saw earlier in the night, Sami Zayn drew No. 8 and we get the face off between these two rivals. Zayn like a pit bull dog does his best to combat the monster, but is unable to make much headway.

-One big man not enough? How about another one?! The Big Show enters at No. 9 and we get the big boy face off as we catch a glimpse of Jericho cowering by the announcers.

-The two monsters go back and forth, but Strowman gets the better of the veteran and gets his fifth elimination.

-There you go internet! “The Perfect 10” Tye Dillinger is in at No. 10 (of course)! Zayn and Dillinger team up but still fail to make progress on Braun as James Ellsworth comes in at No. 11, but does not enter the ring.

-Here we go. No. 12 is Dean Ambrose who might be crazy enough to eliminate Braun all by himself. Ambrose pumps up Ellsworth to enter the ring, but he is quickly tossed out by Braun.

-All men try to take down the big man, but even a triple team doesn’t seem all that effective. No. 13 is Baron Corbin and now we will see the two big monsters of Raw and Smackdown go toe-to-toe. Dillinger is out as Braun makes his 7th elimination.

-Zayn hits Braun with a Helluva Kick and “The Lone Wolf” knocks out Braun Strowman! Impressive showing by Braun. He looked super dominate here. Jericho, Ambrose, Corbin, and Zayn are left as Kofi Kingston enters at No. 14.

-The Miz, who had a fantastic 2016, marks the halfway point at No. 15.

-Kofi nearly kills himself trying to do a cool near-elimination spot on the turnbuckle. Jesus.

-Definitely not winning, Sheamus is in at No. 16. We have reached the point in the match where not much is happening except punching and kicks against the ropes as Big E enters at No. 17 to join Kofi Kingston.

-With a beautiful face mask, Rusev enters a packed ring at No. 18 and gets a piece of everyone.  It feels like the ring is simply filling up for either Goldberg or Lesnar to clear.

-The other half of the former Raw Tag Team Champion’s Cesaro is in at No. 19. He gives everyone a swing and nearly gives one to his partner, but is kicked by Rusev before he can.

-And we now have all three members of The New Day in the Royal Rumble for Goldberg to toss out as Xavier Woods joins the match at No. 20.

-A man who I thought would have won a Royal Rumble match by now, Bray Wyatt slowly walks to the match at No. 21.

-No one has been eliminated in a long time which mean one of the big names in this match is about to really get a big push.

-Apolo Crews enters at 22 as Cesaro and Sheamus eliminate all three members of The New Day! Holy crap.

-The celebration is short as No. 2, Chris Jericho, dumps them both out to clear the ring a little bit. The two partners have a face off on the outside.

-2009 Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton, coming in late at No. 23. RKOs for everyone! Following Orton comes another Smackdown star at No. 24, Dolph Ziggler.

-Super kicks for everyone as the crowd starts a “Goldberg!” chant. No. 25 is the third and final member of The Wyatt Family, Luke Harper. He eliminates Crews and faces off with Randy Orton as Bray tries to defuse the situation. But Harper takes them both out. Harper nearly delivers a Sister Abigail to Bray, but Orton hits the RKO.

-And its time to wake up. Brock Lesnar is here at No. 26 with pyro and Paul Heyman. Ambrose and Ziggler are eliminated without a second thought and then supplexes and F5’s as far as the eye can see. a great visual with just Lesnar and a bunch of bodies on the ground.

-Lucky No. 27 belongs to Enzo Amore who is surely about to become a snack for the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Clothesline. Toss. Thanks for coming Amore!

-Only three entrants left. No. 28 is Goldberg and I wish J.R. was here to say “business has just picked up!” The crowd is pumped for this. Face off. Goldberg hits the spear and eliminates Lesnar with ease! Holy shit! Lesnar is irate and the Alamodome is shocked!

-Orton and Wyatt team up on Goldberg but get a spear for their troubles as Goldberg surveys all the carcasses left in the ring.

-Only two entrants left.

-It’s him. At No. 29, its The Undertaker. Goldberg keeps and eye on the entrance ramp, but The Undertaker appears out of nowhere behind him! The two legend face-to-face for the first time ever! Corbin and Rusev break it up, but Corbin gets eliminated by The Undertaker for his troubles.

-Goldberg tosses Harper, but The Undertaker tosses Goldberg right after! WOW!

-Only No. 30 remains.

-The final entrant to the 2017 Royal Rumble is Roman Reigns!? What!? The crowd is not impressed whatsoever.

-Reigns and The Undertaker start trading punches. Superman Punch to The Undertaker, but a second one is welcomed with a Chockslam.

-The Miz and Sami Zayn are eliminated by The Undertaker. But he goes to eliminate Chris Jericho and is tossed out by Roman Reigns. The Texas crowd is pissed!

-Only Reigns, Wyatt, Orton, and Jericho remain. Jericho has now been in the match for over an hour, but is Superman Punched right after the one hour mark.

-Just like in 2015, Reigns is in the final three taking on a duo. What a new concept.

-Wyatt gets tossed and its now just Orton and Reigns. Randy Orton hits the RKO, and Orton wins his second Royal Rumble after clotheslining out Reigns. Well then.

-This was a lot of fun. It, like many Rumbles do, dragged in the middle, but the closing minutes were nail biters as I was completely unsure of who the WWE was booking to win this match. I was hoping for a Balor return. Or a set up to John Cena versus The Undertaker.

-It’s disappointing that for the last five years the Rumble winners were almost all men who had previously won a Royal Rumble match to be honest. I guess they are still waiting for someone to step up and become a big enough deal to main event WrestleMania.

-Still, this match was far more fun than the last three Royal Rumble matches by far. We can just only hope they do something interesting with Randy Orton at WrestleMania (and I pray it isn’t Orton/Cena for the 100th time).

Wow! What a fun show. It isn’t often I get to watch a WWE event this long where every match kept me engaged and did what it was supposed to.

-While I do think the Universal, Cruiserweight, and Women’s Championship matches all had a few things working against them they all ended up being enjoyable and told good stories.

-John Cena and AJ Styles is what the past generation had hoped from Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair. We, as fans, are so lucky to be able to get these two in the ring together. I hope we get to see them wrestle even more.

-The Royal Rumble match, itself,  was a definite improvement over the past several years editions. It was fun and a lot of people got chances to shine. I don’t find Randy Orton too be that interesting of a winner, but I’m just happy there was not a huge backlash against the match like there was when Batista and Roman Reigns won a few years back. WWE has clearly played it safe the past few years with Triple H and Randy Orton winning the marqee match.

Mandatory Viewing:

-AJ Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

-The 30-Man Royal Rumble Match

NXT TakeOver: San Antonio

-It’s the 14th in WWE’s NXT TakeOver series on the WWE Network. Much like in 2014 when NXT Arrival premiered on the WWE Network, NXT is trying to establish itself (again) as a viable brand after much of the star power has moved on to the main roster.

-On paper, this card looks noticeably weaker compared to some of the other cards we have seen from NXT over the past two years, but we have seen the developmental crew do a lot with very little.

-I’m interested in seeing if this show will over deliver like I hope it does.

1. Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young

-I still recall when Dillinger was used in a showcase match to put over Apollo Crews. He has really caught on since then. Eric Young comes out second with the rest of SAnityY and their bad ass entrance theme.

-Young offers Dillinger one final shot to join SAnitY by offering him a custom jacket. Dillinger declines  again and throws the jacket in his face to get the match under way.

-Dain and Wolfe do a good job of putting pressure on Dillinger any time he ventures close to the outside which creates suspense in this match. Young does this wild dragon sleeper in the corner of the ropes. It looked super painful.

“-The Perfect Ten” is clearly supposed to be the sympathetic baby face here as he remains on defense and commentary plays up that if Dillinger fails to win tonight he might need to throw in the towel forever.

-The crowd is super positive and vocal for this opener and voice tons of love for Dillinger. Tons of “TEN” chants.

-Commentary did a solid job during this match of establishing Dillinger as a performer who has struggled to achieve things in NXT. This seemingly is setting him up as the unlikely victor.

-Dillinger fights off Young’s gang, but Young capitalized with a beautiful elevated neck breaker for a three! This surprised me as I thought they’d build up Dillinger as the underdog baby face.

-Fun breezy opener to start the show and warn up the crowd.

2. Roderick Strong vs. Andrade Alamas

-Better known as La Sombra in Mexico, Andrade Alamas enters first followed by longtime ROH star, Roderick Strong.

-Both are built up as being “all over the world,” but Strong still strikes me as dull as sandpaper even down to his generic guitar theme song.

-Alamas goes right into targeting the left arm of Strong. The former ROH Champion replies with some really snug looking offense as he sells his shoulder. Solid sequence of action here.

-This is a real punch-kicky match. Which isn’t usually my cup of tea, but everything they dish out looks super stiff. It kind of brings a clunky pace with it though, unfortunately.

-Alamas looked to finish Strong with a Hammerlock DDT, but Strong creates enough separation to hit is running kick for a win.

-There wasn’t much going on here despite the action between these two looking really brutal. If there was a story going on here, the commentary and production didn’t communicate that to the viewer at all.

-No one got over here, because there was no story. Kind of a space filler of a match really. Decent action here, at least.

3. #DIY vs. Authors of Pain for the NXT Tag Team Championship

-Oh Hell yes.  #DIY were one of the hottest commodities in NXT in 2016 and I am really hoping they keep it up in 2017.

-Great video package putting over both teams that really got me pumped for this confrontation. The Authors of Pain are built up as a huge threat to the best feel good story of 2016 in #DIY.

-Ciampa and Rezar start things off and it’s clear this will be a match pitting strength versus technicality.

-The match breaks down quickly and the champions clear the ring of the much larger challengers as a “D-I-Y” chant fills the arena.

-Akam and Rezar look really good here, but not nearly as good as #DIY. The way this match goes makes #DIY look smarter and more tactical while the challengers look chaotic and powerful. Honestly, that is a pretty good deviation of strengths and weaknesses. Good dynamic.

-The challengers land a combination neck breaker-power bomb which i thought might be the end of their reign, but Ciampa powers out at the last moment. The crowd is super vocal for this match.

-The champions lock in dual submissions in the middle of the ring, but Rezar lifts Gargano and slams him on Ciampa to a “Holy Shit!” chant. Great false finish there.

-#DIY fight back and look to finish off the big men, but they catch the smaller champions with their Super Collider followed up by The Last Chapter to Ciampa to end their reign as NXT Tag Team Champions.

-Both teams looked great here. Wonderful story, which is clear as the crowd was super into this match and they baby faces #DIY. I just hope The Authors of Pain don’t turn into another version of The Ascension.

-Really great tag team action, I hope we get a rematch that is even better in Orlando.

-Seth Rollins, the inaugural champion of NXT, storms the ring and is PISSED. Rollins is here to call out Triple H who he knows is here in San Antonio.

-Out comes Triple H who simply motions for security and goes to the back. Rollins beats them down, but is finally surrounded and bullied out of the arena. Clearly, we are headed for Rollins/Triple H for WrestleMania.

4. Asuka vs. Peyton Royce vs. Nikki Cross vs. Billie Kay for the NXT Women’s Championship

-As of this event, Asuka is still undefeated in NXT. That’s impressive.

-Right off the bat this reminds me of the same dynamic we got in the great Fatal Four Way match a few years back at NXT TakeOver: Rival between “The Four Horsewomen.” Hopefully this match is at least a fraction as good as that one was.

-Interesting that Royce and Kay enter together and seemingly will be working together to win a singles belt. By kayfabe rules they could pin one another willingly to win the title? Surely that needs to be a story point going into this.

-Kay and Royce hilariously looked extremely frightened of both the bizarre Cross and the dangerous Asuka and bail immediately.

-Nikki Cross is intense and very distinct and I like her style straight away. She acts like a lunatic and i love it. It’s different than anything else we are seeing in the women’s division right now.

-I have to say, this might have been better off as a singles match without Royce and Kay. Despite their numbers game being a interesting dynamic for this match. They clearly are not even close to the level that Cross and Asuka are in the ring.

-The two best friends do, however, gang up on gross and superplex her through a table by the commentary booth.

-Peyton hits a Widows Peak and gets a long two count, but the champion bridges out of the pin.

-Asuka gets a big flurry. Lands big kicks to the heads of the team and retains her championship.

-I give this match points for creativity, but Billie Kay and Peyton Royce are clearly not even close to being in league with Asuka.

-Nikki Cross looked great in her limited interactions with the champion. I might have preferred a one-on-one with those two instead. Interesting dynamic, Asuka looked dominate as hell, but Royce and Kay held the other two women back.

-However, I look forward to what i hope is a singles program with Cross and Asuka. That will probably be awesome.


5. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT World Championship

-Great job by NXT by making both of these men look like freaking superstars. Especially Nakamura who is just such an enigma.

-Crowd is split right down the middle in the opening as they trade chants while champion and challenger stall.

-A little too much time wasting in the opening, but hopefully these two are just doing a slow build for what will be a long dynamic match worthy of the title.

-Nakamura gets moving with some offense, but Roode uses his wits to outsmart the champion and gain firm control of the offense. Roode has always been really calculating in the ring as we get that here in this main event.

-Nakamura fights back after being on the defensive and looks for his Kinshasa, but grows impatient and nearly got rolled up for a three.

-Roode is showcased as the more level-headed cerebral competitor here and it makes his style a great foil for the smash mouth style of the form IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

-The challenger again avoids “The King of Strong Style’s” final blow, but is caught using the ropes to pin the champion. Nakamura finally begins to dominate and nearly wins with an arm bar into a triangle chock.

-Nakamura hits a wild knee to Roode off the apron and begins to favor his left knee. He gets back in the ring, hits the Kinshasa but his knee keeps him from being able to go for the pin. Medical comes out to check on him. The NXT Champion begs to continue and he is allowed to. Boobe immediately hits the Glorious DDT and Nakamura KICKS OUT! The crowd loses it.

-Roode puts a half Boston crab on Nakamura’s injured knee, and it appears to be it, but Nakamura rolls over and tries his best to lock in a triangle chock, but can’t.

-Another Glorious DDT and Bobby Roode wins the NXT World Championship. Wow! What an ending. The crowd was so loud for that.

-Both men looked so good after this match. I can’t get over how well that ending went.

-While the match started slow, the two world class performers built the action up slowly and it hit a FANTASTIC crescendo near the end. I was on the edge of my seat and this was another GLORIOUS main event match to build on the legacy of NXT’s World Championship.

-To summarize, the only thing you should utterly skip would be Strong/Almas. No story. No heat. Not for me at all.

-The NXT Women’s Championship match and Dillinger/Young were both serviceable, but left something to be desired.

-The NXT Tag Team Championship match was really great with a wonderful dynamic between the two contrasting teams. I imagine they will have an even better rematch.

-Nakamura vs. Roode was an absolute joy and the ending legitimately surprised me as I thought Nakamura would continue to be the anchor and champion for NXT for some time still. I can’t wait to see where this goes next.

-All in all, a really great event despite the card looking really weak on paper.

Mandatory Viewing:

-#DIY vs. Author’s of Pain for the NXT Tag Team Championship

-Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode for the NXT World Championship

WWE Payback 2016 Results & Review

-The New Day open tonight’s event and the Chicago crowd seem pretty hot to see them. They hype up the finals of the Tag Team Tournament match that is about to take place.

-We get a video package hyping this up as the first event of a “New Era” in the WWE.

1. Enzo & Big Cass vs. The Vaudevillians

-This match is a #1 Contendership match for the New Day’s WWE Tag Team Championship.

-Enzo and Cass control things in the early going, isolating Aiden English, but the match never really got going as Simon Gotch attempted to toss Enzo Amore though the ropes, but Amore’s head his the ropes and bounced hard against the apron before falling to the ground.

-The referee  throws up the “X” and it seems obvious that Amore is completely incapacitated. The match ends in a No Contest obviously as Amore is loaded up to go to a nearby hospital.

-The announcers improve and make sure the viewers at home understand this was a legitimate injury as they awkwardly segway to the next match.

2. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens

-Amazing video package looking at the history of these two friends through the wrestling business. It still baffles me that these two men were staples in ROH only a few short years ago.

-The two former friends jockey to be the aggressor in the opening minutes until Owens takes control after taking the action outside of the ring. Owens toys with Zayn for a few minutes until the momentum shifts and Zayn hits the Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count!

-Owens hits an amazing looking Frog Splash for a near fall. He gets some really good height on it as well. He then looks for the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Zayn counters with a dropkick and then the two trade big moves until they are both down. 

-Thankfully by this point they bring the crowd back to life after the first match ended so abruptly.

-“The Prize Fighter” looks for a piledriver on the apron but is back dropped instead, and then Zayn follows up with a beautiful running DDT through the turnbuckle! 

-Zayn tries to follow up with a Helluva Kick, but eats a kick instead and then a Pop-Up Powerbomb. JBL: “Ballgame, Michael!” Owens wins.

-Amazing match with a lot of pressure on these two guys to deliver after the opening match was cut short. The two former NXT Champions delivered and really brought the crowd back to life.


-Owens then invites Byron Saxton to the ring to interview him after his victory. I assume this might be Owens filling time? I find it hard to complain as Owens is brilliant on a microphone.

-He then goes on to state he will be refocusing on regaining the WWE Intercontinental Championship and will be doing commentary for the next match.

3. The Miz vs. Cesaro for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

-I’m so happy to see Cesaro back in action. He is legitimately one of the most talented performers the WWE has had for years. I just wish he had a character that was as over as his wrestling ability was.

A wonderful spot where Cesaro knips up several times in a row to get out of an elbow lock. So impressive.

-Tonight Cesaro is wearing kinesio tape on his shoulder which makes it a perfect target for the champion to work over as he takes control of the contest.

-Cesaro employed so many brilliant offensive maneuvers, and it looked like he had the victory after a Cesaro Swing, but Owens and Zayn began brawling into the ring giving The Miz an opening to his the Skull Crushing Finale.

-This match was a brilliant Cesaro showcase. His strength and ability was on full display here, and the implementing of Owens and Zayn felt natural and added  to the segment. The WWE is clearly planting the seeds for a Fatal Four Way match for the show next month, and that should be awesome as well.


4. Chris Jericho vs. Dean Ambrose

-This feud is happening because of talk shows. Yeah, I know. This is the best excuse they could find to throw these two together. I would have prefered they harken back to late last year when Jericho was the surprise tag team partner when Ambrose and Reigns were feuding with The Wyatt Family and Jericho stormed off after losing.

-Jericho is in full chicken shit heel mode for this match.

-The two trade big moves as Jericho spends much of the match taunting the “Ambrose Ashym” host.

-It looks like Jericho might get the victory with a Walls of Jericho, but Ambrose makes it to the ropes and after muscling “Y2J” into position finally lands Dirty Deeds after Jericho had avoided the move for the entire match.

-Dean Ambrose got the victory in a pretty unspectacular middle of the road match. It just crawled from spot-to-spot, and never really got going in any sort of groove.


5. Charlotte vs. Natalya for the WWE Women’s Championship

-The champion taunts Natalya, and takes control of the match as she taunts Bret Hart at ringside, and the Chicago crowd.

-Charlotte works over the legs of Natalya slowly while being the aggressor. Natalya spends most from the match fighting from underneath.

-Natalya repeatedly goes for the Sharpshooter, but the champion counters and hits Natural Selection for a nearfall! She then hits a beautiful looking Moonsault for another long two count! Awesome sequence.

-She locks in the Figure Eight, but the challenger shouts “No!” repeatedly and counters the submission maneuver. Charlotte locks in a Sharpshooter and Charles Robinson calls for the bell!

-So, another callback to the Montreal Screwjob? Okay.

-This was a decent enough match, but not nearly as good as some of their matches in the past. I would have enjoyed seeing a bit more offense from Natalya before the screwjob angle, but this is still a huge improvement from what we saw out of the women’s division this time last year.


-It’s time to decide the future of WWE’s flagship program, WWE Raw. Vince McMahon high steps to the ring to reveal whether his son, Shane, or his daughter, Stephanie, will have control over the show.

-Stephanie comes out and pleads her case after listing her accomplishments to the angry Chicago crowd. Followed up by Shane McMahon doing the same thing using the crowd to help persuade his father.

-We get a cop out by Vince who finally states that both of his children will run Monday Night Raw, together.

-This was pretty much what I was expecting, and that’s fine. It served as a nice bathroom break for everyone who didn’t care.

6. Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

-I have been so excited for this match. I thought it would take much longer than this for AJ Styles to ever get a chance to compete for the WWE Championship.

-Reigns used his size and strength to dominate his challenger in the opening minutes of this match.

-Styles implements his various signature moves to fight back and then hits an awesome springboard Phenomenal Forearm through Reigns and the announce table on the outside! What a beautiful spot! Holy cow!

-AJ Styles can’t get the champion back into the ring before the ten count, and wins via count out. Styles seems unhappy he wasn’t able to get the champion back inside in time, by Shane McMahon comes out and restarts the match as a No Countout match.

-Pelee kick and Styles tries to follow up with a 450 Splash, but Reigns gets his knees up in the nick of time. Styles goes to the top rope again and Reigns punches Styles below the belt and loses via disqualification. 

-Enter Stephanie McMahon who restarts the match as a No Disqualification match.

-They brawl on the outside, where Styles gets the better of the champion, and he goes for a Phenomenal Forearm but Reigns hits a mid-air Superman Punch. Another great looking spot.

-Reigns looks for the Spear, but Gallows and Anderson pull Styles out of the ring and commence to beat down the champion.

-The Usos come out and help neutralize Gallows and Anderson.

-Styles hits a 450 Splash for what I thought was the finish, but Reigns gets the shoulder up! He goes for the Phenomenal Forearm once again, but Reigns hits a spear to retain his WWE Championship.

-The show closes with the McMahons stating that AJ Styles will get his rematch at WWE Extreme Rules in an Extreme Rules match.

-This match was given a lot of responsibility. It had to be entertaining in the ring, get over Styles, get over Reigns, work in Anderson and Gallows, and the Stephanie/Shane angle. It succeeded, for the most part. The only thing that irked me was the multiple stops to change the stipulations sort of ruined their natural flow of the match.

-Still, Reigns and Styles have great chemistry and left me satisfied after the final count. I hope they have an even better rematch at WWE Extreme Rules.


This show was so much more entertaining than WrestleMania, and that almost makes me sad.

Without the returning legends/part-timers, and 6+ hours of time to fill WWE Payback did a great job at delivering in the ring. The pre-show (which I did not review here) was serviceable and all the match on the main card were at least passable.

I’d skip Jericho/Ambrose if I had had the choice, and the opening Tag Team match was surely going to be entertaining if it had not been stopped so Enzo Amore could receive medical attention.

Everything else on this show was pretty great, which I wish was not something I said so rarely. Hopefully the WWE can keep having great shows like this and fight off the “Post-Mania Slump” that they go through every year.

Mandatory Viewing:

-Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn

-The Miz vs. Cesaro for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

-Roman Reigns vs. Styles for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

NXT TakeOver: Dallas Review

Taking place only two nights before the WWE likely breaks every indoor attendance record ever, the superstars of NXT will be filling up the ten thousand seat Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. An old facility in downtown Dallas, Texas.

This is the first NXT TakeOver of 2016 and many have been expecting it to be a sort of “changing of the guard” as new stars will take the spotlight as other move up to the main roster.

Lets see if those rumors hold true!

1. The Revival vs. American Alpha for the NXT Tag Team Championship

-So we have the rough and touch Revival walking in as the champions taking on the technically superior American Alpha! I love it.

-Chad Gable starts things off for American Alpha, and he is absolutely silky smooth in these opening minutes. At one point it looked like Dawson was going to botch a hip toss, but Gable turns it into an arm drag mid air. Incredible!

-It was all American Alpha in the beginning, as the challengers used their superior mat skills to overwhelm the champions. However, eventually Gable is isolated and the heels get some heat and punish the technician while Jordan can only watch.

-The Revival botch a top rope double team maneuver and the crowd immediately jeer them with “Botchamania!” chants. Somewhere on Twitter, Maffew shed a tear.

-The teams go in for the finish with several near falls. Roll-Ups Everywhere!

-The Revival attempt every manner of underhandedness they can think of but finally American Alpha land Grand Amplitude to win their first ever NXT Tag Team Championship!

-Excellent opening match. A bit too many near falls in the home stretch, and I wish the heels had got a little more time to work over the challengers, but all in all a perfect way to open the show.

-I seriously hope these two teams work another match at the next TakeOver. A Two out of Three Falls Match between these two teams would be an excellent rematch.


2. Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries

-The first debut of the evening, Austin Aries has beef with Corbin who attacked him as he made his introduction to the WWE NXT audience. To Corbin’s defense, he was only trying to get back at General Manager, William Regal, who he felt had passed him over time and time again.

-Announcers actually go with the story that Corbin is out to punish “indie darlings” who use their past accolades to try and pass him by when they arrive in the WWE. Amazing! That is how you get someone over. Give them motivation that makes sense.

-Corbin, however, is in control for much of the match and it is just rest-hold after rest-hold. He yells at the crowd and then does a wrist lock or a vice grip. It’s so droll even if it does make sense for his character.

-Aries finally gets to go on the offensive and things start to pick up. Corbin counters with a Deep Six on the outside and decides he could settle for a count out victory, but Aries gets back in at nine.

-Corbin is all over Aries. He goes for End of Days, but Aries rolls him up for a quick three count!

-Honestly, this was a bit of a lull for me. Corbin didn’t do enough with his time in control to make Aries comeback mean anything. Corbin has had better outings at TakeOver. This might have just been a case of the two being unfamiliar with one another and not having a ton of time to work with.


3. Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

-The hype for Shinsuke Nakamura is unbelievable! A man, who a decade ago, would have had no chance of ever making it to the WWE, is now the biggest signie in NXT history.

-The two talents lock up and trade holds as the Dallas crowd chants “Shinsuke’s Gonna Kill You!” There is so much enthusiasm for this match.

-Zayn has an answer for almost every offensive strike and knee Nakamura brings to the table. So many people were focused on his debut that they forgot what a force Zayn could be.

-After multiple big maneuvers, the two just begin forearming the daylights out of one another until they both literally exhaust themselves.

-Nakamura then turns a crucifix into an arm bar and when Zayn blocks that he turns that into a triangle choke! Awesome sequence were both looks so impressive.

-The final minutes of this were just breathtaking. I can’t even go through it all here, but Zayn and Nakamura deliver an incendiary finish for an incredible debut. My mouth dropped when Namakura kicked out of the Blue Thunder Bomb. There is so much to love about this match.

-This match was supposed to be a showcase of what “The King of Strongstyle” could do, but I’ll be damned if Sami Zayn didn’t wrestle like he was almost offended that he had been so overlooked in this match up.

-Nakamura won in his debut with his running knee and pinned Zayn in (what appears to be) his final match as an NXT competitor. The two men embrace as the crowd chant “Thank You, Sami.”

-Nakamura brought it. Zayn brought it. One of the best matches under the WWE’s banner this year (so far), and this might even superpass Zayn’s amazing work with Cesaro a few years ago. I’ve seen Nakamura’s work with AJ Styles in the past, and now I’m ready to go back and uncover more. This man is going to do very well in NXT.


4. Bayley vs. Auska for the NXT Women’s Championship

-I have to say, this feels like the first real threat to Bayley’s reign as champion as everyone who has been put in front of her since Sasha Banks has not even been in the same league as the NXT Women’s Championship. However, since her debut Asuka has been nothing but impressive and quickly shot up the ranks of the division.

-Asuka dominated the offense of this match and because of this we saw a very submission and mat-centric contest. Bayley had moments of offense, but never really got out of the blocks in my estimation.

-The challenger unseated the only fourth ever NXT Women’s Champion after working over her left shoulder for a majority of the match and locking in her Asuka Lock. It was a pretty decisive victory for “The Empress of Tomorrow.”

-The fans in Dallas were not happy to see one of the most likeable and wholesome WWE Diva’s ever lose her title. This was a more than serviceable title match, but it was given the “dead spot.” It had to follow what will go down as one of NXT’s greatest matches ever, Zayn and Nakamura, and go on before the NXT Championship Match. Tough spot for any match to be.


5. Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for the NXT Championship

-The two start trading punches and Balor busted open Joe’s right eye within seconds of the opening bell. This lead to Joe having to improvise and more or less adlib the first five-or-so minutes while medical staff coarsed the Samoan into having his eye tended to before getting back to the action.

-It looked like Joe was all good to once again go after Balor, but the referee again called for medical attention which seemed to just flat out piss of the challenger and the Dallas fans.

-Balor stole Bret Hart’s finish from WrestleMania VIII and Survivor Series ’96. Awesome! Joe looked legitimately shocked.

-Both men worked hard, but in the end this still felt like a 10 minute match stretched out to a near 20 minute match, and that isn’t fair because it certainly was not their fault.

-I’m sure the multiple referee stoppages really irritated both Balor and Joe as they would have surely been looking to match or surpass the excellent Zayn/Nakamura contest from earlier in the night. I mean, safety precautions or not these interventions definitely distracted from the performances. I’m happy they wanted to make sure Samoa Joe did no permanent injury to his eye, but I would be lying if I said it didn’t adversely affect the flow of the match.

-When they actually got to the action, Champion and challenger had great exchanges. They made the best out of a very bad situation here.


I was chomping at the bit to see this show all week and man did it deliver. Everything I hoped. I still feel like there are a few NXT TakeOver specials that supersede this show, but maybe only one or two.

Shinsuke Nakamura absolutely unapologetically stole the show with Sami Zayn in one of the best matches I’ve seen in a long time. Zayn was not about to leave NXT with a whimper and he helped make Nakamura the next big name to carry the NXT brand as he bid Dallas farewell.

This was a great show, and when your weakest match is Baron Corbin and Austin Aries having a forgettable affair in the middle of the card, you are putting out a pretty good product.

I was disappointed in how the main event was hindered and was expecting a bit more out of the NXT Women’s Championship match, but neither match was horrible or unwatchable.

Mandatory Viewing!:

-Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura

-The Revival vs. American Alpha for the NXT Tag Team Championship

Lucha Underground: “Welcome to the Temple” Review

-Season two of Lucha Underground is about to start on the El Rey Network and I still have yet to watch even a single episode of the company’s very well received show. So I thought now was the best chance to see if the first episode could get me hooked into the product.

-Going into this review, I have no prior knowledge of the show beyond a few of the wrestler’s names. So these will be my first impressions of the company’s first show from its first season.

-So if you’ve never seen an episode and are still on the fence, here are some opinions of the show from someone with a fresh and unbiased perspective!

-First thing worth noting is the amazing production values this show has to present to the audience right off the bat.

-We get a brief summary of what lucha libre is as the show introduces us to Dario Cueto, Lucha Underground’s owner.

-The shows opening visuals give me a really good impression and seem like they will tell a very natural story.

-We get thrown into The Temple where we are greeted by Matt Striker and Vampiro on commentary.  Dario Cueto is then introduced and announces he has opened the doors of his temple to the best of the best around the world. He then opens a briefcase with $100, 000 and announces the luchadoras who impresses him the most tonight will have the money for himself!

-Nice way to make the stakes seem high on the first episode! No storylines or titles have been setup yet, but putting money on the line gives this premier episode some weight.

1. Blue Demon Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero

-Striker and Vampiro get over the family history both of these men have as being third generation performers from prominent Hispanic wrestling families. This could be a fitting first match for Lucha Underground. I like it. It gives a nod to the past.

-Neither men are necessarily high flyers, and work at a measured pace. After eating a dive from Chavo Guerrero, Demon begins to favor his knee and I thought Guerrero would zero in on the injury to get a victory, but before he can Demon Jr. locks in a modified sharpshooter, called the El Pulpo, to get a tap out victory.

-This was a pretty short, uneventful first contest. But I think the goal was to establish the show with some credibility to help solidify the Lucha Underground brand. But this was definitely not an exciting first match.

-Cut to a very interesting meeting between Dario Cueto and Konnan where they discuss two men they signed to Lucha Underground who are about to do battle. Cueto claimed he signed Johnny Mundo, John Morrison, to make an example out of someone who does not respect him or his temple, and asks Konnan to make an example out of him via his client. He promises Konnan and his man the $100,000 if they can accomplish this.

-I loved this movie style discussion segment. It makes the show feel much more like a television show. It’s such a nice change from the reality show style we typically see in WWE and TNA.

-We learn Johnny Mundo’s opponent is going to be Prince Puma, who then gets a sleek video introduction voiced over by his mentor, Konnan.

-I loved this stuff. It gives us a set up, and makes the match we are about to see important despite this being just the first show.

2. Son of Havoc vs. Sexy Star

-Back from break and we are right back into the action with Son of Havoc already in the ring awaiting his opponent. This must be the jobber, right?  Right?

-His opponents a woman? I did not see that coming! What a costume she has. The announcers inform us of her international travels and experience wrestling men all over the world.

-The man, of course, initially refuses to fight a woman and asks he to get counted out. She seems so concede, but then jumps Havoc from behind as he gloats.

-Star gets a lot of nice offense, and also takes some pretty sick bumps from Havoc. She takes a back breaker across Havoc’s knee and he gets the victory.

-Interesting premise, and I’m legitimately surprised Sexy Star didn’t get the underdog victory, but she did hold her own.

-I can see how this got both wrestlers over, but it was a pretty nothing match by itself.

-We come back to the show with Dario Cueto berating a beaten Chavo Guerrero for letting down his family name by  tapping to The Blue Demon Jr. He asks him what his Grandfather and Uncle’s would think, and promises he will not be the one getting the $100,000. I like this, I hope we see something play out from this. It would be interesting to see where Chavo’s character goes.

3. Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma

-Both men are very quick and their opening exchanges are tidy and exciting.

-I have to note, that this is first time I am seeing Prince Puma in action and it is hard to not draw comparisons to a young Rey Mysterio. His movement and offense are so silky smooth, and Johnny Mundo is the perfect opponent to help showcase that.

-Johnny plays a more grounded game as this match seems to be the Prince Puma showcase of gravity defying prowess.

-The commentary team get over that the winner of this match will surely be the one who takes home the $100,000 and that ads even more to this match as they trade momentum.

-Puma bounces around the ring and gets a lion share of the offense as Mundo plays the big man wears down Puma using his size and strength.

-Later in the match Mundo takes control, hitting all his signature spots, but failing to get a three count over the vivacious newcomer. He finally seals the deal with an End of the World, formerly Starship Pain.

-This was the right main event to have for the first show. Johnny Mundo is a well known American star who wrestles a style that will work in Lucha Underground and Prince Puma is a fresh face with a ton of talent who could someday be a big star for the company. I loved this main event.

-Johnny shares the spotlight with Puma as Dario Cueto makes his way to the ring with the money. It seems as if he is going to give him the money, but both men are jumped by two unnamed men. We then seen a man formerly known as Ezekiel Jackson enter the ring and aid in mugging the two high flyers.

-Dario welcomes us to Lucha Underground as the show closes and he hands the money over to Jackson.

Final Thoughts

-Before I say anything else, I want to say that Lucha Underground is different, and I can see that even after only watching this 45 minute premiere episode. Being different is going to be what makes them stand out and possibly gain popularity. So this is an immediate plus for me and makes me want to see more.

-As for this episode, I think they did a decent job of establishing some major characters and trying to set up some narratives.

-Chavo Guerrero seems to have a story arc in its beginning stages. Johnny Mundo and Prince Puma are being booked as the big babyface draws based on what we saw here. Also Dario Cueto has firmly solidified himself as the main antagonist with an alliance behind him and I’m anxious to see him interact with more Lucha Underground performers.

-The only match really worth watching was the main event, and I’m sure (based on word of mouth) that is pales in comparison to some of the matches from later in the first season.

-I will definitely be sticking with Lucha Underground as it feels so good to see a company presenting stories in a different way than the WWE has for the past 20+ years. I can’t wait for more.

WWE Night of Champions 2015 Review

-WWE presents Night of Seth Rollins live on the WWE Network. Tonight he will defend both the WWE Heavyweight and United States Championships against John Cena and “The Icon” Sting.

-We get a short run of the mill introduction video which sells the fact that we will see both champions and challengers here competing tonight and get right into our first match of the evening.

1. Ryback vs. Kevin Owens for the WWE Intercontinental Championship Match

-Man, Ryback’s run with this title has been pretty awful. He’s defeated The Big Show a few times and that’s pretty much it. Maybe a win over the former NXT Champion would help add some credibility to his reign.

-Owens is the aggressor in the opening minutes and the champion seems to have tweaked his elbow. That is all the target Owens needs to focus in on the injury with all of his offense.

-This match was not pretty as you’d expect. No arm-drags to be seen here. Owens especially employs just some nasty offense that was targeted squarely on Ryback’s injured elbow.

-Ryback fights off Owens and goes for the Shellshock, but Kevin Owens rakes the eyes and rolls up the champion for a three count!

-Kevin Owen’s wins his second title in WWE in under a year! This was a pretty short affair, but got across Owens as someone who was simply interested in winning for monetary gain. Look for these two to have numerous rematches on WWE television in the coming weeks.

-I was seriously hoping for more from Ryback’s reign as champion when he won the title at Elimination Chamber earlier this year. Now I’m hoping the title will not hinder Owens in the coming months as he is still finding his footing on the main roster. Sometimes, holding a second-tier title can do more harm than good (like when Ambrose was the United States Champion for an age during The Shield’s run).

2. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev w/ Summer Rae

-It is late September. This storyline started in May. For five months this story has dragged on-and-on. Why? What is left to resolve?!

-I love these two in the ring though. The dynamic of a agile athletic guy versus the big strong man is always the best to me.

-The two trade momentum while neither remains in firm control for too long. Ziggler gets a trade more offense, but Rusev’s offense is much more emphatic.

-After awhile Rusev gets the match in hand and Ziggler is tossed around the ring by the brute. Summer accidentally costs Rusev the match by causing a distraction and allowing Ziggler to hit the Zig-Zag.

-These two being in this match makes no sense. They are supposed to HATE each other and be wanting to tear one another limb from limb. Not trying to roll one another up for a quick victory. This is a case where a stipulation like a Street Fight or Last Man Standing would have really added a lot. This was just another match in their overly long story.

-The action was great, but where does the story go? Nowhere. What was accomplished by Ziggler winning? Nothing.

3. The New Day vs. The Dudley Boys for the WWE Tag Team Championship

-The New Day’s outfits are already the best thing about this show so far. Look at that!

-They get over their amazing #SaveTheTables hashtag campaign as they make their way to the ring.  They just ooze entertainment anytime they are on screen the past few months.

-Michael Cole points out that Woods looks like Rufio from the live-action Disney movie, Hook. Later the Houston crowd give him a “Rufio” chant as well. Awesome homage by Woods.

-It so strange these two teams. The Dudleys almost come off as heels due to just how entertaining The New Day are before, during, and after their matches.

-Bubba Ray gets cornered by Kingston and Big E, and they very entertainingly work over the multiple time tag team champion.Devon gets the hot tag later and the team go through their signature move to a mixed reaction from the crowd.

-They get the 3D on Kingston, but Woods breaks up the pin to save their titles. The Dudley Boys win via disqualification. The New Day celebrate like they won anyway. Perfect.

-Big E yells “WOODS! Get the tables!” It backfires and Xavier Woods gets a 3D through the table to the delight of the crowd.

-This was a very entertaining simple Tag Team match. Nothing negative to say, really, other than the Dudley Boys will steadily get more and more boos as their feud goes on. So hopefully they either turn them heel or find a way to make the story work without splitting the audience on who to cheer for.

4. Nikki Bella vs. Charlotte for the WWE Diva’s Championship


-Due to the dusty finish on last week’s Monday Night Raw, Charlotte will be declared champion no matter if the match ends in count out or disqualification.

-Both women come out with their respective fractions. Charlotte with Paige, and Becky Lynch, and Nikki with her sister, Brie, and Alicia Fox.

-Nikki Bella, now the longest reigning Diva’s Champion in WWE history after defeating Charlotte on Raw, is reluctant to get the match started with her challenger. They finally get going and the champion quickly targets the legs of the daughter of the two-time WWE Hall of Famer.  Nikki keeps Charlotte ground for what feels like forever before the challenger finally gets some offense in on the champion.

-Charlotte sold Nikki’s offense wonderfully though. Seemingly spending the entire match in absolute agony.

-Awesome moment where Brie Bella and Alicia Fox pull the rope away from Charlotte while Nikki has a half-boston crab locked in. Smartly, Nikki Bella lets go and admonishes her teammates as she can lose the title is disqualified for outside interference! Smart!

-Charlotte gets a spear and finally locks in the Figure Eight! Nikki Bella taps?!

-Fair play to Nikki Bella for really going after the legs of her challenger the entire match, but Charlotte won the title after almost no offense on the champion. Charlotte gets her emotional moment, but I would have liked Charlotte to get a little more offense in before locking in the Figure Eight,even if she was being painted as the underdog here.

-We get to see Charlotte celebrate and cry it out with her dad, Ric Flair. Nice moment. Glad for her win, but I hope she can look more credible in her defenses of the title.

5. The Wyatt Family vs. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, & Chris Jericho

-I am so annoyed that they went with continuing this story. It’s painfully obvious they just don’t have anything else for these guys to do.

-The babyfaces get a quick flurry of offense, before the newest family member, Braun Strowman came in and cleared them out one-by-one.

-Nice of Jericho to take the loss and pass out to Strowman’s hold, as Ambrose and Reigns can, unfortunately, go one feuding with these men through possibly Hell in a Cell and Survivor Series *Sigh*

-Jericho awake and is not happy with his loss as he shoves Ambrose and Reigns out of the way as he heads to the back. Ambrose and Reign’s looked dejected as we cut to the next segment.

-There was nothing wrong with this match from an in-ring perspective other than the fact that it is a replay of the far better Six-Man Tag Team matches between The Wyatt Family and The Shield from early last year.

There just wasn’t much story to sink my teeth into here other than Bray Wyatt’s usual mambo-jumbo. I found it hard to care about the outcome knowing that this would likely aimlessly continue. I’m more curious as to what the ramifications Jericho’s return and animosity towards Ambrose and Reigns might bring.

6. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena for the WWE United States Championship

-Wow! Seth Rollins is going to have to defeat two of the biggest babyfaces in professional wrestling history back-to-back to escape with both of his championships. If he can do this, it would be like Chris Jericho defeating The Rock and Austin in the same night, all over again.

-The cocky champion stays in control for much of the get go and maintains control of Cena for a good majority of the first half of this match. The challenger then starts to find his footing and the two begin to have another incredibly dynamic match.

-Rollins goes for all of his big moves including an insane double supplex. A supplex from the top rope and then another vertical supplex. It isn’t enough to pin Cena.

-Cena goes for his top rope leg drop. He misses, but gets Rollins up for the AA. He hits it and regains his WWE United States Championship! Rollins is distraught, but he has to stay in the arena and wait for Sting!

Cena hits another AA to the WWE Heavyweight Champion as he leaves. He is left a sitting duck for Sting and/or Sheamus to pick the bones dry!

-This match was not nearly as good as their incredible match from SummerSlam, but I do really appreciate a clean decisive victory. It’s funny that Cena is beating the WWE Champion, for the United States Championship – and not getting another chance at the WWE Championship. WWE is weird.

-Awesome match, still not as good as last time. I am at least hoping to see the return of Cena’s open challenges every Monday night.

7. Seth Rollins vs. Sting for the WWE Heavyweight Championship

-Rollins is having none of this match, and almost immediately tries to escape any way he can.

-The six time WCW Champion dominates the champion as he tries to simply just get away from Sting. Finally, on top of the announcers table, Rollins pushes his challenger and Sting goes through the Spanish announcers table! Rollin’s thinks about escaping, but thinks better of it and returns and goes for a pin. Sting kicks out, but Rollins now firmly in control.

-He taunts “The Icon” and hits a sick looking power-bomb to the turnbuckle.

-Sting fights out of a Pedigree and then follows up with two Stinger Splashes and a huge dive to the outside on the champion. The crowd loses it! He rolls Rollins back in the ring and hits the Scorpion Death Drop!  Only a two count though.

-Rollins hits another turnbuckle power-bomb and Sting then appears to be legitimately hurt. Rollins feeds him for a clothesline, but Sting looks to legitimately not be able to take the bump and falls to the mat. A WWE doctor checks on Sting, and the referee restarts the match a few moments later after Sting regains his senses. Rollins goes for the Pedigree again, but Sting has it scouted and drops him into the Scorpion Deathlock. Rollins gets the ropes, but Sting tries to lock it in again, and Rollins rolls him up for a quick three count!

-Rollins celebrates, but only for a moment as Sheamus is out, as expected to cash in his Money in the Bank contract! But Kane’s pyro goes out soon after and the demon Chockslams not only Seth Rollins, but an excited Sheamus who was willing on the “Big Red Machine.”

-This was a little better than I was expecting it to be. I had set the bar a littler lower than I wanted to because of Sting’s age, but he held up his end of the match fairly well. He also did it with way fewer bells and whistles than he had at his WrestleMania match. There was no DX or NWO run in here. Rollins and Sting worked really hard, and what we got was an only decent main event, but we can now say Sting has wrestled for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. I never thought that would be something we would see.

-His table bump and dive to the outside were pretty cool. Obviously, something happened when Sting either injured his head or had the breath knocked out of him, but they pulled it together long enough to give the match a proper ending.

-Overall, this was far from the WWE’s worst B-show of 2015. None of the matches will come up for any awards at the end of the year, but the show as a whole was very entertaining despite some questionable booking and storyline decisions.

-I don’t understand why you would have Ziggler and Rusev booked in a normal match when they should be wanting to kill each other at this point. I don’t get why the Shield 2.0 is still feuding with the Wyatt Family 2.0. I don’t think it was smart to book the chicken shit heel champion to wrestle two matches in a row like a babyface who has the deck stacked against him.

-All of those problems can be rectified pretty easily and none of them are enough to keep me from really enjoying the three hour show. Rollins and Cena had the best match of the night by far, and Rollins in general came across like a star on this show.

-I’m not thrilled about Kane likely being his next opponent, but it clearly won’t be the main even of Hell in a Cell, as Lesnar and The Undertaker are getting their rubber match next month.

-All in all, I can’t tell you there is anything that is must watch, but nothing was worth skipping either. It was a very middle of the road show. I would tell you to definitely watch Sting wrestle for the title as he left it all the ring and worked really hard to keep up with Rollins.

NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn Review

-This is the sixth NXT live special airing on the WWE Network and it might very well be the biggest one yet.

-This is the first NXT TakeOver to take place outside of NXT’s home base at Florida’s Full Sail University.

-The larger crowd and palpable atmosphere as we begin with a opening from Triple H really makes this feel like a huge event.

-Triple H and his development team deserve high praise for making the calculated risk of taking NXT out of  Florida to tour. This is something they’ve never really done before.

1. Tyler Breeze vs. Jushin Thunder Liger


-Scratch another name off the list. Sting, Samoa Joe, and now Jushin Thunder Liger have now all had at least one official match in a WWE ring. 2015 has been one hell of a year for debuts in the WWE.

-This is the match I was expecting to open the show, and it’s the right fit in my opinion. There is nothing really on the line, and it will be a fun lighthearted expose of what Liger and Breeze are capable of in the ring.

-This match came about after Breeze asked NXT General Manager, William Regal, for more competition. Regal responded in kind.

-Liger mocked a few of “Prince Pretty’s” signature poses which drew the ire of Breeze and shook his focus.

-Breeze’s frustration eventually catches up to him and we get a Liger Bomb for the victory!

-A perfect opener. Breeze played his part well and Liger delivered and seemed to be right at home in a WWE ring despite never have to wrestle “their style” before.

2. Blake & Murphy vs. The Vaudevillians for the NXT Tag Team Championship

-Straight out of an old episode of WWE Velocity! It’s your NXT Tag Team Champions, no gimmicks Blake and Murphy.

-The heel champions, cut the ring in half and keep Aiden English from tagging in Simon Gotch. They wear down English with several double-maneuvers, but English eventually gets the hot tag allowing Gotch to get some offense in on the champions.

-After a double power-bomb off the top rope English is back in and almost wins the title after his “That’s a Wrap” senton bomb. Gotch is tagged back in and Murphy tried to steal a three count as he is distracted by Bliss and Blue Pants scuffling on the outside.

-Gotch gets the better of Murphy and The Vaudevillians hit the Whirling Dervish for a three count on Murphy. The Vaudevillians are the new NXT Tag Team Champions!

-The Vaudevillians gimmick is awesome, and they will hopefully have a much more eventful reign with the titles than Blake & Murphy did. Some new competition is hopefully on the way for them. Good tag team action here.

3. Apollo Crews vs. Tye Dillinger

-Tye Dillinger, a man who has legitimately spent a decade (off-and-on) in WWE developmental. Tonight he took on the debuting Apollo Crews. Crews is better known as a well respected independent talent Uhaa Nation.

-Crews gets over his unbelievable athleticism for his size as he mocks Dillinger’s “Perfect 10” gimmick.

-Tye DIllinger slows the pace and uses his array of “perfect” moves to try and make Crews debut, an unsuccessful one. However, Crews is too strong and athletic an a guerrilla press and a standing moonsault are enough to Make Apollo Crews the victory here.

-I went into this match only hearing about Crews and his accomplishments in Dragon Gate. I was afraid he was going to be nothing more than another Batista or Bobby Lashley type of impressive physical specimen. However, after watching Crews in his debut, I could not have made a wronger assumption.

-You can skip this match, but definitely keep an eye on Crews in the future after the move into stories with other marquee NXT performers.

4. Samoa Joe vs. Baron Corbin


-Two big ass dudes in what is sure to be an ugly match. Hopefully, Joe can help Corbin have his best match ever.

-I’m still in awe of seeing Samoa Joe in a WWE ring. He looks to be in the best shape he has been in years. Awesome to see him in an arena with 15,000+ wrestling fans.

-The beginning moments are a bit awkward and the two seem unsure how to go about the match. After this Joe gets into his groove and locks in several impressive submissions on Corbin.

-The two find a nice pace and trad momentum for awhile before just giving up and walling one each other in the middle of the ring. Punches, slaps, and forearms everywhere.

-Corbin goes for his finish, but isn’t able to get it. He slams Joe to the mat and goes for a pin, but Joe pops in the air and pulls him in for the Kokina Clutch. Corbins fades and the referee calls for the bell.

-Definitely the best work Corbin has done yet, but I think Joe deserves a lot of credit.

5. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley for the NXT Women’s Championship


-We got a video package selling the story of Bayley being stuck in NXT as her peers move on to the main roster. Compelling story.

-They do a perfect job of making this match feel “big time” and its still so refreshing to see this after decades of watching women scarcely being given more than five minute segments on TV or Pay-Per-View on WWE broadcasts.

-The two commence to have a long championship match filled with excellent pacing, smooth exchanges, and perfectly placed false finishes. They still all make sure to hammer home the story of rivalry.

-The crowd are eating out of the palm of their hand as the go into their finishing maneuvers. Bayley looks to be ripe for the picking as Banks spent the entire match wearing down her arm, but Bayley finds a prone Banks on the second rope and delivers a reverse hurricanrana before sealing the deal with a Bayley-to-Belly.

-That might just be the best women’s match I’ve ever seen in the WWE.

-Becky Lynch and Charlotte hit the ring and embrace Bayley. Sasha gets to her feet and joins the others as they pose as “The Four Horsewomen” one last time.

-This match has been everywhere since it absolutely stole the show at this event. It is unquestionably the reason to rewatch this event. They set a new benchmark for all the women in the WWE.

6. Finn Bálor vs. Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship

-How many times can it be said that I’m glad I’m not the one who has to follow a women’s wrestling match? Owens and Bálor better be ready to impress.

-I say it constantly, but this is the most over ring entrance since The Undertaker’s. Bálor sets the tone every time he enters the ring as “The Demon.”

-Early on, Corey Graves did an admirable job of putting over the fact that Kevin Owens is well versed in Ladder matches and requested this match to embarrass Bálor and prove his victory at Beast in the East was a fluke.

-Owens goes mental in this match and just waylays Bálor with ladders to the torso all throughout the first half of this match. Finn later turns it around and finds the opening to land the Coup de Gráce! He scales the ladder, but the challenger is able to recover in time and pull “The Demon” from the ladder into a Power-Bomb!

-The two jostle to stay in control, but it seems Owens has all but bested Bálor in this match and taunts the champion as he inflicts punishment

-Owens sets up a ladder bridge from one of the steps to the ring ropes and scales the ladder with Bálor, looking to suplex the NXT Champion and then retrieve the championship. Bálor is able to come to his senses long enough to block the move and knock Kevin Owens, back-first, onto the ladder-bridge.

-A second Coup de Gráce seals the deal for “The Demon.” He has defeated Owens twice and has cemented himself as the man to beat on the NXT roster.

-Ladder matches are great and all, but I would have preferred this rematch to be maybe a 2 out of 3 Falls match or a Last Man Standing match. Even so, these two managed to top their so-so championship match in Tokyo and really had me thinking Owen’s might regain his NXT title. Awesome main event. Very physical. Must watch.

-While I’ve said that NXT’s Rival special from this past February was their best, the show here in Brooklyn might have just eclipsed that one.

-Airing outside of the intimate Full Sail University crowd was a calculated risk and it paid off in spades. The crowd was happy and appreciative of almost everyone on the card. It gave the entire show a great atmosphere.

-The action from top to bottom was awesome. This was a very brisk two hour event with almost no lulls. There was almost nothing worth skipping, but the Women’s & NXT Championship matches are must watch. They are without doubt two of the best matches of the year.

NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable Review

-It’s the second NXT live special of 2015. February’s Rival was an awesome show which culminated in Kevin Owen’s derailing the success story of his ROH brethren – Sami Zayn.

-Now, we get the rematch, plus a #1 Contenders match between “The Demon” Finn Bálor and “Prince Pretty” Tyler Breeze. Also we will see the end of a friendship as Sasha Banks defends her title against Becky Lynch

1. Tyler Breeze vs. Finn Bálor


-This winner of this match will be the next in line to challenge the NXT Champion.

-Hideo Itami was originally scheduled to be in this match, but was taken out by Kevin Owens hours before the match.

-Breeze clearly went to the Randy Orton school of headlocks. After a somewhat slow few minutes of feeling out the other, they both has some very nice fluid exchanges.

-Breeze is not winning this one and Finn Bálor wins with the Coup de Gráce to become the new  #1 Contender to the NXT Champion.

-They worked well in spurts, but we have seen far better from these two in the past.

2. Bayley & Charlotte vs. Emma & Dana Brooke

– Emma and Brooke spend almost the entire match cornering Bayley until she can get a hot tag to Charlotte.

-The former NXT Women’s Champion runs wild and gets the Figure Four on Emma after countering a cross body. It gets broken up by Brooke who is taken out by Bayley. Charlotte hits the Natural Selection on Emma for the win.

-This was a pretty nothing Tag Team match, but it sure is refreshing to have more than one women’s story line going on at the same time. Fair play, NXT.

3. Rhyno vs. Baron Corbin


-Is it just me that thinks that Corbin looks like a reject from WCW’s Power Plant?

-Punches, kicks, and clotheslines. That is pretty much all this match was.

-They keep making the point that Corbin has defeated all his opponents in short order. Which is really just a nicer way of saying that he has yet to really prove himself in the ring with someone that poses a serious threat.

-The crowd wants to be into this match, but Corbin really gives them nothing as his methodical pace is dull.

-The former football player gets the win with an End of Days after an uneventful match that pretty much kills the crowd.

4. Blake/Murphy vs. Amore/Cassady for the NXT Tag Team Championship

-Not a good sign for your Tag Team division when your champions look like a jobber team who might have appeared on a Saturday night edition of WWE Velocity! ten years ago. The challengers get a nice little pop as the crowd recites Amore’s shtick along with him. It was a pretty cool moment.

-The champions control much of this match as Amore tries to reach his corner. he nearly gets a tag, but Blake and Murphy deliver a Power Bomb into a Back Stabber. Nasty!

-Cassady finally gets in and the crowd pop for his Empire Elbow as they chant “S-H-A-W-F-T!”

-As Cassady looked to finish off the championships he sees Alexa Bliss jump Carmella causing the distraction. The champions retain with a little help from Alexa Bliss.

-This was nothing spectacular. The challengers were over, but this match had no heat and the action was pretty formulaic.

-The Tag Team division continues to be the weakest point of most NXT shows, which is probably mostly due to many performers not wanting to be stuck in a pair when trying to get noticed and called up to the main roster.

5. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch for the NXT Women’s Championship


-We get an awesome look  back at the alliance between Lynch and Banks and the desolation of their friendship. It’s amazing how much more natural and mature the story lines  for women in NXT are compared to the WWE. Amazing job to the NXT crew for giving this match a big time feel. It makes the title look so prestigious.

-Lynch, the challenger, schools Banks in the opening minutes with several amazing sequences. It really sold the fact that Banks was in trouble of loosing her title in this match with her former ally.

-Banks finally suckers Lynch in and locks a few really nasty looking arm submission maneuvers. Eventually, Lynch is able to over power Banks and dead lifts her with one arm and slams her.

-The two trade big moves until Lynch locks in her arm bar and looks to have the match won, but Banks reaches the ropes. Lynch goes up top but the champion pulls her down and locks in the Bank Statement for a second time, and Lynch’s arm can’t take anymore. Banks retains.

-A great story told by both of these women as they tried to target the arms of one another to try and win. A dejected Lynch is in the ring after the match and gets a round of applause from the Full Sail crowd.

-While the Tag Team division on NXT struggles the Women’s division continues to be my favorite part of just about every NXT show.

6. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship

-We get the recap of Owen’s absolute deconstruction of Sami Zayn from the last special in February.

-Kevin Owens, the champion, comes out wearing a John Cena “The Champ is Here” tee shirt. What a nice touch.

-Right out of the gate Owen’s starts trying to mess with his challengers head. However, Zayn is determined to not be dominated like he was the last time he met Kevin Owens for the NXT Championship.

-Owens can’t find an opening and barely gets out of the way of Zayn’s Helluva Kick. Both men go outside and Zayn gets caught in the champions Pop-Up Power-bomb onto the apron of the ring! Zayn is out!

-The referees check on the challenger and seem to be trying to determine if Zayn can continue but Owens is having none of it and keeps assaulting the defenseless former NXT Champion.

-The champion drags is former best friend into the ring for another Power-bomb when he is confronted by the NXT General Manager, William Regal. But Owne s quickly takes him out.

-He then grabs a steel chair from ringside, but before he can make a move – SAMOA JOE enters the arena! The NXT Champion is beside himself and exits the ring when having to come face-to-face with the Samoan Submission machine.


-This being NXT’s fifth WWE Network special, they are still putting on more well rounded shows than many of the main roster events. 

-While my belief is that February’s NXT TakeOver: Rival is still the benchmark for NXT’s live shows, this event had a lot to love. Bálor and Breeze had a great opener. Kevin Owens and Zayn had an exciting championship match despite Zayn working injured. Sasha Bank and Becky Lynch absolutely stole the entire show. From their back-and-forth action to their multi-layered story the NXT Women’s Championship match is the reason to come back and watch this event.

-Plus, after a decade of “what ifs” Samoa Joe made his debut in the WWE. The sight of Joe in a WWE ring is something I honestly thought we would never see, but the man who helped put TNA and ROH on the map is now gunning for the NXT Champion.

-Watch the opener, skip the women’s tag team match and Rhyno/Corbin. The rest of the show is worth your time.

NXT TakerOver: Rival Review

The show opens with some nice promos videos hyping the NXT Women’s Championship match and the NXT Championship match with quotes from online critics touting the success of NXT’s brand.

Tonight on commentary we have former NXT superstar, Corey Graves, mini Michael Cole Rich Brennnan, and Jason Albert.

1. Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze

Itami & Breezer.jpg

-It’s worth noting, as good as he has been the past year, that Breeze has been in WWE developmental since 2010. Itami, only half a year.

-Lots of kicks. By both men.

-Breeze slows the pace of the match a few minutes in, and works on Itami’s legs.

-Breeze trys to keep Itami down, but Itami hulks up and gets a nice flurry of offense. More kicks.

-Itami defeats Breeze only a few  moments later.

-Strong babyface win to start off the event and keep the crowd hot. A nice little showcase of Itami and what he can do in singles competition.

2. Bull Dempsey vs. Baron Corbin in a No Disqualification Match

-I have to admit, this is the first time I’ve seen either of these two men work.

-Match starts out on the outside. The announcers try to get over how both men are legit tough guys.

-A lot of time wasting in the early moments. Dempsey hits a flying headbutt. The first real move of the match, but immediately goes back outside with Corbin.

-Dempsey goes for a chair, but Corin gets an opening and hits his finisher for the victory after having almost no offense the entire match.

-Short match, with nothing really going on.

-Backstage, we see NXT General Manager, William Regal, talking with both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.

3. The Lucha Dragons vs.Balke & Murphy for the NXT Tag Team Championship

-Last time I checked in on NXT, Kalisto and SIn Cara were champions. I’ve never heard of Blake and Murphy but the announcers wisely get over their victory and build a story for the match to tell.

-Sin Cara and Blake have a miss-communication on a hurricanranna only moments in.

-The champions are built up by commentary as the underdog champions as the former champions stay in control for much of the first half.

-Kalisto is something else, holy crap. Those moves of his are on par with some things Mysterio used to do in his early WCW run.

-The champions find an opening and pin Sin Cara to retain.

-Crowd sort of died for this match after the time wasting of Corin/Dempsey and the somewhat clunky action in this match. Looks like Sin Cara and Kalisto will be moving on to something else now. Good for them.

4. Adrian Neville vs. Finn Bálor for the #1 Contendership


-I know what Adrian Neville is capable of in the ring, but this was my first time ever seeing Finn Bálor in action. I’ve heard only good things and my expectation are high for this match going in.

-This is the finals of and eight man tournament and we cut to an amazing promo package to get over both men’s path to NXT.
-Bálor’s entrance was everything everyone said it was. Incredible. I got goosebumps. What a presence.

-Slow feeling out process as both men trade offense and reversals early on.

-It looked like the former NXT Champion was going to control the fresh faced Bálor by keeping him grounded, but a few well placed moves later and Bálor speeds the pace of the match up exponentially.

-Holy shit! Bálor hits a double stomp from the top rope to Neville’s head for a two count! Brutal!

-The two trade kicks. Lots of kicks in the show.

Neville hits a big corkscrew splash, but Finn Bálor kicks out. The two trade big moves, and a few false finishes to the delight of the Full Sail Universaity crowd.

-The former NXT Champion goes for the Red Arrow, but Bálor gets the knees up.

-Finn Bálor wins after his double stomp from the top rope. Bálor soaks it in. The two shake hands after the match.

-Wonder what is next for Adrian Neville?

-These two brought the crowd back and really took them on a ride. The big fight atmosphere really made expectations high for me, but these two met them. I’m excited to see more of Finn Bálor going forward. I kind of feel like they are strapping a rocket to him. Hopefully it all isn’t too much, too soon.

5. Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch vs Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Championship

-Another awesome promo. Probably the best promo package for a women’s feud i’ve seen since the days of Lita and Mickie James. It really got them over as competitors.

-Banks and Lynch seemingly working together to wear down the babyfaces, Bayley and Charlotte.

-Hilariously, both women go to pin Bayley and that ends their brief alliance.

-Bayley and Charlotte hit a double face buster-thingi on Sasha Banks to huge pop.  Incredible!

-All the women do high spots to the outside. The crowd loves it.

-Bayley nearly pins the champion, but Banks tosses her out and locks in a cross-face on Charlotte, and switches it into a backslide and gets a quick three count. Bit of an awkward ending.

-Charlotte really has earned the hype she gets, and Banks played a great heel. She’ll make a good champion for the babyface women to chase later on.

-It was so nice to see some women get time to tell a story and really showcase some skill. The match had a basic formula, but was far and away better than anything the WWE divas have been allowed to do on television the past few years.

6. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship


-It’s main event time. Cue another amazing video package. I know of these two long history but have never actually watched the two work together before tonight. Smartly, they play up their history really well.

-Owens mentions he has only been in NXT for two months and is going to win the title quicker than anyone before him.

-Owens takes his time, and waits on the outside to the frustration of Sami Zayn, the champion.

-The challenger uses his size to ground the smaller NXT Champion as the announcers get over how Owen’s claims he is doing this for his family. Which is sort of a babyface thing to do, right? But…Owens is heel? What?

-Zayn can’t seem to get an opening. Owen’s wears him down methodically every time he attempts to build momentum.

-The NXT Champion finally builds a little offense, but he is already to worn down to keep it. Owens has some sick offense, man. Cringe worthy. He dropped Zayn, head first, on his knee. It looked so sick.

-Owens went for a Senton. Holy shit! He missed. Zayn goes for his finish, but was not able to focus after he hit his head hard on a dive to the outside. Owens capitalizes on this opening.

-Zayn looks completely gone as Owens just wails away, but Zayn wont stay down for a three count. The referee stops the match after Ownes delivers multiple power bombs. Kevin Owens wins the NXT Championship via Ref Stoppage.

-You don’t see that everyday.

-I feel like this is a little soon for Kevin Owens to become champion, but I guess the idea was to give the free February WWE Network subscribers a big title change. I liked the unique way they went about it, and Zayn looked amazing in defeat despite being on the receiving end for almost the entire match.

-I’m sure Kevin Owens will be booked strong and have great matches with Finn Bálor and many others.

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