Rollins
WWE

Raw Recap: Seth Rollins addresses the suspension in the room

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Instead of leading with a joke, a clever line or a gif, I figured I’d let Lance Storm set the tone for the opening paragraphs of this week’s review:

A week ago Roman Reigns was officially suspended 30 days by the WWE for violating their Wellness Policy. Reigns addressed the suspension on Twitter by apologizing for his mistake, but the question going into Monday Night Raw was, would the WWE make it a point to discuss his absence from the show?

In the past the WWE would avoid mentioning a suspension at all costs. If a talent got popped for failing a drug test, they would drop whatever title they were holding at the time and then would be written off of TV for the length of their suspension, usually in some sort of injury angle.

The situation with Reigns was similar to the one Rob Van Dam faced in 2006 and the one Jeff Hardy faced in 2008 (even thought Hardy was suspended 60 days for his second offense) in that Reigns would be booked to drop the title via a clean pin. The major difference between RVD, Hardy, and Reigns is that the latter has been groomed to become the next face of the company.

And to make things even more complicated, Reigns was slotted into the main event of the next Pay-Per-View even though the WWE knew about the suspension two weeks before Money in the Bank. It felt like Roman’s absence needed to be discussed on television because he was going to be absent during the entire build for Battleground.

So instead of avoiding the suspension on TV, Vince decided to have Rollins openly address Reigns’ suspension in the opening minutes of Raw. It was surprising to hear Rollins “rip” Roman and even felt CM Punkish because of the tone Rollins used during his promo. Stephanie even got in a shot at Reigns (which felt like a shoot) saying that what happened to Reigns is an “embarrassment” to the company.

So now that Roman’s vest of invincibility has been torn to shreds, what will happen at the draft and Battleground?

Reigns was rumored to become the head of Raw, while John Cena would take the same position on Smackdown, but now it’s safe to assume that scenario is up in the air because it’s going to be damn near impossible for him to come back and continue the quasi babyface character he was playing. The boos are going to pour down even harder than before and he might even face the dreaded steroid chant.

Reigns needs to be placed as the number one heel on whatever brand he winds up on in order to escalate the healing process, but there’s only one man who can make that call and we know how stubborn Vince can be.

With the company strategically placing Reigns’ suspension in between last week’s Raw and Battleground, it is fair to wonder if Reigns will just get by with a slap on the wrist and quickly go back to his spot on the top of the card. Only time will tell.

Whew, got that out of my system. Now let’s have some fun.

Pratt

A Fatal-Five Way?

The main story on Monday’s episode of Raw revolved around the possibility of AJ Styles and Cena joining the main event of Battleground. All they would have to do is beat their opponents. Cena and Rollins faced off in a Summerslam rematch, while Styles took on WWE champion Dean Ambrose.

After The Club interfered and cost Cena his match, you could see the finish for the main event coming from two hours away.

Rollins and Cena got another opportunity to show off their incredible in-ring chemistry as they put on a hell of a free TV match. In the opening segment, Cena informed everyone that Monday night was the 14th anniversary of his debut with the company and after being on the main roster for 14 years, I think we’ve found the guy who brings the best out of Cena.

There have been plenty of guys who have put on a series of very good to great matches with Cena, but every time Rollins and Cena set foot in the ring together, they click perfectly. In the overexposure era, we’ve seen this match numerous times, but it still feels fresh.

Styles-Ambrose wasn’t as good, but the two picked up the pace in the closing moments. Even though there was an awkward spot in the corner where Ambrose jumped from the middle rope at Styles and AJ dove at his legs.

The beatdown angle to close the show was decent, even though it came off awkward on TV because two angles were going on at once, which meant constant cuts to the stage (where Cena was being beaten down by Styles, Anderson, and Gallows) and back the ring (where Rollins laid out Ambrose with a pair of pedigrees).

I think Luke Gallows will veto the idea of using the Magic Killer on the stage again. It looked like he ate it worse than Cena.

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Stealing the show

The best segment of the show was the surprisingly short Highlight Reel segment featuring Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.

The intensity between Zayn and Owens just jumped off of the screen. Zayn cut an excellent promo about Owens being jealous of Zayn’s success and then did a masterful job of selling Owens’ promo with his facial reactions. KO seemed much more focused than usual, which really helped set the tone of the segment.

It was nice to see them team up and knockout Jericho, but it does make me a bit worried that Y2J’s presence in this feud isn’t over. For some reason it seems like he’s going to wind up as the special guest referee for their match at Battleground. Hopefully I’m wrong and creative lets Zayn and Owens use their television time wisely heading into Battleground.

This match could very easily steal the show on July 24th and if they’re given a proper build to what should be the blow off match of their feud, it could wind up being a MOTY contender.

Samberg

The New Wyatts

Kudos to whoever put together the little Wyatt like cut in video for The New Day. It got a laugh from myself and The Roommate, who isn’t easy to please when it comes to the world of Sports Entertainment.

The ensuing promo from Big E and Kofi was pretty damn funny, but whatever creative is doing with Xavier Woods needs to stop immediately. Mesmerizing/hypnotic gimmicks just don’t work, especially in 2016. Just over two years ago they tried a similar gimmick with The Wyatts and Daniel Bryan and now it feels like we’re heading down a similar road.

I am curious to see where this storyline goes because the style between the two groups is so different, but there’s no reason to be optimistic about the resolution, which is a shame because Bray’s promos finally feel like they have a focus.

 

Match Results

Paige & Sasha Banks defeated Charlotte & Dana Brooke by submission. Banks made Brooke tap out to the Banks’ Statement.

Titus O’Neil beat Rusev by count out. The physicality from Titus was a nice way to start the match, but he has to be careful with how much energy he uses in the opening minutes because he could easily blow himself up.

Seth Rollins pinned John Cena with a pedigree after The Club distracted Cena.

Enzo Amore & Big Cass squashed a cup a jobbers.

Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae never started because Becky attacked Natalya who was on commentary.

Kane defeated The Miz by count out. Miz retained the Intercontinental Title after Maryse faked an ankle injury and had to be carried to the back.

Apollo Crews & Cesaro defeated Alberto Del Rio & Sheamus. Del Rio turned on Sheamus, which allowed Crews to hit his spinning sit-out powerbomb for the win.

Dean Ambrose pinned AJ Styles with the Dirty Deeds after Styles was distracted by Cena.

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When Stephanie made the announcement that we were getting Cena-Rollins and Ambrose-Styles, I didn’t think the show would drag, but Simba and I were dead wrong.

Time to “go home”

– I thought the tag team match between Paige-Sasha vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke was very good. The crowd was really into Sasha’s hot tag and that’s saying something because this crowd sucked for a good amount of the show. Hopefully Charlotte-Sasha don’t have their time cut at Battleground or SummerSlam.

– Paige LAID this kick into Charlotte.

Now Enzo is cutting promos at Champs, someone get this guy a sponsorship:

– I think Big Cass has the best big boot I’ve ever seen.

– I legit got fooled by the Social Outcasts’ theme music for a split second. Thought Jeff Hardy was coming out.

– Was shocked to hear Natayla drop an Owen Hart line when Mike Cole asked about her heel turn: “Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.”

– Jameis Winston and Donovan Smith from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers handed out jerseys backstage after the show. Listen to Styles tell Jameis about uploading rosters from NCAA ’14 to Madden:

This Iceland goal call was better than anything that happened on Raw.

– “Grow a set” chant at KO = thumbs up emoji

– Pretty impressive that Apollo Crews can hit his spinning sit out powerbomb on a guy the size of Sheamus.

– LOVE that they let Styles use a brainbuster. He busted this out at WrestleMania, but it hasn’t been seen since. Dude has the best offense in the business.

– When is The Club going to get actual merchandise? It’s very interesting that they haven’t released a T-shirt for the group now that they have a logo.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

 

Kurt Angle to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame

ORANGE, CA - MAY 08:  Wrestler Kurt Angle arrives at the Lions Gate Premiere of "See No Evil" at the Century Stadium Promenade 25 on May 8, 2006 in Orange, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
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Oh it’s true, it’s true.

WWE announced today that Kurt Angle will be going into their Hall of Fame on March 31st at the Amway Center in Orlando as part of WrestleMania week.

The 1996 Olympic gold medalist is a five-time WWE world champion and regarded as one of the best in-ring talents to ever grace the squared circle. Angle last appeared in a WWE ring way back in August of 2006.

In a press release, WWE’s Executive Vice President Paul “HHH” Levesque said, “Kurt Angle’s accomplishments both in the Olympics and WWE were extraordinary. He was one of the most gifted athletes to ever enter the ring, and we are honored to welcome him into the WWE Hall of Fame.”

WrestleMania 33 will be held Sunday, April 2nd from the Orlando Citrus Bowl live on WWE Network.

WWE Weekly Recap: 2017 Royal Rumble Odds

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For the first time in many years, the favorite to win the Royal Rumble isn’t obvious. In fact, this feels like one of the more unpredictable Rumble matches in WWE history.

Five guys who would be considered a favorite to win the match (Seth Rollins, The Undertaker, Braun Strowman, Goldberg and Brock Lesnar) are rumored to have their WrestleMania programs locked in and none are scheduled to be for either of the company’s main championships.

Instead of being a device that’s used to give an established star a main event spot at Mania, the Rumble might actually be used as a launching pad for a future world champion.

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With that in mind, here’s how I would rank the field:

Baron Corbin 6/1 (+600)

The odds may surprise you, but Corbin has been booked very strong ever since his better-than-expected chairs match with Kalisto at the TLC Pay-Per-View. He was given a lot of offense in the triple threat match for the WWE title on the “Wild Card Finals” episode of SmackDown and “controlled” 80 percent of his match against John Cena this past Tuesday.

Corbin is ascending into the world title picture and it’s totally logical to picture “The Lone Wolf” ending the first PPV of WrestleMania season by pointing at the giant WM sign.

With Goldberg-Lesnar, Undertaker-Strowman, and HHH-Rollins penciled in for Mania, Corbin vs. Styles, Cena or both, is a perfectly fine match (with entrances) to fill 20-25 minutes of the show. Corbin has shown enough in the ring lately for me to buy that he’s ready for a high level match.

Finn Balor 8/1 (+800)

If either Owens or Reigns walk out of the Universal Championship match in San Antonio with the red strap, Balor has a built-in story with either guy.

Balor beat Reigns clean in the middle of the ring during his first night on Raw and after the match Roman said he would love another crack at Balor.

Owens was handed the championship by Triple H, but HHH also has a connection with Balor that could easily be worked up with one or two backstage interactions if creative wanted to go that route.

If not, Balor and Owens could hearken back to their feud in NXT, which produced a set of extremely good matches in the Summer of 2015. Their NXT title match at “Beast in the East” was one of my favorites that year and 30 percent of that was thanks to the streamers that were thrown at the end of Balor’s entrance.

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No matter who Balor works with, he’s going to put on a great performance and if WWE wants to have a NJPW style match at Mania, the Demon King would be the perfect person to insert into it.

Samoa Joe or Shinsuke Nakamura 9/1 (+900)

A debuting superstar has never won the Royal Rumble, but if there was ever a time to do it, this is it.

Joe is the more likely option out of the two, considering that he just dropped the NXT title to Nakamura and failed to beat him in the rematch, but if Nakamura loses the title to Bobby Roode at Takeover: San Antonio (unlikely, but you never know), he instantly becomes a favorite.

If either guy won, it would make sense for them to face Styles for the world title at the company’s biggest show of the year. Joe is one of Styles’ best friends in the business. They’ve made magic in the ring together and understand how to put on a clinic in front of a massive crowd.

Nakamura wrestled Styles in the second to last match at Wrestle Kingdom 10, which is New Japan Pro Wrestling’s version of WrestleMania. It was predictably awesome and if you haven’t seen it yet, set aside a half hour and watch it:

Chris Jericho 10/1 (+1000)

As much as I want to see Team Chris and Kevin face off for the Universal title in Orlando. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. If Owens does somehow hold onto the title at the Alamodome, Jericho would instantly become one of the three favorites to win the Rumble.

Owens and Jericho are the hottest act on the company’s flagship show. Roman Reigns may get a bigger reaction in some cities, but he’s still not ready to be a main event promo, which is exactly what Y2KO have been since September, which is why I’m still holding out hope that this match will be for the title.

If Chris and Kevin are going to feud with each other, someone is going to have to turn and it makes sense for K.O. to beat the crap out of Y2J.

Imagine the verbal jabs between a heel Owens and a sympathetic babyface version Jericho who keeps the same character tone, but plays into the cheers.

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Now imagine Reigns cutting a 5-10 minute promo about defending the title.

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Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt 12/1 (+1200)

It’s easy to see a scenario in which Orton and Wyatt square off at Mania, but what if creative actually has long-term plans for the group?

If Wyatt or Orton were to win the Rumble and wrestle for the world title at WrestleMania, it could set up a title program between the two for the May-July period.

The Miz 14/1 (+1400)

Even though he’s currently in a feud with Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title, Miz has been one of the best acts on SmackDown since the draft and deserves a main event run.

He and AJ teased a feud during a Miz TV segment a few weeks back, but I think the pair should be saved for a SmackDown exclusive PPV later on in the year.

Miz will eventually climb up the card, but sadly, he’s going to be left out of a high profile match at WrestleMania.

John Cena, Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens 17/1 (+1700)

I’m expecting the losers of both title matches to enter the Rumble later on in the night. If I had to rank the four in terms of most likely winners I’d go: Styles, Cena, Reigns, Owens. It would be an interesting swerve to the Cena-Styles storyline if Cena won the title from AJ earlier in the night and then Styles responded by winning the rumble.

Owens is likely locked for a Mania match with Jericho and it would be a major letdown if Reigns won the most unpredictable Rumble in years.

Sami Zayn 25/1 (+2500)

If the Owens-Zayn storyline had any heat left, Zayn would be a logical choice. It would be a genuinely shocking moment and Zayn could use a boost after doing the job for Strowman.

With Owens likely taking on Jericho at Mania and Zayn’s current placement on the card, I don’t expect the taxi driver to make any real impact in the Rumble.

Rusev 25/1 (+2500)

The Bulgarian George Clooney deserves a featured spot in WrestleMania season because he’s one of the most entertaining full-time performers on the roster, but there are only so many spots to go around.

rusev

Big Cass 25/1 (+2500)

I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Big Cass ends up as one of the “Final Four” participants in the Rumble match. Either that or he’s going to have a spot midway through where he runs through a couple dudes before going out quickly.

Any member of The New Day 28/1 (+2800)

Big E is the only legitimate option here. This would be an ideal moment to begin the inevitable breakup between the three, but it needs to be a slow burn.

Dean Ambrose 40/1 (+4000)

He’s headed for another multi-man match for the IC title at WrestleMania.

Seth Rollins 50/1 (+5000)

Rollins is obviously penciled in to face Triple H in Orlando, so there’s no need for him to be near the title picture until after Mania.

Braun Strowman 50/1 (+5000)

He’s most likely facing The Undertaker. While it may seem like Strowman isn’t ready for the level of a match, if the company is serious about pushing him, he needs to be in this spot.

The split rosters have created a need for new stars, which means a clean win for Strowman over the Undertaker could be in the cards.

The Undertaker 50/1 (+5000)

As noted above, Taker most likely has a date with Adam from Tinder at Mania.

Yes, I know I used that line last week, but why not bring it back for round two?

Goldberg and Brock Lesnar 50/1 (+5000)

I’d love to see Brock and Goldberg “draw” the first two numbers and beat the hell out of guys until Braun Strowman eventually comes out.

Kane 70/1 (+7000)

Kane has shockingly been protected since the draft, so don’t be surprised if he has a strong showing in the Rumble. Who knows, maybe he makes it all of the way to the “Final Four.”

Shelton Benjamin 75/1 (+7500)

Benjamin was scheduled to return to the SmackDown brand after the draft, but needed surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He had a six-month recovery time frame and the Rumble falls perfectly in line with his rehab, so don’t be surprised if “ain’t no stoppin me now” blares over the speakers in San Antonio.

American Alpha 75/1 (+7500)

Enjoy the SmackDown tag team titles. Jordan has a chance to win this in a few years.

Apollo Crews 100/1 (+10000)

He should still be in NXT.

Any cruiserweight 100/1 (+10000)

Nope.

Dolph Ziggler 100/1 (+10000)

The guy’s gimmick is that he loses, so there’s no way he’s going to win.

James Ellsworth 1000/1 (+100000)

Any man with two fists has a chance to be eliminated.

Holy Schnikes moment of the week:

Take it away Becky Lynch.

If you don’t know what see you next Tuesday means, Google it.

Time to “Go Home”

– Stephanie was harder to listen to than Otunga this week. Was it necessary for her to talk down to Sasha and Bayley like that? As a fan, how am I supposed to cheer either of the babyfaces if they don’t have a snarky retort ready to counter Steph’s heelish lines.

– So Nia Jax pins Bayley essentially clean in the middle of the ring just two weeks before Bayley faces Charlotte for the women’s title. Makes sense.

– Has anyone else noticed that Karl Anderson’s pants say #BC on them? I find it a bit strange that no one backstage has said anything to him about this.

– Everything about Neville’s heel turn is great, including the variety of moves he’s displaying in the ring. This week he worked a mat wrestling/submission style that resulted in him using the Rings of Saturn to get the victory over Lince Dorado.

– I like the fire Rich Swann showed when he attacked Neville after the match.

– I thought Natalya and Nikki Bella had an excellent brawl on SmackDown. Nattie caught Nikki with a kick right to the face.

So Seth Rollins is supposedly getting new music after all. Once I heard this version by Downstrait, I got bummed out every time I heard Rollins’ actual music:

– Please WWE, no more Big Cass vs. Jinder Mahal matches.

– I like that Ziggler’s heel turn accelerated this week. The worst thing for his character would have been to come out this week and apologize for his actions. Instead, he beat the crap out of Kalisto after their match and then waffled Apollo Crews with a chair when AC came out to help his “friend” Kalisto.

– This was American Alpha’s best showing since their call-up to the main roster. Gable used his hot tag effectively and Jordan had a very nice amateur wrestling sequence with Bray to begin the match.

– I LOVED Cena’s backstage promo this week. It felt a bit like a Doctor of Thuganomics promo, just all grown up.

The Twitter Machine: @ScottDargis