McMahon
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Raw Recap: Let the McMahon Games begin

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With the WWE Draft coming up next week, there was still quite a bit that needed to be set in place as Monday Night Raw rolled into The Motor City.

For weeks we’ve had guest appearances from former GM characters such as Teddy Long, Corporate Glenn, John “People Power” Laurinaitis, Corporate Glenn again and Vickie Guerrero, but those were nothing more than comedic relief spots.

We all knew Shane and Stephanie would be running at least one of the shows, but the real question was, will someone ever figure out where Mewtwo is located? There has to be only one of him in the entire world right?

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Yes I had to squeeze a Pokemon Go joke in somewhere, why not it do it right off of the top?

Anyways, the real question was would someone else actually get the opportunity to step in an run the other show while the two McMahon kids bickered on the other?

Throughout the entire episode of Raw I was hoping that we would hear this:

Sadly “I’M BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER” didn’t play over the speaker system at the Joe Louis Arena, but we did hear an emphatic promo from Dean Ambrose after a funny Daily Show like segment hosted by Seth Rollins.

We saw the beginning of Darren Young becoming great (again?) and a new finisher from Kevin Owens.

We saw The New Day and the Wyatts copy the Hardys fight at the Wyatt’s compound, while The Club talked about practice.

And to close we saw a weak segment from Vince McMahon that gave us the answer we were looking for, but sadly we should have known the answer all along.

JLaw

The kids aren’t alright 

So Shane is getting the keys to the Corvette (Smackdown), while Stephanie is getting the keys to the Escalade (Raw).

Ugh

With ratings for Raw steadily declining, the WWE turned to the McMahons, specifically Vince, to pop the rating. I understood why Vince needed to come out and make the dreaded announcement, but it didn’t need to be a 15 minute closing segment without any surprises.

I was shocked that Mick Foley, Daniel Bryan, The Anonymous Raw GM or the ghost of Jack Tunney didn’t make an appearance during the final segment just to tease the possibility that Shane and Stephanie weren’t going to be running each show, but instead Vince made the announcement and then said he wanted to see legit competition between the brands before taking a cheap shot at Roman Reigns for cheating.

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So now that Shane and Stephanie are the “commissioner” of each show, Vince is making them each pick a GM to “run the day-to-day” operations. They’ll have to make their decision next week, which means there’s still time for surprises, including the return of HHH to television.

The power duo of Shane and Bischoff against Stephanie and HHH would be pretty sweet. You’d have the WCW link between Shane and Bischoff, while The Authority would be back in power on Raw.

This makes too much sense, which means it’s not going to happen.

New Day avoids deletion

Last week “The Final Deletion” match between Broken Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy became the talk of the internet due to its ridiculousness, but also due to its originality. Wrestling fans love when something new comes along that actually has some impact (pun intended) and that’s exactly what the Hardys delivered in their epic “final” encounter.

The New Day and Wyatts were reportedly huge fans of the Hardy’s creation and decided to create their own version. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so that Hardys should be thrilled at what they’ve created, because on Monday we were treated to one of the more intriguing Wyatt segments we’ve seen.

But that doesn’t mean it was anywhere near as good as the Final Deletion match. I wasn’t a fan of the filter that was used during the segment and the random cuts to the faces of the Wyatt’s took away from the action.

I was surprised to see that Bray didn’t “capture” Xavier and take him away from Big E and Kofi, but after the way the segment ended, it’s seems likely that Big E and Kofi will admit that Xavier was right about taking the Wyatt’s serious, which could lead to a more aggressive side of The New Day when the two teams square off at Battleground.

Ambrose gets real

The highlight, IMO, of Amrbose’s run as the champ has been this rambling promo that he’s busted out on commentary as he tries to fill the gaps in between the relentless questions from JBL and Cole. The Dude can really squeeze in quite a few words when he gets going and that’s exactly what he did on Monday night, but this time he had a microphone and said it in the middle of the ring.

After Rollins aired his hilarious “Rollins Report” video, Ambrose went off on an incredible tirade about why we shouldn’t expect him to drop the title any time soon.

It feels like we’re beginning to see the evolution of the Dean Ambrose character. His comedy level has subsided at the correct time because he was becoming staler than Apollo Crews and now he feels like a legit main event player.

And oh yeah! Next week we’re getting Ambrose vs. Rollins for the title and it could be the last time that Rollins and Ambrose face each other for a while because I think it seems likely that Rollins and Reigns will go to one show, while Ambrose heads to the other.

Twitter: @ScottDargis

Match Results

– Darren Young becomes the number one contender for the IC title by winning a 20-man battle royal. Apollo Crews and Baron Corbin eliminated each other, which allowed Young to pick up the win.

Sheamus pinned Zack Ryder clean in four minutes after hitting the Brogue Kick. WTH was this? After the match Rusev comes out, puts Ryder in The Accolade and accepts Broski’s challenge for the U.S. title at Battleground.

Breezango beat the Lucha Dragons CLEAN after TYLER BREEZE hit a package super kick–Hi Will Ospray– to Kalisto.

Kevin Owens pinned Cesaro clean in the middle after hitting a TKO like neckbreaker.

Quick rant alert: I LOVE that guys are getting multiple finishers now. AJ Styles has three, it looks like Owens now has two and Cesaro has the neutralizer and the swing/sharpshooter combo. In today’s WWE, everyone needs to have a couple of legit finishers over so matches can become a bit more unpredictable.

Titus O’Neil pins Heath Slater clean after hitting the Clash of the Titus.

Enzo and Cass defeat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson by DQ after Styles interferes. The Club was about to beat up Enzo when John Cena surprisingly showed up and made the save.

Sasha Banks forced Dana Brooke to tap out to the Banks’ Statement. After the match Charlotte said if Sasha can beat Dana again on Smackdown, she’ll think about giving Banks a title match at Battleground.

George

Time to “Go Home”

– Good job promoting Brock Lesnar’s victory over Mark Hunt….

– Seriously does anyone care about Lesnar vs. Orton at SummerSlam? It has the potential to be a very good match, but after Lesnar’s win over Hunt I don’t see any reason for Brock to come back to the WWE. He’s better off in the UFC at this stage of his career. There’s unfinished business there. Outside of a dream match against Samoa Joe, there isn’t much else left for Brock to do.

– Excellent job by creative in making us think that John Cena wasn’t going to show up. He got a HUGE cheer without any boos, which is a rarity.

– Cena is a nut. This guy flew from Los Angeles to Detroit just for a two minute run-in.

– Kudos to whoever made the “Not a good guy, not a bad guy…the suspended guy” graphic for Roman during the Rollins Report.

– The Club’s promo roll continues. Looks like they’ve been practicing.

– It was nice to see Anderson and Gallows actually control a match. They’ve been downgraded to AJ flunkies and they could be so much more than that. They need to feel like a dangerous threat to really get The Club over as a group.

– Detroit got lit af for Enzo and Cass, would be a mistake to break them up.

– Whoever made the “Pokemon Go brought me here” with a photo of Brock’s head attached to the body of Blastoise’s body wins the sign of the night award.

– Owens is such a good heel. Requests that Sami Zayn be removed from commentary from his match and then tells him to keep walking up the ramp as the referees escorted Zayn out of the ring.

– The first neckbreaker Owens hit on Cesaro should have been his new finisher.

– Very good job by the commentary trio tonight.

Wait…

What?

Yes I know I can be ruthless when it comes to Mike Cole, JBL and Coach II, but I really like how they discussed the draft tonight. Not only did they put it over as a game-changing moment for the immediate future of the company, but they discussed draft picks as though it were a legitimate sports draft.

JBL and Cole went back and forth about why John Cena might not be a good first overall pick because he has so much going on outside of the company. During the battle royal, JBL noted that there could be some gems in the ring that could be selected in the later rounds.

There was intelligent draft banter all night and thus I feel the need to give the commentary team this gif:

Clapping

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.

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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