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WWE Weekly Recap: Goldberg ain’t done yet

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Welp, that was quite a weekend. There’s so much to talk about I really don’t know where to begin. I suppose the fallout from Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar is worthy of leading this column, but there were so many other OMG moments that I don’t want to spend 800 words talking about one match, so let’s get it out of the way quickly.

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Me: Is this last time we’re going to see you in a WWE ring?

Goldberg: “I’m sure acting like it. At the end of the day, it’s all that I’m concerned about. I take one day as it is.”

That’s what Goldberg told me last Tuesday when I had the opportunity to chat with him before the PPV.

It quickly became clear on Sunday that this would not be his final appearance with the WWE. After he defeated Lesnar in a minute and 24 seconds, many questions arose including: When did this become the planned finish for the match?

The Wrestling Observer guru Dave Meltzer reported after the show that Goldberg had signed a multi-match deal with the company earlier in the week. After Goldberg inked his name to the deal, Vince decided to change the finish of the match because Lesnar was reportedly penciled in to go over.

Vince notoriously hates short main events. He thinks a crowd deserves to have a fulfilling main event, in terms of time, but Goldberg is a different animal. The aura of Goldberg was built around destroying guys in one segment, which is something the WWE whiffed on 13 years ago.

That means if you were expecting a 15-20 minute brawl, sorry, this match wasn’t for you. People were legitimately angry after the abrupt ending, but in hindsight, this was the perfect call by Vince. Goldberg has been the biggest and most organic babyface on the roster in quite some time so why mess with the formula that got him over as a superstar?

Also, Goldberg-Lesnar followed a 53-minute match, 20 of which (rough estimate) were filled by Shane McMahon’s nonsense (we’ll get to his shenanigans later). If there was ever a time to use a flash pin finish, this was it and it worked.

The interest level in the product the next day was similar to the day after the Undertaker’s streak came to an end. In an era where so much of the product feels recycled, Goldberg’s triumph felt unique and most importantly, it felt special.

Maybe it’s because it’s been so long since the biggest babyface on the roster prevailed over the monster heel…

(This has been harped on by Bryan Alvarez a ton, but it’s true, the company just doesn’t understand how to book a babyface. Finn Balor looked like he was on his way to becoming the top babyface on Raw, but who knows if the company would have actually held on and pushed him to the moon.)

…or maybe the smell of nostalgia is warping my brain, but whatever the case it’s awesome that this isn’t the end of Goldberg. Instead of getting a one-off appearance, he’s getting one more run as “The Man.”

Only 462 words. I’m proud of myself.

#DoItYourself

Between NXT Takeover: Toronto, Survivor Series, Raw and Smackdown, there were a total of 25 matches. Some were good, some were just OK and some were meh, but there were a select few that battled for the Match of the Weekend award.

Samoa Joe vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NXT Takeover)

The men’s traditional Survivor Series match (Survivor Series)

The tag team traditional Survivor Series match (Survivor Series)

Baron Corbin vs. Kane (SmackDown)

Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens (Raw)

But the winner of the MOTW award is Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa (#DIY) vs. The Revival in a two out of three falls match for the NXT tag team championship. In fact, it might be the MOTY in all of WWE/NXT.

From bell-to-bell, the psychology of this match was flawless. Every sequence was executed perfectly and at no point did a spot feel out of place. The Revival worked Gargano over for minutes on end before he finally got the hot tag, which allowed Ciampa to do what he does best and run wild on everyone. Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder showed off their underrated double team moves, including a wicked Shatter Machine on Gargano and a Hart Attack (!).

The final five minutes of the match were incredible. After Wilder took Gargano’s leg out with a chop block (after Dawson held up the title belt and Gargano kicked it, thus “injuring” his leg), Dawson locked in a knee bar, which is the move Gargano submitted to at Takeover: Brooklyn II. Gargano got to the ropes in order to break the hold.

The Revival then set up to hit Gargano with #DIY’s finishing move, but Wilder missed and superkicked Dawson. #DIY then hit a Shatter Machine on Wilder for an AWESOME near fall, which by my count was the fourth believable near fall of the match.

Gargano then locked Wilder in the Gargano Escape, while Chiampa simultaneously locked in an armbar on Dawson. Dawson and Wilder locked hands so they wouldn’t tap out. Dawson yelled “DON’T TAP” at Wilder as Gargano leaned back. The Revival eventually tapped out and #DIY became the champs.

As I’ve stated before, when a big time match gets the little details right, it’s more likely than not going to be a very good or great match. This match was better than great. The pacing was so smooth that it reminded me of Bayley vs. Sasha Banks from NXT Takeover: Brooklyn I. Each spot transitioned into the next seamlessly and no one got lost.

Now it’s time to get the #TopGuys onto the main roster as quickly as possible.

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Here comes the botches

For some reason, Shane McMahon became the focal point of the men’s traditional Survivor Series match for a good chunk of the 53 minutes. He was worked over in the ring by the Raw team for what seemed like forever and then he started punching back, which was a sight to behold.

Look, I don’t want to spend the next 150-200 words just bashing Shane. From everything I’ve read, he seems like a very approachable and nice person, but he’s not a professional wrestler. If his role was to execute one or two big spots and then get the hell out of there, I wouldn’t have had a problem with him getting some shine in this match, but I must ask, who was clamoring to see Shane get worked over and then make a comeback while potatoeing seemingly everyone along the way.

Shane punched Chris Jericho right in the nose and bloodied him up, but that ish happens in quite a few matches so we’ll let it slide. Shane O’Mac then proceeded to blow a small package spot when he was supposed to grab Jericho after a Lionsault counter.

I wasn’t sure if he was going to be able to finish the match after he tagged out because he laid down on the apron for a good 5-10 minutes. It was clear at this point that he was blown up to a point of no return, which meant that his punches were going to look worse than normal.

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The elbow he delivered to Braun Strowman looked good, but at this point, Shane can do that spot in his sleep, which is pretty damn impressive.

The next spot Shane took was just unnecessary. He went for a coast-to-coast dropkick on Roman Reigns. Reigns popped up and caught Shane out of the air for a spear, but not only did the top of Reigns’ head hit Shane right in the chin, Shane’s head snapped back and slammed onto the mat. As the referee counted to three, he noticed Shane’s right arm off of the mat and stopped the count. Either McMahon instinctively kicked out at two or his arms moved up, which will happen when someone suffers a concussion.

I’ve seen people say that it was Roman’s fault, but it’s really no one’s fault. This was a super risky spot and it didn’t help that the person taking the bump was extremely tired. Maybe this will be a wakeup call for Shane and he’ll finally cut back on the daredevil spots.

Was Raw better than SmackDown this week?

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Time to ‘Go Home’

– There were a few future angles set up in the men’s traditional Survivor Series tag match, but some of the booking was questionable. The agents assigned to the match played a dangerous game by eliminating Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho within minutes of each other. They’re lucky the crowd didn’t hijack the match.

– Kudos to the crowds all weekend long in Toronto, especially on Saturday and Sunday. They were understandably tired by the second hour of Raw though.

– So Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton were the survivors for team SmackDown Live and their reward is a number one contender’s match against American Alpha next week?

– SmackDown’s Tag Team Turmoil was a great idea BTW, hopefully that’s a gimmick match we see more often.

– No one was more over this weekend than Tye Dillinger. The crowd would not stop chanting 10.

– Kalisto’s C4 or Spanish Fly off of the apron to The Brian Kendrick was one of the craziest spots I’ve seen in a while.

– As noted above, there were some questionable eliminations on Sunday, but none baffled me more than Sasha Banks. Some people will argue that New Day’s surprise elimination was worse, but you could see the spot coming. Sasha’s elimination was a genuine surprise that came out of nowhere.

– Nia Jax tapping out clean to Becky Lynch’s armbar was also very surprising/questionable.

– I wasn’t planning on watching #205Live because another hour of wrestling per week just seems unrealistic to fit into my schedule, but with Rich Swann getting this push, I’ll be tuning in to see if he beats Kendrick for the title (he should).

– Braun Strowman just about killed AJ Styles and James Ellsworth on Sunday. I think there’s about three guys in the company (Styles, Seth Rollins, TJ Perkins) who could have taken the wild bump into the ropes and walked away ok.

-Also, Styles took the bump off of the ladder on SmackDown perfectly. It looked like it didn’t hurt at all, but it still looked brutal at the same time. He also nailed the foot stuck in the ropes spot to perfection. There are so many moving parts in both spots that a botch could have easily happened, but Styles is a pro’s pro.

– So are the New Day heels now? They totally cheated to win and the crowd responded with audible boos.

-This Cesaro/Sheamus pairing is working out very nicely.

– I know JBL is supposed to be a heel and make fun of Ellsworth’s appearance, but it felt like he (Vince) was trying to hit us over the head with it during the closing shot of SmackDown. We get it, the guy is ugly.

– Goldberg’s shocking win overshadowed the other shocking moment from the weekend. Samoa Joe beat Shinsuke Nakamura! Sure he low blowed him and then hit a uranage on the steel steps, but Joe is a heel. This was a decisive win that stunned the crowd in Toronto.

– Sadly this means we probably won’t see Nakamura or Joe up on the main roster anytime soon.

Follow me on Twitter @ScottDargis

WWE: How Alexa Bliss Found Her Voice

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Before Alexa Bliss defends her Raw Women’s Championship at the Tables, Ladders and Chairs Pay-Per-View (this Sunday live at 8 p.m. ET on WWE Network) I had the chance to talk with her about the process of developing the Alexa Bliss character, what it was like to have cameras around her house for “Total Divas” and of course, the world famous Larry-Steve

Me: “So what game did Larry-Steve pick for you to download on the [Nintendo] Switch?”

Alexa: “Mario! The Rabbit Kingdom. I was trying to find a game and all of a sudden Larry-Steve jumped on my lap and just started moving the Switch, so I was like I have to get this on video. He was doing it for a lot longer, but I only caught a couple seconds on video.”

@larry_steve_ helping me figure out which game to download next on my @nintendo #switch

A post shared by Alexa_Bliss (@alexa_bliss_wwe_) on

“Are you a big gamer, or did you see someone else with the Switch and said to yourself “I need one of those”?

“No, I love video games. So my fiancé and I went through this phase recently where we got all of the older gaming systems. We have this box that plays old Sega and Nintendo games. We have the original Playstation, recently just got a Game Boy. We have an Xbox a PS4 Pro and the Super Nintendo that just came out.”

“I got the Switch back in March and it’s a life-saver on my commute”

“Oh it’s the best. It seriously saves my life when it comes to traveling because I get so bored so easily, especially when a plane doesn’t have WiFi … ughhhh I die.”

“When you did an interview with ESPN a few months back you mentioned that you got Larry-Steve because of Total Divas, which made me wonder if getting a pig was something you’ve always wanted to do, or if this was a spur of the moment decision because of the show?”

“I’ve always wanted a pig. I grew up in Ohio, in Grove City, which is a farmy place. A lot of people there have farm animals and I’ve always wanted a pig because they’re super cute and I know they have a risk of getting up to 500 pounds, but whatever.

I actually pitched the storyline for Total Divas of me getting a pig and then my fiancé telling me that I can’t have it and then I’d have to give him back. You know, this whole drama thing.

So I get Larry-Steve and I have him for like two days and then I called Matt and said I’m not giving this pig back. I was like I can’t, he’s too cute and he’s deaf!

I was like he won’t hear the dogs barking at him. He was like what if he gets really big, I was like that’s 500 pounds of love. So I did the whole pouty thing and then he was like it’s your call, you make the decision. The whole I don’t want you to, so you probably shouldn’t, but I’m going to tell you that you can. And I totally took it as OK, I’m going to get him.

They get along so well. Matt loves him. He’s become the baby of the family. He knows it.

He’s like a child. He’s on a schedule. He wakes up every morning at 7. He sleeps in a Pack ‘n Play [crib]. He eats at 7:30. He naps at 2 and if you don’t put him in his crib to nap at 2, he will go lay by his bed. He wakes up, gets more food, will walk around the house, play for an hour to an hour and a half and then he’ll go back to bed.

“He sounds really easy to take care of”

“He’s so easy to take care of. As long as you can get his schedule down, because if not, he gets really grumpy.”

“Grumpy! How do you know that he’s grumpy?”

“Yeah because he’ll go “oink, oink, oink” all of the time and start pushing you. When he gets grumpy you know and then he’ll try to bite your toe, but that’s only if he’s grumpy.”

“Because [spoiler alert] Total Divas is a pseudo-reality, did you find yourself having to adjust to how you acted in front of the camera because you’re so used to playing a specific type of character in front of one?”

“I had a little bit of an adjustment period for sure because I’m so used to when the camera is on, I turn into Alexa Bliss, this mean, attitudy character. So I had to get out of that because our first filming was at TV. So I’m in a work environment and it was just a different camera, so as soon as the camera came on I was thinking ‘wait I can’t be that way, I have to be me.’

There were times where we’re at home making breakfast and there’s cameras there and I feel so weird because you have to open up to the cameras, but still act natural.

It was very different, but I had a lot of fun with it.”

*** Season 7 of Total Divas Premieres Wednesday, November 1 at 9 p.m. ET on E! ***

“You’ve talked about your transition from NXT to the main roster before and how you needed to turn up the persona that you found in NXT, but what helped you find the character’s voice? Was there a light bulb moment where you realized that this is it when you were with Blake and Murphy?

“I watched back our first few NXT matches together when I was managing them and realized that I was just silent. I wasn’t doing anything, I wasn’t saying anything. I was just looking at them in silence. And I was like hmmm, well that’s nothing.

I remember specifically trying more and more to be mean and I was trying to think of a character that’s relatable and I was like oh my gosh, a mean girl from high school. Everyone knows her. Everyone had one. Some people were her and no matter how mean she was, you still voted for her for homecoming queen.

I was like I want to be that girl because I knew that girl in high school. I knew a few of those girls in high school. I knew that everyone did. So that was my main motivation was to be that girl.

I get my inspiration from movies and a lot of the time I’ll actually people-watch when I’m at the airport. William Regal told us to people-watch because you can get your best motivation from them. I’ll notice little mannerisms that irritate me and I know they will irritate other people.

“How long did it take you to be comfortable in front of the camera as that character? Was it something you had to workshop a lot to get to that point?

“To get it started was a long process, but once it clicked, it was super easy. It’s just another part of me now and it’s been so much fun to play around with.”

“The saying is the best characters in this business are an extension of who the actual person is, but turned up to an 11, so is there any part of your actual personality in the character?”

“Oh god, none of it (laughs).”

“See that’s really interesting because you’re so comfortable playing the character, but it’s not you at all.”

“So I remember watching ‘My Date with Marilyn’ and watching the scene where she’s just super shy and super timid and then she asks somebody ‘do you want me to become her?’ And then she goes into Marilyn [Monroe]-mode and people start swarming her. She becomes this confident, sexy woman and I feel like it’s pretty much the same kind of thing. It’s something that you just switch into.

I’ve always wanted to do acting and wanted to explore that route and I feel like this has been the most fun part of doing what I get to do. Being able to transition into a completely different character.”

“So your match coming up with Mickie James this weekend; in another era this probably would have been a depends on a pole match …”

“(laughs)”

“But it’s just going to be a normal one-on-one match, even though in the build-up for it, you’ve been so aggressive in promos and backstage segments that it could have warranted a stipulation in storyline. Would you prefer a stipulation match, or are you OK with it being a regular match?”

“I’m OK with it being a normal one-on-one [match]. Of course stipulations are always cooler and more fun, but I feel like if we were to do a stipulation match it would have to be something that was driven towards the storyline that we’re doing right now.

I’m talking about her being old, so it should be like a walker match.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

There’s a new playable character in WWE 2K18 and it’s … Colonel Sanders!?

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During the “Hell in a Cell” Pay-Per-View last night, it was announced that Colonel Sanders will be a playable character in the WWE 2K18 video game.

The announcement came during a segment in which the world was introduced to Colonel Angle Sanders who promptly took care of his rival, the Puppers Cluckers Chicken.

If you want to see an extended look of Colonel Sanders in WWE 2K18, you can watch him face off against Puppers Cluckers Chicken on UpUpDownDown this Thursday (October 12th).

WWE 2K18’s launch date is October 17th.