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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

Shawn Michaels Q&A: Legendary Raw match with John Cena, the nWo, working with WWE’s future stars

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WWE will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Raw with a unique show on Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on USA. The show will emanate from both the Manhattan Center and the Barclays Center.

I had the chance to chat with Shawn Michaels about some of the memorable matches and moments he had on Raw throughout his career, his role in developing the next wave of WWE talent and one moment when he knew he was going to venture off script during a promo. 

I’m sitting here watching the match you had with Max Moon on the first episode of Raw and I’m wondering how it must feel to know that you’re going to walk back into the Manhattan Center and participate on the 25th anniversary edition of the show.  

“Well I gotta tell you, I hope that’s where I get to go. No one has made any decisions yet as far as I know. As much as I love the Barclays Center, I would rather get to go back to the Manhattan Center.

I don’t know that at the time I was mature enough to appreciate how unbelievably cool and awesome that building was.

It’s sort of like a rock band. They start out in those places and then you want to get to play in stadiums. As phenomenal as it is to be in front of 80 or 90,000 people in a stadium, it’s really hard to beat going back to those intimate places, filling them up, and feeling that electricity, that passion, that excitement in that environment.

For me if I were to get to pick, that’s where I would want to go back to, especially on that night.”

I imagine you had a similar feeling when you appeared in San Antonio as a special guest referee in an NXT show

“Yeah! The old Aztec is a great environment as well. It’s one of the things that NXT does that I really enjoy. They play a lot of similar venues to that. It was a great deal of fun. That is one of the many things about helping out with NXT and the folks down at the [Performance Center].”

So last night as I was prepping for this interview I went on a YouTube deep dive into some of your memorable matches and moments on Raw. The first one I want to ask about is your hour-long match with John Cena in London. I’m curious to know how that came together because it’s so rare to have a WWE match that pushes the hour long mark, especially one that’s on free television.

“So that turned out at the very end of our European tour that year. We had already been on the road there for over a week.

I found out what we were doing when I got to the building and was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’

When you hear that the match is going an hour, it seems like a long time, but when you’re working with someone like John so much … I’ve had the opportunity to go back and watch that match and it just flows right by. That’s obviously a testament to John and heck I’ll even pat myself on the back a little for that one (laughs).

It’s amazing how trying to do that hour-long match didn’t seem like such a big mountain to climb. It really helps when you have a history with someone. John and I were coming off of the WrestleMania [23] match and because of that, we had a decent amount of story points to work around, so it was easy.

It obviously doesn’t hurt when you’re in a phenomenal environment as well. Let’s face it, the folks in the U.K. are pretty easy to wrestle in front of. They are a very passionate group.

I gotta say that’s one of my favorite matches.”

Another one of my favorites was the match you had with Shelton Benjamin in the Gold Rush tournament. You guys made unexpected magic in the ring that night. Had you worked with him before that match, or was it something that just organically came together as you were talking it out in the ring?

“I don’t think Shelton and I worked together before that and we barely worked together after that. It was just something that came together. Shelton is a phenomenal athlete. There isn’t anything that he can’t do and he also makes everything look flawless.

One of the strengths that I bring to the table is that I can work to other people’s strengths. If you have a lot of them, that makes it easier for me (laughs).

It’s one of those situations where you have someone who can do anything under the sun and you’re not too shabby yourself and then it becomes just a matter of putting things together that makes sense.

It certainly helps when you’re building to a certain point in the match and the timing comes off perfectly and that’s exactly how that match ended.

I know there are a fair amount of times that I’ve tried to capture that lightning in a bottle again and I don’t think it’s ever turned out as well as that did.”

Agreed. The only spot like that I can think of that came close was the superkick on Rey Mysterio, but it just didn’t have the punctuation because that was during a Survivor Series match, so it was just an elimination, which is much different than the finish of a high-energy match.

“Yes and that’s the thing. You know it is just special and when somebody asks to do it again you go, ‘Uhhhhhh we can try it ….’ I certainly knew that when it happened that it’s something you don’t mess with. You shouldn’t try to go back and do it again.”

I stumbled across the promo you cut at the beginning of Raw in Montreal in the summer of 2005. You were working with [Hulk] Hogan at that point, but obviously the only thing the crowd cared about was Bret Hart. It had to be an unbelievable feeling to know that you had everyone in the building eating out of the palm of your hand.

“That was one of the few times after I came back in 2002, where I went out there and there was absolutely no way that I was one, going to hit any of my time cues and two, that I was going to stay anywhere remotely close to the script.

That was a situation where everyone who knows anything about this line of work felt the same way as the crowd, so no one was going to be angry about it because the moment was perfect.”

Another little random moment in time is when you returned in 2002 as a member of the nWo. The group’s run was cut short due to Kevin Nash’s injury, but do you know how the storyline was supposed to play out? It seemed like we were going to get to a point where the group consisted of you, Nash, Hunter and X-Pac.

“That is a phenomenal question and I honestly don’t know where it was supposed to go because I had just gotten back to WWE. The extent of it, that I knew, was that Kevin was supposed to work with Hunter at the next Pay-Per-View.

(Writer’s note: Triple H appeared on the next PPV, Vengeance, in a segment backstage where, in storyline, SmackDown commissioner Stephanie McMahon and Raw commissioner Eric Bischoff tried to convince Triple H to sign with their brand, but Shawn Michaels persuaded Triple H to sign with Raw and then Hunter turned on him the next night when they appeared as D-Generation X.)

I know that we had turned on Booker and then we turned on [Big] Show, but I honestly don’t know where it was going because I was just finding my footing and didn’t know enough to be asking someone, ‘Where is this going?’

I had no intention of wrestling at that point and then of course so many things changed after Kevin went down. I need to hunt someone down and find the answer.”

In an interview you talked about fading into the background, but now here you are working at the Performance Center and helping out with NXT. What was it about being down there that made you want to get involved?

“It’s honestly the environment at the PC. Matt Bloom, Sara Amato, Terry Taylor, Robbie [Brookside], Norman [Smiley], Steve [Corino]. There are just so many great people who are there to do one thing.

Everyone is pulling the rope in the same direction. Absolutely nobody is trying to prove anything to anyone. Nobody is looking to do anything but help these young men and women have an opportunity to go out there and do what we had a chance to do.

It doesn’t work if all of those men and women you work with are all pains in the backside, but they’re not. If there was something that stuck in my craw I’d tell ya, but that’s what drew me to it.

For me, it was a situation where I looked at it and said, ‘Oh my goodness, all of the stuff that I absolutely love about this business is here and all of the stuff that I don’t care for and that I don’t feel like doing again are also here.’ It was just an absolutely perfect situation. It’s infectious and you feed off of the desire and the passion.

And then of course the direction and the vision of the people who are running that place. I’m not even talking about Hunter. He’s my buddy, obviously, and I can hang around him no matter what, but it’s what Matt and Sara and everyone else brings to that place.

It’s just a fun thing to be a part of and it’s fun be a part of the wrestling business.”

I have to imagine it’s great for someone like you who has so much experience in the business to help people when they’re struggling to find the answer with something and you can call back on an experience that will help them understand how to solve the issue.

“For sure and also getting them to think in ways that they might not know, or even more importantly, letting them know that what they were thinking about was right.

It also helps them because I was a risk-taker during my career. I’m certainly less structured than almost everybody else there (laughs). There’s a little bit of a rebellious gunslinger in me and that’s something that might be a part of some of them and I think those are the people who can be put with me and we can see where it goes.

I think they understand that if I say it’s too much, then it’s probably too much because let’s face it, there isn’t much that I think is too much.”

So what talent has stood out to you down there?

I love my guys. That’s [Johnny] Gargano, Roddy (Roderick Strong), Velveteen Dream, Adam Cole, Drew McIntyre, Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe, [Tommaso] Ciampa, Authors of Pain, they’re doing great.

But as I’m learning now, there’s so much talent worldwide that I think the wrestling business is in great shape for the future.

What makes NXT standout to me in this clustered landscape of professional wrestling is the way it blends old school storyline building blocks, but with a new school twist in terms of in-ring style.

“I 100 percent agree with ya. It’s all of the sort of stuff that you like about the old school wrestling, but it’s done in today’s style. I think it’s a perfect dose of both.

Again one of the things that really helps down at the PC is, I’m not the bitter old timer (laughs). I encourage the change, I encourage the evolution, but it’s important for them to hear when they need to slow down. I tell them, you won’t slow down as much as they probably want you to, but neither did I. It’s all a learning curve.

I think it’s important for them to know that people said the same things to me when I was that age.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis

Q&A: Natalya on WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge, Nakamura, and why she didn’t want Sami Zayn as her partner

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WWE’s Mixed Match Challenge debuts tonight and will stream live in the U.S. exclusively on Facebook Watch at 10 p.m. ET.

The first match of the inaugural Mixed Match Challenge will be Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya vs. Finn Balor and Sasha Banks. I had the chance to chat with Natalya about why she’s so excited to team with Nakamura, the first-ever women’s Royal Rumble and why she was thrilled that Sami Zayn wasn’t her teammate.

How is your relationship with Shinsuke Nakamura? This is someone who you haven’t worked with on television before, so I imagine you have to be excited to have the opportunity to share some on-screen time with him.

“I’m so excited to be working with him. When we first found out that there was a group of girls and a group of guys who were going to be competing in the Mixed Match Challenge concept, he was one of the first people I wanted to team with because he’s very quirky, he’s very unusual, he’s very different.

It’s hard to explain exactly what Nakamura is like. His persona on TV is kind of like how he is backstage. He has this mystique about him. He’s very, very charismatic. He leaves people talking and guessing and wondering.

He’ll walk through an airport and grab attention in a different way than say somebody like Braun Strowman. Obviously their proportions are different (laughs).

He’s really cool. He’ll wear like really weird shoes, or a really cool hat, or a really big scarf and you’re like he’s so cool.

Nakamura embraces his own unique eccentricities and that’s what we, at WWE, want to express, especially when we’re talking to kids about bullying and having goals and being different in this crazy thing called life.

We talk to kids about being different and embracing it and Nakamura totally embraces that. It’s very important to be different. I don’t want to be like the person next to me and nor should anyone. When I see Nakamura, he loves to be unique. He is proud of it.

It’s so funny, we’ve been filming a lot of these backstage vignettes on my phone and yesterday I showed him a gift I got for Finn [Balor] and Sasha [Banks] when they lose to us because I don’t want them to feel sad.

So I was explaining this to Nakamura and he’s like ‘a present? Why did you get them a present?’ And I was like, when they lose, they’re going to be sad, and we don’t want that. So I showed him the present was and it was magnets with cats’ bottoms. I saw them at the dollar store and thought they were so stupid and funny at the same time.

I showed them to Nakamura and he was like ‘I want them!’ And I was like no you can’t have them, they’re for Finn and Sasha when they lose. He was fighting with me about wanting to keep the magnets for himself. We got it on tape and I was like Nakamura these are presents for them! And he was like ‘oh yes, yes, yes, yes, we will give them presents.’ He just cracks me up. That’s why I think partnering with him will be so great.

The charity aspect of the Mixed Match Challenge is the cherry on top of this whole thing. Yeah we’re doing this for fun and it’s a great thing for the superstars, a great dynamic for us backstage, and a great way for us to perform. It’s a great way for the WWE Universe to see a different concept because you don’t always see girl and guy tag teams and it’s so cool to see inter-branded tag teams matches.

But then you throw in the charity aspect and there are so many charities the WWE is working with from Connor’s Cure, to Make-A-Wish [Foundation], to Rescue Dogs Rock and so many more. It’s really cool.

Make-A-Wish is the charity that Nakamura and I are representing and it’s one that is really close to my heart because I have granted wishes. And when you can change a kid’s perspective or change their quality of life, even if it’s for a few moments, you realize what the worth of your actual career is. I want to make people happy and lift kids up who don’t have that much time left.”

The use of cats in the promos you’ve done with Nakamura has been hilarious. Was there any thought of having 2pawz as the manager for your team?

“I thought about it and then I thought well, I don’t want PETA coming after me because 10,000 people are yelling as I walk down to the ring with my cat (laughs).

You know, 2pawz doesn’t get out of bed for just anyone or anything. I truly had thought about it because that would be so cool if he came down with us. My mom actually made him a costume that matches Nakamura’s ring costume.

We will reign victorious in the first ever #WWE #mixedmatchchallenge! #NAKAMEOWA

A post shared by 2pawz (@2pawz) on

We filmed some videos and posted them on my account. 2pawz has posted them on his Instagram account. He’s very into Nakamura’s music, his costume and Japanese culture. He’s very ready to do this!

But like I said, I thought about him, but I just think it might be too much for him. I don’t want to traumatize the cat.”

Nakamura does strike me as someone who would have a cat.

“Yes. Now I know he has a dog, but he definitely has cat-owner-like qualities because cats are … Cesaro is a cat owner and he’s kind of like a cat. My husband, TJ, is kind of snippy. They’re like cats. Everything is on their terms.

Whereas dog people … dog people are like Mojo Rawley and Bayley and Becky Lynch. They’re happy. They want to hug you. They want to play and jump. They want attention (laughs). But us cat people, we make you work for it.

Your reaction to Nakamura being revealed as your teammate for the Mixed Match Challenge was noteworthy because of how excited you were that Sami Zayn wasn’t your partner. Why were you so excited that Sami wasn’t standing behind you in the selfie?

“What’s so funny about this is that I actually forgot I said that because I have such spontaneous reactions. The WWE producers were like we need to film a video for you because soon you’re going to find out who your partner is, but it’s not today. So I was doing this interview and then all of a sudden they were like do you want to take a selfie because you’re going to need a selfie for the Mixed Match Challenge and all of a sudden I see these red teeth behind me and it was Nakamura wearing a mouthguard and I was like oh my God, Nakamura is my partner! Like it just clicked to me that this was the reveal.

 

I was so excited, but I had this feeling that I was going to get Sami because he and I were both bad guys on TV. I was like I’m going to get Sami and I don’t know if I have chemistry with Sami, I don’t know if it’s there. It wasn’t that I don’t like Sami, I just couldn’t see us gelling together in the ring. In order to have really compelling and great matches, you need to be able to gel with your partner.

So my first reaction was to jump up and down and yell ‘I didn’t get Sami!’ And then later on that day Sami walks up to me and goes ‘are you and I OK?’ And I go yeah, why? And he goes, ‘because you jumped up and down and said you were so happy that I wasn’t your partner and WWE aired that on Twitter to like 12 million people.’ I was like, ‘I don’t recall doing that (laughs).’ Of course it was like the first thing I did (laughs).

It was so funny because Sami thought I was mad at him. He was like I love you and TJ so much that I didn’t know if I ticked you off and I was like, ‘No!’ I just wanted Nakamura.”

With the first women’s Royal Rumble coming up quickly, I was wondering how much you’ve thought about the potential impact of the match on the division as a whole.

“The WWE is really putting their money where their mouth is. They’re really pulling out all of the stops for this. It’s not just 20 girls in this Royal Rumble. They’re trying to, as much as humanly possible, make it as equal to the guys as they can.

We can try to be as equal to the men as we possibly can, but there are some things that … look you’re not going to have girl who is the same height as Braun (6’8”). There are reasons why different is good. There are a lot of things that the women bring to the table that the men can’t do and there’s a lot of things the men bring to the table that the girls can’t do.

WWE has gone above and beyond in every way, shape, and form to make this first-ever women’s Royal Rumble feel equal and that to me is huge. We have 30 women competing and it’s over-the-top-rope.

It’s all about us girls standing out and showing that we’re equal and WWE has been awesome about embracing that.

I have thought a lot about what I’m going to do in the Royal Rumble. I’ve thought a lot about who could possibly be in the match. There has been a lot of speculation and that’s really the fun part. Who is going to be a part of this? Am I going to see Trish Stratus? Am I going to see Michelle McCool? Is there going to be someone who isn’t even a female superstar come and be a part of it?

I was thinking about the girls from G.L.O.W. like what a shock that would be to see one of the girls from the show because it’s so popular. Anything and everything can happen and there’s this huge element of surprise.

The crowd in Philadelphia will let you know … they’re one of those renegade, rowdy, wild, awesome, amazing powerhouse of a crowd. They’re going to let us know what they love and they’re going to let us know what they hate and they’re going to put the pressure on us more than ever.

I think you’re going to see some magic for sure.”

Twitter: @ScottDargis