WWE

Your 2017 Royal Rumble Primer

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If you’re a wrestling fan, this Sunday is the beginning of your playoffs.

If you’re a casual fan of the product, this is moment where you can latch on and ride the two-month “Road to WrestleMania.”

Thanks to the 30-man over the top rope battle royal that produces a number one contender for one of the WWE’s World Championships and plants seeds for feuds that will culminate at WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View is one of the most important dates of the year in professional wrestling.

There’s always a sense of anticipation in the air while watching the Royal Rumble match, which always makes for a “hot” crowd. Sometimes you can guess when a certain performer is going to come out, but those moments are very rare.

There’s nothing more exciting in the WWE than the moment after the crowd screams “one!” the buzzer sounds and the first few seconds of a person’s entrance music hits. It’s a rush that can’t be replicated, especially if you have a friendly fiver on the match.

I thought it would be appropriate to discuss what I think should happen at the show and what will happen on the six-hour extravaganza from the Alamodome this Sunday.

SIX

HOURS

simpsons

Raw Tag Team Championship match: Cesaro & Sheamus (C) vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

This feels like the 9,000th time Gallows and Anderson have challenged for the Raw tag team titles. This feud was put in place as a way to funnel the New Day away from the title picture, which is fine, but at least give us a reason for the program.

There’s no reason for G&A to just be handed a championship program, but when you subtract the New Day from the potential challengers, there aren’t even enough teams to do a four team elimination match for the number one contendership.

So yes, this is a perfect pre-show match.

What should happen: Gallows and Anderson should kick off the festivities on Sunday with a title win. How many more times can they lose in a championship situation? Their credibility has been crushed, so why not try and build it back up, especially with Finn Balor coming back soon.

Plus, Cesaro and Sheamus are much better off chasing the titles.

What will happen: Cesaro and Sheamus will get a clean win. Gallows and Anderson have been given quite a few wins over the tag champs in singles matches and a “Dusty” finish win in a tag team title match a few weeks back on Raw, so that usually means that the booking will be reversed at the PPV.

Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax

In order to get Sasha out of the title picture for a bit, she was moved into a program with Nia, who was actually given a microphone in the middle of the ring on Monday and got her lines out easier than Goldberg did.

timeout

This program hasn’t helped either woman and I don’t expect the match to get over that well, especially with Sasha playing up the injury angle. Jax isn’t ready to be on the main roster at this point and as her awful match on NXT in Japan against Asuka proved, she’s damn sure not ready to work a long match on a big stage. Expect this one to be kept short.

What should happen: Nia should get the win after Sasha’s “injured” leg plays into the finish of the match.

What will happen: See the sentence above.

Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte (C) vs. Bayley

This feud has certainly seen its ups and downs as we roll into San Antonio. The idea of Charlotte making fun of Bayley’s passion for the wrestling business was an excellent idea that blurred the line of reality.

Were the segments featuring Charlotte and Bayley executed perfectly leading up to the Rumble? No, but a segment isn’t always going to be perfect.

Were any of the segments detrimental to either character? Almost, which is an issue. A few weeks back on Raw, Bayley fired off an emotional reply to Charlotte’s demeaning promo. The crowd was heating up for Ms. Hug Life and then things got … goofy.

In Charlotte’s promo, she referenced poems that Bayley had written in her youth, which is totally fine. It’s easy heat. Well, someone thought it would be a good idea for Bayley to recite a set of new poems to Charlotte and it did not go over well. Bayley didn’t lose the crowd, but it certainly changed the tone of the promo.

This past Monday, Bayley and Charlotte sat down with Corey Graves for separate one-on-one interviews and they were both great! Ms. Flair is expected to come off like one of the biggest heels in the company because she’s been on such a roll lately.

Bayley’s interview came off a bit awkward at first, but that’s part of her character, so it totally fit. When she turned up the intensity of her promo, it reminded me of the version of Bayley we all loved in NXT.

What should happen: Bayley should come extremely close to winning the title before Charlotte’s heel tactics help her retain the title.

What will happen: Charlotte will retain her title by using nefarious means. It doesn’t make sense for Bayley to win the title and end Charlotte’s PPV win streak (which has been built tremendously BTW) at the Rumble. That’s a moment that needs to be saved for WrestleMania.

save

Becky Lynch/Naomi/Nikki Bella vs. Alexa Bliss/Mickie James/Natalya

Before this match was announced this past Tuesday, SmackDown’s only match on the card was AJ Styles vs. John Cena and with four hours to fill, a multi-person match featuring SD talent needed to be added.

This is your classic face vs. heel dynamic, but there is a storyline connection between Alexa and Mickie, so don’t be surprised if Natty tries to create some drama with the two at some point during the match.

What should happen: Naomi should get the pin over Alexa in order to set up a title match at Elimination Chamber. Natalya and Nikki should brawl into the crowd and eventually backstage. Becky should lay out Alexa before Mickie gets in her way, which allows Naomi to score the pin.

What will happen: Mickie James will pin Becky Lynch. This is Mickie’s first main roster match with the company in seven years and Becky can afford to eat a pinfall.

Cruiserweight Championship: Rich Swann (C) vs. Neville

Outside of John Cena’s reintroduction of the Thuganomics promos (more on that later), there hasn’t been a better character over the last month than Neville. He’s fully embraced this heel turn and has owned it. He genuinely seems disgusted with the state of the Cruiserweight division, which has made his hate for Rich Swann feel legitimate.

I love the intensity Swann has shown over recent weeks. If he just kept dancing and getting his ass kicked by Neville, it would be really easy for the crowd to cheer Neville, but Swann has stormed down to the ring and literally punched the self-proclaimed “King of the Cruiserweights” in the mouth during the build for this match.

What should happen: As much as I like Swann, it’s time for Neville to claim the title and turn this division into high gear. With Tozawa and Austin Aries set to join the 205 Live crew, there might be enough talent to save the cruiserweights.

What will happen: Neville will force Swann to tap out to his Rings of Saturn variation.

No Disqualification WWE Universal Championship match: Kevin Owens (C) vs. Roman Reigns (Chris Jericho will be suspended above the ring inside a shark cage)

Sure, we’ve seen this match quite a bit over the last few months, but I thought creative did a very good job pushing the shark cage element this past Monday on Raw. The Superman punch from Reigns to Jericho while Y2J was hanging from the cage was pretty effing awesome.

As I’ve written in a previous column, Owens just hasn’t been booked as a strong champion, so it seems like he’s ripe for a loss here, especially when you consider how high Vince is on Roman.

If you follow pro wrestling you know how obsessed Vince McMahon can be and he hasn’t given up on making Reigns the next face of the company.

Has Vince cooled his jets a bit? I suppose. It doesn’t feel like Reigns is being shoved down our throats like he was in April-June of last year. If you paid attention to how Jericho “won” the United States Championship though, you can see that Roman is being booked as #SuperReigns again.

One of the main title matches at WrestleMania is going to be on the under card, which means Roman could face Braun Strowman for the title and it doesn’t have to be a 15-20 minute mat classic.

Having said all of that, a win for Owens would be huge here, especially if Jericho drops say a pair of brass knuckles from the cage and gives K.O. the assist.

A similar scenario with a Roman getting the win is also totally possible here. Due to this completely believable alternate scenario, I think this match will have a hotter crowd than some might be anticipating. The actual finish is just that unpredictable as of right now.

What should happen: Owens should retain the title with the assist from Jericho.

What will happen: Owens will retain the title because he’ll have to defend it again at Fast Lane. There’s still a chance he won’t walk into Super WrestleMania Sunshine with the red strap.

wait

WWE Championship match: AJ Styles (C) vs. John Cena

In terms of match quality, this should be another classic between the two. Styles and Cena are the two best full-time performers on the roster.

(Note: Yes, Cena has dipped out for a few months to film shows and movies, but he still appears way more than Brock, Undertaker, or Goldberg and still works house shows.)

If Cena wins the title, he’ll match Ric Flair’s record of 16 world championship reigns.

If Styles wins, it’ll cement one of, if not the best opening year for a new superstar in the history of the company. If AJ goes over Cena on Sunday it’ll be the fourth time Styles has recorded a win over Cena.

Here’s a stat to chew on: When Styles walks into the Alamodome, he will have held the title for longer than Ric Flair, Eddie Guerrero, Roman Reigns, Big Show, Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley. (H/T to Tygrus on /r/SquaredCircle.)

There’s nothing else that needs to be said. This is going to be an excellent match.

What should happen: Styles should stun everyone by beating Cena, thanks to the help of either Anderson and Gallows or new members of “The Club.” This would be the perfect time to introduce new characters (Hi Revival!) who help AJ with his quest for respect.

What will happen: Cena will get his revenge win over Styles and tie Flair’s record. Styles will then spiral into a WrestleMania program with Shane McMahon. If you don’t believe me, just watch this promo from Talking Smack. It’s painfully obvious.

Cena’s promos have been on fire as of late. He’s been channeling the “Thuganomics” version of his character and the results have been awesome. The backstage promo he had with Renee a few weeks ago was a grand slam and there are not many in the business who can cut a better promo on a “go-home” show than Cena.

The 2017 Royal Rumble Match

Whew I don’t know what will be longer. This column or the Royal Rumble itself. We’re in the home stretch here, so hang with me for a few more graphs.

This year’s Rumble match is one of the biggest ever in terms of star power.

We won’t have to worry about announcers entering the match in order to fill spots. In fact, the usual chunk of lower card guys won’t get an opportunity to work the match, so the crowd should be even more fired up than usual.

So what spots should we expect to see?

It seems likely that the ring will fill up early in order for Braun Strowman to clean house. He could also enter early (let’s say number 3) and just continuously throw guys out one by one until the Undertaker, Baron Corbin, Big Show or Brock Lesnar come out to turn the tide of the match.

A Lesnar-Goldberg staredown towards the end of the match will absolutely happen.

According to a report, Finn Balor is close to returning, so he could be a surprise entrant.

With Samoa Joe’s absence from NXT television since dropping the title to Shinsuke Nakamura, he seems likely to debut.

I expect Tye Dillinger will debut at number 10, but I don’t expect him to last more than 10 minutes in the match.

Will Kurt Angle show up? If he showed up in the number 30 slot, one of the biggest pops in ages would take place.

Luke Harper has to eliminate Bray Wyatt and/or Randy Orton.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Baron Corbin wound up as the workhorse of the match. Don’t be surprised if he winds up with a similar performance to Kane in the 2001 Royal Rumble. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be the last person eliminated, but he could very well finish the match with the most eliminations.

What should happen: There’s so many scenarios, so I’m going to cheat a little bit and give you two:

A.) Samoa Joe should shock everyone by eliminating Goldberg with help from Brock Lesnar and then go on to face Styles for the world championship at WrestleMania.

B.) Jericho finally gets his revenge on Greenberg by eliminating him to win the match. Y2J will then go on to face Owens for the Universal title at WrestleMania.

What will happen: Undertaker will fulfill his prophecy by filling 29 holes with 29 soles and winning the Rumble match. He’ll then challenge Finn Balor for the Universal title in Orlando.

folks

P.S.

Glad to see you made it all the way past the final GIF.

Before you go, I just wanted to reach out to you the reader. If you’ve been paying attention to how WWE builds cards for their big shows, then I’m sure you have expectations and fantasy booking scenarios for this Sunday.

In fact, send me a few of your suggestions on Twitter and I’ll turn it into a column before Sunday.

@ScottDargis 

WWE Weekly Recap: Let’s rank the post-WrestleMania surprises

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The first Raw after WrestleMania is a key moment for WWE in setting up future storylines that will fill the time until the build for SummerSlam begins. There have been points in time where the company would keep a WrestleMania feud alive through the next PPV, but more often than not, the first live show after Mania represents a change from the WrestleMania season stories.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that the Raw after WrestleMania became dominated by a crowd of hardcore fans from around the world. The “smarks” cheer for whatever they want. From #BeachBallMania to perfectly timing the “YEAH!” portion of The Revival’s entrance, it’s an environment that every wrestling fan should experience at some point.

This year’s schedule presented WWE with the opportunity to keep fans who traveled for WrestleMania around even longer with the addition of Tuesday’s SmackDown Live tapings. The crowd that attended the SD taping sounded like a beefed up NXT crowd, which was particularly enjoyable when they all chanted “ONE FALL!” in unison before the women’s title match between Naomi and Alexa Bliss.

Thanks to the rowdy nature of this specific crowd, Monday’s Raw and Tuesday’s SmackDown presented an ideal opportunity to bring up a few key talents from NXT and return some familiar faces who have been off of TV for awhile due to injury. If there’s a time to make NXT guys and girls feel like a big deal, this is the week they’re going to come off like the most over talents on the show.

So let’s take a look back at all of the surprises from this past week and rank them from worst to OMFG did that really just happen?

Erick Rowan

The big redheaded stepchild of the Wyatt Family has been out of action since early October after getting surgery on his right rotator cuff. Rowan has been reportedly available to return for a few weeks, but clearly, Vince wanted to wait until after Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton had their WrestleMania match.

On Tuesday, Rowan posted this very creepy video on his Twitter account that apparently was supposed to signify his return:

Rowan returned in the opening segment to help Wyatt beat down Orton, but his place on the totem pole was quickly established when Luke Harper and Orton combined for a superkick-RKO combination after Wyatt used some of his “magical powers” to leave Rowan all by himself in the ring. Not only did Orton “fight” his way out of a sneak attack from Rowan, but the gigantic goof ate a clean pin.

I’d say Rowan is in a slightly better position than Curt Hawkins, which isn’t where you want to be.

Emma

Unlike the debut of Emmalina, we didn’t have to wait four months to get the return of Emma’s character from NXT and her brief run on the main roster before she ruptured a disc in her back during a live event last May.

Sure, the Emma vignettes aired for a few weeks longer than they should have, but with the Superstar Shake-Up coming, Emma could be a valuable piece of the Raw women’s division if Charlotte ends up switching brands, which is currently rumored. The move would make total sense in storyline considering that Bayley pinned Charlotte clean at Mania and then Sasha made her tap out on Raw.

Emma’s actual return was lackluster. She was slotted in a six-woman tag match, which was not a showcase for her. She bailed out of the ring before Nia Jax “beat up” Charlotte, so if you’re a fan of Emma’s, this is probably not how you wanted her to come back, but it’ll have to do for now.

Be patient, the women’s division on Monday is so thin that she will have a chance to shine and her aggressive style did get over once, so why can’t it happen again?

Kurt Angle

The rumor of Angle becoming the general manager of Raw immediately after WrestleMania had been floated around for quite a while, so it was no surprise that Vince introduced Angle as the next G.M. character on the company’s flagship show.

Even though Angle’s segments after his in-ring promo felt very similar to what we’ve had over the past few months with Mick Foley, the novelty of seeing Angle interact with Enzo, Cass, Sami Zayn, and Seth Rollins was enough to keep me entertained. Monday’s three-hour Raw did not drag and these segments with Angle played a big role.

Finn Balor

Am I excited Finn Balor is back on Raw after his shoulder/upper arm was destroyed at SummerSlam after he took a powerbomb from Rollins into the corner of the barricade?

Did it make any sense for Balor to team with the guy who legitimately put him on the shelf for seven months, which included WrestleMania?

I know WWE can think at times that no one cares to remember what happened seven months ago, but there is an easy story to tell here. Why not have Balor team with Rollins and then walk away when Rollins reaches out for a tag? It’s a logical way to continue a story that the crowd will actually invest in because it blurs the line of reality and fiction. The two would eventually have a match and then shake hands after.

The tag-team match between Rollins/Balor vs. Owens/Joe that closed Monday’s show should have been a super-hot tag match between four guys who all established themselves on the independent scene before making their way to WWE via NXT. Instead, it was just an OK match that didn’t have as nearly as much heat as you would think.

The crowd was dying for Balor to return during Brock’s segment, but he’s not going near the Universal title picture anytime soon, it appears. Lesnar isn’t going to be at Payback and when he does defend the title, it will likely be against Braun Strowman and then Roman Reigns.

There are plenty of guys for Balor to work with and if AJ Styles comes over to Raw (heavily rumored), we could have a dream match scenario on our hands.

Tye Dillinger

The crowd was finally able to use the “10!” correctly when Dillinger “answered” Hawkins’ Open Challenge on Tuesday. Because the show felt at times like a big NXT event, the crowd at the Amway Center in Orlando made Dillinger feel like a bigger deal than he will probably end up being on the main roster.

Having said that, he will be in a position to overachieve with his gimmick on SmackDown. If he was on Raw, he would quickly get lost in the shuffle, but with the lack of depth on Tuesday nights and a gimmick that is over to a certain degree (it’s more popular than the Fandango chant IMO) he might end up as a solid mid-card hand for SD.

#FantasyBooking idea: I’d love it if SAnitY followed Dillinger up to the main roster as Eric Young continues to try and recruit him.

The Revival

This was arguably the biggest surprise from the post-WrestleMania shows. I suspected Nakamura would show up on SD as well as Dillinger, but I wasn’t sure which brand the #TopGuys would pop-up on.

When the New Day issued their open challenge on Monday, I wasn’t expecting to see Dash and Dawson show up, but when they did I’ll admit I popped. Scott Dawson has been in developmental for years now (as well as Dillinger), so it’s always great to see someone like that finally get their opportunity to shine on the main roster.

The Revival were given a clean win over Big E/Xavier Woods and then “injured” Kofi Kingston’s knee after the match. It was classic Revival, which is the only way that they’re going to get over with the bigger audience.

Match you didn’t know you wanted until right now: Revival vs. The Hardys

Shinsuke Nakamura

Whoever pitched the idea of having Lee England Jr. perform Nakamura’s entrance live deserves a raise. This was an amazing moment that I will not do justice with words, so if you haven’t seen it (IDK what is wrong with you) or if you’ve already seen it, watch it again and enjoy just how magical this moment was:

As I watched his entrance live I wondered if he would grab the microphone and make a joke to The Miz about being dressed up like John Cena, or if he would simply kick Miz right in the face. Shockingly, neither of these scenarios played out. Instead, Nakamura performed his entrance, soaked in the thunderous “NA-KA-MURA” chants and then left the ring and went to the back.

I was not a fan of how awkward the end of this segment felt as it was happening, but when I went back and watched it a second time (or maybe 10 more times, who’s counting right!?) I thought the segment ended fine. There’s no reason for Nakamura to make Miz look like a jabroni with one strike. He’s right on the cusp of being a main eventer again and Nakamura needs someone to feud with. Don’t underestimate just how entertaining a Miz TV segment with Shinsuke could be.

Time to “Go Home”

So who knows what’s going to happen with the Hardy’s gimmicks, but here’s my idea for the immediate future. What if Matt Hardy became CURED Matt Hardy or something similar to that. My thinking would be that WWE could continue the BROKEN storyline, but create their own character.  

Every now and then, Matt could “relapse” and start a delete chant or use other mannerisms from his BROKEN character.

Jeff Hardy is just going to be Jeff Hardy, don’t expect Brother Nero to make an appearance.

– Something has to be done about the Hardys theme, it just doesn’t sound right with their current look/character.

– Why is Nia Jax making goofy faces at the camera?

– The New Day are also rumored to leave Raw for SmackDown. I’m a big fan of this move because it would hopefully lead to a singles push for Big E.

– Was Tuesday the beginning of Styles’ face turn or was it a one off? I know he gets cheered all of the time like a babyface, but he’s still very much a heel.

– The opening segment on Raw with Roman Reigns vs. the crowd was pretty damn memorable. I can’t think of a person in the last few years outside of Cena who has had that kind of heat during a segment.

– You should go out of your way to listen to the Talk is Jericho podcast with Reigns. He comes off like such a nice dude.

– Even though I briefly mentioned the match earlier, the tag match between Orton/Harper and Wyatt/Rowan was an incredibly lackluster way to end the extended weekend.

– I really enjoyed NXT TakeOver Orlando. Especially Roode vs. Nakamura. The triple threat tag team elimination match between Authors of Pain-DIY-Revival was the best WWE match of the entire weekend.

– I think my favorite match from the marathon that was WrestleMania was Goldberg-Lesnar. It hit all of the right notes and was perfectly mapped out.

– Isn’t it crazy that WrestleMania lasted seven hours and Samoa Joe wasn’t on the show at all?

– During Naomi’s entrance on Tuesday, I thought to myself, damn it would be awesome if the women’s title glowed along with her outfit and then this photo appeared.

– The #RawafterMania really should just be renamed Cesaro appreciation night. Cass got massive boos when he ran wild on Cesaro during a hot tag.

– Those Jordan 8’s Enzo rocked on Monday night are worth around $800-$1200.

– Tom Phillips has done an excellent job filling in for Mauro Ranallo.

– I’d love to see Jim Ross call main events on PPVs. Similar to what he did during his last part-time gig with the company when he called main event matches on NXT.

– I felt so bad for Neville and Mustafa Ali. They busted their ass in the ring on Monday, but the crowd was way more worried about getting themselves over and playing with a beach ball.

– You’d think for being “hardcore” fans that they would, you know, show their appreciation for the product.

The Twitter: @ScottDargis

WrestleMania 33 Live Blog

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WWE’s biggest show of the year is underway from Camping World Stadium in Orlando. Follow along as we go for the “Ultimate thri …

You’re right, we’re going to hear that phrase 50,000 times during the next six hours, so let’s just move along. Get your snacks and adult beverages ready because this is going to be a long night.

Pre-show

5:30 ET: This has already replaced WrestleMania 26 as my favorite set. I can’t even imagine what the pyro budget is tonight.

All right Austin Aries got a very good reaction. Glad to see so many people are in the building 90 minutes before the show.

–  Neville’s kick to the head of Aries was nice.

– Oof, the King of the Cruiserweights landed so hard on the outside.

– OMG how is Aries still moving. He landed right on his head from a German suplex.

– Can we all just be glad that this match was on the pre-show. Both guys have had a chance to shine and the crowd was getting up for the big spots.

– Nice striking sequence from both guys.

– Neville pins Aries after heelish tactics led to the Red Arrow.

– No matter how many times I see it, the Red Arrow is still amazing. Neville did almost crush Aries’ face.

– If the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was in the bigger ring, IDK if I would care about it. Just look at these jabronis.

– SAnitY’s entrance would not have worked in the daylight, but annoying that Killian Dain is just another “guy” in this match.

– Oh snap, Braun Strowman and Big Show eliminated 

– That moment when you realize Luke Harper is in the ring.

– Man, American Alpha once again just looks like a couple of guys. Jason Jordan should have at least had a flurry of suplexes before getting tossed.

– Tian Bing with a nice showing. Much better than Hideo Itami two years ago.

So Mojo is winning right?

– The security guard doesn’t know who Gronk is.

– Noticeable sound issues throughout the pre-show. Weird considering how top notch WWE broadcasts are.

– Jinder Mahal just got GRONK’d.

– Gronkowski really should think about joining WWE after his playing career wraps up.

– Dain stunningly lasted until the final three. Must be viewed as a hot prospect.

Mojo eliminates Jinder Mahal to win the ATMBR. 

– WHY DIDN’T GRONK AND MOJO CELEBRATE LIKE STONE COLD?

Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose for the IC title 

 These guys are working hard, but you can tell the crowd just wants the main show to begin. Much quieter than it was for the cruiserweight match and the battle royal.

This match could have really used some weapons.

Corbin reacting to a two count is just hilarious. THAT WAS THREE!

Crowd is starting to get behind Ambrose.

The rotation counter for the End of Days always looks impressive.

Dean Amrbose beats Baron Corbin to retain the IC title

– Really surprised Corbin looked up at the lights here. It felt like he was set for a run with SmackDown’s mid-card championship.

Main card

7:00 p.m. ET – Yes, the pre-show is FINALLY over. Let’s see what opens the show.

– Mandatory performance of “America the Beautiful,” I wonder what’s going through Vince’s mind right now.

“The Greatest Live Event in Entertainment”

– It’s your WrestleMania hosts the NEW DAY.

– Xavier Woods’ hair is a sight to behold.

– Um … is this Raw or WrestleMania? That was a waste of a segment besides Big E “pull the lever” line. At least throw out some ice cream bars.

– WHAT, AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon is opening the main card!?

– MASSIVE POP for Styles.

– Styles’ gear is fire emoji, fire emoji

– Styles’ new shirt is red and his gear has red in it. He’s definitely going to Raw.

– OMG Otunga just said there’s “no way” Styles is going to tire out Shane McMahon.

– Shane is already pouring sweat btw.

– Will say Shane did OK with the chain wrestling sequence. Crowd appreciated that.

– HOLY CRAP, Styles “launched” Shane with a baseball drop kick to the outside. Shane flew over the announce table.

– Is a thunderstorm coming?

– As expected, Shane is getting in a lot of offense. The crowd hated when he back Styles into the corner and threw his terrible looking punches, but Styles made Shane’s running back elbow look solid.

– For those who care, Shane is wearing the Jordan XXXI Chinese New Year.

– Hey, that submission sequence wasn’t terrible! If you would have told me before the match that they were going to do that, I would’ve done this:

– The Styles Clash sequence was top notch. I was really surprised Shane kicked out.

– REF BUMP, DRINK.

– Styles’ coast-to-coast attempt was blocked by Shane and a trash can. Just a reminder that Styles is one of the best sellers in the company.

– Shane with a beautiful coast-to-coast.

– Man this one is going much longer than I thought it would.

– Shane ate it on the elbow through table spot.

– OMG Shane counters a Phenomenal Forearm into a float over DDT and then MISSED A SHOOTING STAR PRESS.

AJ Styles pins Shane McMahon after hitting a Phenomenal Forearm. This may have lasted a bit too long, but the last five or so minutes were very good.

Chris Jericho (C) vs. Kevin Owens for United States Championship 

– The crowd counting down Jericho’s entrance gave me goosebumps.

– A giant list and a light up vest! If only Y2J had a light up scarf.

– Owens’ cannonball to Jericho on the apron looked cool.

– Anyone else chuckle when K.O. yelled “ASK HIM!” at the ref?

– The Roommate laughed when Owens yelled “You have no friends” at Jericho.

– Every time Owens sets up for the package suplex, I think he’s going to hit the piledriver.

– Nasty bruise just above Owens’ right eye.

– Nice counter sequence from both guys. Always amazes me when someone counters Owens’ swanton bomb with their knees.

– The Go-Home Driver!

– I said this to “Easy” Ed on Friday before I left worked, I was worried that Jericho and Owens’ match would slow down a bit too much and that kind of happened. The crowd sat on their hands a bit during the middle of this one.

– Jericho kicked out of the pop-up powerbomb and Owens put his right index finger on the bottom rope to break up the pinfall after a Codebreaker. The finisher kick out counter is now at four.

– Kevin Owens pins Chris Jericho to become the new United States Champions after an apron powerbomb of death!

Raw women’s title match up next, shocked this is happening already. Once again the match order is highly questionable.

– Fireworks for Bayley. Her entrance looked amazing, especially the giant Bayley Buddies by the ring.

– Sasha Banks is riding down to the ring on the back of a fancy golf cart, better get that queued up for the Undertaker’s entrance.

– The camera shot with Charlotte standing close with the fireworks going off in the background was just incredible. The set makes this event feel so special.

– I think this match is going to go like this. Nia get the heat early and then Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha all team up to eliminate her. Bayley and Sasha team-up to try and eliminate Charlotte, but then Sasha gets eliminated and turns on Bayley. Let’s see what happens …

– Jax dominating early. Step 1 complete.

– Dude, Nia Jax just landed right on the back of her head after a double suplex-boot combo move.

– Nia Jax eliminated after getting hit with a triple team powerbomb. Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha all jumped on top of her for the pin.

– Charlotte hit that corkscrew moonsault to the outside perfectly.

– Sasha Banks eliminated after she gets sent into the exposed middle turnbuckle by Charlotte. Crowd was not happy.

– Why did we have to have the Fatal Four Way gimmick if two of the competitors were going to get eliminated this fast.

– Charlotte ran Bayley’s knee into the exposed turnbuckle and is now working it over. Is she going to run through the division tonight?

– Nice backbody drop from the top rope by Bayley.

– Bayley retains the Raw Women’s Championship after hitting a top-rope elbow on Charlotte

– Well that came out of nowhere … gotta wonder if their time got cut before the show started.

HOF recap from Friday, this means I finally get a bathroom break.

– This pop for Kurt Angle is going to be awesome.

– Where does Angle’s theme rank all time? Gotta be top five right?

Raw Tag Team Championship ladder match between Gallows and Anderson (C) vs. Enzo and Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus

– This is Enzo’s best outfit of all time:

– Crowd is thunderous for the SAWFT chant.

– Cesaro is wearing a suit that’s also a kilt. James Bond would never wear that.

– Odds of Sheamus’s giant cut getting opened up during this match is extremely high.

– I just hope Enzo makes it out of this match alive.

– Crowd is not going to be happy when the New Day is the fourth team in the Fatal Four …

– WHAT THE …

– Hey Matt Hardy how does it feel to be back?

– Cesaro is so lucky that he didn’t get seriously hurt when Big Cass potatoed him on the ladder.

– That big boot from Cass to Jeff Hardy looked vicious.

– Cesaro just swung Anderson around like 20 times, while Sheamus delivered the Beats of the Valkyrie to Gallows. Got a standing ovation from the crowd.

– Ah they got the Cass lifting Enzo up the ladder spot out of the way already.

– Enzo is taking a hard fall off of a ladder at some point.

– A Twist of Fate from the top of the ladder to Gallows, a swanton bomb from Jeff Hardy off of a 20-foot ladder through Cesaro and Sheamus who were draped on ladders that were positioned from the ring to the barricade.

Matt Hardy pulls down the titles and the Hardy Boyz become seven-time tag team champions. 

From bell-to-bell this was a very good match. There was never a down moment and the crowd was super hot throughout.

John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse 

– Jerry “The King” Lawler joining the commentary booth. You know what this means? NO OTUNGA!

– Al “Chocolate Thunder” Roker needs to embrace his heel side.

The percentage of the crowd singing John Cena “sucks” was around 75%.

– The Miz is getting thunderous cheers right now. Really didn’t think this would happen.

– Very slow pace to start this one. Miz controlling the action. This match is already going longer than I thought it would.

– No, keep him away from the table.

– Got a bit uneasy when Nikki did the suicide dive. Gotta wonder what kind of shape her neck is in.

– John Cena and Nikki Bella defeat The Miz and Maryse after a simultaneous AA and Rack Attack 2.0. Well that ended in quick fashion. Miz controlled 98% of that match. The worst one of the show so far.

– Is the crowd about to boo Cena’s proposal?

– Is Natalya going to run in and interrupt?

– Cena proposes!

– This is a pretty awesome moment. Feels genuine.

Triple H vs. Seth Rollins 

– This pre-match video package was great when I watched it the first time on Monday, it’s just as good now.

– I love how Stephanie has been incorportaed into Triple H’s entrance over the last two years.

– HHH has to love the fact that he’s not in the final match of the night in this marathon of a show.

– Why isn’t Samoa Joe riding in a side car next to HHH?

– That moment when you thought Seth Rollins was getting a new theme. Very cool entrance though.

– I wonder if Rollins got that torch from Randy Orton’s ceremony.

– Rollins was reportedly battling a rough illness earlier in the week. Hopefully he’s feeling better.

– Going into the show, I thought this would be the Match of the Night, let’s see if these two can deliver.

– We’re less than two minutes in and Rollins has already lost his wristbands. Has the guy ever heard of tape?

– Rollins’ gear getting compared to Goldust. Let’s be real, Goldust never wore anything this awesome.

– The buckle bomb is back. Just know I cringed when HHH hit the corner.

– Gotta think a big spot is coming soon. They’ve been going at a pretty slow pace.

– If you’re wondering if the Hardys are still broken? Here’s your answer:

– Here come the chairs!

– Pulling the table out from under the ring will always get a pop. It will seriously never not get a cheer.

– It’s Falcon Arrow not Falcon’s Arrow. Mike Cole always struggles with that one.

– Rollins has been watching some Johnny Gargano tape.

– Triple H has been watching some CM Punk tape.

– Man the crowd is starting to get a bit tired out. Haven’t reacted to this match very well at all.

– SUPER close near fall after a pedigree. The finisher kick out counter is now at five. Considering the last one happened in the Jericho-Owens match.

– Stephanie just got put through a table. That woke the crowd up.

Seth Rollins pins Triple H after a pedigree. Kinda wish the counter sequence for the pedigree would have happened after Steph went through the table. Crowd was ready to get super hot for the finish. Match stayed at one gear the entire time, so it’s fair to wonder if the knee gimmick didn’t exactly help the match.

Shockingly no Samoa Joe appearance.

– Why couldn’t the Pitbull performance get cut from the show? It’s 10:15 and we still have four matches left. Is this damn show going until Midnight?

Bray Wyatt (C) vs. Randy Orton for the WWE title

– Orton was so damn goofy leading up to this match and this video package can’t change that.

– Wyatt’s entrance looks so wild with this many people holding up cell phones. Must be bone chilling for him to walk down that long ramp and look out into the crowd.

– Woah, the snake on the entrance ramp is a delightful touch.

– ONE FALL.

– Greg Hamilton is seriously underrated.

– It’s now time to wonder if the SmackDown women’s title match got cut from the show. If not, this might go to Midnight.

– Woah, an image of a bunch of maggots was just projected on the ring. That was awesome.

– And now it’s worms.

– Crowd is dead right now, but what else would you expect? This show is a marathon and the crowd is gasping for air like the out of shape person who enters a 5K without training.

– Ah the mandatory punt attempt from Orton at WrestleMania.

– Orton kicks out of Sister Abigail. Finisher kick out counter is at six.

Randy Orton wins the WWE title after an RKO outta nowhere. This was the worst match on the show. The gimmick of Wyatt “changing” the image on the mat was unique and did the job, but the action from bell-to-bell just never clicked and the crowd didn’t even care about the title change.

Goldberg (C) vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship

– I would have to imagine the crowd is going to be hot for this one. If not, maybe the SmackDown women’s title match should get cut.

– The pop for Brock Lesnar was similar to one that you would hear at the third hour of a boring Raw.

– Oh shut up with your numbers to remember Mike Cole.

– Damn, Goldberg is in tremendous shape.

– Crowd didn’t even budge for his pyro.

– Crowd is dead, who you gonna call? Paul Heyman!

– Man, quite a few boos when Jojo introduced Goldberg and now they’re roaring for these Brock suplexes.

– HERE WE GO. SPEAR, SPEAR, SPEAR THROUGH THE BARRICADE

– Lesnar kicked out of the Jackhammer! Finisher kick out counter is at seven.

– This place is going to explode when Lesnar hits the F5.

Brock Lesnar pins Goldberg after hitting an F5 to win the Universal Championship. Lesnar gave Goldberg 10 german suplexes. This match did wake the crowd up quite a bit considering how quiet they were for the entrances. Could not have been booked better.

SmackDown Women’s Championship Six Pack Challenge

– Mickie James channeling Tatanka with her entrance gear.

– Apparently it’s Carmania.

– Naomientrance looks effing crazy on this stage.

– So this match is going to be a quick one. Imagine it’s just going to be a spotfest.

– James Ellsworth just tried to superkick Becky Lynch, who landed an exploder suplex on him.

– A double sharpshooter? I guess that kinda worked.

– She calls that the rear view is apparently still the name of the move.

Naomi makes Alexa Bliss tap out to win the SmackDown women’s championship. This match was exactly what it needed to be considering the time. Everyone got their spots in and no one messed anything up.

Oh no, not another New Day segment …

– Here comes the inflated number for the Citrus Bowl attendance record.

Main event time FINALLY, Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker

– This is an amazing video package, but we seriously might go all the way until Midnight.

– What if the Undertaker gets rolled out to the ring in a casket? That will save us 15 minutes.

– Now this one is No Holds Barred. Good call considering how limited the Undertaker might be.

– So glad to see Jim Ross is back in his environment considering the recent tragedy he endured.

– The crowd isn’t tired enough to hold back from booing Reigns.

– Undertaker coming up through a trap door in the ramp for the win!

– This is amazing:

– Undertaker and Reigns trading huge blows to start. Expecting a slugfest from these two.

– One of my favorite little things the Undertaker does is when he stumbles into the corner with his hands up like he’s ready to fight, but clearly on dream street. That always cracks me up.

– Crowd is so quiet that you can hear Reigns and Undertaker calling spots.

– DAYMN Reigns with a wicked spear that drove Taker through the Spanish announce table.

– No one gives better chair shots than the Undertaker.

– Shouldn’t the Undertaker not be surprised when someone kicks out of the Tombstone at WrestleMania?

– Oof, Reigns tried to counter a Tombstone and it led to a very bad botch. Reigns called an audible and hit Taker with another Superman punch.

– Reigns isn’t afraid to swing that chair either.

– This crowd is going to be too tired to riot after Reigns wins.

– Undertaker has kicked out of two spears and Reigns kicked out of a Tombstone, which means the finisher kick out counter is now at 10.

Roman Reigns pins Undertaker after hitting a huge spear. This felt like a squash. Reigns controlled a good chunk of this match especially the final five minutes or so. Really thought Undertaker would hit another Tombstone.

– Undertaker sits up in the ring after Reigns leaves. Somehow he’s back in his entrance gear.

– If this is really it for the Undertaker, you have to wonder how he feels about that performance and the crowd reaction. There was just nothing left for them to give because IT’S AFTER MIDNIGHT.

– Taker is so close to losing it right now. There’s definitely some tears in that ring.

– THANK YOU TAKER

All right folks, that’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed the show. You can follow me on Twitter @ScottDargis