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Power Rankings: NXT (10/29/17)

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Leading into NXT Takeover: War Games this wasn’t really an easy breakdown. Asuka vacating the belt, leaves a large power void in not only the Women’s Divison but NXT in general. Then the Undisputed Era muddying up the Tag Division and starting some issues with Drew McIntyre, really took the long road to try and figure out a direction for the title pictures. Let’s see how all of this finally shook out:

5. Undisputed Era

They come into NXT with a lot of pomp and circumstance coming out of Ring of Honor primarily. Adam Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reily didn’t waste any time attacking the champions and trying to recruit more people to their cause. Immediately kicking off a feud with Sanity has granted them Tag Team Title shots in the WWE debut of the Wargames match. They haven’t showcased much of their ability so far and have been trying to just get over the heel character work, but purely off the merits of their resume, they are a top faction.

4. Aleister Black

Now in the last Power Rankings I was figuring the win over Hideo Itami would’ve put him into NXT Title contention, but, I guess not. He’s got plenty of quality wins over wrestlers that had fairly recent matches for the big championship, yet, he’s still in the upper mid card. This feud with Velveteen Dream should either be the last step before he gets a title shot, or his first loss and a new direction for a few months. Either way, he keeps winning, he’s over, and fairly popular among the younger demographics, so stagnant or not, it hasn’t hurt him yet.

3. Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas

Well it looks like he’s finally getting his far overdue turn at main eventing a Takeover. After being involved in a four way match earlier this year for number one contendership, he just kept racking up losses and falling down the card. In comes Zelina Vega, and looks to have reinvigorated Andrade all while talking him into a title shot against Drew McIntyre. So the only thing that needs to happen now is Andrade winning the title, but that’s neither here nor there. La Sombra is finally getting a push in NXT, now let’s just hope he keeps the momentum going.

2. Drew McIntyre

His climb back to the top had a few great matches and a lot of heart and determination. Now though, he’s only defended the title once on TV since winning it 2 months ago, so it makes it difficult to place him at the top. He’s still a huge force, in stature and overall reception, but he’s been on the interview train to lead into his Takeover match against Andrade. He doesn’t exactly have a lot left to prove, and who knows, he may be looking at a fairly quick call up since he is a known product. How he performs at Takeover:Wargames will solidify his impact within the landscape of NXT.

1. SAnitY

We have a group of lovable psychopaths who the crowd eats up. Each member gets a large amount of crowd support and have enough skills to shine without needing gang warfare. Eric Young does have a track record of throwing together good factions (look at World Elite during his TNA time), but this group is special. Even while they are still establishing their face personas (which honestly aren’t too much different) no one is complaining. They may have some competition for fan appreciation with Undisputed Era being “Indy darlings” but, until someone unseats them or they get called up, this faction is the best thing in NXT right now.


It took me a little while to put this list together because NXT hasn’t really peaked my interest until recently. Losing Bobby Roode and Asuka at the same time hurt their top end a bit, so some of these storylines feel very patchwork. NXT Takeover: Wargames has a lot of potential to be huge, and I can only hope that the stories progress well also. Here’s to hoping if any debuts or departures happen, it will still be healthy for NXT.


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Opinion

How “All In” Is Changing The Wrestling Scene

They said it could never happen, that a bunch of “indie” wrestlers could have there own event and sell out, for lack of a better term, but it’s happening. All In is sold out, and they’re only getting started.

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All In Cody Rhodes

They said it could never happen, that a bunch of “indie” wrestlers could have their own event and sell out, for lack of a better term, but it’s happening. The Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega and company have sold out All In in under 30 mins and are now getting ready for the biggest event in wrestling that doesn’t have the letters WWE in front of it. On September 1st, 2018 at the Sears Centre in Chicago. 

Fans for 10 to 20 years ago couldn’t even have thought up that a bunch indie wrestlers could start such a revolution in wrestling where fans of all kinds would be watching not only the WWE, but Ring of Honour, Impact, NJPW, and in the eyes of the fans and wrestlers alike have them commit with such a big business company like the WWE. To even imagine that these same wrestlers would put on their own show, with their own money and have it sell it would never have been imaginable…till now. While people may credit Cody Rhodes for drawing the average wrestling fans eyes to ROH or NJPW which is partially true. It is really The Young Bucks who with their Youtube channel, t-shirt sales, partnering with HotTopic, having their own Funko pops and just being damn good wrestlers have created this competition against the WWE.

Yes, I said it and I believe that it is true. The Young Bucks, wherever they go, whoever joins The Elite,  what promotion they are on they become instant competition for the WWE. Now, having made a successful attempt and turned their dreams into reality with ALL IN they have put their metaphorical flag in the ground and stated that there is such thing as a career outside the WWE, there is such thing as a career after the WWE, as Cody has shown time and time again. You can make waves in another country and still have the buzz around you like you’re wrestling in North America like Kenny Omega and Marty Scrull have shown.

With the success of ALL IN with the likes of DDP, Kevin Nash, Hulk Hogan all appearing and tweeting about it has finally shown that the WWE has competition. It’s not in the form of another promotion, but in the form of a bunch of guys who love wrestling as much as the fans do. And if you’ve seen any of these wrestlers wrestle you know how good the show will be and why the WWE finally has met its match.


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Opinion

Top 5: Wrestling Weddings

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The Royal Wedding was the talk of the world last weekend. Either you were all wrapped up in Prince Harry, Meghan Markle & all the drama surrounding them, or you couldn’t care less & kept complaining about people talking about them. Once upon a time, I would have been among the latter crowd, but these days I find myself interested in things like royal weddings. The Crown got me interested for the most part, but Netflix isn’t the only thing playing a role.

I happen to find the concept of royalty interesting. I wouldn’t call myself a monarchist, but I do yearn for the days when leaders at least tried to act dignified & polite. Maybe they weren’t behind the scenes, but they attempted to set an example for the public to follow. Today’s leaders are the complete opposite.

I also find myself enjoying weddings more than I once did. As each day passes, the likelihood of my getting married diminishes. I could be bitter & whine about everybody else finding love while I walk along the boulevard of broken dreams. My teenage & 20s self would go along with this plan. Instead, I find joy in other peoples’ happiness. There’s something beautiful about a wedding. It contains all the promise of tomorrow & new beginnings. There’s none of the cynicism & foreboding of dark times ahead.

Well, that isn’t always true. It certainly isn’t true in pro wrestling. Wrestlers often try to find love amongst themselves, and sometimes we end up with weddings scheduled as worldwide television events. Since they’re wrestlers & happen to be complete psychopaths, things typically go off the rails. There’s no real promise of tomorrow & new beginnings for these poor souls. All we can hope is that their suffering entertains us.

These are the top five weddings in wrestling history.

5. Betty Hanson & George Wagner

Wagner was an undersized but talented wrestler early into his career when he met Betty. They decided to get married at one of George’s shows, and when it drew a bigger house than normal, they took it on the road to other venues. The story says that this is when Wagner figured out that pro wrestling would benefit from more entertainment, and began developing a more charismatic & flamboyant ring persona. Eventually, Gorgeous George was born, and the business was never the same.

4. Elizabeth & “Macho Man” Randy Savage

The Match Made in Heaven co-main evented SummerSlam ’91 alongside the Match Made in Hell. The ceremony itself was relatively uneventful, and to be honest went a bit long for everybody’s liking. What we remember is what happened at the reception, when Jake “The Snake” Roberts presented the newlyweds with a king cobra.

This led into one of the classic feuds of my youth, and one of the classic syndicated TV segments of all time with Jake’s snake taking a bite out of Randy’s arm. Unfortunately, Randy & Elizabeth’s love didn’t last much longer than his feud with Jake did.

3. Billy & Chuck

Who says WWE isn’t progressive? Back in 2002, SmackDown hosted a commitment ceremony involving their top tag team. Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo had been working the whole “tag team partners that are frequently secretly fond of each other” gimmick. One thing led to another, and a commitment ceremony was scheduled for an episode of SmackDown. GLADD got on board with it because they were very gullible…everybody knew this wasn’t going to go off without a hitch. Sure enough, Billy & Chuck got cold feet & blamed their stylist Rico for getting them into the mess. Then we found out the minister was actually Eric Bischoff, and it was all a set-up for a 3 Minute Warning beatdown.

For a segment that seemed like it had no potential for anything good, it actually went all right.

2. Lita & Kane

There was all kinds of ridiculousness leading into this, since it was a love storyline in mid-2000s WWE. Kane decided he was in love with Lita. Matt Hardy took offense. Kane beat up Matt a bunch, kidnapped Lita & impregnated her, then beat Matt in a match where the winner got to marry Lita. Could you imagine WWE trying to do this now? Stuff like this is why I’m glad PC & PG are things.

At least the wedding was an entertaining piece of business. Kane wore white & Lita wore black. The priest had a unique ear piercing. The best man & flower girl were little people. Eric Bischoff read from the Bible. Kane declared that Lita would always be his property. Lita said she would always love Matt Hardy. SO MUCH HILARITY!

WWE posted the wedding allegedly in full on YouTube, but left out the best part…Trish Stratus as Maid of Honor.

Honestly, Trish should be enough to make this number one now that I’m thinking about it. Totally second-guessing my decision here.

Honorable Mention: Edge’s Weddings

If anybody in wrestling history would be involved in multiple in-ring weddings, it would be Edge. The guy reached main event status once he accepted the fact that he was a manwhore. First it was Lita. The whole business with her & Matt Hardy sky-rocketed his stock, and even though his attempted wedding with her ended with Kane tombstoning the priest, the message was sent.

After Edge’s relationship with Lita ended, he moved on to Vickie Guerrero. We figured that Edge’s feelings for Vickie had more to do with her status as SmackDown General Manager than anything else. We were proven right at the wedding reception. Triple H showed a video of Edge cheating on Vickie with the wedding planner, Alicia Fox. Somehow the marriage lasted for months afterwards, but the result was divorce.

Fortunately, his real-life marriage with Beth Phoenix is going better.

Honorable Mention: Joyce & Uncle Elmer

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s attempt to break up the wedding didn’t work, but Jesse Ventura’s commentary of the ceremony remains one of the great performances by an announcer in television history. Just fantastic stuff by The Body.

1. Stephanie McMahon & Test

Remember The Union? It was a short-lived union of people you oughta respect, Shane. They won a match and got the right to book matches for themselves. Test, instead of putting himself in a wrestling match, opted to book a date with Vince McMahon’s daughter, Stephanie. Probably a smart move for a young wrestler. What better way to get on the boss’s good side than by treating his daughter well? It didn’t work out great. Brother Shane took offense to the relationship, leading to a memorable “Love Her or Leave Her” match at SummerSlam 1999.

Once that business was settled (and once they figured out what to do after Vince Russo left for WCW & took whatever idea he had for all of this with him), the engagement began. Plans were made for a wedding on a live episode of Raw. Test was so confident things would go well that he even demanded a match with Triple H earlier in the evening. He won there, but Triple H would have the last laugh at the end of the night.

Triple H stole Test’s thunder & emerged with Stephanie McMahon’s hand in marriage. Eventually, Stephanie revealed that she was actually on Hunter’s side, and Test was left with…well, not much really. His career never reached the heights it could have had he been a storyline McMahon family member.

It was during the McMahon-Helmsley Era storyline that unfolded afterwards that Stephanie McMahon & Paul Levesque fell in love for real. Had things gone another way, with Stephanie married to Test, not married at all, or somebody other than Triple H getting the nod, who’s to say that they would have ever gotten married in real life?

Where would Triple H have gone as a WWE Superstar had they not gotten together? Would he have 14 world championships to his credit? Probably not. It’s safe to assume he wouldn’t be where he is on the corporate totem pole. He never would have had any say in talent development or acquisition. NXT certainly wouldn’t be a thing, at least not in its current form.

Had Stephanie McMahon stayed sober at her bachelorette party, WWE would be a much different place. That’s why her wedding to Test that was botched due to Triple H marrying her beforehand has to be number one on any list of wrestling weddings.


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Opinion

What Will WWE Do When Randy Orton Returns From Injury?

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Randy Orton Shinsuke Nakamura

I wanted to write a column on what WWE will do with Randy Orton as the company is running at full speed toward Money in the Bank. Unfortunately, Orton’s knee beat me to it. According to multiple sources, Orton underwent knee surgery for a torn meniscus, forcing him out of action since the Backlash pay-per-view.

It was also revealed Orton has needed surgery on his knee since 2017, but there is no word when he will return to action. Injuries have played a role in his career in recent years, as the 13-time world champion has been a fixture in SmackDown Live’s mid-card on Tuesday nights.

While John Cena is the gold standard every superstar is measured, I have wondered why the third-generation superstar doesn’t get the recognition he deserves as a veteran of the ring wars. it also remains to be seen if Orton, whose last world title run was at WrestleMania 33 when he defeated Bray Wyatt for the strap.

Ironically, it was Wyatt who ended Cena’s record-tying 16th world title run.

Despite winning the United States Title by beating Bobby Roode at Fastlane this year and becoming the 18th Grand Slam Champion, it’s fair to say “The Viper” has been in purgatory, with no path to the WWE Title. Unlike John Cena, who could still jump into the main event picture on both Raw and SmackDown Live, the last world title run by Orton might be his last as other superstars like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe and now Daniel Bryan, have all surpassed the popular veteran.

Upon his return to action, will Orton have the same kind of impact on this company as he has in the past, putting younger talent over while remaining a favorite to “strike” at any time? As a fan, Randy Orton has been underused as a performer this year.

Known for his ability to sell as both a fan favorite and top heel, Randy Orton is best when he gets heat from the fans. Like Rusev, Bray Wyatt and Brock Lesnar, it does not take away from the support he receives from WWE’s Universe.

There hasn’t been an official press release from WWE about Orton’s return, but he could be back in as little as two months, which could put him back on the road toward SummerSlam. Whether he remains part of the United States Title is also up in the air.

If WWE wants to maximize Orton’s strengths, they could shuffle the deck and move him over to Monday Night Raw, similar to Cena’s role as a free agent. Since the Universal Title picture is up in the air, with Brock Lesnar hiding with the title in tow, would Orton’s return to heel status be what is best for business?


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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