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Power Rankings: WWE NXT

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With the all of the action from NXT Takeover War Games there was a lot of moving pieces to try and sort through. A new men’s and women’s champion as well as the first War Games match in 19 years, that many feel was the best War Games match since the early days of the gimmick. So just to remind everyone, Power Rankings assesses not only championship accolades and main event status, but over all reception among fans, internet buzz, merchandise sales and who the perceived draws of the brand really are.

So with the criteria gone over again, let’s get to the list.

5. Johnny Gargano

Johnny Wrestling had a lot of momentum coming out of the DIY break up a few months ago, but has been haunted by one loss after the other. He finally seems to be getting some momentum on his side after a very impressive win over Kassius Ohno. This leads up to a number one contender’s match, and possibly a chance to avenge an earlier loss to Andrade “Cien” Almas. Still a very over babyface, Gargano’s finally getting a push to validate his fan reaction.

4. The Iconic Duo

The only pure heels left in the NXT Women’s Divison, as well as, two of the most over women in the company. Peyton Royce had more fan support going into the Fatal 4 Way at War Games but sadly fell to Ember Moon. Billie Kay has sadly been relegated to side kick lately for the duo, but together they are still a competent heel team that finds a way to get it done, more often than not.

WWE NXT Aleister Black
3. Aleister Black

The undefeated Dutch Assassin got a huge win over Velveteen Dream. This was the best story going into War Games and it finally allowed the audience to get a small glimpse at Black’s personality aside from just his striking ability. He’s a bit overdue for a shot at the NXT Title since he’s been undefeated since March 8th, where he beat the current NXT champion. So 9 months of victories, something has to break sooner or later.


2. Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega

I mean this is the fabled tale of heel acquires beautiful valet/manager and wins the main Championship. Zelina added a flair to Andrade that he was lacking, on top of the fact she can cut an English promo, whereas he really can’t. She’s managed to reign in his Ingobernable attitude and get him to focus on winning. He’s got a great look and move set, she’s great looking and easily a candidate for Best Manager of the Year if there was one. Enjoy El Idolo and tranquillo.

WWE NXT Bobby Fish Adam Cole Kyle O'Reilly
1. The Undisputed Era

“Indy Darlings”, winners of the first War Games match, Adam Cole is around the NXT Title scene as well as reDragon staking a claim at the NXT Tag Championship. Their limited time in NXT doesn’t matter since their reputation precedes them. All of these men have numerous accolades in ROH and New Japan, Adam Cole has revived from the dead, while Fish and O’Reily have done some decent work to prove they can hang with the major tag teams. Their NXT accomplishments don’t exactly translate to them being number 1, but the are all positioned well and most of the hardcore fanbase knows what they are about, and they are immensely over. So the top seed may not be undisputed…but it’s hard to argue.

Leading into Takeover: Philadelphia it should be interesting to see how accurate this list stays and exactly who creeps up into the top 5 after the pay per view event. Also since the assumption is that Shayna Baszler will debut soon, that should be interesting to see what the addition of such a vicious heel will do to the Women’s Division.


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Brock Lesnar Creates the Kind of Chaos WWE Does Not Need

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Here we go again. The main event scene on Monday Night Raw has once again become even more disturbing with the addition of Brock Lesnar.

The former Universal Heavyweight Champion entered the main event at Hell in a Cell, taking down both the current champion Roman Reigns and Braun Strowman in a  sad but predictable ending to a decent pay-per-view.

WWE cannot seem to get out of its own way in deciding what to do with the red brand’s title. Or, maybe it’s Lesnar who is holding the marionette strings of a company that has not moved on from the Beast Incarnate to forge a new identity of main event stars. The Hell in a Cell match between Reigns and Strowman was muddled with the arrival of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as it was.

Adding Lesnar to the chaos and disorder creates more problems than solutions for the creative team, Reigns and the title he wears around his waist.

The thought was once Reigns beat Lesnar to claim the belt, it would be the end of the line for the WWE and UFC star, who has made no secret he wants to dominate the octagon once again. It also opened the door for Reigns to finally assume his role as Vince McMahon’s master plan of having the current Shield Member and four-time champion to step over Lesnar, John Cena and anyone else in his path as the company’s new face.

I’m sure WWE’s fans have finally succumbed to the notion Reigns isn’t going anywhere. To steal a phrase from Ric Flair, “Whether you like it or don’t like it, learn to love it…”

You get the idea.

So now, WWE has a three-headed monster fighting over the same belt it did only months ago with no end in sight. The notion of McIntyre stepping forward as the next opponent for Reigns looks to be squashed. Lesnar’s contract, demands and lack of airtime while wearing the Universal Title finally pissed the fanbase off. Does putting the strap back around his waist make sense?

Now that Strowman has become an ally of Ziggler and McIntyre, how does this all play out? Does anyone care? Is the best thing to come out of the Hell in a Cell match is the return of Paul Heyman? It’s still a tangled web WWE weaves with no ending point. It’s status quo for poor booking.

It appears to be the norm, not the exception. We all just learn to deal with it, mainly because change does not seem to be a good thing in this promotion.


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WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships?

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I don’t want this title to be misleading. I’m not trying to break news or spread a rumor. This is just something I’ve noticed over the past several months.

As we all know, WWE’s first all-female pay-per-view, Evolution, is set to take place in October.  In addition to the finals of the Mae Young Classic, an NXT Women’s Championship match is supposed to take place. Alexa Bliss vs. Trish Stratus has also been announced.

We know a lot of talent is supposed to be present but we haven’t heard much in terms of scheduled matches. This is one of the reasons I think we could see the debut of women’s tag team titles.

Over the summer, WWE has been pairing up a lot of the women on their roster. Take Sasha Banks and Bayley for example. Many of us thought that was leading to a blood feud that was going to culminate at SummerSlam or Hell in a Cell.  But nothing happened. They made up and have been working tag matches together ever since. We’ve also seen the return of The Bella Twins who have been appearing on both Raw and SmackDown.

Teams like The IIconics and The Riott Squad were already present but let’s look at the rest of the roster. When Paige left Absolution, Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose continued to make appearances as a team. Ronda Rousey and Natalya have been in each other’s corner all summer. Alexa Bliss used to only be accompanied by Mickie James but now Alicia Fox has joined their stable. As previously stated, Alexa is supposed to wrestle with Trish so Mickie and Alicia can still partner together.

The same is occurring over on SmackDown Live. Naomi was feuding with both Peyton Royce and Billie Kay but Asuka has very recently joined forces with her. They even had a tag match against The IIconics on Tuesday.

On Raw the only women left without a team are Nia Jax, Ember Moon, and Dana Brooke. Carmella, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte are the only lone women on SmackDown Live. Zelina Vega and Lana are attached to their male associates so I don’t expect them to be paired with another female talent in the near future. Carmella’s partnership with R-Truth isn’t as permanent and Tamina is still on the shelf with an injury. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a mini Welcoming Committee reunion upon Tamina’s return.

Again, this is all just personal speculation. I turn a blind eye to dirt sheets and leaked event cards so you may know more than I do on this subject. This is just something I’ve picked up on from watching the product. It may be my imagination but there were too many signs for me to ignore.


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Dear Smarks, The Saudi Arabia Show Has Nothing to Do With Evolution!

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It’s that time of year again. WWE is getting ready to go to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a Network Special, and once again, the wrestling PC Police are up in arms about it. The rallying cry this time is about how AWFUL it is that WWE is doing a show in Saudi Arabia, where the Women’s Division isn’t allowed to compete, just days after the first all women’s PPV. Obviously, this is a blatant attempt by WWE to undermine the Women’s Evolution by doing this and that WWE should be ashamed to take ‘blood money’ from Saudi Arabia.

There’s so much wrong with this argument, I’m not sure where to start. First of all, the scheduling of the Crown Jewel for November 2 would’ve happened if WWE had put No Mercy on instead of Evolution. The scheduling for both events was done long before either was formally announced.  Secondly, as I have stated before, WWE goes to the Middle East as part of their bi-annual overseas tour every year and have done so for decades, and every time, except for the match in Abu Dabai, the women have never gone on that leg of the tour because they weren’t allowed to compete. This wasn’t a secret, but no one cared until after the deal with Saudi Arabia was announced and Banks and Bliss had their history making match in Abu Dhabi.

Here’s a question: How is doing TWO shows a year in Saudi Arabia undermining the Women’s Division? Seriously. Do you HONESTLY, truly and honestly, think WWE is going to spend three years building the Women’s Division, putting on two all-Women’s tournaments, doing the first Women’s Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and WrestleMania Battle Royal, while secretly plotting to undermine it by doing two glorified house shows in a country where women are banned from participating in sports?

As for the ‘blood money’, oh where do I start? What brand of shoes do you have on? What brand of clothing are you wearing? Or your phone? Chances are pretty good that your clothes, shoes, and/or your phone, was made in an overseas factory by workers who get pay a very small amount and often work long hours in terrible conditions. Yet, companies stock these products and not a word is said about the business deals being ‘blood money’.

Before anyone starts about Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations, let me point out that Australia, site of the Super Show-Down and China, which will be getting it’s own Network Special, BOTH  have their own recent histories of human rights violations. Australia has been HEAVILY criticized for its treatment of migrants and refugees, many of whom are from predominately Muslim countries, as well as the continued mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples. China’s list of human rights violations is a pretty lengthy one, but they have also recent come under fire for its persecution of a Muslim minority, and yet, no one has complained about WWE doing shows there. No one has made nearly the same amount of noise about ‘blood money’. So why is Saudi Arabia unacceptable while Australia and China are acceptable?

The bottom line is that WWE is a business, not the United States Government, or the United Nations. The deal with Saudi Arabia is a business deal that gives fans in the Middle East a chance to see a WWE show without having to stay up to the crack of dawn.

If the idea of WWE doing TWO shows a year without the women present bothers you that much, don’t watch it and focus that energy on supporting women’s wrestling and women’s causes where you live. Cheer when the women’s matches are on instead of going to the bathroom or changing the channel, watch the Mae Young Classic (it’s great, I promise), plan to watch Evolution, buy merchandise to support the female superstars. The Women’s Evolution is bigger than two house shows in Saudi Arabia, don’t diminish it by making that the end all-be all.


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