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Top 5: Matches of the Week Ending 1/21/18

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Last week was dominated by tag team matches, the writers and podcasters have made their opinions known. Joining Alpha vs Omega, will be, reDragon vs Aleister Black & Roderick Strong. This week’s matches are a little bit better overall quality, and easy to watch for the average wrestling fan.

Now let’s get to the part that everyone cares about:

5. Impact: Barbed Wire Massacre 3: LAX vs oVe

The proverbial blow off match between these two teams. After spending the better portion of the last 6 months being the only two tag teams in Impact Wrestling they had almost every kind of match you can think of. Prompted by a combination of oVe losing the belts to LAX a few weeks ago, oVe raiding the LAX clubhouse and Sami Callihan throwing a fireball in Konnan’s face…violence was bound to ensue.

Deemed “Too Violent for TV”, this was Impact’s first match broadcasted on their Twitch channel. So given that moniker you would expect a bloodbath, well, and the fact the ropes were replaced with barbed wire. However, this match started off rather tame and spots into the barbed wire seemed very soft and ill timed.

Eventually the match picked up, and there were a few decent spots, at one point Jake Crist got wrapped up in the barbed wire ropes and sandwiched with a barbed wire board. The blood never really became a thing, but the ending spot was actually pretty good. Callihan spread Santana across two tables, Dave Crist was climbing a ladder ready to drive him through, Konnan slides in, lays out Sami with a barbed wire bat, which gives Santana the opportunity to climb the ladder trade a few blows, then sticks Dave Crist with a handful of wooden skewers in his forehead (shades of Masada) and Superplexes Dave Crist through the two tables for the pinfall victory.

Was it as good as the hype made it out to be? No, not even close. But it was still a decent enough match, and the free Twitch aspect and the fact they later loaded it onto Youtube, makes it easy to access and could generate some buzz for a company that seems to be trying a lot just to regain relevance.

Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)

 

4. Raw: Nia Jax vs Asuka

Now I usually don’t put more than one Raw match on these lists, but that’s also because usually there’s only one match that isn’t terribly mediocre. This match was surprising for many reasons, but primarily the fact that both women did their thing and work well together.

This was a better match than what we got in NXT, and that’s probably thanks to Nia having a bit more experience under her belt. We saw some nice back and forth, with Nia actually using her size well causing issues for Asuka. Now the reason this isn’t ranked higher is just because the ending was awkward and pretty terrible.

Aside from the obvious of it was an ending to protect both wrestlers, it was a finish that didn’t make sense for Asuka’s character. Sure, Nia showed resolve by limping back in to beat the 10 count, but Asuka is known to be a crazy and aggressive wrestler. So given what we know, her laying on the ropes and watching Nia get up and fall down 3 times isn’t something she’d do. We’ve seen her exploit injuries in the past and go after people when they show weakness because her goal is purely to win.

So regardless of the ending endearing Nia to the crowd, it made Asuka look gassed and like the injury saved her streak. Which isn’t really something you want to be doing with a character you’re building as a buzzsaw.

Ranking: *** (Gold V)

 

3. Smackdown Live: Bobby Roode vs Mojo Rawley

Now, I didn’t expect to have a Mojo Rawley match on my list…well…ever. But this match was easily the best of the US Championship Tournament and actually did well in making Rawley look like an up and coming heel.

Mojo was aggressive, landed big body shots and even injured Roode’s ribs, which played into the rest of this match, as well as the main event with Jinder later in the night. Mojo was written off, and honestly we got the finals everyone expected (Roode vs Jinder), but if they can maintain this direction with Mojo, we could see the rise of a solid heel.

Nothing more to really say beyond, if you didn’t see it, watch it. Between his Twitter promos and his last few matches, we might be seeing the beginnings of something special.

Rating: *** 1/4 (Gold IV)

 

2. NWA: Empty Arena Match: Tim Storm vs Jocephus

Okay, I’ll be THAT guy; this match had no business being as good as it was. If you’ve watched the, “Ten Pounds of Gold” series on YouTube, and the subsequent matches Storm had when he was champion, you’d realize those weren’t that good.

Storm came out of the gates hot and dominated the better portion of this match. His smack talk was much better than whatever the announce team was trying to add, and the level of hatred was palpable through the screen. Even though it was a hardcore match for all intents and purposes, it had an old school vibe, most likely because the malice was more believable in this match, than most I’ve seen in the last 20 years.

The call backs were good in this match, even going as far as Storm finding a container of salve and was about to put some on his fingers and jam them into his eyes saying something to the effect of ” let’s remove 100% of your vision”, before Jocephus hits a desperation low blow, and then another. It was at this point the match shifted and Storm was never really able to recover. The ending could be considered a callback also since Jocephus used the ladder to injure Storm so Nick Aldis could beat him easily for the belt, and the finish was Storm going from the apron, through a ladder propped between the apron and barricade for Jocephus to pick up the pinfall.

Now I’m pretty sure this match had Tim Storm’s rematch on the line, so Jocephus getting a shot at Nick Aldis should be interesting with the new addition of the Spiritual Adviser and Austin Idol, respectively. Either way, if that match is more of a brawl and less of a match, it might actually be something to watch.

Ranking: *** 1/2 (Gold III)

 

1. Raw: Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins

It’s very few and far between that either of these two put on a bad match. Storyline nuances may have given this match that extra little bit to pop it into the Platinum territory for me.

Since these two have history with the first ever Universal Title match, it adds a nice level meaning to every move. We also have the nice aspect that they use a few similar moves, so we can see counters to something like a Slingblade, which we usually wouldn’t get unless watching NJPW. So the chess game of when to pull the trigger on certain moves was a very nice change from the usual formulaic WWE match.

The interesting nuance is the fact that Jason Jordan interferes by tripping Finn Balor, thus, setting him up perfectly for the Curb Stomp/Blackout. That’s interesting not because Rollins pulls off the Curb Stomp, but because Rollins didn’t hesitate in taking advantage of obvious cheating. This could mean that Jordan is trying to sway Rollins towards being a heel again, or if we get the cop out of “Rollins thought Finn tripped”, that’s just dumb.

So with Jordan slowly doing more heelish things, and Rollins going from admonishing him to rolling with it…makes this probably the most interesting story on Raw.

Ranking: **** (Platinum V)

 

Alrighty then, now I have to do that whole thing where I choose one of the Top 5 as my pick for match of the week. So I’m figuring that Rollins vs Balor will win the week, but I’m gonna vote for, Tim Storm vs Jocephus NWA. That one gets my vote mainly because it was such a surprise. The quality was pretty good, the story telling, the psychology, everything that makes wrestling “wrestling” was present in this match.

That does it for this week’s matches. Go home, get drunk, watch whatever you missed.


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Opinion

King: Top 5 Championship Matches in WWE Royal Rumble History

Chris King looks at the best championship matches that have taken place at a WWE Royal Rumble event!

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2020 WWE Royal Rumble

Chris King looks at the best championship matches that have taken place at a WWE Royal Rumble event!

I have gone back in time to reflect over Royal Rumble’s over the last decade. From 2012 to 2022 the WWE Universe bared witness to some amazing matches including AJ Styles defending his WWE Championship against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, The Rock defeating CM Punk and ending his historic championship reign, and even the ‘Beast Incarnate’ Brock Lesnar successfully defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena & Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins in a classic triple-threat match.

Here are the top five championship matches at the Royal Rumble over the last decade.

Honorable mentions:

  • Brock Lesnar VS. Finn Balor (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2019
  • Brock Lesnar VS. Kane VS. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2017
  • Randy Orton VS. John Cena WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Royal Rumble 2014)
  • Daniel Bryan VS. AJ Styles (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2019

Top 5 Royal Rumble Championship Matches 

5. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2017

In August of 2016, the WWE Universe was shocked when Triple H turned on his former protege Seth Rollins and essentially handed the Universal Championship to Kevin Owens in a crazy fatal-four-way match. Over the next few months, Owens and Chris Jericho would become best friends and true enemies of Rollins and former Shield-mate Roman Reigns. After Reigns was screwed out of the title at Roadblock they would deliver a Shield bomb through the announce table to Owens.

Reigns and Owens would battle again at the Royal Rumble this time, Jericho would be locked inside of a shark cage to prevent interference. Both superstars delivered an impressive performance and threw out everything to defeat one another. Reigns was minutes away from winning the Universal Championship until Braun Strowman obliterated him, which allowed Owens the conniving champion to keep his title.

4. CM Punk vs. The Rock (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2013

The self-proclaimed ‘Best in the World’ CM Punk was on a complete tear going through the roster successfully holding the title for a historic 434 days. At Raw 1000, The Rock came back and challenged whoever was the champion at the time to a WWE Championship match at Royal Rumble. Later in the night, Punk would turn heel attacking ‘The People’s Champion’ and aligning himself with Paul Heyman shortly afterwards.

The Shield would work as mercenaries for Punk to retain his title since the 2012 Survivor Series where they debuted. Vince McMahon informed Punk that if The Shield got involved in the championship match he would be stripped of the title. After twenty minutes of back and forth action between champion and challenger, the lights went out and The Shield interfered yet again. McMahon came out to strip Punk of his championship but, The Rock had other plans and the match was restarted. The People’s Champion would deliver the People’s Elbow to end the historic reign of Punk.

3.  Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2022

‘The Head of the Table’ Roman Reigns had conquered all of his challengers on Friday Night SmackDown, so a handpicked wild card was chosen from Monday Night Raw to challenge for the Universal Championship. Enter Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins. The two former Shield-mates had faced each other in the past but, this time felt different. Reigns was the arrogant and cocky heel while Rollins portrayed more of a tweener character. Rollins mocked the champion’s historic title reign and infuriated Reigns the go-home episode of SmackDown.

The Universal Championship match was the first match to open the show to a white-hot crowd. Reigns made his long grand entrance waiting for his challenger until a familiar theme erupted throughout the WWE Universe. Rollins not only mocked The Shield’s old entrance through the crowd but, was also decked in full Shield attire which pissed off the champion.

I feel like it’s impossible for these two superstars to have a bad match. They have incredible chemistry whether as partners or rivals. Reigns locked in his challenger with the Guillotine Choke but Rollins made it to the ropes. The Tribal Chief was relentless and would not break the hold so Rollins won by disqualification.

2. AJ Styles vs. John Cena (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2017

Let me start of by saying this was a very difficult choice to make because I went back and forth on making this number one. ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles shocked the world in 2016 not only for turning heel on John Cena but, beating him at Money in the Bank via shenanigans and SummerSlam completely clean in the middle of the ring. Styles went on to have an incredible run as WWE Champion over on SmackDown Live.

Cena went off and did his own thing after a devastating loss to his rival but, came back returned in time to challenge for the title to not only become a sixteen-time champion but to tie the illustrious record held by Ric Flair. Both superstars used every maneuver in their arsenal to win the match, but it came down to the final sequence to understand where Cena’s passion lies. Mr. Never Give Up hit the Attitude Adjustment and deadlifted Styles to deliver another thunderous AA to become the sixteen-time WWE Champion. What a freaking match!

1. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (WWE World Heavyweight Championship): Royal Rumble 2015

Even though the match before was tieing the legendary Ric Flair’s championship record, I still can say with full confidence that this triple threat match is one of the best matches in Royal Rumble history. Brock Lesnar had an impressive 2014 starting off with ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, and then obliterating John Cena at SummerSlam to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

At Night of Champions Cena was minutes away from winning the title and defeating ‘The Beast Incarnate’ until the arrogant Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins caused a disqualification. Leading up to the Royal Rumble, Cena and Rollins would face off in a tables match at the TLC pay-per-view, while Lesnar vanished. A huge triple threat match was set for the 2015 Royal Rumble pitting all three superstars against each other. Rollins who was still holding the briefcase bragged about if he didn’t win the title with Plan A, he would just cash-in and become the champion with Plan B.

From the moment the bell rang, the action began between Cena and Lesnar. Rollins played the manipulative cocky heel picking his moments to strike. Rollins and Cena took out The Beast on the outside to make it one-on-one. Lesnar was stretchered out of the match but miraculously came back and displayed his freakish strength taking anyone who moved to Suplex City. Rollins hit the champion twice with his briefcase and set up for the Curb Stomp. Lesnar bounced up and delivered a thunderous F5 to retain in a fantastic match.

I love this match so much because it was the first time that I believed Lesnar can deliver a great match and good story when he wants to. We’ve experienced this in his matches against AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and even Finn Balor. The Beast is a very smart performer and knows how to sell for his opponents to make them look like a megastar.

There you have it, those are my top five championship matches at Royal Rumble. Let me know what you think!


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Greg DeMarco’s Top 5: WWE WrestleMania 39 Opponents For Roman Reigns Not Named The Rock

The Road to The Royal Rumble is here, which means we will soon have an opponent for The Tribal Chief! Greg DeMarco explores potential candidates…

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Roman Reigns Seth Rollins WWE WrestleMania 39

The Road to The Royal Rumble is here, which means we will soon have an opponent for The Tribal Chief! Greg DeMarco explores potential candidates…

Daddy’s back with something for you that is meant to be fun–and a distraction from the news surrounding Vince McMahon’s (likely terrible) return to WWE. Being a fan is meant to be fun, and one of the most fun things we get to do is look ahead to WrestleMania.

The main question, for this article at least, is who will be Roman Reigns’ opponent at The Granddaddy Of ‘Em All? Now everyone wants it to be The Rock, so we will explore the alternatives to that match.

In order to do that, I am making the following assumptions, even if some might not be true in the end:

  • Roman Reigns only wrestles one match, the final match on Night 2.
  • Roman Reigns is defending both the WWE and the Universal Championships in that match.
  • Roman Reigns–and this is just purely me–is not losing.

Honorable Mentions

I did have a few ideas who simply didn’t make the list. Check ’em out:

  • Drew McIntyre – Simply put: Why? Why would we put Drew McIntyre against Roman Reigns in a football stadium when we just saw him against Reigns in a football futbol stadium last fall?
  • Kevin Owens – Similarly, why would we do this right after we do it at the Royal Rumble?
  • Karrion Kross – Ok, now I’m just trolling you. He ain’t the guy, brother–not with this gimmick.
  • Ricochet – Personally, as an underdog babyface against Roman Reigns, I love Ricochet winning the Royal Rumble and challenging The Tribal Chief. But we have a better underdog on the list already.

With that all out of the way, it’s time to have some fun. I give you…

My Top 5 WWE WrestleMania 39 Opponents For Roman Reigns Not Named The Rock

5. Sami Zayn

The bloom is off the rose for Sami Zayn, at least in the eyes of The Tribal Chief. The eventual turn is one of the most telegraphed things in recent memory, and in this instance that is perfectly fine. Sami Zayn is insanely over, and him fighting the uphill battle with The Bloodline would get him Daniel-Bryan-Danielson-at-WrestleMania-30 levels of heat along the way.

People love Sami Zayn. His awkward charm and seemingly unlimited charisma won over the audience so well that his storyline with The Bloodline had to get extended multiple times over. However, it’s obviously coming to an end.

The obvious match is Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn against The Usos, but you could also slot Kevin against Solo Sikoa if Sami were to indeed get the nod.

4. Bron Breakker

You probably think I’m crazy, and I totally get it. Bron Breakker comes from NXT and goes right to the WrestleMania main event?

If you want to create a new star in Bron Breakker, this is how you do it. (At least, it’s one way you can do it.) Look at Roman Reigns himself–part of the story of his WrestleMania 31 challenge of Brock Lesnar was that he was growing into the role. JBL told the story on commentary, and the match was all about Roman ascending to the level of Brock.

Of course it was all the perfect set-up for Seth Rollins to give us the greatest Money In The Bank cash-in in WWE history, but in the process Roman proved that he belongs.

So make this year’s Royal Rumble the ultimate opportunity–the most shocking winner since Rey Mysterio, the NXT Champion Bron Breakker.

3. Seth (Freakin’) Rollins

Seth Rollins seems to be in a never ending program with Austin Theory, and it’s time to move on. Seth is an automatic main eventer in WWE at this point. He’s a made man, probably the next biggest star (on the men’s side) in WWE after Roman Reigns.

And he also has a very specific distinction that no one else has: a singles victory over Roman Reigns since he made his huge return in 2020. Yes, it was by disqualification, but he has proven his abilities to get inside the head of the Tribal Chief.

And Seth Rollins is going to have a match at WrestleMania, and 50,000+ in Sofi Stadium are going to be singing his song. Might as well be in the match that closes WrestleMania Night 2.

2. Sheamus

This is purely a match on my playlist–but this is MY list. And to me, Sheamus makes perfect sense.

In fact, I thought the feud between The Bloodline and The Brawling Brutes would lead to Sheamus challenging Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. And had Sami Zayn’s involvement in The Bloodline not taken off the way it did, we still may have.

Sheamus is more popular now than ever, and at 44 years of age he is doing some of his best work. Sheamus winning his second Royal Rumble and challenging Roman Reigns would be the Lifetime Achievement Award he deserves.

But it’s more than that! The match? It would deliver in a big way. History? There’s plenty between Sheamus and Roman, going back to when Sheamus cashed in Money In The Bank on Reigns, and when Reigns eventually beat The Celtic Warrior to win one of his world championships. The fans? They would be solidly behind Sheamus, and would go nuts for every near fall. Don’t sleep on Sheamus as your WrestleMania 39 main event opponent for Roman Reigns.

1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Full credit for this idea belongs to PC Tunney and Dave Ungar, as shared in the Chairshot Radio Twitter DM thread. And it’s steal-worthy indeed.

Three major legendary names are rumored for WrestleMania 39: The Rock, John Cena, and Steve Austin. All three make sense for a multitude of reasons. But The Rock will be launching a football league (which might be a reason to do this–the publicity), and is still in insane demand in Hollywood. Cena seems to be free at the present time, and we’ve seen the videos of Austin working out.

Remember, I am assuming Roman Reigns is going to win. If that’s the case, then this WrestleMania is but another moment in Reigns’ legacy. Why not add Steve Austin to his list of victories?

It would sell. ✅
The fans would buy it. ✅
Austin proved he can go. ✅

This type of match is what WrestleMania is all about. If it’s not The Rock, it should be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

And there you have it, my list of–

Wait a minute Greg, what about Cody Rhodes?!?!

Man, I thought I could slip this one past the goalie!

Cody Rhodes is a great question. But you have to look at my assumptions above. I am assuming Roman only wrestles one match, defends both championships, and–most importantly–doesn’t lose. Given those assumptions, you want Cody Rhodes as far away from this match as possible.

If we do split the titles, then Cody needs to be the guy to walk away with the WWE Championship. He does that either over Seth Rollins, or in a triple threat on Night 1 against Reigns and Rollins–but Rollins still eats the fall.

But under my conditions, losing at WrestleMania doesn’t do anything for Cody.


What do you think? Let me know on social media!

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Until next time, remember: enjoying wrestling is a choice…make the right choice!


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