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Why WWE WrestleMania 34 Doesn’t Need Shane McMahon

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Cast your mind back to early 2016. Vince McMahon stood in the ring with daughter Stephanie as she went to receive the first ever Vince McMahon Legacy of Excellence award, when suddenly… HERE COMES THE MONEY! Shane O’ Mac was back! The prodigal son had finally come home, and it was such a fantastic moment because it was a genuine surprise which we see very few of these days.  It became clear almost straight away it was pretty much a given that he would be competing at WrestleMania that year considering the storyline of RAW v SDLive, and it was widely accepted by the fans who remembered his great feuds from back in the day, but unfortunately the reality has been something very different altogether.

What we were given just a few short months into his return was a quite horrible Hell in A Cell match against The Undertaker. It was boring, largely uneventful and just plain uninteresting aside from Shane’s inevitable trademark leap from the giant structure. It was an encounter which sadly failed to live up the substantial hype generated in the build-up, and it sadly just added even more fuel to the fire in terms of the ‘when will they let Taker retire?’ discussions. Taker deserved better than this.

Shane then actually managed to redeem himself by having a great feud and incredible match against AJ Styles. That really should’ve been it, going out on a high and all that, but WWE have a long history of not knowing when to quit. We were given yet another unnecessary feud, this time against Kevin Owens as retribution for KO’s disrespect for the McMahon family. Owens is one of the best performers in WWE today, but even he was unable to coax a good match out of Shane, and their Hell in A Cell encounter was average at best and once again saved by a predictable leap off the top of the cell, this time with Sami Zayn’s unexpected heel turn adding to the drama. The clever thing to do would have been move KO to RAW and have HHH seek the revenge instead as that could’ve led to a half decent match. But no, not while Shane is around with an ego to stroke.

As much as I dislike Shane I must take time to admit that he has been worth his weight in gold to the company since returning. The WWE Universe love nothing more than nostalgia, so every time Shane finds himself in another feud the fans inevitably get fully behind him. The matches themselves were poor, except for the Styles clash (pun intended), but I’ll give Shane credit where its due because he always has the other guy going over. He is the polar opposite of HHH, as much as he wants to be centre of attention he doesn’t do it at the expense of more talented guys and will happily do the honours. This raises one question though… if he isn’t going to win a major feud at some point, is his presence in the ring really needed at all? Styles, Owens, Zayn and Taker are all big enough to not need Shane to put them over, so we didn’t really gain anything from these programs.

While he may not be overshadowing the talent in the ring, the thing which bothers me the most is how much more deserving guys are losing spots to him in the first place. We’ve only recently seen pushes for the likes of Zayn and Rusev who should’ve been in much more lucrative positions over the last two years but have missed out on opportunities despite being on a show which openly prides itself on handing those out to anyone deserving. We are getting to a point now where we quite literally see more of Shane and Daniel Bryan on TV than we do of the WWE Champion AJ Styles, which is an absolute catastrophe.

You! Come back with my youth! I need to cling onto it!

The worrying thing is we know exactly what WWE are aiming towards in the long game, and it just doesn’t need to happen. The animosity between Shane and Bryan is quite clearly suggesting and teasing that a match will take place between them at Mania, and as much as we all want to see D-Bry back in action there are MUCH better opponents for him than Shane. A feud with KO makes sense considering the current storyline, as does the long-running rivalry with The Miz (hinted at again at RAW 25) coming full circle. Shane would do a huge disservice to Bryan, one of the most gifted technical wrestlers of his generation and would dampen the effect of the WWE Universe’s hero returning. To put it simply there is absolutely no need for him to compete at this year’s event.

That match is unfortunately the only one which makes sense for Shane to be a part of, but his feuds are having less and less appeal every time, so it would be hard to see how this would in any way deliver the fans expectations. The return of Bryan would be hands down the greatest WWE return of all time and should be treated as the most important match of the whole show, so a performer as talented as Bryan himself is the only way to go. The fact we have seen a lot less of Shane in recent weeks could be a good sign leading into Mania season and when you consider the potential strength of the card this time around it becomes even more clear that he just isn’t required anymore.

We already have AJ v Shinsuke Nakamura confirmed, Brock Lesnar v Roman Reigns guaranteed, Ronda Rousey likely entered into a Women’s Championship match, the potential for John Cena vs The Undertaker… does anyone really want to see a sad, ageing guy in a baseball jersey throwing poorly acted punches, getting tuckered out within 5 minutes and falling off tall things when we could have one more dream match on the card? With so many guys coming off the back of great 2017’s and even better starts to 2018, Shane’s spot could be going to a potential champion, a crowd favourite or someone capable of a 5 star match. We still have the likes of Braun Strowman, Elias, The Miz, Samoa Joe, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Baron Corbin and a whole host of amazing NXT talent who need something to do on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

Shane. We will forever be grateful for the memories and entertainment you have provided over the years, but its time to step aside. WrestleMania is bigger than you.


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Opinion

When Will The Roman Reigns Experiment End In WWE?

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Two weeks ago, Roman Reigns walked in to the Mercedes Benz Superdome and thought he would walk out of WrestleMania 34 as the new Universal Heavyweight Champion.

Brock Lesnar’s new deal with WWE ended those dreams as the current champion on Monday Night Raw destroyed the “Big Dog” and retained his title. Reigns gets another shot at glory at the Biggest Royal Rumble show in Saudi Arabia, but the chances of a different outcome may be slim of not possible at all. Still, WWE continues to push Reigns, a three-time WWE champion, as the future of the company. Watching him lose to Lesnar time after time hasn’t endeared him to the fans, who would still rather see a new performer atop the leaderboard.

WWE’s love affair with Roman Reigns must come to an end at some point, right? This isn’t a soap opera where you can stop watching for a year, come back and see the same storyline, is it? Apparently, Vince McMahon wants to get as much out of the Reigns as he can.

The main event picture on Monday nights got a little more crowded with the arrival of Bobby Lashley last week. Reigns, Lashley and Braun Strowman figure to be front and center on this carousel while Lesnar walks in and out of the company’s backdoor. The lure of WWE and UFC at the same time will leave the “Beast Incarnate” with deep pockets and decisions to make.

Having the Universal Champion on Monday nights showing off red gold would benefit everyone involved, including the man who has beaten The Undertaker and John Cena in the past year. If WWE wants to continue Reigns’ path as the new leader of the company, it must put the strap on his waist soon. Fans have become restless and disengaged. Strowman gets the biggest pops on television. Seth Rollins is the Intercontinental Champion and could elevate himself to the main event.

Lashley will have fan support any time he gets in the ring.

It’s a no-win situation for Reigns, who didn’t ask for this kind of response. Had he beaten Batista in the 2014 Royal Rumble, this might be a different story – the kind where fans cannot get enough of the former Shield member. 

I almost feel sorry for Reigns. A big, strong wrestler born into the business with a look of a champion. He falls victim to the social media age of this business and fan sensibilities that change from day to day. If Reigns had been a champion in the 1980s, he and Hulk Hogan would have torn down Madison Square Garden. If he had been part of the Attitude Era, no doubt Steve Austin, Triple H and The Rock would have come knocking on his door.

Had he been part of the NWA in the early 1980s, I would have loved to see him in matches with Barry Windham, Lex Lugar and Ric Flair. This is the hand he has been dealt. For that reason, he and the fans must live with it.

As long as McMahon is pushing the button, Reigns will be the center of attention. Lesnar may hold the belt now and there are rumors Bobby Lashley may soon take it from the current champ. But front and center on the mind of WWE’s “machine” is a way to finally get Reigns over as the champion of the red team and as a favorite with the steadfast fan base.

It’s a relationship that will continue to remain toxic as long as Reigns is pushed down fans’ throats.


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Opinion

The NXT North American Championship Is A Good Thing

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Chairshot Edit Adam Cole WWE
Pro Wrestling Wikia/Chairshot Edit

A few weeks ago William Regal announced that NXT would be unveiling a brand new championship at TakeOver: New Orleans. This lead to a six man ladder match to crown the first ever NXT North American Champion. A match I think we can all agree was excellent.

But the big question is though: Does NXT need another title?

Short Answer: Yes. Let me tell you why.

Now I know that a lot of people myself included like the clear structure of a TakeOver event. Just over 2 and a half hour show with just 5 matches allowing for more stories outside the title picture. This is good in theory but it doesn’t always work. In the past we’ve had the odd match on a Takeover that while great from an in ring standpoint in terms of story had no reason to exist.

Perfect example of this is Kassius Ohno vs Velveteen Dream from TakeOver: Philadelphia. Not a bad match by any means but the story behind hit felt rushed because they need another match to fill the card. The North American title has already partly taken care of this problem as the ladder match had a clear story behind it. Each man involved wanted the right to be known as the first champion.

Now look at the first ever NXT North American Champion: Adam Cole Bay Bay!

Since picking up the win for his team at War Games, Cole hadn’t won many big matches and was in danger of losing his appeal. Looking back he was the perfect guy to win it because he can lord over everyone like the cocky heel that he plays so well. His title win along with the inclusion of Roderick Strong into the Undisputed Era they once again feel like a dominant faction. Honestly they haven’t felt this hot since their debut.

Cole isn’t one who’s been made to feel big by the belt, who watching the ladder match didn’t feel like anyone in that match could have won? If you said you didn’t you’re a liar. He’s already defended his title at Mania Axxess against Akira Tozawa and is set to defend it on next weeks NXT against Oney Lorcan.

Which brings up my next point: more championships means more opportunities.

NXT’s roster is larger than most people realize. There are a lot of people who only work live events and have to wait months to get on TV. Even when they do it’s mostly to get squashed by someone.

Oney Lorcan despite being a very talent worker and over with Full Sail crowd has unfortunately fallen into the role of jobber to the stars. This match with Adam Cole is his first real shot at a championship in NXT. Hopefully this means that more talent in NXT like Lorcan who don’t get a lot of TV time get an opportunity.

You know most of them won’t win but if they can put on a great match they can get over in defeat. Similar to John Cena’s US open challenge. You knew he won’t lose to Zack Ryder or Stardust but he still put on a really good match with them.

The North American title has already given us great matches with the ladder match even getting the full 5 stars from Dave Meltzer (our own Andrew Balaz gave the match 3.5 stars). WWE matches don’t get those very often.

Finally as I said the NXT roster is quite vast meaning not everyone can win the top title. Before the North American title you had guys like Strong & Ohno wondering around the mid card aimlessly because if they weren’t going to win the title there wasn’t much else for them to do. Having a secondary belt gives certain superstars purpose. Instead of making Ohno a glorified jobber have him challenge for the North American title.

It’s also a great proving opportunity for certain stars. Stars who a little younger or they’re not sure if they’re ready for the main title have them win the North American Title and see what they do with it.

They’re way of saying “Here’s an opportunity, sink or swim with it”. It’s for this exact reason I was sure Velveteen Dream was going to win it. He’s incredibly over put maybe too young for the main title. In essence it could become what the Intercontinental Title use to back in the day. The up incoming guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and even The Rock got at least one run with the IC title before they were ready to become World champion.

You have to think this partly Triple H had in mind for this title as it’s an old school concept and he clearly loves old school wrestling. You can tell with NXT’s old territory set up and the design of the North American title itself.

With all that it’s hard to see how the NXT North American Championship can’t be a success. I see it possibly being on par if not bigger than the NXT Championship.


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Opinion

Bray Wyatt Has Found His Niche With Woken Matt Hardy

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Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt

Matt Hardy is sharing his Woken wisdom with the world. The first man to fully accept that wisdom is Bray Wyatt and the two men are now a tag team in WWE. Many fans saw this coming, as Wyatt’s character had peaked for the most part. There was only so much ground WWE could cover with him in his Eater of Worlds persona.

It was indeed time for a change and Hardy facilitated that change. Now the two men are sharing the same air without trying to destroy each other, which seemed to be their fate. Like Undertaker and Mankind, Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt seemed destined to feud forever. But they are much better as a team.

That was perhaps not what fans expected. Though the signs of a potential partnership were there, no one could have predicted just how well they would mesh together. Fans watched them fight for so long that any union between them could have fallen flat.

But they are clicking together quite nicely at this point. Their personalities compliment each other and they have a great chemistry together. Wyatt has slid into the No.2 spot, which is a change of pace for him. He was always the man at the head of The Wyatt Family. He was always the one pulling the strings.

Therein lays the disbelief among many fans when it comes to this new team. Wyatt spent his entire WWE career as a heel. There was never any reason for anyone to trust him, because he was always playing mind games with everyone around him. He had no history as a babyface and he never really crossed into that area at any time during his run. He always had an agenda and that agenda was usually trouble for whoever crossed him.

Then there’s the fact that he was such a twisted soul. Bray Wyatt was never really hated like other heels around him, but he was booed. At his best Wyatt was creepy and sometimes even frightening. At his worst, he was a babbling madman. Somewhere in the middle, he found his niche.

The WWE faithful often didn’t understand what he was talking about but they knew it was psychological. Wyatt often seemed to talk above everyone’s head, as if he was already three steps in front of them. Fans took what they wantd from his promos and though the point wasn’t always clear, the intent was. Bray Wyatt wanted to be worshipped. He needed to be.

His character’s existence needed validation. The only way he could get that was by controlling others and making them need him. They were subservient to him and he led the way. Wyatt’s opponents wanted to shut him down but they were being played as well. Bray thrived on funhouse horror and expected everyone else to live that life with him. In that world, only he stood at the top.

So when fans now see him alongside Matt Hardy, they immediately have doubts. How could such a megalomaniacal figure like Bray Wyatt actually step aside and give control of his fate to a man that was beneath him? Wyatt did try to destroy Hardy and was convinced that he could do it. How could one brawl completely change his mind and indeed his very essence? Is that even possible?

In the world of WWE, Bray Wyatt is Marvel’s Loki. Like his comic book counterpart, Bray is devilish and conniving, always ready to use others for his own personal gain. He is a trickster, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a man that wants to slide in and take whatever he wants before anyone knows he was there.

Neither man is concerned with obliterating everything around them; they would much rather rule it all. Complete power is intoxicating and both men are indeed addicted to it. Loki has betrayed his brother Thor numerous times in order to get that kind of power. Is it only a matter of time until Bray Wyatt betrays Matt Hardy for the same reason?

The biggest problem with that theory is fans just saw it happen. Randy Orton once followed Bray and then turned on him. It was obvious from the start that Orton was up to something; he’s called The Viper for a reason. But no matter how many times it seemed as if Randy would leave Bray, he stayed. He even began to fit. Suddenly Randy Orton looked like he belonged with Bray Wyatt. Fans accepted it. But as soon as everyone relaxed, Orton made his move.

This could happen again of course. Wyatt could betray Hardy and leave him for dead in the middle of the ring. He could even take control of SAniTy and possibly even remake them in his own image. Many fans believe that would work and it quite possibly could. But is that the right move for Bray Wyatt?

Right now he and Matt Hardy are just getting started. Some guys are better enemies than friends but that just doesn’t apply to this situation. Hardy and Wyatt have gone to war many times before. Fans have seen that. It was fun and it worked for them. But it was time for something new. The same is definitely true for Wyatt.

Bray needed a change. He may have the same look and he may have the same move-set in the ring but he has evolved. Wyatt reached his apex and needed to do something fresh in order to keep moving forward. That’s exactly what he’s done now. Wyatt was a compelling heel but he can be a dynamic character babyface. This is what he perhaps should have been all along.

Matt and Bray are not The Hardy Boyz. They’re also not The Wyatt Family. These two Superstars are something more, something different. Hardy revitalized his pro wrestling career with his Broken and Woken personas. Bray Wyatt is now doing the same. The time for twists and turns may come. But now the time is right for this duo. Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt are bizarrely fun together and that fun is just beginning.


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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