What I’m about to say, I say with a heavy heart. I don’t want to say it, but I will: Guys, it’s time to let Undertaker go.
Now, before you all get the pitchforks sharpened and the torches lit, let me say this: I have been an Undertaker fan since I was eight. I still remember being terrified of that huge man in the black hat who beat up all the good guys and didn’t break a sweat. I remember the good years and the bad years, but it’s time all of us Creatures of the Night accept that our hero hung his boots up last year and isn’t coming back.
As much as many of us probably don’t want to admit it, WWE has been preparing us for Taker’s retirement for several years; at least since his feud with Triple H after the retirement of Shawn Michaels. The ‘End of an Era’ match seemed to herald the end of Undertaker’s career, when it actually heralded Shawn’s departure and Triple H taking a more backstage role in the company.
Then there was the end of the Streak at WrestleMania 30, which seemed to be not only the end of the Streak, but the end of Taker’s career, but he came back a year later to face Bray Wyatt, then Brock Lesnar, then Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family. In 2016, Vince said outright that if Taker couldn’t beat Shane in Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania, his WrestleMania career(and his actual career, given that he’d only been working WrestleManias for a few years) would be over. Vince has been warning us for at least four years that Taker’s career was winding down and that he’d soon be riding off into the sunset of a well-earned retirement.
Then, last year, the big moment came. Vince gave us Undertaker vs Roman Reigns, the passing of the deed to the yard from the original Big Dog to the new Big Dog. Let’s be honest, that match was brutal to watch and not even close to the best Undertaker WrestleMania match, especially when compared to the matches he’d done just a few years previously. Think about all the quintessential Taker stuff we didn’t see in that match: Old School, the leaping clothesline, the standing dive onto the floor. Taker’s arsenal last year was punches, kicks, guillotine leg drops, and Tombstones, not even half of his moveset. Roman Reigns, who doesn’t have the most extensive moveset in the world, had to strip down his own moveset to the bare minimum in order for Taker to keep up.
Watching that match last year with tears streaming down my face, I finally admitted to myself that after that match, I had no desire to see Undertaker wrestle ever again. I still love him, I still wear my Undertaker ‘Taking Souls and Digging Holes’ shirt, but I don’t want to sit through another match like that again. I want my memories of Undertaker at WrestleMania to be the great ones: the matches with Edge, Orton, Batista, Michaels, Triple H. I don’t want my memories to be of a broken down old man trying to move like he’s 30.
There are people out there who have their hearts set on Taker’s ‘real’ last match being against John Cena, but I think it’s safe to say that the window for that match closed years ago. Cena is pretty much a part timer now and both men have already passed their particular torches to Roman Reigns. After last year, I don’t believe that Taker/Cena would live up to the hype it could’ve done a few years ago.
Now, I know a lot of you want to point to the fact that Taker’s new hip seems to have given him a new lease on life, but I have had three relatives who have had one or both hips replaced, and while it will give you some mobility back, you’re not running marathons on it.
I know WWE has state of the art physical therapy, but physical therapy can’t turn back the hands of time. Taker is 52 years old and has been wrestling for over thirty years. Yes, Flair’s career went longer, but I don’t think anyone could honestly say that the last years of Flair’s career were great in-ring wise (at least, not with a straight face).
This hurts me to say, but it’s time to let Taker go. He’s given us everything he had and then some for 27 years, and as fans, we owe it to him to not ask for more.
Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live 1/14&1/15/2019
Andrew gives us his thoughts on this week’s Raw and SmackDown Live! Does Raw finally outperform SmackDown Live this week?
Well if you read my Honor Reigns Supreme article, you’d know that left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I was excited for WWE this week.
So I guess it’s time to see if the initial anticipation paid off.
- Ronda Rousey & Sasha Banks vs Tamina & Nia Jax – Banks wins via Bank Statement – **
- The Revival vs Lucha House Party – Dawson wins via DDT – * 1/2
- Natalya, Bayley & Nikki Cross vs The Riott Squad – Bayley wins via Elbow Drop – ** 3/4
- Jinder Mahal vs Finn Balor – Balor wins via Coup de Grace – ***
- Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat: Dean Ambrose (c) vs Bobby Lashley vs Seth Rollins – Lashley wins via Spear – *** 1/2 – TITLE CHANGE!!!
- Fatal Four Way for Universal Championship Match at Royal Rumble: Finn Balor vs Drew McIntyre vs Baron Corbin vs John Cena – Balor wins via Coup de Grace – *** 1/4
- Braun kicks things off, oh god, he’s gonna talk. *spins the See-N-Say* Okay, Cow says Moo and Braun says something about getting hands, Beastie Boy, rawr rawr, Baron Corbin…whatever. The he finds Corbin in a limo, tears the door off, it was Vince’s so he admonishes the Monster and fines him $100,000 – and Braun mouths off. So Vince not being one to take kindly to that, pulls him out of the Universal Title match and kicks him out of the building after he flips the limo.
- After the Braun stupidity is over, now we get Sasha and Ronda. Sasha did most of the work, Nia somehow looks worse than Tamina, even the preview for Glass did better in the match, and they try really hard to force animosity between Sasha and Ronda by making Sasha be unable to understand body language and comprehend context in a sentence. Maybe she’s low key dyslexic and this brought back bad memories of reading pages out loud in school.
- A line forms outside of McMahons door…okay, time to see Jerry Lawler and a bunch of random characters…great.
- Revival get a real tag match against the Lucha House Party, so maybe the conspiracy is over…but they interrupt the match with interviewing people meandering around outside of Vince’s office. You’re only really legitimate tag team on Raw, that people like, and you’re trying to rebuild…and you kill the momentum of the match with pointless interviews. So what we did see was alright, and the DDT being a finish is nice, but the wrinkle of Wilder having to push Kalisto’s foot off the rope, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Is it karma? Is it doubling down on them being bad guys? Is it just stupid? Tune in next week on Dragon Ball – wait…no.
- Vince heads to the ring to announce a replacement and instead we get Cena. Cena who tries to say when Austin, Rock and Lesnar left, they had no passion coming back. He tries to recreate his debut Ruthless Aggression line, McIntyre comes out and schools Cena with lyrics to Word Life saying Cena’s Time is Up and Drew’s Time is Now. So it was cute. Corbin comes out cause he’s delusional. Then lastly Finn comes out to play the little engine that could. Vince says he’s small, Finn says he never believed in him, but he’ll prove he can beat Lesnar. Fatal Four Way match is created after McIntyre wins the initial squabble and Vince nearly orgasms seeing Drew and what he did.
- Jinder, makes up a story about tending to a broken Singh, so Vince tells him to pick one and winner gets the 4-way spot. Jinder picks Finn, cause you always pick the smaller guy, right?
- Bayley and Natty were trying to separate Ronda and Sasha earlier when the Riott Squad got mouthy and challenged the two that aren’t really friends to find a third and face them. Bayley has a great line as they fade to commercial since Natty accepted on behalf of them, she just looks at her and says something like ” Oh?! We’re good now?!” – which nicely points out the stupidity of some of these throw together matches.
- Now the Riott Squad do nothing for me, but Nikki Cross making her Raw debut added a new life to this match that I didn’t know it needed. Nikki made this match entertaining, and at this point, her shear joy just brightened up my enjoyment of the entire show. Decent match too, but Nikki, always let Nikki play.
- Jinder versus Finn wasn’t bad. Regardless of what some people think about Jinder, the match work was solid. If you just don’t like him, sure that’s fine, but this was Jinder’s best match in a long time and again, I thought it was pretty decent.
- Lio Rush speaks, and it’s calm, direct and Lashley is looming in the background like an ominous force instead of a posing imbecile. I don’t know how to feel…cause I liked this promo…but Lio Rush is annoying.
- The triple threat was… good. No real complaints aside from my usual gripes about Seth’s inability to sell, PLUS Lashley pinning Ambrose does allow for a rematch most likely at Rumble cause he can point out it wasn’t a 1 on 1 match and the odds were stacked against him, conspiracy stuff, so I can see it happening. Lashley with the IC title at least gives him something when he should’ve been a main event guy from day 1 on his return, at least this is a step in the right direction.
- Alexa Bliss…ugh I know I say she’s the best female character on Raw, cause she is. But walking in on her changing added nothing to anything, it was done purely for the “hot chick partially clothed” pop. And then her two episodes of Moment of Bliss have been…awful and trainwrecky. Otis randomly appearing and babbling makes him seems more moronic and not endearing like NXT made him seem like a hyper country bro. But yeah, he acted more like he needs a harness and a helmet. At least the Women’s Tag Titles look nice and aren’t the big ugly WWE logo design.
- This four way wasn’t bad, but the two commercials hurt the flow, it turned into more of just disjointed cool spots that eventually lead to something but you weren’t sure how we got there. Kinda like a drunk train ride and you end up somewhere dangerous, but sexy…yet the right person goes over. So…drunken miracles do happen folks.
Overall Score: 7/10
GO FIGURE! I really enjoyed this episode. As I mentioned on Raw Reaction the appearance of Nikki Cross and that little fire starter ball off energy actually just made me enjoy the show. There’s something about seeing someone run about the ring, be it because she’s manic, frantic or just having fun…but it’s nice. So from that point I got a little less nit picky, enjoyed nonsensical things like Dean and Seth cooperating because I got the fact they were going for “they did it out of muscle memory” not so much liking each other.
Plus seeing Finn get a semi-legitimate push for the Universal Championship is always refreshing. We’ve seen smaller guys give Brock believable matches, so maybe Finn or the Demon can tear the belt off the Beast.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Becky Lynch vs Peyton Royce – Lynch wins via Disarm-Her – **
- Asuka vs Billie Kay – Asuka wins via Asuka Lock –N/A
- Samoa Joe vs Mustafa Ali – NO CONTEST
- Andrade Almas vs Rey Mysterio – Almas wins via Draping Hammerlock DDT – ****
- The Miz w/ Shane McMahon vs Sheamus w/Cesaro – Miz wins via Rollup – ** 1/4
- Becky pulls in, cute but lacking personality interviewer tries to question her, she says she’ll say it in the ring. On her way in she sees Otis and Tucker with the New Day making a meat, eggs, powder, take a few panckes, generally assuming a protein shake of doom since their whole NXT shtick is ‘Steaks and Weights’. Otis tries some and likes it, New Day almost pukes, Otis offers it to Becky. Becky agrees, takes a decent mouthful (giggity) and says it’s good but weak and marches to the ring. Otis mumbles something that sounds like “she is the man”. This was actually the correct way to introduce Otis’ brand of buffoonery since he’s supposed to be simple but charmingly dumb…not Festus 2.0.
- Becky and Asuka argument turns into the IIconics teasing and saying they’ll win Rumble. Becky says why wait, get your ass in here now. So Peyton apparently offers herself as tribute.
- What was this match? Asuka was watching intently, Billie didn’t really get involved much, but Peyton held her own for what felt like at least 10 minutes. If this was supposed to help Peyton look like a competent threat, I think it hurt Becky more than helped Peyton. Advantage though, Asuka adorably screaming in Japanese basically getting across the point of “if you can do it so can I”. So she literally drags Billie into a match, the referee shrugs and doesn’t question an angry woman screaming in a language he doesn’t understand. Asuka went for a Fujiwara Armbar while looking at Becky to make a point, but took too long, Billie got a small opening but then Asuka chokes her out with the Asuka like in what felt like 40 seconds.
- AJ walks out while Becky and Asuka are still arguing, and apparently new music is the signal to leave. AJ walks down the ramp, around the ring, through the crowd, up to the concession stand. This is him taking Daniel Bryan’s promo from last week and turning it on it’s ear. He starts endorsing hot dogs and merchandise before Daniel Bryan jumps him. Daniel hates fun obviously…
- Jimmy gets a note from Mandy Rose with a hotel key enclosed. WHAT DOES THE UCE DO!?
- Joe jumps Mustafa mid pose, beats on him until the LED on his chest goes out. So if that’s like Iron Man, Mustafa is now dead. Someone else needs to assume the suit. TJ Perkins maybe?
- Sonya gets to the bottom of Mandy’s evil plan to break up a marriage cause she just hates Naomi. Catty…but it happens. Sonya seems a little disgusted though.
- In my article last week I think I claimed I wanted a best of 27 between these two. And I still want more. This was so damn good. Also, FINALLY, Zelina does what she should’ve been doing from the beginning. She got involved just enough to give Andrade the opening to beat Mysterio when Almas was on the brink. If this is the beginning of returning to their NXT dynamic, then I just need more Vega and Almas on my TV in general.
- Jimmy actually goes to the hotel, he pauses, heads in, Mandy takes off her robe to show a lacy black outfit and Jimmy says no. But as his rebuking her advances, a Paparazzi guy shows up out of nowhere snaps some pictures and runs away. Mandy puts the robe back on, said she never wanted him, just wanted to ruin the marriage and now Naomi will crumble. Jimmy laughs it off, walks out, and Naomi pops in and beats some ass. So Mandy’s plan didn’t work at all, I wonder if Sonya tipped them off and this could split those two into a feud or something.
- Miz and Shane are fantastic. Miz throws a celebration for Shane’s birthday, gets him a pair of Jordan’s where Shane’s reaction sounded close to legit. Then Miz runs a little reel of clips which is actually kinda nice with the story they’re telling. Shane buys into their team idea a little more by telling Miz that when he was a kid he had a dream to be tag team champs. His dream partner as a kid was Andre the Giant, but he’s still proud to call Miz his friend. There did seem to be a small hesitation during some of this where maybe there were some real comments that weren’t exactly scripted, but that just makes you buy into them more. The Bar interrupt the celebration and Shane does the talking now. Says Sheamus thinks he’s a big man for sucker punching Miz last week. Well they’ll have a match right now and it’s fair. Miz tries to say he’s not dressed and Shane retorts nicely with “I wasn’t in my gear when I stepped in for Best in the World” and Miz is like “is this what you want for your birthday?” and Shane is like ” This is my Birthday wish, yes”. The immaturity,yet, simplicity of the exchange is what made it perfect. Miz is trying to impress Shane so of course a good point and birthday wish is something that Miz won’t deny.
- The match was never supposed to be groundbreaking, but it was fun for what it was. Cesaro tries to interfere, Shane sends him through a cake on a table, distracting Sheamus long enough for Miz to get the Rollup. Sheamus tries to attack Miz afterwards, Shane helps out his partner, Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale, and then Shane positions for Coast to Coast. Miz gets the other cake and we get Coast to Cake…mostly, and Shane looked to have killed himself at the same time.
Overall Score: 6.25/10
SmackDown felt more like a story building episode this week and less geared towards the in-ring action. Nothing was bad, some things were done purposely to push storylines forward, so it felt about average if not a tick below for a SmackDown.
So for the first time in my doing these articles, and even recent memory…Raw was the better show this week. I mean…wow. Either ROH broke me or WWE just happened to push all the correct button for me. You know, like the song the Pussy Cat Dolls talked about, not the irritating buttons.
NXT Minus 6: NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool
NXT UK carries on the proud tradition of delivering a blazing hot Takeover.
6. Another Takeover opens with a match that could have been the main event. In hindsight it should have been. Mustache Mountain delivers a MOTY contender & Tyler Bate steals the show. That little dude is all kinds of special. What’s more impressive is how, in the course of the match, James Drake goes from “Why are you here?” to “Yes, you belong.” If you only watch one match from Takeover: Blackpool, it should be this one.
5. Finn Balor versus Jordan Devlin was good. Given time and a proper build, these two could deliver something great. Because of their relationship, I kept flashing back to Jericho/Michaels at Wrestlemania 19. Balor seems a natural for NXT UK. He delivers name recognition, credibility and can instantly challenge Dunne for the title.
4. If you’re a fan of a good old fashioned slugfest, check out Eddie Dennis versus Bomber Dave Mastiff. Dennis is the most unassuming powerhouse I’ve ever seen. He’s built like a flagpole, so I have no idea where he got the strength to do what he did. Bomber Dave is England’s Bam Bam Bigelow, more agile than a man his size should be. Put them together and boom, ka-pow, smash, crush, good fun mayhem.
3. THIS is the performance I’ve been waiting to see from Toni Storm. Her previous matches didn’t dazzle me. Her match with Io Shirai didn’t impress me. Her Takeover debut was the first time I saw how good she can be. BTW, did she win the Mae Young Classic? The announcers never seem to mention it…500 times a match.
2. It makes me sad to type this, but Pete Dunne finally had a disappointing match. The action was clunky & chunky, like neither Pete nor Joe Coffey knew what to do next. Coffee’s two spills (HA) from the top rope looked horrible. Any American crowd would still be chanting “you f#$%ed up.” The match clocked in at around 33 minutes but felt twice that long. On the bright side, WALTER’s jacket might be the coolest ring gear since Flair’s robes.
- Overall, this was a rock solid show and a fantastic way to showcase NXT UK. As good as the in-ring action was, what really put it over the top was the audience. Those blokes know how to have a good time. Their energy took things to another level and made the night feel special. Well done, Blackpool, and well deserved.
That’s right…I said it.