Well that was… meh. WrestleMania 34 has passed us by, and with its passing we have had many long standing questions answered with just as many new ones asked. Let’s be realistic here for a second… it wasn’t very good at all. It wasn’t helped by the fact that NXT TakeOver New Orleans was earth shatteringly incredible, but regardless of Saturday nights superior show, ‘Mania once again flattered to deceive. We were presented with the most stacked card in history, but almost every match felt like nothing more than filler for the main event. With that said, post ‘Mania RAW was a blistering success. This was originally due to be a ‘Mania Hits & Misses rundown, but I had to include RAW purely for the fact I could only find 1 or 2 ‘mania Hits which were vastly outweighed by Misses.
Lets crack on shall we?
Hit: Ronda’s Rousing Rendition.
Hands up who expected this? Anybody? No? You at the back there, put your hand down you liar! Far and beyond the best match of the night, Ronda Rousey shocked and impressed the entire world with her performance on the Grandest Stage of Them All. She was far more involved than I ever expected and it was clear to see how much she cared about proving herself. Credit is due for both HHH and Stephanie, who both did everything in their power to put Ronda over in the biggest way possible. What next for Rousey? Well if her appearance on RAW is anything to go by, this feud is far from over and that’s something I’m more than happy to see. She needs at least a couple more months of being built up, plus some more mic work conditioning, before entering the title picture.
Miss: That Fucking Main Event.
Literally the most baffling thing I have ever seen while watching WWE… and I’ve seen ark Henry have a baby hand with Mae Young. Nailed on for an entire year, Roman Reigns was set to finally topple the beast and reward us with a full time champion. What did we get? One of, if not the, worst WrestleMania main events in history. To make matters worse, within 24 hours of Roman’s devastating loss, the instant rematch was announced for the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia. That’s right. The challenger lost and got handed a rematch. Without earning it. Who said WWE favour Roman Reigns and force him down our throats? You? Don’t be absurd! He’s great! He’s earnt it!
The only saving grace here was the return of my life long bae Samoa Joe. His appearance and subsequent berating of Reigns was a thing of beauty, and even led to a challenge for Backlash. This rivalry was fantastic the first time around… here’s hoping it leads to big things for Joe.
Hit: Opening The Show In A Big Way.
While it wasn’t the best match you’ll ever see, the Intercontinental Championship match between The Miz, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor was the perfect way to open proceedings. It’s always nice seeing the best guys the company has to offer starting the show off the right way. Unfortunately the match itself wasn’t even close to being the monumental 5 star extravaganza we expected. Rollins is a worthy winner however, and should go on to have a fantastic reign as champion especially considering the calibre of talent on RAW. Braun Strowman, Samoa Joe, Elias, Dean Ambrose on his return, Finn Balor and Jeff Hardy could all result in some outstanding matches.
Miss: Rusev Day is On It’s Last Legs.
Who has Rusev upset? His short time in the company has gone from one extreme to another. Since losing his fantastic 1 year unbeaten streak to Super Cena, we have seen Rusev involved in a romantic storyline with Summer Rae and Dolph Ziggler, being fed to Randy Orton, becoming the most over guy in the business all by himself with the Rusev Day movement… to being pinned by Jinder Mahal at WrestleMania. I’s genuinely shocked he hasn’t walked away from the company yet. He is phenomenally talented, has the merch sales to give Vince a raging semi (he’s old, its difficult) and has reached almost Daniel Bryan levels of over. What’s next for him? More mid card mediocrity? With the Superstar Shake Up only one week away, Ru Ru desperately needs a change of scenery. Oh I almost forgot to mention. Jinder Mahal is our new United States Champion. Kill me now.
Hit: No Celebrities Or OTT Segments.
Thank. God. The. Rock. Wasn’t. There.
Despite the matches on show not being particularly exciting, barring 1 or 2, at least the focus of this Wrestlemania was on the actual wrestling. It was a nice change of pace to not be slapped in the face with celebrity involvement, unless you count Ronda Rousey of course, and it’s always nice when the talent doesn’t get buried by stars of yesteryear. I’m a sucker for nostalgia as much as the next cynical old fool, but seeing The League of Nations embarrassed by Stone Cold, Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 32 was completely unnecessary.
Miss: SDLive Tag Team Championship Match Placing.
The Uso’s. Tag team of the year 2017. Helped in large by The New Day and their insane rivalry. Surely this match, including the Blugeon Brothers, can only have been 24 carat gold right? Wrong! The match itself was uninspiring and frankly quite dull, but WWE did themselves no favours by placing this one right after Ronda Rousey’s triumphant debut. The crowd didn’t care in the slightest and barely made a sound. Going forward I’m concerned for the division. It was on fire for the longest time, but with Blugeon Brothers being in control for the foreseeable future I can’t see any more 5 star matches like the division was churning out weekly towards the end of 2017.
Hit: Braun Finally Winning Gold.
Strowman was my superstar of the year for 2017, and he won that much coveted award by a country mile. An amazing rivalry with Roman Reigns, months of making Big Show look good, a focal point of the title scene leading into SummerSlam, character development beyond anything we could have expected… he was more than ready to step up and show his potential at the top of a division. The tag team division was a strange place for Strowman to ply his trade, but at the end of the day it was entertaining and it was all we could talk about for weeks leading up to WrestleMania.
Miss: The Way Braun Won Gold.
The fears I had going into Wrestlemania were somewhat vanquished on last night’s RAW. The Bar in no way deserved to lose their titles after holding the weak division together over the last year, so thankfully Strowman and his unlikely partner 10 year old Nicholas (don’t even…) vacated the titles and handed them over to Kurt Angle. This doesn’t change the fact that winning the titles in the first place was the wrong decision. That’s twice in the last few months that champions have relinquished their titles for no good reason at all and it just reeks of creative not planning for the long term. Braun should have been given an opportunity at a singles title rather than diminishing the value of the tag belts. Sheamus and Cesaro were in danger of looking weak and potentially splitting up, but the announcement of a tag team elimination tournament to determine their opponents in Saudi Arabia has gone a small way to keeping them relevant.
Ember Moon. No Way Jose. Bobby Lashley. Jeff Hardy. Samoa Joe. Authors of Pain. Owens & Zayn… now that’s how you book a post ‘Mania RAW! Moon adds legitimacy to a women’s division which was becoming staler and staler by the month and should be a good challenger to Nia Jax’s newly claimed throne. Jose was a fun appearance as he swept aside and unnamed jobber, but hopefully it will turn out to be a one off appearance. Lashley received a great reaction and his interaction with Elias was absolute fire, with him looking more dominating than ever. Jeff’s return was a personal highlight for me, albeit a fairly pointless and confusing one, Unless he is going to be entered into the Intercontinental Championship scene, his appearance achieved nothing.
Samoa Joe has been desperately missed. The best natural heel that RAW has, and his interaction with Reigns was phenomenal. If Reigns wins the title in Saudi Arabia, Joe will be a fantastic first challenger. AOP was a predictable but nonetheless awesome debut. The RAW tag division has desperately needed new blood for a long, long time. Akam and Rezar will certainly bring plenty of blood to the table… other people’s blood. It’ll also be interesting to see the fall out from their dismissal of Paul Ellering… will he take charge of another team? Owens and Zayn was a fun little segment with a great match to boot, and with neither man coming away with a RAW contract it should lead to a few weeks of them invading the show until Kurt Angle eventually gives in and grants them their wish.
An absolutely fantastic episode of RAW.
Miss: The Dream Match Turned Into A Nightmare.
AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura is, on paper, potentially the greatest match ever. So it’s a shame that the end product was completely and utterly average. Horrendous build up for months and months, the lac of interaction between the two and no real intensity really did the match a disservice. The crowd weren’t that into it, it was placed in an unusual slot on the card and was yet another case of WWE flattering to deceive. The saving grace here was Nakamura’s unexpected heel turn, which certainly ignited a little interest for me in an another very standard feud. Face v face never works particularly well in the first place. The Superstar Shake Up is going to have to conjur up something pretty special to make this WWE Championship scene worth watching. Finn Balor anybody?
Hit: Charlotte Ending The Streak.
THANKYOU CHARLOTTE. WWE’s best decision of the night by far. Asuka is the most overrated wrestler, male or female, of all time in my eyes. I’ve not seen anything to back up everyone’s claims that she is the best thing since sliced sex, regardless of how much you like to jizz over her time wrestling in Japan, and it would’ve been a crying shame to see her defeat the best female superstar of the last decade. This result went a loooong way to back up my long standing opinion that WWE don’t know how to plan for the long term. An Asuka win would’ve done absolutely nothing for SDLive. Charlotte has struggled to impress on the blue brand at times because of the lack of serious competition… so what the hell would Asuka have done?
We also didn’t see a Carmella cash in, which was strange considering she tries to cash it in every 17 seconds on SDLive. What does it mean for her? She isn’t ready to be a champion, shes barely ready to be a superstar at all.
Miss: The Far From Phenomenal Return Of The Phenom.
What the hell was this? I wasn’t expecting a 30 minute epic, nor did I want one to be honest, but this was essentially a squash match. With some of the worst build I’ve ever seen for an Undertaker match, the first hour of WrestleMania was all about seeing John Cena sat in the crowd like a ‘fan’. He even interrupted Charlotte’s absolutely massive moment en route to the back of the arena. Disrespectful on WWE’s part. The worst part of all this mess is that we will likely see a rematch at next year’s event so Cena can try and achieve some sort of vindication akin to HHH and Shawn Michaels in their encounters with The Deadman. The only positive to this match was that Elias got to be a part of something huge and appear at ‘Mania at the same time.
The match didn’t need to happen, and it may aswell not have done. Was the idea to allow Taker to win and make up for losses to Reigns and Lesnar? If so, it didn’t work. 10 more wins wouldn’t work, because at the end of the day his wins could be 50 but the losses will always be 2. WWE have destroyed the legitimacy of arguably the greatest of all time and his legacy means much less than it used to.
Stone Cold Fever: Is Kevin Owens the Next Big Thing in WWE?
Is this rendition of KO Mania real?
Kevin Owens is quickly becoming the hottest Superstar in WWE. The former Universal champion is embarking on a war with Shane McMahon and while that war is only just beginning, KO is already reaping the benefits.
Owens is getting over and there’s no denying that. Many fans believe that this is just the beginning of something epic for KO and it’s hard to argue that point. But as with everything in WWE, Owens’ future depends on his booking and how much the company truly wants to invest in him. So will Kevin Owens be the next big thing in WWE?
It’s as if WWE suddenly flipped a switch and activated this new KO. The man that so many felt was on his way to superstardom in the company has always been just on the verge of greatness, but he always seemed to fall just short. It’s been through no fault of his own however as Owens has consistently always delivered, both in the ring and on the mic.
But despite how much he’s accomplished, there always seems to be an asterisk by his name. The same is true of other potential main event stars as well, like Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman. All three men have excelled on the worldwide stage but for whatever reason, none of the three have truly achieved legendary status in WWE.
While the men involved may not be too concerned with such positioning, the fans have been all too consumed with it. In their minds, the time for these talents and many more, is now. Why wait, when the business is experiencing such a resurgence in popularity? The time to strike seems to be now, so why not move ahead and make a massive impact with guys that can handle the pressure?
Perhaps that is exactly what the WWE faithful are seeing right now with Kevin Owens. Owens is capable of rising to the occasion and he’s done it many times before. Maybe there’s no better time for him to prove what he can do and maybe the company finally recognizes that.
But nearly every time fans depend on “maybe,” they wind up disappointed. WWE has not always been the most reliable company when it comes to doing right by hardworking talents, especially those who deserve a shot at the next level. Owens has been counted among those talents for far too long and now he’s getting a chance to finally step up.
The good news is that so far, it’s working. The live crowds are loving what he’s doing and no one can do it quite like he can. The comparisons to Stone Cold Steve Austin are coming like never before and KO, as well as WWE, obviously see that. The fact that Owens uses the Stunner as much as he does is proof that the entire angle is a tip of the cap to The Texas Rattlesnake.
It’s not that Owens needs to use anyone else’s finisher, just as he doesn’t need to mimic anyone else’s gimmick. KO can succeed based on his own merit and everyone knows that. But he’s saluting Austin and in doing so, reminding a legion of fans why they fell in love with WWE in the first place. There is no way to really revive The Attitude Era, but that’s not the point.
Kevin Owens is bringing back a taste of the past and making it relevant to his cause, as well as to the company’s current climate. The Stunner is as much of an anti-authority move as the middle finger, both of which keep Stone Cold on the minds of fans who love him for what he did in the business.
So is WWE truly headed for a new era of relevancy in the industry? Vince McMahon’s company has always been at the forefront of the business and for many fans, they’ve been the only game in town for a very long time. But with the rise of New Japan, Ring of Honor, as well as various promotions around the world, the wrestling world is becoming a much bigger place.
Of course much of the focus on the business right now is due to the birth and evolution of AEW. Cody Rhodes’ fledgling company is making waves and turning heads, just as everyone knew it would. But AEW has also captured WWE’s attention, despite any belief to the contrary. If Owens’ new run is a result of WWE going against the grain and trying something familiar, yet new, then that’s definitely a good thing.
But the bad news is that this is still WWE, which can change plans at a moment’s notice. Things can fluctuate at any time and when they do, an entire storyline can either twist in a different direction, or end altogether. Could this happen with KO versus Shane McMahon?
Much of what happens from here depends on just how long WWE can keep the fans invested in this angle. The live crowds are connected and the same is true of the audience at home. Everyone seems truly intent on following this story and they’re all rooting for Kevin Owens to keep rising higher on the card. If KO continues to get hot and if the company really gets behind him, then the entire landscape of WWE could change.
Kevin Owens is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin and he surely does not want to be. KO has fought his entire career to be the best he can be and this new storyline is just the latest avenue for him to rise up. Maybe it will only go up from here and maybe Kevin Owens will finally realize his potential in the company that desperately needs the next big thing.
Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 7 A Block
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
Aside from the big names being stuck in the middle of the pack, we’ve got poor little Zack Sabre at zero points. Can he twist Fale into a pretzel and figure it out?
Then we have Okada facing a banged up Ospreay, while KENTA takes on a rising EVIL.
Do we still have any undefeated participants in A Block after today?
- Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: Shooter wins via Boston Crab @3:55 – ** 1/4
- Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Yuya Uemura: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @8:50 – ***
- Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Jay White vs Jeff Cobb, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare: Chase wins via Package Piledriver @9:50 – ** 1/2
- Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI, Ren Narita & Tomohiro Ishii: BUSHI wins via MX @7:35 – **
- A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale: Sabre wins via Countout @6:30 – ** 1/4
- A Block: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Victory Roll @12:00 – ** 1/2
- A Block: KENTA vs EVIL: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @15:05 – *** 1/2
- A Block: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @19:15 – *** 3/4
- A Block: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:55 – **** 1/2
Still a lot of heat from their NXT past and Moxley’s debut match in NJPW. Juice and Mox don’t face each other until the end of their block schedule, but if this needed more heat…well this was gasoline. Juice and Mox stay on each other, brawl to the back while the Young Lions fight, but Mox apparently gets the best of the brawl. He returns to the ring to help Shooter, hit their Hart Attack tandem move and Shooter sinks in the Boston Crab.
There’s history between Taichi and Goto centering around the NEVER Openweight Title, Yano and Suzuki have fun history and it looks like Uemura is stepping up to Suzuki. So there’s a lot of fun moments, Uemura has a death wish trying to fight Suzuki, but it’s still fun. A lot of moving pieces in this one that kept it very entertaining.
Honma got put through the paces, Jay White got tossed around a little bit by Jeff Cobb, but the Bullet Club tag partners proved to be more useful than Cobb’s. Chase has picked up a few wins in the tag matches, so he might get some kind of push coming soon.
BUSHI continues to pick up pinfalls in these tag matches, and this sort of builds for Ishii and Naito, but not a ton happens. YOSHI-HASHI is there, Shingo looks like a million bucks and BUSHI wins the match, LOL. This was very paint by numbers.
Sabre jumps all over Fale at the start and tries a plethora of submissions to no avail. A kendo stick shot from Jado pushes the action to the outside. Fale and Bullet Club look to have an advantage, but Sabre dodges some double team tactics, grounds Fale with a Triangle Arm Bar, and then races to the ring to beat the 20 count. Fale couldn’t make it back fast enough, so Sabre gets the first Countout win of this year’s tournament.
Tanahashi is really showing the age and injuries this year, so all of these flukey wins just come off as forced. The match was slow, had moments of being interesting, but Tanahashi not even being 50% of what he used to be makes these hard to watch at times. Archer is getting over well, but Tanahashi winning at this point does hurt the credibility a little. I get the story they’re telling, but unlike last year where Tanahashi could push through injuries, this year, they are much more obvious, and he’s much more hampered.
EVIL took the fight to KENTA and then they went to the outside. Through the back and then into the crowd area next to the ramp. EVIL went for Darkness Falls on a bunch of a chairs, but KENTA stopped him and suplexed him onto said chairs. When it got back in the ring, EVIL tried to weaken the legs and KENTA went after EVIL’s upper body to mitigate the power advantage. Heavily booed, KENTA played up heel nicely (I guess WWE did help for something), and eventually he gets the best of EVIL and lets him take a nap. KENTA moves to 4-0.
We get a solid match between two guys who are right on the precipice of the Main Event scene. Kota outsmarts SANADA early by not going for the stupid dueling Dropkick spot, and from then on it was an interesting struggle. Between fan support and the general “anything you can do, I can do better” pacing, this was entertaining, yet slow and felt too long in some spots. Both looked pretty good, but this could’ve been told faster and SANADA’s perpetual struggles are a little frustrating for anyone who is a fan of his.
Okada and Ospreay were expected to blow the roof off, and well I’d say this was a damn good shot. Ospreay is obviously dinged up, but he fought through the pain and pulled off numerous flipping counters and found a few different ways to hit the Os-Cutter. They both let their personalities fly and this was a lot of fun to watch. Okada always has this older brother aura since he’s the one that brought Ospreay to New Japan and Chaos, so whenever they get together, it’s very much like two siblings trying to outdo the other. Ospreay had a great flurry at the end, flipping through a Rainmaker attempt, to try his Stormbreaker, but Okada flipped through that and hit a short arm lariat. Rolling Rainmaker and a normal Rainmaker later, Okada edges out the little brother. Great match.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well this night struggled cause the first two Block matches were really weak. The next two amped-up the intensity a little, but fell short of a memorable match. The main event was fantastic, but generally speaking this felt like it was slow, plateau’d for a while and only picked up at the end. Nothing out right awful, but a lot of matches that could’ve been a little better.
Still a solid enough night if you’re following it all, but only the main event is worthy of seeking out individually. It is nice to see that everyone is on the board with some points. So if Okada and KENTA stumble a little, the rest of the block could plausibly catch up.
Block A Standings:
- Kazuchika Okada: 4-0 (8 Points)
- KENTA: 4-0 (8 Points)
- Lance Archer: 2-2 (4 Points)
- EVIL: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- SANADA: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Will Ospreay: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Zack Sabre Jr: 1-3 (2 Points)