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Opinion

Booking The WWE Universal Championship At SummerSlam & Beyond

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SummerSlam

Even though we are just under a week away from the Extreme Rules event on the 15th of July, everyone is certainly looking at the bigger picture which in this case is the ‘Biggest Party of the Summer’ known as SummerSlam.

SummerSlam is the official halfway point for the WWE calendar, generally marking the big shift the company passes and usually we tend to see signs & clues of what may come in a few months’ time at WrestleMania, at least for those like myself who ready into everything like it’s gospel. However, this show is marked as the 2nd biggest on the WWE calendar, featuring a loaded card, potential dream matches and like we’ve seen over the last number of years, some of the best matches throughout this 12-month period.

This year SummerSlam has an interesting build to it, as the WWE product isn’t exactly blowing anyone’s minds from all aspects, it does though have the potential to fix these injustices and very well be one of the best shows of the year. All of this does sadly hinge on one man for most of us, Brock Lesnar & his coveted Universal Championship. ‘The Beast Incarnate’ has been champion for well over a year as of this writing and in every championship defense has come out on top with no sign of slowing down but one has to wonder, when will it end?

All bets (from what I’ve seen at least) point towards the fateful day that takes place this coming August at SummerSlam live from the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn and what better place to host such a monumental occasion? Like him or not, WWE have at least nailed the execution of Brock’s title run, it isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly balances out with what kind of character the WWE are trying to build up Brock Lesnar to be at the end of it all. We could certainly use more appearances & title matches but every Brock match has a different aura to it than anything else on the subsequent card it’s involved on, which is something that definitely adds to the importance of your show.

However, if this historic reign is to end in a matter of weeks, how should it be done & who should have the honour of conquering the champion? This is my simple take on how I would personally do it, or at least how I feel WWE would do it at this point in time. While I was inclined to fantasy book the whole thing and replace certain stars, I decided to play it by the way WWE programming is shaped lately and work on it from the characters they’ve set in place.

Extreme Rules Main Event

We start off with the match that will most likely headline next weeks final show before SummerSlam; Roman Reigns vs Bobby Lashley.

Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of having Reigns go on last at another big main roster event, considering the events of Backlash just a few months back but with the amount of hype this has received, I can’t see any other choice for your last slot on the card. This match has been built up as the first-ever meeting between two of the biggest stars on RAW, with the winner of this likely heading into SummerSlam to face off against Brock Lesnar.

The key to this match should be keeping both men strong, with the loser coming out looking just as dominant and formidable as the winner does by the matches end as this is important for what I feel should go down at SummerSlam in the weeks following.

This match itself should be good, hopefully better than the Reigns vs Joe debacle we got recently but ends in the form of controversy, something such as fluke victory or pin with Reigns or Lashley’s foot on the rope would do and will give the loser the right to demand a second opportunity. While I understand cheap finishes are a bit overdone since WrestleMania (with Nakamura/Styles having countless ‘controversial’ endings) but this will give us a nice setup for what’s to come next.

An ending of controversy will also maintain the tension between both Reigns & Lashley, giving us a lot more potential for chaos as the summer wrestling season roles on.

The Road to SummerSlam in Brooklyn

Extreme Rules ending will give either Lashley or Reigns, whoever the loser may be the right to demand a second opportunity based on the events of the previous event & feeling robbed based on the ignorance of the official in-charge of the main event. General Manager Kurt Angle, much like he is now, will oversee and hear both sides of this argument and will eventually make the most logical decision to avoid further pressure like any good GM would do, grant the loser a spot in the SummerSlam main event.

This gives us a Triple Threat main event, Lesnar vs Reigns vs Lashley. Having all 3 men in this match gives the WWE a chance to balance out their past flaws with matches between Lesnar & Reigns, the inclusion of Lashley will hopefully breathe some fresh air into the atmosphere in Brooklyn, we don’t get a repeat of the atrocity that was the WrestleMania main event & Lashley finally gets to clash with Lesnar, in some capacity. Of course, the concern is the crowd in attendance, who I’d fully expect to be hostile on this evening but like many matches, the crowd can be reasoned with if you give them something to genuinely sink their teeth into.

As we move closer to the big show, the key element is to drop Reigns recent gimmick of claiming he’s ‘screwed’ by higher-up officials in the WWE and instead fend for himself and fight based on his own motivations, similar to that of Lashley who simply wants to face the best available on the roster at this point in time. Giving both men their own individual will to want to defeat Brock Lesnar will place both men as severe threats to ‘The Beast’ and his title run, at the same time making the whole situation feel less forced and not make as many fans feel like the concept of babyface Roman Reigns is being shoved down our throats to the extent that we currently believe.

Giving the champion the spotlight is also a must in this scenario, with the possibility of Brock Lesnar heading over to the UFC after the summer for a potential fight as we’ve heard for so long, it’s becoming more & more likely that he won’t be around for the remainder of 2018. We’ll leave this last part entirely up to speculation and your best guesses, as I don’t want to confirm something I have little to no knowledge on based on the actual accuracy of the situation.

Triple Threat at SummerSlam

I’ll reiterate, with the state of the current WWE product and some of its booking, particularly surrounding the character of Roman Reigns in this case, there is no strong guarantee that the crowd in Brooklyn is going to be 100% on board with this concept I am simply imagining. Personally, I find any scenario involving Reigns and the Universal Title in this scenario to warrant a hostile environment by default, so let’s focus on how the match itself should be booked excluding the crowd who may or may not want Reigns locked up depending on their various moods.

A triple threat match of this nature needs to display the key strength of all 3 men in the ring, in this case, that key is the sheer power of all our participants. Both Lashley & Reigns, whether you like to admit it or not, have vastly more varied in-ring styles than that of Brock Lesnar who rarely drifts away from his repetitive German suplex obsession. So, to balance out and give this match some flair, let the chaos reign.

Whether it’s announce tables, steel chairs, steel steps or the elaborate stage itself don’t let either man hold back from wanting to absolutely murder one another. We’ve seen all 3 men dig deep into that ‘killer instinct’ aspect of their character, Lesnar’s return match against Cena is a prime example of this and if executed in this environment can really produce a fantastically brutal main event to close off the ‘Biggest Party of the Summer’.

As for our winner, I think the majority of people are willing to bet Lesnar walks out of the event with the championship still intact, but I think it’s time the Monday Night Raw roster gets a much-needed structural change and instead of having their key superstar appear on a bi-monthly basis, why not give it to someone who actually deserves it? Roman Reigns. Is he the most liked star on the roster? No. Is he one of the hardest working and one that deserves success based on his solid work rate alone? I’d struggle to disagree with anyone on that point. Reigns is a victim of the booking team behind him, not his individual character & I’d be more than happy to see him take the title off ‘The Beast’ and have this arch come full circle, assuming the then former Universal Champion is setting sail to the UFC for a while.

Braun Cashes In!

Reigns will have his moment in the sun, but only briefly. For these few minutes or even seconds he can soak in the fact that he did what everyone doubted he could ever accomplish, pin Brock Lesnar in the centre of a WWE ring. We’ll get the traditional post-match celebration of sheer relief that the battle is over, regardless of the crowd’s reaction, until reality comes right back to hit our new champion in the face.

This leads to our current Mr. Money in the Bank himself (I understand he’s titled himself ‘Monster in the Bank, I just can’t stand the nickname) coming out to what everyone would assume would be a ‘Monstrous’ reaction from the Brooklyn faithful as he decides to seize the opportunity and challenge a beaten down and war-torn Roman Reigns for this newly won gold. A stunned Reigns won’t believe what’s happening, Braun will be readier than ever and all of a sudden one of the crowning achievements in the young career of Roman Reigns would have shifted into his biggest nightmare as his past has come back to haunt him.

The referee rings the bell and this one is car crash, Reigns will try to put up a fight but doesn’t last too long as the assault from both Lashley & Lesnar earlier would have taken its tole on his body, as he eventually falls victim to the ‘Monster Among Men’ and his sadistic powerslam. Braun gets the faithful 3-count and we have a new Universal Champion in a matter of moments, and just like that the landscape of the Monday Night Raw product has shifted in a direction that every other competitor must fear as the bulldozer that is Braun Strowman holds the most prized possession on the show at the moment. Reigns will sit up, stunned that his moment is taken away from him just as he thought he had it and we close with our new champion celebrating his newly won prize.

Roman Reigns finally breaks

Generally, the evening after a champion, or champions in WWE claim their first championship we get some form of celebration, something along the lines of a thank you or promise to the audience as they now represent the top-tier of their respective brand or as we’ve seen with the likes of Seth Rollins, a celebratory challenge to anyone who wants to try and squash their new-found momentum.

Braun will have his evening of enjoyment the night after SummerSlam, this however won’t last much longer as a storm is brewing which our champion isn’t ready for. Enraged over his most recent and tragic loss, the brief former champion Roman Reigns completely snaps and begins his onslaught on a number of superstars that very evening. His pent-up frustrations with the locker room, management and being screwed at every turn that he thinks he’s grasped the one thing he so desperately craves leads him down a dark path to absolute violence. Instead of using his numerous issues to convey sympathy with the audience, Reigns turns his back on the people he thought once supported him and takes into business for himself.

Being one of the very few men to actually manage to completely lay out our new Universal Champion, Reigns decides to re-educate Strowman on who he picked a fight with and ambush the champion, beating him within an inch of his life and setting up a feud I doubt anybody will have a problem revisiting for a new series of matches. Neither man has ever been a fan of one another, which now turns into adamant hatred and will deliver a feud that isn’t just relevant in its premise but bound to be spectacular in its execution.

If you happened to have witnessed the ferocity & sheer mayhem of the first few Reigns & Strowman encounters you know just how fun these two are to watch when they’re going at it in the ring. However, as we have witnessed when a long-term rivalry and narrative is established, it is must watch WWE television, something the company is in desperate need for at this point for their ‘flagship show’.

Personally, I have not thought of the booking of the feud past a few weeks after SummerSlam but if done in a similar manner to what this simple piece proposes could actually work in finally bringing fan interest back to Raw in terms of its championships scene and attempt to fix the damages done to the Roman Reigns character over the last few years. The whole concept of ‘Heel Reigns’ may be a turn off to some but will serve as a fresh new slate for the character and if put into a feud with Strowman like I briefly described, could give us one of the hottest rivalries we have seen since well, the first Reigns & Strowman rivalry in 2017.

I would love to hear your feedback on this simple concept I spent last week thinking about, as well as ways to improve it or even better suggestions all around!


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Opinion

AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21

AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?

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As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.

Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!

#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time

There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…

THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!

I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.


#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic

Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.

People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.

I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.

#3- Overuse of Certain Moves

This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…

Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.

If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.

How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.


That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!


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Opinion

AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

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With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass



Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed



The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!


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