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Predicting The Card: WWE WrestleMania 35

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The Shield WWE WrestleMania 35

The date is October 7, 2018, two days after WWE presented Super Showdown in Melbourne, Australia. While we still have many twists and turns in the road, the path to WrestleMania is already being paved. What will we see on the grandest stage of them all? Who knows! But trying to predict it is lots of fun.

Greg DeMarco, publisher of The Chairshot, sat down to lay out where WWE could be headed for WrestleMania 35. This article won’t address the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, or the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal. It might not even be an entire card. But looking at today’s alignment, and where we could be headed in the next 182 days, this is Greg’s early look at the potential WrestleMania 35 lineup.

WWE Universal Championship
Roman Reigns (champion) vs. Royal Rumble Winner Dean Ambrose vs. Intercontinental Champion Seth Rollins

I’m not sure WWE loves anything more than The Shield, save for a few legends here and there. Despite the rumors of a certain legend in The Rock, I really think we are getting all of The Shield we can handle on The Road To WrestleMania 35.

Dean Ambrose has been on fire since his return, seemingly committed to his Shield brothers, while still showing signs of being the Lunatic Fringe we all know and love. Him scoring the fall at Super Showdown seems to be no accident, at least in my mind. I don’t see Roman Reigns losing the Universal Championship anytime soon, but I do see Dean Ambrose finally getting a career defining win–the 2019 Royal Rumble–and pointing his scope directly at The Samoan Sex Machine himself.

Seth Rollins could be a case of WWE dragging out an old storytelling crutch, where the Intercontinental Champion was largely considered to be #2 guy in the company, and the top contender for the world championship (despite rarely getting that title shot). WrestleMania 6 saw The Ultimate Warrior enter as Intercontinental Champion to challenge then WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, and I can see Rollins using the old “IC title logic” to insert himself into the WrestleMania 35 main event.

For funsies, I am calling winners today…

Prediction: Dean Ambrose captures the Universal Championship

WWE Championship
AJ Styles (champion) vs. The Miz

The Miz is arguably the best performer in WWE today, based on two facts: he’s over as a heel (hard to do in 2018) and he always makes opponent look like a million bucks. It’s largely believed that his Talking Smack segment with Daniel Bryan was “unscripted,” but I don’t buy it. What I do buy is the career rejuvenation it caused.

AJ Styles is quietly building a momentous run as WWE Champion, and I don’t see it stopping before WrestleMania 35. While I would love to see Miz win the Royal Rumble (I can see him and Ambrose as the final two, if Rollins isn’t the last guy with Ambrose), there are plenty of ways for him to earn this shot. For me, a (relatively) clean win over Daniel Bryan in some form is the ultimate method, and that’s what I see happening. As for a prediction? The wins for Miz don’t stop there.

Prediction: The Miz captures the WWE Championship

Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey (champion) vs. Charlotte Flair

What many would deem the easiest match to call, I think do indeed see this match at Met Life Stadium. what I don’t think we see is it going on last, as WWE probably opts to have The Shield close out WrestleMania 35. However, I won’t be shocked if this is the night they pull the trigger and have these two women close the show.

Since Charlotte is a Smackdown Live superstar, and the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, I see Charlotte winning the 2019 Women’s Royal Rumble, and jumping ship to challenge Raw’s Rousey.

Prediction: The legend grows as Charlotte Flair captures the Raw Women’s Championship

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (champion) vs. Asuka

Everyone thought that 2018 was Asuka’s year, but instead it was Charlotte ending her undefeated streak in New Orleans. WWE has their own calendar (and it’s usually right), and here I see Asuka finally winning WWE (not NXT) gold at WrestleMania 35 against Becky Lynch.

Because Asuka’s character is that of an in-ring master, I think we see a tournament (or gauntlet) set to determine the challenger, where Asuka emerges victorious (possibly starting in the first match of possible gauntlet) to challenge Becky.

Prediction: Asuka captures the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Interesting note, I have predicted that each of the top men’s and women’s championships change hands at WrestleMania 35, which is rare. I can see Roman or AJ retaining, but the women’s belts I really think are going to change. If I had to pick one of the four championships to be retained, I would go with the Universal.

Anyway, carry on!

Braun Strowman vs. Brock Lesnar

On the surface, this match reads like “these guys each need a WrestleMania match.” But the storytelling for this is there.

Braun Strowman was Mister Monster In The Bank, but it was a discus-like toss of the coveted briefcase from Brock that prevented a SummerSlam cash-in. It was also a surprise appearance from Brock at Hell In A Cell that prevented a potential win for Braun in September. At Crown Jewel, I can imagine we’ll see a spot where Brock once again prevents Braun from emerging victorious.

So where does that lead? Depending on the date of Brock Lesnar’s UFC fight, it either leads to a Royal Rumble confrontation, or one in February/March. Regardless of the date, we’ll learn that Braun’s motivation for a beatdown of Brock was simply because he’s “not finished with you,” and wants revenge.

Prediction: Braun Strowman gets the big win 

The Undertaker vs. John Cena

You don’t think that story ended at WrestleMania 34, did you?

Prediction: John Cena gets his revenge and hands Undertaker his third WrestleMania loss

Triple H vs. Kevin Owens

This might seem a little out of left field, but you have to remember that we’re only halfway to WrestleMania. There is plenty of time to build up this story, which would be a huge one for Kevin Owens. Triple H is obviously high on the guy, and the fans want to cheer him. I see it going down here, but I don’t see it getting the payoff everyone wants.

Prediction: Triple H wins, and the internet cries

There are quite a few big names left out, including current United States Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, New Day, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler, Alexa Bliss, and many more. There’s also plenty of room on the card to see them all involved. And I think we will.

But what say you? What do you think we’ll see at WrestleMania 35 at Met Life Stadium on April 7, 2019? Tweet at @ChairshotGreg and @theCHAIRSHOTcom using the hashtag #UseYourHead and let your voice be heard!


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Levin’s SmackDown Live Review (10/16/18)

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After watching parts (thank you Comcast) of SmackDown Live’s 1,000th show, it is clear to me the company may not be done promoting matches in the future that feature stars of the past.

While I was not able to witness the entire show, the parts I did see left me thinking (out loud) whether WWE’s commitment to showcasing part-time performers is truly worth the battle? Does the fan base gain anything from seeing older rivalries renewed? Do the current stars on the roster feel slighted in the least by having to share time with restructured programming?

The reunion of Evolution may be the reopening of Pandora’s Box. The confrontation between Batista and Triple H could once again lead to a confrontation in the ring potentially at the Royal Rumble or as an addition to the card at WrestleMania 35. The back and forth between “The Animal” and the “King of Kings” was expected once Randy Orton spewed his venom about Batista leaving the company to pursue acting.

That’s part of the script we all expected. The confrontation and vibe given off as Batista and Triple H “hugged it out” may have been part of the spot, but there are some undertones the company might want to save for another time and date. The use of veterans who have reemerged of late – with Undertaker and Trips in Australia and a tag team match between ‘Taker and Kane and DX (Triple H and Shawn Michaels) may be great on paper, but it is also a hard sell since the announcers have downplayed Michaels’ return to the ring.

Does a Batista-Triple H return match do anything for you? Are you entertained enough to think it is worth a long storyline? Batista has teased a return to the ring, much like The Rock has commented on social media how he cannot wait to get back to the company that made him a millionaire many times over. History tells us certain feuds stand the test of generational gaps.

Triple H and Undertaker is one. The Rock and Steve Austin – if it ever happened – is another. Given that both performers are still in amazing shape this advanced in their careers, is there any reason to think a match wouldn’t sell? Probably not. Finding the right place and time to sell it is the key to its success. SmackDown Live has done such a phenomenal job of using two hours of “wrestling” effectively and has clearly become the “go to” program on WWE’s circuit. Making sure this match gets the proper attention without sacrificing other wrestlers or programs is key.

I suspect the talk of a WWE “reunion” with Batista and Triple H will heat up in the next few weeks. A match looming in the coming year is almost as easy to predict as The Rock and Roman Reigns in a “match for the ages.” The problem is the heat each wrestler brings must match the in-ring performance. We all know Triple H can carry his end of the deal. It remains to be seen if Batista, who has been off in Hollywood making movies, can do the same thing.

As a fan, I sure hope he can.

 


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WWE Evolution and Crown Jewel: Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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Juan Carlos Reneo takes a look at the differences–and also the similarities–of WWE Crown Jewel and WWE Evolution.

The next two PPVs that WWE will produce are very interesting by themselves. Crown Jewel has become a PR nightmare of WWE because of the latest news related to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile Evolution, a show a lot of people are hopping to see, has become in a way ‘’celebration’’ of women’s wrestling. Interesting enough these two shows are close to one another, making it bizarre for WWE by having praise for making evolution and a lot of bad publicity because of Crown Jewel.

In paper the WWE-Saudi Arabia deal, receiving from 450 to 500 million dollars for a 10-year deal look great but the deal had its main problem which was Saudi Arabia’s treatment on women and LGBTQ community, two communities in which WWE represents with campaigns and events. Crown Jewel as of this moment will still be celebrated despite the media and even senators of the United Stated pressuring WWE to cancel the show because of recent events. Vince McMahon who is known as stubborn man has his plan to go to Saudi Arabia and do Crown Jewel even if people and wrestlers of WWE like it or not.

Evolution at first looked like an apology PPV given to the female roster for not being able to compete in Saudi Arabia because of the laws of the country. When we first heard of Evolution people (I include myself) were excited for the concept of this PPV and a way to give the spotlight to the great female roster WWE has right now. But all the excitement and focus of Evolution went away when WWE announced the show Crown Jewel that would be celebrated only 5 days later and making Evolution into ‘’look we are progressive now but in 5 days we are not progressive anymore’’. Evolution now has become a bad apology for WWE making a deal with a country that is not fan to put it in nice words of the LGBTQ community and women despite they stating they are making cultural changes which in most cases is not true.

Timing has not been a friend of WWE lately, with first the idea of Evolution and Crown Jewel being only a few days apart and seeing the current events that happened. The hashtag #CancelCrownJewel has become very popular in the last coupe of days, but will this pressure cancel the show? When fans pointed out to WWE and Snickers why WWE shouldn’t name a battle royal after the wrestling legend Moolah, it was the right thing to do so there is a record of WWE doing the right thing in recent history.

We also must see the legal nightmare for WWE if they decide to cancel the Crown Jewel show. WWE and Saudi Arabia would enter a tenacious legal battle that most likely would see Saudi Arabia standing tall over WWE. The promotion of Vince McMahon is a corner right now that they were destined to be in from the moment they decided to accept the deal with Saudi Arabia.

Will WWE do the right thing? The best answer I could give to anyone who asked me this question is most likely not, in WWE money speaks over moral integrity, which for all of us fans and followers of the product of WWE should not be a surprised.


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Opinion

Top 5: Old Wrestlers

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Terry Funk

A couple of weeks ago, I suggested that WWE could use this time of year, where business is traditionally down anyway, to try some things they hadn’t done before. They’ve gone a different direction. WWE is bringing back every legend & part-timer they can find to try & get some attention from a public more interested in the NFL, NBA rumors, the new TV season, Kanye West & almost anything else going on.

We’ve got Shawn Michaels coming back to team with Triple H against Undertaker & Kane for that sweet Saudi blood money. Trish Stratus & Lita have come back to take on their old rival Mickie James & her good friend Alexa Bliss, who honestly is just lucky she has the promo ability to be involved at this point. Brock Lesnar is hanging around because the price is right, along with John Cena finishing people off with the SIXTH MOVE OF DOOM.

I mean, it’s a strategy. It’s not one that I find particularly entertaining, but WWE has found success with it in the past. And let’s be honest, it’s one that the fans endorse every year with their money, their cheers & their chants. Every year at the Hall of Fame ceremony, there’s thousands of fans breaking into speeches with “ONE MORE MATCH”. Why wouldn’t WWE listen to these people that paid way too much money to sit in an arena & watch speeches? It makes perfect sense. People don’t care about the current WWE Superstars. They want to see the guys & gals from their childhood. WWE will bring the ones that are available.

But let’s not single WWE out here. Every wrestling promoter that has ever run a show has attempted to draw money from nostalgia at some point. Most indie feds book old WWE guys to draw a house. Once somebody appears on that television, there’s a certain recognizability factor that can get them booked for years after Vince lets them go.

Here are the Top 5 Old Wrestlers.

5. Ric Flair

Ric Flair TNA Comeback

Ric was 40 years old during what many consider to be his peak in-ring performance year, 1989. He was a wily veteran throughout WCW’s entire existence. He was supposed to be the guy that passed the torch, and he did on multiple occasions. Somehow, it always ended up back in his hands. It wasn’t his fault that nobody could carry it the way he did.

The culture of WCW wore on Flair, and towards the end of the company’s existence it seemed like he was near the end of his in-ring career. WWE breathed new life into him, and he had many more years of wily veteran left in him. He was just under 60 when he had his last WWE match, and just over 60 when he had his last wrestling match. He’d still be wrestling today if somebody would let him.

4. Jerry Lawler

The King was never the best-looking athlete, but he was always a master of psychology. He knew what the people wanted to see, and the right time to give it to them. He knew the time & place where he needed to be the chickenshit heel, and where he needed to be the babyface that got beat up and then dropped the strap. He also threw one of the best punches in the business.

Even though Lawler is more remembered as a commentator than as a wrestler in WWE, he could always go into the ring when the time called for it. He was over the age of 60 when he was feuding with The Miz & challenging for the WWE Championship, and having the best matches of Miz’s title run. A heart attack ended Lawler’s WWE in-ring career, but he still competes on the indy circuit occasionally because it’s what he knows & loves. Asking him to retire would be lunacy.

3. Minoru Suzuki

Suzuki hasn’t been around as long as the other people on this list. He’s only 50 right now. But I feel like if you had the term “old wrestler” or “grizzled veteran” in an encyclopedia, this man’s picture would be next to it. He just looks like the kind of guy that represents the old school and would slap you if you didn’t respect the business.

Suzuki is known as a co-founder of Pancrase, where he met most of the old-school MMA legends in the ring. Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock & Masakatsu Funaki were some of the names. He even met Jushin Thunder Liger in an MMA match. He eventually made his way to pro wrestling, first in All Japan & then in New Japan where he formed the Suzuki-gun faction. I figure if he asks you to join his faction, you pretty much have to out of fear.

2. Terry Funk

As the Funker got older, he got crazier. Funk was already a legend when he arrived in WCW in 1989 at the age of 45 to feud with Ric Flair. Once he got done with that legendary piece of business, he decided he needed to get hardcore in order to get with the times. He did deathmatches in Japan with some dude named Cactus Jack. He did moonsaults off the top rope. He became the patron saint of Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Terry & his brother Dory Funk Jr. were an interesting pair. Dory never changed through the years. He always worked the same style throughout his entire career, which I’m pretty sure is still ongoing. Terry constantly changed. He always wanted to fit in with what was going on at the time. He was middle aged & crazy, and despite announcers’ claims to the contrary, he was the toughest SOB in the business. When you’re tough, you can go on a lot longer than people expect.

Honorable Mention: Mae Young

Mae didn’t exactly have classic matches in her advanced years, but good luck finding a tougher old broad that ever set foot in the ring. Her willingness to take any bump & do any silly thing the writers could think of made her a staple of the WWF Attitude Era at an age where most wrestlers aren’t even alive.

1. Nick Bockwinkel

One of the criticisms of Verne Gagne’s AWA was the fact that he stuck with the same guys on top forever. Longtime stars like Crusher, Baron von Raschke & Verne himself were in top spots on the card years after they should have been. When fans were looking for something new during the 1980s, all the AWA had for most of the decade were the guys that stuck around.

Bockwinkel was a good example of the AWA’s tendency to push guys forever. When Verne didn’t have the AWA Championship, it was usually Nick that had it. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it led to backlashes that made Jeff Jarrett seem like a popular NWA Champion. However, the difference between Nicholas & the others previously listed was simple: the dude could still flat-out go in the ring into his 50s. Most of what people have seen of Bockwinkel’s work is from the 1980s, when he was in his late 40s & early 50s. His advanced ring psychology & technical wrestling skills made him seem ageless. His 60 minute draw with Curt Hennig in Las Vegas at the end of 1986, when Bockwinkel was 52 years old, is the best 60 minute draw I’ve ever seen. Hennig learned how to work on that night & others like it across the ring from Bockwinkel, and eventually became Perfect as a result.

Most of the people on this list evolved as they got older. Nick Bockwinkel was an evolved gentleman from the 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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