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Opinion

Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live Ratings & Notes

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Andrew adds some ratings and some review notes about Raw and SmackDown. Let’s see what he has to say.

Well this week’s article is a little delayed due to unforeseen technical difficulties and the re-launch of POD is WAR! Give it a listen since Chris Platt and I hit some current topics and we even have a little surprise for the third voice.

So let’s see how the two shows played out.

 

Raw Ratings:

  • Bobby Lashley, Dean Ambrose & Drew McIntyre vs Seth Rollins, Finn Balor & John Cena – Rollins wins via Stomp – *** 1/4
  • Lumberjack Raw Tag Team Title Match: Chad Gable & Bobby Roode (c) vs The Revival – Gable retains via cradle – ** 1/2
  • Baron Corbin vs Elias – Corbin wins via End of Days – 1/2
  • Jinder Mahal & Alicia Fox vs Apollo Crews & Ember Moon – Ember wins via Eclipse – N/A
  • #1 Contender Match: Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax – Banks wins via Bank Statement – **
  • Falls Count Anywhere Intercontinental Championship Match: Dean Ambrose (c) vs Seth Rollins – Ambrose retains via pinfall after Bobby Lashley interference – ** 1/2

Review Notes:

  • Show kicks off with a backstage brawl between Rollins and Lashley. Cena then promptly ignores that, comes out and says something similar to last year about entering Rumble for an easy track to Mania. Drew McIntyre interrupts and Cena does his old stand by of ” You aren’t saying anything new”, that he’s been using the last 3 years or so since he’s been a part timer. So there’s a lot of irony, hypocrisy… and stupidity without need in that statement. Drew then says he’s different because he’ll show him instead of talk…then we get crap. Lio comes out, says he’ll sue, Rollins attacks Lashley again, Ambrose shows up for reasons, and then Balor makes the save, so yay, 6 man tag.
  • 6 Man Tag was fine, a couple new little wrinkles on move sets, and aside from the crowd being fairly Pro-Cena, there’s no reason to care about this match. EXCEPT! Since Rollins gets the pin, even though Triple H wasn’t paying attention, it still earns him an Intercontinental Title shot at the end of the show. Reasons folks…reasons.
  • Mean Gene Okerlund tribute here, with Hulk Hogan. Now yes, he’s a very divisive personality at the moment, and everyone has the right to feel as they do. But as a tribute from one man who lost a close friend, it was sweet, humbling and touching. It might’ve gone a touch to the pandering side towards the end when he was fantasy booking a show in the clouds with a lot of the beloved wrestlers who aren’t with us anymore. But honestly, it was nice as a tribute.
  • Lumberjack match because Roode and Gable pinned the wrong person…soo…lumberjacks are supposed to point out injustices now? Funnily enough, Revival get screwed again since Dawson’s foot was under and on the bottom rope at different times during the 3 count, but the referee saw nothing. The Ascension even tried to point it out…so…yeah, a fairly well wrestled match with some good tag team spots got kicked in the balls by a heavily gimmicked finish.
  • Elias has a nice little riff, but of course, he gets cut off by Baron Corbin. The match no one cares about happens, the crowd even starts chanting “CM Punk”, and Corbin hits End of Days because…well…I guess everyone entering the Rumble needs to look competent.
  • THE WORST PROMO OF THE YEAR ( yes I’m implying some amusing element since we’re a week into the year) – Heyman does the usual Heyman and Braun looks to have forgotten his lines so bad, he literally says the same thing Brock did. One funny line of asking if Heyman’s ass gets jealous of his mouth with all the crap that comes out aside, this was Kaio-ken times 10 of cringe. Braun proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why he won’t be getting that belt. Dude couldn’t carry a promo segment against an infant and a See-N-Say.
  • Jinder and Alicia come out for their match, Jinder wants Alicia to start the calming chant (Alicia calm? Jinder is high), that doesn’t go well so they just insult fans. Fat guy, bearded girlfriend, standard fair insults, but sadly an upside from the last 30 minutes or so. As for the match, it happened, it was over fast and Alicia sells the Eclipse like a champ. Points for her.
  • Moment of Bliss debut! Alexa is the best thing in the Raw women’s division, but even she was powerless to save this segment. It was weird, Ronda putting Sasha over hard was odd since the words and the recent booking don’t resonate well. Nia came in claiming she weighs 300.5 ounces, and we all know that’s a lie. She must be using Steiner Math to figure out her weight using the metric system and forgot to reconvert.
  • Anyway, the match happens and it was kinda okay until they tried to do too much. Nia is not good in the ring, she can’t even drop Sasha off her shoulders across the top turnbuckle correctly. Then Sasha nearly dies trying to do a Frankensteiner off the apron. What started off with potential literally crashed and burned on the floor. But Sasha wins with a somewhat innovative way of putting on the Bank Statement, so there’s that.
  • At this point I was hoping the show was over, but the College Football Championship wasn’t much better so, rock and hard place, ya know?
  • This match between Rollins and Ambrose is hopefully the end between them for a while. There was action I suppose, but it was a hollow match, there was nothing compelling or no real reason to be invested in it anymore. They moved to the back, through the crowd and then back to the ring, and I didn’t care. They exposed the cement, I didn’t care. The best thing to come from this was Lashley getting involved and finally getting his huge chorus of boos because people were mad at him aside from just being annoyed at Lio Rush.

Overall Score: 4/10

A pro for Raw was that there was a good bit of wrestling, however, it was mediocre to poor, so that pro…turned itself into a con. Maybe this will set up a few storylines, but currently it’s painful, same ole same ole, and less entertaining than golf being played in molasses.

 

SmackDown Live Ratings:

  • R-Truth vs Daniel Bryan – Bryan wins via Knee Plus –  ** 1/4
  • Andrade Almas & Samoa Joe vs Rey Mysterio & Mustafa Ali – Almas wins via Hammerlock DDT – *** 1/4
  • The Bar vs The Usos – Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ***
  • #1 Contender Triple Threat – Becky Lynch vs Carmella vs Charlotte Flair – Lynch wins via Dis-Arm-Her – *** 1/2

Review Notes:

  • Daniel Bryan starts off the show at the concession stand ranting about processed foods, soda, hot dogs, just being a general Buzz Killington about junk food. As he’s proceeding down there crowd there were a couple Elite and Nick and Matt Jacksonville shirts in the crowd, so I guess WWE didn’t kick out everyone wearing AEW stuff. Small notice, Daniel did say Change the World. Hold onto that, because more to come since R-Truth ambushes Bryan before their apparent match and goes all buck wild on him.
  • The match was fine, Truth showed a lot of fire that we haven’t gotten to see in a long time and if they wanted to push him, hey, they could. But Bryan catches him with one Knee Plus and Truth is out for the 3.
  • Tag match was a big highlight. Mysterio and Almas have great chemistry as shown by the very lucha spot of the head stand, hands clasped luchroll spot that turned into a very smooth Canadian Destroyer from Mysterio on Andrade. Give me like a best of 27 between Mysterio and Almas all year, I’ll watch it. Oh there were other people in this match…they did things, but Almas got the pin on Mysterio to hopefully set up that epic 27 match gauntlet. 1 match for every kid Heath Slater has.
  • Usos hype up the crowd before the match and they come out…and what do you expect? These are 4 of the best workers in WWE, it was a solid TV match. Of course Mandy Rose comes out in a towel making it seem like she left her clothes at Jimmy’s place, which gives Cesaro the opening. But it continues the storyline, so fine. Miz comes out after to challenge them to a match at Rumble against him and Shane, Sheamus hits  Brogue Kick before Cesaro says yes.
  • Shane and Miz are an amusing tandem because all of their segments are kinda awkward, yet charming. Plus watching Shane come around slowly to Miz’s way of doing things is funny. It feels like they might be setting this up for as soon as Shane fully trusts Miz and is excited for the team, then Miz is over it or turns on him. I kinda hope not because Miz could do some good work staying more comedic this year.
  • Triple threat was great. Carmella has been stepping up a lot in her last few important singles matches where they let her actually wrestle. A few nice false finishes for all the women before Becky takes advantage of Carmella getting a little too cocky and slaps on the Dis-Arm-Her for the submission victory. The fun thing I noticed in this match was apparently Becky did the Stunner in house shows, and there’s been a lot of Stone Cold comparisons, and she did the Stone Cold style Thesz Press by raining down punches after landing the press. So Asuka vs Becky is now actually official for Rumble.

Overall Score: 7/10

Really good show, could’ve ranked higher if the matches had a little more time, but for a 2 hour show, nice balance, good stuff. I made mention of the Change the World line in Bryan’s promo, because commentary made it a point to call the talent Elite at some point. I forget exactly since this is later than I’d usually be writing this up, but it’s suspect. Plus Buddy Murphy even dropped the Elite word in a recent Tweet. So the petty aspects of Vince know no bounds. Trying to subconsciously insert these words into the WWE product before AEW goes national so it’s not easily synonymous. Clever…but still like – Richard Petty.

 


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Opinion

King: Top 5 Championship Matches in WWE Royal Rumble History

Chris King looks at the best championship matches that have taken place at a WWE Royal Rumble event!

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2020 WWE Royal Rumble

Chris King looks at the best championship matches that have taken place at a WWE Royal Rumble event!

I have gone back in time to reflect over Royal Rumble’s over the last decade. From 2012 to 2022 the WWE Universe bared witness to some amazing matches including AJ Styles defending his WWE Championship against Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn, The Rock defeating CM Punk and ending his historic championship reign, and even the ‘Beast Incarnate’ Brock Lesnar successfully defending his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against John Cena & Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins in a classic triple-threat match.

Here are the top five championship matches at the Royal Rumble over the last decade.

Honorable mentions:

  • Brock Lesnar VS. Finn Balor (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2019
  • Brock Lesnar VS. Kane VS. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2017
  • Randy Orton VS. John Cena WWE World Heavyweight Championship (Royal Rumble 2014)
  • Daniel Bryan VS. AJ Styles (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2019

Top 5 Royal Rumble Championship Matches 

5. Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2017

In August of 2016, the WWE Universe was shocked when Triple H turned on his former protege Seth Rollins and essentially handed the Universal Championship to Kevin Owens in a crazy fatal-four-way match. Over the next few months, Owens and Chris Jericho would become best friends and true enemies of Rollins and former Shield-mate Roman Reigns. After Reigns was screwed out of the title at Roadblock they would deliver a Shield bomb through the announce table to Owens.

Reigns and Owens would battle again at the Royal Rumble this time, Jericho would be locked inside of a shark cage to prevent interference. Both superstars delivered an impressive performance and threw out everything to defeat one another. Reigns was minutes away from winning the Universal Championship until Braun Strowman obliterated him, which allowed Owens the conniving champion to keep his title.

4. CM Punk vs. The Rock (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2013

The self-proclaimed ‘Best in the World’ CM Punk was on a complete tear going through the roster successfully holding the title for a historic 434 days. At Raw 1000, The Rock came back and challenged whoever was the champion at the time to a WWE Championship match at Royal Rumble. Later in the night, Punk would turn heel attacking ‘The People’s Champion’ and aligning himself with Paul Heyman shortly afterwards.

The Shield would work as mercenaries for Punk to retain his title since the 2012 Survivor Series where they debuted. Vince McMahon informed Punk that if The Shield got involved in the championship match he would be stripped of the title. After twenty minutes of back and forth action between champion and challenger, the lights went out and The Shield interfered yet again. McMahon came out to strip Punk of his championship but, The Rock had other plans and the match was restarted. The People’s Champion would deliver the People’s Elbow to end the historic reign of Punk.

3.  Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins (Universal Championship): Royal Rumble 2022

‘The Head of the Table’ Roman Reigns had conquered all of his challengers on Friday Night SmackDown, so a handpicked wild card was chosen from Monday Night Raw to challenge for the Universal Championship. Enter Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins. The two former Shield-mates had faced each other in the past but, this time felt different. Reigns was the arrogant and cocky heel while Rollins portrayed more of a tweener character. Rollins mocked the champion’s historic title reign and infuriated Reigns the go-home episode of SmackDown.

The Universal Championship match was the first match to open the show to a white-hot crowd. Reigns made his long grand entrance waiting for his challenger until a familiar theme erupted throughout the WWE Universe. Rollins not only mocked The Shield’s old entrance through the crowd but, was also decked in full Shield attire which pissed off the champion.

I feel like it’s impossible for these two superstars to have a bad match. They have incredible chemistry whether as partners or rivals. Reigns locked in his challenger with the Guillotine Choke but Rollins made it to the ropes. The Tribal Chief was relentless and would not break the hold so Rollins won by disqualification.

2. AJ Styles vs. John Cena (WWE Championship): Royal Rumble 2017

Let me start of by saying this was a very difficult choice to make because I went back and forth on making this number one. ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles shocked the world in 2016 not only for turning heel on John Cena but, beating him at Money in the Bank via shenanigans and SummerSlam completely clean in the middle of the ring. Styles went on to have an incredible run as WWE Champion over on SmackDown Live.

Cena went off and did his own thing after a devastating loss to his rival but, came back returned in time to challenge for the title to not only become a sixteen-time champion but to tie the illustrious record held by Ric Flair. Both superstars used every maneuver in their arsenal to win the match, but it came down to the final sequence to understand where Cena’s passion lies. Mr. Never Give Up hit the Attitude Adjustment and deadlifted Styles to deliver another thunderous AA to become the sixteen-time WWE Champion. What a freaking match!

1. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (WWE World Heavyweight Championship): Royal Rumble 2015

Even though the match before was tieing the legendary Ric Flair’s championship record, I still can say with full confidence that this triple threat match is one of the best matches in Royal Rumble history. Brock Lesnar had an impressive 2014 starting off with ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, and then obliterating John Cena at SummerSlam to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

At Night of Champions Cena was minutes away from winning the title and defeating ‘The Beast Incarnate’ until the arrogant Mr. Money in the Bank Seth Rollins caused a disqualification. Leading up to the Royal Rumble, Cena and Rollins would face off in a tables match at the TLC pay-per-view, while Lesnar vanished. A huge triple threat match was set for the 2015 Royal Rumble pitting all three superstars against each other. Rollins who was still holding the briefcase bragged about if he didn’t win the title with Plan A, he would just cash-in and become the champion with Plan B.

From the moment the bell rang, the action began between Cena and Lesnar. Rollins played the manipulative cocky heel picking his moments to strike. Rollins and Cena took out The Beast on the outside to make it one-on-one. Lesnar was stretchered out of the match but miraculously came back and displayed his freakish strength taking anyone who moved to Suplex City. Rollins hit the champion twice with his briefcase and set up for the Curb Stomp. Lesnar bounced up and delivered a thunderous F5 to retain in a fantastic match.

I love this match so much because it was the first time that I believed Lesnar can deliver a great match and good story when he wants to. We’ve experienced this in his matches against AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan, and even Finn Balor. The Beast is a very smart performer and knows how to sell for his opponents to make them look like a megastar.

There you have it, those are my top five championship matches at Royal Rumble. Let me know what you think!


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Greg DeMarco’s Top 5: WWE WrestleMania 39 Opponents For Roman Reigns Not Named The Rock

The Road to The Royal Rumble is here, which means we will soon have an opponent for The Tribal Chief! Greg DeMarco explores potential candidates…

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Roman Reigns Seth Rollins WWE WrestleMania 39

The Road to The Royal Rumble is here, which means we will soon have an opponent for The Tribal Chief! Greg DeMarco explores potential candidates…

Daddy’s back with something for you that is meant to be fun–and a distraction from the news surrounding Vince McMahon’s (likely terrible) return to WWE. Being a fan is meant to be fun, and one of the most fun things we get to do is look ahead to WrestleMania.

The main question, for this article at least, is who will be Roman Reigns’ opponent at The Granddaddy Of ‘Em All? Now everyone wants it to be The Rock, so we will explore the alternatives to that match.

In order to do that, I am making the following assumptions, even if some might not be true in the end:

  • Roman Reigns only wrestles one match, the final match on Night 2.
  • Roman Reigns is defending both the WWE and the Universal Championships in that match.
  • Roman Reigns–and this is just purely me–is not losing.

Honorable Mentions

I did have a few ideas who simply didn’t make the list. Check ’em out:

  • Drew McIntyre – Simply put: Why? Why would we put Drew McIntyre against Roman Reigns in a football stadium when we just saw him against Reigns in a football futbol stadium last fall?
  • Kevin Owens – Similarly, why would we do this right after we do it at the Royal Rumble?
  • Karrion Kross – Ok, now I’m just trolling you. He ain’t the guy, brother–not with this gimmick.
  • Ricochet – Personally, as an underdog babyface against Roman Reigns, I love Ricochet winning the Royal Rumble and challenging The Tribal Chief. But we have a better underdog on the list already.

With that all out of the way, it’s time to have some fun. I give you…

My Top 5 WWE WrestleMania 39 Opponents For Roman Reigns Not Named The Rock

5. Sami Zayn

The bloom is off the rose for Sami Zayn, at least in the eyes of The Tribal Chief. The eventual turn is one of the most telegraphed things in recent memory, and in this instance that is perfectly fine. Sami Zayn is insanely over, and him fighting the uphill battle with The Bloodline would get him Daniel-Bryan-Danielson-at-WrestleMania-30 levels of heat along the way.

People love Sami Zayn. His awkward charm and seemingly unlimited charisma won over the audience so well that his storyline with The Bloodline had to get extended multiple times over. However, it’s obviously coming to an end.

The obvious match is Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn against The Usos, but you could also slot Kevin against Solo Sikoa if Sami were to indeed get the nod.

4. Bron Breakker

You probably think I’m crazy, and I totally get it. Bron Breakker comes from NXT and goes right to the WrestleMania main event?

If you want to create a new star in Bron Breakker, this is how you do it. (At least, it’s one way you can do it.) Look at Roman Reigns himself–part of the story of his WrestleMania 31 challenge of Brock Lesnar was that he was growing into the role. JBL told the story on commentary, and the match was all about Roman ascending to the level of Brock.

Of course it was all the perfect set-up for Seth Rollins to give us the greatest Money In The Bank cash-in in WWE history, but in the process Roman proved that he belongs.

So make this year’s Royal Rumble the ultimate opportunity–the most shocking winner since Rey Mysterio, the NXT Champion Bron Breakker.

3. Seth (Freakin’) Rollins

Seth Rollins seems to be in a never ending program with Austin Theory, and it’s time to move on. Seth is an automatic main eventer in WWE at this point. He’s a made man, probably the next biggest star (on the men’s side) in WWE after Roman Reigns.

And he also has a very specific distinction that no one else has: a singles victory over Roman Reigns since he made his huge return in 2020. Yes, it was by disqualification, but he has proven his abilities to get inside the head of the Tribal Chief.

And Seth Rollins is going to have a match at WrestleMania, and 50,000+ in Sofi Stadium are going to be singing his song. Might as well be in the match that closes WrestleMania Night 2.

2. Sheamus

This is purely a match on my playlist–but this is MY list. And to me, Sheamus makes perfect sense.

In fact, I thought the feud between The Bloodline and The Brawling Brutes would lead to Sheamus challenging Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble. And had Sami Zayn’s involvement in The Bloodline not taken off the way it did, we still may have.

Sheamus is more popular now than ever, and at 44 years of age he is doing some of his best work. Sheamus winning his second Royal Rumble and challenging Roman Reigns would be the Lifetime Achievement Award he deserves.

But it’s more than that! The match? It would deliver in a big way. History? There’s plenty between Sheamus and Roman, going back to when Sheamus cashed in Money In The Bank on Reigns, and when Reigns eventually beat The Celtic Warrior to win one of his world championships. The fans? They would be solidly behind Sheamus, and would go nuts for every near fall. Don’t sleep on Sheamus as your WrestleMania 39 main event opponent for Roman Reigns.

1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Full credit for this idea belongs to PC Tunney and Dave Ungar, as shared in the Chairshot Radio Twitter DM thread. And it’s steal-worthy indeed.

Three major legendary names are rumored for WrestleMania 39: The Rock, John Cena, and Steve Austin. All three make sense for a multitude of reasons. But The Rock will be launching a football league (which might be a reason to do this–the publicity), and is still in insane demand in Hollywood. Cena seems to be free at the present time, and we’ve seen the videos of Austin working out.

Remember, I am assuming Roman Reigns is going to win. If that’s the case, then this WrestleMania is but another moment in Reigns’ legacy. Why not add Steve Austin to his list of victories?

It would sell. ✅
The fans would buy it. ✅
Austin proved he can go. ✅

This type of match is what WrestleMania is all about. If it’s not The Rock, it should be “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

And there you have it, my list of–

Wait a minute Greg, what about Cody Rhodes?!?!

Man, I thought I could slip this one past the goalie!

Cody Rhodes is a great question. But you have to look at my assumptions above. I am assuming Roman only wrestles one match, defends both championships, and–most importantly–doesn’t lose. Given those assumptions, you want Cody Rhodes as far away from this match as possible.

If we do split the titles, then Cody needs to be the guy to walk away with the WWE Championship. He does that either over Seth Rollins, or in a triple threat on Night 1 against Reigns and Rollins–but Rollins still eats the fall.

But under my conditions, losing at WrestleMania doesn’t do anything for Cody.


What do you think? Let me know on social media!

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Until next time, remember: enjoying wrestling is a choice…make the right choice!


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