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Royal Rumble: Shocking Twists or Routine Roads to WrestleMania?

The Royal Rumble begins the Road to WrestleMania, but will that journey begin with shocking twists or a routine path that fans have seen before?

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The Royal Rumble is nearly here and WWE fans are busy making their predictions. Will AJ Styles regain the WWE Championship from Daniel Bryan? Will Ronda Rousey lose her title to The Boss, Sasha Banks? How many German Suplexes will Finn Bálor have to endure before he’s either pinned or he somehow manages to come away with a win over Brock Lesnar?

However, much of the speculation right now centers on the Royal Rumble Matches themselves. This is par for the course, as everyone seems to have their favorites in mind when it comes to who should get the main event shot at WrestleMania. But what if WWE pulls off some shockers?

Fans are almost always up for a surprise. That’s especially true for big events like the Rumble. The company can’t please everyone all the time obviously. But utilizing rising talents and giving them a shot is usually met with favor, even among the most jaded fans. 

WWE fans typically settle into a rhythm and that’s to be expected. After all, Vince McMahon’s company tends to feature the same rotation of stars week in and week out. It’s how they do business and it’s how other pro wrestling companies do business as well. It’s not always about forcing talents onto the audience. But when plans are set in place and rivalries are made, then those rivalries have to play out.

That takes time and it takes effort from everyone involved to move the narrative forward. Superstars in WWE pair up and work each other for weeks and oftentimes, months on end. That’s just how it goes and yes, fans become accustomed to the rhythm of it all.

But when storyline fatigue settles in, the audience gets restless. They want to see new faces, new blood and fresh angles unfold. Those moments typically come the night after WrestleMania, when Monday Night Raw becomes ground zero for debuting talent and new beginnings.

WrestleMania has historically always been reserved as the night for the payoff. Superstars work all year to get to the grand finale, which means there’s often very little room for any real twists. The story is wrapping up and new chapters must be written. So is it wise to expect the company will do business any differently in 2019?

The problem with the usual routine is that it’s a bit too routine. Many fans believe that the main event of WrestleMania 35 will feature either Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey, or perhaps all three. If that’s true, then this will indeed be a groundbreaking Mania. 

All three women put in maximum effort last year to reach the top of the company. There’s no doubt that they deserve the main event spotlight that only The Showcase of the Immortals will provide. So unless someone else does happen to step up and shock the world in the months leading to WrestleMania, the women’s division is set and good to go. The main event awaits them and they have most definitely earned it.

But while The Women’s Royal Rumble may or may not impact Mania, things are a bit cloudier on the men’s side. Monday Night Raw’s Brock Lesnar will defend his Universal Championship against Finn Bálor on January 27 and there’s really no way to know who will walk away with the title.

History has shown that Brock rarely ever does the honors for anyone. So that means that Finn will likely be no different. The company may have suddenly thrown the spotlight on Bálor, but his fans have always supported him. They “believed” he could do it long before WWE told them to believe in him. Maybe the effort to persuade the audience to buy into Finn as the man to overthrow Lesnar is indeed nothing more than an effort. 

So if Finn’s fate is “suplex, repeat,” then he will likely lose at The Royal Rumble. If that happens, then who will win the Men’s Royal Rumble Match and conceivably give Brock a true test at WrestleMania? Even if the last man standing in the Rumble has all the momentum in the world on his side, what makes anyone believe that Brock will fall on The Grandest Stage of Them All?

But there’s a bit more to work with on SmackDown Live. Daniel Bryan may or may not, lose the WWE Championship to AJ Styles. There’s a future for both men either way. The man that wins the Rumble could challenge the WWE champion and there’s plenty of reason to believe that the match could go any number of ways. There just seems to be more options with the blue brand. 

So what happens if Andrade wins The Royal Rumble and then sets his sights on the WWE Championship? For that matter, what if he goes on to WrestleMania and actually wins the title? Some fans would argue that it’s too soon for him and that he needs more time. But considering how long the company waited with Braun Strowman, there’s really no way to know if keeping Andrade at his current level is the right thing to do. 

Strowman’s main event prowess hasn’t exactly become the stuff of legend. Would the same be true for Andrade whether WWE moved now or later? Is it more likely that Randy Orton could come from out of nowhere, win the Rumble, then go on to face Daniel at WrestleMania?

The fact is that opening up the field to more prospective main event talent would create a more exciting product. There are risks involved of course but the potential reward may warrant that risk. Are fans living in a world in which Drew McIntyre could win The Royal Rumble, then face Finn Bálor for the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 35? Or is that just not a realistic angle? Is Seth Rollins versus Finn Bálor a more bankable match or is it more likely that Batista could stun the world and show up at the 29th spot, win the Rumble, then face Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania?

It’s not that fans aren’t excited for what’s to come because they certainly are. This is WWE and in Vince McMahon’s world, anything is indeed possible. But that also means that the same old routine is possible as well. Maybe The Royal Rumble is nothing more than a pitstop on the road to WrestleMania. Perhaps that’s what it’s designed to be and nothing more. The same fans that want something different will probably stick around regardless of who wins. Or maybe they won’t. Either way, WWE will continue doing what it does. Whether or not that’s a good thing will always be open to debate.


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Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments: WWE RAW 3/1/21

Bodeen takes a look ath the Top 5 moments from an eventful episode of WWE Raw on the Road to WrestleMania!

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Bobby Lashley WWE Champion Raw

Bodeen takes a look ath the Top 5 moments from an eventful episode of WWE Raw on the Road to WrestleMania!

With just 6 short weeks left until WrestleMania, RAW once again came to us from the Thunderdome, with the main story on RAW this week being focused on the WWE Championship match between The Miz and Bobby Lashley. Despite this there were still some other moments on RAW that stood out, so without further ado let’s once again look at the top 5 moments that stood out on RAW.

5. Mustafa Ali pins Riddle

There is no denying that the booking of RETRIBUTION has been botched. While it was extremely interesting to watch Retribiution at first, Retribution soon died even after Mustafa Ali turned heel mainly due to terrible logical booking and a series of losses that made them all look weak.

However, it is still nice to see RETRIBUTION get wins back, especially when it comes to their leader, Mustafa Ali. Ali is extremely talented and has shown he can perform with the best in the ring. That is why it was so great to see him beat Riddle on RAW.

While the match between the two men was nothing special and had a bad-looking finish, it was still nice to see him beat the United States Champion in a non-title match and give RETRIBUTION and himself a small amount of credit back.

4. Miz makes Bobby Lashley wait

Over the years The Miz has grown to be one of the best heels in the business, his promos are amazing to watch and over the years Miz has learned to control any crowd as a heel. Miz’s promos though are not the only thing that has helped him as a heel, as we have seen Miz over the years use brilliant strategies to give himself an advantage in the ring.

Miz would once again use his mind this week on RAW as he used excuse after excuse throughout the night to avoid defending the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley until eventually, Shane McMahon forced him to defend or vacate the title at the end of the night.

The great part about watching this was seeing the reaction from MVP and Bobby Lashley as they grew increasingly frustrated with The Miz and his ideas as their annoyance at the start of the night turned into a pure rage after Miz retained after being counted out.

3. Damian Priest gets another win 

At first, I was somewhat worried about Damian Priest being teamed up with Bad Bunny, mainly due to the fact it feels Priest deserved more. However, after a few weeks and seeing how much merchandise Bad Bunny has been selling, the relationship between the two men can be effective for Priest especially as Bad Bunny guarantees Priest time on RAW, where he can impress fans.

Priest would once again look good on RAW this week as he pinned Elias in a solid match between the two men. It was also nice to see Priest beat Elias without any major interference from Bad Bunny, as Priest has arguably looked somewhat weaker due to the distractions from Bad Bunny in his matches.

With there being a good chance that Bad Bunny will be on WrestleMania with Preist, it will be interesting to see what will happen to Priest after WrestleMania

2.  Drew Mcintyre and Sheamus destroy each other

While this may not off been on a Pay-Per-View, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus put on an amazing match between each other and easily put on the best match of the night. The match showcased the brutal style of the two men as they traded moves with both men working extremely well together.

The match would start with an intense brawl between the two men as they gave each other a beating. After a brutal match where both men push each other to their limit, Drew McIntyre would catch Sheamus with a Claymore after Sheamus attempted a Brouge kick to win the match.

After the match, both men stared at each other potentially meaning that this is not the end of their feud as he approach Fastlane.

1. Bobby Lashley finally wins the gold 

It is hard to believe how much Bobby Lashley’s career has changed in a year. This time last year, Bobby was stuck in a never-ending feud with Lana and Rusev which had lost all credibility. Then Bobby Lashley left Lana for MVP and started The Hurt Business, where he became a dominant part of the mid-card as the United States Champion.

Even after being a dominant mid-carder for so long Lashley still hadn’t reached that next level however Bobby would finally break through the glass ceiling this week on RAW after he waited for three hours to dominate The Miz to finally become WWE Champion after what has felt like an eternity.

With Bobby now Champion the big question is, will Lashley be Champion by WrestleMania and if so, who will Lashley face?

These were my top 5 moments from RAW this week. What were your top 5 moments and what do you think of Bobby Lashley being WWE Champion? Let us know in the comments below. 


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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 2/28/2021

A weird week of matches and shows! Let’s see what made the Top 5!

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This is one of the more tame weeks. New Japan had a few big events, but let’s just say it wasn’t their best work. Then we get the announcement of combining the Intercontinental and Heavyweight to become a “world heavyweight” title, so yeah, New Japan is weird right now.

Speaking of weird, AEW Dynamite: Riho vs Serena Deeb, won the match vote last week.

This will be the voting week to round out February, and we should start March off strong with what’s coming next week!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii
    Rating: ****
  2. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (c)
    Rating: *** ¾
  3. AEW Dynamite: Lance Archer vs Rey Fenix
    Rating: *** ¾
  4. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: BUSHI vs El Desperado vs El Phantasmo
    Rating: *** ¾
  5. AEW Dynamite: Hangman Page vs Isaiah Kassidy
    Rating: *** ½

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL w/Dick Togo
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Strong: IWGP United States Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs KENTA
    Rating: *** ¼
  • IMPACT!: Chris Bey, Ace Austin & Black Taurus vs Josh Alexander, Trey Miguel & Willie Mack
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: TenCozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs The United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay)
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NXT: Zoey Stark vs Io Shirai
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs The Great O-Khan
    Rating: *** ¼
  • WWE Raw: Bobby Lashley vs Braun Strowman
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: No DQ: Santos Escobar vs Karrion Kross
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Moose vs Jake Something
    Rating: ***
  • WWE Raw: Angel Garza vs Damian Priest
    Rating: ***

5. AEW Dynamite: Hangman Page vs Isaiah Kassidy

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Kassidy runs, but Hangman follows! Kassidy leaps, into a DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Both men are down and fans are fired up! The standing count begins, the fans rally up, and both men stand at 3. Hangman runs in at Kassidy to corner clothesline him! Hangman snapmares Kassidy, runs and SLIDING- NO! Kassidy dodges, mule kicks and CHOPS! Kassidy reels Hangman in but Hangman suplexes to BRAIN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!!! Kassidy lives and “This is Awesome!” Hangman and Kassidy slowly stir. Hangman aims from a corner, runs at Kassidy, but Kassidy blocks the boot to BOOT back! And enziguri, to a POISON-RANA! Cover, TWO!?!

But Kassidy has the arm for an ARMBAR! Hangman endures as Kassidy pulls back! Hangman sits up, and gets the ropebreak! Kassidy lets go at the ref’s count of 4, and Hangman drags himself away. Kassidy gets up, runs over, but Hangman FLIPS him out to the apron! Kassidy grabs at Hangman’s arm but Hangman BOOTS him from below! Hangman runs to triangle LAR- HOT SHOT!! Kassidy counters Hangman at the right time, slithers back up to the apron, and springboards, but no Destroyer! Hangman gives him the DEADEYE! Cover, Hangman wins!!

Winner: Hangman via Deadeye

 

2t. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: BUSHI vs El Desperado vs El Phantasmo

From My Results:

Early on this was a little paint by numbers. Counters, a few signature spots to get early advantages, but the match didn’t pick up until ELP tried to take out Desperado. ELP and Despy fight up the ramp, ELP rips the mask to expose Despy’s head and pulls out the Jerry Lynn special, Cradle Piledriver right into the ramp!

ELP takes the ripped mask as a trophy, and we see a singles match between BUSHI and ELP for a good bit of time. BUSHI proves to be as stubborn as other Tetsuya’s in LIJ, and takes it to ELP fairly well. BUT – that’s not the story here. Desperado starts slowly making his way back to the ring with a new mask. Desperado comes in and goes on a warpath after ELP. Stiff looking strikes, dives that take out both of his opponents, and just an unbridled rage that makes him focus on ELP.

This of course allows for BUSHI to pick some solid spots, and after Despy returns the match really picks up. It’s also great to ELP’s heel tendencies where he takes moves from higher profile people just to turn the knife. Styles Clash, V-Trigger, an attempted One Winged Angel, Sweet Chin Music, the Undertaker arm fold pin cover, and it’s just good entertainment.

BUSHI has a great count break up where he just grabs Marty Asami’s arm to prevent the 3. BUSHI sets up for MX, but he gets caught with Sudden Death…and rolls out of the ring. So ELP has to go back to a now slowly coming back up Desperado, ELP charges, gets caught with a big right hand and not 1 but 2 Pinche Locos!

Winner: Despy via Pinche Loco

 

2t. AEW Dynamite: Lance Archer vs Rey Fenix

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Fenix goes to a corner while Archer is in the drop zone. Fenix hops up and MOONSAULTS, but Archer moves, so Fenix somersaults through! ROLLING CUTTER!! Cover, TWO!! Archer survives again and Fenix can’t believe it! Fenix hauls Archer up, Archer whips him away and runs in to ROCK him with a right! Archer puts Fenix up top, hooks legs and brings Fenix out, FISHERMAN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! Fenix survives again but Archer drags him back up! Archer goes up the corner, drags Fenix up to join him, but Fenix fights the choke grip to adjust! Archer body shots, Fenix rebounds, SUPER SPANISH FLY!! Cover, TWO!?!? How are either of these guys doing this?!

Fenix fireman’s carries, Archer pulls the mask! Fans boo, Fenix SUPERKICKS, mule kicks, forearms and CHOPS! Fenix fires up, runs, but gets DERAILED!! Both men are down but Archer fires up! Archer drags Fenix up and reel shim in, for a BUCKLE BOMB! Choke grip, CHOKE SLAM!! Cover, TWO?!?! Archer drags Fenix to a corner, hauls him up, CHOPS and inverted crucifix lifts, for the BLACKOUT BOMB!!! Cover, Archer wins!!!

Winner: Archer via Blackout

 

2t. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (c)

From My Results:

Naito focused on mat wrestling in the beginning, and it was all in effort to get to Ibushi’s knees to bring the match to parity. With Naito having well documented bad knees (including miss time during the Road to), Naito had to work to make things more even.

We see a lot of old threads get pulled on, the corner spot could reference to Naito and Omega’s G1 match, the Outside In German Suplex was something Ibushi struggled to execute before on Naito. Naito pulled out an Avalanche Diamond Dust that we don’t often see, and this was somewhat interesting. New Japan continues to implore that main events are 25+ minute matches, and lately these all drag.

Even with the fun story aspects, a few big scary spots as we’ve come to expect, the match never ascended to a great height. Naito hit Valentia and a few running Destinos, but that wasn’t enough to take out the champion. Ibushi hit Kamigoye to the back of the head, much like as Wrestle Kingdom, then we got 2 more Kamigoyes and Ibushi just falling on top of Naito for the pinfall victory!

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

 

1. NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii

From My Results:

Ishii has had White’s number lately, and just added to the broken status of his mental health after the Wrestle Kingdom loss. Within the first minute or so, Jay looked to have tweaked his hamstring, and that added an interesting layer to his early attack. But much like the strategic genius that he is, he lays Ishii over the barricade, and Ishii starts selling a rib injury.

Everything in this match mattered, the leg and ribs came back to play into aspects of the finishing sequence. Ishii was slow transitioning between some of his power moves since he was hampered with the rib injury, and Jay got caught a bit more than usual because his quickness was taken away.

A huge Avalanche Brainbuster after a Jumping Headbutt nearly gave Ishii the win, but a slow cover as he wanted the high stack, kept Jay alive. They fight back and forth, then we get a great counter wrestling sequence to finish the match. Ishii slips suplexes and Blade Runners, Jay slips the Brainbuster and eats a strike. It was up, down, back and forth, just hard to call until Jay finally slips a hold and catches Ishii with Blade Runner for the win!

Winner: Jay via Blade Runner

 

Thoughts:

Definitely a weird week when I was not a fan of the New Japan shows, and I’m not AEW’s biggest fan…but I guess the top stuff is the top stuff. My vote will go to Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii, purely because it was the only thing that really stood out during this weekend.

Personally, I hope New Japan figures it out and starts getting interesting; because I’m really going to need to consider other promotions if New Japan stays stale – you know, just to spice things up. Ugh…weird week, but yeah the White vs Ishii match is worth watching.


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