Before the WWE Royal Rumble, we watched another new episode of ROH TV (#226). In this episode The Addiction defeated the team of Alex Shelley and ACH. After the match The Addiction went crazy and Christopher Daniels got suspended by Nigel McGuinness when he hit a referee and was about to go after Shelley with a hammer. As The Addiction (Kaz and Daniels) worked over Shelley post match the fans chanted "Motor City" in hopes that Chris Sabin would save his former tag team partner. I'm not sure why because it may or may not have happened out there somewhere already, but I really want to see Motor City Machine Guns vs. The Addiction and that, my friends, is how to book professional wrestling.
After Mark Briscoe defeated Adam Page, BJ Whitmer got on the mic to call out Steve Corino, who was doing commentary under a mask as Mr. Wrestling 3, and apparently even Steve Corino's son is in wrestling now and hanging out with Whitmer and Page. (Side Note: Steve Corino's son looks like he wants to be CM Punk but has got wrestling in his blood because he also wears leather pants) I'm not sure what this is leading to other than Steve Corino vs. BJ Whitmer but at least it feels like a step above when Sandman and Raven feuded over Sandman's son in ECW.
Silas Young cut a promo at ringside before the main event and I kind of like this guy. He reminds me of someone old school like a cross between Rick Rude, Sgt. Slaughter and Jake Roberts. Not many in professional wrestling have that psychology today and there is a bright future for Silas Young I'd say. One day, he could end up in WWE and in a two pack of action figures in a "then and now" sense with any of those names two sentences back.
In the main event Adam Cole and Mike Bennett made their way to the ring and as reDragon entered they got superkicked by the Young Bucks and then everyone got superkicked by the Young Bucks. I thought I wouldn't have to see Mike Bennett and Maria anymore, since they're gone to TNA, and yet here they are. Oh well. Maria took a pretty hard hit from the Young Bucks in this match and I kind of hope that is her send off. At one point on the outside, someone ducked a superkick which ended up connecting instead with Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino (as Mr. Wrestling 3) exploded with "KEVIN KELLY IS DEAD!!" and I laughed a little bit too hard at that I think. The Young Bucks won the match thanks to an appearance by AJ Styles and as much as I don't like the Young Bucks I did enjoy seeing AJ Styles.
The WWE Royal Rumble was one of the first WWE pay-per-views I actually watched live in quite some time because I usually end up doing other things and having to catch them later on the next day or during the week, depending upon my interest level in them. All I was doing during the opening matches was counting how many matches would be left until the Rumble itself. Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens had the undercard match of the night, while Kalisto winning back the U.S. Title made little sense to me. Now he is a two time U.S. Champion, okay, but why give it back to Alberto Del Rio just for him to lose it again so quickly? Is WWE even paying attention to their logic?
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch just fell so flat I never believed that Becky was going to win the match even if Ric Flair wasn't at ringside helping his daughter along. Sasha Banks coming out after the match and attacking both competitors gave the WWE women's division the shot in the arm it needed since there are so many talented women in WWE right now and I find myself wondering so much about why Charlotte and Becky Lynch were given this spot on the PPV.
The Rumble match itself was one of the better ones in recent memory-- possibly among the best since the 2000 Rumble. I felt badly for Rusev, coming in and going out so quickly as he could have been a dark horse to win the whole thing. AJ Styles coming in at number three was great though because we were all waiting for him and to get him so early on was great. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania anyone? I also really liked the reaction he got. So many people complain that wrestling outside of WWE only accounts for such a small percentage of the WWE fanbase that if someone like AJ Styles or Samoa Joe made a surprise appearance in the Rumble match no one would know who they even are (This has been said for years and years, not leading up to this Rumble though) Being in Florida probably helped too, but I think it's only a matter of time now before AJ Styles becomes Mr. Money In The Bank.
Having AJ Styles come out so early made way for other surprises which we really only got in the form of Sami Zayn and HHH. If there was anyone to eliminate AJ Styles it had to be Kevin Owens, but if anyone was going to eliminate Owens it had to be Zayn. Could these two get some kind of great Wrestlemania match as well? Please? Or just throw them both into a MITB match.
I've just always wondered why certain guys were allowed to be in the Rumble, especially this year since it was for the title. Do you actually see Stardust becoming WWE Champion? There were a few names we knew wouldn't be winning and I was glad to see that Jack Swagger and Mark Henry won their pre-show match to get into the Rumble only to each be eliminated so quickly. At least this Rumble wasn't filled with a lot of tag teams because I don't think anyone ever expects "one half of ____" to win it all.
The Wyatt Family, however, did serve a purpose in the Rumble and, yeah, it looks like WWE will be going with Bray Wyatt vs. Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania or some kind of version of that which could become a multi-person tag team match. I guess this frees up Kevin Owens to hopefully face Sami Zayn and then whoever Dean Ambrose defends the IC Title against, though I could see all three of those men in the MITB match if they do one at WM this year. I also just feel like more should have been done to focus on the fact that if Dean Ambrose won the Royal Rumble match he would become WWE Champion and IC Champion at the same time. Maybe I just don't listen to Michael Cole enough, but it wasn't until the closing moments of the Rumble when I heard them finally make mention of it.
To show the level of how much I liked this Rumble match- when it came down to the final four I was excited to see Roman Reigns get eliminated but then when it was just HHH and Dean Ambrose I was really pulling for a Dean Ambrose win. I know that HHH winning would make the most sense and bring them to a match at 'Mania, but they didn't need the title. Also, imagine if Roman Reigns had to fight his way back into the main event at Wrestlemania and if he did so it'd be only to face his "brother" Dean Ambrose. That seems a lot more fitting than someone who hasn't been seen on WWE TV (I guess NXT doesn't count?) since Reigns injured him. Yeah, I would have preferred HHH returning at Fastlane but what can you do? I'm not booking WWE because they won't reply to my emails.
Following the Royal Rumble, the night after on Raw, WWE seemed to take a strange turn. The Authority announced they'd be keeping an eye on everyone to determine a number one contender to the title for Wrestlemania and they made the triple threat match for Fastlane with Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar. This doesn't really stack the deck vs. Roman Reigns (You think instead of Dean Ambrose they'd have the League of Nations in this match, well, the ones who aren't injured anyway) but why give Reigns another chance at the title in the first place? Make him go to the back of the line. Tell him he's going to be on the Wrestlemania pre-show against Fandango. I don't know, do something that actually feels like punishing him instead of allowing him that chance to win the title back. You know... If they really do hate him so much and all of that.
Does anyone else want to explore the scenario that Dean Ambrose and Romain Reigns face each other at Wrestlemania while Brock Lesnar challenges HHH for the title? No, I didn't think so. Most likely, the Wyatt Family takes out Brock Lesnar at Fastlane and it's HHH vs. Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania and we hope for a decent undercard.
Meanwhile, AJ Styles had his first match on Raw against Chris Jericho. It was a decent enough match but with more build I feel like these two could be main eventing Wrestlemania instead. Speaking of main eventing Wrestlemania, The Rock also returned to Raw to give some shine to New Day. It's hard to get behind The Rock when he makes these random appearances and a team like New Day are on every show. I tend to side with New Day or whoever Rock is trying to put over in some way. Did anyone else think that The Rock was more obnoxious than usual? It felt like he drank way too much Red Bull or something and his whole persona just felt so overbearing. I also found it somewhat cringeworthy to watch that segment with Big Show because, I mean, Big Show has been in movies and has had his shot, so really, it's not like if he was The Scorpion King he would be where The Rock is now. (Adam Sandler Says: Captain Insane-O shows no mercy!)
Did anything else of interest happen on Raw? Not really. It felt like such a tame show for being the night after a rather impressive Royal Rumble and, well, we are on the Road to Wrestlemania so I was hoping for a little bit more hype and it really felt like just another Raw. Sure, The Rock came back but I still don't feel like he's wrestling at WM32 so it doesn't feel like that big of a deal to me and more like a matter of The Rock wasting time now and then wasting more time at Wrestlemania.
This week on Impact we had the fallout from Matt Hardy turning heel and the Feast or Fired
match. I think both went about how you'd expect. In the Feast or Fired match, Eli Drake earned a King of the Mountain title match, James Storm earned a tag team title match (Beer Money, obvs) and Drew Galloway earned a TNA Title shot. So, this left Grado as being the one who is fired. What strikes me as funny though is that during a match between Awesome Kong and Velvet Sky, Josh Mathews made a remark about how Velvet Sky was fired in the Feast or Fired deal last year only to be brought back because she wasn't actually in the match (So Robbie E. or whoever should have been fired instead and I'm pretty sure he's still with the company) so basically they're saying Grado is fired but at the end of the day it doesn't matter because he can still earn his way back in somehow.
Another one of Impact's blunders had the new stable of The Decay (who I really like now) come out to challenge the American Wolves for the tag team titles. Well, Josh Mathews seemed so shocked to learn that Crazzy Steve's tag team partner was Abyss when I clearly saw it last week and said so in this very column. Oh, if only TNA put me on their payroll and fired Josh Mathews. In any event, Crazzy Steve is now paired with Abyss and a woman they call Rosemary and though she looks a lot like Heidi Lovelace in makeup I am told she is not. I like this group so far because it's not too much like The Menagerie and though their theme sounds like Marilyn Manson at least it's not ICP. (I do believe it is the Marilyn Manson song called "The Nobodies". Thanks, Billy Corgan!)
So Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy faced each other in the main event of Impact and this had the potential to be a great feud between the two brothers and TNA has already seemed to manage to screw it up. Oh, but hey, Gregory Helms is going to challenge Tigre Uno for the X Division championship next week, so at least we have that bright spot to look forward to or whatever. Here's to hoping one day Jeremy Borash wakes up and realizes these past few years of TNA were all just a bad dream. Here's to hoping something can be done with Matt Hardy and this title since they don't appear to be switching it again in another couple of weeks. Well, who knows, in two months or less it might very well go back to EC3. That's just the way TNA seems to be booking these days.
I think my biggest problem with TNA right now is that they have all of these interesting facets to their brand and they just don't ever seem to execute them properly. The Decay is in the tag team mix and now Beer Money will obviously be as well, so that should add some level of depth to the tag team divison (And there are other teams who are just busy doing other things as well) It looks like Jeff Hardy might feud with Eric Young and the whole KIng of the Mountain Title is pretty pointless though Eli Drake has that briefcase and, well, just more pointlessness. Mike Bennett somehow has to figure into all of this as well. Then we have the main event scene which features Matt Hardy as champion, EC3 as maybe becoming a face, Kurt Angle, Bobby Lashley and Drew Galloway with the title shot briefcase. It's like TNA is being given all of this clay to sculpt this great work of art and they're just going to give us some lousy ashtray.
Smack Down! wasn't really that bad of a show up until the end. Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Chris Jericho vs. The Wyatt Family was an okay match (Haven't we seen it before at a pay-per-view though?) but did we need that Braun Stroman/Big Show confrontation? It's kind of strange how close in size the two are and, yeah, I get it-- this is probably some sort of weird passing of the torch for the two big men but I really wish we didn't have to see it. Is there going to be a four on four match at Wrestlemania involving Big Show, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar and maybe Sting or someone? I don't know and I really don't care at this point.
The star of Smack Down! this week was clearly Curtis Axel. I've always kind of liked the son of Mr. Perfect but when he was aligned with Paul Heyman and won the IC Title it seemed a bit more than forced. I actually was reminded of how much I enjoy him while watching "Swerved" on The WWE Network. In any case, he is still a good wrestler and I think this Social Outcasts faction could be great for all four members. It especially somehow brings out the best in Bo Dallas as well and he's just always been money in my eyes. Could we somehow get Damien Sandow and Fandango in on it too though??
Lucha Underground returned this week with an opening segment out of a bad movie where Vampiro escapes from a mental hospital in order to return to The Temple. When Vampiro and Matt Striker got into that car and Vampiro looked at his pill bottle, I expected him to throw it out of the car when they were driving, Thelma and Louise style. Ah well. Catrina is running things now since Mil Muertes is champion. Phoenix lost his title to King Cuerno and for the first time a woman challenged for the Lucha Underground Championship as Ivelisse nearly won the title in a rather great match. What I find funny (and Lucha Underground does tapings, but I don't read the spoilers) is that last season once Prince Puma won the title he held onto it for the rest of the season until the very last episode. So people (like me) might think that we're going to see the same thing this season with Mil Muertes holding the title all season long, so an upset victory on the first episode would have come as a surprise. Plus, I can't be the only one who wants to see Ivelisse as champion, right??
NXT this week felt like it had more matches than usual, especially since there was this big main event to determine a new number one contender to Finn Balor's NXT Title. Jason Jordan and Chad Gable- or "American Alpha"- defeated Blake & Murphy. Wow, how far have Blake & Murphy sunk now? From tag team champions to losing here it feels like Blake & Murphy could be split up and have a run as singles wrestlers while it feels like American Alpha should be on the main roster after Wrestlemania.
Nia Jax squashed Liv Morgan and, yes, I really want to see Nia Jax vs. Asuka. Can we move Bayley to the main roster after Wrestlemania and have a series of matches between Nia Jax and Asuka for the NXT Women's Title? Please?? Alex Riley made his return to defeated Bull Dempsey (who needs a makeover with Blake&Murphy) and, well, was anyone really excited to see Alex Riley? I've never been a fan of the guy- as a wrestler or commentator- and if you will recall he gave up his spot at the announce table to go after Kevin Owens and even though he had more than one shot at Owens he lost them all. I know it feels like an insult, but it's really more of a fact now to simply say that Alex Riley is a loser and it's going to be hard to get past him being anything other than The Miz's sidekick.
Elias Samson had another squash match and I kind of am beginning to wish they'd seem like they were putting him into a program of some sort. I feel like this is where NXT would utilize Tyler Breeze if he wasn't up on the main roster because Elias Samson certainly is an uggo, but at the same time if Samson is to be a heel then just bring out one of the fan favorites of sorts... I don't know (or care), put him in a feud with Bull Dempsey to see if he sinks or swims. Just do something with him already.
The main event was fun and when it came down to both Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe applying submission holds to Baron Corbin, who tapped out, I can't help but think how it kind of made Corbin look bad but yet at the same time he was being double-teamed so he kind of has an excuse there. How long has Baron Corbin been in NXT anyway? I feel like with all of the injuries on the main roster he could be moved up soon and he should be, really. He has the type of character WWE looks for, the size and all of that. Send him up and let him wreak havoc. Give him some squash victories and then put him in feuds with midcarders who won't lose much by taking some losses to him. (I'm looking at you, Ryback) People will say he's not ring ready yet but that can't be true. I mean, they did bring in Braun Strowman from wherever and that dude makes Baron Corbin look like the best technical wrestler to ever live.
Still, as much as I dislike Sami Zayn I feel like he might have had the case for winning this match because he had his submission hold locked on first. Then you could argue that Samoa Joe was the straw that broke the Corbin's back and so his added pressure had Corbin submitting, but really, I feel like since Zayn was in there first he should have been declared the winner, plain and simple. I don't like Sami Zayn and I won't get into why or the degree of it, but just know that the level of which I dislike Zayn should tell you how obvious it is that he should have won that match even if I admit it. Imagine if it was a pinfall-- you don't have Zayn with Corbin down for a count of two and then Joe jumps on and claims he held him down so he really won. No, Zayn would have been at 3 when Joe was still back at 1, so Zayn would win. Same sort of idea applies here, and yet William Regal needs to go review the tape. (Hey, WWE, I'll gladly move to Florida if you want a new NXT GM)
I also watched the next episode of ROH TV this week but I'll write about that more later because this already feels like a lot and since the Royal Rumble won't be included next week there might not be as much to include, so until next week...