Monday, March 30, 2015

WrestleMania 31 Review

Somewhere, possibly on A1, WCMB and/or Twitter, I said that I thought this Mania might end up being "sneaky good." Based on what I am seeing online it would appear that despite the underwhelming build to this WrestleMania the show delivered.

If you follow me on Twitter (@S_ATL_Wrestling) you already know that I missed the beginning of the show.  I hope to go back and watch the missing matches tonight and will fill those reviews in after viewing.  Here's Jason Powell's WrestleMania 31 review from DOT NET and his Kickoff Show review as well if you want an alternate perspective on Mania.
  • Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title--This was a really fantastic match.  Roman Reigns received the exact welcome you would expect from the Mania crowd.  Not sure if I liked his updated gear or not, but I do like the idea of having special attire for The Show of Shows.  The match was brutal in a good way and set Roman up to "look strong," but not in the negative connotation that usually implies.  He took a beating from Lesnar, barely got any offense at all until Lesnar got posted outside the ring.  The blood was a nice touch and went a long way into selling the brutality of the match and Reigns' rally came off as completely legit.  When both guys look like they've given it their all here comes Seth Rollins to cash-in the Money in the Bank contract.  My first thought was that Reigns would end up pinning Rollins so that they could move the title from Lesnar to Reigns without Lesnar taking the loss.  They went with Rollins successfully cashing in however and it really worked.  The did a great job getting out of a tough situation booking-wise with that one.  It made the post-Mania Raw even more of a must-watch event and left some intriguing questions as it relates to Reigns and Lesnar. 
  • Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt--This did not work for me.  Bray Wyatt kicking out of a Tombstone was pretty cool.  Bray Wyatt's scarecrow entrance was absolutely perfect.  Undertaker? I kind of liked the back to basics look he had, but it was odd seeing him with regular hair.  They didn't do anything special with his entrance which added to the back to basics feel, but was a disappointment and the match itself just didn't click for me.  In large part that was due to his complete absence during the build to the match.  It's hard for me to care about a guy coming in once a year and wrestling a single match now that The Streak is broken. 
  • The Authority Segment--It looked like our standard "Let's talk about how big the crowd is" deal, but when Stephanie and Triple H started heeling it up hardcore you knew something was up.  Sure enough The Rock comes down to interrupt.  After Stephanie slaps the taste out of his mouth he goes to ringside and gets Ronda Freaking Rousey to handle Stephanie.  The Rock attacks Trips who also gets a judo throw from Ronda and then Stephanie gets manhandled by Ronda as well.  All-in-all a satisfying segment that got some mainstream attention which was a good thing.  Ronda really is the best.
  • Rusev (c) vs John Cena for the WWE US Title--Undertaker's entrance was disappointing, but Rusev's absolutely was not.  That entrance was amazing and perfect for that guy.  Cena's was fine with the ultra-patriotic theme to it and WWE does a great job with that kind of production as usual.  I said before the match that John Cena would win and it wouldn't bother me that much.  He did and became the US Champion and it didn't bother me much.  The match was excellent I thought and Rusev still looked like a million bucks.  I did not care for the tease that Rusev and Lana could be splitting though.
  • Bella Twins vs "Frenemies" AJ Lee and Paige--The Frenemies busting apart at the seams is what I expected, but I was dead wrong about that.
  • Triple H vs Sting--
  • Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins--
  • Intercontinental Title Ladder Match--A delightful disaster of a match just like I wanted and expected.  I agree with those who took issue with Dean Ambrose's bump through the ladder, but man it was cool looking.  The right guy won of course although I'd be fine with many of the guys in that thing winning so long as WWE hopefully gets serious about how they book that title.
  • Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Kickoff Show)--
  • Kidd & Cesaro (c) vs The Usos vs Los Matadores vs The New Day for the WWE World Tag Titles (Kickoff Show)--

Saturday, March 28, 2015

WrestleMania Promo Feature: Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker (WrestleMania 26)

The last WrestleMania promo I'm going to feature this year is the one I believe to be the best the WWE has produced.  This one comes to us from WrestleMania 26, the rematch between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker.  The prevous year's match was voted by the fans as the match of the year and the rematch was already being hyped to be just as good.

What this promo and many others have shown though is that the journey to getting to the rematch was heartbreaking, pardon the pun, as The Undertaker was initially against having a rematch with Michaels, but after weeks of goading, finally gave in to a rematch with one caviat, HBK put his career on the line so it became the Streak vs HBK's career.  So not only did we get a well worked match, but one filled with lots of emotion.  This promo does a great job reflecting that, going outside the box and using Placebo's version of "Running Up That Hill" as the background music in telling the story, which added to the hype. 

WrestleMania 31: Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar (C) for the WWE World Heavyweight Title

The main event of WrestleMania might be the match I am most interested in due Roman Reigns' involvement, the reaction of the fans to him, Brock Lesnar's new WWE contract, etc.  The build has been atrocious especially as it relates to getting Roman Reigns over as a face with a large segment of the audience.  All that said, I am looking forward to the match in a big way for those reasons I already mentioned.

WWE has shown this video repeatedly and it dawns on me that had the match itself been built half as well as it comes across in this video that a) Roman Reigns would be over in a big way and b) interest in this match would be high due to non-outside the ring issues.

Obviously, I have repeatedly advocated a double turn where Reigns and Heyman conspire to take the title from Brock Lesnar.  As a huge Roman Reigns fan I certainly hope that's the direction they go.  If not that then I may go with a longer term redemption story where Roman has to acknowledge that he has failed and has to start his journey to the WWE World Heavyweight Title over.  Hopefully that will give him a more defined character and time to connect with the crowd better before he is elevated back to the top of the card.   As mentioned in that previously linked post I tend to believe still that Paul Heyman has been laying the groundwork for an alliance with Reigns through his promos. 

I would also like to believe that WWE has something like that in store for us because those are really the only two scenarios that work.  If they really believe that they can play this like face Roman Reigns is taking the title from the heel Brock Lesnar then they are insane.  The crowd was going to support Brock anyway because aside from Bryan I'd say Brock is the biggest face in the company no matter the fact they pretend he's a heel of some sort.  Beyond that Brock Lesnar's announcement that he's returning to WWE will only make him a bigger face with the crowd.  As an aside I think Roman Reigns has done a really good job in his media appearances on ESPN and Conan, etc.  He comes across like a real star and I think that's what WWE saw in him when they selected him as the Chosen One.

How will this thing ultimately turn out?  I have no idea, but my gut tells me we will be looking at a "HOLY CRAP!" moment at the end of the show.  Will it be the turn?  Will it be a decisive Lesnar win?  Will Seth Rollins cash-in?   No telling, but I believe it will be something BIG.  Whatever it is we'll know by the end of Mania tomorrow and I cannot wait.  

Photo Credit: The Official Site of the WWE Universe

Friday, March 27, 2015

ICYMI: Week of March 27th...Mania Week!

Another reasonably active week here at South Atlanta Wrestling. Here's the rundown of what all we covered.

Next week should be interesting with the fallout of WrestleMania. I'm sure the focus will continue to be on Roman Reigns as him and his situation is one of the most interesting in wrestling right now.

Feel free to contact us via the comments section or better yet here is the rest of our contact information.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

WrestleMania Promo Feature- The Miz (WrestleMania 27)

This feature is going to be a little cheat here as it's not a promo, it's part of an intro.  But, this one is so good, I had to feature it.  It comes from WrestleMania 27, which took place in me and David's hometown of Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.  Even going into WrestleMania it did seem odd that we had The Miz in the main event, despite the hype being more about The Rock and John Cena. 

HOWEVER, they did give The Miz one of better intros.  It's a fantastic opening, telling his story, leading up to his entrance into the match.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Featured Match- AJ Styles vs Jason Cross vs Jimmy Rave (NWA Wildside 2004)

Ok ok, I'm a homer, but I don't care, this was a damn good match to watch live from the church of southern wrestling in Cornelia, Georgia.  This one comes from NWA Wildside, more specifically the Christmas Chaos show, which ironically took place in January.

At this point in time AJ Styles was already one of the featured performers for TNA and ROH, Jimmy Rave was also being featured in ROH as a member of the Embassy.  And Jason Cross had fought through some demons to make his return to Wildside and had reestablished himself as one of the top tier guys in NWA Wildside. 

This match took place as Wildside was ending it's run under the ownership of Bill Behrens and was definitely one of the highlights in a storied run.  The match was uploaded in 3 parts, and they're here in order.  Enjoy!


Reigns, Lesnar, and Heyman on ESPN

WWE got some nice exposure on ESPN last night with Brock Lesnar announcing the end of his MMA career and that he has re-signed with WWE. Also Roman Reigns was interrupted by Paul Heyman on SportsNation. Both videos are shared below, but in case either disappears from YouTube you can watch them on ESPN's site from this article about Lesnar's announcement

Brock Lesnar came off here like a true champion and a classy individual. It was really interesting to see him in that setting and the fact that he came across as so...charming.

Roman also handled himself well from the part of his appearance linked above and Paul Heyman was fine in what was basically a subdued version of Paul Heyman.

Now I am not saying that any of this indicates that WWE is looking to do a double-turn at WrestleMania. What I am saying is that after watching that they would be foolish not to do one. First, we know Roman is having trouble connecting with the audience in his current incarnation. I like the guy, bu that is undeniable. Second, WWE fans love Brock Lesnar. It doesn't matter how he's booked they will root for the guy. Honestly, other than having Paul Heyman at his side and the aspect that he's a bit of a bully Brock Lesnar isn't really much of a heel. As of now he's a guy who says what he's going to do and does what he says. Destroying John Cena may have heeled him with the elementary school crowd, but everyone else (at least grown men) loved it. Third, look at that visual of Paul and Roman playing nice there.  Again, it didn't happen on WWE TV so I'm not saying it means anything, but all of this should be all the evidence anyone needs that a double-turn makes sense and more importantly would work. 

Upload Credit: Fancy Mojo; SportsNationESPN

WrestleMania Promo Feature- John Cena vs Randy Orton vs Triple H (WrestleMania 24)

Today's featured WrestleMania promo is definitely one of my personal favorites.  It was the first one that the WWE produced in HD so watching it on the big screen was absolutely fantastic.  This one previews the WWE title match between Randy Orton, John Cena and Triple H.

One of the challenges of an effective promo is to tell each man's story going into the match as succinctly as possible, from both Cena and Triple H fighting back from injuries suffered months before to earn this title shot, to Orton being what he believes he is, the best of both Triple H and Cena rolled into one.  To this day, I still occasionally go back and watch it, even knowing the eventual outcome.  In my opinion one of the more epic promo videos. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Raw Review: Last Raw Before WrestleMania

The final Raw before WrestleMania is now in the books. All-in-all it was a decent outing for WWE aside from one huge misstep which was the final sell for Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania.

There's a lot to unpack here so let's dig in.
  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship build--This has to be one of the most baffling segments I have witnessed in a while and honestly the whole night was strange as it relates to the build for WrestleMania's main event.  They aired another sit-down with Roman Reigns near the beginning of the show which was fine.  They saved Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman for the end of the show.  That was also fine because that really needed to be "the main event."  Things are rocking along fine with Paul Heyman cutting yet another phenomenal promo including one very curious moment which I will revisit momentarily.  Roman Reigns enters to what sounded to me like a pretty good reaction initially, but then started heading the wrong direction.  After a brief verbal skirmish you have Brock Lesnar holding his title high above his head until Roman Reigns snatched it out of his hand which was a really cool visual.  This is precisely the moment where things went sideways though.  Lesnar attempts to get it back from Reigns and the show closes with Brock and Roman playing tug-of-war with the belt.  Honestly, in that brief moment that made for a pretty cool visual.  The problem is that in live-action it looked really goofy.  The bigger problem was that was all there was.  They fought over the belt and that was it.  There was no wild pull-apart brawl, neither guy was left standing triumphantly over the other.  The entire build to the main event of WrestleMania had just about zero physicality and it just did not work at all.  Obviously, I am a proponent of the idea that Roman Reigns needs to be aligned with Paul Heyman.  After last night they are either telegraphing that very thing or they are completely incompetent.  The one thing that gives me hope in that regard is that at one point during Paul Heyman's promo he referenced taking food from Brock's wife and kids, etc. and Brock seemed rattled or perturbed that it was brought up.  That gave further hope to the idea that Paul may be looking to jump on a new horse.  Hopefully, that is the case or else Roman Reigns is in a lot of trouble as is the WrestleMania main event.  I suppose all will be made clear in just under a week.
  • Sting and Triple H confrontation--Sting opened Raw in what was still a surreal moment despite his involvement with WWE going back to November.  The Stinger brought the goods and the crowd seemed glad to see him.  Stephanie's interruption left me with a bit of sinking feeling.  She did a fine job though until Triple H arrived just after Sting caught her slap.  In a really cool visual Stephanie retrieved the sledgehammer, but Sting came prepared as he had his bat hidden on him.  Eventually we got a face off and a hot opening to the show with Sting begging Trips to get back in the ring with him.  Perfect way to sell that match at Mania and perfect way to start Raw. 
  • Bray Wyatt promo--It was noted on Twitter that Bray Wyatt has become a very polarizing figure.  Me personally?  I'm a huge fan of The New Face of Fear and I think he did a tremendous job on Raw and on the whole building this feud without a dance partner.  That said, the build for this is lacking because even last night The Undertaker did not appear.  For me peronally, I think breaking The Streak has made me less tolerant of him popping back up for one match a year.  Bray tried his hardest, but again it's really difficult to build a feud with one member completely absent.  This is another thing that plagued Reigns/Lesnar even.  At some point you need these guys to be in the ring together to sell the tension, etc. and we didn't get enough of that in either build.
  • Rusev and John Cena--They trotted Jack Swagger back out for another match with Rusev.  Rusev got a decisive victory and refused to break The Accolade.  The announce team put over the fact that Lana wasn't there to get Rusev to break the hold so some familiar music hit and John Cena was on the way to the ring.  Rusev eventually got the better of Cena and brutalized him.  It was an excellent segment which made Rusev look like a million bucks and I don't even care if Cena wins at Mania.  They've set Rusev up as a legitimately bad man and it's awesome.  Cena's sitdown segment at some other point of the show was really solid and I really don't like John Cena.  Him explaining his motivation for wanting the US Title made sense to me and his delivery was good without the usual John Cena ham factor.  Back to the live segment, The Accolade on the announce table made for a nice visual.
  • Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins and J&J Security--Two things I took out of this were that I liked the spot where Seth Rollins hopped in the ring and tried to Curb Stomp Orton during his Viper taunt before the RKO.  Also it reminded me yet again how badly this build was botched since they continued to hammer home the idea that Orton would finally get his hands on Rollins at Mania when we all saw Orton beat the dog piss out of Rollins a couple of weeks ago.  That just makes no sense at all to me.  Oh, Orton won this match.
  • The IC Title Ladder Match sell--We got a tag match and then a one-on-one guest referee match featuring the participants.  The tag match was a fun "car crash" of a match as Booker T put it.  Ziggler went over Bryan clean and Ambrose (voted special ref) got involved after the bell to set off the predictable scramble up the ladder to try to retrieve the title.  While I get the premise that you want to preview the Mania ladder match I shared on Twitter that I'd root for whichever guy just walked away during that mess realizing that it didn't matter if he grabbed the strap on Raw.  I am looking forward to the match at Mania which puts me in the vast minority I think.
  • Axelmania Runnin' Wild--Curtis Axel shows up to ruin Snoop Dogg's fun.  Axel was hilarious.  Snoop called out the cavalry in the form of HULK HOGAN to a huge pop.  Hulk drops Axel with a punch and a bunch of people started complaining online that Axel was "buried."  Look, the dude is working an entertaining delusional heel gimmick.  Getting dropped by the Hulkster is the exact kind of thing he should be doing.  Summer Rae looked like she had no idea how to dance in that manner.  I miss Layla.
  • Everything Else
    • They did a 10 man tag match with participants of the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.  Ryback won for his team.  
    • They are teasing dissension between the frenemies Paige and AJ as Nikki offered one of them a title shot on Raw, but said they'd have to figure out who was going to take it.  Miscommunication on the outside caused AJ to blast Paige and lead to a Rack Attack win for Nikki.  That was a really good match by the way.
    • Kevin Nash is going into the WWE Hall of Fame.
    • Tyson Kidd and Natalya did a little sketch to sell some Burger King Chicken Fries.  I only mention that because Burger King was my first job.
    • The Miz and Damien Mizdow sat down with Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell to promote the new film Get Hard.  This actually worked for me because it did move the Miz/Mizdow situation forward with Kevin and Will noticing that Mizdow had real star potential.  It also painted the biggest star there as a regular guy who was willing to go grab a water for Mizdow to illustrate what a huge jerk The Miz is.  The part where The Miz expected Kevin and Will to act like intolerable jerks was perfect Miz too.  They've really got something with Miz and Mizdow.  I hope they don't screw it up.
    • Six individual tag match with Cesaro/Kid/Natalya up against Los Matadores/El Torito.  The Usos and Naomi were at ringside.  El Torito pinned Natalya which was just a bizarre visual.
This Raw Review ran a bit long for my taste, but there was a lot of important ground to cover.  There should be too since it was the go-home Raw for the biggest show of the year.  This was a pretty good show that was really hurt by an unsatisfying final segment.  

The build to this year's WrestleMania has been disappointing for sure.  Having Lesnar and The Undertaker absent for the most part has really hurt both of those feuds even with Paul Heyman working magic out there.  That said, I think this may end up being a far more satisfying WrestleMania than we think it will be.  Unfortunately that may simply be true due to the low expectations.  We will find out soon enough.  No matter what I will always look forward to The Showcase of the Immortals and this year is no different.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Raw Preview: March 23, 2015

The Raw Five-Point Preview is up so as usual I will take a look at the five main talking points being pushed for tonight's show. In theory, this week's Raw, WrestleMania, and next week's Raw should be three of the best WWE shows of the year. The way the build to WrestleMania has gone I hesitate to predict that, but historically that's how it works. That said on to the Five Points.
  1. Will Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar brawl before WrestleMania?--Not sure how they are going with this, but it seems we will finally get some preview of the Mania main event with some physicality between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.  I figure whoever gets the best of that should be telling...but I wonder if we'll get something more like that wild Daniel Bryan/Roman Reigns brawl at the Raw before Fastlane than we will one guy standing tall.  I saw this mentioned elsewhere, but in this case I think the slow burn may have been a mistake.  Considering many fans are interested in this match to see how the fans react I think WWE should have started their hard sell for this sooner and had Lesnar and Reigns mix it up before tonight.  Hopefully by the end of the night we will all want to see this match a bit more than many of us currently do.  I mean I'm already in, but I know many are kind of cool to this one.
  2. How will Triple H respond to Sting?--If Sting is in fact going over at Mania (it would be a huge mistake if he doesn't) you'd figure that Triple H has to leave him laying here.  I thought Fastlane would be the time for that, but they didn't go that direction.  As of now this feud is heavily on-sided.  I know some are disinterested in this because "Sting is old" and the "match won't be any good," but sometimes WrestleMania especially is about moments, not matches.  This will all culminate in an iconic moment regardless how the match itself goes.  For a WCW mark like myself WrestleMania will be exciting and surreal when the Stinger goes one-on-one with Triple H.
  3. Does retribution await Bad News Barrett?--BNB being unable to physically hang on to the IC Title was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.  That said, they were smart to end that nonsense last week as it's time to serious it up a bit.  The tease here is that Ziggler and/or Bryan will be looking for revenge after getting destroyed with Bull Hammers last week.  I would assume that we will see all the IC Ladder Match competitors in the ring together tonight.  While I understand that many think that too much quality talent is being stuck in this one match, I look at it the other way.  I think the IC Ladder match will be entertaining as can be and some excellent sizzle for this year's Mania.
  4. Will Randy Orton get his hands on Seth Rollins?--This question would be far more interesting had they played this the right way initially.  I mean it's always good to see Seth Rollins get his, but Orton absolutely brutalized him a couple of weeks ago.  I still think this may end up being the best match at WrestleMania and I am interested to see how it plays out tonight, but I really wish they had handled this whole thing differently.
  5. Is Rusev afraid of John Cena?--Interesting question poised here as to whether Rusev is playing games with Cena or whether he is actually concerned about losing his title and his unbeaten streak at WrestleMania.  That's not a bad way to play it even with Rusev's impressive Fastlane win.  It's clear that John Cena pushed Rusev harder than anyone else has and it makes sense to play this like Rusev may not be quite as confident that he can do it again. 
Bill Simmons and Snoop Dogg will both be on Raw tonight.  It is always interesting to see which five storylines they choose to highlight in this thing as this week we get no mention of Undertaker/Bray Wyatt, Divas or the Tag Team Titles.

Despite getting burned over this before I really do believe Raw will be a good one tonight.  I certainly hope it is at least.  I'm hoping we have one of those finishes that is so hot that I'd rather stay up discussing it than go to bed.  That's my hope and expectation.  Will my expectations be met?  We'll see tonight.