WrestleMania Weekend Day Day 3 WrestleMania 32.

Day three of WrestleMania weekend was the day everybody was looking forward to more than any other. Day three was a Sunday and it was WrestleMania Sunday. The day started for me early in the morning as I had to prepare for a long day of action. Later in the day I would be joining some friends at a WrestleMania Pre-game tailgate party. So, I had to get out early to get supplies for what would be a hell of a party. I went to a local Walmart and I thought I would be able to pick up some beers for the show of shows. I did not realize that Texas had Blue Laws just like they do in Massachusetts. I might have been able to buy a gun at that Walmart but it was before noon on a Sunday. So, I was not able to buy beers. There would end up being plenty of beer at the tailgate party and then some but it was pretty lame that Texas let me down in this sense. Texas always felt like freedom to me but this law proved that Texas is just like everywhere else. It isn’t the wild west anymore and it was kind of a shock to me. After picking up some non-alcoholic drinks I hailed another Uber to get to AT&T Stadium for the show of shows, the highlight of the immortals-WrestleMania32.

The area around AT&T stadium was massive. There were so many parking lots that it was hard to find the one my friends would be at. There were so many parties going on in the tailgate sections. I don’t think anything even Cowboys games would have had that same atmosphere. The friends I was meeting were people I was meeting for the first time I met up with two posters from the TPWW Wrestling forum that I have been posting at since 2009. I’ve spent many hours chatting with these guys on the forum and on TPWW’s former video channel on the defunct Justin.TV website. One of these friends was from Texas and set this whole thing up. It was a great time with him and some of his family members and another member of TPWW. We had a great time before they started letting people into the arena. The crowd was massive and this developed a huge problem. WWE devised a way to stagger the crowd so not everybody would enter the arena at the same spot. Each ticket would be assigned a specific gate close to your seats. It was a good idea in theory but not so much in reality. Nobody was told that their ticket would only be good for a specific gate ahead of time. Many people were told they could not enter the arena at the spot they were at. This meant that for the first few matches on the pre-show the arena was nearly empty. I got at the right gate so I saw everything. Some people were not so lucky. The pre-show had two matches and one of them was actually a match that has a developed story line and was for the WWE United States Championship. I’m sure Kalisto and Ryback must have felt very deflated having their match happen in a near empty crowd. WrestleMania was not the highlight of their WWE year and that was very clear. The people who were their tried their best to get invested in the match but I’m not sure how it came off on camera. Kalisto retained the title and that got whatever crowd was their on their feet in applause. Next the women involved with the show Total Divas had a 10-woman tag team match. Nothing important except at the end Brie Bella appeared to retire after winning the match. Nikki Bella came out with a neck halo from her recent neck surgery. They all celebrated the victory and the end of Brie’s career. A lot of the crowd had found their seat by that time so Brie was celebrated by most of the crowd.

This WrestleMania was marred by a bizarre set of circumstances that changed the path of this show. WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year but WWE at that time was plagues by a myriad of injuries to so many of the top WWE Superstars. WrestleMania 32 was booked in the biggest arena the WWE has ever had a WrestleMania at. They had a huge opportunity missed by so many of the injuries of the top talent in the WWE. The man who dominated WWE for the last 13 years John Cena was not able to compete at WrestleMania. The man who was the WWE Champions for the most of the calendar year of 2015 Seth Rollins was injured and not able to compete. Another top star in the Viper Randy Orton had been down with another serious shoulder injury that would keep him out of action until July. A lot of the rising stars of the WWE were also out with injury including Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, Neville, Also the retirement of Sting changed what could have been a great match with the Icon Vs. The Phenom. It was reported that a top match of WrestleMania 32 would have been a double retirement match with the Icon Sting taking on the Phenom The Undertaker. WWE was felt reeling with all of these injuries to make a show worthy of the name WrestleMania. A possible match with Seth Rollins facing Triple H was also rumored to happen. Rollins would drop his WWE Championship due to injury in November forcing a tournament. Triple H and Rollins would have feuded when Rollins would have turned face against Triple H and the Authority. Or it could have happened that Triple H would have been the one to turn face as Rollins would have gained the Authority with Stephanie. Either way the match never happened and still hasn’t happened. WrestleMania would be a unique time in the WWE. WWE would have to make due with what they had and that gave WWE a great chance to make a new fresh start in sports entertainment. WrestleMania would become the first show in a new era in professional wrestling.

The marque match of WrestleMania 32 because of injuries had to involve somebody who hasn’t had a match in nearly a decade. Shane McMahon has not been involved with the WWE in nearly eight years before coming back on an episode of Raw weeks before WrestleMania. Shane was put into a huge match with one of the biggest stars in the WWE. Vince McMahon put control of Monday Night Raw on the line against secrets Shane McMahon has against his father. Inside Hell in a Cell Shane McMahon would face the Phenom The Undertaker. In a podcast on WWE Network Shane McMahon said that the Undertaker called him up about this match and said it would be a great opportunity to make history. Inside Hell in a Cell Shane McMahon put in all on the line against the Undertaker for control of Monday Night Raw. Another one of the highlight matches would be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The champion Triple H would put the title on the line against the number one contender Roman Reigns. The final marque match would be for the newly created Woman’s Championship. It would be a Triple Threat Match for the title with Charlotte defending the Divas Championship for the final time against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch.

With all of that on the line WrestleMania would kickoff with a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. The match was won by Zack Ryder who was chosen to win by the other superstars. They all wanted to give Zack Ryder a “True Long Island Iced Z WrestleMania moment.” This match wasn’t what the WWE universe wanted. Everybody wanted WWE to have Kevin Owens defend his championship against Sami Zayn. The feud of Zayn and Owens had to be drawn out way longer on television because they didn’t take the chance on betting on Owens and Zayn in a marque WrestleMania match. They also dropped the ball having Zayn pin his longtime rival in a meaningless six-man tag team match the Raw before WrestleMania. In the match Zayn was able to get revenge and cost Owens the championship. It still wasn’t should have happened. Zayn should have won the championship in the middle of the ring pinning his rival for the first time in WWE at WrestleMania. The match itself was decent but it was not what should have been. Most of the crowd was only into this match because of Zayn and Owens. It was a real shame that they didn’t make the call on the one on one match. A real shame.

Next up was a feud that had a few months of build to it but still one that had been overused. The next match was AJ Styles taking on Chris Jericho. This match had been done a very times on WWE television and PPV already at this point. It seemed to have been somewhat done to death but they were able to pull off another great match and make the rivalry still seem fresh. The change was that the professional rivalry had turned into a bitter feud. Chris Jericho turned on Styles in a match for the WWE Tag Team title against the New Day. The team known for one night as Y2AJ was not successful in winning the titles. Jericho viciously attacked Styles after the match and then backed off from challenges from the Phenomenal one. Styles was able to pressure Jericho into accepting the match and it was on for the grandest stage of them all. It was a great back and forth match and the crowd was really into it. Jericho used the referee as a distraction to pick up a victory with a reversal into a Code Breaker. AJ Styles was defeated but the next night on Raw he became the top contender to the WWE Championship. He then also started a feud with John Cena in the weeks and months to come. Chris Jericho used WrestleMania victory to become a top draft pick in the new era of Monday Night Raw. The crowd really loved the match and that is all that matters. The feud was hot and the crowd was into it. A great match worthy of being on the card of a WrestleMania.

The next match had the crowd on their feet as they clapped along with the WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day. Walking around Axxcess I saw so many New Day t-shirts. The New Day is one of the most popular tag teams in the WWE. They came out to the ring dressed up in DragonBall Z gear and came out from a big box of Booty O cereal. It was only fair that the biggest tag team in WWE would lose on the grandest stage of them all. Of course they would lose to the one of the worst stables in the history of the WWE The League of Nations. Sheamus, Rusev and Alberto Del Rio (along with King Barrett) were able to cheat their way to victory. After winning they made the hideous claim to be the greatest group in WWE history. So of course they had to be destroyed. Steve Austin, Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels came down to the ring and laid waste to the group. There were Superkicks, Mandible Claws and Stone Cold Stunners. The New Day came back into the ring and danced with the conquering heroes. Xavier Woods (Austin Creed) was an unfortunate victim of Austin on Austin violence as he danced too much infront of Stone Cold and got the Kick-Wham-Stunner. Austin celebrated in front of his home state crowd with another Texans Shawn Michaels and non-Texan Mick Foley. The New Day would get revenge on the League of Jobbers the next night on Raw in a tag team title match. The New Day is still tag champions to this day and the League of Nations disbanded shortly after WrestleMania. The New Day was denied a WrestleMania moment but they had the last laugh. Don’t you dare be sour!
One of the most talked about match was next. In a No Holds Barred Street Fight Brock Lesnar defeated Dean Ambrose. It was talked about for months about who the Beast Incarnate would face at the biggest WrestleMania of all time. When it was announced that it would be Dean Ambrose people were surprised. Many did not see the Lunatic Fringe of being worthy of facing Lesnar. As of right now Dean Ambrose is the current WWE Champion. He now seems way more worthy of this match than he might have seemed before it. Ambrose took the fight to the Beast like no one else ever had with the use of weapons such as steel chairs, Kendo sticks, fire extinguishers and everything but the kitchen sink against the former UFC Champion. As Paul Heyman said there would be no Shield to save Ambrose from the fury of Brock Lesnar. The jumbo tron at the stadium counted each and every vicious suplex that Ambrose received at the hands of Brock Lesnar. At WrestleMania it was clear the most dangerous weapon in this match was Brock Lesnar himself. After a final F5 on top of numerous chairs Ambrose succored to the three count and Brock Lesnar was declared the victor. It was a gallant effort that Ambrose used to climb the ranks. In Lesnar’s absence there was no ill effect of the loss in the rankings for Ambrose. Dean won Money in the Bank and then cashed in on the same night to capture his first World Heavyweight Title against the returning new champion Seth Rollins. Brock Lesnar was drafted to Raw in his absence and now the WWE title is exclusive to Smackdown. Ambrose losing in a good showing probably did more for him than an easy victory. The Lunatic Fringe is now on top of Smackdown as the Ambrose Asylum is now in charge of Smackdown Live.

During the pre-show WWE Hall of Famer Lita announced that the next match would be for the new WWE Women’s Championship. In this match Charlotte would defend her Divas Championship for the last time against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch in one WrestleMania’s most talked about and possibly greatest matches. All three of these women are the face of the so called “Divas Revolution.” They all debuted in WWE on the same day on an episode of Monday Night Raw. They have used their skills to change the face of women’s wrestling since their debut and since being in WWE as a part of NXT. All three of these women were joined by NXT superstar Bayley as the Four Horsewomen of NXT. Years ago having a women’s match in WrestleMania was seen as a piss-break match. It was also usually a throw-away tag team match that could involve celebrities who had no right to be inside a wrestling ring. This time it was different. This time something important was on the line and each woman had something to prove. Charlotte would pick up the victory after a distraction from her father Ric Flair. Becky Lynch would tap out with Sasha Banks unable to break up the attempt by being pulled by Flair. Charlotte reigned supreme as the first ever WWE Woman’s Champion. As I am writing this we have a new Woman’s Champion. Sasha Banks finally picked up the victory and the title against Charlotte on the latest episode of Monday Night Raw. It was called one of the greatest Raw matches of the year and showed like this WrestleMania match that the Divas Revolution is over and that women’s wrestling is back for good.

The next contest was the Hell in a Cell for control of Monday Night Raw. Shane McMahon went to new heights literally and figuratively to try to win Raw from his father in a match against the Undertaker. Shane McMahon went to the top of the Hell in a Cell cage and tried to land an elbow drop on top of The Undertaker who was draped on the table at ringside. The Undertaker moved out of the way and Shane McMahon crashed and burned. The Undertaker would then mercifully put an end to the match with a Tombstone Piledriver for the pin fall victory. Shane McMahon lost control of Monday Night Raw but the story was not over for Shane. The next night Vince McMahon would give in and give temporary control of Raw to Shane. Shane would use that to make a new Era in WWE which would culminate in the new Draft Expansion. Shane would now be in control of SmackDown and Stephanie McMahon would be in control of Monday Night Raw. Shane stepped into one of the most dangerous matches of all time after not being in the ring in years. He really stepped up his game and helped out WWE in a major way. Shane helped out in a huge way and the future is bright with the example he showed.

The next match also showed the future in the WWE. NXT superstar Baron Corbin made his WWE debut in victory in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Corbin had his final match in NXT in a losing effort on the Friday of WrestleMania weekend at NXT TakeOver Dallas. It was decided that he would debut on the main roster at WrestleMania in the biggest way possible for him to do so. WWE right now is about the future and the former NFL star is one biggest stars of the newly minted SmackDown Live roster. He has big wins against the current number one contender Dolph Ziggler and now the former US Champion Kalisto. Time will tell if winning the Battle Royal will be what the Lone Wolf needs to make a big impact in the WWE. The crowd went crazy with chants of NXT after the victory. The crowd was a little bit drained at that point from seeing Hell in Cell. I had actually forgotten that the Battle Royal hadn’t already happened on the Pre-show as it had in years prior. The crowd was given a great story and a great moment and if the show ended at that point it would have ended on a great note. That didn’t happen because it is now time for our “main” event.

The crowd was not into the final match at all. The WWE had to use every dirty trick in the book to make sure this came off well on camera. I still haven’t seen what they turned out but I heard they did some dirty deeds indeed. In the arena every move Roman Reigns did against the champion Triple H was met with boos. Reigns was booed for the entire match. Even if he did a great move the crowd would go crazy with chants of “You Still Suck.” This match for the WWE Championship was not cared for at all. Nobody wanted to see this match except for whoever thought it up. Vince McMahon was probably the only person who thought this would have been well received. Reigns picked up the win with the Spear and then the real bullshit started. WWE had huge pyro and turned up Roman Reign’s music to full blast. They drown out the massive 100K crowd booing with all of their might. I don’t care how it came off on the WWE Network. The live crowd hated this match and hated Roman Reigns being champion. This disingenuous crap has to end if the WWE is ever to have a real future in the new era. With the aftermath Roman Reigns would go on to defeat AJ Styles in two title defenses on PPV. Reigns would then secretly (for a time) fail a drug test that would suspend him for thirty days and cause a shift in WWE booking. Reigns lost the title clean to Seth Rollins who would then be cashed in on against Dean Ambrose. Ambrose is WWE Champion and now on a different brand than Reigns or Rollins. Rollins and Reigns both lost their final re-match for the championship. Reigns lost a contendership match for a new Raw brand championship and it appears the Roman Reigns experiment is finally shown for what it is: a failure. No fake crowds or audio trickery could have him the Roman Empire has fallen.

With Raw the next night WrestleMania weekend drew to its conclusion. New stars debuted such as Enzo Amore, Colin Cassidy and Apollo Crews. WWE would draw on the popularity of Shane McMahon to create the new Brand Extension making Raw and Smakdown once again separate entities. The legacy of WrestleMania 32 will probably be that of making something really great out of terrible circumstances. Other than the main event the show was well put together and really captured the essence of what was going to be a new era in the WWE. It is the fans who make the stars in sports entertainment and people who don’t get the following of the WWE universe will not make it far in the WWE. I hope that the era of the WWE trying to tell people who to cheer and boo will finally be over. The New Era is about the fans deciding what will happen. The future looks bright and I am very proud to have been a part of this amazing WrestleMania weekend.20160403_13300720160403_164232

WrestleMania Weekend Day 2: Jim Ross and the WWE Hall Of Fame

Day two of WrestleMania weekend started for me bright and early at 2pm. Can’t remember a longer day in my life that what I went through to get to Dallas for WrestleMania. Don’t think I have ever gone to bed and fell asleep quicker than on that night. Day Two only had two items on my list so it was a good chance to stay in and sleep the jet lag away. The two events I was going to attend were a One man show starring Jim Ross and the WWE Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. I did not know what to expect from Jim Ross’s show. It was the last show that I got tickets for the weekend but they would be the best seats I would have over the weekend. I had to go pretty cheap on tickets to be able to see everything I wanted to see for the weekend. For Jim Ross I was able to get floor seats at a reasonable price. The show took place at the House of Blues in downtown Dallas. It was also within walking distance to where the Hall of Fame Ceremony was taking place at. I hailed an uber and I was off to day two of my WrestleMania weekend.

Jim Ross is a wrestling legend so I knew I had to see one of his well known and well reviewed shows. I had a good idea that the show would be somewhat WrestleMania related and would add to the overall experience. Not really sure what to expect because Jim Ross isn’t really a stand up comedian but I had seen a recording of Mick Foley’s one man show on the WWE Network. Ross also has a podcast called the Ross Report and he frequently has great interviews with people in the business not currently employed by WWE. I arrived and noticed that my seat was right next to the bar. If the show didn’t turn out well I figured I’d still be able to have a good time. House of Blues Dallas was a great location. It was a full house but it also felt somewhat intimate. The location made it a great location as the arena close by not only would host the Hall of Fame early that night but also Monday Night Raw the Monday after WrestleMania. Ross would have shows all weekend but this was the first one of his long WrestleMania work schedule. Like a lot of people Ross had also been at TakeOver Dallas so it was a long night for him on Friday too.

The show itself is mostly a blur to me right now. It’s been awhile and it was at a bar. Jim talked about his first WrestleMania experience at the ninth edition of the show. The show was a toga party and involved him announcing in full Roman regalia. The show also took a somber path as he talked about the night that cost him his career in the WWE. It was a panel about a WWE video game and he was hosting with WWE legends including Ric Flair. Flair had just lost his son Reid to a drug overdose. He was in no condition to be seen in public or interact in any capacity on an official WWE show. Flair was still grieving and in Ric Flair style was coping in the only way he knew how-binge drinking. Jim talked about how he made a off-handed remark to try to stop Flair’s depressing tone of his speech and it didn’t go over well. The video game company thought the panel went well but WWE didn’t and blamed it all on Jim Ross and not themselves for booking Ric Flair in something so close to the death of his son. Obviously they couldn’t blame themselves so they took it out on Ross. Jim kept talking about the date he was fired by WWE in the show and also stated it every time by saying “not that I’m keeping score.”

The show just like his podcast featured guest stars. Later on the weekend I’ve heard that he had Jim Cornette as a guest. Not that I will complain but on his first show his guest were Karen and Jeff Jarrett. They talked a little bit about their company Global Force Wrestling which has gathered a lot of buzz after they helped New Japan Pro Wrestling carry their big event Wrestle Kingdom IX on PPV in America. Jeff parlayed that into making Global Force Wrestling a touring company which television coming soon. They will have a lot of talent not currently in WWE and a lot of talent that has quickly left TNA Wrestling after their recent payroll and production problems. Jeff, Karen and Jim appeared to be old friends so there was a lot of playful dialogue and jabs between the three. I would have preferred to have seen Jim Corrnette myself as a big fan of his work with the Midnight Express in the NWA. The Jarretts were a great part of the show and fielded questions from the crowd. Being close to the bar was a good thing but also a bad thing. Don’t exactly remember what they talked about but I do somewhat remember a few Owen Hart stories.

With a few beers in me the show ended and I began the trip to the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony. When I arrived I noticed a sign that said “hecklers would be ejected.” Not that anybody would want to go to this show to be a jerk to WWE legends on the culmination of their careers. Still didn’t exactly like the visual censorship warning. I hadn’t eaten all day so I had to quickly get something. The Arena had a great selection of food and quickly was able to get a decent burger and french fries. I really wasn’t able to experience Dallas’s great food selection in form of barbecue or steaks. I did get to have breakfast at a WhatABurger in the airport departing back to Boston on Tuesday. Arena food is what I mostly ate during the weekend and it did not disappoint.

The Hall of Fame originally was the event I was most looking forward to. It was also the show that was hardest to get tickets for. It was not available when I was planning the trip in December and missed the opening sales day. I ended up having to pay far much more than I had planned for what was arguably the worst seats in the arena. It was a good thing that this is going to be a talking show because the seats would have been terrible if it was a visual show like a WWE show is usually based. This show was going to be speeches so it didn’t really matter where my seats would be. Didn’t really like paying 80 dollars for face value tickets at around 30 dollars but I screwed up.

The highlight of the show was the induction of the first big stable in wrestling: the Fabulous Freebirds. The Freebirds made a name for themselves in Dallas Wrestling feuding with the legendary and WWE Hall of Famers The Von Erich Brothers. The birds represented the state of Georgia in a long feud with the Von Erichs who represented Texas. It was one of the biggest feuds in wrestling history and it was appropriate that the Freebirds were inducted in Dallas where they made history. Present to accept the induction that night were Michael PS Hayes and Jimmy Jam Garvin. Two other members of the Freebirds Buddy Jack Roberts and Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy passed away in 2012 and 2001 respectively. They were honored by two of their sons who came on stage to say a few words about the Freebirds and their fathers. It was a touching tribute. After that the surviving Von Erich brother Kevin came onto the stage to talk about his family and how the Freebirds might not have been blood but they were all brothers in arms. It first seemed like the team that was chosen to induct the Fabulous Freebird was a rib on Michael Hayes. The Freebirds were introduced by the two time and current WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day. The New Day currently is a team of three superstars who are collectively the tag team champions. This in sports entertainment is called the Freebird Rule based on the fact that in its greatest incarnation the Fabulous Freebirds were a three man team with Roberts, Gordy and Hayes. The New Day talked about how they are brothers and how they learned that from the example the Freebirds set so many year ago in Dallas. The induction ended with Michael Hayes dancing around the arena floor singing the iconic theme song of the Freebirds to a captive audience. It was the highlight of the night.

The show also featured several other hall of fame speeches but nothing that came close to that. The show ended with Ric Flair inducting his long time nemesis Sting into the Hall of Fame. It was a short but sweet speech for the Stinger. Sting ended his speech by confirming that he was officially retiring from the sport in which he gave the last 25 years to. The crowd did not want to see the Stinger retire but they were very respectful after they realized this was the way it had to be. Sting will go of to to the sunset with a sold-out show. A fitting end to his illustrious career. The other inductions were also very heartfelt and poignant. I really enjoyed hearing the words of Stan “The Lariat” Hansen in particular. His speech ran a little bit long and he did seem to lose focus a few times but it was a great message. Hansen talked about in this business you are always looking for somebody great to match up against. He talked at length about how how being a great opponent made his career turn out so great. He got a big break early in his career in the WWE because WWE Hall of Famer Bruno Sammartino was looking for somebody who could match up power-to-power with the Italian superman. Hansen was able to parlay that great opportunity into a storied career that spanned decades. It all started because he was a great opponent. Also inducted were former WWE woman’s superstar Jackie Moore, Charles Wright (The Godfather), The Big Boss Man the late Ray Traylor. The rest of the speeches were short but sweet. WWE had asked to keep the speeches to “PG” so the Godfather’s speech was very very short. Godfather was a big star during the Attitude Era and his character on television was reportedly “dumbed down” to be acceptable on TV. Most characters are the real life personality turned up to to an eleven but not the Godfather. Jackie humbly accepted her induction into the Hall of Fame with a surprisingly quick speech. Not sure what happened but it appeared that her time got cut because of Stan Hansen going a little bit longer. Ray Traylor’s daughter and widow accepted on his behalf after being introduced by the Doctor of Style Slick.

The show ended with Sting’s retirement and induction. The show was a great success and everybody should try to watch the full ceremony the WWE Network. The biggest night of the weekend was fast approaching. Everybody quickly left the arena to their next destination and I rushed back to my hotel room. Tomorrow was Sunday and that meant one thing: WrestleMania 32.

WrestleMania Weekend Day 1: NXT TakeOver Dallas

A flight at five in the morning is not something anyone should experience. It was something that I never wanted to experience but there was nothing I could do. The only way I knew I would make that flight is by staying up the entire night before. I had planned on waking up late on that day but I just couldn’t make that happen. I ended up waking up at 10am on Thursday and I would be awake until 1am Friday Night/Saturday Morning. This is how the first day of my WrestleMania weekend trip began.

Work has had me too busy to do anything to document my trip to Dallas this past April. The first night was loaded top to bottom with NXT TakeOver Dallas. It was what I thought was a sold out show from the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Center in Dallas. Before that I caught the first day of the convention at the arena: WrestleMania Fan Axxcess. It was something that I wanted to experience myself once as it is a part of WrestleMania Weekend. I really didn’t know what to expect from it. I sort of regretted going as soon as I entered. It was way too crowded and the lines were crazy. So, I did not get any autographs and wasn’t able to take any photos with the WWE Superstars. The highlight of the event was being able to see a few matches at the ring they had set up for later NXT Television taping on Saturday. I ended up staying at the arena seats for most of the show before having to jet off to see TakeOver. I saw and filmed Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy have a promo and then a match against the Vaudevillians. It was also the final time Enzo and Cass would be together with their manager Carmella. Both Cass and Enzo would be brought up to the main roster the Raw after WrestleMania. So, this is the last time all three superstars would be together in WWE at least for the considerable future. It could be the final time that they are together in a WWE event period. How you doin? I also was able to snap a few photos of merchandise and memorabilia from the history of WrestleMania and the WWE Hall of Fame. The highlight was capturing a still shot of the newly minted statue for the late great American Dream Dusty Rhodes. I didn’t have anybody with me so all of the shots were just taken by me.

I could not stay long at Axxxess and it wasn’t really any loss in that. NXT TakeOver Dallas was starting soon and I could not wait. This event was the reason I took an earlier flight to be able to get in town on time. These were hard tickets to find unless you got on top of things early. Seats I had were going for 400+ on ticket re-selling seats. Good thing for me that I got the ticket the day they went on sale. I was very tempted to put mine up for sale but thought better of it. I ended up making kind of a mistake because they put more seats for sale the night of the event. I could have made some serious bank.

The show was amazing and I had a great time. I ended up meeting a friend from the TPWW Wrestling Forum after the show. The NXT Tag Team and Woman’s championship ended up changing hands at the show. I experienced the awesomeness that was the debut of the King of Strong Style Shinsuke Nakamura. The main event was a barn burner which saw the NXT Champion Finn Balor retain against Samoa Joe. Joe would later in the month win the title in Lowell, Massachusetts which was like 30 minutes away from where I live. I traveled thousands of miles to see him thinking he would have his moment in Dallas but it wasn’t his (or mine) night that night

The event started with the tag team titles. It was Dash and Dawson: The Revival defending against Jason Jordan and Chad Gable: American Alpha. One of the best opening matches I can recall. Back and forth action with a great mix of hard hitting and technical wrestling. It was like being live for a match with The Steiner Brothers and the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Not sure if those two teams ever fought in the ring but it would have been something. The Revival really looked strong even in defeat. They lost the tag titles and the crowd erupted like crazy when the fan favorites became the champions. It was a short-lived reign though. At the next TakeOver The Revival would recapture the titles. It seems like American Alpha is bound to the main roster. They should do very well together or apart on either Raw, Smackdown or both. The event continued with the debut of former TNA Champion Austin Aries who defeated a very game Baron Corbin (more on him in part three of this piece.)

It was then time for the match of the night and probably the match of the weekend and probably the match of the year. Sami Zayn taking on the King of Strong Style Shinsuke Nakamura. This match was something else. I had never seen either compete in the ring live before and it was my first time seeing a Nakamura match. The match was a spectacle of what is called strong style in Japan. It was hard hitting and the match was action from bell to bell. After the match was over nobody was in their seats NOBODY. The crowd was into the match from the start and didn’t let up until the final three count gave Nakamura the victory. We all chanted fight forever and meant it. It was not only the best match on the card it was the match match of the weekend and probably the match of the year. Two more matches had to come after and they did their best but this one stole the show.

The NXT Woman’s Championship was on the line next as Bayley was defeated by the Empress of Tom morrow Asuka. I was there live also when Bayley won the NXT Woman’s Championship against Sasha Banks at TakeOver: Brooklyn. This defense was one that I was very much looking forward to and was shocked to see the result of. This was to be Bayley’s WrestleMania weekend moment and it was taken away from her. It was stolen from her by the now new champion. It was a solid match and the crowd was pretty into it after the match before so that was saying something about both competitors. The crowd could have been tired out after that Zayn/Nakamura match but they were captivated with this match also. When Bayley lost to the choke hold you could probably have heard a pin drop. We were all shocked. Bayley did not have her moment and because she was choked out the crowd didn’t even have a moment to stand up and applaud Bayley’s losing effort. She was gallant in defeat and she never gave up. The crowd was shaken by what happened and the final match was going to have to be special to make an impact.

The NXT Championship match started off with a bang. Samoa Joe was busted open almost from the opening bell. The crowd got into the match for all the wrong reasons though. The referees tried to stop the match on numerous occasions to tend to Samoa Joe’s bleeding the crowd was not having any of that. We chanted “let them fight” and “Let Joe Bleed” to not stop the flow of the match that we all were really into at this point. Blood is now a rarity in sports entertainment and it was quite a moment we all didn’t want to be pulled away from us. It was pulled from us and we didn’t like it in the slightest. The match was restarted and it looked like Samoa Joe was about to pick up the win. Finn Balor was able to avoid defeat and was able to reverse a Kokina Clutch into a pinning solution that happened to be successful. Later that month Joe was able to pick up a win for the championship in Lowell Massachusetts. Basically I traveled 2000 miles to see a title change that didn’t happen but happened like 20 minutes from my house. That’s wrestling for ya!

This show ended up being the highlight of the weekend in terms of wrestling. Every match was on point and fed off the crowd to make something very special. Everybody knew that all eyes were on them and that they had a huge shot to steal the WrestleMania weekend away from the established WWE Superstars. In my opinion they did just that. It was a quite an end to an eventful first day in Dallas. I ended up sleeping until like 2pm Saturday but it was well worth everything involved to be able to get to Dallas in time for TakeOver. Hopefully soon I will have the time to write about the rest of the weekend’s events including the WWE Hall of Fame and of course the show of shows: WrestleMania 32.

WWE Rivalries Episode #10: The Rock Vs. John Cena

The final episode of WWE Rivalries to date is a rivalry that took many years to come to realization. Many of the greatest feuds in professional wrestling history take years to develop. This one is a little bit different. This episode is about the rivarly between John Cena and The Rock.The episode picks up around 2002 with the Rock leaving WWE to make his mark in the world of Hollywood. The Rock’s success in the sequel to the Mummy, The Mummy Returns led the Rock to leave WWE full time to pursue an acting career. Off that success he a prequel of the Mummy Returns The Scorpion King. With his career in the WWE coming to an end the episode shows that there was an open spot in the top of the WWE roster. The plan at SummerSlam 2002 was to pass that spot onto Brock Lesnar. Brock ended up leaving in 2004 and plans had to change.

John Cena began his career in the WWE in the summer of 2002. The episode does not show anything about Brock Lesnar which is a major part of the path of John Cena and shouldn’t have been excluded. There would be no vacancy in the top of the roster for Cena had Brock not gone to the NFL and then UFC. The story only focuses on the Rock/Cena aspect even though it isn’t the whole picture. Most of the episodes to date did a better job telling the story of events more brodly to show more of the context of what was going on. A major over site.

With that being said the episode picks up after that at WrestleMania 21 with John Cena becoming WWE Champion beating John Bradshaw Layfield. WWE superstar Seth Rollins chimes in saying John Cena saw the opening and took the spot that was The Rocks. Dean Ambrose also explained some of the problems with taking somebody’s spot is that you are always compared to the guy who you replaced. Of course that would mean he really should be compared to Brock Lesnar but the narrative is that he was always compared to the Rock.

With all good stories we eventually have a cap of about six years! In that time frame The Rock has developed himself into a Hollywood leading man. John Cena has used that time to become the “face that runs the place” in the WWE. Cena tried (and failed) to have a Hollywood career of his own. The show calls his run in Hollywood a success even though it wasn’t. Cena stayed loyalty to the WWE. George Carlin once said people are as loyal as their options. John for years would talk about the Rock in the media with the hopes of getting Dwayne involved in the WWE in some fashion in the future. In 2008 John Cena made a big statement he said that he didn’t like that The Rock used WWE to get famous in Hollywood and hasn’t been loyal to what brought him fame. This finally got the attention of the Rock and he joined WWE to induct his father and grandfather into the WWE Hall of Fame. In his introduction speech he made fun of John Cena’s movies. He said that insurgents in Iraq as a form of torture were shown copies of the DVD of the Marine and it was as effective as anything else used.

Again with all great stories we have another time jump this time of about three years. WrestleMania 27 was around the corner and the Rock was chosen to be a guest host of the show of shows in Atlanta, GA. The main event of John Cena and the Miz was glossed over by showing the closing moments when The Rock got involved and cost Cena the WWE Championship. The next night on Raw Cena challenged the Rock to a match. The Rock accepted a match at WrestleMania 28 in Miami Florida for the next year. A year long feud which was mentioned a lot of the time with the Rock not being there. Cena would go to feud with the likes of CM Punk and The Nexus and the Rock continued to work on movies. In November of 2011 The Rock and Cena would meet in the ring in a tag team match. The Rock and Cena defeated R-Truth and The Miz in a tag team match which was somewhat glossed over in the episode. For the most part Cena had to carry this feud on his own until February of 2012.

The feud picked up again with the Rock making it back for the five weeks before WrestleMania to promote the match. The episode also now describes the feeling of hatred for the Rock in the locker room for having a marque match after not being in the WWE for a decade before and not really showing a lot of effort in the year lead up because of his career. This was show without words with a mean glare by CM Punk in the locker room. In July 2011 CM Punk said on Raw that the fact that Dwyane was in the main event of WrestleMania and not him made him sick. This was not shown in the episode which is another problem with the episode glossing over stuff. Perfect example of the locker room having a problem with the match ignored.

The feud continued with back and forth promos. The Rock on one occasion had notes of stuff he wanted to become trending topics on Twitter. Cena came down to the ring and called him out on having notes written on his arm. The Rock was flustered at being called on on this and it was the first time in his career that he was visibly shaken at something somebody had said to him. Cena on the next episode of Raw explained that he had make the Rock turn into “Rainman.” The Rock came back out and said that he would simply kick Cena’s ass at WrestleMania.

WrestleMania 28 is then shown with The ROck and Cena having an all out war in the final match of the show. The true main event of the show was Triple H and The Undertaker in an End of an Era match inside Hell in a Cell (not mentioned) and the WWE Championship match of CM Punk defending against Chris Jericho (also not mentioned.) In the closing moments Cena went for the Rock’s People Elbow. The Rock jumped up and hit Rock Bottom to pickup the win. Cena had lost it all. The Rock left for Hollywood again for months and it seemed like everything Cena had said was true and everything the Rock had said had been a lie. Cena said he would stay and the Rock would leave and it was all true. The Rock came back on the Raw 1000 episode to say he would be in the WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble six months from then. The episode shows the Rock beating the longest reigning champion of this generation CM Punk at the Rumble. It also shows Cena winning the Royal Rumble and the title match would be set for WrestleMania 29 in New York City.

This match was all about the redemption of John Cena. He lost alot in the year after losing to the Rock. It was not shown in the episode but Cena had gotten divorced in that calendar year. It was part of the feud originally in WWE TV but again something important not mentioned in the episode. It was a little hammy originally but if its part of the story it should be in the episode. It wasn’t. The rematch would be about the redemption of John Cena and it was realized in the main event of WrestleMania 29. John Cena finally had gotten the victory and once again was the WWE Champion. John Cena’s time was now and The Rock’s time was up.

If this is the final episode WWE Rivalries ends on a whimper and not a roar. Could have had a better episode because the feud was personal and lasted for a very long time. There was plenty to work with but it seemed rushed and forced. Way too much stuff was cut out. The feud was two alpha dogs who were fighting over being the top in the industry and about a torch passing that never really had a chance to take place when it should have. Its fitting the episode feels like a missed opportunity when the feud was all about missed opportunities. John Cena and the Rock could have main evented PPVs year after year but they only got two. I hope this isn’t the end of the series because it was a poor edition and shouldn’t have been because of how personal the feud got. Some of the best feuds are when reality is mixed in with the storytelling. The feud was a great mixture of that but this episode failed to live up to expectations.

WWE Rivalries Episode #9 – Ric Flair Vs. Ricky Steamboat.

 

The latest episode of WWE Rivalries tells the story of polar opposites. We see that opposites do attract in the decades long rivalry between Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat. In the early days Ric Flair wanted to be known as a guy who could have a great match with anybody and make them a star. This is something that he would later do with great talents like Sting, Lex Luger, Barry Windham and countless others. In the history of professional wrestling the first guy he took under his wing in that sense was Ricky Steamboat. Ric was bent on “pulling something out of Steamboat” and Steamboat was all about ceasing the momentum to score and make himself a big star with Flair’s help.

The early days of this feud were in NWA Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling under Jim Crockett. They had an early feud over the Mid-Atlantic Championship Title which would later become the WCW Television Championship. On June 15, 1977 Rick Steamboat would defeat Ric Flair to become the champion. Steamboat would carry the title for 119 days. During that run as champion Steamboat was viciously beaten and hunted by Flair. On one occasion Flair scuffed up Steamboats face on the concrete floor and messed it up really bad. The young good looking baby face was no longer so fresh. In the show NWA referee Tommy Young said this attack was a “shot in the arm” for Ricky. They began selling out house shows at that point forward. Ricky said that they must have wrestled each other hundreds of times over that span of about eight years.

The feud was not just for the benefit of Steamboat or to show that Flair could make a good feud with anybody. He did prove that time and again but it also gave him great power in the NWA because he and Steamboat were selling places out. This selling power would lead Flair to a turn into a good guy and he parlayed that into his first of nine NWA World Heavyweight Championships in 1981. Flair was also quite happy with pulling Steamboat along for this ride as well. The first chapter of their story ends when Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair fight for the NWA Championship. Flair wins the match and they shake hands in the middle of the ring. Steamboat would use his newly found fame to get a contract to compete in the World Wrestling Federation. This meant that the feud was over and both men had benefitted to the maximum as they possible could have. Ricky would start in the WWE in 1985 and would be a top guy competing in the first four WrestleManias. The episode shows Ricky defeated Randy “Macho Man” Savage at WrestleMania III for the Intercontinental Championship.

By the time Steamboat had left the WWE in 1988 Ric Flair had once again become a bad guy and also had become a five time NWA Heavyweight Champion. The original Horseman group had come and gone without any involvement of Ricky Steamboat in the picture. in 1989 Ric Flair was being managed by Hiro Matsuta in a strange alliance with a Japanese Conglomerate. The stage was set for a next chapter in this storied rivalry. Ric Flair was the ultimate bad guy and he was billed against somebody who would be shown to be the ultimate good guy. Flair was a corporate sellout to another country as well as a playboy. Ricky was billed as the ultimate family man who competes just to put food on the table and to prove himself to his family as a man. Ricky came back to the fold as a mystery opponent in a tag team match pitting himself and the late Eddie Gilbert against Ric Flair and his former Horseman running buddy Barry Windham. Steamboat was able to pick up the pin fall victory for his team against Flair which set all things in motion for one of the greatest trilogies of matches professional wrestling will ever see.

The re-ignition of the rivalry was the brainchild of then booker George Scott. Scott was booking when Jim Crockett Promotions became World Championship Wrestling. It was bought out from Crockett by Ted Turner. Scott appears on the show to explain that the re-hash of the feud had an immediate effect on WCW’s ratings at the time with a boost of over 30%. Ron Simmons explained that Flair and Steamboat were the ultimate combination of entertainment and ring savvy. This is sort of explains the term used now to describe professional wrestling- sports entertainment. Bill Apter of Pro Wrestling Illustrated fame would explain the appeal of the feud by saying “you never tire of Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat.” The great chemistry combined with the newly developed plot of the Corporate Sellout Playboy Vs. the Family Man was the perfect way to spice this feud up again and make it go to places never seen before or possibly again. The championship match was held in Chicago at the Chi-Town Rumble. Ric Flair explained that Ricky Steamboat was his greatest opponent and that Ricky could never be the bad guy. Ricky was everything good in the world and Flair was everything rotten about the 1980s with Reaganomics, Trickle down economic, excess and ‘Greed is Good.” They were opposites on the spectrum and boy did they attract. The late Dusty Rhodes explained the setup of Chicago being like if the Cubs had once again become the champion. If Ricky Steamboat could beat Ric Flair, he thought it could be that huge. In a non-stop drag out war Ricky the Dragon Steamboat finally accomplished one of his many goals in professional wrestling becoming the champion. One of his other great rivals Jake Roberts explained what made Ricky so special. Roberts explained that Ricky could make the fans feel his pain and drew them in like almost no other. They were feeling the comeback and when it happened they were insane. Roberts would call them master storytellers and Ric Flair explained Chi Town Rumble as the greatest match in his career. WWE Superstar Tyson Kidd concluded about the match that it was hard work paying off and the guy who never took a cheap shot finally had become the World Champion.

The feud would continue with what Ricky Steamboat would call the greatest match of his career. The re-match would take place at Clash of the Champions VI and would be a two-out of three falls match. It was the second match of the trilogy and pretty fitting that the match itself would become a trilogy as well. Flair would secure a first pin fall victory at around the 19-minute mark. Steamboat would pick up a grueling submission victory at the 30-minute mark with a Chicken wing. Flair and Steamboat explained that they would take great pleasure in trying to make each other work really hard and try to make each other gas out first. Who would be the first person to blow up? Neither. The match went on for nearly an hour with a controversial finish. Steamboat pinned Flair but his legs were under the ropes in a chicken wing pin. Steamboat would pick up the victory but Flair’s lawyers would get involved to make a final third and decisive match for WrestleWar 1989. The hour long match was described by Terry Taylor as the proverbial emotional rollercoaster. Former World Champion DDP would also chime in that both Flair and Steamboat were master story tellers. They would lure the fans in with many false finishes which are now overused in sports entertainment. It was fresh back then and Flair and Steamboat make art in that 20 by 20 squared circle. The great storytelling was heightened in the post-match interviews. Steamboat explained that he was the winner and it was time to move on to other opponents. As soon as he saw the replay you could see that he was shook by what happened out there. You might say that he had the look of defeat in his eyes knowing Flair had his foot under the rope.

The final match of the Trilogy was another hard hitting classic. Flair and Steamboat would chop each other so hard Bill Apter said that it was heard five miles away. In the end of the feud it wasn’t about who was the bad guy and who was the good guy. The fans had been won over by great competition and each side was equal in admiration for both athletes. Ric Flair would take advantage of a damaged knee from Steamboat to roll the champion up to get a school boy for the definitive three count of the feud. Ric Flair was once again and for the sixth time the Heavyweight Champion of the World! Usually we would see another re-match but that was not the case for several years. Ric Flair would become a good guy because of the fight he showed in this match and he was paired with Terry Funk in a feud immediately after the finish of this match. Funk was the announcer at ringside and blindsided Flair with a cheap shot after the match giving him a piledriver on the announce table that did not break. Steamboat was written out of the World Title scene almost unceremoniously. In the end Flair and Steamboat had three five-star matches that showed the power of sport and entertainment that this industry needs to reach the mass audiences.

The feud would end at that point but would come back in 1994 with two high profile matches for the WCW Championship. Flair would once again prove to be the better man in getting the victory but in this feud there was one thing to be sure- there were no losers. Former WCW wrestler and WWE talent William Regal would put it plain that Flair and Steamboat were perfect in every way. Bill Apter concluded by saying that they consummate opponents and that he couldn’t wait to see them fight again. Fabulous Freebird Michael Hayes explained that Ric Flair and Steamboat were made to be opponents. Hayes knows something about opponents with his legendary battles with the Von Erich Brothers in World Clash Championship Wrestling the 1980s in Dallas. In 2016 when being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Stan “The Lariat” Hansen made it big point to explain that in wrestling you are nothing without a great opponent to feed off. It was only fitting that Ric Flair be the one to induct his first “pet project” in the business into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2009. Flair ended the show with that speech and also explained like only he could that nobody in wrestling history had better matches that Ricky Steamboat and Nature Boy Ric Flair. This episode shows the great things that happen when you have the right set of opponents and the magic that can happen when polar opposite attract.

Road to WrestleMania- Royal Rumble 2016 Review

The Road to WrestleMania kicked off with a bang at the Royal Rumble. This past Sunday the WWE universe was shocked to its core. The New WWE World Heavyweight Champion is its Chief Operating officer Triple H! Triple H came out of semi-retirment to enter as the 30th man in the One vs All Royal Rumble match for the World Heavyweight Championship. At the last WWE PPV event Triple H was taken out of commission by Roman Reigns. Triple H came out to get revenge for being attacked viciously in Boston at TLC. Vince McMahon came out the night after TLC to confront Roman Reigns and set up his chance to become champion or be fired. Roman Reigns somehow overcame those odds to become champion and Mr. McMahon has done everything he could to  undo that happening. At the Royal Rumble he succeeded.

It was a very good event form start finish. The undercard was suprisngly very good. Usually a Royal Rumble tends to be a one match card. It was pretty much booked like that in television and on paper but it wasn’t the case at all. The first match was one of the best matches of the new year and could be a match of the year candidate somewhere down the line. It was a Last Man Standing match for the IC Championship. Dean Ambrose would go on to defeat the challenge of his challenger Kevin Owens. It was a back and forth hardcore action from bell to bell. Weapons of all kinds were used to see who would be the Last Man Standing. Owens had the upper hand after hitting a Pop-Up Powerbomb. Owens was setting up chairs and put Dean Ambrose on top of them. He went to the top rope to hit his moonsault. Ambrose jumped up and pushed Kevin Owens into a somersault crashing into double tables set up earlier in the match ringside. With that move Dean Ambrose was the winner and was the Last Man Standing. This match seems to be the end of their feud with each moving on the Road to WrestleMania. Dean Ambrose will be fighting for a shot at main event of WrestleMania. Owens might have something to work with in the events of the Royal Rumble described later on. The crowd was very hyped for this match and it was a great way to start the ppv.

The WWE Tag Championships was defended next when New Day defeated The Usos. Before the match the New Day brought out a replacement to Franchesa the Trombone. Xavier Woods debuted Franchesca Two. Big E and Kofi represented The New Day in their successful defense. The crowd was with the heel tag team throughout the entire match. The Usos do not seem to be the tag team they used to be in the last few years. The match ended when Big E caught an Uso off the top rope with the Big Ending. Decent match but the crowd was more into the antics of Xavier Woods ringside. Not sure if the feud will continue after this match.

The next match saw a new US Champion crowned when Kalisto again unseated Alberto Del Rio as champion. The crowd was really not into this match but they did seem to react nicely when Kalisto picked up the victory. Kalisto victory might be a good sign that WWE sees something in him but he has been a sliight victim of 50/50 booking. A few steps forward and then a few steps back repeated for the last few weeks. Winning the title the first time could have been a test run to see how the crowd reacted. The crowd went nuts for his victory but he lost the title a few days later back to Del Rio. The test run could have been considered a success though which is why Kalisto is champion again. Not sure what will happen with him on the Road to WrestleMania. Del Rio appears to be injured and his future in terms of WrestleMania is in question. Will Kalisto be able to have a good run as champion after he was cooled off losing it the first time? We’ll find out.

A somewhat great match completed the undercard when Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch to retain her Divas championship. The two women had a pretty decent match ended with a pretty stupid ending. Becky was putting Charlotte into her arm bar finisher the DisArmer but there was a distraction. Ric Flair threw a coat over the head of Becky Lynch. Instead of just leaving it on her head she released the hold to take it off. Charlotte would then use this distraction to pick up a pinfall victory after the match’s second spear. I don’t think Becky can come back from this sort of stupid decision. After the match the crowd erupted with the re-appearance of the Boss Sasha Banks! Banks like her theme song said pushed Becky out of the way and established herself as the top contender for the championship. Not sure what this will mean but it appears the BFF’s with have some sort of match at FastLane for the Championship and that could lead to a rematch at WrestleMania. That could work but it could be something else. Could Sasha win the championship at FastLane only to be challenged by a fellow NXT Star? What if the Raw after Fastlane the NXT Divas Champion Bayley came down to ringside to set up an ultimate rematch at WrestleMania? The Re-Match of the Year one more time on the grandest stage of them all!

The Rumble Match was next. It started with the number one entrant and World Champion Roman Reigns. He started off the match facing off against the Bulgarian Brute and former US Champion Rusev. Reigns would make quick work of Rusev and eliminated him before the next entrant would come down to the ring. When the buzzer sounded the crowd went insane with happiness. The number three entrant in the Royal Rumble was the Phenomenal AJ Styles. The Orlando crowd erupted with cheers and chants of AJ Styles. The announce crew called AJ the biggest free agent in sports entertainment and highlighted his former World Champion status. AJ was made to look like the big deal that he is. Big things are in the future for the Phenomenal One. Roman Reigns sold this as a big moment as he seemed shocked and upset that he would have to face somebody of AJ’s caliber in a Royal Rumble match for his championship. It was a great back and forth moment which AJ and Styles going at it and then eliminating different people to make sure it was one on one with each other a few times. That stopped with the entrant of Chris Jericho. That entrant made the Rumble Match start properly with a lot of different people in the ring at once. This was also the point where Rusev came back out and dragged Roman Reigns out of the the ring. Rusev with the help of the other League of Nation members Sheamus, Wade Barret and Alberto Del Rio viciously attack the champion. Rusev ended up giving Roman Reigns a blg splash of the Spanish Announce Table. This would lead Roman Reigns to be leave the ringside area to get to a hospital. It was lazy booking from Royal Rumble 1999. In the 1999 Royal Rumble Vince McMahon won it all but he spent most of the match out of the ring from injury. It made sense because Mr. McMahon was nearly 50 years old at that point. What is Roman Reign’s excuse for not going the distance? How can he be the World Champion if he doesn’t have the cardio to have a long match? He was only in the ring for just under 30 minutes. If he can’t go the distance he shouldn’t be the face of the WWE.

In terms of the Road to WrestleMania we had a few more inklings of what is to come. Kevin Owens was the man who was able to eliminate the newcomer to the WWE AJ Styles. Styles would later appear on Monday Night Raw the next night in a victory against Chris Jericho. Jericho and Styles could be a WrestleMania match. Kevin Owens was eliminated by his old buddy from NXT the returning Sami Zayn. Zayn is about to embark on a path that will also lead him to NXT TakeOver In Dallas as a potiental championship contender to Finn Balor. Whatever that path takes Sami could also lead him to a WrestleMania match against Kevin Owens.

In the end of the match Triple H got Roman Reigns out of the ring to eliminate him. Triple H then had one person left to eliminate. Triple H would have to get through the man who was the Last Man Standing earlier in the night the IC Champion Dean Ambrose. Ambrose survived the hardcore wars in the indy scene to make it in the WWE. He has had an uphill battle for all of his career and this was another chance to make it in the big leagues as the World Champion. He fell short at the Survivor Series and would ultimately fall short once again. Triple H took the upper hand and threw the Lunatic fringe over the top rope to secure his 14th Heavyweight Championship of the World. Triple H made it clear on Raw that he is back as champion until people start respecting him and his family again. Reigns is the ultimate disrespecter after his actions against Triple H and Vince McMahon. The plan is clear that Roman Reigns will get his ultimate revenge against Triple H recapturing the title for a 3rd time at the main event of WrestleMania. I think this could work but what happens after that? Triple H is probably the best at getting the best out of somebody else in a match currently on the WWE Roster semiretired or not. The booking of the Rumble match seems to think the WWE doesn’t really have the confidence Reigns is a long term champion. He couldn’t truly go the distance from entrant one to the 28th man eliminated. His time in the rumble was half of the time it really was. It might be a great moment at WrestleMania but moments are fleeting. Is Reigns the man to lead the WWE as the face of the company? Will Triple H be able to remain the ultimate heel foil for Reigns to overcome? Triple H is the leader and operator of the best wrestling promotion going right now in NXT. Everybody knows that and respects him for it. Will they cheer when Triple H is defeated by a man they could think is undeserving? Time will tell. It is certain however that the Road to WrestleMania has begun.

Road to WrestleMania- Royal Rumble ’16 Preview

All roads do not lead to Rome. This year all roads lead to Dallas Texas. We are all on the Road to WrestleMania. WrestleMania 32 enimates from ATNT Stadium and will be one of the biggest live events of the year. The home of the Dallas Cowboys will host the Showcase of the Immortals, the Show of shows. It should be one of the biggest manias of all time and this time it’ll be different. This year I will be there. This will be my first WrestleMania ever. I’ve seen every WrestleMania either on tape or live but I have never experienced it in person. I had a chance to go to WrestleMania XIV in Boston but it didn’t happen. They say everything is bigger in Texas and I’m going to be there personally to see if WrestleMania is one of those things.

Last year I tried to attend WrestleMania in Santa Clara. I just couldn’t get the right package for tickets, flights and hotel. I started scouring early this year for the details. I was researching even before WrestleMania 31 had aired. Everything was settled for my trip a few days ago with my final purchase of tickets to the WWE Hall of Fame. I have a full schedule of events to expierence. I had to change my flight a few different times based on the availability of tickets to great once in a lifetime events. NXT TakeOver: Dallas takes place on Friday, Jim Ross is having a One Man Show right before the Hall Fall of Fame Ceremony and it all concludes Sunday with WrestleMania. Last year instead of going to WrestleMania I bought an XboxOne.

Seeing NXT TakeOver Brooklyn live was impetus to really push to go to WrestleMania. It was such a great card and showed the power of the future of the WWE. This is truly an open field right now. So many established WWE stars are out with injuries that will prevent them from competing at WrestleMania. John Cena, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, Cesaro are a short list of the superstars that might not make it in time. The open field is shown perfectly on the first stop on the Road to WrestleMania: The 2016 Royal Rumble. In the Royal Rumble match the championship of the World will be defended by Roman Reigns. Reigns will have to outlast every other superstar in the match just to retain his title. This Royal Rumble is being called “One Vs. All.” That is a catchphrase of Roman which Vince McMahon is using against the newly crowned champion. Mr. McMahon is trying his best to see the end of the “Roman Empire.” This sunday unless Reigns can defeat 29 other superstars the chairman will succeed.

The One Vs. All Royal Rumble makes me think back to the greatest Royal Rumble ever: the 1992 Royal Rumble match. The championship was vacant and the Royal Rumble match was to decide who would become the undisputed champion. Ric Flair entered the rumble at number three and beat back the challenge of the remaining 28 compeitors to become WWF Champion for the first time. The match was highlighted by the amazing color commentating job done by Ric Flair’s financial advisor Bobby The Brain Heenan. Heenan was amazing as he was hilarious and nevevous until the ending bell. Everybody knows the call “YES! YES! YES! YES! HE DID IT!” It was the crowning achievement of Heenan’s announcing career and with a tear in his eye it was the greatest night in the life of the Nature Boy. Not sure if this One Vs. All cheapens that Royal Rumble. Now 1992 won’t be the only Rumble in which the title was on the line. It might also cheapen it because  the winner will not automatically be in the main event of WrestleMania. If Roman Reigns wins the Rumble will to me have been a waste. It is a perfect chance for a surprise winner to break up the everyday operations of the WWE. There are rumors abound of foreign signees including former members of the Bullet Club. Will somebody come back from the long injury list to win? The Royal Rumble ends a great night of sports. Both the AFC and NFC Championship games will be played in the NFL. Will this Royal Rumble match become one of the greatest in recent memory or will it just be another way to push Roman Reigns as a monster force?

There will be four other championship matches at the Royal Rumble. Alberto Del Rio will defend the US title against Kalisto. Kalisto defeated Del Rio for the title two weeks ago but lost it back to the Mexican Aristocrat a day later on Smackdown. It should be a good match for the Arizona crowd to eat up some Lucha action. Kevin Owens will get another crack at regaining the IC Championship in a Last Man Standing match against Dean Ambrose. Not sure why they would want to enter such a dangerous match when they both have a great chance in the Royal Rumble match to get the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The two-time tag team champions the New Day will defend against The Usos. Finally Charlotte will defend the Divas Championship against her new rival and fellow NXT alum Becky Lynch. Becky has the upper hand right now after picking up a non-title victory. Will Becky become the new face of the Divas Revolution? The pre-show will have a random tag team match with the winners advancing into the Royal Rumble match.

This Sunday the first major stop on the Road to WrestleMania will happen. The best night of the year is usually the Royal Rumble. The last two years have been a major dissapoinment. Will the third time be the charm? Or will it be three strikes and you’re out? We’ll find out this Sunday only on the WWE Network.