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WWE Weekly: November 8-14, 2015
by Scrooge Mc Suck
LIGHTS, CAMERA, WWE ACTION...
(Raw and Smackdown: Manchester, England)
The original plans for Survivor Series are out the window. The (not really highly but) anticipated Championship Match between Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns has been scrapped due to Rollins suffering a pretty nasty injury last week during a Live Event in Dublin, Ireland: a torn MCL, ACL, and medial meniscus, which translates to at least 6-months off the books. They say 6-9 months, but unless they have a concussion problem, I can see them coming back sooner than later. Anyway, Triple H basks in the markyness of the UK WWE Universe and declares that the Survivor Series will feature the culmination of a Championship Tournament (cough:rehash the Deadly Games booking:cough).
Triple H offers Roman Reigns the chance to bypass the tournament entirely, and butters him up by telling him that he was originally the man they were looking at to be the Authorityís chosen one, but went with Rollins because he was ready, willing, and (g)able to do anything for them. Roman doesnít waste much time refusing to sell-out, but in Triple Hís defense, the term "sell out" is a tool used by those who are jealous at the success at others. Like bands "selling out" to better record labels. With the refusal to play ball, Roman Reigns will have to start from the back of the line and earn his way through the Tournament, just like everybody else. The bracket, for those interested, are as followed...
Roman Reigns vs. Big Show
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Alberto Del Rio vs. Stardust
Kalisto vs. Ryback
Titus OíNeil vs. Kevin Owens
Neville vs. King Barrett
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz
Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze
Some interesting choices. I know the WWE roster isnít deep enough for 16 great choices when taking into account other storylines going on, but seriously... Kalisto and Titus OíNeil? Iím not passing a petition around, but you have warm bodies like Jack Swagger, R-Truth, and Zack Ryder to put over some heels instead of two guys who have worked exclusively in tag teams for the majority of their time on the WWE roster. Odd choices aside, the 1st Round of the Tournament was unevenly spread across Monday Night Raw and Smackdown. Monday night, Roman Reigns, Cesaro, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, and Dolph Ziggler advanced, while Del Rio, Neville, and... KALISTO!? Yes, and Kalisto, won their matches on Smackdown to advance to the Quarter-Finals. Weíll break down the next round in the Survivor Series Rundown... Seriously, Kalisto.
This may come as a huge surprise, but there is more going on in WWE than the circumstances surrounding the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament. Like the angle that ties in with the 25th Anniversary of the Undertakerís Survivor Series debut. Two weeks ago at Hell in a Cell, Bray Wyatt and his followers laid out the Undertaker and carted him off to Parts Unknown. The night after on Raw, they did the same to his brother, the DEMON Kane. Last week, Bray declared he has "consumed the souls" of the Undertaker and Kane, and now holds their powers. I guess someone in WWE wanted to make sense of his "Eater of Worlds" nickname and actually make him eat their character traits. Raw closed out with the #WyattEulogy, which is just an excuse to milk 10-minutes before delivering the goods: the return from the Parts Unknown Abyss of the Brothers of Destruction! Someone mightíve forgotten weíre a few weeks from Survivor Series, as the Undertaker and Kane easily dispose of Harper and Rowan, take Stroman out with a simple double throw across the announcers table, and put the exclamation point on it by planting Wyatt with a Double Chokeslam. On Smackdown, Bray Wyatt offered the challenge we all were expecting... kind of. A traditional 2-on-2 Tag Team Match between the Undertaker and Kane and any two members of the Wyatt Family. So much for the traditional Elimination match we were anticipating. With Taker and Kane cleaning the clocks of all four at once, I guess it doesnít make much sense.
Over in the camp of the Women ĎRasslers, Paige does her best to be racy in the PG era, promising to take care of the "B" in PCB (Becky Lynch) in a match on Monday Night Raw, which leaves Baby Flair, or "The C", to be unseated as the WWE Divas Champion at Survivor Series. I think we can all play connect-the-dots with what Paige means by calling Becky "The B" and Charlotte "The C" and not mean the initials of their names. I donít know how smart it is to push Paige as the heel when weíre in England, and by the laws of wrestling, if youíre a foreigner, you are automatically the fan favorite even if youíre from a different part of the country. How come nobody ever does that in the US? Why does it apply to everything else? Hell, even in Canada, people from Toronto are represented as "hometown" favorites in Montreal. Two different provinces. Sorry for running off track with that one... Paige, who is in line for a Championship Match in two weeks, does a cheap job to Becky Lynch thanks to a handful of tights, a "fight fire with fire" reasoning. Paige attacks post-match and puts Becky in the PTO on top of the announcers table, being treated as the total face, even as Charlotte makes the save. Another side rant: Is there any finishing move with a less creative, lazy name than The PTO? PAIGE TAP OUT? What, did someone spend 15-seconds picking their brain on that one?
In other Divas action, it seems like thereís an attempt to create the exact same angle between Team B.A.D. that we just saw with "Team PCB." A self-destructive alliance based on who is the leader of the group. With Tamina as the odd wheel in the trio, itíll probably be Sasha Banks being pushed ahead of Naomi unless thereís some bizarre circumstances like "she isnít connecting with the audience" or "doesnít talk clearly enough when getting Kevin Dunn coffee if he offers his presence at catering." Using Natalya in the role of splitting the group just seems whacky and random, since she has been missing from TV since the unfortunate injury to Tyson Kidd and the fact sheís getting older and has been leap-frogged by the majority of the Divas Division. With Paige, Becky, Sasha, Charlotte, and yes, even Nikki Bell, you have a good core of in-ring talent to balance the lacking abilities of Naomi (inconsistent), Alicia Fox (left-overs from the old formula of the division and unwilling to improve like Nikki), Tamina (one-dimensional) and Brie (the luggage of the division lately).
For those keeping track of King Bad News Wade Barrettís poor use, booking, and moments of embarrassment: With WWE in the UK this week, who else but Barrett is chosen to pick a fight with Footballer Wayne Rooney (thatís not American Football, but Soccer to those in the US). I the skinny of it all is that Barrett backs one team, a team that allegedly has a history with Rooneyís team, Manchester United. The end game... Barrett being slapped in the face like a chump, and also being the reason for Sheamusí distraction finish loss in the opening round of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament. This would be the second incident where Barrett had to make himself look a fool in favor of a celebrity, the other being the SummerSlam fluff with Stephen Amell. They also used Barrett for a dark segment where he ran down Manchester and was laid out by the Undertaker, but thatís acceptable by wrestling standards.
Other happenings and results not worth noting in detail or part of any significant storyline... RAW: The New Day defeated The Usos and Neville when Xavier Woods pinned Neville. Yep, jobbed a competitor in the Tournament to the 3rd string member of the New Day. Everything else on Raw was either part of an important storyline and/or the Tournament, so minimal fluff. SMACKDOWN: Braun Stroman squashed Fandango because itís something for him to do, and is it Stroman or Strowman as the official spelling? Iíll stick with Stroman. Word documents doesnít give me the red underline of non-spelling for Stroman... The Usos defeated Luke Harper and Erick Rowan by Disqualification in a match only served to have Undertaker accept Wyattís challenge for Survivor Series.
C-YOU LATER, HEATH SLATER...
As usual, thereís not much happening on Superstars or Main Event really worth going into detail about, so hereís what I do for my own personal amusement: we keep track of the results, including win-loss records, and basically keep tabs on how often certain people appear on these shows, who wins the most, and who, besides Heath Slater, loses the most. Itís one of those things Iíve done with the C-level shows as far back as Velocity and Sunday Night Heat. Also, a correction from last week... I forgot to update Heath Slaterís record to 0-2 following his loss on Superstars.
From WWE Main Event, taped on November 10th from Manchester, England... Jack Swagger (2-0) tapped out Adam Rose (1-1) at 7:36 for the longest winning streak heís had in 2015. Adam Rose came out before the match to his old Exotic Express music before cutting a promo on the crowd for not having faith in him... Damien Sandow (1-0), yes, DAMIEN SANDOW, back in his robe and purple/pink undies combination, defeated Heath Slater (0-3) at 4:08 with an odd neck-breaker that I donít recall him ever using. Crowd was DEAD. I half-expected to this be a dark match when reading the live results... Sasha Banks (1-0) tapped out Becky Lynch (0-1) at 10:08 with the Bank Statement in a good match. For whatever reason, Banks came out to Naomiís awful music, but they played her music after winning.
From WWE Superstars, taped on November 9th (but officially broadcast later than Main Event) from Manchester, England...Fandango (1-1) pinned Bo Dallas (1-1) at 3:45 with the Last Dance. I guess England still thinks Fandangoíing is still a thing... The Dudley Boyz (1-0) and Ryback (1-0) defeated the Cosmic Wasteland (Stardust 0-2, Ascension 0-1) at 7:29 when Bubba Ray pinned Viktor following the 3D. The Dudleys went from the super Nostalgic return to being just another team in two months. Iím not really complaining, since I never liked them that much to begin with.
SUPERSTAR SHOWCASE: TOURNAMENT EDITION:
Thanks to a Championship Tournament, I canít help but recap all the matches featured, so expect me to be a bit lazy about this segment next week.
Roman Reigns vs. Big Show:
Yay. Because we havenít seen Big Show vs. Roman enough in the last 12 months. Show traps Reigns in the corner and pounds away. Reigns tries doing the same but runs into a shoulder. The "action" spills to the floor, with Show throwing Reigns into the security wall. That spot is used almost as much as the Super-Kick. Reigns escapes trouble and shoves him into the post, but Show shrugs off being sent to the post and throws Reigns into the ring with ease. Reigns comes off the top and gets swatted down. Whip to the corner and Reigns does his worst Bret Hart impression going chest-first to the buckle. Show with a boot and splash for two. We return from a break (or Hulu edit) with Reigns unloading in the corner with clotheslines. Reigns with a modified version of the Drive-By to take Show off his feet, then another with him in the normal position. Superman Punch is countered with a Chokeslam, but it only gets two. Superman Punch counters The Big Punch and the Spear finishes at 4:49. *1/2 Usual secondary effort from these two. Reigns took a good beating but won decisively with his signature stuff.
Titus OíNeil vs. Kevin Owens:
Odd choice. Lockup into the corner. Titus offers a clean break, but Owen cheap shots him, so itís fisticuffs! Titus takes it to the floor and shoulder tackles Owens into the security wall. We return from a commercial break (or Hulu edit) with Owens in control with a rear chinlock. During the break, Titus was thrown into the announcers table to turn the tide. Titus fights free, but runs into a boot. Owens with the running senton for two. Owens with trash talking and chops in the corner. Titus with slaps to the chest to retaliate. Whip to the ropes, Owens with a boot to the face. Titus recovers quickly, bowling over Owens with a pair of shoulder tackles. OíNeil with a scoop slam and a lot of postering. Avalanche to the corner misses and Owens rolls him up for two. OíNeil with a unique slam for two. I honestly wouldnít know what to call it. Owens slips out of Clash of the Titus and connects with the Pop-Up Powerbomb out of nowhere to advance at 3:32. * Just a short match. Nothing much to it, nothing much to say negative about it. Post-match, Owens celebrates at ringside wearing JBLís cowboy hat. So much for those who put their money on Titus OíNeil advancing.
Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz:
When thereís a Big Show sighting, thereís always the Miz, too. These two men will be on WWE programming in 2020. Lockup into the corner and Miz with a cheap shot. Miz with the back breaker, but the neck breaker is countered with a dropkick. Ziggler goes for some kind of head scissors, Miz escapes that and goes for the Skull Crushing Finale, Ziggler escapes that and scares Miz off with a Super-Kick attempt. Miz targets the left knee, because he used the Figure-Four a couple of times, and poorly, I might add. Ziggler counters the Figure-Four and rolls him up for two. Miz crotches himself on a misguided dive into the corner. Miz goes for his weak back breaker/neck breaker set-up again, but itís countered with a back slide. Miz with a boot to the face for two. Figure Four attempt #2 is countered with a small package. Miz has it applied on the 3rd attempt, but Ziggler isnít tapping. Miz complains about Ziggler making it to the ropes, and Ziggler hits the Super-Kick out of nowhere for three at 4:59. *1/2 Underwhelming, but thereís not much you can expect from Miz these days. The previously hot for everything crowd was mostly dead for all of his offense.
Cesaro vs. Sheamus (w/ King Barrett):
I guess the European Connection continues. Lockup and a clean break from Cesaro. Lockup and Cesaro with a quick roll up for two. Sheamus grabs an arm-bar as we discuss the possibility of Sheamus winning the Tournament and still holding the Money in the Bank Briefcase. Cesaro wrestles Sheamus to the ground, forcing him to take a breather. Back inside, Sheamus with a side headlock takeover. Cesaro with a hard clothesline, sending Sheamus to the outside again. Sheamus goes for a slingshot attack, but Cesaro counters with a European uppercut. Cesaro misses the running uppercut and Sheamus connects with the Irish Curse. Sheamus with the clobbering forearms until the crowd starts chanting along with it. We return from a commercial break with them trading hard blows. They fight over a suplex, with both of them spilling over the top rope in the process. They both tease the Count-Out but make it back in at 9. Cesaro goes for a springboard body press, but Sheamus counters with White Noise for two. Cesaro avoids the Brogue Kick and turns Sheamus over with the Sharpshooter, but Sheamus somehow makes it to the ropes. They trade European uppercuts with Cesaro gaining the advantage. Cesaro dropkicks Sheamus off the top rope, to the floor, and follows him out with a running uppercut, knocking Sheamus into the timekeeperís section. Sheamus uses a distraction from Barrett to take control, but becomes distracted himself watching Barrett look like a fool. Cesaro with a running uppercut into a cradle for three at 9:27. **1/2 Longest match of the first round, but another so-so effort that picked up late. These two have had much better matches before.
Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze (w/ Summer Rae):
So Breeze gets his first match in a CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT, and gets to job. What the hell is the point of this? Sorry, but itís painfully obvious that Ambrose is going to face Reigns in the finals for a Deadly Games rehash, so Breeze has as much a chance of advancing as Titus OíNeil or Kalisto. I guess putting him in there with Ambrose means the crowd might be awake. Lockup, Ambrose with a hammerlock into a headlock. Criss-cross, Breeze avoids a clothesline and hides in the ropes. Whip to the corner and Ambrose comes exploding out with a clothesline. He sends Breeze to the floor with a second, but Breeze avoids the suicide dive, leaving a shrieking Summer Rae in his place to create a distraction. Ambrose sends him back to the floor and hits it anyway. Back from commercial and Tyler comes off the top with a body press, but Ambrose rolls through for two. Breeze with a Super-Kick (ugh) for two. He dumps Ambrose to the floor and whips him into the security wall. Michael Cole tells us of the countless nicknames of Tyler Breeze then struggles to name three of them, assuming two of them are accurate. Ambrose teases a comeback with a flurry of rights and chops. They go through a series of pinning combinations for near falls. Breeze escapes Dirty Deeds and rolls up Ambrose, with feet on the ropes, for two. Ambrose with his spring-back clothesline, followed by a missile dropkick. He sells injuring his shoulder and gets posted for it not once, not twice, but thrice. Breeze with a modified back stabber for two. Breeze with a side armbar followed by some mud-hole stomping. Ambrose dumps him to the floor, where what sound like a 6-year old boy chastises him for messing with Dolph Ziggler. Back inside, and Dean with a small package out of nowhere for three at 7:38. ** Personally, I wouldíve made his in-ring debut a match against a scrub and giving him the win, but making him competitive with Ambrose wasnít the worst decision.
Neville vs. King Barrett:
Yep, the Finals of the recent King of the Ring Tournament is simply an Opening Round Match now, and the KOTR is probably the booking underdog in this case because Barrett jobs to everyone. I miss his "Bad News" persona. Lockup, Neville grabs a side headlock into a takeover. Whip to the ropes and Neville with a school boy for two. Neville avoids a charge to the corner and springs off the buckle with a body press for a near fall. Barrett with a handful of hair to slam Neville to the canvas. Barrett follows him to the floor, ramming him into the announcers table and yet another throw into the security wall. We return from commercial break with Barrett connecting with a pump-handle slam for a two count. Neville tries a head scissors counter, but Barrett avoids it and lands a punt to the midsection. Barrett with a flurry of knees and a running boot, sending Neville back to the floor. Barrett continues to pound away and lands another punt for a near fall. Barrett with a rear chinlock. Whip to the ropes and Winds of Change is countered with a cradle for two. Barrett dumps him to the floor and trash talks rather than do anything that could win the match. To no surprise, Neville recovered, walks the rail and hits a somersault. Back inside, Neville with a series of kicks and a standing SSP for two. Neville tries to muscle-up Barrett for a German Suplex, but Barrett dumps him to the apron. He flips back in but runs into a Super-Kick for two. Barrett with a roll up for another two count. Barrett argues the count and accuses referee Charles Robinson for being paid off. Neville surprises him with the German Suplex for two. He heads to the top rope, but Barrett recovers and hits Winds of Change for two. Barrett sets up for the Bull Hammer, Neville counters into a roll-up for two. Neville counters Wasteland with a DDT, and finishes with the Red Arrow at 11:43. *** Best match of the 1st Round. Lots of baby-faces going over, to my surprise.
Ryback vs. Kalisto:
Babyface vs. Babyface... and is there possibly a more odd-ball match to put on for a first round WWE Championship Tournament? I guess you couldíve thrown one of the Ascension or Heath Slater in it, but thatís just really questioning logic. Anyone else think Ryback looks old (quick check: heís 34)? We get a handshake, because everyone loves handshakes. Kalisto strikes first with kicks to the leg. Whip to the ropes, Ryback attempts a press slam but Kalisto lands on his feet. They go through a series of counters until Kalisto hits Salida del Sol for a near fall. We return from a break with Kalisto unloading with kicks. Ryback catches him with a Spinebuster, followed by a pair of Powerbombs, straight out of Brock Lesnarís original move-set. Hard whip to the corner. Ryback goes for a delayed vertical suplex, but Kalisto fights out. He slams Kalisto face first to the canvas and takes him over with a suplex for two. Did they just say RYBACK has never had a real shot at the WWE Title? SERIOUSLY?! Belly-to-belly suplex gets two. Kalisto escapes a bearhug but runs into a big boot. Kalisto sends Ryback to the floor with a dropkick and goes for an Asai Moonsault, but Ryback kind of catches it and drops him for a counter. I donít think that was the intended spot. Kalisto with springboard bulldog for two. Ryback goes for Shell-Shock but itís countered with a sunset flip for two. Meat-Hook Clothesline, but Kalisto gets a foot on the ropes. Ryback sets Kalisto up on the top rope, but a reverse suplex is countered with a super-sized (or in Kalistoís measurements, a medium) Salida del Sol and its good for three at 9:32. KALISTO ADVANCES!?! What is the world coming to!? Post-match handshake because people like post-match handshakes. **1/4 Good at times, awkward at others. Rule of thumb: less Ryback means better Ryback.
Alberto Del Rio (w/ Zeb Colter) vs. Stardust:
Final match of the 1st Round. Who the hell books heel vs. heel? Weíre guaranteed a dull crowd because nobody likes heel vs. heel, and itís not like Stardust is over enough to get token face pops. Colter cuts an anti-English promo to get some kind of response. Stardust with a roll up at the bell for two. Del Rio with a snap suplex into a cover for two. Whip to the ropes, Stardust with a boot to the face, followed by a clothesline, sending Del Rio to the floor. Del Rio quickly recovers with a jumping heel kick and ANOTHER spot involving the security rail. We return from break with Del Rio in control with a chinlock. Stardust escapes, only to be caught with a tilt-o-whirl back breaker. Stardust teases a comeback with mounted punches, but Del Rio sweeps the leg from under him and hits the running enziguri for two. Del Rio with the hanging cross arm-breaker, a move purely for show. Stardust from out of nowhere with the Side Effect. Stardust with a flip-over face-buster for two. Reverse DDT gets two. Del Rio ducks a clothesline and hits the Back Stabber. Stardust escapes a Cross Armbreaker attempt and connects with the Disaster Kick, but Del Rio hooks the rope to break the count at two. Stardust gets a boot up on a charge attempt, but a long trip to the top rope is countered and Del Rio finishes him off with the Double Stomp at 6:45. *1/2 Action was OK, but the crowd was flat. Heel vs. heel just doesnít work.
SURVIVOR SERIES RUNDOWN:
With less than two weeks away from the 29th Annual Survivor Series, there has been a lot of speculation about what the card would feature. Then the injury to Seth Rollins forced a total reshuffling of the card.
- The WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament will conclude at Survivor Series with both Semi-Finals Matches, and obviously, the Finals. The November 16th episode of Monday Night Raw is scheduled to feature the four Quarter-Final Matches: Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro, Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto, Kevin Owens vs. Neville, and Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler. Odd to have two face-vs-face matches, but at least they will have crowd reactions. I can see using Kalisto against Del Rio based purely on work-rate ability, since WWE probably assumes two Mexican performers will have instant chemistry. Smart money says the Semi-Finals will be Reigns vs. Del Rio and Ambrose vs. Owens.
- The Undertaker and Kane will face two members of the Wyatt Family. The original plan called for a traditional Survivor Series Match, but for reasons unknown, that was scrapped and weíre getting a standard Tag Team Match, instead. Maybe the Wyatt Family will debut a 5th member? Probably not. Unless itís Harper and Rowan, the match will lack chemistry on the heel side. Harper and Wyatt would provide the best balanced quality, but it depends on the situation and rules applied. Stroman and Rowan are obvious weak links, but Rowan at least can do some cool double team spot with Harper. Stroman is just out there for freak show appeal.
- WWE Divas Champion Charlotte defends the Championship against #1 Contender Paige. They had minimal interaction this week and Paige jobbed to Becky Lynch for the sake of jobbing.
Thatís 5 matches already on the books for Survivor Series, and there doesnít seem to be any place for a traditional Elimination Match, which is unfortunate with the amount of talent likely to go unused if that were the case.
Final Thoughts: Weíre a little more than a week away from Survivor Series and the expectations have fallen pretty significantly. I love Tournaments, but the lack of depth at the top of the card is painfully obvious, and for the most part, the booking choices were just weird, with heel vs. heel, face vs. face, and randomly using undercard guys who would normally not be placed in such a situation. Elsewhere, the ongoing goofiness with the Brothers of Destruction and Wyatt Family continues, and now we only get a standard tag match instead of something fun, even though they just had Taker and Kane get their revenge 13 days in advance. With the Tournament taking up so much time, most of the undercard angles with the male performers have been put on hold. Hopefully weíll get a clearer picture towards what Survivor Series will offer, and maybe something of true significance will take place. Until next week....
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