The Good, The Bad And The Dirty From Last Night’s WWE Monday Night Raw

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The buildup to Extreme Rules continued last night on WWE Monday Night Raw from Baltimore, Maryland. Some of the highlights of the show included the return of WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, the latest in the ongoing saga’s of Evolution vs The Shield and John Cena vs Bray Wyatt. Their were good and bad points of the show, so here is the good, the bad and the dirty from last night’s show.

The Good

1) Sheamus vs Wade Barrett: A really good, physical match in the semifinals to determine the number one contender for the Intercontinental Championship. It was really good to see WWE give Barrett a clean win over a top guy in Shemaus. It was weird to see the company not play up the Sheamus knee injury from last week and went this route instead. Now let’s see WWE give Barrett a sustained push as he does have the fan support behind him and the talent to back it up.

2) Evolution/The Shield segment: Was good to see WWE play old clips of Evolution for the newer fans of wrestling, even though it was weird to see Ric Flair in the clips and he isn’t involved with the group at this time. Some people were down on Seth Rollins with his talking points, but he is improving each time he is handed the microphone including last night. Liked how when The Shield were walking up the ramp to get to Evolution, the same eleven fighters came out to protect the group. Very smart to keep The Shield from getting their hands on the group until the event. A simple, yet effective build.

The Bad

1) Emma and Santino Marella: This is bad and needs to end immediately. It has been a waste of Emma’s time as she should have been put in the Divas division right when she debuted. With the skill set of Marella, it is a shame that he has never been given a serious role within the company. Simulated arm sleeve makeout session? Pass

The Dirty

1) Kane brutalizes Daniel Bryan: WWE had announced earlier in the day that Bryan’s dad had passed away at the age of 57. It was rough to see him come out when Raw opened up as you can tell he just wanted to cry. This was a smart move by the company they made Kane from someone no cares about to a serious threat to Bryan in one segment. Really liked the use of Brie Bella and the fact a tombstone piledriver was used three times in different areas outside the ring. The move isn’t used often and when it is, it should be used in spots like this. It definitely sold some pay-per-views and subscribers to the WWE Network.

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WWE Main Event Spoilers For Tonight’s Show

main event

Before the Smackdown tapings take place, the WWE films “Main Event” that will air on ION Television tonight starting at 8 p.m. ET. The tapings took place in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Dark Match

-Alexander Rusev defeated Zack Ryder by pinfall. Rusev won with a side slam finisher. A decent match, not just a total squash.

WWE Main Event TV Taping

-The Shield defeated Sin Cara and Los Matadores. Good match. The Shield worked over Sin Cara for most of the match. The highlights were Roman Reigns performing a double spear on Sin Cara, and one of the Matadores, as well as a Hart Attack style Superman Punch. There were light chants for Reigns.

-Cameron beat Aksana. Chris described it as “a boring waste of my time.” Charles said it was not terrible. Cameron won with a roll up.

-There was a Bad News Barrett segment. He said for once the crowd is as “high” as he is. He ripped on the Olympic training center, and how the U.S. is going to have the lowest medal count since 1988. This concluded the Main Event taping.

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Results were courtesy of ProWrestling.net.

WWE Raw Rundown – 8/5/2013

Show opened with the long intro, and traditional fireworks. Finally!

Opening Segment w/Stephanie McMahon: Stephanie was in the ring, and she reminded everybody of her ambitious idea to transform Daniel Bryan to somebody Vince McMahon might like. The camera cut to a spa scene and showed D-Bry getting papmered. Next, there was a montage of Bryan working out and getting pumped. He then went to a Texas Roadhouse and ATE MEAT (because apparently corporate champions are required to break their vegan vows). Finally, the last clip showed him at a tailor getting fitted for a designer suit. [Read more...]

Between The Ropes Wrestling Podcast – July 15, 2013

Brian and Steve talk about Sunday’s Money in the Bank PPV including Damien Sandow and Randy Orton each winning the ladder matches, the physicality of the All-Stars ladder match, a really good John Cena vs. Mark Henry match, possibilities now for SummerSlam, the Ultimate Warrior working with the WWE for the new 2K14 video game, last week’s grand opening of the WWE Performance Center and more.

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WWE Money in the Bank 2013 – Staff Predictions

WWE_Money_In_The_Bank_2013_posterLater today is the WWE Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Here is the predictions from the Between The Ropes staff for each match on the show.

WWE Tag Team Championship:  The Shield vs. The Usos (kickoff match)

Brian Fritz:  WWE has ben putting in a little more for the Usos as of late to try and make them look like a legitimate threat to The Shield.  But they really aren’t.  I hope more is done with the WWE tag-team division but it has to be built around The Shield at the top and they need a long reign so it won’t end here.

Steve Muelhausen:  Hard to believe this match is the kickoff match starting at 7:30p ET at every possible platform online. The match should be good based on the four talents but I see Rollins and Reigns retaining.

Michael A. Wiseman:  Considering The Usos have only been relevant for a day or two, I’m going to have to go with The Shield here.  The Usos have been highlighted effectively in the last few weeks. Before they won their title shot, though, they had little-to-no air time on the major WWE shows. I’m glad creative is trying something new here, but I don’t think they’re putting any long-term focus on The Usos – at least not enough to give them the gold.

Marshall Bowen:  Show of hands, who thinks that WWE spent all that time building up The Shield for Rollins and Reigns to lose to the Usos, who haven’t had a solid direction in the entirety of their short WWE careers? No, nobody? It’s pretty obvious that they needed to throw together something of a worthy pre-show to what is steadily becoming a major event for WWE and a tag title match fills that void nicely. Look for The Shield to retain.

Chris Jericho vs. Ryback

Brian:  While Ryback is in a much bigger need for a win, I think Chris Jericho gets the victory.  But Ryback gets his revenge on Raw the following night with Vickie Guerrero by his side.  I can easily see a scenario where Ryback takes out Jericho to not only get some steam back but also as a way to explain Jericho’s latest break with his WWE contract about to expire and him going on tour with his band Fozzy.

Steve:  It is hard to see where WWE is going considering there was really no buildup this week for this match. You had Jericho have two matches with Curtis Axel and Ryback working with the Miz. Jericho will be taking a hiatus from WWE. Ryback gets a much needed win here.

Michael:  Ryback’s character seems to be in a funk, and Chris Jericho has taken a backseat to pretty much every other storyline in the company. This past Monday night hinted at a change in Ryback’s character.  Will we see it play this Sunday? I think Ryback wins as a way to re-establish himself, and that Jericho’s reputation for putting over young, new starts remains intact.

Marshall:  I’m shooting widely in guessing on this one only because this match has no direction towards it and say Jericho wins. Hopefully this can go somewhere and both of these men can get back to something interesting and not thrown into nothing matches to fill time on the pay per view.

Divas Championship: AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn
Brian:  I’m not the biggest fan of this storyline and don’t like it when WWE does these petty ‘you’re fat’ angles, especially with the women.  But AJ has broken out as the star of the division both in the ring and out with her promos.  AJ gets the victory here and next up a likely split from Dolph Ziggler.

Steve:  I have really intrigued with this feud. Lee has been really solid on the mic and Kaitlyn has played her role well. Best feud for the women’s division in a long time. I see Lee retaining.

Michael:  It’s refreshing to see the Divas division highlighted in such an effective fashion. I think the last week or two has been more of the same (AJ, we get it, you think Kaitlyn is chubby), but both of these ladies have delivered on their promos. Ultimately, I think AJ walks away with the win here (and, as a result, her ego causes a split with Dolph Ziggler). These two should put on an entertaining match come Sunday, and I think this rivalry will carry the division through to SummerSlam.

Marshall:  As is the case with The Shield, WWE didn’t spend all that time building up AJ for a Diva’s title run to hot potato it back to Kaitlyn weeks later, AJ wins with some help from Big E and we all get to hope this match is better than the more recent meetings between these two.
Intercontinental Title:  Curtis Axel vs. The Miz

Brian:  I’m not sure exactly what the WWE has planned for either of these guy in the coming months.  I’m one of the few people that still really likes Curtis Axel but he needs more opportunity to speak and go through those growing pains so he can improve.  Typically, being on the main roster is not a place for that but he needs it, even with Paul Heyman in his corner.  As for The Miz, this guy headlined WrestleMania a few years ago and now he is trying to land a secondary title so his stock isn’t very high.  While I want to see Axel get into the bigger picture, I think he’ll have to wait but in the meantime, he’ll remain the Intercontinental Champion.

Steve:  Like how Axel has booked even though he lost to Jericho this week on Raw and Smackdown. That showed Axel can be beat and showed great intensity in losing. I don’t know what WWE is doing with The Miz. Doesn’t seem like they have no long term plan with him. Should be a solid match with Axel going over to retain the title.

Michael:  It’s easy to say Curtis Axel walks away with the championship just because WWE would be foolish to take the gold off of him during this build. On the other hand, I think The Miz is in greater need of this championship than Axel. Since this feud is probably just a placeholder to the next step of his push, I do think Curtis Axel retains on Sunday. Personally, I’d like to see him drop the title to The Miz and go on to bigger and better things.

Marshall:  Axel retains in what should be an entertaining match for the IC title to help legitimize his reign as IC champion with Paul Heyman by his side.

World Heavyweight Championship Contract Money in the Bank Ladder Match:  Wade Barrett, Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow, Dean Ambrose, Fandango, Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro

Brian:  This is the tougher of the two MITB ladder matches to predict.  The popular choice seems to be Wade Barrett which I am in favor for but I’ll go a little out of the box and go with Antonio Cesaro.  Now, I might be dead wrong on him but he’s been such a good worker and I think he’s awesome at his character.  He’s the younger (or newer) WWE guy that people seem to never bring up but now is the time for him to get his due.

Steve:  This has been the match put on the back burner due to the WWE Championship Money in the Bank match. Like the fact this match features all heels. All of these past matches have been good and this match should be no different. Feel that the favorites are Ambrose, Fandango and Sandow with Cesaro as the darkhorse. Going with Ambrose as he has the most upside out of these individuals and see how far he can go.

Michael:  Think Jack Swagger loses any sleep over the fact that he’s the only former World Champion in this match and not in the “All-Stars” one?  If I were a betting man, I’d put money on Wade Barrett to win here, since he looks the most poised to take his game to the next level. But the flashes of greatness I’ve seen from Antonio Cesaro in recent weeks make me consider him a close second. If Barrett does win, I expect him to cash in on Dolph Ziggler at some point down the road.

Marshall:  I call this one for either Swagger or Cesaro, with the edge towards Swagger. Their storyline has made for some great heel heat and winning the contract would only help to elevate that heat to the next level with the threat of an impending cash-in.

Money in the Bank All-Stars Ladder Match:  CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Rob Van Dam, Randy Orton, Christian and Sheamus will compete to win a contract for a WWE Championship Match

Brian:  All along, I’ve thought that Daniel Bryan was destined to win this match and I won’t change that prediction.  However, if you go by regular WWE booking, he has been winning a lot lately so that would seem he wouldn’t get the big win here.  But I think WWE is trying to put him on a big streak to cement him as a main-eventer and set up a big championship match for him against John Cena at SummerSlam.   I would not be surprised in the least though if Randy Orton won here.  The scenario I would like to see play out: Brock Lesnar takes Kane’s spot and win the match.

Steve:  The TBA is due to Kane being out of the match after getting brutally attacked by the Wyatt Family on Raw this past Monday. The match should be the match of the night with Punk, Bryan,Van Dam and Christian in the match. The favorite seems to be Daniel Bryan in this match as he is rumored to be headlining Summerslam. Think the wild card in this match is Van Dam as the returning star. Think Sheamus and Orton cause each other to not win, Punk getting screwed over somehow by Paul Heyman. Feel that Daniel Bryan wins the match and goes onto SummerSlam.

Michael:  Smart money says Daniel Bryan takes the briefcase and main-events SummerSlam with it. But I’m going to go out on a limb here say that RVD becomes Mr. Money in the Bank for a second time. We know Punk is feuding with Lesnar, Sheamus and Orton are both fillers here, and Christian is stuck in mid-card Hell again. So I think it’s only appropriate, in front of a jacked Philly crowd, that Rob Van Dam wins the match and cements his WWE homecoming.

Marshall:  Daniel Bryan wins this match and his second MITB contract. Since losing the Tag Team titles with Kane he’s really seemed to have the build that he had around the time he last won the contract.
World Heavyweight Championship:  Alberto Del Rio vs. Dolph Ziggler

Brian:  Ziggler has lost a bit of his “cool” factor over the past few weeks and it could be tough for him to get it back with his switch to a babyface.  I think it’s too early to take the title off Alberto Del Rio so I’ll say he retains but nothing would surprise me here.  I am glad that Del Rio is back being a heel which he is much better suited at.

Steve:  These guys had a really great match last month at Payback where Del Rio regained the title and saw a double turn as well. No Ricardo Rodriguez as he is suspended for 30 days for violating the wellness policy. Ziggler has looked really strong the last few weeks over Del Rio. Should be another great match with Del Rio retaining and this feud going on until SummerSlam.

Michael:  These guys have had a fantastic feud, but their time is about up. I think Ziggler ultimately wins here to finalizes his ongoing face turn.  Ziggler needs the title more than Del Rio to keep his status in the main event picture. Plus, the endless possibilities of Money in the Bank mean that Ziggler can win without actually leaving with the title. A triple-threat match including Ziggler, Del Rio, and Barrett would be fun for SummerSlam, and give Zigs one of those “overcoming the odds” moment that every babyface in WWE needs. Then again, I’m not a wrestling booker.

Marshall:  Del Rio retains and continues this feud with Ziggler into SummerSlam. This should be another guaranteed great match as Del Rio and Ziggler have always had high energy quality matches when they meet one on one.
WWE Championship:  John Cena vs. Mark Henry

Brian:  I gave away my prediction for this match coming off the All-Stars MITB ladder match with John Cena retaining.  This match may not be that great but the build up to it has been fantastic.  If Henry wins, I think were in line for the triple threat match at SummerSlam for the WWE Championship between Henry, Cena and Ryback and Daniel Bryan would remain out of the title picture for at least another month.

Steve:  The buildup has been better for this match than the two month feud with Cena and Ryback. Henry has been great here with his mic work and Cena as well for the mic work and selling Henry as a legit threat to win the title. The match won’t be a Flair-Steamboat classic, but the match should be passable. Feel this is Henry’s last go around and see Cena retaining and heading to SummerSlam.

Michael:  When this feud kicked off with Henry’s fantastic retirement speech, I really thought he had a chance at winning the WWE Championship. And while I still think he deserves it as the final notch in his career, recent weeks have me convinced that Cena is going to retain in another one of his “odds stacked against me” challenges. But hypothetically, if Henry were on the way out of WWE, wouldn’t a win for him be the perfect goodbye? Then, his rematch with John Cena at SummerSlam with a retirement stipulation would feel like a huge deal. Alas, the year of CENA continues…

Marshall:  Cena retains, flat out. Mark Henry has no shot of being WWE Champion in 2013. World Champ again, maybe, but not the big prize.

WWE Smackdown Rundown – May 24th, 2013

smackdownDecent edition of Smackdown this week.  Show kicked off fun and had a few short, but entertaining, matches. Unfortunately, it felt like it lacked any real star power.

The Good:

Opening Segment – Miz TV w/ Fandango: While I’m not normally a huge fan of the Miz TV segments, I thought this one did a good job of helping build towards the Intercontinental Championship match later.  There were a few great throwaway lines by Miz here – “Your ego is the only thing more annoying than your name” and calling Fandango a “bag of skittles” both stood out.  Furthermore, Wade Barrett coming out and interrupting made sense (because of what happened on Raw), and it seemed like a great way to kick-off an Intercontinental Championship feud. Barrett also got a few cheers for attacking Fandango. Could a possible face turn be in his future? I think it could be refreshing for his career if handled correctly.

Miz vs Wade Barret for the IC Championship ends in DQ when Fandango Interferes: This was a soft “good” for me. While the back-and-forth between Miz and Barrett was fun for the 30 seconds it lasted, Fandango’s dancing just made everything too distracting from the in-ring product. However, I liked it because it furthered the storyline between the three men, and It’s been awhile since we’ve had a good mid-card championship feud.

Daniel Bryan def. Jack Swagger: These two weren’t given much time to work, but they still put together a fun match. I loved the ending here, with Swagger in the “no-lock” almost reaching the ropes and still tapping out. I also thought the announcers did a good job of building up how important this match was to Bryan and regaining his confidence by proving he isn’t the weak-link.

Great ending, with Swagger in the “no-lock” almost reaching the ropes but still tapping out.. Short match, broken up by a commercial break, but I like the story it tells about Bryan. He’s trying to prove himself and build back up his psyche. Nice storytelling here for Bryan. Too bad Swagger is not in a free-fall…again.

Damien Sandow Segment: This guy is money on the mic. He speaks down the audience, and carries that air of superiority better than almost any other heel on the roster. I loved the “Call Washington! I’ve just found the problem in the education system!” directed at Matt Striker and his substitute-teaching background.  Sheamus came out, which was actually a fun surprise. I think he works really well in this “correcting the heel” type-role (as he did with Henry). Is it too much to ask for a feud between these two? Sandow looked smart by escaping the Brogue kick, but looked really dumb afterwards when Striker landed on him.

Jericho def. Big Show via count-out: OK match. Slow, plodding pace at first, but they picked it up towards the end with a good number of reversals. Entertaining with a good small guy vs. big guy dynamic in play. On the other hand, it felt like they left this open for more. Is this a rivalry anybody really wants to see?

The Shield def. Randy Orton, Sheamus, and Kofi Kingston: While this format feels a little old, and the match from Monday night was better, these guys all put out a pretty good effort here. Glad The Shield won again, and I’m always happy to see Kofi Kingston wrestle with the big boys.

 

The Bad:

Team Hell No backstage segment: This one almost ended up as a “good” for me, simply because I like the fact that this backstage segment helped build up a story. However, I fear that WWE is handling this one all wrong. The focus is too much on Bryan being crazy and Kane being the sympathetic one. I still think there’s money to be made with this team and it’s revenge on The Shield.  I also believe Bryan has a lot more to offer as a face, and Kane likewise as a heel, especially if they ever pull the trigger on a rivalry between these two.

Curtis Axel def. Sin Cara: For starters, WHY is Sin Cara still allowed to wrestle with the lights down like that? What makes him special now? This would have been much more impressive had Axel come out and dominated here. Instead, he looks like just another mid-carder here who barely pulls of a win against Sin Cara, a guy we rarely see on TV anymore. Is this what being a “Paul Heyman Guy” does for you? Disappointing.

Dean Ambrose vs. Kofi Kingston for the U.S. Championship ends in DQ: This match kicked off with a fun, fast pace. These two work very well together. However, after about three minutes, The Shield came out to interfere (so why did Ambrose tell them to stay back at the beginning?), followed by Orton and Sheamus to save the day.

This didn’t make sense to me. Shouldn’t Kane and Bryan be interfering? Also, I thought Orton and Sheamus had moved on past their feud with The Shield?  Furthermore, Teddy Long had to come out and make it a “three-on-three” match, as though we haven’t seen enough of those recently.  Actually, he said, “This show isn’t going to end like that!” (in reference to the brawl). Of course it isn’t, Teddy, there’s still about 20 minutes left in the show.  But I guess that’s the new format for Smackdown – let everybody interfere, and make your main even a “surprise” tag-team matchup. It just feels stale.

 

The Ugly:

Fake Audience Noises: The crowd doesn’t go from dead silence, to maximum boo/cheer level, back to dead silence like that.

Fandango on Commentary: Not to knock his skills here, but he sounds like a phone-sex operator.

ECU is Josh Matthews favorite university: As an NC State graduate (known rival of the ECU Pirates), this displeases me greatly.

Between The Ropes – January 10, 2013 | Kofi Kingston

kofi kingstonWWE superstar Kofi Kingston talks about the 20th anniversary of Raw, his favorite memory from the show, comparing the Attitude Era to now, his recent matches with Wade Barrett, bringing out the wildcat in him, the road to WrestleMania and more.

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