The Delco Elbow Drop

Friday, January 30, 2015

Royal Rumble 2015 – What went wrong, part 2

After posting my thoughts on the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble yesterday, I wanted to write another article (this one will be shorter – I promise) about why the crowd in Philadelphia reacted the way they did to Roman Reigns winning the Rumble.

I wanted to write a more concise piece about the outcome of the Rumble because I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot of backlash about the reaction that Reigns got – with a lot of it aimed at Philadelphia fans and the perceived “IWC” wrestling fans specifically.

I’ll say this right away – like I did in my last piece – Roman Reigns didn’t deserve the negative reaction he got after he won the 2015 Royal Rumble. The booing and chants opposing his victory weren’t necessarily a reaction to the fact that Reigns won the annual event, rather they were a reaction to booking decision by WWE overall and it’s unfortunate that the reactions to those decisions came down squarely on what should have been a crowning achievement in the career of Reigns.

The biggest problem many fans have with WWE right now is the treatment (or rather, perceived treatment) of Daniel Bryan. Here, we have a man who has worked for many, many years to hone his skill in the sport of professional wrestling. He started training when he was in high school, made his professional debut in 1999 and has been working nonstop since then to be, one of, if not the best in the world.

And despite Bryan’s technical mastery in the ring, his heartfelt work on the mic and the support he has from the fans, the powers that be in WWE deigned that he is not now, nor will he ever truly be “the guy.”

The crowds love Daniel Bryan. They love his attitude, his skill, his quiet-yet-confident personality. They chant his name. They lead “Yes!” chants whenever he is mentioned. They buy his merchandise. Yet, despite all this vocal fan support (which also amount to money in WWE’s pocket), the WWE was dragged begrudgingly into putting him in the title picture leading into Wrestlemania 30 and has, allegedly, decided that he will never return to that position.

And the fans notice this. They see him feuding with Kane, losing to Bray Wyatt and entering the Royal Rumble in the first third of the competition, only to be eliminated minutes later. The fans want Daniel Bryan and they want him in a better position in the WWE – and the WWE is resisting every step of the way.

But what does this have to do with Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble, you might be asking?

You see, the overwhelming support for Daniel Bryan is due to the WWE’s fans wanting someone new at the top, they want someone fresh. For the past decade or more, the biggest storylines in WWE have been ruled by a few familiar faces – John Cena, Randy Orton, Triple H and a handful of others (like Kane, Sheamus, Big Show, etc.). CM Punk was another man who did not fit the WWE mold but received overwhelming crowd support, sold merchandise by the ton and the WWE was basically forced to recognize his popularity with a spot at or near the top of the card.

During Punk’s rise, Daniel Bryan’s stock was rising but it was only when Punk walked out that the fans turned to Daniel Bryan as their choice. Both Punk and Bryan, though having different in-ring styles, took similar paths to the WWE and the fans, more savvy to the business now than ever before, respected the work these men put into their craft and supported them.

But all while the fans were voicing their support for guys like Punk and Bryan, the decision-makers in WWE continued to put the same faces at the top of the card. It’s why Cena has been getting such mixed reactions for several years and why the crowd booed Batista’s win at the 2014 Royal Rumble. The fans acknowledge the time that men like Punk and Bryan have dedicated to professional wrestling, yet the WWE seems to be actively ignoring their cheers and push other stars.

But considering this, one would think that Roman Reigns’ win at the Rumble would have been received in a different light. Doesn’t Reigns represent a change at the top of the card? Well, yes and no.

It’s true that Reigns is new blood in the main event picture, which is something that the fans have been clamoring for. But at the same time there are other stars who have been in the WWE longer than Reigns who fans want to see given a chance at the top – stars like Daniel Bryan and to a lesser extent, Dolph Ziggler.

As mentioned earlier, fans today are more savvy to the professional wrestling business than ever before. We’re aware of the pedigree wrestlers bring into the WWE and wrestling fans today appreciate the hard work these men have done to reach the biggest stage in professional wrestling. Where Bryan and Ziggler represent men who have worked for years inside and outside of the WWE system to earn the respect of the fans and slaved to reach their spot on the card, Reigns represents the opposite, a wrestler chosen for that spot by WWE management and not by the fans.

Where Bryan debuted in 1999 and worked through the indies to get to WWE and Ziggler debuted in 2004 and worked through WWE developmental system and persevered through several horrible gimmicks to get to reach his current role, Reigns only debuted in 2010, was in WWE developmental for two years and in The Shield for two years before turning into a singles competitor in June of 2014. The fans have responded well to Reigns since going solo but, savvier fans we are today, either do not think Reigns is ready for a main event spot yet or feel that there are others more deserving of that spot but have been overlooked for whatever reason.

The reaction to Reigns’ Royal Rumble win wasn’t out of negative feelings toward Reigns himself. Nor was it due to a feeling that he doesn’t have potential to someday be “the guy.” The reaction at the Royal Rumble was due to the fans understanding the product well-enough to recognize the effort men like Bryan and Ziggler and want them in the limelight and not someone who has been pushed too hard, too fast.

It’s times like these that make me think the powers that be in WWE still think of pro wrestling fans as the witless suckers of days past, content to take whatever is given, before the business was exposed to the degree it is today. But those times are gone. You can’t tell modern fans that someone with two years’ experience on the main roster and mere months as a singles wrestler is more qualified for a main event spot than men who have been working twice as long for that same opportunity and expect them to take WWE at their word.

Fans today won’t accept “Because we say so” as the reason for someone’s main event push and that is why Roman Reigns was booed after winning the 2015 Royal Rumble.

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

WWE Royal Rumble 2015 – What went wrong

“And everything seemed to be going so well.”

I use this line from “Sin City” a lot (though I don’t think many get the reference) but I felt it was a pretty apt way to describe what happened at the 2015 WWE Royal Rumble.

The show leading up to the Rumble match itself was pretty good, bolstered by a hot Philadelphia crowd and an amazing triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. But then things…took a turn. After a series of booking decisions that were odd at best and terrible at worst, Roman Reigns emerged victorious from the Rumble match, only to be greeted with thunderous boos from the crowd in the Wells Fargo Center.

How did this happen? But more importantly – how could this happen TWO YEARS in a row?

Follow me now as I take a look at the card in its entirety, but focusing mainly on the Rumble itself.

Team C.A.T. vs. The New Day (Preshow)
Known online as Team Uppercat, Swinging Cats, or the Masters of the (WWE) Universe, Cesaro and Tyson Kidd (who tweeted their name was Team C.A.T. – Cesaro, Adam, and Tyson) faced Big E and Kofi Kingston of The New Day on the preshow.
It was an unspectacular match in itself, with the most memorable moments being the obvious cheers that Cesaro and Kidd received (despite being the heels) and the audible pop for Cesaro’s giant swing. But don’t you know – he’s Swiss, so he’s not getting over with the fans.
Other than the obviously positive reaction for Cesaro and Kidd, my favorite part of the preshow match was the Bullet Club-style “Brass Ring Club” shirts that Cesaro, Kidd and Rose were wearing.

The Ascension vs. The New Age Outlaws
The Ascension debuted on the main roster after spending a long time in developmental and many people had high hopes for the team. Despite being saddled with a gimmick that’s obviously biting off 80s-style tag teams, the duo of Konnor and Viktor are a talented team that works well together in the ring.
For weeks leading up to the Royal Rumble, JBL had been completely burying the team on commentary for daring to say they were superior to the tag teams they are modeled after (such as the Legion of Doom or Demolition). On the final Raw before the Rumble, The Ascension confronted Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and X-Pac before being outnumbered by the A.P.A. and the New Age Outlaws. JBL leveled Viktor with a Clothesline from Hell and a match between the Ascension and the Outlaws was set for the Rumble.
Thankfully, the Ascension actually got the win at the Rumble and looked pretty good doing it. They worked well as a team and though I wouldn’t call their performance dominant, they were definitely in control for the entire match. I wouldn’t be against the Ascension taking on a “tag team legend killer” angle, but I think having them move onto destroying current tag teams would be a better move for the duo.

The Usos (c) vs. Miz and Mizdow

WWE Tag Team Championships
The Usos have been a visible tag team on the main roster for years but it’s only been since the early months of 2014 that they won their first tag team titles and became the team to beat in the tag division.
Miz and Mizdow, on the other hand, are a much newer team but due to the dynamic of Mizdow being Miz’s stunt double and mimicking everything that Miz does, the team (well, Mizdow) has become hugely popular. But since Mizdow started getting a noticeable reaction from the crowd, it was obvious that their eventual implosion was inevitable. And it’s only been within the past few weeks that it became apparent the meltdown would be coming soon.
At the Royal Rumble, Miz and Mizdown had a shot at the Uso’s tag team titles. Mizdow has been getting huge pops for some time now but it’s only been recently that Miz has realized the cheers are for Mizdow and not himself.
Almost as soon as the match began, the crowd started chanting “We want Mizdow.” But The Miz never tagged Mizdow into the match. He acted like he was going for a tag but taunted the fans and Mizdow when those tags never came. Later on, Miz threw Mizdow into a dive over the top rope by one of the Usos (and then proceeded to not catch the others’ dive).

(But Miz has a history of not being the best at catching people.)

The Royal Rumble match itself would have been an ideal place to further the disintegration of the Miz/Mizdown team…but apparently WWE didn’t think so. More on that later.

The Bellas vs Natalya and Paige
Not much to say about this one – which is unfortunate because the WWE has the ability to write better storylines for the Divas, but just doesn’t. Paige and Natalya are two of the best female wrestlers in the world and even the Bella Twins are showing signs of improvement. But that still doesn’t change the fact that there was no discernable story going into this match other than “these Divas just don’t like each other.”
And what’s worse is that the Divas division seems to be nothing but a means for the WWE to advertise the “Total Divas” reality show. Despite having wrestlers who are actually talented in-ring performers, the WWE is content to use them to shill an awful reality show and not use them in meaningful, interesting storylines.

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins
WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Going into this match, I’ll admit I didn’t have very high hopes. I’m a big fan of Seth Rollins, but I felt like his inclusion in this match didn’t make sense since he holds the Money in the Bank briefcase. And, because we’ve seen Lesnar vs Cena many times already, I wasn’t too keen on seeing it again.
But man, this match was amazing. Easily one of the best matches WWE has produced in a long time.
Lesnar was an absolute beast in this match. Everything he did looked like it would maim or kill a normal human being and he was able to dominate both Cena and Rollins. Cena held his own in this match and was involved just enough to make it palatable but Rollins was the real star here.
Even in a losing effort, Rollins’ part in this match was nearly flawless. He threw himself from the top rope with reckless abandon and sold Lesnar and Cena’s offense perfectly. Not only that but he played the role of a top heel perfectly, picking his spots while leaving Lesnar to handle Cena and making liberal use of J & J Security (Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) to help further his cause.
What was interesting about this match was the amount of praise Lesnar got from the crowd. Maybe it was because the Rumble was in Philadelphia (OK – it was definitely because the Rumble was in Philadelphia) that Lesnar was cheered so much – but it also goes to show how good a heel Rollins is that he wasn’t cheered equally loudly in Philly.
With Lesnar retaining the championship (despite the immense amount of punishment he took from both Cena and Rollins) he has a ton of momentum heading into Wrestlemania. It will be interesting to see if the WWE plays up the cheers he got during this match and tease a face turn – but considering who he will face at Wrestlemania, that doesn’t seem likely.

The Royal Rumble
It’s hard to really put this match into words – mostly because there’s only so many ways you can say “poorly booked.”
The Royal Rumble show as a whole gained a lot of positive momentum as it went on. The preshow match was good; The Ascension got a needed win; The Miz and Mizdow drama is escalating; the Divas put on a good (but ultimately pointless) match; and the World title triple threat match was incredible. All the Rumble match had to do was be good and the 2015 Royal Rumble would be looked back on as one of the better Pay-Per-Views in recent memory.
Unfortunately, the Rumble was anything but good. It started slowly and seemed to pick up steam but booking decisions that ranged from “safe” to “boring” to “questionable” to “downright awful” plagued the majority of it and the outcome left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
I don’t want to analyze every entrance and exit, but there are major points I want to hit:

- The Miz and R-Truth were the first entrants into the Rumble. Now, it would seem like the Rumble would be the perfect place to further the Miz/Mizdow storyline, right? Plenty of opportunities for friction as well as chances for great comedy spots where Miz could be thrown out, or almost thrown out, with Mizdow following suit or debating on whether to follow suit. But would that happen? You guessed it – nope. Heck, Miz and Mizdow weren’t even in the Rumble at the same time.

- Bubba Ray Dudley made his long awaited return to WWE. He was in the match for a few minutes early on and even eliminated Miz and Truth. But what was the point of having such a big ECW pop so early in the Rumble, especially when there weren’t any other ECW pops to be had in the birthplace of Extreme Championship Wrestling?
Not to mention, I found it kinda odd that WWE would have Bubba Ray treat Truth like he’s D-Von. Their shtick wasn’t overtly racist or anything, but it definitely would give you pause if it were a question on Tosh.0’s “Is It Racist?”
If WWE had brought in D-Von Dudley as well, a better use of the Dudleys would have been in a confrontation with The Ascension, but there is still time to hopefully build toward that at Wrestlemania.

-Bray Wyatt competed in his first Rumble and had a really good showing. He eliminated several Superstars (including Luke Harper and Erick Rowan after teasing a reunion with Harper) and even cut a promo during the match. Bray looked like the only person truly dedicated to winning as he tied Rusev and Reigns for most eliminations (6) and spent over 45 minutes in the match.
But, in the end, he was thrown out with little fanfare by Kane and Big Show. Don’t worry, there’ll be more on them later.
-Daniel Bryan. Poor Daniel Bryan. He entered the match at #10 to arguably the biggest pop of the entire show. But unfortunately, Vince McMahon doesn’t love Daniel Bryan as much as the WWE Universe does because he barely had any impact on the Rumble at all. After almost a year on the shelf and a huge deal made about his comeback and entering the Royal Rumble, he was eliminated after only about 10 minutes by Bray Wyatt.
Bryan was barely a footnote in the match despite many pegging him as an odds-on favorite. No tenacious underdog performance. No amazing comeback. No defying-all-odds win from an early spot. No “skinning the cat” or other impressive feats of rallying in the Rumble. Just tossed over the top by Rusev and casually knocked off the apron by Wyatt.
After his elimination, you could just feel the life and enthusiasm sucked out of the crowd as almost every entrant afterward was met by a chorus of boos. The crowd would continue to chant “Daniel Bryan” throughout the rest of the match, almost in disbelief that he had been thrown out so early and so unceremoniously.
Word online is that Vince thinks it’s the Yes chant that’s over, not Bryan himself. Vince also thinks that, despite the fans’ obvious love for Bryan, putting him in the main event of Wrestlemania two years in a row would be “repetitive.” This, from the man who booked Rock vs Cena as “Once in a Lifetime” at Wrestlemania 28…and then booked Rock vs Cena again at Wrestlemania 29. As well as putting Cena in the main event at Wrestlemania 22, 23, 27, 28 and 29, often in a championship match.
But no – putting Bryan into the main event of ‘Mania two years in a row is what would be “repetitive.”

Vince knows what the fans want
-Mizdow entered at #21 and got the best reaction since Bryan’s elimination. Miz showed up and demanded his spot…only to be mushed off the apron by Reigns. Mizdow looked, for a moment, as if he might retaliate against Miz but never did. He entered the ring but didn’t even last half a minute before being eliminated by Rusev.
But the goodwill earned by Mizdow’s appearance turned back to boos once he was tossed. Even though they used the Rumble to further the Miz/Mizdow story, I can’t help but think it would’ve been better if they had been in the ring at the same time.

- When Big Show entered at #29, there were 10 men in the Rumble – the most to that point. As the crowd began chanting “We want Ziggler,” knowing the Showoff must be entrant 30, Show and Kane started working together to eliminate fan favorites like Ryback, Ambrose and Wyatt. Once Dolph Ziggler got in the ring, he only lasted a few minutes before Show and Kane threw him out too.
WHY? What was the point of eliminating so many wrestlers the fans actually like in such quick succession and having guys the fans are tired of be the ones to do it? Why have Ziggler be the last to enter, when the crowd knows full well he earned a spot in the Rumble? It was such a waste giving that spot to someone you know was in the Rumble and not have it be a surprise.

-By the final four (Big Show, Kane, Ambrose and Reigns), the crowd was booing the match steadily. Perhaps because they could see the writing on the wall, that Reigns, the hand-picked successor to Cena, was most definitely going to Wrestlemania this year and not the crowd favorite Daniel Bryan. (The final four was actually Show, Kane, Reigns and Rusev, but Rusev hid outside the ring until Reigns was the only one left.)
Once Kane and Show tossed Ambrose, you could sense that WWE had hoped the crowd would be behind Reigns fighting against The Authority’s two monsters. But like last year, WWE failed to read the crowd at large – especially the crowd in Philly – and neglected to push the man they wanted most. As Show and Kane worked over Reigns, the crowd even began to chant “Bullsh*t” and “We want D-Bry.” Because even as Kane and Show started fighting each other, the booing continued, hinting that their dislike was aimed at something larger than just what was happening in the ring.
When Reigns eliminated both Kane and Show, the booing abated, but only momentarily. When the two monsters came back in the ring to attack Reigns, out of nowhere, The Rock appeared in the Wells Fargo Center. As he raced to the ring, “The Great One” got a big pop but that didn’t change the overall temperament of the crowd.
Once Reigns tossed the reemerging Rusev after just a few seconds, the booing came back in full force.
It was an unfortunate night that WWE so handily misjudged their audience and subjected both Reigns and The Rock to the ire of the WWE Universe, who had pledged their support to another Superstar long ago. As The Rock raised Reigns’ hand, the look on his face betrayed his emotions – that he was wholly unprepared for the reception that Reigns got as the winner of the 2015 Royal Rumble. By the same token, one can only assume that Vince and whoever else booked the Rumble had no idea this was coming either.

The Rock is clearly unsure about what is happening
It’s hard to say what WWE, Vince, Triple H and Stephanie thought would happen. By announcing Daniel Bryan returning in time for the Rumble, it was almost as if they were teasing he would win it. He seemed sure he would win and the fans believed it. After he was eliminated, the entire mood of the audience changed and not even The Rock could change their minds.
I can’t help but think that if they hadn’t announced Daniel Bryan for the Rumble at all, the reaction that Reigns’ victory got would’ve been quite different.
Vince making it Reigns
And I feel bad for Roman Reigns. I really do. He didn’t deserve the reaction he got. But WWE should have realized what was going to happen by treating Daniel Bryan the way they did.
The WWE knew how much the fans wanted to see him win, so they dangled it in front of our faces, then threw it away. And for what? So Daniel Bryan can go back to a meandering, directionless feud with Kane? Or maybe feud with Bray Wyatt (again) since he was the one who eliminated him?
These are not answers. These are not legitimate possibilities for a man that is more popular with the crowd than the company’s hand-picked golden boys, John Cena and Roman Reigns.
It’s amazing to me how badly WWE botched two Royal Rumbles in a row. The 2014 and 2015 Rumbles are indicative of how little the WWE cares about what their audience wants or, by the same token, how little they know what their audience wants.
One thing is for sure though – Pennsylvania will never get another Royal Rumble again.

(I should also point out a lot of these gifs came from

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NXT, Lucha Underground and Indy Wrestling Minute - Your Weekly Source for Independent Wrestling News

With the shenanigan-fest that was the 2015 Royal Rumble (which I will post a write up for soon), let’s focus on something positive – NXT, Lucha Underground and Indy Wrestling Minute! NXT is hotter than ever and with new talent showing up on Lucha Underground all the time, these shows are getting better every week. Not to mention the tons of independent wrestling that you can indulge in if you take the time to seek it out – or just read Delco Elbow Drop to stay on top of everything!

NXT, 1/21
Starts with a replay of Kevin Owens attacking Sami Zayn after R Evolution. Shows highlights of the Adrian Neville/Zayn rematch last week ending with Owens’ attack after the match.
William Regal announces that the next NXT special is on Feb. 11. Also announces a tournament to determine a #1 contender for the NXT title. And because of the tag match last week, Sasha Banks gets a shot at Charlotte’s NXT Women’s title.
Sami Zayn out to the ring to open the show. He immediately attacks Tye Dillinger who is already in the ring. Lays him out and throws Dillinger over the ropes. Zayn gets on the mic and demands that Kevin Owens come out to the ring. But William Regal comes to the ring instead and asks him what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing. This isn’t the Zayn he knows and he can’t act like this. Zayn says he isn’t wrestling one more match unless it’s against Kevin Owens.
Regal says he won’t allow people to jump the chain of command and attack people to get championship matches. Owens may get a title shot one day but he hasn’t earned a title match and he’s not gonna get one. Zayn says he’ll do anything Regal wants but he needs to get his hands on Kevin Owens. And on Feb 11, Zayn will face Kevin Owens in a nontitle match.
Next week on NXT, there’s gonna be a contract signing for the nontitle match so you know there’s not going to be any shenanigans or anything involved.
Curtis Axel up to take on Finn Balor in the number one contender’s tournament. Axel starts jaw jacking with the crowd and trash talking Finn but Balor takes him out of the ring with a drop kick and follows it with a tope con hilo over the top rope. Axel back in the ring and Balor with a gamanguri and Axel in the ropes and kicks out Balor’s knee as he moves in.
Balor ducks a clothesline but Axel hits him in the back with one. Stomps on him and chokes him out in the corner. Axel follows it up with a dropkick of his own and the crowd boos. Axel drops a few elbows on his head and keeps him on the mat with a chinlock. Balor fights to his feet but Axel takes him down with a knee lift and gets a 2.
Axel from the second rope drops and elbow but misses. Balor hits two quick forearms followed by a Pele kick and a Tanahashi sling blade. He hits a stiff dropkick on Axel in the corner who crumples to the mat and Balor drops a double foot stomp from the top to get the win and advance.
8 men in the #1 contender’s tournament. Neville/Kidd will face Balor. Then winner of Hideo Itami vs Tyler Breeze and Bull Dempsey vs Baron Corbin face off.
Sasha Banks tells Devin Taylor that Charlotte isn’t going to have anyone to help her tonight and she will become the NXT Women’s champion. She asks if Devin has any more questions but whips her hair in Devin’s face and says “Don’t care” as she leaves. (So Bayley is coming back tonight, right?)
Sasha vs Charlotte now. They lock up and start throwing each other around in the collar tie. Graves talks about how they don’t get along and won’t be in the same room as each other in the Performance Center. Tie up again and keep pushing each other around and they tumble through the ropes and land hard on the floor and Charlotte up first, pounding on Sasha. Becky tries to get involved but Charlotte takes her down with a line.
Back in the ring, Charlotte bodyslam Sasha and gets a 2 off a knee drop. Sasha reverses a whip into a Thesz press. Charlotte reverses into one of her own. Becky gets in the ring and pulls Charlotte off Sasha and Euro uppercut Charlotte a few times. The ref calls for the bell and Sasha pushes Becky but then they both start putting the boots to Charlotte until Bayley makes the save!
Bayley takes the NXT Women’s title from the ref and gets an eye full of it before Charlotte takes it from her. Bayley gets a crazy look in her eye and turns Charlotte around and drops her with a Hugplex!
Regal comes out and says on Feb 11, Charlotte defends the title against Bayley, Becky and Sasha in a fatal four way.
Totally makes sense to advertise for a WWE video called “True Giants” about the biggest guys ever in WWF/WWE on a show where the most popular stars are Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and Hideo Itami. I’m sure it’s just Vince subtly taking a shot at the NXT guys by running this ad during NXT.
In the locker room, Kevin Owens is on his phone and some dude I’ve never seen comes up to him and asks his he can have a moment of his time. Owens looks at him and goes “Do you work here?” Owens says that whatever he has to say to Zayn, he’ll say it at the signing next week.
The Vaudevillains out to take on Wesley Blake and Buddy Murphy. Murphy starts with English and takes him down with a leg lariat. But English backs him into his own corner and puts the boots to him. Gotch tags in and they take control of Murphy. They use quick tags to keep Murphy on the mat until Murphy can leap over English to tag in Blake.
Blake takes down English with elbows and forearms, hits a springboard forearm and kips up and the crowd seems behind them. Blake powerslam English but Gotch breaks up the count. Murphy tries to throw Gotch out but gets tossed himself. Blake whips english who reverses but Blake pulls him down a Murphy hits him with a big kick from the floor and Blake gets the pin!
On a phone video, Tyler Breeze says it’s only a matter of time until he’s NXT Champion and once he is, he’s separating the world into super good looking people, and uggo people.
Murphy and Blake apparently get a shot at the Lucha Dragons NXT Tag Team Titles next week. I guess because there’s like, no tag teams in NXT.
Tyler Breeze to take on Hideo Itami now. Looks like Marcus Louis is stalking Breeze, he was watching him from behind the stage during his entrance. Then I thought I saw a dude decked out all in black coming down the ramp behind Breeze but it could’ve just been a stage hand.
Breeze and Itami tie up and Breeze ducks a few head kicks just barely. Breeze goads Itami in as the ref is between them and kicks him in the gut. Itami off the whip and kitchen sinks Breeze which seats him on the mat and Itami follows it with a kick to his chest. Itami cover and kick out at 1.
Back and forth match. Itami trying to use his strikes but Breeze keeps him off balance and grounded with a chin lock. Breeze spins Itami around with a neckbreaker and gets a 2. Itami gets to his feet and drops Breeze with 3 lines, catches a kick and sweeps the leg. Itami running knee to the corner and tiltawhirl drops the neck of Breeze on the top rope and gets a 2.
Breeze sets up for a power bomb and Itami kicks him in the face on the way up and gets a 2 off a Fisherman suplex. Breeze gets a 2 off a Super Model Kick.
Breeze sets Itami on the top rope but Itami fires back with punches. Itami goes for a big kick but Breeze catches it, boot to the stomach then takes him over with a crucifix bomb but gets a 2.
Breeze picks him up and yells in his face “You are not better than me! You don’t get to win!” and lays in punches. But Itami gets fired up and feels that fighting spirit and hits a huge combo of punches and kicks, hits a basement dropkick in the corner, takes Breeze to the center and hits a Sick Kick off the ropes and gets the pin. He’ll face the winner of Baron Corbin/Bull Dempsey next week.
Obviously, this is setting up for Balor vs Itami in the finals.

The NXT event scheduled for March in Columbus, Ohio sold out almost immediately, I’ve heard. The venue wasn’t very large but almost as soon as the tickets went on sale, they were all gone.

Lucha Underground, 1/21
Matt Striker and Vampiro opens LU by saying that King Cuerno and Drago will have a “Last Luchadore Standing” match tonight.
In the ring, Cortez Castro and Mr. Cisco are in the ring with weapons (with Bael). They take on Pimpinela Escarlata and Mascarita Sagrada.
See, this is why Lucha Underground (and lucha libre in general) gets about pro wrestling. Putting guys in the ring who are obviously at opposite ends of the personality/gimmick spectrum against each other to really get the crowd behind the faces and booing the heels. There isn’t much middle ground - you know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy from first glance.
Pimpy starts first against Cisco. He’s spinning around, enjoying the adulation of the crowd until Cisco attacks him. Cisco ties him up with a full nelson and Castro comes in to lay in punches but Pimpy wriggles free and ties up Castro with a knuckle lock. He jumps over Cisco and takes Castro to the corner, walking the ropes, leaps off and takes Cisco down with a head scissor and Castro down with an arm drag.
As Big Ryck makes his way down to the ring, Pimpy jumps into the arms of Cisco and tries to kiss him, but he pushes him off and rolls out of the ring. Pimpy turns his attention to referee Rick Knox and backs him up into the corner and wants to kiss him and Cisco runs at him from behind and just gets out of the way in time. Pimpy whips him into the opposite corner and Cisco gets out of the way and as he does, Cortez enziguri Pimpy, Cisco basement dropkick and Bael basement dropkick behind Knox’s back and The Crenshaw Crew is in firm control.
Cortez tags in and lays in punches followed by a gutwrench. Cisco back in and curb stomp and senton to Pimpy. Pimpy in their corner and trying to fight back but getting overwhelmed by all three Crenshaw Crew members.
Pimpy into the corner and Cortez follows but Pimpy sticks out his butt and Cortez runs into it and gets stunned. Pimpy uses the opening to tag in Sagrada who rana Cisco and a big tiltawhirl DDT but only a 2. Cortez tries to drop the elbow on him but hits Cisco. Cisco Mafia kick on Sagrada and they taunt the crowd. Picks up Sagrada and whips him off the ropes but he ducks them and tope con hilo through the ropes onto Bael.
In the ring, Pimpy knuckle lock on both guys, step up to the top, drop down spring board off the ropes and arm drag both over. He kisses Cisco who rolls out of the ring and Pimpy heads up top to splash all three Crenshaw Crew on the outside.
As he celebrates on the outside, Cisco sends Sagrada off the ropes and flapjacks him backward onto the knees of Cortez. Bael holds Pimpy’s legs so he can’t get in the ring before Sagrada is pinned.
Big Ryck in the ring with the Crenshaw Crew after the match. Vampiro says he’s smoking in a no smoking zone so you know he’s definitely a bad guy.
Ryck gives his cigar to Cisco to hold and he looks annoyed about it. Ryck takes the mic and says he wants to let everyone know (and turns to make it known he means the CrenshawCrew too) that he’s coming after the gold and whoever is holding it. But then, Cortez chop blocks Ryck and the Crew starts attacking him! They beat him down with punches and kicks and Cortez whacks him with a kendo stick. Bael and Cortez hold his arms down and Cisco burns Ryck’s face with the cigar! Striker says it was in his eye so I guess we’ll have to see if he’s wearing an eye patch next week. The Crew leaves the ring and heads into Dario Cueto’s office.
Cueto pays off the Crew and says “It was hard to Ryck to see how valuable we could be to one another. Now it will be hard for him to see anything!” They watch Cueto’s back and he’ll dig deeper.
Vampiro interviewing Cage. Says he doesn’t care that no one in the locker room likes him. He took out the champ because he’s not gonna wait in line because he’s better than everyone else.
Next, Super Fly in the ring to take on Pentagon Jr. Pentagon starts the match with a big super kick but after that, they kinda seem off, not on the same page. Pentagon pretty much has control of the match, hits a big chop and sends Super Fly to the floor and drops him on the mat with a big fireman carry.
That Asian chick is watching the match as Pentagon and Super Fly hit each other with clotheslines. Super Fly starts getting some momentum going, sending Pentagon to the floor and hitting a handspring moonsault over the ropes. He sends him back in and off the ropes looks to hit another moonsault but Pentagona hits him with a dropkick in mid-air. Pentagon wins with a Package Piledriver.
Pentagon on the mic. He thought Chavo was a legend. He thought Chavo could help him but he says Chavo is a fraud. He says there’s someone out there who can help him to the next level but doesn’t say who.
Sexy Star taking on Mariachi Loco. Striker says Loco used to work in a restaurant two blocks from the LU Temple and until one day he put on the mask and started training (No one cared who I was until I put on the mask…). Striker also says he goes around the ring after matches and asks for tips.
Loco tries to kiss her but Star fights him off. He gets a waist lock and she fights out of it and reverses it but Loco starts gyrating his hips and she pushes him into the ropes. She hits a big tiltawhirl headscissor off the ropes and takes Loco out of the ring. As he gets back in, she hits a big bicycle kick and stomps him. But Loco takes her down and smashes her face into the mat. He backs her into the corner and hits a big chop.
He sends her off the ropes but she catches herself and blows him a kiss to bait him in. He runs to her, she low bridges him out of the ring. She gets to the top and big cross body off the top. Sexy Star wins with a small package.
Main event time. Drago sidesteps a dropkick at the bell and takes Cuerno off his feet then hits a big running drop kick which sends Cuerno outside. Drago hits the ropes and a big tope con hilo and the ref starts the count but gets to his feet by an 8 count. Back in the ring, Drago drops Cuerno with a drapeing DDT. Up to his feet at 7 and rolls out of the ring. Drago follows him and runs off the apron at him for a rana but Cuerno catches him and drops him on the mat outside with a running sit out power bomb. As Drago tries to get to his feet, Cuerno kicks him hard in the midsection which drops him again.
Cuerno rolls him back in the ring and drops Drago on his head with two German suplexes and rolls through for another but lands a brainbuster instead.
Drago hits a blockbuster off the ropes followed by nuermouskicks to the midsection. He hits the ropes but Cuerno pulls the ref down in front of him to stop Drago. Drago hits the ropes against and as the ref gets up, he springboards off him to hit a leg lariat. Cuerno on the apron, Drago hits the ropes, leaps over and rana Cuerno to the floor. Drago pulls himself back in the ring and Cuerno makes his feet at 9. Cuerno back in the ring and hits a big head kick followed by a leg drop.
Cuerno sends Drago to the floor with a stiff missile dropkick. He follows it with a tope off the ropes then goes under the ring for a table. Cuerno picks him up and nails him head on the ring post several times before laying him on the table. Cuero looked to leap off the ropes but Drago tipped him up. On the apron, Drago lands several forearms. Looks for a Spanish Fly and Cuerno hooks the ropes. He elbows Drago in the head and drops Drago through the table with a Thrill of the hunt. But Drago starts getting up around 8 and Cuerno looks furious. Runs at him with a knee and throws him in the ring.
Stomps on him a few times and sends him to the corner with a dropkick. He runs from the opposite corner and lands a baement dropkick on a motionless Drago. Cuerno puls out some rope from under the ring and yells at the ref “No disqualification!” and starts to tie Drago to the bottom turnbuckle. Wraps it around his arms and neck and posts up on the ring post to choke out Drago and the ref is counting out Drago! King Cuerno wins and Drago is choked out in the corner and Cuerno puts his deer head dress on Drago’s head as refs try to untie him.

Chuck Taylor made a documentary. I haven’t watched much of it yet, but from what I can tell it’s about him and Trent? being best friends in China. And also just the tour in general that DG USA/Evolve did in China recently.

#RAWlternative numbers
The organizers of #RAWlternative were very happy with the turnout for the show, which had over 12,000 unique views and as many as 1,600 people watching at once. #RAWlternative was replayed last night and several indy companies (Smash Wrestling, FWE, and Chikara) also streamed shows on Monday with Raw being cancelled.

Justin Gabriel reportedly quit WWE, unhappy with his position in the company and being replaced in the Royal Rumble this year.
It was recently announced that Gabriel will make his first appearance on the indies at PWS’ “Frozen Fallout” on Jan. 31 in Rahway, New Jersey as part of a six-man match, taking the place of the injured AR Fox.
Gabriel will also now go by the name “Darewolf” PJ Black.

Upcoming shows
Beyond Wrestling “Hit and Run” – Saturday, Jan. 31
Chris Hero & JT Dunn vs. Biff Busick & Drew Gulak

“M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross vs. Anthony Stone
Team Pazuzu (Jaka, Pinkie Sanchez, Mike Draztik, Angel Ortiz) vs. Franky The Mobster, Buxx Belmar, Thomas Dubois, Mathieu St-Jacques

“Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Silver Ant

Shynron vs. Fire Ant

Kimber Lee vs. David Starr

The Hooligans (Devin Cutter & Mason Cutter) vs. Da Hoodz (Davey Cash & Kris Pyro)

Matt Tremont vs. Rickey Shane Page

Dave Cole vs. Davey Vega

Also scheduled:
-Chuck Taylor
-John Silver
-Orange Cassidy
-Ryan “Rush” Galeone
-Swamp Monster

FWE returns to action on Feb. 7, debuting at the World Resort Casino in Queens, NY. I’ve read it’s a big facility that has shuttle buses running to and from the venue too so it should be easy for fans to get to.

The card is stacked:
FWE Tri-Borough Champion Paul London takes on Matt Sydal in their first ever meeting

Drew Galloway vs Matt Hardy

Tommy Dreamer vs Joey Ryan

The Addiction vs Adrenaline Express

FWE Ladies Champion Candice LeRae vs Veda Scott

Juicy Product vs Trent? and Bandido Jr.

Katarina Leigh (Katie Lea/Winter) vs Taeler Hendrix

Johnny Gargano vs Brian Myers (Curt Hawkins)

Robbie E vs Orange Cassidy

CZW 16th Anniversary and WSU Anniversary Show doubleheader, Feb. 21 at the 2300 Arena (formerly the ECW Arena) in South Philadelphia. (From what I’m to understand, this show at The Arena is a one-time thing as CZW usually runs out of the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.)
WSU Anniversary
WSU World Championship
LuFisto (c) vs. Shanna

WSU Tag Team Championships
Juicy Product (c) vs. Chicks Using Nasty Tactics (Annie Social and Kimber Lee)

WSU Spirit Championship
Niya Barela (c) vs. Nevaeh

Tables, Ladders and Chairs
Hania vs. Athena

Sassy Stephanie vs. Tessa Blanchard
Cherry Bomb vs. Leva Bates
Brittany Blake vs. Jenny Rose
Micki Knuckles vs. Solo Darling

CZW 16th Anniversary Show
CZW World Championship
BLK Jeez vs. Chris Dickinson

CZW Tag Team Championships
OI4K vs. The Young Bucks

Ultraviolent Rules match
Matt Tremont vs. Stockade

Best of the Best qualifier
Sozio vs. Joey Janela

Best of the Best qualifier
Team Tremendous and Dick Justice vs. The Beaver Boys and Rex “Lawless” Silver

The next PWG show is scheduled for Feb. 27. No name announced yet.

Matt Sydal vs Ricochet

Best Friends vs Beaver Boys

Young Bucks vs Monster Mafia

Cedric (the) Alexander vs Tommaso Ciampa

Drew Gulak vs Chris Hero

“Speedball” Mike Bailey vs Biff Busick

Roderick Strong defends PWG World title against Trevor Lee

(Brian Cage and Uhaa Nation vs Young Bucks was announced but Uhaa can’t make it)
(Also, heard that World’s Cutest Tag Team and Johnny Gargano are in England that weekend)

Also, PWG Sells Out Volume 2 is back on sale. I have Volume 3 and it’s great so pick this up while you can.
Features matches like:
Frankie Kazarian, CM Punk and Joey Ryan vs Colt Cabana, Adam Pearce and Super Dragon (Pimpin’ in High Places, 2003)
Bryan Danielson vs AJ Styles (2005 BOLA)
Necro Butcher vs Super Dragon (2006 BOLA, No DQ match)
Alex Shelley vs Matt Sydal (2007 BOLA)
Roderick Strong vs Matt Sydal (ASW3 2006)
Kevin Steen and El Generico vs Davey Richards and Super Dragon (European Vacation 2, 2007)
Bryan Danielson vs Low Ki (ASW6 2008)
Low Ki vs El Generico (Pearl Habra, 2008)
El Generico, Kevin Steen and Susumu Yokosuka vs The Young Bucks and PAC (ASW 7 2008)

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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