Posts Tagged ‘Dolph Ziggler’

If at the end of 2015, somebody were to show you this image, and told you that it would be happening in 2016, odds are that you almost definitely wouldn’t believe then.

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SmackDown is live? AJ Styles is WWE Champ? And OH MY GOD James Ellsworth is… who’s James Ellsworth?

Looping best-of-three-PPVs feuds are so formulaic that it is easy for some to shrug proceedings off as boring. Has booking really been that uninteresting though? Of course not.

2016 sought to prove otherwise, and for better or for worse, did a great job. Over the last twelve months, WWE have dreamt up things that comedy sites like Kayfabe News wouldn’t have done. This is less about just devestating moments (for example, the retirement of Daniel Bryan caused massive upset), and more about the surprises. Here are some 100% true headlines surrounding booking choices that would have seriously confused any wrestling fan just one year ago.

CHRIS JERICHO (AT PEAK OF HIS CAREER) DEFEATS A.J. STYLES
(WrestleMania 32, April 3rd) 

Fans have been drinking in the Gift of Jericho. 2016 has been incredible for him, and he has been revered for his role in the top-tier, alongside Kevin Owens. He has been incredibly in touch with fans’ desires, even if it is wearing a scarf, growing a moustache and calling everyone “stupid idiots”. With such popularity, a victory for him might forgiven on most days. But this wasn’t ‘most days’. His opponent was A.J. Styles, who had arrived in Royal Rumble 2016.

The match itself was great, but the result angered many. Jericho had stated that he would be leaving WWE (liar!), and did not need this win. Regardless of the result, a lot of spectacular rare signature moves by Styles were wasted (such as Styles’ 450 Splash) and weakened in reputation by the 45-year-old Jericho kicking out. Looking back now, the result did no harm, and Styles is WWE Champion.

 THE ROCK DEFEATS ERICK ROWAN AT WRESTLEMANIA 32, TO MIXED RECEPTION
(WrestleMania 32, April 3rd)

This would have caused a lot of confusion, and disappointment when actually explained. This, for me, was the most infuriating part of WrestleMania – The Rock’s surprise appearance. It turned out that the disaster of his appearance at Royal Rumble ’15 was a one-off. Rocky came out to address the crowd for over twenty-minutes, reeling off (disproved) info on the record-breaking attendance, and the standard checklist of catchphrases.

The Wyatt Family arrived to face-off with The Rock. The Wyatts got a far more positive reaction than WWE had probably hoped, considering how The Rock insulted absolutely everything about their demeanour, rendering them obsolete. The last nail came when The Rock challenged Erick Rowan to a match, which lasted for six-seconds. Then a still injured John Cena helped take out the rest of The Wyatts.

Fans have wanted The Wyatts to catch their break forever. This segment was the epitome of booking stupidity.

SHANE MCMAHON’S WWE OWNERSHIP DREAMS REVIVED, AFTER HIS HIAC LOSS AGAINST THE UNDERTAKER, AT WRESTLEMANIA
(Raw, April 4th)

Where on earth does one begin with this one? How about at the end of the story. Shane McMahon was shockingly back and Vince McMahon welcomed him on the Raw after WrestleMania. However, the second half of the above statement shows that the journey to this point had been a ridiculous and messy one. Under what circumstance would Shane-o-Mac be booked to face The Undertaker at WrestleMania, in a Hell in a Cell match? As it turned out, according to his statement live on Raw, to give Shane “another fucking beating”. There really was little-to-no substance to Shane’s presence. Although this match started the road to the brand split, there is nothing to add to that headline, and nothing else to say.

The match itself was nothing to write home about. It was a show of Shane’s signature moves, leading to him throwing himself off of the cell, onto Taker. Fans had joked for a long time about one last jump, and said that it would never happened. Well now we’ve seen it. Sadly, too much of it, as the producers backstage screwed up and we got a full look at the airbag that he really landed on. And hilariously, you can also see Michael Cole reading his big “as God is my witness, he is broken in half speech” directly from a clipboard.

Looking back now, the end result was OK, but was a waste of a year for Taker, whose days are clearly numbered, and has a few dream opponents left who will never get their Taker at WM match.

AFTER CLEANLY DEFEATING ROLLINS AND REIGNS, FINN BALOR IS FORCED TO VACATE WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP DUE TO INJURY
(SummerSlam, August 21st)

This really was a moment that took some people a while to comprehend. Finn Balor had been drafted to RAW, having graduated from NXT. On his first match on the main roster, Balor became the first man to cleanly pin the overly protected Roman Reigns, in four years. And what on earth is this WWE Universal Championship? It might sound like a really daft writing idea, belonging in the same canon as Broken Matt Hardy, but is (luckily) just RAW’s humourously desperate attempt at one-upping SmackDown’s World Championship. Hopefully neither brand will create a Galactic Championship, but it wouldn’t be of any surprise.

Of course, this closes on the sadder note as straight after Balor vs Rollins at SummerSlam, Balor was forced to vacate the title, due to a shoulder injury. One noteworthy moment of the match was Rollins unleashing the very dangerous God’s Last Gift move on Balor, which Rollins hasn’t performed since actually being ‘Seth Rollins’. It’s a pity that it was done so unceremoniously, and kicked out of afterwards. Speaking of which…

KOTA IBUSHI KICKS OUT OF BURNING HAMMER IN MATCH AGAINST BRIAN KENDRICK, FOR THE WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE
(Cruiserweight Classic Quarterfinals, August 26th)

Impressed by the new WWE Universal Championship? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Absolutely everything about the sentence above is completely mind-boggling. To start with there are the wrestlers – the presence of Japanese legend Kota Ibushi in a WWE tournament, and the return of The Brian Kendrick (who would later become the WWE Cruiserweight World Champion). Oh, and there is the fact that there is even such a thing as a WWE Cruiserweight World Championship – brilliant news, however purple the belt is.

The cherry on the cake here though is the use of a ‘Burning Hammer’, commonly considered one of, if not the most dangerous manoeuvres in wrestling. Considering the dark cloud surrounding the dreaded and forbidden piledriver, this was stunning. Sadly, Ibushi was booked to kick out of the move – a bigger waste than Jericho kicking out of Styles’ 450 Splash, and Finn Balor kicking out of Seth Rollins’ God’s Last Gift. It’s a disappointing ongoing policy of WWE – ever match that ends with a pin, can’t end with anything that isn’t a finishing move.

AFTER THE SPIRIT SQUAD ARE REMOVED FROM RINGSIDE, THE MIZ LOSES WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP IN A TITLE VS CAREER MATCH, AGAINST DOLPH ZIGGLER
(No Mercy, October 9th)

Welcome to probably the best feud of 2016 – The Miz vs Dolph Ziggler. Considering Ziggler’s reputation as a fan favourite who is booked mostly as filler in the mid-card, it would have been baffling to even see Ziggler on the brink of becoming a champion once again. The fact that it would be booked as important enough to warrant a stipulation like ‘Title vs Career’ brings the highest degree of importance to the mid-card title. Oh, and who could ever expected the appearance of The Spirit Squad?

This feud was absolutely incredible, as it acknowledged the on-off history of Ziggler’s booking, and made The Miz the most horrid villain in the WWE. As top-tier heels have been misguidedly booked and perhaps been too likeable (for example, Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho are too entertaining that nobody wants to see defeated. And AJ Styles is… AJ Styles). However, The Miz has been the most incredible man on the mic this year (peaking during his shocking segment in Talking Smack). The feud took the best possible route, as Ziggler won in a massive feel good moment at No Mercy, and lost the title weeks later in a brilliant ladder match with The Miz. With The Miz champion again, he is destined for another amazing feud in 2017.

CHARLOTTE DEFEATS SASHA BANKS TO BECOME THREE TIMES RAW WOMEN’S DIVISION CHAMPION, HEADLINING HELL IN A CELL
(Hell in a Cell, October 30th)

There is a RAW Women’s Championship? Charlotte has won the title three times already? And the women have finally been allowed into the cell? And they headlined the event? It sounds like a dream come true, although some have since argued that this was not the monumental occasion that it should have been. To a point, I agree.

To start with, is the number of times that the title has changed hands. While there is no reason why it couldn’t happen, it probably shouldn’t have happened for two reasons: 1. Too much attention had been drawn to these two women over anybody else in the division, and 2. Having held the title three times in less than a year, somewhat dilutes its importance. As for the match, it was definitely styled to look like an important event – for example Sasha Banks being stretchered off having been put through a table, styled like a lighter version of Mankind’s famous fall from the cell in 1998. It wasn’t perfect, and as of December 2016, the title still seems to be fought for by only these two wrestlers. Hopefully, with the list of matches happening for the first time in the Women’s Division, is shrinking, more wrestlers will become involved.

ASUKA DEFEATS MICKIE JAMES, TO RETAIN THE NXT WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP AT NXT TAKEOVER: TORONTO
(NXT TakeOver: Toronto, November 19th)

On the other end of the scale, NXT really have opened up when it has come to opportunities. Look no further than the decision to bring Mickie James in for her first WWE match in six years, to take on Asuka – new champion in 2016. This could have been a very poor decision, and considering how one of the primary talking points of her career was when she grabbed Trish Stratus’ crotch at WrestleMania, one could be forgiven for being pessimistic. However, there was no need. While NXT has seen a few superior women’s matches, Mickie did not disappoint, delivering what some have called the greatest match of her career.

Looking back on this, I am in two minds about this event. I’m very positive due to the quality of the match itself, however I was admittedly quite disappointed when this match was first announced. This was the first women’s TakeOver match to be more novel that a standard singles match, since TakeOver: Respect (headlined by Sasha Banks and Bayley’s Iron Man match), and NXT decided that the twist would be from bringing in another veteran. This to me indicates the confirmation that NXT has well and truly lost the agenda of being developmental territory, and has grown to a scale that it can never step back from. Fingers crossed that this doesn’t jeopardise the progress of talent such as Peyton Royce and Liv Morgan.

GOLDBERG CLEANLY DEFEATS BROCK LESNAR AT SURVIVOR SERIES, IN EIGHTY-SIX SECONDS
(Survivor Series, November 20th)

For the most part when writing these, it has been a matter of shoehorning as much unlikely information into the space of one sentence. In this instance, there is no point. Bill Goldberg showed up, was signed up for a match against the unstoppable Brock Lesnar, and he won. This is perfectly representative of WWE being so painfully formulaic that something so barmy as a 49-year-old wrestler, turning up for his first match in twelve years and defeating Lesnar in eighty-six seconds, is accepted.

Fans even surprised themselves, pondering “why am I so happy about this?”. Venturing a guess, this was the opposite of the upset surround The Rock and The Wyatts at WrestleMania – neither side needed a victory, so the most ridiculous enjoyable result was allowed to happen. If Lesnar had done the same thing, groans would resume about the pointlessness of the match.

While it’s confirmed that Lesnar and Goldberg will be in the 2017 Royal Rumble, we can’t be entirely sure what comes next. The novelty might wear off quickly, but for the time being? Wow.

SHINSUKE NAKAMURA BECOMES FIRST TWO-TIME NXT CHAMPION IN MATCH WITH SAMOA JOE, AT OSAKA HOUSE SHOW (NXT, December 3rd)

The NXT singles championship has changed hands at a house show before – Samoa Joe won his title at a house show Lowell, Massachusetts in April 2016. However, this is not what makes the matter especially shocking. It is the fact that the title was taken by SHINSUKE NAKAMURA!

His shocking arrival in 2016 was great, debuting in-person (having challenged Sami Zayn to a match on the screen in the Full Sail studio) at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, in what might be my favourite match of 2016 – Nakamura vs. Zayn. NXT promoted his arrival as though it was the most important moment in the history of NXT. If the promotion has decided that it isn’t developmental any more, it may as well do things properly, and man they are.

And most surprising of all? Considering how the company have changed names to mononyms, such as (Adrian) Neville, Big E (Langston) and (Alexander) Rusev, Shinsuke Nakamura is at least as of December 2016, still called Shinsuke Nakamura. Will it last?

Which other WWE moments of 2016 would have sounded outrageous in 2015, and what is the most outrageous thing that you think is actually possible in 2017? Post below.


 

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Well, that’s it. All programming on the Road to Wrestlemania is over. We have all the proceeding evidence available. Therefore, it is time for predicting how Wrestlemania 32 will unfold on Sunday – aka procrastination season. Here is my shot.

Team Total Divas vs Team B.A.D. & Blonde (5 vs 5 Divas Match)

Who should win: Team Total Divas

Who will win: Team Total Divas

Big spot: Brie Bella will get the winning pin, considering her promotional pulling power, due to her Bryan connections.

So Paige is a ‘total diva’ now? Whatever happened to her being the revolutionary ‘anti-Diva’? Oh well. This is a pre-show throwaway match that will probably be shorter than The Undertaker’s entrance. The name of the team alone suggests that WWE wouldn’t dare let them lose on the grandest stage that they have to offer.

Kalisto vs Ryback (US Title Match)

Who should win?: Kalisto

Who will win?: Kalisto

Big spot: Due to size difference, there will be a rather unconvincing Salida del Sol from atop a turnbuckle.

This is another match that won’t get much attention, not helped by the fact that it is demoted to the pre-show, and will quite possibly be slated for some unconvincing spots by Kalisto on Ryback. The title was not long ago held by John Cena, so for it to change hands in the pre-show is highly unlikely. It would be a spectacular demotion for the title if this happens in the pre-show, even at Wrestlemania. I imagine that Kalisto will soon lose the title to a heel figure, and that Cena will return to briefly feud with them (with viewers expected to consider ‘justice’, even if the heel’s win is entirely within the rules).

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale

Who should win?: Curtis Axel

Who will win?: Braun Strowman

Big spot: All but one of the Social Outcasts, will be eliminated in the first minute, leaving one fighting his way through to the final minute.

The Social Outcasts faction needs a big crowd-pleasing win. Sure, it won’t be as big a pleaser as a The New Day victory, but being the fun that they are, means that this requires that they win. On top of this, this win will be a good thing for them to be booked to bicker about over the next few weeks. However, I am guessing that it will be Strowman. This booking has indeed happened already, with Strowman being responsible for the elimination of the most combatants in Royal Rumble 2016 (tied with Roman Reigns, with five), as well as being the man to eliminate both Big Show and Kane. It is not especially thrilling to see yet another giant win (after Big Show won last year), but if any meaning is to be milked from this generic battle royale, Strowman comes across as one of very few men that this can come from. Unless the Wyatts invade later in the night, this will sadly be their primary appearance.

The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz

Who should win?: The Dudley Boyz

Who will win?: The Usos

Big spot: D-Von will get the tables…

The Dudley Boyz are fantastic, strong heel figures, and really should remain that way. However, at some point or another, The Usos will climb their way to the top of the tag team division, and WWE will make use of Wrestlemania to start that climb. It’s a bad idea, especially considering just how popular The New Day are (adding another face tag team into the title picture just wouldn’t work), but the event will presumably be exploited none the less.

Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles

Who should win?: AJ Styles

Who will win?: AJ Styles

Big spot: AJ Styles will deliver his first Superman 450 Splash in WWE.

This has been a solid and entertaining (albeit repetitive) enough mid-card rivalry that their matches have been numbered over in Reddit /r/SquaredCircle (this is Jericho vs Styles IV for anyone curious). While not all matches at Wrestlemania have to be a finale, this has to be the moment at which these two go their separate ways. This feud will end with a Styles win (en route to a title picture), and with such a great heel turn by Jericho that is built around being so irritated by the lack of audience respect, it will be simple in the eyes of WWE writers to find the next man that he will be annoyed by for the same reason. Expect this to end cleanly with a phenomenal flying elbow from Styles, followed by a post-match diva tantrum by Jericho.

Charlotte vs Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks

(Triple Threat Match for the WWE Divas Championship)

Who should win?: Becky Lynch

Who will win?: Sasha Banks

Big spot: Sasha Banks will lock a winning Bank Statement on Charlotte, when Charlotte is distracted by her father being evicted from ringside.

This match should be monumental to the degree of changing the name of the title to be the Women’s Championship. After all, one only has to look at the Wrestlemania card to see that there is a Diva half and a Women’s half in booking. It is a fair compromise that WWE should stick with – but one can presumably only dream.

Becky Lynch should be the winner due to the fact that she is the person most in the need of the big win. Charlotte is a Flair, and Sasha Banks is, well… Sasha Banks. Becky doesn’t have such support, and only has so long before fading away. If a point is to be made for the women, it should be made sooner rather than later, and Becky is ideal. Unfortunately however, I presume that Becky will be victimized at Wrestlemania and that it will be Bayley who will make a statement with a Banks vs Bayley III in the months to come.

The New Day vs The League of Nations

Who should win?: The League of Nations

Who should win?: The League of Nations

Big spot: Rusev will hit Xavier Woods with Francesca II, and Xavier will spend the next few weeks complaining about her betrayal.

It is incredible how far The New Day have come. Who would have thought that they could have been the most beloved babyfaces in the roster, but it’s happened. It has actually happened – unicorn horns, cereal, trombones and all. That said, note that this match does not have any titles up for offer, therefore making it look highly likely that The League of Nations will get a win out of it. The New Day can get enough great fun in an opening segment and during the match that their loss, even at Wrestlemania would not be a waste. I expect that Xavier Woods will be pinned by Sheamus.

Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn vs Dolph Ziggler vs Zack Ryder vs Sin Cara vs The Miz vs Stardust (Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship)

Who should win?: Kevin Owens

Who will win?: Sami Zayn

Big spot: Zack Ryder will hang off of the belt.

Sami Zayn is now in the main roster, but what is WWE’s priority, and what should it be? Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens should be a highly anticipated match-up. During the duration of their NXT feud, it was dreamt of being the feud that should have topped the main roster. However, I assume that WWE will rush this feud into fruition in the mid-card far too quickly. Considering how good Kevin Owens is at tantrums, him losing the title might not be that terrible, as he can rant his way into a title match in no time, aided by Authority connections. Unfortunately, WWE are remorseless when it comes to throwing the Intercontinental Title around at a quick rate, and Wrestlemania 32 will be a textbook example.

The Undertaker vs Shane McMahon (Hell in a Cell Match)

Who should win?: Shane McMahon

Who will win?: Shane McMahon

Big spot: The lights will go out due to an interruption by the Wyatt Family to attack The Undertaker (magically appearing in the cell), who will function as Shane McMahon’s minions in a similar vein to The Undertaker for Vince, leading to Shane’s win.

There are plenty of reasons why one should be unsure of this result. To start with, this match is not the last match of the night. With such an important stipulation as control of Raw, it seems highly unlikely that the hands will change earlier in the night, making an Undertaker win likely. Similarly, we have yet to see a Cena/Taker match at Wrestlemania, which seems inevitable, and therefore this not being The Undertaker’s final Wrestlemania.

Oh, and there is the fact that one of the combatants is Shane McMahon. There is no way that this match will be ‘clean’, and I refuse to believe that such a strange choice of match could happen without there being a big pay-off. WWE have a habit of going back on decisions very quickly. Just look at how quickly The Authority regained power after losing it at Survivor Series 2014. For this reason, bizarrely, a win for Shane is not a bad choice.

Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar (No Holds Barred Street Fight)

Who should win?: Dean Ambrose

Who will win?: Dean Ambrose

Big spot: Dean Ambrose, in continuing the matter of ‘the torch’ being passed to him, will bring Mr Socko with him.

So long as this match is spectacular, this is the one match tonight that fans will enjoy without a care for its result. However, strangely for his reputation, Dean Ambrose’s eventual Wrestlemania win must be booked as monumental. Yes, this will be a massive match against Brock Lesnar, but the sentimentality of the fabled Shield Triple Threat one day is where Ambrose finally gets his Wrestlemania ‘eureka’ moment.

However, considering that Lesnar is due to go on a hiatus after Wrestlemania, one can’t help but feel that this stipulation is reason enough for Lesnar to lose, and the vengeful method by which he will return later in the year, getting back at Ambrose.

Roman Reigns vs Triple H (World Heavyweight Championship)

Who should win?: Triple H

Who will win?: Roman Reigns

Big spot: Triple H will bring in his sledgehammer, and Reigns will retaliate with Barbie, which (or who?) has been left at ringside from the Street Fight. The final shot will be Seth Rollins at the entrance with Reigns taunting him from the ring.

WWE are clearly desperate for Reigns to have a big moment, and as a result of all that confetti not being enough at Survivor Series 2015, and no one really caring about injustice at Royal Rumble 2016 (except the fact that Reigns cheated), means that they are just going to make things bigger until it works. WWE are clearly desperate for Reigns to have a big moment, and as a result of all that confetti not being enough at Survivor Series 2015, and no one really caring about injustice at Royal Rumble 2016 (except the fact that Reigns cheated), means that they are just going to make things bigger until it works.

For that reason, Reigns will finally do it. This will presumably require a big crowd-pleasing pop for somebody else, as I seriously doubt that WWE would risk such a massive backlash as the closing shot. I guess for this reason, that the show will end with an appearance by Seth Rollins.

Well, that’s it. What are your predictions?

survivor-series-2015

Survivor Series is the one pay-per-view of the famous ‘Big Four’ shows that WWE stage every year that is given the least attention. In fact, its relevance has faded away massively. Wrestlemania, Summerslam and Royal Rumble get as much attention as ever, but the novelty of Survivor Series is eclipsed by Tables, Ladders and Chairs, Extreme Rules, Night of Champions and especially Money in the Bank.

However, did Survivor Series help itself with a big tournament for the vacant World Heavyweight Championship, and two of the titular SS matches?

Bo Dallas, The Miz, The Ascension and Stardust vs The Dudley Boyz, Neville, Titus O’Neil and Goldust (Survivor Series 5 vs 5)

This was a very strange match, and it is difficult to really know how to feel about its booking. First of all, it was great to see the return of Goldust, and as a result, one seriously hacked off Stardust. While their feud will never get the closure it deserved (remember how once upon a time this looked to end at Wrestlemania 31 with Dusty Rhodes at ringside?), it was nice for that friction to still be there. On the converse, it was extremely irritating to see Neville to disappear so quickly – the only person in the winning team, to be eliminated. Just last week Neville was a combatant against Owens in one of, if not the best match in the WHC tournament, and has plummeted to the first man out of a ten-man (almost gimmick) elimination match.

It was a bit of fun, but as a whole, a big disappointment. But then, not a lot is expected of pre-show matches.

Score: 4/10

Roman Reigns vs Alberto Del Rio (WHC Tournament Semi-Final)

Besides the fact that Roman Reigns was in this match, Del Rio was never going to win this match, due to how been too preoccupied with MexAmerican rubbish to be involved with the WHC. After all, someone has to be there for Cena to save Murica from when he returns. Reigns was greeted by boos to begin with, and Del Rio with virtual silence, which is never a good sign. The benefit (or not) of having a two-syllable name saw a very loud “Let’s go Roman”-“Roman sucks”. Whichever was the loudest team, the argument at least meant that everyone was paying attention.

And rightly so. Reigns did convincingly look like the powerhouse that WWE are after, especially when lifting Del Rio during a couple of holds, one into a power bomb, and another clearly butting some convincing strain on him, as Del Rio refused to let go of his armbreaker as Reigns attempted to throw him out of the ring. This was one of the best matches of the night, as it was energetic and Reigns did not resort too much to ‘moves of doom’ – something especially important in the longest WHC match of the night.

Score: 7/10

Dean Ambrose vs Kevin Owens (WHC Tournament Semi-Final)

This was definitely a match that viewers had the most faith in to be the match of the night, it being between a deserving IC champion and a fan favourite – two very entertaining wrestlers. It was also the match most likely to have a realistic surprise result. After all, it will be a long time until the return of Rollins, so a feud independent of Reigns would have been superb, to keep Ambrose in a title picture, and the IC belt in decent view. However, it wasn’t to be.

The match itself was far too rushed, but was still very entertaining, helped along by Owens’ antics (“Chinlock City, baby!” and “That’s real cute, Dean!” being some standout groans) and a few great spots. For example, a couple of pop-up powerbomb counters, a horrifying throw by Owens from the top turnbuckle and tonight’s first headfirst visit to the announcer’s table. Even Ambrose’s rebound clothesline looked decent, as a genuine surprise spot on Owens, rather than unconvincingly giving him extra momentum.

But if there is one more thing to groan about. Cole? Stop calling Owens ‘KO’.

Score: 7/10

Ryback, The Usos, and the Lucha Dragons vs The New Day, Sheamus and King Barrett (Survivor Series 5 vs 5)

Here for the sake of there being a Survivor Series match at, you know, Survivor Series were the array of the remaining wrestlers that fans must remember are still here. And King Barrett, who unsurprisingly was eliminated first. One team was Mr Money in the Bank, King of the Ring (or “Kang of the Rang” as Kingston put it) and the tag team champions. From the moment that the wrestlers themselves made a point of their credentials, it was obvious that tonight’s ‘surprise’ winners were going to be their opponents.

There’s something mighty upsetting about the best part of the match being Xavier Woods’ hilarious new hairstyle. One can only assume that with Sheamus as champion, WWE wanted the “you look stupid” chants to be aimed at somebody else. The match was entertaining, but nothing special. While Sheamus was the penultimate man standing, it only drew attention to his loss earlier that night. While it might be clever booking for this to be the moment at which he snapped and thought that it was tonight or never with regards to cashing in his contract, it wasn’t much fun.

Score: 5/10 (10/10 for Team Sheamus’ entrance)

Charlotte vs Paige

This match actually had everything going for it. In spite of the controversial and disgusting way that it came to be, it certainly had its heel, and subsequently a massive boost for Charlotte as an adored face, after fears that she was fading into the background. On top of this, we had a sportswoman and a woman once billed as the ‘anti-Diva’. If anybody knew that this match would happen a few months ago, they would have been ecstatic, two people who were not billed as ‘Divas’ topping the division. It’s just a shame that Paige is now the biggest bitchy diva not to end her conversations with “girlbye”.

It didn’t take long for this fight (with emphasis of ‘fight’. It was furious.) to leak out of the ring. Bear in mind that what ‘Divas match’ once meant was three minutes of hair tugging and slaps. This was fourteen minutes long and far more brutal, but not the technical wrestling that everyone knows that they are both capable of. It was angry, but by no means as spectacular as it could have been, however the near constant grapple of Paige and Charlotte (they were once the ‘Submission Sorority’ after all, and there were some really nasty tangles that no one would want to be on the receiving end of) meant that this really should function well as closure of this feud as it was Charlotte at her angriest, though bad loser Paige will presumably keep scratching away tediously until TLC 2015.

It is heartbreaking that this wasn’t all that it could have been (and certainly not helped by the perpetual mentions of Charlotte’s father. WOOOOO!), and as if viewers didn’t need confirmation, what one would consider the closure of any hope that there was a continuing Diva Revolution.

Score: 6/10

Tyler Breeze vs Dolph Ziggler

It was a match that needed to happen, but damn did it need to be longer. This was always doomed to be the shortest match of the night, and when writing my predictions feature, I even wrote that this would be “six minutes or something”. That was meant to be a hyperbole… but it was a reality. This was made an even bigger insult by how Michael Cole discussed where Dolph Ziggler was this time last year – the winning ‘one’ in ‘three-vs-one’ in the Survivor Series main event against The Authority. Now, he is bickering with the also brilliant Tyler Breeze over Summer Rae.

There were a few good spots, such as a nasty dropkick by Ziggler as Breeze went for a crossbody from the top rope, and a few botches – most notably a roll-up attempt too close to the turnbuckle, which in spite (or maybe because) of a second attempt, stuck out like a sore thumb.

These two have a brilliant, really high energy match at least twice the length to be had in the future. Tonight was never going to be the night, as the first match between Ziggler and… the Ziggler of NXT. I wouldn’t be at all surprised were this the spark for a rematch at TLC. However, this kind of match belonged on Raw. Still, being his PPV debut, the right man won.

Score: 4/10 (10/10 for Summer Rae’s facial expressions)

The Brothers of Destruction vs Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper

Once upon a time, the suspicion was that #CENAWINSLOL would be replaced (or assisted) by #REIGNSWINSLOL, and be the most irritating booking ever. However, the rise of #WYATTLOSESLOL is even more annoying. This result was the most disappointing of the whole night, and it was obvious that there would be a booking disappointment the moment that it was revealed that Bray Wyatt and Luke Harper, the most accomplished and important members of The Wyatt Family, would be the two chosen to represent them. The closest to being defeated that The Brothers were ever going to get would have been a disqualification. However, unless Wyatt wins a high profile singles match soon against The Undertaker, this could be seriously damaging, and the final nail in him having an imposing future. After all, this match was 4-vs-2. Of the two Wyatts not in the match, Erick Rowan left the arena after one choke slam, and Braun Strowman went through a table.

This was more a crowd pleaser spectacle than a sufficient ‘match’, and hopefully that is made clear enough not to be damaging to The Wyatts, or perhaps the win out of the way before The Wyatts get the last win against The Undertaker. Even the onscreen text was unique for them all. There were chants of “Undertaker” during Kane’s entrance, and Kane sat out for a while by the announcers table so to give The Undertaker time to shine ceremoniously. For once, Michael Cole’s “VINTAGE…” prefix was relevant as Taker gave a nasty, apron leg drop to Luke Harper. It was fun, but worrying.

Score: 6/10

Roman Reigns vs Dean Ambrose (WHC Tournament Final)

“It’s me and you fightin’ for the championship. Just like it’s ‘sposed to be.” At least, so said Reigns said to Ambrose before he took on Owens. And he was right. It’s such a pity that they were so happy about it. Sure, The Shield were the ‘Hounds of Justice’, and so long as their group claimed the belts, it wouldn’t matter whom was champion, the stable has ended, and while the leader of The Shield might be happy about this as he stuck by his morals, for this match to be of any relevance, Ambrose really needed to disagree. Sadly not.

For what it was, especially considering the lack of a heel turn (the only unpredictable happening of the night, was that that didn’t actually happen. How boring.), this was poor booking. Beyond the absence of Kevin Owens, Reigns vs Ambrose should have been billed as a huge deal. To the point that Reigns should have been made champion at Royal Rumble, and there was a big “OH MY GOD!” moment when Ambrose won the Rumble. Yet this was just ten minutes, and they had a hug at the end.

The match itself had a lot of energy, but as with everything else tonight, had very little remarkable about it.

Score: 6/10

Roman Reigns vs Sheamus

I may as well. Whoever Dean Ambrose is affiliated with, this was always going to be the case. Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank contract triumphantly. In spite of the match between Ambrose and Reigns not feeling especially climactic, producers went all out to at least make the post-match events look as though it was the most important win ever. Outrageous amounts of confetti and fireworks, as though no one had ever won that belt before. If this (and a spear to HHH) wasn’t confirmation of the push for Reigns, it was confirmation that someone would rain on this parade.

Outta nowhere (or so it seemed, considering the clouds of confetti) Sheamus delivered two Brogue Kicks, and within thirty seconds, pinned Reigns for the title. As far as I’m concerned, this isn’t too bad an idea, as The Authority has a new affiliate, and Ambrose remains face.

Score: Erm… do I have to?

And so…?

Survivor Series 2015 had one of the most intriguing, but ultimately infuriating cards in recent memory. There was so much potential for surprises and growth that despite not being remotely outlandish were never going to be realized.

The show was incredibly disappointing, and I don’t think that it would be over the top to call this the worst WWE PPV of 2015. It was predictable, and felt pointless. It was highly damaging to The Wyatt Family, rushed, and about as anti-climactic as a show with so much confetti in could be.

As for Roman Reigns, so long as he is booked well, he was the right person to be on the receiving end for what WWE presumably have in mind for his future. While Ambrose should be treated as having a ‘path to greatness’ throughout the Shield saga and be the last WHC winner of the trio at a ‘Big Four’ event (a big celebratory “FINALLY he wins!”), the primary plot is clearly now going to be based around ‘justice’ for Reigns, as though he hasn’t just Speared the owner of the company, and defeated fairly by somebody else. After all, Reigns is already ‘great’, and apparently always will be, requiring a third match to finally be defeated.

Reigns faced heel (Del Rio), after heel (HHH), after heel (Sheamus) tonight. Was he popular by the end of the night? Comments below.