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Pro wrestling news, opinions, interviews, lists and more from former WWE creative team member Kevin Eck

MMA

Am I the Only One? Thoughts on CM Punk Competing in UFC, Sasha Banks Interview, Seth Rollins' 'Bullcrap' and More

As I reflect on the past week in pro wrestling, I wonder: Am I the only one who ...

... isn't rooting for CM Punk to fail in UFC? Judging by what I see on social media, both pro wrestling and MMA fans would love nothing more than to see Punk get destroyed by Mickey Gall in his UFC debut in September. Why? Punk was unhappy in WWE and decided to leave the company to pursue his dream of fighting in the Octagon. At 37, he knows the odds are stacked against him. That's why I admire his courage and determination and wish him nothing but success. 

... thinks the powers that be in WWE should've come up with a reason -- even a flimsy one -- for why Sasha Banks was MIA before returning to TV recently? When Banks was asked where's she's been in her sit-down interview with Michael Cole on WWE.com, her reply was, "Don't worry about where I've been." How creative. It reminds me of the times I've seen a babyface make an illogical heel turn and then say, "I don't owe anyone an explanation." Here's one suggestion as to what Banks could have said to Cole: "After coming so close to winning the WWE Women's Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania, I decided to take one step back to take two steps forward. While Charlotte and the other women have been playing games and engaging in drama, I've just been watching it all unfold. I let them have the spotlight. Meanwhile, I dedicated myself to training harder than ever, pushing myself every day to get better. I'm in the best shape of my life and more laser-focused than ever on my goal of becoming champion. So to answer your question, that's where I've been. But Charlotte and every other woman on the roster should be more concerned with where I'm going, because I am going to the top in this division where I belong." Something like that.

... respectfully disagrees with Banks' statement (see what I did there?) that "people are buying tickets to see the women now?" I do think that's the case in NXT, but not WWE. With stars such as Banks, Charlotte, Bayley (eventually) and others to build around, the women's division in WWE may get to that point someday, but they're not there yet, at least not to a significant degree.

... cringed when Seth Rollins said "This is bullcrap!" when he stormed off during the opening segment of Raw? What grown man says "bullcrap?" I know he can't curse, but perhaps he should've just said "This is bull!" and dropped the mic as he muttered an "s" sound under his breath. Darn PG era. I mean, damn PG era.

... thinks Alberto Del Rio's character is stale but isn't sure a babyface turn is the answer? I don't know if the powers that be in WWE are planning on turning Del Rio, but if they do, I hope they've come up with a good story and a clear vision for what his character is going forward. A spit bucket with the Mexican flag on it definitely shouldn't be part of the equation. I was on the creative team when Del Rio turned babyface a few years ago, and it was basically done on whim by Vince McMahon. Del Rio is a talented guy, but he needs good creative to get over to a level that is commensurate with his talent.

... hates it when people say "it ain't ballet" when making a point about the physical toll that pro wrestling takes on its performers? On Raw, JBL was the latest to use the cliche. I'm sure there was no malice on his part, but it really minimizes the pain and injuries that ballet dancers suffer. It's time to come up with a better comparison.

... thought David Otunga, who took Jerry Lawler's place on commentary on SmackDown, sounded silly when he predicted that Jimmy Uso would defeat AJ Styles? If he would've clarified it by saying that it would be an major upset or that if Uso brings his 'A' game he's capable of beating anyone it would have come across as more realistic. 

... thinks WWE announcer Greg Hamilton looks like the lovechild of actor Sean Astin and former WWE and TNA executive Bruce Prichard?

... thinks Chris Jericho should be smart enough to know that when he closes his eyes and does his "drink it in, man" routine while his foes are close by that he's going to get attacked? The Gift of Jericho is basically a free shot to his mug.

... loves that the two enhancement guys who faced Enzo Amore and Big Cass on Raw were named after Philadelphia Phillies prospects? As I said in a previous post, WWE writers Ed Koskey and Michael Kirshenbaum (aka Mae Young's adult son, The Hand) are huge Phillies fans.  Back when Ryback was facing locals on a weekly basis, we always named them after our friends or people we knew.

... if I had a dime for very time I did the wave or enjoyed others doing the wave, I would have zero dimes?

.. loved the bloody, brutal Fight Without Honor between Steve Corino and BJ Whitmer at ROH's Best in the World pay-per-view? I'm not advocating that intentional bloodletting become commonplace, but when used judiciously, blood can definitely add drama to a match or angle.

... thought TNA World Champion Bobby Lashley came off like a babyface for scoring a clean victory over Drew Galloway and EC3 in a Triple Threat Match for the title on Impact? Lashley was double-teamed by the babyfaces at times during the match, yet he still prevailed in the end. As a fan, how can I not like that guy?

... didn't understand why TNA referee Brian Hebner took orders from Mike Bennett on Impact? After Bennett laid out Braxton Sutter immediately after Sutter won a battle royal to earn a shot at Bennett's X Division Title, Bennett demanded that Hebner ring the bell to start the match while Sutter was still down. Hebner clearly didn't want to do it, but then he acted like he had no choice and called for the bell. Shouldn't he at least have waited until Sutter was on his feet before starting the match?

... thinks Matt Hardy and TNA Knockouts Champion Sienna go to the same hair stylist?

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Greater Rater: AJ Styles vs. AJ Styles, Darren Young vs. Donald Trump, President Obama vs. WWE TV and More

This is the latest in a series of occasional posts in which I will give my opinion on which is the greater of two comparable people or things in pro wrestling. I'll even throw in some sports, pop culture and political subjects, too:

Heel AJ Styles' promos > Babyface AJ Styles' promos

"Make Darren Young Great Again" campaign > Donald Trump's" Make America Great Again" campaign

President Obama's approval ratings> Raw and SmackDown's ratings

"Stupid idiot!" > "Dummy, yeah!"

Smashing Pumpkins Billy Corgan > TNA Billy Corgan

That '70s Show commercials on a loop on my TV screen for two hours > Grado and Mahabali Shera on my TV screen for two seconds

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn as enemies > Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn as friends

Cesaro's EU (European Uppercuts) > The EU (European Union)

Taeler Hendrix > Dok Hendrix

Two Young Bucks > One Moose

Steve Corino vs. BJ Whitmer > TV-PG "extreme" matches

LeBron James' Ultimate Warrior t-shirt >Adam Rose's mugshot t-shirt

Andrew Luck's dollars > Johnny Manziel's sense

"Macho" Manny Machado > Yordano "The Nobody" Ventura

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WWE Raw Review: John Cena, AJ Styles Each Get Chance to be Added to Battleground Main Event

The top story: John Cena and AJ Styles were each given an opportunity to join WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns in the main event at Battleground. To earn a spot in the match, Cena and Styles needed to win their matches against Rollins and Ambrose, respectively, but they both lost due to interference from the other. After the match, The Club triple-teamed Cena (above), and Rollins dropped Ambrose.

Also newsworthy: Reigns' 30-day suspension for a Wellness Policy violation was acknowledged. ... Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens will settle their issue in a match at Battleground. ... Intercontinental Champion The Miz returned from filming his movie. He was forced to defend his championship against a mystery opponent, who turned out to be Kane. Kane won by countout after Maryse feigned an injury and Miz carried her to the back. ... Former League of Nations teammates Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio teamed up to face Cesaro and Apollo Crews, but they couldn't get along. Del Rio kicked Sheamus in the head and walked out on him.

Here's a segment-by-segment look at the show:

Segment One: Seth Rollins - Dean Ambrose - AJ Styles - John Cena - Stephanie McMahon Promo

The gist: Rollins said that in four weeks the fans will get the match they've been dreaming of: a Triple Threat between the three former members of The Shield for the WWE World Heavyweight Title. Rollins then said he was going to talk about Roman Reigns even though he's not supposed to. He said he brought Reigns into WWE, so Reigns' mistake that got him suspended soiled Rollins' good name. Rollins mocked Reigns for issuing an apology. He said Reigns doesn't deserve a second chance or forgiveness. He said Reigns also doesn't deserve to be in the Triple Threat Match at Battleground, so it should be a one-on-one match between him and Ambrose. Ambrose came out and said that Reigns made a mistake, but everyone makes mistakes. He said the Triple Threat Match is still on as far as he's concerned. Styles came out. He agreed that it should be a Triple Threat, but it should be between him, Ambrose and Rollins. Ambrose said that Reigns is still in the match, so Styles said to make it a Fatal 4-Way then. Ambrose said he was fine with that. Rollins was not fine with it. Cena came out, and he wanted to make it a 5-way. Stephanie came out. She said that what happened with Reigns is an embarrassment, but a bigger embarrassment is Ambrose being WWE World Heavyweight Champion. She said that Shane McMahon was on vacation again, so she would make a decision regarding Styles and Cena's requests to be added to the Battleground main event. She booked Rollins vs. Cena, and Styles vs. Ambrose. If Cena and Styles win their matches, they're in.

Analysis: A decent opening segment. The Reigns suspension had to be addressed, and I liked that it was done at the beginning of the show and that heels Rollins and Stephanie criticized Reigns while babyface Ambrose said that everyone makes mistakes. Rollins vs. Cena and Styles vs. Ambrose are big matches with high stakes, so the tone was set early that this is a show worth sticking around for.

Segments Two and Three: Sasha Banks and Paige vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke

Result: Banks and Page over via submission (Banks forced Brooke to tap out)

Analysis: This match served it's purpose, which was to be a showcase for Banks. I'm surprised that Banks didn't score the fall over Charlotte, but it might've be a little too soon for that.

Segment Four: Titus O'Neil vs. United States Champion Rusev (w/Lana) > Non-Title Match

Result: O'Neil over via countout

Analysis: O'Neil obviously needed a win here to keep this program going, and I liked that he won by countout instead of pinfall. The countout victory accomplished what needed to be accomplished without Rusev being weakened by taking a pinfall loss.

Segment Five: Backstage Vignette w/Stephanie McMahon, Corporate Kane, The Miz and Maryse

The gist: Stephanie came across Corporate Kane, who said he wanted another chance to be under consideration to run SmackDown. Stephanie said that she will be running SmackDown. Miz and Maryse walked in. Miz was unhappy that he didn't get a bigger welcome after being away for a month shooting his movie. Miz talked about how great of an actor he is, and Kane said that he also has a movie career. Kane said that if he was running SmackDown, he'd have a huge problem with the Intercontinental Champion being off for a month. He cited a WWE rule that states a champion must defend the title at least once every 30 days. Kane said he would book Miz in a title match tonight. Stephanie liked the idea. She said Miz's opponent will be a surprise.

Analysis: This was fine, although I would rather have seen former GM's Vickie Guerrero, Paul Heyman or perhaps even Eric Bischoff make an appearance instead of Corporate Kane again. Having Miz defend the title against a mystery opponent was a good hook.

Segments Six and Seven: John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (The Club)

During the match: The Club came down to ringside.

Result: Rollins over via pinfall (off the distraction from The Club)

Analysis: As soon as it was announced that Cena and AJ Styles would be in matches with a spot in the Battleground main event on the line, I was pretty sure that neither of them would be successful due to interference from the other. A Triple Threat Match between all three former members of The Shield is actually a bigger attraction than a Fatal 5-Way, and I'd rather see Cena vs. Styles II at Battleground anyway. Even though the outcome was predictable, this was still a good match between two of WWE's biggest stars and best workers (yes, I said Cena is one of WWE's best workers).

Segment Eight: Enzo Amore and Big Cass Promo vs. Carlos Tocci and Mitch Walding (Social Outcasts)

The gist: Amore said he and Big Cass are riding a wave straight to the top. He encouraged everyone in the audience to do the wave after the bell sounds. 

Result: Amore and Cass over via pinfall (Amore pinned one of the enhancement guys)

Aftermath: Cass started to do the "sawft" routine, but he was interrupted by The Social Outcasts. Bo Dallas said there is one word to describe them: hard. Dallas said they're going to show Amore and Cass just how hard they are. Heath Slater jumped up on the apron and took a big boot from Cass. Dallas and Curtis Axel started to enter the ring but then decided to head back up the ramp instead. Cash finished spelling out "sawft."

Analysis: I find Amore and Cass to be very entertaining, but I will turn on them if they make the wave part of their act. There's nothing worse than being at a sporting event in which people do the idiotic, annoying wave. As for The Social Outcasts, they are a huge buzzkill, but I suppose Enzo and Cass need someone to beat, so they'll do. Just please keep the Outcasts off the mic. By the way, I saw on social media that the two enhancement guys were named after a couple of Philadelphia Phillies prospects. Two of my former colleagues on the creative team, Raw head writer Ed Koskey and Michael Kirshenbaum (who played the role of Mae Young's adult son, The Hand, a few years ago) are huge Phillies fans.

Segment Nine: Darren Young - Bob Backlund Vignette // Special Olympics PSA w/Big Show and Renee Young

The gist: Backlund wanted to review Darren Young's goals. Young said he wants to be great again, win a singles title and main event WrestleMania. Backlund said he's competed at WrestleMania. He also talked about teaming with Pedro Morales. Backlund said his era was called "The Bob Backlund Era," so let's make this "The Darren Young Era." ... Big Show and Renee Young appeared on the stage with a group of athletes from the Special Olympics and talked about the importance of the games.

Analysis: Big Show represents WWE very well when the company uses him as a spokesperson for things such as this.

Segment Ten: Becky Lynch vs. Summer Rae (Natalya on Commentary)

Before the match: Lynch attacked Natalya at ringside. 

Result: The match never started.

Analysis: Lynch showed good fire. I have high hopes for a program between her and Natalya. 

Segment Eleven: Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel w/Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn

The gist: After introducing Owens and Zayn, Jericho noted that they loathe each other now but they used to be best friends. He told Zayn that must have made it sting even more when Owens stabbed him in the back. Zayn said he's there for one reason: to end this thing with Owens. Zayn said it's become an obsession and it's hurting both of their careers. He wants to end it with a match at Battleground. He called Owens a coward and said Owens stabbed him in the back because he was jealous that Zayn got signed by WWE before him. Zayn told Owens to admit it. Owens said he betrayed Zayn because it was the right move for his career. He said Zayn was the one who ruined their friendship. Owens said that he and Zayn always dreamed of going to WWE together, but when Zayn was signed first, he wasn't upset, because Zayn was making the right move for his career. Owens said when he won the NXT Title, Zayn should've been happy for him, but he wasn't because it came at Zayn's expense. Owens said none of it matters now. He agreed to the match. Jericho did his "gift of Jericho" bit. As he encouraged everyone to drink it in, Zayn and Owens simultaneously super-kicked Jericho. Owens exited.

Analysis: This was a strong promo segment and it definitely made me want to see the match at Battleground. I liked how Zayn told the real story of what happened between him and Owens, while Owens used heel logic to put the blame on Zayn for their friendship ending. My only nitpick with the segment is that I don't think the physicality on Jericho was needed. The focus should've been kept on Zayn and Owens.

Segment Twelve: Demon Kane vs. Intercontinental Champion The Miz (w/Maryse) > Title Match

During the match: Maryse slipped off the apron and sold that she injured her ankle. Miz tended to her and carried her to the back.

Result: Demon Kane over via countout

Analysis: When it was announced that Miz would be defending the title against a mystery opponent, I was really hoping WWE wouldn't go the obvious route with Kane. I knew it would be a big letdown, and it was. The crowd couldn't have cared less about this match. WWE blew a perfect opportunity to put Cesaro in the spot and have him win the Intercontinental Title, which undoubtedly would've gotten a huge pop and also reignited the issue between him and Miz.

Segment Thirteen: Backstage Vignette w/The Miz and Maryse // Cesaro and Apollo Crews vs. Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio // Dean Ambrose Backstage Interview (Stephanie McMahon)

The gist: As Miz expressed concern over Maryse's ankle, she revealed that it was all a put-on. Miz said it was an amazing performance.

During the match: Del Rio kicked Sheamus in the head and walked out on him.

Result: Cesaro and Crews over via pinfall (Crews pinned Sheamus)

The gist: Ambrose said he loves that he gets to step in the ring with the best every night. Stephanie interrupted. She said she is appalled that Ambrose is the face of her company. She said if AJ Styles beats Ambrose tonight, the main event at Battleground becomes a Fatal 4-Way, and they'll be one step closer to ending this appalling nightmare. After Stephanie walked away, Ambrose said that deep down she really likes him.

Analysis: It made sense that Del Rio and Sheamus wouldn't get along since it wasn't all that long ago that The League of Nations imploded. I wonder if Del Rio attacking Sheamus was just a means to an end in this match or if it might be planting a seed for a Del Rio babyface turn. If it's the latter, I hope he's booked better than he was on his previous babyface run. ...I loved how Ambrose completely no-sold Stephanie. No one in WWE is cooler than Ambrose. 

Segment Fourteen: New Day - The Wyatt Family Promo

The gist: New Day did a parody of The Wyatt Family. They said no one wants to hear The Wyatt Family's negativity anymore. New Day said the most intimidating thing about The Wyatt Family is their hygiene. Big E and Kofi Kingston were enjoying themselves but Xavier Woods seemed nervous and wanted to wrap things up. The Wyatt Family came out to the stage. Bray Wyatt said New Day tells the masses what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. He said it's a cruel world full of dangerous people. Wyatt dismissed the power of positivity. Kingston said the power of positivity is a way of life. Wyatt asked Woods if he agreed with that. Wyatt noted that Woods appeared a bit shaken up. He told Woods that he can confide in him and trust in him. Wyatt said, "New Day falls."

Analysis: This was an entertaining segment that was made more compelling by Woods' strange behavior. It seems like Bray and his followers are supposed to be the heels here, so I suppose their inevitable babyface turn has been shelved for now. 

Segments Fifteen and Sixteen: New Day Backstage Interview // WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles > Non-Title Match (Seth Rollins on Commentary) (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, John Cena)

The gist: New Day was asked if it was a smart idea to continue making fun of The Wyatt Family. Kofi Kingston and Big E were still clowning around, but Woods looked serious and walked away.

During the match: Gallows and Anderson came down to ringside. Cena came down and took them both out.

Result: Ambrose over via pinfall (off the distraction from Cena)

Aftermath: Gallows and Anderson attacked Cena on the floor. Rollins entered the ring and hit the Pedigree on Ambrose. Styles joined Gallows and Anderson in beating down Cena. Gallows and Anderson hit Magic Killer on Cena on the stage. Rollins hit another Pedigree on Ambrose.

Analysis: As I said about the Cena-Rollins match earlier, the outcome and interference was predictable, but the match was still good. I liked that the heels stood tall at the end of the show. Rollins did a nice job on commentary, as he was conflicted about having to root for Ambrose because it was in his best interests not to have Styles added to the Battleground main event.

Final thoughts: This was another solid episode of Raw. WWE has some very compelling programs right now in Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, John Cena vs. AJ Styles, Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens, and New Day vs. The Wyatt Family.

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