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WrestleMania XXX


HUGE kudos to the production crew. Fantastic stage setting and appropriate lighting for a venue that is generally an eyesore for those watching on TV.


Tag Titles - Elimination Match

The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Real Americans vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel


Fun match with all kinds of crowd-popping spots, including El Torito getting his shit in. Cesaro was of course the star of the match, continuing his momentum that had been ongoing since CM Punk's abrupt vanishing from WWE. Every time he got on offense, the crowd became hotter. Any time someone cut him off or got offense on him, extremely audible jeers.


What matters most obviously is that Cesaro lost the final fall to the Usos, which live at the time seemed puzzling since he was clearly ascending to a substantial position on the roster, while Jack Swagger was an established mid-carder after multiple attempts at various pushes. But the Real Americans had come into this match with tension, an angle I had failed to mention as I reviewed the journey to this event. Swagger therefore shit on Cesaro much to Zeb Coulter's dismay for the loss, then placed the ankle lock on the former King of Wrestling.


After Coulter convinced Swagger to stop and shake hands to apologize, Cesaro finally gave into the crowd's demand, delivering the anticipated giant swing to the former NCAA All-American as the audience popped huge. This had been building for several weeks and was perfectly timed and positioned on the card, as this was part of the free pre-show as a final way to entice anyone on the fence about ordering. ***


The Three Icons of the WrestleMania Era


The actual PPV portion of the event kicks off with the greatest, most charismatic talking segment in WrestleMania history, as host Hulk Hogan comes out to fire the crowd up and twice mistakenly refers to the evening's venue as the Silverdome, then catches himself when the crowd gives him a hard time over it. Minutes into this, his promo is interrupted by Steve Austin, and they have a staredown, making all long-time and lapsed fans sad we never got that dream match.


Austin cuts his own great promo to fire up the crowd, giving Hogan a hard time for the Silverdome flub. He also puts Hogan over huge, showing a side that had significantly mellowed out since his big-leaguing of the fellow HOFer a dozen years earlier. But we're not done here, as the Rock interrupted to further electrify the crowd.


Rock went through his routine that always works because he knows what the fuck he's doing when he grabs a microphone. He then says we have two icons in the ring that truly paved the way for two of the biggest babyfaces for tonight's event. Before John Cena was telling kids to live and die by hustle, loyalty, and respect, there was Hogan telling the previous generation's kids to take their vitamins and say their prayers. Before Daniel Bryan faced his oppression at the hands of corrupt power figures, there was Austin raising hell every week on Vince McMahon and company.


They close out the segment putting each other over, each doing their promo-closing routine one at a time. This is a segment I will never forget experiencing live, one truly deserving of being placed on the grandest stage.


WWE Title Shot Match

Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan


The PPV matches kick off with the primary match of the evening, obviously to make sure the winner would have time to rest for his earned spot in the main event. Stephanie McMahon introduces her husband, who has an awesomely OTT entrance, sitting on a throne and dressing like Shao Khan, just completely saying through this sequence that he thumbed his nose at his scheduled opponent for the evening. In contrast, D-Bry came out with the long hippy hair, bushy beard, and just regular gear, truly setting the story for anyone not familiar with the events that led to this dream match.


D-Bry's left shoulder is heavily taped due to the damage inflicted upon it the past couple months. Before the opening bell, the Authority have an intimate kiss, completely rubbing it in that they're happy and successful, then HHH looks at the former WWE Champion ever so smugly. The Game offers a handshake, which D-Bry obviously rejects by kicking the hand and trying to get this matchup over early with a schoolboy pin. D-Bry goes on a fury, but HHH takes a quick powder to ensure no momentum is built.


HHH looks to cut off D-Bry's superior technical wrestling and striking, but D-Bry cuts him off to regain momentum, making HHH's cut off merely a hope spot and then gets a headlock takedown. He easily gets out of HHH's head-scissors as fans of the indy scene during the 2000s had the pleasure of seeing him do on a nightly basis. HHH during a headlock gets D-Bry in a corner and goes after the left arm, but D-Bry doesn't allow that to go on long at all, unleashing more furious kicks to the crowd's delight. But HHH catches the left leg and drops it STO style, showing off why he has such a cerebral reputation.


However, even that doesn't really go anywhere for the time being, as D-Bry prevents HHH from dragging him into a corner for more limb work. He charges at the first-ballot HOFer multiple times, including doing a front flip off the top rope which looked to be a bad landing for someone with a well-documented injury history. As D-Bry continues owning HHH, Steph attempts to verbally troll him, knowing damn well her husband is getting his ass kicked so far.


HHH crotches D-Bry as he goes for another top-rope move, finally gaining some significant heat over the former multi-promotional champion. He follows that up with a charge to knock D-Bry down to the floor in front of the commentary tables. He attempts a Pedigree on one of those tables, but D-Bry blocks it and fights back, only for HHH to grab the severely pained left arm and slam it onto the table!


At this point the commentary team, which has often been justifiably criticized, did a phenomenal job in selling HHH's craftiness. JBL in particular really put over the brilliant bluffing HHH pulled on D-Bry, going after the left leg early to make it seem like he wouldn't target the left arm. This was critical in showing that while the stakes were incredibly high and the emotions going into this even higher, this was also a matchup of two of the most gifted in-ring psychologists in the history of the business.


HHH of course became merciless on D-Bry's left arm, slamming it down with various moves and locking submissions aplenty, including a modified London Dungeon. But even THAT is short, as it looks like D-Bry is about to regain momentum when he throws off HHH to the outside and goes for a tope suicida, only to get cut off by the Game before flying through the ropes. HHH gives him a Hammerlock Backdrop Suplex on the apron, and D-Bry's audible screams of pain are sensational just like his classic against Randy Orton in Dallas a few months earlier. Stephanie chimes in with "you mess with the bull, you get the horns," then kisses her gloating husband. Awesome.


D-Bry of course follows up his sensational screams of pain with sensational selling outside the ring, struggling to get up and break the ten count. In yet another highlight of the match, one that shows what an excellent student of the game HHH is, D-Bry finds himself in one of his own established finishers, that being the Crossface Chickenwing. Fantastic poetry while also causing further pain to the damaged left arm and shoulder.


As D-Bry is losing consciousness, the crowd rallies behind him, hoping to not see him pass out. HHH then further shows off his experience and studying habits, locking on the Crippler Crossface, reminding all technical wrestling fans of an even sexier dream match we sadly never got to witness. D-Bry reaches the ropes, only for seconds later to get that left arm slammed down with an arm twist on the mat. The Game goes to work with punches in the corner, and D-Bry attempts to fight back to no avail as the audience is trying to give him adrenaline. They exchange more punches, with a crowd reaction reminding me of Rock vs. Hogan and Austin Aries vs. CM Punk, and this time D-Bry is able to regain the heat with a running forearm straight to the face.


That though is also short-lived, with us bearing witness to yet another display of brilliance from HHH. When D-Bry goes for his turnbuckle backflip spot, HHH stays in the center of the ring, not allowing D-Bry to get behind him. I can't recall any of D-Bry's most reputable opponents on the indies ever scouting this out, nor any of his prior opponents in WWE either. That moment of brilliance doesn't get much though, as D-Bry blocks a German Suplex and unleashes a couple of his own. HHH blocks a third and goes for the Crossface Chickenwing, but D-Bry intelligently sees it coming this time and blocks it, only to get dumped on his head and shoulders via a release Butterfly Suplex. Hey, if you're gonna do head drops and other risky shit, THIS is the show to do it on.


D-Bry blocks a Superplex attempt to the crowd's delight, landing a Sunset Flip Powerbomb for a great crowd pop and slowing down the Game's momentum. HHH goes to recover in a corner, so D-Bry goes for this routine three running heel kicks, but the third, much like Cena, Cesaro, Bray Wyatt, and Nigel McGuinness had done in the past, countered that with a beautiful lariat. When they both get up, HHH goes for another Pedigree, but D-Bry blocks that and goes for a jackknife pin for two, then follows that up with a kick to the head.


At this point the crowd is starting to get incredibly excited, sensing that their chosen face of the company was gonna finally humble the Authority. But a diving headbutt is blocked with a knee to the face, and HHH then locks on the Crippler Crossface again. It should be obvious at this point that this match was a partial tribute to a man that had a significant impact on both men's careers, one by working with him, the other being inspired and heavily influenced by him.


This second Crippler Crossface was a sight to behold, as HHH made sure to block D-Bry's eyesight during a portion of the submission. D-Bry rolls back but HHH keeps it locked on, remembering the same thing had happened to him a decade earlier and learning from it should he ever be in the opposite position. D-Bry rolls back again though and goes for a pin attempt false finish, then gets the Lebell Lock on, a moment we had been waiting to see for many, many months! As a receipt, D-Bry makes sure to block HHH's vision, and Stephanie has to audibly coach HHH to make him aware of how close he is to the ropes.


With HHH on the outside getting nursed by Steph, D-Bry hits two tope suicidas, then follows that up with a missile shotgun dropkick in the ring. He kips up to another great crowd pop, and then sucks up whatever pain he's feeling to land furious kicks to the chest and a final kick to the head as the crowd pops yet again. More than 20 minutes into this classic, both men are exhausted and the crowd expresses their happiness watching this unfold.


D-Bry goes for the Busaiku knee, but this is the Cerebral Assassin he's facing. In a match in which HHH likely brought forth the most brilliant game plan of his career, there was no greater display of his scouting techniques than taking D-Bry's momentum and turning it into a spinebuster that certainly had Arn Anderson popping backstage. HHH goes for the Pedigree and the thrid attempt's the charm, but that's nothing more than a phenomenal false finish as the crowd is going apeshit. D-Bry pulls out the small package, but that's another false finish unlike his ROH days.


HHH shows his frustration, almost getting DQ'ed for not breaking his punches in the corner. He then goes for another Pedigree, but D-Bry flips him overhead and keeps the butterfly position for another great false finish pin. HHH rolls D-Bry over with the arms still butterflied, but D-Bry dead-weights him, so HHH knees D-Bry in the face a few times for good measure and to display his frustration. Another Pedigree attempt though is countered as D-Bry gets out of it and lands a roundhouse kick, but a second roundhouse kick is ducked. HHH looks to go for an Atomic Drop or backdrop suplex, but D-Bry flips back to land on his feet, then finishes off the Game finally with a Busaiku knee!!!


Steph's facial expression is priceless, the facade she and her husband running for months becoming exposed on the grandest stage. The crowd is of course ecstatic and D-Bry is exhausted as he celebrates. Steph walks over to slap him, leaving him to be attacked from behind by HHH. The Game slams the damaged left shoulder on the ring post, then smacks it with a steel chair, completely embarrassed as the Authority try to mask it with smugness and their underhanded corruption. D-Bry goes into the main event with the odds only stacked against him even more.


For many years, the thought of Triple H vs. Bryan Danielson had always intrigued me, dating back to the latter's days on the indy scene as he showed why he was clearly the best in-ring wrestler this side of the Pacific. I had always imagined they would have at least very good chemistry, as both are master storytellers and HHH has proven to be more than capable of working a great technical wrestling match when the time calls for it. And when the fantastic SummerSlam 2013 ended, I was excited to know this match would be taking place on this night.


That this match almost didn't happen despite the lack of an emotionally satisfying conclusion as 2013 ended, only for a series of game-changing events to take place in order for it to do so, makes me feel like it was truly fate that this dream match was destined to take place at such an important landmark event.


But did this match live up to the expectations I had? To be brutally honest - it shattered them. Due to the storyline, I went into the Superdome expecting this to be more of a sports-entertainment style that favored HHH's routine. That element was obviously utilized to its fullest potential, but these men also managed to add in the sizzling technical wrestling that I always saw them pulling off together should they ever face off. In addition, the commentary for this match deserves an ovation of its own, as JBL, Michael Cole, & Jerry Lawler did a great job in putting over the emotions, work, and story being told in the ring. Stephanie was a delightful wrinkle as well, adding further heat with her presence, trolling, and mannerisms as she rooted for the love of her life.


This was a jaw-dropping roller-coaster that more than lived up to its storyline as well as its position as the most pushed match going into this show. This was a back-and-forth nailbiter with amazing counters, outstanding submission wrestling, and incredible storytelling. I also loved this significantly more than The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014. The only nitpick complaint that keeps this from being a flawless masterpiece is that they had to hold back just a teeny bit for obvious reasons.


But make no mistake: I look forward to the eventual rematch at some point, as I know they have a perfect match in them; and this is a work of art, easily in the top three matches I've ever seen live, right behind the pieces of perfection pitting D-Bry against Roderick Strong at Vendetta and HHH against Undertaker inside the Cell at Sunlife Stadium. ****3/4


The Shield vs. Kane & New Age Outlaws


An almost complete obliteration to showcase the Shield. It's a shame we look to never get a classic Shield match at WrestleMania, but at least they were booked to be pure bad-asses with all three stars getting their shit in on the old geezers before putting them down in a matter of minutes.


We got a wacky backstage segment with a bunch of legends, ending with Ron Simmons doing his "Damn" routine.


First Ever Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale


Clusterfuck at first as these matches usually are due to too many bodies in the ring, but it improved as it they thinned out the complete, utter jabronis. An early highlight was Fandango teasing an elimination and then the crowd Fandango-ing in appreciation as he gyrated on the apron. Another major highlight was Kofi Kingston looking to be eliminated, but it turns out both of his feet landed on the steel steps. Phenomenal spot.


The match got significantly better once it got to the stars of substance such as Big Show, Sheamus, Dolph Ziggler, Cesaro, Rey Mysterio, and Alberto Del Rio. The crowd appreciated seeing another giant swing from Cesaro as he unleashed it on Kingston, only to get pissed off when Show chokeslammed him. They popped for Ziggler's offense, but he was still in his burial stage so he got immediately eliminated by Del Rio as soon as his heat segment started.


Del Rio put a cross armbreaker on Sheamus, but was lifted up while the submission was still locked in. Sheamus attempted to break the hold over the ropes so that Del Rio would drop and be eliminated, but Del Rio held on and it became a mutual elimination, leaving Show and Cesaro as the final two.


The crowd became antsy at this point, as this was definitely an interesting matchup, the respected veteran giant against an ascending mid-carder. Cesaro breaks a chokeslam and tries to clothesline Show over the ropes. Cesaro goes for a top rope move but Show just slaps his chest. Cesaro manages to slide off of Show's shoulder before getting dumped, then gives the giant a European Uppercut. Cesaro then follows that up with a scoop slam to eliminate Big Show and win the trophy as the crowd popped in approval!


Not a match that'll get a special rating, but a special moment that brilliantly offset Cesaro's loss earlier in the evening. Oh what WWE had on their hands with this guy...


John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt


This one turns out to not hold up. The video package was phenomenal stuff, reminding me that other than Cena channeling Hogan from October 1998, this was a truly excellent program to elevate a fresh talent and give a potential wrinkle to Cena's character. The use of Eminem's "Legacy" certainly didn't hurt either.


But the match itself, it really just never picked up. The story was a fine idea on paper, that Wyatt would try to be Heath Ledger's Joker, a tortured soul that left Cena opportunities to display that he would finally be corrupted. And like the Joker, Wyatt would utilize Cena's ethics against him to gain an advantage when he felt like it, as well as making sure that Luke Harper & Erick Rowan intervened behind the ref's back. I appreciate that the goal was for Wyatt to be an unpredictable heel.


With that said, Wyatt showed once again that he fails to be emotionally engaging when he has the heat, as he does nothing to fire the crowd up, to make them hate him and wanna see the babyface make a comeback. That is the ultimate failure of this highly anticipated showdown. Once Wyatt figures out how to engage the audience, perhaps he won't feel so overpushed at the expense of others who do a significantly better job of connecting with the paying customers.


I don't even care at this point that Cena won the match. Sure, Wyatt, much like Cesaro, was an ascending star, and even had the bragging rights of pinning Roman Reigns twice as well as the only clean singles victory over D-Bry in the past year. But as I just detailed, would the Wyatt character have any additional value had he won this match when the guy portraying the gimmick has such obvious holes in his game still?


Howard Finkle introduces the 2014 WWE HOF class to the audience. Little did we know that we were seeing the last of a man that is a staple in WrestleMania lore.


Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker


Like the match prior, fantastic video package with Paul Heyman putting over the significance of what Lesnar was aiming to do just so strongly.


This match was even sadder to watch almost a year later. Not even just because of the match itself, which was handicapped by Taker getting a concussion when he was thrown into a barricade (that's how it appeared to this viewer at least), but also WWE's failure to truly maximize the historic result of this match. But the aftermath is a topic I'll be detailing later on in this reviewing project.


I understand many people being upset about a part-timer being the one to break The Streak, even though someone rational like me could see the benefit of it. I was only upset that such an iconic moment took place in such a tedious, plodding match. Not only was Taker clearly woozy, but the story of the match itself, which was pushed only even more by the commentary, was "wow, Taker is old." Not exactly a captivating narrative.


Those who say that Lesnar is an overrated performer will certainly be using this match as a primary example to back up their argument. But just because he couldn't carry a concussed, broken down 49 year old heavyweight doesn't mean he wasn't "deserving" of this moment, nor does it mean he's terrible at what WWE pays him millions to do a few times per year. Only a select few in the world could've gotten anything resembling a fun match in these circumstances, and it's not a slight on Lesnar that he's not one of those few.


I really can't be bothered to give this the same kind of detailed treatment as HHH vs. D-Bry. One moment, no matter how iconic and historic, doesn't justify that for me. But this match was opposite of that, as I can't imagine any nails being bitten by the fellow 70,000+ fellow fans that were in attendance unless it was done out of habit or boredom. The crowd reaction was certainly something, but would've been much hotter had this match not been such a chore to sit through.


Lesnar and Heyman are booed out of the building before they leave the stage, although I'm not sure if that's good or bad heat. Taker gets a well-deserved standing ovation for the legacy he built as he walks the aisle for what many wondered at the time would be his final ringside walk ever. I for one am glad he's gonna try to make sure he goes out with a better match that this one, as this was a sad sight to watch, much like Peyton Manning's injury-riddled performance when his former Colts eliminated his Broncos in decisive fashion.


WrestleMania 31 - March 29, 2015 in the Bay Area~!


AJ Lee wins a match against a bunch of other divas to keep the Divas Title in the obvious death spot of the night. The crowd doesn't give a shit as they had the air sucked out of them by what they just witnessed minutes earlier. The only note I'll make is we got a preview of obviously the most enthralling program of the year when Brie Bella and Nikki Bella went at it.


WWE Title Match - No DQ, No Countout

Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan


Crowd finally recovers in this one for D-Bry, although they never truly recovered from having the air sucked out of them. The Authority come out to try to spoil it all for D-Bry, attacking him and bringing back the supposedly fired ref Scott Armstrong, who is clearly taking orders from them and revealing he had been in cahoots with HHH at Night of Champions 2013. D-Bry takes them all out and gets them to fuck off so he can focus on regaining the prize that he had continuously been getting screwed out of for months.


The match itself wasn't super special, as it was about the moment. Unlike Taker vs. Lesnar though, this was still incredibly fun with a great story. Orton & Batista went after the injured D-Bry early to take him out, both to prey on him for being weakened, and also knowing he was on a white-hot roll that had been ongoing for almost a year. They took him out with a powerbomb neckbreaker combo on the commentary tables at ringside, with Orton taking a bad bump and hurting himself in doing so.


Before that spot, Orton and Batista had a good fight as D-Bry was knocked out, with Batista getting backdropped on steel steps when attempting a powerbomb. With Batista down, Orton saw D-Bry regaining consciousness, so Orton attacked him to keep him down before the big double-team spot I detailed in the prior paragraph. Amazing that Batista could still go after that steel steps bump.


The crowd though didn't care for obvious reasons when the heels went at it, so when D-Bry finally came back into the action, they truly woke up with excitement. Nothing would keep him down, not even doctors trying to take him away from ringside on a stretcher. They had a nice finishing sequence for the last few minutes, with Orton being knocked out of the ring. In the meantime, D-Bry got Batista in the Lebell Lock, leaving the Rumble winner with no choice but to tap out. I'd have liked a couple false finishes with that before the tapout, but I'll take it.


For anyone not to see this finish coming, that's a clear indication of their lack of instinct as this was telegraphed at the end of Elimination Chamber 2014. This match was very fun with everyone working hard, ending with a moment on par with the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII for me. For fans of independent wrestling during the 2000s decade, the only more rewarding moment that could've taken place on this night would've been Punk vs. D-Bry in the main event, unifying the titles. Seeing Bryan Danielson holding both title belts to close out a landmark WrestleMania inside such a historic venue was rewarding, vindicating, and a defining reason on why I love pro wrestling despite all of its bullshit and disappointment. ***1/2


Greatest WrestleMania ever as some wondered when leaving the Superdome? Sorry - this doesn't measure up to WrestleMania X-Seven and WrestleMania XIX. Overall, it's not quite as great as I had remembered that night. But this is one to watch and remember, with a legacy that nobody could've seen coming as the show closed that night.


The booking was newsworthy, some of it phenomenal, some of it head-scratching (and even maddening for those irrational) at the time, almost entirely across the board. We got a talking segment involving the Mt. Rushmore of the past quarter century, one that will never be topped. We got a tag team split we had been aching to see, complete with the ascending star getting the nod in a match paying tribute to a HOF giant. In addition, we got the Shield being displayed as unfuckable bad-asses, a critical piece of storytelling in the wake of them almost breaking up, setting the stage for a shocking, game-changing moment to come.


Most importantly, we got two stars standing head-and-shoulders above everyone else for what they accomplished. Daniel Bryan, after months of oppression, and years of connecting with every audience he ever performed in front of, reached what will certainly be his career defining moment, even if he defeats the other shining star of this night at another WrestleMania. He won two main event matches to gain the top prize in the business, one of them an all-time classic in company history that more than lived up to its hype. For him personally, it doesn't get any better than the entire family being present for a moment like that, a dynamic he'll sadly never to get experience again.


The other star as I just alluded to was of course Brock Lesnar, shattering a mythical element and looking to have possibly ended the Undertaker's career in addition to The Streak. It's a moment that will obviously always stand the test of time, and even though the match was lousy for understandable reasons, that moment itself makes the match must-see at least once for all fans of pro wrestling. It is this decade's version of Mick Foley being thrown off the top of the Cell.


There's also an element of sadness to this show, as not only would Danielson lose a family member present at ringside shortly afterwards, as well as his well-known fan Connor the Crusher, but this would be the farewell weekend of the Ultimate Warrior. As would be said later in the week, it seemed to be fate that his final moments would be burying the hatchet and becoming more involved in celebrating his role in the legacy of WWE. These tragedies only further put forth an additional value on the show that cannot ever be properly measured in words; they remind us on such a night of pageantry and anticipation of what truly matters most, that life, love, and family are precious and not to be taken for granted.


With that said, this was a hell of a way to kick off The Road to WrestleMania 31: The Good Shit, and we're gonna keep on rolling with a night of celebration in the Big Easy on the next post.

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THE AFTERMATH OF A MAGICAL WEEKEND~!


Raw - April 7, 2014


EASILY the most entertaining Raw of 2014, which is both a compliment of this show and the crowd as well as a fair criticism of what the overall product would become later in the year. Every segment on this show clicked, even the jabroni filler thanks to the outstanding audience that I was so fortunate to be a part of this time.


Daniel Bryan's promos to open and close the show (the latter being on Backstage Pass) only further emphasized how rewarding this weekend was as a longtime fan of independent wrestling. I also loved the Authority failing so miserably to undermine his happiness in the opening segment, and I laugh at anyone above the age of 10 years who thought we'd be getting the actual rematch on this night.


Big E, Sheamus, & John Cena vs. The Wyatt Family - ***1/4, a fun trios match that gets an extra boost thanks to the electrifying crowd.


Paul Heyman's promo with Brock Lesnar present, bragging about the destruction of the Streak, will continue to be a standard-bearer, and could very likely be the greatest promo of Paul E's career. His trolling was magnificent of the smark audience and he did a second-to-none job of detailing the significance of Lesnar's accomplishments, emphasizing what a one of kind fighter his client and best friend is. This is easily the greatest promo I've had the privilege of experiencing live to date, even better than the Championship Ascension Ceremony in Seattle a few months earlier, and I say that with the SEA segment having incredibly strong sentimental value due to its location and what it did to ensure D-Bry stayed as a truly top player on the roster.


Batista and Randy Orton want a title shot, but the Authority say there may be another problem coming up for them. They decimate the Usos, not giving a shit about winning the Tag Titles.


Rob Van Dam returns after a six month absence to defeat Damien Sandow. In the next match, Wade Barrett makes his long-awaited in-ring return as well as the crowd pops huge, booing Rey Mysterio out of the building, in what would turn out to be the first-ballot HOFer's final match in WWE.


In what would tragically and poetically be his final public appearance, the Ultimate Warrior makes his first appearance on Raw in 18 years. Had I known this would be it for him, I'd have paid more attention live rather than toying with my phone. In addition, the retrospective eye can't help but notice that simply talking for a couple minutes made him look like he was sweating as profusely as Davey Richards during a match. No assessment is needed, as his words speak for themselves:


"No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend markers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. Ultimate. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever!"


Hulk Hogan congratulates Cesaro for his victory the night before and presents him the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Trophy. Coulter cuts off Cesaro to talk, but Cesaro intervenes and reveals that he's now a Paul Heyman guy, which was a massive pop live! My assessment of that pairing will come later on in this project. Jack Swagger lets Cesaro win by countout, having no answers for his white-hot former tag partner.


AJ Lee brags about her Divas Title reign in the same fashion as her spouse, but gets interrupted by the debuting Paige to the smarky crowd's delight. Lee is a complete cunt to the polite Paige and demands they collide right now for the title. In less than two minutes, the unprepared Paige breaks out of the Octopus hold and then hits the Gonorrhea (which she calls the Paige-Turner) for one of the all-time biggest upsets in the show's history, on par with Sean Waltman over Razor Ramon and Shelton Benjamin over HHH. The crowd is ecstatic as Lee is boiling with embarrassment.


Kane reveals in an argument with the Shield that HHH ordered the hits on them a few weeks earlier.






One of the greatest episodes in Raw history. Star power, a fun trios match, sentimental moments, game-changing turns in direction, an epic audience, one of the greatest promos EVER, stars returning to provide mid-card depth, Mysterio's in-ring WWE finale, and Ultimate Warrior's final public appearance of his life. This had everything for everyone and was a hell of a close to a truly magical weekend of professional wrestling in the Big Easy.


Main Event - April 8, 2014

The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family


I severely underrated this since it was thrown on this C-show at the last minute, rather than organically get built to a climatic, feud-ending gimmick match for Extreme Rules 2014. But on its own, this was off-the-charts shit, with all kinds of great cutting off from the Wyatts. Rollins was once again the star of this match, flying all over the place similar to Daniel Bryan. His selling was also excellent when the Wyatts got the heat on him.


Ambrose also had a segment in which the Wyatts got the heat on him, which was very good too. Every time Reigns was in the ring, he was a house of fire, perfectly suiting his role and protecting him. And the closing minutes were just crazy shit, bodies just flying everywhere, rapid changes in momentum, complete with tag legalities being remembered to make this truly polished unlike many trios matches on the indy scene styled like this one. The Shield get their win to build them up for Evolution, cutting a promo on them in which Reigns is the clear star, showcasing all the marketable traits he's been blessed with. ****




Raw - April 14, 2014




Raw - April 21, 2014

IC Title Shot Tournament Semifinal

Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett - ***


Main Event - April 29, 2014

Sheamus vs. Bray Wyatt - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


If you think I'm gonna discuss the D-Bry vs. Kane feud, think again. Now's the time to quickly go over the two creative directions of value.


Shield vs. Evolution, while I would've STRONGLY preferred for it to wait until the summer to go in that direction (that way we could've gotten D-Bry vs. Batista and the conclusive finale of Shield vs. Wyatts), was a very nice program to give the face-turned Shield some vulnerability and give them fresh top stars to work with too. It was also nice to see Orton dress like a man at ringside for the first time in years, and of course Batista was masterful with his business attire, making sure to have a Kanye-like flavor to it to make sure he was an off-putting heel. Rollins also got the most mic time of the Shield, which felt pleasantly strange since Ambrose is a significantly superior talker while Reigns was the obvious future face of the company.


The Heyman & Cesaro pairing got off to a good if not decent start. While Cesaro's time was wasted feuding with Swagger, it did allow for a genuinely scintillating debate between Heyman and Zeb Coulter, a true dream verbal confrontation between two of the greatest talkers ever. While Heyman got his Lesnar bragging shit in, he was also putting over his new client, and it appeared there was some kind of substantial plan for this pairing. I'll detail more on this as the project continues.

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Extreme Rules 2014: The Good Shit


The Shield vs. Batista, Triple H, & Randy Orton


Good trios match but not the classic that many classify it as being. Batista was great wearing red to stand out from his partners, showing that deep down he only cares about his own direction. Nice Air Jordans he has on too.


They brawl early to the crowd's delight, with Rollins playing the FIP as usual during the Shield's babyface run. After several pretty good minutes of getting the heat on him, he gets a hot tag to Ambrose, who also plays the FIP in another pretty good segment. After Ambrose has been put through pain by Evolution, HHH gloats and mocks the Shield, but Ambrose manages to hit a DDT to give Reigns a hot tag.


This would lead to the third and final act of the match, which had plenty of brawling and finishers galore. HHH evaded a tope move from Rollins, who crashed head and shoulder-first in the barricade. HHH evaded a Superman Punch in the ring and hit Reigns with a Pedigree, then placed Batista on him. Reigns kicked out, grooming him for his obvious future. But because this company still had a clue, an Ace Crusher on Reigns by Orton wasn't kicked out of, but had its pinfall attempt saved by the recovered Rollins. See what happens when someone isn't shoved down the audience's throat?


The brawling outside pitting Ambrose & Rollins vs. HHH & Orton is great stuff that pops the crowd, ending with a climatic splash from Rollins from the top of a seating entrance. It was adrenaline-rushing shit. But this is where I ran into a problem with the match, as the ref just let Batista and Reigns lay around WHILE HE HIMSELF STAYED IN THE RING, instead focusing too much on the brawling that was happening almost a football field away from him. That's bad officiating and was my lone nitpick in The Shield's jaw-dropping work of art against The Wyatt Family at Elimination Chamber 2014.


But unlike that instant classic, this match lacked a truly electric crowd that was giddy before the bell even ringing. This match actually summarized this direction quite well: it was good, but not one that audiences felt a NEED to see unlike Shield vs. Wyatts a few months earlier. When the brawling ended with that Rollins splash, the cameras' focus went back to the ring, and now all of a sudden Batista and Reigns regain consciousness. There's no super finishing stretch that we had been accustomed to in Shield matches. Instead, after one spear, Reigns gets the pin on Batista. It resulted in a good trios match, but not a total show-stealer that'll leave the crowd with memories etched in their minds for years to come. ***1/2


WWE Title - Hardcore Match

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane


Fun match, the best it could be with the storyline it was given, its structure, and the fact that both men were severely broken down at this time. D-Bry went after Kane with everything he had, using weapons, speed, and furious kicks, but due to Kane's massive size, Kane would be able to land one blow and regain the heat. This was pretty much the story of the match until they brawled to the back, and I couldn't believe the unnecessary risk of having Kane throw an electrical item into a garbage can filled with water. There was no point to that and many people could've gotten severely harmed.


There happened to be a forklift backstage, so when D-Bry knocked out Kane with a tire iron, he placed him on the pallet and drove the machine to ringside, showcasing he could probably get a decent factory worker salary should he ever desire to earn his income in that field. He titled the pallet over the ring to dump Kane and hit a diving headbutt off the pallet for a nearfall.


They had a few more decent minutes, highlighted by the finish. Kane set a table at ringside on fire and then went to battle with D-Bry on the nearby apron. With Kane's balance off, D-Bry shook the ropes violently, forcing Kane to land on the table and get doused with a fire extinguisher. Kane went into the ring, his mind not being right for obvious reasons, and ate a Busaiku knee for the finish. As D-Bry leaves in celebration, Kane gets up and poses with fire being lit at the entrance and on the ringposts. Fun match with limitations and unnecessary risks, and I'm not particularly saddened we didn't get to see this program continue. ***

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Raw - May 5, 2014

The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family


Fun trios match but the weakest of their series, largely thanks to this being just a plot device for Shield's program with Evolution. I definitely would've loved to have seen Evolution work a program with a babyface Wyatt Family at WrestleMania 31, and seeing the two factions both at ringside only further reminded me of that. ***1/4


SmackDown! - May 9, 2014

The Usos & John Cena vs. The Wyatt Family - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Raw - May 12, 2014: The Good Shit


Good opening segment with the Shield being pissed off about Evolution mugging them the week before, and Reigns cuts what has to easily be the best promo of his career to date, a complete bad-ass oozing confidence and taking this shit seriously.


The Usos & John Cena vs. The Wyatt Family - ***1/2


WWE Champion Daniel Bryan has to break the news that he's undergoing neck surgery, and the timetable for his return is unknown. But he vows to make a return. Huge punch in the gut creatively and business-wise for the company.


Main Event - May 13, 2014

Sheamus vs. Cesaro - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Raw - May 19, 2014: The Good Shit


Sheamus vs. Cesaro - *** (highlight being Paul Heyman's prematch promo when he gave an A+ effort to troll the crowd but they loved his shtick too much to hate him)


Stephanie McMahon one-ups Heyman's trolling later in the show, threatening to strip Daniel Bryan of the WWE Title and teasing she may just hand it to one of her favorites instead. The real zinger though was her showcasing a Wade Barrett video, causing the London audience to expect an appearance by him during the segment, but it's just her being a cunt. Awesome.


NXT Takeover: The Good Shit


NXT Title Shot Match

Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze


Really good match here and Breeze's breakout performance. This match served its purpose beautifully, showcasing Zayn's struggles to win the big one despite phenomenal efforts from him. There were a number of amazing cut offs and highspots in this one, including an over-the-top-rope cannonball, Exploder suplex in the corner, and of course the finish. Zayn went for the Yakuza kick but Breeze placed his hands in front of his own face to protect its beauty, inadvertently causing Zayn's crotch to get harmed from landing on his hands. Breeze doesn't give a shit though and hits a spinning heel kick for the win. ***3/4


Vacant NXT Women's Title Tournament Final

Charlotte vs. Natalya Neidhart


The title has been vacated due to Paige becoming Divas Champion on the main roster. Charlotte is accompanied by her father Ric Flair and Natalya is accompanied by her uncle Bret Hart.


They have a great showcase early of technical wrestling, establishing an even matchup. But Charlotte is a cocky troll at times, oozing the swagger genetically passed onto her by her father, who was great in his role as her cheerleader during this classic. Bret was great as well, but his laid-back flavor of enthusiasm couldn't measure up to Flair's flamboyant passion and emotion.


These ladies took some hits on this one, the most painful being when Natalya was leg-whipped off the apron and onto the floor. This was ingenious on Charlotte's part, as it weakened Natalya's right knee to soften her up for the figure four leglock, and caused severe pain to the back to sabotage Natalya's arsenal of suplexes and her Scorpion Deathlock finisher. Having already had an amazing sequence earlier in the match involving their finishers, this moment further enhanced the story that was wrapped up neatly in the finish, as Natalya had too much pain in her back and legs to apply her finisher. Charlotte shoved her off and then finished her with a standing inverted Buff Blockbuster.


Post-match, Flair is in tears seeing what his daughter has accomplished, and Bret shakes his hand as the ladies embrace, having earned each other's respect and knowing they tore the fucking house down. This right here is best for business. ****


NXT Title Match

Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd


They had quite the nailbiter to follow, but these men got the job done with another excellent match to close out this stellar event. Kidd is a dick early, trying to get in the younger Neville's head. But like the show-stealer before this, it's an even matchup early, having a stalemate influenced by the classic series of matches between Dean Malenko and Eddie Guerrero two decades earlier.


This match also has it fair share of dives, including a tope con giro from Kidd and then later my favorite moment, that being Neville going for a springboard kick off the second rope, only for Kidd to jump up and counter that into a Russian Leg Sweep. There was also a point in which Neville went for a dive to the outside, but Kidd cut him off, building up and teasing when Neville would bust out the flippy shit. That would be delivered in the finish, when Kidd was knocked down enough for Neville to finish him off with the Sky Twister. Not quite emotionally on par with the prior match, but this was just as technically impressive, with a sour Kidd refusing to shake hands afterwards to offset his wife's good sportsmanship. ****

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Payback 2014: The Good Shit


US Title Match

Sheamus vs. Cesaro


Very good physical match here that built off of their previous match a couple weeks earlier. I must of course mention Paul Heyman's masterful trolling of Chicago, telling them CM Punk was at the other building getting to witness the Kings eliminate the Blackhawks, comparing it to Brock Lesnar conquering The Streak.


They start off with physical exchanges early, and the transitions are great shit. Whether it would be turning a running charge into a traditional backbreaker, unleashing another European Uppercut (including Cesaro scouting the diving springboard shoulder charge of Sheamus with that), or busting out submissions to work the appropriate body parts, this was an excellent choice to open the PPV portion of the show. I love the finish too of Sheamus winning with a last-ditch small package after being the victim of a giant swing, surprising Cesaro in the process. Easily the best of their 2014 series up to this point. ***1/2


Daniel Bryan refuses to hand over the WWE Title to Stephanie McMahon, who is masterful at using the chants for CM Punk to add to the segment, saying the audience must want D-Bry to be a quitter too. Brie Bella quits rather than get fired and slaps Steph. Steph mentioned during this arc that Brie would be punished for putting her hands on the boss, so why didn't D-Bry remind Steph that he had assaulted him a few months earlier during the law enforcement impersonation and false imprisonment segment in San Antonio?


Last Man Standing Match

John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt


Excellent smoke-and-mirrors match that appeared to be the end of this saga that nosedived rapidly after WrestleMania XXX. They took some serious hits in this one, not just with physical strikes, but bumps all over the place, be it on the floor, through tables, or onto steel steps. Speaking of the steps, the obvious highlight had to be Wyatt being on the outside, and then Cena throwing the steps towards him from inside the ring, causing Wyatt to get a visible gash on his right arm.


Wyatt would get up from that, giving him some genuine bad-ass credibility that had been lacking since Elimination Chamber 2014. Now let me get one problem with the match out of the way: booking-wise, the company put itself into a corner. The Usos and Luke Harper & Erick Rowan twice had smoke-and-mirrors segments that were of course off the charts chaotic. So why not have the Shield and Evolution face each other on this night in a series of hot singles matches, and allowing this to just be a trios gimmick match to conclusively and logically close out the Cena vs. Wyatt with the maximum climax?


Those Usos and Harper/Rowan segments led to the other problem, one I had with a couple trios matches earlier in the year. Rather than do his job, which was to count down Cena and Wyatt anytime they were not standing on both feet, the referee allowed the smoke-and-mirrors to distract him, allowing Wyatt plenty of time to lay around. Even Michael Cole pointed this out, and when does he ever really notice details like that?


The finish was definitely a hot one, as Cena and Wyatt brawled to the entrance area. Cena took a bump over some production equipment, causing fireworks to go off on the stage to startle the audience. They brawled a bit more, ending with Cena giving Wyatt a Death Valley Driver through a production equipment box, then dropping another one on top to ensure Wyatt stayed down for the ten count. Why the company didn't follow up properly with this excellent finish that showcased Cena's creativity and adaptability to his surroundings, as well as what it took to put down Wyatt, I'll never know. But this was a quality match, one that got the most out of the corner it was placed in to protect the trios main event later on. ****


Hardcore Survivor Series Style Elimination Match

The Shield vs. Batista, Triple H, & Randy Orton


Batista is in blue this time to showcase that at his core he is about himself, not Evolution. Love him growing out his balding hair too to make look even more off-putting.


They have a nice brawl early, then it breaks down to a regular trios tag match. Now this was quality traditional tag wrestling, although was illogical considering the gimmick stipulation of the match. That the referee also enforced tag legalities against the babyfaces for the sake of building drama only makes his performance later on in the match even more flawed. During this segment though, Evolution did a great job of getting heat on Rollins & Ambrose, although not as much as the month prior, and the Reigns vs. HHH showdown definitely felt like a clash of titans as indicated by the audience reaction.


The match became a brawl again in the second act, much like their previous match's final act. But this time this portion was a bit cleaner. Batista and Reigns didn't lay around this time, as they kept doing their work in the ring and adding to the brawl too. HHH hit Rollins with what appeared to be a laptop or somewhat larger piece of electrical equipment, knocking the former Tag Champ unconscious. Ambrose is also left laying by Orton elsewhere near ringside. HHH & Orton come help Batista take out Reigns, and they give him the Shield's trademark triple-team powerbomb through a commentary table.


We then get to the third act, as Ambrose has regained consciousness and dives at Evolution, which is then followed up seconds later by Rollins doing an over-the-top rope dive onto HHH to regain the heat and get the crowd back into it. It becomes a 3-on-2 brawl to the entrance, as Reigns is still selling the powerbomb and slowly crawls back into the ring, not having the energy to come help his team. Rollins is knocked down, while HHH gives Ambrose a side slam onto a chair onto the floor.


This is where Evolution pissed away the victory that was in their hands. Due to their vindictive egos, they chose to use this opportunity to make an example out of the Shield, rather than eliminating them in the ring (the only way to do so per the rules of the match, which would've been nice to hammer home before this match started.) They went into the ring and mugged Reigns 3-on-1, tearing off his shirt and battering his body with kendo sticks. They then went back to the entrance to pick on Ambrose, only to see Rollins had climbed the entrance set and he dove onto them for the highlight of the match, kicking off the third and final act.


Batista and Rollins crawled to the ring, and now the referee forget that Batista and Reigns were actually legal, and I'm not sure why. While this was chaotic, it wasn't as chaotic as similar matches involving the Wyatt Family or Generation Next. Very poor level of officiating for the #1 pro wrestling company in the entire world, on par with the shite performance in the Cena vs. Wyatt match. With that said, this was a hot finish, with Batista being pinned by Rollins after taking multiple finishers; Orton being pinned by Ambrose after a chair to the back and followup headlock driver on a chair; and then HHH, despite a spear by Batista and Orton handing him a sledgehammer, being pinned by Reigns after a Rollins springboard diving knee and Reigns spear. Clean sweep and I appreciated the post-match very much, with everyone selling the beating they took, and then the Shield a couple minutes later standing over HHH, having conquered the boss and his buddies, united and on top of the world. ***1/2

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Raw - June 2, 2014: The Good Shit


This episode is all about the important storyline shit.




John Cena stands up for Daniel Bryan against Stephanie McMahon, showing a possible transition in direction at the top.




Poetic for this to have taken place in Indianapolis, the location that saw the birth of the Shield.


Raw - June 9, 2014: The Good Shit


In the opening segment, it's announced that Daniel Bryan will be unable to defend the WWE Title in the near future, so the title is now vacant, and will be up for grabs in a main event ladder match at Money in the Bank 2014. Alberto Del Rio is inafter qualifying for the MITB Ladder Match, and Orton is in because HHH says "he is who he is." How about the fact that Orton wasn't the one who submitted to D-Bry at WrestleMania XXX, and was entitled to a title shot? In addition, the remnants of the Shield face the Wyatt Family in a trios match to close the show.


WWE Title Match Qualifier

Sheamus vs. Wade Barrett - ***1/2


Ambrose & Reigns cut an exceptional promo, with Ambrose detailing what he will do to the face of Rollins. Reigns has a cheesy phrase or two but is otherwise really good.


Rollins is great in his first post-Shield promo, completely smug and sociopathic while being interviewed in the ring by Michael Cole. He stuck to his strengths promo-wise, utilizing what appears to be a real-life arrogance that he carries off-screen, rather than be Diet HHH on the stick. It completely worked, channeling his heel run in his final month in ROH. He dares Ambrose & Reigns to come after him, then the lights go out and it's the Wyatt Family in the ring. Rollins takes a powder and Cena comes out to help Ambrose & Reigns, obviously volunteering through his actions to be their partner tonight.


Paul Heyman does a masterful job of trolling the Minnesota crowd, duping them into believing their hometown Beast would appear, only for it to be Cesaro. Awesome.


The Wyatt Family vs. John Cena, Dean Ambrose, & Roman Reigns - ***1/2


Main Event - June 10, 2014

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


NXT - June 12, 2014

NXT Title Match

Adrian Neville vs. Tyson Kidd - ***1/2


SmackDown! - June 13, 2014


Sheamus vs. Cesaro - ***1/2


Exceptional promo work yet again from Ambrose on Rollins, calling out Rollins for being all talk and a coward.


WWE Title Match Qualifier

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt - ***1/4


Main Event - June 17, 2014

Sheamus & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


SmackDown! - June 20, 2014

Sheamus, John Cena, & Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Randy Orton, & Alberto Del Rio - ***1/2


Raw - June 23, 2014


IC Title Match

Wade Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler


Many of these TV matches don't hold up months, especially years, later. This isn't one of those matches. This was nailbiting shit with all kinds of crazy bumps and crowd-popping transitions. This match was never dull, and in the third act, the crowd was apeshit for the near-falls. And what a finish for Barrett, channeling Chris Hero and knocking Ziggler out with a rotating elbow as Ziggler flew at him! I'd love to see these two get a chance to shine on PPV, and it's a shame Barrett got hurt again right as he was gaining momentum. ***3/4


Sheamus, John Cena, & Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt, Cesaro, Randy Orton, & Alberto Del Rio - ***1/4. Kane appears post-match and HHH announces him as being the WWE Title Ladder Match main event at Money in the Bank 2014.


Other notes:


As mentioned, Rollins started off really well character-wise, showcasing his arrogance and incredibly condescending entitlement, while playing the cowardly role well enough to make Ambrose such a lovable babyface, going insane because someone he loved could become so cruel towards him. Reigns turned his focus on winning the top prize in the company, telegraphing the company's plan for him several months down the road.


Heyman & Cesaro, while they don't have their chemistry down pat yet, are only getting better as a pair, with Heyman doing a stellar job of bragging about Brock Lesnar, then also putting over Cesaro's accomplishment as well. This looked to have some potential.

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Money in the Bank 2014: The Good Shit


On the preshow, Daniel Bryan shows up. He completely confirms Dave Meltzer's second-to-none reporting and tells Bo Dallas that he's being a boner when he shows up.


Tag Titles Match

The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan


Damn good opener here to kick the PPV portion off properly. Everyone worked incredibly hard, with all kinds of great back-and-forth shit that usually gets annoying on the indies, but completely clicked here. Harper in particularly truly shined, showcasing why his basement is to be the next Kane, and potential ceiling would be to fill Undertaker's void. He was flying all over the place as much as the Usos, pulling out multiple tope suicidas.


The finish itself was climatic and protected everyone involved. Harper got hit with a few strikes, ending with a kick that knocked him off the apron. That left Rowan, who was laying on the mat, victim to back-to-back top rope splashes for the win. The Usos were the better team, but it took an incredible arsenal to put down Harper & Rowan, with the latter needing two finishers to make sure he'd be down for the three count. ***1/2


Money in the Bank Contract Ladder Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Rob Van Dam


Spectacular spotfest with an awesome angle to add some sizzle on top. The match starts with the angle in question, as Ambrose heads straight towards Rollins to a fantastic crowd pop. Ambrose would get the old-fashioned worked injury deep in the match, having to be taken backstage, making it obvious he'd return. That left everyone else to do dangerous spotty shit, often making me wince when considering how payoffs reportedly nosedived with the launch of the WWE Network.


Standout spots include: Kingston falling off a ladder, landing feet-first on the top rope, and springboarding onto opponents on the outside; Ziggler giving Kingston the Zig-Zag onto a ladder, fucking both of them up; Ambrose giving Rollins a superplex off of a ladder that brought back memories of the CM Punk vs. Jimmy Rave finish in their cage match at ROH's Nowhere to Run; and of course one of the dumbest bumps I've ever seen on any level in the business, with Rollins falling onto a ladder set up horizontally across the top rope and standing ladder's rung, his body bouncing up, the horizontal ladder going out of place, and landing on his shoulder area, coming dangerously close to having his head hit one if not both of the ladders. And remember, the payoffs for these guys went down significantly enough to be a contributing reason to one of the top stars in the business fucking off.


So Ambrose returns of course to sabotage Rollins and the crowd is ecstatic. He's about to obtain the briefcase, only for the predictable deflation to occur, when Kane shows up to mug Ambrose, allowing Rollins to win. Really proud to see how far Ambrose and Rollins have come since their days on the indy scene, and this was certainly a spectacle to enjoy, even though so much of it was an unnecessary stunt show and not quite up to snuff with the all-time classic ladder matches. ***3/4


Ladder Match for the Vacant WWE Title

Sheamus vs. Kane vs. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt vs. Cesaro vs. Randy Orton vs. Roman Reigns vs. Alberto Del Rio


Extremely tedious excuse of a main event and ladder match. There was so much dead air in this match, with many paint-by-numbers segments that did little to stand out. Sure, the crowd popped for signature moves, but that was offset by a horrendous spot in which everyone was climbing up and yanking each other down early in the match. A complete waste of time segment that added no drama and the crowd didn't give a single shit about.


This was another stunt show in which these men often killed themselves for the lowered payoffs as mentioned for the other ladder match. I can't imagine Cesaro almost tearing an ACL could've possibly been worth the trouble though, nor was this match anywhere near to being anything memorable to help offset the more pain for less pay dynamic of this match in 2014. The finish itself, in which Cena notices nobody else present in the ring and quickly climbs up to grab both belts, is properly anticlimatic, perfectly summarizing what a waste of time this match was for the guys involved and the paying viewers.

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Raw - June 30, 2014: The Good Shit


Seth Rollins vs. Rob Van Dam - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year). After the match, Dean Ambrose cuts an awesome backstage promo promising to thwart any MITB cash-in attempt by Rollins.


We get a white-hot segment involving Jack Swagger & Zeb Coulter against Rusev & Lana. The crowd heat is off-the-charts in support of Coulter's excellent pro-USA promo, ending with Rusev having to walk away from the fight after an arm-drag. Phenomenal segment.


Sheamus & The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family - ***1/2


Chris Jericho returned and got targeted by the Wyatts. Elsewhere, AJ Lee returned and quickly dethroned Paige of the Divas Title. Just throwing this in here since most will consider these lackluster returns/runs of both stars to be part of the The Good Shit.




SmackDown! - July 4, 2014

US Title Match

Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Raw - July 7, 2014: The Good Shit


Roman Reigns is the showcase of the opening segment against the Authority, and it's nice to see a fresh act clicking, regardless of what his limitations still are.


The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Dean Ambrose once again sabotaged the cash-in of Seth Rollins in the main event.


Main Event - July 8, 2014

US Title - Last Man Standing Match

Sheamus vs. Alberto Del Rio - ***1/2. Fun but totally unnecessary hot-shotting of a gimmick match that had zero provocation and a blatant attempt to get people to tune in during the free week, just nine days after both men were still recovering from a ladder match.


SmackDown! - July 11, 2014

Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Raw - July 14, 2014

The Great Debate

Lana vs. Zeb Coulter - Easy heat with a hot finish, Rusev needing to bail again when Jack Swagger has the upper hand.




NXT - July 17, 2014

Sami Zayn vs. Tyson Kidd


Kidd had used his wife Natalya Neidhart's bump to get the pin on a concerned Zayn the week before. Good match in front of a tired crowd due to the lengthy tapings, with all kinds of great moves, including multiple topes, tornado DDTs, a Blue Thunder Driver, Buff Blockbuster, and finally ending it with Zayn pulling something of the playbook of Christopher Daniels, using the Downward Spiral and making Kidd submit to the Koji Clutch. ***1/4


Battleground 2014: The Good Shit


Tag Titles - 2/3 Falls Match

The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan


Really good match with a fantastic third fall that made up for the first two falls being quite pedestrian. The Wyatts got the first fall thanks to a Harper big boot, then the Usos tied it up. The third fall as mentioned was off-the-charts with the crowd going apeshit for obvious nearfalls, showing that these four men were definitely doing something right. The best segment was a battle between Jimmy and Harper, just pulling out all kinds of spectacular cut-offs, highlighted by a sit-down powerbomb nearfall. Jey would superkick Harper during a tope suicida attempt, but that was just another great nearfall for Jimmy.


The Usos would eventually get the upper hand for victory, but not before forgetting that it took TWO back-to-back splashes to put Rowan down in Boston, as they only pulled out one on him here and were surprised it was a nearfall. After double superkicks on both Wyatts plus a double splash on Rowan, they were the victors, cementing themselves as the top tag team in the company. Had the first two falls not been wasted away and if one or two spots hadn't looked a bit indyriffic, this would be a potential MOTYC. ***3/4


Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose gets an incredible video package, then the match never takes places. Ambrose interrupts a backstage Rollins promo and is thrown out by Triple H. When Rollins later takes the forfeit victory, Ambrose shows up anyway to brawl with him, but it's too short to be a make-good for the bait-and-switch technique pulled with this match. In a time when the company was cutting costs and talent to make ends meet due to Network expenses, I'm not sure why anybody thought this was a great direction. Later in the show, Ambrose is waiting in the car of Rollins, who manages to escape his beating.


First of all, the people of Tampa Bay paid their hard-earned money for their tickets to this PPV event. This wasn't an episode of TV, in which this segment would've been a great buildup for the obvious PPV match. The people live in the building, and many who don't have the proper utilities to order the Network, instead having to order this on PPV, deserved much better than this. It's not like this B-show had much going for it on top to offset this bait-and-switch either as a make-good.


I reflect back to SummerSlam 2008, in which we had an excellent talking segment between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. Here's why that worked, while this bait-and-switch didn't: there was no advertised Jericho vs. HBK match on that show, it was significantly better and hotter than this Ambrose vs. Rollins pull-apart brawl. In addition, that was a card with HUGE depth at the top to make up for Jericho vs. HBK match happening, with the Batista vs. John Cena dream match and Hell in a Cell feud-ender for Edge vs. Undertaker.


When Rollins and Ambrose do eventually boomerang back to each other, there are two markets that I hope get to witness the hot matches that will close their feud. Dallas is one of them as I'll detail later in this project, and with what happened on this show, Tampa Bay is the obvious other one. They deserve a genuine make-good for this bullshit.

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Raw - July 21, 2014: The Good Shit


Fantastic segment on here with Stephanie McMahon putting Nikki Bella in a handicap match and talking shit to Brie Bella, who has a ticket in the front row. Stephanie can't take the fact that she has no leverage on Brie, so she attacks her and then Brie attempts to retaliate. Nikki of course loses in quick fashion and Stephanie continues talking shit.


Cesaro attempts to suck up to Triple H backstage, revealing in an extremely anticlimatic fashion that he is no longer a Paul Heyman client.


So what the fuck was the entire point of making Cesaro a Heyman guy, when he spent most of the time jobbing and allowing Heyman to verbally masturbate to Brock Lesnar without a single indication of an ascending direction for Cesaro coming out of it? How was this supposed to elevate Cesaro at all when he wasted his time in the mid-card as a Heyman guy?


I gotta go on a rant here, as this was the first sign that Vince McMahon was truly beginning to lose it. I revisited early 2014 prior to this Road to WM31 project, and Cesaro was over as a motherfucker. The crowd absolutely loved him, they bought him upsetting Randy Orton, going toe-to-toe with John Cena, being in the Elimination Chamber, winning the first ever Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, and becoming a Heyman guy. Then the company managed to waste Cesaro's time having nothing matches with Jack Swagger and Rob Van Dam, then going on to lose the feud against Sheamus over the US Title without a major blowoff, and being just another guy in the vacant WWE Title ladder match. Then the company does nothing of creative substance with him to capitalize on whatever momentum he may have still had left.


If you hate fantasy booking, skip the next two paragraphs in parentheses.


(Booking Cesaro to be a top star not only was a risk worth taking seeing how hot he was when he first paired with Heyman, but would've been both incredibly easy and beneficial for the company when the difficult post-SummerSlam period arrived. Have him reveal Heyman as his new agent in NOLA. He wins a tournament to challenge D-Bry for the title in a classic match for Extreme Rules 2014. He loses that but his stock is elevated due to his excellent performance. Follow that up with a great mid-card win over Dolph Ziggler at Payback 2014 to keep Cesaro busy and re-elevate Ziggler in Chicago. You still have D-Bry vacate the title due to injury and Cena wins it at Money in the Bank 2014. Heyman manages to get Cesaro a shot against Cena for the title in another classic match for Battleground 2014, losing but leaving major damage on Cena to soften him up for Heyman's top client Lesnar. Lesnar demolishes Cena for the title at SummerSlam 2014 while Cesaro stays steady beating Chris Jericho in another ****ish match. Next night, Cesaro requests out of respect to have a shot against Lesnar since he softened up Cena and they're both Heyman guys, but is laughed at. Cesaro finally makes the full babyface turn everyone's wanted, attacking Heyman and giving Lesnar a reason for a title shot. Lesnar defeats Cesaro in a career-defining match at Night of Champions 2014, a brutally physically war that makes puro fans pay attention, only making Cesaro hotter since he's able to take the Beast to the limit a month after the face of the company had been utterly squashed. But even in defeat, Cesaro sees his stock raise again, especially since he has the moral victory of unleashing the giant swing on Heyman. Since Heyman's still pissed but Lesnar has fucked off with the title, Heyman announces Sheamus as his newest client to keep Cesaro busy the rest of the year.


Meanwhile, everyone involved in the Shield and Authority are doing their own thing in the other top program throughout the summer. In fact, if you're smart, you hold off on that Shield vs. Evolution match until SummerSlam 2014 as I had mentioned earlier in this project to entice Batista to stick around a couple more months, with Shield winning that one and then doing the Rollins heel turn the night after, off-setting Cesaro's babyface turn on the same night. This could possibly lead to a white-hot heel Rollins vs. white-hot babyface Cesaro heading into WM31 should their paths have crossed under these circumstances. This allows for two fresh but separate directions on top heading into the fall, with the chance they may eventually interlock.)


After Flo Rida performs a couple of songs in front of his hometown MIA crowd, Stephanie ends up being arrested for slapping Brie in one of the best segments of the year. There was no commentary to make this heavy-handed, as the audience both in attendance and watching on TV got to witness this unfold organically. We need more segments like this with the Authority showing ass; not every week, but just a bit more frequently to keep them from getting so much of an upper hand that it sucks the wind of the audience.


Triple H, with Joey Mercury explaining the tough spot he was in, is about to go be with Steph at the local jail, but since he knows she'll be there awhile due to red tape, stays to announce who will challenge John Cena for the WWE Title at SummerSlam 2014.


Randy Orton is attacked by Roman Reigns before getting the nod. Out comes Paul Heyman and he convinces HHH to grant the shot to Lesnar. The COO shakes both men's hands and leaves to attend to his wife. Heyman cuts yet another excellent promo, finally having the Streak-ending Lesnar present to rub it in for the first time in months. An excellent video package airs emphasizing the historical importance of Lesnar's accomplishment at WrestleMania XXX, then Heyman does a masterful job of telling both Cena lovers and bashers why they need to watch this upcoming fight, for he details exactly what Lesnar has in store with great terminology not normally used on WWE TV, and promises not only will Cena be demolished, but that it will be Cena's finale. Gonna be a sad day when Lesnar & Heyman eventually retire.


Raw - July 28, 2014: The Good Shit


WWE Champion John Cena comes out to cut a furiously passionate promo, detailing why he cannot afford to allow Brock Lesnar to dethrone him. Out comes Paul Heyman who does a great job of trolling Cena, but then Cena busts out the lack of passion criticism on Lesnar, saying that Heyman at least loves the business. Then Cesaro comes out and gives Heyman an awkward hug, saying he still considers Heyman a friend and that Cena sucks at wrestling. Cena is just fucking phenomenal in this segment, not cracking any jokes about the challenge that awaits him and saying he'll be happy to wrestle circles around Cesaro while dressed like a walking billboard.


John Cena vs. Cesaro


This just couldn't measure up to their Denver classic. For one, Cesaro was a much colder character here, rather than on a red-hot ascension earlier in the year. And while this was a good match with Cesaro leading the way, it also suffered from looked to be a bad landing for Cena when he ate a tornado DDT counter. He was lethargic the rest of the match, with Cesaro carrying a huge majority of the energy. If Cena did actually get hurt here, it's understandable that Cesaro got cooled off for a bit for the safety of the top guys, even though it was clearly a fluke accident.


Cena did pull out a head-scissors and eventual giant swing, but nothing before countering the first giant swing by doing a sit-up, putting Cesaro in position to eat a DDT, and using his momentum for a sunset flip powerbomb. Awesome spot. Later on, Cesaro gave Cena the standard shove up in the air to eat a European Uppercut, a visual I'll never get tired of seeing as Cena looks so perfect being victim to that. Cena also ate what I like to call the apron superplex that Michael Elgin also uses as a signature. In the end, Cena countered a splash, catching Cesaro and lifting him up for the Death Valley Driver. ***1/4


Another great verbal battle between Lana and Zeb Coulter, with the obvious direction being a Flag Match between Rusev and Jack Swagger. Nice brawl to close it out too as usual.


Randy Orton demolishes Roman Reigns during his match with Kane. I love this, as it not only gives Reigns vulnerability without looking like a bitch, but shows that Orton is still incredibly dangerous and not to be considered an afterthought, and his motivation: Reigns screwed him out of a WWE Title shot. What a crazy concept, someone cares about the top prize in the business.


Brie Bella uses her leverage to make Stephanie McMahon re-hire her and grant a match between them at SummerSlam 2014. Brie wasn't bad here at all and Steph was great transforming going from self-pity to sociopath.


Raw - August 4, 2014: The Good Shit


An excerpt of Cena vs. Lesnar: Prelude to the Biggest Fight of the Summer airs twice throughout the show. I'll be reviewing the documentary to close out this post, so no comment here.


Beat the Clock Challenge

Dean Ambrose vs. Alberto Del Rio


Very good performance from both men here, and maybe it's just knowing that this was the WWE finale for Del Rio, but he seemed to be the bigger star of this match. He looked to have cut much of his body fat and appeared highly driven to impress someone with his efforts in this one. He was vicious in going after Ambrose's damaged left shoulder, perfect storytelling since Del Rio uses the cross armbreaker for his finish.


Ambrose fought his ass off in this one to combat Del Rio's attack, including boots to the fact, the rebound lariat, and reversing Irish Whips into the barricade. But he took a beating in this one, with the match going more than 15 minutes, not looking likely he'd win this challenge over Seth Rollins to pick the stipulation their highly anticipated showdown at SummerSlam 2014. Ambrose evaded the arm bar at the end, then used his right arm to put Del Rio down with the headlock DDT. I don't see Del Rio ever returning to WWE in light of the circumstances and that he didn't live up to his absurd push, so if this is truly the end of him in WWE, he went out with a performance to be proud of on his final week in the company. ***1/2


Yet another great segment between Lane and Zeb Coulter, the flag match being announced a few days earlier for SummerSlam 2014. Rusev uses his flag pole to get the upper hand on Jack Swagger. Loving this feud when it doesn't blatantly exploit a tragedy.


Later in the show, Ambrose distracted Rollins by vandalizing the MITB briefcase, causing the future WWE Champion to get upset by Heath Slater.


In the close of the show, Brie Bella has good material in her contract signing with Stephanie McMahon, but can't measure up with her delivery and conviction, despite the fact that Steph is clearly just trying to get in her head. With HHH's help (not misogyny), Brie is forced to watch Steph ambush Nikki Bella and drop her with a Pedigree, then Steph uses the position of Brie being cornered to plant her face on the table, then also leaves her with a Pedigree. This got good heat, Steph was great, and the fact that she's a ratings draw does justify this getting quite a bit of spotlight going into one of the top shows of the year.


SmackDown! - August 8, 2014

After some mildly amusing humor, and in light of what happened at Battleground 2014, Dean Ambrose exercises his right to pick the stipulation against Rollins for SummerSlam 2014, and it's a Lumberjack match, which should be fair to both of them due to what they did to the roster as the Shield.


Raw - August 11, 2014: The Good Shit


Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman kick off this stacked show in terms of star power. Heyman cuts yet another great promo, although not quite on par with his very best, but that's like saying Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit can't measure up to Kenta Kobashi vs. Yoshihiro Takayama. He once again did a great job in putting over Lesnar, detailing how we're just days aways from the title and face of the company being conquered, then busts out a clever rhyme that also takes a dig at the Portland crowd. Awesome and worth the little road trip I went on to attend this show.


After defeating Ryback & Curtis Axel in a handicap match, Reigns cuts a pedestrian promo, but the audience eats it up. And that's what ultimately matters.


After defeating Rob Van Dam, Seth Rollins is around the enlarged birthday gifts on the stage for Hulk Hogan's party tonight, and senses something's off. After reaching a peace of mind that he was wrong, Dean Ambrose of course pops out of the biggest box and causes Rollins to run away, a perfect go-home segment for their Lumberjack match just days away.


John Cena cuts another great passionate promo, daring Lesnar to show up again. If Reigns doesn't click on top, there's gonna be a whole new appreciation for Cena's performances on the stick and in the ring in the next couple years.


Hulk Hogan's 61st birthday celebration, attended by numerous legends, is crashed by Lesnar & Heyman. "Party's over, grandpa." Lesnar of course leaves when Cena shows up.


SmackDown! - August 15, 2014

Dean Ambrose vs. Cesaro


Much better than I had remembered live at KeyArena. Cesaro dominated the match, indicating a good sign that although he lacked creative direction, he wasn't gonna get the Zack Ryder treatment and be taken six feet under. He was vicious to Ambrose in this one, giving him a superplex on the floor that made me wince since this is the TV B-show. I did appreciate early on when Ambrose used the momentum for a big boot to attempt a rebound lariat, only for Cesaro to evade it. Makes perfect sense since Cesaro took I don't know how many of those from Nigel McGuinness over the years, so he should be able to spot it when it's coming. Cesaro also pulled out a Burning Hammer, but like Cena's version of the Death Valley Driver, it was a safe one so it managed to be a logical nearfall. Ambrose puts him down with the headlock DDT in the end of course since he's the one with creative direction. ***1/4


And now I do my rare review of a documentary, since it is actually part of the creative buildup, rather than a career video biography.


Cena vs. Lesnar: Prelude to the Biggest Fight of the Summer


We really do need these more often. I know they cost money, but I can't imagine these wouldn't help draw interest and money for the top shows each year as well as the occasional important match on a PPV B-show. I was really glad I rewatched this, as the excerpt made Cena look like a guy who wasn't focused on what really mattered, which was who had the actual advantage, not who does and doesn't love the business. What caused Cena to go that route was that Lesnar said Cena would've been nothing had he never left a decade earlier, so Cena then pointed out that Lesnar left the business because he didn't have the mental wherewithal to keep up with the responsibilities of being a pro wrestler in WWE, saying Lesnar would've burned out eventually anyway, while Cena still would've been the face of the company in the long run.


It was great to see Lesnar's Diverticulitis scare brought up for those who paid zero attention to his MMA career, with him using it as an excuse for Cena upsetting him in his WWE return in that ****1/2 classic war (a match I wrongly took a shit on a couple years back) they had at Extreme Rules 2012. Then again, Lesnar said he knew he'd break the Streak, so who am I to doubt that being fully healthy will give him the advantage over Cena this time, especially after what he did to him not at 100%?


Cena is still respectful of Lesnar's abilities, knowing he's gonna leave with some serious bumps and bruises, but is determined to get the victory yet again, this time with the burden of making sure Lesnar doesn't take the company's top prize hostage on his vacations. Meanwhile, Lesnar & Heyman are absolutely adamant that "this is gonna be ugly," with Lesnar showing no respect for Cena, completely cocky after breaking the Streak. He threatens to leave Cena in a pile of blood, urine, and vomit.


Damn, THIS is how to promote a match and fight.


As bonuses, here are the two awesome commercials advertising this big rematch:





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SummerSlam 2014: The Good Shit


Cesaro vs. Rob Van Dam


Nice little preshow match here with Cesaro of course being the star despite losing. He was vicious to RVD in this one, carrying the former WWE Champion to the lone good match of his 2014 run. There were all kinds of evasions, but most of all Cesaro was very creative with all the European Uppercuts he used to cut RVD off. But since this was his semi-burial period, RVD had to go over. ***1/4


Winner Gets to Raise His Nation's Flag and Play His Nation's Anthem

Rusev vs. Jack Swagger


Excellent performance from Rusev here. He attacks Swagger before the match starts, so Swagger retaliates with an ankle lock. Rusev's selling of the left ankle was a sight to behold. For whatever limitations he may have that viewers outside the business cannot see, many of the supposedly better performers owe it to themselves and their audiences to study Rusev here and learn how to fucking sell an injury. In no way did his selling make him any less of an asshole.


Swagger was great here in going after the left ankle over and over again, while every time Rusev did anything to put pressure on that left ankle, he winced in pain, whether it was a spinning kick or not getting enough leverage to fully apply the Camel Clutch. I especially enjoyed them channeling Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels when Rusev used his left leg for a superkick attempt, only for Swagger to catch it and lock the ankle, right in the same arena as the first Angle vs. HBK classic. But Rusev was too vicious and determined to go down, getting Swagger in the Camel Clutch finally, as the former World Champion passed out.


Post-match, a giant Russian flag is displayed as its anthem plays, and Rusev kicks Zeb Coulter in the face to Lana's approval. Awesome atmosphere for this match. What a crazy concept, build up a heel carefully and he gets over. ***1/2


Lumberjack Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins


Off-the-charts atmosphere here neutered only by an ending that ultimately never led to an emotionally satisfying conclusion to date, but that's to detail later in this project. These two tore the house down with Ambrose refusing to allow the circumstances to keep his hands off of the turncoat Rollins, who was happy to try to escape any way he could. Ambrose even jumped over the lumberjacks to feed his hunger for retribution on Rollins, and they continued brawling deep into the arena seating.


Kane came out to chastise the lumberjacks, so the heels went to ply Ambrose off of Rollins, who then was gonna take the loss, only for the babyface lumberjacks to force him back into the ring. While Rollins was being carried to the ring, Ambrose got on the turnbuckle and launched himself on the pile, drawing what had to objectively be the biggest pop of the night. Inside the ring, Ambrose gets the clear upper hand, showcasing that Rollins doesn't have the fortitude to withstand his anger, only for Kane to get involved. Goldust gets in his face and Kane attacks him, causing a lumberjack brawl in the ring that ends with Ambrose giving Luke Harper a tope suicida. This allows Rollins to use his MITB briefcase to attack Ambrose for the win. Had the finish not been cheap, this is a possible MOTYC. ***3/4


Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon


Quality woman's match here even though it won't get a special rating. There were all kinds of great cut offs in this one, including Steph blocking a tope suicida from Brie. But since Brie is a full-time athlete while Steph had spent the last decade being a mother and executive, it was obvious Steph would ultimately be no match for Brie, no matter how devious she could be or how much of a size advantage she had. With the Lebell Lock applied on Steph (an ugly one at that), Triple H comes out and is followed by Nikki Bella. HHH pulls out the ref as Steph is about to tap, then he eats a strike to the face from Brie. Nikki goes on and teases she'll help Brie double-team Steph, only to go after Brie, allowing Steph to win via Pedigree. Entertaining match overall and no complaints here.


I will NOT be detailing the Brie vs. Nikki feud.


Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton


Good match overall but it was obvious Reigns has some work to do to make sure the first 2/3 of his matches are a bit more engrossing. Nothing during that portion of the match was bad, but it did lack energy and thus so did the crowd. But once it got to the third act, this became some quality and very creative shit.


Having too much respect for Orton, Reigns opted not to go for the pin after a Superman Punch, instead following it up with a spear. However, Orton countered that with a gorgeous bodyslam for a hot nearfall, and Orton's surprised reaction is priceless. Moments later when Reigns went for another Superman Punch, Orton used the momentum to deliver an Ace Crusher for another awesome nearfall. But this was Reigns time, finishing off the multiple time world champion and beginning what looked to be a trail of destruction on his way to the top. ***1/2


WWE Title Match

John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar


Spectacular squashing here that had to have been inspired by Super Bowl XLVIII. And just like the Broncos managed to squeak in one touchdown in that laugher, Cena did find ways to get some offense in and get a nearfall on the superior Lesnar with a Death Valley Driver. Other than that and his attempts to make comebacks though, this was the Brock Lesnar Show. Sixteen German Suplexes, numerous knees to the gut and ribs, and just nonstop shit-talking from Lesnar made this an uncomfortable sight to witness. Some idiots, having zero instinct on what the ultimate purpose of this match was, even get bored because this is such a one-sided ass-kicking. Lesnar has enough and conquers the face of the company for the last decade, winning the WWE Title for the first time in that time span as well. Like Brie vs. Steph, no special rating from me, but a special match with historic value that may have an ever greater legacy depending on what happens when WM31 closes.

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Raw - August 18, 2014: The Good Shit


Dean Ambrose interrupts a backstage interview by Seth Rollins, doing the ice bucket challenge that was such a hot social media bandwagon at the time. Ambrose is great doing quick comedy before going changing his tune in yet another pull-apart brawl between the two. Moments later, Triple H books the rematch tonight with the fans voting for their choice of stipulation.


The Authority debut the new logo WWE Title and pose with new champion Brock Lesnar and his agent Paul Heyman. Great smug shit from the top four heels in the company, putting together all of their issues since they're all willing to work together to hold other talents down and pocket profits. Heyman then cuts another splendid promo detailing Lesnar's dominance over John Cena the night before. There is nobody more engaging as a grating heel, not even the Authority. What helps with him is that his takes are both hurtfully factual, but he still manages to put over Lesnar's opponent, only making Lesnar's accomplishment mean even more.


Hardcore Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins


Excellent brawl and the best match on Raw in many months. They brawled all over ringside and took some hard hits in this one. After brawling inside the ring with numerous weapons as well as Rollins logically sniffing out the rebound lariat (as he should based on his series of matches against Nigel McGuinness), it went to the entrance stage. They teased powerbombs but it becomes the standard snap suplex bump.


Once they got back to ringside, it got even crazier with Ambrose jumping around just like the night before. With Rollins now taken significantly more punishment, he's unable to avoid the second rebound lariat attempt, with Ambrose going head-over-heels to display that he was giving everything he had. Words cannot express just how much the crowd was rallying behind him at this time, and I hope he does find the opportunity to be a true money player in the company. Crowd goes apeshit when Rollins later pulls out a table, but I don't recall that being used.


Kane comes out and pulls Ambrose off after what would surely be a victory with Rollins down via a headlock DDT, and Ambrose refuses to die until he eats a chokeslam on a commentary table. Kane reveals cinder blocks and Rollins drives Ambrose's head through them via an SR curb stomp, writing Ambrose out of the show while he filmed a show. An absolutely fantastic main event that elevated both men's stock as well as their program. ****


Raw - August 25, 2014




Raw - September 8, 2014: The Good Shit


Cage Match

Chris Jericho vs. Bray Wyatt


Easily the hottest match of their trilogy as both men now found their chemistry and the cage certainly didn't get in the way. They took some hard hits in this one, highlighted when Jericho did a crossbody off the cage and hurt his left knee. This played into the finish when he went to escape, as Wyatt worked on the knee to sabotage him and then Wyatt fell out to win. Post-match, Wyatt slams the cage door on Jericho's left knee for good measure. If Wyatt spends the rest of his career only involved in a combination of squashes, smoke-and-mirrors, or just working with top-notch ring generals, he'll have an incredible legacy. ***1/2


The Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton rematch is fine stuff that is hurt by Kane interfering, but the post-match brawl with Rollins being the shining heel and the cage being brought down is good stuff. Good to see Reigns show some more vulnerability, even though he's not as sympathetic as John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, or Daniel Bryan.


NXT Takeover: Fatal 4Way: The Good Shit


KENTA debuts and changes his ring name to Hideo Itami, then is interrupted by the Ascension. He beats the shit out of both of them by surprise since they weren't expecting it.


NXT Title Match

Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd


Phenomenal match here that reminded me of the X-Division's golden age. It really helped that it was a free-for-all, no tagging in and out. It splits into Neville vs. Kidd and Zayn vs. Breeze at first, then goes to the entrance ramp, with Breeze and Kidd giving Neville a double-team suplex that looked painful for all involved. Kidd would take control of the match for the next several minutes, unleashing an arsenal on Zayn in the ring and cutting off Neville on the outside anytime he looked to recover.


Breeze would break up Kidd's momentum and the excellent crowd started getting insane at this point, knowing they were watching something special unfold. Breeze would go for the spinning heel kick on Zayn, but Kidd shoved Zayn out of the way and grabbed Breeze's feet to put him in the Scorpion Deathlock. Neville regains consciousness and grabs Breeze's arm to avoid a tap out, then Zayn used the chance to force Kidd to break the hold.


We then got Neville and Zayn going at it, with Neville busting out an awesome Shooting Star Press and his feet getting a glancing blow on Kidd's head, who was in the same corner kneeling down. Breeze breaks this up for an incredible false finish. Moments later, Zayn takes control, hitting an Exploder Suplex on Kidd and then following up with a tope suicida on Neville that had the champ bouncing back into the front row. Zayn looks to have Kidd down to finally claim the top prize in developmental, but Neville pulls the ref out. Totally legal but Zayn can't believe it, allowing himself to be taken off-guard and Neville knocks him out with a superkick on the outside, then preys on the fallen Kidd to hold onto the title with a spectacular Sky Twister.


As mentioned, a piece of excellence and MOTYC that was a total breath of fresh air, truly nail-biting, and a fantastic alternative ending to what had been a fucking god-awful PPV buildup on the main roster during this month. This holds up even better months later and really reminded me of the jaw-dropping Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles classic at TNA's Unbreakable almost a decade earlier. ****1/2

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Night of Champions 2014: The Good Shit


Tag Titles Match

The Usos vs. Goldust & Stardust


Hell of an opener as usual for the Usos. They found themselves often getting double-teamed, something they hadn't really experienced since working against the Shield. But after the first act of Dust Brothers dominance, it became more back-and-forth, by the third act the crowd going apeshit for simple nearfalls. The Usos, as a receipt for what had happened during the events leading up to this match, even clipped Stardust from behind, and the redneck Nashville crowd booed the Usos for that, I assume since the Rhodes are Southerners too. The finish was red-hot to boot (little did we know it would be topped in the next match) with Stardust countering a high-risk move with a schoolboy and grabbing the tights for leverage to victory. ***1/2


US Title Match

Sheamus vs. Cesaro


The classic these two always had together finally got delivered here, and this was one of my anticipated matches on this project as well. They beat the shit out of each other after starting off with an unfriendly lock-up, and Cesaro was an awesome troll, slapping Sheamus to get in his head. Later on, Cesaro would block the apron chest drubbings and used the position as leverage for a counter-attack.


There were just all kinds of excellent counters here, including Cesaro ducking the lethal Brogue Kick and dropping Sheamus with an Alpamari Waterslide for a hot nearfall. But nothing could compare to the finishing stretch, in which they continued to beat the fuck out of each other. Cesaro got the advantage and forced Sheamus into a corner, just pounding the shit out of the champ. The ref pulled Cesaro back and Sheamus got an adrenaline rush, telling Cesaro to bring more of that shit. As Cesaro charged at him, Sheamus finally landed the Brogue Kick for a fucking awesome finish.


A fantastic match between two great hands that had no qualms getting physical, showcasing great psychology, teasing finishers, displaying all kinds of intelligent, beautiful counters, and then delivering with a finisher that actually ended the match. These two men certainly did their homework and studied the critically acclaimed 2014 G-1 Climax tournament several weeks earlier. I hope this isn't the last we've seen of this rivalry. ****


Roman Reigns is out of action for a few months due to last-minute emergency hernia surgery, so Seth Rollins gloats and takes a forfeit victory, then lays down an open challenge. Dean Ambrose makes his anticipated return and the crowd goes APESHIT as they brawl through the seating, taking some heavy bumps in this one. And unlike the brawl two months earlier on PPV, this one got a bit more time before the Authority stepped in and had Ambrose zip-tied to pry him off of Rollins. Excellent segment.


Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton


Jericho ended his most recent (televised) in-ring run with a bang here after wasting his time in a heatless feud against Bray Wyatt. This was kick-started when Jericho talked shit to Orton during a Hightlight Reel segment, then Orton retaliated by ambushing Jericho later on, who was getting his knee checked out after the cage match against Wyatt.


Like Sheamus vs. Cesaro, this had some great counters in it. After backdropping Jericho on the apron and commentary table to have the early heat, followed by the usual fantastic powerslam false-finish, Orton then countered a Quebrada, with Jericho landing on his feet, and Orton using the positioning to land a back-cracker. However, Jericho would block an Ace Crusher to gain the heat.


Later, Jericho would go shoulder-first into a ring post, allowing Orton to position for a punt. But Jericho countered that with a schoolboy pin false-finish, then did a double leg takedown to lock on the Boston Crab. Jericho dragged Orton after getting near the ropes, but Orton still managed to get out of it. Orton planted Jericho with a draping DDT, leaving Jericho prone. Orton psyched himself for a finish, but Jericho was playing possum, dropping Orton at the last second with the double knee facebreaker for an excellent near-fall.


Jericho goes to the top rope and waits for Orton to get up, only for Orton to deliver a receipt for what just happened, countering whatever Jericho had in mind for an Ace Crusher for the win. Not quite as physical as Sheamus vs. Cesaro, but a very satisfying match, and an important one to show that Jericho, despite lousy programs the past couple years, is still a great in-ring performer when he has a genuine opportunity to showcase it. ***3/4


WWE Title Match

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena


A better match than the month before, but obviously not as memorable. Cena wastes no time going after Lesnar early again, but blocks Lesnar's blows and gives the champ a taste of his own medicine, dropping him with an early Death Valley Driver for a near-fall. Lesnar would still dominate most of the match the rest of the way, even finding ways to drop Cena with more devastating German Suplexes despite Cena's best attempts to hold onto the ropes to prevent them.


As it got to the finish though, Cena evaded yet another F5 (after going through 1 or 2 of them earlier) and tripped Lesnar forward to lock on the STF. Lesnar reached the ropes and Cena pulled him back (I still don't understand why a hold is not FORCED to be broken once the ropes are touched, but whatever) to lock it back on. It appeared Lesnar may tap or pass out, but Rollins attacks Cena with the MITB briefcase for the DQ. He then drops the fallen Lesnar with an SR curb stomp, then announces a cash-in, only for Cena to go after him before the bell rings. Rollins scurries away and Cena eats an F5 from Lesnar in the ring, no title change for the evening. I wonder how Lesnar will feel about the decisions made by Rollins on this evening. ***3/4



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Raw - September 22, 2014

IC Title Match

The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler - ***3/4


SmackDown! - September 26, 2014

Tag Titles Match

Goldust & Stardust vs. The Usos - ***1/2


Raw - October 6, 2014


The Rock interrupts Lana's anti-American promo to a huge pop. donning a nice Mike Tyson jacket to suck up to the Brooklyn crowd. He then lists all the different boroughs he visited in NYC that day, all of it sounding legit with the exception of him claiming to swim to Staten Island. He then laid into Rusev & Lana, but still managed to put them over without being underhanded and emasculating like the Authority tend to be with those who oppose them. Rock got some phenomenal zingers in here that only work for someone as charismatic as him, ending with fisticuffs that had Rusev taking a powder. Fantastic surprise segment from the Rock, on par with the ones involving Mick Foley, La Resistance, Randy Orton, Eugene, and Jonathan Coachman a decade earlier, that gave Rusev vulnerability while managing to raise, rather than hurt, his stock. HUGE breath of fresh air during such a shitty period.


SmackDown! - October 10, 2014




Raw - October 13, 2014

Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


NXT - October 16, 2014


Sami Zayn, kicking off his road to redemption after losing so many big matches, defeats the cocky Tyson Kidd in a *** main event.


SmackDown! - October 17, 2014: The Good Shit

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)

Sheamus & The Usos vs. Goldust, Stardust, & The Miz - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Raw - October 20, 2014


In the main event chaos, the biggest news is that Seth Rollins left fellow Authority golden boy Randy Orton laying with an SR curb-stomp. While certainly not a bad direction to have planned and I'm all for a phenomenal in-ring hand like Rollins getting the spotlight, this only further marginalized Dean Ambrose's chase of Rollins even more after a month of John Cena involvement taking the focus away from him.


SmackDown! - October 24, 2014: The Good Shit


Dean Ambrose cuts an awesome promo to kick off the show, doing everything he can to make up for the creative team's failure to make him the star he should've been ever since returning at Night of Champions 2014. Totally looking forward to the Hell in a Cell match against Rollins now.


IC Title Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro


Cesaro has earned a title shot after beating Ziggler clean earlier in the week. Good match that would be much better if Ziggler could manage to not allow himself to be pigeon-holed as underdog always looking to hit a home run to gain heat. The counters in this one were a sight to behold, including Ziggler doing a sit-up in the Giant Swing like Cena and turning it into a small package near-fall. But nothing shined quites as much as the ending, a spectacular finish in which Ziggler evaded a power-life and European Uppercut, then used the split second with Cesaro's back turned to finish him off with a Zig-Zag. ***1/4


Later in the evening, Cesaro wants one more match, to poetically make it 2/3 falls since they're even this week. I fully approve of this direction.


Seth Rollins finishes the build to Hell in a Cell 2014 with one of the best promos of his career, only hindered by the fake evil laughter that would get him laughed out of any acting studio that has the slightest bit of acceptable standards. His delivery was fluid, not flubbing his shit as he can be prone to do, although this being a taped show likely protected him. But beyond his delivery, his use of all the weapons he brought to ringside really added to his condescending demeanor, pleased that he'll be putting his issue with Ambrose behind him. The show of course ends with Ambrose coming to ringside and they have a brawl, ending with J&J Security getting their asses kicked while Rollins has taken a powder.


Also of note: Bray Wyatt split up the Wyatt Family, setting Luke Harper & Erick Rowan "free." Looking forward to seeing how meaningful that turned out to be for his cult followers.


Hell in a Cell 2014: The Good Shit


IC Title - 2/3 Falls Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro


Fantastic choice for an opener here and I'd love to see these two in a best of seven series at some point. Cesaro dominated much of this match, but Ziggler got the chance to truly showcase his legitimate amateur background as they had some great matwork to kick off the match. Cesaro just truly kicked all kinds of all in this one, yet the results still weren't there for him,thanks largely to Ziggler damaging the left arm and targeting in whenever Cesaro would pause on offense, or just whenever the opportunity would come up.


The finish is just as spectacular as their match a couple days earlier, but that's not what ultimately matters. While I appreciate Ziggler getting a sweep to emphasize and create an expectation of sweeps going forward for drama in the future for 2/3 falls matches, Cesaro could've used a third fall to help his stock and it would've likely made this come incredibly close to being a MOTYC. I certainly would've gone for three falls in light of how this should would close, that's for sure. ***3/4


WWE Title Shot - Hell in a Cell

John Cena vs. Randy Orton - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Hell in a Cell

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins


Fantastic pre-match here on top of the Cell with the crowd totally into it and J&J Security just getting their asses handed to them by Ambrose. He and Rollins would both take bumps off the side of the Cell onto commentary tables, but Ambrose would regain mobility first on his stretcher, not letting Rollins go out on one either. Ambrose forces Rollins inside the Cell after a hot 10 minutes and gets it locked to officially kick off the match.


At this point, I could see the match was largely based off of the masterpiece between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker that cemented this gimmick match. Ambrose played Taker's part, laying into the cowardly Rollins, finally giving him a taste of his own medicine for the events of the past few months. But Kane on the outside would use a fire extinguisher to help Rollins gain the advantage, and from there it was a bit more even, but ultimately Ambrose had the mentality to be simply a better, more determined fighter than Rollins at this time.


After a poetic chairshot to the back of Rollins from Ambrose earlier, Ambrose went for a poetic finish, about to give his former friend an SR curb stomp onto cinder blocks in the ring. As he stepped back against the ropes for momentum, the lights went out and someone started blabbering in tongues, completely with a hologram in the middle of the ring. Then Bray Wyatt is seen in the ring and attacks Ambrose, giving Rollins a shady win just like HBK 17 years earlier. After his theme briefly plays in victory, the focus goes back to Wyatt and Ambrose, ending with a Sister Abigail.


This was a fun, old-school brawl to close out the show, only to get shoe-horned with a finish that completely sucked the air out of the crowd that will ultimately not be a historic necessary evil like the Kane debut 17 years earlier. Rollins again leaves without an A+ singles victory, Ambrose doesn't get his vengeance for what happened, and their program is shoved to the wayside for the next Wyatt experiment. While Wyatt vs. Ambrose is psychologically interesting, there was no reason not to allow Rollins or Ambrose to be left alone to finish off their feud here, UNLESS of course the plan is for them to eventually boomerang back to each other at some point, maybe for a certain triple threat match in front of a record attendance for the top prize in the business. Wyatt certainly didn't need to taint this match in order to gain heat, as Ambrose would've been white-hot leaving this one with a victory and could've passed on the rub to Wyatt in the end. But I'll detail that as this project continues. ***

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Raw - September 22, 2014

IC Title Match

The Miz vs. Dolph Ziggler - ***3/4


SmackDown! - September 26, 2014

Tag Titles Match

Goldust & Stardust vs. The Usos - ***1/2


Raw - October 6, 2014


The Rock interrupts Lana's anti-American promo to a huge pop. donning a nice Mike Tyson jacket to suck up to the Brooklyn crowd. He then lists all the different boroughs he visited in NYC that day, all of it sounding legit with the exception of him claiming to swim to Staten Island. He then laid into Rusev & Lana, but still managed to put them over without being underhanded and emasculating like the Authority tend to be with those who oppose them. Rock got some phenomenal zingers in here that only work for someone as charismatic as him, ending with fisticuffs that had Rusev taking a powder. Fantastic surprise segment from the Rock, on par with the ones involving Mick Foley, La Resistance, Randy Orton, Eugene, and Jonathan Coachman a decade earlier, that gave Rusev vulnerability while managing to raise, rather than hurt, his stock. HUGE breath of fresh air during such a shitty period.


SmackDown! - October 10, 2014




Raw - October 13, 2014

Dolph Ziggler vs. Randy Orton - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


NXT - October 16, 2014


Sami Zayn, kicking off his road to redemption after losing so many big matches, defeats the cocky Tyson Kidd in a *** main event.


SmackDown! - October 17, 2014: The Good Shit

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)

Sheamus & The Usos vs. Goldust, Stardust, & The Miz - *** (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Raw - October 20, 2014


In the main event chaos, the biggest news is that Seth Rollins left fellow Authority golden boy Randy Orton laying with an SR curb-stomp. While certainly not a bad direction to have planned and I'm all for a phenomenal in-ring hand like Rollins getting the spotlight, this only further marginalized Dean Ambrose's chase of Rollins even more after a month of John Cena involvement taking the focus away from him.


SmackDown! - October 24, 2014: The Good Shit


Dean Ambrose cuts an awesome promo to kick off the show, doing everything he can to make up for the creative team's failure to make him the star he should've been ever since returning at Night of Champions 2014. Totally looking forward to the Hell in a Cell match against Rollins now.


IC Title Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro


Cesaro has earned a title shot after beating Ziggler clean earlier in the week. Good match that would be much better if Ziggler could manage to not allow himself to be pigeon-holed as underdog always looking to hit a home run to gain heat. The counters in this one were a sight to behold, including Ziggler doing a sit-up in the Giant Swing like Cena and turning it into a small package near-fall. But nothing shined quites as much as the ending, a spectacular finish in which Ziggler evaded a power-life and European Uppercut, then used the split second with Cesaro's back turned to finish him off with a Zig-Zag. ***1/4


Later in the evening, Cesaro wants one more match, to poetically make it 2/3 falls since they're even this week. I fully approve of this direction.


Seth Rollins finishes the build to Hell in a Cell 2014 with one of the best promos of his career, only hindered by the fake evil laughter that would get him laughed out of any acting studio that has the slightest bit of acceptable standards. His delivery was fluid, not flubbing his shit as he can be prone to do, although this being a taped show likely protected him. But beyond his delivery, his use of all the weapons he brought to ringside really added to his condescending demeanor, pleased that he'll be putting his issue with Ambrose behind him. The show of course ends with Ambrose coming to ringside and they have a brawl, ending with J&J Security getting their asses kicked while Rollins has taken a powder.


Also of note: Bray Wyatt split up the Wyatt Family, setting Luke Harper & Erick Rowan "free." Looking forward to seeing how meaningful that turned out to be for his cult followers.


Hell in a Cell 2014: The Good Shit


IC Title - 2/3 Falls Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro


Fantastic choice for an opener here and I'd love to see these two in a best of seven series at some point. Cesaro dominated much of this match, but Ziggler got the chance to truly showcase his legitimate amateur background as they had some great matwork to kick off the match. Cesaro just truly kicked all kinds of all in this one, yet the results still weren't there for him,thanks largely to Ziggler damaging the left arm and targeting in whenever Cesaro would pause on offense, or just whenever the opportunity would come up.


The finish is just as spectacular as their match a couple days earlier, but that's not what ultimately matters. While I appreciate Ziggler getting a sweep to emphasize and create an expectation of sweeps going forward for drama in the future for 2/3 falls matches, Cesaro could've used a third fall to help his stock and it would've likely made this come incredibly close to being a MOTYC. I certainly would've gone for three falls in light of how this should would close, that's for sure. ***3/4


WWE Title Shot - Hell in a Cell

John Cena vs. Randy Orton - ***1/4 (no rewatch - original rating from last year)


Hell in a Cell

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins


Fantastic pre-match here on top of the Cell with the crowd totally into it and J&J Security just getting their asses handed to them by Ambrose. He and Rollins would both take bumps off the side of the Cell onto commentary tables, but Ambrose would regain mobility first on his stretcher, not letting Rollins go out on one either. Ambrose forces Rollins inside the Cell after a hot 10 minutes and gets it locked to officially kick off the match.


At this point, I could see the match was largely based off of the masterpiece between Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker that cemented this gimmick match. Ambrose played Taker's part, laying into the cowardly Rollins, finally giving him a taste of his own medicine for the events of the past few months. But Kane on the outside would use a fire extinguisher to help Rollins gain the advantage, and from there it was a bit more even, but ultimately Ambrose had the mentality to be simply a better, more determined fighter than Rollins at this time.


After a poetic chairshot to the back of Rollins from Ambrose earlier, Ambrose went for a poetic finish, about to give his former friend an SR curb stomp onto cinder blocks in the ring. As he stepped back against the ropes for momentum, the lights went out and someone started blabbering in tongues, completely with a hologram in the middle of the ring. Then Bray Wyatt is seen in the ring and attacks Ambrose, giving Rollins a shady win just like HBK 17 years earlier. After his theme briefly plays in victory, the focus goes back to Wyatt and Ambrose, ending with a Sister Abigail.


This was a fun, old-school brawl to close out the show, only to get shoe-horned with a finish that completely sucked the air out of the crowd that will ultimately not be a historic necessary evil like the Kane debut 17 years earlier. Rollins again leaves without an A+ singles victory, Ambrose doesn't get his vengeance for what happened, and their program is shoved to the wayside for the next Wyatt experiment. While Wyatt vs. Ambrose is psychologically interesting, there was no reason not to allow Rollins or Ambrose to be left alone to finish off their feud here, UNLESS of course the plan is for them to eventually boomerang back to each other at some point, maybe for a certain triple threat match in front of a record attendance for the top prize in the business. Wyatt certainly didn't need to taint this match in order to gain heat, as Ambrose would've been white-hot leaving this one with a victory and could've passed on the rub to Wyatt in the end. But I'll detail that as this project continues. ***

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Raw - October 27, 2014

Randy Orton gets fed up and leaves Seth Rollins laying with an Ace Crusher to the crowd's approval.


Raw - November 3, 2014: The Good Shit


Vince McMahon announces a Team Authority vs. Team Cena Survivor Series Style Elimination main event for Survivor Series 2014, putting Triple H & Stephanie McMahon's power on the line.


Randy Orton DEMANDS a match against Seth Rollins, which the Authority begrudgingly do for tonight, but with the promise that both will move on to focus on the bigger picture afterwards. One of Orton's finest acting performances here, to be quite blunt, and the Authority are perfect as well with HHH still seeing Orton's value, while Steph is willing to cut him loose.


We have another match announced for tonight for the Network-exclusive post-show, as Rusev is granted a US Title shot against Sheamus as a Team Authority recruiting effort. Awesome.


Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton


Off-the-charts heat from the Buffalo crowd in this one and for once the Authority's ringside presence added to the match rather than water it down. Steph was fantastic as just being a complete cunt with her face, while HHH did a phenomenal job of selling the stress of this match. Orton went right after Rollins and they brawled around ringside, and I can't say how different this match from so many others. Although we need, in fact are ENTITLED, to Ambrose eventually boomeranging back to Rollins for an emotionally satisfying conclusion, Ambrose never was to the level of hatred towards his former friend like Orton was here.


Rollins lived up to the Authority hype in this one, doing a great job of trolling Orton when he got the heat, bringing out the trash-talk that makes him WWE's version of Richard Sherman. I can't say enough about the finish though. Orton went for the Ace Crusher, only for Rollins to block it and backslide him for three, proving the Authority right for picking him, bringing this hot piece of business to an abrupt end, and giving Rollins his first clean victory over an A-lister since betraying the Shield.


Orton shakes hands with the entire Authority, but hits Rollins, who is willing to put this behind them for the bigger picture, with an Ace Crusher. HHH tries to calm him down, only to get attacked by Orton. Steph orders Orton to be finished which HHH hates having to do; the Viper eats an SR curb stomp on the commentary table, then has his night at ringside end with another one on steel steps, in a fucking white-hot segment, the most genuinely engaging one for the Authority since their program against Daniel Bryan. This was one fucking awesome firecracker and I'm expecting a classic at Levi's Stadium regardless of the lackluster creative followup to this.


As great as Orton is in this angle, I have zero sympathy for him. He should've never trusted HHH after what happened between them a decade earlier, he participated in malicious attacks repeatedly against D-Bry, Dolph Ziggler, and Mr. Cena, and then couldn't be the better man when he lost clean to the better fucking wrestler on this night. ****


US Title Match

Sheamus vs. Rusev


Really good match to put over Sheamus as a fighter until the very end, while showcasing what a legitimate bad-ass Rusev had become, a rare bright spot during such a shitty creative period in the company. Sheamus gave absolutely everything he had, but Rusev had done his proper scouting, using Cesaro's counter for the chest drubbings. They got physical with each other, but Rusev was able to manhandle Sheamus on the outside, and he just couldn't put down the red-hot bad-ass. But even in defeat, as Rusev had the Camel Clutch locked on, no chance of breaking it, Sheamus wouldn't tap out, refusing to die. Fucking love this finish as much as Rollins vs. Orton. ***1/2


NXT - November 6, 2014


Sami Zayn continues his road to redemption by finally defeating Tyler Breeze in a ***1/4 opener. He gets another title shot next week.


Prince Devitt makes his anticipated debut as Finn Balor to help Hideo Itami out against the Ascension.


NXT - November 13, 2014

NXT Title Match

Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn


Another quality matchup here to bring Zayn's road to redemption to an apparent screeching halt. With victory in his grasp since he ducked a Sky Twister, costing Neville to have a bum knee, Zayn instead became sympathetic, leaving him prone to a rollup pin. Not a heel move by Neville at all actually, as his knee really was sore in the story post-match. ***1/2


SmackDown! - November 14, 2014

IC Title - Elimination Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd


Excellent spot and counter-fest here. Cesaro focused on Ziggler early, but Kidd, who had developed into a cocky cunt, wouldn't tolerate that. There was one somewhat cringe-worthy move, that being the powerbomb/vertical suplex combo, but nothing to ruin this match. I loved Cesaro being outside the ring selling the Zig Zag after being eliminated, and of course Kidd shoving Ziggler out of the way for the bragging rights. Even though it ultimately wouldn't matter who gets the fall until the very end in an elimination match, it adds to Kidd's egotism and insecurities, staying true to his character. The best part of the Cesaro portion had to be him grabbing Kidd's legs during a Scorpion Deathlock attempt, taking Kidd down and giving him the giant swing.


Ziggler of course had taken quite the beating as he always does, so Kidd went right after him after Cesaro was ousted. Kidd put forth a great performance, coming close to the biggest victory of his career against a former World Champion and gaining his first singles title in WWE. But it was not to be, as Ziggler, much my beloved Seahawks in recent years, scratched a win at the end despite the opponent putting forth a superior performance the majority of the way. ***3/4


NXT - November 20, 2014: The Good Shit


Sami Zayn will challenge Adrian Neville one last time for the NXT Title at Takeover: R Evolution, and vows to quit if he can't finally pull it off.



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Survivor Series 2014: The Good Shit


Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt


Fun match as the chemistry issues between these two have nothing to do with in-ring action. They both got plenty of shit in, although they got creative with it. Ambrose did a modified rebound lariat off the apron on the outside early, then a regular one was countered with a Uranage Slam (wouldn't mind seeing Wyatt against a certain Samoan that's also known for using that move.) Ambrose would later hit as a last-ditch effort when going down, but ate a nasty lariat moments later to cut him off. Ambrose was great in selling his back after taking a Uranage Slam on steel steps, and then got himself disqualified when accepted Wyatt's offer to use a steel chair. Wyatt was buried under a table and piles of chairs as Ambrose stood on a ladder in the ring, obviously setting up the rematch for next month. ***1/4


The Authority's Power on the Line - Survivor Series Style Elimination Match

Team Authority of Seth Rollins, Rusev, Luke Harper, Kane, & Mark Henry vs. Team Cena of John Cena, Big Show, Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, & Erick Rowan


Fun main event with all kinds of creative ups and downs that keep this from being a classic. Henry going down immediately to Show's knockout punch was a great surprise to throw off the Authority. The match did become a chaotic mess both good and bad, and I appreciated that Rollins channeled his days in the Shield to get in sudden attacks to help his teammates out. Nothing wrong with that.


I also appreciated Rusev being protected, as he was eliminated by countout when Ziggler evaded a splash through a commentary table. I certainly didn't care for the creative "right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing" dynamic when it comes to Rusev, as he had ZERO interaction with Cena. Not one taunt. Not one verbal exchange. Not one finger they laid on each other. Absolutely nothing to build up to their obvious, inevitable match for WrestleMania 31.


Now as great as Sting's debut was, even though it could potentially lead to the biggest gate ever in pro wrestling history at a certain stadium in Texas against the correct opponent (and there's only one for that), this debut had its flaws at the end. I appreciate Ziggler getting one of the three biggest wins of his career here, but he and Rollins laid there at the end while Sting and HHH had their staredown to set up their obvious dream match. I appreciate a vigilante character, but logically speaking, Ziggler and Rollins should've regained consciousness as the Sting vs. HHH segment went on for a few minutes, then they could've had a super-hot ending. Cena coming out to embrace Ziggler was a nice touch too.


Sting's historic debut though is creatively off-set by a god-awful awful direction change I had predicted many months in advance, but wasn't expecting to take place here. In a moment nobody wanted to see, but I had the foresight to know would eventually come, Show turned heel again and knocked out Cena, shaking HHH's hand before leaving. I knew this would happen, the giant muscle for the Authority to be fed to the company's next planned golden boy. And in light of how tedious that feud has turned out to be, and the fact that it hasn't exactly been best for business, that does bring this match down at this time.


This was a good, fun match, but for all the great shit in it, that was offset by logic holes and incredibly questionable booking that failed to kick-start an obvious program, while leading to one that I could see coming a million miles away because of Vince McMahon's lazy creative formula. ***1/2

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NXT - November 27, 2014




NXT - December 4, 2014




Sami Zayn refuses to shake NXT Champion Adrian Neville's hand, instead slapping the chant and vows with 100% conviction that he will finally reach the mountaintop next week. Fantastic segment that went no more than 10 minutes, as doing so like the main roster does would've been completely unnecessary.


NXT Takeover: R Evolution: The Good Shit


The WWE Debut of Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens vs. CJ Parker


Great debut here for Owens as he was booked to be a star. Parker still got some shit in that busted the nose of Owens but this was ultimately a mismatch, as Owens got a good chunk of his trademark shit in to finish off Parker to the crowd's highly enthusiastic approval. Simple. Effective.


The Ascension vs. Finn Balor & Hideo Itami


Balor debuts the OTT style entrance that's gonna make him WWE Champion one day. Basic but very effective tag match, as the former puro superstar tandem go right at the Ascension to kick it off. It breaks down to the Ascension cutting the ring in half on Itami. He goes for a hot tag only for Connor to trip Balor off the apron. Minutes later, hot tag made. Crowd goes apeshit. Puro stars get their shit in with Balor winning the match after a double foot stomp. Like the opener, a simple, effective formula. ***


Women's Title Match

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks


Another quality showing for this division. Banks, who up to this point had been playing the coward, caught Charlotte off-guard by changing up the psychology and going toe-to-toe, doing her best effort to challenge Brock Lesnar and Seth Rollins for the distinct honor of being WWE's best troll. In particular, she used the head-scissors and then turned Charlotte over to deliver a brief Skull Fuck. But Charlotte held her own, using her athleticism and work ethic to escape much of the offense of Banks. Despite a star-making performance from Banks though, she just couldn't measure up to Charlotte quite yet, going down to the reverse Buff Blockbuster. ***1/2


NXT Title vs. Career

Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn


I've often spoken of rare moments that justify the amount of bullshit that wrestling fans endure thanks to stubborn and utterly clueless carny promoters. Marginalization of potential mega-stars, endless go-nowhere talking segments that are stretched too thin, angles that lack a truly climatic, emotionally satisfying conclusion, and devaluing the importance of titles as well. Add in that this came shortly after CM Punk finally broke his silence on his abrupt departure, as well as considering the other seedy underbelly portions of the business, and this particular match couldn't have taken place at a better time to remind us all why we keep enduring.


Speaking of Punk, the atmosphere in this at the beginning is somewhat similar to his work of art against Austin Aries at ROH's Death Before Dishonor III, with Zayn playing Punk's role, the crowd completely behind him as the sentimental challenger, while the champion is playing the default heel simply based on the circumstances. In a career that is drenched with MOTYC performances, Zayn gave perhaps his greatest babyface performance to date in this instant classic. He was on fire in this one busting out his flippy shit, and more than held his own with the outstanding technical wrestling sequence at the beginning of the match. A standout spot early to display Zayn's focus was when he countered a head-scissors attempt with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then hit a followup Asai Moonsault on the outside.


Neville took his time getting back in, clearly flustered just like Aries in the match I mentioned. Zayn used this to his advantage, but that would get cut off by the champ to take control. Zayn would find himself in a headlock and chinlock to wear him down, and the crowd broke out "Ole Ole Ole" chants to give him fire to make a combeback, but Neville would cut him off after a brief hope spot. Neville paintbrushes Zayn's head with his foot, then follows that up with some Kawada kicks. Zayn then makes a comeback with a clothesline and the crowd is happy. But Neville then cuts that off with a head-scissors, only for Zayn to toss him over the rope and then hit a running front flip over the top rope to the outside.


Zayn counters a reverse hurricanana attempt with a Blue Thunder Powerbomb for a fantastic nearfall. Neville hits a chinbreaker when picked back up, then does a running uppercut. Neville runs to the corner and knows Zayn is coming with the Yakuza kick, turning around and planting a big boot on Zayn's face, then throwing the challenger to the ropes to hit a German Suplex for another awesome nearfall. Zayn dead-weights a powerbomb attempt, but a corner move is evaded and Neville hits a sitdown powerbomb for another quality nearfall.


Neville is becoming frustrated and they exchange forearms. Neville hits a spinning kick to gain the advantage, only to get clotheslined. Zayn goes for another Yakuza kick but that's evaded and he's kicked in the head for his trouble, collapsing on the mat. Neville goes for the Sky Twister, only to have Zayn's knees planted in his gut. We have another fantastic false finish as Zayn immediately locks on the Koji Clutch, but Neville's foot reaches the ropes. Neville counters an Exploder Suplex attempt with a rollup for another nearfall, and when Zayn kicks out, the ref is accidentally struck by Neville's body and it's a genuine accident.


Zayn checks on the referee's condition and gets a superkick and reverse hurricanrana by Neville for yet another excellent nearfall, Zayn almost losing the biggest match of his career thanks to his compassion. Crowd is going apeshit for Zayn at this point, knowing they're watching something magical and a special moment may finally arrive. Both men are fatigued and exchange blows. Zayn ducks a roundhouse kick and hits multiple German Suplexes, followed with a half-nelson suplex, but Neville takes a powder when Zayn goes for the Yakuza kick. Zayn pulls out the through-the-ropes tornado DDT on the outside to catch Neville off-guard, which the champ should've known was coming.


Back in the ring, Zayn hits the Yakuza kick but Neville puts the ref in harm's way, further reminding me of Aries in the match I mentioned as well as Samoa Joe's feet on the ropes in the trilogy finale against Punk; a champion that has become desperate to hold on to what he cherishes most. Neville brings the belt in the ring and gets another Yakuza kick; Zayn teases using the belt but decides to uphold his integrity to the crowd's approval. Neville goes for a rollup but Zayn kicks out, plants the Exploder Suplex, and with pure focus in his eyes, finally hits the Yakuza kick and capturing the NXT Title, capping off his self-proclaimed road to redemption!


The Orlando crowd is fucking APESHIT like they just watched their hometown Magic win their elusive first NBA Finals Championship. Their mood is something to behold, pure bliss, joy, and celebration for one of the most lovable babyfaces in the history of the business reaching the developmental mountaintop. Much of the roster comes to congratulate Zayn, specifically Owens who has tears in his eyes. Neville refuses a handshake, instead opting for an a hug based on friendship, respect, and love for the game.


As Zayn is leaving ringside, Owens comes back out to help his fatigued colleague, the man he is most connected to in his career, walk back up the ramp, both men about to celebrate how far they've come, one reaching the mountaintop, the other having debuted tonight in the big leagues. But in a moment that Zayn should've seen coming based on the events of ROH's Final Battle 2009, Owens ambushes the champ and leaves him laying with an apron powerbomb, making it clear what his goal is in NXT.


This entire segment is one of the defining reasons as to why I will always be a fan of pro wrestling. It was rewarding with an emotionally satisfying conclusion, a twist-and-turn nailbiter that had many wondering if Zayn would end up failing after all to achieve his goal. And then we get a program that is both fresh and familiar, one that has worked in every single federation that has showcased it. This isn't my favorite match by any means, but it's one I will never get tired of watching. ****1/2

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TLC 2014: The Good Shit


IC Title - Ladder Match

Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler


Quite the spectacle and Ziggler's hometown crowd of Cleveland certainly helped. Although the followup weeks later brought the title back to irrelevance, the commentary in this provided a possible hint of resurgence for it, comparing this to past classic ladder matches for the belts, even if this overall didn't quite live up to those works of art. There was all kinds of dangerous shit in this one, including Ziggler not putting his hands up to protect himself when a ladder was tossed onto his upper region. Harper also took a bump on a platformed ladder, but no spot stood out more than him challenging Seth Rollins for dumbest bump of the year: Ziggler channeled Chris Jericho at Royal Rumble 2001, having a weapon ready for Luke Harper's tope suicida attempt, but rather than a chair going for the head, it was a ladder, with Harper charging at it like a battering ram, then landing awkwardly on it like he may have broken his left arm. Good match and the right finish at least though for the Cleveland fans, and this certainly wasn't boring. ***1/2


Tables Match

Seth Rollins vs. John Cena


Solid matchup between these two. J&J Security of course got involved, which was tolerable given the rules of the match. But after a good effort from these two, it just became a clusterfuck at the end with Big Show coming out, followed by the returning Roman Reigns to help Cena win. I'm really looking forward to Cena and Rollins at some point getting an interference-free classic like they had in late 2013.


Hardcore Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt


Another match where the guys worked hard. Ambrose pulled out the modified rebound lariat on the outside, and they had a nice game of chicken when Ambrose had kendo sticks, Wyatt kneeling down to dare him to attack. Ambrose made Wyatt wait, teasing that he'd allow Wyatt to grab a chair, only to attack him anyway. Great psychology there.


Ambrose would take TWO falling elbow drops from a ladder on the outside, then they'd get back in the ring. A Sister Abigail would be a nice near-fall, as would the headlock driver. But for all the hard work in this match, it had to end with one of the most insulting, crowd-deflating finishes I've ever seen, on par with AJ Styles vs. Frankie Kazarian on PWG's second anniversary weekend and Sting vs. Abyss at TNA's Genesis 2006. Ambrose grabbed a TV monitor from underneath the ring and was gonna smack Wyatt with it, but the cord was too short and sparks flew, stunning him and allowing Wyatt to put him down for the count. This made Ambrose look like a clueless jabroni, and did nothing to enhance Wyatt as a bad-ass to groom him for Undertaker. The company is lucky that Ambrose has enough charisma and work ethic to overcome this inexcusable booking.

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Raw - December 15, 2014: The Good Shit


The advertised Paul Heyman vs. Chris Jericho match doesn't take place. Instead, we get the first-ever encounter between Jericho and Brock Lesnar. Lesnar treates Jericho as a complete, utter jobber, selling nothing and dropping him with an F5. Had WWE and Jericho been more meticulous with his choice and structuring of programs since both men returned in 2014, this could've likely been a nice one-time program for the title at Royal Rumble 2015 rather than scheduling yet another Lesnar match against John Cena.


Cage Match

Seth Rollins vs. John Cena - ***


Fun match that takes some sacrifice at the end, as Lesnar lays out Cena per Heyman's request to give Rollins the cheap win despite what happened at Night of Champions 2014.


SmackDown! - December 16, 2014

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins - ***1/4


NXT - December 18, 2014

Kevin Owens vs. Adrian Neville - ***1/4


Raw - December 22, 2014: The Good Shit


Seth Rollins vs. John Cena - ***1/4


IC Title Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper - ***1/2


Hardcore Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt - ***1/2


NXT - December 25, 2014

Women's Title Match

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks - ***1/4


Raw - December 29, 2014: The Good Shit


Paul Heyman cuts another awesome promo to put over Brock Lesnar.


Daniel Bryan teases retirement in one of the most genuinely engaging promos of the year, then announces he'll in fact return to action next month with the ultimate goal of reclaiming the WWE Title at WrestleMania 31.


In a segment that went too long to break down, the final moment of the year is The Authority's return. Whatever, them being gone didn't make the product any better aesthetically.


NXT - January 1, 2015: The Good Shit


NXT Champion Sami Zayn lets us know via cell phone video he'll return next week to comment on what happened at Takeover: R Evolution.


The Ascension vs. Finn Balor & Hideo Itami - ***


Raw - January 5, 2015: The Good Shit


For spearheading the successful attempt to reinstate The Authority, Seth Rollins is inserted in the WWE Title Match between Brock Lesnar and John Cena at Royal Rumble 2015. Lesnar vs. Rollins one-on-one has a chance to be an all-time classic in company history, but I'll take it.


Ambulance Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt


Easily my favorite of their series dating back to June 2014. They mixed in the usual storytelling and chaotic brawling with some psychology this time, as Wyatt slammed one of the ambulance doors on Ambrose's left knee, then targeted it. Ambrose did a great job of selling this joint throughout the entire match, putting forth an incredible effort to slay the monster that only the face of the WWE had been able to put down to date. But a headlock DDT was evaded at the end, as Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail on the ambulance door, going over to groom him for his next opponent. I sure hope there's a payoff in mind for all the times Ambrose is losing and/or getting fucked though. ***3/4


NXT - January 7, 2015


Sami Zayn cuts a brief, passionate promo about how much the NXT Title means to him and how badly he desires to collide with Kevin Owens. This promo is just further evidence as to why Zayn will go on to at least briefly break the main roster's glass ceiling.


Raw - January 12, 2015


Daniel Bryan, in the city of his greatest accomplishment, looks to be as good as new when Stephanie McMahon brings Kane out to attack him, as D-Bry pulls out all the dangerous shit he doing prior to his abrupt time off.


Paul Heyman cuts another excellent promo to put over Brock Lesnar, in the city that saw the Streak come to a screeching halt.


The contract signing main event between Lesnar, John Cena, and Seth Rollins is fabulous. Heyman cuts another blistering promo about the ramifications of the match, and Lesnar is great too, pointing out to Rollins that he had conquered Cena as well as Triple H. Rollins talks about everything he had done to date, smashing every goal he had set, and then laughs at Cena when Cena says they're both coming after him. Rollins attempts to sneak-attack Cena. Lesnar gives them both German Suplexes, but Rollins lands on his front side rather than neck and shoulders. Cena gives Lesnar a Death Valley Driver through a table, but then eats an SR curb stomp. Lesnar gets up only to also eat an SR curb stomp.


NXT - January 14, 2015: The Good Shit


Finn Balor vs. Tyson Kidd - ***1/4


Kevin Owens walks out on Renee Young interviewing when she says he stole Sami Zayn's sentimental moment at Takeover: R Evolution.


NXT Title Match

Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville


Great adjustments in this one, highlighted near the end when Neville gives a superkick to Zayn during a through-the-ropes tornado DDT attempt. But for obvious reasons, even though this match was totally satisfying, it wasn't gonna capture the emotions of their title change match. Zayn puts Neville down again, only to get attacked by Kevin Owens again. ***3/4


SmackDown! - January 15, 2015: The Good Shit


Paul Heyman storms to the ring pissed about what happened earlier in the week. He cuts an another awesome promo that is interrupted by Seth Rollins. The former ROH Champion cuts one of the finest promos of his career with complete conviction, cornering Heyman and getting nose-to-nose with the former ECW owner, threatening to give him an SR curb stomp, as doing so would make Brock Lesnar nothing more than a dumbed-down mass of muscle. Heyman talks his way out of it by bringing up that once the match is over, Lesnar can perhaps help Rollins more. Excellent segment.


Kane, Big Show, & Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, & Daniel Bryan


This match is booked when D-Bry beat Kane in the opener. Imagine a trios match between this six men a year and a half earlier, it'd have been far more interesting despite this one being really good: The Shield vs. Big Show & Team Hell No. Ambrose plays the Ricky Morton role in this one, with Reigns and D-Bry pulling out their comeback shit at times to really get the crowd into it. It was refreshing to see Ambrose and Rollins going at it again, obviously not the end of their unfinished story. In the end, D-Bry puts Kane down with the Busaiku knee to cap off this highly entertaining match that did a great job in protecting the weaknesses of Kane and Reigns. ***1/2


Raw - January 19, 2015: The Good Shit


The opening segment is fantastic at first, as Brock Lesnar cuts Paul Heyman off and wants to brawl with Seth Rollins. Triple H comes out instead and Lesnar threatens him to a huge pop. (Obviously, the people of Dallas are DYING for Lesnar vs. HHH IV at WM32 then.) After this part, the promo becomes neverending, instead taking up another 10-15 minutes to set up a pedestrian Raw main event, rather than building interest for the far more important title match.


Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan - ***1/2


John Cena is able to win the jobs back for Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, and Erick Rowan (fired two weeks earlier) in what has to be the most expensive go-home segment EVER for Raw. This segment included appearances by John Cena, Seth Rollins, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Kane, Big Show, Sting, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman. The finish comes when Sting appears on the Titan Tron and walks to the entrance to distract the Authority, so Cena does a roll up for the win. Sting departs as the Authority are incensed, only for Lesnar to show up and leave Kane & Show laying each with an F5 to the crowd's uproarious approval. Money well spent in this highly entertaining segment, unlike what was to come in six days.


NXT - January 21, 2015: The Good Shit


A tournament for an NXT Title shot is announced, with Finn Balor taking care of Curtis Axel.


GM William Regal agrees to grant Sami Zayn a NON-title match against Kevin Owens at Takeover: Rival.


Also announced by Regal for Takeover: Rival, due to Becky Lynch interfering during tonight's Women's Title Match between Charlotte and Sasha Banks, as well as Bayley attacking all three in the post-match, is a fourway between all of them for that title.


Kevin Owens will comment on his actions next week during the contract signing with Sami Zayn.


NXT Title Shot Tournament Quarterfinal

Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami - ***


SmackDown! - January 22, 2015: The Good Shit


Royal Rumble Match Qualifier For Dolph Ziggler

Wade Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler - ***


Royal Rumble Match Qualifier for Daniel Bryan - Hardcore Match

Kane vs. Daniel Bryan - ***1/2

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Raw - December 15, 2014: The Good Shit


The advertised Paul Heyman vs. Chris Jericho match doesn't take place. Instead, we get the first-ever encounter between Jericho and Brock Lesnar. Lesnar treates Jericho as a complete, utter jobber, selling nothing and dropping him with an F5. Had WWE and Jericho been more meticulous with his choice and structuring of programs since both men returned in 2014, this could've likely been a nice one-time program for the title at Royal Rumble 2015 rather than scheduling yet another Lesnar match against John Cena.


Cage Match

Seth Rollins vs. John Cena - ***


Fun match that takes some sacrifice at the end, as Lesnar lays out Cena per Heyman's request to give Rollins the cheap win despite what happened at Night of Champions 2014.


SmackDown! - December 16, 2014

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins - ***1/4


NXT - December 18, 2014

Kevin Owens vs. Adrian Neville - ***1/4


Raw - December 22, 2014: The Good Shit


Seth Rollins vs. John Cena - ***1/4


IC Title Match

Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper - ***1/2


Hardcore Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt - ***1/2


NXT - December 25, 2014

Women's Title Match

Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks - ***1/4


Raw - December 29, 2014: The Good Shit


Paul Heyman cuts another awesome promo to put over Brock Lesnar.


Daniel Bryan teases retirement in one of the most genuinely engaging promos of the year, then announces he'll in fact return to action next month with the ultimate goal of reclaiming the WWE Title at WrestleMania 31.


In a segment that went too long to break down, the final moment of the year is The Authority's return. Whatever, them being gone didn't make the product any better aesthetically.


NXT - January 1, 2015: The Good Shit


NXT Champion Sami Zayn lets us know via cell phone video he'll return next week to comment on what happened at Takeover: R Evolution.


The Ascension vs. Finn Balor & Hideo Itami - ***


Raw - January 5, 2015: The Good Shit


For spearheading the successful attempt to reinstate The Authority, Seth Rollins is inserted in the WWE Title Match between Brock Lesnar and John Cena at Royal Rumble 2015. Lesnar vs. Rollins one-on-one has a chance to be an all-time classic in company history, but I'll take it.


Ambulance Match

Dean Ambrose vs. Bray Wyatt


Easily my favorite of their series dating back to June 2014. They mixed in the usual storytelling and chaotic brawling with some psychology this time, as Wyatt slammed one of the ambulance doors on Ambrose's left knee, then targeted it. Ambrose did a great job of selling this joint throughout the entire match, putting forth an incredible effort to slay the monster that only the face of the WWE had been able to put down to date. But a headlock DDT was evaded at the end, as Wyatt hit the Sister Abigail on the ambulance door, going over to groom him for his next opponent. I sure hope there's a payoff in mind for all the times Ambrose is losing and/or getting fucked though. ***3/4


NXT - January 7, 2015


Sami Zayn cuts a brief, passionate promo about how much the NXT Title means to him and how badly he desires to collide with Kevin Owens. This promo is just further evidence as to why Zayn will go on to at least briefly break the main roster's glass ceiling.


Raw - January 12, 2015


Daniel Bryan, in the city of his greatest accomplishment, looks to be as good as new when Stephanie McMahon brings Kane out to attack him, as D-Bry pulls out all the dangerous shit he doing prior to his abrupt time off.


Paul Heyman cuts another excellent promo to put over Brock Lesnar, in the city that saw the Streak come to a screeching halt.


The contract signing main event between Lesnar, John Cena, and Seth Rollins is fabulous. Heyman cuts another blistering promo about the ramifications of the match, and Lesnar is great too, pointing out to Rollins that he had conquered Cena as well as Triple H. Rollins talks about everything he had done to date, smashing every goal he had set, and then laughs at Cena when Cena says they're both coming after him. Rollins attempts to sneak-attack Cena. Lesnar gives them both German Suplexes, but Rollins lands on his front side rather than neck and shoulders. Cena gives Lesnar a Death Valley Driver through a table, but then eats an SR curb stomp. Lesnar gets up only to also eat an SR curb stomp.


NXT - January 14, 2015: The Good Shit


Finn Balor vs. Tyson Kidd - ***1/4


Kevin Owens walks out on Renee Young interviewing when she says he stole Sami Zayn's sentimental moment at Takeover: R Evolution.


NXT Title Match

Sami Zayn vs. Adrian Neville


Great adjustments in this one, highlighted near the end when Neville gives a superkick to Zayn during a through-the-ropes tornado DDT attempt. But for obvious reasons, even though this match was totally satisfying, it wasn't gonna capture the emotions of their title change match. Zayn puts Neville down again, only to get attacked by Kevin Owens again. ***3/4


SmackDown! - January 15, 2015: The Good Shit


Paul Heyman storms to the ring pissed about what happened earlier in the week. He cuts an another awesome promo that is interrupted by Seth Rollins. The former ROH Champion cuts one of the finest promos of his career with complete conviction, cornering Heyman and getting nose-to-nose with the former ECW owner, threatening to give him an SR curb stomp, as doing so would make Brock Lesnar nothing more than a dumbed-down mass of muscle. Heyman talks his way out of it by bringing up that once the match is over, Lesnar can perhaps help Rollins more. Excellent segment.


Kane, Big Show, & Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, & Daniel Bryan


This match is booked when D-Bry beat Kane in the opener. Imagine a trios match between this six men a year and a half earlier, it'd have been far more interesting despite this one being really good: The Shield vs. Big Show & Team Hell No. Ambrose plays the Ricky Morton role in this one, with Reigns and D-Bry pulling out their comeback shit at times to really get the crowd into it. It was refreshing to see Ambrose and Rollins going at it again, obviously not the end of their unfinished story. In the end, D-Bry puts Kane down with the Busaiku knee to cap off this highly entertaining match that did a great job in protecting the weaknesses of Kane and Reigns. ***1/2


Raw - January 19, 2015: The Good Shit


The opening segment is fantastic at first, as Brock Lesnar cuts Paul Heyman off and wants to brawl with Seth Rollins. Triple H comes out instead and Lesnar threatens him to a huge pop. (Obviously, the people of Dallas are DYING for Lesnar vs. HHH IV at WM32 then.) After this part, the promo becomes neverending, instead taking up another 10-15 minutes to set up a pedestrian Raw main event, rather than building interest for the far more important title match.


Bray Wyatt vs. Daniel Bryan - ***1/2


John Cena is able to win the jobs back for Ryback, Dolph Ziggler, and Erick Rowan (fired two weeks earlier) in what has to be the most expensive go-home segment EVER for Raw. This segment included appearances by John Cena, Seth Rollins, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Kane, Big Show, Sting, Brock Lesnar, and Paul Heyman. The finish comes when Sting appears on the Titan Tron and walks to the entrance to distract the Authority, so Cena does a roll up for the win. Sting departs as the Authority are incensed, only for Lesnar to show up and leave Kane & Show laying each with an F5 to the crowd's uproarious approval. Money well spent in this highly entertaining segment, unlike what was to come in six days.


NXT - January 21, 2015: The Good Shit


A tournament for an NXT Title shot is announced, with Finn Balor taking care of Curtis Axel.


GM William Regal agrees to grant Sami Zayn a NON-title match against Kevin Owens at Takeover: Rival.


Also announced by Regal for Takeover: Rival, due to Becky Lynch interfering during tonight's Women's Title Match between Charlotte and Sasha Banks, as well as Bayley attacking all three in the post-match, is a fourway between all of them for that title.


Kevin Owens will comment on his actions next week during the contract signing with Sami Zayn.


NXT Title Shot Tournament Quarterfinal

Tyler Breeze vs. Hideo Itami - ***


SmackDown! - January 22, 2015: The Good Shit


Royal Rumble Match Qualifier For Dolph Ziggler

Wade Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler - ***


Royal Rumble Match Qualifier for Daniel Bryan - Hardcore Match

Kane vs. Daniel Bryan - ***1/2

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Royal Rumble 2015: The Good (And Almost Complete, Utter) Shit


WWE Title - No DQ Match

Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena


Another of my most highly anticipated matches for this project. The storyline certainly held up several weeks later, now how about this match?


If you're looking for a match that's about working on body parts, look elsewhere. If you're a fan of character work and peaks and valleys, then this is the match for you. Lesnar hits a couple German Suplexes on Cena to start, while Rollins is taking a powder. Rollins quickly makes his presence known, but gets eaten up by Lesnar too, including a botched German Suplex in which Rollins appeared to aim to land on his feet, but landed on his shoulder. J&J Security would also eat a botched double German Suplex early, although it's hard to blame anyone for that.


Lesnar would eat numerous finishers, including THREE Death Valley Drivers PLUS an SR curb stomp moments later, but that pin would get broken up. With all the false finishes in this one, an important detail I noticed was that finishers were protected, with the exception of Lesnar kicking out at one after a Death Valley Driver, a sign of things to come later in the match.


Cena would tackle Lesnar through a barricade, but that wasn't enough to take down the Beast, and neither would being rammed into steel steps. Cena had to smack Lesnar's head with the steps, then Rollins hit a spectacular flying elbow drop on Lesnar, crashing the commentary table he had been laying down on to lick his wounds. Rollins and Cena would have their usual style of match while Lesnar was laid out, but the highly enthusiastic, energetic Philly crowd gave this an extra oomph, making their work more nailbiting than usual.


What also made the Cena vs. Rollins segments stand out is that Cena had an answer for everything Rollins threw at him unlike their prior encounters. J&J Security got taken out with the usual double Death Valley Driver (of course Noble not taking the full brunt of the bump to protect his documented back injury that initially put him into retirement in late 2009). Cena also did the usual evasion of an SR curb stomp to use the momentum of Rollins for an STF submission. But he also grabbed the foot of Rollins during the "You Can't See Me Taunt," and then moments later didn't allow Rollins to hit a spinning heel kick after springing up, putting down the future WWE Champion with a backdrop driver.


Cena would get knocked down, and for the first time in front of the WWE audience, Rollins went deep into his playbook, whipping out the Phoenix splash. But as soon as he landed that off-the-charts high-risk move, Lesnar was back in the ring, immediately planting him with a German Suplex. Cena would eat one too to take him out of the match. Rollins landed on his feet during another German Suplex attempt, then smack Lesnar with the MITB briefcase, but when he went for an SR curb stomp, Lesnar used the momentum to place him into a fireman's carry position, then dropped him with an F5 for the finish!


This was not only a nailbiter, but played off of the previous Cena vs. Rollins encounters, had Rollins digging deep into his playbook, bringing out a move from his days on the independent scene, and a Terminator-style performance from Lesnar. This match will stand the test of time, and I hope at some point we do get Lesnar vs. Rollins one-on-one to deliver the work of art that I know they have in them. ****1/2


The 2015 Royal Rumble Match


Fantastic nail-biting match, with all kinds of peaks and valleys, numerous arcs being sparked or built up, elevation of fresh talents that had long seen their anticipated rises get delayed, and a highly creative, off-the-charts finish to boot.


Just kidding. Here's my assessment the day after this show took place. There is no fancy formatting, just a bit of polishing for spelling and grammar errors, as well as the addition of one other tiny detail that makes what was one of the most highly anticipated matches of the year an even more abysmal waste of time.


There were so many things wrong with this Rumble match, that it's gonna be difficult to really break it down properly. NOBODY benefited from this match other than Dwayne Johnson's bank account and even that's a stretch. I'll do my best.


The match kicked off with a bad impression, putting a faceless midcarder in Miz against a complete, utter jobber in R-Truth. Then Bubba only gets a few minutes and has R-Truth play Diet D-Von. Then we get WWE cock-teasing that they'll fix the mistake of breaking up the Wyatt Family for no reason, then "nope, fooled ya" to the crowd's utter apathy. But we're just getting started.


So Bray Wyatt, who is reportedly being groomed for Taker, eliminates D-Bry clean in the middle of the match? Okay, I can see the mentality. Elevate Wyatt and get D-Bry out early so hopefully the crowd doesn't hijack the Reigns win. But D-Bry came out of this match without any kind of substantial creative direction to pacify the clearly obvious anger that would come with his elimination. Or this could've been easily pacified with D-Bry just getting his rightfully entitled rematch at the title since he never lost it, doing the clean job in a classic match to Lesnar on the undercard.


This would unfortunately only be a sign of things to come. Mizdow, a popular undercard comedy act? Gets his shit in for two minutes, gone. Ambrose? Does a cool "brothers forever" bit with Reigns, then gets dumped by a very stale, ice cold Kane & Big Show. Ditto for Ziggler, although he at least got significant offense on both giants and some others. But both Ambrose and Ziggler, like D-Bry, came out of this match without any kind of substantial creative direction to pacify the clearly obvious anger that would come with their eliminations. Speaking of Ziggler, how about all that TV time spent on him, Ryback, and Rowan, only to get nothing substantial to pay it off in this match? No Wyatt Family reunion, no former Wyatt Family feud, no Rowan going after Ziggler & Ryback out of anger and jealousy for qualifying into the Rumble, and no clear direction for any of them coming out of the match.


Remember Wyatt getting the heat on D-Bry to groom him for Taker? Yeah, let's just dump Taker's planned opponent out like a sack of garbage, that'll build interest for that match.


Now we get to Reigns winning after having all the other babyface favorites sacrificed. I see the idea - give the old giants the heat, then Reigns is the knight in shining armor. But as I detailed, there was no clear direction coming out of the match for any of the other babyfaces to pacify their eliminations, so Reigns was put in a position to be completely defecated on by the audience. But this wasn't the only problem with how Reigns won.


It is completely against Rusev's bad-ass character to lay around on the mat. He is not a chicken shit heel. He is a monster heel. So for him to show up last minute was an assassination of his gimmick. But then on top of that, rather than give us a hot finish between him and Reigns, after they'd already proven last summer in a battle royale that they were more than capable of doing just that, Reigns eliminated Rusev, supposedly being groomed for Cena, in a matter of mere seconds. Again, I get the mentality to make Reigns look strong, but he's not gonna be the only shining star at WM31.


So not only did D-Bry, Wyatt, Ziggler, and Ambrose all come out of this colder than prior to the match, without a clear direction for them during the match, but so did Rusev. What exactly did this match do to make Rusev look credible enough to now be programmed against Cena? Who above the age of 10 could wanna see that match now after Rusev got booked like a chickenshit jobber last night?


So Reigns wins, all the other new blood has been neutered, and the crowd is pissed. But hey everyone, it's the Rock! Look at him hold up Roman's hand, completely forgetting that RR tried to cripple him two years ago as part of the Shield while getting paid by Heyman! And speaking of Heyman, now Reigns will be opposing him and his Beast!


Not only a complete waste of time for Dwayne Johnson in a segment that backfired in every way imaginable, perhaps the biggest waste of money in WWE since Linda McMahon's political campaign or the XFL.


Extra assessment: In light of Dave Meltzer's reporting weeks later, I surely hope that Pat Patterson, Michael Hayes, "Road Dogg" Brian James, and James "Jamie Noble" Gibson got ripped a new one for their God AWFUL layout of this sorry excuse of a Rumble match.

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Raw - January 26, 2015: The Good Shit


Due to shitty weather in the Northeast, tonight's show is postponed and the only new shit is a series of live studio interviews.


Seth Rollins is great detailing how much his stock was raised the night before, but of course talks the talks then doesn't walk the walk when Brock Lesnar shows up with Paul Heyman.


Heyman does a great job in putting over Lesnar as usual, then goes through the nit-picking detail of why Lesnar is head and shoulders above everyone else. Why exactly couldn't Cesaro get even a fraction of the consistent promotion when he was a Heyman guy?


Daniel Bryan talks about his failure, then in kayfabe goes into great detail why the correct match to headline WrestleMania 31 would've been Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Title. The guy who never lost the title. The dominating champion. The ultimate Goliath. The ultimate David. The only detail he forgot to include is that the match would've been a year in the making, the two shining stars of WrestleMania XXX finally colliding. Not to mention the athleticism of both participants as well, including strikes and submission wrestling. Such a match certainly wouldn't be a bad idea for America's largest indoor venue.




NXT - January 28, 2015: The Good Shit


NXT Title Shot Tournament Quarterfinal

Tyson Kidd vs. Adrian Neville - ***3/4


Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have a contract signing moderated by GM William Regal. After very transparent manipulation, Owens forces their hand and makes the match at Takeover: Rival for the NXT Title.


Raw - February 2, 2015: The Good Shit


The opening segment is the usual 15-20 minutes of talking, but as long as it leads to quality main events like Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan, it's tolerable. I did enjoy the Authority trolling Denver about the Patriots being Super Bowl champs, although it'd have meant more if they said, "Hey, don't get mad just because New England knew how to beat the Seahawks on the grandest stage." They should've trolled D-Bry about it too.


Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt - ***1/2


Triple H wants Sting for a confrontation at Fast Lane 2015.


WWE Title Shot Match Qualifier

Seth Rollins vs. Daniel Bryan - ***3/4


NXT - February 4, 2015

NXT Title Shot Tournament Semifinal - Dream Match

Finn Balor vs. Hideo Itami - ***3/4


Raw - February 9, 2015: The Good Shit


Rusev & Lana air a John Cena tribute video that becomes a burial video, saying that he's past his prime. Out comes Cena to cut a great promo, and calls Rusev a bitch to bait him into a great brawl. Rusev leaves Cena laying after a thumb to the eye and tossing him into the video wall.


Dolph Ziggler vs. Bray Wyatt - ***


Sting accepts Triple H's confrontation offer in a segment obviously influenced by superhero scenes involving criminals.


Paul Heyman comes out with Brock Lesnar and goes over both potential matches: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar vs. Daniel Bryan. Heyman of course in kayfabe points out in detail why the latter is an objectively far more intriguing matchup.


Main Event - February 10, 2015

Cesaro vs.. Sin Cara #2 - ***1/4


NXT Takeover: Rival: The Good Shit


NXT Title Shot Tournament Final

Finn Balor vs. Adrian Neville


Excellent match as expected. Neville gets the early advantage with multiple headlocks but Balor manages to get the heat for awhile with his offense, then is cut off later going for a dive. Of course as the third act arrives the nearfalls become outstanding, as well as the fighting spirit moment of the match. Neville briefly absorbs Balor's Pele kick and gives a superkick before both collapse as the crowd is in a collective orgasm. At the finish, Balor got his knees up during the Sky Twister and went for the small package for a nearfall, but it was enough damage to put Neville down moments later. Rematches of this please. ****


Women's Title Match

Charlotte vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks


Nice spotfest here with Lynch & Banks working together at first, throwing Charlotte into a hard LED screen hanging off of an apron (what a stupid engineering idea actually.) They'd of course go at it, resulting in Lynch grabbing Banks from behind and giving a pumphandle slam to her friend. They'd all dive on the outside and then Charlotte got back in, only for Banks to get in and go to war with her again. Banks kept Bayley and Lynch on the outside and got a tremendously angled crossface on Charlotte. The champion couldn't reach the ropes but refused to tap out, so after having enough neck damage inflicted, Banks rolled her over for a crucifix pin to get that elusive championship victory. ***1/4




NXT Title Match

Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens


Quality storytelling here obviously influenced by John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam 2014. After getting corner punches, Owens drops Zayn face-first on the turbuckle and dominates his archnemesis. It is a destruction with Owens busting out all kinds of shit and displaying an attitude that contradicts his claim that this is merely about business and being champion. All of Zayn's hope spots the first half of the match are for naught as Owens constantly cuts him off.


Zayn does manage to make a comeback in the second half of the match, selling his beating and thus having to dig down deep to maintain the heat, including a brawl on the outside. But a blow to the face as well as his head hitting the steel entrance ramp caused him to get woozy. This made him lose his balance and footing on a Yakuza kick attempt, so he went for it again but Owens knew it was coming. After numerous powerbombs and medical staff trying to help Zayn, the ref calls the match off, Zayn's reign coming to a screeching halt to his archnemesis due to TKO ref stoppage. Owens is great posing over Zayn's carcass. I want a rematch at WrestleMania 32 dammit. ***1/2



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SmackDown! - February 12, 2015


Fun gauntlet tag with Roman Reigns & Daniel Bryan facing the entire world to make up for the night's thin roster and give them screen time. A shame the Kane & Big Show dissension led nowhere of course.


Raw - February 16, 2015: The Good Shit


John Cena kicks off the show with a promo vowing to end Rusev's undefeated streak, and ends up standing tall when they have another great brawl.


Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose - ***


Kane vs. Roman Reigns


A meaningless match that's must-see strictly for Daniel Bryan's commentary, highlighted by him pointing out Brock Lesnar six months into his reign had only one more title defense than him. Yet another layer as to why Lesnar vs. D-Bry is best for business. D-Bry then does the Yes chant to steal the thunder of Reigns.


Triple H is joined by Ric Flair in the ring. The Nature Boy warns the Game about Sting, but HHH becomes irrational enough that he shoves his friend down and leaves, clearly flustered by the future HOFer's vigilantism.


Big Show vs. Daniel Bryan


Another meaningless match that only matters because of Reigns being ringside for commentary. He goes around signing autographs and posing for fan photos, then this go-home show ends with a tremendous brawl between him and D-Bry. I'm looking forward to this match.


NXT - February 18, 2015

Kevin Owens vs. Adrian Neville - ***3/4


SmackDown! - February 19, 2015: The Good Shit

Luke Harper vs. Roman Reigns - ***

Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins - ***

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Fast Lane 2015: The Good Shit


Randy Orton finally returns after the opener to target Seth Rollins.


Tag Titles Match

The Usos vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd


Odd to see the Bay Area native Usos in Seahawks colors. Nice match that had its story become the challengers working on Jimmy's left knee, including strikes, pounding it on the apron, and submission holds. Jey did everything he could to keep the titles including all kinds of dives, including a sequence that involved a scary one deep into the match. After superkicking Cesaro, Jimmy found himself dropped with a neckbreaker out of nowhere by Kidd to signify new champs. Really looking forward to seeing these four in a PPV rematch. ***


Sting and Triple H confrontation


HHH does everything he can to attempt to get into Sting's head, and even suckers the future HOFer to temporarily get the heat, but Sting won't go down. HHH grabs a sledgehammer, only to get put in his place when Sting puts a baseball bat against his throat. Without saying a word, Sting makes his intentions clear, glaring back and forth at the Game and the WrestleMania 31 sign, and the Game accepts the dream match challenge that had been building since Survivor Series 2014. HHH of course tried to sucker him again but got left on the mat after an inverted DDT.


Undertaker's music is played with druids carrying a coffin to ringside. It's opened to reveal Bray Wyatt, bringing the obvious to reality, in that his promos from the last month were a challenge to Taker to face him at WrestleMania 31.


US Title Match

Rusev vs. John Cena


Glorified finishers match, but that's the power of protecting a monster heel and the other guy for a decade. They did everything to escape each other's finishers, then reached the ropes and kicked out for quality nearfalls. Cena broke the Camel Clutch, then moved Rusev's arm the second time, but Rusev kept locking it on. Frustrated by his greatest challenge to date, Rusev low-blowed Cena when Lana jumped on the apron, causing the face of the company to pass out in the Camel Clutch. Tremendous layout to lead to the obvious rematch at WrestleMania 31. This show is on a roll with its focused direction. ***1/2


WWE Title Shot Match

Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan


Excellent main event that showed Reigns is quite capable of being carried to the best match of his career to date by best wrestler on the roster. Time will tell if Rollins will be able to pull this off too. Reigns really shined here with his physicality, and for those who wanna speculate that D-Bry isn't physically ready to work a dream match against Brock Lesnar, eat this fact: Reigns gave D-Bry the same overhead belly-to-belly suplex on the floor that Lesnar gave CM Punk at SummerSlam 2013.


This is nowhere near the work of art of that Lesnar vs. Punk classic I mentioned, but this definitely delivered. D-Bry kept pulling out his submission arsenal, digging more into it every time Reigns would power out with his superior size and strength. He then gave a preview of what will come when the day arrives that he faces Lesnar, busting out THREE tope suicidas, only to get caught and powerslammed by Reigns on the third one. They exchanged nearfalls on a spear and Busaiku knee, as well as Reigns reaching the ropes while in the Lebell Lock. Another one later had Reigns trying to pummel on D-Bry, but found himself in a Triangle Hold that was broken via a powerbomb.


A spear attempt was countered with a fantastic small package nearfall, a move that D-Bry had used to put down Kane in the past as well as many of his greatest opponents on the indies. With both exhausted, they emptied their gas tanks, ending with Reigns getting a spear on D-Bry during a Busaiku knee attempt for a great finish. Post-match, D-Bry congratulates him and says he better slay the Beast. This was obviously the wrong choice, but they got the most out of it. Reigns showed he was capable of having a great match, and D-Bry proved nobody on the WWE roster is more reliable in getting a pet project over. ****

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Final stop!


Quick star ratings


Main Event - February 24, 2015

Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. Lucha Dragons - ***3/4


NXT - March 4, 2015

NXT Women's Title Match

Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte - ***1/4


Raw - March 16, 2015

Wade Barrett, Luke Harper, & Stardust vs. Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, & Daniel Bryan - ***1/2


SmackDown! - March 19, 2015

Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan - ***


Raw - March 23, 2015

Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan - ***1/4


NXT - March 25, 2015

NXT Title Match

Kevin Owens vs. Finn Balor - ***1/2


For NXT, Sami Zayn has been recovering from his loss (in real life a shoulder injury), while Alex Riley got a nice temporary push against the bully NXT Champion Kevin Owens. It was nice to close out the TV portion of the brand with a quality dream match for the title, but the crowd atmosphere was lacking of the occasional specials to take it over the top into greatness.


On the main stage, the MVP has clearly been Paul Heyman. Nobody could've done a more fantastic job of giving Roman Reigns credibility, while managing to explain that Brock Lesnar is still superior. This has probably been the best month of his entire career on the microphone. Lesnar's contribution was easily highlighted by his video package in which he said "I'm going to fuck [Reigns] up." But the less said about how Reigns has been booked in the ring, as well as the tug-of-war to close out the road to WrestleMania 31, the better. And despite Heyman's work, Reigns still isn't over enough or moving enough ratings/merch to be the one to slay the Beast and take Cena's spot, no matter what his fans say.


Sting vs. Triple H was a fine program, but there was a missed opportunity in all the mentions of WCW. Sting's comparison of the Authority to the nWo and Eric Bischoff should've been really hammered down the audience's throat since WCW kept being brought up so much.


The creative team had no nailbiting followup for the red-hot Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton match a few months earlier. But that's fine - it's my most anticipated match based on quality expectations.


I'll be curious to see how Undertaker looks and if all the protection of Bray Wyatt pays off after feeding him Ambrose, Ziggler, and D-Bry.


Speaking of the audience's three favorites, their ladder match for the IC Title should be great and hopefully it rekindles the prestige, but what a waste to throw them altogether in an afterthought involving such substantial acts as Stardust and R-Truth.


Storyline-wise, the hottest angle has clearly been Rusev vs. John Cena. I absolutely loved Cena having to be cutthroat when locking the STF on Rusev, not breaking it until Lana agreed to his terms: a rematch for the US Title at the Showcase of the Immortals. Then they followup with an awesome brawl on the go-home Raw, with Rusev cleanly getting the advantage after just one forearm and putting Cena through a commentary table. Now if only this obvious match had been teased when they were on opposing teams a few months earlier.


This road just couldn't measure up to the road to WrestleMania XXX, and in revisiting this, the decisions made by Vince McMahon have only been more frustrating in light of the potential he had on his roster. But the roster is stacked enough even with CM Punk gone, and credit must be given in elevating Rusev and Rollins. NXT has been an exceptional product thanks to its roster only getting deeper with indy and puro talent as well as consistent booking, and gives hope for the company's aesthetic future when Vince is no longer in charge.


Here are the two best video packages on the final road going into WrestleMania 31:






The Road to WrestleMania 31: Top Ten Matches in Chronological Order


Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan - WrestleMania XXX ****3/4

The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family - Main Event 4/8/2014 ****

Charlotte vs. Natalya Neidhart - NXT Takeover ****

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins - Raw 8/18/2014 ****

Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd - NXT Takeover: Fatal 4Way ****1/2

Sheamus vs. Cesaro - Night of Champions 2014 ****

Neville vs. Sami Zayn - NXT Takeover: R Evolution ****1/2

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins - Royal Rumble 2015 ****1/2

Finn Balor vs. Neville - NXT Takeover: Rival ****

Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan - Fast Lane 2015 ****


Those who bothered to read this, thank you. I wish there were more detail-oriented fans like you.


This now concludes this project, as The Road to WrestleMania 32: The Good Shit will begin with me reviewing the entire WrestleMania 31 event.

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