Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Roman Reigns isn't the guy anymore

Image credit: WWE.com.
A lot of ink has been written about how well Roman Reigns is succeeding as a top WWE star. But just as much will be written over the next few days about his 30 day Wellness Policy violation. Reigns went from one of the biggest stars WWE has to a man that will be sidelined until Battleground on July 24th. Whether WWE will keep him in the main event of that show remains to be seen, but answers will probably come on tonight's prerecorded Smackdown.

This also creates a huge hole in WWE storytelling as not only does the company lose him for four weeks of television, but he will also be gone for the huge Smackdown live debut and the roster draft that takes place.

That being said, I don't feel bad for Reigns. He did what he did and he's paying the consequences.

I do think WWE should look closely at this incident however. They put a year into building this man as a top star at the expense of all other talents. It should be time to reconsider that as a long term booking strategy for the company, instead focusing their energy on building an array of new stars. One look at Sunday's Money in the Bank ladder match should show them where to start.

I strongly suspect that Reigns might stay in the main event scene for a few weeks after his return, but much like Randy Orton after his violations, I wouldn't expect to see it last. I would guess Reigns is in for some lean times for the rest of 2016, and maybe beyond.

With a WWE that finally seems ready to push their New Era properly, this creates even more possibilities for newer stars to grab the brass ring.

Let's hope they make it happen.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The New Era finally begins at Money in the Bank

I have to be honest: the undercard of Money in the Bank was not as good a show as it could have been. But it did do a lot to cement the new era of WWE. Two new stars in Baron Corbin and Apollo Crews scored pay-per-view wins. The three new tag teams challenging The New Day all had chances to win the belts. Natalya might not be new, but she displayed a new and wholly different attitude. But they were just the prelude for the rest of the card, with three big matches that could very well signify a better future for WWE.

AJ Styles and John Cena wrestled an instant classic, with a nearly twenty-five minute battle that allowed both men to show why they are two of the best in the business. While both agreed to wrestle a clean match, a ref bump and injuries to both men allowed Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to insert themselves into the match. It is clear this is a set up for a match that will go for several more months of WWE television.

The Money in the Bank ladder match was pretty much everything you could expect from the six men that entered. Every man made a name by putting their bodies on the line and it was no different tonight as Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro, Chris Jericho and Dean Ambrose each pulled out the stops to make this MITB one of the best in history. It doesn't hurt that unlike previous Money matches, no one felt out of place in a ladder match. But when Dean picked up the win, it clearly spelled implications for the main event.

Rusev and Titus O'Neil took the bathroom match spot, but they surprised me with how good they worked together in their eight minute encounter. I am not a huge fan of Titus, but he definitely looked great as he wrestled the Bulgarian Brute in front of his kids. While he didn't win, the taunting of Rusev's children post-match almost certainly mean this feud isn't over, which could spell some great wrestling from both underrated talents.

The main event was supposedly two years in the making, even though Reigns and Rollins did meet in solo matches before this one. But those battles didn't have the stakes of this one, with both men doing everything they could to take the other man down. Like the Cena/Styles match, a lot of time was spent with both men knowing each other's moveset and countering them, the biggest highlight of which was a spear reversed into a hopping Pedigree. Ultimately another Pedigree put down Reigns and won Seth Rollins his second WWE championship.

But it wasn't to last. Rollins' reign was measured in seconds as Ambrose came out, cashed in his briefcase and hit Dirty Deeds to become the new WWE World champion.

Image credit: WWE.com.
It was a glorious sight for the fans that have waited anxiously for WWE to pull the trigger on one of their most over stars. It also allows WWE to make some unpredictable moves at the championship level as unpredictable is pretty much Ambrose's calling card.

Whether or not WWE uses this to streamline into better storytelling remains to be seen, but it finally is starting to feel like we have a new WWE to follow for the next few years.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chikara's King of Trios becoming a women's wrestling paradise

Every few weeks, Chikara has announced a new King of Trios team for this September's incarnation of the event. (This year it has a Pokemon theme.) But today they pulled out one of their biggest units ever.

But first a look back. The first team announced was Team Sendai Girls (a Japanese joshi promotion) team of Cassandra Miyagi and the returning pair of DASH Chisako and Meiko Satomura. The second team announced would represent the SHIMMER promotion as they brought in Candace LeRae, Crazy Mary Dobson and former Chikara regular and SHIMMER champion Madison Eagles.

Today, the roster reveals picked up in a big way. Chikara announced the third team as Team Original Divas Revolution. Most interestingly, it brings too of its talents out of (semi-)retirement to do so.

Image credit: Chikara
Leading up the team is Mickie James, a big name all around the country. Her matches have become fewer since she had a child with Nick "Magnus" Aldis, but she's still an active weekend warrior. She leads two other former WWE heavy hitters.

First up is Lisa Marie Varon, working under the Victoria name for the first time in years. (The WWE trademark is long expired.) She has only appeared for Chikara once in the past as far as I know, and only as a special guest during the Chicago-based Tag World Grand Prix, which I was fortunate to attend live. I even got a picture with the lovely Ms. Varon, so it should be no surprise this news excites me.

But the third figure in the match is even more exciting as Jazz returns to wrestling to team with Mickie and Victoria. Jazz hasn't wrestled regularly for a couple years now, seemingly retiring to spend more time with her husband (the former Rodney Mack) and children.

That is a true power unit of veteran wrestlers and they will surely add tons to the event, even as we await the other thirteen announcements for the event.

Watch the full announcement video below.