Road To Metlife: Final Stop: East Rutherford

Finally it’s here! Wrestlemania week. The time where wrestling fans all over the world unite for a weekend of celebration. Some will applaud over a successful experience. Others will groan and say the same thing EVERY YEAR: “worst Wrestlemania ever” and “Vince is out of touch” meanwhile resubscribing to the Network and tuning in to Raw. The matches this year look pretty solid minus one, but I think (hope) something is going to stem from the lackluster bout.

Nia/Tamina vs. Iconics vs. Natalya/Beth Pheonix vs. Sasha/Bailey

Fatal Four Way for WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

We got the women’s tag team championship being defended for the first time ever on the big stage and it will feature a fatal four way. We got the defending champions Sasha and Bailey facing the teams of Smackdown’s The Iconics, Raw’s Nia and Tamina, and Natalya teaming with the returning Beth Pheonix. They built this up pretty well giving each team some decent screen time while also trying to squeeze everyone else involved in the card. Each team has a reason to walk out with the titles which is always a sign of good writing. Making the crowd guess who will win.

Prediction: The Iconics walk away with a surprise win. They’ve been silent the most and they did score a win over the champs so a win for the underdogs would be a nice change.

Randy Orton vs AJ Styles

This could easily be match of the night and most definitely match of the year contender. Both have had solid matches in their respective feuds in years past so to have these two in a face to face collision could guarantee us a great bout. The build up has been great and their promos were insane, partially because a lot of truth was spoken which left fans stunned from the segment.

Prediction: AJ Styles although the match will be great regardless who wins.

Drew McIntyre vs Roman Reigns

Hey look wrestling fans, a Wrestlemania match that doesn’t have Roman Reigns in the main event or a championship match. Bet you’ll still complain though. Honestly, this should be a good one. Reigns is good at putting people over and it is time to give Drew the push he deserves. Does that mean he’s winning this? Austin lost to Hart. Rock lost to Austin (twice). See where I’m going?

Prediction: Roman wins the battle, but the war will continue.

Triple H vs. Batista

No Holds Barred with HHH’s Career On The Line

Having seen these two compete in the past, I know both men will deliver. People can say what they want about HHH and “hoarding” the spotlight, but the guy can bring it to the table and has done so for the last 20 plus years. While these two haven’t placed a lot of screen time in this rivalry, it’s really not necessary. HHH has done this in the past with the Undertaker where there was little air time, but once that bell rang, everything that was needed to be said, was said in that ring. And I have no doubt the same will be done with him and Batista, given their already personal history. This match puts HHH’s career on the line which makes it tough to predict. On one hand, Hunter has never beaten the Animal so what better place to end that curse than the grand stage. Then again, how many more years does The Game have, especially now that he’s getting inducted in the Hall of Fame this weekend?

Baron Corbin vs Kurt Angle

Angle’s farewell match

Please please PLEASE let this be a swerve to a better match. Otherwise this will be the most underwhelming retirement in Sports entertainment history. I made my rant the other day so I’ll just make my prediction.

Prediction: Kurt Angle against Corbin. However if anyone takes his place, it’s anybody’s guess.

Prediction: HHH gets his win, but I feel this will set something else up.

Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan WWE Championship Match

Finally, Kofi gets his Championship match and he’s getting it on the biggest stage. Fans have been waiting for this moment for a long time and his moment is finally here when he challenges tHe NeW dAnIeL bRyAn. Sorry, but I hate that nickname. Ideally, Kofi SHOULD walk away from this match culminating his 11 year journey with the coveted WWE Championship. I want it. The fans want it. But since it’s Wrestlemania and it’s Vince, there’s always room for a swerve. But I remain optimistic.

Prediction: And NEW WWE Champion, Kofi Kingston in a great match.

Seth Rollins vs Brock Lesnar Universal Championship Match

I really want to be excited for this match. I genuinely do. But Brock has managed to suck the excitement out of this rivalry. I believe he only made two appearances leading up to this match which is pathetic even for him. And it’s not like he was out promoting or plugging the match and the ppv. He was at home sitting on his lazy ass collecting a check while Rollins did all the work. Lesnar has been a joke if a champion and I can’t wait til he drops it to go back to UFC. He’s not the draw he used to be and nobody cares. The only way this match will be worth it is if Lesnar loses.

Prediction: and NEW Universal Champion, Seth Rollins after taking numerous German suplexes.

Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair.

Triple Threat Winner Takes All

For the first time ever, the women are headlining the mecca of sports entertainment. Well deserved ladies. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this match should NOT have Charlotte Flair in it. With her, everything felt shoved trying to squeeze her in what was already a perfect dynamic. Having said that, adding the Smackdown women’s Championship to the mix definitely made this an unpredictable outcome. Will Becky overcome the odds? Will Charlotte be WWE’s legitimate chosen one? Or will Ronda Rousey be the next Brock Lesnar? The final Raw before Mania made this a fun ride and to be honest, I’ll be looking forward to seeing this match.

Prediction: And NEW Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch. It’s her time now and beating the two corporate chosen athletes at Metlife would be the perfect place to start the The Man’s era.

Of course, we have several other matches but I wanted to capture the main matches that most are looking forward to. Overall, this year’s Wrestlemania should be a solid card with surprises and heartbreak. Whether we see it now or this Sunday, it will be an emotional show and I can’t wait.

Road To Metlife: Thank You Kurt

There’s no question that Kurt Angle is one of the most decorative and successful athletes to step foot in a WWE ring. He’s an Olympic gold winner, multiple time WWE Champion, IC, European, and Tag Team Champion. He’s also won the 2000 King of the Ring. And he’s had one of the most successful first year run in WWE history. All of this earned him a place in the hall of fame. So when Kurt Angle announced he will be having his retirement match at Wrestlemania, we fans assumed he would have a proper send off with a suitable opponent. So WWE gave went and gave us….Baron Corbin? Really, WWE?

There are literally a number of people that would make a fitting final opponent for Kurt Angle instead of Corbin. For starters we have John Cena. Angle was Cena’s very first opponent on the main roster and even introduced us to the Ruthless Aggression Era in 2002. Many, including myself, didn’t know who John Cena was or even knew what he could bring to WWE. But that match proved that Cena was not only here, but he was here to stay as a household brand and we can thank Kurt for that fantastic match. Even though Cena lost, by no means was it a squash or a bury. Quite the contrary. Kurt helped elevate John Cena and made sure he was well taken care of. It would be a very fitting, even poetic ending to have Cena be the last guy.

We also have the Undertaker as a strong opponent. It sounds bizarre considering the Deadman, but if you saw their matches during the Ruthless Aggression and pre-PG era, you know these two can control an arena when these two are together. Personally, their best match took place in February 2006 for the World Heavyweight Championship at No Way Out. The two put out a Wrestlemania style main event that should’ve been saved for the flagship show, minus the interference from Mark Henry. If there was ever a person that had the right to end Taker’s impressive undefeated streak, it would be Angle.

If we’re talking about the future, tradition, and putting over top stars, then Kurt could’ve had a great match with Daniel Bryan. Now obviously, that ship has sailed, what with Bryan defending the Championship against Kofi, but if this was planned out months ago, this had match of the year contender written all over. Angle mentioned that he would love to have a match with Daniel Bryan before calling it a career and maybe there’s still time since we have two more shows before Mania, but these two definitely deserved the grand stage. Especially if Kurt plans to pass the torch to Bryan.

Kurt Angle has achieved so much and has given us fans a massive amount of memories that will be remembered for years, even decades to come. From an outstanding rookie year and winning his first WWE Championship, to his iconic Wrestlemania matches with worthy contenders such as Brock Lesnar, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho. And WWE is going to send him into the sunset by giving us a guy like Baron Corbin? I’m sorry, but there’s nothing in his personality or skills that gives me the impression he should close Angle’s career. The reaction he gets is embarrassing and his personality is drier than an unused towel. I hope WWE decides to swerve us and change the opponent either this week or the day of the show. HBK retired Ric Flair. Taker retired HBK. Shouldn’t Angle have a strong opponent to send him off to the sunset? Because Corbin is not that guy.

Road To Metlife: Firing All Cylinders

There are no more ppv’s between now and April 7th. The Road to Wrestlemania is officially firing on all cylinders and the card is taking shape. This is the part of the season where I get simultaneously nervous, excited, and overwhelmed. Whenever I hear people talk about WWE during this time of year, especially this time of year, I get a grin on my face similar to Thanos when he hears Death’s name. Several matches are official while a few more are slowly forming but the hype is definitely growing and I can’t wait to see how these angles culminate.

On Raw, we have three key matches already announced. The first is Batista vs HHH in a No Holds Barred match which was announced on Raw this past week. WWE teased this match several months ago during Smackdown 1000 when Batista made the comment that HHH has never beaten him. The two had an intense staredown before calming down and brushing off the words. But when Batista attacked Ric Flair a few weeks ago, that tension reignited and the Game demanded a fight. On Monday, Batista insisted he fight Hunter at Wrestlemania. Hunter obliged, but the match would be No Holds Barred. These two had a few matches in the past, one being Wrestlemania 21 and the other inside Hell in a Cell, but this match will undoubtedly be their most personal. HHH has done a lot in his career, but beating the Animal is the one achievement that’s alluded him and looks to change that in Metlife Stadium.

The second key Raw match is the triple threat match (ugh) between Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, and Charlotte Flair (UUGH) for the Raw Women’s Championship. I’ve already expressed the reason for my frustrations in this storyline and now that it’s official, nothing has changed. WWE writers have successfully made this match less meaningful by adding Flair and insisting SHE should be in this match. Everything about her involvement has made no sense and has made this storyline hypocritical and confusing. Charlotte accusing Becky of getting handouts. Removing the injury angle that Charlotte started. Victimizing herself in this storyline. NONE OF THIS IS NECESSARY!!!! You literally had the pieces for a solid main event and you just threw it out the window. At this point, I can’t see a scenario where they can change my mind, but stranger things have happened. I will say one major positive shift was the heel turn of Ronda Rousey. MUCH NEEDED improvement as she’s finally showing her ruthless side that we saw in UFC. This is the Ronda I’ve been waiting for so hopefully this and Becky’s dynamic will carry the excess weight that Charlotte brought.

The third match is one that was announced since January which is Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Not much to say about this one since WWE has yet to really promote the match due to an absent champion. If you don’t get the reaction you want WWE, you only have yourself to blame. Having said that, if done right, this match and overall storyline has major potential and hope it pans out.

For Smackdown, we just found out last night that Shane McMahon will face the Miz. Personally, I had a feeling someone was going to turn and I was hoping it would be Shane. Thankfully I was right because honestly, Shane makes a much better heel than a face and it’s time to see what the Miz can do with a legit full face turn. These two should put out a good match.

One match that isn’t official that I feel will be by next week is Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship. I mentioned a few weeks ago that it’s Kofi’s time to finally cement his legacy and become the champion we’ve all been waiting for. Although I’ve been bashing the writers for their terrible work on the Raw women’s division, they’ve been doing a fantastic job with this angle and how they’re making Kofi the underdog which we can all relate. We all love a good underdog story (Rocky anyone?) Next week Kofi has to run a massive gauntlet match to determine his fate at Wrestlemania and while it is pretty clear what the outcome will be, I’m still excited to see the payout, especially if Kofi fulfils his dream.

Wrestlemania season is in full swing and most of the key matches are announced with the exception of one. It’s been awhile since I’ve been this excited about a Wrestlemania, and this is my fourth one attending. We still have several weeks of build-up and things can swing in any direction until then, but if it stays the course and continues to ascend, East Rutherford is in for a wild weekend.

Road To Metlife: Game On

Whether you love him or hate, nobody is as intense in the ring as HHH. If he’s performing a match, you’re guaranteed to get his very best regardless of his health status at that moment. Or if he’s delivering a promo, he draws intense emotions and gives you a speech worth listening to. He makes you feel what you should be feeling at that moment and this past Monday, he brought all the feels to Philly.

Last week, Batista returned and spoiled Ric Flair’s birthday party by attacking the Nature Boy in his dressing room. Emotions ran wild this week when HHH came out to the ring to attempt a confrontation with the Animal. Instead Batista left an Instagram post explaining his absence in heelish fashion by simply saying he doesn’t like Philly or its people. The excuse was cheesy and typical, but HHH’s response was perfect. He practically broke kayfabe and acknowledged the late 80’s playbook of being a top heel which is something Vince McMahon is usually reluctant to allow.

But then it got real. Hunter referred to Flair by his real name while delivering an emotional story of how Ric almost died last year and was given a second chance at life. His eyes started to water and he choked up during his story. He was either legitimately overwhelmed or he’s a damn good actor because he was tugging all of our strings. However once he got to the attack Batista made, the tears dried up and the rage swelled. HHH reminded us why he’s the Game by delivering rage you don’t see in promos anymore. Not in WWE, not in ROH, not even Lucha Underground. It was a speech that made you excited for the inevitable confrontation between these two future hall of famers.

HHH has been criticized for several rumors over the years from burying young talent to hoarding the spotlight in high profile events. Truth is,he’s at the top for a reason and his promo was a big example. It has nothing to do with his connections or his marital status, but rather the passion for the business. He sets the bar very high because he expects that from all of the talent that say they want to make it to the top. Promos like the one he delivered is why his matches are always talked about for years afterwards. Because people get hyped. They get pumped to see where the story goes next, and how the match will end. I for one, am excited to see this match unfold in person, more than before.

Road To Metlife: We Loooooove You

Change is necessary if you want to succeed. Sometimes it’s risky. But it’s inevitable, especially if you’re running a business. A change was certainly needed in the creative department and this week, we witnessed those necessary adjustments to keep WWE must see television. After weeks of mediocre and sometimes questionable calls, WWE nailed a homerun this week with back to back quality shows that leave you wanting more, something that the E hasn’t done in years. If you too noticed the shift, you have the man pictured above to thank, Bruce Prichard or as us old school fans know him as Brother Love.

Bruce Prichard is a well known figure in front and behind the scenes in pro wrestling. Over the years, he was a manager and commentator for a few organizations, but his home was always WWE. He was a manager under the unique character, Brother Love, who had an odd appreciation for, well, almost everybody and had a bizarre skin condition leaving his appearance red…like the color of love. Fun fact, Brother Love was the original manager of the Undertaker before stepping down and handing the reigns to Paul Bearer. He eventually put away the manager role and became a writer for WWE before leaving for TNA. Once he realized what kind of mistake that ship was, he eventually returned home to WWE as a writer and occasionally, a tv personality. He is now the current head writer for the company which went into effect this passed week, and it seems that his work showed.

For starters, RAW had the return of Roman Reigns and Batista. A few months back, I wrote that Reigns’ previous battle with leukemia had resurfaced and would take time off to fight this disease. Thankfully, Roman returned to announce he is in remission and is ready to come back to work. There was also some top quality wrestling matches, specifically from NXT stars Ricochet and Aleister Black. The two guys performed back to back shows and delivered with impressive outcomes. Ronda Rousey subsequently handed back the Raw Women’s Championship to Stephanie McMahon after refusing to reinstate Becky Lynch from her “suspension”. And the main topic of the night was Ric Flair’s birthday and a giant celebration to follow the evening’s theme. What was supposed to end with the roster surrounding and honoring the Nature Boy’s 70th birthday and legacy turned to chaos when Batista made his arrival and assaulted the hall of fame, leaving Flair unconscious and helpless. This ending was the crown jewel of the evening because it left every fan asking questions and wanting more, something WWE hasn’t done successfully in years.

The following night on Smackdown, WWE continued this momentum by starting the show strong as well. They were originally going to hold a contract signing between Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. However, Vince McMahon made some unexpected changes and made a surprise appearance to the show. Vince dropped a bombshell and announced he would replace Kofi Kingston with the returning Kevin Owens. Obviously, fans were beyond irate with this decision, but us close to the chest knows exactly where this is going and if we’re accurate; thank you Vince! Shortly after that segment, we witnessed the return of Matt Hardy and the reformation of the Hardy Boyz. Charlotte also announced that she will appear on Raw this coming Monday to expect the Raw Women’s Championship to get awarded to her. While the show didn’t end on a cliffhanger like Raw did, the matches were top quality and the Kofi controversy had fans wanting more.

A very solid week for WWE which was very much needed after the slump they’ve been going through lately. I’ve expressed my frustrations towards the writing team and the insane decisions they were making. I still don’t trust them, but with Prichard at the helm I’m a little more optimistic with Wrestlemania season. There are some hiccups that might roll along during the road to Metlife Stadium and I’m sure I’ll write about it if/when it occurs. But until that happens, I’m very much satisfied with what we were given and hope this trend of shock tv continues. A definite win for WWE.

Road To MetLife: You Had One Job WWE

Of course WWE couldn’t go a full month without ruining something that was already perfect. Yes, folks. My love/hate relationship with the E is taking another dark avenue, only this time WWE had only one job. NOTHING! They literally had to do nothing for the next several weeks and let Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey do their promos in the ring and social media. They had it. They had lightning in a bottle and they actually managed to ruin it by creating a ridiculous swerve by adding a third participant in a what could’ve been a classic one-on-one encounter. Allow me to quickly recap.

We all know that Becky Lynch won the Royal Rumble, which “gaurentees” the winner a shot at the Championship at Wrestlemania. We also know that, despite her upcoming title defense at Elimination Chamber, Ronda Rousey will walk into New Jersey with the Raw Women’s Championship. And up until Monday night, we were aware that Becky Lynch was challenging Ronda Rousey for that championship in what was supposed to be a personal, heated, and unforgettable collision course between these two women. But, leave it to the “creativity” of the writers and bookers, WWE felt it would be much more entertaining to suspend Lynch and hand the main event to Charlotte Flair. Seriously, WWE? You couldn’t just leave it alone, could you? Becky and Ronda have been doing a great job building their storyline since Survivor Series when they were originally scheduled to meet. They never stopped their momentum and only continued to draw more interest in their rivalry. The writers literally didn’t have to do anything. But they thought adding Charlotte Flair would be much better. It’s not.

I’ve read feedback from the opposition and all I keep getting is a short term payout. “Becky beating both Charlotte and Becky will make her bigger”. So explain to me the purpose of the injury angle with Becky’s leg? Lynch is going into Wrestlemania with a bad knee and her opponent is one of the biggest submission specialists in the game. Out of the gate, Becky would be absolutely outmatched with this handicap which gives us a great story right there and Becky having to overcome the odds against an angry and hostile Rousey would be the cherry. And if you REALLY want to add the McMahons in this story, have them make the match no disqualification which will unleash Ronda’s rage. Something we’ve yet seen since her arrival and trust me, she NEEDS to tweek the attitude. Ronda Rousey going Super Saiyan on Becky Lynch would might give Rousey a decent pop from the crowd. Something the McMahons want.

“Charlotte can take the fall, keeping Ronda’s momentum going”. I can’t stress this enough: RONDA NEEDS TO LOSE. It’s not out of hate or boredom because I love Ronda. You can’t oversatutate her because then you get a female Brock Lesnar. Right now Lesnar is the laughing stock of WWE by keeping this “invincible” persona and making very few appearances. He’s made the main event picture and the Universal Title a joke and having Rousey (also a former UFC Champion, mind you) duplicate that direction is going to turn the fans off even further. Wrestlemania is the time, and right now, Becky is the (wo)Man to do it. Adding Charlotte would dilute Ronda’s momentum and honestly, Becky’s as well.

I’m not saying Charlotte doesn’t deserve a title match, or even the championship itself. But this isn’t her moment anymore. It’s clear WWE wants to center the women’s division around Flair, but fans right now want Becky Lynch so why deny them? Because it doesn’t fit the corporate agenda? Stone Cold Steve Austin didn’t fit that mold and look where he stood. Daniel Bryan didn’t fit that mold and look where he’s at. Sometimes the best stars are created organically. Through the fans, not always by the machine. WWE dropped the ball big time by putting Charlotte in the title picture despite the fact we all know Becky will return and make the match a triple threat. Nobody asked for this. Literally nobody wanted this. The fans were happy with a one on one match. Adding the swerve waters down the entire storyline by adding a Becky Lynch 2.0 and you’re fooling yourself if you don’t see the similarities. The Road to Wrestlemania did get interesting, but not the way Vince and company hoped. They’re reading the tweets. They hear the outrage. And for their sake, the payoff better be huge, because a new threat is soon going to appear in their rear view mirror.

Let Them Fight

First off, happy birthday to “The Man” Becky Lynch. An appropriate topic to bring up on this day.

Wrestlemania season is officially in full swing and WWE did not waste any time getting the road started. We already have two main events announced but the one I want to discuss is the one I’ve been hyped about since before they announced it. We’re finally going to get Ronda Rousey defending the Raw Women’s Championship against Becky Lynch, and for the love of GOD, PLEASE VINCE AND COMPANY, keep it that way. No gimmicks, no special appearances, and NO TRIPLE THREAT MATCH!

Since Becky got injured during Survivor Series week, the highly anticipated collision between her and Rousey has been a hot topic and whether WWE should go through with the match at a different time. The crowd was not only in favor of the match, but even suggested these two clash at Wrestlemania, with Lynch going in as the challenger and ultimately ending Rousey’s reign and winning streak. The roadblock here is that for some reason WWE feels these two need a third participant in this feud. That third wheel being Charlotte Flair. No way, AND I MEAN, NO WAY does Charlotte need to be included in this rivalry and the proof was presented this week on Raw and Smackdown.

On Monday, Ronda had a very awkward and cringing promo that thankfully got overshadowed by Becky’s unexpected arrival. Lynch wasted no time ripping Rousey apart on the microphone and showing her how to cut a promo. But then something clicked in Ronnie’s head as Becky likes to call her. I don’t know if the nerves shook off or if Becky’s words triggered something, but we got a different Ronda Rousey. One that I’ve been begging to see since her debut last year. She cut a dark and angry promo that sounded almost biblical which got the crowd going. Meanwhile, Becky stood there cool as a cucumber smiling and taking Ronda’s enraged words like it didn’t faze her. With about nine weeks left until the big show, these two women already got fans pumped for their battle in East Rutherford (which I’ll be attending btw).

The following night on Smackdown, during a Becky Lynch promo, Charlotte interrupted and put her two cents into Lynch’s Royal Rumble victory and overall success. The crowd wasn’t feeling it nor were they buying the fact that she had any influence in her rise to the main event. But, I feel this is the segment WWE bookers wanted to slowly bring Flair into the title mix which is a major mistake. Nobody’s asking for this. At least not the majority so why add her? Including a third person in this already heated rivalry will just dilute the match and bring the heat down several notches. Flair had her chance. She failed, so put her in a different program while Lynch and Rousey have their moment. Have Charlotte go after Asuka in a rematch from last year with a different result. Or have her chase the newly implemented womens tag team titles. WWE has lightning in a bottle right now and it would be a shame to waste this because management is hellbent on making the daughter of Ric Flair a main eventer. Don’t get me wrong, Charlotte is a tremendous athlete with hall of fame status written all over her, but this isn’t her spotlight and this is one moment where she should take a backseat while we see magic between Lynch and Rousey.

If we get Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania, I can almost promise you a classic will take place. They’re both amazing athletes with plenty to offer in a one on one match. Becky’s been doing this for years and she’s only been improving, especially since this new edgy persona took effect. And Ronda has evolved so fast and has learned so much in a short time that seeing her best against a prime Becky Lynch would be fantastic to witness. And honestly, throwing Charlotte in the mix would give her the wrong kind of heat, especially in a New York/New Jersey crowd. We’re talking Roman Reigns/John Cena heat. Hey creative, this is one mistake you should stop repeating!