Road to Metlife: Until Next Time

Wrestlemania is over. The aftermath is wrapping up as I type this. Another incredible experience is in the books. An emotional ride would be an understatement from this boy from Jersey who was a fan of the business before I was able to learn to walk and talk. As always, I had a great time going to Wrestlemania and feeling the energy from the superstars and the fans. My inner child and my passion for writing simultaneously peaked these last three months and trust me, I need a break. Or a legit job doing this.To me, Wrestlemania was almost step by step how I envisioned it. But my main and only real gripe was Kurt Angle’s farewell match. I’m fully aware how tradition works. The person retiring usually puts over the other guy, whether he’s an up and comer, or an established icon. We’ve seen HBK retire Flair. We’ve seen Taker retire HBK. So of course it would be appropriate to have Kurt pass the torch. But once again; to Baron Corbin?! I was expecting a squash match where Angle would lay out Corbin and request a real finale. The lights would go out, the bells would toll, and the fire would ignite as the legendary Undertaker walks through the mouth of Hell to answer Kurt’s request. We get a short, but solid match between these two resulting in a Tombstone and a respectful sendoff to the Olympic hero. But instead we get a vanilla, no charisma goon take that torch. Unless WWE has serious faith in Corbin, this was a waste of an opponent and the booking team should give themselves a Seth Rollins style kick to the nards. For shame creative!There’s also a ton of talk regarding the outcome of the main event. Most of us were hoping for a Becky victory. I was praying to the wrestling gods we would have this outcome. And we got it! Becky walked out of Mania as double champion. But the way she did it is causing people to scratch their heads. She scored an abrupt and anticlimactic three count on Rousey when reports are floating around the internet that the ref royally botched the ending and was supposed to finish with Becky tapping Charlotte instead. Usually, I would be upset of a horrible mistake, but in this case, underwhelming finish aside, Ronda taking the fall was the right move. I’ve said it before this match was official. Ronda needed to lose. Becky NEEDED to beat Ronda. From day one, it was pointless to have Charlotte in this feud and ironically, by the mistake of the referee, the outcome further proved it. Now I would’ve loved to see Becky choke out Ronda, or at best have a more dramatic pinfall, but we got this scenario instead. The outcome remained the same and that makes me a happy camper.After 11 years of clawing and fighting, FINALLY Kofi is WWE Champion! There was literally nothing I would’ve changed about this match. The storyline, the match, the outcome. All perfect. A feel good ending for a man who more than deserves to be the WWE Champion. Very happy to see him get his moment live.Can I say THANK GOD Brock is no longer Universal Champion! And losing to Seth was the icing on the cake. Honestly, this match would’ve been a dud if Lesnar walked away with the title. Seriously, what has he done with that championship other than hold it hostage and sit on it while longing on his couch waiting for his check to come in? The man couldn’t even pretend to care about the company or the fans. At least now, there’s some meaning behind the championship again and this guy is finally going to make a purchase.My relationship with WWE will always have its ups and downs. I accept that. Some days I’ll curse and go WTF? And then there will be days where I will applaud their decisions. Wrestlemania, to me, was a solid one. Not perfect, but definitely an enjoyable one. Some of my favorite superstars got their deserving victories and the pyro was insane as always. A pretty cool moment was the intro and having the military send their choppers over Metlife at the conclusion of America the Beautiful. If you don’t feel American after that, GET OUT! I thank WWE for bringing their show close to home so I can have another Wrestlemania. And now we wait for the next big Mania. Even though next year will be Tampa’s year, I have my eye set on a more intense location. WWE hasn’t announced it, but we all know it’s coming. VEGAS BABY! Until next time, again thank you, from a 30 year fan.

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: He’s Paid His Dues. Now Let Him Cash In.

We’re a few days removed from the Elimination Chamber PPV which was, to say the least, very lackluster. I’m not too surprised since this was a throwaway event before Wrestlemania. For years, WWE Creative have struggled to keep B rated shows leading up to their flagship ppv interesting and compelling. I’m not here to defend the writers because there shouldn’t be an excuse for this. This wasn’t always the case, but that’s just the norm in today’s era. It’s sad that I can sit in front of the screen and predict the bulk of the outcome in a worst case scenario enviornment. For example, it was expected for Ronda Rousey to successfully defend her championship against Ruby Riott, that wasn’t the issue. But the way it was done was terrible for Riott’s character. So the writer’s solution was to have a rematch the next night? It was a waste of tv time that could’ve been used to elevate Fastlane and Mania, but I digress. That’s one of many flaws of Sunday’s show. I want to bring up a big positive from Elimination Chamber, which was the WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match and the MVP of that match, Kofi Kingston.

Originally, Kofi wasn’t even supposed to be a part of the title picture. That spot belonged to Mustafa Ali. But because of an injury, Ali needed to be replaced immediately and so enters Kingston. When they say grab the brass ring, not only did Kofi grab it, he ran all the way with it. He put on a fantastic performance on Smackdown Live just days before the ppv which caught the attention of the entire WWE universe. Now I, including the fans, were well aware of Kofi’s talents, but he stepped it up several notches and treated a television show as if he were headlining Wrestlemania. Fans not only requested, they demanded Kofi finally win the big one.

At Elimination Chamber, he didn’t disappoint with an encore performance that lead us to believe WWE management actually listened to the fans. When it was down to Bryan and Kingston, fans started to believe in Kofi’s time. They believed. I even believed after 11 years he was walking away with the title. But in the end, Daniel Bryan was literally one step ahead and ultimately won the match. While some fans were irate to see Kofi shafted again of the title, I was relieved. I didn’t want Kofi to win his first WWE Championship at a B-rated ppv. He deserves better. He deserves more. He should culminate his journey at the Show of Shows. But alas, WWE has put a potential wrench in those plans.

The good news: WWE heard their fans, somewhat, and have given Kofi a Championship match against Daniel Bryan. The bad news: it’s at the Fastlane ppv instead of Wrestlemania. Now while I did go on an epic rant last week regarding WWE’s inability to listen to the fans, I’m STILL holding out hope and would like to see this match end in controversy so that we get a rematch in Metlife with a decisive finish.

My idea: to have Daniel Bryan’s new bodyguard, Eric Rowan interfere in the match possibly disqualifying Bryan only after having a five star match, infuriating the fans (It’s a B ppv. Expect screwy finishes). This would set up a number 1 contender’s match between Kofi and Ali, the man originally scheduled to face off against Daniels. After a crazy back and forth contest, Kingston pick a up the win and punches his ticket to NY/NJ. We have a stipulation though. Eric Rowan must be banned from ringside or else Bryan loses the Championship. We have our one on one bout which goes for nearly half an hour (times not an issue) until FINALLY Kingston gets the three count and wins the WWE Championship for the first time in his 11 year career with WWE.

I’m not alone when I say Kofi Kingston deserves a run at the title. I’m not saying it has to be a lengthy run, but give the guy a chance. He’s held the IC, US, and Tag Team Titles. He gives the fans phenomenal Royal Rumble moments and he’s loyal AF towards the company. He travels everywhere, speaks on behalf of the company worldwide, and is a great role model. Meanwhile, where’s Brock Lesnar and the Universal Championship? Kofi’s time is long overdue and before he calls it a career, I would love to see him wear that Championship on his shoulder and no better place than Wrestlemania. Let’s make this happen WWE. You failed delivering in the women’s division, so let’s see you make it up in your flagship title.